Do you need to re-enter a style every combat?


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Relevant text on style feats:

Quote:
As a swift action, you can enter the stance employed by the fighting style a style feat embodies. Although you cannot use a style feat before combat begins, the style you are in persists until you spend a swift action to switch to a different combat style. You can use a feat that has a style feat as a prerequisite only while in the stance of the associated style.

So the question: Do you have to activate your style every combat or do the styles persist between combats(and if so for how long do they stay activated)?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I've always understood it to be required every combat. Walking around all the time in a combat stance would probably be offputting to other characters.

Liberty's Edge

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/combat-style-master-combat

This is the feat you want!


It would be pretty odd to see someone just walking down the street while still using monkey style, or crane style, or snake style. The sorts of motions involved in those combat styles aren't really suited for "walking down the street efficiently".

So you should have to re-enter it every combat, unless you want people to think of you as the weird kung fu person.


You don't have to reactivate "not flat-footed" every combat, it happens automatically as part of becoming aware of combat. No reason you can't pop into a stance when you start combat like literally every martial artist in the world does.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
deuxhero wrote:
You don't have to reactivate "not flat-footed" every combat, it happens automatically as part of becoming aware of combat. No reason you can't pop into a stance when you start combat like literally every martial artist in the world does.

Um, yes. Becoming "not flat-footed" happens automatically. Entering a Style requires a swift action.


It might be unusual for someone to walk around town maintaining a combat stance, but it would only be reasonable to do in a dungeon or other high volume danger situation.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Possibly Relevant?


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Possibly Relevant?

Cra.. Goose style?


Not sure why people are so sure combat styles don't have (seemingly) casual walks in their routine.

Just doesn't make sense someone can enter combat yet not enter a stance as part of it either. Forcing characters to blow a swift action when entering a stance is just a nerf to martial characters for no particular reason.


There is a pretty strong inference that you cannot start combat in a stance. It won't be the first thing that doesn't make sense to someone.

FWIW I've dabbled a bit, and I am far from an expert but it makes sense in my limited experience. The stances and mind set of being combat ready are not something it is easy to maintain. It is something that takes 'dropping into'.

Scarab Sages

I've always seen it as 'combat styles last until combat is over.' That seems to be the intent. Some GMs are lenient and allow you to activate them outside of combat in appropriately tense situations.

Like, a pirate climbing up to the crow's nest on a perfectly normal day probably doesn't warrant Monkey style, but doing it during a storm when your ship is on the line probably does!

The intent seems to be that entering a style requires concentration and precise movements. And probably a lot of energy. Entering one for a fight is no big deal, but walking for miles and miles in one would probably wear on you mentally and physically.

Speaking as a guy who's done some martial arts, I remember that there is one style-stance-type thing I learned in Kyokushin Karate (helps you keep your balance). You are supposed to do it at all times when in a fight, in all stances, and it's easy to pull that off in a fight or during training or during sparing matches. However, I tried doing it when just walking around for a while and not only does it look super weird, it is also EXHAUSTING. You have to remember to keep it up while talking to your friends, finding a place to sit down for lunch, standing in line. It's also a horribly inefficient way of walking and I couldn't keep it up for more than 15-20 min. before I was both exhausted and my calves were sore for a few days after.

Not to mention it was really hard to do while just standing around. I mean, you don't think about it while just standing around, but you move a lot, re-adjusting your feet and everything slightly. Scooching in behind someone to get to a table, that sort of stuff. It was super hard to do that while practicing my 'balance-walk.'

As for requiring a swift action to drop into? Yeah, that seems reasonable. Entering that stance requires mentally psyching yourself up, adjusting your stance from 'casual walk' to 'fighting stance,' you have to get your hands into appropriate position. It's only really a problem if you are regularly using your swift actions (like Warpriests) or if you are nausiated.

Also, Pathfinder is supposed to be at least partially cinematic, and I can't help but think of all those Kung Fu movies where the martial artists have to do a little pose/dance thing to get ready for combat, or to switch styles. Like here

Liberty's Edge

the reason is both walking in a stance and because of the feat. Combat Style Master

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat wrote:

Combat Style Master (Combat)

You shift between combat styles, combining them to increased effect.

Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike, two or more style feats, base attack bonus +6 or monk level 5th.

Benefit: You can switch your style as a free action. At the start of combat, pick one of your styles. You start the combat in that style, even in the surprise round.

Normal: It takes a swift action to begin or switch your styles.


Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.

Scarab Sages

swoosh wrote:
Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.

The implication from style master is that you have to start a new stance every time combat starts, which requires a swift action UNLESS you have style master, which lets you do so in the surprise round and even if caught unawares.

The Exchange

There's a whole category of things that people sometimes want to be able to do with their characters that would provide a substantial boost to their combat effectiveness:

  • "Spar" with a friend for a round then stay in a combat style all day.
  • Use the witch fortune hex on your allies then cackle for the rest of the day.
  • Spend the entire day's travel moving their speed, then readying (to cast shield, or drink a mutagen) "if anyone attacks."

These are actions that are not explicitly disallowed. But if you look at them from the overall view of how combat an exploration happens it's pretty clear that it isn't how they are supposed to work. To take the "readying" example, why wouldn't you do that? In which case surprise rounds become irrelevant, since a readied action goes off first.

Even though "it doesn't say I can't" that doesn't mean you can. We need to look at the whole picture.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
VampByDay wrote:
swoosh wrote:
Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.
The implication from style master is that you have to start a new stance every time combat starts, which requires a swift action UNLESS you have style master, which lets you do so in the surprise round and even if caught unawares.

The feat actually doesn't make any case towards staying in a style outside of combat. It only speaks to the actions required to activate styles.


deuxhero wrote:
Not sure why people are so sure combat styles don't have (seemingly) casual walks in their routine.

Well, in my case,... because literally none of the combat styles I've practiced or seen have such walks.

The normal human walk is pretty ill-suited for combat, which is why every fighting art, from aikido and boxing up to fencing and US Army combatives, stresses footwork training as one of the basics. You're continuously off-balance and falling forward, and your hands are not anywhere useful.

The only thing the human walk has going for it is that it's energy-efficient, which means that you can keep it up, literally, all day, which is very useful if you're doing something that involves lots of motion, like a cop on the beat or a traveler. If you imagine doing this for six hours straight.... first, think of how tired you would be (notice that his legs never actually straighten, which is great for stability, but will exhaust your thighs in a remarkably short time), and second, think of how far you would travel..... You'd be lucky to be able to keep it up for an hour, or to cover 3 km in that time.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
The feat actually doesn't make any case towards staying in a style outside of combat. It only speaks to the actions required to activate styles.

The feat likely means that the master is practiced at entering the mindset/psyching themselves up so they can do it nigh-instantaneously, so there's even less reason for them to go shopping for groceries while in a combat style.

Which isn't to say that one couldn't refer to their monkey style training in order to get something off of a very high shelf, they'd just spend the action in a context where action economy doesn't really matter.


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Personally I find 'it doesn't make sense' to be a fairly poor argument, given that this is the rules subforum and Pathfinder has never been particularly realistic.

Quote:
Which isn't to say that one couldn't refer to their monkey style training in order to get something off of a very high shelf, they'd just spend the action in a context where action economy doesn't really matter.

Not true, you explicitly can't activate styles out of combat. It's one of the main arguments against styles persisting.


Bottom line is it doesn't explicitly state one way or the other. You are at the mercy of your GM.
The inferences that can be drawn, in my opinion, cumulatively lead to not being able to use styles out of combat.

In respect to 'nerfing martials' - the martials most likely to use style feats are the most likely to not be hard pressed on their swift actions.


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swoosh wrote:
Personally I find 'it doesn't make sense' to be a fairly poor argument.

I grant that, but "the rules don't say I can't" is an even worse one, since that assumes more or less the exact opposite of the Pathfinder design. Pathfinder is explicitly a system that tells you what you CAN do, not what you can't, so the implication to be drawn from silence is generally that what you want is not possible.

In general, the burden of proof (when we're talking about Pathfinder) is on the person who claims the capability to do something. Being able to show that it's physically possible is a nice first step in meeting that burden.


dragonhunterq wrote:
In respect to 'nerfing martials' - the martials most likely to use style feats are the most likely to not be hard pressed on their swift actions.

Monks have a lot of things they can spend swift actions on and they have the broadest access to styles there is, so I'd have to disagree there.

Orfamay Quest wrote:


I grant that, but "the rules don't say I can't" is an even worse one, since that assumes more or less the exact opposite of the Pathfinder design.

Oh I agree with you, but I think the language "the style you are in persists until you spend a swift action to switch to a different combat style" is compelling, because it explicitly spells out when style feats end and doesn't describe any other scenario in which they do.

Quote:
Pathfinder is explicitly a system that tells you what you CAN do, not what you can't, so the implication to be drawn from silence is generally that what you want is not possible.

When we're talking about enabling new behavior I agree with you completely, but this isn't quite that scenario. Here we have rules saying that you activate a feat with X and deactivate it with Y and then people assuming that the feat also turns off if Z happens even though the rules never even mention Z.

And it's that very silence that makes me wonder about this topic, because "your style automatically ends at the end of combat" is a fairly significant effect to just forget to mention.

Scarab Sages

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It's explicit in the opening statement that style feats cannot be used before combat starts. The line allowing you to remain in a stance once activated simply means you don't have to use your swift action each turn in combat to maintain it, because it is written in the context that style feats cannot be used outside of combat. Once a combat ends, you are implicitly before the next combat begins, and thus unable to maintain the style.


Ultimate Combat wrote:
As a swift action, you can enter the stance employed by the fighting style a style feat embodies. Although you cannot use a style feat before combat begins, the style you are in persists until you spend a swift action to switch to a different combat style. You can use a feat that has a style feat as a prerequisite only while in the stance of the associated style. For example, if you have feats associated with Mantis Style and Tiger Style, you can use a swift action to adopt Tiger Style at the start of one turn, and then can use other feats that have Tiger Style as a prerequisite. By using another swift action at the start of your next turn, you could adopt Mantis Style and use other feats that have Mantis Style as a prerequisite.

Its very clear in the opening statement for style feats.

Yes, you must spend an action to enter a style when combat begins, unless you have the feat that allows you to start combat in a style.


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What about Blinded Blade Style line of feats to have blindsense/blindsight and scent to avoid surprise from invisible creatures? Or gotta suffer the surprise attack, then after combat starts spend the swift action to pinpoint the location of the invisible creature?


I think you have to enter it each combat. But at the same time, I think you can also tell your GM, "My brawler is a master of the Flaming Goose Style. He'll always enter it as soon as combat begins."


from what I can tell Looks like to me at the beginning of your first turn you better spend that swift action.

The blinded blade style would be more like walking along not paying attention then igther you get surprised or someone makes perception check and then you enter the style as your about to engage in combat.


Tarantula wrote:


Its very clear in the opening statement for style feats.

I'm not sure I'd say 'very clear'. The section you bolded says you can't activate a style before combat starts, but the rules nowhere specify that your style turns off when combat ends.

Personally I've always thought the combat rule on styles was kind of goofy, especially for styles that have non-combat utility. "Hey throw a punch at me so I can get a bonus to climb checks" is a very weird thing to have to say, but that's neither here nor there.


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"You cannot use a style before combat begins". This leads to two possible interpretations. One is that there are conditions that force you to end the style, the other is that there are no such conditions.

If no conditions exist, then the only time you are not in a style is the period of time between when you learn the style, and the very first time a dire rat squeeks at you menacingly; from then on, you eat, shower, study and sleep in your Tiger Stance.

If conditions do exist, what are they? They are not explicitly listed in the introduction to style feats, so they must be inferred. "You cannot use a style before combat begins" refers to the state of "before combat begins", which logically rules out any time that you are in combat. I've also shown above, ad absurdum, that having previously been in combat (but currently reading a book) does not preclude you from this limitation. "Before combat begins" is thus synonymous with "when not in combat", and the limit against "using" applies to activation but also to no-action maintenance.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'd allow someone to enter a combat stance any time they wanted to... but anyone taking that to the extreme of being in a constant state of combat readiness (or even a significant fraction of each day) would suffer steadily increasing fatigue and mental health problems.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

It would be pretty odd to see someone just walking down the street while still using monkey style, or crane style, or snake style. The sorts of motions involved in those combat styles aren't really suited for "walking down the street efficiently".

So you should have to re-enter it every combat, unless you want people to think of you as the weird kung fu person.

You have to enter it every combat because staying in combat mode constantly is too dammed fatiguing. Combat mode is essentially running in high-adrenaline mode, it's not something that the body can take 24/7.


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swoosh wrote:

I'm not sure I'd say 'very clear'. The section you bolded says you can't activate a style before combat starts, but the rules nowhere specify that your style turns off when combat ends.

Personally I've always thought the combat rule on styles was kind of goofy, especially for styles that have non-combat utility. "Hey throw a punch at me so I can get a bonus to climb checks" is a very weird thing to have to say, but that's neither here nor there.

Initiative wrote:
At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check.

There's nothing that says initiative ends either. So by the same logic, you get 1 initiative check on the first combat, and that is forever your initiative.

That would also mean no one is ever flat-footed or surprised.

No one makes this argument with initiative, so why with styles?

I read the statement from styles like this. "You cannot use a style feat before combat begins" means, when you roll initiative, you are not using a style feat, because that is the beginning of combat.

Combat wrote:
1. When combat begins, all combatants roll initiative.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

swoosh wrote:
Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.

To me it directly answers your question.


James Risner wrote:
swoosh wrote:
Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.
To me it directly answers your question.

If combat style master wasn't designed specifically around weaving together multiple styles I'd agree with you. Given that it is I don't see it as particularly relevant.


swoosh wrote:
James Risner wrote:
swoosh wrote:
Combat style master is a nice feat but doesn't really have much to do with the question at hand.
To me it directly answers your question.
If combat style master wasn't designed specifically around weaving together multiple styles I'd agree with you. Given that it is I don't see it as particularly relevant.

Combat style master provides 2 benefits. 1) you can switch styles as a free action.

2) You can pick a style at the start of combat to start in, even in the surprise round.

Because 2 is a benefit of the feat, it is implied that you cannot start combat in a style without the feat.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

swoosh wrote:
If combat style master wasn't designed specifically around weaving together multiple styles I'd agree with you. Given that it is I don't see it as particularly relevant.

Cool thing is RAW is an interpreted thing. You don't have to agree it's relevant for it to be relevant.


Tarantula wrote:
Because 2 is a benefit of the feat, it is implied that you cannot start combat in a style without the feat.

I disagree. All 2 says is that you can pick a feat to start combat in. Given that CSM's entire focus is around mixing two styles, this is important because it lets you start combat, for instance, in a more defensively appropriate style and then switch to a more offensively oriented one on your turn.

James Risner wrote:


Cool thing is RAW is an interpreted thing. You don't have to agree it's relevant for it to be relevant.

I just think that you can't ignore the context of the feat and given that context it doesn't provide particularly compelling evidence toward this being a rule.


swoosh wrote:
Tarantula wrote:
Because 2 is a benefit of the feat, it is implied that you cannot start combat in a style without the feat.
I disagree. All 2 says is that you can pick a feat to start combat in. Given that CSM's entire focus is around mixing two styles, this is important because it lets you start combat, for instance, in a more defensively appropriate style and then switch to a more offensively oriented one on your turn.

That is exactly what it does. Without CSM you can't start in a style at all.


If you're able to start in a stance because of the feat then that would imply you couldn't already have been in a stance.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you cannot enter a style without entering combat, can you declare that you're entering combat to use a style? This is particularly pertinent with Blind Blade Style, where there are distinct reasons you would want to use the blindsense and blindsight outside of traditional combat.

Example: Suppose a Blinded Master (i.e. someone who has the entire 6 feat chain) is standing guard for a relatively short period and expecting intruders. Because this individual knows that there are things like invisibility, he would like to stand in a strategic location (a doorway, for example) and use blindsight to detect any intruders.

If you cannot willfully "declare combat" for the sake of using the feat, you are effectively stripped of all benefits outside of "we've rolled initiative." That seems extremely counterintuitive given the flavor of the feat.


Chess Pwn wrote:
If you're able to start in a stance because of the feat then that would imply you couldn't already have been in a stance.

The feat lets you pick which stance you start in, which implies otherwise you would have just been stuck with whichever stance you last used.


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GM decides when combat is, and no, you can't just start combat if you don't have an enemy. You need to be aware of an enemy and decide to attack it to start combat.

The feat lets you start combat in a style. You can't be in a style outside of combat. That's what, "you cannot use a style feat before combat begins" means.


swoosh wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
If you're able to start in a stance because of the feat then that would imply you couldn't already have been in a stance.
The feat lets you pick which stance you start in, which implies otherwise you would have just been stuck with whichever stance you last used.
Although you cannot use a style feat before combat begins, the style you are in persists until you spend a swift action to switch to a different combat style.

CSM lets you activate a style feat when combat begins, because you cannot use one before combat begins.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

So seems everyone except swoosh agree you can't be in a style before combat, even if it's the last style you had from last combat.


Tarantula wrote:

CSM lets you activate a style feat when combat begins, because you cannot use one before combat begins.

But that's the rub, you didn't use a style feat before combat began. You used the style feat in the previous combat and the rules state that you remain in that style until you spend a swift action to activate another.

James Risner wrote:
So seems everyone except swoosh agree you can't be in a style before combat, even if it's the last style you had from last combat.

I admit I'm mostly just arguing for the sake of it, but the point is that there is no text that says or even implies style feats turn off at the end of combat.

Either way, CSM doesn't help any argument because it's built around the concept of using two styles and changing between them, which makes it rather pointless to discuss when talking about a character using only a single style.


swoosh wrote:


I admit I'm mostly just arguing for the sake of it, but the point is that there is no text that says or even implies style feats turn off at the end of combat.

I have to disagree with you on half of this. I accept that there is no text stating this, but the implications are there. If they weren't, we wouldn't be disagreeing with you.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
swoosh wrote:
But that's the rub, you didn't use a style feat before combat began. You used the style feat in the previous combat and the rules state that you remain in that style until you spend a swift action to activate another.

If you used it in the previous combat, that by definition is before the current combat.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Risner wrote:
So seems everyone except swoosh agree you can't be in a style before combat, even if it's the last style you had from last combat.

Yes... except that I'd allow someone to 'enter combat' at pretty much any time. Even if they are just shadow boxing an imaginary opponent, there is no logical reason that these skills would be inaccessible except when some arbitrary level of physical opposition is present.

On the other hand, I'd also have any character trying to remain in a combat ready state for extended periods suffer from profound exhaustion and deteorating mental health.


CBDunkerson wrote:
James Risner wrote:
So seems everyone except swoosh agree you can't be in a style before combat, even if it's the last style you had from last combat.

Yes... except that I'd allow someone to 'enter combat' at pretty much any time. Even if they are just shadow boxing an imaginary opponent, there is no logical reason that these skills would be inaccessible except when some arbitrary level of physical opposition is present.

On the other hand, I'd also have any character trying to remain in a combat ready state for extended periods suffer from profound exhaustion and deteorating mental health.

Yeah, as far as combat styles go I'd agree wholeheartedly with this. Means that Blind Blade style is still functional outside of actual battle when it matters, but walking around in Mantis all day is going to look stupid and exhaust you. Pretty much as you'd expect.

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