December 16, 2011

A second look at Table 4: Level Limit

Level limits!  Everyone's favorite topic. Let's skip the part where I wax poetic about humanity's potential for greatness vs. other species.  B/X has level limits, so my system for creating customized B/X classes includes a table with their costs.

If you want to use this system but don't want to use level limits, you can!  Just throw this table out, increase the cost of infravision to 25%, and increase the dwarf Stone Sense ability to 20% (those seem a tad high, but not by much).  Fair enough?  

If you do want to incorporate level limits into your custom classes, here is what I came up with.

Table 4: Level Limit
(Humans pay 0% for no cap)
8 - +0%
9 - +5%
10 - +10%
11 - +15%
12 - +20%

This table bothered me for the longest time.  It just seemed so unfair that the humans were paying 0% while the dwarves, elves, and halflings were paying a fee for level caps.  It didn't make any sense... until about an hour ago when the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.

Level limits are the price you pay for access to Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities.

The cost is based upon the level where you cap.  If your class caps at level 8, then access to Table 10 costs you nothing.  Otherwise, access to the abilities in Table 10 costs (max level-8)*5%.

That's why humans pay 0%.  They don't have access to all the cool stuff in Table 10.  Infravision, wings that let you fly, innate magical abilities, tremor sense, bonus AC vs. large creatures due to your small size, immunities, resistances, water breathing, and gods know what else.

So, if you make a species like, I dunno... Andorians.  You decide that their antenna and blue skin are only cosmetic changes that grant no special abilities.  You give them some Extras from Table 9 but nothing from Table 10; then Andorians don't need a level limit.

On the other hand you can also make a class for Hawkmen and declare that they don't hit their level cap until 12th.  They would pay 20% ([12-8]*5%) for access to the functional wings in Table 10, plus the cost of the wings.  I think I listed slow functional wings as costing 50%, I imagine hawkmen as being swift but not super agile fliers so maybe 60-65%.

I think it's fairly easy to tell which abilities are "Beyond Human" and which aren't.  I'm not going to worry right now about listing every possible ability in it's proper table.  The real question I have is if 12th is the highest possible level cap.  Can a class pay 60% for a level cap at 20th?  I'm still undecided, but ultimately it doesn't matter.  Individual DMs are going to decide for themselves anyhow.

OK, so...

In the original post I'm changing the sentence under Table 4 from "(Humans pay 0% for no cap)" to "(Level limits grant access to Table 10: Beyond Human Abilities)".  Then I'm moving the dwarf, elf, and halfling abilities from Table 9 to Table 10.  Some of that stuff (like bonus languages) belongs in Table 9, but most of it doesn't.  I'll expand those tables and clean them up in a few days.


  1. Now that makes sense. Gonna roll this all up into a pdf or something in the near future?


  2. I could. Once I get done with the "second look"s and make 5 million more little changes I'll see about making a PDF that doesn't look terrible.

    Did you notice the green Print/PDF button at the bottom of each post? If you don't want to wait you can use that to get an ugly hardcopy of all the tables from my original Dec 9th post.

  3. I had thought about that, but don't know what 'little changes' you might have in store for them as you review them.

    Oh how I miss my old Red Box adventures... this would have been awesome back then!