Q: Dear Sage
Can a character use a psi-like ability to qualify for a prestige class that requires: a) the ability to manifest a particular psionic power, b) the ability to manifest psionic powers of a particular level, or c) a manifester level?
A: A) Yes, B) no, and C) yes.
Expanded Psionics Handbook doesn’t clearly describe how psi-like abilities interact with game prerequisites. However, the discussion of spell-like abilities on page 72 of Complete Arcane provides a useful precedent:
“[S]pell-like abilities that generate the relevant effect meet the requirements for specific spell knowledge.”
Thus, a psi-like ability allows you to qualify for a prestige class that requires the ability to manifest that power.
“[R]equirements for feats and prestige classes based on specific levels of spells cast… cannot be met by spell-like abilities.”
Simply having the ability to manifest a 5th-level psi-like power doesn’t meet the requirement of being able to manifest 5th-level psionic powers.
“For feats or prestige classes requiring a minimum caster level, creatures that use spell-like abilities… instead of spells use…their fixed caster level… to determine qualification.”
A psionic mind flayer has a manifester level of 9th, so it would meet any prerequisite that required manifester level 9th.
About the Author
The Sage is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. Debate continues as to whether he is truly a bear or more related to the raccoon rather than the bear, or perhaps in a family of his own. When not eating bamboo and answering rules questions, he works under the nom de plume of Andy Collins as an RPG developer in Wizards of the Coast R&D, where his development credits include Complete Mage, Dragon Magic, and the Player's Handbook v.3.5. He can be easily recognized by his large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears and on his rotund body.