Content of the article: "Level 1 Characters Are Not Pathetic Weaklings With No Life Experience. Let Them Have Backstories."
"B-b-but I'd be a level one character-"
No, fool. You'd be a commoner. Probably a lackluster one at that.
A level one character is a level one character because they're about twice as sturdy as the average commoner and considerably harder to hit.
They're wiser, stronger, faster, smarter, healthier and more charming than most.
They're usually trained in the use of multiple forms of weapons and armour.
They've obtained the armour or weapons or magical tools necessary to practice their craft.
They can heal the wounded, conjure fey spirits to serve as their eyes and ears, spare the dying, recover their vitality seemingly through force of will alone in combat.
They can make the ground tremble at will, understand any language, jump off a tower and survive, strike pressure points with improbable precision, hold fire in their hands.
They have multiple professional skills ranging from that of a trained survivalist or a competent scholar, from an accomplished athlete to a skilled performer.
All of them can reliably kill multiple fully-grown, physically capable men (ie. commoners) without significant risk. Hell, all of them can pretty reliably take on a full-grown wolf and live if they aren't seriously unlucky.
Gee, look at all that potential for backstory. It's incredible. I'm holding it in my hands and it's so goddamn heavy. All the backstory potential.
Yes, they're not superpowered adventurers who can breeze through armies and if they can certainly die by simple chance, but they are and should be a cut above the common folk. Should your characters be reasonably cautious with the knowledge that they're very mortal and could be killed by a very determined man with a knife? Sure. But that doesn't mean they can't know and act like they're competent, talented individuals with tons of potential and a good set of skills.
So DMs- please, for the love of god, stop making people feel like their characters are weaklings who have never done anything. Let level one characters have interesting backstories where they actually accomplish things, even if it's because they got lucky.
Players, let your characters have some confidence in themselves, preferably before they're capable of decimating armies, and remember that your level one character does not need to be some fresh-faced 18 year old with no life experience.
And before somebody says "um well setting dependent, and wizard with negative CON, and-" please, please, for the sake of everyone you're ever going to meet, know when there's no point in being pedantic.
- How to level up companions – a practical guide
- Transcend Potential explained.
- The skill system seems great at first glance but, like Oblivion’s, it forces you to awkwardly metagame just to build a decent character.
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