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xmld20 - an XML Schema for d20 gaming systems - tables, continued

Assuming we work with these values (and who knows, we may disagree with them later), do we then have what it takes to figure out what a monster progression table should look like? If 20 levels equals from 363 to 375, then that's 18 to 18.5 points per level. If we can take all of the abilities of a monster and assign points to them in a comparable manner to our current values, then we can total them all up for a complete monster progression, divide by 18 or so, and figure out how many levels we need to distribute them across.


There's still something that nags me, however, about the monster classes in general. If you look in Appendix A under nearly any monster, you'll see that not only do they have a class advancement table, but they also have stats for the racial abilities as well. This makes sense, as some of the features of a monster should be innate, at birth, even before they fully advance as their "type". However, the racial benefits from these monsters are much better than the standard races.

Now, I'm sure there could be quite the debate on whether the basic races are balanced, too, but at least they have a semblance of it. Humans get an extra feat. Halflings and gnomes get their size benefit to attacks and AC, dwarves and half-orcs get night-sight, elves are immune to sleep effects ... and no one thinks half-elves are any good. The ability gains could be argued as balanced, too: dwarves get +2 constitution, but -2 charisma; the constitution gain is probably better, but the dwarf also has slower speed. The elf gets +2 dexterity, -2 constitution, a fair trade. Gnomes +2 constitution for -2 strength, again fair. Half-orcs get +2 strength and -2 to both intelligence and charisma, a bit over compensated perhaps. And halflings get +2 dexterity for -2 strength, again probably fair.

But then we look at the monster races. The annis hag, for instance, has +2 strength and darkvision. This is a half-orc without the -2 intelligence and -2 charisma penalties. Or how about the aranea, with +2 dexterity, +2 charisma, climb speed of 20 ft., darkvision... gains in abilities but no losses. A final example: the avoral gets +2 dexterity, +2 wisdom, +2 charisma, land speed of 40, darkvision, low-light vision, and racial bonuses for Spot checks and against poison. And I'm not through the As yet.

This bothers me. Granted, there's nothing saying that all of the races should be the same, should be even, should be fair. But I had hoped, perhaps foolishly, that the class levels of a monster would represent the eventual power of a monster, not its racial abilities.

Back to classes

Ignoring, then, that anyone would take an avoral over the basic classes, can we at least progress the avoral (or any monster) equivalently to one of the standard 11 classes?

Let's try punching the astral deva into the spreadsheet, and see what total score it gets. I choose the astral deva because it is a twenty-level monster progression, to match the 20 levels we looked at for the base classes.

I didn't have to go far into that to realize that our current scoring system doesn't work well with the astral deva (for one). With just the hitdice, BAB, saves and feats, the astral deva nearly has a score equal to the base classes. Comparing it to the monk, they have the same saves and the same hitdice; the astral deva gets one more feat, and has slightly better base attack (Fighter versus Cleric), and with the current scoring system, those two things are about the same as the value of all of the monk abilities gained over twenty levels -- and we haven't looked at ANY of the abilities the astral diva gains!

So, back to the drawing board with the scoring, it seems, if we expect the monster classes to be balanced with base classes. The problem with raising the ability scoring is that fighters don't get any, so their total gets left behind if we only change those. This means we're back to changing other things (and in the case of the fighter, we'll have to increase the value of feats to let it keep up). Keeping in mind, of course, that the astral deva (our problem class) also has feats, the increase we add to the feats has to be big enough to compensate.

Basically, the fighter gets 11 feats over 20 levels (and not much else). If that's supposed to be balanced with the 5 feats the astral deva gains over 20 levels with its +12 Str, +8 Dex, +8 Con, +8 Int, +8 Wis, +10 Cha (not counting any of the OTHER abilities gained!) So, 6 extra feats on the fighter need to be equal to the 54 ability score gains and all of the astral diva abilities gained. This means that a feat has to be equal to more than 9 ability points.

the significance of feats

The feat seems to be the central point for finding an equilibrium for the scores, partially because that's all the fighter has (and thus needs to balance against all other classes), but as well because many other classes gain a few feats as they go, and thus the remaining gains need to be equivalent to the fighter's feats, as mentioned above.
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©2002-2018 Wayne Pearson