I have looked up a lot of adventures now and the highest average was to be supposed to let the adventurers finish it at level 15.

Are there any official published adventures supposing the PC's to get even higher?

And is there (if not so) any non-opinion-based reason why there is not?

Is there some drawback by targeting the adventurers getting lvl 20?


4 Answers 4


Dungeon of the Mad Mage

This is a new answer: since this question was originally asked and answered in 2016, new information has become available. An upcoming adventure releasing November 13th, 2018 titled Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage will run from Level 5 to Level 20.

According to the product description on Wizards of the Coast's official D&D website:

This adventure picks up where Waterdeep: Dragon Heist leaves off, taking characters of 5th level or higher all the way to 20th level should they explore the entirety of Halaster’s home.

That will make this the first official WotC-published D&D 5E module that takes players to Level 20.


Are there?

No, there are none from WotC.

Why not?

When Crawford, Mearls and Perkins were asked about it the consensus was that after level 15 the game is mature enough that the DM can build on whatever has already happened. Moreover, few games last long enough to get much beyond level 15 or 16 for real life reasons.

Real life reasons (at request of the asker)

Getting to level 20 takes a long time, and things happen in players lives. They get busy and can't play, their characters may die, want to play other games, etc. Each of these can slow down or end a campaign.

Market Demand

As a result WotC doesn't see much demand for adventures over level 15 in surveys they write. Also they want evil to win.

Drawbacks to level 20?

There are no drawbacks. You can run your own adventures or you can use published material for lower levels by scaling the adventure using the scaling monsters rules from the DMG.

Moreover, play can go beyond level 20, the DMG just offers that can continue to earn epic boons, but they don't give much information on epic level games/gaming. There are a host of different homebrews for post 20 leveling.

It could be argued that at level 20 or beyond that you've so outgrown the world that a lot of players might find it boring -- but there are still more challenging monsters. The Tarrasque has a challenge rating of 30, but there is nothing stopping a DM from creating creatures above that in their worlds.

  • \$\begingroup\$ By drawbacks i more mean something like the realligfe reasons you mentioned. Could you describe what exactly those reallife reasons are? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zaibis
    Apr 29, 2016 at 14:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis That could literally be anything. Someone has a baby, or they move across the country, or they die, or they are no longer friends with the GM, etc. All the normal (or not so normal) reasons why people stop playing games with their friends. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2016 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude: ok thats reasonable, but the key information I wasn't aware of, was that it takes THAT long to get lvl 20 that it is reasonable all thsi things could happen in that time ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Zaibis
    Apr 29, 2016 at 16:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ it takes ~220 medium difficulty encounters to go from level 1 to level 20. Assuming you have 2 encounters per session, that's 110 sessions, or >2 years of weekly games with no breaks. And depending on the game, you might have fewer encounters than that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shem
    Apr 29, 2016 at 16:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis combat will speed up as people learn the rules, and every DM will have a different style. I've run sessions that were a full on 12v12 combat (the difficulty level was beyond deadly) that took the entire 3 hr session (we even went a little over), and I've had other times where we didn't roll a single die (party just got to waterdeep and wanted to go exploring). It all depends on the players and DM. If you're looking explicitly for a strategy combat sim, try pathfinder. 5e is designed to be a lot more about the story and RP than combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shem
    Apr 30, 2016 at 14:31

So I agree with @J. A. Streich on his direct answers to your questions. But I think it's also worth mentioning that building a "generic" quest for characters above level 15 is really hard for a number of reasons.

  1. Access to world-warping spells. 8th-level Cleric spells include Antimagic Field, Control Weather, & Earthquake. 8th-level Wizard spells add things like Clone and Demiplane on top of stuff like Teleport and Planeshift. A party would consist of multiple people that can operate on this level. The party can destroy small kingdoms.

  2. Access to immense wealth. PCs gather a lot of money & wealth over time. My group ran through Lost Mine of Phandelver, and by the start of 5th level they had

    acquired 10% of the mining rights to a new mine (that also included a magic item forge), along with the rights to a Manor large enough to house them all.

    This is on top of a small hoard of gold and thousands of gp in magical items. I'm in the process of running Elemental Evil and a savvy group can acquire

    boats along with some salvageable keeps for "summer homes", access to flying mounts, a magical research facility and probably tons of other stuff I haven't read yet. Kill a couple of a older Dragons and you have the type of money to run small trading empires and satisfy lavish lifestyles.

  3. Access to powerful people. On the road to level 15, you will probably meet powerful people. People know you, everyone in the region for 100s of miles will at least have heard of you. You probably run or chair a significant local organization. You don't walk into a dungeon and surprise people, the local Liches and Dragons and Lords and Cults all know who you are. You have a retinue of people who tend to your stuff and properties while you're away and a couple of them are probably paid spies for all of the previous groups.

And remember, level 20 is 5 levels after you get access to an Earthquake spell that can destroy a keep and 3 levels after you get access to True Resurrection and the ability to bring back Kings that have been dead for 200 years.

I honestly don't know how you can reliably write a generic adventure for a group like this.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good call, thank you... actually tempted to rewrite this answer now without the spoilers, not sure how much they contribute. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    May 1, 2016 at 4:26

As for published adventures, as best I can tell there is no non-WotC published adventures that go beyond level 15. Here is the list of currently published adventures (2016-04-29).

  • Confrontation at Candlekeep [2] (15 Jul, 2014)
  • Lost Mines of Phandelver [1 - 4]
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen [1 - 8] (19 Aug, 2014)
  • Curse of Strahd [1 - 10]
  • Princes of the Apocalypse [1 - 15]
  • Out of the Abyss [1 - 15]
  • The Rise of Taimat [8 - 15]

The second question has already been answered, here is an official tweet, in response to asking about published adventures between level 16-20.

Mike Mearls: in past we've seen a steep decline in demand with high level

With that I mind, I doubt it was their goal so close to the launch to create content for what would make up only a small part of the community.


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