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The feat Psicrystal Affinity grants the psion a psicrystal. The feat Psicrystal Containment allows the psion to take a full-round action to make a Concentration skill check (DC 20) to have the psicrystal gain psionic focus. The feat Psionic Meditation allows a psion to take a move action to make a Concentration skill check (DC 20) to regain his psionic focus.

When the feat Psicrystal Containment says, "Psionically focusing your psicrystal works just like focusing yourself," does this mean the feat Psionic Meditation can accelerate the psion restoring his psicrystal's psionic focus? Or does the first part of the benefit of the feat Psionic Containment (i.e. "You can spend a full-round action attempting to psionically focus your psicrystal") override this? Or is there a third option of which I'm unaware?

I'd prefer some sort of official response if any's forthcoming, but, absent that, experience and textual analysis is fine.


Background

I've a player who wants his character to take a standard action to manifest schism, spending 7 power points (or 6 while standing on stone or unworked earth due to the feat Earth Power (Races of Stone 138)). Then the character takes a swift action to manifest the 1st-level psychic warrior power grip of iron and expends his psicrystal's psionic focus to modify grip of iron with the metapsionic feat Linked Power (Complete Psionic 62) linked to the 2nd-level psion/wilder power bestow power. This costs 1 power point for the power grip of iron +3 power points for the metapsionic cost of the feat Linked Power linked to the power bestow power −2 power points due to the feat Metapower (Linked Power) (Complete Psionic 63) −1 power point while standing on stone or unworked earth due to the feat Earth Power for a total of 1 power point. Then—maybe—he takes a move action to use Psionic Meditation to regain his psicrystal's psionic focus.

The next round, the power bestow power manifests, granting him 2 power points. He repeats last turn's swift action. He—again, maybe—takes a move action to regain his psicrsytal's psionic focus. He then takes 2 standard actions, one of them purely mental. This continues until the duration expires on the power schism.

Because the feat Earth Power says, "You cannot use this ability [Earth Power's power point cost reduction] when you expend your psionic focus to enhance the same power in a different manner," to benefit from the feat Earth Power while also employing on the power grip of iron the metapsionic feat Linked Power, the character must expend the psionic focus of the psicrystal instead of his own.

In other words, the entire process still yields pretty much nigh-infinite noncombat power points but remains impractical in combat if Psionic Meditation does not speed up psionically focusing the psicrystal.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ceribia I'm actually not demanding a rule-as-written answer (see paragraph 3). So while this is a rules-heavy question requiring a knowledge from relatively obscure (and, in one case, loathed) splatbooks, I'm not entirely sure the tag's appropriate. I mean, I'll keep it if you still think it's necessary, but since I don't think a rules-as-written answer exists, I'd rather open the question wider to careful readers and those with experience than just the severe legalists. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 18 '16 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was actually your third paragraph mentioning textual analysis, and the in-depth description of the rules interacting in the background portion, that made me think rules-as-written was an appropriate tag. Of course it's your question and you are welcome to tag/not tag as you feel is appropriate! I look forward to seeing the answer to this regardless. \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Feb 18 '16 at 2:28
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I read the “spend a full-round action” as a reminder

Rather than being a specific rule that would require a more-specific rule to overcome. I read “just like focusing yourself” as the ultimate rule for deciding how Psicrystal Containment works. Thus, since Psicrystal Containment works “just like focusing yourself,” which is a move action when you have Psionic Meditation, you can focus your psicrystal as a move action when you have both.

The reverse reading is equally-valid, but doesn’t seem in keeping with (what I imagine is) the intent.

I would also comment that I asked Andreas Rönnqvist, an author of the very well-received Hyperconscious book and one of the founders of Dreamscarred Press, who is something of an expert in the field of 3.x psionics. He agreed that Psionic Meditation makes focusing a move action “regardless of where the focus resides.”

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No, you can't focus your crystal as a move action.

For what it's worth neither the Ask Wizards Archive nor FAQ has anything to say on the subject. With that in mind, let us proceed.

Psicrystal Containment, as you keenly observe, has two normally non-contradicting rules:

You can spend a full-round action attempting to psionically focus your psicrystal.

and

Psionically focusing your psicrystal works just like focusing yourself.

It seems to me that the reason the second part is there is because the writers didn't want to reprint the three paragraphs under "gaining psionic focus" that the Concentration skill already lists. It's less rules and more like a shortcut - if you need more info on how to do the focus thing, look here. Because these are general rules, Psionic Meditation is allowed, as a specific source, to modify how they work, and downgrade the required action.

However, the full-round action part is explicitly called out, not just alluded to. It has gone from general (refer to the regular rules) to specific (in the case of focusing the crystal, use a full-round action). It is more specific than Psionic Meditation, and Psionic Meditation can't change how it works.

In summary

Rules as written: You must take a full round action because Psionic Meditation is more general than Psicrystal Containment when it comes to the action necessary to focus a psicrystal.

My interpretation of the rules' intent: You must take a full round action because the "as normal" text is a stand-in for the full text under Concentration. The "you" is not "you, the specific character" but is referring to the generic rules.

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Yeah, sure. Ultimately, Psicrystal Containment works "just like focusing yourself."

Yes, the feat says that "you can spend a full-round action attempting to psionically focus your psicrystal." You'll note that this tone is one of permission, not insistence. One surmises that even after taking Psionic Meditation, you could choose to focus yourself as a full-round action, even if doing so would be of no benefit, right? It's something that you can do. Being able to do something else (in this case, focus as a move action) is hardly contradictory. So, though Psicrystal Containment grants you the capacity to use your full-round actions to focus your crystal, it certainly doesn't preclude you from doing so by using a different action to do so any more than it precludes you from using full-round actions to do anything but focus.

The counterargument against this position is that it's an asinine and overly legalistic reading, and that there's an implicit mandate for psicrystal focus to work only as a full-round action because "specific beats general" and the action-type is specifically enumerated. My rebuttal to this criticism is that it, itself, is a legalistic reading of an only moderately-lesser degree. If we're trying to feel out intent, then I find it fairly clear that the voice used in Psicrystal Containment is descriptive, not proscriptive. It mentions focus as a full-round action as a reminder and an illustrative flourish, not as a strict stipulation or caveat.

Either way? Your player is trying to give up his move action for the benefit of a single power point, and you have already acquiesced (rightly, in my opinion) to the out-of-combat recharge mechanism. As tactics go, it's not exactly earthshattering. Say yes.

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