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What do levels mean?

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Darker_Dreams
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What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

A number of things got me to considering what the levels mean, and how that could be concisely expressed in language other than simple numbers. This is, in part, to give people an idea where in society someone fits based simply on their level and, in part, to counteract the natural tendency of some to drive all units to have equal advancements or for all units to have higher overall level advancement.

Note, this is a first draft and generally a concept document.

0; Commoner/Minion – In human societies, and the most comparable non-human societies, these are the majority of individuals. The men, women, children, and constructs who have little or no place on the battlefield- but can be pushed forward in startlingly large numbers compared to “real” combatants. Some non-human societies, such as the Wose or Drakes, are naturally gifted such that no competent adult would be considered this weak. On the flip side, an individual who cannot advance past this level reflects a fundamental lack of personal capability for combat. With some individual desire most individuals can be trained in some activity that effects combat whether or not equipment is available. Similarly, lack of will can be overcome simply with better equipment or enchantment.

1; Combatant – Among humanoids, these individuals have the training to effectively take part in combat. Whether their source of training is actually combat related or their skill-set simply translates effectively, they have a recognizable place on a battlefield. It is uncommon for advancement to cap at this level. Generally a unit can make further advancement through better equipment or training, and being limited at this point suggests they lack the capacity for one of those. The most common examples include forces who lack free will or motivation and have been improved through equipment and magic as much as their master's can (or will) provide. Other examples are groups with severe physical limitations that have already been overcome as much as possible through technology and training.

2; Hero – This individual may be a leader among their fellows or an elite unit who is a keystone to their force's lines. Allies will look to this individual as an example, and often the units they work with will tell stories of their exploits in past engagements to build esprit de corp. Units that cap at this level frequently reached the limit of their people's technology or training in the related area at first level and simply carried on to a higher ability through raw guts, determination, and desire.

3; Legend – A champion among their people, even the most uneventful passage of this individual will spark stories that become cultural touchstones in the area and the meat of a bard's songs. As rare as these individuals are, this is the level at which most paths for an individual's growth cap out. A unit at this level generally represents the full potential of training and equipment available to a society combined with the raw desire and will to overcome that truly makes legendary figures.

4; Epic – Rare individuals who have been trained and equipped to the utmost of their own people's abilities, and possibly supplemented by other races, they have combined the drive and will of legends with the even rarer gifts of talent and insight. Epic figures change the areas through which they pass with their mere presence. Rumors spread like wildfire of their coming and precariously balanced forces shake and topple among the whispers of titanic shifts in the world as they pass. These individuals generally become less active as their interests shift away from the movements of armies and society and towards more personal pursuits. Generally it takes a threat to life as they know it to rouse these individuals to action.

5+; Mythic – Virtually unknown among the civilized races, mythic figures are individuals who stand out and generally represent unique confluences of ability and events to meet (or create) the greatest of challenges.


A word on quests;
Some situations can push an individual's reputation and impact on those around them to a higher level than their own personal abilities might otherwise reach. Individuals with a special birthrights, such as heirs to a throne, might have the place in society and history greater than their abilities would justify. For example, kings princes are often thought of in the same scale as heroes, though they may have lived in times of peace and never seen more combat than their training. A similar individual who is pushed to develop legendary skills and abilities in the pursuit of holding or reclaiming their birthright may well be the subject of an epic tale. Often these individuals will have the Leadership ability, inspiring those around them with their personal charisma and the passion of their cause, however it is the scope of their quest that carries their tale beyond the aura of their personal capabilities.

Some comments relating races to the descriptions above;
Humans, Nagas, Merfolk, Elves, Dwarves, and Drakes; These are the human and human-like societies referenced above.

Orcs; As a general rule the thing that truly caps orcs potential is their lack of technology. As warriors the results of their constant training, and strife, is undeniable- limited only in the arts of stealth.

Trolls and Wose; It should be immediately evident by the fact that a troll whelp is first level that they have substantially more capacity for war than most Wesnothian races. Only their natural passivity and dim wits caps their growth at what would be, for them, merely Heroic individuals. Wose are much like Trolls in that their natural capacity for war is limited by their passive nature. It's worth some consideration that in both cases at least some of their increase in power comes simply from growth over time. The entire Wose line is built on this, while the Trolls overtly do this in the shift from Whelps, and possibly at higher levels.

Goblins and Saurians; The inverse of the Trolls and Wose, these “weak races” have the traditions and technology to present some threat, but they lack the stature and power to be physically terrifying and haven't fully embraced the technologies that would bring them into their own as contenders.

Undead and Monsters; These desperate collections of races have to be taken as individual lines, some obviously stronger and some weaker. The capacity for undead are based on their origin, and fit the scheme above as individual lines with modifications for the enchantments and natural abilities they have. Monsters' levels generally reflect the natural capacity of the creature.
Last edited by Darker_Dreams on April 6th, 2010, 2:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by A-Red »

I think it's worth noting that Trolls and Woses have another thing in common in terms of leveling, which sets them apart from other races--they level by growing/aging, rather than by training.

Another thing you may want to consider: you've made leveling a matter not only of skill but also of worldly power, and there are a few unit lines--Elf High Lord, Orc Sovereign, Great Troll, Konrad, etc--that I would say are shifted up a level in terms of their ability to influence the world around them. That is, a L2 Orc Ruler has the same world-shaping potential as a L3 Orc Warlord, and a L3 Orc Sovereign is more equivalent to a L4 unit--even though in terms of raw combat power, they're lower level.

I find this an interesting read and a useful way of thinking about things when creating units lines, etc. Your point about the goblins is particularly interesting--they're incapable of advancing beyond L2, at least in general, because of their lot in life (the only exception is the Direwolf Rider, and you could say in that case it's actually the mount that has reached L3, not the rider).
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

A-Red wrote:I think it's worth noting that Trolls and Woses have another thing in common in terms of leveling, which sets them apart from other races--they level by growing/aging, rather than by training.
I tried to allude to that a little without getting too far into it, I might go back and touch on it a little more. Though, I do have to point out that while that's the sole basis of the Wose line, aside from the Whelp the troll -> warrior or hero -> great troll don't follow that.

A-Red wrote:Another thing you may want to consider: you've made leveling a matter not only of skill but also of worldly power, and there are a few unit lines--Elf High Lord, Orc Sovereign, Great Troll, Konrad, etc--that I would say are shifted up a level in terms of their ability to influence the world around them. That is, a L2 Orc Ruler has the same world-shaping potential as a L3 Orc Warlord, and a L3 Orc Sovereign is more equivalent to a L4 unit--even though in terms of raw combat power, they're lower level.
The two tend to be found together- especially in a fantasy-world medieval-type society where chaos constantly claws at the edges of civilization and a strong arm is necessary to preserve the established order. That said, you're probably right about some level shifting happening- the Leadership ability in particular might be worth spending some time on. On the other hand Konrad and other unique campaign characters often have advancements that take them to at least lvl 3, making them legendary individuals- which is entirely appropriate to their status.
One of the most interesting examples either way is the Elvish Lady- who is, by wesnoth stats, completely inappropriate to her given level... but entirely appropriate by description.
A-Red wrote:I find this an interesting read and a useful way of thinking about things when creating units lines, etc. Your point about the goblins is particularly interesting--they're incapable of advancing beyond L2, at least in general, because of their lot in life (the only exception is the Direwolf Rider, and you could say in that case it's actually the mount that has reached L3, not the rider).
I'm glad you found it interesting and useful, that was my central goal.
I would disagree slightly about your takeaway on the goblin point. As you say, for *most* cases L2 is the limit because of their lot in life. However, as the Direwolf example you give shows, unusual means could give additional advancement. Another place a goblin abilities *could* shine, with the proper chance to develop the skills and training, is stealth. For example; I'd rather face an orcish assassin than a goblin assassin.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by A-Red »

Darker_Dreams wrote:I tried to allude to that a little without getting too far into it, I might go back and touch on it a little more. Though, I do have to point out that while that's the sole basis of the Wose line, aside from the Whelp the troll -> warrior or hero -> great troll don't follow that.
Maybe, but you could see it either way. Is a troll warrior more skilled than a troll, or is it just larger and strong enough to wield a bigger hammer?
Darker_Dreams wrote:The two tend to be found together- especially in a fantasy-world medieval-type society where chaos constantly claws at the edges of civilization and a strong arm is necessary to preserve the established order. That said, you're probably right about some level shifting happening- the Leadership ability in particular might be worth spending some time on. On the other hand Konrad and other unique campaign characters often have advancements that take them to at least lvl 3, making them legendary individuals- which is entirely appropriate to their status.
Maybe, but Konrad or Kapou'e have a lot more influence and get a lot more stories told about them around campfires than your generic Elf Sharpshooter or Royal Guard. It's not generally about a strong arm either--usually it's more about the ability to lead a strong army, whether by charisma or birthright or some other means--a strong arm is one of those means, but the two don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Darker_Dreams wrote:One of the most interesting examples either way is the Elvish Lady- who is, by wesnoth stats, completely inappropriate to her given level... but entirely appropriate by description.
Technically, we have no idea what the elf lady's abilities actually are--the only one in mainline appears in a cutscene, so naturally they didn't feel the need to give her combat stats.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

Added some to the original post (wose/troll discussion, section on quests)
A-Red wrote:Maybe, but you could see it either way. Is a troll warrior more skilled than a troll, or is it just larger and strong enough to wield a bigger hammer?
It's an interesting though. I do have to say that it's less overt than with the wose though.
A-Red wrote:Maybe, but Konrad or Kapou'e have a lot more influence and get a lot more stories told about them around campfires than your generic Elf Sharpshooter or Royal Guard.

Point taken.
Though at level 3 there really shouldn't be a "generic" anything. These are unique individuals with their own stories and lore- they just get subsumed by the larger, epic, tales of konrad and his ilk. I feel my additions to the original post reflect this now.
A-Red wrote:It's not generally about a strong arm either--usually it's more about the ability to lead a strong army, whether by charisma or birthright or some other means--a strong arm is one of those means, but the two don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Marshall's definition of leadership:
That quote struck me as pertinent, it's something that a lot of officers in the (modern, US) army are required to memorize. The point is that there are no "other means." When it comes to leading an army you have the legitimate power- perhaps it's vested in you by the ruler or because you *are* the ruler. You can be personally liked. However, no one's going to follow someone into danger who can't at least keep up. They may want you to be king, they may recognize you have the lineage that you should be king, but when it comes time to fight they're going to be looking for someone who isn't a liability.
A-Red wrote:Technically, we have no idea what the elf lady's abilities actually are--the only one in mainline appears in a cutscene, so naturally they didn't feel the need to give her combat stats.
I'm just saying that I find it interesting they found it worthwhile to put in a unit without so much as a single attack or ability but marked as level 3.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by A-Red »

I think we're agreeing on pretty much everything at this point. All I was trying to say is that the literal strength of the arm isn't directly proportional to power wielded, because there are so many other intertwined factors. I like the additions--well put.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

pretty much. Thanks for the feedback. Anything else?
Anyone see anything they like/don't like/have thoughts on? Subject, proofing, ideas if this could be used anywhere?
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Re: What do levels mean?

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The definition of an level 5 as an mythical person of incredible famous and extraordinary great power and/or reputation can dissolve the problem that an Elder Mage is rather an level 4 then a level 5, as he is only superior to an Great Mage if looking at MP or level, otherwise he is inferior(his cost,although it is of course trivial as I do not know where you ar able to recruit an Elder Mage, is lower!),but their influence and fame is far bigger.
But does your interpretation of levels explain the growing of experience gained by fighting with the level of the oppunent, and what does the full healing when leveling or AMLA mean?
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by sur.nhm »

Drakefriend wrote:The definition of an level 5 as an mythical person of incredible famous and extraordinary great power and/or reputation can dissolve the problem that an Elder Mage is rather an level 4 then a level 5, as he is only superior to an Great Mage if looking at MP or level, otherwise he is inferior(his cost,although it is of course trivial as I do not know where you are able to recruit an Elder Mage, is lower!),but their influence and fame is far bigger.
He is indeed inferior - his attacks are weaker, too.
Drakefriend wrote: But does your interpretation of levels explain the growing of experience gained by fighting with the level of the opponent, and what does the full healing when leveling or AMLA mean?
Darker_Dreams' interpretation doesn't, but I guess it is simply a matter of gaining more experience when fighting someone who's more skilled/powerful (imagine the difference between fencing with a beginner and fencing with a master: you learn a lot more by fighting the master). AMLA healing, I guess, is either A) a game mechanic or B) someone heals them.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Drakefriend »

sur.nhm wrote:
Drakefriend wrote:The definition of an level 5 as an mythical person of incredible famous and extraordinary great power and/or reputation can dissolve the problem that an Elder Mage is rather an level 4 then a level 5, as he is only superior to an Great Mage if looking at MP or level, otherwise he is inferior(his cost,although it is of course trivial as I do not know where you are able to recruit an Elder Mage, is lower!),but their influence and fame is far bigger.
He is indeed inferior - his attacks are weaker, too.
:eng: This is exactly what I meant:He only has an higher level and is faster, but otherwise weaker. :!:
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

Drakefriend wrote:The definition of an level 5 as an mythical person of incredible famous and extraordinary great power and/or reputation can dissolve the problem that an Elder Mage is rather an level 4 then a level 5, as he is only superior to an Great Mage if looking at MP or level, otherwise he is inferior(his cost,although it is of course trivial as I do not know where you ar able to recruit an Elder Mage, is lower!),but their influence and fame is far bigger.
AFAIK, the elder mage is a special unit that is only used in one campaign to represent a Dalfador who is past his prime and his power is waining. I saw it stated once that his level is a reflection of the power he once held, and I'm really not sure how to deal with that unit but as an intentional exception in terms of power who also proves the case for the social aspect of level.
Drakefriend wrote:But does your interpretation of levels explain the growing of experience gained by fighting with the level of the oppunent, and what does the full healing when leveling or AMLA mean?
This covers neither, and I'm not entirely sure those items are within the scope of this discussion. As sur.nhm said, you learn more when you face greater challenges- but beyond that, any time you have a special "breakthrough" point of gaining a new level you start to shift away from things that are easily demonstrated and explained. It's a problem people have had with D&D for years. I'll see if I can find a good non-mechanical explanation for the method of gaining experience, leveling up, full healing, and AMLA- but even if I do, I'm not sure I can fit it here without it being obviously shoehorned.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Icarusvogel »

The point with Delfador is that he was once one of the greatest mages that ever lived in Wesnoth - though his powers are dwindling, people will still remember him from the time when his powers were at their peak. So the term "Mythic" is perfectly justified.
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Re: What do levels mean?

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For 0 and 1, I agree completely. Level 2 is where I start to see things differently. If you look at examples of level 2 units, they're not exactly that heroic to me. For the Loyalists, for example, their level 2 units are swordsmen, pikemen, knights, etc. These are troops who stand out above the regular guys, but not on a heroic level. They seem more like officers and experienced soldiers who've been around for a little while.

To me, it seems more like:

0 : Commoner/minion - Pretty much what you said, these are the common folk who have been hastily thrown into the fray with little to no training or equipment.

1 : Combatant - Once again, pretty much what you said. These are the guys who have the training/experience/skill to call themselves soldiers.

2 : Officer/veteran - These soldiers have been around long enough to know their way around the battlefield and they have enough combat experience or training to stand out among their peers.

3: Heroic - Level 3 units are generally at the peak of what most people can achieve. They've got a ton of experience and have probably acquired the best equipment available. These are the role models to lesser units, who want to be just them some day. Most troops can reach this level if they work really hard, eat their vegetables, and get a lot of exercise and combat experience, but they won't get much further. They still might refine their skills and abilities a little bit, but not enough to justify advancement to level 4... hence AMLA.

4: Legend - Level 4 is beyond what an ordinary person can achieve. This is a level that you have to not only work your butt off to get, but you also have to be naturally a cut above the rest. Maybe your privileged birth gave you access to the best training and equipment, maybe you've been training to fight since you were a kid, or maybe you're just naturally talented. No matter how much you practice, you'll probably never ever be able to play the guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan, swim like Michael Phelps, or box like Muhammad Ali. They just have more potential than regular people, and they've realized it with the dedication and determination that pushes the envelope of human achievement in their respective fields.

5+ : Mythic - I agree with you on this one. These individuals are unique, rather than being a member of some other classification. They are monsters and legends that can only be spoken of as themselves, and their names live on for centuries after their deaths. You don't say "King Arthur the knight" or "Grendel the troll". They're simply King Arthur and Grendel. You can't describe them as something else, because they are so different and so far above the rest that they can't be rightly classified with mere mortals.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Icarusvogel »

I think a lvl 3 unit should rather be referred to as an "Elite" as a "Hero". I think a hero is someone who stands out beacuse he or she achieved great things despite any obstacles, weaknesses etc. in his or her path. However, an elite soldier is someone who stands out because of skill in combat, leadership or the like. They have spent their lives as a soldier to their leaders, e.g. in service of Weldyn, but are nothing very rare - for instance, the whole bodyguard of the crown consists of lvl 3 units. In addition, I think a hero in the world of Wesnoth is someone who will be remembered for generations after he or she has died. Kalenz was a hero. Li'sar was a hero, the Son of the Black Eye was a hero in the orc's eyes. You could, of course, say they were all, technically seen, lvl 3 units, but they are really just exceptions - the majority of lvl 3 units are "just" soldiers, scholars, healers or whatever who have aquired great skill in their profession.
I think there is no real term that would fit this level best. For instance, an elvish lady (Yes, the one with the 1-1 attack) can probably not be described as an Elite, and it also seems hard to me to think of an Elvish Shyde as one. A list of terms appropriate to each level should consist of more than one term per level and should not just be confined to one description.
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Re: What do levels mean?

Post by Darker_Dreams »

I have to confess that when I wrote this and used the term "heroic" I'd just spent time going through the 4e D&D, and my choice of word was influenced by that game's usage.

On the other hand, I rejected anything of the "Veteran/Officer" vein because it binds so closely to human-type structures and doesn't map at all to the Wose, Trolls, and the like. "Elite" is slightly better, but I dislike it because the usage I've become accustomed to (from many games both TT/P&P and computer based) is that it's kind of like "more." You have Warriors and Elite Warriors, Rangers and Elite Rangers. Conceptually, this doesn't really map to Wesnoth- an elite unit is generally the next higher level unit. I suppose the closest concept map is a unit that terminates a line earlier than other lines which is generally supposed to be about .5 levels more powerful than a unit that could advance.
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