Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

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Skyscraper
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Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Skyscraper » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:53 am

Hi everyone,

I have read the DCC rulebook, it looks great and I'm looking forward to DM our first campaign in August. I'll be running a homebrew campaign.

Here's a question for you, with background first.

At level 0 the PCs are peasants having very mundane occupations. At level 1, they are clerics, wizards, fighters or thieves. How much time does one require to learn the new trade? It seems to me like there would need to be a time gap of several years between the level 0 adventure and the level 1 adventure for it to make some sense, don't you think? I mean, you aren't suddenly a member of a church or you haven't suddenly learned how to fight with a sword or how to cast spells, simply because you've beaten a few orcs or plundered treasure (such as in Portal Under the Stars), have you?

How do you explain the level up from level 0 to level 1 in your campaigns?

The situation can be different at the ulterior level-ups. Depending on each campaign's style, you can decide that the wizard has earned experience through his adventuring to level up from 1 to 2 and so on and that it happens seamlessly within the adventure(s); or you can require the PC to visit a master to train and then gain a new level. Both approaches make sense to me. But from peasant to wizard without years of training...? Not so much.

Thanks for any ideas and input.
Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by beermotor » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:58 am

There was a group that posted a write up of their second session after their funnel adventure, and they had let about 6 months go by. Originally I think OD&D had a 1 week training per level requirement. So, to go from 0 to 1, I think between a week and a month or so is probably appropriate. For some occupations/class selections, it's not a stretch, i.e. from wizard's apprentice to wizard, it makes sense. From peasant to wizard, I think you need to have a bit of downtime for them to work out some on the job training... through study, meditation, etc. Or, from farmer to warrior, you need some time to hone your moves. That's probably how I'm going to run it. That'll also provide some downtime for people to do stuff like summon familiars, sell loot and buy new gear, pick up new rumors, etc.

I think making years go by is probably overkill. It also might stretch belief. Yeah, okay, it might make sense that a wizard would spend a year or two studying, but would the warrior just be sitting around on his duff during that whole time? Probably not.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by GnomeBoy » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:59 am

I can't speak from play, since I haven't had many chances to play (more like, played once, and dabbled/'playing around' with rules and features since) -- but the expected way to suss that out is that the 'adventures' the characters are involved in are 'episodic', much like the literature the game is based on. Narrate a gap of months (or more) between the Funnel and Level 1, and you're fine.
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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Skyscraper » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:46 am

@beermotor: really, a month to learn to become a cleric or a wizard? You think that's enough? I know of little trades that take so little time to learn. Becoming a secretary nowadays is a 1-2 year training time. Becoming any type of professional takes between 3 to 10 years. In both those cases, we assume you start with highschool or higher education, i.e. about 12 years of prior academic education. Assuming that the mundane occupation replaces the prior academic, I think at least a few years is a minimum to become any class in DCC if we're looking at some form of realistic approach. I would think that no church would let a cleric loose to the world after a month of training (none does that nowadays). A month is not enough to make sure that the person is dedicated enough. Think about any employee in any company that has been there for a month: he's far from being proficient in his trade. He's barely learned anything. I think that, to learn how to read magic, then how to weave it, would take years! Even for the two other classes, fighter and thief, you think that you can learn how to fight with a variety of weapons properly in a month? Or learn how to use a variety of skills, and also how to battle as a thief? I doubt it myself. A couple of years sounds a minimum. I've taken karate classes and it took me a year to pass my yellow belt (first upgrade). I was far from proficient in karate then, I barely knew the basics.

@gnomeboy: yeah, that's also what I thought. I was thinking that maybe some people had original answers to this however, that I had not though about, that would allow me to run my adventure in a somewhat continuous timeframe. I've considered for example the PCs "receiving" knowledge in some mystic way, e.g. through contact with immortal beings or magical items. But I dislike the idea for my campaign, for now, and would prefer mundane training.
Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by smathis » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:47 am

Transylvanian Adventures has a section of "In-Between Adventures" charts that detail what characters do off-camera and how long the period of time between one adventure and the next is.

One of the most fun parts of every playtest has been rolling on those charts at the end of an adventure. It often sparks tangential storylines of its own.

And it's usable in a traditional fantasy campaign too.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by beermotor » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:14 am

I mean, you're free to do whatever you want...I'd prefer to keep the action moving, myself, rather than have so much downtime. I mean there's realism, and then there's REALISM... after all, we're playing a fantasy game, right? heh.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by TheNobleDrake » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:02 am

I tend to have a single month pass between the 0-level funnel and the beginning of the 1st-level adventure - but I only do that so that the party suddenly turning all the random junk they carried back from the dungeon into serviceable equipment.

The actual "apotheosis" from 0 to 1 in level comes more as a "Finally think I've got the hang of this!" moment - the 0-levels might be nobody, next to unskilled, and not worth their own weight in dirt... but there is something about them that made them the "nobody" that grabbed up their pitchfork, left the farm, and managed to come back alive with tales of their exploits... which means there is something ever so subtly special about them, and they have likely been practicing at their "new found" class for some time without results.

Those that become Warriors have always fancied themselves "the type", but had never had opportunity to prove it to themselves - until now.

Those that become Clerics have always had that spark of faith somewhere, but have not been tested by their god and found worthy of power - until now.

Those that become Thieves have always had inklings toward the behavior and Luck maybe a little better than most, but you really didn't know for sure that their calling lie elsewhere - until now.

Those that become Wizards have been curious a long time, probably even researching or secretly (maybe even only in their imagination) calling out into the dark of night for power from beyond - and now that endeavor has finally come to fruition.

A 0-level character still has that "spark" of an adventurer inside them... otherwise they would be one of the NPCs that stayed home in the village - it's their survival of the funnel adventure that kindles that "spark" into a flame, not that places it there in the first place.

Of course, it should go without saying - In my not very humble opinion, and your mileage may vary.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:12 am

Good post, TND.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Skyscraper » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:14 am

Thanks TND - I like the approach of "you were actually already doing this for a while before the 0-level adventure, and now you're ready to go". It makes sense and also helps along the way that beermotor suggests, i.e. not discontinuing the storyline - which is a problem enough that I posted here in the first place.
Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by tovokas » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:19 am

I agree with NobleDrake... I like to look at surviving the funnel as the culmination point for a transformation that's been going on for a while. Putting everything on the line in a live or die situation justifies the rapid advancement. I've actually seen this sort of thing happen in real life, where you see someone commit totally to something, and you turn around and it seems from the outside like they've changed overnight.

For wizards and clerics I assume they've been apprenticing under someone, and surviving the funnel is the final test to be trusted with key bits to actually implement their magic.

Though 'chapter two: you meet six months later' works in many sitations too. :)
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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:24 am

I don't know if you are familiar with the idea of "divine election". It can relate to the newly-minted cleric in the idea that he does not pick his god so much as the selected god picks him. It explains why the cleric can suddenly perform the miraculous, while the wizard needs yet some time to learn his spells.

Of course, look at the excellent funnel module Sailors on the Starless Sea. Wizard has no spells yet? Harley Stroh has included a solution. In fact, the first corruption in my home game occurred as a direct result of that solution, right near the start of another Harley Stroh masterpiece, Doom of the Savage Kings.

I plan to run a playtest of Through the Cotillion of Hours midway through my DotSK adventure, btw, because TtCoH takes place during a single night's rest, works with any level characters, and actually should be replayed using the same characters during the same campaign.

RC
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by beermotor » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:36 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:Good post, TND.
Yeah, +1. I like that way a lot.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by TheNobleDrake » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:27 pm

beermotor wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:Good post, TND.
Yeah, +1. I like that way a lot.
Thanks for the complimentary words, fellas.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by bigironvault » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:26 pm

What I do is plant opportunities for players to "learn" occupations throughout the 0-level session and not allow anyone to really level up until they've found the "plant" ie. a spell book, an old cleric etc. Basically it's quite "instant" in my game but it is what it is and we try not to think too much about it. :)

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by HiroTsukasa » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:46 pm

I think either idea is fine (immediate change or a time gap), but for me personally I went having a gap of time pass. For the game I am running online, I decided to start with "Portal" and it wraps up with the survivors determined to follow the life of an adventurer, deciding to part ways to train (warriors practice, wizards seek out a source of arcane knowledge, etc.) and pledging to meet back at their village in one year's time to begin seeking wood from a Dryad's tree; following the plot hook at the end of the module.

None of my players were that excited about making up highly detailed backstories for level 0's that might never make it. We also hit home pretty hard when kicking things off that these were peasants through and through with little to no knowledge of adventuring; so the instant level-up seemed ill fitting to me from a narrative aspect. So to off-set that, I had them just come up with some light history for their level 0's and then use the one year gap to flesh out their surviving character(s) with a more detailed backstory.

Really just comes down to plot flavor and the feel you're going for in your game.

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by smathis » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:09 am

Just my 2 hae-pence here.

I don't see these approaches (time gap vs. seeding in the adventure) as being exclusive. In fact, I think it's imperative to have strategic elements in an adventure that allow for 0-levels to move in any direction they'd want -- Cleric, Wizard, Warrior, etc.

The reason I use the time gap (in TA/TG) is mostly to add an element of verisimilitude to the play experience. The typical campaign goes week-to-week, day-to-day encompassing maybe 3-4 years out of a character's life from 0-level to, what, 5th or 6th level? I like having the option of spreading that out. So if Adventure #2 really does fall on the heels of Adventure #1 -- well -- that's easy. Everyone pretty much knows how to do that.

But if there's a changing of gears and maybe Adventure #2 is different from Adventure #1, I like the option of defining how long the time span was between the end of Adventure #1 and the info leading to Adventure #2. And having a clear indication of what the characters were up to during that time.

In previous posts, these approaches seem to be opposed. But I'd claim that's promoting contention where there is none. I can have elements directing characters towards a class or training that promotes advancement in a class or a follow-up adventure and still have a time gap between the end of an adventure and the start of another. Or I can have no time gap.

In general, the time gaps in TA/TG have been 1-3 months. They can be as short as a week. Or as long as a decade. And they get longer as you advance in level. There's no way a gap between a 0-level and 1st level adventure would be a decade. Or even a year. But a 10th level party might have gaps as long as 2 or 3 years regularly. Mostly that's there because the adversaries a higher level party would be taking down are going to be harder to find. When you're the best in the universe ever, it takes a while to find some competition.

Just my 3d6 in order...

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Re: Levelling up to level 1: time gap in the storyline?

Post by Ynas Midgard » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:09 am

Hm, we have only played a mini-dungeon as funnel and levelled up the surviving characters... But none of us was concerned with how much time had passed. We all seemed to agree that it is irrelevant.

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