In class based role playing games one of the best rewards for players is their character advancing in levels. In previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons leveling up was fun, but it wasn’t until 4th Edition that leveling up took on a new importance. In 4th Edition tiers were introduced into the game, heroic, paragon, and epic. Epic had existed in 3rd Edition, but in a wholly different form. Level 1-10 are the heroic tiers, where the characters start off as just about normal folks who’ve trained or have innate abilities that allow them to eschew a normal life and take up adventuring. As they level up, characters gain new powers and feats, until they reach level 11. At level 11, they begin the paragon level and the players have to choose a path for their characters.
This tier signifies that the characters aren’t just run of the mill adventurers running around the wilds or delving into lost catacombs to come back with a sackful of loot and some stories for the tavern. Characters of the paragon level stand above that and are becoming pillars of the world. The things they do have global consequences and they even can start looking to the planes beyond their home plane.
The Imperium group just achieved this tier and have been leveling up their characters for the upcoming session. The characters themselves are on a mission from the Emperor to track down and capture or kill his son, the Grand Duke, who is basically making a play for the empire. The party was shunted magically to a hilltop teleportation circle in non-friendly territory. The players have been making interesting choices and I think they’re all very much taking into account their characters’ goals and experiences to pick their paragon paths.
With each increase of power for the party also means I get access to bigger and badder creatures as well. There’s still the issue of balancing encounters for the party, but for the most part I’ve been trying to gear encounters away from hit point attrition between the group and their opponents and something that combines some combat and some skill challenges.