When does an ability officially "come online"? (specifically for the Gravewalker Witch)


Rules Questions


I want to make sure I'm reading this right.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/witch/archetypes/paizo-witch-a rchetypes/gravewalker/

Abilities like Aura of Desecration and Bonethrall specify both at what level they are usable, and what level Hex they replace. Bonethrall specifically says its usable at level 1, and replaces the 4th level hex gained.

Now, Possess Undead is the one I'm looking at.

It says the Gravewalker can possess anything its got control of, and it replaces the 8th level Hex, but otherwise makes no mention of what level it can be used at. Other witch archetypes with similar abilities state what level they can be used at, this one doesn't.

Does this default to letting them possess undead at level 1 (via Bonethrall)?


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You get access to the new ability at the point when you would have gotten access to the original ability unless otherwise stated. So in this case, 8th level.


Wraithstrike has it. Level it replaces unless told otherwise.


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It's a hotly contested topic. Technically wraithstrike is incorrect--nothing in the rules states this implied level requirement. But a large number of players and GMs believe it to be so based on reasonable design sensibilities.


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

I'll agree that it isn't directly stated, but it is strongly implied by the term 'alternate class features' the 'primary way in which archetypes modify their corresponding base classes'. An alternate is one thing instead of something else, so the plainest meaning not only do you get X instead of Y, you get X when you would have gotten Y as well. Of course a specific archetype could change this, but in general if it doesn't say, the best reading is that you get a replacement ability when you would have gotten the original ability.

The fact that many archetypes spell this out for clarity (replacing an ability normally gotten at level four and implicitly telling you you get it at level four) has caused some people to be confused when they don't, assuming that it must therefore be an ability granted at level one, but I don't think that is justified. Of course archetypes vary in quality control, and there may be some where this rule doesn't make sense, but in general unless their is a good reason I believe the best reading of the rules is to follow it.


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Indeed, there are archetype abilities that are apparently granted at first level without that being stated - look at the Butterfly Blade Slayer, for instance. Butterfly’s Kiss replaces Sneak Attack (which you'd gain at 3rd level), but says "A butterfly blade can deal nonlethal damage with butterfly swords (...) without taking a penalty on attack rolls. At 3rd level, a butterfly blade gets a +1 bonus on attack rolls with butterfly swords (...)". From this wording, the nonlethal aspect must be gained before 3rd level.


Derklord wrote:
Indeed, there are archetype abilities that are apparently granted at first level without that being stated - look at the Butterfly Blade Slayer, for instance. Butterfly’s Kiss replaces Sneak Attack (which you'd gain at 3rd level), but says "A butterfly blade can deal nonlethal damage with butterfly swords (...) without taking a penalty on attack rolls. At 3rd level, a butterfly blade gets a +1 bonus on attack rolls with butterfly swords (...)". From this wording, the nonlethal aspect must be gained before 3rd level.

That's a good find. I think we haven't seen a FAQ about this, because of cases like this. There simply isn't an easy yes or no answer to this question. If the design team goes one way they break stuff and if they go the other they break other stuff. So, they just let the DMs decide for themselves, so they don't have to make a decision.


Derklord wrote:
Indeed, there are archetype abilities that are apparently granted at first level without that being stated

It seems to be done on a case by case basis, possibly depending on who made it: some seem to imply they come online with the swapped out, some imply other levels and some come out and explicitly say one or the other. As such, there doesn't seem to be any real default position.

For me, I look at each archetype and see what makes sense to me when I read it if it doesn't come out and SAY what's replaced when.

PS: Darn amphibian [or reptile?*] ninjas! ;)

* I'm not sure WHAT creature that picture is. :P

EDIT: As to the OP, IMO Possess Undead is gained at 8th level.


It's a rakshasa(the hands are backwards), but I think you added some other good points.

The hedge witch is another notable case. Its abilities make much more sense if gained at level 1, because they are less and much less useful if gained at levels 4 and 8.


Melkiador wrote:

It's a rakshasa(the hands are backwards), but I think you added some other good points.

The hedge witch is another notable case. Its abilities make much more sense if gained at level 1, because they are less and much less useful if gained at levels 4 and 8.

I don't know, I think Possess Undead gets MORE useful as the levels increase: you can magic jar into a minion, buff it with personal spells and return to your body. Taking over an incorporeal undead has all kinds of benefits and even other undead offer tactics that would be dangerous to do in your own body. A simple 'suicide bomber' undead that runs into a room, drops the bomb and fireballs it...

rakshasa: didn't notice the hands. [that and lizard doesn't scream rakshasa to me]


Yeah, people usually think of rakshasa as tigers, but they also come in crocodile, bird and ape flavors.

And we might be talking about different arcehtypes, I'm talking about these abilities from the hedge witch. They just feel weird if you get them at 4 and 8. By the time you get empathic healing, it's smarter to just cure that kind of thing.

Quote:

Spontaneous Healing (Su): A hedge witch can channel stored spell energy into healing spells that she did not prepare ahead of time. The witch can “lose” any prepared spell that is not an orison in order to cast any cure spell of the same spell level or lower, even if she doesn’t know that cure spell. This replaces the witch’s hex gained at 4th level.

Empathic Healing (Su): A hedge witch can minister to a diseased or poisoned target, redirecting the affliction into herself. For a poisoned target, the witch must tend to him as a standard action; he makes his next saving throw against the poison as normal, but the witch suffers the effects of the failed save instead of the poisoned creature. For a diseased target, the witch must tend to the sick person for an hour; he makes his next saving throw against the disease as normal, but the witch suffers the effects of the failed save instead of the diseased creature. The witch does not actually become poisoned or diseased (and is not contagious and does not need to be cured), but suffers the effects of the affliction as if she had been. The witch normally uses this ability to extend the life of someone near death, giving him time to recover. This ability has no effect if the witch is immune to disease or poison. This replaces the witch’s hex gained at 8th level.


Melkiador: I was talking about the archetype in the OP's question. As to getting Spontaneous Healing at 8th level, I don't think it's great at any level. IMO, the ability is there so the person doesn't die before you can get your next set of spells to cure it. If several people end up poisoned, you might not HAVE enough resources to cure everyone at once, so you use this on the worst off person until you can.

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