Say a wizard has a major bloodline. Is their maximum level wizard-17/bloodline-3(in which case they only have 17 HDs), or wizard-20/bloodline-3 (in which case their total caster level is 23)?

This isn't so much about if bloodline increases ECL for the purpose of XP requirements (that's been answered) as it is if bloodline-granted ECL results in fewer class levels.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So I feel like we need more details, because the question is kind of confusing me. Is the question “I have been told by the DM to produce a 20th-level character; does having a bloodline mean I’m a 17th-level wizard/bloodline 3?” Or is it something like “We’re playing in a non-epic game, will I stop gaining levels once I’m a 17th-level wizard with a bloodline?” Or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 6 '19 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do those questions have different answers? I was basically asking for both situations because I thought they would be effectively the same. If they're not, then the situation I'm wondering about is indeed "for a non-epic game, will having a major bloodline cause me to be unable to reach wizard 18, and if not, then will it result in having a higher final caster level than a non-bloodline wizard of character level 20?" \$\endgroup\$ – 47948201 Nov 6 '19 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK; there’s still some confusion there, but I think it’s better to address it with an answer than to keep this closed. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 6 '19 at 3:39

Bloodlines are class levels and count towards your ECL. That means if you have 3 levels’ worth of bloodline, to reach your 18th level in wizard, you would need ECL 21st—which per Dungeon Master’s Guide page 206, you can get by reaching 210,000 XP. However, if your game is described by your DM as “non-epic,” this most likely means that no amount of XP is sufficient to reach ECL 21st—in which case you would never be able to reach wizard 18th while simultaneously having three levels’ of bloodline.

For what it’s worth, in my experience, precisely this rule, eliminating ECL 21st altogether, is extremely common, and also, for me, highly recommended. Actually, I strongly recommend not getting anywhere near 21st—the game breaks down long before then. Can happen as early as 7th level, in fact.

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