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Today during session a question came up about Three Reasons to Live. Is the bard able to get the +6 bard level bonus to a bardic performance without using the once per day power, or is starting a performance with the horn a part of the same ability?

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The two functions are separate

The item description says:

...Once per day the horn can be blown to [produce an effect]. If a bard uses the horn to start a bardic performance, [the performance is enhanced].

These are two separate abilities. The first ability is a 'command-word' function, 'paid' for by being a consumed daily use ability of the item. The second is a function of the item enhancing the Bardic Performance ability of a bard, which is already a limited resource, limited to \$Cha + 2 × Level +2\$ rounds per day.


The wording makes them separate too...

The way the sentences read also makes them unconnected. The first sentence is a physical description of the instrument. The second describes an ability of the instrument, while the third and fourth sentences each refer back to the previous sentence, connecting them to it:

2 Once per day the horn can be blown to affect all allies...
3 Affected creatures gain sonic resistance [etc]...
4 This protection lasts...

the fifth sentence does not refer to the previous ability so is unconnected to the first ability. Thus it describes a separate ability. The sixth, and last, sentence again refers back to the previous sentence, making it part of the second ability:

5 If a bard uses the horn to start a bardic performance...
6 This doesn't grant the bard...

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