D&D (2024) Split the Players Handbook into two books: Lower Tiers and Upper Tiers

kunadam

Adventurer
Are you going to buy Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn?

Also, if you want to do kingdom simulation, maybe there's rules for a TTRPG version of something like SimCity.
Thanks for the hint, I have not yet seen DL: Warriors of Krynn

Birthright (during AD&D 2e) was built around characters being leaders of provinces, churches, thieves guilds, whatever. So such ideas are not new. There characters had some powers that would only have a meaning on a grand scale (institution level)
 

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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Thanks for the hint, I have not yet seen DL: Warriors of Krynn

Birthright (during AD&D 2e) was built around characters being leaders of provinces, churches, thieves guilds, whatever. So such ideas are not new. There characters had some powers that would only have a meaning on a grand scale (institution level)

Right, Birthright would be a fun setting to revisit. Or Council of Wyrms, perhaps.
 

pnewman

Adventurer
The business reason to split this into two books would be so that you could cut the page count on the first book by leaving out all the higher level spells and options so that the page count would be lower so you could afford to charge a lower MSRP to increase sales and profits.

So what if fewer people buy the High Level Handbook when it releases later? Adventures sell way less than Core Rulebooks but this does not stop WOTC from making money selling them.
(Some) people would freak out about a thick $75 PHB but be fine with a thinner $50 PHB and, six months later, a thinner $50 High Level PHB.
 

Alby87

Adventurer
5E creation rules are so easy and quick to use (respect to other versions) that I'm asking to myself why WotC never released upper tier campaign (T3-T4) with the idea that you can start a new campaign level 10 or more? There are a lot of upper tier levels DDAL adventures, so they can be write. DND 5E is almost 10 years old, so higher level campaign books would be bought by people wanting to start a new campaign who are intersted in higher level. New player have a plenty of adventures to start.

Splitting the PHB... I don't think it would the viable strategy. It's one of DND sacred cows, and the last game with more than one PHB (4e) was... controversial. If ever a change of the PHB format is allowed, I think that it can be sold in two ways, at the same time:
- Beginner box with softcover perfect bound books split in:
1) Start Here (Example of play, quick solo adventure like the red box)
2) Character Creation
3) Spellbook
4) Rules of play
5) Dungeon's Master Quick Guide (the base essentials to generate and master Tier 1)
and dices, character sheets (also pregenerated), tokens, rewritable map and DM Screen.

This would be a "pricey product" (like Curse of Strahd Revamped), but would be the perfect entry point of people coming from a starter set (that doesn't have generation rules and mastering new adventures rules), people that have seen/tried the game and more sure to invest a bigger sum of money than the essentials kit. It's like the essentials kit, but what you have at the end is a perfectly usable PHB.

- PHB Hardcover: Then the PHB can be also sold as normaly (Hardcover), without the (1) and (5) parts. That could be used as a reference by experienced players.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
Going to level 20 would probably be a sacred cow. I can't see people liking that, simply for tradition's sake.

Personally, I think that making a 5e version of EL 6 rules would be worth looking into. Cap the game at level 10. Work out a way to make higher level spells work as rituals. Set the third subclass gift at level 10 as a class capstone. Bring iconic magic items down from 17 plus levels, rebalance and let the level 10 characters use them.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Going to level 20 would probably be a sacred cow. I can't see people liking that, simply for tradition's sake.

Personally, I think that making a 5e version of EL 6 rules would be worth looking into. Cap the game at level 10. Work out a way to make higher level spells work as rituals. Set the third subclass gift at level 10 as a class capstone. Bring iconic magic items down from 17 plus levels, rebalance and let the level 10 characters use them.
Where the Lower Tier Players Handbook covers tiers 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, then the Upper Tier Players Handbook can mention the variant option of jumping to the epic tier 21-24, instead of continuing on with tiers 13-16 and 17-20.

In 5e, the tiers 9-12 work fine. The gain of new caster spell slots is already slowing down.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
How to simplify the Upper Tiers?

In the video, Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson present how the 5e designers used the D&DNext playtests and its surveys to create 5e.



The statistical relationship between Complexity and Satisfaction catches my attention. These principles apply to the Upper Tiers too.

• In COMBAT: Simplicity=Satisfaction
• In NONCOMBAT: Complexity=Satisfaction

In other words, during the stress of combat, especially when other players are waiting for you finish your turn, complexity is nonhelpful. To streamline combat makes the greatest majority of players happier. Think more about the choices that players make when they build their character for combat. (Less about extra choices to have during combat.)

Oppositely, in exploration and socializing, when players dont take turns and can relax, players enjoy rummaging thru their character sheets to explore what options they have and to think about the different ways to utilize each.

These two principles have so many deep design implications.

For the upper-tier Fighter: It is good to keep combat simple. But ADD complex options for the social and exploratory pillars.

For the upper-tier Wizard: Simplify spell combat. Separate out the combat spells, and simplify the slot system for them. Turn noncombat spells into rituals that dont use slots.

These two class adjustments can help more players extend their campaigns into higher tiers.



With regard to any complexity: "You can choose to use any of these options or this default option".



Note, at the upper tiers, big-bag-of-hit-points is simple but less appealing as a slog. Especially upper-tier monsters need to have interesting things to do, but each monster need not be too complex. Different monsters can do different things. 4e did this aspect well, with different stat blocks for the different roles of a creature.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Spell points.

It happened in the context of psionic discussions.

In principle, I strongly require psionic to use normal mechanics. That includes normal spellcasting mechanics like Warlock spell slots.

Of course, many 3e psionic fans want spell points. I am a 3e psionic fan but require normal 5e mechanics.

The 5e spell point system in the DMs Guide is an eyesore − awkward to the point of unusuable in gameplay. It still suffers from possible "nova" abuses.

Nevertheless, when looking into an alternative spell point system, it proved so simple and so balanced, I eventually agreed that it would be ok if the 5e Psion class used this spell point system.

Now, I think every 5e spell caster should use this spell point system.

At the upper tiers, the spell slots of the Wizard and other full casters become increasingly cumbersome and complex. A single pool of spell points cuts thru all of this. Upper tier Wizards suddenly become simple and easy to play.



The spell point system works as follows.
• Pool of spell points = full caster level + 1
• Spell cost = spell level of spell
• Each casting cant spend more points than ½(caster level+1)
• Spell pool refreshes after each short or long rest

Notice, one cant spend more points than the highest spell level available.

Only SHORT RESTS can make the spell point system work in a balanced way. It allows the number of points to remain small, and the ability to cast the highest level spells available a maximum of two times, which depletes the entire pool, and then requires rest to refresh. A caster can still rely on cantrips and rituals meanwhile.

The smaller short-rest spell point pool can even be used for to cast spell level 9 spells. It can only happen twice, and then caster is out of spells for the rest of the combat.

The short-rest Warlock class can use this spell point system naturally. It is roughly equivalent to the Warlock slots converting to points. While leveling, the points advance smoothly while the slots lumpily, but the difference is a wash. It is balanced.

The long-rest caster classes including Wizard, Bard, Druid, Cleric, and Sorcerer, must instead adjust to a short-rest refresh schedule. Otherwise, getting excessively many spell points at each long rest becomes broken, when casting the highest level spells available many times during a "nova".

The spell slot system keep the spellcasting classes balanced and simple to use. Anyone who knows how to use hit points, knows how to use spell points. The smaller number of spell points because of short rests also keeps the math simpler.

There is no need to distinguish between slots 1-5 and then 6-9 separately. This simple spell point system can handle any slot in a balanced way.

We can stop using the term "level" to mean both class level and differently spell level. There are only points. Fireball is a 3-point spell.



The upper tier spellcasters suddenly become easy to play.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
Where the Lower Tier Players Handbook covers tiers 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, then the Upper Tier Players Handbook can mention the variant option of jumping to the epic tier 21-24, instead of continuing on with tiers 13-16 and 17-20.

In 5e, the tiers 9-12 work fine. The gain of new caster spell slots is already slowing down.
Okay, gotta ask. Where you getting those levels? Because 5e is broken into four tiers 1 through 4, 5 to 10, 11 to 16, and 17+. Breaking up the established tiers is odd. Especially for warlock players.

Either way, still doesn't change that going to level 20 is very likely a sacred cow and not something a core book wants to abolish without very good reason. No matter if you consider it balanced or not, its something you need to consider in the game design. And if there will be more outrage over it or not.
These two principles have so many deep design implications.

For the upper-tier Fighter: It is good to keep combat simple. But ADD complex options for the social and exploratory pillars.

For the upper-tier Wizard: Simplify spell combat. Separate out the combat spells, and simplify the slot system for them. Turn noncombat spells into rituals that dont use slots.

These two class adjustments can help more players extend their campaigns into higher tiers.
While there are solid arguments for and against Fighters getting stuff to do in exploration pillar, and how (feat monkey versus the rogue's skill monkey), that has little to do with extending into the higher tiers; its something that needs to be considered from level 1.

Ultimately, the fundamental problem is that Fighters and Rogues are limited by being non-magical classes and there is a more than subtle bias that says that purely physical classes should be limited by purely mundane ability. Whereas magic classes lack that caveat. A level 16 fighter needs to walk to get around. A level 16 wizard just teleports. A level 16 artificer builds a flying mount. These are not equal by nature of their very classes.

Likewise, not using spell slots is terrible balancing for spellcasters. A huge chunk of being a wizard is spell management. Knowing when to use that sole level 6 slot on True Sight or save it for Disintegrate or Mass Suggestion. Turning everything utility into a ritual means True Sight is always on AND you still have a pocket Disintegrate. This is just going to ensure caster dominance at higher levels and make martial characters feel even more useless.
At the upper tiers, the spell slots of the Wizard and other full casters become increasingly cumbersome and complex. A single pool of spell points cuts thru all of this. Upper tier Wizards suddenly become simple and easy to play.
....
The upper tier spellcasters suddenly become easy to play.
Complexity of spellcasters has never been the issue here. Or, rather, this kind of complexity has never been an issue.

The fundamental problem with high level casters is the breadth of possible abilities makes it difficult to plan a game around. Let me give an example. I remember that an adventurer writer for D&D made a level 12 adventure about a temple full of fiends. The party's job was to clear the place out. If the group had a cleric? Forbiddence. Level 6 spell. Could cover the entire building, prevent teleports, and rather quickly killed all fiends in it. Quest over.

That's the problem - not only can high level casters do things like this whereas high level martials can't, but DMs need to plan entire adventurers around these abilities that will trivialize the story. And that's not always easy. And that's just one spell - there's multiple game changing spells between the cleric, druid and wizard lists that need consideration.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
I mean, its great that you're putting such serious thought into the lack of high level play issue, but I feel like you are so completely misidentifying the actual problems with high level play that you are accidentily compounding the actual problems rather than solving anything.
 
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