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Elder Giant Magic (Secrets of Xen'drik p.135) requires a Concentration check each round you use it, and “You cannot take 10 on these checks.”

Steady Concentration (Races of Stone p.144) says that “You can always take 10 on Concentration checks, even when conditions would not normally allow you to do so.”

Assuming that you have both feats, can you take 10 on the Concentration checks to use Elder Giant Magic?

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Undefined

You have two equally-specific clauses (they’re both feats) that say contradictory things (one says you always can, the other says you never can). The errata rules define how to handle contradictory statements (specific trumps general, primary trumps secondary), but that doesn’t help when both are primary and both equally specific.

Unfortunately, there’s just nothing for it but to ask the DM, and there’s no guidance in the rules for the DM, either. My own personal advice is to allow it—two feats is a lot, and Elder Giant Magic is a rather weak feat in most cases.

Related: Can Skill Mastery let you take 10 with Use Magic Device?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it worth suggesting Hardened Criminal as an unambiguous alternative? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 22 '16 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that this is the correct answer by the strict rules as written. However, I think that Oblivious Sage is right that the rules are not intended to allow it (like Skill Mastery), and that the resultant contradiction was caused by poor wording \$\endgroup\$ – Thom Smith Apr 22 '16 at 1:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomSmith I absolutely disagree. I think Steady Concentration is supposed to always let you take 10—and the subsequent clause amounts to just “yes, even then.” The only problem is that Elder Giant Magic says never—in effect, “no, not even then.” Unstoppable force vs. immovable object. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 22 '16 at 2:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ The full description of Steady Concentration includes: “Normal: A character cannot take 10 on any skill check if distracted or threatened, such as during combat.” Now, like any “Normal:” text, this sentence has no rules function. But read in this context, it does seem to me that the author of the feat meant for it to work like Skill Mastery and accidentally wrote it in a way that does not reflect their intent. Obviously, this is only my best guess and reasonably people can disagree. \$\endgroup\$ – Thom Smith Apr 22 '16 at 2:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomSmith The significant difference between Steady Concentration and Skill Mastery is the presence of always, which to me is a rather strong modifier. That said, I have also never felt that Skill Mastery only allowed you to ignore stress and adverse conditions; to me that clause appears to be only an example of the sort of situation where you wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to take-10, not a statement that this is the only situation that Skill Mastery helps with. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 22 '16 at 3:02
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No.

From the PHB, p65:

Taking 10: When your character is not being threatened or distracted, you may choose to take 10. ... Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10.

Steady Concentration lets you take 10 when conditions would not allow you to. Elder Giant Magic's rules text is not a "condition", the way battle or distractions are, it's how the feat works.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Then does Steady Concentration do anything at all? I am not aware of a condition that could ever prevent you from taking 10 on a Concentration check. The most common reason not to be able to take 10 is a stressful situation like combat, which is not a condition. Unless (as must be presumed) the word “condition” is supposed to mean something else entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – Thom Smith Apr 22 '16 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomSmith See edit. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 22 '16 at 0:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage The text is even when conditions would otherwise prevent it. That does not preclude it working otherwise—and you can always take 10 on Concentration checks is pretty absolute. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 22 '16 at 1:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomSmith The wording difference is just the usual crummy editing of rulebooks that plagues the industry. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 22 '16 at 1:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I would interpret Steady Concentration as letting you take 10 on any concentration check where taking 10 is possible, regardless of any outside circumstances that might otherwise prevent you from doing so. But Elder Giant Magic is a check where taking 10 explicitly isn't possible. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Apr 22 '16 at 1:24

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