Players Handbooks (Heroic, Paragon & Epic Tier Books)

Ok this may draw allot of controversy or not, but what the heck.  Here we go...

PLAYERS HANDBOOKS  Notice I said Players Handbooks.
Since WotC is heading in a new old style direction with the edition, I would love to see 3 Players Handbooks.  One for each Tier as used in 4th edition.  Similar to the old D&D Basic Edition book.

D&D Basic Rules Book (Levels 1 - 3)
D&D Expert Rules Book (Levels 3 - 14)
D&D Companion Rules Book (Levels 15 - 25)
D&D Masters Rules Book (Levels 26 - 36)
D&D Immortal Rules Book (Beyond Levels)

Except that there would just be 3 Players Handbooks.

D&D Heroic Players Handbook (Levels 1 - 10)
D&D Paragon Players Handbook (Levels 11 - 20)
D&D Epic Players Handbook (Levels 21 - 30)

     Now I know that some people would not like to buy three players handbooks.  I just think that it will allow for more in depth thought about the different tier levels and cause better balance at the higher levels if each tier had seperate rules to govern that tier as they did in the D&D Basic edition.
     Instead of just packing it all into one single players handbook, spread it out among three and focus on a different style of character creation and game play at the different levels of the game.  Also, if your group just enjoys playing the Heroic Tier game play style, this will allow you to just play up there not worrying about leveling anymore past 10th level and just letting the roleplaying aspect take over in your DM's campaign he has taken.
      If your group decides to move up, great.  Get the next books and begin play at the higher levels.  If not, stick with what you like best.  If you want to just play Epic levels, skip right to character creation and game play in the Epic Players Handbook.

I just think that this might be an easier way for WotC to balance out the game at the higher levels.

Now I know that I am going to get blasted allot for this, but that is ok.  I can take it.

Post your thoughts???  Also, what editions of D&D you have played?   

I have no problem at all with your suggestion to split the PHBs. The only issue I could see is the introduction of new races/classes. If they launched the PHB I with the intent of displaying all of the PCs' options up through the next tier, they would have to include every race and class in that book. Otherwise, they would have to release splats that introduced more races/classes, and the point of the split PHB series would be rather moot. 
I would personally prefer one Player's Handbook, levels 1-20. I don't like (or use) Paragon/Epic content. If people want that ultra high level "I'm so damn powerful, nothing can stop me but the gods" kind of play, that's what modules are for. It doesn't belong in a core rule book.
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
i'd rather them just stick as much of the game into 1 PHB as they can. i'd rather have one 500 page book than three 250 page books.  
i'd rather them just stick as much of the game into 1 PHB as they can. i'd rather have one 500 page book than three 250 page books.  




Completely agree.  I wouldn't mind seeing a DMG and MM teaser in the phb either.  Small books with large fonts to spread out pages does little to persuade me to buy.
On one hand, I can understand wanting the traditional 3-core books (PHB/DMG/MM), for financial reasons amongst many others.  However, I think splitting along the lines of Heroic/Paragon/Epic is really a brilliant thing to do.  Like the WotC people have said themselves, about a third of players stay at Heroic, about a third move on to Paragon and about a third move on to Epic.  So, you've got diminishing returns of usefulness and that means at it's core - you don't need anything from each tier in the other tiers.
Of course, you do need races/classes/backgrounds/specialties in each tier, but you don't need the Paragon or Epic tier powers in the Heroic tier PHB/DMG/MM, do you?  Same goes for the other levels.  Same goes for some specific rules.  I can easily see this tier-based split, 3 PHB's/DMG's/MM's.  I like it personally, as I am one of those that would never need the Paragon/Epic stuff.  D&D just gets too wonky for me at those levels of play - it's too wonky for me at Heroic tier usually, but I do my best to tone that down to something I'm comfortable with.
So, presumably, most players that play Paragon/Epic tiers will progress through Heroic tier.  You may occasionally start at Paragon/Epic, but you will at some point and time play Heroic.  Therefore, the core books should be Heroic and the Paragon and Epic PHB/DMG/MM should come later.
It's an interesting idea but if they release DDN with just levels 1-10 in the beginning and wait to give out 11-20 it might give some unwanted backlash from the player.

I see where you're coming from, it's a valid idea worth some merit. But I just want my Players Handbook at release day. Levels 1-20 and all I (or any beginning players) need to know to start playing Dungeons and Dragons. It should also have the Basics of DMing and a few monsters so new players can pick up 1 book and start playing with the DMG and MM holding the more complex rules and baddies for when they feel ready to take the next step. Likely they can release a starter kit that just has the PHB, a few pre-gens, a pre-made adventure, a game mat and possibly a few miniatures. Release that at an affordable price and they'll start getting a lot of new players. But the main point is the Players Handbook should be Everything you need to play Dungeons and Dragons. Not 1/3 of what you need to play Dungeons and Dragons, have another $40 for part 2 of 3?
But the main point is the Players Handbook should be Everything you need to play Dungeons and Dragons. Not 1/3 of what you need to play Dungeons and Dragons, have another $40 for part 2 of 3?


Like 4E's PHB 1, 2 and 3...?
While 2 and 3 contained optional stuff to expand your game, really when you get down to it, higher tiers of play (Paragon & Epic) are also optional things to expand your game.

So, you still do have everything you need to play in the first set, just not the stuff you need when you get to 11th level (to use 4E's parameters here, since that's where the Heroic/Paragon/Epic tier thing is most clearly defined), or 21st level - that stuff would be in the respective tier books.  Obviously, some things fit in this category such as feats (with their level requirements), modules (such as adding Paragon or Epic classes/destinies), etc., while other things obviously don't fit into these categories and should be in set 1 such as Races (assuming there should never be one that's not appropriate for 1st level play), Classes, skills, basic combat & tactical combat (unless some options are held out for the later tiers when they actually come into play), etc.  So how is it you're only getting 1/3 of what you need to play?
I would personally prefer one Player's Handbook, levels 1-20. I don't like (or use) Paragon/Epic content. If people want that ultra high level "I'm so damn powerful, nothing can stop me but the gods" kind of play, that's what modules are for. It doesn't belong in a core rule book.



And who are you to determine that? You know what, level 20 characters have been slaying gods since at least AD&D. Heck, I'm pretty sure in AD&D it could start happening earlier than that. Characters have had access to superhuman powers that outstrip anything we are familiar with in reality starting around level 7 from the moment "Magic User" was declared a class.

Who are you to say that those lower levels should be stretched to fill the entirety of levels 1-20 (something that has never been done before, and only 4e the worst selling edition to date has come close), and the more powerful stuff should be shunted off into higher levels and non-core? Because while that may fit with the way you play D&D, it does not fit with what D&D is and always has been. 
To the O.p.-I personally would prefer more bang for my buck. I would like for the base 3 core books to cover all levels of play. I would purchase completely optional splat books for prestiege classes and such. I want to play from the core and build upon that foundation, not be stuck with three P.H.'s,a DMG and an M.M. that must be purchased to aquire that core. If the cash grab alone is the point of Next then it I'll skip it. I have kids to send to college. You are advocating getting less for paying more as I see it.  I absolutely refuse to do this.
i'd rather them just stick as much of the game into 1 PHB as they can. i'd rather have one 500 page book than three 250 page books.  


Well, first of all, it would likely be a 500 page PHB1 and a 250 page PHB 2 & 3, but...
What about one 500 page book dedicated to that specific tier of play (because the 3 are different for most folks) instead of a 500 page book trying to cram all 3 into that space?  Talking about page count is irrelevant though, it's the content that counts and I'd like to see a more dedicated-content-filled book than a more general-content-filled one.

D&D has done the everything-in-one approach and the separated-by-tier approach before (as shown in the OP) and D&D was more popular when it did the separated-by-tier approach - now I'm not saying that's what made it popular back then, that's far too simplistic of an answer, but it might have helped when a noob didn't see a giant, everything-in-one tome, which can be intimidating as hell to someone trying to start out.  Why read this giant behemoth of a book to play a TTRPG when I can go and play this CRPG without reading anything at all?  Obviously, you and I know the answer to that question and would call it illegitimate to compare the two things, but to a noob, it is a legitimate question.

Random Thought - Perhaps, having the split this way could even undo the need for a "basic box"...?

Random Thought #2 - What I'd like to see is the removal of the PHB/DMG split and just do a Heroic/Paragon/Epic core rulebook instead.  MM would also have the split (Heroic/Paragon/Epic), but those are just monster collections, there's no reason for the rules to be split these days, IMHO.
I would personally prefer one Player's Handbook, levels 1-20. I don't like (or use) Paragon/Epic content. If people want that ultra high level "I'm so damn powerful, nothing can stop me but the gods" kind of play, that's what modules are for. It doesn't belong in a core rule book.



And who are you to determine that? You know what, level 20 characters have been slaying gods since at least AD&D. Heck, I'm pretty sure in AD&D it could start happening earlier than that. Characters have had access to superhuman powers that outstrip anything we are familiar with in reality starting around level 7 from the moment "Magic User" was declared a class.

Who are you to say that those lower levels should be stretched to fill the entirety of levels 1-20 (something that has never been done before, and only 4e the worst selling edition to date has come close), and the more powerful stuff should be shunted off into higher levels and non-core? Because while that may fit with the way you play D&D, it does not fit with what D&D is and always has been. 



Firstly, get off your high horse. Secondly, you'll note that I said, "I would personally prefer one Player's Handbook, levels 1-20." When I look through 1e, 2e, and 3e PHs, I see they went from levels 1-20...LIKE I SAID. So, actually, it does fit the way I play D&D and it DOES FIT with what D&D has been. 4e added in that 'Paragon/Epic' powers stuff. While high level play may have been considered 'epic' in other editions, there was never this kind of level separation and 'Paragon' stuff.
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
To the O.p.-I personally would prefer more bang for my buck. I would like for the base 3 core books to cover all levels of play. I would purchase completely optional splat books for prestiege classes and such. I want to play from the core and build upon that foundation, not be stuck with three P.H.'s,a DMG and an M.M. that must be purchased to aquire that core. If the cash grab alone is the point of Next then it I'll skip it. I have kids to send to college. You are advocating getting less for paying more as I see it.  I absolutely refuse to do this.


You see, I think you are getting more bang for your buck with a separated-by-tier approach.  You get more Heroic goodness in PHB1, more Paragon goodness in PHB 2 and more Epic goodness in PHB 3 (same with DMG/MM too, of course).  By putting more content geared towards those specific tiers into each book, you reduce the need for splat books that cater to those specific tiers (see my previous post for some examples).

Also, as I argued 2 posts previous, higher tiers of play are not core, they are optional, as evidenced by those of us that never play them (stop at level 6 or level 10 for example).  What's not optional are races (technically they can be if the setting demands), classes (again, if the setting demands), combat rules, spell rules, mundane equipment, etc.  And clearly, you just want some of the optional stuff and therefore will have to buy it.  It's no different than wanting a campaign setting in that regard - you want it, you buy it.  Them's the facts.
4e added in that 'Paragon/Epic' powers stuff. While high level play may have been considered 'epic' in other editions, there was never this kind of level separation and 'Paragon' stuff.


Wrong, just plain wrong.  4E may have added in those specific terms (I honestly don't know when those started), but the separation has always been there - just look at the info in the OP about the old Basic/Expert/etc. split.  It wasn't called Paragon and Epic, but it was separated.  Even 3.5 had Prestige classes, which was (in 4E parlance) Paragon/Epic tier stuff.  The AD&D stuff was less obvious about it than any other edition, I'll give you that, though even there you got "next tier" stuff at 9th level (I think, such as gaining followers).  So yeah, just plain wrong.

Although, I'm with you on not wanting the Paragon/Epic stuff. Cool
I never considered hitting level 9 as 'paragon/epic'. Yeah, I know you got stuff like followers, and what not, but I never considered it 'epic'. 1e, 2e, and 3e (don't know about 3.5) didn't have prestige classes in the core PHs, which, I guess, would be 'paragon'. I see no reason to split up PHs into '10 level' blocks, when none of the other editions did this. Stick with 1-20 in the core PH, like every other edition. I don't think the majority of players play at the 'epic' levels (20+) anyway, so that's fine having it's own add-on module later, but levels 11-20 shouldn't be separate from 1-10.
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
I never considered hitting level 9 as 'paragon/epic'. Yeah, I know you got stuff like followers, and what not, but I never considered it 'epic'.


Well, technically I guess that would be Paragon, Epic would be when you were higher in level and you could wade through an army without getting a scratch - that's pretty epic by any reasonable definition. ;)
I see no reason to split up PHs into '10 level' blocks, when none of the other editions did this. Stick with 1-20 in the core PH, like every other edition. I don't think the majority of players play at the 'epic' levels (20+) anyway, so that's fine having it's own add-on module later, but levels 11-20 shouldn't be separate from 1-10.


You're saying this stuff like it's fact but it's not.  History shows us there have been splits in the past, perhaps not your favorite edition(s), but they have existed, just read the OP of this thread to see an example of it.  History shows us that 1-20 levels is not in every edition (4E has 1-30, 2E and I'm sure 3E had an optional book that took levels beyond 20).  Those last two sentences are fact.  It seems you're only taking what you know of your favorite edition(s) and selling it as fact when it's clearly not (maybe that's not what you're doing, but it sure seems that way to me).  You've got edition blinders on...

You see, with your method there will be a "basic" edition and if they go your way, a book with levels 1-20 and a book with levels beyond that - THAT'S 3 BOOKS, same as what we're wanting with the split (3-tiers), just with our way, we eliminate the need for the basic set (at least I think so).  Granted, with your way, Basic is also included in the 1-20 book, so that's it's own problem.  Now, you seem to be holding to the sacred 1-20 level line, but to me the numbers of the levels are irrelevant, it's the abilities you get and the things that you do that matter, and those are separated into tiers, whether blatantly or not (but they always have been).  So I don't care what the level numbers attached to the tiers are, it could be 1-6 for Heroic Tier, 7-13 for Paragon Tier, and 14-20 for Epic Tier, if that would make you happier - I don't care about the numbers, I'm just using the numbers (10-level blocks) from 4E because that edition has the most blatant split of tiers baked into the rules.

And because most folks are probably thinking that I'm a 4E die-hard now, I'll just throw it out there that no, 4E is not my favorite edition.  If anything, 5E is shaping up to take that title for me and if I had to name a second, I'd say none.  I have no favorite out of the previously published editions.
But the main point is the Players Handbook should be Everything you need to play Dungeons and Dragons. Not 1/3 of what you need to play Dungeons and Dragons, have another $40 for part 2 of 3?


Like 4E's PHB 1, 2 and 3...?
While 2 and 3 contained optional stuff to expand your game, really when you get down to it, higher tiers of play (Paragon & Epic) are also optional things to expand your game.

So, you still do have everything you need to play in the first set, just not the stuff you need when you get to 11th level (to use 4E's parameters here, since that's where the Heroic/Paragon/Epic tier thing is most clearly defined), or 21st level - that stuff would be in the respective tier books.  Obviously, some things fit in this category such as feats (with their level requirements), modules (such as adding Paragon or Epic classes/destinies), etc., while other things obviously don't fit into these categories and should be in set 1 such as Races (assuming there should never be one that's not appropriate for 1st level play), Classes, skills, basic combat & tactical combat (unless some options are held out for the later tiers when they actually come into play), etc.  So how is it you're only getting 1/3 of what you need to play?



The difference between what your suggesting and Players Handbook's 1, 2 and 3 is that you want to break up the levels of play into almost subsections of the same game (which, if done wrong, could break the flow of game. Not guaranteed mind you). While the Players Handbook's 2 and 3 simply added more races and classes and mechanics. They were supplement books but not necessary to play the game. If you want more options, maybe a more exotic race or try out a new class then you can invest in them, but even in 4e all  you needed was PHB1 to play everything from levels 1-30. So I'm not sure you can compare the two.

You're only getting 1/3 of what you need to play because once you hit level 10, if the next book isn't out yet, your campaign is over. It's a different kind of "Optional". It assumes everyone starts out at level 1 and doesn't get past 10. Some people start level 5 and go to 15, some start at 8 but don't make it past 12. 20 levels is a solid block to contain almost any adventure. 

Firstly, get off your high horse. Secondly, you'll note that I said, "I would personally prefer one Player's Handbook, levels 1-20." When I look through 1e, 2e, and 3e PHs, I see they went from levels 1-20...LIKE I SAID. So, actually, it does fit the way I play D&D and it DOES FIT with what D&D has been. 4e added in that 'Paragon/Epic' powers stuff. While high level play may have been considered 'epic' in other editions, there was never this kind of level separation and 'Paragon' stuff.



I don't disagree with preferring one players handbook levels 1-20. What I DO disagree with is the followup of that stance that you are now pretending like you didn't take, stating that Paragon and Epic level stuff should not exist in core, and should be separate splat books.

In 3e and 3.5, you DID have Paragon and Epic in the game. Yes there was the Epic Level handbook for level 20+, but few people really played that and it was terrible in general. But even ignoring that, level 15+ in 3e was Epic. It may not have been listed as Epic in name, but in scope, it was far more epic than 4e ever was. Similarly, around level 7 in 3e you were effectively Paragon, you had trancended normal human and even vanilla action hero limits, and characters at that level are capable of feats that shatter anything we know in reality. During those Paragon levels PCs begin flying all day, teleporting, facing grown dragons (not ancient ones, but not babies either), binding outsiders to their will, raising armies, come back from the dead, and so on. During the Epic levels PCs can create their own personal plane of existence, clone themselves, coming back from the dead becomes a triviality, they rewrite reality on a whim, stop time, and call in the most powerful demons/devils/angels to do their bidding. Characters at those levels are practically gods, and have a fair shot at killing gods themselves.

In AD&D and earlier, it wasn't much different. The scope of what magic could do at various levels didn't really change much in the transition, the big thing that changed was the removal of some limitations of higher level characters.

Paragon and Epic have always been a core part of D&D, they just haven't always been explicitly named. In fact, one of the biggest failings of 4e wasn't the inclusion of the Paragon/Epic tiers, but rather clearly deliniating them and then failing to provide the corresponding boost in character capability/power.

Saying to take that aspect of the game away and shove it into a source book because you play D&D in such a way that high level characters only use a fraction of their potential goes against a large part of what the game has been traditionally. I know some people don't like to acknowledge what crazy things their characters were capable of at high levels, and do their best to ignore it, but that does not make it go away. And trying to tell people who enjoy the way the power curve scaled that they should deal with taking what was once a part of the core game being a splatbook is outright insulting.
The difference between what your suggesting and Players Handbook's 1, 2 and 3 is that you want to break up the levels of play into almost subsections of the same game (which, if done wrong, could break the flow of game. Not guaranteed mind you)


Well, I am assuming that WotC will not break the flow of the game - that they will indeed 'get it right' on this.

While the Players Handbook's 2 and 3 simply added more races and classes and mechanics. They were supplement books but not necessary to play the game. If you want more options, maybe a more exotic race or try out a new class then you can invest in them, but even in 4e all  you needed was PHB1 to play everything from levels 1-30. So I'm not sure you can compare the two.


So PHB 2 & 3 added more races/classes/mechanics, isn't adding levels for the two tiers just adding more mechanics?  I think it is.

Levels 11-30 are not required to play the game, they are simply there if you choose to use them, same as the races and classes in PHB 2 and 3.  So I guess that's our fundamental difference, you see levels 1-30 as being essential for a complete game whereas I see any level beyond 1 as "merely more mechanics" and thus just as optional as any race or class (which are all optional), so dividing them is no great travesty to me.

Honestly, there's no reason why we can't have it both ways if you think about it, as it's happened before, a line of the three tiered books (Heroic/Paragon/Epic PHB) and a compilation edition (5E Rules Cyclopedia or something like that).  Then there could be a similar thing with the MM, a tiered set of books and a MM Cyclopedia compilation.

You're only getting 1/3 of what you need to play because once you hit level 10, if the next book isn't out yet, your campaign is over. It's a different kind of "Optional". It assumes everyone starts out at level 1 and doesn't get past 10. Some people start level 5 and go to 15, some start at 8 but don't make it past 12. 20 levels is a solid block to contain almost any adventure.


I'm also assuming that the books would hit the market at the same time.  Given that the playtest will eventually cover all levels, there'd be no reason for a significant delay in getting the books out.
I understand what your saying, and yes technically you don't need every level to play D&D but by that logic you don't need anything past level 1. Extreme, I know, and I know that's not what your suggesting.

Maybe in 4e I could see this, when you could have 1 book alone with just a ton of powers, but the mechanics of Next aren't that complex that you can't fit it in one book. The abilities scale but they use the same basic abilities the whole way through. I know there's a lot of spells but that's to be expected.

I'm not discrediting your idea I'm just saying it doesn't fit with Next's Basic Gameplay. The whole idea is everything is very simple, nothing is too over the top rule heavy so we don't need three separate books to explain them. We aren't even going past 20 in Core so that's a whole 1/3 off. 

Maybe in 4e I could see this, when you could have 1 book alone with just a ton of powers, but the mechanics of Next aren't that complex that you can't fit it in one book. The abilities scale but they use the same basic abilities the whole way through. I know there's a lot of spells but that's to be expected.



I really hate this attitude. "Yeah there's a bunch of spells, but whatre you gonna do? Wizards huh?". If the game is supposed to be simple at its core with characters doing the same thing as they level, just better, you shouldn't need a whole crapton of spells. If the game is expected to have that many spells in the core, then non-casting characters should have access to a similar number of abilities. Saying "It's magic so they need more options!" is the thing that leads to Wizards being overpowered in every older edition.
Maybe in 4e I could see this, when you could have 1 book alone with just a ton of powers, but the mechanics of Next aren't that complex that you can't fit it in one book. The abilities scale but they use the same basic abilities the whole way through. I know there's a lot of spells but that's to be expected.



It's not about the rules or their complexity, but the explanations of how to use those rules to best effect for the specific level of gameplay you're in and the giant lists of things that simply take up tons of room.  Like I said before, I'd like to see the PHB/DMG split go in this edition.  Most players I know buy the PHB/DMG/MM set, even if they never intend to DM anyway, so there's nothing in the DMG that is secret anymore - like it was in the early days or as some GM's wish it would be, so there's no point to that anymore IMHO.

I'm not discrediting your idea I'm just saying it doesn't fit with Next's Basic Gameplay. The whole idea is everything is very simple, nothing is too over the top rule heavy so we don't need three separate books to explain them. We aren't even going past 20 in Core so that's a whole 1/3 off. 



Besides, there are still the giant lists of things (feats, spells in particular) that are dependent on character level, so there is still room to split that content.  That could either leave you with smaller, cheaper books which would be less intimidating to noobs or like I would like to see, the ability to combine the PHB/DMG into a singe "core rulebook," and there have been so many monsters over the years that the MM would still be massive just holding Heroic-level creatures (lvls 1-6 or 1-7 in a 1-20 level game, 1-10 in a 1-30 level game).

I really hate this attitude. "Yeah there's a bunch of spells, but whatre you gonna do? Wizards huh?". If the game is supposed to be simple at its core with characters doing the same thing as they level, just better, you shouldn't need a whole crapton of spells. If the game is expected to have that many spells in the core, then non-casting characters should have access to a similar number of abilities. Saying "It's magic so they need more options!" is the thing that leads to Wizards being overpowered in every older edition.



That's simply the nature of D&D magic system requiring giant lists of spells.  There's 40 years of history in the spell lists to account for as well, which lead to bloat in the spell lists.  The total lack of standardized effects and the hundreds of variations of them don't help either.  I don't think it's an attitude problem but merely a fact that has crept into D&D over the years that the spell lists are huge, and there's only going to be so much the designers can do to reduce this - dropping redundant spells and minor variations, perhaps combining some spells, etc.  The only other option would be to limit the number of spells - only 50 per level, for example - and thus only include the most iconic of the spells, which is something that may be planned, given the nature of past surveys.  That's likely the best option as well, because you can always have a dozen "Tome of Magic" supplements to increase the number of spells if you want that in your game - clearly not something everyone wants.
I like the idea, it means there's more attention spent on each leveling block. Also each PHB should get its own open playtest to ensure its a high quality product.