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Inspired by remanifest psicrystal The feat to get a psycristal:

Psicrystal Affinity [Psionic] You have created a psicrystal. Prerequisites Manifester level 1st.

Benefit This feat allows you to gain a psicrystal.

Assuming the answer by Groody is correct and the feat allows you to manifest a psicrystal once, which you do, how does this interact with the feat retraining rules from PHB II?

A: If you still have your psicrystal and you retrain away the feat that granted it, does it go away? One way of reading the RAW, at least to me, is that in getting the feat, you got the ability to make one and did. Now it's made. If you lose the ability to gain one but its already there, does it go away or stay?

B: If your psicrystal dies, can you use the feat retraining rules to get it back? B- subpart 1: If so, I think RAW would require you to do this over the course of two level ups: Swap it out for another feat for one level, then swap it back at the second level. Is that RAW or could you swap it for itself in one level?
B- subpart 2: Would it be balanced to allow via a RAI someone to regain their psycrystal at level up by using their one retrain option, if RAW you can't swap it for itself?

P.S. If this should be split up into multiple questions, I'll do that, but it seemed tightly focused to this interaction.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it theoretical optimization question, or is it about real situation you encountered or expect at your table? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Feb 2, 2023 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Absolutely theoretical, I saw the other question and my mind went "Huh, could you get it back via retraining..." then I thought "Huh, could you retrain and keep a live one" when I read the details, ergo mostly interested in RAW for theory \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Feb 2, 2023 at 11:47

1 Answer 1

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The fundamental basis of the entire Rebuilding Your Character chapter in Player’s Handbook II is to allow you to switch from one legal state to another. The very first line in the Retraining section is

The most basic level of character revision is retraining—that is, adjusting a decision you made earlier in your character’s career by selecting a different legal option.

(Player’s Handbook II, pg. 192)

It is a mistake, in my view, to view “legal option” narrowly—some have argued that it only matters if you could have chosen the option at that level and that’s all that matters. I think that is wrong—nothing about the retraining rules suggests that you should ignore the rest of your character. An option is “legal” only if the end result—including “later” developments that are still part of your character—is legal.

(The rules also do recommend not getting hung up on fiddly details of character legality,¹ but I think whether or not you have a psicrystal is not a fiddly detail.)

To wit, if you have a psicrystal, it is not a “legal option” to be without Psicrystal Affinity. You can retrain the feat if you lose or dismiss your psicrystal, but not if you still have it. Dismissing isn’t a normal option for psicrystals (as far as I can tell), but I think it seems reasonable to make “re-absorbing” the personality fragment in the crystal a part of the retraining process.

However, retraining should not be necessary to replace a psicrystal. Psicrystal Affinity’s benefit “allows you to gain a psicrystal.” Nothing about this ability to gain a psicrystal makes any reference to whether or not you’ve previously used it—it doesn’t say it “allows you to gain a psicrystal once.” There’s a lot of implicit suggestions that you can only have one psicrystal—the fact that it’s always spoken of in the singular (many, many things refer to “your psicrystal”), the fact that you have to choose one personality shard for it and it’s not suggested you could then get the others, etc. etc. But all of that is implicit—RAW, you could make a case for not being limited to 1 in the first place. I don’t think any DM would—or should—buy that, but that’s kind of what the rules give us to work with. And while I don’t think a DM would or should allow you to use Psicrystal Affinity repeatedly to get multiple simultaneous crystals, I do think that every DM should allow you to use it to replace a psicrystal.

If a DM does read a “once, ever, even if your psicrystal is lost” limitation into the ability of Psicrystal Affinity, I don’t think retraining it away and retraining it back would “erase” the history of having used that ability, so I don’t think retraining helps matters. The DM just shouldn’t do that.

  1. Player’s Handbook II, pg. 192:
    After your character goes through the retraining or rebuilding process, you might notice that he doesn’t quite match the specs of a similar character built up to the same level by the normal method. Maybe his skill points don’t add up quite right, or his hit points are off a bit from the expected value. But the small variations that crop up in this process don’t significantly impact play balance, and writing rules to eliminate them would complicate the process without really improving the quality of your game.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, good arguments that I don't think there's a clear RAW for how this feat works at all in the case of 1 psicrystal ever in case one dies, especially since it gives no procedure on how long/what kind of action/etc. it would take to make a new one. (The thing that prompted the original question that sparked my interest) \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Feb 2, 2023 at 18:49

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