My PC is a tiefling fighter 16 (hence ECL 17) that wants to enter the prestige class legendary dreadnought (Epic Level Handbook 33–4). However, standing in my PC's way is the prestige class's requirement of a base attack bonus of +23.

Is there any way for my PC to start taking levels in this prestige class prior to epic levels? Or even just earlier than character level 23?

For instance, I've read suggestions that say spells like the 4th-level Clr spell divine power [evoc] (Player's Handbook 224) and the 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell Tenser's transformation [trans] (PH 294) might be useful for meeting this requirement. Are those suggestions accurate?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Zhu'ad and welcome to RPG Stack Exchange. I suggest you starting with our tour to earn a nice badge and see how this community works. Your question is a bit unclear, we don't know exactly what do you want to know. RPG.se isn't for discussion or opinions on builds; if you have a clear question we will try to provide you a direct answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 4:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hope it's okay that I just totally rewrote this question. I tried to preserve the information from the original while making the request crystal clear. If the question's not asking anymore what you want answered, please, roll back the question or edit it more. Thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ (The premium edition Player's Handbook (2012) stealth erratas the spells divine power and Tenser's transformation so that those are no longer options—see this question and this question.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


After 20th level, you no longer gain base attack bonus, but rather epic attack bonus. This counts as base attack bonus for prerequisites, but all classes get the same epic attack bonuses: +1 at each odd level. So getting to +23 would require 25th level. With divine power or Tenser’s transformation setting your BAB to your character level, you could get it at 23rd instead. And prerequisites don’t care how you meet them, so the fact that this spell will wear off doesn’t actually matter.

But in order for this to actually work, you have to level up while one of these spells is actually active, so that when you make your choice of class for the next level, you have the BAB you need. Since these spells last for rather short amounts of time, that’s basically impossible barring the DM outright assisting you with the matter. However, if you manage to increase their duration—say, use Complete Divine’s Divine Metamagic feat to apply the Persistent Spell metamagic feat to your divine power so it lasts 24 hours—this process becomes a lot more plausible. It’s not impossible to imagine casting persistent divine power every 12 hours to guarantee you have the BAB you need 100% of the time. And once you have taken your 1st level of the prestige class, officially you are forevermore entitled to its benefits and to continue taking levels of it, even if divine power wears off and you no longer have BAB +23.

Beyond that, it’s extremely dodgy, but in theory divine power or Tenser’s transformation combined with a friendly bard’s inspire greatness would allow those spells to set your BAB to +23 at 21st level. And you can ensure you level up during this effect if the bard is a construct or undead, since those do not get tired and do not need to sleep, so they can play inspire greatness indefinitely.

For that to work, though, the two bonus HD from inspire greatness need to count as part of your “character level,” which unfortunately they probably don’t, at least for prestige classes, since the prestige class rules define character level as

Character Level: The total level of the character, which is the sum of all class levels held by that character.

Since inspire greatness offers HD, but not class levels, and this is probably the most-relevant definition, this probably doesn’t work. But the term effective character level is defined by the monsters-as-races rules to include HD:

Level Adjustment and Effective Character Level: To determine the effective character level (ECL) of a monster character, add its level adjustment to its racial Hit Dice and character class levels.

This is the definition more commonly used, but strictly speaking it’s probably the wrong one here. Also, there would be that quibble with “racial” HD, though I don’t think that’s a particularly fruitful line of argumentation.

Anyway, I don’t believe other effects like inspire greatness are available that could push this to earlier than 20th. Even if you could, Epic Level Handbook specifies that

[epic prestige classes] are classes that characters cannot pursue until they have already become epic characters in some other fashion,

so even if you have the BAB +23 you need some way around that, which is much harder. Even dragons—which Draconomicon allows to take epic feats even if they aren’t epic once they have reached old age—don’t have an exception for that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify the rules mechanics behind "divine power... setting your BAB to your character level" accepted as qualification for a prestige class? These spells last for one round/level; what happens when they wear off? Is this Rules As Written, or merely your preferred house rule? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB Good point; yes, this answer assumes you somehow level up during the effect of these spells. Which is a lot more reasonable if, say, you have Divine Metamagic and Persist Spell so you can cast divine power with a 24-hour duration. If you level up during the spell, your BAB is what the spell says it is, though, so you qualify for the prestige class—that much, at least, is pretty straightforward RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB Added explanations to my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 18:27

It sounds like you're asking how to reach BAB 23, given that the Fighter class progression only goes to BAB 20.

The answer (from here):

...the character’s base attack bonus does not increase after character level reaches 20th. However, the character does receive a cumulative +1 epic bonus on all attacks at every odd-numbered level beyond 20th, as shown on Table: Epic Save and Epic Attack Bonuses. Any time a feat, prestige class, or other rule refers to your base attack bonus (except for gaining additional attacks), use the sum of your base attack bonus and epic attack bonus.

At character level 25, you will have an epic attack bonus of +3. Assuming that your first twenty levels were all in classes that increased your BAB, that will put you at BAB 23 and you will meet the requirement for this class. For this purpose it doesn't matter what your last five levels are -- any levels will increase your epic attack bonus at an equal rate.

There's not really a way to make this happen any faster.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Handling of BAB has been really dodgy between editions too. ELH even seems to imply number of attacks is a function of BAB, right before putting an exception to that. \$\endgroup\$
    – martixy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question literally lists ways of getting it faster, so the statement that there’s no way to do so is particularly absurd. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 16:25

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