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D&D 5E Levels 1-4 are "Training Wheels?"

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Last night a player commented: "Levels 1-4 are just training wheels. The game doesn't even start until 5th level. Unless you're playing D&D for the first time, you should just start at 5th level."
Techinically it's true.

The game is called Dungeons and Dragons.

You have no chance to escape a young dragon encounter until at least level 5.
Until you can deal with a real dragon, you aren't really playing the game.
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
You have no chance to escape a young dragon encounter until at least level 5.
Until you can deal with a real dragon, you aren't really playing the game.

And why does the dragon need to be adult ? The Sunless Citadel has a nice dragon encounter and it is level 1-3. And I'm sure that there are many more examples of the kind.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
She has mentioned that she's never gotten to do high level. Her previous DM was running Curse of Strahd, and that campaign ended with Strahd's death ("just when it was getting good," as she said.) I guess that's around 10th level?
IIRC we were around 10th level when we finished CoS as well.

I've never been able to DM a "real campaign" with her - just sample test adventures to try out various systems. (Because of this phenomenon Switching Around Systems Due to Burnout?).
Burnout is a different issue, unfortunately. We I get burned out, I play SW or Shadowrun or Vampire for a bit, then return to whatever edition o f D&D I am in.

From the sounds of it, I agree with others that 4E might be good for her, better than 5E anyway. I never played 4E and when I looked at it, it didn't seem like it would appeal to me, but I know many others really like it.

I guess my perspective is that levels 1-2 are too underpowered in 5e. By the time you get much beyond 5th level, you're unstoppable. For me there's a two level "sweet spot" in 5e where the game actually works the way I like, which is levels 3-5.
For you, it sounds like E6 or similar might be more to your tastes.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
And why does the dragon need to be adult ? The Sunless Citadel has a nice dragon encounter and it is level 1-3. And I'm sure that there are many more examples of the kind.
I was thinking young dragons. Young Dragons are powerful enough to have henchmen, complex conversation, interesting fights, and decent hoards. But weak enough to attract local heroes to deal with.

Wyrmlings are talking scaly ponies with a spit trick. They are not a real dragon encounter.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I really dislike that. Dragons shouldn't be trivialised. They should remain as fearsome high level end bosses.
It's really a matter of taste, but the whole section of adventure with the beloved Meepo and the small dragon is well done, and I've used that module successfully with many beginner groups in 3e, they loved it. It's a wyrmling, but quite dangerous.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I was thinking young dragons. Young Dragons are powerful enough to have henchmen, complex conversation, interesting fights, and decent hoards. But weak enough to attract local heroes to deal with.

Again, pure matter of taste.

Wyrmlings are talking scaly ponies with a spit trick. They are not a real dragon encounter.

It's still officially a dragon, and a well done encounter. :p
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I really dislike that. Dragons shouldn't be trivialised. They should remain as fearsome high level end bosses.

I agree some what. Adult dragons should be end bosses. But many random "dungeons" should be run and inhibited by young dragons who are building themselves up.
It's still officially a dragon, and a well done encounter.
It's not a dragon encounter. It's an encounter with a dragon in it.
Because 3rd level PCs cannot handle a dragon encounter.
 



Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I'm always reminded of Xcrawl, where levels 1-4 are considered the 'boffer leagues'. For those not familiar, Xcrawl is basically televised dungeon crawling. It uses a variant Earth where the primary entertainment is Xcrawls, televised dungeoncrawling/professional wrestling type antics.

At levels 1-4, the dungeons are the 'boffer leagues' - like you're using LARP weapons and fighting guys wearing tshirts that say 'Orc' on them, and the end boss might be a retired medusa or something.
 


I would disagree that levels 1-4 are training wheels.

You need more skill as a player to survive playing a level 1 character than you would as a level 5. You have less hit points, less abilities, less resources to overcome challenges at lower levels than you do at higher levels.

Some people want to start out strong and get into the high fantasy action, others want to be challenged with greater chances of death and greater difficulty.

The beauty of having low levels being weak is that each group can dial in their own challenge level. If you want less challenge and more capable characters, start at higher levels. If you want more challenge start at lower levels.

This was always my problem with games like 4E, where it made even 1st level characters overly powerful. It removes a style of play that some people may enjoy.
 



I agree with your player -- Tier 1 is training wheels. When I'm concepting a campaign I think of Tier 1 as the origin story that explains how the characters became the heroes they are. It's like kicking off a Marvel franchise.

The players in my main campaign have said they like starting at level 1 because they enjoy zero to hero progression.

It's okay to start at whatever level feels right for your group.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
From a story perspective: Absolutely not. You can start building great stories in the first few seconds of a game at level 1.

From a rules perspective, we build up our understanding of our PC capabilities over time, and starting out simple allows us to get progressively more complex. So, from that perspective, sure - you're running a simpler set of attributes so that you can develop more skill as you add more abilities.

And for those that are going to turn this into that are old "high level sucks" argument: High level requires you to evolve your game, as a DM, to fit the new abilities of the PC. You can't run a murder mystery or give them a travel storyline. You have to prepare challenges that make sense given their power levels. A lot of people can run really fun high level games. The lack of training on how to do it is one of the biggest gaps in D&D right now.
 

Adamant

Explorer
I find levels 1-2 very boring for most classes, with the exceptions being fighters at 2 and classes that get their subclass at 1-2 once they get it. I feel like they were intended to teach you the basics of the class without any extras to distract you, which is totally fine as long as I'm not stuck there for long.

My personal opinion is that levels 1-2 are the training wheels, and levels 3-4 are more like a slow, easy ride without the training wheels. Once you hit 5 it's like you suddenly get to choose an adult bike in any style you want. The choices really open up then, and even further when you get your next ASI at 6 or 8. I feel like mid-high tier 2 is the sweet spot, although tier 3 is also quite fun. I've only played a single game at tier 4, but what I've heard about balancing for T4 is that it's very easy to make the encounters way too easy or way too hard(My game was on the easy side, even after the DM beefed up the final encounter with a brass greatwyrm in place of the ancient brass dragon).

TLDR: I don't think that levels 3-4 are training levels, but I do feel like you have very limited customization options mechanically until you hit level 4 for an ASI, and I have the most fun after my second ASI.
 

Big problem of early levels is that monsters are pretty boring.

Also good adventure sites for lower levels are pretty rare really. Most of the best ones are for higher levels.

Edit:
By higher levels I mean 3+

Once you're past the giant rats and goblins stage.
 
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