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I'm planning a campaign aimed at about 14th level (roughly) after the paragon paths are normally chosen.

Is there a good (read; sensible) way to delay the character from gaining their Paragon paths until a few ranks afterwards, so they can pick them in play, not at creation? How can it be done well? What mechanical effect does this have on the characters?

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At one point the online character builder would break if you delayed, I don't know if this is still true. However I believe it is legal and legitimate to delay selection until a later time. –  wax eagle Jan 5 '12 at 15:00
    
Brilliant, I did think it was possible as being level 11 is only a pre-request (?) to take the path. Now to answer: Is it ever a good idea? How can it be done well? What effect does this have on the characters? –  Pureferret Jan 5 '12 at 15:07
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Is there any particular reason you wouldn't just start the characters at 10th level? –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 5 '12 at 15:16
    
I think the campaign I want to run for them would be too difficult (Underdark, 'epic' battles etc) for level 10 characters. –  Pureferret Jan 5 '12 at 15:27
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It seems like if you're worried about this, then it might be easier to scale down the level (read: CR) of combat. Just a suggestion though. –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 5 '12 at 16:22
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It is my opinion that this isn't the best idea. It is better to adjust the scale of the encounters to be more appropriate to the party than it is to alter the rules for how the party progresses.

I only have a little D&D 4E experience but my 10+ years of general GM experience tells me that there will be less strain and resistance from the party members if you take the time to alter and rewrite your campaign rather than re-write the rules for character progression. They may feel robbed or 'nerfed' unfairly from powers and attributes they feel they deserve.

If you simply adjust the campaign, you only have to deal with your own decisions on what changes to make behind the scenes. If you make changes to the way players expect to play you could get a variety of behaviors in response; if it's a public game, you risk alienating some people by exerting this control. While the GM has ultimate authority over the rules of his/her game it is generally a good rule of thumb that house-rules should add more to the game than they take away from it. This one only seems to take away from the party.

In short, it will take more work but you will risk less resistance from your players if you take the time to re-work the campaign to be appropriate for a level before Paragon paths if you want them to work out their Paragon choice in the story.

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I don't think this is a good idea, because.

  • Your players probably will not be happy with you for denying them something cool
  • They'll likely be underpowered for their level.

Even if you let them take their higher level base-class powers instead of having a paragon path, the paragon and epic tier classes provide the characters with additional special abilities that you can't get elsewhere.

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Delaying paragon paths will have several effects, all of which will cause the player characters to be a bit weaker.

Paragon paths give two class effects at level 11 or 12. These are roughly equivalent to feats in power. In addition, paragon paths give a level 11 encounter power and a level 12 utility power.

These deficits could possibly be offset by granting the players temporary feats and/or powers until they get their paragon path. The powers might be general powers that you create for the characters based on their role, or they could be an additional encounter and utility power from a lower level.

As for how to pick the paragon paths in play, there are several ways to introduce the paths in a more organic way, ranging from open ended to binary choices. You could let the players choose during play and having them justify what caused their character to go in that direction. Alternately, you could have each player select two possible paragon paths, and then create situations during the campaign that cause them to go with one or the other.

I think this could add to the immersion if you explain it to your players and execute it well.

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