View Full Version : Playing a Balor

2009-05-23, 04:54 PM
Just a quick question: since my chatroom players have decided they wanted to play an epic evil game set in Planescape: has anyone ever made either a monster class for a Balor or worked out what a fitting Level Adjustment would be?
Also, same question, but for the Glabrezu?

2009-05-23, 05:07 PM
Just a quick question: since my chatroom players have decided they wanted to play an epic evil game set in Planescape: has anyone ever made either a monster class for a Balor or worked out what a fitting Level Adjustment would be?
Also, same question, but for the Glabrezu?

Meh, written level adjustments would be through the roof. Playable? 3-4. Balor already has 20 HDs and abilities of your average 20th level Gish, so it's definitely nothing broken. The stats would be fairly superb hence the few levels off, but meh, if Epic Spellcasting is allowed, it'd still be a horrible choice for anything but dedicated melee.

Worth noting though that they've got a large array of all-day abilities which some DMs might find worrisome. Still, with the number of level 9 spells Wizards can cast daily at that point, it's unlike to be an issue.

As far as Glabrezu goes, it's a melee beast. It easily beats up any level 12 melee types, so it should have some adjustment (not least of which because of the Huge size), but not much. I'd say 3 is enough; you get +20 Str and True Seeing at will, but beyond that there's nothing game breaking there. It's merely a Big Dumb Brute with few spell-likes and SR.

Of course, the problem is that Outsider-type has 8+Int skills so they become skill monkeys in addition to being adept melee casters. That might be worth tacking another point of LA. Still, seeing the company they're in, they won't be the toughest guys in the house even without LA simply because they'll never get Epic Spellcasting without taking ~10 class levels.

But yeah, 3-5 keeps them playable while still making classes the more attractive choice. If reading some books, the numbers would probably be closer to 20, but that's completely unplayable.

2009-05-23, 05:14 PM
Succubi have a +6 LA. Balors would probably have like a +14 or something.

2009-05-23, 05:34 PM
Well, as for the question above, no, Epic Spellcasting is out. We're using the Epic Metamagic that is around on the forums somewhere. It still makes casters pretty good, but not as unbalanced. Of course, every Balor will still be melee-related.

2009-05-23, 05:37 PM
Then I'd give Balor 5-7 levels. Glabrezu would be the same 3-4. The problem is that as the numbers get big, the races simply become unplayable. Low numbers risk brokenness but high levels easily become completely useless due to lack of HD and class levels.

2009-05-23, 05:46 PM
Then I'd give Balor 5-7 levels. Glabrezu would be the same 3-4. The problem is that as the numbers get big, the races simply become unplayable. Low numbers risk brokenness but high levels easily become completely useless due to lack of HD and class levels.

Balors aren't meant to be played, they should make ridiculously gimped PCs.

Tar Palantir
2009-05-23, 05:59 PM
I am of the opinion that a player should have at least a fair chance at whatever exotic race/class they choose to try, thus I find the listed LA for most races abhorrent. +1 LA for hobgoblins? Come on, they are not considerably better than humans, and worse than dwarves in most respects. Now I'm not saying that playing a monstrous PC will be as effective as taking class levels, but it should be able to compete (that is, be better than a monk).

2009-05-23, 05:59 PM
run it as a level 20 equivalent character, it should work just fine. You may want to crunch some numbers on it's capabilities, it could work better as a 22 equivalent or so.

Powerful Monsters As PCs, or “Beholder Mages That Don’t Make Us Cry.”
Monsters need to be able to be easy blends of character levels and monster stats. We know that its completely awesome to fight evil mastermind wizards that might just be beholders or giants or some other big monster, and its equally neat to play a cursed vampire warriors who’s trying to redeem his soul. Designers up to this point have attempted to stop players from doing both by making these options unplayable or “the suck”, so its time to right this wrong.
To start, let us be perfectly honest about two things:

We want to play monsters.

We know that the current ECL (Effective Character Level), LA (Level Adjustment), monster PrCs, and monster progression systems don’t work… like, at all.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, we can begin. [I could get into elaborate explanations of why these separate systems don’t work, but lets just say that the flaws are self-evident if you put a PC frost giant with only Wizard levels up against an NPC frost giant with only Wizard levels and CRed at the PC’s level, or you try to play a Vampire with its +8 level adjustment and minimum character level of 5. We don’t even have to talk about the Beholder Mage, an atrocity against the DnD community in both its incarnations.]

Monsters tend to be build along four kinds of design philosophies.

Characters: This is the “as a character” philosophy, which makes monsters at a certain CR where they are perfectly suited to fight parties of characters at that level, but might overpower a weaker party or single character or be a total pushover to more powerful individuals or parties. Giants, gnolls, yuanti, goblinoids and other monsters who are expect to use PC-level tactics and equipment fall into this category.

Glass Jaws and Sucker Punches AKA Suckers: These monsters, which we’ll just call “Suckers” for their ability to suck and sucker punch. Usually they have an extremely powerful attack that can sucker punch a party, but they have some glaring weakness that means that they will go down extremely quickly if you exploit this weakness. Sprites, with their fabulously low HPs and powerful magic are a fine example of this monster. “Closet trolls” like trolls and Pouncing dire animals fall into this category because they are extremely dangerous in enclosed spaces (better than any three fighting characters of their CR), but they die easily if you can attack them at range and stay at a distance.

Puzzle Monsters: These monsters are in fact more puzzle than monster. They usually are unbeatable unless you know their one weakness, meaning that players who don’t know the right Monster Manual by heart usually die to these things. Classic examples from old editions of DnD like the Windwalkers would only die to a single spell from the spell list which you may or may not know or have on hand, but 3.x has from eased away from this level of arbitrariness. Now we have monsters like Swarms and incorporeal monsters who may be immune to all your normal weapon attacks (a killer for a party without a damage-capable spellcaster) and several kind of plants or oozes that seem to have random and crazy defenses when you attack them (like splitting into more monsters).

Awesome Because Its Awesome AKA Player Killers (PKs): Some Monsters are just built to make players cry. Dragons are the classic example, as they are traditionally CRed about two to four lower than they should be, and some other monsters have also been unofficially given the [awesome] subtype, meaning that players will always remember these monsters for being Party Killers. Angels, beholders, monsters with PC spellcasting, and drow typically fall into this category.

Can you see the problem with making these creatures into playable and balanced characters? Character monsters and PKs can be easily modified into playable characters by modifying raw stats, but Suckers and Puzzle Monsters need massive rewrites before they can be playable characters.

Converting Monsters Into Characters:
Method 1: The Easy Way
Assume that a monster is a character of its CR+1(modified if it i a monster with the [Awesome] tag), and that its stat modifiers are derived from the assumption that the base monster was built using the Elite Array (highest monster stat – highest elite stat, then repeat for next lowest, etc). For level-dependant effects like skill point maxes, feat prereqs, etc, use the monster’s CR+1. Round ability stat mods down to nearest multiple of 2(negative mods up to multiple of 2), and CRs down to nearest whole number.

The nice part of this method is that it is easy, fast, and you can get to playing a monster immediately without as lot of DM intervention or paperwork. The downside is that you might get an underpowered or overpowered monster character if you are not careful (like you forgot that Dragons are actually CRed two less than they should be, or that Sprites are unplayable).

Here’s two examples:

Minotaur. Its Base CR is 4, and add +1 for being a PC. Its stat mods are (monster-elite array) Str 19-15=+4, Con 15-14=+0(rounded down) Dex 10-13=-2 (rounded) Wis 10-12= -2 Int 10, Cha 8-10= -2 Int 8-7=+0, for a total of +4 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Int, -2, Cha -2 Wis, which is perfectly reasonable. It’s a level 5 PC with skill rank maxes of 8 and 6 monster HD.
Frankly, it's a warrior class with a little bit of punch from natural armor, small stat mods from its size, and some fun but not good noncombat abilities. It's nothing to write home about as a 5th level character, and that's much more reasonable than the ECL 8 the MM would have you play it at.

Succubus: CR 7, +1 for being a PC. Stat mods equal Cha 26-15=+10(rounded), Int 16-14=+2, Wis 14-13=+0(rounded), Str 13- 12=+2, Con 12- 10= +2, Dex 12-8=+4 for a +10 Cha, +2 Int, +2 Str, +2 Con, +4 Dex.
It’s an 8th level character who is almost as good as a Warlock of its level. Generally, it’s a far better 8th level character than the than the ECL 14 the MM would have you pay. The fact that its abilities will never grow in power is offset by the fact that it has a high Cha, and so good DCs on its spell-likes.

Method 2:
This method is the same as Method 1, but it goes a bit further by converting HD to actually appropriate HD by giving the monster the HD that equals its CR and BAB. This corrects problems just as excess HD from giants and undead.

Basically, look that the monster’s HD and BAB. What kind of HD would it need to keep about the same BAB and HPs, but would give it the appropriate number of HD to fit its CR/level (which also fixes Saves to reasonably levels). Assign it that HD, and move on with your life.

Here’s an example:
Fire Giant. Ok, the Fire Giant is a CR 11 as a PC, and notice that it has a BAB of 11, Great! Normally, it has 15 HD which leads to some craziness if he ever gets a Con boost and it has saves that are a little too big, so lets convert it. Lets give it 11 Barbarian HD(d12s, +1 BAB, good Fort save). We see that he keeps his BAB of 11, his HPs change from 142 to 133, and its base saves are Fort +7, Will/Ref +3 like an actual 11th level character instead of Fort +9, Will/Ref +5.

2009-05-23, 06:07 PM
Balors aren't meant to be played, they should make ridiculously gimped PCs.

They aren't meant to be played, but if a player wants to play one, you should make an effort to accommodate their desires rather than punish them :/ Gimping their character is not the way to go; their abilities aren't superior to those of high level PCs so I see no reason to give them stratospheric LA (other than if you want your players not to play them, but this is specifically a question of players wanting to play them; if you don't want players to play something, say so, don't over-LA them). LA becomes completely pointless unless it's assigned strictly with keeping the race playable (that is, competitive with a classed character of the same level) in mind.

This is a friggin' fantasy-game. You should be able to play a demon or an angel if you so desire feeling like one without being punished for it; it's no more out there than "elf" or "gnome".

The Tygre
2009-05-23, 08:09 PM
This (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1786937#post1786937)may be of some help to you.

2009-05-23, 08:17 PM
Should have guessed that Krimm made one. :smallbiggrin:

2009-05-23, 08:26 PM
I still strongly suggest culling off some of the level adjustment though. Because to CR 32 creatures, a Balor is mere laughing stock. Or 4 Balors ("equivalent" to one party) for that matter. They would be expected to "take on" 2 Phaethon (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/monsters/abomination.htm#phaethon)s 4 times per day for example, but fact is that the numbers just don't add up. And that's a tame example seeing that Phaethon isn't even a spellcaster.

They should also easily school a Demilich (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/monsters/demilich.htm) even though the fight wouldn't even be close...the other way. Basically, out-of-combat they have fine abilities, but they just won't stand up to combat with that kind of an LA. Cutting it down to 6 or so would make it much more bearable. Still behind the curve, but not by as much.

2009-05-23, 08:34 PM
Well, a player Balor will have better stats and equipment. But I can see the point. Perhaps four or so points down?

2009-05-23, 08:40 PM
Well, a player Balor will have better stats and equipment. But I can see the point. Perhaps four or so points down?

LA +7 would be the absolute maximum I'd see; that'd be 5 points down. I'd personally allow them at LA +4 with maybe a bit weakened stat boosts and some limitations on the Summon Tanar'ri ability, but I'm weird.

2009-05-23, 08:43 PM
On a related note, would it be unreasonable to reduce the LA of a Rakshasa to +3?

2009-05-23, 08:53 PM
I'd say you could run them at LA + 4. + 3 is pushing it; outsiders are automatically Rogue-skilled, and they have Sorc 7 casting and some great abilities. But those 3 levels could concievably be used to greater effect so it should be possible; the big thing, their insane SR, is as much a curse as it's a blessing since healing and buffing them is nigh' impossible without the time from them to lower it and raise it again.

Really, Outsiders are the hardest for LA, since Outsider-type kicks so much ass (full BAB, Rogue skills, all good saves, decent HD) and they tend to have a lot of unconventional abilities in addition to having nutty stats across the board. That said, too low is better than too high; at least the player can enjoy himself in the game and his power can be toned down as need be. Too high LA means the player isn't like to have a good time.

2009-05-23, 09:07 PM
Here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1786937#post1786937) is a balor monster class I've not had a chance to use it yet but it seems cool.

Dacia Brabant
2009-05-23, 09:39 PM
My suggestion would be to run this as a Gestalt game and have one side of the character's Gestalt taken up by the Balor's racial HD +LA (whatever number is assigned, I agree with Eldariel it shouldn't be too high). That way he'll still be competitve in Epic play whereas otherwise, well forget about Phaethons, he'd have a hell of a time just with an Anaxim.

Hmm, that would actually be a pretty fun game if you're into the whole Evil thing, having everyone take a fiendish monster for half of their Gestalt.

2009-05-23, 11:18 PM
Edit: I maintain that a balor should just flat out have an ECL of 20. HD=CR=ECL, it's just how things should work, anything else adds needless complexity to the game. If a balor's abilities aren't level 20 appropriate, change it's HD.