Saturday 30 March 2024

Do Levels equal social rank or fame?

Ive had a few discussions of late about how common people with levels are, do aristocats require high levels? How well known is an adventurer?

So in the Worlds of Elfmaids & Octopi levels are not commonplace. Most humans are zero level with a d4 or d6 HP for the fighty ones and would find kobolds, goblins or a rabid dog a menace. Many humans reach 1st level and stay there on the first level of 1st Tier and are considered tougher than most people professionals. A group of d6 militia and bandits working a while with some life-threatening adventures go from green fighting folk to 1st level veterans. In a squad of 12-24 troops you would get a few guys with an extra level or two in charge like corporals and sergeants. There are also various grades of elite troops who are at higher level led by bosses with one to two levels more.

Officers may be hardened battlefield promotions or have had to fight others to get there and could be higher level than their troops. It's also possible they are a corrupt aristocrat. May have formal training that potentially helps them reach a higher level but the odds are many won't survive and will die on battlefield of up front or be killed by their own subordinates.  

The idea all aristocrats and land owners are high level isn't really believable most of the time. I prefer to say people who fought their way to high levels are granted honourary titles and obligations to hobble them and make them fit into traditional power bases. Some aristocrats fight their way to the position or had to kill siblings and fight to get their stuff and ought to be considered dangerous. Once they have the title their children may not be so murderous or brave. Later generations of nobles might snub people who had to get dirty with blood to get status. In my city state bronze age game barbarians take over every three generations and as descendants become city folk they in turn are taken over by their rustic cousins. In a war like setting where kings rely on support by a bunch of warring maniacs who rob and sabotage each other it is more likely nobility actually have ability.

In a more civilised age you might get incompetent officers who believe they are superior by birth and lead their troops to failure. Some nobles might even buy their ranks and titles as commissions. If these incompetent officers are in charge the overall troop quality will decline and morale will drop. Morale is also discipline so you men might be more prone to crime and vice or cowardice. Competent troops are more likely to be given to a superior officer and have serious deployments. Poor quality forces and leaders are placeholders to sacrifice if needed and have safe posts.

Fame is another concept that affects all this. Titles and status may earn some fame and reputation but a similar rank person who is a veteran fighting person will probably have more fame. Especially high-level persons are famous for victories and strength in the way a privileged appointed brat can have. Someone with rank above their deeds may be demoralising to subordinates or will have discipline problems. A fancy toff might survive and gain levels and gain respect. They will probably change in other ways.

In many of my games, I make some villains recognisable to everyone or sometimes to members of a specific occupation who might know the person's reputation. It's good to meet enemies and know of their past deeds. Makes fights more personal as your histories interweave. If they lose do they die or escape or get raised by a maniac?

Tier 0
Nobody ordinary people only known by local peers dealt with 
Tier 1 (Lv 1-4)
Quality fighting folk, some locals might have heard of deeds or quality
Tier 2  (Lv 5-8)
Master of renown, start gaining followers and students, nobles have heard of you
Tier 3 (Lv 9-12)
Hero of the realm, interact with rulers, deeds save the kingdom, granted lands and titles by rulers to keep you close to the nations power
Tier 4 (Lv 1-4)
Have visited other worlds and are watched by the gods for your awesome deeds and the awesome monsters you kill. Mortals who know of you gush a bit at your name and follow your wondrous deeds. A ruler may really want to be a friend or might really hate you as a possible threat
Tier 5  (Lv 17-20)
Demigod tier and your actions with gods and other planes make you known on other dimensions. Powerful beings may help or hinder you reach the hood. Some shun the attention of planar beings and avoid apotheosis to godhood. When you die people build shrines to you and prey to you 

d12 Uselss Posh Officers
1 Inherited job evokes reputation of deceased parent authority
2 Friends with boss and appointed job, will evoke make of boss 
3 Convinced is superior due to breeding over troops and enemies, destiny on my side
4 Bribed to get the job and keen for glory in a heroic charge
5 Inexperienced and poorly trained, makes wrong orders at the wrong time in panic
6 Related to someone famous and threatens sub-bosses and is incompetent
7 Has never seen death or blood, prone to panic or abandoning troops
8 Boss is blind and drunk to face the enemy, belligerent and looking for a fight
9 believe they are an uncanny diplomat and offers to talk to all foes, give away secrets and sure negotiations worked. Tries to talk enemy to surrender 
10 Deranged cultists wants to wade in blood and gore, encourage looting and murder
11 Has read lots of war books and sure a direct charge will work always
12 Cowardly and equips and trains minions to use a dirty trick or extra item of equipment and seen as dirty tricks. Hurling wasp nests, drinking potions, poison, burning oil, plague victim faeces, pets, etc. Others of own kind are disgusted by them and the leader will flee if things look bad


  1. IMC, most people are zero-level, but with different degrees of that (as per the AD&D 1E DMG). Most rulers do have levels because they live in a world that's too dangerous for weakling rulers, but in very safe, civilized areas there may be rulers who are zero-level. Even there, they are often puppets. Name level (9th to 11th, depending on class) equates to nationwide (and more) fame.

  2. Id not really considered puppets
    But yes to most of what you said

  3. I like the idea of fame but not of level = rank.
    I was thinking of having PCs add their level to CHA checks.

    1. I dont want it to be a strict thing and the point of this is that there are exceptions and level just a handy tool for players in many cases

      i do think when your killing mythic monsters and saving kingdoms you get some glory - Pendragon has a mechanic and your children inherit some

      I do have fighters with the largest command radius in combat and level can help


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