D&D General What if High Level Was Only in a Supplement


I would not mind a split at around level 12 or so, so most published adventures can be run without the high-level PHB.

For the split to make sense, they would need to flesh out both sides of it however, not just release two slimmer books

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It's something I've advocated for in various forms for a while. It's an effective way to serve DM and designer interests. Half of the problem with the high levels is not having a solid design bible that indicates what kind of challenges and narratives fit into which level brackets, and the same problem from the DM side is not knowing that you can't run a high level pirate campaign because ship travel is pointless in that range. Ideally, you both want to avoid

I would steal the classic BECMI formula and mash it up with something like E6, and then categorize not only adventures published by level range, but also supplements. You would design classes that finish inside a tier, and higher tiers would list the appropriate classes for entry, so you're going Wizard->High Mage->Archmage and so on. Some archetype reshuffling would also be helpful. I'd probably do something like Fighter->Paladin, and Fighter->Swordmaster both as expert options for example. Then I'd make sure to publish systems and tools with a clear reference to the tier they work inside of. Ship combat rules are maybe an Expert module, domain management might also fall inside there.

Individual campaigns will then target a specific tier, based on what they're trying to do. You'd probably generally start at the beginning of a given tier to allow for clear progression, and some subsystems could allow for extension beyond levels, like domain management, or you could do something like E6 slow drip feat acquisition. DM supplements can provide not just additional monsters, but appropriate challenges, discussions of how distance and time affect players inside the tier, when site-based adventures make sense, how encounter design must shift when players can be expected to set the terms of engagement consistently, and so on.


Also what do you do about monsters? Many iconic monsters are high CR. Does the core monster book only wyrmling and young dragons an save the adult and ancient for the epic book, or do they reduce the difficulty of Ancient dragons, and let high level PCs fight "super ancient dragons."
To be fair, you don't have to be particularly high level to take down an ancient MM dragon. I've seen 11th level parties just eviscerated ancient reds.


Doing the best imitation of myself
As someone who lived through it, I liked the BECMI method. I liked the fact that the game expanded over time to include more rules elements from dungeons to wilderness to domains to seeking for immortality.

The fact that it took years of real time for this all to come out worked for me but I admit it might not work in 2023.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This worked fine back with Moldvay Red Box Basic. Just levels 1-3 in the basic setting, then 4-6, and so on.

But I feel D&D has moved on since then. DMs plan grand BBEGs for later Acts in their campaigns. Players like to see what goodies are coming up next.

On the gripping hand, there are stylistic and practical changes for running at different tiers. Having the core books handle say 1-12, and then another book with some overlap say 8-18 including information about high level play. And then one from 15-20 plus Epic options. I could see that.

Would I prefer that? Probably not. Those divisions are based on my play, and others tables would not necessarily find them reasonable. And I'm not sure I would want them split up. But I could work with them like that. And I do think that there needs to be specific advice about running at high levels.


I haven't been following D&D2024, but have they previewed any classes past 10th level yet? Is it a possibility that they could truncate the level advancement while still claiming backward compatibility with D&D2014 citing that you can just use the 2014 rules for levels 11-20?

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