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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Though it's worth noting that AD&D was, effectively "E9".
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Though it's worth noting that AD&D was, effectively "E9".
    E11; wizard name level was 11.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    E11; wizard name level was 11.
    Huh, I remembered getting the last full hit dice at 9, but it looks like it's class dependent. So E(9-11) or something like that, lol.

    But still.... advancement mostly ended around level 10, making AD&D 1e closer to E6 than 3.x in terms of overall advancement curve.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    First, I still take issue that D&D doesn't break at high levels. The discrepancy between the various options in the game drifts further and further apart as levels get higher, literally making for a more "broken" experience by most any metric.
    What does it mean to "break the game"? I'm certainly sympathetic to the notion that it takes more work to run a high level game, or that the imbalance in the game becomes more pronounced as the game goes on. But I wouldn't really call the game nonfunctional until perhaps the very end of the level range, and even that I would consider to be arguable.

    Second, playing a "low level game" requires the GM do some heavy house-ruling to create a low level world. Like, if I want to play a martial character who actually matters, who can topple kingdoms and slay krakens and arch-devils, and who isn't rendered impotent by a mid-level wizard, that isn't an experience any level of D&D can provide without heavy DM investment, but it is absolutely something that the game thinks should be viable.
    That is something that's viable. That character is called a "Warblade"*, and the rules for playing one are in the Tome of Battle. What you can't do is play a guy who does not have any meaningful special abilities but is nevertheless able to do things that people without meaningful special abilities cannot do, and you can't do that because that demand is incoherent, not because of anything specific to 3e D&D or D&D in general.

    *: The "topple kingdoms" bit is arguable, but the mechanically-viable ways of doing that in D&D are exactly the things you're complaining about, so whatever.

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    I'd say that "topple kingdoms" isn't something that a D&D character should be doing with class features (including spells), because it's not that easy. Even if you have overwhelming power, it just doesn't work that way. Unless of course it's a dry powder keg waiting for a spark, in which case you don't need anything special. It's something that the entire team adventures towards doing, involving lots of ally-building, undermining the existing regime step by step, mostly by social means. And then culminates in a glorious revolution, which isn't something you've got a single button (or small set of buttons) for. Toppling a kingdom is a campaign, not an action. And honestly can be done at low level just as at high level, since it's not really about the difficulty of any individual task. High renown (which may or may not follow high level) probably helps, but it also hurts (more people watching you cuts both ways).
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  6. - Top - End - #276
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I'd say that "topple kingdoms" isn't something that a D&D character should be doing with class features (including spells), because it's not that easy. Even if you have overwhelming power, it just doesn't work that way.
    Sure it does. Toppling a kingdom is something that you can pretty cleanly do with (sufficiently) overwhelming force. Especially in D&D's psuedo-medieval environment, plunging a kingdom into anarchy is something you could do in an afternoon. And there are certainly abilities that would make that easier which D&D characters could reasonably have. Unleashing a plague of undead, or a horde of demons, or an endless rain of fire are all things that will solidly topple most kingdoms, and are all things that are within reach of high or Epic level D&D characters (spellcasters, at least).

    Now, if you want to "rule" a kindgom or "take over" a kingdom, I agree that those are more complicated actions. But even there, I think it's wrong to say that you shouldn't be using class features. There are all sorts of class features that a D&D character might have that would be relevant in those situations. A simple spell like plant growth has a massive impact on agricultural yields, which are one of the most important constraints on economic activity and quality of life in the eras D&D tends to mirror. Even non-magical (or at least, not explicitly magical) abilities can have a big impact here. Look at A Practical Guide to Evil. It's true that some of what happens is diplomatic negotiation or institutional improvements to the capabilities of the state. But also some of it is "this character is superhumanly good at paperwork to a degree that has an observable impact on the national scale" or "this character's personal power is such that they are capable of defeating an entire army of normal soldiers without meaningful risk". Now, you're welcome not to want that sort of thing in your game, and to prefer a more grounded approach where personal power is largely irrelevant on the national state. But, again, the solution to that is to play the game at low level, not to demand that the things you dislike be excluded entirely.

    While it's true that you want the kingdom management minigame to be a genuine minigame, and not merely a series of action declarations or second-order effects stapled onto spells, that minigame absolutely should allow people to take sweeping actions as a result of their personal abilities. It is desirable from neither a game design nor genre emulation perspective to divorce the affairs of armies and nations from the capabilities characters have.

  7. - Top - End - #277
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardwill View Post
    That said, I'm not an expert [...] but isn't E6 doing exactly what you mentioned (i.e. stopping "power up" at level 6, and allowing more of an "horizontal growth" after that)? I know it's basically an house-rule, but it's established and polished enough that it can be considered its own version/edition of D&D.
    Yes, there is a reason I used those levels and mentioned except for house rules. On a rules level I think E6 actually forbids advancement past level 6 instead of merely making it optional. Mind you its a house-rule that you can ignore so in that sense is optional. I guess I'm talking about a system designed from the ground up to represent multiple tiers of power but also has tools to control how much time you spend at each.

    Imagine D&D 4e with E10 and E20 rules so you can stop at the top of any tier until the campaign is ready to move on. Something closer to that. There are still a bunch of changes you could make, like streamline starting at higher tiers, but... honestly D&D is one of very few systems that covers such a range of power levels and I'm not sure if it does a good job of it. Well there are probably people who think it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Checked. About 40300 xp [...] And still a level 1 character (although 5s in all skills & 6s in all attributes).
    I'm going to take that as a yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    (spellcasters, at least)
    And that's about half the problem right there. Not only does the game change even if you don't want it to but it only changes for some characters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Sure it does. Toppling a kingdom is something that you can pretty cleanly do with (sufficiently) overwhelming force. Especially in D&D's psuedo-medieval environment, plunging a kingdom into anarchy is something you could do in an afternoon. And there are certainly abilities that would make that easier which D&D characters could reasonably have. Unleashing a plague of undead, or a horde of demons, or an endless rain of fire are all things that will solidly topple most kingdoms, and are all things that are within reach of high or Epic level D&D characters (spellcasters, at least).

    Now, if you want to "rule" a kindgom or "take over" a kingdom, I agree that those are more complicated actions. But even there, I think it's wrong to say that you shouldn't be using class features. There are all sorts of class features that a D&D character might have that would be relevant in those situations. A simple spell like plant growth has a massive impact on agricultural yields, which are one of the most important constraints on economic activity and quality of life in the eras D&D tends to mirror. Even non-magical (or at least, not explicitly magical) abilities can have a big impact here. Look at A Practical Guide to Evil. It's true that some of what happens is diplomatic negotiation or institutional improvements to the capabilities of the state. But also some of it is "this character is superhumanly good at paperwork to a degree that has an observable impact on the national scale" or "this character's personal power is such that they are capable of defeating an entire army of normal soldiers without meaningful risk". Now, you're welcome not to want that sort of thing in your game, and to prefer a more grounded approach where personal power is largely irrelevant on the national state. But, again, the solution to that is to play the game at low level, not to demand that the things you dislike be excluded entirely.

    While it's true that you want the kingdom management minigame to be a genuine minigame, and not merely a series of action declarations or second-order effects stapled onto spells, that minigame absolutely should allow people to take sweeping actions as a result of their personal abilities. It is desirable from neither a game design nor genre emulation perspective to divorce the affairs of armies and nations from the capabilities characters have.
    None of those first set of things are doable with most spell-casters anyway, outside of cheese. And sure, you can kill lots of people. But you can only topple the kingdom if they're already broken. Destruction just isn't that effective at breaking people (examples snipped because forum rules). And at best you end up in chaos.

    And sure, class features may help rule/take over a kingdom, but they're not buttons you press to do so. And they're certainly not necessary. A level 1 person with appropriate trust from others (or a fancy sword some dripping lady threw at him) will be much more effective at it (assuming you actually pay attention to the fiction layer) than some foppish idiot no one trusts, even if that foppish idiot has a modifier of OVER 9000!!!1!
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  9. - Top - End - #279
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Yes, there is a reason I used those levels and mentioned except for house rules. On a rules level I think E6 actually forbids advancement past level 6 instead of merely making it optional.
    E6, at least the most common variation, gives you bonus feats instead of levels past 6. Personally, I think that undermines the whole concept and you should just stick with whatever power level it is that you like, but to each their own.

    I guess I'm talking about a system designed from the ground up to represent multiple tiers of power but also has tools to control how much time you spend at each.
    That's just 3e, but with milestone levelling. I get that this is maybe not a thing that has shown up terribly often, but you seem to think the concept is a much bigger deal than it is.

    And that's about half the problem right there. Not only does the game change even if you don't want it to but it only changes for some characters.
    Well that's where you get into the question. Is the problem the characters the game changes for, or the ones it doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    None of those first set of things are doable with most spell-casters anyway, outside of cheese.
    Define "cheese". apocalypse from the sky destroys an area roughly the size of Florida. There's not really any cheese involved there, you cast the spell that blows up a bunch of stuff and it blows up a bunch of stuff.

    Frankly, even if it is cheese, that's not really a good argument that those abilities shouldn't exist, because those abilities can be found all over the place in other fantasy stories. Cat's Lakeomancy is from a story that doesn't have a game engine at all, so you can't really call it "cheese". At most you can say you don't want it in your game, and while that's fine, I reiterate that it's also the exact reason we have a level system.

    And sure, you can kill lots of people. But you can only topple the kingdom if they're already broken.
    Lemme tell you a little secret: every medieval kingdom is broken. The history of peaceful transfer of power in the eras D&D emulates is not great, and that's without what are effectively a group of low-end gods trying to burn things down on purpose.

    A level 1 person with appropriate trust from others (or a fancy sword some dripping lady threw at him) will be much more effective at it (assuming you actually pay attention to the fiction layer) than some foppish idiot no one trusts, even if that foppish idiot has a modifier of OVER 9000!!!1!
    On the contrary, assuming you pay attention to the game layer, that "foppish idiot that no one trusts" is anything but. The bonus you blithely dismiss isn't meaningless, it's a part of the character that's just as real as the fancy sword (that is to say: either entirely or not at all, depending on your view). And that bonus means that the character can make people trust them, or manipulate circumstances to suit them, or fabricate a pretext by which to claim power. Conversely, if all you have is some marginal claim to legitimacy with nothing to back it up, you're not going to achieve much of anything.

  10. - Top - End - #280
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I guess I'm talking about a system designed from the ground up to represent multiple tiers of power but also has tools to control how much time you spend at each.
    As said, Milestone experience does that : You stay at level 5 until you've beaten (or been defeated by) the Evil Baron and are ready to move on to the Plain of Peril to search for the Crown of Command. And your character does get stuff to open new options in the form of money, contacts and equipment.
    (Although in D&D, money can quickly create a power creep on its own since it can be used to buy permanent bonuses, so it has to be controled too)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Like, if I want to play a martial character who actually matters, who can topple kingdoms and slay krakens and arch-devils, and who isn't rendered impotent by a mid-level wizard, that isn't an experience any level of D&D can provide without heavy DM investment, but it is absolutely something that the game thinks should be viable.
    Sauron is killed off by 2 low-level halfling rogues and a low level ranger/monster NPC. They just don't try to do it by hitting his face with a beatstick. A low-level campaign can allow the PCs to take out krakens, demigods and evil empires, that's mostly a question of adventure design and the kind of story you want to emulate.
    Even Conan, the classical "High level martial PC", ends up killing stuff that is really above his level (immortal army-summoning wizards, old gods, giant monsters) mostly with cunning or luck (left for dead behind the enemy line, stumbling upon the Geeat Ritual, finding the monster's weakpoint at the last moment...)

    So low-to-mid level game and epic stakes are not incompatible.

    On the other hand, there are systems that allow a fighter to be Just As Awesome as the wizard and simply slice a spell with a swordstrike, but those usually are not level-based games (that will use "catalogs" of options that end up creating inbalance), but open ended games like Heroquest/Herowar, where all abilities use the same unified system.
    Last edited by Kardwill; 2021-08-13 at 01:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Well that's where you get into the question. Is the problem the characters the game changes for, or the ones it doesn't?
    If you are trying to play them together it's a problem for both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kardwill View Post
    As said, Milestone experience does that : You stay at level 5 until you've beaten (or been defeated by) the Evil Baron and are ready to move on to the Plain of Peril to search for the Crown of Command. And your character does get stuff to open new options in the form of money, contacts and equipment.
    You know I hadn't really thought of including equipment as the horizontal character growth option but if its good enough for a table (I haven't tried it so I could see it going either way) then sure that would work. I'm still interested in what a system designed for a shifting power-level would look, if I ever homebrew a system that covers multiple tiers like that maybe I'll try to fold it in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardwill View Post
    Sauron is killed off by 2 low-level halfling rogues and a low level ranger/monster NPC. They just don't try to do it by hitting his face with a beatstick. A low-level campaign can allow the PCs to take out krakens, demigods and evil empires, that's mostly a question of adventure design and the kind of story you want to emulate.
    Even Conan, the classical "High level martial PC", ends up killing stuff that is really above his level (immortal army-summoning wizards, old gods, giant monsters) mostly with cunning or luck (left for dead behind the enemy line, stumbling upon the Great Ritual, finding the monster's weak point at the last moment...)

    So low-to-mid level game and epic stakes are not incompatible.
    Do you think that Frodo and Sam would have ever been asked to, let alone completed, that quest if Gandalf, Sauron, Galadriel, and Sarumon had access to the same sort of magic that D&D wizards do?

    But yeah, I don't have a problem with Conan needing cunning or luck to beat the high end stuff, what I don't like is the idea that the guy who wants to play Conan is told to "play a low level game" but still exists in the same world as level 20 NPCs who make him totally irrelevant; Conan isn't irrelevant, he is the mightiest warrior ever who is destined the tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth beneath his sandaled feet.

    Basically, capping Drizzt at level six doesn't actually help issues, it just turns the "Elminster problem" up to 11.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    What does it mean to "break the game"? I'm certainly sympathetic to the notion that it takes more work to run a high level game, or that the imbalance in the game becomes more pronounced as the game goes on. But I wouldn't really call the game nonfunctional until perhaps the very end of the level range, and even that I would consider to be arguable.
    Well, yes, imbalance between options becomes more and more pronounced as the game goes on.

    But also you stop interacting with whole aspects of the game.

    It is trivially easy to get infinite wealth and stop interacting with the whole economic aspect of the game. At will teleport removes travel. At will divination removes investigation. Summoning and shape changing spells give you access to an infinitely long at will spell list. As numbers become higher the d20 roll stops mattering. Blanket immunities supersede mechanical bonuses. Etc.

    And people say that the game changes into something bigger, but it really doesn't. The books are written expecting you to keep exploring dungeons and killing monsters for treasure all the way up until level twenty. Even Epic Level Handbooks are more or less just bigger numbers; it doesn't suddenly become some mind-bending game about weird wizards redefining the nature of reality from higher planes of existence, although the Basic D&D Immortals set takes a few steps in that direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That is something that's viable. That character is called a "Warblade"*, and the rules for playing one are in the Tome of Battle.
    Yeah, later classes are better balanced. That doesn't mean the original classes stop existing. Likewise, a tier 3 caster who abuses planer binding and shape-change will break the game just as readily as a tier one caster, and a tier three martial is rendered just as irrelevant at a tier five martial, or even another caster who doesn't choose the win-button spells.

    Now I personally would never play a Warblade (or a 4E fighter or a 5E battle-master) because I hate the idea of a martial who is constrained to only having a handful of abilities which he forgets after using, but that's just a personal taste issue that's neither here nor there.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    What you can't do is play a guy who does not have any meaningful special abilities but is nevertheless able to do things that people without meaningful special abilities cannot do, and you can't do that because that demand is incoherent, not because of anything specific to 3e D&D or D&D in general.
    But D&D is the one who refuses to give half the classes meaningful special abilities. Other games don't have that problem.

    Also, using the term "meaningful" just kind of sets the whole thing up for goal-post shifting without a firm definition. Mundane skills are plenty meaningful in the right context, and other systems have no problem balancing mundane and supernatural abilities. Even D&D doesn't really have a problem balancing them until you get to ~fifth level spells, and some editions have much tighter balance than others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But yeah, I don't have a problem with Conan needing cunning or luck to beat the high end stuff, what I don't like is the idea that the guy who wants to play Conan is told to "play a low level game" but still exists in the same world as level 20 NPCs who make him totally irrelevant
    I'd think if you're doing E6 / E8 / whatever, the NPCs should be similarly capped, with maybe a few rare things like "is the herald of a deity" or "has absorbed an artifact" allowing one to exceed that.

    The tricky part about E#, having run a campaign which uses a modified form of it, is that because advancement becomes more organic at 6th level, it makes figuring out what an "elite" NPC looks like more difficult.

    Like, say the PCs are trying to save someone from the world's greatest assassin. The assassin is 6th level obviously, but they shouldn't just be a baseline 6th level, they should have "some amount" of advancements on top of that. But figuring out that amount, and how that stacks up to the PCs' pile of assorted advancements - not that easy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I'd think if you're doing E6 / E8 / whatever, the NPCs should be similarly capped, with maybe a few rare things like "is the herald of a deity" or "has absorbed an artifact" allowing one to exceed that.

    The tricky part about E#, having run a campaign which uses a modified form of it, is that because advancement becomes more organic at 6th level, it makes figuring out what an "elite" NPC looks like more difficult.

    Like, say the PCs are trying to save someone from the world's greatest assassin. The assassin is 6th level obviously, but they shouldn't just be a baseline 6th level, they should have "some amount" of advancements on top of that. But figuring out that amount, and how that stacks up to the PCs' pile of assorted advancements - not that easy.
    This isnít about e6 though.

    Its a response to people saying that people who expect class balance at level 20 are unreasonable and should just content themselves playing low level games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This isnít about e6 though.

    Its a response to people saying that people who expect class balance at level 20 are unreasonable and should just content themselves playing low level games.
    I'd say somebody who demands class balance across all spheres of play at level 20 is being unreasonable.


    They're not WRONG to want it, in an ideal game all classes would be perfectly balanced across all spheres of play at every level.

    But the things preventing that are pretty heavily baked into the game itself, and some would argue baked into the assumptions of the Genre. You can't really fix it without rebuilding everything from the ground up, not only from a perspective of, like, rebuilding the system, you have to re-evaluate the basic fantasies you're playing towards.


    I'd say D&D 5e does a decent job of class parity as far as damage output (Yeah Wizards can outperform fighters in a 15 minute adventuring day or against hordes, but against foes with big saves, high-level fighters are absolute monsters due to reliably heavy damage across multiple attacks), but you can't really get any sort of parity in other realms without revisiting what you want spellcasters to be able to do.

    There's no level of stealth and perception that's going to match a Scry spell for scouting. There's no move speed that's going to match Teleport for travel. When some characters are limited by reality, and others are limited only by the designer's imaginations, you can't really get that sort of Parity.


    You bring up Conan and how Conan is never irrelevant. In TTRPG's, you're not made irrelevant by your enemies, but by your allies. Conan uses strength and cunning to kill evil wizards, sure, but he never really teams up with any good wizards.


    I guess my thesis is, yes, D&D (And similar games) have a major flaw with game balance around high-level characters. But it's a well known and pretty intractable flaw. If you sit down to a high-level D&D game and demand parity of abilities between martials and spellcasters, that's not something the GM or the table can really give you, not without a bunch of buy in from you about what precisely that "Parity" means.


    Like, for example, you could do it by having the Fighter become a King, with armies at his command. Meanwhile, the Wizard might hold similar influence over the world simply by leveling up as a wizard, and that can be a great campaign, but it requires buy-in and some extra work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Sure it does. Toppling a kingdom is something that you can pretty cleanly do with (sufficiently) overwhelming force. Especially in D&D's psuedo-medieval environment, plunging a kingdom into anarchy is something you could do in an afternoon. And there are certainly abilities that would make that easier which D&D characters could reasonably have. Unleashing a plague of undead, or a horde of demons, or an endless rain of fire are all things that will solidly topple most kingdoms, and are all things that are within reach of high or Epic level D&D characters (spellcasters, at least).

    Now, if you want to "rule" a kindgom or "take over" a kingdom, I agree that those are more complicated actions. But even there, I think it's wrong to say that you shouldn't be using class features. There are all sorts of class features that a D&D character might have that would be relevant in those situations. A simple spell like plant growth has a massive impact on agricultural yields, which are one of the most important constraints on economic activity and quality of life in the eras D&D tends to mirror. Even non-magical (or at least, not explicitly magical) abilities can have a big impact here. Look at A Practical Guide to Evil. It's true that some of what happens is diplomatic negotiation or institutional improvements to the capabilities of the state. But also some of it is "this character is superhumanly good at paperwork to a degree that has an observable impact on the national scale" or "this character's personal power is such that they are capable of defeating an entire army of normal soldiers without meaningful risk". Now, you're welcome not to want that sort of thing in your game, and to prefer a more grounded approach where personal power is largely irrelevant on the national state. But, again, the solution to that is to play the game at low level, not to demand that the things you dislike be excluded entirely.

    While it's true that you want the kingdom management minigame to be a genuine minigame, and not merely a series of action declarations or second-order effects stapled onto spells, that minigame absolutely should allow people to take sweeping actions as a result of their personal abilities. It is desirable from neither a game design nor genre emulation perspective to divorce the affairs of armies and nations from the capabilities characters have.
    All that assumes that the kingdom is made of of peons and nothing else. in a d&d world, a kingdom worth something will have high level resources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Do you think that Frodo and Sam would have ever been asked to, let alone completed, that quest if Gandalf, Sauron, Galadriel, and Sarumon had access to the same sort of magic that D&D wizards do?
    Yes? The hard part of Lord of the Rings wasn't getting the Ring to Mordor. It was that the only people who could hold the Ring without going crazy and turning to Team Evil were the Hobbits, who were not skilled warriors or powerful mages. Getting exactly teleport changes things, but other than that it doesn't matter much if Gandalf gets stronger because Gandalf is already massively stronger than Frodo and Sam. From Gandalf's perspective, the campaign is "how do I snowplow a path for a couple of chumps who are good for a goblin between the two of them in a straight fight", not "how do I get the Ring to Mount Doom".

    But also you stop interacting with whole aspects of the game.
    And you start interacting with others. It is true that there are stories that break if the players can cast plane shift. But it's equally true that there are stories you can only tell about people who can cast plane shift.

    It is trivially easy to get infinite wealth and stop interacting with the whole economic aspect of the game.
    I disagree. A character who is casting fabricate or wall of iron is interacting with the economic aspect of the game to a far greater degree than any low level character does. The only reason you can get "infinite wealth" is that the economic aspect of the game is not properly developed, and you can exploit the same basic issues as a starting character just by making Craft checks. There are problems here, but they're not level-related.

    At will divination removes investigation.
    No they don't. An investigation isn't just "find out who did the thing" (and even then, there aren't really divinations that will tell you that flat out). An investigation is about finding evidence and proof and convincing people that whoever did the thing actually did it. And there, divinations are of only marginal help. Suppose you scry on the Vizier and discover him ranting about how he totally killed the king. How does that "remove the investigation"? scrying doesn't produce a recording, so you don't have any evidence you can present to anyone. You know who did it, but you still have to investigate until you can prove that to the satisfaction of whatever the legal system in the area happens to be.

    Summoning and shape changing spells give you access to an infinitely long at will spell list.
    That's the closet to true you've come, but it's massive hyperbole. You don't get an infinitely long spell list, nor do you get spells at will. Especially not at anything approaching PO levels. planar binding is very powerful, and many tables nerf or ban it. But dealing with it is pretty simple, so I don't think you can really call it game-breaking.

    And people say that the game changes into something bigger, but it really doesn't. The books are written expecting you to keep exploring dungeons and killing monsters for treasure all the way up until level twenty.
    The books expect the Monk to be a viable character. How the designers think the game works has very little bearing on how it actually does. That said, if we do accept that the game is "supposed" to be about going into dungeons and fighting bigger and bigger orcs, pretty much all your points collapse. Who gives a crap if investigation stops working if the point is to clear the next dungeon floor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Its a response to people saying that people who expect class balance at level 20 are unreasonable and should just content themselves playing low level games.
    That seems like a complete misrepresentation of what people are saying. Expecting class balance at 20th level is reasonable. I expect class balance at 20th level. But not having class balance at 20th level doesn't mean the game is broken. The game is perfectly playable if you play Warblades instead of Fighters and people don't cast planar binding or shapechange. People are telling you to play a low level game because you are describing people having high level abilities as the game breaking. If you feel that way, what you are saying is that you want to play a low level game.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    You bring up Conan and how Conan is never irrelevant. In TTRPG's, you're not made irrelevant by your enemies, but by your allies. Conan uses strength and cunning to kill evil wizards, sure, but he never really teams up with any good wizards.
    Conan also never really does anything all that high level. He is, generously, an 8th level character. And he has adventures to match. D&D supports Conan just fine. It doesn't support him at 20th level, but that's because he isn't a 20th level character. A 20th level martial character is someone like Ranger from A Practical Guide to Evil, who can cut holes between realities and hunts gods for fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    All that assumes that the kingdom is made of of peons and nothing else. in a d&d world, a kingdom worth something will have high level resources.
    Perhaps. But that doesn't rescue the point. After all, the way those high level resources will stop you from toppling their kingdom is by using their personal abilities, so it still ends up with people having class features that matter on that level.
    Last edited by RandomPeasant; 2021-08-13 at 05:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    All that assumes that the kingdom is made of of peons and nothing else. in a d&d world, a kingdom worth something will have high level resources.
    Exactly. So many of the "high level play" assumptions revolve around assuming that the PCs are the only ones who've ever thought of these tricks. And always have the strategic initiative.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    You bring up Conan and how Conan is never irrelevant. In TTRPG's, you're not made irrelevant by your enemies, but by your allies. Conan uses strength and cunning to kill evil wizards, sure, but he never really teams up with any good wizards.

    I guess my thesis is, yes, D&D (And similar games) have a major flaw with game balance around high-level characters. But it's a well known and pretty intractable flaw. If you sit down to a high-level D&D game and demand parity of abilities between martials and spellcasters, that's not something the GM or the table can really give you, not without a bunch of buy in from you about what precisely that "Parity" means.

    Like, for example, you could do it by having the Fighter become a King, with armies at his command. Meanwhile, the Wizard might hold similar influence over the world simply by leveling up as a wizard, and that can be a great campaign, but it requires buy-in and some extra work.
    Perfect balance is impossible in practice and, likely, even philosophically as you have to start comparing things that are completely incomparable.

    That being said, I scoff at the idea that you can't get "good enough" balance or that wanting it is unreasonable.

    Tons of fiction manages it, and tons of games as well. Heck, some editions of D&D have gotten 90% of the way there.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    The books expect the Monk to be a viable character. How the designers think the game works has very little bearing on how it actually does. That said, if we do accept that the game is "supposed" to be about going into dungeons and fighting bigger and bigger orcs, pretty much all your points collapse. Who gives a crap if investigation stops working if the point is to clear the next dungeon floor?
    Obviously that's hyperbole.

    But no, I don't think that a level 20 monk and a level 20 wizard are playing anywhere close to the same game, even if they are just clearing level 20 orcs out of dungeon.

    And its really weird that you don't see how investigation could be useful in a dungeon.

    But my broader point is that the game provides next to zero support for the type of "high level" games you see people discussing on the forums where people are rewriting the nature of reality and waging wars across time and space, or comparing various forms of infinite numbers. The sort of thing you would see in some of the weirder Dr. Strange comics or which you would see in a high level game of Mage: The Ascension. The sort of game that D&D is built around playing works perfectly well, on a conceptual level, if you have high level martials and wizards in the same party.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Yes? The hard part of Lord of the Rings wasn't getting the Ring to Mordor. It was that the only people who could hold the Ring without going crazy and turning to Team Evil were the Hobbits, who were not skilled warriors or powerful mages. Getting exactly teleport changes things, but other than that it doesn't matter much if Gandalf gets stronger because Gandalf is already massively stronger than Frodo and Sam. From Gandalf's perspective, the campaign is "how do I snowplow a path for a couple of chumps who are good for a goblin between the two of them in a straight fight", not "how do I get the Ring to Mount Doom".
    Are you seriously telling me that you don't think Sauron would have long since found and taken back his ring if he had the same casting abilities as a high level D&D wizard?

    Sauron knows the ring has been found and is in the possession of a hobbit named baggins. Sarumon knows even more. You really think that some form of scy and die is beyond the abilities of a D&D caster of equivalent level?


    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    And you start interacting with others. It is true that there are stories that break if the players can cast plane shift. But it's equally true that there are stories you can only tell about people who can cast plane shift.
    Disagree on both counts.

    Care to give an example?


    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I disagree. A character who is casting fabricate or wall of iron is interacting with the economic aspect of the game to a far greater degree than any low level character does. The only reason you can get "infinite wealth" is that the economic aspect of the game is not properly developed, and you can exploit the same basic issues as a starting character just by making Craft checks. There are problems here, but they're not level-related.
    No, the economic side isn't well developed, but it does have a fairly straightforward system of finding treasure and buying or crafting gear.

    You are really telling me that a low level character making craft checks is the same as a level 17 caster shapechange into Zodar, wishing for a ring of infinite wishes, and then wish for whatever gear they could possibly want?

    IIRC that is perfectly RAW viable, although I may be missing a step there, it has been a while.


    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's the closet to true you've come, but it's massive hyperbole. You don't get an infinitely long spell list, nor do you get spells at will. Especially not at anything approaching PO levels. planar binding is very powerful, and many tables nerf or ban it. But dealing with it is pretty simple, so I don't think you can really call it game-breaking.
    Now, some of this does require some DM ruling about whether or not you can shape-change into a different version of the same creature or how spells known interact with shape-change, but there are absolutely monsters that can cast wish as a SU ability or which cast spells as a 17-20th level sorcerer, cleric, or druid, which is going to get you limitless access to basically every spell in the game, although I suppose there might be a few spells somewhere that are only available to to some obscure class and no monsters that can replicate that class' casting. Although I think by RAW you could still wish up items that replicate those spells.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That seems like a complete misrepresentation of what people are saying. Expecting class balance at 20th level is reasonable. I expect class balance at 20th level. But not having class balance at 20th level doesn't mean the game is broken. The game is perfectly playable if you play Warblades instead of Fighters and people don't cast planar binding or shapechange. People are telling you to play a low level game because you are describing people having high level abilities as the game breaking. If you feel that way, what you are saying is that you want to play a low level game.
    Could you please pick a lane?

    Are you saying that high level D&D is broken but could be easily fixed (which I agree with) or that high level abilities are fundamentally broken and people who don't like that need to stick to low level games?

    Because I actually agree with the former. As to whether or not a game with horrible class balance is objectively broken, that's just splitting hairs, and what I actually said was that "D&D only really works from about level 4 to 10". I can and have run campaigns outside that range, but it is a lot less fun and takes a lot more work from everyone involved not to fly apart at the handles.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Conan also never really does anything all that high level. He is, generously, an 8th level character. And he has adventures to match. D&D supports Conan just fine. It doesn't support him at 20th level, but that's because he isn't a 20th level character.
    The problem with creating Conan in D&D is that characters are so focused on being able to do only one thing, whereas Conan has a wide breadth of skills and abilities, while at the same time being the most powerful warrior in the setting. And that last is really the sticking point.

    As I said earlier, the problem with playing Conan as an 8th level character is that the world doesn't scale down to his level. The high level monsters are still calibrated for people twice his level, and there are 20th level martials out there who will take him down without a second thought.


    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    A 20th level martial character is someone like Ranger from A Practical Guide to Evil, who can cut holes between realities and hunts gods for fun.
    Ok, now is this your head-canon about what a 20th level martial should be, or is this some TO monstrosity who gets most of his power not from character level but from using magic divices?

    Because none of the martial classes in any book that I know of, even in ToB, can cut holes between realities or hunt gods for fun. Unless you are on a wildly different optimization level than the rest of the world, even the weakest deities like Imhotep are not going to be an easy fight for a level 20 martial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Exactly. So many of the "high level play" assumptions revolve around assuming that the PCs are the only ones who've ever thought of these tricks. And always have the strategic initiative.
    More broadly, a lot of comments about high power levels and what that means assume that the power-levels between "normal person" and "top of the heap" are mostly empty. Depending on the setting that might be true, but I tend to think the biggest drop off in power (at any skill, not just combat) is between regular untrained person and regular trained person, then after that the number of people decreases a lot faster than power increases.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Care to give an example [of a story only possible with plane shift]?
    This is one particular example caught my eye because of past experience with it.

    The main issue I have found in people claiming this is important is basically it comes down to "plane shift allows you to tell stories about the planes" which isn't quite circular but also is kind of useless because I have never gotten a good answer about what sort of stories need to involve the planes. My best bet is something to do with exotic locations. My big fantasy story I was trying to write was originally set in a multiverse because of that, but as the writing process when on it was reduced to an Earth sized planet because I realised: That's already pretty big. The other story is about the time I tried to define a non-spell plane shift and boy, did someone find a lot of contradictory problems with my solution.

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    You can do planar stories even without planeshift. Just need portals or paths. Such as fairy rings, strange trees, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But my broader point is that the game provides next to zero support for the type of "high level" games you see people discussing on the forums where people are rewriting the nature of reality and waging wars across time and space, or comparing various forms of infinite numbers.
    That's a bit of a strawman. There's a lot of room between "stories that don't work in the face of teleportation and remote viewing" and "rewriting the nature of reality".

    Are you seriously telling me that you don't think Sauron would have long since found and taken back his ring if he had the same casting abilities as a high level D&D wizard?
    Define "high level". Define "long since". Certainly, if you stick enough magic in there (particularly if you leave the sides imbalanced) the story changes. But it doesn't change as rapidly or as fundamentally as you imply. The story of LotR already is that powerful mages must use their magics to protect people achieving a goal they can't directly contribute to. You can certainly see LotR a low-level campaign where the characters are the hobbits who must use their wits to survive against a stream of enemies they can't meaningfully fight. But you can also see it as a high level campaign where Gandalf (and Elrond, and Galadriel, and so on) has powerful magic that is balanced against constraints on his freedom of action. Gandalf is already much more powerful than the hobbits. But they're still the ones who carry the Ring into Mordor, because "Gandalf can't touch the Ring" is a fundamental constraint of the campaign.

    You are really telling me that a low level character making craft checks is the same as a level 17 caster shapechange into Zodar, wishing for a ring of infinite wishes, and then wish for whatever gear they could possibly want?
    I am saying that those things are broken for the same reasons (namely: that it is possible to get magic items which break the game). They are not broken to the same degree, but the fundamental issue is the same in both cases. Also, if your claim is "D&D doesn't work past 10th" and your argument is "what about shapechange", that's a bit of a bait-and-switch.

    The problem with creating Conan in D&D is that characters are so focused on being able to do only one thing, whereas Conan has a wide breadth of skills and abilities, while at the same time being the most powerful warrior in the setting.
    Why should Conan being the most powerful warrior in his setting imply that he must be the most powerful warrior in D&D? Just as Conan is limited in his power level, so too is his setting. It's not an issue that a Great Wyrm Red Dragon, or an Illithid Elder Brain, or a Balor, or an Atropal is written in a way that Conan can't beat (or even meaningfully contribute) against them, because those things aren't a part of the stories Conan is in. It's like complaining that Incarnum invalidates The Hobbit. Even if it does, so what? There's not any Incarnum in The Hobbit, so if that's the story you want to run you can jolly well just not include it.

    But step back for a second and think about what you're asking. Conan may be the strongest warrior of the Hyborian Age. But he's very much not the strongest warrior in the fantasy genre. Malazan or A Practical Guide to Evil have any number of stronger martial characters. Mistborn and Knights Radiant have powers that go beyond the standard "swing sword", but even in that respect they clearly surpass Conan. A baseline WH40k Space Marine outfights Conan, and that's the low end of the setting. There are dozens of Conan clones, and presumably at least some of them surpass the original.

    So what do we do? How do you square the circle of protecting the invariant that Conan is the strongest warrior in the world, while still allowing people whose inspiration comes from any of the wide range of stories where characters are stronger than Conan to have their fun? It seems to me that the only way to do that is to have a level system, and for the people who would like Conan (or Aragorn or Kaladin or Logen Ninefingers) to be the strongest warrior in the world to play with a level cap that allows that to be the case.

    Ok, now is this your head-canon about what a 20th level martial should be, or is this some TO monstrosity who gets most of his power not from character level but from using magic divices?
    Neither? A Practical Guide to Evil is a web serial, and Ranger is a character in that web serial. She's not one of the main characters, and as such doesn't get a huge amount of screentime, but in the time she does get she demonstrates the ability to cut things on a metaphysical level, to cut things merely by thinking about cutting them, and her shtick is that she "hunts those worth hunting", which includes the Queen of Summer and the Drow goddesses of Night (though the latter manage to avoid confrontation with her). And while she probably has the most raw power out of any martial character in the story, other characters have impressive feats all their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    My best bet is something to do with exotic locations.
    Not just exotic locations, but things that disrupt the "main" setting more generally.

    Imagine, for instance, that you'd like to have demons in your setting. If demons exist in the same world as everyone else, their power (or their brutality) has to be sharply limited, or directly counterbalanced, lest they overrun everything and turn the setting into a post-apocalyptic hellscape. But if the demons are off in their own hell-dimension, they can be powerful enough to be dangerous without creating any existential questions about the setting.

    So what plane shift allows you to do is bring to bear outside-context solutions. You can go to the Plane of Diamonds and use that to finance your operations. In The Chronicles of Amber (which is what I would consider to be the iconic example of a story that needs plane shift), Corwin does just that. You can have adventures in locales or societies that are incompatible with the real world. plane shift is probably the single most obvious example of an ability that is game changing rather than game breaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    You can do planar stories even without planeshift. Just need portals or paths. Such as fairy rings, strange trees, etc.
    Sure, in the same sense that booking a flight to Tampa is the same as owning a private jet. That is to say: not at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    You can do planar stories even without planeshift. Just need portals or paths. Such as fairy rings, strange trees, etc.
    I think the issue is more that with plane shift the party can choose between fighting the cult trying to summon a demon lord and going to that particular layer of hell and trouncing the demon lord directly, or popping over to the realm of faries and talking to the queen, or chasing down the etherial thought eater, or waging a guerrilla war on the gihyanki in the astral, or finding a way into the demiplane where the lich has its soul box thingy.

    Without plane shift its all basically DM fiat if they even get to try that. Yes, a lousy DM can keep chanting "lol nope wrong tuning fork, got back on the railroad". But with the spell and a non-terrible DM they can at least try without having rhe DM hand them a pre-plotted solution.

    Thing is, non-casters could totally have class features at the same level that did the path/portal/fairy ring. I mean, wouldn't you like it if a non-caster with a high enough level and medicine check could bring someone back from death if they'd died within the last minute? You could even tack on a gold price for specially prepared herbs and add a level of exhaustion if you worry about it being balanced with "Mr. Auto-succeeds 6 times a day because they have 'cleric' on the character sheet".
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    To RandomPeasant: I think I get what you are saying. Do you have an explanation for why the type of access plane-shift gives is important? (Nearly at will, to (almost?) all planes, that kind of thing.) Are their any essential qualities plane-shift has?

    That actually leads into my next point (and what Telok was saying) the other big issue is that these paradigm changes are locked behind such few characters and abilities, and its the same characters pretty much every time. Which lead to me, in a caster/martial disparity thread, creating an alternate non-spell casting way of moving between planes. In short the ranger could always find some path between worlds. It was soundly rejected by the caster supremist in the thread for not being plane-shift (maybe they honestly had some quality to plane-shift I was missing, but they never told me what it was).

    And I think that is a shame, if the game is going to undergo a paradigm shift than every character should participate in it.

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    Planeshift is IMO a good example of a character motivation story element. The setup of a naive mortal realm sheltered from a hard-to-access exotic multiverse starts a mortal realm character as an unimportant rube, grants them early chances to discover that there's something bigger than the world everyone around them knows, lets them work to shed that initial ignorance and become increasingly adapted to the realities of the planes and then, finally as they achieve planeshift and gate, lets them raise to a true native.

    It's like someone learning about a foreign country, visiting that country for vacation a few times, then ultimately moving to that country and getting a permanent residency. It's the moment in a classic JRPG when you get the airship or bird or hot air balloon or whatever, and the world expands. Now rather than going to Elysium being an uptime activity with the whole party portal hunting, you can hop on over there for downtime relaxation, followed by drinks with the famous heroes in Arborea.

    It makes for a good power fantasy to have a character reach for, and then come to terms with and step into when it's finally achieved.

    So to that end, I'd say that Planeshift does more to create movement and motivation than, say, Meteor Storm or Cloudkill or 4 attacks per round or whatever. And yes, it would be good if all characters had that sort of transformative thing to look forward to, even if it was a different kind of transformation such as Fighters getting automatic command of an army and lands to develop in 1ed.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-08-14 at 12:43 PM.

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    Planeshift requires attuned keys. Which aren't trivial. So unless the DM is playing along, no you can't just pop around at will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Without plane shift its all basically DM fiat if they even get to try that.
    It's also worth noting that "the DM can just fiat that you get the effects of plane shift without having it" doesn't really mean plane shift doesn't change the game. The DM fiat-ing you a portal to Hell is also changing the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To RandomPeasant: I think I get what you are saying. Do you have an explanation for why the type of access plane-shift gives is important? (Nearly at will, to (almost?) all planes, that kind of thing.) Are their any essential qualities plane-shift has?
    I don't think there's anything especially important about exactly plane shift, it's just the way that effect happens to work in D&D. If it was instead that you gained the ability to access the Web Between The Worlds, or built yourself an inter-planar ship, or gained planeswalking that works like it does in MTG, that would be pretty much the same. That said, the specific constraints you put on abilities do matter. If you declared that the planes were somehow ordered (i.e. to get to the Plane of Diamonds you have to go to the Plane of Earth first), that would have an effect on the stories you tell with plane shift. If traveling between planes has a very high cost, or takes a very long time, or can only be done at specific points in time, that changes the stories plane shift produces as well (you can think of the difference between getting on a modern jet liner to go to California, versus getting there by wagon in the 19th century). Strictly speaking, RAW plane shift isn't even the ultimate version of this effect, as it places you off-target and still requires a bunch of walking around. If you had the ability to just planeswalk to wherever the adventure was on your destination plane, that would additionally change things by giving you the ability to have adventures in exotic locales without having to spend time and resources getting there.

    In short the ranger could always find some path between worlds. It was soundly rejected by the caster supremist in the thread for not being plane-shift (maybe they honestly had some quality to plane-shift I was missing, but they never told me what it was).
    I think it depends on how you phrase it. If you say "the Ranger can find existing paths between worlds", that sounds like you're giving a DM veto that plane shift doesn't have, which undermines the point of the ability (at least, one of the points). If it works more like (to borrow another example from A Practical Guide to Evil) Archer's ability to use the Twilight Ways, where it is explicitly a power she can use and works and her discretion, I (someone who would probably be describe as a "caster supremist" by the other side) would consider that entirely adequate as an alternative to plane shift.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    even if it was a different kind of transformation such as Fighters getting automatic command of an army and lands to develop in 1ed.
    That's a common proposal, but I don't really like it. You should be able to get your hands on an army if you want, but I don't think that should be specifically the Fighter's niche or that it's a good substitute for things like plane shift.

    For one thing, it fails the genre emulation test pretty horribly in both directions. There are plenty of lone swordsmen or barbarian wanderers who really shouldn't become generals at high level, and there are plenty of armies or nations that are lead by spellcasters. For another, they impact minigames that are widely disparate. It's true that both "I can visit the realms of the gods" and "I command a legion of troops" represent a character reaching a new milestone of power, the latter requires a change in how adventures are structured to be relevant. If you have plane shift, that can matter in a story that is still about you and a couple of your friends breaking into the big bad's fortress. But for an army to be a relevant ability, there has to be a part of the adventure where there's something for an army to do, and that's a fundamental change in the adventure's structure. I'm generally skeptical of trying to balance trade-offs that reach between minigames like that.

    Overall, I think characters need to get both high level abilities that change how they approach adventures and abilities that allow them to take actions that influence things on the scale of armies and nations, and players need to have some degree of choice in what sorts of abilities their character gets at that point. The Fighter needs to do something that lets him keep up when adventures go multi-planar or become about leading armies, but declaring that he has to get specific abilities unnecessary (after all, casters can choose which utility options they use and have access to).
    Last edited by RandomPeasant; 2021-08-14 at 01:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's a common proposal, but I don't really like it. You should be able to get your hands on an army if you want, but I don't think that should be specifically the Fighter's niche or that it's a good substitute for things like plane shift.

    For one thing, it fails the genre emulation test pretty horribly in both directions. There are plenty of lone swordsmen or barbarian wanderers who really shouldn't become generals at high level, and there are plenty of armies or nations that are lead by spellcasters. For another, they impact minigames that are widely disparate. It's true that both "I can visit the realms of the gods" and "I command a legion of troops" represent a character reaching a new milestone of power, the latter requires a change in how adventures are structured to be relevant. If you have plane shift, that can matter in a story that is still about you and a couple of your friends breaking into the big bad's fortress. But for an army to be a relevant ability, there has to be a part of the adventure where there's something for an army to do, and that's a fundamental change in the adventure's structure. I'm generally skeptical of trying to balance trade-offs that reach between minigames like that.
    I'm looking at this less from the 'game' perspective or 'genre emulation' perspective, and more from the perspective of having evocative and transformative fantasies to pursue, the potential for which are made clear at onset. I don't think it particularly HAS to be leading an army, but going from NCO to officer to general to warlord or something like that is an example of a kind of progression fantasy, and its one that has been sharply de-emphasized because it conflicts with game considerations. So I think there's untapped design potential there. If you want to make the army thing satisfying, you probably need to have a game where leading others is presented as fundamentally meaningful and something to seek to attain, the way that the depicted sophistication and cosmic importance of the planes makes them seem a worthy goal to attain. So the world has to be structured around important things being achieved by armies rather than by tactical squads, filled with places that are under occupation, military hierarchies and privileges, etc - even if the PCs don't actually start in such a hierarchy. For example, you could have the norm be that any given city or town changes hands from one kingdom to another on a yearly basis as conflicts develop, and that commanding an army lets the PCs not only influence those changes but also lets them stake out a stable area that resists that chaos. Of course, you could make it some other kind of thing - the best is to read the audience and see what your particular group of players is actually interested in exploring.

    I guess my point is, I think it's better not to try to preserve 'how adventures are structured' and not just let that change, but design around the idea that it should change and really center that in the game - or at least that there's an big opportunity for systems which do that, not that every system has to be like that. Maybe another way to put it is, in most versions of D&D when someone plays the wizard and someone else plays the fighter, they may be expressing that they want fundamentally incompatible things from the game, so if you change what the wizard is in order to preserve adventure structure across 20 levels, it will always be unsatisfying to someone who is excited by the idea of fundamental personal transformation as a core game aspect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's a bit of a strawman. There's a lot of room between "stories that don't work in the face of teleportation and remote viewing" and "rewriting the nature of reality".
    I fully agree.

    The thing is, this is not the first thread that has turned into a caster vs. martial debate, and I have a lot of baggage from previous versions of that thread that I might be off-loading onto you.

    Normally when people say something like "If you want to play a martial character, stick to low level games" or "D&D doesn't break at high level, it just changes" they are setting high level D&D up as something that, imo, it isn't.

    At its core, D&D at every level is about going on quests and slaying monsters and standard heroic fantasy stuff, and imo there is no power level where a martial character cannot participate in that genre, and once you do get into the level where mundane characters need not apply, it would stop resembling D&D as written in any books.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Define "high level". Define "long since". Certainly, if you stick enough magic in there (particularly if you leave the sides imbalanced) the story changes. But it doesn't change as rapidly or as fundamentally as you imply. The story of LotR already is that powerful mages must use their magics to protect people achieving a goal they can't directly contribute to. You can certainly see LotR a low-level campaign where the characters are the hobbits who must use their wits to survive against a stream of enemies they can't meaningfully fight. But you can also see it as a high level campaign where Gandalf (and Elrond, and Galadriel, and so on) has powerful magic that is balanced against constraints on his freedom of action. Gandalf is already much more powerful than the hobbits. But they're still the ones who carry the Ring into Mordor, because "Gandalf can't touch the Ring" is a fundamental constraint of the campaign.
    Also in those previous threads, people would rebut my argument that the Avengers and Justice League both have "badass normal" characters in them and work fine by saying that those settings run on authorial FIAT rather than pure realism. I have a number of objections to that argument, but there is a core of truth in it, and I think the same applies here. Trying to run a game like Lord of the Rings in D&D is very hard and, imo, would require a ton of DM FIAT to stop both the villains and the allies from making the Hobbit PCs irrelevant.

    Also, IMO, when people say they want their PCs to matter, they want to be the big damn hero, not the quite gardener who succeeds through being an average guy caught up in the machinations of celestial beings.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I am saying that those things are broken for the same reasons (namely: that it is possible to get magic items which break the game). They are not broken to the same degree, but the fundamental issue is the same in both cases. Also, if your claim is "D&D doesn't work past 10th" and your argument is "what about shapechange", that's a bit of a bait-and-switch.
    Ok, let me try again.

    At mid level D&D, the game more or less works. You can toss any combination of classes against any combination of appropriate CR foes and get more or less a good game where everyone matters and the outcome is not pre-decided. At low-mid levels you can absolutely break the game, but you generally have to go pretty far out of your way to do it.

    At high level, the power level of various characters and options have drastically diverged, and it takes a lot of work to bring any sort of balance to the game. There are numerous high level spells that simply break basic aspects of the game and provide infinite loops by their very nature. Shape-change alone is so OP that it can basically grant the caster any other ability in the game as often as they like with none of the costs.

    You can fix high level D&D so it plays like mid-level D&D, IMO 5E got most of the way there, and 1E and 2E were a lot closer to this point than 3.X. But its a lot of work to do so, and I don't think saying that is really that wild a claim. People have made entire sub-games like E6 and E8, WoTC said their goal with bounded accuracy in 5E was to stretch out the mid-level experience, most famous modules are for mid-level characters (even the old school epics like Dragon Lance or the Giants / Drow series start at 3 and end at 12-14 iirc), and you can find plenty of quotes from the designers of the original game that they never intended for anyone to play past level 9.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Why should Conan being the most powerful warrior in his setting imply that he must be the most powerful warrior in D&D? Just as Conan is limited in his power level, so too is his setting. It's not an issue that a Great Wyrm Red Dragon, or an Illithid Elder Brain, or a Balor, or an Atropal is written in a way that Conan can't beat (or even meaningfully contribute) against them, because those things aren't a part of the stories Conan is in. It's like complaining that Incarnum invalidates The Hobbit. Even if it does, so what? There's not any Incarnum in The Hobbit, so if that's the story you want to run you can jolly well just not include it.

    But step back for a second and think about what you're asking. Conan may be the strongest warrior of the Hyborian Age. But he's very much not the strongest warrior in the fantasy genre. Malazan or A Practical Guide to Evil have any number of stronger martial characters. Mistborn and Knights Radiant have powers that go beyond the standard "swing sword", but even in that respect they clearly surpass Conan. A baseline WH40k Space Marine outfights Conan, and that's the low end of the setting. There are dozens of Conan clones, and presumably at least some of them surpass the original.

    So what do we do? How do you square the circle of protecting the invariant that Conan is the strongest warrior in the world, while still allowing people whose inspiration comes from any of the wide range of stories where characters are stronger than Conan to have their fun? It seems to me that the only way to do that is to have a level system, and for the people who would like Conan (or Aragorn or Kaladin or Logen Ninefingers) to be the strongest warrior in the world to play with a level cap that allows that to be the case.
    D&D thinks that Conan is a high level barbarian. But its not really about Conan. I could say the same thing about Kratos, or Beowulf, or Batman, or Aragorn, or Achilles, or Captain America, or King Arthur, or Zorro, or James Bond, or Cyrano De Bergerac, or Sigmar Heldenhammer, or Roland, or Guts, or Drizzt, any other high level martial character.

    The point is that D&D provides 20th level (and epic) progression for martial characters, and the fiction makes them out to be credible threats, and the fact that one can't and that class disparity is so broad is a strong indication that the high level game does not work as well as the mid level game imo.

    Further, saying that people who like such characters should be content just playing a low level character is wrong, because a big part of those characters is the power fantasy and the heroic fantasy; that these characters are big players who really matter to the world, can cause and solve great problems, can steer the course of history, and are amongst the best in their specific spheres of influence.

    I have no problem imagining Achilles or Beowulf defeating a kracken or a purple worm in combat, but that just won't happen if you are capped at sixth level, just like you won't be able to overthrow a kingdom if the king can call upon a squad of high teens level characters to stop you.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Neither? A Practical Guide to Evil is a web serial, and Ranger is a character in that web serial. She's not one of the main characters, and as such doesn't get a huge amount of screentime, but in the time she does get she demonstrates the ability to cut things on a metaphysical level, to cut things merely by thinking about cutting them, and her shtick is that she "hunts those worth hunting", which includes the Queen of Summer and the Drow goddesses of Night (though the latter manage to avoid confrontation with her). And while she probably has the most raw power out of any martial character in the story, other characters have impressive feats all their own.
    Ok, but how is she a good representation of 20th level D&D martial when she does things that a 20th level D&D martial just can't do? I don't understand where you are going with this.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think it depends on how you phrase it. If you say "the Ranger can find existing paths between worlds", that sounds like you're giving a DM veto that plane shift doesn't have, which undermines the point of the ability (at least, one of the points).
    There was no option for the GM to veto the ability in any of the versions I presented. Not that a GM couldn't get in the way if they tried, but it would kind of be the equivalent of suddenly enforcing material components and then making some really hard to find.

    And yes, it looks like this thread has completely gone into caster/martial disparity. I got one new thing from this one: The explanation of why plane-shift is useful and part of me just wants to dig further into that instead of rattle off "This is how I think going up in tier should be handled" again. Admittedly this paragraph only really exists why there isn't a more interesting paragraph here under the clarification above.

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