DnD Levels and Fiction

So seeing Raiders last night got me thinking about Dungeons and Dragons (3.5, nerds) and characters and levels. I recall reading a number of criticisms about how the game is completely unrealistic, since a top-level character (20) is basically a god, but nothing in fiction comes close to that level of power. And you know what? That’s true.


kftsjI recall reading a single rebuttal piece pointing out the obvious problem here, which is this:

Point: Level 20 is broken, because if Albert Einstein is the most intelligent person who ever lived, he should be level 20.

Counterpoint: Albert Einstein is a Level 4 Aristocrat with 20 Intelligence and all his ranks in Knowledge: Physics. That means he would be able to arrive at answers to questions only the gods themselves could know about 10% of the time.

I’m paraphrasing. I can’t find the original post. So, what level is Indiana Jones?

Well. He’s human, so he gets an extra feat. But he can use a whip, which is an Exotic Weapon, so he might have to burn that feat just for whip proficiency. Let’s, instead, focus on the gunshot wound. He barely notices it until the entire chase scene is over.

A pistol does 1d6 damage. So perhaps he got lucky and only took the 1, but we don’t really know, do we? So, now we need to know how many HP he has. Let’s be charitable and say he’s a Ranger (he clearly has Favored Enemy: Nazi). They have a d8 hit die, and he clearly has an increased Constitution score–I would guess his dump stat was Wisdom–so that’s, let’s say, 1d8+2 per level. Let’s assume that he took average damage from the shot (3) and has average HP. Any character with six HP (level 1) who lost 3 of them would simply not behave that way. So he has to be higher than level 1.

Leather armor has a terrible armor class, so every time he doesn’t get shot it must be from some other factor. I’d guess he went down the Dodge feat tree. You’d need an insane number of feats and bonuses to avoid getting shot that many times anyway (remember that 5% of everything hits–natural 20), so we’ll just do what we can, here. The Dodge tree really needs all three feats to be worth it, and since he already burned his bonus human feat on the whip, that means that his level 1, level 3, and level 6 feats need to be devoted to the Dodge tree.

Now, if he hadn’t used Wisdom as his dump stat, he’d be able to cast spells at that point, but he did, so he can’t. And anything higher than level 6 would be kind of ridiculous.

So Indiana Jones is a Level 6 Human Ranger.

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