Delver Design: Ascendant Adventurers

Lately I’ve noticed another round of the classic “linear fighter, quadratic wizard” (LFQW) threads popping up again. Here are some musings on how you might get around this.

Adventurer Progression


Each adventurer gains a class which grants them access to a pool of common abilities. These abilities are roughly limited to effects an ordinary person might be capable of with training. Some of these abilities may let the character produce these effects through extraordinary means.


When an fully fledged adventurer forms a strong bond to some part of the world, they may become a champion. Each champion gains an allegiance which gives special perks such resources or limited access to extraordinary abilities. Some of the stronger perks may also come with certain duties and responsibilities.


When a champion has mastered their craft, they may find or discover a gift that lets them become a paragon. This gift grants access to extraordinary abilities. These abilities exceed what a normal person is capable of, but stay with in the limits of what’s conceivably possible for exceptionally talented individuals like geniuses and world class athletes.


Should a paragon manage to push themselves beyond mortal limits, they may become a legend. In the process of doing so, they become more than human. This places a mark on them which grants access to wondrous abilities while also making their superhuman nature evident. Wondrous abilities are not constrained by mortal limits, though their impact rarely extends beyond the local area.


Should a legend find a way to shed even more of their mortal limitations, they may become an ascendant. Each ascendant is defined by the path they follow. While paths may occasionally let an ascendant stretch the scope of their wondrous abilities, most of their emphasis is on changing the nature of the ascendant. As such, many of these features will be more about removing limitations than changing the world.


Should an ascendant remove their final limitations, they may become a power. In the process, each power largely leaves behind mortal concerns. Each power gains an ascension and a legacy. Their ascension determines what they become, while their legacy determines what they left behind. As with ascendant paths, ascensions improve the character’s very nature. However they also may grant occasional use of world altering cosmic abilities. While legacies are less likely to outright change the world, they can leave behind things or groups that are more than capable of doing so.

Magic Items

Ideally in this set up magic items should primarily grant extra abilities. If each class can use items which grant a given ability tier, that could help cut down the LFQW problem by quite a bit. If wizards can only do “common” spells on their own (barring promotions) and require a magic item (spell book) for extraordinary and wondrous spells that put them on par with a fighter who’s stuck with common maneuvers (again barring promotions) but can gain extraordinary and wondrous abilities through things like magic weapons and armor.

Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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