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PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2009-12-10, 06:01 PM
This thread here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=134011) got me thinking if anyone has any schemes to independently calculate (presumably with a point system) what a race's LA should be. I have an example system based off the worth of a feat but I'd like to see if someone else thought of something like this.

So by looking at similar features of LA+0 races and assigning points you could get a point range for an LA0, LA1, LA2 race, etc without relying on CR or the listed LA.

The System:
Lets make a 10 deep point-buy system for an LA. So 1-10 points -> LA+0 (because lets face it ECL0 races still give benefits), 11-20 ->LA+1, 21-30-> LA+2, etc.

The points are evaluated as follows:
1 point = a set feat that is dead except maybe prereqs. Examples are dodge or toughness
2 points = a unique feat. Perhaps it achieves a strange effect. Or perhaps it just plain rocks. Examples would be Otherworldly or Nymph's kiss.
3 points = a chosable feat. Because this way you get to customize any of those feats you feel you need.

Some examples with PHB races:
-Human-
0: Medium
0: 30'
2.5: ANY feat at FIRST LEVEL!
2: +4/+1 skill points like that 1 exalted feat but with no alignment restrictions
2: any favored class like that 1 races of destiny feat
.5: any languages (int high humans can be polyglots easily, especially if your DM is wary of telepathy because of mindsight)
.5: human subtype (for prestiges and feats, etc)
==========
8 -> LA+0

-Dwarf-
1.5:+2Con, -2Cha (+2 without -2cha; I'd rather have a feat, but not all the time)
1:same speed medium or heavy load (unique tooth ability, +2 without only 20' movement)
.5:60' darkvision (everyone and his mother has this, except its not useful like flight)
1:stonecunning is uber trapfinding (the intuiting and no need to active search are cool) and +2search
1: no need for exotic weapon feat for 2 weapons
1: stability
1: +2saves for poison and spells and SLAs
.5: +1attack orcs and goblins (depending on campaign)
1: uber dodge feat but only on giants
1: +2 appraise and craft on stone or metal
0: language list (its pretty normal)
0: favored fighter is as normal as it gets
.5: dwarf subtype (lots of PrC's and items, etc)
==========
10 -> LA+0 [this makes sense since some maintain that dwarves are on the LA+0 and LA+1 fence]

Now for a humanish example with LA and racial HD.
*centaur*
2:+3natural armor (most of these bonuses DO NOT STACK and 3 is actually kinda low. It feels like str bonuses to me. But oh wait those stack ...)
4:+8str (str is as common as dirt, but 8 is nice to have)
8:+4con&dex (these are worth their weight in gold)
-2:-2int (unfortunately so is this)
1:+2wis (would be 1.5 if this were for a caster like cleric, but that's not a real option for a centuar as we will see)
1:size (being the long type sucks. Stairs are you enemy. The rating would be double this if you were tall not long)
.5:50' move is nice (being over 30 is mostly all you need to outrun most creatures)
.5:60' darkvision (everyone and his mother has this, except its not useful like flight)
0:language selection is small but so is a centaur's int :(
0: favored class is roughly according to fluff (scout would be better IMO)
.5=2 hoof attacks. These are pretty worthless. Especially by the time centaurs are 'supposed to be in play' with a class level at ECL8. I don't even roll the dice (they never hit and the damage isn't worth the hassle)
.5:quadrapedal stature. Even though it doesn't give stability like most others (huh...) it does let you have the 'always mounted' affect for yourself (usually a non-issue) or carry 1 smaller (instead of 2 for humanoids) this only matters for 'iconic' lance-wielding centaurs.
0:monstrous humanoid type. This type is actually really bad since it is hard to qualify for cool templates. But since it gives another good save I'll set this at 0 instead of -1 (see the saves part below)
0: I forgot about the weapon proficiencies. Even commoners can use simple weapons. If you actually use a longsword or longbow you will get it from your class. No these aren't feats.
========
16 without Racial HD which are worse than ANY class level (fighters would be proud)

Without racial HD pulling down your ECL this still outside the 20-30 range for LA+2. But what about those flabby racial HD? How much would it pain us to give them for free?

1.5:a d8 HD is normal. The full casters with this or a d4 really don't need more HP (they are smart enough to not have to melee). The hard-core melee types either succeed because they are a barbarian at a d12 (who doesn't really need much more HP) or fail at life like the monk or ranger. Essentially the people who think "Ooo! I could use that!" aren't competitive anyways. I'll put it at 1.5 because it feels close to toughness (3hp~4.5hp).

.5:2+int is crap. Remember that the int is low but a static low level bonus might have been useful if it weren't for the fact that its only for FOUR pathetic skills and must obey your skill level cap.

.5:a BAB is nice but aside from prereq - which can be circumvented more easily than CL! - they only give a melee bonus (yay...) and the chance at 1 more iterative which is still capped at 4 (shucks). Would you give a feat up for a pre-req useless BAB? Probably not.

.5:reflex save post first level progression. Look above for where the will save went. This part is only the +1 per 2 levels above 1.
=======
3*4=12
+
2:for the 'multiclass' initial good reflex and will saves. This is DIRECTLY comparable to feats.
======
12+2=14

if you get the racial HD for free then we arrive at 16+14=30 -> LA+2 [this also makes sense since Faerun initially had centuars as LA+3]

Now for a dwarf-ish example with both HD and LA:
*Azer*
5:+6nat! now we are talking
2:+2str&wis
6:+2dex&con&int
-.5=-2cha
1:extraplanar (banishment is rare and will probably make you happy, but not needing to eat or sleep is damn cool)
1.5:fire subtype means you need ice immunity or you will get +50% cold damage. But fire immunity is nice.
0:medium
0:30' movement
.5:darkvision
1:martial, light&medium armor, and shield proficiency are nice if you for some reason are missing those in your class.
1:+1 fire damage is a big whoop. But whatever.
2:SR of 13+levels. That 13 is wierd. This doesn't count the LA or the racial HD :(
0:the languages are normal, if elemental and outsider-ish
0:fighter favored class.
2:outsider type (like that otherworldly feat but obviously you can't be another race)
=======
21.5 without racial LA existing.

racial LA:
1.5:a d8 HD
2.5:8+int is great and its for eight mediocre skills.
1.5:save progression after the first racial level.
=======
5.5*2=11
+
.5:a BAB
3:for the 'multiclass' initial good saves
=======
11+3.5=14.5
for a total of 21.5+14.5=36

This one even with free LA doesn't meet the 40 mark for LA+4.

And now lets try for a giant, but one thats a challenge:
*Ogre Mage*
4:+5nat
7:+10str&4wis
16:+6con&4int&6cha
2:large(tall)
.5:40'
.5:darkvision 60'
.5:lowlight (A touchstone feat actually gives this)
1:martial weapon proficiencies, light armor and shields
2:SR19. That 19 is wierd...
5:change shape to be small to large human or giant. Awesome.
3:40'(good) Su free action flight, also 40'(perfect) while gaseous (neat)
9:regen 5(fire&acid), 1 minute reattachment, 10 head or vital organ window
4:at will darkness&invisibility SLAs (CL9)
5:1/day charm person (DC14), cone of cold(DC18), gaseous form & sleep (DC14) SLAs (CL9)
0:languages
0:favored sorcerer (fits the name!)
=======================
59.5 without racial LA existing.

racial LA:
1.5:per d8 HD
1:2+int is eh for four decent skills.skills.
.5:save progression after the first racial level.
.5:a BAB
=======
3.5*5=17.5
+
1:for the 'multiclass' initial good saves
=======
18.5 for a total of 78 which checks out perfectly

Kallisti
2009-12-10, 08:21 PM
There's already a rough system in Savage Species. The emphasis is more on rough than system, but WotC claims they're the guidelines they use. I always imagined thay just played some darts and used the first score somebody gets after missing twice or something equally arbitrary.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-12-11, 01:12 AM
This thread here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=134011) got me thinking if anyone has any schemes to independently calculate (presumably with a point system) what a race's LA should be. I have an example system based off the worth of a feat but I'd like to see if someone else thought of something like this.

So by looking at similar features of LA+0 races and assigning points you could get a point range for an LA0, LA1, LA2 race, etc without relying on CR or the listed LA.Eyeball it. LA is already a lost cause, you couldn't screw up any worse than WotC has already.

Figure a martial character gets +1 BAB, >=8 HP, and a Feat each level at the minimum. For a race to be worth an LA, it has to add more than that, compared to a Half-Orc. (+4 Str and +2 Con with no other penalties and some other tangible benefit at the least, generally Large Size is a good one).
A Skillmonkey adds +1 to all skills and +1 BAB, +2 damage, +4 HP. I recommend always including at least +2 Int and Dex to balance the skill lost per LA, again with another benefit such as constant concealment or HiPS to make the LA worth taking.
You'll never balance a Caster LA beyond +1. To make that worth it, you need at least a +2 to their main stat and some sort of very useful ability, like bonus PP for a Psion or similar. It's a fine line with them, however.

rayne_dragon
2009-12-11, 01:36 AM
There's already a rough system in Savage Species. The emphasis is more on rough than system, but WotC claims they're the guidelines they use. I always imagined thay just played some darts and used the first score somebody gets after missing twice or something equally arbitrary.

At last, the mystery has been solved!

I'd have to say that LA is stupidly random and generally not fun for the player (at least in my experiance). I think 4e may have the right idea in making all races rather generic and in line with each other. I'd take any race with an LA, strip it down to be in line with the core PC races and maybe make a special class (as a variant on the race's favoured class) or feats to be able to get access to more of the abilities of the race.

The other option is to use d20 BESM to figure it out if you have access to it.

sonofzeal
2009-12-11, 02:11 AM
I always imagined thay just played some darts and used the first score somebody gets after missing twice or something equally arbitrary.
It's not quite as bad as that. They do generally over-estimate, but I think that's good; Half Dragon should be a generally inferior option that's justifiable in certain situations, or you'd see them everywhere. LA is not there to make things playable, it's to make them possible. It only really breaks down in the massively overvalued ones (Vampire, Dragon, Lich), and the few seriously undervalued ones (Mineral Warrior, Llolth-Blooded). Most fall somewhere in between. In my experience, most sources of LA fall into the category of "eh, not really worth it", which IMO is exactly where they should be. "Eh" leaves the door open for something fun to work out and justify it. Pixie and Centaur are good examples here; both have LA high enough that they're awkward to play, but not so high that they couldn't be made to work in the right setting.

Kzickas
2009-12-11, 02:21 AM
It's not quite as bad as that. They do generally over-estimate, but I think that's good; Half Dragon should be a generally inferior option that's justifiable in certain situations, or you'd see them everywhere. LA is not there to make things playable, it's to make them possible. It only really breaks down in the massively overvalued ones (Vampire, Dragon, Lich), and the few seriously undervalued ones (Mineral Warrior, Llolth-Blooded). Most fall somewhere in between. In my experience, most sources of LA fall into the category of "eh, not really worth it", which IMO is exactly where they should be. "Eh" leaves the door open for something fun to work out and justify it. Pixie and Centaur are good examples here; both have LA high enough that they're awkward to play, but not so high that they couldn't be made to work in the right setting.

Which only makes sense if you preassume that every possible world must be dominated by the exact same races as the Lord of the Rings (and gnomes).

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-12-11, 02:23 AM
It's not quite as bad as that. They do generally over-estimate, but I think that's good; Half Dragon should be a generally inferior option that's justifiable in certain situations, or you'd see them everywhere. LA is not there to make things playable, it's to make them possible. It only really breaks down in the massively overvalued ones (Vampire, Dragon, Lich), and the few seriously undervalued ones (Mineral Warrior, Llolth-Blooded). Most fall somewhere in between. In my experience, most sources of LA fall into the category of "eh, not really worth it", which IMO is exactly where they should be. "Eh" leaves the door open for something fun to work out and justify it. Pixie and Centaur are good examples here; both have LA high enough that they're awkward to play, but not so high that they couldn't be made to work in the right setting.I can't think of a single situation where I'd play a half-dragon. The template has no advantages that are worth it. Most things with SR are similar, with the most obvious case being the Drow. There are a few that are generally worth thinking about(Dark, half-ogre, many that you mentioned), but generally, they aren't playable in a decently powered game without severe optimization.

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2009-12-12, 03:18 PM
There's already a rough system in Savage Species. The emphasis is more on rough than system, but WotC claims they're the guidelines they use. I always imagined thay just played some darts and used the first score somebody gets after missing twice or something equally arbitrary.I am not sure if its that arbitrary. Its been a long time since I looked at those. I might use that as a light double check on the system I had in mind.

I can't think of a single situation where I'd play a half-dragon... they aren't playable in a decently powered game without severe optimization.Exactly. I'd like to have a system that is more or less assured to balance out LA mechanically.

What I am thinking of specifically is this. Class levels and feats. Everyone knows the value of a feat or a class level. Those with some opti-Fu know how to get some more, but it still retains value. Other abilities can be compared to these because there are so many that there is probably one that duplicates most any monster ability in question.

Lets make a 10 deep point-buy system for an LA. So 1-10 points -> LA+0 (because lets face it ECL0 races still give benefits), 11-20 ->LA+1, 21-30-> LA+2, etc.

The points are evaluated as follows:
1 point = a set feat that is dead except maybe prereqs. Examples are dodge or toughness
2 points = a unique feat. Perhaps it achieves a strange effect. Or perhaps it just plain rocks. Examples would be Otherworldly or Nymph's kiss.
3 points = a chosable feat. Because this way you get to customize any of those feats you feel you need.

Some examples with PHB races:
-Human-
0: Medium
0: 30'
2.5: ANY feat at FIRST LEVEL!
2: +4/+1 skill points like that 1 exalted feat but with no alignment restrictions
2: any favored class like that 1 races of destiny feat
.5: any languages (int high humans can be polyglots easily, especially if your DM is wary of telepathy because of mindsight)
.5: human subtype (for prestiges and feats, etc)
==========
8 -> LA+0

-Dwarf-
1.5:+2Con, -2Cha (+2 without -2cha; I'd rather have a feat, but not all the time)
1:same speed medium or heavy load (unique tooth ability, +2 without only 20' movement)
.5:60' darkvision (everyone and his mother has this, except its not useful like flight)
1:stonecunning is uber trapfinding (the intuiting and no need to active search are cool) and +2search
1: no need for exotic weapon feat for 2 weapons
1: stability
1: +2saves for poison and spells and SLAs
.5: +1attack orcs and goblins (depending on campaign)
1: uber dodge feat but only on giants
1: +2 appraise and craft on stone or metal
0: language list (its pretty normal)
0: favored fighter is as normal as it gets
.5: dwarf subtype (lots of PrC's and items, etc)
==========
10 -> LA+0 [this makes sense since some maintain that dwarves are on the LA+0 and LA+1 fence]

Artanis
2009-12-12, 03:23 PM
Wasn't there somebody on the WotC boards a while ago who came up with a system for scoring races, and assigning what their LA should be?

bringatoweltoo
2009-12-12, 04:08 PM
The other option is to use d20 BESM to figure it out if you have access to it.

The problem with that idea is that d20 BESM solved the problem of comparing point values of combat and non-combat features by... completely ignoring the problem. Now, that doesn't mean that I consider it an abject failure as a system, because ANY abstract set of rules is going to either have breakdowns in realism or just be so complex as to be unplayable.

That said, there's still no getting around the fact that a CR 1/3 human skeleton comes up to 150 character points under d20 BESM, compared to a CR 1 1st level character with 40 character points. While it's a playable system if you're willing to wrangle it to your ends, I don't think it would make a very good go-to for standardizing level adjustment unless you were willing to go through the point values for every feature ever (!) and give them a MAJOR re-balancing.

Of course, if you've got the kind of time to do that then GET ON IT, because I'd love to see a less broken d20 interpretation of BESM.

The Demented One
2009-12-12, 04:09 PM
ECL Calculator (http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/shadows/Handbook/ECLcalc.html). This is amazingly useful and works very well.

Arbitrarious
2009-12-12, 04:10 PM
Wasn't there somebody on the WotC boards a while ago who came up with a system for scoring races, and assigning what their LA should be?

Yaba the What Feature Points?

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2009-12-13, 06:25 PM
BESMI have no idea what that is. I'm talking about 3.5 only. I hope it doesn't work off of CR, because we all know where that goes...

Yaba the What Feature Points?Thanks for the link. But it is not finished, overly complicated and not at all balanced. Humans and goblins are supposed to be on par. Humans are way more optimal. Also (+4str, +2con) = +1nat? I don't think so.

ECL Calculator (http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/shadows/Handbook/ECLcalc.html). This is amazingly useful and works very well.Is this one following the SS rough guide? Because we know that that is off (undead type worth 2LA?? tell that to all the necropolitans)

What do you guys think of the feat & class level comparison system?

bringatoweltoo
2009-12-13, 06:51 PM
BESM is shorthand for Big Eyes, Small Mouth, a somewhat popular anime roleplaying system. BESM d20 and D&D v.3.5 are *supposed* to be more or less interchangeable (but in my personal opinion, it tends much more to the "less" end of things). The person I was quoting had suggested a published d20 version of it as a possible yardstick for evaluating level adjustments because it associates a point value to every bonus and penalty associated with a race (or class). I was pointing out that the values are a little... iffy. As such, it might not be the most useful answer to your original question.

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2009-12-15, 02:01 AM
I'm surprised this didn't have more notice. This system, if effective, can be used to determine other ECL things, like how 'worth it' racial HD's are. Take these examples:

Now for a humanish example with LA and racial HD.
*centaur*
2:+3natural armor (most of these bonuses DO NOT STACK and 3 is actually kinda low. It feels like str bonuses to me. But oh wait those stack ...)
4:+8str (str is as common as dirt, but 8 is nice to have)
8:+4con&dex (these are worth their weight in gold)
-2:-2int (unfortunately so is this)
1:+2wis (would be 1.5 if this were for a caster like cleric, but that's not a real option for a centuar as we will see)
1:size (being the long type sucks. Stairs are you enemy. The rating would be double this if you were tall not long)
.5:50' move is nice (being over 30 is mostly all you need to outrun most creatures)
.5:60' darkvision (everyone and his mother has this, except its not useful like flight)
0:language selection is small but so is a centaur's int :(
0: favored class is roughly according to fluff (scout would be better IMO)
.5=2 hoof attacks. These are pretty worthless. Especially by the time centaurs are 'supposed to be in play' with a class level at ECL8. I don't even roll the dice (they never hit and the damage isn't worth the hassle)
.5:quadrapedal stature. Even though it doesn't give stability like most others (huh...) it does let you have the 'always mounted' affect for yourself (usually a non-issue) or carry 1 smaller (instead of 2 for humanoids) this only matters for 'iconic' lance-wielding centaurs.
0:monstrous humanoid type. This type is actually really bad since it is hard to qualify for cool templates. But since it gives another good save I'll set this at 0 instead of -1 (see the saves part below)
0: I forgot about the weapon proficiencies. Even commoners can use simple weapons. If you actually use a longsword or longbow you will get it from your class. No these aren't feats.
========
16 without Racial HD which are worse than ANY class level (fighters would be proud)

Without racial HD pulling down your ECL this still outside the 20-30 range for LA+2. But what about those flabby racial HD? How much would it pain us to give them for free?

1.5:a d8 HD is normal. The full casters with this or a d4 really don't need more HP (they are smart enough to not have to melee). The hard-core melee types either succeed because they are a barbarian at a d12 (who doesn't really need much more HP) or fail at life like the monk or ranger. Essentially the people who think "Ooo! I could use that!" aren't competitive anyways. I'll put it at 1.5 because it feels close to toughness (3hp~4.5hp).

.5:2+int is crap. Remember that the int is low but a static low level bonus might have been useful if it weren't for the fact that its only for FOUR pathetic skills and must obey your skill level cap.

.5:a BAB is nice but aside from prereq - which can be circumvented more easily than CL! - they only give a melee bonus (yay...) and the chance at 1 more iterative which is still capped at 4 (shucks). Would you give a feat up for a pre-req useless BAB? Probably not.

.5:reflex save post first level progression. Look above for where the will save went. This part is only the +1 per 2 levels above 1.
=======
3*4=12
+
2:for the 'multiclass' initial good reflex and will saves. This is DIRECTLY comparable to feats.
======
12+2=14

if you get the racial HD for free then we arrive at 16+14=30 -> LA+2 [this also makes sense since Faerun initially had centuars as LA+3]

Now for a dwarf-ish example with both HD and LA:
*Azer*
5:+6nat! now we are talking
2:+2str&wis
6:+2dex&con&int
-.5=-2cha
1:extraplanar (banishment is rare and will probably make you happy, but not needing to eat or sleep is damn cool)
1.5:fire subtype means you need ice immunity or you will get +50% cold damage. But fire immunity is nice.
0:medium
0:30' movement
.5:darkvision
1:martial, light&medium armor, and shield proficiency are nice if you for some reason are missing those in your class.
1:+1 fire damage is a big whoop. But whatever.
2:SR of 13+levels. That 13 is wierd. This doesn't count the LA or the racial HD :(
0:the languages are normal, if elemental and outsider-ish
0:fighter favored class.
2:outsider type (like that otherworldly feat but obviously you can't be another race)
=======
21.5 without racial LA existing.

racial LA:
1.5:a d8 HD
2.5:8+int is great and its for eight mediocre skills.
1.5:save progression after the first racial level.
=======
5.5*2=11
+
.5:a BAB
3:for the 'multiclass' initial good saves
=======
11+3.5=14.5
for a total of 21.5+14.5=36

This one even with free LA would need to round up to the 40 mark for LA+4.

And now lets try for a giant, but one thats a challenge:
*Ogre Mage*
4:+5nat
7:+10str&4wis
16:+6con&4int&6cha
2:large(tall)
.5:40'
.5:darkvision 60'
.5:lowlight (A touchstone feat actually gives this)
1:martial weapon proficiencies, light armor and shields
2:SR19. That 19 is wierd...
5:change shape to be small to large human or giant. Awesome.
3:40'(good) Su free action flight, also 40'(perfect) while gaseous (neat)
9:regen 5(fire&acid), 1 minute reattachment, 10 head or vital organ window
4:at will darkness&invisibility SLAs (CL9)
5:1/day charm person (DC14), cone of cold(DC18), gaseous form & sleep (DC14) SLAs (CL9)
0:languages
0:favored sorcerer (fits the name!)
=======================
59.5 without racial LA existing.

racial LA:
1.5:per d8 HD
1:2+int is eh for four decent skills.skills.
.5:save progression after the first racial level.
.5:a BAB
=======
3.5*5=17.5
+
1:for the 'multiclass' initial good saves
=======
18.5 for a total of 78 which checks out perfectly

Prime32
2009-12-15, 05:01 AM
Races of War has systems intended to replace LA (http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/Playing_Unusual_Races#Powerful_Races) (based on CR), but they aren't for an amateur DM - they're balanced against optimised characters and require DM judgement for things like wish SLAs. It still says to just ban things like troll (Extremely dangerous in some situations, pathetic in others) and ooze (Splitting. Just... splitting.) PCs outright.

PlzBreakMyCmpAn
2009-12-17, 03:48 AM
Races of War has systems intended to replace LA (http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Races_of_War_%283.5e_Sourcebook%29/Playing_Unusual_Races#Powerful_Races) (based on CR), but they aren't for an amateur DM - they're balanced against optimised characters and require DM judgement for things like wish SLAs. It still says to just ban things like troll (Extremely dangerous in some situations, pathetic in others) and ooze (Splitting. Just... splitting.) PCs outright.Ya that is a Frank and K tome. It was a good try but CR just isn't the way to go

But doesn't anyone disagree with this? I am basically providing quantitative proof that the ECL system is very, very wrong.