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D&D 5E Beyond 20th Level: Proficiency Bonuses

Hello, everyone,

I'm working on some homebrewed variant classes based on 1st edition for my 5th edtion game. One of the old 1E classes, in particular, the Druid has class features that are gained above 20th level (based on Unearthed Arcana). Also, there are beings in Deities & Demigods (or Legends & Lore) that have class levels greater than 20. And, eventually, I plan on converting some Arcana Evolved classes for use in the campaign, too. And, the base AE classes go up to 25th level, also.

So, I was wondering... Is there an official rule on whether or not characters that progress beyond 20th level continue to improve their proficiency bonus beyond +6?

I'm torn between capping at +6 and continuing the progression. I know monsters of CRs higher than 20 have proficiency bonuses greater than +6.

Thank you.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
Not saying it will ever happen, but my tentative plans for continuing to level up characters above 20 would essentially involve multiclassing.

As in, after twenty levels of one class, you need to pick a second.

You would gain the epic boons (or whatever they're called) from the DMG.

And, yes, the proficiency bonus would still rise. Don't see a good reason why it should not.

As for your specific question, I can't remember ever seeing an official table of proficiency bonuses above level 20, though.
 




Not saying it will ever happen, but my tentative plans for continuing to level up characters above 20 would essentially involve multiclassing.

As in, after twenty levels of one class, you need to pick a second.

You would gain the epic boons (or whatever they're called) from the DMG.

And, yes, the proficiency bonus would still rise. Don't see a good reason why it should not.

As for your specific question, I can't remember ever seeing an official table of proficiency bonuses above level 20, though.
Yeah, there's a table in both the MM and the DMG for monsters of CR21+.

Just wasn't sure if there'd ever been an official ruling.

I'm pretty sure we'll just continue the progression (+7 at 21st, +8 at 25th, +9 at 29th, etc.). Not saying that we'll ever get to that level (especially, since we're planning on using a slower rate of XP gain and XP charts based off of 1E), but it's nice to know how it might work if we got there.
 

Prism

Explorer
In our 20th+ level game we allow multi-classing and for those that don't want to, the ability to take a second subclass as a 4-5 level class. So a wizard could be an evoker and an abjurer. We use the DMG table for proficiency advancement
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
Bad, bad idea to have proff. bonuses increase.

If you want higher numbers - epic abilities allow raising stats to 24 for an extra +2, which is a high addition to the game limited to +11 for most and +13 for Barbarians (before the addition of magical items...).

On the multiclassing issue - doing that doesn't sit well with the core aim of Bonded Accuracy.

However, I have introduced (in order to keep it nominally equivalent to getting epic boons instead) a system for gaining either the core abilities of another class (one per level in order) or just those of a subclass of the same class the character is as an epic 'pseudo-multiclass' option.

It works well. I created Mordenkainen with that and a mix of epic abilities and subclass goodies and he ended up an Epic level Evoker/Abjurer Wizard with an extra 9th level spell and 24 Intelligence - perfect!

He certainly felt appropriately powerful with +13 before magical items on his spell DC base and spell attack...
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Just wasn't sure if there'd ever been an official ruling.
If you're asking if the devs have made any official rulings on epic play, I think it is safe to say "no".

There are no rules for player characters to level beyond 20th level*, so there would be no rules for them to make rulings on. When we allow our players to take actual levels beyond twenty, we are pretty much on our own.

*) the only official allowance for level 20 adventurers to continue their adventures is that they can gain an epic boon chosen by the DM (not the player) every 30000 XP, or alternatively a feat, or an ASI (that can break the 20 ceiling). Nothing about actual leveling there. And without levels, there would be no reason for your proficiency bonus to increase.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Bad, bad idea to have proff. bonuses increase.

If you want higher numbers - epic abilities allow raising stats to 24 for an extra +2, which is a high addition to the game limited to +11 for most and +13 for Barbarians (before the addition of magical items...).

On the multiclassing issue - doing that doesn't sit well with the core aim of Bonded Accuracy.

However, I have introduced (in order to keep it nominally equivalent to getting epic boons instead) a system for gaining either the core abilities of another class (one per level in order) or just those of a subclass of the same class the character is as an epic 'pseudo-multiclass' option.

It works well. I created Mordenkainen with that and a mix of epic abilities and subclass goodies and he ended up an Epic level Evoker/Abjurer Wizard with an extra 9th level spell and 24 Intelligence - perfect!

He certainly felt appropriately powerful with +13 before magical items on his spell DC base and spell attack...
Sure, but now you've switched discussions to NPCs.

Since level 20 character are already supremely awesome, and since they can already break all kinds of limitations of the game, I would say it's safe to assume the normal prudency (beware high profiency bonuses, mind the bounded accuracy etc) has already gone out the window, so go wild, knock yourself out! :)
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
Sure, but now you've switched discussions to NPCs.

Since level 20 character are already supremely awesome, and since they can already break all kinds of limitations of the game, I would say it's safe to assume the normal prudency (beware high profiency bonuses, mind the bounded accuracy etc) has already gone out the window, so go wild, knock yourself out! :)

I was just using an example of an NPC I stated out without breaking the 'rules bank', I'm not trying to change the subject!?

Also - 20th level characters were envisioned by the designers of the game - so how do you conclude that they break the limitations of the game? They designed the game, and the progression to +13 from the start. They designed the new limits on magical item bonuses etc. from the start. So high level characters don't exceed in some way what they expected - they designed them, deliberately, with the very bonuses they can potentially have...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I was just using an example of an NPC I stated out without breaking the 'rules bank', I'm not trying to change the subject!?

Also - 20th level characters were envisioned by the designers of the game - so how do you conclude that they break the limitations of the game? They designed the game, and the progression to +13 from the start. They designed the new limits on magical item bonuses etc. from the start. So high level characters don't exceed in some way what they expected - they designed them, deliberately, with the very bonuses they can potentially have...
Fair enough.

You're right, I should have expressed myself more clearly.
 

On the multiclassing issue - doing that doesn't sit well with the core aim of Bonded Accuracy.

Hi, Caliburn101,

For this campaign, the main player, whom I've played D&D in some form or another with since the 80's, wants to go fairly old school. I've converted almost all the classes to a 5E framework because I like the 5E system better than 1E. We've played too much 3X and 5E to fully return to 1E, but he and I really like the 1E classes.

Along with replacing the standard classes with conversions of the 1E classes, we're also changing out the unified XP chart for class-based XP charts as presented in 1E for each class, along with comparable XP awards, retrofitted using some guidance from Goodman's Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game's XP progression. In other words, slow advancement and difficult to achieve high level as each level is progressively harder to achieve), and the multi/dual class rules from 1E, along with racial level limits. The reason for not fully embracing the 1E XP awards system has to do with the idea that the DCC RPG XP system is simpler for me to use and the awards are based on how difficult the encounter was rather than fixed amounts based on what the encounter was (that might even need calculated out based on various factors for each creature in the 1E system).

I've got a lot of time before any character will exceed 20th level. But, if and when it does happen, I hope to be ready. Most of the AD&D classes were somewhat frontloaded, not really gaining much in the way of new abilities after the first few levels, but there are exceptions (like the AD&D Unearthed Arcana Druid which keeps getting new abilities all the way to 23rd level). But, given the XP needed and what it takes to earn that XP, I think it'll be OK to continue the proficiency bonus progression past +6, if a character achieves such a level to warrant it.

When I started working on this, I kept remember something I read about Mike Mearls playing in a game with players with classes from different editions and how it worked OK. And, that's been my goal with this... To make it workable, if not necessarily perfectly balanced.

Also, we've talked about it and proficiency bonuses from multiclass or dual-classed characters will not stack. The character will simply use the best available from any class levels possessed. I realize that the balance will be somewhat different than the 5E core classes, but I'm OK with that. Balance wasn't as big of an issue in the 80's, for us. And, I'll customize adventures where necessary, too.
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
Well, as long as you are prepared to put the work into creating or recreating challengers for your PCs with above +6 proff. then this would work Hrothgar.

I do personally think it is better to have an upper ceiling so mortals stay mortal and the necessary suspension of disbelief is less pronounced. There are RPGs that cater to playing minor Gods (Exalted for instance) - I'd rather have flawed and limited mortals wielding great power than those whose numbers make everything effortless.

I think the higher CR monsters in the MM, Rage of Demons etc. are already too weak for what they are. The idea that Demogorgon could take on a well organised party of 4 x 26th level adventurers and not die in seconds is a fantasy. You'd have to have him there with an army and a plan in advance...


... which I always do for monsters of course - but then the CR element is poor at low levels and really falls over at high levels. If you have got hold of a copy of Tome of Beasts from the Kickstarter campaign you'll see that they have factored this into their monster stats and they hit harder than equivalent ones.

But then lots of scaling is a bit strange - one only has to look at the DMG entry on damage per level for spells and then at Fireball to see that Fireball is MUCH better at 3rd level than any spell you could design as per the rules.

I don't understand it myself... but ultimately it doesn't matter. If you use CR and other aspects that don't level well as a very rough guide as you gain experience, and then discard them for what you know your players and their characters can handle, you'll have better games.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
[MENTION=6802178]Caliburn101[/MENTION] I agree to everything you say.

I just feel that since monster challenge is already so weak, there is little to be lost by allowing proficiency bonus to keep increasing.

It's not that by capping proficiency bonuses you will salvage much useful rules material.

So you will have to create new monsters anyway. And since you do, why not keep advancing proficiency bonuses along with everything else.

This thread is clearly about when you want to keep leveling even after level 20. If you are malcontent with the way the DMG gives you epic boons but not all the other perks of levelling, such as class features, hit points and, yes, increased proficieny bonuses, then I suggest you go all out.

In fact, if not before, so when you enter the epic levels, you should probably add a "nonproficiency bonus" to lift those scores that have remained rock bottom all along. Both you and all epic monsters are otherwise more defined by their glaring weaknesses than any strengths.

I suggest a non-proficiency bonus that starts at +2, and rises by one step every four levels or CR. (Exactly like the proficiency bonus in fact, only twenty levels behind).
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
I guess ultimately it comes down to whether you agree with the principle of bounded accuracy fully, partially, or not at all.

I agree with it wholeheartedly and like the effect it has on my campaigns. I can throw larger numbers of lower CR mobs against a party and they can hurt them without rolling 20s. I think that's great. They can also have an AC that still deflects some of the damage against higher level opponents because the heroes cannot make it utterly irrelevant. I love that. I already have issues with Bards and Rogues and their specialisation in skills making sentries on watch irrelevant, traps a non-threat or social encounters trivial and one-sided. I can get around it as it currently stands, but it's at my personal limit of credibility to be honest.

If you inflate proficiency bonuses then you blow through this. I know 3.5 did this already and that worked for a great many people - but number's bloat was why I sold my 3.5 stuff in the end, and stopped playing Pathfinder. I am back with D&D for many reasons, but bounded accuracy is a central attraction because I'm a dedicated world-builder, and much prefer building worlds where most things are some kind of threat most of the time, and I don't have to create a hugely inflated 'challenge bubble' around the party as they move around the world.

My two cents...
 

surfarcher

First Post
If you want to keep the main game's mathematical progression for proficiency use it's linear formula for proficiency progression.

Proficiency = round(0.25 x Level + 1.25)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I guess ultimately it comes down to whether you agree with the principle of bounded accuracy fully, partially, or not at all.

I agree with it wholeheartedly and like the effect it has on my campaigns. I can throw larger numbers of lower CR mobs against a party and they can hurt them without rolling 20s. I think that's great. They can also have an AC that still deflects some of the damage against higher level opponents because the heroes cannot make it utterly irrelevant. I love that. I already have issues with Bards and Rogues and their specialisation in skills making sentries on watch irrelevant, traps a non-threat or social encounters trivial and one-sided. I can get around it as it currently stands, but it's at my personal limit of credibility to be honest.

If you inflate proficiency bonuses then you blow through this. I know 3.5 did this already and that worked for a great many people - but number's bloat was why I sold my 3.5 stuff in the end, and stopped playing Pathfinder. I am back with D&D for many reasons, but bounded accuracy is a central attraction because I'm a dedicated world-builder, and much prefer building worlds where most things are some kind of threat most of the time, and I don't have to create a hugely inflated 'challenge bubble' around the party as they move around the world.

My two cents...
Well, we are only discussing epic play here. So the "3.5 did it" argument is to me a bit misplaced.

The argument is that at level 21 balance is already upset. Getting a +7 instead of a +6 doesn't matter much. And at level 30, giving everybody a built in +3 magical weapon isn't much of a stretch, not to me at least.

Bounded accuracy does have its limits. I don't think the intention was for orcs to still matter at top level. Again, this is only about levels 20-30.
 

Well, as long as you are prepared to put the work into creating or recreating challengers for your PCs with above +6 proff. then this would work Hrothgar.

I do personally think it is better to have an upper ceiling so mortals stay mortal and the necessary suspension of disbelief is less pronounced.
Thanks. I agree about the need for an upper ceiling, of sorts, but I'm OK with climbing up on the roof. I am comfortable with customizing and creating challenges for PC's with proficiency bonuses above +6, though I think such challenges should be rare. I think the scarcity of epic challenges should help PC's retire, rather than keep going. Also, decreasing or eliminating XP for any encounter that is unchallenging will help, too.

There are RPGs that cater to playing minor Gods (Exalted for instance) - I'd rather have flawed and limited mortals wielding great power than those whose numbers make everything effortless.
Never played those. The only time we played immortals was in 1E, using Legends & Lore and the Manual of the Planes as guidelines. Nearly all opponents were 100% custom crafted, at that point.

I think the higher CR monsters in the MM, Rage of Demons etc. are already too weak for what they are. The idea that Demogorgon could take on a well organised party of 4 x 26th level adventurers and not die in seconds is a fantasy. You'd have to have him there with an army and a plan in advance...

... which I always do for monsters of course - but then the CR element is poor at low levels and really falls over at high levels.
I agree. And, that's part of the reason I'm not using the 5E XP charts or XP values.




If you have got hold of a copy of Tome of Beasts from the Kickstarter campaign you'll see that they have factored this into their monster stats and they hit harder than equivalent ones.
Didn't get that one, but I like the sound of that.

But then lots of scaling is a bit strange - one only has to look at the DMG entry on damage per level for spells and then at Fireball to see that Fireball is MUCH better at 3rd level than any spell you could design as per the rules.
Yeah... We had a party of 1st to 6th level characters run into an orc expedition led by an orcish shaman, a few weeks ago. The orcish shaman was the first one to ever cast fireball in that campaign. Scarred all the players, tremendously (especially, since it was clear that the shaman was willing to sacrifice his own orcs in order to burn the PCs). Some of the players had never seen a fireball, before. But, I do think fireball has some drawbacks (watching out for other members of your party, etc...)

I don't understand it myself... but ultimately it doesn't matter. If you use CR and other aspects that don't level well as a very rough guide as you gain experience, and then discard them for what you know your players and their characters can handle, you'll have better games.
Agreed.

Thank you, Calliburn101.
 

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