WotC Jeremy Crawford Interview: High level play. By Christian Hoffer

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I gave up on D&D play past 9th-12th level a long time ago. After perusing the Epic Handbook in 3E, that just confirmed I have no desire to DM the game pretty much past 10th level.

I'm not going to stomp on others who do high level play, but I'll pass on any such books and content myself.
So you looked a poorly written book for levels 21+ and determined from that broken book that levels 10+ are bad?
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I would like about 1 in every 4 WotC adventures get to 20th level. So far we've only had 2, the original Dragon Queen one (not the DL Dragon Queen) and Mad Mage. That said, I'm playing in both, and Mad Mage we ground to a halt because a) there isn't a narrative throughline in that adventure, really so b) the GM got sort of bored with it. Dragon Queen we're about to restart after summer break next week with our 4th level characters. At this rate, we'll finish probably after about 80-100 sessions, and getting about 8 sessions a year, I guess that'll be in 2030...
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I would like about 1 in every 4 WotC adventures get to 20th level. So far we've only had 2, the original Dragon Queen one (not the DL Dragon Queen) and Mad Mage. That said, I'm playing in both, and Mad Mage we ground to a halt because a) there isn't a narrative throughline in that adventure, really so b) the GM got sort of bored with it. Dragon Queen we're about to restart after summer break next week with our 4th level characters. At this rate, we'll finish probably after about 80-100 sessions, and getting about 8 sessions a year, I guess that'll be in 2030...
Rise of Tiamat only goes to 15. Mad Mage is the only one that goes past 15.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
I would like about 1 in every 4 WotC adventures get to 20th level.
As I mentioned up-thread, I've run three campaigns that reached high-levels. Based on that experience, I don't think adventures are really the best way to support that level of play. In all three of those campaigns, the trajectory of the campaign at high-level became very much intertwined with the player characters. Their back-stories, their goals, their abilities all shaped the direction of the overall story heavily.

Sure, there were world-shaping (and multiverse-shaping) events taking place that the PCs needed to deal with that would have been the same for any group, but many of the adventures along the way would have unfolded completely differently if, say, the group's main spellcaster had been an illusionist, instead of a wizard with an increasingly unhealthy belief that necromancy was the only viable way to build an army large enough to defeat the mind flayer incursion. The campaign became the story of the PCs coming into their high-level powers and using those to deal with the threats facing the world. For the players to feel that they have real agency in the campaign setting, past a certain point, who their characters are has to determine how the campaign unfolds.

I guess a well-written adventure could still provide a decent framework for high-level play, but my experience leads me to think that a toolbox of monsters, locations, themes and DM advice would be of a lot more practical use in play. And yes, I realise that that's not dissimilar to what the Epic Level Handbook tried to do, but that was also weighed down by a lot of unnecessarily crunch.
 

Oofta

Legend
As I mentioned up-thread, I've run three campaigns that reached high-levels. Based on that experience, I don't think adventures are really the best way to support that level of play. In all three of those campaigns, the trajectory of the campaign at high-level became very much intertwined with the player characters. Their back-stories, their goals, their abilities all shaped the direction of the overall story heavily.

Sure, there were world-shaping (and multiverse-shaping) events taking place that the PCs needed to deal with that would have been the same for any group, but many of the adventures along the way would have unfolded completely differently if, say, the group's main spellcaster had been an illusionist, instead of a wizard with an increasingly unhealthy belief that necromancy was the only viable way to build an army large enough to defeat the mind flayer incursion. The campaign became the story of the PCs coming into their high-level powers and using those to deal with the threats facing the world. For the players to feel that they have real agency in the campaign setting, past a certain point, who their characters are has to determine how the campaign unfolds.

I guess a well-written adventure could still provide a decent framework for high-level play, but my experience leads me to think that a toolbox of monsters, locations, themes and DM advice would be of a lot more practical use in play. And yes, I realise that that's not dissimilar to what the Epic Level Handbook tried to do, but that was also weighed down by a lot of unnecessarily crunch.


I agree. It's also odd how modules are structured. Take Rise of Tiamat where you're fighting a dragon god ... at level 15. Descent into Avernus has you going to the hells at a low level. Really? Taking on avatars of the gods and plane hopping fighting fiends on their home turf are what high level (16-20) D&D is meant to be tackling, not level 7.

My main campaign just "ended" at level 20 with the heroes saving their home city. It was kind of fun that the penultimate bad guy and big fight ended up happening a few miles from where they grew up, at a location of the first PC death when they were level 2.

But I still have a couple of mini campaigns in mind, threads we left dangling because they wanted to focus on saving friends and family. One of those will take them into my version of Avernus to take the battle to the fiends behind a threatened invasion. Another will be to save the homeland of two of the dwarven PCs who had settled in my main city. They won't be taking on the avatars of the gods, "just" an ancient dracolich they had run from when they were 18th level.

High level play has to be tailored to the group, with their capabilities and desires in mind.
 

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