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View Full Version : Level Adjustment is Haaaaaard [3.5]



Lappy9000
2010-11-22, 03:35 PM
..........

TeqSun
2010-11-22, 03:42 PM
There are no good [balanced] LA races, to my understanding. The devs intentionally inflated LAs to make races who have them suck. Or, sometimes, they completely misjudged a racial ability and lowballed a LA.

Coidzor
2010-11-22, 03:43 PM
Well, it needs to be stronger than a Hobgoblin or people will complain that it isn't worth the LA.

Goliath and Half-giant are considered about middle of the road, but are mostly worth it because of their powerful build unlocking new options rather than being considered balanced. Not a whole lot of incentive for most martial types to reach level 20.

Feral as a template is viewed as fairly OP LA+1, but that's a template not a race...

mikethepoor
2010-11-22, 03:44 PM
It's true that there are very few races that get the level adjustment deserve, most often by having too high an adjustment. For a good baseline from the devs' point of view, I'd take a look at the catfolk from Races of the Wild. They're about a low LA +1.

Cieyrin
2010-11-22, 03:45 PM
Aasimar are pretty solidly in their LA, between unbalanced stat boost, energy resistance and Native Outsider type.

Tael
2010-11-22, 03:54 PM
Aasimar are pretty solidly in their LA, between unbalanced stat boost, energy resistance and Native Outsider type.

No offense, but Aasimar and Tieflings suck ass. The Planetouched versions of them are slightly OP for LA +0, but not by much. Planetouched Tieflings are pretty good but not OP actually.

Githzerai are pretty balanced for LA +1 I think.

Half Minotaur as a race of it's own without the size increases is good for +1 LA. Otherwise, it's possibly the best template in existence.

mikethepoor
2010-11-22, 04:07 PM
Githzerai are pretty balanced for LA +1 I think.

They'd be pretty strong at LA +1. As it is, their actual LA is +2.

Cieyrin
2010-11-22, 04:17 PM
No offense, but Aasimar and Tieflings suck ass. The Planetouched versions of them are slightly OP for LA +0, but not by much. Planetouched Tieflings are pretty good but not OP actually.

My observation of them must be tainted by Lesser Aasimar, then.


Githzerai are pretty balanced for LA +1 I think

They're LA +2, actually.

Tael
2010-11-22, 04:20 PM
Ah, my mistake on the Githzerai, reduce the DEX bonus to +4 and it's a pretty balanced +1 LA.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-22, 07:55 PM
Mineral Warrior is a balanced +1 (but template not race).

Tael
2010-11-22, 08:26 PM
Mineral Warrior is a balanced +1 (but template not race).

:smalleek:.... You're kidding right?

Otodetu
2010-11-22, 09:28 PM
Level adjustment generally suck for classes that have class features.


I suggest homebrewing it as you see fit.

This simple fix I introduced to my group seem to work fine, basically gives you semi-commoner levels in place of level adjustment, keeping your hit dice at the same level as the rest of the group.

Level adjustment

Level adjustment grants you replacement man levels.

The replacement man class include 1d4 hd, 2 skills points per level (class skills as dictated by class), all bad saves, lowest base attack bonus (as wizard).
Counts as generic hit dice (outsider, humanoid, undead, etc.)

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-22, 09:32 PM
I like the Empty Vessel from the Eberron Campaign Setting for +1 LA. Human Bonus Feat, Bonus Skill Point, decent stat increases, and +1 Power Point/Level. That said, I only use LA races in games where level adjustment buy off (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/reducingLevelAdjustments.htm) is in effect, so maybe that says something about the worth of LA in general...

Endarire
2010-11-22, 10:04 PM
Balance-wise, CR is approximately equivalent to LA. A CR4 creature probably should have 4 LA, regardless of its hit dice.

KillianHawkeye
2010-11-22, 10:08 PM
Balance-wise, CR is approximately equivalent to LA. A CR4 creature probably should have 4 LA, regardless of its hit dice.

I hope you mean ECL instead of Level Adjustment! :smalleek:

LOTRfan
2010-11-22, 10:12 PM
That wouldn't make sense, either. An Ogre has 4 HD and has a Challenge Rating of 3. -1 level adjustment? :smallconfused:

Mastikator
2010-11-22, 10:25 PM
CR is not the same as ECL. An ogre has a ECL of 6 but CR of 3. Gaining levels in for example wizard would at the start increase ELC by 1 per level, but only CR.

To make sense of it, ECL is the power level of the character in all aspects, CR is the power level in combat. This is why I feel CR should not increase linearly or equally with all classes and race combos. A level 20 wizard should not be the same CR as a level 20 fighter.

GoatBoy
2010-11-22, 10:30 PM
No one will ever take level-adjusted races seriously until there's some way to advance your spells know/per day ahead of your hit dice. Well, I think kobolds can do that, but no one will argue that they're balanced.

Would a feat similar to Practised Spellcaster that also advanced spells known/per day be broken? Even if they only went up by one level?

Coidzor
2010-11-22, 10:35 PM
Additional food for thought. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=7044.0)

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2010-11-23, 04:24 PM
when i saw the above I thought someone actually used the optimized races niche compendium. But alas.

Coidzor
2010-11-23, 05:21 PM
when i saw the above I thought someone actually used the optimized races niche compendium. But alas.

Yeah, I think I saw that maybe once before and don't even remember what website it was. Rings a bell at least.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-23, 05:51 PM
:smalleek:.... You're kidding right?

Why do you over value it and make it at +2?

Don't forget the penalties.

Eloel
2010-11-23, 06:02 PM
Whisper Gnome is a balanced LA +1 race.
Oh wait. It's LA 0.
Yay WotC!

Cogidubnus
2010-11-23, 06:22 PM
No one will ever take level-adjusted races seriously until there's some way to advance your spells know/per day ahead of your hit dice. Well, I think kobolds can do that, but no one will argue that they're balanced.

Would a feat similar to Practised Spellcaster that also advanced spells known/per day be broken? Even if they only went up by one level?

You imply that everyone wants to play an optimised spellcaster.

Beelzebub1111
2010-11-23, 06:23 PM
Ummm...OOH! Poison Dusk Lizard-folk are good. MMIII

ericgrau
2010-11-23, 06:37 PM
The LA on monster manual races are done pretty well compared to Player's Handbook classes. Maybe half of them are too strong for LA 0 and get rounded up into what's basically too weak for LA 1. I'd look at a few monsters and pick the stronger ones to ballpark the upper limit on what you can put into your own race. If you allow races/classes from other books, base your race's LA more off of them as they may be stronger.

Mineral warrior and half-minotaur are a couple of the strongest options around. Calling them balanced must be some kind of joke. I think it's only the heavy optimizers that say all races except those are too weak compared to class levels.

Myth
2010-11-23, 06:51 PM
The strongest LA 0 races are Whisper Gnome, Strongheart Halfing and Human. Anything below them is situational. Compare the benefits to what your +1 LA race gives. The most important things that races get:

- bonus feats
- immunities
- bonus ability scores (no hits to Con though!)
- flight/swim/burrow/incorporeal
- SLAs that mimic useful spells

Anything else of the common stuff is pretty much useless - DR, Fast Healing, energy resistances - all easily obtainable via magic, but terribly overpriced for LA. Bonus to skills is good at low levels but diminishes in value as the hard point investments approach 20.

Tael
2010-11-23, 07:14 PM
Mineral warrior and half-minotaur are a couple of the strongest options around. Calling them balanced must be some kind of joke. I think it's only the heavy optimizers that say all races except those are too weak compared to class levels.

For the record, I said Half-Minotaur is only balanced if you don't give the stats for size increase, and make it a race of it's own. (oh, I forgot the fast movement too)

Lamech
2010-11-23, 07:26 PM
Incarnate is totally worth the level adjustment!

Prime32
2010-11-23, 07:26 PM
The LA on monster manual races are done pretty well compared to Player's Handbook classes. Maybe half of them are too strong for LA 0 and get rounded up into what's basically too weak for LA 1. I'd look at a few monsters and pick the stronger ones to ballpark the upper limit on what you can put into your own race. If you allow races/classes from other books, base your race's LA more off of them as they may be stronger.

Mineral warrior and half-minotaur are a couple of the strongest options around. Calling them balanced must be some kind of joke. I think it's only the heavy optimizers that say all races except those are too weak compared to class levels.Having HD lower than your level gives you serious weaknesses. Besides the lower BAB, hp, skills and saves, certain effects (like sleep, cloudkill and blasphemy) can kill you while your party members are unaffected.

And anything with an LA over +2 in the Monster Manual is likely to be extremely underpowered for its level. Most LAs seem to be written without taking racial HD into account, and templates are even worse. For instance, a human vampire fighter 1 played by a PC is apparently an even match for a human vampire fighter 7 played by the DM. Huh? :smallconfused:

ericgrau
2010-11-23, 08:29 PM
Having HD lower than your level gives you serious weaknesses. Besides the lower BAB, hp, skills and saves, certain effects (like sleep, cloudkill and blasphemy) can kill you while your party members are unaffected.

And anything with an LA over +2 in the Monster Manual is likely to be extremely underpowered for its level. Most LAs seem to be written without taking racial HD into account, and templates are even worse. For instance, a human vampire fighter 1 played by a PC is apparently an even match for a human vampire fighter 7 played by the DM. Huh? :smallconfused:

LA and CR are different b/c PCs get higher stats and far more gear. You can't pretend stats and gear are worth anywhere near LA 0. Some monsters, the vampire in particular, also have special defenses that are far easier for PCs to overcome than it is for most monsters to overcome. The DM would have to pick on you pretty hard like some pick on paladins.

It is true that many LAs are worth less at lower levels when your HP and so on are so low, but they are also often worth more at high levels when this doesn't matter so much. The exception are the special abilities that become obsolete. You could house rule around this, have a changing LA, try Savage Species with class levels before you eat 100% of the LA, or etc. if you don't mind the extra paperwork.

Sir Swindle89
2010-11-23, 08:40 PM
Balance-wise, CR is approximately equivalent to LA. A CR4 creature probably should have 4 LA, regardless of its hit dice.

Actually the DMG does imply this, however other sources strongly disagree.

A level 1 PC race with a PC class is a CR1 technically, it is therefore logical to say a CR8 is equal to 8 levels in a PC class. It's not really a good metric in practice but it is logical.

Foryn Gilnith
2010-11-23, 08:44 PM
For instance, a human vampire fighter 1 played by a PC is apparently an even match for a human vampire fighter 7 played by the DM. Huh? :smallconfused:

The dominated thralls aren't included in the NPC's CR (though they are included in the Encounter Level). They are included in the PC's ECL, however awkwardly. So it's not so much that's a human vampire fighter 1 is a match for a human vampire fighter 7, it's that the fighter 1 and his vampire spawn and his minions are a match for the fighter 7 alone. A less patently ridiculous assertion.

Prime32
2010-11-24, 04:22 AM
The dominated thralls aren't included in the NPC's CR (though they are included in the Encounter Level). They are included in the PC's ECL, however awkwardly. So it's not so much that's a human vampire fighter 1 is a match for a human vampire fighter 7, it's that the fighter 1 and his vampire spawn and his minions are a match for the fighter 7 alone. A less patently ridiculous assertion.So spellcasters with dominate on their spell lists should have a level adjustment?

ffone
2010-11-24, 04:44 AM
I hate to say it, but as a DM I'm glad LAs are conservative. Too many players seem to feel it's an entitlement to play some bizarre race that's hated by everyone else in the setting, and then expect the other PCs to metagame and 'just know' this guy is worth teaming up with, and for NPCs to interact with them....and if they don't, they've committed the grievous sin of political incorrectness and not recognizing The Drizzt of Feral Half-Minotaurs for what he is (Chaotic Awesome Good).

If some odd race or template is too weak for its LA (which might be 0, no no uses it and the world moves on. If it's too strong, suddenly every campaign becomes the Dragonwrought Kobold Quest (LA 0, but same point about weird races).

Also I find odd that players feel the entitlement to never be underpowered by taking LA, but will readily accept that certain multiclass combinations are underpowered. An LA of X is like X levels in a class. In some cases it is a 'class' (Savage Species or Savage Progressions style). And the way some people speak about it really does smell like real-world political correctness.

Also we here at GitP should remember they are not balanced vs high optimization. LA tends not to figure in optimization since the races often give straightforward (Ability score) or defensive bonuses, but for casual groups it's often on par with random multiclassing (with the nonspellcaster classes). LA and spellcasting don't mix, sure, but that's just a facet of the spellcasting / multiclassing problem.

Lucid
2010-11-24, 05:11 AM
I like the Empty Vessel from the Eberron Campaign Setting for +1 LA. Human Bonus Feat, Bonus Skill Point, decent stat increases, and +1 Power Point/Level. I've seen this mentioned before but I can't find any base for it. Reading the entry in the ECS it just mentions the stats the generally have before racial adjustments, and the stats are just the basic elite array.
But they're still psionic humans with some skill bonuses which is pretty nice I guess.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-24, 11:51 AM
I've seen this mentioned before but I can't find any base for it. Reading the entry in the ECS it just mentions the stats the generally have before racial adjustments, and the stats are just the basic elite array.
But they're still psionic humans with some skill bonuses which is pretty nice I guess.

Nope, did you read page 291.
It says stats before racial adjustment: 8 12 10 13 14 15.

Now compare to pg 290:8 12 10 17 18 21.

Minusing the two: +0 Str, +0 Dex, + 0 Con, +4 Int, +4 Wis, +6 Cha.

Foryn Gilnith
2010-11-24, 11:55 AM
So spellcasters with dominate on their spell lists should have a level adjustment?

1) That does not logically follow from my post, which never said anything about what should be done about level adjustment.
2) Sure, giving full casters a lower level has been proposed in the past.

Lucid
2010-11-24, 03:25 PM
Nope, did you read page 291.
It says stats before racial adjustment: 8 12 10 13 14 15.

Now compare to pg 290:8 12 10 17 18 21.

Minusing the two: +0 Str, +0 Dex, + 0 Con, +4 Int, +4 Wis, +6 Cha.I get that, but those are the stats for an Inspired, one who is is possessed by a Quori spirit. They gain the mental ability scores of the quori, if higher than the host. They also don't have a listed LA.
My understanding is that the empty vessel is an ideal host for quori, but it's not (yet) possessed, so it has no ability adjustments.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-24, 03:36 PM
The mental stats of Quari are +6 Int, +8 Wis, +6 Cha

So there is a discrepency as empty Vessel has +4 Int, +4 Wis, +6 Cha.

So I'm not sure.

Malachei
2010-11-25, 09:58 AM
Re the OP's question: I think LA's effects are too situational (i.e. campaign-dependent) to make a benchmark feasible.

That said, for a ranger or rogue build, Catfolk are nice for LA +1 (+4 Dex, +2 Cha), as well as the Goliath (+4 Str, -2 Dex, +2 Con, function as large size) for a barbarian or other martial character. Then there is the Dark Template, as well as Feral.


I hate to say it, but as a DM I'm glad LAs are conservative. Too many players seem to feel it's an entitlement to play some bizarre race that's hated by everyone else in the setting, and then expect the other PCs to metagame (...)

Absolutely!

-------
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,

Eurus
2010-11-25, 01:54 PM
I think one big issue is that LA tends to change in value as you go up or down in ECL, whereas most races and templates don't scale.

Mineral Warrior, for example. A level 1 or 2 character with 1 LA who gets (for example) some stat boosts, natural armor, DR, and a few other bonuses out of it probably isn't missing a whole lot from that one missing hit die and is probably at least as competent as a similarly leveled character; a level 15 character probably isn't as impressed. Two points of strength and four of con make less of a difference when even unoptimized characters throw around handfulls of dice and save-or-dies (even though his hit points actually scale more favorably with con), and a few points of AC is less impressive. Even the DR goes down in value massively. The smite actually does scale, but probably isn't worth the feat or class feature that the character might get from that level. That's not to say that the template necessarily isn't worth it anymore, but Mineral Warrior is generally considered a very powerful +1 LA, so most other templates come out much less favorably at later levels.

This isn't even getting into the issue of spellcasters, on whom the issue is even more pronounced (that whole "exponential growth" thing).

Greenish
2010-11-25, 06:04 PM
For the record, I said Half-Minotaur is only balanced if you don't give the stats for size increase, and make it a race of it's own. (oh, I forgot the fast movement too)Half-Minotaurs don't have "fast movement", they have the normal movement rate for Large bipeds.

That said, even without any stat boosts (let alone natural weapon, scent and free feat) half-minotaurs would be a rather strong race for +1 LA, which normally only gets you Powerful Build.

Tael
2010-11-25, 09:46 PM
Half-Minotaurs don't have "fast movement", they have the normal movement rate for Large bipeds.

That said, even without any stat boosts (let alone natural weapon, scent and free feat) half-minotaurs would be a rather strong race for +1 LA, which normally only gets you Powerful Build.

Meh, I really think Goliath is underpowered personally. I would only take LA if it was really good, especially with all these ridiculously good LA +0 races running around. (Also my group uses PF races, in which humans are the best choice by miles. They're better than most LA+1 races.)

Cieyrin
2010-11-28, 04:29 PM
(Also my group uses PF races, in which humans are the best choice by miles. They're better than most LA+1 races.)

PF Races are essentially all LA +1, anyways, though. PF Humans get their cake and get to eat it, too.

Tael
2010-11-28, 07:23 PM
PF Races are essentially all LA +1, anyways, though. PF Humans get their cake and get to eat it, too.

Hardly. PF Humans are amazing, but that's only because humans were already really good at everything before. A lot of LA +0 races are better than PF ones, and Goliath is substantially better than any of the PF races. Unfortunately, it still doesn't compare to a class level.

Sindri
2010-11-28, 10:02 PM
That wouldn't make sense, either. An Ogre has 4 HD and has a Challenge Rating of 3. -1 level adjustment? :smallconfused:

Yes. Giant Levels suck. Compare a RAW Ogre to a 3rd level fighter. However for PCs, keep in mind that the elite array or standard rolling methods adds one to CR, making an Ogre PC ECL 4. And then there's equipment to factor in...

Anyway, given that PC classes are supposed to be worth 1CR per level on NPCs, that means that a CR 7 monster is equivalent to a level 7 character when they're on the GM side. I think that the ECL for a monstrous PC should never be more than 2 higher than their CR.

Nohwl
2010-11-28, 10:32 PM
when i saw the above I thought someone actually used the optimized races niche compendium. But alas.

if it makes you feel better, i have it bookmarked.