FAQ. Supernatural activation time.


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How explicit does a supernatural ability need to be to change its activation time?

From the combat chapter:
"Supernatural Abilities (Su): Using a supernatural ability is usually a standard action (unless defined otherwise by the ability's description). Its use cannot be disrupted, does not require concentration, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity."

But some supernatural abilities, such as the witch's slumber hex and the warpriest's battle companion blessing, work "as" spells that have a full round cast time. Does being based on these spells increase the activation time of supernatural abilities to that of full round spells?


no


Chess Pwn wrote:
no

Assuming that this is directed at the last sentence of the post:

While I feel the same, that's not very helpful. Do you have any rules that I missed to help support this opinion.


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Here is the witch.

What do we see:

Quote:
Unless otherwise noted, using a hex is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The save to resist a hex is equal to 10 + 1/2 the witch's level + the witch's Intelligence modifier.

Do some hexes note how long the cast time is?

Yes ...

Quote:

Blight (Su): The witch can curse an animal, plant creature, or plot of land, causing it to wither and die. Blighting an area takes 1 round,

Quote:
Vision (Su): A witch with the vision hex can grant a glimpse of the future to a creature touched. Granting a vision takes 1 minute,

So - if the hex isn't a standard action - it says so.

If it doesn't say anything about cast time - then it's a standard action.


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The argument is that "otherwise noted" may be vague enough to include that the ability works "as" a spell, which has its own activation time.

I don't agree with that position, but apparently some people do.


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Melkiador wrote:

The argument is that "otherwise noted" may be vague enough to include that the ability works "as" a spell, which has its own activation time.

I don't agree with that position, but apparently some people do.

That'd be vague if none of the hexes ever listed a cast time - but some do - which shows that those with a cast time are *noted*.

A witch as a standard action with forced reincarnation can make everything save or die, and then instantly reincarnate. The spell takes 10 minutes to cast. The hex is a standard action.

With 'live giver' they can resurrect something with no cost - but it takes a full round - the spell is a standard action.

In every case where a hex isn't a standard action it is called out in the description - regardless of the spell it does or does not mimic. I don't buy that 'otherwise noted' means anything other than the specific description of the hex.

Scarab Sages

Do you have a more specific supernatural ability in mind?


The point is that working "as" a spell could could count as being "noted".


Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Do you have a more specific supernatural ability in mind?

"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon monster IV with a duration of 1 minute, but for only a good outsider or an animal with the celestial creature simple template. This ability can summon only one creature, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon monster spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 20th level)."

Scarab Sages

Melkiador wrote:
The point is that working "as" a spell could could count as being "noted".

Just sounds like your driving at a particular intended usage, but seem to be leaving it vague. Are the witch abilities listed intended to be examples only, or are they intended question? Are you asking about supernatural abilities in general, or are you specifically asking about a specific supernatural ability?


Melkiador wrote:
Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Do you have a more specific supernatural ability in mind?
"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon monster IV with a duration of 1 minute, but for only a good outsider or an animal with the celestial creature simple template. This ability can summon only one creature, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon monster spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 20th level)."

Considering that other classes can cast a summon spell legally as a standard action without these limitations (and actually with more bonuses) I don't see why that ability is overpowered as a standard action. It already has a heap of restrictions on it.

Scarab Sages

Melkiador wrote:
Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Do you have a more specific supernatural ability in mind?
"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon monster IV with a duration of 1 minute, but for only a good outsider or an animal with the celestial creature simple template. This ability can summon only one creature, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon monster spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 20th level)."

As written, doesn't say supernatural ability. What's it from?

I'd assume normal summoning time as per the spell, unless it says otherwise in the source.


This is about supernatural abilities in general, but was split off from a warpriest discussion. For comparison, spell like abilities have this text:
"A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell."

Now, do supernatural abilities not have that line because they don't care about the spell's casting time or simply because there were no supernatural abilities that worked as spells at the time of its writing?


Blessings are a supernatural ability with this text:
"Unless otherwise noted, using a blessing is a standard action."

But what counts as "noted"? Is working as a spell "noted"?


Melkiador wrote:

Blessings are a supernatural ability with this text:

"Unless otherwise noted, using a blessing is a standard action."

But what counts as "noted"? Is working as a spell "noted"?

Quote:

Madness Blessing

Madness Supremacy (minor): At 1st level, as a swift action you can target a creature within 30 feet that has the cowering, frightened, panicked, or paralyzed condition

Unlucky Enemy (major): At 10th level, as an immediate action

Lead by Example (major): At 10th level, as a swift action

Back to the Grave (major): At 10th level, when using channel energy to heal living creatures, you can take a swift action

Double (minor): At 1st level, as a move action

They have no issues with using word count when they want the ability to use a different action type. As specific overrules general the ability always uses a standard unless it says otherwise.


But saying it works "as" a spell could also be considered specific. It may not be so much about word count as much as not being redundant. If being based on a spell is/was enough to change the activation time, then it would be redundant to again mention that the activation time isn't standard.

Scarab Sages

Unlike the witch, I'm not seeing anything in the Warpriest's Blessing (su) description that would suggest it would take less or more time than the spell. I would assume a casting time of 1 round, as per the spell.

The advantage of the (su) ability is here:

"Supernatural Abilities: These can't be disrupted in combat and generally don't provoke attacks of opportunity. They aren't subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or dispel magic, and don't function in antimagic areas."

This is found in the Magic section of the core rulebook, the quote it copied from PRD.


"Unless otherwise noted, using a blessing is a standard action."
"Unless otherwise noted, using a hex is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity"

Blessings and hexes seem pretty much the same in this regard.


Murdock Mudeater wrote:

Unlike the witch, I'm not seeing anything in the Warpriest's Blessing (su) description that would suggest it would take less or more time than the spell. I would assume a casting time of 1 round, as per the spell.

The advantage of the (su) ability is here:

"Supernatural Abilities: These can't be disrupted in combat and generally don't provoke attacks of opportunity. They aren't subject to spell resistance, counterspells, or dispel magic, and don't function in antimagic areas."

This is found in the Magic section of the core rulebook, the quote it copied from PRD.

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedClassGuide/classes/warpriest.htm l

It's laid out differently than the witches hex - oddly - but under the blessings list:

Quote:


A warpriest can select any two blessings granted by his deity. The blessings a deity grants have the same names as the deity's domains. Unless otherwise noted, using a blessing is a standard action. A warpriest without a deity can select any two blessings (subject to GM discretion). If a blessing's power duplicates a spell effect, the warpriest's caster level for that power is equal to his warpriest level.

And then note that many blessings note a cast time different than a standard action - again they don't waste words when they don't have to - but when it's not a standard they explicitly call it out - they don't do that to a bunch of them and then not to this one because ... (I couldn't come up with a reason).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think it is fairly apparent that 'works as a spell' describes the effects of the supernatural ability, not how it is activated. This is one way in which supernatural abilities are different from spell-like abilities, which activate similarly to, and resolve as the spell they are 'like.'


For a different use of 'as' try this:

Quote:
Liberation (minor): At 1st level, as a swift action, you can ignore for 1 round impediments to your mobility and effects that cause paralysis (as freedom of movement). You can activate this blessing even if you're otherwise unable to take actions, but not if you're unconscious.

Freedom of movement is a standard action spell.

The blessing is 'as freedom of movement' - but because a blessing is a standard action typically and they wanted to change that action type - they call it out in the description.

So spell casting times in the 'as' section have no bearing on the blessing casting unless they state so in the description. Which is what unless otherwise noted means.

Scarab Sages

Ckorik wrote:
And then note that many blessings note a cast time different than a standard action - again they don't waste words when they don't have to - but when it's not a standard they explicitly call it out - they don't do that to a bunch of them and then not to this one because ... (I couldn't come up with a reason).

I see that, but the wording of the summoning ones doesn't suggest a standard action either, despite that note.

"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon nature’s ally V with a duration of 1 minute. This ability can summon only one animal, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon nature’s ally spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon nature’s ally IX at 18th level)."
Summoned nature's ally is a 1 round action. It specifically modifies the duration of spell, but makes no mention of modifying the casting time.

And before you mention other classes that cast a standard action, casting as a standard and using a Supernatural ability to summon are totally different. Su summons are far better than spells in most circumstances. A summoner that doesn't have to worry about provoking or making concentration tests while summoning is very cool with a 1 round casting time. Especially when it can't be dispelled or countered. And the spells granted are not under-leveled for comparable arcane/divine classes.


I would say an explicit note is "noted", otherwise the activation time us a standard action regardless of working "as a spell".


Murdock Mudeater wrote:

"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon nature’s ally V with a duration of 1 minute. This ability can summon only one animal, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon nature’s ally spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon nature’s ally IX at 18th level)."

Summoned nature's ally is a 1 round action. It specifically modifies the duration of spell, but makes no mention of modifying the casting time.

To paraphrase, one might instead have said it specifically notes the change in duration but does NOT specifically note any change to casting time.

We can therefore say that the casting time is not changed from the default standard action assumed for all abilities in that list.


Ckorik wrote:

For a different use of 'as' try this:

Quote:
Liberation (minor): At 1st level, as a swift action, you can ignore for 1 round impediments to your mobility and effects that cause paralysis (as freedom of movement). You can activate this blessing even if you're otherwise unable to take actions, but not if you're unconscious.

Freedom of movement is a standard action spell.

The blessing is 'as freedom of movement' - but because a blessing is a standard action typically and they wanted to change that action type - they call it out in the description.

So spell casting times in the 'as' section have no bearing on the blessing casting unless they state so in the description. Which is what unless otherwise noted means.

Of course, there would be nothing redundant in that example. The spell had one timing, which matched the default blessing timing, and the ability gave it a new timing. This is about a spell keeping its timing.


Murdock Mudeater wrote:


And before you mention other classes that cast a standard action, casting as a standard and using a Supernatural ability to summon are totally different. Su summons are far better than spells in most circumstances. A summoner that doesn't have to worry about provoking or making concentration tests while summoning is very cool with a 1 round casting time. Especially when it can't be dispelled or countered. And the spells granted are not under-leveled for comparable arcane/divine classes.

At 10th level the druid has already been able to use natures ally V for an entire level. At 10th your durations are the same.

Each level past 10th the druid (or other summoner) gets more time with the summon - where the blessing version is stuck at 1 minute.

The druid can summon multiple animals (using the lesser table) where you are stuck with one - in some fights this is a huge difference where you now provided a flanking buddy to all your companions - or created a shield wall around a hurt comrade - where you are limited to a single creature per use.

Any other character can take a feat to make some or all summons a 1 round cast time. Your blessing is a major class feature and you are locked into them based on your choices at first level. I can't fathom why it would be worse in almost every aspect (outside of not provoking) than another character can get as a side perk (I mean there is a trait that lets you summon as a standard for crying out loud).


An example that might help would be a supernatural ability that says it uses a swift and is based on a swift spell. Or says it takes a round and is based on a round spell.

Scarab Sages

Ckorik wrote:

At 10th level the druid has already been able to use natures ally V for an entire level. At 10th your durations are the same.

Each level past 10th the druid (or other summoner) gets more time with the summon - where the blessing version is stuck at 1 minute.

The druid can summon multiple animals (using the lesser table) where you are stuck with one - in some fights this is a huge difference where you now provided a flanking buddy to all your companions - or created a shield wall around a hurt comrade - where you are limited to a single creature per use.

Any other character can take a feat to make some or all summons a 1 round cast time. Your blessing is a major class feature and you are locked into them based on your choices at first level. I can't fathom why it would be worse in almost every aspect (outside of not provoking) than another character can get as a side perk (I mean there is a trait that lets you summon as a standard for crying out loud).

Su vs actually casting with a spell? Yea, Su is much better.

Yes, you could "circumstantially" make a spell version better, but you'd really have to specialize your PC to do this. I can think of several feats which I could use to make the spell version better, but summoning normally is already a "major" trait of the Druid.

As a stand alone ability, this "major" ability is strong with a 1 round casting time for a Su version of a spell.

As for the duration, a 10 round duration is plenty for every combat I've been in. Typically, if the combat goes on for more than 10 rounds, it's a mismatched battle.

And on a side note, when you get this ability, it's 8 times per day. That's Eight 5th level spells per day at 10th level without consuming spell slots. At 10th level, a druid can use only 2 spells of 5th level per day (more with high Wis). Not sure why you think it's lacking. This one is strong.


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Melkiador, stop it. You have been shown what "as noted" means in the context of both Witches and Warpriests. Your question has been answered decisively. There is no argument left.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

You are conflating two different things.

1) all blessings (in this example) have an assumed activation time of one standard action. Unless it says otherwise it is always a Standard Action.

2) after the activation phrase (which is unwritten if a standard action) then the descriptions tells what the effect does.

In this case you read Battle Companion as:

Battle Companion (major): At 10th level,[as a standard action] you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon nature’s ally V with a duration of 1 minute. This ability can summon only one animal, regardless of the list used. For every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon nature’s ally spell increases by 1 (to a maximum of summon nature’s ally IX at 18th level).

It is that simple. Just because an ability has a similar affect as a spell, it does not mean it IS that spell. This language "acts as XX spell" is just short hand, it means "we already wrote this so we're not going to waste our word count on reprinting half the CRB."

For this specific example, maybe a better FAQ is "if a blessing mimics a spell should it be designated as (SP) instead of (Su)."


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j b 200 wrote:
For this specific example, maybe a better FAQ is "if a blessing mimics a spell should it be designated as (SP) instead of (Su)."

One would assume not. Spell-like and Supernatural abilities work differently, and it is reasonable to assume that one was chosen rather than the other because the designer intended for those differences to apply.


Casual Viking wrote:
Melkiador, stop it. You have been shown what "as noted" means in the context of both Witches and Warpriests. Your question has been answered decisively. There is no argument left.

I haven't seen that, but maybe I missed it. Can you show me where "as noted" is defined?


Melkiador wrote:
Casual Viking wrote:
Melkiador, stop it. You have been shown what "as noted" means in the context of both Witches and Warpriests. Your question has been answered decisively. There is no argument left.
I haven't seen that, but maybe I missed it. Can you show me where "as noted" is defined?

It's when it's explicitly noted, as in coming out and giving another action type in the text. Mimicking a spell doesn't imply a change in action or it would be noted and it isn't.

Lantern Lodge

It's amazing how negative answers to leading questions generates such fine parsing of words.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Melkiador wrote:

Blessings are a supernatural ability with this text:

"Unless otherwise noted, using a blessing is a standard action."

But what counts as "noted"? Is working as a spell "noted"?

No. If it did include casting time, then shouldn't it also include components and everything else involved in casting a spell? At that point, it's no longer a supernatural ability - it's the spell.

When I see that it works "as spell x" I assume that refers mainly to the effects of the spell and not to the traditional spell-based methods of generating it. That may also involve range and target/area of effect, but I would not assume that it has any reference to casting time or components.


Now to throw up another odd one:
"Effect: At 1st level, the witch can use feather fall at will and gains a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks. At 3rd level, she can cast levitate once per day. At 5th level, she can fly, as per the spell, for a number of minutes per day equal to her level. These minutes do not need to be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute increments. This hex only affects the witch."

What is the action to activate feather fall? It won't work if it's standard. Personally, I think you actually cast that spell as a spell, components and all, but it's very vague.


Melkiador wrote:

Now to throw up another odd one:

"Effect: At 1st level, the witch can use feather fall at will and gains a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks. At 3rd level, she can cast levitate once per day. At 5th level, she can fly, as per the spell, for a number of minutes per day equal to her level. These minutes do not need to be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute increments. This hex only affects the witch."

What is the action to activate feather fall? It won't work if it's standard. Personally, I think you actually cast that spell as a spell, components and all, but it's very vague.

I'd assume that they forgot the explicit duration note on feather fall but it isn't useless and still works as a standard. It just requires you to ready an action to use it. Much less useful but still workable.

Myself, I'd let it work with the normal spell action but RAW it's a standard.


You're gaining access to an actual feather fall spell, not able to do something as feather fall.
Same with levitate.
Flying is as the spell so it's not the actual spell.

Lantern Lodge

Melkiador wrote:

Now to throw up another odd one:

"Effect: At 1st level, the witch can use feather fall at will and gains a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks. At 3rd level, she can cast levitate once per day. At 5th level, she can fly, as per the spell, for a number of minutes per day equal to her level. These minutes do not need to be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute increments. This hex only affects the witch."

What is the action to activate feather fall? It won't work if it's standard. Personally, I think you actually cast that spell as a spell, components and all, but it's very vague.

It is an odd one, to be sure.

I suppose technically RAW it should be a standard action since the default of a (Su) ability isn't specifically overridden, but it makes no sense to have it not function, so I have a strong preference for RAI here. I wouldn't say requiring spell components is warranted.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The general rule is applied except where a specific override is stated. There is no specific override in the original text of the flight hex. From the errata, we know the hex is meant to only apply to the witch not anyone else despite the at will part. Still, I see no specific notation that changes the action from a standard to an immediate.

The +4 swim bonus would seem to apply that the weight reduction is constant. The ability should most likely function as per a ring of feather falling. I would go with a RAI interpretation here myself.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

I think unless it says "as a [blah] action" then it is a standard action.
There is also some Su that appear to be permanent always active, like Divine Grace (Cha to saves). Most of those could be clear (because you can't use a standard action before rolling a save.)

This is something that may vary from table to table. I'd recommend "Ask your GM" and play with GM's that match your RAW version.

Scarab Sages

j b 200 wrote:
At 10th level,[as a standard action] you can summon a battle companion.

And that would be how you read it, which is fine, but not how I read it.

I think if they intended to change other aspects of the spell (like casting times) they would mention it when listing the other alterations of the spell as they did when they explained the duration alteration.

On a side note, summon monster/nature's ally are dismissible spells. Can the Su version be dismissed? I'm not seeing any rules for dismissing Su abilities, as they are clearly not spells. Maybe that was the point in changing the duration to 1 minute, is that they lose the dismissible quality.


In the warpriest thread that inspired this thread someone mentioned the playtest was more explicit before they decided to centralize the standard action rule:
"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, as a standard action you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon monster IV, with a duration of 1 minute, but can only summon a good outsider or an animal with the celestial creature simple template. This ability can only summon one creature, regardless of the list used. At every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon monster spell increases by one, to a maximum of summon monster IX at 20th level."

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

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Melkiador wrote:
playtest was more explicit before they decided to centralize the standard action rule

Otherwise known as "remove redundant sentences."

Scarab Sages

Melkiador wrote:

In the warpriest thread that inspired this thread someone mentioned the playtest was more explicit before they decided to centralize the standard action rule:

"Battle Companion (major): At 10th level, as a standard action you can summon a battle companion. This ability functions as summon monster IV, with a duration of 1 minute, but can only summon a good outsider or an animal with the celestial creature simple template. This ability can only summon one creature, regardless of the list used. At every 2 levels beyond 10th, the level of the summon monster spell increases by one, to a maximum of summon monster IX at 20th level."

And if that's what it said, I'd be down with that definition. That isn't what it says, which is the concern. The playtest is not the final version.

They have 6 different battle companion blessings with a very similar summon ability. If they were really looking to just remove similar worded blessings, it seems entirely reasonable that all of these could hacked down a lot smaller.

I don't buy it that the only reason to omit the standard action requirement is to make it shorter.


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It doesn't need to say it. It says all blessings standard actions unless otherwise noted. People have demonstrated that there are plenty of other places this is satisfied. There are plenty of classes that have supernatural powers that are quicker than their spell equivalents, for instance, teleportation subschool allows dim door as a swift action.

However, here blessings are standard actions unless otherwise noted. So these particular summons are standard actions (it's kind of like a version of sacred summons, which would make sense with a warpriest). Mentioning a spell type here is not "as noted" because the rules clearly note blessings which are not standard actions. I don't even see how this can be unclear.

Sovereign Court

So when you dig deep down, it turns out spell-like abilities are also "standard unless otherwise":

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp) Spell-like abilities are magical and work just like spells (though they are not spells and so have no verbal, somatic, focus, or material components). They go away in an antimagic field and are subject to spell resistance if the spell the ability is based on would be subject to spell resistance.

A spell-like ability usually has a limit on how often it can be used. A constant spell-like ability or one that can be used at will has no use limit; unless otherwise stated, a creature can only use a constant spell-like ability on itself. Reactivating a constant spell-like ability is a swift action. Using all other spell-like abilities is a standard action unless noted otherwise, and doing so provokes attacks of opportunity. It is possible to make a concentration check to use a spell-like ability defensively and avoid provoking an attack of opportunity, just as when casting a spell. A spell-like ability can be disrupted just as a spell can be. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.

But apparently it was necessary to specify specifically that Summon Monster could be SLA'ed as a Standard action by summoners (chained/unchained):

Summon Monster I (Sp): At 1st level, a summoner can cast summon monster I as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier. Drawing on this ability uses up the same power that the summoner uses to call his eidolon. As a result, he can use this ability only when his eidolon is not summoned. He can cast this spell as a standard action, and the creatures remain for 1 minute per level (instead of 1 round per level). At 3rd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the power of this ability increases by 1 spell level, allowing him to summon more powerful creatures (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 17th level). At 19th level, this ability can be used as gate or summon monster IX. If used as gate, the summoner must pay any required material components. A summoner cannot have more than one summon monster or gate spell active in this way at one time. If this ability is used again, any existing summon monster or gate from this spell-like ability immediately ends. These summon spells are considered to be part of the summoner's spell list for the purposes of spell trigger and spell completion items. In addition, the summoner can expend uses of this ability to fulfill the construction requirements of any magic item he creates, so long as he can use this ability to cast the required spell.

So both Supernatural and Spell-like abilities are by default standard actions, but there are examples where a non-Standard-action spell needs specific language to be SLA'd as using only a Standard action.


Magic>Spell-like ability wrote:
A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell

This is why it needs the specific language. Cause SLA are standards or spell length, whichever is longer.

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