Level titles in Telengard

I love the level titles in AD&D. I know they are often pointed to as one of the stupider ideas (yeah, the Cleric level titles mix up religions and the fighter levels don’t all make a lot of sense and all that). But, I like them because they do give an in-game way for NPCs and PCs to talk about the relative power of different characters (“don’t mess with him, he’s a Necromancer!”) without breaking the “fourth wall” too much. I don’t know if I ever actually used them in-game, though. As a player I’d notice my level title but I don’t recall using them in play. Anyway, I wanted to use level titles in my Telengard game but I’m not thrilled with the B/X titles. They largely copy AD&D titles (and for clerics, fighters, and m-us they don’t make a lot of sense anyway). Also, they are very unsatisfying for demihumans, since the dwarf and halfling just copy the fighter titles and the elf titles combine the fighter and m-u titles. Pu-lease. Demihumans are classes in themselves (according to the interpretation of race-as-class I like) because they are so different from humans, alien.

So for Telengard I thought I’d go with some level titles but confine them to the levels I think are most significant: 1, 4, 8, and 10. 1st level is significant just because it denotes that a character is a classed character and not a normal human or demihuman but a potential hero. 4th level is a “Hero” in Chainmail (and so marks the point where you can operate independently on a battlefield in a mass battle), and also the level where you move from “Basic” to “Expert” rules, and perhaps most importantly the level where you begin to stop facing death in every single fight. You can survive a hit from most low level monsters, and probably won’t die even if a stirge or giant leech latches on to you. 8th level is a “Superhero” in Chainmail (which means you are a baddass and run around a battlefield taking out enemy monsters and heroes), and the name-level for halflings. 10th level is the name level for the other classes and also the level where I’d expect a PC to begin thinking about strongholds, domains, or retirement — the “endgame”. So I am tentatively assigning level titles to levels 1,4,8,and 10. My rough draft would be:

Thief: 1. Apprentice / 4. Journeyman Thief / 8. Master Thief / 10. Guildmaster Thief

(I am using an organized Thieves’ Guild in my setting)

Cleric: 1. Acolyte / 4. Templar / 8. Bishop / 10. Cardinal

(I am using a Church set up like the Roman Catholic church but devoted with Thor = Christ, Odin = The Father, Frigga = Mary, and the rest of the Norse gods as saints. I just realized I hadn’t picked a “Holy Spirit” analog. Maybe Mimir.)

Magic-User: 1. Apprentice / 4. Sorcerer / 8. Mage / 10. Wizard

Fighters will be a little different, as the guilds they join can change their path a little. Skara Brae has a Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic guild. Or a fighter may not join an alignment-specific guild, and belong only to the Adventurer’s Guild. So:

Fighters (belonging to none of the three aligned guilds):
1. Veteran / 4. Champion / 8. Hero / 10. Lord

Alternatively I thought that Bondi / Huscarl / Hero / Thegn would be a little more obviously Nordic, but why confuse people?

Lawful Guild Fighters: 1. Veteran / 4. Paladin / 8. Defender / 10. Paladin Lord

Neutral Guild Fighters: 1. Fireguard / 4. Hellbrand Fireguard / 8. Captain of the Guard / 10. General of the Guard

(The neutral guild is the town guard and fire department basically)

Chaotic Guild Fighters: 1. Reaver / 4. Berserker / 8. Destroyer / 10. Warlord

For all the demihumans, the level 1. title is meant to emphasize that they have left their homeland/kingdom/village to seek their fortunes. Dwarves who are dishonored in some way may become Outcasts, and much like the Dwarves of Warhammer will seek their doom or redemption by slaying the most dangerous foes possible. (In Warhammer, IIRC, the slayers simply seek death in battle. In Telengard, slayers who slay a dragon or the equivalent have made good their names and their honor is restored.)

Dwarves and Elves may reach level 10, and Halflings may only reach level 8. Any character who makes level 8 has become a legendary figure.

Dwarf: 1. Prospector / 4. Longbeard / 8. Elder / 10. Dwarven Lord

Dwarf (Outcast): 1. Slayer / 4. Troll Slayer / 8. Giant Slayer / 10. Dragon Slayer

Halfling: 1. Adventurer/ 4. Hero / 8. Sheriff

Elf: 1. Wanderer / 4. Elf Champion / 8. Elven Chieftain / 10. Elven Lord

Since my Telengard campaign is sort of Nordic (in & around Skara Brae), and sort of Greco-Roman (in & around Delos), I thought it would make sense to create a list of level titles for each culture in the campaign world. Everything so far has taken place in Skara Brae and my players so far have expressed zero interest in developing backgrounds or cultures for their PCs, so by default I’ll assume they are all from Skara Brae or it’s environs and I won’t bother with Delian titles for now, I’ll just go with the Nordic ones.

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Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Limiting the number of titles seems like a wise move to me.

  2. I’ve always had a real problem with Verteran for a first level fighter. Other than that they look good. I’ve invented a bunch for my Red Box game, if interested.

    • I’ll check it out.
      To me, “Veteran” works because a normal soldier is a 0-level man-at-arms/normal man. With some experience, they might become “classed” Fighters.

  3. I like the idea in principle–“don’t mess with him, he’s a necromancer”–but i feel like it only works if all the players memorize the system for all of the classes, which may be why it never really stuck in the first place, though your titles seems fairly descriptive–you might have better luck.

    • Yeah, that could be the achilles heel. I hope keeping the list short helps though.
      The Warhammer battle game has “Champions,” “Minor Heroes,” and “Major Heroes,” and one version of my titles tried to riff on that but I kept ending up with “Elf Champion”, “Dwarf Champion” etc. which is lame and it still didn’t help with thieves and m-us.


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