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    High level?

    I love high level and epic d&d. Most of my memorable RL campaigns have happened at high level. One of my favorite things about it is how much it lends itself to being descriptive.. You can have some truly awesome moments.

    This brings us to PBP, which naturally seems to lend itself to such forms of awesome narratives. I have had some sincerely Epic moments in high level games on here.
    So why, then, is it that they occur so infrequently, and - when they do - no matter how great they start, they never last long enough?
    I've had a few high level games last a while, but most go belly up for one reason or another, which is a terrible shame not only because of how fun they were, but also because of the greater amount of time and effort people put into those characters..

    So I have a Few questions for my fellow online gamers...
    First: what do you think contributes most to high lvl games dieing?
    Second: why does nobody ever seem to want to DM these games?
    Third: wouldn't you rather be playing someone like Batman, Goku, or Drizzt than Bob the lvl 4 fighter?
    Fourth: who's up for a high level game?
    Last edited by Jemal; Thursday, 20th September, 2012 at 10:25 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jemal View Post
    So I have a Few questions for my fellow online gamers...
    First: what do you think contributes most to high lvl games dieing?
    Second: why does nobody ever seem to want to DM these games?
    Third: wouldn't you rather be playing someone like Batman, Goku, or Drizzt than Bob the lvl 4 fighter?
    Fourth: who's up for a high level game?
    As a scientist I can answer these questions quite easily: Occam's blade: It is the principle of parsimony, easier things have preference. Games don't escape that rule.
    1: The complexity that makes it hard to make a post; you have so many options that it gets complicated.
    2: Because its hard, you have to take into account a great deal of things.
    3: Surely, but Bob just have one attack and easy numbers to remember.
    4: I'm up to that, always been. Played in some epic level games but as you say, they never last long. M&M seems to be easier to play on higher grounds IMO, there's not such great breach as in D&D. If you want epic fantasy its also doable in M&M
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jemal View Post
    So I have a Few questions for my fellow online gamers...
    First: what do you think contributes most to high lvl games dieing?
    Second: why does nobody ever seem to want to DM these games?
    Third: wouldn't you rather be playing someone like Batman, Goku, or Drizzt than Bob the lvl 4 fighter?
    Fourth: who's up for a high level game?
    Here's my thoughts FWIW:

    1: DM burnout (same as any game). It happens more frequently in higher level as the enemies tend to be extremely complex to run (hard to just have a few goblins to control). Tactics are significant. Adventures are very challenging to develop, especially in 3.xe as the wizard has a ton of powers that are extremely powerful to deal with. High level D&D (any edition) is far more complicated and time consuming than lower level adventures. I remember that covaithe ran an Epic 4e game. He said it took in the neighbourhood of 3 hours to update each round of combat. Now 4e is generally more time consuming than 3e, but its still insane.

    2. See above

    3. Perhaps, sometimes its nice to play the fighter, but yes in the aggregate, those others are "cooler"

    4. Sadly, it's too much of a time commitment for me to take on right now. I would consider one as a player for 4e, but probably not.

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    Others have summed things up very well, but since I've been in just about all your high level game attempts, I feel a need to respond too.

    First: what do you think contributes most to high lvl games dying?

    - PBPs are, as a breed, always vulnerable to implosion. I think a lot of people join them thinking 'this will be like a normal game but less time consuming and easier to schedule.' And when it turns out to still be pretty time consuming, and scheduling issues still exist (albeit not as tricky as realtime games can be), they lose a lot of that underlying incentive to play. The cost/benefit analysis slides away from 'benefit,' and people find other things they'd rather be doing.

    A high level game just means that the game is more time consuming without necessarily being any more rewarding. In general, how rewarding a game is depends a lot more on the other players, characters (PC or NPC), and GM than it does on the specific level of your character. Gaming is a social function first. The literary experience of writing is a reward too, for some...and of course the opportunity to indulge in some largely-harmless power-fantasy. What I've found in myself though is that a game where either my character, or other characters, don't hold my interest is a game I won't be playing long. High level games, in short, are harder to play, and therefore require better reward to win that cost/benefit analysis we all do. Therefore they have a higher fail rate.

    Second: why does nobody ever seem to want to DM these games?

    - Because it's a PITA. DM's have the same cost/benefit analysis as anyone, but the costs of DM'ing FAR exceed the costs of playing. Therefore a DM must have a -great deal- of personal reward to gain. Since epic level games are costlier STILL, the incentive to DM one must be balanced by personal rewards that are improbably high.

    Third: wouldn't you rather be playing someone like Batman, Goku, or Drizzt than Bob the lvl 4 fighter?

    - It depends! Batman et al have well established histories defined by lore in the past. Bob is just starting out, and his history will be defined not by lore, but by the game and what happens in it. Both have appeal. Some prefer one over the other. There's no right or wrong there.

    Fourth: who's up for a high level game?

    - Always up for giving it a try.

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    The others have covered it well but I'll add my 2 cents.

    First: what do you think contributes most to high lvl games dieing?

    Complexity and time consumption, mainly, as the others explained.

    I'll add lack of balance to that list. As levels increase, the power gap between PCs can get extreme, and often that's not fun.

    Also, high level games are more likely to place extreme importance on a single PC. That backfires if the player becomes less active or drops out. It's not high level, but imagine Lord of the Rings, and Frodo's player drops out and no one wants to take him over.

    Second: why does nobody ever seem to want to DM these games?

    Besides complexity and time, it's almost impossible to write a challenging but beatable adventure without knowing exactly what the party composition is in advance. If a new PC comes in he could throw the whole thing off. This is actually closely related to complexity, as if you overlook one spell or feat in an obscure rulebook, you could underestimate a PC's power by a huge factor.

    Third: wouldn't you rather be playing someone like Batman, Goku, or Drizzt than Bob the lvl 4 fighter?

    Not necessarily. A low level character is often easier to relate to.

    High level PCs tend to be less human; and even if literally human, they are not much like the average player. At low level, it's easier to see yourself in the PC's shoes.

    What's more, the average NPC is not going to be high level, and that makes social interactions awkward due to the power imbalance and 'importance' imbalance. You save the world every day; so if a little boy falls down a well, it's a waste of your time. Does feeling that way lend itself to emotional involvement with NPCs? No.

    Even with Goku, most people think the original, lower-level Dragonball was better than DBZ.

    Fourth: who's up for a high level game?

    Depends on the hook

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    I feel the game may soon be afoot.

    *tosses in hat*

    beings as i am still undergoing medical recovery, I would like to play either 3.5 or pathfinder. Why those two systems you may ask? simply put no other boks, no way to buy other books and my brain is still a bit scattered from induced coma/long term fevers.

    (But man, it feels good to be alive!)
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    @Scott DeWar - Welcome back! Glad you're not dead. @Voda Vosa - side note, I think you got mistranslated, it's generally referred to as Occam's Razor, not Blade. I know that they're basically the same thing, but.. *shrug*
    And on that note, Occam's razor isn't just 'simpler is better', and is rarely used in science as anything more than a guideline akin to "KISS" (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
    This is because Occam's razor tends to be rather harsh and overbearing in the way most people approach it, as it seems to demand that scientists accept the simplest possible explanation for existing data, regardless of the fact that time and again, science has found that future data tends to support more complex theories than those we currently accept.


    Complexity and Time do seem to be the most obvious ones. I've adressed all the other issues in other games I've run, and that didn't help...

    IMO, How rewarding a game is largely depends on how interesting the story is, and to me, power level often CAN be a major factor..

    a lot of people point out the whole 'it's the character not the level'... but most of the good stories, in literature, tv, movie, games.. are about characters who are important, powerful.. characters who have an impact on the world around them, and the ability to instill change.
    There's a reason our comics follow Batman instead of Alfred, why we watch shows about X-men and Avengers instead of Officer Johnson cleaning up around them.. why our video game characters tend to be the main protagonists instead of their side kicks.

    The most interesting stories tend to be about important events, and the important people who participate in those events.
    Sure, sometimes the average joe/slice of life stuff can be interesting, but more often than not we want to be following the adventures of people who are Extraordinary.
    Star trek, star gate, etc - they're not just random people caught up in big events. They're about the best of the best.
    Leverage(awesome show btw) - Is not a show about an average group of criminals who decide to turn robin hood, it's about the BEST (Or damn near best) in each of their fields.
    Game of Thrones doesn't follow the common soldiers or even commanders, it focuses on the people who are Important to the story.
    Hercules, Superheros, Greek Mythology, etc, etc,
    They don't focus on the normal people b/c the normal people aren't as interesting.

    Humanity has always liked stories about important people, b/c it's about escapism, wish fulfillment, fantasy.. about something BIGGER. Super heroes, legends, ancient mythology.. this isn't anything new.
    You don't hear many ancient stories about Hercules' friend Jared the sheep-shearer. Sure he may have a well-written backstory, but if we assume that Hercules had the same effort put into his...

    I see so many people who seem to think that high-power means low-character development.. If someone doesn't put as much time into the high powered characters development as you did the lower one, then yes the character won't be as interesting as he could be.. but that's not a function of the power level, that's 100% based on how much time the person wants to put into writing backstory/personality. (As you've all said, Complexity and Time are the major problems)
    YES, the characters are VERY important - but I've found that higher power makes it EASIER to make interesting characters (And speaking from a *usually DM* standpoint, interesting STORIES).. they've had more time to establish themselves, there's more in their past to call upon, they have amazing powers that set them apart. They can deal with things on a grander stage.. the story is less about stopping the bandits from waylaying the carriages (Which granted, can be an amusing story), they're more interested in saving the nation from the mighty thralaxar, ancient red wyrm who's been terrorizing the countryside.
    To me, that sounds more fun..

    And IMO, dragonball wasn't low level except in comparison to dbz, which is kinda like saying level 16 characters are low level when compared to level 40...

    As far as being more relatable.. I don't know, I'm interested in the characters of Captain Kirk/Picard, General O'neil, Batman, Wolverine, Angel(from Whedon's Tv series), Chuck, Dr House, Dexter, John Connor, John McClane, Jack Sparrow, Skywalker, Nikita, Neo, Riddick, Megamind, Goliath(Gargoyles), V(Vendetta), Cloud, Jim Raynor, Thrall, et all..
    Last edited by Jemal; Friday, 21st September, 2012 at 01:42 AM.
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    As far as an actual game goes, I have a few suggestions.

    First off, I'm not for going Epic at the moment, but high enough to be able to traverse into Epic at some point perhaps... 16-18.
    Epic is FUN, but much more manageable when people don't start there.

    On that note, however, I have a few Epic/High level campaigns I've tried to run in the past that I could retry at this level.

    Epic problem OOC - EN World: RPG News & Reviews
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/playing...apter-1-a.html
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/talking...-war-gods.html
    being some examples.. (Or if anybody remembers one I was running that they think would be fun to try again)
    Personally, the story I had worked up for Epic Problem is one of my favourites that I've never been able to finish running, and I would love to try it again.

    OR I could post up one of my newer ideas.


    FINALLY, a very important note : One thing I've noticed that tends to happen more frequently at higher levels is character friction. Even if it's just good roleplaying between otherwise amicable players, it can cause game disruption, so I would prefer it if whichever game we choose, the characters have their own reasons to work with each other and not fight.
    Last edited by Jemal; Friday, 21st September, 2012 at 01:41 AM.
    Intelligence is the capacity to understand old Ideas.
    Imagination is the ability to come up with New Ideas.

    Eagles may soar, but Weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

    This isn't evil! You're just a bunch of NERDS!

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    What makes a good book, or movie, or epic poem, or other kinds of nonparticpatory story, is not necessarily what makes a good RPG. I say this not to debate your point, but suggest another way to frame what we said. Star Trek, and Game of Thrones and all your examples are stories written by one person, or a small group of collaborating people, intended to be experienced passively. They don't have to worry about dice, or strange people deciding to do totally unexpected things, or the ghostly spectre of balance. They dictate what happens all the way through to the end. That level of collaboration cannot exist in a game, and if it did it would no longer be a game. The two types of storytelling are fundamentally distinct, and can't really be compared side by side.

    I don't think any of us intended to suggest that the story of an epic game is not important. Nor do I think any of us were saying that powerful characters weren't attractive to play. Even Bob the 4th level fighter encompasses quite a bit of power fantasy and wish fulfillment for the typical roleplayer. I get the feeling you've got your own ideas about why epic games fail so often...which is fine. You run a lot. Your perspective is knowledgeable. It's just a little strange to see you ask our opinions...then argue against completely different ideas.

    I'd also like to add that a very very powerful character can be more difficult to create well. This is because most of their story is backstory...it's in the past. They've already made it to the top, and all that has to be laid out. Batman has his origin story, and countless tales of clashes with Joker and Penguin and all the rest, leading up to make the character he is now. That's a lot. And for someone who wants to create a detailed, plausible and well-realized epic character...well they may not have to duplicate that feat from scratch, but it's going to be a lot more work than the demands of a 1st level character who's just beginning their adventuring careers. That's to say nothing of the increased difficulty and time needed to actually build the character mechcanically, which is significantly higher than lower levels.

    None of this is intended to represent an opinion that epic games are bad, or wastes of time, or otherwise shouldn't be attempted. I'm enough of a gearhead that I like the exercise of mechanical character construction at that level, even if I'm not terribly 'good' at crunching those numbers. And I like the opportunity to play characters that would otherwise be totally inappropriate in any sane game of lesser level. I like epic games, in short. Even if they tend to die quickly.

    But I also recognize that they have a lot of hardships they have to endure...and that more than anything is why most go belly-up so fast. I don't see any big backlash against epic games. I think a lot of people avoid them BECAUSE they tend to dissipate, and that may be the only reason they don't want to play/run them. Others feel they're too hard to justify the effort...too hard to make characters, too hard to challenge without overchallenging, too hard to keep plots challenging and interesting...and so on. They're not wrong to feel that way...they just don't get everything out of it that some other people get, and so the cost/benefit analysis flips away.

    Just like you're not wrong to like such high powered games. Clearly you get more out of it than they do and those rewards continue to outweigh the increased costs, so you continue to want to do it.

    It's all good!

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    is rarely used in science as anything more than a guideline akin to "KISS" (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
    This is because Occam's razor tends to be rather harsh and overbearing in the way most people approach it, as it seems to demand that scientists accept the simplest possible explanation for existing data, regardless of the fact that time and again, science has found that future data tends to support more complex theories than those we currently accept.
    Wrong, at various levels, but completely unrelated with what we are discussing here.

    On topic, I'll love to try a high level character in one of your games. You're a great DM, so I think the game would be a blast.
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