I hear the latest 4e rules update brings a lot of big changes especially in the realm of plugging holes in broken character combos. In light of these updates, Ameron from Dungeon’s Master has retired his broken Sorceror Daggermaster, a combo that used to mix a Rogue paragon class’ bonuses with Sorceror abilities. In the same day Rob Donoghue published a post about the difficulty of reconciling a paragon path’s powers with its flavor and then shoehorning it on to a character. This begs the question: what’s the purpose of paragon paths?
First a little history. Back in 2nd Edition we had class kits which were basically optional builds that were presented in the splat books. The kits provided additional abilities and power swaps, and were generally intended for a specific base class. These were intended to be used at character creation time. So you made a particular type of Paladin (Cavalier) or Rogue (Swashbuckler) from the start. In 3rd, we had Prestige classes, which were optional multi-classes that did not count towards a multi-class limit. Some were meant for specific classes, and some were open to any character that met certain prerequisites. The idea here is that a character would earn specialized levels in a specific organization (The Harpers), handling certain skills or enviroments (an Explorer), or subscribed to a certain philosophy (Assassin). For many of us, we had a particular prestige class in mind when we built a character, and tried to craft a story around obtaining that class. But that generally did not work out very well because either the prestige class’ powers were not as good as taking another level in your base class, or were too overpowered and unbalanced the fun for everyone else.
In 4th edition, everyone gets a paragon path, and with continuous rules updates, it’s harder to build a legal, broken character. The downside as Rob points out is that it is also hard to build a story around the paragon paths. Maybe it’s because I don’t find the paragon paths particularly compelling… they are often based on the unattractive 4e cosmology. Also, I haven’t been considering what paragon path my character will take once he reaches 11th level. I haven’t done this because I don’t know where my character is going (we’re only 8th level) and partly because every month a whole set of new paragon paths come out, changing the landscape.
What I think I want is some set of rules to build a custom paragon path for my character, and is also balanced. For example I’ve built my Psion as a character whose job is to hunt down evil wizards. Ideally I want to build an “arcane hunter” paragon path that gives him powers in those areas, even though this is not at all the focus of our campaign.
What do people think of paragon paths? Do they add to the feel of a character or do they just provide more attacks to choose from?