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I have this PC that came up with this combo: Half-elf Warpriest cast Paragon Surge to select Eldritch Heritage [ Arcane Bloodline ] to have the bonded item, so he can cast any spell from the cleric spell list.

Is this legal? Does the Warpriest count as knowing all the spells in the spell list?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "any spell from the cleric list"? Is the player arguing that he can cast 9th levels spells this way? Is he arguing that he can cast [Evil] spells this way despite being good-aligned? \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Sep 4 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are trading a 3rd level spell for the capability to cast a free spell once per day...doesn't even become usable until at least level 7. And he'd still be limited to spells of a level he could normally cast. \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Sep 9 at 5:48
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Warpriests have access to the full cleric list up through 6th-level spells.

From the PFSRD on warpriests (emphasis mine):

Spell Casting (Divine): A warpriest casts divine spells drawn from the cleric spell list. His alignment, however, can restrict him from casting certain spells opposed to his moral or ethical beliefs; see the Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells section. A warpriest must choose and prepare his spells in advance.

A warpriest’s highest level of spells is 6th. Cleric spells of 7th level and above are not on the warpriest class spell list, and a warpriest cannot use spell completion or spell trigger magic items (without making a successful Use Magic Device check) of cleric spells of 7th level or higher.

As mentioned, warpriests do not have access to 7th-level or higher spells, nor do they have access to spells of opposing alignments.

What does it mean for a divine caster to "know" a spell?

A not-so-brief digression here: There is nowhere in the rules a definition of what it means to "know" a spell. The term is usually only used for spontaneous casters, where it refers to "a spell you are actually capable of casting" as opposed to "a spell that is on your class list but that you cannot cast". Where does that leave clerics, warpriests, etc. when it comes to spells "known"? (Wizards and their spellbooks are obviously a separate concern that will not be addressed here, though similar logic probably applies.)

From the PFSRD for the feat Scribe Scroll (emphasis mine):

Benefit: You can create a scroll of any spell that you know. ...

From the PFSRD on magic item creation (emphasis mine):

... The creator must have prepared the spell to be scribed (or must know the spell, in the case of a sorcerer or bard) and must provide any material component or focus the spell requires. A material component is consumed when she begins writing, but a focus is not. (A focus used in scribing a scroll can be reused.) The act of writing triggers the prepared spell, making it unavailable for casting until the character has rested and regained spells. (That is, that spell slot is expended from the caster’s currently prepared spells, just as if it had been cast.) ...

We can see in this example that "you can prepare & cast X spell" is directly equated with "you know X spell". Thus, (in the absence of any other rules guidance on this topic) we can probably say that a divine prepared caster can be said to "know" any spell that they are capable of preparing & casting (that is, any spell of a level they can cast and which they are not prohibited from using for alignment or other reasons).

If this interpretation/ruling resulted in an absurdly overpowered or underpowered result in combination with another rule or game element then we might look for an alternate interpretation, but I am not aware of any such examples at this time. This is generally a good rule of thumb to follow when attempting to interpret ambiguous rules: you may not always be able to tell what the designers did intend, but some interpretations will be sufficiently ridiculous and/or extreme that they can be ruled out as something the designers probably did not intend.

A bonded item will grant its owner one free casting of any spell they are already capable of casting.

From the PFSRD on wizards:

Arcane Bond (Ex or Sp): ... A bonded object can be used once per day to cast any one spell that the wizard has in his spellbook and is capable of casting, even if the spell is not prepared. This spell is treated like any other spell cast by the wizard, including casting time, duration, and other effects dependent on the wizard’s level. This spell cannot be modified by metamagic feats or other abilities. The bonded object cannot be used to cast spells from the wizard’s opposition schools (see arcane school below). ...

From the PFSRD on the arcane bloodline (emphasis mine):

Arcane Bond (Su): At 1st level, you gain an arcane bond, as a wizard equal to your sorcerer level. Your sorcerer levels stack with any wizard levels you possess when determining the powers of your familiar or bonded object. Once per day, your bonded item allows you to cast any one of your spells known (unlike a wizard’s bonded item, which allows him to cast any one spell in his spellbook). This ability does not allow you to have both a familiar and a bonded item.

As established above, a warpriest can be treated as knowing every spell on their list that they are capable of preparing & casting.

Pros and Cons of this Trick

The primary benefit of this combo is that it allows you to essentially use a 3rd-level spell slot (the one used to cast Paragon Surge) to cast any spell you know, even if it would normally use a higher level slot. That's a pretty good trade, though it's better for full casters like wizards, sorcerers, and clerics than it is for warpriests, who cap out at 6th level spells and get those slots later than a full caster would.

The drawbacks of this combo are:

  1. You have to waste an extra action casting Paragon Surge. If casting the spell from a spell slot in the normal manner takes one standard action, casting it via this combo takes 2 standard actions, though the first action can be done up to 1 minute per level in advance. A warpriest, obviously, can use fervor to make Paragon Surge a swift action, allowing them to pull off the combo in one round, which helps balance out the lack of higher-level spells a little bit.
  2. You can only use the combo once per day. Per day abilities from a temporary source don't reset just because you lost & regained access to the ability.

    From the Paizo FAQ (thanks to Ifusaso for pointing me to this one):

    Q: Temporarily gaining abilities: If I temporarily gain an ability that is limited in its uses per day, am I limited in my overall uses of that ability if I can temporarily gain it more than once?

    A: Yes. You are limited by the ability in the same way as a character that has that ability permanently. For example, if you have an ability that allows you to gain the Stunning Fist feat for a limited period of time and you use it 3 times. Those uses count against your total number of uses should you temporarily gain Stunning Fist again later that day. This limit also applies to abilities that grant additional uses of another ability (such as Extra Channel). Once used, they are consumed for the day, even if you gain the ability again.

  3. You have all the penalties of a bonded item: the player must wield their wand/staff/weapon or wear their amulet/ring (taking up that hand or magic item slot), not just to gain access to the free spell but to cast any of their spells normally without a concentration check.

    From the PFSRD on wizards (emphasis mine):

    If the object is an amulet or ring, it must be worn to have effect, while staves, wands, and weapons must be held in one hand. If a wizard attempts to cast a spell without his bonded object worn or in hand, he must make a concentration check or lose the spell. The DC for this check is equal to 20 + the spell’s level. If the object is a ring or amulet, it occupies the ring or neck slot accordingly.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Minor technicality - The text of the Eldritch Heritage specifies the sorcerer level as character level -2., so a 3rd level warpriest would effectively be a 1st level sorcerer. Not sure if that makes a difference to the chain or not. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Sep 4 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP I noticed that, but I don't believe it makes a difference in this case. A familiar would be based on your wizard->sorcerer->(character - 2) level, but the bonded item doesn't care what level you are, only what spells you can cast. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Sep 4 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its a 1 swift+standard combo with fervor. Thanks for you time, i did not realize the dismissible part, i was aware of all the rest. I did not mean he cant cast spells beyond 6th lvl and prohibited by alingment. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Chocho Sep 4 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage It’s not, strictly speaking, confirmation (the crafting requirements for prepared and spontaneous casters could easily be different, so the fact that they’re listed like that doesn’t really mean they are being equated), but I concur that I can’t think of anything offhand that would break with that definition. The answer seems much stronger now, thanks for the edit. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 4 at 21:08
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The Rules

This relies on three different under-defined things:

  1. how does arcane bond work?

  2. how does the arcane bloodline version of arcane bond work? and

  3. what counts as a warpriest’s “spells known”?

We don’t have solid answers to any of these questions.

Arcane bond and spell slots

For the first question, arcane bond is completely silent on whether or not you need to use a spell slot to cast the spell it gives you. We have a Q&A on the subject, but the only answer to the actual question seems completely irrelevant so far as I can tell. However, the answer is probably that you don’t need the spell slot, because otherwise wizards (the ones who originally got the class feature) would run into a problem of not being able to spontaneously use a spell slot for some spell. If they were expected to do so, you’d think it would be spelled out, something about giving up a spell they have prepared in order to cast a spell of the same or lower level from their spellbook. It doesn’t say anything like that, so spell slots are probably not necessary.

Arcane bloodline and needing to be able to cast the spell

The second issue is this: the wizard arcane bond feature says that it can only be used for spells the wizard is capable of casting. The arcane bloodline makes no such statement—it just says you can cast a spell known, and a parenthetical here explicitly notes how this is unlike the wizard’s version.

However, the “unlike” clause references “any one spell in the wizard’s spellbook,” which is not the entirety of the limitation on the wizard’s spells—the wizard also mentions needing to be able to cast the spell in question (this is important because wizards can scribe spells into their spellbook without being able to cast them).

Does the fact that the parenthetical doesn’t mention an override to the need to cast the spell mean that the sorcerer must also obey it? Rules as written, the answer is certainly not—the arcane bloodline says you get to cast any spell known, period, and the parenthetical is merely clarification and emphasis. Nothing says it works “as the wizard ability except,” which is what you would need.

So RAW, the arcane bloodline doesn’t require that you be able to cast the spell—but that’s assuredly an oversight, something they didn’t bother to mention because sorcerers can’t know spells they are unable to cast.

Warpriest spells known

Finally, on the third question, we don’t have any details whatsoever. The D&D 3.5e glossary indicated that wizards treated all spells in their spellbooks as spells known—see this answer for some details on why that still pretty unclear—but Pathfinder doesn’t have that glossary entry at all, and in any event it doesn’t extend to divine spellcasters at all (in fact, the glossary defined a “known spell” as “a spell that an arcane spellcaster...” though this obviously conflicts with that system’s spontaneous divine class, the favored soul).1

Realistically, deciding that divine spellcasters lack “spells known” entirely is probably a bad idea, with a lot of potential problems caused. Deciding that they instead know their entire list is also dubious, especially when coupled with the lack of any concern about spell level here. But RAW, that is the more-likely answer.

Conclusion

The official rules, as written, would seem to lean towards allowing the combination, barring some unfavorable ruling on spells known for divine prepared spellcasters, which would have to be made pretty carefully since there may well be collateral damage from such a ruling.

My Ruling

Personally, I would probably try to encourage my player to just... not take arcane bond, to avoid this mess altogether. If they really have their heart set on it, I would definitely limit it to spells of levels they can actually cast, at a bare minimum. That would probably be enough of a limitation for me, but if I was concerned about it, what I would do is allow the warpriest to keep a “prayerbook,” equivalent to a wizard’s spellbook, for the spells that they are able to cast using arcane bond. I would let them put two spells in it per level for free (same as a wizard), and then allow them to scribe any cleric spell they have actually prepared into the book without needing an external source but paying the usual costs and taking the usual time. Then it’s at least as balanced as it was for the wizard (if anything, it still costs more because the wizard gets a lot more usage out of the spells in his spellbook, while the warpriest only gets them once per day, but I figure eliminating the need to hunt down copies of spells mitigates that a fair bit).

  1. Emphasis mine.
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