High Level Play – Concerns

The latest Legends and Lore article on the WotC website worried me, and I responded in the comments. I feel this needs more visibility than hidden in comments and rage, however. Luckily, I have a blog I never use for just this sort of occasion.

What I wrote:

This post makes me the most concerned out of any L&L post ths far, as it seems that Monte doesn’t actually understand the reasons people think D&D breaks at high levels. This worries me.

I love the idea, the concept of high level play. The problem is, execution is always mediocre. In 3e and prior, the issue wasn’t just that encounters could be bypassed with spells, it was that the non-casters had to just sit aside twiddling their thumbs as the casters did so. The issue wasn’t that you could disintegrate hordes, it was that climactic fights could be 2 hours long, or 2 minutes, depending solely on how the Wizard’s luck went with those spells.

4e, despite all the complaining handles the tier changes the smoothest. Fights get too long, and the DM has to do a lot of work to give big challenges sometimes, but everyone remains useful, and everyone gets a chance to contribute to the game.

As a fan of Mages (as you said at DDXP), I understand fully why you’re a fan of high level play in all editions.

But please, try to understand why some of us, as fans of Fighters, Rogues, Paladins, etc, have issues with it.

I like the idea. I want the game to change. I want my Paladin to soar across the sky, mounted on a dragon, pummeling demon lords and saving gods.

But in 3e and prior? I never got the chance. Either the Wizard removed all challenge, or he failed and we TPK’d since we couldn’t get past the magical wards.

For me, the game broke.

Please understand this. And please let me pummel my demon lords.

I suppose my main point is that D&D doesn’t break as a game at high level by default. Rather, it breaks if you want to have a diverse party. If my entire 3e party were primary spellcasters, I’d be fine. But it absolutely sucks playing my high-level fighter alongside those characters.

Monte talks about the type of game where you create your own planes and lay waste to planets, teleporting around and disintegrating hordes. But he needs to remember that not every class gets to do those things. We need to make sure those classes are still fun.

If we can do that, and keep combat from ballooning into a 3-hour affair, then I’d officially call high-level play “not broken”.