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A La Carte Character Improvement

by Scott Moore

The following guidelines were initially created to allow characters that have reached maximum level and Attack Rank (as dictated by the standard rules) the opportunity to improve their abilities through the expenditure of XP. For the purpose of obtaining the following improvements, characters should keep track of two XP totals on their character sheet: the first is the XP applied towards increasing level and Attack Rank, the second is the "improvement fund" of XP available to the character for purchasing improvements. When originally broken down, the sum of these two values should be equal to the total XP value previously recorded on the character's sheet. Note that XP may not be shifted to a character's improvement fund if it would result in a loss of level or Attack Rank. Energy and level draining attacks are directed against a character's XP pool for levelling and do not affect the XP set aside for their improvement fund. XP cannot be shifted back to the character's XP pool for levelling once deposited into their Improvement Fund; it can only be spent on the following advancements.

If you choose to allow players to improve character abilities before reaching maximum level or Attack Rank, only the options for ability scores, demihuman abilities, and hit point improvements should be permitted.

These improvements can create extremely powerful characters and it is recommended that these options be used in a campaign either where other characters and challenges have been equally increased in abilities, or where characters are bettering themselves in hopes of successfully completing a path to immortality. In fact, the high XP requirement of several of these improvements are on par with what should be involved in completing some of the required quests for those seeking immortality.

The XP costs of the various Attack Rank, saving throw, and skill improvements listed below are based on the rate at which these abilities usually progress for specific classes, and the XP required to reach them. This was done to relatively balance the costs of the improvements between the different character classes involved.

Ability Scores

To raise a non-prime requisite ability score by one point, it costs the new ability score value times 10,000 XP. Thus, increasing a fighter's Charisma from 12 to 13 costs 130,000 XP. Abilities must be increased a point at a time such that a character wishing to improve an ability from 12 to 14 must first spend 130,000 XP to reach 13, then another 140,000 XP to reach 14. For improving ability scores that comprise the character's prime requisite, all costs are doubled. Note that elf, halfling, and mystic characters actually have two prime requisites each. Ability scores cannot be increased any higher than 18 in this fashion.

Each character that has reached their maximum level and Attack Rank may also select one ability score that they can raise above 18 to a maximum of 25, but at a cost of the new ability score value times 40,000 XP, for each point gained. This cost is the same for all ability scores whether they are prime requisites or not.

Note that Constitution and Intelligence scores improved in this manner do not automatically grant additional hit points, skills, or languages that would have been obtained by the character at lower levels. See the following sections for improving a character's hit point total or skills and languages. If an increase in Intelligence would raise a character's Intelligence modifier by one, the character must purchase an additional skill choice and become fluent in an additional language before increasing their Intelligence further to the point where the modifier would increase by another point. For example, a character increasing their Intelligence from 12 to 13 (+1 modifier) can continue increasing the ability to 15, but must become fluent in one additional language and learn (or improve) one additional skill before attempting to increase their Intelligence to 16 (+2 modifier).

Attack Ranks

After reaching maximum level and Attack Rank as specified in the standard rules, halfling, magic user, and mystic characters can continue to improve their combat abilities up to Attack Rank M based on the following XP costs.

Halfling: 300,000 XP to get to Attack Rank L, followed by an additional 300,000 XP to get to Attack Rank M.

Magic User: 750,000 XP to obtain Attack Rank M.

Mystic: 300,000 XP to achieve Attack Rank I, followed by another 300,000 XP to get to Attack Rank K, and another 300,000 XP to reach Attack Rank M.

Note that demihumans gain one Attack Rank at a time, while human progression is two Attack Ranks at a time, essentially skipping every other Attack Rank. If you wish to change progression for humans so they can only gain one Attack Rank at a time, use half the above XP costs as the new cost for each Attack Rank gained above the class's normal maximum.

Demihuman Abilities

Dwarf and elf characters start off with special detection abilities that succeed on a 1 or 2 on a 1d6. The success range for these abilities can be increased one point at a time up to a maximum of 1-5 on a 1d6. Each single point increase costs 200,000 XP.

Halfling characters can improve their base 90% chance to successfully hide outdoors by spending 100,000 XP for each 1% increase up to a maximum of 99%.

Hit Points

A character may purchase additional hit points at the rate of one per 100,000 XP spent, up to a maximum as determined by the character's level and Constitution score. Note that improving a character's Constitution score can also affect their maximum potential hit points.


Once a travelling demihuman character gains the Fighter Combat Options abilities (12th level for dwarves, Attack Rank D for elves and halflings), they, too, can swear fealty to a ruler and become knights, gaining all the privileges associated with the title. The cost to gain this status is 200,000 XP.

Saving Throws

Certain character classes can continue to improve their saving throws by spending XP after reaching their maximum level. Mystics can improve all their saving throws by 1 point (but never below 2) for each additional 320,000 XP they spend. Demihuman classes can improve their saving throws to a value of 2 across the board by a one-time expenditure of XP, depending on their race. The cost is 600,000 XP for dwarves, 750,000 XP for elves, and 900,000 XP for halfling characters.

Skills and Languages

As detailed for demihumans in the Rules Cyclopaedia (page 86), humans can also continue to gain additional skill choices as they gain XP past their maximum level. Clerics and mystics may gain one additional skill choice for every 400,000 XP spent. Fighters and thieves gain one for every 480,000 XP and magic users gain one for every 600,000 XP. Characters gaining languages in this manner will never be fully fluent in them, as described in the Rules Cyclopaedia (pages 87-88). Characters wishing to become fluent in a new language must spend 800,000 XP to do so (total, not on top of the previously mentioned skill choice cost). While characters may possess any number of non-fluent languages, the maximum number of fluent languages they can posses is determined by their race and Intelligence score.

Special Defences

For a cost of 2,000,000 XP, a character may become especially resistant to one special attack form. The character selects one of the five saving throw categories and always takes half damage from that type of attack. A successful save indicates only 1/4 damage is taken. This effect can only be taken once per saving throw type.

Spell-Like Abilities

For a cost of 1,000,000 XP per level of the spell, a spell caster may gain a spell-like ability useable once per day. This ability does not require memorisation or meditation time to be able to wield it. The spell-like ability always functions as if cast by a spell caster of the minimum level required to cast that spell.

Characters may only have a maximum number of spell-like abilities equal to the lesser of 3 or their appropriate ability modifier (Wisdom for avengers, clerics, druids, and paladins, Intelligence for elves and magic users). It is possible to purchase the same spell-like ability multiple times. Each additional time it is purchased, the character may select either one extra use per day, or to increase the spell's effective caster level by one. In addition, the level of the spell chosen cannot exceed the character's appropriate ability modifier (as listed above). Under no circumstances can the wish spell be taken as a spell-like ability.

Thieves' Abilities

A mystic or thief character may add a +1% bonus to any one of their thieving abilities for every 10,000 XP spent. The maximum base chance of success for these abilities are 99% for read languages and read magic/cast from scroll, 279% for pick pockets (99% chance of success against a 36th level target), and 150% for all others (open locks, find traps, remove traps, climb walls, move silently, hide in shadows, and hear noise).

A thief may increase their backstab attack bonus by +1 per 480,000 XP spent. Damage is not affected. The maximum backstab attack bonus cannot exceed the sum of the character's move silently and hide in shadows percentages, divided by 40 and rounded down. This allows for an absolute maximum of +7 to the backstab attack bonus.