I am playing in a D&D 3.5 game. We are level 5 gestalt with 2 free LA (as in if you have a race or template with LA, you can get up to 2 total of them for free. Any Racial HD are paid as normal).

I chose a water orc (0 LA) with the natural lycanthrope template, Weretiger version (3LA normally, 1 with the rules. and with 3RHD). On one side of my Gestalt, I put 4 levels of Warblade and 1 level of Warshaper. On the other I put the LA of the weretiger, and 4 levels of the Weretiger class.

We had down how our characters were going to progress and for the next 2 levels, I put 2 more levels of Warshaper and the other side had 2 more levels of Weretiger.

This is where I need help because at this point, I started to progress Warblade and Warshaper at the same time, which I was told I could not do, as you can not move the side a gestalt class is on. I cannot find any such restriction on the d20SRD page, and I can also not find the source book for gestalt rules. I looked in PHB1&2 as well as the DMG1&2.

Is this a rule in the gestalt ruleset, or is it a houserule? Also, what specific book or books were gestalt rules introduced in?

If my explanation didn't make sense, I put down a visual aid below this:

Level Class A Class B
1st Weretiger LA Warblade 1
2nd Weretiger 1 Warblade 2
3rd Weretiger 2 Warblade 3
4th Weretiger 3 Warblade 4
5th Weretiger 4 Warshaper 1
6th Weretiger 5 Warshaper 2
7th Weretiger 6 Warshaper 3
8th Warshaper 4 Warblade 5
9th Warshaper 5 Warblade 6
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


The gestalt rules come from Unearthed Arcana, a collection of open-content variant ideas that Wizards of the Coast threw together and called a book. Some of them were written by Wizards of the Coast staff, others were published elsewhere as open content, and so on. Most importantly, they are often closer to ideas for how to vary your game, than they are fully-fledged and edited rules. That means they always require some DM judgment and adjudication to implement, because they are ultimately not always complete.

For example, the gestalt rules never explain how to handle RHD and LA. It’s not clear that those should go on “one side” as you have done—I have played in games that have ruled that LA is applied “before” the entire gestalt business, so it adjusts both sides. In my own games, I just ban RHD and LA altogether, in general, but also particularly for gestalt—neither ruling suits me.

I have also played in games that banned swapping which side a class is on. No rule says that, though the reasoning behind dual-advancement prestige classes might be generalized to make an argument in favor of such a ban. But this is part and parcel of the process of implementing a variant idea: the DM has to massage the ideas that Unearthed Arcana presents into something that is actually a fully realized and implemented rule. That can include a ruling like this.

Now, if it’s a fellow player making this proclamation, they may have simply gotten the wrong impression that this is “an official rule” from a ruling from some other DM in some other game. In such a case, it may be worthwhile to check with this DM for this game. And maybe there’s some room for push-back even if it is the DM, if they are under the impression this is “the rule” and that’s the only reason they’re implementing it.

Personally, though, I think it is best to not see gestalt as “sides,” because that’s not really what the rules describe. You don’t really have one side of LA +1/6 RHD/+2 warshaper and another side of 4th-level warblade/3rd-level warshaper/+2 warblade. What you actually have here is a level of LA//warblade, then three levels of RHD//warblade, then three levels of RHD//warshaper, and finally two levels of warblade//warshaper. This matches the way the actual gestalt rules are worded, where it describes how you combine two classes together to form a single level. And since neither class in a gestalt is in any way “primary,” it’s clear that a warblade//warshaper and a warshaper//warblade are the same thing. In this sense, there isn’t really any “swap” going on in the first place.

Which works out to being the same as “allowing” the “swap,” and since you usually tabulate gestalt characters’ levels so you can try to keep track of your class level in each, the “swap” will appear to be in the table. But I think seeing that the “swap” really isn’t any such thing motivates the idea that there should be no reason to bar it. And while I have played in games that banned the “swap,” I have played in many more than have not—and I have never seen it cause a problem. Indeed, since the “swap” isn’t really any such thing, it seems pretty clear that it cannot cause problems.

You can run into difficulty if you make a ruling like

you can take mystic theurge levels so long as you get the requisite spells entirely on one “side,” so that a 7th-level whatever//3rd-level cleric/3rd-level wizard/1st-level mystic theurge is allowed, but a 3rd-level cleric/1st-level whatever//3rd-level wizard/1st-level mystic theurge is not.

but notice that this is not a part of the rules as Unearthed Arcana describes them. It’s an entirely-reasonable houserule, but as-written Unearthed Arcana just bans mystic theurge and other prestige classes like it for gestalt games. When you introduce changes like this, it can cause weird corner cases. Suddenly, “sides” are actual things, and “swaps” could potentially make a difference (though again, in my experience they never have—and we usually use a rule like this—and frankly I’m not seeing any way a swap could cause problems).

But seriously, your ruling on RHD and LA is vastly more likely to cause problems than this is. In fact, while I literally cannot see any way a “swap” can cause problems, in my experience, RHD and LA are all-but-guaranteed to cause problems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The game is a round robin style DM type campaign over discord. I am fairly new to dnd 3.5 (Only playing in one campaign before this that ended kindof abruptly) but have a good bit of 5e experience helping to manage a westmarches campaign and wanted to branch out a little bit. One of the biggest rules on the server is that anything we can't find in the books or that is directly too cheesy/overpowered even for a gestalt game has to be voted on. This was everything from starting level/gold, amount of point-buy, If we alllow dragon magazine, and even to use gestalt rules in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 18:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TrevorRitzke For what it’s worth, I have never seen this kind of swapping cause anything particularly cheesy or powerful. Certainly not in your case. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ As this seems to be a case of them believing the no shifting rule to be a core part of the gestalt rule-set, we are going to end up voting on it. Thanks to both of you, you really helped me out. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TrevorRitzke Decided to update this with a bit more of my own experiences, since I’ve played in a ton of gestalt games. It incorporates and expands on what I was saying in comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 17:51

Gestalt variant rules are in the Unearthed Arcana handbook, page 72.

And no, there is no such rule that prohibits you from changing the "side" of the classes.

Also worth noting, template classes are variant rule too, and they are not contemplated in the gestalt rules, they could be argued to be similar to prestige classes, which could prohibit you from taking Weretiger and Warshaper at the same time.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah yes, that could make sense, I'll ask and see if that might be the factor and I just misunderstood their point, I'll also fix the example, was pretty tired when I wrote it and missed some grammar issues and the like. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ So they didn't mention about the weretiger/warshaper being taken at the same time, that is perfectly fine. It is specifically the moving of the class from one side to the other of the gestalt that was the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 18:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .