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I am currently looking to build a Cleric of Kossuth with levels in Elemental Savant (Complete Arcane, p.22). They got some neat tricks that I would love to integrate into my character.

However, the Elemental Savant has a 8/10 caster progression, missing out on caster levels at 5 and 10. This will put me behind in leveling, and I am looking to mitigate this by somehow gaining these levels anyway. The only trick I know to gain levels faster doesn't work because this character will likely be divine-casting only (but this is not necessarily a requirement!)

So I am wondering, is this possible? My initial idea was to go Cleric 5 to gain entry, go Elemental Savant from there and finish with five levels in whatever (likely Cleric), but I'm willing to look at other options. Do note that Elemental Savant requires Knowledge (Arcana) 8, the Energy Substitution [Fire] feat and at least three spells with the [Fire] descriptor (one of whom must be level 3). And as a Cleric of Kossuth all alignments except CG and CE are allowed.

I am aware that doing this will be tantamount to cheesing the system, and I would rather not use third party materials.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you need a prestige class that increases your spellcasting by +2 level by taking 1 level (that exists... in third party material) or do you just need a higher caster level? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '16 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I want to catch up on the 2 levels of spells that I do not get from the 8/10 progression. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Feb 19 '16 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ So the first option then? I think doing that using official rules requires heaping amounts of hot, stinky cheese (but I'm also sure @KRyan knows how), so you should make that clear that's an option... and/or that third party is acceptable. Do you also really need such a class to be designed for Third Edition (rather than 3.5)? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 19 '16 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I actually don’t. Getting higher spell levels anyway, sure, but actually accelerating the progression? I don’t think that option exists (or should). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 19 '16 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan That's a very persuasive analysis of the question's aboutness. Thanks! I'll add the [rules-as-written] but not [optimization] tag. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '16 at 16:15
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I recommend against any DM allowing it, but a (weak) case could be made

Alternate Source Spell and Southern Magician are two feats that allow you to use one type (arcane, divine) of spell as the other type.

The idea here is to get your cleric class to count as both an “arcane spellcasting class” and a “divine spellcasting class” and use mystic theurge to advance it twice per level. This is pretty much universally ruled invalid, despite the rules being admittedly unclear.

Anyway, Southern Magician is from Forgotten Realms, and requires you to be a Mulan human. Since you worship a Forgotten Realms deity, and not one usually worshiped by Mulan, I’m guessing you don’t qualify. Moreover, Southern Magician contains the following line, which Customer Service used to argue that it could not be used to enter mystic theurge:

The actual source of the spell's power doesn't change, nor does its means of preparation. You are merely weaving the strands of magic together in an unconventional way that makes the spell behave somewhat differently.

Alternate Source Spell is harder to get (you have to already have both arcane and divine spells before you can take it), but it lacks both the racial requirement and blurb about “power source” from Southern Magician. So you could, assuming your DM is insane and allows this, dip a level of some arcane spellcasting class, losing yet another cleric level, and then take three levels of mystic theurge to make up for that and the levels lost to a previous prestige class. And, potentially, keep going for another seven levels, rocketing past where a cleric is supposed to be, breaking the game even more than a regular cleric does.

For the elemental savant in particular...

One could argue that, in the case of a Cleric 5/Elemental Savant 10, taking a single level of some arcane class and then four levels of mystic theurge isn’t really broken. After all, at 19th level you wind up with exactly the spellcasting of a 19th-level cleric, and only at 20th do you jump ahead of a regular cleric to 21st (which is meaningless because even under the Epic rules the 21st level of cleric does not grant any improvements to spellcasting beyond caster level).

And this is certainly true, but it’s a wrong solution to the problem. It sets horrible precedents, requires a bizarre dip in some random arcane class, and then mystic theurge isn’t actually doing the thing that mystic theurge claims to do on the tin.

A better solution is to just houserule the elemental savant to give a 10/10 spellcasting. Elemental savant is a rather mediocre class; even the capstone, which is pretty good, has a major drawback for you (since you also pick up vulnerability to cold). Is it something for nothing? Not quite (Energy Substitution isn’t that great a feat), but effectively, yeah. But that’s also the nature of the game; spellcasters have lots of options to get something for nothing. If it really bothers the DM, leave the capstone as not progressing spellcasting; I can’t recommend taking it at that point, but certainly nothing prior to 10th grants anything notable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To qualify for Mystic Theurge you need to be capable of 2nd level divine and arcane casting. How can you get access to 2nd level magic with only a 1 level dip? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Feb 19 '16 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasJacobs The argument is that your cleric spells can now be arcane, so you can cast 2nd-level arcane cleric spells and 2nd-level divine cleric spells. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 19 '16 at 16:24

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