Fall from Grace; Level 20 to Level 1


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Hey guys!

So I'm currently pondering some backstory for a new character, and I've recently been talking with my friends about the difficulties of giving a level one character a badass backstory. Just because it can be a bit odd for the headmaster of a prestigious wizard academy to have trouble casting Fireball. You know, normal character creation obstacles.

But one route I'm really interested in is the fall from grace option. Character <i>was</i> level 20, but a terrible tragedy struck and all that power and experience has been stripped away. Thus, for that character, the process of leveling up is just re-learning/remembering their old strength! Which I think would be rad.

So my question is, does anyone know of any mechanics already in game to accomplish such a thing? I've been browsing through cursed items and artifacts (thought for sure the harrow deck of many things would have something) and haven't turned up anything yet. Was just curious if anyone has spotted something I missed.

Odds are I'll just have to talk to the GM about how to go about it. Maybe even design a spell that my character (a wizard) cast on himself to keep his power out of evil hands. Or something equally cliche haha!

Shadow Lodge

You don't really need mechanics for this. You start at level and that is your backstory.

If you want mechanics though a Samsaran is pretty good for this.


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as far as I know, there is nothing that truly removes levels, so you'll most likely need to talk to your GM. (people tend to really dislike effects that would permanently lock them out of their hard earned levels) I would personally advise just skipping looking for some niche little thing already in the rules and just talk to your GM straight away, saves you the effort of looking, and makes sure your gm is on board with it.


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That's plot device level magic, that goes way beyond what any item or spell should be able to achieve. It exceeds the power of a wish by a fair margin. Who wouldn't use that in the BBEG in every fight - it'd be a 'must have' beyond the big 6 even.

This is a unique effect that needs to be closely managed by the GM. I like the idea though - I'm just going through the hurdles I'd need to overcome to stop it becoming a 'go-to' nuke or insurmountable obstacle.
I mean if the BBEG did it to you once why can't they just do it to you again when you regain your power?

I'll see if I can find it, but I did read a Runelords journal about a successful gladiator who was weakened by a hazardous sea journey, that was a good read.


Doesn't the Amnesiac Psychic do this as its usual backstory?

Quote:
The amnesiac once possessed great psychic power, but mental blocks—resulting from either a traumatic event or intentional implantation—have caused her to forget what she knew before

Archetype modifies starting at LVL 1

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Be a well respected professor or headmaster through skills, rather than capability. Max ranks of knowledge arcana and Spellcraft, you can get a +12 without really trying, as with quite a few teachers, you know the fundamentals without having the technical skill.

Liberty's Edge

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I had actually been entertaining a concept like this - not necessarily an amnesiac psychic, but a character who used to be a grand mage in his realm, but was betrayed by a comrade/loved one. The companion couldn't bear to kill them, however, and instead put them in a microcosm with a happy dream world.

They'd begin the campaign at level 1, many years later, having been freed from it, only vaguely understand who or what they were, and struggle to identify which memories were genuine or false.

Samsaran is definitely the mechanical way to go, if not an amnesiac.


There might also be a problem with the backstory in that a 20th-level influential scholar type should have massive resources available. Sure, their character levels have vanished... that's one hand-waved wish type spell away. But what happened to their gear? What happened to their home? What happened to their job? What happened to every person that they ever did a favor for that could be called in?

All I'm saying is... consider that this person was important. Don't worry about the "powerful" party. Design your roleplay around the idea that you're a nobody now, and you'll be fine.


Oh,man! Swashbuckler character named Bartholomew Buckles™️!


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Poorly-worded wish or one controlled by another entity is most likely. Maybe you wished to be young again or somesuch and it stripped all your age and experience. Everyone makes a mistake once in awhile. Maybe you were away from home and no one would recognize a young you. You may be powerful and well-known but isn't the same as well-recognized.


Palidian wrote:

Hey guys!

So I'm currently pondering some backstory for a new character...

So my question is, does anyone know of any mechanics already in game to accomplish such a thing? I've been browsing through cursed items and artifacts (thought for sure the harrow deck of many things would have something) and haven't turned up anything yet. Was just curious if anyone has spotted something I missed.

...

I had the thought that one of these days it might be funny to do an entire quest getting to a high level only to wake up and find yourself a wasting, near death victim of one of those giant space fungus(name escapes me atm) with seemless reality that a real hero just killed... possibly even repeated inception style.

Your character could live an entire false life and come back needing to re-learn reality or restore a heroic physique.


If you were 20th level with the gear of a 1st level character. How did you get to be 20th level? Or if you had the gear, what happened to it? It's an interesting idea, you just need to address many different parts about being a 20th level character.


I've had two characters like this actually, both 2E. One was for a Ravenloft 1890's game and I made a 60 year old texas ranger coming out of retirement. He hadn't held a gun in at least 20 years and was absolutely stunned at how slow and inaccurate he was... i.e. level 1/thac0 20. Much like in real life... if you don't use it, you lose it. The skills deteriorated with time....

The second is more in line with yours. I was playing in Al-qadim game and decided my guy was an elemental wizard (based on the Modred the Mystic character from Marvel). I wanted one that could use ALL 4 elements... and almost nothing else. 2E only allowed 1-3, but not all 4, so i had to write my own kit.

I wrote him up as a high level wizard and professor at one of the mage universities (in 2E proficiencies were based of stats and it was really REALLY easy to get 'I can't fail' on what are now knowledge and spellcraft checks). He was insanely smart, He knew a TON of stuff. I wrote it up that he had used a wish scroll to gain that extra power of casting all four elements... but didn't word it carefully enough (as one does in Al-Qadim...) He gained the ability to cast all the elements... but lost all his previous levels. He was now level 1 and couldn't physcially CAST all those high level spells anymore and had to reteach/retrain himself.

He was a LOT of fun since I picture any kind of high level mage having a LOT of enemies, especially in a political university setting... so he was quick to change his name and go into hiding before his enemies could exploit his new weakness.


I think its cooler to have your 'backstory level' be something like 12 or 15 so that in the game, you can start genuinely surpassing your old self, being icly shocked at how much better you've become even over your previous capabilities.


Lots of permanent negative levels would accomplish much the same thing. How would that work for your back story?


roguerouge wrote:
Lots of permanent negative levels would accomplish much the same thing. How would that work for your back story?

Mechanically level loss is much different in pathfinder than it was in 2E, but flavor wise I always liked this too.

I remember someone asked Ed Greenwood why Elminster wasn't higher level than his stats said he was, and his response was that Elminster had so many battles that he's actually lost some levels. He'd get real high, then fight a level drainer, then have to xp back up and then he'd lose some again... So in the realms that's a solid answer for high level to low.


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I have a certain persona, of an extremely ancient doddering old wizard, whose gimmick is that he always screws up Time Stop (in any game system) and sort of mazes himself in suspended-animation to eventually wake up Rip Van Winkle-like epochs later to find that everything has changed and nothing makes sense anymore. His old spellbooks are worthless because the incantations no longer work.

And so, he begins from scratch. Again.

But he has the most fantastic tales to share of strange monsters and technologies from ages long ago in worlds where the laws of physics were different and so on....

Contributor

Blame an occult ritual. You got caught in the crossfire. ;-)


I don't have an answer for you, but I've seen a number of characters listed on these Messageboards for PbPs that have cool backstories with them doing lots of stuff . . . and they start out at level 1. Probably by statistical fluke, I HAVEN'T yet seen this for spellcasters (for which some of the above posts might apply), but for martial characters (this shouldn't happen to them unless somebody had it in for them, but wanted to make them miserable without killing them).

Shadow Lodge

This blog post might help. I know I liked it.

Grand Lodge

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Stop copying my life story


Plot twist: Your PC's level 20 version was responsible for the tragedy. He couldn't figure out how to repair the damage, so he instead decided to
make sure it won't happen again. While a wish spell to reduce a foe from 20 to 1 is overpowered, in my opinion it's totally within limits if the target is willing.

He is eager to regain the power, but also to learn how to deal with it, this time. That doesn't necessarily mean a good alignment: Other characters might still value self-control, in order to not shoot yourself in the foot. That's even true for CE characters - don't let short-term petty destruction stand in the way of the real big mess you intend.


SheepishEidolon wrote:

Plot twist: Your PC's level 20 version was responsible for the tragedy. He couldn't figure out how to repair the damage, so he instead decided to

make sure it won't happen again. While a wish spell to reduce a foe from 20 to 1 is overpowered, in my opinion it's totally within limits if the target is willing.

He is eager to regain the power, but also to learn how to deal with it, this time. That doesn't necessarily mean a good alignment: Other characters might still value self-control, in order to not shoot yourself in the foot. That's even true for CE characters - don't let short-term petty destruction stand in the way of the real big mess you intend.

"I wish to be taken back to the beginning."


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1. You screwed with a chronomancer
2. Batman style backbreak(or any other severe trauma really) and then they stole your items. Your currently super poor and recovering from your severe cursed injuries
3. Failed the test of the Starstone
4. Microcosm. Either you were released or you were just put in one and your not sure which
5. Deal with Mephistopheles


Dastis wrote:
3. Failed the test of the Starstone

I like it. It has the power, is a plot device and can't be duplicated with mere mortal magic.


M1k31 wrote:

I had the thought that one of these days it might be funny to do an entire quest getting to a high level only to wake up and find yourself a wasting, near death victim of one of those giant space fungus(name escapes me atm)

Zygominds. And that is a neat concept for combining a couple of different campaign worlds, also, if your players wouldn't lose it to find one was a dream within the other.


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Surprised no one has mentioned Mage's Disjunction used on an artifact - can strip all magical ability - easily reflavored as level loss. Which also explains what happened to all your gear.

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