Class Limits: Where the Levels End

While racial level limits is something of an icky subject -- I mean, what a fun way to talk about eugenics -- I advocate putting caps on the classes across the board. Most iterations of D&D feature an upper-limit on experience, be it 20 levels or whatever. I just want to mess around with 'em a bit.

Just how awesome does a Fighter need to get before she's reached the limits of her capabilities and begins the physical decline into middle age? How much can she learn before she's the gal that people want to learn from?

Not all classes should share the same, generic level cap. Certain professions are more involved than others. The amount of wizardry a Wizard can learn, for example, is far beyond the upper limits of crass thievery a Thief can master. This has always been true, if you really think about it. A twelfth level Thief is just no match for his Wizard counterpart, and that's across all editions of D&D (except maybe 4th). There's a built-in inequality to the classes. While some may view this as a detriment to older versions of D&D, I find this variety in scope and abilities to be part of their appeal. Like real life, it doesn't need to be fair to be fun.

But I digress. The fundamental criterion I'm suggesting for the experience-span of a class, summed up, would be "In terms of accumulated knowledge, how far does it go?"

Here's what I've come up with for the classes of the Hidden Planet setting:
Fighter ~  12 levels
Thief ~ 12 levels
Wizard ~ No limit*
Mountebank ~ 6 levels
Beggar ~ 6 levels
Fungalist ~ 12 levels
Players have the option to switch tracks and multi-class every time they gain a new experience level. Say, for example, when a Beggar character maxes out at 6 he decides to go Thief. Then after two levels of Thief, he picks up some levels as a Fighter. His current saving throws and to-hit table would be based on the most advantageous values among his three classes.

Another advantage of setting the sights of certain classes lower is that the players of these classes see rewards -- in the form of experience-contingent abilities and features -- faster.

What do you guys think?
*I like the idea that there could be 59th level Wizards doing random/bizarre experiments involving the fabric of time and space.


  1. It certainly makes sense, fighters get too old to fight, but there's nothing stopping a magic-user continuing to learn new magic as he ages. And an old thief with knees to sore to nimbly climb might be better off trying his hand at being a con-artist.

  2. It works for me. I always favor house rules that allow for greater access to multi-classing, cosmic wizardry, and quicker access to cool powers...

  3. The body wears out - even Cohen the Barbarian and his mates needed zimmerframes - but an old wizard? He either comes up with a Spell for Perpetual Youf (side effects: you're forced to wear your hat on backwards and your trousers always hang around your knees) or becomes a Lichlord and discombobulates anyone offering fashion or skin care advice.

  4. How would you calculate XP required for next level? The AD&D multi-classing way (each new class starts counting added XP from scratch), or with a 3E-style unified progression (XXX,000xp is always the threshold for Nth level, whatever your class mix)? Or some other way entirely?

  5. @Chris: AD&D way, def. The XP requirements to be a Nth level Wizard will always be different from those to be a Nth level Fighter, which will in turn be different from yadda yadda yadda. I want the XP price tag to reflect what the character actually gains in terms of abilities and whatnot.

  6. I like it. Let me add something: you're not just talking about capping out, you're talking about going to seed, deteriorating. So maybe the level limit isn't a cap, per se, but the level after which you have to make some sort of aging roll/decrepitude save/what-have-you every time you level up from that point on. Not sure how that would interface with the multi-classing rules, but it would certainly give fighters and thieves incentive to retire to a quiet, more XP-less life after hitting their level limits.

  7. @SirL: Aging may have to be a separate issue I'm thinking. Given that different races age differently and have varying lifespans, class level is a bad way to track what's happening with them physically. So nix what I sad about fighters getting old, I guess. The level caps have to represent the total amount of professional knowledge that can be accumulated. In other words, when the Fighter reaches 12th he's at the top of his game. All that's left is to maintain his competency as a Fighter.