Monstrous Player Characters (3.5e Variant Rule)
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Monstrous Player Characters
It's generally a widely accepted fact that the playing-as-monsters rules in the Savage Species supplement don't work well for various reasons. First of all, taking numerous levels in racial hit dice can be detrimental for a character in the long run, while level adjustment can entirely screw over a character.
Another problem is that monsters have naturally high ability scores and natural armor to make up for their lack of equipment, which, when combined with the kind of equipment a PC gains, can throw a character completely off the RNG, which isn't good for the system either.
In order to alleviate this problem while still allowing players to play as monsters, this variant was created so that players could play high-level monsters while still remaining relevant at various levels of play.
How It Works
- Pick a creature you want. Any creature of any challenge rating. That is now your base creature. Reduce odd ability scores of that race by one for the purpose of the next two steps.
- Take the two highest ability scores that creature possesses. You gain a +2 racial bonus to both of these. (If three or more ability scores compete for the highest total, choose any two of those.)
- Take the lowest ability score that creature possesses. You take a -2 racial penalty to that ability score. (If two or more ability scores compete for the lowest total, choose one of those.)
- Lose the ability scores and innate armor bonuses (such as from natural armor) for that race. Instead, you gain the above bonuses.
- At first level and every odd level afterwards, you gain a hit die of that monster's type up until you reach that creature's challenge rating. (See below for examples.) At these levels, you may gain a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to any ability score (up to a maximum of +6), or a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus to your natural armor (up to a maximum of +5).
- Stagger the creature's abilities at various levels until you achieve that creature's challenge rating, at which point it should have all of its relevant abilities.
- Spell-like abilities have a caster level equal to the creature's total HD rather than stopping at where they would normally for that creature. Spell resistance also scales with the character's level in the same way based on their total SR at their CR minus their total CR (see the Succubus below for an example). If the monster has natural spellcasting, manifesting, or initiating, the its CL, ML, or IL respectively is at most equal to the number of racial HD you possess from this variant.
- For every size category larger than Medium, the creature enjoys a +2 bonus to Strength. For every size category smaller than Medium, the creature takes a -2 penalty to Strength.
- If the monster's CR is odd-numbered, (3, 5, 7, and so on,) it gains an additional HD enhancement bonus (as it would get at each racial HD, as in step 5) every 4 levels after it completes its racial levels. (See the discussion page for the reasons why even-CR creatures are stronger than odd-CR creatures without this balancing factor.)
- Enjoy a more balanced version of the monster that advances as it levels while getting abilities at level-appropriate points without the problems that level adjustment and too many racial HD represent.
Example #1: The Ogre
Let's take the ogre as our first example. First, we take its ability scores: Str 20, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 6 (after filing off the odd numbers).
This gives us our starting ability scores; this example would gain a +2 bonus to Strength and Constitution, and a -2 penalty to either Intelligence or Charisma.
Next we look at the ogre's abilities and stagger them across 3 levels (its Challenge Rating) while taking giant racial hit dice at levels 1 and 3. This gives us the following table:
|Level||Hit Dice||Abilities Gained|
|1||1d8||Base Move Speed, Darkvision, HD Bonus|
|2||As per class chosen||As per class chosen|
|3||1d8||HD Bonus, Large Size|
The ogre has the Giant type, and thus gains the following abilities: Low-Light Vision, Medium BAB for its racial Hit Die (as per a cleric), Good Fortitude saves for its racial Hit Dice (as per a fighter), and skill points per level equal to 2 + Intelligence modifier (quadruple at first level). It also has proficiency in simple and martial weapons, and is proficient with Light armor. The ogre begins at first level as a Medium creature.
Starting languages: An ogre begins with Giant as a known language. It can choose from the following languages if its Intelligence score is high enough to warrant extra languages: Abyssal, Dwarven, Goblin, Gnoll, Gnome, Infernal, Orc, Terran. If it begins with an Intelligence score of at least 10, it gains Common as a bonus language automatically.
Base Move Speed (Ex): At first level, an ogre has a base speed of 40'.
Darkvision (Ex): At first level, an ogre has Darkvision (out to 60').
HD Bonus (Ex): At first and third levels, the ogre gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to any ability score (up to a maximum of +6), or a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus to their natural armor (up to a maximum of +5).
Large Size (Ex): At third level the ogre grows to Large Size. This grants them the appropriate size modifiers to various abilities, but does not include any chance in ability scores except for a +2 bonus to their Strength score.
Afterwards, the ogre would continue taking classes as normal for a character. At level 7, 11, 15, and 17, the ogre gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to any ability score (up to a maximum of +6), or a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus to their natural armor (up to a maximum of +5).
Example #2: The Succubus
The succubus is a little harder, but not too much so. First we take its ability scores: Str 12, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 26 (after filing off the odd numbers).
So we end up with +2 to Intelligence and Charisma, but take a -2 penalty to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution
Next we need to stagger the succubus's abilities across 7 levels (its Challenge Rating) while taking outsider hit dice at levels 1, 3, 5 and 7. From this, we can take the following table:
|Level||Hit Dice||Abilities Gained|
|1||1d8||Base Move Speed, Claws, Minor Demonic Abilities, HD Bonus, Spell Resistance, Succubus Senses +2|
|2||As per class chosen||As per class chosen, Change Shape, Minor Spell-like Abilities|
|3||1d8||Moderate Demonic Abilities, Energy Drain 1/day, HD Bonus, Succubus Senses +4, Minor Summon|
|4||As per class chosen||As per class chosen, Moderate Spell-like Abilties|
|5||1d8||Greater Demonic Abilities, Energy Drain 3/day, HD Bonus, Limited Flight, Succubus Senses +6, Moderate Summon|
|6||As per class chosen||As per class chosen, Greater Spell-like Abilties|
|7||1d8||Fell Demonic Abilities, Energy Drain at will, Full Flight, HD Bonus, Fell Spell-like Abilities, Succubus Senses +8, Greater Summon|
The succubus has the Outsider type, and thus gains the following abilities: Darkvision 60', Full BAB for its racial Hit Die (as per a fighter), Good Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves for its racial Hit Dice (as per a monk), and skill points per level equal to 8 + Intelligence modifier (quadruple at first level). It also possesses the Chaotic, Extraplanar, and Evil subtypes, breathes but has no need to eat or sleep, and spells that restore souls to their bodies, such as raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection, don’t work on the succubus. It also gains proficiency with simple and martial weapons, and is not proficient with any type of armor or shield. The succubus begins at first level as a Medium creature.
Starting languages: A succubus begins with Abyssal as a known language. It can choose from the following languages if its Intelligence score is high enough to warrant extra languages: Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elf, Ignan, Infernal, Orc.
Base Move Speed (Ex): At first level, a succubus has a base speed of 30'.
Claws (Ex): At first level, a succubus gains a pair of claws that deal 1d6 damage (when Medium size).
Demonic Abilities: A succubus gains the following abilities at the listed levels. These are extraordinary abilities unless specified.
- Level 1: +2 bonus to saves against poison effects, Telepathy 10' (Su)
- Level 3: +4 bonus to saves against poison effects (does not stack with earlier bonus), resistance to electricty 5, Telepathy 30' (Su), Tongues (Su, as per the spell, constant at a CL of level + 5, maximum of 12)
- Level 5: DR 5/cold iron or good, immunity to poison effects resistance to acid 5, cold 5, electricity 10, fire 5, Telepathy 60' (Su)
- Level 7: DR 10/cold iron or good, immunity to electricity, resistance to acid 10, cold 10, fire 10, Telepathy 100' (Su)
HD Bonus (Ex): At first, third, fifth, and seventh levels, the succubus gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to any ability score (up to a maximum of +6), or a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus to their natural armor (up to a maximum of +5).
Spell Resistance (Su): At first level a succubus gains Spell Resistance equal to its level + 11.
Succubus Senses (Ex): At first level a succubus gains a +2 racial bonus to Spot and Listen check. This increases by 2 at every odd level afterwards up to a maximum of +8 at level 7.
Change Shape (Su): At second level, a succubus can assume the form of any Small or Medium humanoid.
Spell-like Abilities (Sp): A succubus gains the following spell-like abilities at the listed levels. These abilities have a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier and have a caster level equal to the succubus's total HD.
- Level 2: Charm Monster (1/day), Detect Good (at will), Detect Thoughts (3/day), Suggestion (1/day)
- Level 4: Charm Monster (3/day), Detect Thoughts (at will), Suggestion (3/day)
- Level 6: Charm Monster (at will), Ethereal Jaunt (1/day), Greater Teleport (1/day, self plus 50 pounds of objects only), Suggestion (at will)
- Level 7: Ethereal Jaunt (at will), Greater Teleport (at will, self plus 50 pounds of objects only)
Energy Drain (Su): At third level, once per day a succubus can drain energy from a mortal it lures into some act of passion, or by simply planting a kiss on the victim. If the target is not willing to be kissed, the succubus must start a grapple, which provokes an attack of opportunity. The succubus’s kiss or embrace bestows one negative level. The kiss also has the effect of a suggestion spell, asking the victim to accept another kiss from the succubus. The victim must succeed on a DC Will save to negate the effect of the suggestion. The DC to resist the Suggestion as well as for the Fortitude save to remove the negative level are equal to 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier.
The succubus may use this three times per day at 5th level, and at will at 7th level.
Summon (Sp): At third level, a succubus can attempt to summon 1 dretch once per day with a 30% chance of success. This ability is the equivalent of a 1st-level spell. At fifth level, this ability instead summons a babau and is considered a 2nd-level spell. At seventh level this ability instead summons a vrock and is considered a 3rd-level spell.
Flight (Ex): At fifth level, a succubus gains the ability to fly (50' speed, average maneuverability) for a number of rounds per day equal to her Constitution score. At seventh level there is no limit on the number of rounds per day a succubus can fly.
After completing the 7 levels in its progression, the succubus would continue normally gaining class levels as any other PC would. At level 11, 15, and 17, the succubus gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to any ability score (up to a maximum of +6), or a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus to their natural armor (up to a maximum of +5).