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I want to be casting enlarge person with my Ranger, but for a variety of reasons Sword of the Arcane Order is awkward (low-Int, feat slots, can't take it 'til level 6, etc.). Can it be done without that feat, preferably at low-level?

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There is no good solution, just multiple mediocre ones.

Enlarge person is actually remarkably difficult to get on rangers; Sword of the Arcane Order is of course the simplest, but as mentioned, it has problems for low level and low-Int rangers. If you absolutely need it added to your spell list (for example, needing to be able to cast it as a divine spell for a prerequisite), there is no unambiguously-functional option other than SotAA (and even the ambiguously-functional one, presented at the very end of this answer, is jank and worse than just taking SotAA).

So let's go over the alternatives!

Hidden Talent (Expansion) + Dorjes

Page 67 of the Expanded Psionics Handbook has the Hidden Talent feat, which gets you a 1st-level psionic power off any list and 2 power points to manifest it. Taking expansion with this will let you use that power to get bigger... except that expansion has a 1 round/level duration instead of a 1 minute/level duration, so it's useless on its own. However, being able to manifest the power lets you use a dorje of expansion (like a wand, but for psionics) to manifest the power. A manifester level 3 dorje of expansion costs 2,250gp, and gives you 50 charges of expansion with the augment that increases its duration to 10 minutes/level (so, 30 minutes per use, and probably the most cost-effective pick for this).

(Note that, as dorjes can't be made with a ML more than five higher than the minimum ML of the power, you cannot get a dorje of expansion that uses the alternate augments that speed up the manifestation or increase the size gained. Still, fifty 30-minute-duration size increases are probably the best bang for your buck, and becomes available at 4th level WBL.)

Potions

A potion of enlarge person costs 50gp × the CL of the potion, so you can use that if you're willing to deal with potions having higher action costs than most things (action to draw, action to drink). The duration is worse than the dorje path above, and it's less cost-effective than the scrolls and wands path below, but it at least doesn't take a feat to use.

Touchstones

Per the Planar Handbook, the Touchstone feat (Sandstorm p. 53) allows you to choose planar touchstones, and unlike the Planar Touchstone feat in that book, you can access this feat earlier by having a 250gp focus item keyed to the touchstone in question. The earliest this is available is level 3 due to WBL concerns, but by taking Touchstone for the Catalogues of Enlightenment (Planar Handbook p. 166) you gain access to the granted power from a cleric domain of your choice.

By taking the Magic Domain's granted power, you can now use spell completion and spell trigger items as if you were a wizard of half your cleric level (minimum 1st level). Note that, while it is entirely unstated what your effective cleric level is for the Catalogues of Enlightenment, due to the Magic Domain's callout of a minimum result, you don't need to worry about that. Touchstone (Catalogues of Enlightenment [Magic Domain]) will allow you to use scrolls, wands, staves, and minor schemas as if you were a 1st level wizard, allowing access to the following items:

  • 25gp: Scroll of enlarge person (lasts 1 minute, single-use)
  • 750gp: Wand of enlarge person (lasts 1 minute, 50 uses)
  • 400gp: Minor schema of enlarge person (lasts 1 minute, 1/day use; Magic of Eberron p. 122)

If your DM rules that you have an effective cleric level equal to your HD for the Catalogues of Enlightenment, you could also use the Gluttony Domain (Spell Compendium p. 274), which has the following granted power:

For a total time per day of 1 round per Cleric level you possess, you can increase your size as if you were affected by the enlarge person spell. Activating the power or ending it is a free action.

Duergar Variants

The duergar is a dwarf variant with +1 level adjustment and enlarge person as well as invisibility as spell-like abilities 1/day. Lesser duergar (Player's Guide to Faerûn p. 190) lose the invisibility SLA in exchange for being LA +0, and thus would let you get access to enlarge person from 1st level onward. Likewise, the baseline LA +0 part of the savage progressions duergar also has the same tradeoff; you get enlarge person 1/day but lose several other abilities of the race. With either of these, you can then take the Magic in the Blood feat (Player's Guide to Faerûn p. 40) at 1st level to boost the uses to 3/day.

Specific Magic Items

The belt of growth (Magic Item Compendium p. 73) costs 3,000gp and lets you up your size as if by enlarge person 1/day for 10 minutes. You can afford this by 5th level.

There is also the option of the 100gp shifter braid (Races of Eberron p. 174), which is a consumable item usable only by shifters, activates when beginning your shifting, and grants you enlarge person for the shift's duration at no extra action cost.

Dishonorable Mention: Arcane Disciple

The ambiguously-functional option implied earlier. There are several domains that grant enlarge person as a 1st-level spell, and if your DM follows the school of thought that the Alternative Source Spell or Southern Magician feats would count your ranger levels as arcane spellcaster levels, you could theoretically daisy-chain your way into getting enlarge person on your spell list with that. Note though that this is, even if your DM goes with that (they might not!), still not going to come online before level 6 in all likelihood, and requires multiple feats or a dip. At that point, you may as well just dip cleric or wizard or something and cast the spell normally—it's just not worth it. Still, for the sake of completeness, something like Magical Training into Alternative Source Spell into Arcane Disciple (Strength Domain) would work. But don't do this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer! As a side note: a potion belt (from Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting)(price: 1 gp!) reduces the action cost for potions to one standard action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Dec 8, 2023 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peregrin Did someone say potions? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2023 at 8:15
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On page 198 of the 3.5e DMG, there is a section titled Researching Original Spells.

Similarly to this answer about adding a sorcerer spell to the wizard spell list, if the DM allows it, a ranger can research a spell and try to have it added to the ranger spell list. If you can find similar spells that show that this kind of spell should be allowed for a ranger, then perhaps that can help get it made at your table.

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