In a recent comment string, I stated that a character with 6 class levels and 2 non-class hit dice would be a level 8 character; This is based on my recollection that "character level" and "hit dice" are used as synonyms in 3.5. However, Fectin disagreed and the review of the rules on the subject is much less clear than I thought.
Here is what I found:
the Player's manual The glossary (p.306) indicates that "character level" means:
Total level of a character. For a character with
the levels of a single class, the level of the class and the level of the character are the same
This definition does not seem to take into account the possibility that a character has hit dice from a source other than the class. However, in the same glossary, "Hit Die / Dice" (p.309) indicates that the dice are (accentuation mine):
In the plural, a measure of the relative power that is
synonymous with character level for spells, magic items,
and magical effects that affect a number of Hit Dice of
An entry in the D & D FAQ 3.5 indicates that the character level is:
The total number of class levels you have in all your classes, plus all the racial hit dice you have. A Level 5 Human Fighter / Level 5 Wizard has 10 character levels. An ogre magician level 5 / wizard level 5 has 14 levels of character (because he has 4 racial hit dice). Character levels determine when you earn feats and your ability score increases (see Table 3-2: Level-Dependent Experience and Benefits in the PH). Any feat you get under your character level adds to the extra achievements of your class.
This adds racial success dice to what should be included in "character level", but does not specify whether you should include success dice from other sources, such as those obtained by Windrider mount (Masters of naturep. 77), or the ability to inspire a greatness of a bard. In addition, the FAQ is not generally reliable.
The SRD section on Monster Enhancement (also available in the Manuel Monster) suggests that you treat the total number of Hit Dices and the "character level" identically for different purposes. For example:
Treat the monster dice in the same way as the character level to determine the ability score increases.
The number of dice of the creature is equal to the number of class levels it has, plus its dice of racism.
However, it is unclear whether these rules apply to personal computers.
There may be other places in the rules that deal with this issue; the above is exactly what I've found so far.
Does the character level of a PC include:
- Only their total class levels?
- Their class levels as well as all racially successful dice, but not another type of non-level die?
- All their hit dice?
- Something else?
(Note: I ask about character level, do not effective level of character, which is something else).