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So, I've been thinking - can I make something like first level Celestial Sun Elf-wizard in a non-homerule non-Dragon Magazine game from the start? Are there any templates that can be applied at the character creation and if there are, which ones are? Especially the ones I don't need to beg my DM for?

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Templates pretty much always need DM approval. – Oblivious Sage Jun 28 '13 at 18:04
i'm not sure what you're asking here... – acolyte Jun 28 '13 at 18:18
@acolyte - I think they are saying that they are running a strict RAW game (No home rules, no DragMag stuff), and he wants to know about his PC concept. – JohnP Jun 28 '13 at 18:24
Basically, yeah, I've found some pretty funny templates and wonder if I can use them in a rulebook-only game from the start of the game – Baka-Mastermind Jun 28 '13 at 18:39
are we talking about "templates" like the "Were-" template, or the "Half-dragon" template? – acolyte Jun 28 '13 at 18:47
up vote 12 down vote accepted

If it has a Level Adjustment, it is intended to be playable

Creatures and templates that cannot be played (according to Wizards) have LA: —. Any actual numerical LA (LA: 0 to LA: some_number) can be played, by the Level Adjustment rules (basically, you could as a higher level than you actually are for determining your “effective character level” that is used for XP to level up and what other characters you are treated as having the same level as). Of course, this means that with LA: +2 (as with Celestial), you are at a minimum a 3rd-level character (LA: +2, plus whatever your first HD is), which may affect you if you are playing in a low-level game.

Unfortunately, most LAs are much higher than they really should be. Wizards allowed it, but apparently wanted to discourage player use of these things by overcharging for them.

And even if it is on some level “worth it,” it’s very difficult to play with an LA higher than 1 or 2. Even those can be quite problematic, for you and the game. And many DMs don’t like templates for a variety of reasons. So definitely ask your DM about it.

Celestial has LA: +2, and therefore you usually can use it. If you do, you are two levels behind at all times: not even remotely worth it, in my opinion. DR 5-10/magic isn’t worth much: most threats have magic weapons. Darkvision is easily obtained via racial quality, spell, or item. Items and spells can also handle energy resistances. Spell Resistance actually hurts you more than it helps you, in my opinion: you have to spend a Standard Action to lower it if someone wants to heal or buff you. And Smite Evil isn’t very useful to a Wizard, not that it’s particularly useful to anyone when it’s only once per day.

If you want to play a sun elf who is a native of the Celestial Realms, just ask your DM if that’s an acceptable backstory for a character. You don’t need to hurt yourself with this template just to have a backstory.

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For a sun elf native to the celestial realms I strongly suggest the Otherworldly feat. – Zachiel Jun 28 '14 at 12:16
@Zachiel Why? To get the Outsider type? You don't need it. If you want the Outsider type (and there are decent reasons to get it), sure, Otherworldly's a good feat, but you really don't need the Outsider type to be from the Celestial Realms; plenty of things there don't have it. – KRyan Jun 28 '14 at 15:43

You can without any issue (besides DM approval) if you are starting at Level 3. Since the Celestial has a +2 ECL. This means that you will start with one class level (e.g. Wizard, Bard) and 2 "effective levels" of Celestial.

You would get all of the stats that a Sun Elf gets in addition to the details listed in that page.

This isn't ideal as it means that you trade Level 2 and 3 abilities for the special qualities of a Celestial:

  • Darkvision out to 60 feet.
  • Damage reduction (see the table below).
  • Resistance to acid, cold, and electricity (see the table below).
  • Spell resistance equal to HD + 5 (maximum 25).

This might be worth it, but it could also cause complications and for you to be weaker than the other players in some areas (but potentially be stronger in others).

So talk with your DM about it and see what he says, but it is RAW and completely legal for you to do.

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I would say of course you can use it. This is DnD and anyone who has played long enough knows full well that The Rule Books are just guide lines. Sure it may weaken your character depending on the template. But if you have an awesome character design and you want to use it why don't you.

"You'll be weaker" <---- I say that this is a game and why was it made in the first place if not to be used. Anyway that is just my two cents. Have fun with it and just tell your DM you don't mind losing out because the tempelet will make it fun for you.

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The question specifically asks if it can be done in a non-homerule [...] game. Could you add something about the rules-as-written to your answer? – Dakeyras Jun 28 '14 at 9:13

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