I mean, of course I can do anything the DM allows, etc. But is there a rules-as-written sequence of events that ends with a character with only Ur-Priest levels? I.e. ECL = Ur-Priest class level.

I have been playing with this question as a sort of puzzle for the past few months, and haven’t found anything solid yet. I thought other folks on here might enjoy trying too.

So far, my best attempt relies on humanoid HD and lycanthropy, but I am not convinced that a character can start with a single humanoid HD instead of class levels.

I suspect that any solution will involve losing levels. My default assumption is that the most recently gained level or HD is lost first. There are some exceptions (e.g. werewolf HD on curing lycanthropy, “bonus” HD), but please be sure to explain any reasoning needed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any reason you want to be humanoid? There are plenty of races with a large number of racial HD. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Dec 3, 2019 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel good point, and not as such. I had been thinking of HD and LA as levels though, so should be clarified now. A single humanoid HD was potentially good because gaining any real class level replaces it, which is one of the only ways to take a level off the bottom of the stack. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Dec 3, 2019 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


Bottom line up front: a Chaotic Evil belgoi werebattletitan could take ur-priest levels without any other class levels, and then have lycanthropy cured and the belgoi race changed to another without RHD, to end up as a pure ur-priest, at least through 10th level.

Ur-priest only has 10 levels to it, and even if you make an epic extension of it—as is recommended for 10-level prestige classes—you can’t take the 11th level until you are epic.1 Even a dragonwrought kobold can’t get out of that one, since Draconomicon only waives the 21st-level requirement from epic feats,2 not from other epic options including epic prestige classes. So if nothing else, you cannot be a pure ur-priest with more than 10 class levels.

Another sticking point here is the actual definition of prestige classes as “a new form of multiclassing,” that use “the rules for level advancement (see page 58 of the Player’s Handbook).”3 The very word “multiclass” indicates “multiple classes,” and if your first level were to be ur-priest, you would not have multiclassed into it. The referenced rules from page 58 are specifically about gaining levels after 1st, as well.

Moreover, officially, the rules require you to select your race and first class level at the same time, before doing anything else.4 So even if you could go directly into ur-priest, you would have to qualify on the strengths of race alone—a rather tall order when the requirements include feats (which you haven’t gained yet) and skill ranks (which you haven’t gotten points for yet).

The only conceivable approach, then, is as you suggest: by losing HD after you have gained ur-priest levels, removing anything you had before taking any ur-priest levels and leaving you with only those levels. Conveniently, ur-priest doesn’t require anything beyond raw hit dice to qualify: alignment, base save bonuses, skill ranks, and two feats that both have no prerequisites.

However, as you note, you are not allowed to start with no hit dice—you have to be something before you can contract lycanthropy. Whatever that this was will require at least one hit die, and that hit die won’t go away when lycanthropy does. While a 1-HD race does have that HD replaced by a class level, that happens immediately upon character creation, and can neither be delayed nor opted out of:

If a monster has 1 Hit Die or less, or if it is a template creature (such as a vampire or a lycanthrope; see the Monster Manual), it must start the game with one or more class levels, like a regular character.[5]

There is some hope though, from the very next line: “If a monster has 2 or more Hit Dice, it can start with no class levels (though it can gain them later),” emphasis mine.5 The problem is, unlike lycanthropy, other forms of racial hit dice can’t be easily removed.

Losing levels via energy drain is notoriously underspecified, and nothing explicitly says you can’t pick and choose which you lose—but even by theoretical optimization standards, that’s patently absurd. The rules include “The victim’s experience point total is immediately set to the midpoint of the previous level,” which strongly implies that the level lost is the most recent one.6

The one hope I thought of, though it is massively within the DM’s adjudication and is hard to call RAW, is reincarnate. Reincarnate specifies that “For a humanoid creature, the new incarnation is determined using the following table. For nonhumanoid creatures, a similar table of creatures of the same type should be created.”7 That means that—arguably—you could use a creature with multiple racial hit dice, qualify for and take levels of ur-priest, and then reincarnate into a creature has just 1 racial hit die. Then—arguably—that hit die is replaced by a class level, which—arguably—could be a level of ur-priest, since you already have levels of it.

If you can find a humanoid-type creature with lots of RHD then you are on pretty solid RAW footing to use the listed table, which include 1-HD creatures. I asked whether any such creatures exist, and it turns out several do, including the 4-HD belgoi.8 A belgoi lycanthrope could have quite a lot of RHD, and thereby qualify for ur-priest without taking any other class levels.9 All of those RHD could then be removed (by curing lycanthropy and being subject to reincarnate).

Even if you manage that, though, the rules around the replacement of the RHD from 1-HD creatures simply don’t cover this situation at all, which means we can’t really say that, RAW, it’s going to work in your favor—it’s going to need a ruling. Most DMs, unsurprisingly, are likely to rule that your 1 HD from your new race has to be replaced with a base class, and you can’t pick ur-priest for it.

But short of that, I didn’t think you can do any better. [It turns out I was wrong, as topquark’s excellent answer indicates—the ritual of vitality avoids reincarnate’s randomness and furthermore has an explicit example of RHD being removed and only existing class levels remaining.10

Even that, though, is still going to limit you to being a 10th-level ur-priest.

  1. Epic Level Handbook pages 5-6

  2. Draconomicon page 66

  3. Dungeon Master’s Guide page 176

  4. Player’s Handbook page 6

  5. Dungeon Master’s Guide page 172

  6. Dungeon Master’s Guide page 296

  7. Player’s Handbook page 270

  8. Dungeon vol. 111 page 88

  9. A belgoi lycanthrope has humanoid and animal RHD, which means none of them provide a good Will saving throw progression. That means you need a minimum of 9 RHD to meet the base Will save requirement of +3. Taking the Education feat1 or Well Read feat2 gets you all Knowledge skills in-class, and the Flexible Mind feat3 can get you any two skills—pick Bluff and Spellcraft. The other two feats available at 9 HD would go towards Iron Will and Spell Focus (evil) as required by ur-priest. In total ur-priest will require 32 skill points, which means at 9 HD with 2 + Int skill points you need to have Int 14 to get them all—which is kind of a problem since belgoi apply a −4 penalty. Having more HD, though, reduces how much Intelligence you need, so you could freely go with a larger animal and need much less Intelligence. To get the minimum 9 HD, you could be a werelion, but if you want to just maximize your HD, you could be a werebattletitan,4 with a whopping 36 animal HD—then no matter how low your Intelligence is, the minimum 1 skill point per level is enough to get the ranks you need.

    1. Eberron Campaign Setting page 52, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting page 34, Ghostwalk page 31, Player’s Guide to Faerûn page 38. Note that belgoi are Dark Sun creatures, and that is conspicuously not one of the campaign settings listed here.

    2. Dragon vol. 315 page 54

    3. Dragon vol. 326 page 80

    4. Monster Manual III page 38

  10. Savage Species pages 149-151

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't you lose the benefits of a prestige class if you cease meeting its prerequisites (e.g. because you used racial benefits you no longer possess to qualify)? An easy example would be a dwarf with the Dwarven Defender Prestige Class being Reincarnated into anything but a dwarf. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Dec 4, 2019 at 10:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You know the answer will be interesting when it's footnotes have footnotes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Dec 4, 2019 at 10:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 For most prestige classes, including ur-priest, you do not, no. See this Q&A for details. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 4, 2019 at 14:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I know it's been a while, @KRyan, but Giants can contract lycanthropy too. Then you get many RHD, still get to add animal HD via lycanthropy, and can be from more game worlds than belgoi. If you must use humanoid for some reason, Blackscale lizardfolk (Monster Manual III 95) are 4HD as well, with a 'mere' -2 to Int., and also are largely game-world agnostic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Feb 13, 2022 at 9:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus The problem with using a giant is that we don’t have a reincarnate table for them, which means it’s up to the DM to determine what’s on that table, and particularly in that case it is unlikely there will be any 1 RHD, LA +0 options (I don’t know of any to put on the table even if you wanted to, personally). If we’re humanoid, we have an official table where everything is, so we’re guaranteed to land on one. That’s all. Good call on the blackscale lizardfolk, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 13, 2022 at 14:10
  1. Start as any monster race that can meet Ur-Priest's prereqs.
    (i.e. 5RHD dragon or outsider with the right class skills, or 9RHD with the right skills and any type, or just anything with 13RHD. I can't off-hand think of anything that qualifies earlier than a Blue Dragon Wyrmling (ECL10), but I haven't done an exhaustive search.)
  2. Take a level of Ur-Priest.
  3. Invoke the Ritual of Vitality (Savage Species p.150) to turn you into a normal PC race.

This gets rid of all statistics derived from your original race, including RHD and LA (which reduces your XP total, you don't gain class levels to compensate), and gives you all statistics derived from your new race... With the one weird exception of ability scores. Your Str, Dex, and Con become average for your new race, i.e. 10 + new racial modifier, ignoring your original roll or point-buy; whereas Int, Wis, and Cha remain at their previous values, including their old racial modifiers.

In the case of turning into a normal PC race (i.e. one that normally has only class levels and no RHD), the ritual definitely leaves you with only your class levels and no RHD. (The RAW example is an ogre barbarian turning into an elf barbarian.)

The ritual costs 7000 gp and 1000 XP, in addition to the XP lost by reducing your ECL. It takes 1 day and the assistance of a 7th-level spellcaster with no particular spells. (There's three versions of the species-change ritual, with the same end result but differing in cost and method of payment; Vitality is the cheapest one for your use-case.)

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Figures Savage Species would have something for this. Good find. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 4, 2019 at 3:15
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Step 2.5: Use a thought bottle. Step 3.5: Regain lost XP in Ur-Priest level form. With a Blue Dragon Wyrmling you can even do this and have 10 levels of Ur-Priest and thus be a pure Ur-Priest of the level the game is presumably at (okay, you're 500 XP short. Still, you are basically the correct ECL). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2019 at 4:41

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