Monday, June 4, 2012

Turnabout

In LBB-only OD&D, dwarves can rise no higher than 6th level as fighting men, halflings can rise no higher than 4th level in that same class, and elves can reach 4th level as fighters and 8th level as magic-users. Greyhawk increased the level limits of all available non-humans, considerably in some cases. For example, halflings were unlimited in their advancement in the new class of thief. AD&D continued this trend, with every race being capable of unlimited advancement in at least one class (usually thief) and the level cap for other available classes somewhere in the range of 8-10 (halflings being the prime exception -- I guess Gary really didn't like the little guys). And of course Unearthed Arcana further expanded the options and scope of advancement for demihumans.

Equally interesting is what the 1981 B/X rules do for demihumans. First, they pare down OD&D's post-Greyhawk options for demihumans to a single racial class. However, in each case, the racial class has a level limit much higher than the limits found in OD&D (or even AD&D in most cases). For instance, a dwarf can rise to 12th level in his fighter-inspired racial class, while elves can reach 10th and halflings 8th -- all more than what's generally possible in either OD&D or AD&D. It's only in the matter of thievery that B/X severely curtails the advancement of demihumans compared to other versions of D&D.

I bring all this up because, over the last four years, a lot of virtual ink has been spilled in the old school community about demihuman level limits and their supposed rightness or wrongness. I used to be of the opinion that level limits were worth defending on two main grounds, one historical and one philosophical. The historical is that all versions of the game prior to 2000 included them, so, therefore, they're part of the game's heritage. The philosophical is, I admit, an ex post facto justification that it subtly discourages the play of non-humans and thereby keeps the game humanocentric, as Gygax intended.

I'm no longer convinced that the philosophical justification holds much water, particularly in light of the fact that every version of the game after 1974 has continually upped the level limits on demihumans across the board. Likewise, if one really wishes to limit the number of demihumans in a campaign, there are simpler ways to do so, such as making them NPC-only or requiring, as some old school RPGs did, a roll on a random table to see if one can play a demihuman, with the table weighted heavily in favor of humans.

The historical argument holds more weight for me, though not as much as it once did, in light of the continual increase in the level limits over the years. More importantly, as a practical matter, I'm not sure the level limits really matter. In my OD&D-flavored Labyrinth Lord (which closely follows B/X) campaign, the lowest level limit for non-humans is 8 for goblins (since they're modeled on halflings) and, after more than two years of play, no character has yet reached level 8. My recollection of the good ol' days is that it was uncommon, even when we played nearly daily, for PCs to get much higher than 9th or 10th level, meaning that neither dwarves nor elves would feel the bite of level limits, generally speaking.

I get the desire to want to limit demihumans in some way compared to humans; I really do. However, recent experience has taught me that it's, ultimately, not a big enough deal to worry about unless one's intention is simply to play the game as originally conceived without alteration. Otherwise, I have come to see level limits as a distinction without a difference -- a way to rein in demihuman "power" without actually doing so in a way that matters for the vast majority of D&D campaigns.

So, if it makes everyone who hates level limits happier to know they've won me over, enjoy. I am defeated and recant of my past errors. You ascending AC heretics, on the other hand, I'm still at war with you.

53 comments:

  1. I've always kept demihuman level limits "soft" meaning that advancement just drastically slows once they reach the limit. Otherwise, the only reasons one would play a human are hopelessly average stats, dual classing, and aesthetics.
    Demihumans start the game with a bag of free abilities and live effectively forever as opposed to humans who are lucky to squeeze out 70 years. Eventually, your human will have to retire, so will your elf or dwarf, but it'll be with your human's great grand children.

    Also, death to the non-believers who worship at the feet of ascending AC!

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  2.  DCC rpg takes a novel approach to this that I like in theory (just got my copy, so won't be playing it for a little while):

    Random generation of race. The vast majority of potential "occupations" are humans, with a smaller proportion being divided among Dwarves, Elves and Halflings. Also, their racial characteristics are such that, generally speaking, any demi-human adventuring with a human party is either a spy or an outcast. Furthermore, this background can (very simply) affect everything from the PCs alignment to his duration as a party member.

    Also, surviving to 5th level, allegedly should be quite difficult.

    In other words, the level ceiling will be found very naturally at 0 Hit Points before it ever reaches one borne of a synthesized game mechanic.

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  3. "
    it was uncommon, even when we played nearly daily, for PCs to get much higher than 9th or 10th level, meaning that neither dwarves nor elves would feel the bite of level limits, generally speaking." 

    I experienced (and am currently experiencing) the same thing -- demihuman level caps may be wrong philosophically but rarely mean anything practically.

    And I'm totally with you on the Ascending AC thing. Descending AC forever!

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  4. I've never applied the limits to single classed PC's. 

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  5. I've always thought of racial level limits as being absurd. If the GM wants less demihuman in his games, he merely has to introduce racism, bigotry, etc. to discourage play of demihuman PCs -- or random tables at character generation.

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  6. I go with Joe on this one. Soft level limits still impose penalties (in most cases rather drastic ones if you go with 2x or 3x experience to advance) while allowing for powerful NPCs to exist without "breaking the rules" so to say.

    I think the philosophy of level limits still holds water; it isn't to prevent more demihumans from existing, but rather to prevent a 400 year old elf from advancing to level 80 or to prevent a 150 year-old dwarf from advancing to level 40.

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  7. I think race-as-class is a much better way to encourage the playing of human PCs. If you want to have the potential of being the best wizard possible, you need to play a magic-user. All the demihumans classes involve some degree of compromise between class archetypes.

    Also, I have found strict 3d6 in order to be practically speaking humanocentric, because many players choose class based on prime requisite. For example, high strength naturally leads to playing a fighter (most of the time).

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  8. Also, I love level-limits, but more as method of keeping the power level manageable (that is, level limits for humans too). This is really the E6 approach, though applied more generally. For example, using B/X as a complete game (max human level would be 14), or like ACKS (which also has level limits for every class).

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  9. I'm neutral on the whole matter since I can see support for both sides.

    Since PC's are supposed to be special in some way, you don't really need level limits to keep the demi-human "Methuselahs" from reaching 100th level.  Normal demi-humans can't reach any level to begin with.  If I recall correctly, normal humans, dwarves, and halflings are all 0-level and normal elves are 1st level (source Monster Manual or DMG?).  PCs have the ability to gain levels (that's what makes them PCs).  NPCs also have the ability to "gain levels" but since the DM constructs NPCs, they can be limited to whatever level desired.  If you want a 100th level elf NPC, make one, otherwise, DMs can keep it reasonable.  If a player wants to role play an elf for hundreds of game years to reach 100th level, let him try.  I got a character to 11th level once in AD&D and it took me from 1986 to 1992.  So it should take someone fifty or sixty years of playing every week to get to 100th level right?  My point is this: you really only have to worry about PCs gaining levels and real-world constraints on game play will give you your level limits outright, even for humans.  So, level limits are not needed.

    However, if you take the Silver Age "realism" tack, then I guess you would have to have level limits, otherwise it wouldn't make sense for a five hundred year old elf to only be an 11th level wizard.  Hell, my human wizard (above) reached 11th level in about five or six game years (which happened to correspond to five or six real years of play).  Level limits would then make sense if you approach your campaign from this point of view.  You would need to have some reason, some internally consistent justification as to why centuries-old game-world inhabitants don't have astronomical levels.  So, level limits are needed.

    Take your pick.  And I'm sure there are other arguments for either side.

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  10. I've actually turned the other way on this. I always ignored level limits (not that it comes up often) but now I'm leaning towards liking them. Not from the perspective of discouraging players from playing them, but in the sense of world building and limiting high level NPCs throughout the world. For example, the highest level character in a hobbit town will be 8th. Same with goblins whereas the toughest orc might be 12th level (haven't decided). In any event, limiting non-humans is a way to set the reality of the game world in a way that will discourage power creep. It still is humanocentric in a way but it allows a 13th level human fighter to know he's better than any dwarf. At least any normal dwarf. 

    I know I'm not explaining this well, I need to sit down and collate my thoughts. 

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  11. I went around in circles on this and have wound up limiting everyone, humans included, to 8th level - and I may go lower. Name level still exists, there's just no normal progressive mechanical way to get there. Which means that everyone who has got there has "cheated" somehow; broken the rules of the world, embarked on a path away from the Normal.

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  12.  Third edition made the game humanocentric by making humans the strongest race by far--an extra feat at 1st level trumps anything the demihumans get. Powergaming perhaps, but I can't deny its effectiveness. In 10 years of DM'ing I've only had maybe a half-dozen demihuman PCs.

    But I've never bought the idea that demihumans would take over the world without forced level limits. With their comparatively short lives, humans would be much more driven to take up PC classes in order to get rich or die trying. Demihumans have time on their side, so they would be more content to work steady, non-deadly jobs. The rare PC-classed demihuman is probably on some personal quest, and will retire from adventuring when it is complete (assuming he doesn't die in the attempt).

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  13. I just give humans a 10% exp bonus, +1 to any stat at creation and call it even (allow demi-humans unlimited level limits). It's worked for a while. Almost everyone of my players are humans.
     

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  14. I like some of what level limits do towards encouraging the different races to different classes. On the other hand, there are better ways to encourage more humans and encourage non-humans to take certain classes.

    The biggest issue I have seen is making humans less desirable, or only desirable  for certain classes. With AD&D, we almost never saw human thieves. We also saw a lot of elves and half-elves.

    When I recently ran a retro high-mortality campaign, we actually saw players start to prefer elves. Because if your PC never made it to 2nd level, and elf who could both cast and fight was a superior character. That's a problem...

    I love how Burning Wheel has really encouraged most of the PCs in our play to be human. In the campaigns we have run over time, we have had one dwarf, one elf, and one roden PC out of 11 or 12 PCs. Some folks have run specifically non-human campaigns, but in a general campaign, the flexibility of humans is truly appreciated.

    Frank

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  15. I think a whole essay could be written on all the ignored rules in D&D and what makes a given rule easy for teenagers to ignore vs hard for teenagers to ignore

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  16. I've always been of the opinion that level limits and multiclassing are joined at the hip, and one counterbalances the other. If you have uniquely demihuman multiclassing, then the level limits balance the advantage of multiclassing. This concept of balancing an advantage that occurs mostly at low levels with a disadvantage that occurs mostly at high levels is fundamentally so quirky that, paradoxically, it becomes  such a strong flavor element of the game system that I'm reluctant to abandon it! The same thing applies for the uneven power ratio between melee and caster characters.

    I think this can be defended at the level of introducing narrative drama into party dynamics. At low levels, the mage is weak and helpless, and relies on the fighter for protection. At high levels, the fighter becomes the beneficiary of having a powerful mage friend. This idea that characters are never universally "the strongest" sends a message that the game isn't about min-max or balance, but about cooperative play. Sometimes a group has a Gandalf and a Pippin, and it's still fun to be Pippin. (Maybe more fun!) But today no one ever wants to be a Pippin, since the game is about power scaling rather than interparty dynamics.

    The fact that this mechanic has been mostly abandoned by the community (even some of the retro die-hards) is an indication of how the game has shifted away from occupying niches in large-group cooperative play, and towards single-character optimization. I think it's a shame, because there are lots of good fantasy novels (and comic books, and genre movies,  etc.) in which characters of differing power need to cooperate, and now all RPGs are incapable of ever reproducing group dynamics that work like that.

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  17. Perhaps a better way is would be to trade it off at character generation - if you single-class then there's no limit; if you multi-class then there are limits.

    On the other hand, the IDEA that humans dominate because their "special power" is unlimited advancement is a very powerful one for me and I think it's a pretty cool way of handling the matter without actually impinging on players' fun in any practical way.

    Even if the demi-human does hit a cap, most DMs will allow them to find ways around it, creating plot hooks for the player to follow up and thereby spurring the game on.

    So, in all, level limits have no downside in my mind.

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  18. I've only had one player in my game ever hit a level cap, a level 8 gnome priest. His player was pretty bummed.

    It would stand to follow that any other gnome priests in the world would also top out at level 8, and only those who were in someway involved in actively gaining experience would ever get that far. I reminded the player of this and noted that his character must be among the most powerful gnome priests ever to say a prayer and was by all means, a living legend and one of the most favored devotees of his god.
    This was reflected in game by the priest having access to special once-a-day powers, and the occasional vision.

    I think there is a reason for every rule and so it is important to use those rules as instruments, not straightjackets. Try to figure out why a rule is there, then how it applies to your game, then what that means for your campaign. Isn't DMing fun?

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  19. Write that essay. I will read it. 

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  20. My theory is that level limits are the way D&D models demi-humans being small and weak. 

    People talk about them being overpowered relative to humans.  Think about that; they're half human size!   A PC gnome slapped around a paladin of mine during an outbreak of PVP and it just seemed... wrong.  Those minor stat adjustments (plus one here, minus one there) aren't enough impact on the rules.  

    I think the level cap at 4th is realistic for a halfling.  I don't expect any of them to become badass at anything, ever. 

    An alternative way to model the suckyness of the halfling I've been considering:  only rolling 2d6 for STR instead of 3, nerfing their movement rates and carrying capacity.  Harsh for a PC, but accurate I think for what halflings are supposed to be. 

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  21. My recollection of the good ol' days is that it was uncommon, even when
    we played nearly daily, for PCs to get much higher than 9th or 10th
    level, meaning that neither dwarves nor elves would feel the bite of
    level limits, generally speaking."

    You're thinking of it strictly in terms of how these rules affect player characters directly. Common mistake.

    It's really more about how these rules influence world design. They "balance" humans and demihumans on the level of *settings*, not parties.

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  22.  I was the teenager who could not ignore any rule, even the demonstratedly suckiest.

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  23. I think this is on the right track, but probably doesn't go far enough.  Before name level, +10% experience means that humans (sometimes) level up one session earlier.  After name level, it means that humans gain eleven levels to the demi-human's ten.

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  24. Note that Unearthed Arcana also introduced the human-only character creation method (pick class first, then roll a bucket of dice to ensure that you make the cut).  This suggests that Gary was still working from the same philosophical position, but realised that level limits were not doing the job.

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  25. The 'Longevity' argument is such crap. Sure, ok, Dwarves and Elves potentially live centuries, but only if they don't get killed while on some damn fool 'get rich quick' scheme (y'know, like the typical 'adventure').

    Also, a Halfling that can 'fight as four men' (or more as level limit increases) is pretty damn impressive .

    My 'rationalization' is that level limits reflect Ambition. If you can expect a short, brutal life, then you are more likely to take great risks to 'get yours' while you can.

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  26. Sure, you Elf or Dwarf may  have a better chance of  living centuries longer then their human counterparts, but those  statistics  are drastically shorten when danger comess into play. If a PC is  trudging off into  a monster infested wilderness or dungeon delving their chances of survival are no different if they can live to 70 years or  700.

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  27. Remember dual-classed humans from AD&D?  Did anyone ever actually use those rules?

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    1. Heck NO! I still dont use them in AD&D.
      I stick with demihuman level limits. I use demihumans as races that dont really want anything to do with those foolish humans anyway.
      I let the humans dual class with no penalty. (provided they pay gp, spend time and find a teacher!)
      After that I judge how they play and divide their xp accordingly between the two classes.

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  28. I have IMHO the perfect solution for the level-limit issue of demihumans.

    Do away with level-limits, demihumans can play whatever class they want if it fits the zeitgest of the setting and their ability scores qualify.

    But remove any and all racial abilities and modifiers. No ability scores pluses or minuses, no inherent skills, no perception bonuses or infravision, no increases to attack scores with specific weapons, no extra free languages, no modifiers to saving throws or racial saving throw tables, no immunities, no racial classes. Nada, zip, zilch, zero.

    The only thing that defines a demihuman is greater longevity (irrelevant unless generations of time pass during your campaign), a racial language, physical appearance, size and the attitudes of outsiders towards them. 

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  29. Most of my players were human. Non human PCs tended to advance just under the cap as it rose with different supplements / editions. I always thought if they really wanted to limit non human PCs they should have penalized them in experience and slowed their advance. I considered a system with Elves getting 10% of normal xp (dwarves 20% etc.)  effectively slowing their progression to about the same as a human of the same effective racial age range. The humans progressed faster because they were more driven / had less time. demihumans progressed more slowly reflecting their lack of drive and slower development. Never implemented it because level caps weren't being reached and my one (at the time) elf player would have had a cow :)

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  30. The place where I find that level caps make a big, flavorful difference are cases where parties are being generated at a high level -- e.g., one-shot tournaments, such as my recent G1-3 games. If the nominal level is above the caps then you get your world-breaking parties made of all humans; excepting certain demi-human thief combos.

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  31. I would accept class level restrictions in non-human races as long as the latter had some sort of race level advancement indifferent to class. For instance, dwarves could regenerate, walk through stone, speak with earth etc etc. Elves could "return from the dead" freely, speak with plants and animals, scry with their spirit etc.

    This could be gained as class level increases or as soon as the class limit was reached. This way the non-human races would have something magical and mysterious surrounding them, sacrificing the crazy will for constant progression (as human have) but still remain competent. 

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  32. And you could role play their affinities, likes, dislikes, and aptitudes.  Elves would tend to take longsword proficiency, dwarves would take appropriate secondary skills, etc.  Extra languages would be based on Intelligence only (just like humans). 

    Or you could keep some bonuses, but apply penalties of equal magnitude in other (useful) areas.

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  33. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 5, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    "My recollection of the good ol' days is that it was uncommon, even when
    we played nearly daily, for PCs to get much higher than 9th or 10th
    level, meaning that neither dwarves nor elves would feel the bite of
    level limits, generally speaking."

    This is my recollection as well.  My longest 1st edition campaign (2 years played weekly) only saw the PC's around 8th level, and no one had hit their level limit.

    Also, my recollection is that virtually no one played a single classed demihuman character, with the occasional exception of dwarf fighters.  They were almost always multiclassed, which slows down advancement in each class considerably.  When my long campaign ended the human players were around 8th level, but the party leader (a half-elven cleric/ranger) was something like 5th/4th.

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  34. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

     "I considered a system with Elves getting 10% of normal xp (dwarves 20% etc.)"

    Personally I think that's a little harsh.  Demihumans would effectively never gain levels in most campaigns.

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  35. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 5, 2012 at 11:07 AM

     I never saw it happen in 10 years of running 1st edition.

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  36. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM

     I agree.  I have no problem with level limits (especially since they rarely matter anyway in practice).

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  37. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 5, 2012 at 3:41 PM

     Good post.  This is exactly why I play Old School.

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  38. Marshall MahurinJune 5, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    "You ascending AC heretics, on the other hand, I'm still at war with you."

    As I prepare to run a Chainmail game at North Texas RPG Con, I am reminded that ascending AC is the original method in the man-to-man combat tables.  The AC is unnumbered on the melee chart but is numbered ascending on the ranged chart.  Just saying ;-)

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  39. Marshall MahurinJune 5, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    "You ascending AC heretics, on the other hand, I'm still at war with you."

    As I prepare to run a Chainmail game at North Texas RPG Con, I am reminded that ascending AC is the original method in the man-to-man combat tables. The AC is unnumbered on the melee chart but is numbered ascending on the ranged chart. Just saying ;-)

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  40. You ascending AC heretics, on the other hand, I'm still at war with you.


    Ah, a kindred spirit.  That's ONE change I'll never reconcile with (well, that and Fort/Ref/Will).  Yes, I did at one time play 3.5 but no more.  Decending AC is the way I lairned it and that's the way I'll play it.

    -SJ

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  41. Precisely Slerotin.  I for one like Dwarves but it has nothing to do with their inherent magic resistance or ability to find stone traps. I simply enjoy the concept of the race.

    And I've been of the opinion Elves would not be as popular or have so many variant races if it wasn't for the ubber-bennies associated with them.

    I also never understood the concept behind multi-classing for demihumans only. I get that longer-lived beings could take time to specialize on different areas, but demihuman PCs are all the equivalent of young adults for their race, and Half-Orcs are just shaggy ugly humans in that sense. Are their universities that good?

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  42. I've read those. Funny thing is even with "buckets of dice" there's a good chance you can't qualify for some classes while using their entry.

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  43. I think the whole ascending/descending AC issue is a false one, at least it seems like that for the way folks talk about.

    It does not have to do with which system is "better" because they attempt different things. Its apples and oranges, both fruits but different flavor.

    Descending AC is supposed to be used with attack tables. The ACs could very well be letters A,B,C,D, etc and it would work exactly the same.

    Ascending AC needs on-the-spot math in addition to rolling dice but does away with tables.

    Yes, ascending AC does tend to inflate the range values overtime because that is the way human brains are built: More = Good!

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  44. Captain Rufus LandaleJune 6, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    Sorry man.  Ascending AC should have been the rule since Greyhawk came out.  Descending AC never made sense.

    But nice to see you joined the sane people on Demihuman limits. :P

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  45. The_Shadow_KnowsJune 6, 2012 at 10:47 AM

     "Descending AC never made sense."

    Players had no problem understanding it for over twenty years.  Saying it "never made sense" is a little bit ludicrous, don't you think?

    Personally I think it makes no real difference which way you run the AC numbers (except that ascending AC may encourage "AC inflation"), but either way it's an abstract number and it's a bit silly to pretend that one way or the other is more "natural".

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  46. To me, the fact that it psychologically encourages AC inflation is a real difference, and a particularly pernicious one, because on the surface it does seem to be easier to use ascending AC.

    This is a common mistake that strongly analytical people make: that because something is mathematically equivalent it is also equivalent in practice, and this is not true.

    Personally, my favorite AC system is descending with strict lower bound of 0. It's also easier to implement weapon versus AC rules when there is a very limited set of armor classes, and each of those things have game world meaning rather than being an abstract difficulty rating. That being said, in a hierarchy of things important to me in D&D, optimal AC rules are way down the list.

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  47. True, it is apples and oranges.  So I prefer descending AC, as that's how I originally dealt with it.  I figured out THAC0 and I can do it in my head a lot easier than ascending AC.

    With me its a matter of Old Dog - New Tricks.

    -DM Glan

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  48. "Otherwise, I have come to see level limits as a distinction without a difference -- a way to rein in demihuman "power" without actually doing so in a way that matters for the vast majority ofD&D campaigns"
    If it really makes no difference, than why the gnashing of teeth by those who've wanted to primarily play demi-humans since AD&D was published?  It does make a difference - people don't like the idea that their character will top out before someone else's.  That is, apparently, huge for many.  Which makes the de facto tissue-paper strength of the mechanic, given the average length of a campaign, really quite ingenious.  

    You would think that those who love playing demi-humans would allow their eyes to get slightly wide when the realization sinks in, and then shush their like-minded (but less enlightened) fellows.  But instead, many choose to play a limitless human, even in short campaigns.  Or, complain about the perceived handicapping of their character choice.

    Going to show that the mechanic works quite well, actually, in its intended purpose.  

    It will always be in place at my table.

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  49. I remember hitting the level cap on a Cleric/Ranger back in the day.

    But I understand why he had them, otherwise why are humans so dominant, if all the other races live longer (much, much longer in the case of elves).

    And I think it did help differentiate the other races in terms of play - you could be a demi-human and be more versatile, or a human and be a specialist.

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  50. "you could be a demi-human and be more versatile, or a human and be a specialist"

    This goes against the very concept of humans and demi-humans. Dwarves are predisposed to be fighters, because of their abilities. Elves are predisposed to be magic users, because of their abilities. So, demi-humans are naturally more likely to specialize. Humans have no inherent advantage in any class, so they would naturally be generalists and more versatile. Just ask Lazarus Long.

    But wait, the rules go against these natural tendencies in order to push players into playing humans. That says to me that the rule is purely there for social engineering of players, not to represent the setting or the races or anything in the game. In essence, the race limits exist outside of the game in the world of the players.

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  51. I've never been fond of using a "stick" to get players to do something, and level limits are a big stick. Do this, and you get punished.  I've also found them logically nonsensical - a halfling thief can advance to 4th level without a problem, but cannot make it to 5th level regardless of his experience?  If demihumans take more time to learn something because of their longer lives, then require more XP at all stages, and not just +10% or something minor.

    Ironically, 3e-style multiclassing allows level limits to work a lot better.

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  52. Since I mostly played 2nd ed (with 1st ed influences), I remember when everybody wanted to play elves and half-elves because they had the best racial bonuses (infravision was incredibly useful).


    Other demi-humans were also popular, to the extent that humans were rare because they provided no in-game benefit.
    Level limits were intended to offset the huge demi-human advantages, but it was a really poor mechanism to do so. In low level campaigns, nobody was likely to hit the level limit anyway, and in higher level campaigns the level limits were just ignored.


    I think the better solution would have been to assign penalties to offset the special abilities of the demi-humans.


    The shorter demi-humans do have some drawbacks (limited weapon and class selections, for example), but not enough to make humans attractive. Elves, in particular, have almost no drawbacks.


    One of the things I'm doing with my homegrown campaign (based on 1st & 2nd ed AD&D) is getting rid of demi-humans completely as a player character option.


    Part of this is because I'm sick to death of elves. And part of it is because I don't want to play Tolkien inspired races (there are no elves, dwarves, halflings, or orcs in my campaign). And I got rid of gnomes because Dragonlance ruined them forever.


    Getting rid of playable demi-humans eliminates the hassle of trying to make humans more attractive, but it also eliminates the eleventy billion PC races in the 3rd and 4th editions that dilluted the games identity.


    But most of all, I want the game to feel fresh and new again, and I want the fantastic elements to be rare and unusual, so that they actually stand out against the background. Because when everything is amazing, you just get burned out and jaded.


    I'm tired of having players memorise the monster books and thinking that they know everything. I've shitcanned almost everything in the monster manuals, and changed the rest, because I don't want the Players to be able to expect ANYTHING.


    By taking away the crutch of player knowledge, I've made the game much more surprising and unpredictable for the players. Even if they think they know what they're up against, they can never be sure of it.


    But stripping away all of the bloat also allows me to put more emphasis on the human cultures of the world... something that's usually lost in D&D amidst the glut of demihumans that are found in most campaigns.

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