I'm using the legacy weapon Merthuvial (Barrow of the Forgotten Kings, pgs. 19-21) which requires, in part, one to pay a personal cost in the form of loss to BAB (Weapons of Legacy, p. 9).

However I'm also employing Divine Power (Player's Handbook, p. 224). Does this override the loss in BAB setting my BAB to my level? Or would I calculate my BAB by first having Divine Power set it to my level then factoring in the loss BAB?


Your attack bonus is still affected by the personal cost of Merthuvial, even when under the effect of divine power.

The personal cost description in Weapons of Legacy for legacy items reads, in part:

In addition to performing a ritual and paying its gp cost, you must pay personal costs to use a legacy item’s ability. [...] Personal costs are permanent[.] [...] [p]ersonal costs are assessed permanently, whether or not you have the item in your possession. The only way to recover a personal cost is to destroy or renounce the legacy item (see below). (p. 9)

This is further expanded on page 24:

Attack Penalty: This is a permanent penalty on all your attack rolls. Multiple values in the same column are not cumulative, instead representing the total penalty applied.

While divine power does "set" your Base Attack Bonus instead of adding a modifier to it, the personal cost of the legacy item still persists - a final, end-point penalty. The cost of using the Merthuvial is technically not adjusting or affecting your Base Attack Bonus, instead simply applying an "Attack Penalty" at the proscribed levels.

If a character could find a way to avoid (even temporarily!) the personal cost of their legacy item, then the item would no longer offer the abilities corresponding to the cost(s) being avoided, since "you must pay personal costs to use a legacy item’s ability."

In the case of Merthuvial, finding a clever way to avoid paying the attack penalty would subsequently limit the bonuses offered to those seen in levels 5 through 8 on the "Penalties and Abilities" chart (Barrow of the Forgotten King, p. 21).

All that aside...

For what it's worth, this respondent feels it appropriate to remind you that legacy items have been annoying players and DMs for over a decade now. While there is a great deal of consternation regarding the source, Weapons of Legacy, there is no wrong way to play this game, so long as it is enjoyable. If your table arrives at a distinct conclusion from this answer, that's probably better. Only your table can know the exact vagaries and details of your game and players. If your table rules that the costs from Merthuvial can be avoided using magic, that's awesome. If your table proceeds in a more-or-less rules pure manner, you might decide that there are a head-ache inducing number of edge cases where a "cost" can be paid, yet a "penalty" cleverly avoided - such cases may require a houserule to simplify the manner in which Merthuvial (and other legacy items) assess their costs and penalties. That's fantastic.

Experience tells me that Items of Legacy, should your adventures continue to take you to such territory, will likely require some kind of houseruling at one point or another. Have a discussion with the table about what material from Weapons of Legacy you find helpful or appropriate for your table, and modify or discard the material your table finds troublesome or outright confusing. User @KRyan suggests reading the relic related material found in Book of Exalted Deeds - pages 36 - 40. He also suggests reading the relic related material found in Magic Item Compendium, though the relics in that book are somewhat scattered. The book's relics specific section starts on page 221.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments and downvote removed, then. Though I maintain the contradiction: taking a penalty is not the same as spending something to pay a cost. Anyway, this answer would still be dramatically improved by offering the reader a warning against using Weapons of Legacy for anything, and suggesting Ancestral Relic from Book of Exalted Deeds or True Believer from Magic Item Compendium as better ways to mechanically handle Merthuvial. I cannot more strongly recommend a houserule to fix the campaign to avoid legacy rules. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 27 '17 at 15:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't think answers were the place to suggest a play style, opinion, or taste that did not add to the value of the answer. This question, specific enough as it is, is not asking for alternatives to the legacy item - it is specifically asking how this legacy item works within the framework the game designers (presumably) thought out. Since this answer seems correct, adding more material to it to espouse a pure opinion seems somewhat preachy and extraneous. "What happens when I use this legacy item?" "Don't use it." \$\endgroup\$ – NFeutz Oct 27 '17 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are differing schools of thought on this, and certainly in almost-all cases the question needs to be answered first, but it is widely considered good and appropriate to follow-up a serious answer with related recommendations that can improve readers’ games. Warnings about poor material, especially coupled with replacement suggestions, are good. I, for one, often consider it necessary to do so, and there have been rare cases where I have even downvoted answers for not doing so. See the relevant meta discussion for more. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 27 '17 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Personal costs are permanent and can range from hit point loss to forfeiting spell slots." A personal cost could be both a cost and a penalty - couldn't it? All of the costs as entailed on p.9 don't say they are "spell slot costs" or "hit point costs," they say they are costs that could take the form of lost spell slots or lost hit points. The cost could also take the form of an attack penalty. It's not that the costs are distinct and separate from the concept of a penalty - some of the costs are penalties. \$\endgroup\$ – NFeutz Oct 27 '17 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Getting a little chatty for comments; we should probably use the chat room I made. It’s based on my answer but the topic is generally the same. Anyway, to my mind, a penalty is something you gain—it’s a negative thing that you gain, but it’s still adding a negative number, not subtracting some amount from a given quantity. That’s the real thing, page 9 really describes things in terms of quantities being spent, and bonuses are not that and really can’t be that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 27 '17 at 16:05

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