0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

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jason.richardson
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0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by jason.richardson » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:27 am

Hello fellow crawlers,

Have any of you experienced play where 0-level PCs adventure with higher level PCs, say 3rd/4th level? If so, how'd it go? I'm thinking ahead about my campaign, and if/when PCs start dying off once the campaign starts into the higher levels and how I want to deal with new characters entering the campaign. I'm loath to give away free levels.

Thoughts? Ideas?

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by TheNobleDrake » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:19 am

jason.richardson wrote:Have any of you experienced play where 0-level PCs adventure with higher level PCs, say 3rd/4th level?
I have not. I am willing, however, to theory-play around with the idea...
jason.richardson wrote:I'm loath to give away free levels.
I would say that of myself, too. Though I doubt I would mean it quite the way you do.

To illustrate what I mean... how does a 0-level character gain XP? The answer is simple: survive the funnel adventure. After that point though, what would it take for the 0-level character to gain XP while in a party of 5th level character?

Does he just need to survive an adventure? The party loads him up in armor and has him pack their gear, and then they protect him as best they can... does that get him XP? If yes, sounds like a free level to me.

Does he have to contribute to the party getting through the adventure in a meaningful way? That sounds like a trap to me, either the 5th level party is needed to carry him through as above... or the 0-level guy has reasonably good chances at doing something helpful, and all those 5th level party members are on a cake-walk... so it's either a free level for the 0-level, or some free XP for the 5th level party if they get any at all.

Perhaps that's the key? The rest of the party has to take the 0-level newbie on training missions which they get 0 XP for while the newbie gains normal XP and eventually levels up... I don't see that going over so well, but it could be a fun roleplaying experience a time or two.

A different approach - the player has been here every session since the inception of the campaign, made clever choices, thought out plans, watched as their plans fell to pieces and their characters paid the price. He knows the story, he's thrilled enough by it to ask to roll up a new character when his very last man dies... how exactly does that not count as earning the levels?

That's all my theories... now to share methods:

Right now, my rule is that the player gets to carry their XP total to their new character - they roll 3 sets of ability scores with attached occupations (and birth augurs if they have a luck modifier), then decide what class each would be if they were to use that set for a character... then the rest of the players choose which of those 3 potential recruits they pick for initiation, and the player finishes making their character.

I am considering running a modification to the process by my play group for world simulation purposes - a level maximum for the recruit based on where the party is recruiting: Village = level 2, small city = level 4, largest city in a nation = level 6, and anything higher requiring special circumstances (crossing dimensions, ancient heroes resurrected by fate, demon ally made, etc.)

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by jason.richardson » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:23 am

TheNobleDrake wrote:
jason.richardson wrote:Have any of you experienced play where 0-level PCs adventure with higher level PCs, say 3rd/4th level?
I have not. I am willing, however, to theory-play around with the idea...
jason.richardson wrote:I'm loath to give away free levels.
I would say that of myself, too. Though I doubt I would mean it quite the way you do.

To illustrate what I mean... how does a 0-level character gain XP? The answer is simple: survive the funnel adventure. After that point though, what would it take for the 0-level character to gain XP while in a party of 5th level character?

Does he just need to survive an adventure? The party loads him up in armor and has him pack their gear, and then they protect him as best they can... does that get him XP? If yes, sounds like a free level to me.

Does he have to contribute to the party getting through the adventure in a meaningful way? That sounds like a trap to me, either the 5th level party is needed to carry him through as above... or the 0-level guy has reasonably good chances at doing something helpful, and all those 5th level party members are on a cake-walk... so it's either a free level for the 0-level, or some free XP for the 5th level party if they get any at all.

Perhaps that's the key? The rest of the party has to take the 0-level newbie on training missions which they get 0 XP for while the newbie gains normal XP and eventually levels up... I don't see that going over so well, but it could be a fun roleplaying experience a time or two.

A different approach - the player has been here every session since the inception of the campaign, made clever choices, thought out plans, watched as their plans fell to pieces and their characters paid the price. He knows the story, he's thrilled enough by it to ask to roll up a new character when his very last man dies... how exactly does that not count as earning the levels?

That's all my theories... now to share methods:

Right now, my rule is that the player gets to carry their XP total to their new character - they roll 3 sets of ability scores with attached occupations (and birth augurs if they have a luck modifier), then decide what class each would be if they were to use that set for a character... then the rest of the players choose which of those 3 potential recruits they pick for initiation, and the player finishes making their character.

I am considering running a modification to the process by my play group for world simulation purposes - a level maximum for the recruit based on where the party is recruiting: Village = level 2, small city = level 4, largest city in a nation = level 6, and anything higher requiring special circumstances (crossing dimensions, ancient heroes resurrected by fate, demon ally made, etc.)
Hey - thanks for sharing. You have some good ideas and I think I'll use something along the lines of what you suggest. Thanks again.

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by Ravenheart87 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:24 am

jason.richardson wrote:Hello fellow crawlers,

Have any of you experienced play where 0-level PCs adventure with higher level PCs, say 3rd/4th level? If so, how'd it go? I'm thinking ahead about my campaign, and if/when PCs start dying off once the campaign starts into the higher levels and how I want to deal with new characters entering the campaign. I'm loath to give away free levels.

Thoughts? Ideas?
My players will be able to spend money on training protegees and write a last will about who inherits his fortune if he dies. The more money he spends on his protegee, the higher level he's going to be. Whether the protegee is a family member, a friend, a follower, it's up to the player and the Judge. When the character dies, one of his protegees can take his place. If there are no pretegees, he can roll a new character or use another of his funnel survivvors. This means level 1 is the minimum, I don't want to turn higher level adventures into "peasant baby sitting", but I don't want to give out free experience and treasure either.
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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:44 am

If players are able to operate a "stable" of characters, of various levels, and use different characters to face different challenges, I would consider the following:

All players get to go through the new funnel; survivors become new 1st level PCs. Some of these PCs may "wait in the wings"; some may not.

Run a mixture of adventures, some higher level, and some lower, arising from the same campaign hub. If you have a character you want to hazard in a given adventure, great. If not, you may participate using a setting-area NPC crafted for that purpose; but these NPCs are "floating" -- they can be used by the Judge or any player without an appropriate character, as the Judge sees fit. I.e., the benefits is participation, not the growth of your PC. Moreover, the player operating them can be given secret "marching orders" by the Judge, following that NPC's specific agenda.

I am planning on doing something of this nature with my Shanthopal setting.
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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by TheNobleDrake » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:53 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:If players are able to operate a "stable" of characters, of various levels, and use different characters to face different challenges, I would consider the following:

All players get to go through the new funnel; survivors become new 1st level PCs. Some of these PCs may "wait in the wings"; some may not.
I have been considering a campaign of this style... but I've been a little uncertain as how to actually manage getting my players behind the idea of rotating characters in and out of focus during play - I think they might get hung-up on it, and either try always playing the highest level character available, or demanding on the active party consisting of every character in everyone's "stable" because "why not?"

I think it would be great seeing players effectively playing their own allied NPCs in this way - all those helpful, slightly higher-level characters that you get information from while sharing drinks at an inn when your paths cross? Your other PCs. All the characters you deliver strange artifacts to so that they can suss-out their purpose or put them to use furthering your goals? Your other PCs.
...maybe even that group of character competing for the wealth and glory you seek in a "race" to be the best in the eyes of the nation are your other PCs too!

I am definitely going to have to start planning something along these lines to see where my group will take it.

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by Ynas Midgard » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:22 am

If everything goes according to plan, I will be running some DCC during the summer. For that, I have put some thought into that matter and came up with the following:
  • For the first session, each player creates 3-5 0-level characters (the exact number is up to the player) with which they go through the "funnel". Surviving characters receive 10 XP and thus reach 1st level.
  • Each player chooses one of their surviving characters - they become the primary characters going on adventures. The rest of the surviving characters (the "secondary" ones) constitute a pool from which the players can choose their next character, if one is left without a primary character (with 10 "starting XP").
  • If one's pool is out of characters, one must roll up a new one from scratch - this means 4 0-level characters (abilities, occupation, birth augur) among whose one is chosen to become a 1st level adventurer (again, with 10 "starting XP").
  • Each player may once choose to create an "heir" as a replacement of his dead primary character - the method is the same as in the previous point, but this time the character receives some of its ancestor's wealth and half its XP (minimum 10).
As for the theory-play, it is not really different from similar cases in other D&D-esque games. Sure, XP is gained for gaining gold and defeating monsters (although a 1st level character's contribution to the massacre of a bunch of 4HD monsters by a party of 7th level characters is arguable here, too), whereas DCC awards XP for survival. In my reading, however, XP is an award to the player for his/her contribution to and achievement in the game, so why should one not give XP for a 1st level character adventuring along a couple of more experienced ones? Sooner or later, the difference is going to fade away.

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by IronWolf » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:44 am

TheNobleDrake wrote: Right now, my rule is that the player gets to carry their XP total to their new character - they roll 3 sets of ability scores with attached occupations (and birth augurs if they have a luck modifier), then decide what class each would be if they were to use that set for a character... then the rest of the players choose which of those 3 potential recruits they pick for initiation, and the player finishes making their character.
I like this idea. I think it is one I will pursue as I get to running longer DCC games.
TheNobleDrake wrote: I am considering running a modification to the process by my play group for world simulation purposes - a level maximum for the recruit based on where the party is recruiting: Village = level 2, small city = level 4, largest city in a nation = level 6, and anything higher requiring special circumstances (crossing dimensions, ancient heroes resurrected by fate, demon ally made, etc.)
This also seems reasonable to me.

I used to subscribe to the come in at 1st level or lower level if your character dies philosophy, I do so less now. I like my players to have a good time and sometimes just losing a character you have been playing for a bit is enough "punishment".

I also dislike too much level variation within the party from the GM's side as well. It can make the game a bit difficult to run - either always too hard for someone's character or too easy for the others.

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by Quode » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:09 pm

Based on my reading of the rules the level 5 versus 0 issue is not to great as adventure design should not be wholly set up as D&D is. My plan is to give my players 3 characters that they will adventure with till they get to level 10 or pass away before that happens (or play the afterlife ideas and try to journey back to life.)

I idea is to throw off the regimented ideas of current D&D systems and provide for wild wholly play. The party needs a new member, per the rules the chance to find a 5th level hanging about is pretty small, so they recruit, the new player brings in three level 0 characters, they get outfitted, perhaps just given bows and such and off they all go. The level 0 characters are in awe of the higher level characters and work to emulate them. To me this sounds better than creating a level 5 player with no history or existence sitting in some bar waiting to be discovered, better to recruit one of the endless number of level zeros about.

IMHO Ken

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by blackwingedheaven » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:10 am

jason.richardson wrote:I'm loath to give away free levels.
What's free about those levels? The players already went through the learning curve of getting a character from 0th to whatever-th level, so why punish them for bad rolls or too-difficult encounters? Lemme use some personal examples...

I had a friend who always insisted that new characters always started at 1st level, no matter the current level of the party. With the way XP worked, that meant basically a couple of adventures of pointless hand-holding for the new character to get them close to the party's real level, which broke up the flow of the game and was boring for everyone.

For my games, I just assume that the surviving PCs are recruiting people of their own power level (or near it) to replace their fallen comrades. While the story option of "We found this starving orphan and now he's our team mascot" can be cool, it's also fun to just have the player characters be so notorious that other adventurers are actively looking to join them. I ran a great session that was in the wake of a PC death where the party held try-outs for new adventurers to join them. The dead character's player thought it was in great fun and blind-submitted his new concept to the pool of auditioners... and lost. This led him to go off and find the NPC who beat him in the audition and trick him into leaving town so that the player's character could then join the party as runner-up. That was a blast.

I suppose what I'm saying is this: Always pick the option that's the most fun for your group. Don't worry about realism or verisimilitude or whatever unless that's what your group finds fun. If having the new guy join right away at the "right" level works best for them, do it that way. If you want to run a new "mini-funnel" where the player makes 4 new 0-levels to hook up with the party as henchmen (all run by him) and gauntlet of doom them until only one remains, that's fine too.
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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by IronWolf » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:40 am

blackwingedheaven wrote: I suppose what I'm saying is this: Always pick the option that's the most fun for your group. Don't worry about realism or verisimilitude or whatever unless that's what your group finds fun.
This is great gaming advice for so many areas!

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by Skyscraper » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:27 pm

I have not had the experience you ask (playing level 0 with level 3-4), but I've had some experience with this in other game systems.

My recommendation: bring back new PCs at a same level with the rest of the group, or near enough. Otherwise, it's a pain.

If you need any support, think about it this way: starting at level 0 is as arbitrary as starting at level 3 or level 7. Why do you start a PC at level 0? Why not start playing the PC when he was 6 years old and incapable of holding an adult-sized shield? The answer to that is purely mechanical: it's because the game's lower mechanical threshold is at level 0. So you start where the game tells you to.

Don't let the mechanics run your game. Let the story, and the fun you and your players have playing it, run it. It's not fun playing a level 0 PC when the game is targetted for level 4 PCs, or to play level 4 PCs when the game is targetted for a level 0 PC, or to play a level 0 or level 3 PCs when the game is targetted for level 2 PCs. It's not fun because the story is more likely to suffer, than not.

Just my two cents :)

If you really want that player to level up his PC, have him come over alone one day, create 4 level 0 PCs, and play a 10-hour long session and have him level up every two hours. Then have the level 4 PC join the group for the next session.

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Re: 0-Level PCs & Higher Level PCs

Post by smathis » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:40 pm

In the past I've done this...

The player's next PC comes back with 80% of the XP the previous PC had unless:

a) the PC sacrificed him/herself to save the party or otherwise died epic-ly and/or heroically
b) the PC invested in training people to follow in his/her footsteps (ala Raven_Crowking's proteges). this could mean they've just spent money on a will and save-stickered an NPC they can take over if their current PC dies

I've never had a group that's had a problem with this. It leaves some sting in death. Enough that a player won't be silly about it. But not too much.

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