Definitions Unchanged, Words Changed

Years ago, with the help of various commenters, I devised the tier system and the tier names. “Pre-Basic, Basic, Expert, Heroic, Master, Champion, Legendary” has been around for quite a while, but it always bothered me a bit that as much as the tier names were something of an homage to ‘BECMI’, a couple of them were out of order.

I’d originally chosen Master for the middle tier (middle tier at the time, that choice was made before Basic and Pre-Basic tiers existed) because that was the level rogues could get ‘Skill Mastery’, the ability to Take 10 with skills even under duress. Since the Advantage Dice System doesn’t even have ‘Take 10’ there was no real need to keep it where it was.

This opened a discussion this week about whether I should swap Master and Champion. ‘BEHCML’ is even closer to BECMI, and that would make me happy.

A couple of the right comments and questions at just the right time derailed that homage. Mild sadness, but I think the new progression is cleaner, more intuitive to many people, and just looks better. The tier definitions aren’t changing, but their labels better represent the definitions.

Old Tier New Tier Level PFRPG Description
Pre-Basic Basic 1-4 1/10-1/8 Weakest things that have stats. Toddlers and most household pets, if you consider ‘pet fish’ really being ‘self-propelled decorations’.
Basic Expert 5-8 1/6-1/2 Most adult humans, in fact almost all of them, are here. Trained at what they do and competent enough for everyday living, but generally not exposed to actual dangerous situations on a regular basis.
Expert Veteran 9-12 1-4 Those who have probably experienced dangerous (or at least challenging) situations, or are very accomplished. Professional badasses, elite soldiers, and ‘world-class others’. This is a small, certainly single-digit percentage of the population, possibly on the order of 1-2%.
Heroic Heroic 13-16 5-8 Larger than life characters and events. Heroes of Celtic, Greek, and Norse myth are probably found here, along with a lot of the Silver Age ‘superheroes’. Major historical figures, the kind whose reputations span millenia, might also be here — probably near the bottom end.
Master Champion 17-20 9-12 Superhuman, the best of the mortal heroes (in Greek myth, they’ve probably have some divine blood and/or a deity guiding them… which is a mixed blessing at best, I think).
Champion Paragon 21-24 13-16 The pinnacle, the epitome of what they are. Superheroes.
Legendary Legendary 25-28 17-20 Take conscious part in and interfere in the affairs of the mighty gods.
  • ‘Level’ indicates the default levels of each tier in Echelon.
  • ‘PFRPG’ indicates the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game level or CR range for each tier, to provide some context for the sorts of abilities appropriate for creatures in that tier.

This feels way more intuitive than the older progression. I think this will work much better and be much easier for others to understand.

My fond thoughts of aligning with BECMI and having a ‘B/X’ box set for gritty but still exciting play kind of fall apart here. I can still have the box set, but ‘E/V’, ‘X/V’, and ‘V/H’ really don’t resonate the same way.

Ah well, I’ll get over it. This looks too much like it’ll work better for me to feel bad for long. I imagine by the time I go through and update all my tier references to use the correct labels I’ll be past it… and probably planning to Never Change It Again.

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