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In the SRD, it is noted in the table under Intelligent Items ~ Languages Spoken By Item two footnotes 2 and 4.

Footnote 2 reads

'Like a character, an intelligent item speaks Common plus one language per point of Intelligence bonus. It can communicate telepathically with the wielder.'

And footnote 4 reads

The item can use either communication mode at will, with language use as any speaking item. It can communicate telepathically with the wielder.

Is there any particular reason why footnote 4 should repeat and emphasize the same information contained in footnote 2 'It can communicate telepathically with the wielder' when footnote 4 already acknowledges the item possesses both speech and telepathy and can use either communication mode at will?

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1 Answer 1

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The line serves no purpose

Any of the weapons in Footnote 4 already has telepathy, and telepathy is never tied to a specific language, so it does not matter if the wielder or anyone else also speaks the same language as the weapon. It can communicate telepathically with anyone. This makes the line entirely superfluous.

For what it's worth if with the languages the weapon would need to communicate telepathically with the wielder in the language it speaks, then the line would serve to ensure it can communicate, even if it does not speak the wielder's language. But that is not how telepathy works in 3.5.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Per the last bit there, it doesn’t say that because the telepathy doesn’t use the language—no telepathy does. The definition of D&D 3.5e telepathy includes communication between any two creatures (where at least one has telepathy) that both speak any language—no need for them to both speak any one same language. And since this is defined as the baseline for telepathy, individual telepathic creatures don’t need to specify it. See this Q&A. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 31, 2022 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi KRyan, in that case the line on Footnote 4 about telepathy is clearly superflous, as any of these weapons can speak common and use telepathy. In that case, I could only speculate that the authors followed the same erronous logic as I. What is the process here - should I delete the answer? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kryan Footnote 2 states 'Like a character' in respect to speech but notes telepathy with the wielder. Then footnote 4 states 'either communication mode at will, with language use as any speaking item.' how the person you're responding to describes it and that particular line in footnote 4 lends weight to the supposition telepathy is not working here the same as language independent divination spells. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. Yes, “4. […] It can communicate telepathically with the wielder,” is superfluous here, since the item can communicate telepathically with anything. There is no indication whatsoever that the telepathy is in any way limited relative to the telepathy of every other creature in 3.5e, and I’d honestly missed your answer claiming there was. I’m afraid I’m downvoting that, because I don’t think that’s true and I know you haven’t backed it up enough to convince me I’m wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 31, 2022 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to delve deeper into this topic—because I think this is a good start, and it's tough to argue the developers screwed up and never fixed it—, this looks like an error inserted by the 3.5 revision (specifically when going from symbol to numeric footnotes—I'm not even kidding). You can see how it was in 3E using this SRD in the Intelligent Items tabs. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 15:11

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