The Arcane Hierophant Examined

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Recent content additions/updates: Rapid strike for CF, Races of Destiny material
INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS THE ARCANE HIEROPHANT?
The arcane hierophant is a combined divine/arcane caster prestige class found in Races of the Wild that also advances certain druid class features. Much like the mystic theurge, it gives up some of the strength of each feature in order to access greater versatility. Indeed, it has one of the most diverse sets of abilities of any build in the game. A strong argument can be made that the druid (and in it’s own way the wizard) has plenty of versatility already and does not need more. There is truth in this--the straight druid or wizard may eclipse the arcane hierophant in terms of power--but this class still has great appeal for its impressive spell selection and other interesting abilities. It fits well in a small party, particularly if it is to be the only spellcaster.


WHAT IS THIS GUIDE?
This guide is not a manifesto on all things druid and arcane; others have already written extensive guides to playing those classes singly, and done so better than I could. Rather, it addresses the issues and possibilities that come from this unique combination of abilities. Many things that work well for druids and arcane casters will obviously work well for the arcane hierophant, but if some twist is involved for this class then it has a place in this guide.


WHO IS THE AUTHOR?
I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons on and off for over twenty years. While I build characters with the intent to “optimize”, I don’t consider myself a rules lawyer, and have likely overlooked many possible uses of the technical aspects of the rules. I still hope that anyone interested in playing the arcane hierophant can find information of use to them here.


SOURCES AND ABBREVIATIONS
Of course, in writing this guide I am limited to the sourcebooks in my possession, so any major omissions you notice may simply be because I don’t have the relevant book. I will try to include more in future updates as sources become available to me. One major resource I used is not a book at all, but the druid guide by A Man in Black. This is an excellent guide that I used in developing the build for my own arcane hierophant and in many ways inspired me to write this text. Since this guide is not meant to be exhaustive, I recommend you also use A Man in Black’s work for your character. The rest of the text assumes that you have access to the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual, Races of the Wild and Spell Compendium as a minimum. The latter book is not strictly necessary, but if you are playing a character this focused on spellcasting then it is almost certainly a good investment.

The following list of abbreviations is used in the guide, not only for sourcebooks but also for common terms. Note that references to the core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual) are generally excluded.

AH - Arcane hierophant
BAB - Base attack bonus
CAdv - Complete Adventurer
CArc - Complete Arcane
CDiv - Complete Divine
CF - Companion familiar
CMage - Complete Mage
CWar - Complete Warrior
DMG - Dungeon Master’s Guide
Drac - Draconomicon
FRCS - Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
HoB - Heroes of Battle
Mini - Miniatures Handbook
MM - Monster Manual
MM2 - Monster Manual 2
MM3 - Monster Manual 3
OA - Oriental Adventures
PHb - Player’s Handbook
PHb2 - Player’s Handbook 2
RoD - Races of Destiny
RoE - Races of Eberron
RotW - Races of the Wild
SpC - Spell Compendium
SS - Savage Species
WS - Wild shape
ABILITY SCORES

In building your arcane hierophant you almost certainly have two scores that should be as high as reasonably possible: wisdom and whichever is associated with your arcane class (intelligence or charisma). All other considerations are generally secondary, although a good constitution is certainly important as well. Dexterity is nice to have as a reasonable number, but strength is almost certainly a dump stat. If using the point-buy system, I would recommend the following starting builds:




Of course these numbers are subject to personal preference, but they present a good starting point. If you really favour dexterity, you may want to find more points for it, and if you want your druid/sorcerer to have a better selection of skills then you may want a higher intelligence.
RACES

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, the following races might be considered strong options for the arcane hierophant. When selecting, remember that multi-classing penalties can be an issue, and anything with a level adjustment will completely destroy your spellcasting progression. In addition, penalties to mental ability scores are generally a bad idea, which can eliminate some races that ordinarily make good druids (such as the shifter).

  • Anthropomorphic animal (SS): There are several anthropomorphic animals that have no racial hit dice or level adjustment and make good options for the AH, including: bat, lizard, monkey, rat, raven, toad and weasel. All of these have a wisdom bonus of at least +4, although they also have a charisma penalty, making druid/sorcerer a poor option. The best choices are bat and monkey. Both have druid as favoured class, and the bat offers +6 wisdom and flight while the monkey gives +4 wisdom and a normal movement speed.
  • Bamboo spirit folk (OA): This race provides low-light vision and some relevant skill bonuses. In addition, it lists favoured class as any and gets trackless step as a racial ability, which may allow entry without druid levels and provide other multiclassing options (see the section on druid-entry below).
  • Elf: If you take wizard for your arcane side, an elf does have certain benefits. You bypass multi-classing problems and the generalist wizardry “substitution” feature gives you some extra spells known and one more spell slot without really giving up anything in return. The extra weapon proficiencies can also be useful in the lower levels when your options are limited. The penalty to constitution is likely to hurt more than the dexterity bonus helps though. If you have the option to take the sun elf (FRCS), the intelligence bonus can help your arcane spellcasting and skill selection. Other elf subraces are generally not good choices.
  • Gnome: Particularly if you are playing an illusionist for your arcane selection, the gnome makes a solid choice. They have a number of benefits which are retained while using WS and the ability score adjustments (+2 con, -2 str) are well suited to the AH. Like the halfling, the small size is often a boon when in your natural shape.
  • Halfling: The base halfling from the PHb is a reasonable choice. When not wild shaping the small size and dexterity bonus will help your AC and attack spells, and the strength penalty is not very significant. You can also access the racial substitution level from RotW which gives some interesting options for your CF. If ghostwise (FRCS) halflings are available, the speak without sound ability is as useful as for any druid in WS. Stronghearts (FRCS) give up the bonus to saving throws for a feat, which is unquestionably a good deal.
  • Illumian (RoD): This race is one of the strongest options. They have any favoured class, some very nice bonuses from power sigils and words, and can even save some skill points with speak language as a class skill. The Krau sigil will generally give you +2 caster level to two classes, which is effectively as good as a feat (using practiced spellcaster by comparison), and is almost certainly one of your choices. Almost any other sigil combines well with it. Hoon applies bonuses to a lot of skills you are likely to use, while Naen helps your intelligence-based skills and can boost the save DC's of a lot of spells, and Vaul can help you pass those nasty saves. Aesh and Uur, while not generally very useful for the skill checks, could potentially be very potent when WS'ing into forms with a high strength or dexterity. If your DM agrees that it is feasible (you may have to explain exactly how you handle your spellbook as a dire bear) then using a 30+ stat for the purpose of bonus spells can result in a lot of extra slots.
  • Raptoran (RotW): While flight is not overly important when you can wild shape, it is certainly handy from time to time and the raptoran gets several other benefits, including low-light vision and a +1 caster level on air spells. In addition, the raptoran can take the dire hawk (RotW) as an animal companion with only a three-level penalty, making it an excellent choice.
CLASSES

ARCANE HIEROPHANT ENTRY
The following is a list of class builds that can qualify for entry into AH. Note that most of the guide assumes you enter the AH using levels of druid with either sorcerer or wizard.

  • Druid 3/sorcerer 4: Taking the spontaneous caster on your arcane side does have some strong merit for the AH. Having access to another class of magic means that you may not find the limited number of sorcerer spells known to be much of a hindrance. It does force you to take four levels of sorcerer instead of druid, but at least it doesn’t delay your entry into AH. This build also requires you to have a good charisma score, while still needing reasonable intelligence for the skills you are likely to want, so it suffers from MAD in a big way.
  • Druid 3/warmage 4 (CArc): This combination doesn’t seem strong. The armoured mage ability is essentially meaningless since the prestige class offers its own version, so all you get out of this is warmage edge. A cleric/warmage/mystic theurge has better synergy. If you want to play the arcane side spontaneous, go with sorcerer instead.
  • Druid 3/beguiler 4 (PHb2): This option is much like the druid/warmage. You get a much more limited selection of spells from your arcane side although you do gain a few interesting abilities. Cloaked casting and surprise casting do not specify that they are limited to beguiler spells, meaning that you could potentially use them with your druid spells also. The larger number of skill points only applies to a few levels for you though, and the armoured mage ability is redundant with your first level of AH. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this combination.
  • Druid 4/wu jen 3 (CArc): Thematically this build works very well, since the wu jen has a basis in nature. In practice this means more overlap in spell selection than a druid/wizard or druid/sorcerer, but would still have an impressive variety. You also gain the watchful spirit ability, one spell secret, and a bonus metamagic feat, although you lose the higher level wu jen bonuses.
  • Druid 3/bard 4: While this combination is possible, you are really just giving yourself suboptimal arcane spellcasting in return for some bard abilities that will never advance. However, it is possible to greatly improve on this build if you have access to the Green Whisperer from Dragon #311, a bard/druid combination you can enter at 6th level. In addition, a bard build can include a level of sublime chord (CArc) at 11th level before continuing with AH, which drastically improves your spellcasting options. If you are interested in a druid/bard multiclass another consideration is the fochlucan lyrist (CAdv). This guide will help you create your build.
  • Druid 3/wizard 3/mystic theurge 2: Since it is possible to get into mystic theurge a level earlier than arcane hierophant you may decide to qualify this way, though it delays AH by one level and weakens many of your non-spellcasting abilities. You also need 6 ranks in knowledge (religion). If your focus is exclusively on spells this option may appeal to you, and you may wish to take mystic theurge after you have 10 levels of AH anyway.
  • Druid 4/wizard 1/blood magus 2 (CArc): There are a select few arcane prestige classes that use caster level as a requirement in place of a minimum spell level, which means that multiclass casters could potentially qualify early by taking the practiced spellcaster feat. The blood magus (CArc) is one of the few that offers some potential benefit without delaying entry into AH. You are required to take toughness and great fortitude (and in effect practiced spellcaster), and you will end up having to spend a few skill points cross-class to meet your AH knowledge prerequisites, but you do end up with a few handy abilities without affecting your spellcasting or druidic abilities. The background requirement that you have died and returned to life may be a problem though. Note that druid 3/sorcerer 2/blood magus 2 also works.
  • Druid 3/wizard 1/elf paragon 3 (UA): You effectively end up with only three levels of druid abilities and three wizard spellcasting levels this way, but slightly better hit points and a few bonuses from the paragon class, most notably a bonus to intelligence.
  • Druid 3/wizard 1/human paragon 3 (UA): Similar to the elf paragon, you essentially have three levels only in druid and wizard taking the human version. The benefits are a little more substantial though, with more skills points (including an extra class skill on all classes, which can be great for something like tumble), better hit points, proficiency with a martial weapon, a bonus feat and a +2 increase to any attribute you choose.


ACCELERATED ENTRY
There are a few ways to gain entry into AH without gaining 2nd-level arcane spells through regular means, allowing you to qualify with druid 6/wizard 1 (or another arcane class). This allows you to enter the prestige class with minimal impact on your WS and other abilities. Note however that these methods are not universally accepted and your DM may determine them invalid. This is the best description of accelerated entry I’ve seen (I made a very slight change here to a source reference):

Quick advancement feats:
  • Precocious Apprentice (CArc) - as a 1st level arcane caster, gain one 2nd level spell slot & spell, needing a roll to successfully cast
    • Pros: comes from a WoTC splatbook
    • Cons: virtually useless beyond gaining early entry to dual-caster PRC's; massive [thread=426386]debate[/thread] on legality of use (will not be used in any examples)

  • Southern Magician (Races of Faerûn) - cast divine spells as arcane (& vice versa) a limited number of times per day
    • Pros: far more useful than Precocious Apprentice; comes from a WoTC splatbook
    • Cons: feat states that the spell's source of power doesn't change, leaving it up to the DM whether it can be used as hoped, although probably not (will not be used in any examples)

  • [thread=705039]Alternative Source Spell[/thread] (Dragon Magazine #325; check out some of the other feats in that issue) - similar to Southern Magician, swap around arcane & divine spellcasting at -1 caster level for that spell
    • Pros: none of the conflicting text that bogs down Southern Magician, easier prereqs, no limits to use per day, no debates yet that it works
    • Cons: not all DM's allow material from Dragon Magazine


NON-DRUID ENTRY
Some players may want to build a dual-caster using a divine class other than druid. While mystic theurge is the obvious choice for this, arcane hierophant actually offers superior hit dice and skills and provides an armoured mage ability and channelling, though the wild shape and companion familiar abilities are likely of no use (and in fact by RAW forces you to give up your familiar, so you should look at other options there) unless you can access them through another means. The problem here is the stiffer entry requirements for AH, most notably trackless step.

As mentioned in the races section, one way to get this is by playing a bamboo spirit folk (OA) which grants trackless step as a racial ability. Whether or not this works is debatable, since the AH requirements specifically list trackless step as a class ability, but with a little persuasion you may be able to get your DM to agree. If so then the only remaining requirements are 2nd-level spells, a BAB of +4 and some skills. Cleric 3/wizard 4 can certainly meet those, as well as a number of other options.

Another way of getting trackless step is by playing an elf or half-elf and taking a level in wildrunner (RotW). The problem here is skill prerequisites. In order to meet them in a reasonable time frame you need to get survival as a class skill. The ranks in hide and move silently may also be tricky, and you will need 7 levels before entering wildrunner unless you also get those as class skills. Below is a list of possible entries into wildrunner. This assumes you are going cleric, though in some cases other options exist.

  • Cleric 3/sorcerer 4: This might work in theory, but you still need a high intelligence to meet the skill requirements and now you have to worry about knowledge(nature) being cross-class. This option really doesn’t seem practical.
  • Cleric 3/wizard 3/mystic theurge 1: Like the cleric/wizard, but the skills are even trickier since you now need 6 ranks of knowledge (religion) too. If you can pull it off, it does give you better spellcasting.
  • Cleric 3/bard 4: While the bard spell list is generally inferior to sorcerer/wizard, this is certainly a lot easier to manage in terms of skills.
  • Cleric 3/beguiler 4 (PHb2): Much like the cleric/bard.
  • Cleric 3/wizard 3/seeker of the misty isle 1 (CDiv): This actually works quite well. Ideally you take the arborea domain to get survival since you get travel domain as a bonus. The seeker level gives good skill points and has hide and move silently as class skills, so you can take most if not all of those ranks in that level.
  • Cleric 3/wizard 1/elf paragon 3 (UA): Elf paragon gives you hide, move silently and survival as class skills, although having survival as a class skill for cleric makes things easier. You get some other benefits from the paragon levels, although you have a dead level for spellcasting (in addition to your next level in wildrunner).
  • Cleric 3/wizard 2/half-elf paragon 2 (UA): Half-elf paragon gives hide and move silently as class skills (but not survival) as well as 4 skills points base per level. This makes it doable, but like the elf paragon you have one level without spellcasting.

In all cases the above builds followed by one level of wildrunner can enter AH immediately after. The last five options above get all necessary skills as class skills and could potentially be combined with the accelerated spellcasting options presented above. If you decide these builds are worth the investment, you may want to consult another guide (likely a mystic theurge guide--anyone know a good one?) as most of this text won’t apply to you.


AFTER ARCANE HIEROPHANT
The builds above gain you entry into AH at level 8 or 9, so after ten levels of this prestige class you will still have 2 or 3 levels to fill before reaching 20. The following list suggests classes to consider.

  • Mystic theurge: One of the more obvious selections to improve your spellcasting, taking further levels in this class make a lot of sense, particularly if you qualified for AH using it. A druid 3/wizard 3/mystic theurge 4/AH 10 has 9th level spells in both classes. Your other abilities are substantially weakened however.
  • Hierophant: This class doesn’t directly improve any ability you already possess, but has a few options that may appeal to you, such as bonus metamagic feats or the ability to share WS. The knowledge(religion) prerequisite may actually be problematic however.
  • Arcane class: In general this is not a good choice. An arcane prestige class is probably better than advancing your base class, but even then you are curtailing the core abilities you have developed.
SKILLS

One of the nice things about the arcane hierophant is a solid number of skill points, particularly for those who use an intelligence-based arcane caster. The following skills are of primary interest to most AH’s:

  • Concentration: You’re going to be casting a lot of spells most of the time, and may be casting many of those under pressure. You probably want as many ranks in this as you can have.
  • Spellcraft: If you have wizard levels you almost certainly want this maxed out for learning spells. Other casters may not find it quite so necessary but it certainly isn’t a bad idea, particularly if you are the only one in the party with it.

The following skills are also considerations:

  • Spot, listen: Also nice selections, especially if you will be filling the role of scout from time to time.
  • Handle animal: This is a little different for the AH than for a pure druid since your CF gets a much higher intelligence score and becomes able to communicate with you, making this skill a lot less important. You could drop it altogether, though you may want it for the levels before you reach AH or for its other uses.
  • Heal: Another skill that can be handy to take in your druid levels, but is not a class skill for AH.
  • Diplomacy, bluff: If you have sorcerer levels you can take some ranks in bluff as a class skill, and you have the charisma to back it up. This also makes diplomacy quite useful, which is a class skill for both druid and AH levels. Being the party face may not be convenient when in wild shape though.
  • Knowledge (religion): If you want to take any levels in mystic theurge you’ll need 6 ranks here. If you’re taking wizard levels try to get them in there, as its cross-class for other classes you are likely taking.
  • Knowledge (other): If you take levels in wizard or other class that gets access to knowledge skills then they can be quite useful, but remember they will be cross-class for AH levels.
  • Ride: A good idea if you’ll be riding your CF much of the time, such as if you’re a halfling with the first substitution level.
FEATS

Feat selection is perhaps the most challenging part of building an arcane hierophant. You have a huge range of abilities that you may want to support and its not hard to find feats that are appealing to you. Finding the slots to take them on the other hand is quite difficult. For ease of reference I have classified feats into sections below.


WILD SHAPE
This really includes two categories of feats: those that affect your WS ability itself, and wild feats that let you use WS uses for other effects. The latter group is highly unlikely to include any that you really want given your limited feat selection, as other priorities exist.

  • Fast wild shape (CDiv): Some druids prefer not to walk around in WS all day, and are likely to use the ability during the first round of combat. This feat allows you to WS and still cast a standard action spell during your turn, making it worthy of consideration.
  • Lion’s pounce (CDiv): Could be useful for certain WS forms.


COMPANION FAMILIAR
There aren’t a lot of feats that will directly improve your companion familiar, but there are some that warrant consideration.

  • Companion spellbond (PHb2): While some may dismiss this feat without a second look, increasing the range of your share spells ability to 30’ increases your tactical options with your CF and makes a lot of spells more practical to share.
  • Aerenal beastmaster (RoE): Available only to elves from Aerenal, and applies only to baboons, but adds three to your effective druid level for your CF. Unlike natural bond the bonus is not restricted to your character level, making it useful right from level one.


BASIC SPELLCASTING
Spellcasting is your primary ability, so feats that improve it make a lot of sense.

  • Spell focus: This feat may be worthwhile if you like a lot of spells on both lists from a single school. Possibilities include evocation (call lightning, flame strike, burning hands, fireball etc.), necromancy (poison, enervation, finger of death) or perhaps transmutation (entangle, creeping cold, baleful polymorph). Spell focus (conjuration) is more viable than for a pure druid if you want augment summoning.
  • Spell penetration: This can be very useful for overcoming spell resistance, but remember there are spells that can have a more potent effect, such as assay spell resistance.


METAMAGIC
Metamagic is a tricky choice for the AH. Having such a vast number of spells makes it tempting, but delayed access to higher level slots can limit its use. Most metamagic feats thus become useful at a later stage than for a pure caster but still hold much of the potential. The sudden versions can become very nice in that they are immediately useful, though only affecting one of your many spells. Remember also that rods of metamagic can fill the same role, but if you do take metamagic feats, try to take ones that are useful for both of your spell lists.

  • Chain spell (CArc): This feat is generally best when used with buffs, such as applying greater magic fang to several weapons.
  • Empower spell: This may be useful for many spells, but keep in mind that you can often find a superior version by taking a spell that is actually two levels higher. This feat is generally better than maximize spell, since its effect is nearly as good in most cases.
  • Extend spell: A nice feat for several spells, including buffs like mage armour or wraithstrike, as well as certain damage-over-time effects such as creeping cold. With an adjustment of only one level it is much more useable than some other metamagic.
  • Magic of the land (RotW): Not strictly a metamagic feat, but has largely the same effect. Given the number of buffing spells you can cast, this feat can add up to a surprisingly large amount of free healing.
  • Metamagic school focus (CMage): A way of reducing the cost of applying metamagic feats for one school. Note that it doesn’t list a minimum level adjustment, so feats like extend spell won’t increase the spell level at all.
  • Metamagic vigor (CMage): If you use metamagic all the time, this can make your spells a little more potent.
  • Persistent spell (CArc): A favourite of many spellcasters, though you will be exceedingly high level before this becomes practical. There will generally be little reason to take this feat before 18th level.
  • Quicken spell: It’s a long time before you can really use this (a druid 4/wizard 3/AH 5 is 12th level and just getting their first 5th-level spell slots), but it does make it much easier to get off your vast array of spells in a functional time frame. You could quite reasonably delay this feat until 15th or even 18th level, but it is certainly worth considering.
  • Residual magic (CMage): Another way of effectively reducing the cost of metamagic, though it may not be all that often you want to cast the same spell two rounds in a row. This feat does also help with magic item use though.
  • Sudden maximize (CArc, Mini): Useful right from first level, and can make up for the lower level on some spells.


ITEM CREATION
This is a matter of taste and campaign specifics, such as the availability of time and other resources to actually make items. Given your daily spell selection, feats like craft wand or brew potion become less useful, and the typical AH should probably skip item creation feats altogether.

  • Craft wondrous item: The one thing about the AH that makes this feat appealing is the vast array of spells you have access to in meeting item prerequisites.


RESERVE
Reserve feats are presented in Complete Mage. While the ability to cast effects similar to spells without actually using spell slots is nice, the AH is unlikely to get much benefit from them considering the number of spell slots available to them and the lower level of those slots. There are exceptions though.

  • Minor shapeshift (CMage): This provides a variety of interesting buffs, including some extra damage for WS forms or a never-ending supply of temporary hit points. Best of all, it’s a swift action to use.


OTHER
There are a few other feats that you may wish to consider.

  • Arcane strike (CWar): Given the range of buffs you have and the number of attacks you can get in certain forms, this feat can provide an extremely impressive amount of bonus damage. While arcane spells are a requirement, the feat description does not specify that you must use arcane spell slots to activate the effect (though you should confirm this with your DM).
  • Improved initiative: Going first is never a bad thing, especially for a spellcaster.
  • Improved toughness (CWar): Closes the gap in hit points between you and a pure druid, if you find it necessary.
  • Point blank shot, precise shot: These are an option if you want to cast a lot of ray spells.
  • Skill focus (concentration): This probably isn’t necessary even if you find yourself making a lot of concentration checks, since your concentration rank should be higher relative to the level of spells you are casting compared to a pure caster.
  • Track: Depends entirely upon the campaign and the rest of the party, but this feat may be very useful.
ARCANE HIEROPHANT ABILITIES

The following special abilities are ones that will generally be available to all arcane hierophants regardless of build.


WILD SHAPE
Levels in AH stack with druid for determining wild shape abilities. Depending upon your build, you are thus likely to access this ability around level 8 or 9 and remain 3 or 4 levels behind a pure druid. Note that the wording in RotW is a little confusing, since it says that if you do not already possess the ability that you do not gain it from this class. However the sample character clearly shows the intent here is not that you need 5 levels of pure druid. This is the assumption made for the rest of the guide, but if your DM disagrees then you will have to adjust somewhat.

As with most AH abilities, this is a mixed bag. You are delayed access to the best wild shape forms and your BAB is lower than a druid, but you have a greater range of buffs than druids alone can access. The sections on feats and spells list some possibilities. You may also be using a large amount of equipment designed to improve your excellent spellcasting, which may make wild shapes somewhat less appealing.

The shapeshift variant (PHb2) should be avoided, since you lose your companion familiar and it prevents spellcasting, two of your greatest strengths.


ARMOUR
The first level in AH allows you to wear druidic armour without chance of arcane spell failure. Essentially this means you are not entirely reliant on bracers of armour or mage armour spells, although spells have the significant advantage of applying while WS’ed. Note that the AH ability is limited to light and medium armour though, so even if you take heavy armour proficiency it still won’t work with dragonhide plate.


SPONTANEOUS SUMMONING
Casting summon nature’s ally spells spontaneously still remains somewhat useful for the AH, but since you have fewer and lower-level druid spells than a pure druid it is less so. If this really interests you, you could still build towards it by taking augment summoning, which would also combine with summon monster spells if you choose to use them. The prerequisite spell focus (conjuration) could be useful on your arcane side also.

Another option is the spontaneous rejuvenation alternative feature listed in PHb2. While weaker summons tend to become obsolete as you level, easy access to healing of any amount is always useful, and of course you can still memorize summon nature’s ally spells if you want them.


COMPANION FAMILIAR
To me this is perhaps the most interesting ability that an arcane hierophant gets. It combines the combat capability of an animal companion with the defensive and utility potential of a familiar, making it an extremely flexible and effective ally. Assuming you take only 3 non-druid levels to qualify for AH, the natural bond feat (CAdv) will give it the same hit dice and animal companion abilities as if you were pure druid. On top of that it will gain an intelligence score and the ability to communicate with you (allowing it to be more independent and take more complex actions than an ordinary companion), as well as getting spell resistance, delivering touch spells for you, and the like. You also have a wide range of potential buffs to add from arcane spells as well as druid, such as mage armour (see the spells section for more ideas).

One question that may arise is whether or not the CF counts as a familiar for certain effects, such as the familiar line of sorcerer/wizard spells. The RAW indicates that you must dismiss any familiar you have while the animal companion remains, which would suggest otherwise. The name “companion familiar” and the flavour of the ability may work in your favour here though, so talk to your DM for a ruling. Another oddity here is that the RAW states your arcane spellcasting class level plus AH level determines the familiar abilities your CF gets, which means that your arcane class doesn’t necessarily need to give you a familiar for this benefit. Check this with your DM, but if this works then other arcane classes have a little more potential, and even as a wizard or sorcerer you could take a substitution feature in place of the familiar without penalty (such as the metamagic specialist from PHb2).

Generally speaking any animal that makes a good companion will also make a good CF, so look over a good druid guide to help make that choice. There are a couple of extra considerations however:

  • Strong manoeuvrability will grant you the most use out of the deliver touch spell and channel animal abilities, so picking a companion with good speed and/or flight may be useful.
  • A companion with several attacks will usually get more out of the huge range of buffs you can provide.
  • The intelligence score of the CF can open up a lot of options if yours is capable of using tools, such as an ape or dire ape.

As you advance in level you have two basic options: you can dismiss your CF to take a more powerful one (with a lower effective druid level for determining special abilities) or you can advance your CF itself. The former is nice in that you can generally access animals with more brute force that can dish out serious damage. The latter option provides you with a lot more customization options however, and also gives a better sense of continuity from a role-playing perspective. If you choose this second option, it will eventually get access to a few more skill points than a normal animal companion. These points may be useful for simply upgrading its existing skills such as hide and move silently, but you may also find them useful for qualifying for feats. When selecting feats, keep the following in mind:

  • Improved natural attack, improved natural armour (MM), weapon focus, improved initiative, ability focus (MM): Fairly standard buffing feats that don’t require you to make extra decisions or keep track of things in combat.
  • Armour proficiency: You could give your CF armour proficiencies to wear barding, but remember that you likely have access to (greater) mage armour, making it somewhat unnecessary.
  • Weapon proficiency: Considering its intelligence, if you select an ape or dire ape for a CF then weapon proficiencies are certainly reasonable. If playing at the really high levels and your CF has a high enough BAB for several attacks then this may be worthwhile, assuming you can afford a solid weapon. After all a companion familiar hacking at things with a greatsword may be worth it just for the humour value…
  • Combat reflexes line: There are a few animals you have access to that have reach and a reasonable dexterity (such as the dire ape), or receive reach through a size-increasing spell, making this a worthwhile selection. The vexing and adaptable flanker feats (PHb2) may provide your CF with interesting tactics in combat (such as flanking with you while still remaining within 5’ for shared spells). If your CF has one very powerful attack then feats like hold the line (CWar) may also warrant consideration.
  • Dodge line: The dodge line of feats has some marginal usefulness for some CF’s, most notably spring attack if you want it to deliver touch spells on a regular basis. If you play into high enough levels for the +12 BAB, then bounding assault (PHb2) has its uses and combat tactician (PHb2) provides a little extra damage for pouncers. Consider expeditious dodge (RotW) as a replacement for dodge if your CF has a move of 40 or higher.
  • Combat expertise: Eventually (and this really is eventually) your CF will have an intelligence score of 13, allowing it to take combat expertise. It is a reasonable option to increase its armour class if you find it hits reliably enough (or in situations where defence is more important than hitting). Your companion is unlikely to advance far enough to get feats requiring combat expertise as a prerequisite.
  • Power attack line: Power attack itself is obviously a lot less appealing for a natural attacker as it is for a two-handed weapon wielder, but the use of spells like wraith strike (SpC) makes it a solid choice with multiple attacks. Any of the follow-up feats from the PHb may also have uses (some more so if the CF is larger than medium). If used with consistent buffing, this also opens up brutal strike (PHb2) for any animal with a bludgeoning attack (which includes bite) or flay (PHb2) for any animal with a slashing or piercing attack (almost all of them), although again these feats are far more powerful with a two-handed weapon. Leap attack (CAdv) is one of the most interesting extensions of power attack for many animals (especially those with pounce), assuming you can get the 8 ranks in jump, and actually combines very well with brutal strike and/or flay.
  • Cometary collision (PHb2) gives the CF a little more ability to act as a bodyguard. Pushback (Mini) may be useful in certain situations, such as moving opponents out of position to flank you.
  • Flyby attack (MM), great flyby attack (SS): If you take a flying companion then one of its main combat advantages is manoeuvrability for use with delivering touch spells, making flyby attack pretty much a gimme. If allowed, great flyby attack then adds some serious punch for a line attack.
  • Fleet of foot (CWar), powerful charge (Mini): If you have an animal companion with the pounce ability, fleet of foot may be very useful in giving you every opportunity to use it. The problem is that run is a prerequisite and CF’s won’t have a lot of feat slots to choose from, although some animals (such as the lion) have pounce and start with the run feat. Powerful charge provides another useful bonus and actually combines well with fleet of foot. If you have a larger companion already or use buffs to increase its size then powerful charge becomes more useful.
  • Multiattack (MM), improved multiattack (SS): CF’s eventually gain multiattack on their own, but if your campaign won’t last that long (particularly if you are using an animal companion that carries a hefty effective druid level penalty) then it may be worth picking it up anyway. Improved multiattack becomes a good additional option for any CF with solid secondary attacks.
  • Spectral skirmisher (PHb2): Really only an option if greater invisibility is a mainstay in your spell selection. This feat makes a lot more sense if your CF is capable of dealing a lot of damage with one hit or can interrupt an opponent’s attack with an AoO, such as with a trip. Overall though, it is unlikely to be worthy of a feat slot unless you have a very specific set of tactics to suit it.
  • Mage slayer (CArc, Mini): Requires two ranks in spellcraft (which is bound to be a cross-class skill), but can be devastating to enemy spellcasters, particularly if your CF is a strong grappler.
  • Rapid strike (Drac): The neat thing about this is that a CF is considered a magical beast, so as soon as it gets a BAB of +10 it may qualify for this feat. If it has a solid pair of attacks (likely claws) then this feat may go a long way in increasing their damage potential. With enough buffs, extra attacks are always a good thing.


CHANNEL ANIMAL/PLANT
This is an unusual ability, and how practical it is depends on the situation. Setting up the magical conduit that allows you to channel spells has a range of touch, so you can’t just pick any animal or plant you can see as the origin point for your spells. You can certainly prepare some things in advance though, using your CF or another trained/charmed animal as a source for certain spells such as lines, cones, or other location-sensitive effects. Alternatively, carry around a couple of small plants and you can toss them into position (chucking a flower pot at the horde of bugbears and having it explode in a fireburst deserves style points) or use them much like a potion by storing a touch spell. Since the channel ability extends to line of sight and effect, you can have some spell effects go well beyond normal range.
SPELLS

One of the major questions surrounding any dual caster is whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs. Many argue that the highest level spells available to a pure caster of equivalent level are far more important than a second casting class, while others claim that the versatility and staying power of dual casters makes them effective. Obviously I am partial to the AH and fall in the latter category. Consider the following data, which compares the spellcasting progression of a druid/wizard/arcane hierophant to those of pure druids and wizards every five levels (for the sake of ease, bonus spells from high ability scores, specialization etc. are excluded):

Show
Class: Spells of level 1-3/4-6/7-9; Total spell levels; Highest spell level
  • Druid 5: 6/0/0; 10; 3rd
  • Wizard 5: 6/0/0; 10; 3rd

  • Druid 10: 11/5/0; 43; 5th
  • Wizard 10: 11/5/0; 43; 5th

  • Druid 15: 15/11/3; 106; 8th
  • Wizard 15: 12/11/3; 100; 8th

  • Druid 4/wizard 3/mystic theurge 3/AH 10: 27/24/11; 255; 9th
  • Druid 20: 15/14/12; 195; 9th
  • Wizard 20: 12/12/12; 180; 9th

As you can see, in the early levels the AH is outmatched in every way: total spells memorized, total spell levels memorized, and of course highest spell level. Over time though, the arcane hierophant pulls ahead in the first two categories. It is important that not only does the AH have more spells, but the total spell levels memorized also exceeds a pure caster in the teens, crediting the idea that they can pack more punch over the course of several encounters. The highest level spell available remains one to two behind until 20th level, when the dual caster also accesses 9th level spells.

Arcane hierophants also have one of the most impressive spell lists of any character you will find. The breadth and number of spells available to the AH makes them able to have the right magic for almost any situation. In addition, many druid and arcane spells stack nicely and provide some particularly interesting possibilities for the AH’s abilities. Below is a description of broad spell categories followed by a list of specific spells. Like other sections in this guide, the list is not meant to be exhaustive and there are many, many options that will be of interest, but if it interacts in some special way with the AH then I have tried to include it.


DEFENSIVE BUFFS
Both druid and arcane spells can provide a significant boost to AC. The druid spells (and wild shaping) are most often related to natural armour, while arcane spells have several armour and shield bonuses, which means that you can stack a lot of effects. At 11th level (druid 4/wizard 3/AH 4), wild shaped into a cave ankylosaurus (Mini, AC 24) and with the spells bite of the wereboar (SpC, +8 enhancement to natural), greater mage armour (SpC, +6 armour), shield (+4 shield), reduce person (+1 for size, +1 for dex) and cat’s grace (+2 for dex) up, your AC is a whopping 46. Add to that spells like greater invisibility or greater mirror image (PHb2), and very few things will ever hit you.

This is an ideal situation in which you have the time and slots to cast several spells (some of which have short duration), but the defensive potential here is staggering. With the wild shape and greater mage armour ahead of time, casting bite of the wereboar in the first round of combat already brings your AC to 38.


OFFENSIVE BUFFS
Similarly, druid and arcane spell selection covers a wide range of offensive buffs, many of which stack. A druid 4/wizard 3/AH 5 can cast bite of the weretiger and WS into a dire lion, cast heroics (SpC) to add a feat like powerful charge (Mini) or brutal strike (PHb2) to the mix, and then cast a wraithstrike (SpC) to resolve the pounce with touch attacks, maximizing the free power attack and still hitting with every attack most of the time. If grappling is your preference, cast a (quickened) resinous tar (CMage) on your target before moving in and then cast fearsome grapple (SpC). In either case, don’t forget your enlarge person spell.

There are also a number of spells available that act as a sort of counter-attack; only taking effect when you are hit. Typically you are better off using spells that prevent you from getting hit in the first place, since you do not have as many hit points as a pure druid, although a few are listed below.


TOUCH SPELLS
There are a large number of touch spells that can be very appealing in the sorcerer/wizard spell selection, but most of the time the problem is getting either yourself or your familiar safely in close enough to use them. The companion familiar is much hardier than a typical familiar though, while the AH him(her)self has such a huge range of options that being in melee is entirely doable. Don’t forget that bite of the wererat (SpC) offers weapon finesse for free as well as a sizeable dex buff, which can make those touch attacks a breeze if you already have a good dexterity.


LINES AND CONES
One of the biggest problems with these spells tends to be positioning. The AH has several means at their disposal to circumvent this however, making spells like this more tempting to use (much like touch spells). The most obvious is perhaps WS. Turning yourself into something small and manoeuvrable (such as an eagle, or better yet an air elemental) makes positioning yourself quite simple. Many spells can have a similar result, such as dimension jumper. Finally, you have the option to channel these spells through your CF or other plant or animal.


SWIFT AND IMMEDIATE SPELLS
There are a number of spells that are cast as immediate or swift actions, you can take the quicken spell feat to apply to other spells, and there are even spells that let you store other spells to be cast quickened (spell matrix for example). If you are willing to burn through slots quickly (and at higher levels you have a lot to burn) then you can get a number of additional benefits this way. Many of these options are offensive buffs like wraithstrike, but you can add other buffs into your routine this way and even blasts or other tactical spells. Given the number of activities you are likely to undertake at any time, this is a very useful option.


METASPELLS
Either directly or indirectly, spells sometimes interact with each other. Spells like true casting (CMage), assay spell resistance (SpC) or spell enhancer (SpC) act much like metamagic feats in making other spells more effective. Quick potion (SpC) allows you to use another spell to make a temporary potion. Escalating enfeeblement (CMage) has a stronger effect when the subject is debuffed in certain ways, many of which are routine effects for druid spells. These choices become particularly effective for the AH since you likely have the spell slots and a wider range of spells to combine.


SPELL OVERLAP
In many cases the AH may have access to a spell from both of their spell lists, which can be a significant advantage. A wizard or sorcerer AH can still cast bull’s strength without learning it, freeing up other selections. In some cases a spell may appear at different levels for each list (the bite line from SpC is lower for druid than sorcerer/wizard, while dispel magic is higher), so you can access the spell a little easier on one side. Often spells may not be identical but similar enough to fulfill the same role (fireball and flame strike). This allows a great deal of flexibility in spell selection. For example, if you really like scorching ray but want to use your 2nd-level arcane slots for other things, you can memorize splinterbolt (SpC) in a druid slot and have nearly the same thing.


FAMILIAR SPELLS
As mentioned previously the special abilities section, you would have to clear these spells with your DM. If you can use them though, it provides an additional set of spells you can use to buff your CF, and imbue familiar with spells opens a whole range of tactical possibilities.


SPELL LIST - DRUID















SPELL LIST - SORCERER/WIZARD
















CONCLUSION

Well that’s the end! Depending on how real life goes (darn that pesky real life interfering with my gaming) I plan to maintain the guide from time to time. Future updates should hopefully include additional sourcebooks, a section on epic arcane hierophant, any additional nifty stuff I find, and of course any great advice the community provides.

Thanks for making use of this guide, since that was entirely the point behind writing it. I sincerely hope that you found things of value to you, even if you disagree with some of my choices.
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Pyromantic,

A nicely put together piece.

For those interested in a Cleric / Arcane build, the use of Wildrunner from the same book (Races of the Wild) means you get Trackless Step at 1st level, though the need to get 8 ranks in Survival can prove to be difficult; however, it makes elf and half-elf a more viable race for entry.

Regards

C.
Bamboo spirit folk from OA debatably gain entry because of their trackless step racial feature.

-EE
Awsome Job, I was on the fence for the Arcane Hierophant, but am sold now! Thanks Agin, was a big help!
Thanks for the feedback and additional thoughts . I investigated the bamboo spirit folk and wildrunner ideas and added another section on non-druid entry into arcane hierophant.
For dirty tricks for entry there are also
Sanctum Spell
Earth Spell (heighten a catnip to 1st lvl spell, earth spell boosts it now to a 2nd lvl spell)
The previous two leave a really bad taste in my mouth since they are dependent on location

Finally there is also versatile spellcaster in Races of the Dragon. Only works if your arcane is spontaneous. You can use two lower level slots to cast a higher level spell. Thus when combined with Heighten Spell or Precocious Apprentice (when you get 2nd lvl spells you lose access to that slot, but now you can use two lvl 1 slots to cast the 2nd lvl spell it should be fine) you can now cast 2nd lvl spells.

Thus you have a build like
If using partials bab and saves
Sorc 1/Druid 3/Mystic Theurge 3/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 3
If not using partials bab and saves
Sorc 1/Druid 3/Mystic Theurge 4/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 2
Also have to grab the education feat due to the knowledge requirements of Mystic Theurge. I call this build the "Morgan Le Fey"/Morgaine build for flavor wise she is similar to the Arthurian character (a mixture of sorceress and a guardian of the fey and thus druid)

Good guide, I did a quick read will read in more detail later and give opinions.
Great job! I'm really happy someone finally made a guide for this great PRC.
For dirty tricks for entry there are also
Sanctum Spell
Earth Spell (heighten a catnip to 1st lvl spell, earth spell boosts it now to a 2nd lvl spell)
The previous two leave a really bad taste in my mouth since they are dependent on location

Finally there is also versatile spellcaster in Races of the Dragon. Only works if your arcane is spontaneous. You can use two lower level slots to cast a higher level spell. Thus when combined with Heighten Spell or Precocious Apprentice (when you get 2nd lvl spells you lose access to that slot, but now you can use two lvl 1 slots to cast the 2nd lvl spell it should be fine) you can now cast 2nd lvl spells.

Thus you have a build like
If using partials bab and saves
Sorc 1/Druid 3/Mystic Theurge 3/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 3
If not using partials bab and saves
Sorc 1/Druid 3/Mystic Theurge 4/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 2
Also have to grab the education feat due to the knowledge requirements of Mystic Theurge. I call this build the "Morgan Le Fey"/Morgaine build for flavor wise she is similar to the Arthurian character (a mixture of sorceress and a guardian of the fey and thus druid)

Good guide, I did a quick read will read in more detail later and give opinions.

The sanctum and earth spell tricks leave a bad taste in my mouth too :D. I wouldn't expect many DMs to allow that, but if you can get away with it then sure, why not?

The versatile spellcaster looks interesting. I don't actually have races of the dragon, but I'll have to see if I can get my hands on it at some point.
Great job! I'm really happy someone finally made a guide for this great PRC.

Agreed! Thanks Pyromaniac, I need to get around to playing one of these soon.
Was curious, under the requirements it states: Special: Trackless step class feature. Dose it mean that if you get the ability from another sourse (like racial) dose that meat the requirement. I can see the arguements for both side, was just curious.
Can your companion familiar put ranks in spellcraft? Since it gains an intelligence and it can communicate with you. Should it then be able to learn spellcraft, say 2 ranks?
It then can take mage slayer (Complete arcane) to quickly neutralise enemy spellcasters if it has reach. Enemy caster can only cast a spell by provoking an attack of opportunity either by casting it or by moving away and then trying to cast it. Then simply grapple the caster.
A great feat choice for the AH is Aerenal Beastmaster from Races of Eberron. You have to be an Aerenal elf, and take a baboon as your animal companion at first level. The feat grants a +3 bonus to effective druid level for determining your animal companion's aiblities for the baboon.

Also, as an elf, you get to take the wonderful level 1 racial substitution level.
Gnomes, Halflings, and Raptorans are terrible choices. All three races suffer multiclassing penalties. Gnomes have Bard as their favored class, Halflings have Rogue, and Raptorans have Cleric.

Illumians make a good choice. They multiclass like humans. Also, it's a controversial but common interpretation of the racial feat Improved Sigil (krau) that it lets you enter into Arcane Hierophant with only a single level of Wizard. This makes Druid 4/Wizard 1/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 5 a viable build that grants 19th level Druid casting and 16th level Wizard casting.
Gnomes, Halflings, and Raptorans are terrible choices. All three races suffer multiclassing penalties. Gnomes have Bard as their favored class, Halflings have Rogue, and Raptorans have Cleric.

As stated, you need to watch out for multiclassing penalties, but that doesn't have to apply at all to a build like druid 4/wizard 3, since they are within one level. All in how you advance the classes.

I don't have Races of Destiny right now, so I can't comment on illumians.
Nice guide. I just thought of something.

Cloistered Cleric 3/Druid 3/Arcane Hierophant XX

Now, use Divine Magician from Complete to give up your Knowledge domain that Cloistered cleric gives and there ya go! you can cast 2nd level wizard/cleric/druid spells. This is the best and fastest progression in my opinion.

Note: Unfortunately, when you progress in arcane heirophant using divine magician, it will only advance your arcane spells, not your cleric spells (unless you choose not to advance it and ignoring your druid side).
As stated, you need to watch out for multiclassing penalties, but that doesn't have to apply at all to a build like druid 4/wizard 3, since they are within one level. All in how you advance the classes.

Fair enough. You might want to put a note about watching out for the penalty, though.

I don't have Races of Destiny right now, so I can't comment on illumians.

You really need to get it. Any guide to anything that involves multiclassing spellcasters and that has a specific section on best races MUST include Illumians, in my opinion. Multiclassed spellcasters are what Illumians were meant to be.
Illumians make a good choice. They multiclass like humans. Also, it's a controversial but common interpretation of the racial feat Improved Sigil (krau) that it lets you enter into Arcane Hierophant with only a single level of Wizard. This makes Druid 4/Wizard 1/Arcane Hierophant 10/Mystic Theurge 5 a viable build that grants 19th level Druid casting and 16th level Wizard casting.

How does Improved Sigil (Krau) get you AH with only 1 level of Wizard? It specifically says that it does not increase the spell slot of the heightened spell. Seems like Precocious Apprentice is the only feat that lets you get the 2nd level spell you need.
Nice guide. I just thought of something.

Cloistered Cleric 3/Druid 3/Arcane Hierophant XX

Now, use Divine Magician from Complete to give up your Knowledge domain that Cloistered cleric gives and there ya go! you can cast 2nd level wizard/cleric/druid spells. This is the best and fastest progression in my opinion.

Note: Unfortunately, when you progress in arcane heirophant using divine magician, it will only advance your arcane spells, not your cleric spells (unless you choose not to advance it and ignoring your druid side).

Doesn't work that way. Divine Magician adds those spells to your Cleric spell list.
How does Improved Sigil (Krau) get you AH with only 1 level of Wizard? It specifically says that it does not increase the spell slot of the heightened spell. Seems like Precocious Apprentice is the only feat that lets you get the 2nd level spell you need.

HEIGHTEN SPELL [METAMAGIC]
Benefit: A heightened spell has a higher spell level than normal (up to a maximum of 9th level). Unlike other metamagic feats, Heighten Spell actually increases the effective level of the spell that it modifies. All effects dependent on spell level (such as saving throw DCs and ability to penetrate a lesser globe of invulnerability) are calculated according to the heightened level. The heightened spell is as difficult to prepare and cast as a spell of its effective level.

A 1st level Heightened to 2nd level is a 2nd level spell. It's the effective level of the spell that matters, not the slot.
A 1st level Heightened to 2nd level is a 2nd level spell. It's the effective level of the spell that matters, not the slot.

I wouldn't say that
effective level of spell = level of spell
any more than
effective characterlevel = characterlevel

We could always ask CustServ.. ehheehe...

Seriously though, I would assume that a lot of DMs won't interpret it to allow 1 level of wizard to qualify.
Was curious, under the requirements it states: Special: Trackless step class feature. Dose it mean that if you get the ability from another sourse (like racial) dose that meat the requirement. I can see the arguements for both side, was just curious.

I haven't been able to find anything on point for this in the rules, which is why I left the text as "ask your DM". For now, that's the best answer I can give. If you're picking nits, it does say class feature, but getting it from your race is probably a reasonable substitute.
Can your companion familiar put ranks in spellcraft? Since it gains an intelligence and it can communicate with you. Should it then be able to learn spellcraft, say 2 ranks?
It then can take mage slayer (Complete arcane) to quickly neutralise enemy spellcasters if it has reach. Enemy caster can only cast a spell by provoking an attack of opportunity either by casting it or by moving away and then trying to cast it. Then simply grapple the caster.

I don't see why you wouldn't be able to put ranks in spellcraft. It would be a cross-class skill (unless for some bizarre reason it was listed in the skill entry of your CF's base animal). Mage slayer is an interesting idea and I will add it to the guide next time I do an update.
A great feat choice for the AH is Aerenal Beastmaster from Races of Eberron. You have to be an Aerenal elf, and take a baboon as your animal companion at first level. The feat grants a +3 bonus to effective druid level for determining your animal companion's aiblities for the baboon.

Also, as an elf, you get to take the wonderful level 1 racial substitution level.

This is another good suggestion. I'll add this in also.
Druid 3/bard 4: While this combination is possible, you are really just giving yourself suboptimal arcane spellcasting in return for some bard abilities that will never advance. If you are interested in a druid/bard multiclass, consider the fochlucan lyrist (CAdv) instead.

... The Green Whisperer PRC (Dragon Magazine #311) helps mitigate this a little, and Sublime Chord takes it the rest of the way. This combo really is one of the easier ways to get to 9th level divine & arcane spells, though probably not the most optimized...
I see Sublime Chord mentioned often, and I can see why; it's a great class. I don't have Dragon 311 though for Green Whisperer, and I imagine that's true for many players who might use this guide. What I should probably do is link to a good post on Green Whisperer/Sublime Chord/Fochlucan Lyrist builds for anyone interested (I'm sure I saw one).

Honestly though, I didn't focus much on bard when designing this guide, in large part because my own AH is druid/wizard. I still think Fochlucan Lyrist is probably the better way to go if you want to do druid/bard though.

Edit: OK, so I took another look at this to try and figure out exactly how it works (having to piece together the information, since I don't actually have the PrC). You can take Green Whisperer after druid 3/bard 2, yes? And it advances both druid and bard casting, so after druid 3/bard 2/GW 5 you can take one level of sublime chord and then into AH. Either that or you take a couple of levels of GW and then go straight into AH, take a level of SC asap and then back to AH. Assuming that's correct I would guess it is a decent build in giving you 9th level spells in both druid and the bard/sorcerer/wizard amalgamation of SC at 20th level. Not sure exactly what impact GW has on your wild shape and animal companion abilities though (but I assume it advances neither of them). I don't know that any bard build could really work well with AH unless you also use Green Whisperer. If that's the case then I don't expect too many players really have that option.
You really need to get it. Any guide to anything that involves multiclassing spellcasters and that has a specific section on best races MUST include Illumians, in my opinion. Multiclassed spellcasters are what Illumians were meant to be.

Well, I did end up grabbing Races of Destiny. Figured I play humans most of the time anyway and should have it. Looking at Illumians....I see what you mean. I will start working on including material from this book, and Illumians are at the top of the list.
What about ideas for items off the new Magic Item Compendium? Thanks!
What about ideas for items off the new Magic Item Compendium? Thanks!

Well, Wilding Clasps are an obvious choice.
Quick question on the spell check and armor thing: What happens when wild shaped using armor with the Wild ability? It gives the AC Bonus, but none of the other abilities of the armor (or the negatives). So using a Wild dragonhide full plate +5 while wild shaped, does it have a chance of Arcane failure? How about if said armor also had the Ease feature?

Thanks!
Haven't checked this thread in a while!

I'm looking through the MIC myself at the moment. There's certainly a bunch of items that could be useful. Making the wildling clasp official for 3.5 has to be the biggest benefit in this book for any druid character.

There's also a healing collar for your CF, which isn't terribly expensive but does provide a substantial boost to survivability. I'm sure I'll come across more stuff as I go through the book.

The wild armour description I find awfully ambiguous. It does state that the armour cannot be seen while in WS, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Clearly it isn't absorbed into the new form in quite the same way as equipment that becomes nonfunctional. I don't know if there's an official ruling on this somewhere. If all other functions of the armour become nonfunctional, then this should include arcane spell failure. As for the ease function, I'd need to look it up to see exactly how it works and don't remember where it is. Can anyone point me to it?

For a better description of equipment, you may want to check out the druid handbook that's linked in my guide. There's been some discussion there on the subject.
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