We are considering many changes in the rules for the LFR campaign. I would like to talk about the first of these changes with you now and solicit your input as the LFR staff also discusses this possiblity.
Problem: Making tables for people that rarely play, have disparate levels or are new players coming to established conventions, is difficult. For example, a brand new player and four other players (level 6, 8, 11, 12) all show up at your gameday and thus can't make a table; so all of the established players end up making another first level PC and replaying an old H1 adventure with the new player.
1) Do nothing; it's not a problem. You play whatever level you have, you make a 1st-level PC, or you don't play. That's it.
2) You make a PC of any level you wish (possibly with some level cap). This solves pretty much all issues, except perhaps fairness to invested players.
3) You are allowed to make 1st-, 4th-, 7th, or 11th-level PCs, but you can't play down. So if you make a 4th-level PC, you can only play H2 adventures, not H2 or H1.
4) You are allowed to make 1st-, 4th-, 7th, or 11th-level PCs, but you can play down. So if you make a 4th-level PC, you can play H1 or H2 adventures.
5) You are allowed to make 1st-, 5th-, 8th, or 11th-level PCs. This eliminates the play up/down issue.
6) You use the DMGII rules for leveling up/down play, and then go back to correct level. The real complication with this idea is balancing xp/gp/items for your level.
7) The campaign staff develops fastplay characters at various levels with various roles for this situation and a player using a cannot change them or get any xp/gp/item benefit added to their actual PC.
8) The campaign staff develops fastplay characters at various levels with various roles for this situation and the player keep them as their real character, gaining any xp/gp/item benefit from the adventure and using the retraining rules if they would like to make future adjustments.
The Globals are generally against Solution #1 since it doesn't solve the problem, and #3 seems unlikely as it is more complicated to enforce than #4 or #5. Solution #6 also seems quite complicated for the campaign and the player. #7 and #8 lock you into some choices we make for you, but might be easier for new players.
Concerns We are Already Discussing:
1) Inexperienced players may be inclined to make high level PCs where their lack of experience may become a significant barrier to completing an adventure (through time management issues when combats become even longer at high level, or through poor choices that threaten other PCs' survival). We are thinking the best way to limit this problem is to cap new PCs at 11th-level, which gives you four possible level bands to play in.
2) Jump-started PCs should not be as powerful as one properly leveled up. We hope to address this by limiting the starting gear (probably saying you get three items, level-1, level+0, and level+1) and gold to be less than an average LFR PC of the same level (and of course they will have no story objects), as well as where their gear can come from when starting. The exact details will be clarified once we decide which solution is best. It also seems likely that jump-started PCs will not have all of their found item slots available to them, since that would allow them to just pick all items of their new level in the first few adventures they play (possibly saying you loose all your slots of level-2 on down). We have also discussed the possiblity of limiting the sources a jump-started PC might choose their three items from (say the PHB or the book in which their class was published in). Another possibility might be that items put into their found item slots for the levels the PC wasn't actually played can never be sold for gold. Another option might be to limit the number of rewards cards a jump-started PC might be able to use compared to an organically leveled PC. None of these are set options are set in stone.
3) It seems quite likely that you WILL NOT be able to take an existing PC and just level them up, keeping gear and story objects you already have.
We realize this is a hot button issue for advocates on both sides, but as LFR is intended to be the gateway campaign with less barriers to play than other campaigns the RPGA is or will be developing, we need to address this issue. The question is what is the best approach? Please feel free to comment on this blog or in the forums belong to this group. How would you do it (esp. which approach)? What are the Pros and Cons? Please keep things civil and constructive.