Monday, November 8, 2021

The Affairs of Wizards

What is a D&D character to do after they've surpassed all those domain building levels? Epic level campaigns where the monsters are just have more hit points? Walk a path of apotheosis like some out of Mentzer's Masters Rules set?

Both of those are good, but they could also hang out in luxury, go to parties on exotic demiplane, try to one-up their fellow epic levels at every turn. In other words, they could act like the Arch-Magicians in the Rhialto the Marvellous stories by Jack Vance.

I feel like the hero/quasi-deities of Greyhawk are ripe for this treatment (see Mordenkainen's magical prep of what must be an epic sandwich in the image above), but Elminster seems like this sort of guy as well. I don't mean to suggest they would never go on something resembling a traditional adventure (Vance's "Morreion" is good inspiration, here.), but the main challenge for these demigods is out doing other beings of power. Sure you could kill Asmodeus, but wouldn't it be more civilized and rewarding to humiliate him in front of his infernal peers?


Dick McGee said...

100% agree. Doesn't even really have to involve characters that are truly all the epic in the grand scheme of things, just ones that *think* they are. Bloated egotism is a big chunk of "Rhialto Tier" stories, after all. You could probably start running this kind of thing with characters in the mid-teen levels, by which point a lot of the domain play has settled down and "retiring" into petty politicking within the local VIP clique starts making sense.

At really high levels there's also the time-honored tradition of "callously toying with lesser beings" to consider. That's usually left to the nastier NPC types but I could see doing a campaign where the PCs (and NPCs) are deeply involved in (say) a competition by proxy where they're trying to "speed level" their favorite, henchmen faster than the competition. Their "beneficiaries" might not even know what's going on - ever wonder why PCs always seem to run into challenges they can just barely handle and rise in their profession so rapidly? Maybe their whole adventuring career has been a game for some epic level characters looking to score points off one another.

I mean, the gods do this all the time, and if an epic character can threaten a god why shouldn't they get in on teh fun too?

Trey said...

Good thoughts!

knobgobbler said...

Dick McGee's thoughs gibe with mine... though I'm thinking of the 'Patrons' in Dungeon Crawl Classics. Powerful weirdos who trade assistance and knowledge for loyalty and agreeing to be pawns in their outre intrigues.

I'm also thinking back to Mayfair's old Role-Aides boxed set 'Archmagic', which IIRC set up a fairly wild and colorful lifestyle for advanced wizards.

Robin Irwin said...

Well, in the old days the character was retired, and a new group of PCs were created. Or we played Chainmail with the Character as the leader of a small army.

Robin Irwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dick McGee said...

The DCC patrons thing describes Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and their relationships with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to a tee. Powerful weirdos indeed.