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RPG's with slower leveling

SyndareeSyndaree Member Posts: 24
edited October 11 in Off-Topic
Hello fellow rpg fans!

I am curious if anyone knows of any single player or mmo rpg that has slower character progression compared to most games. Let me explain what I mean by that.

In most RPG games I've played the main protagonist progresses from a weakling to powerhouse (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, World of Warcraft etc. being prime examples).

There were a couple games I played where the character progression felt much slower and your endgame character ended up being obviously more capable than your starting one but not ridiculously so. (Fallout 1 and Morrowind if roleplayed come to mind)

Are there any other good single or multiplayer RPG games where you start as a somewhat competent character and then progress slowly throughout the adventure only to emerge as a competent one? By that I mean stuff like increasing your stats by 10-50% over the course of the game, not 2000% as many games do. Also not having your health go up too much, the games where you are still vulnerable at the end feel way more satisfying to me.

Thanks in advance!


  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 4,887
    Have you tried NWN(2) Persistent Worlds
  • SyndareeSyndaree Member Posts: 24
    No, I have never played Nwn2 past the prologue, because the leveling mechanic seemed very much like that in Nwn1 and that's the stuff I want to avoid right now :)

    Are the persistent worlds any different?
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 4,887
    @Syndaree Yes, the persistent worlds are balanced by their respective developers, and not by the game's original developers.
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 6,614
    You can design a character in Oblivion such that it will level very slowly, and the game will not punish you for it because encounters are so level-dependent.

    Icewind Dale 2 has fast leveling early on, but then it slows down dramatically.
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 1,460
    Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition comes to my mind. In 5th Edition, one of a character's basic measure of power is their proficiency bonus, which determines their attack rolls, the power of their spells, their saving throws, their skill bonuses, and a few other things. A character's proficiency bonus starts at +2 and increases by 1 every 4 levels after 1 (at levels 5, 9, 13 and 17). Because the proficiency bonus increases so slowly, high-level characters aren't that much stronger than low-level characters.
  • GodGod Member Posts: 1,017
    I highly recommend the Anno Domini 1257 mod for Mount&Blade: Warband. That's historically accurate medieval combat, so an arrow will kill you dead and you can have no 2000% health gain or armour bought for a gold piece (anything but clothing costs a fortune). Levelling is fairly slow and slows down a lot on higher levels, and it's impossible to create an all-powerful character.
  • SyndareeSyndaree Member Posts: 24
    Mount and Blade sounds great, I will definitely check it out.
    And as for Dnd5th...are there any games that utilize this system?
  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 2,782
    edited October 12
    In the original Pools of Radiance, characters only progressed to about 6th level (thieves higher, IIRC). It's sequel, Curse of the Azure Bonds, went up to 12th.
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,016
    edited October 12
    I suggest looking into older games. Before Baldur's Game "brought back" the RPG genre. That's what they said then, that it brought back computer RPGs after a string of lackluster years. But there is a great wealth of computer games from the 1990s that are good and aren't about power-gaming, even BG in the beginning was not... I assume you've played Fallout and Fallout 2, so let's see what else... Most old games are about the party, though, not a single "me, me, me" character. The games that made up my teens: the enchanting Might&Magic VI, the beautiful Faery Tale 2: Halls of the Dead... I played the first Realms of Arcania, and it held my attention firmly, if you can get used to pixels and don't mind reading. Sending out my Druid to gather herbs as the party lit the fire to camp for the night is still fresh in my memory...

    Yes! Darklands! A genius game that's completely different from everything else. And, since you mentioned Morrowind, I can't omit to mention what came before - the great and terrible Buggerfall, I mean Daggerfall. I was scared away from it early on not just by the mind-bending bugs, like the classic "AAAAAAH I've fallen through the world," but by the terrifying dungeons. I was just freaked out by the monsters, to be honest. Somehow they were more terrible than anything in the Elder Scrolls since, even though they were 2D sprites in 3D rooms, and a lot of them made no sound, too. Maybe that's why they were so damn spooky. But that game has the biggest game world ever created. It was there that I got my strongest impression of a vast imaginary space.

    Moving still back... Betrayal in Antara was probably not a good game, had I known any different then, and they say it's a step down from Betrayal in Krondor, but I only played the second one. It had a memorable magic construction system that recently appeared in a crude form in Tyranny, but Antara's was musical, and it had puzzle chests...

    Still, very-very linear, this one. I can't go back any more than that, except to Zelda: a Link to the Past for Super Nintendo. That game is still in all halls of fame, but it's a console game... I'll gladly go a little forward, stopping by another genre. Have you played Thief: the Dark Project? It's a "first-person sneaker," as they used to say, but it's got one of the most convincing and atmospheric game worlds, and you can choose how to go through the levels - killing or not, steal more or less... And Garrett is a poor fighter. He can barely take on a soldier or two. Here is the masterpiece intro movie (for watching in fullscreen, lights off):

    That game's 3D has aged terribly, but I heard that it looks awesome in 3D glasses.

    Back to the future and away from fantasy, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was all right and didn't immediately feel easy. Some people swear by that game, but I never cared for Star Wars... It certainly was non-linear and with many quest solutions and choices. Just never came together for me. And finally I must mention Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Which was set in modern Los Angeles, but was out-and-out one of the best RPGs... the first half, anyway. The fledgling was anything but a superhero in the early chapters. The game was easier to absorb if you were familiar with the tabletop White Wolf RPGs in the World of Darkness, and I was, though not with VtM. But I got drawn in. Each of the White Wolf RPGs dealt with its own existential principle, and VtM had its own problematic that I appreciated only some years later. But it's a sweet and heady drink even for a newbie, that game...

  • SquireSquire Member Posts: 429
    Mount and Blade is great fun, but it's not really an RPG as such... more of a warband management game. There's very little actual story/roleplaying in the game, unless somebody's created an RP mod for it (which would be pretty awesome, actually!). But while you do level quickly, your HP doesn't go up by much, and attacks get a bit faster but your combat ability is still mainly down to your skill as a player.

    Speaking of which, its combat mechanics are really good... simple, but it works well. Four lines of attack/defence, lmb=attack, rmb=block, mouse chooses direction, and you have to parry in the right direction (or set it to "easy mode" :p ). It's also the only game I've seen do horse combat properly, although horse archery is still ridiculously easy.

    Thief is also a good game, but again, it's not an RPG.
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 1,774
    there are two asoiaf mods for warbands. i would consider both to be rpgs, especially the older mod (acok) which rewards exploration a lot.
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 3,073
    What this thread is really asking about is disempowering your character, which I agree can be interesting. Honestly, I think Baldur's Gate 1 is fantastic at doing so, at least until you get to the Tales of the Sword Coast content. And early turned based DOS games, where you can be killed in an random battle with rats or bats. But other than that, you aren't likely to find many RPGs that don't level you past level 10. The only ones I can think of are low-level D&D games DESIGNED to be low-level adventures. Which means your best bets are Baldur's Gate and Pool of Radiance.
  • SyndareeSyndaree Member Posts: 24
    Thanks for all the answers, there's lots of options I see :)

    But yes, as jjstraka34 said, the idea is to disempower the character in a way. I don't mind getting many levels, as long as those levels give you small upgrades. If a level 100 character is 150% more powerful than a level 1, then that's fantastic and exactly what I am looking for!
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 4,887
    I would say in Dark Souls you feel plenty disempowered on your first playthrough. You could try that.
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 1,460

    I would say in Dark Souls you feel plenty disempowered on your first playthrough. You could try that.

    Dark Souls is a game I was thinking of bringing up on this thread, but for a different reason. In Dark Souls, you level up quickly, but you do not become much more powerful as you do so. You start at level 1-9 and you reach about level 80 by the end of the game (possibly more if you did a lot of farming). Although being at a higher level will certainly make the game easier, it will not allow you to steamroll enemies without any danger.

    I have an anecdote from playing Dark Souls that will illustrate this. There is a certain farming spot in the game where you fight giant leeches in a swamp. I usually reach this area once I'm level 30-40, and I pretty much never have any trouble fighting the leeches. However, in one playthrough I went there with a character who was about level 80. She got killed by the leeches because I was too reckless.
  • JoenSoJoenSo Member Posts: 197
    I never played through the whole game, so I'm not sure, but Arcanum. As I remember it you got just one single point to spend on anything (health, stat point, skill etc.) when you leveled up. So it took a while before you'd feel any significant difference in skill.
  • SquireSquire Member Posts: 429
    I prefer slow levelling and disempowered characters, tbh. It makes the whole thing more believable. I used to play on a NWN2 server that was like that, where level 6 characters were pretty much top-of-their-game, and level 8 characters were legendary (only about 3 characters ever got that high).

    Killing things gave almost no XP, so farming was impossible, and all quests were level-restricted and on a 24 hour timer, so you could only do them after 24 hours of real time had passed. Once you got past level 3, you couldn't do the easy "fetch and carry" quests anymore... so getting to level 3 was quick and easy, but it slowed down after that. Death penalties were also harsh.... like, seriously harsh, and often resulted in level loss. Many players chose perma-death rather than face another months of working back up to level 6.

    As a result, the whole world had a much more brutal, real, believable feeling to it. You weren't some super-badass hero who is so far above the rest of the world that one wonders why he isn't basically Emperor, you were an ordinary person like many other ordinary people, and if you didn't bring enough help, or work together effectively, you were dust. It encouraged RP, interaction, etc... because if your character didn't have friends, you were going nowhere. It was awesome.
  • cbarker15cbarker15 Member Posts: 33
    edited October 16
    The Witcher 3. Dark Souls series. You can start out pretty good provided you are skilled in that type of combat. Gaining levels really just open up different ways to succeed in battle but by the end of both games you still feel incredibly vulnerable. You will die if you don't think strategically. Judging by the forum though, you might only be talking about RPGs that are RTP or turn based combat.
  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 1,768
    Another old Interplay game, Dragon Wars, has both a slow level system *and* your characters will probably never be "overpowered". Even when your tank has the best armor you could afford and you put extra points into health, it take only one Stosstruppen in Pheobus to one-shot your tank into unconsciousness to figure out that your characters aren't good enough yet. It gets even better after that--you can be attacked by two groups of mages, one group causing your characters to miss the next combat round (now *that* is overpowered) while the second group casts a mass damage spell--three rounds, half the party is dead, reload.
  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,002
    In case you also play JRPGs, the characters in Trails in the Sky 1 and 2 (First Chapter, Second Chapter) have fast levelling but slow power progression. You won't feel that much stronger by the end of the game.
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