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5E Should D&D 5e have Epic Levels?

Should D&D 5e have Epic Levels?


  • Total voters
    120

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
I think my group would use it if it existed. That said, I don't think it's something that needs to happen. We can manage without it or come up with our own solutions.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
My PCs still gain new abilities/rewards outside of leveling, but it seems my group's playstyle is much different than yours, and that is OK. I honestly think we could play a D&D campaign for years and never get past level 5. Leveling just isn't a big deal to us.

Sure, I don't have an issue with that - I just wouldn't call it epic in my eyes or how the OP described it. Also, as I mentioned, we already have a system like that available for 5e from WotC. It just takes the usual 5e approach to fringe 5e playstyles and gives us the bare bones for use to play with.

Also, I personally don't want that style of epic or what I call mythic (since PF started it) game play. That is decidedly not what I want. I think it is fine way to play, it is just not for me.

Cool, but I didn't ask. This is not my thread. FYI, I voted no too!
Ah my bad, I got my posters mixed up.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Have you tried 5e without ASIs, just feats? Not sure what you meant by: " I don't even want levels 15-20 to be as epic as they are. " But I find removing ability score increases makes the PCs feel more mundane, but they still get cool new toys (feats) to use. If you want more options you can use the UA skill and weapon feats too. We thought about using the variant features UA, but I am expecting that to make it into an official document soon, so we are holding off.

With no ASI, you get the thrill of level advancement without some of power bloat associate with ASIs.
We actually do play with only feats, but the class features and spells of high level are pretty unavoidably epic, IMO. Levels 17-20 are epic levels!
 

auburn2

Explorer
I voted yes, but I think the real issue is not adding class levels. The real issue is having adventures that are epic in stakes and in scope, but which are not just another dungeon delve with bigger numbers. The PCs ought to be doing things like ruling nations (maybe even worlds), leading armies, controlling major organizations like factions and churches, but this is so different from the iconic D&D experience that we may need to introduce new rules, the DM may have difficulty adjudicating the outcome of the PCs' actions, and the players themselves may not be interested in taking the game into this new direction.
I think this is a really good point. Back in AD&D I had one player who wanted to do this and we did it twice, once in a forgotten realms campaign I had on the moonsea. He started running this estate on the side 1-on-1 in addition to rare epic dungeon crawls with the party. Even used some hooks to get into those dungeon crawls. This was probably my most successful endeavor but eventually in ended in a TPK while trying to assasinate the leader of Zhentil Keep, inside Zhentil Keep. I think other than the one player, most in the campaign were relieved to have it end. The same player and I also did an epic spinoff after we finished dragonlance. Finally the same player wanted to do it at level 12 in 5e after we tired of the group campaign we were playing. We haven't really went anywhere with that though.

I ran into two problems with this, and maybe it is specific to me and my players. First only one guy wanted to do this, meaning we break up the campaign and continue one-on-one (or try to recruit someone).

Second is I was not good at it as DM, I had trouble creating the epic story and challenging the player. Sure I could have a dragon attack his keep and slaughter his citizens (and I did), but that only works once and really can't be the focus of such a campaign. You need political intrigue, enemy armies, taxes etc and when I put that together it all felt rather thin to me. We did it a little bit and I had fun, and he probably liked it more than "standard" D&D even as bad as I was at it, but I ran out of ideas pretty quickly.
 
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dave2008

Legend
As long as it shows up on a book exclusive for that sort of content, I don't care.

If it shows up on books competing for precious space with other (in my opinion) more useful content, then no.
There is already stuff for epic play in the DMG
 

dave2008

Legend
We actually do play with only feats, but the class features and spells of high level are pretty unavoidably epic, IMO. Levels 17-20 are epic levels!
I agree actually. What I look for past lvl 20 is immortal games. However, I guess I am a bit confused. Let me see if I understand:
  • You want a lvl 1-20 game that doesn't give the characters fantastic (or epic) abilities.
  • You want an option to give any lvl 1-20 character fantastic (or epic) abilities.
  • So you are looking for small increases in power and/or usefulness spread over 20 levels? So by level 20 you are only at the equivalent power of a level 10 player or something, but you have add 20 levels of slight improvement?
  • Would cap spells at lvl 5 or something? Just give magic users access to more spells or something to compensate?
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I agree actually. What I look for past lvl 20 is immortal games. However, I guess I am a bit confused. Let me see if I understand:
  • You want a lvl 1-20 game that doesn't give the characters fantastic (or epic) abilities.
  • You want an option to give any lvl 1-20 character fantastic (or epic) abilities.
  • So you are looking for small increases in power and/or usefulness spread over 20 levels? So by level 20 you are only at the equivalent power of a level 10 player or something, but you have add 20 levels of slight improvement?
  • Would cap spells at lvl 5 or something? Just give magic users access to more spells or something to compensate?
Stuff like Wish would only be available to a PC who has an Epic Destiny, while the level 9 spells that are just damage are available to any level 17+ full caster of the right class.

Fantastic is good, epic shouldn’t be unavoidable. Stuff like the longevity capstone abilities are the sort of things that belong in epic destinies, IMO.

I’d also add ten more levels where you get 2 more ASI’s, but no increases to proficiency bonus. I’d still want figures like Tiamat to be a hard fight, at any level.
 


dave2008

Legend
The thread's title says "Should D&D 5e have Epic Levels?"

There is no such a thing in the game currently.
Yep, I have made the same observation in this very thread!

However, that is not quite true (see links provided earlier). There is no such thing provided by WotC.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Stuff like Wish would only be available to a PC who has an Epic Destiny, while the level 9 spells that are just damage are available to any level 17+ full caster of the right class.

Fantastic is good, epic shouldn’t be unavoidable. Stuff like the longevity capstone abilities are the sort of things that belong in epic destinies, IMO.

I’d also add ten more levels where you get 2 more ASI’s, but no increases to proficiency bonus. I’d still want figures like Tiamat to be a hard fight, at any level.
OK, you didn't reply directly to my questions and have confused me further. So what I am understanding now is:
  • you want lvls 1-20 pretty much as is, but no wish and non-damage 9th lvl spells?
  • Those spells are available for epic destinies which you get when? Any time, level 17, level 20, lvl 21?
  • You want 10 more levels of game play that you are still not epic, getting 2 ASI/feats, but no proficiency upgrade?
Fantastic is good, epic shouldn’t be unavoidable.
What does this mean?
 


Gladius Legis

Adventurer
Most campaigns through the history of D&D barely go past 10th level. And in 5e, many classes' levels 11-20 aren't exactly robust. So I voted no. I'd want classes (especially those that aren't full casters) to get nice things 11-20 before epic levels ever came into consideration.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Frankly, levels 11-20 already are epic levels. The vast majority of campaigns end by or before the time the PCs reach 10th level, and the devs have said that they seriously considered making 5e only go to 10th level, but feedback indicated that 20 levels of progression was one of those essential “feels like D&D” things.

I certainly wouldn’t be bothered by levels being added above 20th, but I wouldn’t personally get any use out of them. I’ve barely gotten any use out of levels above like 12th.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
OK, you didn't reply directly to my questions and have confused me further. So what I am understanding now is:
  • you want lvls 1-20 pretty much as is, but no wish and non-damage 9th lvl spells?
  • Those spells are available for epic destinies which you get when? Any time, level 17, level 20, lvl 21?
  • You want 10 more levels of game play that you are still not epic, getting 2 ASI/feats, but no proficiency upgrade?

What does this mean?
I mean, I'm not going to point by point your questions. That just isn't a thing.

I didn't say anything about only getting damaging 9th level spells. I said that the simple spells like those that just deal damage are fine, while world shaking spells like Wish are inherently Epic.

I said in the first post you replied to that Epic gameplay should be a layer added optionally to the game. If that isn't clear enough, it refers to something like Themes or Epic Destinies. It doesn't replace anything, it's just an additional thing that you "turn on" when the story calls for it, and the PCs become Epic Heroes.

"You want 10 more levels of game play that you are still not epic, getting 2 ASI/feats, but no proficiency upgrade?"
Yes. Up to 30 levels of gameplay, wherein the PCs are still mortal people who have to worry about eating and sleeping in a safe place and still age and (most of whom) can still get sick and die from tuberculosis.

Upgrading proficiency would take level 30 PCs completely outside the realm of being threatened by even an army of low level creatures, which is exactly what I don't want.

Epic abilities would include things like universal DR that does eventually make it so that an MM goblin just cannot kill you without getting several crits or having a magic item, and gaining legendary resistance and actions, being able to make a home base that gives you lair actions, and eventually gaining a Mythic Transformation trait, as well as many Epic Destinies having some sort of immortality/ascension/legacy feature.

At that point, supernatural gifts, epic boons, etc, could also easily have filled the role of "Epic Levels", but I'd be all for a 10 level spread of Epic abilities which can be either used in 10 consecutive levels, or given every 3-5 levels to spread it out over the entire campaign, along with some stuff that comes online for each class if the character is Epic. That way, if you want to make the game epic from level 1, you could, and each class would look like they do in the PHB, if not a big stronger, and you'd also gain something Epic and related to your Destiny at every tier level, or you could just have the classes boosted, and have the Epic Destiny features start at level 20.

Options. I like them.


As for what the last thing meant, you equated fantastical with epic. I clarified that I don't see them as equivalent or even strongly synonymous. Comprehend Language is fantastical, but it certainly isn't epic. Fantastical is great, i'm all for it. Epic should be optional.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Frankly, levels 11-20 already are epic levels. The vast majority of campaigns end by or before the time the PCs reach 10th level, and the devs have said that they seriously considered making 5e only go to 10th level, but feedback indicated that 20 levels of progression was one of those essential “feels like D&D” things.

I certainly wouldn’t be bothered by levels being added above 20th, but I wouldn’t personally get any use out of them. I’ve barely gotten any use out of levels above like 12th.
They made the right choice. Levels 10-15 or so, IMO, are decidedly not Epic. They're part of the same game, for my group and many others, as levels 5-10. A 10 level DnD wouldn't be uninteresting to us because of legacy or tradition. We don't care at all about either of those things. I personally absolutely and passionately despise traditionalism. A 10 level DnD would be uninteresting to us because we don't enjoy long stretches without gaining new abilities, and we don't enjoy short campaigns. We would have just modified 4e or Star Wars Saga Edition to fix the things that annoyed us, and not bothered with 5e.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I voted no.

5e already has some over-the-top abilities before level 20, if you want a wacky campaign with an epic feel.

Extending levels beyond 20 will likely results either in inflated numbers (which don't change the game) or in a non-practical game.

If it's just more epic boons, sure why not.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I voted no.

5e already has some over-the-top abilities before level 20, if you want a wacky campaign with an epic feel.

Extending levels beyond 20 will likely results either in inflated numbers (which don't change the game) or in a non-practical game.

If it's just more epic boons, sure why not.
I definitely agree in terms of the default game. I think they made the right choice.
If they'd had made 5e a 1-30 game, you would have to use all those levels in order to ever tell stories about going into the abyss and murdering Orcus or whatever, and I think it works better that Epic Boons and such make it so that you can effectively do that, but giving Epic boons and other stuff at regular XP intervals or milestones, or you can give epic boons as the story calls for them, starting at whatever level you want, and potentially have a team that can face Orcus before they are even at level 20.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
They made the right choice. Levels 10-15 or so, IMO, are decidedly not Epic. They're part of the same game, for my group and many others, as levels 5-10. A 10 level DnD wouldn't be uninteresting to us because of legacy or tradition. We don't care at all about either of those things. I personally absolutely and passionately despise traditionalism. A 10 level DnD would be uninteresting to us because we don't enjoy long stretches without gaining new abilities, and we don't enjoy short campaigns. We would have just modified 4e or Star Wars Saga Edition to fix the things that annoyed us, and not bothered with 5e.
Personally, I think it would have made the most sense to focus the design around the typical play experience, which would mean 10 levels. But, we got 20 levels because 5e was a hardcore appeal to traditionalism (which I agree with you in disliking, but it is what it is.)

I’m also not sure how a 10-level campaign is short. Even at one session a week and leveling up every other session on average (both very generous assumptions in my opinion), that’s 5 months. Factor in any sessions that have to get cancelled and you’re looking at half a year, or a whole year if you play every other week.
 

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