Qualifying for PrC's using spell-like abilities


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Can I?

Does an aasimar's daylight ability allow them to qualify for eldritch knight? Why, why not?


The PrC requires a character to be "Able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells." Note: "spells", not "spell". So you'd need at least one additional spell or SLA.


"Spells", not "Spell-like".

So no, you won't be able to, even with a drow noble.


The jury is out on this one, Shane. Personally, as 'weak' as many of the PrCs are, I don't see a huge problem with allowing it.

Although the June FAQ clarified that, for the purposes of qualifying for item creation feats spell-like abilities count as 'spells', there's some question on whether a spell-like ability is considered arcane or divine, or if it is just a general untyped spell; there's also some question on how 'universal' that ruling is. SKR made a comment separate from the FAQ that an SLA based on an arcane spell could qualify you for the Arcane Strike feat, but that wasn't officially included in the FAQ.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Xaratherus wrote:


Although the June FAQ clarified that, for the purposes of qualifying for item creation feats spell-like abilities count as 'spells', there's some question on whether a spell-like ability is considered arcane or divine, or if it is just a general untyped spell; there's also some question on how 'universal' that ruling is. SKR made a comment separate from the FAQ that an SLA based on an arcane spell could qualify you for the Arcane Strike feat, but that wasn't officially included in the FAQ.

About that:

PDT wrote:


Spell-Like Abilities: How do I know whether a spell-like ability is arcane or divine?

Most spell-like abilities should be considered arcane, unless the spell in question only appears on the standard cleric or druid spell list (such as holy smite) or something about the creature strongly indicates its spell-like abilities should be considered divine (such as a solar's spell-like abilities, as a solar usually directly serves a deity).

("Standard spell list" meaning "not altered in some way by an archetype, prestige class, racial ability, and so on.")

—Pathfinder Design Team, yesterday


Thanks Diego, I wasn't aware of that update.

So then the only remaining question is the scope of the ruling, and if it was meant to only apply specifically to the item creation feats, or if it applies across the board (including PrC prerequisites).

[edit]
Given this new clarification combined with SKR's statement about it qualifying you for Arcane Strike would lead me to believe that the scope is wider than just "item creation feats".


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There are other threads either praising the merits or damning min/maxers.

I am absolutely fine with this and welcome it. I understand why people would be against it and would rule differently. It certainly isn't RAI and it smacks of abuse, but after looking at what it opens up for character design I see no issue with it.

I do believe an official ruling is in order.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Back in the ol' 3.5 days, I recall this being a fairly common trick to gain early access to PrC like the Mystic Theurge and Arcane Archer. In Pathfinder, I'm not terriibly concerned about this unbalancing too many things, with one giant caveat:
It totally changes how valuable an SLA is to a race.
An Aasimar's ability to cast Daylight is essentially cool flavor that may eventually come in handy once or twice over the course of a campaign. Allowing him to use it to qualify for a PrC though means that he now has access to things most other races cannot get, like being able to take 1 level of sorcerer and 1 level of a martial class and jump into Eldritch Knight at 3rd level for full caster and BAB progression. It's a benefit most races can't get until 5th to 7th level. That means that an SLA is now worth its wait in gold, not for what it actually does, but for what it qualifies you for. That essentially throws the whole race point system from the ARG right out the window, and pushes races that were arguably at an advantage like the aasimar and tiefling into a clear advantage well over their counterparts who lack SLA's.


VRMH wrote:
The PrC requires a character to be "Able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells." Note: "spells", not "spell". So you'd need at least one additional spell or SLA.

Are you suggesting then that a Ftr 1 / Wiz 5 with 14int is not eligible for Eldritch Knight? They would only have one 3rd level spell per day.

Or is it that they don't qualify unless they have two third level spells in their book?


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The wording of the requirements for a prestige class is important. You cannot meet a requirement of "Able to cast 3rd level spells" with any spell-like ability, since the requirement specifies spells. But if the requirement is "Able to cast Daylight", then your racial spell-like ability does qualify you.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oh -- that recent FAQ means that you can also meet a requirement or pre-requisite of "nth level caster", but if that prestige class advances caster level and you are not actually a spellcaster, it does you no good.


David knott 242 wrote:
The wording of the requirements for a prestige class is important. You cannot meet a requirement of "Able to cast 3rd level spells" with any spell-like ability, since the requirement specifies spells. But if the requirement is "Able to cast Daylight", then your racial spell-like ability does qualify you.
David knott 242 wrote:
Oh -- that recent FAQ means that you can also meet a requirement or pre-requisite of "nth level caster", but if that prestige class advances caster level and you are not actually a spellcaster, it does you no good.

Your first statement is not exactly true. The FAQ came from a discussion with SKR, who later in the discussion explicitly stated that an arcane spell-like ability would qualify you for taking the Arcane Strike feat, which has a prerequisite of "Ability to cast arcane spells." This is similar enough to the prerequisites for most caster PrCs to imply that it would function to qualify for those as well.

As for the latter, you're right that it wouldn't help if you weren't a spellcaster - but for a character of a race with SLAs who happens to be a caster, it can allow them to qualify earlier for a PrC.


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I think this is ridiculous. I'm hitting the FAQ button in hopes there will be a quick official answer to shoot this down. I find it hard to believe they want people jumping into prestige classes at level 2. :/

Liberty's Edge

It might be ridiculous, but it isn't really all that powerful. Several of us are looking at ways to make it break the game and really, there aren't any. The best anyone has so far come up with is early entry into mystic theurge, which makes mystic theurge just not suck.


Agreed, Strannik.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

It works.

Really though, this has no effect on the build of "Min/Maxers".

Most PrCs are quite weak, and this simply allows some PrCs to actually see play.

I have never been in any Pathfinder game with a PC who had levels in a PrC.

Now, I might actually see them in action.


I have seen many PrC's in play. Hellknights, Signifers, Mystic Theurges, Shadow Dancers, just to name a few of the most memorable.


Azuroth wrote:
VRMH wrote:
you'd need at least one additional spell or SLA.

Are you suggesting then that a Ftr 1 / Wiz 5 with 14int is not eligible for Eldritch Knight? They would only have one 3rd level spell per day.

Or is it that they don't qualify unless they have two third level spells in their book?

The latter. There's no requirement to be able to cast different spells on the same day, but your Wizard would indeed not qualify with just one 3rd level spell in their grimoire.


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ShadowcatX wrote:
It might be ridiculous, but it isn't really all that powerful. Several of us are looking at ways to make it break the game and really, there aren't any. The best anyone has so far come up with is early entry into mystic theurge, which makes mystic theurge just not suck.

Although there may be the potential for abusing this for power gaming purposes, I'm more concerned w/ the whole point of prestige classes being undermined by this idea. I've never thought of a second level character as particularly prestigious. If they really want prestige classes to start at level two, then I think they should just rewrite it as an archetype or an alternate class. It would be like making the ninja a prestige class w/ a requirement of being able to sneak attack. It's silly. Prestige classes should be something people strive to become, not something that every gnome or aasimar can become at level 2.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Strannik wrote:
ShadowcatX wrote:
It might be ridiculous, but it isn't really all that powerful. Several of us are looking at ways to make it break the game and really, there aren't any. The best anyone has so far come up with is early entry into mystic theurge, which makes mystic theurge just not suck.
Although there may be the potential for abusing this for power gaming purposes, I'm more concerned w/ the whole point of prestige classes being undermined by this idea. I've never thought of a second level character as particularly prestigious. If they really want prestige classes to start at level two, then I think they should just rewrite it as an archetype or an alternate class. It would be like making the ninja a prestige class w/ a requirement of being able to sneak attack. It's silly. Prestige classes should be something people strive to become, not something that every gnome or aasimar can become at level 2.

If we're talking about what makes sense conceptually, then how come it's just as easy for a completely nonmagical race (such as human) to blend spell and steel as it is for a race with exotic and intrinsic magical capabilities? Shouldn't a more "magical" creature have an easier time achieving those capabilities?


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Jiggy wrote:
If we're talking about what makes sense conceptually, then how come it's just as easy for a completely nonmagical race (such as human) to blend spell and steel as it is for a race with exotic and intrinsic magical capabilities? Shouldn't a more "magical" creature have an easier time achieving those capabilities?

That's a good point, but I don't think it should be the difference between entering a PRC at level 2 instead of waiting for level 7. That seems a bit much to me.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

At which point it's a matter of preference, and you're entitled to yours. :)


As we all are. :)

I'm also entitled to hit that FAQ button b/c I think this is ridiculous. :P

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I personally find my curiosity to just get an answer is stronger than my desire for it to go one way or the other. :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I find it weird, but it does not really upset balance.

RAW supports it's viability, until there is Errata.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

My biggest issue with it is that it drastically increases the value of having an SLA, any SLA, just to be able to qualify for feats, PrC's, etc.
I don't think the mechanic of allowing them to be used to qualify by itself is a bad thing, but I do think it screws with the balance between races, since this pretty much just throws the Race point system right out the window unless they increase the assigned value of an SLA substantially.

I do like that it opens up a lot of neat possibilites for magical races who aren't primarily spellcasters though.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

There are ways to get SLAs without being a "magical" race.


Ssalarn wrote:

My biggest issue with it is that it drastically increases the value of having an SLA, any SLA, just to be able to qualify for feats, PrC's, etc.

I don't think the mechanic of allowing them to be used to qualify by itself is a bad thing, but I do think it screws with the balance between races, since this pretty much just throws the Race point system right out the window unless they increase the assigned value of an SLA substantially.

I do like that it opens up a lot of neat possibilites for magical races who aren't primarily spellcasters though.

Unequality between races is nothing new though. Dwarves will never be good casty oracles or sorcerers for example: no one thinks thats a horrible thing, right?

So whats inherently wrong with some races having an easier time here?

Its not even a hard lock like Dwarven Defender and such used to be... its just an advantage.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

blackbloodtroll wrote:
There are ways to get SLAs without being a "magical" race.

Right, but typically not without sacrificing a level (for a class feature)/trait/feat to pick it up. That means that having a baked in SLA is equivalent to the race having an extra class feature/trait/feat on top of the benefit they're already getting from the SLA.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VRMH wrote:
Azuroth wrote:
VRMH wrote:
you'd need at least one additional spell or SLA.

Are you suggesting then that a Ftr 1 / Wiz 5 with 14int is not eligible for Eldritch Knight? They would only have one 3rd level spell per day.

Or is it that they don't qualify unless they have two third level spells in their book?

The latter. There's no requirement to be able to cast different spells on the same day, but your Wizard would indeed not qualify with just one 3rd level spell in their grimoire.

So a Sorcerer 6/Ftr 1 don't qualify as he know only 1 3rd level spell?


Again, I'll point out that the discussion that led up to the most recent FAQ on this with SKR does not agree with what VRMH is implying.

SKR stated that having an SLA would qualify you to take the Arcane Strike feat.

Arcane Strike has a prerequisite of "Ability to cast arcane spells".

If what VRMH is implying were true, it would invalidate SKR's statement.

Grammatically, the pluralization of a word can indicate multiples, or it can indicate a category that has multiple values within it. In this case, "spells" is not indicating multiple spells, but the category of spellcasting of a particular 'type' - arcane or divine.

To offer another argument: Interpreting "spells" to imply that you must be able to cast more than one would lead to a (hypothetical) situation where a prerequisite of "Must be able to cast an arcane spell" would have to be interpreted to mean that you can only take it if you can cast one, and only one, arcane spell.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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So to sum it up more concisely:

We have designer commentary explicitly allowing one SLA to satisfy a prereq of "arcane spells". The only thing different about the EK's prereq is "3rd-level".

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Whoa, the OP just got marked as "Answered in the FAQ".


Welp, 2nd level Mystic Theurges all around I guess!

EDIT: Well, maybe not level 2, but that's the first thing that popped my head.

I suppose it was their intention to allow Spell-like abilities to qualify for PRCs. I am honestly shocked. I'll have to take some time to decide if this is worth House Ruling or not.


Level 4 is the soonest you can enter mystic theurge.

You could have a level 3 Eldritch Knight (level 2 technically, but only the magus could do this, and actually have the arcane spells to advance).

Edit: Separated my two posts to make it more clear I was commenting on the two different PrCs and the ability to enter


David_Bross wrote:
Level 4 is the soonest you can enter mystic theurge. You could have a level 3 Eldritch Knight (level 2 technically, but only the magus could do this, and actually have the arcane spells to advance).

This for MT. Remember they still have a 3 skill ranks requirements :)


CRobledo wrote:
David_Bross wrote:
Level 4 is the soonest you can enter mystic theurge. You could have a level 3 Eldritch Knight (level 2 technically, but only the magus could do this, and actually have the arcane spells to advance).
This for MT. Remember they still have a 3 skill ranks requirements :)

magus/eldritch knight could be a legal substitute for an arcane paladin...not a great one but still. after looking through the core, apg, and paths of prestige, I have come to the conclusion this is really only worthwhile for the mystic theurge(though it was worth keeping for that reason alone).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I have changed my stance based entirely on how much this would annoy friends of mine who simply want to play a game that is obvious in its effects/intentions rather than a game you have to over analyze.

I would appreciate it if Paizo gave an official stance. I would prefer they not allow SLA to qualify for PrC's that require, specifically, spell-casting levels. Of course it works RAW, but we are so far from RAI it's beginning to feel like a Magic tournament.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

How do you know this isn't "RAI"?

Silver Crusade

Shane LeRose wrote:

I have changed my stance based entirely on how much this would annoy friends of mine who simply want to play a game that is obvious in its effects/intentions rather than a game you have to over analyze.

I would appreciate it if Paizo gave an official stance. I would prefer they not allow SLA to qualify for PrC's that require, specifically, spell-casting levels. Of course it works RAW, but we are so far from RAI it's beginning to feel like a Magic tournament.

It's worth keeping in mind that the devs inherited a lot of text from 3.5 that they didn't have time to fully comb over and build from the ground up. SKR's posts in one of the original threads gave me the impression that they felt a little backed into some of these rulings by the text. He said something to the effect of "until I found text that" and suggested that if they were rewriting they would probably go for something more sensible.

I agree with the "this is just silly weird"—but a *lot* of PF rules clusters are like that and it's all through SLAs. In part this is attributable to taking over a ton of text on short notice. But all told the folks at Paizo seem to have their heads on straight even if sometimes their hands are tied.

So I guess ... wait for PF 2.0? In the meantime it's not *that* terrible. Just houserule it.

ADDED here is the specific post I was thinking of, which implies somewhat the opposite of what I had thought–this makes the current wrinkle look even more RAI.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Cheapy wrote:


Specifically, this part:
The Sean K. Reynolds wrote:
SLAs are not spells. SLAs merely duplicate the effects of spells and can be disrupted like spells, but they don't come with the innate know-how of "a spell is element X, Y, and Z, combined for a specific effect," which is the sort of knowledge you need to incorporate a spell into a magic item. An SLA is "I think really hard, and this neat thing happens," it's a shorthand way of creating/manipulating a power that you don't actually understand. It's like knowing that you want to create a rabbit with glowing fur, and you have one guy who studied glowing jellyfish and understand how the genes work, and another guy who can cut open a glow-stick to let all the toxic glowing chemicals out.
emphasis mine.

I found rules text that says otherwise, thus the new FAQ about crafting magic items with SLAs. Which pleases me, as I like the idea of a demon or whatever being able to craft magic items without having to take levels in a spellcasting class.

Would the game be simpler if spell-like abilities worked exactly like spells in every way possible? Hell yeah. But we inherited some 3.5 text and didn't get a chance to change it when making PF, so we're stuck with the little technicalities (such as spell trigger items). Ah, well.

Shadow Lodge

Shane LeRose wrote:
I would appreciate it if Paizo gave an official stance.

They did. They marked this as "Answered in FAQ." Since the question was, "Can I do what the FAQ seems to suggest I can do?" the official answer is yes.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
How do you know this isn't "RAI"?

Really? RAI? This is what they meant ALL ALONG and have been doing in their games at the Paizo offices since day one?

I do apology for any perceived snark, believe me, it is well intended.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Shane LeRose wrote:
RAI? This is what they meant ALL ALONG and have been doing in their games at the Paizo offices since day one?

Which question are we asking here? What the intent was when the text was first published? Or the current intent of the Pathfinder design team?

There's nothing that says those have to be the same. It could very well be the case that the PrC's were originally written with one intent, but now Paizo's folks have an entirely different idea of the role and nature of those same PrC's. And it could well be that the current FAQ (and its implications) violates one of those without violating the other.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

I'm honestly a BIT surprised. Although what I was expecting wasn't really any change to the ruling on SLAs itself, which I think is the issue Paizo focused on, but a ruling on the wording of the pre-req's themselves.

When requirements say 'casts Nth level spells' in the indefinite plural, that is not really the same thing as saying 'casts X spell' (X = specific spell of Nth level) but simply without a specific spell requirement. The latter clearly works with SLAs, enabling e.g. Dimension Door SLAs to count as being able to cast Dimension Door. When a requirement says 'cast Nth level spells' in the indefinite plural, that grammar doesn't truly indicate that being able to cast one specific spell qualifies, or even definitively indicate that casting multiple specific spells qualifies (which should be expressed by something like 'cast X Nth level spells', if it means 2 or more it should say that). The indefinite plural reference is most appropriate to indicate that you can cast Nth levels spells IN GENERAL (which may even only be 1 spell known and 1 spell slot).

English is not very precise in that regard and it's POSSIBLE that such usage of indefinite plural doesn't necessarily refer to 'casting Nth level spells IN GENERAL', but the phrase itself is open to that reading and given that there is other phrasing which would more clearly indicate that casting 1, 2, or more individual spells is adequate, the indefinite plural reading indicating the meaning of 'casting Nth levels spells IN GENERAL' would seem to be the safest bet. Certainly that would not be a stretch ruling for Paizo to make just based on the RAW. Now, that actually means SLAs would NOT qualify for Arcane Strike (contrary to SKR's forum posting), but even though I don't really find the Arcane Strike application iself inappropriate, it's not really the end of the world if that doesn't work, either... So it seems like the ruling chould be freely made based off the RAW and other implications of the rule, e.g. PrCs with the indefinite plural spellcasting requirements.

Anyhow... Now dawns the Age of SLA Race Caster PrC's...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I feel that many people are just, unwilling, to accept that PrCs are simply not the Powerhouses they believe them to be.

None of the PrCs now available earlier, are going to break balance.


i'm mainly just baffled by if this was the intended function all along, why nobody knew that, and why you never saw such characters in play or print. how can the intent just now be suddenly revealed?
it seems a bit odd for race features to so drastically effect class builds in this way, whichever way you think is balanced and appropriate. personally, i always thought MT really had too steep of entry requirements in general, that at one half of it's caster split should have it's prereq's lowered, but to have that so drastically changed for only a few races but not in general just feels off to me. /shrug


Quandary wrote:
i'm mainly just baffled by if this was the intended function all along..

Stop you there. Look six posts above the one I quoted. You'll find a reversing of intent based on a rereading of the rules.

Liberty's Edge

I don't think that the Pathfinder Design Team realized the full ramifications of this small change. Of course, they are few where the community is many.

I applaud paizo for taking the reigns on answering so many of the FAQ requests...but I think they need to review and clarify this one again (as well as a few others; but that is a different matter).


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Ximen Bao wrote:
Stop you there. Look six posts above the one I quoted. You'll find a reversing of intent based on a rereading of the rules.

Thanks for the heads-up, but that doesn't resolve the issue here for me.

Honestly, everything I have seen so far makes me think that Paizo has based all their rulings on this solely off their reading of the rules defining SLAs, which isn't in contention for me, SLAs of X spell certainly qualify as 'casting X spell'... That covers using SLAs for magical crafting and pre-reqs of casting specific spells e.g. the FAQ example of Dimensional Agility.

But it doesn't seem they have taken into account the indefinite plural grammar of both Arcane Strike and Casting PrCs, which all use a variant of "ability to cast [Nth level] [arcane|divine] spells". The petition about the implications for PrC pre-reqs was responded to with "Answered in FAQ" but all of the related FAQs only deal with the definition of SLAs as spells, not the grammar of these pre-reqs themselves. Now this grammar is pretty subtle, I hadn't even taken notice of it myself back when SKR was directly posting in the relevant thread, but it certainly seems more than relevant to the RAW functionality.

"ability to cast [Nth level] [arcane|divine] spells" as in Arcane Strike and Casting PrCs is using an indefinite plural.
If the intent was for the ability to cast any one spell or SLA to qualify, it should say "ability to cast a spell" or "one spell" or "any one spell", but it does not say that, it uses an indefinite plural. So just having one qualifying SLA shouldn't enable Arcane Strike.
The grammar is less certain beyond this point because English is not always that precise of a language, but the usage of indefinite plural here either is (most precisely) meaning the ability to cast spells "in general", or (less precisely, but plausibly valid) meaning the ability to multiple different spells (i.e. 2+, enough to invoke the plural).

Compare the requirement: "ability to see invisible creatures".
If you can't see invisible creatures in general, but can only see one specific invisible creature "Joe", you can't say you fulfill that, because the requirement is in the plural, not "ability to see AN invisible creature", or "see ONE invisible creature" or "see Joe the invisible creature".
If you can see 2 or 3 invisible creatures, you could technically claim you fulfill that because 2 or 3 satisfies the plural tense.
If you can see invisible creatures in general, i.e. all of them (or most of them barring specific exception on their part), then you CLEARLY fulfill the requirement because you fulfill both the plural and indefinite tenses.

So on a RAW basis I don't see how ONE SLA could possibly qualify for these cases.
The distinction between plural and indefinite plural is not clear-cut here, and Paizo could plausibly rule either way while not straying from the RAW, albeit the true indefinite plural which requires the ability to cast spells "in general" seems the more likely reading/intent to me. In any case, the grammar there is clearly sufficient to treat those cases differently than the Dimensional Agility example. It seems well within the remit of Paizo to make a FAQ ruling confirming the difference between the merely plural and the indefinite plural readings without going against the RAW, which is the supposed basis for these rulings (not a Paizo intervention to supersede the RAW).

Xaratherus wrote:
To offer another argument: Interpreting "spells" to imply that you must be able to cast more than one would lead to a (hypothetical) situation where a prerequisite of "Must be able to cast an arcane spell" would have to be interpreted to mean that you can only take it if you can cast one, and only one, arcane spell.

You are invoking a false symmetry, and missing the distinction between specific plural tense (2+ spells) and indefinite plural (spells in general). "Must be able to cast an arcane spell" (or "must be able to cast one spell") doesn't say "must ONLY cast one spell", the ability to cast 12 spells supersedes and includes the ability to cast 1 spell. Just as "must have killed one person" is fulfilled by killing hundreds of people.

What poster VRMH wrote is correct. SKR's ruling on Arcane Strike is simply not supported by the RAW that has been referenced. The only RAW that he or Paizo seem to have referenced is the definition of SLA's themselves, which is sufficient for Dimensional Agility, but AFAIK they simply have not addressed the grammar of Arcane Strike or the Caster PrC pre-reqs, whether to disagree with VRMH or otherwise.

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