Friday, January 19, 2007

Leveling-Up

Saturday, December 16, 2006

During this game session we leveled-up the characters of the Praemal Tales. Some character development becomes apparent after discussing with the players:

Beket is headed towards the prestige class of Sacred Fist, that is to say, a Monk/Cleric combination. She doesn't have any Cleric level yet, but the function of healer and support character is definitely missing. That's a decision I support fully.

Simone is headed towards a prestige class as well: namely, the shadowdancer presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide. It suits the roguish inclinations of the character as well as her association with House Sadar. Simone's player decided it would fit the character to fight "shadows with shadows", which makes sense to me as well.

Hennie's player seems to stick with a plain sorcerer for now. Not a bad decision, if you ask me: the group spellcaster needs to be focussed to be fully efficient and in the absence of a full-fledged fighter within their ranks, there needs to be some arcane fire-power when needed.

I'm still surprised the group didn't come up with a name for the characters' party. I'm waiting for this defining moment to come from the players, according to their tastes and inclinations. It's much better for the players to feel that their name's truly theirs. We'll see how that occurs in the game. Already some NPCs made an allusion to their surprising lack of name as a company of adventurers. It didn't hit home yet, or if it did, I didn't realize it.

Beket, as drawn by Nerissa.

Some thoughts about leveling characters up

A few weeks ago, I was part of a discussion on ENWorld about leveling characters up in a campaign of D&D. There was a surprising consensus that DMs expect the players to level-up their characters on their own between game sessions. If the players don't do their homework by themselves, it would mean they're not interested in the game.

I really disagree with that opinion. I think that leveling-up characters isn't something apart of the game, or some homework the players would have to do on their own to prove their involvement in the game.

I consider it a full part of the game we can all enjoy together.

Indeed, it allows the players to be and remain on the same page as far as the aims of the game are concerned. Let's face it: D&D is a group activity where team-work is important. Leveling-up characters together reinforces this feeling of belonging to a single unit, to progress together towards a better enjoyment of the game.

But leveling-up can be fun, too! Discussing characters options, getting to know the rules better while eating snacks and remembering defining moments of the game that would influence this or that character's development, it all can be quite enjoyable, or at least, it's certainly more enjoyable than reading the rulebook and choosing feats on your own.

Leveling-up characters together brings the gaming group together. It also lessens the "DM versus players" mentality, because the DM doesn't have to check the character sheets like he would be a teacher checking out the players' homework before the game starts again.

I think the whole mentality of the "players' homework" stems from the frustration some DMs out there feel because they would do most of the work to keep the game running. I think, personally, that it is part of my responsibilities, and it is indeed a responsibility I enjoy, or I wouldn't be DM in the first place.

I know this might shock some readers out there, but I truly think that role-playing games constitute a group effort through and through. I think we all, as DMs, have to accept that we are the ones with the most responsibilities as far as the game is concerned in order to move on and make everyone happy around the table. That's part of our role as host of the game.

2 comments:

Robin said...

Agree entirely.

In my campaigns we request that players let the DM know what class they want by the time they reach the XP half-way mark to the next level. If they don't, their next class is going to be their current one.

That way we can work their class selection into the game itself. For example, one character - a Rogue - wanted to take a level of Cleric, so we worked an adventure involving a temple into the game, she started attending classes and we took things from there. That works well, and means that all of the players are involved in the development of each character.

Works for us, anyhow :)

Greywulf
http://home.greywulf.net

Benoist said...

I can see the advantages of that kind of agreement at the game table. Just the possibility of knowing what sort of character development a player wants helps the DM craft encounters and events in the game which the player in instead of framing his or her imagination.

That's a great way to bring that sort of feeling to the players! :)