SRD talk:Effective Character Level

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What's With This Article[edit]

This is a weird article, with a weird page tag and a single category of which it is the only entry. Is this even part of the SRD? What's up with this thing? --Ganteka Future 22:48, April 12, 2010 (UTC)

Its also a bit off. From D&D Glossary , "A creature's ECL is the sum of its Hit Dice (including class levels) and level adjustment." --Be well 19:40, April 17, 2010 (UTC)

ECL Simplified

ECL – Effective Character Level Adding a little confusion to the situation there are some PRCs that are using ECL for Effective Caster Level which has a slightly different impact.

Effective Character Level is actually simple. The ECL +# is added totheir actual level for figuring out the characters abilities and bonuses in their chosen class. This does not change the progression rate of the character as far as actual character experience required or development.

As an example, say we have a character starting out with a race that gets an ECL of +2, starting out as a Rogue. This has a big impact at lower levels, but diminishes as the character progresses. - HD will be 3d6 and progress from their with each level - When looking at their BAB, Saves and Special table always drop down two lines from their actual level so a level 1 +2 ECL would start with BAB:+2, Fort Save:+1, Ref Save:+3, Will Save:+1, and trapfinding, Evasion, Sneak Attack +2d6, Trap Sense +1 - Skill points would be the 1st level (8 + Int Mod) X 4 plus 2 levels or in effect X 6

Like-wise a caster class with an ECL +2 will still be and progress based on experience at their actual level, but when looking at the tables get all the benefits of being Effectively two levels higher then that actually are. They will get HD, BAB, Saves, Specials, Skill Points and Spells at two levels higher then they actually are. A first level caster will cast spells as if they were a 3rd level character.

Some Effective Character Levels are specific to types of classes. A race that naturally has greater physical power may get an ECL bonus in combat that does not apply to casting. Some beast classes start out with bonus HD, BAB, and saves, possibly specials specific to the Beast giving them an ECL, but that may not apply to anything class specific. Frequently a Beast races Level without a "Class" as a Beast and then get integrated into a profession. So they may have started out as a Level 2 Beast with 2d12 HD or greater and values for BAB and Saves already. They do not lose what they had a a Beast, they simply stack their class stats on top of the Beast stats they already have giving them an ECL of +2 that does not apply to their class specificaly. The ECL does let the DM know that this character has a reasonable chance of surviving a Level 3 encounter at Level 1

Actual example would be Githzerai, they start out with an ECL of +2. At Level 1 they would start out with 3HD w/Con bonuses. At Level 1 in their class they would use stats and benefits from level three including any class special abilities. Racial benefits would be based on actual level, experience progression would be based on actual level. While still starting as a "Level 1" in their class they would have the power and abilities of another character at Level 3.

ECL as Effective Caster Level Unlike Effective Character Level, Effective Caster Level does not boost HD, BAB, SAVES or Specials accumulated. Effective Caster Level Does mean you learn and cast spells as if you were at the Effective Caster Level.

Effective Caster Level is used with Rangers although they now have their own class specific spells their effective Caster level for the power of their spells is half of their Ranger Level. Their Effective Caster Level is also scalled giving them spells comparable to a Druid level 1 at Level 4 or overall a Rangers Effective Caster Level is -2 then 1/2 relative to their actual level. It is easier to just use the Ranger tables and with the ever ongoing development of the game this gives them their own path of spells now.

Items that increase Effective Caster Level normally only increase the caster level base for casting a spell. So a caster level 4 with say a +2 Effective Caster Level Hat can cast his spells withthe power and effectiveness as if her were level 6 and DC roll to save against him would scale accordingly.

Effective Caster Level for PRC Classes have to be read from the text of the PRC for clarity of what they specifically mean. As an example here is an extraction from one PRC: "...gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class to which he belonged before adding the prestige class level. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If he had more than one spellcasting class before becoming ... he must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day and spells known." So a Level 4 Wizard would be able to cast a 3rd level spell which he would not normally be able to gain until he was actually level 5 and he could cast all his spells with a level 5 effectiveness. This PRC explicitly states the Effective Caster Level provides known spell ability and spells per day to the class it is applied to. This PRC also makes it clear that you do not get specials or bonus feats before you actually get the correct level in the class that is being enhanced. So for example Druids still have to wait for their actual class for wildshape abilities and Wizards still have to wait for their bonus Feats and this would not improve a Cleric's ability to turn undead. Other PRCs may grant Effective Caster Level to applied level of casting only or to spells per day or known only, although there may not be much value in knowing a spell that requires more power than you have to cast.

There is no penalty for having an ECL or an ECL, Effective Character Level, or Effective Caster Level, other than the fact that your DM can confront you with more difficult situations expecting you to be able to effectively overcome greater obstacles. A level 1 character with an ECL of +2 does not have to get level 4 expo before they can get level 2, they only need the normal progression of XP.

Consider If an ECL of +2 means your level 1 character needs to get Lvl 4 expo before he/she can level to level to and you get all the burdens of starting as a level 3 character but not the benefits, why not just dump the ECL and simply start characters of the ECL classes at the adjusted level. If an ECL has all the expo requirements(punishment 1) and non of the ability benefits(punishment 2) and no advancing of Bonus Feats(punishment 3) then in effect the race is weaker not more powerful, there is no balancing. You would be better off just starting characters of that race at the adjusted level with the base XP, or playing them completely without the ECL because once they reach the XP level if XP is adjusted by ECL, they will have the actual level and the benefits. ECL is not intended to punish players who play outside the box, it is a way to effectively reflect the true power base of a more powerful race. To answer why most characters have an ECL = to their actual level. Effective Class Level is based on power adjustments deviating from the baseline. Most characters are single class and developed according to the baseline, so zero adjustments, ECL = actual character level. A negative ECL is possible, but normally would apply to NPCs or be a conditional adjustment due to circumstances. A Player character can get a negative ECL if something does permanent damage to their HP score or their class based ability scores or some other unique circumstances that permanently reduced their profession giving them an assigned negative ECL. Generally speaking negative ECL effects are temporary and can be fixed with things like remove curse, Heal, or normal means of recovering your party after a hard fought battle.

How do you Calculate ECL One method is based on total HD The number of HD = the ECL. From the DM perspective ECL is what can I throw at my players to give them a challenge and a good chance of surviving, so first I will address ECL from the DM point of view. A single Class character, with no ECL will have a HD number matching their level. A tripple class character may have may have 3HD with all classes at level 1 and a Character level of 3. or a Dual class character may have 4HD when acheiving Lvl 2 in both classes. Now the question that comes up is; Does a character that has level 1 in three different classes really have an ECL of 3, do they have a reasonable chance in a fight with a Level 3 character? Or, Does the two 2nd level classes, level 4 character really have an ECL of 4, capable of having a reasonable push with a level 4 single class character? In fact there is not really a balance, the single class characters are effectively more powerful making the ECL not really accurate. When put to the test, the multi-class characters are more powerful than other single class characters at their class level, but a more honest estimate of their actual effectiveness would be more closely calculated using their most powerful class level and then adding half of each of the subsequent class levels, rating the level 1 tripple class at an ECL of 2 and the dual 2nd level class character at an ECL of 3. There are alternative methods thta DMs use for running multiclass characters. One of the more common is to split XP between clsses and let each class have its own progressions. With this method, the character level is simply based on the highest class for calculating level based benefits. This makes a trade-off of gaining faster class progressions at a sacrifice of level based benefits based on total levels. It also makes the resulting "Character Level" lower then the ECL. Your character starting out witha tripple class gets the benefits of all the classes including HD or Partial HD benefits depending on the method of calculating so they are harder to kill. If you stack BAB and Saves, they will hit more and save more and they have an accumulation of more skills, but they are not as powerfull as the sum of their levels. Using the most powerful class as base and adding half of the subsequent classes HD will still approximate a more accurate ECL. So you have a beast race you are using for a Player character and it starts out with a bonus 2HD(12). This character is harder to kill, but unless it gets ECL benefits for whatever class is chosen, it is still no more powerful than any other Level 1 character. The higher level this character gets the less significant the 2HD become. Depending on the roll of the die this character may even get passed up in HP by another character that did not start with bonus HD. Try counting half the start up bonus HD in the ECL and scale the bonus HD out of the equation perhaps one every three levels. Then we have characters that have real ECL bonuses. A race with an ECL of +2 will start off with a character that has the HP of a level 3 and the Class Stats and magic if applicable of a level 3. Their ECL is Lvl 3. They can solo a normal level 3 and face the challenges any level 3 character would face. Adding multi-classes to this depending on whether the ECL applies to every class or just the initial class the ECL may need to be added in before dividing and totaling up the characters total ECL. Now from the players point of view. If the character starts out with extra HD, it wont die as fast. When it comes to what they can do in combate it is still directly based on Class level with a few possible exceptions such as skills that can be used in combat if the character is a multi-class and survival tricks that can be used across classes if they are multi-class. The bonus HD help survival at a low level, but mean less with each level gained. Multi-classing as a player does give you a better chance of survival against a tougher foe, and a better chance of getting things done outside of combat because of greater diversity. The character does nto get enough power boost to confidently fight an opponent more than five levels higher by the time they reach level 20, so at best they may feel a 25% ECL boost from their multi-classing. On the other hand starting with a character that has an actual ECL that applies fully to their class(everything except character level benefits) they are in effect playing a character at the ECL. A character with an ECL that only partially applies will of course feel less like they are up to the ECL with each factor that does not apply. Multi-classing with a full ECL will scale according to the ability to apply the ECL to additional classes.