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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Conradine's Avatar

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    Default An attempt at verisimilitude: discussion on NPC levels

    Premise: I know D&D 3.5 is just a game. I know it was not intended to be "realistic". Indeed , realism in a fantasy game is impossible, the only thing that can be achieved is verisimilitude, internal coherence.

    I found some high to mid level NPC totally implausible. For example, Trendan Resh ( Book of Vile Darkness ), Fighter 2 / Rogue 4 is described as "cowardly, lazy and crude" yet he has several PC class levels. He always lived in the same city, according to description, so he never went adventuring. He targets drunk, defenseless people with the aid of his small band of thugs. Basically he never faces serious challenges, and he lacks - according to his background - the bravery to take risks ( "cowardly" ), the will to train hard ( "lazy" ) and the intelligence to understand the value of self improvement ( "crude" ).
    I think it's safe to say giving him 6 pc levels is a mistake.

    I found more plausible examples.
    In the Age of Worms campaign, common militiamen are level 1 Warrior, hardened militia level 2, elite militia lv 3, lieutenants around 4-5.
    In the old expansion Sword and Fist, typical acolyte monk are level 1 while the typical master is level 6 ( Adept 3 / Monk 3 ) ( and old ).


    So... some food for thought.

    What is the difference in mindset between a level 1 npc, a level 3, and a level 6?
    What is the difference in mindset between a Fighter and a Warrior?
    How much does a level 1 train, and how long? And a level 3? A level 6?

    What is the "limit" of an average person?
    " Death is a disease! It's like any other... there's a cure. A cure! And I will find it. "
    - Tom Creo, The Fountain



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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: An attempt at verisimilitude: discussion on NPC levels

    While I agree six PC levels is high for somebody described as lazy, cowardly and crude, some people don't seek out challenges, life forces them upon them. If he was born into an extremely harsh and violent world, he might have accumulated that much experience just by trying to survive.

    As for the highest normal person, it says in the DMG somewhere (AFB right now) that most people never get past level 2 or 3, so I guess level 3 is the default ceiling for 'normal'.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kyrell1978's Avatar

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    Default Re: An attempt at verisimilitude: discussion on NPC levels

    I'd add that the cowardliness and laziness could also be traits developed after attaining a position of some power. He may have once had ambition (ie to lead his band of thugs) and attained that. The cowardice could be due to the fact that he is unwilling to risk this newfound power and the laziness could grow from his being in a position in which he does not actually have to perform any tasks himself. Just a thought.
    We came to wreck everything, and ruin your life.....God sent us.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Conradine's Avatar

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    Default Re: An attempt at verisimilitude: discussion on NPC levels

    Making an attempt at verisimilitude and ignoring completely plot necessities, I would say that reaching higher level as non-adventurer involves several factors.

    1- the most important is probably generic "talent"... and that cannot be acquired. It's the difference between "normal" npc and both pc and plot-important npc.

    2- the second most important factor is, in my opinion, how much driven is the character. If he lacks the will, the ambition to improve, he will probably gain level only by pure necessity ( or he will be overwhelmed by those necessities ) and only in NPC classes, since according to DMG the NPC classes represent people who don't undergo hard training ( with the possible exception of experts and mabye aristocrats ).

    3- almost as important as drive is passion. Everyone experienced that: those things we like and find interesting are learned and remembered much more easily than those who feel boring. A character who manages to find a work / occupation / field of study that he loves will almost inevitally grow faster than one which is forced into something he dislikes.

    4- the fourth factor, probably, the presence of an instructor. Being self taught is much harder than following the indications of an expert ( altough I would say that there is always a portion of self-teaching in any learning process ).
    Mabye a good library can partially replace an instructor. The best would be having both.

    5- a fifth factor that enters in play only on the long term is character's health. As soon as 35 the body starts to become more fragile, less flexible and the need for rest increase - and that under the best possible conditions ( let's not forget how short was life before the advent of modern medicine ). That makes self improvement harder
    , both mental and physical.
    A sober life ( no alchohol, no drugs, no overindulgence ) and following the advice of a competent herbalist ( or even better, druid ) may mitigate the problem. Training also slow down the aging process, even at cellular level.
    " Death is a disease! It's like any other... there's a cure. A cure! And I will find it. "
    - Tom Creo, The Fountain



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