Alex wrote an excellent blog post about levels in ACKS and what they mean/where they sit in the distribution of power. You can read it and it’s copious examples here.
Done? Good. Now, it’s fits brilliantly with ACKS and B/X assuming a world in which 14 is the absolute limit.
But what if it isn’t?
Classic D&D had rules to take characters all the way to 36th level. Why 36? Hell if I know. I’ve never been able to figure that out. Some people like that near demi-god level of play. Occasionally I think it would be cool, though I’ve honestly never played characters that have legitimately made it to such a high level of play (though mostly I’m a DM so there is that).
Anyway, so let’s envision you want a more Labyrinth Lord style progression, where characters tend to top out around 20th level (we’ll still include those post 20th level, but we’ll consider them to be exactly what they would be considered which is epic-ness beyond mortal concerns). And with the mortality of even high level characters in older versions of D&D, making it past those levels is still an accomplishment.
So, what would the levels mean if 20th were the ‘high end’? Arbitrarily? I’d say something like this:
- 0th: Most able-bodied humans
- 1st: 1 in 12 – The best in an extended family
- 2nd: 1 in 40 – The best in an estate or hamlet
- 4th: 1 in 100 – The best in a tiny barony or village
- 5th: 1 in 200 – The best in a small barony or large village
- 6th: 1 in 500 – The best in a barony or large village
- 7th: 1 in 2,000 – The best in a march or town
- 8th: 1 in 6,000 – The best in a county
- 9th: 1 in 10,000 – The best in county
- 10th: 1 in 30,000- The best in a small duchy or big city
- 12th: 1 in 100,000 – The best in a duchy
- 14th: 1 in 500,000 – The best in a principality
- 16th: 1 in 1 million – The best in a small kingdom or large principality
- 18th: 1 in 2,500,000 – The best in a kingdom
- 20th: 1 in 7,750,000 – The best in an empire
So levels beyond 20th are equally beyond even the loftiest of rulers and the kin of mortal men. This stretches the demographics out and lets NPCs exist of significant power to manage a world with roving bands of murderhobos rapidly expanding their power base, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.