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View Full Version : 2e level progression vs. 3e



Ozreth
2011-04-17, 03:51 AM
So I sat in on a 2e game the other night, and it was my first time seeing the system in action. I really liked what I saw and will be joining the game.

Anyways, after talking to some of the people in the group I learned that several of the players have been playing that same campaign for 10 years now...and the highest character level is 10!

Now, I understand that 2e level progression is much slower than 3e, but THAT much slower? Is this typical? How do people feel about this? Do people ever speed it up? I like slow progression but I dont know about that.

Thoughts? Insights?

Yora
2011-04-17, 04:15 AM
For the most part, it all depends on how many encounters you have per session.
At 2 to 3 encounters per session, you get a new level about every 5 sessions. At 2 sessions per months (which I think is quite good) it takes 25 months to reach 10th level, which is over 2 years. If you play at a slower pace, that can easily extend to 5 years.

Ozreth
2011-04-17, 04:19 AM
This group plays almost every single thursday.

Matthew
2011-04-17, 05:07 AM
Generally you get a quick advancement up until about level six, but from then on it is not really about the levels as you are already punching pretty hard. I guess maybe for the spell casters it matters more, but it is pretty typical for levels to be hard earned over the course of years. Ten years to reach tenth level is maybe a bit extreme, but it depends on what they are comfortable with. The AD&D second edition DMG basically says "advance at whatever rate you like". As an analogue the last long term campaign I played was about three years, thirty sessions a year, and the player characters were just hitting sixth level.

Ozreth
2011-04-17, 05:09 AM
Generally you get a quick advancement up until about level six, but from then on it is not really about the levels as you are already punching pretty hard. I guess maybe for the spell casters it matters more, but it is pretty typical for levels to be hard earned over the course of years. Ten years to reach tenth level is maybe a bit extreme, but it depends on what they are comfortable with. The AD&D second edition DMG basically says "advance at whatever rate you like". As an analogue the last long term campaign I played was about three years, thirty sessions a year, and the player characters were just hitting sixth level.

I see. Is there any rate that is "typical" of ad&d groups?

Matthew
2011-04-17, 05:23 AM
I see. Is there any rate that is "typical" of ad&d groups?

The DMG does suggest a typical rate of three to six adventures per level, but how many sessions that equates to is not too clear. Most people at Dragonsfoot seem to feel that the early levels should be relatively quick, if I recall from the various polls, and my own experience is probably somewhat longer than typical. Of course, because Dragonsfooters are an older crowd that meet less regularly than in their youth, it is to be expected perhaps that faster advancement might be favoured now. At any rate (pun intended), this is what the DMG says:



Rate of Advancement

The AD&D game is intentionally very flexible concerning how slowly or quickly characters earn experience--in general, this is left to the discretion of the DM. Some players prefer a game of slow advancement, allowing them time to develop and explore imaginary personalities. Other players like a much faster pace and a definite feeling of progress. Each DM and his players will likely settle into a pace that best suits their group, without even realizing it.

There is only one hard and fast rule concerning advancement. Player characters should never advance more than one level per time experience is awarded. If a gaming session ends and a character has earned enough experience points to advance two levels, the excess points are lost. The DM should give the character enough experience to place him somewhere between halfway and one point below the next highest level.

An average pace in an AD&D game campaign is considered to be three to six adventures per level, with more time per level as the characters reach higher levels. However, it is possible to advance as quickly as one level per adventure or as slowly as 10 or more adventures per level. The DM should listen to his players.

If the players are enjoying themselves and aren't complaining about "not getting anywhere," then things are fine. If, on the other hand, they grouse about how they never get any better or they're quickly reaching the highest levels in the game, the pace of advancement probably needs to be adjusted. This, like much that deals with awarding experience, may not come to a DM immediately. Let experience be your guide.

Zombimode
2011-04-17, 05:28 AM
So I sat in on a 2e game the other night, and it was my first time seeing the system in action. I really liked what I saw and will be joining the game.

Anyways, after talking to some of the people in the group I learned that several of the players have been playing that same campaign for 10 years now...and the highest character level is 10!

Now, I understand that 2e level progression is much slower than 3e, but THAT much slower? Is this typical? How do people feel about this? Do people ever speed it up? I like slow progression but I dont know about that.

Thoughts? Insights?

Hm, 10 years seem long. In my active 2e time, we played for 3-4 years and were level 7 at the end. In the smaller campaigns that followed, it was a bit faster.
It pretty much boils down to what kind of exp the DM hands out.
Fighting generally doesnt provide much in terms of exp in 2e. Especially if you fight weaker but more numerous enemies who are together as much a threat as a single stronger enemy but give less exp. If the DM doesnt houserule the exp values by ie. a scaling mechanism that take the numerical ratio into account, just leveling up by fighting will take quite a while.

There are rules for "individual exp" but in 2e they where an optional rule. They included exp for treasures (calculated with the GP value), hit dice of defeated enemies and some other stuff. I mostly ignored them for several reasons and I can imagine that other DMs do it too.

At last, there are "story exp". The DMG talks about it briefly and it is sort of assumed they are given. But since there are no numbers given, I can see how some DMs might ignore them or make them marginal.
It took me some years but I eventually came up with my own system for non-combat exp. Under this system the PC gained the majority of their exp by "accomplishments", personal or external.

Bottom line: the speed of level advancement comes down to the preferences of the group. Since these guy are playing for 10 years, it is probably safe to assume that this is the speed they are comfortable with.

Edit: double ninjaed by Matthew :smallwink:

Skaven
2011-04-17, 06:15 AM
Its essentially entirely up to how generous / stingy the GM is and how much you fight. Also keep in mind level 10 in 2e means a lot more than level 10 in 3rd.

Many DM's I have played with do not give XP for avoiding encounters for example, even if the DMG says if you work to avoid an encounter if means you defeated it.

I played in a 3rd ed game for 5 years and only made 13th level, for example. And we played every week with only breaks for Christmas.

I guess some groups move slower and RP more too. Fights can take up a few hours time, which can lead to slower progression.

dsmiles
2011-04-17, 06:51 AM
Oh, how I loved the progression in the older editions. A table for each class gave it a little more balance between the classes. Nowadays, everyone levelling at the same rate just throws off the balance. IMO, wizards and clerics should level slower then fighters and rogues, it gives the fighters and rogues a chance to be spectacular for a while (instead of craptastic the whole game). :smallamused:

Yora
2011-04-17, 06:52 AM
With the multiclassing rules, wizards need to level as fast as everyone else. But they shouldn't get new spell levels every second new level.

dsmiles
2011-04-17, 07:34 AM
Can't comment on that. I never multi-classed with wizard in AD&D. My favorites were Dwarven Fighter/Thieves, or Half-Elf Thieves, or (in 1e only) Human Fighter 5/(dual-class) Thief 6/(dual-class) Druid 7/(dual-class) Bards. (Now, that's how bards were meant to be. :smallbiggrin:)

DonEsteban
2011-04-17, 07:39 AM
Let's not start another "why fighters suck" debate here for once, shall we? Please?

Two quick points I wanted to add: Some classes (druids especially) have a very slow advancement rate at high levels. That in itself is neither good nor bad, it all depends on how much you gain each level...
And don't forget about level drain. Many undead drain levels and this is (usually) permanent. I once knew a paladin who had advanced to level 12 three or four times...

Vknight
2011-04-17, 08:20 AM
Again its a combination of things.

The slow rate. How stingy a Dm is. Level Drain. Instant death and low hp totals.

Sadly for myself a player of mine wanted to Dm. He did but took his 2e ideas into the 4e game and after the 3rd encounter were we had just killed a white dragon we didn't level. Note the battles before involved hobgoblins at the MonsterManual stats, meaning we were notably upset

Shpadoinkle
2011-04-17, 09:11 AM
Seems pretty atypical to me. I've played in a few weekly 2e campaigns with different groups, and generally we went from level 1-ish to level 8-ish within the span of maybe five or six months. I don't know what the group you sat in on is doing, but ten years to reach level ten seems incredibly excessive to me.

Frozen_Feet
2011-04-17, 09:25 AM
How you considered they might not be playing the same characters they started with anymore?

It might be their older characters died, and they switched over to play lower-level retainers. It might be they've been systematically retiring characters that get past level 14 mark or something, and starting over with their offspring or something.

Same campaign doesn't necessarily mean same characters. Character development doesn't have to be a smooth upward curve in any version of D&D.

Runestar
2011-04-17, 09:31 AM
I have heard stories of how some people took years to gain a single level in 2e. So it is definitely the rules. :smalltongue:

Zombimode
2011-04-17, 09:43 AM
I have heard stories of how some people took years to gain a single level in 2e. So it is definitely the rules. :smalltongue:

If you would have read Matthews and my posting and the quote out of the DMG Matthew provided, you would see that "slow progression" is EXACTLY as encouraged by the rules as fast progression.

The same goes to you, Vknight: the DM you mentioned didnt took his "2e ideas" into 4e. Because the "2e idea" behind leveling is (as you can read in the quote) "as fast or as slow as the game group is comfortable with". Your example seems to be pretty much the opposite.

Mark Hall
2011-04-17, 08:25 PM
Two Words: LEVEL. DRAIN.

It's a good way to utterly trash a party's average level. :smallbiggrin:

rayne_dragon
2011-04-17, 09:37 PM
From what I recall of my AD&D days it took us 2-4 (failed) adventures for the survivors of all three adventures to level up once. Of course, since only two players survived those adventures, the rest of us were still level one. This was also back when I was 12 or so...

One of these days I need to play AD&D and not have my character die on an adventure. :smallwink:

Knaight
2011-04-17, 10:00 PM
Oh, how I loved the progression in the older editions. A table for each class gave it a little more balance between the classes. Nowadays, everyone levelling at the same rate just throws off the balance. IMO, wizards and clerics should level slower then fighters and rogues, it gives the fighters and rogues a chance to be spectacular for a while (instead of craptastic the whole game). :smallamused:

No, making everyone level at the same rate, then completely forgetting to take that into account when writing the classes is what broke the balance. Well, that and the rather drastic screwing around with hit points and damage.

Talakeal
2011-04-17, 10:23 PM
I played second edition after school for one hour a week 9 months out of the year, with a longer 4-6 hour session once per month. At the end of two years we were all between 8-10. I was the highest level, just short of 11, not making it is my greatest regret : (

That being said, we played with full XP for treasure (and 2nd ed modules gave a lot of treasure), the individual class awards, storyline XP, and double XP for monsters defeated in single combat. I have been told that after you hit name level you rarely level more than once a year.

olthar
2011-04-17, 11:35 PM
I DM'd 2e (and first) for about 6 years and never had a character get past 8th level.

It, as everyone has said, depends on the DM, but I imagine that more often than not people didn't go too far. First and 2nd editions didn't really figure in epic levels. First edition didn't have it at all, and 2nd edition statted everything out to 20 and then said "here there be more levels."

Another thing 2e did was give static exp amounts for monsters. An orc was worth 15 exp at level 1 and it was still worth 15 exp at level 20. The encounter difficulty thing really increased exp progression rates.

Ozreth
2011-04-17, 11:36 PM
Another thing 2e did was give static exp amounts for monsters. An orc was worth 15 exp at level 1 and it was still worth 15 exp at level 20.

I like that.

Jarawara
2011-04-17, 11:53 PM
Oh, how I loved the progression in the older editions. A table for each class gave it a little more balance between the classes. Nowadays, everyone levelling at the same rate just throws off the balance. IMO, wizards and clerics should level slower then fighters and rogues, it gives the fighters and rogues a chance to be spectacular for a while (instead of craptastic the whole game). :smallamused:

Except that in the earlier editions, clerics advanced faster than the fighters, and through the mid levels, even wizards advanced faster than fighters.

Everyone leveling at the same rate ended up helping the poor fighter, as it allowed him to keep level pace with the wizard and cleric. (At least on paper. In reality, we all know how badly the fighter fell behind.)

As for the rate of leveling overall, it's all about how fast your group wants to advance - and that has nothing to do with editions. In my Tiatia campaign, we've just completed the ninth year of gaming. We game every week, 10 hour sessions (in an online chat, so that's probably 3-4 hours equivalent gaming at a tabletop; online chat games are ***slow***). So that's 450ish gamesession. Same characters, nobody ever died, nobody got level-drained. The characters just advanced to.... 6th level.

We like our games low level, slow level advancement.

Talakeal
2011-04-18, 12:08 AM
Except that in the earlier editions, clerics advanced faster than the fighters, and through the mid levels, even wizards advanced faster than fighters.

Everyone leveling at the same rate ended up helping the poor fighter, as it allowed him to keep level pace with the wizard and cleric. (At least on paper. In reality, we all know how badly the fighter fell behind.)

As for the rate of leveling overall, it's all about how fast your group wants to advance - and that has nothing to do with editions. In my Tiatia campaign, we've just completed the ninth year of gaming. We game every week, 10 hour sessions (in an online chat, so that's probably 3-4 hours equivalent gaming at a tabletop; online chat games are ***slow***). So that's 450ish gamesession. Same characters, nobody ever died, nobody got level-drained. The characters just advanced to.... 6th level.

We like our games low level, slow level advancement.

Maybe we were all idiots back then (its likely, I played second edition from about ages 8-18) but it always seemed that fighters types were the overpowered characters and mages always fell behind. Of course, we didn't use as many save or suck spells as we probably should have, but still, that doesn't seem to be a big problem until mid-high level.

huttj509
2011-04-18, 01:01 AM
Maybe we were all idiots back then (its likely, I played second edition from about ages 8-18) but it always seemed that fighters types were the overpowered characters and mages always fell behind. Of course, we didn't use as many save or suck spells as we probably should have, but still, that doesn't seem to be a big problem until mid-high level.

Things were kinda different in 2e. Only fighters getting extra attacks, if I recall correctly, casting wasn't as quick and easy as in later editions, etc.

Ozreth
2011-04-18, 04:01 AM
Has anybody used the slower advancement rules in the 3.0 or 3.5 DMG in their 3e games? Or perhaps a method of your own?

What do you guys think about slowing down advancement in 3.x? Is it as easy to alter as in earlier editions or does it ruin everything else?

Killer Angel
2011-04-18, 04:13 AM
Anyways, after talking to some of the people in the group I learned that several of the players have been playing that same campaign for 10 years now...and the highest character level is 10!


It's really the same campaign during 10 years?
if so, kudos to the DM.
But if there is an alternance of 2 or 3 campaigns, then we're talking 'bout 3-5 years, and it can be OK.


Has anybody used the slower advancement rules in the 3.0 or 3.5 DMG in their 3e games?

Nope

Ozreth
2011-04-18, 04:26 AM
It's really the same campaign during 10 years?
if so, kudos to the DM.


Yup, exact same campaign, set in the Realms.

3 of the players have been there from the beginning. 2 joined in about four years later. Only one character has died and apparently light tears were shed when it happened and they stopped playing for about a month. Other than that they have met just about every single thursday for 10 years.

ken-do-nim
2011-04-18, 05:14 AM
I played second edition after school for one hour a week 9 months out of the year, with a longer 4-6 hour session once per month. At the end of two years we were all between 8-10. I was the highest level, just short of 11, not making it is my greatest regret : (

That being said, we played with full XP for treasure (and 2nd ed modules gave a lot of treasure), the individual class awards, storyline XP, and double XP for monsters defeated in single combat. I have been told that after you hit name level you rarely level more than once a year.

That's basically how I prefer my 2E as well, xp-wise. AD&D 1E can actually see faster advancement than 2E because 1 XP for 1 GP is not an optional rule, and you get XP from magic items sold. 2E leaves advancement up to the DM, and it gives some an excuse to go really slow. I actually found it hard to avoid myself when running 2E; I think that was my slowest advancing game.

dsmiles
2011-04-18, 07:12 AM
That's basically how I prefer my 2E as well, xp-wise. AD&D 1E can actually see faster advancement than 2E because 1 XP for 1 GP is not an optional rule, and you get XP from magic items sold.
Don't forget gaining XP for making magic items, you know, the way it should have stayed.

klemdakherzbag
2011-04-18, 11:52 AM
Of course you will run into outlier groups like mine in which each character just leveled four (4) times in one session. DM fiat enabled this of course - a friendly Rakshasa and his old gypsy crony each bumping us up two levels. Now with great power comes a price, we only have to clear his kingdom of a menace to the throne and his army of giants (oh fun)

The Cat Goddess
2011-04-18, 02:59 PM
Last time I we played 2e... I played a Ranger/Cleric, my Cousin played a Paladin (with an 8 Dex) and the third player was a Fighter/Magic User/Thief (we always kidded him about every character he played, no matter the system, was a "something, something, thief").

We ended up going through the G-series ("Against the Giants"). At the end, the Paladin married the Drow woman he had converted to good. My character ended up travelling alone, hunting giants and the Thief left to become a pirate lord. The Paladin was level 14, I'd reached 11/12 (I think) and the Thief was 9/10/10 if I remember right. It took us 2 years of playing, every Saturday. Usually 6-10 hours per session.

awa
2011-04-19, 06:34 AM
leveling will slow down as the game progresses because (depending on optimization) fights will take longer each character has more options and more actions so each individual turn takes longer, every one has more health so the fight takes a lot longer and therefore you get less fights in a session.

Caliphbubba
2011-04-21, 06:53 AM
hmm from personal experiance I have to pretty much say there is no standard rate of progression for 2ed games.

The most recent game I've been in has been going on for about ~8 years. We play once a month. The game started at ~3 level (depending on what class you were, and if you multi-classed). I'm 14th level now, as a single class wizard. We have a 20th level "Handler" (thief) Kender in the party as well. With everyone one generally falling into the 13-20 range.

Prevsiously to that I had several campaigns running concurrently with the same group. We played every week for a number of years, and then every OTHER week. But we were playing 3 games on a rotating schduel so that one person didn't have all the DMing duties. Most of those progressed at roughly the same rate, and I would say that we gained 1-3 levels per year of real-time play.

The general trend I've always observed is that leveling slows down to a crawl between level 7-10, and then in MY case the DMs realize that only the Thief has leveled in the last year, and they start giving faster XP awards.