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D&D 3E
Prestige Class Question 
14th-Jan-1970 01:33 am
I'll be starting up my first D&D 3rd Edition campaign soon, running folks through the "Shackled City" Cauldron series which appeared in DUNGEON magazine a couple years back.

I'm going through all the D&D books and deciding which prestige classes I want to allow in the campaign. It's tricky, because I already have the major adventures all worked out in front of me, and if someone decides on a character with a weird class, or a complicated back-story, that character probably won't fit into the campaign.

Now, I've never played a character with a spell-casting prestige class, and I'm struggling with an issue here:

Let's say a character is a 6th level Wizard, 3rd level Rogue. She then takes a level in, say, Arcane Trickster. The Arcane Trickster is one of those classes that say that, when a character gains a level, the character also gains "new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not gain any other benefit ..."

Now, I understand that the character now casts an additional first level spell and a fourth level spell, just as if she were a 7th level Wizard. My question is, does a prestige class add to her effective caster level? For example, does her fireball do 6d6 of damage with a range of 640 feet, or 7d6 of damage with a range of 680 feet?

Does it matter which prestige class we're talking about?

The answer to this question makes a difference in terms of which prestige classes will fit in the campaign.
3rd-May-2005 02:23 pm (UTC)
Yes. The spellcasting ability increases the caster level as well. It doesn't matter which prestige class it is unless it is specified otherwise in the PC description.

Your fireball would do the 7d6 damage and have a range of 680 feet.
3rd-May-2005 02:25 pm (UTC)
The full quote from Arcane Trickster is:

Spells per Day: When a new arcane trickster level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. (emphasis mine).

Almost every PrC with additional spellcasting is explicit about this in the description. Whenever a character gains a full new effective level with regards to spells per a day, their effective caster level always (as far as I know) also increases. However, there are times when spells per day increases oddly (Dragon Disciple) or effective caster level increases (Practiced Spellcasting feat) where spells per day do not.

3rd-May-2005 02:34 pm (UTC)
The other prime example of this is the Eunuch Warlock from OA. Man I never understood that one.
3rd-May-2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
If I were you I wouldn't make any restriction on what prestige classes are allowed in the game until someone decides he wants to play one. Then you can look at it together and work out any adjustments you want to make.

What you should really be looking at - as a GM -- is what prestige classes you want your key villians to have.

3rd-May-2005 02:37 pm (UTC)
I concure.
3rd-May-2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the advice. No, for two reasons:

1) It's a good idea in 3rd Edition to have a clear "career objective" in mind when you begin a character. A lot of Prestige Classes require otherwise useless feats and backgrounds. (Example: Dwarven Defenders need to have the Toughness feat. A mid-level dwarf fighter with a good constitution isn't really getting a feat's-worth of benefit from those 3 hp.) If a player were to jump her character through all the hoops necessary to qualify for a class I don't want PC's to have (say, for example, Blood Magus), it's unfair for me to then say to her "Sorry. They don't exist in this world. You got yourself killed and raised for nothing."

Some of them are unbalanced. Some don't fit the focus of the "Shackled City" campaign. The players haven't read through the campaign, so they don't know what fits and what doesn't, until I tell them. The right time to let players know what they can plan for is when they begin playing their characters.

2) Prestige Classes help define the campaign. These adventures are set in a kind of "generic D&D," the same as the WotC series that began with the Sunless Citadel. Red Wizards of Thay and Witches of Rashemon, or Knights of the Teocracy of the Pale, don't make appearances in this campaign.

And the key villains are already furnished with any prestige classes they need. The first time I run this, at least, I'm intending to stick reasonably close to the source material unless I have a good reason to do otherwise.
3rd-May-2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
Well, obviously it's up to you and your group. I'm still going to explain my case, though. I don't buy any of your points, and I've been doing this for a while.

Here's my point: You can't plan for everything that happens. People are going to wander off the map, and the storyline is going to be very liquid, even with a pre-published adventure. And thats a good thing.

This is why GMs and players compromise. You can negotiate on just about anything. If a player finds a prestige class or say.. an item or spell he falls in love with- say one that doesn't even exist right now- maybe it will be published in Dragon next year-- you would be doing a great service by letting players realize their creative goals. If a guy decides he wants "LoreKeeper" and doesn't have the knowledge feat because his wizard took improved initiative at 1st level, you can work with a player to switch something else out.

As for the campaign specific PrCs. You will- whether you want to or not- end up defining your setting in various ways. You will eventually have to name villages and name regions and come up with history for areas that were undefined- thats part of your job as a GM. So maybe you cant have "Red Wizards of Thay".. because there's no Thay in your worls. But you could just change the name and have "Dark Wizards of Thorne" or whatever if you end up needing them.

When it comes to prestige classes, you can retroactively switch out things like feat requirements or customize them entirely. If a guy wants .. say a blood magus and you say "no Blood Magus" right off, you may have crushed someones little creative flower there. You could easily ask "what is it that you see that's so cool about the Blood Magus that you want your guy to have". Lots of times you can work together to find something that works for everyone.
3rd-May-2005 05:04 pm (UTC)
Why not just determine them based on PC request for the class and NPCs you want to create as it comes up?
4th-May-2005 02:04 am (UTC)
Well, I guess it's because I am not so clever on-the-spot as I am in moments of calm reflection.

For example, I'm very likely to use the variant rule in Unearthed Arcana which allows a spellcaster to use up additional spell-slots spontaneously to use meta-magical effects. You want to cast a Silenced spell? Cross that spell off your list for today, and one other prepared spell of equal or higher level.

Major effect: it makes meta-magic feats more attractive, because they're versatile.

Minor effect: it gets spell-casters to blow through their spells very fast during a combat. This is slightly advantageous to NPC spellcasters, because they're usually not around for too long anyways.

Well, what does that do when somebody wants to play a Mystic Theurge? It took me a while to realize that the Mystic Theurge, with a huge colection of prepared spells, can use this variant rule to power spell after spell without the fear of running low.

That's the kind of thing I'm better off figuring out when I don't have a player standing in front of me with a character sheet.
3rd-May-2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
1) So when the PC asks for Toughness because he wants to take Dwarven Defender, then you decide if that PrC is allowed. I'm not sure what your point is here.

The idea is to judge on a case by case basis so you don't have to go through the hundreds of PrCs available in various products and magazine and stuff.

2) If the PrC organization does exist in such a way that it is really influential to your campaign... well then it exists, yes? Like if you want to have the dwarven defenders be a huge part of the dwarves, then you set that up. Same with any other PrC. But everything else (such as those without organizations like the Dragon Disciple) you don't need to make a decision on.

Again, is every single PrC which exists going to be influential and be encountered by the PCs? Probably not, so do you need to define all of them? I don't see what the problem is here.
3rd-May-2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
1) Well, let's hope the player announces something like "My character is taking Toughness now so's she can be a Dwarven Defender." Otherwise, I won't know why the player decided to give her PC Toughness, or multiclass from Sorcerer to Cleric, or take Weapon Focus in dagger, or another four skill points in Perform, or whatever the hoops are for a particular PrC, until she's already done so, and feels she's wasted a feat, or a couple of levels, or points in a skill.

2) Again, is every single PrC which exists going to be influential and be encountered by the PCs? Probably not, so do you need to define all of them? I don't see what the problem is here.

Neither do I. I want to provide my players with a list of which options are available, and which aren't, so they can envision characters and make plans accordingly. I'm willing to do this work ahead of time as campaign preparation.
3rd-May-2005 10:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, I was confused. See--as a player--before I take the otherwise useless feat thats a prereq for my PrC, I ask the DM if I'd even be allowed to take that PrC. You know, checking to make sure that my character plans are allowed. Not forcing the DM to define all possible character paths and then let me choose one. Stuff like that.

Player initiative is a good thing.
4th-May-2005 12:19 am (UTC)
How about, pre-game, you ask your players what ideas they have for their characters right off the bat? That way you get a handle on their plans and you don't have to make a comprehensive list of every PrC ever made in any book ever.
4th-May-2005 07:01 am (UTC)
I've fixed Toughness for my purposes by making it 1 hp per level instead.
3rd-May-2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
Agreed, but some DMs like to have total and godlike control over their campaigns, and condition-specific and/or powerful PCs tend to make that impossible.
3rd-May-2005 04:54 pm (UTC)
I always hear about such DM's from their ex-players, who come flocking to my campaigns as if they had been abused. =)
4th-May-2005 07:04 am (UTC)
Hear hear!

An example of this:
The majority of the players I have ever had are simply terrified to make any sort of Wish because DMs use it as some sort of tool to abuse characters instead of the reward it's supposed to be.

I think this stems from long ago, when sadistic DMs would take the "sock it to greedy players" rules for wishes out of context.
3rd-May-2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
... and, as a comparison, the Fate Spinner only adds levels of pre-existing spellcaster ability every other level. Thank goodness. Where's that rolleyes smiley when I need one?
3rd-May-2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
WHY does this say its posted January 14th, 1970??
3rd-May-2005 06:48 pm (UTC)
Some people just refuse to let go.
3rd-May-2005 07:17 pm (UTC)
4th-May-2005 07:04 am (UTC)
And some people just don't get some humor. ;)
3rd-May-2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
I've read the entire Shackled City series and just out of the sake of curiosity, what prestige classes are you planning on banning?
3rd-May-2005 11:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, lots. Anything that has to do with psionics, for example. Any PrC that would ally a character with evil outsiders, like Acolyte of the Skin or Alienist. Any PrC that really only works in a particular environment and would take the character away from Cauldron for long stretches of time, like some of the Sandstorm classes. Any PrC that is grounded too deeply in a particular world, such as the Eberron, Ghostwalk, or Dragonlance settings. If two PrC's are very similar, such as Runemaster and Runeshaper, or Duelist and Swashbuckler, I chose the one that I think will fit better into the campaign.

One of my goals is to get people to concentrate on the storyline, on the party, and on the town of Cauldron. If they've got deep ties to other organizations, regions, or goals, they're not going to care as desperately when Cauldron is endangered.

I want to include Prestige Classes that'll reinforce the campaign. For example, one of the more bland Big Bad Guys is a Tattooed Monk. I'll allow (heck, encourage) the party to include a Tattooed Monk in order to highlight that villain when the PC's cross her path.
4th-May-2005 07:08 am (UTC)
Most of the stuff you mention can be taylored to any campaign. For instance the Archmage was originally a Forgotten Realms prestige class, but it would fit anywhere without any tweaking. The Red Wizard of Thay is also from FR, but it would also fit anywhere with just very little tinkering.

I do see what you mean about the similar classes, though.
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