D&D General How important is leveling to the play experience (lvls 2-8)?

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Sorry, a bit late to the thread. One of the things about leveling that's more visible from the DM side of the screen is that leveling is also a pacing mechanism. It gives capabilities that increase the scope of challenges the party can deal with, and in some ways also increases the geographic range they can easily/safely traverse.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Sorry, a bit late to the thread. One of the things about leveling that's more visible from the DM side of the screen is that leveling is also a pacing mechanism. It gives capabilities that increase the scope of challenges the party can deal with, and in some ways also increases the geographic range they can easily/safely traverse.
Agreed.

One thing to note, though, tangential to the quote above: with there now being 45+ years of assorted monster manuals and so forth out there plus a huge number of homebrew creatures; never mind books upon books of traps, puzzles, and other assorted challenges, all I can say is this:

Any DM who can't find something new to challenge their players/PCs at any level has no excuse.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Any DM who can't find something new to challenge their players/PCs at any level has no excuse.

I think it's still harder at any level. Yes, you can put more powerful monsters, but if they are not played credibly, the challenge would be lacking, and it's even harder to make a proper plot taking into account all the magical possibilities.

In addition to the life length of playing groups, I think it's also one of the reason for which people play mostly at lower levels.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
My games usually start at level 3 and end at level 9 or 10. I haven't tallied or awarded XPs since the middle of 2e. I tell the players when their characters level up. PCs level up after they accomplished a major goal, like finishing a long quest.

Does 8 levels of play (3-10) usually feel like enough to them?

How many sessions does it usually take to go up a level? (how long are your sessions?)

In my Faerun Adventures game I settled on typical experienced, competent NPCs being 3rd-4th level, but very few (NPC) people being able to reach 5th level, and 9th+ is extremely rare. This makes 3rd level magic rare, so eg military tactics rarely worry about massed Fireballs.

In my Primeval Thule setting, while spellcasters are rare, the default power level is much higher - as indicated by the Thule monster & NPC stat blocks, eg a Thulean manticore is CR 9, cyclops CR 10. Legionaries (good quality professional soldiers) are CR 2 with 52 hp; the elite Pride of Nergal soldiers have nearly 100 hp! High level PCs & NPCs are not uncommon, and I can cheerfully throw a ton of Kobold Press monsters at the badass heroes.
I've been trying to think of it in terms of where I'd picture an Apprentice / Journeyman / Master (or the equivalent).

For spell casters, is 1st level spells enough that they'd be out there on their own out from their masters wings?

For fighters, a common background was that they were a veteran somewhere else... and yet they start at 1st level?

I like trying to think of it like you say as what is viewed as competent, and what is viewed as higher level mastery. And so like in your two examples there, it feels like it comes down to how the world is pictured and could be centered anywhere as long as the challenges are appropriate.
 

Oofta

Legend
Does 8 levels of play (3-10) usually feel like enough to them?

How many sessions does it usually take to go up a level? (how long are your sessions?)


I've been trying to think of it in terms of where I'd picture an Apprentice / Journeyman / Master (or the equivalent).

For spell casters, is 1st level spells enough that they'd be out there on their own out from their masters wings?

For fighters, a common background was that they were a veteran somewhere else... and yet they start at 1st level?

I like trying to think of it like you say as what is viewed as competent, and what is viewed as higher level mastery. And so like in your two examples there, it feels like it comes down to how the world is pictured and could be centered anywhere as long as the challenges are appropriate.

Being a soldier doesn't necessarily make you stellar as a fighter, look at all those CR 1/8 guards. That, and soldier may well be a cook, quartermaster or officer. Depending on the army knowing how to fight in formation may not translate well to the small group dynamics you have with adventurer groups.

A fighter is assumed to know a lot of things like being effective while wearing armor and being proficient in just about any weapon. In addition I wouldn't expect too much simulationist reality from D&D on, well, anything.
 

S'mon

Legend
I've been trying to think of it in terms of where I'd picture an Apprentice / Journeyman / Master (or the equivalent).

For spell casters, is 1st level spells enough that they'd be out there on their own out from their masters wings?

For fighters, a common background was that they were a veteran somewhere else... and yet they start at 1st level?

I like trying to think of it like you say as what is viewed as competent, and what is viewed as higher level mastery. And so like in your two examples there, it feels like it comes down to how the world is pictured and could be centered anywhere as long as the challenges are appropriate.

Yes, I agree. You can create a variety of different sub-genres by tone depending on how you set the various dials, and default NPC level/competency is definitely one of them, along with eg frequency of spellcasters, ease of magic creation, monster palette & frequency etc. For a typical game I tend to go with 1st level is novice/apprentice, trained N/PCs at 2nd, experienced/competent N/PCs at 3rd/4th level or equivalent, 5th-8th for elites and 9th+ is heroic. 1st level 5e PCs definitely don't feel like veterans to me - and the NPC default stat blocks for 1st level casters tend to be called stuff like 'acolyte' and 'apprentice'.

Re variable power level, in my 5e Thule game last week the level 17 PCs fought and dispelled the minor Great Old One Shar-Ngolyeth, who some Deep Ones had been trying to free from his pit of doom. For stats I adapted Kobold Press's demon lord Qorgeth - who in my Faerun Adventures game is presented as a nigh-apocalyptic threat. Challenge 24 in both cases, but that has different implications in the different settings.
 

S'mon

Legend
Being a soldier doesn't necessarily make you stellar as a fighter, look at all those CR 1/8 guards. That, and soldier may well be a cook, quartermaster or officer. Depending on the army knowing how to fight in formation may not translate well to the small group dynamics you have with adventurer groups.

A fighter is assumed to know a lot of things like being effective while wearing armor and being proficient in just about any weapon. In addition I wouldn't expect too much simulationist reality from D&D on, well, anything.

I'm not that keen on default human (etc) NPCs being weaker than kobolds or goblins, so for an experienced soldier I'll use something better than the CR 1/8 MM Guard, but rarely as good as the CR 3 MM Veteran (with an XPV of 28 Guards!). Guard works well when the PCs are raising and training novice soldiers from their demesnes, but for professionals I typically use something in the 16-22 hp range, probably CR 1/2 like the MM Scout. Crack troops I often use something like the 32 hp MM Thug, with better gear so CR 1.
 

For 3e, i guess we played it all wrong:

I think originally, AC of monsters was not intended to scale as much as it effectively did. So I'd wager that originally the intend was that fighers do hit with their third and 4th attack and that above level hitting their first attack was more or less given.

So a fighter leveling up beyond level 6 was actually useful. Same for skills by the way.

But that was not how it was played, we all scaled AC so that fighters did not auto hit, the monk fell terribly behind and skills were either skilled fully or not at all.
I guess we as players were not comfortable with auto hits (although fighters in ADnD already did...)

3.5 came and splat books and somehow it was more or less codified that and it peaked in 4e when everything scaled the same.

Long story short: leveling is important, if you don't scale opponents AC with levels, otherwise the fighter will never feel more powerful and if you scale skill DCs too, the rogue will never feel better at a given task.
 

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