December 22, 2013
The Magic Level
It exists in almost every game with a level-up system. The Magic Level. That level-up that allows for everything you have wanted for your character to just fall into place. It is the level in which your character really comes into their own. It comes when you are at last able to use that spell or ability you have long sought after, or you finally gained that class ability you have built your whole character around, or you at long last meet all of the prerequisites for whatever special trick you have been working towards since you first rolled-up this character. It is the level that forever changes the course of your character’s career, quite possibility the most important level-up your character will ever have.
Different characters gain their magic level at different points during their career. Some hit it really early, coming into their own soon out of the proverbial gate. These characters are often, but not always, built for the short term or are built so that they have several magic levels throughout their potential build. Other characters are more late-bloomers, but these are usually very long-term builds with an incredible pay off. When these guys hit their magic level, it can be a game changer that some Gamemasters are not fully prepared for, which can cause a momentary panic from behind the GM Screen. Finally, there are those unexpected magic levels that a characters hits without realizing it. They select a new feat or ability, or gain a new item, that radically changes how they play. A lot of times, a character gaining an artifact weapon is such a milestone, as that is not something one can prepare for in most cases. There is no right or wrong way to build for these magic levels, short term or long term, though I always see it as an important thing to prepare for.
Of all the games I have played, the two most notorious for having magic levels are Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition/3.5 and Anima: Beyond Fantasy. In D&D, the magic level usually comes with the gaining of a new tier of spell-casting, the gaining of a prestige class, or the gaining of a specific ability within that prestige class. In Anima it is usually heralded by the gaining of what is called an Ars Magnus, “Great Arts,” for martial characters or Metamagics for mystics. Specifically, I fondly recall a favorite D&D character from a game I ran many years ago named Roscoe, a fighter/rogue who fought using duel scimitars. While a good fighter, mechanically there was never really anything truly special about him. That was until he gained the Dervish prestige class, and specifically the ability “Dervish Dance.” After which, everything changed and he truly came into his own.
Reaching your magic level in a game is one of those awesome feelings that just never goes away, no matter how many times you experience it.
I want to hear it, let me know your own favorite magic levels you have had with your own characters over the years.
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