Rule: E7 variant leveling system
Replaces: Entire PHB leveling structure
In Use In: Red Star Chronicles
Overview: Instead of having a nigh-unlimited ability to gain levels, players will not be able to gain levels past character level 7.
The E7 Leveling SystemEdit
From levels 1 to 7, players gain levels as normal. Upon reaching level 7, however, a player may not gain any additional levels. He continues to gain experience points as normal, but rather than gaining levels, he may "spend" them to purchase additional feats or skill points.
Purchasing a feat costs 5000 XP, purchasing a skill trick costs 2000 XP and purchasing a skill point costs 1000 XP. These costs never go up no matter how many skill points or feats a character has. Note that skills, skill tricks, and feats can only be bought after the player has reached the level cap. Note also that skills are still limited to a maximum of 3 + the character's level.
These costs are the same as magical item creation costs: they cannot cause the character to lose enough XP to go below the minimum needed for his current level. Thus, the player may never go below 21,000 XP total through paying for feats or skills.
Most classes in the E7 system will be edited somewhat. See the Classes section for details. Most prestige classes will also be altered to reflect the lower level cap. Some prestige classes might be replaced with prestige feats; see the Classes and Feats section for details.
Creatures which ordinarily have a level adjust in E7 games will instead receive a deduction in the number of points available for purchasing initial ability scores. Specifically, creatures lose 1/4 of their beginning points (rounding down) for each level of level adjust they would ordinarily have.
Example: In a 28-point buy game, a +1 LA creature, such as a Goliath, would receive only 21 points. A +2 LA creature, such as a drow elf, would receive only 14 points. In a 25-point game, a Goliath would start with 19 points.
Note that this only applies to level adjust; racial Hit Dice count as levels as normal and cannot be circumvented. Thus, a Thri-Kreen, with a +2 LA and two racial Hit Dice, would start as a 2nd-level Monstrous Humanoid and would have only half the standard number of points for its initial attributes.
Some E7 variant games might make use of the Class Rank system for limited multiclassing. Consult with your DM as to whether or not this is a possibility.
It is no secret that the 3.5 ruleset played straight leads to DM headaches. Using only the core rules, characters are capable of performing superhuman feats of strength and puissance, and even gaining immortality and world-shattering power, by level 11. Supplementary material only lowers the level and increases the number of classes that make this possible.
There is also a common perception that the most "fun" part of the game, before characters gain the means to render trivial most (if not all) encounters, is in the level 5 to 8 range. In this range, characters are strong, at the peak of "real-world" human performance if not somewhat superhuman, but they are not superheroes. A warrior in this range is still threatened by a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a wild tiger, and a mage can throw fireballs but still has to worry about a mob of peasants with pitchforks.
Thus, E7, adapted from the Epic-6 rules first posted on the EN World forums. Stopping character advancement at level 7 gives a character the strength to be an epic hero among men while still being threatened by angels, demons, and magical creatures. Having a cap on a hero's power helps to keep things in line thematically, and by axing the majority of the power curve, game-breaking problems are much easier to manage. In addition, the E7 variant allows players more freedom to customize their characters -- a 20th-level character might have a dozen feats under the standard rules, but an experienced E7 character might have 30.