Today I began a specific experiment that I’ve had in mind for a while now, but had yet to start. That experiment was to take a published Essentials class and make sense of its Paragon and Epic features and powers — shuffling them all in together.

Now I’ve looked over the Paragon and Epic tiers before, but I haven’t devoted a lot of time to figuring them out. In my experience, more players see only the lowest levels of play with anything resembling regularity — and few make use of content designed for the highest levels of play — that’s mostly for Theoretical Optimization.

My experiments with themes since the last time I tackled a Paragon Path or Epic Destiny have shown me a lot of what needs to be done with features and powers. There has to be an amount of “agreement” between them or they lack cohesion.

Now my experience with Epic Destinies leads me to believe they function primarily based on “Rule of Cool,” rather than any balancing factor. There still are balancing factors involved, they just aren’t nearly as important in the grand scheme of things.

Paragon Paths on the other hand…

I think the Paragon Paths appended to the Essentials classes are perhaps the most simple and straightforward to understand. They take the existing class and stretch its concept another ten levels or so. They aid the class in meeting some tertiary goal.

They don’t really change the class so much as help it cover more ground — in truth, they’re a lot like character themes. The best ones add exciting new options to existing features and powers. It’s like saying, “Did you like this? Well, here’s some more!”

Hypothetically speaking, any good class should be able to split off into a handful of character themes. Any good theme should likewise be capable of conversion into a class. The same should be true of paragon paths as well. They need solid themes.

Virtually all of the classes I have posted thus far have been Heroic-tier only, and for good reason. Those are the levels most likely to see use. Soon enough I will likely begin extending them into the Paragon tier and experiment with Paths some more.

It could be tomorrow or a month from now when I have something to show.