Books by level

What does the community think about the different iterations of the core 3 being centered around the different levels, or 4e parlace, tiers of play?  

For example, the 4e DMG2 featured expanded advice for running a Paragon tier campaign.

We all have heard that they want to put every class that has been in a PHB1 from all the previous editions of the game in 5e from day 1.  But if they have all these classes, with all of their progression to 20th level, then thats going to be one thick book.  What if, instead, the PHB1 only details the first 10 levels of each class?  This may be one way of keeping the page count to a reasonable level.

Similarly, the Monster Manual 1 will have only those monsters that you would expect to show up at those levels.  The Dungeon Master's Guide would feature plenty of advice on how to run a game at this level, and what the expectations are.  It would also have only those magic items that would be found up to that level.  Whether they seperate magic items by level, rarity, or some other way.  

Then, when the next set of books come out, they will have the next ten levels or progression for all the base classes.  The second Monster Manual would feature more powerful creatures; Mind Flayers, Dragons, Golems.  The second DMG would have higher level items, and would also go into length about how the campaign changes at this level.  About how the scope of adventures should become more broad.

Finally, if it comes out, the third book would be all about the epic level stuff.  And, hopefully they do like 3e, and make it completely open-ended from that point.  You don't stop at level 30, you stop when everyone agrees its time for a new campaign.

I think the idea has some merit, though it does mean that if you want to run a higher level game, you must purchase the lower level book too.  You couldn't just pick up the second PHB and be good to go.  Also, it would make it hard to introduce new classes, since the later books only go into the higer levels for the classes from the first book.

What does the community think of this idea?  Do you guys think the different generations of books should focus of different tiers of play, or should everything for all levels be in the Core 3? 
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I think it's a bad idea, for a couple of reasons.

First, it goes back to the old idea that characters should start at first and work their way up. Considering the way some people want to play legendary heroes from day one and other want to start with just out of training beginners, I have come to the conclusion that is wrong and the game should encourage groups to start at different levels.

Second, it will screw up the game design. Because what will happen is that the designers will focus on the stuff coming out in the first book, then once that is done they will turn to the next tier and discover that stuff is screwed up because things that where fine a heroic are now under or over powered at paragon and higher. The tiers won't fit together well and there would have to be fixes and tweaks across the tier lines.

That said, I do think the first set of books should focus on lower levels more, the second set on mid levels and the final set on epic, because that is where most campaigns will be at the time. But it should be 50% heroic, 30% paragon and 20% epic in the first book, enough epic so that you can play it, but the number of options would be a bit limited.

There have been some suggested poll responses in the various D&Dnext articles along the lines of 'do you think high-level D&D play should be different in style to low-level play?', which suggests WotC might have thought about this idea already.

It's one way of approaching the problem - although complications with playing D&D arise as you have to start referencing more and more books simultaneously. If at high levels you're having to cart around eg. 3 x DMG and 3 x PHB and constantly flick between them, it's a dampener on play. You could either try to condense the rules into one handy volume (eg. Rules Compendium), rely on online resources to deliver rules or radically simplify them / make them implicit to try to reduce the burden.

It's been years since I looked at the older rulesets, but I guess the original Basic / Expert D&D sets followed this level-split style. I'm not well-acquainted enough with D&D history to understand why those died out, other than a general merger with AD&D. Must read Editions of Dungeons and Dragons again.

Personally I'd hope to see end-to-end content in the first core books to show that it's been thought about and playtested, and that scaling issues were going to be unlikely, but it's certainly interesting to think about as one way they might approach modularity.
Yes, I think perhaps the shifting focus would be a better approach.  I would still have it so that the first DMG and MM focuses heavily on the Heroic tier.  With each new series, they could shift the focus towards the next tier.  If they space them out by a year, then most groups that start at 1st level when 5e comes out should be ready to move on to the middle tier by the time the second series comes out.  The DMGs should have at least a section at the back talking about "where you go from here".  This would give them some advice on how the game should change once they move from one tier to the next.  Enough that they can get a good foundation in place in their games in preparation for the transition to the next tier of gaming.  
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The problem with this approach is that few people are interested in high-level characters -- regardless of the edition, campaigns tend to slow down around level 12. In AD&D, this could be ascribed to the design of the game, which did not support well high level play. In 4e, this is not true anymore, yet there has been no significant shift in the preferred set of levels, as shown in one of the polls. So, if the game was sold in three books -- Heroic, Paragon and Epic, if you want to use the 4e terms, or Expert, Companion and Master using the BECMI terms, sales of the last set would be much lower.
The 3e/4e partitioning by sets of classes should work better, because it offers different classes and races to try after completing the first campaign -- regardless of the preferred level range.
I don't argue you there.  Few games I've run or been in lasted very long past double digits.  Perhaps it would better to seperate into only two tiers of play; heroic, and high-level.  With perhaps a single book set aside for epic, for those that want it.  
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I don't know actually, on the one hand releasing a set of  books for levels 1-10 allows them to focus on those levels giving them a year or so to focus on later levels, etc.  Worked well for basic, but I don't see people liking it.  I would be fine with it though.
If that gives them an extra 6 months to playtest high level games, count me in. 3.5 was not tested at high levels. I don't want a game that isn't playable.

The only thing you have to be careful with is to include monsters that go beyond level 10 in MM1. Sometimes, you'll want your PCs to fight critters of level 15 or more by the time they are level 10.
I would prefer this to be honest. My playgroup has never got past level 10 in any of our campaigns, and it irritates me that half of the books are taken up with stuff we will never get to. I would rather buy new books filled with cool stuff when I need it than having to pay for stuff I don't need right out of the gate.
I think that there are some big practical problems involved if they went that route. One simple thing is that it would feel like they were just stretching the rules over more books to try to make more money, not so good from a PR standpoint. While a lot of people might prefer low level play is it because low level games are that much better or is it more an artifact of the system?

My group generally seems to work well at mid to high levels, in 3.5 we were fairly comfortable around there and if the epic rules weren't so wonky I'd have used them more frequently. To be honest I saw more problems in 4th edition, where the combat engine only seemed to work properly at low levels and after that you were basically sumo wrestlers having pillow fights.
I would probably prefer the monster manual to include enough monsters to run games at all three tiers. The subsequent manuals could focus on a specific group of monsters such as undead, humanoids, dragons or devils. This approach allows each book to include more fluff.

Instead of a DMG 2 I would prefer a series of books on complicated combat, high magic, political campaigns, castle building, and plane hopping.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
When I was playing 2e, our games almost always fell off after L10.  During 3.5, our longest campaign lasted 'til L13; almost always we'd simply re-roll new PCs after passing L10.  We never even discussed it much, we all just seemed to know the ol' 'sweet spot' was behind us.  

Our first 4e campaign stalled around L15 but we agreed to pick it up again and kept at it 'til L23.  My longest D&D campaign ever.  We've just reach L9 in our current Dark Sun games (and are a couple of sessions from another level).  We're all anxious to move on to a homebrew setting though, so L10 looks to be about it.

So, if it were up to me, the Player's Handbook would have rules for levels 1-10.  That's what I've played the most; that's core.  I'd leave high-level (11+) and epic level (20+) for later books (and not as core).  That way, there's room for all those races and classes that have appeared in initial Player's Handbooks over the years.
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I think that there are some big practical problems involved if they went that route. One simple thing is that it would feel like they were just stretching the rules over more books to try to make more money, not so good from a PR standpoint.



It has already been done.
PHB2 / DMG2 / PHB3 / DMG3


I think that there are some big practical problems involved if they went that route. One simple thing is that it would feel like they were just stretching the rules over more books to try to make more money, not so good from a PR standpoint.



It has already been done.
PHB2 / DMG2 / PHB3 / DMG3



And it wasn't very good from a PR standpoint.