A friend of mine from a different RPG subculture wants to have us all make level 20 characters for an arena fight, using 3.5 rules with back-porting of Pathfinder material allowed. We've tried to explain to him why this is a bad idea, but he's set on it and unflappably convinced that it will go fine, so we're giving it a shot.

In the context of this scenario, I'm making a 20th level factotum (cause someone else already called the god-Cleric and I've never found Batman to be that fun to play/make). Since inspiration is refreshed at the beginning of each encounter, it is desirable that I be able to force an encounter to begin or end vis a via some sort of character ability.

I'm not looking for abilities that cause an encounter to end because the encounter is actually finished-- abilities that instantly kill all enemies with no saving throw, for example, are insufficient. I'm looking for abilities (or rules that abilities might trigger) that explicitly state "The encounter ends" or "This ends combat" or "The affected character is removed from the encounter" or similar.

Since beginning an encounter is what provides inspiration, abilities that reference encounters that way, allowing me to start a new encounter with one in progress, could also work.

Since I'm taking at least 19 levels of Factotum, answers shouldn't suggest abilities that require more than a single level dip in a class.

The GM has also decided that CR= total LA, except when a LA is listed in which that that LA = total LA, so if there's a CR 0-1 or LA 0-1 creature (regardless of HD), that could work.

Since I'm taking levels in Factotum, all my feats are in Font of Inspiration. Like, all of them. Anything that would cost a feat or change my race from Human needs to explain how doing so is worth the inspiration it costs. With 8 feats in Font of Inspiration, losing a single feat costs me 8 Inspiration points per encounter. The only thing so far worth not putting the feat in for is the Pathfinder Hero Point System, which would allow me an extra feat if I declare myself an antihero, but our team's Cleric is grabbing a custom magic item of at-will Greater Glyph of Warding and one of at-will Mass Heroic Fortune and access to that sort of hero point supply is sufficient to trump the inspiration from the feat.

So, that said, how can I best cause an encounter to technically begin or end?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What house rules has the DM implemented to make the factotum playable? That is, beginning an encounter causes a factotum to gain inspiration points, but ending an encounter doesn't cause a loss of inspiration points, so starting the arena battle with nigh infinite inspiration points should be RAW thing (assuming the gods didn't make these level 20 PCs moments before for their amusement or something). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2017 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan inspiration caps out at whatever the per-encounter total is, according to this DM. I'm not sure where he gets this idea from but for social reasons I'm not asking about it anymore. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2017 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


There just isn't an explicit definition of when an encounter begins or ends. This is one of the ways in which Factotum is badly phrased and underspecified.

The closest you'll get to such a definition is in Tome of Battle, which also has "per encounter" abilities but does specify exactly when those refresh:

End of the Encounter: When an encounter ends, a martial adept automatically recovers all expended maneuvers. Even a few moments out of combat is sufficient to refresh all maneuvers expended in the previous battle. In the case of a long, drawn-out series of fights, or if an adept is out of combat entirely, assume that if a character makes no attacks of any kind, initiates no new maneuvers, and is not targeted by any enemy attacks for 1 full minute, he can recover all expended maneuvers. If a character can't avoid attacking or being attacked for 1 minute, he can't automatically recover his maneuvers and must use special actions to do so instead.

Unfortunately, TOB only defines how TOB maneuvers refresh, it doesn't claim to be a general-purpose definition of "per encounter". So that's a precedent, but applying it Factotum would be a matter of DM interpretation, not something that's unambiguously correct.

Skill Tricks from Complete Scoundrel are also "per encounter", and are also badly underspecified, but might be slightly informative:

Unless otherwise noted, a skill trick can be performed only once per encounter (or once per minute, for scenes that don't involve combat or other conflict). This restriction sets skill tricks apart from feats and class features, which are often repeatable.

So that agrees with TOB about the 1 minute timespan, but doesn't specify what it takes to separate yourself from a battle enough to count as a different "scene".


You can’t, at least not without DM support.

There is no hard-and-fast rule for when encounters begin, or when they end. Factota and Tome of Battle initiators are particularly awkward for this reason; in many cases (most dungeons, say), it’s pretty clear, but it can get murky—and while an arena would usually be one of the most straight-forward cases, you are intentionally looking to introduce some murkiness to things.

Basically, the only chance you have here is to either leave the arena (assuming that this isn’t a forfeit, which it is in most arena games in my experience), or else render yourself sufficiently separated from your opponent that it’s clearly you aren’t actively fighting one another. In both cases, a DM could very well say that you are still in the encounter until the match is over, that is, that the match itself is the encounter and the only way for the encounter to end is for the match to be decided one way or the other. But maybe you can convince the DM to allow a rope trick or similar to count as still “in the match” while being sufficiently apart that you are no longer in “combat mode” and inspiration should refresh.


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