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druid91
2015-12-07, 05:55 PM
I will be honest, I've never much seen the appeal in starting at level 1. I could understand it as necessary for certain tales. But I feel like a lot of the time it's forcing you to play a mostly defenseless schmuck for the sake of playing a mostly defenseless schmuck and 'earning' your levels.

Speaking mostly of D&D here. Because most other games I've played don't seem to have that feeling of 'you're level 1. You're SUPPOSED to suck.' going with them.

Most games I've seen have only ever really gotten started at level 5-6. Before that was just a mad scramble to not die.

Hiro Protagonest
2015-12-07, 05:59 PM
Because it's where you start. Every video game starts you at 1, with only a couple exceptions like Dark Souls (where each level is one stat increase and you start at 1-6). Starting at a level that's not 1 feels like modifying or outright cheating the intended experience.

Geddy2112
2015-12-07, 05:59 PM
For some people(myself included) there is just as much fun of starting off being a humble joe blow and becoming a BAMF, as there is to starting with some backstory. I like both, and nothing wrong if you don't like level 1. I also totally understand not liking the squishy nature of being a fresh off the boat X, one bad roll away from death.

Luke Skywalker is cool because he started off as a level 1 fighter, with a useless rank in profession:moisture farmer. Following the rise to high level jedi knight is part of the awesome factor. For me at least.

DigoDragon
2015-12-07, 06:05 PM
I will be honest, I've never much seen the appeal in starting at level 1.

And that's okay! It's not an uncommon feeling to have, even with some GMs. In the D&D games I have played in, I'd estimate about 40-50% of them started at level 2-3. Low, but not completely squishy. I personally like level 1, but I'm fine with bumping the starting mark a little.

I do agree that around level 5-6 is where your character is really into their "Groove". Well, not personally as I never had a D&D character that high, but as a GM I can see that around then is where character builds really start to get specific and players have found their zone for their character's abilities to shine best.

Anxe
2015-12-07, 06:14 PM
Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
In D&D you begin with a level 1 PC


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RW3nDRmu6k

YossarianLives
2015-12-07, 06:18 PM
I Anxe just won this thread...

snacksmoto
2015-12-07, 07:10 PM
Origin stories. That is the time when the protagonists are always at their most vulnerable, when they have to use their meagre abilities to their fullest and with the most ingenuity. In my opinion, it is in the early levels that a player gets to understand their characters the best, their decisions, their motivations, in the character's rise in power and ability.
Now, as another person has mentioned, there's nothing wrong with bumping the characters up a bit to be less squishy but still vulnerable if that's your preference.

Beowulf DW
2015-12-07, 07:11 PM
The level 1 start works for the classic hero's tale, where an inexperienced kid grows into a hero. However, for other kinds of tales, it doesn't quite fit. Who would ever believe that Drizz't was level 1 when he came to the surface? Who would think that Kenshin Himura was level 1 when he first went to Kyoto? Martin the Warrior certainly wasn't level 1 when he made his debut.

Hero's tales work mostly because there's usually one or two more competent people hanging around to make sure things get done, but if you have a group of farm boys out to slay the evil wizard, what often happens is half/most of them die, and then the sequel picks up with the survivors hardened by the loss and vastly more competent. Nobody wants to be the backstory to another player, that's what we spend two hours before the first session trying to do!

Making a story about experienced and skilled characters (which seems to come a bit easier to me as I get older) tends to entail starting after level 1 just to make it feel like you're competent at what you do.

BootStrapTommy
2015-12-07, 07:46 PM
Personally I hate level 1. Played and run so many campaigns, the tropes that plague of the game's early levels have started to get on my nerves. As a DM, I have so much more flexibility at higher levels, which let's me feel a whole lot more creative with what challenges I can throw at my players. The early game just don't have that. It's all oversized animals and brainless mooks with swords...

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-07, 08:02 PM
I don't really like starting at level 1 though it doesn't bother me much since I stick to 5e and you're not going to stay level one for more than one or two sessions at most. What I really dislike is when someone new joins a campaign and they're forced to start at level 1 while everyone else is 4-5. It just seems really crappy towards the new player, and annoying for the group to have to basically carry around a sack of flour for the next couple of games.

Âmesang
2015-12-07, 08:05 PM
I'm a big fan of starting at 1st-level…or at least "low-level," seeing a lowly character slowly grow in strength over time; it also doesn't help that I was really obsessed with high/epic-level some years back to the point of suffering severe burn out, so the act of starting out low in my last major game and slowly reaching high level felt more comforting and refreshing.

Yeah, I still can't wait to reach each level and experience the new spells and abilities, but I'm fine with the progression being nice 'n easy at the moment.

(In that line of thought I still enjoy coming up with new, "reasonable" epic spells — not really a big fan of "mitigating down to zero." :smallyuk:)

snacksmoto
2015-12-07, 08:32 PM
I don't really like starting at level 1 though it doesn't bother me much since I stick to 5e and you're not going to stay level one for more than one or two sessions at most. What I really dislike is when someone new joins a campaign and they're forced to start at level 1 while everyone else is 4-5. It just seems really crappy towards the new player, and annoying for the group to have to basically carry around a sack of flour for the next couple of games.

In my opinion, that amount of difference in level is a hindrance to the game especially with low level characters. It might be worth it for the table if new characters come in at the group's level, or a level behind, with a more developed backstory.

Mark Hall
2015-12-07, 08:38 PM
In most versions of D&D, 1st level also tends to be the point where classes are most balanced, so everyone contributes. As levels climb, spellcasters in a lot of D&D-likes start to dominate, and that tends to sideline a lot of character concepts... "I'm a powerful warrior" doesn't mean much when the other guy can say "And I just turned to you into a flounder. Sure, it only lasts for 10 minutes, but you'll have suffocated by then."

TheIronGolem
2015-12-07, 08:53 PM
I like starting at level 1*, but at the same time I reject the notion that being 1st level is supposed to mean you're some dope who's still figuring out which end of the sword you hold. A 1st-level D&D fighter has mastered the use of 95% of all weapons that exist in his world. A 1st-level cleric can literally perform miracles. Even a monk - the weakest class in 3.x - is perfectly capable of killing an average person with his bare hands in the space of five seconds.

I look at level as a pure game construct, one that doesn't necessarily suggest anything about one's actual amount of expertise in-universe. That's why it's perfectly fine for the grizzled veteran fighter and the fresh-faced young rogue to be in the same party at the same level.

Also, low-level games tend to be easier to manage. Fewer spells and abilities to keep track of, for players and monsters alike.

*In class-based d20 systems I actually prefer starting at level 2, so that multiclass concepts can start off fully formed.

Raphite1
2015-12-07, 09:29 PM
I like starting at level 1*, but at the same time I reject the notion that being 1st level is supposed to mean you're some dope who's still figuring out which end of the sword you hold. ...

It's this. Your character isn't weak at level 1, he/she is already more powerful than almost everyone on the planet. A level 1 fighter isn't a rank-and-file soldier, they're a talented expert with some mileage already under their belt.

The old trope of level 1s going off to kill some rats in the cellar is painfully dated. In modern D&D, at level 1 you're fighting against monsters and experienced NPCs that are already out of the league of everyday life.

Red Fel
2015-12-07, 09:32 PM
I'm going to go with learning curve. This doesn't apply in all situations, but when playing a new system, or using a new class or new mechanics, starting at level 1 means you have more time to grow into your abilities.

Look, if you start off, say, a D&D 3.5 Wizard at level 6, he has access to third-level spells and is expected to be proficient in their use. If he's still learning to calculate DCs, determine saves, and figure out what he likes using in a given situation, it's going to be a slog. Starting low lets him get a feel for his spells and how they're used. A Fighter starting mid-level has to pick a slew of feats right out of the gate; if he has no experience with them, he hasn't learned what a trap looks like. A level 1 Fighter who takes a crap feat can appeal to his DM to retrain it; a level 6 Fighter is going to have to retrain a bunch.

And on it goes. Some class features expand and evolve, growing increasingly complex. Starting at the ground level and working your way up means you get a feel for the mechanics before they become too elaborate, and too daunting.

Tell a level 1 Wizard to pick her spells known, and spells per day. It's a quick exercise. A level 1 Wizard gets all of the 0-level spells, plus three 1st-level spells. She prepares four of them per day - three 0-levels and one 1st-level. Super easy.

At level 6, that number has skyrocketed. Spells per day, you're looking at 4 0-level, 3 1st-level, 3 2nd-level, and 2 3rd-level. That's twelve spells, three times as many as at level one. And that's before we take into account just how many have been stuffed into her spellbook.

Not everyone has this issue. Some people can become quickly proficient in new characters or mechanics. Others read them in advance. Still others have such a breadth of experience that nothing is truly new to them. But for many people, the learning curve will inevitably come up. Starting at level 1 eases the pain.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-07, 09:40 PM
In my opinion, that amount of difference in level is a hindrance to the game especially with low level characters. It might be worth it for the table if new characters come in at the group's level, or a level behind, with a more developed backstory.


Yeah, if I were dming I wouldn't make someone start at level 1 when the rest of the group was well on their way to level 6.

The DM that did that was for the most part an amazing GM, I don't really know what his deal was in this case, he also tried to get the player to generate stats old school, as in roll 3d6 per stat in order. (The rest of us had done 4d6 drop the lowest, assign as we please).

But yeah I'll agree that if at level 1 we get to play as characters that are competent I'm pretty fine with that, even if we do start out lost in the desert and squishing giant mosquitoes. Games that start at lv 1 can be satisfying, but I'm not sure very many GM's have the right touch/experience to do it.

snacksmoto
2015-12-07, 09:42 PM
It's this. Your character isn't weak at level 1, he/she is already more powerful than almost everyone on the planet. A level 1 fighter isn't a rank-and-file soldier, they're a talented expert with some mileage already under their belt.

The old trope of level 1s going off to kill some rats in the cellar is painfully dated. In modern D&D, at level 1 you're fighting against monsters and experienced NPCs that are already out of the league of everyday life.

It's dated because the difference in ability between a level 1 PC and a basic NPC has changed. A long time ago it used to be that there was no difference. A rank-and-file soldier actually used to be level 1 fighter, a veteran would be level 2 or 3, a city's captain-of-the-guard would be level 5-7 (higher if the city is larger), and a general would be a minimum of a level 10 fighter.

BootStrapTommy
2015-12-07, 09:46 PM
It's dated because the difference in ability between a level 1 PC and a basic NPC has changed. A long time ago it used to be that there was no difference. A rank-and-file soldier actually used to be level 1 fighter, a veteran would be level 2 or 3, a city's captain-of-the-guard would be level 5-7 (higher if the city is larger), and a general would be a minimum of a level 10 fighter. It's certainly a new trend. Personally I liked it the old school way, back when the only thing that made PCs special was the fact that they might live long enough to surpass 6th level...

Mr.Moron
2015-12-07, 09:53 PM
I will be honest, I've never much seen the appeal in starting at level 1. I could understand it as necessary for certain tales. But I feel like a lot of the time it's forcing you to play a mostly defenseless schmuck for the sake of playing a mostly defenseless schmuck and 'earning' your levels.

Speaking mostly of D&D here. Because most other games I've played don't seem to have that feeling of 'you're level 1. You're SUPPOSED to suck.' going with them.

Most games I've seen have only ever really gotten started at level 5-6. Before that was just a mad scramble to not die.

Level 1 D&D characters are heavily armed and have supernatural powers. A 1st level wizard can wave his hands and incinerate an entire room full of people. Hardly a "Defenseless Schmuck". You don't suck, you're very powerful. Granted you're still vulnerable largely to the extent that any mortal is but that's hardly "Sucking". It's just that D&D Heroes ramp up in so power so fast it can easy to lose track of the scale.

A 3rd level fighter can take more punishment than a bear, by 6th level he can make a fool of a gorilla in a wrestling match. It only gets crazier from there.



Anyway starting at first is the default because that's where the game designers put it, it's the first entry on the chart and and where entries begin. It also lets you experience the most possible content. If you start at 6th level by definition you can't experience levels 1-5. If you start at level 1 nothing is preventing you from experiencing level 6 but getting there.

Chronos
2015-12-07, 09:59 PM
Yes, level 1 sucks. But reaching level 2 (and 3, and 4...) is awesome enough to make up for it. That moment when you realize, you don't have to run from goblins any more (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0470.html). Start already at mid-levels, and you miss out on that, since you've never had to run from goblins.

Steampunkette
2015-12-07, 09:59 PM
I generally like starting at levels 3-5 in a D&D game, whether playing in it or running it. But I'm always perfectly content to run at level 1 if the players or DM I'm hanging with prefer it. And, lately, with work being crazy, I've spent more times popping modules and adventure paths since I don't have a lot of time to devote to campaign content creation, which almost always start at 1-2.

Some people like it. Some people hate it. Some people don't mind either way.

It's all about the taste, I suppose. I like Brussel Sprouts in butter sauce. Even as a kid I did. That doesn't make it bad that other people don't like them. In fact it usually just means more Brussel Sprouts for me!

Tvtyrant
2015-12-07, 10:08 PM
Personally I think the obsession with level 1 comes from D&D being vaguely similar to a board game or video game, where adherence to the rules is needed because of either physical constraints or for balance reasons. In D&D neither of these things is true, but it looks like something else and people raised to play a certain way become comfortable with doing things that way.

Chijinda
2015-12-07, 10:26 PM
It's rather fun to see where you started at, in my opinion. To work your way up, experimenting with ideas or builds along the way.

Yes, I can see how, for some veteran players it may seem a slog, when they've already figured out what they like, but I've only played about one full campaign and am only currently playing my second campaign (granted those both VERY LONG campaigns, both spanning multiple years), in which I only played all of two characters. So for me, first level is great because it lets me experiment and build characters from the ground up, and work through the experiences that MADE them into badasses.


Being able to claim your Fighter slew a dragon, or killed Killgutz the Defiler in single combat with a broken arm, is much more awesome when your character has actually done these things, instead of simply putting them in their backstory-- especially if the character you generate can't actually live up to their reputation, due to shoddy building on your part. Then it's just a bit embarassing.

Point being, it's satisfying to EARN your badassery, imho, so that you can look back on all your character's accolades and go: "Yeah, I actually did all that stuff."

Anxe
2015-12-07, 10:32 PM
I Anxe just won this thread...

Thank you very much!

In a more serious tone, I start most of my campaigns at level 1, but I certainly don't avoid other level starts. If I want to run an epic campaign, the PCs start at epic levels! I'm not gonna wade through the first few levels to get to where I want to be.

Level 1 is nice because then you know the whole story of the PCs as a group instead of them having individual adventures prior to grouping up, but having individual stories is also a good thing. It just depends on what you want.

For balance, I've heard some people say that starting at level 2 is often better in 3.5. You're less likely to die from a random Orc's critical hit and you're still pretty much a powerless dweeb for all other purposes.

bulbaquil
2015-12-08, 06:50 AM
I prefer starting at level 2-3 both as a player and GM. High enough that random criticals against you aren't (usually) insta-kills but low enough that you can still grow into your character before they become ultra-powerful.

Broken Twin
2015-12-08, 08:28 AM
Assuming we're mostly talking about D&D/PF here, I prefer to start at lower levels because I find the characters grow a lot more organically when they take time to reach higher level, as opposed to the custom tailored builds you tend to see when you start at a higher level. Plus, I find once you get past the first few levels the mundane stops mattering, and I don't enjoy that. Granted, my preferred play zone is somewhere around 3-12, so my gaming style is necessarily going to be different than someone who likes late game play.

As to the love for level one specifically, I think a lot of it is just due to the perception that you're SUPPOSED to start at level one. Most games start you at the beginning, so that's what people expect.

Amphetryon
2015-12-08, 08:50 AM
Is it truly peoples' experience that PCs are less squishy at higher levels? I'm assuming "against appropriate enemies" here, as I recognize that 1st level Characters have more things in the world that are above their pay grade than, for example, 7th level Characters. That said, it's my experience that most D&D-like games have roughly equal mortality expectations at most levels. Level 5 shows more of a spike in lethality than 1st, IME.

BWR
2015-12-08, 09:13 AM
I like starting out with little. The effort and luck it takes to survive from level 1 and on is part of what makes the character. New character, new personality, new opportunities for death, glory or infamy. The major problem I have with starting at higher levels (apart from feeling like it's cheating my way there) is that I have no idea who this character is. It's a blank slate with no history or deeds to its name and only the vaguest of personality traits which will likely change a few sessions in. High level characters are established. They have Done Things and they have History. If you start out by skipping those levels the player isn't part of that history. They may tell or be told the history, not but are not part of it.

Tied to this is the sense of accomplishment. Seeing a character rise from level one to, say, twenty, you can point to it and (hopefully) say "It was a tough slog but Zordar the Reaper here made it through fire and ice, and earned those levels through my brains and a bit of luck". You can't do that with characters starting at 20.

I've done a bit of starting at higher levels and the characters never seems as vibrant or well-loved as those that have started at 1.

Joe the Rat
2015-12-08, 09:29 AM
I have no problems starting higher up - and may be necessary for particular stories. I'm quite happy with 3 as a start point for most versions of D&D (A few hit dice for survivability, multiclassers will have some legs (2/1 or 1/1/1 for 3e/5e, at least one class should be at 2 for older), casters have a little more in the pocket without getting too crazy, etc.).

One part of the love of 1 is the idea of an "all the way" game: A campaign from 1 to 20/30/36/Immortals. Starting in higher is "cheating" the run.


I don't really like starting at level 1 though it doesn't bother me much since I stick to 5e and you're not going to stay level one for more than one or two sessions at most. What I really dislike is when someone new joins a campaign and they're forced to start at level 1 while everyone else is 4-5. It just seems really crappy towards the new player, and annoying for the group to have to basically carry around a sack of flour for the next couple of games.

5e Has some natural breaks in Tiers (not those Tiers). New players/characters should come in at the same play level as the majority of the party: 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20. In theory bottom level should be able to contribute meaningfully, and from the XP scaling should catch up fairly quickly. But there is a BIG survivability gap from bottom to top; Coming in the same tier no more than 1-2 levels behind should suffice.

Broken Twin
2015-12-08, 09:53 AM
Is it truly peoples' experience that PCs are less squishy at higher levels? I'm assuming "against appropriate enemies" here, as I recognize that 1st level Characters have more things in the world that are above their pay grade than, for example, 7th level Characters. That said, it's my experience that most D&D-like games have roughly equal mortality expectations at most levels. Level 5 shows more of a spike in lethality than 1st, IME.

Haha, valid point. I think people are mostly thinking about weapon vulnerability, where one unlucky crit can end a character before they've even begun. But once magic enters the equation (especially 3.x's love of save-or-die), character mortality is equally a threat at pretty much any point. It's just generally considered in bad taste for the GM to kill a player's character at higher levels without them having a chance to prevent it, while at lower levels one unlucky roll of a sword swing can end a PC for good.

Plus, with the aforementioned magic in play, death is frequently not the end. At lower levels, coming back is significantly more of a hurdle.

YossarianLives
2015-12-08, 10:13 AM
I'll just say that the enjoyable character I played was a kobold sorcerer from levels 1-9. This doesn't make starting from level one good, just, in my opinion, fun. I also think the 'schmuckitude' of first level characters can be underestimated. Sure, they're weak, but not useless. In a campaign I once played in, two level 1 characters (a psion and a wizard) managed to slowly assassinate over 100 heavily armed, evil soldiers occupying a town using a mixture of stealth, illusions and general skulduggery.

That said, starting at first level can really suck. None of us like to spend 3 hours on a character only for them to be slaughtered in the first session.

Socratov
2015-12-08, 10:19 AM
In most versions of D&D, 1st level also tends to be the point where classes are most balanced, so everyone contributes. As levels climb, spellcasters in a lot of D&D-likes start to dominate, and that tends to sideline a lot of character concepts... "I'm a powerful warrior" doesn't mean much when the other guy can say "And I just turned to you into a flounder. Sure, it only lasts for 10 minutes, but you'll have suffocated by then."
That's as early as lvl 1 where a druid can hold off a bugbear with entangle, a wizard casts sleep and a bard Tasha's Hideous Laughter.


The level 1 start works for the classic hero's tale, where an inexperienced kid grows into a hero. However, for other kinds of tales, it doesn't quite fit. Who would ever believe that Drizz't was level 1 when he came to the surface? Who would think that Kenshin Himura was level 1 when he first went to Kyoto? Martin the Warrior certainly wasn't level 1 when he made his debut.

Hero's tales work mostly because there's usually one or two more competent people hanging around to make sure things get done, but if you have a group of farm boys out to slay the evil wizard, what often happens is half/most of them die, and then the sequel picks up with the survivors hardened by the loss and vastly more competent. Nobody wants to be the backstory to another player, that's what we spend two hours before the first session trying to do!

Making a story about experienced and skilled characters (which seems to come a bit easier to me as I get older) tends to entail starting after level 1 just to make it feel like you're competent at what you do.

Depends on which story, in the Hero with a thousand faces, a study on folk tales involving heroes, it is postuatled that the hero does not neccessarily start from humble beginnings, but rather experiences a darkness before dawn moment, either thorugh self doubt, through the loss of items/companions, and to get, somehow, through to the other side.

Even better, if you look at heroic tales from ancient greece often tales tell about an experineced warrior (Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, both Ajaxes, etc.) or someone who has the advantage in combat like Heracles, Perseus, Theseus, etc.).

And before we have greece we can always rely on Babylon with it's epic Gilgamesh who starts out as a halfgod, and ends up as a halfgod king of all, owning all.

Even if we go to ther works of inspiration we have the bible whose characters don't exactly follow a powercurve, but make use of what they have (for religious figures it's mostly faith and everything derived of it, in particular perseverence and martyrdom) and apply that as best they can to the situation.

Personally I don't like lvl 1. It's like you have a class, and yet don't get your bread and butter yet. For a druid I find wildshaping much more iconic then casting. And most classes get at lvl 2 or 3 their first real differentiating tools. Please note that I don't think characters should start at their most powerful, but lvl 3 is a great starting point: even when you have people picking the same class (like two druids, or two bards), they can get into different archetypes and fulfill different roles. At lvl 1 I find the game a bit too nonexistent yet. Lvl 5 is another great startin gpoint where classes get into their own. lvl 10~11 is where classes hit their real stride and spike in power and after that lvl 20 is the apex.

For me, Ideally play should occur standard between lvl 3 and 13: a point where you start with your toys generally there, and those toys grow in power as you play beyond 13 and your toys will max out one after another and before 3 you don't have you set of basic toys yet.

Starting at lvl 1 woudl be like being a carpenter, but you only get a hammer or saw or screwdriver. I'd much rather start with a basic and cheap but complete toolkit and exchange these tools over play for fancier and better ones along the way then first gathering my extremely basic toolkit.

Quertus
2015-12-08, 10:43 AM
Is it truly peoples' experience that PCs are less squishy at higher levels? I'm assuming "against appropriate enemies" here, as I recognize that 1st level Characters have more things in the world that are above their pay grade than, for example, 7th level Characters. That said, it's my experience that most D&D-like games have roughly equal mortality expectations at most levels. Level 5 shows more of a spike in lethality than 1st, IME.

(almost) any attack against a first-level character could, if a crit, kill the character. And such characters have no armor of fortitude, no amulets of emergency healing, no contingencies. And no resurrection. So, yeah, definitely more lethal.


Tell a level 1 Wizard to pick her spells known, and spells per day. It's a quick exercise. A level 1 Wizard gets all of the 0-level spells, plus three 1st-level spells. She prepares four of them per day - three 0-levels and one 1st-level. Super easy.

At level 6, that number has skyrocketed. Spells per day, you're looking at 4 0-level, 3 1st-level, 3 2nd-level, and 2 3rd-level. That's twelve spells, three times as many as at level one. And that's before we take into account just how many have been stuffed into her spellbook.

Not everyone has this issue. Some people can become quickly proficient in new characters or mechanics. Others read them in advance. Still others have such a breadth of experience that nothing is truly new to them. But for many people, the learning curve will inevitably come up. Starting at level 1 eases the pain.

Oddly enough, I've seen the opposite. Tell someone that their entire usefulness for the day is one or two spells, and they take forever choosing them. Give them a few dozen, and they'll haphazardly throw something together, and then learn from experience what works with the character / party / DM / adventure.

Even more so with new players, IME. Setting that the high- level spells do not have prerequisites helps. Being able to take the spells others say would be useful helps. But being stuck taking spells that aren't the ones they've heard about, uncertain what they need to take to get there, has slowed down spell selection in new players.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-08, 11:40 AM
5e Has some natural breaks in Tiers (not those Tiers). New players/characters should come in at the same play level as the majority of the party: 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20. In theory bottom level should be able to contribute meaningfully, and from the XP scaling should catch up fairly quickly. But there is a BIG survivability gap from bottom to top; Coming in the same tier no more than 1-2 levels behind should suffice.

Why are you responding to me as if I said the opposite of what I said?

At no point did I ever say that it's great for players to have to start at level 1 when everyone else is level 5, infact I'm pretty sure I said I HATED it when dm's do that to incoming players.

Amphetryon
2015-12-08, 11:48 AM
(almost) any attack against a first-level character could, if a crit, kill the character. And such characters have no armor of fortitude, no amulets of emergency healing, no contingencies. And no resurrection. So, yeah, definitely more lethal.

And a crit, or a Fireball, wouldn't kill a party member - or multiple party members - at 5th? Haste isn't a lethal buff spell, in your experience? Armor of fortitude + amulets of emergency healing + resurrection availability are all common on 5th level Characters, in your experience?

Huh. That's not anywhere close to what I've seen in actual play. *shrug*

Joe the Rat
2015-12-08, 12:04 PM
Why are you responding to me as if I said the opposite of what I said?

At no point did I ever say that it's great for players to have to start at level 1 when everyone else is level 5, infact I'm pretty sure I said I HATED it when dm's do that to incoming players.

I'm not saying anything about your preferences. What I was trying to point out is that for D&D 5e specifically, there are bands - by design - where one should be able to come in below-group and still be able to contribute / not be "the load," but it gets dodgy at the extremes. Level 1 (bottom tier 1) to level 5 (bottom tier 2), specifically, does not work. You pretty much have to come in at 5 in that scenario. Level 1s and level 4s is in theory workable, but makes for poor survivability.

LnGrrrR
2015-12-08, 12:14 PM
I think in DnD 5e, the first two levels are a great way to get a "feel" for your character before you take the class subtype. Sometimes I plan on going one way, but I find I'm RP'ing the character differently, and so take a different subtype. The first two levels are completed pretty fast in 5E.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-08, 01:27 PM
I can understand starting at lv 1 for a "heros journey" kind of thing, so long as the DM does it right, I've even felt interest in lv 0 games. My general personal preference is to start at 3-5 may be born out of not having participated in very many long running games. Which means if I don't start at a level higher than 1 I'll never get to really experience the class much.

But I don't think "that's how it's done" is a good reason, as far as I'm aware none the systems I've played require you to start at the base level. Even Dungeon Crawl Classic recommends rolling up higher level characters once the "fun" of tossing lv 0 peasants at things until one manages to level up wears off.




I'm not saying anything about your preferences. What I was trying to point out is
that for D&D 5e specifically, there are bands - by design - where one should be able to come in below-group and still be able to contribute / not be "the load," but it gets dodgy at the extremes. Level 1 (bottom tier 1) to level 5 (bottom tier 2), specifically, does not work. You pretty much have to come in at 5 in that scenario. Level 1s and level 4s is in theory workable, but makes for poor survivability.

I think I just don't understand the purpose of pointing that out, it's a given that being a lv 1 character in a lv 5 party is rather bad for everyone involved, that's why I didn't like that it was done to the new player.

daremetoidareyo
2015-12-08, 01:57 PM
Is it truly peoples' experience that PCs are less squishy at higher levels? I'm assuming "against appropriate enemies" here, as I recognize that 1st level Characters have more things in the world that are above their pay grade than, for example, 7th level Characters. That said, it's my experience that most D&D-like games have roughly equal mortality expectations at most levels. Level 5 shows more of a spike in lethality than 1st, IME.

1-3 level the biggest driver of mortality is crits and bad rolls by PCs.

I hear ya though. At fifth level though, user error seems to be the big problem: hint: you need to run away sometimes. But the monsters at this level can really decimate the PCs, so you have to run away more often than the lower levels. Enemy spellcasters have fireball, and their only encounter that day is the PCs. At fifth level, it seems like evasion is the absolute best skill to have for surviving a full length adventuring day.

After 7th, it's save or die or PC levels on a smart group of enemies that seems to KO a number of PCs. You exit the bad rolls and user error levels of PC death and get into the "you gawn die" era of playing the game. Fortunately, the bringem back to life spells are around here.

DireSickFish
2015-12-08, 02:45 PM
I almost never start at level 1 unless the people playing are completly new to the game. I start at level 2 or more often at level 3. That's also where my DM's tend to start games at. I have a much greater appreciation for my character and what they can do if I play them from low to high level. You get opportunities for more character defining moments when you are still finding the characters voice in low levels that can be transitioned into mechanics at later levels.

In 3.5 we started a game at level1 and I was a Bard. During the first 4 sessions I was captured at least 5 separate times, thus I started pouring skillpoints into escape artist and picking spells I could cast while bound and gagged or to charm my captors. I ended up with a character that could escape almost any situation he was put in.

I find it harder to shape a character and get into there personality if I have 10 levels of mechanics already behind them. It's also a lot easier to forget abilities because you haven't come to know them over time.

So I'm always fighting for the ideal game where we start at low level and end up at high level but often the game ends well before event he level 11 point.

Drynwyn
2015-12-08, 05:05 PM
There is a place for "origin stories" with characters that start weak.

The thing is, what Bruce Wayne, Luke Skywalker, and most other "zero to hero" characters have in common is that they become heroic relatively quickly in-story. It might take them a long time in universe, but we don't see every day of training/killing things for XP. That's because we, the audience, want to get to the part with the bad-asses. D&D's XP structure doesn't allow for this without GM intervention, so you're better off leaving the training montage in the backstory.

It's also worth noting that in most "zero to hero" works, there is an ancillary character who is a BAMF from the start of the story (IE, Ben Kenobi), and those without such a character to be the fastest to make their lead competent.


This is because, essentially, the tale of Joe Incompetent isn't very interesting to watch, even if Joe is gradually getting closer to Joe Competent.

Having a powerful ancillary character doesn't work well in D&D for reasons we're all familliar with, and the XP structure doesn't accelerate leveling for low-level characters (5e does a little, but not enough.)

Âmesang
2015-12-08, 05:12 PM
In the opposite vein I was really hoping to see Freeza have a training montage in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'. :smalltongue: If Goku can have the fist of the dragon, I want Freeza to have the eye of the tiger.

GrayDeath
2015-12-08, 05:20 PM
As has been said: its fine for the classic "Zero to hero" Story.

In all other Cases I usually tend to start at Levels 3 or 4 (I have only played in one Campaign where a higher Level was needed, and that was a Drow Campaign, due to extreme deadliness and Forum nature of the Game ^^).
Yous tillg et to do most to all of the important things yourself, bout your Character is no longer a completely luck-reliant "RaceCLassCombo". ;)


Personally I despise starting at Level 1 though, as I ahve been scarred by quite a few Oldschool Experiences and loathe "Expendable" Characters.

Joe the Rat
2015-12-09, 08:40 AM
I can understand starting at lv 1 for a "heros journey" kind of thing, so long as the DM does it right, I've even felt interest in lv 0 games. My general personal preference is to start at 3-5 may be born out of not having participated in very many long running games. Which means if I don't start at a level higher than 1 I'll never get to really experience the class much.

But I don't think "that's how it's done" is a good reason, as far as I'm aware none the systems I've played require you to start at the base level. Even Dungeon Crawl Classic recommends rolling up higher level characters once the "fun" of tossing lv 0 peasants at things until one manages to level up wears off.I feel you there. I tend to stay out of high level discussions as I rarely get to play into double digits (or the point-system equivalent) outside of the occasional one-shot.


I think I just don't understand the purpose of pointing that out, it's a given that being a lv 1 character in a lv 5 party is rather bad for everyone involved, that's why I didn't like that it was done to the new player.
Ah, sorry. Since you'd mentioned 5e, I was building off of your comment to expand on what should work in the system.

Comet
2015-12-09, 08:57 AM
Frodo Baggins getting to Mount Doom is much more impressive than Gandalf fighting a Balrog.

Honestly, though, it depends on the game. I do prefer relatively mundane characters instead of superheroes, which usually translates to sticking to a relatively low level in D&D-like games.

Quertus
2015-12-09, 10:12 AM
And a crit, or a Fireball, wouldn't kill a party member - or multiple party members - at 5th? Haste isn't a lethal buff spell, in your experience? Armor of fortitude + amulets of emergency healing + resurrection availability are all common on 5th level Characters, in your experience?

Huh. That's not anywhere close to what I've seen in actual play. *shrug*

As much as I'd love to just concede the point, saying I was talking about 1st vs "higher", not 1st vs 5th...

A) not "+", but "or"
B) I'm usually encouraging my fellow players to take amulet of emergency healing - or at least a custom, 1-charge version thereof, by 5th
C) a single scroll of the cheapest form of resurrection is almost certainly available to party funds by 5th - or even 3rd level
D) although it usually takes bending the rules until they cry, I have seen armor of fortitude by 5th
E) was part of a party that all survived a fireball at 3rd level
F) haste was only a lethal buff spell in 2e ;)
G) if we're talking 2e vs enemy spellcasters, the party isn't survivable until 5th level - before that, the sleep spell is "no save and die"
H) and, no, I have never witnessed a 5th level character going against something level appropriate dropped from full HP to dead by a single hit. Unlike at 1st level.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-09, 10:27 AM
I can see avoiding level 1 - possibly 2 - to avoid the insta-death crits from mooks. (top heavy HP was one of the things which I actually liked about 4e) But other than that - I like low levels. Everything is more frantic. Also - if anyone in the group is new to D&D - you really shouldn't start past level 2 or there is too much to take in.

I will also point out - that past 8ish - caster/martial disparity starts to rear its ugly head. (though not too terrible until 11-13) So starting at low levels gives you more time before you have to deal with it.

Faily
2015-12-09, 10:39 AM
Learning curve, natural evolvement of a character, building a story... all these are reasons I can think of for starting at level 1.

As much as I love playing in the level 6-12 area, I do not mind starting at level 1. And the characters that have been the most entertaining for me to play have been the ones I've played from level 1 up to level 20. One became a demon princess of her own layer in the Abyss, another sacrificed her life to save her friends and the world, and the last one is currently working towards becoming a God... sure, you can tell those stories too by starting at a much higher level, but it feels like a whole story by following it from level 1 and up to the finale. I at least find I have a much greater connection to the other PCs, the story and the NPCs if I've interacted with them for a long time with the same character, which also gives more weight to my actions concerning those.

Roderick_BR
2015-12-09, 10:43 AM
As people said, no one "loves" it, people just like to start from the start. My group, after almost 15 years playing, we mostly start at 3~6 levels with experienced characters, but we started all 1st level ones for D&D 5E so we could learn the new rules from zero.

Mark Hall
2015-12-09, 12:13 PM
As people said, no one "loves" it, people just like to start from the start. My group, after almost 15 years playing, we mostly start at 3~6 levels with experienced characters, but we started all 1st level ones for D&D 5E so we could learn the new rules from zero.

I'm very much a fan of 1st level games; I'm kinda wishing I could get to play a 0th level game in Hackmaster, now that the rules for it are out.

AdmiralCheez
2015-12-09, 12:31 PM
My group tends to start wherever is most appropriate for the story. Our current campaign started at level 1 because we were all prisoners about to be sold as slaves. But we've also started campaigns at level 13 because the party is a bunch of heroes being organized to take on large threats.

That said, the danger and excitement of level 1 is more appealing to me because it forces me to strategize with extremely limited resources just to survive an encounter. At higher levels, it's more of a game of deciding which resources would be most effective at which times (i.e. when to use a fireball, when to stick to melee weapons, and when to use a heal spell). Higher level characters are more durable, and can take more hits before needing to change plans. A level 1 character needs to be careful when engaging that monster in melee, because they'll go down in two rounds.

wumpus
2015-12-09, 12:50 PM
That's as early as lvl 1 where a druid can hold off a bugbear with entangle, a wizard casts sleep and a bard Tasha's Hideous Laughter.


Which they can do twice (in 3.x, unless I'm missing yet another rule. I originally thought just once) per day. Which leaves the obvious: once players have their two (or less) encounters per day and rest, do the rest of the monsters realize that the dungeon is under attack? How many monsters are guarding the gate after the first [couple] intrusions? At what point do the monsters pack up the treasure (including the Maguffin) and leave without a forwarding address? Does it get to the point where shady quest-givers start snubbing the "adventuring" party?

Of course, if you ignore this the casters are only good for those two encounters and have to prepare them ahead of time to figure out which spells they are going to need. I can't see each party member pulling their weight here either (without careful dungeon design, something presumably possible at any level). This seems to be more a problem with Vancian casting and D&D than anything else (oddly enough, Gary Gygax insisted that this avoided the "easily repowered wizards" better than any spell point system he's seen).*



It's also worth noting that in most "zero to hero" works, there is an ancillary character who is a BAMF from the start of the story (IE, Ben Kenobi), and those without such a character to be the fastest to make their lead competent.

My favorite take on this is the Myth Adventure series by Robert Asprin. Important feature, the BAMF has his spells blocked (he still is a powerful melee, but acts primarily as a wizard trainer). Skeeve was *almost* to the hero his reputation lead people to believe he was when the author died.

[Currently playing a DDO [D&D Online] permadeath challenge. This involves going back to first level. And then back again. And again.]

* While DDO has spell points, it also has strictly enforced rest mechanisms. A caster out of spell points is effectively dead weight until you get to a rest [shrine]. This works, but is way too mechanical for tabletop (although I'm sure that some DMs carefully plot out [railroad] resting places in dungeons. Can it be done without being too heavy handed?)

Socratov
2015-12-09, 03:05 PM
Which they can do twice (in 3.x, unless I'm missing yet another rule. I originally thought just once) per day. Which leaves the obvious: once players have their two (or less) encounters per day and rest, do the rest of the monsters realize that the dungeon is under attack? How many monsters are guarding the gate after the first [couple] intrusions? At what point do the monsters pack up the treasure (including the Maguffin) and leave without a forwarding address? Does it get to the point where shady quest-givers start snubbing the "adventuring" party?

Of course, if you ignore this the casters are only good for those two encounters and have to prepare them ahead of time to figure out which spells they are going to need. I can't see each party member pulling their weight here either (without careful dungeon design, something presumably possible at any level). This seems to be more a problem with Vancian casting and D&D than anything else (oddly enough, Gary Gygax insisted that this avoided the "easily repowered wizards" better than any spell point system he's seen).*

snip

Well, that is indeed the case as well in 5e. My druid can cast entangle twice and could, potentially wade into melee with Shillelagh and/or produce flame.

Is it too powerful? No. Is it an encounter ender? In this case it was. Even though ti saved us from dealing for two turns with a bugbear and two goblins while we made short work of the wolf (friend of the bugbear) and took some potshots. The fact that they were all trapped on a tree over the river was just impeccable timing and probably saved all our lives in the game.

For what it's worth, I think 5e really nailed it with how spells work this time. No more 9001+ spells doing this or that, but a lot less and and a lot less bookkeeping. I actually wanted to play a prepared caster while in 3.5 they intimidated the living daylights out of me making me play other classes like bards, swashbucklers and warlocks.

Telonius
2015-12-09, 03:13 PM
Personally I find that starting at level 1 can be a good teaching tool for first-time or beginning players. Making sure they know what all of the level-up rules are can head off some very embarrassing moments later on. I'm remembering a particular incident when a player who started in at (I think) level 7 had forgotten to add HP or feats for five levels. Nobody noticed until somebody asked his HP total (as opposed to how many HP he was down).

Quertus
2015-12-09, 04:13 PM
Personally I find that starting at level 1 can be a good teaching tool for first-time or beginning players. Making sure they know what all of the level-up rules are can head off some very embarrassing moments later on. I'm remembering a particular incident when a player who started in at (I think) level 7 had forgotten to add HP or feats for five levels. Nobody noticed until somebody asked his HP total (as opposed to how many HP he was down).

... How does which level they start at help? Seems like they would have been missing out on level up rules equally if they had started at 1st level...

Arbane
2015-12-09, 06:42 PM
Point being, it's satisfying to EARN your badassery, imho, so that you can look back on all your character's accolades and go: "Yeah, I actually did all that stuff."

Meh, I vaguely remember an old, old OLD Gygax editorial, where he complains about characters 'starting at the top and working their way up', but I'm perfectly OK with it. The Epic of Gilgamesh quite reasonably left out the early years where Gilgamesh was killing rats to level up.

And I DESPISE the 'Earn Your Fun' attitude in videogames, especially MMOs.

(And I heard somewhere that Gygax started new PCs at level 3 in his home game, so there's that....)


Hero's tales work mostly because there's usually one or two more competent people hanging around to make sure things get done, but if you have a group of farm boys out to slay the evil wizard, what often happens is half/most of them die, and then the sequel picks up with the survivors hardened by the loss and vastly more competent. Nobody wants to be the backstory to another player, that's what we spend two hours before the first session trying to do!

That's how Old School Games make heroes: ATTRITION.



Yeah, if I were dming I wouldn't make someone start at level 1 when the rest of the group was well on their way to level 6.

The DM that did that was for the most part an amazing GM, I don't really know what his deal was in this case, he also tried to get the player to generate stats old school, as in roll 3d6 per stat in order. (The rest of us had done 4d6 drop the lowest, assign as we please).

O_O

.... did the GM have a personal grudge against that guy for some reason?


I hear ya though. At fifth level though, user error seems to be the big problem: hint: you need to run away sometimes. But the monsters at this level can really decimate the PCs, so you have to run away more often than the lower levels.

The problem there being that if you can't outfight something, there's a good chance you can't outrun it, either.

themaque
2015-12-09, 07:58 PM
... How does which level they start at help? Seems like they would have been missing out on level up rules equally if they had started at 1st level...

Lower levels are often the training levels. You don't have a lot of toys yet, but you have your basics. You are learning how to work together as a team and you have the bare bones essentials as you go.

If you just START at level 7 or higher than you will have lots of tricks or toys with advanced settings your not really sure how to use yet, but the bad guys will have all the tricks and expectations that you do.


I like the lower levels for some stories, but I can understand why people can easily get tired of them or want to skip them now and again. I like how 5e encourages these first few levels to go by relatively quickly.

I know of one crazy person who get's really excited about the alternate rules set where you never advance above lvl 5. You just stay at mortal level forever.

sometimes I'm in the mood for Hackmasters Mortals
Sometimes I'm in the mood for Pathfinder Gods
Sometimes I like 5e middle ground.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-09, 09:58 PM
I know of one crazy person who get's really excited about the alternate rules set where you never advance above lvl 5. You just stay at mortal level forever.

It's not 5th level (as that would be an advantage to prepared vs spontaneous) but you're probably talking about E6. I think it's primarily Pathfinder - but it's a variant where characters max out at level 6. You keep gaining exp - but each time you would have leveled you just gain a feat. (Which makes some otherwise weak feats pretty handy. Especially the ones which focus upon buffing a single spell etc.)

Either 5 or 6 is a pretty significant level for a lot of classes. Full casters get their 3rd level spells. Full BAB classes get their first iterative. Bards get inspire courage +2. etc. But you avoid high level craziness (much of which I personally like) and the martial/caster disparity (I don't like) that comes with it.

I haven't ever played it - but I can certainly see the appeal.

themaque
2015-12-09, 10:23 PM
It's not 5th level (as that would be an advantage to prepared vs spontaneous) but you're probably talking about E6. I think it's primarily Pathfinder - but it's a variant where characters max out at level 6. You keep gaining exp - but each time you would have leveled you just gain a feat. (Which makes some otherwise weak feats pretty handy. Especially the ones which focus upon buffing a single spell etc.)

Either 5 or 6 is a pretty significant level for a lot of classes. Full casters get their 3rd level spells. Full BAB classes get their first iterative. Bards get inspire courage +2. etc. But you avoid high level craziness (much of which I personally like) and the martial/caster disparity (I don't like) that comes with it.

I haven't ever played it - but I can certainly see the appeal.

It wasn't that I don't think, this guy hates pathfinder, but it was similar.

endur
2015-12-10, 01:24 AM
It's certainly a new trend. Personally I liked it the old school way, back when the only thing that made PCs special was the fact that they might live long enough to surpass 6th level...

actually, the old school way was that NPCs were level 0 and that only PCs (or very rare NPCs) had levels.

Mark Hall
2015-12-10, 12:21 PM
I know of one crazy person who get's really excited about the alternate rules set where you never advance above lvl 5. You just stay at mortal level forever.



It wasn't that I don't think, this guy hates pathfinder, but it was similar.

Subtweeting ain't nice, Maque. :smallbiggrin:

Yeah, I like E6, since I think it keeps a more reasonable advancement chain. 'Course, nowadays, I'm liable to do it through SAGA, or just play a game I don't hate.

Amphetryon
2015-12-10, 12:30 PM
As much as I'd love to just concede the point, saying I was talking about 1st vs "higher", not 1st vs 5th...

A) not "+", but "or"
B) I'm usually encouraging my fellow players to take amulet of emergency healing - or at least a custom, 1-charge version thereof, by 5th
C) a single scroll of the cheapest form of resurrection is almost certainly available to party funds by 5th - or even 3rd level
D) although it usually takes bending the rules until they cry, I have seen armor of fortitude by 5th
E) was part of a party that all survived a fireball at 3rd level
F) haste was only a lethal buff spell in 2e ;)
G) if we're talking 2e vs enemy spellcasters, the party isn't survivable until 5th level - before that, the sleep spell is "no save and die"
H) and, no, I have never witnessed a 5th level character going against something level appropriate dropped from full HP to dead by a single hit. Unlike at 1st level.

So, as I said, your experience is vastly different from that of any gamers I personally know or have talked to in real life. *shrug*

apocryphaGnosis
2015-12-10, 12:50 PM
That said, the danger and excitement of level 1 is more appealing to me because it forces me to strategize with extremely limited resources just to survive an encounter. At higher levels, it's more of a game of deciding which resources would be most effective at which times (i.e. when to use a fireball, when to stick to melee weapons, and when to use a heal spell). Higher level characters are more durable, and can take more hits before needing to change plans. A level 1 character needs to be careful when engaging that monster in melee, because they'll go down in two rounds.

I agree. I enjoy the lethality of low levels. High level combat is often more repetitive and procedural; mostly for martial characters, but also for casters. Even though its pretty badass to polymorph into a dragon or insta-kill opponents with a single spell, I find it gets old pretty fast. I prefer combat with a real risk, where the team has to work together and rely on good tactical desicions, not just lucky die rolls and good saves. I do enjoy getting high level campaigns some times, but I much prefer E6 campaigns.

Kami2awa
2015-12-10, 01:11 PM
Well, here is an example of a series that did the slow climb from level 1 to high level:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4f/c6/a3/4fc6a31e624c98e84426cebd90a1dce0.jpg

Context for non-Supernatural fans:

The guy on the left in the bottom picture is Crowley, the literal King of Hell, who took over from Lucifer himself after the heroes (the other guys in the picture) defeated him. In later seasons, the characters deal with Crowley on a regular basis and had him locked in their basement for a while. Contrast that with the quote at the top from Season 1 :D

MrZJunior
2015-12-10, 02:05 PM
I find the hard scrable of first level to be fun and invigorating.

Jay R
2015-12-10, 08:47 PM
Obviously, everybody can play the way that suits them. Here's my way, and why it suits me.

For a single episode, or a single plotline, there's no particular reason to start at first level. You can tell the story of a single battle in which the general is already a well-seasoned general. You can introduce his long-term rival as a long-term rival, and his enemies as established enemies.

But if we are trying to create a character in a world, and play his position in that world, it works better to have built that position -- or at least the parts that came from his adventurous life. A long-term rival of a tenth level Fighter should have been his rival at second level. The enemy he's leading an army against should be a long developed threat.

As I say, my approach is for me, and others can play the way they like. But starting at a higher level seems like letting somebody else have part of the fun of creating the character, or taking over an NPC. He's my character. I get to play him, all the way through.

hifidelity2
2015-12-11, 08:31 AM
Obviously, everybody can play the way that suits them. Here's my way, and why it suits me.

For a single episode, or a single plotline, there's no particular reason to start at first level. You can tell the story of a single battle in which the general is already a well-seasoned general. You can introduce his long-term rival as a long-term rival, and his enemies as established enemies.

But if we are trying to create a character in a world, and play his position in that world, it works better to have built that position -- or at least the parts that came from his adventurous life. A long-term rival of a tenth level Fighter should have been his rival at second level. The enemy he's leading an army against should be a long developed threat.

As I say, my approach is for me, and others can play the way they like. But starting at a higher level seems like letting somebody else have part of the fun of creating the character, or taking over an NPC. He's my character. I get to play him, all the way through.
Agree. 90% of what I play/ run is long running campaigns and all have started at 1st (or equivalent)

If someone dies then what we do is have them roll up a new character 1 level lower than the lowest current player (so if the party was 5,5,4,4) then the new character would be 3rd level

wumpus
2015-12-11, 09:39 AM
actually, the old school way was that NPCs were level 0 and that only PCs (or very rare NPCs) had levels.

I think that back in the "old school" times you didn't need levels to survive an attack by an angry housecat. But there was always the dread of "ow! My hit point". The Dance of Death was a popular artwork in the old school fantasy world, much like the 13th century.

Amphetryon
2015-12-11, 12:45 PM
I think that back in the "old school" times you didn't need levels to survive an attack by an angry housecat. But there was always the dread of "ow! My hit point". The Dance of Death was a popular artwork in the old school fantasy world, much like the 13th century.

There are several "old-school" games I know where 1st level had no rule regarding minimum HP (or whatever equivalent vitality system was in place). Given a housecat analog that could attack 4 or 5 times on its turn, that was a concern at tables where I've been a Player.

As one guy I played with put it: 'We can't attack that farm! They've got chickens! That'd be suicide!'

wumpus
2015-12-11, 02:22 PM
As one guy I played with put it: 'We can't attack that farm! They've got chickens! That'd be suicide!'

How do you level up? Does Durkon hang around taverns and hand out quests vs. trees? Are you vegan before level 3 and vegetarian before level 5?

Jay R
2015-12-11, 02:48 PM
How do you level up? Does Durkon hang around taverns and hand out quests vs. trees? Are you vegan before level 3 and vegetarian before level 5?

He's exaggerating. In original D&D, we always started at first level, and faced kobolds, goblins, non-class burglars, or some such.

Arbane
2015-12-11, 03:33 PM
He's exaggerating. In original D&D, we always started at first level, and faced kobolds, goblins, non-class burglars, or some such.

Just not housecats...

I get the impression OD&D and AD&D have a drastically different view of 'adventurers' than modern RPGs tend to - your typical adventurer was a statistically average schnook (roll 3d6 six times, in order!), and it seems like 'adventuring' was the equivalent of heading to Las Vegas with all your savings in one pocket and a pistol with one bullet in the other.

Jay R
2015-12-11, 05:14 PM
Just not housecats...

Back then, nobody was stupid enough to expect a housecat to do life-threatening damage. "Hit points" did not represent paper cuts or claw marks on the arm. If it won't kill, it won't do hit points.


I get the impression OD&D and AD&D have a drastically different view of 'adventurers' than modern RPGs tend to - your typical adventurer was a statistically average schnook (roll 3d6 six times, in order!), and it seems like 'adventuring' was the equivalent of heading to Las Vegas with all your savings in one pocket and a pistol with one bullet in the other.

Somewhat, but only because a first-level character was actually first level. He isn't supposed to be an experienced adventurer.

Also, many (most?) DMs would tell you to re-roll, or have you roll several times. One DM looked at my character sheet and said, "He never leaves the farm. He marries a farm girl, has a good life, and dies in bed. Now roll up an adventurer."

But we also used the low rolls. I once rolled STR 4, DEX 16, CHA high, WIS low, and the rest low-to-average. I was considering dumping him, when the DM said, "That's a nine-year-old kid. He could get away with anything." So I went with it - in large part because the character idea was exciting to both me and the DM.

He once took down a sentry by walking up sniffling and crying, and saying, "Where's my daddy? I can't find him. I'm cold, and I'm tired, and I'm hungry, and I'm thirsty, and I want my daddy!" As the sentry bent down to comfort him, the kid sneak attacked.

A first-level Fighting Man (yes, that was the class name) was a veteran, presumed to be a better overall fighter than the average new soldier. He could also usually buy better equipment.

Still, the first few adventures were ideally against a tribe of goblins, following a leader who took on the goblin's leader (who fought like a hobgoblin, according to the books).

wumpus
2015-12-11, 05:31 PM
Just not housecats...

I get the impression OD&D and AD&D have a drastically different view of 'adventurers' than modern RPGs tend to - your typical adventurer was a statistically average schnook (roll 3d6 six times, in order!), and it seems like 'adventuring' was the equivalent of heading to Las Vegas with all your savings in one pocket and a pistol with one bullet in the other.

Do I have the heart to tell you about Traveler?

You think characters died early and often in AD&D, the most popular "space opera" game of the time was called Traveler (presumably now called 1e traveler). If you want to make a traveler character, bring a bunch of papers because they have a tendency to die while being rolled up. Not only that, but the "deluxe box" edition that I had included a "pre-made adventure" (note the vast galaxy of traveler didn't make for the hand-held dungeons of D&D modules, this was just a list of planets and a bare set of stats for each, possibly some areas of interest). It more or less assumed one character mustered out with the scout ship...

Guess how many brave characters have to die before you get the rolls needed to get that scout ship (obviously, in such a game you either have decent rolls or a scout ship. But that is another story).

PS. Dungeons and Dragons Online has an autogranted feat to all characters called "heroic toughness" or some such. It adds 30hp to all new characters. This is enough to (usually) survive the powercreep of DDO (but made it hard to convince newbies that they really needed all the constitution they could add because eventually that 30hp will be a small portion of their overall hp total).

CharonsHelper
2015-12-11, 06:32 PM
Also, many (most?) DMs would tell you to re-roll, or have you roll several times. One DM looked at my character sheet and said, "He never leaves the farm. He marries a farm girl, has a good life, and dies in bed. Now roll up an adventurer."

But we also used the low rolls. I once rolled STR 4, DEX 16, CHA high, WIS low, and the rest low-to-average. I was considering dumping him, when the DM said, "That's a nine-year-old kid. He could get away with anything." So I went with it - in large part because the character idea was exciting to both me and the DM.

Plus - the stats were set up to work oddly on tables - so being a bit below average often didn't give significant penalties - if any penalty at all for most things, so it wasn't as character-destroying to have a martial with a STR of 4. (still not good)

Not to mention - if you survived long enough to get good magic gear - the stat boosting items set them to a specific stat rather than giving a +X to your current stat. (I remember that my Baldur's Gate II characters always dropped Charisma down to 3 because there was a ring you got really early in the game which set it at 18.)

Amphetryon
2015-12-12, 10:07 AM
Back then, nobody was stupid enough to expect a housecat to do life-threatening damage. "Hit points" did not represent paper cuts or claw marks on the arm. If it won't kill, it won't do hit points.

Ah, so anyone whose experiences were different than yours is both lying (since nobody had the experience) and stupid. I see. Thanks for entirely marginalizing and invalidating my experiences.

Mark Hall
2015-12-12, 10:18 AM
Plus - the stats were set up to work oddly on tables - so being a bit below average often didn't give significant penalties - if any penalty at all for most things, so it wasn't as character-destroying to have a martial with a STR of 4. (still not good)

It varied. IIRC, your Dex could be as low as 7 and have no penalties. Your Con could be as low as 6 and you'd be fine (though System Shock and Resurrection Survival would tank). AD&D, lower-than-average stats would have an effect, but bonuses and penalties tended to be a standard deviation away from the norm, not just anything under the norm.


Not to mention - if you survived long enough to get good magic gear - the stat boosting items set them to a specific stat rather than giving a +X to your current stat. (I remember that my Baldur's Gate II characters always dropped Charisma down to 3 because there was a ring you got really early in the game which set it at 18.)

Again, it varied. Gauntlets of Dexterity gave a bonus, for example... but also gave thieving skills.

Jay R
2015-12-12, 10:43 AM
Ah, so anyone whose experiences were different than yours is both lying (since nobody had the experience) and stupid. I see. Thanks for entirely marginalizing and invalidating my experiences.

I don't believe I said any of that. If you want to accuse me of saying something, copy my actual words. I'm pretty sure I didn't even mention your experiences with the original game of D&D in the mid-70s.

But my point is true - housecats were not listed in the original D&D book Monsters and Treasure as monsters who dealt actual damage., They really weren't. No rules writer of that time was stupid enough to write rules in which housecats dealt out deadly damage.

I was talking differences caused by the rules of the game. If you have experiences with original D&D in which housecats were added and dealt killing damage, then hthat has nothing to do with the differences caused by the rules, and were beyond the scope of my comments.

wumpus
2015-12-12, 11:08 AM
Plus - the stats were set up to work oddly on tables - so being a bit below average often didn't give significant penalties - if any penalty at all for most things, so it wasn't as character-destroying to have a martial with a STR of 4. (still not good)

Not to mention - if you survived long enough to get good magic gear - the stat boosting items set them to a specific stat rather than giving a +X to your current stat. (I remember that my Baldur's Gate II characters always dropped Charisma down to 3 because there was a ring you got really early in the game which set it at 18.)

I'm pretty sure that AD&D (1e) had hard requirements for classes. Lower than a 9 in the primary stat meant you couldn't be a certain class. Lower than 7 meant a certain class was mandatory. Even the creator of the Tomb of Horrors would keep a STR 4, INT 8 (must be magic user (possibly illusionist), but can't be either) on the farm.

The real kicker was the paladin requirements (charisma 17). And don't expect to get big bonuses with it either.

Jay R
2015-12-12, 12:06 PM
I'm pretty sure that AD&D (1e) had hard requirements for classes.

Certainly. But he wasn't talking about that later game. He was talking about original D&D, which came out before either Basic D&D or Advanced D&D.

It's hard for people who started playing later to realize the much lower effect of stats in original D&D. Saving throws were based on class and level, but not on any stat. There was a 5% xp bonus for 13-14, and 10% for 15+, but that was the biggest effect, except for DEX on thief skills and extremely high STR for Fighters.

STR 16 gave you +1 to hit, and +1 damage (after Greyhawk came out).
DEX affected Thief skills, dodging (but only for DEX over 14)
INT affected spells, but you solved puzzles by solving them yourself, not by rolling.
WIS affected clerics only, pretty much, and only their xp bonus. There were no skills, and no Will Saves.
CON of 15+ added to your hit points, up to +3 for CON 18. It also affected resurrection and spell survival.
CHA affected whether you could be a paladin, how many followers you could have, and an NPC's initial reaction to you. Any later change in reactions was role-played, without dice.

Mostly, you need to realize that the original game was printed on 28 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper (plus covers). It wasn't so much a game as a framework for how the DM could make up a game.

Once AD&D came out, and they tried to cover everything in the rules, and make the stats affect more of the game, the 3d6 rolling also pretty much disappeared.

Nifft
2015-12-12, 12:33 PM
IMHO the love for level 1 is two parts:
1 - Nostalgia.
2 - Some editions fell apart mechanically at high levels, therefore starting at the lowest possible level meant the longest span of play before the mechanics broke.

How well that worked depends on the specific edition:

In OD&D and 1e, starting at level 1 was fun because of the challenge involved in getting to level 2 and beyond. Death was expected and acceptable because character generation was quick, and I didn't get invested in a character until he'd lived for a while.

In 2e and 3e, where character generation stopped being quick, and I felt like I was expected to already be invested in my character before his first combat. Death stopped being acceptable, but low-level lethality remained high, therefore low-level stopped feeling like an acceptable place to start.

In 4e, low-level was not particularly lethal, and low-level felt like a fine place to start -- if you didn't mind that all characters were certified badasses at level 1. The fact that all characters were viable and able to contribute at all levels did help a lot.

In 5e, from what I've seen so far, low-level feels like an acceptable place to start. It's got a lot of 1e and 3e look & feel, but with some mechanical leanings towards 4e lethality.

Arbane
2015-12-12, 05:53 PM
But my point is true - housecats were not listed in the original D&D book Monsters and Treasure as monsters who dealt actual damage., They really weren't. No rules writer of that time was stupid enough to write rules in which housecats dealt out deadly damage.


I dimly remember reading some AD&D adventure where touching a hot oven did 1d4 damage - enough to kill a level 0 peasant.

Pot holders are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

Amphetryon
2015-12-12, 06:03 PM
I dimly remember reading some AD&D adventure where touching a hot oven did 1d4 damage - enough to kill a level 0 peasant.

Pot holders are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

I recall the same issue. I also recall actual modules* where housepets were actually listed as threats, in that they had stat blocks and the potential to be encountered as combatants. Funny, that.

*And, no, I cannot name the specific modules, at this point in time. That makes me imperfect, but it doesn't make my statement a lie.

Âmesang
2015-12-12, 07:03 PM
But my point is true - housecats were not listed in the original D&D book Monsters and Treasure as monsters who dealt actual damage., They really weren't. No rules writer of that time was stupid enough to write rules in which housecats dealt out deadly damage.
I vividly remember waking up in the middle of the night, unable to breath, with my 20+ lb. male cat pressing his paws down upon my throat. :smalleek:

When your pet is hungry you'll feed 'em… one way or another.

gadren
2015-12-12, 10:24 PM
I've been DMing for over 20 years, and I gave up starting at level 1 a LONG time ago, except for one time about 5 years ago. I always start at at least level 2 for the following reasons:

1. Squishiness. One hit from even the lowliest monster has the potential to take a PC out. The one time I decided to give level 1 a go again 5 years ago, the party got wiped out by a small group of kobolds because the dice just rolled against them. Even when I start a game at level 2, I typically give everyone 10 extra hp to start with.
2. Encouraging backstory. Yeah, in literature it works really well when the character starts as a peasant or whatever, but because it is a narrative he gets to survive to those higher levels. Many experienced players will not put a lot of effort into a backstory for a PC that has 30% chance of dying before he becomes competent.
3. More flexible build concepts. At level 1, you are locked into one class. If someone wants to combine two classes into their concept, they have to wait to level 2 to really play what they want to play. There were those variant level 1 multiclassing rules in the 3.0 DMG, but there is a reason they didn't make it to 3.5

That being said, I do have fond memories of one 2nd edition games where we all started off at level 0, apprenticing into our desired classes. But the DM had to REALLY obviously coddle us to keep us alive.

Knaight
2015-12-14, 12:22 PM
It's hard for people who started playing later to realize the much lower effect of stats in original D&D. Saving throws were based on class and level, but not on any stat. There was a 5% xp bonus for 13-14, and 10% for 15+, but that was the biggest effect, except for DEX on thief skills and extremely high STR for Fighters.

It's really not. The math involved in understanding the effects is fairly simple and extremely familiar, a cursory read of the rules is about all it takes to pick up on that.

ImNotTrevor
2015-12-14, 01:45 PM
I'm currently in a hexcrawl with some unique twists to levelling that I think are relevant to this discussion:

Everyone (for now) starts at lvl 1. This is done because I want to establish the fragility of life as early as possible. Yes. Characters will die. The setting is an untamed coastal region with LOTS of dangers. Having them begin at lvl 1 allows me to enforce the idea early on that this world is dangerous.

But since characters are persistent, and we can't have a lvl 1 character hop in among lvl 6 characters.... they have The Idol. The Idol is a thing back at their starting town that they can dump XP into, and it levels up like a character. Whatever level the Idol is at is the starting level for new characters.

I think that levels can be used to encourage certain kinds of play. Lvl 1 encourages caution and instills a bit of survival-horror tension into otherwise simple encounters. So It's a useful tool.
But I usually start at lvl 3 for other campaigns because it gives me a wider range of options.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-14, 02:08 PM
It's really not. The math involved in understanding the effects is fairly simple and extremely familiar, a cursory read of the rules is about all it takes to pick up on that.

Most people don't have the 1e D&D rules to give a 'cursory read'.

Knaight
2015-12-14, 08:34 PM
Most people don't have the 1e D&D rules to give a 'cursory read'.

They have access to them, particularly given that there are dozens if not hundreds of retroclones. The claim wasn't that most modern gamers currently lack the knowledge, it's that it is somehow difficult for their puny brains to comprehend, as opposed to the towering intellects of old school gamers.* I'm calling BS on that.

*Slightly paraphrased, ambiguities resolved based on previous Jay R comments.

Jay R
2015-12-14, 08:49 PM
They have access to them, particularly given that there are dozens if not hundreds of retroclones. The claim wasn't that most modern gamers currently lack the knowledge, it's that it is somehow difficult for their puny brains to comprehend, as opposed to the towering intellects of old school gamers.* I'm calling BS on that.

*Slightly paraphrased, ambiguities resolved based on previous Jay R comments.

I never said or implied anything about "puny brains". I said that people who started with later games don't usually realize that the stats were less important then.

Yes, of course people can look it up, and understand them. A lack of knowledge was precisely what I meant. Making up nasty insults and pretending I wrote them does not serve any useful purpose.

Amphetryon
2015-12-14, 09:02 PM
I never said or implied anything about "puny brains". I said that people who started with later games don't usually realize that the stats were less important then.

Yes, of course people can look it up, and understand them. A lack of knowledge was precisely what I meant. Making up nasty insults and pretending I wrote them does not serve any useful purpose.


It's hard for people who started playing later to realize the much lower effect of stats in original D&D.

Plus, you know, choosing to use the term 'stupid' more than once in the thread.

Knaight
2015-12-14, 09:16 PM
I never said or implied anything about "puny brains". I said that people who started with later games don't usually realize that the stats were less important then.

Yes, of course people can look it up, and understand them. A lack of knowledge was precisely what I meant. Making up nasty insults and pretending I wrote them does not serve any useful purpose.

The statement reads as one about comprehension and not knowledge, and while I'll acknowledge that you never said anything about "puny brains", the fact that multiple people are reading that as implied sure suggests that you implied it. That's before getting into how the concept involved literally comes down to "The 3-18 rolls map to a narrower distribution with a bigger 0 or +/-1 portion", and as such stating that people can't understand that even while using a similar system has pretty obvious implications.

Ruslan
2015-12-15, 04:17 PM
It's hard for people who started playing later to realize the much lower effect of stats in original D&D.I'm sure it's not hard for anyone to realize that. It's just that most people choose not to consider that. And one can hardly blame them. The hours of our lives is limited, and making trite realizations about OD&D is pretty low on pretty much everyone's scale.

No need to confuse difficultly with lack of public interest.

Susano-wo
2015-12-15, 05:46 PM
Holy **** some over sensitivity creeping in here. :smalleek: He said its hard to grasp. He said its stupid to include stats for housecat damage. Agree or disagree, fine, but to say he was saying new school players are stupid or that you are lying (pssst, someone can be mistaken and not be lying :smallwink:), or that he is invalidating your experiences. Sheesh, calm down guys. :smallfrown:

As far as level one, I'm not too big of a fan, due to swingy squishiness (random crit can kill you from full--contrast that to the previously given fieball example where a non-wizard of average HP can't be killed from full by even a maxed out 5th lvl fireball), and severe reduction of possible workable character concepts. As previously noted any concept that requires multiclassing is right out.

That being said, I also don't think of 1st level as a nobody. As others have also said, a first level full BAB class in3.5+ has learned how to properly use all but the strangest weapons, and 1st level spellcasters can alter reality. These are not shmucks, even if they are not the most powerful characters (of course, the levels given to NPC in things like forgotten realms canon and such sort of contradict this, but I don't think its an inherent game assumption that low level characters are weak.)

Mark Hall
2015-12-16, 01:34 PM
The Mod Wonder: It would be best to drop the discussion of relative intelligence of different edition players. It crosses the line.

Quertus
2015-12-18, 03:28 PM
So, I've been thinking about this thread, and how I commented on how 1st level characters tend to die from crits from cr-appropriate challenges. It occurred to me that the same cr 1 orc barbarian would one-shot noticeably higher level characters, too. 22 str, 26 after raging, wielding a great axe in two hands... that should be 1d12+12 x3 crit, or 72 damage on a max-damage crit.

A cr 3 ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+18 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 102. 3rd level characters are still in danger of going from max hp to dead in a single crit.

A CR... 6?... 1/2-golem ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+27 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 129. There are a few builds that could survive that, but, for the most part, probably still max HP to dead in one hit.

So, a comment and a question: while a single crit can still take out characters at much higher levels than I have experienced or was expecting, a single max- damage hit (24 damage in the above example) would prove fatal to most 1st level characters, with more and more builds being able to survive a single max-damage hit as levels increase. So at least the higher level characters are more sustainable in that regard. But does anyone have a guess why I've seen so many 1st-level characters taken out by a crit, but haven't seen it at higher levels (say, 3rd-6th), when it is apparently still a valid concern?

daremetoidareyo
2015-12-18, 04:55 PM
So, I've been thinking about this thread, and how I commented on how 1st level characters tend to die from crits from cr-appropriate challenges. It occurred to me that the same cr 1 orc barbarian would one-shot noticeably higher level characters, too. 22 str, 26 after raging, wielding a great axe in two hands... that should be 1d12+12 x3 crit, or 72 damage on a max-damage crit.

A cr 3 ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+18 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 102. 3rd level characters are still in danger of going from max hp to dead in a single crit.

A CR... 6?... 1/2-golem ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+27 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 129. There are a few builds that could survive that, but, for the most part, probably still max HP to dead in one hit.

So, a comment and a question: while a single crit can still take out characters at much higher levels than I have experienced or was expecting, a single max- damage hit (24 damage in the above example) would prove fatal to most 1st level characters, with more and more builds being able to survive a single max-damage hit as levels increase. So at least the higher level characters are more sustainable in that regard. But does anyone have a guess why I've seen so many 1st-level characters taken out by a crit, but haven't seen it at higher levels (say, 3rd-6th), when it is apparently still a valid concern?

Damage output by the PCs is probably the biggest thing. By level 2 or 3, the ability to hit someone in medium armor is more secured.

ComaVision
2015-12-18, 05:07 PM
@Quertus

Confirmation bias? I've personally never seen a 1st level PC die.

Arbane
2015-12-18, 05:22 PM
They have access to them, particularly given that there are dozens if not hundreds of retroclones. The claim wasn't that most modern gamers currently lack the knowledge, it's that it is somehow difficult for their puny brains to comprehend, as opposed to the towering intellects of old school gamers.* I'm calling BS on that.

*Slightly paraphrased, ambiguities resolved based on previous Jay R comments.

I suspect most gamers just don't care, for roughly the same reason that I don't study DOS interrupts for my computer job.

Knaight
2015-12-18, 06:12 PM
I suspect most gamers just don't care, for roughly the same reason that I don't study DOS interrupts for my computer job.

Well, yeah. The point is, there's a difference between being unable to find something out because it is somehow difficult, and not finding something out because you don't care.

Nifft
2015-12-18, 06:18 PM
So, I've been thinking about this thread, and how I commented on how 1st level characters tend to die from crits from cr-appropriate challenges. It occurred to me that the same cr 1 orc barbarian would one-shot noticeably higher level characters, too. 22 str, 26 after raging, wielding a great axe in two hands... that should be 1d12+12 x3 crit, or 72 damage on a max-damage crit.

A cr 3 ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+18 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 102. 3rd level characters are still in danger of going from max hp to dead in a single crit.

A CR... 6?... 1/2-golem ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+27 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 129. There are a few builds that could survive that, but, for the most part, probably still max HP to dead in one hit.

So, a comment and a question: while a single crit can still take out characters at much higher levels than I have experienced or was expecting, a single max- damage hit (24 damage in the above example) would prove fatal to most 1st level characters, with more and more builds being able to survive a single max-damage hit as levels increase. So at least the higher level characters are more sustainable in that regard. But does anyone have a guess why I've seen so many 1st-level characters taken out by a crit, but haven't seen it at higher levels (say, 3rd-6th), when it is apparently still a valid concern?

The main problem here is that you're trying to equate using a monster out of the book at level 1 with custom advancement by level and obscure template stacking for levels 3 and 6.

The former is something a n00b DM might do -- the sort of person who is unfamiliar with the dangers present in that decision.

The latter is more characteristic of an experienced DM, who presumably has had more experience and might be more familiar with the dangers.

Milo v3
2015-12-18, 06:54 PM
I don't like level one most of the time, because I'm not interested playing characters who aren't heroes in most games.

Quertus
2015-12-18, 11:04 PM
@Quertus

Confirmation bias? I've personally never seen a 1st level PC die.

As a professional tester (among other vocations) and psychology enthusiast, I might take umbrage at the notion that I might somehow fail to notice a character going from full HP to dead... if I hadn't already boggled at how confirmation bias has affected some of my otherwise very intelligent friends in the past. So, although a good guess, I pause and consider... then reject that notion. :)

That having been said, I am now boggling at the notion of never having seen a 1st level character die. Even discounting suicidal noob mistakes (like jumping out of a 5th flour window with only 2 HP), PvP, or killer DMs - all of which I have seen far too much of, especially at 1st level - I'm trying to imagine the sample size required to, on average, see 1 PC death before reaching level 2, when gaining XP exclusively from CR appropriate creatures and traps, if the DM does not fudge any rolls.

Heck, I've even seen 1st level PCs dropped into the negatives who could have been saved, but no one bothered to heal them before they bled out, and even players who insisted that their characters died at 0 HP. Hmmm... if all the players always take the troll-blooded feat, this could skew the results drastically, I suppose.

On the other hand, I can say that I've never seen a character die in a L5R or Werewolf game, or in a D&D game played at level 50 ("not to 50!")... because I've never seen such a game.

Susano-wo
2015-12-18, 11:41 PM
So, I've been thinking about this thread, and how I commented on how 1st level characters tend to die from crits from cr-appropriate challenges. It occurred to me that the same cr 1 orc barbarian would one-shot noticeably higher level characters, too. 22 str, 26 after raging, wielding a great axe in two hands... that should be 1d12+12 x3 crit, or 72 damage on a max-damage crit.

A cr 3 ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+18 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 102. 3rd level characters are still in danger of going from max hp to dead in a single crit.

A CR... 6?... 1/2-golem ogre barbarian would deal 2d8+27 x3 crit, or max damage crit of 129. There are a few builds that could survive that, but, for the most part, probably still max HP to dead in one hit.

So, a comment and a question: while a single crit can still take out characters at much higher levels than I have experienced or was expecting, a single max- damage hit (24 damage in the above example) would prove fatal to most 1st level characters, with more and more builds being able to survive a single max-damage hit as levels increase. So at least the higher level characters are more sustainable in that regard. But does anyone have a guess why I've seen so many 1st-level characters taken out by a crit, but haven't seen it at higher levels (say, 3rd-6th), when it is apparently still a valid concern?

Yeah, when prepping my last post I came across the orc and its ludicrous damage in relation to 1st level character HP. Though the default orc is a warrior, not a barb, though barb is, hilariously, still CR1 since orc has no LA :smallconfused:

The other thing to consider, when talking about the lethality of an encounter, is even when rolling crits, rolling max damage is really rare, so that damage total doesn't necessarily need to be accounted for (and, again, though an axe wielding orc is still a CR 1 encounter, the default weapon is a falchion, a x2 crit weapon)

AdmiralCheez
2015-12-19, 10:18 AM
I actually have never seen a level 1 PC die either; then again, I've only played in two games where we started at level 1. We've come close though. Several PCs at that level were dropped to zero but were healed at the last second, and another two I've seen take crits that, if it had done one more point of damage, would have insta-killed them from massive damage. (In 5e, if the damage you take puts you at zero and the excess is more than your maximum hit points, you straight-up die.) So it's quite possible.

goto124
2015-12-19, 10:43 AM
(In 5e, if the damage you take puts you at zero and the excess is more than your maximum hit points, you straight-up die.)

Wait... that sounds like a huge negative HP buffer. Is that true in 5e?

Good thing for that, too!

tyckspoon
2015-12-20, 04:31 PM
Yeah, when prepping my last post I came across the orc and its ludicrous damage in relation to 1st level character HP. Though the default orc is a warrior, not a barb, though barb is, hilariously, still CR1 since orc has no LA :smallconfused:

The other thing to consider, when talking about the lethality of an encounter, is even when rolling crits, rolling max damage is really rare, so that damage total doesn't necessarily need to be accounted for (and, again, though an axe wielding orc is still a CR 1 encounter, the default weapon is a falchion, a x2 crit weapon)

I think comparing minimum and average damage helps show the picture better; for example, your standard Orc Warrior with falchion deals at least 6 damage, averages 9, and maxes at 12. With no crit. That's enough damage to drop a d4-d8 hd character in one shot and a frighteningly large amount for a d10 or 12. With a crit, that's a minimum hit of 12 points, average 18, max 24. Everybody is potentially dropped from that and most can be blown straight through to dead. CR 3 ogre is.. Well, still pretty dangerous, although his weakest hits aren't much better than the orcs - min 9, average 16, max 23. Works out pretty close to the orc; your beefy types still don't want to tangle with it long and your squishy types just collapse. So.. Let's not tangle with it. Fight it at range. Ogres ranged option: javelin, +1 to hit 6 to 14 damage. Pretty sad. What happens when you do this with the orcs? +1 to hit, 2 to 9 damage. Level 1 characters care about those numbers in ways level 3 characters don't for the similar ogre. And that's why level 1 is so much more lethal, I think; even the bad option is good enough to be a viable threat, and As you go higher, not only do your options increase, but so does enemy specialization. A level 5 melee brute probably doesn't have a relevant ranged attack. A level 1 melee brute just has to pick up a javelin or sling. So you can entangle the level 5 dude and laugh at him where the level 1 guy can still legitimately threaten you, and you can kite that ogre to death while having a ranged fight with a pack of kobolds at 1 probably gets somebody killed.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-20, 08:11 PM
I like starting at level one as it gives everyone a chance to know the characters, both the role and roll playing sides. The rules are important, as so, so, so, so many players are just wrong about so, so so, so, so many rules. It's bad enough a first level, but at least the characters don't have any options to really make things go crazy. Like when the 5th level illusionist on the first round of combat uses silent image to ''make an illusion the troll is on fire and burns him to a crisp in one round''.

It is much easier to iron out any crazy ideas players might have at level one. Even just explaining the simple ''you say what you want to try and do, roll the 1d20, and we see if you do it''. This is much easier to handle when the character is just trying to lasso something, and not ''tying the rope around my bag of holding and swinging it into the portable hole ''.

Milo v3
2015-12-20, 10:52 PM
I like starting at level one as it gives everyone a chance to know the characters, both the role and roll playing sides. The rules are important, as so, so, so, so many players are just wrong about so, so so, so, so many rules. It's bad enough a first level, but at least the characters don't have any options to really make things go crazy. Like when the 5th level illusionist on the first round of combat uses silent image to ''make an illusion the troll is on fire and burns him to a crisp in one round''.
That's not a "not knowing the rules", that's "not knowing the meaning of the word illusion". I don't think I've ever seen someone make their character focused around a word they don't know the meaning of.

PrincessCupcake
2015-12-21, 12:42 AM
I had a DM make the mistake of starting more than one person who had never played D&D 3.5 at level 14 with a group that was otherwise high optimization with no real tutorial. One was a druid. NEVER AGAIN.

If starting with a new system or inexperienced players, level 1 is one of the better starting points, though anything below 5 can work. You get enough tools to be a unique character, but not enough to be overwhelmed.

If a new player must start at anything above 5th, the DM should probably take a bit of extra time going through options and help them build their concept and explaining the basics. If they must start above 10th, there should probably be a major tutorial involved. Some GMs do not have that kind of time.

Pluto!
2015-12-21, 02:32 AM
This thread makes me want to try reaching wildly for an excuse to act offended. It looks like a really, really rich way to get my righteous indignation on.

hifidelity2
2015-12-21, 05:19 AM
I don't like level one most of the time, because I'm not interested playing characters who aren't heroes in most games.

“Unfortunately” (or not!) I am the opposite. I enjoy taking a Character from Level 1 (or the equivalent in other systems) as I find that how the act in low level senarious helps me shape them into individual characters rather than them just being “A Wizard”, “A fighter” etc)

We play a lot of GURPS and one house rule is to allow the 5 points of quirks (it gives you 5 extra points to spend which if it’s a 25 point starting character is a lot) to be determined as you play but youi get to spend the points at the start. This allow you to help shape your character

For example I have a PC that was attacked by giant spiders, bitten and just survived – he how has a quirk – Arachnophobia (1 point). He is now many adventures later an expert swordsman but will if given half a chance not go near any form of spider

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 06:15 AM
“Unfortunately” (or not!) I am the opposite. I enjoy taking a Character from Level 1 (or the equivalent in other systems) as I find that how the act in low level senarious helps me shape them into individual characters rather than them just being “A Wizard”, “A fighter” etc)
I'm confused by this. Why would starting at a higher level mean the character would have any more or less personality and individuality than starting at level one? Either way you have to think about what events have shaped them into the person they are today.

Esprit15
2015-12-21, 06:17 AM
“Unfortunately” (or not!) I am the opposite. I enjoy taking a Character from Level 1 (or the equivalent in other systems) as I find that how the act in low level senarious helps me shape them into individual characters rather than them just being “A Wizard”, “A fighter” etc)

We play a lot of GURPS and one house rule is to allow the 5 points of quirks (it gives you 5 extra points to spend which if it’s a 25 point starting character is a lot) to be determined as you play but youi get to spend the points at the start. This allow you to help shape your character

For example I have a PC that was attacked by giant spiders, bitten and just survived – he how has a quirk – Arachnophobia (1 point). He is now many adventures later an expert swordsman but will if given half a chance not go near any form of spider

This is the primary reason I like starting at low level. There are a lot of things that can define or flesh out a character that will pretty much only happen early in an adventuring career, back when mistakes tend to be more common and less lethal. Those quirks of paranoia or fear have their own backstories that they played will happily tell you about. Up until he died, I had a silver dragon in a game with a fear of snakes thanks to an encounter when he was little. Him and a copper dragon friend were exploring some ruins that turned out to be inhabited by yuan-ti, and got overwhelmed and nearly killed. Random little thing, but it helped make him unique.

The more explanation you can have for why a character is the way they are, the better, in my opinion. Same game, he had to pick up Hill Dwarven as a language for a town that the party wound up running for a few years, but since I lacked the INT, that meant actually investing skill points in a language that may very well not come up again. At higher level, sure, he could have just cast Tongues, but that wasn't an option at the time. That climb from low level to high level may leave you less optimized because there are things that you need to expend resources on in the moment that you wouldn't have to worry about later, and having story behind that leaves a character more interesting in my opinion.

hifidelity2
2015-12-21, 07:07 AM
Originally Posted by hifidelity2
“Unfortunately” (or not!) I am the opposite. I enjoy taking a Character from Level 1 (or the equivalent in other systems) as I find that how the act in low level senarious helps me shape them into individual characters rather than them just being “A Wizard”, “A fighter” etc)
I'm confused by this. Why would starting at a higher level mean the character would have any more or less personality and individuality than starting at level one? Either way you have to think about what events have shaped them into the person they are today.

There is no reason why the 10th (Chosen at Random) level Character will not over time gain a "Personality". I will do some from of back story but this is a sketch and it takes time and experience to flesh it out and for the story (adventures) to mould the PC's personality, goals etc
In the D&D games we play we allow Alignments to change over time if it can be justified. My low level (1:1) Rogue /Wizard went from NE to LE over a number of adventures and levels. The PCs experiences shaped how they would interact with the world by the time they came powerful enough to shape it

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 07:16 AM
There is no reason why the 10th (Chosen at Random) level Character will not over time gain a "Personality". I will do some from of back story but this is a sketch and it takes time and experience to flesh it out and for the story (adventures) to mould the PC's personality, goals etc
In the D&D games we play we allow Alignments to change over time if it can be justified. My low level (1:1) Rogue /Wizard went from NE to LE over a number of adventures and levels. The PCs experiences shaped how they would interact with the world by the time they came powerful enough to shape it

I sincerely do not understand how starting at different levels would alter or change that in anyway unless you started at level 18 or something.

Esprit15
2015-12-21, 07:23 AM
I sincerely do not understand how starting at different levels would alter or change that in anyway unless you started at level 18 or something.

Consider how much someone mentally grows and changes between 10 years and 20 years, versus between 50 and 60.

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 07:26 AM
Consider how much someone mentally grows and changes between 10 years and 20 years, versus between 50 and 60.
Except there is no reason why you have to have been adventuring for years to have reached your current level, so both can be "starting their personal journey".

Esprit15
2015-12-21, 08:17 AM
Except there is no reason why you have to have been adventuring for years to have reached your current level, so both can be "starting their personal journey".

But who starts adventuring at level 18? How did they get 17 of those levels?

Amphetryon
2015-12-21, 08:18 AM
Except there is no reason why you have to have been adventuring for years to have reached your current level, so both can be "starting their personal journey".

For some Players, events that take place during play provide an impetus for Character growth which they would not have otherwise considered; as starting at lower levels presumably allows for the Character to experience a greater number of events during play (rather than during backstory), the odds of a Character for such a Player growing in ways the Player had not originally considered become considerably greater. So, for example, a Ranger who was conceived as an enemy of the Elves may find during game-play that the Giants are a bigger threat, and she actually needs to brook a treaty with the Elves. . . neither of which would necessarily have occurred to the Player without the framework of the game as it actually played.

This is not the only way to play, nor is it universally the best. It works best for some Players, though.

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 09:12 AM
But who starts adventuring at level 18? How did they get 17 of those levels?
1. If you recall I specifically said "Unless your starting at level 18 or something"
2. Depends on your backstory. I've played characters who started adventuring at levels 5, 8, 13, and even 15. Some of those were prodigies, one was playing a construct race who came with his class levels innately, one was a powerful outsider and was formed with powerful elemental magic to begin with, one was part of a culture that are all high level as standard, I've played a character who was prophesied, etc., etc., I think you get the idea.


For some Players, events that take place during play provide an impetus for Character growth which they would not have otherwise considered; as starting at lower levels presumably allows for the Character to experience a greater number of events during play (rather than during backstory), the odds of a Character for such a Player growing in ways the Player had not originally considered become considerably greater. So, for example, a Ranger who was conceived as an enemy of the Elves may find during game-play that the Giants are a bigger threat, and she actually needs to brook a treaty with the Elves. . . neither of which would necessarily have occurred to the Player without the framework of the game as it actually played.

This is not the only way to play, nor is it universally the best. It works best for some Players, though.
Except character growth spawned by ingame action can still occur. A character who has been played for x amount of time from level y, doesn't really have any reason to have a higher or lower chance of situations and experiences in-which to grow and develop than a character who has been played for the same x amount of time from level z.

A level five character who started at level one will likely be more developed than a level five character who started at level five, I'm sure we can all agree that that is "generally" true. But I don't really see why a level five character who started at level one would would be more developed than a level nine character who started at level five.

Cluedrew
2015-12-21, 09:53 AM
I'm confused by this. Why would starting at a higher level mean the character would have any more or less personality and individuality than starting at level one? Either way you have to think about what events have shaped them into the person they are today.Well look at it this way, a character's currant development is a combination of their backstory and in play experiences. D=B+P to give a very simplified model.

Now in P (in play experiences) is roughly linear with the levels the character has gone through. So a character that has gone from 1-20 will have approximately 10 times the in play experiences as a character that started at level 18 when they reach epic level. B (background) on the other hand can grow to fill some of this gap, but there is a limit of how much background can be shown at any time otherwise it starts to get in the way of what is happening currently. And some times it doesn't grow at all, the character is just more impressive for reasons no more complex or interesting than why a level 1 character is not as impressive.

You gave an example of 1-9 vs. 5-9. By level 20 there may be no noticeable difference, but at 9 the one has had twice the adventures as someone else. That is a pretty big difference.

To put it shortly, character growth tends to happen with time, starting at a lower level gives you more time with a character.

Amphetryon
2015-12-21, 10:06 AM
Except character growth spawned by ingame action can still occur. A character who has been played for x amount of time from level y, doesn't really have any reason to have a higher or lower chance of situations and experiences in-which to grow and develop than a character who has been played for the same x amount of time from level z.

A level five character who started at level one will likely be more developed than a level five character who started at level five, I'm sure we can all agree that that is "generally" true. But I don't really see why a level five character who started at level one would would be more developed than a level nine character who started at level five.
"Except" reads as indicating what follows was not considered in my response; it was, explicitly. I merely indicated that the odds of such Character growth from in-game action are greater when there are more levels of the Character's growth that happen during game-play, rather than during backstory, assuming the same length of Character arc. A 9th level Character has more opportunities for in-game growth when started in the game at 1st level than a 9th level Character who started in the game at 5th. This is an incentive, at some tables and for some Players, to favor starting with low-level Characters.

goto124
2015-12-21, 11:20 AM
Starting at a higher level means playing at a much higher power level right from the start. Which can mean skipping over or going too fast through much of the intended content and level play for the game.

Socratov
2015-12-21, 12:21 PM
Starting at a higher level means playing at a much higher power level right from the start.

So, you're making the equivalent of 1=1?
Which can mean skipping over or going too fast through much of the intended content and level play for the game.this depends on the content and the number (or rather relative part of) levels skipped. This is hugely player dependant, and equally DM dependant since some DM's want to start out small, while other rather go right to the action and high power stuff without wanting to take the time to set the characters up and provide them with enough exp to get them where the 'real' adventure can start.

it is also (tangentally) depedant on the type of story you want to tell: not everyone wants to play 'zero to hero' (which starting at lvl 1 is all about), some want to skip the training part of the journey and care more about other story telling mechanics (personal growth, spiritual growth, finding oneself, seeking to restore the balance both within without). instead of a growth in power. And yes, I know one does not exclude the other, but the growth of power is not always what one seeks in his/her adventure.

And then let's turn it around: how many characters are actually played all the way to 20? I am curious because I have never, ever reached any level higher then 12, even when starting out at lvl 5. considering that at high level you get a lot more toys to play with one could argue that by starting higher you give up less (potential) content then by stopping early.

so, what is the factor that limits the content experienced? I'd say the story: if the story starts higher level, you are going to miss a few levels, if you end early you miss out on a lot of potential story. What limits characters in content experienced is the story told, not the starting level.

having said that the question does not become what is the appropriate starting level, but rather what power is the story you're telling asking for? What toys are appropriate for this story to be used? To me it falls in the same category as the statement: "A wizard is never late, nor will he be early as he arrives always exactly when he means to". It's all up to what is supposed to happen.

DireSickFish
2015-12-21, 12:44 PM
I keep wanting to say that there are more opportunities to set the characters development and change who they are in the beginning levels. It is easily countered by the argument that it's the sessions of development and play after character creation hat matter.

It still feels like you are making bigger decisions about the character at lower levels. I often find spells I wouldn't normally keep or abilities while leveling. Options I would have to chose all at once when starting at a high level. My light cleric always has calm emotions prepped because it helps so much with interrogation and later stopped a dominated rogue from killing party members. Under normal circumstances starting at high levels I wouldn't have had it prepped, and indeed in this game I would have rotated it out if it didn't become useful.

I know you -can- grow into your character when starting at later level, or hit the ground running with a character concept that just works. It is just harder.

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 04:38 PM
Well look at it this way, a character's currant development is a combination of their backstory and in play experiences. D=B+P to give a very simplified model.

Now in P (in play experiences) is roughly linear with the levels the character has gone through. So a character that has gone from 1-20 will have approximately 10 times the in play experiences as a character that started at level 18 when they reach epic level. B (background) on the other hand can grow to fill some of this gap, but there is a limit of how much background can be shown at any time otherwise it starts to get in the way of what is happening currently. And some times it doesn't grow at all, the character is just more impressive for reasons no more complex or interesting than why a level 1 character is not as impressive.

You gave an example of 1-9 vs. 5-9. By level 20 there may be no noticeable difference, but at 9 the one has had twice the adventures as someone else. That is a pretty big difference.

To put it shortly, character growth tends to happen with time, starting at a lower level gives you more time with a character.
1. I gave an example of 1-5 vs. 5-9.
2. Most of the time games do not reach past a certain point because of boredom, lives getting in the way, and etc.
3. The example of comparing a character who has had 20 levels of play experience compared to 4 levels of play experience is innately flawed. Yes, a character who has been played longer will probably more complex, but that is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about characters who have been played for an equal amount of time.
4. There is no level cap in D&D/PF and even if there were that would not mean the game has to stop, many enjoy E6 for example because of it's level cap.
5. And yes, sometimes the character doesn't grow at all, but in my experience (thus I acknowledge this is anecdotal) that happens with level 1 characters just as often as it happens to level 5/10/15 characters.


"Except" reads as indicating what follows was not considered in my response; it was, explicitly. I merely indicated that the odds of such Character growth from in-game action are greater when there are more levels of the Character's growth that happen during game-play, rather than during backstory, assuming the same length of Character arc. A 9th level Character has more opportunities for in-game growth when started in the game at 1st level than a 9th level Character who started in the game at 5th. This is an incentive, at some tables and for some Players, to favor starting with low-level Characters.
Yes... Which is why I'm talking about characters who have equal amounts of playtime. You shouldn't be comparing a character who has had Nine levels of play to Four levels of play, as I am talking about Four levels of play to Four levels of play.


Starting at a higher level means playing at a much higher power level right from the start. Which can mean skipping over or going too fast through much of the intended content and level play for the game.
Not really, since what the "intended content and level play for the game" is is highly subjective. My group prefers mid to high levels and has done campaigns that started at level 15 without issue. Each group has it's own view on what is the preferred level of play.

Quertus
2015-12-21, 05:40 PM
I'm confused by this. Why would starting at a higher level mean the character would have any more or less personality and individuality than starting at level one? Either way you have to think about what events have shaped them into the person they are today.

There is no reason why the 10th (Chosen at Random) level Character will not over time gain a "Personality". I will do some from of back story but this is a sketch and it takes time and experience to flesh it out and for the story (adventures) to mould the PC's personality, goals etc
In the D&D games we play we allow Alignments to change over time if it can be justified. My low level (1:1) Rogue /Wizard went from NE to LE over a number of adventures and levels. The PCs experiences shaped how they would interact with the world by the time they came powerful enough to shape it

This is not an argument for starting at level one. This is an argument for playing the character for an extended period of time. And, by extension, potentially an argument for various ways to not have characters killed off (resurrection, fudging rolls, etc.).



I like starting at level one as it gives everyone a chance to know the characters, both the role and roll playing sides. The rules are important, as so, so, so, so many players are just wrong about so, so so, so, so many rules.

As a counterpoint, I dislike investing time in a character, only to learn, when he finally "comes on line", that he isn't what I expected / didn't work with the DMs unspoken house rules / doesn't work with the rest of the party once they come on line. I prefer starting a party with all the characters already having come online, to see how they work together, so that people can change characters if necessary before investing so much time and group history in them.

Cluedrew
2015-12-21, 05:43 PM
To Milo v3: It appears I misread your post. I think my argument still holds, just that it was not addressing what you were talking about.

I have another theory then, well I agree with arguments made on both sides but I have one new one.

In role-playing games, you play the story and are an active participant in shaping it and it is often an active participant. This is a very different experience than either just reading a story and also different from writing a story. If you start at a higher level you are replacing part of your character's story from one you played, who one you wrote. It makes sense that some people world be more interested in the play then writing.

Now this hardly covers all cases, but I doubt there is a single reason why. Most of the campaigns I've been in, starting level wasn't even discussed, it was a new campaign, a new set of characters and level 1. We had no reason to change that so we didn't. In short; why start at a higher level?

Quertus
2015-12-21, 05:51 PM
. Most of the campaigns I've been in, starting level wasn't even discussed, it was a new campaign, a new set of characters and level 1. We had no reason to change that so we didn't. In short; why start at a higher level?

The adventure is: you're a bunch of specialists who have never met before, who have been selected to save the world from epic threat X. Hardly works starting off at level one, IMO.

Submortimer
2015-12-21, 07:16 PM
With 5e as it is now, I tend to start my games at level 3 with my experienced players: You have your subclass, you have your basic abilities, and you're not in danger of being killed by a CR 1/4 cat. I view levels 1 and 2 as training wheels, getting you ready for when the game starts at level 3.

Raimun
2015-12-21, 08:16 PM
Well, the basic assumption of most RPG-rulebooks is that you start at the first level (or 0 xp, whatever equivalent term). This is the bare minimum competence level for protagonists and the rules as written can't allow you to go any lower.

Also, most people like to go with the basic assumptions, so you can do the math. Perhaps they feel that you should use them because they are there.

Sure, some stories do begin when the heroes are Level 1 (or 0 xp) but not all of them. Some stories feature more experienced heroes. There's nothing inherently wrong with either approach, it's all about how it is executed.

My group changes systems and campaings quite a lot, so I know what you mean when you say you're starting to feel a bit tired about Level 1 (or 0 xp) play. Sure, slaying doors, stealing orcs and kicking loot (or how did it go...?) is fun sometimes but sometimes you want to see something different, am I right?


To Milo v3 Most of the campaigns I've been in, starting level wasn't even discussed, it was a new campaign, a new set of characters and level 1. We had no reason to change that so we didn't. In short; why start at a higher level?

Because you want to do something different than your basic dungeon crawl?

I played once in a campaign where we started at mid-levels. The game was mainly about political intrigue and we all had small realms of land to rule, from the beginning. I'm pretty sure I only fought personally once in that campaign, because I mostly made my influence known from afar, as I built towns, forts and raised armies. I fought war kind of like Saruman. If I wanted to experience something like that in regular campaign, I would have to:

1) Wait for months and months of real life time to reach level 10+ and the level of competence my plans required
2) Somehow build an established position, with a lot of political power, within a government during your Standard Issue Dungeon Crawling Adventure (tm)
3) Eventually just renounce traditional adventuring life in favor of (geo-)political machinations
And 4) Hi-jack the whole (or at the least, a sizable portion) of the campaign so I could enact these machinations, apart from the rest of the party

So... it was kind of a good thing the GM had this idea and the rest were up for it. It was a fun campaign precisely because it was, as an experience, so different from your regular D&D-dungeon crawl. I also think it was more memorable as a story than the basic dungeon crawl.

Cluedrew
2015-12-21, 09:07 PM
The adventure is: you're a bunch of specialists who have never met before, who have been selected to save the world from epic threat X. Hardly works starting off at level one, IMO.
Because you want to do something different than your basic dungeon crawl?Both very good reasons for starting at a level higher than 1. I didn't mean to say there was no reason to start at a higher level, just that the groups I was in didn't have one. So we stuck with the default level 1. I wasn't trying to say anything broader than that.

Raimun
2015-12-21, 09:34 PM
Both very good reasons for starting at a level higher than 1. I didn't mean to say there was no reason to start at a higher level, just that the groups I was in didn't have one. So we stuck with the default level 1. I wasn't trying to say anything broader than that.

Ah, okay.

Like I said, there's nothing wrong with basic dungeon crawl, if that's your cup of tea. I find it fun sometimes but it's always interesting to try something new.

Milo v3
2015-12-21, 11:00 PM
I have another theory then, well I agree with arguments made on both sides but I have one new one.

In role-playing games, you play the story and are an active participant in shaping it and it is often an active participant. This is a very different experience than either just reading a story and also different from writing a story. If you start at a higher level you are replacing part of your character's story from one you played, who one you wrote. It makes sense that some people world be more interested in the play then writing.
I feel there is an innate flaw in this argument. Since it applies regardless of what level you are starting at, unless your character literally didn't exist before play.

Elderand
2015-12-21, 11:38 PM
I feel there is an innate flaw in this argument. Since it applies regardless of what level you are starting at, unless your character literally didn't exist before play.

You keep trying to force an erronous situation. Yes a character who is played for 4 levels total will see as much play if he start at level 1 or at level 10 but that's not the point people make.

The point is that a character played from 1 to 20 is going to see more growth than one played from 10 to 20.

And yes you could keep going indefinitly but even so, starting at low level will encourage a more varied character growth than starting at high level simply because the nature of challenge faced and situation encountered has a far greater variety if you go 1 to 20 than going 10 to 30.

The whole hero journey is done and over with if you start as a high level hero, so all those events happen in backstory and backstory events will always be less varied or interesting than ingame events simply due to the unexpected and interaction with other people while a backstory is borne solely from one mind.

goto124
2015-12-22, 12:45 AM
Any other examples of games that start at higher levels than one? I don't mean starting at level 3 to avoid squishness, but more like starting at level 7 to get multiclassing from the start or to delve straight into high-power-level play or something.

Milo v3
2015-12-22, 01:03 AM
Any other examples of games that start at higher levels than one? I don't mean starting at level 3 to avoid squishness, but more like starting at level 7 to get multiclassing from the start or to delve straight into high-power-level play or something.

Mutants and Masterminds starts you at tenth level.

goto124
2015-12-22, 01:09 AM
Wouldn't level 10 be the default starting level for MnM then, the way level 1 is the default starting level for DnD?

Milo v3
2015-12-22, 01:57 AM
Wouldn't level 10 be the default starting level for MnM then, the way level 1 is the default starting level for DnD?

Oh, I misunderstood the question.

I've started at higher levels because of story reasons, setting reasons, character ideas only being possible at certain levels.

Edit/Some specific examples include: One game I've played everyone was 10th level with a mythic rank (sorta like epic level rules for PF) because each player was meant to be power-players in the setting. In a game my group is currently planning each player starts as 15th level gestalt characters with a few mythic ranks (three of the PC's are literally gods). In one setting, the starting level for PC's is 10 to represent their blessed nature.

RickAllison
2015-12-22, 02:07 AM
My quick take on this is that starting from low levels is often beneficial for RP because you grow into the character through making the decisions as you go. Consider a Rogue 6/Wizard 6 character, he is going to have a very different story if he began as a Rogue 1 than as a Rogue 6/Wizard 2 or what-have-you. Someone who wishes to start with that build creates some backstory, perhaps having to do with being a magical assassin or some such, but the experience is very different for the person who has to start as a plain Rogue. What were the events that led the character to pursue magic? Was it a crazy old man in a dense forest? Did he find himself trapped somewhere without the use of his tools and vow to learn magic to make himself a better criminal? The slow unveiling of your character concept over the life of the character creates a much more interesting story (supposing the player is bothering to RP why he makes the level decisions he does).

As for the general flimsiness of level 1 PCs, I like the idea of using a non-combat chapter to begin the game, developing the story of the characters and having them learn in a way that doesn't leave them vulnerable to death by 1 bad roll. After that chapter, give enough XP to push them to second level and the characters are ready to actually set forth, but with the start of being ordinary!

Of course, this is assuming the goal is to create a growth arc for the characters. If the parties wants to use characters that are already legends (I'm partial to recycling past character concepts and stories), that assumption goes out the window, and level 1 parties would be totally pointless!

Knaight
2015-12-22, 11:21 AM
Well, the basic assumption of most RPG-rulebooks is that you start at the first level (or 0 xp, whatever equivalent term). This is the bare minimum competence level for protagonists and the rules as written can't allow you to go any lower.

No it isn't. Huge numbers of rule books have short tables for multiple different starting values depending on campaign style, frequently including those that drop below the seemingly bare minimum level (which is generally used for playing characters that are pretty inept).

Amphetryon
2015-12-22, 11:34 AM
No it isn't. Huge numbers of rule books have short tables for multiple different starting values depending on campaign style, frequently including those that drop below the seemingly bare minimum level (which is generally used for playing characters that are pretty inept).

Have you done the statistical analysis that indicates that 'most' is not an accurate indicator? Is the number of RPGs designed with different starting values specifically hard-coded into their play expectation statistically more than half?

Knaight
2015-12-22, 11:50 AM
Have you done the statistical analysis that indicates that 'most' is not an accurate indicator? Is the number of RPGs designed with different starting values specifically hard-coded into their play expectation statistically more than half?

Statistical analysis? No. Have I read a very large number of RPGs and observed informally that having one starting value is incredibly rare? Yes.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-22, 12:30 PM
Everyone keeps talking about how squishy level 1 characters are.

While true to some degree - as long as the GM is smart enough to avoid x3 & x4 crit weapons, the characters are unlikely to die. Drop into negative HP? Sure. But dropping all the way to -12 or -14 is pretty unlikely for what they should be fighting at level 1. That makes characters unlikely to die outside of a TPK.

Actually - that's one thing that I wish the game had - was increased negative HP before you die at higher levels - perhaps Con + (2x your level) or some such. (That and all insta-death spells just dropping you to -1.) Those would help with the lethality of the game at higher levels.

Milo v3
2015-12-22, 08:05 PM
I shall now check my systems for "starting past baseline character level rules" (and yes I know this is still completely anecdotal).

A Dirty World, no.
Anime Fightan Magick, no.
Ars Magica, no.
Cthulhutech, no.
Cyberpunk 2020, yes.
3.5e, yes.
4e, yes.
5e, sorta (it shows you how, but it isn't specifically listed as being "the way to play higher level characters").
Dead Inside, no.
Dread, not applicable.
Dynasty, no.
Eclipse Phase, yes.
Exalted, yes.
Godsrealm, no.
Legend, yes.
High School Harem Comedy, no.
Maid, no.
Monsterhearts, no.
Mutants and Masterminds, yes.
Mythender, no.
PTU, yes.
Shadowrun, yes.
Talislanta,
Chronicles of Darkness, yes.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-22, 08:24 PM
Everyone keeps talking about how squishy level 1 characters are.



In reality, all characters can be squishy. This is a common problem:

Some players get it into the idea they want to start at high level. The DM says' ok, and characters are made. The first problem is the players don't really get all the things a high level character can do. There sheet is full of things they have never used in game play, and even more so in combos. I've seen 'new' 15th level characters just stand there and make melee attacks against foes....as if that was all they could do. Spellcasters are worse with tons of spells the player has never even glanced at.

And then you get the delusion that high level equals god like. Where they think the character is all powerful, and burn out quick.

And finally just comes game play. When the characters are 15th, that makes the world around them that level too. So guards in the evil tower are not ''warrior 3'''s, they are much tougher...and higher level. High enough that they can have more skill ranks, abilities and so forth. So the player can get really bummed out as their character can't do thing like ''intimidate the world with an evil look''..

Susano-wo
2015-12-22, 08:45 PM
I think comparing minimum and average damage helps show the picture better; for example, your standard Orc Warrior with falchion deals at least 6 damage, averages 9, and maxes at 12. With no crit. That's enough damage to drop a d4-d8 hd character in one shot and a frighteningly large amount for a d10 or 12. With a crit, that's a minimum hit of 12 points, average 18, max 24. Everybody is potentially dropped from that and most can be blown straight through to dead. CR 3 ogre is.. Well, still pretty dangerous, although his weakest hits aren't much better than the orcs - min 9, average 16, max 23. Works out pretty close to the orc; your beefy types still don't want to tangle with it long and your squishy types just collapse. So.. Let's not tangle with it. Fight it at range. Ogres ranged option: javelin, +1 to hit 6 to 14 damage. Pretty sad. What happens when you do this with the orcs? +1 to hit, 2 to 9 damage. Level 1 characters care about those numbers in ways level 3 characters don't for the similar ogre. And that's why level 1 is so much more lethal, I think; even the bad option is good enough to be a viable threat, and As you go higher, not only do your options increase, but so does enemy specialization. A level 5 melee brute probably doesn't have a relevant ranged attack. A level 1 melee brute just has to pick up a javelin or sling. So you can entangle the level 5 dude and laugh at him where the level 1 guy can still legitimately threaten you, and you can kite that ogre to death while having a ranged fight with a pack of kobolds at 1 probably gets somebody killed.

Sure. My point was that the orc warrior as is is already pretty lethal, and that making it an Orc Barb with a greatsword makes it that much worse (though mindbogglingly still CR 1). And yeah, higher level characters do have better options to deal with opponents, making high lethality more avoidable, even if the numbers are comparable.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-22, 10:14 PM
And finally just comes game play. When the characters are 15th, that makes the world around them that level too. So guards in the evil tower are not ''warrior 3'''s, they are much tougher...and higher level. High enough that they can have more skill ranks, abilities and so forth. So the player can get really bummed out as their character can't do thing like ''intimidate the world with an evil look''..

Wait - your games have the Joe Schmo guards' levels inflate to match the characters'? That's... really lame.

Milo v3
2015-12-22, 11:09 PM
When the characters are 15th, that makes the world around them that level too.
That sounds boring.

Nifft
2015-12-22, 11:11 PM
That sounds boring.

There's a right way to do it ("the places that 15th-level characters tend to spend time are usually 15th-level places").

Also, there's a wrong way to do it ("now that you're level 15 all the guards in town are level 20 and all the locks are masterwork adamantine").

The wrong way can be quite boring, indeed.

The right way can be great.

Jayabalard
2015-12-23, 01:12 AM
It's dated because the difference in ability between a level 1 PC and a basic NPC has changed. A long time ago it used to be that there was no difference. A rank-and-file soldier actually used to be level 1 fighter, a veteran would be level 2 or 3, a city's captain-of-the-guard would be level 5-7 (higher if the city is larger), and a general would be a minimum of a level 10 fighter.Actually if you go back far enough, a rank and file soldier would be 0 level. A veteran would be a 1st level fighter.

A general wouldn't be level 10. That's a Lord.

Cluedrew
2015-12-23, 09:57 AM
I feel there is an innate flaw in this argument. Since it applies regardless of what level you are starting at, unless your character literally didn't exist before play.It is entirely possible that you are correct, by which I mean you are correct in some ways and not in others. Sure you could have a completely inexperienced character at high level, but usually they had some (implied) adventures to get there.

"The god Loki lost a bet with Thor and fled. Desperately avoiding the warrior god's wrath the trickster god tor open a moral's mind, crawled in and shut it behind him. That is how Jasmine got 9th level divine magic, regular headaches and the clergy of Thor angry at her." That works but the assumption that characters level up by way of there experiences is kind of baked into the system (and not just D&D), it is experience after all. Hence they have to have earned that xp somehow and that probably means some adventures you have to talk about, or at least hint at.

I'm not saying it is a valid assumption, but it is there and a lot of people use it.

Mutazoia
2015-12-24, 05:37 AM
I will be honest, I've never much seen the appeal in starting at level 1. I could understand it as necessary for certain tales. But I feel like a lot of the time it's forcing you to play a mostly defenseless schmuck for the sake of playing a mostly defenseless schmuck and 'earning' your levels.

Speaking mostly of D&D here. Because most other games I've played don't seem to have that feeling of 'you're level 1. You're SUPPOSED to suck.' going with them.

Most games I've seen have only ever really gotten started at level 5-6. Before that was just a mad scramble to not die.

Hey....it could be worse. 2nd ed (Greyhawk adventures) actually had rules for starting at level 0. Yup...the big goose-egg. You had to buy your basic class abilities with XP before you even got to claim to be a "mighty" level 1 schmuck.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-24, 07:53 AM
That sounds boring.

Sorry, but that is the way games like D&D work. As the characters rise in power and levels the whole world rises with them. Not everyone in the world, you'd still have commoner 2 farmers, but there will always be lots of creatures, monsters, foes and NPC's right below, at or over the PCs power level. No matter what the game world is always full of foes to challenge the PCs.


There's a right way to do it ("the places that 15th-level characters tend to spend time are usually 15th-level places").

Also, there's a wrong way to do it ("now that you're level 15 all the guards in town are level 20 and all the locks are masterwork adamantine").

The wrong way can be quite boring, indeed.

The right way can be great.

Well, first I'd ask if you do the reverse: are the elite royal guards 3rd level when the Pcs are 1st? Or are they a much higher level? See, it works both ways. Is the whole world low level what the Pcs are low level?

And what about the places where 15th level characters hang out like cities? Does the city become a ''15th level place''?

Also, if the DM does not increase the power level of the game, it really becomes pointless to play. It is just a waste of time to have 15th level Pcs fight warrior 1 kobolds or pick a DC 20 lock.

Mutazoia
2015-12-24, 08:27 AM
Sorry, but that is the way games like D&D work. As the characters rise in power and levels the whole world rises with them. Not everyone in the world, you'd still have commoner 2 farmers, but there will always be lots of creatures, monsters, foes and NPC's right below, at or over the PCs power level. No matter what the game world is always full of foes to challenge the PCs.



Well, first I'd ask if you do the reverse: are the elite royal guards 3rd level when the Pcs are 1st? Or are they a much higher level? See, it works both ways. Is the whole world low level what the Pcs are low level?

And what about the places where 15th level characters hang out like cities? Does the city become a ''15th level place''?

Also, if the DM does not increase the power level of the game, it really becomes pointless to play. It is just a waste of time to have 15th level Pcs fight warrior 1 kobolds or pick a DC 20 lock.

Pretty much. By the time PCs reach 15th level, they should either be retired (as in starting a new campaign) or should be off plane hopping, not schlepping around looking for level 15 elite palace guards.

One big problem with the newer versions of D&D (3.x that is) is the power balance. 2nd ed capped level advancement for most classes around 18, which pretty much meant they were basically crowned king and that was that. (Expert edition raised he level cap, but it was mostly just a bid to sell some more books...wasn't that well done or planned out).

With 3.X that kind of went out the window with unlimited level advancement, which forces DMs to constantly power up the PCs world right along with them, even past the point when it no longer makes any logical sense to do so.

Milo v3
2015-12-24, 08:29 AM
Sorry, but that is the way games like D&D work.
Nope.


As the characters rise in power and levels the whole world rises with them. Not everyone in the world, you'd still have commoner 2 farmers, but there will always be lots of creatures, monsters, foes and NPC's right below, at or over the PCs power level. No matter what the game world is always full of foes to challenge the PCs.
Alternatively, the world doesn't care about your level and that differently leveled things just exist where they exist regardless of your level. That's actually even an option described in the 3.5e DMG, start of the adventure design chapter iirc. Sure, you can have the world level up, that's another option in the DMG, but to me that'd feel artificial so that's not how I run my game. There are creatures, individuals and monsters of various levels all at the same time, if you bump into the ones too high level or too low level then that's what happens. The world doesn't need to magically

goto124
2015-12-24, 08:51 AM
should be off plane hopping, not schlepping around looking for level 15 elite palace guards.

They're plane hopping to the Plane of Crystal Castles, in search of the ever-mighty level 15 Crystal Elite Palace Guards.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-24, 11:29 AM
Sorry, but that is the way games like D&D work.

Yeah... no.


Well, first I'd ask if you do the reverse: are the elite royal guards 3rd level when the Pcs are 1st? Or are they a much higher level? See, it works both ways. Is the whole world low level what the Pcs are low level?

The world is the same level the whole time.



Also, if the DM does not increase the power level of the game, it really becomes pointless to play. It is just a waste of time to have 15th level Pcs fight warrior 1 kobolds or pick a DC 20 lock.

Yes. At low levels the adventurers do things like stop marauding goblins/kobolds and stop bandits. At higher levels they go after dragons, stop vampire warlords, and break ancient curses. Goblins & kobolds aren't worth their time, but that doesn't mean that they aren't still around.

None of those have anything to do with the level of the average town guard. Frankly - you'd only need to artificially jack up their levels if your players are the sort who'll go on a murder spree if there aren't powerful enough NPCs around every corner to stop them.

Cluedrew
2015-12-24, 01:35 PM
Frankly - you'd only need to artificially jack up their levels if your players are the sort who'll go on a murder spree if there aren't powerful enough NPCs around every corner to stop them.Unfortunately... this demographic not only exists but in my experiences is a not trivial group.

"If the game designers didn't want us to kill them, they wouldn't have given NPCs HP." Sort works in video games, not so much in table-top role-playing games.

Nifft
2015-12-24, 04:03 PM
Well, first I'd ask if you do the reverse: are the elite royal guards 3rd level when the Pcs are 1st? Or are they a much higher level? See, it works both ways. Is the whole world low level what the Pcs are low level?

What point were you trying to make here? Because my way does work both ways, but it might not be whatever you seem to be trying to argue against.


And what about the places where 15th level characters hang out like cities? Does the city become a ''15th level place''?
Cities are places for people of many different classes and levels, just like in real life.

Level 1:
- Try to get a job as an apprentice.
- The royal guards sure do have impressive gear, which you totally can't afford.

Level 5:
- Hang out with the apprentices while the masters talk about your latest quest.
- One of the royal knights seeks you out to congratulate you on your brave deeds.

Level 10:
- Hang out with the masters while the apprentices bring you food.
- The king has heard of your heroic deeds and you get to attend some court event or other. Maybe you saved the princess and so you get a small land title somewhere out of the way.

Level 15:
- Trade secrets and coordinate efforts with the top few masters in several different cities in the same day.
- You are on a first-name basis with the king.

Level 20:
- Your apprentice is the peer to the masters of the plane you once called home.
- You are on a first-name basis with at least one deity.

- - -

Or, in more modern terms:

Level 1 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - you & your pals discuss whether to sign up or not.

Level 10 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - you & your pals discuss how to best exploit the new situation to defend or expand your already impressive resources.

Level 20 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - your pals make fun of you for starting the war.

War can break out at level 1, at level 20, or anywhere in between. But it's not the same event, because your characters will interact with the event at a different scale as the characters advance through the levels.


Also, if the DM does not increase the power level of the game, it really becomes pointless to play. It is just a waste of time to have 15th level Pcs fight warrior 1 kobolds or pick a DC 20 lock.
Yes, the level 15 character does not seek out kobolds.

Instead, he might battle the dragon-lord whom the kobolds worship.

Kobolds are a non-threat (but still provide flanking for the dragon-lord); and thus, the character does a level 15 thing instead of doing a level 3 thing.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-24, 04:09 PM
Nope.



It is, feel free to look up the rules about adventure and encounter design.



Alternatively, the world doesn't care about your level and that differently leveled things just exist where they exist regardless of your level. That's actually even an option described in the 3.5e DMG, start of the adventure design chapter iirc. Sure, you can have the world level up, that's another option in the DMG, but to me that'd feel artificial so that's not how I run my game. There are creatures, individuals and monsters of various levels all at the same time, if you bump into the ones too high level or too low level then that's what happens. The world doesn't need to magically

It also does not matter if you do the Static world or the leveled world, as all encounters are based off the Pc's level. That is how games like D&D work.

And after all, even if you are the DM that has the game with a static world, where the gate guards are 10th level even when the Pc's are 1st level....you'd never have 10th level thugs attack the 1st level Pc's, right? Not only does that go against the rules for encounter design, but it is also being a jerk.


What point were you trying to make here?

What point are you trying to make?

I don't see anything in the rules that says higher level characters have better jobs. I don't even see anything in the rules that says Pc's only fight boss monsters at high levels. And the high level published adventures are sure ''normal adventures'', not the Pc's sitting at home starting wars while sitting in easy chairs.

The 15th level Pc's still have to fight the temple guards to get to the high cleric, but the guard encounter is made at a high enough level to be a challenge to the Pc's.

Milo v3
2015-12-24, 04:45 PM
It is, feel free to look up the rules about adventure and encounter design.
okay. *Opens DMG to encounter design section (page 48 to be precise)* Yep, it agrees with me.


It also does not matter if you do the Static world or the leveled world, as all encounters are based off the Pc's level. That is how games like D&D work.
Nope.


And after all, even if you are the DM that has the game with a static world, where the gate guards are 10th level even when the Pc's are 1st level....you'd never have 10th level thugs attack the 1st level Pc's, right? Not only does that go against the rules for encounter design, but it is also being a jerk.
Last session level 4 characters stumbled into an aboleth lair.

Amphetryon
2015-12-24, 05:53 PM
Last session level 4 characters stumbled into an aboleth lair.
There are actually prescribed ratios for how often this sort of thing should happen in 3.X, per the DMG. A set number of encounters is supposed to result in "Holy Heck, RUN!" responses from the party, if you're running 3.X by-the-book.

Nifft
2015-12-24, 06:05 PM
What point are you trying to make? Thanks for asking. My point is that I'm talking about good, fun, and useful methodologies for playing the game D&D across various editions.


I don't see anything in the rules that says higher level characters have better jobs. Then you missed the level titles in 1e ("Veteran" -> "Hero" -> "Lord"), and you missed the 1e and 2e Stronghold rules, and you missed the 3.5e Leadership rules ("you must be 6th level to become a boss"), and you missed the 3.5e Apprentice & Master rules, and you missed how 3.x Prestige Classes carry, you know, prestige, and you missed how some 4e Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies come with high-prestige flavor text... yeah, you're missing out on a lot.

D&D has always somewhat correlated level with wealth, and correlated wealth with social standing.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-24, 09:02 PM
okay. *Opens DMG to encounter design section (page 48 to be precise)* Yep, it agrees with me.

Maybe you should keep reading? Like the part that says 50% of all encounters should be challenging to the Pcs? And only 5% should be overwhelming?

Maybe read some other parts of the book like page 135 where it says ''you must match the pcs advancement in levels with increasing challenges, both in foes and deeds.''



Nope.

Maybe check out the encounter charts that list ''pc level''?



Last session level 4 characters stumbled into an aboleth lair.

So was that one of the 5% overpowering encounters? Anything more then that and your playing a homebrew variant of D&D that does not follow the rules.

Tiktakkat
2015-12-24, 10:34 PM
Why level 1?

Why not level 1?
What is so special about some other level that you should skip to that?

Because they are less "squishy"?
Well shouldn't every level have some degree of threat?
If not, then you'd just be skipping to where the game is a cakewalk and there is no challenge in anything.

Because level 1 is "too" "squishy"?
That's more of a system thing, and should be solved by changes to the system itself.
The thing is, a sizable part of that "squishiness" is due to power creep and optimization, so it is still a system thing that isn't resolved just by skipping the "broken" parts.

And that leads into understanding that when you do skip, you are still setting up a beginning point for the game. Just because you don't call it 1st level doesn't mean it isn't the first level you are playing. You just have a game that goes from 1st-15th level instead of 1st-20th level.

Cluedrew
2015-12-25, 10:17 AM
I agree with the "why not level 1" part, and your next two points, but I disagree with the forth point that starting at a higher level just makes that level 1. It may or may not from a narrative stand point but from a mechanical stand point it isn't the same. A lot of games use "unlocking mechanics" where some mechanics or options are granted to the players later only later not to escalate the game later but to simplify the game at first, allowing the first part of the game to act as an extended tutorial.

Point is that in most systems there is a difference, in most systems including D&D, between 1st and 5th level because more mechanics are available. After a while mechanics stabilize and it becomes a game about escalating numbers, so the feel of the game is the same but sometimes, especially near those early levels, where the feel of the game change. And I guess that is the answer (for some people) to why not level 1? I like starting at the beginning most of the time.

Tiktakkat
2015-12-25, 11:57 AM
A lot of games use "unlocking mechanics" where some mechanics or options are granted to the players later only later not to escalate the game later but to simplify the game at first, allowing the first part of the game to act as an extended tutorial.

That's what I was trying to get at (along with the rest of what you said), but I may not have explained it very well.

A lot of the complaints, particularly about "squishiness" at low levels, goes directly to those unlocked mechanics, and most of the intent in skipping those levels is about getting to where they are available. If someone is at the point of eliminating the extended tutorial part of the game and just playing with escalating numbers, then . . . redesign the game and just have that be level 1.

Like say . . .

Eliminate all prerequisites for prestige classes and let people take them to start, eliminate feat prerequisites as well, have skill synergies with just 1 rank, start with 5 HD (or just +25 hp), 5 bonus feats, and +40 skill points.

What do you call the level characters are starting at on their first adventure?
Why wouldn't it be 1st level just because you upped a bunch of their starting numbers?

CharonsHelper
2015-12-25, 07:59 PM
Maybe read some other parts of the book like page 135 where it says ''you must match the pcs advancement in levels with increasing challenges, both in foes and deeds.''

Yes - that's the challenges that the PCs face - not the world as a whole. Entirely different.

Âmesang
2015-12-26, 06:49 AM
So I more-or-less skimmed the second half of the page, and it got me to imagining the group's warrior types training the local guard/militia while the spellcasters learn new spells/craft magic items; gives the warriors something to do and keep heightens the NPC warriors' levels.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-26, 01:29 PM
Yes - that's the challenges that the PCs face - not the world as a whole. Entirely different.

Right, go ahead and split hairs.

Ok, The whole game world is whatever lowly level you think you read in the rulebooks that must absurdly be followed no matter what.

But, not matter what level the PCs are they will always have challenges equal to there level to face.

So yes, theoretically the whole city (and world) is low level....but the lair of the evil dragon lord is, amazingly, filled with encounters just below, at and above whatever level the Pcs are at.

And here is where the real stupidity comes in. The foes in the lair are way, way, way to high of level to interact with the city presented by the book. So they just have to ignore each other, even though that makes no sense.

And the, say 10th level guards at the lair have to come from somewhere, yet going by the book they can't come from anywhere as everywhere only has low level peoples.

So yes the world is full of non combat NPCs, but any combat NPCs that are not just a waste of time need to be around the Pcs power level. No matter where they go in the world.

Nifft
2015-12-26, 01:46 PM
Right, go ahead and split hairs.

Ok, The whole game world is whatever lowly level you think you read in the rulebooks that must absurdly be followed no matter what.

But, not matter what level the PCs are they will always have challenges equal to there level to face.

So yes, theoretically the whole city (and world) is low level....but the lair of the evil dragon lord is, amazingly, filled with encounters just below, at and above whatever level the Pcs are at.

And here is where the real stupidity comes in. The foes in the lair are way, way, way to high of level to interact with the city presented by the book. So they just have to ignore each other, even though that makes no sense.

And the, say 10th level guards at the lair have to come from somewhere, yet going by the book they can't come from anywhere as everywhere only has low level peoples.

So yes the world is full of non combat NPCs, but any combat NPCs that are not just a waste of time need to be around the Pcs power level. No matter where they go in the world.

Every objection repeating here has been addressed repeatedly.

Did you not read any of the posts in which we told you the answers to your problems?

You're either trying to create a false dichotomy ("whole city is low level"), or you didn't understand what we meant when we said that everyone in the city didn't need to level up with the PCs.

Pluto!
2015-12-26, 02:02 PM
So yes the world is full of non combat NPCs, but any combat NPCs that are not just a waste of time need to be around the Pcs power level. No matter where they go in the world.
If your level 3 party finds a scroll of Plane Shift to the lower planes and decides to go chase down the Big Bad Asmodeus Cultist's boss, what sort of creatures do they encounter? Can they succeed? And how do you convey that information?

Darth Ultron
2015-12-26, 02:04 PM
Every objection repeating here has been addressed repeatedly.

Did you not read any of the posts in which we told you the answers to your problems?.

I just see post where people say ''I'm right and your wrong'' and don't have any reasons or facts. Maybe you could write a response without any sort of personal attack and reasons and facts?



You're either trying to create a false dichotomy ("whole city is low level"), or you didn't understand what we meant when we said that everyone in the city didn't need to level up with the PCs.

Everyone sure has snap reactions. They read ''everyone in the world levels up with the Pc's'' and, somehow, see like every commoner farmer in the world getting levels. Or something else that was not typed.

so, yes, theoretically, 99% of all the NPC's in the world are super low level. But it does not really matter, because all the npcs the Pc's will interact with and or have an encounter with must be around the Pcs level. That is how the game works, and it is the only way the game can work.

So yes, Bob blacksmith has been working at his job for 30 years and he is an expert 2 because the book says so...theoretically. But as soon as a 10th level pc enters his shop Bob must, amazingly, gain around 8-10 levels to not be an utter waste of time when the Pcs does any type of game rule based interactions with Bob.

Same way the castle guards of Lord Doom are first level warriors, as the book says they must be so. But when the 10th level Pc's attack the castle, the guards need to gain 5-10 levels or the game becomes pointless.

Quertus
2015-12-26, 02:08 PM
If your level 3 party finds a scroll of Plane Shift to the lower planes and decides to go chase down the Big Bad Asmodeus Cultist's boss, what sort of creatures do they encounter? Can they succeed? And how do you convey that information?

Suddenly, level drain is the best thing ever. I can just imagine the epic party: "Since the world will automatically scale around us, the easiest way to beat the BBEG is for us to get drained back to level 1." "Aww, not again."

Nifft
2015-12-26, 02:13 PM
What point were you trying to make here? Because my way does work both ways, but it might not be whatever you seem to be trying to argue against.


Cities are places for people of many different classes and levels, just like in real life.

Level 1:
- Try to get a job as an apprentice.
- The royal guards sure do have impressive gear, which you totally can't afford.

Level 5:
- Hang out with the apprentices while the masters talk about your latest quest.
- One of the royal knights seeks you out to congratulate you on your brave deeds.

Level 10:
- Hang out with the masters while the apprentices bring you food.
- The king has heard of your heroic deeds and you get to attend some court event or other. Maybe you saved the princess and so you get a small land title somewhere out of the way.

Level 15:
- Trade secrets and coordinate efforts with the top few masters in several different cities in the same day.
- You are on a first-name basis with the king.

Level 20:
- Your apprentice is the peer to the masters of the plane you once called home.
- You are on a first-name basis with at least one deity.

- - -

Or, in more modern terms:

Level 1 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - you & your pals discuss whether to sign up or not.

Level 10 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - you & your pals discuss how to best exploit the new situation to defend or expand your already impressive resources.

Level 20 - The headline reads "WAR DECLARED!" - your pals make fun of you for starting the war.

War can break out at level 1, at level 20, or anywhere in between. But it's not the same event, because your characters will interact with the event at a different scale as the characters advance through the levels.


Yes, the level 15 character does not seek out kobolds.

Instead, he might battle the dragon-lord whom the kobolds worship.

Kobolds are a non-threat (but still provide flanking for the dragon-lord); and thus, the character does a level 15 thing instead of doing a level 3 thing.


I just see post where people say ''I'm right and your wrong'' and don't have any reasons or facts. Maybe you could write a response without any sort of personal attack and reasons and facts? Maybe I already did. Quoted above for your convenience, because you seem to have missed it somehow.

That's not actually a personal attack, by the way. The fact that you're repeating arguments instead of engaging the answers to those arguments is not about you as a person -- it's 100% entirely about your posts.

I'm attacking your (poor) arguments, not anything about you personally.

As a final note, I'm curious if you'd care to answer the question asked at the top -- I was kind enough to answer your retort, but you were not able to return the courtesy.

mephnick
2015-12-26, 02:14 PM
So yes, Bob blacksmith has been working at his job for 30 years and he is an expert 2 because the book says so...theoretically. But as soon as a 10th level pc enters his shop Bob must, amazingly, gain around 8-10 levels to not be an utter waste of time when the Pcs does any type of game rule based interactions with Bob.

Same way the castle guards of Lord Doom are first level warriors, as the book says they must be so. But when the 10th level Pc's attack the castle, the guards need to gain 5-10 levels or the game becomes pointless.

Congratulations. You've just made character progress completely meaningless.

It's not the Level 2 Blacksmith's job to compete with legendary heroes. Having the power to dominate weaker people and deciding how to use it, or the world's reaction to the abuse of power is half the fun of having high level characters. If you instantly level up everyone they meet you've completely destroyed world building.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-26, 02:34 PM
Maybe I already did. Quoted above for your convenience, because you seem to have missed it somehow.

.

Oh, well see I thought I did answer this one. when I said nothing in the rules says PC's get better ''jobs as adventures'' as they go up levels. Remember when you replied with ''some book somewhere says level one is apprentice and level ten is master and that means Pc's of high level rule the world'' or something simpler that made no sense.

Maybe I was not clear enough. I'll try and be more clear. Ok, Pc's get skills, abilities and spells of all most entirely of pure personal combat nature or at best small group combats. A Pc's is expected to use thier skills, abilities and spells to overcome foe and encounters.

So a low level Pc's would do things like fight and kill monsters and use skills to do things like open locked doors. But your saying that high level Pc's would not do such things and they are more ruling the land. Yet the rules don't have any rules for this (unless you want to go all the way back to the Known World D&D rules). A 15 th level character is still expected to personally use abilities and skills and spells to personally overcomes personal encounters with foes and problems. There are no rules for a Pc's to ''sit home and play politics''. There is nothing in the rules that says once Pc's get to high levels they should ignore skills like open locks and never open a locked door again.

So, I'm not sure what your saying makes sense.

Apricot
2015-12-26, 05:32 PM
I've read several of Darth Ultron's posts in several threads, and I can't seem to understand anything about what he or she is going on about. So the players don't encounter low-level enemies; presumably this is because the low-level enemies aren't stupid and run away, just like middle school tough guys wouldn't even consider giving the US military trouble. So the players don't encounter high-level enemies; presumably this is because they're not idiots and read the "WARNING: DRAGONS LIVE HERE" signs. So the players find professionals at around their skill: presumably this is because they know they can't afford the masters, and know they shouldn't bother with the novices. All of these problems have simple real-life solutions and which real people practice on a daily basis. Their intractability seems to come from a decision made ahead of time that they must be intractable, but I can't for a moment discern why that earlier decision was made. This sort of pattern of obstinately theory-laden reasoning seems to infuse every one of his posts.

I think the typical player does understand on a deep level how these games should work and make sense. The only question is how to manifest that effectively in the rules.

Oh, and on topic, I like starting at level 1 when I have a character without a ton of backstory. Backstory should have mechanical components, in my mind, and mechanical components should have backstory. So, for level 1 characters, I feel there should be exactly enough backstory to handle one level of stuff. The rest, I can work into the character as they grow. It's fun!

Milo v3
2015-12-26, 05:59 PM
So the players don't encounter low-level enemies; presumably this is because the low-level enemies aren't stupid and run away, just like middle school tough guys wouldn't even consider giving the US military trouble.
I have to say, it's rather fun watching level 15 characters annihilate a base of low-level criminals.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-26, 06:34 PM
I have to say, it's rather fun watching level 15 characters annihilate a base of low-level criminals.

Sure this type of pointless power tripping type of play is fun for some people.


Congratulations. You've just made character progress completely meaningless.

It's not the Level 2 Blacksmith's job to compete with legendary heroes. Having the power to dominate weaker people and deciding how to use it, or the world's reaction to the abuse of power is half the fun of having high level characters. If you instantly level up everyone they meet you've completely destroyed world building.

Well, the rules say things level up around the Pcs.

I find the idea of ''get a couple levels and dominate the game with out even trying and not really even playing'' very odd. But if that is someones idea of fun...

Faily
2015-12-26, 07:00 PM
Strangely enough, D&D in particular seems to be built around the trope of "there is something nasty going on, and we need someone competent to fix it/kill it", which does imply that the NPCs do not have the skills or experience (levels) nescessary to deal with it themselves (there is of course the powerful wizard sending them on a task-angle too). The essence of the game itself is rather built around the thought that not everyone is the same level, and not every enemy is a CR-appropriate encounter.

There's no rule to say that you need to scale back (or up) the levels of NPCs in the world in accordance to the PCs (I guess poor Khelben Blackstaff will now be a 9th level Wizard then when the party meets him!). Even published and official campaign settings and adventure feature NPCs and encounters that clearly state "this will be no challenge for the PCs" or "fighting this is suicide". Look at Red Hand of Doom, one of the more popular published adventures: Attacking the Horde head-on is stated to most likely lead to capture, interrogation and ultimately death for the PCs, attacking the Ghost Lord is also stated to be a "not CR-appropriate challenge", the NPCs are all very varied in their levels in comparison to the PCs and do not change their character level throughout the chapters.

There are other examples too in other published sources, but this is the one I knew the best without having to go look it up.


So just because the PCs start at level 1, doesn't change the fact that the ruling lord of the land is a level 19 Cleric who is completely bogged down in politics and need to hire adventures to investigate the rumors of kobolds in the iron mines.

Or as it does happen in our Pathfinder game where the PCs have become big shots in the world over their years of active adventuring: they have much bigger fish to fry than the kobolds in the iron mine, there are plenty of other young heroes who need the opportunity to shine there while they adventure in time to another planet to save an empire from a vengeful god.

Tiktakkat
2015-12-26, 07:33 PM
So just because the PCs start at level 1, doesn't change the fact that the ruling lord of the land is a level 19 Cleric who is completely bogged down in politics and need to hire adventures to investigate the rumors of kobolds in the iron mines.

While I agree with your overview, I think there is also an issue with how these elements have been misused that contributes to a lot of divergent views and "confusion" about how such things work.

Using the "retired adventurer innkeeper" trope as a base, some expect not only level "appropriate" NPCs replacing commoners, but also such to prevent CRPG-style PC abuse of store shelves and the like.
Add on disparate rules for kings and such inheriting, and people are unsure if rulers must be 20th level with their own personal prestige class, 10th level with appropriate feats, 1st level with the right background rolls, or other variation or combination.

And then people might even wonder how a 19th level cleric who is so bogged down in politics related to ruling the land even has time to meet with 1st level adventurers to send them off to investigate some kobolds in a mine.

Milo v3
2015-12-26, 07:44 PM
Sure this type of pointless power tripping type of play is fun for some people.
Question, what makes it pointless or power tripping (or to be more precise, more power tripping than normal)? If you were rather powerful would you simply do nothing unless an equally superpowerful opponent arises? Simply because the opponents are lower level than would normally be an opponent doesn't mean that the event is pointless, since it will likely have ramifications and consequences especially when your using powers designed for much more powerful situations. Especially considering the fact that games like 3.5e and PF are already designed to give the players the advantage in battles to begin with. And the fact that there is more to the game than combat, in the past two sessions I have run (both went for about six hours), there were only two battles, the rest of the time they were using their abilities and equipment to try and figure out a murder (including using things like adamantine weaponry to go into areas the adventure did not expect the players didn't expect).


Well, the rules say things level up around the Pcs.
*Cough* except for that section that says it's a valid choice to not do that *cough*

Nifft
2015-12-26, 09:32 PM
Oh, well see I thought I did answer this one. when I said nothing in the rules says PC's get better ''jobs as adventures'' as they go up levels. Remember when you replied with ''some book somewhere says level one is apprentice and level ten is master and that means Pc's of high level rule the world'' or something simpler that made no sense. Everything I've written did make sense, and it ~still does~ make sense, so you're clearly talking about something other than what I wrote.

I wonder if my words burn your eyes, or something, which physically prevents you from reading them.


Maybe I was not clear enough. I'll try and be more clear. Well yes, when someone asks you point-blank what you're trying to say, that is a rather strong indication that you're not being clear.


Ok, Pc's get skills, abilities and spells of all most entirely of pure personal combat nature or at best small group combats. A Pc's is expected to use thier skills, abilities and spells to overcome foe and encounters.

So a low level Pc's would do things like fight and kill monsters and use skills to do things like open locked doors. But your saying that high level Pc's would not do such things and they are more ruling the land. Nobody is saying that.


Yet the rules don't have any rules for this (unless you want to go all the way back to the Known World D&D rules). A 15 th level character is still expected to personally use abilities and skills and spells to personally overcomes personal encounters with foes and problems. There are no rules for a Pc's to ''sit home and play politics''. There is nothing in the rules that says once Pc's get to high levels they should ignore skills like open locks and never open a locked door again. Nobody is saying that, either.


So, I'm not sure what your saying makes sense. I'm not sure who you think is saying this thing.

It's certainly not me.

Anyone know who Darth Ultron is responding to here?

Cluedrew
2015-12-26, 09:58 PM
Darth Ultron vs. Nifft: FIGHT!

Couldn't resist. On a more serious note, if one's counter arguments are met with "that is not what I meant" by the other, maybe you are disagreeing over terminology? I've seen it happen before.

Faily
2015-12-26, 10:20 PM
While I agree with your overview, I think there is also an issue with how these elements have been misused that contributes to a lot of divergent views and "confusion" about how such things work.

Using the "retired adventurer innkeeper" trope as a base, some expect not only level "appropriate" NPCs replacing commoners, but also such to prevent CRPG-style PC abuse of store shelves and the like.
Add on disparate rules for kings and such inheriting, and people are unsure if rulers must be 20th level with their own personal prestige class, 10th level with appropriate feats, 1st level with the right background rolls, or other variation or combination.

And then people might even wonder how a 19th level cleric who is so bogged down in politics related to ruling the land even has time to meet with 1st level adventurers to send them off to investigate some kobolds in a mine.

A former adventure could have retired at level 3 or level 10. No one say they have to reach the highest level before they get to retire.

There are no rules that say rulers need to be of high level, though GMs can if they want give them an amount of exp (thus levels) to show that they have "defeated" others in social encounters. But in all honesty, I can very well see many characters as high or low level depending on their background. Someone like King Joffrey from ASOIAF would be level 1 Aristocrat, maybe pushing level 2. He's young and hasn't really done much. Then you have characters like King Robert, who probably was much higher level during his time as a king compared to Joffrey; not only was he an experienced warrior, but he also ruled for some time. The GM should feel free to give the NPCs the levels he/she feel they deserve depending on how competent or experienced they need to be. Not every innkeeper is a retired adventurer, not every prince is a spoiled little brat with no experience. :smallwink:

As for the 19th level Cleric-ruler: By telling one of their advisors or other servants to find adventurers to solve the problem while the cleric travels to the court of the neighbouring duke to negotiate a peace treaty. As one playing a high-level character in the position of ruler; she certainly does not have time to mopping up kobolds (no matter how much she may want to); she is busy helping to restore a lost Elven realm, meeting with emissaries from the neighbours outside of her domain to avoid a potential war, and stop 400 meter tall (yes, meter) golem from destroying the capitol, as well as prepare for the upcoming fight with a gargantuan black dragon that has taken over the kingdom of one of the party members.
It's also acknowledging that all new heroes need to start somewhere. If you adventure long enough, you live to see yourself become the quest-giver. :smallbiggrin:

goto124
2015-12-26, 11:15 PM
The level-up-with-players thing: I've always thought it was meant to avoid NPCs curbstomping PCs, or vice versa.

But that presumes a railroady style of play, where players can't choose to avoid battle with the powerful creatures. Probably because I'm rather used to CRPGs. Also, see the Linear Storytelling vs Railroading thread.

If for whatever reason the party is underlevelled or much less powerful than expected, and the monster they're supposed to kill fairly easily ends up being able to cause a TPK, there should be extra cues that the monsters is powerful compared to them, and have an easy way out for the party to retreat in case they engage the monster anyway.

What if the entire point of the campaign is "go to the monster and kill it"? What should the players do if they're underlevelled? In a CRPG they would go somewhere else to grind. Is that really an option in a TRPG?

Amphetryon
2015-12-26, 11:21 PM
What if the entire point of the campaign is "go to the monster and kill it"? What should the players do if they're underlevelled? In a CRPG they would go somewhere else to grind. Is that really an option in a TRPG?
If not, that seems like a good warning sign of a Railroad. . . .

goto124
2015-12-26, 11:26 PM
But it's entirely possible for non-railroads to end up in that situation.

The pitch of the game: "Okay you guys find the dragon, get to the dragon, and kill it. I don't care how, just do it."

The party arrives at the dragon, underlevelled enough that a TPK is very likely.

"Now what?"

Amphetryon
2015-12-26, 11:29 PM
But it's entirely possible for non-railroads to end up in that situation.

The pitch of the game: "Okay you guys find the dragon, get to the dragon, and kill it. I don't care how, just do it."

The party arrives at the dragon, underlevelled enough that a TPK is very likely.

"Now what?"

If they arrived there based on their choices? They run away, or they die, or they use amazing tactics and/or luck to persevere, and no railroad showed up.

If they arrived there because the DM denied them other options? They die, or they try to run away (expect to be thwarted), or they hope for amazing luck/deus ex machina to save them, because they're on a railroad.

See the distinction?

goto124
2015-12-26, 11:39 PM
They try to use amazing tactics to defeat the dragon, fail, and run away with two dead members.

Now what?

Apricot
2015-12-27, 01:05 AM
I'm not certain I understand your point, goto. So the scenario is that the PCs have somehow gotten to the boss without the levels needed to kill it. You then suggested that there's no way to go back and train further (i.e. no plot hooks that can be constructed by DM or players). The response from Amphetryon was that if there's no way to go back, that's a sign of railroading. And your response to that is to suggest ways that they can get out of the encounter. It seems like the scenario under discussion is changing rapidly underfoot, and so I'm not sure anyone is even talking about the same thing that they themselves talked about in their last post.

So your initial concern was whether it's possible to get to a point where the characters can't get away from a boss fight and can't beat it, right? The first part of that, where they can't get away, sounds like railroading regardless of whether they can beat it or not, and the second part just sounds like clumsiness on the part of the DM (not granting roleplaying experience for the characters cleverly avoiding encounters rather than killing stuff, not putting enough encounters around to be stumbled into, not communicating IC and OOC exactly how strong the enemy is, and so on). If the answer to the question is ever "they get away," then there's an easy plot hook to start more adventures. That's the D&D equivalent of grinding. Unless the DM is railroading them into ramming their heads into the unbeatable encounter over and over, there's always other ways to get levels. That's the beauty of roleplaying games: players can get in over their heads, but they can get out, too.

Milo v3
2015-12-27, 01:09 AM
But it's entirely possible for non-railroads to end up in that situation.

The pitch of the game: "Okay you guys find the dragon, get to the dragon, and kill it. I don't care how, just do it."

The party arrives at the dragon, underlevelled enough that a TPK is very likely.

"Now what?"

Talk to it or stealth/run probably.

goto124
2015-12-27, 01:16 AM
You then suggested that there's no way to go back and train further (i.e. no plot hooks that can be constructed by DM or players). The response from Amphetryon was that if there's no way to go back, that's a sign of railroading.


If the answer to the question is ever "they get away," then there's an easy plot hook to start more adventures. That's the D&D equivalent of grinding.

Oh! I had not even considered the possibility of starting an entirely new story. Thanks for the help.

Frozen_Feet
2015-12-27, 08:44 AM
The "Now what?", in an open-ended scenario, is a question for the players to solve.

The GM doesn't need to have an answer to it.

Nifft
2015-12-27, 09:08 AM
Talk to it or stealth/run probably.
Absolutely yes.

Just like Bilbo did that first time he met a dragon.


The "Now what?", in an open-ended scenario, is a question for the players to solve.

The GM doesn't need to have an answer to it.
Right, but it does help the conversation if the DM and players are starting from the same baseline assumptions about their maximum expected capability in the scenario.

Like, the DM can flat-out tell the players: if you try to kill it head-on, you will die, and it's so far over your head that I'm not even going to roll dice about that. So you need to come up with a plan that's not a head-on assault.

Injuring the thing is possible, but not likely; killing it is not possible today.

Now, what do you want to try to accomplish?

Apricot
2015-12-27, 09:31 PM
The "Now what?", in an open-ended scenario, is a question for the players to solve.

The GM doesn't need to have an answer to it.

Shouldn't it be solved by both? After all, everyone involved is trying to enjoy the adventure together.

AMFV
2015-12-28, 01:06 AM
Sure this type of pointless power tripping type of play is fun for some people.


But it's not necessarily pointless power-tripping. It could be to demonstrate to the players how powerful they've become. Or it could be to set up a poignant emotional bit, after all, the players cutting down hordes of enemies who can't resist doesn't have to be a power-fantasy, it can be a miserable thing, something that haunts them. (Think Banzai charges in World War 2). After all people tend to pity things weaker than them.



Well, the rules say things level up around the Pcs.

I find the idea of ''get a couple levels and dominate the game with out even trying and not really even playing'' very odd. But if that is someones idea of fun...

Well the idea is that the different challenges still exist. The world doesn't shift around the players, just their goals and missions change to encompass a higher level of play.

Nifft
2015-12-28, 08:03 AM
Shouldn't it be solved by both? After all, everyone involved is trying to enjoy the adventure together.
If the referee joined in on the side of the players, instead of being a neutral arbiter of events in the world, that might tend to negate certain kinds of fun -- including the fun of solving any arbitrary problem.

So, in this case, not helping might tend to help more.


Well the idea is that the different challenges still exist. The world doesn't shift around the players, just their goals and missions change to encompass a higher level of play.
Thinking about this, it might be accurate to say:
- The world contains many different challenges, which exist independent of the PCs.
- The plot weaves through the world.
- The plot is what brings the PCs to specific (and generally appropriate) challenges.

Faily
2015-12-28, 08:20 AM
Thinking about this, it might be accurate to say:
- The world contains many different challenges, which exist independent of the PCs.
- The plot weaves through the world.
- The plot is what brings the PCs to specific (and generally appropriate) challenges.


So true, so true. And I think most sensible players do approach D&D and similar games in that fashion.

Apricot
2015-12-28, 08:58 AM
If the referee joined in on the side of the players, instead of being a neutral arbiter of events in the world, that might tend to negate certain kinds of fun -- including the fun of solving any arbitrary problem.

So, in this case, not helping might tend to help more.

That analogy only makes sense if there are two teams of players in competition, and it's not even what I was suggesting. Rather, I was suggesting that the DM also has the right to suggest the kind of story that he or she would like to play. For example, the players might come up with "Let's go and find a nest of [reasonably-statted monster] and nova them down with Fireball until we reach a better level." To this, the DM might say, "Well, you could do that, but there's also rumors of a vampire in a nearby village..."

Everyone playing the game, DM and players alike, should be working together to make sure that everyone's having fun. The DM isn't just an arbiter of fun, but someone actively engaging in it.

Frozen_Feet
2015-12-28, 08:59 AM
Shouldn't it be solved by both? After all, everyone involved is trying to enjoy the adventure together.

No.

A GM can have a solution and it can be helpful to present it as a suggestion to the players if they get stuck or suffer decision paralysis, but that's not the same thing. You can think of it this way: the GM is already tasked with laying out the board and playing the opposition. That's already a lot to do for a single person.

There's 1+N other people with basically no other task than to solve the problems that arise from their own actions.

In a situation like that, what there really should be, is a moment when the GM just lays back after hearing the question "What now?" and says "I dunno, you tell me".

AMFV
2015-12-28, 09:04 AM
Thinking about this, it might be accurate to say:
- The world contains many different challenges, which exist independent of the PCs.
- The plot weaves through the world.
- The plot is what brings the PCs to specific (and generally appropriate) challenges.

Exactly. Anything else would completely wreck verisimilitude.

Cluedrew
2015-12-28, 09:25 AM
No.

A GM can have a solution and it can be helpful to present it as a suggestion to the players if they get stuck or suffer decision paralysis, but that's not the same thing. You can think of it this way: the GM is already tasked with laying out the board and playing the opposition.Yes, but just because the GM does not solve the problems for the players doesn't mean they are not involved in solving the problem. The GM might, for instance, create the means for the PC's plans to work. Not as a give away but because it is more interesting if they try different things and succeed in there own way.

Nifft
2015-12-28, 10:13 AM
No.

A GM can have a solution and it can be helpful to present it as a suggestion to the players if they get stuck or suffer decision paralysis, but that's not the same thing. You can think of it this way: the GM is already tasked with laying out the board and playing the opposition. That's already a lot to do for a single person.

There's 1+N other people with basically no other task than to solve the problems that arise from their own actions.

In a situation like that, what there really should be, is a moment when the GM just lays back after hearing the question "What now?" and says "I dunno, you tell me".

Exactly right.

The DM is already responsible for a lot, and in my experience when a DM tries to play on both sides of the screen, it's not good for either side of the screen.

The DM "helps" by communicating clearly the world and its challenges, but that's helping the players to understand the game-world -- not helping the PCs to solve any particular challenge.

Apricot
2015-12-28, 10:53 AM
I'm afraid we seem to be talking about completely different things...

You two appear to be talking about how the PCs solve any particular problem that they come across. I was talking from the beginning about how all the people playing the game decide on what kind of plot to create and pursue when they run into some sort of narrative wall. I think both of you missed out on some very important context.

goto124
2015-12-28, 11:10 AM
is a moment when the GM just lays back after hearing the question "What now?" and says "I dunno, you tell me".

"Let's eat pizza."

Amphetryon
2015-12-28, 11:30 AM
"Let's eat pizza."

Good indicator of the Player(s) not being engaged in the game, or else of the Player(s) being deliberately difficult, perhaps in an attempt at humor.

Âmesang
2015-12-28, 12:56 PM
…and then they initiate PvP because they can't decide on toppings. :smalltongue:

Actually, you know what? %*#$ it! Now I want to play a barbarian rage-leaping at some sahuagin shouting "anchovies!"

Tiktakkat
2015-12-28, 06:17 PM
In terms of plot development, perhaps the problem is having such overarching plots that require PCs to succeed at a certain rate in the first place.

While that may sound shocking, recall that the "adventure path" concept is a relatively new addition to the game, showing up a mere 15 years ago. For 25 years before that you had, with only one notable exception, some sequels, a few story arcs, and a couple of ex post facto supermodules with some kludged up linking storyline. As for that notable exception, the Dragonlance series, there were instructions on how to "cheat" to keep PCs and villains alive until it was time for them to die according to the pre-determined plot schedule.

Several years ago I noted this as a problem with adventure paths, especially when they presume a death rate of 1 character per episode. The chance of any particular starting character making it through 12 episodes is around 2%. That rises to 13% for 6 episode APs. Together that means most such mega-adventures will require 4 random people with strained to kludged reasons to finish the epic quest to save the world.
The theoretical alternative is to have random characters engage in random jobs for random patrons until they randomly save the world for some random reason with whoever randomly showed up at the random bar one random day.
The DM who can maneuver between the two to make it seem deliberate but not railroaded "wins".

Nifft
2015-12-28, 08:41 PM
I'm afraid we seem to be talking about completely different things... I doubt it.


You two appear to be talking about how the PCs solve any particular problem that they come across. I was talking from the beginning about how all the people playing the game decide on what kind of plot to create and pursue when they run into some sort of narrative wall. I think both of you missed out on some very important context.
When the PCs run into a "narrative wall", what that usually means is a failure to communicate from one side of the screen or the other.

The DM can -- and should -- work to improve communication, and ensure that whatever issues the PCs face are due to the reality of the situation, rather than some misunderstanding or lack of information.

When the DM does this, the DM is NOT helping to solve the problem. The DM is merely ensuring that the players have enough information to solve the problem.

Apricot
2015-12-29, 02:14 AM
In what world is creating new plot hooks and informing the players as to their existence not helping them solve the problem of finding other things to do in order to grind up enough experience to finish the quest they'd already started?

You're really just baffling me here.

Frozen_Feet
2015-12-29, 04:01 AM
I'm afraid we seem to be talking about completely different things...

You two appear to be talking about how the PCs solve any particular problem that they come across. I was talking from the beginning about how all the people playing the game decide on what kind of plot to create and pursue when they run into some sort of narrative wall. I think both of you missed out on some very important context.

In an open-ended scenario, any problem the players fail to solve or have problem solving is a potential "narrative wall". "Deciding which kind of plot to create and pursue" is synonymous with either solving or circumventing said problem.

Nifft
2015-12-29, 08:00 AM
In what world is creating new plot hooks and informing the players as to their existence not helping them solve the problem of finding other things to do in order to grind up enough experience to finish the quest they'd already started? In every world, of course.

But you're still using multiple meanings for "helping", and that may be preventing communication here.


You're really just baffling me here. I think what you're baffled about is the distinction between helping the players vs. helping the PCs.

A good DM can "help" the players find fun things to do instead of solving the problem that apparently they don't want to solve, but at the same time NOT help the PCs solve the problem.

Because that's helping the players play the game, NOT helping the PCs solve a challenge.

IMXP a good DM does not help the PCs solve challenges.

AMFV
2015-12-29, 09:50 AM
I think what you're baffled about is the distinction between helping the players vs. helping the PCs.

A good DM can "help" the players find fun things to do instead of solving the problem that apparently they don't want to solve, but at the same time NOT help the PCs solve the problem.

Because that's helping the players play the game, NOT helping the PCs solve a challenge.

IMXP a good DM does not help the PCs solve challenges.

That depends, a fair DM doesn't help the PCs solve challenges. A good DM notes if the challenge itself is too difficult and the players themselves are becoming frustrated and adjusts fire as needed. Which does help the PCs solve a challenge.

Apricot
2015-12-29, 03:29 PM
In every world, of course.

But you're still using multiple meanings for "helping", and that may be preventing communication here.

I think what you're baffled about is the distinction between helping the players vs. helping the PCs.

A good DM can "help" the players find fun things to do instead of solving the problem that apparently they don't want to solve, but at the same time NOT help the PCs solve the problem.

Because that's helping the players play the game, NOT helping the PCs solve a challenge.

IMXP a good DM does not help the PCs solve challenges.

Then, if you'll pardon me, I was right in the first place. We were talking about different things entirely. Please take more care to make sure you're on the same page as the person who you're speaking with in future, instead of driving feverishly away at a point that isn't at issue.

Cluedrew
2015-12-30, 08:21 AM
Good indicator of the Player(s) not being engaged in the game, or else of the Player(s) being deliberately difficult, perhaps in an attempt at humor.In a modern setting getting pizza can be a very serious way of getting some quick nourishment. So you have a small character building moment there.

Also on "should the GM help the players", I think the real issue is that everyone is using a different definitions for "help the players". For instance if a player character has a long term goal to say, avenge the death of her twin than is the GM helping her by adding encounters with the murderer into the story? Some would say yes because that brings her closer to her goal, others seem to say no because she still has to hunt down and kill (or otherwise punish) the murderer herself.

Amphetryon
2015-12-30, 08:40 AM
In a modern setting getting pizza can be a very serious way of getting some quick nourishment. So you have a small character building moment there.


My response was predicated on reading goto124's "let's eat pizza" as a deliberate non sequitur to the GM's query. But, I suspect folks already knew that.

Nifft
2015-12-30, 10:28 AM
Then, if you'll pardon me, I was right in the first place. We were talking about different things entirely. Please take more care to make sure you're on the same page as the person who you're speaking with in future, instead of driving feverishly away at a point that isn't at issue.

I'm afraid that's impossible, because you were not right in the first place. You were making a error which demanded correction.

For clarity, here's your post:


Shouldn't it be solved by both? After all, everyone involved is trying to enjoy the adventure together.

The answer remains the same: no, the problem facing the PCs should not be solved by both the players and the DM. The DM can and should help the players understand the problem, and communicate to them the easily foreseen risks and problems that may result from various proposed courses of action, but neither of those constitutes solving the problem.

Please do try to take more care with your words, and do put some effort into understanding all the different possible interpretations of what other people are saying.

Cluedrew
2015-12-30, 07:27 PM
The answer remains the same: no, the problem facing the PCs should not be solved by both the players and the DM. The DM can and should help the players understand the problem, and communicate to them the easily foreseen risks and problems that may result from various proposed courses of action, but neither of those constitutes solving the problem.I think you are splitting hairs. In the face off with the villain, technically only the one character who landed the killing blow (or save-or-die effect) killed the villain. However because the cumulative efforts of everyone in the party it would also be inaccurate to say the party didn't kill the villain, just one guy from it. Similarly even if someone does not take the action of presenting the completed solution they can be a necessary part of the problem solving process. I believe this is where the GM sits in many (but not all) situations.


Please do try to take more care with your words, and do put some effort into understanding all the different possible interpretations of what other people are saying.Because this is the internet and if there is so much as a single interpretation of what you say that is incorrect or offensive someone will find it. If you see this when you hit "reply with quote" because you found something I said incorrect or offensive... I saw that one coming.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 07:54 PM
Because this is the internet and if there is so much as a single interpretation of what you say that is incorrect or offensive someone will find it.

I find that offensive!

Nifft
2015-12-30, 08:20 PM
I think you are splitting hairs. In the face off with the villain, technically only the one character who landed the killing blow (or save-or-die effect) killed the villain. However because the cumulative efforts of everyone in the party it would also be inaccurate to say the party didn't kill the villain, just one guy from it. Similarly even if someone does not take the action of presenting the completed solution they can be a necessary part of the problem solving process. I believe this is where the GM sits in many (but not all) situations.
You think that when the GM does his best to kill the PCs using an ogre, that's the same as the Wizard not landing the killing blow which fells the ogre?

I don't think that's correct, and I don't think it's a subtle distinction which people might quibble over.

The GM is a fair and neutral arbiter. When one of the PCs lands the final killing blow against the ogre, the GM is not helping the PCs by declaring that the ogre is dead. The GM is not helping solve a problem by telling the players that they have a valid solution.

This is not a matter of interpretation. The test proctor is not taking the test, and cannot fail it. The referee can't win a football game. The judge can't be found innocent or guilty.

Not everyone participates in an equivalent way.


Because this is the internet and if there is so much as a single interpretation of what you say that is incorrect or offensive someone will find it. If you see this when you hit "reply with quote" because you found something I said incorrect or offensive... I saw that one coming.
You saw that you posted something incorrect, and you want to ... what, brag about it? That's weird.

I do hope you're not trying to post provocatively.

Amphetryon
2015-12-30, 09:46 PM
You think that when the GM does his best to kill the PCs using an ogre, that's the same as the Wizard not landing the killing blow which fells the ogre?

I don't think that's correct, and I don't think it's a subtle distinction which people might quibble over.

The GM is a fair and neutral arbiter. When one of the PCs lands the final killing blow against the ogre, the GM is not helping the PCs by declaring that the ogre is dead. The GM is not helping solve a problem by telling the players that they have a valid solution.

This is not a matter of interpretation. The test proctor is not taking the test, and cannot fail it. The referee can't win a football game. The judge can't be found innocent or guilty.

Not everyone participates in an equivalent way.

Nor does everyone GM in an equivalent way. More than that, not every game expects the GM to behave in an equivalent way. Some systems fully encourage the GM to use every possible trick to make the PCs' lives miserable, while some expect them to be neutral arbiters. Several don't have anything that can reasonably be called a GM at all.

Cluedrew
2015-12-30, 10:00 PM
Not everyone participates in an equivalent way.Yes but critically everyone participates.

As for the hidden message, it was a joke (one I think CharonsHelper got) I very rarely, close to never even, try to provoke anyone. I do sometimes by mistake but that is not my intent.

I figured no one would see it unless they quoted me, someone may have without that, to log a counter argument. Meaning there is some interpretation of what I said was incorrect. Which is different from the statement as I meant it being incorrect, so I was not posting something I believed to be incorrect although I accept it might be.

As for the interpretations I understand that there are many interpretations of what I said and not all of them correct. I can think of a few interpretations of the internet statement off the top of my head. The logical statement "for all statements made on the internet, there exists an interpretation of that statement that is either incorrect or offensive", or perhaps it is a comment about how people say things without thinking them through on line, or an implied suggestion that one should try to find the authors original meaning of what they said as opposed to guessing.

And that is just off the top of my head, from the same person who wrote the original message. I'm sure other people could come up with more and very different interpretations. In fact judging by your (Nifft's) reply you did. And that is just part of communication. One I have battled against many times, I'm hardly a grifted communicator myself but even the good communicators I have seen mess it up.

So even if we try (as you suggested) "put some effort into understanding all the different possible interpretations of what other people are saying" and what we are saying too we will never reach that perfect 100% accurate 100% precise information exchange. As much as I wish we could. So, especially here on the internet where there is such a variety of people, even here on a relatively specialized forum, there will be some miscommunications.

The original comment was just a shorter and more humours way of putting all that. And yes I have strayed from the original topic, but I felt it had to be said.

Nifft
2015-12-31, 08:09 AM
Yes but critically everyone participates.
Do you honestly think that a test proctor participates in solving the problems on the test?

Seriously and honestly, can you say that?

This doesn't seem like a matter of interpretation to me -- it seems like a stark distinction.

What you're trying to do is frame a semantic quibble as equivalent to something very clear and with many different examples, some of which I've already posted.


So even if we try (as you suggested) "put some effort into understanding all the different possible interpretations of what other people are saying" Actually, what I was doing was paraphrasing Apricot's original invective.

You weren't the target of that invective, so I guess you missed the point of that, but it certainly wasn't directed at you.

Sorry if I offended you by using the language of another poster on your side of the conversation.

Cluedrew
2015-12-31, 08:43 AM
To Nifft: No I don't believe that the test proctor helps solve the question. However in this metaphor the GM is also the teacher, tutor (who give information to the students) and the test writer (who makes sure the questions are solvable). In addition unlike the actual teacher, tutor and test writer the GM's job isn't over when the exam begins. The GM and other players go back and forth during the entire game, especially at those "what now?" points.

You want to talk about a stark distinction? OK, I think there is a stark distinction between a computer that reads instructions and presents the game according to it and a good GM who can freely modify the game on the fly to suit the group that is playing it.

Also I was not offended by your comment, I'm not sure what you mean by "paraphrasing Apricot's original invective" but I understand it was not directed at me. In fact I agree with the sentiment of the statement, however I believe that getting to the point of perfect communication is impossible, especially here on the internet. I would say more but I already said most of it in my previous post.

Nifft
2015-12-31, 12:29 PM
To Nifft: No I don't believe that the test proctor helps solve the question. However in this metaphor the GM is also the teacher, tutor (who give information to the students) and the test writer (who makes sure the questions are solvable). In addition unlike the actual teacher, tutor and test writer the GM's job isn't over when the exam begins. The GM and other players go back and forth during the entire game, especially at those "what now?" points. Sure, and taking care to only give solvable problems is part of the GM's role.

But actually solving the problem with the PCs is not.

In all of these examples -- proctor, teacher, tutor, test writer -- the person described does not receive a grade (i.e. XP) for his or her participation.

There are a bunch of reasons why I think this distinction in role is important. One reason is because it helps a new DM to see why running a DMPC is not a good idea -- it's because of the difficulty in being both a neutral referee and one of the players.


You want to talk about a stark distinction? OK, I think there is a stark distinction between a computer that reads instructions and presents the game according to it and a good GM
That's also true, but irrelevant.

Another irrelevant distinction is between the real dog under my table, and the imaginary riding dog that Belkar sits upon.

There are an infinite number of "sharp distinctions", and bringing up one which is irrelevant doesn't actually score any points against the distinction that I am making. It's just an unrelated statement.

If you're here to discuss the topic in good faith, please don't do that sort of thing. Thanks.

Cluedrew
2015-12-31, 06:45 PM
OK, I'm going back to the post that in my option started this particular section of the conversation.

The "Now what?", in an open-ended scenario, is a question for the players to solve.

The GM doesn't need to have an answer to it.I do this because... essentially I feel we have been focusing on various points and metaphors that we are starting to lose track of the original question. Now in a computer game the game lays out a bunch of choices (or just one) and you pick a path, that is "now what".

In a table top RPG players have the ability to create new solutions to this problem. "I go to the blacksmith's." The GM may not have even thought about the blacksmith's (it is common in fantasy so they easily could have) but where as a computer would simply have no blacksmith the GM can add one right there. However they can take it a step further than that and tailor the blacksmith's shop for the character going there. Perhaps there masterpiece work was copied from a sword used to murder the character's mother. Or something else, the point is there are actually too many possibilities to plan them all out ahead of time.

The GM has an active role in creating the narrative, responding to and bouncing off of the players as they respond to each other. Hence in my mind the difference between GM and the other players is not so significant. Both are needed to solve the problem, "Now what?"


If you're here to discuss the topic in good faith, please don't do that sort of thing. Thanks.Two points for this part: one I'm not sure what sort of thing your talking about, could please elaborate? Two, I am here in good faith, if I have overstepped that it was an accident and I apologize.

Pluto!
2015-12-31, 10:25 PM
My favorite part of the internet is how there's one person in every discussion trying to act offended in order to discredit valid opposing arguments.

CharonsHelper
2016-01-01, 12:59 AM
My favorite part of the internet is how there's one person in every discussion trying to act offended in order to discredit valid opposing arguments.

I find that offensive too!

GAAD
2016-01-01, 04:07 AM
I find that offensive too!

I find this to be the most offensive post I've ever read! And THIS to be the most offensive post I've ever typed!

Nifft
2016-01-01, 09:58 AM
The GM has an active role in creating the narrative, responding to and bouncing off of the players as they respond to each other. Hence in my mind the difference between GM and the other players is not so significant. Both are needed to solve the problem, "Now what?"
1 - "Now what?" isn't a problem which has a singular solution. It's a different topic entirely.

2 - The idea that both DMs and players can contribute to the plot is a playstyle choice, not a fact of all gaming. For example, players do NOT contribute to the plot of ye olde tournament games like Tomb of Horrors.

3 - Thus, I think you're coming at this issue from the standpoint of a single playstyle (presumably your own), whereas I'm trying to talk about the necessary distinctions which hold true across all tabletop playstyles.



Two points for this part: one I'm not sure what sort of thing your talking about, could please elaborate? Two, I am here in good faith, if I have overstepped that it was an accident and I apologize.
Well, here's the thing.

Bringing up computer games as though they were a counter-argument to my discussion about the role of the GM is a strawman argument.

I don't find those productive -- and if you do them on purpose, then I think it's a sign of bad faith.

In this post, I feel like your attempt to try to equate problem solving (the previous topic) with general plot direction ("now what?") to be another strawman argument. You're not addressing the point that the DM and players are not engaged in problem solving in equivalent ways, you're addressing an entirely different subject and trying to pretend that the arguments you make in the new subject are applicable to the previous topic. They're not, and it's not a good-faith argument to propose that they do.


(Note that this isn't offensive, it's just bad rhetorical technique which won't convince anyone and is a waste of time.)

Cluedrew
2016-01-01, 12:49 PM
I had this big explanation as to why I thought what I did.
(I got a little carried away.)

I've re-read the thread back about 2 pages, I've even tracked this topic back even further to post #190 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20233965&postcount=190) in this thread, when goto124 asked how to deal with miss-matched level encounters. That branched off of a note about leveling the world with the PCs, which I think is a different topic. The original question although in part a single fight was also about the campaign leading up to it (see the last paragraph) and so in my view is a question about general plot direction, particularly the plot that leads up to that fight. Later (#192 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20233991&postcount=192)) a question about what to do about the plot if they lose the fight was also forwarded, which is also about plot.

So re-reading the posts between that post and here to find the change in topic I can find only one reference to situational problem solving (didn't use those words but I think it describes it well) and that is in a post of Apricot's (#209 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20237499&postcount=209)) when he says something that amounts to "you (Nifft and Frozen_Feet) are talking about situational problem solving, I'm talking about general plot direction so we might be taking past each other". Your reply to him (#214 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20238984&postcount=214)) states "I doubt it" and then goes on to explain how the GM should use good communication (I agree with that point) and although it doesn't explicitly state anything on the matter it seems to state that those two things, situational problem solving and general plot direction are two sides of the same coin. General RPG problem solving if you will as both describe types of problems that should be solved in and around role-playing games.

So I ended up thinking we were taking about RPG problem solving with a focus on general plot direction. I was discussing the first for a while and homed in an the second in my last post (hence why this all came up).But then I realized that that doesn't actually matter. I looked up Strawman Argument and it seems both of us were using strawmans (although we can get out because it was a misunderstanding and not a purposefully attempt to discredit the other). What we have here is a break down in communication.

Now I've had enough of "talking about how we talk" for now so I'm going to ignore the rest. If there are any points you feel are still important there reiterate them and I will attempt a reply.

On situation problem solving: This is certainly an area where the GM plays less of a role. In fact the only "active" role the GM plays (that I can think of) is when a player does something unexpected. This is where the computer/person comparison came from. Here a computer's only response is "nothing happens" while a person can on the fly create a way forward, a new challenge to overcome or at least a more interesting failure.

On general plot direction: Actually I've already said it. Hopefully with this clarification it will make more sense to everybody.

Frozen_Feet
2016-01-01, 02:57 PM
I don't think "overall plot direction" is in a category different from "solving situational problems" in an open-ended scenario. Reasoning: the solutions players utilize towards any given problem can change the whole sub-genre, ie. "Overall plot direction" of the game. Again, the GM doesn't need to make those decisions.

How far the GM should go to create a framework in which the player's decisions can work depends on the roof genre and rules system of the game. Traditional RPGs rely on probabilistic and simulationist models - rolling on tables and making the GM ask "does this make sense for this place and time?" Newer games focusing more on genre emulation or narrative causality make the GM ask "does this make for a fun story?" or flatout allow players to establish setting facts to support their own decisions.

Nifft
2016-01-01, 09:06 PM
I don't think "overall plot direction" is in a category different from "solving situational problems" in an open-ended scenario. Reasoning: the solutions players utilize towards any given problem can change the whole sub-genre, ie. "Overall plot direction" of the game. Again, the GM doesn't need to make those decisions.

They can, but not in the middle of a fight.

"The orc draws his sword and charges you. What do you do?" <-- solving an immediate problem: constrained options, risk of immediate physical harm to PC

"All the orcs are dead, and you're all alive. Good job! Now, what do you do?" <-- overall plot direction: lots of freedom, no clear and present danger

These two different situations use some of the same words, but they are not the same question. In the former case, the DM is role-playing an antagonist. In the latter case, the DM is role-playing the helpful narrator -- and the DM is allowed to be helpful specifically because there is no clear and present danger which the PCs must "solve" in order to survive or advance.

They're different situations.

What would be appropriate in one of those situations would not necessarily be appropriate in the other one.

Quertus
2016-01-02, 01:29 PM
They can, but not in the middle of a fight.

"The orc draws his sword and charges you. What do you do?" <-- solving an immediate problem: constrained options, risk of immediate physical harm to PC

"All the orcs are dead, and you're all alive. Good job! Now, what do you do?" <-- overall plot direction: lots of freedom, no clear and present danger

These two different situations use some of the same words, but they are not the same question. In the former case, the DM is role-playing an antagonist. In the latter case, the DM is role-playing the helpful narrator -- and the DM is allowed to be helpful specifically because there is no clear and present danger which the PCs must "solve" in order to survive or advance.

They're different situations.

What would be appropriate in one of those situations would not necessarily be appropriate in the other one.

Oddly enough, I'd be more comfortable with a DM helping a new player select reasonable combat options than telling the party what to do out of combat.

Several times, a DM had started narrating what the party did in the aftermath, and I'd interrupt them with, no, I'm doing X.

Nifft
2016-01-03, 12:03 AM
Oddly enough, I'd be more comfortable with a DM helping a new player select reasonable combat options than telling the party what to do out of combat.

Several times, a DM had started narrating what the party did in the aftermath, and I'd interrupt them with, no, I'm doing X.

Seems reasonable to me. You don't mind tactical advice in pursuit of your current objective, but you dislike when someone presumes to tell you what objective you should pursue next.

I suspect there are people who are basically the opposite -- people who care a lot about tactical choices, but don't really engage with the overall plot -- and that's also fine, it's just a different set of priorities.

Elderand
2016-01-03, 08:20 AM
As a dm I favor a reasonably hands off approach. I'll give players plenty of hooks for interesting stuff they could do if they don't come up with objectives themselves via rumors or suchlike.
In combat I don't give player advice unless it's specificly requested by a player that's unfamilliar with the rules. For some reasons I tend to attract newbies over more experienced players.
The only combat or story case in which I'll intervene aside from the aforementioned help with new player is when a player does something really really stupid that's going to get them killed. And even then I just pop out the seminal "Are you sure you want to do that?" and even then only once. If they don't get the hint or push ahead what happen next is their responsability.

Jay R
2016-01-03, 01:14 PM
The only combat or story case in which I'll intervene aside from the aforementioned help with new player is when a player does something really really stupid that's going to get them killed. And even then I just pop out the seminal "Are you sure you want to do that?" and even then only once. If they don't get the hint or push ahead what happen next is their responsability.

Sometimes "Are you sure you want to do that?" isn't enough. If the player is missing something that should be clear and obvious to the character, I will explain it.

Player: I lay the ladder over the pit and crawl across.
DM: The ladder is decades old, and crumbling apart. It's clear that it won't bear your weight.

Player: I cast a fireball at the ogres.
DM: This room is the same size as a fireball. You'd be in it, too.

Player: I pick the duke's pocket.
DM: There are forty guardsmen standing behind the duke watching him respectfully. There's no way you wouldn't be seen.

I'm willing for PCs to get in trouble by being stupid, but not because the players didn't understand my description of the situation.

Cluedrew
2016-01-03, 08:46 PM
How far the GM should go to create a framework in which the player's decisions can work depends on the roof genre and rules system of the game.I think this is actually important, the answer changes, not only on particular play styles but on different games. Which since this a matter "above the rules" (or at least not a mechanical aspect of the game) it could be considered an extreme shift in play style, but I digress.

Or do I? Now that I think about it I can't really say I have seen any game master for any game run a game in a way I couldn't see most* other game run. (* GM-less games and some other extremes excluded.) Still different systems encourage different play-styles often with mechanics.

To Quertus: Personally for me the divide is not in/out-of-combat but suggestions/orders. I wouldn't like it if I was told what to do each round, but I have no problem with a GM listing off the places in town I might be interested in visiting.

Quertus
2016-01-03, 10:08 PM
To Quertus: Personally for me the divide is not in/out-of-combat but suggestions/orders. I wouldn't like it if I was told what to do each round, but I have no problem with a GM listing off the places in town I might be interested in visiting.

Ok, I can agree with that. :)

goto124
2016-01-04, 02:13 AM
Giving you information to make your own choices vs making your choices for you.

Frozen_Feet
2016-01-04, 08:46 AM
I think this is actually important, the answer changes, not only on particular play styles but on different games. Which since this a matter "above the rules" (or at least not a mechanical aspect of the game) it could be considered an extreme shift in play style, but I digress.
.

It's not above the rules in most games, whether those rules are mechanical or setting facts (the latter which is often erroneously dismissed as "fluff").

For example, if the game's roof genre is historical fiction, no-one will get dragons and no-one will get spaceships no matter how much they want them. Or, for a second example, we can go back to the players wanting to find a blacksmith; if the game has, say, a random table for frequency of blacksmiths, the assumption is that the table is what's used to determine if there's one available, or where.

The GM has no duty to go outside established rules of the game to facilitate player whim. Arguably, in some games, a GM has a duty to not go outside the established rules to do so. In yet other games, players have limited ability to change or break the rules themselves by spending player resources.

Cluedrew
2016-01-04, 10:15 PM
Oh I don't count "fluff" (or flavour, I like the word flavour) as above the game. By above the game I mean things like group dynamics and how strict the group stays to rules. Flavour is part of the game like the mechanical rules. Although I am quite willing to bend or ignore those things as the situation calls for it, but that is a personal thing.

Paul H
2016-01-07, 05:20 PM
Hi

For me Lvl 1 characters are quite special. They are you new creation. An idea or concept come into being. A newborn baby. if you like.

It's a start on a new career, possibly checking out a new class or archetype and you want to see how it works out.

I like to start from the beginning, to see how the character develops. Does it do it's job well? Does it survive? It seems to develop it's own character as it gains experience.

Thanks
Paul H