Panicked Condition vs. Total Defense?

Rules Questions

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In the panicked condition, it says:

d20pfsrd wrote:
A panicked creature must drop anything it holds and flee at top speed from the source of its fear, as well as any other dangers it encounters, along a random path. It can't take any other actions. In addition, the creature takes a –2 penalty on all saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. If cornered, a panicked creature cowers and does not attack, typically using the total defense action in combat. A panicked creature can use special abilities, including spells, to flee; indeed, the creature must use such means if they are the only way to escape.

Does the bolded "cowers" mean the cowering condition?

d20pfsrd wrote:
The character is frozen in fear and can take no actions. A cowering character takes a –2 penalty to Armor Class and loses his Dexterity bonus (if any).

If so, the two statements are contradictory - a cowering creature cannot use the Total Defense action (it's a standard), since they can take no actions. How does this work?

no, it is just a descriptive word. It would say something like 'and gains the cowered condition'.

As I understand it, the affected creature does not cower until it exhausts its options to escape, which it tries to do every turn.

This implies that a panicked creature only gains "cowering" from the moment it perceives "being cornered" until its chance to act again on its next initiative (or end of the fear effect).

At the very least, a panicked creature needs to be afforded at least one chance(turn) to determine escape is impossible.

However, I do think panicked is in error regarding total defense (which is perhaps a 3.x legacy issue?) considering that it's not an action related to escaping the danger (although, the fact that total defense is called out may delimit this).

All things considered, I don't think it's game breaking to allow total defense as an option on their turn if they have previously determined further escape is perceptibly "impossible", but it certainly doesn't fit the flavor.

@dragonhunterq citation needed, I'm pretty confident the intent is that you gain the cowering condition

Annoying as it can be, a Panicked creature does not gain the Cowering condition and can use Total Defense. It's pretty explicitly stated there. "Cowering" is only imparted by a few special effects and spells.

If this is actually the case in PFRPG, it is indeed a legacy wording issue as 3.x mentions "cowers" in both the "Panicked" and "Turned" glossary entries, which is very suggestive that WotC's intent was that it references the Cowering condition. ( even hyperlinks both back up to cowering)

has there been any dev input when this has come up before?

Two for, two against. Which leads me to believe that nobody knows for sure, and I'd love a dev input.

Thank all y'all for answering. This just came up last session and I'm very curious what everyone's thoughts are on it.

"Cowering" is a condition repeatedly mentioned...but has no abilities (that I know of) that impart it.

In any event in this specific example you can total-defence while panicked as it explicitly allows you to do so. This would over-ride the limitations in cowering.

(and I make it 2:1 - Archaeik posted twice ;))

I concur with Dragonhunterq ... since the ability to take Total Defense is specifically called out, it would override the general rule of 'no actions'.

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