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Psionic Talent, in Dreamscarred Press's Psionics Unleashed, is a feat that grants bonus power points.

Benefit: When you take this feat for the first time, you gain 2 power points.

That's all well and good, but the trouble is that it can be taken multiple times.

Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time you take the feat after the first time, the number of power points you gain increases by 1.

The benefit's "When you take this feat for the first time" doesn't play with "Each time you take the feat after the first time" in any defined fashion. I can see people reading it for five different progressions, as follows:

2 -> 2+3 -> 2+3+4 -> 2+3+4+5 (+14 pp: The effects of the feat stack, and each feat gives one more power point than the last.)
2 -> 3+3 -> 4+4+4 -> 5+5+5+5 (+20 pp: The effects of the feat stack, and each feat gains the increase to the number of power points it grants.)
2 -> 2+1 -> 2+1+1 -> 2+1+1+1 (+5 pp: The effects of the feats stack, but each subsequent feat gives only +1 PP.)
2 -> 2, 3 -> 2, 3, 4 -> 2, 3, 4, 5 (+5 PP: The effects of the feat don't stack, but each feat grants one more set power point than the last.)
2 -> 2, 1 -> 2, 1, 1 -> 2, 1, 1, 1 (+2 PP: The effects of the feat don't stack, but each subsequent feat gives only +1 PP.)

From what I've seen, the most popular reading is the +14 reading, but it's only been as well-argued as the +5 readings in my opinion. My question, then, is how many extra power points do you have after taking Psionic Talent four times?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The correct number is 14. I have two arguments for why 14 is the correct number.

Grammatical

The sentence says "the number of power points you gain increases by one". The "number of power points that you gain" from the first time you take the feat is 2. If that number increases by 1 when you take the feat again, then it effectively changes the feat's text when you take it a second time, to "you gain 3 power points". That continues every time you take the feat.

Balance

Spending a feat to gain a single power point is pointless and crappy. Beyond very low levels, a single power point is a nearly meaningless amount. If the feat only gave an extra power point each time you took it after the first, there would be no real reason to take the feat at all.

You might be able to argue that the feat should give you 1 power point for the second and subsequent times that you take it, but the circumstantial evidence - namely that getting a single PP from a feat would be horribly crappy - indicates that you're supposed to get more PP each time you take the feat.

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One option being crappy is hardly solid evidence against that being the intended reading. There are plenty of feats with completely unambiguous effects that are every bit as crappy as gaining 1 power point. –  Matthew Najmon Jul 7 '14 at 14:35
    
@MatthewNajmon Well, yeah, which is why I list two different reasons for my reasoning, both of which support eachother. The 'crappy feat' theory is admittedly weaker, but still valid. –  DuckTapeAl Jul 7 '14 at 23:10

The answer is without a doubt 14.

Since 3.5 and Pathfinder are (Mostly) backwards compatible, the following paragraph is most likely to assist you in determining how many power points you'll receive from multiple applications of Psionic Talent.

Wording: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time you take the feat after the first time, the number of power points you gain increases by 1 (for example, you gain 3 power points if you take this feat a second time).


Though for someone looking to get more power points you should convert the following to pathfinder, then take it.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040827b

Possible applications include meditating for ten minutes to get the bonus power points equal to your manifester level and using said points to cast buffs augmented with Extend Power to last longer than the hour duration effects from the feat give.

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Generally, effects do not stack if they're from the same source. Don't blame me for Pathfinder's inconsistent use of the verb stack. Blame 3.5.

The feat Psionic Talent taken 4 times grants a total of +5 PP

When a creature gains a benefit from a source, unless specifically stated, the creature doesn't combine the benefits if the creature attempts to gain that same benefit from that same source. Instead, the creature gains only the largest benefit.

Examples

  • Energy Resistance: If a source grants a creature fire resistance 10, and the same source later grants fire resistance 20, the creature reduces fire damage they'd take by 20 points per instance.
  • Movement Modes: If a source grants a creature a fly speed of 60 ft. and the same source later grants a fly speed 30 ft., the creature can fly at a speed of 60 ft.
  • Temporary Hit Points: If a source grants a creature 5 temporary hp, and the same source later grants 3 temporary hp, the creature has both 3 and 5 temporary hp, and up to 5 points of damage apply to the creature's temporary hit point pool, and should the 5 temporary hit points wear off while 3 or more of those remain, the creature has 3 temporary hit points, else they have as many temporary hit points as they had when the 5 temporary hit points wore off.

To let the the feat Psionic Talent grant an increasing number of power points, the feat says two very specific things and phrases those things so they work using this concept. First, a creature can take the feat Psionic Talent more than once. Second, each additional time after the first a creature takes the feat, the benefit from the feat Psionic Talent increases by 1.

For perspective, if a feat granted fire resistance 1 or a Speed of fly 5 ft., and such a feat could be taken multiple times, the feat would--to be absolutely accurate and true to the underlying mechanics--pretty much have to say the same thing as the feat Psionic Talent does to avoid using the verb stack, which is supposed to be used exclusively for bonuses and penalties. Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 also failed in this regard, with its Extra Foo feats for paladins, barbarians and others.

This same linguistic mine field was successfully navigated by the D&D 3.5 feat Font of Inspiration, yet folks still fight about that feat. There are probably even fights about the Pathfinder feat Godless Healing, but I couldn't find any.

The weird phrasing is a necessary yet confusing and ugly way of doing things because of the way sources and numbers-that-aren't-bonuses-and-penalties interact in Dungeons and Dragons 3.X and, by extension, Pathfinder.

Walk-through

  1. The first time a creature takes the feat Psionic Talent, the feat grants the creature 2 PP.
  2. The second time the creature takes the feat Psionic Talent, the second iteration of the feat Psionic Talent grants the creature 3 PP, replacing the benefit of the first iteration.
  3. The third time the creature takes the feat Psionic Talent, the third iteration of the feat Psionic Talent grants the creature 4 PP, replacing the benefits of the first and second iterations.
  4. The fourth time the creature takes the feat Psionic Talent, the fourth iteration of the feat Psionic Talent grants the creature 5 PP, replacing the benefits of the first, second, and third iterations.

"O, Then This Feat Sucks!"

As Matthew Najmon succinctly put it earlier, "There are plenty of [Pathfinder] feats with completely unambiguous effects that are every bit as crappy as gaining 1 power point."

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Keep in mind that the question posits this as a possibility. Therefore before downvoting this answer because it's wrong (rather than not useful), please offer some advice to make the answer more persuasive. Thanks! –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 23 at 9:10
    
I would argue that the FAQ entry’s use of a parenthetical was meant to include the rules from the referenced page as part of the statement. It was not meant to expand those stacking rules beyond the magical effects they were first defined for. Each of the examples given in the FAQ is magical. Psionic Talent is a feat, and therefore Extraordinary, and therefore non-magical (despite granting a magical resource). –  KRyan Apr 23 at 13:26
    
@KRyan Um. Where is the reference to the FAQ? –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 23 at 17:40
    
First sentence, “generally, effects do not not stack if they’re from the same source,” is a statement made in an FAQ, not found in the main rules text. Said FAQ entry continues with a parenthetical citation: “(Core Rulebook page 208, Combining Magical Effects),” and that section on 208, Combining Magic Effects, is very explicit in dealing only with “spells or magical effects.” –  KRyan Apr 23 at 17:54
    
@KRyan That's what I get for only hovering over and not actually following my own links from 9 months ago. Anyway, so your stance is getting fire resistance 5 as an extraordinary ability twice from the same source means having fire resistance 10? –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 23 at 18:00

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