"Backleveling" / Retraining Prequisites


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

Here's a question. Imagine that I'm making a monk and I want to qualify for Dimensional Assault as early as possible. I come up with the following scheme...

I level till; Monk Level 5. Then, I gain a sixth level and I have a total of 6 ranks in geography. Now I can qualify for Horizon Walker.

I retrain two levels of Monk for Horizon Walker levels and take my third level of Horizon Walker to gain a Spell-Like Dimension Door. Then I retrain two feats for Dimensional Agility and Dimensional Assault.

Now, I am a Monk Level 3, Horizon Walker 3, with Dimensional Agility and Dimensional Assault.

Is that legal?

Relevant sections:

Quote:

Some feats have prerequisites. Your character must have the indicated ability score, class feature, feat, skill, base attack bonus, or other quality designated in order to select or use that feat. A character can gain a feat at the same level at which he gains the prerequisite.

A character can’t use a feat if he loses a prerequisite, but he does not lose the feat itself. If, at a later time, he regains the lost prerequisite, he immediately regains full use of the feat that prerequisite enables.
Quote:
Prestige classes allow characters to become truly exceptional, gaining powers beyond the ken of their peers. Unlike the core classes, characters must meet specific requirements before they can take their first level of a prestige class. If a character does not meet the requirements for a prestige class before gaining any benefits of that level, that character cannot take that prestige class. Characters that take levels in prestige classes do not gain any favored class bonuses for those levels.
Quote:

Retraining

When retraining multiple character options (class features, feats, classes, etc.) in one continuous period, all of the new selections are made at the end of that period in an order decided by the player. If this period is interrupted for any reason all choices must be made immediately. In this way players can retrain class features and their prerequisites at the same time.
Quote:

[Retraining] Class Levels

[...]
When you retrain a class level, you lose all the benefits of the highest level you have in that class. You immediately select a different class, add a level in that class, and gain all the benefits of that new class level.
This retraining does not allow you to reselect the feats your character gains at odd levels or the ability score increases your character gains every four levels (though you can retrain those options separately). If retraining a class level means you no longer qualify for a feat, prestige class, or other ability you have, you can’t use that feat, prestige class, or ability until you meet the qualifications again. (You can still retrain that feat, prestige class, or other ability.)

A line that is conspicuously missing is one saying, "the resulting character must be one you could have created only through leveling normally".

There's the possibility that "the benefits of the highest level" refers to skill ranks also, but it goes on to say that that retraining doesn't allow you to do certain things that, under the same breath as the argument about skill ranks, would be called the benefits of a level.


They intentionally patched out tricks like this. See here.

The key bit...

FAQ wrote:
Update 10/16/13: New ruling: You cannot use retraining to replace a base class level with a prestige class level.

The Exchange

There's a couple of issues here. We'll start with the second paragraph:

Quote:
I level till; Monk Level 5. Then, I gain a sixth level and I have a total of 6 ranks in geography. Now I can qualify for Horizon Walker.

The order of leveling up is quite specific. You choose your class level (that you qualify for) THEN you get your skill points, hit points, feats, etc. You need to already have 6 ranks in Knowledge Geography before taking a level in Horizon Walker. So minimum character level of 7 for your first level in Horizon Walker.

The bigger issue is this FAQ:

Retraining: Can I retrain out of my base classes and use my prestige class levels to meet the requirements for that prestige class?

No.
The retraining rules say, "If retraining a class level means you no longer qualify for a feat, prestige class, or other ability you have, you can't use that feat, prestige class, or ability until you meet the qualifications again." Therefore, if you retrain out of the base class and that causes you to no longer meet the requirements of the prestige class, you no longer have access to the class features from that prestige class, and therefore can't use that prestige class to meet the requirements of anything (including itself).

Update 10/16/13: In any case, you cannot use rule elements from a prestige class to meet the requirements of that prestige class.

Update 10/16/13: New ruling: You cannot use retraining to replace a base class level with a prestige class level.

edit: And, Snowblind with the 1-minute Ninja!

Sovereign Court

Woah, that FAQ is tripe. o.o And I don't mean because it prevents trick like this, but because, AS USUAL, they wildly overcompensate. They could have just written "the resulting character must have been able to be achieved through normal character progression" and everything would have been fine, but now we can't replace any base class levels for prestige classes? What a load of bull.

Alright, in any case, shifting from official to only and hypothetical RAW, ignoring the FAQ, what would you guys say the answer would be?


Sacredless wrote:
Woah, that FAQ is tripe. o.o And I don't mean because it prevents trick like this, but because, AS USUAL, they wildly overcompensate.

Just for your information, they rewrote it like 3 times and every time somebody came back and was like "Ha! But you still left in this loophole the way you wrote it and I intend to abuse it!"

And thus, they were forced to write it in a way that left no wiggle room at all and vastly overstepped what they had originally intended to do.

Sovereign Court

Claxon wrote:
Sacredless wrote:
Woah, that FAQ is tripe. o.o And I don't mean because it prevents trick like this, but because, AS USUAL, they wildly overcompensate.

Just for your information, they rewrote it like 3 times and every time somebody came back and was like "Ha! But you still left in this loophole the way you wrote it and I intend to abuse it!"

And thus, they were forced to write it in a way that left no wiggle room at all and vastly overstepped what they had originally intended to do.

They wrote their rules three times in a way that it was easy to exploit. That doesn't make me very sympathetic towards them making an unnecessary blanket statement from a place of panic and screwing up a fourth time.

Hell, they didn't have the same problem with feats, so why for prestige classes?

The Exchange

Sacredless wrote:
Alright, in any case, shifting from official to only and hypothetical RAW, ignoring the FAQ, what would you guys say the answer would be?

Im not sure what you are asking. Are you asking:

"Ignoring this official answer, what would the official answer be?"
-or-
"Would you allow me to do this in a home game?"


As a GM, I would not allow you to retrain early levels in order to get Prestige Class levels. It'd be one thing if you entered the Prestige Class later than necessary and wanted to retrain the levels between when you met the requirements and where you currently are (because that would be a legal combination of levels), but you'd still need to meet the basic requirements without counting the Prestige Class levels or any of their benefits. They're not meant to be entered into before a certain point, and retraining should not be used as a way of getting around that.

Sovereign Court

Belafon wrote:
Sacredless wrote:
Alright, in any case, shifting from official to only and hypothetical RAW, ignoring the FAQ, what would you guys say the answer would be?

Im not sure what you are asking. Are you asking:

"Ignoring this official answer, what would the official answer be?"
-or-
"Would you allow me to do this in a home game?"

The latter, or rather, what would your RAW interpretation be in a home game based on just these passages? I want to know your thought process.


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Sacredless wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Sacredless wrote:
Woah, that FAQ is tripe. o.o And I don't mean because it prevents trick like this, but because, AS USUAL, they wildly overcompensate.

Just for your information, they rewrote it like 3 times and every time somebody came back and was like "Ha! But you still left in this loophole the way you wrote it and I intend to abuse it!"

And thus, they were forced to write it in a way that left no wiggle room at all and vastly overstepped what they had originally intended to do.

They wrote their rules three times in a way that it was easy to exploit. That doesn't make me very sympathetic towards them making an unnecessary blanket statement from a place of panic and screwing up a fourth time.

Hell, they didn't have the same problem with feats, so why for prestige classes?

Eh, they wrote the rules that accomplished what they wanted and their intention was clear. But this is an issue of give an inch take a mile. I have sympathy for people trying to truly hammer down this sort of thing using a medium that lacks the necessary precision to do so. If they really wanted to be as specific as it would require for what they were trying to get done here, the entry would be voluminous. They tried to go the route where they give an answer that demonstrates what they intend and also clearly communicate the intent, but people still ran with it.

Personally, I can't fault them for at some point saying, essentially, "Fine. We tried to be accommodating, but if you don't want to play along, nobody can do it."


Exactly, at a certain point we all knew what they were trying to accomplish and what their intent was. But, to properly convey and write it down would have been very very lengthy. They try to avoid lengthy rules where possible. And so with every iteration they made that got longer to try to adequately explain things and then jerks would still take it and run with...well eventually you come down so hard with the BANHAMMER that it hits a little more than you intended.

But I can tell you with certainty, the sort of thing you're trying to do is exactly what they were trying to prevent.


Sacredless wrote:
Belafon wrote:
Sacredless wrote:
Alright, in any case, shifting from official to only and hypothetical RAW, ignoring the FAQ, what would you guys say the answer would be?

Im not sure what you are asking. Are you asking:

"Ignoring this official answer, what would the official answer be?"
-or-
"Would you allow me to do this in a home game?"

The latter, or rather, what would your RAW interpretation be in a home game based on just these passages? I want to know your thought process.

To be fair, "on just these passages" leaves out a huge piece of relevant information, which specifically is the FAQ saying, "No." So the RAW interpretation is "No" because the FAQ explicitly tells us that.

How I'd run it in a home game? Still no. Because I don't think the intent ever was really to allow class-wise characters that couldn't be created from level one. They wanted to allow retraining of unrelated classes to prestige levels, so long as doing so wouldn't mean you're bootstrapping prestige class requirements (you can't have level of the prestige class giving you abilities to satisfy prereqs for that same prestige class). But again, people ran with it.

Sovereign Court

fretgod99 wrote:
the entry would be voluminous.
"Claxon wrote:
But, to properly convey and write it down would have been very very lengthy.

No it wouldn't. "The resulting character from retraining class levels should be able to be achieved through normal character advancement." There. Done. I'd be disappointed, but not as frustrated as I am now. You talk about giving an inch and taking a mile; we, the players, are supposed to take miles. The designer's job (as a designer myself) is not give inches where you don't intend to and certainly not take away miles of content.

Nothing difficult about it. Why do you two keep insisting this stuff is hard?

Spoken as a game designer IRL and that stuff's coding. Every time Paizo makes an errata and overcompensates, the changes bleed into everything and change the meta of the game. Because of how huge this system has become, each choice snowballs into the next.

But rather than write their classes with greater care, it's like tabletop RPG companies are filing their homework at the very last hour. Where are the editors? Why don't they notice that books are getting messier and messier?

I'm not saying that each errata is an abomination, but the times that they overcompensate, they are removing character concept from the table. A lot of fair balance issues are nerfed into the ground for no reason, because they are suddenly scared about what it might do, rather than worry about the damage changing it so late into development might do.

fretgod99 wrote:
Personally, I can't fault them for at some point saying, essentially, "Fine. We tried to be accommodating, but if you don't want to play along, nobody can do it."

Yes you can. In fact, yes, you should. That's what game designers exist for; to accommodate their players. Where does this idea come from that game designers are permitted to be spiteful towards their players? I'm not even saying that they are spiteful, you are just making them out to be. You are frankly making them out to be even worse than they are, which is not what you want to be doing.

fretgod99 wrote:
To be fair, "on just these passages" leaves out a huge piece of relevant information, which specifically is the FAQ saying, "No." So the RAW interpretation is "No" because the FAQ explicitly tells us that.

RAW means "read as written". My question is not that hard. Based on reading these texts and the books they came from and based on just the sources before this errata was made, what do you think is a reasonable interpretation?

Claxon wrote:
But I can tell you with certainty, the sort of thing you're trying to do is exactly what they were trying to prevent.

Why are you so set on convincing me about something that I already know? I know what THEY were trying to prevent after the fact, but based on the historical context, what your ruling have been before these errata?

I'm at this point more rambling on about consumer awareness than I am about the retraining system, though. It's pretty alarming to hear someone apologize for game designers taking away people's toys that those people paid for, just because other people abused them.


No, I don't think you're power gaming scum for suggesting that the devs aren't outer gods.

I don't think the developers are gods. I think they're good people who try hard and sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes, players do frustrating things to the point where the only way they can make the rules work and end arguments and abuse is to paint the rules with too broad of strokes.

But, I do think you are being a bit of a jerk and showed disdain for the developers and I responded to that perceived aggression against them. When I tried to explain to you some context for their decision making process, you only had more hostility.

As for power gaming scum, well like I said I don't think your power gaming scum for your position against the developers. But I do think that your question of "If we ignore the FAQ and the developers intent how do we rule this?" does paint you in the light.

But I agree that there is not room for fruitful discussion on this topic any further.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Sacredless wrote:
I retrain two levels of Monk for Horizon Walker levels

Can't. You also can't use stuff a class gives you to qualify for the class itself.

Sacredless wrote:
A line that is conspicuously missing is one saying, "the resulting character must be one you could have created only through leveling normally".

You can use retraining to make characters that can't naturally occur. Just not by retraining base classes into PrC.

Sovereign Court

Quote:
But I do think that your question of "If we ignore the FAQ and the developers intent how do we rule this?" does paint you in the light.

As a designer, I am interested in how people process their opinions of RAW.

Yes, I am aggressive towards the designers. They're not my friends. They are not your friends, not within this business relationship. We are their clients. The point of having a business relationship is that consumers keep entrepreneurs on their toes.

Don't be mistaken, I wouldn't be this harsh on them if it were for a product that they had to work and charge for. Then it was their risk to take and I can vote with my wallet. But I can't do that here. They have backed down on a promise I made back when I first voted with my wallet and THAT is why I hate this kind of stuff. It's unethical from a consumer standpoint.

Quote:
Just not by retraining base classes into PrC.

Why not? Why'd prestige classes have to be shafted on this? They didn't have to, but they did it anyway.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Sacredless wrote:
Why'd prestige classes have to be shafted on this? They didn't have to, but they did it anyway.

Because the people that got the FAQ in the first place wouldn't take no for an answer and kept saying "But the RAW is blah".

Google for "Hellknight 6 at level 6" and you will find the thread that spawned the retraining FAQ and the updated "can't retrain base classes into prestige classes addendum.


I understand what RAW means (rules as written). I am also aware that FAQ responses are explicitly binding as official game rules. Thus, asking me to interpret rules in a book while ignoring the FAQ that unquestionably answers the query is asking me to ignore RAW, not apply it.

RAW, you cannot do this. The FAQ addresses this unequivocally.

I then went on to answer whether I thought your clearly non-RAW interpretation was valid. I also answered that no and provided reasoning. So I'm not sure why you appear to be so grumpy with my response.

If you don't like the RAW, play your home game however you want. It's no skin off my back. But you came to the Rules forum and asked about what the RAW is. So I gave you that answer. No.


Also, just noting that this particular FAQ was released two-and-a-half years ago.

*shrug*

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