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At 1st level, a Cleric and a Paladin gain an Aura which can be detected via the relevant Detect [Alignment] spell.

Looking at a variety of Prestige Classes advancing Divine spellcasting, however, I found no mention of specifically increasing the power of this Aura. Even obvious examples which thematically seem like they should increase the power of this Aura are not noted to:

  • Contemplative (Complete Divine, p. 30), who "devote their lives to cultivating a greater closeness with their deities",
  • Radiant Servant of Pelor (Complete Divine, p. 52), who has both Radiance and Aura (of Warding).

It seems therefore possible to take a single level of Cleric, then advance spellcasting via Prestige Classes, and have 9th level Cleric spells while still only registering only a Moderate Aura when a 5th level Cleric would already register with a Strong Aura.

Did I miss any rule specifying that Prestige Class levels augmenting a Cleric would count toward Cleric levels as pertain the Detect [Alignment] line of spells?

I checked both the Cleric entry and the generic Prestige Classes section of both the SRD and Complete Divine without finding any such thing.

Otherwise, would following the Caster Level scaling of items and spells for the character make sense?

Or has anyone implemented a house rule for this?


Note: There is a very cool effect that characters exuding an Overwhelming Aura can pull off, they can stun anyone casting the appropriate Detect [Alignment] who has too few character levels (not HDs). Otherwise, a stronger aura is mostly a liability.

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Prestige classes don't stack for aura strength by default...

The Cleric's Aura class feature refers to the Detect Evil spell when describing the details of aura strength, and the relevant entry there says:

Cleric of an evil deity2 (class levels)

2 Some characters who are not clerics may radiate an aura of equivalent power. The class description will indicate whether this applies.

So, aura strength is determined by Cleric class levels, not character level, and classes other than Cleric will indicate if they count. Thus, if your prestige class advances your Cleric spellcasting, but doesn't say anything about your aura, only your Cleric levels will count when determining aura strength.

...but some prestige classes do advance aura strength, because they say so.

Some prestige classes do advance your aura strength, but only because they specifically say they do. For instance, a Blackguard has the "Aura of Evil" class feature, which says:

The power of a blackguard’s aura of evil (see the detect evil spell) is equal to his class level plus his cleric level, if any.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah! Somehow I had missed the footnote. I am surprised, still, as it seems to be a relatively rare feature. I somehow managed to dug up the Triadic Knight (a Paladin in all but names), Divine Crusader (another Paladin) and Soulborn (Magic of Incarnum) but it appears that many prestige classes that are similar to Cleric simply do not count. Unearthed Arcana failed to give an Aura of Good to the Prestige Paladin class, for example. I wonder if this is a clerical error... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm definitely not sure what the line of thought behind some of the aura advancement decisions was. Knight of the Pearl (Stormwrack p. 52), for instance, advances aura strength for Paladins, but not for Clerics, and then in the very same sentence and same class feature goes on to advance Turn Undead for both Paladins and Clerics. Huh? \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ This might just be my irrilelevant opinion, but since the aura has little mechanical weight (there aren't many occasions when it's useful/bothersome, it's more of a fluff thing) I think the game designers forgot about it most of the time. That edition was written in a great rush, publishing a ton of manuals in a few years, it's full of bugs, contradictions and untested material, so it's likely that remembering or forgetting about the aura was up to the single game designer that wrote the PrC. I'd suggest to ask the DM, for the motives you pointed out in the original post. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5 at 7:03

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