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Writing Atlas: How Powerful is my Character?

Still not the article on the Crafting and Travel pillars I said I would do. The thing is, I keep coming up with other article ideas and want to keep those on retainer for when I can’t think of something else to say. Sorry if you feel cheated, but I’m sure I’ll run out of ideas and write about those two topics eventually.

So, on topic. How powerful is my character in Atlas? To answer, probably not that powerful compared to what you may have experience with. I’ve been a big fan of E6 style D&D and always considered “linear fighters, quadratic wizards” to be a pitfall that was important to avoid, so in writing Atlas I am trying to keep the classes balanced, each with their own specialties and weaknesses. The truth though is that it actually isn’t really up to me on how your characters power arcs in Atlas.

Leveling your character is meant to feel modular in Atlas Spire. You gain a level and rather than having it just directly upgrade aspects of your character, you spend it manually selecting something to improve. You can choose to buff your attributes, take a new level in your class, take a new template (Templates will be the subject of the article posted tomorrow), take a new level of your racial trait, or increase base stats like Health, Attack, Defense, and Resistance. In theory you could have an (almost) classless character who took the level one template and class and then exclusively put points every level into your attributes or base stats. I don’t know why you would do that, but you can. Likewise you can load yourself up on class and racial abilities leaving your stats as they were when you first started the character. Again, maybe not the best strategy, but nothing is stopping you from doing it.

Because you can increase whatever you want at each new level, you’re directly in charge of when you get new abilities rather than getting stat boosts or vice-versa, so your characters power arc is totally up to you. There is no level cap in Atlas either, meaning your character can increase in power almost infinitely if your game manages to last a long time. The question you might be asking at this point is “If I can level endlessly, then how can you say my character will never be powerful?”

First off, hopefully you didn’t get the idea that they wouldn’t be powerful, I never meant to imply that your character would be weak. The thing is, they’ll never be all powerful demi-gods with the ability to level cities and solve world problems with the wave of their hand. And while you can level endlessly in game rules, I imagine most GMs will assign their own level cap to prevent things from going overboard, or in most cases, a character will retire or die before they become too strong.

I consider the difficulty in Dark Souls to be very fair and I want the same feeling for Atlas. Every fight should be tense with no combat feeling too easy or like a simple waste of time.  I realize that this is mostly up to GMs to throw monsters and traps at the party with the difficulty they feel is fair, but at the very least in the creation process I can try to make it easy for them.

I realize not everyone likes these low leveled types of games, and that’s an easy fix. If you’re more into the exalted mentality, then just give the players a couple extra starting levels and use lower leveled creatures. Likewise for more of a challenge, just provide levels less frequently and use stronger enemies. Game is in your hands.

This one is a bit short, so if you need more reading material, check out the Archfossil Patreon page. It’s undergoing some changes at the start of the new year, but you can still pledge if you like the content and want to support Archfossil and Atlas in production.

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