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The difference between CR and ECL

The difference between CR and ECL

So the question is simple, what is the difference between challenge rating and effective character level? I understand one is for monsters, and the other is players. But I do not see why they do not just use one for both (allowing easy comparisons), and does a CR 5 equal an ECL of 5?

Following on from this, I see when you add templates it has level adjustment (for ECL) and increase to CR, these are usually different, why?

Thanks in advance!

Challenge rating is an approximate measure of how much a challenge a creature is for 4 characters with all the keyroles filled. A CR 7 is going to "Averagely" be a challenge to 4 7th level characters, where challenge was stated to be, that use half of all resources to overcome it.

ECL is a combination of Hit Dice (Natural levels and Class levels) + Level Adjustment.

Essentially CR is more important to the DM where ECL is more important to the player.

CR is a very rough estimate difficult a critter is
Level adjustment is a very poor estimate of how powerful it is if a player gets to use it

Though its not as if CR is a very good estimate of a creature's power. Certain monsters are wildly under or over rated.

Dragons for example are wildly underrated, on purpose, in order to ensure that they are always as scary as they can possibly be.

Originally Posted by SinGin View Post
A CR 7 is going to "Averagely" be a challenge to 4 7th level characters, where challenge was stated to be, that use half of all resources to overcome it.
This portion is incorrect.
A group of 4 characters is 'expected' to face 4 challenges of EL (or some number of higher or lower EL encounters that approximates the same total challenge) equal to their average ECL in any given adventuring day. EL (Encounter Level) is a value derived from the combined Challenge Ratings of the opponents.

Go with an easy one here as a comparison

Any Level 6 character (you pick) vs a Babou, demon in the SRD.

Pretty clear it would eat a level 6 character for breakfast, cause it's expected to take on 4 by itself.

Originally Posted by Wippit Guud View Post
Pretty clear it would eat a level 6 character for breakfast, cause it's expected to take on 4 by itself.
No, 4 level 6 characters are expected to take on 4 Babous over the course of an average adventuring day.
A CR 6 creature should be a very difficult but doable challenge for a single ECL 6 character. By no means should one 'eat [the other] for breakfast'.

Our local DM notes that an even ECL = CR match between a single PC and a single monster is intended to be a 50/50 break point. This varies fairly widely through the monster manuals, but run your one 6th-level PC up against every CR 6 in the book and they should get killed roughly half of the time.

But for the OP, dystmesis put it fairly correctly.

CR is a measure of how powerful the creature is as an opponent for your PCs (and isn't very good at doing so without factoring in things like terrain, PC abilities, etc). By this yardstick, abilities like True Seeing and Teleport don't actually mean anywhere near as much, since the monster will be dead in 6-24 seconds.

ECL is a measure of how powerful the race would be if used as a PC and took PC class levels. By this yardstick, constant True Seeing and use-at-will Teleport is going to ruin many, many plothooks and therefore is considered much, much more powerful. Thus, a creature with abiliites such as these receives a much larger adjustment to ECL than it does to CR.

A monster is expected to die less then a minute after it is first encountered. If it has lots of special abilities, it can use those abilities once, or not at all. Some abilities are not even useful in combat.
A PC with the same abilities can use them lots of times throughout different combats; different abilities maybe applying in different situations. Some abilities negating out of combat challenges.

For this reason, typically the CR increase is lower than the ECL increase. e.g. at will greater teleport. A monster can use it once or twice during a fight, and then maybe use it to flee (which counts as defeat). A PC can use it all the time in all kinds of situations.

I'm not saying it always works out that way, though. e.g. regeneration 5 is a mild annoyance if a monster has it, but it negates the need for out of combat healing for a PC. But this advantage isn't really that great, since out of combat healing is usually not a big issue.

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