D&D 5E Does the 3rd Tier of Play at Level 11 Make Sense?

S'mon

Legend
I think a lot of people who say that 5e is too easy aren't reading what the game expects the characters to be doing at different tiers.

Well if you play most of WoTC's published adventures as written, it tends to feel fairly easy after 4th level I think.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
I remember seeing that Mearls said they nearly released 5e as a 1-10 level game. I think that would have been a good idea, they could have done a level 11-20 supplement later once they saw more of how the game worked.
That would be a fun experiment.

What if we retroactively applied 4e lessons to 11-20?

4e made 11-20 and 21-30 interesting by adding on a new mechanic -- paragon paths and epic destinies.

We could do the same!

In my case, however, I'd steal something different from 4e; the power source. And make it mechanical.

Power Source:
A mere mortal cannot pass level 10, no matter how hard they practice. In order to pass level 10, you need a power source.

This power source is a narrative and mechanical feature. You can have more than one power source. Power sources add features, like classes or magic items do.

The sum of the levels of your power source are equal to your character level past 10.

Power sources often have optional features. Having access to spells above level 5 is a power source feature.

Many power sources require narrative justification. Power sources can, however, be latent: you can fullfill the requirements many levels before. In other cases, they can be hidden parts of your character's backstory with a DM agreement. "Dragon Blooded" can be unlocked if you killed a dragon at level 5, for example.

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So Power Source replaces the Paragon Path. It also provides a great excuse why your town guardsman mercenary is now superhuman.

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Then we can unlock Epic Destinies at level 17. It could have a 5 level progression - 17:1, 18:2, 19:3, 20:4, then getting epic level 5 requiring some deed or whatever.

So instead of level 20 fighter, you'd have:
Level 20 Fighter
Level 10 Dragonblood
Level 5 Returned Emperor
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
Well if you play most of WoTC's published adventures as written, it tends to feel fairly easy after 4th level I think.

I play the published adventures.

The only really easy parts in my experience is Overland travel because the party can just long rest after each encounter.

There are lots of other factors that can make the game easy too which have been gone over before like DM combat skill and large parties.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I remember seeing that Mearls said they nearly released 5e as a 1-10 level game. I think that would have been a good idea, they could have done a level 11-20 supplement later once they saw more of how the game worked.
Or they could go the E6 route like the variant in 3.5 that was very popular on the boards.

Once you hit 10th level, you stop leveling but then you just gain Epic Boons every so often. 6th+ level spells can just be part of those boons

Boon of Epic Magic
You gain the ability to prepare 6th level spells, and gain 1 6th level spell slot, that refreshes on a long rest.

You may take this boon multiple times. Each time the level of the spells is increased by 1, to a maximum of 9th level.


That said, quite frankly, I bet you could take 6-9th level spells and compress them down into just 3 spell tiers if you really assessed the high and low spells of each level, with wish being its own personal capstone.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
In my experience, the tiers are defintely:

1-4 Student
5-8 Professional
9-12 Master
13-16 Grandmaster
17-20 Legend
(21+ Epic in DMs Guide)

These tiers also correspond to the proficiecy bonus improvements.
 

S'mon

Legend
Or they could go the E6 route like the variant in 3.5 that was very popular on the boards.

Once you hit 10th level, you stop leveling but then you just gain Epic Boons every so often. 6th+ level spells can just be part of those boons

Boon of Epic Magic
You gain the ability to prepare 6th level spells, and gain 1 6th level spell slot, that refreshes on a long rest.

You may take this boon multiple times. Each time the level of the spells is increased by 1, to a maximum of 9th level.


That said, quite frankly, I bet you could take 6-9th level spells and compress them down into just 3 spell tiers if you really assessed the high and low spells of each level, with wish being its own personal capstone.

Personally, I'd probably follow OD&D and have it be E12, with level 6 spells at the top of the regular progression. I think the OD&D power scale works a lot better than the Greyhawk+ scale with its level 9 spells.
 

Having run a 1-20 5E campaign, here's what I believe the four tiers are:

Tier 1: Level 1. First level is its own thing and unique in the game due primarily to the fragility of player characters.

Tier 2: Level 2 - Level 4. Characters have good survivability and are reasonably effective, but not particularly powerful.

Tier 3: Level 5 - Level 12. This is the core 5E experience of heroic fantasy roleplaying.

Tier 4: Level 13 - Level 20. Starting at 13th level, characters gain access to level 7 spells that fundamentally change the game. They can die and come back with a single spell, travel the planes, and just generally wreak havoc on the DM's plans.

In my experience, characters level very quickly from 17 onward. They can gain a level from a single battle, because they're capable of defeating very, very, very powerful enemies.

Next time I play a high level campaign, I'll likely take that approach starting from 13th level. Not because high level play isn't fun. It is. But because it's kinda like desert. Enjoyable, but you don't want too much or you might get sick.
 

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