XP for classed monsters?

Apologies if this has been asked or clarified anywhere previously. Some monster listings, especially for humanoids, include mention of classed creatures as leader types. For example, a company of elves will be led by an Elven Spellsword of level 1d6+1. Is there a good way to calculate monster XP should the players come head-to-head with a classed monster like this? I should think that a 7th level spellsword would be worth much more than the 15 XP.


The way I usually do it is by the classed monster’s HD, and then count divine casting as one special ability and arcane casting as two special abilities. So a 7th level spellsword would be a 7** for XP purposes by my reckoning, and a 4+1 HD orc chieftain counts as a 4+1 HD monster. I’m still not really sure how to handle demihuman shamans / witchdoctors where their HD != their casting level, though, and breaking things out like this can make the paperwork for figuring out XP awards a bit more fiddly.

I remember seeing something about this somewhere, but can’t find it.

In its absence, this is what I would do.

The Zaharan racial writeup on the Player’s Companion tells you how many special abilities any given class is worth, based on the number of points that were spent in its construction excluding Hit Dice. 1-3 is one *, 4-5 is two *, 6-7 is three *, 8 is four *. Elven Spellsword is 6 points (when excluding hit dice; Fighting 2 Elf 4 [or actually any combo of Elf + Arcane that adds up to 4, but not the point]), therefore three *.

A 7th level Elven Spellsword would thus be worth 1490 XP (comparable to a juvenile dragon, a 10 HD hydra, or a black pudding, to name a few within one or two hundred XP value).

Like Jedavis, I have no good solution for the humanoids whose caster level doesn’t match their HD. The best I can come up with is to calculate the cost of special abilities off caster level, while retaining the base HD value.

So an orc shaman with 2 HD and cleric spellcasting of level 6 would be worth 20 (for 2 HD) plus one * at level 6 (the cleric class is built on 3 non-HD points so it counts as one *) for 250, a total of 270 XP. I’m not sure if that’s at all reasonable but it’s the best I can come up with.

I don’t really see the pay-off in getting very complicated: if it casts spells, add *; ** if it’s got full HD=level mage casting. Otherwise, use level as HD (regardless of the actual HD size). For beastman spellcasters, just add *, or ** if they cast at a level equal to their HD (or greater than, if that happens for some reason).

It’s not at all unusual for witch doctors and shamans to have more caster level than HD; with goblin shamans it’s guaranteed, for example (HD 1+1, casts as cleric of level 2d4). Goblin and hobgoblin witch doctors have 1 and 2 HD, but both get 1d6 mage caster level. I have never seen a party so embarassed as my 5th-7th level group that attempted a frontal assault with mercenaries on a hobgoblin village, only to have the command squad catch a pair of fireballs from the village witchdoctor and have to retreat. Would’ve been even better with goblins instead of hobs…

I agree that bringing the Zaharan modifiers into it seems a bit overcomplicating to me, though.

For humanoids that only have mage and cleric levels, * for cleric and ** for mage is perfectly fine. (And also the same result as actually counting :P).

Elven Spellsword just happened to be the example used by the OP, and elven spellsword is one of the highest point-value classes in the game, so I think they’re worth *** for their XP value. The vast majority of classes will be either * or **.

I guess working that out for most classes might be worth it to work out a *-value and list them for reference; although I think there may be a problem with the method, since it values all core classes equally, and only produces different results for demihumans?

Thieves and mages both end up as **.

Basically, anything with a d4 hit die for humans would end up as two, anything else as one, demihumans can go as high as four.

Ah, duh. “Excluding Hit Dice.” I didn’t register that.

Thanks for all the replies! Interesting to see so many methods for working it out. Just to make sure I understand-- points spent on Hit Dice in the class’s construction are excluded because they’re accounted for by the actual HD of the creature, right? And in the case of a straight-up player class (like the Elven Spellsword from my original question) we’re counting levels as equivalent to HD for the calculation?

Correct to both.

I make a note that excluding points spent on HD is specifically a ‘monsters with character classes’ rule that, in my method, is being applied to actual classes, and so it might not get you ideal results every time.

Similarly, levels and HD aren’t strictly identical (past 9th level), but it is my opinion that they are close enough that for the purposes of calculating XP for 10th level or higher characters, you should use their level in place of their HD.