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I'm trying to have my PC enter as soon as possible the prestige class master of flies (Savage Species 80–3). The prestige class has as the following entry requirements:

  • 5 ranks in the skill Escape Artist
  • 8 ranks in the skill Knowledge (nature)
  • the feat Quick Change
  • this Special entry requirement: "Must possess the ability to change form, such as from alternate form ability, the shapechanger subtype, or a wild shape ability" (SS 80)

The campaign sees a PC start at level 13, have 45 points with which to buy ability scores (see Dungeon Master's Guide 169), gain 3 feats every 3 levels instead of 1 feat, and possess twice the gp indicated by Table 5–1: Character Wealth by Level (DMG 135)

I don't care what the PC's race or classes are.

With all this in mind, what's the earliest my PC can enter the prestige class master of flies?

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For one, we need to consider which version of Quick Change we are talking about; it was printed in both Savage Species and Races of Eberron. Clearly, the master of flies is referring to the version that was published in the same book it was, and it’s unlikely that the team working on Races of Eberron was trying to replace it (they probably didn’t even know about it), but officially as the latest reprint, the Races of Eberron is “the” Quick Change.

If we go with that, then a changeling meets the requirements for Quick Change and for the special requirement for master of flies.

If we don’t go with that, then a changeling does not meet the requirements for Quick Change, but a hengeyokai from Oriental Adventures does. Other options are fairly painful; druid is probably best, since wild shape meets the requirement (requires 5th).

Either way, you also need 8 ranks in Knowledge (nature). That one is tricky; by default you attain that at 5th level, but that... can be beaten, though not easily.

  • The extremely poorly-considered Primary Contact feat from Cityscape can get you there one level early, since it gives you a bonus rank in a skill, but that means taking it at 4th level to get that benefit: there are few ways to do that.

    One is the marshal class from Miniatures Handbook; unlike most classes that grant a bonus feat, when marshal grants Skill Focus (Diplomacy) at 1st level, it specifies that if you already have that feat, you get some other feat you qualify for instead. Well, that could be Primary Contact. So now we’re looking at Quick Change, Favored, Skill Focus (Diplomacy), and a level of marshal taken carefully at 4th level in order to start master of flies at 5th instead of 6th. Big investment, even for your generous rules, to accelerate things by only one level.

  • The other option is far, far cheesier. The inspire greatness bardic music gives you two pseudo-HD, which increases your skill rank maximum. If you then use psychic reformation or other method of re-allocating your skill ranks, you can take advantage of that higher limit, and when the music ends, you keep your skill ranks even though they would now be illegal. This costs nothing other than having or hiring a sufficiently high-level bard and a sufficiently high-level psion to help you. That gets us two levels earlier.

  • The two approaches can be combined. Psychic reformation can also be used in this case to take Primary Contact without the nonsense with the marshal. That could be done as early as 2nd level if you have enough feats, to start master of flies at 3rd.

So 3rd looks like a minimum, but of course it’s not. You can get even more cheesy with your early-entry optimization; at the extreme, you can just become Pun-pun and just grant yourself everything you need right at 1st. For that matter, you could also just grant yourself everything master of flies offers, while still at 1st. Without more explicit constraints, this kind of question is always going to be trivially “well, 1st, because you could always just be Pun-pun.”

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't imagine any DM ruling that because the feat Quick Change shares that name with a feat in Savage Species, changelings (because of the RE feat's prerequisite) are the lone race capable of becoming masters of flies! Since the feat Quick Change was updated to 3.5 by Dragon #331 only 5 mo. before Races of Eberron, I'm going to guess the RE editor had an O, well, they'll figure it out! moment at some point. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 6 '16 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I much more strongly suspect that the RoE team was completely unaware of either previous version. Still rules are as they are, seemed worth bringing up both. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 6 '16 at 20:58
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As much in D&D, it depends how cheesy/borderline you wish to get, and what 3rd party material is allowed.

I'll list all the options, and let you pick what you are comfortable with.

Wizards of the Coast published several options:

  • A level of Bloodline (Unearthed Arcana) raises the maximum ranks in all skills, depending on your interpretation of the rules, you may pay off the 3 levels of Bloodline required by a major Bloodline at your own discretion. It's advantageous to pay them as soon as possible (between levels 1 and 2) and, then you have +3 maximum ranks.
  • The feat Primary Contact (Cityscape, p. 61) gives you +1 rank in a specific skill (depending on the organization), and may push you over the max ranks limit.

Otherwise, 3rd party publishers also added their own:

  • The feat Signature Skill (AEG, Feats, p. 73) gives you +1 rank to a skill of your choice.
  • The feat Refined Skill Focus (AEG, Feats, p. 67) gives you +2 ranks to a skill of your choice; you must have at least 2 ranks in that skill already.
  • The feat Laborious Training (Ravenloft - Legacy of The Blood, p. 92), available to descendants of Mordenheim, augments the maximum ranks of an Int-based skill of your choice by +2; you must have at least 13 in Intelligence and 5 ranks in a Knowledge skill.
  • The feat Prodigy (Planewalker), taken at level 1, makes the skill a class skill and raises the maximum skill rank by 3.

On the matter of Bloodline, note that by selecting a major bloodline you get a bonus feat at level 2. The rules specify that if you already have this feat, then you can pick any other feat for which you qualify. This makes it possible to pick Laborious Training at level 2... if you manage to have 5 ranks in a skill before that, which is difficult.

Thus, you can enter at 3rd level with bloodline "abuse":

  • Level 1: Changeling; Quick Change; 4 ranks in Knowledge Nature
  • Level 1.5: Pay off 3 levels of bloodline
  • Level 2: +4 ranks in Knowledge Nature

Otherwise, you can likely enter at 4th level with the stricter reading of bloodlines:

  • Level 1: Changeling; Quick Change; 4 ranks in K. N.
  • Level 2: +1 rank in K. N.
  • Level 2.5: Pay off 1 level of bloodline
  • Level 3: Laborious Training (Knowledge Nature); +3 ranks in K. N.

Starting from Hengeyokai has the same progression.

The latest one, particularly, is without any shenanigan.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed: Hengeyokai are now creatures of the humanoid (shapechanger) type, rather than creatures of the obsolete shapechanger type. Remove their level adjustment. (p. 34) \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Dec 9 '16 at 6:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Literally the first line of the answer mentions 3rd party materials, and all options are sourced to their book; could you be more specific? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 25 '18 at 8:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Separated by category. I only isolated AEG, Feats as 3rd party, as all other 3 books were published by WotC AFAIK. Is that correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 25 '18 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice edit! I’d point out, though, that Legacy of the Blood was not a Wizards of the Coast publication; it was published by “Sword and Sorcery” (which was apparently owned by White Wolf?) under a Wizards of the Coast license (since Wizards of the Coast owns the rights to Ravenloft). It’s a similar situation to how Athas.org published Dark Sun material even though Wizards of the Coast owned the rights to Dark Sun. Wizards of the Coast authors, developers, and editors had no input into it, so it more properly belongs in the 3rd-party category. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 25 '18 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Ugh! I thought I was in the clear since WotC had published Ravenloft and didn't have to check each book individually... thanks for your patience, should be good now :) \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jul 25 '18 at 15:15
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The earliest you can enter this prestige class is level 6.

  • You need to be a changeling to take the Quick Change feat, which means you can take it as a level 1 feat.
  • Changelings also have the shapechanger subtype.
  • You need at least 5 levels to get 8 ranks in any skill. Choose base classes that give you both required skills as a class skill and have enough Int to actually afford those ranks.

If you are using the 3.0 version of Quick Change (found in Savage Species), you need the alternate form special ability. Be an hengeyokai from Oriental Adventures (which also is a shapechanger), its level adjustment of +1 means you can enter Master of flies after ECL 6 (at level 7)

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