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Giving Monsters Class Levels

 
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:49 am    Post subject: Giving Monsters Class Levels Reply with quote

How do you all deal with giving monsters class levels. For example, a succubus with levels of mage. Would you increase her HD by 1 for every level of mage? Would her casting level take into account her succubus levels or would a succubus with 10 levels of mage simply have a CL of 10?

Interested to see what everyone else does ...
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been doing this through every edition of the game since AD&D. I believe it adds fun and realism, though it can get out of hand if you don't apply some rules.

The biggest problem is with immortal creatures, like the succubus you mentioned. If a human can attain epic level in one lifetime, why wouldn't every immortal creature be epic and beyond?

I answer that in-game question with a bit of philosophy. Our PCs' mortal lives dictate their eternal personality and alignment. Once a soul becomes immortal, it doesn't change much - it's eternity is set. However, learning continues, albeit far more slowly. So, an immortal creature needs somewhere in the viscinity of one million times the number of experience points to gain a class level as a mortal does. That allows for some immortals to have class levels, and for fallen angels/sanctified fiends, etc, without completely over-powering the outer planes.

And, to answer your question, I add the full benefits of every class level I grant to any NPC.

SirXaris
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like what SirXaris mentioned.

I do occasionally add a creature with a class, but they typically are humanoids (coincidentally I own The Complete Book of Humanoids). As for non-humanoids with classes, that is more rare, but not unheard of in my campaigns. I did toss in an alu-fiend or two with mage abilities during my Lost Caverns saga, and there was a cambion fighter as well.

To this end, unless 'the rules' (I like calling them what MysticScholar refers to as 'guidelines') say otherwise, I normally keep their HD the same UNLESS their class level and hit points exceed their creature hit points. I take the better of the two, and usually their creature HD/hit pts win out.

hope this make sense (if not, let me know and I will clarify),

Lanthorn
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
The biggest problem is with immortal creatures, like the succubus you mentioned. If a human can attain epic level in one lifetime, why wouldn't every immortal creature be epic and beyond?


Because, [mostly] unlike the mortal realm, when something in the Abyss has the temerity to seek to become more powerful than its station, something more powerful than it annihilates it before it can become a threat to its betters.

Ergo, no teeming hordes of epic level stuff in the lower planes (and elsewhere).

As to rules, I do what Lanthorn does. Basically, treat the creature as if it were dual-class, so any class levels that go beyond its base HD give the creature more HD of the class type. So, a Succubus that has 6 HD base, but that is also a 10th level wizard, gains four additional HD of the D4 type. The exception to this is humanoids, who I treated purely as the class in question using The Complete book of Humanoids for reference.
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your feedback everyone, it was really helpful!!

I think adding class levels to some monstrous creatures, especially those of the outer planes just opens up a lot more possibilities. I've been adapting the Savage Tide AP to 2nd edition. In 3rd edition everything has class levels at higher levels so I wanted a 2e mechanic to do something similar but without overpowering the creatures.
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, Lanthorn's suggestion of consulting Monster Mythology in my other query led me to a section about non-human priests that tackles this query directly and basically suggests as Lanthorn and Cebrion do.

I really should spend more time reading the beginning chapters of these source books!!
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realize now that my answer above was based on newer additions and that back when I was playing 2nd edition I did as suggested by Lanthorn and Cebrion. For example, when converting The Keep on the Borderlands to 2nd edition, I would change the 4 HD bugbear leader to a 4th level fighter. I didn't add his four original hit dice to his four levels of fighter, I just gave him the upgrades associated with the class. In later editions, I tend to do it differently.

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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread is in the 2E forum, but you mentioned CL 10, Wolfling. As Sir Xaris mentioned, the edition you want advice for might change the answers given just a bit. My previously posted recommendation is 2E specific. If you want to know about enhancing monsters for 3.5E, 3.5E actually has a detailed system for doing just that. See p. 290 of the 3.5E Monster Manual for this system.
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ohhh sorry for the confusion ... when I typed CL 10 I was lazily referring to Casting Level (a 2nd edition term I read somewhere although don't ask me to tell you where, I checked and failed so maybe I dreamed it) as opposed to Caster Level or Character Level which were from later editions so my query was definitely about 2e.

In hindsight that abbreviation for confusing! Apologies!
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nah, you are probably right to begin with. Caster Level. Character Level. Challenge Level (er...Rating). Whatever. As long as you know what you're talking about, that's all that matters. Laughing
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
Nah, you are probably right to begin with. Caster Level. Character Level. Challenge Level (er...Rating). Whatever. As long as you know what you're talking about, that's all that matters. Laughing



Hahah well to be honest that's debatable sometimes!!
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digitalelf
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guide to Hell, says that baatezu can advance in level equal to their HD. The example given is for Osyluths. It says that they can become 5th-level wizards due to their 5 HD.

This could be used for Tanar'ri as well.

It should be noted that this is vastly different than how classed/leveled angelic beings (from "Warriors of Heaven") are treated. They gain their Monstrous Manual powers little by little as they advance in level.
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks digitalelf, those are both really helpful references!
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so another question about how you deal with your monsters ...

Some creatures seem to do very little damage with their attacks. Especially demons and the like. For example, a big hulking glabrezu does 1d3 damage with each of its claws yet in its pincers is strong enough to lift 150lbs off the floor without breaking a sweat.

Sometimes a creature's Strength score is mentioned, such as the vrock with a Str19 but the damage bonus only seems to be applied to a weapon attacks it makes.

Do you ever work out the Strength score of a creature and apply it to its natural attacks?
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that I asked this very same question some time back...

And I believe the answer was "YES."

Add the Strength bonus to natural attacks, so things like demons, giants, and the like are truly terrible with their damage modifiers. Oddly enough, I think the clawing damage of trolls already includes their strength somehow.

-Lanthorn
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Wolfling
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2019 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Lanthorn, I probably should have checked the threads more thoroughly first.

But yes, I find that some creatures seem to have their Strength considered in their damage dice others not so much. I guess, as with most things 2e it's down to DM judgement.
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AuldDragon
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless the damage modifier is included in the stat block, or is specifically stated in the combat description to apply to natural attacks, it does not. That is according to Sage Advice, but I would have to look up the specific issue number.

Case in point: The Gelugon has its Strength modifier added to all of its attacks in the statblock; the Vrocks does not. The same applies to giants; their natural attacks do not get modified for Strength, but their weapons do. In the case of the Glabrezu, it is reasonable to assume the pincers either slice or have great gripping power but not much crushing power, and the arms have great lifting power. Despite the inconsistencies of the Gelugon and some other creatures, things like Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution should be incorporated into the monster's statistics (damage, AC, HD, movement speed, etc.), since the Ability Scores break down when you take into vastly different creature types (the Strength score is more about upper body strength with a human as a baseline, and should never apply to bites, claws, etc.). Most creatures with human-like limbs should be more dangerous with weapons, essentially.

Regarding monsters with class levels, Hellbound: The Blood War states that all fiends can become wizards if their Intelligence is 11 or higher, and they can advance to a level equal to their HD or equal to the casting level of their powers, whichever is greater. There's other rules there specifically for fiendish spellcasters (including priests). Otherwise Monster Mythology, as you discovered, has the most solid rules for all creatures. It is not unreasonable to mix-and-match, too, depending on what suits the adventure (you could make some full class priests using Complete Book of Humanoids as the powerful leaders, with the weaker shamans as spellcasting "mooks" along the way tot he final confrontation, for example). That's one of the things I like about 2e. :)

Jeff
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