With just a little shenanigans, you can get 9th level in 2 progressions. I think Wizard 3 / Druid 3 / Mystic Theurge 10 / Arcane Hierophant 4 does the trick (If I am not mistaken - no books on me right now - one can enter MT way earlier than 6, so no biggie).

But can it be done for 3 progressions[*] on only 20 character levels?

[*] Should have a spell progression with proper spell slots up to 9th level. There is no problem if there are gaps at lower [1 ~4] levels. Things that just add to spell lists (like mother cyst, bonus domains, etc) doesn't count.

Prestige classes allowed from any 3.5 official publication, including dragon magazine. Assume fractional stat advancement (save, BAB), alignment changes as you see fit,

Forbidden: 3.5 FAQ, negative level shedding, pun-pun, DCFS, Unearthed Arcana.

Tiebreaker are the most extra spell progressions that haven't reached 9th level beyond the 3 required.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this assuming that Pun-Pun is off the table because it's not via a progression? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2017 at 18:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect this question will receive better answers if you explicitly lay out your rules for allowable builds. For instance, which early entry tricks (Sanctum Spell cheese, Verastile Spellcaster + fixed list classes, etc.) are allowed? Do bloodline levels advance Legacy Champion/Uncanny Trickster class features? Does a character who can cast a single 9th level spell via something like Versatile Spellcaster + Mother Cyst, but doesn't have any 9th level spell slots, count as having "achieved" 9th level spells? \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ These are nitpicky rules questions, but the answer to your question will depend on them. \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is lycanthropy kosher here? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Dec 25, 2020 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin we don't discriminate against lycanthropes. They're chill. Way better than glitter vampires (which I'm biased against), that's a given. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4, 2021 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


OK, so we can do this by leveraging five prestige classes:1

  • Arcane hierophant—dual advance arcane and divine spellcasting, 10/10 levels (Races of the Wild)
  • Blighter—9th-level divine spells in 9 effective class levels (Complete Divine)
  • Fochlucan lyrist—dual advance arcane and divine spellcasting, 10/10 levels (Complete Adventurer)
  • Sublime chord—9th-level arcane spells in 9 effective class levels (Complete Arcane)
  • Ur-priest—9th-level divine spells in 9 effective class levels (Complete Divine)

Between these, we have 40 levels’ worth of effective spellcasting levels, and we have three classes that can reach three different sets of 9ths with a total of 27 effective spellcasting levels. If we can combine these effectively, we can manage enough effective spellcasting levels to gain 9ths three times.

Relevant abuses, in ascending order of my personal tolerance for them in a real game:

  • Using Alternate Source Spell to advance a divine spellcasting class with a prestige class that is trying to advance an arcane spellcasting class. (I don’t really personally think this works, and have come up with another answer that avoids it, though there are definitely trade-offs.)

  • Using a friendly 9th-level bard’s inspire greatness during our 3rd or 4th level-up to meet skill rank requirements earlier than should be possible. (This works, strictly speaking, but I would basically never allow it in my games.)

  • Using Versatile Spellcaster to qualify as having spells a level higher than we otherwise could cast. (It works, but probably wouldn’t ever allow it.)

  • Repeatedly ignoring prerequisites after taking the first level in a prestige class. (This definitely works, and I might allow it in my games depending on circumstance.)

  • Qualifying for a prestige class using an item. (This definitely works and I allow it routinely in my games; you should too.)

More details on how these work and what they accomplish for us below.

  1. This is not the only way to do it, just a way to do it. Note here that the existence of these classes makes a trivial answer like Pun-pun possible. Pun-pun could choose to take ur-priest at 2nd, blighter at 3rd, and sublime-chord at 4th, and then just use 8 levels in mystic theurge to get 9ths in sublime chord and one of the divine classes, and then take the remaining 8 levels in the remaining divine class to get 9ths in that too. This is pointless, though, since he already had all the 9th-level spells in the game at 1st.

But these prestige classes have a lot of problems with them:

These are all prestige classes

That means levels wasted prior to being able to enter, plus we have to actually meet all the prerequisites. If we don’t get into any of them in 1st to 5th, then we have 15 levels remaining—3 to the first level in each class, and then 12 levels of dual-advancement. That works out to 24 effective levels’ worth of dual advancement, as well as 3 for the original level in each class—just barely meeting our requirement of 27. So every single level after 5th has to be either the first level in one of blighter, sublime chord, or ur-priest, or else it has to be advancing our level in two of those classes.

Sublime chord has brutal requirements and cannot be entered before 11th

Nothing much to do about this one: gaining 13 ranks in two different skills before 10th level is hard. We could push it back to 8th if we really needed to, but it’s probably better to just accept this and take sublime chord at 11th. That means that 8 of our remaining 18 effective spellcasting levels gained across 12th to 20th are going to have to be dedicated to sublime chord, so our other classes are going to have to be ready to achieve 9ths with the remaining 10.

We don’t have a class that advances two divine spellcasting classes

We already admitted defeat on sublime chord, and are leaving it until 11th. But our dual-advancement classes are all arcane/divine. In fact, there is no divine/divine dual-advancement class (there is an arcane/arcane one in the ultimate magus, Complete Mage). How do we deal with that?

The answer is, arguably, Alternate Source Spell from Dragon vol. 325. Since we are taking both bard and druid levels, we don’t have to cheese qualifying for that feat, and it means our 3rd-level druid spells can be arcane. Is that good enough for arcane hierophant and Fochlucan lyrist? No one knows! But we’re going to assume it is.

Blighter requires 3rd-level spells

This is problematic simply because we need a level of bard (to get the bardic music we’ll eventually need for sublime chord), so we can’t simply start as a 5th-level druid. So we’ll have to cheese at least one extra spell level out of a 3rd-level druid, minimum.

Since we have a level of bard anyway, the easiest way to do that is Versatile Spellcaster from Races of the Dragon, which we unambiguously qualify for and unambiguously can use on our druid spells despite that feat’s requirements. Bam, our 1st-level bard/3rd-level druid can cast 3rd-level druid spells.

Ur-priest and other divine spellcasting

Ur-priest has a requirement that

Special: The character must have no ability to cast divine spells. If such spellcasting ability was previously possessed (as with an ex-cleric), that ability is forever forsaken.

That means taking one’s first level of ur-priest nukes any divine spellcasting you had. However, it does not mean that you can never have other divine spellcasting ever again—the forsaking is explicitly about spellcasting ability “previously possessed.” The first line, on the other hand, can be safely violated once we have taken our first level of ur-priest: we won’t lose our ur-priest class features, or even our right to take more ur-priest levels, per the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

So we have to take blighter after our first level of ur-priest, or else ur-priest is going to destroy our blighter spellcasting.

Arcane hierophant and blighter both require BAB +4

Unfortunately, once we take a level in each of bard and druid, which are mandatory for sublime chord and blighter, respectively, it becomes impossible to get BAB +4 before 7th level, when we want to take blighter, unless we use fractional BAB (which everyone should, but nonetheless).

And simply delaying blighter and/or arcane hierophant another level doesn’t work out to get us 9ths.

We manage to hit BAB +4 if we can take a full-BAB class instead of bard at 1st. Paladin could actually fit the bill, since the harmonic knight variant from Champion of Valor gets 1/day inspire courage +1 instead of at-will detect evil, but only if we waive alignment and religion requirements as harmonic knight requires Milil as patron and that won’t jive with ur-priest at all.

Instead, we could use Augustinius’ Folly, a “slightly-cursed” suit of +2 banded mail from Dragon vol. 324, to get “inspire courage once per day as an 8th-level bard,” and then take any other full-BAB class at 1st. Duskblade is probably best just because its an arcane spellcaster, easing our access to Alternate Source Spell and counting towards ur-priest CL.

But for games without Dragon and without waiving alignment and religion requirements, this one we’d have to just bite the bullet on: even if we cheese our spells harder, 1st-level bard/1st-level druid is a minimum for us and once we have that, we are not going to get BAB +4 in five levels without fractional BAB.

Since the question does allow us to do any of these things, however, I am going to favor the bard level. Skill points, why not? Plus Augustinius’ Folly is slightly-cursed, and paladins come with baggage.

(thanks to @Forrestfire for pointing out Augustinius’ Folly.)

Blighter requires us to be an ex-druid, but arcane hierophant requires a druid class feature

Blighters must be ex-druids, while arcane hierophant requires trackless step, a druid class feature. And obnoxiously, ex-druids don’t just lose spellcasting and supernatural abilities, but instead lose all druid class features beyond the base chassis and armor and weapon proficiencies.

An arguable solution here is to get trackless step elsewhere. There aren’t many options, but bamboo spirit folk from Oriental Adventures gain it as a racial feature. That solves that—arguably. Arcane hierophant does specify “trackless step class feature,” and bamboo spirit folk is a race, not a class. Since we’re being pedantic on a number of other points to our advantage, choosing to not be pedantic here is problematic.

So let’s embrace pedantry. A 9th-level bard can perform inspire greatness, making us count as having 2 HD more than we do. If we level up—say, to 4th—under this effect, we count as being two levels higher—6th—and thus our skill rank maximum increases by 2 as well—to 9. That gives us room to put 8 ranks in Knowledge (religion) and Spellcraft at 4th, so when we level up to 5th, we can take ur-priest. We can ease the timing requirements here by having it be an undead or warforged bard, as they can play inspire greatness indefinitely without tiring or otherwise needing to stop, guaranteeing that our level-up happens during the effect. So make friends with (or hire) any mid-level undead or warforged bards you meet. Alternatively, a regular bard, and a friendly 7th-level psion to cast psychic reformation to re-allocate your skill points instantaneously while the bard plays.

Starting ur-priest early buys us an extra level: since we are ahead of schedule on ur-priest, we only need 26 effective levels in the 6th-20th range. We still take ur-priest at 6th as planned (but now the second level in that class), and we reach BAB +4 to qualify for blighter (assuming either fractional BAB or harmonic knight), again just like we planned it. But this is where that extra level we bought ourselves comes in: we can delay blighter one level, and BAB +4 also qualifies us for arcane hierophant—and we haven’t taken blighter yet, so we still have trackless step from our druid levels. Now that we’ve taken the 1st level of arcane hierophant, again per Dungeon Master’s Guide, we can continue taking levels in it even after becoming an ex-druid and blighter.

Note that the first level of arcane hierophant, in this version, is advancing ur-priest and bard. Having 2nd-level bard spellcasting isn’t exactly thrilling, but just pointing it out: we can’t advance blighter, since we haven’t taken our first level in it yet, and we can’t advance druid because...

We lose our druid spellcasting when we take ur-priest

Yes, we do. It’s gone. We no longer can cast 3rd-level spells—but we are an ex-druid who was capable of doing so, meeting blighter’s requirement. And since we can use Versatile Spell on both ur-priest and blighter, they both have 2nd-level spells. Alternate Spell Source makes one of them arcane, and bam, we qualify for arcane hierophant.

What about feats?

Assuming we go the early-ur-priest route, we need:

  • Iron Will and Spell Focus (evil) before 5th in order to qualify for ur-priest.

  • Versatile Spell before we lose druid spellcasting (at 5th) in order to qualify for blighter.

  • Alternate Source Spell before 6th in order to qualify for arcane hierophant.

We only get feats at 1st and 3rd—two short. That means we need some source of bonus feats. Flaws are the easiest, if that variant is in play, and if not we could always be human for one and abuse the Otyugh Hole from Complete Scoundrel to get Iron Will for the other.

If we go the bamboo spirit folk route, we lose the human bonus feat, but we also don’t need Alternate Source Spell until 8th, so we can pick it up at 6th. The level taken at 5th under this approach is also completely free to do whatever, potentially allowing us to pick up one of the others as a bonus feat.

Fochlucan lyrist requires evasion, and also a boatload of skills

Evasion should just be gotten with a ring of evasion. Feel free to sell it after you take the first level of lyrist.

The skills, on the other hand, may be simply not worth it. The requirements are considerable, almost all of your levels are in 2+Int or 4+Int classes—and with your needs for Wisdom and Charisma, I wouldn’t expect staggering Intelligence—and perhaps most importantly, sublime chord requires a ton of skills too without a whole lot of overlap.

So maybe just ditch Fochlucan lyrist, amusing as it is, and just use arcane hierophant until 18th (when you finish it) and take the last two levels in mystic theurge.

Final Build

A neutral evil human with the following levels has the indicated level of spells in each of the listed classes:

Level Class Blighter Sublime Chord Ur–priest
1st Bard
2nd Druid¹
3rd Druid¹
4th Druid¹
5th Ur–priest² 1st
6th Ur–priest 2nd
7th Arcane Hierophant³ 3rd
8th Blighter 1st 3rd
9th Arcane Hierophant 2nd 4th
10th Arcane Hierophant 3rd 5th
11th Sublime Chord 3rd 5th 6th
12th Fochlucan Lyrist⁴ 3rd 5th 7th
13th Fochlucan Lyrist 3rd 6th 8th
14th Fochlucan Lyrist 3rd 6th 9th
15th Fochlucan Lyrist 4th 7th 9th
16th Fochlucan Lyrist 5th 7th 9th
17th Fochlucan Lyrist 6th 8th 9th
18th Fochlucan Lyrist 7th 8th 9th
19th Fochlucan Lyrist 8th 9th 9th
20th Fochlucan Lyrist 9th 9th 9th
  1. We lose druid spellcasting at 5th when we take our first level of ur-priest, and we lose all other druid class features at 8th when we take our first level of blighter.

  2. In order to meet the skill rank requirements for ur-priest before 5th, we must have taken our 3rd or 4th level while under the effects of inspire greatness. An undead or warforged bard makes the timing of this much easier.

  3. In order to meet the BAB +4 requirement, the campaign must be using fractional BAB. Without that, we could use a full-BAB class instead of bard at 1st and then gain inspire courage from Augustinius’ Folly, or else a houserule waiving alignment and religion requirements could allow us to substitute harmonic knight paladin for bard and reach BAB +4 without fractionals.

  4. The exact breakdown of arcane hierophant and Fochlucan lyrist levels is really up to you. But since you don’t have a familiar (unless you take Obtain Familiar, which you could), and may not have an animal companion either (depending on how the DM interprets an ex-druid arcane hierophant), I figure the music progression of Fochlucan lyrist is superior. On the other hand, the skills required for Fochlucan lyrist may well be prohibitive and you may prefer to skip it altogether, finishing arcane hierophant at 18th and then taking two levels of mystic theurge.

I quite like how this build, despite being made for the cheesiest of reasons, actually looks playable as a real character. Levels 5th to 8th or so are going to be a bit painful, but not unplayable. And the progression suggests an interesting character arc: a bard/druid who forsakes both gods and nature and becomes a stark nihilist, but rediscovers the magic of music later in his career and weaves that into the anathemic magics he commands.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome. Specially for the last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2017 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Impressively woven. Well done. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Oct 12, 2017 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dragon #324 has Augustinius' Folly, a suit of +2 banded mail that "grants its wearer the ability to inspire courage once per day as an 8th-level bard." Unlike normal bardic music, it requires a full-round action to activate, and has a 10% chance of failing catastrophically ("slightly cursed items" was the theme of the article), but it might work for your purposes here? It costs only 6,000gp. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 27, 2017 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read the quoted description of Ur-priest differently. You don't lose the ability to cast divine spells upon taking it: you have to have already lost the ability to cast divine spells before to qualify for the class. (and taking Ur-priest disqualifies you from ever regaining that prior ability: e.g. the example ex-cleric can't atone to regain his cleric spellcasting ability) \$\endgroup\$
    – user11450
    Nov 11, 2017 at 15:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Druids are said to “know” every spell on their list, I believe, though you’re right I do have to back up that belief with a citation. Pretty sure it’s in there somewhere, I’ll look when I get a chance. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 22, 2020 at 19:59

An alternate approach to my other answer, and uses some of the tricks from that without detailing them again.

The advantage of it is that does not need to try to use Alternate Source Spell to make a divine spellcasting class get progressed as an arcane class, which I personally find quite dubious, RAW. Since sublime chord is the only fast-9th arcane class, and it is difficult to enter early enough, we can use an arcane base class. Doing so requires a minimum of 17 effective levels in that class to get 9ths, plus 9 levels in each of blighter and ur-priest, for a total of 35 effective levels. The first level in each counts towards 3 of those, so 32 have to come from dual-advancement: that means 16 levels in dual advancement. Between starting and advancing those classes, that’s 19 levels, which is good because blighter still requires us to be an ex-druid.

That mandates this progression:

Level Class Sha’ir Blighter Divine Crusader
1st Druid
2nd Sha’ir 1st
3rd Blighter 1st 1st
4th Mystic Theurge 1st 2nd
5th Mystic Theurge 2nd 3rd
6th Mystic Theurge 2nd 4th
7th Mystic Theurge 3rd 5th
8th Mystic Theurge 3rd 6th
9th Mystic Theurge 4th 7th
10th Mystic Theurge 4th 8th
11th Mystic Theurge 5th 9th
12th Divine Crusader 5th 9th 1st
13th Arcane Hierophant 5th 9th 2nd
14th Arcane Hierophant 6th 9th 3rd
15th Arcane Hierophant 6th 9th 4th
16th Arcane Hierophant 7th 9th 5th
17th Arcane Hierophant 7th 9th 6th
18th Arcane Hierophant 8th 9th 7th
19th Arcane Hierophant 8th 9th 8th
20th Arcane Hierophant 9th 9th 9th

Problems abound with this, but we can address them:

  • Wait, before you start, what’s a sha’ir? Divine crusader is new, too.

    • Sha’ir is a very odd spellcasting class from Dragon Compendium. It gets 9th-level spells by 17th level, like a wizard, which we need, but it’s also Charisma-based, which is nice since divine crusader is also. Weirdly enough, it can cast both arcane and divine spells, though we don’t really do much with that fact in this build and just treat it like an arcane caster (the divine spells are pretty hard to use anyway, and come from a really restrictive list).

      Divine crusader is another 9th-level-divine-spells-in-9-class-levels prestige class from Complete Divine. Far more balanced than blighter or ur-priest, since it can only cast the spells from a single domain. It requires just matching your deity’s alignment, Weapon Focus in deity’s favored weapon, and BAB +7.

  • We need to take blighter at 3rd, despite it requiring that our former druid spells have been at least 3rd-level.

    • There are a number of tricks to get us there, but most are rather feat-intensive and we don’t have a whole lot of those since Unearthed Arcana flaws are out. The easiest is the Mad Faith feat from Heroes of Horror to gain a bonus 3rd-level spell slot as a 1st-level druid. You’ll need severe depravity for that, though, and that’s quite painful. Being undead neatly gets us out of those problems, though, so consider being a necropolitan from Libris Mortis.
  • Blighter also requires BAB +4. How do you get that at 2nd level?

    • Sadly, this is all too possible, by using a scroll of divine power. A divine crusader (which we will eventually be, so maybe we know some) can scribe a CL 4th one, which is good enough. Problem is, that’s a DC 24 Use Magic Device check at 2nd level: not easy. Luckily for us, we could have guidance of the avatar cast on us by a friendly cleric (only needs to be 3rd level, which could easily be a party-mate if we’ve lost XP due to the Ritual of Crucimigration). With a +20 bonus, two cross-class ranks in UMD mean we succeed on the UMD check 100% of the time with just 12 Charisma. And if we can’t find a scroll of divine power scribed by a divine crusader, a cleric-scribed CL 7th one would be DC 27, so we would still have a reasonable chance of success.

      The next issue is that divine power only gives you BAB equal to your character level, which is still 2nd. Once again, inspire greatness is pulling a ton of weight here and allows us to bypass that too—with 2 bonus HD, our character level is 4th, and we thus get BAB +4 with divine power.

      The real problem is that a CL 4th divine power lasts just four rounds. You need to level-up to 3rd during those four rounds for this to work. That is basically impossible without the DM outright assisting you. And unlike skill points, psychic reformation won’t let us re-pick our class at a time of our choosing.

  • Really? We can’t cheese around that one?

    • Well, OK, of course we can. Persist Spell exists and could make divine power last 24 hours. Problem is, a persistent divine power would be a 10th-level spell, which is damnably difficult to get into a scroll. You could possibly use some metamagic reducers to get it down to a level that could possibly work, but it would be extremely expensive, extraordinarily difficult to find, and the UMD check would be much, much harder.

      The usual alternative is to somehow get Persist Spell for free—Divine Metamagic is traditional, though Metamagic Song combined with Talfirian Song can do it, as can an artificer’s metamagic item infusion, or metamagic spell-trigger/spell-completion class features, or the Metamagic Item feat. Problem with all of these is that in order to affect a spell, the caster of the spell must have them, and divine power is a personal spell so the caster has to be us—and we can’t afford any of these.

      Two solutions come to mind:

      1. a spellguard of Silverymoon can cast a personal spell as a touch spell, so a spellguard of Silverymoon with DMM (Persist) can cast persistent divine power on us, or

      2. we can obtain a minor schema of metamagic item and a wand of divine power (rather than a scroll), so that we can use metamagic item on the wand of divine power in order to use Persist Spell on it. We have to actually get Persist Spell for this to work, though, which is tricky—we’ll probably have to use wu jen instead of sha’ir for the bonus metamagic feat at 1st, and we’ll also need a bonus racial feat.

  • OK, but Mad Faith alone isn’t enough to get into mystic theurge; it only gives a bonus divine spell slot. Are we still using Alternate Source Spell?

    • We could, but to be safer we could use Improved Sigil (krau) from Races of Destiny, which means being an illumian from the same. That gives us a free +1 Heighten Spell effect on our choice of two spells, so pick one wizard spell and one blighter spell. Now we have 2nd-level spells in each. If we need a bonus racial feat (e.g. for Persist Spell), though, we’re back to Alternate Source Spell. Way less dubious application, however.
  • We still need trackless step to qualify for arcane hierophant, but we definitely don’t have room to take the druid levels we’d need for it, so we can’t just start arcane hierophant before becoming an ex-druid like the other answer does.

    • Someone with at least 7 levels of nightsong infiltrator from Complete Adventurer can give an ally trackless step for 24 hours. So this is going to be another case of assisted level-up. At least the 24-hour window is reasonably large, and we don’t have to do anything fancy to get it.
  • Wait, really? Why didn’t you just do that in the other answer?

    • I try to keep the external assistance to a minimum.
  • OK, whatever. Uh, feats?

    • We need Mad Faith, Improved Sigil (krau), and Weapon Focus, that’s it. Improved Sigil (krau) wants to wait until 3rd, and Weapon Focus is happy to wait as late as 9th level. So that much is easy. Unless we want to go the minor schema of metamagic item, wand of divine power route, then we need Extend Spell and Persist Spell, both at 1st, which is a problem. Wu jen instead of sha’ir gets us one (but forces us to use Intelligence), and a racial bonus feat gets us the other (but forces us to use Alternate Source Spell instead of Improved Sigil (krau)).

So this is another triple-9 build, that avoids dubious readings of Alternate Source Spell. On the other hand, you have to level-up during the ridiculously short duration of divine power, which basically means the DM has to be outright assisting you, or else also have to get into some Persist Spell cheese, which is going to require some high-level assistance. Even if we can time our level-up and skip Persist, we still need some high-level assistance, since we still need inspire greatness from a bard and trackless step from a nightsong infiltrator.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Pretty sure you meant necropolitan rather than necrocarnate. Also, the "you need outright DM assistance on the divine power thing" seems like it ought to be a caveat int he last paragraph. Is there any way around that one? What does the price tag on it look like as compared to WBL? Could you afford to make it a higher-level caster? Alternately, I know you'll hate this, but for sheer silliness: grab enough levels to do it the old-fashioned way as a cleric, DMM-persist divine power on yourself, level-drain yourself down with thought bottle, then drink the exp back before the day is done. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 22, 2020 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heck - at that point you could use the same cheese for early entry into Divine Crusader, to the degree that that has value. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 22, 2020 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Good point on necrocarnate vs. necropolitan. Good point on the final conclusion. As for getting around it, not really? Persist Spell, maybe, but higher level doesn’t get us to durations long enough that I feel like we have any reasonable claim to having the effect when we need it absent DM assistance. And when you level-drain yourself, divine power’s effect should scale simultaneously, so that won’t help you. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 22, 2020 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's even worse. "Your base attack is equal to your character level" isnt' going to get you a BAB of 4 at level 2. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 22, 2020 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Inspire greatness is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be... unnatural. I just noticed that issue myself and am about to edit in that you need inspire greatness going at the same time. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 22, 2020 at 20:07

The Cheese Method

Unlike the complex builds done above, there is a cheese method that is perfectly RAW and, arguable, RAI valid.

Go Druid 5/Planar Shepherd (FoE) 9. You'll be level 14. Use pretty much all of your wealth to get the following:

The Skin of Kaletor [12,000 GP, Shoulders] (Dragon Magazine #324, 75) Trappings of the Beast (CC, 135).

You'll get +9 effective levels for the sake of Wild Shape.

Now your attuned planes should be either the Nine Hells or any of the celestial planes (Solars, Devas, Archons...these are what you're looking for).

By MM5 rules racial spellcasting is an Ex ability. PlanShep grants you the Ex (and everything else) of your native Outsider forms.

Congrats, you've got Bard, Sorcerer, and Cleric lists at your behest. Plus Druid.

And that's at level 14.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Classes only. No items. Also, the character does not have the progressions at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2017 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry about the items. You didn't clarify that in your original post, just asked if you could do it in 20 levels. Also (assuming items for the moment)...one of the higher-end angelic/deva forms grants 9th lvl Bard and Cleric at the same time, which combined with your Druid levels would mean full 9ths on three progressions by level 16. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Oct 26, 2017 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why does one need two skins of Kaletor? (Also, the // notation is usually reserved for gestalt classes; / is used for regular multiclassing, even if prestige classes are involved.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2017 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Didn't mean to paste The Skin of Kaltor twice. Also, good point about the slashes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Nov 6, 2017 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Bards don't get ninth level spells. While the Solar does cast as a cleric with access to 9th level spells, and Great Wyrm dragons of a select few varieties cast spells as a 17th level sorcerer, I am unaware of any monster that casts as a 17+th level druid, let alone a planar attunement that gets you access to 9th level cleric, sorcerer and druid spells. If you can find a planar attunement with clear access to the monsters needed to do this, or even just a monster with access to 9th level spells as something other than a cleric or sorcerer, that would make this a lot better. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2017 at 21:59

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