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Arcane Archivist Lore Oracle: interaction with Improved Eldritch Heritage (Arcana) and arcane spells

Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

To cast a spell, generally it has to be on your spell list, you should know the spell, maybe you have to prepare it and usually you have to expend a spell slot of corresponding level. Sometimes some of those requirements go away due to using spell completion items or due to class mechanics (prepared vs spontaneous, archetype mechanics akin to Spell Sage Wizard, feats like Unsanctioned Knowledge and so on).

There is an old would-be loophole in these rules that with wrong reading could allow an 11th level Oracle with Improved Eldritch Heritage (Arcana/ New Arcana) to add a Sorcerer/Wizard spell to their list of spells known. Per multiple forum threads and an official FAQ we know why this does not work: despite now knowing those wizard spells, our oracle still does not have them on her Spell List, and is thus unable to cast them. This is well-established and I include this just as a baseline.

Now, to the interesting part. Enter Oracle of Lore of level 11 with an Arcane Archivist revelation.

Here's the full text:
Arcane Archivist (Su): Your experience with lore-filled tomes has granted you the ability to cast arcane spells as if they were on your spell list. Once per day, you can cast a spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list as if it were on your list of spells known. The spell consumes a spell slot one level higher than the level of the spell. You must have a spellbook containing the spell to cast it in this way, and the spell is erased when you complete the casting. You must be at least 11th level to select this revelation.

Everything starting from second sentence describes the process of casting spells from spellbook you have (and that contains spells written there by some friendly [N]PC).

The first sentence, hovewer is separated from second by a dot and a capitalization of the first word in second sentence. And the first sentence explicitly gives you the ability to cast arcane spells as if they were on your spell list, because that's what it says.

Now, using Expanded Arcana feat to cheese wizard spells into an Oracle won't work, because despite our Oracle having all arcane spells on his spell list, Expanded Arcana specifically refers to your 'class spell list', which is Oracle/Cleric.

Mnemonic Vestment won't work either, because it explicitly calls out the types of spell being cast and type of spell slot being spent (both should be either divine or arcane).

Hovewer, per RAW those seem like valid interactions:
1) Lvl 11 AA Oracle can use any scroll of any arcane spell without UMD check because she can cast any arcane spell as if it was on her spell list
2) Lvl 11 AA Oracle can use New Arcana from Arcana bloodline per Improved Eldritch Heritage to add one wizard spell to her list of spells known, and due to being able to cast arcane spells per AA, she now both has this spell on her list of spells known and has it on her spell list for the purposes of spellcasting.

These points do not seem cheesy enough to dismiss them as obvious PFS cheese that 'could be legal but is obviously broken and is not good sportsmanship to use': even in more powerful (2) we're talking about single wizard spell being available for an oracle of knowledge-oriented mystery that is weaker than bard/investigator/mindchemist for knowledges, has no useful mystery spells besides Tongues and is going to see action for a whole lot of 6 games before being forced into above-hightier specials couple times a year. (Lore Oracles are still nice as a general 'can-do-almost-anything' class though).

How to rule interactions 1 & 2 in PFS game?

The Exchange

No. You can't cast arcane spells. The first sentence in many Revelations is descriptive text and it proceeds to tell you how that functions in later sentences. It's pretty clear. Reading it in the way you suggest is trying to parse the language in such a way as to gain an unintended advantage.

Automatic Writing (Su) wrote:
Once per day, you can spend a full hour in uninterrupted meditation. During this period, your hands produce mysterious writing that pertains to the future. At 1st level, the prophetic writing manifests as an augury spell with 90% effectiveness. At 5th level, the writing takes the form of a divination with 90% effectiveness. At 8th level, the writing manifests as a casting of commune with no material component required.

The first sentence says you can spend an hour in uninterrupted meditation. So you can't meditate unless you have the revelation?

Sidestep Secret (Su) wrote:
Your innate understanding of the universe has granted you preternatural reflexes and the uncanny ability to step out of danger at the very last second. Add your Charisma modifier (instead of your Dexterity modifier) to your Armor Class and all Reflex saving throws. Your armor's maximum Dexterity bonus applies to your Charisma instead of your Dexterity.

The first sentence says I can step out of danger at the very last second. It doesn't say I have to take an action or anything so anytime anyone attacks me I can move away and avoid the attack?

(Flagged for movement to the Rules forum)

Grand Lodge

>The first sentence in many Revelations
'Many' does not equal 'all' though; also wording for this revelation matches known rule keywords (spell list, casting spells). Stepping out of danger does not seem to match any rule keyword, so i fail to see how this example is applicable here.

Example with meditation does not seem to fit because it covers nonrestricted rule section. There are rules that forbid magic usage unless stated otherwise; if 'meditation' was an established game mechanics and there were rules that forbid meditation unless you posess a class feature that lets you do so, this revelation would indeed give you ability to meditate without having levels of 'meditator' class.

I do agree that indended use seems to not allow eldritch heritage shenanigans, but i am not sold on it not working per RAW.

Also usage of spell completion and spell trigger items seems to be both RAW and RAI for this revelation, as it specifically calls out your experience with written sources of magic.

Power-wise: a regular Cha-oriented character who does not have UMD as class skill has +21 UMD (11 ranks, 3 Circlet of Persuasion, 7 Cha) versus DC25 to cast lvl5 wizard scroll. If you have UMD as class skill you cannot fail roll for lvl5 spells even when rolling nat1, and if you have Skill Focus (UMD) without UMD as class skill you can autosucceed on casting scrolls of levels up to 8. Using wands is flat DC20 so you can autosucceed this since level 9 (nat1 + 9 ranks +7 cha +3 Circlet of Persuasion).

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

That first sentence does not say that you can cast "all" arcane spells, nor does it give any indication on which subset of arcane spells you can cast. So as rules text it does not contain enough information to give guidance. It requires the rest of the sentences to give it context, and that context makes it clear that your interpretation is contrary to RAI at the very least.

Grand Lodge

Why separate the rules regarding 'spell list' and 'spells known' then? It would be one thing to state that 'once per day you can cast a single spell from Wizard/Sorcerer spell list as if you had this spell on your spell list and in your list of spells known'. As it is, the passages clearly separate effects of casting spells as if they were on spell list and having single spell known once a day.

Context-wise it is indeed logical to assume that entire revelation deals with wizard/sorcerer spells (errata/faq would be nice though).

Scarab Sages

The sentence in Arcane Archivist does not say all wizard/sorcerer spells are on your spell list. It says you can cast the ambiguous "arcane" spells "as if they were on your class list." As if. Meaning they are not. The requirement for using a scroll or a wand is not that you can cast the spell. It's that it's on your class list. These aren't.

Grand Lodge

Regarding 'as if' wording: e/ Divine Knowledge (Ex)
Choose three 1stlevel spells from the cleric spell list or three 1st-level spells from the druid spell list. You can add those spells to your spellbook (if you’re a magus or wizard) or familiar (if you’re a witch) for free and can cast those spells as if they were arcane spells on your class list.

'As if' wording clearly works for Archmage, otherwise one of its features does nothing at all. ant/#TOC-Esoteric-Magic-Ex-
At each class level beyond 1st, the arcane savant chooses a spell from any class’s spell list and thereafter treats it as if it were on the spell list of his base spellcasting classes

So, a major class feature of Arcane Savant does not work at all if we treat 'as if' wording like that.
Furthermore, the same feature explicitly restricts usage of spell completion items for esoteric spells by other classes, yet does not restrict Savant in using spell completion/trigger items made with spells of other classes that he knows.

Scarab Sages

Divine Knowledge does what it says it does. It lets you cast the spell. It's unclear from that whether or not you could use scrolls or wands. Probably, but then Divine Knowledge doesn't limit things to 1/day like Arcane Archivist does.

Esoteric Magic says "treats it as if," which is slightly different. It does not specify any parameters around that, so effectively it is on their class list. Treat and cast are different words.

So taking all of that information, if you wanted to use your 1/day use of Arcane Archivist to activate a scroll or a wand instead of casting the spell, id probably be ok with that. But it's still 1/day, not every arcane spell anytime you want.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Do you expect/intend to have this argument at every table you play?
And personally, milking the rules for obviously unintended (even FAQed away!) benefits via loopholes smacks of poor gamesmanship.
Don't do this.

Grand Lodge

No, i do not expect to have this argument at every table i play, because it's too much trouble for benefits provided.
However, there is obvious uncertainty in rules regarding the single class i play and plan on playing at least in the following year, and at the very least i want to know how to react when i see somebody using this loophole. Furthermore i like to completely understand how my class features work before i sign in to the game, rather than shutting my eyes at any rule discrepancy i see and then wasting table time when GM has to make a call. And, finally, if there's something that by rules provides me benefits, then yes, i would very much like to use it. If there are no benefits or if there are drawbacks - well at least i know how my class works, nothing lost here.

Yes, there are times when RAW contradicts RAI: for example, monastic legacy champion of Irori shenanigans for 1.5BAB prestige class (i am not aware if this was faqed though, never played one).
Furthermore, there are FAQs that are mistakingly applied all the time: for example, a lot of players argue against stacking CHA to AC multiple times and cite FAQ, when FAQ refers only to untyped bonuses and stacking 'deflection bonus equal to CHA' and 'sacred bonus equal to CHA' and 'untyped bonus equal to CHA' is allowed.

It is obvious that at the very least RAI provides an Oracle of Lore with an ability to cast wizard spells from spellbook once a day.

It is entirely non-obvious what does it mean by RAI above minimum stated above given that there are similar yet different in details entries for Savant, Archmage, and Skald at the very least.
It is equally non-obvious what does it mean by RAW, and i first made this post in PFS section of the forum specifically to promote discussion on RAW rather than RAI.

Regarding FAQ: FAQ explicitly tells us that your-generic-oracle cannot cast wizard spells via Improved Arcane Heritage because despite knowing spell he stil cannot cast it due to not having it on his spell list. Arcane Archivist contains passage that unambiguously refers to spell list, thus circumventing the main argument of FAQ.

@Ferious Thune
It is indeed valid that 'treats as if they were' is more general than 'casts as if they were', however muddy those statements are. RAI it indeed seems to be limited to 1/day casting from spellbook.

Regarding RAW:
I found one more entry - Spell Kenning entry for Skald ( ). However, wording here is different: it is combined into single entry 'Once per day, a skald can cast any spell on the bard, cleric, or sorcerer/wizard spell list as if it were one of his skald spells known'.
This seems to me like Skald explicitly knows the spell without having it on his spell list exactly once per day, thus not making it available for spell trigger or spell completion items.

It seems that the entirety of this rule uncertainty boilds down to these questions:

RAI) Is Lore Oracle-11 Arcane Archivist revelation intended to work as a limited version of Skald-5 Spell Kenning class feature?

RAW) Is the wording in AA regarding 'casting arcane[wizard/sorc] spells as if they were on his spell list' intentionally different than that of Spell Kenning Skald class feature that does not mention spell list at all? (Both features later mention spells known though).

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

+1 asking every PFS gm and playing correctly when the gm says it doesn't work as you like.

Because without a official Dev post or PFS admin post, your gm can just say "nope it doesn't work that way."

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Dantrag wrote:
i first made this post in PFS section of the forum specifically to promote discussion on RAW rather than RAI.

It should be pointed out that RAW in PFS is used to cover:

  • Dont changed tactics.
  • Dont tell the summoner you don't allow his class.
  • Dont use rules clarified via FAQ your "old preFAQ" way.

It doesn't cover:
You are required to use the most broken interpretation a player can dream up.

Granted I'm not making a statement yet on whether or not I agree with your interpretation. I'm just correcting an apparent misunderstanding on what "RAW" means to PFS.

There is an old post by John Compton illustrating this, where he walked through adjudicating Ice Tomb pre errata and involved a lot of RAI work.

Grand Lodge

@James Risner
That's absolutely fair and I agree to everything you've said.
I should admit that ruleslawyering is a somewhat fun pastime for me and my group of players, most of whom are gms as well, and this discussion for me is mostly important because i want to know how the rules play out.

Bastardisation of RAW is a problem, yes, but RAW (at least for me) includes all FAQs, erratas and 'additional resources' page; forum discussions carry are great weight, but they are below RAW unless in special cases when they are 100times FAQCandidated, by People Of Authority and/or represent consensus in discussion thread (like clarifications and threads on Improved Familiar).

Grand Lodge

Several more counterexamples to the statement 'first sentence is a descriptive one':
Lore mystery, Brain Drain description starts with 'You can take a standard action to violently probe the mind of a single intelligent enemy within 100 feet.', next sentences are describing effect and specifying save DC.

Lore mystery, Think On It (Ex): Once per day, the oracle of lore can reattempt any previously failed Knowledge check.

Lore mystery, Whirlwind Lesson (Ex): You can quickly browse through a magical tome or manual, gaining its benefits with only a single 8-hour study session (rather than the usual 48 hours over a period of 6 days).

Lore mystery, Final Revelation: You gain the ability to take 20 on all Knowledge skill checks.

All of the above revelations have multiple sentences in the description and become either unreadable (Think On It) or just weaker (Final Revelation) if you remove the first sentence.

Including Lore mystery revelation 'Arcane Archivist' that mentions spell lists, there are five out of total eleven Lore oracle revelations that specifically use game terms in the first sentence (spell list, standard action, reattempt knowledge check, 8-hour study session, take 20 on knowledge checks). Having 6/11 revelations start with a descriptive text is hardly 'most' (albeit it is technically correct).

In addition, 'spell list' is not an in-universe term as far as I know. Using it in a flavour description is akin to saying in-character that 'Ulrich Orcsbane hated greenskins so much, he could perform grapple checks against them as an immediate action'.

Additional discussions i've had seem to conclude that 'casting as if you had something on spell list' do not allow you to use spell-trigger or spell-completion items (otherwise Arcane Savant PrC would not have general 'treat as if' wording over more specific 'cast as if' of Arcane Archivist). In addition, activating a spell-trigger or spell-completion item indeed is not casting the contained spell: thus being able to 'cast spells as if they were on spell list' does not help using wands or scrolls.

It still seems that 'cast arcane spells as if they were on your spell list' clause negates FAQ wording that specifically mentions casters being able to cast spells from their class' spell list.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Dantrag wrote:
It still seems that 'cast arcane spells as if they were on your spell list' clause negates FAQ wording that specifically mentions casters being able to cast spells from their class' spell list.

I've taken some time to dig into this.

Key Part for me wrote:
arcane spells as if they were on your spell list. Once per day, you can cast a spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list as if it were on your list of spells known.

If you mean that these two sentences allow you to treat a spell as if it was on your class spell list and your spells known, I agree with you. The FAQ says you don't get it added to your spell list if it is just simply added to your spells known, but this appears to do both. So I believe this is compliant with the FAQ.

Grand Lodge

@James Risner
Thanks for your reply!
Just to clarify, we seem to agree, that:

Firstly, if an Oracle gets single wizard spell as permanently known due to Improved Eldritch Heritage feat, he then can cast it as if it was on his spell list due to wording of Arcane Archivist. Additionally, he can once per day cast any spell he does not know if he has it in the spellbook, expending higher level spell slot and erasing the spell from the spellbook.

Secondly, Oracle does not gain the ability to use spell-trigger or spell-completion items without UMD check, as using said items is not casting and thus wording of AA is not applicable.

I will post here if i find any evidence against aforementioned statements.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

First, this is an Ask your GM question because we don't have the official answer.

Second, we do not agree on Improved Eldritch Heritage. It doesn't work per the FAQ.

Arcane Bloodline wrote:
New Arcana (Ex): At 9th level, you can add any one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list to your list of spells known. This spell must be of a level that you are capable of casting. You can also add one additional spell at 13th level and 17th level.

It doesn't add to your spell list, only your known spells.

Third, mechanically a Wizard knows all spells in their spellbook. If you are a non-wizard, you technically know all spells in the spellbooks you possess. However without spell slots that can load those spells due to having them on your class spell list, you can't cast them.

The FAQ makes it clear you don't know them if you don't have them on your class spell list and any ability that allows you to know spells that doesn't also put them on your class spell list, doesn't work. Unless it's a class ability.

Grand Lodge

I do understand that it's a 'Ask a GM' matter and different GMs may rule differently. I do believe that it's better to do as much research as possible beforehand so GM is informed when making a decision: there is a difference between "there is this gray area and these are interpretations i've already found, what is your ruling" versus "take this obscure feat you see once a year and this specific revelation you see once a year, how do they work together".

I do agree that IEH does not work per FAQ if we're talking about a generic Oracle. The specific wording of Arcane Archivist, hovewer, makes it seem as if first sentence provides you with constant ability to cast arcane spells without letting you know them, while second sentence provides you with 1/day ability to know spell. That is in contrast to similar ability of Skald (Spell Kenning), that with its wording restricts both knowing spell and having it on spell list to 1/day.

The gist is that IEH on its own only adds spell to spells known, thus per FAQ not allowing you to cast it. Class ability Arcane Archivist, hovewer, provides you with ability to cast this spell (separately of the spellbook mechanism), thus allowing you to benefit from IEH. Splitting revelation like that is not hair-pulling, because some revelations (Lore - Final Revelation, Lunar-Eye of the Moon, Lunar - Mantle of Moonlight etc) have multiple separate effects in them, and it's not obvious to understand when the split is intended and when it is not.

So, your argument seems to be that splitting the AA mechanism into two parts (unlimited casting as if on spell list + knowing 1/day) was a bad call by the writer, and it should function similarly to Spell Kenning (both knowing and having spell on spell list is limited to spellbook mechanism), is that correct?

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Dantrag wrote:
The specific wording of Arcane Archivist, hovewer, makes it seem as if first sentence provides you with constant ability to cast arcane spells without letting you know them, while second sentence

In general the rules are not and should not be interpreted that way. That paragraph is interlinked. You may not separate the sentences and interpret them separately as separate abilities.

For example, some tried to do so with Flanking. Separating the "+2 to melee attack" and the "when in doubt" sentences in separate paragraphs to try to get flanking with ranged attacks. Flanking is melee only. It doesn't matter that the second paragraph doesn't say that, the first did.

Dantrag wrote:
So, your argument seems to be that splitting the AA mechanism into two parts (unlimited casting as if on spell list + knowing 1/day) was a bad call by the writer

More like, you shouldn't split the two. They are linked.

Grand Lodge

Thanks, that clears things up a lot.

It would greatly reduce the confusion in such situations if paizo used similar wording for similar abilities though.

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