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

Yaarel

Mind Mage
My impression is, you only like low level settings. That is a matter of taste.

For other players, high level settings are part of the D&D traditions.

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.
As far as I know, only one page in Players Handbook mentions the tiers that way, and nothing else ever refers to it again.

The defacto tiers are four levels each, where the levels 9-12 feel − and have features that are − notably different from 5-8 and 13-16.

Each defacto tier also corresponds to the proficiency bonus, which improves every level. Each tier has feat as a capstone.

The four-level tier of levels 9-12 is important for flavor reasons, but also comes with meaningful mechanical differences from the other tiers. Significant class features can come online during this tier.

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.
I love high level characters. I like tiers 13-16 and 17-20, and want characters that advance thru these tiers. Also, I want 21-24 epic characters to be standard.

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.
Fighters getting complex noncombat abilities has everything to do with upper tiers, when their fellow partymembers who are spellcasters are gaining powerful noncombat spells, and lots of low-level slots to spend on noncombat.

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.
Where there is a will, there is a way.

If players demand Fighter class options that are more competent at noncombat encounters, designers will make it happen.

For example, because most damage before getting Downed is nonphysical, a Fighter can easily "heal" or rather restore the nonphysical hit points, in the form of morale and first aid.

It is reasonable for a high-level Fighter to deal half damage on a miss. The Fighter technique is simply that effective.

Most spells can have some kind of mundane equivalent.

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.
A Wizard doesnt "just" Teleport. The spell is dangerous if traveling to a less familiar location. Unless someone plans to start fight in their own house or favorite pub, the Teleport spell is useless in combat except to avoid a TPK at the last second.

Teleportation Circle takes a minute to cast and requires planning long before ever casting it.

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.
Combat includes Stealth/Detection and Mobility/Barrier, thus spells like True Sight are combat spells.

A "mundane" class might also have an effect like True Sight − to better sense invisible opponents or perceive fraudulent illusions.

Complexity of spellcasters has never been the issue here. Or, rather, this kind of complexity has never been an issue.
The fact that 95% of players dont bother with tiers 13-16 and 17-20, suggests there are many issues that discourage players.

As for resource management. Counting arrows, calculating encumbrance, and tracking light sources are examples of unfun resource management. Not everything is fun for everyone.

That said, it is the combat that spellcasting needs to streamline. The noncombat challenges can still have a complex "junkyard" approach.

The fundamental problem with high level casters is the breadth of possible abilities makes it difficult to plan a game around.
WAIT. You just said. COMPLEXITY is a problem at high levels.

Yes. That the point.

Also, I do want spellcasters including Wizard to specialize more thematically. I want this for flavor reasons, but it also reduces access to every spell.



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.
I like high-level settings with high level challenges.

Dont make low level challenges for high level characters.

When characters Fly, dont waste time designing pits.
 

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Mephista

Explorer
My impression is, you only like low level settings. That is a matter of taste.

For other players, high level settings are part of the D&D traditions.

Yaarel, you are wrong. My problem with your posts has nothing to do with any playstyle I might or might not enjoy; rather, I don't think you know what the problems with high level play actually are. You're breaking and "fixing" the parts that have nothing to do with high level play, and I'm afraid that you're making things WORSE.

A good chunk of the issues with high level play can be attributed to the martial-caster divide.

Casters have the ability to target weak points with their spells - sometimes its AC, othertimes its a weak CON, DEX or WIS save. Or bypass all and use one of the rare no-save spells like Force Cube or something that targets CHA or INT (monsters rarely have INT or CHA saves). Martials only target AC.

Casters have a multitude of spells that act as game changers - summons, teleports, spells like Forbiddence, Wish, a clerics Divine Intervention... Relatedly, casters can cast large AoEs, whereas martials have to deal with groups one at a time. But martials are generally restricted to what a human could realistically acomplish, or if they do have some magic, its usually extremely limited.

You need a caster to counter another caster's ability, whereas anyone can counter martials.

The quadratic wizard versus linear warrior thing isn't as big problem in 5e as it is in other editions, though some argue its still there.

Other problems include-
Depending on party composition and magic items, monsters become increasingly difficult to pair up in terms of level. One party might have an easier time dealing with one monster, but struggle against a lower level one.

Fighters have a tendacy to fall into a rocket tag situation - person who goes first and reaches the opponent first has a strong chance of putting the enemy down first. They're not the only ones with this problem,but it is notable.

Harder to plan as a DM - abiliteis that characters have make the usual dungeon-crawl, get the McGuffin trivial, whereas earlier levels it could take up more than one session. There is a definitive SHIFT in tone and scope of the game that most DMs simply are unprepared to handle, let alone covered in enough detail. Or if its even desired.

More that I just can't remember at the moment.

Now, having specific adventures or a high level adventuring guide put out by WotC or a third party could alievate some of these issues, but not all.

Things that are not high level problems:
  • spell slots versus spell points. "Cumbersome and complex" spell pool was never a barrier .
  • simple fighters without exploration features. That's either a low level problem, or a highly desired feature.

Wanting to make houserules around these? Okay, sure, that's cool. But that has nothing to do with high level play or the issues thereof.
As far as I know, only one page in Players Handbook mentions the tiers that way, and nothing else ever refers to it again.

The defacto tiers are four levels each, where the levels 9-12 feel − and have features that are − notably different from 5-8 and 13-16.
Nope! See, the classes themselves are based around the four tiers. At level 5, martial characters get Extra Attack. Spellcasters get level 3 spells, which are deliberately and quantiatively stronger than previous levels - Fly. Fireball. Counterspell and Dispel Magic.

It happens once again at level 11 - bigger spike in damage and survivability for martial classes, and level 6 spells are massive improvements over the previous levels, to the point that you only get one of them for nearly the rest of the game.

Monsters are likewise balanced - as much as they are balanced - around these tiers.

Remember, feats are technically optional - the devs have stated more than once that the game was never designed nor balanced around the existance of feats. Users beware.


As for the rest? If you don't want to listen to flaws, then fine. I'm not going to bother you with it. I'm not going to bother with addressing the rest of that post, simply because practically every single responce is twisting what I said, and I'm frankly not going to bother with repeating "That's not what I wrote!" ad nausium. Good day
 

Creating an economic barrier to entry for high level play is bad for encouraging high level play.

Most people are only going to pay the minimum "required" to "play D&D"

The only way this works to encourage high level play is if content is explicitly created for UT only..and
If all the character generation information you need for UT characters is included the UT book.

If you need both books to play Upper tier, and only Lower Tier to play Lower Tier, fewer people will ever see UT play.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Yaarel, you are wrong. My problem with your posts has nothing to do with any playstyle I might or might not enjoy; rather, I don't think you know what the problems with high level play actually are. You're breaking and "fixing" the parts that have nothing to do with high level play, and I'm afraid that you're making things WORSE.

A good chunk of the issues with high level play can be attributed to the martial-caster divide.
The martial/caster divide = combat versus noncombat

The Fighter class is defective at noncombat options.

The Fighter class is solid at combat options.

Casters have the ability to target weak points with their spells - sometimes its AC, othertimes its a weak CON, DEX or WIS save. Or bypass all and use one of the rare no-save spells like Force Cube or something that targets CHA or INT (monsters rarely have INT or CHA saves). Martials only target AC.
It makes sense for Fighters to also have features that attack abilities directly.

For example, using Intimidation to force surrender is a thing. This is a powerful combat ending ability that a martial character can have too.

In principle, Fighters could inflict the Stunned condition, and so on, swapping damage for other effects.

Casters have a multitude of spells that act as game changers - summons, teleports, spells like Forbiddence, Wish, a clerics Divine Intervention...
In principle, the Fighter can have a "summoning" in the sense of an animal companion, mount, and hirelings.

Teleport and Forbiddence are noncombat. A Fighter can also have ways to travel conveniently, fortify a location, and even if wanted learn how to perform magical rituals.

Moreover, if the Fighter class has the design space to choose a magic item, the item can do these and other things.

Again the problem isnt combat. The problem is the Fighter is defective at noncombat.

Relatedly, casters can cast large AoEs, whereas martials have to deal with groups one at a time.
There are plenty of area-of-effects that make sense for a Fighter, including "cleave" and burning oil-flask granades. Poison, and so on.

But martials are generally restricted to what a human could realistically acomplish, or if they do have some magic, its usually extremely limited.
D&D traditions are way too quick to make an effect "magic", such as healing, when it can just as easily be nonmagic.

You need a caster to counter another caster's ability, whereas anyone can counter martials.
A Fighter has saving throws versus magic, same as spellcasters.

In principle, a Fighter could have a feature that grants a reaction to try break the concentration of caster who is casting.

The quadratic wizard versus linear warrior thing isn't as big problem in 5e as it is in other editions, though some argue its still there.
The "quadratic" lacks existence in 5e.

Nevertheless it can feel something like it, when the casters have so many noncombat concepts to build a character around, and the Fighter so few.

Other problems include-
Depending on party composition and magic items, monsters become increasingly difficult to pair up in terms of level. One party might have an easier time dealing with one monster, but struggle against a lower level one.
I agree, the DM encounter building guidelines need rethinking.

I prefer all monsters are given an equivalent character level. Then delete challenge rating and xp.

The guidelines should communicate what level monsters are appropriate for what level player characters.

Use level for everything.

Fighters have a tendacy to fall into a rocket tag situation - person who goes first and reaches the opponent first has a strong chance of putting the enemy down first. They're not the only ones with this problem, but it is notable.
Ok.

Harder to plan as a DM - abiliteis that characters have make the usual dungeon-crawl, get the McGuffin trivial, whereas earlier levels it could take up more than one session. There is a definitive SHIFT in tone and scope of the game that most DMs simply are unprepared to handle, let alone covered in enough detail. Or if its even desired.
Yes, the lower tiers and the upper tiers have a shift in tone.

It is like a shift from low-tech medievalesque to high-tech magic-scape.

The low-tech ways of thinking are no longer a challenge in the high-tech arms race.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The initial UA playtests indicate the 2024 designers are thinking more about high-level gameplay.

The capstone for every class is a choice of epic boon. Each class suggests a specific boon, but allows the choice of any.

The highest tier, the Legend tier of levels 17-20, now has a feat at level 19 and an epic boon at level 20. These two levels are standard for all classes.

In the video, Crawford makes a passing remark about an "epic Thief" having played for 13 levels. Possibly, the specific tiers of Grandmaster 13-16 and Legend 17-20, are reconceived as high-level play as a genre, and the referred to as "epic" tiers.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In the playtest, the Bard class feature Bardic Inspiration improves "At Higher Levels": level 5, level 10, and ... level 15!

Assuming this isnt a typo, there are new tiers, each with 5 levels.



In the 2024 Players Handbook

0-4
: Student Tier (Apprentice, Basic)
5-9: Professional Tier (Journeyer, Squire, Expert)

"Epic" Tiers?
10-14: Master Tier (Chief, Knight, Noble, Champion)
15-19: Legend Tier (Grandmaster, Arch)
20-24: Immortal Tier



Note:

Player Characters start at level 1 but level 1 is front loaded. One can easily play a "level 0" character by using the race, background, and background feat. Then select a class at level 1.

The boost At Higher Levels happens at levels 10 and 15, not at levels 11 and 17. So the boost happens earlier within a bit easier reach of more campaigns.

Every character becomes "Immortal" or some such at level 20. Since higher levels above 20 also gain a boon instead of a class feature, this tier can extend for several levels.

I am happy with these levels for standard tiers.
 
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