Wizards' Handbook by Dictum Mortuum (3.5e Optimized Character Build)/The Class
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- Summon Familiar: Familiars can be a huge boon to their masters. A handbook on familiars is located here, written by me.
- Scribe Scroll PHB: Wizards get scribe scroll as a bonus feat. Scribe scroll can be handy creating scrolls with spells that are not regularly used but still are important to carry around. Also many prestige classes have an item creation feat listed as a requirement.
- Bonus Feats: Wizards get some bonus feats at 5th and every five levels thereafter. The feat must be a metamagic, item creation feat or spell mastery.
- Spells: Wizard's greatest asset is their spells. They will be discussed extensively in a later section.
Schools of Magic
An interesting wizard feature is the ability to specialize in a certain school of magic by giving up access to others. By doing so you gain a mild bonus to spellcraft checks to learn a spell from his speciality and an extra spell per spell level, but they can only be used to store spells of your chosen school. So, is this worth it or no? Consider that by specializing you gain an extra 45 spell levels, which is a significant amount. The main problem to this however, is which schools to give up. The best choice if your spell selection isn't limited (as in, you have access to spells outside the SRD, like spell compendium) is to be a diviner. What is great about diviners, is that they only give up one school to specialize, while all other specialties require to give up two.
- Abjuration: This school is all about protect, block and banish. Some of the most useful spells are contained in this school. It is considered a poor choice to give it up, because you lose the extremely useful Dispel Magic spell.
- Conjuration: Another useful school that contains spells you cannot give up. Dimension Door, Teleport, Summon Monster and Gate spells are considered top quality.
- Divination: This is the only school you are not allowed to give up.
- Enchantment: This is the first option of your potential banned schools. It has a series of spells that are useful and probably irreplaceable, like Dominate and Charm spells. However, other spells in this school, which include mainly buffs and disabling spells, are easily replaced by other schools.
- Evocation: This school includes mainly direct damage spells. Although it isn't worth it, it is generally popular to new players. Even if you need evocation spells, Shadow Evocation/Greater can help emulating them. The most useful spell of this school is probably Contingency and while it has other good spells, this is the best choice of a prohibited school probably.
- Illusion: This is usually suggested as a prohibited school, but you lose great spells like Invisibility/Greater and Shadow Evocation. I think it's a poor choice to give that up.
- Necromancy: This is a school, that although it has spells that are useful, providing you with a variety of tactics (fear, enervation, ray of exhaustion), buffing you (false life), outright killing people (finger of death, wail of the banshee) or being the base of some potentially broken stuff (clone, magic jar), you can actually drop. Be sure however that as you gain levels, it will be obvious that dropping this
- Transmutation: There is absolute no way to substitute this school's spells. It contains a wide selection of utility, combat and social spells you just can't pass: Enlarge Person, Alter Self, Spider Climb, Blink/Greater, Fly, Haste, Polymorph, Polymorph any Object and Shapechange.
Thus your best choices to dump are enchantment and evocation. The best speciality is probably diviner who drops only one school (evocation is the best choice). Other great specialities are the transmuter and the conjurer.
Alternative Class Features
- Immediate Magic PHB II: I am reluctant to this alternative feature. Familiars have much more applications. However the conjuration ability is probably worth it.
- Focused Specialist CM: This has its applications, but isn't generally worth it. Having three schools banned and three of your specialist school per day, may be handy.
- Drakken Familiar DM: Your familiar gains the dragonblood subtype and a breath weapon instead of the ability to deliver touch spells. Pretty much equal, depending on your ability scores.
- Wizard of Sun and Moon Dungeonscape: This is a bad feature. You trade your familiar for the ability to cast different spells per day depending on your surroundings.
- Domain Granted Power CC: This is an interesting ability. Some domain powers are really powerful and some even grant feats outside the metamagic/item creation types. This is a really interesting ability that expands a wizard's potential.
- Spontaneous Divination CC: I'd always pick this unless i can't fulfill requirements. Powerful ability that gives you sorcerer-like power for divination spells. Moreover it waives the need of spending money or picking divination spells.
- Gnome Illusionist RoS: While nothing important changes from class skills, bonus skill points or hit die point of view, these levels really provide nice abilities and it's a great base for shadowcraft illusionists RoS. Remember that you must be a specialist wizard in order to pick these substitution levels.
- 1st level: You get silent image as a 0 level spell, which is great for shadowcraft illusionists RoS. Combined with earth spell RoS and heighten spell PHB you get a caster level boost. On top of that you also get other illusion spells at a lower than normal level.
- 5th level: The ability to double the duration of illusions. As an added bonus, if the spell has duration concentration, you get a 1d4 bonus to its duration after you stop concentrating on it. The tradeoff is the 5th level wizard feat and the two free spells known at that level.
- 10th level: Nice ability, but not anything to die for. Also this halts you from acquiring prestige classes.
- Elven Wizard RotW: There are two points to this. First you cannot specialize, which is not automatically a problem, but it does limit you. Second you need to be an elf. These substitution levels are probably the best out there for specialist wizards, especially the first one, to which you lose virtually nothing. As an added bonus you get search as a bonus class skill.
- 1st level: You get a bonus spell known at each level and a spell slot at the highest you can cast, making you unable to specialize.
- 3rd level: Double your familiar's granted bonus, but your familiar loses the ability to deliver touch spells and the ability to speak with animals of its type. Generally this significantly reduces your familiar to a more passive role, but the bonuses are great and variable.
- 5th level: What makes this level great is that even if you don't pick it, it gives you extra versatility. It may come handy to choose a different feat than your wizard ones, to fulfill requirements or get in a prestige class earlier.
- Planar Wizard PlH: These substitution levels have two main problems. One, you need to travel regularly through the planes for them to be effective. Two, most of the levels come in mid and late levels, forcing you to take many levels in the class.
- 6th level: Nice ability if you are plane traveling a lot, and the trade isn't that great.
- 10th level: This is a pretty strange ability. You give your two boinus spells known for the level and your wizard feat in exchange for extra magical ability against targets of the opposite alignment than the one you choose to imbue your spells with. The added descriptor to your normal spells can also help.
- 14th level: This has potential for really broken effects, but you really have to take fourteen whole levels as a wizard. Another point is that you lose a 7th level spell slot to this, which is not that hot. Lastly, it takes a standard action to channel the planar essence, making it not very helpful in combat (unless you are using quickened spells or swift/immediate/free action spells).
- Changeling Wizard RoE: Changeling wizard substitution levels give extra skill points, extra class skills (bluff, disguise and sleight of hand) and interesting abilities.
- 1st level: The important ability in this level is dual specialization. If this means that you must absolutely specialize, then it isn't that hot. However if you can choose if you want to specialize or no, like normal wizards, this level is of top quality. Actually since it states that: This substitution feature replaces the standard wizard's specialization option. you can discard it if it doesn't suit you. As a note, dual specialization may be interesting in conjunction with focused specialist CM, according to how your DM interprets it. Bottom line, if you are a changeling, this is of top quality.
- 5th level: Limited Spell Knowledge does limit your selection, but it nets you a bonus spell, of schools that are important. However the important ability this substitution level provides is morphic familiar with which you literally acquire every familiar in the book. The selection can be really huge with the improved familiar feat. The main problem to this though, is that it doesn't mention which abilities are acquired by your familiar's new form. Still, you do gain the granted benefit, which can prove great based on the situation you face, as your familiar can alter its form as a full-round action.
- 10th level: If you are going for this, you are going to be taking quite a few levels in the wizard class. Moreover its a nice ability, but i don't think its worth the feat nor the levels to get it.
- Dukar CoV: Dukars are a nice idea, but in fact they suck. They give you a bonus class skill, swim, and various abilities that are either useless or require to many levels in the wizard class to be effective.
- 5th level: Lose your standard spells known gained. You get two bonus spells but only from two selected schools, chosen when your first dukar level is gained. Also gain a claw that can be extended and retracted as a swift action by giving up your bonus feat.
- 10th level: Again gain the special bonus spells the dukar get and a coral power. All the powers from the list seem useless, none are worth the exchange of a feat.
- 15th level: Ditto.
- High-One Warrior Wizard CoV: These substitution levels are from the Champions of Valor Web Enhancement, located here. This is actually a multiclass substitution levels, since you need at least two paladin levels to acquire them. They offer diplomacy, handle animal, heal and ride as bonus class skills. With the cityscape web enhancement, located here, you can trade ride and handle animal for gather information and tumble.
- 2nd level: You get to stack your wizard and paladin levels to determine only how many times per day you can use your smite evil ability. Even though this only costs a 1st level spell, remember that you don't get your wizard level as a bonus to damage and your charisma bonus isn't going to be high enough to help your attack roll. Also note that smite evil requires a melee attack.
- 4th level: Give a second level spell to reduce arcane spell failure by 20%. This combined with other arcane spell failure reducers, can make you able to wear even heavy armor.
- 5th level: Interesting for alternative supermount builds, however it is bad for two reasons: Your wizard and paladin levels don't stack for the abilities of your pets and you need to progress your paladin levels to five to get a special mount.
- Combat Wizard UA: Lose your scribe scroll PHB and bonus wizard feats, and gain fighter bonus feats at 1st and every five levels as wizards do. Great for fulfilling requirements and to the gish types.
- Domain Wizard UA: By giving away your ability to specialize, you can be a domain wizard. You gain an extra spell per level and add a domain spell to spells known when you are able to cast it. Apparently you don't give up anything and there are domains with really good spells. In addition spells casted from your domain slots get a +1 bonus to their caster level.
Specialist Wizard Variants
- Abjurer Variants:
- Resistance to Energy (Su): Once per day, by giving up your familiar, you gain resistance to a selected energy type equal to 5 plus 1/2 of your abjurer class level. It lasts for one hour. I don't think that this is worth the trade.
- Aura of Protection (Ex): Raise a protective barrier against the first attack or spell that will target you. You gain a deflection bonus to your armor class and a resistance bonus to all saving throws equal to your intelligence modifier. To gain this ability you give away your bonus feats. Whenever you gain a bonus feat, you get an additional use of this ability.
- Spontaneous Dispelling (Ex): By giving away your bonus spells normally gained by being a specialist, you gain the ability to lose prepared spell energy to cast dispel magic or its greater counterpart. The downside to this is that you spend one more spell level to cast it spontaneously, but you can use a readied action to counterspell.
- Conjurer Variants:
- Rapid Summoning (Ex): Trade your familiar to reduce the casting time of summon monster spells to just a standard action. This is actually a very nice ability, despite the fact that you are losing your familiar
- Enhanced Summoning (Ex): This is a good trade. You give your bonus feats away, but you get augment summoning PHB as a bonus feat at first level. At later levels your summons get harder at being dispelled and additional bonuses to their strength and constitution. Especially if you plan dipping wizard, augment summoning seems a lot better than scribe scroll.
- Spontaneous Summoning (Ex): Lose a spell to cast any summon monster spell of lower level. You trade this for the extra spells normally gained for being a specialist wizard. Unless you want to fulfill a requirement for a certain feat or prestige class, you can't normally access due to lack of summoning spontaneously, this is ok but otherwise below average.
- Diviner Variants:
- Enhanced Awareness (Ex): By giving up your familiar you gain a number of small bonuses, none of which are important.
- Bonus Feat List: This does give you additional options, but i can't see how you could use it if you don't want to fulfill requirements. The best feat provided is probably improved initiative and blind fight, which is listed as a requirement usually.
- Prescience (Ex): Add an insight bonus to any attack roll, saving throw, skill check or level check you make once per day plus one for each five class levels. This is a special immediate action, a free action that can be taken out of turn effectively. As a trade, you lose your additional spells for being a specialist wizard. While this is a nice ability, the trade off is questionable.
- Enchanter Variants:
- Cohort: Give up your familiar and gain a cohort plus additional bonuses if you select the Leadership DMG feat. Nice alternative to your familiar, but note that you will gain it at 6th level.
- Social Proficiency (Ex): By giving up your bonus feats you add many skills to your class skill list and a +2 competence bonus on checks involving one of these skills (bluff, diplomacy, gather information, intimidate and sense motive). Every five levels thereafter you gain an additional bonus to a different skill. Great if you plan to have less than five levels as wizard and want to get an expanded skill list.
- Extended Enchantment (Su): Usually enchantment spells have nice durations and losing your additional specialist spells is a bad trade to just extend enchantment spells.
- Evoker Variants:
- Energy Affinity (Ex): +1 caster level with a chosen energy type for the price of your familiar. Not worth it at all, since there are even feats that do the same job a lot cheaper.
- Energy Substitution (Ex): A free action that can be used once per day for each five levels attained, lets you change the energy descriptor and the effects of a spell to that of a different type.
- Overcome Resistance (Ex): Lose your extra spells as a specialist wizard for the ability to lower a target's resistance to energy as a free action. The times per day that this can be used are enough, but the downside is that it only applies to a single target. In any way i don't think that it's worthy of the trade.
- Illusionist Variants:
- Chains of Disbelief (Ex): Opponent's can't help other creatures disbelief your illusions. You have to give up your familiar to this, and while it is a nice ability i doubt that it is competent.
- Shadow Shaper: This feature offers some interesting abilities at later levels, but only a few bonuses in the start. The hide class skill can help fulfilling requirements. The 5th level ability isn't worth the trade of a wizard feat however, and the rest abilities are a pretty much equal trade.
- Illusion Mastery (Ex): This is actually nice. Not only you gain two bonus spells known when you unlock a new spell level, but you also master them as if having spell mastery PHB with them. That nets you 18 spells known and mastered for your 45 total spell levels (your bonus spell slots for being a specialist). Some builds may even benefit more from the mastered spells (such as magelord LEoF builds).
- Necromancer Variants:
- Skeletal Minion: This is worth the trade. The skeleton can use weapons since it was a warrior in its previous life and has the normal undead qualities. The important part is that "The skeleton has a number of Hit Dice equal to the necromancer's class level", which is perfect, since it will gain actual hit dice and advance its saves (but not skills or feats). The minion also gains some extra bonuses based on your level. The two abilities are pretty much equal, but note that you don't lose anything for losing your minion. Also note that it can probably be awakened, but that's a DM's call.
- Undead Apotheosis (Ex): This is a bad trade. Sure in the end you wind up with light fortification DMG, but you do have to take twenty levels of wizard and lose all your feats to abilities that only add bonuses to saving throws. The 10th level ability is nice in some situations though.
- Enhanced Undead (Ex): Nice ability which buffs up your undead even more. Keep in mind that the bonuses to attributes are enhancement, which don't stack with others. As a trade you give up your specialist bonus spell slots.
- Transmuter Variants:
- Enhance Attribute (Ex): Give up your feats for an ability that can give a +2 enhancement bonus to one of your attributes "on-the-fly". It would be considerably stronger if the type of the bonus was unnamed. Definitely not worth the familiar trade.
- Spell Versatility (Ex): Not only you can make a certain spell available to you by choosing a spell from a prohibited school, you also make it transmutation, probably gaining additional bonuses (such as caster level). Worth the trade and makes specialization easier.
- Transmutable Memory (Ex): So you can load up rings of wizardry DMG and pearls of power DMG of low spell levels (which are definitely cheaper) and prepare higher level spells? I would definitely trade nine 1st level spells for a 9th level one. The loss of additional spells isn't worth it though, although you do get to memorize spells from other schools.