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Let's say we have party of humans and a minotaur(cr 4). Everybody is level 10, so according to Pathfinder's monsters as races rules minotaur should have 8th (let's say barbarian) level.And the question is: should he also have his 6 racial hit dice? Or maybe 4 hit dice (like his CR) or none?

A PC minotaur monstrous humanoid 6/barbarian 8 would have tons of attack bonus, damage, skill points and hit points more than mere human 10-th lvl barbarian. Even with 4 racial hit dice he would be a fair bit stronger.

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By Rules as Written: yes, he should have his 6 racial HD o top of his 8 barbarian levels.

The main assumptions behind the design choice described in the Monsters as PCs are:

  1. Racial HD for playable races are worse than a typical PC class (they could be better than NPC classes such as the Warrior). On the long run this difference widens.
  2. Racial HD of a monstrous race take the same niche of both the character's race and class. That is: they are a single game element that must take the burden normally spread over 2 game elements.

These are the reasons because CR is considered a better measure for a monster PC effectiveness during adventuring than his mere HD, and why you should usually compensate it by another 50% (up to one half his CR) while the group levels up.

These are the RAW, and you can find out the @AceCalhoon's excellent answer to an analogous question.


But, comparing the resulting character with a 10th level, equally equipped half-orc Barbarian we see that something has gone wrong.

CR is not a good measure of a monster effectiveness as a PC: it is a good measure of how many resources he depletes from a canonical party during a typical encounter. Most monsters aren't designed to stay on the scene for more than one fight: that's the PC's role.
In fact, many monster have really nasty racial features that could tilt the scale a lot. Special forms of movement or defense (like natural armor, being incorporeal or invisible, etc.) should be taken into account when using a weird critter as a PC race.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 and 3.5 introduced the concepts of LA (level adjustment) and ECL (effective character level).
Level Adjustment is an amount of "fake" levels that must be added to the race's HD in order to confront it with a base race with levels in PC classes.
Effective Character Level is simply the race's base HD plus its LA.

You can find a list of them on Savage Species (a 3.5 manual on the topic of playable monsters). The list can be found online on the relevant page of the D&D Wiki.

As you can see, a minotaur's ECL is 8th (that is: LA +2). So, the 2nd-level Barbarian in the example is supposed to be in par with the iconic 10th-level half-orc Barbarian. The quick and dirty rules provided with Pathfinder's on this matter are totally out of balance.

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Yes, racial HD are worse - but they are in fact real lvl's whih give you bonus feats and ability scores. Maybe i've chosen bad lvl for this example ( because it's the peak of minotaur's racial bonuses) but this guy has one bonus ( not counting his racial +6 as I recall sum of pluses and minuses to attributes) and the same ammount of feats. Also he can laugh off almost every HD based spell. I'm new to pathfinder, but from what I've read, class features are less powerfull than let's say in 3.5 so in the Pathfinder guy get 6 racial hit dice for 2 lvls in good - but not imbalanced classes. –  Eran May 16 '12 at 21:43
    
I agree with you. My answer tries to guess and explain the reasoning behind the designers' thought. However, I think that CR is not a good measure for a Monster PC effectiveness (that's the reason D&D3.5 introduced ECL). In fact, I think that the ECL of a minotaur should be higher that his HD. I'm going to make my thought clear in the answer. :D –  Erik Burigo May 16 '12 at 21:59
    
Note that the ECL8 3.5 Minotaur gives you much more than the Pathfinder minotaur. Notably a 3.5 minotaur's stats will be much higher (well into the twenties for strength), and it also gains scent. –  AceCalhoon May 17 '12 at 0:03
    
Of course, but I'm pretty convinced that the LA of -4 that Pathfinder assigns to the 8th-level barbarian minotaur is "broken". I think it should at least be positive. –  Erik Burigo May 17 '12 at 0:19
    
If CR=LA (without giving any extra lvls or other weird things as PC advance) and max HD=CR/2 or base monster HD (whihever is lower) then for like up to 10 CR monsters balance would be reasonable - monsters would always have lower lvl (HD+classes) than other characters. Creatures based on melee prowess would be good enough and spell-like/supernatural abilities based creatures with up to 10 CR often have more CR than HD so in the end they would lost 1-2 or even none HD. –  Eran May 17 '12 at 12:17

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