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I will be playing an arcane spellcaster (most likely a PF Arcanist) in my next game and my goal is to make a character that specializes in magically cross-breeding species, creating creatures that are part-something and part-something-else on the fly, summoning cthulu-esque monsters instead of regular outsiders, while also being able to curse enemies with mutations. My ideal endgame goal would be to create a chimeric mount with features of multiple species chosen by me, and to mutate my familiar into whatever I see fit.

As far as storytelling goes GM is sold on that concept, but as far as game mechanics go we have no idea how to even approach this character.

So my question is: what are my options? Are there any feats, prestige classes, spells, skills, anything official that will allow me to do the above?

Key Point: it still has to be a fully-fledged arcane spellcaster. Giving up level 9 spells is a no-go.

If there is no official material from D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder 1, I will be more than happy to accept answers from other editions - it's easy enough to translate and having something is better than nothing.

The only thing that I managed to find is the Alienist Prestige Class, which is utter garbage: basically the only thing it does is change my summons to have the alien template instead of the outsider one, so there are no benefits worth the price of picking this Prestige Class. It has to be something at least worth losing the Arcanist specific feats and giving up the Arcanist level 20 feature.

I’m kinda hoping for something like "crafting" where he could permanently create creatures that will serve and follow him (like it's the case with crafting a golem for example). The Summoner's Eidolon (as an ability) mentioned in an answer below is actually a good idea but the class itself is not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may also be interested in this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 16 '19 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly not at all. I'm not interested in self-modifications. I'm interested in changing others, creating disfigured monsters specifically tailored for different tasks or just powerfull mutants that possess strong abilities of other creatures combined in one body. \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Oct 16 '19 at 21:41
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Life Shaping

Life Shaping is an ancient set of techniques from the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, unique to Athas.

Fortunately, there is official 3.5 content for Dark Sun (official as in WotC says it is official), including a complete treatment on Life Shaping complete with prestige classes, feats, skills, items, and a rules framework.

Life Shaping allows you to create grafts, living items, even completely new creatures. It is also the only way I am aware of to make living creatures masterwork. In any case, adding features to creatures, or mixing and matching traits and abilities are definitely on the table.

Be sure to check out the Lost Clans sidebar, for methods of learning it without the racial or setting restrictions.

You can find the Life Shaping Handbook on Athas.org, the WotC designated official host for all 3.5 Dark Sun materials.


I am only mentioning the next option for completeness sake, but the Sarrukh's Manipulate Form ability from Forgotten Realms Serpent Kingdoms can also accomplish similar things, but for the record, it is horribly written and not well defined plus has picky limitations - most DMs would not allow it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is as good of an answer as it can be. In fact I didn't expect solution so perfect as You provided. I don't remember ever reading about Dark Sun setting nor did I know of Athas'org sourcebooks (even though I'm quite sure I have memorized every DnD rulebook title in existence more or less, at least official ones). You sir are a true hero here, thank You very much! \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Oct 17 '19 at 2:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are most welcome! d(^-° ) \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Oct 17 '19 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Unfortunately, athas.org’s Life-Shaping Handbook is very poorly designed, and absurdly imbalanced. See this review for details. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 17 '19 at 19:14
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Fleshwarper

The fleshwarper prestige class from Lords of Madness is everything you want.

  • It requires the Graft Flesh feat found in the same book (as well as in Book of Vile Darkness, Fiend Folio, and Libris Mortis, which each have additional grafts that may be of interest).

  • Grafts can be applied to anyone willing to sit through the procedure.

  • It expands on the features of Graft Flesh, allowing you to add a greater variety of grafts to creatures.

  • It provides as “graft reserve,” which is a pool of points you can use instead of XP when producing grafts. If playing in a more Pathfinder-based ruleset that doesn’t use XP costs for crafting (and thus grafting), allowing these points to offset the gp costs of grafting makes sense.

  • You do apply some of your fleshwarping know-how to yourself, but “in a subtle, minor way.” Some of the options aren’t really subtle (e.g. one where you become “partially amorphous”), but plenty are (e.g. immunities to sonic damage or disease, bonus on Will saves or initiative, etc.).

  • It progresses spellcasting on all levels except 1st, so that will not endanger your 9th-level spells.

  • Its levels stack for your familiar’s progression, and it grants special “aberrant” features to your familiar. Your familiar can also be a target for grafts and also polymorph magic.

It literally could not be more perfect for you. A favorite character of mine was an arcane hierophant/fleshwarper, so that my druid animal companion was also my aberrant familiar, and made for a great mount—not a bad idea if you have some flexibility. Using Improved Familiar works too, obviously.

This resource is excellent for finding all the grafting-related options out there (though it is not as helpful as it could be for indicating which ones are best to actually use).

Note that there are actually two sorts of grafts, the ones created with the Graft Flesh feat, and the later ones that are created with their own separate feats (Construct Grafter from Faiths of Eberron, Deathless Fleshgrafter, Eldeen Plantgrafter, and Elemental Grafter from Magic of Eberron, Wyrmgrafter in Races of the Dragon). The two systems are completely separate, so a fleshwarper doesn’t have any particular affinity for the new-style grafts, but you could still take those feats to expand on your graft usage.

Finally, I would point out that symbionts, found mostly in Fiend Folio, Eberron Campaign Setting, and Magic of Eberron, seem tangentially related to what you want to do. Magic of Eberron has a race, daelkyr half-blood, that comes with a free one, and also a prestige class, impure prince, that specializes in them. Introducing a dip of impure prince to your fleshwarper might be very useful.

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First of all, the Alienist is actually a solid prestige class. It doesn't offer anything exciting, but it also doesn't cost you much - it gives full spellcasting advancement, and the only non-fluff requirements are ranks in a useful skill, knowing a spell you'll be using anyway, and taking a feat that you'd probably want anyway. Really the only problem it has is the opportunity cost of not taking a stronger prestige class. If you don't like it though, I can think of a couple of other options...

Pathfinder: Summoner

The Summoner doesn't really have much ability to curse enemies but does the rest of what you want pretty well, letting you summon a monster with any combination of limbs and abilities that you can improve or change every time you level up.

Normally the Summoner can only have a single eidolon at a time. If you want more than one, you can also look into the Broodmaster archetype.

Note, however, that the Summoner tends to be considered one of the more easily breakable classes. While it doesn't have the same upper limit that the full casters do, it's much harder to play one badly, so if your group doesn't tend to play high-power characters then you might have a hard time not outshining them. There is an unchained version that tones down its power level, but it's also much more restricted in what forms the eidolon is allowed to take, so if that's an issue you may want to discuss a compromise of some sort with your GM.

3.5E: Binder [Tome of Magic]

While it's not an arcane spellcaster per se, the Binder has access to many of the same abilities via their vestiges. The one your character would be most interested in is Zceryll, the Star Spawn, which among other things lets you summon a monster with the Pseudonatural template once every 5 rounds, similar to the Alienist.

If arcane spellcasting is crucial to your concept, you can take the Anima Mage prestige class (also from Tome of Magic) for the best of both worlds.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I might have failed to mention that my base class is PF Arcanist. Which means by taking Alienist I loose hell of a lot more than I gain. Binder is entirelly different magic type so it doesn't fulfill the role of "scientist-mage started experimenting on living creatures". The most interesting thing You put here is Summoner's Eidolon and that actually does what I need. Sadly it's so built-in in the class that taking 1 level for the sake od Eidolon won't give me anything at all. On top of that summoner progression stops at 6th level spells which means his about as much of a spellcaster as bard. \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Oct 16 '19 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ The (chained) Summoner actually gets a lot of spells at lower levels than other classes, along with all of the Summon Monster spells and Gate as a class feature. Still not quite on par with the true full casters, but definitely a step above the Bard. But yeah, if you're already set on a specific base class that's going to limit your options a lot more unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ – John Montgomery Oct 16 '19 at 23:40
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Craft Construct

The Craft Construct feat seems like a good place to start. Although constructs are often animated materials like Stone and Iron Golems, there are also biological constructs like Homunculi and Flesh Golems. The link includes several rules on modifying the capabilities of the creatures that you create, such as adding darkvision or the ability to spit poison. Your DM can use these rules as a basis to homebrew additional options.

Note that crafting constructs is often very expensive, especially if you need to occasionally replace constructs that are destroyed in combat. You and your DM might discuss ways to mitigate these costs through homebrewing, particularly if you're willing to give up other abilities your character might normally possess.

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