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Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns (1995)

Sigh. The distant, unfulfilled promise of Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns (1995). I’ve always wanted to get there, but never did. I wouldn’t be surprised if scant others did either — the real sweet spot for D&D was always from about level 7 to level 12. Things get weird after that.

Nevertheless, here we have tantalizing rules for play that account for levels 20 through 30. There’s lots of interesting stuff, like rules for crafting powerful magic items and a bunch of extra-powerful “true” spells. High level skills act as sort of super powers, anticipating 3E’s feats system. There is a good deal of discussion about how to run and manage high level play, which I think offers a lot of valuable re-examination of assumptions for any level of play, honestly. This section is philosophical and advice-y and pairs well with the DMGR1: Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide.

The whole thing is undone in my eyes by not being a complete high level system. This stuff is for humans only, so all your players with elves and dwarves and whatever are left out in the cold. There are lots of ways that race is a borked concept for RPGs, but in practical terms, this is easily the most frustrating.

There are lots of weird illustrations in here, but my absolute, unquestioned favorite is by Eric Hotz and features the ever-creepy and terrifying black ball, a floating, seemingly intelligent sphere that disintegrates anything it touches. One of my all time favorite D&D monsters, I particularly love the idea of it being drawn by Hotz, who is probably best know for the historical realism he brought to Columbia Games’ Harn setting.

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