I had an idea for level 10+.

I had an idea for level 10+.

I had an idea for level 10+. A player was complaining about how characters start out weak and then become too powerful in most games, and said he’d prefer to just get rid of levels altogether. I said that character change is nice to have, but it could be lateral change instead of increasing in power. And that got me to thinking…

At level 10+ you can continue to Level Up. Each level after 10th requires a flat 17 XP to advance, and level is always reckoned as “10” for purposes of moves and spells. Advancement becomes lateral rather than upward. When

you level up you can:

– Tweak a Stat

– Replace a Move

– Gain a Spell

– Change Career

Tweak a Stat: At level 10+ your stats no longer increase; instead you may move a point from one stat to another. You cannot lower any stat below 3 or increase it above 18. For example you can lower Dex from 14 to 13 in order to increase Con from 9 to 10.

Replace a Move: At level 10+ you no longer add new moves, instead you replace an old moves with a new move. This applies to both regular class moves and Compendium Class moves.

Gain a Spell: Wizards can add a spell to their spellbook. (Wizards are already limited to 11 prepared spells, so I don’t see added variety as a significant powerup)

Change Career: At level 10+ you can add a second base class, if your race and alignment are compatible and you have opportunity to learn. Your HP and Damage are the higher of the two classes. Your stats do not change, but you may Tweak a Stat. Your moves remain the same, but you may Replace a Move, and may choose from either of your classes (or from a compendium class).

You can make multiple Career Changes, but can never have more than two careers at once. When you take a third class, you must drop an existing class; your HP and Damage dice are determine by your two new classes; you can choose moves from among the new classes. You must also complete at least 5 levels in a class before you can switch to a new class.

The ideas here are that:

– XP to advance becomes flat (so its still within reach)

– stats stop increasing, but can still change

– moves stop accumulating, but can still change

– class change is incremental rather than abrupt

– class change does not involve “reset”

This leveling off only occurs at level 11+, so play at levels 1-10 is unchanged.

I would like to hear what you think. Do you see problems with it? Ideas for a better way to do it? In the original discussion the player advocated just starting everyone at level 10 and never advancing. Personally I think it’s good to have change and something to work toward, but I’m okay with flat power level.

19 thoughts on “I had an idea for level 10+.”

  1. Your players in DW should start off badass. In my experience, this tends to be key to having a good time. If they’re feeling weak, or too powerful, maybe have a talk about it and see what needs tweaking; are 6- rolls needing more serious consequences? Are their 10+ rolls feeling unimpressive? Get the tables feelings and try altering the tone.

    Unfortunately, I can’t comment too much on leveling 10+. I’ve never experienced it!

  2. It wasn’t a lack of badassery, it was not getting to play with the cool toys (spells, moves) until the last session or three before the game ends, if ever. Having all the moves to choose from. We also have trouble keeping a campaign going. The player got an elf to level 10 in B/X after a couple years of play only to have the campaign collapse for a variety of reasons. We haven’t gotten past level 2 in DW yet, but one wants to know where it’s going before committing.

  3. Ah. Well, if they’re worried about not getting to play with the cool toys, there’s a move I’ve used a few times in one-shots and it should do the trick:

    When you reach level three, you may pick your Advanced Move from the 6-10 category.

    Edit: I mean, the moves you’ve listed above seem decent, but they’re almost…placebos? Your players probably won’t reach 10+ before the conclusion of the campaign, and when they do, I doubt they’ll have the same concerns they have right now. 

  4. I think these rules are pretty sound. Whether you start at Lv10 or not really depends on their power level. I would imagine starting out at 10 would rob a person of the zero to hero experience. I realize this isn’t as pronounced in DW as it is in other games, but in DW you still feel like you are growing and making progress. To start out with everything from the get go seems like it will come at the cost of feeling like your character is growing and changing.

    I think your system is perfect for a 10+ character transitioning into a new role. I much prefer your method rather than the DW reset method. I will be using this in my games. THANK YOU Mike Harvey!

    It sounds like the player is worried about not getting enough time to play with their shiny new toys once they work hard to get them. They don’t seem too hung up on having to do the work to get there. If this is all that they fear, simply reassuring them that the campaign will continue a while after they hit Lv10 so they won’t need to worry. Make sure you give them ample time to play with their character at max and that should fix the problem.

    Another way I’ve considered handling the 10+ issue, without having to roll up a new character or reset the current one, is to utilize Compendium Classes. Once you hit Lv10 you get to pick another area you wish to further specialize in (the CC). You continue to level up but only in  your CC. This continues until the CC is maxed out and you are not considered a master of that CC. If they still wish to play the character you can allow them to train for another CC.

    Obviously this method could be an issue with a character becoming too powerful but I plan to write my own CCs and model them after professions or other skill sets the player could learn in the game world. So rather than a fighter picking the Assassin CC, which obviously will make them more deadly, they could choose to pick up the Blacksmith, Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Gunsmith, etc… category. Things that fit with their class concept and allow them to specialize.

    The CC’s above would allow the fighter to make their own gear, making their weapons or armor or tools or fantasy style guns more fictionally awesome. It can also be a way for them to make some serious extra coin for making the type of huge purchases one would normally make at end game level of D&D (keeps, towers, real estate, funding a war, buying ships, managing a kingdom, etc…). Of all the skills maybe only one would actually add to their capability in the way a standard Advanced Move would.

    This allows the player to continue to experience growth, to gain new capabilities, and to expand their options, all without technically making them more capable on the battlefield or the playbooks area of expertise. This approach works perfectly for my old school D&D style. I’m pretty sure it would work well for other types of games too.

    I’m so excited I now have an option for somebody who wants to transition from one class to the next without the “oops, your a level one class now” approach. I never liked that approach. Thank You!

  5. I think these ideas are great! One thing I would add though. When you Change Career, you must take all of the new classes starting moves, and give up an equivalent amount of moves that you currently have. This puts some teeth to the whole “Career Change” idea.

  6. I think I would add that as an option Peter Johansen. The player may keep their starting moves at 10+ if they desire, but it is first required to purchase all of the starting moves of the new class at 17 XP/each before they can start to purchase the Advanced Moves of the new class. The base seven classes have between 3 and 5 SM. The maximum amount of SM “slots” is equal to the highest amount of SM possessed by either of the two classes (original or new).

    When a new SM is learned they can swap out an original class SM for a new class SM they have already learned. Swapping out/reconfiguring SMs can be done by using the Recover Special Move in town or an equivalent, but never in the middle of an adventure. Once all SMs have been learned, the player can now take X Lv2-5 AM in the new class, where X is the amount of starting moves for the new class.

    Example: At Lv10 a Wizard decides he would like to starting training as a Ranger. At Lv11 he takes his first SM in the Ranger class. At Lv13 he has now trained all three Ranger SM and is allowed to pick three Ranger Lv2-5 AM for the Ranger (lets say Wild Empathy, Familiar Prety, and Viper’s Strike). If the player chooses to take some downtime they can reconfigure their SMs to their liking.

    If the player really isn’t interested in this multi-classing approach and simply wants to transition into a Ranger, then I would handle it differently. I would handle the XP required to level just like the normal 1-10 progression. Each level would grant 1 SM and 1 Lv2-5 AM. For the first 5 levels I wouldn’t force the player to swap out an original SM with a new class SM. Doing this with something like the Wizard could render the Wizard extremely weak, making the transition feel like less of a transition and more of a reset.

    Once the player is ready to start taking AM from the 6-10 list in the new class, I would require them to fully switch all SM to the new class. Once that commitment has been shown, that is when they are granted access to 6-10 list. At this point a wizard may not be able to cast spells anymore, but there are still some moves on the Wizard AM list that should allow that part of their build to remain useful. If they aren’t ready to swap all SMs out by Lv6 they can still select a AM from the Lv2-5 list, though they won’t be able to swap that out for a Lv6-10 AM later.

    What do you guys think? I’m trying to give them two options, a long slow road of advancement that leads to a multi-class approach and one that is much quicker for the devout character ready to give their all to become something else. Though multi-classing is going to be a serious power issue, the restriction on SM between the two classes should strike some sort of a balance/limitation. Thoughts? I’m just spit-ballin’ here =)

  7. We had a couple characters hit level 10+ before the end of our last campaign and none of us were real big on the default rules. I let them continue to advance as such:

    1) XP cost per level continued as normal.

    2) No Stat increases after level 10.

    3) We made up a few “Elite Moves” to select from for levels 11 – 15. I only created Moves for the Ranger and Thief (only ones that hit level 10+).

    Basically it was like creating a Compendium Class: “Elite Ranger”, “Elite Thief”. Worked out pretty well but if I remember right they were only level 11 and 12 when we finished. Don’t know how it would go over more levels. 

  8. Extending the idea of Elite compendium classes becoming available for levels 10+, characters can gain Domain type Moves. I’m thinking that a level 10+ Fighter, for example, can become the lord of an Estate. You could even create a new playbook for the Estate, with new Moves unlocking for levels above 10.

  9. I think there is a lot of untapped potential for end game/10+ support. I will definitely be wotking on this aspect more as my game progresses.

    So Matthew Yun you would give the estate custom moves or the elite cc would include an estate move?

  10. I love the idea of “elite CC’s” that are only available to high level chars. Also the idea of having to purchase your starting moves one at a time as a qualification is awesome! It’s like an apprenticeship period, and maybe you’re not allowed to mix in any other moves during that period because it demands focused study. As Peter said it puts some teeth in the career change.

  11. Matthew Yun Have you seen the Landed Gentry CC?

    I’m in favor of CCs myself, so much so that any CC could be considered an epic class. While you’re limited to 9 advanced moves in your main class (level 10), moves in a CC don’t count towards that limit. Though I write some pretty long CCs myself, maybe a limit of 5 CC moves?

  12. Marques Jordan : I think estate moves could either be options in an elite C.C. or incorporated as custom moves in their own right, depending on the GM’s preference. Examples off the top of my head: Fortify Manor, Build Castle, Collect Taxes, Raise Militia, Retain Men-At-Arms, etc.

    Mike Harvey : Bonds with estates is a great idea!

    Peter Johansen : I have not seen the Landed Gentry CC, but I’ll look for it. These are all excellent sugestions for extending DW for long-term campaigns.

  13. Matthew Yun I think the idea of creating custom moves for domain management is awesome. Since that is usually considered to be a separate part of the game, often involving completely separate mechanics in most OSR systems. Developing a tool set for this sort of thing seems ideal and exciting. I plan on running long term primarily so this sort of thing is right up my alley.

    Peter Johansen I don’t know if I would limit a CC to only 5 moves unless that CC added to the characters power or ability to disrupt gameplay through power gaming. If the moves are like the ones I suggested earlier where the CC is modeled more after a profession or career that is not particularly adventure focused, I see no reason to limit how far they can go in the CC.

    Mike Harvey I think that is an excellent idea. The only caveat is making sure that the character isn’t too weak during this apprenticeship. Could you give me an example of what you had in mind? Say a Wizard becoming a Ranger. During their apprenticeship what moves would the character have access to? I’m not sure if you are suggesting that a character might be stuck with just the first SM of the Ranger for a session or two, while working towards unlocking the rest of the SMs.

  14. I don’t even know that you need to necessarily replace the moves. I don’t see why you can’t just keep adding moves from the same classes. Each class has about 20 moves. A character gains only about 9 of them during play.

    For the most part, for most classes, the moves don’t really stack terribly much. Which means that gaining more moves would just improve the character’s performance in areas other than those they previously chose to focus on.

    A character would be at least level 20 before they gained every move on the sheet and became the paragon version of their class.

  15. Peter Johansen that is awesome! I only wish it was longer. Did you make this? Do you know of any others that focus on this sort of gameplay? That CC is very exciting =D

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