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Mike Mearls

R ight now, I'm working with the design team to review the upcoming draft of the playtest. The feedback we've received from our current group of playtesters as been invaluable. However, we still have a number of big issues to work through before making the materials widely available. Instead of hitting one topic this week, I want to discuss two smaller topics, due to some feedback we've received.

Levels and Campaigns

I recently did an informal poll on Twitter, where I asked people what level they'd want to hit before ending a campaign. Most people pegged that end point to be around 12th level.

Why did I ask that particular question? First of all, I think that most people don't want to play the same character for months at a time. After a while, you've done what you wanted to with your current character and are ready for a new one. So, finding out that 12th level is the end point that many folk want to hit confirmed my suspicion.

Second, I wonder how much time people can commit to a campaign. Here are some questions I've asked myself (and now you): Should you reach the end of the level chart after 6 to 12 months of regular play? Is that the practical limit to how much time a typical player can devote to a campaign? In my experience, most campaigns that make it to a steady state of gaming end at about the one year mark. I've had plenty of games peter out after a few sessions, usually due to scheduling conflicts. Other times, I've run fairly short campaigns by design, knowing that getting people to commit to a long game was going to be a challenge.

So all this brings us back to the question of how long a player feels invested in a character. Is it how often you level, how much power you gain with a level, hitting a satisfying end point for a character, or are all of these factors? Keeping in mind your own play habits, here are a few questions for you:

 Assuming you start at level 1, at what level do you feel that you're ready to leave behind your character and start a new one?  
5th level or lower
6th to 9th level
10th level
11th to 12th level
13th to 15th level
16th to 20th level
Over 20th level

 Let's say you're playing in a strictly by-the-book D&D campaign. You play for two hours each week. How long should it take to reach level 10?  
Less than 3 months
3 months
4 to 6 months
7 to 9 months
10 to 12 months
13 to 18 months
19 to 24 months
More than 24 months

What Does High Level Mean?

Here's another topic related to the rate of leveling: does the game stay relatively the same across all levels, or does it undergo a radical change at high level? For instance, in AD&D it was assumed that at or around 10th level each character class gained a castle, tower, or other location to rule along with a set of followers. From that level onward, you could assume that the business of managing a domain was an important part of the campaign.

My questions are as follows: Should the fundamental nature of a campaign change at some point, from typical D&D adventures such as dungeon exploration, mysteries, and so on, to some other mode of play such as ruling a domain? Should the setting change in some way, such as the action moving to the planes? How would you answer these questions? You can start by looking at this next poll, and please post in the comments if you have more to say on this topic.

 Should the typical campaign change at high levels to take on a different tone?  
No, it should remain the same.
The style of adventure should remain the same, but the fundamental setting should change.
The focus should shift to a different type of activity, with the characters changing in some fundamental way such as by becoming rulers, quasi-deities with legendary abilities, and so forth.
The campaign should change in another way, which I'll describe in the comments.

Last Week's Polls

Which of the following kinds of advice do you want to see in D&D books?
I want advice for both players and DMs in D&D books. 3684 83.0%
I want advice for DMs in D&D books. 369 8.3%
I don't want advice for either players or DMs in D&D books. 297 6.7%
I want advice for players in D&D books. 86 1.9%
Total 4436 100.0%

Thinking back on the D&D books you've read, do you feel that you've gotten enough use out of the advice printed in them?
Yes, I've gotten enough use out of the advice in some of the D&D books I've read. 2321 54.7%
Yes, I've gotten enough use out of the advice in most of the D&D books I've read. 1260 29.7%
No, I haven't gotten enough use out of the advice in the D&D books I've read. 665 15.7%
Total 4246 100.0%

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