I'm a recent DM and one of my players wants to play with the Doppelganger race (+4 LA).

We're planning to start a new level 10 campaign, and I would like to know how can I use the +4 Level Adjustment in this case.

I've read some articles about how LA works but I couldn't understand how can I apply it on this case.

Does it means that at a Level 10 campaign, the Doppelganger will have 6 class levels and in order to achieve class level 7 he will need the same EXP that normal race would need to achieve lvl 11?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for changing the title and making it more appropriate! \$\endgroup\$
    – Lucas Liz
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ For a simple concise answer: Your ECL(Effective Character Level) = Level Adjustment + Racial Hit Dice + Class Levels, in that order. \$\endgroup\$
    – martixy
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


Almost, but not quite. You actually have the level adjustment (LA) part exactly right, but you missed this in the doppelganger monster entry:

Hit Dice 4d8+4

That 4d8 represents 4 racial hit dice (RHD)—that is, basically, 4 “levels” of the monstrous humanoid type.

So a doppelganger with effective character level (ECL) 10th would have just two class levels—it would have 4 RHD, a +4 LA, and only then does it get its class levels.

And yes, this character would need to reach the XP necessary for 11th level in order to level up again.

Since racial hit dice are hit dice, they count for things like BAB, saving throws, skill points, and maximum skill rank, so that’s better than LA by a lot. They are still really weak, however. Which brings me to my broader point:

The ECL rules are crippling. This character will be extremely weak, because they will have just two class levels, and worse, will have the hp, BAB, saving throws, and skills of a 6th-level character—a 6th-level character who took four levels in a really weak class. Despite that, this character is supposed to keep up with 10th-level characters—and 10th-level challenges. Suffice to say that it would be nearly impossible to do so.

Please don’t let your player do this. That player will almost-certainly regret it, and you definitely will—challenging the party appropriately will become nigh impossible.

As a sensible, balanced alternative to the doppelganger, encourage your player to instead use the changeling race from Eberron Campaign Setting. This is LA +0, and no racial hit dice, so none of these issues come up. The changeling’s minor change shape is not quite as good as the doppelganger’s change shape—it can’t change size, so it has to stay Medium—but it’s very close and captures the essential identity of the doppelganger very well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ First of all, I would like to thank you for your patience on explaining how the mechanic works and giving examples for that. I finally could understand how it is done. Cheers to you mate! The LA definitely seems to be a big punishment for these special races and his character might extremely week, specially because I'm focusing in a very dark and challenging campaign, so I'll talk to him and offer to choose the Changeling race, since it seems a way better fit. Thank you so much! This community is doing wonders to help me become a better DM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lucas Liz
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 8:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you don't want to have to play a specific race, you can always go with a Psion. One of the ACFs for the psion (the Egoist Change Shape ACF) allows one access to the same minor change shape as the Changeling. While I'm an extreme fan of psionics, that doesn't work for everyone, so your mileage may vary. ^^ \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 1:12

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