5E When do you think a character build concept reaches maturity?

At what level should a character concept/build reach fruition?

  • 1-2

  • 3-4

  • 5-6

  • 7-8

  • 9-10

  • 11-12

  • 13-14

  • 15-16

  • 17-18

  • 19-20

  • Epic levels


Results are only viewable after voting.

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I know many people might say, "It depends on the build," so I am asking you in a more general sense,
I'm going to say it is less about the build, and more about how long the game is going to last. Character rise to (mechanical) power/maturity is probably best when it echos the climb of drama and stakes in the game.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
The question is really when SHOULD a character concept reach maturity.

For me, this means, the essential themes SHOULD be practicable at level 1.
I'm ambivalent about this. The game should allow the concept to exist at 1st level, but I'm not sure D&D is flawed in the way that it doesn't allow all concepts to reach maturity until a bit later.

I think my ideal would be (given a character class system) a level 1 "apprentice level" with the concept coming into its own at level 2; whether as a "journeyman level" or apprenticeship in two different trades. D&D is not far from that already. Personally, I prefer a limited amount of classes, each giving a few variations on a theme and the ability to multiclass, over a plethora of overlapping classes and class options each allowing a more focus concept right out the gate.

Options at interval levels are less meaningful if these don't participate in defining and refining your character concept. I don't mind that this concept is allowed to grow, change, or recess as the character progresses, and this implies (at least to a certain extent) that the concept cannot be completely mature from the very beginning. D&D is most suited for a "zero-to-hero" type of narrative, because that's how it translates mechanically. It's hard to have a mature zero, so to speak.

TL;DR: The essential themes SHOULD be practicable at level 1, but they don't have to be mature at level 1.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
When separating the concept from the mechanics, I think 5e actually supports most character types quite well even at level 1 when you combine Race, Class, and Background + whatever backstory you feel like writing.

Maybe the character doesn't have the full mechanical support one is aiming for, but that's what you get as a level 1 character - the character can still be played to the theme, they just aren't that good at it yet.

So, conceptually, most characters are fine at 1st. Mechanically (which is the point of the poll, I believe), I stick by my earlier answer of 3rd-6th for single class and 6th-8th for multi-class.
 
A simple poll: At what level should a character concept/build reach fruition or maturity?
Seems like no poll is ever simple. ;)
A character concept should be viable and recognizable from 1st level through to the end of the campaign. The character can grow & develop, but it should never seem like it's just 'paying its dues' or marking time until it's story can finally begin.

Since this is tagged 5e, I guess that means sub-class should have been available to all classes at 1st.
Oh well.
"3rd is the new 1st?" No?
I tried.
 

Dausuul

Legend
So, there are two thresholds for me:

Takeoff: When do you start doing the thing that defines your concept or build?
Cruising Altitude: When is that thing hitting on all cylinders?

(What the OP describes is cruising altitude IMO, but a lot of folks are reading it as takeoff.)

I think there is value in having a separation between these two. First, it allows you to learn the ropes of your abilities one at a time, instead of having to master them all at once. Second, it's fun to have a new power unlock and spend a little time exploring that power on its own. My ideal is for takeoff to happen at level 1, and cruising altitude to happen at 5-6; high enough to have a decent stretch of exploration and growth, not so high that the campaign ends just as it all comes together.

But takeoff damn well should happen at level 1. It's one of the things that really grinds my gears about 5E necromancers: The thing that defines the concept is animating skeletons and zombies, and you don't get to do it until level 5! What gives? You hit cruising altitude a mere 1 level later with Undead Thralls. grumble grumble grumble
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Once again welcomed posters, thanks for your input! :)

For those who've brought up the separate issues of concept vs. build. To me, those are the same for all intensive purposes. My concept reaches maturity when the build I've designed allow me to do the things that make the character who they really are.

Now, this is were your particular concept/build comes into play. If your character has no special feature they need in order to "feel complete" then you will reach fruition earlier on. For example, suppose your character is an "assassin". You should be able to kill your victim quickly and you imagine the character as deadly. A rogue really won't start to approach this until they choose their subclass (umm... yeah, Assassin! perfect!!).

Or perhaps your character is a stalwart defender, a grizzled member of a shield wall and veteran of many wars. You might choose the soldier background to reflect this. But at level 1, your abilities, hit points, and combat experience hardly reflect your concept. It isn't until you are likely 8th level or higher before you really feel the concept has come to life! Ideally, such a character would enter the game at a higher level, but you really can't start out that way IME.

Since I asked "in general", I was seeking an average level, if you will.

As others have mentioned, 5E seems (and perhaps was intended?) to be made with levels 1 and 2 being truly the apprentice/ journeymen levels. I am not certain how I feel about this but I find people's input interesting. I look forward to reading more and thanks again!
 
So, there are two thresholds for me:

Takeoff: When do you start doing the thing that defines your concept or build?
Cruising Altitude: When is that thing hitting on all cylinders?
See and, for me, I think takeoff really needs to occur by level 2 or 3, and if cruising altitude is higher than 6 we should consider that character concept to be "unsupported". One of the biggest problems with 3.X (and therefore 5e) D&D is that a lot of iconic AD&D archetypes, functional from first level, didn't even begin to come online until many, many sessions after the typical campaign had already ended.

PF is a lot better about this, but it still has a lot further to go-- and I hate to keep grinding my axe here, but it's because of that pig-stupid 3e multiclass system that classes can't have all of their defining abilities up front.
 
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Ratskinner

Adventurer
This is one of my petty gripes about D&D, and through inheritance most rpgs. When the success of a concept is dependent upon getting little mechanical tidbits at each level, it requires the game to progress a certain way.... Which doesn't seem like a big deal until you play or run other games where you can start play exactly as a competent hero (Fate comes to mind).

I've been curious to try a hack or mod where everyone starts at level 5, but doesn't advance (or advance much.) I know about e6, but I'd just rather avoid the ticky-tackedness. (One possibility is to let you optionally start out as a torchbearer at level 1 and work your way up, making ASIs only available to those characters. If you start at 5th, you have to use feats.)

Ideally, I'd like it if the game just had you pick from a small list of abilities for your class and that was it.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
See and, for me, I think takeoff really needs to occur by level 2 or 3, and if cruising altitude is higher than 6 we should consider that character concept to be "unsupported".
I agree, the ‘takeoff’ of the concept, must happen when I create character or at least as soon as possible.

The ‘cruising altitude’ of a preplanned ‘build’, can happen later.

I can tolerate a delay in power. But I lack tolerance for a delay in flavor.



For example, if I play an Eldritch Knight because the concept is a magical warrior, it is unacceptable to me to play two levels before there is even a hint of magical capability.

And this is the Eldritch Knight, that includes the fighting traditions of the High Elf, who were raised from birth in both magic and combat. (Hence, cantrip and cultural weapon proficiencies.) It doesnt even seem possible that an Elf Knight could lack magical combat abilities.

The flavor matters, and needs to be there, when the character is created. At least a nod toward the flavor.



One of the biggest problems with 3.X (and therefore 5e) D&D is that a lot of iconic AD&D archetypes, functional from first level, didn't even begin to come online until many, many sessions after the typical campaign had already ended. ... It's because of that pig-stupid 3e multiclass system that classes can't have all of their defining abilities up front.
You make a fair point. Multiclass dips interfere with upfront class designs.

At least have a hint of things to come, at level 1!
 
You make a fair point. Multiclass dips interfere with upfront class designs.

At least have a hint of things to come, at level 1!
It is also a key difference between 2e's Kits and the Prestige Classes that many of them were converted into. PF's Archetypes are a small step in the right direction, but they're still subject to both "no dead levels" and the need to avoid frontloading.
 

the Jester

Legend
A simple poll: At what level should a character concept/build reach fruition or maturity?

I know many people might say, "It depends on the build," so I am asking you in a more general sense, considering the "average" level for different builds you have thought of or tried in game.
It really depends, less on the build, and more on the concept. Some have reached fruition by the time the pc starts play- "I am a dwarven father who adventures to provide for my children." Others won't reach fruition until epic levels, or never at all- "I want to become the Overgod of the Forgotten Realms" is unlikely to pan out ever. I really don't think there is an answer to this, at least in my experience.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
It really depends, less on the build, and more on the concept. Some have reached fruition by the time the pc starts play- "I am a dwarven father who adventures to provide for my children." Others won't reach fruition until epic levels, or never at all- "I want to become the Overgod of the Forgotten Realms" is unlikely to pan out ever. I really don't think there is an answer to this, at least in my experience.
LOL fair enough... or you could just split the difference and say... around 10th level? ;)
 

Adamant

Explorer
I play adventurer's league and have to start at level 1 with each character, so builds coming online late are just out of consideration for me. Tier 2 play is about where the sweet spot is for me, so I won't play anything that comes online later than a 2 level dip. An example of coming online a bit later than intended was one of my earlier characters, a rogue x/warlock 2, who didn't stop feeling underpowered until level 8-10. I didn't do another late bloomer until very recently, a fighter 2/bladesinger x, who really comes online at level 7 with haste but didn't feel weak earlier like my rogue did.

Concept wise, I hate having to wait to feel like my character is actually living up to his backstory and chosen path, which is another reason I tend to steer clear of multiclassing for the most part. Waiting for a fighter or rogue to get their archetype is frustrating, especially if I'm going eldritch knight or arcane trickster. Same with my gloom stalker ranger who is from the underdark(Imaskari human, was part of the aboveground city and was captured by drow while fleeing the downfall of said city) but can't see in the dark yet.
 

TiwazTyrsfist

Explorer
I voted 3-4 & 5-6, because I think it's two things.
1. Level 3-4, Getting your subclass. I know some classes get theirs earlier, but at lvl 3 everyone finally has their subclass. If your build idea is Magic Swordsman, you aren't until you hit level 3 and become an Eldritch Knight.
2. 5-6 because I feel like a LOT of really important stuff unlocks at those levels.
2a. Most melee fighters get their second attack
2b. Most spell casters get their 3rd level spells (While 1st and 2nd level spells are ok, you're not REALLY spell casting till you can Fireball or revive the dead)
2c. Certain class and subclass specifics. Most classes get something pretty good at this point beyond 2a&2b.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I mean, you could, but that's not at all accurate to my perspective. This is a poll that needs an "Other- see my post" kind of answer.
I thought about it, but decided not to do it because it smacks of the "none of the above" type answer. If you don't feel the poll applies to you, then don't vote and no hard feelings at all. Regardless, your input is always appreciated and I can certainly understand your point of view.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So with over 50 voters (69 votes), the average is about 5.5, placing the poll firmly in the 5-6 level range.

I agree with others' assessment that for most builds, a ASI/feat at 4th and maybe a second archetype feature (typically acquired at 6th level) bring most builds into a point where they feel like the character has hit their stride. Also extra attack for battlers and third level spells for casters come (mostly) at 5th.

All those things combined really bring it to saying Tier II. Once most characters make tier II, they start to show their potential and a good idea of what is to come.

Once again, thanks to all for participating and providing input.
 

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