I thought that a discussion of epic level play and Greyhawk would be a very interesting subject. I realize that many people do not like epic play in GH, and I agree it should be controlled. That said, I think it has a place in GH. Thus I thought I would outline how I am handling this issue, as it is looming in my campaign, and take suggestions.
In my current campaign, the characters are 13th level, moving through Maure Castle (A Great Adventure if you have not looked at it yet). They should be approaching 17th by the end. Thereafter we will tackle a few Giants in Geoff. And I do not like the characters enough as a whole to take them into Epic Play. So the following is how I am currently dealing with Epic level play (n.b. this is all based on 3rd, not 3.5):
1) There are just not enough challenges in Greyhawk for everyone to fight Epic Play. In my mind, Epic Play is fighting Iuz, Ancient Red Dragons, and rooting out Vecna. You do not go around the corner to the caves of Chaos and tackle a 20 CR. Thus, they are left to fighting lower level encounters. I believe the standard is 13 encounters per level of party cr should equal sufficient xp for advancement. This means that once a party is 20th level, they must fight through thirteen 20th level encounters to gain one level. Or maybe twenty 19 CR encounters. Thus the work involved in advancing becomes very tedious, and dangerous.
2) My belief is that epic is not for every Character, particularly in a GH context. To me Epic characters should have a certain panache. These are creatures noticed by the Gods themselves. Think Zagyg, Kelanen, Hercules... all the Heros of the first Dieties & Demigods. People with style, either loved or hated by all. Not Morty the 25th level accountant. I do not know that it is possible for a whole party to be that interesting. Mine certainly is not. The characters are loved by their players, and a couple have real potential. But the whole party is just not ready for prime time. In another post I asked for ways to retire a party, and received some excellent responses. I will use them on most of the party.
3) Epic play should be reserved for parties of Real Epic Players (this is personal for my game and I am not suggesting this to anyone else, I just prefer it this way). This keeps players involved with the Story, and they care about the characters, no throw aways here. If most of my party retires, is bound, elevated to a higher plane, etc., we may break them out for an occasional jaunt, but in the main they will be NPC's with Player input. And we start again, at 1st level, with a whole new batch of charaters.
The one or two Characters who move on to Epic (and I judge this because the whole party has become attached to these particular characters), will have some sort of out of game rest area. Then, when everyone has eventually developed those characters with just that certain something, then we will try some epic play.
4) Epic Play should be very deadly. You are fighting with Powers, Godlings and Demon Lords, you better be ready. And consider it carefully. Or maybe it is time settle back and enjoy the good life you have so richly deserved. Maybe start a family.
Anyway, that is how I think I will handle Epic, but I cannot wait for some input.
Frankly, I think epic-level power, especially in 3.5, is just obscene, and nothing we should be tainting Greyhawk with. The players do not need to be fighting gods, not even demigods like Iuz. Being 15th-16th level should represent an incredible achievement, marking the character out as someone who wields power and influence, and whose reputation will precede them for kilometers and kilometers, instead of being scorned for not reaching 20th level. Not every one is going to be an epic hero sung about by the bards, but such a character is going to be idolized/respected/feared by everyone else who shares his profession. Fighters will respect other fighters, thieves resepct other thieves, etc.
There is no need to add in a train-load of godlike powers and give out magic items like Christmas presents, or anything like that. Characters who attain incredible quasi-deity powers, such as Zagig, Murlynd or Heward. should be worked into the game's plot and history, as opposed to simply giving them a list of stats and a CR. They function as much as plot devices as they do characters. If a player attains that level of power, chances are they'd attain hero- or quasi-deity status, and could eventually develop a priesthood around their memory.
And besides, while hacking it out with Iuz and his demonic court in a free-for-all slugfest might make for some great fireworks, how much more challenging and rewarding would it be to find Iuz's soul husks, overcome the traps and defenses he has set up, and destroy them, reducing him to a mortal cambion? Then, when you take him on, he's at a much more manageable power level.
I'm sorry if this sounds like trolling-that's not my intent at all. I'm just disgusted with epic-level play more than anything else-I'm bewildered by all the options and choices such characters have. The major challenge in epic-level play seems to be to decide which ability you're going to use, not in solving puzzles and fighitng monsters....
Epic level play isn't about God slaying, but you won't get that impression from the wizard boards. Epic is what happens when you advance a character to Drizzit or Tenser's levels. A shmuck Demon Lord has a CR higher than 20, as do any powerful dragons. Since wacking a Demon Lord (Q1 or Bloodstone Pass) is a long time D&D tradition, this isn't at all wacky.
My advice is to stay away from the Wizards Epic boards, except for mechanical questions. There are far too many people who want to min/max a 40 level build with 3 templates and the worst example of epic IM not HO. I have actually run an epic campaign (homebrew) and the characters were powerful, but not ungodly so.
I'd be pleased if my players could reach epic levels but we've been playing the same characters for 14 years, and the highest level pc is 13th.
I don't believe that epic levels should be beyond reach in Greyhawk but the 3e xp awards are just silly. The initial post suggested that the characters should go up four levels in a single dungeon; that is unheard of in my campaign. Going up one level per dungeon happens, but more often they go up one level for every three or four adventures.
Mind you, this arose from the fact that if the characters went up levels too quickly, they'd be too powerful for all the modules I had for them to play, rather than from a desire to restrict them.
My advice is to divide the xp just from killing by 4 and award 10-50 xp for good ideas, good tactics, and good roleplaying (i.e. stuff beyond the dice rolls). You can also award xp for completing adventures or tasks.
I've found that it works well, it encourages thinking rather than dice rolling and killing, and it delays advancement nicely. I'm sure that epic play will come in the next 10 years or so (lol) which is just as well, because they have to rescue Sturtevant from Gibbering Gate.
Well, Lets just start with the obvious... I understand that some do not wish epic play at all. I understand that more do not wish Epic play in Greyhawk.... don't let your players go there. Thanks.
Now, I agree that moving up four levels in a single adventure is rather obscene. I think if you look at the module, it will be better understood. In addition, the characters are scheduled (little do they know) to take a long and extended Astral/Plane of Shadow sidetrek. This should entail a weekly gaming session of approximately 12 hours, and should take until christmas.
Unfortunately, 12 years is too long for most of these persons. They are military, and we are loosing one this month to Iraq. Normal rotation limits the campaigns to 3 or 4 years. So, while I deeply respect those who can go for that long (and would love to hear some of the stories your characters have), we do not have that luxury.
As to the enemies, I like the idea of a Demon lord. I also had it suggested that extraplanar adventures are good for not upsetting the balance.
I think my question involves more of how you weave the story for Epic Play without having the characters destroying nations. The group is not that terribly powerful, just tactically sound. I do not think they wish to destroy nations, they just want to continue playing the same characters. As I said, I am not sure that I want to go into Epic with all of them. Honestly, the characters have some good stories, they are fun, and most will never be heros renowned for 5000 years.
As to the limiting of xp, that is what I was thinking of with the lowering of CR. Several members of the group do or have run their own games. They are somewhat aware of what xp value each creature has. Thus, they would probably feel a little cheated. It might work in a more subtle manner.
I always felt that high level characters where getting abused because the DMs refused to give the players proper responsibilities...
Instead of Iuz sitting down for his breakfast reading his boneshadow report of up and comers...hmmm 10 lvl better get my black cape cleaned they should be here in 6 months.
Unfortunately many view GH as a movie or video game, they have to "win" have a showdown with the big bad.
Played properly by double digits the "little people" should be just as important and their PC superiors and peers should have an interest in them.
Why would any monarch, church, society or syndicate allow powerful members to go off and try to kill Iuz at all when they can be much more useful elsewhere?
By high level :
Fighters: are regional if not national heroes...hold key stronghold, inspire the army, recruitment drives, inspection tours to rally the peoples morale.
Dead: morale plumments, troops suffer, farmer brown loses heart
Priest: leader of church, inspiration to faithful seen as an icon of the faith
Dead:religious turmoil, faithful spiritual crisis becomes evil cult breeding ground.
Wizard: seen as scholars and powerful resources, manufactures magic items vital to the nation.
Dead: loss of magic powers and fear that the magical protections will not be available.
Thief: seen as professional and unofficial organizers of the underworld to maintain control and minimize violence which is seen as bad for business.
Dead:unqualified crime figures sieze power, use violence to retain the position, gang warfare increases, national resources diverted to combat crime and crime profits suffer.
If anything it's selfish to go God hunting and no King, General, High Priest, Court Mage or Underworld Kingpin would allow a talented underling to do something so dumb given the consequences.
Crag, I have enjoyed your posts, and as others have said, welcome to Canonfire. I would make a comment and a request.
A) I have to disagree about people in power not being willing sacrafice promising underlings. I see it in employees on a regular basis. They will gladly stifle, malign, discredit or sabatoge a promising underling on a moments notice. They see these people as threats, not assets. This applies in spades to many people who achieve power through "Heredity," which kings and nobility generally qualify. We would hope this is not the case, but it all too often is.
B) I may be slow, but I failed to understand the gist of this last post. From your other posts, there is probably something quite good here, but could you revisit it and clarify some. I seem to have lost your point.
I agree that by the time characters get to double digits then nations/organizations will probably want them to do things for them. That doesn't mean they will.
1) PCs are usually outside the power structure of most organizations. If they were inside they wouldn't be free lance adventurers (there are obviously exceptions). They are going to have be included (land grants, titles, etc.) before they become properly obediant.
2) That doesn't mean the PCs will buy into it. Mordenkanien and Tenser follower their own paths, not those laid out by kings.
How long characters should take to level and how high level a campaign you should run is something that is up to you and your group. My group levels after every 2nd or 3rd adventure.
I run an Epic GH campaign and let me tell you the PCs are slowly becoming worse than the villains. I've tried quite admirably to remove them from influencing Oerthly matters and go plane-hopping, but enevitably some have unresolved goals on the prime left over from when they were low level whipping boys. Interestingly from level 1 to 20+ I intentionally never once used Iuz as a major villain in a plot, not even thru his underlings. Yet once the Epic PCs got their big egos on, what do they scheme on? To take out Iuz of course. They are drunk on power and as such i've stated once this campaign is closed I'll go back to my max level cap of 20th level. Epic was fun at first but its too over the top now trying to find challenges for them. Epic magic items are evil too, not only in their power level but in what they will do to your economy. A sword worth 90,000gp is impressive but try a 1,000,000gp sword. Epic spells are just as bad price wise. Oerth just plainly can't support this kind of spending.
Thanks Mortellan. These were the types of issues I was thinking of. I have been hinting since the beginning, that the root of many of the problems the charaters have been facing and villans pursuing, have been off world. It sounds as if that may be the only solution.
I have several PC's who I can see this being a serious problem. I also have three PC's who I do not believe would be so concerned with Domestic issues. Character development is their goal, and these are some downright cool lads and lasses (oh yeah, and a wyrmling silver dragon ranger )
One issue that I am having is that this party is becoming fairly high level, but is not particularly powerful. For example, in Castle Maure, there is a Advanced Ogre Mage. I have been tormenting them mercilessly with this creature, and the have proven nearly helpless before him. I do not wish to stop their advancement when there is so obvious of shortcomings and they feel there is advancement for them with these characters.
All that said (and this has been a theme that has crossed several threads) I think that moving forward and keeping xp secret, it the best solution so far (from another thread).
A better question is, do people actually sell 90,000 gp swords. At 90K it should strike fear in the hearts of all lying in the Scabbard. And if its truly worth 90K (not counting the Gems & such) then it is better off in the hands of Cohort i would think.
Well, think about how Tenser, the Cirle of Eight, Sevvord Redbeard, and others handle themselves as Epic-level characters. They don't go throwing their weight around as if they could do anything to anyone anywhere at any time. The only people who actl like that are folks like Grenell and Redbeard, and only when they're in the bounds of their own countries. All these powerful figures have many enemies-and they know if they push too hard, the enemies might wind up with a lot more support.
If your PCs begin showing off and openly defying laws or attacking people just to prove how "kewl and badass" they are, then the truly powerful people-the ones ruling nations and acting as court wizards, high priests, kings and lords-are going to get angry, and they're also going to make these wretched upstarts pay for harming the people that are ostensibly under their protection. Even the kindly King Belvor is not going to tolerate open threats to his power and assaults on his people, nor would the generous and friendly people of Highfolk tolerate foreign adventurers flaunting the law and pushing people around just to prove what big men they are. If they act like bullies, then they're going to pay for it.
People who act like that are the ones that become hated villains. They're the ones who hide out in keeps deep in the Grandwood Forest or the Rushmoors, and are forced to consort with orcs and goblins because of their evil reputations.
The only places of power they could find would be in the Bandit Kingdoms or perhaps Stonehold. They won't be able to gain land and title in the lands of Aerdy, since the princes would obviously resent any foreigners who come traipsing into their land and causing havoc, to say nothing of threatening their power base. Iuz won't tolerate anyone seizing power in his lands unless those who do so pledge allegiance to him. The established states can and do grant titles and plots of land all the time, but they do that to people who prove themselves willing to pledge allegiance to the state and work as part of it, not simply acting like bastards and doing whatever they like.
And besides, here's the chance for you as DM to turn the tables on the players-if they're drunk with power and acting like villains, why not let them play the villains while you play the heroes, for once? Send adventuring parties to harass them. Whether these lower-level adventurers are either ambitious or altruistic, they'll begin to be a headache for the villain PCs. Worse yet, if word gets out about these villains, other power groups and figures large and small will take note. More adventurers may test their mettle if the PCs and/or their strongholds become notorious. States such as Furyondy, Keoland, Nyrond, Ahlissa or Sunndi may take action against these villains if the players threaten them. Let them deal with all the headaches your NPC villains have had to put up with. >:D
As for the ambitious plans some people might hatch out of the blue-to take on Iuz even through he's never done anything to them, as Mortellan described-work that into the campaign, and take note of it. Groups such as the Circle of Eight or the government of Furyondy might manipulate the party into taking suicidal risks, becoming a nuisance for the Old One while the NPCs hatch their own schemes to hinder Iuz. To make it really unpleasant, let them think they're doing it all in the name of good, only to have it so they're being manipulated by Tuerny the Merciless...>:D
Attempting to take on Iuz all by your lonesome is stupid, especially if you've offended a lot of people in the past with your rash actions. Furyondy probably won't assist you if you've been violating its laws and robbing its citizens, and even the most zealous Cuthbertines and Pholtans know better than to take on someone as powerful as the Old One without careful planning and preparation. More likely, they'll draw Iuz's attention to wherever they're attacking from, and possibly put innocent people in danger if Iuz perceives them as enough of a threat to warrant a pre-emptive assault on their home base. If all else fails, let them take the Old One on...and make them run the gauntlet of his Boneheart spellcasters, all the way up to Halga, Null, and a pack of mariliths. >:D
If your players protest at any of this, just remind them that their actions have consequences, and that they aren't the only powerful people in the world, and are certainly not the mightiest of all...
I think I would like to rephrase my question at this point, as I gain clarity on many of the issues involved with Epic play. The responses have made me consider other items.
It would seem that the biggest single issue of 3E is level/power of characters and rapid advancement. My characters have advanced at a reasonable pace, taking 3 years of real time to advance to 12th/13th level. I do not think that this is bad. We like a 50/50 mix of roleplay/combat. They do not have groteque magic, but my item placement is generally of unique/indavidualize items.
My players are mainly mature adults, without a hankering for omnipotence or godlike power. They just want to keep playing these characters.
There are several I wish to retire... the concepts were not that intriging to begin with, and they have not improved much with levels. However, those that are intresting, I would like to continue play at some point. I want to cull some (see seperate thread on winding down a good campaign), and then continue, maybe referencing their old characters in the new campaign as PC's.
It is not my concept that they hit 21st level, and suddenly take on The Kingdom of Nyrond. Is this how the Epic Level hand book presents it? They might can take on the king's Champion, or the Court Wizard, but they are not the power of Nyrond. Nyrond has an army, and probably a few wizards. It seems however that yhe feeling is that the Epic Level handbook does not hold this true.
I would think that the equation shoudl be something like the following:
1 - 15th level = Powerful and Notables in a Small Country = 100< militia
15th - 20th = Powerful and Notable in a Region, Known Outside the region = 250< Militia or Single Middle Aged Dragon
20th - 40th = the most powerful people in the country to the most powerful people on the planet, at 40th level equal to a small army/nation.]
40th + = Godlings/ Iuz = Medium Nations
It seems that what is being said is that the way the system works, this is not true. Rather, at 25th level, they are taking on Nations and slaying Demi Gods. Is this how it is working?
If so, this is not what I or my players are seeking. At 13th level, they just teleported for the first time. There is lots left to do, without overthrowing the whole world.
Is there a basic breakdown in the game mechanics? It does not seem like Tenser meddles that much. And I have always assumed that there were other people of his level who were just not as notable. After all effectivness, quality, character are not equivalent to fame.... look at Paris Hilton.
No it doesn't work that way, although the munchkins that can be found on some epic boards act like it.
I have run a campaign that took the characters from 5th to 25th level in the course of a year and a half. The book is for all post epic play, including 50th level uber menschen. Power levels continue to increase and their are more powerful feats with very hard to meat prerequisites. Every class gets a progression of bonus feat, hitpoints and skillpoints, some class features continue to improve, and every even level all saves go +1 and every odd there is a +1 bonus to hit (epic bonus not BAB).
They are more powerful, but not unbeatable. One piece of advice: every now and then let them feel their epicness. Let them trash someone who is badass but has no chance against them. Remind them of the power they wield. All actions have consequences is especially important to remember with epic characters and can have unforseen consequences. "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" is bad enough when someone tries to curry favor by whacking said priest, but even worse if a powerful priest takes it seriously and tries to nip in the bud in a non-survivable fashion.
Let me recommend Steven Erickson's Malazan Books of the Fallen. Not only are they great, but the characters range from ordinary mortals to epic. The Black Company by Glen Cook is also useful for how Epic characters can impact the world and visa versa.
I have to admit, my opinion is colored by the disgusting things I see on the Wizards boards and in the excerpts from some Mongoose modules that my friend has shown me. Basically, I think the feel in Greyhawk is that when you're a 12th-13th level character, you're going to have a reputation, some fame, and maybe some legends attached to your names as the bards sing about you and maybe embellish your exploits to excite their audience. Your characters would already stand out in a small country like Onnwal, the Sea Princes, Bissel, or Ratik. In Keoland, Ahlissa or Furyondy, the powerful NPCs and political figures will have heard of them, if they don't actively monitor them.
If your characters want to keep playing their characters but you want to retire them, then my advice would be to let them go out with a bang, carrying on some heroic deeds and thwarting dark, dangerous plots that earn them powerful friends. A great way to retire characters but keep them around is to let them retire as lords, dukes, grand wizards, the heads of guilds, etc.
Nyrond needs nobles to settle its eastern borders and defend it from its enemies, and King Lynwerd would be happy to grant titles and land grants to anyone who can take care of his eastern lands. More tax revenue, more security, and fewer headaches for the hapless monarch. That way, your characters have essentially carved out a place for themselves in Nyrond's history. THey are now part of the aristocracy, and the players can know that their characters went out on top as big shots. Even when they retire, you can re-introduce them as NPCs ten or fifteen game-years down the road, when they've established dynasties that keep the family name recorded in history.
King Belvor would also probably do the same for adventurers who provide a staunch defense against Iuz, Overking Xavener will reward those who can tame the Grandwood Forest or clear Pontylver of its undead, Grand Duke Owen will doubtless give the highest honors he can to those who defeat the giants infesting Geoff. And, if they want, they can round up an army, move into an unclaimed area, and set up their own little realm, and interact wth the bigger Flanaess states.
As far as the Epic-level handbook and epic-level play goes, I don't think you really have anything to worry about, then. Those two or three characters you want to eventually reach Epic level should be treated the way you as DM would handle Mordenkainen or Tenser. They won't stroll around acting like gods and thinking they can take on the whole Aerdi army with one hand tied behind their backs, but they will certainly have as much influence as the other luminaries of the Flanaess. The LGG doesn't give Mordenkainen's exact level, just saying he's a 20+ level wizard. If your characters reach that level of power, they might be involved in the same careful intrigues and oerth-shaking plots that Mordy is. Who knows...they might even join the Circle or Citadel of Eight, or act as rivals to these groups! Taking over the Valley of the Mage, becoming the Grand Imperial Wyvern of the Knights of the Watch, becoming the Grand Druid of the world...these are all possible roles for an Epic character. And when they retire, they might even follow Heward or Zagyg, and become hero-gods. In this way, they've made a permanent mark on your world's mythos, which is exactly what the best PCs do in Greyhawk.
I second Cruel Summer Lord (like the name BTW). The wizard boards are horrible, except for games mechanics issues. I like starting play at the higher end of low level or lower end of mid, but there are guys there that want to start campaigns with 40th level characters with 4 prestige classes.
There is a lot of stuff that is appropriate for an epic level character, although at that level RPing is much more important than hack and slash (think Amber by Roger Zelazny and the game based on it). Of course, when you need to throw down, throw down the way a 20+ level character can.
Having just joined on to this topic, which is near and dear to my gaming heart, namley Epic Level play, I have read the last few topics with varying amounts of amusement, dismay and consideration. Without adding fuel to the fires already blazing, the biggest problem with Epic Level play is that there are few guidelines and good examples of how to incorporate this kind of play into your game. As can be seen it is easy to abuse and get out hand, this requires a DM and players to accept that their characters have interests outside of their own abilities. Simply choosing to play Epic Level is not enough, the characters must be firmly rooted into the world and have a vested interest in things beyond selling a 90k GP sword or epic item. While I can argue point for point many of the failings of the earlier postings, the real topic of this thread is to establish a credible GH connection for the use of Epic play, which fits well when considering the examples of Keoghtom, Heward, Murlynd, the Suel Mages of Power and Rary's legacy just to name a few. In referring to the latter, the Suel Mages have left a legacy of epic powers that cannot fully explored without the use of Epic Level, Keraptis and such things as the Suel Liches have been suggested, as well as many themes of this nature.
In handling the problems of high powered characters, demi-planes and other places (Union, as an example) solve the mechanics of Epic Level play easily without damaging the core principle of GH. While true that teams of Epic Level characters shouldnt be prowling around unfettered, it does not affect play if a few long time players are allowed to explore this option.
In my personal GH campaign PC's are aided by the likes of Keoghtom and Heward, who are higher than them and have abilities the characters cant currently match. I use the idea of the shades of the Suel Magi reincarnating over and over again, instead of the godslaying that everyone seems to think Epic Level is about. Epic Level characters need goals and strong ones to keep them focused, with a bit of thought and a deep knowledge of the older and eldritch mysteries of GH, there should be few Epic Level groups wanting for questing and adventure, riddled with mighty foes, puzzling enigmas as well as new challanges that have kept players amused and challenged for the last 30 years. I dont mean to say that everyone will find it as fun as myself and my group have, but neither should it limit the use of Epic Level just because its set in the World of Greyhawk either.
If you use the stats that are in 3.0 Dieties and Demigods you need to be well past 40th level before you can start taking on shmuck demi-gods, which is probably why epic boards are full of fully munchkinized 50th level builds springing out of thin air.
Now considering leveling past 20th only gets slower (in my experience), that means the DM won't have too much trouble. Mighty (non-unique) fiends, big dragons, npcs, the afformention Suel Lichs, Iuz's right hand boys, high ranking Horned Society and Scarlett Brotherhood members, Giants with 15 levels of Blackguard, fiends with class levels, and non-combat problems are some of the situations you can serve up.
It is best if you can tie the epic stuff to earlier events. A demonlord they thwarted when they were high level is responsible for sicking a Death Slaad Assassin 10, Balor Wiz 6, White Slaad, and a Black Slaad on the players.
Paragon creatures are cool, no doubt about it. It allows you to create uber badass versions of your favorites. Think the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, but moreso with displacer beasts, beholders, or whatever substituted for lions. They also make the spell Circle of Death actually worth memorizing.
I run 2e with modifications, and know very little of 3e or3.5e. From reading the thread, some suggestions have sprung to mind.
IMC, I generally retire PCs at 12-15 level. I have designed several mini-campains for 'those deserving few' i.e. players who I enjoy their company, and contribute to my campain(spells, ideas, art etc) perhaps you could use some of these ideas.
Timed campains. Situations that will not allow PC to rest, heal, rememorize, reepuip. City of Skulls is a good example of published material, as is Return of the Eight. "You've been sent word by (Belvor,Circle of 8, canon Hazen etc)that in 3 days on the aniversery of (fill in the blank) a horrible event will happen and must be stopped, travel to (fill in the blank) where my operative will fill you in on what he's found out" PCs will not be able to leverage their massive abilities against lesser foes by always being well stocked and rested in every hole they crawl down. Power groups that would normally slay tolling bandits will pay for passage!
Ensure a Homebase. All of my high level PCs will have a(permanent) base of operations, strongholds, abbeys etc. They will keep wealth there. If they begin flauting this weath by sticking there noses into where you don't want them, then burn their crops, trash their labs, desecrate temples, steal herds, etc.. Money is the sinews of war, and in Greyhawk this holds as well, gold is the sinews of adventuring. This is one of the main reasons long ago I made the rule. I had a floating campain where PCs stayed in hostels but found I couldn't get them vulnerable to the outside world. IMO any epic level play should involve PCs with vested interest in the larger campain.
Keep it in Greyhawk. You don't have to go off world for high adventure.(although this is fun too) the Underoerth, Underwater, Skyscape and forests provide ample foriegn environments to occupy mages and priests magic with: infravision,waterbreathing airy water, flying/levitation, and traps, hella traps. Many fail to use them or use to few of them. An orc patrol of 12 is a breeze, 12 orcs in a fortified outpost cavern may be worth 10 times their number. Note:on poison, I've always used the does more damage or paralysis vs. Death simply for game balance.
Some ideas from my campains are:
save keolands shipping from the sahugin baron(pirates,sahugin hoards,sharks, all underwater)
rescue a royal(Yolandas cousin) from the drow(drow,and allies,giant slug,purple worm, earth elementals)infravisiion and light issues throughout
eliminate the skybandits(cloud giants levying tolls on highport/velverdyva, roc, wyvern, air elementals, and a blue dragon adventure nearly entirely while flying)
Stopping the darkdruids of the Vesve from destroying all foresting operations(set about the badlands with a base in wild elf country, lyrakkin, hangman trees etc)
Any of these can be used for high level play, using creatures,contacts, the environments, and the national recognition is much for players to tout.
I have a simple question for the d20 crowd- Is 2e level 12 fighter a rough equivalent of a 12th level 3e fighter?
Epic characters have Epic responsibilities and Epic consequencces for their actions. Tenser and Mordenkenian know this and act like it. It is essential for Epic play or your campaign will degenerate.
Muscles there is a big difference in power between 2e and 3.0/3.5. The first is that monsters get the same bonuses from high stats as players. The second is that there is no longer the same built in 9th level crawl. You still acquire hit dice and the level advancement rate doesn't change.
The Short Version
He is less powerful, because monsters also get the benefits of high stats. Big dragons can have more than 400 hp.
The Long Version
For fighter types a big change is the uncapping of AC. In 2e you can hit anything regularily by the time you hit 12th level. You'll miss only occassionally. That isn't the case in 3.0. Also dragons and demons get their monstrously huge Con bonuses to their hit dice. No more killing demon lords at 10th level (which I have done twice in 2e). Same thing for saving throws. At low level you'll be making your saves more often than in 2e, but less often at high level. When a demonlord lays a magical whammy on you, it is going to be hard to save.
Thanks for the info Enslaved_DM.
Damn! It sounds interesting. My 2e allows for monsters bonuses, and my humanoids leaders are already PC like. But if 3e has -25ac and 400hp monsters how do you stabilze the boundaries of your world?
Like, here is chendl ruins, visited by a passing dragon and destroyed to a stone because no one in the land could stop it, eater of the royal court, eventually the great dragon died from overeating every village in the flanaess.
If I understand you, then the Scarlet Brotherhood controling monsters becomes a huge powershift for them and Iuz could never have lost or even slowed down his conquest of the flanaess. (I never really understood what exaclty stopped the legion of black death from sacking chendl or mitrik for that matter).
OK, I just reread your post. There does seem to be a Epic degenerating spiral that has to be managed, and I see now that a 12 level fighter will have 12d10 hp + con bonus if I read you right. But it still looks like the legion of black death would overwhelm any force.
I can see that there must be a lot of checks and balances. Moving to d20 sounds like a complete revamp of the old system.
I stopped playing 2e and didn't play any D&D until 3rd. I wouldn't consider going back.
It is similar enough that you'll pick it up quickly. Humanoids have character levels (base is level 1 warrior [npc fighter type class]) and you have equivalent levels for powerful races. If you are in a setting that allows hobgoblins (like Eberron) then you pay 1 level for all the hobgoblin benefits. That's how you can have unnerfed drow as PCs. Drow abilities have a +2 LA(level adjustment). A 4th level drow character is equivalent of a 6th level human.
Damage also goes up. In 2e damage dealing spells hit a plateau around 3rd level and only got a little stronger. The higher level damage dealing spells are nastier and 3rd and metamagic can make it worse. There is a built in critical system and feats like Improved Critical make it nastier. Magic weapon properties like flaming and shock also up the damage. Of course, NPCs and monsters benefit from this. The feats that an elder dragon has are quite scary and it goes a long way towards making each dragon unique with its own style of combat.
Dragons and demonlords take a lot of killing, but if you have five characters doing 20+ hp damage/round (and they can be doing a lot more) then that is 100+hp/round to the target. That kills a lot of things in a couple rounds. Of course, that is assuming that everything goes right. And how often does that happen in combat?
Damage also goes up. In 2e damage dealing spells hit a plateau around 3rd level and only got a little stronger.
As an exclusive 2nd Ed. player I would wholey agree with that statement as it pertains to damage dealing spells, which was stated. I'll try to list more than 1 example to better explain my reasoning.
For mages, once Fireball and/or Lightning Bolt are attained there aren't many that compete with raw output. Cone of Cold being 2 levels higher doesn't even really make a difference except perhaps in modified saving throw situations.
The one thing that is added at higher levels in 2nd Ed. however, is the big gun "save or die" type spells. Finger of Death, Cloudkill, and Deathspell for example.
Granted, most equally challenging opponents have a decent chance to avoid the effects of those types of spells. But, to be able to simply walk down the processional and "snuff" anothers life away by merely uttering a few words is deffinately powerful. (and evil heh)
On the other end of the spectrum, Priests do not seem to fall to this same technicality. Spells like Flame Strike, Blade Barrier, and Harm are deffinate improvements over their lower level offensive spells.
Anyway, I'm glad you enjoy 3rd Ed. Enslaved_DM. As long as it's Greyhawk, it's all good. _________________ Kneel before me, or you shall be KNELT!
Indeed edition wars do rear their ugly head on this topic, alas it is a point I share as well. 3e supports epic level play better, but far from perfectly, thus the topic. But please lets step away slowly and with deep breaths for turning this into another edition wars.
I've been surfing and 3e has Epic level handbook or somesuch. Hey Anced_Math, did you mean this for 3.0 only? I've given many High level adventure hooks and gaming machanics ideas here but maybe they are obsolete with level 40 PCs and the newer formats. CF faq doesnt list many of the acronyms so I don't understand a few of the references- like CR.
It has been my experience that players entering my world from others is that roleplaying is a distant 3rd to combat and goodie grabbing. Many have said things like "I didn't know orcs could be so tough". All I do utilize a creatures inherent advantages (especially in their lair) as much as I can, and build alot of roleplaying inroads so 'kill it' is not often the first reaction from PCs. Injured monsters retreat to ambush or appear again or tell their tribe etc. Oh, I also control the spells, magic, and money I dole out. Is Epic play reduced to "It's real big let's kill it"?
Are 20+ level characters so powerful that the DM can't handle them anymore? I find this most unlikely. In my High level campains, I have a lot more work to do, but so do the players. I can't imagine anything a PC can try that I can't counter or balance.(I've scrambled from suprises though-clever PC's) As for fighting gods well, if I have great pc's that are friends and ask me, I might make a campain where this could happen. I would be awed If they live, but they would never actually defeat a god.
How does 3+e deal with epic better? Please be as specific as you think a 2e DM/PC vet could understand.
If It isn't clear, I enjoy greyhawk. I'm asking about editions to understand not to condemn. I am the only one who understands my system, like most home DM's and their players. So please don't think I'm about to be attacking yours.
I did not intend this to become an edition war. I play 3rd. I like the system and the fixes for many of the things that were broken in earlier versions. Earlier versions have other charms about them, and i am not bashing them, I found though that I was working with a long list of House Rules that were often very similar to 3ed, and it was great to convert.
My question was a story/mechanic question though, and could apply to any edition. When characters start to exceed the average level of the local emporer/king/pasha or high holy wumpump, what do you (all of you) do. How well does the GH Setting handle it.
I have a standing rule: If my players are bored, do not like the direction, or think their character would, they can go left. or west. or down. or teleport.
The richness of GH and the depth of the history make this possible, and despite some of the absurdities (nb: Isles of Woe is another of my threads) the LG sites are invaluable resources for this. "Oh, you say you are bored trying to liberate Geoff, and wish to Shadow walk to Bone March and try your hand there? Give me 15 min and the AEG Toolbox, and I can create a story." On several occasions my players have retreated right out of my adventure arc.
When the characters arrive at 20 + level, regardless of the edition, it becomes harder to contain them and still follow a common set of rules and agreements. They understand that I can and will play the DM card IF I HAVE TO. It is not necessary very often.
In GH, it seems that the world is geared towards 15th level rulers; I want to keep some of the characters running into levels higher than this. As they progress, I do not want to play the DM card more often.
So, Muscles, the question is two fold, one 3ed specific. 1) Does 3ed., epic play in general, and GH Epic play specifically, work mechanically.
2) (for all eds) what story limitations do you use to restrain/contain characters in a way that they appreciate and enjoy.
I will end by noting that the players I am interesting in pursuing Epic play with are all level headed interesting people who value Role playing as much as hack and slash. They have developed characters with an enormous amount of character and panache. Some of these might reach the legendary status of the Circle of 8 or the Crazy Archmage or others. At least in my game.
I don't play Greyhawk, but I find the activities of this board useful and interesting. I don't have anything against it, either.
I was asked about 3rd and I gave my opinion. If you have played and 3.0 you would realize that it deals with larger amounts of damage and hitpoints. I said that 3rd edition had brought me back to a game I had stopped playing, an expression of my satisfaction with the system.
Heal/Harm was so broken that it finally got fixed in 3.5. That's one exception.
Finger of Death, Disintegrate are save or die, not a "damage dealers." Since the only campaign I play in (as oppossed to run) I load up on these, I do know the difference. In 3.0, some creatures actually fail their saves versus these puppies.
2e Flamestrike did the 6d8 from a 5th level spell. Not exactly an uber fireball. I'm not exactly shaking in my boots. Compared to 15d6 (half of the damage being divine wrath) it can get to in 3rd (not counting metamagic).
Chain Lightning was 6th level and did 2 more dice that 3rd level Lightning Bolt or 5th level Cone of Cold.
I ran one epic campaign and I didn't have any problems with the players being uncontrolled. They had some problems surviving. It was pretty rough on them (of course, they had no casters so it wasn't exactly a stereotypical mix).
Well to the point of 3e and other editions handling Epic better..I have played High Level in 2e/2.5e and into 1e a bit (we stopped around 23rd there), I dont mean to belittle any editions handling of high level characters and situations, but since AC is not capped in 3e and attack bonuses are staggered for full attacks, monsters scaleable and more open to changes in 3e and the epic supplement has a new progression of advancement that I consider it a better way of handling the vagaries of high level play. In the end it is up to each DM and players to explore those higher levels and styles of play, and those that choose to do so will find ways around those problems, like myself I made the switch to 3e and find it superior, but I dont belittle others for using older editions either. But that is secondary to having clear cut goals and solid backing of characters in the game world that uses high level options, in either case of editions if you dont have that you dont have a game suitable for high level play. Play shouldnt stop because the charts stop. As it should be clearly known, GH has high level characters and finding situations to fill these roles are in the DM's hand, if he wants to use it. I for one dont like to see a good game stop merely because of a glass ceiling such as 2e had until the High Level Option Handbook came out, 1e had such a level grind that really high levels were really hard to reach.
But really getting to the point better is what options exsist that allow such kinds of play in GH, I for one look to the Sunken Isles, forgotten tombs of the West and Vecnas legacies for inspiration, among others ideas as well!
Glad to see greyhawk really is more important than editions.
Thanks all for clarifications.
I see more of what you are asking now Anced_Math.
I have spent a great amount of time on my adventure arcs, and although I like your sentiment of house rule #1 but I could never use it. I get alot of imput from my players, how did you like this? what direction would you like to take the party in? etc. If I built a 15+ level story, with their input and they decide suddenly my efforts don't interest them, then there would be a problem.
I'm not sure what you mean by the DM card. Some DM say 'cause I said so. Some make characters do things they don't want to do by DM magic, "you did not just slap the king, you only imagined it and he has left''.
I use unscripted events to keep players in line with the story arc, or add/delete encounters or numbers or hit points on the fly to maintain the mood I'm looking for.
If a PC says I wanna go over there to that city, a mysterious begger, wayward orphan, bleeding victim, eerie noise, will appeal to that character and bring them back to the plotline.
You mentioned freeing Geoff. Epic level play for sure. may I suggest we pool our thoughts to an epic Geoff campain. For a point of reference.
Also do you find any value in my above posts re- high level play. re- Traps, timed senarios, dealing with environment, etc. ( I still don't know if epic characters in 3e have rings of magic regeneration etc)
with a bit of work the 25th Anniversary Against the Giants ~Liberation of Geoff~ is a good start, with a bit of work it can be made into a nice Epic level playing feild and also incorporating all levels of play while it happens.
I would greatly enjoy a discussion and pooling of ideas on the Liberation of Geoff; I just bought the anniversary edition, and I was very pleased.
Maybe in a new thread.
Muscles, actually I want to talk specifics on the story arc devices you mentioned, but I will take it out of thread, as it will probably bore most of the people here. Also, I will be providing attachments from my game. Give me shout at email@example.com.
This thread has been very informative. When I originally posted it, I was leaning heavily away from going epic. Now, I have decided that, with a great deal of preparation, i will.
I see...... martyrs, yes lots of of martyrs on the fields of Geoff, OH Look! I recognize some, I see my players there!!!!
Bah! I would think a new thread on that might be in order, I for one would have enjoyed a discussion about it as well as other epic idea threads . Either way its easy to make almost any good idea and convert it to high level play, and if that is what you want to see then let it flow forth not stop gap it.
... Yet once the Epic PCs got their big egos on, what do they scheme on? To take out Iuz of course. ....
You know what you should do? Show them why Iuz hasn't been "taken out"! After all, he is a god (demigod in fact, but still high in power than mere mortals, even if they are epic.)
If they are scheming (and using Iuz's name especially), he's going to know about it. Let them try to take him out. Just remember, that Iuz would have knowledge of their plan. Since you are likely to be present while they are making their plans to attack Iuz, use that knowledge against them. Or force them to meet Iuz before they are ready (much like PC like to do the the bad guys!) Might be a way for you to "retire" the epic party.
...Attempting to take on Iuz all by your lonesome is stupid, especially if you've offended a lot of people in the past with your rash actions. ... know better than to take on someone as powerful as the Old One without careful planning and preparation. More likely, they'll draw Iuz's attention to wherever they're attacking from, and possibly put innocent people in danger if Iuz perceives them as enough of a threat to warrant a pre-emptive assault on their home base. If all else fails, let them take the Old One on...and make them run the gauntlet of his Boneheart spellcasters, all the way up to Halga, Null, and a pack of mariliths. >:D ... ...
I agree whole heartedly! _________________ One sword is good, but two are better!!
I have enjoyed play in all versions of D&D. I find that there are interesting differences between all editions. I like 1st edition for its simplicity and ease. I like 2nd because of the wealth of story material that was developed and more fully fleshed out. I like 3rd because it took a little from all editions and made it work. In other words...simpler rules coupled with good story and and a seeming unending drive. Does this make it better?? Maybe, maybe not. The point is it had to have a good foundation. I see it as an evolution and thereby as something different. You can't really compare one edition to another. You are talking apples and oranges.
On another note, I do play in an epic campaign. We do roleplay..sometimes well ...hehe and sometimes not. I believe we are level headed people and we try to inject some of our own experience in this fantasy environment. I believe that we are becoming part and parcel of the world that the DM has created. Just because an epic character can do epic things doesn't mean he should do them all of the time...or maybe even at all. I am however waxing verbose...
On the subject of god-killing....any God worth his salt will send his absolutely most powerful EPIC servants after said would-be god-killers.
This means personages of your campaign chasing you down left and right... unless said party was really in hiding they are constantly fighting for their lives. _________________ Perfection is a journey ... not a destination
In my on-again/off-again D&D 3E Greyhawk campaign that I started shortly after the release of the 3E core books in 2000, the PCs are all around 5th level now (except for a new PC that is 3rd). I kept encounters fairly simple -- and perhaps too easy -- for the first few years of the adventure. It was partly just own bad planning, but at least it's kept the general power level fairly low. My preference is the low to mid level range.
However, I'm now running my group through the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil adventure, and XP seems to be flying. We're not even halfway through the moathouse, but looking ahead, it seems there are a lot of encounters that won't be all that challenging but will give a half-decent amount of XP. I fully expect that the PCs will start going up levels at a much quicker pace.
Anyway, I'm just yammering on at this point. The point is that once we get through the RttToEE module (probably in about two years or so), the PCs are very likely to be up around 14th or 15th level. By that time, they'd be getting quite powerful, and it's been a long time since I ran a higher level game -- and I really don't know if I want to take these characters into the epic level range. I just have a hard time seeing epic level characters running dungeons and doing pretty much the same thing they did in the low to mid level range.
At what point do you think the style of game you're running changes? My guess would be around 15th. At that point, the PCs should be fairly wealthy and be capable of defeating some pretty powerful foes. So what changes as you go into the high and epic levels in your games? _________________ Chris Talbot
D&D 3.0E Greyhawk DM
Once i get my campaign to 15+ lv monsters start to get advancements or class levels. Magic items become less viable in treasure since most PCs can make or buy them anyways. My players start to dictate the direction of the campaign more since by then they have agendas to complete, more often than not I can work them into my plans. High level PCs also become less afraid of local authority no matter the alignment so you need to get creative with keeping PCs in line.
My current GH game the PC's are only about 8th level. BUt I do have plans for and epic level storyline. The current storyline ends with the Bastion of Broken Souls aventure. Then into the epic plot line. Dealing with the very nature/source of magic and why GH has so many Liches. Along with the aftermath of God of War from the Chainmail GH setting. At that point I plan on bringing in sets of second tier characters for the players to give missions to and play on several of these missions.
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