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Friday, October 12, 2012

Starting level

I've pretty much always started every game at level 1. Not really sure why, but it's what I've always done. In one way, I like this because it allows players to grow into their characters. When just starting out, there's only a few things to keep track of, and the player is well aware that he is no superhero, so he is careful and doesn't usually just charge into a fight (I've definitely had exceptions to this, though).

I'm not sure this is a great idea, especially if the players are all experienced. Allowing them to start at level 3 or even level 5 really wouldn't overbalance anything, and would give them a solid starting point, where they don't have to run in fear if they encounter a small group of orcs.

The big hold-up for this is determining what, if any, magic items the characters possess at the start of the game. The old Companion set had some decent rules for starting at high level, but that's pretty much the only rules version that addressed this, if I recall correctly.


Lead Legion said...

The problem with starting them at a higher level is that they miss out on the most satisfying (for me) part of the game: surviving past level 1. It also means they reach the "sweet spot" around levels 4-7 much faster (and leave it sooner). Plus there's all that great character development that occurs through overcoming challenges and losing friends as a beginning adventurer.

I more or less always start em at level 1, unless we're playing a one-off published module.

Dan said...

Yeah, that's generally how I've done it. Kind of why I'd like to run a game starting at high level, just to see how it goes.

Anonymous said...

The 3LBB and also 1E AD&D DMG give a percentage chance per level for certain types of magic item by class. Here's my take on it:

Player picks 5 magic item types he wants to try for. This can be as specific as "misc weapon" or "armor" or "misc magic" but not as specific as "ring" or "mace".

The chance of having an item is 1 in 10 per level. Just roll 5d10 so they land left-to-right and you've got it.

If your level is over 10, pick 5 more things, OR you can upgrade instead of getting new for any of these choices.


Jimmy the Liar is 13th level. He wants Armor, Shield, Sword, R/S/W, R/S/W. Since he's 13th, he has a 13 in 10 chance, so he succeeds on all 5.

The DM rolls and he ends up with Ringmail +2, Shield +1, Shortsword +2 of Quickness, Wand of Magic Missiles, Wand of Lightning.

Jimmy decides he wants to go for a better suit of Armor and 4 new Misc Magic. He has a 3 in 10 chance now. Let's say he gets his new Armor and 1 Misc Magic.

The DM rolls for the Armor, and if it's worse than his Ringmail +2 he rolls again. He also rolls for the one Misc Magic that succeeded, and ends up with a Crystal Ball.

The "better or worse" should in general be obvious, but you can just let the player decide which one he would rather have of the two.

Jimmy could NOT have chosen to make 5 rolls of 3 in 10 for upgrading his Armor. He COULD have chosen one Armor upgrade and 4 new Armors (the latter which might all suck terribly).

It's also possible with this system to get a REALLY NICE magic item at low level. That's not really a problem. Remember if you're Level 3 you have a 3 in 10 chance for 5 items, and when you roll on the item tables they're weighted toward cheap stuff.

I'd suggest rerolling cursed items. Life is tough enough.