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There are ways for a straight Wizard character (for example, via Spontaneous Divination ACF or Uncanny Forethought feat) to get some spontaneous spellcasting capability and enter an Ultimate Magus PrC without belonging to another spontaneously casting class.

An Ultimate Magus' description states:

Spellcasting: At each level except 1st, 4th, and 7th, you gain new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in both a prepared arcane casting class and a spontaneous arcane casting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level.

For a straight Wizard entry, both 'prepared arcane casting class' and 'spontaneous arcane casting class' are the Wizard. Does it allow you, RAW-wise, to have a two-level advancement of your Wizard spellcasting capability in one character level? Can such an advancement be possible with some other PrC?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering how many questions we get about the class, I’m almost tempted to start a [ultimate-magus] tag... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I count seven in this search; are there more still? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 17 '16 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I was joking—somewhat. I guess it was more how they tend to have similar themes; I feel like I keep answering variations on the same couple questions with respect to the class. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan If you figure it actually is worthwhile I'd back that up. 👍 \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 17 '16 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ This may be a jargon issue. This question might help dispel some confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 17 '16 at 18:37
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This question gets at a question that has been asked a couple of times: “what is a spellcasting class?” Specifically, here, “what is a spontaneous spellcasting class?”—a question quite similar to this question, which effectively asks “what is a divine spellcasting class?”

The answer is we do not have firm official definitions of these terms. There is a general consensus that prestige classes that progress spellcasting (but have none of their own) are not spellcasting classes, and there is some pseudo-official basis (Customer Service and the FAQ) to back that up, but the more detailed question about spontaneity is less clear. Rules Compendium actually discusses prepared and spontaneous spellcasting to some degree, even mentioning some of the corner cases with cleric and druid, but ultimately it fails to describe exactly how much spontaneous spellcasting is enough to call something a spontaneous spellcasting class.

Ultimately, debates can (and have) rage about definitions all day on this subject: in the absence of official definitions, everyone can take whatever side they prefer and never be proven wrong. There will never be an authoritative answer to the question.

The only way to handle it is just have a DM rule, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not whatever trick you want to use that hinges on this definition is cool and allowed in the game.

And for the subject of ultimate magus (or anything else) double-advancing wizard, that ruling should always, 100% of the time, be an unequivocal no. Anyone with higher-level spells than a single-classed wizard of his level is breaking the game and should not be allowed under any circumstances.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer. I have to disagree about universality of rapid progression ban, though. I am familiar with high-level spells and ramifications of them being used early, but double progression trick might be used, for example, to compensate for a previous spellcaster level loss: there are some weaker (due to non-full casting progression) but fun PrCs. \$\endgroup\$ – WeaponsPr1me Nov 17 '16 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WeaponsPr1me The correct response is to fix those classes, not to allow game-breaks like this. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming a "spontaneous arcane casting class" falls under the definition of spontaneous spellcaster (not a sure thing under RAW, of course), there's a definition of spontaneous spellcaster in (oof!) the Rules Compendium (139). \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 17 '16 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan My main issue is that it says that “characters [that] can cast spells, but [...] don’t need spellbooks, nor [to] prepare their spells [and] can cast any spell they know using a daily allotment of spell slots [...] are called spontaneous spellcasters,” which does not say that other characters are not spontaneous spellcasters. More importantly, it talks about a character rather than a class, and taken literally would imply wizard/sorcerers are not spontaneous spellcasters (since they cannot cast “any spell they know” without preparation). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You know as well as I that the game only in the rarest cases says what things are not, and Spell Preparation does cover the other kind of caster (RC 128). I won't be put in the terribly uncomfortable position of defending the Rules Compendium, but if the RAW's a bit unclear—as it is here—is it really better to throw up your hands and declare Nobody knows! and ignore the closest (semi)authoritative source? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 17 '16 at 21:50
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In this case, as you said, you only do some spontaneous spellcasting [...] without belonging to a true spontaneous spellcasting class, which means you can't add a spontaneous arcane casting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level.

Concretely it means that by RAW you can take this prestige class without it being useful. Sadly it doesn't become suddenly useful when you do.

A better reformulation of what exactly this ability do is to consider it increases the class level only of the purpose of the "spell" class feature. In the case of the wizard the "spell" feature is clearly a prepared one, so you can't upgrade it with the second part of the effect. If you had another class that had two spell features, one being for prepared spells and one for spontaneous ones, you could apply one of the effects on each of them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You’re asserting one particular (plausible!) definition for “spontaneous spellcasting class,” but unfortunately the term is 1. never defined in the rules, and 2. has multiple plausible definitions. Your argumentation falls apart if we use a different definition (say, “class capable of casting a spell without having prepared it beforehand,” a definition that fits the wizard in this case). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I used OP's words, who seems to know what is a "spontaneous spellcasting class". To me it seems obvious that it is a class with a "spell" feature that works the way the sorcerer's does. I'll edit to make that more obvious. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Nov 17 '16 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems obvious until you get into weird corner cases. Clerics have a class feature that is literally called “spontaneous spells”—do they count? How about a wizard, if he takes the alternate class feature known as “spontaneous divination”? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 17 '16 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I reformulated a relevant phrase in the question. I'm not sure of what may or may not be called a "spontaneous spellcasting class", and this term seem to have multiple feasible definitions. \$\endgroup\$ – WeaponsPr1me Nov 17 '16 at 19:09

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