Gestalt Theurge (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Gestalt Theurge[edit]

The gestalt theurge is an all-purpose variant of the Mystic Theurge that allows for the dual progression of any two classes, inspired by the rules for gestalt characters.

Becoming a Gestalt Theurge[edit]

A gestalt theurge designates one of her base classes as her "primary" class, and another as her "secondary" class.

Entry Requirements
Character level: 5th
Special: Must have at least three levels in the primary class and at least two levels in the secondary class.

Table: The Gestalt Theurge

Hit Die: As the primary class (but see text)

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Class features
Good saves Poor saves
1st See text +2 +0 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
2nd See text +3 +0 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
3rd See text +3 +1 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
4th See text +4 +1 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
5th See text +4 +1 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
6th See text +5 +2 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
7th See text +5 +2 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
8th See text +6 +2 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
9th See text +6 +3 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
10th See text +7 +3 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
11th See text +7 +3 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
12th See text +8 +4 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
13th See text +8 +4 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class
14th See text +9 +4 +1 level of primary class/+1 level of secondary class

Skills
See text.

Class Features[edit]

Hit dice: The gestalt theurge uses the same hit die as the primary class. If she also has 3 levels in her secondary class, she takes the better of the two instead. If she later gains her 3rd level in her secondary class after becoming a gestalt theurge, her hit dice improve accordingly. (Do not reroll hit dice—instead add 1 hit point from the character's hit point total per step of difference between the two die sizes. For example, if a d4 hit die changes to a d8, add 2 hit points per Gestalt Theurge level.)

Base attack bonus: The gestalt theurge uses the same base attack bonus progression (good, average, or poor) as the primary class. If she also has 3 levels in her secondary class, she takes the better of the two instead. If she later gains her 3rd level in her secondary class after becoming a gestalt theurge, her base attack bonus improves accordingly.

Base saving throw bonuses: The gestalt theurge's good saves and poor saves are the same as her primary class's. If she also has 3 levels in her secondary class, she takes the better progression for each save instead. If she later gains her 3rd level in her secondary class after becoming a gestalt theurge, her base saves improve accordingly.

Skills: The gestalt theurge has all the class skills of both classes, but only gains the skill points per level of the primary class. If she also has 3 levels in her secondary class, she takes the better of the two. If she later gains her 3rd level in her secondary class after becoming a gestalt theurge, she gains extra skill points to make up the difference, which must be spent immediately, using the secondary class's class skill list.

Class features: At each level, the gestalt theurge gains class features (including spellcasting ability) and an increase in effective level as if she had gained a level in both her primary and secondary classes.

If both classes have spellcasting, their spell slots are tracked separately for each class. If both classes have psionics, add together the power points and bonus power points from each class to determine the gestalt theurge's total power points; powers are manifested from the shared pool, but are still limited by the manifester level of the class that granted them. If both classes have meldshaping, add their essentia pools together, but track soulmelds and chakra binds separately, just as you normally would for a multiclass character.

If both classes would stack to determine the effective level of an ability, gestalt theurge levels still only count as one level. For example, a Ranger 3/Scout 2/Gestalt Theurge 2 with the Swift Hunter feat would have the skirmish ability of a scout 7, not a scout 9.

Gestalt Theurges in the Game[edit]

Because of the modularity of the class, no two gestalt theurges are alike. A Rogue/Monk, a Druid/Totemist, and a Favored Soul/Paladin might all become gestalt theurges, but they would all play very differently and fit very differently into the game world.

One thing you might do is link some specific combinations to distinct organizations in the setting. For instance, the Fists of Zuoken might all be Psychic Warrior/Monk gestalts, while the Swift Avengers might be Druidic Avenger/Scout gestalts.

Alternatively, a player who wishes to become a gestalt theurge may receive training from two different masters—one from each class.

Design notes[edit]

So, theurges are awesome, but there's a fairly limited set of options. Sure, you can do Psionic/Arcane, Arcane/Divine, Prepared/Spontaneous, Arcane/Shadowcasting, Psionic/Meldshaping, even Druid/Bard. But what if you want to be a Warlock/Totemist? Are you supposed to take 3 levels of Wizard and then abandon them just so you can qualify for Soulcaster? What about a Duskblade/Cleric? You could go Mystic Theurge, but the late entry is very painful, and downgrading to that chassis kind of defeats the purpose of Duskblade, doesn't it? Bards can technically use the arcane theurge classes, but since they're all balanced for Wizards and Sorcerers, you end up getting shafted, losing all the skills and bardic music abilities that made you a Bard. And for some classes, like Truenamer or Artificer, you literally have no options at all.

The Gestalt Theurge is my attempt at bringing the awesomeness of theurges to any and every combination of classes. Instead of bringing together two specific subsystems and advancing them both while maybe adding some extra unique abilities, the Gestalt Theurge works with any two classes you want, but provides no unique abilities of its own—it's up to you to be creative with whatever combos you come up with.

My initial draft was based more tightly on the expected entry for Mystic Theurge, requiring 3 levels in each of the two classes, nice and symmetrical-like. Playtesting revealed that this was a little more conservative than it needed to be. Martial characters like Monks and Rogues were happy enough to take it, but casters were frustrated at losing a full 3 caster levels for such a late-blooming payoff. I wouldn't lose any sleep letting that be if it were just Wizards and Clerics and Druids getting the short end of the stick, but the lower-tier casters like Bards, Warlocks, and Lurks were feeling that frustration even harder than the T1 casters, because they didn't have pre-existing theurge classes with easier entries to fall back on—where a Wizard/Binder can shrug and go into Anima Mage if he'd rather lose one caster level than three, a Bard/Binder doesn't really have that option.

I figured a 3/2 split probably wouldn't be too overpowered—it's basically like an early-entry Mystic Theurge, which, in my experience, is still pretty reasonable. To balance it out a bit, I set it up so that an uneven split would (usually) result in a weaker chassis. So far, I think this version delivers better on the design goals.

Notes on Power Level[edit]

This class is pretty much strictly better than the Mystic Theurge if you're not using early entry. That really shouldn't be an issue, since Mystic Theurge is typically below the power curve already—I'm perfectly comfortable giving it a boost.

On full casters, there's a significant tradeoff involved in losing caster levels, so I think the Gestalt Theurge is well-balanced for full casters (compared to sticking to a single-class build). Plus, it's probably less powerful than the myriad of existing theurge classes that only lose one caster level, like Anima Mage, Sapphire Hierarch, and Ultimate Magus. Those aren't often called out as overpowered, so this probably isn't either.

The classes that really love Gestalt Theurge are the ones that were planning on multiclassing anyway. For heavily-frontloaded classes like Fighters, Monks, and Barbarians, a 2-level dip is already the norm, so it's very easy for them to build into a Gestalt Theurge. They don't care about delaying their class features because their class features suck anyway. So yeah, this class offers those classes an easy power boost. However, those classes are fairly weak to begin with, so I'm happy to throw them a bone, especially when that bone is primarily aimed towards late-game power, where they are traditionally lacking.

Similarly, meldshaper and martial initiators make good Gestalt Theurges—they multiclass very well already, and their early abilities are so powerful that they can afford to be a little behind. But Gestalt Theurge doesn't really represent a major power boost beyond what they already had access to, because Jade Phoenix Mage, Ruby Knight Vindicator, Soulcaster, Sapphire Hierarch, and Soul Manifester are all things, and they all give initiators and meldshapers a massive power boost if they're willing to multiclass. Gestalt Theurge is really just letting other classes in on that same fun, and encouraging a bit of diversity—why should every Ruby Knight Vindicator worship the same deity, and every Sapphire Hierarch have the Law domain, and every Jade Phoenix Mage specialize in the same two disciplines?

Probably the classes most impacted by Gestalt Theurge are other prestige classes, especially partial-casting prestige classes, because those are the ones that Gestalt Theurge competes with most directly. Luckily, nobody likes partial-casting classes anyway, so who cares, am I right?

If you're worried about the power level of the Gestalt Theurge in your game and you think it needs toning down, I recommend requiring that the Gestalt Theurge take their 3rd level in the secondary class in order to continue beyond 3rd level in the prestige class. Or, if you want to be even more conservative, you could go back to the original draft's requirement of 3 levels in both classes to enter the prestige class.


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