Dungeons & Dragons

Paragon: More Than A Hero

According to the Dungeon Master’s Guide, paragon tier heroes “are shining examples of courage and determination – true paragons in the world, set apart from the masses.” Unfortunately, the game then assumes that characters in the paragon tier do much the same thing as heroic tier characters – descending into dungeons with a handful of comrades and killing monsters. Sure the stakes are meant to be higher with entire cities or nations at risk, but the actual adventures have largely the same structure.

I’ve recently been thinking about how paragon tier could be further differentiated from the heroic tier. The main concept that I’ve been focusing on is regional influence with paragon characters having followers, being granted authority by a region’s rulers, or otherwise being responsible for people outside of the party. I don’t see these duties and powers as replacing dungeon delving and heroic combat but instead being able to augment those activities to add a new dimension to a campaign.

For inspiration, I’ve been looking at the mechanics for dynamic affiliations in D&D 3.5’s Player’s Handbook II. Those rules modeled organizations with a few basic statistics (scale, type, and capital) and gave them a list of executive powers that they could undertake. Depending on the power used, an affiliation would need to make one of three types of checks – violence, espionage, or negotiation. I really like the abstract way that those rules handle organizations, but I definitely think that they need some changes to be a fit for what I’m hoping to accomplish.

My very rough idea is that each character will gain a position of power upon reaching 11th level. This position could be anything from a commanding rank in the town guard or local army to something unofficial like being the people’s champion. Depending on the position of power, a character would gain access to certain resources and organization-scale powers. These powers could encompass anything from getting an arrest warrant to having several apprentices do a day’s worth of research in the local library or even organizing a public protest. Because the powers are meant to be organization-scale they would likely require a day or more to use, but they could have effects that influence the normal activities of the characters. For example, organizing a protest against a corrupt noble could demoralize the noble’s minions and make it easier for the players to confront him.

Does that sound like something that you’d be interested in seeing mechanics to support? Do you have any other ideas for ways to model a paragon character’s wider influence?

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

3 replies on “Paragon: More Than A Hero”

I would love something concrete like this, especially if it tied nicely into players Paragon Paths. A single daily executive power seems like a nice way to give more extensive flavor to the PPs. I like the PPs and EDs that give narrative rewards, but they seem to lack mechanical oomph to back it.

I’ve been eying the company mechanics from ORE: Reign. It allows for seamless integration of individual PCs and NPCs into small groups, all the way up to entire nations or empires. It all becomes relative, so it works nicely. The abstracted Qualities of companies in Reign are Might, Influence, Treasure, Territory, and Sovereignty and apply to physical groups as well as ideological or abstract powers.

I’m a huge fan of micromanaging and administration games, as well as anything that scales elegantly from individual to global, but I know that’s not for everyone. The entire goal of one party in my homebrew world is to start a resistance movement and gather allies to oppose a tyrannical empire. I would love simple mechanical incentives to get the players to actually interact with the followers and allies they’re nurturing, rather than just leaving them somewhere safe and doing the dangerous stuff solo.

The other group (both are paragon) is more saving the world in the meantime, but I would love a clean way for them to interact with and involve and come to care about the people they’re fighting for. Giving many people power that solo heroes can’t wield as individuals, without burying the individual contributions of the heroes has been my problem so far. Skill challenges are nice, but complicated, and too much metagame for my tastes.

I look forward to benefiting from your thoughts.

The first party you describe is exactly what I’d be aiming for with the mechanics – I hope to end up with a structure to give paragon characters an option for using leadership and followers to solve problems rather than taking on every problem themselves.

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