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It seems sensible to present all the evidence first, but if it's all TL;DR then feel free to scroll straight down to the Argument. I'm looking to find out if my logic is sound and my conclusions are accurate per the rules.


Evidence

Exhibit the -3rd: Cleric spells

PHB, pg.32: Clerics do not acquire their spells from books or scrolls, nor do they prepare them through study. Instead, they meditate or pray for their spells, receiving them through their own strength of faith or as divine inspiration.

Exhibit the -2nd: Cleric domains

PHB, pg.32 (edited for brevity): When you have chosen an alignment and a deity for your cleric, choose two domains from among those given on Table 3–7 for the deity. While the clerics of a particular religion are united in their reverence for their deity, each cleric emphasizes different aspects of the deity’s interests. [...] Each domain gives your cleric access to a domain spell at each spell level he can cast, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. Your cleric gets the granted powers of both the domains selected.

Exhibit the -1st: Domain feats

Complete Champion, pg.52: Domain feats are a new category of feats that signify a character’s dedication to a particular religious ideal or tenet.

Exhibit the zeroth: Clerics and domain feats

Complete Champion, pg.53: In addition, you can choose to give up access to a domain in exchange for the corresponding domain feat [...]

Exhibit the first: Knowledge Devotion, RAW.

Complete Champion, pg.60 (edited for brevity): Whenever you fight a creature, you can make a Knowledge check based on its type, as described on page 78 of the Player’s Handbook, provided that you have at least one rank in the appropriate Knowledge skill. You then receive an insight bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against that creature type for the remainder of the combat. The amount of the bonus depends on your Knowledge check result [...]

Exhibit the second: Using Knowledge to identify monsters

PHB, pg.78: [...] In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Action: Usually none. In most cases, making a Knowledge check doesn’t take an action—you simply know the answer or you don’t.

Try Again: No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place.

Exhibit the last: conflicting points of view

GitP forum user Flickerdart: Knowledge Devotion has nothing to do with using Knowledge skills to identify a creature. Its effects are clearly spelled out in the feat.

1) Make a Knowledge check as appropriate for the creature's type. 2) Receive bonuses depending on the check result.

The feat makes absolutely no reference to the Knowledge rules to identify a creature [...]

GitP forum user Torvon: Knowledge devotion is not a knowledge check to learn something about the creatures. Otherwise the bonuses you receive would be transmittable to your allies somehow. Knowledge Devotion as something like divine inspiration: you get bonuses, but you don't actually LEARN something about the creature which you could communicate to your allies (that is why only you get the bonuses).

GitP forum user GoodbyeSoberDay: When you make a knowledge check for Knowledge Devotion, you're not "trying again." You're using the skill to do something completely different.

GitP forum user Curmudgeon: How does [the bonuses being transferable] follow from what the rules say? The Knowledge check may give the character some information; whether they communicate that information is up to them. But Knowledge Devotion provides benefits only to the character who has the feat, because that's what it says.


Argument

Deduction

  1. Axiom: The writers of D&D sourcebooks observe the Cooperative Principle, in particular the maxim of quantity: it is to be assumed that what is written is neither more nor less than sufficient information.
  2. Premise: Bits of lore obtained from Knowledge checks to identify monsters are transferable between characters.
  3. Knowledge gained through the Knowledge Devotion feat is explicitly not divine inspiration.
  4. The Knowledge Devotion feat does not use a separate Knowledge skill check from the one used to identify a monster, nor does it constitute a different use of the Knowledge skill.
  5. What is true of knowledge gained through the feat is also true of the associated bonuses.
  6. From 2, 3 and 4, knowledge gained through the Knowledge Devotion feat is transferable between characters.
  7. From 5 and 6, bonuses gained through the feat are also transferable between characters.

Is this logic sound? Are these conclusions correct?


Proof

As this is a deductive argument, it seems sensible to briefly discuss the correctness of the premise: Curmudgeon notes it in passing, but of course it would be somewhat ridiculous (and arguably defeat the purpose of the Knowledge skill, if not the entire game experience) to suppose that what characters learn about the world can never be communicated to other characters.

As regards point 3: observe that clerics gain spells by (some flavor of) divine inspiration. The effect of gaining a domain is to grant the cleric additional spells and a granted power (the use of the word granted here implying some more direct form of divine intervention - something or someone must be granting the cleric their spells and powers, even some cosmic force for those clerics without deities). Further observe that to gain domain feats, including Knowledge Devotion, clerics explicitly give up domain access. Further still, observe that any character can take a domain feat, because it represents "a character’s dedication to a particular religious ideal or tenet." To wit: it is the character's personal qualities that make them eligible for (Knowledge) Devotion, not their connection to a particular deity-level entity. Therefore, it stands to reason that, contra Torvon, it is the character's religious devotion to knowledge as an end-in-itself that grants them the knowledge described in the feat, not the intercession of a particular deity-level entity.

As regards point 4, it should be clear that this knowledge is gained over and above the knowledge gained by an identical character, with identical skill ranks, rolling an identical check, but without the feat; the knowledge is different in degree, not in kind. Contra Flickerdart, the feat absolutely does make reference to the mechanics of the "standard" Knowledge check; moreover, it refers specifically to the rules for identifying a monster in the PHB. Observing the axiom, it should be clear that, contra GoodbyeSoberDay, if it was intended to be a new use for the same skill, it would have sufficed to simply call it a Knowledge check, in the same way that a bullrush calls for a Strength check that is clearly different from the Strength/Dexterity check called for by a trip attempt.

Furthermore, observe that the rules on pg. 78 of the PHB make absolutely no reference to the transferability of lore gained through Knowledge checks to identify monsters. Curmudgeon asserts that Knowledge Devotion bonuses are not transferable "because that's what it says", but in fact neither the PHB nor Complete Champion discuss transferability at all. If we follow Curmudgeon's logic, and read absence of evidence as evidence of absence, lore from a "standard" check would not be transferable either, "because that (nothing) is what it says". This is, as noted above, patently ridiculous. Consider a scenario in which, following GoodbyeSoberDay, either the character learns important lore about the monster's vulnerabilities, or learns how to hit and hurt it better, but never both. Leaving aside how the rules specify that you either know something or you don't, and therefore almost never roll a Knowledge check more than once, this is also clearly ridiculous.

Wherefore we must conclude that bonuses gained through Knowledge Devotion are transferable between characters. QED.


Other considerations

The above has been an argument from crunch. Below are some alternative justifications:

The argument from Rule 0: I'm the DM and it makes sense to me, therefore it is so.

The argument from Rule -1: It increases the power and agency of the characters, and the players are supposed to have fun and win, therefore it is so.

The argument from fluff: The cloistered cleric is the prototypical example of a character who knows the best ways to hit things, but whose value is not in their ability to hit things (they sacrifice BAB, Fort saves and HD for their knowledge). The obvious conclusion is that they were meant to share their knowledge of hitting things with others.

The argument from the intersection of fluff and crunch: Bonuses are a form of (applied) knowledge; knowledge is meant to be shared.

The argument from Foucault: Knowledge only becomes knowledge in the context of a power relation, which relations obtain between characters; knowledges are inherently plural, meaning that an unshared knowledge that does nothing to affect the relations between subjects cannot truly be called a knowledge.

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  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably already been mentioned in comments that were deleted, but just in case: while the site can check your work, it's better at answering your question. A more succinct version of this asks simply, "Can a creature with the feat Knowledge Devotion grant its bonuses from that feat to other creatures?" Then the bulk of this question as currently posed is converted into your answer to your own question! That's a totally okay thing, yields the same results, and sees you earn rep for both question and answer. (And where can I find rule −1?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '18 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I didn't think that answering one's own question was a done thing. Neat. Rule -1 may or may not be something I picked up from someone's forum signature; it's something to the effect that the game should be fun, and if one player's fun (including the DM, who is also a player) is obstructing the others', they should change how they play. The Angry GM goes into detail about this frequently. \$\endgroup\$ – user5805 Jul 31 '18 at 17:06
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The question is marked with the tag. This tag is about "the logical interactions of a game's rules under a strictly literal reading". Rules as written, only you can get the bonus from the Knowledge Devotion feat. See the feat description:

You can use your knowledge to exploit your foes' weaknesses and overcome their strengths.

You then receive an insight bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against that creature type for the remainder of the combat.

Knowledge might be transferable, but bonus is not. Rules as written, you can apply this bonus to your own rolls only.

Your logic leads to the wrong conclusion "bonus is transferable". That means the premise is wrong, or the logic has its flaws. Where is the flaw — is another question. You didn't ask "where is the flaw", you explicitly asked "is my logic correct".

Lore-wise, the feat gives you a brief insight into the target’s weaknesses. Consider words "extraordinary" and "insight" in the feat description:

You then receive an insight bonus

This benefit is an extraordinary ability

The DM might say otherwise though. Keep in mind, the DM's goals are NOT "follow the rules" nor "being consistent". They're tools, not the goal. The goal is facilitating the enjoyment of the game for the players.

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The benefit of the feat isn’t “you know things,” which is something you can teach to others. Knowing things is a matter of the Knowledge skill family, not the Knowledge Devotion feat.

The benefit of the feat is “you get a bonus on attack and damage based on how well you know things,” which is special and only available through the feat. Without the Knowledge Devotion feat, no one else can get that kind of bonus.

At best you might argue that two people who both have Knowledge Devotion could tell each other what they know, so that they can both use the higher of their rolls. But as a question of the rules as written, no option for that is offered anywhere in the text of the feat, which requires a special Knowledge check just for the purposes of the bonus. Presumably, then, getting the bonus requires knowing something yourself—having heard about it just now isn’t good enough for you to leverage that knowledge and get a bonus.

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From 2 to 6 is a flaw

Your premise says information is transferable, which is accurate. Your point 6 requires knowledge to be (instantly) transferable, which is not. Knowledge is not simply information, epistemology 101. (I.e. if I tell someone something, they don't instantly know that thing - and they certainly not necessarily know how to use that thing).

Nowhere in your argument you make a distinction about the information and how to actually use it. It's easy to argue that how to use the information you get from Knowledge Devotion is linked to the feat iself, and only someone with that feat is able to correctly use that information. This might not be true for a simple, without feat check - so it doesn't invalidate the idea of providing basic info from usual Knowledge checks to your allies.

About your "other considerations", your Rule 0 is specifically true for you and only you, don't expect us to agree with you or tell you that you are right. Same for what's fun (or even that they are supposed to win) - which is opinion based. For Foucault, the relation is between the PC and the monster. Fluff is also majorly opinion based.

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No

Objection 1:

it would be somewhat ridiculous (and arguably defeat the purpose of the Knowledge skill, if not the entire game experience) to suppose that what characters learn about the world can never be communicated to other characters.

This statement is meaningless, but the implied statement: "it would be untenable to suppose that what characters learn about the world can never be communicated to other characters" is either controversial or strictly false, depending on what strength of untenability is used (to wit, some intelligent persons do hold that position and no overwhelmingly convincing argument against such a position has emerged). Cf. Wittgenstein's Beetle.

Objection 2:

You have a contradiction in your argument:

  1. Axiom: The writers of D&D sourcebooks observe the Cooperative Principle, in particular the maxim of quantity: it is to be assumed that what is written is neither more nor less than sufficient information.

  2. Premise: Bits of lore obtained from Knowledge checks to identify monsters are transferable between characters.

But 2. implies that the rules are less than sufficient information, since 2. is neither contained in nor implied (logically speaking) by the rules. So:

if 2 then not 1, and if 1 then not 2

2 and 1

therefore, 2 and not 2

Objection 3:

Your axiom is false, so your argument cannot be sound. The rulebooks do not contain exactly sufficient information for the game. For instance, consider the errata for PHB1 and the errata for PHB2. The errata header is reproduced verbatim. If both sourcebooks are in play, this is strictly excessive. The same applies to the MM and DMG errata. Thus this axiom must be false if you use more than one core book and use errata. Note also that each book tells you you must use at least one other book and any use of errata is enough to cause problems. But if you don't use errata, then you still need to use the PHB, and the various printings of the PHB without errata contains several contradictions of their own (for example, regarding how fast you move in medium armor, which is addressed in errata).

Objection 4:

Your assessment of the argument against your logic is deeply flawed. For example, consider:

Curmudgeon asserts that Knowledge Devotion bonuses are not transferable "because that's what it says", but in fact neither the PHB nor Complete Champion discuss transferability at all.

Knowledge Devotion in fact states, in part:

You then receive an insight bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against that creature type for the remainder of the combat.

(emphasis added)

Which is what gives you the bonus. This only gives the bonus to you, and so the reasoning is correct in stating that the text indicates in a clear manner (especially so, if you also accept your false axiom) that the bonus does not possess any innate mechanism for transfer. Your attempted reductio ad absurdum ignores the actual argument being made (the text says X) in favor of a strawman (X does not imply bad things).

In conclusion, you start from false and/or problematic premises which are also self-contradictory. This logic is therefore not sound.


Other considerations

The closest thing to "Rule 0" in 3.5 D&D is:

CHECK WITH YOUR DUNGEON MASTER Your Dungeon Master (DM) may have house rules or campaign standards that vary from the standard rules.

Which doesn't so much say "the DM gets to decide how the rules work" as "The DM might be ignoring some rules". You can read more about that here. In the context of how this ability works, you'd still be wrong, because you're making a claim about the text, the rules, and the ability, not how things are going to work, in contrast to the real rules, in your game. 3.5 is not a very "rule 0"-friendly game system in terms of rulebook text; it will not tell you to do whatever you want or that the DM is always right. It will instead tell you you can do X, Y, or Z, and the DM may respond with A, B, C, or something else meeting certain specifications.

Rule -1: That's a controversial premise again, and a much more controversial one than your previous mistake of that sort. This may be a premise you hold, but it's certainly not one you've offered any reason for others to hold, and it has a lot of problematic baggage (e.g. "supposed to", "win", power~agency issues, power~fun issues, agency~win issues, best of all possible rulesets issues). In any case, it's not any sort of real support, as far as I can tell.

fluff: "The obvious conclusion is..."

etc. Basically, outside of the various significant logical errors, the biggest issue is that asserting something doesn't make it true, and this seems to rely on it doing so frequently.

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