Level One

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
530
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I've played quite a few RPGs and have noticed something:  a lot of them don't have the characters start at level one.  I've seen some start as high as level seven.

This begs the question:  what is the point of levels one through six? 

Also, I've noticed a lot of WRPGs actually do start at first level, while JRPGs tend not to.

I know, we've had a similar discussion on a previous thread (one I don't feel like linking or necroposting) (Ridiculously High Level Caps)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy'
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
14,696
Reaction score
3,006
First Language
Tagalog
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
well, maybe for one, because they found it easier to balance the stats if they started from level 1... but then scaled the game such that the early enemies are only fightable at around level 5 or more so they set it as the initial level...


or maybe they wanted to add some game difficulty setting where you actually start at level 1 (Like in Valkyrie Profile, where everyone starts out at level 1 in hard mode)
 

djDarkX

Retro & Remastered Music Guru
Veteran
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Messages
2,699
Reaction score
1,896
First Language
Music
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Well, the whole "starting from level x" is to show that the character has some experience fighting, as where characters at level 1 are beginners or non-plot critical characters.  It's a staple of jRPG's.
 

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
530
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
In WRPGs, the characters - even the PCs - tend to start at first level, even with the training and experience behind their current expertise.  Like, you're a first level Fighter, but your flavor text reads that you've got plenty of combat experience (but are not anything special).
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy'
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
14,696
Reaction score
3,006
First Language
Tagalog
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Now that I think about it... a "more-skilled" warrior starting out at level X is more logical than him starting at level 1... specially if a certain class is used by more than 1 character... like if there are two warriors, one is said to be skilled, the other is a newbie... you would expect the skilled warrior to start out stronger than the newbie...


then of course you can simply make his stats better... but it really depends on what you want it to be...


normally, if you want the end product to be the same, then you'll better stick with 1 class, then just start out one of them at a higher level... it also makes it easier to manage...


but if 1 should really be stronger than the other, then it's probably better to use two classes, one with higher stats curves...
 

Lowell

The Walking Atelier
Veteran
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
292
Reaction score
69
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
It depends on the type of game being design mostly.

Games that focus more on character customization (Etrian Odyssey for example) tend to have you start at level one so you can get the most of it.

Games like say... the Final Fantasy games don't have customization built around leveling so they can get away with starting you at higher levels.

Starting with higher levels can also be the developers design for the first area. Whether they want the first area to be a breeze to pass through or a steep learning curve for the player.
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
30,262
Reaction score
7,138
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I think it's a relict from the way the D&D-rules were first made decades ago, and most people who grow up with them didn't question them.


If you go down to probability, 1st-level D&D (1st-edition) characters are just suicide-candidates hoping that the DM let's them survive their first adventure, but go up the first levels extremely fast. D&D1st has only balanced gameplay with chars from level 5 or up.


As a personal guess it was made this way to fix on the new players. They start ridicioulsly low to allow the game system giving them the first levels quickly to raise their interest in the game, before getting better balanced at later levels.


People who step beyond that and think about what levels really are without restricting themselves by "it was always done this way" see the problems with a definition "level 1 = beginning adventurers". Just look at the scaling problems with the "level-0-civilian" that always pop up when trying to compare adventurers with townspeople.


I'm writing my own PnP-RPG-Rules as a hobby, and I decided a long time ago to go with a definition "level 1 = baby born" for scaling and other reasons. In my games, the player usually start with level 4 (which is set as "journeyman ready to leave academy"). That also allows me to make things like campaigns with apprentices in an academy (level 2-3) or veterans working for the lords (starting level 6-8) without any struggling on house-rules or the like...
 

kerbonklin

Hiatus King
Veteran
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
1,728
Reaction score
282
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
FF4 was a good example of not starting at lv1.  Cecil, being an experienced Dark Knight commander, started out at lv10 with Kain (also being lv10 as a the leader of the Red Baron Dragoons). When Cecil passes the challenge to become a Paladin to "banish his inner darkness and past", he reverts back to lv1. (then you quickly power-grind him back to lv16 or so)

It's definitely something you would do for plot-purpose or character-profiling/development.
 

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
530
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
In old-school RPGs, the level represented your experience in that current class.  It said nothing about your previous experience...
 

Ralph

Retired Badass
Restaff Lead
Joined
Mar 8, 2013
Messages
329
Reaction score
230
First Language
Fantasy Heroics
I don't like being Level 1. I don't have any skills! (」゚ペ)」
 

AstoXx

Subconscious Punmaster
Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
469
Reaction score
76
First Language
Logic
Primarily Uses
I don't like being Level 1. I don't have any skills! (」゚ペ)」
You should do. I set them to Level 1 in the database.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy'
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
14,696
Reaction score
3,006
First Language
Tagalog
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
In old-school RPGs, the level represented your experience in that current class.  It said nothing about your previous experience...
but what if the current class is the same as your class in the previous experience... 

anyway, it's just a matter of design... their real reasons might never be known unless you ask directly...
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
30,262
Reaction score
7,138
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
In old-school RPGs, the level represented your experience in that current class.  It said nothing about your previous experience...
anyway, it's just a matter of design... their real reasons might never be known unless you ask directly...
not exactly as that was a computer limitation from way back.


the really old-school-RPGs (D&D 1974, before computers where used for gaming purposes) were PnP-RPGs, and they added Experience points without ever resetting them to zero.


However, when computers first were used for gaming, memory was expensive and many 8-bit-computers simply couldn't handle large numbers without a lot of tricks (there is a famous line from developing the first PCs "no one will ever need more than 640 KB of memory", so they limited the original PCs -that had usually 64 or 128 KB only- to that maximum).


That is the reason why the early computer RPGs changed the procedures to restart counting XP at every level - they simply couldn't handle adding the numbers for every level up...


Later it became dependent on which type of game you followed - the official D&D adventures always added, while especially the early consoles with their much more limited power reset the numbers.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Alex_TheBadass

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Dec 18, 2013
Messages
42
Reaction score
15
First Language
Heroism
Gotta start somewhere, man.

I remember Level 1. It was a rough place to be, but I persevered...and my beats (and fightin' slimes) were my answer. Kept me goin'.

Now I'm level 99, spendin' millions of GP wherever I go, drivin' a sick airship...livin' the life.

Nobody said life was easy! Takes a lotta effort and a little luck. And a limit break every now and then.

---

Thanks for hearing me out, broseph. Maybe this will help pimp out your game:

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Gilsev

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
31
Reaction score
7
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
WRPGs tend to start you at level 1 because of social implications of the main character, being that it is supposed to represent the player. JRPGs are an embodiment of what Japanese culture views as important, which is not what you are capable of but what role you will fill.

Western audiences are more interested in the individual power fantasy than Japanese audiences, which means that you will start at a higher level in JRPGs because of a talent the character has but in WRPGs you will be able to customize yourself from level 1, to make the character more an extension of yourself.
 

Ksi

~RTP Princess~
Moderator
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
2,060
Reaction score
1,590
First Language
English
I do it in my own games because it doesn't make sense that the characters' lives start only when the game begins. It adds more to the character if they're shown to have used their weapons in the past. I mean, if you have a veteran soldier it doesn't make sense to start him at the same level as a newbie mage. So I like to indicate that there's skill there from the past, that the characters had a past in which they actually did things and learned things.
 

Kes

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Aug 3, 2012
Messages
22,010
Reaction score
11,348
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I do it in my own games because it doesn't make sense that the characters' lives start only when the game begins. It adds more to the character if they're shown to have used their weapons in the past. 
Depends.  In my game (that should have been released before Christmas, but is now early January) there is a very good story line why 3 characters start at level 1, but the 4th starts at level 9.  And it it hinges precisely on the point that the 3 haven't used weapons before, whereas the 4th has.

So I don't think it is possible to generalise.

What I think is tricky is coming up with plausible story reasons why someone is at level one without resorting to the cliche of it being a child/teenager who then goes on to save the world.
 

Gilsev

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
31
Reaction score
7
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
Ksjp17, that cliche could also apply to adults. If your life was an RPG, would you be proficient with magic, or swords, a bow, or any other weapons common in games? Not all levels apply directly to character potency some apply to skill with weapons or magic.
 

Omnimental

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
237
Reaction score
83
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
Starting your character at a point higher then level one gives the player the feeling that the character is already accomplished, in a sense.    Starting at level one more implies a clean slate.  I think the JRPG/WRPG difference more comes from the difference between playing as a separate character (Cloud Strife, FFVII) vs creating your own (the Vault Dweller, Fallout).  Having a level above one implies that you have a prior history.

Personally, I like having a character start a couple of levels higher just so I can introduce a second actor who does start at level one, usually a younger character.  Helps connect the mechanics to the fluff.

Of course, my current project doesn't actually have levels (all skills are learned through usage), so it doesn't matter much for me.  :D
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

Twitter is making me embarrassed to be a Persona 5 fan rn
I don't wanna be called out when I say P5R is my favorite game :kaoswt2:
And my first batch of gobbo battlers is up *yay* (images should show now as they first didnt - Just my luck lol)
I've released the game I've been working on for the past 7 years, and wrote a postmortem detailing the struggles of developing a game alone. Check it out! https://meiri.itch.io/apple-pie/devlog/160774/apple-pie-a-postmortem
Petty boss is working today. Hope he realizes today that messing with me is gonna ruin his day like yesterday. I can operate very comfortably on the fringes of policy XD

Forum statistics

Threads
99,550
Messages
966,669
Members
131,184
Latest member
Ba_hq
Top