GoingAllNostalgicForLevelNames: Bring back level names!

Back in the good old days of Red Book Classic D&D when men were men and a low Armour Class was a good thing, each level of each class had a name. These names were badges of honour, more valuable than wealth itself. I remember playing a Fighter way back when, and hooting out loud at finally being able to call my character Rufus the Hero! He was no longer Rufus the Swashbuckler, but Rufus the Hero!!! How cool was that? He’d walk into bars and proclaim “I’m Rufus the Hero! You might have heard of me!”.

In 3.5 Edition D&D, he’s just Rufus the 4th level Fighter. That’s not cool at all. Bring back level names, I say!

Here’s the list of level names from 1st to 9th (“Name”) level. That way the point at which you’d made it in the world, were granted Lordship, recognised truly as a Wizard, or whatever.

Lvl Fighter Magic-User Cleric Thief
1 Veteran Medium Acolyte Apprentice
2 Warrior Seer Adept Footpad
3 Swordmaster Conjurer Priest Robber
4 Hero Magician Vicar Burglar
5 Swashbuckler Enchanter Curate Cutpurse
6 Myrmidon Warlock Elder Sharper
7 Champion Sorcerer Bishop Pilferer
8 Superhero Necromancer Lama Thief
9 Lord Wizard Patriarch Master Thief

At 9th level The Game Changed and with it came Strongholds, Guilds, Towers and Churchs, and all the political machinations, intrigue, plotting that went with it. 3.5E D&D lacks all of that, and it much poorer for it. The current edition of D&D is recognised as playing at it’s best from 4th-8th (-ish) level. Classic D&D did something about it by adding a whole new dynamic to the game beyond that point, and it was wonderful. The game ran, and ran, and ran, all the way to 36th level and (far) beyond.

Anyhow. Level names.

Sure, some of the Names were hinky. What’s Lama doing in the Cleric list while the rest of the titles are Judeo-Christian? Why are 1st level Fighters called Veterans or (heaven forbid) Superheroes at 8th? We changed those incongruities immediately, as I suspect did many other groups.

What’s so cool is that the level names implied a social order onto the game. At 1st level the characters are Acolytes, Apprentices or raw Mediums (The Veteran title stands out as odd here – we replaced it with Recruit, as I recall). By 4th level the characters had established themselves and had some measure of responsibility. Fighters were Heroes, Magic-Users could use the title Magician and Clerics became Vicars, perhaps responsible for a small flock in a remote parish. 3.5E D&D has none of this, and is all the poorer for it, methinks.

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