Zero to Hero - Module Concept

This is a concept that has surfaced in another thread, and I felt it should be explored in its own.

Some players like to play their games strictly as heroes, wielding awesome power from the beginning of their character's life.  There is nothing wrong with that at all and it is certainly fun to leap right into the fray.


There are others that believe the story of the hero begins long before he gains that power.  The character is forged from inexperience, faces trials and tribulations, learns about themselves and finds the path to adventure, all long before the character acquires that power.  Origin stories are tried and true, and have interested many a fan of famous people throughout history, mythology, legend, and even comic books.  Many of us want to know exactly how the hero came to be.  Even the origins of villains are explored and expounded upon (I am looking at you, Prometheus).  Zero to Hero is an attempt to bring that story to life.


Zero to Hero is a concept for an optional module that allows players to play characters before they are core D&D characters.  This concept is in its infancy and its mechanics have yet to be determined.  The design goal is to integrate this module seamlessly and unobtrusively to the core game.  In other words, if you don't want to play this type of character, you don't have to.  Also, playing this type of character will not infringe on those that chose not to.


Imagine a 1st level character sheet, filled to the brim with all of your character's attributes, skills, powers, feats, racial abilities, equipment, etc.  This character sheet represents the final goal of your Zero to Hero character.  Once you have finished this journey, your adventures have just begun.


Conceptually, the amount of time that it takes the character to reach that hero status is completely up to the DM and the player(s).  It can take as short as an hour or two, as moderate as a standard adventure (2-4 sessions), or as long as a mini-campaign (8-10 sessions).  The choice is completely up to the group and the amount of background and game world integration that you want to establish for your character.


Example plot hooks might include:
- a priest looking for answers and finding his faith
- a young ranger's family is murdererd by a band of maurading bugbears; his favored enemy is determined
- a wizard taking his final test in the mage academy
- a young elf carving his own bow and learning to master it
- a fighter stumbling across his father's shield and learning how to use it
- a warlock's lifelong torment by the supernatural until finally succumbing to the tempation


Anyhow, this is all conceptual at the moment, open to constructive discussion.  Detractors of this system should keep in mind that this module is completely optional and does not impact your game whatsoever.  The discussion is not a forum on whether you think the option is crap.  Please contribute constructively.


One question has surfaced, and that is how this module should be handled with regards to level.  Please share your opinion.  The options are:


A. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Core levels begin at Level 6.
B. Zero to Hero runs at Level 0 (sublevels track progress).  Core levels begin at Level 1.
C. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Once the character is a hero, he begins anew in core at Level 1. 
D. Other (provide suggestion)

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
This would certainly be an interesting option for people who want to fully develop their character's "backstory". Since you are using the concept of "sublevels" in option B, I don't really see the difference between A and B. I love how the news of 5e is prompting people to "think outside the box"!
We all know I am the one thats pushing hard for people to understand why option A is the way to go.
I prefer option B, as it very distinctly separates the module from the core: players are accustomed to starting at Level 1, and this is what core should support.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I approve of this, and option B seems good. Would you start with the power level of an NPC? That would be interesting, being on equal foting (or worse) compared to a 1st level monster. What should we decrease of ability scores, skills, number of feats, powers/spells and other stuff? Maybe you start out with low abilities, only one spell, no feats, and low skills. And then instead of making your starting character all at once you take the options one by one.
I approve of this, and option B seems good. Would you start with the power level of an NPC? That would be interesting, being on equal foting (or worse) compared to a 1st level monster. What should we decrease of ability scores, skills, number of feats, powers/spells and other stuff? Maybe you start out with low abilities, only one spell, no feats, and low skills. And then instead of making your starting character all at once you take the options one by one.

A lot of these things need to be explored, so we certainly welcome ideas.

My thought on monsters was that the optional module contains instructions on how to convert a monster into a level 0 or 1 minion (or 5E equivalent).  Level 1 monsters should be used with care, for obvious reasons, particularly if a character is going through this adventure solo.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I prefer option B, as it very distinctly separates the module from the core: players are accustomed to starting at Level 1, and this is what core should support.




I actually think I can reference the alignment debate for a help in my defense.  I know it will win me less support than anything else.  Basically the reason alignment is an optional module that is being turned on by default is because it is easier to take it away than it is to add it.  The same exact thing is true here.  It is harder to play in this 0 level range if it isn't recognized as being default and therefore developed for.  If the player needs to make all of the modifications to the system in order to make the game work it has just exponentially increased the ammount of work everyone needs to do.  It is far easier for people to just ignore the first 5 levels of progression and play at the power level, or level, they wish to play at.  They are going to do that anyways.

I'm going to paste my argument one more time here so it is represented in the thread:

Making it an aditional module or addition to the rules to say I want to start at lower than what is arbitrarily chosen as the starting power level requires more work than just saying we never start at level one we always start at level (whatever you think starting power level should be).  rather than having these sections in the books:

-one that details character creation for a level one character 
-a second section that details what to take away from that so you can start in level 0 or with less power than a level 1 character 
- a section in the MM about how to alter monsters so you can start in level 0 or with less power than a level 1 character 
-a section for leveling up a character 
-a section for how to start at higher than first level(which they will have no matter what because people will want to do that anyways)
- a section to detail how to power up monsters to a new level you wish to see them at.

you can eliminate two of those sections by making level one mean you're inexperienced.  the sections you need becomes:

-character creation for level one
-leveling characters
-character creation for higher than level 1 
-leveling up monsters   

the rules are modular because the first five levels can be ignored by those that don't wish to play in them, and there isn't a whole bunch of printing space wasted in the books for an optional module thats is easily represented by saying, "if you want to start with more power than a 1st level character would have please just start at a higher level".  the decision of where the story starts and how it starts is still entirely up to the writing of the DM and the players, however now there are easily codified and quantifiable rules for the power level (read as level) of the party.  I'd rather this as opposed to a clever lie that wastes space in a book just so that some people that don't understand the lie are happy.  If there are levels before 1 it means that 1 can never be 1 as there are levels before it.  Why make things confusing by lying when you could just tell the truth and make things easy? 
Without knowing the mechanics of DDN, it will be hard to figure out everything that should be wrapped up into the progress of zero to hero play.  Because of this fundamental truth, my example below will use 4e as a base.

My idea of zero to hero play is to play at "level zero" with experience-based milestones (i.e. sub-levels).  You begin with your stats, your race, an alignment (that may change before solidifying for the life of the character), proficiency with simple weapons only (or perhaps only a handful of simple weapons), and no bonuses from your class (no class hp bonus, no class healing surges, no class attribute/defense bonuses, etc).

As you play at "level zero" you gain xp from quests, social encounters, and even combat encounters.  At every so many xp (500, a thousand, whatever seems right) the character reaches a milestone in their development and gains a benefit (or a couple benefits) from their class that they didn't previously have access to.  For example, a pre-heroic fighter will quickly learn the value of armor after her first few fights and will start to wear light armor or use a shield after her first milestone.  The DM may let the character choose what benefits come at a given milestone, or the DM may ask the character to justify the benefit based on the events of play leading up to that milestone.  When you have reached x number of milestones (five seems decent), you become a level one character.

If the pre-heroic character faces combat, it should either be non-lethal, or the encounter should be designed with pre-heroic capabilities in mind.  For example, one or two lvl-one monsters may make up an encounter of equal level to a party of pre-heroic characters.  Because the pre-heroic characters have less hps and no armor skills, it may be necessary to reduce the damage the monsters do by one or two die types (a monster with a longsword would deal 1d6 or 1d8 damage instead of 1d10).  It's important to remember that monsters will hit more often because the pre-heroic PCs don't have armor and shield proficiencies.  So it may be necessary to use the two die-type reduction or to just reduce it by one and impose a -2 or -4 penalty on the monster's to hit rolls.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Well contrary to claims otherwise, D&D has always started you out at the barely out of bootcamp stage.  You are trained and better than a peasant but your not way past that point.  Your potential is high (ability scores are better) but you haven't done much yet.

So I'm for A.  Continue in the tradition of the game from 1e to 4e.   
Personal opinion from a humble community guy...

Not too long ago, in a discussion about 4e style tiers, there was an idea for an "Apprentice tier" which covered the zero-to-hero area of character development and progression.

What do you think, if there were 4e style tiers, of all of them starting at level 1?  Apprentice Tier level 5 "graduates" to Heroic Tier level 1 the next time they gain a level, or you can just start your campaign at Heroic Tier level 1 if that's your preferred playstyle.  Same could go for Paragon and Epic (and maybe even a Deific Tier beyond Epic).      

So, kind of an expansion of Option C in the poll in the original post.  

All around helpful simian

Personal opinion from a humble community guy...

Not too long ago, in a discussion about 4e style tiers, there was an idea for an "Apprentice tier" which covered the zero-to-hero area of character development and progression.

What do you think, if there were 4e style tiers, of all of them starting at level 1?  Apprentice Tier level 5 "graduates" to Heroic Tier level 1 the next time they gain a level, or you can just start your campaign at Heroic Tier level 1 if that's your preferred playstyle.  Same could go for Paragon and Epic (and maybe even a Deific Tier beyond Epic).      

So, kind of an expansion of Option C in the poll in the original post.

I think that would be a great way to handle it, and the Apprentice Tier would then be extremely consistent with the rest of the format.  I never thought anything like that would be on the table because of the long tradition of linear levels.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
To be clear, that idea was inspired from the forum conversations here, not from any inside info.  ;)

All around helpful simian

Personal opinion from a humble community guy...

Not too long ago, in a discussion about 4e style tiers, there was an idea for an "Apprentice tier" which covered the zero-to-hero area of character development and progression.

What do you think, if there were 4e style tiers, of all of them starting at level 1?  Apprentice Tier level 5 "graduates" to Heroic Tier level 1 the next time they gain a level, or you can just start your campaign at Heroic Tier level 1 if that's your preferred playstyle.  Same could go for Paragon and Epic (and maybe even a Deific Tier beyond Epic).      

So, kind of an expansion of Option C in the poll in the original post.

I think that would be a great way to handle it, and the Apprentice Tier would then be extremely consistent with the rest of the format.  I never thought anything like that would be on the table because of the long tradition of linear levels.


I'll do you one better.  Have levels 1-30 for each tier.  Characters can graduate or not based on group preference.  Maybe one group doesn't like epic tier; they can do more paragon levels instead.  And a group willing to go through them all will have 120 levels to play with.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Personal opinion from a humble community guy...

Not too long ago, in a discussion about 4e style tiers, there was an idea for an "Apprentice tier" which covered the zero-to-hero area of character development and progression.

What do you think, if there were 4e style tiers, of all of them starting at level 1?  Apprentice Tier level 5 "graduates" to Heroic Tier level 1 the next time they gain a level, or you can just start your campaign at Heroic Tier level 1 if that's your preferred playstyle.  Same could go for Paragon and Epic (and maybe even a Deific Tier beyond Epic).      

So, kind of an expansion of Option C in the poll in the original post.

I think that would be a great way to handle it, and the Apprentice Tier would then be extremely consistent with the rest of the format.  I never thought anything like that would be on the table because of the long tradition of linear levels.


I'll do you one better.  Have levels 1-30 for each tier.  Characters can graduate or not based on group preference.  Maybe one group doesn't like epic tier; they can do more paragon levels instead.  And a group willing to go through them all will have 120 levels to play with.

I love the idea, but that could make supporting all levels with powers and abilities pretty interesting.  I think it could be achieved without any change in mechanics by just scaling the XP.  If you want to imitate levels 1-30 on any given tier, just divide all XP by 3.  If you want to get through it faster, i.e. imitate a tier as levels 1-5, just multiply all XP by 2.

Options could then be provided on how to reward milestones within a level, mimicking levelling up along that path.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Personal opinion from a humble community guy...

Not too long ago, in a discussion about 4e style tiers, there was an idea for an "Apprentice tier" which covered the zero-to-hero area of character development and progression.

What do you think, if there were 4e style tiers, of all of them starting at level 1?  Apprentice Tier level 5 "graduates" to Heroic Tier level 1 the next time they gain a level, or you can just start your campaign at Heroic Tier level 1 if that's your preferred playstyle.  Same could go for Paragon and Epic (and maybe even a Deific Tier beyond Epic).      

So, kind of an expansion of Option C in the poll in the original post.

I think that would be a great way to handle it, and the Apprentice Tier would then be extremely consistent with the rest of the format.  I never thought anything like that would be on the table because of the long tradition of linear levels.


I'll do you one better.  Have levels 1-30 for each tier.  Characters can graduate or not based on group preference.  Maybe one group doesn't like epic tier; they can do more paragon levels instead.  And a group willing to go through them all will have 120 levels to play with.

I love the idea, but that could make supporting all levels with powers and abilities pretty interesting.  I think it could be achieved without any change in mechanics by just scaling the XP.  If you want to imitate levels 1-30 on any given tier, just divide all XP by 3.  If you want to get through it faster, i.e. imitate a tier as levels 1-5, just multiply all XP by 2.

Options could then be provided on how to reward milestones within a level, mimicking levelling up along that path.


That's an interesting take.  I kind of like it.  If we're going to tinker with xp though, I have another idea: allow advancement as normal, but allow players to spend xp to buy feats, stat bonuses, etc.  I've said before that I hate players having to spend xp on magic item creation.  I stand by that.  You should not have to spend xp for something that will likely be replaced later.  However, spending xp to make yourself inherently better or to widen your capabilities is something that I don't mind at all.  Of course, that could be the topic of another thread entirely.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

It's sometimes funny reading these threads. They won't release any info at all to us, so we sit here and speculate and brainstorm. I bet if some of us collected our thoughts together, we'd have a workable game started lol.
It's sometimes funny reading these threads. They won't release any info at all to us, so we sit here and speculate and brainstorm. I bet if some of us collected our thoughts together, we'd have a workable game started lol.


LOL.  Samrin, I was just about to reply to MechaPilot...  "Why don't we just go build all of this somewhere else?"

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
...One question has surfaced, and that is how this module should be handled with regards to level.  Please share your opinion.  The options are:

A. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Core levels begin at Level 6.
B. Zero to Hero runs at Level 0 (sublevels track progress).  Core levels begin at Level 1.
C. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Once the character is a hero, he begins anew in core at Level 1. 
D. Other (provide suggestion)



Oh look! Another thread where I can make Sleeps roll his eyes at me. Kidding! Sort of!

B and C both sound fun to me. B would be cool because it seems easiest to add and would probably hit a broader audience (too much "zero time" may get a little dull for some.)

C offers a lot more depth, but there'd have to be a lot of VERY detailed systems. For example, the PCs would sloooowly earn starting equipment, proficiencies, hit points, and ability scores, rather than magic items or significant wealth. The customization options would have to be pretty limited as well, since the goal here would be to reach the point that would feel like an acceptable start for many other players. Also, I'm iffy on filling up that many levels with monsters that are distinct from one another. And I worry that putting all the scrub monsters in the extended prologue part of the game would take them out of the next bit. So yeah, some challenges and reservations, but it could be a fun system.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

C offers a lot more depth, but there'd have to be a lot of VERY detailed systems. For example, the PCs would sloooowly earn starting equipment, proficiencies, hit points, and ability scores, rather than magic items or significant wealth. The customization options would have to be pretty limited as well, since the goal here would be to reach the point that would feel like an acceptable start for many other players. Also, I'm iffy on filling up that many levels with monsters that are distinct from one another. And I worry that putting all the scrub monsters in the extended prologue part of the game would take them out of the next bit. So yeah, some challenges and reservations, but it could be a fun system.

Monsters shouldn't be an issue, imho.  My thought is to provide instructions on how to convert an NPC to a level 0 minion.  A couple of paragraphs is likely all the real estate needed.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.

This concept has been tried before. The 1st edition module N4 Treasure Hunt starts at 0 level and you advance to first level. It is kind of interesting in that you can attempt to do actions from almost any class. Something a bit more refined would be nice though. I would prefer option B but even more important to me is how the role-play would work. If these back ground stories are individual in nature then having the other players sit and wait while one gets all the attention would be no fun. Maybe something with email or instant messengers would be an option. Alternatively a group adventure would be interesting but not as personal. In the end it seems to me that this option would be fun but a lot of work on the DM’s part.

A. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Core levels begin at Level 6.

No thanks. There's a lot that comes into play with that level difference. It means in order to be heroic I'm way above where I want a new character to be, the amount of advancement at each level is miniscule at best, or advancement is wonky and uneven to accomodate this. Also, a lot of people just want to start out playing at level 1. However, D&D is a game of heroic fantasy that assumes your character is a cut above the rest of the herd. Having to start at level 6 to support this idea is antithetical to the basis of the game and to quote posters on many other topics "just doesn't feel like D&D".

B. Zero to Hero runs at Level 0 (sublevels track progress).  Core levels begin at Level 1.

This sounds fine and harkens back to pre-3e when commoners were 0-level NPCs. I'm also equally fine with any other mechanic that can also be used to achieve this effect so long as it is spelled out for the player (for example, I've found that in 4e a "commoner" character is best created using the rules for companion characters but this isn't immediately obvious to everyone). I don't think you really need increments, even. Honestly, how many levels of being a farmer do you need before you can finally pick up a sword?

C. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Once the character is a hero, he begins anew in core at Level 1. 

That just sounds really really odd. I don't think most people would like this at all, and the 1-5 increments would have to be so small or else you actually end up backtracking when you hit the "real" level 1, it just doesn't mesh well.

D. Other (provide suggestion)

Create a D&D spinoff game called Farmers & Blacksmiths. It could include exciting modules such as strategic agriculture, bartering, doing the same job you do every single day but roll anyway just in case you screw it up, critical hit charts for cat scratches, special rules for holding the wrong end of a sword or stabbing yourself in the foot with a spear. But don't worry about complexity, character creation is a breeze! All stats are 10 until racial modifiers are applied, you have 1 HP, no classes, no attack bonus, no proficiencies. All you need to do is choose your profession, which provides you with the basic tools that you need to do your daily job, and lays out which skills you have (you gain a +1 bonus to checks with each of these skills).
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Monsters shouldn't be an issue, imho.  My thought is to provide instructions on how to convert an NPC to a level 0 minion.  A couple of paragraphs is likely all the real estate needed.



If we're talking about option B, yes, that's perfect. I guess there would be a way to strip away defenses, hp, attack, damage, and special abilities a little at a time for the option C version.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

Well contrary to claims otherwise, D&D has always started you out at the barely out of bootcamp stage.  You are trained and better than a peasant but your not way past that point.  Your potential is high (ability scores are better) but you haven't done much yet.

So I'm for A.  Continue in the tradition of the game from 1e to 4e.   



I completely agree.  Every past edition has started characters at about the same point in relation to the world.  5e should continue the same.
I like this idea. It sounds fun. I would personally prefer level 1 to be the start of "Heroic tier" and anything "apprentice" to be before that.
The idea of having 4 tiers all starting with a level 1 sounded like a great idea to me.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There is a nice little self created divide here. Shame there can't be more acceptance instead. I feel that is where the future of the game should be.

All this vitriol, pushing away, retroactive retaliation, and preemptive striking needs to stop.

I keep trying but some won't let things go. Will you?

 

Because you like something, it does not mean it is good. Because you dislike something, it does not mean it is bad. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it everyone's opinion. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it truth. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it the general consensus. Whatever side you want to take, at least remember these things.

Well contrary to claims otherwise, D&D has always started you out at the barely out of bootcamp stage.  You are trained and better than a peasant but your not way past that point.  Your potential is high (ability scores are better) but you haven't done much yet.
  


 All 4th edition did was increase the power of PC's and monsters in order to make it seem like you are just out of "boot camp", I'm afraid it didn't appeal to me.

A. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Core levels begin at Level 6.
B. Zero to Hero runs at Level 0 (sublevels track progress).  Core levels begin at Level 1.
C. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Once the character is a hero, he begins anew in core at Level 1.
D. Other (provide suggestion)



C sounds the best to me.  Make it so that, over those 5 pre-levels, you gain the features of the class you intend on going into.  If the plan is to "hybrid" combine classes, this is where you start to lean towards both classes equally.  It sounds really interesting to me.

A and B sound less good, though I'd only take B if C were not available, and be likely to eschew the game if it stuck to A.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
One question has surfaced, and that is how this module should be handled with regards to level.  Please share your opinion.  The options are:

A. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Core levels begin at Level 6.
B. Zero to Hero runs at Level 0 (sublevels track progress).  Core levels begin at Level 1.
C. Zero to Hero runs from Levels 1-5.  Once the character is a hero, he begins anew in core at Level 1. 
D. Other (provide suggestion)



tl;dr the whole thread.

My opinion: B, with no sublevels tracking progress.  Using D&D 4E as a guide, here's how I'd do it:

Starting stats -> as per normal (roll it, array, whatever)
Starting HP -> 6 + CON Score
Starting features -> basic attacks, simple or no weapon proficiency, only cloth armor proficiency

How I would go about level 0:
-> everyone starts as normal people
-> pivotal event occurs (uses ability checks &/or basic attacks, no skills)
-> everyone's lives change, and they go out to the world, with each of their stories developing as the (sub)campaign progresses
-> if players are interested in elaborating on their characters, there might be several adventures here and there, taking lessons from a mentor or two (temporary or otherwise).  These mentors and these adventures would eventually garner them their first spell, or their first fighting style, and eventually grant them at least some of their class features as well as their skills
-> everybody becomes level 1, gaining whatever wasn't gained during the running of level 0.

 If pre-hero is supposed to be telling the story of the hero before he became a hero or a veteran, then it should be a more organic methodology than "here are your stats, these are your milestones/sub-levels/levels, have at it".  For me, it shouldn't be contained in a rigid system, but rather in a system that could accommodate all routes that lead to hero-ship.

My main problem with a "heros-start-at-6-not-at-1" concept is that while D&D normally has 20 or 30 levels in total -- and thus, in theory, would work fine with a higher level starting period for veterans -- in practice most campaigns barely reach 10 in any edition, and even in 4E you'd be hard-pressed to find campaigns that quickly reach that point, which means that instead of playing *actual* D&D for 10 levels, you are forced to either play "normal folk" for the first half of the game, and/or play "actual veterans" for just 4-5 levels, instead of 10.

Maybe for some people they were fine with "playable, balanced for all classes levels" or "mid levels" being at a narrow level range of 6-11, but I'd rather be playing a full game from 1-20 or 1-30.
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Well contrary to claims otherwise, D&D has always started you out at the barely out of bootcamp stage.  You are trained and better than a peasant but your not way past that point.  Your potential is high (ability scores are better) but you haven't done much yet.
  


 All 4th edition did was increase the power of PC's and monsters in order to make it seem like you are just out of "boot camp", I'm afraid it didn't appeal to me.




Well 4e made the world itself a lot less lethal but they did that all the way around.  In 1e through 3e most monsters fell to a single blow.   A PC could if the monster rolled really good.   In 4e both Monster and PC lasted a bit longer.

Still relatively I think all editions start you out at the bottom of the scale.  I never believed in worlds full of 0 level people even in the earlier editions.   A few simple thought experiments quickly let me to disregard that notion.

I'm for giving people plenty of levels if thats what they want and for 1 to 5 being the starting levels.   I'm not for levels where you can't do anything.  I think that is the distinction here.   I want basically what 1st level had always been.  Honestly the PCs have never been heroes at 1st level.  They've been people of high potential.   By 5th level they will have staked out a reputation and at least be local heroes.    
I've instead suggested level 0-1st, with things like White Belts, Apprentices, Neophytes, and Squires, kind of like the Unearthed Arcana Cavalier progression for non-nobles. This system is ideal for both children/teens and dual classing.

The character gets access to feats and attribute bonuses, and other goodies, that allow them to qualify for the new class. As an added incentive, there's more character development, and when the characters finally qualify for level 1 of a heroic class, they may have acrewed some of the crunchy bonuses and tidbits you see on more experienced or OP starting characters.

I don't know that this kind of character variance existed in 4e, but I've seen plenty of it in AD&D and 3e. People would buy books of feats and take merits and flaws, roll on obscure tables, and come out with social status, bonus feats, special abilities and so forth.

The Goal is to think of it like a Gift Basket, like the ones you see around the Holidays and at Hospitals that have all sorts of goodies you would anticipate, plus some other stuff you might have overlooked. Even breaking down the 'starter' equipment packages is a good side quest aspect.

Normally, I start off my newbie players with the following kit:
grappling hook, 50' silk rope, belt, riding boots, belt pouch, back pack, flint & steel, torches, wine skin or water skin, dagger or knife (often silver), 1 day of jerky or other dry rations, breeches or robes, a hooded cloak, and gloves.

These translate readily into a variety of useful scearios, such as cliffs, pits, dismounting riders, attacking flying creatures, starvation, dehydration, the darkness of caves, the cold of forest nights, the necessity to cut things like ropes and throats, a weapon that works against werewolves, the ability to produce fire against regenerating foes, something to cover the rain or blistering heat, and a way to not have to touch poisonous surfaces.

Of particular note is the idea that some classes would have Stat prerequisites again, and then by taking the mini-levels, you could increase your deficient stats in place of a Prep feat until you qualified. Thus a person might take 5 or 6 mini levels to qualify for something like a Monk or Paladin. I've also suggested if alignment is used, you might work towards qualifying for that alignment through carefully guided alignment shifting steps, such as Chaotic Neutral to Neutral, Neutral to Lawful Neutral, and Lawful Neutral to Lawful Good.

I remember alignment Tendencies were pretty popular in our groups and might make excellent alignment hybrids. For example, Lawful Neutral with Good tendencies is like 1 point of law, 1 point of neutral, and 1/2 point of Good.

Characters with pre-existing feats or high stats would qualify into the full class sooner, but might miss out on some of the goodies. The idea is it would all balance out.

Experience tables might look something like this:

Lv   Exp    Gain?
0               -
s1         50     1st Class Ability or Stat (below 12)
s2       100     hp +1, 2nd Class Ability or Feat
s3       250     3rd Class Ability, Feat, Gift or Stat (below 13)
s4       500     hp +1, 4th Class Ability, Feat, or Stat (below 14)
s5       750     5th Class Ability, Feat, or Stat (below 15)
s6     1500     hp +1, 6th Class Ability, Feat, Gift or Stat
s7+   750/lv   Stats only until qualify, then Class Abilities only

Levels might also be called something other than numbers, such as grades, or letters, "S Class" or whatever. I used s+numbers to represent "sub level" rather than real level.

I'd pobably make it more elaborate than what's shown above, with Base Hit points starting off at probably 1/2 the max of the class's hit dice and adding +1 per level or two, so if you were a Priest with d8, you would start with 4 hit points (or d4), and gain +1 per level, so that you might by 5th level or so, have max starting hp for level 1 of your new class. One of the important points is if you are gaining a Stat increase that level to qualify for the class, you do not gain some other important ability or freebie. Sometimes there will be freebies like bonus hp or Gifts (possibly items of value or even magic), and other times there will be real requirements, like the Monk ability to strike unarmed without 'drawing attack of opportunity' or inflicting 'lethal' rather than stun damage. If you get to level 6+ and still haven't qualified, you spend the rest of your time 'catching up', but do not gain any more free stuff or special abilities along the way. No stat may be increased beyond the Aspirant Class's core requirements.

I'd also stipulate the whole ROTC/Eagle Scout/College/Recruit effect is in place with respect to Experience points: when you finally finish training for a character class, if you have sufficient Experience points from your training to be level 2 or higher, you are immediately promoted to level 2 in that class, gaining those benefits normally.

This system doesn't favor very high stat characters because they tend to qualify for their class earlier than 6th level and thus miss out on freebies. It also doesn't tend to favor characters woefully unqualified, because they may spend many "kiddie class" training levels playing catch up. I'd venture it favors characters with 9-12 in their stats, qualifying for attributes in the 13-15 range, or those with slightly higher stats but in need of an alignment shift.
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Well contrary to claims otherwise, D&D has always started you out at the barely out of bootcamp stage.  You are trained and better than a peasant but your not way past that point.  Your potential is high (ability scores are better) but you haven't done much yet.
  


 All 4th edition did was increase the power of PC's and monsters in order to make it seem like you are just out of "boot camp", I'm afraid it didn't appeal to me.




Well 4e made the world itself a lot less lethal but they did that all the way around.  In 1e through 3e most monsters fell to a single blow.   A PC could if the monster rolled really good.   In 4e both Monster and PC lasted a bit longer.
   



Not in game world time.. an AD&D (1e) fight in game world time each round was a minute. There are simply more choice nodes allowing more decisions and more potential for player contribution to the outcome based on those choices. It gives more time to change your mind somewhat once you realized you are outgunned... It gives less likelihood a fluke will result in an enemy win or party win when the odds are really against them. ... ie more of a bell curve involved.  There is a 2 level buffer at low levels where the player characters by the numbers so that at level 1 party are closer in capability to level 3. The apprentice/journeyman levels people are talking about could fit in 4e in that range.

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

All useless adds for game rules. The idea that a character is a hero from the very moment of it's creation has come whith 4e, and I think it should be put aside in the next edition. A hero is what you became, if you act heroicaly, but you can be a villain or you could also be a man who does not want his name to be known. If you want to start a hero make a high level character and stop. No useless accessories rules.
All useless adds for game rules. The idea that a character is a hero from the very moment of it's creation has come whith 4e, and I think it should be put aside in the next edition. A hero is what you became, if you act heroicaly, but you can be a villain or you could also be a man who does not want his name to be known. If you want to start a hero make a high level character and stop. No useless accessories rules.



A protagonist is the central character in a story "heroic" by your chosen definition or not.. the difference is between walk on characters who die easy deaths in a teen slasher flick and the main character in a story where there is expectations of long term survival or that a death will be in a way significant rather than say by some fluke...

OK, Assuming these zero level player characters are still protagonists.. then the difference is mostly flavor text, ie the amount of cool stuff in the initial character presentation ie are they like my street punk roguish type or are they like my Paladin/Warlock. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

All useless adds for game rules. The idea that a character is a hero from the very moment of it's creation has come whith 4e, and I think it should be put aside in the next edition. A hero is what you became, if you act heroicaly, but you can be a villain or you could also be a man who does not want his name to be known. If you want to start a hero make a high level character and stop. No useless accessories rules.



A protagonist is the central character in a story "heroic" by your chosen definition or not.. the difference is between walk on characters who die easy deaths in a teen slasher flick and the main character in a story where there is expectations of long term survival or that a death will be in a way significant rather than say by some fluke...
 



Ok, then. I still see no point in all this fuss. Consider the old editions: at low levels you are just a commoner, mayby you have better characteristics, but nothing more. You are an adventurer or whatever, that, for different reasons, becomes the protagonist of a story. But still you start as a common folk, whith average abilities and skills. The grat role on the scene comes whith time, but if you take low level play it's mostly survival. Protagonist moment comes later.
 Protagonist moment comes later.


No reason for that to be true...  player characters are always going to be the ones the story is centered on the key element of protagonism ... assuming my players characters are faceless walk ons belittles any effort they put in to creating them.


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

In sufficient protagonism in the game resulted in a lot of - I have made Robert of Huntington... insert back story with the DMs help figuring out details of where they come from and how there family tree is like and so on... except oops..whell I guess its just bob1 bob2 bob3... and so on. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

ok, there is a misunderstending. Protagonist of their own story? Always (and yet i keep forgetting how to spell always). Protagonist of a story that involves them being the key of a world wide event? With time. Or else I completely fail to see the reason behind this zero to hero module.
All useless adds for game rules. The idea that a character is a hero from the very moment of it's creation has come whith 4e, and I think it should be put aside in the next edition. A hero is what you became, if you act heroicaly, but you can be a villain or you could also be a man who does not want his name to be known. If you want to start a hero make a high level character and stop. No useless accessories rules.



A protagonist is the central character in a story "heroic" by your chosen definition or not.. the difference is between walk on characters who die easy deaths in a teen slasher flick and the main character in a story where there is expectations of long term survival or that a death will be in a way significant rather than say by some fluke...
 



Ok, then. I still see no point in all this fuss. Consider the old editions: at low levels you are just a commoner, mayby you have better characteristics, but nothing more. You are an adventurer or whatever, that, for different reasons, becomes the protagonist of a story. But still you start as a common folk, whith average abilities and skills. The grat role on the scene comes whith time, but if you take low level play it's mostly survival. Protagonist moment comes later.


Not even the AD&D or basic rules claimed that PCs were ordinary. Seriously, go dig up the threads from when 4E was new or in development. I'm not going to hunt down my AD&D books and type out the relevant passages, but we really did go through this a few years ago.

More simply, look at the 3E commoner class. This guy has the lowest hit dice, bad progression for all numbers, no class features, and minimal skills/feats/proficiencies. No PCs were that weak.

The real issue is that while commoners were pathetic, low levels were still highly vulnerable to randomness. If an orc hits someone, that someone could easily drop to negative hp. Sometimes that meant death, other times it meant someone was dying. Let's hope it's not the cleric! 4E simply decided to give 1st level characters enough hp to ensure that the first attack roll would not be the last, meaning that the numbers finally reflected the concept.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

well, a low level fighter, even if a pc, is an average worrior, shurely more than the commoner class, but still average as a fighter. And I actualy like it.
. Or else I completely fail to see the reason behind this zero to hero module.


I am not utterly sure the classic defintion of a level 1 character was considered a veteran who has some experience under there belt not a lot but some... the wizard can with a single spell decstroy a fair group of relatively normal enemies... the Cleric can with a single spell remove all injury from a dying man. It seems likely they were not supposed to be apprentices and pages or squires and journeymen....

But there are people who feel a sense of less potency will make the characters more 'everyman" like someone they can identify with... where as others dont identify with a farmer or 12 year old. A 20 year old knight has been training for 12 years or so and is a member of his societies educated elite.. and probably closer to something we modern folk ought to identify with. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Ok, then. I still see no point in all this fuss. Consider the old editions: at low levels you are just a commoner, mayby you have better characteristics, but nothing more. You are an adventurer or whatever, that, for different reasons, becomes the protagonist of a story. But still you start as a common folk, whith average abilities and skills. The grat role on the scene comes whith time, but if you take low level play it's mostly survival. Protagonist moment comes later.


Except that you weren't. 3e had NPC classes that were flat out worse than PC classes. Earlier editions treated commoners as 0-level NPCs. D&D assumes that the PCs are a cut above the rest. That doesn't mean they are invincible and able to take on the entire town guard single-handedly, it means they are already better than commoners, better than the average person. Some might even say, heroes.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
well, a low level fighter, even if a pc, is an average worrior, shurely more than the commoner class, but still average as a fighter. And I actualy like it.


If you're talking 3e, then no he isn't. An average warrior was a Warrior, while PCs with the same inclinations tended to be Fighters. If you're talking 4e, the PC is a Fighter and the average warrior is an NPC that doesn't use the same rules as the PC so he has no class and whether he is better or worse than the PC is at the DM's whim.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.