Perhaps you’ve heard of “E6: The Game Inside D&D?” Proposed on the EN World forums some six years, E6 notes the different tiers of play in Dungeons & Dragons — and eschews all but the first, suggesting that “6th level” be the new “Epic level.”

The reasoning follows that the gritty, dungeon-crawling heroism of D&D ends once adventurers are able to become invisible or fly — and by Third Edition standards, most heroes stopped following their basic class to “prestige out” or follow another.

I believe both the same problem, and the same potential, exist in Fourth Edition.

By strange coincidence (or not), 10th level in 4e is equivalent to 6th level in 3e. The Raise Dead ritual is powerful magic available only to those adventurers who reach the upper limits of the tier, as is Linked Portal — the first safe long-distance teleportation.

Before these rituals become available, the players must contend with Fey Passage or accept the limitations of whatever their NPC allies can provide. Fourth Edition does a great job of keeping many campaign-breaking effects locked behind rituals.

Fourth Edition classes understandably “max out” at about 10th level, where Paragon Paths are expected to take up the slack. Paragon Paths give way to Epic Destinies at 20th level — but why go through that? Neither has a profound impact on the game.

I ran a campaign from Heroic to Epic — it can be done, but aside from the more attentive players in the group, I doubt any of them could name the Epic Destinies of the other five players. You could blame the players but that doesn’t solve anything.

Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies just don’t integrate well. Especially when everyone gets one. That means somehow you have to work in eight to ten storylines whereby each player undergoes a mechanically similar yet superficially unique rite-of-passage to enter a new Path or Destiny. They just aren’t different enough to matter.

That same fluff though? That same content? Why not adapt it or otherwise make it available to low-level characters? I don’t know what a “Turathi Hellkite” is, but one of my players wants to play one — it just isn’t available until Paragon tier. Why?

In addition to experimenting with new classes and content, I want to adapt or convert Paragon- and Epic-tier material for use in the Heroic tier. There are lots of “dead” character themes that show just how little interest Wizards of the Coast had in experimenting with the design area — why not fill it in with cool Paragon stuff?

I have some ideas I’m working on now — look for them in the coming weeks!