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

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Level-based games like D&D usually struggle with high-level play. At first glance, it seems enticing to players to reach the pinnacle of demigod or superhero status, with the promise of incredible challenges and rewards to enjoy. But the reality is that it just makes the game more complex to manage, to run, even to enjoy.

If you are one of those in a group that always gets past 10th level, playing consistently without issues or setbacks within your circle, just know that you are the exception rather than the rule. Not everyone that plays ever gets beyond a certain level in the game, no matter how long they've been playing or how exceptional their group may be. Most people, especially adults with less free time and more real life responsibilities, find it difficult to commit to such long-term endeavors. Others, in fact, choose to avoid high levels altogether as their enjoyment decreases when the complexity of the game increases. These groups represent the majority of players out there, as indicated by various polls, databases, etc.

So why sell more game than most of us will actually use? Everytime I purchase a core rulebook for any game system, I think to myself, how much of this will I actually get to use? How much print space and design space could have been used for more options during the beginning and most-played areas of my games? And if my games ever reach a point where I need more game options and rules to expand it, then I would purchase the next part of the game.

As far as increasing or decreasing demand for higher level support, its not a fluke. The designers know where the vast majority of the market plays. Not everyone gets to high levels, because it is a bigger commitment in terms of time, mastery, and investment. But almost everyone plays from the beginning or low-tier through mid-tier. That is the sweet spots, for the game and the market.
 

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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
If you take Tiers 3 and 4 out of the PHB, does Tier 2 start being less supported because everyone focuses just on Tier 1?

I.e., how much of this is stretching and pinching levels? In 4e, enemies that are ~Lv 30 are only ~Lv20 in 5e because of fewer levels…
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
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.
But that’s something that happens entirely separate from Level.

It could’ve happened at Level 1 for anyone who cared.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
But that’s something that happens entirely separate from Level.

It could’ve happened at Level 1 for anyone who cared.
You arent wrong. You can have become epic at level 1 at the age of 20, or even earlier at the age of 13, at level 0.

But if so, you still need to grow up, and learn, and develop, and discover yourself, the people around you, and the world around you. You still need to be a human (or whichever sapient being). Exert effort.

You still need to level up.

Only when you reach level 17 and higher, you attain the power to express yourself and your sense of destiny.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
The way I see it:

Low-tier full of mooks and grunts: 1 to 8.

Mid-tier full of experts and captains: 9 to 14.

High-tier full of generals and veterans: 15 to 18.

BBEG tier: 19+.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
The way I see it:

Low-tier full of mooks and grunts: 1 to 8.

Mid-tier full of experts and captains: 9 to 14.

High-tier full of generals and veterans: 15 to 18.

BBEG tier: 19+.

That's not the core level assumptions in the 2014 MM, at least. That makes more sense if you have levels from 1-30 than if you have levels from 1-20.

In 5e, King Arthur, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great could have easily been around level 11, low-third tier.

1-4 = saving villages and farms
5-10 = saving cities and kingdoms
11-16 = saving regions and continents
17-20 = saving planes of existence or the multiverse itself

Generals and Veterans belong in Tiers 2 and 3. BBEGs could be all over the map, depending on the scope of the adventure campaign. If it's the Dark Lord of the Abyss, sure, they would be 19+. But if it's the black knight terrorizing the kingdom as the ultimate bad guy of the game? That's easily Tier 2.
 

kunadam

Adventurer
If they would flesh out the army/thieves guild/wizard academy/etc part of those tier 3-4 levels, then I'm all for it.
What I miss now is that high level only means more damage, more hp, more spells. Characters can save the kingdom by slaying the dragon. But can they stop an army? Can they feed a city with 100 thousands citizens?

But then I wonder how fun would it be to play some kingdom simulation not as a boardgame but as an RPG?
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
If they would flesh out the army/thieves guild/wizard academy/etc part of those tier 3-4 levels, then I'm all for it.
What I miss now is that high level only means more damage, more hp, more spells. Characters can save the kingdom by slaying the dragon. But can they stop an army? Can they feed a city with 100 thousands citizens?

But then I wonder how fun would it be to play some kingdom simulation not as a boardgame but as an RPG?

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.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
That's not the core level assumptions in the 2014 MM, at least. That makes more sense if you have levels from 1-30 than if you have levels from 1-20.

In 5e, King Arthur, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great could have easily been around level 11, low-third tier.

1-4 = saving villages and farms
5-10 = saving cities and kingdoms
11-16 = saving regions and continents
17-20 = saving planes of existence or the multiverse itself

Generals and Veterans belong in Tiers 2 and 3. BBEGs could be all over the map, depending on the scope of the adventure campaign. If it's the Dark Lord of the Abyss, sure, they would be 19+. But if it's the black knight terrorizing the kingdom as the ultimate bad guy of the game? That's easily Tier 2.
I don’t understand the idea that no one is supposed to be able to achieve higher levels.

Raising the level cap just means that higher levels are worth less.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
The way I see it:

Low-tier full of mooks and grunts: 1 to 8.

Mid-tier full of experts and captains: 9 to 14.

High-tier full of generals and veterans: 15 to 18.

BBEG tier: 19+.
My view is more:

• Lowest tier: (college) students, mooks and grunts: 1 to 4.

• Professionals, experts and captains: 5-8.

• Leaders within a town of 30,000, up to a million-strong metropolis/nation: 9 to 12.

• A leader of several medievalesque nations: 13 to 16.
(Of course, "leadership" can be within a specific area of expertise.)

Crazy stuff: 17 to 20 and 21 to 24.
 

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