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    Canonfire :: View topic - class level limits for demi-humans
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    class level limits for demi-humans
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 12, 2002
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    Tue Apr 13, 2004 3:18 pm  
    class level limits for demi-humans

    Does anyone have a rational explanation for the level limits imposed on demi-humans (at least in 1e and 2e)? It just doesn't make sense to me that an elven mage that lives for 5-600+ years can't equal a 60 year old human in magical training and experience.

    You'd think there'd be at least one elven mage in Celene or the Vesve that could match Mordenkainen, Rary and Philidor in magical ability.

    Sorry for the generic topic, but it's been bothering me.

    Thanks! -Lefto
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    From: Rel Astra

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    Tue Apr 13, 2004 6:19 pm  

    It's a PHB house rule, just discard it if you so please. Wink

    I doubt many people use it.
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 20, 2002
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    Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:55 am  

    I think it was put in as a balance to offset the special racial abilities factor, otherwise no one would play a human, why bother when you can be a demi-human and live longer and get lots of twiddly extra abilities?

    Another odd rule, again I believe put in for the same reason, is that only humans can dual-class.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:40 pm  

    Thanks for the response, I figured the rule was arbitrary. I think a better approach to balance would have been to more severely limit demi-human races in certain ability scores, but I suppose the train has left the station on this.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:28 pm  

    I always hated the level limitation rules. They never made any sense to me so what I did is use the 2nd Ed optional rule., and modified it a little. Basically I came up with the following.

    All demihumans use the standard level maximums in Anearth Arcana. When they reached the maximum all ex requirements were doubled.

    Te reasoning behind that is most demihumans do live for such a long time that there would come a point when there focus would move of there chosen carrer from time to time. This rule still gave human characters an advantage in getting the higher levels quicker but an Elven mage for example could still reach those higher levels.
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 03, 2002
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    From: Kingston, ON

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    Thu Apr 22, 2004 4:14 am  

    The 'gaming life' of a demi-human when adventuring with human characters is a very short span of their lives. If characters start out at low levels, you have to assume the demi-human is equally young and just beginning his chosen profession.

    I allow demi-humans to advance equally with humans as most campaigns I have played in end at around 12th level with 15th being an absolute maximum (playing 1e/2e rules). It is assumed the characters retire at this time and follow their own paths.

    The demi-human characters, particularily elves, are still very young by their standards and can continue in their studies or pursue other paths. I limit NPC levels across my campaign to a maximum of 18 to 20. This is the absolute limit to the knowledge or skill a character can possess. You are just as like to find an 18th-level elven wizard as a human one.

    Demi-human NPCs rarely stay in one profession for life. By human standards, they may spend a lifetime doing one thing, but in their years, they usually switch pursuits from their profession, to a craft, to travelling the land, to spiritual discovery.
    CF Admin

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    From: Rel Astra

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    Thu Apr 22, 2004 6:15 am  

    I don't use level limits of any kind, but I think the highest NPC I've ever had or seen was Gwydiesin.

    Concerning PC levels, we've never had one make it to 10th level before and very few have made it to the 8th-9th level range, so I don't have to worry about it.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Apr 24, 2004 9:22 pm  

    The DH level restrictions were typical of the "humanocentric" focus of 1st edition. They are particularly silly when you consider that dwarves were *unlimited* as thieves but limited as fighters.

    In my campaign I justified the level limits by saying that the classes given in the rules were essentially human classes. Then I made up 3-5 classes each for the other races, in which they had unlimited advancement. An example of this, the Arathalian class for elves, can be found here on CF.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun May 16, 2004 8:21 pm  

    Yes, level limits were done for game balance but such an arbitrary ruling is bad game design.

    At least in 3E, this has been fixed but there is now new problems.

    For example, an elf starts off in the game at 110 years of age yet has less skill points and feats than a human. Now, some say this is because elves "develop" slower. Granted, but if this were true then their progression from 1st level would advance at a snail's pace. This is not the case, however. Elves advance just as quickly as their fellow human adventures.

    Someone might then reply: "Oh, they develop slower but when they get to 110 years of age their mental development is the same as a human's". Granted, but if this were the case then you'd have epic level elves all over the place. They'd still be in the prime of life while their fellow human adventures have succumed to age. If a human is 60 years old and a 20th level character, does this mean an elf who is 240 years old is a 40th, 50th or 60th level character?

    Someone then might say: "Oh, but elves leave for the mystical elvish realms when they reach epic level". This could be a good explanation.

    Can someone help me explain some of this? My players want answers!
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: May 13, 2004
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    Mon May 17, 2004 6:36 am  

    Here's the explaination I've arrived at, be it right or wrong. Wink Taking the elvish level limits for example. We simply assume that elves are such long lived beings that they are free to take a much longer time at figuring things out than a human might. Since they have several centuries ahead of them it could be possible that they simply do not live their lives in the hurried way a human might, as a typical human only has sixty, seventy years to accomplish their life goals as an elf has 4/500 years.

    That still doesn't quite explain why an elf might suddenly be at his level limit while the rest of an adventuring party of human companions would still be charging on gaining XP when they've only been adventuring for say, ten years. And because of that reason, I know many people that play 1e 2e disregard the racial level limit restrictions.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon May 17, 2004 6:44 pm  

    Baggins wrote:


    Someone might then reply: "Oh, they develop slower but when they get to 110 years of age their mental development is the same as a human's". Granted, but if this were the case then you'd have epic level elves all over the place. They'd still be in the prime of life while their fellow human adventures have succumed to age....!


    You're assuming that the elves keep adventuring over their entire lives - inactive characters gain levels alot slower than actively adventuring PCs and NPCs and thus might explain the lack of epic level elves. Personally I'd assume that most elves get tired of the adventuring life eventually - uncomfortable conditions, threat of death day in, day out - watching their friends get killed or die of old age etc. is bound to take the fun out of things after 20 years or so - perhaps they then retire to their gardens and life off their accumulated wealth for the rest of their lives - if they are ex-adventurers they might be quite a high level - but being inactive means that they don't gain a hell of a lot more XP to go up more levels.

    Having said that, if an elf does adventure until he is 600 or so then I would
    expect that he would be epic level - assuming he doesn't leave the prime material for the outer planes, get killed or spend his entire life slaughtering armies of orcs for zero XP per orc Happy
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue May 18, 2004 4:11 am  

    I never liked level level limits for single-class demihuman characters. I impose them for multi-class characters and this seems to work fine. For single-class demihumans, though, I allow them to advance alongside humans. I allow all classes to advance normally to 18th level - player characters in my group never get that high, only NPCs. This is even a little high, but it lets wizards get their 9th level spell.

    After 18th, though, the experience cost to advance doubles each level - i.e. if 250,000 needed per level it would be 500,000 for 19th, 1,000,000 for 20th, 2,000,000 for 21st, etc.

    It takes truly herculean effort to advance much past 18th, which I have decided to pretty much be the level cap. This actually gives single-classed demihumans an advantage due to their longevity. In my Greyhawk, the highest level fighter is a dwarven clan lord (F20) who has spent a couple hundred years battling humanoids in the Yatil mountains. The highest level mage is a 21st level elven wizard of the Gamboge Forest.

    This has had no noticeable effect and allows players to play the race they want for personal choice and role-playing reasons instead of worrying about the mechanics of an arbitrary level cap.

    Just to point out for a second time, though, I still impose the level restrictions on multi-class characters - this is the trade off for having the abilities of two classes.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: Whitehorse

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    Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:34 am  

    Hiya.

    I use a bit of a "story based" level limit for, basically, all my "D&D'ish based games" (re: 1e, 2e, 3e, HackMaster, RoleMaster, Palladium, etc.)

    I call it the "Tier Level Limits" or "Moral Level Limits". It seems to balance a LOT of stuff out quite nicely; namely, humans advance to higher levels because they are stupi....er..."more rash" than their cautious demihuman friends. :)

    Here's how it works:

    None Level Range = 0.
    This is the most common level limit tier. This tier makes up at least 95% of the population. That is not to say that these people do not have expert skill on one or maybe two areas, just that they do not and can not gain any levels or learn a class.
    Example: A town guard might be 0-level but have +1th/+1dmg with a spear.

    Normal Level Range = 0 to 10.
    This is the second most common level limit tier. In this tier, we have the elite guards, personal bodyguards, experienced trackers/woodsmen, etc. Of the remaining 5% of the population, about 3% of that 5 is in this tier. They can advance up to 10th level, but not beyond unless something extraordinary happens to them or they 'prove themselves' to the powers that be. All PC's fit into this tier initially.
    Example: The captain of the town guard might be a 5th level fighter, or the best bouncer in town might be a 3rd level fighter, or the towns high cleric could be 7th level.

    Heroic Level Range = 11 to 20.
    This tier is reserved for the truly powerful. The movers and shakers of the world. Of the remaining 2% of the world's population, about 1.9% of it is in this tier. The only way for persons and creatures to reach this tier is to have performed several heroic (or non-heroic) deeds. For the most part, PC's shouldn't have too much trouble reaching this tier.
    Example: The despotic warlord could be a 15th level fighter, or the Silver Mage of the Desert could be a 12th level diviner.

    Mortal Level Range = 21 to 30.
    This tier is the realm of the epic heroes of the worlds history. The remaining 0.1% (and that's pushing it; it is less than that, but who's counting?) of the world population sits in this exclusive group. The only way for someone to reach this tier is to have performed several highly heroic (or non-heroic, as the case may be) deeds and have these deeds noticed by some powerful extra planar being (god, demi-god, demon lord, arch-devil, etc.). Creatures who find themselves in this tier are, effectively, the pawns of the being that sponsored them (and the catch is that the creature might not even know which being granted him/her this power...). The character in this tier are frequently on a first name basis with the being that is 'sponsoring' them.
    Example: Kargoth, DeathKnight of the lands of Shorn could be a 28th level anti-paladin, or maybe Yurath the Vile, Arch-Cleric of The Flayer, 23rd level cleric.
    Happy
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    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 13, 2004 4:17 am  

    Its also important to realize that that the 'character classes' in D&D are explicitly *adventuring classes*. The only folks with those specific class affiliations are folks who are routinely adventuring. The typical priest of Rao is not a D&D "cleric". What does he need to train in armor and heavy weapons for? The demi human races are generally portrayed as far more 'homebodyish' than humans. WHile some go adventuring for a while, its almost unheard of for them to make a long (by their standards) career of it.

    As for the skills and life long learning issue, that's fairly straightforward (even disregarding that D&D undervalues all races' skill developments). Long lived races are generally protrayed in literature as being very different from humans psychologically. Elves simply don't feel the pressure of time, so they don't 'burn the midnight oil' studying. Look at the Tolkein example of Rivendell and Lothlorien. Lots of objective time goes by and nobody manages to do much of anything except relax and sing a few songs.

    Anyway, I can't recall ever encountering a campaign where racial level limits were used. That's got to be the most disregarded rule in D&D history. My personal preference for 'solving' these problems is to reduce the longevity of the other races. If they only live 2-3x human lifespan, the issue is largely moot. It also solves issues like elf PCs saying "hey Dad, you were alive during the Roman Empire, can you answer a question for me?"
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 04, 2004
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    From: Perth, Western Australia

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    Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:22 pm  

    The racial limits with regards to Class and levels were always strange and not many DM's I knew used them.

    One of the biggest items of strangeness was why elves were not allowed to be Rangers (a class which suited wood elves very well).

    A friend of mine who ran alot of the games I played in basically ruled that to exceed the limits a demi human character had to have heroic scores in the appropriate Stat. Thereofre the character was self limited not his/her race.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Jul 05, 2004 6:06 pm  

    >One of the biggest items of strangeness was why elves were not allowed >to be Rangers (a class which suited wood elves very well).

    I'm not sure to which edition you are referring. Elves were allowed to be rangers in 2nd edition. In 1st edition, elves were not allowed to be rangers, but Unearthed Arcana adjusted this to allow elves to be rangers of maximum level 5 to 14 depending on ability score.

    I just submited an article describing my own class of "Faroth", a class for elves only, with many of the abilities of rangers. Perhaps it will come out in a week or two.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Jul 06, 2004 6:53 am  

    Level limits really aren't that much different than the 20th level cap in 3E. One being can only become so powerful before falling into the realm of quasi-deity, or Epic. Some races for various reasons were restricted in some abilities, so they were either forbidden from a class, or had a very low level limit. Did that mean that there was no way for a character to progress higher than normally allowed if you wanted to play by the book? No, it just meant that, like achieving epic status, it required some extraordinary event to cross that line. Depending on your vision of the game world you want to create, you can tweak, or drop the limits as you see fit, but I feel the concept is a valid one and still use the limits in my game.
    Scott
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