Split the Players Handbook into two books: Lower Tiers and Upper Tiers

d24454_modern

Explorer
By the way, there is a difference between a historically accurate Alexander the Great who is a successful military tactician versus a mythologically accurate Alexander the Great who is a Greek demigod.

The mythological Alexander is an excellent example for the Upper Tier Players Handbook. Having become king by the end of the lower tiers, he now seeks to change the known world. Eventually gaining demigod status at 16-20 and epic status at 21-24.
I don’t know why people assume all you have to do to become a god is get to level 21. Real Demigods are way stronger than that.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I never found high level 1e or 2e to strain, like you describe.
In 1e-2e, the inferiority of the Wizard (Magic-User) at the 1-4 tier, and the superiority of the Wizard at the 13-16 tier, are an example of "strain".

Different kinds of mechanics doing different kinds of things compared less favorably at different levels.
 

the Jester

Legend
In 1e-2e, the inferiority of the Wizard (Magic-User) at the 1-4 tier, and the superiority of the Wizard at the 13-16 tier, are an example of "strain".

Different kinds of mechanics doing different kinds of things compared less favorably at different levels.
That's the nature of 1e, though- it's very intentional. I guess you can call that strain if you want to. I never found it ruinous; a magic-user player, like a thief player, generally knew what they were in for and was ready for it. And remember, a high level magic-user in 1e is going to have on the order of 25-40 hit points. They're extremely vulnerable even when very high level. I think my 37th level MU had around 50 hit points. Remember, it's +1 hp per level above 11, and a max Con bonus of +2 for non-fighters.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don’t know people assume all you have to do to become a god is get to level 21. Real Demigods are way stronger than that.
Becoming a god that gains polytheistic worshipers is only one of the possible ways of gaining immortality at level 17. One might become an archfey, a lich, an elemental, a construct, a supersoldier: 4e has many epic destinies to choose from. 5e can add more.

Lolth exemplifies an upper tier character. Something like at level 17 she became a demon, and at level 21 she gained the Spider domain in her "portfolio". At later level, her portfolio acquires the Trickery domain, which comes with the flavor of entangling victims within her web of lies. The community that she formed during the low tiers expanded as she further transformed it during higher tiers. Like how some spider hatchlings eat each other, her treacherous drow followers kill each other so only the strong survive.

Basic D&D has the religiously agnostic mechanic of becoming an "immortal". This is a being of cosmic power. Cultures may or may not perceive such a being as a "god". It could be a powerful nature being or like Star Trek Q or so on.

An immortal at tiers 17-20 and 21-24 can exist in the Eberron setting. Different communities would perceive such a character differently, from different cultural perspectives.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I greatly endorse this plan.

It makes it much easier to understand that low level and high level games are different animals. It keeps three nice tiers per that have a nice identity to each.

Heck you could call the first book "Dungeons & Dragons" and the second one "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" - and it doesn't have to be just the PHB. You could do the standard 3 core books for each. Even put them both into slipcase sets. They could be thinner than current books (but not HALF as thin, because you'd want MORE material for each book, not less).

You could go pretty gonzo with the higher level stuff, too.

PLUS, you could put out the simple missions-type adventures for the first set and the more earth-shattering plotlines for the second. Heck, some SETTINGS (Like Dark Sun and Planescape) might work better as "AD&D" settings.

Everything winds up with more unique identities. I like it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I like the concept, but I would move the bar. The first book needs material on how to play the game, what skills are, how to do combat and a bunch of stuff that the higher level book does not need. The lower level book also needs to be as low a barrier-to-entry for new players as possible. So I'd have the low level book be 1st to 8th. 4th level spells are pretty cool and are half the spell lists, there's a good runway to plan ahead, but it is leaving out a lot of things that aren't needed for new players.

8th was picked so (a) it doesn't end as soon as you get 4th level spels and the like, and so that they can include "8th level+ feats" so people can dream and drool over what their character will get at later levels.

Another thing WotC might appreciate is that since their surveys say most games go to 10-11, there's build in incentive to buy the next book for players, as opposed to just sticking with one.

BTW, there can and should be stuff in the high tier book that the low tier book doesn't need as well, but the basics of casting, combat, equipment, and all that will take up a lot of space.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I like the concept, but I would move the bar. The first book needs material on how to play the game, what skills are, how to do combat and a bunch of stuff that the higher level book does not need. The lower level book also needs to be as low a barrier-to-entry for new players as possible. So I'd have the low level book be 1st to 8th. 4th level spells are pretty cool and are half the spell lists, there's a good runway to plan ahead, but it is leaving out a lot of things that aren't needed for new players.

8th was picked so (a) it doesn't end as soon as you get 4th level spels and the like, and so that they can include "8th level+ feats" so people can dream and drool over what their character will get at later levels.

Another thing WotC might appreciate is that since their surveys say most games go to 10-11, there's build in incentive to buy the next book for players, as opposed to just sticking with one.

BTW, there can and should be stuff in the high tier book that the low tier book doesn't need as well, but the basics of casting, combat, equipment, and all that will take up a lot of space.
I get what you are saying, but if you want things to be "new player friendly" then 1-10 and 11-20 is up and by far easier to grok from a new player perspective than level 1-8 in a game that goes up to 20 levels.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I like the concept, but I would move the bar. The first book needs material on how to play the game, what skills are, how to do combat and a bunch of stuff that the higher level book does not need. The lower level book also needs to be as low a barrier-to-entry for new players as possible. So I'd have the low level book be 1st to 8th. 4th level spells are pretty cool and are half the spell lists, there's a good runway to plan ahead, but it is leaving out a lot of things that aren't needed for new players.
I am fine with the Low Tier Players Handbook only including the tiers 1-4 and 5-8. This does keep things simpler and more manageable for new players.

At the same time, I feel the "name levels" at the Master tier, 9-12, when characters create institutions and form communities, offer tangible benefits to the D&D experience.



8th was picked so (a) it doesn't end as soon as you get 4th level spels and the like, and so that they can include "8th level+ feats" so people can dream and drool over what their character will get at later levels.
Yup. Feat choice is an important incentive for each tier.



Another thing WotC might appreciate is that since their surveys say most games go to 10-11, there's build in incentive to buy the next book for players, as opposed to just sticking with one.

BTW, there can and should be stuff in the high tier book that the low tier book doesn't need as well, but the basics of casting, combat, equipment, and all that will take up a lot of space.
I agree, the Low Tier Players Handbook needs to become the go-to book for ALL gaming rules, including ability checks, combat, social, and exploratory.



With regard to how long campaigns last, DnDBeyond published this graph in 2019.

dnd-beyond-level-range.jpg


Most campaigns happen within tiers 1-4 and 5-8, with some lingering 9-12.

About 83% of campaigns end during tiers 1-4 and 5-8.

Adding tier 9-12 increases this to 95%.

Only about 3% make it into tier 13-16, but a few diehards, 2%, make it to level 20. In other words, about 5% of campaigns use the Upper Tiers.



(Presumably, when Epic levels 21-24 become default, the 2% that stopped at 20 might press on to 24. Also presumably, if the Upper Tiers include 9-12, this would increase the usage of the Upper Tiers to about 17%.)



But if the Upper Tiers are fun, and gain support, the percentage of use can be significantly more.
 
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This sounds like a great way to ensure the high levels get even less support. No thank you.
Why?

Currently, high levels in the core phb are somewhat perfunctory. Not a lot of effort is put into designing those levels, and people complain about a lack of options. Now, imagine a phb extension that went into detail about levels 11-20 in a way that offered all the things people say they want: choices, customization, advice for DMs for running high level campaigns, more high level spells, perhaps prestige classes or cross-class subclasses. That seems to me to be the opposite of lack of support.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I like the concept, but I would move the bar. The first book needs material on how to play the game, what skills are, how to do combat and a bunch of stuff that the higher level book does not need. The lower level book also needs to be as low a barrier-to-entry for new players as possible. So I'd have the low level book be 1st to 8th. 4th level spells are pretty cool and are half the spell lists, there's a good runway to plan ahead, but it is leaving out a lot of things that aren't needed for new players.
Experienced players use T1-2 (entire) as much or more than new players. Cutting things they would value could well lead to dissatisfaction among an important cohort.

8th was picked so (a) it doesn't end as soon as you get 4th level spels and the like, and so that they can include "8th level+ feats" so people can dream and drool over what their character will get at later levels.

Another thing WotC might appreciate is that since their surveys say most games go to 10-11, there's build in incentive to buy the next book for players, as opposed to just sticking with one.
I feel designers should create what best serves players (which will then sell books) rather than building for overt monetization.

I'd speculate that a really high value T1-2 PHB will sell more T3-4 PHBs than nickel-and-diming players would.

PHB 1-10
APHB 11-20
 


In every previous edition that has split high level stuff into a separate book, that's really all you got.
Levels in Basic went up to 3. Does that mean people didn't get expert and play to level 14?

In any case, this is not an argument. That there was a 3rd edition book of poor quality released for a notoriously bloated edition doesn't say anything about what 5.5 release might look like. Given that levels 11-20 get very little support in 5e, why would releasing an entire separate sourcebook detailing those levels amount to "even less" support?
 

the Jester

Legend
Levels in Basic went up to 3. Does that mean people didn't get expert and play to level 14?
Expert wasn't the high level stuff. Immortals was. You can include Masters, too, I guess- maybe even Companion level. Now, I was all in on 1e at this point, so I didn't actually keep up with this stuff, but outside of Wrath of the Immortals, were there many adventures written for those sets? I'm not aware of many, but I think there were a few.
In any case, this is not an argument. That there was a 3rd edition book of poor quality released for a notoriously bloated edition doesn't say anything about what 5.5 release might look like. Given that levels 11-20 get very little support in 5e, why would releasing an entire separate sourcebook detailing those levels amount to "even less" support?
SRSLY?? I've been making my position on this clear through the entire thread. But let's restate one more time.

There is a real debate over whether there are few high level games because there's basically no support for them, or whether there's no support for them because there are few games at those levels. The last time we had real high level support- especially good high level support- was in the 4e epic destiny system, but even then, we had what, three epic adventures? And let's face it- the majority of 4e's adventures, especially the initial adventure path, belong on the Shelf of Shame alongside the 2e DMG and Sword and Fist.

So here's the deal. You silo high level stuff into another book, and I pretty much guarantee that the amount of followup will be.... sparse. And I argue that because that's how it has worked in every edition of D&D.

Despite this, there are groups that play at high levels, that enjoy high level play, and shouldn't have to buy extra material just to get access to maze spells and balor stat blocks. This proposal boils down to, "Screw the guys who like high level play even more than they are already screwed".

I could be wrong, but is there some reason you guys keep claiming that siloing high level material into its own book will result in more support? Is there any kind of evidence that this is likely? Do you have a reason to believe that? Because I don't. 2e had the DM's Options: High Level Campaigns book. Ever seen that followed up with anything? We've already talked about 3e's ELH (though I don't think it's as bad as you seem to)- again, basically no support despite it being around for years of 3e's run. I'm arguing from experience, and it just seems like you guys are arguing based on a vague idea that a book means it will be followed up. It doesn't. We have seen this again and again.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
It's an interesting idea. It would serve their goal of trying to reduce the sometimes overwhelming appearance of choices in a single book for new players.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I could be wrong, but is there some reason you guys keep claiming that siloing high level material into its own book will result in more support? Is there any kind of evidence that this is likely? Do you have a reason to believe that? Because I don't. 2e had the DM's Options: High Level Campaigns book. Ever seen that followed up with anything? We've already talked about 3e's ELH (though I don't think it's as bad as you seem to)- again, basically no support despite it being around for years of 3e's run. I'm arguing from experience, and it just seems like you guys are arguing based on a vague idea that a book means it will be followed up. It doesn't. We have seen this again and again.
I mean, we've also seen the high level included in the base book and hardly get played or anything written for it. Just keep repeating what hasn't worked before?

I mean, I'm good with just making the book levels 1-10 ... If there are a sizeable number of people that would cheese off, then it feels like there is a sizable market for 11-20. If there aren't, then there's no reason to waste energy on even putting it in the base book. Right?
 

I could be wrong, but is there some reason you guys keep claiming that siloing high level material into its own book will result in more support?
A dedicated upper Tier book would itself be the increased support, compared to what exists in the current PHB. Imagine, for example, instead of "improved divine smite," a book that offered several Paladin prestige classes with choices at each level. A dedicated book would be able to build out upper tier play in a way that the phb simply does not do.

The reason wotc might not put out an upper tier adventure path is the same reason they are not likely to put out an Ebberon-specific AP. Namely, because making products for a specific niche of the players is not a good strategy to make money.

All that being said what I expect will happen is that Tier 3 and 4 will remain in the PHB, but still as an afterthought, with level 7-9 spells being more aspirational than useful. I don't think they'll shift to putting out level 1-20 adventure paths; if anything they are realizing that many people are only able to schedule relatively short campaigns and are adapting by publishing more bite sized content:


“One of the things that has been on our minds for several years now, as a result of the popularity of streamed games combined actually with the tidal wave of new people coming to D&D, is the need to have bite-size adventure content,” Crawford continued. “So you’ll notice that around the time we came out with the Essentials Kit and then continued on with a lot of our adventure content—even when it’s a large, epic campaign, like last year’s Rime of the Frostmaidenthey’re much easier to divide up into digestible segments that where ... if the DM wants to just read a part of this big book, or just run one of these little quests, we’re making that easier to do. Not only to make things less arduous for a brand new Dungeon Master, and with new groups of players coming to D&D for the first time, but also because of that format of play, also suits streamed games better.

But that shorter game session length isn’t just to cater to people who broadcast their games for an audience. It’s also part of an ongoing acknowledgment by the D&D team that a lot of its players have either grown up with TTRPGs, or are coming to the genre as adults—adults who can’t necessarily commit regular, massive blocks of hours to an ongoing game campaign. “We know that people with busy lives often want D&D in their life, but don’t have time maybe to have ... I remember as a kid, every week my friends and I have like our four plus hour session. A lot of people don’t have that much time to commit, but they still want that taste of D&D with their friends and family each week or several times a month,” Crawford concluded. “And so the more bite-sized we can make things, the easier we can make it so that you can take even an epic adventure like Rime of the Frostmaiden, or now The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, the more likely people are going to feel like ‘OK, even though I’ve had a busy week, I can still get a little bit of D&D in there with my friends and family.’
 

R_J_K75

Hero
Ive been playing D&D for 40 years I don't recall ever having any character reach above level 10. Last PC I played was a 5E tempest cleric and even at 7th level the number of spells and class abilities started to become overwhelming to the point I had to take 20 mins to half hour just refreshing my memory on what everything did before we played each week. Im all for WotC getting away from the 3 core book model, not sure what should replace it but I didn't like the multiple PHB/DMG of 4E.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I get what you are saying, but if you want things to be "new player friendly" then 1-10 and 11-20 is up and by far easier to grok from a new player perspective than level 1-8 in a game that goes up to 20 levels.
I bought the Moldvey Basic D&D set back in late 80s and it was level 1-3, and the system eventually went up to 30. I don't think there is a big issue with a split that isn't perfectly half and half.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
@the Jester

I'm not rooting for high level to fail. I would love for it to work! I don't see it working if they don't support it. And if they do support it, my personal preference would be the two separate books.

If they aren't going to support it, then I guess one book so that at least that much gets published (because there are some people who certainly like high levels, and I'd hate for their desired play to get nuked).
 

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