|James Jacobs Creative Director|
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I hope you are well
All the recent talk of high CR statblocks and Mythic play have sparked a couple of questions in my mind. I apologize if some of this should be common knowledge:
1) Why did Paizo decide to not make high level play with levels above 20th?
2) Without access to Mythic powers can a party of 4 level 20 characters win against CRs 28+? I haven't tried it but an encounter of "epic" difficulty seems to be 6 CR higher than average party level.
3) What do you enjoy about designing statblocks in the late 20'ies range?
4) If I were to run a Wrath of the Righteous campaign, would you then recommend to reduce the amount of Mythic Tiers, or play as is?
1) Because the math for things like saving throws, attack rolls, and the like breaks down increasingly fast after 20th level. And because a game is stronger when you have a level cap and thus understand the framework in which you can design content for the game.
With a level cap, in this case 20, we can build things that can serve that role, like the tarrasque, as a CR 25 creature. With mythic, we anticipated CR 30 would cover it, but as it played out, CR 35 or CR 40 might have been a better goal...
2) You don't need to fight a monster as-is in an adventure. Those stats can serve merely as entertainment to be read, first and foremost. But they can also serve other ways that aren't just fights against PCs. We cover this a little bit in the "Demon Lords in a Campaign" section in Bestiary 4, page 45.
For an example of how this could all play out in play, check out the last few adventures in the Dungeon Adventures Adventure Path, Savage Tide...
That all said, high level PCs are capable of a HUGE number of stunts, both offensive and defensive. Never underestimate what a 20th level party of characters played by a group of skilled players who have honed those skills with those specific characters over the course of many many sessions of play can do to a monster!
3) I enjoy the fact that I get to stretch my creativity when it comes to powers, and I enjoy statting up memorable and recognizable creatures, and I enjoy the challenge of working with the complexities of the rules. And as a GM, these "end boss" creatures are kind of the closest things you have to your OWN characters in a game, so the same sort of thing that appeals to a player designing his/her player character is what appeals to me in designing a powerful, recognizable, significant creature or character in a game setting.
4) I would recommend reducing the Mythic Tiers you give out to 1 per adventure. The PCs should earn a new tier each time you finish an AP installment. If things start feeling scary or tough, you can adjust on the fly either by giving them another tier or by softening the stats.