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I am playing a Bladebound Magus in a campaign with very quick level advancement, necessitating frequent recalculation of my stats. The only part of my character advancement that's confusing me is calculating my Black Blade's skill ranks. From the PFSRD:

Upon reaching an Intelligence of 12, it gains a bonus language of the GM’s choice, and gains 1 rank in Knowledge (arcana). Each time the sword gains a bonus to Intelligence, it gains another language and another rank in Knowledge (arcana). [Empahsis mine]

The wording of the second sentence is the issue and I feel as if I may be aproaching my advancement incorrectly. Does the way the entry is worded mean every time my Blade's INT score increases it gains another skill rank and language (ie. from 12 to 13 with no increase in modifier)? Or every time its INT modifier increases (ie. from 13 to 14 and from a modifier of +1 to +2)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I know this has been resolved, answers so far ignore a legalistic reading, like, for instance, the spell fox's cunning that "grants a +4 enhancement bonus to Intelligence" therefore allowing the sword to gain 4 languages and 4 skill ranks each time the spell's cast on it (assuming the caster can figure out a way to target the sword). Would this sort of absurdist reading be useful or would it just muddy things? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 15 '15 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The sword is explicitly not a living creature but an intelligent item, so I don't believe spells like Fox's Cunning would work on it. Otherwise I'd use that exact spell before every combat for more Arcane Pool points. \$\endgroup\$ – SableGear Dec 16 '15 at 0:11
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PFSRD says this about Attribute modifiers:

Each ability, after changes made because of race, has a modifier ranging from –5 to +5. [...] A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.

Compare to these sections from Black Blade Basics:

Languages and Skills: A black blade starts with Common as a language. As the black blade increases in Intelligence, it manifests knowledge of languages and arcane lore. Upon reaching an Intelligence of 12, it gains a bonus language of the GM’s choice, and gains 1 rank in Knowledge (arcana). Each time the sword gains a bonus to Intelligence, it gains another language and another rank in Knowledge (arcana).

Black Blade Arcane Pool: A black blade has an arcane pool with a number of points equal to 1 + its Intelligence bonus.

Hence, you get extra skills every time the bonus (or modifier) increases (the same as with characters).

If it was every time the score increases, they would say "Each time the sword increases in Intelligence..." similar to the start of the Languages & Skills paragraph.

Also, it starts gaining skills at Int 12, ie Int modifier (or bonus) of +1

And, its Arcane Pool size is 1 + Int bonus. If this is not the same as Int modifier, then what is it? If this is the same as Int modifier, why isn't it in the previous paragraph?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Compare the use of "bonus" to that on the Eidolons page. The "STR/DEX Bonus" column doesn't mean that's what the stat's modifier becomes, it means they gain that bonus to their base stat. That's the logic I'm working under for advancing my Blade. d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/summoner/eidolons \$\endgroup\$ – SableGear Dec 16 '15 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added more references to support my argument \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Dec 16 '15 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, the only "bonus" the Black Blade has in its table is Enhancement Bonus. Its int is just listed as "Int" not "Int bonus". It is different to Eidolons, because it doesn't have a "base stat + bonus", it just has "Int = this". \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Dec 16 '15 at 0:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would be "a bonus to its Intelligence modifier" then, but it isn't. That's why I'm certain the bonus is to Intelligence (score) itself, not a bonus to its bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 16 '15 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie How do you reconcile that with "A black blade has an arcane pool with a number of points equal to 1 + its Intelligence bonus"? How do you propose to calculate its pool size? What is its bonus if not its modifier? And if it means modifier in this paragraph, why do you think it means something else in the previous paragraph? And, why does it start gaining skills at Int 12 (= modifier, or bonus, +1)? \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Dec 16 '15 at 2:17
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It's every time the blade benefits from this feature:

Intelligence: This is the intelligence score of the black blade. It starts at 10 and increases by 1 for every two levels of the bladebound magus (at 3rd level, 5th level, and so on).

A very RAW reading could say that increases to the Int score from other sources would also count, sure, maybe — but that's a tangent and neither here or there. The point is that it's a clear reference to this part of Black Blade Basics.

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