After several months of gaming and character changes, my players have finally gained a new level of experience with their party. Although we will be switching to a new party consisting of the other four PCs for our next adventure, I decided to let my players have the pleasure of leveling up their current party before ending the session.
You might be asking why I did this. The answer is simple: leveling up the characters is a promise that we will be returning to these characters in the near future. I still intend to let the players choose which characters go on which adventures, so it might not be in the following adventure based on what the players decide, but it will be within the next few adventures.
I didn’t let the players level up the party of Zanthar Rex, simply because I don’t know if these characters will ever be used again. They make great backup characters should there be any fatalities or a Total Party Kill, but I have no real plans of future adventures for them at this point.
As for the Escapees from Zanzer’s Dungeon, I do intent to have the players return to this party, and to explore Stonekeep. However, this will be long in the future, as both myself and my players will have gotten more experience in the campaign, and with D&D itself.
It’s fairly easy to justify this long, extended break – the party were ordinary townsfolk before being kidnapped, and it was through their ordeals in Zanzer’s Dungeon that they learnt whether they can fight, whether they could cast spells, or whether they had an aptitude for stealthiness and thievery. Their faith was tested, as they made do with what they could readily learn and practice. They found some of the tools they needed, but they hadn’t completed the training that other adventurers received, and thus whilst it’s safe to assume that they will remain adventurers for a while, they aren’t necessarily prepared to explore Stonekeep at this time.
Classes and Leveling
So, what does gaining a level actually mean? Well, for now, the main benefits of gaining a level is that they get tougher, and more able to survive their adventures. This means they gain more hit points, and their saving throw bonuses increase. All adventurers gain these benefits, although how they improve their saves and how many extra hitpoints they gain is determined by their class.
In all cases, on becoming 2nd Level, the saving throw bonuses they get increase by +1, for a total of +3. This means that Elanna and Thordar, as fighters, increased their Fortitude saving throws by +1, whilst Michifer and Thaddeus, as a Cleric and Mage, both increased their Will saving throws by +1.
Likewise, upon becoming 2nd Level, each character gains another hit die worth of hit points to their maximum. The fighters both got +1d10 extra hit points, whilst Michifer got +1d8 hp, and Thaddeus got +1d4 hp. They also got to add their Constitution modifiers to hit points, and with all characters having positive modifiers for Constitution, the player were guaranteed a reasonable amount of extra hp. This would be the first time the players rolled for hit points, as their characters were all given pregenerated hit points at first level.
Finally, classes often get bonuses to their abilities at 2nd level. This caused a number of issues as class abilities have not been fully developed at this point, largely because of the significant difference between 3rd edition and previous editions. In Third Edition D&D, the D20 system was the result of a major overhaul, meaning that most classes and abilities were essentially rewritten, and version 3.5 resulted in yet more, albeit less drastic, changes to classes and their abilities.
Fighters have always been bottom of the barrel when it comes to abilities, simply because they focus on doing something every class can do, but doing it very, very well – fight. In 3rd edition, Fighters would be able to specialise in various styles, so they might be strong melee damage dealers, agile archers, or highly defensive protectors of the rest of the party. But the core of the character is simple – they hit things, and they do it well.
Thus, Fighters get a +1 bonus to attacks in combat. The idea of Base Attack Bonus hasn’t been covered yet. Prior to 3rd edition, all characters had a THAC0 of 20, and thus did not get any bonuses to attacks. However, even in Basic D&D, Fighters increased their fighting ability the fastest, so a +1 bonus to attacks is a reasonable ability for now.
Spellcasters like Clerics and Mages were defined very much by their spellcasting abilities in every edition of the game. However, it seemed like every version of D&D not only varied how spellcasting worked, but also what characters could cast spells, when they could cast spells, and how they advanced in their spellcasting. However, at 2nd Level, the easiest approach is to say that they to prepare and cast an extra 1st level spell.
For Thaddeus, this was simple, as his spellbook contains two spells – sleep and magic missile. This means that Thaddeus can choose to prepare one of each spell, or to prepare two of either spell. Spell choice is still important for spellcasters, but right now, the focus is on preparing the right spells in balance, as this is a key aspect of any mage character. Just as fighters can specialise in what weapons they use and how they fight, spellcasters get to choose whether they want to be prepared for anything with a general spread of spells, or whether they tailor their spell selections by focusing on preparing certain spells multiple times.
For Michifer, this is a little more complicated. Clerics have to prepare spells, but they have access to every spell provided by their deity, immortal, or philosophy. Given the sheer range of spells in the game, this can be a lot of spells for the cleric to choose from. However, since it’s up to the GM to provide said list of spells, I can choose to limit the spell list to certain spells. In Wrath of the Minotaur, I limited Michifer to cure light wounds spell simply because this is the most critical spell any divine caster can learn, and helps keep the party alive.
However, with an extra spell slot and a potentially wider spell list, 2nd Level Clerics get to start defining how they operate in the party. Will they be battle medics and backup fighters, or will they their magic more extensively to support the party or hinder their enemies?
What About Rogues?
Luckily, with Niles not being in the party, I wouldn’t have to think about the role of rogues and what they get at 2nd level just yet. Over the various editions, theives and rogues have changed their abilities quite extensively, and is still the issue of some debate over the roles they should play in the party. This covers a lot of stuff that I am not quite ready to incorporate into our games just yet…