PDA

View Full Version : Average level in a D20 world.



nony2000
2008-10-24, 04:19 PM
I noticed a repetitive mistake in D20 books:
Different d20 books define an average man a deferent level, for example:
"CITY SCAPE" said a common thief is a level 5 rogue. On the other hand "Fighters and Barbarians" said a common mercenary is a level 3 warrior.

In different levels players still take the same amount of rounds to kill another monster
(lvl6 mage can kill a level 6mage in the same time a lvl1mage would kill a level 1 mage, at list that is almost true). So the deferens would be what a level 1 would do to them (in early levels any peasent with a dagger can be a danger and in level 6 he means nothing).
So the problem I sow was different authors see the average man in deferent levels.

In my opinion the would makes more sense in the very low levels, later the game becomes more and more like an action movie( being hit with 10 arrows and still fighting on, peasants mean nothing). And so Iv come the conclusion that D20 books can't be trusted with NPC levels (because you would probably chose it on your own as a DM).
Wich makes stuff more difficult for determining how strong your character is.
I did never see anyone mention this and I'm asking here if I'm wrong? Did anyone mention this before? And how strong in your opinion would an average man be?

hamishspence
2008-10-24, 04:21 PM
Cityscape is WOTC D&D, and one of the latest-released sources to give "typical" NPCs, its Level 10 upper limit seems passable.

JaxGaret
2008-10-24, 04:22 PM
It depends entirely on the setting.

snoopy13a
2008-10-24, 04:31 PM
It depends entirely on the setting.

Right. It is up to the DM. For example, if it is supposed to be a low-level campaign where 5 is the max then the average level would probably be between one and two. Anyway, you have figure on tons of level 1 commoners in a world that will bring down the average level.

nony2000
2008-10-24, 04:33 PM
It depends entirely on the setting.

I know but i play in "scard lands" and having an average mecenary be levels 2-3 warrior makes most prestige classes made feel too epic to what there ment.

OzymandiasVolt
2008-10-24, 04:34 PM
*makes the obligatory joke about Faerun NPCs*

Skjaldbakka
2008-10-24, 04:46 PM
Here is a rule of thumb that a friend of mine uses. Not sure how well it applies to 4e's advancement system though.

"The life of a common person in the middle ages for a month sucks about as much as being stabbed by a goblin. "

Jaerc
2008-10-24, 04:58 PM
In my campaign setting I use this chart of my make.

Character Level
Your place in the world can roughly be summed up as follows. A large percentage of NPCs in Nordgard are at least 5th level.
1-5: Young characters or characters newly exploring their lives.
6-10: Characters who are established in the world and maybe even skilled 11-15: Characters who are quite skilled and experienced
16-20: The upper echelons of society; powerful knights, ranked priests, professors, and merchant princes.
21-25: High priests, mighty warlords, archmagi, the true movers and shakers of the world
25+: The very pinnacles of mortal power: legendary kings, pious heads of churches, and so forth.
50: Level cap on mortals. No mortal can exceed this many HD.

I find that for me this gives good verisimilitude and allows for interesting gameplay at all levels

Riffington
2008-10-24, 06:17 PM
I concur with the "depends entirely on the setting." If you want "average" NPCs to have the abilities of "average" Earth humans, then the median level would be 1 or 2. A level 5 Noble on Earth would be supernatural (of course, so would a level 1 Adept, so obviously D20 worlds are not Earth).
If you want to model Earth, you'd really want a skill-based system instead of a level-based system.

Cybren
2008-10-24, 06:22 PM
Whatever the average level of the party is.

Kizara
2008-10-24, 06:50 PM
Whatever the average level of the party is.

It's actually pretty sad how accurate this tends to be.

KillianHawkeye
2008-10-24, 07:24 PM
IIRC, the 3.5 DMG's town building tools says that something like ~95% of the people will be Lv1 Commoners, so that means the average level must be really low, probably less than 2. The PCs will never interact with any of them, though.

snoopy13a
2008-10-24, 07:29 PM
IIRC, the 3.5 DMG's town building tools says that something like ~95% of the people will be Lv1 Commoners, so that means the average level must be really low, probably less than 2. The PCs will never interact with any of them, though.

If 95% of people are level 1 commoners then the highest possible average level is 1.95. That is if that the other 5% are all level 20.

Beleriphon
2008-10-24, 07:41 PM
I concur with the "depends entirely on the setting." If you want "average" NPCs to have the abilities of "average" Earth humans, then the median level would be 1 or 2. A level 5 Noble on Earth would be supernatural (of course, so would a level 1 Adept, so obviously D20 worlds are not Earth).

Well I could probably model somebody like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great as a level 5 nobel pretty well.

Experts can work for damn near everything else, even fitting into 3.xE skill system and DC levels pretty well. The noble class itself offers no supernatural powers, and at level 5 doesn't really offere anything beyond the scope of a really well trained person.

Einstein for example could probably be a level 5 expert with a really high intelligence, and the appropriate knowledge skills. That would let him pick his skills as needed, in addition to having enough skill points to cover all of the necessary bases.

Matthew
2008-10-24, 07:43 PM
In default D20/3e you follow the demographic charts to find the average character level. It is dependent on settlement size and frequency.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-10-24, 08:43 PM
The problem is how many of D&D's feats are required for basic acts, especially in combat. Look at any competent fencer, and try to figure out what level they'd need to be to get Spring Attack and the like. Level 5 doesn't begin to cover it.

JaxGaret
2008-10-24, 08:46 PM
The problem is how many of D&D's feats are required for basic acts, especially in combat. Look at any competent fencer, and try to figure out what level they'd need to be to get Spring Attack and the like. Level 5 doesn't begin to cover it.

RL people have Flaws out the wazoo :smallwink:

snoopy13a
2008-10-24, 09:50 PM
The problem is how many of D&D's feats are required for basic acts, especially in combat. Look at any competent fencer, and try to figure out what level they'd need to be to get Spring Attack and the like. Level 5 doesn't begin to cover it.

A fighter can get Spring Attack at level 4 and the limiting factor is BAB not prereq feats. At level 4 a human fighter has five feats.

Five feats could buy someone Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus for their focus sword.

That would be leaving out the Combat Expertise feats but they can still feint or try to disarm under basic rules.

Fiery Diamond
2008-10-24, 09:55 PM
Depending entirely on the setting is true. For my world, I came up with a chart something as follows:

{table]Level|What it means
1st|Trained
2nd|Average soldier, so on and so forth
3rd|Better than average
4th|Lt in a noble's personal troops
5th|Captain in a noble's personal troops
6th|Well-known within a city
7th|Highest level character of most classes in a city
8-10th|Very well known, famous, highest level you're likely to find readily in the Empire Captial
[/table]

With the exception that my various countries have different class and level demographics - the elf nation has the the levels bumped up about 2-3 levels for spellcasters, the merc nation has the levels bumped up about 2-3 levels for fighters, etc.

Swordguy
2008-10-24, 10:01 PM
You can have them at whatever level you like if you simply adopt the expedient of "only major people (PCs and the like) gain HP per level".

Now you avoid "being hit with 10 arrows and still fighting on," silliness, while still allowing people other than the PC to have abilities that matter.

Hzurr
2008-10-25, 01:14 AM
Hmm...a way to determine level in a d20 world, on a scale of 1-20. *sigh* if there was only some way to randomly determine this, like with a dice roll or something. But really, where are we going to find a 20 sided die?

bosssmiley
2008-10-25, 07:47 AM
In my campaign setting I use this chart of my make.

Character Level
Your place in the world can roughly be summed up as follows. A large percentage of NPCs in Nordgard are at least 5th level.
1-5: Young characters or characters newly exploring their lives.
6-10: Characters who are established in the world and maybe even skilled 11-15: Characters who are quite skilled and experienced
16-20: The upper echelons of society; powerful knights, ranked priests, professors, and merchant princes.
21-25: High priests, mighty warlords, archmagi, the true movers and shakers of the world
25+: The very pinnacles of mortal power: legendary kings, pious heads of churches, and so forth.
50: Level cap on mortals. No mortal can exceed this many HD.

I find that for me this gives good verisimilitude and allows for interesting gameplay at all levels

That 50HD cap sounds familiar. Jaerc from DiceFreaks, right?

On topic. IMG I tend to follow Justin Bacon's "Calibrating your Expectations" schema:
1-5: primary world human (benchmark: "Conan" in the book and movies)
6-10: Hollywood Heroic (benchmark: comics "Conan", "Prince Valiant" or "Daredevil")
11-15: Wuxia Heroic (benchmark: "He-Man", "Spiderman" or "Nemesis the Warlock")
16-20: Superheroic (benchmark: "Thor", "JLA", "The Authority")
21+: Epic. You graduate into the Epic Landscape, become hero-deities, and get your own demiplane. "Here is a D&D; you won it."

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-25, 09:13 AM
There's no such thing as "average level", since level is a representation of the story-importance of, and the challenge presented by, any NPC, and therefore levels are relative to the PCs, to some degree.


Hmm...a way to determine level in a d20 world, on a scale of 1-20. *sigh* if there was only some way to randomly determine this, like with a dice roll or something. But really, where are we going to find a 20 sided die?

Yes, that certainly determines average level. I guess you're of the opinion it's 10.5, then?

Sarcasm doesn't work if you're completely missing the point yourself.

hamishspence
2008-10-25, 09:16 AM
I'd say, important issue isn't average level, but Maximum Common level- they highest point at which Stock NPCs are being used "Generic Veteran Soldier" and the like. How high can you go, and still be An Ordinary Person?

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-25, 09:23 AM
I'd say, important issue isn't average level, but Maximum Common level- they highest point at which Stock NPCs are being used "Generic Veteran Soldier" and the like. How high can you go, and still be An Ordinary Person?

Class is more relevant than level, in this case. A 20th-level Commoner is still very much an ordinary person, just one who's better able to deal with your common orcs and beasties. He still can't defeat golems and other really heroic or unusual opponents.

Hzurr
2008-10-25, 09:55 AM
Yes, that certainly determines average level. I guess you're of the opinion it's 10.5, then?

Sarcasm doesn't work if you're completely missing the point yourself.

No, I got the point, I simply have an odd brand of sarcasm. If you'd prefer a serious answer...

It depends on what the party is. If you've got a party who will take advantage of having weak townsfolk, then townspeople should be the average level of the party, because otherwise the party will steal everything, and burn it all to the ground without anyone able to stop them.

If you're playing 4E, I recommend making most people the level of the PCs, but make them minions. That way they PCs can still feel like they're "heroes", but if they really start acting up, they can still be taken down by a mob without significant rules bending

JaxGaret
2008-10-25, 10:57 AM
It depends on what the party is. If you've got a party who will take advantage of having weak townsfolk, then townspeople should be the average level of the party, because otherwise the party will steal everything, and burn it all to the ground without anyone able to stop them.

If you're playing 4E, I recommend making most people the level of the PCs, but make them minions. That way they PCs can still feel like they're "heroes", but if they really start acting up, they can still be taken down by a mob without significant rules bending

Oblivion, anyone?

Watch out for the deadly sewer rats!

Riffington
2008-10-25, 11:00 AM
Einstein for example could probably be a level 5 expert with a really high intelligence, and the appropriate knowledge skills. That would let him pick his skills as needed, in addition to having enough skill points to cover all of the necessary bases.

More than enough... about 2/3 of his skill points would be unspent :p

Yahzi
2008-10-25, 11:15 AM
There's no such thing as "average level", since level is a representation of the story-importance of, and the challenge presented by, any NPC, and therefore levels are relative to the PCs, to some degree.
Then why have levels at all?

What is the point of the PCs going from 1d6 damage to 10d6 damage if the town guards go from 1d6 hps to 10d6 hps right along with them?

To me, the "average level" is absolutely crucial, and I ask the DM what it is before we even start playing. It tells me what the world is like. And the entire point of D&D is to visit another world.

Well, unless you're just playing it for the tactical combat. But if all you want is a good game of minis, I think there are better systems than D&D for that.

Mastikator
2008-10-25, 11:26 AM
It depends entirely on settings, and in my settings I prefer to keep the average level class on humans 1-3, gnomes, halfling and dwarves 1-4, elves 2-4 and savage species (goblins, orcs etc) 1-2. (I don't adjust in case of LA modifider)

Higher age means more experience (on average) means higher level.
So higher max age means higher average level.

I prefer to keep the players around level 1-5 too. It starts getting really cheesy after that. I prefer non-cheese.

Mark Hall
2008-10-25, 11:27 AM
I tend to assume that humans people have 1 CR per decade of age. So, from 0-9, 1st level NPC, or no PC. 10-19, 1st level PC or 2nd level NPC. 20-29, 2nd level PC, 3rd level NPC, etc.

That's just a rule of wrist for NPCs; individual NPCs will vary widely.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-10-25, 11:28 AM
It depends entirely on settings, and in my settings I prefer to keep the average level on humans 1-3, gnomes, halfling and dwarves 1-4, elves 2-4 and savage species (goblins, orcs etc) 1-2.

Higher age means more experience (on average) means higher level.
So higher max age means higher average level.

I prefer to keep the players around level 1-5 too. It starts getting really cheesy after that. I prefer non-cheese.Have you looked at e6? May let you run longer-lasting characters.

JaxGaret
2008-10-25, 11:28 AM
I prefer to keep the players around level 1-5 too. It starts getting really cheesy after that. I prefer non-cheese.

You might want to check out E6 (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=352719). It seems like it would be right up your alley.

EDIT: Ninja'd because I took the time to include the link :smallsmile:

Knaight
2008-10-25, 12:41 PM
Considering the whole down level doubling paradigm in 3.5, distribution should be something like this:
20-1-20
19-2-38
18-4-72
17-8
16-16
15-32
14-64
13-128
12-256
11-512
10-1024
9-2048
8-4096
7-8192
6-16384
5-32768
4-65536
3-131072
2-262144
1-524288

From there you can figure out the average. There are much faster, better methods, but this gives everybody more info. The third column is the first two multiplied together, and the important number, once I get the rest filled in, after editing. Then I just add up all the numbers in the second column, add up all the numbers in the third column, and divide the number in the third column by the one in the second.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-25, 06:19 PM
Then why have levels at all?

What is the point of the PCs going from 1d6 damage to 10d6 damage if the town guards go from 1d6 hps to 10d6 hps right along with them?

Did I say there was a 1:1 equivalency?

The city guards are probably supposed to be some kind of a threat at level 1; they'll probably be level 1 themselves, or maybe even 2 (since they're probably expert/warriors). If there's an encounter with them at level 10, where they're supposed to still be some kind of a threat, they can be level 5 and be just excellent mooks. If the palace guard are meant to go head-to-head with the level 15 PCs (sounds like a pretty typical scenario to me), they might be level 12 or higher.

I don't see the point in allowing some silly pre-determined levels to restrict the kind of encounters you can construct. "Oh, well, I can't use these knights as enemies, they're too high/low level..."

Edit:
Knaight, that comes out to 2, but an actual average is not nearly as useful as a mode, really. (Which, in your calculation, is 1, obviously.)

But isn't the doubling supposed to happen every time you halve the level, according to the DMG population figures and tables? So it's 1 level 20, 2 level 10s, 4 level 5s, 8 level 2s, 16 level 1s, plus a whole mess more of level 1s and 2s.

Knaight
2008-10-25, 07:17 PM
Really? I thought that had to do with CR, except for reversed and modified.(half the people, subtract 2).

ken-do-nim
2008-10-25, 07:32 PM
Depending entirely on the setting is true. For my world, I came up with a chart something as follows:

{table]Level|What it means
1st|Trained
2nd|Average soldier, so on and so forth
3rd|Better than average
4th|Lt in a noble's personal troops
5th|Captain in a noble's personal troops
6th|Well-known within a city
7th|Highest level character of most classes in a city
8-10th|Very well known, famous, highest level you're likely to find readily in the Empire Captial
[/table]

With the exception that my various countries have different class and level demographics - the elf nation has the the levels bumped up about 2-3 levels for spellcasters, the merc nation has the levels bumped up about 2-3 levels for fighters, etc.

This. Not necessarily these exact designations, but I highly recommend that before beginning a campaign every DM make a chart like FieryDiamond has done here. It is also helpful to expand the chart into separate columns for soldier, wizard, and clerical hierarchies.

Yahzi
2008-10-25, 11:14 PM
I don't see the point in allowing some silly pre-determined levels to restrict the kind of encounters you can construct. "Oh, well, I can't use these knights as enemies, they're too high/low level..."
The point is to give your characters arcs. As their characters grow, things should change. When they are high-level, they should be going on extra-planar trips to ancient tombs or whatever. Not fighting in bars.

Restricting the kinds of encounters you can construct is necessary to the game. The party shouldn't fight kings and dragons at level 1, and they shouldn't fight guards and policemen at level 20.

monty
2008-10-25, 11:17 PM
When they are high-level, they should be going on extra-planar trips to ancient tombs or whatever. Not fighting in bars.

I don't know where you drink, but my bars are full of frenzied berserkers.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-26, 04:39 AM
Restricting the kinds of encounters you can construct is necessary to the game. The party shouldn't fight kings and dragons at level 1, and they shouldn't fight guards and policemen at level 20.

But there's no reason they shouldn't fight guards at 10th level. Or 8th, or 12th.

You're using a silly exaggerated example that's worth precisely nothing.

hamishspence
2008-10-26, 05:25 AM
and thats what minions are for: guards, for the Big Boss, that pose a real threat to the players, without overwhelming them.

Aquillion
2008-10-26, 06:17 AM
Did I say there was a 1:1 equivalency?

The city guards are probably supposed to be some kind of a threat at level 1; they'll probably be level 1 themselves, or maybe even 2 (since they're probably expert/warriors). If there's an encounter with them at level 10, where they're supposed to still be some kind of a threat, they can be level 5 and be just excellent mooks. If the palace guard are meant to go head-to-head with the level 15 PCs (sounds like a pretty typical scenario to me), they might be level 12 or higher.

I don't see the point in allowing some silly pre-determined levels to restrict the kind of encounters you can construct. "Oh, well, I can't use these knights as enemies, they're too high/low level..."

Edit:
Knaight, that comes out to 2, but an actual average is not nearly as useful as a mode, really. (Which, in your calculation, is 1, obviously.)

But isn't the doubling supposed to happen every time you halve the level, according to the DMG population figures and tables? So it's 1 level 20, 2 level 10s, 4 level 5s, 8 level 2s, 16 level 1s, plus a whole mess more of level 1s and 2s.I don't like that. High-level characters should be important. Always, without exception. I would never put an unnamed character above level 5 in my games (and even then, someone of level 5 should be significant locally.) Even a group of level 5 palace guards would strain disbelief for me.

The problem is, high-level players are supposed to be superhuman. A level 12 character is a regional legend, someone people will be telling stories about for a while to come. Nameless guards should not be able to pose a serious threat to them.

It isn't using "silly pre-determined levels" to restrict the kind of encounters you throw at them; it's verisimilitude. Level 12 characters should not be threatened by your typical rabid sewer rats. An epic, extended battle with rapid sewer rats destroys any sense that they're actually progressing. Likewise, local town guards should not be a serious match for legendary heroes -- if Bob, the fat guard down at the corner of the street, can beat Thrag the Legendary Dragonslayer, then how exactly was Thrag legendary?

This doesn't mean that guards can't threaten PCs; there are lots of ways to threaten PCs without simply trying to crush them ham-handedly under the weight of your levels. They can call in reinforcements, and (eventually) equally-high-stature characters of their own. They can work in a team, set up ambushes and traps, overwhelmingly outnumber the characters; some of their more experienced members can be trained in taking on higher-level characters, with feats and classes chosen to match. They can have leaders and a few cadre mages (say, 3rd to 5th level) with their classes and spells chosen specifically to act as force-amplifiers for their large numbers of guards from a distance.

An encounter like that can be fun and challenging for the players without having to roll your eyes and say "Yeah, yeah, the guards are also strong enough to slay dragons. Yep, every single damn guard."

And ultimately, there's nothing wrong with an occasional mismatched fight, if that's what the players really want. If they end up fighting Benny the guard, it's all right to let them mop the floor with him just to let them feel powerful -- you can use it as an excuse to send more powerful (and suitably important) bounty-hunters or whatever after them later.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-26, 07:39 AM
It isn't using "silly pre-determined levels" to restrict the kind of encounters you throw at them; it's verisimilitude. Level 12 characters should not be threatened by your typical rabid sewer rats. An epic, extended battle with rapid sewer rats destroys any sense that they're actually progressing. Likewise, local town guards should not be a serious match for legendary heroes -- if Bob, the fat guard down at the corner of the street, can beat Thrag the Legendary Dragonslayer, then how exactly was Thrag legendary?

Yay, more strawmen. Are you people out of real arguments or something?

If 12 is legendary in your world, that's great. You probably wouldn't find legendary fighters working as palace guards.

In, say, the Forgotten Realms, it makes perfect sense to me to find troops of 15th-level fighters guarding kings and the like, since the setting actually makes use of epic levels.

Chronos
2008-10-26, 03:23 PM
The way I see it:
At level 1, you're a common soldier in an army. If you're a fighter rather than a warrior, it might mean you have some potential, but you haven't achieved any of it yet. There's not really anything to distinguish you from any of the other thousands of soldiers.

At level 5, you're still a soldier, but you're getting more interesting missions. You might be one of the guys hand-selected by your commanders to hold a particularly important position, or sent on a basic special-ops type mission.

At level 10, you're swaying the course of battles. If two armies meet, and level 10 characters are on the field, the one that wins is likely to be the one that has more of them.

At level 15, for practical purposes you are an army. No number of first-level soldiers can take you out, and you can deal with things on your own.

At level 20, you're beyond wars. You can start or stop them at your whim, and lesser mortals might fight wars just over the opportunity to ask you questions.

More generally, most people are level one, and know only the basics of their field. A typical starting apprentice is level one.

By level 5, you're a master of your field, and recognized as a peer by others in the field. A PhD is around here, as is an established craftsman or a politician who's attained a real position. This is also close to the point where you can start taking on apprentices of your own (the Leadership feat is available at level 6).

Level 11 is the official threshhold for "legendary", for purposes of spells like Legend Lore. Everyone in your field has heard of you, and you probably have things named after you (a move, or a battle, or a spell).

By level 20, the world is unimaginably different because of your contributions to it. You're the most important person of your generation. Einstein was probably level 20, as was Alexander the Great. If ever two people of level 20 should meet, the event will be listed in the history books for all time.

hamishspence
2008-10-26, 03:37 PM
In Cityscape, level 1 is Apprentice, level 5 Journeyman, level 10 Master.

Aquillion
2008-10-26, 07:22 PM
If 12 is legendary in your world, that's great. You probably wouldn't find legendary fighters working as palace guards.

In, say, the Forgotten Realms, it makes perfect sense to me to find troops of 15th-level fighters guarding kings and the like, since the setting actually makes use of epic levels.Yeah, but the point is, those "silly pre-determined levels" are supposed to represent what people are actually capable of. If you have palace guards in your world who are each capable of fighting decently against dragons, krakens, and storm giants, that's fine.

But I object to your idea that pre-determined levels/HD/CR shouldn't be used to determine what's an appropriate encounter for your players. If you're in, say, Eberron, then your typical nameless guards are simply not supposed to be a HD-for-HD challenge for any decent-level party; this is what their pre-determined levels represent, and that's why you shouldn't suddenly raise regular city guards who would have been 1 HD before all the way to 5 HD in order to challenge your players.

It's much more interesting to focus on opponents that are thematically a 'match' for your players, not just city guards with more HD pumped into them. And there's nothing wrong with the players fighting a group of very weak guards occasionally (although the guards would probably break and run when they realize they're outmatched.)

Kurald Galain
2008-10-27, 06:22 AM
I concur with the "depends entirely on the setting." If you want "average" NPCs to have the abilities of "average" Earth humans, then the median level would be 1 or 2.

The real world Does Not Work That Way. If you're going to model an expert human (whether expert at science or at combat), you could easily end up with eight levels of skill points, feats, and the like. If you subscribe to Justin's common "level five fallacy", then you end up with an Einstein who gets outsmarted by average high school teenagers on a regular basis.

It's a shame that badly-researched piece got so much prominence; WOTC did some analysis of olympic athletes and pegged them at levels higher than five, depending on the sport. That's a much better benchmark, considering it's based on actual facts rather than wishful thinking.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-27, 08:38 AM
The real world Does Not Work That Way. If you're going to model an expert human (whether expert at science or at combat), you could easily end up with eight levels of skill points, feats, and the like. If you subscribe to Justin's common "level five fallacy", then you end up with an Einstein who gets outsmarted by average high school teenagers on a regular basis.

It's a shame that badly-researched piece got so much prominence; WOTC did some analysis of olympic athletes and pegged them at levels higher than five, depending on the sport. That's a much better benchmark, considering it's based on actual facts rather than wishful thinking.

Too right.

If you're using NPC classes, even 20th-level NPCs (other than Adepts) can't really do anything outrageously unrealistic, other than what the hit point system and similar idiosyncracies bring about (and level is irrelevant to the lack of realism inherent in those).


If you're in, say, Eberron, then your typical nameless guards are simply not supposed to be a HD-for-HD challenge for any decent-level party

Another strawman, yay! And it's not even a new one. I already explicitly rebuked the "HD-for-HD" idea.