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Reading about the Warpriest, I find the Sacred Weapon class feature to be less than clear. The specific paragraphs I'm unclear about are:

At 4th level, the warpriest gains the ability to enhance one of his sacred weapons with divine power as a swift action. This power grants the weapon a +1 enhancement bonus. For every 4 levels beyond 4th, this bonus increases by 1 (to a maximum of +5 at 20th level). If the warpriest has more than one sacred weapon, he can enhance another on the following round by using another swift action. The warpriest can use this ability a number of rounds per day equal to his warpriest level, but these rounds need not be consecutive.

These bonuses stack with any existing bonuses the weapon might have, to a maximum of +5. The warpriest can enhance a weapon with any of the following weapon special abilities: brilliant energy, defending, disruption, flaming, frost, keen, and shock. In addition, if the warpriest is chaotic, he can add anarchic and vicious. If he is evil, he can add mighty cleaving and unholy. If he is good, he can add ghost touch and holy. If he is lawful, he can add axiomatic and merciful. If he is neutral (with no other alignment components), he can add spell storing and thundering. Adding any of these special abilities replaces an amount of bonus equal to the special ability's base cost. Duplicate abilities do not stack. The weapon must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any other special abilities can be added.

The only things that seems clear to me are that enhancement bonuses from Sacred Weapon will stack with enhancement bonuses on the weapon itself and that enhancement bonuses can be "spent" for weapon special abilities instead.

The things I'm confused about:

  1. "These bonuses stack with any existing bonuses the weapon might have, to a maximum of +5." This says that the total stacked enhancement bonus has a maximum value of +5? This would seem to imply any bonuses above +5 should probably be spent on special abilities, correct?
  2. If I have a +2 longsword and a +2 Sacred Weapon bonus, I have a total of +4 enhancement bonus. Can I then decide to invest the +4 into a special ability like Brilliant Energy, which costs a +4 bonus?
  3. "The weapon must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any other special abilities can be added." Does this mean that the weapon itself must have a +1 enhancement bonus or can the enhancement bonus gained through Sacred Weapon qualify for adding special abilities? Does the weapon have to retain at least a +1 bonus after special abilities have been added?

I suspect these questions could also apply to Sacred Armor as well since the rules are nearly identical.

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Sacred Weapon stacks with other weapon bonuses. A warpriest simply cannot raise the enhancement bonus above +5, regardless of the sources of that enhancement, so if a weapon has some enhancement already before using Sacred Weapon, normally some bonuses would be lost. However, instead of increasing the enhancement bonus further, you can bestow special abilities upon the weapon, that replace some of the enhacement bonus you might have had, including the amounts that would go over the maximum allowed +5.

  1. Precisely, but you don't have to spend them on abilities. You can simply lose them if you prefer. Why would you like that is anyone's guess.

  2. No. You can only replace bonus that would be the result of Sacred Weapon. You cannot replace an enhancement bonus that has some other source. While this is not explicitly stated in RAW, there is a passage saying

    The enhancement bonus and special abilities are determined the first time the ability is used each day, and cannot be changed until the next day.

    That means you choose your enhancement bonus and special abilities without regard to existing bonuses and abilities on the target weapon. You might even choose ones that you have from some other source (spells, weapon enchantments, other player's abilities) and in that situation the enhancement bonus will stack but not exceed +5 in total and the doubled special abilities will not stack. If you decide to use the ability on a different weapon, you have to use the same choice of bonuses and abilities and resolve the final effect independently

  3. This fragment means that when Sacred Weapon ability takes effect the enhancement bonus is considered first. In a situation where the weapon is left with no net enhancement bonus, no further special abilities will be added.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "You have to bestow at least +1 enhancement bonus using Sacred Weapon if you wish to choose to also bestow any special abilities" - I'm not sure that's accurate. Sacred Armor has the exact same wording, and the ability to grant Greater Energy Resistence, which costs the Warpriest a +5 bonus. So, it seems clear to me I can use all of my Sacred Weapon/Armor enhancement bonus to "purchase" special abilities instead. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 16 '15 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ That actually makes a lot of sense. Thanks for pointing this out. \$\endgroup\$ – eimyr Dec 16 '15 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If your armor is already +1 and you use Sacred Armor, it will have a total of +6, so you can grant it Greater Energy Resistance (which costs +5), resulting in a +1 Armor with Greater Energy Resistance. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 17 '15 at 11:17
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  1. You would be correct, the rules for weapon enhancement bonuses are clear and cant go above +5. The weapon can continue to have properties such as the ones you listed and they would add to the items maximum enchantment bonus(Which i believe is +10, however this class feature doesnt seem to mention whether you can ignore that or not)

That being said, a DM could interput this a different way. The line says exactly "These bonuses stack with any existing bonuses the weapon might have, to a maximum of +5."

Emphasis Mine

Which could be the TOTAL enchantment bonus and not just the enhancement bonus. However I think that would be a little unfair.

  1. No. Your base sword enhancement bonus of +2 wouldnt factor into what you can use with your class feature Sacred Weapon. You can only use the bonus you get from it (+1 every 4 levels to a maximum of +5 at 20th level) to add abilities to your weapon. So to add brilliant energy to your weapon(which requires a +4 bonus) you would need to be level 16 if the weapon already has a +1 enhancement bonus, level 20 if its a non magical weapon.

3a. The first part of this situation is a bit unclear. The rules dont seem to specify whether the weapon has to have a natural +1 enhancement bonus on it, or whether you can use a +1 bonus from the class feature to make it qualify to add other abilities. Obviously this means you would need to be at least 8th level to add an ability to a non magical weapon (so you have a +2 total Sacred Weapon Bonus). I could easily see this as a perfectly fine way to rule this as it doesnt seem to make things too powerful by any means. By level 8 you should most certainly have a magical weapon anyway, making this moot.

3b. The second part of your 3rd question is a bit more clear. Yes, the weapon would lose any special abilities Sacred Weapon have put on it should it lose its +1 or higher enhancement bonus. This is just like most other prerequisites in Pathfinder, they must be present for the continued use of whatever requires them.

As for Sacred Armor, You would be correct that this should also apply to that feature. the rules for weapons and armor dont vary much, if at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ On 3a, the scenario I had envisioned was in the event that I get separated from my primary weapon because of plot and had to borrow a non-magical version for a short length of time. If I can still power it up (given favored weapon or weapon focus), it'd be handy to know. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 16 '15 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thats a good point, it could also be helpful to be able to power up any weapon handy, in case you need a specific type on a certain creature. (Blunt for skeletons as an example) \$\endgroup\$ – Mayshar Dec 16 '15 at 22:36

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