Posted on December 3, 2018
Level 0 Characters
Level 0 characters are generally NPCs. They have no levels of any character class (hence they are level 0 as opposed to level 1), and represent ordinary, non-adventuring people in the game world. Sometimes, it can be fun for players to (generally briefly) play level 0 characters at a start of a campaign so that they can define some of the character’s “backstory” in play. Some simple rules for doing this are presented here for Basic variants of the world’s most popular roleplaying game and its simulacra.
Level 0 Character Creation
- Roll ability scores (as usual)
- Choose character race (human, dwarf, elf, halfling). Do not pick a character class.
- Roll hit points (using racial hit die instead of class hit die).
- Choose alignment (as usual)
- Choose languages (as usual)
- Rolling starting money and buy equipment (as usual)
- Complete biographical details (as usual)
All level 0 characters must roll 20 To Hit Armour Class 0. Note the hit die and saving throws for your chosen race from the table below:
Humans can go on to be clerics, fighters, magic-users, or thieves when they reach level 1.
Dwarves require at least Constitution 9. They have the usual special abilities at level 0:
- Detect Traps & Construction Tricks on 2 in 6.
- Infravision up to 60 feet
Elves require at least Intelligence 9. They cannot cast spells at level 0, but have the other usual special abilities:
- Detect Secret Doors on 2 in 6.
- Immunity to Ghoul Paralysis
- Infravision up to 60 feet
Halflings require at least Dexterity and Constitution 9. They get no bonuses to missile attacks or initiative, but have the other usual special abilities:
- Halflings get a bonus to AC (-2) when fighting creatures greater than human-size because of their size.
- Hide in bushes when outdoors (90% chance)
- Hide in shadows in dungeons (2 in 6 chance)
Reaching Level 1
Since level 1 characters start with 0 XP, it follows that level 0 characters do not gain experience points in the conventional sense. Instead, a level 0 character has to pass a narrative milestone determined by the referee which represents the character’s transition from “normal life” to a career as an adventurer. Possibly, the character must complete some sort of apprenticeship period in order to “level up” to level 1. To become a cleric, they may have to serve for a period in the temple as an acolyte, for example.
What do you do with the 0 level 1D4 HP when PCs obtain 1st level?
I’m glad you asked, because I just addressed that in my next post! Check it out!
In DCC you just get to keep those HP. That would be my assumption.
I’m trying to preserve the “assumed balance” for Basic D&D so that players aren’t disadvantaged if they want to skip level 0 and just roll a level 1 character as usual. But if everyone in the campaign was starting at level 0, I would probably do the same as DCC.