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D&D General Why does D&D still have 16th to 20th level?

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Sure. I thought it was apparent that I was talking about the three different books angle.
A treatment for level zero, is easily a separate book, maybe a setting and-or adventure.

A treatment for epic tier, is easily a separate book, and if characterized as a superhero genre, can be setting or campaign arc from levels 13 and up being the separate book.



The front end costs of putting together a book like that are large. They then have to sell a lot of copies to break even, and then after that mass production costs are low, so they begin to make money.

It's worth it to make a level 1-20, 0-20, 0-24 or whatever single book, because they will sell a lot of those.
I get that WotC needs to know a project will earn profit.

Meanwhile, each tier feels so different from the other tiers. It is worth it to handle each tier in a more specialized treatment.

Think of all the players who want a "low magic" setting. They know full well that they can ban fullcasters and stop at level 8. But they want a special treatment for this anyway.

Maybe these low magic fans can handle the idea of the tier of levels 9-12 (equivalent to the oldschool "name levels") is when characters build strongholds and the feel of game shifts as a nice cap.

A setting/arc book focusing on levels 1 to 13, can detail how the apprentice tier (basic 1-4) feels different from the professional tier (expert 5-8), and different again from leadership tier (champion 9-13).

A setting/arc book focusing on levels 14 to 24 for superheroes, can detail how each tier shifts in feel from mortal heroes to superhuman heroes to immortal heroes.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A treatment for level zero, is easily a separate book, maybe a setting and-or adventure.

A treatment for epic tier, is easily a separate book, and if characterized as a superhero genre, can be setting or campaign arc from levels 13 and up being the separate book.
Can you easily write books on both? Absolutely. I'm just saying that it won't happen because it's cost ineffective.
I get that, but each tier feels so different from the other tiers. It is worth it handle each tier in a more specialized treatment.

Think of all the players who want a "low magic" setting. They know full well that they can ban fullcasters and stop at level 8. But they want a special treatment for this anyway.

Maybe these low magic fans can handle the idea of the tier of levels 9-12 (equivalent to the oldschool "name levels") is when characters build strongholds and the feel of game shifts as a nice cap.
A lot of things could warrant their own books if the costs to make them were negligible. You aren't going to see the vast majority of things that could be done in separate books, though, because the costs are very high. That's why most of the things that people want won't happen outside of third party products.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Can you easily write books on both? Absolutely. I'm just saying that it won't happen because it's cost ineffective.

A lot of things could warrant their own books if the costs to make them were negligible. You aren't going to see the vast majority of things that could be done in separate books, though, because the costs are very high. That's why most of the things that people want won't happen outside of third party products.
It is difficult to imagine epic mechanics without a setting and adventure arc for it.

I am less a fan of Planescape. But. It could easily be the superhero immortal book, with Marvel Asgard etcetera in mind.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It is difficult to imagine epic mechanics without a setting and adventure arc for it.
They've already given them to us, kinda sorta. The epic boons and such are a way to represent epic mechanics without more levels. I don't think they will make a book for it this edition.
I am less a fan of Planescape. But. It could easily be the superhero immortal book, with Marvel Asgard etcetera in mind.
It could, but I'm doubtful that they will go that way.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
No, that's not true. Each class has a different experience to offer. With lower levels happening faster than higher levels, if our games ended at 7th level, I could run though 4-5 classes for every 1 class I take to level 20. That's waaaaaay too many, and waaaaaay too many encounters all in that narrow level range. I get to fight Balors and Tarrasques and a bunch of other stuff above level 7. You never get to experience those things outside some DM fiat situation to allow you to survive.

Each class is different - but that is due to the class. Same with an E6 experience.

For me, the current 5e Leveling paradigm of HP bloat is just bland power creep.

Yeah, you get to fight not-Balrogs and not-Kaiju, but they are just increased bags of HP to match your increased bag of HP. With powers to match your new powers.

And you are hitting it with your best attack the same way you did to that Troll when you were 4th level.

No DM fiat need enter into it in a E6 version. Such monsters would need to be fought with big traps, teamwork, guile, and most likely siege weaponry.

A very different type of "high level" challenge.

Somehow many other games that do not follow D&D's current leveling paradigm seem to give people years of great play in what would be in 5e terms a "single tier of play".


It's not just about the power. I get a very different experience.

I'm sure you do.

While others like me feel that it is just bland power creep, there is no denying that there is a subset of players that really like the kind of game that 5e becomes at high levels.
 
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They've already given them to us, kinda sorta. The epic boons and such are a way to represent epic mechanics without more levels. I don't think they will make a book for it this edition.

It could, but I'm doubtful that they will go that way.

To jump off from there, I really love the way 5e handles Epic play. DMG 230-232. Most people participating here are probably familiar with these rules, but some may not be (especially some just reading). In summary, you can handle epic progression like this:

1) Every 30,000 XP beyond 355,000 XP (20th Level), you gain your choice of one of the following:
-An Epic Boon (like super-feats--lots of cool and powerful advancement options here)
-An Ability Score Increase (+2 as normal)
-A Feat
2) There is no limit to advancement in this manner
3) Your Ability Scores are no longer capped at 20, and can go all the way to 30.

So 5e's Epic Rules already allow you to theoretically end up with 30s in all of your Ability Scores, every Feat you qualify for, and a bunch of cool Epic Boons giving you stuff like extra 9th level spell slots, proficiency in all skills, literally immortality (agelessness), etc.

I'm sure that there are people who just won't find that satisfying (is there a strong desire for the character sheet to say "Level 22"?), but I honestly think most people clamoring for epic levels haven't really read that section. Not only is it really cool and makes advancement by PC races feel different than demon lords and gods (PC races don't keep getting HD and proficiency bonus--they get more focused benefits), but it's super easy to customize by simply adding (or removing) more Epic Boons. For example, I think there should be a Boon to allow attunement to another magic item in my game. Poof done.

I'm someone who actually liked 3e Epic Level Handbook in theory (in practice it was...difficult to work with). But 5e's version is, in my opinion, the best version of epic rules the game has ever had.

One thing that they could easily do would be to publish an expanded list of Epic Boons. A couple more pages of Epic Boons and it should be able to work for almost anyone. For those who want some of the 4e Epic Destiny kind of stuff, there's no reason that couldn't be represented in Epic Boons. I suppose 3e Epic Spellcasting and higher level spell slots wouldn't work with Epic Boons, but that's all I can think of off of the top of my head.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
To jump off from there, I really love the way 5e handles Epic play. DMG 230-232. Most people participating here are probably familiar with these rules, but some may not be (especially some just reading). In summary, you can handle epic progression like this:

1) Every 30,000 XP beyond 355,000 XP (20th Level), you gain your choice of one of the following:
-An Epic Boon (like super-feats--lots of cool and powerful advancement options here)
-An Ability Score Increase (+2 as normal)
-A Feat
2) There is no limit to advancement in this manner
3) Your Ability Scores are no longer capped at 20, and can go all the way to 30.

So 5e's Epic Rules already allow you to theoretically end up with 30s in all of your Ability Scores, every Feat you qualify for, and a bunch of cool Epic Boons giving you stuff like extra 9th level spell slots, proficiency in all skills, literally immortality (agelessness), etc.

I'm sure that there are people who just won't find that satisfying (is there a strong desire for the character sheet to say "Level 22"?), but I honestly think most people clamoring for epic levels haven't really read that section. Not only is it really cool and makes advancement by PC races feel different than demon lords and gods (PC races don't keep getting HD and proficiency bonus--they get more focused benefits), but it's super easy to customize by simply adding (or removing) more Epic Boons. For example, I think there should be a Boon to allow attunement to another magic item in my game. Poof done.

I'm someone who actually liked 3e Epic Level Handbook in theory (in practice it was...difficult to work with). But 5e's version is, in my opinion, the best version of epic rules the game has ever had.

One thing that they could easily do would be to publish an expanded list of Epic Boons. A couple more pages of Epic Boons and it should be able to work for almost anyone. For those who want some of the 4e Epic Destiny kind of stuff, there's no reason that couldn't be represented in Epic Boons. I suppose 3e Epic Spellcasting and higher level spell slots wouldn't work with Epic Boons, but that's all I can think of off of the top of my head.
I appreciate your enthusiasm for the epic boons, it helps me consider it.

The main difficulty is, the class stops advancing. So while the "character level" might be 22, the class is stuck at 20.

Maybe it is better to characterize epic as a kind of prestige class. For example. Wizard 20 / Immortal 2. This would be kinda 4e-ish like epic destinies. But 4e helped focus character concepts a bit more helpfully.

Also, the boons are mixed bag. Some are potent, some are terrible.

Immortality should be given for free, by merit of becoming epic at level 21.

I guess the class can kinda improve, such as using a boon to give Wizard features an extra spellcasting. I am unsure how I feel about this.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Maybe it is better to characterize epic as a kind of prestige class. For example. Wizard 20 / Immortal 2. This would be kinda 4e-ish like epic destinies. But 4e helped focus character concepts a bit more helpfully.
I suspect the best way to handle it would be a set of subclasses starting at level 21 - riffing from the BECMI Immortal rules, perhaps they could be Dynast (power and stronghold), Polymath (master of martial, subterfuge, divine and arcane), Demigod (gather worshippers), Eternal Champion (super-powerful non-stop adventuring), Planeswalker (travelling the multiverse), etc.

It would then be possible to built thematic boons/abilities so the player can chart their epic course, as well as build opponents and challenges appropriate for each destiny.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I suspect the best way to handle it would be a set of subclasses starting at level 21 - riffing from the BECMI Immortal rules, perhaps they could be Dynast (power and stronghold), Polymath (master of martial, subterfuge, divine and arcane), Demigod (gather worshippers), Eternal Champion (super-powerful non-stop adventuring), Planeswalker (travelling the multiverse), etc.

It would then be possible to built thematic boons/abilities so the player can chart their epic course, as well as build opponents and challenges appropriate for each destiny.
Actually, with Strixhaven introducing archetypes that several classes can share, this can work well for 4e-style epic destinies as 5e class archetypes. Each archetype would have the flavor of the means of immortality, some transcend the physical body, some become undead, some become archfey, some become artificial construct, and so on. Having the levels alternate class, archetype, and boons, could work well.
 


jgsugden

Legend
There are a lot of tools out there that most people do not understand how to use, but if they did learn how to use them well, they could do wonderful things with them. There are a lot of those in D&D.
 


GreyLord

Hero
That's something of an oversimplification. The Dungeon Master's Guide for AD&D 2E said (chapter three):



While most people focus on the first sentence (and overlook the "theoretically" part of it), the first part of the second sentence is what I find more germane. The DMG only takes characters up to 20th level, having no experience point listings for gaining any levels beyond that.

Of course, various 2E books would rush to make up the difference, such as Forgotten Realms Adventures, PHBR4 The Complete Wizard's Handbook, Dragon Kings, and perhaps most famously, Netheril: Empire of Magic.

But eventually, things stabilized. Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns stated declaratively (p. 179):



Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
Which was promptly undone by Forgotten Realms which gave advancement up to at least level 40....

Allowing spellcasting levels up to at least that level as well.

OF course, FR used different spellcaster levels and tables than HLC did also. Things were notoriously inconsistent in those late days of TSR...

However, even with High Level Campaigns, if we actually look a LITTLE PAST where you stopped your quote...it doesn't mean advancement necessarily STOPS at 30th level...it takes on another dimension which is discussed in the next section.

It states...

Beyond 30th Level All character advancement stops at 30th level, which representsthe pinnacle of mortal achievement. At this level, even a wizard has more hit points thanfive normal men and characters of any class have powers greater than the avatars thatdeities use to conduct business in the mortal world. Once a character has gotten this far,there is nowhere else to go. Or is there?

Divine Ascension

With the DM’s approval, a character can abandon his or her profession and follow adifferent path to power. Divine ascension requires a great deal of attention and creativityfrom both DM and player. Only the barest guidelines are given here, because eachcharacter and campaign are unique

And with that, it melds into the FR advancement schemes if one wishes to use them which go into 40th level and higher...

The reasoning it gives for 30th level being the highest a mortal can obtain is because after that they become immortals at higher levels! IT doesn't STOP the game there if the party wishes to...theyjust move onto divine ascension (at a lower level than other games have put it...if one wishes to use the OPTIONS of HLC in the first place...because unlike the core rules...it is specifically LISTED AS OPTIONS).
 
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GreyLord

Hero
I can imagine three separate Players Handbooks.

One for level 0. Kidstuff and teenstuff.

One for tiers 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12. The bulk of the D&D experience. (But with advice for a low magic campaign stopping at 8.)

And one for tiers 13-16, 17-20, and 21-24. Superheroes.

Not exactly that, but it has been done similarly already in 5e.

Beginners - Starter Set - premade characters levels 1-5 only

New Players after that - Essentials Kit - make your own characters, levels 1-6

Players after those boxes - PHB - make your own characters levels 1-20.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The reasoning it gives for 30th level being the highest a mortal can obtain is because after that they become immortals at higher levels! IT doesn't STOP the game there if the party wishes to...theyjust move onto divine ascension (at a lower level than other games have put it...if one wishes to use the OPTIONS of HLC in the first place...because unlike the core rules...it is specifically LISTED AS OPTIONS).
I feel like we're halfway to a Simpsons routine at this point ("the frogurt is also cursed") but you didn't go far enough down the page. The book doesn't present divine ascension as an alternative avenue of play - though the quest to ascend can still be a source of adventures (though not advancement) - so much as it does an end to a given character's story (at least as a PC). To quote from the book:

When all of that is accomplished, the character becomes a demigod and companion to the sponsor. The character becomes an NPC under the DM's control.

Some players may be upset that they have worked so hard to improve their characters only to lose control of them to the DM. Remind them of their contributions to the campaign world--new characters can worship their "retired" heroes/demigods--and invite them to help construct the new powers' portfolios. AD&D is a game of heroes, not gods.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
I feel like we're halfway to a Simpsons routine at this point ("the frogurt is also cursed") but you didn't go far enough down the page. The book doesn't present divine ascension as an alternative avenue of play - though the quest to ascend can still be a source of adventures (though not advancement) - so much as it does an end to a given character's story (at least as a PC). To quote from the book:
Looks like Asmodeus and the other Archdevils are going to have to go unfought then.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Looks like Asmodeus and the other Archdevils are going to have to go unfought then.
In terms of AD&D 2nd Edition, that was the reality of it. As far as stats went, the Lords of the Nine only had avatars presented for them (in Dragon #223), and only for the first eight. Asmodeus had no stats of any kind, avatar or otherwise, though this made a bit more sense with what was presented about him in the Guide to Hell (affiliate link).
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
In terms of AD&D 2nd Edition, that was the reality of it. As far as stats went, the Lords of the Nine only had avatars presented for them (in Dragon #223), and only for the first eight. Asmodeus had no stats of any kind, avatar or otherwise, though this made a bit more sense with what was presented about him in the Guide to Hell (affiliate link).
That’s something that always disappointed me about later editions of DnD and Pathfinder.

It feels like they’re trying railroad us out of having adventures and lasting changes on the setting.

These stats exist because someone wants to use it.

With how many people that like to turn fictional characters like Kratos and Sephiroth into playable characters, it’s surprising that genuine Epic Rules don’t exist already.
 

Uni-the-Unicorn!

Adventurer
I appreciate your enthusiasm for the epic boons, it helps me consider it.

The main difficulty is, the class stops advancing. So while the "character level" might be 22, the class is stuck at 20.

Maybe it is better to characterize epic as a kind of prestige class. For example. Wizard 20 / Immortal 2. This would be kinda 4e-ish like epic destinies. But 4e helped focus character concepts a bit more helpfully.

Also, the boons are mixed bag. Some are potent, some are terrible.

Immortality should be given for free, by merit of becoming epic at level 21.

I guess the class can kinda improve, such as using a boon to give Wizard features an extra spellcasting. I am unsure how I feel about this.
Actually, with the epic boon system neither your class nor your character level advance. You instead advance through feats, boons, and ability scores. We’ve played with a few time and i personally enjoyed it more than levels. In fact, we plan to do a campaign it starts at level 20 we liked it so much.
 

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