Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Class Level Titles Revisited

One of the things about AD&D that I thought was really neat, and miss in subsequent versions of the game, are the old class level titles.  They added a bit of flavour to your character - you weren't just a 7th level ranger, you were a Pathfinder.

I was looking through my old AD&D player's handbook the other day, looking at all the old titles and thinking about introducing them to Castles and Crusades, and I decided that there were just too many titles for each class - a new one every level until at least 9th level.  This is an objection I recall, too, from my youth.  Having your title change each level seemed to rob them of some of their lustre and having to come up with so many different titles resulted in some that weren't necessarily appropriate for every character - every magic-user suddenly became a necromancer at 10th level, and ceased to be one at 11th?  That's a pretty narrow window of opportunity to be the creepy guy raising an unholy army of the night.

My goal in creating level titles for my campaign was to come up with just enough to recognize a character's rise in power and stature in the campaign and to make them generic enough to apply to any character, but also customized to my specific world.  I tried to avoid titles like Swordsman, or Swashbuckler.  Not every fighter wields a sword nor swashes a buckle.  So far, I've only come up with level titles for clerics, magic-users and fighters, which is fine because these are the only classes currently being played in my campaign.

Level           Title
1                   Veteran
3                   Warrior
5                   Armsman
8                   Weapon Master
11                 Warlord

The fighter was the most difficult class to assign titles to, because a fighter can represent such a broad range of character types.  The titles described here represent the ranks recognized by Callovia's mercenary's guild and fighting men invested in their ranks are entitled to pay rates commensurate with their rank.  The rank of Weapon Master is bestowed only upon the most skilled practitioners of the fighting arts and are feared and respected throughout the land.  The rank of Warlord replaces the traditional title of Lord, since the latter is better reserved to denote social station than fighting skill.  After all, many who hold the title of 'lord' couldn't fight off a drunken kobold.  A fighter may only assume the title of Warlord after having established a stronghold and command of a company of men-at-arms.

Level          Title
1                  Acolyte
3                  Priest
5                  Prefect
7                  Templar
9                  High Priest

The cleric titles were fairly straightforward - I retained many of the traditional titles from the Player's Handbook.  I added Templar to the title list to reflect the cleric's position as a militant defender of the faith as opposed to a cloistered temple clergyman.

Level            Title
1                    Journeyman
5                    Arcanist
7                    Warlock
9                    Sorcerer
11                  Wizard
13                  Initiate of the Inner Circle
15                  Adept of the Inner Circle
17                  Master of the Inner Circle
20                  Archmage

The magic-user titles, which are the only ones to go as high as 20th level, reflect the recent history of Faedun.  After the devastation wrought by the Drachmari shadow-mages during the Unseelie War a century ago, the Aquitanian church knights of Mithras declared that magic was the sole province of the gods and their servants and thus began a purge of mages within the kingdom.  This spread to a Faedun-wide crusade against arcane spell-casters.  Mages were hunted down one by one, and their libraries burned.  The wizard, Azerak gathered together the survivors of the purges and took refuge on an island off the coast of Callovia, there to build an unassailable fortress and haven for arcane study.  Azerak was appointed to the position of Archmage, and ruler of the Isle of Wizardry.  The spark of magic, nearly extinguished in man, is now slowly being rekindled.  Newly-graduated mages are granted the title of Journeyman and assigned the task of gathering lost arcane lore.  A Journeyman can only graduate to the title of Arcanist by making a significant contribution to arcane knowledge whether by researching new avenues of magic or recovering lost knowledge.  Arcanists are the working rank of mages, and slowly ascend the hierarchy as their knowledge and power grows, finally attaining the rank of Wizard.  Only those Wizards whose knowledge extends to the deepest mysteries of magic and who begin to comprehend the true nature of the cosmos are inducted into the Inner Circle.  There can be only one Archmage, who must be a minimum of 20th level.

I've tried to give the titles some significance in the game world and are accompanied by a commensurate level of respect and recognition.  As other classes come into play I'll develop level titles for them as well to reflect their stature within the campaign setting.


Shane Mangus said...

I also enjoyed the calss titles from my 1st edition days. I am not sure why this concept was dropped in subsequent editions of the game. I like your approach to reintroducing them back into the system.

Sean Robson said...

Thanks, Shane. I think assassins and rangers will be up next. I have two prominent assassin guilds in my campaign, the ubiquitous Black Veils of Callovia and the order of half-orc fanatics, the Daga-shai and they have hierarchical structures that will need level titles. Also, the Rangers of Llanvirnesse will need some level titles to denote rank within the organization.

Thieves I'm not so sure of - should there be level titles within the Thieve's Guild beyond thief and guild-master? Many of the titles from the PH reflect specialty rather than rank (i.e. cutpurse, burglar, etc). I'm open to suggestions...