[RPG] Should all the player characters in a campaign be the same level


We have five players in our campaign right now. I joined later than the rest of the group by about 1 month, starting a 1st level character when they were already 3rd level. We are still on the starter campaign levels 1-5. One player just got to 5th level, three players are almost 5th level, and I just reached 4th level.

So I am thousands behind in XP. I asked the DM "Shouldn't we all be the same level?" He says I will catch up, but I don't see how I will. Shouldn't we all be the same level?

Best Answer

No. There is no rule requiring that all characters in the group be the same level.

Additionally, it's not uncommon in organized official Adventurer's League play to be at a table where each character in the group is a different level within the intended tier of play for that adventure.

The gap in character advancement should narrow naturally over the course of the campaign as a consequence of the fact that each individual point of experience becomes less valuable as character levels increase. This assumes however that you don't miss any sessions in the future due to real-life incidents (which happens from time to time) thereby falling even further behind. If the gap does not narrow, due to extraordinary circumstances perhaps, that could present difficulty for your DM in designing and balancing encounters so that they will challenge the rest of the group without wiping the floor with you. The qualitative differences between 4th and 5th level are significant. This is when spellcasters begin gaining access to 3rd level spells, and when martial characters begin to get additional attacks.

When you express your skepticism to your DM, instead of framing it as a problem you are facing, approach the issue from the DM's perspective. What about the situation makes his job harder? Humans have a tendency to be more cooperative when you make the act of cooperating inherently in their best interests. The Adventurer's League Player's Guide offers characters in your situation a solution in the form of a downtime option that your DM can employ if he chooses called "Catching Up" which will allow you to reach 5th level and be on par with the rest of the group.

Downtime: Catching Up

Sometimes the rest of your party levels up a bit before you do. Instead of watching them go on higher-level adventures while leaving you at home, you can catch up. When you’re catching up, your character is assumed to be going on a small side adventure, such as guarding a caravan or patrolling the wilderness.

Catching up is a special downtime activity only available at 4th level and 10th level, to get your character to the next tier of play. At 4th level, you can spend 20 downtime days to level up to the start of 5th level. At 10th level, you can spend 100 downtime days to level up to the start of 11th level. You still pay lifestyle expenses when you spend downtime catching up.