For backstory I was making a Grey Elf for a upcoming game. We're starting at level 3 and the GM basically gave us a blank check of "No Dragon magazine, no Third Party, no Pun Pun". In this case No Pun Pun just meaning no memeibly stupid characters that crash the universe. The only other rules are nothing like flaws for feats or the like, but all feats, classes, and races are allowed more or less. Dragon rules out the normal cheese of alternate source, which arguably doesn't work anyway. This leaves me with the only remaining option of Mad Faith. For anyone not aware its basically a divine version of precocious apprentice, gives you a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (depending on a factor I'll ask about later) divine spell. So I would meet all requirements as early as level 3. But there's a problem. The feat requires a whole variant rule system from Hero's of Horror, funnily enough the same book that gave us my divine class Archivist.

My plan was to go Grey Elf Wizard (UA transmutation Domain if that maters) 1st level for Precocious Apprentice, then two levels of Archivist, taking Mad Faith at 3rd level to get my 2nd level spell. But here comes the rub, I need Moderate Depravity (again a condition from HoH) to qualify and get the feat. Moderate Depravity isn't something you can normally get from character creation, its something that just happens to you like CoC insanity. Running around with hallucinations that give me -6 to initiative and a excuse to act like i just drank cactus juice once in a while isn't a problem for me but it means I'll have to ask my GM for permission before the game to have madness from backstory reasons. I have a good feeling that he'll say yes but i'd like to find a alternative if possible.

Race isn't really flexible here because I was planning on taking a level in wildrunner for trackless step to qualify for Arcane Hirophant later. Though anything with a regional restriction is allowed and Alignments don't matter unless you're getting powers from a patron like a cleric. The plan on this is a character that eventually has 17/18 Wizard Archivist casting. Character concept is basically a magic obsessed Elf that wants to eventually learn everything, thus why he's taking levels in the two classes with the most arbitrarily expansive spell access.

Things I've also considered: Bamboo Spiritfolk arguably works though trackless step as a racial instead of a class feature is a bit shaky for my taste, I'm not sure how that works by Raw, though it would let me skip Wildrunner and thus skip the feat and enter MT at level 5 for a end result of 17/19 Wizard Archivist. I also considered a Illumian Wizard/Rogue/Loredelver/Ur-Priest/Fochlucan Lyrist for a similar 9th level Arcane/Divine outcome but Druidic is a annoying requirement and the build doesn't hit its stride until level 15 or so. Even if a level 20 character with 3 attacks and 9th level spells from two sources sounds fun.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? How to get early entry into mystic theurge? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    Jun 23, 2020 at 6:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Kind of but it runs into the same dead end of needing three levels in archivist, though that's hardly a major problem with the spiritfolk route. Thanks i somehow missed that post. If i had seen it this would be a "Can Bamboo Spiritfolk qualify for Arcane Hirophant" post? Thanks again. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jervis
    Jun 23, 2020 at 7:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may also be interested in this question. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2020 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Take any metamagic feat at 1st, and Sanctum Spell (Complete Arcane) at 3rd. You can prepare 1st-level archivist spells and 1st-level wizard spells with Sanctum Spell, so that they are 2nd-level spells when cast in your sanctum. That meets mystic theurge’s requirements, RAW, though you might need to be in your sanctum while leveling up.

The only approach I can find for taking both feats earlier than that without Flaws as an elf is to abuse Fiendish Codex I’s embrace the dark chaos and shun the dark chaos on your elf Martial Weapon Proficiency feats. Embrace the dark chaos replaces one feat with an Abyssal Heritor feat, and then shun the dark chaos replaces any Abyssal Heritor feat with any other feat you qualify for. Those are each 8th-level spells that cost 250 XP to cast, so in theory you could hire someone to cast them for 2,450 gp each. 4,900 gp to swap your proficiency with shortbows or whatever to some metamagic feat so you can take Sanctum Spell. Of course, realistically, your DM should never let you do this and even if they did, as a 1st- or 2nd-level character you’d have to find someone willing to cast those spells for you, which is going to be rough. You also need to get the money, which is roughly double the recommended wealth for those levels.

Alternative races have an easier time:

  • Humans get a bonus feat, so that just neatly solves the problem.

  • Illumians (Races of Destiny) can take Improved Sigil (krau) (idem), which is even better than Sanctum Spell for this purpose—you can cast 2nd-level spells without worrying about any sanctum.

Any alternative race does make obtaining trackless step difficult—as this answer describes, your options are probably

  • a polymorph effect for
    • bamboo spirit folk (Oriental Adventures), which gets trackless step as a racial feature, or
    • some kind of elf for wildrunner (Races of the Wild), or
  • take the Improved Greenlore feat from the third-party (but officially licensed) Birthright Conversion Manual.

Both the bamboo spirit folk and the Improved Greenlore approaches do run into that “class feature” issue in arcane hierophant’s requirements, which nixes them RAW—quite a minor technicality, but when attempting early-entry shenanigans on the basis of technicalities, it’s probably fair for a DM to make you take the technicalities that hurt you along with the ones you’re abusing.

There is an alternative to arcane hierophant for your purposes, though: Fochlucan lyrist (Complete Adventurer). Its requirements are very difficult, harder than arcane hierophant’s, but perhaps more amenable to optimization since it doesn’t have that hard line as arcane hierophant does with “class feature.”

Addressing each requirement,

  • Intense skill requirements: To begin with, since we aren’t taking Precocious Apprentice, make your 1st-level class archivist rather than wizard: that gives you +1 hp and +8 skill points for free. Beyond that, feats to make these skills into class skills are a must, at least for Perform.

    • Flexible Mind (Dragon vol. 326) makes any two skills into class skills for every one of your classes. Between that and your Intelligence focus, you should be able to get all of them by the time you finish mystic theurge, even paying cross-class prices on quite a few.

    • Apprentice (entertainer) (Dungeon Master’s Guide II) makes both Diplomacy and Perform class skills for all of your classes. It is, however, a 1st-level-only feat, which means without Flaws or the dark chaos feat shuffle, you are back to having to take Sanctum Spell or Improved Sigil (krau) at 3rd level.

    Anyway, there is no debate or question about whether or not this works.

  • Evasion: ring of evasion, quite affordable by the time you run out of mystic theurge levels. Absolutely solid, RAW, though some DMs may object.

  • Bardic knowledge: arguably, loremaster. The reason this is only “arguable” is because the loremaster doesn’t grant “bardic knowledge,” it grants “lore.” But lore is identical-in-all-but-name to, and stacks with, bardic knowledge. So the issue becomes, what exactly do you need to meet a requirement? Unfortunately, it very well might be the name that you need, which is the one thing you don’t have. Dipping loremaster does give back the level gained by starting mystic theurge at 3rd, but it does advance wizard spellcasting.

    You can avoid the loremaster level by swapping archivist for cloistered cleric. You lose Intelligence SAD, but you gain a level of spellcasting progression, plus you get domains, which can allow you to trivially pick up the metamagic feat you need for Sanctum Spell at 1st regardless of race. Cloistered cleric at 1st also gets you a ton of skill points to use.

    If you actually need “bardic knowledge,” per se, then you’re basically forced to dip bard and none of this is worth it. So RAW here is somewhat dubious.

  • Druidic: arguably, loremaster again, as discussed in this answer, but even if the DM accepts that, you need four levels of loremaster—not worth it. The tibbit (Dragon Compendium) suggestion, on the other hand, is rock-solid, though it interferes with getting Improved Sigil or Sanctum Spell at 1st. However, that answer, and the broader Q&A there, also offer other suggestions for learning Druidic. RAW here is basically undefined—druids aren’t supposed to teach you Druidic, but they can, and it’s hard to gauge how plausible it is or isn’t that you’ll be able to learn it. Otherwise, though, the tibbit approach is pretty shaky, and beyond that the only absolutely-solid RAW option is dipping druid.

So basically it comes down to whether or not Improved Greenlore or bamboo spirit folk are available, and meet arcane hierophant’s requirement, versus whether or not “lore” counts as “bardic knowledge” and you can learn Druidic without being a druid. Note that even if you are forced to dip bard or druid (but not both), doing that for Fochlucan lyrist is superior to wildrunner for arcane hierophant.

Also, consider the cloistered cleric approach: avoiding a level of lost divine spellcasting progression is pretty valuable, and dual ability dependency is hardly the end of the world. You also have an opportunity to use both arcane hierophant and Fochlucan lyrist that way, since it frees up your race choice and lets you use either bamboo spirit folk or tibbit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ For some reason a missed the Illumian feat route. Thank you for that. I knew about it's existence but i didn't think that it would satisfy the qualifications, though i can see why it would. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jervis
    Jun 24, 2020 at 6:41

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