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I used to always create pre-gen characters for my con games, but I think one of the real charms of old school systems is how easy and quick it is to create your own character. That said, you don't always want to run a con game with a bunch of level one characters (in fact, I think the sweet spot is somewhere around levels 2-5, but that's probably an issue of personal preference). However, I think starting characters out at a specific level breaks the character class balance.

Wait, the character classes were balanced? Yeah, they were, but the balance wasn't what powers you had access to, but how you advanced. Specifically, classes were balanced by use of level caps and XP cost per level. Since I rarely play as high level as the caps, that issue rarely comes up, but I think the XP per level is huge. Players in a campaign may shy away from the elf with his steep XP chart, while when playing a con game where everyone is the same level, why would you ever choose magic user over elf?

Here's my solution. In your con game, give a starting XP value rather than a starting level. Almost always this averages out to most players starting at the same levels, but thieves are a level higher and elves a level lower. I suppose you could just say 'You can make a 3rd level elf, a 5th level thief, or a 4th level anything else.' Somehow though, I feel just a bit more justified saying 'Make a character with 10,000 XP.'

In Labyrinth Lord, it's pretty easy to pick the amount. Just figure out what you want for the baseline level, and look up how much XP it costs for a Magic User to enter that level. Set that as the XP. For example, if you set the XP to 160,001 (required amount for an 8th level Magic User), your elves will still only be level 7, your thieves level 9, and everyone else is level 8.

Hmm, in retrospect perhaps it would be easier on the players if I just told them the base level and said elves get -1 and thieves +1.
November 6th, 2009 - 12:47 pm | Comments (1) | PERMALINK

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