PDA

View Full Version : Playing at Different Levels



Lord Tyger
2012-07-20, 09:48 PM
So, many RPGs have a mechanic whereby, as the character goes along, they advance in powers, abilities, attributes, or what have you. Basically, they become more potent in the fields they already had ability, or gain abilities in new fields. It is known.

What I'm wondering is, has anybody tried, or made a habit of, playing in a party where not all characters were at or about the same level? Obviously, from an optimization point, this would be a major sin, and it could introduce roleplay issues- if one character is considerably more or less powerful than others in the group, it lessens what some of the party can do. Nobody wants to play "Those guys who follow the Almighty Terrence around while he effortlessly slaughters monsters that would be a moderate challenge for the rest of us," or "That guy who cowers in the corner whilst his party fights monsters that could kill him with a casual glance."

On the other hand, it raises Roleplay potential as well. How does Jack the All-Right-We-Suppose feel towards the Almighty Terrence? Reverence? Envy? Resentment? Does he want to see Terrence fail so he can have a chance to shine? Will he sacrifice himself because he realizes Terrence has a better chance at managing the All Important Quest of Vagueness? What about Eliza the Rather-A-Bit-Above-Average-But-I-Wouldn't-Say-Amazing? Does Jack consider her another bloke like him, or another shining hero/arrogant jerk like Terrence? Who does she relate more to?

The closest I've come myself is "playing up," in several Pathfinder Society scenarios- IE, playing the version of a scenario meant for levels 4-6 at level 2. I didn't feel particularly useless during combat or social situations, but the games weren't very RP heavy.

Ashdate
2012-07-20, 10:25 PM
I think it's important to make the distinction between a game like D&D and a game like World of Darkness; WoD can (from what little I've played) does not expect a "base minimum" from it's PCs, so have one player with "more" experience than the other doesn't really cause a problem as long as players try and spread their skills out so there isn't a ton of overlap.

That said, playing at different levels is a design feature in some RPGs (most notable, D&D pre-3rd edition, although level drain and crafting can cause people to be as seperate levels in 3/3.5e), and even without that 3.5's "rubberband" experience system means lower level characters will eventually catch up. Still. I don't really see the point in doing it "on purpose."

I think some systems are better at encouraging it than others. The last time I played 3.5, my Wizard ended up being a bit behind on the rest of a crew when he started (not that it bothered me; I was a wizard after all), but there is something to be said for a system that has characters level together. In my 4e game, I keep everyone at the same experience level so they all gain levels together; I don't really see the point in punishing a player for missing a game. We're all adults now; stuff happens. Why punish them for their absence?

Perhaps the better question is "why" you would want characters at different levels if the system didn't encourage it somehow.

Erik Vale
2012-07-20, 11:33 PM
I used to play a heavy RP server on NWN1 with a small group, and I can tell you, falling behind on the level scale sucks, if NWN1 even slightly managed to capture the difference with low and high levels, don't do it.

Hylas
2012-07-21, 01:00 AM
I once played in a 3.5 game where "every combination was allowed" and the idea that the DM had was that the more powerful your starting character was then the slower you would level to help balance things out. So you had some people who were effective level 5 half-celestials and then some random dragon-humanoid race who was effective level 12 and then a monk who was effective level 2 using an elf subrace. The only thing that people had in common is that everyone had 1 hit die.

The idea of leveling balancing out was thrown out nearly immediately and everyone gained levels at the same rate. The end result is that people who could fly and breathe fire and had spell-like abilities easily outshone those that were hoping to make up for it in levels and variety in skills.

"Okay, I try to pick the lock"
"Nah, I'll just break down the door with my 35 STR and fly away with it using my powerful wings"

The same effect can be done with putting low-optimization people who haven't played a system in the same group as high-optimization people who have spent years playing.

lady_arrogance
2012-07-21, 04:40 AM
The same effect can be done with putting low-optimization people who haven't played a system in the same group as high-optimization people who have spent years playing.

On my old group, we had this kind of arrangement but with working results, as most characters were reaching epic levels, and then a new player came along. He wasn't never played any RPG before, and he was lost with all skills and spells and special abilites just when watching others play.

So he and our DM decided that it would be easier to him start with low levels. (I think our first quest with him playing with us was to protect his character from our BBEG's minions).

And he advanced highher levels as soon as he seemed to grasp all his character's powers and skills. So in no time he was even with us.

Radar
2012-07-21, 05:33 AM
As far as I know, Ars Magica is actually build around such a premise, but on the other hand everyone has more then one character to play. The wizards literaly rule the setting, but can't be everywhere and need some trusty servants to do their work more often then not. The typical style of play is vastly different then in D&D for example, so it's hard to compare.

Yora
2012-07-21, 05:33 AM
The problem lies in having rules in which character level makes a big difference on how much chance you have to be successful in a given situation. +3 to hit will have a quite significant impact in the long run, and for example in D&D 3.5e, having 3d6 HD or 6d6 HD are a big difference. Selecting challenges for such groups is really not easy.

In games with a shallower power curve, I don't mind. It can be quite interesting, as long as the characters have clearly different roles. Having a 10th level warrior with sword and shield and a 6th level warrior with sword and axe wouldn't be fun, because both characters would work on the same problems and one always has better results than the other.
Having a 10th level warrior, an 8th level rogue, and a 4th level mage, that would be something very different. Even if the mage would have no chance at fighting the enemies that the warrior and the rogue can beat, but he still adds options to the group that the warrior and rogue simply can't do on their own.

But the system has to be made to not have the basic assumption "you should be level X to fight this creature".

NiteCyper
2012-07-21, 08:43 AM
What I'm wondering is, has anybody tried, or made a habit of, playing in a party where not all characters were at or about the same level? Obviously, from an optimization point, this would be a major sin, and it could introduce roleplay issues- if one character is considerably more or less powerful than others in the group, it lessens what some of the party can do.
Yes and no (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=155140). Artificers can distribute their power.

My 2 cp (A.K.A. honing my Craft (composition) skill):

TL;DR: Higher-power-level players should empower or elude lower-power-level players.

I have officially sunken over 3000 hours into the video-game Borderlands, the forerunning, co-operative, FPS RPG. The replayability of the game lies in its multiplayer aspect, with online capability. By countless iterations, I ironed out and decided that, when playing in lower-power-level players' (LPLPs) games, higher-power-level players (HPLPs) helping the LPLPs by giving them the means of their own success is the best thing to do.

How does one philanthropize? (1) Offering martial back-up appropriately, (2) giving the LPLPs the best equipment that they can use for their level, and (3) offering advice. Option 1 is hard to regulate and boring. The lackluster of option 3 is because it's back-seat gaming, and it's all the more unsatisfactory the less the recipient learns. Donation (option 2) is the best at empowering the LPLPs, because it is as per the intended game experience.

Why the how? The in-game challenges are little puzzle, a lot of action. What puzzles that there are, require sufficient fire-power to complete. Thus, the developer intended for the player to grow in power via XP and levels, and as much as the next top RPG, equipment, rather than knowledge (such as in puzzle games such as the Portal video-game franchise).

Giving XP can only be done by killing stuff for the LPLPs. The LPLPs still gain XP for kills that aren't theirs, but not as much, and it's not much in the first place. I'm not sure how it is compared to D&D 3.5e, where lower-level characters earn more XP. The wording of option 1 (martial back-up) of "appropriately" addresses the risk of overkill, leaving nothing left for LPLPs to kill.

Why gear donation? Firstly, as players rise in level, equipment is regularly recycled and discarded. There is no item customization system, only buying and selling. Secondly, There is no direct way to give money, nor does money immediately equate to power. Good equipment appears by random chance. At the higher levels, money becomes a non-issue. Giving items is the best way to transfer in-game money.

Thirdly and lastly, inventory space is acquired via backpack space storage deck units (SDUs) which are non-tradeable and finite in supply, discouraging hoarding. Item appraisal is difficult, with misleading stats shown. These two facts lead to the all-too-common misthinking, abandonment of, and thus the need for good items, and also creates the need for advice from the experienced.

Why online? Pretty much the only reason left to play alone was to efficiently loot loot that matters to me. However, owning a neat collection of over 1000 spreadsheet-recorded items, I moved to pub-crawling for entertainment.

What means "efficiently loot loot that matters"?

Efficiently as in when raiding the end boss, team-mates, regardless of level, can exacerbate the raid. How?
Enemies are empowered corresponding to players number,
tactics depend on aggro (http://www.wowwiki.com/Aggro) which can obviously differ with more than one possible aggravator,
players who happen to be in the same game as the player who solos the boss, can feel a sense of entitlement to a share of the loot resulting in time-consuming distribution, indignation, and/or worse, theft, and
other players can cancel resetting the instance.

By these consequences combined and if you can solo the end-boss, looting alone is more efficient than with others.


"That matters" as in loot tables are not individualized. E.g., The gear found in an EL 14 game will have an AwesomeLevel (http://forums.gearboxsoftware.com/showthread.php?t=127384) of 14.

Furthermore, the existence of two major item duplication exploits means that playing alone to loot loot that matters to the player is less likely since some of the best gear is now commonplace. Superseding it is difficult. Thus, all the more reason to play online.

The philanthropic play-style can come in a myriad of forms in D&D 3.5e. There are Dragonfire Inspiration Bards, War Weavers, Artificers, Clerics, and more. And whether as from Borderlands, the equivalent is gear or buff spells to give, the fun must come from altruism, for the HPLP.

Tangential material:


Trivium: I've never let myself play WoW and nobody on Borderlands uses the term "aggro", "instance", "raid", etc..


Why not play in a game of similar power-level? The majority of the online population is at a low power-level. Secondly, I play on the OnLive game service which is not popular enough for the critical mass to reach the point where there are enough similar-power-level games going on all of the time, let alone enough similar-power-level games with people that one would want to play with. Thirdly, due to the e pluribus unum source(s) of power, it is impossible to lower one's power level to be at a similar power-level as the lower power-level games that one joins.


I don't use the term "martial glory" rather than "stuff left to kill" (in "Why the how?") because, except to the nave, of the variability in power-level. As a result of the loot lottery, power-level disparity is even heavily noticeable within the same level. The difficulty in judging martial power is compounded by the inherent power of levels (regardless of equipment, e.g., a HPLP can mle attack harder), the nature of "level requirement" (e.g., a level 32 player has access to equipment ranging from level requirement 0-32), character skill strengths, weapon proficiency levels, enemy weaknesses and resistances, and other such combat statistics, evident, hidden, or otherwise.

The Borderlands combat system is beautifully complex with many hidden values. Famously, Gearbox Software forum-goer Scottes conducts statistical analysis across thousands of samples to divine single values, discovering the hidden and rediscovering the phony. It is thus rare to get a good grasp (http://forums.gearboxsoftware.com/showthread.php?t=122564) of it to evaluate and appreciate combat capability across the levels.


And with little-known glitch what I call the character-switch glitch, inventory space is indefinite. The difficulty to donate equipment lies in the hassle of carrying lower-level gear for no reason but to donate, and the range of equipment.

Kholai
2012-07-21, 09:15 AM
Isn't the D20 Tier system exactly this? Even at the same numerical level, the classes just aren't on the same level with one another.

More literally, I was considering exactly this as a means of more accurately realising longer lived races' fluff, so this is something I'm currently thinking about codifying.

Epic 6 games should manage to do this fairly easily, the difference between a level 2, two level 1s and a level 3 is a lot easier to manage than at higher levels, but with a good player / DM group who were careful to keep it under control, this generally should be possible at slightly higher levels.

I believe Burning Wheel has an inherently imbalanced system as its core mechanics, but being weaker gives more opportunities to accumulate Exp/Action point equivalents.

Yora
2012-07-21, 10:19 AM
I'd say at low levels it's even far worse.
A 2nd level barbarian and a 1st level wizard are extremely different when it comes to surviving.
23 hp, Fort +5, and +4 to attack and 1d12+3 damage vs 5 hp, Fort +1, and one magic missile spell per day is worlds appart.

12th level barbarian and 11th level wizard isn't nearly that much of a problem.

Kesnit
2012-07-21, 10:42 AM
It depends a lot on the system, make-up of the party, power disparity, and how the DM/ST handles it.

If there are only a few players and each person has their niche, it can be OK. If you have PCs who are social, but lack combat capability, and others who are combat-ready but couldn't talk their way out of a paper bag, throwing both groups situations where they can shine can work. But if the power disparity is within (say) the combat group, there likely will be a problem. ("OK, I punch him for 1 bashing." "I'm going to slash him with my Protean claws and do 5 aggravated damage...")

Another issue is if most of the players are around 1 power level, and there are a few players at a very different level. Whichever way the power disparity goes, there is a risk the players on the different level will not work. (Either they become a cheering section, or they steamroll everything.)

But IMO, the biggest test is what the rules of the game say you can do. I play both nWoD Vampire and Mage in a LARP game that has been going on for years. (I'm very new to the group, so have much less XP on my sheets.) In Vampire, because powers are limited in scope and are distributed among the clans/bloodlines, I am only really competing against PCs with the same powers as me when I want to pull off my tricks. Sure, my pulls will likely be low, but I can do SOMETHING. Skills are also important because powers are so clearly defined (for the most part).

Contrast Mage, where any PC could learn any power, and where powers are a lot better than skills. I quickly realized that my PC was outclassed. (What is the point of using my high INT and Academics skills to try to learn something about a writing, when another PC and just touch the paper and see back through time to see where the paper has been? And another PC can touch the paper and see everyone who has ties to that paper?)

Totally Guy
2012-07-21, 12:02 PM
Mouse Guard's character creation asks you to choose your rank within the guard. It goes from Patrol Guard who are grizzled and experienced to tenderpaw who have far fewer skills and poor starting Will. You each choose rank you want to play with.

The game is about personal sacrifice and finding out how far you go for what you fight for. Characters of any level can interact with this theme.

Jay R
2012-07-21, 12:16 PM
My comments are based on the earlier games - OD&D, &AD&D 1e and 2E. They may not be applicable to later versions.

First of all, my mind is the same whether I'm playing a first or fifteenth level character. In a game in which there are political intrigues or puzzles to work through, I think I could be quite valuable at any level, even if I hid during the combat until I got closer in level to the rest of the party.

I would hope that my lower-level character still had some abilities that the party needed. I could see playing the 4th level thief is a higher level party, because I'd still be the one detecting traps and opening locks.

I would be comfortable playing the fifth-level wizard traveling with tenth level fighter types. In fact, I think that would be a solid party. The wizard's supposed to stay in the back and not get hit anyway.

Also, I've often had followers or henchmen, which means that unbalanced parties are fairly common. But the lower-level henchmen don't have a player ego to get annoyed when they are told to stay out of the fight.

As long as there are challenges for the players, not just a series of CR-based fights and die-rolling challenges, it should work OK. (Based on what people tell me about the more recent versions, it would work much better in the old ones than the newer ones.)

But the lower level characters should be played by confident players, because it would be a greater challenge.

NiteCyper
2012-07-21, 12:17 PM
Mouse Guard's character creation asks you to choose your rank within the guard. It goes from Patrol Guard who are grizzled and experienced to tenderpaw who have far fewer skills and poor starting Will. You each choose rank you want to play with.
Reminds me of point buy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_gameplay#Determining_ability_ scores).



The game is about personal sacrifice and finding out how far you go for what you fight for. Characters of any level can interact with this theme.
Not to imply that not "characters of any level can interact with [the] theme" of:

a game of your imagination in which you participate in thrilling adventures and dangerous quests by taking on the role of a hero
..?

Nevermind; I was thinking in the wrong context. I'm too D&D 3.5e-centric.

Totally Guy
2012-07-21, 12:51 PM
Sounds like point buy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_gameplay#Determining_ability_ scores).

It is effectively an elaborate point buy. The lower ranking mice have fewer points to buy with.

What's the second question?

Kholai
2012-07-21, 01:51 PM
...

Sleep. The level 1 wizard is still a capable game changer a few times a day, and will rapidly reach level 2, whilst being more likely to survive, because their barbarian friend will be better at defending them.

By level 11 the Wizard is a bit more survivable, but you're right, there shouldn't be any trouble with the two playing together. Since it's not a competitive game, so long as you bring something different to the table, level can be worked around.

lunar2
2012-07-23, 11:34 AM
this reminds me of 1 3.5 campaign i played in. there were 10 characters in the party (i ran between 5 and 8 of them, depending on who among the other 2 players showed up), ranging in ECL from 7 to 21. at the low end were the 2 rogues, who had a terrible time (multiple deaths, multiple raise deads)with a wail of the banshee trap the DM refused to allow us to bypass (the door won't open until the trap is disabled, the wall is indestructible, dispel magic is useless, etc.), at the high end was a juvenile silver dragon (actually a transformed halfling). we also had a stone giant fighter, a lizardfolk druid, a human cleric, and some other stuff.

kyoryu
2012-07-23, 01:03 PM
What I'm wondering is, has anybody tried, or made a habit of, playing in a party where not all characters were at or about the same level? Obviously, from an optimization point, this would be a major sin, and it could introduce roleplay issues- if one character is considerably more or less powerful than others in the group, it lessens what some of the party can do. Nobody wants to play "Those guys who follow the Almighty Terrence around while he effortlessly slaughters monsters that would be a moderate challenge for the rest of us," or "That guy who cowers in the corner whilst his party fights monsters that could kill him with a casual glance."

I've played in a paleo game that went like this. It can work, but it's not a great style of play for players that want to feel like they're special unique snowflakes.

It also works better in campaigns more like old-school ones, where you might have multiple characters, and you choose which one you play on a given day. The difference in power between levels is also a factor, of course.


It is effectively an elaborate point buy. The lower ranking mice have fewer points to buy with.

What's the second question?

For Burning Wheel, at any rate, the difference between it and most traditional point buy systems is that by choosing your background (rank in MG, I guess), you get to choose the number of points you start with.

A noble character in BW will end up with more money and more skills than a peasant. Period. In addition, they get whatever privilege comes from being a noble.

In contrast, you can be a noble in GURPS, but doing so costs you points to buy Status - meaning that the peasant would have more points to spend on skills/etc.


Not to imply that not "characters of any level can interact with [the] theme" of:


BW and MG are more about the beliefs your characters hold, and how they interact with the party and the world. In my current BW game, the characters are investigating a corrupted grove. Turns out it's corrupted as it's a place where reality is thinner, and so there's a mage using the area for experiments.

One character in the group has the Belief that she must cleanse this grove. Another one has the Belief that he must pursue magical power at every opportunity - and the mage has offered to teach this character.

This is a kind of neat thing that can come up in D&D, but it's precisely the kind of thing that BW is designed to deliberately engage. The second character gains nothing from defeating this mage - but gains not only in character, but the equivalent of Fate Points for protecting him and learning from him. The other character is in the exact opposite boat.

Knaight
2012-07-24, 04:26 AM
Playing at different power levels is normal for me, though I'd consider d20 systems a really bad choice for this. It tends to work best with troupe play, where this is one of several varieties going on. To use a military space opera example - say each player has one extremely powerful character, a knight type in powered armor with access to cash, influence in society, so on and so forth. They also have a few more minor characters, maybe some soldiers, some scientists, a pilot, some civilians who got caught up in war, etc. Then, at the very bottom there are characters that are basically useless, but potentially really fun to play. This can handle a wide variety in one campaign, where sometimes someone is playing the soldier overawed by the walking tank next to them, sometimes they are playing a minor doctor in charge of a group of nearly worthless people trying to stay out of trouble and way over their head in the completely mundane, and very occasionally everyone breaks out their big characters at once and plays a bunch of badasses demonstrating their skills, or deep within political intrigue, or whatever.

Dimers
2012-07-24, 12:44 PM
I'm in a 3.5 group with levels ranging from 10 to 15. The DM has a lot of hassle trying to make combats that work for us at all, never mind ones that are also believable enough to not ruin anyone's suspension of disbelief. The problem is exacerbated by the highest-level character being a bit of a CoDzilla, two of the three lowest being melee warriors (and entering the game way below WBL, too), and all the players having different levels of op-fu. He does an outstanding job with this problem (meaning that we get an acceptable level of challenge overall most of the time), but at the expense of his free time and occasionally his hair.

It's not outstandingly fun for the players, either. If they want to contribute much to the game, the lower-level characters have to be optimized, which is hard work and isn't necessarily the kind of game they're looking for. And the high-level characters have to keep themselves in check and aren't often as challenged as they could be if everyone were on the same level.

Still, with the differences between various classes' power levels and between players' op-fu, 3.5 isn't particularly balanced anyway. And playing different degrees of power can help verisimilitude. I wouldn't recommend it using 3.X, but if you happen to want to try, here's a possible solution. Start the game with everyone at the same table discussing the party's power dynamics, and let them split up a pool of bonus XP/levels/resources however they might agree to. Each player having a role or specialty in mind might help too.

Dr Bwaa
2012-07-24, 01:11 PM
I've had D&D campaigns in both paradigms (that is, where everyone stays pretty much the same level one way or another, or where levels get quite spread out through the party). I've had both work out very well, or not so well. The second case comes around more often, in my experience, in a game where resurrections are, if not commonplace, at least accessible--this can easily end up with party members falling a level or two behind.

The main factors contributing to whether a game with spread-out levels succeeds, IMO, are (1) the amount of work the DM is willing to do to create encounters that will be challenging for the high-levels yet not overpowering for the low-levels. This can take quite a bit of work, but may be facilitated somewhat by (2) the willingness of the PCs to recognize their own limitations and play smart. This means giving the weaker party members tasks that play to their strengths, etc etc. Good roleplaying tends to help this (you just got back from the dead; maybe you should take it easy), and can make the level difference just another fun part of the campaign if done right.

Thialfi
2012-07-24, 02:19 PM
My group has been playing AD&D for 32 years now and the only time a character was created that was not first level was when we were running Dark Sun that specifically starts all characters at 3rd level.

So, it is fairly safe to say that we have lots of experience with unbalanced campaigns. We usually create some mechanic where the new character starts in a support role, crew member on a ship, new apprentice for the mage, squire, hired hand, acolyte, what have you. So I guess they would be looked upon as role models for the new characters to aspire to usually.

It actually isn't that tough for a DM to run. You just have to make allowances for mass spells and fighting creatures in numbers that would overrun group defenses.

NiteCyper
2012-07-28, 01:11 AM
"BW" is Burning Wheel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burning_Wheel), and "MG" is Mouse Guard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouse_Guard).


BW and MG are more about the beliefs your characters hold, and how they interact with the party and the world. In my current BW game, the characters are investigating a corrupted grove. Turns out it's corrupted as it's a place where reality is thinner, and so there's a mage using the area for experiments.

One character in the group has the Belief that she must cleanse this grove. Another one has the Belief that he must pursue magical power at every opportunity - and the mage has offered to teach this character.

This is a kind of neat thing that can come up in D&D, but it's precisely the kind of thing that BW is designed to deliberately engage. The second character gains nothing from defeating this mage - but gains not only in character, but the equivalent of Fate Points for protecting him and learning from him. The other character is in the exact opposite boat.

I don't think that we're on the same page: The only mention of disparity in power was that "the mage has offered to teach [another] character" implying greater knowledge to impart as having greater power. You said that difference of personal goals (but not necessarily power) "can come up in D&D, but it's precisely the kind of thing that BW is designed to deliberately engage." I don't see how all of that applies to playing at different (power) levels, but whatever.


He does an outstanding job with this problem (meaning that we get an acceptable level of challenge overall most of the time), but at the expense of his free time and occasionally his hair.

Hail Dimers's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#General_principles_for_the_possessive_a postrophe) DM.

Siegel
2012-07-31, 03:35 PM
In Burning Wheel you can play an escaped Slave turned Apiarist and a Noble Knight together in one game and it will work (if played right). One will vastly outshine the other in a lot of areas but both are perfectly playable next to each other.

Altair_the_Vexed
2012-07-31, 04:28 PM
In the few Star Wars games I ran, I tended to have players run other PC's mentors for a few sessions while we concentrated on the training of Jedi. Obviously, those mentors are much higher level.

Of course, in SW, it's relatively easy to have one plot and set of threats for the force-users to deal with and another for the mundane characters to deal with (see RotJ, with Luke's confrontation with the Emperor while the Battle of Endor is going on).
I ran a series of sessions where we switched action between the jedi chasing a sith, the commandos shutting down a shield generator, and the star fighters assaulting the enemy fleet. Spare players ran heroic extras for those different scenes.
Of course, by the end of the scenario, I had all the PCs going for the same goal, all together as a big awesome team. And all the extras were dead of unable to help - the PC's heroes need to shine, see.

NiteCyper
2012-07-31, 05:38 PM
In Burning Wheel you can play an escaped Slave turned Apiarist and a Noble Knight together in one game and it will work (if played right). One will vastly outshine the other in a lot of areas but both are perfectly playable next to each other.


Is "an escaped Slave turned Apiarist" like, a thing (in BW)?
Areas being things involving bees?

Knaight
2012-07-31, 06:03 PM
Is "an escaped Slave turned Apiarist" like, a thing (in BW)?
Areas being things involving bees?


Yes.
Yes, but on the other side you have basically everything else.

Remmirath
2012-08-01, 12:22 AM
In the current long-running D&D game I'm a part of, the PCs range from somewhere around fifty-fifth level to seventieth level. I'll make no implications that it's a usual game, however; the three of us all play somewhere between ten and fourty characters a piece (depending on how much death has befallen them recently). It works, and it works well, but it isn't usual, and that great a range of levels with less characters or possibly more players might well not work. This game is also very roleplaying heavy (as well as combat heavy, of course).

In other games I've DMed, I've typically ended up with a one or two level variation, because I refuse to bring new characters in at the exact same level as the old ones; it always feels a bit cheap to me. The difference between base of sixth and almost eighth isn't particularly great, though, and I've never had a problem with it.

The first time that my usual group played MERP we brought every new character in at first, and that didn't work - so there is certainly a point where it doesn't work. First and tenth are just too different, and really only the fifth and up characters had any chance then. That's the only time I've found it to not work, though; the difference between very low level and low-mid level is too extreme.

elizasteave
2012-08-01, 12:39 AM
I haven't come up to that level, where all the characters are at the same level. Other than that I really hate the situation where you are fighting hard to save the lives and the other character is just taking the cover so that he may save himself from getting killed instead of helping his partner.

TheOOB
2012-08-01, 02:18 AM
For the question on if you should have PC's start at different levels, my answer in short is no. In long it's NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Before doing it, ask yourself a serious question, what does making the characters a different power level do good for a game that you can't do with the characters the same level.

Apart from the obvious fact that you make anger your players(making powerful players bored, weak players feel useless), you also ruin the balance of the system and make it near impossible to provide decent encounters.

For a system like D&D, the game is the combat, and your level is a measure of how well you fight. Making someone worse at combat is making them worse at D&D.

Here's a suggestion, play a game system that doesn't use levels per say, like Legend of the Five Rings or New World of Darkness. That way you can have characters with different focuses who feel very different. One character might be weaker in combat than another, but they make up for it in other areas.

Siegel
2012-08-01, 08:41 AM
Is "an escaped Slave turned Apiarist" like, a thing (in BW)?
Areas being things involving bees?


Lifepaths Escpabed Slave turned Apiarist (actually not that bad now that i have thrown together some quick stuff)

Born Slave, Servant (Servitude), Beggar, Apiarist

Skills: Carpentry B2, City Guard-Wise B2, City-Wise B2, Falsehood B2, Inconspicuous B2, Insect Husbandry B2, Observation B2, Persuasion B4, Slavery-Wise B3, Soothing Platitudes B2, Stealthy B1, Wealth-Wise B2
(ignore the B(ee)s)

Now the knight

Lifepaths: Born Noble, Page, Squire, Knight
Skills: Armor Training, Armorer B5, Brawling B2, Conspicuous B2, Crossbow B4, Estate Management B2, Etiquette B2, Falconry B3, Intimidation B4, Knives B2, Lance B5, Mounted Combat Training, Read B2, Riding B2, Sword B4, Write B2

kyoryu
2012-08-01, 12:01 PM
Is "an escaped Slave turned Apiarist" like, a thing (in BW)?


It's a "thing" in the sense that, yes, you can be one. It's not a "thing" as in being some major trope within the players of BW.