Monsters with class levels and their ability score increases


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

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So, before I make my point, I want to explain what my long-time assumption was when it came to adding class levels to creatures with racial HD. I always thought that whenever a creature hits a number of HD that is divisible by 4 (e.g.: 4, 8, 12, etc.) they get 1 point to spend in an ability score, just like a PC does. But look at the rules for monster advancement:

Monster Advancement wrote:
Once you have determined the number of additional Hit Dice possessed by the creature, use this number to modify its other statistics. Start with ability scores. For every 4 additional Hit Dice gained by the monster, add 1 to one of its ability scores. In addition, make any modifications to its ability scores based on an increase in size, as noted on Table: Size Changes.

Notice the bold part. That isn't saying you get a point for every 4 HD in your TOTAL HD, but that you get a new point for every 4 brand new HDs you're adding.

I did some investigating throughout several stat blocks found in various APs to see if this is truly the case and sure enough, it fits. For example, a monster that normally has 3 HD has 3 class levels added. For every monster I found that matched this criteria, it DIDN'T have a new ability point added for having hit 4 HD TOTAL. On the other hand, monsters with 3 HD and 5 or 6 class levels added, DID have an ability point added, but it seems only because they had AT LEAST 4 more HD added. Under my old train of thought, I would have thought they'd receive 2 points to spend: 1 for having hit 4 HD total, and another for having hit 8 HD total, but according to their stats, they only get 1 for having AT LEAST 4 new HD added. Total HD apparently has NOTHING to do with added ability score points, only total HD minus original base HD.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

The race's base stats are considered part of it's racial HD.

So you only get the +1 every 4 for class levels or additional HD just as a 0 HD race would work.

Grand Lodge

Right, but this doesn't seem to apply to pretty much every stat block where this is applicable in various APs I've gone through and broken them down. They go, verbatim, with what's written in the bestiary about monster advancement that I quoted above. They ignore current HD, and simply go by how many HD they're adding. If they're adding 1 HD to a 3 HD base creature, they don't add the point, but if they're adding 4 HD, then they do add it.


Yup. I noticed that too.
0 HD races are ahead of the game when it comes to gaining ability score increases... Of course they are on equal footing with 4 HD races, 8 HD races and so on and so on.
In 3.5 it was handled differently. There you added all HD racial aswell as class HD and gave out 1 ability score increase per 4 HD TOTAL.
I suggest doing this aswell for your own encounters in pathfinder... But I think it might be too much work for the APs.


The way its written its assuming yiur adding to a crearure you don't need ro factor stat changes it already has.

Grand Lodge

Mojorat wrote:
The way its written its assuming yiur adding to a crearure you don't need ro factor stat changes it already has.

Yes that would be ideal, but I broke it down to see if it was done (what I thought was) right, and I discovered something else.


It is the same as PC's. They just wrote it badly, but I will FAQ it so it can be errata'd.

Dark Archive

I'm a little confused what the problem is here. So far as I can tell, everyone is agreed that only additional HD count towards adding to its abilities score, so what's the FAQ for?


Shin Bilirubin wrote:
I'm a little confused what the problem is here. So far as I can tell, everyone is agreed that only additional HD count towards adding to its abilities score, so what's the FAQ for?

By the rules you get an additional +1 for every 4 HD you have.

By the quote the OP made you get a +1 for every additional 4 HD.

Here are examples

Let say a monster has 13 HD. Upon reaching 16 HD he get a +1 to an ability score.

According to what the OP posted he needs 4 additional HD so he would not get that +1 until he go to 17 HD.

Dark Archive

Which makes sense, considering that 1 per 4 HD is for player characters, and the 1 per 4 additional HD is for advancing monsters (generally NPCs), each is in the section of the relevant rule book it needs to be in.

Grand Lodge

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Whelp, case closed. James Jacobs just definitively confirmed my suspicions.

Take that.

Edit: For anyone feeling particularly lazy I'll just tell you that Pathfinder abandoned the practice of bestowing an ability point at every point that the total HD became divisible by 4, and instead only grants ability points when the number you're adding is divisible by 4.


Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.


Are wrote:

Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.

I agree. The old way was much easier to deal with. I am just going to use the old method anyway. It is easier for me to do it that way.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I have to admit I hadn't noticed they changed that, so I'm glad this question came up and that JJ confirmed that it does indeed work the way it's written. I agree with Are and wraithstrike that the old way was easier to deal with. But good to know that this is how it works in Paizo's products.


wraithstrike wrote:
Are wrote:

Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.

I agree. The old way was much easier to deal with. I am just going to use the old method anyway. It is easier for me to do it that way.

Yup. As I wrote earlier. To make it easier for myself, I'm using 3.5 when creating encounters myself. When I'm using APs I'm not going to change the statblocks, because that seems like a lot of work for not that much gain.


Lifat wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Are wrote:

Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.

I agree. The old way was much easier to deal with. I am just going to use the old method anyway. It is easier for me to do it that way.
Yup. As I wrote earlier. To make it easier for myself, I'm using 3.5 when creating encounters myself. When I'm using APs I'm not going to change the statblocks, because that seems like a lot of work for not that much gain.

If it is a boss fight or at least CR=APL+2 then it can matter, but for mooks you can figure out CMB and CMD on the fly.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Strife2002 wrote:
Right, but this doesn't seem to apply to pretty much every stat block where this is applicable in various APs ... If they're adding 1 HD to a 3 HD base creature, they don't add the point, but if they're adding 4 HD, then they do add it.

Sorry. That is what I said above. I'm not sure how I went wrong explaining it. But I'm agreeing with their application and the bestiary wording.

Liberty's Edge

Are wrote:

Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.

Those creatures that start with 4 or more HD already have their stats adjusted, whereas a 0-HD creature (ie PCs) doesn't.


HangarFlying wrote:
Are wrote:

Which is silly, in my opinion, as that means that if you're advancing an already-advanced monster, you must also refer back to the original version of the monster in order to see what the "base HD" was. When adding +1 at each HD divisible by 4, you don't need to do that.

It's also far easier to remember that you need to do something with abilities at 4,8,12,16,20 HD, since that's the same points you'd do that for PCs. I really can't understand the reason for the "per 4 additional HD" method.

Those creatures that start with 4 or more HD already have their stats adjusted, whereas a 0-HD creature (ie PCs) doesn't.

Sure, which was always the case. If you think I'm advocating giving a regular monster a +1 to an ability score because it already has 4 HD, then that's not at all what I'm saying; I'm only talking about advancing monsters.

Consider the scenario where an adventure has a monster that has already been advanced (say, to 6 HD), and for whatever reason you want to advance it further (presumably because your PCs are a higher level than the adventure assumes). With the 3.5 system, you would give that monster a +1 to an ability score if you advanced it to 8 or higher (and again at 12), but not if you advanced it to 7.

With the PF system, you don't know whether you should give that monster an ability score increase at 7, 8, 9, or 10, since that differs based on the base monsters number of HD. So, you must first look at the base monster's number of HD before you can properly apply the ability score increase. If it started at HD 1 or HD 5, then you should not give it an increase until HD 9. If it started at HD 2, then you should not give it an increase until HD 10. If it started at HD 3, then you should give it an increase already at HD 7, and if it started at HD 4, then you should give it an increase at HD 8.

In other words, the PF system complicates the process.


I always thought this part seemed extreme:

Step 2: Add Class Levels
Once you have determined the creature's role, it's time to add class levels. The first step of this process is to modify the creature's ability scores. Creatures with class levels receive +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, and –2 adjustments to their ability scores, assigned in a manner that enhances their class abilities. Creatures with NPC class levels do not receive adjustments to their ability scores.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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The +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2 is based on the arrays they use. Most monsters use 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 + racial adjustments while NPCs whith class levels use 15 (11+4), 14 (10+4), 13 (11+2), 12 (10+2), 10 (10+0) and 8 (10-2), so it's almost the same array after the adjustments.

Why NPCs with NPC class levels don't get adjustments when they take character class levels is probably for simplicity's sake.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The correct method is to add +1 to an ability score after every 4 additional HD added. This is a change to Pathifnder from 3.5, which did indeed add that +1 every HD divisible by 4. And it's a change that several of us at Paizo were in fact slow to notice, so you do see it done both ways in our adventures.

In the end, though, the difference overall is pretty negligible, since regardless of how one arrives at a monster's final CR we try to match that total up appropriately to the numbers on table 1-1, which are themselves not writ in stone.


Serpent wrote:

The +4, +4, +2, +2, +0, -2 is based on the arrays they use. Most monsters use 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 + racial adjustments while NPCs whith class levels use 15 (11+4), 14 (10+4), 13 (11+2), 12 (10+2), 10 (10+0) and 8 (10-2), so it's almost the same array after the adjustments.

Why NPCs with NPC class levels don't get adjustments when they take character class levels is probably for simplicity's sake.

Hmm.. I'll be damned. That's good to know.

Thanks.

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