Races of the Wild presents gnolls as an option for PC race. I find its description a bit confusing.
First, there are gnoll racial traits on page 99 pointing out that
- A gnoll begins with two levels of humanoid, which provide 2d8 Hit Dice; a base attack bonus of +1; and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +3, Ref +0, and Will +0.
- Level adjustment +1.
On page 102 there is gnoll monster class section, which has its own racial traits subsection. Among other differences, it does not mention neither LA +1 nor 2 humanoid levels. As I understand, gnoll character created using these rules has to take all 3 levels in gnoll monster class before taking levels in any other class.
I am not sure if I understand these character creation options correctly. Let's say I want to create gnoll barbarian. Do I have these 2 options:
- Start as gnoll barbarian 1. My ECL is 4 from 1 level of barbarian, 2 levels of humanoid and LA +1. Therefore this option is only plausible when DM allows characters on 4th level (or higher).
- Start as gnoll (monster class) gnoll 1. My ECL is 1, but before taking any level in barbarian class, I need to get all 3 levels in gnoll monster class. This option is plausible when allowed character starting level is 1.
Also, according to description, 2 humanoid levels give me 2d8 HD, 1 feat and 5 × (2 + Int modiﬁer) skill points. Progression in gnoll monster class gives similar features. Does it mean that at 1st level in barbarian class I do not receive 1 feat and (4 + Int modifier) × 4 skill points? Does it mean I will not gain new feat until barbarian level 3, when other PCs will gain their (at least) 3rd feat and I will have less total skill points than, for example, dwarf barbarian at 6th level, with same Int score?
Centaurs have similar rules. They start with 4 levels of monstrous humanoid and LA +2, and their monster class has 6 levels.
So my question is basically to clarify gnoll character creation process. Is above reasoning correct? Is gnoll monster class only to provide option for players to create character with ECL 1 instead of ECL 4, or does it have any adventages/drawbacks over 2 humanoid levels + LA+1 option?