Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Game Starts At Level Three...

Don't Touch Anything Kiddies - We Will Hold Your Hands Until Level 3
The Rest of You Can Cut the Line and Skip the First 2 Levels
One of Rodney Thompson's comments from the last Rules of Three that I covered (not the last Rules Of Three that was published, as I am apparently a bit out of order) has been bouncing around in my head the last few days, and not because I like it:
we're looking at having the classes gradually layer in more capabilities over the first two or three levels, rather than providing a large number of class features at level 1, so that players new to the class have a short period of time to learn the basics of their class through play.  Experienced players could simply start at 3rd level if they want to leap right into a more advanced starting experience.
Now, excuse my vulgarities, but why the fuck would I want to shorten my long term campaign experience by wiping the first 2 levels of play off my plate before the game even starts?  Does WotC think most of their players in 5e are going to be new players to the hobby, let alone D&D?

If 4e was WotC attempt to make a table top RPG play more like a MMORPG, is D&D 5e going to be like children's sports these days, where it gets dumbed down to the lowest common denominator and everyone gets a trophy?

Are levels 1 and 2 now the same as Zero Level Characters?

That's an idea.  That concept of "Zero Level" PCs that was thrown around in a different question, why don't you use THAT to introduce new players.  Include a hand holding "Mini-Campaign" that takes them from Level 0-B to 0-A to level 1.  Bingo!  Newbies get the hand holding they need and some extra in game play so that when they hit level 1, they are on the same level playing field as everyone else.

Look at that... a solution to the "skip these levels if they are too simple for you" concept.


  1. Apropos of nothing, this idea reminds me of the first few years of my teaching contract. When I started, you had no years of teaching experience, so the district started you on step 0 of the pay scale. For the first two years of my contract, I moved up a step, gaining 1 year of teaching experience. The district simultaneously stripped the "level" I had just left off the chart. New teachers started at step 1 and then step 2. In my third year, they re-labeled the whole chart, so I was back on step 1...

    Did those new teachers actually have the same level of experience that I had when they started at step 1 and I was on the same step in my third year?

    Sorry, there just seemed to be a real-world parallel here. :)

    Happy Sunday!!

  2. I have been starting player characters at the 3rd level for a while now. There is a simple reason for this: 1st level characters are newbies - wizard's apprentices, eager farm boys and initiates in clerical orders - while 3rd level characters are well-rounded, reasonably sturdy individuals. These guys and gals can take a few wounds and keep going, although they are still vulnerable, and have to play smart. That, I think, is a good baseline for an adventurer.

    So all in all, I think this is a good idea on part of the game designers.

  3. Its an OK idea but based on a flawed assumption, that modern gamers find games too complex.

    I have a group of mostly newbies who started with video games mostly.

    While my group is slightly different than my usual California groups (a bit Whiter and mostly LDS) I don't think they are that different than any gamers. They remind me of my old friends back in the late 80's early 90's in fact ...

    Believe me if they can handle the complexity of say Skyrim or Oblivion chargen and play they can easily handle D&D. Heck their starting game was GURPS a system I find excessively complex for my tastes!

    They are also crazy genre savvy and as such I don't think they would have any issues with any facet of any decently well written game.

  4. Calculus used to be a college course, now high school kids are taking Calc II and Diff.eq. before they graduate.

    I suspect kids today can handle having 3 powers instead of 1 when a D&D fight breaks out...

  5. I agree, there's nothing wrong with starting above first level. There are even good reasons to design the game to do that.

    "Provide training wheels for newbies" (lower levels where only they play) should not be one of them.

  6. There's nothing wrong with starting at level 3 if that's how your campaign is set up, but to talk of the "need" to redesign the game along these lines suggests to me that a whole lot of people are simply too lazy to use their imagination when playing levels 1 & 2.

  7. Since when were level 1 & 2 easy? This is an exceedingly polite way to say, "skip that hard early start, we know you love Monty Haul".

  8. I agree with Derrick - starting at level 3 used to be the 'training wheels' for newbies. Levels 1 and 2 are HARD.

  9. Remember that whatever you peg first level at you can't easily claw back to a lower starting position (without house rules), but you can pretty easily advance your starting position upward. Level 1 is going to be your lowest level of granularity. You remember there was a thing where there was a lot of level 0 hacking going on when it was fashionable to have a funnel approach to character creation so think of this as building that capability into the game. People were saying that level 1 in 4e was like level 5 in Ad&D and some wanted to get back those 'low' levels. Heck I even saw this in my Beacon d20 game where my level 1 seemed too powerful a starting position (was close to level 3 in my mind when compared to the monsters) and I decided that I needed to lower the bar a bit.

    You can always start higher.


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