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A level title is a system whereby each level of a character class is given a special name. It is usually associated with earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

History

Original D&D

Level titles first appeared in the original D&D game in Men & Magic (1974). In that edition, each character class had a different name for each level, rather than simply a number.

For example, a first-level magic-user is known as a Medium. At each subsequent level they become known as a Seer, Conjurer, Theurgist, Thaumaturgist, Magician, Enchanter, Warlock, Sorcerer, Necromancer, and, at 11th level, a Wizard. Thereafter they are simply known as a 12th-level Wizard, 13th level Wizard, and so on.[1]

The basis for this came from the Chainmail wargame. Individual troops where classified as "Men" (the became the basis for the "0-level Man"), while special characters who stood out form the masses would have special titles and rules. A "Hero" could fight as four men, and be the last man killed in a unit, while a "Super Hero" (this is more Conan the Barbarian or King Arthur than Superman or Batman) is eight-men strong. In the OD&D rules, a fourth-level Fighting-Man becomes a Hero, with all the benefit in a large battle. Likewise, an eight-level Fighting-Man becomes a Super Hero with the ability to kill up to eight (level 0) men in a single round of combat. (The large assortment of low-level monsters per encounter in the OD&D books reflected the power of even medium-level characters.)

Chainmail also had Wizards with variable degrees of magical and fighting ability, each with titles that became the basis for the Magic-User class: Magician (6th level Magic-User), Warlock (8th), Sorcerer (9th) and Wizard (11th).

Basic D&D

The various versions of Basic D&D, based on Original D&D, continued to use level titles. The Basic Rules (BECMI) (1983) used level titles, but the subsequent Rules Cyclopedia (1991) did not.

AD&D 1st edition

OD&D's level titles continued to be used in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, first appearing in the Players Handbook (1e) (1978).

AD&D 2nd edition onward

Level titles no longer appeared from AD&D 2nd edition (1989) onward.

Some level titles were re-used for other purposes. In AD&D 2nd edition, Warrior (previously a 2nd level fighting-man was now a category containing fighter, paladin and ranger; and Wizard was now a category containing mage and various specialist wizards, which would use former level titles for the names of the Enchanter and Necromancer.

D&D 3rd edition onward used sorcerer and later warlock as separate character classes. In OD&D, those names had been level titles for an 8th and 9th level magic-user respectively. D&D 3e also used warrior as an NPC class.

D&D 4th edition introduced a class called the slayer, a name which had been a level title for a 4th level assassin.

List of Titles

Original D&D Titles

Level Fighting-Man Magic-User Cleric Thief
1 Veteran Medium Acolyte Apprentice
2 Warrior Seer Adept Footpad
3 Swordsman Conjurer Village Priest Robber
4 Hero Theurgist Vicar Burglar
5 Swashbuckler Magician Curate Cutpurse
6 Myrmidon Enchanter Bishop Sharper
7 Champion Warlock Lama Pilferer
8 Superhero Sorcerer Patriarch Master Pilferer
9 Lord Necromancer Patriarch, 9th Thief
10 Lord, 10th Wizard Patriarch, 10th Master Thief
Level Druid Monk Assassin
1 Aspirant Novice Apprentice
2 Initiate of the 1st Circle Initiate Killer
3 Initiate of the 2nd Circle Disciple Murderer
4 Initiate of the 3rd Circle Immaculate Slayer
5 Initiate of the 4th Circle Master Cutthroat
6 Initiate of the 5th Circle Grand Master Dacoit
7 Initiate of the 6th Circle Grand Master of Dragons Thug
8 Initiate of the 7th Circle Grand Master of North Winds Executioner
9 Initiate of the 8th Circle Grand Master of West Winds Assassin
10 Initiate of the 9th Circle Grand Master of South Winds Senior Assassin
11 Druid Grand Master of East Winds Expert Assassin
12 Archdruid Grand Master of Winter Chief Assassin
13 The Grand Druid Grand Master of Autumn Prime Assassin
14 Grand Master of Summer Guildmaster of Assassins
15 Grand Master of Spring
16 Grand Master of Flowers

Advanced D&D Titles

Level Fighter Magic-User Cleric Thief
1 Veteran Medium (or Prestidigitator) Acolyte Apprentice
2 Warrior Seer (or Evoker) Adept Footpad
3 Swordmaster Conjurer Priest Robber
4 Hero (or Crusader) Theurgist (or Thaumaturgist) Vicar Burglar
5 Swashbuckler Magician Curate Cutpurse
6 Myrmidon Enchanter/Enchantress Bishop Sharper
7 Champion Warlock Lama Pilferer
8 Superhero (or Sentinel) Sorcerer/Sorceress Patriarch/Matriarch Master Pilferer
9 Lord Necromancer High Priest Thief (or Rogue)
10 Lord, 10th Wizard/Archmaguse High Priest, 10th Master Thief
Level Paladin Ranger Illusionist Bard
1 Gallant Runner Prestidigitator Ryymer
2 Keeper Strider Minor Trickster Lyrist
3 Protector Scout Trickster Sonnateer
4 Defender Courser Master Trickster Skald
5 Warder Tracker Cabalist Racaraide
6 Guardian Guide Visionist Joungleur
7 Chevalier Pathfinder Phantasmist Troubador
8 Justiciar Ranger Apparitionist Minstrel
9 Paladin Ranger Knight Spellbinder Muse
10 Paladin, 10th Ranger Lord Illusionist Lorist
11 Ranger Lord, 11th Illusionist, 11th Bard
12 Master Bard
13 Master Bard, 13th
Level Druid Monk Assassin*
1 Aspirant Novice Bravo
2 Ovate Initiate Rutterkin
3 Initiate of the 1st Circle Brother Waghalter
4 Initiate of the 2nd Circle Immaculate Murderer
5 Initiate of the 3rd Circle Disciple Thug
6 Initiate of the 4th Circle Master Killer
7 Initiate of the 5th Circle Superior Master Cutthroat
8 Initiate of the 6th Circle Grand Master of Dragons Executioner
9 Initiate of the 7th Circle Grand Master of North Winds Assassin
10 Initiate of the 8th Circle Grand Master of West Winds Expert Assassin
11 Initiate of the 9th Circle Grand Master of South Winds Senior Assassin
12 Druid Grand Master of East Winds Chief Assassin
13 Archdruid Grand Master of Winter Prime Assassin
14 The Grand Druid Grand Master of Autumn Guildmaster Assassin
15 Grand Master of Summer Grandfather of Assassins
16 Grand Master of Spring
17 Grand Master of Flowers

Unearthed Arcana

Level Druid (Hierophant) Cavalier Thief-Acrobat
1 (as Druid) Armiger (as Thief)
2 ' ' Scutifer ' '
3 ' ' Esquire ' '
4 ' ' Knight Errant ' '
5 ' ' Knight Bachelor ' '
6 ' ' Knight Burglar-Acrobat
7 ' ' Knight Grand Second-Story Thief
8 ' ' Knight Banneret Cat Burglar
9 ' ' Chevalier Master Cat Burglar
10 ' ' Cavalier Thief-Acrobat
11 ' ' Cavalier 11th Master Thief-Acrobat
11 ' ' Master Thief-Acrobat, 12th
12 ' '
13 ' '
14 ' '
15 The Grand Druid
16 Hierophant Druid
17 Hierophant Initiate
18 Hierophant Adept
19 Hierophant Master
20 Numinous Hierophant
21 Mystic Hierophant
22 Arcane Hierophant
23 Hierophant of the Cabal

Reception and influence

In 2021, Tim Kask noted that level titles created additional work for designers. "That was one of the hardest parts of making a new character class, was finding names for the various levels. How many synonyms can you find for thief?"[2]

The level title system is used by the D&D-inspired roguelike computer RPG NetHack.

References

  1. Men & Magic (1974), p.16-18.
  2. Curmudgeon in the Cellar 190 (Sept 19, 2021). 19m30s. Tim Kask, YouTube.
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