Skills and FeatsThis is the second part to the wizard handbook and covers the skill and feat selection of the optimized wizard. You will find that some spellcasting enhancing feats are missing from this section; that is because they're either straightforward at what they do (or fail to do) that I don't feel that mentioning them is necessary.
The Wizard's Handbook Part I: Attributes, Races and Class Features
The Wizard's Handbook Part II: Skills and Feats
- Combat Casting PHB
- Don't take it! It's a trap! Skill focus (concentration) is going to be useful on any concentration roll and not only when casting defensively (not that skill focus is a good feat to pick). Sometimes you'll end up grabbing this feat just to qualify for a prestige class (Abjurant Champion for instance, from Complete Mage).
- Improved Initiative PHB
- Acting first in the combat sequence, before your opponents have a chance to react gives you a combat advantage. This feat enhances that aspect of your strategy and it's generally worth the feat slot. If you select the Combat Wizard variant (check part I of the wizard guide, it's a variant that trades scribe scroll and your bonus wizard feats for fighter feats), then this feat is the most likely candidate at first level.
- Flyby Attack MM
- Available to you if you can fly, this is greater than mobile spellcasting CV because it does not require a skill check. With this you can easily gain cover (a bonus of +4 to your armor class) by hiding behind an item or an ally (such as a tower shield wielding teammate) and employ hit-and-run tactics. You can even hide behind walls, vegetation and generally take advantage of your surroundings. If used correctly, you can finish your move in such a way, so that you also have concealment, too. Being able to move before you cast a spell is very important, since you can avoid numerous threats that can shut you down, for instance, to avoid attacks of opportunity, to get into a better position; but you might be left in a vulnerable position. Flyby attack enables you to reposition yourself defensively. You can gain this feat pretty early (even from level 1, if you use your Precocious Apprentice on Swift Fly - the feat is from Complete Arcane and the spell from Spell Compendium, or you can grab it by using a similar early access to a fly speed) and those levels is where it really shines, as later your defensive abilities will be high enough to make it obsolete.
- Dragonwrought RotD
- This feat is available to kobolds only and you have to select it as one of your feats at first level. The main benefit is that it changes your type to true dragon, an important fact, because it "unlocks" additional forms when casting polymorph spells. In addition, you retain all your kobold racial traits and gain some additional dragon bonuses. Also you get a bonus on a skill related to your dragon heritage (platinum heritage lists concentration as a related skill, which seems to be the best choice generally). A common use of this feat is to stack the aging benefits, as it is explicitly stated that Dragonwrought Kobolds do not receive aging penalties. Look for alternative kobold subraces, because they might be tailored better to your build (like those from Unearthed Arcana).
- Able Learner RoD
- This feat is very useful to wizards that want to invest in cross-class skills, as it will essentially double those skill points. Note that it is only available to humans. For those that like to dip into a "roguish" class (for instance Rogue, Spellthief, Factotum, etc) this feat is a very nice pick, as if you have a skill as a class skill for a single level, it becomes a class skill for all of your levels. This is because under the Multiclass Characters section in Player's Handbook, it says about class skills that "If a skill is a class skill for any of a multiclass character’s classes, then character level determines a skill’s maximum rank". So without this feat you can continue maxing your skills with the character level + 3 rule, but if the class you're currently gaining levels in doesn't list it as a class skill you have to pay two ranks instead of the usual one. Enter Able Learner which sets the cross-class skill cost at just one rank and voila! if a skill is or has been a class skill for one of your classes, it will always be a class skill from now on, for all your future classes. So what do you do with it? You can play a "roguish" archetype wizard who invests (loses a single caster level most of the times) into multiclassing so that he can fulfill additional roles and have greater versatility with his skill choices (for example maxing Disable Device and Search can make you a competent trapfinder, as most roguish classes offer Trapfinding as a class feature at first level, without having to reserve spell slots for that job; or you can stack on powerful skills like Use Magic Device, Use Psionic Device, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Autohypnosis, etc and get an improved familiar to double your available party members with great skill versatility).
- Enduring Life LM
- Negative levels are a matter of great concern, especially if you're in an undead heavy or undead themed campaign. The penalties that negative levels impose are very draining, especially for spellcasters, as they lose one spell of their highest available level (and they also can memorize or are able to recast one less spell of that level when they regain their spells), which is their main source of power. Negative levels are bad because they deny your answers and you can quickly find yourself unable to act against the monstrosities that impose them. Enduring Life lets you ignore the harmful effects of negative levels for a number of minutes equal to your constitution bonus (which should already be high), a time frame which is more than enough to get by (unfortunately you can't expend your highest level spells so that are available later when you memorize spells again, because the feat postpones the effects of negative levels, it doesn't make them all take effect a couple of minutes later - at least you're not instantly denied your highest level slots). Enduring Life also provides you with a rather large untyped bonus to help you with the saving throw check to remove the negative levels.
- Bloodline of Fire PGtF, [Regional]
- You get +4 bonus on saving throws against fire effects. Moreover you get a +2 bonus to your caster level for spells with the [fire] descriptor. Great starting feat, but you may want to retrain it at higher levels, where immunities are much more common and the caster level boost to blasting spells won't do any difference. Note that only humans and planetouched from Calimshan may select this feat.
- Otherworldly PGtF, [Regional]
- Very good feat that changes your type into native outsider. Unfortunately it's only available to Deep Imaskari, Elves and Spirit Folk. Being an outsider means that you can benefit a lot more by Alter Self, Polymorph line of spells and in addition you gain darkvision and bonuses to diplomacy checks. There are some downsides to being an outsider, because you are not an eligible target for certain beneficial spells (for example Reduce Person and Enlarge Person), but you also gain immunity to spells like Dominate Person, Charm Person, etc. There has been some debate whether by selecting this feat you also receive the Outsider type weapon proficiencies (martial weapon proficiency especially), so that you can qualify easier to prestige classes like Abjurant Champion or Spellsword.
- Craven CoR
- Craven gives a bonus to your sneak attack damage equal to your character levels. Assuming that a single sneak attack die averages 3.5 damage, then with this feat it's like getting 2 sneak attack dies for every 7 levels you acquire (or 1 die for every 3.5 levels if you prefer). Craven is a feat that requires you to have sneak attack, so this is a feat for "roguish" wizards, since they'll probably need a dip to acquire that ability (actually Magelord from Losts Empires of Faerun has a sneak attack progression, but it's very tricky to get in without losing caster levels to meet his requirements). The rules on precision damage when using weaponlike spells (Rules Compendium page 136) say that they are the same, but with a few alternations; the most important of them is that the type of damage changes to the spell's energy type or to extra damage (if that spell deals ability damage or drain) or to negative energy damage (if that spell bestows negative levels). This is not a good thing, since your sneak attack damage can be negated not only by Fortification enhancements and racial types that are anyway immune to it (e.g. Plant, Ooze, Undead, etc), but also from energy immunities and resistances.
- Sickening Strike DotU
- This ambush feat has a small sneak attack requirement and makes targets sickened. What is great about this feat is that it targets living targets (who probably are subject to sneak attack), which if used with a swift action weapon-like spell, can provide you a quick save-less debuff for your next spell, giving you effectively a +2 to its difficulty class.
- Terrifying Strike DotU
- As above, but just two notes. First it can be used to stack fear effects, but it is a mind-affecting effect, which more creatures may be immune to than the sickened condition.
- Bind Vestige ToM
- Gain the ability to bind vestiges as a first level binder. The vestiges that are available to you are limited to Amon, Aym, Leraje, Naberius and Ronove; unfortunately the abilities you receive from these vestiges are worthless, except from Naberius's skills and Ronove's Feather Fall abilities (although the last one is only situationally useful). Bind Vestige though can be upgraded by selecting other feats: Improved Bind Vestige which opens up more vestige options and Practiced Binder which gives another power from your binded vestige. If you just combine Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder you're not getting much more than just Bind Vestige; the best abilities are Leraje's Weapon Proficiency (and only for a few levels, since you won't care for bows after your first few levels of your career, unless you're using it to complete a certain requirement, which is a rather controversial usage) and Naberius's Silver Tongue (which is great if you can advance your skill ranks in Diplomacy or Bluff and act as the party's face - it also enables you to make rushed Diplomacy checks as a standard action at no penalty; it normally requires a full-round action and you get a -10 penalty on your check). If you select Improved Bind Vestige you also get access to Andromalius, Dahlver-Nar, Focalor, Haagenti, Karsus, Malphas, Paimon and Savnok. Dahlver-Nar grants you immunity to wisdom damage, drain, madness, insanity and confusion, but if you also have Practiced Binder you also gain an enhancement bonus to your natural armor equal to one-half your constitution modifier; Focalor has Aura of Sadness, which imposes a -2 penalty to creatures, but unfortunately it only affects adjacent enemies; Karsus is a very good vestige, with a permanent Detect Magic sight and a +2 bonus to the difficulty class of effects from magic items you use; Malphas grants you Poison Use and Bird's Eye Viewing, the first one is straightforward and the second one is a very good scouting ability, assuming you've got the feats to spare.
- Action Surge ECS
- You can gain this feat at level 6, minimum, assuming you're not multiclassing, as it has a base attack bonus requirement of +3. If your campaign uses action points, this is strictly better at earlier levels than Quicken Spell, as you can not only use the extra action to cast another spell, but also move, activate a wand, etc. The downside is that the times you can use Action Surge is limited by the action points you receive at each level (remember that any unspent points from previous levels are lost, so use them!). At later levels, when Quicken Spell and other ways to get bonus spells become available, you can opt to retrain this feat for something else. You can use this in conjunction with the feat Heroic Spirit, a feat that provides you with three bonus action points per level, which you can also retrain later.
- Spontaneous Casting ECS
- This feat would be able to transform you to a sorcerer effectively, but unfortunately each use requires a sacrifice of two action points from your part. The feat is quite good for what it does; granted, you will not be able to use it often, but you can use it if you really need a specific spell. If you are considering Spontaneous Casting, be sure to check the much superior Uncanny Forethought from Exemplars of Evil, a feat that will let you cast spells spontaneously without spending action points (although for a limited amount of slots per day - still a lot more than the times you'll be able to use Spontaneous Casting though).
- Wand Surge MoE
- Very good feat that enables you to activate spell trigger items (i.e. not just wands, despite its name; you can for example use this with staffs, too) without draining a charge from the item; instead, you have to spend an action point to activate it. The point is to find or buy some really expensive spell trigger items (with material and/or experience components - alternatively made with high caster level) that you can activate for free; you can use the action points you receive for the level or effects that create temporary action points (the feat Prophecy's Hero from Magic of Eberron and the spell Unfettered Heroism from Races of Eberron). If you opt to spend some of your skill points in Use Magic Device you can even use wands with spells that are not on your spell list. You can also save lots of gold by buying spell completion items that are not full; it's easier to buy a wand with a 2nd level spell that has a caster level of 20 when it has 5 charges than buy/create one that is fully charged; partially charged wands are mentioned in page 227 of Magic Item Compendium, but there are no clear rules about them. Examples of spells: Create Magic Tattoo, Magic Vestment, Greater Magic Weapon, Hunter's Eye, Divine Power. If you find a way to make Unfettered Heroism persistent, you can also use wands that have small durations, but great effects, all day; for example you can use Assay Spell Resistance, Focusing Chant, Swift Invisibility, Lion's Charge, Rhino's Rush, Spell Enhancer, Wraithstrike. It gets a lot worse if you get a hold of a powerful staff, for example one containing Wish or Limited Wish, as you can pop one every round!
- Blessing of the Godless EoE
- Requires you to be evil, but this feat gives you access to three rituals based on your knowledge(religion) ranks. You can affect yourself and up to five additional allies and each ritual takes 6 minutes to perform and requires unholy water and the dung of an evil creature (disgusting, but it does the job). The most useful ritual is the first one, so you don't even have to boost your knowledge(religion) beyond the required six ranks. The first ceremony gives you and to all affected allies a pool of healing equal to your class level x the number or participants; this will transform you into a very effective healbot outside or combat, since the rite requires only time. In combat, the additional hit points are quite useful, despite the restriction that you can only draw as many hit points as your level each time, it's just an immediate action to do so. Remember that the effects of these ceremonies do not stack (there's nothing in the text suggesting otherwise, on the contrary, it is stated that The effects of each ceremony last for 24 hours unless otherwise noted, however take a look at the [Ceremony] feats description on page 23), you can invest three additional ranks (to a total of 9) to gain +4 morale bonus against spells and spell-like effects with the fear descriptor and on checks made to oppose Intimidate checks. You can also invest three additional ranks (to a total of 12) to gain +4 morale bonus on saving throws against divine spells and damage reduction 5/- against smite attacks; in addition, if a participant is affected by a divine spell (even one from an allied spellcaster!), all participants within 60ft gain +2 morale bonus on attack and damage rolls for 1 round. Note that if your party number is lower than 6, you can use your familiar (or other party companions) as a participant. In addition, while it is a requirement to be evil to use this feat, the other participants don't have to be evil. Remember that each ceremony requires some unholy water to perform; if it's just a small amount, then you're free to spam it as many times per day as you wish - otherwise you'll need to use unholy water vials that cost 25gp each; in that case the uses that provide saving throw bonuses are not that good, but the healing ceremony is very cost effective, if you consider that a wand of lesser vigor costs 750gp and heals a lot less hit points. Finally, this feat is a [vile] feat, a special kind of feats that only intelligent creatures of evil alignment may acquire. However, in the sourcebook Elder Evils on page 10, under Serving Elder Evils it is stated that you can swear service to an elder evil and in turn get one vile bonus feat, plus one bonus vile feat for every five hit dice, so you can use those feats to get Blessing of the Godless.
- Collegiate Wizard CA
- This feat can be found on page 181 of the sourcebook Complete Arcane.
Eschew Materials PHB: This feat will let you cast spells without having to worry about inexpensive material components. Unfortunately most of the times won't come into play and doesn't take care of the expensive components, which most of the times are the ones you care about. Generally it is used when you don't have free hands to use or as a contingency when you don't have access to your component pouch. This feat has been used with a couple of spells to produce weird effects, like the spell Launch Bolt from Spell Compendium, which launches a crossbow bolt, requiring a ranged attack roll to hit. Since it lists the crossbow bolt as a material component, you can employ Eschew Materials to cast launch bolt using a bolt of your choice size-wise, so you can cast a cantrip and launch gargantuan bolts (crossbow bolts cost 1 sp and +1 sp for each size increase, so gargantuan ones cost 8 sp, which is under the 1 gp of free materials you're able to cast with this feat), to do 4d6 points of damage. Another use is casting fabricate to create really cheap things, without having to have access to the materials beforehand, basically conjuring something out of thin air; you could for example visit the astral plane (or any plane that has the timeless trait - assuming you don't have any aging problems) and cast fabricate as many times as you can to generate 1 gold piece each time, making you rich in no time when you come back to the material plane.
Spell Mastery PHB: Get to memorize some spells without having to refer your spellbook equal to your intelligence modifier. This feat is a decent choice if your DM is going after your spellbook a lot and gets better as you gain levels, when you'll have a more buffed intelligence modifier and access to a wider selection of spells. It's a good idea to master one spell of each level, but you're not absolutely obligated to do so; you can memorize lower level spells in higher level spell slots (as per Player's Handbook, page 178, under Spell Slots entry) or you can just use metamagic feats to enhance them, if that's possible. It's also a good idea to master the most versatile of spells, or those that greatly enhance your mobility. For example, great multipurpose spells include Summon Monster X, Shadow Conjuration, Alter Self, Polymorph, Dispel Magic, Shadow Evocation, Minor Creation, Major Creation, etc; spells that enhance your mobility are Dimension Door, Teleport and Plane Shift. Remember that the cost of scribing low level spells into a spellbook is much cheaper than higher ones; thus you can create a new spellbook full of low level spells in a matter of days, so you're better off mastering higher levels spells. As a final note, the faerunian prestige class Magelord from the book Lost Empires of Faerun greatly benefits from mastered spells, as you're able to cast them spontaneously and you also receive additional spells mastered as a special ability.
Spell Focus/Greater PHB: Spell focus gives you a bonus of +1 difficulty class in a school of your choice. They are not particularly good and I'd rank them red, but a large number of popular prestige classes list them as requirements, so sometimes you're stuck with them; for example Archmage prestige class from Dungeon Master's Guide, a great choice to complement your abilities with high arcanas, requires you to have the spell focus feat in two schools of magic. Another prestige that requires the Spell Focus feat is Master Specialist, a great and easy to qualify prestige from Complete Mage that enhances your repertoire with schools-of-magic themed abilities. Although it's difficult to say which school benefits the most by Spell Focus, the safest bet is to pick the Transmutation school. Conjuration is another good choice, especially if you're after Augment Summoning, a great feat for summoner wizards; conjuration doesn't have many spells that offer a saving throw, but those few ones are usually great. Enchantment is also a good candidate school for Spell Focus, full of spells that allow a saving throw. Greater Spell Focus is a much worse that its normal counterpart, considering that the difficulty class boost is just another +1 and it's much less common as a requirement.
Arcane Thesis PHB II: Choose a spell to gain +2 caster level and -1 to the effective spell level adjustment when applying metamagic feats. There exist many metamagic feats with a level adjustment of +0 (Sanctum Spell, Invisible Spell and others), so you could theoretically use Arcane Thesis to memorize a higher level spell in a lower level spell slot, but note that errata exists for this feat and it basically says that a spell cannot be reduced below its original level by using this feat. It also clarifies that the level reduction applies to each metamagic feat you apply to the spell, so you can essentially apply metamagic feats with a level adjustment of +1 and less for free to your thesis spell, except from Heighten Spell. However, these +0 metamagic feats might come handy, according to the way your Dungeon Master handles reductions. For example, let's say a wizard possesses Arcane Thesis(Fireball), Invisible Spell, Sanctum Spell and Empower Spell; he decides that he will memorize an Invisible Sanctum Empowered Fireball - so what's the spell's level? (3 level -1 sanctum -1 invisible +1 empower = 3 because the feat can't reduce below the spell's original level). The caster level boost is great, but the real bonus comes from the metamagic reducers, as shown above, so plan your spell selection accordingly; choose a spell that will benefit from different metamagic feats. Common targets include Mage's Lucubration (to be used with Repeat spell and Twin Spell), Silent Image (especially useful to Shadowcraft Mages), Orb of Force (to be used with Split Ray, Repeat Spell, etc) and similar reliable blasting spells.
Arcane Toughness PHB II: This feat will let you expend a prepared spell when reduced to zero hit points or less and heal an amount equal to the spell level. The trade is obviously bad, since you're healing a very low amount of hit points (imagine spending a level 9 spell for 9 hit points). Not only that, but the feat requires Toughness, which is worthless.
Arcane Consumption PHB II: Arcane Consumption is actually ok, but unfortunately it requires two worthless feats (Toughness and Arcane Toughness), making it bad by assosiation. Note that you can use Azure Toughness instead of the normal counterpart, if Magic of Incarnum is allowed, a much better feat. The difficulty class bonus is once per day only, but +4 flat bonus almost ensures your spell will land. The constitution and fatigue problems can be overcome easily (such as the necropolitan template and ways of becoming immune to fatigue - which won't pose much of a problem anyway).
Spell Penetration/Greater PHB: Spell penetration is one of those feats that are very simple and elegant, yet you must ponder a lot about their usefulness before picking them. A +2 bonus to overcome spell resistance checks is always welcome: remember that spell resistance scales with challenge rating almost linearly (i.e. as challenge rating goes up, so does spell resistance) and in order for you to be a successful wizard you need to actually bypass a monster's resistances at the best of your ability. However note that these feats are easily emulated by different effects; it's decent that they all stack together: you can boost your caster level (Orange Ioun Stone, one of the Archmage prestige class High Arcanas), buy items that explicitly boost your caster level check to overcome spell resistance (Third Eye Penetrate from Magic Item Compendium) or even use different feats (Draconic Aura[Power] - which incidentally will eventually boost your caster level higher than a Spell Penetration feat, assuming the ally that has selected it is Dragonblood). If you want to pick Spell Penetration, first take a look at the spells you're using; for example, a dedicated summoner has little to no use of boosting his chance of bypassing a monster's spell resistance; a dedicated battlefield controller wizard however needs to get his chances up.
Elven Spell Lore PHB II: The bonuses of this feat are twofold: it boosts your caster level check for dispelling by a small unnamed amount and you get to alter the energy type of a spell that you choose when you acquire it. The caster level bonus to Dispel Magic and its greater counterpart needs clarification: both spells have a caster level cap (for example Dispel Magic caps at +10); if Elven Spell Lore is subject to the same cap (and not something like 1d20+your caster level up to 10+2 from this feat) then the bonus is worthless as it comes into play just for level 9 (since Elven Spell Lore requires 12 ranks in a skill, you can't get it before level 9 without shenanigans - and even then you'll have to figure out how to get a bonus feat at level 8). The real bonus of this feat is the ability to change a spell's energy type. Just to clarify that according to the d&d glossary, energy damage is "Damage caused by one of five types of energy (not counting positive and negative energy): acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic.", so you won't be able to change a spell's damage to, say, force or negative. Of course the best energy type is sonic damage, so it's a no-brainer to change the spell's energy to that, unless you know what you're doing.
Vatic Gaze PHB II: The ability to use Detect Magic at will is by itself worth the feat slot, although you are eligible for this feat in mid to high levels, as it requires arcane caster level 9, which means that you can get it at 9th level assuming you haven't missed a spellcasting level (by dipping or prestige choice). In addition you can make a sense motive check (a cross class skill, but the difficulty class of the check is fairly low - 5+the target's caster level) to determine the highest-level spells the target has available for casting, which is a wonderful ability when facing spellcasters. Unfortunately this has no effect for spell-like or supernatural abilities and you don't receive insight about the target's lower level spells, which might include some silver bullets against you.
Arcane Mastery CA:
Extra Slot CA: This feat is used many times in theoretical optimization for really broken stuff (like abusing the feat Planar Touchstone[Catalogues of Enlightenment] to gain high level spell slots, because the high order ability mentions that you cast the spells from the domain "as though you had prepared the spell normally" - or abusing Illumians with Divine Metamagic[Heighten Spell] and Innate Spell). Unless you're going for a dirty trick like those, you're better off ignoring this feat.
Extra Spell CA: This entirely depends on your DM. If you can select a spell from any spell list, this is top quality. Otherwise it is junk. Note that this has been errata'ed.
Innate Spell CA or PGtF: Both versions of the feat have steep requirements and their benefits are narrow compared with what you're giving up. The Complete Arcane version is harder to qualify, but once you give up the spell you're free to cast it at will, while the Player's Guide to Faerun version can only be casted three times per day (although you do give up a spell slot that's of the same level as your innate spell, compared with the eight levels higher version of Complete Arcane). The Player's Guide to Faerun version of the spell is also easier to be optimized without dirty tricks, since you're just losing one spell slot to cast a single spell three times, if that spell is a good one or your bread and butter skill (spells like Summon Monster, Polymorph, Alter Self, Shadow Conjuration, etc) you won't have any trouble for giving up a spell slot, plus you can always grab additional Innate Spells. The Complete Arcane version requires tricky uses of obscure sources (like the tricks mentioned in Extra Slot above, or getting extra 'temporary' spell slots to trade to Innate Spell by abusing the metamagic feats Echoing Spell from Secret's of Xen'Drik and Repeat Spell).
Practiced Spellcaster CA: Very good for multiclass wizards or those spellcasters that lose spellcasting levels. This won't give you the spells known and earlier access to higher level spells, but at least it makes up for your lost caster levels. If your party includes a bard that has access to the Inspire Greatness song, you can also spend a feat on Practiced Spellcaster because it's a great way of buffing your caster level and it's especially useful during your buffing routine. This is because Inspire Greatness has the unique ability of giving a bonus of two temporary hit dies to the subjects affected, so Practiced Spellcaster comes into effect, since your HD are actually higher now, providing you with at least two bonus caster levels (potentially more if the bard has access to Song of the Heart and/or Words of Creation).
Ranged Spell/Touch Spell Specialization CA: These feats boost your damage dealt with the appropriate spells. You should only consider them if they are applicable to spells that deal ability damage, not hit point damage and even then the damage bonus is mild.
Extraordinary Concentration CV: Duration: concentration spells usually create powerful effects, but as long as you're concentrating on them you're unable to cast any other spells that have a casting time of a standard action and higher. With Extraordinary Concentration you can bypass that inability and concentrate on your spell as a move or even a swift action, assuming your concentration check is high enough. However note that you can't concentrate on multiple spells just by virtue of this feat; casting spells normally is fair game though. You can 'cast' as many as three spells per round, assuming you're concentrating as a move action and then cast two more spells with your swift and standard actions (many spells have an immediate or swift action casting time or you can just apply the feat Quicken Spell). If you want to use multiple duration: concentration spells, you can also use the spell Sonorous Hum from Spell Compendium which explicitly states that you are able to maintain two spells that require concentration. In addition, there's the skill trick Swift Concentration from Complete Scoundrel that does the same job as Extraordinary Concentration (a trick which incidentaly all spellcasters should pick), but only for a single round. This feat requires 15 ranks in the concentration skill, so you can pick it from level 12 onwards, which is mid to high levels; however you can easily qualify for the feat, as it requires ranks in a skill that you should max out anyway.
Extraordinary Spell Aim CV: Whenever you cast an area spell, you can shape the spell's area so that one creature within the area is unaffected by the spell. You need to succeed on a spellcraft check with a rather high difficulty class (25+spell level), but on the other hand the feat has 15 ranks of spellcraft as a requirement (which is not bad at all - you need to max out spellcraft as a spellcaster) and in addition with your intelligence and other bonuses (like, say, the synergy bonus of Knowledge[Arcana]) you can almost always auto-succeed on this check. This feat is like (Minor) Mastery of Shaping, the special ability that you gain by getting levels in the Archmage prestige class, without all the pesky requirements (like two Spell Focuses and Skill Focus, etc). The feat was obviously designed with instantaneous effects in mind, like blasts: Fireball, Cone of Cold, etc; however, RAW suggests that spells that will stay in effect for a number of rounds, do not affect the creature that was enhanced by this feat, not only if he stays in place, but also if he moves in the spell's area (actually this is an improvement over Archmage's ability Mastery of Shaping). You can use this so that you're unaffected by powerful effects, such as your personal Antimagic Field, (which, by the way, is considered a very cheesy application of the feat); or you could cast Black Tentacles defensively by excluding yourself from the spell's area and casting it right below your feet.
Mobile Spellcasting CV:
Alacritous Cogitation CM:
Cloudy Conjuration CM: Requires Spell Focus(Conjuration), unless you're a specialist conjurer. If you're a specialist conjurer, you'll probably want to cast the Summon Monster line of spells, so you'll also want to grab Augment Summoning as a feat to buff your summons; on the other hand, Augment Summoning requires Spell Focus(Conjuration), so Cloudy Conjuration's waved requirement for conjurers only applies to their subset: those conjurers that ignore Augment Summoning completely or those who somehow gain it by other means (such as through Domain Granted Power). This feat's bonus is very good, as that little cloud (covers 4 squares) means that your targets instantly get a -2 penalty to their attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saves, skill checks and ability checks; in addition the cloud works just like a Fog Cloud spell, but with a duration of just one round. For those that are not aware of the spell, Fog Cloud is a very good low level area spell that obscures all vision beyond 5ft, is unaffected by spell resistance and does not allow a saving throw. You can use Cloudy Conjuration next to you (obviously you shouldn't be in the cloud - try to move behind it) to gain concealment (most of the times total concealment - which is a 50% miss chance) or catch enemies that are sight-dependent within the cloud to apply your penalties (penalties both from the sickened condition and the miss chance from Fog Cloud). Remember that even if the creature is immune to poison, it may be immune to the sickened effect, but it is not immune to the miss chance and the sight obscuration of Fog Cloud. Remember that if you are a specialist conjurer you can also gain Cloudy Conjuration as a wizard bonus feat.
Dazzling Illusion CM:
Energy Abjuration CM:
Favored Magic Foe CM: Choose a creature type and gain spellcasting related favored enemy bonuses to overcome damage reduction and bestow penalties against your spells to them. Not terrible, but very situational; you're getting 1/2 of Spell Penetration and a global Spell Focus for your spells versus the chosen creature type. If you're in a campaign that features multiple creatures of a specific type, consider getting this; the best types probably are Humanoid(any) and Outsider(any), as they are both pretty broad categories.
Fearsome Necromancy CM:
Insightful Divination CM:
Metamagic School Focus CM:
Piercing Evocation CM:
Toughening Transmutation CM:
Unsettling Enchantment CM:
Master Spellthief CS: In case of roguish wizards this feat helps a great deal, so if you're opting to play one, you should consider getting Spellthief from Complete Adventurer as your roguish class, just for this feat. First of all your arcane caster level for all arcane spells is equal to your spellthief and all your arcane spellcasting levels; for example a Spellthief 1/Wizard 19 build has CL 20 for wizard spells; a Spellthief 1/Sorcerer 1/Wizard 18 build has CL 20 for wizard and sorcerer spells; if that last build would take Practiced Spellcaster[Sorcerer] somewhere during his carrer, he would have 18(Wizard)+5(Sorcerer)+1(Spellthief) = CL 24 for all his arcane spells. As you can understand, this can quickly get out of hand and give you enormous amounts of caster level, even in builds that don't over-multilcass, but are able to boost their caster level via feats, races or other abilities; for example, a Spellthief 1/Wizard 5/Knight of the Weave 1/Ultimate Magus 10/Prestige 3 (requires Spontaneous Divination to enter and you can get Incantatrix from Player's Guide to Faerun as your filler prestige class) has a caster level of 22(Wizard)+1(Spellthief)+34(Knight of the Weave) = 57! due to the way Knights of the Weave get their caster level (it's equal to their level plus any other arcane caster levels you may have) and because Ultimate Magus give a caster level bonus to all arcane classes (+4 at max). Another prestige class that boosts caster level and has useful abilities is Abjurant Champion (their 5th level ability works based on your base attack bonus - so you can dip an arcane class, say, Duskblade for the extra BAB, and apply Abjurant Champion's ability on that class). In addition you do not incur arcane spell failure from arcane spells, but only if you are wearing light armor. Finally, Spellthief's ability to steal spells stacks with your levels in arcane spellcaster classes; however, your ability to store the stolen spells remains equal to your spellthief levels, so you'll be able to steal and store low-level spells (assuming your Spellthief level is 1 - which it should - only 0-level and 1st level); you can use low level spells from other classes that are useful though.
Spell Reprieve LEoF: Not actually that good, since it only affects only a single spell. However there are schools that have signature or unique spells that cannot be duplicated by other spells or effects; you can use this feat to gain them back. Spells like Dispel Magic, Protection from X, Silent Image, Charm X, Dominate X, Gust of Wind, Spectral Hand, Explosive Runes, Magic Circle vs X, Wind Wall, Vampiric Touch, Dimensional Anchor, Otiluke's Resilient Sphere, Animate Dead, Dismissal, Antimagic Field, Contingency, Create Undead, Banishment, Sequester, Forcecage, Antimagic Ray, Dimensional Lock, Mind Blank, Clone
Desert Wind has tumble. The Desert Wind maneuver Distracting Ember can be used to flank an enemy, but it's probably only useful to you (as it stays around until the end of your turn); Wind Stride is a 10ft speed boost as a swift action with no type (so it stacks with other speed boosters) to your land speed. You can also use Martial Spirit to get the Flame's Blessing stance, which grants you resistance to fire based on your ranks in tumble; it eventually grants you immunity (at level 16, assuming max ranks), however there are lots of different spells that can immitate this ability (for instance Energy Immunity from Spell Compendium). A higher level maneuver that can be useful is Zephyr Dance, which grants you a +4 dodge bonus (however against only a single attack); useful as an additional protection against ray spells (and spells that require ranged touch attacks).
Devoted Spirit has intimidate. Devoted Spirit has some healing maneuvers like Crusader's Strike, but it requires a melee attack to trigger and besides, it only heals for 1d6+your initiator level (which is 1/2 your levels); it's probably your only choice from this discipline, unless you prefer Vanguard Strike, which also requires a melee attack, but probably gets better as you gain levels; both abilities have a very high risk, since you have to be in melee range with your opponents. You can use Martial Stance to gain the Martial Spirit stance, which heals you or a teammate 2 hit points every time you successfully heal in melee combat; combined with the Polymorph spell (or one of his relatives) and a form that has a high number of melee attacks (Hydras come to mind) this stance is going to emulate fast healing.
Diamond Mind has concentration. The assosiated skill of Diamond Mind may be concentration (ergo you don't gain any benefit), but it has some interesting saving throw-related maneuvers, like Moment of Perfect Mind (use your concentration check instead of a will save), which is good in two ways: first, you can't critical miss this check (since it's a skill check you can't automatically miss) and second your concentration check is probably a lot higher than your will save, especially at higher levels. Higher level maneuvers Action Before Thought and Mind Over Body are very good picks, even more so than Moment of Perfect Mind, since they are going to help your two bad saves.
Iron Heart has balance. Iron Heart does not have maneuvers you can use, but they can be used as prerequisites to higher maneuvers or if you want balance as a class skill. If you even consider getting a first level maneuver it's going to be for fulfilling the requirements of Iron Heart Surge, possible the best panic button in the whole 3.5 d&d edition, that is able to remove almost all conditions affecting you.
Setting Sun has sense motive. Setting Sun has Counter Charge and Mighty Throw; they can be useful, especially if your dexterity score is high enough. You can also grab Giant Killing Style with Martial Stance, assuming that the damage bonus applies to your spells (because getting a +2 bonus to attacks at level 10 with a feat is worthless) and especially spells that deal ability damage; consult your dungeon master.
Shadow Hand has hide. Shadow Hand has the same problem with Iron Heart: this discipline's low level maneuvers are not suitable for a wizard, but there are higher level maneuvers that can benefit you greatly. Shadow Hand also has probably the best roguish wizard stance, Assassin's Stance, which gives you two sneak attack dice, great for fulfilling prestige class requirements and to use with your weaponlike spells. Other high level abilities include Cloak of Deception, a 2nd level boost that grants you improved invisibility for a single round and Shadow Jaunt, a teleportation effect.
Stone Dragon has balance. Stone Dragon has the Iron Bones maneuver, which is a great defensive ability (you gain 5/adamantine damage reduction for 1 round as a swift action - if you know that you're going to be hit, you can just use it; especially at low levels).
Tiger Claw has jump. Tiger Claw has Sudden Leap, which is swift action movement, assuming your jump check is decent. From stances, this discipline features Hunter's Sense, a stance that grants you scent.
White Raven has diplomacy. White Raven has the Douse the Flames and Leading the Attack maneuvers, but only useful at low levels, since you need to use them at melee range. White Raven has the Leading the Charge maneuver: all allies within 60ft that hear you gain a bonus equal to your initiator level (or one-half your level) on their damage rolls when they charge; this is a huge boost to allies or summoned creatures with lots of attacks and a pounce ability when they charge. The single higher level ability you should get if you choose this discipline is White Raven Tactics: extra actions are invaluable and you can initiate this as a swift action; whether you can or can't target yourself (it lists target: one ally) you should get this and target allied spellcasters with it.
Augment Summoning PHB:
Icy Calling Frostburn: Only useful in cold environments. If you call cold creatures they get increased benefits. Unfortunately, this feat gets even worse since the attribute bonuses are enhancement.
Celestial/Fiendish Summoning Specialist PlH: Add one appropriately aligned creature to the list of creatures for each summon monster spell that you can cast. When you gain a new level of a Summon Monster
Corpsecrafter & COLM:
Necromantic Presence LM: Undead creatures you control get a +4 bonus on their turn resistance. You can just grab the bolster resistance feat and fortify your undead without being within 60ft of you. However this does opens up a nice little feat.
Necromantic Might LM: Undead you control within 60ft of you get a +2 enhancement bonus on their attack rolls and saving throws.
Master of Undeath CM: Control an undead creature for some days, beyond your normal limit of controlled undead creatures. It's great and after the duration ends you can employ spells like control undead. Nice addition to a necromancer build, assuming you intend to take advantage of your undead hit die limit.
Wizards receive a low amount of skill points per level. However if you consider that most wizards have a starting intelligence of 15-16+ they easily get 5+ skill points when they level up. They aren't exactly skill monkeys, but they can max out several useful skills.
Concentration: This skill makes you able to avoid losing spells to stressful situations, enables you to cast defensively and even cast spells with somatic components when grappled (this mode appears in the Epic Level Handbook and you may not be able to utilize it). Of course, theoretically, it would be best that you wouldn't have to make concentration rolls in the first place, but spending one skill point per level for a skill that might enable you to use your spells is a small price to pay and might make some difference. In addition, a great deal of prestige classes require some ranks in this skill.
- Slumber Sand SS, DC 12
- It's like scrolls of Sleep that are a little bit more powerful and can be used by anyone. It's expensive for what it does, so only use sparringly - it's useful for the first two levels anyway.
- Bitterleaf Oil RotD, DC 15
- These oils will help you heal up at a very slow rate - they cost 25gp, but they're good for 10 applications each time. I'm assuming here that they don't only work for kobolds - probably other races can use them and take advantage of their healing powers. For the first few levels, if you don't have a source that is able to heal large amounts of hit point damage, you can use this oil. It's very cost effective if you craft it - each bottle can be used multiple times and each application heals 1 to 5 hit points, so that's 10 to 50 hit points healed at a cost of 25/3 = 8.333 gp, which results to 0.833 to 0.166 healing ratio (gp/hp healed); compared to the 1.363 ratio that the wand of lesser vigor has it's superior, but unfortunately it can be used only every time you rest.
- Forger's Paper CS, DC 20
- The forgery skill is resisted only by forgery; characters that possess forgery are rare and if you only take some ranks in it your checks will be unbeatable, thus only 'light' skill optimization is needed. Forger's paper is a very handy item that will boost your forgery check result by 2, at a very low cost (10gp, which is 1/3rd that if you choose to craft it yourself). It also stacks with a forgery kit.
- Alchemical Flare Stake EtCR, DC 20
- If you're in a campaign that deals with corporeal undead, this is an extremely potent weapon for the first few levels; you can only use this once, as it is consumed after a successful attack, but after you embed it in a corporeal undead creature's body, it deals 1d6 damage per round (the effect has no maximum number of rounds), but the creature can dislodge all stakes with a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. The flares are treated like daggers for proficiency purposes (so the wizard class is proficient in them), but it's unclear whether they can be thrown or not; obviously attacking with them from a distance is superior to a class like the wizard.
- Ironthorn Extract SS, DC 20
- Very good substance that can be used in a variety of situations. Its main purpose is to stiffen items, so you can use it to make delicate items harder and containers waterproof; mechanically, if you apply the extract to your clothing, you get a +1 armor bonus to AC, but as written, it can only enhance normal clothing - leather armors get better hardness and hit points. If you're not wearing armor, for whatever reason, this is a very cheap way of getting a mild boost, just to round up your character and give some "finishing touches".
- Atramen Oil PlH, DC 20
- Bingo! As a ranged touch attack (your familiar can deliver it, too!) you get a powerful effect that imposes a -4 penalty to fort saves for 1 minute to your target and -1 to anyone within 5ft of the point where the flask hits. Needless to say, this is a very powerful effect, since it does not allow a save to avoid, for just 16.6 gp a use if you craft it yourself. If you plan on specializing on save-or-die or save-or-suck spells, don't pass on this.
- Antitoxin PHB, DC 20
- Nothing fancy here - it's a +5 alchemical bonus for 1 hour to saving throws against poison. It costs 16.6 per dose if you craft it yourself and it's useful if you know that you're going to encounter an enemy that employs poison attacks. It's just alright and it's very cheap to keep some doses around, just in case.
- Endurance Elixir CS, DC 20
- This is a very cheap substance (just 8.3 gp a pop) that might prove useful when in extreme hot or cold environments. The duration is long (12 hours) and the bonus quite generous (+4 alchemical).
- Tanglefoot Bag PHB, DC 25
- These would be perfect if they weren't so heavy. The key point to this item is that it is relatively cheap, at 16.6 gp, and it almost always works, as (at least according to how I read the item description) the saving throw affects whether the creature is glued to the floor or not. This item is good because the Entangle spell is good - debuffing without a saving throw or a way to be immune to the effect is important, especially since you can hand these to your teammates (or your familiar) and save actions.
- Auran Mask CM, DC 25
- This mask-like alchemical item lasts for an hour and provides a +5 circumstance bonus against inhaled toxins (which stacks with antitoxin!). If you're underground, you're getting 10 minutes of water-breathing. The item costs 60gp normally, so if you craft it you can easily make one for each party member without investing large amounts of gold.
- Noxius Smokestick ECS, DC 25
- Pretty good item at early levels, when you're most likely to encounter creatures that are not immune to being nausated and they have pretty low fortitude saves, as that 15 DC isn't going to stay strong for a long time. Especially good if you're immune to being nausated yourself, like, say, playing a Warforged.
- Thistledown Padded RotW, DC 15: +1 AC, 10 max dex, 0% ACF, 0 ACP, 405 gp: many weeks of downtime is required to craft this item yourself and probably you won't make it during a normal game (assuming your craft armorsmithing bonus is around 6), but it's fairly easy to do it with a small bonus (4 from ranks, 4 from Int bonus, 2 from familiar's aid another and 2 from masterwork tools racks up to 12 bonus), so you can easily convince your DM that you have crafted it yourself earlier in your career. If you want a cheap armor that you will be able to put armor and spell enhancements on, this is a very good choice, with no downsides (aside from not being able to wear robes).
Drawing 0 or 1 rank: Required for creating magical tattoos.
Painting 0 or 1 rank: Required for creating magical tattoos.
Calligraphy 0 or 1 rank: Required for creating magical tattoos.
Basketweaving 1 rank: Because it's the most broken thing in the universe. One rank will do. If you want to add more don't say you haven't been warned.
Poisonmaking 1+ ranks: You can employ poisons to your benefit early in your carreer and crafting them cuts the costs down to one sixth. For an extensive guide on poisons and poisonmaking, check this guide.
Musical Combosition 0 or 1 rank: Quite cute, you can create songs, plays and even symphonies!
Writing 0 or 1 rank: As above but with poems, novels, reference books.
Decipher Script: Nice skill, but you can always use your spells to duplicate it. No need to spend skill points in this one.
Knowledge: Now this is something important. Intelligence will be one of your highest attributes and knowledges provide useful information on your opponents. The best course of action is for the party to split the various knowledges that creature types are related to. However since you have the skill points to spend, you can take quite a few. Consult the chart below for creature types and areas of knowledge relation:
Arcana: Constructs, Dragons, Magical Beasts.
Dungeoneering: Aberrations, Oozes.
Local: Humanoids (Native local humanoids probably)
Nature: Animals, Fey, Giants, Monstrous Humanoids, Plants, Vermin.
Planes: Outsiders, Elementals.
As you can see, the nature area of knowledge provides tremendous amount of information on creatures. A close second is Arcana, which every wizard should have, since it's the area related to his own profession. Knowledge on the planes offers quite a few information, since outsiders are a pretty large category. Knowledge on religion area is quited limited, but no one can neglect undead.
Profession: I'd dump this. You can gain a lot more by selling your spells or crafting stuff. Also wisdom isn't actually important to you.
Spellcraft: This is one of the skills you would like to max out. Its applications are many and help identifying opponent's magical defenses, counterspelling, following tracks, learning new spells, identify potions and generally understand magical effects. Every wizard should possess this.