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Achernar
2010-04-18, 10:25 PM
Hi All,

In the process of creating some unorthodox characters for a savage humanoid-dominated campaign setting, I have encountered the unfortunate problem of racial hit dice: extra baggage that waste my first level skills and make character builds more difficult and "muddy." Is there an established way to eliminate them? The build I was working on was a lizardfolk Knight/cavalier with a character level below astronomical, and 3d8 of Humanoid puts a big cramp in my style. Can anyone help?

Thanks for reading and responding
Achernar

Runestar
2010-04-18, 10:35 PM
The only RAW way I can think of is to get yourself lv-drained (say by a wight), then deliberately failing the fort save 24 hours later to lose the racial HD.

Otherwise, I see nothing wrong with simply removing the racial HD and reducing the cr accordingly.

tyckspoon
2010-04-18, 10:37 PM
RAW-wise, the only means I can think of is to get Energy Drained, fail the save so that the negative level converts to an actual lowered character level, and then regain the XP and take the 'regained' level as a real PC class. It's pretty darn cheesy, and you're probably better off just making the case to your DM that being a Lizardfolk isn't worth paying 3 levels and asking if he'll waive at least the LA component for you.

Erith
2010-04-18, 10:42 PM
I have no idea if this works, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

If a monster only has 1 racial hit die, such as elves or humans, you can substitute it for 1 class level. So what if you (the part I doubt works) find a way to energy drain yourself? If you voluntarily fail your saves, it results in a permanently reduced level. If you used a thought bottle, you can even go back to the level you were originally, only with class levels instead of rhd.

Now, when I proposed this to my dm, he just said that swapping 1 hd for one level refers to your original hd, not your modified, and that before you can advance any other class after the energy drain you have to regain all rhd, but I never could find his source, leading me to believe these to be (sane) house rules.

edit: ninja'd

Achernar
2010-04-18, 10:52 PM
OK, I guess I should clear up that I am building an NPC [a something along the lines of a general] for a barbary state. I am the DM. I interpreted the racial HD to be a ball-and-chain to make up for ...something... that would otherwise make the lizards a little too powerful. The same problem showed up while I was trying to create bugbear ninjas [irony, mostly], and those were scrapped (3 featureless HD on a level four character? Uh, no.). I wanted to know how to keep the characters free of both cheese and what amounts to flavorless cold tofu.

Would upping LA fix this problem, or are the RHD considered-*snrk*- beneficial? :smalltongue:

tyckspoon
2010-04-18, 10:57 PM
RHD are better than LA, in that you at least get standard HD benefits for them (that is, HP, skill points, BAB and Save progression, feats and ability score increases at the appropriate points.) They generally don't compare to a decent class level. If you're building NPCs, you can be pretty sure you won't break anything by ignoring low LA values and just building your Lizardfolk and Bugbears with only their RHD (you could also retrain them into real class levels, but that *will* significantly increase their challenge, and you'll need to account for that when you pit them against your PCs.)

Dacia Brabant
2010-04-18, 11:28 PM
Yeah racial HD are better than LA but they're still terrible on the whole for anyone who's going to be taking PC classes. I sometimes see DMs allow racial HD to be swapped out for levels in the race's favored class and I think that's fair. In your lizardfolk's case that would be Druid, so kind of powerful but hardly any more broken than any other member of that class and you still have the +1 LA to deal with.

A lizardfolk Druid/Knight riding its animal companion, say a giant croc or some kind of dinosaur, would be rather badass I'd say.

Irreverent Fool
2010-04-18, 11:30 PM
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mm/20011118a

This offered me some inspiration.

I was considering this, myself, just the other day. Specifically, I was thinking about the level-drain aspect. Because this exists, I really see very little wrong with simply allowing a character to replace RHD with class levels. Just make sure to remove the racial saves/etc and make sure you know which abilities calculate based off RHD and which calculate based off of HD.

The LA doesn't need to be recalculated at all, since it is (supposedly) independent of RHD.

Poison, for example, tends to calculate based off of 1/2 RHD. Similar to the abilities granted by templates like the half-nymph from some Dragon mag or another.

Allowing them to be swapped for favored class seems more than reasonable.

RHD suck. They're worse than fighter levels.

obnoxious
sig

The Cat Goddess
2010-04-18, 11:45 PM
Racial Hit Dice are, in many cases, a balancing act to add along with the +LA of a race.

For example, a Were-Rat & a Were-Tiger both have the same +LA... yet, would you say a Were-Rat with no animal level and 6 levels of Swordsage, for example... is just as powerful as a Were-Tiger with no animal levels and 6 levels of Swordsage?

Now compare a Were-Rat with 1 Animal level and 6 levels of Swordsage to a Were-Tiger with 6 Animal levels and 1 level of Swordsage.

The latter is clearly a much closer balance.

Mark Hall
2010-04-19, 12:05 AM
FWIW, I tend to replace RHD with NPC class levels. They're not quite as nice as full class levels, but they still have the benefits (such as they are) of RHD without the full benefit of class levels.

Divide by Zero
2010-04-19, 12:08 AM
It should be noted that RHD are not necessarily better than LA if the LA is fairly low (+3 or less, unless it's a low-level only campaign) and buyoff is allowed.

Captain Six
2010-04-19, 12:12 AM
Quick'n'Sloppy, every 2 HD convert to +1 LA. I don't know the exact ratios of power between the two but that would at least give you more class levels, which is strongest in the long run.

Edit: Which then also leaves you open for LA buyoff, if it is allowed.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-04-19, 12:16 AM
One approach I've tried before is a variation of LA buyoff for RHD. Each time you gain a level, you may also replace one RHD with a level in the same class. So a monster with 4 RHD and 1 level in druid who gains another druid level becomes RHD 3/druid 3, then RHD 2/druid 5 at the next level, then RHD 1/druid 7, then finally ends up as a druid 9. Like with LA buyoff, you start with the penalty but eventually catch up to your non-LA counterparts.

I've noticed the benefits of this method vary based on type of RHD and which class(es) they take, so it's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution unless you vary the rate for certain RHD types and classes (melee swaps out more quickly than casters, for instance).

Runestar
2010-04-19, 01:58 AM
IF you are an npc in the hands of a DM, you won't need to worry about LA, which is a balancing tool for playing powerful monsters as a PC.

Racial HD is usually a boon for npcs, because you tend to get quite a lot of them for your cr, and you can make use of the non-associated class rule to create some fairly strong monsters for their cr.

For example, a gnoll is cr1. Tack on 2 lvs of cleric (which increases its cr by only +1 as they would be treated as non-associated), so you get a gnoll cleric2 at cr2.

Compare this to a human cleric2, which is also cr2, but statistically inferior in every aspect. :smallamused:

Divide by Zero
2010-04-19, 02:02 AM
IF you are an npc in the hands of a DM, you won't need to worry about LA, which is a balancing tool for playing powerful monsters as a PC.

Racial HD is usually a boon for npcs, because you tend to get quite a lot of them for your cr, and you can make use of the non-associated class rule to create some fairly strong monsters for their cr.

For example, a gnoll is cr1. Tack on 2 lvs of cleric (which increases its cr by only +1 as they would be treated as non-associated), so you get a gnoll cleric2 at cr2.

Compare this to a human cleric2, which is also cr2, but statistically inferior in every aspect. :smallamused:

Congratulations, you have just proven why the CR system is broken. For my campaigns I pretty much just ignore it entirely and eyeball the encounter power levels. It usually turns out better.

WhyBother
2010-04-19, 02:33 AM
IF you are an npc in the hands of a DM, you won't need to worry about LA, which is a balancing tool for playing powerful monsters as a PC.

Racial HD is usually a boon for npcs, because you tend to get quite a lot of them for your cr, and you can make use of the non-associated class rule to create some fairly strong monsters for their cr.

For example, a gnoll is cr1. Tack on 2 lvs of cleric (which increases its cr by only +1 as they would be treated as non-associated), so you get a gnoll cleric2 at cr2.

Compare this to a human cleric2, which is also cr2, but statistically inferior in every aspect. :smallamused:

Of course, that's not exactly what non-associated class levels are supposed to be used for. Non-associated levels are for when a creature and PC levels go together so poorly that the features of one will never be useful given the features or purpose of the other.

For example, if you give a giant levels in wizard because you gave him the fluff of being his tribe's shaman, but you intend to give him nothing more than a few non-combat spells. He gets the benefits of skills and slightly higher than normal BAB (ha!), hp, saves, and maybe a feat depending on how many levels we're talking, but you've already admitted to yourself that you're not going to use his main class feature -- spellcasting -- to any real benefit. This would be a prime candidate for non-associated CR advancement, because the this wizardly giant is just a (poorly) advanced normal giant.

For the Gnoll cleric example, you plan to use the stat benefits of being a Gnoll, and the full features of the cleric class to create a better-than-normal cleric. That sounds like the kind of synergy that the default CR rules (full association and full increase in CR) presume you're going for.

Runestar
2010-04-19, 03:39 AM
For the Gnoll cleric example, you plan to use the stat benefits of being a Gnoll, and the full features of the cleric class to create a better-than-normal cleric. That sounds like the kind of synergy that the default CR rules (full association and full increase in CR) presume you're going for.

Not entirely, I am simply going by the designer's suggestions here.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dd/20060223a

Which seems fair - monsters need to be that tough to be expected to pose a decent threat to a group of well-coordinated players.

I wouldn't use classed npcs as guidelines anyways. There is empirical evidence to show that pure-classed npcs tend to be much weaker than their crs would otherwise indicate (and this disparity tends to widen at higher lvs). Just compare any monster with an equivalent npc of that cr - the monster will likely be statistically superior.

For example, a solar is cr23, as is a half-celestial cleric20. A planetar is cr16 despite having cleric17 spellcasting. A fighter20 is supposed to be cr20, but so is the tarrasque...Guess which are stronger? :smalltongue:

Kylarra
2010-04-19, 09:06 AM
Eh, the stats (+4str, +2 con, -2 int/cha) and 2 rhd aren't going to be of any real significance on a cleric X, so by that metric, associated class levels are doing fine. Note that it only makes him slightly less squishy at low levels with an additional 12.5+con*2 hp. Other than that, he's just a normal cleric more or less. Remember that after 2 cleric levels, your gnoll increases in CR 1:1 as if they were now associated.

Divide by Zero
2010-04-19, 09:17 AM
A fighter20 is supposed to be cr20, but so is the tarrasque...Guess which are stronger? :smalltongue:

My money's on the fighter.

Eldariel
2010-04-19, 11:40 AM
My money's on the fighter.

I recall we've done something like that, tho with the stupid failass Pathfinder Tarrasque...

Prime32
2010-04-19, 11:44 AM
Human wizard 48 vs. Tarrasque wizard 48. The first is CR48, the second is CR44. Discuss.

Irreverent Fool
2010-04-19, 11:48 AM
My money's on the fighter.

Agreed.

Tarrasque; Treasure: None
Fighter20; Treasure: Enough to hire a wizard.

obnoxious
sig

Eldariel
2010-04-19, 12:04 PM
Human wizard 48 vs. Tarrasque wizard 48. The first is CR48, the second is CR44. Discuss.

Tarrasque's base Int is 3. Duh.

Parvum
2010-04-19, 12:19 PM
If you're willing to go homebrew, there is something here in the playground that you can use as a template for other monster characters. It even includes some really monstrous monsters, like the vargouille.

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=142724

Darcand
2010-04-19, 12:30 PM
I've always handled it by replacing racial hit dice with character levels and then adding LA. It makes sense to me that a stone giant who spent half his childhood reading books and mixing potions rather then throwing rocks back and forth with his siblings might have a few D4s for HD and a lower BA in addition to the spells and skills he picked up. Likewise, and a mindflayer with a greataxe and anger issues very well may be a little more solid, better at hitting things, and occassionally fly into a frenzy.