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As player characters overcome challenges, they gain experience points. As these points accumulate, PCs advance in level and power. The rate of this advancement depends on the type of game that your group wants to play. Some prefer a fast-paced game, where characters gain levels every few sessions, while others prefer a game where advancement occurs less frequently. In the end, it is up to your group to decide what rate fits you best. Characters advance in level according to Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses.
Advancing Your Character
A character advances in level as soon as he earns enough experience points to do so—typically, this occurs at the end of a game session, when your GM hands out that session's experience point awards. The process of advancing a character works in much the same way as generating a character, except that your ability scores, race, and previous choices concerning class, skills, and feats cannot be changed. Adding a level generally gives you new abilities, additional skill points to spend, more hit points, and possibly an ability score increase or additional feat (see Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses). Over time, as your character rises to higher levels, he becomes a truly powerful force in the game world, capable of ruling nations or bringing them to their knees. When adding new levels of an existing class or adding levels of a new class (see Multiclassing, below), make sure to take the following steps in order. First, select your new class level. You must be able to qualify for this level before any of the following adjustments are made. Second, apply any ability score increases due to gaining a level. Third, integrate all of the level's class abilities and then roll for additional hit points. Finally, add new skills and feats. For more information on when you gain new feats and ability score increases, see Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses.
|Character Level||Experience Point Total||Feats||Ability Score|
Instead of gaining the abilities granted by the next level in your character's current class, he can instead gain the 1st-level abilities of a new class, adding all of those abilities to his existing ones. This is known as “multiclassing.” For example, let's say a 5th-level fighter decides to dabble in the arcane arts, and adds one level of wizard when he advances to 6th level. Such a character would have the powers and abilities of both a 5th-level fighter and a 1st-level wizard, but would still be considered a 6th-level character. (His class levels would be 5th and 1st, but his total character level is 6th.) He keeps all of his bonus feats gained from 5 levels of fighter, but can now also cast 1st-level spells and picks an arcane school. He adds all of the hit points, base attack bonuses, and saving throw bonuses from a 1st-level wizard on top of those gained from being a 5th-level fighter. Note that there are a number of effects and prerequisites that rely on a character's level or Hit Dice. Such effects are always based on the total number of levels or Hit Dice a character possesses, not just those from one class. The exception to this is class abilities, most of which are based on the total number of class levels that a character possesses of that particular class.
Each character begins play with a single favored class of his choosing—typically, this is the same class as the one he chooses at 1st level. Whenever a character gains a level in his favored class, he receives either + 1 hit point or + 1 skill rank. The choice of favored class cannot be changed once the character is created, and the choice of gaining a hit point or a skill rank each time a character gains a level (including his first level) cannot be changed once made for a particular level. Prestige classes can never be a favored class.