Hey, so I recently created a new character for my game table, and decided to try something different. Seeing as the group already had a switch-hitting ranger and she has damage pretty-well covered, I decided to see if I could make a defensive-based character work in a group. Paladins, with their high saves and the ability to heal themselves as a swift action seemed like the best route to go to accomplish this.
Now, I know that going a defensive-route for characters is sub-optimal in anything that's d20-based, and that just killing enemies, or using spells to render them useless is really the more effective way to go; but I've been gaming for a very long time and really would like to try something different and new, just to see if I can have fun with it. I was quite surprised when I found a combination that actually worked by working-around the innate disadvantage that defensive building comes with.
The idea is that if you're too tough of a target, and enemies can't take you down easily, they'll simply focus on your allies and leave you for last. So, if you could find a way that trying to get to or to take down your allies is more of a headache than simply dealing with you, that would do pretty well to eliminate this disadvantage right?
Enter the Bodyguard Feat. You can use an AoO to use an Aid Another Action on an ally that is the subject of an attack. But Aiding is only a +2 bonus, which is kind of inconsequential. Unless you're a halfling and you took the Helpful trait, which increases your Aid Another bonus from +2 to +4 - suddenly Bodyguard actually becomes a useful and viable option! We began play at level 3, so I was able to actually begin by using this combination (since Bodyguard requires Combat Reflexes). So far, it's proven quite effective in getting enemies to leave my allies alone. They're instead stuck dealing with me, which due to my small size, and that I'm carrying a shield, my AC high enough that most of them aren't able to hit me reliably.
However, from this point I'm not so sure where to go, and so I ask for your advice. There's a lot of options, but nothing is really standing out. Stand Still seems like a no-brainer for this setup, as does Lunge. Covering Defense seems like a nice Teamwork feat that will give my allies more AC against ranged attacks just for standing next to me, but other feats like Saving Shield, Missile Shield and Covering Defense, just don't seem all that worth it. The main goal isn't so much to make my character an invincible defensive powerhouse, but to make him a hard target while simultaneously making it so that trying to deal with his allies is so annoying or obnoxious or difficult, that you are left with few options aside from dealing with him first.
Are there any other feats (or paladin spells) that you know of that make it difficult to deal with your allies, without outright forcing them to attack you (a la Antagonize)? What other feats (or paladin spells or magic items) help improve your own defensive abilities? Would an Order of the Shield Cavalier have made a better choice for this setup? What do you think?
PS: I feel I should reiterate that I know that creating a melee character not specced for damage is sub-optimal. I know that playing defensively is not the most effective way to play. I've been gaming for a very long time, and am really just looking for something that's new and different, but that isn't a total waste of space at the table. I'm perfectly fine with the other players in my party getting the spotlight in that regard.