Level Up (A5E) Epic Levels, or Prestige Classes?

Hey all, I know we're fresh into this thing, but I'm already thinking ahead. I backed the KS and am super excited to get playing.

I am wondering if there are any plans, or ideas for post-level 20 play. Whether that is something like Epic levels, like previous editions of D&D. Mythic levels from Pathfinder. Or even "Advanced" classes like prestige classes?

Personally, I think something like Prestige classes with 5 or 10 additional levels would be a fun way to run epic levels for post level 20 play.

Either as extension classes, for example the Grandmaster prestige class would be a continuation of the Adept class, where the prerequisite for the Grandmaster prestige class is the Adept's "Grandmaster" feature.

Or hybrid prestige classes that require two level 10 features from two bases classes, and/or features from bases classes that equal out to 20.

An off the top example: Prestige class Dirge Singer, could require the class features: "Sentinel at Death's Door" Grave Cleric level 6, and "Infectious Inspiration" Eloquence Bard level 14.
The Dirge Singer could give access to a handful of thematic rare spells that the cleric and bard both have, as a sort of level up the spell idea. Then give a couple class features like Dirge Song: concentration to play a song of the dead that. And list out a few songs the Dirge Singer can learn that have special effects equitable to the post level 20 nature of the class.
A Dirge of the Dead song might act as an advanced raise dead spell, while Dirge of Eternal Rest song might act as a consecrate spell.
The max level Dirge Singer capstone could be Master Dirge Singer: play and entwine two Dirge Songs you know at once during the same concentration.

Just some ideas I think would be cool to see.
 

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King Brad

Explorer
Prestige classes will be a thing in the Zeitgeist book, however, I'm not sure if they will be specifically a post-lvl 20 thing like what you're looking for.

However, given the success of the KS, epic level material could definitely be something that is done by them given that the whole philosophy of A5e basically is "5e, but better". And even if they don't, it sounds like they will have an SRD at some point soon for folks to make their own A5e based material.
 


Reprising Immortals is a cool idea too. Really this is a "Wouldn't beyond 20 levels be neat?" post.

I'd hope that prestige classes would be either the end goal, or you look around at level 20 and see what you're qualified for and pick from a few options. Sort of in the spirit of post-level 20 archetypes.
 

I don't want either. I want Immortals rules.

Honestly, I'm not fond of prestige classes because they force you to plan your character out in a very specific way.
For my part, if Prestige Classes return, I want them to have either very simple requirements (so that many classes potentially qualify), or very specific but easy requirements (so only a few classes qualify, but you barely need to go deep into them).

I designed a 5e implementation of the Silver Pyromancer. Its requirements are pretty simple: some base stat stuff (Wis 13, and Cha or Int 13), proficiency in both Arcana and Religion (they're religiously-trained arcane spellcasters), and the ability to cast 3rd level spells from an arcane class, excluding Warlocks. (The specific phrasing nixes upcasting as a valid entry, but in principle even that isn't necessary.) IOW, Wizard 5, Bard 5, or Sorcerer 5 would be the usual entry, though EK 13 and AT 13 are also valid options, and I guess so is Artificer 9. Nothing else qualifies. (There are a couple other fluff requirements, but nothing major: sponsorship, completing a fluff ritual, and an oath.)

Basically, if I were in charge of bringing PrCs back, they'd always follow these rules:
0) Don't make a PrC if you can, with equal effectiveness, achieve it some other way. There needs to be an actual benefit. This DOES NOT mean "sacrifice whatever you need to so it doesn't have to be a PrC," but you should always consider other options first.
1) Never larger than 5 levels, and usually no smaller either. Make it punchy and quick, focused on getting to "the good stuff" ASAP. Most games are too short to hit level 15, but a too-short PrC is much harder to balance.
2) An appropriate single-class char should qualify by the time they take their 6th level (so "Wiz 5/PrC1"). Rare exceptions that require 2 feats might be acceptable...but, again, very rare.
3) Any stat prereqs should be easily met at chargen, and should never be particularly onerous--but, ideally, they should be at least a minor cost, e.g. Bard/Sorc/Wiz don't really care about Wisdom.
4) Leverage existing systems, mechanics, etc. A Swordmage PrC should take cues from War Wizardry and EK, a class that emphasizes fire magic should learn from Elemental Affinity/Dragon Sorc, etc.
5) No dead levels: make each level a real temptation. Sacrificing more levels of your original class is always a cost in 5e--there needs to be a commensurate reward, but not one that is unbalanced.
6) If the PrC has at least four levels, the fourth level gives an ASI or equivalent (e.g. Rune Scribe UA with its flexible ASI feature), no exceptions. This means 4th level will be light on other features.
7) All fluff requirements should be easy to meet, assuming player and DM have discussed it in advance. Such things should only exist to make sure the char makes sense, NEVER an RP limit on non-RP power.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
I wouldn't mind the return of Prestige Classes in the game, as long as it wouldn't mean the return of an endless run of garbage prestige classes.

I think there is definitely room in 5e for something that works as a prestige class, but the purpose of the mechanics should be understood first:

  • originally Prestige Classes were supposed to be designed by DMs for their specific campaigns (3.0 DMG had "only" 6 of them because they were supposed to be examples), they were not supposed to be for a-la-carte players-entitled character builds
  • a Prestige Class is always a class i.e. a progression of abilities, not a 'pack' of unrelated boosts
  • they were always meant to be open to every character, or at least to many
  • prerequisites define what ALL members have in common, they aren't meant just as a 'tax' to get the goodies

Does 5e need prestige classes? No.

If you have a good idea for a campaign-specific group membership that should grant characters special knowledge or ability, it is much better to introduce feats, spells, alternate class abilities or one-time "boons", that characters joining the membership will either get for free or be able choose instead of another feat/spell/etc they would get at next level.

But if the idea you have clearly represents a progression that should be available to all classes, then instead of splitting it up into multiple feats (which might take too many levels to gain) you can consider representing it as a set of class levels. The problem is how those class levels detract from your normal progression. If it starts looking like you have to design a complicated mechanics so that it is compatible with all classes, I'd scrap it all and forget about it, it's just not worth the effort.


Basically, if I were in charge of bringing PrCs back, they'd always follow these rules:
0) Don't make a PrC if you can, with equal effectiveness, achieve it some other way. There needs to be an actual benefit. This DOES NOT mean "sacrifice whatever you need to so it doesn't have to be a PrC," but you should always consider other options first.
1) Never larger than 5 levels, and usually no smaller either. Make it punchy and quick, focused on getting to "the good stuff" ASAP. Most games are too short to hit level 15, but a too-short PrC is much harder to balance.
2) An appropriate single-class char should qualify by the time they take their 6th level (so "Wiz 5/PrC1"). Rare exceptions that require 2 feats might be acceptable...but, again, very rare.
3) Any stat prereqs should be easily met at chargen, and should never be particularly onerous--but, ideally, they should be at least a minor cost, e.g. Bard/Sorc/Wiz don't really care about Wisdom.
4) Leverage existing systems, mechanics, etc. A Swordmage PrC should take cues from War Wizardry and EK, a class that emphasizes fire magic should learn from Elemental Affinity/Dragon Sorc, etc.
5) No dead levels: make each level a real temptation. Sacrificing more levels of your original class is always a cost in 5e--there needs to be a commensurate reward, but not one that is unbalanced.
6) If the PrC has at least four levels, the fourth level gives an ASI or equivalent (e.g. Rune Scribe UA with its flexible ASI feature), no exceptions. This means 4th level will be light on other features.
7) All fluff requirements should be easy to meet, assuming player and DM have discussed it in advance. Such things should only exist to make sure the char makes sense, NEVER an RP limit on non-RP power.

That's a good set of guidelines.
 

I feel like the best way to do prestige classes or even organizations would be to just provide options for a specific class (classes) that are only accessible by members of that org or whatever.

Honestly I felt O5e missed out on a real opportunity by not providing alternate options for subclasses and floating it as a PrC or Organizational benefit. Like, take the Infiltration Expertise ability of the rogua assassin at level 9. Maybe a Zhentarim assassin would be granted the ability to swap out that ability for something else of equivalent power.
 

I feel like the best way to do prestige classes or even organizations would be to just provide options for a specific class (classes) that are only accessible by members of that org or whatever.

Honestly I felt O5e missed out on a real opportunity by not providing alternate options for subclasses and floating it as a PrC or Organizational benefit. Like, take the Infiltration Expertise ability of the rogua assassin at level 9. Maybe a Zhentarim assassin would be granted the ability to swap out that ability for something else of equivalent power.
That stated, I think this is where Level Up supplements will be able to shine for character options.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't want either. I want Immortals rules.

Honestly, I'm not fond of prestige classes because they force you to plan your character out in a very specific way.
Yes and no. During 3e when I made a character, sometimes my concept would be as simple as "a wandering elven fighter who was banished from his homeland." Other times it would be much more specific. When I played the more general concepts, I would simply look periodically at prestige classes to see if any fit both the concept and what had happened to him during gameplay and see if I qualified for one(or was very close to it). For the more specific concepts, planning out his path to the prestige class that fit my vision was very important. I wasn't forced to plan, though. It was optional based on my vision of the PC.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I look forward to prestiege classes & think archetypes themselves should probably have had requirements to select. A GM in 3.5 could ask their players what PrCs their characters were aiming for & expect to get a few answers even if some players only had a narrowed down selection. That foresight could allow a gm to prepare & preplan plot/campaign tropes along with the themes abilities& tropes they wanted to place on npcs & magic items. 5e's way causes a pitfall because the GM can't have any confidence in what a player will take in order to know how a even boon might be amplified or modified later as the player gains levels; instead 5e players can scratch their head wondering why they should go the original plan with a tyvm & simply decide to choose an archetype that ultra minmaxes anything they get far beyond the GM's expectation.

Lycanthropy should probably be a PrC & not the 5e mm version mechanics
 

Stalker0

Legend
I personally like the Epic Boons system myself. Ultimately adding levels is always going to break things at some point. Epic Boons gets to the heart of the beast imo, no hitpoints, no auto scaling.... just "here is a badass ability, enjoy".

So if LU worked on a series of more detailed and thought out Epic Boons (and high level monsters actually worth their CR) I would be a happy happy man.

Second to that, I think the 4e epic destinies was a very solid construct (which I guess is Prestige Class esque). I especially appreciated the abilities of "when you die...." acknowledging that a part of Epic levels is the transformation away from the "mundane" qualities of fighting and dying into something higher.
 

Zeta Marishi

Villager
Personally, I kinda hope that if there is epic progression, it's more in the way of 4e epic destinies as well, truth be told. They were flavorful and pretty cool. Could even fit it in less than 10 levels if need be.
 



I don't want either. I want Immortals rules.

Honestly, I'm not fond of prestige classes because they force you to plan your character out in a very specific way.
Here's an example of one of the ten prestige classes in Adventures in ZEITGEIST. Each of them is just three levels, and is linked to one of the 'character themes' that highlight ongoing social trends in the setting. The hope is that they don't require you to distort your character creation at all.

Applied Astronomist
The myriad motes shining in the night sky influence the world through subtle magic, and with the proper study that magic can be grasped and harnessed. Skyseers, familiar with sensing the patterns of the stars, can learn to wield this magic in battle, enhancing themselves, conjuring otherworldly destructive forces, or shifting the environment to be more like those of these wandering planes.

Prerequisite: Skyseer Vision feat, proficient in Arcana and Nature, character level 7th, must be able to name and identify all the planets detailed in Chapter Five

Features​

Hit Dice: 1d6 per applied astronomist level.
Hit Points: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per applied astronomist level.

Spellcasting. Add the following spells to all of your classes’ spell lists: augury, clairvoyance, contact other plane, divination, guidance, guiding bolt. Whenever you gain a level in this class, it grants or advances your choice of bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, or wizard spellcasting, or warlock Pact Magic and Mystic Arcanum. This advancement includes spell slots, spells prepared, and spells known.

Stargazer (1st level). You gain darkvision with a range of 60 feet, or if you already have darkvision, its range is extended by 60 feet. The range increases to one mile under starlight or moonlight. You cannot be blinded.

Touching the Wheel of Heaven (1st level). Different planes are in ascendance or decline each day, entering or leaving conjunction with various constellations and other celestial phenomena.

After a long rest, if you were able to spend an hour watching the night sky in the past day, roll two times on the following table to determine which planes you are able to connect to. Reroll duplicates. This connection determines the effects of some of your powers. The connection lasts until you take another extended rest, but no more than 24 hours.

Table: Planar Connections

1d8: Roll two times each day.
1 – Jiese, plane of fire.
2 – Caeloon, plane of air.
3 – Av, plane of dreams.
4 – Ostea, plane of water.
5 – Urim, plane of earth.
6 – Mavisha, plane of journeys.
7 – Ascetia, plane of time.
8 – Amrou, plane of wards.

Heavenly Flare (1st level). As an action, you can choose one plane you are attuned to and one creature you can see within 60 feet. You manifest a flare of starlight which deals 2d6 radiant damage to that creature and inflicts an additional effect based on the plane you chose. The damage increases to 3d6 if your character level is 11 or higher, and 4d6 at level 17 or higher. A saving throw against your spell DC negates the damage and extra effect. The type of saving throw depends on which plane you choose.

{Table won't format well. Here's an excerpt:}

* Jiese: (Dex save) The target catches on fire. A creature that is on fire take 1d10 fire damage at the end of each of its turns until it spends an action to put itself out. The damage increases 2d10 when you reach 17th level.
* Caeloon: (Dex save) Erratic winds impose disadvantage on the target’s attack rolls until the end of your next turn.
* Av: (Wis save) The target is charmed until the end of your next turn.
* Ostea: (Con save) If the target has blood, choose a creature within 60 feet of you to heal an amount equal to the damage you dealt.
{there are four more options}

Follow Yonder Star (2nd level). You can let the stars guide your movement and protect you. At the start of your turn you can call upon the stars. This does not require an action. Until the end of your next turn your enemies miss with their opportunity attacks that target you or your allies. You cannot use this power again until you take a long rest.

Space Travel (2nd level). Each day you gain movement options or bonuses from the two planes you are connected to.
{again, table wouldn't copy-paste, so here's a sampling}

* Urim: You ignore the first 5 ft. of forced movement whenever you’d be moved. You may automatically resist being teleported or knocked prone.
* Mavisha: You can teleport 30 feet as an action. If you arrive in an area that provides concealment or that no other creature is observing, you can Hide without spending an action.
* Ascetia: If you did not move on your previous turn, double your speed.
* Amrou: Enemies treat the ground within 10 feet of you as difficult terrain.

Cataclysmic Conjunction (3rd level). As an action you can cause a portion of another plane to temporarily merge with reality. Choose a plane you’re attuned to today. A 15-foot-radius burst within 60 feet of you becomes suffused with the essence of that plane.

When you use this ability, creatures in the burst must make a save against your spell DC. The chosen plane determines the type of save, as with heavenly flare. On a failed save, a creature takes 4d6 force damage and 4d6 radiant damage and suffers the same effect as a heavenly flare of that plane. A creature that succeeds its save takes half as much damage and suffers no extra effect.

For the next five minutes, that area is altered, depending on what plane you chose. You cannot use this power again until you take a long rest.

{table formatting, yadda yadda}

* Caeloon: Area fills with your choice of fog (concealment), or winds up to 30 miles per hour (disadvantage to ranged weapon attacks at short range, and long range attacks are impossible), or calm air (makes the temperature comfortable and the air breathable).
* Ostea: Area fills with blood to the depth of your choice, either calm or choppy – which requires a DC 5 or DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check.
* Mavisha: When a creature enters the area, you can spend your reaction to have it arrive in any space along the interior perimeter of the area. When a creature leaves the area, you can spend a reaction to have it exit on any exterior space along the perimeter.
* Amrou: Creatures in the area lose resistances to damage, and if they are immune to a damage type instead they have resistance to it.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I really like prestige classes.....as ways to include multiple classes in organizations (like churches or guilds or whatnot). And, also, ways to differentiate characters within a class (since feats are largely gone, and at most levels you don't have many choices).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Here's an example of one of the ten prestige classes in Adventures in ZEITGEIST. Each of them is just three levels, and is linked to one of the 'character themes' that highlight ongoing social trends in the setting. The hope is that they don't require you to distort your character creation at all.
Thanks! That looks like a pretty cool concept, and I like that it's a short class instead of a 10-level class.

Are those real planes like D&D planes, or more like theosophical concepts?
 

The other prestige classes are:

Logos. Philosophers whose belief is so strong they can alter reality with words.
Mad Shootist. Gun inventor who designs a blaster that is shamelessly ripped from the original Metroid game.
Monument of War. Veteran who has been the target of so much celebrity and adoration that they have a semi-divine ability to evoke memories of the war they survived, conjuring explosions or instilling their allies briefly with military training.
Notorious Celebrity. You roll with a posse and can magically make situations be about you, imposing penalties on enemies who don't attack you, even conjuring a crowd to cheer you on.
Polyhistor. You study martial combat like a science, and thanks to your voluminous knowledge of fighting, you can invent combat maneuvers as needed.
Steamsuit Pilot. You've invented your own magical technological battle suit, and can customize it.
Urban Empath. You can communicate with the spirits of urban areas and call upon buildings and streets to fight with you.
Vekeshi Excoriant. A member of a secret society, you take on the aspect of a dead goddess so you can deliver vengeance upon those who would harm the weak.
Wayfarer Cirqueliste. Training with a traveling circus that embraces the principles of the courseur movement, you learn to let nothing impede your movement, and can harness the idea of movement to create magical teleportation effects.
 

Thanks! That looks like a pretty cool concept, and I like that it's a short class instead of a 10-level class.

Are those real planes like D&D planes, or more like theosophical concepts?
In the setting, you can look up at the night sky and see these planes. They orbit in a very physical solar system, and their movements are said to influence fate. Magic can occasionally let people travel between them, and scattered across the world are natural portals or intermittent convergences, leading to stories of adventurers exploring those distant worlds and meeting the peoples who live there. Inventors are trying to devise arcanotechnological vehicles to allow trade between the worlds.

Small spoiler of the Gears of Revolution adventure path:

At the dawn of time, primordial peoples used a ritual to seal off the world from the rest of the multiverse, but carved off slices of various planes that provided necessary elemental energies, and those slivers became planets.
 

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