I am new to D&D and I am reading about races and templates. I read on reddit someone suggested a dragonborn arctic half-minotaur half-ogre water orc. I was wondering whether that could be a legitimate choice for a level 1 new character and was not bypassing any rules, or if this was a joke. If it comes with level adjustment, what is the level adjustment? (We're respecting a maximum level of 6.)

If it is a legitimate choice, I want to play this race as a barbarian.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: when playing with LA or Racial Hit Dices, you have to distinguish between the number of class levels and the Effective Character Level (ECL). In short, ECL = RHD + LA + CL, see How do level adjustment and racial level works? for one explanation. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2015 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


Dragonborn is an LA +0 template from Races of the Dragon (an official book) with a bit of backstory and gp requirements, but it's fairly practical for a suitably rich level 1 character (100 gp, if memory serves).

Arctic, from Dragon Magazine (aka DrMag; semi-official) #306, is also an LA +0 template. Little bit more backstory. (Nothing to do with arctic orcs, the UA variant base race.)

Half-Minotaur is an LA +1 template from DrMag 313. Implies things about your fairly recent ancestry — you don't exactly have to have a parent that was a minotaur, but stretching it to a grandparent (and saying that your heritage was unusually strong for some reason) is about as far as you can usually go. Unfortunately, LA +1 means you can't have this at level 1, since you have to have at least one actual hit die/class level to be a character. Level 2 is fine though: you'd have one level adjustment and one "real" level to give you the necessary hit die to have any hit points, skill points, feats, and so forth. (The "real" level would be either a class level or a racial hit die. Usually a class level.)

Half-Ogre (also from DrMag 313; the Savage Species and Races of Destiny versions aren't any good for you, since they don't apply properly or have worse LA) would normally also be LA +1, ending up at +2 (and therefore a third-level character at minimum), but it has a somewhat odd LA entry that leaves it at +0 if you're already Large… which Half-Minotaur does for you anyway. More recent-ancestry implications.

Water orc is an Unearthed Arcana variant. LA +0. UA is official, but its variants are not in the base game by default; rather, the DM is supposed to pick and choose which variants they want to bring in. Variant races are generally fairly straightforward to allow in without changing anything else, although the elemental and environmental race variants are arguably a little tidier if they replace regular races/monsters rather than augmenting them; both choices are suggested in the book.

Upshot is that yes, it's legal (though rather dubious to many or most DMs), but only at level 2 or higher. At level 6, your group's starting level, you could very easily have all of these, assuming the DM was fine with that. In fact, using the variant LA buyoff rules from Unearthed Arcana, you could have bought off your LA and be a bit shy of level 6, but with almost enough XP to level again. Either way, you'd generally have 5 class levels and slightly less cash. A particularly generous DM might allow the backstory LA buyoff to have already paid for itself by larger XP awards from backstory adventuring, leaving you (compared to a normal ECL 6 character) 100 gp down, the product of some very unusual parents or perhaps a breeding program of some sort, and with a fat stack of stat bonuses and miscellaneous abilities.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So if I understand everything, I could be a minimum real level of 1 and maximum 5? (without LA buyoff) \$\endgroup\$
    – user25976
    Dec 18, 2015 at 1:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ouistiti: Yes; you could have as few as one class level (the lowest anyone can ever go without having a racial hit die instead) or as many as 5. (Even with buyoff you would ordinarily pay XP to remove your LA, and therefore be short of level 6.) \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 18, 2015 at 1:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn’t seem that dubious to me (as you say, “half-” doesn’t necessarily have to mean half), and your statement about UA elemental races being better as replacements matches neither the book nor my experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 18, 2015 at 2:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Using DrMag templates instead of official races with the same name is a large source of the dubiousness. Using DrMag and UA at all is much of the rest. Template-stacking to this substantial degree caps it off. Nobody has much of a reason to say this is illegal, just that they don't want it in their games. But there's a very broad spectrum of aesthetic acceptance of this kind of op, so what looks incredibly sketchy to one DM/group may be ubiquitous elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 18, 2015 at 2:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think just trying to find a background story for such a character is already fun! And +20 strength is just crazy, therefore fun. But I understand how this is eccentric. \$\endgroup\$
    – user25976
    Dec 18, 2015 at 12:03

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