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It’s possible for a 1st-level character to qualify for the anima mage prestige class (Tome of Magic) by taking 4 ranks in Intimidate along with Bind Vestige (ibid), Improved Bind Vestige (ibid), Precocious Apprentice (Complete Arcane), and any one metamagic feat. Accruing all those feats requires a bonus racial feat (e.g. human) as well as two flaws (Unearthed Arcana). This is discussed in detail here.

Noted there, however, is the requirement that you have Intimidate as a class skill—and you can’t get it from a feat (even if you had another feat to spare) because feats are selected last in the character-creation process, after your skills are already decided. And in any event, this character doesn’t have another feat to spare.

This is a problem because sha’ir—the class I’d like to take into anima mage—lacks Intimidate as a class skill (Dragon Compendium). Wizards are able to get around this limitation by being enchanters who take the social proficiency alternate class feature (Unearthed Arcana), but as far as I know, there is nothing similar for sha’ir.

Barring high shenanigans like level drain abuse, retraining misuse, really anything that involves having more HD and then somehow erasing them later, as well as manipulate form in its entirety, is there any way for a 1st-level sha’ir to qualify for anima mage, and wind up a 1st-level sha’ir/1st-level anima mage? This must actually be an ECL 2nd character, so RHD or LA are out.

What I’m basically hoping for is that I’m wrong that there’s no ACF that works for sha’ir here, or else to find out that there’s some way, perhaps, to cause 2 cross-class ranks in Intimidate to retroactively become 4 (while still being 1st level). Stuff for bonus ranks would work, only I’m pretty sure there’s only one of those in the game (and it would require two more feats in any event).

Any 3.5e materials published either by Wizards of the Coast or in Dragon or Dungeon magazines (including 3e material in the same that would be legal in a 3.5e game) is legal. Anything that requires leveling up within a narrow window is heavily frowned upon. Any outside assistance (including magic items created by others) must come from a legal E6 character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Dec 21 '20 at 15:49
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Yes, but E6 makes it harder.

This solution is based around the Rite of Spellscale Assumption (RoSA from now on) [Races of the Dragon p.31], which specifies:

Racial Hit Dice: You lose any racial Hit Dice from your previous race, as well as all benefits gained therefrom (base attack and save bonuses, skill points, hit points, and so on).

This allows us to meet the prerequisite ranks in the Intimidate skill for Anima Mage with the Racial Hit Dice of any humanoid race, as per the RoSA:

Any willing humanoid can undergo the Rite of Spellscale Assumption.

For simplicity's sake I've chosen a Lizardfolk which is easily accessible. Since it has 2 RHD, after taking the 1st Sha'ir level we will have 3 HD, which means 2 feats and maximum cross-class ranks equal to 3. Along with 2 extra feats from flaws, that means a total of 4 feats which are all needed to qualify for Anima Mage as stated by the OP, but we need one extra feat to make this work: Primary Contact (Intimidate), to get the 4th rank in that skill.

I suggest having moderate depravity (Taint rules, Heroes of Horror p.67), which grants an extra feat, to achieve this, and to take the Primary Contact feat as the 3rd HD feat (which we will lose after undergoing the RoSA).

After becoming an Anima Mage next level, all that remains is to undergo the RoSA. It requires 6 days of fasting and studying, along with a 24h salt (worth 2,000gp) bath with another spellscale chanting the whole time.

The tricky part is:

The rite must be performed by a spellscale who can cast the polymorph spell and who has at least 10 ranks in Knowledge (arcana).

And in E6 that's just over the usual limit. With Primary Contact it isn't hard to achieve the 10 ranks in Knowledge (arcana), but for the Polymorph spell there is no "easy" way.

But, since this spell is only being used as part of a ritual that lasts a whole week I think it fits well in the spirit of E6, as in it's documentation and FAQ there is precedent of using magic more powerful that 3rd level through ritualistic means like a rite that requires 20 mages during 3 days to open a portal or summon a titan.

And even if that is not an option, as suggested by the OP, there's the Versatile Spellcaster trick, by which a Wizard could inscribe the spell in its book and then cast it by spending 2 third level slots.

The ritual changes our race from Lizardfolk to Spellscale, along with those 2 RHD and +1 LA, so we go back to being an ECL 2 character. One issue that could happen is that we no longer meet the prerequisites of the PrC, and despite the usual discussion of whether or not you lose your PrC related features when this happens, the RoSA specifies you do:

If you no longer qualify for a prestige class, you lose the benefit of any class features or other special abilities granted by the class. You retain Hit Dice gained from advancing in the class, as well as any improvements to base attack bonus and base save bonuses that the class provided. If you later meet all the prerequisites for the class, you regain the benefits.

But this can be easily avoided by investing in 2 ranks in Intimidate with your 1st level of Anima Mage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I didn’t check the Rite of Spellscale Assumption when you commented, my bad, but... gaining and then losing HD is exactly the sort of thing I didn’t want when I banned level drain abuse. Similar story with HeyICanChan’s suggestion of lycanthropy. I won’t downvote for my mistake, but unfortunately this isn’t going to work for me. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 15 '20 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ As long as you’re here, though, you might want to consider suggesting necropolitan—I think it can serve a similar purpose, while simultaneously protecting us from the downsides of taint. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 15 '20 at 18:10

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