A few years back I played D&D 3.5e with some friends and now we are starting a group again. I want to create a Drow Wizard, Specialised in Conjuration. When reading about the Drow configuration I noticed it has an LA of +2. After searching and reading a lot (in posts like post1, post2 and post3). I understand you start at 0xp and the xp is calculated by your ECL (1CL + 2LA = 3ECL) so 6000xp to be at CL 2 (or ECL 4).

I understand this rule exist because of balance to other races/characters. But I cannot imagine how to survive 6000xp with just 5hp (d4 + 1con) and a fairly low amount of spells per day. And as if that isn't hard enough, a Drow has Light Blindness (Which I solved by using the Daylight Adaptation feat).

So basically I will be 2 CL behind other party members and have to trade in a feat at the start.

A possible solution I could think of is trading some other racial bonuses to negate the LA.

Is this all correct and is it viable to start a new character with an LA modifier?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Asking for general opinions is likely to broad for this site. Could you narrow down the question so that it can be answered completely by one person with relevant experience? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ladifas
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ladifas Thank you for telling me, I removed the opinion and narrowed down the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


You are correct that LA is generally a huge handicap, especially so for casters.

Unearthed Arcana has a way to buy off LA with experience (p. 18); for +2 LA you would pay it off at levels 6 and 9. The exact rules are available in the SRD.

Another solution is to use Negative LA to be able to start playing at level 1. In short, you start as Drow (LA +2) Wizard (CL +1) with -2 LA for an effective ECL of 1 and then buy-off the 2 negative levels.

And yet another solution is to use the Savage Progression. The basic idea is that you start as half-a-Drow at level 1, become a full Drow at level 2, and takes your first class level at level 3.

The latter two solutions allow you to start as a level 1 character, however Negative LA lets you being a Wizard from the get go. Both have an equivalent cost, XP-wise.

The first solution is more suited when play starts at higher-level, since by buying-off LA you can catch-up to the others.

If you only care about being a Drow for the flavor, as I guess from your willingness to trade off a racial ability, you might also be interested in:

  • The Half-Drow race, presented in Races of Faerûn, p. 62.
  • The Lesser Drow, presented here, which is basically a specially flavored Elf (with Darkvision and Light Blindness)

Both of these races are LA 0, and therefore avoid the complications of LA.

As for Light Blindness, it is not necessarily that bad, depending on where your campaign takes place (dungeons are dark, forests too, ...).

You may be able to avoid Bright Light by simply staying out of the sun. If this is not sufficient:


  • Shaders (1 sp), Races of Eberron, p. 103, cancel the effects of Light Sensitivity (a lower form of Light Blindness)
  • Sundark Goggles (10 gp), Races of the Dragon, p. 123, cancel the effects of Light Sensitivity (a lower form of Light Blindness)
  • Blindfold of True Darkness (9,000 gp), Arms and Equipment Guide, p. 130, make the wearer blind (thus immune to any effect based on sight) and grants Blindsight 60 ft.
  • Lenses of Darkness (12,000 gp), Pathfinder, cancel the effects of Light Sensitivity and Light Blindness.

Note: an obliging DM might grant you that items that cancel out Light Sensitivity would reduce your Light Blindness to Light Sensitivity, making you only Dazzled in Bright Light, which is perfectly fine for a Wizard.


  • The Penumbra cantrip (0-th level spell), cancels Light Sensitivity and Light Blindness for 10 min/level.

See also What methods are there to remove, prevent, or otherwise safeguard from penalties from Light Blindness? .

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot! Very clear. What I am not yet clear of is the starting XP. Again I found a conflicting post with a reference to the SRD saying to start with the xp equal to the minimum needed to be a character of its ECL. rpg.stackexchange.com/a/82626/31813 \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 8:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ As mentioned in the question you linked, the starting XP is based on the ECL of the character. You can find the required amount of XP in the Player's Handbook toward the beginning (page 22 in English according to this answer). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 9:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, Sunlenses from d&d Sandstorm (pg 99 & 101) protect against the dazzled condition (A DM may allow them to also affect Light Blindness). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 12:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Goggles of Day from MIC could be argued to negate Light Blindness, though they don't explicitly say that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuro_Neko
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 21:20

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