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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Level Adjustment in 5e

    So, I understand that Level Adjustment from 3rd edition is pretty unpopular, but I think it was good to have because it enabled people to play strange and powerful creatures without ruining the game. I'm here to get some feedback on a few different ideas that would implement LA into 5e in a way that people like. I'm going to be using a running example in these, specifically the idea of playing a vampire character. The MM has rules for that(And we're going to ignore those for the most part), but it doesn't imply any change on a character's leveling, or even how much more powerful the character would become. I'm saying vampirism constitutes an LA of 10 for convenience's sake.

    Let's not discuss that a vampire PC might not(And if well handled, almost certainly won't) break a game, that's not what this is about. Everyone good? Okay? Okay.

    (And before I forget, those of you who didn't play 3e; Level Adjustment is when you play a powerful race with nice tricks, and you lose levels to compensate. Basically it's mandatory Racial Paragon classes, if you know what those are.)

    Spoiler: Thought 1: Classic
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    This just handles things like old 3rd edition did. You're treated as level X when gaining experience, and don't gain levels until you're ACTUALLY level X in terms of experience.

    Working Example: Level 1 Vampire(No class levels, just a vampire) is treated as level 10 when gaining experience. They possess the entire roster of vampiric abilities at level 1, they have 12ish(8+4(Vamp Con)+Maybe More(Dwarven Toughness/Actual Toughness from V.Human, etc.)), etc. While everybody else gains levels normally, the vampire stays at this point with no changes until reaching level 11, when they choose a class level, change their hit die to reflect said class, gain their 2nd hit die, etc.


    Spoiler: Thought 2: Modern Update of Classic
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    Mostly the same as 3e, however you gain health as you level up as well.

    Working Example: See above, however when reaching 300 exp, you gain an additional 1d8+Stuff hit points. Then again at 900 exp, etc. Otherwise the same as Thought 1.


    Spoiler: Thought 3: Progressive
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    Essentially, this removes it's "LA"-ness and just spreads abilities across however many levels, to be determined with each race.

    Working Example: At level 1, vampire would receive the vampire weaknesses, bonus damage with it's unarmed strikes, the bite, and darkvision, and the creature's Str/Dex/Con would start at a minimum of 12. At level 3, the vampire would receive Spider Climb, and Str/Dex/Con each become 14. Charm at level 5, and Str/Dex/Con become 16. Shapechanger at level 7, and Str/Dex/Con become the MM's 18. Children of the Night at level 9, then Regeneration at level 10. Not necessarily this exactly, but you all should get what the idea is.


    Spoiler: Thought 4: Paragon
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    This turns it into actual paragon class mechanics. It mostly works like Progressive, but the character needs to take "Vampire" levels, rather than them being automatically granted with levels.

    Working Example: As thought 3, but the character takes Vampire levels. It would have Dex/Cha saving throws, simple weapon proficiencies, medium and light armor proficiencies, etc., stealth, intimidation, etc. skill proficiencies. You all get it.


    Those are the 4 I have right at this moment, and I'm really hoping to get some feedback as to which one works the best in 5e. I know LA wasn't a beloved mechanic, but I find that it's one which helps to play out concepts and oddities. The want to play an actual dragon, for instance, which has been desired since the first iteration of the game. Not that that implies they HAVE to be here, but they help, at least I think so.
    Last edited by demonslayerelf; 2018-06-29 at 07:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    I'm inclined towards your "Paragon" option-- 3e did something similar with savage progressions, albeit terribly. It's... honestly the best way to handle it, in my opinion. If you want X amount of power from your race, you need to sacrifice an equal amount of power from somewhere else, and in a class-based system, that means character levels.

    • Option 1 is unsatisfactory because it tends to turn monstrous PCs into glass cannons-- "sure, you have all these vampire powers, but you die if someone breathes on you."
    • Option 2 is worse because... well... it sounds kind of like an unofficial monster-class, only you get all the benefits at first level and remain static while the rest of the group slowly catches up.
    • Option 3 is better, because you never get a huge spike in power, but unless there's some other cost-- lost ASIs, say-- you're still getting something for nothing.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    One thing to consider is how to set the LA with the first place. CR is not level. HD is not level.

    Heck, the CR for an archmage (casting 9th level spells) varies from about 4 (if no significant combat spells prepared) to about 16 or so, depending on what he has prepared.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    One thing to consider is how to set the LA with the first place. CR is not level. HD is not level.

    Heck, the CR for an archmage (casting 9th level spells) varies from about 4 (if no significant combat spells prepared) to about 16 or so, depending on what he has prepared.
    Yeah, so far I have nothing for that. I wanted to get the idea of it down before moving on to other things. I'm also not a big fan of 5e's CR, and you can't really use that for these things anyway. Regardless of it's actual working or not, Regen to an enemy is much worse than Regen on a PC. Therefore, your CR 5 Troll might be as high as LA 7, depending on how well you rate that regen.

    My best idea is to compare everything to spell effects. If you can give everything an equivalent spell, then it has a spell level, which can be granted at an appropriate character/Paragon level. Or something like that. Again, I wanted to get a solid foundation as to how this would actually work before trying to figure individual LA's out.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
    Yeah, so far I have nothing for that. I wanted to get the idea of it down before moving on to other things. I'm also not a big fan of 5e's CR, and you can't really use that for these things anyway. Regardless of it's actual working or not, Regen to an enemy is much worse than Regen on a PC. Therefore, your CR 5 Troll might be as high as LA 7, depending on how well you rate that regen.

    My best idea is to compare everything to spell effects. If you can give everything an equivalent spell, then it has a spell level, which can be granted at an appropriate character/Paragon level. Or something like that. Again, I wanted to get a solid foundation as to how this would actually work before trying to figure individual LA's out.
    That's really really difficult to do. Mainly because the value of things is strongly context sensitive. And 5e, unlike 3e, doesn't have a nice uniform framework (and doesn't pretend to) for valuing things. Or the huge bloat of spells necessary to map things nicely.

    It'd be better, IMO, to build "racial classes" that evoke the themes of the famous monsters but are built like PC classes. You could have a few different sets:

    LA +1: A single level "racial class" that you have to take at 1st level.
    LA +4: A set of 4 mandatory levels (so you start taking regular classes at level 5).
    LA +*: A set of one or more levels, but you can jump out at certain benchmarks but can't jump back in.

    Something like that.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    I'd definitely design them as classes, though whether you HAVE to take all the levels of a Monster Class or whether you can bow out at any time is not something I'm for either way. Probably be dependent on the monster.

    It'd be tough, but basically just design it like any other class.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's really really difficult to do. Mainly because the value of things is strongly context sensitive. And 5e, unlike 3e, doesn't have a nice uniform framework (and doesn't pretend to) for valuing things. Or the huge bloat of spells necessary to map things nicely.
    True, but you can still compare things. For instance with that vampire example, you can say Charm is a bit more powerful than the 1st level Charm Person, but lasts for much longer. It lasts for as long as Animal Friendship, which is a weaker charm, but still 1st level.

    Using the differences in "Dominate" spells(level 4 for Beasts, 5 for Persons), you could say that a "Charm Beasts" spell would be "0th level". Weakening the charm a bit and extending the duration to 24 hours increases that to a 1st level spell. Therefore strengthening the charm and extending the duration would place that as ~3rd level, from 0th level. Therefore the vampire's Charm ability would be 4th level, give or take, and should be granted at 7th or 8th level.

    Truly, this would be tedious, but I figure this is probably how it should be done. This, and using the monster stat blocks for things like Kenku and Duergar, then comparing it to the Player Races we got. Still, this is more a thought experiment than something I'm actually going to do.

    It'd be better, IMO, to build "racial classes" that evoke the themes of the famous monsters but are built like PC classes. You could have a few different sets:

    LA +1: A single level "racial class" that you have to take at 1st level.
    LA +4: A set of 4 mandatory levels (so you start taking regular classes at level 5).
    LA +*: A set of one or more levels, but you can jump out at certain benchmarks but can't jump back in.

    Something like that.
    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I'd definitely design them as classes, though whether you HAVE to take all the levels of a Monster Class or whether you can bow out at any time is not something I'm for either way. Probably be dependent on the monster.

    It'd be tough, but basically just design it like any other class.
    That kinda defeats the purpose, though. Instead of it being LA, that's just incomplete Racial Paragon classes.

    Sure it could work, but that's answering "Order Pizza" to the question of Burger King or Wendy's.
    Last edited by demonslayerelf; 2018-06-30 at 03:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
    True, but you can still compare things. For instance with that vampire example, you can say Charm is a bit more powerful than the 1st level Charm Person, but lasts for much longer. It lasts for as long as Animal Friendship, which is a weaker charm, but still 1st level.

    Using the differences in "Dominate" spells(level 4 for Beasts, 5 for Persons), you could say that a "Charm Beasts" spell would be "0th level". Weakening the charm a bit and extending the duration to 24 hours increases that to a 1st level spell. Therefore strengthening the charm and extending the duration would place that as ~3rd level, from 0th level. Therefore the vampire's Charm ability would be 4th level, give or take, and should be granted at 7th or 8th level.

    Truly, this would be tedious, but I figure this is probably how it should be done. This, and using the monster stat blocks for things like Kenku and Duergar, then comparing it to the Player Races we got. Still, this is more a thought experiment than something I'm actually going to do.


    That kinda defeats the purpose, though. Instead of it being LA, that's just incomplete Racial Paragon classes.

    Sure it could work, but that's answering "Order Pizza" to the question of Burger King or Wendy's.
    But... What purpose does LA serve?

    Because that's basically your option 3 or 4. And 1 or 2 are not good design.

    Option 1: You start off ungodly strong, but quickly become a total glass cannon. At, say, level 5, you have only slightly over one fifth the HP of everyone else, but if you're an ECL 10 person, you have the damage and abilities of a level 10 person. Your offense vastly outstrips everyone else's, but you die to a stiff breeze.

    Option 2: You start off ungodly strong, and everyone else just kinda has to catch up to you.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    But... What purpose does LA serve?

    Because that's basically your option 3 or 4. And 1 or 2 are not good design.

    Option 1: You start off ungodly strong, but quickly become a total glass cannon. At, say, level 5, you have only slightly over one fifth the HP of everyone else, but if you're an ECL 10 person, you have the damage and abilities of a level 10 person. Your offense vastly outstrips everyone else's, but you die to a stiff breeze.

    Option 2: You start off ungodly strong, and everyone else just kinda has to catch up to you.
    I wasn't defending 1 and 2, I figure those were the worst(Being that people hated that old design), I was just saying that designing an actual class about it would be weird. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you two mean by making it just a class.

    3 and 4 aren't making it a monster class, just spreading out the abilities. What's the difference? A class is going to get abilities and spellcasting and things. A monster "class" would be getting stat buffs and innate powers that might actually bork the whole game(For instance, regen or at-will effects).

    Unless I was misunderstanding the two of you. Because when you both said "Make it into a class", I imagined 4e's Vampire class as compared to a 4e Vampire(Whose abilities would be spread across a handful of levels). Very different things.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    I mean design it as if you were designing a class. So you're still getting monster abilities, but you get them as you level up, along with increased proficiency bonus and HP.

    Now, you are right-some abilities don't really belong in player hands, or at the very least, require careful thought before being given to a player. Regen is a good example-it makes (for that player, at least) HP a per-encounter resource, not a per-day resource. That's not INHERENTLY bad, but it does futz with the game assumptions.

    But some monsters-say, a bullette, or a giant, or a giant eagle-don't have any features like that. You can just dole out the features as they level. In fact, if they have limited features, but powerful enough that you can't give them out immediately, you could do something like having them take two levels of Monster, a few levels of something else, and only then allow them back into the monster class.

    For instance, let's say you consider a stone giant's Rock Catching to be OP at level 5, but not at level 10. (Not sure why, but hey.) but the stone giant only has enough features to fill 4 levels. You could design it like this:

    Levels 1-3 are taken normally, with level 1 HAVING to be stone giant (so you get the class/race features) and possibly levels 2 and 3 as well, if you don't want them multiclassing out, but level 4 cannot be taken until level 10, because Rock Catching OP.

    Make sense?
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I mean design it as if you were designing a class. So you're still getting monster abilities, but you get them as you level up, along with increased proficiency bonus and HP.

    Now, you are right-some abilities don't really belong in player hands, or at the very least, require careful thought before being given to a player. Regen is a good example-it makes (for that player, at least) HP a per-encounter resource, not a per-day resource. That's not INHERENTLY bad, but it does futz with the game assumptions.

    But some monsters-say, a bullette, or a giant, or a giant eagle-don't have any features like that. You can just dole out the features as they level. In fact, if they have limited features, but powerful enough that you can't give them out immediately, you could do something like having them take two levels of Monster, a few levels of something else, and only then allow them back into the monster class.

    For instance, let's say you consider a stone giant's Rock Catching to be OP at level 5, but not at level 10. (Not sure why, but hey.) but the stone giant only has enough features to fill 4 levels. You could design it like this:

    Levels 1-3 are taken normally, with level 1 HAVING to be stone giant (so you get the class/race features) and possibly levels 2 and 3 as well, if you don't want them multiclassing out, but level 4 cannot be taken until level 10, because Rock Catching OP.

    Make sense?
    I agree with this. Break up the race features into level-specific bands. This is basically the savage species progression. You could run it as a race plus a small amount of forced multi-classing.

    Each could have a "fixed progression" (must take these levels as <racial class>) and an alternative level progression which replaces specific levels of a normal PC class. So you might have the following (to use the vampire):

    1-5 Vampire fixed progression levels 1-5
    6-9 X levels 1-4
    10 X level 5 OR vampire 6
    11-20 X whatever.

    As to what should be provided by the racial class--that should be whatever you'd get from a race and level 1 in a class, at minimum.
    * HD size
    * alternate vision
    * proficiencies (skill, save, weapons, armor, tools)
    * core features
    * key thematic abilities, even if not at full scale. A vampire's Charm might only daze or weaken an enemy.

    BTW, Charm isn't a 1st level ability. For one, it doesn't require concentration. That's a huge change. It also doesn't take a slot--getting a 1st level spell at will is a T3 wizard ability.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I mean design it as if you were designing a class. So you're still getting monster abilities, but you get them as you level up, along with increased proficiency bonus and HP.

    Now, you are right-some abilities don't really belong in player hands, or at the very least, require careful thought before being given to a player. Regen is a good example-it makes (for that player, at least) HP a per-encounter resource, not a per-day resource. That's not INHERENTLY bad, but it does futz with the game assumptions.

    But some monsters-say, a bullette, or a giant, or a giant eagle-don't have any features like that. You can just dole out the features as they level. In fact, if they have limited features, but powerful enough that you can't give them out immediately, you could do something like having them take two levels of Monster, a few levels of something else, and only then allow them back into the monster class.

    For instance, let's say you consider a stone giant's Rock Catching to be OP at level 5, but not at level 10. (Not sure why, but hey.) but the stone giant only has enough features to fill 4 levels. You could design it like this:

    Levels 1-3 are taken normally, with level 1 HAVING to be stone giant (so you get the class/race features) and possibly levels 2 and 3 as well, if you don't want them multiclassing out, but level 4 cannot be taken until level 10, because Rock Catching OP.

    Make sense?
    It totally makes sense, but that wasn't where my misconception was. When I think of "Class based on monster" I thought more along the lines of "Vaguely monster-themed abilities", like 4e's vampire class or Matthew Mercer's Lycanthropic Bloodhunter Subclass. You basically just described the "Paragon" thought from the OP, except for the "Level stalling"(That's what I'm gonna call it, anyway), which is what I was going for(Obviously, I put it in the OP).

    The level stalling a really great idea, btw. I was mostly thinking of resolving things like that by filling the gaps with either nothing(As some classes do now) or appropriate stat buffs. For instance, that stone giant would probably get a "+2 Strength, +2 Constitution" buff somewhere, or maybe a "AC becomes 13+dex" or something. The level stalling I think works pretty nicely, though.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
    It totally makes sense, but that wasn't where my misconception was. When I think of "Class based on monster" I thought more along the lines of "Vaguely monster-themed abilities", like 4e's vampire class or Matthew Mercer's Lycanthropic Bloodhunter Subclass. You basically just described the "Paragon" thought from the OP, except for the "Level stalling"(That's what I'm gonna call it, anyway), which is what I was going for(Obviously, I put it in the OP).

    The level stalling a really great idea, btw. I was mostly thinking of resolving things like that by filling the gaps with either nothing(As some classes do now) or appropriate stat buffs. For instance, that stone giant would probably get a "+2 Strength, +2 Constitution" buff somewhere, or maybe a "AC becomes 13+dex" or something. The level stalling I think works pretty nicely, though.
    You definitely want to mix it up with regular classes. Because very few monsters get innate spell-casting, and what they do is limited. I'd shoot for most "normal" races being 1-2 mandatory levels long (letting you get a level 17 capstone in a normal class) with a few having either a few more mandatory levels (only if they give something comparable to Extra Attack though, since that's a big jump) or optional "stalled levels" scattered throughout.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    BTW, Charm isn't a 1st level ability. For one, it doesn't require concentration. That's a huge change. It also doesn't take a slot--getting a 1st level spell at will is a T3 wizard ability.
    Ima ignore the rest since it's basically just a retread of what was already said, and some obvious things. This, though... You didn't even read that post, did you? Really, go back and read what was actually written. I'll wait.

    You back? Okay, now we can talk about what's wrong with what you just said. I based the effect's "level" on spells which ALSO didn't take concentration. So, it's exactly no change, and yet it was still placed at not 1st, but 4th level. But, you had one good point; The fact that it's at-will is pretty great.

    Part of the sort of "Monster character" idea is that they get a little wonky, but ideally not game-breaking. Having, effectively, an at-will 4th level charm effect is pretty great at 8th level, but that ability isn't really "spammable", so to speak. If it were "At will fireball" you would have a point, but it's not. It's a long-term charm person that breaks if you're violent to them. All of that said, it's also one of few abilities a vampire would actually get. Wizards getting at-will spells STACKS with full caster progression(And even then it's T3 appearance is pretty weak, considering cantrips are usually better by that point), where Vampires wouldn't have anything remotely like that.

    Sooooo... Really think on your words before typing them.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    I mean, designing a savage progression class isn't that hard. You split the "canon" abilities up over however many levels you feel appropriate (I feel like 5 would be a good number, generally), add in obligatory things like ASIs, and then sprinkle in ribbons and such that don't really matter for monsters but do for PCs.

    And you don't go for a 1:1 adaptation. 5e is very much designed around resource management, and monstrous PCs should be no exception.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2018-06-30 at 04:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
    True, but you can still compare things. For instance with that vampire example, you can say Charm is a bit more powerful than the 1st level Charm Person, but lasts for much longer. It lasts for as long as Animal Friendship, which is a weaker charm, but still 1st level.

    Using the differences in "Dominate" spells(level 4 for Beasts, 5 for Persons), you could say that a "Charm Beasts" spell would be "0th level". Weakening the charm a bit and extending the duration to 24 hours increases that to a 1st level spell. Therefore strengthening the charm and extending the duration would place that as ~3rd level, from 0th level. Therefore the vampire's Charm ability would be 4th level, give or take, and should be granted at 7th or 8th level.
    Text:
    Quote Originally Posted by Charm Person
    Casting Time: 1 action
    Range: 30 feet
    Components: V, S
    Duration: 1 hour

    You attempt to charm a humanoid you can see within range. It must make a Wisdom saving throw, and does so with advantage if you or your companions are fighting it. If it fails the saving throw, it is charmed by you until the spell ends or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. When the spell ends, the creature knows it was charmed by you.
    My mistake. Charm person doesn't take concentration. I take that back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charm (Vampire)
    The vampire targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the vampire, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by the vampire. The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn’t under the vampire’s control, it takes the vampire’s requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire’s bite attack. Each time the vampire or the vampire’s companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the vampire is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
    This isn't "slightly more powerful." It's the same range and action type, but the effect is significantly stronger. "Trusted acquaintance" vs "trusted friend to be heeded and protected...takes the vampire's requests in the most favorable way it can...is a willing target for the vampire's bite attack." Ends on hostile action vs "can repeat the save" on hostile action. "Knows it was charmed by you" vs no such line.

    This is on par with Dominate Person, except that it a) doesn't take concentration, b) lasts 60x24 = 1440 times as long, and c) doesn't take a high-level slot--it's totally at will. And since there's no "if a target succeeds he's immune" line, you can just spam it over and over (without the target even necessarily knowing you're doing it depending on rulings on that sort of thing) until it succeeds. That's not a PC ability. You can only dominate 1 person at a time, and exercising full control takes your actions. A vampire can have unlimited (ok, 14,400 if he does nothing else over the duration and all fail) people charmed at once. Without using his actions once they're charmed.

    And note that the vampire is not a full-caster chassis. So saying he gets it at 9th (or 11th if you decide it's a 5th-level-equivalent effect) is giving him the equivalent of full-casting progression + the rest of the chassis. If you decided to go down that route, I'd peg him as a half-caster, so getting his 5th level spell-equivalent abilities at level 17.

    This is what I mean. There are many many abilities that monsters have that are not suitable for PCs to have. The two are completely asymmetric. What makes for a good NPC is not what makes a good PC. That's why you give "monster classes" evocative versions of the iconic abilities. The final stat blocks will be different but similar enough while still retaining playability. And with much less work than trying to somehow retrofit all monster abilities into a full-caster framework.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    You come to the forum with a half-baked idea that has some merit and ask the community for their opinions on the different directions you're thinking of going with it and for advice on how to help fully bake the idea into a good and working product.

    But then twice in this thread you have been rude to those posting their thoughts who have only come and posted here to help you realize your idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    The way I think I used use a level adjustment would be to make a race that while very flavorful, was overpowered if used straight, as a way of giving a player an odd new way of playing or as a way to let them play as something totally out of the box.

    So if you wanted to make a race based on being a being an awakened Owl Bear, I would start with some massive plus to strength and constitution, rules to uncap those stats from the normal max of 20, since your a (owl)bear, some natural weapons like claws or such, maybe more then one attack that does not stack with class multi attacks, but then throw on a the rule saying that "You count as level 3 (for example) onto of any addition class levels you take AND you can only join a party that starts at level three or higher."

    While limiting for adventures that start at level one, at higher levels it gives some unique options. Though this is sort of a back of the envelope rule and would need more thought on the subject.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Actually giving up class levels was an unpopular system because it didn't really... work. It was almost never worth it, and even when it was, it usually was only worth it at certain levels and didn't progress properly. It was a mess, for many reasons. Ideally you'd want to avoid level adjustment in favor of alternative methods of modeling powerful races.

    Here are some relatively easy ways to help play a strange and powerful creature without rocking the boat much in terms of balance:
    • Realize that racial ability modifiers and HD are totally unnecessary in most cases. No really. You don't need a +6 ability modifier for a race that has an average of 16 in a given stat, you can just... you know, put a 16 in that stat and say that you're playing an averagely strong Sea Hag instead of a very exceptionally strong human. This is even more true at higher levels, where you can just raise whatever stat up to 20 without any unusual rules at your disposal. Most monster statlines (such as the aforementioned awakened owlbear) are achievable by plain old humans under the rules as written. That should be enough short of people wanting to play a Fire Giant or something, in which case you can just give them a powerful-build-esque thing that boosts their ability to lift or make strength checks but not their ability to hit and damage.
    • Check if class abilities, feats, or the like can be reflavored or slightly altered to something the race does.
    • When designing races, realize that there is precedent for some fairly game-altering abilities already, such as Aarakocra or Variant Tiefling flight (which is even better than past edition versions of flight). Don't be afraid to grant your race some powerful tools. It takes a lot for something to be worth giving up class levels.
    • Have a minimum level at which you are allowed to play the race. Have mandatory racial feats that use up your ASIs to grant potent racial powers or necessary stats.

    Of course, more extreme measures could still be necessary in the case of truly powerful creatures, like ancient dragons. Those could frankly just be their own class, honestly. But making a properly balanced monster class or level adjustment is often more work than you actually need to do for most monstrous races. You can cover an awful lot of ground with just refluffing, minimum levels, and a willingness to hand out the odd aarakocra or yuan-ti tier ability.

    Example:
    Sea Hag: +2 Con / +1 Str
    Darkvision
    Bonus languages: Aquan / Giant
    Amphibious / Swim Speed 30
    Horrific Appearance: Takes a bonus action or action. Alternatively, limited by rest (compare the Aasimar ability)
    Death Glare: Give it an hp threshold that scales with level (similar to Power Words and the like).
    Natural Weapons: You have them.
    Illusory Appearance: Pretty much as written.

    Bam. A Sea Hag in 5 minutes, no class level loss needed.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2018-06-30 at 07:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    And you don't go for a 1:1 adaptation. 5e is very much designed around resource management, and monstrous PCs should be no exception.
    I'm not saying it's ABSOLUTELY 1-1, but it needs to be close, otherwise it either misses the point or doesn't even matter. There are things PC's almost certainly shouldn't have, but they need to have similar abilities. For instance, Intellect Devourer characters(I mean, I wouldn't call them LA anything, but you get the point) damn sure shouldn't be able to incapacitate next to everything, but they should have powerful psionic talents nonetheless.

    And as to 5e being mostly resource management; That only really applies at low levels. At a certain point, you're not going to use all of your rages/indomitables/spell slots/hit dice/etc., depending on what class it is. It's usually 10thish level, I find. Any LA's that are fully developed at low levels wouldn't really break this rule, only the higher ones, and by the time it really takes effect, it doesn't even matter most of the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This isn't "slightly more powerful." It's the same range and action type, but the effect is significantly stronger. "Trusted acquaintance" vs "trusted friend to be heeded and protected...takes the vampire's requests in the most favorable way it can...is a willing target for the vampire's bite attack." Ends on hostile action vs "can repeat the save" on hostile action. "Knows it was charmed by you" vs no such line.

    This is on par with Dominate Person, except that it a) doesn't take concentration, b) lasts 60x24 = 1440 times as long, and c) doesn't take a high-level slot--it's totally at will. And since there's no "if a target succeeds he's immune" line, you can just spam it over and over (without the target even necessarily knowing you're doing it depending on rulings on that sort of thing) until it succeeds. That's not a PC ability. You can only dominate 1 person at a time, and exercising full control takes your actions. A vampire can have unlimited (ok, 14,400 if he does nothing else over the duration and all fail) people charmed at once. Without using his actions once they're charmed.
    It's nowhere close to Dominate. Nowhere close. "Trusted friend" is nowhere near "Total control", even with the line of "To be heeded and protected". It even directly says "the target isn't under the vampire's control". It just listens and trusts the vampire. And on that note, if I were a vampire's good friend, I'd let them bite me. They're my friend. That probably doesn't even need to be a line here.

    On the topic of duration; Yeah, 24 hours is a while. 24 times longer than the closest spell effect. Because yes, Charm Person is the closest. Going from "Trusted Acquaintance" to "Trusted Friend" isn't a huge step, especially considering the one after "Trusted Friend" is "Absolute Control". Again, this is only something like a 4th or 5th level spell effect. Mass Suggestion is only 6th level, and that's a much better spell than "Charm Person+". 24 hours, no concentration... TWELVE FRACKING PEOPLE!? Dnd is borken. So yeah, the "Spell Level Equivalent" of Charm is only 4 or 5.

    Lastly, while it's odd that it doesn't blatantly alert the charmed person, it's pretty obvious with a cursory thought. There aren't any memory manipulation effects, so one slip on the vampire's part(Or, you know, a nibble) and it goes from "Hey, that guy was pretty charming. Odd I trusted him with all those secrets." to "Oh ****, that vampire seduced me with magic!"

    But you know what? You had a good point. The vampire can keep spamming it. At the cost of it's action every turn. It's DC caps at 19, you get it at your 9thish vampire level('Cus that one's gonna need you to take ALL the vampire levels, no class-level-breaks), but you can, in fact, spam it. It will look very odd to any observers that you keep staring at the same person for 10+ seconds before they suddenly become your friend, and using it in a fight with more than 1 person will NOT blow over well, but yup. You can do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    And note that the vampire is not a full-caster chassis. So saying he gets it at 9th (or 11th if you decide it's a 5th-level-equivalent effect) is giving him the equivalent of full-casting progression + the rest of the chassis. If you decided to go down that route, I'd peg him as a half-caster, so getting his 5th level spell-equivalent abilities at level 17.
    Problem- It doesn't GET a caster chassis. It gets a bit of shapeshifting(Which ultimately doesn't give much since you keep your stats and health), extra attack, some physical stat increases(Ultimately ending with the three at 18 each), and a few spell-like abilities(Spider Climb, Charm, Misty Escape, Children of the Night, all at different levels). Also let's not forget the vampire weaknesses. Getting one 5thish level spell(Even one at-will) at 9th level doesn't put you anywhere close to being a full caster.

    Full casters have entire rosters of spells to use, not one ****ty charm spell(Deals no damage, can POSSIBLY shut down fights with only humanoids in it). A caster's power comes more from their variety of effects, not from sheer potency. Someone who can cast 100 meteor swarms and only 100 meteor swarms will lose to someone who can cast fly, rope trick, or mordenkainen's magnificent mansion, invulnerability, counterspell, antimagic sphere, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This is what I mean. There are many many abilities that monsters have that are not suitable for PCs to have. The two are completely asymmetric. What makes for a good NPC is not what makes a good PC. That's why you give "monster classes" evocative versions of the iconic abilities. The final stat blocks will be different but similar enough while still retaining playability. And with much less work than trying to somehow retrofit all monster abilities into a full-caster framework.
    There are certainly some, you're not wrong. Not too many, and it's certainly NOT asymmetric. And when you say "Evocative versions" you really mean to say "****ty versions". Put a limit, certainly, but when you change things to what would be considered "Perfectly normal and balanced", you defeat the purpose of playing a monster, and sometimes you even just start breaking lore, depending on just how powerful the ability was.

    Also, why do you keep bringing up a "Full caster framework?" Nobody ever said make monsters full casters. Hell, nobody even brought up giving them spellcasting until now. I said compare them to spells to figure out how strong they are, and go from there. Come on, man, actually read posts, don't skim them.

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    Actually giving up class levels was an unpopular system because it didn't really... work. It was almost never worth it, and even when it was, it usually was only worth it at certain levels and didn't progress properly. It was a mess, for many reasons. Ideally you'd want to avoid level adjustment in favor of alternative methods of modeling powerful races.

    Here are some relatively easy ways to help play a strange and powerful creature without rocking the boat much in terms of balance:
    • Realize that racial ability modifiers and HD are totally unnecessary in most cases. No really. You don't need a +6 ability modifier for a race that has an average of 16 in a given stat, you can just... you know, put a 16 in that stat and say that you're playing an averagely strong Sea Hag instead of a very exceptionally strong human. This is even more true at higher levels, where you can just raise whatever stat up to 20 without any unusual rules at your disposal. Most monster statlines (such as the aforementioned awakened owlbear) are achievable by plain old humans under the rules as written. That should be enough short of people wanting to play a Fire Giant or something, in which case you can just give them a powerful-build-esque thing that boosts their ability to lift or make strength checks but not their ability to hit and damage.
    • Check if class abilities, feats, or the like can be reflavored or slightly altered to something the race does.
    • When designing races, realize that there is precedent for some fairly game-altering abilities already, such as Aarakocra or Variant Tiefling flight (which is even better than past edition versions of flight). Don't be afraid to grant your race some powerful tools. It takes a lot for something to be worth giving up class levels.
    • Have a minimum level at which you are allowed to play the race. Have mandatory racial feats that use up your ASIs to grant potent racial powers or necessary stats.

    Of course, more extreme measures could still be necessary in the case of truly powerful creatures, like ancient dragons. Those could frankly just be their own class, honestly. But making a properly balanced monster class or level adjustment is often more work than you actually need to do for most monstrous races. You can cover an awful lot of ground with just refluffing, minimum levels, and a willingness to hand out the odd aarakocra or yuan-ti tier ability.

    Example:
    Sea Hag: +2 Con / +1 Str
    Darkvision
    Bonus languages: Aquan / Giant
    Amphibious / Swim Speed 30
    Horrific Appearance: Takes a bonus action or action. Alternatively, limited by rest (compare the Aasimar ability)
    Death Glare: Give it an hp threshold that scales with level (similar to Power Words and the like).
    Natural Weapons: You have them.
    Illusory Appearance: Pretty much as written.

    Bam. A Sea Hag in 5 minutes, no class level loss needed.
    To repeat one of my earlier statements; This is the equivalent of saying "Order Pizza" to the question of Burger King or Wendy's.

    But actually responding to this, you basically did an entire post about why you DON'T need LA. On a thread about making LA a thing. Why, exactly, did you feel the need to do this? It's already not in the game, it's OBVIOUSLY unnecessary(Technically the whole game is, but you get the point). There was no reason to post this. Like, no offense, but really, WHY did you post this?

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by demonslayerelf View Post
    To repeat one of my earlier statements; This is the equivalent of saying "Order Pizza" to the question of Burger King or Wendy's.

    But actually responding to this, you basically did an entire post about why you DON'T need LA. On a thread about making LA a thing. Why, exactly, did you feel the need to do this? It's already not in the game, it's OBVIOUSLY unnecessary(Technically the whole game is, but you get the point). There was no reason to post this. Like, no offense, but really, WHY did you post this?
    By that "reasoning," why did you post your thought 3 and thought 4, which are not LA and are therefore (according to your reasoning) saying to "Order Pizza?" I expect you posted them for the same reason I posted this one, or JNAProductions and Grod posted their class ideas.

    I posted it because I thought your goal was "enabling people to play strange and powerful creatures without ruining the game." And this is an effective and practical means to that end which has met with great success in the past.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ziegander View Post
    You come to the forum with a half-baked idea that has some merit and ask the community for their opinions on the different directions you're thinking of going with it and for advice on how to help fully bake the idea into a good and working product.

    But then twice in this thread you have been rude to those posting their thoughts who have only come and posted here to help you realize your idea.
    Yeah, no kidding...
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2018-06-30 at 10:12 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crucius View Post
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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    By that "reasoning," why did you post your thought 3 and thought 4, which are not LA and are therefore (according to your reasoning) saying to "Order Pizza?" I expect you posted them for the same reason I posted this one, or JNAProductions and Grod posted their class ideas.

    I posted it because I thought your goal was "enabling people to play strange and powerful creatures without ruining the game." And this is an effective and practical means to that end which has met with great success in the past.
    Thoughts 3 and 4 are LA, specifically two ways you could do that(Though I suppose 3 does sort of break that rule from all perspectives except experience). Your post was essentially "Don't use LA." Literally the exact opposite of the point of this thread about possible ways to handle LA(Though I suppose almost all of the conversation has become about 4 and ways to change 4).

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    The main problem with LA is that it eats your highest levels (a variable cost) in return for some neat monster abilities (usually a fixed benefit). That is, a Sorcerer 15/Vampire 3 is missing out on ninth-level spells and getting vampiric goodies, whereas a Sorcerer 1/Vampire 3 is missing out on second-level spells and getting vampiric goodies. So whatever method you use, you're gonna need to make sure that the abilities you get scale with level in a way that 5th edition doesn't really do and 3.5 sorta did. In the vampire's case, you can make the regeneration 1/level instead of 20 and the legendary resistance 1/6 levels, say.

    An odd way of doing it but one that might work is to let you choose which levels your LA eats - for example, a sorcerer 15/vampire 3 might choose to let vampire eat level 6 (thereby losing a 3rd-level slot, a spell known, and whatever origin feature they would have got at 6th), level 7 (lose a 4th-level slot and a spell known) and 12 (lose an ASI and nothing else). You'd have to be able to reallocate it whenever you gained a level for this to work, though.

    Alternatively, you could just straight-up make people lose a point or two of proficiency bonus and nothing else, but I don't massively recommend that.

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    Default Re: Level Adjustment in 5e

    I'd use the Paragon function but strip away "Class features" and replace with the Race features while allowing the core mechanics of the class to carry on.

    Example: Vamp Wizard and Vamp Fighter
    Vamp Wizard loses Ritual casting, gains the blood drain. Keeps spellcasting.
    Fighter loses Second Wind, gains blood drain. Keeps wpn/armor prof and fighting style.

    And so on.

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