[RPG] How do Racial Paragon Classes stack up against actual classes


Racial Paragon Classes are detailed in Unearthed Arcana. These extremely short classes offer a way to expand your racial abilities and make your character feel more "elf-like" or more "dwarf-like". I really like the idea behind the classes and I'm toying with the idea of using them in my next game.

My thought would be that the players would start the game as the racial paragon class and, when they leveled up, they would either choose to continue in the paragon class, or select a new class. (Sort of like starting as a common person, then leveling into a standard class.)

Ability-wise, how do racial paragon classes (RPC) stack up to the actual classes? I'd assume that a party of 1st level RPC characters is going to be weaker (due to lack of specialization) than a normal 1st level party, but I'm not sure how much. Is it possible to say something like "A 2nd level Racial Paragon Class character is roughly equivalent to a 'real' 1st level character?" Could they handle the same encounters a 'regular' party could?

(Let's just consider the RPCs for LA +0 races; I'm sure that the Drow and Half-Dragon RPCs would throw things off.)

Best Answer

Classes are typically about class features, and Racial Paragon classes don’t get those. They have some nice stuff, but not that much nice stuff. I’d make Paragon-ness just a matter of story; you do not need the paragon class.

Mostly, a Racial Paragon is getting middle-of-the-road everything, but that means they’re not really good at anything. A warrior wants full BAB (most paragons don’t get that), a spellcaster wants full spellcasting (and no paragon gets that), and neither’s usually interested in a little of the other guy’s stuff to warrant losing out on their own specialty.

True, quality middle-of-the-road classes, like Bard, Factotum, and Rogue, get special class features rather than just “a bit less all around.” This is the same reason why Paladins and Rangers suffer in comparison to these classes.

An exception should be made, though, for the Half-orc Paragon: it grants Rage, as the Barbarian feature, and does not require being non-lawful (even though they do “tend toward a chaotic outlook”). If you play with strict, mechanical alignment (which I personally recommend against), this allows a Lawful character to get Rage, which is otherwise very difficult. Unfortunately, you have to be a half-orc to get it, and those are... not good.

A better “elf paragon” class, by the way, can be found in Races of the Wild in the Ruathar. It’s a little harder to get into (mostly requires being level 6), but it gives better stuff (mostly, it gives full spellcasting).

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