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How did they become heros?

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I skipped 3E but as I play 4E I find that the characters are downright tough! I pit the 4E first level characters vs monsters as recommended in the DMG and modules and I cringe. In my 1E and 2E mindset these characters are going to get their [COLOR=rgb(0, 0, 0)]Clocks Cleaned!

[COLOR=rgb(0, 0, 0)]When they play within their role (controller, defender, striker, leader) they manage to always come out on top. My new players really seem to enjoy this but I had one old-schooler who didn't. I don't like to kill characters but I do see a little of the development removed.

4E characters start out at the heroic level. What were they doing before that? I kind of liked the ambiguity of 1E to handle that and didn't mind the skills of 2E that enhanced it.

I guess what I' saying is that WOC could get a little more cash out of me if they added a pre-heroic supplement. I've been thinking about it for a new campaign. Something like the old Dragon Wars [/COLOR] computer game.

The PCs are regular "Joes" who end up in Purgatory . They had a previous life but are now forced to become heroes or die. They would need a fighter mentor. A thieves guild could be more of a hook. How do they learn those spells anyway?

Any thoughts?
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