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While making a character, I noticed that a lot of the rage-powers the barbarians have are vague on level requirements. The Renewed Vigor ability, for example, states that the barbarian must be at least 4th level before they can take it. Would that be character level, or barbarian level?

A lot of the rage powers are vague like this. Raging Climber, Leaper, and Swimmer all say 'adds her level as an enchantment bonus on __" However, they don't define it as character level, or Barbarian level.

I ask because the Paladin Smite and Lay on Hands abilities both specify that their effects are dependent on Paladin level, and not just 'level.'

At first, I figured, 'Meh, it's an oversight on the writers part. No way they'd make multiclassing that OP.' But when I started looking at some of the things you can do with that they really aren't that broken. A multiclass Barbarian/Fighter with 2 levels in each would have the same BAB as a straight 4th level of either, no reflex or will saves to speak of, but a stupid-high fortitude save. Pretty standard, for that build.

If you leveled it right, then you'd have total, Bravey +1, two bonus feats, Rage, Fast movement, a rage power (Renewed Vigor), and Uncanny Dodge. As opposed to a straight fighter, who'd have three bonus feats, and Armor training 1, or a straight Barbarian who'd have Rage, Fast movement, 2 rage powers (one could be Renewed vigor), Uncanny dodge, and trap sense +1.

Yes, the first build would be slightly more min-maxed, as Trap Sense isn't combat-oriented, and armor training isn't all that helpful, but they'd still be giving up the abilities.

So, all that said; How do level-dependent abilities that do not specify character level or class level work among the core classes?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

If listed as part of a class’s description, it is your class level in that class. Rage powers would therefore mean Barbarian class level when they refer to level. Exceptions will specify another level explicitly. “Character level” is used to indicate your total, overall level.

If the ability in question is not a class feature, but rather a feat, item, or something else, then that is probably an oversight; such things should always specify. Check any errata files, and if there’s nothing, ask your DM (or if you are the DM, make a judgment call).

With thanks to Jonathan Hobbs for finding the link, here is a statement by Jason Buhlmann, lead designer, confirming this.

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