In the original, a character recieved the following; six ability scores, racial bonuses, defence bonuses, hit points, and the typical plethora of armour and weapon proficiencies, skill points, spell growth, attack growth and healing surge count.
Providence Classes were built on the concept of three abilities to define a class and its play style. Paladin had Divine Aura to detect alignments, Divine Challenge to control and tank targets, and Domain of the Order for their class- orientated growth. Here, the aura and the challenge can identify and isolate enemies, while your domain choice and the traits within that choice will alter the way that character is played. As an example, this Paladin is a smiting heathen guy, so he choses the War domain, from the War Domain, he chooses access to a permanent melee damage bonus, the ability to fly into a divine rage, and improved AC. On top of all that, he also gets a 1st level feat, gear selection and so on and so on. Let us call this knightly paragon Sir Roderick of Ormley Fields, hunter of the wicked and defender of the weak!
In the new version the three abilities per character is still in effect, and is the main method of creating your character.
To recreate this character in the new edition, we select the three abilities suited to the class we want to make. Firstly, Divine Soul is functionally identical to Divine Aura, so choosing it gives Sir Roderick his ability to hunt out alignments. Divine Challenge has been replaced by Challenge; both abilities are marking tools, the new ability lets Roderick make free move actions instead of auto-damage. This makes him sticky, tanky, and surprisingly mobile. Lastly, we choose Divine Magic to allow Roderick access to a handful of Divine Spells.
So far, Roderick handles almost the same between the editions, the only major change is the mechanics of his marking tool. However, here is where the divergences begin to appear.
Hit points are not determined by class, but by which abilities where chosen. To calculate Roderick's 1st level hit points, we add the bonuses provided by the abilities to his CON score.
Roderick is a healthy man, boasting a CON of 16. Roderick generates 6 Hit Points per level (2 from Divine Soul, 3 from Challenge and 1 from Divine Magic), and so his starting Hit Points become 22.
When Roderick levels up his Hit Points will rise by 6, and his CON modifier will be added to that. Since his CON score of 16 gives us an ability score modifier of +3, his Hit Points rise by 9 for a total of 31.
Defences and skills are similar in that each ability comes with stock bonuses. Both Divine Magic and Divine Soul grant Roderick a +2 bonus to Will and Challenge offers a +1 bonus to Fortitude. However, these bonuses will never rise or change. The only way for defences to rise is through ability score adjustment.
Each ability comes with a +2 bonus as standard. Challenge offers a Nobility bonus, Divine Magic grants Spellcraft, and Divine Soul allows the choice of any skill. On top of these bonuses, we may choose from another selection of skill bonuses limited by our ability choices. Not having abilities befitting of a skill monkey, we choose Religion and Endurance for Roderick to play to his religious and knightly strengths. Other abilities would have granted him a greater selection of skills. Sneak Attack grants a Stealth bonus and an additional three bonuses from its list. However, the obvious trade off is fewer hit points per level and a list of skills that may not fit into Roderick's play style. What use is a sneak attack if he needs to be in the open, challenging things to mortal combat?
With this in mind, these particular abilities could make a funny, dishonourable knight, the kind that jumps out from the bushes and stabs a man in the back, and only then shouts "I challenge you!" Combined with some of the stealthier and sneaker Divine Spells, you can really abuse the bonus movement from Challenge to stick to the poor, poor victim.
Replacing Feats and class based growth are Talents. Each Ability comes with its own list of Talents to choose from, which in turn is supplemented with a General Talents list that offers options anybody can take. A character chooses three talents at 1st level, and they gain another one at every level thereafter.
However certain options are no longer available - in this case the Divine Rage ability doesn't exist. If one were to make a holy warrior with a violent streak, Divine Magic could be replaced with Berserk Rage to capitalise on melee attacks and the inherent speed granted by Challenge, but Sir Roderick is not that man. Sir Roderick is a man of Divine purpose! Great, unmitigated justice! Say it again - JUSTICE~! Roderick's strengths are his speed and smiting power in a well armoured package, backed by his spells.
The first Talent Roderick chooses is Tactical Break; by ending the effect of his Challenge, Roderick can make a move action for free. This means he can move forward into challenge range, challenge his target, end the challenge and break forward, letting him get to melee range and going in for the kill. It can also be used defensively if he needs to get away. Say Roderick's Wizard friend is under threat. By shifting back and using Tactical Break, he can gain ground on the attackers and rescue his erstwhile companion.
Secondly, Roderick chooses Attacking Aura. This grants a +1 bonus to all attack and damage rolls for Roderick, and anyone in his Aura. By taking it again for his third talent, this +2 offence bubble provides Roderick and his allies a forward base, as it were, to benefit from his attack bonuses and capitalise on the protection he grants them.
So, between the editions, what's new?
Roderick is less aggressive and more supportive, although the aura and abilities could be built with killing in mind and provide even more damage instead. With the change to Challenge, Roderick can move significantly faster, and in theory, provide more coverage for the party. The number of spells he possesses have not changed, nor have the majority of their effects. However, character growth has slowed significantly.
Any defence, attack or skill increases are all talent based, it's up to the player to decide where their characters should grow. So between the two versions, the characters are pretty much equal at 1st level, minus one feat and a some increased skills. However, the difference between levels is more jarring. Character growth is a slow, natural evolution rather than a set of sudden power jumps.
In the endgame, 2nd ed characters will be weaker than their 1st edition counterparts, but their growth is more varied. Magic items and customisation selection are more important, and Sir Roderick as a character will, or at least should, grow into the man the player wants.
What do you think of fully customisable characters? We're still very much in a beta phase, but more abilities and talents are being continuously added! I see exciting times!