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D&D 5E Relative Difficulties of Advancing in 5e

OptionalRule

Explorer
I wrote a bit about the difficulties of leveling at different points along a characters lifetime in 5e. Not earth shattering but I was surprised to see that 11-19 was about HALF as hard to level as 10th level and this made me reconsider pacing in experience based games, or even expectations on pacing for milestone based games.

5e Advancement Difficulties
 

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OptionalRule

Explorer
The XP chart in 5e makes no sense whatsoever.
Sure, one of the reasons I was like "What does this even mean?". I tired to stay away from a value judgement on it. I personally would have expected a regularly increasing difficulty. I guess by level 11 they're just like "Okay, lets get this over with"
 

pukunui

Legend
The designers, Mike Mearls in particular, talked about the XP leveling chart quite a bit in the early days of the game.

The idea is that the first few levels go by quickly, then things slow down through the middle of the game so you have more time to enjoy that "sweet spot", then it speeds up again at the point where the game generally starts to bog down (past level 10) so as to keep people engaged.
 

delericho

Legend
One of the topics I wished they'd addressed in the DMG was the number of encounters required to level up by level (breaking down and explaining the chart linked from the OP). From there, they could easily have gone into a discussion about how to easily speed up/slow down advancement to suit the individual group. Even just stating why some levels need more encounters to advance than others would have helped.
 

Stormonu

Legend
A couple of things to point out:

By D&D's surveys, most campaigns last 6 mos. to a year, ending between 9th-12th level.

Most of D&D's monsters are CR 9 or lower.

When you start getting into the higher levels, it's less likely you will be facing same-CR monsters and more likely you will be facing multiples of lower level opponents, save for the occasional sub-boss or boss. If you go by the encounter building guidelines, with its multiplier for # of creatures, when you actually add the XP up, it will be lower than par-CR opponents, thus slowing your advancement.

So the 1.6 you have for par-CR opponents might be more like 2.0 to 2.5 when you look at the likelyhood that the party is facing "lesser" but more numerous opponents at higher levels.
 


The idea is that the first few levels go by quickly, then things slow down through the middle of the game so you have more time to enjoy that "sweet spot", then it speeds up again at the point where the game generally starts to bog down (past level 10) so as to keep people engaged.
If they recognize that the game bogs down after a certain point why not just design that part out of the game? Here's an idea, just get rid of levels 11-20 or make them fun and worth playing. I'd be all for a restructuring of the level and advancement system in future editions of the game. One where there are fewer levels but more options per level, and a balanced progression would be fine with me. As it is now in 5E isn't just about every other level one where you get nothing?
 

OptionalRule

Explorer
One of the topics I wished they'd addressed in the DMG was the number of encounters required to level up by level (breaking down and explaining the chart linked from the OP). From there, they could easily have gone into a discussion about how to easily speed up/slow down advancement to suit the individual group. Even just stating why some levels need more encounters to advance than others would have helped.
I found that either difficult or not helpful for 2 main reasons:
1. If you look at official modules, it's pretty common to face a higher CR creature. Recently MUCH more common, so how do you pick a mid-point.
2. With the difficulty multiplier of multiple foes, it gets really fuzzy.

This is why I backed off exact numbers and out to "what are they trying to tell me here."
 


OptionalRule

Explorer
A couple of things to point out:

By D&D's surveys, most campaigns last 6 mos. to a year, ending between 9th-12th level.

Most of D&D's monsters are CR 9 or lower.

When you start getting into the higher levels, it's less likely you will be facing same-CR monsters and more likely you will be facing multiples of lower level opponents, save for the occasional sub-boss or boss. If you go by the encounter building guidelines, with its multiplier for # of creatures, when you actually add the XP up, it will be lower than par-CR opponents, thus slowing your advancement.

So the 1.6 you have for par-CR opponents might be more like 2.0 to 2.5 when you look at the likelyhood that the party is facing "lesser" but more numerous opponents at higher levels.
I don't know this is true though it's hard because this is an assumption. I haven't broken it down encounter by encounter, but in the few modules that go that high it seems like you're facing foes much higher CR than the party instead of more lower level foes.
 



Every class gets something at every level. Sometimes it's just access to a new spell level or an ASI/feat, but there's always something. There are no "dead levels" in 5e.
Yes you are right, I was misremembering. I went through the levels a few years back and noticed the spellcasting classes just get more spells at some levels, not dead levels.
 

Hopefully 5.5/6e will do a better job & maybe take a page from pathfinder with slow/medium/fast progression exp tables along with better design in levels 10-20 rather than weighting the exp table to cover up for a poorly built level 10+
 

Nobody plays past level 10, so we didn't bother to design it well.
I can honestly say that in the 35 years I've been playing D&D I don't think I've ever had a character reach passed level 10. Nor have I DMed a campaign that lasted that long. We've started at higher levels but never ran a game from level 1.
 


Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
If they recognize that the game bogs down after a certain point why not just design that part out of the game? Here's an idea, just get rid of levels 11-20 or make them fun and worth playing. I'd be all for a restructuring of the level and advancement system in future editions of the game. One where there are fewer levels but more options per level, and a balanced progression would be fine with me. As it is now in 5E isn't just about every other level one where you get nothing?
Not entirely sure what this means.

Levels are essentially arbitrary but there is a bit of steady progression married to it.

But are you asking for the extinction of level 6+ spells? Or are you looking for the game to be compressed into this 10 level system?

Because no matter what, legacy players are going to ask "Where is the Lich?" "Can I never Wish?" "Are Dragons only as old as Ancient?"

And yeah, you can do stuff like give double features on level-up and double the speed of spell progression so spellcasters get their 9th level spells, but what does this accomplish that wasn't arbitrary anyways?

Most DM's are stingy with exp, anyways. You'd assume killing a vampire would be considered a milestone but since it wasn't THE milestone, you gain nothing. It can be odd.
 

This is "solution in search of a problem" thinking. D&D isn't a game that you "win" by getting to level 20. If WotC wants a campaign that goes to level 20, they should write one that has a compelling reason to go that high. Pulling the lever in the skinner box isn't what makes a TTRPG fun. If you can't write campaigns that make it fun to spend a year at levels 1 through 5, you're not going to be much fun if you zip through 20 levels in a year, either.
 

Dausuul

Legend
If they recognize that the game bogs down after a certain point why not just design that part out of the game? Here's an idea, just get rid of levels 11-20 or make them fun and worth playing. I'd be all for a restructuring of the level and advancement system in future editions of the game. One where there are fewer levels but more options per level, and a balanced progression would be fine with me. As it is now in 5E isn't just about every other level one where you get nothing?
This is one of those ideas that would make total sense if they were designing the game from scratch. Hell, back in the days of 3E people came up with a variation, E6, which edited out everything but the first six levels, and I've thought of doing something similar with 5E.

But there is tradition to reckon with here. Getting rid of levels 11+ would provoke only slightly less fury from the fans than getting rid of the six ability scores. (Which would also make sense if designing the game from scratch. Wretched mechanic, ability scores.) And 4E demonstrated the dangers of narking off the existing fanbase.
 

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