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The Unseen Seer prestige class (CM) has the Divination Spell Power class feature, which reads:

At 3rd level, you gain a +1 bonus to your caster level when casting an arcane divination spell. This bonus improves to +2 at 6th level, and to +3 at 9th level.

This benefit comes at a cost: Your caster level for all other arcane spells is reduced by 1 at 3rd level. This reduction becomes 2 at 6th level and becomes 3 at 9th level. For example, a 4th-level rogue/1st-level sorcerer/6th-level unseen seer would have a caster level of 9th for her arcane divination spells, but only 5th for her nondivination arcane spells.

The Practiced Spellcaster feat (CA) reads:

Your caster level for the chosen spellcasting class increases by 4. This benefit can't increase your caster level to higher than your Hit Dice. However, even if you can't benefit from the full bonus immediately, if you later gain Hit Dice in levels of nonspellcasting classes, you might be able to apply the rest of the bonus. For example, a human 5th-level sorcerer/3rd-level fighter who selects this feat would increase his sorcerer caster level from 5th to 8th (since he has 8 Hit Dice). If he later gained a fighter level, he would gain the remainder of the bonus and his sorcerer caster level would become 9th (since he now has 9 Hit Dice). A character with two or more spellcasting classes (such as a bard/sorcerer or a ranger/druid) must choose which class gains the feat's effect. This feat does not affect your spells per day or spells known. It increases your caster level only, which would help you penetrate spell resistance and increase the duration and other effects of your spells.

If a character has both of these abilities (say, a Rogue 2/Wizard 3/Unseen Seer 8), how is their caster level calculated, for both divination and non-divination spells?


I can think of four possibilities:

1. Divination Spell Power applies first: Thus, the example character's caster level for divination spells is 13 (11 spellcasting levels, +2 for Divination Spell Power, +0 for Practiced Spellcaster because already at HD cap), and their caster level for non-divination spells is also 13 (11 spellcasting levels, -2 for Divination Spell Power, +4 for Practiced Spellcaster).

2. Practiced Spellcaster applies first: Thus, the example character's caster level for divination spells is 15 (11 spellcasting levels, +2 for Practiced Spellcaster to reach HD cap, +2 for Divination Spell Power), and their caster level for non-divination spells is 11 (11 spellcasting levels, +2 for Practiced Spellcaster to reach HD cap, -2 for Divination Spell Power).

3. The player decides the order in which they apply, but must choose the same order for both divination and non-divination spells: Thus, the player may choose between options 1 and 2.

4. The player may decide independently in each case what order to apply the bonuses: Thus, if they apply the bonuses in the most beneficial order in each case, their caster level for divination spells is 15 (per the reasoning in option 2), and their caster level for non-divination spells is 13 (per the reasoning in option 1).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am really embarrassed to discover, after literally years of recommending unseen seer as this really great, can-go-with-anything-and-be-cool class, that it has this penalty. I’d never noticed it before. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 14 '17 at 0:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ TheMoreYouKnow ★ \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Feb 14 '17 at 0:53
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The consensus, based on an FAQ guideline, is that effects are applied in the order of the controller’s choice. So since the unseen seer here is the source of both bonuses, he applies what order they apply in. Therefore, most would suggest that the situation is either 3 or 4.

However, this still leaves us with the question of whether or not the unseen seer can choose independently for different spells. Ultimately, the rules don’t comment on the order of operations to begin with, so they definitely don’t cover something with this much depth.

So a DM has to rule, first that the guideline is going to be treated as a rule (I strongly recommend that a DM do this), and then decide between 3 and 4 for this particular feature (on this, I am less sure).

Personally, I am not actually sure how I would rule. Unseen seer is a very good class, and the wizard it’s improving, in this case, is one of the best. A −1 to −3 penalty to caster level is not such a big deal (provided it doesn’t prevent the casting of one’s highest-level spells, which it may or may not—this should be a separate question), so maybe that’s fair. On the other hand, it’s kind of annoying, and especially for a rogue/wizard rather than a straight wizard using assassin’s stance to benefit from the precision damage bonus, this character has already given up a lot of power to use unseen seer (and for a straight wizard, burning a feat on Practiced Spellcaster is also paying a fair amount). Either way, the caster level penalty isn’t much of a balancing factor, so I suppose I’d be inclined to just give it to the player.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty much the answer I was expecting to get, but hoping not to :D . If nobody comes along in the next day or so with an "Actually I have this obscure ruling on this right here," I'll accept this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Feb 14 '17 at 0:55

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