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In order to qualify for certain item creation feats you have to have a certain caster level. For example:

Forge Ring [Item Creation]

Prerequisite:

Caster level 12th.

Benefit

You can create any ring whose prerequisites you meet. Crafting a ring takes one day for each 1,000 gp in its base price. To craft a ring, you must spend 1/25 of its base price in XP and use up raw materials costing one-half of its base price.

You can also mend a broken ring if it is one that you could make. Doing so costs half the XP, half the raw materials, and half the time it would take to forge that ring in the first place.

Some magic rings incur extra costs in material components or XP, as noted in their descriptions. You must pay such a cost to forge such a ring or to mend a broken one.

How does this work with multi class characters with caster levels from different sources?

For example a 12th level wizard would be able to take Forge Ring , but what about a wizard 9/sorcerer 3?

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There is nothing to indicate that item crafting is an exception to the common rules for determining caster level. So, in the absence of anything else to modify their caster level(s), a wizard 9/sorcerer 3 has caster level 9 for spells they cast (and items they craft) as a wizard and caster level 3 for spells they cast (and items they craft) as a sorcerer.

However, this also implies that the usual means for boosting caster level (Ioun stones, the Practiced Spellcaster feat, etc.) can apply as long as the source of CL boost doesn't specify that it only applies when casting a spell.

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Caster level refers to caster level in one spellcasting class.

Feat prerequisites are primarily defined as referring to "a class level", not total character level or some combination of class levels. Player's Handbook, p.89, Feat Name, states:

Prerequisite: A minimum ability score, another feat or feats, a minimum base attack bonus, a minimum number of ranks in one or more skills, or a class level that the character must have in order to acquire this feat.

It's possible to assert some ambiguity here: Player's Handbook p.87 allows for qualities other than those listed above, Leadership (originally limited to the Dungeon Master's Guide in 3.0) uses total character level as a prerequisite, and "caster level" for the specific purpose of meeting item creation prerequisites is not explicitly defined.

However, the rules for interpreting ambiguous situations in D&D 3.5 are clear.

Additional inferences

As per the D&D 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide. p.6, Adjudicating, situations not explicitly covered by the rules should be adjudicated based on inferences from similar rules:

Loop to any similar situation that is covered in the rulebook. Try to extrapolate from what you see presented there and apply it to the current circumstance.

Caster level in the context of spellcasting always refers to your caster level a single class, not your total class levels. Player's Handbook p.171, Caster Level, states:

A spell's power often depends on its caster level, which for most spellcasting characters is equal to your class level in the class you're using to cast the spell.

Caster level in the context of magic item caster level for items which replicate a spell always refers to the level in one class, not total classes. Player's Handbook p.88, Item Cost states:

Brew Potion, Craft Wand, and Scribe Scroll create items that directly reproduce spell effects, and the power of these items depends on their caster level—that is, a spell from such an item has the power it would if cast by a spellcaster of that level.

In fact, with the exceptions of unique abilities of certain prestige classes and any mechanics based on total character level, there's no D&D game mechanic in the core rules which allows you to add together levels in multiple casting classes to determine caster level.

Loopholes

The D&D 3.5 FAQ, p.30, notes that caster level can be increased with feats and temporary effects, implying that the Practiced Spellcaster feat would allow a Wiz9/Sor3 to have an effective caster level of 12. Complete Arcane, p.82, gives a similar example which concurs:

For example, a human 5th-level sorcerer/3rd-level fighter who selects this feat would increase his sorcerer caster level from 5th to 8th (since he has 8 Hit Dice).

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    \$\begingroup\$ To make it clear, are you saying Practiced Spellcaster and similar won't help? \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Mar 19 at 20:13

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