I had some new thoughts on the eternal quandry of when to let level-zero characters level up in
Dungeon Crawl Classics. On the one hand, letting PC's level up in the middle of a funnel may hurt verisimilitude. However, zero-level characters often need some extra mojo to survive the final encounter.
After reading through the rulebook again, I now agree with those who feel that it is odd to let characters level up in the middle of the adventure. Some have complained about this issue in relation to Clerics and Wizards, but I don't find these to classes to be a problem. It seems reasonable to me that a Cleric might suddenly have a spiritual epiphany, like Paul on the road to Damascus. It also seems reasonable that the stress of adventuring might cause a Wizard's mind to crack, allowing them to finally be able to manipulate the arcane forces they have been secretly studying for some time.
It's actually Thieves and Warriors that trouble me most. It seems clear that a bunch of training needs to happen between levels 0 and 1 for these classes. After all, a thief is not going to suddenly learn Thieves' Cant and start picking locks in the middle of an adventure!
As an alternative to allowing players to level up immediately, I propose the following: Upon reaching 10XP, characters do not immediately reach level 1, but they do get to choose their profession, and receive a foretaste of the power they will wield upon reaching level 1. Each class gets a particular reward:
- Cleric. The character chooses a patron, and as a new devotee, the Cleric is automatically entitled to receive a single instance of Divine Aid without a spell check. The cleric also receives the ability to Lay on Hands at this time.
- Thief. The character does not yet gain thief abilities, but is allowed to perform one single Incredible Feat of Thievery, without making any type of Difficulty Check.
- Warrior. The character does not yet gain the ability of a Warrior, but the PC is able to perform a single successful Mighty Deed, without rolling a deed die.
- Wizard. The character has been secretly studying magic, but is not yet fully competent. However, they may roll for their four random spells. Furthermore, due to a sudden insight into the nature of arcane power, they are able to cast one of the four spells a single time, without making a spell check. The Judge gets to choose exactly how the spell manifests.
- Nonhumans. I rarely allow nonhuman PC's in my games, so you'll have to work this out on your own!
P.S. One of the greatest aspects of Dungeon Crawl Classics is the community, and I'm excited to begin contributing to it through this blog. I do plan to regularly feature DCC content, so if you are a Dungeon Crawl Classics fan, stay tuned!