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Prerequisites

Caster level 12th

This poses an obvious problem for most characters in E6: as 6th-level characters, they’re 6 caster levels short of meeting this prerequisite. There are a few bonuses to caster level out there, but most are specific to particular spells or types of spells, or limited-usage, in ways that prevent them from meeting this requirement.1 Off the top of my head, only the orange ioun stone provides a sufficiently consistent and blanket bonus to caster level that should work for feat prerequisites, and that has the same problem as staves since it requires caster level 12th itself. Artificers get a +2 bonus to caster level for items’ prerequisites, but this doesn’t appear to carry over to item-creation feats’ prerequisites.

So, is there any way to meet this requirement? Leaving out any infinite or arbitrary loops, manipulate form in its entirety, level drain abuse, retraining misuse, really anything that involves having more HD and then somehow erasing them later, or anything that breaks ECL 6th assumption inherent in E6 (e.g. becoming a lycanthrope as a 6th-level character to get more HD to work with Practiced Spellcaster or something), that is. This is obviously cheesy but I’m trying to avoid “extreme” cheese. Outside assistance is frowned upon, but is valid if it’s assistance from another valid E6 character—assistance from monsters and other creatures is out. And I would like to actually have the feat, not merely get around it somehow, though it’s acceptable if actually using it requires some kind of set-up or special conditions (as long as those can be maintained for 8 hours of crafting).

Otherwise, all Wizards of the Coast-published 3.5e material, as well as all Dragon and Dungeon 3.5e material, is acceptable.

Any combination of race and class is allowed, again so long as it’s legal under the usual E6 rules (I presume some kind of 6th-level spellcaster is best, but if not then that’s fine). Any number of bonus feats can be assumed, again as usual for E6 rules.

  1. Probably.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar conundrum. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 30 '20 at 5:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Dec 5 '20 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you feel about the association bonuses from complete champion? The Magic domain bonuses include a flat 1CL increase for "arcane of a single school or divine". \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 17 at 2:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin I’d buy that for divine spellcasters, sure, nice. The arcane side is way more ambiguous because of the single-school limitation; very unclear how that interacts with feat prerequisites). Want to write that up yourself or shall I add it to my answer? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 17 at 2:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Unfortunate though that it won’t work for artificers. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 17 at 2:40
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One possible way is to join The Conclave of Silverymoon's "The Lady's College", from Silver Marches, p.62. Being a member of that college explicitly allows one to craft without having the associated craft feat. One must still meet other requirements for crafting the item, but at least one's character does not need the specific feat. It would be up to the DM exactly what was involved in "all other requirements."

Finally, a student or fellow may use the college’s laboratories and libraries for creating magic items even if she does not have the appropriate item creation feat. The character must pay a special fee equal to 10% of the marketprice of the item she creates. The wizard must meet all other requirements of the item to be created. For example, a wizard who wanted to create a wand of lightning bolt despite the fact she does not know the Craft Wand feat could do so by using the college’s resources — at a cost of 1,125 gp,10% of the wand’s normal market price.

I like this solution because it does not depend on an offscreen character having the feat which would not be possible in an E6 universe. Instead, one is using "laboratories and libraries," so no impossible characters are required.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is interesting, yeah. Very good find. An artificer can meet the requirements on a caster level 8th (the minimum) staff fairly easily, and this allows them to skip the caster level 12th requirement on Craft Staff. I still wanted to have the feat, but this is a strong alternative option. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 30 '20 at 21:25
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Stuff that “works” but I’m not happy with

There are some massively overpowered approaches that can do this (and so much more) that aren’t really the kinds of answers I was looking for.

Artificer cheese, Persist cheese

The artificer (Eberron Campaign Setting) is a problematic class, in E6 especially. The ability to craft items that require 2 caster levels more than the artificer actually has is always potent, but it’s ludicrous in E6 where it means you can trivially craft spell-completion/spell-trigger items of 4th-level spells, so long as you have caster level 5th or greater.

On top of that, the 3rd-level artificer infusion metamagic item (Eberron Campaign Setting)—available to any 5th-level artificer—just allows you to add any metamagic feat to any spell-trigger item, and cast the spell with that metamagic freely added to the spell for the next few rounds. When that metamagic feat is Persist Spell, you get incredible value out of this. And among non-artificers, Divine Metamagic, Metamagic Song paired with Talfirian Song, and so on, all the various ways to cheese Persist Spell onto things at low levels, still apply to allow any buffs we want to stay up all day, allowing us to craft. Metamagic item is by far the easiest of them, though.

So that means an artificer can trivially persist spells, and they can be up to 4th-level, without any real effort. Among 4th-level spells is consumptive field (Spell Compendium), suggested by fectin in a now-deleted answer, which is another broken option that works like death knell except you can build up lots of “deaths” to pump your CL. We only need 6, which is not difficult to achieve.

Even without consumptive field, though, there are a lot of 3rd-level and 4th-level spells that boost caster level a bit, and the artificer can easily make sure they last. So can a cleric, though they’ll be limited to the 3rd-level spells (or possibly 4th-level spells found on their domains).

This approach works, but isn’t what I was looking for.

Stuff that might work, and I might be OK with, but lots of questions

The following is an approach I don’t love, but would prefer over artificer and Persist cheese. More importantly, though, the actual rules here are very unclear, so it’s not certain that it actually works.

Master Spellthief cheese

The Master Spellthief feat (Complete Scoundrel) allows your arcane caster level in each arcane class you’re part of to have the caster level of the sum total of all arcane caster levels you have. Bonuses to caster level shouldn’t get “double counted”—it refers to levels—but noctumancer (Tome of Magic) and ultimate magus (Complete Mage) can advance two arcane spellcasting (mystery-using) classes at once. We would need early entry shenanigans to actually benefit from either of these, and even then Master Spellthief is a really questionable, unclear feat.

I may return to this to see how it works out, but for right now this is filed under “too many questions, too unclear.”

Stuff that I’m happy with, but doesn’t quite get to CL 12th

If we assume, for the sake of sanity, that artificers are prevented from creating items of 4th-level spells in E6, that metamagic item is banned or nerfed in some fashion to make it less blatantly broken, Persist Spell is... overlooked as an unpalatable option, and consumptive field is just banned as a bad idea, we’re left with a much more difficult time. As of yet, I still haven’t found a way to get there.

  • First, Practiced Spellcaster can be used to ensure we have caster level 6th in any caster class we have at least two (effective) levels in. It can’t get us beyond 6th, but it’s helpful for allowing us to, say, have multiple types of spellcasting capable of getting there. We can assume that no matter what, we’ll always have 6 caster levels we need to make up.

  • Various prestige classes have a “spell power” class feature, which gives +1 to caster levels. These are either high level or else restricted to a certain class of spells, but the ultimate magus’s version appears at 1st level (ECL 6th), and applies to all arcane spells (Complete Mage). One can qualify for ultimate magus as a 1st-level wizard or wu jen that takes Alacritous Cogitation (Complete Mage) and Precocious Apprentice (Complete Arcane). Ultimate magus also helpfully supplies a second level of spellcasting for that class, allowing you to take Practiced Spellcaster to get to caster level 6th. Unfortunately, only works for arcane caster levels.

  • Membership in a church that offers the Magic domain can, per Complete Champion, grant “Effective caster level for a single type of magic (arcane of a single school or divine, your choice) increases by 1” at 23 affiliation. Affiliation isn’t generally hard to get, though 23 is quite a lot of it. Still, not prohibitively difficult. If nothing else, going on a quest to “[destroy foes] single-handedly using only magic,” will get you there eventually.

    Boosting your caster level for a single school of arcane magic probably doesn’t meet the requirements for Craft Staff, but boosting the caster level of all of your divine magic probably does. So this is only useful for Craft Staff if we’re a divine spellcaster, which frustratingly means it can’t combine with ultimate magus.

  • Draconic Power (Races of the Dragon) gives a +1 bonus to caster level—and it’s not restricted to arcane spells the way the saving throw DC bonus is. It requires Draconic Heritage (Races of the Dragon), which requires being a 1st-level sorcerer, but if desired we can avoid that with the Dragontouched feat (Dragon Magic). But since we’re already interested in ultimate magus, it’s worth noting that sorcerer can also save us a feat on Alacritous Cogitation. Three feats, or a level and two feats, is a ton, but it counts.

  • Inspire Spellpower (Races of Stone) can be taken by a bard with 8 ranks in Perform in order to give other spellcasters that can hear them a +1 bonus to caster level. Necessitates another ally being involved. Like all bardic music effects, lasts as long as you can keep playing, so a construct or undead bard is ideal.

  • There is a 2nd-level sor/wiz Conjuration (Creation) spell, create magic tattoo (Player’s Guide to Faerûn), that can grant +1 caster level for 24 hours, i.e. we don’t need Persist Spell. Unfortunately, we need caster level 13th to enable the +1 caster level option. However, since we can benefit from various buffs that apply only to Conjuration and/or Creation spells, or that last a limited time (note that create magic tattoo takes 10 minutes to cast), to get there, making it more approachable than actual crafting.

    • The Craft and Creation domains (Spell Compendium) each gives +1 to caster level with Conjuration (Creation) spells. We can easily dip cleric for those.

    • Reserves of Strength (Dragonlance Campaign Setting) can grant a spell a bonus to caster level of up to +3 so long as we’re OK with being stunned for an equal number of rounds after casting it. And we’re definitely OK with that. It requires Iron Will, but that can be gotten for 3,000 gp at Otyugh Hole (Complete Scoundrel) if desired. (Reserves of Strength is a contentious feat, but this usage doesn’t get into any of the problems it can have.)

    • Any two of Magic domain church affiliation, Draconic Power, Inspire Spellpower, and/or ultimate magus gets us the rest of the way to 13th.

    So we can cast create magic tattoo with high enough caster level to enable the +1 bonus to caster level option. It does require a cleric/wizard/ultimate magus that also needs either a level of sorcerer, two more feats, or the assistance of a bard.

  • Artificer still plays a role, as does its +2 bonus to caster level for items’ prerequisites, but we’re avoiding 4th-level spells and Persist Spell. Instead, we have the fact that, at caster level 10th, an artificer can craft an orange ioun stone for +1 caster level. That gets us one of the caster levels we need, but only if we can get the artificer to caster level 10th—and ultimate magus won’t help (though Draconic Power, Inspire Spellpower, and create magic tattoo will).

So we can get an artificer to caster level 9th, and we can get an arcane spellcaster to caster level 10th. If we can figure out how to get the artificer to caster level 10th, we can also push the arcane spellcaster to caster level 11th, and if whatever we use to get the artificer to 10th works for the arcane spellcaster, we can also get the arcane spellcaster to 12th, and they will be able to take and use Craft Staff. But we still need one more caster level somehow, so this doesn’t work.

(Much thanks to my friends Eurus and Linae [@forrestfire here], who suggested many of these options. Also thanks to @fectin, who discovered the Magic domain church affiliation.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin If you want to edit your answer to leverage artificer as the answer to the concerns I had about it, I would upvote it and edit this answer to link to it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '20 at 16:57
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A possible method to consistently reach the necessary caster level to both gain and use the feat Craft Staff is to become a 5th level Red Wizard of Thay, allowing the character to become a circle leader and to regularly reach higher caster levels for 24 hours per day.

While your question initially wanted to limit the involvement of characters to only a single PC, I believe that such a proscription might leave the answer set empty. While this answer does require the existence of helpful NPCs (or otherwise very helpful PCs), this all appears to be legal for a typical E6 game.

You'll have to die

But, first you'll need to acquire at least five levels in a class that has Spellcraft as an in-class skill, and be sure to invest at least the required 8 ranks into Spellcraft. You'll also need to acquire the feat Tattoo Focus, and any three other metamagic or item creation feats.

For this reason I do recommend starting as a human wizard, for whom these feat requirements are easily achieved by even 3rd level, without the need for flaws.

Once your character has the needed feats and at least 8 ranks in Spellcraft, seek out the services of a 5th or 6th level artificer. An artificer of such level will be able to produce scrolls of Reincarnate. You'll need at least 4, possibly 5 scrolls of Reincarnate. Then, you'll need to be killed and reincarnated enough times to reduce your level to one. Along the way, your character will retain "any class abilities, feats, or skill ranks it formerly possessed." (PHB p.270)

Now, just start over

Progressing from a character of level 1, while possessing at least 8 ranks in Spellcraft, the feat Tattoo Focus, and three metamagic or item creation feats.

At each next level, be sure to select the Red Wizard of Thay as your character class, until you are a Wizard 1/Red Wizard of Thay 5. (You could also be a Cleric 1, or a Sorcerer 1, or really any character with a caster level of 1 at first level.)

Such a methodology of retraining might be incredibly wasteful and inelegant, but is supported by the rules.

At reaching Red Wizard of Thay 5, you'll have the ability to lead a circle. Circle benefits, among others, allow the circle leader to increase their caster levels for 24 hours at a time - acceptable for feat qualifications and for item creation.

You'll need to acquire the services of at least two additional spellcasters who have the feat Tattoo Focus and who also don't mind contributing a 3rd level spell for every day that you plan on using Craft Staff, so this answer (like WannabeWarlock's) still might require the use of an "organization" or "collective" of one kind or another.

Red Wizard doesn't really boost caster level, right?

Red Wizard's spell power class feature, as well as the wording of the circle magic effect, makes clear that the Red Wizard's caster level are increased for level-dependent variables, as well as caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance.

However, that seems to only be restating the general rule on what caster level increases mean (PHB p.171).

In the event that a class feature, domain granted power, or other special ability provides an adjustment to your caster level, that adjustment applies not only to effects based on caster level (such as range, duration, and damage dealt) but also to your caster level check to overcome your target’s spell resistance (see Spell Resistance, page 177) and to the caster level used in dispel checks (both the dispel check and the DC of the check).

Indeed, a tight enough reading of such a rule would seem to greatly ameliorate almost all caster level boosting effects that do not come from items only. (That is, for example, a very "correct" reading of the above rules would seem to make the Ultimate Magus' spell power just the same as the Red Wizard's ... seemingly inapplicable for this purpose.)

While such a reading of what it means to boost caster level does tend to create a conversation that is fractious and ill-defined, it seems that, for this questioner and his or her DM, Ultimate Magus does work to enhance caster level.

So, I would put forward that such a DM ought be open to the caster level boosting effects of the Red Wizard being read the same way.

Finally, you can use the Silverymoon's College or a Red Wizard

Perhaps, incongruously, I was having some trouble imagining how the Lady's College would provide the services necessary for Craft Staff in an E6 world when none of the students or instructors (if this question is any indication) had themselves yet figured out how to Craft a Staff.

It might be the case that they, occasionally or otherwise, contract out the services of a rare high level Red Wizard (such as the one described in this answer) to be able to make available the higher level item creation feats normally unavailable in an E6 game.


Of course, we're really subverting the rules for E6

In retrieving and reading this document regarding E6, it would appear that attempts like this to be able to craft higher level items run against what the "designers" (if designer is even an applicable word here) of E6 wanted.

Q: Can you make high-level items as a low-level caster in E6?
A: No[.]

The remaining portion of the answer indicates a "why" it should be that case, but since we're already subverting that, I offer this closing tidbit out of a sense of completeness instead of a remonstration of the question and my answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The comments on this answer have been preserved in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Dec 23 '20 at 22:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Have they been? Page not found. \$\endgroup\$ – Powerdork Jan 19 at 10:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Powerdork Chatrooms are automatically deleted if there's not enough activity. I've undeleted it for now and in general we're happy to do that on request. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jan 19 at 13:50

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