D&D (2024) High Tiers = Superheroes

Yaarel

He Mage
Marvel Super Heroes is a historic game from the 1980s. It is of interest here because it officially ranks the Marvel superheroes across a curve of increasing magnitudes of power.

In D&D 5e, Fighters compete with spellcasters. Most players play spellcasters. At the highest tiers, the Fighter class and the spellcaster classes roughly balance with each other with regard to combat encounters. But they dramatically imbalance with each other in noncombat encounters, including social encounters and exploration encounters. The abundance of options that spell effects make possible, grants spellcasters extraordinary control over the adventure narrative. Often, spellcasters can pick a scenario of their own choosing, and whether a combat can happen or not. The Fighter class lacks this kind of narrative control.

A main solution is to grant the Fighter class more "Martial magic" at the highest tiers. These superhuman powers are less necessary for Fighter combat, which is already superhuman, but are necessary for Fighter noncombat. Flavorwise, the superhuman Fighter leans into mythic warriors like Hercules, wuxia warriors of various schools, and superheroes like Iron Man and Spiderman. How much power should the Fighter class be able to have? What kinds of powers should the Fighter gain? This is where the comparison with superheroes serves as a convenient point of reference.

I am torn between two approaches: column (1) and column (2). The main difference is whether the superheroes with "Unearthly" and "Shift-X" abilities, like Marvel Thor and DC Superman, equate to the D&D Legend tier (levels 17-20) or the D&D Epic tier (levels 21-24).

I actually prefer the beefier approach (1). I see Superman and Thor as fully in the Legend tier (levels 17-20). When analyzing their specific powers such as impervious body armor, flight, speed that resembles time-stop, laserbeam eyes Radiant damage, and so on, D&D seems able to approximate all of these effects via high level spell effects, especially if new spells get added to the game.

As of now, only about 5% of D&D 5e players ever reach the upper tiers: "Grandmaster" (levels 13−16) and "Legend" (levels 17−20). I suspect, if D&D 5e embraces the fact that these are the "superhero tiers", and sells them as such, many more players will enjoy these upper tiers to make superhero characters for a superhero game. When everyone clearly understands that a high-tier Fighter is a superhero, the Fighter class will do fine in comparison to spellcasters.

I also add a second approach in column (2). It is the same idea the high tiers are superheroes. But it stretches out the Marvel Super Heroes rankings, so the most powerful superheroes are Epic rather than Legend. (At the lowest tier, it is moreorless relative whether to define the Student tier levels 1−4 as "Poor" or "Good", when comparing it to the superheroes.) For me the main appeal of the stretched column (2), is the curve of increasing magnitude is smoother. This means, if one character is 10 times stronger than an other character, there is a clearer sense of which levels their respective powers belong to. Other players might appreciate the second column (2) as a less magical approach, where the extremes of the superhero genre get pushed farther away into higher levels − farther away from the Tolkienesque low tiers.

The Tolkien flavor mainly corresponds to the Professional tier (levels 5−8) with the Master tier (levels 9−12) as the upper cap, not including Gandalf if an NPC.

Using either column, a superhero like the "Amazing" Spiderman corresponds to the D&D 5e Grandmaster tier (levels 13−16). But the implications of whether Superman is Legend or Epic might require pushing some official D&D spells up higher into Epic tier levels.

I prefer the column (1), and D&D is a full-on superhero game at the higher tiers. But the slower steadier approach (2) is worth considering.


D&D 5e Tiers (Levels)MARVEL SUPER HEROES (1)MARVEL SUPER HEROES (2)
Zero (0)[4.0] Poor (4)
Zero (0)[5.0]
Zero (0)Shift-0 (0)[6.3] Typical (6)
Zero (0)Feeble (2)[7.9]
Student (1−2)Poor (4)[10] Good (10)
Student (3−4)Typical (6)[13]
Professional (5−6)Good (10)[16]
Professional (7−8)Excellent (20)[20] Excellent (20)
Master (9−10)Remarkable (30)[25]
Master (11−12)Incredible (40)[32] Remarkable (30)
Grandmaster (13−14)Amazing (50)[40] Incredible (40)
Grandmaster (15−16)Monstrous (75)[50] Amazing (50)
Legend (17−18)Unearthly (100)[63]
Legend (19−20)Shift-X (150)[79] Monstrous (75)
Epic (21−22)Shift-Y (200)[100] Unearthly (100)
Epic (23−24)Shift-Z (500)[130]
Epic (25−26)Class-1000 (1000)[160] Shift-X (150)
Epic (27−28)Class-3000 (3000)[200] Shift-Y (200)
Epic (29−30)Class-5000 (5000)[250]
Epic (31−32)Beyond (∞)[320]
Epic (33−34)[400]
Epic (35−36)[500] Shift-Z (500)
Epic (37−38)[630]
Epic (39−40)[790]
Epic (41−42)[1000] Class-1000 (1000)


Here is the famous table for the "faserip" system.

Marvel Superhero Universal.png



And for points of reference, here are examples of specific superhero characters.

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-4-r.jpg?resize=616%2C504&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-5-r.jpg?resize=616%2C489&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-3-r.jpg?resize=616%2C502&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-1-r.jpg?resize=616%2C496&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-5-r.jpg?resize=616%2C489&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/waynesbooks.games/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/msh-basic-revised-character-cards-6-r.jpg?resize=616%2C488&ssl=1
 
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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I copied this from a D20 to MSH conversion for 3e, it might still be useful
D20 Ability Score - MSH Ability Rank
3-5 Feeble (2)
6-9 Poor (4)
10-11 (+0) Typical (6)
12-15 (+1 to +2) Good (10)
16-19 (+3 to +4) Excellent (20)
20-23 (+5 to +6) Remarkable (30)
24-29 (+7 to +9) Incredible (40)
30-39 (+10 to +15) Amazing (50)
40-49 (+16 to +20) Monstrous (75)
50-59 (+21 to +25) Unearthly (100)

not sure what to do given 5e caps
 

The high level fighter ( or Captain America) is standing in front of the King with the rest of his party, what are your expectations of his possibilities?

Same thing the on the sea side, his party need to travel oversea, what do you want Hawkeye the fighter to do?
 
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I would go with Unearthly and/or Shift-X being epic tier or beyond epic tier. Characters like Thor and Superman are made to be the top of the top of the top of the charts.

Legends is for the folks below that, like most other Asgaurdains or Krytonian "hero" types.

You might note....unlike D&D....Marvel heroes have a mix of powers and skills, beyond just pure combat. Captain America has total recall and lots of intelligence skills, plus a ton of military skills. Even Hawkeye has plenty of things like leadership.

But A lot of the other 'magic' characters...that have powers have fewer skills and such.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
The high level fighter ( or Captain America) is standing in front of the King with the rest of his party, what are your expectations of his possibilities?

Same thing the on the sea side, his party need to travel oversea, what do you want him to do?

Tactician’s Insight. After the hero has observed or interacted with a creature for 1 minute, he learns whether or not it has higher, equal or lower Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma scores than him. In addition, he learns if the target has more or fewer class levels than him.

Heroic Aura - the Heroic Fighter exudes mighty prowess and inspires trust and confidence in others. He gains advantage on all persuasion and intimidation checks and is treated with a measure of respect wherever he goes.

Leaders Speech - The Heroic Leader can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by the Wisdom (Insight) check of a creature that can understand what he says during 1 minute of talking. On a success, as long as the hero remains within 60 feet of it the creature will have a friendly attitude towards him.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
I copied this from a D20 to MSH conversion for 3e, it might still be useful
D20 Ability Score - MSH Ability Rank
3-5 Feeble (2)
6-9 Poor (4)
10-11 (+0) Typical (6)
12-15 (+1 to +2) Good (10)
16-19 (+3 to +4) Excellent (20)
20-23 (+5 to +6) Remarkable (30)
24-29 (+7 to +9) Incredible (40)
30-39 (+10 to +15) Amazing (50)
40-49 (+16 to +20) Monstrous (75)
50-59 (+21 to +25) Unearthly (100)

not sure what to do given 5e caps
Yeah, the 5e "bounded accuracy" would never add these kinds of bonuses to Attack Rolls.

But, because 5e does separate Attacks from Ability (Skill) Checks, superhuman skills are possible. For example, a Grandmaster Fighter (levels 13−16) with "Amazing" Strength might have a feature that allows the ability to lift a weight of "50 tons". This is something like ten elephants.
 
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Amrûnril

Adventurer
I can't speak to the Marvel side of the comparison with much expertise, but I think this tiering system significantly understates the expected power/significance of 5e characters. The "official" tiers described in the PHB and DMG are:

Local Heroes (Levels 1-4)
Heroes of the Realm (Levels 5-10)
Masters of the Realm (Levels 11-16)
Masters of the World (Levels 17-20)
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I can't speak to the Marvel side of the comparison with much expertise, but I think this tiering system significantly understates the expected power/significance of 5e characters. The "official" tiers described in the PHB and DMG are:

Local Heroes (Levels 1-4)
Heroes of the Realm (Levels 5-10)
Masters of the Realm (Levels 11-16)
Masters of the World (Levels 17-20)
As a rule of thumb:

Fame = 10^level/2


For example:

When level = 12:

Fame = 10^ (12/2) = 10^6 = 1,000,000

So, when at the Master tier at level 12, about a million people know who this person is. This is the contemporary population of a large cosmopolitan city or a small nation.


With a Grandmaster at level 16, about a 100,000,000 people are familiar. This is fame across a very large nation.

Note, at Legend level 17, the fame is among roughly 320,000,000 persons (10^8.5). Consider how in reallife year 1000, the entire human species might have a global population of about 275,000,000. The Legend tier correlates with fame across other planes and planets as well, and the populations there.


When referring to the "Masters of the Realm", it doesnt necessarily mean the leaders of a realm. It does mean celebrity (or notorious villain). It could be celebrated sports hero, like knight who wins many swordfighting contests, and is the "master of the sport", known by many. It can also mean, the leaders of a realm. If the players are ambitious in this way, the DM should encourage it. Then use the fame to determine the scale of the political game.
 

le Redoutable

Ich bin El Glouglou :)
about Thor : Mjolnir is ranked CL3000 ( Uru ) ( while Adamantium is ranked CL1000 )
Superman has got Invulnerability ( CL1000 )
Thor has got Unearthly Fighting
Cap America has ( as is seen in your photos ) Amazing Fighting
( bizarre ) I thought The Hulk was ranked Remarkable Fighting ( and I thought Cap America was ranked like Thor's Fighting )
 


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