D&D (2024) Level Zero

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
As mentioned earlier, that startup mechanics feels too minimizing.
Well, the thing is, your approach is (more or less) "get 5 incremental advances immediately, and 5 more at the end of the first session."

Whereas trying to work backwards from your approach to my (proposed, untested, spit-ball-idea) approach is...well, impossible. There are no other incremental states, just "half a 1st level character" and "all of a 1st level character."
 

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Yaarel

He Mage
Well, the thing is, your approach is (more or less) "get 5 incremental advances immediately, and 5 more at the end of the first session."

Whereas trying to work backwards from your approach to my (proposed, untested, spit-ball-idea) approach is...well, impossible. There are no other incremental states, just "half a 1st level character" and "all of a 1st level character."
Well, yeah.

The point of the original post is, the level 0 already exists, and works well.

I understand these are sudden jumps in power, once when generating the level 0 character, and once again when leveling up. But this is the way 5e is. For most people that need a level 0, this works well. For me, I expect this level 0 to typically comprise one gaming session with one main challenge (whether social, exploration, or minor combat), unless players get into something interesting on their own.




That said. A more incremental approach is possible. All of the background features can organize into feats. Then characters gain a feat after each session, until they fill out all of the background, and afterward level up to level 1.

It is slightly confusing to refer to "feats", since a level 0 "feat" is equivalent to half of a level 4 "feat". For clarity, the feats here are level 0 feats, and not level 4.



Level 0 Base
• Species Traits
• Speed: 30
• Age: typically 16−19 years old
• Languages: Common and two languages of your choice that you and your DM agree on
• Standard Array
• Hit Points: 5 + Constitution
• AC: 10 + Dexterity

Level 0 Feats
After overcoming a main challenge, choose one of the following level 0 feats. After completing all five feats, overcoming your next challenge gains level 1 in a class of your choice.

Feat: score +1. Repeatable: you can choose this feat three times, but only upto twice for a same score.

Feat: two skills, one tool

Feat: Background Feat



With the above in mind, level 0 might stretch out incrementally for about six sessions before finally leveling up to level 1.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
Notes about level 0

The Proficiency Bonus for level 0 is: +1


How magic works at level 0 requires clarification.

Slot 0 spells, namely cantrips, are available at level 0.

Slot 1 spells are possible, since this is what level 0 casters are trying to learn how to do. Because level 0 characters appear to lack spell slots, perhaps all slot 1 spells are 1 minute rituals. Except, a feat can grant a slot 1 spell without a slot, after each long rest.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Judging by the recent nomenclature for "Background Feat", it seems in 2024, level zero is now called "Background".

The Background is a substantial amount of design space, and makes a satisfying character for simpler Background concepts that roughly correspond to high school age, about 16 onward.

Background is excellent. I am very happy with it.


At the same time, in addition to the Background, it might be useful to have a level zero for each class.

Generally, each level in a class is worth about a level 4 feat. (There is some variation, when an extra powerful feature at one level "borrows" design space from an other level, leaving a less powerful feature or even a ribbon at that other level. On average, each level is a feat.)

Except, the level 1 of a class is highly frontloaded. Level 1 comprises about three feats of design space, depending on the class.

It is possible to neatly divide the level 1 of every class, into a level zero and a level 1. The level 0 mainly handles skill proficiencies, plus simple weapons, one martial weapon, light armor training, ritual performance, a cantrip, a slot 1 spell, or other rudiment of a class.


There are several benefits for organizing the current level 1, into levels 0 and 1.

The zero to hero storytelling can start a character with a montage of memorable experiences during ages 16 until 20 when becoming level 1. There is a gradual increase in class competency, until a fully competent level 1 character.

For character customization, it is possible for a character to take level 0 of one class but switch to a different class for level 1. Thus some Fighters might have a cantrip, some Wizards might have a martial weapon in place of one cantrip.

Also, this level 0, can be useful for D&D Multiclassing. While most players normally start at level 1, it can be a multicalss requires taking the level 0 of a class before taking the level 1 of the class. This helps the character ease narratively and mechanically into the new class. 2014 Multiclass has a different, sudden and incomplete, version of level 1 for each class if a Multiclass. Instead, if taking the level 0 separately, the acquisition of the additional class can be gradual, complete, and may make Multiclass character balance more robustly with other characters of the same total character level.
 
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