Delver Progression

In today’s update I’m taking a quick look at how character’s and their adventures change as character’s level up.

Basic Edition Boxed Sets

Basic D&D was originally released in 5 boxed sets, each covering a different range of levels.

  • Basic covered the first 3 levels with an emphasis on learning how to survive the dungeon.
  • Expert took things up to level 14 and had more focus on exploring the world and establishing connections.
  • Companion extended levels up to 25th and stressed the choice between continued travels or building up a dominion.
  • Master took things to the cap of level 36 and hinted at the paths to immortality.
  • Immortal essential reset the level system entirely by turning the characters into low-level immortals.

The free retro-clone “Dark Dungeons” points out this progression fairly well in Chapter 2. In fact, the following section headings seem to sum it up nicely:

  • “Rags to Riches” is an apt description of the Basic Set.
  • “Expanding Horizons” matches nicely with the more travel oriented Expert Set.
  • “Power & Responsibility” ties in nicely with the political ties that start coming in around name level and the Companion Set.
  • “A Whole New Playground” touches on the high-powered rise to legends feel of the Master Set.
  • “A New Beginning” nicely sums up the Immortal Set which has a whole new set of rules and assumptions.

4E Tiers

4th edition seems to cover the first 4 stages nicely by splitting Expert between Heroic and Paragon Tiers. The Immortal stage is left out, but that’s not that surprising as it’s been essentially an entire new rules set of its own.


There seem to be a few key points in character growth over levels in D&D. These include:

  • Starting Out: The character has nothing but the most basic of equipment, the clothes on their back, and a little pocket change and has to work from there.
  • Established: The character has made a name for themselves and can start ranging further afield.
  • Name Level: The character have gotten well-known enough to start making some major contacts and may do things like starting their own holdings or joining a powerful organization. Either way, they become closely tied to a piece of the game world.
  • World Spanning: By this point the character’s reach extends over a significant portion of the game world, and possibly into other planes.
  • Ascent into Legend: At this stage the characters are performing world shaking tasks and are probably gearing up to leave a lasting legacy.
  • Beyond Legend: This stage generally takes the character out of the previous game world and moves them onto a whole new playing field.

Overall, this does lend itself nicely to the 3 tiered progression of 4E with a few key points.

  • Name Level, Ascent into Legend, and Beyond Legend are threshold points as they both focus on new paths for the character to take.
  • In contrast, Established and World Spanning are softer points where the character more grows into them rather than making a big decision on character direction.
  • The 4E model is a bit weaker with using Name Level to tie the character to the game world than 2E and earlier editions had been.

So that’s it for this review. Next time I’ll start laying out how we might go about rebuilding one of the classic classes.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: