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As noted here, there is limited information on the optimisation options for the Favored Soul. In addition, it has received less support than the Cleric due to being a non-core class, being solely a spontaneous caster, and lacking direct access to Domains or Turn Undead. This leads me to my question, is there a great difference in the options that the Cleric and Favored Soul have for prestige classes? In particular, does this have any implications for how the Cleric generally compares to the Favored Soul? Finally, does the result of this analysis change if we use Unearthed Arcana's Spontaneous Divine Casters rules to make the Cleric similar to the Favored Soul?

To be clear, I'm more interested in analysis and comparison than I am in a simple list of what both classes can qualify for. By all means, feel free to disregard any options that are unique to one class but silly for it to take. My real interest in asking this question is to see if the common wisdom of "Favored Souls are nerfed Clerics" is always true. This question may be a useful reference.

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Divine prestige classes are, for the most part, less stellar than arcane ones. Incantatrix and initiate of the sevenfold veil have no competition among the prestige classes available to clerics, and druids rarely want to multiclass at all since almost nothing advances everything they have going on.1

For the most part, a good cleric prestige class is one that fully advances cleric spellcasting, and gives an extra domain. That’s what most of them are good for—church inquisitor, contemplative, and divine oracle fall in this category, for examples. Aside from that, there are a few decent “warrior” prestige classes—bone knight, ruby knight vindicator, sacred fist, maybe prestige paladin—that give useful things for not too terrible a cost. Beyond that, there’s a smattering of other full-progression prestige classes, which by dint of being full-progression, aren’t bad, like sacred exorcist or thaumaturgist. I’ll throw in malconvoker, sovereign speaker, and walker in the waste as examples of “specialty” prestige classes that could be useful for particular goals.

So I just named thirteen prestige classes. Only one—sovereign speaker—requires that you already have a domain, and it can be any domain at all, so gotten easily enough from another prestige class. Bone knight and ruby knight vindicator require turn or rebuke undead, which you could get from sacred exorcist. Church inquisitor, sacred exorcist, and walker in the waste require the ability to cast particular spells that you might not otherwise want, which might hurt as a spontaneous spellcaster with limited spells known, but you certainly can. (Divine oracle’s requirement of two divinations probably shouldn’t be onerous, and it’s not as though a malconvoker would ever want to be without summon monster III or a thaumaturgist would skip lesser planar ally.)

My point is, there aren’t all that many great options, and none of them stand out as just being impossible for a favored soul. But you have to jump through hoops to get them, while a cleric gets access far more easily.

The flip side is... there are prestige classes the favored soul can take that the cleric cannot. Not, ironically, due to the spontaneous casting—even the regular cleric gets that (it actually uses the word “spontaneous” while favored soul does not), and no prestige classes use the “without preparing” wording (which is what favored soul does say, and which a cleric couldn’t claim since their spontaneous spells have to be cast from slots already prepared as something else). No, the favored soul feature that opens up some unique options is the Weapon Specialization feat at 12th level, while a cleric could never get it without multiclassing to fighter (or something that counts as such). The feat itself is awful, and very, very few things require it, but those things are technically available to the favored soul and not the cleric. The only such prestige classes are the master of chains (Sword and Fist), the planar champion (Manual of the Planes), and the warmaster (Sword and Fist). They aren’t terrible classes in general, but mone of them advance spellcasting, so they certainly are terrible for a cleric or favored soul (and really they’re not great). So while this is something “unique” for the favored soul, it doesn’t matter because it’s useless.

Quite simply, the Unearthed Arcana spontaneous cleric is vastly superior to the favored soul. The favored soul’s particular class features are mostly garbage—poor bonus feats, tiny amounts of energy resistance, and the one great thing—flight—happens rather late. Two or three domains and turn/rebuke undead is just better than anything the favored soul gets. The favored soul gets more spells known and spells per day, but their 2nd-and-higher spells are delayed a level, while the spontaneous cleric’s are not. And the favored soul requires Wisdom and Charisma for spells, while the cleric just needs Wisdom. So the spontaneous cleric’s spellcasting is much superior to the favored soul’s. And, as a cherry on top, of the better prestige classes available to both classes, many will be more easy for the spontaneous cleric to enter than for the favored soul.

And, while we’re comparing these, let’s not forget that the regular cleric is greater still. Spell preparation is a huge advantage, and spontaneous spellcasters are greatly limited. There are several prestige classes that are much more painful for the spontaneous cleric or favored soul to enter than they are for the regular cleric.

  1. The one prestige class that does advance everything a druid does—Faiths of Eberron’s planar shepherd—definitely is competitive with incantatrix and initiate of the sevenfold veil. But this question isn’t really about druids.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure that the superiority of the spontaneous Cleric is that obvious? If I was listing any great things about the Favored Soul over the spontaneous Cleric, I would mentioned the better reflex save, more spells known, and additional spell slots. I'm not saying that you're wrong, but your argument does seem incomplete. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Jan 29 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini Reflex saves are (by a large margin) the least important, so I wouldn’t bother mentioning that. Spontaneous clerics get their spells on time; favored souls are delayed a level. Everything else absolutely pales in comparison. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 29 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MaximeCuillerier Sure, it’s a limitation, but it’s still very much worth it. Domain spells are often quite good. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 30 at 1:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini I will check for things that require Weapon Specialization, I guess, but odds are really good that none of them are meant for any kind of spellcaster. Other than that, what does the favored soul get that even could be used for prerequisites? DR and energy specialization aren’t used as prerequisites, ever, that I’m aware, wings come so late that even if something required them you’d be vastly better off as a dragonborn or raptoran, and the cleric—even the regular one—has “spontaneous” casting that will meet those prerequisites. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 30 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini Class skills are easily obtained if necessary, the only requirement in the game that references base saving throw bonuses is ur-priest (and it wants Fortitude and Will), specifically-named classes are rare in requirements (none for prestige classes so far as I know), and in any event never (that I know of) name favored soul, and Dynamic Priest exists and could make a cleric at least as Charisma-focused as the favored soul, so even that is a no-go. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 30 at 15:50

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