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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
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:49

3 Answers 3

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Some Options:

  • If your are in Faerûn, you could be from Kozakura, detailed (well, briefly sketched out) in Dragon 315 on page 63. You get Intimidate as a bonus class skill and your favored class becomes Samurai; this is an extra racial trait. It's a version of the human clans found in Oriental Adventures. If you're actually playing Oriental Adventures, the Lion Clan Human's free Knowledge (War) as a class skill was updated to Intimidate in the OA 3.5 update in Dragon 318, on page 34.

  • You could create a custom affiliation, the rules for which are found in the Player's Handbook II. Though the section on creating your own affiliations doesn't mention making a skill a class skill, the example Land of Honor, on page 175, gives Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) as a class skill to members with sufficient affiliation scores, so there's a precedent at least.

Less Tenable Options:

  • The spell embrace the wild, found in Savage Species, p. 65. It's a druid 3/ranger 3 spell that gives you the skill ranks of an animal (among other effects) for 10 min./level, though they don't stack with your own. It's technically accessible in E6 as a third level spell, but it's range: personal so you'd need a scroll and some UMD to cast it as a 1st level Sha'ir. Finding an animal with Intimidate ranks is nontrivial, too; you'd probably have to train your own.
  • Channel a celestial, as per the rules in Book of Exalted Deeds, page 23. You can invite a celestial to cruise around in your body, and then use that celestial's skill ranks, or your own, whichever is higher. Is qualifying for a prestige class "using" a skill? Unclear. Plenty of celestials have ranks in intimidate, though.
  • Lycanthropy is notably the easiest form of "having more HD and then somehow erasing them later;" the were-dire-bat in Lost Empires of Faerûn has the perfect number of RHD to get 2 more cross-class ranks in Intimidate while still squeezing in a level of Anima Mage at level 6, assuming your DM doesn't let you be a were-fleshraker. This doesn't seem to be what your looking for, but at least lycanthropy has clear, canonical methods of removing specific HD, which are readily available in E6 (in particular, remove curse).

Of these options, I think the clear winners are the Kozakuran if you're in the Forgotten Realms and the custom affiliation if you're not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for Kozakuran/Lion Clan; that’s perfect. To be honest, the rest seem dubious to me. For the custom affiliation, you would need to have that affiliation during character creation for it to really work, which I doubt is possible. I guess there’s always psychic reformation; 530 gp isn’t impossible for a not-yet-2nd-level character, though finding a psion for hire who knows it might be tricky. You should at least mention that issue, I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, correction: since psychic reformation is a 4th-level power, finding someone who will manifest it for you is very difficult indeed in E6, and not just a matter of 530 gp. I am doubtful that you could plausibly do so at 1st level; at that point, the DM is basically just assisting you and you might as well ask to just houserule the skill list in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, Oriental Adventures includes a rule saying under human racial traits, “If the character comes from one of the great clans, this [human bonus] feat must be an ancestor feat.” No metamagic feat is an ancestor feat for the Lion Clan, nor are Bind Vestige, Improved Bind Vestige, or Precocious Apprentice (obviously). So it probably doesn’t work for Lion Clan. Kozakura still seems legit though. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan The Dragon #318 article “Oriental Adventures Update: Eastern Flavor” on Ancestor Feats changes this somewhat, saying, "Human characters from one of the great clans are no longer required to spend their bonus feat slot on an ancestor feat. Choosing an ancestor feat is a good option for many characters, but never a requirement. Any character can choose an ancestor feat, but only at 1st level. No character can have more than one ancestor feat" (37). (Also, the Kara-tur ancestor feats from #315 say pretty much the same thing.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Nice! I was just about to say that Dragon 315 says the same about the ancestor feats in Kara-Tur: “Human characters are never required to spend their bonus feat slot on an ancestor feat,” pg. 64. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:26
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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
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 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
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 18:10
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More Feats!

There are a few feats that would make Intimidate a class skill:

  • Apprentice: Soldier (Dungeon Master's Guide II, 176, plus Knowledge: Local)
  • Martial Study: Devoted Spirit (Tome of Battle, 31)
  • Dread Tyranny [initiate] (Races of Destiny, 154) (Cleric 3rd only)

I'd suggest Martial Study [Devoted Spirit], as only that and Apprentice [Soldier] are available to the Sha'ir at first level, and a maneuver once per encounter might be useful. Though you can't, by the rules, add your skill points after taking feats at first level, the Open Minded feat adds 5 skill points when you take it (Expanded Psionics Handbook, 48), permitting the character to have 4 ranks in Intimidate, with one left over.

However, rather than 2 feats, you have no feats available.

Become Tainted

Accruing Moderate taint allows a character to take a bonus feat, as long as they qualify for it (Heroes of Horror, 67), and accruing severe taint gives a second feat. The mental depravity and physical corruption can be very difficult to deal with, however (63-6).

So Die First

(HoH, 62)

[...]undead creatures are immune to any negative effects from taint. They automatically have effective corruption and depravity scores equal to one-half their Charisma score, +1 for undead[.] They take no penalties due to these taint scores, but they can use them to qualify for feats or prestige classes[...]

To become undead, a third level character can take the Necropolitan template (Libris Mortis, 115). This will cost 3000 gold, lowers their level by one, and then costs enough XP so that they're a first level character again, with 500 XP. Depending on the character's Wisdom and Charisma scores, they may already be Moderately tainted (Heroes of Horror, 62).

Possible starting 'build':

Human Sha'ir takes Martial Study: Devoted Spirit, Precocious Apprentice (purchased with a flaw), and (purchased with a second flaw) Bind Vestige, and a metamagic feat such as Still Spell with his Human bonus feat. He then gains two levels, undergoes the Ritual of Crucimigration and becomes necropolitan, gaining some, if not enough, taint to become Moderately tainted. He gains more taint if necessary to become moderately tainted and then takes the Improved Bind Vestige feat. Upon gaining enough taint to become severely tainted, he can take the Open Minded feat, learn to be more intimidating, and upon regaining 2nd level, he can become a Sha'ir 1/Anima Mage 1.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This feels like you didn’t read the question closely. Even if you get Intimidate in-class with a feat, you assign skill points before you select feats, so you can’t put more than two (cross-class) ranks in Intimidate as a 1st-level sha’ir. You can get around that with, e.g., psychic reformation, but as a 4th-level power, good luck finding that at all in an E6 game. Gaining and losing HD (including as a necropolitan) is explicitly verboten—I gave Yopi Lapi a pass on that (didn’t vote) since I hadn’t explicitly included that in the question, but it’s there now. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan The necropolitan is not there to abuse the level loss mechanic, but to abuse the moderate taint mechanic... I see that you are being strict about the skills before feats paradigm... I did indeed overlook that... \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mean, we are abusing the rules mightily to even consider an ECL 2nd anima mage, so if we’re going to take advantage of RAW like that, we have to also take the drawbacks of RAW that strict. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Fixing with Severe Taint and Open Minded \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, that’s valid. Not really the kind of answer I was looking for, but it fits the parameters of the question, so +1. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 4:12

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