A 4-Tier Approach

This is conceptual stuff, but bear with me.

One of the major problems with making everyone happy seems to be a degree of simulation/realism vs narrativism/gamism.  I've heard at least a few of the former relent when 'high level' play is involved - fighters can't have dailies, but demigods, maybe.  So, what if the game were presented in tiers, but not consecutive tiers (though they could be used that way) but stylistic ones:

Tier 1 -  Adventuring.  Characters are differentiated by their drive and determination more than by their inborn abilities or narrative protagonist status.  Adventurers are a cut above commoners, because they have trained harder, journeyed farther and taken bigger risks to get that way.  Even so, the world teems with Adventurers, expecially in places that attract violent opportunists - tense border regions, ancient ruins, lawless frontiers, magical nexuses (nexii?, whatever).  Some Adventurers have noble aspirations or ideals, but all ultimately are in it for money or personal power or perhaps merely for the thrill of a challenge.  Adventurers are more capable and resilient (the less capable and resilient being weeded out before chargen), but they still die and generally stay dead when you kill them.

Tier 2 - Heroic.  Heroic characters stand apart not because they are the most powerful beings in the universe, but because they act when others - even adventurers - dare not.  Heroes are often 'chosen by fate.'  They're the protagonists of the story, and reality convulses to keep that story moving. They overcome adversity through determination, faith, and sheer stupid luck.  Killing a Hero (or the kind of villain heroes routinely face) is no gaurantee you won't be up against him again.

Tier 3 - Epic.  Epic characters are among the most powerful beings in the universe, and nothing they do fails to be of great import.  They're not just the heroes of the story, they underpin the foundations of reality.  Everything is about them.  Death is a minor inconvenience.  Epic characters may not even be bounded by linear time or other fundamental laws, taking their adventures anywhere and anywhen concievable, and quite a few places inconcievable.

Tier 0 - Common.  Common characters are ordinary people.  Perhaps in the course of things, they may find extraordinary (or at least meaningful) situations, but they are no different in abilities or potential than anyone else.  They have no special place in the world, either in the sense of having a fate or destiny, or in the sense that being a protagonist makes their story more important than anyone else's.  


What that means for magic:

Tier 1 - Magic is rare and wonderous.  PCs may know about magic (have arcana, religion or other skills), and may even perform a magical ritual to deal with a specific supernatural threat, or race against rival adventurers to retrieve a legendary item that may hold magical power, but they aren't beings of magic, either in the sense of being supernatural nor in the sense of weilding supernatural power directly.  

Tier 2 - Magic is rare and wonderous in the world, but not so rare to the PCs.  Heroes inevitably find themselves facing supernatural threats that the rest of the world can barely accept the existance of, and they have the means - be it their own magical powers, items of power, or sheer determination/luck/skill - to overcome such threats.  Even when they lack the supernatural means, events may well break in their favor giving them a chance at success.

Tier 3 - Magic is so much a part of the world that Epic characters inhabit that they forget mere mortals lack such everyday conveniences as bags of holding or flying carpets or Cure Disease potions.  Each epic character wield earth-shaking power, perhaps in the form of an artifact, or vast arcane knowledge, or divine heritage.   Between the commonplace convience magic and earth-shaking personal power, Epic characters can also have easy access to commoditized magic of moderate power that they can buy, sell, borrow or steal as the whim takes them.

Tier 0 - Magic exists, but the PCs can be excused for not believing in it at all.  It's unlikely a supernatural threat will ever menace the players at Tier 0, and if one does, they'll have to track down obscure legends or knowledgeable individuals to find out how to deal with it, since they lack any supernatural knowledge or power of their own. 

What it means for Mechanics:

Tier 1 - PCs have classes and abilities (randomly determined but weighted toward high average), and NPC Adventurers, Guards, Bandits, Nobles, etc have access to all the same classes and abilities.  Characters can learn any skill, learn some rituals, and generally rely on mundane gear, universeally available combat options, and the occassional at-will powers and feats.  Characters also have access to 'mundane' skills and abilities that occassionally come in handy peripheral to adventuring.

Tier 2 - PCs have the full range of classes and abilities (mostly high and chosen by the player, but with one 'weak spot' that is only low-average).  Heroes can push themselve to extraordinary feats of prowess and master and cast spells that would shatter the minds of lesser men.  Encounter and Daily powers are available at this tier.  Powers may be supernatural or preternatural/superhuman.  PCs have some influence over the details of their characters story ('plot power') regulated by mechanics (like daily powers, action points or the like).  Rituals and martial practices are all available.  Everyday 'mundane' skills and abilities not relevent to the Heroes' stories are glossed over.

Tier 3 - PCs have superhuman, supernatural powers from level 1.  Those that aren't overt casters are godlings or supernatural beings of some other nature.  The rare character who is 'not supernatural' is supernaturally lucky and skilled.  The powers of PCs are not directly limitted, but may have repercussions if used too much or too incautiously.  Players can shape the story with out-of-character 'plot points' or reality-warping powers like wishes.  Abilities are high across the board, with two stats chosen by the player even higher, and one superlative stat that is the highest for the group, and most likely only matched, not exceeded by their mightiest adversary.

Tier 0 - PCs do not have classes.  Thier ability scores, race, sex, circumstances of birth and early life are randomly determined.  Initial skill are based on those random factors and a few choices made by the player.  As the player advances, he may learn or improve skills, including things like skill with weapons or 'adventuring skills' - if given the chance.

 

 

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An iteresting ploy, and one that I wouldn't mind being implemeted into Next. But alas, as presented, I'm unsure it would be well recieved by the simulationists/realists that you're aiming to draw in.

To start, these tiers make too many assumptions on a group's campaign, what with giving uniform restrictions to classes based on tier. It's basically taking one of the percieved problems with 4E wholesale.

Relatedly, the manner in which these tiers are categorized make it such that it becomes difficult to recreate the 'feel' of how classes worked in earlier editions against each other, exempting outright stating that such a thing would be volatile. Thus, an AD&D Fighter, whom clearly falls into Tier 1, should then never be expected to play with an AD&D Magic-User, who barely starts at Tier 1 and eventually cycles somewhat into Tier 3.
If I'm reading this right, a 'high magic world,' one where magic items are a commodity, would be 'Tier 3.'  So, what, would it be inhabbited exclusively by demigods?  That doesn't make too much sense, surely even such a world has it's used flying carpet salesmen, accountants, marketing executives, joggers, and crystal ball sanitizers?
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Cool, dig it, as long as Tiers are separated from level ("epic" transcends level, IMO), you can have your Achilles/Cu Chulain/Beowulf/Vainanmoinen etc campaign, or your Conan, or Nehwon, or LotR type.
I'd just like a cleaned up math version of a 1e campaign with some of the spells balanced.  Where do I go for that?

My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I'd just like a cleaned up math version of a 1e campaign with some of the spells balanced.  Where do I go for that?

With luck, D&D Next.
If I'm reading this right, a 'high magic world,' one where magic items are a commodity, would be 'Tier 3.'  So, what, would it be inhabbited exclusively by demigods?  That doesn't make too much sense, surely even such a world has it's used flying carpet salesmen, accountants, marketing executives, joggers, and crystal ball sanitizers?

I hadn't thought as far as 'high' vs 'low' magic would, per se, I was just thinking of campaigns.  A Tier 3 campaign would be multiverse-spanning, so the magic marts might be in places like Sigil, where, yeah, there are Pit Fiend hobos hitting you up for pocket change (Spare a platinum for a disabled veteran of the blood wars?).

In Tier 0 and 1, any NPC you interact with is going to be designed using character rules (though maybe not of the same Tier).  In Tier 2 and 3 play, NPCs will be designed like monsters, since you're the stars of the show, and the only thing NPC stats need to model is the part they play in your story.

You could have a world that is exclusively of a single Tier.  So Pride & Prejudice Land would be Tier 0, and Green Lantern Corps Galaxy would be Tier 3.  Or you could have a setting where the Tiers are all present, you just don't interact much beyond the Tier you happen to be in.  At Tier 0 you hear legends of gods & heroes, but can be excused for not believing them, and you might meet an adventurer passing through (or preying upon) your town once or twice in your life.  A Tier 2 you might be the Heroes of the Kingdom or save the world from destruction, but you might also become aware that those events are just minor 'pawn moves' in a greater game involving the Gods you worship and other beings beyond your ken.


Cool, dig it, as long as Tiers are separated from level ("epic" transcends level, IMO), you can have your Achilles/Cu Chulain/Beowulf/Vainanmoinen etc campaign, or your Conan, or Nehwon, or LotR type.

I had to go before I could get to it, but yes, what I was thinking was that level would be parallel among the Tiers.  That is, an Epic Tier character would do tremendous damage, have tons of hps, be able to attack a small horde of enemies at once, but his 'BAB' or whatever at 1st level would be comparable to that of a 1st level Adventurer.  A 10th level Adventurer duelist could teach a 3rd level Epic Godling a thing or two about swordplay, but he better hope the demigod never hits him while their sparring.  Thus, different-tier NPCs could be used as lesser foes, sidekicks, teachers and helpers or powerful sole/BBEG villains. 

Optionally, the Tiers could be 'stacked,' giving you a 1-40 campaign from randomly-generated nobodies to cosmic chapions (probably with a lot of character death in the first two tiers weeding out the various 'hopeless' characters).

Hit points and damage, as well as magic, would be a major difference between Tiers.  At Teir 0 you might not get any hps - if you're hit, you die unless you make a save and are 'only bloodied' - or you might take a 'martial experience' feat (assuming you've /had/ combat experienced or survived being wounded in a prior adventure) and get a few hit points, each of which lets you survive one hit before roling that save.  Tier 1 you'd get hp equal to your CON + Level (+2 or 5 for being a tougher class, like a Fighter).  Tier 2 you'd get 4e style hps 10/12/15+CON + 4/5/6 per level.  Tier 3, maybe CON*5 (or 4 or 6) + 20/25/30 per level.  Damage would be scaled similarly.

I'd just like a cleaned up math version of a 1e campaign with some of the spells balanced.  Where do I go for that?

AD&D 2nd Edition, available on ebay.

 

 

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I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.
I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.


One of my favorite games was the party running the local smithy and being part of the militia in a town of about 300 people. The DM did a very good job at simulating the impact of what would happen to the town after say a goblin war band passed through. For every person we lost in out little militia the town could change dramatically. Like if we lost the baker suddenly the towns food supply degraded in quality.
The smithing part was so our characters had to make the armor and weapons to arm the town. The better armed the more people survived when we were attacked. But better armor took more time and resources, and so we had to balance quality and quantity. Do 5 people get plate male or does the entire militia get studded leather? 50 Daggers or 10 greatswords? etc. etc.
Very fun game in the end.
Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.

One of my favorite games was the party running the local smithy and being part of the militia in a town of about 300 people.

The thing about this aproach is that a campaign could work fine in a single Tier, or have PC graduate from a lower Tier to a higher one.  But, 1st level isn't the bottom of the bottom-most Tier, it's the bottom of each Tier.  Because levels are experience levels, not power levels.

Level is about experience, but each Tier represents a quantum leap in power.  An experienced 9th level Tier 0 blacksmith could make a much higher-quality horseshoe than an inexperienced 1st level Tier 3 godling, even if the godling could make 10,000 horseshoes (and the 2,500 warhorses wearing them, and their heavily-armed & armored knightly riders) with a snap of his fingers.

Lower Tiers allow for gritty realism, higher ones for more fantastic campaigns.  Stacking the Tiers so that an experienced commoner could embark on the adventuring life, an experienced adventurer become a hero, and an experienced hero ascend to nigh-goodhood is certainly a viable option, but I don't think it'd be the default assumption.   

I'd expect Tier 0 campaigns to be unusual (notice that I listed it last), with Tier 1 and 2 being the norm.  But their are campaign ideas for which Tier 0 would be ideal.

 

 

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@Tony_Vargas
I think you have a good idea but I'm not sure the name "tier" is right.  It's been used already in a slightly different way.

Maybe playstyle would be a better term...  I want to play the characters to completion at 20th level if possible in the style that my group likes.  I feel that AD&D had a flavor and style that was good for me.  Pretty much medium magic and gritty.   

Also 2e did not straighten out the math enough :-).  But I get your point.  I'm sure there are retroclones that do this.  I've looked at a lot of them.  I might just write my own if 5e doesn't make me happy.  





My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.

Some people subscribe to the fact that their character had a life prior to being an adventurer and want to role play the events that led up to the day it begins "for real."  Heroes typically don't just wake up one day as heroes.  There are trials and tribulations that forged their path; important life-changing decisions that are made along the way.  The story of a hero starts long before that character is actually a hero.

Celebrate our differences.

I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.


One of my favorite games was the party running the local smithy and being part of the militia in a town of about 300 people. The DM did a very good job at simulating the impact of what would happen to the town after say a goblin war band passed through. For every person we lost in out little militia the town could change dramatically. Like if we lost the baker suddenly the towns food supply degraded in quality.
The smithing part was so our characters had to make the armor and weapons to arm the town. The better armed the more people survived when we were attacked. But better armor took more time and resources, and so we had to balance quality and quantity. Do 5 people get plate male or does the entire militia get studded leather? 50 Daggers or 10 greatswords? etc. etc.
Very fun game in the end.

Sounds very fun indeed.  Infinitely more exciting than "You all are at a tavern..."

Celebrate our differences.

I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.


One of my favorite games was the party running the local smithy and being part of the militia in a town of about 300 people. The DM did a very good job at simulating the impact of what would happen to the town after say a goblin war band passed through. For every person we lost in out little militia the town could change dramatically. Like if we lost the baker suddenly the towns food supply degraded in quality.
The smithing part was so our characters had to make the armor and weapons to arm the town. The better armed the more people survived when we were attacked. But better armor took more time and resources, and so we had to balance quality and quantity. Do 5 people get plate male or does the entire militia get studded leather? 50 Daggers or 10 greatswords? etc. etc.
Very fun game in the end.



A fun type of game, but I'd rather have it pushed Up to Eleven with cooler effects and powers in play, and have the PCs be in charge of the city. Just a personal preference, but it's just to show that your example doesn't exclude the possibility of a more epic setting.
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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.
Ideas for 5E
I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.



And you'd be within your right to do so.  The whole point of DDN is inclusion.  There is no reason not to build the system to allow for all power levels and let players choose what they want.  I knew people in the 80's who ran historically accurate, entirely magic free campaigns based on medeival France.  Some played with more Arthurian levels of magic, and still others played with all the magic that was available in the rules at the time.  One complaint I have about more recent iterations of the game is that they don't allow for that.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.

Some people subscribe to the fact that their character had a life prior to being an adventurer and want to role play the events that led up to the day it begins "for real."  Heroes typically don't just wake up one day as heroes.  There are trials and tribulations that forged their path; important life-changing decisions that are made along the way.  The story of a hero starts long before that character is actually a hero.




This.

Samwise Gamgee was a gardener.  Taran was a pig-keeper.

I often like to run campaigns where the heroes start out as common folk who scrape and claw their way out of their dunghill of a village to shape the future of the world.

The story of the son of the head of a knightly order who becomes a knight and eventually heads the same order as his father before him isn't nearly as interesting as the story of a poor stable-boy who avenges the death of his father at the hands of the corrupt head of a knightly order, who becomes a knight against all odds and goes on to head that knightly order and cleanses it of corruption. 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

Yeah, I get that some people want this kind of play, I just don't get why. Shutting down a chicken uprising, running town hall meetings and training local militia may be the stuff of backstories, but it would bore me to death. I like my fantasy rpg to be fantastic, not like everyday life. You can be a rat catcher in Warhammer RPG if you're looking for that kind of play experience. But, to each their own. Just hope if this concept is included, it is an optional module and not part of the core.
The only folks I know that have voiced a desire to play as commoners are on these message boards. My players hate starting at 1st level, let alone 0-level.

But, that's not to say the option shouldn't exist. I think starting as commoners would be good for newbies, so they can get a feel for the place and position supernatural elements have in the world, and can better appreciate how far removed heroes, immortals, and even mere adventurers are. 'Common Tier' also seems to be the best place one would run a typical 'horror' story (yes, other systems may be better, don't really care).
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
Yeah, I get that some people want this kind of play, I just don't get why. Shutting down a chicken uprising, running town hall meetings and training local militia may be the stuff of backstories, but it would bore me to death. I like my fantasy rpg to be fantastic, not like everyday life. You can be a rat catcher in Warhammer RPG if you're looking for that kind of play experience. But, to each their own. Just hope if this concept is included, it is an optional module and not part of the core.

Sure, when you use hyperbolic examples.  I could use the same silly examples for explaining how boring level 15 is.

Now, role playing the event when an orc tribe raided and destroyed your village, killing your family would be quite fun.  Role playing the final trials in the wizard tower would be quite fun.  Manning the parapets to thwart a dragon attack would be quite fun.

Exciting stories are as ignorant to the level of characters as boring ones are.

Celebrate our differences.

The only folks I know that have voiced a desire to play as commoners are on these message boards. My players hate starting at 1st level, let alone 0-level.

There is something very fitting about starting at "1st" level.  The advantage of something like this approach would be that you could start at '1st level' whether you wanted to start out a callow youth on a farm, or an epic hero testing his mettle against gods and demons.

'Common Tier' also seems to be the best place one would run a typical 'horror' story (yes, other systems may be better, don't really care).

Definitely, especially 'survival horror.'  I also think it'd work really well for murder-mysteries and other sorts of stories that tend to be set be in more 'civilized' backdrops.  Figuring out who conked Dr. Lucky on the head with an ashtray or stopping a madman stalking the streets murdering women at random is a lot more visceral when death is a single hit away.


@Tony_Vargas
I think you have a good idea but I'm not sure the name "tier" is right.  It's been used already in a slightly different way.

Maybe playstyle would be a better term...

I think of it as a possible evolution of the 4e Tier.

I want to play the characters to completion at 20th level if possible in the style that my group likes.  I feel that AD&D had a flavor and style that was good for me.  Pretty much medium magic and gritty.

Medium magic?  With Clerics replicating biblical miracles with 1st-3rd level spells, and 3rd level wizards turning invisible all day long, and Continual Light scroll-tube flashlights?  'Gritty' was pretty subject to play style, I think.   I remember having to come up with more variants to support 'low magic' than 'high magic' campaigns.  Low magic was very tricky, ironically, because PC casters became wildly powerful by contrast when NPC casters and magic items became extraordinarily rare.

As far as how many levels is 'to completion,' I think that's arbitrary, and 10 is fine.  Combining two Tiers could get you 1-20, though, depending on where you wanted the PCs arc to start and complete, you could even do 1-40 (actually 1-10 four times).  But 1-10 seems like plenty, to me.  I've rarely been in campaigns that started at 1st and cracked 10th, and still have yet to see one last to 20th.  Granted, a big part of that was the failure of the system at higher levels.


Another thought about the mechanics of it:  If you stacked tiers, your character would retain his 10th level lower-tier tricks when he metriculated to the next tier.  So for a while, he'd have a choice of using a gnat-like low-tier attack that he had long since mastered, or the newly-gained hard-hitting attack that he's not very good at yet.  Same with skills.   After completing Common Tier, your Dwarf would start the Adventuring Tier as a masterful blacksmith but still something of a beginner when it comes to finding secret doors in ancient catacombs.

 

 

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I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.

The smithing part was so our characters had to make the armor and weapons to arm the town. The better armed the more people survived when we were attacked. But better armor took more time and resources, and so we had to balance quality and quantity. Do 5 people get plate male or does the entire militia get studded leather? 50 Daggers or 10 greatswords? etc. etc.
Very fun game in the end.

That does sound like fun.  Designing fortifications and defensive strategies and so forth.  There's a lot of clever things people did for defense.  
What sort of rules did you use for the actual battle to defend the town?  
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Ability Scores:

Tier 1:   Roll 8d6 for each stat pair (STR|CON, DEX|INT, WIS|CHA).  Discard the two lowest dice and choose half of the dice remaining to total for one stat of the pair, half for the other.  Figure your modifiers for each stat and add them together.  If the total is more than 9 make an extra roll on the "Flaws" table for each point over 9.  If the total is less than 9, take an extra roll on the "Talents" table for each point under 9.

Tier 2:   Choose a Class, Race & Theme.  Each choice has a stat associated with it.   If all three stats are different, each is 16.  If two are the same, that stat is 18, and the other is 16.  If all three are the same, that stat is 20.   Choose your remaining stats from the following array until all 6 are filled:  14, 13, 12, 10, 8.  

Tier 3:  The DM prepares a set of 6 index cards labeled STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, CON, & CHA.  The players dice to see who starts.  The first player chooses one of the cards and places it in front of him, and passes the remaining cards to his right, each player choosing one card and passing the deck.  At the end of the round, the player records a 26 on the stat on his new character's sheet corresponding to the card he picked.  The cards are collected and given to the last player to choose, who picks a card and passes to his left.  At the end of this round, each player records a 24 on his chosen stat.  The players fill their remaining 4 stats in an order of their choice from the array:  20, 15, 14, 13.


Tier 0:  At the start of the session, the DM chooses 3 6-sided dice and two 10 or 20 sided dice of different colors (designating one as 10s and one as units).  Starting on the DM's right, each player present who needs a character rolls the 3 6-sided dice onto the middle of the table in full view of all players present, and the player and DM both record the result as the new character's STR.  The player repeats the roll for each stat in order: INT, WIS, DEX, CON, CHA.  That player passes the 3 6-sided dice to te player on his right, and the process is repeated until all players generating characters have 6 ability scores.  The player on the DM's right then takes the two 10-sided dice, and rolls them, reading them as '10's and units, for a result from 1-100, using the DM's tables to thus determine race, sex, social class, birth order, inborns traits, and early life experience - all recorded by both player and DM. This process then repeats for each player generating a character that session.  A character is played until it is killed (in which case a replacement character is generated at the start of the next session) or until the DM ends the campaign.  If a character commits suicide or takes out-of-character suicideal risks in what the DM deams is an intentional attempt to kill off the character in the hopes of generating a better one, the DM can require the player roll his next character on 2d6+1 or 3d4 instead of 3d6 per stat.





 

 

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The only folks I know that have voiced a desire to play as commoners are on these message boards. My players hate starting at 1st level, let alone 0-level.



I have found the opposite.  I hate starting at a higher level because there is no organic growth of the character and I like seeing how the character evolves in response to the environment.

But then again I never usually plan out how a character is going to evolve over 20 - 30 levels either.

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I hate starting at a higher level because there is no organic growth of the character and I like seeing how the character evolves in response to the environment.


The magic number for starting character level tends to be 3rd. At that point, a character has less chance of going down in just one hit, and they have enough abilities to feel competent (but not necessarily badass). Even in 4e, starting at 3rd level means you've got two encounter-rate attacks and a healing/movement/skill-based ability. In 3e, it means you can start multiclassed rather than come up with some silly excuse like "Well, I've been studying Tim's spellbook during our downtime and copying the spells into my own book. Yeah, I figured out this wizarding crap in like a week."

I also think some of this stems from the idea that being able to play low-level D&D is pretty common, while campaigns that stick around past 10th or even 5th level are hard to come by. I personally don't have a problem starting at 1st, or perhaps even 0-level.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
If a character commits suicide or takes out-of-character suicideal risks in what the DM deams is an intentional attempt to kill off the character in the hopes of generating a better one, the DM can require the player roll his next character on 2d6+1 or 3d4 instead of 3d6 per stat.

OK, that's funny.  I knew players back in the day that rule would have applied to.  



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The magic number for starting character level tends to be 3rd.



Yeah, I started my 3rd Ed Campaign at 3rd level, so you didn't have the "...a gnome throws a carrot at you; you die...", not that, that can't be an option.

In 1st/2nd Ed I would start characters with double max HD at first level (a bit like Monks and Rangers). 
I think that 3.5 ed characters double their hit points from level 1 to level 2. That would discourage me from running a sub 1 level campaign.

But it sounds like the hit point increase of 5ed will be much less steep. I like that a lot.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
Yeah, I get that some people want this kind of play, I just don't get why. Shutting down a chicken uprising, running town hall meetings and training local militia may be the stuff of backstories, but it would bore me to death. I like my fantasy rpg to be fantastic, not like everyday life. You can be a rat catcher in Warhammer RPG if you're looking for that kind of play experience. But, to each their own. Just hope if this concept is included, it is an optional module and not part of the core.



I'm one of the people who don't like the all superhero pg, common weak person npc (this is an hyperbole, don't start yelling against this), and I like it not because I have fun playing a farmer, though playing one for the starting part of a campaing could be fun, I love roleplaying my character's background. I do not want a character to be a commoner, just a common member of his class. A 1st level wizard is an average wizard, all he can have more than another first level npc wizard can be ability scores and, maybe, some background stuff. The part I like then is'nt being average, is emproving from being a common one to be the great, incredible one. I'd find terribly boring being special from the beginning.
I like the little bit of discussion we've got about what level to start at and playing pig-farmers vs superheroes.  It goes straight to the point of the idea:  people want different kinds of stories.  Some what an heroic story, and that doesn't need to include 10 levels of slowly becoming good enough to attempt somehting heroic.   Some want a gritty, believable story, where 'heroism' is there in taking any risk when you have so few hps and such limited abilities.  

D&D has always catered to those differences with a sliding scale: level.  That scale has never been to consistently calibrated.  If you want to play 'gritty' you'll have to come up with some 0-level rules, and your characters won't stay too gritty for long.  If you want to play 'real heroes,' you'll have to start at 3rd, and, again, not too many level later things that style will also start coming apart at the seams.

If 5e were to adopt an approach something like this, the game could be played in very different ways without needing very different rules, and without having to start - unintuitively - at any level other than 1.

Taken to the extreme, characters of different Tiers could even be played in the same group.  Obviously the higher-tier characters would overshadow the lower, but, being of the same level, the specialities of the lower tier characters, when they came up, would still be meaningful - rather like what I suggested here.

 

 

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Due to the flattening of the scaling/math in 5th Ed, I think this idea could really work (so the high level dextrous duelist vs. The Pig-Bear-Man-Boy-God could be an interesting fight). 

No different than me not finding much fun playing superpowerful heroes of legend. Just opposite sides of the same coin.



My level one pig farmer snaps his fingers and the camp of goblins falls asleep so we cut there throats and set up camp tomorrow my wizard is hit by an arrow and is dying the cleric smiles and brings him back to full capacity.. level 1, AD&D ... shrug.

Them are damn fancy pig farmers.
  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."

 

Due to the flattening of the scaling/math in 5th Ed, I think this idea could really work (so the high level dextrous duelist vs. The Pig-Bear-Man-Boy-God could be an interesting fight). 

The aproach builds in some flattening.  Say you had a 4e like scaling, with as much as +1/level to most things.  Since it's not 1-40, but 1-10 up to 4 times, it's already 'flattened.'  No one's going to have more than a +10 to one things.   A character that's traversered the first 3 tiers and started the 4th might be "+10" at the calligraphy he did in Tier 0, the ordinary rapier he used in tier 2, and the Sleep spell he learned in Tier 3, but at his newly-acquired Tier 4 godlike powers he's just a beginner (again).

 

 

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I've never understood why some people want to play peasants and pig farmers.  I'd completely skip that tier if it were incorporated into Next.

Some people subscribe to the fact that their character had a life prior to being an adventurer and want to role play the events that led up to the day it begins "for real."  Heroes typically don't just wake up one day as heroes.  There are trials and tribulations that forged their path; important life-changing decisions that are made along the way.  The story of a hero starts long before that character is actually a hero.




This.

Samwise Gamgee was a gardener.  Taran was a pig-keeper.

I often like to run campaigns where the heroes start out as common folk who scrape and claw their way out of their dunghill of a village to shape the future of the world.

The story of the son of the head of a knightly order who becomes a knight and eventually heads the same order as his father before him isn't nearly as interesting as the story of a poor stable-boy who avenges the death of his father at the hands of the corrupt head of a knightly order, who becomes a knight against all odds and goes on to head that knightly order and cleanses it of corruption. 



Samwise was a gardener, Taran was a pig keeper, but notice where the books start.  We don't get chapter after chapter of trimming the verge and cleaning the slop trough, we get tiny bits of exposition and flashback about their lives before they started their heroic journey, plus a tiny piece to set the stage (Bilbo's party, a stern talking to re Taran's incompetence).  We get even less about the more traditionally "heroic" heroes like Gimli, Legolas, and I-can't-remember-his-name the heroic mentor figure from Book of Three that leads Taran over the threshold (haven't read it in 15 years).  

If you want to run those games, fine, but don't pretend they're necessary to telling the complete story of a hero. 
Not sure if you mean Coll, Dalben or Gwydion but all three of them contributed to Taran's growth (and damn, I wish Coll's story had been written in full because just what we see of him in The High King defines Retired Badass (I wish I could do that link HTML thing).
While gritty low-power play could be used to 'play through' the backstory of an heroic character, it can also be used to tell stories in their own right.  Think about most murder mysteries, for instance.  No one in them is particularly badass, the vicitim is often dispatched with a fairly minor 'attack power,' an ashtray to the noggin or a few drops of poison or a letter-opener or what-have-you.  But they're interesting stories.  Lots of great stories can be told about ordinary people with ordinary abilities, from beginning to end.  

 

 

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While gritty low-power play could be used to 'play through' the backstory of an heroic character, it can also be used to tell stories in their own right.  


I think gritty is tone, not power... I have a group of characters who are afflicted by a connection to a force we could call the remnants of Io, those who master it are heroic figures who bind themselves to justice like Bahamut and become their nations knights errant and general emergency force, those who do not descend in to a madness their minds decimated by forces they cant control ... they are captured and permanently imprisoned and sometimes killed if that isnt possible.  This latter element of the story is ignored in a non-gritty campaign in a grittier campaign the hero considers his job a penance for killing another child in a fit of madness when his link to the force first manifested. In story recurring nightmares plague these characters but in our game for the most part they learn a ritual that duplicates the eladrin trance state and it never really comes up, shrug. 

One of these characters could well be very powerful, they could also be just the detective archetype in your murder mystery.
  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, yeah, you can have high power and gritty, I suppose, though I think it can become forced pretty easily.  Y'know the kinda thing where you find yourself wondering why the uberguy doesn't just fix the gritty bits...

 

 

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