View Full Version : Which level to start at?

2010-02-23, 10:33 PM
Which level do you other DMs prefer to start campaigns at? I have found that I like 3rd level. The characters can take a little abuse, and have some cool abilities without being a world-influencing power.

2010-02-23, 10:35 PM
3rd is pretty much my favourite to start at, as well.

2010-02-23, 10:37 PM
I like 1st, just cause I like low-levels of play. :smallamused: I'm in the minority though.

2010-02-23, 10:38 PM
First. Start low, grow to big. 1-20 campaigns are absolutely my favorite, but it takes a GM who's not afraid to push things into the mid levels quickly.

2010-02-23, 10:38 PM
I like first.

When not DMing, I hate starting higher than first. If its a long campaign, I feel almost cheated.

2010-02-23, 10:41 PM
Depends on the campaign. As I'm not big on 3-20 marathons, I prefer starting up on a level that just feels workable at that point. Mostly, I prefer not to start under 3 (too few HP, too little customization, overall too random feel), and not over 25 (low epic is powerful enough). There's a place for everything in-between.

I do have a thing for characters of near-epic power in planar adventures to truly save/destroy the multiverse though; 15-17 would probably be the golden area IMHO. Of course, I fully appreciate that it's hard to DM and challenge party of that level (especially when you have half a billion abuses to avoid and spells to more-or-less houserule), but when a DM feels up for it, I find it can result in incredibly awesome games. And of course, a low-level game every now and then is awesome.

2010-02-23, 10:41 PM
1st level as both a player and DM. I enjoy the early levels.

2010-02-23, 10:42 PM
10th is around where everyone has awesome goodies without being completely unmanageable, so that's where I like to play in modules/short stuff. Long campaigns need more room for growth and so should probably start lower; somewhere in the 1-5 range, depending on expected campaign length and character power growth rate.

2010-02-23, 10:44 PM
As someone who has played more than I've DMed, I'd say 6th at the lowest.

Levels 1 and 2 suck, quite frankly. Spellcasters can't cast and everyone is at risk of instant death from any moron with an axe.

Starting at level six, people can have their first level of a PrC, letting them define their characters. It's also a high enough level that spellcasters have access to Fireball, while the melee/ranged characters get a second attack.

2010-02-23, 10:47 PM
Start at level 1, earn those levels, man.

2010-02-23, 11:01 PM
My group tends to play pseudo-realistic e6 without actually calling it that. As such level 1-2 is generally where we start.

The Dark Fiddler
2010-02-23, 11:08 PM
Level 1, man! All but one of our campaigns so far started at level 1, and I love that dangerous feel you don't otherwise get in our group (whoever's DMing usually avoids PC death, myself included).

Doesn't last long though, since our campaigns are fairly short. Usually a level up a session.

2010-02-23, 11:23 PM
Actually never started level 1, as the people I tend to play with prefer ~4.

I think level 1 would be my favorite, however. Yes, things can lean towards rocket-tag, but that also means things can lead to more tactical thinking, because you can't necessarily going toe-to-toe even with unoptimized MM monsters.

My second choice would be 10-12 in a higher-power campaign, where things really start to get interesting and powerful classes really come into their own.

2010-02-23, 11:52 PM
Depends on the system.

With AD&D 2E, I tended to prefer to start games with around 10,000 XP~15,000 XP. 1st level is way too punishing and random for my tastes.

With D&D 3.5E, I tend to prefer to start games at level 4. 1st level is a bit too punishing and random to my tastes still.

With D&D 4E, I tend to prefer to start games at level 11 or 12. 1st level is... not punishing enough and you are coupled with boring abilities as well.

Tequila Sunrise
2010-02-24, 12:06 AM
Wow, a lot of people like 1st level. :smalleek:

Personally, I'm sick of 1st level regardless of edition.

In 3e the first two levels are the 'comic apprentice' levels: seriously, the rogue is overhand chopping with his rapier because he can't get Weapon Finesse until 3rd, the wizard blows a couple spells and then has to completely rely on the fighter -- who happens to be the only one in the group who can do his job with a modicum of competence. So I like to start 3e at at least 3rd level, if not 6th.

In 4e you're at least competent at 1st level, but you only have one encounter and one daily power. Frankly, I've played the heroic tier all that I want to, so I like to start 4e games at 11th or 21st level.

My preferences might have something to do with the fact that I've never played a campaign for more than 5 levels that didn't have drastically accelerated XP. Do you all really get to play long term games consistently? And if so, where can I sign up?

2010-02-24, 12:26 AM
I enjoy low and mid levels as well, though I don't care much for 1-3. The vulnerable feel is pretty cool since I enjoy games with at least some risk factor, but the severe vulnerability at those low levels is a bit much. I don't mind games that start at level 1, but I think my optimum/ideal starting level is around 5.

I think my favorite to play is the 10-15 range. Cool stuff, far enough along to be developing builds/PrCs, more relative balance, but not too out of control yet and with plenty to still look forward to.

2010-02-24, 12:31 AM
Starting at 4 or higher. Anything lower is too random.

2010-02-24, 12:33 AM
3rd here. 1st and second are too swingy

6th is another great choice - the 1st level of a PrC can make a huge difference in defining a character, plus you should have enough BAB (if martial or semi-martial) to qualify for any feat or PrC you really want - such as Zen Archery.

2010-02-24, 01:10 AM
It entirely depends on the campaign world. My campaign world? About 9. Just high enough level to kick some random soldier's butt, nowhere near strong enough to make a serious bid at taking over a country.

This is also about the level where you can start really taking advantage of everything D&D has to offer like traveling to different planes.

Edit: Though I love 1st in pretty much any scenario with the standard assumption of almost everyone being a level 1 commoner. This may be because I've never seen anyone actually die at level 1.

2010-02-24, 01:28 AM
Third level. It's just the perfect starting point:
The PCs are in danger but are not perpetually in a paranoid state of "I'm almost dead" that comes from being levels 1-2 (commoners must live their entire lives gripped by fear)
Weaker templates and LA>0 races are usable, but it's one level too low for players to try out their stupid Thri-Kreen ideas. Also (mostly) prevents players from trying out ridiculously suboptimal races.
Early one/two level dips are done and people are generally in their preferred class now
Those who are single-classed have enough of their class features to fully feel like a member of that class (not just a commoner with a single psionic power or the like), since some classes like to slowly give out their central features just to fill dead levels...
There is still time to help players build their characters as they go. Certain players simply can't be trusted to make a competent warrior, and they would wind up doing it on their own if the campaign started higher.

2010-02-24, 01:29 AM
first is pretty good, but i think it's more fun to DM for third, you can through more stuff at them that way. Ugh I did start at level 9 once, that was a mistake, there were new players who didn't know all their abilities if was mess.

2010-02-24, 01:36 AM
I like to start between 6th-9th level. Low level characters are too generic and random. I'm also not into super long games. I'm not sure I'd want a campaign arc to last more than a year, at most (I prefer about 6 months). And I'd want to finish the game at least 18th level or so.

So for a "standard" game, starting at 1 and getting to 20 in 6-8 months isn't really possible with the amount of time we play (we'd have to level almost every single session). So starting higher is a must for the games I like.

2010-02-24, 01:39 AM
I tend to think that the levels 1-4 are the golden age of characters, where they still shine in their area of expertize, but aren't outshined by wizards. So I prefer to start at level 1, I don't mind slow leveling either, as long as there are other kinds of progress to be made.

2010-02-24, 01:41 AM
Third and 8th are best. Third for the above reasons. 8th because your character finally has some abilities that starts to make them unique and powerful, and you've got a few levels of that prc you wanted to try, but you haven't gotten the really good stuff yet.

2010-02-24, 01:44 AM
Weaker templates and LA>0 races are usable, but it's one level too low for players to try out their stupid Thri-Kreen ideas.
This is exactly why I don't like low level play, because it basically forces you to follow the NPC guidelines until you level up enough to add some variety. But if I wanted to be stuck with Joe Generic, I wouldn't be playing D&D.

2010-02-24, 02:22 AM
Generally my groups will start anywhere from 4 to 12 or so and range up no higher than about 16-17. The ones starting lower tend to end around 10 or so.

We are about to try E6 and the plan is to start at 3, it will be very different than our current campaign starting at 9 and going to around 13.

2010-02-24, 02:26 AM
I really don't see the point in playing first level.

Using the Internet Archive to get this from Mutedfaith.com

[from [email protected], who got the idea from reallifecomic.com.]

DM: You attempt to strike at A Goblin. You miss. The goblin attempts to strike. It misses.

Player: I try again.

DM: You attempt to strike at A Goblin. You miss. The goblin attempts to strike. It misses.

Player: Again.

*about fifteen minutes of this passes*

DM: You attempt to strike at A Goblin. You miss.... The goblin attempts to strike. It misses......

Player: Ugh.

DM: Suddenly, the goblin decides it is worthless and no longer deserves to live. It throws a suicide roll...

DM: ...And misses. *cry*

2010-02-24, 03:31 AM
We started a new campaign at level 6 recently.

It's still pretty low, but you get a lot of possibilities (including LA's (templates/races), which is not possible at lvl 1 (or at least more difficult)).

2010-02-24, 03:39 AM
StuffThe only times I've encountered this was in Fallout 2 at the temple of trials. In table top the barbarian had no problem hitting and one-shotting and cleaving through to the next enemy every round.
In a different session I made two kobolds fall to their deaths by a well placed Grease (placed on a natural bridge).

If anything the problem is that you die too easily. But I don't see that as a problem myself, since it makes life more precious and encourages the players to think through their actions if they value their lives.

2010-02-24, 03:51 AM
From level 1. And we usually go to Epic.. we like to see how the game changes through levels.

I like the concept that the fighter starts as a city guard slightly more skilled, the wizard is an educated commoner, and then they grow and gain awesome.

I like the fact that you do not start as an hero, you become an hero, you EARN it.

Yes, level 1 is very random... but frail PC make smart and imaginative players. :smallcool:

2010-02-24, 03:55 AM
If the game was meant to start anywhere else, it wouldn't be called level 1.