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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Level Do You Start Your OSR Campaigns At?

Maybe This Should Be the Opening Scene of the New Campaign ;)

This is a tough one for me. Generally speaking, as a DM I prefer to start my campaigns at level 1. It always seems more authentic to me that way. However, my new AD&D 1e campaign, is to some extent, a reboot of my ACKS campaign, as we've lost and gained players in the group since the start of that. PC levels there are around 4 / 5.

I'm thinking of starting the new AD&D 1e campaign at level 2. PCs are less squishy than level 1, but no one has level 2 spells yet. I want them to have some of the feeling of accomplishment for leveling in the ACKS game while still starting the new game at a lower level. Imperfect solution, but most solutions are imperfect.

I'm also thinking of passing on one magic item to each player from the previous campaign. Different world, different setting, but something passed down from distant ancestor who may or may not have crossed over to a different world.

What level do your start your campaigns? Does it make a difference if you are ending one ongoing campaign to start a new one? Does your preference change if you are a player and not the DM?


  1. 1st level. It creates a sense of achievement when they level up and a sense of dread when they die.

  2. Also, I might add that when a character between levels 1-3 die, the new character starts with 1/2 the exp that the dying character had. Any dying character 4 and above starts the new character two levels lower.

  3. It varies. I have two games I started recently. One I started them at Level 6, the other I started them at Level 3. I don't have any qualms about starting at Level 1 though. That said, the next AD&D game I run, I want to start with Tsojcanth as I never got to run it or play it back in the day. Since it could take years to get a party of high enough level to do that, I will be starting them at like 8th or 9th.

  4. I start at an XP number not a level to make it easier for multi class and fast track XP classes.

    My last one started at enough XP for a Magic User to be 3rd level. This makes the Thief 4th level (adding some survivability to the thief with an extra hit dice).

    One of the problems I have found with starting at 1st level is it makes multiclass charachters more attractive as they have no downside to a single class charachter yet(and why plan for a future as you will probably die anyway). When you start with a XP number the straight Magic User has an imediete advantage over the Magic User/Fighter/Thief

  5. I think I'm going to take the highest expo total of a single PC from the ACKS campaign, halve it, and let the players start with those points

  6. Level one.

    It's one more than zero, see.

  7. I tend to make strange worlds. Starting everyone at 1st level means they get to slowly understand the world, rather than having to deal with a giant block of exposition before we start.

  8. I alloted some XP for them to start...5,000 XP in the latest outing, which can be enough to have a level 3 character in most cases or a multiclass mixed. This had to do with the timing of the game, which has been meeting monthly right now, making progression almost nonexistent. In the past I favored enough XP to start everyone at level 2, unless we were focusing on a campaign with freshly minted junior delvers, in which case level 1 was optimal. I never DMed with zero level rules, but experienced it as a player once and found it a terrible experience (though probably due to the DM at the time).

  9. 1st. Those adventures seem the most fun. There are a few times when we may start at a higher level, but I can only think of a few times and they were very short run campaigns.

  10. 1st level, but I have been thinking about starting at level 3 since it was a Gygax House Rule and I got some players who are not up for dying so early on in the game.

  11. It really depends on which system. I really like level 1 and level 0, but the last campaign I ran, my players wanted a "veterans" campaign and demanded my dungeons be "stacked floor to ceiling with monsters", so I had them start at level 4. In 3rd ed, the leap in abilities from 4th to 5th level are huge, so the jump to level 5 after a few sessions as the first level up felt super rewarding.

  12. I have one player who whined a lot about starting at first and gave reasonable reasons for wanting to start higher, so I let her start at 2nd level, with 0 XP. The other players started at first. All start with max HP. I'm trying out Digital Orc's gonzo rules as a way of giving characters a way to do something awesome at low level, at the risk of debilitating themselves in the process. As a player, I like the fistfuls of 0 level characters a la DCC.

  13. To me, the first three levels are your character's backstory, created at the table instead of by making it up. So, a new character is always first level (or zero level if I'm planning to use the "working your way up to first level" rules, though I do not frequently use those).

  14. Level 1, but I use a house rule where characters don't die at zero hit points, but instead take damage to constitution (essentially the VP/WP rules from Star Wars/Spycraft), which basically gives everyone 10-18 extra hit points.



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