5E Avoiding High Level Play - Player or DM Preference?

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If the level 20 PCs are truly pathetic, I guess so!

A typical level 20 party will have either an infinite-rage Barbarian with effectively 600+ hit points, or an AC 30 Fighter or Paladin type, to tank the monster. An infinite-wildshape Druid can also tank in a pinch using eg earth elemental forms.

To kill a PC you need to take them to 0 then inflict 3 failed death saves. At level 20 this is NOT EASY, believe me! I managed it recently when an ancient spellcasting blue dragon with animate objects as a bonus action attacked the druid, who had unwisely approached it not in wildshape. It took her to 0 hp quickly, then its animated treasure hoard battered her to death before anyone could intervene. She did get Revivified after the battle by a Paladin PC though.

IME the Rune Giant I posted could be solo'd by a level 20 Barbarian - I've seen a level 19 Barbarian defeat much worse (Kainos Warbringer, an AC 27 Empyrean with 2 attacks, save or stunned on each hit) in a solo duel.
LOL. I guess the times we've gotten to 20th the parties (one I played, one I DMed) were "pathetic". Then again the idea of a character dual wielding holy avengers or +3 everything armor related is just not quite the game we play.

I agree, barbarians get a lot of HP, but that's what non-weapon damage is for. Don't hand out magic like candy if you don't want to deal with the consequences. I suspect it's also related to the fact that I use standard 27 point buy that I don't see quite the same issue.

Not that it matters if that is what's fun for your group. Just saying that not all 20th level PCs are unstoppable juggernauts. They're just nearly unstoppable juggernauts. Big difference. ;)
 

S'mon

Legend
LOL. I guess the times we've gotten to 20th the parties (one I played, one I DMed) were "pathetic". Then again the idea of a character dual wielding holy avengers or +3 everything armor related is just not quite the game we play.

I agree, barbarians get a lot of HP, but that's what non-weapon damage is for. Don't hand out magic like candy if you don't want to deal with the consequences. I suspect it's also related to the fact that I use standard 27 point buy that I don't see quite the same issue.

Not that it matters if that is what's fun for your group. Just saying that not all 20th level PCs are unstoppable juggernauts. They're just nearly unstoppable juggernauts. Big difference. ;)
My level 20 campaigns are both standard 27 points. Not seen a holy avenger AFAIK. No +3 armour AFAIK either (except a legendary suit of half plate briefly worn by Barbarian before he got too tough for it), but some Very Rare stuff like a +3 shield and +3 weapons does show up, and some legendary weapons. I don't think that makes a big difference though; even without magic items level 20 PCs are very tough, though not unstoppable.

You really think that Rune Giant would beat your level 20 party?

Edit: Obviously Bear Totem Barbarians get around the 'non weapon damage' issue!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
My level 20 campaigns are both standard 27 points. Not seen a holy avenger AFAIK. No +3 armour AFAIK either (except a legendary suit of half plate briefly worn by Barbarian before he got too tough for it), but some Very Rare stuff like a +3 shield and +3 weapons does show up, and some legendary weapons. I don't think that makes a big difference though; even without magic items level 20 PCs are very tough, though not unstoppable.

You really think that Rune Giant would beat your level 20 party?

Edit: Obviously Bear Totem Barbarians get around the 'non weapon damage' issue!
I have no clue if they'd survive, depends on a lot of factors though. Depends on if it's the group where the guy playing the wizard always focuses on fire spells. In every edition. Then thinks you're purposely nerfing him because you happen to throw something in that's immune to fire. :confused:

But I digress. Solo encounter, they'd probably whup his posterior, especially if they had a round or two of prep. The greater invis wizard stays out of harms way and the fighter types don't have much problem hitting. Might take a few rounds. Throw in a handful of allies and it gets tougher to call.

Oh, and you're right about the bear warrior. I forgot that was a house rule our DM had.
 

S'mon

Legend
I have no clue if they'd survive, depends on a lot of factors though. Depends on if it's the group where the guy playing the wizard always focuses on fire spells. In every edition. Then thinks you're purposely nerfing him because you happen to throw something in that's immune to fire. :confused:

But I digress. Solo encounter, they'd probably whup his posterior, especially if they had a round or two of prep. The greater invis wizard stays out of harms way and the fighter types don't have much problem hitting. Might take a few rounds. Throw in a handful of allies and it gets tougher to call.

Oh, and you're right about the bear warrior. I forgot that was a house rule our DM had.
:) Well obviously I can't account for GM nerfs, or self nerfing players - I guess a Wizard who can only cast fire spells might count as pathetic - my son loves fire themed casters but he still takes a few alternative spells.

A Legendary opponent with allies and CR = PL is always going to be tough, that's the game working as intended.
 

Hexmage-EN

Explorer
My last campaign spent tier 4 fighting a demonic army that had found a way to penetrate into the middle layer of the Nine Hells, confronted a Chaotic Good armada led by Ben Hadar, Good Prince of Elemental Water, in Stygia, defeated six demon lords and four Dukes of Hell, dethroned Levistus, and saw one PC become the new Archduke of Stygia with another becoming a demon lord.

I like high level shenanigans with the PCs rubbing shoulders with deities and demigods.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
If you don't like the superhero genre then modern high level play won't have much attraction I think. There is also the power imbalance issue - certainly in 3e/PF you can very easily get one player with Dr Strange, another with Iron Man, and a couple more with Hawkeye & Black Widow. 4e & 5e tend to have a lot better PC balance - more Thor & Captain America, not Thor & Hawkeye.
Hey, in 5e Hawkeye might be the most deadly member of the team. A 20th level ranger with sharpshooter feet.
 

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