Two weeks ago, I ran my first session in the Tower of the God’s campaign. We got back to it again this past Thursday where our main character, Barrai, Thrain, and Bokken have completed the trial of the tower. For more information on that part…
One of the parts of Dungeons and Dragons that people really love is leveling up their characters. You get more cool things that you can do almost every level or new spells you can use or even improved stats so that you can hit harder. To level up, you need to gain experience, but how/when do you gain experience or level up?
In the Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide, there is one primary way that the game is built for you getting experience, and that’s through combat encounters (and encounters of other types), but in combat, each monster has a certain number of experience points that they give you to divide between the party. This is the standard way, then comparing your total experience to that of the level chart, when you hit a certain amount of experience you go up a level.
While this is the classic method, I’m not a huge fan of it. First, it adds to me doing more math as the Dungeon Master when building an encounter and as players then when dividing up and adding in experience. Now, it doesn’t have to be difficult math, but if someone misses a session, does their character still get experience for it? If they don’t, that causes even more of a mess because now characters will not in sync level wise and since the game tends to be more combat focused when you are using encounter/combat based experience, that means that a character might be lagging behind with that. On the other hand, this is the classic way to do it, and for video game players, it’s how almost all RPG’s work there, so it is something that they might enjoy.
My preferred method of leveling up and experience is to actually not track experience and go with something called, event or milestone leveling. When you hit a certain point in your characters story or in the over-arching story, you get to level up. The advantages of this come from leveling up in those moments where the story becomes more epic, you become more epic with it. You also don’t need to track everything and keep count of kills and what was killed, instead it levels you at proper thematic points. The downside is that if there is a point in the game where you are grinding through a dungeon and things aren’t changing, there might not be that character milestone or story event launches you to the next level. Instead you are stuck at a lower level for a while, while you’re waiting to go up and take off into a new ability for your character. That’s something, as a Dungeon Master, when using this method, that you need to be aware of, not to let the levels sit too long and instead focus on creating those epic moments every few sessions.
But, a friend, introduced me to an interesting idea from a video he’d watched on Professor Dungeon Master Youtube Channel. This concept is that you get a few points that you are tracking for experience, if things go really well in a session, you get 3 XP or maybe 4 XP. If things go awry, you get 1 XP, if it’s just okay 2 XP. And when you hit 10 XP, you “level up”. But, instead of just getting the level up, you need to do something in game or in downtime between sessions to get your character leveled up. This could be a little mini quest, such as a paladin destroying a cults temple and building up one to their god, Professor Dungeon Master’s example, or it could be something that is more tied into the main quests of the campaign. So you’re tracking experience, but at a limited level. And then to actually gain that level, you need that epic quest/story moment for your character so that they have a reason to gain new skills.
Now, I think that is an interesting option that I’m going to want to try at some point in time. What’s interesting about it to me is that it gives the players something to track in terms of experience points, they can see how close they are getting to leveling up at the end of a session, but they and I don’t need to do a lot of math and figuring for the game. It’s just adding together single digit numbers until you hit 10, and then you start again. I also like, and this is something that’s bugged me with Dungeons and Dragons leveling, is that you could, theoretically, just because of a random encounter on a travel somewhere level up, and now the Wizard knows more spells, the fighter is better with their sword, and the Druid can change into more animals. So, while it can delay leveling a little bit, I like how a character needs to complete some sort of quest or mission for that character or the story overall. So we’ve talked about a Paladin, but a Druid planting a small grove and getting that started in an area, that could give you a level up, a fighter going and defeating some low life thug on their own to stop them from going after other people, that’s something that would work as well. But I think it gives a chance for players and the DM to be more creative in storytelling, and you can decide how much you want to spend in game on this, but you could also go between sessions as well for leveling up.
If you’re playing, do you have a preferred method? I don’t think that any of them are bad, I just don’t want to do the math, so I haven’t done the more combat focused gaining for experience. Would you try out another method other than your preferred one? Let me know in the comments below.
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One of the main Dungeons and Dragons spell casting classes is the Warlock, and Warlock is a popular class. It allows you to play an edgy sort of character, because you’ve made a deal with a demon, elder god, or high fey for some reason, probably because your past is messed up. I won’t get into the role playing aspects of the character, but I think what people forget about the Warlock is that their spell casting is going to be different than your normal casters.
Warlocks get by far less spell slots, and they only get spell slots at a single level. If you need a refresher on what spell slots are, you can check out the article I wrote here on casting spells. Whereas every other class gets spell slots of different levels, a Warlock never has more than four. That might seem like not that much, and they never get higher than 5th level, which is what half-casters max out at, but a Warlock plays like a full caster, so how does that work?
Firstly, even though you don’t have that many spell slots or high level spells, the Warlock’s spell slots refresh differently. For the most part, if you play a Wizard, Sorcerer, or other caster, you have you spell slots and you use them throughout a day, then, when you long rest, you get them back. With the Warlock, you get them back after a short rest, so if you’ve used them all and you can take a couple of short rests throughout the day, you could cast, at level 20, 16 fifth level spells.
That jumps us into the next thing, when you cast a spell, you cast it at the highest level available to you. So when you have four spell slots at 20th level, all of them are fifth level slots, you don’t have any first level slots or anything like that. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t cast first level spells, it means what when you do, you cast them at a higher level. Compare this to the Wizard who only, at 20th level, has three fifth level spell slots. Now they also have a ninth and an eighth level slot as well as two of sixth and seventh level, but compare that, again to the count of spells that a Warlock can cast with a couple of rests, the Warlock can cast 16 fifth level spells, and the Wizard can do nine at fifth level or higher. So you get a unique casting trade off that way.
Along with this, you still get cantrips, including a very important one, which is Eldritch Blast. The thing with Eldritch Blast is that it scales nicely, but beyond that, as a Warlock, you get invocations which can make it much better. While an Eldritch Blast does 1D10 on a hit, which isn’t bad, you can take an invocation that will make it add in your charisma modifier as damage, and when you start to be able to shoot several blasts in a single round at long range, a Warlock can take down enemies quite quickly. In fact, the spell slots that you do have, you won’t always be using them a ton in combat, because with fully maxed Charisma, which is the Warlock’s casting stat, at a higher level, you’ll have a +9 to +11 to hit, be shooting three or four bolts and dealing 1D10 + 5 (again your charisma modifier) to an enemy. And that’s at a good range of 120 feet, plus you can possibly even increase that if you so desire or push them. So while all classes do rely some on cantrips once they have run out of spell slots, a Warlock can really focus in on a cantrip only.
Now, I’ve said that I think that Warlock can be a harder spell casting class to play. The primary reason for that is because how spell slots level up to a certain level, even though you’re casting a lower level spell, I think that can confuse some people. I also think that everything that a single Eldritch Blast can do also can cause issues. Once you get down what an Eldritch Blast can do and understand that you won’t be casting many other spells, the Warlock is quite easy to play. You simply launch a volley of Eldritch Blasts over and over again until the enemy is close enough for someone else to start hitting them as well. So, is the Warlock actually a hard spell casting class to play, not really, but I think people already have an idea of how casting works, from video games and other places, so the Warlock feels different in how it handles them.
That’s a brief primer on how the spell casting for a Warlock works. They are, as I think I called them before, a little bit more than a half-caster for me, but they also aren’t a full caster because they don’t get access to ninth level spells. And I can see how they’d be a lot of fun to play in a game as a caster with your ability to blast away with an Eldritch Blast and the role play possibilities for them.
Have you played a Warlock before? Was it hard to wrap your head around mainly casting Eldritch Blast?
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Almost forgot to share this, it was a rush, but I go through nine different level 1 characters for Dungeons and Dragons. I was hoping that I could knock them out fast, but it took a little bit, but I got them done. And I demonstrated how you can use D&D Beyond to create your characters as well.
These will be a characters that I’m going to be using in a one shot. So I created a good variety of characters. I had a question asked that I missed last night, but basically, I didn’t go with two personality traits because I wanted to keep the characters more generic for a one shot.
The beer last night was from Indeed Brewery. Mexican Honey Light Lager. It’s a good beer and a nice light one. Not the best winter beer, but I wasn’t feeling a big and heavy beer last night.