+0 LA Drow

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Here’s my first bit of Open Game Content.

I’ve seen a number of complaints on this here intarweb-thing about Drow. Namely, the complaint is that Drow are supposedly impressive spellcasters, yet the game mechanics don’t support that. With a +2 level adjustment, a Drow is going to be far behind a high elf or a human spellcaster of the same effective character level. In addition to the obvious lag in caster level, there is a less obvious hit point lag – which is more notable when you consider the Drow have a Constitution penalty. An ECL 10 Human Wizard has few enough hit points. An ECL 10 Drow Wizard is going to have significantly fewer.

There are a few ways of dealing with this. One is to bite the bullet. Sure. An ECL 10 Drow wizard isn’t as good as an ECL 10 Human wizard. This might miss the point, though. All other things being equal, a Drow wizard with 10 character levels is going to be better than a human wizard with 10 character levels. The point is that Drow tend to have more character levels under their belt than other races.

This answer is fine if you are only using Drow as NPCs. If you plan on including them as PCs, however, the weird balance issues begin to show up.

I came up with an alternate solution. It is based on a few assumptions. First, it assumes that Drow are racial supremacists. They’ve been depicted that way before. If you don’t like that depiction of them, you might as well stop reading as you won’t like this alternative. Second, it assumes that Drow are not intrinsically any more powerful than other races.

What do we have, then? We have a +0 LA version of Drow. It doesn’t provide them with many of those abilities that we think of when we tend to think of Drow. Instead, we add on to that the ability Drow have to take levels in a revised Drow Paragon Class. Because Drow are racial supremacists, many Drow take levels in the Paragon Class – even those who would normally take levels in NPC classes.

The material enclosed in the boxes below is released via the Open Game License.


racial traits

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution.
  • Medium size.
  • A drow’s base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Immunity to sleep spells and effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells or effects.
  • Darkvision (120′)
  • Weapon Proficiency: Drow are automatically proficient with the rapier and short sword.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Drow treat hand crossbows as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons.
  • +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. A drow who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Elven, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Gnome, Goblin.
  • Light Sensitivity: Drow are dazzled in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
  • Favored Class: Wizard (male) or cleric (female).

Drow Paragon (revised)

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Spells per day
1 +0 + 0 + 2 + 0 Spell-like abilities
Spell resistance
2 + 1 + 0 + 3 + 0 Master race +1 level cleric or wizard
3 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 1 Improved Spell Resistance
Ability Boost
+1 level cleric or wizard

HD: d6

Class Skilles: The drow paragon’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency:
Drow paragons are proficient with all simple weapons, longswords, and hand crossbows, and with light armor.

Spells Per Day
At 2nd and 3rd level, a female drow paragon gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in cleric. A male drow paragon instead gains new spells per day as if he had gained a level of wizard. The paragon does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (bonus metamagic feats, and so on). This essentially means that the character adds the level of drow paragon to her level in cleric or wizard, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly. If the drow paragon is female and has no levels in cleric, or is male and has no levels in wizard, this class feature has no effect.
Spell-Like Abilities
Drow Paragons can use Dancing lights, Faerie Fire, and Darkness as spell-like abilities once per day each. Their caster level is equal to their Drow Paragon level plus one-half of their other class levels.

Spell Resistance
At first level, a Drow Paragon gains spell resistance equal to 5+character level. At third level, this increases to 11+character level.
Master race
At 2nd-level a drow paragon adds a +1 bonus to the save DC of any Enchantment spell cast targeting humanoids other than Drow.
Ability Boost
At 3rd level, a drow paragon may raise either Intelligence or Charisma by two points.

So we can now compare a Drow Wizard 7/Drow Paragon 3 to a Human Wizard 10. The Human will have a one level advantage in caster level, an extra bonus feat and a more powerful familiar; but he will be at least a one point disadvantage in terms of spell saving throw DCs (due to the drow paragon’s Intelligence boost and Master Race ability). The Int boost will also narrow the gap in spells/day between the two. Moreover, the Drow will have three spell like abilities (at CL 6), better martial capabilities, and spell resistance.

Yes, the Human is still a better Wizard. I think, however, that this closes the gap considerably.



2 Responses

  1. You’re off to a great start!

    If the drow paragon is female and has no levels in cleric, or is male and has no levels in wizard, this class feature has no effect.

    Why do you consider this necessary?

  2. It is standard boilerplate from the racial paragon classes.

    Ultimately, it removes confusion as to whether you gain spellcasting if you didn’t have it before.

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