[RPG] Which printings of Complete Champion had this line on the Lion Totem barbarian


I have found a difference between multiple versions of the book Complete Champion.

Some appear to have the text

Regal and intimidating, the powerful lion is a symbol of nobility among the races of the wild. By selecting him as your spiritual totem, you gain the pounce (MM313) ability at Level 3.

Others appear to have the text

Regal and intimidating, the powerful lion is a symbol of nobility among the races of the wild. By selecting him as your spiritual totem, you gain the pounce ability (MM 313).

Which of these is actually canonically true/most recent? Which printings am I actually looking at?

I found the former version in a couple of Xerox'ed pages I had from a friend before I got the book myself and found the latter version.

Best Answer

The photocopy that provided the first version has almost-certainly been altered to incorporate someone’s houserules, and does not represent any official publication of Complete Champion. There are numerous reasons to believe this:

  1. It does not follow Wizard of the Coast’s formatting and style guidelines. “Level 3” is just... not how Wizards of the Coast indicated 3rd level (“3rd level” or “character level 3rd” or “3 hit dice” would all be common choices; “Level 3” is not used anywhere in the edition to my knowledge, and I pay attention to these things). For that matter, “level” is not a proper noun in their typesetting, and wouldn’t be capitalized.

  2. The alternate class features in Complete Champion always replace a feature with something gained at the same level. The very formatting of the book’s alternate class feature section indicates this, by indicating the Level that the alternate class feature comes at.

    Complete Champion indicates 1st level for the spiritual totem alternate class feature, which makes sense since it replaces the 1st-level feature fast movement.

    So the “at Level 3” clause in the photocopy would be a contradiction with the prior statement that spiritual totem is a 1st-level alternate class feature, and with the simple fact that fast movement comes at 1st level.

  3. It is extremely common to recommend a single-level dip of barbarian for the purposes of gaining pounce. I have seen this recommendation literally hundreds of times. And as I have said, I have never once heard of it not working because it actually requires being a 3rd-level barbarian. If there was even a single official publication of the book that indicated pounce was delayed until 3rd level, it strains belief to suggest that this would never have come up. The internet is certainly subject to a certain risk of groupthink, but this suggestion is just so common (and the option certainly has its detractors who would be glad to find any excuse to burst that bubble).

  4. Finally, from a pure system-design perspective, the 1st-level pounce option is really important to the game. Prior to Complete Champion and this option, melee characters basically could not move and maintain their damage; existing options to do it were just far too expensive. While it is problematic to effectively “patch” this situation in a splatbook, and it’s even more problematic to tie the patch specifically to one of two classes (Complete Champion also includes Travel Devotion, best used by clerics, which also improves this situation), but ultimately the game is better with these options, imperfect as they are, than it was without them. Doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what Wizards of the Coast intended, but it’s a good reason to follow the second version regardless of their intent. And since Complete Champion was a rather-late book, and this wasn’t the only such fix it included, I think there is reason to think they knew exactly what they were doing.