Let's say, you want a certain PrC. Its flavor is perfect for your character, its mechanics are nice and the only bad thing about it are the prerequesites - like, let's say, Dodge+several other feats. In cases like this people usually advice to take a dip - like, in Cleric, which would provide some feats by the means of chosen domains. This method, in my opinion, has some major flaws - like, delaying your main class progression, even more so in play-by-post forum games. But what if, instead of dips, I'd just use the feats provided by flaws?
For example, the Master of Nine from Tome of Battle. It has Adaptive Style, Improved Unarmed Strike, Blind Fight, Improved Initiative and Dodge as prereqs. Except for the Dodge feat, those are actually useful. By taking Unarmed Swordsage Human with 2 flaws, you can take all of those feats at 1st character level, and if you are clever about your abilities, you won't need any other feats to make yourself useful - so isn't the dip route kind of suboptimal compared to this?


2 Answers 2


Typically, one does not assume a variant like Flaws when giving out generic advice. In almost all cases, though, Flaws are the cheapest way to get more feats. Several are extremely minor penalties (Vulnerable, plus one of Shaky or Noncombatant, for example, provide two feats for the low, low cost of −1 AC and −2 to attacks you don’t make often). This is always cheaper than a level dip.

That said, a cleric dip is not just about bonus feats. If it’s a cloistered cleric, you get 6+Int skill points, a great skill list, a smattering of spells (including identify as a 1st-level divine spell, with no material component), the Knowledge Devotion feat, great saves, and Turn Undead, which can potentially power divine feats. Several divine feats are excellent.

For a class like Master of the Nine, which requires an enormous number of feats, I’d do both. Flaws and a cleric dip provide a whopping four of the required feats (and the unarmed swordsage variant gets you the fifth).

Furthermore, initiators are inherently multiclass-friendly, since they add half their level in other classes to their initiator level; if you dip cleric, you can also dip something else at absolutely no loss of initiator level. Barbarian adds great stats and potentially Pounce. Rogue or scout add more damage and skills. Conjurer could get you the ridiculous Abrupt Jaunt, and between the level of cleric and the level of wizard, you could use the overwhelming majority of wands with no Use Magic Device check. Psychic warrior is always a nice option: a bonus feat, expansion or dimension hop, these are nice things.

If you pair cleric with three other class levels, you lose another initiator level, but as an ECL 5 swordsage 1, you have initiator level 3 at your first class level – which means you can include 2nd-level maneuvers in those initial six maneuvers. It allows you to combine several of the above, and also opens up options like paladin for Divine Grace (the Serenity feat can make it based on Wisdom like your other features), factotum for Brains Over Brawn (goes fantastically with your Knowledge Devotion), swashbuckler for Weapon Finesse and Insightful Strike, or knight for Bulwark of Defense.

So I think you have much more to gain by judicious dipping here than you do single-classed. You go from needing to devote a good chunk of your feats towards entry, to having all of that taken care of and a bunch of other nice class features besides, all for the cost of 1 initiator level. If you drop a second initiator level, you can even get potentially better maneuvers, and a lot of class features.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I still believe that class dips are inappropriate in play-by-post forum games (some of which may go as far as 1 level per 1-2 YEARS, depending on the group), but your answer is basically everything that needs to be said about the matter 8) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2014 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Baka-Mastermind Yes, it depends heavily on how many levels you expect to get, but I don't think PbP is "special" here. If you start at level 10, being Cleric 1/Factotum 3/Swordsage 3/Master of the Nine 3 is at least as valid as Swordsage 7/Master of the Nine 3. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 25, 2014 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, EXP penalties for multiclassing. I don't really think it's really a nice idea to have more than 2 base classes, especially if the game is slow as it is \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2014 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baka-Mastermind If you are claiming to actually use those rules, you are literally the first person I've met to do so. I suggest you don't; they're really poorly designed, and if you aren't taking advantage of 3.x's class system I really can't imagine why you'd play the system at all; it has rather little else going for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 25, 2014 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, afaik, all the forums I play use those (since they are core rules, not just variants), through I may be mistaken since I usually don't even dip in ONE additional class, much less in several 8) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2014 at 17:59

Any Method That Results In The Mechanics You Want Is Valid

There's reams of discussion on power levels and 'roleplay' vs 'rollplay' and crap, but it boils down to this - any legitimate rules choice that results in a character you want to play (that doesn't ruin fun for anyone else) is a right one - and if you can't find a choice that does that, you need either a more experienced rules-user or a GM houserule.

The 'feat tax' in 3.5 for certain PrCs is often gratuitous and requires especially terrible feats that no player should ever pick ever for reasons of boring.

If dipping Cleric doesn't suit your fluff, but there's no other way to get the feats you need for Lyric Thaumaturge, then you need to find another way of going about it, or ask the GM for a houserule.

Stripping extraneous feat requirements from PrC requirements is not a very onerous thing to ask a GM to do.

In terms of RAW char-op, though, Flaws are basically the best way to get 'free' Feats.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree but I'm just not sure that this answer is helpful to the querent. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 25, 2014 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I took it a step further, and addressed what I believe to be the cause of the question - stupid entry requirement feats. I also added a minor addenda in terms of rules as written optimization, and briefly covered the metagame/roleplaying problem of dipping a class like Cleric. I don't think these are things that have been covered in your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Apr 25, 2014 at 20:14

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