View Full Version : Power level and status in the Realms [3.5]

2009-06-02, 03:34 PM
What's the overall power level in Forgotten Realms? What level would your average craftsman or merchant be? 1st level? 3rd level? Higher? And what sort of reputation is attached to the power levels? How conspicuous would a 3rd level character be just taking part in community life? How about a 5th level character? Would they be noticed, would people wonder what such a powerful person was doing in the neighbourhood, or would it pass without comment?

2009-06-02, 03:42 PM
Well, if you read the fluff, it seems like just about every village mentioned has a couple 5th-level characters.

Generally, I find Forgotten Realms to be fairly friendly to the idea that a wet-behind-the-ears teenager is 1st level in something, and a human in their late 20s or so is going to be 3rd level (even if it's just commoner 3 or expert 3) just from normal life experiences. This is also supported by 3.5 game mechanics, as a 1st level character who isn't a beatstick is basically going to be killed by just about anything, while a 2nd- or 3rd-level character is actually capable of adventuring.

2009-06-02, 03:46 PM
I think that major NPCs notwithstanding, average people follow the 'normal' D&D average (level 1-2 commoners/experts, likely so far as level 3-4 warriors for the harsher regions).

There were some loose guidelines a long time ago (can't find them now) which went like this: levels 1-4, your activity is restricted within one village or city, levels 5+ within a small region, 10+ within a country, and even higher all around the world... Whether or not you'd be noticed depends on what it is you do.

From some novels you get the impression that if you are not epic level, all your character can hope to do is clean Elminster's boots... but if you look at the levels of many important NPCs, it's not really that bad.

2009-06-02, 03:58 PM
depends on the area and the profession, if you're a dirt farmer in the western heartlands then you'd be lucky to scrape 5th by the time you kick it. If you're a wheeler-dealer thief asscociate businessman with an eye on the main chance in Calimport you'll be in the mid levels for Expert with a couple of rogue tacked on.

If you're talking world or at least county shakers then level 17+ casters are what you need, you can be a local heavy melee type but if you want to be gallivanting around shaking your tail feather you need the weave as your B%^^h.

2009-06-02, 04:14 PM
Heh, I'm looking to use Leadership to seed an information ring, and I was wondering how high level my informants could be without drawing suspicion.

2009-06-02, 04:19 PM
Any place in particular? Some places are harder than others. However, you really shouldn't have a big problem with that. As long as your informants do not make spectacles of themselves few people should notice them. In fact, I would argue that the stronger and more skilled your people are, the less notice they will draw, if that is their intent.

2009-06-02, 04:22 PM
Cormyr and the Dalelands, primarily.

Justin B.
2009-06-02, 04:32 PM
Just make sure they are Rogues and Bards. Rogues with social skills are the best as being unnoticed, and nobody turns their head when a Bard is asking questions. Make sure they've got high Bluff, high Sense Motive, and the Rogues are going to need Disguise and the like.

2009-06-02, 04:39 PM
Wouldn't they be more likely to be Experts?

Zeta Kai
2009-06-02, 04:43 PM
Yeah, I get the sense from the campaign book, the novels, & the online supplements (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/archfr/frbk) that if you're not level 18 or above, you're not fit to live. Or at least, you're not worth of note in the annals of the Realms.

Justin B.
2009-06-02, 05:19 PM
Wouldn't they be more likely to be Experts?

Possibly. It depends on what you want them to be able to do. I see an information network as people who are well connected with various ways of soliciting knowledge without being found out. That would imply stealth, stealth implies Rogues.

Bards are just all around helpful for that kind of thing.

Though an Expert with the right skills could easily be included.

2009-06-02, 05:44 PM
Yeah, I get the sense from the campaign book, the novels, & the online supplements (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/archfr/frbk) that if you're not level 18 or above, you're not fit to live. Or at least, you're not worth of note in the annals of the Realms.
It's not that you aren't "fit to live", it's that those sources only note the really important people, like country leaders, masters of crime rings, and other such luminaries. Seeing as how the Realms is amazingly fleshed out, there are a large number of powerful people. If we put 2 and 2 together, we find that the Realms isn't that anti-low levels, it just has a larger than usual number of powerful individuals, who are by their nature higher level. Since books sell better by talking about cool and powerful folks, it only makes sense that there seems to be only high level characters.

Really, one can run a Realms campaign in the mid levels (5-14 or so) and it'll be fine. The beauty of the Realms is that if you wish to run a game at level 17, there are still opponents. Same at level 1, since the wilderness still exists and has greenback characters. It's why I love the setting.

2009-06-02, 06:00 PM
Heh, I'm looking to use Leadership to seed an information ring, and I was wondering how high level my informants could be without drawing suspicion.

Any level. Why would it matter? If they've got NPC classes, or are Rogues, Fighters, or even Rangers or Bards, they're not going to be that distinctive no matter what their level. I can see high-level full casters - Wizards, Sorcerers, Druids, and Clerics - as being more noticeable, especially if they employ magic, but that's it.

2009-06-02, 06:03 PM
In my campaign, average level would be 2nd-3rd: probabily, a farmer in Dalelands would be a 2nd level Commoner, especially in quieter dales, while an attorney in Suzail could be a 3rd or even 4th level Expert.

For what concerns NPC level, I made up sort of a system which allows non-adventuring characters to develop a bit of experience, thus increasing their abilities. In my opinion, experience is gained as a reward for response to stimuli. No matter which type of stimulus one receives, if the reaction is good, experience should be gained: this means that stimuli are a very subjective matter, depending on each NPC's personal inclinations and motivations. Who said that only challenging and beating monster earns XP?
Let's make an example. In my opinion, if someone decided to take levels in expert to become and architect, extensively studying gnomish tomes about building, dwarven essays on stoneworking and sort, he should earn XP in reaction to different stimuli than, say, a Rogue. So, for example, the reading of a particularly renowned book on engineering, written by a famous Gnome architect, would definitely be a strong stimulus to him, and he would earn XP for this task. On the other hand, if he choose to become an architect, but limited to borrowing low-level books from a library, without extending his knowledges, then stimuli would be very rare and he wouldn't gain much experience (so thorough application pays off, as in real world...). This is why a common farmer in a remote country doesn't normally gain many levels: he spends his life plowing the soil, without stimuli; while a Master Weaponsmith, frequently employed by nobles, churches and even the King, to craft exquisite weapons for cerimonies, as well as sturdy longswords for guards and soldiers, would be subject to a lot of stimuli, thus gaining many levels.

In practice, this means that I assign a monthly XP reward to NPC whose amount is based on a rough determination of the amount of stimuli she receives: for high-stimuli lifes, the NPC gets from 40 to 100 XP per month, which means that in 20 years of thorough application, he could reach the 7th-8th level, and een more on a greater timespan, not counting particular bonuses for extraordinary tasks (as would be, for an architect, to design and build a grand mansion); low-stimuli lives would instead get 10 to 20 XP per month, thus giving birth to low level NPC. This calculation assumes a linear growth, without taking in account that age could prevent application. But adding this feature would make the system far too complicate...
Note: obviously, this system works for Humans. Applying this system to long lived races, such as Elves, would result in overtly powerful Commoners. The solution is making a simple proportion between one Human year and the equivalent [Race] year, obtaining the ratio from age categories on PH.