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A staple of high-level characters in D&D is boosting their abilities with inherent bonuses; up to +5 for each ability.

There are essential two methods of obtaining those bonuses:

  1. The Manuals and Tomes; a Manual of Bodily Health +5 costs 137,500 gp.
  2. Wish spells cast in immediate succession; 5 Wish spells in immediate succession cost 25k XP to the caster1.

There are various dubious methods which can be found on the Internet, such as using distilled joy or liquid pain to offset the XP cost or conjuring Effreti and milking them off their Wishes. Such methods generally rely on a push-over of a Dungeon Master2.

Baring a push-over of a Dungeon Master, what is the cheapest way of gaining Inherent bonuses?


1 Hiring a spellcaster to cast Wish costs 26,530 gp = 17 (CL) * 90 gp (9th-level) + 5 gp/XP * 5,000 XP, for a total of 132,650 gp for +5; though as per the rules of goods and services even a metropolis is not guaranteed to have a spellcaster able to cast 9th-level spells. Also, it seems that a spellcaster with 25k leftover XP, and thus a 25+ level spellcaster dabling with Epic spells, is unlikely to be moved much by a mere offer of 130k gp.

2 Where push-over is defined as giving an advantage to PCs that its own NPCs are denied. For example, if the PCs use Effreti to get free Wishes, then there should be no reason that affluent NPCs would not also use Effreti to get free Wishes. Or if Liquid Pain is on the table, then clearly Evil NPCs would use Liquid Pain to achieve their objectives, ... As a result, answers should attempt to limit DM's intervention as much as possible, knowing that anything the DM allows for the PC may be allowed for their foes going forward (if the DM doesn't outright refuse).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To move the discussion along, I added the minimum cost method I know of. I am hoping though to discover cheaper methods! \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 13 '18 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just an aside: For your footnote 2, it's worse than that: "If the additional costs put the spell’s total cost above 3,000 gp, that spell is not generally available, except by the DM’s permission" (PH 129 and, coincidentally, in footnote 2). \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 13 '18 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: Another excellent point about the general impossibility of buying a casting of Wish. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 13 '18 at 20:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don’t know how this is possibly answerable: everyone’s idea of what constitutes a “push-over” DM is going to vary, and I see no conceivable way to nail that down. Reading this question I have no idea what approaches may or may not be allowed, which prevents any attempt at optimization. This isn’t “what is the cheapest way?” it’s “what is the cheapest that I personally would allow?” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 13 '18 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: That's harsh :( I understand that the limit is subjective, which is why I detailed that by push-over I specifically meant that any method of cheaply acquiring Wishes would have far-reaching consequences on the shape of the world, and gave the example of summoning Effreti as such a cheap method. You are right that the answer I ultimately select will reflect my own limits, that's unavoidable, however much like other answerers may have different limits, so will other voters, so that ultimately the most upvoted answer could be consider the community "best bet". \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 13 '18 at 20:27
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The cheapest way I know of involves using the Twin Spell (+4) and Repeat Spell (+3) metamagic feats to gain 4 times the effect of a single Wish spell for the cost of 1.

It clocks in at 25,955 gp for +4 Inherent Bonus to a single ability or 50,955 gp for +5 Inherent Bonus. Respectively costing 24% and 38% of regular Wish usage.


Unfortunately, applying metamagic feats on 9th-level spells is complicated, so metamagic reducers or cooperation is necessary:

  • An Incantatrix 2 can apply both metamagic feats on the fly, while the spellcaster casts the spell.
  • An Incantatrix 2 can apply one metamagic feat on the fly, while the spellcaster casts the spell with a metamagic rod to apply the other.
  • ...

Thus, the party Wizard 17 could cast Wish using a Greater Rod of Repeat Spell, expending a reasonable 5k XP, and hire an Incantatrix 2 to apply Twin Spell for them:

  • A Greater Rod of Repeat Spell costs 121,500 gp, which is easily amortized across the whole party.
  • The most straightforward entry for an Incantatrix 2 is Wizard 5/Incantatrix 2, or a 7th level spellcaster. A 4th-level spell would cost 280 gp, which seems a reasonable price since Cooperative Metamagic does not expand any resource.
  • The difficulty is succeeding on a Spellcraft check DC \$66 = 18 + 3 \times \left(9 + 4 + 3\right)\$ which requires minimum expenditure 675 gp1.

All in all, assuming conservatively that each of the 4 party members raise only 2 abilities each, and therefore the rod is used 8 times before being sold again, each ability costs:

  • Wizard XP: 5k.
  • Part of Rod cost: 7,594 gp (Repeat) or 10,065 gp (Twin).
  • Incantatrix cooperation: 280 gp.
  • Scrolls: 675 gp.

This gives us the following costs:

     +-----------+------------+------------+
     | No Rod    | Repeat Rod |  Twin Rod  |
+----+-----------+------------+------------+
| +4 | 25,955 gp |  33,549 gp |  36,580 gp |
+----+-----------+------------+------------+
| +5 | 50,955 gp |  58,549 gp |  61,580 gp |
+----+-----------+------------+------------+

1In detail:

  • Guidance of the Avatar (Cleric 2, CL 3, Spellbook Archive): +20 Competence. Cost of scroll: 150 gp.
  • Divine Insight (Cleric 2, CL 10, Spell Compendium, p. 70): +15 Insight. Cost of scroll: 500 gp.
  • Skillful Moment (Sor/Wiz 1, CL 1, Dragon #350, p. 78): take 20 on roll. Cost of scroll: 25 gp.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I figure you already mathed this out, so the prestige class spelldancer (Magic of Faerûn 37) must be harder to use than incantatrix? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 13 '18 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: I assume you refer to the Spelldance (Su) ability, which allows the Spelldancer to dance to offset the cost of applying metamagic feats? In this case I ruled it out for availability reasons, rather than cost. That is, a Wizard 16/Spelldancer 1 could indeed easily cast Wish, but it requires either a PC taking a level of Spelldancer (with its terrible requirements) or buying a 9th-level casting at the discretion of the DM. It may otherwise end up slightly cheaper. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 13 '18 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: Similarly, a more cooperative Incantatrix, knowing both Twin Spell and Repeat Spell, would reduce the cost by ~7,000 gp (no need for a Rod); however would be slightly more difficult to find than one with just Twin Spell (or just Repeat Spell). \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 13 '18 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please do not misuse code formatting for non-code text. Please see this meta discussion for more on the harms that causes and the options available to you in lieu of code formatting. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 13 '18 at 20:16

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