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Kiero
2008-12-27, 05:52 AM
While it's not mandatory by any means, most D20 games tend to assume people will start their characters at 1st level. The system is generally scaled to grow in complexity and thus give you time to learn how bits and pieces work as you go.

The newer D20 games (D&D 4e and Star Wars Saga Edition) all feature a much beefier 1st level to counter some of the issues of fragile starting characters. The latter no longer has any random rolling of hit points at 1st level, either.

Personally, having suffered years of start at 1st level with AD&D2e (and many games that burned out before 10th level), I'll never play a 1st level character again. Fortunately I haven't had to; the SWSE game I'm currently playing in started at 4th level, so we were all nicely competent from the very beginning. Currently not far off 6th level after a couple of sessions.

Where do people stand on starting characters? Do you prefer a game to start at 1st level regardless? Does it depend on the game? Do you always go for something higher than 1st?

Tsotha-lanti
2008-12-27, 06:22 AM
I generally start the PCs out both low-level and low-power (whether it's RuneQuest, D&D, or Rolemaster), and use the first levels (the first 6 or so in D&D) to let the characters find their place in the world. I prefer to integrate characters into the gameworld through in-game actions rather than background stories (indeed, I think background stories that don't take place inside the game are entirely superfluous and unnecessary write-wank, generally).

Starting characters at mid-levels could certainly work, although not as well; I probably wouldn't use it for long-term campaigns. Starting at high levels absolutely wouldn't work for me, because the characters would feel completely dissociated from the gameworld, which is ridiculous for powerful characters.

BobVosh
2008-12-27, 06:28 AM
3rd level. Almost in every game I have played. Very few break this rule.

MoelVermillion
2008-12-27, 06:33 AM
Yeah the game I'm in currently started 3rd level, first level can be fun but we were all just looking for something casual and one miss roll of the dice can be enough to send you to the great beyond at first level.

Grail
2008-12-27, 07:04 AM
If I'm starting out, I always start at 2nd. I don't give primary spellcasters a free leg up to the 2nd level spells, but I make it easier for them to get there.

AndromedaRPG
2008-12-27, 07:07 AM
I normally start somewhere between 3rd and 6th for significant campaigns. One-shots are normally higher.

I like to start a bit higher than 3rd so that I can have some fun with monsters, without worrying about killing the players off :smallbiggrin:

Tingel
2008-12-27, 07:16 AM
Everything other than 1st level is for wusses.

A high level character has to be something special, and thus has to be earned. A high level character needs actual memories derived from play attached to his rise, needs to feel alive.
Exp and powerful items and grand successes in the gameworld are much more valuable and fun if they aren't simply handed out indiscriminately.

Kiero
2008-12-27, 09:26 AM
Everything other than 1st level is for wusses.

Fortunately, I'm mature enough not to feel the need to hold my gaming to some kind of faux-macho standard to feel adequate.


A high level character has to be something special, and thus has to be earned.

Nope, there's nothing inherently special about higher levels that means you should play through what came before. I note you've jumped to the conclusion that we're talking about "high level" here, which says something interesting about your biases.

I was talking about non-1st. Usually 3rd to 5th. Which isn't "high level" by any stretch of the imagination.


A high level character needs actual memories derived from play attached to his rise, needs to feel alive.

Not really. I don't see that it really makes any difference when you start in that respect. Or should we play out the 0th level rise to PC-hood as well?


Exp and powerful items and grand successes in the gameworld are much more valuable and fun if they aren't simply handed out indiscriminately.

Why should it be indiscriminate just because it hasn't happened during actual play? If anything they can be a lot more coherent if arrived at through mutual consent between player and GM.

ericgrau
2008-12-27, 09:51 AM
1st just b/c I'd like to play everything through. Though I see the problems with 1st level and think the DM should go easy on encounters. I could also see 2nd or 3rd level as plenty reasonable. There are aspects of the game that change by level, it's nice to experience them all and play a character that adapts to them all. Heck, I was in a campaign that ended around 16ish (actually a 14-18 mix) b/c the DM didn't like the style of the game at the highest levels. The game changes.

Ya, Tingel's response didn't seem that mature, but maybe he was just exaggerating. People do throw out random opinions full of hyperbole, y'know. It's fine. And chewing him out isn't all that mature either. Kiero's first statement was reasonable and probably some others too, but doing a point by point on 4 sentances is going a bit overboard.

mikej
2008-12-27, 10:13 AM
Level 1-4, not soo low that anything can kill your cool character you worked hard on and wanted to play. My DM is very strict on starting at level one and wonders why one of the other PCs dies early.

Noneoyabizzness
2008-12-27, 10:13 AM
depends on what I want to run when we staart a new campaign half the tiem we have started @ 5h, most of the time when I run I start @ first

UserClone
2008-12-27, 10:16 AM
Essentially what ericgrau said.

And FYI, Kiero, starting out at 0th level is actually quite appealing to me, so YMMV is kind of appropriate for these sorts of conversations.

Additionally, random HP at 1st level has been a thing of the past since the year 2000, so that's hardly a concern these days, especially with the 4E method of Con score (the whole score, not the modifier, so it's always higher and never negative) + a flat number by class.

[email protected]: 3E had an interesting "apprentice level" for each core class in the DMG, such that you COULD have a level-1 multiclass character, then when you hit level 2, your classes both went up to a full 1st-level. Inexplicably, this was removed from 3.5.:smallsigh:

Starsinger
2008-12-27, 10:17 AM
My minimum preferred level in 3.5 was 2. That way dual class character concepts can start with both classes and you're not quite as squishy.

Sometimes I liked to start at level 6 so the PrC hoop jumping can generally be over with.

Matthew
2008-12-27, 10:41 AM
First level if starting a traditional campaign on an even footing. Otherwise, whatever seems appropriate to the adventure material that has been prepared.

Mastikator
2008-12-27, 10:48 AM
As a big fan of low level, low power, gritty sandbox campagins, I prefer to start out at level 1. Since I heard of E6 houserule, I've been longing to try it.

Ricky S
2008-12-27, 10:52 AM
Our group always starts at 5th level. That way people can still do some fun things with items and magic and still be weak enough to have struggles in the campaigns. Plus it means that the next level you can start taking prestige classes. Also high level starting is boring.

UserClone
2008-12-27, 10:56 AM
E6 is very cool, Mastikator (as is your screen name, BTW:smallwink:). The thing that really sells me on E6 is the fact that you don't have to rewrite the stats for the monsters in order to have an epic adventure culminating in a battle with a medusa The Medusa or a minotaur The Minotaur. Very cool, indeed.:smallcool:

Tingel
2008-12-27, 10:59 AM
a) Fortunately, I'm mature enough not to feel the need to hold my gaming to some kind of faux-macho standard to feel adequate.
b) I note you've jumped to the conclusion that we're talking about "high level" here, which says something interesting about your biases.
c) Why should it be indiscriminate just because it hasn't happened during actual play? If anything they can be a lot more coherent if arrived at through mutual consent between player and GM.
Oh my. Didn't you expect that some people might have strong opinions that differ from yours when you made this thread? I am surprised to see you offended by my post.

a) It has nothing to do with feeling adequate. I just like to start playing games at the beginning, and have no disdain for playing weak characters. If it is the term "wuss" that makes you angry, just ignore it. It was a statement in the spirit of my game of choice (HackMaster), and was not meant to be taken that seriously.
b) I did no such thing. I just said that I think a high level should be earned, lest it be stripped of its significance. And by "earning" I mean starting at the beginning, i.e. 1st level, not level 3 or 5 or 12.
c) I just think that having a memory attached to your magical sword (about the troll you had to trick to steal it for example), and having felt the thrill of risking your life getting it, said sword is a much more precious possession than a sword you just selected "level-appropriately" according to some item list when creating your advanced character out of thin air. I don't seek coherent, mutual character designing - I seek adventure.

UserClone
2008-12-27, 11:13 AM
While Kiero's response was less than satisfactory in terms of getting its message across maturely, he does have a point insofar as that, with perhaps the exception of (the very easy-to-use, BTW:smallwink:) smilies, there is very little you can do to display tongue-in-cheek humor via a text-only medium. So you can hardly blame him for thinking you were 100% serious with your response, really.:smallconfused:

Vortling
2008-12-27, 01:32 PM
For 3.5e I like to start at levels 3-5. For 4e I prefer at least level 11.

UserClone
2008-12-27, 02:18 PM
Why, if you don't mind my asking, so high in 4E Vortling? So that two people can have the same class but different Paragon Paths?

Kiero
2008-12-27, 02:30 PM
Oh my. Didn't you expect that some people might have strong opinions that differ from yours when you made this thread? I am surprised to see you offended by my post.

a) It has nothing to do with feeling adequate. I just like to start playing games at the beginning, and have no disdain for playing weak characters. If it is the term "wuss" that makes you angry, just ignore it. It was a statement in the spirit of my game of choice (HackMaster), and was not meant to be taken that seriously.

There's a difference between strong opinions, and strong opinions voiced in a contemptuous tone. Which was quite plain from what you said.

Given this is a largely context-free textual format, there was no indication besides the words themselves how it was to be taken.


b) I did no such thing. I just said that I think a high level should be earned, lest it be stripped of its significance. And by "earning" I mean starting at the beginning, i.e. 1st level, not level 3 or 5 or 12.
c) I just think that having a memory attached to your magical sword (about the troll you had to trick to steal it for example), and having felt the thrill of risking your life getting it, said sword is a much more precious possession than a sword you just selected "level-appropriately" according to some item list when creating your advanced character out of thin air. I don't seek coherent, mutual character designing - I seek adventure.

You're the one who immediately started talking about high level characters, not me. I know exactly what you meant by "earning", I simply disagree that it's necessary.

Curmudgeon
2008-12-27, 02:57 PM
Start at level 1. Get to know your character by living its development.

Roderick_BR
2008-12-27, 03:00 PM
Something like 3th-4th, at least on experienced groups. We start the game with characters with enough customization to be fun.
For new groups, I'll try to at least run them through a 1-3 level campaing, o they can get a feeling on how the lower levels work.

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 03:22 PM
I like to start at 1st level most times. The highest I have ever started a traditional campaign is 3.

When someone says they want to start at level 9 or 11 or 16 or 20 because they want to be special and do heroic things and feel powerful, I get a nervous twitch.

mikethepoor
2008-12-27, 03:32 PM
If I had to pick a level, I'd say second. You're not quite as squishy as you were at first, but you're still hardly uber-adventurer.

Ekeralos
2008-12-27, 03:40 PM
The first game I campaign I DM'd was at level 21 :smalleek:. That did not go very well. Usually I start characters off between level 1-3. Level 3 is good, because all characters have at least 2 feats and they can look forward to a stat boost at level 4.
Starting at a low level usually helps the group role-play together, since they get to know eachother's characters from the beginning.

ken-do-nim
2008-12-27, 03:43 PM
If I'm starting a campaign, 1st level for sure. If I'm running a low level one-shot, 2nd or 3rd is more appropriate.

Kiero
2008-12-27, 03:46 PM
I like to start at 1st level most times. The highest I have ever started a traditional campaign is 3.

When someone says they want to start at level 9 or 11 or 16 or 20 because they want to be special and do heroic things and feel powerful, I get a nervous twitch.

There's a lot of unfounded exclusion of the middle going on here. I haven't seen anyone who's talking about a non-1st-level start talking about 9th level. Most have been 2nd to 5th.

arguskos
2008-12-27, 03:47 PM
Me, I like levels 1-3. No higher, since I love the feeling of attachment that comes from watching my character grow in play. Of course, I haven't started a character at level 1 in over 7 years, so :smallannoyed:.

Saintjebus
2008-12-27, 03:48 PM
I liked to start 3.5 campaigns at 5th level, simply because I hated how fragile 1st level characters were. I like to start 4e campaigns at 1st level for the opposite reason - 1st level characters are beasts!
That being said, I would think that it depends on the group... some like the high-powered feeling, some like the RP aspect of rising from 1st level to 30th level.

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 03:50 PM
There's a lot of unfounded exclusion of the middle going on here. I haven't seen anyone who's talking about a non-1st-level start talking about 9th level. Most have been 2nd to 5th.

Yeah, I don't get the nervous twitch when people talk about starting campaigns at 5, that's why I didn't mention those level ranges.

Vortling
2008-12-27, 03:54 PM
Why, if you don't mind my asking, so high in 4E Vortling? So that two people can have the same class but different Paragon Paths?
I feel that 4e classes become distinctive and functionally interesting at level 11. Before that, not so much.

UserClone
2008-12-27, 04:14 PM
There's a lot of unfounded exclusion of the middle going on here. I haven't seen anyone who's talking about a non-1st-level start talking about 9th level. Most have been 2nd to 5th.

I see you are jumping to the conclusion that this person is talking about other posters on this thread. Excellent nonsensical assumption, sir.:smalltongue: I applaud your use of excluded middle when it has no apparent bearing, also.:smallwink:

EDIT:
Yeah, I don't get the nervous twitch when people talk about starting campaigns at 5, that's why I didn't mention those level ranges.
And there goes your argument.:smallbiggrin:

arguskos
2008-12-27, 04:16 PM
I see you are jumping to the conclusion that this person is talking about other posters on this thread. Excellent nonsensical assumption, sir.:smalltongue: I applaud your use of excluded middle when it has no apparent bearing, also.:smallwink:

EDIT:
And there goes your argument.:smallbiggrin:
There is far too much silliness in this thread.

NEO|Phyte
2008-12-27, 04:39 PM
I tend to prefer mid-to-high levels myself, though it can vary. Assuming my character idea can adequately fit into a low-level game, I'm fine for them. A guy seeking to become a swordmaster is fine for any level, but a dwarf that hates the ground so much he refuses to walk on it slightly requires a high enough level to be able to do so, which I've found to be 7th level using psionics, or 9th with ToB. Haven't really looked into other methods, I guess a warlock could do it, but I don't really see Agdor Loathestone as a warlock.

Drascin
2008-12-27, 04:44 PM
Around 4th or so, usually. I find that's when most classes start to get a bit of stride - enough HP on the meatshields to survive that single lucky critical, enough resources for the group keep going for more than two encounters, and enough options for people to do different stuff in different rounds. And the promise of 5th and 6 level soon, which tend to be important levels (PrC entrance, level 3 spells and maneuvers, etc) is always nice.

All in all, it just seems a good place to start

Egiam
2008-12-27, 09:57 PM
Start at level 1. Get to know your character by living its development.

I totally agree. I like gaining my wizard spells slowly so I can get to really know them all.

Starsinger
2008-12-27, 10:46 PM
I take it back, level 4 is the best starting level, particularly if there's a Sorcerer in a party. Sorcerer level 3 is painful.

UserClone
2008-12-27, 11:31 PM
Sor3 is a pretty crappy place to be, yeah.

Kiero
2008-12-28, 10:20 AM
Here's a supplementary question; how would people feel about a game that started at 10th level, but had no (mechanical) advancement at all?

Or one with a constrained advancement schema, like E6 and it's ilk, where you started at or around the top of that system (so 5th or 6th level in E6)?

Eldariel
2008-12-28, 10:40 AM
Fun for variety. Basically the opposite of playing Gestalt. Some advancement needs to be present for any longer games though; I like E6 and its feat progression.

UserClone
2008-12-28, 10:51 AM
Kiero, I could enjoy either of those two games, but they would have to have more story awards, plot twists, and treasure to make up for the static nature of my character's abilities. Personally, I have just started in a PbP campaign that promises to go from 1 to 30, and I'll let you guys know how it goes, if you are interested.

Matthew
2008-12-28, 11:17 AM
Here's a supplementary question; how would people feel about a game that started at 10th level, but had no (mechanical) advancement at all?

I am fine with it.



Or one with a constrained advancement schema, like E6 and it's ilk, where you started at or around the top of that system (so 5th or 6th level in E6)?
I am fine with it.

Neithan
2008-12-28, 11:51 AM
I preffer to start at 1st level (with one roll of hp extra), but that's because I like low-level play and rarely advance beyond 8th level.
I'm not so much a fan of having characters advance from nobody to greatest warrior ever within 3 or 4 years in game time, but when it's a campaign about legendary heroes, starting at 12th level is also okay. Really depends on the type of campaign.

arguskos
2008-12-28, 11:53 AM
Here's a supplementary question; how would people feel about a game that started at 10th level, but had no (mechanical) advancement at all?

Or one with a constrained advancement schema, like E6 and it's ilk, where you started at or around the top of that system (so 5th or 6th level in E6)?
Part one? Not so much honestly, I like the feel of growth.

Part two? I could dig an E6 game that began around level 3 or so, not level 5-6, I still like the feeling of growth. :smallcool: