Monday, April 14, 2014

Why so many levels?

Not why are there so many dungeon levels in some big dungeons but why are there so many character levels in D&Desque games?

Would it be more fun if the difference between the fledgling hero and the ultimate hero weren't so extreme?

The game is about discovery and looting stuff isn't it? Why is gaining levels such a big part of the game?


  1. Because you want the psychology of constantly getting better and of growing your character to continue to drive people to the game experience. The idea that you can spend several years developing a character, and that this character grows and changes over a long period of time (reflected in levels) is part of the draw for the game for many people (at least initially). I remember as a teen that many of the conversations people had started with "I have a level 26 magic user who can" or "I have a level 19 paladin/assassin who..." (yeah. I know. That guy...)

  2. Somebody was running a Holmes game where everybody, the player characters and NPC's, capped out at level 3.

  3. I think that gaining levels satisfies our need to feel like we're accomplishing something and getting better at it. It's something fundamental in our natures to want to see ourselves improve.

    1. Piles of loot, a castle, a pet dragon, and an army of henchmen isn't improvement?
      I'm not saying why are there levels at all but why 12,20,36, unlimited?

    2. Because as you level you get new abilities, spells and the like. Though if I had a pet dragon I would just use it all the time for everything.

      "I need a beer! Dragon, fetch!"

  4. Leaving aside the number of levels, more important is the "zero to hero" journey. You start out as a nobody and over the course of an adventuring career you become a world-shaker. This scratches a particular itch and fits with many of the adventure stories that inspire players.

    One detail of zero to hero play that attracts some is in getting to watch 'enemy decay' in play: Seeing the climactic boss fight, (oh ^%$@ an ogre!), become the elite squad leader, (great, they're led by an ogre), become the elite trooper, (careful guys, they have ogres guarding it), become a mook, (it's just a bunch of ogres).

    Mind you, you are going to see a wide level scale[1] in a D&Desque game for the simple reason that that detail is one of the things that make it D&Desque. Games with a tighter power spread, (e.g. Ironclaw), end up with a different feel even if they have similar settings.

    [1] Defined as a large power disparity between the extremes rather than simply having a large count of levels. For that matter it wouldn't even need levels as an actual thing, a Hero System fantasy game I toyed with once would have taken the characters from 100 points to 4-500 if not more.