Racial ECL

We have chosen to adopt a customized ECL system to add a counterweight to the extremely powerful races and templates that come with the PRC. While it is true that there is no way to perfectly balance these powerful races, it is also true that there is no way to perfectly balance NWN whatsoever. This is our best guess with the least amount of work - that effort is best spent enriching the server directly.

What is ECL?

ECL stands for Effective Class Level, also known as LA, or Level Adjustment. The D&D terminology can be confusing, so I'm going to stick with 'ECL'. ECL asks the question, "how many character levels would it take to represent the benefits of this race/template?" For a more specific example, "Would you play an Aasimar if you could only reach level 39 as your maximum instead of level 40?" You now have a balancing factor to weigh the racial bonuses against. 

This is not meant to discourage these races or templates from being played or applied for. This is only meant to solve the issue of a level 40 human being inherently weaker than a level 40 Vulcan Werelawyer no matter what they do. This is not intended to bring Human in perfect balance and harmony with Vulcan Werelawyer; it just knocks powerful races down a peg or two given that some of them have some seriously powerful piles of ability scores, free scaling spell resistance, AC, et cetra. In most cases, we rounded down and/or erred on the side of being gentle. The vast majority of races have an ECL of 0, 1, or 2. Only a handful of races have 3 or 4, most of them in the Monstrous category. Unsurprisingly, high approval races are on the heavy side, averaging 4-6 ECL.

So what exactly do I lose?

Below is a list to give an idea of the things that a character will lose once they reach their maximum level:

ECL 1, cap of level 39 - Skill points for one level, 1 Ability Score Increase, 1 Epic Save Bonus
ECL 2, cap of level 38 - Skill points for two levels, 1 Ability Score Increase, 1 Epic Save Bonus, 1 Epic Feat, 1 Epic Attack Bonus
ECL 3, cap of level 37 - Skill points for three levels, 1 Ability Score Increase, 2 Epic Save Bonuses, 1 Epic Feat, 1 Epic Attack Bonus
ECL 4, cap of level 36 - Skill points for four levels, 1 Ability Score Increases, 2 Epic Save Bonuses, 1 Epic Feat, 2 Epic Attack Bonuses
ECL 5, cap of level 35 - Skill points for five levels, 2 Ability Score Increases, 3 Epic Save Bonuses, 2 Epic Feats, 2 Epic Attack Bonuses
ECL 6, cap of level 34 - Skill points for six levels, 2 Ability Score Increases, 3 Epic Save Bonuses, 2 Epic Feats, 3 Epic Attack Bonuses

..So on and so forth. 

What about templates?

Templates are for pseudo-races that you become, such as undead (liches, vampires, etc) and lycanthropes (werewolves, etc). Since all previous bonuses are retained, template ECL is added on to any existing racial ECL. Lets say that Vulcans have an ECL of 2, and Werelawyers have an ECL of 2. A Vulcan is bitten by a rabid Werelawyer after he lost an important case - the Vulcan now becomes a Vulcan Werelawyer, gaining the benefits of both, and has accumulated a total ECL of 4. Template ECL cannot be directly compared to racial ECL, in that most templates have extreme and glaring weaknesses to partially offset their enormous strengths as it stands already. Having said that, some of them are EXTREMELY powerful; if ever we had a PC that eventually managed to get approved as a Dracolich, their ECL would be astronomical, being both a Dragon and a Lich.

So when does this kick in?

Generally in D&D, ECL is a constant struggle that hits you immediately; you count as a higher level character right away, so a character with an ECL of 2 would be level 1 until they've accumulated enough experience to hit level 4 or so. We're not doing that. For Arleah, ECL is a legendary progression penalty only, as in Arleah 4.0 we're now unlocking levels beyond level 30, as Arleah 3.0 was capped at 30. Once you pass 30, you will be penalized a small amount of experience so that you hit your cap roughly at the same speed as a character with any amount of ECL, or even no ECL. I'm going to try and make sure that things remain consistent with ECL wherever possible.

This sounds (too weak/too strong).

We're going to keep an eye on this as time goes on - there are a fair amount of subtle and painless adjustments we can do if things get out of hand either way. If this ends up taking too much away from prestigious races, we can consider adjustments such as dropping the token costs and refunding those who've paid out, adding new ECL race only feats/effects, etc. If this ends up not denting them at all and they remain a concern, we can squeeze on some common racial powers, such as converting racial dodge bonuses to natural AC, buffing some of their intentional weaknesses, etc. With the implementation of ECL, I'm not expecting us to need anything more than a bit of touch-up work at most to be satisfied with it.