View Full Version : [3.5] Converting Racial HD to Class Levels

2008-06-11, 05:15 PM
This wasn't in Unearthed Arcana, and it's something that I feel is justified. Let me know what you think. I have been playing with this for about a year now, and the balancing it allows for monster races as spellcasters, especially when combined with the Unearthed Arcana ECL buying system are astonishing.


Racial Hit Dice
The idea of racial hit dice is trying to express this idea that individuals of your race are tougher and stronger than individuals of one of the standard races. Races with racial hit dice include Giants, Bugbears, Minotaurs, Trolls, and Illithids, as well as others.
Certainly characters of these races do possess more toughness, durability, and fighting prowess than the more mundane races. However, it becomes problematic from a balance standpoint to imagine the utility of a Giant cleric or minotaur psion with their enormous effective character level adjustments plus counting each racial hit die against them as a full level. Even for more martial classes, racial HD for almost all monsters are significantly worse than any class (PC or NPC class, exception being commoner) that the character is actually training in. To enhance the ability to make more powerful fighters, clerics, and psions for these monstrous classes, I utilize a system of level exchange in which allows characters with racial hit dice stand on a more even ground with those that have no racial hit dice.

Exchanging Racial HD
For monsters that can take class levels, we generally assume that, like any character without racial HD, their 'last' HD is one taken from a basic NPC class like warrior (see orc, elf, and whatever other entry in the MM3.5). Therefore, to give a character with two or more racial hit dice a character class (this may include a PrC if the character is eligible for the class), start off by removing 1 racial hit die, and all of the benefits associated with that HD, and replacing it with a level of the class of your choice. This is your first level in a character class, though you still have one or more racial HD. These Racial HD, you class level, and your Level Adjustment all count towards your ECL. Once you have gained a total of three class levels (attaining 3 non-racial hit dice), you may choose to convert a second racial HD into a core class level of your choosing, provided that you meet all the appropriate prerequisites for the class (alignment, etc). The character is unable to select a prestige class during this level exchange because it represents the training that he had before he started leveling up now getting to the point that it outshines his racial toughness. Every three class levels that are attained (not converted) after level three, the character may convert another HD to a core class level, until all racial HD are converted. A table showing this is pictured below.
One caution, because you may end up changing skills, saves, and base attack bonus with your new levels, you should be careful that any revisions made to the character do not render the character no longer able to meet the prerequisites of a prestige class in which they have levels.

Exchanging Racial Hit Dice
Total Racial HD Converted // Minimum Class Level Necessary for Level Conversion
1 1
2 3
3 7
4 11
5 15
6 19

Example Advancement
Saundra, the Bugbear Monk, starts with 3 racial hit dice. When she takes her first level, representing starting down the Monk's path, she removes 1 HD of her racial HD and replaces it with a monk level. She is now Bugbear2/Mnk1. She attains two more levels, getting to Bug2/Mnk3, she may now convert a racial HD to another class, so she becomes Bug1/Mnk4. When she attains 3 more levels, becoming something like Bug1/Mnk5/PrC2, she now has 7 class levels and my convert her final HD, becoming a bugbear Mnk6/PrC2. Note that she cannot convert her bugbear level to a new level of her prestige class.