Is there any way to "jump" dead levels in a class? In other words, if a class does not gain any special features, you bypass that level and move directly on to the next level that does gain a special feature? This isn't including spell casters as they usually gain spells at given level, but other classes... BAB and Saves are not included in this, just special class features....

Edit: This is question is mean for dead levels in Prestige classes not base classes. I'm sorry I did not specify that earlier... Playing in a Pathfinder campaign, taking prestige classes from 3.X can really keep a character behind in ways. My question should have been more along the lines of: Is it acceptable to abolish the dead levels in prestige classes when incorporating them into the Pathfinder setting?

There are few (if any) prestige classes that I can think of that taking out the dead levels would make characters OP. Though each prestige class would have to be gone over individually. Some do offer prestige class abilities that are based on the level of that prestige class that would have to be taken into consideration as well...

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sidenote: I can't vouch for 3rd party, but every Paizo Pathfinder class that has less than 6th level casting has no dead levels by design. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Dec 7, 2014 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrLemon: That is intended, but the redesign was not exactly trivial, and required some degree of attention beyond "sure, skip to your next class feature now!" \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ But no, the given answer is still correct; you definitely shouldn't just throw out intended balance devices without replacing them by hand with some other mechanism, in at least as much detail as the original. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanTuggy not saying it was trivial, and it resulted in a lot of minor "filler" class features, such as the Bards "Versatile Performance", which is really just hidden extra skill points (not that there was anything wrong with that, PF Bards are awesome). You could say that PF replaced some of the dead levels with "meh" levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    Dec 9, 2014 at 11:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Meh" levels are worth something in Pathfinder, even if it is only adding a little skill points here and there. But many prestige classes in 3.X don't add anything. I don't consider "+1 to blank casting class" to be much of a filler due to the fact that most prestige classes like that give those on levels where you get something "special" even if it's crap. The whole reason you take prestige classes is due to getting the special features it has to offer. \$\endgroup\$
    – AOKost
    Dec 9, 2014 at 13:22

3 Answers 3



Those "dead" levels are there for a reason. It's supposed to balance the classes. If you want to take the levels beyond that "dead" level, you need to take the dead level first.

You are free to take levels in another class as described in the multi-class rules, if you don't want to advance in that class anymore. But there are no shortcuts to later levels.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say the dead levels are there for "balance". Removing a dead level from a fighter and putting some useless class feature wouldn't change much in the fighter balance and wouldn't balance it against, say, a wizard. They're there for keeping a paced progression of class features. If a class had sneak attack every 3 levels and a feat every 2, there would be levels where the character gets nothing and levels where he gets both a sneak attack dice and a feat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Dec 7, 2014 at 13:22
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I think a bit more recognition of the failure of dead levels to balance classes is also worthwhile. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 7, 2014 at 17:12
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer is correct as-is and any of the suggested changes would lower its quality. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2014 at 23:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the correct answer. Otherwise a disturbingly large number of characters in short-term campaigns would skip straight from level one to level seventeen. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Dec 8, 2014 at 4:31

Negate Dead Levels: Yes, for some.

Skip Dead Levels: No, for all.

Below are articles on WoTC Archives that "fix" the dead level issue. A couple of examples are given of each article.

Dead Levels I



Rally Performance (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a bard hones his skill as a public musician and can reroll a Perform check once per day, but only when attempting to impress audiences for the purpose of earning money. A bard must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll. See Perform on page 79 of the Player's Handbook.

Refine Performance (Ex): At 4th level, a bard learns how to make his performances more appealing to the public of a prosperous city and is considered to have rolled at least a 2 on each d10 or d6 when determining how much money was earned each day from a Perform check. See Perform on page 79 of the Player's Handbook. At 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 16th, and 17th level, a bard is considered to have rolled 1 number higher on each d10 (for example, a least 3 at 5th level, at least 4 at 7th level, etc.). By extension, a bard is considered to have rolled at least 3 on each d6 at 7th level, at least 4 at 11th level, and at least 5 at 16th level. At 19th level, a bard earns the maximum amount of money for his performance.


Undead Intuition (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a cleric can identify undead creatures during an encounter from any distance. The cleric gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (religion) checks to identify undead creatures, but gains no insight about their special powers or vulnerabilities. See Knowledge checks on page 78 of the Player's Handbook. Moreover, the cleric can make these Knowledge (undead) checks untrained. This bonus increases by +1 for each cleric level the character takes after 2nd level.

Dead Levels II



Logical Mind (Ex): At 16th level, an archivist refines their deductive thinking to an efficient, objective edge. An archivist can now decipher two pages of script in 1 minute (10 consecutive full round actions), or 1 page of script in 30 seconds (5 consecutive full round actions) on a successful Decipher Script check. In addition, an archivist no longer draws false conclusions from a failed Decipher Script check.

Academic (Ex): At 19th level, the archivist becomes so certain in the use of Decipher Script that the character can use it reliably even under adverse conditions. When making a skill check with Decipher Script, the archivist may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent the character from doing so.


Clever Wording (Ex): At 4th level, a beguiler starts mastering the ability to verbally transmit information to another character without others understanding it. A beguiler has to fail a Bluff check by 6 or more when delivering a secret message before false information is implied or inferred. Failure by 5 or more means a beguiler can't get the message across. See Bluff checks on pg. 67 of the Player's Handbook. These failed Bluff increments increase by 1 at 9th, 13th, 16th, and 18th level, when a beguiler has to fail a Bluff check by 10 or more before false information is implied or inferred.

Lively Discourse (Ex): At 12th level, a beguiler gains the ability to relay detailed messages, especially those that require specific locations, people and times. The DC is 30 to relay intricate messages with a Bluff check.

Piqued Hearing (Ex): At 17th level, a beguiler is so attuned to conversations with secret messages that noticing them becomes effortless. A beguiler within 30 feet of a conversation containing a secret message is entitled to a Sense Motive check to intercept the transmitted message as if actively listening for it. The beguiler must first be able to hear the conversation with a Listen check.


Is it acceptable to abolish the dead levels in prestige classes when incorporating them into the Pathfinder setting?

Yes. It's acceptable to make any changes to any class, class feature, feat, whatever, that the GM thinks is reasonable (and unspoken but still relevant - that the players also think is reasonable, after they see it in action).

This has nothing to do with Pathfinder versus 3.5. Pathfinder prestige classes are in general far weaker than just taking base classes, with most of their mechanical abilities falling directly into 'basically do nothing' territory (ah yes, a conditional +2 bonus to.. survival). 3.5 prestige classes have a wider power band, with some being godawful but others keeping up with base classes, or exceeding them (sometimes to ludicrous extents).

Adding a bunch of largely pointless abilities (Hyena Grin - +1 to intimidate when you outnumber your foe, Deep Contacts - in the town of Riverton you know 3 black market arms dealers who will do you small favours) to classes or prestige classes is fairly irrelevant balancewise, especially compared to full spellcasters gaining another level of spells and more spells per day. It's perfectly acceptable but will not solve the deeper underlying problem of class balance and giving each character a set of interesting and thematic abilities, which pathfinder did not appreciably 'solve' when porting the 3.5 ruleset.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .