SotDL-Style Paths/Classes

You gain a level in a class at each character level. Paths Not Taken follows a scheme based on one from Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadows of the Demon Lord. Over the course of your career you will choose four classes: a basic class that you gain seven levels in, an expert class that you gain six levels in, a master class that you gain four levels in, and a champion class that you gain three levels in. You gain access to each class in order, but the levels are intertwined as shown on the Class Advancement Table.

LevelBasic (B)Expert (X)Master (M)Champion (C)
Class Advancement Table

You don’t need to pick the classes at the start of your career. You may choose which class to add when the new class type becomes available. That is, you might choose ‘warrior’ as your basic class, then when you reach level 3 choose your expert class based on your current needs or interests.

Basic classes are generic but flexible. There are not many basic classes, probably one per major power type (martial, wonderworker, etc.) and you get to choose from options specific to each basic class. These are something like the basic classes from d20 Modern: Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, or Charismatic, and you picked a talent or feat at each level, from a selection specific to the basic class.

Expert classes are more specific, and will usually have some choices to make at the start that will determine exactly what abilities are gained at each level of that class. For instance, an expert class modeling the first edition cleric would get to choose two domains, and an expert class modeling the first edition oracle would choose a mystery and curse, and a wizard chooses an arcane tradition. There may be choices after that (the oracle expert class probably picks a revelation at each level) but the choices are constrained.

Master classes are specialized, and might not have any choices. Where a wizard (expert class) chooses an arcane tradition that determines how their magic works, it may be that ‘necromancer’ (master class) is the choice. Having said that, I’ve seen ‘necromancer rules’ that provide several ‘paths’ of necromancy to choose from… the lack of choices is not set in stone.

Champion classes are not just specialized, but are the pinnacle of their type. I don’t know yet exactly what this means. If I try to have a champion class for each combination of choices they could end up more or less unique, and I’m not sure I like that idea. Fantasy Flight Games’ Path of … series had legendary classes where you picked a feature at each class level, specific to the legendary class, and that might suit here. On the other hand, I’ve been thinking of having each basic, expert, and master class have a ‘capstone feature’ that is gained at levels 14, 17, and 20 respectively.

Regardless, there will be no prerequisites between the basic, expert, and master classes. Each class will be viable as a standalone choice. It is not necessary to be an adept before becoming a wizard, nor to be a warrior before becoming a knight. I’m sure there will be advantages to taking complementary classes, but unrelated classes will also bring some synergy (an adept who becomes a knight will still have access to their adept abilities, a warrior who becomes a wizard will retain their martial abilities, and so on). There may be constraints placed on choices, though: a priest who becomes a cleric must pick domains of the deity chosen as a priest.


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