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The members of our group always take infinite effective levels of Uncanny Trickster when they take the second level of the class, in addition to the +1 to whatever other class they're exceeding the level cap of. It's not a big deal as far as I can tell, since the class features of UT ∞ are not actually that powerful, but a recent question led me to google around some optimization threads that suggest, for example, pairing it with Legacy Champion to have the classes' features create a feedback loop. As far as I can tell, there's never any reason to put off taking the infinite levels of UT as soon as you hit UT 2, as you can put the last level's +1 into whatever else you wanted to take. Is there some reason that having infinite effective class levels for the purposes of UT class features is a bad thing? Is there any other reason not to do this (besides UT 2 being horribly underpowered on its own for most builds)? What are we missing here?

Background info:

Q:Why would you take this class at all? A:Ctrl+F Uncanny trickster or Legacy Champion in this thread.

Q:But doesn't anyone disagree? A:Sure, these people do. The argument, as they freely admit, isn't very strong, though.

Q:How do effective levels work? A:Why, we have a answer that addresses that here

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There's some fan support for the process the question proposes...

This 2014 thread suggests the process proposed in the question, but roots the process's legality in the consensus about various supermount builds (originally, I think, from this 2005 thread but also 2010 and 2012). This 2009 thread and this 2011 thread surrender to the topic at hand rather than rehashing (unexplained) arguments forbidding gaining levels beyond those printed. This 2012 thread says such gains are as per the rules as written yet offers no support.

In other words, the Internet thinks it's possible a DM may agree to extend either a less-than-10-level prestige class beyond its printed levels or a 10-level-or-more prestige class beyond its printed levels pre-epic, but a DM can say No and not feel like a jerk.

...But the uncanny trickster's special ability class features probably should neither increase a less-than-10-level prestige class's effective level beyond the class's listed levels nor increase a 10-level-or-more prestige class's effective level beyond 10 pre-epic

The prestige class uncanny trickster (Complete Scoundrel 67-70) at level 2 gains the special ability class features that says

At each level after 1st, you gain class features (including spellcasting ability) and an increase in effective level as if you had also gained a level in a class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level. You do not, however, gain the benefit of your previous class’s Hit Dice, attack progression, skill points, or saving throws. If you had more than one class before becoming an uncanny trickster, you must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining class features. (67)

Emphasis mine. So it's clear, beyond what's listed, no further guidance is provided elsewhere as to what is granted by an effective level as if.

Further, the Dungeon Master's Guide on Epic Characters says that

Despite the twenty-level limit indicated in the Player’s Handbook, you can advance a class level beyond 20th by using the rules in this book. You can also advance the class level of a ten-level prestige class beyond 10th level, but only if the character level of the advancing character is already 20th or higher. You cannot advance the class level of a class with fewer than ten levels beyond the maximum described for that class, regardless of the character level of the advancing character. (206)

Thus, whether an effective level as if can exceed these limits is the DM's call. Given the hard line the DMG draws, it appears the purpose of the special ability class features probably is neither to allow short prestige classes like uncanny trickster to be extended—especially not infinitely—, nor to allow 10-level-or-more prestige classes to reach levels beyond those printed pre-epic, but, instead, to allow the special ability to do what I expect most people let it do: make a character a little better for what Wizards of the Coast believes is a relatively small price.

Be careful what you wish for

Nevertheless, a player may convince the DM that these ersatz levels do, in fact, extend classes beyond their printed levels. Such a player should be aware that the DM then concocts house rules extending arbitrarily every base class, monster class, and prestige class the DM allows into the campaign.1 That's potentially a lot of work, and the DM might, instead, simply ban the prestige class uncanny trickster (and, by extension, Weapon of Legacy's prestige class legacy champion) for being too much trouble.

With minimum shenanigans, the way it probably really should work (unless the DM says it doesn't)

At level 2 the character can pick to apply the special ability class features to uncanny trickster. This grants the character the benefits of being an effectively as if level 3 uncanny trickster.

Effective as if level 3 of uncanny trickster also includes the special ability class features, but the character can't pick uncanny trickster again—there aren't anymore levels of uncanny trickster to gain—, so the character's stuck applying the second iteration of the special ability class features to a different class.

Finally, were the creature to take the real level 3 of uncanny trickster, the creature'd gain no special abilities from doing so; from his effective level he already had those special abilities.

I suspect even using the uncanny trickster's special ability class features to increase the uncanny trickster's uncanny trickster effective level is an oversight, but there doesn't appear to be any harm in it. The +1 to base attack bonus, +3 to base Reflex saving throws, 3 bonus tricks, 3 favorite tricks, and the special ability tricky defense spread over 2 levels still isn't worth that lone caster level. (However, the extra skill points, Tumble and Use Magic Device as class skills, and d6 Hit Die might have short-term appeal.)


1 A put-upon DM forced to concoct such house rules could extend classes to include entirely new special abilities, like This Player Always Pays for Pizza.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately, I feel that I must downvote this use of the Epic Level Handbook. This isn’t even a matter of specific-vs-general, so much as something-specific-to-something-else-being-applied-generally, which is an invalid generalization. The rules therein are for Epic play only, and it simply is not a valid source for anything regarding pre-Epic play. The limitation on advancing 10-level PrCs past 10th is a limitation on the new ability that Epic Level Handbook adds to do so in the first place. It would not be a limit on other ways of doing so, e.g. with uncanny trickster or legacy champion. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 19 '15 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thank you for making me find a more authoritative source. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 19 '15 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...why does the DMG even mention Epic characters? Weird. Still, if the quote is the same, the rules are still discussing optional Epic-level rules, and define one way to extend some prestige classes (being Epic), which doesn’t really apply to other ways to extend prestige classes (e.g. legacy champion and uncanny trickster). It’s a rock-solid argument for intent, if one was ever necessary to begin with, but I feel you claim more than you’re backing up when you say it’s purely a GM’s call (at least, more than usual). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 19 '15 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I don't think the DMG mentions anything about its epic rules being optional. And I would never use the I word without an authorial citation. (I looked! Bummer about McArtor, too--he was only 37.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 19 '15 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wizards ran a really nice week-long memorial to McArtor on dailymtg.com, actually, with all their staff writing about their favorite stories with him and showcasing his best work (some great stuff, too). It was quite touching, and definitely gave a very different insight into how things work over there. Anyway, optional or not, that quote still applies only to that way of extending a prestige class, not necessarily to others. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 19 '15 at 20:15
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This is a rules loophole, that I think many DMs would see as abusing the rules.

If this was intended use, then why bother to write a 3rd level of UT (aside from Tricky Defence)? Just have 2nd level say "You get all skill tricks as favourite tricks, plus one effective level of another class".

(likewise for Legacy Champion)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, the third level is important because the MAIN benefit of UT is that it lets you exceed level caps. UT lets you exceed the cap by one, and you ALWAYS take the next one cause it lets you exceed the cap by two. But your answer seems to be the reasoning a lot of people are using, so I'm gonna wait a bit and then probably accept it. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer May 18 '15 at 3:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'Just have 2nd level say "You get all skill tricks as favourite tricks"' ... "plus your level is now any arbitrarily large number you pick." \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 18 '15 at 6:34

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