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5E Should D&D 5e have Epic Levels?

Should D&D 5e have Epic Levels?


  • Total voters
    120

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Definitely not. In fact, dnd should only have 10 levels. That's where it works best and is most fun.
Disagree.

Even if “most“ games that end around level ten, there isn’t a steep drop-off until about 12, IIRC, and enough folks play past that that it would be ridiculous to not have the full 20 levels.
 

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Teemu

Adventurer
Absolutely not. Levels 17-20 are already a mess and a half. Adding even more levels on top of that? No. You really think the gameplay is improved by making everyone even more of a hit point sponge? Even more spells to track? The game barely functions in the final tier as is.

The main audience for epic levels would be the reading audience. The same folks who salivate over level 20 abilities and 9th-level spells but hardly ever play the game at those levels.

If Wish is already the most powerful spell in existence, how do you top that? Also, the non-spellcasting classes would look even worse in comparison if you added even more powerful spells. The rogue gets +1d6 sneak attack while the wizard learns ”Greater Wish”? Lol.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Absolutely not. Levels 17-20 are already a mess and a half. Adding even more levels on top of that? No. You really think the gameplay is improved by making everyone even more of a hit point sponge? Even more spells to track? The game barely functions in the final tier as is.

The main audience for epic levels would be the reading audience. The same folks who salivate over level 20 abilities and 9th-level spells but hardly ever play the game at those levels.

If Wish is already the most powerful spell in existence, how do you top that? Also, the non-spellcasting classes would look even worse in comparison if you added even more powerful spells. The rogue gets +1d6 sneak attack while the wizard learns ”Greater Wish”? Lol.
Well, no. Just like the rogue got “cannot fail on anything but the hardest tasks with proficient skills” at level 11, they would get things like; the ability to steal a voice, at-will invisibility, Darkvision or +60 ft to existing Darkvision and it functions in magical darkness, the ability to move their speed when they succeed on a Dex or strength saving throw without opportunity attacks, upgrade sneak attack to d10s, kill any creature that is reduced to 30 HP or fewer by their attack, Pack Tactics, etc.


And the game literally functions fine at high levels.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I think the reason that epic play hasn't been well supported in D&D is less because it doesn't work, and more because people don't know what to do with it. And, of course, there's the simple logistical fact of numbers: There are more low level campaigns because the vast majority of campaigns start at low levels, and most campaigns eventually peter out.

So here's a thought, to follow-up on my previous post: make epic play truly epic, exploring new venues of play. Don't just make it bigger and badder; make it mythic and cosmic. Expand the notion of what D&D to incorporate cosmological elements.

A so-called epic book could really be about this "new" kind of play. A big 320-page book could be in three parts:

1. Epic characters - levels 21 and up.
2. Epic campaigns - a toolbox on how to run an epic campaign.
3. Epic monsters - deities, demigods, and more.

The book could encourage cosmological-customization, and even eventually offer new worlds to explore. An example might be:

The world is ruled by a pantheon of deities in a tiered hierarchy, what we could call "Celestials" that are worshipped in different cultures by different names, but essentially an ascended order of immortal beings that governs the known cosmos. They "wait" for heroes to emerge to join the ranks, becoming part of the Celestial Hierarchy that abides over and guides not only the worlds, but a family of worlds under their guidance. The worlds are seen by them as "cradles of the gods" - their task to facilitate the evolution of individuals towards Ascension (attaining immortality).

In this system, when a character reaches 20th level they become a candidate for Ascension. Epic rules continue for four or five more levels, when they have to prove their worth. Upon attaining 25th level they can Ascend and become a Celestial Paragon: akin to a quasi-deity. Every five (or ten) levels brings them up a rank in the Celestial Hierarchy, like so:

25: Celestial Paragon (quasi-deity)
30: Celestial Paragon (lesser demigod)
35: Celestial Paragon (greater demigod)

This first triad would be more traditional epic play, but expanded into greater quests, both within and beyond the world. Celestial Paragons guide and influence nations, perhaps under the governance of a deity.

40: Celestial Deity (Lesser god)
60: Celestial Deity (Intermediate god)
80: Celestial Deity (Greater god)

The second triad are true gods of the world: they guide through influence, leaving active work to the Celestial Paragons, but caretaking the world and its peoples.

100: Star Celestial (Demiurge; World-Maker)
500: Galactic Celestial (Galaxy-Maker)
1000: Universal Celestial (Cosmos-Maker)

The third triad have influence beyond the world. Each Star Celestial/Demiurge is the creator god of a world; upon attaining that level, the deity is given the task of creating a world and its system; they are the star or sun, the center of system, and game play would expand to billions of years. The Galactic Celestials govern the Star Celestials, and the Universal Celestial is the supreme being of an entire cosmos.

Or something like that. Obviously the vast majority of players would enver play beyond the Celestial Paragon triad, but such a framework is just one example (written ad hoc, so forgive the roughness of it) that could provide for different types of game play.
 

I voted no. I think 5e already has excellent Epic rules right in the DMG on page 230-232.

After reaching 20th level, for every 30,000 xp you gain you may choose one of the following:
-Ability Score Increase (and the caps for your abilities raised this way increase to 30)
-Feat
-Epic Boon

This allows you to acquire awesome power (including cool special abilities) without needing to mess with classes. It also prevents your hp and proficiency bonus from having an endless advancement.

One of the big problems with epic levels as a separate rule system as in 3e is that it doesn't make sense for monsters. 3e had to make new epic monsters, because the previous ones that should have been at the top of the totem pole (like the Tarrasque) couldn't keep up. You'll have the exact same problem in 5e if you have actual epic levels added.
 

I think the reason that epic play hasn't been well supported in D&D is less because it doesn't work, and more because people don't know what to do with it. And, of course, there's the simple logistical fact of numbers: There are more low level campaigns because the vast majority of campaigns start at low levels, and most campaigns eventually peter out.

So here's a thought, to follow-up on my previous post: make epic play truly epic, exploring new venues of play. Don't just make it bigger and badder; make it mythic and cosmic. Expand the notion of what D&D to incorporate cosmological elements.

A so-called epic book could really be about this "new" kind of play. A big 320-page book could be in three parts:

1. Epic characters - levels 21 and up.
2. Epic campaigns - a toolbox on how to run an epic campaign.
3. Epic monsters - deities, demigods, and more.

The book could encourage cosmological-customization, and even eventually offer new worlds to explore. An example might be:

The world is ruled by a pantheon of deities in a tiered hierarchy, what we could call "Celestials" that are worshipped in different cultures by different names, but essentially an ascended order of immortal beings that governs the known cosmos. They "wait" for heroes to emerge to join the ranks, becoming part of the Celestial Hierarchy that abides over and guides not only the worlds, but a family of worlds under their guidance. The worlds are seen by them as "cradles of the gods" - their task to facilitate the evolution of individuals towards Ascension (attaining immortality).

In this system, when a character reaches 20th level they become a candidate for Ascension. Epic rules continue for four or five more levels, when they have to prove their worth. Upon attaining 25th level they can Ascend and become a Celestial Paragon: akin to a quasi-deity. Every five (or ten) levels brings them up a rank in the Celestial Hierarchy, like so:

25: Celestial Paragon (quasi-deity)
30: Celestial Paragon (lesser demigod)
35: Celestial Paragon (greater demigod)

This first triad would be more traditional epic play, but expanded into greater quests, both within and beyond the world. Celestial Paragons guide and influence nations, perhaps under the governance of a deity.

40: Celestial Deity (Lesser god)
60: Celestial Deity (Intermediate god)
80: Celestial Deity (Greater god)

The second triad are true gods of the world: they guide through influence, leaving active work to the Celestial Paragons, but caretaking the world and its peoples.

100: Star Celestial (Demiurge; World-Maker)
500: Galactic Celestial (Galaxy-Maker)
1000: Universal Celestial (Cosmos-Maker)

The third triad have influence beyond the world. Each Star Celestial/Demiurge is the creator god of a world; upon attaining that level, the deity is given the task of creating a world and its system; they are the star or sun, the center of system, and game play would expand to billions of years. The Galactic Celestials govern the Star Celestials, and the Universal Celestial is the supreme being of an entire cosmos.

Or something like that. Obviously the vast majority of players would enver play beyond the Celestial Paragon triad, but such a framework is just one example (written ad hoc, so forgive the roughness of it) that could provide for different types of game play.
You can do that in a lot less numbers. 5e already gives you tools for it.
Numbers porn is not what 5e is about.
 




Teemu

Adventurer
And the game literally functions fine at high levels.
Are you talking about 5e? It works fine at high level IMO
It works, but it's also a mess. CR? A huge gamble. How do you challenge players? It's so swingy and hit-and-miss. Huge hp pools, low ACs. Everyone hitting all the time since hp are the main defensive attribute. Oh, and non-proficient saves against action-denial effects... 0%-5% chance of success.

Go epic and save DCs go even higher, which means your non-proficient saves auto-fail. Attacks hit 95% of the time. Are spellcasters going to be pulling off three 9th-level spells per day? How many 8th-level spells? How do you use CR 10ish creatures as mooks when they have enormous hp pools for "minions" and may possess innate spellcasting or other complex mechanics.

It'd be a bookkeeping nightmare.
 

It works, but it's also a mess. CR? A huge gamble. How do you challenge players? It's so swingy and hit-and-miss. Huge hp pools, low ACs. Everyone hitting all the time since hp are the main defensive attribute. Oh, and non-proficient saves against action-denial effects... 0%-5% chance of success.

Go epic and save DCs go even higher, which means your non-proficient saves auto-fail. Attacks hit 95% of the time. Are spellcasters going to be pulling off three 9th-level spells per day? How many 8th-level spells? How do you use CR 10ish creatures as mooks when they have enormous hp pools for "minions" and may possess innate spellcasting or other complex mechanics.

It'd be a bookkeeping nightmare.
Less of a damn nightmare than 3xe.
Problem is. Wizards has not given high level play really a chance. What could be high level adventures have stopped at around 12 or 15. Not great.
They gave a nod with Mythic. More could be done. And it can be more streamlined.

Which means. High level play should not just be about more numbers. Needs to give more relevance to what epic means.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
I answered no.
I consider level 16 to be max, which makes 17-20 epic. Add a few boons if you like, a few legendary items and boom! Epic!

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I mean you fight epic, top tier creatures at 17-20, you fight Tiamat at @ 15th!

Thats Epic!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It works, but it's also a mess. CR? A huge gamble. How do you challenge players? It's so swingy and hit-and-miss. Huge hp pools, low ACs. Everyone hitting all the time since hp are the main defensive attribute. Oh, and non-proficient saves against action-denial effects... 0%-5% chance of success.

Go epic and save DCs go even higher, which means your non-proficient saves auto-fail. Attacks hit 95% of the time. Are spellcasters going to be pulling off three 9th-level spells per day? How many 8th-level spells? How do you use CR 10ish creatures as mooks when they have enormous hp pools for "minions" and may possess innate spellcasting or other complex mechanics.

It'd be a bookkeeping nightmare.
You are making a lot of assumptions about how epic levels would even work.

The prof numbers don’t necessarily need to go up, for a start.

The game could already use, at all levels, optional rules for mooks to make sure that they die as easily as they’re supposed to, so that isn’t even a change, but there are also plenty of CR 10 enemies without Spellcasting.
The rest just comes across as having had a bad experience or heard about bad experiences, and extrapolated those to a general case.
 

ardoughter

Adventurer
I would be another vote for more material for levels 17 to 20+, and reckon epic boons are good start. I am not sure I want to see high level adventure paths but modules that could be added onto after the current adventure parts. Stuff one could adapt into existing campaigns and use as a source of ideas.
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Level 20 is pretty epic on its own, and if you need more use the Epic Boons. Or just multiclass beyond level 20 or something.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
5E should have been built from the ground up with the 1-20 progression it has (or something like it), and another 10 levels of Epic progression - possibly in a 4E-ish Epic Destiny or Paragon Path-type fashion. However, it wasn't, and fitting this in mechanically now, without making the game pretty messy, and making 20+ play rather dull or silly, would be rather tricky. Not impossible. Tricky.
I'm going to go out on a limb, and say... honestly, it sounds to me like the level and style of play desired here really requires a different ruleset - the mechanics of 5e were not built for it, and are not well-suited to it... and if you tried to include it in the design from the beginning, the play experience of levels 1-20 would have suffered.

No ruleset does everything well - they all have their limits of power and genre in which they work well, outside of which they work less well (to downright poorly).
 



Teemu

Adventurer
You are making a lot of assumptions about how epic levels would even work.

The prof numbers don’t necessarily need to go up, for a start.

The game could already use, at all levels, optional rules for mooks to make sure that they die as easily as they’re supposed to, so that isn’t even a change, but there are also plenty of CR 10 enemies without Spellcasting.
The rest just comes across as having had a bad experience or heard about bad experiences, and extrapolated those to a general case.
Check the CR 9-11 creatures. They all have well over 100 hp and can make 2-3 attacks. Mooks with several attacks and 100+ hp? A bookkeeping nightmare.

I’ve run a game at tier 4. It’s a mess. The saving throw issue is real, and it’s awful to have a player taken out for several rounds by a stun or incapacitate because they have a 0-10% chance of success. Massive hp pools everywhere, just bags of hp since that becomes the main defense as opposed to AC.

I can do epic boons, or not advancing numbers. But then how is that different from what we already have?
 

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