Home > DnD > Making D&D Characters: Drow 2

Making D&D Characters: Drow 2

So last time I picked a race and class. Today I’m going to go a bit further before moving on to the numbers part by adding a template on top of my Drow to help with both the character’s flavour and the ability to physically hide. What’s a template? It’s a layer that you can apply to anything you’re creating to give it the abilities of something else. For example, you like angels, but want something that says heavenly without needing to be an angel – you use a Celestial Template to apply a set of celestial-related skills upon your creation. Templates can be applied to monsters and PCs. (They can also be inherited through gameplay, but I’m not covering that here.)

Introducing the Dark Template from the Tome of Magic.

The dark template is designed to be simple and flavorful. You can easily apply it on the fly to add shadow-based creatures to the campaign. It’s a simple, streamlined version of the shadow creature template (see Manual of the Planes page 190 and Lords of Madness page 167).

The dark creature template should either add +0 or +1 to a creature’s CR. Some creatures won’t gain much benefit from the template. For example, a white dragon already has darkvision, superior low-light vision, and immunity to cold. It gains a small increase to it’s already good speed and the ability to hide in plain sight. This template won’t appreciably increase its CR. On the other hand, a creature such as a lion gains greater benefit and likely merits a +1 increase to its CR. Its level adjustment is low, making it a reasonable cost for PCs. You might allow a player character with a strong connection to the Plane of Shadow to acquire this template in lieu of a class level.

Because what we really need is one of these angry bastards hidden right in front of you, pondering how best to prepare you for dinner.

So my Drow is becoming shadow-based, with the ability to hide in the dark. Nice.

“Dark” is an acquired or inherited template that can be added to any creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature). Dark creatures tend to be much duller in colour, with more gray and black skin tones and hair highlights, than their Material Plane versions. In general, they also weigh less, as if part of their very substance was mere shadow stuff. A dark creature has all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

  • Size and Type: Size and Type are unchanged. Dark creatures encountered away from the Plane of Shadow have the extraplanar subtype.
  • Speed: As base creature, +10 feet to all modes of movement
  • Special Qualities: A Dark creature retains all of the special qualities of the base creature and gains the following; Darkvision 60ft, Hide in Plain Sight (Ex): Use the Hide skill even when being observed (except in natural daylight, the area of a Daylight spell or a similar effect), Resistance to Cold 10, Superior low-light vision.
  • Skills: Same as base creature, plus Hide +8 and Move Silently +6
  • Alignment: Usually one step away from base creature, rarely good.
  • Level Adjustment: +1

So there is a nice set of abilities! (Except for Darkvision, got that already.) Lets a take a look at the benefits my Drow Rogue will gain from this.

Firstly, a flat bonus to Hide and Move Silently, both necessary skills for stealthy characters. Where a skill like Open Lock is a Difficulty based check, where to succeed one must get a result equal to or higher than the Difficulty Class (DC) of the lock they are trying to open, Hide and Move Silently are opposed checks. Hide is opposed by Spot, Move Silently by Listen. When using Hide, the outcome of the D20 + Hide skill modifiers determines the DC of the opposing Spot check anyone may try to make to see the Hidden character – so the higher our Hide/Move Silently modifier is, the more likely we are to not be detected.

Secondly, a base speed increase. When Moving Silently, you can move at half your base speed at no penalty, going faster will give bonuses to anyone trying to hear you move. Increasing the base speed increases our Moving Silently speed to 20 feet (half 40 feet), a respectable number that puts my Drow on par with medium armor wearing characters.

Lastly, Hide in Plain Sight. As long as my Drow is within 10ft of a shadow, can hide in plain sight. That is, can hide in the open without any sort of cover or concealment. At night, this means I can be Hidden all the time (which can make for an excellent person to keep watch on the camp).

What this does mean is now my Drow has a Level Adjustment of 3. What does this mean? It means, that my Effective Character Level is 3 higher than my combined Class Levels.

>I don’t get it.

Well, lets put it in perspective. Say I have a Human Rogue as well. They are both Level 1 Rogues. The Human has an ECL of 1, while the Drow has an ECL of 4. What this means is that they are not equal. Not at all.

What ECL does is affect experience. To balance out the fact that the Drow is so much better than the Human at level 1, it is reflected in how long it takes for them to gain class levels. The amount of experience required for the Human to become a Rogue with 5 Class Levels is the same amount of experience for the Drow to get to 2 Class Levels. So when both of them have an ECL of 5, the Human is a Rogue 5, while the Drow is a Rogue 2 (with LA+3 from being a Drow and a Dark creature).

Basically, for all the benefits I’ve written about earlier about being a Drow and being Dark, are a result of sacrificing 3 Class Levels I could have earned/had.

If this were a campaign where everyone starts at level 1, my Drow would be rather ahead in strength and usefulness compared to LA+0 characters. But fortunately, this character is not jumping into a Level 1 game, but a game where the party has ECL 9. So my Drow should be a level 6 Rogue to match.

Alright. Next time: numbers and dice rolling.

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