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Epic Levels in OD&D

by Scott Moore

Before the release of the Epic Level Handbook for third edition D&D, the d20 Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting offered a sidebar (p. 289) of suggestions for gaining "Epic" levels once a character hit the established maximum of 20th level in third edition. With just slight modifications, these suggestions can easily be applied to an OD&D (or for that matter, AD&D) campaign based in Mystara.

Once a character has reached their maximum level and attack rank, they may continue to gain levels as "Epic" heroes, which should be designated separately from their regular class levels. For example, a fighter who has gained two levels after reaching 36th level would have a class designation of "Fighter 36/Epic 2". The cost in XP for achieving each Epic level is the same as it is for achieving the higher levels in the character's base class, as detailed in the following table.

Cleric, Druid 100,000 XP
Avenger, Druidic Knight, Fighter, Knight, Paladin 120,000 XP
Bard, Mystic, Rake, Rogue, Thief 120,000 XP
Magic User (Magist, Magus) 150,000 XP
Dwarf, Krugel Orc 200,000 XP
Elf (using Attack Rank advancement), Forester* 250,000 XP
Halfling (using Attack Rank advancement) 300,000 XP
Elf or Halfling (using 36-level advancement) 200,000 XP

* As an option, Foresters may be permitted to gain Attack Ranks after reaching their maximum level (10) using the same Experience Table as Elves. If this method of advancement is used, Foresters should be permitted to gain Epic levels after reaching Attack Rank M.


For each Epic level gained, a character selects one of the following benefits.

+1 Effective Level: Since OD&D characters would already be at maximum level before taking Epic levels, this option essentially allows characters to gain one new General Skill for every four Epic Effective Levels gained. THAC0, Hit Dice, hit points, and saving throws are not affected.

+1 Ability: Increase any single ability score by one point.

+1 Attack: Add a non-magical +1 to all your attack rolls (this benefit is functionally similar in effect to gaining an Attack Rank).

+1 Bonus Spell Level: The spellcasting character gains 1 spell slot per day whose level is one higher than the highest level spell he can currently cast. This allows Avengers, Elves, Foresters, and Paladins to gain access to higher-level spells. For characters already capable of casting 9th level spells, these spell slots can be used for casting additional spells of 9th level or lower.

Mystics and Demihumans

Since Mystics and demihumans are severely limited in the maximum number of regular class levels they can gain, it is suggested that Epic levels not be available to them until they reach their maximum Attack Rank (for demihumans) or until they reach at least 20th level using the Extended Experience Table from the Variant Rules in Chapter 19 of the D&D Rules Cyclopaedia. Alternately, Mystics may be allowed to gain Attack Ranks H through M at a cost of 150,000 XP each, qualifying to add Epic levels once they reach Attack Rank M.

Hollow World Campaigns

For Hollow World campaigns, you may want to plan out a similar Attack Rank progression requirement for any Beastmen, Brute-Men, Hutaakan, or Malpheggi Lizard Men characters (similar to that described above for Mystics) before permitting them to gain Epic levels.


For those pursuing immortality through the path of the Epic Hero (the sphere of thought), the GM may want to require a minimum number of Epic levels achieved by the applicant during his period of petitioning.