D&D 5E How long are you willing to wait for a build to "turn on?"

Do they not want to because they very specifically want the brutal low-level experience?

Or do they not want to because "1st level is the level you start at. That's what 1st means. Why would you ever start at any other level?" Because I can tell you, that was what all four of those DMs told me. Not in exactly those words, but that was the point.
Starting at a level higher than first is explicitly recommended as an option for veteran players in the DMG on page 38.

If there are a substantial number of DMs that won't even look at that rule then I can understand why the modular options did not, in the end, make the cut...
 

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I don't feel like stealing two levels from one camp is 'just fine'.
I don't feel any theft going on. The default start is the one that is easier for newbies.

And I feel that the current situation where the DMG explicitly recommends starting at higher level is a better option than burning one camp to the ground and salting the earth by taking the existing levels 1 and 2 out of the game. And it would be better than salting the earth even if the newbie experience wasn't the one being prioritised.
 

Some complex builds only seem to do their thing at mid levels. If you're going for a complicated multiclass or holding out for a specific weapon, it my be level 6 or 7 before you finally get to do your mechanical thing.

So like it says in the title: What’s the longest you’re willing to wait for a build to “turn on." Is there some particular weapon, ability, or prestige class that makes it worth the wait? Or is it better to wait for one of those "everyone starts at 10th level" campaigns to go for those builds?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)

I usually like to plan ahead a little and have a vague idea of what abilities will be gained as I level up so I can steer my character in that direction when playing. Usually I would have an idea that might 'turn on' at either 5 or 6, but might be higher for a multiclass character. Other times it might not be a build so much as a character concept, or an end goal...

egs:
I once played a Kenku dragonblood sorcerer with the idea that they get wings at level 14, breaking a part of the racial curse. (The game folded at level 7 or 8 because the GM wanted to run Traveller instead) As much as a that was the long goal, there were still build ideas that came on earlier, like focusing on acid damage spells.

I'm playing a Fire Genasi Arcana cleric, and getting a wizard spell of 6,7,8 and 9th level at 17th level was in the back of my mind from pretty early on, I considered multiclassing into cleric/wizard a few times, but it never seemed worth it compared to just sticking with Arcana Cleric the whole way. (The main idea here was to get Wish as a Genasi, but only ever cast it for others in keeping with the Genie heritage)
 

Hussar

Legend
I don't feel like stealing two levels from one camp is 'just fine'.
The problem being though, there is zero support for any campaign that starts higher than 1st. Most WotC modules start at 1st level. The only one that doesn't that I can think of is Dungeon of the Mad Mage and that's because you're supposed to play Dragonheist first.

So, if I want to start at 3rd level, say, I have to cut at least one, and probably two adventures out of the module I just bought. Which, by and large, is where all the motivation for doing these adventures lies. Never minding all the set up and exposition and everything else. By skipping the opening adventure or two, a lot of these modules don't make much sense.

Saltmarsh without Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh setting up two of the main modules of the campaign loses considerably. It's the first adventure in Candlekeep that primarily focuses on Candlekeep. The next actual adventure in Candlekeep is three or four levels down the road and would be a really strange one to start with.

I'd say that it's not quite as cut and dried to just tell everyone else that they can "start at level 3" or level 5 for that matter. By doing so, you do make a lot of those modules a lot less useful. And, never minding that poor DM that wants to start at level 9 or 10. You're pretty much entirely on your own at that point. There's so little material for you in the double digit levels by comparison.
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The problem being though, there is zero support for any campaign that starts higher than 1st. Most WotC modules start at 1st level. The only one that doesn't that I can think of is Dungeon of the Mad Mage and that's because you're supposed to play Dragonheist first.
Princes of the Apocalypse and Storm King’s Thunder both address the idea of starting after first level.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Do they not want to because they very specifically want the brutal low-level experience?

Or do they not want to because "1st level is the level you start at. That's what 1st means. Why would you ever start at any other level?" Because I can tell you, that was what all four of those DMs told me. Not in exactly those words, but that was the point.
I actually prefer to start at 1st level because its more brutal. But you make a strong point. How many people start at 1st because 'you're supposed to start at first level DUH!' and how many start at it because they like the more brutal experience.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I want the core of my build together asap. I don't like to play a build that takes longer than level 6-7 to really come together. Preferably it comes together earlier.
 

Hussar

Legend
I actually prefer to start at 1st level because its more brutal. But you make a strong point. How many people start at 1st because 'you're supposed to start at first level DUH!' and how many start at it because they like the more brutal experience.
Well, like I said earlier, there's a very strong push towards starting at 1st level. Most of the AP's, for example, start out at 1st level. And, they are very much structured around the assumption that you are going to play that 1st adventure. Typically that first adventure is going to have strong links to a lot of the stuff that comes later.
 

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