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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Does Shapechange grant spell-like abilities and spellcasting of the assumed form? I'm asking here because i saw various interpretations of the spell, and while i know that heavy-optimizers tend to hold the line that the spell grants everything, i often saw people saying it does not grant spellcasting ('cause spellcasting is a "Natural Ability"... which 99% of the times derives from class levels, kind of wierd...), but it only grants spell-like abilities instead, and sometimes i saw someone arguing that it does not grant magical stuff at all.

    I made my researches and i found that in the Shapechange text in the SRD, it says
    You gain all extraordinary and supernatural abilities (both attacks and qualities) of the assumed form
    The real issue with that is that if you search for Supernatural Abilities in the SRD, you'll find that they are a separate voice from Spell-like Abilities and not the former nor the latter seem to have something to share, apart that both are magical stuff.

    So, if we stop here, it seems pretty straight forward that Shapechange does not grant spell-like abilities or spellcasting, but i think the whole issue comes from that line in the spell's text that is "(both attacks and qualities)". What does this mean?
    Let's go to the Solar sheet on the SRD. On the voice Special Attacks we clearly see "spell-like abilities" AND "spellcasting". And the fun fact is that Shapechange seem to grant the user all of the new form's attacks and qualities, thus including spell-like abilities and spellcasting.

    I'd really like to know which is the forum opinion nowadays, and which kind of interpretation of the text seems to be more popular.
    Thanks.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    There is nobody in the world who thinks that Shapechange grants spell-like abilities, so there's no point in discussing that.

    Spellcasting might be Natural, they might be Ex, they certainly aren't Spell-Like or Supernatural. So whether you can get spellcasting depends entirely on how that is ruled.

    "Both attacks and qualities" has a clear meaning given the sentence it's in. It's a clause modifying "Extraordinary and Supernatural abilities". Again, there really aren't any other plausible interpretations.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    Spellcasting might be Natural, they might be Ex, they certainly aren't Spell-Like or Supernatural. So whether you can get spellcasting depends entirely on how that is ruled.
    Piggybacking off of this, there are a few monsters whose spellcasting abilities are clearly called out with an ability type (and that you would therefore gain via Shapechange), such as the Lilitu in FCII.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-08-31 at 12:58 PM.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Well i believe its clear enough that if it is Ex or Su you get it.
    If itis s Sp you don't,so spell like abilities are cut out.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    There is nobody in the world who thinks that Shapechange grants spell-like abilities, so there's no point in discussing that.
    What the heck?!? Im pretty sure i read about people like Tippy (and please, god, forgive me if I'm wrong) writing something like shapechanging into a Solar might grant you spell line abilities, if not spellcasting. Sure i can't remember the thread in wich i read ssuch a thing and i can't quote anything, I'm sorry.

    So, am i totally wrong? Did i misread something?
    I'm Italian, thus I'm historically predisposed to ignorance.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by .Zero View Post
    What the heck?!? Im pretty sure i read about people like Tippy (and please, god, forgive me if I'm wrong) writing something like shapechanging into a Solar might grant you spell line abilities, if not spellcasting. Sure i can't remember the thread in wich i read ssuch a thing and i can't quote anything, I'm sorry.

    So, am i totally wrong? Did i misread something?
    Probably you misremembered. Tippy might have been saying that you could get spells, if not spell-like abilities, so perhaps you just exchanged those two in your memory?
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    The point of interest for Tippy-level optimization is that there are some creatures who have abilities that really ought to be spell-like, but which, for some reason, are instead supernatural. In particular, there's a creature called a Zodar which can produce the effect of a Wish spell as a supernatural ability. Shapechange definitely does grant supernatural abilities, so if you shapechange into a zodar, you can get its Wish.

    Some DMs would respond to this by prohibiting zodars entirely in their game. Some would respond to it by including zodars, but changing their Wish ability into a spell-like ability. And some, like Tippy, respond to it by saying "OK, sure, that works".
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    Spellcasting might be Natural, they might be Ex, they certainly aren't Spell-Like or Supernatural. So whether you can get spellcasting depends entirely on how that is ruled.
    If they're Ex or natural, why don't they work in an AMF?

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    If they're Ex or natural, why don't they work in an AMF?
    Specific vs. General. AMF says they don't. If it also said jumping was prohibited, that would be weird, but it wouldn't mean jumping was supernatural.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    If they're Ex or natural, why don't they work in an AMF?
    The ability to cast spells is a natural/extraordinary ability. The spells themselves are not natural/extraordinary.

    Also, for what it's worth, spellcasting, when not labeled as (EX), should probably be viewed as a natural ability in my opinion, and thus not received when you shapechange into a solar, for instance. Though even if you do receive the spellcasting ability, you would then still need to prepare spells by praying, using a spellbook, etc. There are valid arguments for shapechange granting the spellcasting ability of creatures such as solars, but the text that gives rise to said arguments honestly makes me feel like it's simply taking advantage of 3.5's poor editing. To me, the intent seems fairly clear in trying to not grant you a creature's spellcasting ability by not making monster spellcasting (EX) or SU) outside of a couple books (MM5 and FC1 I think are the only ones?).
    Last edited by Kraken; 2014-09-01 at 10:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    I just think it's odd that everyone jumps to "natural" when an ability is untyped, despite that never being a defined ability type. It's not a natural ability, it's an untyped ability, and shapechange doesn't grant untyped abilities, just those typed EX and SU.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Planar Shepards wild shape grants SU EX and SLA so ws into a solar or any other planar beings will grant you SLA. Maybe it's that you've heard about
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    I just think it's odd that everyone jumps to "natural" when an ability is untyped, despite that never being a defined ability type. It's not a natural ability, it's an untyped ability, and shapechange doesn't grant untyped abilities, just those typed EX and SU.
    Natural abilities are defined in the PHB on pages 180 and 310, and in the Rules Compendium on 118. From the RC: "Natural abilities are those not otherwise designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like." The issue is that the primary rules source on monsters, the Monster Manual, doesn't make mention of natural abilities, and further, says on page 6: "A special ability is either extraordinary (Ex), spell-like (Sp), or supernatural (Su)." Yet in their individual entries, spellcasting, just like racial skill bonuses, are not labeled as (EX), (SU), or (SP). So either you choose to categorize them as (EX), (SU), or (SP) yourself, or use the PHB/RC text to make them natural, and treat the conflict with the MM text on page 6 as being a case of the specific monster ability entry trumping the general rule on page 6.
    Last edited by Kraken; 2014-09-01 at 11:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    I just think it's odd that everyone jumps to "natural" when an ability is untyped, despite that never being a defined ability type. It's not a natural ability, it's an untyped ability, and shapechange doesn't grant untyped abilities, just those typed EX and SU.
    Perhaps I don't understand what you're saying. Natural abilities are defined as those abilities that are not designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like in nature. Which is why it is argued that spellcasting, as an ability whose type is not specified, is a natural ability.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-09-01 at 11:13 AM.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    Perhaps I don't understand what you're saying. Natural abilities are defined as those abilities that are not designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like in nature. Which is why it is argued that spellcasting, as an ability whose type is not specified, is a natural ability.
    Is this really complicated to understand? It's not a natural ability because it's something people learn to do and learn to get better at over time. If it were a natural ability, then it would be something inherent in the form of the creature. Their spells are learned and in their minds. Can you shapechange into a level 20 human cleric? For that matter, can you shapechange into a person and remember their childhood? No.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    If they're Ex or natural, why don't they work in an AMF?
    It's not immediately obvious that spellcasting doesn't work in an AMF. The spells themselves are suppressed, yes, but nothing says that they can't be cast from within the AMF, ceasing to be suppressed once they exit the field.

    It's not an interpretation I would argue for with any particular vigor, but it's certainly consistent with the text.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    Is this really complicated to understand? It's not a natural ability because it's something people learn to do and learn to get better at over time. If it were a natural ability, then it would be something inherent in the form of the creature. Their spells are learned and in their minds. Can you shapechange into a level 20 human cleric? For that matter, can you shapechange into a person and remember their childhood? No.
    Again, "natural ability" is a catch-all term for those abilities not called out as Extraordinary, Supernatural, or Spell-like. Spellcasting fits the definition (in most cases; a few creatures have typed spellcasting abilities), even if it doesn't really make fluff sense as a natural ability. A lot of class features are similarly untyped, but for one reason or another spellcasting is basically the only one that didn't get typed when applied to monsters.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-09-01 at 12:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Except there are specific instances of spellcasting being called out as (Ex), such as the lilitu. Whether this makes it the exception or the rule, however, is anyone's guess.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Except there are specific instances of spellcasting being called out as (Ex), such as the lilitu. Whether this makes it the exception or the rule, however, is anyone's guess.
    One (possibly important) thing that bears mentioning is that a lilitu's Mock Divnity ability isn't actually called "spellcasting," even though it grants the ability to cast spells. To my knowledge none of the MMV monster's typed spellcasting abilities are actually called "spellcasting," either. They're "Arcane Knack" or somesuch.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-09-01 at 12:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    Is this really complicated to understand? It's not a natural ability because it's something people learn to do and learn to get better at over time. If it were a natural ability, then it would be something inherent in the form of the creature. Their spells are learned and in their minds. Can you shapechange into a level 20 human cleric? For that matter, can you shapechange into a person and remember their childhood? No.
    The ability to learn and cast spells is inherent creatures. It makes plenty of sense for it to be natural, even if the effects themselves are not. Regardless of whether this makes sense in anyone's mind, it's very clear in the rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Except there are specific instances of spellcasting being called out as (Ex), such as the lilitu. Whether this makes it the exception or the rule, however, is anyone's guess.
    Just about every common monster ability shows up in multiple different ways. One creature having (EX) spellcasting has no bearing on any other creature, just like one creature having (SU) poison has no bearing on any other creature's poison.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    The notion that the Shapechange spell confers, or ought to confer, spellcasting ability, for the simple reason that this is a natural ability, is not very well-founded. I have three objections to it.

    (1) The text used to justify the notion that spellcasting ability can only be a natural ability is the following passage:

    Natural abilities are those not otherwise designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like.
    There's one word missing from this passage that I would find more persuasive: the word "all." If natural abilities included all those not otherwise designated as extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like, then maybe you could argue that everything that is not labeled "Ex," "Sp," or "Su" must be a natural ability. But the word "all" is absent from this sentence. Moreover, the sentence is immediately preceded by the following:

    This category includes abilities a creature has because of its physical nature.
    (The Player's Handbook, on page 180, adds the clarifying phrase "such as a bird's ability to fly.")

    I interpret this as a limiting clause. Is the ability to cast spells really part of one's own "physical nature"? I'm with Dalebert; I don't think so. I think it would be more accurate to say that the ability to cast spells is part of one's mental nature.

    The claim that spellcasting ability is "natural" gets even weaker when you look at the glossary on page 310 of the Player's Handbook, which defines a natural ability as a "nonmagical capability, such as walking, swimming (for aquatic creatures), and flight (for winged creatures)." How can spellcasting ability be "nonmagical"?

    (2) Secondly, the phrase "natural ability" does not appear in the appendix under the heading "Polymorph Subschool" on page 320 of the Player's Handbook (in its 2012 printing). (I'll say a little more about this text further below.) More importantly, the phrase "natural ability" does not appear in the description of the Alter Self spell, the Polymorph spell, or the Shapechange spell. None of these spells explicitly confers all the natural abilities of the target form. The closest thing I can find to this claim is this sentence in the Alter Self spell's description:

    You acquire the physical qualities of the new form while retaining your own mind.
    But this is a far cry from "all natural abilities," and besides, the text itself explains in detail what the category of "physical qualities" includes, which would not be necessary if it were all-inclusive.

    (3) Thirdly and lastly, one might try again to claim that the Shapechange spell implicitly confers spellcasting ability as a statistic, referring to the following passage from page 320 of the Player's Handbook (2012 printing), concerning the "Polymorph Subschool":

    Unless otherwise noted in the spell's description, the subject of a polymorph spell takes on all the statistics and special abilities of an average member of the assumed form in place of its own except as follows.
    But the only place where "spells" can appear in a creature's statistics block is either next to "Special Attacks" or next to "Special Qualities." In either case, if spells are "special," then they can't also be "natural." Unfortunately, it is nowhere specified in what way spellcasting ability is "special." Is it extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural?

    We don't know, and we have no way of knowing. I personally think it would make the most sense to consider spellcasting ability to be spell-like. This would of course make spellcasting ability impossible to acquire by means of any spell of the Polymorph subschool that I know.

    If spellcasting ability isn't a "natural ability," then what is it? I consider it to be in any case a special ability and in most cases also a class feature. But generally, I think it wrong to expect that you can acquire spellcasting ability by means of the Shapechange spell.
    Last edited by Duke of Urrel; 2014-09-01 at 04:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by .Zero View Post
    What the heck?!? Im pretty sure i read about people like Tippy (and please, god, forgive me if I'm wrong) writing something like shapechanging into a Solar might grant you spell line abilities, if not spellcasting. Sure i can't remember the thread in wich i read ssuch a thing and i can't quote anything, I'm sorry.

    So, am i totally wrong? Did i misread something?
    No, I have never claimed that vanilla Shapechange gives casting abilities that aren't specifically called out in the creatures entry as (Ex) or (Su).

    Some people make the argument but I find it, at best, to be barely on the side of "It's RAW if you make these assumptions that the rules are silent on, squint, and do a jig on a full moon."

    ---
    That being said, you can find a significant percentage of the games total spells (and especially ones that you actually want) on a creature that is a valid Shapechange target as an (Su) ability. And those that you can't find directly can be achieved through Zodar Wish to replicate the effect for virtually all of the rest.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Shapechange definitely doesn't grant SLAs. Spellcasting is more complicated, because of the line
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD-Special Abilities
    A special ability is either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature.
    Some creatures have their spellcasting defined as an (Ex) ability, but they're in the minority. For most it's left undefined.

    The question now is, what kind of ability is it? If it's (Ex) or (Su), Shapechange grants it. If spellcasting is itself a SLA (similar to how manifesting psionic powers is considered a psi-like ability), it is not granted by Shapechange (but by the Planar Shepherd PrC).
    On the other hand the feat Dragon Wild Shape (Drac) mentions SLA and spellcasting as seperate abilities, so it could be neither (Ex), (Su) or SLA. But that conflicts with the general statement above that a special ability is "either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature".

    As you can see there's a lot of room for interpretation and no definite ruling. So it's been argued. A lot.

    For what it's worth, most DMs i know of don't let Shapechange or other form changers grant spellcasting, simply because these things are already powerful enough.
    There's no need to let a single spell make even more classes useless. There's certainly no need to give Planar Shepherds easy access to 9th level spellcasting off 3 lists in addition to all the stuff they already get.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyphoenixx View Post
    Shapechange definitely doesn't grant SLAs. Spellcasting is more complicated, because of the line


    Some creatures have their spellcasting defined as an (Ex) ability, but they're in the minority. For most it's left undefined.

    The question now is, what kind of ability is it? If it's (Ex) or (Su), Shapechange grants it. If spellcasting is itself a SLA (similar to how manifesting psionic powers is considered a psi-like ability), it is not granted by Shapechange (but by the Planar Shepherd PrC).
    On the other hand the feat Dragon Wild Shape (Drac) mentions SLA and spellcasting as seperate abilities, so it could be neither (Ex), (Su) or SLA. But that conflicts with the general statement above that a special ability is "either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature".

    As you can see there's a lot of room for interpretation and no definite ruling. So it's been argued. A lot.

    For what it's worth, most DMs i know of don't let Shapechange or other form changers grant spellcasting, simply because these things are already powerful enough.
    There's no need to let a single spell make even more classes useless. There's certainly no need to give Planar Shepherds easy access to 9th level spellcasting off 3 lists in addition to all the stuff they already get.
    It is none of those things. See also:

    Spells

    A wizard casts arcane spells which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. A wizard must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time (see below).

    To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the wizard must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a wizardís spell is 10 + the spell level + the wizardís Intelligence modifier.

    Like other spellcasters, a wizard can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Wizard. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score.

    Unlike a bard or sorcerer, a wizard may know any number of spells. She must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time by getting a good nightís sleep and spending 1 hour studying her spellbook. While studying, the wizard decides which spells to prepare.
    Compare to:

    Evasion (Ex)

    At 2nd level and higher, a rogue can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If she makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the rogue is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless rogue does not gain the benefit of evasion.
    You will note the lack of qualifier on spellcasting.

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    sleepyphoenixx's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    We're not talking about wizards, we're talking about using shapechange to take the form of a creature that has innate spellcasting ability from its racial HD.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    And you will note in most instances, it is still untyped.

    Spells

    A dragon knows and casts arcane spells as a sorcerer of the level indicated in its variety description, gaining bonus spells for a high Charisma score. Some dragons can also cast spells from the cleric list or cleric domain lists as arcane spells.

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    And you will note in most instances, it is still untyped.
    Yes. Which is the source of the argument, since spellcasting is listed as a special ability. And "A special ability is either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature".

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyphoenixx View Post
    Yes. Which is the source of the argument, since spellcasting is listed as a special ability. And "A special ability is either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature".
    Which is, of course, contradicted by PHB and RC, as pointed out upthread, and which gets us into primary source rules and into the reason why not a lot of people like debates about this topic and its ilk.
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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    For those wondering why there's even a question about the RC not trumping things based on this text in its introduction: "When a preexisting core book or supplement differs with the rules herein, Rules Compendium is meant to take precedence." The problem is the reissues of the core books, that would not be subject to that RC statement. Huzzah for confusion!

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    Default Re: Shapechange, Spells and Spell-like Abilities

    Previous Discussions

    Ability Type of Spellcasting: The most comprehensive debate on this topic can be found here. In it:
    • Proponents (chiefly led by JaronK) state that spellcasting is an extraordinary ability and thus, RAW, granted by Shapechange (although he houserules this away). His chief argument is that monster abilities must be Ex, Su, or Sp (or Natural), and A) spellcasting is presented in a way as to preclude Natural, B) Of the remaining choices, Ex is the rules-appropriate default answer, and although unrelated to the argument, notes that C) making them natural causes even more problems and D) there are multiple examples of extraordinary spellcasting in first-party works.
    • Others (notably Psyren and Nettlekid, among many others) hold that spellcasting is either a fifth, unmentioned ability type, or a natural ability that is not granted by any of the spells that grant natural abilties. As I think JaronK refuted everything they said multiple times, I wouldn't do a good job of summarizing their points. That said, their arguments are supported by game balance, and RAI (including sample stats in the books).


    Casting Spells in an Antimagic Field is discussed in the above thread, but a more extensive debate is held in this thread. In it:
    • Proponents (chiefly led by me) argue that spellcasting is allowed in an antimagic field, with restrictions, but spells such as orb of force and teleport still work. The supports include: A) Spellcasting is explicitly allowed, but suppressed, B) Some spell effects are explicitly allowed (not suppressed).
    • Others (notably Esgath) argue that although spellcasting and spell effects may be allowed in an AMF, there is a RAW-ambiguous intermediate step - the spell - that AMF blocks. Thus you can cast a spell, but the spell effect never happens because the spell doesn't go off.


    I recommend people try at least a couple of pages of these threads if they wish to continue the debate.

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