I'm about to tackle a proposal for ways to make Champions and Champion/Sovereign progression a little more interesting. The goal of said proposal is to make Champions feel truly unique, as opposed to the hodgepodge thing that seems to be going on now.
Here's a brief rundown of what I'm thinking
First, you choose your path (Assassin, Defender, Governor, Mage, Warrior). This currently happens at Level 4, if the appropriate trait comes up, I'm thinking this decision should be made a little earlier (perhaps even at character creation/Level 1).
Then, there will be unique subtrees to each of these Paths. As an example:
Path Of The Warrior
--> Way Of The Swordsman
--> Way Of The Archer
--> Way of the Bluntsman (better name probably needed here)
--> Way Of The Polearm (Hoplite, Phalanx, Pikeman, etc.).
--> Way of the Rider
Path Of The Mage
--> Way Of The Elementalist (Fire/Water/Earth/Air).
--> Way Of The Healer (Life)
--> Way Of The Summoner
--> Way Of The Warlock/Sorceror/Some Other Cool Name (Death)
Path Of The Assassin (may need to rename this path)
--> Way Of The Ranger
--> Way Of The Assassin
--> Way Of The Monk
--> Way Of The Rogue
You get the idea. Each of these subpaths would have traits specifically tailored to the theme of the path. 'Generic' traits would still be available as well, to allow for further customization. But where duplication might otherwise occur, Themed traits would be more powerful/useful than their Generic counterparts.
Ways could be tied to specific buildings, should such a relationship be deemed beneficial to the play experience, although I'm more focused on the paths themselves at this point.
There are some other Ideas about trait selection I have. First off, due to the number of traits I have in mind, I'm proposing either a point cost for traits (as a balancing feature), or to allow the selection of Multiple Traits during Level up (example: 2 'Common' or one 'Rare'). Traits bonuses would be scaled appropriately to the number you are allowed to select each level.
Simple Stat bonus traits can either remain in the trees or be decoupled into a separate point system; this proposal will work either way.
Each subpath would be designed to provide a unique and useful purpose to the game at large, hence my desire to keep subpaths to a respectable level. As an example, Rangers, Assassins, Monks and Rogues should each have a specific and unique purpose that expresses itself in gameplay in some fashion.
Finally, as I arrive at various stat bonuses and such, I will be keeping game balance in mind, specifically as it relates to units versus Champions. Champions are by definition more powerful, but should not overshadow units completely.
While this could fall under the pervue of a 'Mod', as we are still in the early stages of the Beta, and as some of the concepts I have in mind require some adjustment of the base code (which is beyond my ability to implement), I felt I'd post it here, to incorporate feedback into the draft proposal.
I'll be working on this over the next day or two, and definitely want to hear any ideas, comments and such you may have as I draft this.