3e LAs and ECLs for Dragons

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Big Mac
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3e LAs and ECLs for Dragons

Post by Big Mac » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:27 pm

I looked at the Level Adjustments (LAs) and Effective Character Levels (ECLs) for playable monsters ages back, but I've always thought that 3e Dragons were a bit of a mess.

ECLs are based on the LA plus Monster Hit Dice plus Class Level. That's fine with a regular monster, but as Dragons progress, they gain Monster Hit Dice...and the LA penalty also goes up. That means that the goal posts shift as Dragons Age.

On top of that D&D never provided LA penalties for Epic Monsters. Once a monster gets to an ECL of 20th level it was considered unplayable. So there is no data there.

Lets have a look at the Black Dragon. We get the following information:
Black Dragons by Age
Age | Size | Hit Dice | Level Adjustment | Effective Character Level* Wyrmling | T | 4d12+4 (30) | +3 | 7+* Very young | S | 7d12+7 (52) | +3 | 10+* Young | M | 10d12+20 (85) | +3 | 13+* Juvenile | M | 13d12+26 (110) | +4 | 17+* Young adult | L | 16d12+48 (152) | - | -

* = ECLs are not normally written as X+, but there is also supposed to be Class Levels added in there. So if someone was going to play a Wyrmling Black Dragon Ranger, they could start off as a 7th Level PC, with zero Class levels and then add 13 Levels of Ranger, before becoming an Epic Character.

However, when a Wyrmling Black Dragon turns into a Very Young Black Dragon it suddenly gains an extra 3 Hit Dice. And when a Young Black Dragon turns ito a Juvenile Black Dragon it gains both an extra 3 Hit Dice and also another +1 LA penalty (a combined ECL increase of +4).

I've not worked out how to deal with these sudden increases in power.

And I think that, if I extrapolate the above (limited information) and infer LA penalties for Epic Dragons, the issue is going to get bigger and bigger.

EDIT: Scratch that. I've just checked the Advancement Section.
Advancement: Black Dragons wrote:Wyrmling 5-6 HD; very young 8-9 HD; young 11-12 HD; juvenile 14-15 HD; young adult 17-18 HD; adult 20-21 HD; mature adult 23-24 HD; old 26-27 HD; very old 29-30 HD; ancient 32-33 HD; wyrm 35-36 HD; great wyrm 38+ HD
So, a Wyrmling Black Dragon is able to add on two Monster Levels of Black Dragon, before it hits the glass ceiling (and needs to age to a Very Young Black Dragon).

I'm thinking that, if Dragon PCs are required to take Monster Levels in their race, up to the next size category (before ageing) that could get rid of a lot of the problem. It could be just the LA penalty increase that is the problem. :?

The original Council of Wyrms rules were designed for 2nd Edition, but do they give any ideas on how to balance out the power shifts in playable dragons?

Or are shifts upwards in power just a normal thing (like modified stats for conventional PC races)? Should I just be ignoring this sort of thing (except to calculate Challenge Raitings of NPC Dragons)?

EXTRAPOLATED LA AND ECL STATS FOR 3E DRAGONS:
Last edited by Big Mac on Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Extrapolated Black Dragon LAs and ECLs

Post by Big Mac » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:24 pm

I'm going to extrapolate the information from the SRD entry for the Black Dragon.

My assumptions are going to be that the increase in LA penalty is linear. That might be "wrong", but that's the assumption I am going to start with, so that I've got something to work with. I'm also going to add in an "Advancement" column, so that I can see how many Monster HD a dragon can take before it needs to age.

Extrapolated Black Dragons by Age Category
[b]Age Category[/b] | [b]Size[/b] | [b]Hit Dice[/b] | [b]Level Adjustment[/b] | [b]Effective Character Level[/b]* | [b]HD Advancement[/b] [b]Wyrmling[/b] | T | 4d12+4 (30) | +3 | 7+* | 5-6 [b]Very young[/b] | S | 7d12+7 (52) | +3 | 10+* | 8-9 [b]Young[/b] | M | 10d12+20 (85) | +3 | 13+* | 11-12 [b]Juvenile[/b] | M | 13d12+26 (110) | +4 | 17+* | 14-15 [b]Young adult[/b] | L | 16d12+48 (152) | +4 | 20+* | 17-18 [b]Adult[/b] | L | 19d12+76 (199) | +4 | 23+* | 20-21 [b]Mature adult[/b] | H | 22d12+110 (253) | +5 | 27+* | 23-24 [b]Old[/b] | H | 25d12+125 (287) | +5 | 30+* | 26-27 [b]Very old[/b] | H | 28d12+168 (350) | +5 | 33+* | 29-30 [b]Ancient[/b] | H | 31d12+186 (387) | +6 | 37+* | 32-33 [b]Wyrm[/b] | G | 34d12+238 (459) | +6 | 40+* | 35-36 [b]Great wyrm[/b] | G | 37d12+296 (536) | +6 | 43+* | 38+

* = ECLs are not normally written as +X, but there is also supposed to be Class Levels added in there. So if someone was going to play a Wyrmling Black Dragon Ranger, they could start off as a 7th Level PC, with zero Class levels and then add 13 Levels of Ranger, before becoming an Epic Character.

Extrapolation for the Black Dragon starts at Young Adult.

I might come back to Advanced Black Dragons (from the Epic SRD) later and add them to this post.
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Re: 3e LAs and ECLs for Dragons

Post by Coronoides » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:49 am

I don't really have a good answer but I can throw you a few things to consider.

Firstly, 2e and 3e are simply NOT editions of the same game, they are two very different games. In 2e there was no universal equal level. Four characters all of different classes but at the same level would not be equal in power and would have very different xp totals. The Council of Wryms Dragons were the ultimate extreme of this so much so they isolated them in their own setting. Dragons were given 12 levels to match the 12 age categories and each dragon level was equivalent to many levels in any other class. In short looking at Council of Wryms 2e rules will be zero help.

Looking at the 3.X era where my knowledge is a little shaky the 'universal level' is introduced. The aim is now that all characters at the same level will be equal utility, that was the plan anyway, at least at first. then I lost interest 3.x just wasn't my game. However, because I have a dragon obsession I did pick up the Draconomicon and Dragon Magazine 320.

The Draconomicon treated the dragon as a multi class and LA's like class levels except some of them were 'dead LAs' where you got nothing (maybe a HD?).

Dragon magazine 320 presented dragons as race-classes 20 levels of class abilities to represent each dragon race.
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/232813/ ... rs-Toolkit

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms with dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: Book 1 https://www.dropbox.com/s/magh66x3ly8q5 ... 8.pdf?dl=0 and Book 2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/0n3i5bki6svae ... 0.pdf?dl=0

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Re: 3e LAs and ECLs for Dragons

Post by Big Mac » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:15 pm

Coronoides wrote:I don't really have a good answer but I can throw you a few things to consider.

Firstly, 2e and 3e are simply NOT editions of the same game, they are two very different games. In 2e there was no universal equal level. Four characters all of different classes but at the same level would not be equal in power and would have very different xp totals. The Council of Wryms Dragons were the ultimate extreme of this so much so they isolated them in their own setting. Dragons were given 12 levels to match the 12 age categories and each dragon level was equivalent to many levels in any other class. In short looking at Council of Wryms 2e rules will be zero help.

Looking at the 3.X era where my knowledge is a little shaky the 'universal level' is introduced. The aim is now that all characters at the same level will be equal utility, that was the plan anyway, at least at first. then I lost interest 3.x just wasn't my game. However, because I have a dragon obsession I did pick up the Draconomicon and Dragon Magazine 320.

The Draconomicon treated the dragon as a multi class and LA's like class levels except some of them were 'dead LAs' where you got nothing (maybe a HD?).

Dragon magazine 320 presented dragons as race-classes 20 levels of class abilities to represent each dragon race.
Sounds like I need to refer to those sources.

There are some "Monster Classes" in the 3e Dragonlance Campaign Setting, that dilute high powered monsters down, to allow players to start playing them as 1 HD monsters (when the standard rules make them into multiple HD and LA monsters).

I might still make a pass through the SRD, to see what power levels it gives for "extrapolated dragons", just so I have something to compare to...and also so I can tell how much tweaking Draconomicon or Dragon 320 did. But it seems like I should check the other sources first, in case they already solved my problem.

Thanks for your help!
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Re: 3e LAs and ECLs for Dragons

Post by Coronoides » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:12 am

I’m happy when my obsessions are useful!
EDIT: Warning the 3.5e Draconomicon is so full of typos and editing errors I hate that I paid actual money for it.
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/232813/ ... rs-Toolkit

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms with dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: Book 1 https://www.dropbox.com/s/magh66x3ly8q5 ... 8.pdf?dl=0 and Book 2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/0n3i5bki6svae ... 0.pdf?dl=0

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