I've been running some published adventures in D&D 3.5 and two of the PCs in the party have contracted lycanthropy (they're now were-rats). They've had their first night of the full-moon. While they're not so happy about losing control of themselves and attacking their fellow party members, they absolutely love the bonuses they get.

I try to be a very permissive and generous DM, so I'm okay with them remaining were-rats and finding a way to control their lycanthropy.

That said, I'm also very precise about XP awards (different based on the level of the PC, etc.). So I'm going to respect the rules about the animal HD and the level adjustment.

So, what do the rules say about the PC's XP and when they will level up, etc., if they don't get cured? Also, what published options, feats, spells, variants, etc. might make this less onerous on the PCs?

Addendum: is the variant rule for reducing level adjustments at all a good or balanced option?


If you prefer to stick by the rules, then all of a sudden the afflicted PC get several Hit Dice and increase in level adjustment (as per template). Recalculate his ECL and - guess what - award xp based on his new ECL.

Furthermore, not only their xp gains are affected. He will obtain next level upon earning an xp total sufficient for being level ECL+1, which is quite a lot higher than xp total needed for earning the next level prior to affliction.

If I were one of them, I'd get cured.

For those not willing to be cured, level adjustment buyoff described in Unearthed Arcana will ease the pain of being a lycantrope a bit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ However, it should be noted that their new hit dice (not the level adjustment, though) provide additional skill points, could potentially provide an additional feat, and may provide them with their ability score bonus that they get every four levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Lord_Gareth Jan 9 '13 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure. Animal hit dice are sub-par compared to just about any other, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeor Mattan Jan 10 '13 at 7:35

The character now counts as his new level (original level + RHD of the template + LA of the template) for the purposes of determining how much XP he gets from encounters and how much XP he needs to reach the next level.

Unfortunately, this is an enormous pain and is, in almost all cases, a very significant loss of power compared to other people of the same ECL. In the short-term, however, it’s an increase in power, until his party members start to catch up. All around, this is pretty bad.

I strongly recommend either toning down the template and making it “free” (i.e. internally it has benefits and drawbacks that more or less cancel out and therefore you do not need RHD or LA), or else trying to treat it as “treasure” (i.e. it counts as a penalty against his Wealth By Level). Finally, you could give similar templates to other players to balance things out, perhaps.

The Reducing LA variant is a good idea, but ultimately it doesn’t go far enough. It’s good because it gets rid of LA, which is a really badly-designed rule, but it’s not really a great fix. I recommend trying as hard as possible to avoid having LA (and to a lesser extent, RHD) be a thing that PCs ever have.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What does "penalty against his wealth by level" mean? The WBL table is only used for creating new characters above level 1, it's not used in a way that could meaningfully penalize an active character for having more (or give them free stuff for not having enough) - to give him less treasure from future encounters (which seems to be what you're proposing, assuming you're not proposing to have a big chunk of his inventory suddenly evaporate), by the rules, the players would have to agree in-character to divide what treasure they find differently. \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Jan 9 '13 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Random832: You are incorrect. The WBL table is intended to give DMs a ballpark idea of how much wealth the PCs should have at a given level: if you give out too much, ease back on the loot for a little while; if they haven't gotten anything in a while, make sure to include a large horde soon, etc. Numerous non-items (such as the Places of Power in Dungeon Master's Guide II) effectively reduce a player's WBL for bonuses: the DM is supposed to eliminate some of the loot in the future to "charge" the player for the power. It's a useful mechanic and would be good here I think. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 9 '13 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ but the DM doesn't have the power* to apply this unequally to different party members - the player characters have to choose to withhold some of the loot from the person being penalized, unless you split the party. *Rule Zero does not empower the DM to dictate in-character decisions of player characters. \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Jan 9 '13 at 22:01

One of my characters (a 3.0 Psychic Warrior going for Pyrokineticist) has been caught by a were-rat in the past, so I've had to deal with the issue.

They have effectively had 2 free class levels (as afflicted lycanthropes). So, if they were level 5 when afflicted, they won't level up again until they have enough XP for level 8.

I can't find a citation for what happens when your ECL changes mid-game, but I was going to have to earn the xp for levels 5 and 6 before I could get another class level. Another option is to actually make them level 7 and award them XP as normal.

Honestly, it's just a pain. I made sure to get myself cured ASAP. The biggest problem is that the party is now out of step, two members are (supposed to be) 2 levels higher than everyone else.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I totally get the pain, which is why I assumed that they'd want to get cured. But they're a Rogue and a Monk, and they both like the ability boosts a lot. Oddly enough, did you realize that they get Fort +2, Ref +2, and Will +4 on top of the ability boosts to Dex, Con, and Wis? At least for now, the players really like what they got. \$\endgroup\$ – Dane Jan 9 '13 at 18:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ If they don't mind losing class levels for the boosts then that's fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Gill Jan 9 '13 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you didn't have to earn so many levels? Is it against the rules for the XP of the PCs to simply increase to match their new ECL? I mean, when your max HP increases from a new HD or Con bonus, you get the HP to go with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Dane Jan 9 '13 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's an option you have. I'd talk to the group and see if the non-lyncanthropes feel about the lycanthropes getting free levels. It is going to skew the game. I don't have a rules reference that states that one way or the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Gill Jan 9 '13 at 19:04

I have experience with playing as a PC that became a werewolf and decided to embrace it rather than try to become cured. I recommend looking into the Savage Species source book. In essence, it provides mechanics for taking on these types of racial templates in increments. This was helpful both for story-telling purposes of slowly gaining control over the affliction, but also for maintaining party power balance.

Side note: props for enabling your players to have fun with what might have otherwise been a detriment to the game. Good luck!

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would NOT suggest Savage Species; those rules are both not a good fit for 3.5 (since they're 3.0 in a horrible way) and very poorly designed. Which is not to say that SS has NO good content, but the content it has for THIS is extremely bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Lord_Gareth Jan 9 '13 at 20:59

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