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Variant Rules
Soldarin's Roleplaying Pages

Variant rules for creating monster PCs.

Negative ability adjustments [variant rule]
Racial ability adjustments are based on the scores given in the Abilities entry in the MM stat blocks. The adjustment is determined by substracting 10 from even scores and 11 from odd ones. This can result in negative ability adjustments, which you use instead of the tables in the DMG (page 23).

Dragon Advancement [variant rule]
Dragon PCs are a special case in more ways than one. To allow aging to occur, without unbalancing the game too greatly, every other level a dragon pc gains must be a dragon HD. Once enough dragon HD (disregard class HD) have been gained to equal the number given in the MM for the next age category, all benefits of gaining that age category are applied to the PC.
These same rules can be applied to PCs that started as children of giants (MM page 100).

Starting powerful monster PCs at 1st level [variant rule]
Sometimes you want to play a member of a certain powerful race without having to start the game at a higher level to accomodate for the ECL. One way to do this is by starting the game with a half-grown member of your chosen race. Lack of sufficient food or being very young of age might be the reasons for this. Such a PC must take monster levels until he is full-grown.
Now how to you determine the abilities of such a PC. First you determine the ECL as usual and add 20% (round down, minimum +1) if the number of HD in the MM is lower than its ECL. This is the number of monster levels it is going to take to gain the full strength of the race. Then you determine the racial ability adjustments for specimen one size smaller than the one given in the MM, using the table on MM page 12. These ability adjustments are spread over the monster levels like this: 1st HD: +2 to all ability scores that gain a positive modifier (for the adjusted size), -2 to all that suffer a negative modifier 2nd and higher HD add +1 or 1 until the full adjustments for the adjusted size are applied. Racial skill bonuses are treated the same way (+2 at 1st level, add +1 per level beyond the 1st until the full bonus is applied). BAB, feats and base saves are based on the number of HD the PC has. When the size increase comes (reducing EHD) this wont take away feats, but it will delay acquisition of the next one. Bonus feats are spread over the HD like dealing cards, starting at the highest level, counting down, and skipping one level each time (so for an ECL 7 creature with 5 bonus feats that is one at 7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st and 6th).
Skill points are calculated for the full-grown creature and then spread evenly over the HD (like dealing cards, starting with the last HD so that any leftover points are added to the highest levels first).
The PC reaches its adult size at 2/3 the highest monster level, rounded down. Apply half the changes you find in the table on MM page 12. Apply the other half the next level.
Special powers that can be given a spell level are added to the level at which a wizard gains that spell level (2*spell level 1). Special powers that should go at a wizard level that exceeds the highest monster level are gained at that highest monster level instead.
Type and Subtype (fire, cold etc.) are gained at 1st level. Special powers that can easily be divided are gained at the lowest increment at 1st level and spread evenly over the following levels (for instance a trolls regeneration 5 becomes regeneration 1 up to level 3, reg. 2 up to level 4, reg.3 up to level 6, reg. 4 up to level 8, reg. 5 at level 8). Undivisible powers are gained at the same level as reaching adult size (like a trolls rend ability). Special movement modes are gained at 1st level.
Note that in this case ECL equals total number of HD.

An example seems in order.
An Ogre Magi is ECL +9. Adding 1 makes 10 monster levels.
Ability adjustments for adjusted size: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +6
Skill points: 6 + Int mod. +3, makes about 1 skill point per level, 2 points for the highest levels if the final Int mod. is greater than +1.
1st level: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +2, Regeneration 1, Charm Person, Sleep, fly 40 ft. (good),
SR 1
2nd level: Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +1, SR 2
3rd level: Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +1, Darkness, Invisibility, SR 4
4th level: Cha +1, SR 6
5th level: Cha +1, Regeneration 2, Gaseous Form, SR 8
6th level: Size Increase (1/2), Reach increase, SR 10
7th level: Size Increase (1/2), Polymorph Self, SR 12
8th level: SR 14
9th level: Cone of Cold, SR 16
10th level: SR 18

Counting monster and class levels separately for feats and ability increases [variant rule]
Another simple way to determine when a monster PC gains new feats and ability increases is to consider monster and class levels completely separately. Monster levels never give ability increases (except by size increases) and give new feats based on the table on MM page 13. Monster PCs gain feats every three class levels and ability increases every four class levels. Whether or not the 1st class level gives a feat is up to your DM.

Psionic Monsters taking Psion levels [variant rule]
I've always felt it strange that Mind Flayers make such lousy Psions when compared to Psions of equal CR or ECL. This is an attempt to change that.
Monsters that have psionic powers as part of their racial make-up are assumed to have infinite Power Points (PPs) to use these. Giving that to PCs sounds like a Bad Idea, so it has been suggested to limit such powers to 3 uses per day. This allows us to calculate how many PPs that represents (power cost times 3, add all powers together). My suggestion on how to make psionic monsters viable Psion PCs, is to add that number of PPs to the number granted by the Psion levels, and add the innate powers to the powers known (as additional powers known, not taking up precious slots), allowing Psion PPs to be used to power these additional powers and allowing Monster PPs to power the Psion's known powers.
As to the character's manifester level (for effects of powers, not PP or powers known!), I suggest you use either the highest manifester level associated with an innate power or the Psion's class level, whichever is higher. Note that this means you do not get to add the Psion levels to the innate manifester level, as is usual for Monster PCs.

For example, a Mind Flayer-Telepath 2, with a Cha 17, would have 163 (= 159 + 4) PPs, know Mind Blast, Astral Projection, Charm Monster, Detect Thoughts, Levitate, Planeshift and Suggestion as well as 2+d 0th and 1+d 1st level Psion powers and 5 psionic combat modes, and have a manifester level of 8th.
The benefit of having Psion levels are: the character can now apply PP from his Astral Projection (3/day) to his Mind Blast, he knows more combat modes and has a chance to round out his psionic powers by adding low level Psion powers. This makes a Mind Flayer - Psion a lot more dangerous than a Mind Flayer - Barbarian, as it should, IMO.

Using favored class system instead of ECL [variant rule]
Ben Harris came up with an alternative to using the ECL system. I won't go into the details here. See for yourself (the link to his site is provided below)

Favored classes for monsters (an alternative to ECL)