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I would like to play a character who can bind the vestige Desharis, the Sprawling Soul, while also having the master of doors capstone feature of the silver key prestige class. The only way to do both is to be a 10th-level binder1/10th-level silver key (binder is from Tome of Magic, silver key is from Dragonmarked).

For the most part, the silver key requirements are not too onerous—you have to be a dwarf, waste a feat on Dodge, get some skill ranks—several cross-class for a binder but the ranks required are low, all of that is quite manageable.

But then it requires trap sense +1. You know, the nearly-useless class feature that barbarians and rogues get at 3rd, or more accurately, desperately seek a replacement for at 3rd? That trap sense.

Turns out that trap sense didn’t get used all that much past the PHB. Probably because it’s awful. There are a few prestige classes that get it at 1st, so a one-level dip in something could get me trap sense—but then I would have to either forgo the 10th level of binder and be unable to bind Desharis even with Improved Binding, or else forgo the 10th level of silver key and miss out on master of doors. That doesn’t work for me.

So then, I am wondering if there exist any options that can get me trap sense on the following conditions:

  1. Must be available before selecting my 11th-level class, at the latest. This build is taking part in non-epic play, that is, there is literally no amount of XP sufficient to reach ECL 21st.

  2. Must not interfere with the ability to bind Desharis, the Sprawling Soul.

    Desharis is a 6th-level vestige, requiring effective binder level 12th—which means that with Improved Binding (+2 effective binder level for the purposes of which vestiges you can bind), an effective binder level of 10th is just barely enough. No soul binding class offers trap sense, so this requirement almost certainly means that we need to get trap sense from something that doesn’t involve any levels.

  3. Must be available to some sort of dwarf.

  4. Must not use so many feats that it prevents meeting the requirements for either Desharis or silver key.

    You may assume the Flaws variant if necessary, but please note this. If you need additional bonus feat shenanigans on top of flaws, please note that too. My own assumption here is that you will have three feats to play with, five with Flaws: one feat on Dodge for silver key, and the binder bonus feat at 4th used to pick up Improved Binding for Desharis.

  5. Must be from official D&D 3.5 material, defined as WotC-published and WotC-endorsed materials (so WotC books and web articles, plus Dragon, Dungeon, stuff like Oriental Adventures, even Athas.org I guess). Note that, per the rules, 3.0 material is 3.5 material so long as it hasn’t been replaced by a 3.5 update, so that is allowed. Please cite sources, and make a note if a source is 3.0 or otherwise “weird” (like Athas.org).

  6. Temporary sources of trap sense are acceptable, since per the Dungeon Master’s Guide I only need trap sense for the moment I want to select my first silver key level. However, please note how small a level-up window we’re looking at.

  7. Must be valid, per the rules as written. RAW shenanigans are acceptable, though using less of that will make for a better answer. There is no good hard-and-fast way to define limits here, but I’ll say this: if fewer RAW shenanigans make for a better answer, answering with Pun-pun makes for a particularly poor answer. I have a very high tolerance for cheese for this purpose, but I want non-trivial answers, and Pun-pun is the trivial answer to every mechanical question.

So, does anyone know of any way to do this?

  1. Or probably more like 5th-level binder/5th-level knight of the sacred seal. Point is, 10 levels that advance soul binding.
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You said it could be temporary, then how about hiring a Nightsong Infiltrator (Complete Adventurer) to grant you his Trap Sense bonus while you obtain your Silver Key's first level?

Teamwork Trap Sense (Ex):

A nightsong infiltrator has an intuitive sense that alerts her to danger from traps, giving her a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against attacks made by traps. All allies within 30 feet of the infiltrator also gain these bonuses (even if they already have trap sense from another class feature). These bonuses increase to +2 at 4th level, to +3 at 7th level, and to +4 at 10th level.

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Longanswer was long. And wrong.

You've stated that the you believe that a character would retain the dwarf subtype while polymorphed*, and that that subtype would be enough to qualify for silver key.

So: be a dwarf. Gain levels 1-10 in Binder. When you're about to gain level 11, arrange to have Shapechange cast on you. Shift form into a Cuprilach (Fiend Folio). You gain all it's Ex and Su abilities, including Trap Sense +2. You retain the dwarf subtype. Level up, as a Silver Key quick! You now have entered int othe prestige class, and can continue progressing in it.

Shapechange is self-only, so probably the best generic way to get it is with a scroll and Use Magic Device. You'll need to have 19 intelligence or hit a DC 34 UMD check, and you'll need to hit a DC 37 UMD check to actually get the spell to go off. Best bet is to have/borrow a +6 int item, so you'll want 13 int base by level 10. You can just keep trying on the check for scrolls, so if you have 19 INT, you're looking for at least a +17 UMD.. That's rough, but doable. The Apprentice feat will make it a class skill, which would help, and decipher script and spellcraft add synergy bonuses. Failing that, just stack up a bunch of different Charisma bonuses.

*I had not read polymorph et al. that way. On further reflection, it's a reasonable but not compelling reading. It works for the constraints of this question though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Combined talent (Complete Mage p100) is a 1st level bard spell that can mitigate some of this by allowing the dwarf to use another character's skill ranks (Max 10). Plus, since scrolls can 'blow up', having a reroll handy when you know you roll low is good. Here, take immediate assistance for that (CMag p108). Buy a wand of it for the bard helper... \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus May 25 '17 at 4:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus Nice! I figured KRyan would likely be smarter than I on how to make the UMD check anyway, so I just threw in enough stuff to leave plausible pointers to anyone else looking at the question. If you wanted to edit in a more specific approach, feel free. Alternately, I think there's room for another, better answer which is more specific on how to minimize the overhead using this trick. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin May 25 '17 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Enh, my bad answer is enough from me on this one, I think. Your find of the apparently only non-class method of garnering Trap-Sense is the gem. The rest is procedure. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus May 25 '17 at 4:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, agreed with @Chemus that we don't necessarily need more on procedure here. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 25 '17 at 13:17
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Probably doesn't work I'll keep this answer around, but I don't think it works, and I don't think it fits with the Silver Key prestige class. Unfortunately.


Lets torture the RAW until they confess where they hid the tjeese.

Fiend Folio includes the Rilmani Cuprilach. It's an LA +5, 12 HD monstrosity which includes several rogue class features but has no class levels. It's perfect. And it was covered in the Fiend Folio 3.5 update booklet: only the DR changed.

You start your life as a regular, everyday Cuprilach. Your racial adjustments appear to be STR +8 DEX +12 CON +10 INT +8 WIS +8 CHA +12 (after removing increases from the 12 monstrous HD). You have DR 10/good-or-evil-or-lawful-or-chaotic. You have a small handful of decent spell-like abilities and SR25. You have Rilmani traits: outsider traits, immune to electricity and poison and resistance 20 for acid and sonic, another handful of utility spell-likes (plus 3/day Polymorph self!!). You have Swift Strikes(Ex): make a full attack with a standard action, fatigue for 1d4 rounds. You have a Summoning ability that maybe (75%) calls 1d3 bruisers. You have Hide in Plain Sight (the "near a shadow" version), Uncanny Dodge, +3d6 sneak attack, and a +8 racial bonus on climb checks.

And you have Trap Sense +2.

There's also a bunch of stuff from HD, but that's not worth mentioning: step one is to peel away all those unwanted outsider hit dice. (Optional step zero is to shove all your xp into a thought bottle, but that's not strictly neccessary). Go level up once as a binder, then snuggle up to something with energy drain. Pick up 12 negative levels. Fail all your saves. Lose the Cuprilach levels. You are now a 0HD Cuprilach with everything listed above. You're the sexiest first-level Binder around!

Your skills are a bit weird. You probably lose all your skill ranks and don't get the 4x skill bonus from your binder level (it wasn't first level when you took it). Take your +8 racial intelligence bonus and pout elsewhere. In this case, you probably lose all your feats (they all came from racial HD), so may end up one feat short.

Arguably instead, you might lose [8+int * 12] ranks (losing levels without regard to where the skills came from). If you have a positive INT mod on top of the racial bonus, that might wipe out all your Binder ranks as well. On the other hand, you probably keep one of the Cuprilach feats this way (Dodge, Point-Blank Shot, or Weapon Finesse; the rest have prerequisites).

(You'll need to figure out whether the SR should be level-dependent. Strictly, I think no, but 13+level is also plausible.)

The LA means that it takes you more XP to reach level 20, but you'll get there with the full set of requested class features. Use your racial Polymorph Self spell-like ability to turn into a Dwarf immediately before you gain your 11th level, and do everything else as would have before.


Now, maybe XP is an issue for you. That's solvable too, but we need to go deeper. Heart of the cheese.

Corniness aside, you're about to burn through a lot of castings of PAO. You're likely best off getting a buddy to cast it for you. I think there's a way use a wizard cohort from the Leadership feat, but a party member is probably a better choice; I'll assume you do that, so this comes online at ECL 15ish. Its probably fine to pay for too, just pricey. There are two possibilities with permanent PAO: either it applies a new LA or it doesn't. Let's assume it does, because everyone assumes no LA is the crazier option.

Play through as above. At, say, 136,500 xp, you are level 12. Stuff your xp in a thought bottle (you can now reset to 136,000 xp). PAO into some mook. Pick whatever medium LA +0 race you like; it doesn't matter. PAO is probably permanent with just one casting, but a second definitely is (if it matters). You are now level 12 with 136500 xp: time to level up! Unfortunately, you can't ever have enough xp to gain two levels, so your xp is set to one less than the amount for next level. You are level 13 with 90,999 xp. Not that it matters; use that thought bottle a few more times until you hit 17th with 136000 xp.

Now get that PAO dispelled (or have another pair cast overtop to turn back into a Cuprilach). Now you're a 17th level Cuprilach with 136,000 xp. It's going to be a long slog to hit the 253k you need for 18th level (ECL 23). Better go cuddle with that wight again to console yourself. Pick up another negative level and fail the save. You're back to level 16! Set your XP halfway between 16 and 17. For you, that's at 220,500 xp. A tragic loss!

Anyway better repeat that again: stuff this new xp into a thought bottle (220,000), become a mook, level up to level 20, stop there (per clarifications), dismiss the PAO. You're now level 20 (ECL 25) with 220,000 xp.

You may be a little ahead of the rest of the party.

(incidentally, this works without thought bottles, but it takes longer: you have to go one level at a time and gain 1+ xp between cycles)

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Trapsense being an exceedingly rare ability (apparently), I have thus far been quite challenged to find any pre-built non-class options for obtaining it.

However, using the guidelines in the A&EG, MIC, and the other item creation rules, it should be possible to research an item which duplicates the class ability of trapsense specifically.

This suggestion, however, requires DM approval, and while technically completely legal and within rules scope, does not have the same "shiny glitter" as a pre-built item.


The Generic Classes from Unearthed Arcana have bonus feats (and class features as bonus feats) one of which is trapsense. However, these seem to only apply to the Generic classes which turns that option into one needing class levels again.


The Trap Warden feat from Dragonmarked (p.144) grants the exact same mechanic as trapsense, and even explicitly stacks with trapsense, however, it is not called trapsense. So this may or may not work with your DM as an alternative to trapsense for the purpose of qualifying for prestige classes - not to mention the prerequisites being rather campaign specific.

The generic class and trap warden ideas are thanks to my friends over on Minmaxboards.

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