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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Starting at first level yay or nay

    Lately I been noticing many gms want to start at level 1 in openrpgs (I don't like pbp games seeing as they're too slow). Now I understand new gms who want to start at level one to make things easier and to learn how to dm. But I notice those who claim to be veteran dm also to start at level one.

    I understand some people want to play up and starters or wet behind the ear youngster (I like to play em once in awhile). Sometimes I want to play a veteran, or prehaps an archer who's not a human or a fighter to be able to contribute to the fight past the first round. (Why is Precise shot have requirement is beyond me).

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I like playing from level one because it's the thinking level. When the world is vastly more powerrful than you are and any CR appropriate encounter that will take up 50% of your party's resources, usually involves the possibility of character death. It's harder because you are just weaker. If you take these thinking mooks up to their fulfillment of their builds, that wimpy abjurer who takes up master specialist and IOTSV, his experiences of being literally, the most useless and weakest and most fragile member of his party helps him come up for solutions to dilemmas that does not involve world altering magic.
    My mother says: those on fire should roll.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Agreed. I like starting at first level because it allows for imagination instead of BOOM! CoDzilla/ Wizard FTW. It is probably one of the few times that all classes are nearly equal. Besides, I personally think it is much more fun to start from the beginning with my characters.
    Heal yourself * Hurt yourself * Judge yourself

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Personally, I prefer to start at level 4 or 5. This gives the PCs (whether me or not) a chance to convincingly put some experiences into their backstories, and no one is feeling like they wish they'd rolled just 20 more gold for that chain shirt. While I agree that level one is interesting, it may not actually be the best level for beginners, either. A slightly higher level allows for a bit more forgiveness if someone makes a rookie mistake. Its also great for adding a rookie to an existing group. Not too many abilities or items to worry about, but the DM doesn't have to go easy on anyone, either.
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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    My personal choice is level 8. Yes, it's high, but it really gives you a chance to know a player. Plus, it allows them to have a good range of options, something level 1 simply doesn't have.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    KIDS's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I like 1st level because it's simple, you know what to expect and it usually provides a solid basis for the future. But starting at higher level is just as good, and I'd say that lvl 3-4 provides you with the greatest pool of possible character concepts. All in all, doesn't matter much - but I certainly wouldn't attach anything like "better roleplaying" to a game just because it's lvl 1. It's very subjective.
    There is no good and evil. There is only more and less.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I prefer to start my campaigns at level 2.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Quote Originally Posted by cupkeyk View Post
    If you take these thinking mooks up to their fulfillment of their builds, that wimpy abjurer who takes up master specialist and IOTSV, his experiences of being literally, the most useless and weakest and most fragile member of his party helps him come up for solutions to dilemmas that does not involve world altering magic.
    Yup. The characters who are the most resourceful and the best survivors tend to be the ones who've had to live on their wits in the past without any powerful abilities to bail them out.

    Playing very fragile or low-level characters makes you much better at staying alive once you go up the ranks - you have a proper value for those higher-level abilities, and you know how to manage without them if something goes wrong.

    - Saph
    I'm the author of the Alex Verus series of urban fantasy novels. Fated is the first, and Book #10 in the series, Fallen, is out as of September 2019. For updates, check my blog!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I never have my players start at level one, simply because level one characters can be one-shotted by a lucky opponent all too easily, even through no fault of their own. Playing from level 3 onwards solves this problem, and leaves them with plenty of challenge and growth possibilities.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Jannex's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I may be in the minority here, but I don't especially like starting at level 1. I always feel like first level play is too... random. A character's skills and ability have relatively little impact on their success or failure in a given action; things are too dependent on the d20 roll for my tastes. First level makes it difficult to play any character concept that involves being good at anything, because first-level characters really aren't good at anything yet. And then, as Akisa mentioned, there are the feats with the seemingly ill-considered prerequisites (like Weapon Finesse, for instance...).

    It's not always desirable to play the nave, fresh-faced youth leaving home for the first time to begin a career of adventuring. Sometimes it's more fun to play a character with a bit of a past, who might have some interesting connections and plot hooks, and valuable experiences from which to draw.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Oh, I prefer 3rd-level too. It means you can take things like Weapon Finesse and actually have a little bit of character power.

    That said, there is a certain fun to being low-level, as long as the GM's good. (I've had a bit of a reversal on this, though. I used to like low-level campaigns, but over the summer I had to to suffer through a long series of games that revolved around nothing but dungeon-crawling fighting CR 1 and CR 2 monsters. By the end of it I was willing to play just about any game that didn't require me to do a low-level dungeon crawl. I got into a Paranoia game instead . . . and it turned out to be a low-level dungeon crawl. Aaagh!)

    - Saph
    I'm the author of the Alex Verus series of urban fantasy novels. Fated is the first, and Book #10 in the series, Fallen, is out as of September 2019. For updates, check my blog!

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    For me, I favor levels four onward, but no higher than twelfth. At twelfth, it's hard for the Fighters to stand out and feel at evens with the rest of the party. Wizards, Rogues, and Clerics dominate the game. At lower levels, like fourth, the characters have some nice trump cards, fighters are still decently worth playing, no ones earned all of their signiture abilities, and the Dice Roll isn't a god which you have to pray to for survival. For a more tactical game, I prefer 8th level as a nice startup. 8Th gives me as the DM the ability to play HARD on the players, and for them to make some nice countermoves. The game feels much more tactical and deep, and no spell is yet powerful enough to nullify a challenge, no skill quite high enough to ignore the dice entirely.

    If that makes sense. I keep getting this nagging impression that nothing I write today makes sense. DId someone here place Bestow Curse on me?!??!

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I got into a Paranoia game instead . . . and it turned out to be a low-level dungeon crawl. Aaagh!)
    Well, at least in Paranoia, you don't need any monsters to get yourself killed

    Plus you can use a glowing marker to write "+3" on your metal club...
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Quote Originally Posted by Brom View Post
    For me, I favor levels four onward, but no higher than twelfth. At twelfth, it's hard for the Fighters to stand out and feel at evens with the rest of the party. Wizards, Rogues, and Clerics dominate the game. At lower levels, like fourth, the characters have some nice trump cards, fighters are still decently worth playing, no ones earned all of their signiture abilities, and the Dice Roll isn't a god which you have to pray to for survival. For a more tactical game, I prefer 8th level as a nice startup. 8Th gives me as the DM the ability to play HARD on the players, and for them to make some nice countermoves. The game feels much more tactical and deep, and no spell is yet powerful enough to nullify a challenge, no skill quite high enough to ignore the dice entirely.

    If that makes sense. I keep getting this nagging impression that nothing I write today makes sense. DId someone here place Bestow Curse on me?!??!

    Huh? What was that? j/k

    I like playing from level 1. I can go up to level 3, but I don't really like starting any higher then that. I just prefer to play the characters from the beginning of their career. I like to see their story develope rather than having it all in place. It also gives e a better chance to learn how to use character types that I haven't tried before. I find it bring out my creativity in play more.
    As a DM I prefer starting characters at lower levels because it gives me a better chance to get to know my players and what they can handle.
    DMs don't cheat, they just change the rules.

    "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't" -Margaret Thatcher

    "Celebacy is no match for a natural 20!" -RandomNPC

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  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    The advantage with playing from level one is, to me, very important when playing with a group you don't know.

    Then you can control all magic items given, and see how the characters are developing from realitively easy to predict advantages and strategies to when things start to get complicated.

    Some groups just don't use the "win buttons" that "everyone" knows, while others rely on them. When you start at level one, it is easier to create encounters that will challenge the party later on, because you saw the characters develop.

    You may consider this "tailoring" D&D to the players, but I feel that "tailoring" is necessary, because if you don't, your average group will not have as much fun. It is my experience, from playing with different groups, that balanced parties are rare unless the group or DM requires it.
    Johannes factotum of the Bard Defense League

    "A witty saying proves nothing." -Voltaire

    "Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one."

    The main question that any DM should ask before making a house-rule or exception is, "Is it balanced?"

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Deepblue706's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I only start campaigns beyond level 1 if they specifically call for highly experienced PCs.

    I don't mind the lethality of low-level combat - in fact, I enjoy it. It's actually not exclusive to lower-levels in my games (though, I'm addressing that most recognize fights can easily go either way when you're playing a lowbie), as I always challenge my players.

    While players may want to continue to develop their characters, but are cut short by death and thusly bummed out, I think death is highly important to a game - primarily because I feel if nobody ever "loses", or at least run great risks of failure, they will not treasure their victories nearly as much as they should. I don't actively seek ways to make things gritty, but I don't save PCs because they're unlucky. Sometimes, I'll be merciful, if losses are significant enough already - but I have a strong belief in that while heroes are known for their success, they have little perspective until they experience failure or misfortune.

    D&D, to many people, may be a game about heroes saving the day - but for me, it's about the trials that seperate heroes from common people. It's usually not about being innately better than most people in the sense of having great attributes, possessing magical items, or learning flashy techniques - but forging oneself through willpower and determination, gaining wisdom, and enduring hardships that so many others find too daunting to undertake. Beginning at level 1 allows for players to begin their journeys from the start, and beginning as a higher level character gives players the opportunity to shine right away, instead of playing out the moments where they were inept and weak - and I will always determine the level of my games by what is most appropriate IC-wise, as foes to the PCs in my games always pose a very real threat. I think cinematics are fun, but making a game already based on the premise "The Heroes Win" any easier is against my principles.
    Last edited by Deepblue706; 2007-12-23 at 08:32 PM.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    The game is built to start from level 1 and always has been.

    Of course, I let players make up new characters to join in an established game with half the highest XP total, just like I let players whose established characters have died make new ones at half their XP.

    Aside from that, I like to start at level 1 with new groups because it has that "starting" vibe to it. 1st level is a beginning place. It's right for a first adventure for a bunch of new characters in a game.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Matthew's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I prefer to play a campaign from level 1, but I don't tend to play much beyond level 7 or so. A lot of this is about perception of the game world and conception of what 'level' really means in D20.
    It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after ones own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between.

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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Ralfarius's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I am a proponent of starting at level 1 for essentially all the reasons DeepBlue outlined. Sometimes, it really can be fun for someone to bite it. It can be funny and amusing ("Remember that time the orc critted you for 16 damage? That was classic!") or sad and poignant. It really puts the adventuring lifestyle into perspective if the "most upstarts don't live a month" adage applies to a member of an adventuring party, and gives a roleplaying opportunity that just doesn't come up that often.

    Level 1 is great, because when you're level 12 (or whatever arbitrary number), you can look back and see how far you've really come. Every drop of experience was earned with blood, sweat, and tears. Each magic item found can hold a special place in your memories. The notoriety of your characters can be well reflected by the list of things they've accomplished going from level 1 to what have you.

    Not to say I don't have an appreciation for higher level starts. Those can be excellent in their own right, especially when you can have your character's abilities reflect exactly what you envision from the get-go.
    "78% of DM's admit to having started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that hasn't yet, stop fibbing."
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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I personally prefer an at least level 2 start, preferably 3, so they still are weak, but the chances of being killed with one strike from the cat is lower.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I don't like starting at 1st level, because level 1 orcs can easily one-shot a player.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    MCerberus's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    In play by post you generally give a more complex personality and it just seems like the PC is more "yours" if you play it from first level(or first PC level for LAs). All of what he/she does is what you had he/she do and in a style befitting the character. There's something to be said for going through the puzzle and monster infested area coming up with tactics and playing it how the character would as opposed to saying "using their cunning and strength they...".
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lord_Kimboat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I'm for a level 1 start for many of the reasons already mentioned. Some of the problems I have starting at higher levels is 1) the PCs that I play with rarely think of good back stories - heck, I can almost never get them to read any of the setting and the better back stories are likely to be, "I went to wizard school and learned to blow things up. I then got kicked out when I blew up something valuable and decided that adventuring made the most money so I could make magic items and live well."

    2) PCs ask for LA characters. Which seems fine on the surface but I figured out after a while that after they've gotten the benefit out of their LA characters they then get bored and demand to change characters. Granted, this happens at 1st level as well. At levels 1 through 4 they go a fighter type and then at 5 or so they say, "I want to go something different, maybe a wizard."

    3) I've always felt that the story of the PCs is the point of playing. With the poor back stories I get, I feel that I'm missing out on the start of the story. That's why recently I've been trying to insist you play one character through from start to finish and if PCs die then I provide a quest to get them raised.

    4) The people I play with will also min/max outrageously with PCs that are gods in one area but useless in others. At level 1 this is minimized and they can see what gaps exist in the party so that they are filled.

    That's all I can think of for now. Best of the season everyone.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Nay. I generally don't even consider levels under 5 to be really playworthy. Likewise, after level 12 or so the LOL-Casters Effect starts rendering absolutely everything else pointless, so I usually don't see much point in continuing beyond that general area (not really a caster player).

    I just don't really see the appeal of low levels. I'm a mook in real life, and I generally play games to get away from reality for a while. I would like to be able to do something a little more satisfying that rescuing cats stuck in trees (and nearly dying from it) for the first several months of game sessions. And, as stated elsewhere, the high degree of completely random fatality before you even get to do anything fun is a big turnoff as well. That's why I quit playing Nethack. Yup, adventuring sure is a dangerous business in which many people fail almost right out of the gate...that's why there are stories of other people doing that.

    And I'm living proof that if a player really doesn't care to come up with a backstory, he's not going to do it (if that's a dealbreaker, then I guess it's a good thing we stay far from each other's games ). Luckily others I game with tend to realize that I just don't get anything out of that and that trying to squeeze anything of that nature out of me just isn't going to bear fruit.

    As to the argument about magic items having more nostalgia value, it always depends on the item itself. No matter the level, if I run across an item that isn't better than my current equivalent item or doesn't do something for me that isn't already covered elsewhere, and doesn't do anything similar for anyone else in the party it's not going to be a really treasured memory anyway, until I can get some gold for it. And if I can't sell it, why are you wasting my/our WBL with this useless item?

    That may seem a bit harsh, but repeatedly dying pointlessly for no good reason and being saddled with useless items I can't even redeem for money/useful stuff isn't why I play.
    All dice need rolly, even d12's. rolly = love

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Generally, I find the bodies hit the floor way too easily at level one. Level two or three allows for more survivability and a bit more flexibility in my opinion while keeping with the learning to work with less mentality and group dynamic.

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    philippos's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    The reason I enjoy starting at level one, both as a player and as DM are for the feeling of the character, and I dont find it to be that one dies easily, unless you attempt some truely "exciting heroics" as opposed to dealing with threats in a somewhat more moderate manner, and then learn to do that other stuff later. The threats can scale with the characters. That being said I also dont mind starting at higher levels if the goal/story/idea or whatever calls for strength that can't be had at lower levels and you dont want to waste time leveling up (a thing I dislike about some videogames) but if most of the world is low level people/creatures there is plenty of room for plot at that scale and seemingly less at higher levels where if its not save the X from the level Y threat then it might be too easy. But then my recent gaming has be politic centered and you can just plug whatever level strength into the villians/PCs without changing (too much) of the actuall story.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Yami's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Okay, I find the "dying repeatedly" arguement to be rather sub-par. I've found that at level one you live longer. In my groups at least, the only builds that tend to die early are the rouges who manage 7 hp at level 5. Monsters are easier, and you don't get into the crazy abilities just yet. Often.

    But then the higher level we get, the more often the other DM's I know throw heavy encounters about, and the more often those encounters have crippling effects or tactics.

    Low levels are the kind levels, at least in my group. Once you hit 6 though, the body count starts rising.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Troll in the Playground
     
    JadedDM's Avatar

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    But I notice those who claim to be veteran dm also to start at level one.
    The starting level of the game has nothing to do with the DM's or the players' experience with the game. I have been DMing for over 12 years, and every campaign I have ever run with only one exception has started at level 1. (The one exception started at level 4, and only because the previous campaign fell apart and I agreed to let the players roll their characters at the same level as their previous characters to soften the blow.)

    And like Matthew, I have never had a game that made it past level 7-8 at best.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Banned
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    I have made a solemn vow never to play at level 1 again. Level 2? Fine. Level 1? No.

    At level one, most characters can die in one hit, and your modifiers pale before the importance of your roll. You have almost twice as much Hp at level 2 as you do at level 1, you get skill synergies, you get more than, what, two or three spells...

    Level 1 sucks. In every way.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Starting at first level yay or nay

    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    The starting level of the game has nothing to do with the DM's or the players' experience with the game. I have been DMing for over 12 years, and every campaign I have ever run with only one exception has started at level 1. (The one exception started at level 4, and only because the previous campaign fell apart and I agreed to let the players roll their characters at the same level as their previous characters to soften the blow.)

    And like Matthew, I have never had a game that made it past level 7-8 at best.
    Congratulations. You are missing more then half of D&D. In fact, I find that half to be more fun. But I can have that opinion all I want because I have played all of D&D, unlike you.

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