Zero Level Characters

A forum for discussing the many DCC modules published under third edition rules, EXCEPT for Castle Whiterock, which has its own forum.

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Gailbraithe
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Zero Level Characters

Post by Gailbraithe » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:26 pm

I just got my copy of DCC #35: The Known Realms, and so it's only a matter of time before I give my Wilderlands campaign the hard goodbye and switch over. I already have a bunch of questions, and I will eventually post a big list of questions for Harley, Jeff and Mike to answer, but right now I am just trying to wrap my head around Zero Level Characters.

So a character starts out at -1000 XP, and becomes first level after reaching 0 XP. But how does that work? Does the character gain all the normal benefits of being first level (a bonus feat, maximum hit points, four times normal skill points), or do they just gain the normal benefits?

Let's say I start with Joe Warrior at zero level:
Joe Warrior: Male Human Warrior 1; CR 0; Medium Humanoid (human); HD (1d8)+1; hp 9; Init +0; Spd Walk 30'; AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14, Base Atk +1; Grp+2; Atk: +2 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword); Full Atk: +2 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword); SA -; SQ: Normal; AL: TN; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will -1; STR 13, DEX 11, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 9, CHA 8.
Skills and Feats: Climb +3, Intimidate +3, Jump +3; Blind-Fight, Power Attack
Possessions: Chain Shirt; Longsword

Joe gains 1000 Xp, and becomes a first level Fighter.

There are two possible ways to interpret this. The less disruptive way is to simply "upgrade" Joe from a Warrior to a Fighter:

Joe Fighter 1.0: Male Human Fighter 1; CR 1; Medium Humanoid (human); HD (1d10)+1; hp 11; Init +0; Spd Walk 30'; AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14, Base Atk +1; Grp+2; Atk: +2 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword); Full Atk: +2 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword); SA -; SQ: Normal; AL: TN; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will -1; STR 13, DEX 11, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 9, CHA 8.
Skills and Feats: Climb +3, Intimidate +3, Jump +3; Blind-Fight, Cleave, Power Attack
Possessions: Chain Shirt; Longsword

This route, the character gains +2 HP, and an extra feat.

The other method is to simply add a level of fighter:

Joe Fighter 2.0: Male Human Warrior 1/Fighter 1; CR 1; Medium Humanoid (human); HD (1d8)+(1d10)+2; hp 20; Init +0; Spd Walk 30'; AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14, Base Atk +2; Grp+3; Atk: +3 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword) ; Full Atk: +3 Melee (1d8+1/19-20/x2, Longsword) ; SA -; SQ: Normal; AL: TN; SV Fort +5, Ref +0, Will -1; STR 13, DEX 11, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 9, CHA 8.
Skills and Feats: Climb +4, Intimidate +4, Jump +4; Blind-Fight, Cleave, Power Attack
Possessions: Chain Shirt; Longsword

The second option seems to be the one presumed by the book, but that results in a pretty uber first level chaarcter, and seems like it would be unbalancing. I mean here you have a first level fighter with 5 ranks in his skills, 20 HP, and a +2 BAB. He's essentially an EL 2 character.

Which system is the one you'd recommend? Also, what about players who want to play Barbarians? What NPC class works for them?

kaomera
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Post by kaomera » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:57 pm

I just picked up DCC35 myself (the .pdf version, I had called ahead to my F(semi-)LGS to see if they had any in stock, and their shipment arrived about an hour after I had called... :roll: ), and I think I'm going to go with option 2. Sure, they're pretty good for first-level characters, but I don't think it's unbalancing, especially considering what they've had to go through to get to that point. I've just finished reading Halls of the Minotaur and it's awesome, and it's going to be a serious challenge. With my current group I'd consider having each player roll two characters, especially since I expect half of them would not make it through. Not having to worry so much about one-hit kills or being out of spells after one encounter, or botching every other skill roll should be great once they make it to first level.

Gailbraithe
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Post by Gailbraithe » Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:18 pm

kaomera wrote:Sure, they're pretty good for first-level characters, but I don't think it's unbalancing, especially considering what they've had to go through to get to that point.
You haven't met my players and seen their min maxing skills! I'm just afraid they'll be too powerful for any first level DCCs.

Harley Stroh
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Post by Harley Stroh » Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:20 pm

Gailbraithe,

My intent was actually a middle ground between the two:

The fighter would indeed get a bonus feat (just like anyone else take a level in ftr) but he shouldn't get max HP the second time around too, or the monster starting skill points --- "starting character" benefits are only acquired once. (This might punish rogues --- I need to go home and do the math to make sure they don't come out whipped.)

The resulting PC will be more powerful that another lvl 1 character, but like Kaomera pointed out, if the PCs have suffered through a miserable sub-level (and survived!) they've earned a leg up over everyone else.

However, that clearly only works with the right groups. If your players are dedicated to min/max'ing their way through the ranks, it could quickly send your game spiraling down. I encourage you to make the right choice for your group --- after all, you are the GM.

That said, the benefits will be diluted over the next couple of levels. Use the scaling notes in the beginning of the DCCs, add a handfull of extra bad guys every encounter, and you should be back to balanced by 3rd level or so.

This way your heroes still feel special, but they aren't over the top.

As for barbarians: I'd give the player the choice between warrior or expert, depending on the sort of barbarian they'd want to play (berserking Conan, or wood-wise savage).

//H
Last edited by Harley Stroh on Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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DCC Resource thread: character sheets, judge tools, and the world's fastest 0-level party creator.

Harley Stroh
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Post by Harley Stroh » Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:23 pm

And, BTW, when I ran Halls at GenCon we lost multiple PCs in almost every session, so make sure your players know that you are playing for keeps. One group made nearly no plans at all and were wiped out almost immediately.
:(

It's a doable challenge, but only if your players realize just how deadly it can be. :twisted:

//H
The lucky guy who got to write some Dungeon Crawl Classics.

DCC Resource thread: character sheets, judge tools, and the world's fastest 0-level party creator.

superfan
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Post by superfan » Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:38 pm

Don't know about the others groups, but my group is doing well with no fatalities, and is just about to enter the spider caves and then to level 3. They found the scythe, used it to get the rod, and with its healing, plus good looting of reach weapons (glaives) have devastated the kobolds on every occasion.

Only 2 near deaths, recovered from with the wand of healing.

Great module, and using my maps really helped speed up the flow of the game. REALLY hope we can get the website up soon so others can get the maps before going through this one!

Rock on,

Ben
"They Might Be Dwarves" - World Champions Xcrawl 2007. So BAD...but yet so good.

Harley Stroh
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Post by Harley Stroh » Mon Nov 06, 2006 6:30 am

Ben,

Off-topic, but I just happened upon the Thief Lord maps --- those are beautiful. You're becoming quite the guru over on the Dundjinni site!

//H
The lucky guy who got to write some Dungeon Crawl Classics.

DCC Resource thread: character sheets, judge tools, and the world's fastest 0-level party creator.

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Ken Hart
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Post by Ken Hart » Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:16 pm

I'm running my group through Halls of the Minotaur now (placing it in the DragonMech setting), and they had the same questions about 0-level characters, i.e., how exactly does this work? I explained things pretty much the same way that Harley has. The simplest thing to say is that the XP table in the PHB will be "off" by one level. That is, when they reach +1,000 XP, they'll technically have 3 character levels, not two: 1 NPC level on top of their 2 regular PC levels.

In the game, even with the wand of cure light, there would have been a TPK in the throne room (not a flaw in the encounter, but a truly horrible series of bad rolls by the players), yet I chose to have the kobolds capture them instead with the intention of sacrificing them to the "beast god." They've escaped. Yay!

They're enjoying the whole "0-level" thing. They're experienced players, and this certainly presents a unique challenge.
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superfan
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Post by superfan » Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:55 pm

Ken,

You MUST let me send you the pdf / jpg of the final castle level.

Not to toot my own horn, but it ROCKS!!!!

Email me at benwax@aol.com and I'll get it to you!

Ben
"They Might Be Dwarves" - World Champions Xcrawl 2007. So BAD...but yet so good.

Maliki
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Post by Maliki » Tue Nov 07, 2006 2:13 pm

If I was running a 3E game, I would use the 2nd option, add a PC class level to the NPC class.
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