Digression--It's Mine, You Can't Have It! Or, Keeping Your Spellbook Safe
Without your spellbook, once you run out of spells for the day, you're just a commoner with a good will save and some magic items. In most games, this never comes up. In some, it does; if you know it will, take precautions, and, hell, you may want to take them anyway. There are two parts to this: the first is trapping your spellbook. The magic trap rules are, as mentioned, in the DMG; I had this idea for a recent character I made. At higher levels, you need tree traps: link them all to command words that must be spoken before the book is touched (or one command word for all three). The first is a Teleport
trap, that will teleport the spellbook to your home, a friend of yours, or a temple of Mystra/Boccob/whoever you have an account with. This means that while you may not have your book, no one else does, either.
The second is some kind of punishment for the fool who dared to mess with your stuff. I like Curse of the Putrid Husk
from the BoVD for this: make them think their flesh is falling off in pieces! Of course, generally, something more lethal and with less [Evil] descriptor is better. Try Insanity
, Finger of Death
, or better yet, Geas
: Find the Wizard Whose Spellbook You Tried To Steal, Confess to Him, and Go On a Quest He Assigns You. The third is Arcane Mark, to put your mark on the bugger.
The second part is Spell Mastery (include Teleport), and/or always having one Teleport in reserve. This is so you can Teleport back to wherever your book went and pick it up.You're Special All Right--Short Bus Special!
Wizards have the option of specialization
--they can give up two schools of magic entirely for an extra spell per day of each level. While that sounds like a pretty raw deal, high-level spell slots are valuable.
If the Complete Arcane, and especially the Spell Compendium, is in, then you should be a Diviner. If not, you should be a Transmuter or Conjurer. Why? Well, because transmutation and conjuration are the biggest school, containing at least one useful spell at every level--and because diviners only have to give up one school, and get enough useful spells with the Complete Arcane to make Divinerhood worthwhile.
Here's an overview of the schools:
Abjuration: a lot of useful protections, and *dispel magic*. Can't give this one up.
Conjuration: Conjuration has, well, everything. Battlefield control, damage (with the Complete Arcane's Orb Of spells), the vital Teleport and Dimension Door, a bunch of utility...
Divination... you're not allowed to give up divination, and you'd be a fool to do so anyway.
Enchantment: enchantment has a bunch of nice save-or-lose spells, but between Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation, you have plenty of those anyway. Enchantment is a viable choice of banned school. Enchantment has a number of good spells, though, which are a pain to lose--Dominate and Charm, the Stern Reproof/Wrathful Castigation spells (save-or-loses with two saves per spell!), Freezing Glare (Frostburn), et cetera... however, it's nothing you can't make up for. Except Irresistible Dance, losing that sucks.
Evocation: Evocation is mostly direct damage, which makes it the sucky school. Important spells are Contingency
and Wind Wall
, which you can get through Greater Shadow Evocation and Shadow Evocation respectively. There are useful evocations, but not enough to make it anything but the best choice of banned school.
Illusion: lose it and you lose Invisibility and Greater Invisibility. Plus, the Image spells are versatile if you have a good imagination, the Shadow Evocation spells compensate if you banned Evocation, Illusory Pit from Comp. Arcane is brilliant, Mirror Image is a great defensive spell... you can certainly give up illusion, but it'll hurt a bit.
Necromancy: Ray of Enfeeblement, Spectral Hand, False Life, Ray of Exhaustion, Enervation and Fear, Finger of Death, Clone, Wail of the Banshee... metamagicked Enervation in particular is a good tactic at higher levels. You can give this up, but it really hurts.
Transmutation: too many spells to give up, period. Specialize in this, don't lose it.
So, the three main candidates for being dropped are Evocation, Enchantment, and Illusion. You can't drop both Evocation and Illusion (no way of getting Contingency then) unless you have access to Craft Contingent Spell, and dropping both Enchantment and Illusion means that you have a lack of will-save-or-lose spells. That makes Evocation and Enchantment the natural choices for dropping if you have to drop two. Being a diviner means that you only have to drop one, so make it either Evocation or Illusion--probably evocation, since the only real reasons to take it (Contingency, Wind wall) are availible via illusion spells, albeit a bit later. Your focus has an effect--evocation has a little battlefield control, so a battlefield control wizard should dump enchantment, while a save-or-suck/lose/die focused wizard should drop evocation.
Thus, one should either be a Diviner who bans evocation or enchantment, or a Transmuter or Conjurer who bans evocation and enchantment.Wonderful Unique Snowflake or Not? Specialization, Generalization, and Alternatives
So: specialize, or generalize? With Divination as a speciality (excellent with the Complete Arcane spells--and without the Complete Arcane, losing Enchantment or Illusion hurts a lot less) you only lose one school, that you wouldn't use often, and you gain a bonus spell slot. I like to specialize, but it's not inherently superior. There is something to be said about keeping all your options open.
However, if you're not going to specialize, Races of the Wild offers racial substitution levels for elven wizards. The first level is sort of a "generality specialist"--you lose the ability to specialize (which you weren't doing anyway if you're taking the racial sub level), and gain a bonus slot of your highest spell level (that moves around when you gain new spell levels), and learn an extra spell on each level-up. That's definitely an option competitive with Divination specialization.Mommy, Why Amn't I Like All the Other Children?
While we're on the subject of specialization, it should be noted that the PHB II gives specialist wizards the option of trading in their familiar for an Immediate Magic ability--a special ability they can use INT bonus/day.
Abjurers', Diviners', Necromancers', Transmuters' and Illusionists' immediate magic
variants are all viable, especially at low levels--not necessarily better than a familiar if you use it to scout and etc. a lot, but most of the time, more useful and powerful. They don't however, scale with level. Abjurers' "urgent shield" becomes old hat once you can actually cast Shield; Transmuters' "sudden shift" becomes weak as soon as you actually acquire a method of flight; Diviners' save bonus matters less at higher levels, Illusionsts' is outdone by actual Mirror Image (and definitely the immediate-action-casting Greater Mirror Image spell from the PHB II, which you're using if you're using these variants). Necromancy's Cursed Glance is very nice, but it allows a will save, and the DC is based on your wizard level
. If you're a pure wizard, it's good; if you prestige class, it'll start sucking in short order.
Enchanters' "Instant Daze" is nice enough for a couple of levels, but not only is there a will save, but it can only affect your wizard level in HD! The higher level you get, the more HD monsters have compared to you, and both the DC and the HD are based on the wizard level--useless if you're going to prestige, which you should.
Evokers' "counterfire" is utterly terrible.
Basically, if you're a specialist, and you're going to be playing at lower levels, take the Immediate Magic variant unless you're an Abjurer, Enchanter or an Evoker. At higher levels, none of them are really viable.
Except the Conjurers' "abrupt jaunt". That one's broken, and gobs and oodles better than the rest. If your DM is letting you take it, make sure he understands the exact implications--namely, you being aple to *poof* away from attacks INT bonus times/day, avoiding full attacks entirely.
If you're going to have a prestige class, then the Enchanters' and Necromancers' wizard-level-dependent abilities become more and more useless; if you're going to reach level 11 (or start there or higher), Imbue Familiar With Spell Ability is too good to pass up; keep the familiar. For the first couple of levels, however, any and all of these abilities are good. Even the evoker's.I'm The Best There Is At What I Do, Bub
A wizard has a huge array of spells availible and ways to combine them with metamagic--and with other spells.
Some of these combinations work better than others. Some spell and metamagic combinations are better than others. I present to you, gentle reader, some humble example of magic and metamagic used to their fullest, as well as explanations of what to look for.Insight Into the Working of Things:
-Sculpt Spell: this lets you modify the shape of your area spells. Therefore, it's best useful for spells whose power is limited by their area--for example, Color Spray. It's a cone, and its range is 15'. This means that we can turn it into four 10' cubes, none more than 15' away, rather than a 15' cone, and cover a lot more area--and pick which squares to cover (hint: the ones with enemies).
Glitterdust is a 10' burst; changing that to a 20' ball will make it catch more enemies. Look for spells with limited areas, or who are limited by their shape (i.e. cone, line).
-Empower Spell: as mentioned before, Empower is best with small dice. d4 spells good, d12 spells, Maximize or Repeat will do better.
-Quicken Spell: get two spells a round off. Use it, of course, on important lower-level spells, including for combos that would be harder to pull off if the target got to move between spells.
-Split Ray: this spell isn't as good with spells that already produce multiple rays (such as Scorching Ray), or with spells whose effects don't stack with themselves (such as Ray of Enfeeblement). For single-ray spells, though, it's like a cheaper Twin Spell; it works especially well with spells with cumulative effects--for example, Ray of Exhaustion (even if they make both saves, they're Exhausted).
-Chain Spell: this spell has a lot of mitigating factors for its benefits: namely, damage spells do half damage to chained targets *and* grant a reflex save for *another* half, plus spells with saving throws are at -4 DC to chained targets.
Therefore, you should Chain spells that don't do damage and don't have saving throws (or whose saving throws are very high, or who have effects even on successful saves). This way you avoid all the downsides of using the feat. Rays are great for this. Also, keep in mind that you can use it to buff! Ranged single-target buffs are perfect for this, and will now affect the entire party, not just one person. Good examples of spells to Chain: Fleshshiver from Player's Guide to Faerun (stun everyone, no save), Enervation.
What happens if you Chain a Magic Jar spell? Do you possess many bodies at once? Ask your DM!Clever Tricks:
-Sculpt Spell + Color Spray or Grease: both of these benefit from having their area change, and are thus able to affect more targets.
-Sculpt spell + Sleep or Deep Slumber: affect only the targets you want (10' cubes)! that way, there are no "wasted" HD.
-Sculpt Spell + Antimagic Field: lets you turn the AMF into four ten-foot cubes. In front of you. You have an AMF wall, and you're not in the area of the cubes, so you can cast just fine.
-Sculpt Spell + Fear: round area bursts are better for affecting many enemies than cones. Make it a 20' ball.
-Sculpt Spell + Forcecage: make your forcecage a 10' barred cage or a 20' solid wall.
-Sculpt Spell + Black Tentacles: get your enemies but not your allies via the 10' cubes!
-Reach Spell or Arcane Reach + Chain Spell: suddenly, you can cast Touch: spells on your whole party at once. It's a whopping +5 total level adjustment, but only +3 for the regular chain with the Archmage's Arcane Reach ability. Combine with such common buffs as Greater Magic Weapon (everyone's weapons at once), Magic Circle Against, Heroism/Greater Heroism (who needs a bard? The archmage can give everyone their +4 AB/damage as one of his 9th level spells, and still have others), Greater Invisibility ("Greater Invisibility Sphere"... but better), Stoneskin (do everybody for the price of one).
-This also lets you turn Touch spells (usually, no-save) into ranged touches that will leap to everyone within 30', which can be used offensively. Shivering Touch becomes even scarier.
-Reach (Arcane Reach or Reach Spell) + Chain Spell + Identify! For a 4th or 6th level slot, depending on method, you can identify (Caster Level) items at once--all for the same 100 gp!
-Chain Spell + Split Ray: For +5 levels, a ray will affect everyone within 30' of a primary target... twice. Consider Enervation. Normally, 1d4 negative levels. Split Ray, 2d4. Chained split Ray--2d4 to everyone within range. 9th level, but compare to Energy Drain, which does 2d4 to a single target. You can also do this with Ray of Exhaustion: suddenly, everyone within range is Exhausted, getting -6 STR and -6 DEX. Add a Quickened (via rod or 8th level slot) Chain Ray of Enfeeblement first, and suddenly you're giving a 12-17 STR penalty/damage and 6 dex damage to everyone within 30' of the original target; that's enough to drop anything that doesn't have STR as a primary concern.
-Ray of Enfeeblement + Ray of Exhaustion: as implied above, a great combination. Ray of Enfeeblement can't drop someone's STR below 1... but Ray of Exhaustion's STR damage on top of that can.
-Chained Split Ray Enervation + Chained spell WITH a save--the saving throw penalty from the Enervation will counter the DC drop from Chain Spell.
-Grease or Web (Quickened for best effect) + Solid or Acid Fog: this'll keep them in the fog for longer and make getting out of it harder.
-Chained Dispel Magic: Target someone... and all of their items. This shuts down all their magic gear for 1d4 rounds; at high levels, that's a lot like losing. "Whoops, where'd my +4 CON and +5 saves go? ACK A FINGER OF DEATH TO MY FACE." A Lesser Rod of Chain Spell is 27,500 gp.
-Dispel Magic + (Quickened) Shatter: destroy an item. Render it nonmagical, then Shatter it. Of course, that way you don't get the loot. A rod of Quicken Spell, Lesser removes the need for a higher-level slot.
A rod of Chain Spell, Lesser, lets you do this to ALL their items. It's Disjunction, but low-level!
-Quickened True Strike: Need to land that touch spell? This makes sure you do. Add Repeating to land another (or two more, if one's Quickened) the next round, but that's expensive in terms of modified spell level (8th).
-See Invisiblity + Glitterdust: See Invisibility lets you see invisible people.
Glitterdust makes sure the rest of your party can, too.Prestige Classes
The first rule of prestige classing out of Wizard is this: [bb]Thou Shalt Not Give Up Caster Levels[/b]. It's basic. Spellcasting--especially arcane spellcasting--is the most powerful thing in D&D. Therefore, losing any of it is bad. It can be worth it--but it very, very rarely is. Giving up a caster level delays your access to higher-level spells, delays getting more spell slots, and if you lose more than a couple of levels, you irreparably damage your high-level spellcasting.
The second rule of prestige classing out of Wizard is this: DO it
. You've literally got nothing except your familiar's progression to lose. Any prestige class ability is better than that.Core Prestige Classes:Archmage
: this is the staple prestige class of high-level wizards. Its 3.0 predecessor had Spell Power, so you could take Archmage 3, get Spell Power +1, +2, and +3, and wind up with a total of +6 to your spell DCs.
Those days are over. However, Archmage remains useful--if not, perhaps, for all five levels.
Qualifying for Archmage isn't totally easy, but it's not very difficult. Spell Focus isn't a bad feat, even if you might have to get Spell Focus in two schools rather than SF and Greater SF in one. Skill Focus: Spellcraft is a waste, but it's the price you pay for access to the class.
The Archmage gets a High Arcana ability each level. Some of these are good, some of these, well, aren't.
-Arcane Fire: Remember what I said about damage? Yeah. Skip it, unless you're an Arcane Trickster--more on that later.
-Arcane Reach: this is very good, and usually the first thing to take with Archmage. Why? Because it removes the need to place yourself in danger (or use Reach Spell, which gives a +2 spell level adjustment) to deliver touch spells, many of which are fantastic--say, Irresistible Dance. You can take this twice for 60' range, but once for 30' will be enough--unless you find yourself getting smacked around for coming within 30' a lot, too, which you probably won't.
-Mastery of Counterspelling: Counterspelling is for sorcerers with Improved Counterspell, Reactive Counterspell and Heighten Spell. Skip this.
-Mastery of Elements: elemental substitution is for blaster. If you're a high-quality wizard, you aren't a blaster. Skip this.
-Mastery of Shaping: this one's a good one. It does much the same thing as the Extraordinary Spell Aim feat, but without a Spellcraft check. Its uses range from "good" (making spaces in offensive AoE spells for your frontliners) to the "ridiculously good" (and therefore hanging offenses in some campaigns) use of casting Antimagic Field... and excluding yourself.
-Spell Power: it's a pale imitation of its 3.0 self, but it's still good. +1 caster level isn't something to sneeze at; as an item, it costs 30k (Orange Ioun Stone). A higher caster level means CL-dependent spells do more, spells last longer, and your spells are harder to dispel (you, on the other hand, have an easier time dispelling others' spells). At the low price of one fifth-level slot, that's a bargain.
-Spell-Like Ability: you can get a spell as a 2/day SLA for a 5th-level slot and an Nth level slot, where N is the level of your spell--or more often, by giving up higher level spell slots. Unlike with regular SLAs, the XP cost of the spell doesn't disappear. This can be all right if you know you'll always want to have access to a certain spell--Teleport, say. Giving up 2 5th level slots for Teleport as an SLA 2/day is just like always preparing two Teleports--except that you'll always have them, no matter what. This is more advantageous with higher-level spells (i.e. preparing Time Stop as a 2/day SLA can actually be a good idea, because you get 2 Time Stops for a 9th level slot and a 5th level slot, not 2 9th level slots).Arcane Trickster
: this one's for rogue/wizards. If you're *determined* to be a rogue/wizard... play a Beguiler (PHB II). If you're determined to actually be a rogue/wizard, with Sneak Attack, be a Rogue/Wizard/Arcane Trickster/Archmage. Take Arcane Fire as a High Arcana and as many Archmage levels as you can fit in after Trickster. Why? Because Arcane Fire lets you turn spells into damage rays. An Archmage 4 can turn a first-level spell into a 5d6 ray. You can sneak attack with those rays and get extra damage. "Arcane Trickster" is a different kind of character than "wizard as primary arcanist", though, so enough said about this class.Eldritch Knight
: You lose a spell level and gain a bonus feat, a d6 HD, and full BAB. Sweet deal, right? Sort of. You need to spend a level on Fighter to qualify. A Fighter1/Wizard9/EK 10 has 14 BAB compared to a Wizard 20's 10, which means one more iterative attack, and a few more hit points... in exchange for a loss of two caster levels. Not worth it.
You can use the Militia feat from some Forgotten Realms book (proficiency with martial weapons) or the Otherworldly regional feat from Player's Guide to Faerun (makes you a native outsider--and all outsiders are proficient with all martial weapons) to qualify for EK without wasting a fighter level. A Wizard 10/Eldritch Knight 10 with that feat spends a feat on Otherworldly (which has the cheesy advantage of letting you Alter Self and Polymorph into outsiders) or Militia, gains a fighter bonus feat from EK, and has 5 BAB and a little more HP on a Wizard 20, at the loss of a caster level.
Which, sadly, isn't really worth it, as it won't help you much in your role as primary arcanist
Eldritch Knight IS useful for "gish", warrior/spellcaster hybrid builds, but those play a somewhat different role and, really, aren't as good--but they can be a whole lot of fun. Fighter 1/Wizard 6/Spellsword 1/Eldritch Knight 10/Archmage 2 is actually a relatively simple "gish" build; complicated ones look more like Paladin 2/Bard 7/Eldritch Knight 1/Sublime Chord 2/EK +3/Sacred Exorcist 4/EK +6. In any case, this isn't about spellswords, it's about wizards. So, moving on.Loremaster
: at first glance, Loremaster is really kind of mediocre--and compared to powerhouse prestige classes like Archmage, Incantatrix, Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil, well... it is.
Really, though, it's a full caster prestige class. You have nothing but familiar advancement to lose.
Qualifying for Loremaster looks difficult at first, but really, it requires 10 ranks in any two knowledge skills (which you should have anyway), any three metamagic or item creation feats (which you should have anyway), and Skill Focus: any one Knowledge, which, well, okay, that's a waste--but Loremaster gives you a bonus feat later which makes up for it and can even be better than just taking a feat instead of Skill Focus. You also need to be able to cast seven Divinations, one of 3rd level or higher--which you maybe should have, but may well not. Of course, scribing a few extra spells isn't much of a price for PrC entry.
Entering Loremaster gets you access to a bunch of class skills, more skill points per level, a Secret every odd level (five in all), two bonus languages, Bardic Lore, free Identifying, and free Legend Lore or Analyze Dweomer 1/day. The five best secrets are the ones that boost your saving throws, one of the bonus spells, and, of course, the Bonus Feat. The Bonus Feat means that your Skill Focus turns into any feat you wanted in its place--and, in fact, you can take some feats now you couldn't have qualified for when you took Skill Focus (such as a higher-level Craft feat), which makes this a delayed feat. Add up all those minor goodies, and they're not half bad. I'd take Wizard10/Loremaster 10 over Wizard 20 any day.Red Wizard
: in 3.0, Red Wizard was ridiculously good. +5 DC in your specialization school over 10 levels, AND Circle Magic cheese (use Leadership to get spellcasting followers, have them sacrifice spell slots to boots your spells, get RIDICULOUS caster levels and DCs)? Add Archmage 3 with Spell Power 1, 2, and 3, and you have +11 DC by level 20, which means that DC 40+ spells are commonplace for you. Here's a D&D, you win it.
Now... well, now it gets Spell Power, which means increased caster level, which means it's still really good. Of course, you have to be a specialist to be a Red Wizard, and then you lose *another* school... which means that if you're not a Diviner, you lose three schools
. That's absolutely intolerable as a primary arcanist. Of course, a Diviner Red Wizard winds up losing two schools, like a normal specialist... but gets Spell Power +5. Plus, Circle Magic.
Of course, you have to be a Red Wizard of Thay. Some people consider that a bit of a downside.Mystic Theurge
Don't take it. No, really. If you get the urge to take it, go play a Cleric 3/Wizard 3/Mystic Theurge 1 for a while, in a party with a Wizard 7 and a Cleric 7.
Then cry.Complete Series Prestige ClassesArgent Savant
: sure, it's not *bad*... except that you give up a caster level. The perks really aren't worth it.Blood Magus
: stylish, but not very good.Effigy Master
: If you want a big hulking thing to defend you in combat, this is the way to go. Build yourself one. There's a caster level loss, so consider whether you want the big hulking thing, or more and higher-level spells sooner.Elemental Savant
: Blaster prestige class, loses two caster levels, yeah... pass this one up.Enlightened Fist
: if you MUST be a monk/wizard, this is the way to go. Snag the Carmendine Monk feat to use INT for your monk abilities, and remember how fragile you are.Fatespinner
: this one's good. Really good. At the low, low cost of 5 ranks in Profession(gambler), you gain your Fatespinner level in "spin points", which you can add to spell DCs one at a time or all together--later, you get to automatically stabilize, make yourself remake a save, make friends or enemies remake saves... and the first four out of five levels don't lose a caster level. The fifth one DOES, but it lets you give an enemy with HD equal to or less than yours -10 to a save once a day... which is possibly worth it, since it can mean a guaranteed kill. The first 4 out of 5 levels are a no-brainer; any wizard would do well to take them. The fifth one--think carefully, but it can be worth it. Due to the HD limitation, it usually isn't--but it can be.Geometer
: You lose no caster levels and qualify easily. Why not take this? If nothing else, the Book of Geometry saves you a little cash... or would, except that buying a Blessed Book is a great ideGreen Star Adept
: Lose five caster levels. And your CON score. And pay for the priviledge.
No, thank you.Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil
: How on earth does this not lose caster levels? This is the "don't die, ever" PrC. And the only thing you lose is having to take the feats that qualify you for it.
Take it ASAP... if it's not too high-powered for your game. Which, let's face it, it probably is.Mage of the Arcane Order
: this one's not as good as the Initiate, but still very nice. You have to get Cooperative Spell to qualify, and it sucks... but you get free metamagic feats from the class, which more than make up for it, and you gain a lot of versatility thanks to the Spellpool. It's also a good source of plot hooks for your DM.Master Transmogrifist
: this relies on Polymorph. Polymorph is broken. Don't use Polymorph and, therefore, don't take this class. Besides, some exceptional cheese aside, losing four caster levels is too much.Mindbender
: half caster level progression? No thanks! The first level make a great dip for any non-evil cater who can afford the skills it takes to qualify. 100' Telepathy FTW.Wayfarer Guide
: There's no reason not to take the first level if it can fit into your character concept (which is easy--"hey, I'll join the guild, learn their techniques, and not stay if I don't like it there; why not?"). The second loses a caster level, so don't take it. Simple, huh?Wild Mage
: Uh, no.Your allies will hate Random Deflector... and control is GOOD. Wizards are all about control. Minimize randomness, don't maximize it.Divine Oracle
: The picture of this guy in the Complete Divine is hilarious. Seriously, what the hell is up with his pants? Those are so much worse than the Archmage's stylish rainbow cloak. Did he look into the future and foresee the coming of our Chaos Gnome overlords or something? Anyway--this requires investing Knowledge: Religion ranks and wasting a feat on Skill Focus, but it gives some solid nice perks over 10 levels, such as uncanny dodge and immunity to surprise. When you're a wizard, immunity to surprise keeps you alive, since people try to use surprise to kill you. Plus, you get a domain power and can cast each domain spell once/day in your regular slots... oh, and Evasion. Evasion is good. If you can afford the Skill Focus feat and Know(Religion) ranks, no reason not to take this for a divination-themed character.Geomancer
: See Mystic Theurge.Rainbow Servant
: It's stylish... and it loses four caster levels. Of course, it gives you access to all cleric spells. With four lost caster levels, you may even be better off as a Mystic Theurge.Sacred Exorcist
: whoa! This requires being affiliated with a church and knowing Dispel Evil or Dismissal (decent spells anyway)... and then grants you a d8 HD, 3/4 BAB, Turn Undead, and some other goodies, with no lost caster levels. If you have a churchy wizard, take this *now*. Unless you're taking Initiate of the Sevenfold Cheese. Take that over this.Void Disciple
: Blah blah lost caster levels blah blah don't take it. Same old.Daggerspell Mage
: if you're going that route, better off with an Arcane Trickster/Archmage.Virtuoso
: Lose a caster level, and the bardic music-like abilities it gives really aren't that good. Meh, pass it up.Bladesinger
: Wow, half caster levels. How... interesting. Pass. Even for a fighter/mage type.Master of the Unseen Hand
: Wow, NO caster levels. Pass
: If you're a fighter/mage type, a one level dip is great. A three level dip can be good. More and you're losing too many caster levels.Player's Guide to Faerun Prestige ClassesArcane Devotee
: better, like almost all full-caster-level PrCs, than going straight Wizard.Harper Agent
: a mini-Bardic Knowledge and some saving throw boosts aren't worth a lost caster level.Hathran
: Full casting, but very, very specific flavor-wise. If your character is a Witch of Rashemen, go the heck for it. Circle Magic cheese included.Incantatrix
: The classic uber PrC of 3.5--Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil has defense, this has offense and general utility. Not one, not two, not three--four totally overpowered abilities: Metamagic Effect, Cooperative Metamagic, Metamagic Spell Trigger, and Practical Metamagic. And another fistful of non-broken but *good* abilities on top of that. Get an item that boosts your Spellcraft checks (make one yourself) and you're in wizard heaven.Shadow Adept
: Not half bad in practice, mechanically, but in-game, serving Shar? Bad, bad idea.Spellguard of Silverymoon
: Very nice, but flavor-specific. Unless your campaign is focused on Silverymoon, or your DM lets you apply it to whatever city it DOES focus on, this class doesn't really work.Eberron PrC
- by The_Demented_OneAlchemist Savant
Mmm...full caster level progression. This potion-themed PrC lets you brew potions faster, create spellvials, the offensive cousins of potions, and create universal potions, which let you add a spell to them on demand without having to use up a spell slot. Nothing amazingly power, but useful abilities and full caster progression make this a good choice for those with an eye towards crafting.Cataclysm Mage
This odd little PrC gives you caster level advancement at every level but the first, along with a fairly bizarre mishmash of abilities, culminating in the ability to manifest dragonmarks with no regard to normal restrictions. It’s got enough caster levels to be worth taking, but has no abilities that stand out as being very powerful.Dragon Prophet
Like the Cataclysm Mage, this gives you 9/10 caster level progression, and a mishmash of dragon-related abilities. There are a few neat abilities, notably the immortality gained at 10th level, but nothing terribly nice. Like Cataclysm Mage, taking it won’t hurt you, but it won’t help you terribly much.
--Ninja Note: some prophecy abilities aren't bad; good constellation powers are Lendys, Garyx, Tamara, Tiamat, Bahamut, Aasterinian. Plus, you get bonus Dragon Prophecier feats--Prophecy's Artifex lets you use wands and staffs as a swift action, which is nice. Prophecy's Shaper lets you Empower spells for free. Overall, if you really know what you're doing, this class can be worth it. Plus, it's got cool factor.Heir of Syberis
This 3-level PrC advances your caster level at all levels but the first, gives you some extra action points, and gives you a Mark of Syberis, essentially a dragonmark on crack that lets you use a seventh level or higher spell. Depending on the mark you choose, you can get a nice, high-level spell not on the wizard list, like Mass Heal or Storm of Vengeance. Useful if you use it to get a spell you normally couldn’t, but you’d otherwise probably be best just casting it normally.
--Ninja Note: this is better for fighter types than for mages, but getting Mass Heal twice/day, if you're a halfling of House Jorasco? I might turn that down, but I'd hesitate. It's a powerful three-level PrC overall.High Elemental Binder
This neat PrC costs you only one caster level, in exchange for the services of a bevy of elementals. The neatest ability, though, is that you can bind them into items to increase their power. Problem is, though, that only you can use the resulting items, and you’d be much better off casting spells. If you want to take this one, go in as an Artificer, not a Wizard.Impure Prince
This quirky PrC causes you to take on the traits of an aberration, to the tune of two lost caster levels. Though meant for rangers and druids, a wizard can benefit from it–but not much. You get a few spells added to your class list, the ability to gain a symbiont, and partial immunity to critical hits. Unless you want to play a wizard with a grudge against aberrations, this is going to be of no use to you.Knight Phantom
A pretty run of the mill gish class. Caster level advancement at every level but first, d8 HD, full base attack bonus, spellcasting in light armor, and some phantom-themed abilities. However, you have to take a fighter level to qualify, which, combined with the lost caster level as 1st, will set you back a spell level. I’d take it over the fairly generic Eldritch Knight in a gish build, as detailed earlier on by The Logic Ninja, but not for anything else.
--Ninja Note: at first glance, this looks pretty much completely superior to Eldritch Knight... but you lose a bonus feat, and have to *waste* a feat on Still Spell. Two feats vs. a higher HD and spellcasting in light armor. Me, I'd go with the feats, but if you don't need them, Phantom Knight is better.Recaster
This one’s good for those changeling wizards out there. You give up one caster level in exchange for access to spells from other class lists, bonus Sudden Metamagic feats and the ability to alter your spells on the fly–taking away components, changing areas, and such. If you’re playing a changeling wizard, there is no reason not to take this.
--Ninja Note: This class is awesome. If you're a changeling wizard, *take* it. Get Heal as a fifth-level spell from the Adept list, for example. Plus altering your spells on the fly--basically a free Sculpt Spell feat, among other goodies. One of the few concrete counterexamples to the "don't lose caster levels" rule.Renegade Mastermaker
This PrC turns you into a warforged, leaving two caster levels by the wayside. While it’s the closest you’ll be getting to Edward Elric in D&D, it isn’t too useful for a wizard–far too many of the abilities are useful only to characters planning on going into melee, like the battlefist and damage reduction. If you want to play a warforged wizard, just play a warforged wizard–not this.Sharn Skymage
This 5-level PrC will cost you three caster levels. In exchange, you become better at flying with magic. Useless, useless, useless.
--Ninja Note: Sucks. So. HARD.Silver Pyromancer
This PrC advances your caster level at every level but 1st, but you have to take a level of cleric to qualify. In exchange, you get various enhancements to your fire-based spells. Remember what TLN said about damage spells? Leave this one by the wayside.Spellcarved Soldier
Ugh. While this warforged gish PrC requires you be able to cast spells, it gives no caster level advancement. Instead, it gives you a bevy of runes, which tend to have more use for a melee combatant than a caster. This isn’t for the party’s prime arcanist, though a fighter willing to take a level of artificer or warmage might get some benefit from it–but not much.Windwright Captain
This 5-level PrC gives you only half caster level advancement, which will put you a spell level behind other casters. However, what it lacks up in power, it makes up in coolness. You get your very own frickin’ airship, which you can control via telepathy. Essentially, you stop being Batman, in exchange for becoming the Uberpimp, the Pimp of Pimps.
--Ninja Note: of course, Batman could be a pimp if he wanted to. This prestige class is much better for, say, Bards than for wizards.