Do You Like High Level Play?

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Recently I have been rereading my D&D books from BECMI- 4th ed and various OSR websites.


It would seem that D&D has never really done high level games that well. High level adventures were kind of rare and he ones I have seem to pull out all the stops at least the TSR ones. Things like the Labyrinth of Madness and Return to the Tomb of Horrors seem a little crazy along with perhaps the final encounters in The Night Below.


3rd ed ones are a little different often with less monsters as such but they look crazy powerful on paper, probably not so much with higher level PCs kicking around in 3rd ed. The Age of Wurms and The Savage Tide final installments are a little nuts.


In 4th ed we never got that high but a common complain even from 4th ed fans is the length of time combat took at paragon tiers and how PCs were almost immune to stuff and could lock everything down.


Ironically perhaps BECMI was the most playable version of D&D at higher level as it was very basic and only humans could get above level 10 or so IIRC. A level 20 wizard did not have level 9 spells (had to be level 21) and the Rules Cyclopedia doesn't have that many spells in it for the spellcasters anyway.


Pathfinder is a bit harder to judge but the new Paizo adventure paths seem to finish up in the 15-17th level range instead of 20 like 3.5 ones and on their forums they have admitted the game doesn't actually run that well either at those levels.


Also earlier D&D high level seemed to be above level 10 and in the Temple of Elemental Evil you could fight and have a reasonable chance of defeating a demon lord at level 8/9 perhaps. 2nd ed stretched the levels out to 20 (1st ed it varied by class) and to play epic levels one could get the High Level Campaign book which discussed the problems of higher level play. 3.0 gave us the Epic Level Handbook which was terrible, and 4th ed had epic levels as default but it is hard to say how popular they were.


Anyway using 4th ed terms heroic level to me is level 1-6, paragon tier is level 7-13 and epic levels 14-20. Being blunt I do not really care that much about epic levels or even high level play. I have DMed those levels including epic level in 2nd and 3rd ed but they are usually one of's or short campaigns where the intent is to have fun for a few sessions. I did lose a level 19 wizards to a glyph spell with a power word liquefy spell on it in 2nd ed.

It was kind of funny seeing people get excited briefly about the prospect of level 30+ PCs in 3rd ed and there is a tendency in D&D game worlds to make high level NPCs be stupidly high in level. Raistlin was reasonably sane at level 18 IIRC. In FR of course Elminster at level 29 wizard was outclassed by various other NPCs, Darksun had the Dragon who had powers of a level 30 psion/wizard. Things worked a bit funny in TSR era D&D as a level 18 wizard might struggle to have 60 hit points.


So how important is high level play to you? Do you care about it that much or prefer they get level 1-10 right or at least focus on that? Apparently TSR market research indicated most people did not play at the higher levels although back then it could be due to the way the xp tables worked as progression was very slow. Playing weekly might get you to level 8-10 over a year or more.

To me not at all. I'd rather the spend the majority of ressources to get heroic/paragon right and if then there's still some time left they can do a little epic stuff.

That's my selfish personal preferences
High level play has been important to me.  However, stopping to actually analyze why that is, I find that it has little to do with the inherent number porn of playing at higher levels than it does with the options that are available.  For example, I liked the epic spell creation rules in 3e, which were retooled (and, IMO, better implemented) as the incantation rules in D20 Modern's Urban Arcana.  Another example is the ability to play characters that are actually some form of godling.  These are the aspects of high level play, and not the numbers themselves, that appeal to me.  And I would like to see them in DDN.
There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

I loved high level play in 2E (in addition to high-level one-shots that everyone does now and then, I had a variety of 'honest' characters at 11+ over the years, with the highest level one being 17).


It was fun for a lark in 3E, just to be silly with how insane it was.


It was a total pain in the ass in 4E, I did not enjoy it at all.


That's basically my opinion, on the versions of D&D I've played.  High level characters in 2E still had weaknesses.  My 17th level wizard had something like 60 hit points (I had a +2 con mod, and iirc, that would make 10d4 + 27, which would have averaged at 52.  I think I had 61, so I rolled above average.)  That's still not a lot of hit points; it is entirely possible to get killed, and fast, if you get caught out.  Similarly, fighters were amazing in melee with their high (low) AC and THAC0, and their saving throws were great so they were highly resistant to effects, but they had no ability to protect themselves against any magical effect that didn't grant a save.  (Whether that was something as simple as darkness or something as broken as Bigby's Strangling Grip, which grants no save unless the target is aware and ready to block them).



In 3E, high level spellcasters were absurd, everyone knows it, and high level fighters had so much magic they were basically spellcasters.


In 4E, all high level characters have insane amounts of options, reactions, interrupts, and so on.  Not only is it as bad as 3E for absurdity, but combat also takes forever because every action gets interrupted or responded to somehow, by a PC or a monster.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

Here's an analyzis, not of the entire game itself, but only my opinion regarding what level meant in terms of "power" and the type of gameplay, and type of campaign offered for that kind of proposal. Meaning how I like it in terms of being gritty or heroic or epic or super-powered, etc.

2th edition
1-2 Levels:     
3-10 Levels:      
11-20 Levels:    
21+ Levels: (Didn't actually play much on those extreme levels but some books like Dark Sun's Dragon Kings were very good, if only to create some very very powerful NPCs)

3th edition
1-2 Levels:   
3-7 Levels:       
8-10 Levels:   
11-13 Levels:   
14-20 Levels:  
21+ Levels: 


It needs be remembered that what 2e considered "high level" or "epic level" or whatever you want to call it, and what 3e and later editions considered it, were very very different.

In 2e past level 10 the game was already considered very "epic" or high level. Characters were considered far far beyond the ordinary and even beyond the experts and masters. Lot's of character power progression hit the breaks and would follow a much slower progression, meaning you could hit much higher levels later without the game reaching disproportionate standards, and characters would ever maintain some level of "being human" in a sense that they didn't feel like absolute demi-gods or super-humans.

3e and later took a different approach, making it much easier and faster to reach levels past 10, power scaling continued unbridled, and past level 20 (something almost unimaginable for a 2e game) power scaling would even accelerate more and more. Not very fond of that style of high-level gameplay since characters would eventually feel utterly inhuman, more like untouchable super-heroes or demi-gods. The element of the "mundane" kinda stopped making sense at this point, and the kind of ubber-epic game that followed was just not really my thing.


Here's an analyzis, not of the entire game itself, but only my opinion regarding what level meant in terms of "power" and the type of gameplay, and type of campaign offered for that kind of proposal. Meaning how I like it in terms of being gritty or heroic or epic or super-powered, etc.

2th edition
1-2 Levels:     
3-10 Levels:      
11-20 Levels:    
21+ Levels: (Didn't actually play much on those extreme levels but some books like Dark Sun's Dragon Kings were very good, if only to create some very very powerful NPCs)

3th edition
1-2 Levels:   
3-7 Levels:       
8-10 Levels:   
11-13 Levels:   
14-20 Levels:  
21+ Levels: 


It needs be remembered that what 2e considered "high level" or "epic level" or whatever you want to call it, and what 3e and later editions considered it, were very very different.

In 2e past level 10 the game was already considered very "epic" or high level. Characters were considered far far beyond the ordinary and even beyond the experts and masters. Lot's of character power progression hit the breaks and would follow a much slower progression, meaning you could hit much higher levels later without the game reaching disproportionate standards, and characters would ever maintain some level of "being human" in a sense that they didn't feel like absolute demi-gods or super-humans.

3e and later took a different approach, making it much easier and faster to reach levels past 10, power scaling continued unbridled, and past level 20 (something almost unimaginable for a 2e game) power scaling would even accelerate more and more. Not very fond of that style of high-level gameplay since characters would eventually feel utterly inhuman, more like untouchable super-heroes or demi-gods. The element of the "mundane" kinda stopped making sense at this point, and the kind of ubber-epic game that followed was just not really my thing.




This seems pretty close to my experience of 2nd Edition.

Though what I have heard about 4th at high levels (all positive, barring combat length which seems to be a group issue) makes me want to look at what they did so differently to keep the game playing so well.   
I like high level play in all versions of D&D published before 1995.

I should note, though, that each different version of the game defines high level differently... and I am refering to high level as anything 9th and higher in those particular versions of the game.

What makes me like high level play is being able to blend "kingdom building" and "political schemes" with the occasional "let's leave the staff in charge for a few months and go do some exploring!" type of adventure... and that those older editions are built with a cap in mind for most (sometimes all) parts of a character's advancement so that they can also keep monsters in a more defined space and not force a gigantic disparity to be evident between "the toughest of demons," and whatever you wanna call the thing that comes along and demands a party of 50th level characters face it if anyone has a hope to defeat it.

I genuinely miss, and often house-rule in to d20 games, the "plateus" of the older editions
Careful, man. That much logic might be illegal on the internet. - Salla
Nope. To couch it in 4e terms, I like "mid-paragon".

To put in more plain terms, I like it when heroes are saving the kingdom and maybe at the very end of the campaign, the world. I don't much care for heroes competing with gods and saving entire multi-verses, etc. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o tea.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

Not a fan of high level play, BUT...

I'd like parties to take on high level challenges in a manner that fits most of the ficional tropes. Want to take down the God Aspect of Dorimor, diety of pestilence? You'll have to acquire artifact X, then deliver it to location Y during the time of Z. If you do that, you can force the aspct of this plane of existence (or make the aspect vulnerable, or open a portal to ______, where you can confront the vulnerable aspect, etc., etc.). To use LOTR as an example, no one took on the re-emerged Sauron directly. They had to hold back various evil forces so a pair of everyday dudes could toss a ring into a volcano. If you're walking around b-slapping gods, then your challenges are cosmic, and run outside the realm of what I want in the fantasy campaign (now, a super hero campaign [capes]?  no problem).:-)
I am a big fan of high level play.  I've used supplements like The Primal Order to play level 150+ characters.  High level play, both Epic and Immortal level, is very important to me.
The idea of high level play? Sure! The concept of being far greater than what you can imagine yourself to be is simply awesome, and fluff-wise I absolutely love some of the Epic Destinies in 4E.

The design of high level play? I'm not so hot about it.  In spite of 4E's significantly smaller collective power pool than other editions, the various individual mechanics eventually created a whole slew of dynamics that overall resulted in very slow play.  Most of these problems would be found in the multiple calculations needed, combined with the already-mentioned interrupts and out of turn activities.

[ Funny how 5E overreacted by removing all non-standard actions in the first playtest packet, because while it DID solve the actual issue (too many out of turn actions), it just drastically altered the game's dynamics in unexpected ways (fighters not being effective meat shields since everyone could get past them easily). ]

While I am seeing a bit of improvement here and there design-wise in 5E, I'm seeing a double fail when it comes to the entire system:


  • mundane-ness of high level play

  • messy mechanical design of high level play


The first seems to be an overreaction to 4E's perception, while the latter makes me still question designer competency; we already have 38+ years of mistakes and achievements to sift through, and still we can't seem to design anything past level 10 any better than Gary Gygax.  Why?
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Do You Like High Level Play?
No. I had too many issues with high level play and spellcasters or offturn actions and i prefer low to mid level play.

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I've played for over 30 years, and the highest level campaign I've played has been 1e when we were teenagers and we got our PC up to about 15th level (or multi-class 10/10).

The highest level campaign I DMd was a 3.5 edition campaign that made it up to 16th level.

Most of my games/campaigns have been 1-10 and that has been alright by me.

Every once in a while we'd play a 15+ level game just as a one shot, but my buddies and I prefer low to middle levels.

A Brave Knight of WTF

Nope. To couch it in 4e terms, I like "mid-paragon".

To put in more plain terms, I like it when heroes are saving the kingdom and maybe at the very end of the campaign, the world. I don't much care for heroes competing with gods and saving entire multi-verses, etc. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o tea.



This is me, too.  Once you start hitting anything more than viewing, or perhaps -- PERHAPS -- 'stopping' a single avatar of a Power, you've gone into silly-ville imo.  No interest in that.  It's fine for others, but for me it's just flat-out boring.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

The idea of high level play? Sure! The concept of being far greater than what you can imagine yourself to be is simply awesome, and fluff-wise I absolutely love some of the Epic Destinies in 4E.

The design of high level play? I'm not so hot about it.  In spite of 4E's significantly smaller collective power pool than other editions, the various individual mechanics eventually created a whole slew of dynamics that overall resulted in very slow play.  Most of these problems would be found in the multiple calculations needed, combined with the already-mentioned interrupts and out of turn activities.

[ Funny how 5E overreacted by removing all non-standard actions in the first playtest packet, because while it DID solve the actual issue (too many out of turn actions), it just drastically altered the game's dynamics in unexpected ways (fighters not being effective meat shields since everyone could get past them easily). ]

While I am seeing a bit of improvement here and there design-wise in 5E, I'm seeing a double fail when it comes to the entire system:


  • mundane-ness of high level play

  • messy mechanical design of high level play


The first seems to be an overreaction to 4E's perception, while the latter makes me still question designer competency; we already have 38+ years of mistakes and achievements to sift through, and still we can't seem to design anything past level 10 any better than Gary Gygax.  Why?



 D&D seems to struggle with power inflation at higher levels and due to the way the game is designed seems impossable/difficult to get right. D&DN is not really much better in this regard as the monsters are to weak. These dayus the main problems seem to be the d20 system with feats that need to be impressive to be worth taking.

 Gamers expect powers and/or feats at higher levels. In the good old days you got maybe +1 to hit/saves and that was about it ir a new spell if you were a spellcaster.  
Do I like high level play?
In AD&D, yes I do.  I enjoy the High level Campaigns guide for 2nd edition very much. 
High level play can be a great time when done properly.


Do I care about high level play and plans for it in D&D Next? Not at all. I have no intrest in that concept.

I do not plan on ever playing this edition of the game past the playtesting process. That said as noted by others- wotc doesn't seem capable of making high level play possible or fun as evidenced by the way they have handled their versions of D&D thus far. My personal playstyle is just better suited to a previous version of the game and my intent is to play that over this.   
I like the concept and execution on limited occaisons (I've done some fun epic oneshots for 4E. and played through all the Bloodstone Modules up to and including the Bloodstone Wars (moved from 1E to 2E if my memory does not fail me, Killing Orcus and Tiamat was fun)). I've always wanted the occaissonal opportunity to play characters on the level of Milamber, Thomas-Ashen Shugar; Belgarion; Tempus or Hanse Shadowspawn (prior to his depowering); Raven, Croaker, Lady; Kane; Elric, Hawkmoon, Erekose', Urlik Skarsol, well you get the idea.

Before we stumbled onto Chungian Paranoia combat independently, Exalted met this need. Then, it kind of ruined our fun.

 
I say yes to high level campaigns. 
I want to be superman.
I want to pimp slap a god and tell him that they worship my awesomeness now.
I want to look at superhero movies these days and say,"Yeah, my character can take them on".

I'm all in for an epic campaign.  


Resounding yes to the topic. Im currently in a campaign where we're invading the Nine Hells to boot out Asmodeus for various reasons.(well, one person wants to boot out Asmodeus for story reasons, the rest of our PCs have their own story reasons for going with him) and our characters actually feel powerful enough to be able to do this, while it still being a challenge(we are taking on Asmodeus at all. Hell, last session we're attacking the Lord of the Third Layer so we can quickly find a way to the Fourth Layer after we heard Asmodeus was coming up to "meet" us and we're in no way ready to battle him yet).
While I prefer lower level play, I have enjoyed higher level play. I would like to see the initial release "core rulebooks" focus on levels 1-10.

That being said, I don't think that higher level play can be ignored while developing lower level rules. The rules have to be designed with the possibility of higher level play taken into account; so that transition from low level to high level play is seemless and the rules don't "breakdown" once the transition is made.

So, I want the designers to focus on lower level design, with consideration at each step (or with each mechanic) for how everything will be affected by higher level play.

EDIT: Then, I would like higher level play supplements designed for later publication; preferably no more than a year or two after initial release. 
High level play is very important to me. Some of the best 1E/2E games I have played in got to level 20+ and were a blast. We got to do crazy, epic stuff. I ran a 3E game that got all the way up to level 30, and...never again. The story was great, but the rules slowed down play so much it began working against our fun. It took far too long to prep combat encounters and far too long to run them. One encounter took a full 8 hour session to play through, most of which was dedicated to the spellcasters' turns. It was a mess. Conversely, my 4E Scales of War campaign wrapped up in March, and it was a blast. We would get through 2-3 encounters and plenty of role-playing in 4 hour sessions with 7 or 8 players at the table. It was about the same through the paragon tier (maybe 3-4 battles at low paragon, slowing to 2-3 at upper). My Dark Sun game is up to level 24 now, and it's averaging 3 fights, roleplaying, and a skill challenge or two in 5-6 hour sessions. 

Now, as far as D&D Next goes...I want what 4E gives, maybe with one more encounter per block of play. If they can deliver what 4E does only better vis-a-vis high-level play, then that puts it closer to my edition of choice.  If not, I will stick with what works. 
I have absolutely zero interest in any part of the game beyond teleport or raise dead. When neither death nor distance poses any obstacle, I cannot care about whatever fantastic new problems they must invent.
The metagame is not the game.
D&D seems to struggle with power inflation at higher levels and due to the way the game is designed seems impossable/difficult to get right. D&DN is not really much better in this regard as the monsters are to weak. These dayus the main problems seem to be the d20 system with feats that need to be impressive to be worth taking.

I suppose the issue really is, "what is the scope and limitation of the system?"  Because as far as I can tell, D&D Next is shaping up to be trying to fit levels 1-10 of older editions into 20 levels.

Gamers expect powers and/or feats at higher levels

Not really.  I think the key term isn't so much of power as much as progress.  The leveling system implies that there is progress being done, and because it is important to deliver the feel of progress — not just the static numbers that show "progress" — that's why powers and/or feats have always been the defining factor of progress.

After all, what feels more progressive: you're able to take a few more points of damage (that may or may not be the equivalent of 1 more hit), or you're able to perform a new trick or an existing trick in a new way?

In the good old days you got maybe +1 to hit/saves and that was about it ir a new spell if you were a spellcaster.  

Now if the progress for everyone is linear (i.e. 4E's bonuses to hit and skill checks, as well as D&D's HP bonuses), then great.  If everyone's progress is a bit more complex (i.e. 4E's linear-yet-flexible power acquisition at higher levels), then just as good.  The problem arises when you have a class-based system where some are rewarded linearly, while others are rewarded exponentially.  It puts to question the validity of choice for those who wanted to play a thematically appropriate class, but was now unable to play the concept by the rules.

You could reply that they could always improvise, but as it stands D&D's rules aren't very efficient at encouraging improvisation, especially when it comes to overlaps between improv and encoded things.  Which is kinda why the 0E Thief annoys me to no end, since the perfectly reasonable adventure guy (Fighting Man) now can't do what the Thief can, without the DM consciously or subconsciously trying to find a way to make sure his decision doesn't make the player of either class feel that he is favoring the other guy.

If you ask me, if someone wanted an improv-heavy game, Dungeon World caters to them better than any other system, D&D all editions included.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging

 

Recently I have been rereading my D&D books from BECMI- 4th ed and various OSR websites.


It would seem that D&D has never really done high level games that well.


Balance, particularly class balance did tend to fail by high levels prior to 4e.  4e had a sad dearth of support - adventures and other DM resources - for epic level play, but even Paragon could reasonably be called 'high level,' and 4e did it quite well.  So not exactly 'never,' but certainly never as well as it might have or as well as it did lower levels...

So how important is high level play to you? Do you care about it that much or prefer they get level 1-10 right or at least focus on that?

It's certainly important enough to get right if it's to be done at all.  Getting it right would mean designing the game to work at all levels, from the beginning.  Starting out with 1-10, then maybe getting to designing 11-20 at some later date would almost certainly fail.  

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High level play is like this in importance, "If you're good, it's where you're going".
I'm going to answer this question twice. Once as a player and then once as a DM. My experience is Pathfinder and 4th ed (I started with 4th ed but play both editions to this day).

Answer as a player

Yes I like high level play. IMO 3.5e and 4th ed define high level play the same ways. Epic is levels 21+. Stuff that spans nations is Paragon tier or 12-20. Heroic and city-level dangers occur in levels 1-10.


I played Against the Giants (4th ed). This spanned Paragon tier. I'm playing in a series of stand-alone mods in Pathfinder for levels 12+ and I'm enjoying it. However Epic tier just holds little appeal to me. I feel like you can get the same story in levels 12-20 without needing to get to Epic. As such I dislike the Epic Tier. I'm playing the H1-E3 series in 4th ed and in 3.5e this same "plot" would have covered levels 1-20 comfortably. Right now it just feels like it's never going to end.


Answer as a DM

I dislike high level play. I DM'd for 4th ed up to about mid heroic tier and it just became too burdensome. Creating the battles took far too long and everything needed to be perfectly balanced. In play the battles just took forever.


I'm DMing Pathfinder and I'm removing a couple of levels from the adventure path because the players' powers are outstripping my ability to challenge them. The adventures are also poorly written in terms of combats (running Carrion Crown). Book 5 was actually fairly good and I was able to run the adventure mostly as-is by keeping the PCs down 1 level. However Book 6 has had attrocious battles thus far and I've had to rewrite every combat completely.


--


So there's my answer. As a player I enjoy wrapping up around level 17 (if not before). But the adventures I'm using are just so poorly written for Pathfinder in terms of combat (beautiful stories though) and the creation of NPCs is just so time consuming that I'm finishing the campaign around level 14. Although that said, level 14 is only 3 levels lower than my preferred stop to end 4th ed.


As such I think they should focus primarily on levels 1-10, pay attention to levels 11-15 and then if they have time worry about levels 16+. I certainly don't think levels 21+ should be considered until well and truly after the launch of D&D Next.

I like high levels. It allows fr a branching into all kinds of new genres.

But dang is/was it a headache. It was like having a very attractive high maintenance person which you date or having a friendly but troublesome pet. Better yet it is like a baby. So cute until it cries or stinks up a room.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

... how important is high level play to you? Do you care about it that much or prefer they get level 1-10 right or at least focus on that? Apparently TSR market research indicated most people did not play at the higher levels although back then it could be due to the way the xp tables worked as progression was very slow. Playing weekly might get you to level 8-10 over a year or more.

It's important that it be there, as that gives our PCs something to achieve. Getting to 10th and then ... nothing ... would be rather a let-down, knowing that there's more out there that they could have done and more interesting capabilities they could have acquired.


We've taken one group into the low teens and then effectively retired them (since the way the campaign went, they pretty much settled down in the castles and towns they'd built). Another group, however, is still battling mightily against pretty epic foes. The PC levels range from 10 to 15, and there's still more to achieve. Sure, it's a bit harder on the DM to come up with effective challenges, but I don't mind that -- it's part of MY game to create that challenge.

We also run very slow levelling. We don't want to switch PCs every six months because they've hit top level. We've been running the second group for over 20 years, and it's taken them that long to get to 15th. Granted, we have three DMs and haven't played that particular campaign 100%, but we still like the slower advancement. It makes the game more about what the PCs DO than what they gain at the next level, and the let's-rush-on-to-the-next-level-to-get-the-new-goodies I've seen in others' games.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

Depends on the setting, as much as the mechanics, for me.
Dark Sun, high level play was beautiful. Finally, against all odds, it's time to roll one of those Sorceror Kings who have been making life on this sand ball miserable since time immemorable... or become one. 
In Planescape, there was this transition from big fish in the small pond to plankton in the ocean... then eventually shark in the sea... I enjoyed that cycle.
The Realms always made me feel like I was finally a real character who got to sit at the big NPC table... which didn't really appeal to me, but others who love the lore fo the Realms more might enjoy it.
Few of the other games I played made it that far.

The Legacy system seems interesting, but I feel there should be two (non-exclusive) options for High level play. Continue adventuring and Become a Fixture of the setting.
I would rather see it done well in the mid to high teens than see it done poorly across the twenties or above. Ideally we could see continued progression beyound twenty... but that is risky... very early for that.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I don't like high level play in all editions I played (all except original).

The high level PCs are the profile only NPCs should have. The PCs become like superman, stupidly powerful with a reduced number of very weak points. You can't really challenge them without artificially putting kryptonite evrywhere or creating incredibly powerful opponents and some reason to explain why their influences were limited until then.

Saving the country, the planet or the universe means nothing by itself, and is a crappy goal for a story. But high level PCs are far too powerful to build a credible and immersive story about saving a sympathetic commoner.

It's like a recent Fantastic Four story about saving an old friendly secondary character from a tumor that will kill him. The epic genius of the team plan something and they save the old guy.
This story is utterly wrong.
The FF found a way to cure cancer, but every other writers will carefully ignore it, because in the end, it just turns FF into selfish bastards, and not heroes, as they could have worked on this problem years ago instead of opening dimensional portals endangering everyone and other things like these.

The problem with epic characters is that they have to be artificially isolated to justify the state of the world where low level characters are living in. It turns the world into a stupid dungeon.
I have only ever played campaigns at high level in 4e. I have done a one shot in 3.5. I don't have a lot of experience with anything beyond 17 level. I didn't really enjoy the experience very much in 4e because there were just too many interupt powers.

As far as the story goes I have very little interest in a level of play where the story is about killing gods and treversing diminsions. early-paragon (11-14) is about as far as I want to go. At that point I rather stop progression and just continue playing for the story or start a new campaign and tell a different story.

As a DM of 4e I don't even want to run anything passed 10. I have only done mid-paragon LFR, but it felt like a different game at that level and not in a good way.

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Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke
My preference is that class abilkities/spells/powers/Feats/etc should be scaled for all classes.  Weak-ish (but still fun) at low levels, and progressively better every couple of levels, building to amazing earth shattering stuff at higher levels.  That way people who like gritty "realistic" play can stick with an E6ish game, people who like mid-level play can start at level 5 and play to level 15ish, and people who like epic world changing anime powers can play at high levels.  To each their own, all within one nifty system. 

I think that where 1st/2nd/3rd broke down was in giving this power scale to a limited number of classes.  Wizards got progressively better spells, but Fighters still got a boring Bonus Feat.  Conversely, 4E failed in giving everyone the same boring repative Powers.  There should be a middle ground, where everyone gets cool scaled abilities of some sort, and players can choose the level of play they enjoy.