to the Epic Level Handbook chat, featuring Andy Collins,
Bruce Campbell, and Thomas Reid. Do you have any opening comments
before I open up the queue for questions?
I'd just like to say that working on the Epic Level Handbook
was one of the most satisfying products I've worked on recently.
Well, my job was originally going to be to design an epic-level
adventure to follow the Epic Level Handbook, but that changed
to me adding to what Bruce and Andy did in order to make the book
larger. So, my work revolved around creating more monsters, spells,
magic items, and the city of Union. Andy and Bruce did all the mechanics
work, and I just worked with their system. However, jumping into
their playground was a lot of fun. I wrote the adventure material,
Thomas was a real trooper, pitching in to add content in various
sections as needed by the book's ever-expanding page count. Before
he showed up, it was a measly 220-230 pages or so. But thanks to
his design work, we cranked it up over 300 pages! Without Thomas
coming in, we never would have been able to do epic prestige classes.
So, let's get into those questions.
As much as I like the book overall, I have a few concerns. One
of the big issues seems to be whether the epic monsters have appropriate
challenge ratings. Do you have any insights from playtesting about
The CRs for epic monsters are based on our "best guesses,"
which are in turn derived from playtesting and general experience
with the rules themselves. It's all but impossible to "nail
down" a CR at that level because of the widely diverging powers
and abilities of characters.
However, we're fairly happy with the CRs for critters under
CR 30. We had a pretty good handle on playtesting and methods of
assigning CR. Creatures higher than that get to be more complicated
and can certainly be thought of as part of a range. And our editor,
Penny Williams, put all their stats through the wringer.
I've noticed that many of the epic feats have nonepic cousins that
do similar things, such as Improved Manifestation and Transcend
Limits from If Thoughts Could Kill. How should a DM handle
nonepic feats that do what certain epic feats can do?
We were smart enough to design the monsters well after the basic
epic rules were completed, so there wasn't a lot of rule tinkering
after the fact. There are certainly plenty of "epic" feats
that are probably OK even in nonepic games. As always, a DM has
the right to OK anything in the game.
Should the Divine Emissary requirement be total Attack Bonus +23?
How is a BAB +23 possible? I thought it ended at +20 if you were
a fighter and less for others.
Future errata may tell you to treat the sum of BAB and Epic
Attack Bonus as your BAB for the purpose of qualifying for anything,
including prestige classes. So a character with BAB +20 and EAB
+3 would meet the criteria of needing a BAB +23 to qualify.
I haven't noticed this anywhere in the book, but is there a way
to make the creatures from the Monster Manual challenges
for epic-level campaigns? I think many DMs probably don't want to
give up their favorite horde of raiding goblins for an epic game.
Well, there's no reason you couldn't have a few epic-level goblins,
though a horde of them is probably a bit far-fetched. Many creatures
have "advancement" ranges that could put them into the
range of epic challenges as well.
In the Monster Manual, damage reduction is a supernatural
ability that can be suppressed in an antimagic field. Epic
spells cast at 31st-level always work in antimagic fields.
So, do antimagic fields let PCs remove a monster's DR yet
keep the player character's spells up?
Yes, an antimagic field would suppress DR but wouldn't
automatically suppress epic-level spells. See page 73 in the Epic
Level Handbook for the scoop on antimagic fields and
What is your official stance on epic-level feats and the ability
scores needed to qualify for them? Does a character actually need
to have that base score or can items be added to the base score
in order for them to qualify?
It's the same as for regular feats. If you have the ability
score (including long-term enhancements, such as magic items), you
qualify for the feat. Of course, if you lose the item, you'd lose
the ability to use the feat.
Was it meant for the demilich template's supernatural flight to
be able to be disabled by an antimagic field or does it's
magic immunity keep its flight from being nullified?
This will be some minor clarification in the errata, but yes,
the lich retains its movement.
Is there a system for determining starting equipment for levels
Yes, but you'll have to extrapolate the table on page 23.
Could a player use the NPCs provided in the book, perhaps slightly
modified or something?
PCs could play them, but they are woefully short on equipment.
You'd want to give the cash appropriate to their level. Right now,
they have NPC equipment.
When exactly is the permanent effect of creating an epic-level spell
supposed to apply? At what point in the addition and subtraction
do you multiply by five?
Very good questions, since eight or nine of the epic spells
had this order incorrect. The order is important, and this is it:
seeds, factors, then multipliers. Only after multipliers have been
applied can you apply mitigating factors.
With the mention of Sigil, the Believers of the Source, and the
Infinite Staircase in the Epic Level Handbook, is that a
possible hint that the Wizards of the Coast will possibly someday
bring back the Planescape material updated for 3rd Edition?
It is not impossible, but it is not currently being planned.
But, we're all big fans of this setting. The business team makes
these decisions, though.
There was disagreement on the boards about a 20th-level wizard that
gained 20 levels of fighter having less BAB than a fighter that
gained levels in wizard. Is order supposed to be important?
Once you've hit 20th-level, your BAB and base save bonuses never
increase. So the order is important. A 20th-level fighter has BAB
+20, Fort +12, Ref +6, Will +6. A 20th-level wizard has BAB +10,
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +6. So a fighter who then gained 20 wizard
levels would have BAB +20 and epic attack bonus +10, for a total
of +30. While a 20th-level wizard who then gained 20 levels of fighter
would have BAB +10 and epic +10, for a total of +20.
One of the other areas of confusion and concern seems to be
the system for creating epic spells. Was the possibility of using
epic spellcasting to mimic low- to mid-level spells that had been
made permanent by using a ritual or taking damage instead
of expending XP intentional or not?
If you can make an epic spell duplicate the effects of an actual
spell, then it is not a loophole -- go for it. You have to pay for
the development, and often the casting, of your epic spells. Rarely
will you find that it is better to use up epic spell slots for something
that you can accomplish with regular spells. But, of course, you
have that option.
Are there established ways for changing a duration of a spell
from permanent to instantaneous, instead of expending XP?
There is not a factor to do this. It would probably require
an ad hoc factor to do, and a fairly hefty one. If I were to estimate,
off the cuff, I'd say it could even be a multiplier effect, say
x2 or x3.
Are there any plans to release a module for epic-level play or will
Dungeon Magazine be the only source?
I thought that it was a great idea to include the suggestions
and options for handling time stop at epic level. But, as
a DM, I would have liked some advice for dealing with a few similar
spells at these levels. Can you provide some helpful hints in dealing
with gate in an epic-level game?
I'm assuming the problem is in calling creatures. In many cases,
the limit on being able to control only twice your level in HD is
effective. Abominations are partly divine, and so they are not subject
Personally, I think that gate and the various planar
ally spells should have XP costs, and the "reward"
required should be significantly higher (more like 1,000 gp per
HD). If you dropped a 1,000 XP hit for every gate spell,
and required 1,000 gp per HD reward (minimum), that'd probably reduce
On behalf of our patrons, I'd like to thank all three of you
for an excellent D&D supplement. Any final words, folks?
It's been really exciting to see the enthusiastic reception
the book's gotten. To be honest, I hadn't expected it to make quite
as big a splash as it has. It was definitely the most challenging
product I'd worked on to that date.
The Epic Level Handbook is something any player might
want, when he or she sees a character's level rising toward 20.
I'm glad I could be a part of it and work with designers like Andy
Collins, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, and John Rateliff.
Thank you all for coming. Thank you, Andy, Bruce, and Thomas
for speaking with us today!