Character Levels

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An enumeration of states characters can progress through, gaining and improving abilities as they are reached.

Many games support players feeling they have achieved something through letting them have clear gameplay indications of this. For games with characters, one way of doing this is through Character Levels which simply can be a numerical scale that character can increase in to signify that players have reached certain goals.

Note: this pattern is not about the concept of parts of a game that players are confined to until certain goals or end condition has been fulfilled. That concept is described in the pattern Levels.


Roleplaying Games like Dungeons & Dragons, the Diablo series, the Elder Scrolls series, and the Fallout series make use of Character Levels. However, it is common in many other types of games, for examples see the list at Giant Bomb for the concept of Leveling Up.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does have some Character Levels for some career classes but this is in fact a special case. The normal one is that after a character has learned sufficiently from one career one changes career instead. While in many cases new careers can be more powerful, players often have options on which career to choose and sometimes may be force to choose unrelated ones due to circumstances.

Using the pattern

There are a number of design choices related to creating a system of Character Levels. First, how many Character Levels should exist. In Massively Multiplayer Online Games, attention typically needs to be given to supporting Endgame gameplay for all players that have reached the maximum level (this can be important in other games as well, but the number of players and their possibility to interact with other players makes it vital in Massively Multiplayer Online Games). Second, what specific requirements needs to be met to reach each level. Having a specific amount of Experience Points is one option (found for example in Dungeons & Dragons) but the Elder Scrolls series shows another way through requiring a certain number of points in Skills to have been gained. Third, and perhaps most complex, what effects should take place when a Character Level is met. Common ones are Improved Abilities and increases in Attributes, Skills, and Powers (or more simply: Characteristics), but reaching new Character Levels can also work as Unlocking either New Abilities or Powers (in which case this pattern modulates those rather than the other way around). A more uncommon effect is to increase the number of Helpers a player can have. In addition, games with Character Classes can have individual design choices for each class.

The presence of some other patterns make them potential interact points with Character Levels. For example, games with Death Consequences can have reductions in Character Levels as one of those consequences. In games using the Neighbors pattern, Character Levels can be connected to these as requirements for reaching levels.


Character Levels are part of the Characteristics of Characters tied to a Character or player. As such it can signify a Score and each increase in Character Level can be seen as reaching a Gain Competence goal leading to Unlocking of New Abilities or Powers. Reaching a new Character Levels represents Character Development for Characters and can be either the result of Character Defining Actions or result in these when choices are made about how to develop.


Can Instantiate

Characteristics, Gain Competence, Scores, Unlocking

with Characters

Character Defining Actions, Character Development

with Massively Multiplayer Online Games


Can Modulate

Characters, Helpers, Massively Multiplayer Online Games, New Abilities

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Attributes, Character Classes, Death Consequences, Experience Points, Improved Abilities, Neighbors, Powers, Skills

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.