Starting at higher levels, is it a minority that does this?

 I am not a big fan of having to drag my players through ½ a year of goblin caves just so that they get to the level where my REAL adventure starts. So for this I tend to start my campaigns above first level.  D&D has had a mixed bag of success in supporting this over the editions in my humble opinion. I would personally like to see quite a bit more support on this than weve seen so far in DNDN, and especially during a play test period where my group genuinly want to help out testing the rules across the broad spectrum of levels.

1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?

2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?

3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?
I've started quite a few campaigns higher than 1st level.  Never needed any special rules or support for it. 
Can you explain what in previous editions made it difficult for you to start at higher levels?

As for your list of questions:

1. Sometimes I like to start at higher levels. Maybe 2-3rd just to show that the characters have a little experience, while other times 6-10th to start playing when the party is already strong.

2. No. People play for different reasons. If you don't enjoy low level play you shouldn't feel badwrong. 

3. I don't really see a barrier that prevents higher level starts. 
I only start at level 1, maybe 1/3th of the time. 
In my group two of the DMs start us around level 5+ and the other loves to start us at level 1. I've never DMed though because I don't know a lot of rules off the top of my head. I'd love to DM sometime though because I really like creating.
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
I cant remember any rules for it in 2nd ed, but I was rather small back then and could have been lost in memory

 I found the magic item selections in both 3rd and 4th a bit awkward; 3rd was a buffet of choices and you could quite quickly get an internally very unbalanced (uh oh, used the balance word) group that could be hard to make encounters for, like spread of AC between 12-35 at the same table. 4th seemed quite artificial to me with a few very powerful items and no small things, and you always had to have the holy trinity of weapon/armor/neck or the system couldnt cope.

I guess by scaling back magic items in the current edition they have accomplished some of that...but there is so far only official guidance in putting items in to our adventures by random rolling, and not much (nothing) help for starting at higher level, which is a bit sad if you want to test out their latest Mud Sorcerers Tomb.

Other than items I would love some guidance or help on contacts, previous adventures, enemies and so on. A bit like the background system at the moment, but for established adventurers rather than newcomers. I am doing all of this myself usually with the players, but a few guidelines would be rather nice

 My main motivation for writing this is that the system and 90% of character generation always focus on making level one chars, and as a side note explain how to level them up. But if less than 90% of the player base play that way is it then worth it to rethink the way its done?

/edited for clearity
I prefer to always start at level 1 because I don't think I really know my character unless I've been with him at his worst. I think the rules should support creating a character at any level, though. Not just for starting at higher levels, but for bringing people in in the middle, or creating NPCs with class levels.
 I am not a big fan of having to drag my players through ½ a year of goblin caves just so that they get to the level where my REAL adventure starts. So for this I tend to start my campaigns above first level.  D&D has had a mixed bag of success in supporting this over the editions in my humble opinion. I would personally like to see quite a bit more support on this than weve seen so far in DNDN, and especially during a play test period where my group genuinly want to help out testing the rules across the broad spectrum of levels.

1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?

2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?

3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?

#1 Pre-4E, we started out at 3rd or 4th because we wanted a chance to survive one of the goblins from that goblin cave. In 4e, we again started at 3rd/4th, but it was because we liked picking out our magic items and getting the right feel of our characters. (IE: if your character's abilities hinge on an item or are just make a lot cooler by them, why not start with them instead of working up to competent/cool?)

#2 Enduring isn't fun(to me at least) and if you pile up a lot of not fun (re-rolling characters multiple times because you died on random monsters BEFORE the adventure starts) why are you playing the game? I play to enjoy myself not to grin and bare it until it is fun in a few levels.

#3 I'm happy with a section like in 3.5 or 4 that gives an expected wealth/equipment/magic when starting at higher than first. That's all I'd need. The fluff I can take care of myself.

I've never been a fan of it, personally, but go with whatever works for you. I feel like most adventurers never finish their careers and that should be reflected in the odds the players face.
It's pretty common, so I would definitely say that it's not "just you" and it doesn't "break the spirit of D&D".

I'm not sure what kind of rules you would need for that, though.  Maybe just some general guidelines, explaining how you got up to that point, for the purposes of introducing continuity.  There's no expectations of magic items, so it's literally just whatever the DM thinks is appropriate - some DMs like to hand out +3 swords to everyone, and some of them don't want anyone to have a magic item without having gone on an epic quest for it.  At most, they could offer out guidelines for what sorts of items would be equivalent in power, but magic items are notoriously difficult to compare across classes.
The metagame is not the game.
In every edition except 4E, I start characters at level 3. I hate the "country bumpkin" phase as both a player and a DM. It can be fun to play through every now and then, but I would rather the "adventuring baby steps" be part of the character's background so we can get right into the action.

Level 1 4E characters are already equivalent to level 3 characters in any other edition, and are assumed to be competent adventurers at the beginning of the game (or getting there, at least).
 There's no expectations of magic items, so it's literally just whatever the DM thinks is appropriate

The thing is, that in the past there has been an expectation of magic/wealth in the premade adventures, so you should have an idea where the creator think you should be to do well in the products they make. It doesn't even have to be magic items per se. A higher level character would be buying better armor and weapons (like special materials), potions, scrolls and such so it's nice to have a baseline wealth expectation.

Now if you run you own adventures it's not needed, to IMO it's still a valuable tool in setting my own expectations of wealth at higher levels. 

I have started at 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 12th level.  We even started at 0 level in the Reverse Dungeon.

It should be relatively easy to start at any level.  The mechanics of the game should not hinder this.
Everyone know how wealth was handled in Conan d20? 

If you have wealth above a certain level, every week you lose HALF of your wealth. (the assumption is it's on easy life or somesuch)

Effectively, every adventure starts with the PCs just owning a sturdy sword and a loincloth, so to speak.  
It would be cool if something similar could work in Next.

In DnD, I would expect if a character gets a significant magic item, they get to keep them, as items can become iconic for a character.  Frodo had his cloak, mithril shirt and the Sting. Arthur had Excalibur and it's scabbard. 

The thing is, items which are not iconic should not be essential.  
It's been many years since I played a level 1 characters. The groups that I play with typically like having more mechanical options available to them than are available to level 1 characters. Even in campaigns where our characters are themed as being level 1, we'll still start at at least level 3 or 4.

There's no expectations of magic items, so it's literally just whatever the DM thinks is appropriate...

An expectation of zero is still an expectation. It is practically impossible for there not to be an expectation of some sort, so I really wish that people would stop trying to dodge the issue like this.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Everyone know how wealth was handled in Conan d20?

Conan d20 was, imo, the best ogl product ever. Of course, I'm baised since Howard is one of my favorite authors. But even then, the Conan mechanics are so superior compared to most of the other copy-and-paste ogl systems.
why can't you start your adventure at 1st level? Why does your beginning party have to face off against goblins? Its up to the DM to make 1st level as heroic and epic as 20th.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

An expectation of zero is still an expectation. It is practically impossible for there not to be an expectation of some sort, so I really wish that people would stop trying to dodge the issue like this.

The expectation is that, whatever you want to do with it, that's your own choice and you need to take responsibility for it.  The game, itself, is neutral on the matter.

The game could take a stance on it, by saying that you should have X number/quality of magic items by level Y, as 3E and 4E did.  They could even have X = 0, as a base assumption. What would that benefit anyone, though? Marginally better balance in planning encounters, at the cost of alienating anyone who wants to have more or less stuff.

The metagame is not the game.
 I am not a big fan of having to drag my players through ½ a year of goblin caves just so that they get to the level where my REAL adventure starts. So for this I tend to start my campaigns above first level.  D&D has had a mixed bag of success in supporting this over the editions in my humble opinion. I would personally like to see quite a bit more support on this than weve seen so far in DNDN, and especially during a play test period where my group genuinly want to help out testing the rules across the broad spectrum of levels.

1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?

2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?

3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?





It all depends on how you view level-range in your campaign.

Some people like to play with fast leveling considering levels 1-5 novice, 6-10 medium, 10+ heroic characters, etc.

I, for one, like the opposite... not rushing levels so that players can better grasp a sense of what's powerful and what's not. So that they can look at a Beholder (for example) and say "Wow, that's a tough foe," instead of, "Yeah, that's just not for us yet."
So I make my games more like:
Level 1 you're like most warriors and thieves and such in the world.
Level 2 you're already starting to stand out.
Level 5 you're probably a renowned wizard, a commander in an army or band of warriors, etc.
Level 8 you already have the skills like very few in your lifetime will compare. Imagine yourself (you, the player) taking down a 6ft Troll all by yourself... that's how amazing your character probably is at this level.
Level 10+ you're entering the epicness of legendary characters like Conan, Legolas, Merlin and such.


But rushing levels more quickly (or even skipping them like you said) can also work for a good game, especially if your group don't get to play too often.


Just keep in mind when you're doing that what it means for your campaign.
If your players will start in Level 5 does that mean they're merely skipping the "commoner levels" in your world or does it mean they'll start already as famous warriors, army captains, renowned mages, etc?

If your average soldier is Level 1 in your campaign then a Level 3 character is already a very skilled one!
If your averade soldier ranges from Level 1 to 5 then Level 3 is not quite heroic-material yet.



As for your questions:

1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?
I wouldn't consider this an issue. It's more a taste thing. Some like it, some don't. 


2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?
The "spirit of D&D" is to play the game in however manner you think is more entertaining, even if you have to change the rules for that. They even say so at the start of every core rule book in any edition.
So, it's perfecly fine to do that.
;) 


3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?
Just create the 1st level characters than go "adding" levels, I supposed.
Easy stuff! 


 
An expectation of zero is still an expectation. It is practically impossible for there not to be an expectation of some sort, so I really wish that people would stop trying to dodge the issue like this.

The expectation is that, whatever you want to do with it, that's your own choice and you need to take responsibility for it.  The game, itself, is neutral on the matter.

No it isnt .. it has decided to not give me tools... that isnt about neutrality.
The game needs to give DMs the tools to account for the increased character potency that having more or less magic items create.

Its a cop out. 
  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."

 

     Why does the game have levels at all?

    Think about it.  It would be tremendously easier to just design a game where everybody is 5th level.  Leveling up characters is also a lot of work.  Why do we do that?

     The answer is that D&D has always been based on the idea that the player wants rewards, which means higher levels and greater powers.  That in turn means that starting at higher levels means you cant't improve as much.  In effect, if you start at 5th level, you play 25 levels instead of 30, thus reducing your total play.
     More important, you spend your entire career fighting orcs , or fighting giants.  It's the same thing since you still have the same challenge week after week.  No matter how much fun the first fight is, the 100th is going to get rather dull.  You need that new thrill of fighting hobgoblins instead of ors, and then orges, and then trolls...  You just keep on playing longer.
    You may say "I just don't want to fight kobolds and goblins." but you are still causing a net reduction in play, which we of course don't want to cause.  So the official rules need to argue for starting at 1st level.  There will be the exceptions of course, but the whole design of D&D, and all of its clones, is based on starting at 1st level.
     Why does the game have levels at all?

    Think about it.  It would be tremendously easier to just design a game where everybody is 5th level.  Leveling up characters is also a lot of work.  Why do we do that?

     The answer is that D&D has always been based on the idea that the player wants rewards, which means higher levels and greater powers.  That in turn means that starting at higher levels means you cant't improve as much.  In effect, if you start at 5th level, you play 25 levels instead of 30, thus reducing your total play.
     More important, you spend your entire career fighting orcs , or fighting giants.  It's the same thing since you still have the same challenge week after week.  No matter how much fun the first fight is, the 100th is going to get rather dull.  You need that new thrill of fighting hobgoblins instead of ors, and then orges, and then trolls...  You just keep on playing longer.
    You may say "I just don't want to fight kobolds and goblins." but you are still causing a net reduction in play, which we of course don't want to cause.  So the official rules need to argue for starting at 1st level.  There will be the exceptions of course, but the whole design of D&D, and all of its clones, is based on starting at 1st level.



I will counter with this:

Say I move to a new area, and I find people who are playing Next... but the campaign has made them get to level 12 already.

Not wanting to make me struggle, the DM allows me to roll a level 12 character... how much gold does that character have?  What gear?  How many magical items?  How are magical items determined?

You could give the hardcore answer of "you start at first level", but seriously, dude, it's not fun to be a level 1 fighter when the Wizard is throwing Lightning bolts around and the other fighter is a damage sponge of doom.

I just ran an 8th level playtest today, and I had the players come with 900 gold for gear, and I then rolled 8 random magical items because I wanted them to feel like they've been adventuring for, well, 8 levels.  1-7, uncommon thing, 8, increase rarity by a level and re-roll.

As it stands, Next has no guidelines for "if you want to start at this level, do this".  Now, it's a playtest.  But if you want to, say, run the Mud Sorcerer, it's silly to have no rules, or even guidelines, for character creation beyond 1st level.
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
There's no expectations of magic items, so it's literally just whatever the DM thinks is appropriate - some DMs like to hand out +3 swords to everyone, and some of them don't want anyone to have a magic item without having gone on an epic quest for it. 



I've been known to give +3 swords to starting 1st level characters before.  Just depends on what type of campaign one wants to run. 

Say I move to a new area, and I find people who are playing Next... but the campaign has made them get to level 12 already.

Not wanting to make me struggle, the DM allows me to roll a level 12 character... how much gold does that character have?  What gear?  How many magical items?  How are magical items determined?

The answer is... whatever the DM thinks is appropriate. How did the other level 12 characters get their magic items? Did they just manage to find a few trinkets during their adventures, and now the fighter has a +1 sword? If so, then maybe the new character also has a +1 weapon. Did the rest of the party each get a wondrous item of useful properties, specifically tied to what would be useful for that character? If so, then give the new character one of those. Is everyone else loaded down with +3 rings and dancing shields?

They can't write down guidelines without invalidating the existing characters. If they say that a new level 12 character should have a +1 weapon and one other uncommon item, then that's not fair to any other characters who have survived that far through actual play and hadn't found any magical loot at all.

The metagame is not the game.
For me it always depended on the adventure, as Knights we started at 0lvl at times.  But we always filled non game weekends with making characters, so we always had three or four to chose from.
1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?

Depending on the campaign, I might start at higher then 1st. However, most of my campaigns are low level and in most editions I enjoy levels 1-5 most as both player and DM, so I rarely do it. It makes more sense for short tightly ploted campaigns that will only cover a few levels.

2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?

It shouldn't but there is a certain subset of people who hate to start at anything other then 1st. At some level they think of playing D&D as something you win by playing a character from 1st to max level, so starting at higher then 1st or ending early is cheating. The game designers also need to avoid setting the 1st level too low because groups of new players don't understand how to handle those situations.

3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?

Other then the PHB and pointing out that you can start above 1st and the DMG explaining when it is a good idea, along with some guidelines for new characters above 1st level, there isn't much to do. However, one radical suggestion that has been put forth multiple times was to set the default starting level at 3rd-5th level and build the PHB rules about starting characters at that level. Then campaigns that wanted to start at very low power level could adjust down and a lot of multi-classing problems would go away.

1. Is this an issue for anyone else than me?
My group has pretty much always done that 70% of the time with D&D. The only reason we don't do that very often for other systems is because we usually just one off other systems and go lvl 1 for training purposes. Not an issue, just our style.

2. Does it "break the spirit" of D&D not to endure the leveling up from level 1?
I don't care if it does.

3. What can be done, and what support/rules are needed to start at higher levels?
Make it so we don't have to pull out a calculator to math out wealth by level + pick a tidal wave of starting equipment? Oh wait, if equipment isn't expected by the system balance, then I can just DM say "basics only." I guess my main problem is taken care of.
I play with a lot of new players a lot of the time, and thus start at level 1 more than I otherwise would. D&D isn't great at it, but it does an okay-ish job of sort of introducing things a bit at a time and ramping up complexity as you go, and so it's just a lot easier for new players if we start at level 1, plus new players aren't already jaded of the first few levels of play. (Because campaigns have lifespans, most people have spent significantly more time with early levels than with later levels.) It's also easy to forget, but even for somewhat experienced ones, putting together a level five character (at least in 3.5/PF) is a bit daunting for people who don't really have system-head.

For PF with experienced players, I've started at level 3 a few times. Things just "kick in" a little more there.

Starting at higher levels is usually reserved for one-shots.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
The only real downside is that most editions simply fall apart around level 12.  Thus, starting at level 6 means you've cut out about half of the useful lifetime out of a campaign.
Back when I played 3.5 I started my players at third almost all the time. In 4E the players nearly always start at 1st. Unless its a one-shot and then I ussually roll a d20 to determine starting level.

I would like to see advice on starting at higher levels without outright saying exactly what your supposed to have. A single page that detailed the guidelines that you should look at in your own game when making a character above 1st. For example, if the world is a high fantasy setting then perhaps giving the players all a few magic items would be in order. If the players are starting in a gladiator's arena then perhaps all they have is basic weapons and armor, if that.

Basically if they can give advice on what you need to keep in mind for characters starting above 1st they don't need to give hard and fast lists, and that, to me, is a suitable middle ground.
The only real downside is that most editions simply fall apart around level 12.  Thus, starting at level 6 means you've cut out about half of the useful lifetime out of a campaign.



We rarely played beyond 14th, the feel if changes so drastic at the higher levels, and by then you have acomplished so much.
We just reconvert our existing characters every edition, although as we get older it gets harder to jump straight in with a new rules set.  I tend to knock off a couple of levels everytime we do this just to give us a chance to play up to their pre-existing level quickly, then I switch back to levelling up when I feel like it.  After 23 years, our highest level characters are level 15 and that's only because we're doing the giant mods so we have no choice but to level up or we wont be able to hit the next batch of giants' AC.  Roll on bounded accuracy I say.
The expectation is that, whatever you want to do with it, that's your own choice and you need to take responsibility for it.  The game, itself, is neutral on the matter.

So, the expectation is "You can figure out how to balance them youself. Why should you need the help of professional game designers?". If that's neutral, then it's probably one of the stupidest forms of neutrality I've ever seen.

No it isnt .. it has decided to not give me tools... that isnt about neutrality.
The game needs to give DMs the tools to account for the increased character potency that having more or less magic items create.
Its a cop out. 

Bingo!

The answer is... whatever the DM thinks is appropriate.

That is a cop-out answer, plain and simple.
"What ability score do Elves get a bonus to?" "Whatever one(s) the DM thinks appropriate."
"What do Fighters get a level 3?" "Whatever the DM thinks is appropriate."
"How much damage does a Longsword do?" "However much the DM thinks is appropriate."

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
The current design of magical items, particularly with something like gauntlets of ogre power, makes them extremely difficult to balance.  AD&D solved this by explicitly not balancing PCs against monsters - there was no "expected encounter for a level 8 party".  Creating characters beyond first level was only ever suggested as an option when introducing a new character into an existing party of higher-level characters, against whom you would have several points of comparison.

The design of magical items in AD&D, which they are attempting to reproduce in Next, is incompatible with the idea of Challenge Ratings or Experience Budgets. If they try to shoe-dini it in, then the only reasonable expectation is that you start with no magical items - so that the DM will be forced to take into account the effects of every magical item that is allowed.

The metagame is not the game.
Problem of 1st level before 4E was lack of signature abilities of a class before level 3-6 and of course the "get killed by house cat HP value".

4E solved that with frontloading HP and reduced and fixed(very good) HP gain later.

Also with no or joke-that-is-multiclassing in 4E they could also front load class features and do not worry about multiclass dipping.
The answer is... whatever the DM thinks is appropriate.

That is a cop-out answer, plain and simple.
"What ability score do Elves get a bonus to?" "Whatever one(s) the DM thinks appropriate."
"What do Fighters get a level 3?" "Whatever the DM thinks is appropriate."
"How much damage does a Longsword do?" "However much the DM thinks is appropriate."



I spend years and years of AD&D gaming where our game wasn't too far off from that.  Of course the game didn't automatically give my fighter some special whing-dango ability at 5th level.  If I want my fighter's skin to be hard as iron, requiring +1 weapons to hit, my fighter needs to bathe in the Pool of the Warrior's Dream.  Characters all had abilities the DM just made up that required some type of questing to get it, or rather, we would say we wanted something like something and go asking oracles or whatnot how to get it.

One side effect of 3&4e play, where such whing-dango abilities are more readily integrated in the leveling-up, is that the games I play have significantly less of the questing for power stuff.
we tend to start at level 1 but, if a TPK happens or we change campaigns for some reason ( chamge of Dm becouse Dm diden't have eniugh time due to rl) we tend to start at the same level that the campaign before ended.
working our way trough the whole level range in this manner. 
The current design of magical items, particularly with something like gauntlets of ogre power, makes them extremely difficult to balance.

So professional game designers should therefore dump this responsibility on inexpreienced DMs? Yeah, that sounds like the best solution.

I spend years and years of AD&D gaming where our game wasn't too far off from that.

I am very sorry for your terrible experience and am glad that you were able to get over it and stay with the hobby.

One side effect of 3&4e play, where such whing-dango abilities are more readily integrated in the leveling-up, is that the games I play have significantly less of the questing for power stuff.

Yup. Isn't it great? You can play a D&D game now and focus on the actual plot and role-playing without needing to worry about your character's power if you don't want to.
Also, WTF does "whing-dango" mean?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Problem of 1st level before 4E was lack of signature abilities of a class before level 3-6 and of course the "get killed by house cat HP value".

4E solved that with frontloading HP and reduced and fixed(very good) HP gain later.

Also with no or joke-that-is-multiclassing in 4E they could also front load class features and do not worry about multiclass dipping.



Nah, 1st level 4e characters fight kobolds and goblins just like every other edition. 
Problem of 1st level before 4E was lack of signature abilities of a class before level 3-6 and of course the "get killed by house cat HP value".

4E solved that with frontloading HP and reduced and fixed(very good) HP gain later.

Also with no or joke-that-is-multiclassing in 4E they could also front load class features and do not worry about multiclass dipping.



Nah, 1st level 4e characters fight kobolds and goblins just like every other edition. 



Yes, but they do NOT die to one lucky shot.

Even average wizard has 20 HP and strongest and luckiest(critical) attack deals 14 damage from lvl 1 monsters.


The current design of magical items, particularly with something like gauntlets of ogre power, makes them extremely difficult to balance.

So professional game designers should therefore dump this responsibility on inexperienced DMs? Yeah, that sounds like the best solution.

The problem is that the value of gauntlets of ogre power depends entirely on the base strength of whoever is using them.  The DM, who knows how much strength the fighter (or cleric, or whoever) had before putting them on, is the only one in position to determine how actually powerful they are.

The correct solution to balancing them (especially since they're using Universal Ability Modifiers) is to make them a flat +2 to strength, such that their benefit remains constant regardless of the wearer (assuming they go to the fighter, which is the most likely assumption). The thing is, that option goes directly counter to more basic design goals.

The crowd to which the designers have been listening have declared that they want the fun and unbalanced, old magical items. In order to follow that goal, the designers can't create them to be balanced. It's a hard division between DM-empowerment and system-enforced balance, (and since 4E was too far on the system end of the spectrum, they're looking to AD&D players for their take on what's more fun). They can design the game to be balanced without magical items, but these two camps are otherwise irreconcilable on this issue.

The metagame is not the game.