How do you make your players care about the little things?


Advice


I've always had this issue with Pathfinder specifically high fantasy in general. Diseases, cruses, lack of food, lack of water, and poison are generally non-issues for players over like level 5. I don't want to just say you can't take the spells that fix these problems but it gets to the point where there's 0 consequences for swimming through diarrhea water or walking through something you really shouldn't. There seems to be a magic band-aid spell for everything. And I am meaning more long term rather than in a dungeon.


Homebrew the disease of the filth that they swim through, give it a redonk DC, and have it only curable by a spell they don’t have access to, or only curable by a special healer they then need to seek out. (There’s all kinds of complicated stuff that the PC’s must go through now to both cure it and to ensure they don’t spread it.... and what happens when they do spread it?)

If they’re traveling through a desert, why shouldn’t it be an enchanted desert? Every day they have to resist a Cup of Dust spell, and each successive day the DC increases by 1.


Around the point where parties get third-level spells and can afford bundles of wands or potions, they become totally unmoored from quotidian concerns and dangers almost as a matter of system design. Some people like that; some people don't. I'm with you in the latter camp, so I've got a couple of things that can help mitigate it.

- P6 games. This is a modified ruleset where players never have more than six class levels, which nips the problem just as it starts to rear its head. It won't totally solve your concerns, but it will address them with a minimum of fuss.

- No full casters. Restricting players to 4/9 or 6/9 casters pushes the problem back to somewhat higher levels. You may also need to limit which potions/scrolls/wands players have access to.

- Spheres of Power. The third-party Spherecasting system has a lot of merits, but one of my favorite aspects is how spellcasters have to meaningfully invest in abilities instead of trivially acquiring every spell on their list. You can still have someone who can cure diseases by level five, but he'd have to build as The Healer Guy and make it his schtick, so a GM can plan around his capabilities.

Overall, I enjoy stories where the heroes- even if they're larger-than-life figures- still have a few relatable vulnerabilities. The things we're most familiar with, the poison bottle with a skull on it and the frothy-mouthed rabid bear, are the things that have the most emotional salience to us as an audience. Removing them from the library of credible threats risks making the story that much less engaging.

Ryze Kuja wrote:

Homebrew the disease of the filth that they swim through, give it a redonk DC, and have it only curable by a spell they don’t have access to, or only curable by a special healer they then meed to seek out. (There’s all kinds of complicated stuff that the PC’s must go through now to both cure it and to ensure they don’t spread it.... and what happens when they do spread it?)

If they’re traveling through a desert, why shouldn’t it be an enchanted desert? Every day they have to resist a Cup of Dust spell, and each successive day the DC increases by 1.

I dislike this kind of "magic treadmill" because it similarly risks the loss of emotional salience, not to mention stretching suspension of disbelief. One magic desert is okay. If every other hostile environment the PCs travel through seems to be supernaturally malevolent, though, they may start raising eyebrows.

It also makes countervailing magic on the PCs' side more necessary, not less.


InvisiblePink wrote:

Around the point where parties get third-level spells and can afford bundles of wands or potions, they become totally unmoored from quotidian concerns and dangers almost as a matter of system design. Some people like that; some people don't. I'm with you in the latter camp, so I've got a couple of things that can help mitigate it.

- P6 games. This is a modified ruleset where players never have more than six class levels, which nips the problem just as it starts to rear its head. It won't totally solve your concerns, but it will address them with a minimum of fuss.

- No full casters. Restricting players to 4/9 or 6/9 casters pushes the problem back to somewhat higher levels. You may also need to limit which potions/scrolls/wands players have access to.

- Spheres of Power. The third-party Spherecasting system has a lot of merits, but one of my favorite aspects is how spellcasters have to meaningfully invest in abilities instead of trivially acquiring every spell on their list. You can still have someone who can cure diseases by level five, but he'd have to build as The Healer Guy and make it his schtick, so a GM can plan around his capabilities.

Overall, I enjoy stories where the heroes- even if they're larger-than-life figures- still have a few relatable vulnerabilities. The things we're most familiar with, the poison bottle with a skull on it and the frothy-mouthed rabid bear, are the things that have the most emotional salience to us as an audience. Removing them from the library of credible threats risks making the story that much less engaging.

I respectfully disagree with all of this simply because I love playing from lvl1 to lvl20+. If that's your thing to go P6 or disallow 9/9 casters, then that's your thing. But, there is something intrinsically rewarding for the PCs to achieve the level of awesome that is lvl20 and still be as challenged as they were back at level 1.

InvisiblePink wrote:

I dislike this kind of "magic treadmill" because it similarly risks the loss of emotional salience, not to mention stretching suspension of disbelief. One magic desert is okay. If every other hostile environment the PCs travel through seems to be supernaturally malevolent, though, they may start raising eyebrows.

It also makes countervailing magic on the PCs' side more necessary, not less.

Obviously, not every desert is magic. As a responsible DM, you only throw these things at the PC's once. The only time to do something like this is to create awareness of thine weaknesses, and if the PC's ignore this warning, then pull off the DM kid gloves and let 'em have it.


I agree with invisible pink. If your story only works within a certain level range, then keep the game within that level range. I've been running a game on and off where everyone started at 4th level, and players level up by adding gestalt layers to their character. So far its been working out well.

I've found that players get annoyed when DCs are arbitrarily set to make mundane things threatening, or when magic makes obsolete challenges impassible. This creates the adamantine chest problem, where the challenge is more valuable than the reward, more frequently than it creates fun.


ErichAD wrote:

I agree with invisible pink. If your story only works within a certain level range, then keep the game within that level range. I've been running a game on and off where everyone started at 4th level, and players level up by adding gestalt layers to their character. So far its been working out well.

I've found that players get annoyed when DCs are arbitrarily set to make mundane things threatening, or when magic makes obsolete challenges impassible. This creates the adamantine chest problem, where the challenge is more valuable than the reward, more frequently than it creates fun.

The problem with diseases, curses, and poisons in this game is that they're entirely defunct at lvl 7. PC's have a panacea for every poison, disease, curse, and magical spell they might come across at this point in time.


It's probably not worth trying to make them care. Diseases are low-level character problems, like wolves and twenty-foot falls.

At high level, you have to give them high level problems. The murky sewer water contains a swarm of ghost rats. Instead of running out of water, they are running out of air. They don't just run out of food; they are cursed with eternal starvation by a hag.


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Matthew Downie wrote:

It's probably not worth trying to make them care. Diseases are low-level character problems, like wolves and twenty-foot falls.

At high level, you have to give them high level problems. The murky sewer water contains a swarm of ghost rats. Instead of running out of water, they are running out of air. They don't just run out of food; they are cursed with eternal starvation by a hag.

I don’t mean to say YAAAAAAAAS, but YAAAAAAAAS.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Warhammer and other grimdark "swimming through sewage will likely land you an incurable disease and you'll die while your penis rots away because it's middle ages for reals" games are ---> that way.

Pathfinder/D&D is a game of quickly overcoming majority of mundane challenges and rising to be fantasy superhero who can hold her breath for 10 minutes and fall from 200 m and barely notice the damage. And that's without magic items or spells or feats factored in. It's one of foundations of D&D design, and one that has been consistent through all editions of the game. Simply put, if you want a game where mundane challenges are viable even for powerful and experienced PCs, there are games that give you that, but D&D and its offshots ain't one of them.


Better games for this sort of thing:

Warhammer FRP as mentioned.
GURPS can be set up to work this way.
Savage Worlds takes a little hacking, but it still might be easier than GURPS if you're not familiar with it.
Shadow of the Demon Lord if you just ban a couple of magic traditions (certainly Healing, there might be another in there somewhere).

The problems with doing it in PF are deep-set and amount to making it a different system anyway.


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Alchemist 23 wrote:
I've always had this issue with Pathfinder specifically high fantasy in general. Diseases, cruses, lack of food, lack of water, and poison are generally non-issues for players over like level 5. I don't want to just say you can't take the spells that fix these problems but it gets to the point where there's 0 consequences for swimming through diarrhea water or walking through something you really shouldn't. There seems to be a magic band-aid spell for everything. And I am meaning more long term rather than in a dungeon.

One player getting a disease is a road bump along the adventure. Everybody in the party getting a disease ends adventuring for at least a day, maybe two. Until you're throwing around Heal as your all day, every day healing spell people only stock so much cure disease/remove curse/restoration type spells. Wands for affliction removal are generally not a good idea since the majority of them are level vs DC that will scale with the party.

But if you have a situation where you've got a party that insists on doing stupid stuff like swimming in a cesspool, hit them with afflictions that aren't diseases. Call for a DC 30 swim check...to avoid swallowing some water. If they fail (who has a swim 30?) then have them make a fortitude save DC = level +5. If they succeed they are sickened for an hour. If they fail they are nauseated for a minute and then sickened for a day. Oh, and they have filth fervor too. Curing the disease doesn't remove the sickened condition.

Water is a non-issue so long as you've got a caster that has create water among their cantrips. If you want to make it an issue, you have to change the game. Easy enough to do, just ban the spell. But it really changes the nature of the game from being high fantasy to a survival looter. Are the players suppose to be happy when they find the orcs were carrying water? Is that what you want?

The main thing that punishes players for bad decisions is being attacked before you can cure away all of your ills. Have random encounter charts, roll every time they do something dumb. Sometimes they'll have to fight before they can cure themselves. It is a learning experience, though it should be more of an adventure.


Gorbacz wrote:

Warhammer and other grimdark "swimming through sewage will likely land you an incurable disease and you'll die while your penis rots away because it's middle ages for reals" games are ---> that way.

Come now good sir, WHFRP rules weren't quite that bad for mundane diseases. Supernatural ones though, those were the kicker but nothing quite as simple as the classic "roll -10 toughness on your T45 character at best poison or instantly die" poisons they had. Eshin assassins, nasty stuff.

But yeah, to go to the topic at hand, Pathfinder's a system where the little things as you describe them stop being a thing people should be concerned with past L6 at best. I mean, people can chokeslam rhinos not too far after that point, banalities like finding potatos or scurvy just aren't part of the paradigm when you're beating the snot out of dragons as a formality. Bigger fish to fry and whatnot. You want to keep them relevant don't allow people to reach the chokeslam rhino thresehold or more preferably find a more grounded system. Pathfinder's good for a bunch of things, but grounded adventure ain't one.

Grand Lodge

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It's not exactly a "little thing," but you can always just make up a disease and have it much nastier than your usual filth fever stuff.

The season nine PFS scenario "Salvation of the Sages" has an awesome example of how to make a disease that even a level 10 characters can't just laugh at.


...okay, so I understand (somewhat) the desire to have poison, disease, and curses continue to matter. But food and water? There's literally a cantrip for water and has been since they made cantrips, I think (it was 1st level before that). Food is 3rd level (was higher before, but definitely still existed). Then there's the Handy Haversacks and Bags of Holding and the most magical item of all, Rations. Write them on your sheet once and forget about them until the GM tries to suddenly run survival mode, at which point you totally still have them and they're still good. If you wanted hardcore survival mode, this is definitely not the game. They include a whole bunch of stuff to specifically ruin that.

As for afflictions, your issue appears to be that they have hard levels and never scale with the players. To which I say, good. If the DC of the common cold changed based on who caught it then high level adventurers need to live in a quarantine zone lest one of their colds gets out and kills the rest of the world. Afflictions have to be localized (in terms of numbers) based on who is exposed to them. A virulent disease that wipes out half the town means half of the commoners live. And if a bunch of commoners can live, physical demigods definitely can. Just like exposure to lava is a grave threat to a first level party but the morning bath of a high level Barbarian. At some point Fort/Will/HP scale to the point that lower level threats don't matter anymore. That's the basis of the game. You get bigger numbers as you level. Anything that threatens lower numbers isn't a threat to those higher numbers. Anything that can threaten higher numbers destroys lower numbers with almost no chance to resist. And, honestly, if you want to threaten a high level party with an affliction you just use a stronger affliction. You just don't put it in the sewers of the city unless you want to explain how the rest of the city isn't already dead.

Also, as an aside, some afflictions are just poorly designed. Arsenic isn't fatal, even if you fail every save, unless you take it multiple times or have 6 Con (or bad luck). Leprosy literally does nothing unless you never sleep (max of 2 Cha damage, you heal 1 every night of sleep).


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

...okay, so I understand (somewhat) the desire to have poison, disease, and curses continue to matter. But food and water? There's literally a cantrip for water and has been since they made cantrips, I think (it was 1st level before that). Food is 3rd level (was higher before, but definitely still existed). Then there's the Handy Haversacks and Bags of Holding and the most magical item of all, Rations. Write them on your sheet once and forget about them until the GM tries to suddenly run survival mode, at which point you totally still have them and they're still good. If you wanted hardcore survival mode, this is definitely not the game. They include a whole bunch of stuff to specifically ruin that.

Minor correction but in 1at there was no cantrip to make food or water, there were some that change the flavor or temperature. Create water was a 1st level speel and create food and water was 3rd

Food poisoning may be something to try. There are types of fungus that infect grain that cause poisoning in humans and animals
One example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergotism#History

It won't kill you but perhaps sick enough to affect performance in combat.


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When you introduce higher level diseases, environmental dangers, etc. Make sure that you give the PCs fair warning. It doesn't have to be explicit but there should at least be signs that something about the area is unusual. The few survivors of the last expedition died as a result of a mysterious illness that the local church was unable to cure. Anyone entering the northern desert never returns if they go past a certain marker. Every time someone tries to establish a town in the eastern swamp the town fails in a few months.

These can make great adventure hooks and allow you to make "mundane problems" like diseases relevant. It also won't come across as arbitrary to the characters, when they get hit with things that would wipeout the local populace. Especially if the local populace was wiped out or has extraordinary means of combating the issue.

In my current game we had to make a side trip into the Numerian Wastes. Our 15th level characters suddenly had to take extreme precautions in order to survive the punishing environment long enough to get what we were after. We also had to be very careful with things we brought back. I never felt like magic we were using trivialized the situation, instead it allowed us to participate. It also made dispel magic a whole lot scarier.


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Alchemist 23 wrote:
I've always had this issue with Pathfinder specifically high fantasy in general. Diseases, cruses, lack of food, lack of water, and poison are generally non-issues for players over like level 5. I don't want to just say you can't take the spells that fix these problems but it gets to the point where there's 0 consequences for swimming through diarrhea water or walking through something you really shouldn't. There seems to be a magic band-aid spell for everything. And I am meaning more long term rather than in a dungeon.

Before you try to make these things matters, you should consider whether it will be more fun for your players or not.

If your players are like myself, you want to become heroic. For me, it's not heroic to be taken out by lack of food or water, or getting sick from wading through scummy water.

So find out what they want to be challenged by and do that.

It sounds like the kind of game your players want might not mesh with what you want.


Grittier games where these things matter are more suited to other rule systems, as mentioned above. We shouldn't rely on the vanilla mechanics, unmodified by houserules, of a "high-fantasy" style game to not at some point transcend the banality of "low-fantasy" issues such as hunger, thirst and diseases.

I mean, we also don't bring up the other "little things" that folks in a low or no fantasy medieval setting would've had to deal with: taxes and tithes, guilds and dues, draconian laws and social customs, lack of freedom for travel due to all of the above, and so on.

Just in 0 level spells alone there's ways to increase your general resistance to any toxin, disease or curse; the ability to generate water, light or fire in nearly any conditions so long as you have a fuel source; with some time you can make minor repairs on 1 LB or more of material from seemingly nothing; you can conjure all manner of life-pleasing effects from minor entertainments and distractions to phantom sounds and breezes, invisible scoops or hands, or forces that open and close portals for us at a distance. Heck, you can even detect some of those poisonous toxins with one of these spells and preserve food and water on your person indefinitely, if you keep this as one of the 3 or more o-level spells you cast every day.

Think about that for a second. Even in a P6 game a single PC with Survival as a class skill, 1 rank and a +1 from their Wis score has about a 50/50 shot of finding food and water in ANY environment. Should they fail, 2 0 level spells (Create Water and Purify Food and Drink) can fill their water containers with clean drinking water while any fetid, rotting corpse they happen upon in the course of their adventuring day, say from a monster, can in an emergency be turned into edible meat (albeit perhaps disgusting meat).

So between skills and 0 level spells food and water are nearly irrelevant right from the start of the campaign.

See if your players want a world where their daily bread, mundane diseases and toxins are difficult challenges to overcome throughout the course of their adventuring lives. If the answer is yes, use ever increasing DCs along with unique poisons and pathogens; perhaps even go P6 or P8 with the game. Track resources - if the PCs are kept under WBL or don't take advantage of Craft/Profession skills, Item Crafting feats and the like then limit their access to wands, potions, scrolls and alchemy that reduce/eliminate these threats.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Adventure Path # 8 has a lot of good information on this subject.


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The name of the game is not "Campers & Campgrounds". It's "Dungeons & Dragons". It's about killing monsters, not going camping.

Just run your adventures. When these situations arise, let them play out and see how the PCs deal with it. Over fifth level is a very rare figure in-world. We don't think much about it because the game goes to 20th level, but the players amass magics and wealth quickly. Players should be able to use their character's abilities when applicable.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dot.


I run a low magic item campaign and I have excellent roleplayers who take the small things into consideration where NPCs and the like are concerned. Of course there are many curative spells to choose from but in the event the Cleric has run out of spells for the day or didn't pray for Remove Curse or the like that day the players do get worried, even up into the mid to higher levels.


PFRPGrognard wrote:

The name of the game is not "Campers & Campgrounds". It's "Dungeons & Dragons". It's about killing monsters, not going camping.

Just run your adventures. When these situations arise, let them play out and see how the PCs deal with it. Over fifth level is a very rare figure in-world. We don't think much about it because the game goes to 20th level, but the players amass magics and wealth quickly. Players should be able to use their character's abilities when applicable.

Yeah, I don't really need to see where the toilets are on the USS Enterprise, either. Heroic Fantasy isn't supposed to be about dying of dysentery, exposure, or starvation.

Unless it is. It is perfectly reasonable to force the characters to go without their Everfull Rations, for the Clerics' deities to refuse to grant them Create Food and Water for a time.

It is also perfectly reasonable to make it an issue in some other way, to make it the object of the quest. The party is approached by an ancient beggar who was once a wealthy and powerful business man, so everybody calls him the Once-ler. The Once-ler is cursed by a Druid until he can plant the last existing seed of a magical plant that can only grow in 1 place. The mission to keep the seed viable, or to keep the seedling viable depends on finding real water because unnatural water won't do for fulfilling a Druid Quest.


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Run low-level games. Disease can be a table-flip at 2nd level.


PFRPGrognard wrote:

The name of the game is not "Campers & Campgrounds". It's "Dungeons & Dragons". It's about killing monsters, not going camping.

After playing 1st D&D in the early 80's under a DM who ran his campaign at times in hardcore survival mode I wholeheartedly disagree with this

If you go into the hills with no rations or other supplies he had no problem whatsoever starving or freezing the group to death

In 1st there was no skills until they came out with the wilderness survival book. There was none of this just roll a d20 and succeed most of time


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
PFRPGrognard wrote:

The name of the game is not "Campers & Campgrounds". It's "Dungeons & Dragons". It's about killing monsters, not going camping.

Just run your adventures. When these situations arise, let them play out and see how the PCs deal with it. Over fifth level is a very rare figure in-world. We don't think much about it because the game goes to 20th level, but the players amass magics and wealth quickly. Players should be able to use their character's abilities when applicable.

Yeah, I don't really need to see where the toilets are on the USS Enterprise, either. Heroic Fantasy isn't supposed to be about dying of dysentery, exposure, or starvation.

Unless it is. It is perfectly reasonable to force the characters to go without their Everfull Rations, for the Clerics' deities to refuse to grant them Create Food and Water for a time.

It is also perfectly reasonable to make it an issue in some other way, to make it the object of the quest. The party is approached by an ancient beggar who was once a wealthy and powerful business man, so everybody calls him the Once-ler. The Once-ler is cursed by a Druid until he can plant the last existing seed of a magical plant that can only grow in 1 place. The mission to keep the seed viable, or to keep the seedling viable depends on finding real water because unnatural water won't do for fulfilling a Druid Quest.

Maybe, but I still strongly recommend making sure your players are on board before you try to bring it into the campaign and to have sufficiently thought out reasons why "the sapling doesn't like magically created water even though it works just fine for people to drink". You also need to share those reasons and not keep them to yourself, otherwise if I was your player I'd be sitting their sulking thinking the whole thing was b$!@%$#% and praying to B!$++~!~icus to come up with an excuse to leave.


I never understood this entire school of thought. "My fantasy game isn't deadly enough, they just use magic to counter it.." Well, duh. Of course, THAT'S WHY IT'S THERE!!!! Diseases and poisons might be serious to your commoners, but your adventurers AREN'T commoners, they hsould be able to shake a good chunk off. Further more, its not like the spell casting and magical things are free. They are spending party resources on making that happen, spending money to have these defenses. Why not whine that all your enemies are being hacked to death with greataxes, and make your enemies immune to them? People that complain "magic fixes everything" really shouldn't being playing this type of game. Go design your own, call irt hardcore or something.

I mean FFS, Eliminster survived in HELL being eaten by worm demons that carry various horrible diseases and shook it off. Drizzt never even caught a common cold, Wulfgar only got sicked when horribly depressed and not sleeping or eating. Cadderly Bonaduce wiggled a finger and healed half a town from some unanmed affliction. Many paladins of the morninglord have healed entire villages overnight. Pwent should have died from like a billion afflictions due to his beyond unsanitary armor conditions and unique fighting style. Belwar had a hand ripped off, and had a magical pickaxe added to his arm with no issues. I could go on and on, but yea, magic does exactly what its designed to, PROVIDED you prepare and track resources accodingly, there is no issue.


Claxon wrote:
You also need to share those reasons and not keep them to yourself, otherwise if I was your player I'd be sitting their sulking thinking the whole thing was b$@&##$@ and praying to B&@%#%!@icus to come up with an excuse to leave.

Thanks to you, my next divine caster will be a cleric of B#@#!#%%icus.

Evilserran wrote:
I never understood this entire school of thought.

People want different things from their games, and that's fine. Whether or not Pathfinder elegantly supports said wants doesn't mean that those wants are somehow BadWrongFun.

Silver Crusade

Its unclear, but I suspect PF2 will address this issue to at least some extent. Disease, survival, etc (at least in the playtest) had the potential to be significant issues.


blahpers wrote:
Thanks to you, my next divine caster will be a cleric of B%+&$%~@icus.

I can't take credit for such a magnificent deity, I learned to worship his majesty when I was a graduate student.


Claxon wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Thanks to you, my next divine caster will be a cleric of B%+&$%~@icus.
I can't take credit for such a magnificent deity, I learned to worship his majesty when I was a graduate student.

One of my characters was the first daughter of the third wife of the famous Orc General Grawlix the Unspeakable.


Ryze Kuja wrote:
InvisiblePink wrote:

Around the point where parties get third-level spells and can afford bundles of wands or potions, they become totally unmoored from quotidian concerns and dangers almost as a matter of system design. Some people like that; some people don't. I'm with you in the latter camp, so I've got a couple of things that can help mitigate it.

- P6 games. This is a modified ruleset where players never have more than six class levels, which nips the problem just as it starts to rear its head. It won't totally solve your concerns, but it will address them with a minimum of fuss.

- No full casters. Restricting players to 4/9 or 6/9 casters pushes the problem back to somewhat higher levels. You may also need to limit which potions/scrolls/wands players have access to.

- Spheres of Power. The third-party Spherecasting system has a lot of merits, but one of my favorite aspects is how spellcasters have to meaningfully invest in abilities instead of trivially acquiring every spell on their list. You can still have someone who can cure diseases by level five, but he'd have to build as The Healer Guy and make it his schtick, so a GM can plan around his capabilities.

Overall, I enjoy stories where the heroes- even if they're larger-than-life figures- still have a few relatable vulnerabilities. The things we're most familiar with, the poison bottle with a skull on it and the frothy-mouthed rabid bear, are the things that have the most emotional salience to us as an audience. Removing them from the library of credible threats risks making the story that much less engaging.

I respectfully disagree with all of this simply because I love playing from lvl1 to lvl20+. If that's your thing to go P6 or disallow 9/9 casters, then that's your thing. But, there is something intrinsically rewarding for the PCs to achieve the level of awesome that is lvl20 and still be as challenged as they were back at level 1.

I have never played a 20th-level character, and frankly just don't even see the allure. I have maybe half-a-dozen "favorites" that I would be happy to play forever at some stable plateau. Even my wizards I have more fun with at low level. Street thugs and goblins are impressed by Color Spray. High-levels bosses, otoh, might croak when you frag 'em, but magic is something they've seen a million times by that point, and they won't be impressed by it no matter what it is.

So, paradoxically, you're more of a "god" in many NPCs' eyes at 1st-level than you are at 10th/20th/etc.

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