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So, I am in a rather complex build, and I'd like to be able to enter the Evangelist PrC at ECL 4. Current build is thus:

Graveknight 2 (template CR is being treated as class levels in this game)/Swashbuckler 11 // Fiery Creature 1 (also template)/Dread x/Evangelist

Starting ECL for the game is 13, and I'd like to hit the 3rd level boons from Evangelist by the start for major roleplay/character history reasons. This means I have to get into Evangelist no later than ECL 4.

There are three entry methods on the flexible part of the class, of which I have to meet at least one:

  1. BAB +5

  2. 5 ranks in any skill that's not Knowledge (Religion).

  3. Ability to cast 3rd lvl spells (in this game, psionics count too).

Now, I had a viable build, but the DM ruled that SLAs and PLAs do not count for the entry (although Pathfinder's Development Team did rule that they do count in June of 2013). DM has also ruled it cannot be directly from an item (such as Prayer Beads of Healing).

So, is there a way I can make this build work with early entry?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ SLA only count if they are specific, like requiring to cast darkness and you have darkness as SLA. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jan 18 '18 at 9:25
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Evangelist is quite obviously designed so you can't get it before lvl 5. For this reason my first advice is: don't do it.

If you really want to do it, here are a few methods, more or less sorted from the most legit one to the worst:

  • Write your background as if you had your Evangelist levels sooner than what the rules states. The DM will probably accept it as it doesn't change the state of your character during the actual game.

(here start the options I don't recommend)

  • Use negative templates, like young or Vampire Spawn, Repeatedly Drained so you can take more class levels in parallel.

  • Have a Bard buddy who inspire greatness on you, so you are considered more HD than you should, and can temporarily get more ranks for example with a headband of mental superiority.

  • Hope your DM doesn't know about this errata and cheat with retraining to get what you want.

  • Convince somehow your DM to let you get mythic ranks instead of levels (you can already take templates so it could be possible). Get one level in Magus(Mindblade) and one mythic tier in Archmage. Select Arcane Surge as an Archmage arcana:

As a swift action, you can expend one use of mythic power to cast any one arcane spell without expending a prepared spell or spell slot. If you prepare spells, this spell must be one you prepared today (even if you have already cast it); if you’re a spontaneous caster, this spell must be one of your spells known.(...)

Then write some 3rd-level spells into your Magus' spellbook. Due to the way the Mindblade archetype is worded the spellbook feature of the Magus still exists. You don't get 3rd slots but that's not a problem: because of the Arcane Surge wording you only need to know it (and spend a mythic point) to cast it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '18 at 17:47
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You cannot gain early access.

The primary isssue is a general rule about skill ranks that limit the number of ranks you can have on a skill:

You can never have more ranks in a skill than your total number of Hit Dice.

For any skill ranks granting item or ability to ignore this, they have to explicitly mention that this limit can be ignored, and none of them say so.

Obtaining BAB +5 suffers a similar issue, as it can only be increased by racial HD or class levels.

So your only option would be to be able to cast 3rd level spells. For this, spell-like abilities should only count if the requirements asked for a spell with the same name as your SLA, like requires to be able to cast darkness (source).

Now, there are ways to increase your spellcaster level, but none of those will let you gain access to 3rd level spells earlier than 5th level.

There was a lengthy discussion about getting early access to the Evangelist back in 2015, which resulted in the FAQ about spell-like abilities not qualifying for requirements like able to cast Xth level spells.

Pathfinder Society

This may or not be your situation. But in Pathfinder Society, the Evangelist has an additional requirement, be a 6th level character:

Prestige Classes: the evangelist, exalted, and sentinel prestige classes are legal for play. The evangelist prestige class may not be taken as an option until 6th level. The sentinel's righteous leader class feature is replaced with a deity specific feat of the player's choice from pages 204–217 or the Persuasive feat;

From the history of all issues with early prestige classes, mainly due to Mystic Theurges and Aasimars, they decided to add that additional requirement.

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Spellcasting Early Entry

You can't feasibly spoof the skill ranks or base attack bonuses, so we're going to have to use spell levels to make it work. In order to achieve the 3rd-level spells requirement, we can use the Equipment Trick (sunrod) feat. This requires 3 levels in a prepared spellcasting full 9s class (or some other way to cast an appropriate spell). In particular, we want to use this effect:

Like the Sun (ability to cast any spell with the light descriptor): You can use a sunrod as an additional material component for any spell that bears the light descriptor. The spell is treated as one spell level higher (to a maximum of 9th level) for all purposes, including the calculation of saving throw DCs and its ability to overcome sources of magical darkness.

By using this with a normally 2nd-level spell (burst of radiance will do for all of the core 9-casters), you can cast it as a 3rd-level spell for all purposes, which would include a requirement of the "ability to cast 3rd-level spells."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For heighten to work, you still need to be able to cast 3rd level spells, as in, have 3rd level spell slots. If you increase the spell level, and then reduce the spell level using metamagics or traits, the result is the same spell level (2nd). \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jan 18 '18 at 10:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Equipment trick is known to not work either, because the spell is merely being treated as 3rd level, you cannot cast 3rd level spells yet. Being able to cast a specific spell does not let you qualify for that type of requirement (like SLAs). See the discussion about this on the rules forums at paizo.com. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jan 18 '18 at 10:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Is there any official weight in that discussion? It seems like a bunch of "here's my opinion" back-and-forth. Yet, we can validly say the person has the ability to cast a third-level spell. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '18 at 11:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you read the quote from Equipment Trick strictly ("one spell level higher (to a maximum of 9th level) for all purposes") then it means that for all purposes you also would require a 3rd level slot to cast a 2nd level spell enhanced by a sunrod. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jan 18 '18 at 11:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant FAQ about Heighten Spell. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jan 18 '18 at 11:32
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Use a Spindle of Perfect Knowledge

The Spindle of Perfect Knowledge minor artifact grants 5 skill ranks in two random knowledge skills. At least one of these, then, will not be Knowledge(religion), and the rules explicitly allow points gained this way to let you qualify for stuff after 24 hours (just as with a headband of mental superiority). This item, then, will let you access the class early (as early as your 2nd level, in fact).

The trick, of course, is acquiring a minor artifact, even if just for 24 hours, at such a low level. You can force access via the Black Market Connections rogue talent with a good enough Diplomacy check, and you can get access to Black Market Connections via a roll of 26 on the second method of generation for ioun stone resonant powers, but it sounds like getting access is something you'd want to do in backstory and it's unclear how your group is handling that aspect of things. Possibly you can just write the item into and out of your backstory. Possibly you won't be allowed it until the start of play.

Your only other option is to somehow get 5th level spellcasting at level 3, which, as you can imagine, is no small task. It's possible to boost things a bit in various ways, but certainly not with your build. This makes the spindle pretty much your only option.


Objection 1: But it can't give you skill ranks! That's way too good. Don't the rules say you can't get more ranks in a skill than your Hit Dice?

Yes, the general rule for gaining skill ranks and spending skill points limits you to your HD in ranks. No, that doesn't have anything to do with how this item works. Pathfinder is an exception-based system, aka "specific beats general". When the spindle, or anything else, tells you you get skill ranks, that's overriding the general rules for gaining skill ranks. This makes the general rule all but entirely ineffectual. General rules like the limit on having ranks in a skill greater than one's level are generally intended to be descriptive in an exception-based system, rather than prescriptive-- they tell you about how the system works rather than making it work that way. In a strict RAW sense, they often have prescriptive side-effects, but they are more useful in explaining how things are generally supposed to go than anything else.

In any case, this isn't an edge case or anything. The spindle clearly gives you 5 skill ranks in two discrete skills, and in doing so bypasses the general rule on skill ranks. Furthermore, the spindle is a minor artifact. It may look tame, but +5 skill ranks that can exceed your level cap and stack with ranks you already possess is actually a really huge deal, which is appropriate to a minor artifact. The rest of its abilities (a headband of mental superiority +4 and a helm of telepathy) are merely equivalent to an item worth ~500,000 gp. The +5 ranks breaking the game is not "too good" for an item that's supposed to be on par with the deck of many things and the book of infinite spells. It's only a problem because, as a random ioun stone with no immediately shocking or apparently powerful powers at cursory inspection by more novice players, your GM might actually let you have one.

Objection 2: Black Market Connections is a rogue ability. Surely that means it must be terrible and only give you access to items with fixed prices, yes? And that excludes artifacts like the spindle.

No. That's really not how this works. Black Market Connections doesn't care about or affect the prices of any items. It just says that when you go to a settlement there's rarer/more powerful stuff than usual available somewhere in that settlement. The highest level of success specifies that all magic items (which obviously includes the spindle, it being an ioun stone) are available. No price is given, and there's no need for the items to be for sale to the PCs for gold, but some sort of opportunity or availability must be presented to the character if they're looking for one, if the ability is functioning according to its text. It's certainly reasonable to house-rule away (or change the system for) Black Market Connections' unique ability to grant player-driven access to artifacts, but we need to take things at face value when giving optimizaion advice, unless there's reason to do otherwise.

Objection 3: But isn't this like giving a two-handed person three one-handed weapons? That doesn't magically let them use all three. In the same way, the spindle doesn't give you the ability to have the skill ranks it gives you, right?

No. A one-handed weapon grants you no ability to make attacks unless you wield it. If a weapon did specify something like "As long as you have this weapon, you gain the ability to make attacks with it as if you were wielding it in one hand", then you would be able to use it even with two other normal one-handed weapons. No weapons actually do that, for obvious reasons, but they could and the general rule about having to use hands to wield one-handed weapons would not apply.

In fact, the specific text for each weapon is very light. It usually includes details as to what damage the weapon does, what general weapon properties it has, any special rules about the weapon, and a brief description of its construction and/or use. This makes sense! The rules already provide a general framework for how things work so talking about, for example, how making an attack works or how handedness works with a weapon's description is likely to result in that weapon working really weird under the RAW, since those rules would override the general rules wherever they might come into conflict, which might happen in ways the authors didn't expect.

Magic items, however, are much more liberal in terms of general rule violations. The text limiting skill ranks says:

Acquiring Skills

Each level, your character gains a number of skill ranks dependent upon your class plus your Intelligence modifier. Investing a rank in a skill represents a measure of training in that skill. You can never have more ranks in a skill than your total number of Hit Dice. In addition, each class has a number of favored skills, called class skills. It is easier for your character to become more proficient in these skills, as they represent part of his professional training and constant practice. You gain a +3 bonus on all class skills that you put ranks into. If you have more than one class and both grant you a class skill bonus, these bonuses do not stack.

So, there're two things to note here. First of all, the rule isn't talking about methods of gaining skill ranks besides investing skill points. That's because this rule isn't even intended to stop magic items from giving you skill ranks; that's not the point. The point is to make sure you can't get skill ranks from levelling. The second is that "you gain X skill ranks" does clearly contravene this rule from a strict RAW perspective inasmuch as it applies to such effects (which it does in a strict RAW game, but doesn't if we take designer intent into account). That is, the general rule doesn't say something like "if you would gain more skill ranks than this limit from any source, then..." or "when something grants you skill ranks, if they would cause you to have more than this then..." or whatever. It just says you can't have it and the spindle says you do have it, so you do.

Additionally, we can see implications that the designers were aware of the dangers of adding skill ranks from the way other, non-artifact, rank-boosting items are handled. The various int-boosting headbands give you skill ranks instead of the points you'd normally get from that intelligence increase, because they didn't want you taking them off and on again, but that meant to make sure they didn't let you exceed the cap the item needed to specify that these ranks didn't stack with any that you might already possess.

This contrasts with the Spindle of Perfect Knowledge, which also gives you ranks as per such an item, but gives you, in addition, 5 extra ranks without the no-stacking limitation and without any inherent tie to your hit dice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have citation you can add to back up that "you gain +5 skill ranks" overrides "you can't have more than your HD in ranks"? I do not see that the first can override the second, and I do not see the specific-beats-general rule as applying here (the +5 is on a more specific feature, but it's not doing anything to try to override the general rule). I could be level 10, and get +5 skill ranks in a skill that only had 1 rank. I could also get +5 skill ranks to a skill where I had 9 ranks, and the general rule might tell me it only goes up to 10 since it can't go up the full +5. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '18 at 12:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It does but it shouldn't because that's nuts and breaks the game is a reasonable response to the spindle… which is why artifacts are generally placed by the GM. Although this GM finds the use here of black market connections suspect—with it a rogue that succeeds on a Diplomacy skill check (DC 25) can make all magic items available for sale in a metropolis yet the spindle is literally priceless—, the basic idea of write that you once wore a spindle into your background is solid if the GM allows weaponizing a character's background to such a degree. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 18 '18 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener what do you mean by 'it's not doing anything to try to override the general rule'? I'm not sure how "you get +5 skill ranks" can any more clearly override "you can't get any more skill ranks". General rules don't modify specific exceptions; it's the other way around? The item would need to say 'this can't let you exceed your normal skill rank maximums' if it wanted to not exempt itself from the normal maximums. Technically it would also need to specify you can get a partial bonus in some way to work the way you are suggesting; +5 ranks is not +1 rank five times. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 18 '18 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer In the sense that if you have two hands, and I give you three one-handed swords, you don't magically get to hold a third sword in an extra hand? Am I missing that this is just how Pathfinder does it when it comes to +skill ranks? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 18 '18 at 22:56
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There is an human alternate racial trait in Pathfinder Player Companion: Legacy of the First World called imposter wary. it replaces skilled and you get a free rank in sense motive at 1rst and every level after. If you put a skill point into sense motive every level you can have a rank 5 skill a 3rd level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How does that get around the rules saying that you can't have more ranks in a skill than your character level? It would give you a free rank at 1st level, but you couldn't put one of your normal skill ranks in until level 2. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jul 8 '18 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage is right, this would give the character more ranks to spend, but they are still limited to their HD ranks in any one skill. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jul 8 '18 at 22:37

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