# Zombie Lord CR

### Rules Questions

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I'm trying to calculate zombie lord CR (more specifically how it works) at the moment, and I can't seem to make it work, so hopefully someone can help me out.

First, the example human zombie lord monk 3 in Bestiary 4. Based on the formula that the zombie lord template gives, CR is 1 higher than the CR of a normal zombie with the same hd, plus CR increase for class levels. I think I've narrowed it down to three possible ways that this could work, but the ones that most-accurately follow the rules as written on how the CR works produce a different CR than is listed, and the one that does work results in ridiculously overpowered high-level zombies.

1) So, the zombie lord presented has 5 hd. That's a CR 2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 3. CR 3 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 5, but that's not the listed CR, so that can't be right.

2) Maybe it only counts racial hd then? In that case the zombie lord presented has 2 racial hd. That's a CR 1/2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 2. CR 2 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 4, but again that's not the listed CR.

3) In spite of the rules saying that class levels modify the CR, the method that works is to ignore class levels entirely and just base it off total hit dice. In this case a 5 hd normal zombie is CR 2, +1 equals CR 3. This presents problems at high levels though, and results in overpowered monsters. A zombie lord wizard 20 by this formula would only be CR 9, for example.

...Anyone else have any more insight into this than I do? I don't like that the third method is the one of these that's working properly, and I'm hoping that I'm calculating something wrong here.

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Quote:
2) Maybe it only counts racial hd then? In that case the zombie lord presented has 2 racial hd. That's a CR 1/2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 2. CR 2 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 4, but against that's not the listed CR.

There's the problem. The CR increase from 3 levels of monk is +3.

So, the steps:

1. Figure out new hit dice, sans class levels. In the case of a typical PC race, this is 2d8, as humans have no racial hit dice. For a frost giant, this would be 16d8.

2. Figure out base CR for this creature as a zombie. In the case of a typical PC race, this is CR 1/2. For the frost giant, this would be CR 6.

3. Add the hit dice for the class levels. For the example human zombie lord monk 3, this is 3d8, for a total of 5d8 hit dice. For a frost giant zombie lord monk this would be 3d8, for a total of 19d8.

4. Adjust the CR of the monster for those three class levels you just added. For a PC race such as human, this is a +3 adjustment, for a total of CR 3. For the frost giant, monk is not a key class, so the CR adjustment is +1.5, for a total of CR 7.5. Round down unless the resulting creature better matches a CR 8 according the the guidelines in Monster Advancement.

"But wait a minute," you might ask. "A human monk 3 is only CR 2!" That's correct. A human monk 3 is adjusted from a human with no PC class levels at all--which would be CR 1/4. CR 1/4, adjusted upwards by 3 levels, is CR 2.

Edit: Regarding the zombie lord wizard 20, this would be CR 20 per the above steps. Compare to a "typical" human wizard 20, who would be CR 19. In general, a PC race turned into a zombie lord will have CR +1 and two extra d8 hit dice--you can skip the CR and HD calculations entirely and use that shortcut. Other creatures will racial hit dice will be more complicated, so follow the steps.

blahpers wrote:
Quote:
2) Maybe it only counts racial hd then? In that case the zombie lord presented has 2 racial hd. That's a CR 1/2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 2. CR 2 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 4, but again that's not the listed CR.
There's the problem. The CR increase from 3 levels of monk is +3. That gives you CR 5.

...But CR 5 is also wrong based on the listed CR in the bestiary, which is CR 3.

Gluttony wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Quote:
2) Maybe it only counts racial hd then? In that case the zombie lord presented has 2 racial hd. That's a CR 1/2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 2. CR 2 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 4, but again that's not the listed CR.
There's the problem. The CR increase from 3 levels of monk is +3. That gives you CR 5.
...But CR 5 is also wrong based on the listed CR in the bestiary, which is CR 3.

Edited, as I wrote that part before actually reading the steps. -_-

Also, I never took into account the +1, did I? Damn. That is a bit messed up.

Yeah, it's odd. Using a simple +1 for a zombie lord on what a normal human would have (i.e. a zombie lord wizard 20 being CR 19+1) seems to make sense, but it also just seems to toss all the actual written rules on zombie lord CR (wonky though those rules may be) aside.

Skeletal champion has the same problems.

Might have to fall back to the "check the Monster Advancement table and figure something out" method.

We really need an FAQ on these...

This may help:

Note that monster templates are not listed in this appendix—with the exception of skeletons and zombies (which lose their intelligence and thus have no key classes), a templated monster's key class is the same as the base creature's key classes.

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CR 1/2 +1 = CR 1, not CR 2.

CR 1 + 2 Monk levels = CR 2 (monk would be non-associated (?) - it doesn't match up with zombie well). Then another +1 for the 3rd level of Monk (more HD than the original monster).

For anything that gets more than CR 1/2 for a normal zombie, the rest of the rules will actually matter.

Majuba has it, since no classes are key for skeletons and zombies...

Gluttony wrote:
2) Maybe it only counts racial hd then? In that case the zombie lord presented has 2 racial hd. That's a CR 1/2 normal zombie, +1 equals CR 2. CR 2 plus CR increase for 3 levels of monk should be CR 4, but again that's not the listed CR.

This method would work if you assume that increasing CR 1/2 by 1 adds up to CR 1 (either as a result of 1.5 being rounded down to 1, or by increasing to the next higher fraction) rather than to CR 2 (as the latter would indicate a starting CR of 1).

Dot.

Majuba wrote:

CR 1/2 +1 = CR 1, not CR 2.

CR 1 + 2 Monk levels = CR 2 (monk would be non-associated (?) - it doesn't match up with zombie well). Then another +1 for the 3rd level of Monk (more HD than the original monster).

For anything that gets more than CR 1/2 for a normal zombie, the rest of the rules will actually matter.

Ah! I'd always taken the rules saying that non-key class levels only count as adding 1/2 up until the number of them is equal to the CR of the monster they're being added to as meaning that the level that hits the CR number is equal to +1 (i.e A CR 1 with 3 levels would be CR 1+1+1+1). Seems you're right though; the level that hits the CR number is still 1/2 and merely sets the next levels to start adding whole stages. It would thus actually be CR 1+0.5+1+1, which is a CR 3.5, and presumably rounds down to CR 3 and makes the zombie lord work.

Took a fair bit of digging to find an example of a creature with a base CR of 1 and levels a non-key class in official published material, but I eventually did find an Atomie Oracle in Reign of Winter which seems to be working as you say, which would confirm your method of adding CR the correct method.

...With that in mind, a simplified formula for a human (or other 0hd small or medium race) zombie lord of any class would simply be CR = number of class levels.