Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for High Level Campaigns

Welcome to the Tower of the Archmage’s April A to Z Challenge!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “H” the number “8” and the support of readers like you.

Thank you.

There comes a point in the life of a successful adventurer when they will begin to want more than another dungeon delve or wilderness trek. As they approach name level (9 traditionally), thoughts of castles, armies, and political power begin to fill their heads. This leads to a vastly different play style than low level play.

Way back when I actually got to play Rules Cyclopedia D&D I only had 2 characters make it to name level. The first was a fighter, whose name I don’t remember. He eventually built a castle, and ruled a fair amount of land, fighting in one war before being retired around level 11 or 12. The second was the Archmage who eventually got up into the low 20’s. I played him a lot, and by the time he was retired he had built himself a magical flying ship very similar in look to the one from Flight of the Navagator (I had recently gotten the Champions of Mystera boxed set). It didn’t have an AI or bound spirit or anything like that, and it was a little bigger, with lots of nifty little tricks. It also cost him just about every gold piece he had, several magical items, and took about 3 levels to complete. He also had a number of other magic items, and a very thick spell book. His last adventure was fighting astral aliens who were trying to take over the world. He was in the middle of a quest to find an artifact held by a god that would let him defeat the oncoming armada.

If I’d have been able to continue to play him, and he’d have survived, he definitely would have worked toward the ultimate end game of Rules Cyclopedia Dungeons and Dragons, namely becoming one of the Immortals.

It’s a little different with the current edition of Dungeons and Dragons, or at least so it seems. The focus remains on combat (rules-wise) no matter the level, but the venue and the monsters become more and more exotic as the characters reach higher level. In heroic tier (low level) the players are on a terrestrial world, with maybe some side trips to the near Feywild or Shadowfell. Paragon Tier takes the players firmly into both of those realms and then out into the Astral Realms. By Epic Tier characters are traipsing around the cosmos all the way down into the Abyss and battling demon lords and greater dragons!

There is something about being a preteen that makes high level adventures easier I think. By the time I got into my late teens I became very focused on low to mid level play, usually capping off around name level. I just became much less interested in what I perceived to be power gaming. I think it was the shift in focus that seemed so sharp that it was jarring for me. It might also be the fact that aside from when I was 12 I never ran or was in a game that ran long enough to reach those higher levels of play. I simply never exercised those imagination muscles.


  1. Flight of the Navigator! I so remember and cherish this movie from my childhood. I remember feeling sad when the MC had gotten stuck in a world that had moved on without him. Plus this was my first memory of the music group, Twisted Sister.

  2. I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Creative Blog Award.
    Go to and pick up your award.

  3. @Jeffrey~ It was one of my favorites as a kid too! It's been too long since I've seen it.

    @Deirdra~ Thank you! I'm really glad you're enjoying it!