Savage Species Help

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What in the Savage Species gives a racial class a progression similar to character class development?

I don't own that book but am confused by your question.  My understanding of SS is that it takes a "monster" that normally would require a "starting level" above first level and then breaks it down into a "monster class" that you can start with at first level and when completed be exactly where you would be if you started as that species normally.

To play a Minotaur you normally need to be able to start as a 8th-level character.  This is 6 levels for the racial HD and another +2 to cover the LA.  What SS does is take those "eight levels" and breaks the abilities down into 8 levels so you can start playing a very weakened Minotaur at 1st-level and the grow into the normal minotaur abilities when you reach Minotaur 8.  There are some "levels" in those progressions where you do NOT gain HD and those slow your general feat gains.  I also believe the SS progression skips the normal +1 ability boosts every 4 HD as they are normally built into a monster's normal ability score adjustments which you will gain as you progress through the monster class.
I was look for a way to possible keep my half-dragon (black) umber hulk from being 17 level.
Is level adjustment buy-off allowed? I think that would work, but other people on the forum know more about it than me.
I was look for a way to possible keep my half-dragon (black) umber hulk from being 17 level.

No. You're pretty much SOL. The real question is why you'd even want to play a umberhulk.
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I was look for a way to possible keep my half-dragon (black) umber hulk from being 17 level.

No. You're pretty much SOL. The real question is why you'd even want to play a umberhulk.

What is wrong with the umber hulk?

I was look for a way to possible keep my half-dragon (black) umber hulk from being 17 level.

Is that even possible?  Playing an umber hulk I mean because they do not have an LA listed for them in the MM.  Just the HD + half dragon LA would put one at 11th-level but I don't know how much the umber hulk's LA (which is should definitely have) will push that up.  My gut says +6 seems high but it does get +12 STR, +8 CON, +2 DEX and WIS, and +8 natural armor in a large size along with a burrowing speed which could be pretty useful.

Knowing what the Hulk's LA is one could maybe figure out a SS progression and I think the Half-Dragon template is already around somewhere.  You maybe could start playing one earlier then 17th-level but I may be agreeing with the monkey here on "why?"  Playing an 8 HD character as a 17th-level character would be a monstrous challenge.  Breaking a 17 level creature with 8 HD down into a SS progression you'd be seeing a HD at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 which puts you well behind most other character.
The SS has the Umber Hulk at 14 levels for 8 HD and the half-dragon is +3.
The progression's in Savage Species are for playing lower powered versions of standard races as they "level up" to their standard abilities. A character with max ranks in a racial class is no different from starting play at that level without those rules.

That said, most monsters are sucky for player characters. Racial Hit Dice lack any of the interesting features of normal classes and due to the means of calculating Level Adjustment are actually penalized for racial abilities that could be considered "Class abilities" of those racial HD. That Level adjustments decrease in power over levels doesn't help things at all. The few races that are decent or even good for player characters tend to be a little to a lot cheesy exploiting Alter Self or other strange abilities.

Umber Hulks and Half dragons? Those are both very expensive in both level adjustment and/or in HD without much payoff. A well raging barbarian or spellcaster with a few minor magic items can do as well as, if not better than, Half dragons and Umber hulks at what those races can acomplish either in or out of combat. This is evident even in the games where there is a low level of optimization and only gets worse the more optimization that is performed.
DID they make the monsters in SS so you would be play the basic humanoid races?
I think they were just being a little too careful, since some of the monsters open up tricks that aren't easily available to characters. Few of the monsters are high-grade optimization material, and a fair number seem to be overpriced, but some are actually pretty decent if you play to their strengths.

For example, while a troll doesn't have all the offensive combat power of a typical fighter, its regeneration allows it to survive things that would be fatal to a human character, especially when it has a full set of adventuring gear to help protect itself.  A troll that doesn't throw itself in the way of damage for the party won't be anywhere near as useful or fun as one that accepts its damage-sponge nature and makes use of it.

The half-dragon is decent for a melee type as long as you've got a few HD under your belt, and you get a nice selection of choices if you've got the material covering half-dragons beyond the chromatic and metallic types.  The breath weapon is little more than a novelty unless you take the Dragon Breath feat, and the lack of wings for Medium and smaller half-dragons makes the template less attractive if you're not putting it on a Large base creature.

The umber hulk is a pain in the neck for the party unless everyone is immune to confusion, and while its tremorsense and ability to burrow through rock are nice, they're not exactly great as an alternative to 14 character levels on a regular character.

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Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

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Basically, whenever you take a nonstandard race (and even some "standard" ones, like the Thri-Kreen as a psionic race) you're at the mercy of a deliberate, and necessary XP/advancement gimp.

ECL = Base HD + Level Adjustment. This is needed to help with balance and is a great concept, because it lets you theoretically do stuff you couldn't do in previous versions without severe homebrewing: you can pick a monster as a PC!

Honestly, if you want to change the system, you shouldn't be using a non-standard race. If there is no published racial progression, or your DM can't furnish an ECL equivalent one, your only real choice is to play that character as its ECL shows.

ECL exists to balance nonstandard races. If your race ECL's at a given number, that's because (in a perfect world) it should be balanced with a PC with class levels of the same amount. Don't expect to get away with a strong creature without that gimp. That's not fair to the DM or the other PC's.

And is ECL a gimp? You betcha. Let's say you start out as an ECL of 5 while the other PC's are standard level 1 character/race combos.
Heck yeah, you're OP!
Except...while they need the difference between 1 and 2 to level, you need the difference between 5 and 6, and at your ECL of 5, those monsters you all are fighting are almost worthless to you...
But congrats, all of you will hit 6 at aboout the same time, and more easily than normal, thanks to your boosted abilities!

...and that's the point of starting out at a higher ECL. If that doesn't do it for you, you're doing it wrong.
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