Defining Epic style game. (Avoiding silly things.)

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What exactly does Epic play mean? I hope to hell not the Epic Handbook of 3rd Edition. Frankly, that book and it's contents were silly. Just the images alone of Traps upon Traps, with a bizarre coupling of a Dragon and a Beholder waiting at the end in its smoking jacket.

What would you consider Epic style play? The godlike panderings of Exalted? The world spanning adventures of the classic Forgotten Realms goldenboy Elminster?

I have some ideas but I'm trying to hash them out here:

Large scale combat. Unit on the move. Squad vs squad fights with the PC leading the charge. Remember the fall of Azure City from Order of the Stick? That's a perfect example of high level fighting. Blazing a path through standing armies to get to your target, Dynasty Warriors style fighting with loads of NPCs around you that are background to you fighting the boss.

Princely intrigue. It's time to step up as leaders of nations. Heroes of legend. Using your clout and resources to motivate other NPCs to do great things or at least to carve out your slice of the pie. No more secluded keeps or hidden towers that are nothing more than your own dungeon. Epic play might include actually interacting with national ideologies and growing political power.

Artifacts become a topic of play. Honestly in my game I don't let players fool around with these kinda items until this point. Not that I would want them to keep such items. (To me Artifacts are McGuffins, honestly.) But it makes interesting play to have rival factions fighting over powerful items and having the PC get their hands on one and use it to see the horrible side effects, etc. Then to clean the mess up.

Slaying a Dragon is nice. But what if it has to do with destiny and the salvation of the world? Saving the World, be it Final Fantasy style to more classical throwing the ring into a volcano is always a good plot point for the PCs. But what happens when they win?

Other factors that come into play are the scope of very simple things. Saving a village means more when you can help them rebuild. Or perhaps slaying the Orc King means having to deal with the Orcs themselves looking for new leadership. It's a balancing act that level = responceability.

That's something I guess I'm worried about in the new edition and how in the DMG and in the PHB are they going to treat Epic level challenges. What to WotC marks the beginning and end of grand adventure?