This question is partially inspired by this question, but it's a problem that I've run into in a few high-level 3.5 games.

Suppose that I'm a high-level Sun Elf wizard. For whatever reason, I don't have any skill points to spare to get Use Magic Device: either I'm level 20 and the game isn't going epic, or all of my skill points are tied up in some other build requirement or something.

However, I want to be able to cast a spell that's not on my class spell list. I can't trust anyone else to cast this spell for me; I need to be able to cast it myself. It's acceptable to purchase a scroll or other magic item from someone else and cast the spell out of that, as long as I'm the one doing the actual casting.

How would I go about doing this? Hard requirements for an answer are:

  • No XP cost to me.
  • No need to take any feats, skill points, or other build options that can only be taken on a level up.
  • No retraining, psychic reformation, or other methods of changing my existing build to temporarily take other build options.
  • GP cost less than 190,000 gp (1/4th the gold a level 20 character has).

The best answers will:

  • Give access to 9th level spells at 20th caster level.
  • Access any spell list.
  • Have lower cost.
  • \$\begingroup\$ What race is your character? \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Oct 2 '15 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added my race to the question: Sun Elf. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 2 '15 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a real answer as you'll not be able to cast it "yourself", but what about custom single use, use-activated magic item? I may make it into an answer if you would like. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '15 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp If you can provide evidence that such items are allowable under the rules and give reasonable pricing guidelines, then sure. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 3 '15 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the caster's paranoia so intense that even were he to convince a creature to provide a service, he still wouldn't trust the creature to cast the spell on his behalf? (Making, for example, planar binding et al. not an option.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4 '15 at 2:00

Use Scrolls of Wish or Limited Wish

The Wish scrolls cost 28,825 gp and allow you to:

Duplicate any wizard or sorcerer spell of 8th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.

Duplicate any other spell of 6th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.

Duplicate any wizard or sorcerer spell of 7th level or lower even if it’s of a prohibited school.

Duplicate any other spell of 5th level or lower even if it’s of a prohibited school.

The Limited Wish scrolls cost 3,775 gp and allow you to:

Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 6th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.

Duplicate any other spell of 5th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.

Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 5th level or lower, even if it’s of a prohibited school.

Duplicate any other spell of 4th level or lower, even if it’s of a prohibited school.

It's not "the best" answer, but you can cast any of these things at your own Caster Level (probably 20) and allow you to cast any spell up to 6th level, assuming you are a Generalist.

(You could also just them as a spell, but then they costs XP to use)

  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't help out higher level divine spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Oct 3 '15 at 13:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It meets all the hard requirements and most of the "best answer" requirements, which makes it a valid answer. It doesn't meet all of the best requirements, so it could be there's a better option. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Oct 3 '15 at 19:19

You may be interested in custom use-activated magic items (table #2 here).

First thing to say is: you wouldn't be able to apply most abilities of your character to that stuff. As magic item's caster level will be a fixed value and the like, it may potentially cause some problems, if:

  • you are aiming at caster level significantly higher than your character level, you are investing in it, and want that caster level to apply to that non-wizard spell;
  • you gaining levels (and increasing your caster level), but your item is not, thus losing in power as adventure goes;
  • you plan to use some metamagic on that spell.

There may be ways even around it, but if you didn't care much about the above issues, magic items should be a good option to you.

Use-activated magic items don't require any features, so you may gain access to any spell list you like. You should consider how often do you plan to use that (or those) non-wizard spell.

  • If you plan to use it only occasionally, it should be better to buy several single use, use-activated items. The cost for the item containing CL20 9lvl spell would be 9'000 gp (9 x 20 x 50).
  • And if you plan to use it each day, than it probably should be simple use-activated item. CL20 9lvl spell will cost you 360'000 gp (9 x 20 x 2000). Ouch! Though, you may reduce the cost by assigning charges per day. It will cost you 72'000 gp (9 x 20 x 2000 / 5) per charge. And charges are regained each day.

You may, of course, reduce caster level to reduce the cost (or reverse this). Or you may try to ask for race- and/or class-specific item, which should reduce the price further. I am, unfortunately, not familiar with the source for the later, and may only suggest to check DMG, MIC, and SpC for such rules. They should be in some book depending on internet treads.


(Caution: Super Evil Action) Shapechange into a Greater Doppelganger1.

Consume Identity (Su): A greater doppelganger who eats the brain of a Medium-size or smaller humanoid victim absorbs the mind, memories, and personality of that victim. After consuming a victim’s identity, the greater doppelganger can assume the victim’s form with 100% accuracy and possess the victim’s memories, abilities, and alignment. The only exceptions are cleric spells of 2nd level or greater, a paladin’s special abilities, and other powers that are granted by the deities.

But, you would still have the divine spell-casting ability, doesn't matter if it is only up to 2nd level; which would satisfy spell trigger components.

Find a victim of the spell you wish to cast. Eat his/her brain. Cast your spell. You could even cast True Resurrection afterward if you feel bad for your victim.

1Greater Doppelgangers are found on page 35 of Monsters of Faerun.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl Found you a better example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Oct 3 '15 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarifications on the downvotes would be appreciated. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 3 '15 at 17:59
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp This answer has been heavily edited, and it used to have a number of incorrect suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 3 '15 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you retain the memories after you shapechange back. The memories are part of the Consume Identity supernatural ability (as explained in the rest of the description you didn't quote) and you can't keep the supernatural abilities when in your original form. Each time, you'd need to eat a new brain of another cleric (or the one you resurrected). \$\endgroup\$
    – burlap
    Oct 3 '15 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @burlap [...] and? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Oct 3 '15 at 22:35

Creating an item that gives you proficiency in Use Magic Device is probably the cheapest way to get what you want.

Listed in the DMG and here on the SRD are guidelines you can use to create magic items that don't fit the norm of items you can find in the Magic items compendium or the like.

The cost to create a Magic item of Use Magic Device is:

Skill Bonus: Bonus squared × 100 gp

If you wanted to succeed 100% of the time to use a wand, 40,000gp for a +20 Bonus.

To be able to use scrolls that you already possessed of up to 9th level without failure using Use Magic Device, You'd need a +34 bonus to pass the decipher check 100% to identify the spell on the scroll 100% of the time, so that'd cost 115,600gp to get on a magic item.

Finally, to cast any known spell that you have a scroll off at Maximum you'd need a +37 Bonus to Use Magic Device, at a maximum caster level of 17. That would cost 136,900gp Total. Specifically though, you specified that the spells must be cast at 20th caster level, so that bumps you up to a +40 necessary modifier at 160,000gp for a 100% success rate.

This would allow you to access spells of any spell list, give you access to any ninth level spell on a spell list, you could cast these spells at caster level 20, and comes in 30,000gp below your budget.

Once you do that, you can use Shapechange to change into a Midgard Dwarf.

Midgard Dwarves get the following ability:

Master Smith (Ex): Midgard dwarves gain Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wondrous Item, and Forge Ring as bonus feats. They are considered to possess the prerequisites necessary to craft any magic item of those types, even if they do not otherwise meet the requirements or have the ability to cast the necessary spells.

This allows you to create Magic weapons, Armors, Wondrous items, and rings with which you don't have to have the necessary spell prerequisite. Meaning that you can put any spell you can think of on any spell list into a Wondrous item with a usage per day limit and create the item you want for half the cost.

The only barrier is that you have to be an outsider to polymorph into one. This is where the Fiendform Spell from the Spell compendium comes in. With Fiendform you become an outsider, which allows you to Shapechange into another outsider for a longer duration. You could use this to change into an Efreeti to grant your party three wishes a day, you can make any magic item you want as a Midgard Dwarf to gain access to UMD, or you can find any specific spell-like ability that a creature can cast and shapechange yourself into that creature to gain access to the spell. (Shapechange is broken)

Midgard Dwarves also get Use Magic Device as a racial skill along with a +4 bonus to UMD, have the following bonuses to their stats: +6 STR +10 CON +4 INT +4 WIS, +3 Natural Armor, 16 SR, and they also get 8 Racial hit die as well as a Bonus +8 to all Craft skills. (See Frostburn for more details)

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ -1: UMD is trained only and OP said he wanted to spend no ranks in it. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2 '15 at 21:57
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Weaveworker is still correct, though. The kind of magic item that gives you skill bonuses specifically gives a Competence bonus, which isn't skill ranks. Since UMD is trained-only, getting a large competence bonus doesn't let you actually use the skill. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 2 '15 at 23:41
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ That's not correct. Midgard Dwarves have a +4 racial bonus to UMD, but having a racial bonus doesn't make you trained. the text on skill training specifically says that you need "at least 1 rank in the skill", which is not provided through Shapechange. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 3 '15 at 0:44
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich Exactly. In all circumstances that I know of, monsters that have racial bonuses also have ranks in those skills, so they don't need to worry about using them untrained. However, if you get racial bonuses through shapechange, then you don't have those ranks, since skill ranks aren't an extraordinary or supernatural ability, and thus you remain untrained in that skill. If you get a bonus in a knowledge skill you don't have, you're still untrained, same as if you wore an item that gave you such a bonus. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Oct 3 '15 at 1:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a precedent for items allowing you to make knowledge checks untrained (Kraken's bracelet). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Oct 3 '15 at 8:41

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