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  1. #1
    Special Guest (Donor) morgramen's Avatar
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    I was wondering if someone could clear up how the 3.5 level adjustment rules work please.

    I'm also wondering if XP Penalties (like theo ld 2E rules of +/-10% XP) could be used to offset the attribute modifiers. (I don't see why not, but I'm not well schooled on the "logic" behind the 3E formula).

    I'm toying with the idea of *NOT* balancing the elven attribute modifiers against themselves, and instead, applying either a level adjustment or an XP award mdifier (+10% more XP required to advance a level) in order to balance the race. I'm not sure that requiring an additonal 10% XP in order to advance a level is the same thing as a Level Adjustment (ECL) or not.
    "You need people of intelligence on this mission... quest... thing."

  2. #2
    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    There has been a little bit of a problem with many people concerning this thing, so it is not something too big really...
    • ECL (Effective Character Level) is calculated by adding up a race's racial Hit Dice (if any), plus its character levels (if any), plus its level adjustment (if any).
    • ECL is used whenever you take awards, treasure values allowed to the character, and Encounter Levels appropriate to the party. In all other cases, use the character's class levels (also referred to as CL, or Character Level).
    • Racial Hit Dice give the base attack bonus, base saves, and skill points appropriate to the race's type plus feats as any other character.
    • If a typical individual of the race has 1/2 Hit Dice, there are no racial Hit Dice for that creature.
    • Level adjustment is added to Hit Dice and class levels to represent how much more powerful is the creature than a human with the same number of class levels as the creature's racial HD plus CL.
    So, if you want to have a creature with 0 racial HD but a level adjustment, it would have to be a character with as many levels allowed to a newcomer minus its level adjustment. It dies as any other character of its level, has the same characteristics and so on.

  3. #3
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    A good guide for assigning level adjustments is in Savage Species. Certain things are 'assigned' different level adjustments.

    Unbalanced ability scores (remember to use the DMG guide for what is a balanced ability score trade off, not that I necessarily agree with the table there but that is the comparison used) give a +1 level adjustment.

    Spell resistance grants a +1 level adjustment

    Natural armor gives a +1 level adjustment and an additional +1 for every 5 points beyond the first 5.

    And so on. . .

    Now at the D&D web site at WotC they have been posting class levels for ECL template creatures from the Monster Manual. This has a means of 'leveling out' the playing field. The logic is that is a PC 'suddenly' acquires a template with a level adjustment (more noticeable for the +3 or so templates) the PC now is 3 or more equivalent levels higher than his compatriots and this sudden gain just doesn't translate well into a 'good feeling' of equalness between the players - so they designed a way to gradually gain the levels.

    Bottom line, a percentage penalty (or bonus) on exp just doesn't translate well into the 3.5 system since all characters gain exp at the same rate using a non-linear table and more importantly the relative level of power (i.e., ECL) of the party/monster is used to determine the appropriate challenge ratings for encounters.
    Duane Eggert

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    Birthright Developer
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    Originally posted by morgramen@Feb 17 2004, 01:58 AM
    I was wondering if someone could clear up how the 3.5 level adjustment rules work please.

    I'm also wondering if XP Penalties (like theo ld 2E rules of +/-10% XP) could be used to offset the attribute modifiers. (I don't see why not, but I'm not well schooled on the "logic" behind the 3E formula).

    I'm toying with the idea of *NOT* balancing the elven attribute modifiers against themselves, and instead, applying either a level adjustment or an XP award mdifier (+10% more XP required to advance a level) in order to balance the race. I'm not sure that requiring an additonal 10% XP in order to advance a level is the same thing as a Level Adjustment (ECL) or not.
    Well, the 'logic' of level adjustments is roughly as follows: Level in 3e/3.5e is a rough measure of a character's overall power. It's used for gauging how challenging an encounter is, and thus how much XP is earned from the encounter. Level adjustments are determined pretty much on the basis of an optimized character - that is, an ogre fighter is a good choice, an ogre wizard is a pretty horrible choice.

    Imposing a level adjustment is pretty much the same as an XP penalty - except it scales in a somewhat different way, and it sets a minimum level for where you should start playing a character (i.e. level 1 with +1 LA characters in a level 2 party).

    The technically correct way to do things 3e/3.5e style is to use level adjustments, and it should be done that way as a default.

    There's a couple of weaknesses with level adjustments, though. Depending on the type of character, they don't necessarily scale all that well, and eventually the bonuses you gained a level adjustment for earlier become pretty meaningless compared to what you're losing out on. I've used a variant in my campaign for a while where characters can pay a flat XP sum instead of taking a level adjustment, depending on the power level of the race in question. It's not really set in stone, though. The big advantage of using an XP cost is that you can scale things a bit better. A level adjustment can encompass a pretty wide range of power levels. Unearthed Arcana introduced a similar variant, where you can buy away level adjustments at an XP cost as you reach a certain level. The overall effect of that is that the character will level more quickly in the long term, though he'll always be behind somewhat - without being totally hamstringed by a level adjustment at high levels.

    Another way to make level adjustments 'work' is to turn them into racial levels. If you deem the racial traits you're trying to cram in weak enough in general (say, an extra +2 to Charisma or whatever), cram it into a racial level or two. Those levels should be somewhat weaker than normal character class levels, to balance the benefits being given. That especially addresses the issue of survivability. A straight 3rd-level character is a LOT more survivable than a 1st-level character with a +2 level adjustment, and often, the level adjustment doesn't seem to realistically reflect this.

    There's a lot of things you can do, but a straight 10% XP penalty now and forever sounds like it wouldn't accomplish anything significatly different from what a straight level adjustment would do.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    The prodigal son returns. Good to see you posting again Jan
    Duane Eggert

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    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    Savage Species is one of those books that has made quite a reputation, yet cannot be called really popular, as I know few people who went after it really... That could be biased, but that's what I have observed so far.

    Anyway, another way to make things interesting is to use monster/template classes (there has been a case of such a class, the scion class which was presented as one of the possible choices for the revision), since then level adjustment is actually a way to represent level adjustment by the acquisition of levels in classes that slowly change you into what your final form should be. For example, you might begin as a young adult ogre with minimal of its characteristics until you grew older (ogre levels), or a dragon could invest some of its life-essence as a sort of possession (not mind-control, just using you as a vessel to guide you), and then you could start becoming a half-dragon - a plot device I came up with for one of my players' character - he doesn't know yet :P .

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    Site Moderator Ariadne's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RaspK_FOG@Feb 20 2004, 01:11 AM
    Savage Species is one of those books that has made quite a reputation, yet cannot be called really popular, as I know few people who went after it really... That could be biased, but that's what I have observed so far.

    Savage Species! Really, a good book
    May Khirdai always bless your sword and his lightning struck your enemies!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    Anyway, another way to make things interesting is to use monster/template classes (there has been a case of such a class, the scion class which was presented as one of the possible choices for the revision), since then level adjustment is actually a way to represent level adjustment by the acquisition of levels in classes that slowly change you into what your final form should be. For example, you might begin as a young adult ogre with minimal of its characteristics until you grew older (ogre levels), or a dragon could invest some of its life-essence as a sort of possession (not mind-control, just using you as a vessel to guide you), and then you could start becoming a half-dragon - a plot device I came up with for one of my players' character - he doesn't know yet .
    The greatest weakness of Savage Species is this idea that with age= experience. Yet to a certain extent, that young ogre could hang around and farm, gaining about 100 xp per year, yet according to Savage Species he should be "growing" into an adult and earning thousands of XP!

    In other words, the "young adult" logic breaks down if the character isn't a hardcore adventurer who's earning regular chunks of xp.

    The opposite may also be true...if the young ogre should be needing another 10 years to reach full maturity, but the typical D&D game earns him 10,000+ xp from one year of adventuring, does he suddenly become as big and strong as a fully mature ogre 10 years older than himself?

    This issue becomes even more of a problem when dealing with slow-aging monster PC's, such as outsiders, giants, etc.

    I think the whole "age=levels of experience" approach can be a reasonable way of breaking down monster levels, but it can get really messy!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    There's a couple of weaknesses with level adjustments, though. Depending on the type of character, they don't necessarily scale all that well, and eventually the bonuses you gained a level adjustment for earlier become pretty meaningless compared to what you're losing out on.
    My best counter to this (and apparently 3.5 Monster Manual incorporates this) is to make many racial abilities improve at higher levels. So things like Spell Resistance, Damage Reduction, etc., if potent enough to add a level adjustment, would improve at higher character levels.

    I've done this with a few of the major/great blood abilities, as having access to them earns an ECL adjustment.

    The first one I modified is Major Resistance: Magic. Instead of a flat SR 16, I made it SR 10 + character level. (You could also make it 10 + Bloodline modifier as an alternative, using the 1st BRCS blood ability system). This way it's still useful at higher levels, and is reflective of the PC becoming stronger and more integrated with the power of his blood as he gains experience. In mechanical terms, the PC will always have 50% magic resistance against enemies with a caster level equal to the PC's character level.

    -Osprey

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