I didn't realize there was this much variation in how people interpret this!
Originally I ruled that class features were basically left alone. I'd penalize the attack/save/skill/ability rolls, the HP penalty Daniel mentioned as well as CL/Concentration/Spell Penetration checks, but leave max level spells, sneak attack/smite/bloodline powers etc. alone. Forcing people to recalculate sneak attack dice, weapon training bonuses or how many rage rounds they have left would be a massive pain in the ass for essentially no gain and something I had hoped to leave behind in 3.5. In that regard I completely agree with JJ that Negative Levels should be as easy as possible to use, not a chore where you have to tear down and then rebuild your character.
However, when my player challenged me to explain what things are and are not affected (several people at the table interpreted the rules differently) I really didn't have a good rules answer, and the more I dug into the rules the more frustrated I got. "That seems about right" is fine to say mid-session, but kind of flimsy as a foundation for a rules subsection that's used fairly frequently.QuidEst wrote:Touch of Idiocy is not a good comparison, mostly because it relies on express rules text in the spell to prevent casting. (Ability damage/penalty/drain is a mess in RAW.)This is a very good point, and one I had not considered. :)
Level dependent variable are something that is expressed as X*your level.Sneak attack isn't a level defendant variable, it is something you acquire when you reach level X. What you have is defined in the nice "special" column on the right of the class table. Same for bloodline powers, fighters armor and weapon training and so on.
Rage and perform round are borderline, you acquire them when you get your new level, they aren't a x value multiplied by your current level, so probably those too aren't touched by negative levels.