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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    Trafficking with the Genies - a Sha'ir Handbook
    aka "Sha'irs don't like it (rocking the Casbah)"


    Table of content

    1. Introduction
    2. Class analysis
    3. Starter pack
    4. Skills & Feats
    5. Base & prestige classes
    6. Builds, combos, and more builds!
    7. Spells and magic items
    8. Final considerations on the class

    NOTE: currently under revision after extensive toying with the class.


    1. Introduction

    Ah, the Sha'ir! One of the most unique and flavorful base classes in the game, and I'm surely not the only one who considers often the chance of playing one – only to see if possible to sneak a little bit of its awesomeness into a player character’s build. With time, I've built some fully playable sha’ir's (and even used a couple of them in real games) and, while doing it, I had to collect so many pieces of information that I had enough material to write a whole handbook. So here it is now, hope you enjoy reading it!


    Crunch

    The sha'ir is a SAD charisma-based spellcaster that has access to all Sor/Wiz spells and to a restricted number of divine domain spells; the way it gets spells/day to cast is a mechanic called "retrieval". Spell retrieval is similar to arcane preparation under many aspects, but relies on the support of a gen familiar (a tiny outsider), which is sent out to phisically fetch the spells you want, one after the other, from inhabitants of the elemental planes. A spell, once retrieved, remains set in its memory until a number of hours pass equal to its class level. Diplomacy is the most important class skill for a sha'ir, as it influences the probability that its gen successfully finds and retrieves a spell.


    Fluff

    The Sha'ir has been originally presented in the AD&D 2E campaign setting “Al'Qadim” as a non-vancian wizard kit, and revamped for 3.x in Dr315/DrC in a more wizard-like form, but still with customized mechanics trying to reproduce the original flavor. The sha'ir is a common primary caster in "arabian nights"-styled adventures.

    Sha'irs, besides being adventurers, often act as advisors to tribal chieftains or powerful rulers, and eventually may become rulers themselves; sha’ir adventurers are far from uncommon, though. According to the pre-islamic folklore, their magical power doesn't originate from study or innate talent, instead they gain spells by trafficking and dealing with genies, that eventually bestow onto them the ability to cast them; because of their "exquisite finesse" when parleying with the "ancient, powerful forces of the desert", these sages became the "primary arbiters between the immensely powerful geniekind and the people" of the material plane.

    The folk always respects the sha'ir, regardless of their view on arcane magic, be it because of their social position and diplomatic behavior, or due to fear of their mystical powers. All races can be sha'irs, irrespective of their magical talents, provided that they make for decent merchants.

    Note that, having strong regional connotations, the class doesn’t jam good with a lot of setting-specific stuff, such as many faerunian settings (rashemi sha’ir?). The DrC itself suggests not to see this aspect as a hard limitation, as this magical tradition has possibly spread out all over the world and thus become more “cosmopolitan”. So yes, rashemi sha’ir!


    Ratings

    Used thorough the handbook, this is the color code I'm considering:
    • Gold: a must for many builds, a strong choice for the others. Could be cheesy.
    • Blue: a solid option, and you could even consider building your character around it.
    • Black: you'd better look somewhere else first but could find a use in some specific build.
    • Red: doesn't fit your best roles, or it's too suboptimal to be even considered.


    Most stuff I didn’t rate only out of their absolute value, but also considering if they synergize especially well (or poorly) with a sha’ir in comparison with, say, a wizard. Since the class’ mechanics aren’t crystal clear, I had to make some assumptions (e.g. retrieving counts as preparing in order to qualify for feats/PrCs, you can retrieve your spels again and again...) – if your game uses different assumptions, the ratings would need to be adapted as well.


    Why play a sha'ir?

    "Since it's weird" and "look at those fancy dresses in the illustration!" are both totally valid answers, but if you're a player who like on-line guides, you're probably experienced enough to know that, whilst fluff and flavor are decisive for your game experience, classes are only metagame tags and they can be reskinned as you wish; with that in mind, consider that you could have the same flavor just by going straight wizard, speaking with a middle-east accent, and finally buying those damned clothes!

    So, fluff aside, what does the class offer us in terms of mechanics, and in which applications is it going to shine? Simply put, you should consider playing a sha'ir at least in the following cases:
    1. you want a primary caster who is also a party face,
    2. you are searching for a 20-level-long dual progression (e.g. soul binding/spell casting),
    3. you need to apply some specific divine prestige classes to arcane spellcasting,
    4. you are going to fill some specific niche, like "counterspelling" or "fear escalation",
    5. you have other forms of charisma-synergy (e.g. access to typical spell-like abilities),
    6. you have heard about the sha'ir shuffleTM and want to try it out.


    Starting getting curious and want to know more? Then you're likely in the right place!
    Since I've compared before a sha'ir to a wizard, a good starting point to understand what the class does is to analyze under which aspects it works like a wizard, and how much it differentiates instead.

    Spoiler: Similarities
    Show
    1. Both cast prepared spells: besides having different names and fluff, retrieving and preparing a spell produce the same effect: "Once retrieved, a spell remains set in the sha'ir's memory, like a wizard's prepared spell". Remember that you don't use a spellbook, so you won’t qualify for a feat or prestige class that requires one.
    2. Both don't need to prepare all their spells at once: or, in other words, you may leave some spell slots open and fill them at a later point of the adventuring day. The wizard requires 15' flat to prep up to 25% of its spells, while the time for the sha'ir varies, but this once more shouldn’t make a significant difference.
    3. Both share the same spell list: don't let you be tricked by that small amount (74) of divine spells: many (43) are already in your arcane spell list anyhow, and 20 of those remaining are found in the standard cleric list. As it takes HOURS to retrieve one, and it stays prepared only for a relatively short time, casting a divine spell will be a rare event.
    4. Both cast approximately the same number of spells: the sha'ir spell allotment has more slots than a wizard, but slightly less than a specialist. And in any case, less than the sorcerer.
    5. Both suffer from recent casting limit: this is true, as it applies to any spell slot spent shortly before resetting the "spells that can be cast per day", regardless of the preparation/retrieval mechanics.
    6. Both reset their spell reservoir each day: this means, amongst other things, that a sha'ir and a wizard may also overwrite unused slots – as this depends on the way the spells are retained in a slot, not on the preparation/retrieval mechanics.
    7. Both follow the same spell level / class level progression: or, the fastest progression available to base classes.
    8. Both cannot apply metamagic feats on the fly: but applying one doesn't change the spell's casting time.
    9. Both learn a small number of spells for free each level: and both must pay to learn the others; it is quite costy, for both classes, to expand the spells' inventory. Spells you don't gain automatically as you level up are marked as "unknown spells" (although you actually know them), and take longer to retrieve.



    Spoiler: Differences
    Show
    1. The sha’ir isn’t a wizard: the main consequence is that you lack all those juicy variants and ACF, the bonus feats, and you cannot be a master specialist (a valid option for many specialization areas).
    2. Filling your slots requires more time: some examples? At level 20, you would need 1 hour if you retrieve only known arcane spells (in this case, you’re probably as flexible as a sorcerer, and with less slots), and almost 10 hours if you retrieve only unknown arcane spells.
    3. You need even more micromanagement: even deciding the known/unknown spells ratio each day is an optimization exercise, not to mention that you need some automatized excel file to calculate the retrieval time. If your DM decides that the spell slots are lost when the spells time out, it becomes so hard to play the class that you’d better look somewhere else (see the last section of this guide for more information).
    4. Charisma-based spellcasting: it has probably more cons than pros, but it’s a blessing if you want to be the socialite of the party.
    5. You cast arcane and divine spells: according to the reading of most DMs, this means that the sha’ir is, at the same time, an arcane spellcasting class and a divine spellcasting class. This interesting combination qualifies you for several cleric-specific PrCs, which also increase your spellcasting abilities. Be careful – most of these classes are just traps, but options are always good, and you get more than a wizard.
    6. You may replace prepared spells during the day: aka the sha’ir’s shuffle (see section 2). This is of course DM-dependant, but it’s also a must in order for the class to work properly. Not broken, but being able to say “wait a couple of hours until I can get the right spells to do it” sound a lot cooler than “wait until tomorrow”.





    Potential problems with the class

    Before even planning to play the class, you and your DM should address the following points, since they largely influence the way a sha'ir is played:
    • Can you shuffle your spells, or are your slots lost once they time out?
    • Does "retrieval" count as "preparation" for spell-related mechanics (including qualifying for feats/PrCs)?

    If these questions puzzle you, go read the "controversial aspects" section at the end of this guide, and you'll find my two coppers on the subject.


    Sources

    For standardisation’s sake, I’m using only first-party material, plus the Dragon Compendium (for obvious reasons), plus a few notable exceptions (which are explained below).
    Spoiler: Sources
    Show
    BoBL: Libris Mortis
    BoED: Book of exalted deeds
    BoVD: Book of vile darkness
    CAdv: Complete adventurer
    CArc: Complete arcane
    CC: Complete champion
    CDiv: Complete divine
    CMag: Complete mage
    CoV: Champions of valor
    CSco: Complete scoundrel
    CSR: City of Stormreach
    DMG2: Dungeon master’s guide 2
    Dr318: Dragon nr. 318 (third party --> official 3.5 OA update)
    DrC: Dragon compendium (third party --> the book where the sha’ir is published)
    ECS: Eberron campaign setting
    EPH: Expanded psionics handbook
    EtCR: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft
    FaP: Faiths and Pantheons
    FC2: Fiendish codex 2
    FoE: Faiths of Eberron
    FRCS: Forgotten realms campaign setting
    HoH: Heroes of Horror
    LoD: Lords of darkness
    MHB: Miniatures Handbook
    MIC: Magic item compendium
    MM: Monster manual
    MM3: Monster manual 3
    OA: Oriental adventures
    PGtF: Player’s guide to Faerun
    PHB: Player’s handbook
    PlH: Planar handbook
    RoD: Races of destiny
    RoF: Races of Faerun
    RotD: Races of the dragon
    RotW: Races of the wild
    Sand: Sandstorm
    SCoT: Sharn, city of towers
    SoX: Secrets of Xen’drik
    SpC: Spell compendium
    SS: Savage species
    STPG: Savage tide player’s guide (third party --> official Greyhawk adventure path)
    ToB: Tome of battle
    ToM: Tome of magic
    UA: Unearthed arcana
    UE: Unapproachable east
    Web: Material published on the WotC website



    Credits

    Spoiler: Credits
    Show
    Would I try to give credits to all threads I consulted to get some inspiration, the thanksgiving section alone would be another handbook – so I'll only list those that I've regularly looked up:
    1. Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
    2. Being Batman: the Logic Ninja's Guide to Wizards
    3. List of all prestige classes that progress spellcasting, by Troacctid



    I also recommend the following further readings:
    1. Fear Handbook - Caedrus' Art of War, Volume I
    2. Counterspelling and dispelling
    3. Treantmonk's Guide To Wizard Spells: God's Tools



    This handbook has enjoyed the friendly support of these playgrounders:
    • Anthrowhale for highlighting that a villain binding your gen shuts you completely down
    • Buddy76 for suggesting the Marshal dip
    • ChaosStar for sponsoring the warlock/sha'ir dual progression
    • Falontani for the "Silver sniper" build and "The lone planeshifter" combo
    • Kalkra for the "Double familiar fun!" and "The touch of evil" combos, and for suggesting the arcane preparation feat and the spellthief dip
    • Malphegor for suggesting calimshan regional feats and the efreeti bloodline and for pointing out a couple of touchstone locations
    • PoeticallyPsyco for the "Double precocious apprentice fun!" combo
    • redking for further uses of "alternative-spell-source", the Custserve quote on soulbinding, and a homebrew variant
    • TalonOfAnathrax for the "A Rashemi is never really far from home" combo
    • WhamBamSam for the "Death from above" build, the zhentarim skymage in general, and his observations on the marshal "free" feat on on the necropolitan
    • Zaq for pointing out an error in the star elf's entry
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-06-24 at 09:11 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    2. Class analysis


    Class features

    The rating of the class features is based on two parameters: comparison with the golden standard's (aka wizard) equivalents, and reason to remain in the class instead of PrC'ing out.

    • Weapon and Armor Proficiency: listed for completeness' sake, that's not what you're aiming for anyhow.
    • Spells: by acclamation the most powerful ability in the game – AND – it comes with some concrete advantages in comparison to a wizard!? Look at the rest of the class, it's…it's a disaster. But this, boy, you have to see it to believe it.
      Spoiler: Details
      Show
      • Retrieval: having no spellbook is a marginal advantage: as it doesn't exist, no evil DM can destroy it! The problem is that the retrieval routine will last longer then the wizard's preparation routine, and possibly so long that when you're done you already forgot the first spells you've retrieved - plan carefully the share of known and unknown spells you want to prepare, otherwise you won't be able to keep your slots resevoir full.
      • Arcane spells: your bread and butter. Black only if considered in comparison with the wizard's spell list (they are the same), but this means they're gold if taken in isolation.
      • Divine spells: the sha'ir casts divine spells, which means, in my reading, that it's a divine spellcasting class. Welcome prestige classes! Doesn't become gold due to several reasons, namely the PrCs you qualify easily for aren't so many or so useful, and it's only a partial compensation for lacking ACFs and wizard-only options.
      • Charisma-based spellcasting: often branded as the worst spellcasting attribute, charisma on the other hand is synergic to social skills and to many racial/class abilities (because of DCs), so I guess it's not such a bad deal. WHO AM I KIDDING? The class forces you to become an amazing, blazing, shining, glittering, lovely son-of-a-gun! That's pure WIN!
      • Spells known: a double-edged blade. You learn more spells for free than a wizard, but you get the high level ones one level too late; this means, that if you want to immediately use the most powerful spells you can cast, you may need to pay for them before you learn them for free– which sadly means they're not for free anymore
      • Spells identified: if another spellcaster occasionally drops a nice spell, you may add it to your repertoire for free through a successful spellcraft check; don't count on it too much: when you need a new spell, simply go to the friendly neighborhood NPC spellcaster, and pay him for a practical demonstration. Weighted along 20 levels, it's cheaper as copying spells from others' spellbooks or from scrolls.
      • Swapping known spell: don't forget about it – your standard spell selection will evolve, so try to convert into known spells those that become more important as you level up.
      • Diplomacy check DC: so, your spellcasting is based on a skill check - this is a light liability, but you get in turn diplomacy as a class skill, so it's a fair trade I would say. Be careful, at low level you may need some extra boost to pump your diplomacy check so that you may reliably retrieve spells, but this boost will become more and more irrelevant as you level up. Try not to squander too many resources (e.g. precious feats) on diplomacy.
      • Spell "dissipation": here lies the secret of sha'ir's shuffle - if you're, say, a 2nd level sha'ir, you get to re-memorize all your unspent slots every 2 hours. That's as easy as it seems. At least if your master agrees to it...

    • Metamagic feats: analogous to the mechanics of any prepared spellcaster; to be noted that the retrieval DC increases slowly when applying metamagic.
    • Bonus languages: the available languages may be actually useful when you summon a monster, but it's nothing to write home about.
    • Summon gen familiar: a smarter familiar that you cannot exchange with an improved version later on and, if it dies, prevents you from retrieving spells for one day. On the other hand, thanks to its services, you won't need a spellbook. See "class mechanics" for more information on your gen familiar.
    • Recognize genie works: fluff disguised as crunch? If you have the option to PrC out of the class at level 2, I'd take it seriously into consideration just to avoid the shame of having such a silly class feature 😊
    • Elemental Protection: you shouldn't feel compelled to stay in the class until level 5 just because of this defensive ability, but it's not too crappy. DR/- against creatures with energy subtype is situational, but energy protection (including improved saves) may be worth something. Still underwhelming compared to the tricks that a wizard is capable of at 5th level.
    • Call Janni: you get a conjuration (calling) spell sooner than typical wizards do; your options are limited to a weak Janni, but remaining in the class until level 7 doesn’t hurt you too much (your spells remain prepared for 7 hours, which is a good compromise). The SLA also helps you to qualify for thaumaturgist.
    • Elemental Travel (1/day): solid; planar travel as a spell-like ability 4 levels sooner as a wizard; to find your way back home may need to wait until the next day, though. It isn't blue just because getting it at level 9 means that you're jeopardizing, or at least slowing down, your sha'ir shuffle – and, hey, there's a good chance that the sha'ir shuffle is one of the main reasons you entered the class in the first place!
    • Call genie: wow, I can call an efreeti! At level 11! Pretty similar to what my new spell, planar binding, already allows me to do! Woo-hoo! Ah, and my DM just informed me that the efreeti isn’t forced to grant me wishes! That’s great! Just don’t stay in the class so long, period.
    • Craft Genie Prison: a free item creation feat, which was available 10 levels ago, only that now it's limited to a very specific version of a very specific and amazingly expensive magic item, that you can first create at level 15 because of requirements. And then, once you're done, finally you can call a genie and try to trap it into the flask, to force it to help you 1 hour/day. But you could do better without the flask through planar binding alone! If you really want to employ geniekind as helpers, be a thaumaturgist instead.
    • Elemental Travel (2/day): you have this ability since 4 levels now, and you can even do the trick with a spell you can cast yourself; you may safely ignore this.
    • Elemental Travel (at will): that's cool and everything but…18th level…I mean, probably you have your own demiplane by then!
    • Capstone: you have none. Booooh!


    Roles analysis

    A sha'ir - a military counselor to his sultan - engages in a delicate conversation with a Djinn


    I'll consider the classic roles that Treantmonk defined in its guide to god-wizards.
    • Party face: high charisma, diplomacy and bluff as class skills, charm & dominate spellchains (you cannot specialize and therefore cannot ban enchantment), this will be easily a secondary out-of-combat role for you.
    • Skillmonkey: no int synergy; you could use spells (invisibility, summon monsters…) to support your skillmonkey, but it will be hard for you to occupy the position.
    • Healbot: a possible secondary role for mystic theurge builds with a cleric dip, I'd still leave this job to the dedicated divine casters.
    • Utility caster: with the sha'ir's shuffle, you have a high chance to have always the right spell at the right time.
    • BSF: you can summon one, but you're not actually particularly good at it; alternatively, you can even BE one if you go gish, and focus on things like polymorph and luminous armor. Not the strongest of the available roles mechanically, but you have so many unconventional options at hand, that you won't be bored for sure.
    • Glass cannon: you cannot ban evocation and will consequently drop the occasional blast, but you won't compare to, say, a sorcerer or a warmage. Alternatively, you can occupy the role by being a gish that focuses on things like swiftblade, pounce or whirling blade. All in all a slightly inferior, but still viable, option when compared to the immediately preceding one.
    • God: lot of spell slots, best spell list available, prepared casting…this is your job!
      • Battlefield control: you have less spells than a focused conjurer, but still, you're fully equipped.
      • Debuffing: you have all the tools of the trade, plus divine defiance to boot: you cannot back out of the role!
      • Buffing: also here you have all the implements at hand, but the role itself is slightly less interesting IMO in comparison with BFC and debuff.
      • Summoning: despite the flavour, this shouldn't be your main role: leave it to a conjurer, a shaman or a druid - they have better tools. You do qualify for thaumaturgist and malconvoker, though, and CHA-synergy helps with the planar binding line.


    Class mechanics

    Sha’ir mechanics are not very clear, and I have the feeling that they still generate quite some misunderstanding; in this section I’m trying to envisage one (but not the only one) reasonable, playable and balanced way to translate its blurry ruleset into a real game example. The way I’m assuming the class works is my personal interpretation/adaptation of the rules, as I don’t believe that in this case a univocally determined, RAW reading is practicable, or even at all possible.

    Spoiler: Wake up! It’s time to play!
    Show
    Sleeping at night is curiously very detrimental to a sha’ir, as its spell dissipate one after the other, until you’ll have none available – so if you’re surprised by an enemy’s attack at dawn, your threat level is approximately “Pee-Wee Hermann”.

    At very low levels there’s not much you can do against it besides being an elf, but then some options come online: you can just buy a ring of sustenance and repeat your retrieval routine while the other party members are sleeping, or you can prevent enemy intrusion through ropetrick. Even better, you could houserule that your gen may retrieve your spells (and keep your reservoir constantly full) at any time, also when you’re sleeping.


    Spoiler: Refreshing your spells reservoir
    Show
    The rules say that your spell slots are intended “per day”, but doesn’t specify when they are refreshed; I believe that “at dawn” or “at eight o’clock in the morning” are the easiest and most sensible way to solve this dilemma (please avoid “for each slot, 24 hours after the spell therein has been cast”).

    Since your gen, and not you, is physically preparing your spells, the 8-hours-rest rule shouldn’t apply, but ask your DM; in any case, mind the recent casting limit as it isn’t specific to the preparation mechanics, but simply refers to the moment the spell slots are reset.

    All in all your routine resembles quite closely the “preparing divine spells” mechanics (Player's Handbook), so you could refer to that paragraph to solve any controversy.


    Spoiler: Overwriting your spells slots
    Show
    From the WotC website: “when initially preparing spells for the day, a character can fill any spell slots used up the previous day (subject to the recent casting limit rule). The character also can replace any unused spells left over from the previous day. The character doesn't have the option to replace previously prepared spells if he chooses to wait and prepare some spells later in the day.”. This has to be adapted to a sha’ir; my recommendation:
    1. you can fill an empty slot of any level with whichever compatible spell you like,
    2. you can overwrite any unused spell slot (i.e. still storing a spell that was retrieved the previous day) once per day.



    Spoiler: Retrieval routine
    Show
    Let’s suppose your spell reservoir is completely empty; write down your daily spell list, and identify separately those that you cannot automatically retrieve (i.e. taking 10 isn’t enough). Roll diplomacy for these spells, and take note of the number of attempts you need to retrieve them. Calculate the retrieval time using averaged values for each of your spells (mind any multiple attempts). The gen starts planeshifting back and forth, continuously “imprinting” the spells into your mind until it has finished.

    Before level 5, I’d fill all slots, as their number is extremely limited, but afterwards I’d leave 1 slot/level open, possibly to be filled “on the fly” in the course of the day; this method has also the advantage to reduce somewhat the duration of your retrieval routine.

    Past level 11, you’ll need more than 1 hour to fill your allotment of spells; it’s therefore recommended that you then retrieve your known spells first, so as to become effective as fast as possible. You’ll take care of the unknown spells directly afterwards, or simply later on in the course of the day.


    Spoiler: The diplomacy check
    Show
    Some math; for the calculations I am assuming maxed out diplomacy, PrC out of the class after 5 levels, +4 charisma at level 1, +5 at level 5, and +6 at level 10; also, +2 synergy (bluff) at level 5 and +4 (sense motive) at level 10. Since planar travel isn’t dangerous for your gen when it’s out looking for spells, I assume you can safely take 10 instead of rolling for diplomacy.
    Your diplomacy bonus, for the purpose of finding a spell (DC 20), is modified by the following factors:
    • +1/sha’ir level,
    • +2 for a known arcane spell,
    • +0 for an unknown (but previously identified) arcane spell,
    • -6 for a divine spell (known or unknown doesn’t matter)
    • -2/spell level,
    • -1/metamagic level modifier,
    • -2/attempt after the first failed attempt.

    At level 1, you’ll try to retrieve known and unknown arcane spells by taking 10; your worst possible result is 10 +4 (ranks) +4 (cha) +1 (class level) -2 (unknown spell’s level) = 17; you still need a +3 boost to succeed, which you can easily reach with nymph’s kiss + one trait (e.g. polite).

    At level 5, you now have: 10 +8 (ranks) +5 (cha) +5 (class levels) –6 (unknown spell’s level) +2 (synergy) = 24, and you automatically succeed; if you still have those boosts, you can even retrieve your most powerful divine spell.

    At level 10: 10 +13 (ranks) +6 (cha) +5 (class levels) -10 (unknown spell’s level) +4 (synergy) = 28; your standard diplomacy check is now so high, that you can safely retrieve any spell (including the divine ones) without needing extra feats/traits. Having only 5 levels in the sha’ir class has also no ill effect. If you’re not interested in divine spells, you could even refrain from maxing diplomacy at all levels, if it becomes hard. So unlike a truenamer, the skill check won’t represent a problem or a limitation for you.


    Spoiler: The sha’ir’s Shuffle (TM)
    Show
    After a number of hours equal to your sha’ir’s level, starting from the very beginning of your routine, your spells will begin to vanish from your mind; your gen shall start all over again, thus bringing back them while they fade away. If you’ve left open slots, they can act as a “buffer” to allow for a certain overlap of a newly retrieved spell with the old copy while it dissipates.

    For this second retrieval session, you are not forced to retrieve the same spells again, but you can choose instead to fill your allotment with a completely different set of spells and metamagic modifiers: this is the big advantage of the class, as you can switch your selection, and thus your role, several times during your adventuring day.

    How many times per day you want to repeat this trick? Considering 8 hours of rest, 16 hours are left in a day to do whatever you may wish to do (including adventuring); in a standard day, you’d shuffle at least once, and – withouth knowing in advance what may happen – you’d do it exactly in the middle of the day, i.e. 8 hours after refreshing the spells. Under these circumstances the second set of retrieved spells will start dissipating exactly when starting to sleep, so you’d possibly prefer to keep them prepared one hour less, and shuffle again just before sleeping.

    That said, 7 sha’ir levels are probably the best, but 5 is also acceptable if you cannot wait for your first PrC. If you’re crazy enough and want to shuffle as much as possible, mind that 2-3 hours minimum are required for your retrieval routine at high level.


    Spoiler: Using your gen for fun and profit
    Show
    Your gen counts as a familiar, albeit sui generis, so you can imbue it with a spell ability; the only problem you’ll face, is that it will be up to 25% of the day away retrieving your spell, and you cannot count on him all the time.

    The familiar isn’t an elemental, but an outsider with a humanoid body; if you happened to take the apprentice feat and had some spare skill points to invest into UMD, he could even support you in combat as a wand wielder. This is somewhat useful, but I wouldn’t build a PC specifically around it.

    Being tiny and capable of flying (18 m, perfect), they could also make decent scouts, but they have no hide/move silently ranks, and only a small bonus when use spot and listen. Be careful, you don’t want your precious gen to die, when the disposable rogue is the party is much more suited for the task.

    According to the AD&D rules, which were sometimes more precise, your gen planeshifts back with a fetched spell precisely and flawlessly 3 m from you, and it transfers the spell automatically and instantaneously in your mind. That’s sweet. You need to tell the gen the spell’s name and nature in advance, but to avoid comical sketches (like having to interrupt an important audience with a powerful sultan more or less every minute to whisper your familiar “now, magic missile, fetch!”), you’ll do better with a spell list prepared in advance.

    Now, the little bastard is only able to planeshift between the material and the elemental planes, so if you’re somewhere else you’re in trouble. As this whole story with the gen planar travel is mainly fluff, I’d simply houserule that the gen “can plane shift at will to any of the Elemental Planes or from any elemental plane to your current location.”. And if it doesn’t work, then be a 10th level singer of concordance and, regardless on the plane where you are, touchbase to your demiplane (still located in the material plane) at will while your gen fetches your spells – it will be able to find you.

    As Anthrowhale pointed out, a villain could totally shut you down if he casts planar binding on your gen; this strategy has the same level of gygaxianism as, say, a DM targeting the spellbook of a wizard - hopefully it won't happen. To protect your gen from planar binding, the easiest option is to keep its name secret; this could eventually start a divination/abjuration war between you and the villain. Anyhow there is a trick with the arcane preparation feat that let you prepare spells also without the gen; see the "controversial aspects" section at the end of this guide.

    The available familiars are all very similar, but with some noticeable difference. First all all, each one is immune to damage coming from its element, and vulnerable to the opposite element (fire [fire] vs water [cold], air [electricity] vs earth [acid]), so air and earth gens are probably the safest. Fire has also the disadvantage that it tends to burn everything that it touches, and this aspect could be problematic. As air and water have the best statistics and improved movement modus, and considering the vulnerabilities, I’d nominate the air gen as the best of the bunch, but only by a small margin. Pick the one that you find more flavorful, really.
    One RP-note: free gens (i.e. not bound to a sha’ir) have their own alignment, but as soon as they have a master it switches to match his own. In AD&D they retained at least a portion of their natural personality, and tended to have their own agenda: under these premises, the DM may use the gen more as an NPC rather than a familiar, and RP some interaction between it and its master.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-07-06 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    3. Starter pack


    Attributes

    • Strength: dump stat, unless you're going Gish, in which case it's Blue.
    • Dexterity: this is a sort of a sponge, I believe; if something remains after you took care of your priorities, try to boost it as much as you can.
    • Constitution: a very important stat for survivability, due to HP and Fort saves.
    • Intelligence: the amount of int is fixed by the number of skill points you need, with 3 being the minimum (concentration, diplomacy and spellcraft), plus anything you need to qualify for PrCs.
    • Wisdom: dump stat, but don't dump it so much that your Will save sucks.
    • Charisma: your obvious priority, see the "Races" section if you don't believe me.

    Sample stat array, 32-point-buy, human: Str 8 Dex 14 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 8 Cha 18
    Simply invert Dex and Int if you need more skill points.


    Races

    A rashemi sha'ir casts alter self on his gen familiar

    Worthless mentioning, charisma is as good to you as any spellcasting stat to any primary caster. Being a generalist, prepared, SAD caster with a lot of slots, you'll definitely cast some spell allowing a save from time to time (by comparison, a focused conjurer or a mailman do it less often), and a race providing +2 charisma boosts the DC of all spells from each school – the equivalent of 8 feats, albeit not your best feats overall. Charisma gives you also extra spell slots, a bonus to social skills, and synergy with class features of several PrCs.

    LA 0 races:
    • [Lesser] AasimarMM/PGtF: as savage progression Aasimar but type is humanoid, gets some more small presents, +2 Wis and daylight as a spell-like ability (which qualifies you for Paragnostic apostle at level 2).
    • [Savage progression] AasimarSS/Web: charisma boost, no penalty, outsider, darkvision, plus small presents. The pick of the bunch in that infamous web enhancement. Cheesy.
    • ChangelingMM3: take it if you want to be a recaster or use emulate race, otherwise skip it.
    • [Strongheart] HalflingFRCS: the 3.x benchmark race for arcane spellcasters.
    • HumanPHB: the 3.x benchmark race, period.
    • IllumianRoD: if you're getting turn/rebuke attempts somehow, then exploit them to apply a metamagic feat 2/day for free. Alternatively, the race is a well-known basis for gishes ("practicer spellcaster"-like effect, and you get bonus spells out of your strength bonus instead of charisma).
    • RaptoranRotW: take it if you want to be a skypledged (a good idea), otherwise skip it.
    • Star elfUE: -2 con, +2 cha, deserves extra mention as it’s an elf and therefore goes in stand-by modus only 4 hours/night; low risk of being caught without spells due to too much sleep. You get a better benefit from a ring of sustenance, but this race let you save the ring slot.

    Human regional variants:
    • [Calimite] HumanPGtF: probably the most fitting regional variant for an arabic-like adventurer. As pointed out by Malphegor, calimshan regional feats let you study genie magic or even be the descendant of an efreeti (unfortunately, besides the fluff, these feats are mechanicaly underwhelming).
    • [Crane-clan] HumanOA/Dr318: same as a human, and diplomacy is always a class skill!? And I lose nothing of interest!? Sign me up! The reference setting is based on feudal Japan. Favored class: samurai only.
    • [Lakshmana] HumanWeb: the same as the crane-clan human, but the reference setting resembles the hindu, pre-islamic Southeast Asia.
    • [Rashemi] HumanPGtF: not a must, but Rashemi is required by some nice feats and PrCs. See also the "regional adaptation" section in the last chapter of this guide, for a view about a possible cultural “infiltration” of sha’ir’s magic into Rashemen.

    LA +1 races:
    • Half-giantEPH: in my opinion, not the worst race ever for a tribal sha'ir, flavorwise, especially if you combine it with the primordial template (see below). Mechanically? Useless, unless you apply the aforementioned template.
    • AasimarMM: I guess it could be blue with LA buyoff, but the comparison with the lesser version biases me so much that I can't judge lucidly.

    LA +2 races:
    • PetalMM3: the little, sweet, delicate nature spirit OF DOOM. LA +2 hurts a lot, but if LA buyoff is allowed…-8 str, +10 dex, +4 con, +4 int, +8 (!?) cha, TINY size, weapon finesse, flight and DR 5/cold iron are nothing to disdain. NOTE: listed as cohort.


    Templates

    LA +0 templates:
    • NecropolitanBoBL: first, it's notoriously a good template for spellcaster. Second, most races and templates (unseelie fey, primordial giant, star elf, spellscale, feytouched, hellbred) that boost charisma hurt your constitution score - with an undead, this becomes mostly irrelevant. Third, as pointed out by WhamBamSam, it makes Concentration Cha-based. Listed as LA +0 since experience-is-a-river gives you back your lost level eventually.
    • Primordial giantSoX: Str -4, Con -2, Int +4, Cha +4, a useful spell-like (e.g. invisibility) at will and a single knowledge as class skill (good to qualify for PrCs) seems a good deal, not only if LA buyoff is allowed, but especially if your DM is so naïve to believe that you can combine it with a LA 0 half-giant that keeps its basic traits only.
    • Unseelie feyDrC: you knew it was coming; an easy way to get +2 cha (but -2 con), but…wait! There's more! Damage reduction, wings, darkvision or blindsight (although you lack eyes), and cha-based racial abilities. Downsides? You have to be evil, and it is sometimes disputed if the race is really suitable for PC's.

    LA +1 templates:
    • Mulhorandi divine minionWeb: utterly cheesy, but useful to access several powerful PrCs (planar shepherd?). But again, utterly cheesy, so cheesy that it's one of the pillars of Pun-Pun.
    • Savage progression half-feyWeb: I guess you will prefer the (lesser/SS?) aasimar or the unseelie fey, instead.


    Bloodlines

    Major bloodlines:
    • Efreeti bloodlinesUA: Bloodlines my be easily abused by some classes, but it's unfortunately not our case. Anyhow, if you want to look like a genie and you're in the mood of losing 3 levels and getting sub-par benefits in exchange, then you're welcome. Suggested by Malphegor.


    Alignment

    Since you may chose the most diverse background for your PC (tribal oracle or wiseman, diplomat, wanderer, whatever), there’s no recommended alignment to chose; if you’re undecided, you may want your alignment to match that of your gen’s race. Alternatively, if you’re a min/maxer and want to use the “mechanical honor” (UA) rules, you’d better tend towards good in order to grab a +2 circumstance bonus on diplomacy checks at 1st level. "Good" is also required to qualify for nymph's kiss, one of the most attractive feats for a sha'ir. Finally, since you count as a prepared spellcaster, being good gives you, as a marginal benefit, access to the sanctified spell list.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-06-23 at 11:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    4. Skills & feats


    In-class skills

    • Bluff: I love the skill, and it gives diplomacy synergy, so take at least 5 ranks.
    • Concentration: you're a primary caster, max it out.
    • Craft: meh.
    • Decipher script: I've never seen anyone taking ranks in decipher script, but I have to admit that sometimes my party regretted it. Like, twice in 19 years.
    • Diplomacy: think that the other class that has a skill-based spellcasting is the truenamer, and enjoy.
    • Knowledge (arcana): if you can avoid taking ranks in the skill, well, don't take them, as party encyclopaedia isn't your role; do not forget, still, that arcana is commonly used whenever you try to figure out the meaning of all kinds of mysterious things that your master is putting on your way, and therefore may be useful. Also, it's required as a prerequisite for more or less everything.
    • Knowledge (the planes): the skill becomes more useful as you level up, and you probably want to PrC out ASAP, so forget about it. Unless you need it as a qualifier.
    • Listen: one of the most useful skill in the game, so you may think to invest here some spare points, but don't try to build your PC around it.
    • Sense motive: again, a useful skill that gives you also a very welcome synergy bonus; I'd give priority to bluff, but it's a matter of taste after all.
    • Spellcraft: useful for you as for other spellcasters, as you need it to learn spells.


    Cross-class skills


    This sha'ir has taken ranks in perform (dance) cross-class

    • Anything you need as a qualifier: there could be alternative ways to get extra class skills, such as feats or filler PrCs, so think twice before wasting your precious skill points.
    • Diplomacy: normally a class skill, but be careful as not every PrC offers it. In such cases, you could think to buy diplomacy ranks cross-class.
    • Intimidate: synergizes well with your charisma focus, and is a nice supplementary tool for a fear-based build. Could it be even worth spending a feat or dip human paragon to get it in-class.
    • Knowledge (nobility and regality): not recommended, regardless of the +2 synergy bonus. If you really want it, buy it in-class through some filler PrC.


    Skill tricks

    All skill tricks can be found in the Complete Scoundrel splatbook.
    • Social recovery: sorry, you can't use it to retry a retrieval check; normal uses are situational, and the -10 penalty kills it.
    • False theurgy: scared of counterspells? All your enemies leave always two islands untapped? At the mere cost of 2 skill points you have the solution at hand. Situational, and the most common method of counterspelling doesn't involve identifying your spell…
    • Collector of stories: you qualify, it doesn't cost too much and the benefit for your is marginal. A fair trade, I believe. More useful to a gish build using knowledge devotion, though.
    • Never outnumbered: accessible if you add somehow intimidate to your class skills, in which case I assume you may have chosen demoralize as a secondary tool - in that case, you want it. Otherwise, pass.
    • Swift concentration: interesting, if you can consistently find something to do with your actions besides casting a spell. If you like concentration-spells AND are in a PrC that gives you powerful non-spell (e.g. binding) abilities, well it becomes almost a must.


    Feats

    If a feat is notoriously good for a wizard, and is not listed here, it means that its value is unchanged for a sha’ir build. So, you won’t find improved initiative, but this doesn’t mean it’s no good for you.
    • Alacritous cogitationCMag: an interesting feat, especially because you don't qualify for uncanny forethought. Ask your DM if the feat applies also to the unknown spells that you can cast after you've identified them.
    • Arcane preparationCArc: useless since you already count as prepared caster, if this hypothesis is removed it may origin some nice tricks, as originally pointed out by Kalkra. This feat deserved an entire paragraph under the "controversial aspects" at the end of this guide.
    • Boost spell-like abilityBoVD: the reason it's listed, is that you may want to take levels in a PrC that offers DC-based class abilities (because of cha-synergy); this feat is the best way I know to boost those DC, for all of them. Doesn't require you to be evil.
    • Charming the arrowWeb: No idea how fascinating the archery route can be, but if it's the niche you want to fill, then you're going to take this feat.
    • Craft contingent spellCAdv: you cannot ban evocation, so this feat is a bit less interesting for you. Still good as it has no limitation (number/level of contingent spells). The main drawbacks are time and cost: minimum 8 consecutive hours to craft one, for a 6th level spell 1 week (8 hours a day) and 3300 gp. Consider this carefully.
    • Divine defianceFC2: you get very easily access to turn undeads, and, with native sivine spellcasting and high charisma, you are automatically optimized for the best counterspelling feat. You may try to include it in every build, if you want.
    • [Devotion feats]CC: they are good in some specific build, and may reserve additional advantages for a sha'ir. For example, since it seems you're destined to get turn undeads somehow, you'll end up using these feats more than once/day. In addition, your DM could let you sacrifice the access to one domain to get the corresponding devotion feat for free (I wouldn't allow it, but YMMV).
    • Divine metamagicCDiv: again, you need turn attemps. And a trick to memorize more than 2 divine spells/day in a reasonable amount of time - otherwise, forget about it and play an illumian if you want to persist your spells for free.
    • Dreadful wrathPGtF: ever noticed how ALL fear-based abilities are CHA-based and most of them are suitable for arcane casters? If you're interested in a fearsome spellcaster, sha'ir is simply a great option, and this feat will likely be your first pick.
    • Metamagic school focusCMag: it costs you more in terms of prerequisites as to a specialist wizard, but a primary caster is going to use metamagic sometimes, and this feat is one of the most reliable enhancers. I like to combine it with conjuration + sculpt spell.
    • Nymph's kissBoED: remember when I said that, at low level, you probably need to boost your diplomacy check in order to reliably retrieve spells? Disappointed by the low number of skill points you receive? Scared about having only ONE good save? Interested in a relationship with a nymph? Take this feat.
      Spoiler: RP-note
      Show
      Note: Nymph's kiss is [exalted], which may be problematic; fortunately, far from being so restrictive as, say, vow of poverty, this feat may give you suggestions to build an interesting background, some adventure hooks, and lot of room for RP (at least if you don't mind jumping into a relationship with a "wild and mercurial" chaotic good fey). Anyhow don't forget that you need to be good, and that you must have a unique positive trait to ever approach a nymph.
    • OtherworldlyPGtF/CoV: it's…ok, I guess, if you qualify with the Celestial-Attended birth background. I mean, you become an outsider, get darkvision, proficiency with all martial weapons AND a +2 to diplomacy. As a primary caster, nymph's kiss is better, as a gish...
    • Priest of the wasteSand: you may spontaneously cast divine spells from a limited list; the only interesting spell is heroes’ feast, which isn’t worth a feat.
    • Silver tongueOA/Dr318: find some alternative use for your beloved diplomacy checks, including starting a romance with an NPC, or emulating spells (confusion, inspire hope/despair) at will. I'd only wish that the wording for this feat were a bit clearer: how much time is required to inspire hope? A standard action as the spell, or 1 minute as a normal use of diplomacy? Do you bypass spell resistance? Not fantastic, mechanically, but unique and flavorful.
    • Southern magicianRoF: you may cast (not prepare/retrieve) arcane spells as if they were divine, and vice versa. No generic need for this feat, but I’m sure you may find some use to do some dirty stuff (like qualifying for the hexer prestige class).
    • (Planar) TouchstonePlH/Sand: there are so many beautiful options available, that you should always look up if there's something helpful for you; remember that you don't need to do the mini-quest to get the basic ability. Catalogue of enlightenment is the golden standard, but there's much more hidden somewhere, just waiting for you to find it.
      Spoiler: Examples
      Show
      First and foremost, the sandstorm feat gives you access to all (including planar) touchstone sites, and has less strict requirements, so take that and ignore the one from the planar handbook.
      Sandstorm
      The healing waters of Abu-Ima give you a 3rd level SLA (useful to qualify for the paragnostic apostle). The city of the deads grants a +1 insight bonus on all cha-checks and +1 CL vs SR to all your spells; if you do the mini-quest, you may use 4 times mass charm monster (EL 7, courtesy of Malphegor). Mostly for fluff, Malphegor recommends the Sunken city of Pazar - the mini-quest consists in winning a grappling check with a djinni! The prize? You get powerful build 8 hours/day.
      Planar handbook
      Worth mentioning, getting darkvision at the cost of a feat through the Blinding tower doesn't seem a bad deal (but that's something you may get through magic items). Oxyrhynchus gives you a free attack whenever someone is flat-footed, which is great for gishes, especially sneaky ones. Besides that, the Catalogue of enlightenment gives you full access to a domain if you succeed in the mini-quest (does it help qualifying for PrCs?). If you're happy with the base ability alone, Luck (1 lucky reroll/day), Pride (auto-reroll fumble on saves), Inquisition (+4 dispel checks) and Dragon below (augment summoning w/o pre'q) are probably your best choices.


    Metamagic feats
    I’m making no real list here, as everything that’s worth taking if you’re a wizard is also attractive to a Sha’ir. Since battlefield control should become your bread and butter, sculpt spellCArc is a tempting option; it requires another metamagic feat as a prerequisite, so what about extend spellPHB? Don’t forget energy substitutionCArc if you want to be a skypledged.
    I would avoid blasting- and necro/minionmancy-centered feats, and leave them to the more dedicated casters.


    Feats to get extra class skills
    • Able learnerRoD: you'll need it if the PrCs of yours don't offer diplomacy as a class skill, and you’re no crane clan human.
    • Academy graduateSTPG: a very obscure source for the obvious alternative to able learner; although more limited, it could be better in some circumstances. Also, I love background-dependant feats as they have often nice RP consequences.
    • ApprenticeDMG2: this feat gives you many benefits: you get two extra class skills until level 5, 2 bonus skill points once, and a secondary benefit depending on the apprenticeship’s type; at level 5 you may (at DM’s discretion) also get mentor as a bonus feat, which is good in its own right. If your mentor is also a sha’ir, you may “learn” new spells as he casts them for you, and you may cast 1/day spontaneously a divine spell you know. The feat has to be roleplayed, and as a pupil or mentor you have duties that cost you time, but it’s definitely worth it.
    • EducationECS/PGtF: easy and direct, all knowledge skills are class skills for you.
    • Knowledge devotionCC: adds a single knowledge skill; see if you can get it for free by giving up access to the domain's spells (subject to DM’s approval).
    • Martial studyToB: take white raven if you cannot be a human and you take a PrC without diplomacy; sadly the manoeuvres you may choose are mostly worthless to you.



    Traits

    All traits are from unearthed arcana.
    • Aggressive: when comparing dodge and improved initiative, I'm under the impression that the WotC assumes an 8:1 power ratio between +1 AC and +1 initiative; if so, they want to cheat you with this trait. For once, let them cheat you and take this!
    • Honest: a trait increasing your diplomacy checks is useful and flavorful at the same time, but polite is better (and being honest shouldn't be the first priority for a spell merchant who is trafficking with genies all the time!).
    • Polite: perfect – bonus to your most important skill, penalty to a cross-class skill, and reflects the courteous manners that many sha'irs display!


    Magical locations

    Magical locations are not rated.
    • Athenaeum of BoccobCC: sudden empower or sudden maximize, 2,000 gp value, minimum int 12 – seems viable. They count as metamagic feats, a common pre'q. You keep the feat for an unlimited amount of time, as long as you don't actually use it more than 6 times.
    • Heward's hallCSco: er, the variant that provides skill focus (craft) or an item creation feat could be useful, I guess, but minimum level 7th (and 10 ranks in crafting) makes it less attractive. Good luck with the DC 30 craft check. 5,000 gp.
    • Metamagic stormCMag: the prerequisites and the limitations are a bit of a hassle, but free feats are free feats, and metamagic is metamagic. 5,000 gp.
    • Necropolis of dreadDMG2: +1 DC for [fear] spells and abilities; cool, as fear could be thematic for the class. The bonus has to be refreshed yearly (3,000 gp). Minimum character level 5th.
    • Otyugh's holeCSco: costs 3 grands AND you have to spend a week living in the rubbish, but iron will is a prerequisite for many good PrC's. Minimum level 3rd.
    • The frog god's faneCSco: low-priced (2,000 gp) but somehow challenging (try to buff that intelligence check!). Skill focus (knowledge) serves you to qualify for loremaster, divine oracle, pale master.


    Affiliations

    Affiliations are not rated.
    • Blackwheel companyCSR: this affiliation offers a bazillion benefits especially to a gish: a couple of moderately expensive items for free (say...a +1 warning spiked gauntlets and a orange prism ioun stone), a bonus fighter feat, favored in house, leadership, a complete miracle blade III perfect series, espresso and croissant every morning. What are you waiting? Sign up today!
    • Paragnostic AssemblyCC: you need it if you want to become a paragnostic apostle. It may grant you an extra knowledge skill, but you need affiliation score 16, which could come online too late.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-06-30 at 06:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    5. Base & prestige classes


    A sha'ir reflects upon the options for her next prestige class

    Dips

    Mind you, crane clan human has samurai as favored class, so be careful when you dip.
    • No dip: as it turns out, a sha'ir is particularly intriguing because of its weird interactions with other classes, so dipping is a very likely possibility; anyhow, in terms of absolute power, keeping all your spellcasting levels is the best option.
    • BardPHB: don't forget about it, as it's vital to qualify for sublime chord, if you'll ever gonna need it. Which is the case if you’ve lost too many caster levels. Getting all those skill points it's a pain, though, so think twice before engaging in this quest.
    • BinderToM: not only the binder is in general a great dip, but a dual-progression build is tempting; binding-related classes have diplomacy as an in-class skill, which is a nice add-on.
    • (Cloistered) ClericPHB/UA: let's put it straight: here we're talking about a lot of skills, 3 domains/devotion feats, turn undeads and fast qualifiers for eldritch disciple, prestige paladin and the like. Huge. And mystic theurge is there to turn this single-level dip into 11 levels of cleric spellcasting. What's not to love?
    • CrusaderToB: you may want it as the basis of your ruby knight vindicator progression, but possibly it's better as a late dip. Better than the war blade if you search for heavy armor proficiency.
    • MarshalMHB: all you need is just one level, to get motivate charisma and a free feat; well worth it, if you don't want to be only a charismatic spellcaster, you want to be an IRRESISTIBLE, CHARMING, FATAL charismatic spellcaster. You could even go further and venture into a bard-like character (with silverbrow human and draconic aura) or - if you're crazy enough - a dual sha'ir / marshal progression (through mythic exemplar). Suggested by Buddy76.
      Spoiler: An observation by WhamBamSam
      Show
      Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
      Also, noteworthy on the topic of dipping Marshal is that if you take Skill Focus (Diplomacy) earlier (not the worst thing for a low-level Sha'ir to have), you get any feat you qualify for on your Marshal level, which can be handy for wrangling early entry into some PrCs.
      Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
      As stated earlier, I really like Ordained Champion for Sha'ir gishes, and putting Marshal 1 at level 4 allows you to get both Southern Magician and Weapon Focus in time to qualify.

      If you want to go Fleshwarper (assuming a Gen Familiar counts for the Summon Familiar requirement, which it seems to me it should), you can stick the Marshal dip at 7th level to not have to wait until 9th level to take Graft Flesh. You probably need some Apprentice feat or to be a Glimmerskin Halfling to make Heal a class skill though. Actually, you can do it at 6th by using Primary Contact shenanigans (see below).

      If something has its highest skill requirement in one particular skill, then being able to stick Primary Contact right where you want it can be helpful. In the Fleshwarper example, Glimmerskin Halfling Sha'ir 5/Marshal 1 with Favored and Skill Focus (Diplomacy) at 1st and 3rd can take both Primary Contact and Graft Flesh at 6th, and enter Fleshwarper from there.
    • PaladinPHB: if you believe you may gish up a sha’ir exactly as a sorcerer, you’re right.
    • RoguePHB: repeat after me: you're not the skill-monkey. No int synergy, sorry.
    • SpellthiefCAdv: with 1 level dip, you get SA, trapfinding (unless you're a trickster), a bunch of skill points AND steal spell. Needless to say, master spellthiefCAdv becomes mandatory, and mystic theurge an interesting option. More in the "Combo" section. Originally suggested by Kalkra.
    • WarlockCArc: if all you want is beguiling influence, then the marshal is a superior choice; a single level dip may qualify you for a dual progression, starting with the non-cleric entry into the eldritch theurgeCMag. Like a binder, the warlock offers cha-synergy and a lot of passive invocations, which make for an optimal dual progression. Sponsored by ChaosStar.
    • WarbladeToB: a single war blade dip is a decent addition to your standard gish progression; better than the crusader if you not only want white raven tactics, but also iron heart surge.


    Fillers

    What do we want from fillers? Prerequisites, a better chassis, full spellcasting and an early way out of the class, to exploit the sha'ir's shuffle.
    • FatespinnerCArc: ok, you cannot enter before level 7, but therequirements are easy to fulfill, and you have full spellcasting progression and solid class features for 4 levels out of 5; you might actually need the class e.g. if you're going to spam SoD/SoL/SoS, but in general it ain't orrible to squeeze some levels in any build.
    • GeomancerCDiv: first, you qualify by level 3 with the right tricks; second, it’s a big improvement to your chassis; third, it offers some uncommon class skills; fourth, you get a +4 unnamed bonus on diplomacy checks at level 3; fifth, you can brag about playing a geomancer with your friends.
    • Human paragonUA: one of my favorites; you get to choose any 10 class skills, 1 of them stays in-class for all your classes, 1 bonus feat, +2 charisma, some armor/weapon proficiencies, 2/3 spellcasting, medium BAB. You qualify at level 1. The loss of caster level hurts, but allows early exit from the class, and gives you a ton of benefits.
    • Paragnostic apostleCC: early entry at level 2 (lesser aasimar) or level 3 (touchstone); useful to keep you sha’ir levels low, otherwise just a good ol’ caster filler. Requires int 13.
    • RuatharRotW: very easy to qualify for, nice chassis, meh class abilities, and an ideal array of class skills (including diplomacy) make this class a perfect filler.
    • Sacred exorcistCDiv: standard high-level filler if you don’t know how to finish your build; juicy as you get turn undead, which opens more feats and PrC to you as to others. Probably worth looking if you can slip at least the first level into any build.
    • Visionary seekerPlH: similar to ruathar, but never take more than 1 level.


    “Standard” prestige classes

    As for the feats, if a notoriously good arcane PrC isn’t listed, it means that it’s as good for you as for a wizard.
    • ArchmageDMG: a bit obsolete but still valid; having more slots/day in comparison with a vanilla wizard make the class abilities look less expensive. If you’re a skypledged, spell power could be a quick way to boost you CL and get more from your spell pool.
    • Dread witchHoH/Nightmare spinnerCMag: fear-centered, strong class features, some of which are cha-synergic, both lose 1 CL. Dread makes for an interesting thematics, as diplomacy and fear are the two sides of the same coin. Nightmare spinner has diplomacy in-class and offers one bonus spell slots/level/day, so it’s interesting besides the fear focus.
    • HathranPGtF: WTF?! It adds some divine spells (also the planar ally line) to your arcane list, gives a leadership bonus, 3/day spontaneous divine spellcasting, good will AND fort save, and circle magic. Be careful, circle magic and leadership may be problematic, but the class remains powerful even if they were banned.
    • Mage of the arcane orderCArc: strong, although the pool access is less a must for you than for a focused specialist wizard. Anyhow, you may learn any spell you cast semi-spontaneously from the pool completely for free, which is a big advantage a wizard doesn't from.
    • Nar demonbinderUE: lose one CL, enter mystic theurge and gain a bunch of cha-based spell slots. Its spell list is also decent, but the theurge is lackluster since it doesn’t offer any class features besides the dual progression. Don’t forget that the imp cannot replace your gen.
    • Rainbow servantCDiv: worse for you than for other arcane classes, as cleric spells you get explicitly remain divine; add that your DM will rule that table trumps text in this case, and what you get is a useless PrC. Be a mystic theurge instead.
    • Sublime chordCArc: qualifying is a pain, but it’s cha-based and also the fastest way to get back 9th level spells after you've multiclassed too much into non-casting classes. You could even try to combine it with the fochlucan lyrist (yes you can!).
    • ThaumaturgistDMG: this PrC has the class features that the sha'ir itself NEEDED to have: you can even have a noble djinn as a cohort! Be careful at what you lose if you exploit your call janni SLA as a prerequisite, tho.
    • Zhentarim skymageLoD: requires 6 ranks in cross-class skills and three stupid feats (but you'll eventually find mounted combat useful, and you can get iron will from free), so it must be loaded with goodies to be listed here, right? Well, quite: 3/4 BAB, strong Fort-saves, 3 bonus feats, 10 spells learned for free, and a flying mount that cannot have more Hit Dice than your class level + 1 + your CHARISMA MODIFIER. Do you want to ride an adult white dragon? That's how you do it! See the "more build" section for some ideas to exploit the class. Suggested by WhamBamSam.


    The divine side

    Note: apparently, if a class gives you an extra domain, spells are not necessarily considered divine for you, i.e. you can choose to add them to your arcane spell list. That's obviously what you're gonna choose.
    • ContemplativeCDiv: the class abilities aren’t great but some of them are admittedly useful (slippery mind anyone?); the bonus domain has also many uses. Could be a good one- or two-levels dip, but 13 ranks in knowledge (religion) are quite an investiment, that you have actively to plan for.
    • Divine disciplePGtF: easy enough to qualify for, so you might as well consider it as a filler, but enough crunch through the five levels (telepathy, save bonus, domain, outsider type), that you could also consider a full immersion. Great chassis.
    • DreadmasterFaP: may seem fascinating at first, since it builds its power on the leadership feat (and consequently offers CHA-synergy) buuuuut...the class abilities that give you additional cohorts come online a bit too late, you must be evil, pay a feat tax…Ah, and leadership is often banned or nerfed. Not my first choice.
    • DurthanUE: a decent Prc that requires a crappy feat and is quite evil-oriented, but lets you in by level 3. At ECL 6 you get an incorporeal companion that sometimes means insta-win, but unfortunately doesn't scale well; the capstone is a DC boost for all your [cold] spells, which is especially nice if combined with energy substitution. See the related "combos" section below, to find ways to exploit the inconsistently worded place magic ability. Spoiler: it features the acorn of far travel!
    • DweomerkeeperWeb: not gold only because many masters hold it on their ban-list due to supernatural spell, but actually cloak of misteries and mantle of spells alone make it a first pick. Get access to magic domain through a touchstone, or the singer of concordance, and never loose a caster level.
    • Knight of the ravenEtCR: a sub-optimal way to get turn undeads, but an obvious pick for a gish, especially in an undead-intensive campaign. The ability to get sun devotion for free, great flavor, easy prerequisites and a certain cha-synergy are just icing on the cake.
    • Planar shepherdFoE: you could theoretically qualify, but that would require quite some resources, and an extensive amount of thinkering that you could almost call it cheating. Leave the class to druids and choose something else.
    • Seeker of the Misty IsleCDiv: mind the text vs table issue; in any case worse as the contemplative under some aspects, e.g. you don’t get to choose your domain, you must be elf, and you need survival (the suggested adaptation could seriously improve it). Great class skills/skill points, meh class features, you could qualify already at level 5.
    • Singer of concordanceRotD: frontloaded, so you could as well see it as a filler, but some class abilities later on (including your personal demiplane) may be worth considering. Besides a good chassis, immunity to compulsion (1st level) and a bonus domain (2nd level) are great.
    • SkypledgedRotW: it forces you to be a raptoran and to take energy substitution (the two reasons why it’s not gold), but this isn’t a high price to pay to access the divine spellpool. Congrats, now you can cast cleric AND druid spells on the fly. The flavor is also perfect. Mind that the number of divine spell levels per day depend on your caster level, so try to increase it.
    • Sovereign speakerFoE: searching for domains? This would work, but there are better options. For example, if you have to lose a caster level, I’d at least consider a cleric dip and mystic theurge entry at level 5, so evaluate carefully your chances.
    • Ur-priestCDiv: if you have some build involving an ur-priest in mind, enter as a wizard (or whatever) instead. The sha’ir loses its divine spellcasting ability as soon as it enter the PrC.


    Dual progression classes (WIP)

    As a sha’ir you do have indeed advantages when trying a dual progression, but this doesn’t mean that you should rush into one. First, you qualify for mystic theurge at level 4 with a single level dip, and your mate class can be either divine or arcane. Second, when jamming with separate spellcasting systems you’ll typically find one arcane- and one divine-based theurge-type class, so you can mix both and effectively dual until level 20. The ratings are more generous, because I assume you do want a dual progression for your PC; otherwise, drop 1 level (gold --> blue etc.).
    • Anima mageToM: a good PrC if you accept the loss of caster level, the obvious advantages are cha-synergy and the option to enter tenebrous apostate to finish off your build. And you build upon an anima mage and a binder dip - two very good options on their own rights.
    • Arcane hierophantRotW: I'm not only complaining about the trackless step requirement preventing an early entry - you could circumvent it by being a bamboo spirit folk. Naaa, the real problem is that being an arcane hierophant forces you to dismiss your familiar for a better animal companion, and, no, you cannot send your fleshraker to retrieve your spells, sorry.
    • Fochlucan lyristCAdv: the class is super-easy to qualify for, and therefore you might think it's a no-brainer, but unfortunately - besides full BAB, dual-class progression, 6 skill points/level, bardic knowledge and bardic music - it has no class features of notice. Useful only as a filler.
    • Jade phoenix mageToB: kinda so-so class, without any particular synergy with the sha'ir and probably inferior to the ruby knight vindicator; on the other side, it's faster to qualify for and provides for a steadier gish-y progression.
    • Mystic theurgeDMG: give a sense to that cloistered cleric or spellthief dip you've taken. Sure, the theurge hasn't any class features besides dual-progessing your spellcasting, but it's not that the sha'ir is the treasure island of overpowered abilities either. The main reason it doesn't get a higher rating, is that you cannot combine it with arcane hierophant or ultimate magus for what would be a really astonishing 20-level-long progression.
    • Ruby knight vindicatorToB: it’s hard to qualify for before level 10, so in your earlier carier you won't be a gish but just a spellcaster with a dip; on the other end a late entry qualifies for higher-level maneuvres. While a single-level warblade or crusader dip is probably easier if you only want to cherry-pick a couple of maneuvres, a full RKV build may let you hit the benchmark (16 BAB + 17/20 spells) and combine divine impetus and arcane spellsurge, which is just insane!
    • Tenebrous apostateToM: finish off your dual spellcasting/binding build; strong, especially because you are surely combining it with anima mage, but also because you actually do want to bind Tenebrous for the turn undead synergy: search for the "Ertai" build below, and find out why! If you are into homebrew, the apostle of the green lady is better.
    • Ultimate magusCMag: guess why it’s red? You’re right, because a sha’ir doesn’t qualify. It’s a shame, as it would be an interesting class.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-07-07 at 11:49 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    6. Builds, combos, and more builds!


    Builds

    So, one of the questions I've started with was, why to play a sha'ir? So it seems I've arrived to the portion of the handbook that tries to answer by posing another question: HOW do you play a sha'ir? In my opinion, there are roughly three alternative paths that you can go through.

    The first idea - and the most straightforward one, actually - consists in searching for a full-casting progression. The second option is to see what a gish may offer you. And finally, you can select a sub-system (prepared spells, psionics, MOI, invocations, even martial maneuvres) and start your dual progression.

    The sha'ir'cadin roams free in the desert in the company of his inseparable raven


    In this first "Builds" section, I've tried to collect playable examples (no theoretical optimization exercise) of what the class if capable of.


    Spellcasting-centered builds

    (Ab)use of the divine and arcane spellpools, access to any cleric and druid spell:
    Spoiler: The improvised arcane/divine blender
    Show
    Raptoran Sha'ir 5 / Mage of the arcane order 2 / Skypledged 7 / MotAO +5 / Archmage 1

    Required feats: Extend spell (1st), cooperative spell (3rd), martial study (6th), energy substitution (bonus, 8th), alacritous cogitation (9th), spell focus conjuration (12th), spell focus transmutation (15th), skill focus spellcraft (18th)
    Required skills: Knowledge (arcana) min 15 ranks, Spellcraft min 15 ranks, diplomacy and concentration maxed
    Required stats: Intelligence 14 (because of skill requirements)
    Recommended spells: shadow conjuration (to emulate create magical tattoo).
    Recommended items: orange prism ioun stone, ring of arcane might.


    Description: the idea behind this character is to gain, through the 2 spellpools, improptu access to wizard, cleric and druid spells; since your caster level influences the number of spells you can get through the two pools, you should try to buff it to the stratosphere - the methods I'm suggesting here are the ioun stone, the ring, a magical tatto and the spell power archmage's ability, but there are a lot of other tricks available. I also added alacritous cogitation, which is thematic, and if you can squeeze in somehow (flaws?) an additional feat, take apprentice at first level for more spontaneous casting.
    Variant: replace the MotAO and the archmage with war weaver and incantatrix levels: you can now multiply your limited spellpool slots by casting them into the eldritch tapestry and in principle chain them with the whole party; the incantatrix's mileage may vary, but at least a bonus feat is a bonus feat.


    A mix of dweomerkeeper and incantatrix without CL loss:
    Spoiler: The magical magicist of utterly magical wizardry
    Show
    Silverbrow human Sha'ir 5 / Singer of concordance 2 / Dweomerkeeper 10 / Incantatrix 3

    Required feats: apprentice (1st), scribe scrolls (1st), any metamagic feat (3rd)
    Required skills: concentration 4 ranks, knowledge (arcana) 8 ranks, knowledge (religion) 8 ranks, spellcraft 8 ranks

    Description: this build tries to collect spontaneous casting, metamagic prowess and flavor by mixing - with no loss of CL - two of the most powerful spellcasting classes of the 3.5 edition. You have a total of 6 spells you may cast spontaneously (thanx to apprentice and mantle of spells), improved metamagic (thanx to cloak of mysteries and, to a lesser extent, to metamagic effect). The magic domain from the singer of concordance, the dweomerkeeper and the incantatrix fit the “ultimate warden of all things magical” archetype better than anything else. Just remember that irritating your DM through the obvious exploits enabled by the two infamous prestige classes is a BAD thing, but besides that the build is very nice, playable, powerful, and flavorful.
    Variant: levels of dweomerkeeper and incantatrix can be inverted if you want more bonus feats.

    Spoiler: Further information
    Show
    Note 1: “supernatural spells” and “metamagic effect” need special attention when using the build in a real game. For the latter I see no big problem, since probably it affects only AOE spells (like emanations and spreads). For the former, you must either enter a gentlemen's agreement with your DM, or nerf it somehow.
    Note 2: if you find a place for a level of sacred exorcist or a cleric dip, you may also play the counterspell game through divine defiance, and you don't even need to retrieve (greater) dispel magic, since you cast it spontaneously.


    Expand the arcane spell list with access to several cleric domains, and also get many interesting unique abilities:
    Spoiler: Pæpfrønc, the domains’ dominator
    Show
    Female rashemi human Sha'ir 3 / Geomancer 3 / Seeker of the misty isle 1 / Hathran 3 / Contemplative 2 / Hathran +3 / Divine oracle 2 / Hathran +3

    Required feats: apprentice (1st), ethran (1st), skill focus knowledge (the frog god's fane, 3rd), leadership (6th)
    Required skills: knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, knowledge (religion) 13 ranks, knowledge (nature) 6 ranks, survival 8 ranks

    Description: 3 bonus domains, 4/day spontaneous casting, 2 cohorts and circle magic, plus evasion and slippery mind. Diplomacy is a class skill for 18/20 levels, and you get enough skill points to qualify for everything just by having 12 int. I love and recommend the hathran, but I also recommend to discuss with your master what to do with/how to limit the cohorts and circle magic. Also, you shall play outside out of Rashemen, otherwise place magic becomes too good.


    Coming soon: fear-based build.


    Gishes

    A counterspelling gish with more spellpower and better BAB than the original sorcadin:
    Spoiler: The sha'ir'cadin
    Show
    Crane clan human Human paragon 1 / Sha'ir 2 / Human paragon +2 / Visionary seeker 1 / Knight of the raven 1 / Abjurant champion 3 / Knight of the raven +2 / Abjurant champion +1 / Knight of the raven +7

    Recommended feats: nymph's kiss (1st), combat casting (1st), practiced spellcaster (3rd), knowledge devotion (bonus, 4th), touchstone (6th), arcane mastery (9th), divine defiance (12th), sun devotion (bonus, 12th), enduring life (bonus, 14th), law devotion (15th), minor shapechange (18th), lasting life (bonus, 18th)
    Required magic items: eternal wand of heroics (to grab power attack, unless you get it for free e.g. through an affiliation), runestaff (dispel magic and its greater version), wand of wraithstrike.
    Recommended skills: bluff 5, concentration 23, diplomacy 23, knowledge (arcana) 12, knowledge (dungeon, local, nature, planes) 1, knowledge (religion) 9, sense motive 5, spellcraft 23
    Recommended skill tricks: collector of stories
    Recommended stats: charisma 18, strength 16 (increased to 18 through human paragon's 3rd level ability), constitution 14

    Description: inspired by the sorcadin, this build offers 18/20 spellcasting and BAB (fractional), very balanced saves (so you won't miss divine grace), a better spellcasting progression than a sorcerer, all the advantages of an abjurant champion, and the sha'ir's shuffle every 2 hours. The sha'ir is probably the only class that natively gives access to the arcane mastery/divine defiance combo, with the inquisition domain power to boot, for an unparalled counterspelling ability. I personally like the flavor of the KotR, so for me it's again a plus. If I had to play a gish, I'd at least give this build a try.


    Sacrifice BAB, get persistomancy in exchange:
    Spoiler: The sha'ir'xorcist
    Show
    Illumian Human paragon 1 / Sha'ir 2 / Human paragon +1 / Geomancer 2 / Human paragon +1 / Geomancer +1 / Abjurant champion 3 / Sacred exorcist 1 / Crusader 1 / Abjurant champion +2 / Spellsword 1 / Geomancer +1 / Sacred exorcist +3

    Recommended feats: combat casting (1st), practiced spellcaster (3rd), knowledge devotion (bonus, 4th), extend spell (6th), touchstone (9th), divine defiance (12th), persist spell (metamagic storm, 12th), arcane mastery (15th), arcane strike (18th)
    Required magic items: eternal wand of heroics (again, to grab power attack, but join the Blackwheel company instead), runestaff (dispel magic and its greater version), wand of wraithstrike.
    Recommended skills: concentration 20, diplomacy 19, knowledge (arcana) 6, knowledge (dungeon, local) 1, knowledge (the planes) 10, knowledge (religion) 7, spellcraft 19
    Recommended skill tricks: collector of stories
    Recommended stats: charisma 18, strength 16 (increased to 18 through human paragon's 3rd level ability), constitution 14, intelligence 12

    Description: this alternative to the sha'ir'cadin requires no fractional BAB, but reaches still the benchmark - 16 BAB, 18/20 spellcasting - and without the sorcerer's slowed progression. The real boon here is persistomancy AND counterspelling at level 12, followed by white raven tactics the next level: at that point, you're the king of the battlefield, and no one's gonna stop you.
    Variant: If you're really in the mood, replace crusader 1 with battle dancer, and add your CHA bonus to your AC. Caution: playing battle dancer and geomancer in the same build will most likely bring the in-game multiverse to collapse, you have been warned.

    Spoiler: Further information
    Show
    Note 1: The summary of the build says sha'ir 2 / human paragon 3 / Geomancer 4 / Sacred Exorcist 4 / Abjurant champion 5 / Crusader 1 / Spellsword 1 - but I had to take the class levels in that weird order to fulfill the skills' requirements of geomancer and sacred exorcist.
    Note 2: If you're playing with fractional BAB, replace spellsword with ruathar or visionary seeker, and crusader with warblade, so that you pair white raven tactics with iron heart surge.
    Note 3: 'Case you wonder about the effectiveness of that weird class progression, just consider that, at level 10, you have BAB 7 (like a cleric) and 9/10 spellcasting, which puts you one entire spell level on top of the original sorcadin.


    Persisted arcane spellsurge + divine impetus:
    Spoiler: The sha'ir'sader
    Show
    Illumian Crusader 1 / Sha'ir 4 / Geomancer 4 / Spellsword 1 / Sacred exorcist 1 / Ruby knight vindicator 9

    Recommended feats: academy graduate (1st), practiced spellcaster (3rd), extend spell (6th), power attack (9th), persist spell (metamagic storm, 11th), extra granted maneuver (12th), extra turning (15th), extra turning (18th)
    Recommended magic items: wand of wraithstrike.
    Recommended skills: concentration 23, diplomacy 23, hide 4, intimidate 19, knowledge (arcana) 6, knowledge (nature) 6, knowledge (the planes) 10, knowledge (religion) 7, spellcraft 23
    Recommended stats: charisma 16, strength, constitution and intelligence 14, dexterity 10, wisdom 8

    Description: you hit the benchmark, you have martial maneuvers, you can persist two arcane spells for free, one of these spells will be arcane spellsurge, and you have bazillions swift actions per round thanx to divine impetus. I don't know, do you really want more?


    Übercharger w/ natural/unarmed attacks:
    Spoiler: The sha'ir'mancer
    Show
    Crane clan human Human paragon 1 / Sha'ir 1 / Human paragon +2 / Geomancer 8 / Sha'ir +1 / Abjurant champion 5 / Dragonslayer 1 / Spellsword 1

    Recommended feats: Power attack (1st), improved unarmed strike (1st), combat casting (3rd), knowledge devotion (bonus, 3rd), superior unarmed strike (6th), leap attack (9th), multiattack (12th), arcane strike (15th), dodge (18th).
    Recommended magic items: wand of wraithstrike, gauntlets of heartfelt blows, boots of striding and springing, eternal wand of heroics.
    Recommended spells: girallon's blessing, greater mighty wallop.
    Recommended skills: concentration 21, diplomacy 23, jump 12, knowledge (arcana) 6, knowledge (nature) 6, knowledge (dungeon, local, religion, the planes) 1 each, spellcraft 21.
    Recommended skill trick: collector of stories.
    Recommended stats: charisma 16 (increased to 18 through human paragon's 3rd level ability), strength 16, constitution 14, intelligence 12, dexterity 10, wisdom 8.

    Description: besides the fact that you have 19/20 spellcasting and 4 iteratives/round, you gain pounce plus gore, bite and sting attacks through the geomancer, and four claw attacks through girallon's blessing, for a grand total of 11 attacks - not bad for someone who's basically a full caster. You make good use of leap attack, and replace the feat-intensive shocktrooper combo with the more elegant wraithstrike. If I didn't suddenly become bad at math, it's ca. 300-310 dam/round already around level 12, which is a nice complement to your spells.

    Spoiler: Further information
    Show
    Note 1: Please consider that the gauntlets of heartfelt blows add the bonus damage to ALL your melee attacks, that means ~100 dam/round for 12,000 gp only - that's a steal!
    Note 2: In a similar fashion, it seems that the hit/dam bonus coming from arcane strike applies to all your natural attacks, it starts to pay really off, to have all those iteratives and natural weapons...
    Note 3: You need alertness to qualify for the dragon slayer, you get it courtesy of your gen familiar. In addition, power lunge is a nice feat to get even more mileage from your charge attacks, it's also a fighter-bonus-feat according to the errata, so it's an obvious scope for your wand of heroics - or for your free fighter feat if you're affiliated with the blackwheel company.




    Dual-progression builds

    Dual progression soulbinding/spellcasting, free metamagic plus effective counterspelling power:
    Spoiler: Ertai, the corrupted (formerly: Ertai, sha'ir adept)
    Show
    Human Binder 1 / Sha'ir 3 / Anima mage 4 / Incantatrix 1 / Anima mage +6 / Tenebrous apostate 5

    Required feats: nymph's kiss (1st, see spoiler), improved binding (1st), extend spell (3rd), iron will (otyugh hole, 3rd), touchstone (6th), divine defiance (9th), persistent spell (bonus, 9th), arcane mastery (12th), practiced spellcaster (15th)
    Required skills: concentration 4 ranks, intimidate 4 ranks, knowledge (arcana) 8 ranks, knowledge (religion) 5 ranks, spellcraft 4 ranks
    Required magic items: runestaff (dispel magic and its greater version)
    Recommended stats: charisma 18, int 12 or 14 (see spoiler)

    Description: direct, simple, powerful. 18/20 arcane spellcasting, 8th level vestiges, one free counterspell every 5 rounds, and metamagic for free! The turn attemps given by Tenebrous qualify for the apostate (but see spoiler). This build is probably the neatest trick you can pull with the sha'ir.
    Variant: you need the wizard's suggested adaptations of the soulbinding classes to select a good alignment and qualify for nymph's kiss; if they're not available, forget about it, replace it with dreadful wrath and go for 14 int.

    Spoiler: Further information
    Show
    Note 1: Your standard counterspell check is 10 +20 (CL) +4 (inquisition domain) = 34, enough to counter most spellcasters. The 3rd level divination "spellcaster's bane" from CMag is highly recommended.
    Note 2: Please mind the following Custserve answers. They do not make necessarily too much sense, are often ignored and I don't recommend to follow them either - divine defiance becomes too strong, and Tenebrous' turn undead senselessly doesn't count as class feature although you cannot unbind Tenebrous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Custserve
    Vestige granted feats and abilities weren’t intended to qualify one for prestige classes or other feats
    Quote Originally Posted by Custserve
    Thank you for writing. The spell is automatically dispelled by this feat when used. Logically a prepared Greater Dispel Magic would qualify you for using this feat, but in the end any other dispels would have to be cleared by your DM.
    (Question: Does this divine feat require you to roll a counter spell check in order for it to work? Or it is automatically counterspell when the feat is activated? Also does this feat work in conjunction with Greater Dispel Magic? and other Dispel Magic spells such as Slash Dispel and so on?)



    Twice 9th level arcane spells, 16/20 BAB, bardic music and free metamagic:
    Spoiler: Fochlucan madness
    Show
    Crane clan human Human paragon 1 / Sha'ir 1 / Human paragon +2 / Geomancer 4 / Warrior skald 1 / Sha'ir +1 / Sublime chord 1 / Fochlucan lyrist 9

    Required feats: nymph's kiss (1st), power attack (1st), shape soulmeld ([impulse boots], 3rd), open lesser chakra ([feet], 6th), quicken spell (9th), sudden maximize (athenaeum of Boccob, 11th), chain spell (metamagic storm, 11th), metamagic song (12th), extra music (15th), practiced spellcaster (18th)
    Required skills: a whole bunch, but after you've fulfilled all the entry requirements you still have enough skill points to maxx concentration, diplomacy, knowledge (arcana), perform (poetry), spellcraft and UMD.
    Required magic items: a wand of wraithstrike
    Recommended stats: str 14, dex 10, con 14, int 14, wis 8, cha 16 (increased to 18 through human paragon's ability boost)
    Recommended traits: honest, polite

    Description: this build is basically to demonstrate how easier is, in some cases, to create with the sha'ir unorthodox builds that still are rules-legal (actually more rule legal than most fochlucan builds). If you want to enter melee, wraithstrike or a quickened polymorph are your tools to end a fight in a fast and efficient manner; if you want to debuff, chained ray of dizziness or whatever. And you have bard spells for your social encounters - and more!
    Variant: you may change the metamagic feats, e.g. you could think to persist wraithstrike without occupying your 8th level slots (not that you really need to be stingy). You may also imagine different entry strategies, e.g. harmonious knight instead of warrior skald if your DM thinks its inspire courage counts as bardic music.


    Coming soon: "eldritch" build.


    Combos

    This section is reserved to combos and other weirdness, that aren't likely to fly at most tables, but are so unique in what they do, that they deserved mention. If the trick was originally posted by other users, I added my personal comments in green.

    Spoiler: Double familiar fun! by Kalkra
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Also, Extra Familiar halves the amount of time required for filling all your slots.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    If you have it, you can use it get Arcane Hierophant without houseruling it, because you'll still have one gen to get you spells.
    Extra familiar is from Dr280, which is 3rd party and 3.0, but it's also the only straightforward (and perfectly legal) way to get around the sha'ir's restrictive rules on familiars.


    Spoiler: Double precocious apprentice fun! by PoeticallyPsyco
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticallyPsyco View Post
    I think it's worth noting that the Precocious Apprentice feat is twice as good at qualifying you for things than it is for most classes. Assuming you pick a spell that you can cast both arcane-ly and divinely, you only need one level of Sha'ir to qualify for Mystic Theurge (you still need at least two other levels of something to meet the skill requirements).


    Spoiler: The touch of evil, by Kalkra
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    If you can get yourself tainted, Mad Faith can be stupid good, and Eldritch Corruption is also nice, particularly if you're doing a binder build. And corrupt arcana gives you access to a spellbook.
    Besides dealing constitution damage to your familiar to get metamagic for free, the trick here is corrupt arcana, that definitely let you prepare spells from a spellbook, as long as you can spontaneously cast spells. Which you can, if you for example take the apprentice feat. This is the only way I know to enter ultimate magus, but it's so convoluted and RAI-unfriendly, that I would still consider this PrC as an unrealist option. Ah, I was forgetting. Since you're tainted, you even get the feats for free – although, again, abusing taint is something which is talked about a lot, but nothing I've ever seen in a real game…


    Spoiler: A Rashemi is never really far away from home, by TalonOfAnathrax
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    You seem to have missed the Durthan's main advantage. IMO, it's an absolutely amazing class for a Sha'ir because it gives you access to every single arcane spell, from level 3.
    A Sha'ir can prepare any spell they know, or any spell that they have seen. This means that at low levels, a Sha'ir that doesn't get to observe any spells being cast is basically just an inferior wizard.
    And by being a Durthan, a Sha'ir can cast all those spells herself! Just grab some downtime as soon as possible (or an Acorn of Far Travel, whatever) and start casting those niche utility spells in front of a mirror. You have now seen them cast, and can therefore access them at need.
    My experience playing a Sha'ir showed that while getting common spells was easy simply by observing enemy spellcasters or the party Bard, getting most spells required finding someone selling them - and my GMs often made this rather difficult for campaign setting reasons. Taking a level of Durthan fixes all this, and suddenly makes the Acorn of Far Travel incredibly awesome.

    Durthan should be in a better color just for this interaction, IMO. Actually using Place Magic (Acorn of Far Travel says hello!) while adventuring is just gravy. I would rate the Durthan PrC Gold, or maybe Blue (it does have annoying feat requirements to enter, after all).
    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    As for Place Magic: note that it is clarified on page 47 of Unapproachable East. It reads "Hathrans and durthans possess a special bond to the land of Rashemen that lets them draw upon the power of the spirits to cast spells without preparing them. When a hathran or durthan uses place magic, she can cast any arcane or divine spell known to her. (Spells on her hathran or durthan spell list can be cast as either arcane or divine spells, as she desires.) In effect, she can use any spell on any of her spell lists when she wishes, as long as she is within the borders of Rashemen. A place magic spell uses an unassigned spell slot of the appropriate type (arcane or divine) and level. If the caster does not have an open spell slot, she may spontaneously lose a pre-pared spell of the appropriate type and level to cast her place magic spell. Using place magic takes longer than casting a spell normally; any spell that takes 1 standard action to cast requires 1 full round to cast with place magic. Spells with casting times longer than 1 standard action simply add 1 round to the casting time."
    It explicitly says "she can use any spell on her spell list", thereby allowing her to add them to her "spells she is aware of" list to be able to prepare them normally. The "Place Magic" text in the class description is indeed unclear.
    Please note that the above applies now only to Durthans, as the Hathran was updated in 3.5 with a class ability that has a different name (Rashemi spirit magic). Anyhow, place magic is described in different entries in UE, and the rules specify everywhere that the PC may only cast spontaneously spells he knows – everywhere but the entry that TalonOfAnathrax cited above, which instead would allow spontaneous casting of any spell on his list. The broken potential of this feature is obvious. If the acorn of far travel is banned, you still have this ability while you are in Rashemen.


    Spoiler: Alternative source spell, by Kaleph
    Show
    Alternative source spell is a feat published in Dr325, that allows you to prepare arcane spells as divine spells and vice versa.
    Now, if "retrieval/preparation transparency" is on, it takes you 60 times less time to prepare divine spells; that Rainbow servant PrC seems now a very attractive option (thank you redking for pointing it out). In addition, you may apply arcane- or divine-only feats and effects to all your spells (this works especially good if you prepare spells through the arcane preparation feat, instead). Some example? You are now the only class that can realistically create runestones with arcane spells, you can ignore ASF, and apply divine metamagic on wizard spells. Oh, and sha'ir's the only class that may get the feat directly at level 1, and without losing any single caster level.


    Spoiler: The lone planeshifter, by Falontani
    Show
    As suggested by Falontani in her "Silver Sniper" build: "also of note, if we have a bag of holding or portable hole we may climb inside and have our Gen planeshift us around as we need.".
    Actually the spell-like of the gen corresponds to greater plane shift, a 7th level cleric/8th level wizard spell. Not bad.


    Spoiler: Should I copy that spell, or steal it? by Kaleph
    Show
    As pointed out by several commenters, sha'ir and spellthief fit thematically - you do not only learn spells from enemy spellcasters, you can actually STEAL them. Mystic theurge is an obvious progression for the two classes, with a useful charisma synergy. It is well known that a very optimistic reading of the master spellthief feat allows to count twice the caster levels of a dual progression class, and in the past it was pointed out as a potential benefit of a sorcerer/spellthief/ultimate magus bild. With the sha'ir it gets only better, as mystic theurge doesn't lose any CL. Now, a simple progression would be sha'ir 9/spellthief 1/mystic theurge 10, which would ensure a CL of 30. How do you exploit it? There are several ways.

    First, include Mage of the Arcane Order's levels into the build, buff your CL into the stratosphere and enjoy more and more poolcasting.
    Second, dictum (from one of your domains) is in your spell list and you can cast it as an arcane spell through southern magician: it's like insta-kill against anyone who isn't lawful or otherwise immune, right? No save, just die, pretty straightforward.
    Even better, get "holy word" from an extra domain, and learn it as an arcane spells, and you bypass the trouble of spending 8-13 hours to retrieve it.


    Spoiler: Arcane spellimpetus, by Kaleph
    Show
    Guess who's the only class that gets to cast arcane spellsurge AND qualifies for the divine impetus ability of the ruby knight vindicator?

    And guess who's gonna get a huge load of turn undead attempts, since it's a CHA-based SAD caster?

    And now: guess who's gonna cast 10 spells on this turn?

    Right.



    More builds!

    This section is reserved to builds posted by other users, that have a higher optimization level as mine. My personal comments are marked in green.


    "Cast magic at anyone from anywhere":
    Spoiler: The Silver Sniper, by Falontani
    Show

    The Lawful Good Human Sha’ir 4/Geomancer 3/Knight of the Raven 7/Silver Pyromancer 2/Spellwarp Sniper 4

    "I do know I’m not good at highlighting the power of The Silver Sniper, but the basic concept is that we can cast magic at anyone from anywhere as long as our raven is near. (At Level 20) Everything has come together. We may now choose to make the point of origin of any of our spells be our raven companion. With this the shenanigans culminate. As long as we have the ability to see our raven and our target we have line of effect. This means if we have a way to see our raven and our target from the Elemental Plane of Fire, we can cast spells at the target. We have taken Scry’n’Die tactics to the extreme. We are very capable of traveling the planes with our magic, we can teleport to battles we don’t even know about through the use of Door to Great Evil. We can sneak attack a target from across the planes by having our raven be within 30 ft of the target. We will be seeking out the planar effects that help us the most, whether it is free healing on the positive energy plane, enhanced fire spells on the elemental plane of fire, and many more."

    Read the entire build here: Junkyard Wars XXIII
    Apparently the build has some minor "legality" issue, but nothing that cannot be easily fixed. If you're really interested in an even higher optimization level, slip somewhere a level of Durthan and exploit the benefits of an acorn of far travel while unleashing your fury from the elemental plane of fire.


    Shield-thrower, flying-mounted unconventional build with high damage output:
    Spoiler: Death from above, by WhamBamSam
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    Here you go. Let me know if there's anything you'd like explained further. I'll also note that if you can be LG and a member of the Zhentarim (or if your DM lets you apply the Paladin variants to Prestige Paladin), then you can replace the Ruathar levels with Prestige Paladin 1/Spellsword 1/Sha'ir +1.

    Human Sha'ir 3/Cleric 1/Ordained Champion 3/Zhentarim Skymage 5/Ruathar 3/Abjurant Champion 5
    1. Sha'ir 1 - Combat Casting, Power Attack
    2. Sha'ir 2
    3. Cleric 1 (Death, War) - Improved Shield Bash, Weapon Focus, Death Devotion, Iron Will
    4. Sha'ir 3
    5. Ordained Champion 1 (Wrath) - Mounted Combat
    6. Ordained Champion 2 - Power Lunge, Diehard
    7. Ordained Champion 3
    8. Skymage 1
    9. Skymage 2 - Ride-By Attack, Shield Charge, Craft Wand
    10. Skymage 3 - Spell Focus
    11. Skymage 4 - Spirited Charge, Skill Focus (Diplomacy)
    12. Skymage 5 - Enlarge Spell, Sculpt Spell
    13. Ruathar 1 - MWP (Longsword)
    14. Abjurant Champion 1
    15. Abjurant Champion 2 - Shield Slam
    16. Abjurant Champion 3
    17. Abjurant Champion 4
    18. Abjurant Champion 5 - Open Feat
    19. Ruathar 2
    20. Ruathar 3

    Required Equipment: Aptitude Razored Shield - You need a slashing weapon for Whirling Blade and one that can be used for the Shield Charge and Shield Slam feats. Aptitude allows it to be wielded with proficiency with a different MWP feat, and RAW, probably allows it to gain the benefit of using Spirited Charge with a lance. Eventually you'd like it to be Valorous as well.

    Required Stats: You need 13 Str for Power Attack, and 14 Int to make skills work. Beyond that, the build is very Cha-SAD. Consider going Necropolitan to avoid worrying about Con.

    The rules for mounted charging are as follows.
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    If your mount charges, you also take the AC penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging on horseback, you deal double damage with a lance.
    So if your mount charges, any attack that you make is also a charge. Enter the Whirling Blade spell, which makes melee attacks against a bunch of enemies in a line, using your casting stat in place of strength. So the mount charges, you cast Whirling Blade, and get to make a bunch of attacks that count as charge attacks and therefore get the benefits of Power Lunge (with 2*Cha replacing the 2*Str), charge multipliers like Spirited Charge, Valorous, and Rhino's Rush, and the rider effects from Shield Charge/Shield Slam. Death Devotion (with plenty of turn attempts to fuel it) adds another nice little rider. Since the mount is doing the charging for you, you're only using a standard action, and have a move action free for Channel Spell to add a targeted spell to one of the attacks. Sha'ir is the best base for this, because it's a Cha-based caster with access to the Sor/Wiz list, and counts as both arcane and divine, so we can use Ordained Champion's Channel Spell and Zhentarim Skymage for its fancy mount.


    Cast any spell spontaneously with free metamagic while hiding on the ethereal plane:
    Spoiler: The planar lurker, by Kaleph
    Show

    Illumian Sha’ir 3/Durthan 3/Shadowcraft mage 5/Knight of the raven 7/Filler 2

    Required feats: Improved counterspell (1st) [retrained to earth spell after level 6], heighten spell (flaw, 1st), spell focus (flaw, 1st), extend spell (3rd), iron will (otyugh hole, 3rd), earth sense (6th), persist spell (metamagic storm, 6th), metamagic school focus (9th), free feat slots (12th, 15th, 18th).
    Other: Fire gen familiar, tenebrous cabal affiliation

    So, the sense of the build is to hide ourselves on the ethereal plane, casting spontaneous spells that originate from our raven familiar, and getting in the meantime metamagic for free (see also the silver sniper build above).
    In order to stay on the ethereal plane, we persist ethereal jaunt or etherealness; we have line of sight with our raven and we can use to cast spells on the material plane. We also persist planar bubble (cast on ourself and on our fire gen familiar); if we wear a collar of umbral metamorphosis, we enjoy the effects of the elemental plane of fire (fire spells are maximized and enlarged) and of the plane of shadow (shadow spells are maximized); the latter is conveniently useful considering our SHADOW ILLUSION ability!
    And, as icing on the cake, we also cast any spell on our list spontaneously, through durthan's place magic and an acorn of far travel.
    Having 3 free feat slots, and turn undeads to spare, you may also take the usual combo touchstone/arcane mastery/divine defiance, so that your raven isn't only wreaking havoc against your enemy, but it may turn on demand into the ultimate counterspelling engine.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-07-08 at 01:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    7. Spells and magic items


    Arcane spells

    The shortest arcane spell list ever.
    • CharmePHB (1): with that big cha-check modifier of yours, this spell resembles dangerously the more powerful dominate. Recommended, and the same stays for its higher-level variants.
    • Create magic tattooSpC (2): a +1 CL bonus is always nice, especially when used to increase the number of spells you may cast from your pool, if you're a skypledged or a mage of the arcane order.
    • RopetrickPHB (2): indispensable to protect yourself at night, when you become vulnerable.
    • Battlemagic perceptionHoB (3): a very good spell, but it's made almost completely obsolete for you by divine defiance.
    • Spellcaster's baneCMag (3): here we are talking! Know everything about the spells being cast, automatically learn them without a spellcraft check, and get a +2 unnamed bonus to CL (and dispel) checks. It's a swift action to cast it, but I'd be even tempted to persist it.
    • Planar binding, lesserPHB (5): same advantage for the cha-check, and fits thematically quite well the archetype. Recommended but with sobriety, as the higher-level variants.
    • Imbue familiar with spell abilitySpC (6): potentially very useful to break the action economy, unfortunately it suffers enormously from the fact that, if you PrC out of the class early, the gen is almost always somewhere else fetching your spells. Try to plan for it.


    Divine spells

    The divine spells I'm ranking are either unavailable to wizards and clerics, OR they're available to clerics but you want to cast them yourself, OR they're at a lower level as on the cleric's/wizard's list. All spells are found in the PHB.
    • Entropic shield (1): doesn't scale well (ehm, not at all), and at low levels – when you could need it – your diplomacy bonus isn't high enough to retrieve it reliably.
    • Heat metal (2): a blast with a will save, that takes time to start to deal damage; power word pain is better.
    • Produce flame (2): as a blast it’s so-so for a 1st level druid spell, and you cast it as a 2nd level spell.
    • Soften earth and stone (2): with it, you can do some BFC or damage buildings; the second use is actually something you may both plan in advance and possibly need in a real game.
    • Windwall (2): a nice wall one spell level earlier, but you have other walls, and this one isn't something you'll plan often in advance.
    • Chaos hammer (4): decent but situational blast + debuff, I guess you'll never need this spell that bad.
    • Freedom of movement (4): the plan is to cast it spontaneously through the apprentice feat; if so, it's better than heart of water.
    • Order's wrath (4): see chaos hammer.
    • Spike stones (4): BFC/blast/debuff with a duration measured in hours and a big area. A bit anemic for its level, but nice.
    • Control winds (5): a typical druid “natural disaster” spell, nice duration and radius; may have its uses.
    • Fire seeds (6): a nice blast for a druid, less for you. Could turn useful in the “trap” version.
    • Sunbeam (7): a 7th level combat-only short-duration divine spell simply requires too much precise planning to be practical.
    • Whirlwind (8): this spell does nothing you cannot already do with lower-level arcane spells.
    • Elemental swarm (9): it takes forever to cast it, and the summonings aren’t that strong; to call it extremely situational would be euphemistic.
    • Miracle (9): replaces, if possible, freedom of movement at high level. Use it carefully if you cannot cast it spontaneously since it will take 12-13 hours until you can retrieve it, which could mess up your sha'ir's shuffle.


    Magic (and mundane) items

    A magic carpet ride is just the ordinary sha'ir's way of travelling


    • Circlet of persuasionDMG: a viable but slightly expensive way to buff diplomacy, goes somewhere between good and ideal if you have other uses for it: charm/planar binding spells, bluff and UMD are very good examples. [4,500 gp]
    • Dispelling cordMIC: very cheap for what it does, and coveted by every counterspeller. [1,000 gp]
    • Domain staffCC: the most straightforward way to spontaneously cast your divine spells, but too expensive for my taste. [36,000 gp]
    • Eternal wand of glibnessMIC: expensive, but being an all-cheating con man matches several sha’ir’s archetypes. See if you can get a cheaper version that works only 1/day. [10,900 gp]
    • Gauntlets of Heartfelt BlowsDrC: only the best for your charismatic gish! Totally build-dependant, of course. [12,000 gp]
    • (Clebdecher) GlamerweaveECS/SCoT: nonmagical fabric that makes for "striking and strangely beautiful" clothes; besides the obvious flavor for a fancy sha'ir, the clothes provide +1/+2 circumstance bonus to diplomacy, depending on the version. [100-500 gp]
    • Platinum helmMIC: excellent for escalating fear, if this is your tactic, otherwise still nice; 3/day may render all creature within 18 m shaken (no HD limit), the DC is cha-based and scales with your character level. At higher levels gives you blindsense 1 hour/day. Relic, costs DIVINE spell slots, that you have natively. [5,000 gp]
    • Ring of spell battleMIC: a must for most wizards, for you even moreso as a complement to your native counterspelling talent. [12,000 gp]
    • RunestaffMIC: not a bad item, and it becomes gold if your DM decides that spell slots are lost after the prepared spell times out. [cost varies]
    • Third eye: penetrateEPH: almost a must, since you may be too feat-starved for spell penetration. [8,000 gp]
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-06-30 at 09:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook


    8. Final considerations on the class


    So, arrived now (almost) at the end of this guide, I’m under the impression that the sha’ir is a solid full-casting class, almost on par with a wizard; this has a twofold implication: first, the class is worth a try, second, you shouldn’t play it in low optimization games unless you nerf it a bit.

    Comparing sha’ir and wizard was one of my targets from the beginning, so now you’ll get my two coppers on the question. I was hoping that this new class could be a tier 2-3 spellcaster, and thus less banhammerable than the core’s power-three, but that’s not what I’ve found out. If you (as I did in the guide) believe that its slots don’t vanish when the retrieved spells time out, then there’s no significant loss of power, only some tasks become more complex to manage; if the slots vanish instead, then the class has so many issues, that it’s better to forget it. I’ll give some more explanations later on.

    Proceeding with the comparison, I was surprised that so many good options (feats, PrCs, ACFs, variants, even templates) are either wizard-exclusive, or become less effective for a sha’ir; and whenever trying to specialize in a certain area, I’m terribly missing those good options. The wiz remains therefore in my eyes the best casting class overall, but the sha’ir, on the other hand, allows unique combinations, that are so intriguing, that I feel tempted to play the class just to say that I’ve tried them once in the life.

    Besides these aspects, the concrete mechanical advantage here is the sha’ir’s shuffle; it’s not breaking the game, but it definitely distinguishes you from the other spellcasters. It doesn’t happen every day that a wizard regrets not having the chance to completely reshuffle its prepared spells, but when it happens, he’ll regret it very badly. You know no regret, you are the sha’ir.


    Regional adaptations (Forgotten realms)

    This calimite sha'ir'cadin doesn't hide her connection to the elemental plane of fire


    The default setting for Al’Qadim was the (optional) sub-continent of Zakhara, located southeast of Faerun and southwest of Kara-Tur; in Faerun, the Bedines of Anauroch emigrated from Zakhara and are certainly keepers of its magical traditions, and constitute a perfect background for the sha’ir’s in need of a tribal archetype.

    If you want instead a "civilized" background, the other descendants of the zhakarian are the calimites; the land counts even djinn and efreet amongst its rulers, counts a significant presence of genasi, and its magical tradition stems from the elemental planes of air and fire. This setting is so perfect that I ask myself why the original designers had to invent the sub-continent of Zakhara as a setting for Al'Qadim in the first place.

    Besides the calimites, the mulan are the closest faerun-native relatives of the Zakharians; they share the same ethnicity and speak similar languages, are adepts in blending arcane and divine magic, have a strongly elemental-based pantheon and their empires were known for their intense traffics with genies. The Mulan lands (e.g. Unther) in the shining south would be the perfect point of origin of any sha’ir school based in Faerun.

    The direct heirs of mulan’s magical traditions are the rashemi; their strong magical tradition stems from untheric influences, blends arcane and divine, and manifests itself with heavy elemental connotations (besides rashemi elemental summoning, I’ve understood that some native sorcerers have actually elemental bloodlines). Many inhabitants also speak Mulan dialects as mother language instead of rashemi, fact that highlights their connection to southern cultures. The land of Rashemen has in addition weak planar boundaries, although admittedly with feywild and not the elemental planes; also, their magic power draws from the spirit’s world – and elementals are spirits. Rashemi is an ideal setting if you consider the option that the sha’ir’s tradition has infiltrated other lands outside of their place of origin, although a certain adaptation could be needed (e.g. you may want to convert your gen in a real elemental).


    More about the gen’s fluff

    The AD&D rulebooks had a couple of alternative explanations about the way the gen fetches the spells for its master; one of them is in particular compatible with the 3E rules, and could be applied without any adaptation.

    So, the designers made the assumptions that, for some reasons, every spell which is cast somewhere in the multiverse leaves an “echo” in the elemental planes; a gen can simply reconstruct the spell’s structure, all the related preparation tasks and the required gestures, words and components that allow the spell to be cast, just by looking at the ripples left behind by the spell while they still vibrate through the elemental matter. They have limited storage capacity, so they can retrieve only one spell at a time and transfer it as soon as possible in the sha’ir’s mind.


    Controversial aspects

    Whenever you decide to play a sha’ir, I strongly recommend that you discuss with your DM these controversial aspects first:
    1. does retrieval count as prepared spellcasting, OR
    2. is it a totally separate subsystem? AND
    1. is the sha’ir shuffle allowed, OR
    2. are spell slots lost as soon as the spells time out?
    The class works differently – but still works – in any possible constellation of answers but 1-b. If your DM rules that the sha’ir is a prepared spellcaster AND bans the shuffle, then you’re in trouble, and should look somewhere else. There are also other puzzling elements, but they are somewhat less critical as these two.

    Spoiler: Is the sha’ir’s shuffle really legal?
    Show
    Well, yes and no. The spell slots in Table 2-12 of the DrC are intended as “number of spells that can be cast per day”, not retrieved; the acts of retrieving and casting a spell are never explicitly associated or bound together. This means that the inherent power of the slot is expended only when it is used to cast a spell. There’s also no limit to the times per day you can send your gen to retrieve spells, so it looks like you can fill the slots ad libitum. So far about RAW.

    RAI, I have the feeling that this is not how the developers intended the class to work. Looking at the wizard’s preparation rules (which is the closest basis for comparison), you may deduce that – unlike a spontaneous caster - there’s no inherent power in their spell slots, or, in other words, a spell slot is empowered by the act of preparing spells. For a wizards, spells-that-can-be-prepared-per-day, is exactly the same as spells-that-can-be-cast-per-day (“A wizard’s level limits the number of spells she can prepare and cast”, “the act of preparing a spell is actually the first step in casting it”), so I assume you can use, to this regard, the words “prepare” and “cast” interchangeably. Also, casting a spell dissipates the power stored in the slot (“upon the casting of a spell, the spell’s energy is expended”), which is a very similar wording as that used to describe what happens when a sha’ir’s spell times out (“the power to cast the spell dissipates harmlessly”).

    As a consequence, I could think that, besides casting a spell, also letting it dissipate “burns” the related slot for the day.

    Normally I like RAI better than RAW, but in this case I’d make an exception; the shuffle isn’t per se broken, nor it brings the class into the virtual tier-0 Olympus – in addition, it’s the only way IMHO that the class is playable. My recommendation is to clarify this aspect with your DM, before even thinking to play a sha’ir, as this ruling totally influences the way the class is played.

    Spoiler: So, what happens if my DM decides that timed-out spell slots are lost for the day?
    Show
    This is bad. I mean, it’s not just, say, “the class drops a tier or two”, it’s really having to deal with bad design. Let’s make some examples.

    At level 1, my spells remain in my mind for one hour; that said, I’ll be wary of prepping them in the morning, instead I’ll wait for the right time. Most of the day I’ll have, consequently, no spells ready. Now, in my experience, preparing and planning isn’t one of the strengths of low levels chars: they are more often a victim of events and circumstances, rather than in control, and the chances they’re caught off-guard or unprepared are quite high. In addition, as soon as I decide to retrieve my spells, the clock starts ticking, and I have only one hour in the day to do…well, whatever I want to do. No, being a commoner 23 hours out of 24 doesn’t match my definition of “attractive”.

    At level 8, things start to improve: now I could theoretically retrieve 50% of my spells in the morning, and then the same spells again after 8 hours. Nice, I’m now very similar to a wizard, only with significantly less spell slots, much more bookkeeping, and late or no PrC access. So I’d probably just play a single-class wizard and decrease the number of spells per day, right? I mean, the whole concept of divine/ arcane admixture is more or less gone forever, right? Wait, maybe if I stay a bit longer in the class it will start to work properly.

    At level 20, my spells remain retrieved long enough that I won’t care anymore about their dissipation; yes it’s true, I missed all the PrC options I’ve hoped for and am stuck with silly class abilities, but now I’m finally playing a true tier 1 class. A tier 1 class that needs on average 3 hours to retrieve its spells and cannot stay out at night after 4 o’ clock, sort of a Cinderella caster, but still I’m a power to be reckoned with. It’s only odd that I started my career wandering around tier 6, and now I’ve got so far – probably the authors had some sort of preventive dantesque punishment in mind for me. But waiting was worth it: not only I do all the tricks that a wizard would do, but now I even get ONE ADDITIONAL SPELL PER LEVEL! Fantastic! Exactly the same that a specialized wizard would get! And wizard’s in the DAMNED PLAYER’S HANDBOOK, I don’t need to search it in some obscure, poorly-written source! So all this time I could have been a wizard, specialize, take “craft wondrous item” at level 3, improved familiar at level 6, learn planeshift, get the planar ally line somehow and from time to time call a janni just for flavor. You know, planar ally, a spell which has also some other uses, uses which could be in fact ACTUALLY USEFUL!

    Probably I’m too negative; some runestaff could save my ass relatively often, although being totally dependant on a customized magic item goes in the same direction as a truenamer with its earrings of +2 dodge bonus on truespeak checks. And as a truenamer, this version of the sha’ir could be actually playable, but probably only by those who see it as a challenge. And have the nerves to carry on through the stress and frustration. That’s not me, unfortunately!

    Spoiler: Does “spell retrieve” count as “spell preparation”?
    Show
    The Vancian system is polarized between two opposing philosophies: prepared and spontaneous spellcasting; any ruling in the game is written, structured and ordered taking into account these two methods alone.

    The easiest way to address sha’ir’s spellcasting, is just to decide on which side of the barricade you want it to be, as in this way it will easily, smoothly and seamlessly fit in the game’s world.

    One thing is clear: you are not a spontaneous spellcaster.

    You must choose your spells in advance, and a retrieved spell "remains set in the sha'ir's memory, like a wizard's prepared spell" until cast or vanished – so if you share my black-or-white vision of magic, you have no other choice but to classify it as a prepared caster.

    I call it "the retrieval/preparation transparency".

    RAW, anyhow, someone could argue that you are not, if not for any other reason than the fact that “retrieve” and “prepare” are two different words. If you follow the RAW, you just created a third pole and, as a consequence, you are barring the access to a couple of decent options (namely MotAO and alacritous cogitation). No big deal.

    At the same time, though, you are introducing a collateral effect: if you are a caster "that doesn't prepare spells", the system assumes by default that you ready spells (like a sorcerer or a bard). So, good luck adapting all rulings that try to affect you as if you were a spontaneous caster (which you definitely aren't). Wasn't it better to just cut it short and decide for the "retrieval/preparation transparency"?

    Spoiler: What’s the story with arcane preparation?
    Show
    This feat has been suggested by Kalkra, and actually I’ve noticed that it’s mentioned relatively often in sha’ir’s discussions. The easiest way to frame it is to assume that your DM decided that retrieval is a separate spellcasting subsystem (see above); in this case, it’s Boolean: if the sha’ir isn’t a prepared spellcaster then it qualifies for arcane preparation. Good. Now alacritous cogitation and MotAO are back once again, but that’s not all, folks.

    The bloodline feats of the DrC have the same requirement entry as arcane preparation, so they're also accessible; additional spells known are always good, and if you take necromantic bloodline and kin mastery, you also get a turn attempt without PrCing. It could be useful.

    The most interesting consequence, anyhow, is that arcane preparation let you prepare (and this time, really prepare as a wizard would do) any number of spells, as long as you have slots; these spells, once prepared, won’t fade away from your memory so you don’t need to shuffle, which totally fixes the issue of a DM ruling that your slots are lost when the spells time out.

    The feats let you prepare any spell you know – now good luck convincing your masters that your unknown spells you’ve identified are also subject to this feat (see below for further insight). If you’re unsuccessful, don’t mind: you have actually quite a lot known spells and, if you chose wisely, they’re totally appropriate to fill 80% of your daily allotment.

    So your methodic (slightly) changes as follows: in the morning, you prepare ca. 75-90% of your available spells, and you’re ready adventuring; you can either retrieve the remaining ones directly afterwards (e.g. if shuffling is allowed), or on the fly as soon as you need them (if it’s not). That’s a good approach: you still have more slots than a vanilla wizards, and possibly you still get to shuffle a good amount of spells. Oh, and since most of the spells won’t vanish, your familiar isn’t plane shifting all the time and can also, you know, do the usual stuff that a humanoid familiar is supposed to do.

    But that’s not all: did I mention already that arcane preparation isn’t actually limited to arcane spells? That’s right, you lovers of RAW: in one hour time, you get to prepare also any number or divine spells you know. All things considered, that’s not a bad deal at the cost of a mere feat!

    Spoiler: Any possible patches?
    Show
    It would be relatively easy to homebrew some fixes for the sha’ir.

    The first option is to get rid of the whole story of the spells’ dissipation; in this case, since the more generous allotment was probably granted to cope with the fact that many slots could be wasted, I’d go back to the wizard’s standard spell progression.

    Option 2 would be to give him a spirit shaman-like spellcasting, and leave everything else unchanged. If you get rid of the spells’ dissipation, the class drops at least one tier, if you don’t, but allow the shuffle, it could possibly stay tier 1, and would be even more bizarre than a straight sha’ir. That’s something I’d like to see someday.

    Option 3 would change the class a little bit more, in the attempt to stick to the letter of the “pre-islamic poet”. Give the class a bard’s chassis, bardic knowledge and 6/9 regular spontaneous spellcasting; besides the familiar and the plane shift spell-like, get rid of all class abilities; grant the sha’ir the complete planar ally line as a spell-like (no XP cost) 1/day, an automatic discount when negotiating with a called genie, and give the gen a “combat form” at will, scaling with the class level and on-par with the druid’s animal companion. To have a more magical familiar, just let it use one of your spells slots spontaneously 1/day every 4 or 5 sha’ir’s levels you possess.

    I've developed these three ideas here, go have a look right now!

    Spoiler: What are “known”, “unknown” and “identified spells”?
    Show
    “Known spell” is, for the sha’ir, an unfortunate wording thay may be easily mistaken for the spells that a class like the sorcerer may spontaneously cast. Actually, they are two completely different stories, and to avoid confusion you should simply consider them as “favored spells” instead; they also correspond 1-to-1 to the “spells a wizard gains at a new level”. I imagine that they are considered known since you basically know where on the elemental plane they are located, so that your gen familiar can fetch them without a lengthy research.

    “Unknown spell” is totally misleading. For a wizard, a known spell is one that he successfully studied through a spellcraft check, copied into his handbook, and ultimately a spell he can cast. For a sha’ir, an unknown spell may be identified through a spellcraft check, and ultimately be a spell he can cast. In the handbook, for this subcategory of unknown spells I used the definition “identified spells”, but they correspond 1-to-1 to the “spells a wizard knows”. I would rule that feats, such as alacritous cogitation, mentioning “arcane spells that you know”, in your case apply to the unknown but identified spells, but RAW would say otherwise.

    Spoiler: Domain spells
    Show
    The domain spells, that the class gives you access to, stay as divine spells and are cast as such. The main result is that you are both an arcane and a divine spellcaster, exactly in the same way as a cleric is a divine spellcaster and a wizard an arcane spellcaster. You now qualify for feats and prestige classes which are normally available only to clerics or dual spellcasters.

    Do you count as “having access to the domain”? There’s no definition of “access to the domain”, but whenever it is mentioned, it is always associated to two benefits: access to spell list (which you get) AND to the domain’s granted power (which you don't get). That said, if your DM allows you to exchange the access to a domain list for a devotion feat, consider it a present and thank him.

    Finally, you may wonder if you cast (and retrieve) the spells that come from extra domain (contemplative and the like) as arcane or divine spells. The CDiv says that “such spells are considered arcane spells when cast by arcane spellcasters”, but if the caster "memorizes spells like a druid, paladin, or ranger, then she can simply choose to memorize one of that domain’s spells instead of one of her usual spells, but never more than one domain spell of each level". So, you are indeed an arcane spellcaster, and therefore your extra domain spells become arcane by default - but then what do you do with the other clause? Do you get to chose between the two options? Your DM decides if they are arcane or divine? I'm happy to leave the decision to you.

    Spoiler: How much does a retrieval routine take?
    Show
    See the graph. I assume that the charisma modifier steadily increases between +4 (level 1) and +12 (level 20), and that you may select between two strategies: either retrieve only known spells, or a mix of known (80%) and unknown (20%) spells. I am also assuming that you fill all your spell slots at once.






    Homebrew
    Want to read some alternative take on the class? Going to brew your own variant and looking for inspiration? Here you go.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2020-06-19 at 09:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Reserved 9/10

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Reserved 10/10

    OK, I reserved enough Posts. Now I'll start to copy-paste the content, afterwards I'll edit it, and finally I'll add some nice Pictures.
    The editing is done, now I'll proceed to incorporate your comments. Ah, and the Pictures, someday.
    The consolidated version of the handbook is online. I'll work on future comments/suggestions as soon as they come.

    That's my first handbook, until now I worked alone and the topic is a very controversial class. This means: comments, feedbacks and suggestions are welcome!
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-20 at 05:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    I'm glad to see this, Sha'ir is one of my favorite classes! I'm actually rolling up a Sha'ir gish for an upcoming game and I'll definitely be taking pointers from your Sha'ir'cadin build.

    I'll make a suggestion regarding the dips section: if you intend to play up the diplomancer aspect of the class, a single level dip into Marshal will give you Skill Focus (diplomacy) and Motivate Charisma, putting your diplomacy checks through the roof.

    Good work! I'm looking foward to the finished version :)

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddy76 View Post
    I'm glad to see this, Sha'ir is one of my favorite classes! I'm actually rolling up a Sha'ir gish for an upcoming game and I'll definitely be taking pointers from your Sha'ir'cadin build.

    I'll make a suggestion regarding the dips section: if you intend to play up the diplomancer aspect of the class, a single level dip into Marshal will give you Skill Focus (diplomacy) and Motivate Charisma, putting your diplomacy checks through the roof.

    Good work! I'm looking foward to the finished version :)
    Thank you for the suggestion, I'll add the marshal to the list of possible dips. I wonder if some more synergies between the two could be exploited...I'll think about it later.

    Regarding the sha'ir'cadin, it is actually my back-up character. A full casting sha'ir doesn't fit the optimization level of the party, so I tried to derail the PC towards a less "dominating" role.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    I love the Sha'ir class! Great to see it's getting a handbook!

    Lots of colors seem to be missing from the later posts though.

    You seem to have missed the Durthan's main advantage. IMO, it's an absolutely amazing class for a Sha'ir because it gives you access to every single arcane spell, from level 3.
    A Sha'ir can prepare any spell they know, or any spell that they have seen. This means that at low levels, a Sha'ir that doesn't get to observe any spells being cast is basically just an inferior wizard.
    And by being a Durthan, a Sha'ir can cast all those spells herself! Just grab some downtime as soon as possible (or an Acorn of Far Travel, whatever) and start casting those niche utility spells in front of a mirror. You have now seen them cast, and can therefore access them at need.
    My experience playing a Sha'ir showed that while getting common spells was easy simply by observing enemy spellcasters or the party Bard, getting most spells required finding someone selling them - and my GMs often made this rather difficult for campaign setting reasons. Taking a level of Durthan fixes all this, and suddenly makes the Acorn of Far Travel incredibly awesome.

    Durthan should be in a better color just for this interaction, IMO. Actually using Place Magic (Acorn of Far Travel says hello!) while adventuring is just gravy. I would rate the Durthan PrC Gold, or maybe Blue (it does have annoying feat requirements to enter, after all).

    EDIT: You also mention Alternative Source Spell. It is indeed a great feature for Sha'ir, but you may be missing it's other main advantage : it can allow you to ignore ACF by preparing all your spells as divine spells, if the time taken to access them isn't an issue (for example, because you're leaving most of your slots open to use Place Magic).
    Last edited by TalonOfAnathrax; 2019-05-08 at 06:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Personally, I interpreted Sha'irs in a slightly simpler way: I considered them to be kinda like sorcerers, with the spells retrieved as the pool of spell they can draw from. Admittedly, that's a much stronger interpretation, because then you don't need to shuffle at all. You can (time permitting) retrieve as many spells as you want, and then cast which ones you need.

    Also, with the Apprentice feat, you can qualify for Arcane Preparation, which can let you get around the wait time for getting all your spells, at the expense of losing your ability to shuffle those slots. Also, Extra Familiar halves the amount of time required for filling all your slots. If you can get yourself tainted, Mad Faith can be stupid good, and Eldritch Corruption is also nice, particularly if you're doing a binder build.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Nice handbook! Always been interested in the Sha'ir, it's good to see someone take an in-depth look at it.

    That said, some slight comments: I'd take out the reference to making runestones out of arcane spells under Alternative Source Spell, because if that's referring to the Runecaster PrC or the Inscribe Rune feat, you'll likely need several DM RAW judgments to make that trick work.

    First, there's the issue that Inscribe Rune itself, the item creation feat that allows you to create runes, has a prerequisite of "divine spellcaster level 3rd". I get that you're saying that because this class can cast divine spells it therefore is a divine spellcaster on your reading, but that's going to need a DM adjudication, particularly given the class's description is "a flexible arcane spellcaster who relies on a spirit ally to fetch his spells from across the planes".

    Second, there's the issue that crafting runes via the Inscribe Rune feat requires that the spell to be placed in the rune must be prepared. So again, it's a DM ruling about whether getting the spells in via the Sha'ir's gen counts as preparing the spells, noting that you can draw on the fact the Sha'ir's text tells us that "Once retrieved, a spell remains set in the sha'ir's memory, like a wizard's prepared spell".

    Third, if you're going into the Runecaster PrC, there's good odds it won't advance the Sha'ir's casting, since that looks to be arcane rather than divine.


    As has been said further above, the cute trick of removing ACF chance because it's prepared as a divine spell is already a sweet exploit for Alternative Source Spell. I wouldn't worry about the capacity to make runes, it takes too many DM RAW rulings in your favour in my view.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    I love the Sha'ir class! Great to see it's getting a handbook!

    Lots of colors seem to be missing from the later posts though.
    Thank you; there is some amount of sparse information on several forums, but it's hard to track them, so I guess a consolidated version could help.
    Regarding the Colors: 't takes forever to Format this crap Just have faith, I'll finish it someday.

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    You seem to have missed the Durthan's main advantage. IMO, it's an absolutely amazing class for a Sha'ir because it gives you access to every single arcane spell, from level 3.
    A Sha'ir can prepare any spell they know, or any spell that they have seen. This means that at low levels, a Sha'ir that doesn't get to observe any spells being cast is basically just an inferior wizard.
    And by being a Durthan, a Sha'ir can cast all those spells herself! Just grab some downtime as soon as possible (or an Acorn of Far Travel, whatever) and start casting those niche utility spells in front of a mirror. You have now seen them cast, and can therefore access them at need.
    My experience playing a Sha'ir showed that while getting common spells was easy simply by observing enemy spellcasters or the party Bard, getting most spells required finding someone selling them - and my GMs often made this rather difficult for campaign setting reasons. Taking a level of Durthan fixes all this, and suddenly makes the Acorn of Far Travel incredibly awesome.

    Durthan should be in a better color just for this interaction, IMO.

    Actually using Place Magic (Acorn of Far Travel says hello!) while adventuring is just gravy. I would rate the Durthan PrC Gold, or maybe Blue (it does have annoying feat requirements to enter, after all).
    I mention the same trick to learn spells for free in the MotAO's entry - if the trick works, then the class becomes blue (you don't see it clearly yet, as the section misses the colors). The same would apply also to the Durthan, but I interpret differently the place magic ability; I'll PM you to understand which interpretation is more sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    EDIT: You also mention Alternative Source Spell. It is indeed a great feature for Sha'ir, but you may be missing it's other main advantage : it can allow you to ignore ACF by preparing all your spells as divine spells, if the time taken to access them isn't an issue (for example, because you're leaving most of your slots open to use Place Magic).
    I didn't mention it explicitly as it's the most obvious advantage; in addition, I didn't list the feat because I recommend it, but because it's unique and may potentially allow some cheese, depending on the interpretation (I even considered using a separate color to identify cheesy Options, since they are worth mentioning, but it's not that I'm recommending them). The feat is also 3rd Party, so something that I positively chose to ignore for the most part of the handbook.
    As such, I wouldn't focus on the feat, I listed it simply as a curiosity, Nothing more.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Personally, I interpreted Sha'irs in a slightly simpler way: I considered them to be kinda like sorcerers, with the spells retrieved as the pool of spell they can draw from. Admittedly, that's a much stronger interpretation, because then you don't need to shuffle at all. You can (time permitting) retrieve as many spells as you want, and then cast which ones you need.
    I propose some homebrew versions of the class in the last section of the handbook, and one of them is similar to your proposal. Actually it's based on the spirit shaman rather than the sorcerer, but it's still a spontaneous caster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Also, with the Apprentice feat, you can qualify for Arcane Preparation, which can let you get around the wait time for getting all your spells, at the expense of losing your ability to shuffle those slots. Also, Extra Familiar halves the amount of time required for filling all your slots. If you can get yourself tainted, Mad Faith can be stupid good, and Eldritch Corruption is also nice, particularly if you're doing a binder build.
    As I said already, I won't normally list 3rd party material (and extra familiar is also 3.0, I believe), but it is so...unique...I think I'll steal it, thank you for the suggestion. Possibly a DM would houserule that only one familiar at a time can retrieve spells, but still the trick is kosher both RAW and RAI.

    The other things you mention are a bit outside of the stuff I would allow as a DM. I am not so flexible when trying to switch between prepared and spontaneous spellcasting, I believe it's set in stone when you chose the class. And taint...taint is broken by itself, not because it's coupled to a sha'ir.

    Nevertheless, these are still interesting information, so I'm considering making a separate section containing "dirty tricks", where I can collect these "borderline" suggestions.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Nice handbook! Always been interested in the Sha'ir, it's good to see someone take an in-depth look at it.
    Thank you! Good to see I'm not the only one fascinated by the class.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    That said, some slight comments: I'd take out the reference to making runestones out of arcane spells under Alternative Source Spell, because if that's referring to the Runecaster PrC or the Inscribe Rune feat, you'll likely need several DM RAW judgments to make that trick work.

    First, there's the issue that Inscribe Rune itself, the item creation feat that allows you to create runes, has a prerequisite of "divine spellcaster level 3rd". I get that you're saying that because this class can cast divine spells it therefore is a divine spellcaster on your reading, but that's going to need a DM adjudication, particularly given the class's description is "a flexible arcane spellcaster who relies on a spirit ally to fetch his spells from across the planes".

    Second, there's the issue that crafting runes via the Inscribe Rune feat requires that the spell to be placed in the rune must be prepared. So again, it's a DM ruling about whether getting the spells in via the Sha'ir's gen counts as preparing the spells, noting that you can draw on the fact the Sha'ir's text tells us that "Once retrieved, a spell remains set in the sha'ir's memory, like a wizard's prepared spell".

    Third, if you're going into the Runecaster PrC, there's good odds it won't advance the Sha'ir's casting, since that looks to be arcane rather than divine.

    As has been said further above, the cute trick of removing ACF chance because it's prepared as a divine spell is already a sweet exploit for Alternative Source Spell. I wouldn't worry about the capacity to make runes, it takes too many DM RAW rulings in your favour in my view.
    As I explained before, I am listing alternate source spell only as a curiosity, because it's clear that it can be exploited...somehow. The way it can be exploited, it's mostly left to the imagination of the readers. And to the generosity of the DMs.

    Regarding the way to foil ASF, it takes forever to retrieve the divine version of your spells, so I believe it isn't a viable strategy (southern magician is probably better).

    Regarding the sha'ir being a divine spellcaster, it's one of the assumptions of the handbook, so in my view runecaster would be a viable PrC. I'm not saying that this is the only possible way to rule the class, that's really just an assumption.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-09 at 03:13 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleph View Post
    Thank you; there is some amount of sparse information on several forums, but it's hard to track them, so I guess a consolidated version could help.
    Regarding the Colors: 't takes forever to Format this crap Just have faith, I'll finish it someday.
    Ouch. Sounds tedious. Good luck with that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleph View Post
    I mention the same trick to learn spells for free in the MotAO's entry - if the trick works, then the class becomes blue (you don't see it clearly yet, as the section misses the colors). The same would apply also to the Durthan, but I interpret differently the place magic ability; I'll PM you to understand which interpretation is more sound.
    Ah, I see. I'd mention it again for clarity, but maybe that's just me? Your description of the class sounds VERY negative in the handbook, while it is in fact a pretty amazing dip IMO.

    As for Place Magic : note that it is clarified on page 47 of Unapproachable East. It reads "Hathrans and durthans possess a special bond to the land of Rashemen that lets them draw upon the power of the spirits to cast spells without preparing them. When a hathran or durthan uses place magic, she can cast any arcane or divine spell known to her. (Spells on her hathran or durthan spell list can be cast as either arcane or divine spells, as she desires.) In effect, she can use any spell on any of her spell lists when she wishes, as long as she is within the borders of Rashemen. A place magic spell uses an unassigned spell slot of the appropriate type (arcane or divine) and level. If the caster does not have an open spell slot, she may spontaneously lose a pre-pared spell of the appropriate type and level to cast her place magic spell. Using place magic takes longer than casting a spell normally; any spell that takes 1 standard action to cast requires 1 full round to cast with place magic. Spells with casting times longer than 1 standard action simply add 1 round to the casting time."
    It explicitly says "she can use any spell on her spell list", thereby allowing her to add them to her "spells she is aware of" list to be able to prepare them normally. The "Place Magic" text in the class description is indeed unclear.
    Last edited by TalonOfAnathrax; 2019-05-09 at 04:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Dreaming of Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Nice job! Handbooking is hard work, so I respect the effort that clearly went into this.

    (Also, “earrings of +2 dodge bonus to Truespeak” both hit close to home and made me laugh for way longer than I would have expected...)
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
    Come join the Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground E6 Appetizer Edition! We're currently cooking for round 24. Everyone is welcome!

    My compiled Iron Chef stuff!

    Queer pride isn't limited to one month!

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    Default Re: Dreaming of Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    Nice job! Handbooking is hard work, so I respect the effort that clearly went into this.

    (Also, “earrings of +2 dodge bonus to Truespeak” both hit close to home and made me laugh for way longer than I would have expected...)
    I have to make two confessions.

    1. Yes, I've read your handbook about truenamers.

    2. Although I don't know you personally, when I wrote this paragraph I was thinking amongst others about you, especially when it comes to the next sentence:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleph View Post
    And as a truenamer, this version of the sha’ir could be actually playable, but probably only to thoses who see it as a challenge. And have the nerves to carry on through the stress and frustration. That’s not me, unfortunately!
    Please take it as a compliment, but in that moment I was thinking "yes, that Zaq guy could have the nerve to play the class, but I believe that 95% of the people are not like him…" .

    PS I see only now that I wrote "to thoses". Fortunately my english teacher is not here to see what happened to my "competences"...
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-09 at 08:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Whoops, forgot that Extra Familiar is from Dragon. If you have it, though, you can use it get Arcane Hierophant without houseruling it, because you'll still have one gen to get you spells. Also, I think that many DMs would be fine with Apprentice into Arcane Preparation., because it basically just lets you act like a wizard. It's cheese, but not very stinky cheese. Now Versatile Spellcaster, that's cheese.

    Also, regarding taint, I agree that no DM on the planet would let you go Necropolitan Sha'ir 1 and then qualify for a PrC with your 5th level spells, but I'm a munchkin at heart, and just thinking about it makes me happy.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    I think the "Player Help" tag is really more for players asking for help.

    I will chime in to say that sha'ir casting is neither prepared nor spontaneous. You don't prepare spells, you retrieve them.

    Also, I don't think you can reasonably have a sha'ir handbook that doesn't include Dragon Magazine material, given that the class itself is from Dragon Magazine. Technically, it's debatable whether it even counts as "third party" anyway, since Dragon and Dungeon were still owned by WotC even when they were published by Paizo. Material from the magazines is frequently referenced and reprinted in the actual books, too. Personally, I think the more salient distinctive is between D&D 3.5 material and d20 System material.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    I entered into a recent junkyard wars competition with a Shai'ir build.
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...Ready-Aim-Fire

    The Silver Pyromancer, if you wanted to look, or have another example build.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zombulian View Post
    I am continually astounded by how new you are here in contrast to how impressive your mind is.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleph View Post
    Regarding the sha'ir being a divine spellcaster, it's one of the assumptions of the handbook, so in my view runecaster would be a viable PrC. I'm not saying that this is the only possible way to rule the class, that's really just an assumption.
    Well, assuming that you can roll into Runecaster after Sha'ir on this basis, permanent runes certainly would help with the Sha'ir shuffle issues at least for buff spells in that you no longer have to cast those spells; you can just touch the runes and have the spells on all the time.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    I think the "Player Help" tag is really more for players asking for help.
    Thank you, flag removed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    I will chime in to say that sha'ir casting is neither prepared nor spontaneous. You don't prepare spells, you retrieve them.
    It's really controversial, as I highlighted several times in the handbook. Really DM territory. I feel confortable to say that the spells count as prepared - but formally you are not a spellcaster that prepares spells, that's true.
    Anyhow the latter is required, as far as I can see, only for Alactritous cogitation (which has already a warning flag) and for MotAO. I'll add a warning flag to this class too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    Also, I don't think you can reasonably have a sha'ir handbook that doesn't include Dragon Magazine material, given that the class itself is from Dragon Magazine. Technically, it's debatable whether it even counts as "third party" anyway, since Dragon and Dungeon were still owned by WotC even when they were published by Paizo. Material from the magazines is frequently referenced and reprinted in the actual books, too. Personally, I think the more salient distinctive is between D&D 3.5 material and d20 System material.
    I'm not really answering to this point, as it would be sterile, really; simply, when I worked on the handbook I had to draw a line between those resources I should analyse and those I shouldn't.
    Anyhow, when any reader wants to suggest something published in Drag/Dung which is totally unique and amazing for a sha'ir, I'm happy to make an exception.

    Furthermore, some readers already suggested some build or combo which are a bit outside of what I would personally allow at a table, and I decided I should list them anyhow. I'll expand the "build" section to include paragraphs @ a higher level of optimization and (possibly) cheese. This may possibly include weird Drag/Dung material.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-10 at 05:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Well, assuming that you can roll into Runecaster after Sha'ir on this basis, permanent runes certainly would help with the Sha'ir shuffle issues at least for buff spells in that you no longer have to cast those spells; you can just touch the runes and have the spells on all the time.
    Well, the runecaster was on my list of prestige classes to be included in the handbook until the last moment; I had some issues with the class, as it requires craft rune as a prerequisite (and I wonder if craft wondrous items wouldn't work better instead), and since you have to wait until ECL 13 to get permanent runes.

    Now, I know your handbook on the subject and indeed you list a lot of neat tricks, but I don't believe they would fly at all tables; also, it's more about runecaster's optimization than sha'ir's.
    And if we pretend that those tricks don't work, then permanent runes are basically use-activated wondrous items with unlimited charges that work only with divine spells.

    I see a limited psycological advantage in crafting runes when negotiating with a DM, as they definitely store any spell you want, while if you try to store the same spell in a wondrous items the DM may become upset all of a sudden since it's a "customized item" and therefore automatically banned.

    This was my reasoning when I dropped the runecaster from the handbook; any suggestion on your side that brings to a different rating of the class?
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-11 at 04:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    Ah, I see. I'd mention it again for clarity, but maybe that's just me? Your description of the class sounds VERY negative in the handbook, while it is in fact a pretty amazing dip IMO.
    I believe you're right, I'll change that entry. The fact is that I am partial to the Hathran, and so cannot help but have a bit of bias.

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    As for Place Magic : note that it is clarified on page 47 of Unapproachable East. It reads "Hathrans and durthans possess a special bond to the land of Rashemen that lets them draw upon the power of the spirits to cast spells without preparing them. When a hathran or durthan uses place magic, she can cast any arcane or divine spell known to her. (Spells on her hathran or durthan spell list can be cast as either arcane or divine spells, as she desires.) In effect, she can use any spell on any of her spell lists when she wishes, as long as she is within the borders of Rashemen. A place magic spell uses an unassigned spell slot of the appropriate type (arcane or divine) and level. If the caster does not have an open spell slot, she may spontaneously lose a pre-pared spell of the appropriate type and level to cast her place magic spell. Using place magic takes longer than casting a spell normally; any spell that takes 1 standard action to cast requires 1 full round to cast with place magic. Spells with casting times longer than 1 standard action simply add 1 round to the casting time."
    It explicitly says "she can use any spell on her spell list", thereby allowing her to add them to her "spells she is aware of" list to be able to prepare them normally. The "Place Magic" text in the class description is indeed unclear.
    I know this section of UE but I would still rule differently. Your interpretation is totally legit, though.
    I decided to expand section 6 as to read "Builds and Combos"; if it's ok for you, I'll cite your suggestions (and place magic's exploits) there.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-10 at 05:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Whoops, forgot that Extra Familiar is from Dragon. If you have it, though, you can use it get Arcane Hierophant without houseruling it, because you'll still have one gen to get you spells. Also, I think that many DMs would be fine with Apprentice into Arcane Preparation., because it basically just lets you act like a wizard. It's cheese, but not very stinky cheese. Now Versatile Spellcaster, that's cheese.

    Also, regarding taint, I agree that no DM on the planet would let you go Necropolitan Sha'ir 1 and then qualify for a PrC with your 5th level spells, but I'm a munchkin at heart, and just thinking about it makes me happy.
    I believe I'll study your suggestions a bit better and include them in a new "Combo" section.

    EDIT: the trick with arcane preparation doesn't work, as the feat requires "ability to cast ARCANE spells without preparation". So it should be fixed with dweomerkeeper or hathran.

    The feat is indeed useful if the DM rules that the retrieval doesn't count as preparation - you automatically qualify in that case.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-10 at 05:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Trafficking with the Genies: a Sha'ir Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Falontani View Post
    I entered into a recent junkyard wars competition with a Shai'ir build.
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...Ready-Aim-Fire

    The Silver Pyromancer, if you wanted to look, or have another example build.
    Thank you; regarding the "Silver sniper", I think it will be a nice addition; I'll put it in the build section, in a paragraph dedicated to high-op characters.
    I also noted that the PrC explicitly adds paladin spells to your list and converts them into arcane spells; I didn't check, but I'm quite sure that some spell can be handy (favor of the martyr comes to mind).

    I have a question regarding the build: how do you qualify for "Initiate of Amaunator" w/ cleric levels? I noticed that it was accepted without remarks in the competition, so I assume it's legal, but I don't get it. Since the handbook has a certain focus on finding ways to cast divine spells spontaneously, this trick could become useful.
    If you want you may just PM me, as probably it will take more than one post to clarify it, and I don't want to derail the discussion.
    Last edited by Kaleph; 2019-05-10 at 05:49 AM.

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