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Elf Wizard FCB


Rules Questions

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Quote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

The reading seems to imply that the elf could

a) Add a level 1 power from a different school than his own.

b) Add level 1 powers despite having picked up an archetype that denies him a school.

Any of that true?


Trish Megistos wrote:
Quote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

The reading seems to imply that the elf could

a) Add a level 1 power from a different school than his own.

b) Add level 1 powers despite having picked up an archetype that denies him a school.

Any of that true?

No, the arcane power of a different school is not "normally usable" by that wizard so he can't select it.


No, in the same way a Human Barbarian doesn't gain the bonus from the superstitious rage power unless they select that power.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

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This just says "Pick a 1st level school power you possess that has 3+Int uses/day" gain +1/2.


So that "normally usable" applies to being already usable rather than trying to further describe what sort of power is meant. In a linguistics course this is the kind of things they'd call an undecidability.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Trish Megistos wrote:
So that "normally usable" applies to being already usable rather than trying to further describe what sort of power is meant. In a linguistics course this is the kind of things they'd call an undecidability.

I'm not entirely certain what you mean, but if you mean that it is limited the scope to the 3+Int/day and excluding the 1/day and continuous bloodline powers, then yes.


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Trish Megistos wrote:
So that "normally usable" applies to being already usable rather than trying to further describe what sort of power is meant. In a linguistics course this is the kind of things they'd call an undecidability.

This game is written for linguist to try to over analyze the meaning of the sentence. It's written for people to try to use common sense to understand the context of the ability, not as some legal document.

Dark Archive

The way it's written could seem to mean that you can pick ANY school power, even for a school you didn't select as your specialization school.
However, I don't think that's the intent of the ability. I believe it probably should have been written more to the effect of:
"Select one 1st level arcane school power for the school you have chosen as your specialization school that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power."

That's almost certainly not the best way to phrase that, but I think it gets the point across a little better.

Scarab Sages

Trish Megistos wrote:
Quote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

The reading seems to imply that the elf could

a) Add a level 1 power from a different school than his own.

b) Add level 1 powers despite having picked up an archetype that denies him a school.

Any of that true?

I see your point, but I don't think that's the intention. I also don't think most GMs would allow this.

That said, I'm not seeing anything hugely broken you could do with this, should this be allowed. I think I'd rather have the bonus HP or Skill point.


@James Risner
My reading was that the "a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier" is a descriptor to what types of first level powers are applicable.

@Ectar
Indeed. That was probably their intent too: trading off clarity for readability.

@Murdock Mudeater
I would have (mostly based on the way I first read it), don't think it would be too much of game changer either, though picking Teleportation and a couple of uses of Versatile Evocation (or the other way around) certainly would be nice.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Even if you read it the most generous way (i.e. you can pick ANY power and gain more uses of it) it wouldn't help you.

Getting more uses of a power is NOT the same as getting the power.

If you were to take a FCB to get an extra use of the Shift power from the teleportation school, you would be able to use your shift power one more time each day. However, you don't have the shift power, so you don't have anything that you can do with that 'use'.


@Dave Justus
A generous reading of that rule would (naturally) include the power with the use. Quite frankly I've never heard someone getting the use of something without the capability of using it.

In the end, my key issue with the writing of this FCB is the word "select". Under which circumstance would you possibly have to select which "1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier" you'd have to pick?

As an arcanist having picked up several school understandings that decides to dabble (at least 2 levels) into wizard. I guess one could find additional use for it as an exploiter wizard with earlier mentioned school understandings, though I certainly have my doubts that the writing of the FCB foresaw the Arcanist and the Exploiter Wizard (from Advanced Class Guide in 2014).

Here are the relevant quotes from both printings.

1st printing, August 2010 wrote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modif ier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.
2nd printing, December 2010 wrote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modif ier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

As you can see they are identical, moreover identical to the one found on d20pfsrd.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Trish Megistos wrote:

@Dave Justus

A generous reading of that rule would (naturally) include the power with the use. Quite frankly I've never heard someone getting the use of something without the capability of using it.

Typically you are correct, in that an ability that requires uses comes with uses.

The FCB doesn't give you an ability though, it ONLY gives you uses. If you choose uses for an ability you don't have, then obviously those uses would be irrelevant.

You are certainly correct that in most cases the choice is pretty easy, as you only have one single viable option to select.


@Dave Justus
Would be awesome if you could point me to some example where that isn't the case. Some feat or ability that doesn't have the "power" as a prerequisite and just gives you uses, but denies the usage of them.

If there is only one possible choice, there is no selection.
They could have said: add additional uses to your 1st level school power (you know, the one that can be "normally used" with 3 + INT mod uses): that would have been plenty clear.

I'd hope that a company that specializes on writing books, particularly rule books, should not commit that kind of oversight.

Most schools come with two level 1 powers. One has 3 +INT mod uses, the other just applies whenever the prerequisites are met.

Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally [as when given by your chosen school] usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier [differentiating from the other 1. level school power]. [Now here comes the exception] The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that [notice here how it doesn't say "his"] arcane school power.


They probably wanted to cover themselves in case they ever did some sort of dual-school archetype. As it is, the "select" language is potentiallyly misleading, but it seems to me probably not intended to grant access to completely new powers.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Question is, do you really need extra uses of, say, your teleportation power more than an extra hit point per level? Maybe you do, if you dumped your CHA. Otherwise, I'm just not seeing it.


@Wheldrake
Exactly, however not having the teleportation power through your school, one or two daily uses of it could be worth 2 or 4 hitpoints.

@qaplawjw
What is the basis for this reading, where do you draw the intention from if not from the written rules? If they deliberately leave the door open for this kind of interpretation, then there is no reason not to take it.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

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Trish Megistos wrote:

@Dave Justus

Would be awesome if you could point me to some example where that isn't the case. Some feat or ability that doesn't have the "power" as a prerequisite and just gives you uses, but denies the usage of them.

You mean like taking Racial Heritage (Kobold) and Tail Terror, to gain an attack with your tail. But since you don't have one and Tail Terror doesn't give you a tail, you don't get the attack.

Also like taking Spell Penetration on a fighter. You don't gain spell casting.

Anyway, you seem determined to defend your interpretation. As a result, we arrive at table variance. Something you should bring up with your GM when you use a power of a school you don't have except via the FCB.


A GM is not obligated to allow alternate racial FCB:

APG pg. 9 wrote:
As with any alternate or optional rule, consult with your GM to determine whether exchanging normal favored class benefits for those in this chapter will be allowed.

So while you can play the RAW (read as written) card here ('but it's possible according to the writing!'), the GM can too.

When it comes to RAI (read as intended), this example is interesting:

ARG pg. 33 wrote:

The following options are available to all gnomes who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the class reward.

(...)
Monk: Add +1 to the monk’s Acrobatics check bonus gained by spending a point from his ki pool. A monk must be at least 5th level to select this benefit.

So while this wording is not totally nitpicky-proof (it doesn't demand a ki pool and the option to spend ki on high jump, just a level), the intention seems clear to me: You need the class feature you are building on with your FCB.


You are not factoring in the mythic rules. Flexible School give you school powers from another school. A mythic elven wizard with flexible school has two school powers that are usable 3+ INT times per day.


When the text says "Select an arcane school power that is normally usable 3+INT times per day" it means "Select an arcane school power that your character is normally able to use 3+INT times per day". Since your character cannot normally use an arcane school power he/she does not possess 3+INT times per day you can't select it.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Another point, which I had forgotten until now, is that favored class bonuses can't enhance things you don't have. So you can't get more duration on a revelation you don't have for example.

This wasn't clear to everyone, it was detected during the oracle animal companion favored class issue (before they reduced it from 1/2 to 1/6). Because some were taking it starting at 1st also, they added a line to one of the occult books making it clear you can't take a FCB option for an ability you don't have. If you don't have the ability, you can't take this to extend it by 1/2.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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I love how this section of the message boards highlights ambiguities that never occurred to me. I would always have interpreted that as applying to the power for the school you already selected, and will continue to apply that in my own home games, but the OP has shown me a different interpretation that is not explicitly wrong within the text given. It reminds me how clear I really have to be when writing my own game rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Christopher Dudley wrote:
... but the OP has shown me a different interpretation that is not explicitly wrong within the text given.

I applaud the sentiment, but as many posters above have already noted, this wider interpretation *is* explicitly wrong according to the text of the elven wizard FCB:

Elven wizard FCB wrote:
Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

It's really hard not to interpret "that is normally usable" as meaning "that is normally usable by this character as a function of the arcane school choices he has made". Without this interpretation, it's very hard to figure out what the word "normally" is supposed to mean.

This, in addition to the precedent set by many other FCBs that you can't actually select an FCB until you possess the power that it augments.

So if a given DM really wants to allow his players to cherry pick arcane school powers that he didn't choose to take, well, sure, rule zero and all that, eh? But it's certainly not in accordance with the RAW.


James Risner wrote:
This just says "Pick a 1st level school power you possess that has 3+Int uses/day" gain +1/2.

That's most likely the meaning, but you wonder why they didn't just say it that way in the first place. It would even be less characters. It's like they went out of their way to use misleading language.


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Trish Megistos wrote:

...

I'd hope that a company that specializes on writing books, particularly rule books, should not commit that kind of oversight.
...

I remember when I was new to Pathfinder. Welcome!


@James Risner
Not actually uses. It says you can make tail attacks with your tail. You have no tail.
Metamagic feats change already existing spells, doesn't give you uses of spells.
Different ball park.
In the other case it's a duration, not an use of that power. As far as I can gather from your comment, this was addressed and made clear. I have no such information on the Elf Wizard FCB.

@SheepishEidolon
Of course not, except he already allowed them.
The monk can certainly pick it without a ki pool, he just can't use it, since it explicitly states it requires spending a ki point. I'm not really versed enough to know if there are archetypes without a ki pool.

@Mysterious Stranger
The Elf FCB has, as previously stated predated the Arcanist and more importantly, the Exploiter Wizard. It hasn't been subject to an errata either as far as I can tell.

@ArmchairDM
Where do you read that? How do you know that this is the intention?

@Wheldrake
Based on what evidence? That sentence is equally valid on both interpretations.

I'll try to break down the alternative reading again.

The "normally" is (or rather could be) a descriptor of which of the (typically two) first level powers are meant, namely those with limited uses. Implies the conclusion that gaining uses of these powers via FCB is not how it's "normally" done.

@Melkiador

Quote:

It's like they went out of their way to use misleading language.

Exactly.

@Gish
How about I'm gonna commit them to their oversight.


I know that is the intent because these are options for "your character". The rules are not written in legalese and should not need to be so specific as to spell out that the ability normally usable 3+int per day is meaning one your character can use 3+int per day.

You need to ask yourself how would the average person interpret this. Judging from the posts here it is easy to see that most people interpret this as to only applying to an arcane school you already possess.

There is no oversight. The rules are written so that the average reader is going to understand it a certain way. The vast majority understand this particular wording perfectly well. I think you are being a bit overly critical of the wording here.

You say you are going to commit them to their oversight. Well you aren't going to get the Paizo to change the text since most people find it perfectly fine and with all due respect, and I'm not trying to accuse you of anything, but if a player came to my table and tried to commit me as a GM to your interpretation of the wording of this text they would simply be asked to leave as I would assume they are trying to be deliberately difficult and are either trying to get something they shouldn't or just arguing for the sake of arguing. Again I'm not saying that is what you are doing but just that is how it could come across.


@ArmchairDM
Actually, I need to ask myself: What does this sentence mean and as consequence what are the possible interpretations. I don't really know how I couldn't possibly imagine how the "average" person would read this, I only grammar and vocabulary and semantics. And I find that it coincides with both readings. I also generally think that language should be used in a way that limits misunderstandings.
And why wouldn't I think of this as a rulebook? The very first I read is called the Core Rulebook and this sub forum is called rules questions.

Furthermore, I definitely do not agree that meaning is derived from average understanding but rather analysis of the written word. In the end, these are guidelines to the GM on how to rule on certain issues and you're definitely free to do so as you please.

As for the committing remark, it was a quip towards being welcomed to the forum, as in not understanding that his type of thing isn't exactly rare.

I realize intonation (or intent really) isn't part of the written word but I didn't really wanna portray myself as some self-righteous force of justice or whatever, I meant it to be funny. I guess it was not.


It is a rulebook but not one written for grammar, vocabulary and semantic experts. This isn't some literature course where we are poring over every little word choice of the author. We get it, you are extremely well educated about these things.

I was only interested in helping someone who had a legitimate question about how something in the game worked. Now that I see that this was really intended to be an argumentative analysis of linguistic minutiae I will see myself out.


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A little tip that I have learned with Pathfinder:

If you read an option and you think there are multiple interpretations on how it could work, assume it is the least powerful of the options and you will usually be correct.

That you came here and questioned your understanding means you suspected that it possibly wasn't the correct interpretation, that feeling is (in my experience) usually correct.

Scarab Sages

Claxon wrote:

A little tip that I have learned with Pathfinder:

If you read an option and you think there are multiple interpretations on how it could work, assume it is the least powerful of the options and you will usually be correct.

That you came here and questioned your understanding means you suspected that it possibly wasn't the correct interpretation, that feeling is (in my experience) usually correct.

Least useful is contextual and has not proven a relaible method for me. Though I tend to think outside the box, so it could just be me, I've not found any consistency with rulings.

As far as I can tell, we have basically three rulings given to any one rule. You have the stay silent rule, the quick glance rule, and the lots of reading rule. The Stay silent rule is where you just write it on the character sheet and don't really get a ruling until someone questions your character build (which doesn't always happen). The quick glance rule is more what the majority people commonly remember the rules to be and can gleam while skimming, but not always what is actually written. Then we have the lots of reading rule, which is mainly these forums and results in a very complicated answer, that often doesn't really answer the question in a complete manner. And there's no consistency on which method is best or even prefered.


@Claxon
First time I read it I thought it to be applying to your school only as well, but then I read it again, and now I'm convinced that the more coherent reading is the interpretation that you can select any school.

@Murdock Mudeater
The stay silent rule seems rather dishonest. I guess the quick glance rule is better in terms of game fluidity, during the actual role playing. But in the end, wouldn't it be the lots of reading rule? In theory it should provide you with a more founded answer which you can look over and discuss while not at the table.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

However coherent it sounds, I'm very confident it's coincidence coherent and unintended.


What do you base that confidence on? Tradition? Precedence?


If applying the FCB to an ability you don’t have is allowed, and that grants you the class ability it opens a can of worms. This means a human ranger who chooses hunters bond companions can gain an animal companion by taking the favored class bonus of +1 skill point or +1 HP. It also allows elven clerics to gain an extra domain power. It would also allow character to regain class abilities traded away by archetypes to regain that ability. You could also gain multiple abilities by choosing a different school power every time.

Then there is the fact that if you don’t have the school ability it is not usable 3+ INT modifier times per day. If I am a conjurer I can use Acid Dart 3+ INT modifier times per day. But how many uses of Versatile Evocation do I get? 0 != 3+ INT modifier.


@Mysterious Stranger
Apples and oranges.
The Ranger FCB doesn't grant uses of Animal Companion (however that would work). It grants an existing companion a bonus to HP or skill points.
The cleric seems to work out fine.
Like an exploiter wizard picking up uses of versatile evocation or shift. The real draw of the school is the additional spells per level though. There are also further school powers you'd miss out on.
And why would it be a problem to have different one use powers once a day?

Quote:
Then there is the fact that if you don’t have the school ability it is not usable 3+ INT modifier times per day. If I am a conjurer I can use Acid Dart 3+ INT modifier times per day. But how many uses of Versatile Evocation do I get? 0 != 3+ INT modifier.

I'm having trouble understanding this sentence.

Does != mean: "is not"?


Trish Megistos wrote:

@Mysterious Stranger

Apples and oranges.
The Ranger FCB doesn't grant uses of Animal Companion (however that would work). It grants an existing companion a bonus to HP or skill points.
The cleric seems to work out fine.
Like an exploiter wizard picking up uses of versatile evocation or shift. The real draw of the school is the additional spells per level though. There are also further school powers you'd miss out on.
And why would it be a problem to have different one use powers once a day?

Quote:
Then there is the fact that if you don’t have the school ability it is not usable 3+ INT modifier times per day. If I am a conjurer I can use Acid Dart 3+ INT modifier times per day. But how many uses of Versatile Evocation do I get? 0 != 3+ INT modifier.

I'm having trouble understanding this sentence.

Does != mean: "is not"?

Sorry that computer programing syntax for is not so in English 0 is not 3+ INT modifier.


The issue here of course is that by the school descriptions don't say you gain the power of Versatile Evocation or something along the line, it just names them, describes them and tells you how many uses you get.

With the FCB you select one of these selectable powers and get half an use of it that otherwise operates as described.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
0 != 3+ INT modifier.

This sums up why the OP is wrong.


What it really comes down to is that unless you actually have the school ability you cannot select it as a favored class bonus. Assuming you wizard has an 18 INT you have 7 uses of your school ability. In order to choose the ability as a favored class bonus you have to have 7 uses of that ability.

Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +½ to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.

If I am a conjuration specialist I have 7 uses of Acid dart. But I have 0 uses of the admixture’s Versatile Evocation. Since I do not have the required uses for versatile evocation I cannot select it as a FCB.


Since my previous attempts at explaining the second interpretation failed, there is no recourse but to try again.

Normally in the sense that you can already use a 1st level arcane school power usable 3+INT mod.
Though the question arises, why would they chose normally rather than already?

or

Normally in the sense that you select a 1st level arcane school power that under "normal" circumstances, that is if you had picked the corresponding school would be available to you with 3+INT mod uses.
Essentially further describing which level 1 arcane school power you can pick.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Trish Megistos wrote:
Since my previous attempts at explaining the second interpretation failed, there is no recourse but to try again.

It's not that your attempt at an explanation failed. It's that your argument is demonstrably incorrect.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
What it really comes down to is that unless you actually have the school ability you cannot select it as a favored class bonus.

Many references to this counter-argument have been made further up in the thread, as well as several concrete examples. Perverse side-effects have also been demonstrated.

So, Trish, if you can convince your DM, more power to you. But I don't see anyone here (or any concrete examples or sources) to corroborate your over-liberal interpretation of the word "normally".


Trish Megistos wrote:
Since my previous attempts at explaining the second interpretation failed, there is no recourse but to try again.

There is another option: Accept the common opinion as it is. You asked a question, most answers were 'No', and you are still trying to establish your opinion. I am not sure whether you a) enjoy discussing for its own sake or b) want to 'win' the discussion by all means. Or maybe c) you want some appreciation for your find.

And I guess that you will claim all three options are absolutely not true.

Either way, a) might work out for you, for a while. As I know these forums, I wouldn't bet on b) or c) though.


@Wheldrake
The only source is the FCB text. Is anyone actually denying that it can also be read the way I'm trying to put forward? Demonstrably how?

The only "perverse side-effect", which is neither perverse nor a side effect, I see is the similarly worded Elf Cleric Domain FCB. Now here's the funny thing. I'm actually the - first time, you may have noticed - DM so I'm trying to find a good argument to why it shouldn't work, because I'm inclined to allow it (though I would forbid opposition school powers and now that I know that it also works for clerics only to domains of your deity).
Wait, did you mean perverse as in a perversion, that is a reversal of the "true" meaning? I guess that comes down to intent which I still have no clue how you'd figure that this would be the true intent. Tradition? Popular opinion?
It has been mentioned before that less powerful interpretation should prevail, but I prefer the more interesting interpretation and reward clever players with agency.

@SheepishEidolon
For a large part of the discussion I was met with people not understanding the argument (which I had assumed to be immediately imminent given the less than definitive wording of the rule) I was trying to make. Some that did, said they didn't think this was the intention.
My question is really about how can you know intention when all you have is the written word?
What I would want though is for FAQ or errata, though I'm sure that wouldn't happen.

Anyway, I guess there's not much of a point in continuing this debate and thanks to all of you for your participation.

Shadow Lodge

You need to have an ability before you can put favored class bonuses towards it: ie, a level 1 rogue can't even start working towards their talent till second level.

Likewise an elf that doesn't have hand of the apprentice can't work on something they don't have.


Trish Megistos wrote:

@Claxon

First time I read it I thought it to be applying to your school only as well, but then I read it again, and now I'm convinced that the more coherent reading is the interpretation that you can select any school.

Remember that handy rule I mentioned above? Your second understanding would be the multiple interpretation that is stronger and therefore less likely to be correct.

You can keep arguing for this interpretation Trish, but no one agrees with you.

I think the only way you will be satisfied is if a developer came and directly told you that you were wrong, which is unfortunate since that is unlikely to happen.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

You need to have an ability before you can put favored class bonuses towards it: ie, a level 1 rogue can't even start working towards their talent till second level.

Likewise an elf that doesn't have hand of the apprentice can't work on something they don't have.

Is there a source for this rule? I know a lot of Human Barbarians start investing FCB towards superstitious from 1st level.


It was a stealth inclusion in the Occult Adventures FCB rules. When challenged on it, the developers said that was the way it was always supposed to work, or at least it is now and such language would exist in products going forward.

They may have included something in the OA FAQ.

Edit: they didn't. I wonder if the UI vigilante FCB language included the limitation, I imagine it did.

Edit 2: They didn't! Here's the language from page 84 in OA, several paragraphs restating how FCB work.

Quote:
If an alternate favored class option modifies a class feature or ability, it can’t be taken before the character has that class feature or ability. For example, if a class gains a class feature at 6th level, a character couldn’t take a racial favored class option that applies to that class feature until 6th level, even if the benefit from that option wouldn’t be high enough to add a bonus until a later level


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Quote:
If an alternate favored class option modifies a class feature or ability, it can’t be taken before the character has that class feature or ability. For example, if a class gains a class feature at 6th level, a character couldn’t take a racial favored class option that applies to that class feature until 6th level, even if the benefit from that option wouldn’t be high enough to add a bonus until a later level

I think this settles it.

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