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I'm planning on creating a prestige class based on the Arcane Hierophant. The Arcane Hierophant however is more wizard/druid bias and since I'm an Archivist I decided to create a variant with the Archivist in mind.

The problem: I can make the prestige class continue the advance of the Archivist's Dark Knowledge but I'm torn if I should add more class abilities. Is the continued advance of the Dark Knowledge enough? Or should I add more?

The BAB progression will follow the usual Mystic Theurge, same with the reflex, fortitude and will saves. The entry requirements would be two Knowledge skills (arcana and religion), ability to cast 2nd lvl spells (just like AH), and have Dark Knowledge as a class feature. it will have a d4 as its hit point gain, 4 + Int for its skill point gain. No alignment requirement and a +4 BAB to qualify. I'm still playing around some hypothetical abilities like the loremaster's secrets class feature.

It's the divine half I want to substitute with the archivist, so the druid part would be replaced by archivist.

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I'm moving, so I'm super-busy right now, but I have some really neat ideas for this; I hope you can give me a few days to toss my hat in the ring. –  KRyan Jul 2 at 15:01
hahaha no prob. i'm not due for the prestige for another two sessions (roughly next week). we have time :) –  othniel2005 Jul 2 at 15:04

3 Answers 3

This class is fairly powerful; it’s definitely an attempt to make a theurge actually keep up with the power of the (very powerful) expected entry classes. In particular, Perfect Inscription is quite dubious; it could potentially step on the toes of much-weaker classes, though I believe the increase in spell level will prevent that most of the time.

I’m going to include a few author’s notes/comments in the middle of this, by dropping out of the quote box. If they’re getting in your way, you can use the Edit History to see the version of this before I added them.

Artifex Goetia

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is magic, and ritual, and prayer, and power. As an artifex goetia, you have that fundamental knowledge: power is power. Form is of little concern, so long as you can command it. You’ll study dark grimoires, tomes of forbidden magic, artifacts locked away, deemed too dangerous for mortal minds. You’ll call upon the ancient ones, gods of mystery and eternity, and through the rites that bind and the lines that find, you will have them to do your bidding.

You may lay this power at the feet of your own divine patron, or claim it for yourself. The deeds wrought with this power may be great and they may be terrible. But all will be written down in your book, bound within its pages, to be read out and called upon at your need.

The fluff is pretty simple and straightforward, with a slight reference to Order of the Stick’s Xykon. It’s a little grimdark, but then the archivist is too, what with being from Heroes of Horror and having a class feature called Dark Knowledge. I explicitly and intentionally allowed the artifex to use these dark powers for the purposes of good, however.

By the way, the name is a reference to Ars Goetia, a section of The Lesser Key of Solomon, probably the most well-known occult book. It describes, or alleges to describe, how to summon and negotiate with 72 demons; these demons actually provided the names for the overwhelming majority of the vestiges from Tome of Magic, and Aleister Crowley’s edition provides the seals for all of the WotC-published vestiges (some of the online/Dragon vestiges use original seals).

Becoming an Artifex Goetia

To become an artifex goetia, you must be so adept at the arcane and sacred sigils that all magic can be reduced, for you, to diagrams and text, trapped inside a book.

  • Ability to cast 1st-level arcane spells from a spellbook.
  • Ability to cast 1st-level divine spells from a prayerbook.
  • Ability to cast 2nd-level spells.
  • Knowledge (arcana) 7 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 7 ranks.
  • Knowledge Devotion feat, Scribe Scroll feat

I was torn on requiring Knowledge Devotion (and thus the Dark Knowledge (devotion) feature, below), since it’s a somewhat annoying to have yet another requirement on an already-difficult entry, plus it makes the class dependent on Complete Champion. I may come back to this and add an adaptation that doesn’s require it, especially if requested.

Otherwise, this is following the cue of the ultimate magus in allowing entry with only 1 level on one side. Unlike the ultimate magus, in this case it can be either side. So archivist 3/wizard 1 or archivist 1/wizard 3 is the expected entry.

Class Features of an Artifex Goetia

│ Level │ BAB │ Fort │ Ref │ Will │ Special                        │ Spellcasting                                   │
│   1st │  +0 │   +0 │  +0 │   +2 │ Dark knowledge (devotion),     │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│       │     │      │     │      │ read magic, secret page        │                                                │
│   2nd │  +1 │   +0 │  +0 │   +3 │ Familiar book                  │ +1 level of lower-level spellcasting class     │
│   3rd │  +1 │   +1 │  +1 │   +3 │ Lore mastery                   │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   4th │  +2 │   +1 │  +1 │   +4 │                                │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   5th │  +2 │   +1 │  +2 │   +4 │ Incorruptible study            │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   6th │  +3 │   +2 │  +2 │   +5 │ Dark knowledge (vulnerability) │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   7th │  +3 │   +2 │  +2 │   +5 │                                │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   8th │  +4 │   +2 │  +2 │   +6 │ Bonus feat                     │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│   9th │  +4 │   +3 │  +3 │   +6 │                                │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │
│  10th │  +5 │   +3 │  +3 │   +7 │ Perfect inscription            │ +1 level of both existing spellcasting classes │

Weapon and Armor Proficiency – You gain no new proficiency in any weapons or armor.

Spellcasting – At each level except 2nd, your spellcasting improves as if you had gained a level in any class that casts arcane spells from a spellbook, and also gained a level in any class that casts divine spells from a prayerbook. Thus, your caster level and spells per day for these classes increase, and you may scribe any free spells that class would have gained. You do not, however, gain any other benefit that a level in either of these classes would have gained. If you have more than one class that casts arcane spells from a spellbook, or more than one class that casts divine spells from a prayerbook, you must choose one for each category.

At 2nd level, however, you gain these benefits from only one category, arcane or divine. If you can cast higher-level arcane spells than you can divine spells, your divine spellcasting improves as above. If you cast higher-level divine spells than arcane spells, your arcane spellcasting improves as above. If your highest spell levels are the same for both arcane and divine spellcasting, your spellcasting in the class with the lowest caster level improves as above. If the caster levels are equal too, then you may choose arcane or divine.

Again, another cue from the ultimate magus, on losing another level in-class. I made the rules for judging “lowest level” a harder to dodge, because I think this class is a bit more powerful than ultimate magus. I don’t lose more levels, though, because without the tricks that let you control which side ultimate magus advances, losing more levels would be very painful.

Dark Knowledge – Your class level stacks with archivist class levels for the purpose of the number of times per day you may use Dark Knowledge. If you have no archivist levels, simply use your class level for this purpose (i.e. 3/day + 1/day for every three class levels).

Devotion – You share your devotion to knowledge with an ally, allowing that ally to better understand their foes’ intentions. One ally gains your bonuses from Knowledge Devotion for the affected creatures for one round. If you succeed on the check by 10 or more, you may grant these bonuses to two allies, or you may grant them to one ally for two rounds. If you succeed on the check for 20 or more, you may grant the bonus to three allies, or to one ally for three rounds, or to one ally for two rounds and to two other allies for one round.

Vulnerability – You indicate the vulnerabilities of your foes, allowing your allies to ignore some of their defenses. Your allies within 60 ft. treat all saving throw DCs as being having a +1 bonus when affecting the identified creatures, and they ignore any damage reduction, regeneration, or spell resistance the target may have had (but not the spell immunity of, for example, golems). These benefits last for three rounds.

Read Magic Su – You are continuously under the effects of read magic, allowing you to always read magic spells.

Secret Page – You may prepare the secret page spell, as a 3rd-level spell, without needing to have it written down ahead of time. This works the same as a wizard preparing the read magic spell. You may do so with any class you have capable of preparing 3rd-level spells.

Familiar Book – Using magic similar to that which binds a familiar, you can craft special books similar to a prayerbook or spellbook. To do so, you need a spellbook or prayerbook, plus 6,000 gp worth of other materials. The process takes seven days, working eight hours a day, and requires the expenditure of a prepared secret page spell each day you work on the book. The seven days need not be consecutive. This is an item-creation process.

The familiar book becomes an intelligent item that actively protects the spells you have found and scribed within it. It contains any spells that the book you started with contained, and you can scribe arcane or divine spells within the familiar book. It counts as both a prayerbook and a spellbook for any effect that cares. See The Artifex Goetia’s Familiar Book, below, for more information.

You may create multiple familiar books, and you may create a familiar book even if you already have a familiar.

Lore Mastery Ex – At 3rd level, you gain a +2 bonus to Decipher Script checks and to the checks of any one Knowledge skill. These bonuses do not stack with any bonuses due to the Lore Mastery feature of other classes; instead, choose a new Knowledge skill to apply the bonus to.

Incorruptible Study – As a 5th-level artifex goetia, you are never trigger the effects of magic, curses, and so on that are triggered by reading. Thus, for example, you are immune to the effects of a glyph of warding, sepia snake sigil, or symbol of insanity. You do not trigger explosive runes, but if someone else does while you are within range, you are damaged by the blast. You furthermore are never corrupted, tainted, or driven mad by what you read or learn; knowledge can never hurt you.

Bonus Feat – At 8th level, you gain a bonus feat. This feat may be any one that an archivist or wizard could have chosen as a bonus feat.

Perfect Inscription – You may write down any sort of magic you come across, no matter how unusual, and then prepare it as a spell.

  • If the magic is a spell that you could normally scribe, you scribe it as normal and this class feature has no effect.

  • If the magic is a spell that you couldn’t normally scribe (including divine spells you could scribe as arcane or arcane spells you could scribe as divine), but is still arcane or divine in origin, you scribe it as an arcane or divine spell, as appropriate. If it is neither arcane nor divine, you can scribe it such that it may be prepared by either your arcane spellcasting class or your divine spellcasting class.

  • If the magic is not a spell, but is divided into levels like spells (e.g. infusions, maneuvers, mysteries, vestiges), you may treat it as a spell that is neither arcane nor divine.

  • The magic’s spell level, regardless of whether or not it is actually a spell, is its level for the class you are getting it from, plus 10 − the highest level of magic that class is capable of. Thus, a 3rd-level bard spell (assuming you are not a bard) would count as a 7th-level spell for you (bards have a maximum of 6th-level spells, so 10 − 6 is 4, plus 3 for a 3rd-level spell).

  • You use the caster level of the spellcasting class in whose spell slot you have prepared the magic as the level (meldshaping level, effective binder level, initiator level, etc.) used for the effect.

  • In all cases, there are two ways of scribing: from a source in which the spell has been transcribed, like a scroll, or from a practitioner who can use the magic in question, who must work with you during the scribing process. Many magics cannot be written down, however, leaving only the latter option.

  • Particular forms of magic have special rules, as follows:

    • Expanded Psionics Handbook

      • When you “cast” psionic powers from a spell slot higher than the minimum you need, it is augmented by 2 power points for every spell level higher than the minimum.
    • Tome of Magic

      • Vestige pacts prepared as spells may be “cast” by going through the usual pact-making process. They only last for 10 minutes per level once the ritual is complete, however, and you may have only one pact prepared at a time.

      • You do not ever treat mysteries as spell-like or supernatural abilities; you always cast them as spells.

      • You do not gain any free or bonus ranks in Truenaming, so most utterances are of minimal use to you unless you specifically take ranks in it.

    • Tome of Battle

      • Martial maneuvers you prepare are “cast” as if the prepared maneuver were a martial script of the maneuver. You may prepare multiple copies of the same maneuver, but you cannot activate it more than once in the same encounter.
    • Magic of Incarnum

      • When you prepare a soulmeld as a spell, you must choose which chakra it is prepared for. Merely preparing it causes it to occupy that chakra, just the same as if you had shaped (but not bound) a soulmeld there. This means you cannot prepare two soulmelds for the same chakra, though you may prepare multiple copies of the same soulmeld.
        • Casting the soulmeld causes it to be shaped to its chakra, granting its basic effect and allowing you to invest essentia in it, for 1 minute.
        • The soulmeld can be bound to its chakra for the same minute so long as it is cast from a spell slot of sufficient level, as follows: 2nd: Crown, 3rd: Hands or Feet, 5th: Arms, Brow, or Shoulders, 7th: Throat or Waist, 9th: Heart. You cannot bind it if you have a magic item in that slot.

This feature concerns me. It gives you access to a ton of effects, and potentially allows you to render other classes, already weaker than archivist or wizard, fairly pointless as you get to steal their few unique tricks. Still, the large increase in effective spell level, and various other limitations, will hopefully make this a much more difficult feature to use, one that sees more application on a fluff level than power level.

The Artifex Goetia’s Familiar Book

A familiar book is an intelligent item. It behaves as a blessed book for the purposes of inscribing spells within. It has HP equal to its master, hardness equal to 5× its master’s artifex goetia class level, and resistance to all energy damage equal to 3× its master’s artifex goetia class level. It also gains more benefits based on its master’s artifex goetia class level.

│ Level │ Int │ Wis │ Communication        │ Capabilities   │ Senses                                      │
│   2nd │  13 │  13 │ Empathy¹             │ Secret Page    │ 60 ft. vision and hearing                   │
│   3rd │  13 │  13 │ Empathy¹             │                │ 60 ft. vision and hearing                   │
│   4th │  14 │  14 │ Speech²              │ Remote Viewing │ 120 ft. vision and hearing                  │
│   5th │  15 │  15 │ Speech²              │                │ 60 ft. darkvision and hearing               │
│   6th │  16 │  16 │ Speech²              │ Shared Notes   │ 60 ft. darkvision and hearing               │
│   7th │  16 │  16 │ Speech²              │                │ 60 ft. darkvision and hearing               │
│   8th │  17 │  17 │ Speech, telepathy³   │ Indestructable │ 120 ft. darkvision and hearing              │
│   9th │  18 │  18 │ Speech, telepathy³ ⁴ │                │ 120 ft. darkvision, blindsense, and hearing │
│  10th │  19 │  19 │ Speech, telepathy³ ⁴ │ Return         │ 120 ft. darkvision, blindsense, and hearing │

1 The possessor feels urges and sometimes emotions from the item that encourage or discourage certain courses of action.

2 Like a character, an intelligent item speaks Common plus one language per point of Intelligence bonus, and can read any languages it can speak. It can communicate telepathically with its master.

3 The item can use either communication mode at will, with language use as any speaking item. It can communicate telepathically with the wielder.

4 The item can read all languages as well as use read magic.

This stuff comes straight from the intelligent item rules, aside from the capabilities.

Secret Page Su – The familiar book automatically uses secret page, as the spell, to hide the magic contained within it from anyone but its master.

Remote Viewing Su – The familiar book’s master may, at will, concentrate and view the book’s surroundings, seeing whatever the book can sense. This may be done at any range, and for as long as the master continues to concentrate, provided the master and the book are on the same plane. This is a scrying effect.

Shared Notes Su – Using any of his familiar books, the master may prepare any spell inscribed in any other familiar book he has created that still exists. For each spell not in the familiar books he has before him, however, spell preparation takes an additional 10 minutes per level of the spell.

This seems kind of awkward; I’m considering changing it so that you have only one familiar book, but it has infinite pages. Thoughts on that would be appreciated.

Indestructable – At this point, a familiar book is astoundingly difficult to destroy. Only effects capable of destroying a major artifact can destroy the familiar book.

This... is not as great a description as I’d like it to be. The description of major artifacts says that each major artifact should have a single, specific way to destroy it; the familiar book does not. That said, certain powerful spells do give ways to destroy artifacts, which is what I’m going for here. It would take a lot to get a 17th-level wizard to cast disjunction on the book, particularly considering the tempting possibility that one could convince the book to allow him to use the power contained therein.

Return Su – At will, as a standard action, the familiar book’s master may call it to him. This is a Conjuration (calling) effect, and works at any disatance and even across planes.

This book is way too important to allow it to be trivially taken. Calling effects can be blocked, but at least this requires that someone who steals the book get it to a location that blocks them before the wizard notices it missing.

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I'd play the crap out of this class. –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 21 at 15:22
The concept of a familiar book is absolutely fantastic, though I think that the Shared Notes ability of the thing is rather inbalanced, taking an hour and a half to prepare a level 9 spell from a book that you do not have on you is very debilitating. And maybe Indestructible should be its level 10 ability? –  Thomas Jacobs Jul 21 at 17:25
@ThomasJacobs Frankly I was worried people would complain that it was imbalanced for a wizard to have access to all of his stuff at once without putting it at risk (i.e. stow it somewhere very-safe, and carry around a mostly-empty book just to use as a 'terminal' if you will). As for indestructable, eh. Honestly, I was concerned about putting so much emphasis on the book when there are DMs who'd think it's funny/amusing to destroy it. Because playing high-level commoners is such a great game... –  KRyan Jul 21 at 17:32
@KRyan dude! you just blew my mind! i checked today (been very busy) and saw this! and just in time too as i'm getting a level this week and i will have to pitch this to our dm. great job! –  othniel2005 Aug 5 at 16:12
@othniel2005 I'm also very interested in what your DM thinks, so definitely let me know! –  KRyan Aug 5 at 17:22

The Arcane Hierophant gets three features at level 1:

  • Companion Familiar: Has no interaction with the Archivist, but it does with Wizard. Replace this with regular advancement for your familiar.
  • Ignore Arcane Spell Failure: Keep this the same or change this to the armor the Archivist is proficient with.
  • Wild Shape is not a feature for the Archivist, but they do have the uses of Dark Knowledge. You could keep the uses per day as the Archivist Has.

Then, the Hierophant gets Channel Animal and Channel Plant. You could replace these with the different types of Dark Knowledge and the two extra uses of Lore Mastery. You could have Dread Secret, Lore Mastery, Foreknowledge and Lore Mastery at levels 4, 6, 8 and 10.

THe problem with this is that this way the Achive Hierophant is all but a straight upgrade for the Arhcivist; even at the cost of three casting levels, a use of Dark Knowledge and a bonus feat, the extra levels of Wizard are very attractive for shcuh a character. It gives the Archivist too much power at too little loss.

You could still get Dread Secret and Foreknowledge, but perhaps these would be better at levels 5 and 10 and you don't get the three extra uses of Dark Knowledge that you would get from going Archivist 20 instead of Archivist 10/Archive Hierophant 10. Or just cut these out entirely, or allow for the chioce to replace another type of Dark Knowledge as you level up.

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Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely look into allowing the class the Dark Knowledge abilities but not get the increased number of use per day, plus lore mastery. –  othniel2005 Jul 2 at 13:40




Skills: Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 6 ranks

Spells: Able to cast 2nd-level divine spells and 2nd-level arcane spells.

Hit die: d4

Skill points: 2 + Int

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Arcanavists gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day: When a new arcanavist level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in any one arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class and any one divine spellcasting class he belonged to previously.

Ignore Arcane Spell Failure: When casting an arcane spell, you ignore the arcane spell failure chance for any light armor.

Familiar: Your Arcanavist levels stack for purposes of determining the abilities of your familiar.

Dark Knowledge: Your Arcanavist levels stack for purposes determining the abilities of Dark Knowledge.

Behind The Scenes

Using this, you don't penalize the familiar, but you don't get bonus feats that a wizard would get. Also, you don't penalize Dark Knowledge, but you don't anything else either. This, in my opinion, keeps the flavor of the two classes alive and well, while at the same time still making single classing more viable. You will already, assuming you took the Academic Priest feat (from Legends of the Twins - Dragonlance) have a single stat to worry about (Intelligence) and that will put you a cut above most other "Theurges."

Simply using the original Mystic Theurge (horrifically outdated) literally gives you nothing but spellcasting. No other Theurge is as bad as that. What I did was give the original Mystic Theurge (those in my games actually willing to do that) a bonus feat selection at 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th. The feats had to be Divine, Metamagic, or Skill Focus feats. Some may say that is over powered, ok, so give them a bonus feat at 5th and 10th. The epic level version at least does that...

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Click on the yellow icon with a question mark that shows up above your answer on the right when writing or editing it. It will show you a menu including an HTML tab. There you can learn about which subset of HTML language is allowed here. –  Zachiel Jul 18 at 13:49
@Zachiel I checked it out, and tried some other table styles, but it turned out so weird (or outside of my expertise) I am just going to not worry about it (for now). Please forgive my lack of expertise and laziness. I did put in some conceptual commentary into the post to at least people can know what was going through my head in the design process. –  Ruut Jul 18 at 14:15

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