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Some powers have extra or different benefits depending on which class features you pick. For the purposes of this question I will refer to the power which prompted it, the Swordmage's level 3 Encounter power Dual Lightning Strike, which can be found in Arcane Power.

Dual Lightning Strike's Effect reads:

Effect: You teleport 5 squares and make a secondary attack.

Which is followed by this special benefit:

Aegis of Assault: The number of squares you teleport equals 4 + your Strength modifier.

I'm making a hybrid Psion-Swordmage who has 10 Strength and Melee Training (Int), so his Strength modifier is zero. He has the Aegis of Assault, so can I choose to teleport 5, or do I have to use the Aegis of Assault benefit and teleport only 4?

I realize that some potentially questionable design decisions were made in creating this character, such as an Assault swordmage with 10 Strength or the combination of Assault and a controller. Please rest assured that these decisions were made due to thematic reasons and focus your answers on the actual question.

A good answer will have rationale one way or another. A reference to a rules book, official FAQ, errata, interview with a game designer, or something along those lines would be best.

Note that the near the beginning of the Swordmage Powers section in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide it says:

Some swordmage powers include a line titled "Aegis of Assault" or "Aegis of Shielding." You gain this extra benefit only if you selected the aegis of assault or aegis of shielding power, respectively.

It seems odd that I would be worse at teleporting because I have the Aegis of Assault, but the way I read that last quote it's hard to say. It doesn't explicitly say that I must gain the benefit, just that I only gain it if I choose the right Aegis. A 'must' or 'may' in that sentence would really help.

Now, let's assume that I can decide to ignore the extra benefit and teleport 5, whether because that's a RAW interpretation or because my DM house-ruled it. If my Strength increases in the future and I manage to get a +2 modifier, can I then change my mind and start using the benefit, or do you think that that's a permanent choice one would make when gaining the power?

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2 Answers 2

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As long as you have the class feature, it would apply for you. It is not optional. (see below)

There are no rules that allow you to voluntary forfeit your class feature, feat, attack bonus, defense, or other character abilities. Since there are no rules that says they can be switched off, by the remaining rules they can only be assumed to be always effective.

Rules compendium described these entries as "class feature riders":

Power Description, Class Feature Rider: (Rules Compendium p.98)

(Class feature) rider applies only if the character using the power has the class feature. Many class feature riders are indented and are therefore contingent on another entry in a power. Unless otherwise noted, a class feature rider that is not indented should be treated like an 'Effect' entry. In other words, the rider's effect simply happens for the character who has the class feature.

Power Description, Effect: (Rules Compendium p.96)

Whatever is described in an "Effect" entry simply happens, regardless of its position in the sequence of entries.

Power Description, Indentation: (Rules Compendium p.92)

When a power entry is indented, that entry is a subentry and is contingent on the entry above it.

As you can see, here we have nothing that says 'can' or 'may', implying the character cannot choice to selectively activate a power's entries. (Indeed, otherwise it would be possible for characters to skip parts that are bad to them)


While switching off your class ability is not possible by rules as written, I think your case is obviously intended as a buff not penalty, so perhaps you should discuss with your DM to arrange for an exception, if you think the 1 square is worth fighting for.

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Taking the special benefit is not optional. (The rules never say it is up to you. I can not give you a page number for this naturally)
Even if it is not actually beneficial for you.

Let me also add some minor advice however:

  1. Giving the character a Strength of 10 is a great decision. Constitution is far more important, even on an Assault Swordmage.
  2. A Controller is better paired with a Shielding swordmage. Why would you want to be adjacent to a bad guy with a Psion? Assault gives you just that.
  3. Take Intelligent Blademaster instead of Melee Training if you insist on Assault. You get better damage, and you can use it for ranged basic attacks with Heavy Thrown Weapons as well.
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Need some justification of why it's not optional. A rule reference or something. I specifically asked that the merits of the character's design not be discussed. Melee Training in Player's Handbook 2 gives you the full damage, unlike the one in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. I don't see how you could use a melee weapon on a ranged basic. Wouldn't that be a thrown weapon? –  DCShannon May 23 at 21:57
    
You asked not to discuss its Strength. Melee Training in PHB2 is obsoleted by Heroes of Forgotten Kingdom. Using the old version is houseruling/cheating depending on your point of view. With Intelligent Blademaster you can only throw Thrown weapons, but the Farbond Spellblade enchant can make any blade thrown. –  András May 23 at 22:17
    
I edited the question to clarify what I'm looking for in an answer. –  DCShannon May 23 at 22:29
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