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Okay, I have this idea for a character (DnD, 3.5e) who has some innate magical talent, but simply fails in developing it intuitively, so he goes on to invest his intelligence in studying and learning wizardry.

This character should be a wizard (human, starting at level 4), but it would feel wrong if he wasn’t able to cast at least a couple of low-level spells spontaneously. This is more a role-playing thing.

What options do I have for giving my wizard the ability to cast some low-level spells (level 0, 1 and later maybe 2) spontaneously?

My previous idea was to simply make him a multiclass character, starting off as a sorcerer, but then focusing on becoming a wizard, but the -20% penaly on experience, as he wouldn’t develop his sorcerer nature, is a bit of a turnoff. Can I maybe counter this with a feat?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

XP Penalty

You can remove the multiclass XP penalty by playing a race with one of those as your favored class (like Elf), or as Human, where your class with the most levels just doesn't count no matter what it is. Human is pretty much always a good choice anyway.

And that's if your DM actually uses those rules. In my experience, quite a lot don't enforce those XP penalty rules.

Class Choice - Look at Beguiler

Sorcerer would work as a first class choice. Beguiler (Players Handbook II) would work even better, as it's also a spontaneous caster, only one whose key stat is Intelligence (same as the Wizard). This plays off a stat you already need and fits the idea of a "learned" character who also has innate ability.

Add Ultimate Magus as a Prestige Class

If you go Beguiler/Wizard or Sorceror/Wizard, you can then go into the Ultimate Magus (Complete Mage) prestige class, and boost spellcasting from both at the same time. One would go up faster than the other, but the class also lets you use spells from one to power metamagic from the other, and it can do some pretty neat things. See also What exactly are Prestige classes, and what purpose do they serve?

Instead of just taking the spontaneous spells as a one off thing, this lets you develop both of them as the character learns to blend his two types of magic together. It's a pretty neat (and powerful) concept.

This answer has some useful information on how to get the most out of Ultimate Magus.

Spontaneous Divination

Wizards can get the ability to cast any Divination spell spontaneously by trading their 5th level bonus feat for this ACF. It does what it says - you can trade any prepared spell you have to spontaneously cast any Divination spell you can cast of equal or lower level.

Other Option - Reserve Feats

If you don't want to multiclass but still want some spontaneous abilities, reserve feats are another option. These let you use some power so long as you have a spell "in reserve" that you don't cast. Examples are things like being able to do small flame strikes, shoot lightning, summon elementals, create force darts, or do some minor magic disruption. You can get that as early as level 3, and you can use them infinitely so long as you don't cast the reserved spell.

It's not as versatile as true spontaneous casting, but it also doesn't require multiclassing at all. So I felt it was wroth mentioning.

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There are several ways of getting spontaneous spellcasting for low-level Wizard via feats

  1. Several no-prereq feats from Complete Arcane, like Night Haunt, give you something like three 0-1 level spells 1/day each. They are pretty simple, and will allow you to cast cantrips without memorizing them (and giving a little bit extra of them as well)

  2. Alacritous Cogitation from Complete Mage - prereq is hilarious, pretty simple mechanic - leave 1 spell slot unmemorized, cast any spell of that, or lover levels from your spellbook. Insanely strong considering Wizard's colossal spellbook. The main problem is, it's only once/day

  3. Uncanny Forethought from Exemplars of Evil - has Spell Mastery and Int 17 for prereqs. Now this one is truly scary. Spell Mastery from PHB lets you to permamently memorize a number of spells up to your Int modifier and then prepare them without even touching your spellbook. Then, Uncanny Forethought allows you to leave the number of spell slots equal to your Int modifier and cast spontaneously any spell memorized by Spell Mastery from these slots. You may take the Spell Mastery feat several times, choosing different spells. It's scary what you can do with these two feats

By taking any of those options, you'll be able to cast spontaneously some cantrips (I suggest to be sure to take Prestidigitation and Ghost Sound as the most versatile and useful ones), without any dips. And 2nd and 3rd option will still be useful at later levels (the first one as it is, the second one - with some investment into Spell Mastery feats)

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If he's a human, you won't get any XP malus unless you triple-class (the highest level class for a human counts as preferred class, so it is ignored for the XP penalty purposes). At most you could consider a problem the sub-optimal build: very likely a full Wizard or full Sorcerer is always better than a Wizard/Sorcerer.

If 0-level spells would suffice (and why not, since it's a RP-only thing?), you could agree with the GM to either get some of the weaker ones for free, or to spend a (custom) talent to get them all for free. Or anything like that: it's the GM, part of his job is to accomodate to special situations like this one.

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I'd have serious questions about the idea of it being a sign of a "good GM" that they just grant more free stuff to what is already the strongest class in the game, just because the player wants it for RP reasons. – Tridus May 12 '14 at 15:24

While it requires two feats, you could use the Signature Spell feat from Player's Guide to Faerun. It requires the Spell Mastery feat as well, which is a pain, but Signature Spell allows you to convert any prepared spell of equal or higher level into the Signature Spell.

In theory, you can retrain that Signature Spell with feat retraining as you level up and get new, better spells, but you might get beat over the head by your GM for doing that ( and righteously so).

If you only want it for some 0th or 1st level spell, you might ask if you can bypass the Spell Mastery prerequisite for this, which is a bit less powerful than just being given the ability to cast a couple spells spontaneously.

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