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D&D 3E/3.5 Working with the Half-Fiend Template


Hi All,

I'm looking for clarification on how the half-fiend template (Half-Fiend :: d20srd.org) works as it applies to a human npc/pc. For the list of abilities below, is the HD based on the base creature (human with 1 HD) and therefore limited to Darkness 3/day or does the half-fiend human gain the additional abilities as he or she goes up in level say taking levels of wizard, fighter, whatever? I'm assuming if you apply the half-fiend template to a monster with more than one HD you reference the HD listed in the chart and that's what the half-fiend gets. The half-fiend has a LA of +4.

Background: I'm converting a 1E Alu-Demon npc with levels in magic-user to 3.5. I'm also looking at the bloodline levels, maybe building an alu-demon class using Savage Species (3.0), via Monster Manual (3.5) or possibly the Fiend-blooded prc from Heroes of Horror. For monster class levels I'd use the Alu-Demon from the Tome of Horrors. There are lots of ways to pull this off, does anybody have some advice on which you would prefer in building this npc?


Darkness 3/day​
Poison 3/day​
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The abilities work off of Hit Dice. When you gain levels in Fighter or Wizard or whatever you gain Hit Dice.
So, Yes a Fighter 10th level Half-Fiend will be able to cast Contagion (as well as other abilities) as a spell like ability.

Whichever way ends up being closer to the original I suppose.


I generally interpret Hit Dice from these things as Creature Hit Dice and not the class levels added on top of the Hit Dice. So a Human Half Fiend has X powers, not X powers that increase as levels increase. This makes narrative sense to me that a half-fiend template would always be the same when placed on the same species. Generally I see these things as tied to underlying nature of the base creature, not learning to harness power as you go that changes in an individual over time as they gain experience.

There is support for ruling otherwise though.

In the Improving Monsters Section it says:

Monsters And Class Levels​

If a creature acquires a character class, it follows the rules for multiclass characters.

The creature’s Hit Dice equal the number of class levels it has plus its racial Hit Dice.

From a rules mechanics basis this can make conceptual sense as you want the template's CR and LA to be a reasonable match for the increased powers at both low levels and high levels so a High LA one that can potentially be giving up higher level spells should be gaining something comparatively decent at higher levels to match the mechanical benefits given up when instead of casting ninth level spells you are casting 7th level spells tops at four lower caster levels.


Still working with the 3.5 Half-Fiend template. Any thoughts about what the level adjustment would drop to without the spell-like abilities? This would just be removing the spell-like abilities from the template, everything else would remain.

I'm thinking LA +2, but I'm second guessing myself given the large ability score adjustments and resistances.


I agree that the big things left over are the stats and special resistances, but I also think the fly speed is big for a PC LA.

Special Qualities

A half-fiend has all the special qualities of the base creature, plus the following special qualities.

Darkvision out to 60 feet.
Immunity to poison.
Resistance to acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, and fire 10.
Damage reduction: 5/magic (if HD 11 or less) or 10/magic (if HD 12 or more).
A half-fiend’s natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Spell resistance equal to creature’s HD + 10 (maximum 35).


Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Dex +4, Con +2, Int +4, Cha +2.

For spell likes losing no save blasphemy at 11 HD is the big one in my view.

As an NPC remind me why you care about LA versus CR. Does it affect WBL NPC gear?


Good point on the fly ability. I'll check out other races with fly speed. I'm now leaning toward +3. Too bad we don't have decimals with LA, 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, etc. It's just math though. I'm sure it's doable with respect to LA buy off.

Why do I care?

I know my players. Once I introduce the NPC, somebody at some point will ask if he or she can play one. I will probably agree and having this written up and ready will help.


The LA is inherently unbalanced and just really doesn't actually work at all.

The problem is that advantages tend to accrue multiplicatively with level or HD but the LA adjustment is a onetime additive hit. So for low levels, the LA adjustment tends to overcompensate and result in something a lot weaker than an equivalent character without a +LA template, but for most +LA templates there exists a break point where if you have enough levels the +LA template is a pure net positive because "level times benefit" is greater than the level adjustment penalty.

There isn't a perfect way to solve this problem, but it's actually much fairer to apply a XP penalty on +LA races. So, for example, require say 40% more XP to gain each level for a +4 LA race actually helps balance it out better. But since even that isn't actually fair, I tend to just ban the concept at character creation.
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