Leveling Up And You

Leveling Up and You, A Quick Reference Guide
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love getting new spells, feats, skill points, hit points, and abilities (also maybe other things)

Now in list form!


Don’t Panic

Leveling up is easy and gaining new abilities is fun! As you go up in level, you get more powerful so that you can heal more things, stab more things, block more things, poison more things, throw fireballs at more things, and, eventually, consume ALL THE THINGS in a torrent of unholy arcane energy that rends the fabric of the universe itself, bring existing as we know it to a screeching and ignominious halt.

You can always ask your friendly, local Dungeon Master for help if you are having a problem, though other, sanctimoniously-insufferable rules-lawyers (like me) can also help. (For example, sometimes they will do things like write out a multi-page guide to something they say is “easy” and “fun”, but by that point they’ve probably lost all credibility anyway and are just going for broke.)

Things to remember:

  • Step one: Cut a hole in a box. Wait, no, that’s not right.
  • When you gain a level, you get exciting new things:
    • Hit points
    • Skill points
    • Feats (sometimes)
    • Ability score increases (sometimes)
    • New abilities (sometimes)
    • New spells (sometimes)
    • Increases in attack bonuses and saving throws (sometimes)
    • An increase in the number of attacks you make per round (sometimes)
  • Holy shit-snacks, that’s unhelpful. What’s with this “sometimes” bullshit?
    • It’s because you don’t gain those things at every level.
    • Seriously, though, that’s the reason. And now, we’ll move on to “when these things happen”.

First: Choose what class you are leveling up in. Please note that this step can (and should) be ignored until you decide you want to either multi-class (don’t do this, please, oh, dear gods) or take a prestige class (which have prerequisites for entry). In other words: Ignore this for now.

Pro-tip: When you create a character, you choose what is called a “favored class”. This doesn’t matter right now, because no one has more than one class, but if you choose another class (e.g. multi-classing or a prestige class) you don’t always get all the bonuses you normally would (like extra skill points or whatever). If you see a reference to “favored class”, that’s what it means (and a prestige class can never be a favored class).

Hit Points and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and become tougher to kill

Whenever you go up in level, you gain hit points. This makes you harder to kill, which is exciting, because it makes your healer’s job easier. (Just kidding: Our enemies will hit harder, too, and be harder to kill as well, so yeah.)

The number of hit points you gain is based upon your class and can be found in the section on your class in either the Core Rulebook or the Advanced Player’s Guide (depending on where you class is from, herp derp), or online. This number is listed as your “hit die”, which normally is the die you roll to determine how many you get (e.g. if my hit die is a d8, I roll an 8-sided die and get that many HP). In this campaign, however, the DM has decided to award each character the maximum, so if you have a d10 (like a ranger), you will get 10, or a d8 (like an oracle), you will get 8, and so on. You can also increase the number of hit points you gain by opting to take a hit point instead of a bonus skill point, which I will cover in the next session.

Additionally, whenever you gain a level, you also gain hit points equal to your Constitution score bonus. So, if I have a Constitution score of 12, my modifier would be +1, and that would give me 1 extra hit point every level. (Negative modifiers do detract from your hit points, but you can never gain fewer than 1 hit point per level.) Please note that, if your Constitution increases and thereby increases your modifier/bonus, you gain hit points basically retroactively. So, like, if I put a +2 Constitution bonus ioun stone into orbit around my head (weeee) and my Con modifier goes from, say, +1 to +2, I would immediately gain an extra hit point (e.g. the difference between my previous Con modifier and my current) for each level (so, if I was fifth level, I would immediately gain five hit points).

Skill Points and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and get better at doin’ stuff

Whenever you go up in level, you gain skill points. Skill points represent how good you are at doing different things (e.g. how long you’ve studied it, how long you’ve practiced, whatever). Skill points go into the “ranks” column of the skill section, and “ranks” are calculated into your overall bonus for that particular skill. You may never have more ranks in a particular skill than your level (e.g. if your character is level 5, you can only have a maximum of five ranks in any individual skill).

The number of skill points you gain per level is, as with hit points, based upon your level. This information can be found in the respective section on your class, usually near the “hit die”. You must spend these points at this level; you may not hold them over to the next level (though… I am not sure why you would want to do that, really…).

In addition to the number of points you get as a function of your class, you also receive skill points equal to your intelligence score modifier. So, if you have an intelligence score of 14, your modifier will be +2, and you will receive 2 fun, exciting extra skill points each level. If your intelligence score ever permanently increases and thereby causes an increase in your modifier (e.g. from +2 to +3), you retroactively receive that benefit (i.e. if I am level 7 and my modifier goes up by one, I would get 7 points to allocate immediately).

Finally, every time you level up [in your favored class], you receive a free, sexy bonus point. You may spend this point either as an hit point or as a skill point. If, for example, you find that you really need the skill points for some reason, take it as a skill point. If, on the other hand, you find yourself being too fragile in conflict, or maybe you’re constantly on the front-lines or whatever, you may want to consider taking it as an hit point.

Ability Score Increases and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and get smarter/prettier/harder/better/faster/stronger

At every fourth level, you may increase a single ability score by one. You should have done this first at level four (i.e. already), and you will not do this again until level 8. Hooray! When you do it (or if, for some reason, you have not done it already), you choose an ability score and… add one.

Pro-tip: Modifiers from ability scores only change on even-numbered, uh, numbers, so if you go from 12 intelligence to 13 intelligence, your modifier won’t change, but if you go from, say, 13 to 14, it will go from +2 to +3.

Feats and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and get so good at this one thing you guys

Feats are gained at odd-numbered levels. Aside from first level, everyone (unless explicitly mentioned otherwise in your class description—i.e. Fighters, etc.) gains a feat at 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19. Additionally, don’t forget to keep track of the feats that you have already taken, as some feats increase their bonuses once you have met a certain threshold (e.g. the bonus from Skill Focus goes from +3 to +6 once you have 10 or more ranks in that skill).

New Abilities and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and figure out how to do more stuff

New abilities will be granted—sometimes—when you level up. These abilities are derived from your class, and will be listed in the class description, just like so much other vital information. The timing of these new abilities varies from class to class (for example, oracles get a new Revelation at 3, 7, 11, 15, and 19, whereas other classes may gain abilities far more frequently).

Pro-tip: Some feats allow you to do things that you could not do otherwise, or they expand upon abilities granted by your class, and so are swanky that way. You must take the feat to earn the ability, though.

New Spells and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and MOAR MAGIC MISSILE

This section is applicable only to spellcasters, or to those classes that use “spells” but do not actually call them “spells” (I’m looking at you, alchemical “formulae”). If you prepare spells every day in the morning (like wizards), your spellbook will be larger than those that cast their spells spontaneously (e.g. a wizard has a larger spellbook than a sorcerer, but a sorcerer can usually cast more spells per day than a wizard).

When you level up, you may gain either new spells that you can add to your spellbook or you may increase the number of spells you can cast per day (or, perhaps, both!). There are class-specific charts in the class descriptions that deal with this.

Pro-tip: You may increase the number of spells you can cast per day based on the ability of yours that is tied to your spell-casting ability. For example, wizards use intelligence to cast arcane spells (because they are disciplined and study and memorize and stuff), whereas oracles use charisma to spontaneously cast divine spells (because they are pretty). The chart that tells you how many bonus spells you get, based on your modifier, is on page 17 of the Core Rulebook. Neat! It is also here.

Increases in Attacks, Attack Bonuses, and Saving Throws and You
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and hit things harder/better/faster/stronger

When you do something like make a saving throw or an attack roll, you roll a d20 (hooray!) and then add the applicable bonus. These bonuses increase as you level up (you get better at what you do, and you get better at avoiding stuff that’s happening to you), and said bonuses are class-specific. There are charts in each class description section to show you what your bonuses should be based on what level you are.

Eventually, you may notice that your Base Attack Bonus column has multiple numbers in it (e.g. 15/10/+5). If this is the case, you may perform multiple attacks per round, because you are super awesome. However, in order to do this, you must make your attack as a Full-Round Action, which means you cannot do anything else during the round except take a five-foot step.

Helpful Links
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and use a series of tubes called “the internet”

Alchemist

Monk

Oracle

Ranger

Rogue

Swashbuckler

Wizard

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Leveling Up And You

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