Levels vs Points

Yep another long gap between posts. *Shrugs*

So today’s topic is not a review, but I have one in mind. Before I post that though I want to talk about something in table top RPG’s that is a dividing line for a lot of players. Does a character increase in skills, power, and abilities via levels, or by points that the player assigns.

Big samples in regards to table top RPG’s for both – D&D, Pathfinder, and every Palladium Books game is level based. You earn experience points and then when you reach a predetermined point you get to increase your characters ‘level’ and you now have a number of new predetermined benefits that your character can enjoy. Hero System, GURPS, and nearly everything by White Wolf is point based. You earn experience points and you spend them directly on increasing what you want for your character to increase their benefits and special abilities.

Now then I know there are going to be a couple of readers who want to jump in and talk about rolling for stats and trying to add that into the mix but that is for another conversation. This is about after initial character generation.

Personally I see a lot of benefits to both systems of advancement. I prefer point based because I can manipulate the system more to my liking that way and truly and totally customize my characters how I see fit. However when you play a level system, as long as you can trust that the publisher has done their due diligence then you will know that if you are talking about a group of characters that are all at fifth level, everything should be equitable. If you play with a point based system then you end up with people who will buy just what they see at face value and their character will not have the same potential as someone who can game the system to get every little bit out of it.

I hear now some questions like, “So does that mean you see level based games as the starting point for gamers and the point based systems are what the really skilled people go to?” And, “What do you mean a level based game you cant game the system to get what you really want and put other people under the bus?” No… no I am not saying either of those things, you know why? Take a look at how I worded things in that last paragraph.

Lets start with, “…as long as you can trust that the publisher has done their due diligence…” and then think back to a post I made earlier about Power Creep. Frequently you will find that with new publications any level advancement will either have cheaper costs or the benefits you get for leveling up your character are increased over the original publication. So yeah, someone playing with the newest books, gets the best toys and their brand spanking new level five kicks butt over the old school books level five (Palladium I am glaring at you, and Piazo, you know you are doing it too with Pathfinder).

And then lets get back to point based with, “If you play with a point based system then you end up with people who will…” That’s right folks it all depends on the PLAYERS and what the person running the game allows. Since everyone is different, and everyone who runs games is different, then you cannot just say that point based is for the experienced or that it will give you more or less control than a level based system. Power creep exists here as well, but it can be harder to find unless you enjoy doing the math or it gets way out of control (Hey! White Wolf! Remember adding Planck Scaling and freaking Universe Creation powers to Aberrant in the Players Guide… REALLY GUYS WTF!!!!)

So yeah, really this is yet another instance in games of something coming down to… What do you want to play? I quite seriously suggest that you take your time and play a few games. Not just one, and not just one type of game engine. The more things you try the better grip you will have on what you enjoy playing. I know people who have only ever played D&D 3.0 and they refuse to play anything else. And that is their choice. In my mind though never having tried anything else, means you may never know if there is something out there that you would like more.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta put together a character for the next review, and its gonna be a doosie.

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  1. #1 by dantherpgman on August 10, 2015 - 9:19 am

    I too like both approaches. The two tabletop RPGs I’ve played the most, D&D and Champions, use both systems and they both have their merits. It is nice to be able to fully customize via points, but it doesn’t exactly speed up the character creation or leveling process. I guess I like a level-based approach where you have some customization options each level (like feats from 3.0/Pathfinder). That way you have some choice but not so much it’s overwhelming.

    Like

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