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Unread 17th of July, 2006, 14:29
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[D&D] Level Adjustment Guide

Level Adjustment Guide
This is a rough system for estimating level adjustments. It is not perfect, of course, but it's better than any other system I've seen besides playtesting (which takes time). Especially Savage Species. Still, use it as a guideline only.

Level Adjustment Points (LAP)
This system uses Level Adjustment Points (LAP) to determine the proper LA for a race or template.

LAP Costs
Ability Scores: A modifier to Constitution costs 2 LAP per. The highest other modifier costs 3 per, the next highest 2 per, and the rest 1 per. Example: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, +4 Wisdom, and -2 Charisma comes out to 4 LAP (Strength) + 2 LAP (Dexterity) - 4 LAP (Constitution) +12 LAP (Wisdom) - 2 LAP (Charisma) = 12 LAP.

Armor Class: A natural armor or dodge bonus to AC costs 3 LAP per. A size bonus to AC costs 4 LAP per.

Hit Points: A increase of one in hit die type costs 3 LAP, as do 10 bonus hit points.

Speed: A modifier to speed (relative to 30 feet) costs 4 LAP per 10 feet.

Saves: A bonus to one saving throw costs 1 LAP per.

Bonus Feat: A bonus 1st-level feat costs 3 LAP. Better feats cost more.

Skills: A bonus to one skill might cost between 0.1 and 0.5 per, depending on what skill it is.

Special Abilities: Low-light vision costs 1 LAP. Darkvision costs 1 LAP plus 1 LAP per 60 feet of range. Other special abilities should be approximated.

Monster Hit Dice: Costs for monster hit dice (including type qualities, except bonus hit points) are as follows:
Aberration: 4 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
(Animal: 5 LAP + 11 LAP per HD)
Construct: 20 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Dragon: 12 LAP + 13 LAP per HD
Elemental: 25 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Fey: 5 LAP + 9 LAP per HD
Giant: 4 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Humanoid: 2 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Magical Beast: 7 LAP + 12.5 LAP per HD
Monstrous Humanoid: 6 LAP + 12 LAP per HD
(Ooze: 30 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD)
Outsider: 8 LAP + 12.5 LAP per HD
Plant: 30 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Undead: 30 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD
Vermin: 14 LAP + 10.5 LAP per HD

Estimating ECL
Determine how much LA a level is worth in your campaign. I usually go with 22 LAP per level, but this may vary depending on what feats, prestige classes, and such are available in your campaign.

If you're creating a template, multiply 22 LAP (or whatever number you determined) by the ECL you want to get the number of LAP the template can use.

If you're creating a template, do the same, but add about 7 at the end. This is because the standard races have some perks without any LA.
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Last edited by The Hive Custodian; 18th of July, 2006 at 05:47.
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Unread 17th of July, 2006, 19:23
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Back when I posted at the 3ebb and before Savage Species came out we had essentially found the perfect method of determining ECL(sadly this was after the series of exciting ECL-based mistakes I made in VSF). I imagine it must still be online somewhere, sadly I didn't save a copy, nor can I remember who made it.

Then Savage Species was released and everybody was immeditely disspointed. We'd been expecting an exciting revamp to the ECL system to help it make sense and actually got useful, what we got was a system which somebody had spent less time on than we had. And yet for some reason, the people followed WotC.


One of the key problems is that the base races are going to have different numbers of points for their races. Dwarves and Half-orcs are still at opposite ends of the spectrum from what I remember.
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Unread 18th of July, 2006, 03:39
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That reminds me--some of the places where I put down "LA" I should have written "ECL".

A strong standard race comes out to about 7-8 LAP under this system. However, many (such as half-orcs) don't reach this amount. Then again, those races are generally considered weaker anyhow.

It's a shame you couldn't find the other system. So far the only three I've read are Savage Species (sucks), Soldarin's ECL calculator (+20 Wis = +1 LA? No thanks.), and mine. Do you remember anything about it?
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Last edited by The Hive Custodian; 18th of July, 2006 at 05:48.
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Unread 18th of July, 2006, 06:56
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I don't really like this system, or any other system I've seen for determining LA. I mean, for instance, it just says to approximate special abilities, which is where many races earn the bulk of their LA anyways, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of this guide. As well, I question how accurate the ability-score-o-meter works with very high numbers, although without studying it I can't say for sure.

I would suggest not bothering trying to create any guide for determining ECL, and rather putting all that effort into more accurately gauging the races that you need on a case-by-case basis, largely because some abilities are more useful in combination than you would think, or more useless independantly than is obvious. As well, at higher ECLs, lower-powered abilities become less valuable; if I estimate that a race is going to have an ECL of 12-13, a +2 natural armour bonus isn't worth anything more than token consideration, because by then it's easily exceeded by cheap magic items and isn't much of a help. But to a +0 LA base race, that sort of thing is a big deal.

In the end, it all comes down to individual analysis anyways, so I don't see the point.
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Unread 18th of July, 2006, 10:54
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Obviously no ECL system can hope to cover all possible special abilities, or even a significant portion of them. Then again, assigning a use-per-day special ability to a race is generally a bad idea. A 4th-level spell-like ability once per day is usually extremely powerful at 1st level but useless at 15th. Furthermore, I would argue that there are many races whose special abilities are not the bulk of their abilities, and this guide can hopefully aid in estimating some part of their abilities.

The ability score system was designed so that concentrated ability scores cost somewhat more than spread out ones. A player can take much advantage of +6 to two ability scores than +2 to all six ability scores. Granted, I have very little knowledge of anything outside of core, so this wasn't designed to take into account the possibility that there are some feats/special abilities/what have you that allow you to base most of your actions on a single ability score.

Finally, in D&D 3.5, magical items and spells give an enhancement bonus to natural armor, effectively allowing it to stack with racial natural armor.
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Unread 19th of July, 2006, 03:34
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Obviously no ECL system can hope to cover all possible special abilities, or even a significant portion of them
And yet we all continue to wish for a miracle .
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Unread 19th of July, 2006, 08:16
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Eh, this should be done the same way as CR - DM guesswork and mutual agreement with the players on balance issues.
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