Level Up (A5E) Maneuvers Again: RAW, RAI and Reasonable Rulings

seriphim84

Explorer
I have read through several threads regarding related subjects but I am hoping to get down to the core of this issue:

Many maneuvers that take an action. "Using a combat maneuver requires spending one or more exertion points and either a bonus action, reaction, or action."
Many also say that using them requires taking another action. For example: "When you activate this technique, you take the Attack action" or "You take the Dodge action".
This of course, is no small problem given that "On your turn, you typically have an action, a bonus action, and your movement." and nothing in the maneuvers grant the ability to take a second action on your turn. Yes, you could argue that the fact that a Maneuver says to take x action is itself granting the ability to use additional actions, however, that isn't supported by any other ability that grants additional actions, nor is it specified in the rules for Maneuvers or in the maneuvers themselves. It is possible it is intended to work that way, but it is never defined.

It seems to me, Rules As Written, you can't use these maneuvers at all. That of course, wouldn't be the intended rules. But I see no way around it by RAW. Open to being wrong though if anyone can show where it specifies it.

The intended rules are a lot murkier though. I have a player who thinks that it is intended to grant additional actions. Arguing for, what they view as a plain reading of the rules. While I can see where they are coming from, and even assumed the same when I first read these rules, I don't think that is the case. If, for example, it was meant to actually have you take a full attack action, why would it specify that you gain extra attacks, that would be assumed because it is already clearly laid out in the attack action segment and each class's abilities. In addition, it creates numerous interactions that disagree with the core concepts of the game, like not having turns last 20 minutes to roll 8 to 16 checks in a single turn. Heck, A5e got rid of the Fighter action surge, which has just that same type of problem. In addition, various abilities are rendered useless if that is the case, which I have to assume would not be desired, otherwise, why make them? For example, it would be cheaper for an adept to use Stunning assault rather than stunning fist when they are using flurry of blows or two-weapon fighting.

My belief is that the intended effect was that it is shorthand, phrases already used so that they don't have to be explained over and over again. They don't intend for the actual actions to be used, but instead for the effects of those actions to take place. For example, Striding swings doesn't actually use the attack action but allows you to make the number of attacks as if you have. Flowing form gives you the effects of dodge but you don't take the action themselves. You don't count as having actually taken those actions because you did a maneuver instead. This creates obvious limitations, like you can't use two weapon fighting after using a maneuver. It brings many maneuvers in line with the others or with other abilities in the game.

All of that being said, I have three questions for fellow GMs/Players.
1. Did I miss something, RAW or RAI?
2. How do you interpret the rules at your table? And how does it affect your game (especially at higher levels, as my game is going to 20)?
3. What house rules do you have in place for maneuvers in general or for any specific maneuvers?
 

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noodohs

Explorer
I also can't find a specific ruling, but I would say that it simply works like this: when you use a maneuver, you do whatever it says you do as part of the maneuver. This is an important distinction for a few reasons. First, you are using a maneuver, not an attack action, so the maneuver replaces your entire action, bonus action, or reaction. Second, you still do whatever action it says you do, so if it says you take an attack action specifically, that means that anything that interacts with an attack action applies. If, on the other hand, it says you make a melee weapon attack (but not that you take an attack action), then you just get that one attack. There's a thread on here from before about how extra attack interacts with maneuvers and it might be worth a read for you.
 

Pedantic

Legend
I don't understand the hand wringing about "extra actions" here, some maneuvers cost an action, and then direct you to take another action. All normal rules still apply to the second action, I don't see why a special rules case is necessary.

Your Stunning Assault example is additive, not overlapping. An adept could burn through exertion to try for a stun a lot of times if they felt so inclined.
 

Deadstop

Explorer
Aren’t some spells phrased like that as well? I read it as “When you use this maneuver, you take an Attack (or whatever) action,” as in “the action that the maneuver uses is also an Attack action with these parameters.” You could also read it as “The maneuver takes an action but then gives you an Attack action with these parameters,” as Pedantic says. But either way, you don’t get EXTRA actions, nor does the maneuver take up your action and leave no room for you to actually do the thing it says.
 

Raven Nash

Villager
As I understand and run it., Action, Reaction, Bonus action are the TRIGGER for the respective maneuver. So, you take the Attack action and therefore trigger a certain maneuver which grants additional EFFECTS to the attack.
It's the same as with a Shield-spell using a Reaction, or a Misty Step using a Bonus action. You have to "invest" the respective action to trigger the effect.
 

I have read through several threads regarding related subjects but I am hoping to get down to the core of this issue:

Many maneuvers that take an action. "Using a combat maneuver requires spending one or more exertion points and either a bonus action, reaction, or action."
I think this is where all problems come from. This sentence just means that each maneuver has a cost in terms of action economy that is specified by the maneuver description itself.
Many also say that using them requires taking another action. For example: "When you activate this technique, you take the Attack action" or "You take the Dodge action".
Take this one, for instance. It says "when you activate this technique". It doesn't say that you need to spend an action to do so. You just activate this technique, and WHEN you do it, you "take the Attack action" or the Dodge action, and apply all the effects specified by the description of the technique

Since you cannot take more than one Attack action (normally), you can't use the wording of this maneuver to get more Attack actions, because the maneuver doesn't grant you any extra actions. So if you already used the Attack action and THEN activated this maneuver, you'd just waste exertion, because you cannot activate the Attack action again. So you wouldn't activate this maneuver at all, if you already took an Attack action.

I think 99% of the issues with interpretation of 5E/A5E rules comes from the fact that the tag/keyword systems used in previous editions were abandoned in favor of prose text. This may make rulebooks superficially easier to read, but effectively less clear to run and adjudicate.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I must admit I’ve never come across that reading of the rules before. For clarification, here is what it means:

The first phrase tells you that every maneuver costs one of those things.

The second phrase tells you which one.
 

seriphim84

Explorer
oh wow, cool. I didn't expect to get a staff member clarifying. thanks! That clears it up! I guess I will just have to keep dealing with it that way.

Also thanks to everyone else for your input and clarification. As lichmaster mentioned, I am probably to use to the clearer tags of older systems and overthinking it. Stills seems... unbalanced but that is the nature of the the TTRPG beast lol.

Um, Morris, since you stopped in....
Is Devoted assault meant to be able to grant additional attack actions in a turn, potentially several? That seems to be the base reading but I wanted to ask.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Is Devoted assault meant to be able to grant additional attack actions in a turn, potentially several? That seems to be the base reading but I wanted to ask.
My reading of that is that on a critical hit you can spend exertion to use am action/bonus action maneuver.
 

Pedantic

Legend
oh wow, cool. I didn't expect to get a staff member clarifying. thanks! That clears it up! I guess I will just have to keep dealing with it that way.

Also thanks to everyone else for your input and clarification. As lichmaster mentioned, I am probably to use to the clearer tags of older systems and overthinking it. Stills seems... unbalanced but that is the nature of the the TTRPG beast lol.

I don't want to necessarily hold up the maneuver system as a paragon of balance, but I'm not sure in what sense you mean unbalanced. You seem to be comparing inputs, instead of the actual resulting turns. Does it matter if the fighter takes the Dangerous Strikes action, then another attack action, or if instead dangerous strikes was written as a once per round free action that modified all attacks for the round?
 

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