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    Default The LA-assignment thread

    Please post in the next thread, thanks in advance.

    In the past, I've seen many threads on under- or overpowered monsters, and even a few that attempted to fix some faulty challenge ratings.

    However, I have never seen anyone trying to give the various critters WotC has made an appropriate level adjustment. That's a pity, because many monsters are interesting creatures that are either ruined by an unplayable LA, or a total lack of it. In this thread, I will attempt to fix this.

    All assigned LAs can be found in the archive.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2017-04-07 at 06:11 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Aboleth


    You've got an itch to play a giant psionic slime-slug? Well, I'm not judging.

    Aboleths have 8 RHD of the useless aberration type (worthless skills, too), but they also have a bunch of spell-like abilities (mostly illusion-themed). The spell-likes are decent, but probably won't be applicable in combat.

    Aboleths also have three interesting natural abilities: living beings they touch have their skin transformed into a slimy membrane that must continuously be moistened and anyone getting close to them underwater may lose the ability to breathe air for several hours. Then again, anyone fighting an aboleth underwater is probably able to breathe water in some way. As a result, I don't consider those abilities valuable enough to actually affect LA.

    The third, and by far most useful of those abilities, allows you to enslave any living creature for days. That's almost as good as Dominate Monster 3/day, except the enslaved creature gets a new saving throw every day. Minionmancy yay!

    Aboleths also get some pretty fun feats in LoM, and their spell-likes can be made quite potent with the right support. In the end, I feel comfortable assigning a +2 level adjustment to this monster, considering how badly it suffers from its HD.

    Finally, please enjoy this fun aboleth fact: all but one of their psionic abilities are from the bard list and aboleths have more charisma than intelligence. Therefore, an aboleth bard makes far more sense than the sample aboleth wizard they give us.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2017-03-18 at 08:03 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Steve the Aboleth became a Bard if I recall correctly.

    I'd play the heck out of a LA+1 Aboleth. Hell, I'd play it at LA+2 or +3 without complaint. The abilities are pretty solid and should do a decent job of staying relevant. They also have a few interesting race-specific feats in LoM (Quickslime is pretty hilarious). Also note that if you advance it one more Aberration HD, it becomes Huge. Losing manufactured weapons hurts a bit, but there's always a dip in Monk or Totemist or something if the 4 tentacles plus Rapidstrike aren't enough. Making a melee monster out of a low LA Aboleth seems pretty straightforward.

    I suspect you're underestimating Enslave and the Sp abilities as well, especially with Cha boosted a bit. Also, the CL16 can probably be leveraged somehow. Soul Eater with Spell Drain stealing spells then casting them (potentially from a projected image) seems fun off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's a way to use the particularly high CL to qualify for something of note.

    The biggest problem is taking the fish out of water. Being aquatic comes with some downsides and the 10ft move speed hurts. You should be using some manner of permaflight by the level we're talking about anyway though, so movement we can deal with. Taking Feathered Wings off the table is unfortunate, but things should go pretty smoothly with a Winged Mask. You can even have one of your enslaved minions using it on you so you don't have to burn your own actions if the low-CL flight gets dispelled.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    Also note that if you advance it one more Aberration HD, it becomes Huge.
    That's not all that important. Player characters always advance by class levels. Only NPCs can advance by HD.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Achaierai

    It's got 6 RHD, which already kinda sucks. These are outsider levels...which are probably among the best racial HDs...still not good, but at least not among the worst. Of course, all of these monsters are going to be hampered by RHDs, so wouldn't it be a better effort to try and represent the monsters, nix those?

    So, I'll assume that you get ability and feat adjustments from RHD as normal HD, and that it assigned +2 to strength. I am also assuming that the base abilities of the monster entry is equivalent is the "average" specimen, as 10 is an average human.

    Abilities: +7 Str, +3 Dex, +4 Con, +1 Int, +4 Wis, +6 Cha. OK that's...rather radical.

    Natural Attacks: 2 claws (2d6 damage), 1 bite (4d6 damage?!). So 8d6, given a full attack, 4d6 on standard action. That's fairly significant, equivalent to a 4th level caster on a standard action...if they were blasting...with the restriction of melee...but let's not talk about that.
    Speed: 50ft, or 10 squares. That's noticeable in some campaigns.
    Sight: Darkvision 60 ft. I won't factor it in, just noting.
    Spell Resistance: 19. Equivalent to an 8th level drow. Doesn't continue to scale though. Also I don't think I've had anyone play Drow for anything but RP reasons.
    Size: Large...but based on the Advancement, we could easily say Medium, since we are taking away the HD. So, let's just say Medium.
    Special: Weapons and natural attacks count as Lawful and Evil for purposes of damage reduction

    Black Cloud: 3/day, targets in 10 ft of Achaierai take 2d6 damage. There's a bit about insanity as cast by a 16th level caster, but that's not really going to come up in an Adventurer's life. It doesn't mention a cast time. I assume it has one though, so none too significant.

    Incapacities: The monster entry says it can wield weapons. Unlikely to be firearms, or even reasonably a bow, though, because of how the claw works. One could argue for it not being able to cast, because of not having hands, nor anything that specifically lifts that requirement, like Dragons do.

    LA: Probably a +3, and maybe restrict it from play until the party's level 6? As far as martial characters go, it's fairly radical, mostly due to its stat adjustments. Even the odd Bard or Sorcerer (assuming they can cast), might pick it in a...rather low OP setting. The spell resistance is highly valued when concerning most LA, as well. Natural attacks are also pretty darn good, even without need for optimization, and add a lot of early game power.

    LA buy off would allow you to negate +3 by level 9, which seems decent. Level 16 is far too long though. However, its early game strength can be overwhelming, and not something the rest of the party can keep up with.
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2016-04-24 at 02:44 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    Steve the Aboleth became a Bard if I recall correctly.

    I'd play the heck out of a LA+1 Aboleth. Hell, I'd play it at LA+2 or +3 without complaint. The abilities are pretty solid and should do a decent job of staying relevant. They also have a few interesting race-specific feats in LoM (Quickslime is pretty hilarious). Also note that if you advance it one more Aberration HD, it becomes Huge. Losing manufactured weapons hurts a bit, but there's always a dip in Monk or Totemist or something if the 4 tentacles plus Rapidstrike aren't enough. Making a melee monster out of a low LA Aboleth seems pretty straightforward.

    I suspect you're underestimating Enslave and the Sp abilities as well, especially with Cha boosted a bit. Also, the CL16 can probably be leveraged somehow. Soul Eater with Spell Drain stealing spells then casting them (potentially from a projected image) seems fun off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's a way to use the particularly high CL to qualify for something of note.

    The biggest problem is taking the fish out of water. Being aquatic comes with some downsides and the 10ft move speed hurts. You should be using some manner of permaflight by the level we're talking about anyway though, so movement we can deal with. Taking Feathered Wings off the table is unfortunate, but things should go pretty smoothly with a Winged Mask. You can even have one of your enslaved minions using it on you so you don't have to burn your own actions if the low-CL flight gets dispelled.
    You don't actually have to advance them 1 HD: aboleth are huge from the go.

    You make some good points, but while the sum of the abilities may be worth +2 or +3 LA, I am not sure if that's applicable here. Aboleths are... spread out, to say the least, and the unwritten law of D&D is that being good at one thing is better than being decent at several others.

    Still, I'll bump them to +2 LA for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Achaierai

    It's got 6 RHD, which already kinda sucks. These are outsider levels...which are probably among the best racial HDs...still not good, but at least not among the worst. Of course, all of these monsters are going to be hampered by RHDs, so wouldn't it be a better effort to try and represent the monsters, nix those?

    So, I'll assume that you get ability and feat adjustments from RHD as normal HD, and that it assigned +2 to strength. I am also assuming that the base abilities of the monster entry is equivalent is the "average" specimen, as 10 is an average human.

    Abilities: +7 Str, +3 Dex, +4 Con, +1 Int, +4 Wis, +6 Cha. OK that's...rather radical.

    Natural Attacks: 2 claws (2d6 damage), 1 bite (4d6 damage?!). So 8d6, given a full attack, 4d6 on standard action. That's fairly significant, equivalent to a 4th level caster on a standard action...if they were blasting...with the restriction of melee...but let's not talk about that.
    Speed: 50ft, or 10 squares. That's noticeable in some campaigns.
    Sight: Darkvision 60 ft. I won't factor it in, just noting.
    Spell Resistance: 19. Equivalent to an 8th level drow. Doesn't continue to scale though. Also I don't think I've had anyone play Drow for anything but RP reasons.
    Size: Large...but based on the Advancement, we could easily say Medium, since we are taking away the HD. So, let's just say Medium.
    Special: Weapons and natural attacks count as Lawful and Evil for purposes of damage reduction

    Black Cloud: 3/day, targets in 10 ft of Achaierai take 2d6 damage. There's a bit about insanity as cast by a 16th level caster, but that's not really going to come up in an Adventurer's life. It doesn't mention a cast time. I assume it has one though, so none too significant.

    Incapacities: The monster entry says it can wield weapons. Unlikely to be firearms, or even reasonably a bow, though, because of how the claw works. One could argue for it not being able to cast, because of not having hands, nor anything that specifically lifts that requirement, like Dragons do.

    LA: Probably a +3, and maybe restrict it from play until the party's level 6? As far as martial characters go, it's fairly radical, mostly due to its stat adjustments. Even the odd Bard or Sorcerer (assuming they can cast), might pick it in a...rather low OP setting. The spell resistance is highly valued when concerning most LA, as well. Natural attacks are also pretty darn good, even without need for optimization, and add a lot of early game power.

    LA buy off would allow you to negate +3 by level 9, which seems decent. Level 16 is far too long though. However, its early game strength can be overwhelming, and not something the rest of the party can keep up with.
    Sango, I appreciate you trying to help, and I may not have been clear in the OP, but could you please not do this? Firstly, discussion on the aboleth is still ongoing, and secondly, I don't like you hijacking someone's thread.

    I'll post my personal assessment of the Achaierai later today: could you please wait with your suggestions until then?
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post

    Sango, I appreciate you trying to help, and I may not have been clear in the OP, but could you please not do this? Firstly, discussion on the aboleth is still ongoing, and secondly, I don't like you hijacking someone's thread.

    I'll post my personal assessment of the Achaierai later today: could you please wait with your suggestions until then?
    I thought this was a post about assigning LA to creatures. Sorry. Didn't think you wanted each thread assigned to one monster.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    I thought this was a post about assigning LA to creatures. Sorry. Didn't think you wanted each thread assigned to one monster.
    No, I merely want to follow a system similar to 'That's only CR 9?', where one person posts monsters and gives an initial assessment, which can then be commented on by others.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Do you want to discuss the psionic aboleth here, as well? It's technically not in the MM1, but the EPH only lists changes relative to the MM1 version.

    The difference is pretty big, but more in flavour than in power. The MM1 aboleth uses illusions, but psionics are almost illusion-less. The EPH version has a DC 20 dominate (any target), several powers that daze/confuse (although not all that effective at range), and just the one illusion. Its ML is only 13, and most of the powers are mind-affecting (wall of ectoplasm is the exception here).
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    Do you want to discuss the psionic aboleth here, as well? It's technically not in the MM1, but the EPH only lists changes relative to the MM1 version.

    The difference is pretty big, but more in flavour than in power. The MM1 aboleth uses illusions, but psionics are almost illusion-less. The EPH version has a DC 20 dominate (any target), several powers that daze/confuse (although not all that effective at range), and just the one illusion. Its ML is only 13, and most of the powers are mind-affecting (wall of ectoplasm is the exception here).
    Variant creatures will have to wait until it's their book's turn.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    No, I merely want to follow a system similar to 'That's only CR 9?', where one person posts monsters and gives an initial assessment, which can then be commented on by others.
    Perhaps you may want to add the rules you are implying to the OP to clarify them for any one new coming in to the thread, as I too thought you meant that other's could speed it up by helping post monsters.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Personally, I thought his intent was pretty clear. There's no mention of collaborating anywhere.

    Back on topic, I'm not sure a CL 16 Dominate Person 3/day is appropriate for a 10th-level PC. I agree that bard would be much more appropriate for the Aboleth than wizard is. Bardic Knowledge seems particularly well-suited and the charisma synergy would work nicely.

    I do think SangoProduction mentioned something that needs to be taken into consideration for setting LA: Ability score adjustments. Assuming the standard array and high scores in mental abilities, it looks like +4 Dex, +2 Con, +4 Int, +6 Wis, +6 Cha. That's likely worth at least +1 LA on its own.
    Last edited by DarkSoul; 2016-04-24 at 08:28 AM.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    You don't actually have to advance them 1 HD: aboleth are huge from the go.

    You make some good points, but while the sum of the abilities may be worth +2 or +3 LA, I am not sure if that's applicable here. Aboleths are... spread out, to say the least, and the unwritten law of D&D is that being good at one thing is better than being decent at several others.

    Still, I'll bump them to +2 LA for now.
    Huh, my mistake. While it'd be better in some ways if it could get an extra 5ft of reach and +8 Str for one more level, that still means we're looking at sizable numbers for trip, bull rush, and the like should we look to go that route with the melee stuff.

    That's a fair point, I suppose. I do think that a good optimizer could make it dovetail into a fairly cohesive whole. And even if you're just using enslaved minions as flanking buddies or what have you, it's still better to have those things than not. The SLAs skew a bit toward out of combat utility as well, so while they might not directly synergize with the melee side, they aren't tripping over each other either.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkSoul View Post
    Back on topic, I'm not sure a CL 16 Dominate Person 3/day is appropriate for a 10th-level PC. I agree that bard would be much more appropriate for the Aboleth than wizard is. Bardic Knowledge seems particularly well-suited and the charisma synergy would work nicely.

    I do think SangoProduction mentioned something that needs to be taken into consideration for setting LA: Ability score adjustments. Assuming the standard array and high scores in mental abilities, it looks like +4 Dex, +2 Con, +4 Int, +6 Wis, +6 Cha. That's likely worth at least +1 LA on its own.
    The CL doesn't seem to directly matter much in the case of Enslave. It's permanent until shaken off or removed, which is nice, and it can affect nonhumanoids, which is nicer, but the new save each day is sort of a pain. A 10th level Beguiler, Sorcerer, or Wizard could easily throw around 3 dominate persons in a day, so I don't think it's unreasonable.

    The mental stats are only consequential if you can find something to do with them though. Even at LA+0, those 8 RHD would make for a pretty poor caster base. That's not to say there aren't a lot of such things, but they eat levels.

    What I suspect we ought to do is compare an Aboleth PC build with a melee build at a similar level of optimization and see how they compare at, say, ECL 10, ECL 15, and ECL 20. Or maybe have a few builds to set a baseline for different archetypes and see what people can do with the various monsters at a similar level of optimization.

    I think I'm happy with LA+2, at least for the moment.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2016-04-24 at 10:06 AM.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    An aboleth's main appeal for a melee class is its size and strength, right? The question is: how easily can we duplicate that?

    A half-minotaur goliath with a reach weapon counts as huge for most purposes, has a reach comparable to the aboleth's, and has a +16 racial bonus to strength at +2 LA. The aboleth has higher ability scores in non-strength abilities and psionic abilities, but remember that while the aboleth is getting these, the goliataur is taking levels in Spirit Lion Totem barbarian and Frenzied Berserker. Even if half-minotaur's LA is increased (something any sane DM would do), the goliataur would probably still win.

    I think +2 LA is fine. It makes aboleths playable without turning them into the One True Way to Melee (that honor goes to two-handed power attacking).
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-04-24 at 10:49 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Achaierai


    In the category: 'D&D monsters that never should have been'; the Achaierai. It's a horse-sized flightless evil bird that can release smoke that makes you insane. On the topic of insanity; what was TSR thinking when they came up with this thing? Did they get together and decide a magic smokebird would greatly improve the game?

    6 racial hit dice aren't great. I guess one should be grateful they're at least outsider type, though. The skill list is pretty bad, and the spell resistance will be as annoying as it's useful (remember, there's plenty of SR:No attack spells, but few SR:No buffs). Achaierai have full BAB, strong natural attacks, Large size and a natural strength bonus, so they make natural melee combatants. The smoke attack is sub-par, though.

    In the end, Achaierai aren't significantly stronger than a tier 3 of equal level. +0 LA is fine.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-10-21 at 03:50 PM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    In the end, I'd put Achaierai at +2 LA. They are a strong but bland basic creature that has surprising options available to it but is limited by a lack of manufactured weapons and versatility.
    I'd be tempted to put it at +3 because of the Insanity effect, since that's actually relatively powerful, though the DC is, and will remain, rather low. That, coupled with the fact that a Large, +8 Str race with 6 level of full BaB will almost certainly end up close to the enemy, makes it seem strong. But the lack of scaling for SR (yes, it's annoying, but it can be lowered as a Standard and so doesn't prevent pre-battle buffs, so I'd count it as a strict benefit) and the fact that no one will want to play a quadrupedal bird-squid... thing is pushing me to agree with your estimation.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    In the end, I'd put Achaierai at +2 LA. They are a strong but bland basic creature that has surprising options available to it but is limited by a lack of manufactured weapons and versatility.
    Necklace of natural attacks means that they have access to all the magic item-based goodies of a manufactured weapon.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by JBarca View Post
    I'd be tempted to put it at +3 because of the Insanity effect, since that's actually relatively powerful, though the DC is, and will remain, rather low. That, coupled with the fact that a Large, +8 Str race with 6 level of full BaB will almost certainly end up close to the enemy, makes it seem strong. But the lack of scaling for SR (yes, it's annoying, but it can be lowered as a Standard and so doesn't prevent pre-battle buffs, so I'd count it as a strict benefit) and the fact that no one will want to play a quadrupedal bird-squid... thing is pushing me to agree with your estimation.
    Don't forget the insanity effect is more of a confusion effect, as it only lasts for three hours. In addition, it's non-friendly, so you might very well end up with an insane fellow party member.

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Necklace of natural attacks means that they have access to all the magic item-based goodies of a manufactured weapon.
    Touche, but note that an Achaierai will have to pay over thrice as much compared to a barbarian who only enchants his greataxe. And you still can't use items that require opposable thumbs, including potions and various other magic items.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Does this thing really even deserve a LA at all? It's only CR 5, and has 6 HD to start with. Large with reach, +8 Str, +2 Dex, +4 Con, +4 Wis, +6 Cha, +10 NA. That's a good set of stats, but it's also missing out on 6 levels of class features.

    A Half Ogre from Races of Destiny has only slightly worse physical stats on +2 LA and no RHD. I think I would much rather be a Half Ogre with 6 class levels than one of these things with 6 Outsider HD (Half Ogre Fighter 6 might even be better, with reasonably good feats), which makes me think +2 LA is too much.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by DeAnno View Post
    Does this thing really even deserve a LA at all? It's only CR 5, and has 6 HD to start with. Large with reach, +8 Str, +2 Dex, +4 Con, +4 Wis, +6 Cha, +10 NA. That's a good set of stats, but it's also missing out on 6 levels of class features.

    A Half Ogre from Races of Destiny has only slightly worse physical stats on +2 LA and no RHD. I think I would much rather be a Half Ogre with 6 class levels than one of these things with 6 Outsider HD (Half Ogre Fighter 6 might even be better, with reasonably good feats), which makes me think +2 LA is too much.
    Really? I think +2 LA fits pretty well. 6 levels of fighter give the half-ogre worse reflex and will saves (and that's before factoring in the achaierai's racial ability bonuses). Remember, ECL 8 is where Charm Monster, Confusion, and Fear start getting used: the +5 the Achaierai is ahead of the half-ogre will save the party more than once.

    Also, I don't see how you claim their ability scores are almost the same. The achaierai has 2 more strength, 2 more constitution, 4 more dexterity, 4 more wisdom, 2 more intelligence and 8 more points of charisma. The half-ogre will have a single ability increase from his class levels, but it won't make up for this.

    You say it has CR 5 as if that is a reason to lower the LA. Ignoring that the CR system fails to do what it's supposed to do at all levels, almost all monsters have CR's lower than their ECL. A kobold adept 4 is CR 1 but ECL 4. A half-fey, widely regarded as a well-balanced template, has +2 LA but only +1 CR.

    Also, AC. Counting the higher dexterity, an Achaierai will have an AC about 8 points above the half-ogre's, even if it has to pay double for basic armor.

    Finally, the Achaierai is simply faster. Speed matters if you melee, and a 20 ft. increase in speed matters a lot.

    So yes, the Achaierai is fine at +2 LA.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-04-25 at 03:58 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Just to point out, in many cases CR being radically different from ECL is not a failing of the CR system. Rather it's an obvious failure in the ECL system. I tell excited new players all the time, if a monsters CR is not at least 1/2 of its ECL, it's completely unplayable, and even that is only really worth while for the caster type monsters like Rakshasha and mind flayers.

    In general I'd say the LA of 2 is not completely unreasonable, but it certainly wouldn't be overpowered at LA 0 either. Using CR as ECL is one of the few pathfinder changes I agree with.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by AnachroNinja View Post
    Just to point out, in many cases CR being radically different from ECL is not a failing of the CR system. Rather it's an obvious failure in the ECL system. I tell excited new players all the time, if a monsters CR is not at least 1/2 of its ECL, it's completely unplayable, and even that is only really worth while for the caster type monsters like Rakshasha and mind flayers.

    In general I'd say the LA of 2 is not completely unreasonable, but it certainly wouldn't be overpowered at LA 0 either. Using CR as ECL is one of the few pathfinder changes I agree with.
    The issue with using CR as ECL is that while some monsters follow the class abilities = CR rule, others don't. A 9th-level human sorcerer will have equal CR and ECL, but something like the Immoth will be ahead of it in several ways while being the same CR. This isn't good, considering the entire purpose of the LA system is to make more creatures viable PC's, rather than less.

    To put it simply: CR=ECL is a decent rule, but not an universally applicable one, and should definitely not be used in every case. Rather, it should serve as a guideline when determining a creature's proper LA.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Allip


    The infamous allip: best known for being able to kill permanently incapitate half the monster manual rather easily, with most of the other half being unable to hurt it. I don't like saying it, but perhaps WotC was right when they didn't give this a level adjustment.

    So what does being an allip give you? Four undead HD, the undead type, incorporeality, turn resistance, darkvision, fly speed at perfect maneuverability, the ability to make people who try to read their minds go mad and a massive AoE that makes people temporarily go insane. Oh, almost forgot: they can also drain your sanity with a touch. Also, an allip's ability scores bonuses are pretty good, and their skill list contains all the scouting skills.

    So where put the allip's LA? A random sample from the monster manual reveals that monsters start being able to reliably beat an allip from CR 8 on, implying a LA of +4. However, comparing allips to PC's, I personally think +3 LA is more suitable, especially considering my initial search failed to account for magic weapons: something easily available even for a standard EL 7 encounter.

    Note that this decision was not easy, and I would love some feedback here. Allips are tricky enough to use as DM's: making them viable PC's will be even more difficult.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    I do agree that CR as ECL isn't perfect but it's better than the ECL system in 3.5 in my opinion. A well built and played PC will be able to beat the vast majority of equal CR'd monsters. The Archerai might be comparable to an 8th level fighter, but it's could easily get curb stomped by a 5th level wizard, let alone an 8th level wizard, cleric, or duskblade even. While obviously high op wizards aren't the balance point, neither are fighters and barbarians.

    To take the allip for example, it's abilities are generally comparable to the LA 4 Pixie. Good avoidance of attacks, a decent if not earthshaking mode of attack, very effective at fleeing. Bug difference is that the 4 undead HD cripple any kind of spell caster, while also being horribly ineffective for melee because undead HD are terribad. Often the racial HD are worse then the LA.

    I realize I mostly rambled there without making any clear points, my bad.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by AnachroNinja View Post
    I do agree that CR as ECL isn't perfect but it's better than the ECL system in 3.5 in my opinion.
    I agree that 3.5's ECL system is horrible. However, that is not due to some inherent flaw in the system, but mostly because the developers were far too quick to over-LA monsters. Take a look at the hobgoblin or rakshasa if you want to see what I mean.

    However, I also reject the CR=ECL system. While a useful guideline, in some cases it just doesn't cut it. Do you consider an allip a balanced 3rd-level PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by AnachroNinja View Post
    A well built and played PC will be able to beat the vast majority of equal CR'd monsters. The Archerai might be comparable to an 8th level fighter, but it's could easily get curb stomped by a 5th level wizard, let alone an 8th level wizard, cleric, or duskblade even. While obviously high op wizards aren't the balance point, neither are fighters and barbarians.
    There is a difference between 'equal in power' and 'can beat the other in a straight fight'. A buff-focused sorcerer is tier 2, yet might very well lose against an ubercharger. Balancing monsters by what level PC's they can beat is for determining CR, not determining ECL.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnachroNinja View Post
    To take the allip for example, it's abilities are generally comparable to the LA 4 Pixie. Good avoidance of attacks, a decent if not earthshaking mode of attack, very effective at fleeing. Bug difference is that the 4 undead HD cripple any kind of spell caster, while also being horribly ineffective for melee because undead HD are terribad. Often the racial HD are worse then the LA.
    So? I chose +3 LA because it seemed the fairest. Lower and allips are essentially invulnerable for most of their early career, higher and an allip will die the first time it fights anything that can hurt it. Are you advocating +4 LA? Because as you say, the racial HD absolutely cripple it.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-04-26 at 03:15 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread

    Angel, Astral Deva


    The astral deva is the first monster I evaluate that already has a LA. Said LA is so high that it brings back the problem of giant health gaps between party members, which is usually only an issue at low levels. Said LA is so high, that by the time you can finally play an astral deva, the party's wizard has been binding them for nine levels and shapechanging into them for three. Said LA is so high, a commoner of equivalent level could duplicate most of their abilities with WBL only.

    Level adjustment notwithstanding, astral devas are a strong race. +8 or higher bonuses to all ability scores, high speed, high natural armor, damage reduction, energy immunities, spell resistance (high enough to remain relevant even at 20th-level), permanent Magic Circle against Evil and Tongues, shapechanging, uncanny dodge, and more spell-like abilities than you shake a +3 heavy mace of disruption at.

    So what level should it become playable? Devas are offensively behind dedicated melee builds, though they try to make up for it with a fair deal of casting. The defensive abilities won't be heavily factored in, because being good at not dying isn't great if you fail to establish yourself as a target (just ask monks) and again, spell resistance will make you resist beneficial spells while offensive spells can just be directed at different targets.

    In the end, it is obvious that despite their big numbers, devas simply fail to pick a niche and fill it well. They definitely aren't useless, having a wide range of abilities, but they lack the strength a focused PC build possesses when doing its chosen job. I put their LA at +2.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-04-28 at 04:58 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread

    I'm picking up a bit of a trend - three of the four monsters so far are LA+2, and one is LA+3. I'm curious to see what LAs will look like for other monsters down the line - is 2 simply the most LA you're willing to assign for a monster that just punches faces better than normal?
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    Imagine if the combat system was as well thought out and explained as the skill system. You could cut it down to a page and a half, monsters would be about three sentences long. Best of all you don't have to remember any tables for conditions or detail the special abilities because you've got rulings instead of rules.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    I'm picking up a bit of a trend - three of the four monsters so far are LA+2, and one is LA+3. I'm curious to see what LAs will look like for other monsters down the line - is 2 simply the most LA you're willing to assign for a monster that just punches faces better than normal?
    I think it's been mostly coincidental so far (after all, we've only had four monsters). I have no special disinclination towards assigning a strong monster a high LA, but I am aware that high LA's tend to absolutely cripple a monster (go ahead, name one monster with over +4 LA you'd ever consider playing).

    Still, I can think of a few monsters that are going to get higher LA's (shadows, for one).
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread

    Planetar


    The planetar, infamous for getting 17th-level cleric casting and a bunch of other goodies at CR 16. Apparently the low HD was supposed to balance it out?

    This casting makes rating them quite difficult, though, and my eventual decision surprised even myself. In hopes of making it understandable, I'll evaluate possible LA's one by one.

    +0, +1, and +2 LA all have the same problem; they allow epic spellcasting by ECL 20, so they're out. +3 LA removes all differences between a planetar and an equally-leveled cleric's casting, but the cleric doesn't have the additional perks of being an angel. A monster being stronger than a tier 1 class is a pretty clear indication its LA is too low.

    +4 LA, then? It'd place a planetar one level behind a cleric when it comes to casting. However, once you get 9th-level spells, all more caster levels do is give you additional slots, while the planetar still has its regeneration, spell-likes, SR, etc.

    Remaining level adjustments: +5 and +6. I actually think both could fit, and the only reason I pick +5 is my dislike of characters without any class levels.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2016-07-08 at 12:50 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment thread

    You asked me if I thought an allip was a viable 3rd level charactar. I'll grant that it might be a little strong at level 3. Now I would say that an allip is equivalent to a 4-5 level character. Maybe slightly in the tough to kill side, but that's only because monsters so rarely come with magical weapons. Especially since you have to bear in mind that an allip attack never really improves. They do the same amount of wisdom damage forever. They can't gain any meaningful melee ability. With no CON score they are going to be light on HP forever, and constantly in danger from force effects. A group of kobolds with a few adepts would have a pretty good chance of magic missiling it to death. It's HD and inability to speak intelligibly make it impossible for it to be a competent caster, it's weak bab make it's tough attacks less of a benefit and more of a necessity. Best hope is a rogue build using sneak attack touch attacks, and even that isn't going to be amazing. I'd call it comparable to a Pixie rogue or warlock and so I wouldn't give it any more then +1 LA. I'd rather a PC start out a bit tough in early levels then completely fall off in the mid levels and be useless at high levels.

    The planetar is another example. Cleric casting is pretty powerful and you are weighing that pretty heavily. It also has some good SLAs and abilities. It unfortunately gets access to shoddy domains since they do not appear to have the option of worshipping concepts, only deities, no turn undead, so no DMM. Most DMs would almost certainly not allow them to cast any evil descriptor spells. By and large they have most of the same special qualities as a DMM cleric with a good set of persisted spells. Best thing they get is regeneration since as noted, spell resistance is a double edged sword. At 14 HD and LA 5, I would never choose to play one over a cleric19 unless I for some reason desperately wanted to be an angel. It essentially makes planetar a better version of the half celestial template, which is ass to begin with.

    My comparison between characters and monsters and whether they can beat an equal CR monster is mostly meant to illustrate that just because a PC allip could theoretically hide in the ground forget killing animals for XP doesn't mean that's really a realistic game scenario or the baseline we should use for measuring it's LA. Yes, some abilities are more powerful in a PCs hands then a monster, but we can't always rate things on the worst case scenario.

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