Say I was trying to make a 3rd level Harpy bard. Do I remove its seven hit dice, feats, BAB and skills etc and start from scratch? Or do I add the class levels on top of all that? How does level adjustment come into it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll ask here since it's basically the same question. If I made a lvl 1 fighter Raksasha, I get that it has 7 hit dice + 1 fighter to start, but do you add ECL on top of all that or is it just part of the racial hit dice? I.e is the character considered lvl 8 or level 15 for xp to level? \$\endgroup\$ – ZanathKariashi Jul 1 '12 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Different question, and we have no way to post answers to your question like this! Post it as a new question, please. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 1 '12 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that much of a different question, I think it's answered by reading the answer and the link. "Level 15" is the short form. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jul 3 '12 at 5:19

The 3.5e books go into some depth on how this is done - here's the relevant section from the online SRD.

To determine the effective character level (ECL) of a monster character, add its level adjustment to its racial Hit Dice and character class levels. The monster is considered to have experience points equal to the minimum needed to be a character of its ECL.

No, you don't remove its existing stats, you add on top of it. Level adjustment is added to its hit dice and class levels to determine effective character level. In the harpy's case, it's +3. So a third level harpy bard would have 10 HD (7d8 from the monster levels and 3d6 from the bard levels) and be ECL 13.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I always consider the stats as wrtten as the baseline; with levels as add ons in every case. \$\endgroup\$ – LordVreeg Aug 23 '11 at 14:52

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