Friday, June 29, 2012

Demi-Human Level Limits

So I've been going through a serious rules-lawyer phase lately, hacking away at inconsistent rules or ambiguous wording wherever I can find them; adding my own muddled interpretation wherever I can shoehorn such in. Today's topic: the much beleaguered demi-human level limits!

Class Level Limits Table: Occasionally I miss my old scanner.
I know, I know, when most of you make house rules regarding level limits it's to write them out of the game.  I see your reasoning, but I am that one dude (actually, there are two of us) that actually likes level limits--even if they are all dissociatey or whatever. 

But there is an aspect of the level limits that doesn't gibe the way I'd like it to: in the AD&D rules they're tied to the characters ability scores.  This makes it even more important that your dwarf fighter roll a damn 18 for strength; as if he already needed a reason beyond the outrageous to hit and damage modifiers and the 15% XP bonus.  Additionally, ability-based level limitations encourage multi-classing; your already-pathetic elf with a mere 16 Strength is limited to 5th level fighter so he might as well add magic user to his resume just to stay in the game a little longer.

Oh sage Caveman, what magic salve are you brewing in your laborotory to heal these misbegotten woes, you ask?  Something to which Herr Gygax actually alludes in the friggin' PHB.  Check it, fellow nerds:
"Only Humans will normally have clericism as their sole class; thus they are the only clerics with unlimited advancement in level."--EGG, PHB, pg. 20.
I actually remembered it being a much more damning quote, but the implication is still there: it's the lack of focus which makes demi-humans so limited in their advancement.

So, the more you diversify, the less advancement you get in any one class.  It makes sense--Jack-of-all-trades, master of none and all that.

So I'm thinking that a single-classed demihuman character could reach the maximum level indicated in the class level limits table--normally reserved for those with an 18 in their prime requisite; a double-classed character could reach the level indicated for those with a 17 in their prime req., and triple-classed characters would max out at one level below that.

Thus, a single-classed elven fighter could reach level 7 regardless of his strength.  Similarly, a single-classed elven MU could achieve wizardly status (11th level), yet a multi-classed F/MU could achieve only 6/10 respectively and a triple-classed F/MU/T would be limited to levels 5/9/*.

*I'm actually considering limiting Unlimited thief advancement to single classed demi-human thieves; double classed thieves would be limited to name (master thief) level, and triple-classed thieves to 9th level.  But I'm not sold on it yet, and it is unlikely to ever come up in my game anyway.

Man, that feels better.  Even if it's totally irrelevant since none of my players ever seem to play demi-humans or survive past 2nd level before we switch characters again. 


Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

I'm sure I remember some book, maybe UA, say single class demi get +2 to max level

I much prefer xp Penalty vs lvl limits.

Timrod said...

That +2 max level does sound vaguely familiar; though I don't remember ever using it. But then, the only single-classed demi-humans I ever ran were thieves.

Necropraxis said...

There's at least three of us, because I like demi-human level limits too.

But damn it AD&D--why do you have to make ability scores so important? I blame the plague of character optimization on this small design flaw from way back near the beginning of the hobby.

Oh, and I like the house rule proposed here, too.

Lum said...

I like level limits too, but not necessarily just for Demi-humans. I think they're a great way for the DM to adjust the focus of the game. In the same way that EGG used the level limits to focus the game on humans, a DM can shine a spotlight on or away from any race or class without saying "you can't play that"

Persimmon said...

I still use them since we're currently playing Labyrinth Lord AEC. And that's what I do. Any demi-human that is single-classed can exceed the listed max by 2 levels regardless of ability scores. The listed max can be reached by multi-classed characters regardless of ability scores. We have always had a demi-human heavy game.