Several weeks ago, I was approached by one of my players who wished to write a guest post for the blog. He plays a Ranger in my Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign, and his character has the wonderful genre-breaking trait of hating the outdoors and anything associated with the wilderness. I found my player’s concept for the post interesting, and it built off a conversation regarding uneven leveling that has sprouted up in our games from time to time. Below is his column, which was shaped with a bit of feedback from yours truly and The Hydra DM who shares similar interests in dissecting the building blocks of a game – including Experience Points – and theorizing about what the results mean for those playing each session. During the life of The Id DM, I have hosted one previous guest post on the motivations of a Power Gamer. Enjoy the guest post below . . .
Power (Non-Outdoorsy) Ranger
As an introduction, I have played with The Id DM in a 4th edition game for almost a year. I am almost ashamed to admit that after playing for that long I only recently examined this site. [Iddy’s note: he has not yet been punished for such insolence!] I was impressed with how well put together the site was and how well written the articles were. The reason I visited this site for the first time was because an old discussion was restarted about uneven party member leveling and the associated benefits and consequences of giving some party members varying experience for activities or actions completed, which in turn results in some players leveling before others. The Id DM wrote an article that listed reasons to avoid uneven party leveling while another player in our campaigns, Dungeon Maestro, listed reasons to embrace uneven party leveling.
During my last game as everyone’s favorite Dragonborn Rogue, J’hari Wrex, our group played for approximately 10 hours. As the session concluded around 3AM, I asked if we had enough experience to level up. My DM informed me that I just made it to Level 12, which made me quite happy. But then I learned that everyone else in the group during the session was already Level 12. I had no idea I was a level lower throughout the entire marathon session.
Given that it was 3AM and I had to drive home, I didn’t have the time to ponder the implications of not being at the same level as the rest of the party. In the following days, I reached out to our DM (AJ, who is also a player in my campaign and host for both games) and asked why I did not level up at the same time as everyone else. He has decided to link Experience Points (XP) to attendance and he plans to run the rest of the campaign with players within the group possibly being at different levels. I disagree with this approach for several reasons. As we discussed the topic in an email chain, I decided it would make a decent blog post. Since he recently started his own blog (the power of Iddy compels him!), I told him we should answer the following question in our own way:
Should DMs level up all members of the party at the same time in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition?
I’m firmly on the Yes side, and I will explain why below the fold. Either before or after you read my reasoning, check out my DM’s firm No answer at The Dungeon Maestro.
AJ and I did not read each other’s answer before posting our responses. And check out the rest of his blog for other good D&D commentary and information about his Ultimate Gaming Table.