Has anyone, ever, made it to 30th-level? I remember when Dragon-Kings came out and everyone was making plans for when their character made it to 30th. However, the highest anyone ever got was to 10th-level. Most died at 3rd.
Another factor, for us, was competing RPG games; we’d play Dark Sun for the summer, then switch to AD&D2e for the fall and Battletech for the winter then Cyperpunk2020 etc.
Yes. I ran a dark sun (and later planescape, and forgotten realms, yay worldhopping) game where the characters reached insanely high level, including a full 30th level dragon. In the interest of full disclosure however, the game started with the characters at roughly level 15 (we wanted to test out high level gameplay) and I was rather generous with XP. I actually posted the stats for one of the characters at the end of the game on this website.
I think maybe something around lvl 10 or 12 is as high as I ever got a character as a player. I knew people back in the day that talked about how they used the dual class rules to get human characters to be 20th lvl in multiple classes and even a couple of 1e players that did not use lvl limits and claimed to have hit lvl 100.
If your sticking to the advancement pace mentioned in the DMG it would take something like 150+ adventures to reach lvl 30.
I have a 2e campaign I have run for a couple of years. Its right about 90 sessions and the highest lvl character is a W/T that is 11 in thief and 9 or 10 in Wizard.
I’ve not had any characters get above 35 using 3.5 rules but several that made it to 30. One of those characters is actually an original 2e character that was converted when we switched, she’s the only surviving original character from when we started in 91.
Of course she started as a human and is now a dray heading up a merchant house based in the restored Guistenal, responsible not just for trade but also finding humans who willingly (mostly) convert to dray in order to gain access to Guistenal, the Sunrise Bay, and the restoration efforts headed by Dregoth.