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While researching an edit for my answer here, I had occasion to re-read the sapphire hierarch.

One of its pre-reqs is:

Access to the Law domain.

This wording seems to be unique to the PrC. A naive reading suggests that the cleric must have chosen Law as one of her domains. However, it could certainly be read as "worships a deity with that domain as one of its granted domains."

Exactly what does "access" mean in this context?

I expect the answer to this to be quite simple, especially if it can cite precedent. I'm just hoping to avoid actually suggesting the worthless Law domain in my answer.

Reading the domains section of the cleric only increases my headache, as:

Each domain gives the cleric access to a domain spell at each spell level he can cast, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. The cleric gets the granted powers of both the domains selected.

Access, in this original wording as granted by the chosen domain indeed means access rather than choice.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant: Answers to this question \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 17 '14 at 5:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Alternative third reading: the cleric must be a DBMS, or at least support ODBC. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 17 '14 at 5:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not worth an actual answer, compared to the other ones. When your cleric's alignment shifts and forsakes their diety, they lose access to all their class feats and abilities. They "lose access" to their domains, which they had beforehand. \$\endgroup\$ – Axoren Oct 19 '14 at 1:22
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It's not unique. Radiant Servant of Pelor has the same requirement:

Able to cast 1st-level divine spells and access to the Sun domain.

In RSoP's case, it's pretty strongly suggested that the Sun domain is required to work, since you get to use it's granted power more times than usual.

The best explanation I could find for what that means is in Complete Divine p. 20, which is talking about what happens if you gain access to a domain (emphasis mine):

Several of the prestige classes described in this chapter allow a member of that class to select an additional domain, which gives additional granted power and offers more spells for the character to choose as domain spells. Sometimes a domain is specified, and other times a character can choose from any domains offered by his deity (or can choose any domain if he doesn't worship a specific god).

If a noncleric enters a prestige class that allows access to a domain, the character still gains access to the domain. She can use the granted power bestowed by the domain normally.

That is not what I'd call conclusive, but so far it's the closest thing I've found to an actual explanation of what "access to a domain" means. Based on that, it means you have the domain available to use(*), so you'd to select it.

Right after that, CDiv also talks about adapting prestige class requirements to suit another deity. It's something the DM could do pretty easily if you wanted a slightly different flavor for the prestige class, or if you don't want to make a player take a domain like Law if another one would be thematically more appropriate.

*(Note: "use" is itself problematic since trading access to a domain power for an ACF doesn't cause you to "lose" the domain itself. If you had to give up an entire domain for an ACF, that would.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Pelor "has" the Sun domain. You "have access to" it. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 17 '14 at 11:27
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Must Have The Domain Selected

I am basing my answer on the text in the Cleric's SRD:

Deity, Domains, and Domain Spells

A cleric’s deity influences his alignment, what magic he can perform, his values, and how others see him. A cleric chooses two domains from among those belonging to his deity. A cleric can select an alignment domain (Chaos, Evil, Good, or Law) only if his alignment matches that domain.

If a cleric is not devoted to a particular deity, he still selects two domains to represent his spiritual inclinations and abilities. The restriction on alignment domains still applies.

Each domain gives the cleric access to a domain spell at each spell level he can cast, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. The cleric gets the granted powers of both the domains selected.

With access to two domain spells at a given spell level, a cleric prepares one or the other each day in his domain spell slot. If a domain spell is not on the cleric spell list, a cleric can prepare it only in his domain spell slot.

And I am expanding further from Page 53 of Complete Champion:

Clerics and Domain Feats: If you are a cleric (or any other character class who gains access to a domain), you can choose any domain feat corresponding to the list of domains offered by your deity, even if you do not have access to those particular domains. A cleric of Pelor, for example, can choose to cast spells from the Good and Healing domains but select the Strength Devotion and Sun Devotion feats.

In addition, you can choose to give up access to a domain in exchange for the corresponding domain feat. Doing so allows you to select up to three domain feats, but you cannot prepare domain spells or use the granted power of the sacrificed domain. In essence, you trade in a domain for an extra feat slot that you can spend only on a specific domain feat. For example, the above cleric of Pelor could choose to give up the granted power and spells of the Good domain for the Good Devotion feat.

Discussion

Availability vs. Access

Having an availability is not the same thing as having access. The White House is available to the public. But that doesn't mean the public has access to the President's Oval Office. Regarding Domain Feats, you can't give up access to a domain that isn't selected. So if I never took the Law Domain, I can't trade that out for a bonus feat; because I don't access to it yet. I only have it available.

Available Domains for Pelor: Glory, Good, Healing, Strength, Sun

At 1st I will have access to two domains out of the 5 available.

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