General question of sorts.
How do you run campaigns where your party is at the higher levels?
Me and my single other player my whole party) have been playing together for the longest time now. Our campaigns don’t last longer than up to level 5. But my player is interested in running a super long campaign. I agreed.
So we started a new game, starting from level 3, and it’s set to last until they reach the summit at level 20.
It has been many months of playing now. My players are level 10, having finished 2 main story-line arcs and about to finish the 3rd as they are facing the big bad. I’m worried about how I should go about the 4th story arc which my player said they wanted to travel to be about visiting a new dimension different from the one they’ve been wandering around in as they’ve pretty much explored all that there was in that universe.
I thought running a high level game of Open Legend would be easy to handle compared to other systems. D&D for example become real difficult to handle unless you’re experienced once characters reach level 10, maybe even just level 5. Battles become overly long and tedious, and magic casters have access to spells that just… Solve problems. But Open Legend is different! Right? I thought at least. Higher Power Level banes and boons weren’t all bad when I read them, and there is no such feat that exists that are too OP. No shenanigans and over powered abilities like a wish spell, ZA WARUDO time stopping, controlling the weather, and freaking terraforming…! The worst I saw was the Precognition boon which I thought I could easily handle.
Boy was I wrong…
At levels 1 through 4 things are generally managable. They’re the comfortable zone. A newbie can very easily run games for players at these levels.
One can easily challenge their players and let them revel in the simple tropes of dungeon crawling and fighting of the bad guys and other typical rpg shenanigans.
But once a player reaches level 5 challenging them becomes rather difficult.
At level 5 specialized players finally gain access to Power Level 7 banes and boons which are… Hard to deal with.
Banes are pretty rough to deal with, but the roughest things to deal with are the boons.
Precognition… Holy crap does it suck.
I think Precognition is too OP and should be ranked 3/5/7/9 instead of 1/3/5/7. It’s simply THAT powerful.
At the highest power level precognition simply solves all problems.
Get boon focus on it and now the players can just squeeze info right out of me the GM.
“What’s the solution to this puzzle?”
“Who killed captain Alex?”
“Let me talk to dead guy (insert wise dead guy name) for some sage advice!”
“What is the Big Bad Evil Guy’s weakness?” or sometimes even more meta-gamey
“What are the Big Bad Evil Guy’s Hit Points, Defenses, Attribute Scores and Feats?”
Insubstantial is… Well it is a thing…!
Characters who can cast them are like:
“What is a wall? A miserable pile of condensed molecular structures! But enough talk, have at you!”
High security lock? Just phase through!
Dungeon? Just phase through!
Attacks? Just phase through!
TRAPS!?!? JUST PHASE THROUGH!!!
CHILD SUPPORT!? JUST. PHASE. THROUGH.
And if level 5 was bad, wait until they get to level 9, where they finally have access to the whole spectrum of abilities their primary attributes offer and cast Power Level 9 Banes and Boons!
There is the Death bane!
Which I don’t think needs explaining.
There is also the Dominated bane!
Hippity hoppity your body is now my property!
and as for boons we have Resistance which at Power Level 9 grants you absolute resistance to a chosen attack type!
Polymorph, Shapeshift, Reading, Sustenance, the list goes on and on…!
Characters at these levels are incredibly powerful that it’s incredibly difficult to challenge them anymore at these levels…
And I was thoroughly mistaken to think engaging the players in high level play would be easy…
So I’ve come to ask one and all to give their advice and tips on the matter. From their own experiences, their own teachings, and heck, just telling me someone you know and directing me to some forum post or youtube video will do well as well!
And from my experience and what I’ve gathered I have my own advice as well.
The only advice I feel confident in giving are things that you shouldn’t do at higher tier play.
Firstly, don’t run it the same way you would at levels 3 and lower.
Don’t expect it’ll work because it wont.
At higher levels, the same old low level challenges and threats you pit them against simply won’t challenge them anymore. Doesn’t matter if the enemies have more hit points and defenses, and challenges have a higher CR. Fact is, at higher levels players have WAY more options that allow them to just circumvent those old threats.
The only reason dungeon crawling is difficult is because there was no way to circumvent a wall, at least easily at lower levels.
Don’t limit players!
This is just from my own philosophy but I think limiting what players can do is lazy GM-ing and is also bad.
Don’t force your players through your challenges by limiting and banning their abilities. They have those abilities, they should be able to use them!
Like for example, a dungeon where X banes and boons are not allowed and doesn’t work inside here. If there is a tower, and the goal is at the top, let them fly in if they have the ability to. If you didn’t want them doing that, you never should’ve given them levels and the ability to gain these options. What’s the point of gaining an ability if they’ll always get dissallowed anyway?
If you are limiting their abilities, there should be a very good story reason behind it.
Like obviously a super evil master mega necromancer undead lich will be unbothered by Death. It’s a mere inconvenience for them. And large and powerful political figures probably have control over information and media and countermeasures to obtaining info so Precognition attempts to pry info about them wouldn’t work and shouldn’t work.
Otherwise, forcing players to play a certain way by limiting the things they can do is just not something I agree with (But maybe something I’ll be tempted to do one day anyway despite this when I probably inevitably crumble and show my ‘true colors’.)
I’m sure there are ways to challenge players even when they have a variety of tools at their disposal without resorting to bans.
Bigger baddies, bigger rewards, bigger challenges, bigger conflicts, everything should be in scale with the players level.
You can’t expect them to continue their dangerous and deadly job of dungeon delving as they continue getting stronger.
At the beginning, they would be fighting lowly goblins, or thugs, or simple minded aliens. But the enemies should keep getting stronger. And to add to it, the threat and stakes should increase too.
At the beginning, yeah, simple conflicts. Save this mothers poor child from kidnappers, should they fail, the poor mother will be forever distraught. Succeed though and they’ll be rewarded with a couple pennies and maybe some renown.
Once their levels become higher, players will want bigger game, bigger prey, bigger hunt.
Destroy Scourge, the great evil that seeks destruction before it consumes all of the kingdom and maybe the whole world! Fail and the world is doomed! Succeed though and they’ll recieve grand rewards and be set in stone as grand heroes of the kingdom and be forever held in high regard.
That’s all I’ve got. I know what kind of story should take place and what not to do as a GM but everything else is a blur for me.
How does one challenge players at high levels?
Tl;dr Basically… How do I challenge players when they can just cast Death on every enemy and Insubstantial their way past walls, traps, and puzzles?