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Step Up to the Paragon Plate
Dungeon Editorial
by Chris Youngs

The last couple of weeks were pretty good in my personal D&D land. Not only am I still firmly committed to my New Year's resolution, I'm blowing it out of the water. I'm not only playing fulltime in my regular Wednesday game and running my Tuesday game, I'm now also playing James Wyatt's Friday Greenbriar campaign. He was a little worried at first that, because I've read all the Dungeoncraft columns, I'd know everything he had planned for us. Little did James know that my brain is a leaky sieve, and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast most days. Since I have the same thing for breakfast most days, that's a pretty sad statement.

In any event, that's not the only big news. This month, our first paragon adventure for Scales of War goes live, "Beyond the Mottled Tower." It's a wonderful collaboration by three great designers, and it successfully wraps up a nagging loose end from the heroic tier of the Adventure Path … potentially.

In our Wednesday game, our characters just hit level 11 a couple weeks back, so I'm getting familiar with the paragon tier as a player as well. It's awesome to be at the height of your power, and more awesome to have the ability to choose your paragon path. I don't know about all of you, but -- encouraged by my DM -- I took the opportunity to really think about my character's goals and aspirations in the coming levels. Paragon tier is not only a chance to get some cool new toys, it's also an opportunity to better define your hero and really delve into his or her identity.

These two paragon moments got me thinking about the tier in general and what it means to be playing in a paragon campaign as a DM or player. The paragon tier should feel like a definite step up from your heroic game. In the heroic tier, you're exploring dungeons and righting wrongs on a local level. You're just out of your adventurer training wheels and learning -- about what you can accomplish and about what you can't yet -- and getting your feet wet.

But in the paragon tier, I think adventurers, and by extension, adventures, really come into their own. First and foremost, the stakes are higher. No longer are you looking to find the missing blacksmith's son. Now you're concerned about the region-wide slavery ring resulting in disappearances from homes across the land. You aren't worried that snakes have infested a tavern cellar. You're worried that the yuan-ti have subverted the ruler of a city-state and are using him to promote the widespread worship of Zehir. And it's not just a single city that needs your protection, but the entire valley where you and your companions were born and raised.

You'll see many of these themes echoed in "Beyond the Mottled Tower," as the characters try to stop a villain from destroying all of Elsir Vale. As we move forward with more adventures for the paragon tier, you'll see these bigger, more ambitious themes more frequently.

So I hope that, like me, you have the opportunity to run or play in a paragon game in the near future -- if not Scales of War, something just as fun. We'd love to hear about your stories of paragon adventuring and how you feel the game changes, for better or worse, at 11th level. Send us your tales at dndinsider@wizards.com.