I have a campaign with a region of undead where the element of fire is so prevalent that it has become part of some of the monsters. That is, I have some fire-based property sets that I would like to apply to the zombies in this environment as you would apply a template (like Fiendish). The only problem is, I have no clue what kind of challenge rating modifier these property sets ought to have, let alone when applying combinations of these property sets. Can someone help me figure this out please?

These are the property sets (plus my own guess for challenge rating adjustment) specific to each fire-infused body part:

  • Eyes: creature has permanent See Invisibility and +5 Spot. CR +1?
  • Arms: creature has Slam attack with fire damage similar to the fire elemental's Burn ability (MM p98; S +1d4 fire dmg, M +1d6 fire dmg, etc). CR +1?
  • Chest: any creature in a 5" radius of this creature takes nonlethal heat damage, any creature in a 10" radius of this creature when it dies takes lethal fire damage. the damage effect is similar to that of the fire elemental's Burn ability, except the damage is only taken when the Burn save fails. CR +2?
  • Mouth: creature can spit fire similar to a permanent Fire Breath spell (CA p106). CR +1?
  • Legs: creature's speed is doubled. CR +1?

applying any one of the property sets gives the creature the Fire subtype, elemental traits, immunity to fire, vulnerability to cold.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean, instead, Challenge Rating? Level Adjustment is typically used for PCs (although the Monster Manual crazily suggests the DM use ECL to determine a monster's wealth). Is there a way for PCs to gain these templates? Or do you, in fact, need a way to determine these creatures' LA so that, for instance, these zombies can be taken as followers by a PC with, like, the feat Undead Leadership or something? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2016 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ good point, I meant CR, not LA. these templates are for the zombies in this region only and not meant to be applied to any other creature / PC. However, I'm also not sure yet how to treat these zombie/fire hybrids for the evil cleric in our party..... \$\endgroup\$
    – mtijn
    Oct 25, 2016 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm unclear on what, exactly, is gained (or lost) by the zombie when it gains elemental traits. Many elemental traits are already present as undead traits. Is there something you're going for here? Possibly you mean the zombie's type changes to elemental (augmented undead)? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2016 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dire isn’t a good example, as it’s not actually a template. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 25, 2016 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had no special meaning with the elemental traits, that was just part of a copy paste, I guess I could have left it out. Augmented undead makes sense though. Dire I mentioned because I find it as confusing to assess as what I was making here, could have picked a real template instead I guess.. \$\endgroup\$
    – mtijn
    Oct 25, 2016 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


It really depends on the monster you're applying the upgrade to.

Remember that two monsters of CR x are equivalent to a single monster of CR x+2. So a CR+1 upgrade should add at least fifty percent damage and/or hp to the monster.

For example, a bugbear zombie deals 1d8+3 damage normally. If you add 1d6 fire, you increase the damage output from 7.5 to 11 -- that's a 47 percent increase in damage and no increase in hit points. That's a little bit weak for CR+1 but it's probably closer to that than CR+0.

Adding improved vision or move speed is almost certainly CR+0.

In general, CR is a very loose guide anyway. What you need to do is get a feel for what your group can handle. Start small and scale up until you feel like the combat difficulty is about right.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the clear answer, the last paragraph on how to introduce this to the party is particularly useful! \$\endgroup\$
    – mtijn
    Oct 26, 2016 at 7:07

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