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I have a summoner in Pathfinder. I have just reached level 5, and the PRD states:

Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third summoner level thereafter (8th, 11th, and so on), a summoner can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the summoner “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least one level lower than the highest-level summoner spell he can cast. A summoner may swap out only a single spell at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

Emphasis is mine, other spontaneous spellcasters have the same rule.

When they say "at any given level", does it mean that at 5th level I can swap only one spell? Or does it mean that I can swap one level 0th spell and one 1st level spell?

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4 Answers 4

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Let's break down the rules here line by line:

Upon reaching 5th level, and at every third summoner level thereafter (8th, 11th, and so on), a summoner can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows.

This places one restriction: you can only do this once every three levels.

In effect, the summoner “loses” the old spell in exchange for the new one.

This stops you from having both spells at once. Pretty obvious stuff.

The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged,

This means you can swap a 0 level spell for a different 0 level spell, or a level 1 spell for a level 1 spell, but not a 0 level spell for a level 1 spell or vice versa.

and it must be at least one level lower than the highest-level summoner spell he can cast.

This means at 5th level you can only choose to swap a 0-level spell (and receive a 0-level spell in return) or a 1st-level spell (and receive a 1st level spell in return) but not your highest spell level, which is 2.

A summoner may swap out only a single spell at any given level and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

Given the use of the word "level" twice in one sentence, we have to assume it means the same thing in each usage. Therefore, this means one of two things:

  1. You may only choose to swap a spell of the level you just gained. At level 4, you already knew a 2nd level spell, so you can perform no swaps
  2. You may only choose to swap one spell for level 5, and no more again until level 8. This means you cannot swap both a level 0 spell and a level 1 spell, only one or the other.

It seems clear that interpretation 2 is the one that makes sense.

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It just means that, when you gain a level at which you can perform a swap, you can only perform one swap. If you want to swap two spells, you need to do it across two separate levels. Any given level can only have at most one swap.

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It is telling you that you can only do one spell swap when you gain a level (and are at the appropriate level to swap) and that you have to do it at the time you are picking your new known spells for that level.

This is a little more clear when you look at the optional retraining rules from the ultimate campaign rules book which talks a little bit about the built in spells known swap for spontaneous casters:

Spells Known

If you are a spontaneous spellcaster (such as a bard, oracle, sorcerer, or summoner), you can retrain a spell known. This retraining takes 2 days per spell level of the new spell (or 1 day in the case of a cantrip or orison) and requires a trainer who can cast the spell you want. The trainer must cast the same kind of spells as you do (arcane or divine).

The spell with which you're replacing the previous spell must be another from your class spell list. The new spell must be one you could place in the old spell's spell slot. Note that this retraining is unrelated to the ability of sorcerers (or other spontaneous spellcasters) to learn a new spell in place of an old one at certain class levels. That class ability is free, happens instantly when the character gains an appropriate level in the spellcasting class, doesn't require a trainer, and can happen only once for any appropriate class level. Retraining a spell known requires you to spend gp, takes time, requires a trainer, and can happen as often as you want.

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It's deeply unclear

First of all, the rest of the paragraph stresses that you may only swap out one spell. So you only get to swap out one spell, not multiple. Sorry.

Secondly, it specifies that you can only swap out a spell of one level lower than your highest level of spell. So it probably isn't saying that can swap a spell of any level.

Finally, the sanest way to read it given the above is that you may only ever swap out ONE spell of any specific level. So, you can't swap out two 1st level spells, one at level 5 and one at level 8 - you may only ever swap out ONE 1st level spell.

That's the RAW.

On the Houserule hand, i'd just let you swap whatever bloody spells you want, you're a spontaneous caster, if you've picked the wrong spells it's terrible. Less terrible for a summoner, because you've got a badass eidolon and whatnot, but as a GM it really doesn't bother me to let spontaneous casters repick spells - they get boned hard compared to prepared casters anyway, letting them repick spells isn't even a token repayment.

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Your 'sanest' way of reading the text does not make sense to me. The sentence says "... at any given level and ... the same time that he gains new spells known for the level". Reading it your way, that last mention of 'the level' would refer to the same spell level previously mentioned in the sentence. So he can only swap out a spell of a given spell level when he gets more 'known spells' for that spell level? However, at level 5 and 8, the summoner only gets new known spells for the highest spell level, which they can't swap... –  Colin D Jun 5 at 15:17
    
It is not "only swap out a spell of one level lower", it is "At least one level lower". Also, I agree with colin D. It is not referent to the Spell Level, it is a referecence to the Character Level. –  Thales Sarczuk Jun 5 at 15:29

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