Expanded Apprentice-Level Rules (3.5e Variant Rule)

From D&D Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Expanded Apprentice-Level Rules[edit]

Those who still have a 3.0 DMG will probably be aware of the "0th level apprentice" rules, which allowed a 1st level character to begin play as multiclassed: 0th level in two classes rather than 1st level in one. The character would then advance from 0/0 to 1/1 at 2nd level, and then progress normally from there (i.e. levelling up in only one class at a time thereafter). For each of the original 11 base classes, there was a description of what abilities are available at 0th level.

Those rules were dropped from the 3.5 DMG (apparently to save space rather than for balance reasons). Also, they were never extended to cover the plethora of new base classes introduced in later books. But they remained popular and useful. I would like to introduce a new, more generic set of rules that can cater for any base class (including racial paragon classes) without needing specific 0th-level definitions for each class. I've also dispensed with the need to select one class as the "dominant" class to determine initial hitpoints and skills. I would also like to extend the concept to cover two other uses:

1. Compensation for racial hitdice or Level Adjustment. For instance, a Planetouched character (LA +1) could begin at 0th level in one class, rather than 1st.

2. An alternative to Constitution-loss for 1st level characters raised from death. A character can recover from level-loss, but will never be the same again after Con-loss: so why not remove 1000 xp (leaving the character with a negative xp that can be paid off by further adventuring) and reduce his/her level from 1 to 0?

For these reasons, I would also like to extend the system into negative levels, representing very rudimentary training below 0th level. This would apply to characters with a Level Adjustment of +2 or more, or to 2 classes and LA +1 or more (I recommend not allowing 3 or more starting classes: 2 provides sufficient versatility without raising too many balance issues). A sadistic DM might also use these rules to start the party with fewer abilities than 1st level characters normally have. It could also be used for children, who are beginning to learn the skills that will one day allow them to become 1st level adventurers. For multiclassed characters: level 0/0 is considered equivalent in power to level 1, level -1/-1 is considered equivalent to level 0, level -2/-2 is considered equivalent to level -1, level -3/-3 is considered equivalent to level -2.

Note: when used to "balance" a 1st level character, these rules aren't very effective beyond LA/hitdice of +2 or thereabouts. A character with 3 or more hitdice or Level Adjustment is likely to dominate a 1st level adventure with racial abilities alone, even if class abilities are reduced to uselessness. However, the rest of the party will eventually be able to catch up while this character is still struggling up through negative levels.

So, here we go:


LEVEL 0[edit]

Hitdice[edit]

Characters without racial hitdice gain their usual 1st level hitpoints (maximum hitpoints for the first hitdie, plus Constitution modifier as usual).

Single-classed characters with racial hitdice gain half of their usual class hitpoints at 0th level, and only get Constitution modifiers on their existing racial hitdice (thus, a 0th level Gnoll Barbarian would gain half of a d12 on top of his racial hitdice).

For multiclassed characters, use the average of the two classes: thus, a Human Barbarian/Rogue at 0/0 would have 9 hitpoints plus Con modifier (average of 12 and 6).

For multiclassed characters at level 0/0 with racial hitdice, hitdice for the two classes are averaged and then treated as a single level 1 hitdie: thus, the character also gets his/her Constitution modifier. For instance, a Gnoll Barbarian/Rogue at 0/0 would gain a d12 plus a d6, divided by 2 (i.e. averaged) added to his racial hitdice, plus his Constitution modifier.

Note: Multiclassed characters with no racial hitdice gain the benefit of the "maximum hitpoints at 1st level" rule for both of their hitdice. They keep this benefit when going up to 1st level (when their class hitpoints are no longer averaged, but stack normally). This does provide a slight incentive to use this system: probably a few more hitpoints than they might otherwise have. There may be a downside for the character if the two classes have differing numbers of skillpoints: the "quadrupling rule" for 1st level skillpoints won't be applied exclusively to the high-skilled class (the usual first choice), but will be split across both classes (see "Skills" below).

When determining effects based on hitdice (e.g. vulnerability to Sleep spells), level 0 (or lower) counts as 1st level for creatures without racial hitdice, but doesn't count at all for creatures with racial hitdice: multiclassed level 0/0 always counts as 1 level (this also affects eligibility for feats and ability score increments).

Multiclassed characters at level 0/0 will advance in both classes (to 1/1) when they level up. If they lose a level, this will affect both classes, taking them to -1/-1.

Saving Throws and Base Attack Bonus[edit]

0th level characters have a +1 on "good" saves (i.e. those that normally start at +2 for 1st level). These stack: thus, a Fighter/Cleric at 0/0 will have saves of +2 Fortitude (+1 from each class), +0 Reflex, +1 Will (from Cleric). All classes have a BAB of 0 at 0th level (or lower).

Skills[edit]

For single-classed 0th level characters without racial hitdice, determine skills as for a 1st level character (including quadrupling skillpoints for 1st level).

For characters with racial hitdice, allocate half the usual number of skillpoints for the class (and no Intelligence modifier) to the appropriate class skills: maximum rank for class skills is equal to racial hitdice plus 3.

For multiclassed characters at 0/0, determine the number of skillpoints that a 1st level character would have for each class (including Intelligence modifier, and remembering to quadruple skillpoints if there are no racial hitdice). Then allocate half of the usual number of skillpoints (fractions rounded down) to spend on the appropriate class skills for each class: maximum rank is 4, or racial hitdice plus 3.

When the character levels up, he/she will gain any remaining skillpoints that were not allocated at 0th level. This means that single-classed characters without racial hitdice won't get any (they already have all the points that a 1st level character would have), characters with racial hitdice will gain the other 50%, and multiclassed characters will gain the other 50% for each class (without the 1st level quadrupling rule, which they've already used).

Weapons and Armour[edit]

0th level characters have the same weapon and armour proficiencies as 1st level characters.

Spellcasting[edit]

When compared to 1st level, 0th level spellcasters can cast one less spell per day at each spellcasting level they can cast (usually 1st and 0th). If this reduces their allocation to zero, they can still apply bonuses from ability scores, and they still gain a clerical domain spell slot or a wizard specialist spell slot (or any similar bonus slot). However, if their allocation drops below zero, they lose the ability to cast any spells of that level. 0th level spells will not drop below 1 per day in any event. "Caster level" remains at 1st level. Psionic characters have one power point less (minimum of 1 point overall, after applicable modifiers).

Other Class Features[edit]

Non-magical class features (i.e. abilities that aren't "spell-like", "supernatural", or "psionic") function normally for 0th level characters: thus, Fighters still get their bonus combat feat, Barbarians can still rage, Rogues still get Sneak Attack, and so on. Magical class features can only be activated once per day, and those with durations are limited to one minute (10 rounds). Thus, a Cleric can only turn undead once per day, a Paladin can only detect evil once per day for up to 10 rounds, and so on. Class level (where relevant) is treated as 1st level. Class bonus feats which are "magical" in nature (feats which bestow or modify spellcasting or psionic abilities) are lost (this includes the Scribe Scroll feat that Wizards gain at 1st level).


LEVEL -1[edit]

Hitdice[edit]

Characters without racial hitdice gain their usual 1st level hitpoints (maximum hitpoints for the first hitdie, plus Constitution modifier as usual).

Characters with racial hitdice gain nothing: they merely keep their racial hitdice.

For multiclassed characters (without racial hitdice), use the average of the two classes: thus, a Human Barbarian/Rogue at -1/-1 would have 9 hitpoints plus Con modifier (average of 12 and 6).

When determining effects based on hitdice (e.g. vulnerability to Sleep spells), at level -1 or below, creatures without racial hitdice count as 1st level, but creatures with racial hitdice use only those hitdice.

Multiclassed characters at level -1/-1 will advance in both classes (to 0/0) when they level up. If they lose a level, this will affect both classes, taking them to -2/-2.

Saving Throws[edit]

At level -1, characters have a +1 on "good" saves (i.e. those that normally start at +2 for 1st level), but these do not stack with bonuses from other classes or racial hitdice: thus, a Fighter/Cleric at -1/-1 will have saves of +1 Fortitude, +0 Reflex, +1 Will.

Skills[edit]

At level -1, determine skills as for level 0, except that all skills purchased with class skillpoints (not those from racial hitdice) are reduced by 1 rank (to a minimum of 0). Thus, it takes 2 skillpoints to raise a skill to a rank of 1, and 4 skillpoints to raise a skill to 3 ranks (which will be the new maximum for a character without racial hitdice). These "lost" ranks will be regained when the character advances to level 0 and the penalty disappears.

Weapons and Armour[edit]

At level -1, characters of most classes can only remain proficient in two of the weapons normally available to the class, and neither of these can be an exotic weapon. Classes which are normally proficient with all martial weapons remain proficient with all simple weapons (in addition to their chosen two martial weapons). Racial weapon proficiencies are unaffected.

For most classes, armour proficiency is reduced by one step (heavy to medium, medium to light, light to none). Classes which normally have a BAB of +1 at 1st level are unaffected. Tower shield proficiency is lost, but shield proficiency is otherwise unaffected.

Spellcasting[edit]

At level -1, spellcasters who can normally cast 0th level spells can only cast one 0th level spell per day (and no higher-level spells), and they only know one specific spell from their normal spell list (and they cannot learn, or pray for, any other spell). Psionic characters have no power points, but can still manifest one specific 0th level power once per day.

Other Class Features[edit]

Non-magical class features (i.e. abilities that aren't "spell-like", "supernatural", or "psionic") function normally at level -1: thus, Fighters still get their bonus combat feat, Barbarians can still rage, Rogues still get Sneak Attack, and so on. Class level (where relevant) is treated as 1st level. Magical class features cannot be used at all.


LEVEL -2[edit]

Hitdice[edit]

Characters without racial hitdice gain their usual 1st level hitpoints (maximum hitpoints for the first hitdie, plus Constitution modifier as usual).

Characters with racial hitdice gain nothing: they merely keep their racial hitdice.

For multiclassed characters (without racial hitdice), use the average of the two classes: thus, a Human Barbarian/Rogue at -2/-2 would have 9 hitpoints plus Con modifier (average of 12 and 6).

When determining effects based on hitdice (e.g. vulnerability to Sleep spells), at level -1 or below, creatures without racial hitdice count as 1st level, but creatures with racial hitdice use only those hitdice.

Multiclassed characters at level -2/-2 will advance in both classes (to -1/-1) when they level up. If they lose a level, this will affect both classes, taking them to -3/-3.

Saving Throws[edit]

At level -2 , no class bestows saving throw bonuses. Saving throws are at zero, plus ability score modifiers and (possibly) racial hitdice and racial modifiers.

Skills[edit]

At level -2, determine skills as for level 0, except that all skills purchased with class skillpoints (not those from racial hitdice) are reduced by 2 ranks (negative ranks are treated as rank 0). Thus, it takes 3 skillpoints to raise a skill to a rank of 1, and 4 skillpoints to raise a skill to 2 ranks (which will be the new maximum for a character without racial hitdice). For each affected skill, one of these "lost" ranks may be regained when the character advances to level -1 and the penalty decreases.

Weapons and Armour[edit]

At level -2, characters of most classes can only remain proficient with one of the weapons normally available to the class, and this cannot be an exotic weapon. Classes which are normally proficient with all martial weapons remain proficient with all simple weapons (in addition to their chosen martial weapon). Racial weapon proficiencies are unaffected.

For most classes, armour proficiency is reduced by two steps (heavy to light, medium or light to none), and shield proficiency is lost. Classes which normally have a BAB of +1 at 1st level reduce theirs by one step only, and shield proficiency is unaffected (other than the loss of tower-shield proficiency).

Spellcasting[edit]

At level -2, all spellcasting or psionic ability is lost. However, such characters can still use appropriate spell-completion, spell-trigger or psionic devices as if they were spellcasters.

Other Class Features[edit]

At level -2, even non-magical class features not specified above are lost: thus, Fighters no longer get their bonus combat feat, Barbarians cannot rage, Rogues get no Sneak Attack capability, and so on.


LEVEL -3[edit]

Hitdice[edit]

Characters without racial hitdice gain their usual 1st level hitpoints (maximum hitpoints for the first hitdie, plus Constitution modifier as usual).

Characters with racial hitdice gain nothing: they merely keep their racial hitdice.

For multiclassed characters (without racial hitdice), use the average of the two classes: thus, a Human Barbarian/Rogue at -3/-3 would have 9 hitpoints plus Con modifier (average of 12 and 6).

When determining effects based on hitdice (e.g. vulnerability to Sleep spells), at level -1 or below, creatures without racial hitdice count as 1st level, but creatures with racial hitdice use only those hitdice.

Multiclassed characters at level -3/-3 will advance in both classes (to -2/-2) when they level up.

Any character at level -3 who loses a level will die: there is no level -4. If the level loss is due to being raised from the dead, the character will lose 2 points of Constitution instead (treat this as ability drain).

Saving Throws[edit]

At levels below -2, no class bestows saving throw bonuses. Saving throws are at zero, plus ability score modifiers and (possibly) racial hitdice and racial modifiers.

Skills[edit]

At level -3, determine skills as for level 0, except that all skills purchased with class skillpoints (not those from racial hitdice) are reduced by 3 ranks (negative ranks are treated as rank 0). Thus, it takes 4 skillpoints to raise a skill to a rank of 1 (which will be the new maximum for a character without racial hitdice). For each affected skill, one of these "lost" ranks may be regained when the character advances to level -2 and the penalty decreases.

Weapons and Armour[edit]

At level -3, characters of most classes lose all proficiency with weapons (though bare fists still count as a proficient weapon). Classes which are normally proficient with all martial weapons remain proficient with two simple weapons. Racial weapon proficiencies are unaffected.

For most classes, all armour and shield proficiency is lost. Classes which normally have a BAB of +1 may retain proficiency in light armour if the class is normally proficient in heavy armour.

Spellcasting[edit]

At level -3, all spellcasting or psionic ability is lost, and the character even loses the abilty to use class-specific magic items.

Other Class Features[edit]

At level -3, all other class features are lost, and the character can no longer use any class-restricted magic items: the character's class training is so rudimentary that it doesn't "register" on the item.


Examples[edit]

Example 1: Darkmoon[edit]

Darkmoon the female Drow signs up with a 1st level party. Drow have a +2 Level Adjustment, hence a 1st level Drow would be a 3rd level character. She could therefore begin at level -1 in one class (2 levels below 1st): but she wants to be a multiclassed Fighter/Cleric. Hence, she begins at level -2 in both classes: her Cleric domains are Knowledge and War, and her deity's weapon is the longsword (which also happens to be a Drow racial weapon).

She has 12 Constitution. As a Fighter/Cleric, she therefore begins with 10 hitpoints (average of 10 and 8, plus Con modifier). Her saving throws have a base of zero (she gains no saves from her classes), plus ability and racial modifiers. She has a BAB of zero, but gets her strength bonus (in melee) and dexterity bonus (for ranged attacks).

She has 14 Intelligence, and would therefore gain 16 skillpoints as either a Fighter or a Cleric (2+2, quadrupled). She gets half for each class (i.e. 8 skillpoints for each). However, at level -2, her skills are reduced by 2 ranks. She puts all her Fighter skillpoints into Ride and Climb (4 points on each) gaining 2 ranks in each of those skills. She also puts all her Cleric skillpoints into Knowledge(religion) and Spellcraft (4 points on each), gaining 2 ranks in each of those skills.

As a Fighter, she is proficient with all simple weapons plus one martial weapon (plus her Drow racial proficiencies). She chooses the longbow as her martial weapon. Her Cleric proficiency adds nothing (one simple weapon: she already knows them all). Her Fighter class also gives her proficiency with medium armour and with (non-tower) shields.

She cannot turn undead and has no spellcasting ability. However, she can use clerical items (the party intends to buy some scrolls, and later a wand of Cure Light Wounds when they can afford it). She does not gain her Fighter bonus feat yet, or her clerical domain abilities. She does still qualify as a 1st level character for her initial feat: she chooses Improved Initiative. She is now ready to join the party.

During her adventures, she earns 350 xp but is killed in battle against the main villain after seriously wounding him. The party defeat him and discover a scroll of Raise Dead and pay an NPC cleric to use it. Darkmoon is raised with -650 xp (350-1000) and a new level of -3/-3.

This increases her skill penalty to -3, causing her to drop to one rank each in Climb, Ride, Knowledge(religion) and Spellcraft. She also loses proficiency with all weapons except her Drow racial weapons and two simple weapons: she chooses the spear and sling. She loses proficiency with medium armour and with shields. She can no longer use clerical items: plans to buy the wand are put on hold.

She can still fight, however: and she still has her Drow abilities (including Spell Resistance of 12: she still counts as 1st level for this). She works her way back up to being a 1st level character, and on up to 2nd at 1000 xp.

She is now a level -1/-1 Fighter/Cleric. Her saving throws improve: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will. Her skills improve to 3 ranks in each (she only has a -1 penalty now). She is proficient with all simple weapons, her Drow weapons, and two martial weapons (she chooses longbow and greataxe). She is proficient with heavy armour and non-tower shields. She can cast one 0th level spell per day: she chooses Cure Minor Wounds. The party has purchased the wand (which she can now use) and she has a collection of clerical scrolls. She has her Fighter bonus feat (Combat Reflexes), and her clerical domain powers (including Weapon Focus with her longsword) as these are not magical powers.

After earning another 2000 xp (3000 total), she reaches 3rd level. She is now a level 0/0 Fighter/Cleric. Her Fortitude save improves to +2 (her classes now stack). She has 4 ranks on her skills (no penalty). She has full Fighter weapon, armour and shield proficiencies. She can prepare and cast 0th and 1st level clerical spells (one less of each than a 1st level cleric could). She can turn undead once per day.

After her next level rise, she will reach level 1/1. She will then be a "normal" 2nd level character with a +2 Level Adjustment: two hitdice (20 hitpoints), save bonuses from both classes, +1 BAB from Fighter, the rest of her Fighter and Cleric skillpoints (note that these are NOT quadrupled, as she isn't 1st level anymore: so she'll get 2 points for each class), a maximum of 5 ranks on each skill, and all the abilities of a 1st level Fighter and a 1st level Cleric.

Example 2: Grak[edit]

Darkmoon's party reaches 2nd level, while Darkmoon herself has paid off her negative experience from her unfortunate demise and is still trying to catch up (she's at -2/-2, where she started). She knows that her hitpoints won't improve when she finally levels up, or even on the level after that. The party decides to recruit a new 2nd level character to help out in combat, and Grak joins the party.

Grak is a gnoll, with 2 racial hitdice and a Level Adjustment of +1. That makes him 3rd level even without any class levels: one level of anything will make him a 4th level character. The referee decides to slow him down by starting him at level -1 (as 3-1=2), but Grak's player complicates matters by wanting to be a multiclassed Barbarian/Rogue: he's given 1000 xp (as a new 2nd level character) and a starting level of -2/-2.

Grak has maximum hitpoints for his first d8 racial hitdie and 5 points on his second. With his 16 Constitution, that gives him 19 hitpoints. He does not yet gain any hitpoints for his class levels. He has one feat from his racial hitdice: he chooses Power Attack. He has a BAB of +1 and a Fort save of +6 (3 from his racial hitdice plus a +3 Constitution bonus).

Intelligence is useful for a Rogue, and Grak's player assigns a 14, which is reduced to 12 by the gnoll's racial penalty. This gives 15 skillpoints from Grak's racial hitdice: but he only has two class skills, Listen and Spot, and can't spend more than 5 points on each. He spends 5 points on Spot and 4 on Listen, then another 6 on cross-class skills: Speak Language (2 languages, Goblin and Orcish) and one rank in Survival. None of these skills are affected by his skill-rank penalty, which doesn't apply to skills from racial hitdice. Then he applies his Barbarian skillpoints: 4 (for the class) plus his Intelligence bonus gives 5, and he gets half of those (rounded down), which is 2. He places both of those on Survival: his -2 penalty on class skills (for being at level -2) swallows them up, but he'll get them back when he rises in level. Then he applies his Rogue skills: 8 (for the class) plus his Intelligence bonus gives 9, which is halved to 4. He places these on Move Silently, which is then reduced to 2 ranks by his -2 penalty (again, he'll get those back later).

As a Barbarian at level -2, he is proficient with all simple weapons plus one martial weapon. As a Rogue, he can be proficient with one Rogue weapon. He chooses the shortbow as his Rogue weapon and the falchion as his Barbarian martial weapon. He is also proficient with light armour and with non-tower shields.

He does not yet have any other class features: no fast movement, no rage, no sneak attack. But he can fight, and he's observant and moderately quiet. He's ready for adventure.

Eventually the party reaches 3rd level, and Grak graduates from -2/-2 to -1/-1. This gives him +1 on his Reflex save (from Rogue). His skill-rank penalty drops to -1, giving him a rank in Move Silently and Survival (the latter stacks with the cross-class rank that he purchased with his initial racial skillpoints). He gains proficiency with another Rogue weapon (he chooses the rapier) and another Barbarian martial weapon (he chooses the longsword). He also gains proficiency with medium armour. Most significant, however, is the fact that he gains the other class features of the Barbarian and the Rogue (as these are all non-magical): Fast Movement, Rage, Sneak Attack.

When the party reaches 4th level, Grak graduates from -1/-1 to 0/0. Now he finally gets to roll some class hitdice: he gets 7 on his d12 and 4 on his d6. These are added and averaged: 7+4=11, and 11/2 is 5 (rounding down). He also adds his +3 Constitution bonus to this: so he now has 27 hitpoints. His skill-rank penalty disappears, so he now gains the full benefit of his 3 ranks of Survival and 4 ranks of Move Silently. His +1 Fortitude save (from Barbarian) now stacks with that from his racial hitdice. He also has full Barbarian and Rogue weapon and armour proficiencies, which makes him proficient with all martial weapons. Furthermore, 0/0 counts as a level, which stacks with his 2 racial hitdice, making him 3rd level - so he now qualifies for another feat (he chooses Cleave).

When the party reaches 5th level, Grak becomes a "normal" 1st level Barbarian and 1st level Rogue (with 2 racial hitdice and a +1 Level Adjustment). This gives him the rest of his 11 class hitpoints (another 6, as he's already had 5) plus his +3 Constitution bonus again, for a total of 36 hitpoints. With 4 hitdice, he also gets an ability increment now, and adds 1 to his strength. His Fortitude and Reflex saves increase by another 1 point each, and so does his BAB. He gets the rest of his Barbarian skillpoints (3 points from the original 5) and his Rogue skillpoints (5 points from the original 9) to spend on the appropriate class skills (maximum of 7 ranks on each: hitdice plus 3).



Back to Main PageDungeons and DragonsRules.

Personal tools
d20M
miscellaneous
admin area
Terms and Conditions for Non-Human Visitors