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Old 07-21-2005, 05:29 PM
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HOW-TO: Correctly Create a Monster PC

INTRO
Okay, it seems as though there is more than a little bit of confusion on this site as to how, exactly, to use a monster as PC Character.
So, I figured I would write up a simple HOW-TO, complete with foot notes.
I would greatly appreciate it if the admins would sticky this post.

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 a posing of LA -), if there is no LA listed you CANNOT simply use CR, instead you need to talk with your DM.
  2. Required Reading, I expect you to these in their entirety (though I've put the relevant excerpts from the FAQ in the footnotes)
    Don't worry if reading these makes your eyes cross, this HOW-TO should help you uncross your eyes, and make sense of this
  3. This HOW-TO strictly uses the SRD, as that is the "Official Document"
    If you are using template (or monster) class levels from savage species, 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 post before PM'ng me questions.
  5. Teminology
    This is very important. I am going to define a few terms, that I will use in this HOW-TO. It is my opinion that, for sake of ‘readability’, WotC is sloppy with their terminology. If you are careful, it is easy to understand. However, I believe this sloppiness is what leads to much of the confusion when it comes to creating monster PCs.
    • 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 is also what 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
      Please note, Class (and Cross-Class) Skill Rank Limits are based on THD/RHD/CHD, not ECL

THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Okay, now on to the step-by-step
Note: For simplicity, I am assuming that my DM has started a 15 ECL campaign.
  1. Choose which creature you want to use and get permission from your DM
    :biggrin: nothing like a blanket CYA statement to open the guide
  2. Note creature's RHD, Type and LA (we'll use these in a moment)
    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)
    What ever the DM has determined, do it just like that.
  4. Apply Racial Modifiers to Abilities
    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
  5. Build your character as though it were RHD Levels of Class = Monster Type
    If the creature is a 1 RHD creature ignore his 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
    *[http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monstersAs...ndClassLevels] Humanoids and Class Levels [/url]
    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).
  6. Apply all Supernatural abilities, Spell-like abilities, Bonus Feats, etc.
    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
  7. Multi-class into Additional Class Levels up to Character Level
    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, I've already used 6 RHD, so I can multiclass up to 4th Level Ranger (or whatever)
    I would also take 1 more feat (9th THD ie 3rd Ranger level)
    I would also take one abilty increase (8th THD ie 2nd Ranger level)
    Example 2: Doppleganger
    >ACL/THD = 11 = 15 ECL - 4 LA
    But, I've already used 4 RHD, so I can multiclass up to 7th Level Rogue (or whatever)
    I would also take 2 more feat (6th and 9th THD ie 2nd and 5th Rogue level)
    I would also take one abilty increase (8th THD ie 2nd Rogue level)
    Example 3: Pixie
    >THD/ACL = 11 = 15 ECL - 4 LA
    So, I have 11 levels to play with as I please, I should remember to take an initial feat and to quadruple my first level skill points.
  8. Buy Equipment, yada, yada, yada.
    Use however much gold the DM has stated to use.
    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.
    I had one DM say one of my +4 LA creatures should really be (in his opinion) evaluated as a +5.
  • Gawd, I hope the above makes sense. If it doesn't, well... PM me or something.
  • If you believe I made a mistake, prove it using WotC material, please to do NOT tell me I'm wrong based on 'that's not the way so-and-so said it works' or 'but, this is the way we always did it in our games'. Unsubstantiated arguements only piss me off. Besides, see
  • Your character gets an Initial Feat and 4x Skill Ranks ONCE and only ONCE. Your character get upon the first HD (RHD or CHD) taken.
  • 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 you’d be retarded to take that option
    • Note: Outsiders and Dragons have hella-good RHD advancement
  • The Half-Dragon Template is the most mis-understood and over-abused template in the game (IMO).
    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.
    Read that people? 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, Skills would still be by main race)
    That means a RHD advance for a Half-Dragon Xill (Outsider) would be particularly bad@$$...
  • Savage Species (I believe, I don't have the book) 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, I wouldn't do it for a Fey level. However, I might do it for an Outsider level.

I hope this helps.

Lanthar

FOOTNOTES

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.
Quote:
When is a monster character considered epic level? Do you “go epic” when your total class levels equal 20 or when your total Hit Dice equal 20? Is a monster character eligible for epic-level feats (such as Epic Toughness) when its character level is 21+ or when its ECL is 21+?
A monster becomes an epic-level character when its character level hits 21, just like any other character. A monster’s character level is equal to its racial Hit Dice + class levels. (See the second sidebar on page 25 of the Epic Level Handbook.)
A creature’s ECL has no effect on when it becomes an epic character, although once it becomes an epic character, its ECL continues to affect how much experience it earns and when it can add a new level.

Last edited by Lanthar Mandragoran; 09-08-2006 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:34 PM
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*Eye's tear up*
I'm not the best at explining things so now i have something to point to when players ask me how to do that.
*hug*
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:35 PM
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:40 PM
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Excellent! I think it might even find a good use away from the "hidden" D&D Rules section. Let me check on it.
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Last edited by Summoner; 07-21-2005 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:44 PM
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You're my new hero...I hope the admins sticky this.
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:47 PM
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Very nice... but I think there is a (small) mistake in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SRD 3.5
Humanoids and Class Levels: Creatures with 1 or less HD replace their monster levels with their character levels. The monster loses the attack bonus, saving throw bonuses, skills, and feats granted by its 1 monster HD and gains the attack bonus, save bonuses, skills, feats, and other class abilities of a 1st-level character of the appropriate class.

Characters with more than 1 Hit Die because of their race do not get a feat for their first class level as members of the common races do, and they do not multiply the skill points for their first class level by four. Instead, they have already received a feat for their first Hit Die because of race, and they have already multiplied their racial skill points for their first Hit Die by four.
This would imply that a Pixie (or any other non-Humanoid with 1 HD) would nót skip step 5, but still have 1 racial hit-die...

Other then that, it looks really useful.
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:54 PM
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Umm... Read the first part of your own quote again. The Pixie would skip step 5 because they have only 1 hit die to start with. However, something like an ogre would not because they have more than 1 hit die.

I think the guide is useful, especially to all those people who want to create monster characters and can't seem to figgure it out (i.e. they can't figgure out how to read through everything).
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:59 PM
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But why would it specifically say Humanoids and Class levels?

Also, in the Monster Manual, only the Humanoid entry states that the first level is replaced, and that the creature is given as a 1st level warrior, whilst the 1HD pixie is given as a first level Fey...

I'm not sure, just thought it only counted for actual humanoids.
Strange wording or something...?
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:13 PM
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The gide is great. it dosn't include info on what to do if your placging a monsterous pc with no class levels though in wich case you would get a starting feat, 4x skills at first monsterous level, and you have to use the DmG for info on advancing a monster past it's hit dice.

however if you do that you gain no starting feat or 4x skill points if you take a character class.

Some races are just plane good without a standard pc class attached to them. Savage species also has some good info on this.
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Old 07-22-2005, 03:21 AM
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Don't forget to mention that when spending skill points gained from your Monsterous hit die the skills that are considered class skills are the ones they are listed as having in the monster manual, all others are cross-class. This only applies to creatures that have MORE than 1 hit die to start, if they have only 1 then their class level replaces the monsterous hit die.

For example the Minotaur (one of my fave monster characters).
In the Monster manual the Minotaur's listing for skills say: Intimidate+5, Jump+8, Listen+8, search+6, spot+8
When spending the skill points gained from the Minotaurs 6 Hit Die of monsterous humanoid only the skills listed above are class skills all others are cross-class. Monsterous humanoids have 2+int skill points per hit die and with an average INT score of 7 the minotaur really doesn't have to worry too much about skills. Outsiders are a little more difficult as they get 8+int skill points per HD (x4 at first level as usual) and often have fairly high intelligence and a wider selection of skills.

EDIT: Oh yea and GREAT GUIDE dude!

Last edited by SpatulaOdoom; 07-22-2005 at 03:21 AM.
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Old 07-22-2005, 03:23 AM
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All creatures with 1hd replace it with a class. this is in the newest official faq
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Old 07-22-2005, 03:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allenchan
All creatures with 1hd replace it with a class. this is in the newest official faq
Ah but what if you advance a few hit dice in that monster before taking a class
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Old 07-22-2005, 04:13 AM
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Creatures that start with one hit dice normally advance as a class, for instance Kobolds or Goblins, they don't get more inherent hit dice otherwise.
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Old 07-22-2005, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannibalizer
Creatures that start with one hit dice normally advance as a class, for instance Kobolds or Goblins, they don't get more inherent hit dice otherwise.
true unless you pourposly avoid standard classes and add hit dice as you level Granted it';s weaker than a pc of the same level usualy with a class but great for Rping
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Old 07-22-2005, 09:03 AM
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A Couple of Questions / Comments have Cropped up, that I would like to address.

1 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:
Originally Posted by 3.5 SRD
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).
2 Tofu is absolutely correct, you ALWAYS have the option of advancing a racial HD rather than a class HD. In that case you don't take any class abilities or any more SLA's, however you take BAB/Saves/Skills from this chart. Outsider and Dragon types are particularly bad@$$ IMO. (FYI, anyone taking a xill, I HIGHLY recommend taking at least ONE additional racial HD)

Also, what Tofu mentioned, and what I was trying to explain in the HOWTO, is that you get you're Initial Feat and you're 4x Skill point ONCE. You get it whenever you take your FIRST character level (Read first HD, racial or class)

3 I tried to explain this under point 5

4 Yes, for example the Pixie shown here (I think this is from Savage Species):

Allows a player in an ECL 1 campaign to begin life as a Pixie, by sacrificing it's 1 class level and taking one level of Fey, instead. Even a player starting in a ECL 5 campaign could do this. Though, I agree with Tofu, I wouldn't do it for a Fey level. However, I might do it for an outsider level.

Which brings up a really interesting point / option... the chart DOES have an entry for advancing as a humanoid. I personally think that would be ignorant on the player's part.

Well, except in one case. The Half-Dragon, the most mis-understood and over-abused template 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.
Read that people? DO NOT INCREASE CLASS HD!!!! So, Half-Dragon Wizards do NOT have d12 HD!

However, if you choose to take a RACIAL HD rather than a Class HD advance, you would get the Dragon HP ONLY, Base Race BAB, Saves, Skills... that means a Racial HD advance for a Half-Dragon Xill (Outsider) would be particularly bad@$$...

With those having been said, I'm thinking about modifying the HOWTO a little in order to include the following terms (as I think WotC is somewhat sloppy with their term). And I'd like to get your thoughts

RHD = Racial HD (aka Racial Character Levels)
CHD = Class HD (aka Class Character Levels)
ACL = Actual Character Level = RHD + CHD
ECL = Effective Character Level = ACL + LA = RHD + CHD + LA

What do you think?
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