An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can’t serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.

Now, lets say we take the standard house cat from SRD, it has a HD of 1/2d8. Does the +2HD give +2 of the cat's HD (for a total of 1 and a 1/2HD)? Or does it just give a standard +2 (for a total of 2 1/2 HD)?

In both examples, do you round down or up for the purpose of ECL?

In the former example, if you did round down, would that allow a potential PC to swap out the first racial hit die for a class hit die, effectively creating an ECL 1 character?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Fractions of HD were such a bad idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Nov 8, 2017 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

  1. Trading hit dice for class levels is a feature of the humanoid type and applies only to humanoids with 1 racial hit die (this is nearly all of them). Cats, whether animal or magical beast, are not humanoids, and cannot trade in their hit die for a class level.

  2. A cat's racial hit dice require special treatment to generate an effective character level, no level adjustment being given in the Monster Manual. In practice, I have found a level adjustment of plus or minus one-half to work well. A level adjustment of plus one-half means that cat PCs start without any class levels and with the statistics of average house cats, modified for rolled ability scores. A level adjustment of minus one-half means that cat PCs get to start with a class level, and will have higher maximum statistics (in terms of saves, skill ranks, and hit dice) than the game expects. It also largely removes the principal drawback of being a cat: no hit points. The former is appropriate to a game where players struggle to survive and are expected to try and make optimal choices at most times. The latter is appropriate to a game where the players are generally assured victory in most level-appropriate challenges they face, though it may take a bit to get there.

    Regardless of the level adjustment you decide upon, you'll see that the fractional HD disappears in the calculation, due to fractional LA. That's intentional and resolves the issues for experience calculation posed by fractional ECL. Even if you ignore my advice entirely and devise a flawed LA resulting in fractional ECL, awaken shouldn't matter in terms of experience calculation weirdness-- +2 HD is +2 ECL from whatever it is you started with.

  3. There are no published rules for rounding with respect to fractional hit dice and ECL, so you'd have to make up your own. All published playable creatures have integer total level adjustment after accounting for hit dice.

  4. A creature's hit dice are based on class and type. Awaken adds two hit dice to an animal, and, while the cat is now a magical beast, having the augmented subtype means it gets features as if its HD were in the animal type. Thus we consult the animal type for the effects of the level. The two levels of animal in question grant:

    • 2d8 hit points, less twice the cat's Con penalty
    • 1 BAB
    • +1 to all base saves
    • 4 skill points, plus twice the cat's Int bonus
    • 1 feat
    • higher maximum skill ranks
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I should have included this, but we are allowed to use most books in our group, including Savage Species. On page 13 it state "A creature with a single Hit Die, like all standard-race characters, gives up that Hit Die when it gains its first class level. This makes such a creature somewhat different from other monster characters. In general, it is most advantageous for a 1 Hit Die creature with a +0 level adjustment to abandon its monster Hit Die and take class levels." This seems to conflict with your first point. Thank you regardless on the other parts, will help a lot. \$\endgroup\$
    – PrediDERP
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ If and only if it has a class. This is true, and also applied to magical beasts. Thank god, btw. I had a Minotaur druid in my game. Level one got her a 3d8 hit die from race, and all following were 1d6. I believe it might go bothways. I'm not entirely certain tho, so i won't risk. I know that as a familiar your cat would get different hit dies, but there ARE physiological limits there. We don't really want to see a barbarian 20 cat with 200 hit points tanking a tarrasque. \$\endgroup\$
    – Elindor
    Nov 8, 2017 at 12:31

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