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How fast do you like your character advancement?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Hi there.

I was curious at what rate you guys like to level up?

Personally I don't like the "by the book" level progression in PF, even the "slow" advancement seems way to fast for me. My group is kind of "oldschool" and feels comfortable with leveling every 15 - 25 Sessions, thus making the feel of gaining a level and advancing your character something special.

Back in AD&D our best character storys where built over the years, something which doesn't seem possible if you play PF "by the rules" - after all a standard adventure advances your characters 2 - 3 levels - that's 10 - 15 % of an entire campaign (if you take level 20 as the standard retirement age for a character)!

So as I said: I like gaining a level once every few months - but what about you?

Greetings,

Supp

PS:

That's not a complaint about PF in general - after all the level advancement is the among the easiest thing to change. I'm just curious ;-)


As a GM I'd much prefer slow, but my players (many of whom came to the table from video game RPGs -- which is not to say that these items are correlative, it's just an observation) would prefer fast. We compromise on medium.

When I played in high school, back in the late 80s early 90s, we gamed just about every other weekend, usually for 20 plus hours out of the weekend, and when I went off to college my primary character was level 5, and I thought that was awesome.

As you say, changing level progression is pretty easy to do, but you have to have a set of players that are willing to adhere to whatever progression you've designed.

Taldor

I'm all for slow advancement, story and taking a lot of time towards gaining levels. I'm also of the type that's incredibly bored at save the world plots though. I'd rather have to worry about how crops are doing then which dead god is on its way back to conquer everything.

Not terribly heroic but there you are.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If I am running an AP, then I have been working on a 'level when appropriate' basis.


Playing in Kingmaker AP, medium level progression. We've gained 13 levels in just over 2 years of real-time game-play, so I'd say we're right on schedule. We'll complete the adventure later this year, characters will likely retire at 17th level.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like the first few levels to be an insane rush for survival, quickly getting the characters to the sweet spot and then slowing down. I've played 1st-3rd level characters so much that I want to get past those and into the less traveled bands, where we can savor the flavor before eventually hopping into epic play.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I'm also a big advocate of the snail's pace level advancement. As others have said, it gives real value to levelling up, and room and time for stories to grow and develop (and oust the importance of numbers on a character sheet). I'm DMing two campaigns at the moment. In both I allocate XP in fairly arbitrary manner, and my players don't seem to mind.

The first campaign's just hit double figures levelwise and on average we're levelling up once every 30 sessions, usually at the close of a big adventure.


I really loved the 1st edition level advancement, where you needed literally millions of xp in the higher levels, but in those days we plays 8 hours a day, 5 days a week...
Nowadays, with one 4-hour-session per week (at most) I'm glad that advancement has become much easier. Nevertheless, I still occasionally compare "now" and "then" (I guess it's a habit of older people...), and I don't like that the high-level characters don't feel "epic" enough, because at our play rate in the old days we would have hit level 20 every 3 weeks, which would have been quite disappointing...

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm group kind of flips around as I see fit. When we started we were very much in the "when I say so" category for leveling as it allows me to really tell the story I want to tell without having to rescale things all the time. Recently though with our conversion to pathfinder I have begun to use it a bit to give players something to get excited. I've also found it a great tool for motivating players into roleplaying that may not have thought about it any other way, have a few players that will start to rp if they know that there is 500 xp hanging on the proper interaction with this king and they think they can get it done. This also wraps into one of my biggest annoyances in that it is always hard for me at least to try and gauge the xp value of non combat encounters and wishing their was a better explanation as to how to gauge that.


I'm generally a player and I love leveling, so faster the better. Though I understand the slower leveling. My current DM did fast leveling until 5 then moved to the medium chart.


Fast. I don't mind playing a character for a long time, but a long time to me is a year or so if you play regularly.

My ideal game is to go from 1 to 20 or something in a year.

I like to play once a week at least, but most of the games I get it is more like once a month. Sometimes you lose a session due to people's RL's, and pick up two months later. Kind of hard to keep the interest motoring ahead playing that infrequently.


My next campaign I'm planning to run slow progression and hope it goes slow enough. Basically I want to have leveling up be something that doesn't come up too often.


For us, 1st - 6th should go relatively quickly, leveling every couple of sessions. Then 7th - 12th slows up, leveling at about half that or every 4 sessions... post 12th level we would half that again, leveling every 8 sessions or so... that's just a general rule of thumb, though.

We need to keep in mind that some builds can take a few levels to mature. A Fighter might be fine spending an entire career under 6th level whereas a Wizard? Not so much.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have always thought it would be nice to just pick one level, whatever the group prefers, and play a whole campaign at that level. Removes the need to adjust encounters to new levels, and players aren't constantly getting new abilities before they are tired of old ones. You can keep the feel of the game (gritty, epic, whatever) right where the group wants it.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I have always thought it would be nice to just pick one level, whatever the group prefers, and play a whole campaign at that level. Removes the need to adjust encounters to new levels, and players aren't constantly getting new abilities before they are tired of old ones. You can keep the feel of the game (gritty, epic, whatever) right where the group wants it.

One of the things that I feel like 4th Ed. got right was the way it spread monsters and humanoid races across many levels. At 6th and 9th level you can still find Goblins and Gnolls a threat and there are demons you can fight as early as 3rd. It really opens up the otherwise linear adventure path where you only face humanoids for the first few levels then you're stuck with exotic, extra-dimensional threats and dragons


Wolf Munroe wrote:
My next campaign I'm planning to run slow progression and hope it goes slow enough. Basically I want to have leveling up be something that doesn't come up too often.

This is how I generally prefer it too, but you have GOT to either get started quickly or let the characters start off at 5th or 6th level. Not all characters are fun to play 1st - 3rd.

One thing I've done in the past is to start characters off at 3rd or 4th level, but at 0 experience points so they gain the benefit of not having to play such weak characters with such limited resources (spellcasters in particular), but still have to take the same amount of time as they normally would have to advance.

Grand Lodge

I'm new to the Pathfinder system. I know in 3.5 I felt the leveling was a little quick for my taste. So with Pathfinder I'm going to try the medium progression. Looks about right for me.

For me it's a matter of finding the "sweet spot". This can and does differ with each group and each campaign. If I feel like characters are leveling before the players have completely learned and explored the abilities they already have, it's too fast. If they're getting bored and feel like their character isn't improving, it's too slow. It very much depends on the make up of the group. It can take a wizard a lot longer to get comfortable with his new abilities than a fighter, for instance.


Usually my players get a level every 4~6 sessions. But gaining experience in my games is less by the book. I look at what the average level in the party is, find out how much experience the difference is between that level and the next, and divide by 4, using that as a base. If they get a lot done, i give slightly more, and if they don't do much, i give a little less. Also, if you're above or below the party average you get -10% or +10%exp per level difference, respectively, whenever you gain exp.

It seems like most games i have one person +1 level, because they never miss a session, one person -1 level because they either miss a lot or die, and everyone else at the average.

My average campaign runs 12-18 months.

Qadira

Leveling happens way to fast. I don't want to make a new character sheet every week or two. I want to use all of my abilities each level, including most if not all of my spells. I want a variety of encounters before leveling. As it is, how can you justify being experienced adventurers when you have only experienced one thing? (looking at you carrion crown).

Leveling during an adventure is stupid, you should have to achieve goals not combats to level.


Mercurial wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I have always thought it would be nice to just pick one level, whatever the group prefers, and play a whole campaign at that level. Removes the need to adjust encounters to new levels, and players aren't constantly getting new abilities before they are tired of old ones. You can keep the feel of the game (gritty, epic, whatever) right where the group wants it.
One of the things that I feel like 4th Ed. got right was the way it spread monsters and humanoid races across many levels. At 6th and 9th level you can still find Goblins and Gnolls a threat and there are demons you can fight as early as 3rd. It really opens up the otherwise linear adventure path where you only face humanoids for the first few levels then you're stuck with exotic, extra-dimensional threats and dragons

I thought that was something they did wrong. I like stepping from the mundane into the spectacular as they level.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't find fighting goblins and gnolls with bigger numbers on both sides to be a meaningful change. All you're doing is more math for the same result.

Better to stay 3rd level the entire time, I say, than write 13th on your sheet but still play like you're 3rd level.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

I don't find fighting goblins and gnolls with bigger numbers on both sides to be a meaningful change. All you're doing is more math for the same result.

Better to stay 3rd level the entire time, I say, than write 13th on your sheet but still play like you're 3rd level.

Brings new meaning to the game design insult, "always fighting orcs."


I think it depends on the campaign. The players should level as fast as you need to tell your story.

If you want to do a godslaying campaign but starting from level 1 you better level them pretty darn fast or you might never make it to your climatic scene that you have been planning for the last few years.

If you want a gritty story of normal people turned adventurers and the campaign is all about their struggles and tribulations, you can level glacially and it would be fine.


I like the idea in theory of slow progression. I want my character to earn his bones. It give more time spent on character changing through story as much or more than level bump. That said I do not get to play enough for that to be feasable. I play in one group that is twice a month. Great group, love the character but I also want to get through the meat of the AP (Crimson Throne). My other group has had two sessions since October (I may wipe the board and start over there once they are ready to play).

If I was able to give a few dedicated hours a week with a reliable group I would be all over slow progression.


I've never been in a game that's lasted long enough for a slow progression to get me past about level 5. For a lot of my characters, that just isn't fun. (I tend to play casters.)

In my previous group, there were probably around 10 people, and everyone DMed off and on, sometimes multiple campaigns each. So while I had tons of characters, none of them ever progressed much.

In my current group, it looks like things have settled down for the most part, but we only play 4-8 hours every other week. At the slow pace, it'd take way too long to see any real growth. (The medium pace seems to be ok for now.)

I'm personally a fan of faster character progression. I'd like to see my characters become truly powerful, do some epic stuff, then retire. I wouldn't mind having that happen every year or so. (There's always other games/settings I's want to try.)


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I like the first few levels to be an insane rush for survival, quickly getting the characters to the sweet spot and then slowing down. I've played 1st-3rd level characters so much that I want to get past those and into the less traveled bands, where we can savor the flavor before eventually hopping into epic play.

This is exactly what I did in my campaing:

Level 1 to 5: fast progression (we played 3.5 back then)

Level 5 to 20: slow progression (we switched to Pathfinder and I allowed every players to rebuild is character according to the new rules)

So this style of progression was more incidental than planned for us, but now that I have tasted it, I don't think that I'll be able to do it any other way in the future. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In the house campaign I am currently running the group is leveling at fast until they hit 7, then dropping to medium until something around 12 - 14 at which point we will move to slow. This allows us the character development that comes from starting at a low level, but gets us to the (for us) more interesting mid and high levels fairly quickly.

For the other campaign I am running Kingmaker so we have been at medium, but I may have to adjust that as I am starting to add more and more extra content.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Slow progression all the way.

Shadow Lodge

for me it depends on how the campaign feels. if i think its only going to last for a few sessions then fast progression all the way, but if i feel like its going to be going on for years, then levels in general dont matter to me.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

For me, the sweet spot probably comes with 7th-12th level characters.
When we used to play once a week for 4-5 hours it would probably take a couple of years or more to cover that range (advancing once every 15-20 sessions, much as the OP did). Getting through the first two or three levels would go quite a bit faster; with experienced players everybody knows pretty much how their characters will start out, so levelling up could happen after four or five sessions. But from about 4th level onwards we'd gradually slow advancement down, so by the end of a year we were on that 15-20 session pace, with characters somewhere around 6th or 7th level.

In well over a decade of play I think we only had one campaign where characters advanced beyond 12th level; much of the time players retired characters from week-to-week play once they got beyond level 11.

That was (more or less) AD&D2e character levels, which isn't quite the same as Pathfinder, but it's close enough to get the idea.


I'm playing with first time players who come from a very videogame heavy background, so compared to most of you we're leveling up at almost break-neck speed. We only get together once, maybe twice a week though for about 6 hours, but a good 2 is spent horsing around and having a good time.

My campaign consists of a bunch of people chasing after a particularly annoying Efreet, who is causing havoc throughout the land, granting evil people one of his three wishes. There is a lot of running from town to town as they chase after him, fighting through the wake of destruction he has left behind.

The real fun starts when my PC's will be fighting over who gets the last wish, as they're all separately motivated to get find the Efreet.

Shadow Lodge

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in the last 5 years i have changed my leveling system from ep to event based leveling. everything the players accomplish something that i, as the gm, concider to be worthy of tale then the party gains a level. at level 1 it could be crushing a group of orcs, 5 it could be an orc army buy as they levl higher and higher they have to accomplish me amazing fetas. killing a litch, destroying a dragon ect.. the more difficult the encounter the more likely they are to level.


Joanna Swiftblade wrote:

I'm playing with first time players who come from a very videogame heavy background, so compared to most of you we're leveling up at almost break-neck speed. We only get together once, maybe twice a week though for about 6 hours, but a good 2 is spent horsing around and having a good time.

My campaign consists of a bunch of people chasing after a particularly annoying Efreet, who is causing havoc throughout the land, granting evil people one of his three wishes. There is a lot of running from town to town as they chase after him, fighting through the wake of destruction he has left behind.

The real fun starts when my PC's will be fighting over who gets the last wish, as they're all separately motivated to get find the Efreet.

Sounds like a sweet campaign.


Joanna Swiftblade wrote:

My campaign consists of a bunch of people chasing after a particularly annoying Efreet, who is causing havoc throughout the land, granting evil people one of his three wishes. There is a lot of running from town to town as they chase after him, fighting through the wake of destruction he has left behind.

The real fun starts when my PC's will be fighting over who gets the last wish, as they're all separately motivated to get find the Efreet.

That really sounds great!

And I am surprised that there are quite a lot people that are into the slow leveling here - especially since the official stuff encourages bursting through the levels.

That's the reason why I will most likely never run an Adventure Path ;)


I personally like to start from scratch (i.e. level 1, no stuff, no reputation, PC don't know each other). Seems much more interesting to me to build our own history this way.

However, low-level PF campaigns start to be a bit boring after a while. Level 1-2 fights are usually based on pure luck.

This is the reason why my friends and I usually go with a logarithmic progression: we breeze through the first few levels then add one session to the mix everytime.

That means one game to go to level 2, two more to level 3, three more to level 4... and by the time you're level 10, you have to play 10 times to get to level 11.

This works perfectly for us:
- We quickly get a couple goodies to play with
- We can build on own history from scratch
- The stronger you become, the harder it is to get even better.

I wouldn't like it any other way.

Grand Lodge

Senjen wrote:

In the house campaign I am currently running the group is leveling at fast until they hit 7, then dropping to medium until something around 12 - 14 at which point we will move to slow. This allows us the character development that comes from starting at a low level, but gets us to the (for us) more interesting mid and high levels fairly quickly.

For the other campaign I am running Kingmaker so we have been at medium, but I may have to adjust that as I am starting to add more and more extra content.

That's a brilliant idea!


My current game, we started playing near the beginning of January about once a week, and a bunch of them just hit level 8.

I don't think it is too fast. I normally want to start a new campaign after about 6 months, and I can't see running past 12 - especially sense I normally run e6. I'm going to try to keep this game trucking along at least until mid June.

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