Excerpts Archive | 4/23/2008
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Excerpts: Paragon Paths
4th Edition Player's Handbook

While we continue to present excerpts and previews from the core rulebooks every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leading up to 4th Edition’s release, we’ve also asked members of R&D to help introduce these previews—to explain in brief what these materials bring to the game.

For today’s excerpts, we asked R&D’s Julia Martin to introduce the concept of paragon paths:


Your paragon path is college after high school, the second job you take after you leave the first one, the worthy cause you volunteer your time to help with while you are working full time. If you’re coming to Dungeons & Dragons from the 3rd edition/v3.5 edition, paragon paths are somewhat similar to prestige classes. In 4th edition terms, paragon paths let you further tweak and refine your character within the more general conceptual space of a class, even as you continue to gain features from your class.

To think of them another way, paragon paths are like snack-size packets of character concept—just enough, but not so much you’ve ruined your dinner with either bloat or an unhappy mixture of class concepts for your taste. Dip into one flavor by selecting your path for 11th to 20th, and then select another course again from 21st to 30th with an epic destiny. (Alternatively if you wish, you can also select powers from a second class in place of a paragon path. That’s described in the information on multiclassing, and something we’ll cover in a future preview article.)

The Player’s Handbook supplies many paragon paths (you’ll find one for each class, previewed below), plus upcoming products and Dragon Magazine features will include even more paths as time goes on. That gives you lots of snack-size packets to choose from in order to craft the perfect character and differentiate your particular class build from the many others in the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Here are the fundamentals: You select a paragon path at 11th level. You gain access to two or more paragon path features at 11th level, including a paragon path feature that let’s you broaden the use of an action point with an additional benefit. You also gain another paragon path feature at 16th level. In addition, selecting a paragon path gives you access to one encounter power at 11th, one utility power at 12th, and a daily power at 20th. All of which looks like this:

  • 11th: Paragon path feature
  • 11th: Paragon path action point feature
  • 11th: Paragon path encounter power
  • 12th: Paragon path utility power
  • 16th: Paragon path feature
  • 20th: Paragon path daily power

--Julia Martin





You have survived and thrived through ten levels of adventure.

You’ve explored dank dungeons, defeated vile monsters, and learned priceless secrets. You’ve started making a name for yourself.

Now you’re ready to take the next step: you’re ready to choose a paragon path.

As your class describes your basic role in the party, your paragon path represents a particular area of expertise within that role. It’s a form of specialization beyond even what a build choice represents. You might be a battle cleric and specialize in melee powers, but starting at 11th level you can be a warpriest and specialize in battle prayers.

As shown on the Character Advancement table on page 29 of the Player's Handbook, your paragon path gives you new capabilities from 11th level through 20th level. But adopting a paragon path doesn’t mean you stop advancing in your class. All the powers and features you gain from your paragon path come in addition to your class powers and features, not instead of them. You don’t stop being a cleric when you become a radiant servant. Instead, you gain new capabilities that extend, enhance, and complement the abilities of your class.

Paragon paths also broaden the use of action points in different ways. Each paragon path features a different, extra capability that characters can unlock by spending action points. So, once you pick your paragon path, you can still spend an action point to take an extra action. But you’ll also have a new capability for action points that is unique to your path. Some of these capabilities come in addition to the extra action you get for spending an action point, some are used instead of getting an extra action.

When you reach 11th level, choose a paragon path. All paths have prerequisites, conditions you have to fulfill before you can adopt that path.

Paragon Tier Feats

Any feat in the following section is available to a character of 11th level or higher who meets the prerequisites. A sampling of paragon tier feats:

Name Prerequisites Benefit
Armor Specialization (Chainmail) Dex 15, training with chainmail +1 to AC with chainmail, reduce check penalty by 1
Danger Sense Roll twice for initiative, use the higher result
Deadly Axe Str 17, Con 13 Treat all axes as high crit weapons
Devastating Critical Deal additional 1d10 damage on a critical hit
Empowered Dragon Breath Dragonborn, dragon breath racial power Dragon breath uses d10s
Lasting Frost Target hit with cold power gains vulnerable cold 5
Scimitar Dance Str 15, Dex 17 Deal Dex modifier damage on miss
Second Implement Wizard, Arcane Implement Mastery class feature Gain mastery with second arcane implement
Seize the Moment Dex 17 Gain combat advantage over foe with lower initiative
Sly Hunter Wis 15 +3 damage with bow against isolated target
Spear Push Str 15, Dex 13 Add 1 square to distance pushed with spear or polearm
Steady Shooter Con 15 +3 damage with crossbow if you don’t move
Twofold Curse Warlock, Warlock’s Curse class feature Curse the two nearest enemies
Underfoot Halfling, trained in Acrobatics Move through spaces of Large or larger creatures

Cleric: Warpriest

“Let loose the gift of battle!”

Prerequisite: Cleric class

Your god demands battle to accomplish the tenets of your faith, and you are the chosen priest at the forefront of the war. When you call upon your divine powers, your weapons glow with holy light.

Warpriest Path Features

Extra Damage Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you also add one-half your level to the damage dealt by any of your standard action attacks this turn.

Warpriest’s Strategy (11th level): Once per encounter, if you or an adjacent ally rolls a 1 when making a melee attack or a close attack, you can call for a reroll.

Warpriest’s Training (11th level): You receive a +1 bonus to AC when wearing heavy armor.

Warpriest’s Challenge (16th level): When you hit an enemy with an at-will melee attack, you can choose to mark that enemy for the rest of the encounter. The next time that enemy shifts or attacks a creature other than you, you can make an opportunity attack against that enemy. If you mark a new enemy with this feature, any previous marks you have made with this feature end.


Fighter: Kensei

“My weapon and I are as one.”

Prerequisite: Fighter class

You study an ancient form of martial training that makes you one with your chosen weapon, creating a combination of destruction that few foes can long stand against.

Kensei Path Features

Kensei Control Action (11th level): You can spend an action point to reroll one attack roll, damage roll, skill check, or ability check, instead of taking an extra action.

Kensei Focus (11th level): You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls with a melee weapon of your choice.

Kensei Mastery (16th level): You gain a +4 bonus to damage rolls with the same weapon you selected for Kensei Focus. If you ever use a different type of weapon, you lose this benefit, and the benefit for Kensei Focus, until you take a short rest, during which time you reattune yourself to your chosen weapon with a short meditation.


Paladin: Justiciar

“I fight for justice, my faith and my strong arm defending those in need.”

Prerequisite: Paladin class

You become the embodiment of justice, a champion of righteousness and fairness—at least as viewed from the perspective of your particular faith. You are granted the ability to shelter and protect your allies and others in need, while also receiving powers that help you do the right thing according to the faith you have embraced.

Justiciar Path Features

Just Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, each enemy adjacent to you is weakened until the end of its next turn.

Just Spirit (11th level): Each ally adjacent to you can reroll one saving throw at the end of his or her turn.

Just Shelter (16th level): Allies adjacent to you are immune to fear and charm effects and receive a +1 bonus to saving throws.


Ranger: Stormwarden

“I have accepted the burden of the stormwardens of the Feywild, and this region is under my protection.”

Prerequisite: Ranger class, two-blade fighting style

Your role as a warden and defender of the wild takes on new heights as you learn the ancient ways of the stormwardens of the Feywild. These techniques turn your whirling blades into a storm of destruction that rains down punishing blows on your enemies. With each slash of your weapon, the wind howls in anticipation of the coming storm.

Stormwarden Path Features

Blade Storm (11th level): As long as you are armed with a melee weapon and are capable of making an opportunity attack, one adjacent enemy (your choice) takes damage equal to your Dexterity modifier at the end of your turn.

Stormstep Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you can teleport 3 squares either before or after you use the extra action.

Twin-Blade Storm (16th level): As long as you are armed with a melee weapon and are capable of making an opportunity attack, two adjacent enemies (your choice) take lightning damage equal to your Dexterity modifier at the end of your turn.

Stormwarden Exploits

Clearing the Ground Stormwarden Attack 11
You sweep your blades in mighty arcs around you, cutting foes that get too close and thrusting them back.

EncounterMartial,Weapon
Standard Action Close burst 1
Requirement: You must be wielding two melee weapons.
Target: Each enemy in burst you can see
Attack: Strength vs. AC

Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage, and you push the target 1 square.

Throw Caution to the Wind Stormwarden Utility 12
Aw, what the hell. You only live once.

EncounterMartial, Stance
Minor Action Personal

Effect: You take a –2 penalty to all defenses and gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls.

Cold Steel Hurricane Stormwarden Attack 20
You rush into the midst of your enemies and, like a freezing wind, flay them alive.

DailyMartial, Weapon
Standard Action Close burst 1
Requirement: You must be wielding two melee weapons.
Special: Before you attack, shift a number of squares equal to your Wisdom modifier.
Target: Each enemy in burst you can see
Attack: Strength vs. AC (main weapon and off-hand weapon), two attacks per target

Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage per attack.

Effect: You regain your second wind if you have already used it during this encounter.


Rogue: Shadow Assassin

“When you need something dead, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone better at the job than me.”

Prerequisite: Rogue class

You become a killing machine, striking from the shadows with deadly and bloody efficiency, and turning attacks against you into pain and suffering for your enemies. You believe in doing unto others before they can do unto you, and you know how to deliver punishment as only a striker can.

Shadow Assassin Path Features

Shadow Assassin’s Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you also gain a +4 bonus to attack rolls until the start of your next turn.

Shadow Assassin’s Riposte (11th level): Any adjacent enemy that misses you with a melee attack takes damage equal to your Dexterity modifier.

Bloody Evisceration (16th level): Gain an extra 1d6 Sneak Attack damage when attacking a bloodied enemy.


Warlock: Doomsayer

“I speak for the cold darkness beyond the stars. I see the myriad ways that doom comes upon you.”

Prerequisite: Warlock class, star pact

You wrap yourself in the fear of the darkness beyond the stars and use it as a shield against your enemies. In addition, you examine the strands of fate to issue proclamations of doom to all who stand against you.

Doomsayer Path Features

Doomsayer’s Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you also deal the extra damage of your Warlock’s Curse to all of your enemies currently affected by it.

Doomsayer’s Proclamation (11th level): Enemies within 10 squares of you must roll two dice when rolling saving throws against fear effects. They must use the lower of the two rolls.

Doomsayer’s Oath (16th level): When you are bloodied, you gain a +2 power bonus to attack rolls when you use a power that has the fear keyword.


Warlord: Sword Marshal

“This weapon is my symbol of office, and it shines over the field of battle as I wield it against our enemies.”

Prerequisite: Warlord class, proficiency with heavy blade

You have extensively studied the use of light blades and heavy blades, and your weapon of choice has become a symbol of your power and leadership. You never enter a battle without your blade in hand, and your allies know to look for the gleaming weapon when they need help or inspiration.

Sword Marshal Path Features

Disciplined Blade (11th level): When you miss with a melee attack when using a heavy blade, you gain a +2 bonus to your next attack roll against the same enemy.

Sword Marshal’s Action (11th level): You can spend an action point to regain one warlord encounter power you have already used, instead of taking an extra action.

Skewer the Weak (16th level): When you score a critical hit using a heavy blade, you and all your allies gain combat advantage against the enemy you struck until the end of your next turn.


Wizard: Battle Mage

“You think I’m just a simple scholar, my head buried amid my scrolls and books? Think again!”

Prerequisite: Wizard class

You didn’t leave behind the thrill of battle when you took up the mantle of wizard, so why should you stand back and let the fighters have all the fun? You have developed skills and techniques that have turned you into a true battle mage, ready to deal damage up close and personal or from afar, depending on the situation and how the mood strikes you. You have even learned of a technique for using arcane energy to temporarily stave off death—and you can’t wait to try it out in battle!

Battle Mage Path Features

Arcane Riposte (11th level): Imbued with magical might, your hands bristle with arcane energy in the heat of battle. When a creature provokes an opportunity attack from you, make an opportunity attack with one of your hands (Dexterity vs. AC). Choose cold, fire, force, or lightning. You deal 1d8 + Intelligence modifier damage of that type with this attack.

Battle Mage Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you also gain a +4 bonus to attack rolls until the start of your next turn.

Battle Edge (16th level): When you first become bloodied in an encounter, you can use any at-will power you know as an immediate reaction.


Be sure to return Friday for a look at power cards!