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Realms of Chaos
2011-04-16, 12:03 AM
Inspired by Flabort's ongoing efforts to bring forth a PrC with more caster levels than class levels, I came up with a rather simple class design below. As this class seems to fulfill none of the primary design goals that the metamaster was designed for, it seems somewhat apt to separate it and see how this thing fares. If Flabort asks me to take this down, however (the general concept was his, after all), I will do so without hesitation.

True Theurge

Prerequisites:
Skills:Spellcraft 8 ranks, Knowledge (arcane) or Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (nature) 8 ranks
Spells: Ability to cast 2nd level spells.

Hit Die: d6
{table]Level | BaB | Fort | ref | Will | Special | Spell casting
1|+0|+0|+0|+2|True Power +1 level|-
2|+1|+0|+0|+3|True Power +2 levels|+1 level of existing spell casting class
3|+2|+1|+1|+3|True Power +3 levels|-
4|+3|+1|+1|+4|True Power +4 levels|+1 level of existing spell casting class
5|+3|+1|+1|+4|True Power +5 levels|-[/table]

Skills (4 + Int modifier per level): Concentration, Craft, Knowledge (any one), Profession, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device. At 1st level, you may select an additional four skills so long as each one is a class skill for another class in which you possess levels. These skills are treated as class skills.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A true theurge gains no additional proficiencies with any form of weaponry or armor.

Spellcasting: At 2nd and 4th level, the true theurge gains new spell levels and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class that he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other class benefit of that class would have gained. Determine spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.
If the true theurge had more than one spelclasting class before he entered this prestige class, he must decide to which class to add each level of true theurge for the purpose of determining spells per day.

True Power: At 1st level, a true theurge selects a single base class with spellcasting that they have belonged to in the past. You add your true theurge class level to your effective class level in that class for the purpose of determining your caster level, spells per day, and spells known (if applicable). This ability canít raise your effective level in the selected class or the sum of all caster levels you possess from all classes above your HD (before applying any bonuses or penalties to caster level from spells, abilities, afflictions, and/or magic items) and this ability has no effect if you already possess a sum above these amounts.
All of this extra power, however, possesses a rather high cost. For the purpose of bonus spells per day for your chosen class, reduce your key ability score by twice your class level.

Design Notes: Important

What does this class do?Right now, some of you may be wondering exactly what this class is good for. Despite having extra caster levels, it doesn't give you early qualification for anything. It doesn't get along well with combinations of casting classes, doesn't stack with effects like the Greater Draconic Rite of Passage, and you can't even use negative levels or situational CL penalties to trick the class into nudging you over your expected maximum.

That said, this class serves a single, rather important job. While a prepared caster can normally get away with 3 non-caster levels and still gain 9th level spells, this class increases that number to 5.

As such, it is now possible to get a more significant taste of a secondary base class, take a short noncaster PrC such as the master of the unseen hand or cabinet trickster, or to complete a half-casting PrC like the mindbender and still end up with 9th level spells.

This is an incredibly powerful class from a maximizer's perspective (as intended) but doesn't seem to fit into the realms of high inherent power like the Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil or Abjurant Champion nor into the realm of the simply broken like the Planar Shepherd or Hulking Hurler. This thing allows for a large amount of possibilities that weren't capable before but the it seems unlikely from what I can see that such a capability is "over"powered or broken as opposed to merely being powerful (if you believe to the contrary, I'm looking to you guys for some possible overpowered builds rather than simply asserting that the class is overpowered).

Why this class isn't so good that it would be automatically taken by all casters: As displayed above, this class gives the gift of broadness to spellcasters (a group of classes renowned for being far too broad). The most obvious argument for this class being overpowered would be that there is absolutely no reason not to use it and that using this class means that every spellcaster wanting optimization suddenly "has" to use it. After all, a spellcaster doesn't really get much of note after gaining 9th level spells. That said, there are at least 4 reasons I can think of that this wouldn't be the case.

1. Unless you set up your build so that every single non-caster level comes at the end (levels 16-20), you are going to receive your 9th level spells later than usual. This means that early dips may come back to bite you later on and that half-casters like the mindbender will only grant you 9th level spells at level 19. While the advancement rate will still be better than if you hadn't used this class, a pure caster may be preferable to the hybrid.

2. This class doesn't work well when you have levels in more than one spellcasting class. If you, forever reason, want to possess levels in more than one, this class pretty much stops helping and is better substituted with a dual-advancement class.

3. With all of the interesting and flavorful options for casters out there, taking 4-5 levels with no real class features just so that you can take another class later on without being terrible may mean that you are actually losing out by comparison to, say, an Abjurer 3/Master Specialist 10/Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil 7, which has 5 more levels spent making itself more interesting rather than simply making itself possible.

4. There is a real price to be paid for the services that this class renders. If you just want your 2 "free" levels that can be spent on non-casting classes, that would require 4 class levels and your True Power class feature gives you an effective -8 penalty to your key ability score for the purpose of bonus spells per day (meaning that you lose one bonus spell per day of each spell level, a pretty big cost). Being a cost that normal casters don't have to put up with, some people may want to avoid the trouble. If this penalty isn't enough, my original draft robbed the player of all bonus spells per day. Would it be more appropriate to reinstate that limitation?

None of this evidence suggests that this isn't the best way available to deal with non-caster levels (in fact, this class was created specifically to be the best way) but the fact I'm trying to make is that not every single caster build is suddenly going to throw in 4-5 levels of this class and 2 levels of something else automatically (AKA: there are still valid reasons not to include the non-caster levels).

The Vestigial 5th levelJust to let you guys know that I am not blind or forgetful, I am well aware that there is no reason to ever take the fifth level of this class... ever. You already gain the full benefit of this class at 4th level and not even your BAB or saving throws increase at 5th level. That 5th level was included for strictly aesthetic purposes as I honestly can't think of a single 4-level PrC off of the top of my head.

On some level, it seems as though there should be some form of a capstone there. On the other hand, given the nature of this class, giving it anything else will likely be too much. If anybody has an idea for a possible capstone, feel free to suggest it.

SurlySeraph
2011-04-16, 09:09 PM
So True Power is like Practiced Spellcaster on crack, rather than like really having more caster levels than HD? Seems like this extends the Ardent's multiclassing goodness to other casters, though having to invest 4 levels is a balancing point. Hm.

I like how it reduces your bonus spells. That's a good way of moderating it.

I'm having trouble thinking of a capstone that wouldn't break it.


I'm looking to you guys for some possible overpowered builds rather than simply asserting that the class is overpowered

I accept this invitation, and shall return in a bit. Probably Ardent/ Ur-Priest/ Sublime Chord, though I may get distracted by how pretty Fochlucan Lyrist is and do that instead.

EDIT:
Fast-progression classes are a problem.
Whatever 5/ Ur-Priest 3/ True Theurge 4 casts 9th-level divine spells at 12th level.
Whatever 7/ Sublime Chord 3/ True Theurge 4 casts 9th-level arcane spells at 14th level.

The earliest double nines build I've managed so far gets 9s from Ur-Priest at 16th level and Sublime Chord at 17th level, which isn't a big problem. At least, not compared to single 9s at 12th level.

Also, here's a triple nines build.

Human, with 2 flaws
1 Wizard, Heighten Spell, Sanctum Spell, Earth Sense, Iron Will
2 Ardent
3 Ardent, Spell Focus (evil)
4 Ardent
5 Monk
6 Ur-Priest, Earth Spell
7 Bard
8 Sublime Chord (Sanctum + Earth Spell allows effective 3rd-level spells with Wiz 1)
9 Cerebremancer, Practiced Manifester
10 Cerebremancer
11 Cerebremancer
12 Cerebremancer
13 Cerebremancer (Sublime Chord 6, Ardent 8)
14 Psychic Theurge
15 Psychic Theurge (Ur-Priest 3, Ardent 10)
16 Mystic Theurge
17 Mystic Theurge
18 Mystic Theurge (Ur-Priest 6, Sublime Chord 9)
19 True Theurge
20 True Theurge (Ur-Priest 9)

Add +4 Ardent ML due to Practiced Spellcaster, and he can Overchannel for +3 ML, bringing him to 17th level. And he casts as a Sublime Chord 9, Ur-Priest 9. So, triple nines.

Epsilon Rose
2011-04-17, 12:12 AM
I was going to suggest maybe making it a 3 level prc, but after that...
Yeah, probably not a good idea.

gorfnab
2011-04-17, 12:22 AM
Whatever 7/ Sublime Chord 3/ True Theurge 4 casts 9th-level arcane spells at 14th level.

Sublime Chord has prereqs of 13 ranks in Listen and 13 ranks in Knowledge Arcana. How are you meeting the skill prereqs of Sublime Chord before 10th level? Same question on your build in the spoiler tag.

Mulletmanalive
2011-04-17, 05:23 AM
Plus, the build in the spoiler has spellcasting from more than one source, which the True Theurge explicitly screws with...

I am intrigued by the method you used to ignore the prerequisites though...

Veyr
2011-04-17, 09:49 AM
See, this makes sense. A Practiced Spellcaster-like effect is a good idea.

I think you went a little overboard with your non-stacking rules; I'm not sure if those will ever come into play anyway (no other class grants bonus "levels" like this), plus I'm worried the wording there might prevent something.

But your statement about getting 9s late is wrong I think? A Wizard 3/Fighter 2/True Theurge 4 casts as a 9th level Wizard, that is to say, he's getting 4th (and higher, assuming he doesn't lose any more spellcasting levels) exactly on schedule.

There aren't many, but this class might be a bit stronger than you'd like with those few classes that are actually worth their lost spellcasting level. Maybe. That bonus spell penalty hurts.

SurlySeraph
2011-04-17, 11:39 AM
Sublime Chord has prereqs of 13 ranks in Listen and 13 ranks in Knowledge Arcana. How are you meeting the skill prereqs of Sublime Chord before 10th level? Same question on your build in the spoiler tag.

By reading a source that said its requirements were 10 ranks each. Back to the drawing board on triple nines, then.

My point that this combines really unfortunately with fast-progression classes stands, though.

Prime32
2011-04-17, 12:18 PM
Maybe make lv5 advance casting, and give +1 CL/DC to all spells?


My point that this combines really unfortunately with fast-progression classes stands, though.A rough houserule for those:
Fast-progression classes effectively have 2 levels of casting for every level in the class. Ur-priest 10 +6 PrC advancement = Ur-priest 13. If this would result in half-levels, you gain the increased CL of another level but nothing else.
Half-casting classes (eg. paladin) effectively have half a level of casting for every level in the class. Paladin 10 +6 PrC advancement = Paladin 22.
Classes that max out at 6th level spells get 1.5 levels. Duskblade 10 +6 PrC advancement = Duskblade 19.

Realms of Chaos
2011-04-17, 01:18 PM
Sooo... the class has is having troubles with the Ur-Priest and Acolyte of Peace (AKA the 9th level spells at level 14 club) and the Divine Crusader?

Okay, true power can now only advance the spellcasting of base classes. While this makes it slightly less powerful for certain advanced strategies, I honestly can't think of any spellcasting PrCs known for good spellcasting other than the fast-advancement classes (I honestly can't think of a possible scenario when someone would want to advance their blackguard, assassin, or diabolist level using this class, for example).

Any more problems?

Edit: Possible capstone in mind. Perhaps trading the remainder of your bonus spells for a +2 CL/DC bonus (perhaps also negate the first extra level of metamagic feats that you apply to each spell). :smallconfused:

flabort
2011-04-17, 06:23 PM
Glad to see my failures inspire someone else to take a whack at this.

While I've seen people repeatedly tell me why this concept doesn't work, this has my blessing. I've given up on it, so I guess that makes it fair game for anyone to try their hand at a X>Y PrC.

If you can make this work, congratulations.