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View Full Version : Are Racial Paragon Classes worthwhile? (3.5.)



Tempest Fennac
2009-07-27, 12:48 AM
I reading a review of Unearthed Arcana ( http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/10/10125.phtml ) the other day and I noticed the authour said that Paragon classes ( http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/racialParagonClasses.htm ) were significantly better then normal classes, which confused me due to most of the Paragon Classes not looking that good to me (the Half Orc, Human and Elf ones looked good for certain builds ut the others looked like they were weaker then normal classes to me). Has anyone found them to be weak or strong compared to similar classes?

Gorgondantess
2009-07-27, 12:51 AM
I reading a review of Unearthed Arcana ( http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/10/10125.phtml ) the other day and I noticed the authour said that Paragon classes ( http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/racialParagonClasses.htm ) were significantly better then normal classes

....Wow. I'll have some of whatever he's smoking!:smalltongue:

Hectonkhyres
2009-07-27, 01:14 AM
My guess is that he was snorting the fumes from a burning collection of Excel Saga DVD's soaked in the tears of the innocent. Could be wrong. A copy of Dead Leaves and the blood of an unbaptized orphan newborn, unwanted and unloved, might produce a similar reaction.

Chaelos
2009-07-27, 01:16 AM
They're not worthless, but they're far from "significantly" better than just taking normal class levels. What actually gives them any value at all isn't those bonuses, but the fact that they get those bonuses AND stack levels partially with existing caster levels. Even then, they still force you to take a one class-level hit, which is always going to suck. But for that, I'd say they were quite good--if you have levels in the "favored" class, anyway.

Bottom line, they provide some nice benefits which may or may not be worthwhile, depending on your character, but that level loss is going to be the thing that stings most, if you're a caster. I wouldn't bother with them at all, as a fighting-type character, but that's just me. And if you have no levels in the race's favored class, again, don't bother.

Tempest Fennac
2009-07-27, 01:16 AM
So I take it they aren't worth it in general, right? (The stat boost is the only thing I'd really want out of most of them, and even then the fact that they only apply to 1 stat which you can't pick means it's not perfect for every sort of character).

RTGoodman
2009-07-27, 01:19 AM
Eh, I wouldn't say their GREAT, but I don't think they're USELESS. I mean, I probably wouldn't take one with most characters, but some have some advantages. The Half-Orc Paragon grants full BAB, +4 Intimidate, an extra Rage, and +2 Str, which I can see as being decent for an Intimidate/Demoralize-focused Barbarian. Of course, the poor Ref and Will saves aren't very good for any character, and the d8 hit die SUCKS.

Others, though, are outright TERRIBLE. The Half-Dragon one, in particular, I've noticed it is bad. Hey, you've already wasted three levels on that LA +3 to get some mediocre stat boost, minor NA and natural weapons, and a sucky 1/day breath weapon - wanna go the distance and get a benefit you'll probably never use (Sorcerous Blood, which doesn't even advance casting, only Caster Level), a piddly NA increase, and the ability to use your sucky breath weapon two extra times per day? :smallannoyed: The only good things it has going are the good HD (d12) and good Fort/Will.


EDIT: Here's an idea, though. You're supposed to be the very paragon of your race, so we need to boost the Paragon classes. Each has a full BAB and all good saves, plus the HD of your favored class or d8, whichever's better. At 1st level, you get that plus a minor improvement of a racial ability (Dwarves get an extra +2 with stability or something, halflings get an extra +1 with thrown weapons, whatever). At 2nd level, you get another ability or two, basically the same kind as are already there. At third level, you get +2 to your choice of one of two different stats, depending on race. How's that sound?

Draz74
2009-07-27, 01:20 AM
So I take it they aren't worth it in general, right? (The stat boost is the only thing I'd really want out of most of them, and even then the fact that they only apply to 1 stat which you can't pick means it's not perfect for every sort of character).

Yeah, most optimizers won't touch them, unless they're playing an exercise where they specifically take a Racial Paragon class and try to figure out how to make it actually work well.

There are a couple exceptions, like using Half-Orc Paragon to get Rage on a Lawful character for the purpose of qualifying for a PrC. But these are few and far between, and generally not game-breaking.

Cieyrin
2009-07-27, 01:21 AM
The Paragons are more fluffy then anything else. I think I'd rather be a Ruathar then an Elven Paragon, really.

Talic
2009-07-27, 01:22 AM
There are a couple exceptions, like using Half-Orc Paragon to get Rage on a Lawful character for the purpose of qualifying for a PrC. But these are few and far between, and generally not game-breaking.

Ah, raging monks. Fists of Fury, indeed.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-07-27, 01:24 AM
UA released February 2004. If you'd been playing back when this was written, think back to what books were available. Complete Warrior was the only one of that series out at the time, none of the Races of were released yet. The Draconomicon was out, but not Libris Mortis or Lords of Madness. It was before MM3, PH2, and even XPH. He was comparing the racial paragon classes to things like Hexblade, CW Samurai, Swashbuckler, Fighter, Monk, and Barbarian. Even the racial paragon classes that include a partial spellcasting progression are superior to most other spellcasting classes available at the time, not even PGtF was released yet so outside the (bad) 3.0 spellcasting PrCs you had what's in the DMG along with the 1/2 progression CW PrCs. At the time, yes, the racial paragon classes were fairly strong, especially considering the ability score boost each one gave. They're not that great any more, but taken in context this was an accurate review.

Mando Knight
2009-07-27, 01:33 AM
UA released February 2004. If you'd been playing back when this was written, think back to what books were available. Complete Warrior was the only one of that series out at the time, none of the Races of were released yet. The Draconomicon was out, but not Libris Mortis or Lords of Madness. It was before MM3, PH2, and even XPH. He was comparing the racial paragon classes to things like Hexblade, CW Samurai, Swashbuckler, Fighter, Monk, and Barbarian. Even the racial paragon classes that include a partial spellcasting progression are superior to most other spellcasting classes available at the time, not even PGtF was released yet so outside the (bad) 3.0 spellcasting PrCs you had what's in the DMG along with the 1/2 progression CW PrCs. At the time, yes, the racial paragon classes were fairly strong, especially considering the ability score boost each one gave. They're not that great any more, but taken in context this was an accurate review.

Yeah, taking that into account, I could see why: Orc Paragon grants 2 extra Strength and full BAB, not a bad deal for a Fighter.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-07-27, 01:39 AM
UA released February 2004. If you'd been playing back when this was written, think back to what books were available. Complete Warrior was the only one of that series out at the time, none of the Races of were released yet. The Draconomicon was out, but not Libris Mortis or Lords of Madness. It was before MM3, PH2, and even XPH. He was comparing the racial paragon classes to things like Hexblade, CW Samurai, Swashbuckler, Fighter, Monk, and Barbarian. Even the racial paragon classes that include a partial spellcasting progression are superior to most other spellcasting classes available at the time, not even PGtF was released yet so outside the (bad) 3.0 spellcasting PrCs you had what's in the DMG along with the 1/2 progression CW PrCs. At the time, yes, the racial paragon classes were fairly strong, especially considering the ability score boost each one gave. They're not that great any more, but taken in context this was an accurate review.Wizard 7 vs Wizard 4/Elf Paragon 3? Paragon gets +1 BAB(which doesn't matter), better Ref save but worse Will(an eh trade), 6 more HP(good, but not great), a couple minor bonuses(Wep Focus in something that doesn't matter, skill boosts), and +2 Int, in exchange for 1 lost caster level. I'd think very hard about making that trade. Doesn't seem OP at all, though, just balanced vs more levels of wizard.

paddyfool
2009-07-27, 02:42 AM
If you were to apply the Tier system to racial paragon classes (and since you can take them as your class from level 1, this isn't unreasonable), they'd mostly be Tier 4 or 5, I think (although the suckiest imho, Tiefling Paragon, might be Tier 6). Generally good at only one thing, and not the best at that.

Which is a pity, because they have awesome fluff, on the whole. Perhaps an exercise in rebalancing to pull them up to Tier 3 might not be a bad idea.


EDIT: Here's an idea, though. You're supposed to be the very paragon of your race, so we need to boost the Paragon classes. Each has a full BAB and all good saves, plus the HD of your favored class or d8, whichever's better. At 1st level, you get that plus a minor improvement of a racial ability (Dwarves get an extra +2 with stability or something, halflings get an extra +1 with thrown weapons, whatever). At 2nd level, you get another ability or two, basically the same kind as are already there. At third level, you get +2 to your choice of one of two different stats, depending on race. How's that sound?

Not all that unreasonable, although I might keep it down to 2 good saves, with saves depending on the race (humans alone getting a choice). Also, how about making the spellcaster class progression a lot less specific... say to any single Int or Chr-based casting class for Elves, etc. There are a lot more choices now, so boosting specific classes becomes a lot less useful.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-07-27, 02:43 AM
Wizard 7 vs Wizard 4/Elf Paragon 3? Paragon gets +1 BAB(which doesn't matter), better Ref save but worse Will(an eh trade), 6 more HP(good, but not great), a couple minor bonuses(Wep Focus in something that doesn't matter, skill boosts), and +2 Int, in exchange for 1 lost caster level. I'd think very hard about making that trade. Doesn't seem OP at all, though, just balanced vs more levels of wizard.

But compared to just about any other spellcasting PrC at the time, it's a really decent choice for the Int +2, and Human Paragon was just amazing for nearly any build. Plus if you're going to start a Gish build Fighter 2/ Wizard 4/ Spellsword, you may as well switch it to Fighter 1/ Wizard 2/ Elf/Human Paragon 3/ Spellsword, taking the Paragon class at 1st level for better skills. The racial paragon classes fit some useful abilities into only a few levels, plus there are no prerequisites to worry about, so they can easily fit into nearly any build.

Gorgondantess
2009-07-27, 02:50 AM
But compared to just about any other spellcasting PrC at the time, it's a really decent choice

....
You're kidding, right?
Let's just go by DMG PrCs.
We have the archmage, widely considered one of the best spellcaster PrCs, if a bit harsh on the entry requirements- still, well worth the feat.
Then there's the thaumaturge, which is a very decent choice for any conjurer.
And then the loremaster- admittedly maybe not worth the crap feat in skill focus knowledge, but an ok choice nevertheless.
In the end, though... in general, you need something really friggin good to justify a loss in spellcasting progression for a fullcaster. +2 int and some other rather passive abilities probably isn't going to cut it- there's probably a +4 int template out there that has equally good other abilities for LA +1.

Tempest Fennac
2009-07-27, 03:16 AM
Lesser Planar Ally isn't actually available for Wizards (if you meant "Conjurer" as in "Wizard Conjuration specialist). Ironically, I thought Loremaster was really good due to the extra skill points with the Secrets being nice bonuses (one of which makes up for the need for a Knowledge Skill Focus). If I'm honest, I'd agree that the Core casting PrCs are better then the Racial Paragon classes which boost casting.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-07-27, 03:17 AM
....
You're kidding, right?
Let's just go by DMG PrCs.
We have the archmage, widely considered one of the best spellcaster PrCs, if a bit harsh on the entry requirements- still, well worth the feat.
Then there's the thaumaturge, which is a very decent choice for any conjurer.
And then the loremaster- admittedly maybe not worth the crap feat in skill focus knowledge, but an ok choice nevertheless.
In the end, though... in general, you need something really friggin good to justify a loss in spellcasting progression for a fullcaster. +2 int and some other rather passive abilities probably isn't going to cut it- there's probably a +4 int template out there that has equally good other abilities for LA +1.

As I said before, it has no prerequisites, plus you only need one Wizard level with it. None of those can be taken prior to your 8th character level. At the time, a Wizard could not take Thaumaturgist because it requires the feat Arcane Disciple from Complete Divine, which was not even printed yet. This was before Focused Specialists, back when a Wizard was an Elf so he could actually have some weapon proficiencies because he would run out of spells, and Weapon Focus: Longbow was a useful feat considering his low BAB. A Wizard 1/ Elf Paragon 3 has almost twice as much HP as a Wizard 4, especially considering their racial Con penalty, and he's far less likely to get one-shot by a failed Reflex save.

FYI, there is no such template in the game even now. The best you can hope for is going Grey Elf with maybe a variant Half-Fiend (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060630a) (from two years after UA was printed) with one level in the template class (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sp/20031010a) that could hopefully grant +2 Int. Even then, you would need to find an evil outsider to base the Half-Fiend off of that gets an Int score at least twice as high as any of its other ability scores, otherwise your first two levels of half-fiend won't even grant a bonus to Int, and no such fiend exists in any official source. Your best choice currently for getting a high Int score by sacrificing only one level of spellcasting is to go Grey Elf with Elf Paragon, they've yet to print any of the theoretical templates to which you are referring.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-07-27, 03:28 AM
Reply eaten by the server update, so I'm sorry if this is curt.
As I said before, it has no prerequisites, plus you only need one Wizard level with it. None of those can be taken prior to your 8th character level. At the time, a Wizard could not take Thaumaturgist because it requires the feat Arcane Disciple from Complete Divine, which was not even printed yet. This was before Focused Specialists, back when a Wizard was an Elf so he could actually have some weapon proficiencies because he would run out of spells, and Weapon Focus: Longbow was a useful feat considering his low BAB. A Wizard 1/ Elf Paragon 3 has almost twice as much HP as a Wizard 4, especially considering their racial Con penalty, and he's far less likely to get one-shot by a failed Reflex save.But he's a caster level level behind, and in a level will be down by a feat as well. At higher levels, your benefits will be looking smaller, and your lost CL will be just as bad. I'm not saying it's a bad choice, I'm saying it's balanced with more levels in Wizard. Balanced with the default is by definition balnced.

Many of the other racial paragons are in the same boat. A Gnome Bard still is only a maybe on Gnome Paragon, a Halfling with any weapon other than a sling probably won't take the class, and Dwarf Paragon is weaker than Fighter. Yes, Human is broken, but Humans were always broken, Human Paragon just makes you a paragon of cheese, the embopdiment of every munchkin's fantasy. :smalltongue: Most of them seem balanced or weak, not OP like the reviewer suggests.

Uin
2009-07-27, 03:40 AM
EDIT: Here's an idea, though. You're supposed to be the very paragon of your race, so we need to boost the Paragon classes. Each has a full BAB and all good saves, plus the HD of your favored class or d8, whichever's better. At 1st level, you get that plus a minor improvement of a racial ability (Dwarves get an extra +2 with stability or something, halflings get an extra +1 with thrown weapons, whatever). At 2nd level, you get another ability or two, basically the same kind as are already there. At third level, you get +2 to your choice of one of two different stats, depending on race. How's that sound?

Interesting enough, I use the Dragonmark Heir and Heir of Syberis classes as racial paragon classes in my Eberron game. If I was to take them for my own PC, I'd take either 2 or 4 levels since they have all good saves and 3/4 BAB. Not worth it on a caster but reasonable for anything else.

Dhavaer
2009-07-27, 05:45 AM
Back on the Wizards boards, someone once expanded/improved the paragon classes. Can't remember who, but here's the dwarf one:

DWARF PARAGON (Dwarf)

Alignment: Any lawful.
HD: d10.

Fort Ref Will
Lvl BAB Save Save Save Special
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Craft expertise, improved stonecunning, poison save bonus
2nd +2 +3 +0 +3 Improved darkvision, save bonus
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Ability boost (Str +2)
4th +4 +4 +1 +4 Greater darkvision, racial enemy
5th +5 +4 +1 +4 Ability boost (Con +2)[size=3]
Class Skills
The dwarf paragonís class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.
Skill Points at Higher Levels: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the dwarf paragon.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Dwarf paragons are proficient with all simple and martial weapons; with light, medium, and heavy armour; and with shields, including tower shields.

Craft Expertise: A dwarf paragon adds her class level to her racial bonus on all Craft checks that are related to stone or metal items.

Improved Stonecunning (Ex): At 1st level, a dwarf paragonís bonus to Search checks to notice unusual stonework increases to +4. She can intuit where true north lies in relation to herself (as if she had 5 ranks in Survival) whenever underground. Finally, the range at which the dwarf receives a free Search check for coming near an example of unusual stonework increases to 20 feet.

Poison Save Bonus: At 1st level, a dwarf paragonís racial bonus on saves against poison increases by +1.

Improved Darkvision (Ex): At 2nd level, a dwarf paragonís darkvision range increases by 30 feet.

Save Bonus: At 2nd level, a dwarf paragonís racial bonus on saves against poison and against spells and spell-like effects increases by +1.

Ability Boost: At 3rd level, a dwarf paragon gains a +2 racial bonus to Strength. At 5th level, she increases her racial bonus to Constitution by +2.

Greater darkvision (Ex): At 4th level, a dwarf paragonís darkvision range again increases by 30 feet, and now functions even in magical darkness effects of 2nd level or lower.

Racial Enemy: At 4th level, a dwarf paragonís abilities to battle her racial enemies increases. She may select one of the following monster categories as a favoured racial enemy: giants, humanoids (goblinoids), or humanoids (orcs). This is identical to a rangerís favoured enemy (see the Playerís Handbook). If the dwarf paragon has occasion to improve her favoured enemy abilities, through feats or the ranger class, for example, she may apply these improvements to her favoured racial enemy instead.

Dwarven Prestige: A 5th-level dwarf paragon may qualify to enter the Dwarven Defender prestige class even if she doesn't meet all of the prerequisites. She can ignore the following prerequisites: Toughness, base attack bonus +7.

bosssmiley
2009-07-27, 07:11 AM
@Dhavaer: That looks like Jaerom_Darkwind's Dwarf paragon class. The complete set of Core races (plus fanboi faves like Drow, kobold and hob') are over at DiceFreaks, and are thematically far superior to the UA versions.

I might actually take some levels in a JD paragon class in preference to real class levels.

Dhavaer
2009-07-27, 07:12 AM
Ah ha. I thought it was someone with 'wind' in their name, but I was thinking of Tempus Stormwind.

DragoonWraith
2009-07-27, 08:06 AM
And then the loremaster- admittedly maybe not worth the crap feat in skill focus knowledge, but an ok choice nevertheless.
If you have a high enough INT (+7 modifier), you get that Feat back at Loremaster 1. If you don't, then you can get it back at Loremaster 3 (with +5 INT), 5 (+3), 7 (+1), or 9 (even at -1). So in the end, if just costs some divination spells (easy for Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, etc; really tough for Sorcerer and similar), and some stuff you should probably have anyway (three Metamagic, 10 in two Knowledge skills). Not as good as Archmage, but you can get in much earlier, freeing you to take until you qualify for Archmage. Would be my preference for a Core Wizard, I think. Wizard 7, Loremaster 7, Archmage 5, and probably the last level in Loremaster.

Of course, my Sorcerer is doing similar, except he actually is substituting Human Paragon 3 for some of the Sorcerer levels, because he needs the skills to qualify.


@Dhavaer: That looks like Jaerom_Darkwind's Dwarf paragon class. The complete set of Core races (plus fanboi faves like Drow, kobold and hob') are over at DiceFreaks, and are thematically far superior to the UA versions.

I might actually take some levels in a JD paragon class in preference to real class levels.
Do you have links to these?

Starscream
2009-07-27, 02:56 PM
I've actually given the Paragon classes for free to players.

I was kind of fed up with how little a difference the selection of a species makes in the long run. An Elven wizard and a Human wizards might be a little different at level 1, but by level 20 they are nearly identical.

I also wanted to get some more exotic type characters in the game. No one ever plays anything with a level adjustment because it is rarely worth it in the long run.

So I said that everyone gets three "free" levels that don't count against XP, and can either be used for your Paragon class (for normal races) or to offset an HD+level adjustment (for monster races).

It gave them a power boost, obviously, but it also made their species selection have a much bigger impact on how their character turned out. Elves felt more elvish, dwarves were more dwarven, etc. More monsters were used as well.

Only thing I didn't allow from the classes was the +1 caster levels. No 1st level wizards who cast as 3rd level ones just because they are elves.

RTGoodman
2009-07-27, 03:55 PM
Do you have links to these?

Can't find the originals, but Googling "DiceFreaks racial paragon classes" brought me the mirror/repost of the same things on the WotC site (http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-251402.html). It's archived, so it doesn't look pretty, but all the racial paragon classes are there, including those that aren't in UA (half-celestial, aasimar, etc.).

Draz74
2009-07-27, 04:00 PM
Only thing I didn't allow from the classes was the +1 caster levels. No 1st level wizards who cast as 3rd level ones just because they are elves.

You could still allow it, only with a caveat that spellcasting can't exceed your Character Level. So, Ranger 2/Wizard 1 characters who cast as Level 3 Wizards just because they are elves.

Thurbane
2009-07-27, 04:38 PM
IMHO: the full BAB classes are OK for melee types, and 2/3 caster progression classes aren't too bad for casters, particularly the human paragon.

Quirinus_Obsidian
2009-07-27, 05:50 PM
If you are going to burn 3 levels and not progress a lot of your class abilities, then go with a Major Bloodline. Devil Bloodline works AMAZINGLY well with a Hellfire Warlock :smallbiggrin: