D&D 5E Poll: What is a Level 1 PC?

What is a Level 1 PC?

  • Average Joe

    Votes: 21 6.1%
  • Average Joe... with potential

    Votes: 119 34.5%
  • Special but not quite a Hero

    Votes: 175 50.7%
  • Already a Hero and extraordinary

    Votes: 30 8.7%

FireLance

Legend
Well, the probability that you'll roll a 10 or 11 on 3d6 is 54/216 (1/4). The probability that you'll do that 6 times in a row is (1/4)^6. That's pretty low.
Yes, and the probability that you will roll 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 in that order is (15/216)*(25/216)*(27/216)*(27/216)*(25/216)*(15/216), which is even lower. What offsets that is the 720 ways to roll up those exact same 6 numbers, which would result in a stat array of (7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14).
 

log in or register to remove this ad

S'mon

Legend
I guess my preference for the game would be that default starter PC power level resembles that of starting heroes in heroic fiction; Luke just off the farm in Star Wars fits fine; so does Bilbo Baggins, but so do many more experienced characters. I think this maximises accessibility for new players.

The 4e approach is ok, a typical 1st level 4e PC is about as tough* as a Human Town Guard (level 3 soldier), a bit tougher than a Common Human Bandit (level 2 skirmisher), and can be skinned as either a veteran or as a very talented novice. If anything I'd prefer that 1st level 4e PCs were a bit less squishy, though making monsters squishier by halving their hp helps a lot.
I then prefer relatively slow advancement; 4e's x2 power per 4 levels fits better than 3e's x2 power per 2 levels; IME 9th level 4e PCs do feel like 5th level 3e PCs.

*Solo. Synergy effects from a 5-PC 1st level group mean they can usually beat 5 3rd level standard monsters, though it's close.
 

green slime

First Post
That presumes that the DM is on the ball and realizes what's going on. Not always true with new and newer DM's. (And a rather discouraging number of experienced DM's as well.)

----------

I'm curious though. What exactly does it mean for someone to be a third level commoner farmer? How did he gain those levels, for one thing, and for the other, what does it mean? Hours of backbreaking labour under the hot sun with a complete lack of medical facilities and I get tougher and stronger? Hoeing potatoes means I can swing a sword better? A better climber?

Very, very few of the elements of level actually apply to regular people in any meaningful fashion. As a "world building" mechanic, levels leave a lot to be desired.

Well, obviously those long hours of potatoe hoeing means he has the special hoe whirlwind attack, and furthermore can cleave. While wielding a hoe, he has reach, of course. Obviously, while plunging through the thick potatoe jungle-vines, he has had to do a spot of climbing, to escape the dreaded potatoe weevil. And next level, he becomes more intelligent, allowing him to improve his Knowledge (potatoes) skill. Perhaps by the time he reaches 5th level, he may have a skill point over to put in Appraisal, to improve his ability to haggle the price.
 

El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch

This poll and thread has been good for one specific thing, a good conversation starter. So in that aspect it's been very effective. This has been a very good discourse (minus the few that can't seem to keep their emotions in check), and I'm sure WotC could glean some useful insight from it. So I commend you for starting a very useful thread (though I can't XP you for it until I spread some more around...:().

However, to adapt a famous quote to the situation: I do not think the data means what you think it means...:)
 
Last edited:

Ahnehnois

First Post
I'm curious though. What exactly does it mean for someone to be a third level commoner farmer? How did he gain those levels, for one thing, and for the other, what does it mean? Hours of backbreaking labour under the hot sun with a complete lack of medical facilities and I get tougher and stronger? Hoeing potatoes means I can swing a sword better? A better climber?
What does it mean to be a third level wizard adventurer? How did he gain those levels, and what does it mean? A few minutes (on aggregate) of chucking magic missiles at goblins and suddenly he can make things invisible? Killing an ogre gains you ranks in Knowledge (Arcana)? Clearing out a dungeon teaches you how to craft wondrous items?

You appear to be deconstructing the whole notion of levels and experience, which isn't wrong, but is just as applicable to player characters as it is to the world at large.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
It's much more difficult to make the game less lethal.
(picking out one line from a post many pages ago)

No, this is not true at all. It's always more difficult and less tolerated socially for the DM to take an easy game and try to twist the screws than to take a hard game and make it easier. When a game is difficult/high stakes it should have the most rules support and the least necessity for DM judgement/house ruling. Do you agree with that? If so, then hard mode should have the most robust rules support and easy mode should be accomplished by tinkering, not the other way around.
 

What does it mean to be a third level wizard adventurer? How did he gain those levels, and what does it mean? A few minutes (on aggregate) of chucking magic missiles at goblins and suddenly he can make things invisible? Killing an ogre gains you ranks in Knowledge (Arcana)? Clearing out a dungeon teaches you how to craft wondrous items?

You appear to be deconstructing the whole notion of levels and experience, which isn't wrong, but is just as applicable to player characters as it is to the world at large.

Actually, that isn't true. If combat advancement guaranteed that you (somehow?) automatically gained some specialized skill-set (such as potato farming) that is not something that is fundamentally correlated to your everyday experience/behavioral/formal training regimen, then your point would translate. As it stands though, every adventurer does not possess the exact same understanding/formal training (and corresponding advancement with their trade where they possess formal training and everyday experience) of a narrow trade, such as a potato farmer (or any other specific expertise in a non-combat trade/art).

Currently, the opposite stands. Every non-combatant (whether you are a desk clerk, a merchant, a farmer, a cobbler, a cart-wright, or a painter) symmetrically assimilates a martial combat acumen. Therefore, it logically follows that the process of NPC construction pressupposes some training regime/experience is fundamentall correlated (somehow) to those NPC's' everyday lives. You cannot become a desk clerk. You're a butt-kicking desk clerk with plot protection HPs, BAB advancement and a weapon proficiency. That's fine if every setting everywhere is Israel (where pretty much all citizens are conscripted into a rotational national guard) but does every town/city in every implied setting have this? Wouldn't allow for much creativity/variance (and would be more than a little odd to possess that level of symmetry).
 

hamstertamer

First Post
WAID (of the Woods) TAGGART

Waid stands nearly 6 and half tall and has a long slow drawl to his voice. After he had an unfair fee imposed on him by his local lord, he refused to pay and he was chased into the woods were he is to this day. There he hunts and fishes by spear for his survival waiting on the day he can return to his family.

4th level Commoner, Human Age 29
Str 15, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 11

Hp: 14
AC: 10
Skills: Climb +2, PS: Laborer +2, Listen +5, Swim +2, Jump +2, Handle Animal +2
Attack: +5 w/ Spear 1d8 +2
Fort: +2 Reflex: +1 Will: +1
Feats: Skill Focus: Listen, Weapon Focus: Spear, Endurance
Now the character above could have been created in many different ways. I could have gave him 1 level expert with tracking feat perhaps or maybe a level of warrior. I didn't think it necessary, he's just a tough but simple guy surviving in the woods the best he can. I don't see him as an expert hunter or warrior. Though due to his strength and time in the woods he can be formidable with his spear.

Now normally commoners shouldn't be above 1st- 2nd level, but in Waid's case I thought he should. It all depends on the NPC. Waid is no ordinary commoner and could pose a threat or be a helpful companion for a low level party.
 
Last edited:

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Hussar said:
KM - my problem isn't that the peasant gained levels by killing goblins, my problem is that he gained levels at all. Why? Why is he gaining levels. If he's killed enough goblins to gain 3 levels, he's been in literally dozens of life threatening fights. Why isn't he dead? It's ridiculous. If your farmers are fighting off the goblins time and again, why do they need the PC's?

Mostly, he's not dead because he's lucky. Partially, he's not dead because goblins really aren't that menacing.

Don't get me wrong, a goblin with a short sword can kill your 2 hp commoner in one hit fairly often -- if they hit. And the goblin probably has the edge in the fight, so the farmer has reason to be afraid. But when your family is at risk from some four-foot tall psychopath with a short sword, you heft your rusty choppin' axe and go to work.

And thus your level 4 commoner got lucky. He rolled initiative high enough. He rolled attack rolls high enough. He knew the terrain. He used the environment. He exploited the goblin's weak will. He got a posse.

In a world of adventure, anyone might have to fight off a goblin (or, occasionally, worse). There's dangerous creatures around every corner. You sleep with your rusty choppin' axe under your pillow, and your family close. You know that the wolf lurking in the woods just beyond your fence wouldn't hesitate to devour your family.

That's part of why adventurers would be common in such a world. While the town guard might be able to repel goblins and kobolds and wolves, they don't do so easily, and they don't do so perfectly, and there are PLENTY of things more dangerous than that in the world.

In a goblin vs. dirt-farmer fight, a lucky dirt-farmer might come up victorious. If she does that often enough, she gains levels, because having potentially deadly experiences is what improves her skills. She doesn't want them, necessarily, but if she's 4th level, she's certainly seen them.

Again, that's just a way 3e remains internally consistent. It's not for everyone, and even if you wanted it, you wouldn't need it to be NPC classes necessarily. But I am fond of the world it creates.
 

Mattachine

Adventurer
Of course, Waid could be statted up many, many ways. For instance, in AD&D, simply assign hit dice, hit points, and stats as you see fit, and the skills are simply described. In 4e, he could be statted as a full NPC, or as a "monster". Only in 3e do the rules give a detailed treatment to statting out the NPC like that.

When I ran 3e, I foolishly began using the RAW for every little situation. I spent loads of time making sure the stats on NPCs and monsters were "correct". Of course, it usually didn't matter. What really counted were the numbers and stats that showed up in the respective encounter.

It didn't usually matter that the hobgoblin chief had Profession: Blacksmith if he was simply part of a combat encounter. Likewise, it didn't matter that the town blacksmith had 23 hit points and an attack bonus of +3.

Over the years, I gave up worrying about such levels of detail. Once I began writing up monsters and NPCs only for the situations they would appear in, everything became much easier. Realizing that the CR/Monster Advancement rules were simply ballpark numbers, I created new monsters as "build-to-suit", and pegged CR to existing monsters. I spent time detailing what NPCs would know, or might say, rather than worrying about class, level, or skill ranks. Of course, this is what I used to do back in AD&D, and what I would do in games that use the Storyteller system.

To me, it isn't verisimilitude for NPCs, monstes, and PCs to all use the same system as PCs. All such systems are just game rules, after all.


So, what about first-level characters? I want a system to be a little flexible--provide a simple way for characters, AT LEVEL ONE, to have a range of power levels. Give a default, and then, in a rules sidebar, provide some options. For instance:

SIDEBAR: More or Less Heroic PCs
1. For PCs that are more like common folk, strictly enforce 3d6 for ability scores (or use a lower-point array), only give 1/4 the starting wealth, and give no bonus for Con to starting hit points.

2. For PCs that are already heroes, allow rolling 5d6 (best three) for ability scores (or use a higher-point array), give each character a bonus feat, and give bonus hit points equal to Con score, rather than only Con bonus.
 

hamstertamer

First Post
Of course, Waid could be statted up many, many ways. For instance, in AD&D, simply assign hit dice, hit points, and stats as you see fit, and the skills are simply described. In 4e, he could be statted as a full NPC, or as a "monster". Only in 3e do the rules give a detailed treatment to statting out the NPC like that.

I guess I really appreciate having those tools and it's one of the best parts of 3rd edition for me. Because once I was familiar with the concept then I understood the game logic. Most of the NPCs didn't have stats especially randomly encountered ones but do to my experience creating NPCs I could create them in my head if needed. It wasn't even a big deal.

When I ran 3e, I foolishly began using the RAW for every little situation. I spent loads of time making sure the stats on NPCs and monsters were "correct". Of course, it usually didn't matter. What really counted were the numbers and stats that showed up in the respective encounter.
I don't really understand the concept of RAW, the DM's guide is a guide book and it even explicitly states that they giving you alternatives and options for you to use. The NPC classes are giving you structure to build from. The random NPC creation charts are there for your convenience, just like most of the charts.


It didn't usually matter that the hobgoblin chief had Profession: Blacksmith if he was simply part of a combat encounter. Likewise, it didn't matter that the town blacksmith had 23 hit points and an attack bonus of +3.

Over the years, I gave up worrying about such levels of detail. Once I began writing up monsters and NPCs only for the situations they would appear in, everything became much easier. Realizing that the CR/Monster Advancement rules were simply ballpark numbers, I created new monsters as "build-to-suit", and pegged CR to existing monsters. I spent time detailing what NPCs would know, or might say, rather than worrying about class, level, or skill ranks. Of course, this is what I used to do back in AD&D, and what I would do in games that use the Storyteller system.



To me, it isn't verisimilitude for NPCs, monstes, and PCs to all use the same system as PCs. All such systems are just game rules, after all.
I don't know what you mean by verisimilitude. I definitely believe that there should be a structure and it should be the same system. Knowing how to create a detailed PC, I would know to create detailed NPC as well. It's easier and it's logical. Two systems would be illogical to me and make it much harder to conceptualize while playing. But you don't mean two different systems I imagine. What you really mean is that you don't want to bother with detail. Which isn't a different system just a play style preference. I don't write down every detail either, but I want the detail there when I want it though. Of course, I do enjoy making interesting NPCs, and I think it's important. I really do enjoy prep time. Some people think you should be able to DM with no preparation time and not knowing any rules. I think that's lunacy.


So, what about first-level characters? I want a system to be a little flexible--provide a simple way for characters, AT LEVEL ONE, to have a range of power levels. Give a default, and then, in a rules sidebar, provide some options. For instance:

SIDEBAR: More or Less Heroic PCs
1. For PCs that are more like common folk, strictly enforce 3d6 for ability scores (or use a lower-point array), only give 1/4 the starting wealth, and give no bonus for Con to starting hit points.

2. For PCs that are already heroes, allow rolling 5d6 (best three) for ability scores (or use a higher-point array), give each character a bonus feat, and give bonus hit points equal to Con score, rather than only Con bonus.
I don't understand you. You already can do that. How you create PCs and NPCs is up to you and always has been. Want to roll? Fine. Want a custom ability array? Fine. Want a custom point buy system? Fine. It's all up to you. Don't want to bother with skills for goblin chief? Fine. Yet, the goblin chief should still theoretically have some skills even if they are being ignored. Maybe your PCs take the goblin chief hostage, then what? Then you might need to add more detail to that NPC, no big deal.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I don't understand you. You already can do that. How you create PCs and NPCs is up to you and always has been. Want to roll? Fine. Want a custom ability array? Fine. Want a custom point buy system? Fine.

I completely agree for the experienced player ... and think the DMG darn well better have the standard "only a guide" disclaimer.

One of the concerns that has been expressed about 5e is making sure that there is a default to help the starting players and newbie DM get off on a solid footing without drowning them in choices and options they don't have the experince to handle or pick between. Hence the suggestions for a default with the options off to the side.
 

Mallus

Legend
I guess I really appreciate having those tools and it's one of the best parts of 3rd edition for me. Because once I was familiar with the concept then I understood the game logic.
3e's tool set is fun to play around with, but it's hard to get around the illogic of the game logic re: using the same chargen rules for both PCs and NPCs.

Having 15 ranks in Perform: Lute should imply an NPC is damn good with a lute. It shouldn't imply anything about his hit points.
 

Mattachine

Adventurer
I don't know what you mean by verisimilitude. I definitely believe that there should be a structure and it should be the same system. Knowing how to create a detailed PC, I would know to create detailed NPC as well. It's easier and it's logical. Two systems would be illogical to me and make it much harder to conceptualize while playing. But you don't mean two different systems I imagine. What you really mean is that you don't want to bother with detail. Which isn't a different system just a play style preference. I don't write down every detail either, but I want the detail there when I want it though. Of course, I do enjoy making interesting NPCs, and I think it's important. I really do enjoy prep time. Some people think you should be able to DM with no preparation time and not knowing any rules. I think that's lunacy.
.
.
.
I don't understand you. You already can do that. How you create PCs and NPCs is up to you and always has been. Want to roll? Fine. Want a custom ability array? Fine. Want a custom point buy system? Fine. It's all up to you. Don't want to bother with skills for goblin chief? Fine. Yet, the goblin chief should still theoretically have some skills even if they are being ignored. Maybe your PCs take the goblin chief hostage, then what? Then you might need to add more detail to that NPC, no big deal.

For me, the under-the-hood rules for deciding how many ranks of a skill an NPC gets don't even enter into verisimilitude. What matters to me is simply whether or not the NPC's abilities make sense in the scenario. Like others have said, I don't think an NPC master of some skill should necessarily have the hit points, attacks, and saves of high-level hero.


As to character creation, if different methods are presented, with a brief discussion about how each might affect the feel of the game, then play groups (NOT just DMs) can make better decisions about the type of game they will create together.

Plenty of game systems (like Storyteller, Hero, and Burning Wheel) have specific advice/rules for makes PCs more or less powerful, depending on the flavor of game the group wants.

Why not D&D?
 

hamstertamer

First Post
3e's tool set is fun to play around with, but it's hard to get around the illogic of the game logic re: using the same chargen rules for both PCs and NPCs.

Having 15 ranks in Perform: Lute should imply an NPC is damn good with a lute. It shouldn't imply anything about his hit points.

Yeah but your attacking the whole idea of the class level rank system. That's has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. What you want is a point buy system like gurps or hero system if that's a major issue for you.

If a wizard sat in a tower and never went adventuring and I wanted him to have high level spells, would it make sense that his Attack bonus went up, his saves, his hit points. Probably not, but it does not mean it does absolutely. It could make sense depending on how I create his background.

I don't have the same issue as you obviously. If want to create a traveling musician that was excellent with the lute, all I need is one or two levels of expert to do that just like my royal blacksmith. 1st level expert with decent charisma, and skill focus should be good enough to wow the crowds. I could just allow skill focus (or another new feat) to increase his perform skill above normal maximum. Or maybe an new Artist class that has no arbitrary limits on skill ranks per level. It's not hard to conceptualize. Not hard to implement either. I don't why people would want to ditch NPC detail and consistency just because well what ever issue they are having.

I definitely don't agree in two systems. I would rather they just turn D&D next into a point buy system. I like those so it's not a problem for me, it just wouldn't be D&D anymore. Since we are sticking to the class level system then the NPCs and monsters should be built on that assumption as well. And more importantly I think if NPCs are being made in different type of system (like a point buy system) then players are going to ask "Why can't I build my character uniquely like a NPC?" Good question right. The situation will be of course, that many people may start building their PCs like NPCs even if the rules state they shouldn't.
 

hamstertamer

First Post
Plenty of game systems (like Storyteller, Hero, and Burning Wheel) have specific advice/rules for makes PCs more or less powerful, depending on the flavor of game the group wants.

Why not D&D?
D&D does. Always has.

Where you asking the wrong question?
 
Last edited:

Obryn

Hero
Yeah but your attacking the whole idea of the class level rank system. That's has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.
I personally have no qualms about a class/level/rank system for PCs. It's only when NPCs are shoehorned into it that it gets squirrely. Because classes and levels are all about combat skill, and you're shoehorning NPCs into a system that was designed without them in mind.

I could just allow skill focus (or another new feat) to increase his perform skill above normal maximum. Or maybe an new Artist class that has no arbitrary limits on skill ranks per level. It's not hard to conceptualize. Not hard to implement either. I don't why people would want to ditch NPC detail and consistency just because well what ever issue they are having.
If you need to houserule to get the system to work right, it's not a good system. ;)

-O
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
Actually, that isn't true. If combat advancement guaranteed that you (somehow?) automatically gained some specialized skill-set (such as potato farming) that is not something that is fundamentally correlated to your everyday experience/behavioral/formal training regimen, then your point would translate. As it stands though, every adventurer does not possess the exact same understanding/formal training (and corresponding advancement with their trade where they possess formal training and everyday experience) of a narrow trade, such as a potato farmer (or any other specific expertise in a non-combat trade/art).

Currently, the opposite stands. Every non-combatant (whether you are a desk clerk, a merchant, a farmer, a cobbler, a cart-wright, or a painter) symmetrically assimilates a martial combat acumen. Therefore, it logically follows that the process of NPC construction pressupposes some training regime/experience is fundamentall correlated (somehow) to those NPC's' everyday lives. You cannot become a desk clerk. You're a butt-kicking desk clerk with plot protection HPs, BAB advancement and a weapon proficiency. That's fine if every setting everywhere is Israel (where pretty much all citizens are conscripted into a rotational national guard) but does every town/city in every implied setting have this? Wouldn't allow for much creativity/variance (and would be more than a little odd to possess that level of symmetry).
It is kind of problematic that things like base attack and saves are mandatory aspects of advancement by level, while other things are not.

That being said, the same issue is still present in PC classes. I don't imagine the typical wizard, bard, or cleric as doing much training with weaponry (and certainly not every member of those classes has substantial combat experience or training). Yet they get weapon proficiencies and BAB. Again, this is what happens with class systems, not an issue with the way NPCs in particular are treated.
 

I personally have no qualms about a class/level/rank system for PCs. It's only when NPCs are shoehorned into it that it gets squirrely. Because classes and levels are all about combat skill, and you're shoehorning NPCs into a system that was designed without them in mind.

Going back through the thread, this is exactly what I put in my XP comment to Ahnehnois immediately above.
 

slobo777

First Post
And more importantly I think if NPCs are being made in different type of system (like a point buy system) then players are going to ask "Why can't I build my character uniquely like a NPC?" Good question right. The situation will be of course, that many people may start building their PCs like NPCs even if the rules state they shouldn't.

NPCs are built differently in 4E, and this has not happened in that system.

Don't know if has not happened at all, but for any reasonable take on "many", definitely not.

For 4E, that is because NPCs are built to fit around the PC system, as game constructs that the players get their PCs to interact with. Having an NPC or monster build for your character would be a bit like playing as the Candlestick in Clue . . .
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top