D&D 5E A Power Dial Separate From Level

NotAYakk

Legend
I sort of agree with this- and it really means that DnD5e just isn't the game for my world.

Providing challenging encounters for players means that your parties will level up every 4-5 sessions. I know everyone runs their games differently, so this varies, but just going by core 5e characters will reach high levels with consistent play.

NPCs either have to grow in power similar, and in numbers that can mean some die and there will still be more to challenge the party further down the line..
But in my mind, NPCs should cap out at level 11 or 12. Hell, I'd want characters to do the same. I guess I haven't been happy with this "PCs frequent power raising forcing NPCs to be higher level" dynamic since 3e- but at least 3e had variable XP tracks to slow down leveling (or maybe that was Pathfinder?)

I'm not satisfied with it, I'd love a solid "e6" ruleset for 5e. I've toyed with e9 rules but never had the chutzpah to use them at my table.
First you don't have to use XP.

Second, if you do level up ever 5 or so sessions, and use gritty rests with about 1 month per level, then the game stretches over about 2 years of both real life and in-world time.

You can tell different stories over those 2 years.

L1-4 is Local Heroic. 4 months of in world and real life time. Mere mortals.

L5-10 is Regional or National Heroic. 8 months of in world and real life time. This is the limits a moral can reach without cheating.

L11-16 is Epic or Global Heroic. Another 8 months of in world and real life time. NPCs in this power tier have cheated to gain their power.

L17-20 is Legendary or Planar Heroic. 4 months of in world or real life time, and universe-changing events.

NPCs don't have to auto-scale for this to work. There just have to be challenges at the higher tiers. The Liches, Demons, Elder Dragons, or even squads of Giants -- all are reasonable challenges for Epic tier heroes.

There aren't any "masters of the blade" that scale with the PCs needed, and NPCs can cap out in the single digit levels (except, say, a 1000 year old elven swordmaster, who is level 11.)
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
First you don't have to use XP.

Second, if you do level up ever 5 or so sessions, and use gritty rests with about 1 month per level, then the game stretches over about 2 years of both real life and in-world time.

You can tell different stories over those 2 years.

L1-4 is Local Heroic. 4 months of in world and real life time. Mere mortals.

L5-10 is Regional or National Heroic. 8 months of in world and real life time. This is the limits a moral can reach without cheating.

L11-16 is Epic or Global Heroic. Another 8 months of in world and real life time. NPCs in this power tier have cheated to gain their power.

L17-20 is Legendary or Planar Heroic. 4 months of in world or real life time, and universe-changing events.

NPCs don't have to auto-scale for this to work. There just have to be challenges at the higher tiers. The Liches, Demons, Elder Dragons, or even squads of Giants -- all are reasonable challenges for Epic tier heroes.

There aren't any "masters of the blade" that scale with the PCs needed, and NPCs can cap out in the single digit levels (except, say, a 1000 year old elven swordmaster, who is level 11.)
Are we assuming the PCs are "cheating" in this scenario?
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Are we assuming the PCs are "cheating" in this scenario?
Yes, otherwise getting to L20 is implausible.

It does require a narrative excuse, and different adventures as the game progresses. But it does not require auto-leveling NPCs - the problems they face should change qualitatively.

Note that PC classes sometimes come with built in cheata.

I don't assume NPCs have PC like spell slots, for example. Clerics, Sorcerers and Warlocks all have built in cheat excuses.

Wizards, if we assume most mages write and consume spell scrolls not memorize spells, are also have a baked in cheat excuse.

Building in excuses for other PCs can be done in campaign (something happens to explain.it) or in backstory, or be a mystery. In one AP podcast, the PCs ended up being invested with power from gods as part of the apocalyptic plot, and the warlock ended up eating their patron.

It isn't "same kind of story, repeated". So I get why people get annoyed by it.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Yes, otherwise getting to L20 is implausible.

It does require a narrative excuse, and different adventures as the game progresses. But it does not require auto-leveling NPCs - the problems they face should change qualitatively.

Note that PC classes sometimes come with built in cheata.

I don't assume NPCs have PC like spell slots, for example. Clerics, Sorcerers and Warlocks all have built in cheat excuses.

Wizards, if we assume most mages write and consume spell scrolls not memorize spells, are also have a baked in cheat excuse.

Building in excuses for other PCs can be done in campaign (something happens to explain.it) or in backstory, or be a mystery. In one AP podcast, the PCs ended up being invested with power from gods as part of the apocalyptic plot, and the warlock ended up eating their patron.

It isn't "same kind of story, repeated". So I get why people get annoyed by it.
I feel PCs and NPCs should be treated the same in setting (even if the NPCs may be more abstracted mechanically), such that the primarily difference between them is that a player controls one and the GM controls the other. But then, I don't subscribe to the popular, "PCs are special" trope. In my games, player action makes PCs special in the context of the setting and the campaign (or not, as things go). There's nothing inherently special about them beyond that.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I feel PCs and NPCs should be treated the same in setting (even if the NPCs may be more abstracted mechanically), such that the primarily difference between them is that a player controls one and the GM controls the other. But then, I don't subscribe to the popular, "PCs are special" trope. In my games, player action makes PCs special in the context of the setting and the campaign (or not, as things go). There's nothing inherently special about them beyond that.
Sure. Then either play a gonzo world with ridiculous results, or don't play D&D.

Not even E6 makes a sensible world. I've seen attempts to take PC rules and apply it to a fantasy world. It is just gonzo.

I mean, you can just lie about it I guess. "NPCs and PCs use the same rules" and just ignore the consequences of that claim. That works fine, it just doesn't actually do what it claims to do.

To be clear, I'm making PCs special because don't want the gonzo consequences of NPCs using the same rules. And I do want a world that looks a tiny bit like our own. And I do want players whose PCs grow and produce a story in an insanely dangerous situation that isn't "and they all died" 999/1000 cases. I want to tell the growing power story, and I don't want the gonzo world that is produced when that story is part of background physics.

There are systems that do tell the "random zero in a strange situation" intentionally, like call of Cthulu. Of course, that game is mostly about the atmosphere and telling stories about your dead previous characters.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Sure. Then either play a gonzo world with ridiculous results, or don't play D&D.

Not even E6 makes a sensible world. I've seen attempts to take PC rules and apply it to a fantasy world. It is just gonzo.

I mean, you can just lie about it I guess. "NPCs and PCs use the same rules" and just ignore the consequences of that claim. That works fine, it just doesn't actually do what it claims to do.

To be clear, I'm making PCs special because don't want the gonzo consequences of NPCs using the same rules. And I do want a world that looks a tiny bit like our own. And I do want players whose PCs grow and produce a story in an insanely dangerous situation that isn't "and they all died" 999/1000 cases. I want to tell the growing power story, and I don't want the gonzo world that is produced when that story is part of background physics.

There are systems that do tell the "random zero in a strange situation" intentionally, like call of Cthulu. Of course, that game is mostly about the atmosphere and telling stories about your dead previous characters.
that's not what they're saying, they're not saying that 'everyone does have class levels' but 'anyone could have class levels' they're just saying that PCs aren't a fundamentally different or special kind of being to the rest of all NPC civilisation in the world, that theoretically anyone could get levels in fighter or rogue or wizard(not that those levels are typically a real concept to people in the world) if they applied themselves to learn the skills, but most people just live their lives as a farmer or a blacksmith or a merchant,
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
When I DM, give the players the option to be Plucky, Destined, or Specials

Base PCs are Exceptional

Plucky PCs get -1 to their Primary Score and another score but roll a Luck score. They get Luck points equal to their Luck Modifier.

Destined PCs get an extra attunement slot. Every level they get to Roll for Destiny. Success means they find an appropriate magic item or gold. Failure means they lose something important.

Specials get +2 a score and a bonus feat. I create an NPC who makes their lives hell.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
that's not what they're saying, they're not saying that 'everyone does have class levels' but 'anyone could have class levels' they're just saying that PCs aren't a fundamentally different or special kind of being to the rest of all NPC civilisation in the world, that theoretically anyone could get levels in fighter or rogue or wizard(not that those levels are typically a real concept to people in the world) if they applied themselves to learn the skills, but most people just live their lives as a farmer or a blacksmith or a merchant,
Yes, I'm aware of standard tippyverse mechanics and assumptions.

Here is a long post on doing so using D&D 3.5e mechanics: https://forums.giantitp.com/showthr...tive-Guide-to-the-Tippyverse-By-Emperor-Tippy
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.

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