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Creating a Game
DMing a game at RPG Crossing follows all of the same guidelines and rules stated in the Dungeon Master's Guide, except that you are on a PbP forum with special tools to help make running your game easier.

You've had a creative brainstorm, or have found a module you'd really like to run--Great! You've figured out how the plot's going to go, what the setting will be, and how you'll run the game as far as player numbers and party composition. Right on! Now, make sure you know what kinds of games get approved here--read the FAQ item on this, if you haven't already. OK, the first thing you'll most likely want to do is

Apply for your game.

Eventually, you'll get a PM to say you've been approved! Now that you have a forum and players, you need to give them information about your game, and organize how your game board will function. You must create

Folders, Thread Categories and Stickies.

Folders: Let's say that you know that you're going to have many game threads, for your game will be fast-paced and have many chapters. Let's also say that you know you'll need a lot of information threads, you've REALLY worked hard on your setting. Folders can help you organize all of this more easily, so that you don't have many pages of threads to look through. Sounds good? It is. But as it stands now, only Community Supporters, or members who meet certain requirements for length of membership on the site, can have folders. If you have access to them, all your folder options are located in the Dungeon Master Control Panel or Manage Folders under the Game Tools drop-down menu.

Thread Categories: Two things to know about these. 1) Players expect to see threads categorized, so they know what to post where. Game Thread, OOC, Info, etc. Yes, the title of your thread will help, but so will giving it a category. 2) You can change the names of categories, and add categories, to games you're the DM of. Click the Manage Categories button towards the bottom of the Game Tools drop-down and follow the instructions.
Now your categories will make threads easier to find!

Stickies: can help keep important information visible in the forum view no matter what. Stickies will always be at the top of the thread listing. They are useful for game announcements and important information threads. To make a thread a Sticky, check the option: Stick Thread when creating it, or go into Edit Thread and stick the thread from there.

Now important threads will always stay on top and be visible!

Now that you've organized your game, it's time to get to playing! But wait; the party isn't together yet? Don't want them to be able to see what happens to others, or just want to keep game notes on the board? No problem, you can use

Private Threads

When creating or editing the thread, you'll see a text box where you're able to add the names of players to whom the selected option will apply. (Note that this doesn't work at all for those rare players with apostrophes in their names.) Follow the instructions there to disallow certain players from viewing the thread, or to make it so that only selected players can view it.

Great! Now you're playing and you've just gotten to your fist combat. Uh-oh! You want to use an image to show what's going on. This is quite simple to achieve with

Attachments

Attachments can be added to a post when you're initially creating it, or when you're editing it. But wait, not all images are good for uploading; some are too large, or will take too long to load. That's why we have our Guide to Internet-Friendly Image Formatting


FURTHERMORE...

Please be aware that we also have DM Mentors (DMMs) who offer their time and considerable expertise to help you, the new-to-PbP-DM, get your feet under you, set your imagination free, and create a fun, memorable experience for your players. The DMMs can help with the following kinds of things:

~> the basics of administering the rules
~> choosing a campaign setting and starting level
~> fleshing out your ideas to create a fun, manageable game
~> how to keep players interested and involved
~> style and mechanics of posting, combat and more!

And don't forget to avail yourself of our DM Screen forum, where you can freely plot against your hapless PCs with the aid of some of the more devious game masters on the site.

So get out there and have a great time!

Game Creation - Example Descriptions
The below description gives players a good flavor for the setting and the adventure, without being overlong. It lays out the rules and explains what the DM expects for character submission and posting. This DM has thought about the game and how he wants to run it, making for a sound overall application.


Requested by: [username]
Game: Eberron
Title: Tales of Thrane
Game Description: 3.5 Eberron Tales of Eberron – A New Hero

The Last War has ended and the country of Thrane is in a position of change. Through aggressive economic, theological, and political expansion, Thrane has grown and opportunities are endless to succeed in this new land.

The Keeper of the Flame, Jaela Daran, has addressed that “In order to maintain this growth we must have leaders who will lead by example such as, Quintus Allard. The Council of Cardinals agrees with my vision. Thrane will lead Khorvaire into a prosperous future. No longer will we be harassed by other nations, or at the begging steps of the houses…We must seize the opportunity presented to us and bring order and spread the faith of the Silver Flame…Through our conviction and determination…We will succeed!”

Needless to say, Jaela’s inspiring speech drew the attention of many… Adventurers begin to flock to Thrane in hopes of seeking fame, glory and treasure as promised…

As you travel by lightning rail to the town of Athandra, the once blue skies you remember ripple now with thunder, lightning and rain as dark clouds encompass the land. As you gaze out the window your eyes fail to pierce the darkness as the rain begins to get heavier and heavier...almost unnaturally... The train pulls into Athandra a few minutes later...A mass of people disembark and get on/off the train. Many people mumur about their business in a nearby marketplace...As you all seek shelter under a tent you overhear various merchants citing that this is the worst storm that Athandra has ever come across...As the cold damp water continues to pour from the skies, your soaked gear and equipment feel cold to the touch and just that much heavier...a shiver runs down your spine as you doubt why you have ever come to Thrane at all...

Party group: 1 PCs
Starting Level: 2 - 1500 xp
GP: Standard
Stats: 2d6+6
Alignment: Non-Evil
Dieties: Standard Eberron
Classes: Standard Eberron and Core 3.5 Books
HP: Max HP 1st level + con and roll for 2nd level
Action Points: Standard

XP is awarded by group encounter...you'll be given XP whenever there is a suitable place to level up ie. town to train etc. You're not going to be in a dungeon and all of a sudden oo I know how to do maximize fireball now....just doesn't work that way with me. Psionics are permitted they are part of eberron and I do have the expanded psionics book. I rule psionics just like magic though...so a dispel psionics will dispel your +1 sword etc.

Background: I would like some sort of background of your character. Doesn't have to be uber detailed (ie. 2-3 pages) but something along the lines of 7-9 sentences would be good. I do often take notice of a few things from backgrounds and implment them into story development. The more possible adventure hooks in the background the better as it makes the job for a DM much easier.

Other Information: Everyone should be familiar with Eberron, I can post a pic of the map of Thrane if need be. I plan to keep this sesssion in Thrane but later on the party might move about into the other nations. Feel free to contact me below, I'm on MSN quite often more so than AIM. DM's time zone is Eastern Standard Time. I do require that PCs post 1/day on weekdays (weekends we all have lives so feel free to just chill) or notify me in advance that you'll be on vacation or something so I can NPC your character.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The description below is exceptionally well thought-out, in terms of setting, gameplay, and what's needed from players to submit an application. Your description need not be this lengthy. But this one does tend to show the DM is committed to a long-running game in a new and different world.

What is Anthor?
Anthor is a new world I'm working on. I think a brief history would be in place:

It was boring. We were just three at the beginning, floating around in the everlasting darkness, playing with the matter of being. It was interesting at first, of course, when it was all very new to us, but it was soon so routine we were in desperate need for something else to do.

For endless years, I do not know how many because we never bothered to count, we grew steadily stronger, as we kept doing the same things over and over again. It was always the same. Moving some matter closer to some more matter, looking at it touch and then slowly separate. Ah, the despair!

And then, after years of attempts, the matter suddenly stopped separating. Invigorated, we began piling matter as quick as we could, so that in just a few millions of human years we managed to create what is now called Anthor.

But we were young and innocent at the time. The process of matter piling was flawed, and there were suddenly other creatures coming to existence, albeit they were much weaker than we are. They were green and brown in color, and they couldn't move like us. These creatures grew out of the matter and were anchored to it, creating their own piles of matter, slowly becoming larger and larger. It looked as if they had creation powers like us, but much weaker and seemingly uncontrollable by them. Those were what you know these days as plants.

From these creatures that we created, more creatures began to evolve. As parts of the piles of matter these creatures were consisted of fell off, they began changing. The matter was changing itself! Amazing! There were now moving creatures. These piles of matter were independent and were not connected to the ground like their predecessors.

And here you are in front of me, my once loyal servants. You are the most developed form that piles of matter have come to take. We helped the piles in some manner, or you wouldn't have had the powers that you currently possess and use to rule the races of Anthor. I beg of you, do not make this mistake. Do not lock us out of our own creation!

--The words of The Anthorian Lord, moments before the banishment of himself and his two companions was completed.

General Info

The Current Situation in Anthor
The humans have existed for nearly 20,000 years, and Anthor has existed for just over 2 million. The Anthorian Lord and his companions were banished only fifty and a hundred years ago, as a result of their decision to stop the matter from evolving any further. The matter continues to grow in it's normal pace, but it does not change itself as it used to. It might evolve into sub-types of its previous self, but it may not create something new. And so, Anthor has come to a halt.

The humans have lived for ages in a small part of Anthor, though their population has been far too large compared to the amount of room they have for over a millennium. They've managed to build surprisingly high buildings in the last few years, but it is not enough. Small scale wars have begun erupting spontaneously between various tribes, and the tension is high. There is a plan for mass cultivation to take place soon. Now that the matter has stopped evolving, there are no more unknown dangers in the wilderness.

Most of the humans are still too afraid to leave the confines of their small territory, but a small group of brave ones, maybe no larger than five, can do the job well with the right tools. Who will they be?

Time Flow on Anthor
The time flow on Anthor is not uniform. It depends on the density of matter in a given place. The reason for this phenomenon is that the manner which the Lord of Anthor and his companions used to pile matter was flawed. As the density of the matter becomes lower, the time flow becomes faster, because the matter has less and less control on the movement of time. In low density areas, the matter is weak, and the time flow can become up to a thousand times as faster as in the higher density areas.

The humans on Anthor live in an area with one of the lowest matter densities. That is the reason their life spans are relatively short: they live only 150 years on average rather than the 120,000 years of average lifetime for the Rulers of Power (gods) who live at the center of Anthor, which has the highest matter density. Just kidding. Those are the exception, aren't they? But, the average lifespan on Anthor is around 2,000 years (partially because most of the low density areas aren't settled).

The Kind of Players I'm Looking For
1. One post per day.
2. Very extremely elaborate descriptions which will make me scratch my head in order to figure them out. For short, I want long and detailed posts.
3. Players that can show me examples of previous roleplay.
4. Creative players that can think up cool stuff for their characters.


Level: 25th - this is a game that makes use of the epic handbook (which you must have in order to play).
Races Allowed: Human only (for obvious reasons. There are other races, but they are small in numbers and have nothing to do with the adventure).
Classes: Sorcerer, Cleric (domains and god information on game board, later on. If this restricts your background, let me know), Fighter, Monk, Ranger (very rare. There should be a good reason for being one in the background).
Starting Gold: Completely irrelevant. You get one +7 equivalent magic item and one +9 (or two +4 and one +8). In addition, you receive one masterwork weapon and a mount with +2 magical armor (preferably something exotic... ;) ). You may also choose a light or medium armor if you don't take a magical one.
Prestige Classes: Allowed up to 5th level (for beginning characters). Every prestige class (including DMG) requires prior approval.
Ability Scores: 24, 22, 20, 16, 14, 10 to distribute among your abilities as you see fit. 2:1 conversion system.
Alignment: Pure Neutral.
Mounts: Mentioned above.
Recommended Favored Enemy: More to come about this later.
Known Languages: Karadium (the noble dialect) and Haradium (the peasant dialect). These are only usable within the human community or amongst yourselves.
Speed: Will affect combat movement. A speed of 20 is a disadvantage.
Dice Rolls: All things that require dice rolls should wait until the game gets approved and a thread for them is created.
Homebrew Rules: I've already mentioned timeflow. As for other stuff, I still need to think up the details so I'll be giving info on it later on.
Acceptance: I'll wait two weeks for submissions (or shorter if I fell like it) and then I'll choose the best of them. If you can't stand rejection, make your submission as good as you possibly can... ;)

Finally! What should the submission look like?
Character Name:
Character Classe/s:
Character Background: GO WILD! You can invent tribe names, places and all sorts of cool and interesting stuff. Don't go too wild though. Remember the humans are confined to a relatively small area.
Why are you going on the cultivation mission? Please write down a short answer that would describe best your character's motives.
Suggestions for Improvements? Are more than welcome, in case you find any flaws.

Friendly Guide to Uploading Images
Uploading images means attaching them as files to a post. The image has to live on your hard drive for this to work. (If you want to show an image in the body of your post, that's a job for the LINK tag.)

Always save your images in the best quality possible and THEN use a compressed type. This will allow you to try out the two main image formats to see what works best for what you’re trying to do.

The best internet file formats are:

JPEG
GIF

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEG images are full color images. It has a fairly high image quality (when used to its best extent). This image format is best when you can’t go any lower than 24-bit color (something like a digital photograph). In your image editor, it is often very simple to choose the level of compression in your jpeg. Highest quality results in the largest file size, meaning longer load times. Low quality results in a lossy image that looks pixelated, but has a much lower file size and loads far quicker.

The JPEG algorithm was optimized for compressing conventional pictorial photographs and is also good at handling complex illustrations. Photos and artwork with smooth color and tonal transitions and with few areas of harsh contrast or sharp edges are ideal for JPEG compression. Yet most page design elements, diagrams, typography within images, and many illustrations are composed of hard-edged graphics and bright color boundaries that are seldom encountered in photographs. [Paraphrased or quoted from webstyleguide.com]

This is the best image format for realistic images, like photographs. An example is below.



GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

The GIF is an image format that has a compression that is best suited toward images with large fields of homogeneous (exactly the same) color.

You can take advantage of the characteristics of its compression to improve its efficiency and thereby reduce the size of your GIF graphics. What you do is you severely limit the amount of colors that are in your image (since you make it by hand, just limit it to under 16 colors), and get rid of anything and any colors that are not required to represent the image (don’t keep a different color to make it look nice, only have a color to show a difference in what it represents). A GIF graphic cannot have more than 256 colors but it can have fewer colors, down to the minimum of two (black and white). Images with fewer colors will compress a lot better and be smaller for it. Doing that’ll make things load WAY faster. [Paraphrased or quoted from webstyleguide.com]

It’s your best bet for simple images with few different colors. An example is below.



It's well-suited for maps, diagrams and so on.

Create A...

How to Create a Monster PC
INTRO
Thanks to site member Lanthar Mandragoran!

READ FIRST
Things to note before you read the step-by-step guide:
  1. This only works for monsters with a level adjustment posted (including LA -). If there is no LA listed you cannot simply use CR. Instead you need to talk with your DM.

  2. Required Reading:

  3. This HOW-TO strictly uses the SRD, as that is the "Official Document." If you are using template (or monster) class levels from the Savage Species rulebook, you need to be sure to read the rules on how to do that, thoroughly. (Don't just flip to a chart and start using it when you don't know how it is supposed to be used...)


  4. Please read the entire How-To before asking your DM questions or posting them in the forums, OK?

  5. Teminology: If you're careful, WotC's terms are easy to understand. Take your time; having a monster PC is a lot of fun, but creating one can be not very straightforward.

    • RHD = Racial HD, aka Racial Character Levels. The Hound Archon used below has 6 RHD.
    • CHD = Class HD, aka Class Character Levels. A Level 3 Rogue / Level 7 Ranger has 10 CHD.
    • THD = Total HD = Character Level (WotC term) = RHD + CHD
    • THD is what HD dependent effects, such as a Half-Celestial’s Spell-Like Abilities, would be based on.
      THD also governs feat acquisition and ability score increases.
    • ACL = Actual Character Level = Alternate (interchangeable) term for THD
    • ECL = Effective Character Level = ACL + LA = RHD + CHD + LA. This is a frequently used term, as in, "This game is for ECL 7 players, no LAs above +2."

    • Please note, Class (and Cross-Class) Skill Rank Limits are based on THD/RHD/CHD, not ECL.

    THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

    Assume your DM has started a 15 ECL campaign. Before anything else,

      Choose which creature you want to use and get permission from your DM!

    1. Note creature's RHD, Type and LA (we'll use these in a moment)

    2. Example 1: Hound Archon
      >6 RHD, Outsider, LA +5

      Example 2: Doppleganger
      >4 RHD, Monstrous Humanoid, LA +4

      Example 3: Pixie
      >1 RHD, Fey, LA +4 (+6 if you want to use Otto's Irresistable dance)

    3. Roll / Point-Buy Abilities (Stats)
    4. Per your DM's wishes for the game.

    5. Apply Racial Modifiers to Abilities
    6. Pretty simple, look at the monster entry, subract 10 from even abilities, 11 from odd. For abilities less than 10, use the chart.

      Example 1: Hound Archon
      >STR +4 DEX +0 CON +2 INT +0 WIS +2 CHA +2

      Example 2: Doppleganger
      >STR +2 DEX +2 CON +2 INT +2 WIS +4 CHA +2

      Example 3: Pixie
      >STR -4 (probably, please see chart) DEX +8 CON +0 INT +4 WIS +4 CHA +6

    7. Build your character as though it were RHD Levels of Class = Monster Type
    8. If the creature is a 1 RHD creature ignore this step.*

      • Select one initial feat + one more feat per 3 HD
      • Multiply Skills from initial HD by 4
      • do NOT add one ability score bonuses per 4 HD (the ability adjustment have already taken this into account)
      • Use HD, BAB, Saves and Skill ranks from this Chart
      • Please note, Class Skill are those with entries on the monster sheet, ALL other skill are all cross-class

      Example 1: Hound Archon
      >6 RHD Outsider
      >6d8, BAB 6, F/R/W 5/5/5, Skills 9x(8+Int)
      The 9x comes from 4 at 1st HD, 1 for each (5) remaining HD
      >3 Feats (RHD #1, #3, #6)

      Example 2: Doppleganger
      >4 RHD Monstrous Humanoid
      >4d8, BAB 4, F/R/W 1/4/4, Skills 7x(2+Int)
      >2 Feats (RHD #1, #3)

      Example 3: Pixie
      >1HD, ignore this step

      *Humanoids and CLass Levels

      Unfortunately, the terminology by WotC is slightly misleading. It really should read "Races and Class Levels". Especially since this chart includes a "humanoid" reference. Please see the pixie entry in the SRD for proof.

      Quote:
      Pixies As Characters
      A pixie character exchanges its 1 HD of fey for its first class level.
      Pixie characters possess the following racial traits.
      * -4 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +6 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +6 Charisma.
      * Small size. +1 bonus to Armor Class, +1 bonus on attack rolls, +4 bonus on Hide checks, -4 penalty on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits ¾ those of Medium characters.
      * A pixie’s base land speed is 20 feet. It also has a fly speed of 60 feet (good).
      * Low-light vision.
      * Skills: Pixies have a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
      * Racial Feats: A pixie receives Dodge as a bonus feat.
      * +1 natural armor bonus.
      * Special Attacks (see above): Spell-like abilities.
      * Special Qualities (see above): Damage reduction 10/cold iron, greater invisibility, spell resistance equal to 15 + class levels.
      * Automatic Languages: Common, Sylvan. Bonus Languages: Elven, Gnome, Halfling.
      * Favored Class: Sorcerer.
      * Level adjustment +4 (+6 if the pixie can use irresistible dance).


    9. Apply all Supernatural abilities, Spell-like abilities, Bonus Feats, etc.
    10. A bonus feat is one labelled as (B), if it doesn't have a (B), you don't get it as a bonus feat.

      Example 1: Hound Archon
      >NO Bonus Feats
      The 9 comes from 4 at 1st HD, 1 for each (5) remaining HD

      Example 2: Doppleganger
      >NO Bonus Feats

      Example 3: Pixie
      >Bonus Feats: Dodge, Weapon Finesse
      >Alertness is NOT a bonus feat.

    11. Multi-class into Additional Class Levels up to Character Level

    12. Character Level = ECL for Campaign - LA of Creature
      Class Levels = Character Level - HD Already Used

      If you did NOT skip step five, please note:
      a - do NOT take an initial feat
      b - DO take feats when your total character level reaches a multiple of three
      c - DO take an ability score increase when character level reaches a multiple of four
      d - do NOT multiply first level skill by 4

      Example 1: Hound Archon
      >ACL/THD = 10 = 15 ECL - 5 LA
      But we've already used 6 RHD, so we can multiclass up to 4th Level Ranger (or whatever)
      We would also take 1 more feat (9th THD ie 3rd Ranger level)
      We would also take one abilty increase (8th THD ie 2nd Ranger level)

      Example 2: Doppleganger
      >ACL/THD = 11 = 15 ECL - 4 LA
      But we've already used 4 RHD, so we can multiclass up to 7th Level Rogue (or whatever)
      We would also take 2 more feats (6th and 9th THD ie 2nd and 5th Rogue level)
      We would also take one abilty increase (8th THD ie 2nd Rogue level)

      Example 3: Pixie
      >THD/ACL = 11 = 15 ECL - 4 LA
      So, we have 11 levels to play with. We should remember to take an initial feat and to quadruple our first level skill points.

    13. Buy Equipment, yada, yada, yada.

    14. Use however much gold the DM has stated. Please note, DMs, average starting gold is supposed to be based on ECL, NOT Character Level. You're not SUPPOSED to penalize players gold for taking monster races.

      PARTING COMMENTS / OPTIONS

      • The DM always has the option to overrule things.

      • Your character gets an Initial Feat and 4x Skill Ranks ONCE and only ONCE. (A frequent cause of error.)

      • Don't forget, you ALWAYS have the option to take a RHD advance in place of Class Level when you have earned enough experience to level up. Advance RHD according to the Chart.

        • Note: This means a character could always advance a level of humanoid, but that's a bizarre route to go, and really hard to explain in-game.

        • Note: Outsiders and Dragons have incredibly good RHD advancement!

      • The Half-Dragon Template could be one of the most misunderstood and abused templates in the game. It has the following entry:


      • Quote:
        Size and Type
        The creature’s type changes to dragon. Size is unchanged. Do not recalculate base attack bonus or saves.
        Hit Dice
        Increase base creature’s racial HD by one die size, to a maximum of d12. Do not increase class HD.


        OK, got that? Do not increase Class HD! So, Half-Dragon Wizards do NOT have d12 HD! However, if you choose to take a RHD rather than a CHD advance, you would get the Half-Dragon Increased HP (BAB, Saves, and Skills would still be by main race).

        That means a RHD advance for a Half-Dragon Xill (Outsider) would be particularly bad@$$...

      • Savage Species has an option to allow a player in an ECL 1 campaign to begin life as a Pixie (or other monster), by sacrificing it's first CHD and taking one RHD of Fey (or other type), instead.



      • Even a player starting in a ECL 5 campaign could do this, though it's not really recommended for a Fey level. However, you might do it for an Outsider level.


      FURTHER READING

      Quotes from the June 24, 2005 DnD 3.5e FAQ

      Quote:
      Okay, I’m confused by the current alphabet soup of abbreviations dealing with exactly how tough a monster or a character is. What are character level, class level, EL, ECL, and CR? How do they relate to each other? Are they interchangeable? If not, what are they used for?
      The terms are not interchangeable. You can find definitions of most of these terms in the Player’s Handbook glossary or in Savage Species, but here’s an overview.
      Class Level: The total number of levels you have in a particular class. A 5th-level fighter has 5 class levels in fighter.
      A 5th-level fighter/5th-level wizard has 5 class levels in fighter and 5 class levels in wizard. Class level affects so many things it would be tedious to list them all in detail. The most important include number of Hit Dice (1 per class level), base attack bonus, base saving throw bonuses, and number of skill points, all as shown in the description for the class. If a class gives you bonus feats, it’s your class level that determines when you get them.
      In addition, most level-based variables for a class feature depend on your class level, as does any level-based variable for a spell you cast as a member of that class. Powers from clerical domains are class features, and any level-based variables they have depend on your level in the class that gives you access to the domain.
      Character Level: The total number of class levels you have in all your classes, plus any racial Hit Dice you have. A human 5th-level fighter/5th-level wizard has 10 character levels. An ogre 5th-level fighter/5th-level wizard has 14 character levels (because it has 4 racial Hit Dice). Character levels determine when you gain feats and ability score increases (see Table 3–2: Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits in the Player’s Handbook). Any feat you get by virtue of your character level is in addition to any bonus feats from your class levels.
      In addition, your character level determines how much experience you earn when you defeat a foe and how many experience points you need to gain your next class level.
      Effective Character Level (ECL): Effective character level is character level plus the level adjustment for the character’s race. Races that are more powerful than the standard races in the Player’s Handbook have level adjustments to help promote some equity among the player characters in a campaign, and to help DMs decide how much danger a party containing members of those races can actually handle. For example, a drow has a level adjustment of +2.
      Many people (and even one or two rulebooks) say “ECL” when they really mean “level adjustment.”
      Use the character’s ECL to determine starting equipment and how the character earns and benefits from experience, as noted on page 5 of Savage Species. Use the actual character level for everything else.
      Encounter Level (EL): Encounter Level is strictly a tool for the DM to use when deciding if a particular encounter is too easy, about right, or too hard for a particular group of characters. It has no real effect on play. Some people think that Encounter Level determines how much experience characters gain from an encounter, but that’s not so (read on).
      Challenge Rating (CR): Challenge Rating reflects a game designer’s best judgment about how tough a monster will prove in a fight. The CRs of all the creatures in an encounter help to determine the encounter’s EL (see Chapter 4: Adventures in the Dungeon Master’s Guide). When characters defeat a creature, its CR determines the basic experience award, which in turn is adjusted according to the party’s character levels or ECLs (see Chapter 7: Rewards in the Dungeon Master’s Guide).
      It is perhaps unfortunate that an NPC who belongs to a standard Player’s Handbook race has a CR equal to her character level, because it implies that CR, character level, and ECL are the same. They aren’t—CR and character level just happen to have the same values sometimes. CR and ECL havenothing to do with each other, because they measure two
      different things. See the next question.


      Quote:
      A player of mine wants to create a minotaur character. The average party level is 15. He says he can just make a 1st-level barbarian/14th-level fighter minotaur and be equal to the other player characters. I say he can only have a 7th-level character (say 1 barbarian level and 6 fighter levels) because of the minotaur’s ECL of 8 (8 minotaur + 1 barbarian + 6 fighter = 15th level). Who’s right?
      You’re on the right track. You’ve figured out the right number of class levels the character can have, but a minotaur has 6 racial Hit Dice and a +2 level adjustment. Your example minotaur character does have an ECL of 15 (6 HD, 7 class levels, and a +2 level adjustment), but it is a 13th-level character with skill points, base saves, feats, and ability score increases as a 13th-level character. The minotaur character starts with 15th-level equipment, however, and earns experience as a 15th-level character.


Editing Skills on Your Character Sheet
To help clarify how to use the Skills section of the character sheet, lets go through each part. First off, in d20 games like Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e, skills are not a yes/no thing. For each skill your character has a 'Skill Bonus' or 'Skill Modifier' that reflects how good he or she is at doing different things. This is listed for each skill under the column named 'Skill Mod'. To see if you succeed or not at say, appraising something, you would roll a d20 and add the 'Skill Modifier' for Appraise to the result. The Skill Modifier comes from a number of different things, and each is represented by a column in the Skills section of the character sheet.

1. The character's appropriate Ability Modifier. This is the modifier derived from the ability score listed in the 'Key Ab' column of the Skills section, and it is listed in the 'Ab Mod' column. You don't have to do anything with these; they are automatically generated by the 3eProfiler Character Sheet. If your STR is high, you'll have a positive Climb modifier. If your STR is unusually low, your character's difficulty at climbing will be reflected in a negative Climb modifier.

2. Miscellaneous Modifiers, listed under 'Misc Mod'. These are for bonuses you get from feats or racial traits or whatever. For example, if you take the Skill Focus (Appraise) feat, you would have +3 to your Skill Modifier for the Appraise Skill. You will need to fill this column in, as the Character sheet has no way to keep track of all the little things that can give you Miscellaneous Modifiers.

3. Skill Ranks. You buy skill ranks by spending the skill points you get at each level, based on your class and intelligence. If you're only buying class skills, just put the raw number of point you've spent into this blank. If you're buying cross-class skills (marked with a check mark in the little boxes under 'CC') then put [i]half[/i] the points you spend. It's harder for characters to learn those skills than it is for them to learn skills their class is naturally inclined towards.

At the top right of the skills section you see two numbers, next to where it says 'Max Rank'. This is the maximum ranks a character of that level can have in a skill: character level +3. For cross-class skills, you can have a maximum of half that, or 2 ranks. It will get a little more complicated if you multi-class--check an SRD for aid.

Be sure to read the SRD for a detailed description of how each Skill works. Some of them are a bit tricky to use correctly.

How to Improve Your Roleplaying
This thread is to help people roleplay better in their games (and possibly earn more XP). Everyone wants to go up in level quickly, and everyone likes those little green dots by their name.

So how to do it?

Well, the best way is to create good posts. Write a post others will enjoy reading, will look forward to reading. Describe your character's reaction, indicate what your character is thinking, what he or she says, and even extrapolate on the scene around you.

This doesn't mean you need to write a novella each time your character makes a Spot check. Some DMs do prefer lengthy posts, others like concise posts that are still descriptive.

Essentially, the more thought and effort that goes into your posts, the better your roleplaying will be and the more XP you will likely get. Many DMs reward good PbP roleplaying with XP for your characters. And your fellow players will reward sustained high-quality effort from you with green XP dots.

Remember: write posts people will want to read.

Guide to D&D Abbreviations
D&D Abbreviations List

(Far from exhaustive, but perhaps helpful nonetheless.)

*D&D................Any version of the D&D game
3e....................Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition
3.5e.................Dungeons & Dragons, revised 3rd edition
AC....................stands for Armor Class (This determines if your character is struck with an attack or not)
AD&D, ADnD.......Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, any edition
AD&D1...............Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition
AD&D2...............Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd edition
AD&D2R.............Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
AD&D2.5............Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
AoE..................Area of Effect
AoO..................Attack of Opportunity
BAB..................Base Attack Bonus
BAR..................Barbarian
BD&D, BDnD.......Basic Dungeons & Dragons, as opposed to Advanced D&D
BoA..................Book of Artifacts
BoVD................Book of Vile Darkness (R-rated game manual)
BR....................Birthright
BRD..................Bard
Bump................Bring up my post (frowned upon here)
C*HB................Complete Handbook series
Fighter's, Priest's, Thief's, Wizard's, Psionics, Ranger's, Bard's, Druid's, Paladin's, Barbarian's, Necromancer's, Ninja's
CB*..................Complete Book of series
Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes & Halflings, Humanoids
CC...................stands for Cross-Class when dealing with skills (skills outside your character class's scope)
CHA.................Charisma
CLR..................Cleric
CON.................Constitution
cp....................Copper Piece
CR....................stands for Challenge Rating (typically used when evaluating monsters, or traps, vs players)
CRIT.................stands for critcal hit (not usually critical fail)
CT, C&T.............Player's Option: Combat & Tactics
D&D, DnD...........Dungeons & Dragons, any version except Advanced
D&D3.................Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition (the successor of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons)
DC....................stands for Difficulty Challenge, or Difficulty Check (what number you need to reach or exceed, to succeed with skill checks or saves)
DDG...................Deities and Demigods
DEX...................Dexterity
DL.....................DragonLance
DM....................Dungeon Master
DMG..................Dungeon Masters Guide, any edition
DMG1.................Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st edition
DMG2.................Dungeon Masters Guide, 2nd edition
DMG2R...............Dungeon Masters Guide, Revised 2nd edition
DMG3.................Dungeon Masters Guide, 3rd edition
DMO..................Dungeon Master's Option book(s)
DotF..................Defenders of the Faith
DR.....................stands for Damage Reduction (This is an ability that allows you to reduce damage your character takes, of course)
DRD...................Druid
DS.....................Dark Sun
ECL....................stands for Effective Character Level (I have seen many people mistake this one, it refers to how powerful your character is when stacked up against others, created typically due to unusual races)
FF......................stands for the Fiend Folio (See Monster Manual)
FR......................Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3rd ed.)
FTR....................Fighter
GAMA..................Game Manufacturers Association
GH......................Greyhawk
GM......................Game Master, in games other than D&D
gp.......................Gold Piece
HD......................Hit dice (how many times a die was rolled while calculating the character/monster's hit points)
HLC.....................Dungeon Master's Option: High-Level Campaigns
HP......................Hit Points (You need these to stay alive)
HW.....................Hollow World
IC.......................In Character (used in game posts)
IMC.....................In My Campaign
INI or INIT............stands for initiative (This is how fast your character reacts, typically for battle)
INT......................Intelligence
IYC......................In Your Campaign
L&L, LL.................Legends & Lore
LC.......................Living Campaign (RPGA campaign usually found at cons)
LD, LDU................Level-Drain, Level-Draining Undead
LG.......................Living Greyhawk (RPGA campaign usually found at cons)
LVL......................stands for level (whether it's your class level or character level is another story)
MC......................Monstrous Compendium (usually followed by the appendix number)
MM......................Monster Manual/Monstrous Manual
MMII....................Monster Manual II
MNK.....................Monk
Mod.....................stands for Modifier OR Moderator (Moderator is the guy who kicks your butt if you act out of line, and Modifiers are what is applied when dealing with a specific statistic [that includes anything from ac to hp to str])
MoP.....................Manual of the Planes
MotW...................Masters of the Wild
MPGN...................ftp.mpgn.com, the Multi-Player Gaming Network site
MUD.....................Multiple-User Dungeon
NPC......................stands for Non-Player Character (As in one of the character's that your Game master controls)
OA.......................Oriental Adventures
OD&D, ODnD...........Old/Original D&D, as opposed to the later Advanced D&D
OOC.....................Out Of Character
PBeM....................Play By E-Mail
PC........................stands for Player Character (you, or one of the other players)
PHB......................Players Handbook, any edition
PHB 1e..................Players Handbook, 1st edition
PHB 2e..................Players Handbook, 2nd edition
PHB 2Re................Players Handbook, Revised 2nd edition
PHB 3e..................Players Handbook, 3rd edition
PHB 3.5e...............Players Handbook 3.5 edition (version 3.5)
PLD.......................Paladin
PO........................Players Option books
pp........................Platinum Piece
PrC......................Prestige Class
PS.......................Planescape
RGR.....................Ranger
RL.......................Ravenloft (or Real-Life)
ROG.....................Rogue
RPGA...................Role-Playing Gamers' Association
S&F.....................Sword & Fist
S&S.....................Song & Silence
sp......................(lowercase specific) typically refers to Spell-Like Ability (an ability that resembles a spell)
S&P....................Player's Option: Skills & Powers
sp......................Silver Piece
Sp&M, SPaM........Player's Option: Spells & Magic
SR.....................stands for Spell Resistance (The all-so important mage killer)
SRC...................Sorceror
SRD...................System Reference Document, the rules of d20/3.x ed. D&D
STR...................Strength
su.....................(lowercase specific) refers to Supernatural Ability (This is typically granted as opposed to a spell-like ability, not subject to dispelling, disruption or spell resistance, but it IS subject to an anti-magic field)
T&B....................Tome & Blood
THAC0.................stands for 'To Hit Armor Class 0' (2nd edition term)
ToM....................Tome of Magic
UA......................Unearthed Arcana
WIS....................Wisdom
WIZ....................Wizard
WoG, WG.............World of Greyhawk
WotC..................Wizards of the Coast: publishers of D&D games and holders of copyrights
XP......................Experience Points (You gain higher levels with these)


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