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Can a Warlock transition into an Anima Mage and still get both class benefits?

I'm talking about damage reduction, fiendish resilience, increased eldritch blast dmg, and the like on the warlock side and pact augmentation, 2 vestige binding etc on the binder part.

Reading the Anima Mage it seems to me as you can only keep advancing vestige levels and learning more invocations which sucks. Please help.

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Warlock benefits from anima mage

Correct, anima mage only improves the warlock’s “spellcasting,” and “You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained,” (Tome of Magic pg. 50). Complete Arcane defines the warlock’s “spellcasting,” for the purpose of prestige class progressions like anima mage’s, as follows:

Warlocks and Prestige Classes

Warlocks benefit in a specific way from prestige classes that have “+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class” or “+1 level of existing spellcasting class” as a level advancement benefit. A warlock taking levels in such a prestige class does not gain any of his class abilities, but he does gain an increased caster level when using his invocations and increased damage with his eldritch blast. Levels of prestige classes that provide +1 level of spellcasting effectively stack with the warlock’s level to determine his eldritch blast damage (treat his combined caster level as his warlock class level when looking at Table 1–1: The Warlock to determine eldritch blast damage) and his eldritch blast caster level (half his total caster level from his warlock levels and his levels in the prestige class that grant him an increased spellcasting level). A warlock also gains new invocations known at these prestige class levels as though he had gained a level in the warlock class.

(Complete Arcane pg. 18)

So your eldritch blast grows, you learn new invocations, and you access new tiers of invocations, as if you were continuing to take warlock levels, but you do not get the other class features of the warlock class, like damage reduction, fiendish resilience, or imbue item. This is the trade-off for getting to have some binder class features as well as warlock class features.

Note that anima mage also loses out on some binder class features as well:

Soul Binding Bonus: [...] You do not, however, gain any other benefit a binder would have gained.

(Tome of Magic pg. 50)

So that means you also don’t get the binder’s suppress sign, pact augmentation, soul guardian, or bonus feat abilities—just improvements in your access to vestiges.

This is very much normal in D&D 3.5e—prestige classes generally replace your usual class features with the prestige class’s features. Sometimes, that’s almost free: clerics and sorcerers lose almost nothing in this trade, and wizards only lose bonus feats. Other times, it’s extremely painful—very few druids want to take prestige classes because if they do they’ll usually miss out on improvements to their animal companion and wild shape features.

For a warlock, really, the only big losses are deceive item and imbue item. Those are great class features. The damage reduction and fiendish resilience features, on the other hand, are pretty mediocre—the numbers are just too small to matter all that much. When someone hits you for 60 damage, it doesn’t really matter very much if you get to deduct 3 from the hit or not. So while there definitely is a cost for the warlock, it’s not too bad—the addition of vestige features could well be worth it.

There is, however, another issue:

Qualifying for anima mage as a warlock

Page 18 of Complete Arcane has another paragraph immediately after the one I quoted above about how warlocks benefit from prestige classes, which gets into how warlocks qualify for prestige classes in the first place:

A warlock cannot qualify for prestige classes with spellcasting level requirements, as he never actually learns to cast spells. However, prestige classes with caster level requirements, such as the acolyte of the skin, are well suited to the warlock. A warlock’s caster level for his invocations fulfills this requirement. See page 71 in Chapter 3 for more details on caster level requirements, spellcasting level requirements, and specific spell requirements for feats and prestige classes.

(Complete Arcane pg. 18)

The referenced section on page 71 reads, in part,

requirements for feats and prestige classes based on specific levels of spells cast (“Able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells,” for example) cannot be met by spell-like abilities or invocations—not even spell-like abilities or invocations that allow a character to use a specific arcane spell of the appropriate level or higher.

(Complete Arcane pg. 72)

And anima mage requires “Ability to cast 2nd-level arcane spells,” which is exactly what Complete Arcane says a warlock cannot do. Personally, in my games, I have a houserule that changes the rules from Complete Arcane, allowing warlocks to meet these requirements (“A warlock qualifies for requirements of ‘ability to cast \$x\$th-level (arcane) spells’ if their warlock level is at least \$2x-1\$.”), but you’d have to ask your DM to see if they’ll allow that.

However, even if not, there is an official way around the problem: Complete Arcane also includes a feat, Precocious Apprentice, on page 181 (not with the rest of the feats), that can only be taken at 1st level and allows you to cast a single 2nd-level spell. With that, a warlock meets anima mage’s spellcasting requirement, and so can (by meeting the other requirements) access the class and benefit from its improved spellcasting.

Unfortunately, the best features of anima mage—vestigial metamagic and vestige casting—simply don’t work with invocations, which is a real shame. Still, the addition of pact magic can improve the warlock’s life and make the class worth it despite the hoops and the disappointments. I have played and enjoyed a fair few binder/warlocks. Remember to take Improved Binding so that you can qualify for anima mage with just one level of binder; it helps.

Prestige classes that really do progress everything

For the record, there are a couple of prestige classes that really do progress everything from a class, so for a warlock that would include deceive item, damage reduction, fiendish resilience, and imbue item. “A couple,” as in, literally two: unseen trickster from Complete Scoundrel and legacy champion from Weapons of Legacy. Neither is very strong, and neither progresses another class perfectly—unseen trickster doesn’t progress any other class on its first of three levels, and legacy champion doesn’t on its first or seventh of ten levels. Both can progress only one class with each level, so they aren’t a solution to your question. Really, neither is used very much.

The one thing they are used for is the hellfire warlock prestige class from Fiendish Codex II, which is a three-level prestige class that allows a warlock to turn eldritch blast into a hellfire blast, which adds +2d6 damage per hellfire warlock level to the blast. Technically, arguably, you could take three levels of hellfire warlock, and then take ten levels of legacy champion, advancing hellfire warlock with each one aside from 1st or 7th, to count as having eleven hellfire warlock levels—that is, adding +22d6 damage to eldritch blast.

Obviously, many DMs do not allow that.

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