Fast Learner


Rules Questions

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69 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 5 people marked this as a favorite.

Hi I was thinking of taking this for a PFS character...

Fast Learner
You progress gain extra versatility.
Prerequisites: Int 13, human.
Benefit: When you gain a level in a favored class,
you gain both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead
of choosing either one or the other benefit or you can
choose an alternate class reward.

But after searching the boards it still seems murky as to what this actually does. It has been marked as FAQ in other threads but I didnt see an answer in the FAQ. Any offical word that I may have missed?

Can I choose 2 from A,B,C or is it either A+B or C by itself.


Benoc wrote:

Hi I was thinking of taking this for a PFS character...

Fast Learner
You progress gain extra versatility.
Prerequisites: Int 13, human.
Benefit: When you gain a level in a favored class,
you gain both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead
of choosing either one or the other benefit or you can
choose an alternate class reward.

But after searching the boards it still seems murky as to what this actually does. It has been marked as FAQ in other threads but I didnt see an answer in the FAQ. Any offical word that I may have missed?

Can I choose 2 from A,B,C or is it either A+B or C by itself.

I confess that until you asked this question I read it as (A+B) or C. I can see why someone might read it as 2 out of A, B or C. It would have been clearer if the final clause had been presented as "Instead of that, you may gain one of the alternate class rewards." if they'd meant the former.

I know how I'd interpret it as GM but it would help to get clarity.


Ya if it wasnt for pfs i wouldnt have asked. If its the first option, it seems like a decent choice. If its the second though i should probably just take toughness and call it a day


Pick 2 out of three. "Choose one or the other" doesn't make any sense because otherwise you're picking both: there is no or.


I think it is clearer if you leave out the explanatory part.

Original: +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead
of choosing either one or the other benefit or you can
choose an alternate class reward.

Clearer: +1 hit point and +1 skill rank or you can
choose an alternate class reward.

So my interpretation: (A+B) or C

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I can see both sides of the argument here. On the one hand, the feat isn't very good if it only lets you take hp+skill point or just favored class bonus. Also, in theory the favored class bonuses are balanced choices against a single hp or skill point. On the other hand, the feat is worded in such a way that it seems like the more restricted version may be the intention.

My advice is this: never build a PFS character around any shaky rules call. If you have to justify why your character is legal you set yourself up to be hurt when an official claification comes out. AFAIK there is no official answer to your question so any response you get here (barring dev intervention) is not a good basis on which to build your PFS character. So, if you were to take the feat I would presume it works in the more restricted way. It's better to make conservative assumptions about rules when playing PFS so you don't get as burned by later clarifications.


There is no benefit unless you choose 2 of 3.
You get the option to take C even without the feat.
The Feat gives you 2 benefits instead of 1.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If this has come up before, but not been answered then why doesn't everyone show that FAQ button some love?

Silver Crusade

Yeah, we've been asking for an official clarification from Paizo since the ARG came out, but as far as I know, there hasn't been one yet.

If it's (A + B) or C, then the feat is actually worse than Toughness. If you take Toughness, then use your favored class bonus for skill ranks every level, then it's the same thing, but Toughness gives you the additional options of using the favored class bonus for even more HP or human specific stuff every level.

So if it is (A + B) or C, then the only reason to take it is if you're taking Toughness also, to get two additional HP every level, plus the skill rank. You'd have a ton of HP, a bonus skill rank, but it costs you two feats. I can actually see the argument for doing this for a fighter who wants a ton of HP on the front lines and gets a ton of feats, but not for any other class. Now that I think of it, this might be interesting to try for a Lore Warden, since they get less armor than the typical fighter, and use more skill ranks.

Silver Crusade

Fromper wrote:


If it's (A + B) or C, then the feat is actually worse than Toughness.

Keep in mind that the feat is the prerequisite for a couple of other awesome feats (improvisation and improved improvisation). As such, it isn't at all surprising that the feat in and of itself isn't that great.

For PFS, the only safe thing is to assume that it is (A+B) or C. Either that or have 2 versions of the character, one for each interpretation. This could actually work out fairly well as long as the entire character wasn't built around the other interpretation. In most cases, losing a few skill points or a few hit points isn't going to massively change things.


I have to admit I can't figure out how people are reading it to provide 2 out of 3. Let me split it up in clauses.

You gain (both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank) instead of [(choosing either one or the other benefit) or (you can choose an alternate class reward)].

That said, I'd really like it to allow my Bard to learn a new spell and get a hit point (my GM gave us a free racial feat), so I'll mark it for FAQ and pretend it's ambiguous by virtue of it being written awkwardly...

Silver Crusade

8 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required. 2 people marked this as a favorite.

Another silly question about Fast Learner: If you take it after level 1, does it apply retroactively to all your previous levels?


Nope. It triggers "when you gain a level," and there is nothing saying it also applies retroactively. Yet another reason it is Toughness: bad version.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

it's a poorly worded but great feat as (a+b) or c. nothing else is toughness for skills.

If its 2 of 3 the its multiple free feats for some class/ race combos..


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Fromper wrote:
Another silly question about Fast Learner: If you take it after level 1, does it apply retroactively to all your previous levels?

Pretty much everything in Pathfinder is retroactive -- for example, in D&D 3.5, a boost to your intelligence did not grant you extra skill ranks for prior levels -- now it does.

In the case of this feat, I am pretty sure that for every prior level at which you took an extra skill rank you would gain an extra hit point, and for every prior level at which you took an extra hit point you would gain an extra skill rank.


GeneticDrift wrote:
it's a poorly worded but great feat as (a+b) or c. nothing else is toughness for skills.

Okay, this really cannot be said enough.

If it is (a+b) or c, it is just universally worse than toughness.

When you gain a level in a favored class, you pick a skill point or a hit point. If you would have picked the skill point and take Toughness, you end up with +1 / +1. If you would have picked the hit point and take Fast Learner, you end up with +1 / +1. The only difference is that Toughness applies to non-favored class, applies retroactively, allows the option of +2 hit points, and gives you a +3 boost to start things off.

It isn't "Toughness for skills." It is "Toughness for people who aren't paying attention."


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Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
GeneticDrift wrote:
it's a poorly worded but great feat as (a+b) or c. nothing else is toughness for skills.

Okay, this really cannot be said enough.

If it is (a+b) or c, it is just universally worse than toughness.

When you gain a level in a favored class, you pick a skill point or a hit point. If you would have picked the skill point and take Toughness, you end up with +1 / +1. If you would have picked the hit point and take Fast Learner, you end up with +1 / +1. The only difference is that Toughness applies to non-favored class, applies retroactively, allows the option of +2 hit points, and gives you a +3 boost to start things off.

It isn't "Toughness for skills." It is "Toughness for people who aren't paying attention."

Or "Extra Toughness for people who don't want to settle for Toughness alone". Or "Toughness for people who want the feats that Fast Learner is a prerequisite for".


I think that was what geneticDrift was saying, too but if it was 2 of 3 you could choose c two times.


It is A+B OR A+C OR B+C. It's not worded poorly, ya'all just read poorly.
You get two Favored class benefits instead of one.
Simple.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
BltzKrg242 wrote:

It is A+B OR A+C OR B+C. It's not worded poorly, ya'all just read poorly.

You get two Favored class benefits instead of one.
Simple.

I've seen plenty of valid arguments that say it's ambiguous, but I can't see how it could possibly be conclusively A+B or A+C or B+C. It absolutely reads as A+B or C, but is badly worded enough that you could say it makes no sense and thus argue for A+B or A+C or B+C. But there's no conclusive way to read it that gives you 2 of 3.


It is completely pointless as (A+B) or C.

The only time you'd ever want to take it in that format is if you want HP beyond toughness and you need skill points. The favorite class restriction already limits the usefulness to non-pure.

It is worded open enough that you can interprete it as (A+B) + (C can replace A or B), which equals (A+B)or(A+C)or(B+C).

If the devs meant it to be (A+B) or C, then they might as well not have bothered putting it in the book at all.

I guess the best option is if you do take it and pick (hp plus class ability), and it gets errata'd to (A+B)or C, then talk to your DM and ask to exchange it for toughness.


pauljathome wrote:


Keep in mind that the feat is the prerequisite for a couple of other awesome feats (improvisation and improved improvisation). As such, it isn't at all surprising that the feat in and of itself isn't that great.

this


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Also -- Fast Learner is as good as Toughness if you only ever plan to advance in one class. In that case, you may want to take Fast Learner if you intend to take Improvisation a couple of levels later.

Or, if you go by the interpretation of Fast Learner's benefits not being retroactive, you may want to take Fast Learner before you take Toughness in order to get maximum benefit out of both.

Silver Crusade

Fromper wrote:
Another silly question about Fast Learner: If you take it after level 1, does it apply retroactively to all your previous levels?

I love how the two people who answered me on this gave exact opposite answers. I would ask if there's any chance of getting an official answer from Paizo, but we still haven't gotten an answer to the main question of the thread yet, despite 24 people flagging it as FAQ, so I'm not holding my breath.

My question does actually matter to me right now. I'm building a Lore Warden and seriously considering getting both Toughness and Fast Learner. I don't want to spend 2/3 of my starting feats getting them both up front, though. I'd rather start with Toughness at level 1, since it's front loaded, then maybe take Fast Learner later if I think I need it. But if it isn't retroactive, then it won't be as useful taken at a higher level.


Well... I rule it as the character being able to pick any 2 options for favored class bonus.

Otherwise, why not simply pick toughness and pick extra skill points with level up? Toughness applies to all levels, no matter what class you take, applies retroactively and gives you an early benefit on low levels, when it's most needed.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
GeneticDrift wrote:
it's a poorly worded but great feat as (a+b) or c. nothing else is toughness for skills.

Okay, this really cannot be said enough.

If it is (a+b) or c, it is just universally worse than toughness.

When you gain a level in a favored class, you pick a skill point or a hit point. If you would have picked the skill point and take Toughness, you end up with +1 / +1. If you would have picked the hit point and take Fast Learner, you end up with +1 / +1. The only difference is that Toughness applies to non-favored class, applies retroactively, allows the option of +2 hit points, and gives you a +3 boost to start things off.

It isn't "Toughness for skills." It is "Toughness for people who aren't paying attention."

So you are saying a feat I can take for an extra skill point per level over what I would take otherwise is not actually a bonus skill point per level?

Toughness doesn't give skills so it is not universally worse in every way, it's like you think one skill point is the same as one hit point. They are very different.


Lemmy wrote:

Well... I rule it as the character being able to pick any 2 options for favored class bonus.

Otherwise, why not simply pick toughness and pick extra skill points with level up? Toughness applies to all levels, no matter what class you take, applies retroactively and gives you an early benefit on low levels, when it's most needed.

It would not be the first time they published a crappy feat, nor will it be the last.

My GM gives a free racial feat at 1st level, and that's the one most humans grab. It's not awful.


GeneticDrift wrote:

So you are saying a feat I can take for an extra skill point per level over what I would take otherwise is not actually a bonus skill point per level?

Toughness doesn't give skills so it is not universally worse in every way, it's like you think one skill point is the same as one hit point. They are very different.

If you have Fast Learner, you spent 1 feat to get 1 HP and 1 Skill each level. If you have Toughness and take 1 skill with your favored class bonus, you get 1 HP and 1 skill each level. It's the same, except Toughness frontloads the HP and is retroactive.


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It is also worth noting that as written, you can certainly back-door into "Choose two."

PRD wrote:
Benefit: When you gain a level in a favored class, you gain both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit or you can choose an alternate class reward.

Note that the feat only touches your "pre-feat" favored-class choice some of the time. Specifically, it is referenced when you go with the (A+B) option.

So, here's how it works as written:

Note: "(A+B)" means "you gain both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing one or the other benefit," and "C" means "you can choose an alternate class reward."

Upon gaining a level in a favored class:
If the "pre-feat" choice is a hit point or skill point, this player can either choose (A+B), thus granting both a hit point and a skill point, or he can choose C, thus gaining an alternate class reward on top of his "pre-feat" choice.

If the "pre-feat" choice is an alternate class reward, he cannot choose (A+B), because (A+B) requires that the "pre-feat" choice be a hit point or skill point, but he can choose C, thus gaining a second alternate class reward on top of his "pre-feat" choice.

So, with Fast Learner, as written, a PC can take, at every level in a favored class:

-A hit point and a skill point
-A hit point and an alternate class reward
-A skill point and an alternate class reward
-Two alternate class rewards

Essentially, as written, you can back-door into "Choose two" because the feat does not modify your "pre-feat" choice.

That being said, it's still badly written and needs to be errataed, so the bad wording can be tossed out and replaced.

-Matt

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You have to judge a feat by what it can do in a best case scenario not by the worst case.

And a best case scenario is easy to achieve here.


mplindustries wrote:
would not be the first time they published a crappy feat, nor will it be the last.

Sad, but true.

mplindustries wrote:
My GM gives a free racial feat at 1st level, and that's the one most humans grab. It's not awful.

Awful? No. Pointless? Yes.

Why not take Toughness instead and use your favored class bonus to pick an extra skill point?
You'll get one extra HP and one extra skill point every level. Except you still get the extra HP if you multiclass and you also start with +3 HP instead of +1.


Fromper wrote:
If it's (A + B) or C, then the feat is actually worse than Toughness.

That's my interpretation (yes, it's A+B or C and yes, it's worse than Toughness).

See also: the feat Eclectic from the APG.


The only argument I've seen in this discussion so far that actually parsed the sentence was mplindustries' helpful comment. There're lots of "it's badly worded but means [insert unsupported conclusion here]" arguments, but they offer no compelling grammatical reasons as to why that conclusion should stand.

I can certainly see why this is a question, but unless someone else can parse the sentence in a manner contrary to what mplindustries did and it still be correct, I'd certainly rule in favor of the (A+B) or C interpretation, as underwhelming as it is.

Regardless, I've FAQ'd it along with Fromper's follow up question regarding whether the feat is retroactive or not. My personal ruling at my home table won't help any of you at a PFS table, but enough clicks of the FAQ button might.


Dal Selpher wrote:
The only argument I've seen in this discussion so far that actually parsed the sentence was mplindustries' helpful comment.

mplindustries: "You gain (both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank) instead of [(choosing either one or the other benefit) or (you can choose an alternate class reward)]."

I don't agree with that. Those hard brackets mean you gain 1HP and 1 Skillrank. Period. No options.

You gain (X) instead of [ (stuff) or (otherstuff) ]

Here's how I would parse it:

When you gain a level in a favored class, you gain [ both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit ] or you can choose an alternate class reward.

I don't see any way to break it up so it lets you pick two out of three.


Yeah, Grick is right, I put the brackets in the wrong place.


Grick wrote:

When you gain a level in a favored class, you gain [ both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit ] or you can choose an alternate class reward.

I don't see any way to break it up so it lets you pick two out of three.

Fair enough. Two different ways to parse it with the same (A+B) or C conclusion. And I agree with you, I see no way to parse it so that it is pick any two.


I don't see why this is so confusing. Break down the sentence:

"When you gain a level in a favored class..."
It isn't retroactive.

"...you gain both +1 hp and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit..."
Whereas you'd normally get to pick either +1 HP or +1 skill point, that ability is replaced by gaining both.

"...or you can choose an alternate class reward."
This clause does not specify that you replace your choice of +1 HP or +1 skill point as the previous clause did. So you still pick either +1 HP or +1 SP, then as a result of the feat, you can additionally take the class bonus.

The only odd ramification that I can see is that nothing prevents you from taking 2x class bonus because you can always replace your choice of HP/SP with class bonus and the final clause, as I said, doesn't remove your normal level-up choice; it just adds on to it. So you could take favored class bonus as per normal, then in addition take another dose of favored class bonus. Furthermore, if you have multiple racial subtypes available (from being a half-breed or through Racial Heritage) you could pick the class bonus from one and the class bonus from the other.

To sum it all up, without the feat you can do one of two things:
A) Choose either +1 HP or +1 SP
B) Choose an available alternate class bonus

Fast Learner allows you to do one of two things:
C) Swap out A for +1 HP and +1SP
D) Choose an available alternate class bonus in addition to whatever choice between A and B you made (and, if A, whatever choice you made between HP and SP)

Your final options with Fast Learner are as follows:
A) +1 HP and +1 SP
B) (+1 HP or +1 SP) and +1 alternate bonus
C) +1 alternate bonus and +1 alternate bonus


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Pretty much everything in Pathfinder is retroactive for characters. This has been stated several times by the designers. They designed it that way so building and reverse-engineering characters would be easier (such as when you need to build a half-powered simulacrum).


I've seen specific things be retroactive, but no blanket statement that everything is. I'd love to add it to my list of clarifications though, so if you have a link, send it my way!


Grick wrote:


Here's how I would parse it:

When you gain a level in a favored class, you gain [ both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit ] or you can choose an alternate class reward.

I don't see any way to break it up so it lets you pick two out of three.

I agree with this. Everything else is wishful thinking.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Cheapy wrote:

I've seen specific things be retroactive, but no blanket statement that everything is. I'd love to add it to my list of clarifications though, so if you have a link, send it my way!

It was a way's back, but I'll see what I can dig up.

EDIT:

James makes it clear that all ability score changes are retroactive.

James clarifies a corner case.

James clearly states that ALL BONUSES are retroactive.

James shows that the idea of Pathfinder being retroactive has been around since the early design stages of the game.

Jason states that an Intelligence increase retroactively increases skill ranks.

Sean also states that skill points [sic] from long term increases are retroactive.

Sean specifically states that "everything else" is retroactive, and that it makes character building easier.

Sean further explains the retroactivity of skill points [sic].


Thanks


I don't even see how anyone could turn their head and squint while reading to get "2 out of 3".

But regardless, it's a terrible feat. Take something else.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I don't even see how anyone could turn their head and squint while reading to get "2 out of 3".

But regardless, it's a terrible feat. Take something else.

Your problem is that you need to read it with head upright and eyes open. It most certainly does say you can take "2 out of 3" because only the option to take "both hp and sp" replaces your option to take "either hp or sp". The option to take a favored bonus replaces nothing, thus is taken in addition to whatever your base choice for that level is (hp, sp, or alternate bonus).


Kazaan wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I don't even see how anyone could turn their head and squint while reading to get "2 out of 3".

But regardless, it's a terrible feat. Take something else.

Your problem is that you need to read it with head upright and eyes open. It most certainly does say you can take "2 out of 3" because only the option to take "both hp and sp" replaces your option to take "either hp or sp". The option to take a favored bonus replaces nothing, thus is taken in addition to whatever your base choice for that level is (hp, sp, or alternate bonus).

Heh, we'll see what the devs say when the respond quickly to the overwhelming request for FAQing. I see your point here, but I think you are relying on the idea, not clearly stated in the feat, that if you choose option C that does NOT replace your original choice of A or B. I don't think that's clear. That's probably how I'd rule as a GM anyway.

Still, regardless of how you parse it, it's still a sucky feat.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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Umbranus wrote:
Grick wrote:


Here's how I would parse it:

When you gain a level in a favored class, you gain [ both +1 hit point and +1 skill rank instead of choosing either one or the other benefit ] or you can choose an alternate class reward.

I don't see any way to break it up so it lets you pick two out of three.

I agree with this. Everything else is wishful thinking.

It's (skill point + hp) *or* {alt favored class bonus).

It seemed clear enough to me when I wrote it, but if you think it's questionable or ambiguous for PFS then write up the character both ways and use whichever one the sitting GM or whomever is the boss of the PFS event to clarify for you on the spot.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've edited my above post with all the source links I could find involving the game developers using the word "retroactive."


Thanks. I saw the Sean thing saying everything else was retroactive, but then I saw that that was posted in 2005.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

These forums have been around since 2005!?

Liberty's Edge

While I agree that (as worded) it seems to say (A+B) or C, I would probably allow someone to treat it as "any two" just to make it less terrible.

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