I have a character who is interested in increasing their size, but relies on Dexterity and so does not want to take penalties to that in the process. Are there any options for doing so? Shapechanging is generally out, because I need to keep the attributes of my own form.
The character in question has 10 levels of the ninja class from Complete Adventurer, using the water ninja variant class features from Dragon vol. 354. Since 10 levels are dedicated to this class, this limits other options. Righteous might is the one option I’m aware of with no Dexterity penalty, but a 10th-level ninja/9th-level cleric seems like a painful combination to me, and 19th level is a long way to wait for just one size increase.
The other option is mountain rage, which also has no penalty. However, since you have to be a goliath to get it, and they do have a penalty to Dexterity, that doesn’t help very much. Arguably, ferocity could counteract that, and there is technically the option of the stoneblessed prestige class from Races of Stone to count as a goliath, but stoneblessed is three levels of nearly-nothing for the privilege, and while ferocity might be good if I’m investing in it I’d want to keep all of that bonus.
Finally, since for a moment I thought it might, let me note that half-minotaur doesn’t work here: while it doesn’t apply a Dexterity penalty in its Abilities rules, the Size and Type rules tell you to “See Table 4–2: Changes to Statistics by Size in the Monster Manual for changes to the base creature when it gains a size category. The changes in this template are in addition to the changes outlined there.” Table 4–2 would be this one, and it does apply a Dexterity penalty for almost-all size increases (unless I’m already Huge, which is not a size I expect to reach ever, and certainly not at 1st level). Most player-available size changes don’t use those rules (those were initially just for size changes when advancing monsters), which gives us some hope, but half-minotaur specifically invokes them.
Effects that grant Strength bonuses are acceptable, but most Strength bonuses are costly, so expensive options whose value is supposed to come from a Strength bonus are not great. What I’d really, really like to see is some option that allows me to swap the Strength bonus to Dexterity, or barring that, something that just says “You don’t take Dexterity penalties for increasing your size,” which would enable me to seek any size bonus I want here.
Any 3.5e content (including 3.5e-legal 3.0e content) that is published by Wizards of the Coast or in Dragon or Dungeon magazine, as well as Pathfinder content produced by Paizo, is acceptable, with the exceptions of epic and/or mythic material, and anything with a level adjustment greater than +1 (and even a +1 is something I’d really like to avoid). Please note sources, and also note if there is a conflict between 3.5e and Pathfinder on a given option—for instance, Pathfinder-style shapechanging might work, but that conflicts with 3.5e. We’re generally favoring 3.5e here, but a case can be made for specific Pathfinder items ported.