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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.

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  • \$\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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 3:39

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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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  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI, I don't know how correct it is, but this answer just got a response. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 27 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Honestly, I don’t know either, which I think itself is a strong case-in-point for why no one should use this variant. My answer was based on QW’s answer to the linked question, which I simply accepted as authoritative for this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 27 at 19:05
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I saw this post in a search and despite the age, I just had to address the misinformation considering its prevalence in Google. KRyan is incorrect, Bloodline levels “do not increase a character's character level the way a normal class level does.” As stated at the end of the first paragraph under Bloodline Levels on page 19. So a Wizard 17/Bloodline 3 is an effective character level 17 and can still get up to Wizard 20 without going epic.

This causes a well known dysfunction as a level 1 wizard with 1000xp can take a bloodline level, however their effective character level does not increase allowing them to level up and take another bloodline level. Repeat until they have all 40ish bloodline levels.

The most common house rules to address this are that A: you can only have one bloodline and B: bloodline levels expend their required experience points like magic item creation.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to cite a source to indicate that Bloodline levels are not character levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Feb 27 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, arguably, you should answer the linked question about bloodlines’ effect on ECL, which is what I based my answer on. Answering this one too (based on your answer to that one) would be reasonable, but your point here is more topical there. I have no horse in this race; I think bloodlines are absolutely awful drivel that absolutely no one should allow in their games under any circumstances. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 27 at 19:04

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