Leveling and Time

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Leveling and Time

Postby tarnishedarmour » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:49 pm

That magical noise happens, the players press "start" and begin selecting stats to increase, talents to learn, and weapons to suddenly know how to use better...

I know that this is the more traditional way to handle leveling even with pen and paper though the reference is more video game-esque, but I have an idea of requiring down-time for leveling to help explain working on a stat to increase training to learn a talent or weapon group.

I know that as a GM I can just do it, but I'm hoping for some input from other GMs on here. Good idea, bad idea? Set amount of time between levels, adjustable, tiered?

Right now I'm of the mind to use the tiered system of levels 1-5: 6 months at leveling, meaning 2 years (since you start at level 1) plus adventuring time at level 5; and levels 6-10: 1 year at leveling, meaning 5 more years plus adventuring time. Still torn on whether or not to increase this for levels 11-20, but am reserving since I don't need it just yet AND Set 3 has not yet released... so simply academic at this point.

My main reason for doing this is to allow myself, as a game master, to have the world change, evolve, and react to the happenings (and actions of the players) at a more natural pace, instead of the rushed feel I get now. Also has the added benefit of reinforcing interaction with the local communities they pass through as they may spend more time there between adventures. After all if leads towards great treasure poped up every few days, everyone would do it, wouldn't they?

This also brings up a side though of having occupations, professions, and in one case public office based on the character's skill set that they would earn from during this downtime.

The down-side being a period of non-player control which could be argued over whether or not their characters would do something, which I tend to curb with short player-created narratives fueled by me-inspired events.

Anyhow... thoughts?
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby si1vergecko » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:26 pm

I am not sure I completely agree to have time pass between levels per say but having time pass in general, especially between adventures and see the world grow and change around them is always awesome.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby shonuff » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:41 pm

That seems to be an awful lot of time spent training, imo. Especially if the level-up occurs mid-adventure.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Pytorb » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:41 pm

I think having a minimum of 6 months between level rises might be a bit too restrictive for both the players and the stories the the GM wishes them to play.

However some things are moderately logical to increase mid-adventure such as (and this is by no means a exhaustive list) stats, Health and Mana and a frequently used stunt suddenly becoming cheaper as they are the kind of things that could be stretched during the adventure. Other things like a new spell, new weapon group, new specialisation might need a bit of down time to fully practice and cement ideas that were coming together mid adventure.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby orcface999 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:34 pm

For myself, 6 months would be too much. I intend to let characters increase in stats plus anything that would be a natural increase from use. Any new facets of their character will require a mentor or trainer to complete the process.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby tarnishedarmour » Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:24 pm

shonuff wrote:That seems to be an awful lot of time spent training, imo. Especially if the level-up occurs mid-adventure.


I never allow level-ups mid-adventure. Guess i should have mentioned that. i am very much against "ding" leveling.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Sharsek » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:50 am

I consider "leveling" as a continuous improvement. PCs slowly get better every time they gain XP, and they train and study in the downtime between or during the adventures. When they get enough XP, their experiences are reflected in a "ding" level. I think the actual improvements are concentrated in discrete moments to simplify the game.

OTOH, if I need, for campaign purpose, to have a lot of time to pass, I simply tell that to my players and ask what their characters want to do during that time.

Just my 2 cents.
Last edited by Sharsek on Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby shonuff » Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:22 am

tarnishedarmour wrote:
shonuff wrote:That seems to be an awful lot of time spent training, imo. Especially if the level-up occurs mid-adventure.


I never allow level-ups mid-adventure. Guess i should have mentioned that. i am very much against "ding" leveling.


I think I was unclear. I meant more along the lines of in the middle of a series of quests (eg they've stopped the henchman from murdering everyone in Denerim, but now they are to supposed to find his boss). I guess it keeps the campaign slower-paced, which if you want a slower-paced campaign is fine.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby tarnishedarmour » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:04 am

I kind of get the general consensus is if I'm going to do it to keep it unstructured. Fair enough, that's why I was asking instead of just doing. Thanks guys (and gals?).

I do intend to occasionally do a longer break from time to time but without absolute connection to leveling it allows the campaign to be more dynamic and less rigid.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Giorgio » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:59 am

For my own campaign I intend to use a hybrid approach of the PCs learning on their own and getting better at what the already know (with auto increases of HP, Mana, existing skills) and having to find a teacher to learn new skills, talents, spells and weapon groups. I do this both for immersion (they just don’t “ding” and learn new stuff out of the blue) and so I can tie high level NPCs, organizations and plot hooks into the game.

It also helps me figure out the distribution curve of levels for the NPCs. Where do the levels 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20 level people go to train, make friends, pool resources, accomplish things together (or against), conquer territory, gain wealth, influence society, and make their marks in the world? (A lot of this is in the early planning stage until I get Set 3.)

Until I learn otherwise (it’s been almost 2 months since I have read ANYTHING DARPG related, due to work and family; just started reading again today), I will use the Pathfinder RPG training rules as a guideline for my own game to determine training time and cost.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby rschweik » Wed May 09, 2012 5:34 pm

I read this forum topic and was pondering something that is not mentioned. As people have mentioned, the xp needed to level increases per level, which can lead to player frustration. I thought of a way to offset that tedium during each level.

4 things change during level advancement: an increase in Health, an increase in ability score, gaining a new focus, and class powers. Rather than have players wait to gain a totality of required xp, I was thinking of a way to, hopefully, keep player interest by having players gain 1 of the 4 player character adjustments occur per each quarter of needed xp. For example, between level 1 and 2, 2000xp is needed, and at each increment of 500xp gained, a player would be able to gain one player character alteration.
For example, Suzy gained 500+xp on her way to level 2 and she decided to increase an ability score by 1 because her character did well in combat, while Max decided to increase his character's health because his Mage came close to dying several times. In this way, the player character shows improvement throughout the leveling process, rather than all at once having a PC gain all 4 changes occur at once which is rather illogical, and the player feels that he has accomplished something with his character while playing the game.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby tarnishedarmour » Wed May 09, 2012 6:16 pm

I thought about "micro-leveling" before. Something akin to, I hate to admit innovation from this source but..., DDO.
Right now I'm playtesting the free form rules, but I'd be very interested in trying out something along the lines of your idea if you elaborated on it, or maybe willing to work on it myself after a few more months in to this campaign and able to play around a bit more.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Deirain » Wed May 09, 2012 6:29 pm

Rschweik, the system you're proposing works very similar to the Savage Worlds system by Pinnacle Gaming. Instead of "levels", they have a rank system. The experience points, while considerably less than Dragon Age, work on a similar mechanic of how much the players complete during the session or how hard the overall session was instead of the d20 system of xp based on challenge rating. Anyway, the breakdown is, it takes 20 experience points to hit the next rank for your character. But, after each 5 experience points gained, you get access to an advancement. Advancements can be literally anything that your character has the ability to improve: skills, attributes, new feats/edges/class abilities (or whatever else you want to call them). I've noticed in the times that I've run the system for players, it constantly gives them something to look forward to and requires them to spend much more time deciding how to build the character instead of worrying about it only when they're 100xp away from the next level. On average, it takes between 2 and 3 sessions for characters to gain an advancement than the 5-6 sessions it normally takes for a level based system.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby rschweik » Wed May 09, 2012 7:00 pm

thanks for the input. I don't really play Any rpgs, at all :(, so I don't know about other systems, except for listening to podcasts, although, really, I'd rather not be a fish, and as you know, all the monkeys aren't in the zoo. Unsure about that whole skype thing as well.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Deirain » Wed May 09, 2012 7:11 pm

In regards to the question of levels and time, I have two systems that I've used that both work very well for me and were well received by my players.

The first system is based around something WotC published in either 3rd Edition or 3.5 that allows players immediately increases in hit points and base saves. I tweaked it to the Age System to allow players immediate increases to hit points and mana (if mages), a maximum of 1 week of training per ability point, and a flat two weeks of training to learn a new focus or weapon group and class benefits. As an example, let's say character A has a 4 to Strength, and wants to increase it to 5, while learning the Axes focus. The ability increase would take a maximum of 5 weeks, with the chance to decrease time based on an advanced test. I set the TN at 14 with a success threshold of 10, giving the player the opportunity to complete his training in a mere two weeks instead of the full five. So, if his dice like him and he rolls high enough on the Dragon Die, in two weeks, the character could come away with a Strength increase, the Axes focus, and his class benefits.

The second system uses no rolling whatsoever and relies solely on roleplay, with bonus experience given for players that immerse themselves in the character and dedicate time to training in-game without prompting from the GM. Characters A and B both just hit level 5. Character A has been spending his downtime in-game to research combat techniques and training with willing NPCs, even going so far as to ask me if he can treat training with the local guard as a combat scenario and throw some dice while he does it. Character B, on the other hand, has relied solely on me to explain what is going on during his character's downtime. At the end of the session, Character A, having immersed himself in his character, has met a few NPCs, spent some time reading stories of fabled battles and legendary generals from Thedas' past, and generally just roleplayed like a champ. While Character B has sat idly by waiting for the next time I ask him to roll his dice. Character A is getting 200 bonus xp, while Character B isn't. After a few sessions like that, Character B catches on and starts spending more time roleplaying and less time "rollplaying".

On a moderately related note, I'll also share how I treat Specializations and the learning thereof. I've combined both systems in setting a minimum and maximum amount of time necessary to unlock the specialization while also tailoring the training and related quests specifically to the character involved and the specialization itself. Character A is interested in the Duelist Specialization, his character is currently in Rivain, spending time at a famous martial arts school learning the ins-and-outs of Duelist while becoming embroiled in a heated rivalry between his school and another school that will culminate with him dueling an NPC from the rival school in an effort to finally prove which school is superior. Character B, on the other hand, is currently bouncing between a traveling caravan of Dalish Elves, a group of Avvarian Hillsman, and a certain bard with a shiny crossbow, piecing together a combat style that will develop into the Marksman Specialization from the Set 3 Playtest. The character is combining all of the things he is learning about marksmanship with his training as an Antivan Crow in the hopes that it will make him an excellent sniper with a penchant for assassinations.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Bardwulf » Thu May 10, 2012 3:02 am

I don't like it. The stat upgrades and focus system is all so minimal ans bland already that i would not do it. Especially so as my group is trying to be part of happenings in this blight yet thr warden ended it REALLY fast.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby 5trangeCase » Thu May 10, 2012 7:09 am

Bardwulf wrote:I don't like it. The stat upgrades and focus system is all so minimal ans bland already that i would not do it. Especially so as my group is trying to be part of happenings in this blight yet thr warden ended it REALLY fast.


Actually apparently it took 2 years.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Scion of Haven » Thu May 10, 2012 8:39 am

5trangeCase wrote:
Actually apparently it took 2 years.


In Dragon Age 2 they say it happened in a year. It's over by the time you reach Act 1, and Anders joins your party, a year after you left Fereldin.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby 5trangeCase » Thu May 10, 2012 10:26 am

Scion of Haven wrote:
5trangeCase wrote:
Actually apparently it took 2 years.


In Dragon Age 2 they say it happened in a year. It's over by the time you reach Act 1, and Anders joins your party, a year after you left Fereldin.


To be fair, it happened a year after they reached Kirkwall. How, and how long it took them to get there is unclear. They had to travel the length of Ferelden and then some, so one would imagine it took them a while.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby shonuff » Thu May 10, 2012 2:01 pm

Anders doesn't quite fit in the DA timeline. Origins takes 1 1/2-2 years, and IIRC, Awakenings is 6 months after the end of Origins. The fall of Lothering is a month after Ostagar, so that leaves no time for Anders to get to Kirkwall (especially if he were to stay with the Wardens for a while and become established in Kirkwall).
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Lynata » Fri May 11, 2012 6:38 am

Personally, I'm fond of the "downtime" concept - but only if it occurs between adventures, and if it doesn't become too long. Other than that, it's a neat idea to stretch the timeframe and thus lessen the impact that level-ups have in terms of strengthening a character.

Whilst you'd still have multiple level-ups in the first one or two adventures, it is my understanding that the increase in XP necessary to level means that the characters may only advance by 1 level per adventure later on, if at all?

As for alternate systems, I'm still fond of how the German DSA (Das Schwarze Auge, or The Dark Eye in its English export version) handles it - by simply having the players spend their XP directly and purchasing increases in attributes or talents or skills as soon as they have accumulated enough experience. With the caveat that the players must have actually done something that warrants them getting better at it, of course (learning completely new things that you couldn't possibly figure out by yourself would occur in downtime by the PCs visiting a trainer or studying books).
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby shonuff » Fri May 11, 2012 11:02 am

Lynata wrote:Personally, I'm fond of the "downtime" concept - but only if it occurs between adventures, and if it doesn't become too long. Other than that, it's a neat idea to stretch the timeframe and thus lessen the impact that level-ups have in terms of strengthening a character.


Right. It should take some time to level, but if it stretches into longer periods of time, it can have detriment IMO on group dynamic. If it takes months to level, and characters are leveling at different increments, then that downtime will have to be factored in between quests/adventures. And some quest-lines generally have a quicker turn-around, and then you have one PC needing to do something and another wanting to level up.
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Re: Leveling and Time

Postby Bardwulf » Sat May 12, 2012 3:14 am

Another idea you could go with is having the party all level up at different points within an adventure. Especially useful if it's one that is too hard for them. Once they have the exp needed but are not yet finished to be able to level afterwards, you could have the highest cunning one level first ahead of the rest and then the others drip through based on their cunning.
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