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[1e AD&D] Alternative to level limits for demi-human PCs

Akrasia

Lord of Procrastination
Validated User
This thread got me thinking about demi-human level limits and their justification in AD&D.

So, gentle readers, how about this as an alternative system to level limits for demi-human characters?

a. Clerics.
Demi-human clerics cannot cast spells above level 4. They get the spell 'slots' for higher-level spells as they progress, but they must fill those slots with lower level spells. Otherwise, demi-human clerics progress as normal.
Justification: the demi-human races are in decline, and so are their gods. The demi-human gods simply cannot channel as much of their divine essence to their followers as human gods can.

b. Magic-Users
Elven and half-elven magic-users cannot cast spells above level 5. Gnome illusionists cannot cast spells above level 4. They nonetheless receive the appropriate spell 'slots' for the higher levels, but have to fill those 'slots' with spells that are level 1-5 in power (1-4 in the case of gnomes).
Justification:The long-lived, traditionalist ways of the elder folk have engendered in them structured minds simply too rigid to apprehend the non-Euclidean runes (or whatever) that higher-level magic requires.

c. Fighters and Rangers
Once demi-human fighters or rangers reach their level limit, they no longer receive full hit die (d10 for fighters), but rather the flat +3 bonus per level thereafter (the bonus that all fighters receive levels 10+). Moreover, their combat abilities (to hit rolls, or THAC0) improve in only one weapon (with all other weapons, they remain as they were at the original level limit). Finally, demi-human fighters do not found new strongholds and lands of their own.
Justification: The decline of the civilizations of the demi-humans saps their martial and political will. Culturally, it becomes difficult for them to remain continually ready for conflict. They thus concentrate their limited attentions on only a single weapon after a certain point.

d. Thieves and Assassins
Just let demi-humans in these classes progress normally (most demi-human thieves could progress without limit already, and half-orcs could progress without limit as assassins). However, they never can become guildmasters in any city dominated by humans (and most crime-ridden cities, of course, are dominated by humans).
Justification: Humans are somewhat envious of demi-human thieves and assassins, and refuse to grant them positions of authority.

e. Druids
Half-elves can be druids just as humans can be, according to the core 1e rules. This should not be changed. However, I recommend that elves also have their own druidic order, and can advance to level 14 within that order. Unlike regular druids, elvish druids receive only a d6 HD, do not learn to shape change, but are skilled in short bows (with a +1 to hit bonus) in addition to the usual druidic weapons. The Elven Druidic order is NG in alignment and accepts only elves (however, rumours of dark elven NE 'spider druids' exist). Half-elf druids must be part of the human hierarchy.

f. Bards
No changes, though the class probably should be open to elves, who use only a d8 for HD during their phase as a fighter.

Paladins and monks are unaffected, as they are human-only classes.

Also, human PCs receive a +1 bonus to any ability score of their choice at level one (no ability score can be improved beyond 18), and another +1 bonus to any ability score of their choice at level 5 (no ability score can be improved beyond 18). This reflects humans' focus on continual self-improvement, a focus the elder races now lack.

That's it. Thoughts?
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
It's interesting, but I personally don't like it at all. They are still limits and I don't like them (alongside racial gods). Give humans a +1 bonus to two ability scores of their choice and good.
 

Akrasia

Lord of Procrastination
Validated User
They're not 'hard' limits, as they allow the characters to continue to improve in meaningfully ways.

Essentially I was trying to address the worry that if demi-humans had no level limits the world would be controlled by 700 year-old 60th level elf magic-users.

Anyhow, it was just a thought...
 

Taarkoth

Registered User
Validated User
a. Clerics.
Demi-human clerics cannot cast spells above level 4. They get the spell 'slots' for higher-level spells as they progress, but they must fill those slots with lower level spells. Otherwise, demi-human clerics progress as normal.
Justification: the demi-human races are in decline, and so are their gods. The demi-human gods simply cannot channel as much of their divine essence to their followers as human gods can.
Mostly sounds fine. Still need to explain why a half-elf, who very well could be following his human parent's pantheon, can't get the 5th+ level spells.

b. Magic-Users
Elven and half-elven magic-users cannot cast spells above level 5. Gnome illusionists cannot cast spells above level 4. They nonetheless receive the appropriate spell 'slots' for the higher levels, but have to fill those 'slots' with spells that are level 1-5 in power (1-4 in the case of gnomes).
Justification:The long-lived, traditionalist ways of the elder folk have engendered in them structured minds simply too rigid to apprehend the non-Euclidean runes (or whatever) that higher-level magic requires.
Eeeeh. I'd like to emphasize the alien nature of the demi-human races, that just because they look and even act fairly similar to humans, they still aren't; thus I would rather say that only humans have minds even capable of comprehending high level arcana. Make the reasoning biological rather than social. This also short circuits someone coming in with a special snowflake raised by humans.

c. Fighters and Rangers
Once demi-human fighters or rangers reach their level limit, they no longer receive full hit die (d10 for fighters), but rather the flat +3 bonus per level thereafter (the bonus that all fighters receive levels 10+). Moreover, their combat abilities (to hit rolls, or THAC0) improve in only one weapon (with all other weapons, they remain as they were at the original level limit). Finally, demi-human fighters do not found new strongholds and lands of their own.
Justification: The decline of the civilizations of the demi-humans saps their martial and political will. Culturally, it becomes difficult for them to remain continually ready for conflict. They thus concentrate their limited attentions on only a single weapon after a certain point.
Again, don't like sociological reasons. Would rather say that humans are simply more physically capable than the other races, hence the limits.

d. Thieves and Assassins
Just let demi-humans in these classes progress normally (most demi-human thieves could progress without limit already, and half-orcs could progress without limit as assassins). However, they never can become guildmasters in any city dominated by humans (and most crime-ridden cities, of course, are dominated by humans).
Justification: Humans are somewhat envious of demi-human thieves and assassins, and refuse to grant them positions of authority.
Don't like it. Honestly, the jack-of-all-trades nature of the thief makes sense to me as why it's the only unlimited class for demi-humans and so I'd just leave this as is.

e. Druids
Half-elves can be druids just as humans can be, according to the core 1e rules. This should not be changed. However, I recommend that elves also have their own druidic order, and can advance to level 14 within that order. Unlike regular druids, elvish druids receive only a d6 HD, do not learn to shape change, but are skilled in short bows (with a +1 to hit bonus) in addition to the usual druidic weapons. The Elven Druidic order is NG in alignment and accepts only elves (however, rumours of dark elven NE 'spider druids' exist). Half-elf druids must be part of the human hierarchy.
Sounds good, assuming one is keeping the 'no 5th level or higher spell' rule.

f. Bards
No changes, though the class probably should be open to elves, who use only a d8 for HD during their phase as a fighter.
Eh. Like the current restrictions.

Paladins and monks are unaffected, as they are human-only classes.

Also, human PCs receive a +1 bonus to any ability score of their choice at level one (no ability score can be improved beyond 18), and another +1 bonus to any ability score of their choice at level 5 (no ability score can be improved beyond 18). This reflects humans' focus on continual self-improvement, a focus the elder races now lack.

That's it. Thoughts?
*shrug* I'd probably just give an xp boost, but whatever.

So, gentle readers, how about this as an alternative system to level limits for demi-human characters?
Overall seems interesting.
 

Old Geezer

Active member
Banned
You know, I can honestly say in 40 years I've never, ever had a player who wanted to play a nonhuman decline to play one because of level limits.

I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that there are always multiple campaigns playing, and every player has multiple PCs. It's not rare for someone to say "I'm bored with my cleric, I think I'm going to roll another character and play that for a while."

And with the fact that we ran completely sandbox games with no "plot" in advance.
 

UglyJimStudly

Unforgiven
Validated User
We never really used demi-human level limits. We just said the top level shown in the class advancement tables was the top level, period, no classes had indefinite advancement. In practice it never really came up, as we focused most of our play in a range of about 4th to 9th level, with only a couple of campaigns going much higher than that.
 

Nemigar

Active member
Validated User
As has been noted elsewhere, if demihumans had no level limits, they would rule the world. And the gaming world was intended to be human-centric.

I dealt with it, as someone who runs a very long game (about 35 years so far) by allowing demi-humans to advance as high as the related stat - strength for fighters, etc. So, if you have a 16 str, you can go to 16. Opens things up quite a bit.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
As has been noted elsewhere, if demihumans had no level limits, they would rule the world. And the gaming world was intended to be human-centric.
There are so many illogical things in D&D Lands that this one can easily be handwaved as well (IMO).
 

Erik Sieurin

Translemurist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
This might be seen as odd, but do demi-humans really need all the mechanical advantages they get for being demi-humans? I don't think too high of them as advantages myself, but that's because I came from a gaming group with fairly munchkini people, but no one EVER created a demihuman character to get +1 to hit goblinoids, infravision, bonus poison save, brouhahaha. The only "powergaming" reason was that people liked the versatility of multi-classing. Since general consensus seems to be that they are powerful, do we really need all of them to portray some sort of general idea we (or rather the OP) have of elves and dwarves etc? For instance, do they have to have a monopoly on multiclassing, if that should exist at all? I have never bought any watsonian reason for why it should be the case generally (as say, opposed to the idea that elves are all magic-users/something because they are innately magical) for demihumans but absolutely not for humans. (The doylist explanation is probably extrapolation from elven characters in OD&D). Elves get +1 on bows and swords; can't we just make it fluff that elves like those weapons, or force elves to take weapon proficiencies first in those weapons if you really want a mechanical representation? If you portray infravision as "detect heat patterns", not as "never has any problem with darkness" is it really that of a game breaker, and do demi-humans need that and not something lesser in any case?

And so on. Just a thought.
 

Davies

Registered User
Validated User
As has been noted elsewhere, if demihumans had no level limits, they would rule the world.
And this is the single largest bit of nonsense that ever featured in a game noted for nonsense. Seriously, every advantage that the demihumans have is either irrelevant in the face of much more logical reasons for human dominance (chiefly, we breed like rats and don't take terribly long to reach adulthood, while still being more capable of cooperation than the humanoids are) or can be quite effectively countered. Infravision lets them launch attacks in the night? Have your high level clerics casting continual light every round they aren't casting a cure! Resistant to charm and sleep and poison? How do they feel about good old steel in the guts and fire and lightning and cold!
 
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