I’ve decided that I want to play more variety in RPGs. This, combined with the fact that I have less time than ever to play them means I want a tightly written novella or short story for a campaign, not an epic 7 novel series.
So, I want a campaign to complete in 6-12 months. I want to play 2x per month, for 5 hours or so. This gives me 60-120 hours to complete an entire campaign, which really isn’t all that much time. With this perspective, how many levels should the game have, and how many hours should it take to level up?
Let’s say we go with 100 hour campaigns, which is being a bit generous. We could do 20 levels for 1 level every 5 hours of play. We could also do 10 levels, with a level for every 10 hours of play. I’d also say that the game system should probably be able to handle a longer campaign, and that maybe there is a more epic tier that exists, but there would need to be some practical reason that most NPCs aren’t “epic” or there aren’t really epic-tier heroes controlling the world and pulling the strings.
I don’t want to go too far down that way though, because that way lies super-hero style RPG play, and I really don’t care about that right now for Lost Worlds. So, I think I want to delay some of the gratification of leveling, so I think every-other session is probably appropriate. Every session might be hard to keep up with for players as they have changing stats and powers every time they sit down after a 2-week break.
All of that being said, I think I want my design space then to be about 10 levels worth of stuff, with level 1-3 being an above average combatant, level 4-7 being a hero, and level 8-10 being a leader. There is going to be a fine line between having fewer steps and making the levels granular enough that a level 2 doesn’t auto-win against a level 1, and a level 3 doesn’t auto-win against a level 2, etc., since I want a little more granularity in the range.
I’m not completely sold that every-other-session should be a level though. What would you prefer?