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The chameleon prestige class from Races of Destiny can gain an unusual form of arcane spellcasting through the use of its arcane focus class feature.

Is this class feature sufficient for a chameleon to activate spell-completion and spell-trigger items of arcane spells (that he has a high enough caster level for, for spell-completion) without requiring Use Magic Device?

We all play 3.x and the standard rules interaction implied thereof, not just 3.0 or 3.5, and I'm looking for a strict rules interpretation given these.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you put some more question in the question? Note that tags are not a substitute for actually writing a question body: right now there's no obvious reason for 2 of 3 tags, because tags are supposed to describe the content of the question. Why are there two game tags? Why is there a RAW tag (do you want a strictly-literal interpretation, or are you asking for rules-clarification, or some other reason)? Are you asking about a homebrew class (if so, provide a link), or something else? Don't make us guess what the point of the question is. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 20 '16 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I think the question is perfectly clear to someone familiar with the material being asked about. Chameleon is a 3.5 prestige class from Races of Destiny that has an unusual spellcasting feature with unclear interactions with the spell-completion and spell-trigger magic item activation methods. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 20 '16 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan By all means, expand out the question in the ways that are obvious with the right knowledge. Questions should be at least understandable by anyone reading them though, and as an important side effect, makes them much more searchable for future problem-havers. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 20 '16 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is in the title, the body indicates extra information. The tags are because we all play 3.x and the standard rules interaction implied thereof, not just 3.0 or 3.5. I want to know if the class feature in question of the class listed allows for the use of the indicated effects per the rules as written. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jul 20 '16 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan And we cross-posted with the same thought, awesome, thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 20 '16 at 19:50
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The first question is about what it means to “qualify” for an “option” since chameleon includes this blurb about aptitude focus:

You can’t use any abilities gained from your aptitude focus [...] feature abilities to qualify for a feat, prestige class, or other option.

The first question is whether or not a magic item is an “option” that you have to “qualify” for in order to use it. The word “qualify” is not used anywhere in the magic items section, and it is used for things like feats and prestige classes, which this section explicitly lists—but “other option” is impossibly broad and really quite vague. I do not think that activating a magic item is similar enough to qualifying for a feat or prestige class to support preventing magic-item activation on these grounds, however. The term “qualify” is used a lot when discussing feats and prestige classes, and the fact that it never is for magic items is important, I think. But ultimately this is only a circumstantial case, and a DM is going to have to rule on it.

Anyway, even assuming that that is no barrier, we still have to consider the actual activation rules:

  • Spell completion is actually a little more straightforward here: it requires that you be able to cast the spell. So any arcane spell whose caster level is not greater than the chameleon’s, the chameleon could use in scroll form.

  • Spell trigger is more complicated. The requirement there is that the item contain “a spell on your spell list.” The problem is that it’s unclear if the chameleon can even be said to have a spell list:

    You gain the ability to prepare and cast arcane spells, which may be chosen from the spell list of any arcane spellcasting class.

    That means either the chameleon has no spell list (it just poaches other lists), or it has a list that is the union of the spell lists of every arcane spellcasting class.

    To answer which it is, consider the similarity to the wording for paladin:

    Beginning at 4th level, a paladin gains the ability to cast a small number of divine spells, which are drawn from the paladin spell list.

    Nothing else says that when you take levels in the paladin class, the paladin spell list becomes “your spell list,” and yet the spell-trigger rules call out paladins explicitly with “(This is the case even for a character who can’t actually cast spells, such as a 3rd-level paladin.)” To me, this means that a chameleon should be able to activate spell-trigger items as well. For that matter, spell-trigger activation is initially described as

    similar to spell completion, but it’s even simpler.

    If it’s simpler, the chameleon shouldn’t be able to use spell-completion items of spells he couldn’t use spell-trigger items of.

You do have to actually choose arcane focus, however, to have any feature at all that includes spellcasting. On days where you do not choose arcane focus, you have no spell list and cannot use these items.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Immediately under your second quote, I think "ranger" is a typo. (Though I did spend a few minutes trying to parse some difference in ranger and paladin spellcastings) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Jul 20 '16 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Yeah, whoops. I originally was using ranger as my example and then remembered that the spell-trigger rules actually make an example of paladin. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 20 '16 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer doesn't address the most pressing reason why someone might think a Chameleon wouldn't be able to use these options: the text at the beginning of the Class Features section (RoD p. 112) that prevents using Aptitude Focus to qualify for things. If the ability to use Spell Trigger/Spell Completion items is an "option" (a term that isn't well-defined in the rules), then a Chameleon can't do it. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Jul 22 '16 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @A_S00 You are correct, I completely forgot to consider that. I will have to reread the text tomorrow and improve my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 22 '16 at 2:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Scroll prereqs are based on casterlevel, not spell slot. The difference is relevant when a Chameleon 10 has casterlevel 20 but only 6th-level slots. \$\endgroup\$ – topquark Jul 22 '16 at 5:31

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