Sunday, July 10, 2011

Side Note: Level Titles

Why is a 1st level fighter called a Veteran, when a 1st level thief is only an Apprentice, and a 1st level cleric is just an Acolyte?

Consider it in terms of my most recent post on henchmen (er...retainers). A normal human that earns any XP from an adventure must choose a character class in which to make a career.

So how is XP awarded? By surviving an adventure (defined in Moldvay's Basic set as a single session of play).

A normal man that survives an evening's delve is a blooded veteran, no doubt about it...if all he wants to do is continue swinging a sword and working on his combat prowess, that's a fine and apt description. For those individuals who decide to pursue other career routes, they have only just begun their path of higher learning.

Besides, even a fighter must achieve 2nd level before he is considered a full-on warrior, and 3rd level before he is a proficient swordsman...and of course "hero" isn't awarded until 4th level.

That's why.


  1. I think you're playing Twister to justify the arbitrary nature of d&d design. But hey, it's entertaining. ;)

  2. @ Imago: That's possible. However, regarding some aspects of the game (including Charisma and how it pertains to retainers) I can't help but believe these were actual design considerations included as answers to certain quandaries of Chainmail.

  3. JB

    I prefer and use your old fighter level titles: (remember back to 2009)

    Man-of-Arms = pretty perfect for Level 1 in my opinion.

  4. I kinda think the designers were playing Twister as well--ramming things together, square pegs, round holes, etc, so sometimes we're just looking at entrails, no divination possible. But intersting to discuss, nonetheless.

    The retainer situation is interesting. Your point about Moldvay's distinction (or lack) between low lvl PCs and new players is one of the sharpest observations I've seen. That distinction, due to the poor wording in the manual, probably confuses the hell out of many GMs.

  5. Priest: agreed on man at arms. I call the fighter class Man of War in my campaign.

  6. @ Jovial: Oh, I still like my own level titles very much, thank you. However, I'm just saying that one way to MAKE SENSE of the "veteran" title is in the context of the normal human retainer becoming an adventuring class.

    @ Imago: Actually, I believe it was my "poor reading of the manual" rather than the poor wording. As I said, Moldvay is VERY clear to distinguish between player and character; however, *I* first read the Basic set at the tender age of 8 and certainly missed some things. Over the years, my rereading of the book has generally been in other areas than the retainer rules, and I have often "skimmed" this section in lazy fashion rather than paying close attention.

    I'm seeking to rectify that now.
    ; )

  7. JB
    You may enjoy, or find helpful, my popular retrospective on the various terms used in older editions regarding henchmen, retainers etc.
    Post entitled: Hitler's Henchmen, Batman's Robin and Arthur's seating plan and can be found here:

  8. JB: Nope, Moldvay has take a little heat in this matter. In one breath he says new "players" shouldn't be allowed to hire retainers, in the next he talks about "characters" using hirelings. So he is conflating players and characters. Obviously players don't hire anybody--characters do. That conflation, while ultimately parsable, serves to create confusion. It is no wonder that someone, 8 or 38, might read it as an indication retainers should be reserved for higher level play. And in any event, it's very sloppy for a finished product. No offense to the gentleman. I like his rule set quit a lot.