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OutofCharacter / WhatIsAHighLevelCharacter

Dragonslayer Thoughts - October 17 2008

What is a high level character?

and who would want to play one?

High level characters in most games are considered those that have accomplished great deeds, have many skills and are hard to kill. I dislike that viewpoint because it minimizes all the other things that a character should be accomplishing that is not quite quantified by levels alone. When I say high level character I tend to mean powerful character instead.

This makes the equation a bit more complicated than easier unfortunately. A powerful character can be 5th level in an area of 1st and 2nd level population. In a large city a powerful person might be the Mayor, or a Merchant. They might have low fighting skills but they are powerful in their area and should be accounted for accordingly.

For where my game is now I think high level characters are those who can influence the Player Characters and cause change in the world. That includes the other Player Characters as well as several NPCs that come and go.

A High Level character should have more to worry about than what the next monster is they will whack. They need to have a larger sense of the world around them, and to participate in that world. This leads to adventures that are less about killing and more about solving. I try to maintain tension by presenting tough monsters at certain spots, but the failure to kill those monsters is often a lesser worry than failing in the overall adventure.

For High Level characters to be successful is sometimes different than what a Player is interested in doing or roleplaying. It is then that I encourage the player to take a different role, perhaps start a new character or to run one of the many henchmen or followers that the main character has. Depending on how many players I have at a time also influences what we can do with an adventure also.

I would love to run complicated political adventures, mysteries that take place all in one room of debate between complicated characters. That would be fun for 2 or 3 players, but when the group exceeds that number it becomes too hard to get everyone a chance in the spotlight for that type of story arc.