D&D 5E No One Plays High Level?


Follower of the Way
Yeah, this is one reason why I dislike Tier 4 and upper Tier 3 play. The slowness of getting through turns due to multiple actions per character and analysis paralysis becomes acute. And I myself have sometimes been guilty when running very high level characters.
Okay but...isn't that a solvable issue?

As in, this is not (necessarily) an issue with the rules themselves, but rather with making use of those rules efficiently. Why not work on improving the player side of the equation? E.g.:
  1. Have players actually memorize the stuff they use a lot, so they know exactly how it works and can quickly pick one of their most common tools when needed. (Basic memorization only, of course. Action cards and other such aids are fine, but knowing the key effects without looking at them is important.)
  2. Work with your players to pick things that avoid the worst slowdown. Off-turn actions tend to be a big impact here, but maybe a player has a love affair with certain spells or actions that just always take a tediously long time to resolve--perhaps those things can be streamlined or minimized to only 1/session or something so they have less impact.
  3. If players cannot memorize these things, have them stick to options they can handle. Whether that means a narrower spell list, or taking specific subclasses, or only playing certain classes/avoiding specific classes, steer folks away from the things that they struggle to give snappy response times.
  4. Have players focus on figuring out their next turn before that turn actually comes up. Obviously, battlefields change, but keeping your head in the game is important.
  5. Cutting down on side-chatter. Much as I love my players, part of the reason it takes us forever to get anywhere is that we do chatter a lot. For my group, that's fine, but for other groups it might not be--and if high level play consistently takes too long, keeping the proverbial communications channel clear is a huge help there.
  6. If necessary--I don't like doing this, it comes across as draconian--set a hard time limit for turn length, and abide by it even as DM. If you want every fight to take no more than 30 minutes, then assuming ~4 rounds, no round can take longer than about 8 minutes--which means players need to be picking their choices in less than a minute most of the time, so a 2-3 minute hard cap may be warranted.
Now, maybe all that sounds like "do work to make a thing I don't like tolerable." But if the issue starts and stops at "it just takes too long," there are LOTS of things you can do to make it not take as long, even without actually altering any of the rules. Adding the extra layer of altering the rules to simplify stuff or nip analysis paralysis in the bud just gives you another tool in the toolbox.

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Out of curiosity, has anyone done high-level play where Wish was simply not a thing? If so, how did it go?
Every one of my campaigns is like this.

I don't allow wish to be a spell you just "get". It's a world-shattering spell with multiverse-level consequences. The gods sealed it away after it almost ended the world the first time it was cast.

It's basically a quest. You've gotta figure out where the spell is, find out how to cast it, and then find a place on the world that can survive the casting of the spell.

I may be a "bad DM" for this, but I just...don't like the spell? I don't like monkey's paw, and I don't like putting on my lawyer's hat every time that spell (or to be honest, a whole slew of 5E spells) come out.

So, wish doesn't come out until I'm ready for it to be in play, and by that time, the campaign is basically over. So nobody cares about monkey's paw - let that sucker fly!


Morkus from Orkus
You know what trepanning is? The thing where someone gets a hole drilled in their skull to let evil spirits out, liberate their pineal gland, etc?
I've found that handing someone a bottle of 160 proof liberates that gland nicely. Light and dark cease to matter in short order.


Morkus from Orkus
Out of curiosity, has anyone done high-level play where Wish was simply not a thing? If so, how did it go?
In 5e yes, and those games worked out well. The one time I saw someone with Wish it was never used for anything other than casting some other lower level spell. Essentially it was reduced to a suped up version of the Anyspell spell. The player was deathly afraid of losing the ability to cast it forever, so he basically removed his own ability to cast it.

In prior editions it was present in most/all high level games that I played in. Even if we didn't have a wizard, it came at least once in the form of some sort of reward during the campaign.


Morkus from Orkus
Every one of my campaigns is like this.

I don't allow wish to be a spell you just "get". It's a world-shattering spell with multiverse-level consequences. The gods sealed it away after it almost ended the world the first time it was cast.
I solved that by having multiple levels of wish.

There's wish, which is what wizards cast. It's powerful, but not all that powerful in the scheme of things. You aren't going to move a mountain with it.

Then there's the mid level Wish, which is granted by genies/demons/devils, etc. With that you could probably move a mountain or maybe even a mountain range.

Lastly there's WISH, which is granted by godlike beings. THAT is the one that can be world-shattering and have multiverse-level consequences. It's also almost never found.

In any case, if you go beyond the power of the wish or Wish, it simply fails to work and the wish/Wish is gone. WISH has few if any limitations, depending on who or what is granting it.

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
I often look to earlier editions' Limited Wish when considering what's possible through different wish-grants, or wishes granted through lesser means.
Like an earlier poster, I also take into account who is providing the wish.


I don't get the worry about Wish.

The issue with high level magic users to me whas always their low level spells.

Once low level slots stop being vital to damage, they open up to all the niche, utility, control, social, exploration, and support spells.

Like I said before, if you start from 1, a PC will tend to have a large chuck of their prepared and known spells be outclassed combat spells. And most players are too lazy or don't care enough to swap all their spells.

But start at high levels or have a caster who fully embraces spell swapping... then you get the slow turns, the rereading of the rules, the debates on how spells work, the campaign warping, the adventure cuts, etc.

Vancian magic and all its children are for reading not playing. But we are stuck with it.

My last high-level wizard knew and regularly prepared wish, but only once in about a year of play did I use it for anything other than spell duplication.

I needed to revive any ally who was beyond even true resurrection.

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