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I will soon be running a D&D 4e campaign set in a homebrewed universe. Races and classes are getting re-skinned into whatever concept the players want, so long as they remain the same mechanically. I was pretty much set on doing the same thing with Paragon Paths and (to a lesser extent) Epic Destinies when the idea hit me that a character concept and what they want out of a Paragon Path or Epic Destiny may not line up with the prerequisites that that Path has mechanically.

So the question is:

Is there any danger, game-balance wise, to allowing any character to have any Paragon Path or Epic Destiny regardless of mechanical prerequisites?

Answers should be based either on experience with doing something similar, or otherwise based on showing with concrete examples how this might drastically unbalance a party- or not!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Simply put the possible combinations and their power comparisons is going to be astronomically high. You are right to want actual experience/examples, but to do so and adequately answer the question you've posed would take up a lot of space. In short the restrictions on PPs and EDs are there because some pretty wonky combinations could be had if they were not and the designers saw fit to put them in place. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Mar 17 '15 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith Is there a way I should/could rephrase the question to make it more suitable to SE? Or is it a lost cause. =) \$\endgroup\$ – sillyputty Mar 17 '15 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ It may just not be answerable by our format since you are asking about a system designer choice on a case by case basis and for us to evaluate it. If you were asking simply if X + Y was too unbalanced (and provided 1 or 2 suitable examples in system of balance) we could probably answer that, but I feel its just too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Mar 17 '15 at 14:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok. Is the correct procedure for me to just delete the question, or leave it up until the moderators decide to close it? \$\endgroup\$ – sillyputty Mar 17 '15 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't find this hard to answer at all. It opens up your characters to a catastrophic number of options, most of which are bad for them because they have multiple wasted features/powers. Evaluate exceptions on a case-by-case basis. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode Mar 17 '15 at 15:48
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I don't think this will be a problem, balance-wise, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily good for your players, either.

Most paragon paths with prerequisites tend to have features or powers which modify or require features that are related to those prerequisites.

Cleric paragon paths modify healing word; Ranger paragon paths modify hunter's quarry; Sainted General modifies Divine Challenge, Inspiring Word, and the F11 requires paladin or warlord powers; Daggermaster only works on rogue powers, Student of Caiphon on warlock powers.

Very few epic destinies have specific features required, and those that do heavily modify that feature, so, without that feature, those epic destinies would be pretty bad. Examples include Sovereign Beast which makes your Wild Shape Large sized, and Beastlord, which provides multiple bonuses specific to beastmaster ranger animal companions.

Deva's racial ED, Soul of the World would have to be disallowed or it would automatically be the best possible choice for almost any character, but most racial destinies offer stat bumps similar to the base racial bonuses, and modify that race's racial power.

In my experience, option paralysis is a more common source of party optimization disparity than munchkinry.

For every Paragon Path like Stormwarden that could be great for any STR/DEX class there's ~10 that have at least one feature or power that would simply do nothing if you lacked the proper class, so for the most part, all this does is increase option bloat.

Additionally, most paragon paths and epic destiny prerequisites can already be met by multiclassing.

If a fighter wants to take Darkstrider or Blade Dancer, all he has to do is take a Ranger MC feat, and then he qualifies. Way less than 10% of all paragon paths have a specific feature required. Some of those are powerful, like Battlefield Archer, but the Archer Ranger is the best Archer archetype striker anyway (and it has both a feature and a power which modify quarry), so who else would want it?

There's a slew of epic destinies with no (or minimal) requirements, and the more requirements they have, the more likely they are to match the specific mechanics of a character likely to meet them. Arcane EDs have implement powers and mental stat boosts, martial EDs have weapon powers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow. A thoroughly good answer that tells me all of the pitfalls, and explains why I would receive few if any benefits. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – sillyputty Mar 17 '15 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear here, I think case-by-case exceptions are badass, and absolutely the way to go, but just globally allowing everything is more overwhelming than it's worth. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode Mar 17 '15 at 16:29

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