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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Roleplaying level one

    Level one kind of sucks, few would argue this. You're weak and limited in both resources and abilities and generally can feel kind of useless. Even worst often you even are completely lacking in core class mechanics that are central to how you see yourself as a character. I'm curious how people handle this? To you explain the absence of certain abilities or do you just hand-wave it away and ignore it until they become available and you pretend you had them all along?

    Foe example, I rather like Rogues but I enjoy magical Rogue even more, so you can imagine I'm pretty keen on Arcane Tricksters. Character wise I usually like to focus more on the magical side then the Rogue side (like being a failed or runaway wizard apprentice)... but this becomes a problem due to not being able to learn any spells until level three. True you can get a few various magical abilities by other sources like through race, but thatsnotreallythepointofthisthreadthankyou.

    So how about it? It's kind of hard to confidently play yourself as some sort of bad-ass adventurer when an angry house cat can prove a legitimate threat...
    Last edited by BiblioRook; 2016-07-17 at 07:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    As just a general tip, for roleplaying a magical rogue at level one, you could always put things in where your character is using magic but not in a way that directly affects anything. Maybe he's making replacement lockpicks hover next to his head as he's trying to pick a lock, or maybe he makes a slice of bread that was already within arms-reach float over to him while making a sandwich.

    So long as it's not enough to mechanichally impact the game, using magic purely for fluff should be fine in my eyes. Then once you get to level three, just say you got a liscence or learned a few new things that will help you out more.
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    also you are probably practicing the magic on your downtime for two levels it doesnt just suddenly manifest but when you hit level 3 or what ever you've practiced it enough to be confidant enough to use it in the field. same goes for the Eldritch Knight and even wizards and such are probably practicing or studying their spell books.
    Last edited by Blue Duke; 2016-07-17 at 06:50 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Sounds like the fault of the system.

    For your particular situation, I'd consider it like you could do some magical stuff of too little consequence to be represented on the tabletop, until level 3.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    How I play characters before mechanical maturity:
    The character is still working on developing their abilities. They are still an apprentice, even if self taught, rather than a journeyman.

    Examples:
    The Necromancer is still studying the process of death and will only become a master over death after further study.

    The Magic Rogue is still relying on the mundane method while they tweak their spellcraft to where it catches up with their natural talents.

    The Warrior is still practicing art forms and moves. They have mastered the beginnings of many of the sequences but are still working on the endings and on making combined forms that don't come with crippling flaws.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    While it makes sense in the context of the mechanics I find it hard to believe that many people go into a game with the mentality that their character is an utter amateur in their area of expertise. It's unarguably my least favorite part of starting at level one, more then even the actual mechanical shortcomings. With that mentality it feels like you are kind of pigeonholing yourself, what about trying to explain older characters? Like 'I'm a grizzled old veteran that has seen many battles..." yet still has the stats of a level 1 fighter? Time is also kind of wonky due to how fast a typical adventure might progress, going from like level one to level five in the span of an in-game week for example isn't that odd.
    Last edited by BiblioRook; 2016-07-17 at 07:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Like 'I'm a grizzled old veteran that has seen many battles..." yet still has the stats of a level 1 fighter?
    A level 1 character, by definition, hasn't seen many battles, or at least hasn't participated in many battles enough to get experience from them. It's like saying you want to play an archmage at level 1, or play a thief that has stolen kingdoms'-worth of gold. Of course that's not a level 1 character, by definition. Nor is it meant to be. Level 1 is the point at which you are seeing many battles so you can say you're a grizzled veteran when you actually haul your butt up to level 10.
    Last edited by Jormengand; 2016-07-17 at 07:39 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    I guess what I'm trying to get at is if you let being level 1 dictates your character or do you prepare your character for the bigger picture of what you inevitably will grow into?

    Like what if you want to play as the grizzled veteran but just happen to be stuck in a level one game, is that character then just not feasible as a character? Also I'm talking about less in terms of experience and more in terms of age. Sure it makes sense to have a strapping young character when starting at level one but personally I hate trying to role-play as youngsters, But when it comes to low level characters trying to have a character that has more years on them seems... odd.
    Last edited by BiblioRook; 2016-07-17 at 07:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    The problem is sort of with D&D's absurd power curve. You have to constantly keep in mind that a level 1 is a perfectly competent and experienced person. And that by level 6 you're a literal superhero.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    At low levels, your character is not yet a badass adventurer. You are a novice who has just decided to try their hand at adventuring. Your background should be conceived accordingly. Except in extraordinary circumstances, this means a young character, teens and twenties, maybe early thirties at the oldest. Most likely a newly "graduated" apprentice. If you want to play the already badass adventurer, you should be starting out above level three.

    Level one through three is playing out origin story of your badass adventurers (for those who survive past those levels).

    That said, I don't really love the way 5e classes are structured, either, from a verisimilitude standpoint. Or rather, in order for it to make sense how new powers appear at different levels, such as the rogue or fighter suddenly getting spells, there should be a mandatory in-game time expenditure for levelling up and a suggestion of returning to teachers, masters, guilds, etc for additional training in between levels. Otherwise, it makes no sense that one day you could be fighting along as a level two with no spell ability, and wake up the next day with spells. Before you get your next level and your spells, the character must return to civilization and get with someone that can teach them the new skills and powers and spend some weeks or months.
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2016-07-17 at 07:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    Genuinely curious: How, exactly? In what areas are they different from, say, a citizen?
    A citizen is going to be a level 0 commoner, most likely. Compare a 1st level fighter to a 0th level commoner.

    A fighter has d10 hp, +1 bab, a bunch of proficiencies and gear to go along with them.

    The citizen has d4 hp, 0 bab, no proficienies and probably no gear.

    And the PCs/people with class levels probably have much better stats too.
    Last edited by Koo Rehtorb; 2016-07-17 at 07:47 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    To a certain extent if you want to start at level one mechanically, then you should probably start at level one mechanically as well. Now what this means varies on the system. Even within the versions of D&D this has meant anything from "wet behind the eyes green horn" to "1-in-1000 master of their trade". Approximately.

    If you are playing the game where level 1 I say, do an appropriate character concept or start at a higher level. Play the game the system was meant to play I guess.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    I guess what I'm trying to get at is if you let being level 1 dictates your character or do you prepare your character for the bigger picture of what you inevitably will grow into?

    Like what if you want to play as the grizzled veteran but just happen to be stuck in a level one game, is that character then just not feasible as a character? Also I'm talking about less in terms of experience and more in terms of age. Sure it makes sense to have a strapping young character when starting at level one but personally I hate trying to role-play as youngsters, But when it comes to low level characters trying to have a character that has more years on them seems... odd.
    Correct. starting at level one, certain character concepts are not appropriate. By definition, at level one you haven't experienced anything in terms of adventuring. A fighter might have been a soldier or mercenary for a while, but probably hasn't seen much serious action. It could be believable for a veteran soldier or mercenary to be in their mid twenties, seen a couple battles, killed a few people, which gave them the experiences and skills necessary to be considered a level one fighter.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    The problem is sort of with D&D's absurd power curve. You have to constantly keep in mind that a level 1 is a perfectly competent and experienced person. And that by level 6 you're a literal superhero.
    I wouldn't call a level 1 character - who would usually fail the kind of craft check that I could make all the time, and who is immediately knocked out when shot with a gun, unlike practically every real-life human being - "Perfectly competent and experienced". You're looking to be about level 3 by that point. I've gone into the details of why this is the case here.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Seems like an unfair comparison, RL and DnD don't work the same way as your linked post has shown. DnD is imperfect when not modelling battle-trained people/creatures, it's not exactly supposed to.

    DnD has stats for citizens, comparison to that could be done as a poster above did.
    Last edited by goto124; 2016-07-17 at 08:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    DnD is imperfect when not modelling battle-trained people/creatures, it's not exactly supposed to.
    I disagree: it's supposed to be able to model a rogue and a wizard as well as a fighter. That, and the fact that a warrior being taken straight out by the average pistol shot is still a flaw in the combat system.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    In DnD, the rogue and wizard are also combatants.

    I suddenly wonder when pistols were introduced into DnD...
    Last edited by goto124; 2016-07-17 at 08:39 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    One thing to keep in mind is, D&D is very much a game about growth. You shouldn't really start with a character who has nowhere to grow to. And the lower level you start, the more growth there will be in your future, so the more space you have to leave your initial character concept. If you're starting at Lv1 rather than immediately jumping to 'I'm a bad-ass hero', it should be more like 'I want to become a bad-ass hero' (or alternately 'I used to be a bad-ass hero before this stupid curse/brain injury/reincarnation/etc and now I have to get used to not having even 1% of my previous powers'). If that's unappealing, Lv1 games may just not really be the thing for you.

    Now, given that, why do people like starting at Lv1? Personally, I think its better for 'show, don't tell'. If you start at Lv10, all the stuff the characters did to become experienced and awesome is just in each player's head, its not shared. So there's a lot of 'let me tell you this story of how great I was', but its all just whatever the players decide to say - at some level you know it doesn't matter because there's nothing backing it, so it often feels flat as a result. But if you start at Lv1, all the stuff the characters do to become awesome is a shared experience that happened at the table - everyone gets to form their own impression of it as it happens, rather than just being told.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Well, I usually start at levles 2 or 3 to avoid that very "problem" as in its only a problem if you envision your character as more developed than the starting level.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    In DnD, the rogue and wizard are also combatants.

    I suddenly wonder when pistols were introduced into DnD...
    The wizard isn't, at least not a physical combatant. And the fact that the rules (I think there are guns in the DMG, but I'm just grabbing the pistols from D20 modern because it's a lot easier to research how much damage a pistol deals than a longbow - either way it doesn't add up).

    Oh, and if you shoot a first-level wizard? Yeah, he falls unconscious too. First-level rogue? Staggered if his constitution is decent. And the skills for the rogue are wonky too. Everything about characters who are anything above about 5 or below about 3 is massively wonky.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I disagree: it's supposed to be able to model a rogue and a wizard as well as a fighter. That, and the fact that a warrior being taken straight out by the average pistol shot is still a flaw in the combat system.
    I would resolve that apparent flaw by reinterpreting what it means when a character takes enough damage to get killed. If the character dies, then the shot was one that would be fatal to a normal person. If the shot did not kill them, then it was not. Some of the more ridiculous or unbelievable results that the system can produce, like small animals dealing enough damage to kill a person, should probably be ignored or the rules outright changed. A cat shouldn't deliver any real damage to a human being, unless it is to deliver scratches that might become infected and cause disease after a couple days (roll on a table to see if you get "cat scratch fever" from claws with bacteria or feces on them). The rules are an abstraction. A dagger can absolutely kill someone, and if the dice roll indicates that it does so, then that 1 HP of damage wasn't just a scratch, it was a slash to the jugular or a stab to vital organs. If 1 HP damage doesn't kill you, then the dagger didn't get you in a vital spot, or it maybe it didn't even hit you at all. IN any case, 1 HP or any specific amount of HP does not reflect an objective amount or type of wound. It reflects characters getting worn down in varying amounts. When a character is out of HP, whatever last attack hit them was an attack capable of causing a mortal wound.
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2016-07-17 at 09:01 PM.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    At low levels, your character is not yet a badass adventurer. You are a novice who has just decided to try their hand at adventuring. Your background should be conceived accordingly. Except in extraordinary circumstances, this means a young character, teens and twenties, maybe early thirties at the oldest.
    As a rule, yes. But if you want to play an older person who suddenly takes up adventuring, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't.

    Example: a shopkeeper, whose shop (and whole town for that matter) has been razed to the ground by demonic invaders, whose family and friends are dead, and who wants some payback. Or maybe he was detected watering his wine, or otherwise disgraced and had to flee the town. Or maybe he was framed. There's no end of worthwhile backstories you could invent, to justify your L1 Rogue being 50 years old.

    The only difference, apart from age-related stat modifications, is that he's going to have a lot of background knowledge about - something. But that's not going to make a lot of difference in a typical adventuring career.
    Last edited by veti; 2016-07-17 at 09:14 PM.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    The wizard isn't, at least not a physical combatant. And the fact that the rules (I think there are guns in the DMG, but I'm just grabbing the pistols from D20 modern because it's a lot easier to research how much damage a pistol deals than a longbow - either way it doesn't add up).

    Oh, and if you shoot a first-level wizard? Yeah, he falls unconscious too. First-level rogue? Staggered if his constitution is decent. And the skills for the rogue are wonky too. Everything about characters who are anything above about 5 or below about 3 is massively wonky.

    Well if you compare D&D with real life then D&D is going to look pretty stupid in regards to most everything. D&D isn't modeled after realism, it's more like a superhero world or a cartoon were other rules apply.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Now, given that, why do people like starting at Lv1?
    I typically don't have much of a choice, my gaming group places a lot on keeping things open and newbie friendly so games almost always start at level one and rarely last beyond the span of a single quarter. I get why things are that way and don't necessarily disagree with it, but as a more experienced gamer it does get pretty annoying sometimes.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    I let my level 1 players try and use whatever they like. The players are total newbies to RPGs, so I don't want to discourage them -- I just give them a minus to their roll. Want to throw a thermonuclear fireball at level 1? Go right ahead and try, but you'll have to roll a 20 first. Two players are effectively arcane tricksters and one a ranger. So far one of the thieves has fallen off several buildings and the ranger has injured himself trying to bash down doors and break into a hospital. They enjoy my humorous recountings of their failures, but are working away at improvement.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    I guess what I'm trying to get at is if you let being level 1 dictates your character or do you prepare your character for the bigger picture of what you inevitably will grow into?
    False dichotomy. Level 1 is preparing for the bigger picture they will grow into. Keyword is grow since a Level 1 character cannot mechanically represent a concept that only becomes available later.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Like what if you want to play as the grizzled veteran but just happen to be stuck in a level one game, is that character then just not feasible as a character? Also I'm talking about less in terms of experience and more in terms of age. Sure it makes sense to have a strapping young character when starting at level one but personally I hate trying to role-play as youngsters, But when it comes to low level characters trying to have a character that has more years on them seems... odd.
    I described an example Level 1 Warrior as
    The Warrior is still practicing art forms and moves. They have mastered the beginnings of many of the sequences but are still working on the endings and on making combined forms that don't come with crippling flaws.
    and that description works just as well for a Level 1 old warrior as it does for a Level 1 barely an adult warrior. The key is that since mechanically both of those warriors have lots of room for improvement, I would choose fluff that matches. So the Level 1 old warrior is for some reason starting from near the beginning. Why? Perhaps they have gotten old and need to rework all of their forms in order to preform despite the ravages of their old age.

    However if you want to have a character that is fluffed as a Level 6+ character, then yes that character is inappropriate for a Level 1 game. Consider the hyperbole of wanting a 1st level character to be an Epic Sorcerer that ascended to become a Deity. Obviously that fluff is not going to work with a 1st level character sheet. Less hyperbolic examples suffer the same problem but merely to a lesser degree.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2016-07-17 at 11:24 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    also depending on your setting most warriors old or or not are just level 1. Considering that warriors don't have automatic max hp at first level a fighter represents a significant upgrade.

    So your a veteran warrior who fought in a lot of wars and what not but the skills learned marching in formation are not the same skills learned fighting orcs in a cave.

    In fact you could say that your guy is an absolutely great formation fighter and if you had 40 of your buddies to help, you could show off your stuff, but this whole running around in a haphazard skirmish your going to need to learn that almost from scratch
    Last edited by awa; 2016-07-17 at 11:28 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Now, given that, why do people like starting at Lv1? Personally, I think its better for 'show, don't tell'. If you start at Lv10, all the stuff the characters did to become experienced and awesome is just in each player's head, its not shared. So there's a lot of 'let me tell you this story of how great I was', but its all just whatever the players decide to say - at some level you know it doesn't matter because there's nothing backing it, so it often feels flat as a result. But if you start at Lv1, all the stuff the characters do to become awesome is a shared experience that happened at the table - everyone gets to form their own impression of it as it happens, rather than just being told.
    Most of my early gaming occurred one adventure at a time, with each character being played in many different adventures, with many different groups. So, whether I started at level 1 or level 10, there might still be no shared experiences with the players at the table, let alone with the characters that they are running.

    Personally, I think I had more fun with the "sharing your stories around the fire" games than the modern "adventure together for life" mindset. But, yeah, there was still something backing all the stories, even if that something didn't exist in the other players' heads.

    Playing the same character in a lot of different groups also had the advantage of giving the character a much broader range of experiences than you're likely to get under a single DM. And sharing those stories could help inform the DM of what everyone enjoys, and broaden people's view of what was possible in the game.

    I guess my point is, I don't see the advantage in having known Max Stabbington back when he was still learning to put the pointy end in the other person.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2016-07-18 at 08:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    Playing level one isn't a problem. Playing beginners in any system isn't the problem. It's making character concepts that don't fit beginner levels of power and complaining that it doesn't make sense that is the problem.

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    Default Re: Roleplaying level one

    tl;dr
    • Play the first level character as a first level character, not a crippled higher-level character.
    • First level characters have basic skills; they are neither complete amateurs nor people who've seen many battles.
    • Starting adventuring late in life is perfectly normal.



    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Level one kind of sucks, few would argue this.
    Actually, I would much rather start at first level and develop the character's history through play than just invent it. Level one is a much greater challenge, and gives you the ability to grow the character, rather than just making him up. (I don't want to start a book, movie, or chess game in the middle, either.)

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    You're weak and limited in both resources and abilities and generally can feel kind of useless.
    Then your problem is your internal feeling. A level one fighter facing a goblin is no different from a tenth level Fighter facing his legitimate threat.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Even worst often you even are completely lacking in core class mechanics that are central to how you see yourself as a character.
    This problem is how you see yourself as a character. Stop seeing him as already developed.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    I'm curious how people handle this? To you explain the absence of certain abilities or do you just hand-wave it away and ignore it until they become available and you pretend you had them all along?
    I act like a starting adventurer with basic abilities, trying to learn higher level abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Foe example, I rather like Rogues but I enjoy magical Rogue even more, so you can imagine I'm pretty keen on Arcane Tricksters. Character wise I usually like to focus more on the magical side then the Rogue side (like being a failed or runaway wizard apprentice)... but this becomes a problem due to not being able to learn any spells until level three. True you can get a few various magical abilities by other sources like through race, but thatsnotreallythepointofthisthreadthankyou.
    Your problem is that you are trying to define yourself as something other than a first level character. Be a rogue who thinks magic would be great.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    So how about it? It's kind of hard to confidently play yourself as some sort of bad-ass adventurer when an angry house cat can prove a legitimate threat...
    Exactly. So playing as a bad-ass adventurer when you aren't one is as silly as playing yourself as a wizard when the character is a Fighter.

    Play what you are - somebody who wants to become (or needs to become) a great adventurer. Many older men have joined the army for the first time when the country is at war.

    This is your first football game, your first fencing tourney, or your first mission after basic training. Nervous but determined, you will use the skills you have, and do what it takes to develop more skills to become like your great hero Lancelot.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    I guess what I'm trying to get at is if you let being level 1 dictates your character or do you prepare your character for the bigger picture of what you inevitably will grow into?
    I prepare my character to learn more and grow stronger. But this is also what I do if I start at 3rd level, or 10th level.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Like what if you want to play as the grizzled veteran but just happen to be stuck in a level one game, is that character then just not feasible as a character?
    The same thing you do if you want to be an epic Fighter but you're starting at level 10. You take the time, gain the experience, and earn the levels you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Also I'm talking about less in terms of experience and more in terms of age. Sure it makes sense to have a strapping young character when starting at level one but personally I hate trying to role-play as youngsters, But when it comes to low level characters trying to have a character that has more years on them seems... odd.
    But it is in fact perfectly normal. D'Artagnan was young, but Athos wasn't. Frodo and Bilbo both started their adventures at 50 (early middle age for a hobbit). Robin Hood's career started when Prince John took over England, not because of Robin's age. Carl Frederickson's adventures (in Pixar's Up) began when he was an old man. Alonso Quijana was an old man when he first went out as a knight errant called Don Quixote. Many older men first join the army when the country goes to war.

    The older person with no adventuring experience is a perfectly valid character.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    While it makes sense in the context of the mechanics I find it hard to believe that many people go into a game with the mentality that their character is an utter amateur in their area of expertise.
    Of course not. First level characters are not utter amateurs, and pretending they are is as silly as pretending that they are grizzled old veterans. The fighter has a sword and knows how to use it. The wizard has spells. Everybody has the basics, and the willingness to try to learn more.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    It's unarguably my least favorite part of starting at level one, more then even the actual mechanical shortcomings. With that mentality it feels like you are kind of pigeonholing yourself, what about trying to explain older characters? Like 'I'm a grizzled old veteran that has seen many battles..." yet still has the stats of a level 1 fighter?
    You can choose your class, but not your experience or level. "Grizzled old veteran" is fine, but "has seen many battles" is an attempt to choose your experience. Want to play a grizzled old veteran at first level? He's been in the army for decades, quietly doing guard duty or shuffling papers. Many soldiers have done this in peacetime.

    Quote Originally Posted by BiblioRook View Post
    Time is also kind of wonky due to how fast a typical adventure might progress, going from like level one to level five in the span of an in-game week for example isn't that odd.
    That's true. The way to fix that is to make it take more time to level up, but somehow I get the feeling you won't like that solution, either.

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