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Bodhizen's Guide to the Optimal Paladin & Antipaladin


Advice

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Bodhizen wrote:
If I'm not mistaken, your deity has to be within one step of your alignment. A chaotic good deity would not serve; you'd need either a lawful good, lawful neutral or neutral good deity.

Probably why he's planning on doing a Paladin-ish Inquisitor instead of Paladin, no?


The following is a sample page of my Paladin Guide as I'm reworking it. I'm about halfway through the formatting, but I thought I'd share for your enjoyment. Cheers!

Sample Page


In your Race Options section you point out the Dhampir's Negative Energy Affinity as a strike against for Paladins and a mark in favor for Anti-Paladins. However, I cannot find anything under the entry for Lay On Hands or Touch of Corruption that indicates that they are Positive or Negative Energy.

PRD wrote:

Lay On Hands (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, a paladin can heal wounds (her own or those of others) by touch. Each day she can use this ability a number of times equal to 1/2 her paladin level plus her Charisma modifier. With one use of this ability, a paladin can heal 1d6 hit points of damage for every two paladin levels she possesses. Using this ability is a standard action, unless the paladin targets herself, in which case it is a swift action. Despite the name of this ability, a paladin only needs one free hand to use this ability.

Alternatively, a paladin can use this healing power to deal damage to undead creatures, dealing 1d6 points of damage for every two levels the paladin possesses. Using lay on hands in this way requires a successful melee touch attack and doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity. Undead do not receive a saving throw against this damage.

PRD wrote:

Touch of Corruption (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, an antipaladin surrounds his hand with a fiendish flame, causing terrible wounds to open on those he touches. Each day he can use this ability a number of times equal to 1/2 his antipaladin level + his Charisma modifier. As a touch attack, an antipaladin can cause 1d6 points of damage for every two antipaladin levels he possesses. Using this ability is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Alternatively, an antipaladin can use this power to heal undead creatures, restoring 1d6 hit points for every two levels the antipaladin possesses. This ability is modified by any feat, spell, or effect that specifically works with the lay on hands paladin class feature. For example, the Extra Lay On Hands feat grants an antipaladin 2 additional uses of the touch of corruption class feature.

*Bolded for emphasis

I know this may seem counter-intuitive. But, a Dhampir is not actually Undead. And these abilities, while they can be sacrificed, in a sense, to power Channels Positive and Negative, are not Positive and Negative in and of themselves. At least by my reading.


Young Tully, thank you for your contribution to the discussion. :)

This is a topic that has been long-debated on the Paizo forum. Rules-as-written does not define the Lay on Hands ability as either positive or negative energy; this is true. However, it is quite clear that by rules-as-intended, the use of the Lay on Hands ability channels positive energies to heal, while the Touch of Corruption ability channels negative to harm. I made a deliberate judgment call when pointing out what I did regarding Dhampirs and the use of the Lay on Hands ability. As with anything in any guide, or in any rulebook, your gaming experience may vary at your gaming table.


This is a really nice guide, thanks for making it.

The new format is superb, like it supposed to be in a book. Looking forward to seeing it when it is done.

Great job!


Thank you for your words of encouragement, revloc02.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You think you can add stat distribution without anything under 10? Sometime its not fun to roleplay characters with handy caps and sometimes dm may ban 7s (and rarely 8) for being munchkin.


Suzaku,

You're more than welcome to redistribute the stats to a more "balanced" approach, and it's likely something that I might even do as a player. However, that's not optimal for the character, even if it makes more sense for the character's personality.

However, what your GM decides to ban or not ban cannot be accounted for in a guide, and this is exactly what I've worked up; a guide.

Thank you for expressing your concern, though.


Please be aware that the guide has now moved to here and has been converted into .pdf format. Thank you.


Thank you for the updates to the guide. That said:

Shining Knight would appear to be an obvious choice for a lancer. (binary logic warning:) Either this is a good choice for lancers, or this is a trap that new players would not notice. Either way, it should be mentioned in your guide.

Dhampir now have a magical item that allows them to use positive energy like temporary hit points. Lay on hands is positive energy. http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1fm#v5748eaic9p08 Is this enough to change the classification for archer pallys?

****Surprise Follow-Through doesn't require you to be half-orc/orc**** despite being in that section.

You seemed to dislike Eldritch Heritage. Obviously temporary claws aren't going to be the best bet for someone with a big sword, but if you already picked half-elf, or one of the human racial traits that gives you skill focus, are all of the bloodlines still a bad choices? The Samurai guide seemed to like a few, and getting a full BAB assistant (Arcane Bloodline) for one feat (if you already have skill focus) doesn't sound that bad...

I look forward to expansion regarding Aasimar. Am a crazy for wanting the wing attacks for my Angelkin?


Akin DT,

Thank you for your input! I will definitely look over Shining Knight again. Do you have any specific recommendations or input regarding the Shining Knight that you can share?

Regarding Dhampir, that will definitely change their rating, since it's something they can eventually acquire. I will make sure it goes in the next update (which is largely going to fix some unnoticed formatting errors). I also thank you for pointing out the error on Surprise Follow-Through.

Regarding Eldritch Heritage... The feat gives you only the first-level power. You require the Improved Eldritch Heritage or Greater Eldritch Heritage feats to gain higher-level powers. Most of the 1st level powers aren't really useful for the Paladin or the Antipaladin, and higher level powers... I am not confident that they're worth two or three feats for a paladin at the levels that you acquire them.

It's not a matter of like or dislike, but a matter of how they integrate with other abilities you're already probably working toward at the levels that you acquire your feats.

Regarding the wings... I don't think you're crazy for wanting wing attacks for your angelkin. Flight plus attacks are nice, but two feats to get them both? Hrmmm... They're not going to be as great as any of your potential weapon choices are, and I'm not quite sure whether it's worth the penalties. I'd have to think about it. It's not something I'd tell you "Don't ever do this!", but I am not confident that it's optimal.

Thanks for the input and I'm hopeful to hear your reply. Happy gaming!


Maybe I didn't look hard enough but I don't see the feat fey foundling mentioned anywhere. It's probably one of the best feats for paladins.


Bodhizen wrote:

Akin DT,

Thank you for your input! I will definitely look over Shining Knight again. Do you have any specific recommendations or input regarding the Shining Knight that you can share?

[...]

Regarding the wings... I don't think you're crazy for wanting wing attacks for your angelkin. Flight plus attacks are nice, but two feats to get them both? Hrmmm... They're not going to be as great as any of your potential weapon choices are, and I'm not quite sure whether it's worth the penalties. I'd have to think about it. It's not something I'd tell you "Don't ever do this!", but I am not confident that it's optimal.

Thanks for the input and I'm hopeful to hear your reply. Happy gaming!

Oh boy, this is the fifth time I've typed this post. If I lose it one more time I SWEAR, I'll turn into the incredible hulk.

Warning: I haven't played Pathfinder yet, but I've been running other, more 10 sided, games for years, and I've spent the last 3-4 months reading up on the character that I will be able to play whenever my GM decides to actually start it.

---

So the shining knight trades in disease resistance for mounts that are less likely to be effected by annoying effects, such as petrification and instagib vs reflex attacks. Sounds like a good trade, considering how much people warn about dieing mounts on message boards etc.

The level 11 ability is a good trade if you don't use use the Aura of Justice much (because it eats up 2 smites perhaps?) It's also good if you don't have ride-by-attack (no AoO on you & mount when charging). The chance to PANIC the smitten enemy for 5+ rounds every time you successfully charge them sounds nice.

So if you like mounts that die less, and want the chance to panic the enemy, it is a good deal.

(not so much if you like being immune to mummy rot and letting your allies shout "JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE")

:3

--
Oh, yes, Mounts. Unless it's hidden in some guide on some board I haven't found, I can't find any good guides (or any guides at all really) on mounts. And even advice on which to pick is scarce. So you should probably mention them.
The best I can pick up, cheetah and raptor are the go-to mounts for small lancers. The stats look right for both of them, but you would want the raptor by level 11 because the high charisma would be advantageous to the once/day smite evil ability your mount would get then. Also pounce.

Didn't look much at the Large mounts, but Lion/Tiger (liger?) looks like it could pretty much be someone's favorite mount, and T-rex should in theory do x2 Power attack damage.

No matter the creature, however, lunge looks like a requirement so the mount can hit at the same space as you hit.

---
As for the wing attack it's four feats:
*Angelic Blood, a circumstantial benefit feat that serves as a prerequisite for all others below,
*Angelic Flesh, gives you one of four benefits. The Silver and Steel are the only options a paladin should consider. Both of them make all of your natural attacks and unarmed strikes silver and cold iron, respectively. Silver gives you bonuses to things you aren't immune to, and Steel gives you +1 natural armor. Who hates natural armor, I mean really? So pick Steel if you have to pick up this feat, unless you constantly live in fear of being petrified or something.
*Angel Wings (level 10, in theory), give you a slow fly speed, but it means you get fly as a class skill. and you can deal with an anti magic field while high in the air.
*Metallic Wings (requires all of the above, level 11 in theory) lets your wings do 1d4 slashing each. Think about it.

I (a castigator) was going to get the wings anyways, even if it wasn't advantageous, but when I looked at Metallic Wings' 1d4 damage I laughed and said it was a waste of two feats... until I remembered that smite evil doesn't care if you're hitting with a weapon that does 1 damage, because you still add str, power attack damage, and smite damage.

But I worried about the negatives to the main 2h attack (I picked a nodachi). Then I read the Bestiary rules for natural attacks during a normal attack.

Unlike secondary manufactured weapons, secondary natural weapons don't hurt the main attack's chances of hitting. So instead of hitting with a nodachi at +13, then +8, then +3, I'd be hitting at +13 with the nodachi, then +8 and +8 for the wing attacks, then +8 and +3 for the Nodachi again. Other than the opportunity cost of whatever else you could do with those two feats, there's no penalties. I ran some calculations vs the AC of a demon with a CR a few levels higher, and it's quite favorable *free damage*. Like 25 average /wing, assuming I'm making the right assumptions as to what gear would be available at that point, and ample time to prepare exists.

Yeah, it doesn't add much when you power attack without smite evil against said demon (because you will mostly miss, thanks to lack of power attack), but if you have an amulet of annoying expenditure... er mighty fists, you could do some interesting things each time you hit (you would also want permanency on your greater magic fanged wings). In crazy la-la land where you can afford such things at level 13, you could even have your amulet have the vorpal property on it. A random chance to lop off somepony's head sounds nice.

Oh, right, and there's a spell called Strong Jaw you'll want a wand of if you know you'll be in a fight with a evil boss. And if you take Sion of Humanity you can have yourself Enlarge Personed (or have a GM that lets Enlarge Monster exist as a level 3 spell). Or there's that armor property that can make you larger. There's another spell I can't remember that helps with natural attacks as well. Regardless, we're actually talking about nice base damage now, ESPECIALLY during a smite.

.... I wish I could find a way to get another natural attack though, preferably a unicorn horn gore. Then I could get multi-attack at level 15, making the wings 20 perce-- er I mean 15% cooler (more likely to hit). Oh, right, and more free smite evil damage.

(Yeah, I could get that one trait that gives you a 1d4 bite attack, but you'd need to get it via Adopted because it's a half-orc trait, and your GM is likely to kill you IRL for that.)

---

Black_Lantern wrote:
Maybe I didn't look hard enough but I don't see the feat fey foundling mentioned anywhere. It's probably one of the best feats for paladins.

Oh, wow. I haven't heard of that.

====
P.S. Yes, I did put a lot of references in this post.


Akin DT wrote:
So the shining knight trades in disease resistance for mounts that are less likely to be effected by annoying effects, such as petrification and instagib vs reflex attacks...

First, thank you again for your input. I apologize for clipping your post-quotes; I intend no offense in so doing.

I've gone over your post and I'm not quite sold on the Shining Knight. The Skilled Rider option does not seem the equal of the Divine Health ability. It's good for more than just mummy rot. In most cases, I'd recommend the Divine Weapon bond, but yes, for Lancers, I do recommend the Paladin Mount. The Knight's Charge ability is quite nice, but the Aura of Justice ability is quite powerful (two smites to grant your Smite Evil ability to all allies within 10 feet, which is potentially your entire party). Also, given that you can replicate a key feature of the Knight's Charge with the Ride-by Attack (which does require Mounted Combat, so it's a two-feat investment, but you're probably taking Mounted Combat and Ride-by Attack to get to Spirited Charge), I'm less confident that it's worth going for the Shining Knight. It's not a bad archetype, it's just not fantastic, either.

Akin DT wrote:
Oh, yes, Mounts...

This isn't a guide on mounts; perhaps you should create one. It would be of great use to the community. :) As it is, my guide is 38 pages (and does need some updating), but I am not looking to add in a section on mounts at this time.

Akin DT wrote:
As for the wing attack it's four feats...

You're quite right, it's four feats (not two as I had previously mentioned). At 20th level, that's 40% of your total feats to get flight and secondary attacks that do 1d4 slashing damage, plus some circumstantial bonuses and perhaps some resistances. At 11th level, you've invested 67% of your feats in them. Even with your Smites and other bonuses added in, there's a lot lost in your feat choices that could help you to do so much more. Granted, the wing attacks would only be at +8, but with your feat choices, you could easily boost your chances to hit much higher on your nodachi, giving you a greater chance at hitting your foe and doing your damage in the first place.

Again, not a horrible investment, but certainly not optimal.

Black_Lantern wrote:
Maybe I didn't look hard enough but I don't see the feat fey foundling mentioned anywhere. It's probably one of the best feats for paladins.

Fey Foundling was not mentioned. When I initially looked at it, I was not impressed, given the weakness; but upon further examination, this feat should be included in the guide. I'm still wary of the requirement that it must be the very first feat you pick, so I wouldn't rate it blue for that reason, but it is of great personal use. I will be including it in the next update.


The healing potential of fey foundling is amazing. You can even do clever things like shield other with a barbarian or w/e as an archer paladin and then heal yourself.


I fell in love with the cover of blood of angels the first time i saw it, and i decided to play an assimar paladin exatly as the one rapresented on the cover, a celestial crusader! and i found your guide a really in deep, interesting and useful one (thank you!), particularly regard the roles to play, because i initially found the code of conduct too restrective for me..

do you think that a celestial crusader, should be a complete vindicator or he can also be a little more soft when he's not dealing with evil outsiders?

are you going to implement the guide with blood of angels? because i think that an angelkin aasimar is perfect as race for a melee paladin!


Halavar, thank you for your input and compliments. I am very glad that you have enjoyed my work.

Right now, I cannot include materials from Blood of Angels in the guide for two very important reasons. My desktop PC is out of commission (which is where I currently have the InDesign file for my Paladin Guide), and I lack Blood of Angels, so I have not been able to review it yet.

However, I am working to restore my desktop PC to working order. If you have any particular advise for me from out of Blood of Angels, I would gladly welcome it for inclusion into the guide. It might force me to reformat some, but that's the risk I took in putting the guide together. :) I still have to get Fey Foundling in the next update.

Thanks for your interest! Happy gaming!


just a quick glance.
Angelkin is decend from angels of course. they get +2 str +2 cha, heal and knowledge(plane) as Just a quick glance.
Angel kin descends from angels of course. They get +2 str +2 cha, +2 heal and knowledge (plane) and a spell-like ability of alter self. Not to say dark vision and 5 points of acid, cold and electricity resistance. If you don't like the spell like ability you can roll on a table to trade it into some random goodies. Some of the good ones like +2 additional racial bonuses on one ability score...but it's a d100 table so that really depending on your luck.

Truth be told, the two hander + iron wing build looks nice. Fly with your own wings costs one feat, so 3 feats for 2 additional natural attacks at -5 ab, plus some other trivial benefits.

Compare to TWF with spiked shield. You need a dex 17 and 2 feats to gain 2 off hand attack, at -2 and -7, while 2-handed with wings build gain 2 attacks both at -5 ab. Unless TWF guy take greater TWF (not a good bargain in my book), this build gives two handed guy same number of attacks as the other side.

Since the main hand suffer no ab penalty and wielding a 2 handed weapon with 1.5 str, on the situation of attack after movement, AoO this build get an advantage. When you activate your boots of haste, you get an additional swing of main weapon at 1.5 str instead of the 1 hand weapon in TWF style.

Basically it retains all the benefit of 2 hand castigator build plus the benefit of TWF style, a non-magical dependent at will fly and some save bonus using 4 feats. It’s quite heavily invested but castigator is the least feat hungry build so still possible to spare it. You can still get power attack and other goodies in between. This chain of feats only requires the character to be aasmir and con 13.

Oh, the additional benefit of this build is —— you paladin looks really like an angel.


solarius, thank you for your input. After careful consideration, the two additional natural attacks at -5AB at the cost of four of your ten feats is very pricey. It's not an awful trade-off, but it makes a lot more sense for a fighter, who has feats to spare. If you begin this feat path at 1st level, you won't complete it until 11th level, which is where you can acquire your wing attacks.

By then, you're using up 66% of your feat picks to get them (plus the natural fly speed and the improved saves), and 40% of your feat picks by 19th level in total for two additional natural attacks (plus the rest). That's a lot of feat choices, and even though the Castigator may not be feat-intensive, 40% of your total feats in exchange for this package does not seem optimal at all. Interesting, flavorful and probably cool, for sure, but not optimal considering all that you could be doing.


Bodhizen wrote:
My apologies. In my previous post, I misspoke; it's not that you'd use up every feat you've got through 7th level getting your wings (you'd have to use 4 of your 6 feat picks to get them by 11th level, which is where you can acquire your wing attacks). It's that you're using up 66% of your feat picks to do so, and 40% of your feat picks by 19th level in total for two additional natural attacks. That's a lot of feat choices, and even though the Castigator may not be feat-intensive, 40% of your total feats in exchange for the two natural attacks does not seem optimal at all. Interesting, flavorful and probably cool, for sure, but not optimal considering all that you could be doing.

Don't forget you're also getting non-magical flight with those wings, fly as a class skill, and the bonuses of Angelic Blood and Angelic Flesh. It's not as if the two natural attacks are the only thing you're getting.


Yes, I had revised my post to reflect that.

So, for four feats, you get a lot of really minor things. Yes, it does add up, but it's giving you lateral abilities rather than concentrated ones. So... The laundry list:

  • A fly speed of 30 with average maneuverability; fly as a class skill. (decent)
  • Two natural 1d4 attacks. (strong)
  • A -2 penalty on Disguise and Stealth for either fire resistance 5 and a +2 bonus on fire saves (Brazen; decent), +2 bonus on saves vs. blindness, dazzling, patterns and effects with the light descriptor and illusion spells or spells with the light descriptor manifest at +1 caster level (golden; sub-optimal, considering your saves will be high anyway and there's not a lot of paladin spells that the bonus to your caster level will help you with, and your mercies can often deal with the rest), +2 bonus on saves versus paralysis, petrification or poison and your natural weapons will count as silver for overcoming damage reduction (silver; mediocre, given that this will probably only affect your wing attacks, which will be relatively weak, and your mercies can often deal with the rest) or a +1 bonus to your natural AC and your natural attacks will count as iron for overcoming damage reduction. (steel; mediocre)
  • A +2 bonus on saving throws against spells with the evil descriptor and Constitution checks to stabilize. (sub-optimal; again, you already have high saves, and you can lay on hands to bring yourself back up from dying or to prevent you from getting there in the first place)
  • Evil subtype creatures adjacent to you take 1 point of damage every time you take bleed or blood drain damage. (situational, and weak)

I'm not saying that the laundry list isn't nice. I am saying that for the purposes of optimization, it is not worth 40-66% of your overall feat choices, even if you look like a real angel. Plus, there's not a ton of synergy there, just a lot of minor abilities added in.


Well, that's true. Given a second thought, it may not be categorized into optimal builds.

I believe angel kin is a good race for a paladin, that’s for sure.

Regarding the feats, I think critical focus doesn't deserve a blue, at least not as good as improved critical. Improved critical doubles the critical range, so unless +4 to confirm crit can double the chance of landing the critical (that means the opponent's ac should be your attack bonus +16 or more, that's really high) , improved critical is better. Since improved critical can work with bless weapon spell that automatic confirm critical against evil foes (not workable on keen weapon, but fine with normal weapon with feat), I don't think critical focus is such a good feat on its own.

On the other hand, "Critical, Staggering" is a truly awesome feat. It requires bab 13 and critical focus, and upon landing a critical hit the target is staggered no matter it makes a save or not. Staggered means only one action per turn so no full round possible. If paladin wielding a 30% critical chance weapon with enough attacks per round, the opponent is likely to be locked in a "one action per turn" loop till its death. Not to mention the critical, stunning feat follow the line, failing the save stun for 1d4 turns and making the save staggered 1d4 turns, which surely deserver a blue rating.

Among all the paladin archetypes, sacred servant is probably the most powerful. losing some number of smite evil in exchange for cleric domain spell is nothing big, sacred servant can cost planer alley from lvl 8 onward, without casting fee and payment for service. At lvl 16 a sacred servant can summon a plantar and ask him to accompany the adventure group for a week, then summon it again. Thus a sacred servant gains an alley forever that's even more powerful than himself (lvl 16 cleric spell, all the awesome power of an angel) for free. A wizard requesting the same service for 1 week requires 2500gp + 17Hd x 1000gp per day x 7days=121,500 gp. I think this archetype deserves a special note.


If you want to build a paladin whose sole aim is to dish out damage, exotic weapon prof is a good choise. In APG there's this exotic weapon called falcata, a one hand slashing weapon doing 1d8 damage and has a 19-20/x3 critical range. The critical range property makes it the most damaging weapon in the system and certainly worth a feat. (if it has a 2-handed version then even better, but well...)


Great guide!
is there a way you could set the guid up to be downloaded? It would really help me as I'm not always in an area that has internet conection (the joys of Alaska).

Thanks


The following is in no way meant to detract from the other amazing guides (especially Mr. Treantmonk's guides to Ranger, Wizard, and Bard) but, this is the first guide I would pay actual money for. It would be worth purchasing as a companion book for paladin.

Thank you for the great work. Although I do not play paladin, I GM quite a few of them, and having this as a handy reference is amazing.

Grand Lodge

Seems I cant download/convert/Save as a PDF

Grand Lodge

bump

Cheliax

If you want it in PDF you could just use a "PDF printer" there is a list of some free options here.


The guide file seems to be blank now when I open it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jus me wrote:

The following is in no way meant to detract from the other amazing guides (especially Mr. Treantmonk's guides to Ranger, Wizard, and Bard) but, this is the first guide I would pay actual money for. It would be worth purchasing as a companion book for paladin.

Thank you for the great work. Although I do not play paladin, I GM quite a few of them, and having this as a handy reference is amazing.

Thank you very much for your words of praise, but it would be unethical for me to charge for this PDF, as it is not completely my own work. I suppose, if anyone was interested, I could try a kickstarter for getting a genuinely book-like version of this guide if people were interested.

Grand Lodge

So its downloadable now off the site its on now?

Edit: Nope... 'open as' seems to be disabled and there is no save option


Any particular reason why this guide is blank?


Follow the link on the page that's linked to find the guide. It's easier to change the google document than to ask everyone to update their links every time I upload a brand new version of the .pdf.

Unfortunately, since my desktop computer's hard drive died, I no longer have the .indd file accessible to update the guide. It's going to take me some time to recreate it.

So, in essence, the guide isn't blank... You just haven't followed the link yet. :)


I followed the link, I just had to log in to read it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I have a very odd Paladin that you may find an interesting build. Note - when I made her, the deities of Golarion that specifically have Paladins had not been defined, so I went with "Any deity who is neither Evil nor Chaotic might have Paladins."

Paladin 1: Power Attack, Combat Reflexes
Paladin 3: Dodge; remove Sickened condition with mercy.
Paladin 5: Mobility
Shadowdancer 1: Hide in Plain Sight
Shadowdancer 2: Great Mercy (to cover for missing out on LoH improvements) Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Darkvision 60'
Shadowdancer 3: Shadow Illusion (Effectively a Still, Silent silent image spell that's cast as a standard action, CHA based DC), Rogue Talent (Repositioning Attack is what I ended up taking), Shadow Companion - incorporeal flanking buddy who does STR drain damage.
Shadowdancer 4: Improved Critical. Shadow Jump 40', Shadow Conjuration, 2nd use of Shadow Illusion.
Paladin 6:

Some notes:

Bless Weapon only auto-confirms critical hits against Evil creatures, and only if the weapon does not have a magically enhanced threat range. Improved Critical does not magically enhance Bless Weapon, and by the time a Paladin gets it, they're going to be going up against a fair number of Evil Outsiders. Because of Bless Weapon, 20/4x weapons are better for Paladins than most other classes, and Improved Critical is a must-have feat, rather than purchasing Keen. Rolling a 19 or 20 with a pickaxe and Bless Weapon while Smiting will usually end a fight.

Dodge: It's not an exciting feat, and it requires a Dex of 13, but it improves your AC under most circumstances...and for a two-weapon or greatsword paladin, every iota of AC is handy.

Mobility: Words cannot describe how awe inspiring this feat is to a character who routinely wears medium or heavy armor and wants to move to set up flanking for other party members, move next to a downed ally to heal them, or, in the case of the Paladin I play, step into shadows to use Stealth in the middle of a fight. I had originally considered Dodge and Mobility to be feat taxes to get into Shadowdancer; I'm now convinced that any character who has to move to get into position for a support role should consider Mobility. +4 AC versus AoOs is huge, especially if you're planning on being a Big Old Target running up to the big bad evil guy.

Because of the vagaries of how lay on hands and channel energy work, you will do 1d6 more healing per use of channel at odd levels than you'll generate with a lay on hands. Great Mercy remedies this...but it can be very important if you need that extra 3.5 points of healing to an ally out of reach.

Magic Items:

Every Paladin should stock up on Pearls of Power to stretch out their spell uses. Some spells (Bless Weapon and Bless being the major ones) are better off used as wands, since their only benefit from higher caster level is duration.

Every NON-spellcasting character should invest in the Hideous Purple Cracked Ioun Stone. 2000 GP for the ability to store a 1st level spell, caster-level 1 spell you can cast on yourself in the initial round of combat. For a two-weapon or two-handed weapon fighter, the obvious choice is "Shield." The other one is Expeditious Assault. If you have a way to get Lead Blades cast into it, there is no more effective spell for a Flurry Paladin.

By the time you outgrow this, the Lesser Ring of Spell Storing will probably be suitable to replace it. Have a party member cast spells into these items that you'd want cast on you at the start of a fight. Lesser Ring of Spell Storing is wonderful for Haste and Heroism.

When doing the Boring Six Items (Armor/Shield, Weapon, Cloak of Resistance, Amulet of Natural Armor, Ring of Protection, Belt/Circlet of Stat Boostage), the priority should be this:

Weapon
Armor
Circlet of CHA
Belt of either STR/DEX
Amulet
Cloak of Resistance
Ring of Protection

Ring of Protection is last because its bonus doesn't stack with your Smite Evil.

Because of Divine Grace, you can go without a Cloak of Resistance; there are a number of interesting cloak items that are atypical and very useful for Paladins, like the Lesser Cloak of Displacement, which gives a 20% miss chance, and if you're a Paladin with Stealth, is effectively the item of "Hide In Broad Daylight." It's expensive - 24K GP.

A Circlet of Persuasion is a way to top off a lot of skills. Between this, a few ranks in Use Magic Device and your existing CHA bonus, a lot of useful items suddenly become accessible. Sadly, you don't have the skill ranks to go DEEP into UMD.


very nice guide, but I feel like you understate the value of pre20 play.


Still cant get over how cool it is to see a shadowdancer paladin (sounds like a great fetchling option).

threw an Antipaladin together using what I could remember from the guide. three level dip in phalanx soldier fighter, and he wields a fauchard/buckler combo, which he can forgo the latter's bonus to two-hand the former for more damage.
not sure how to improve it, but then i'm kinda slow on obvious things.


johnlocke90 wrote:
very nice guide, but I feel like you understate the value of pre20 play.

Thank you kindly for your words of praise. Could you please expand on the idea that I understate the value of pre20 play?


Hey Bodhi - very nice guide. Your formatting is peerless. I'd like to offer some feedback on the Castigator paladin. I've played it a lot, so I feel like I know mostly what I'm talking about.

Your section about having to do a lot of damage, because otherwise things won't attack you, and you won't get to use your _spectacular_ self-healing ability, is entirely accurate. To that end, I'd like to quibble with your feat choices. I think we can both agree that paladins are rather feat-constrained. There are a lot of feats out there that we'd like to have.

If a well built melee character is full attacking every round, he's going to be doing fantastic. So any melee character's primary issue is: How do we get full attacks, and what do we do when we can't full attack?

You hit the high notes in your guide: Power attack is obvious, and Lunge is also incredibly important. Those are, to my mind, the only two blue options for a paladin - you'd be an idiot to miss out on either one of them. Battlefield positioning being what it is, Lunge will give you a full attack you would have missed otherwise about once every combat or two, which is more DPR than any feat other than power attack can provide.

But let's talk about what you do when you don't get a full attack. An option you have rated green (Vital Strike) and an option you have rated blue (Strike Back) are pretty awful options. Vital strike is awful - with a falchion, it gives you an average of like ... 5 more damage a hit when you have to attack only once. That is abhorrent! Likewise, Strike Back is super circumstantial.

Let me contend: Cleave and Great Cleave should be blue, and Cleaving Finish/Improved Cleaving Finish should be green.

Think of a human paladin as follows:
1.) Power Attack, Cleave
3.) Weapon Focus
5.) Cleaving Finish
7.) Lunge
9.) Great Cleave
11.) Improved Cleaving Finish
13.) Improved Critical

Our full attack is going to be _fine_. Particularly if we taken weapons bond (which I will recommend later). Most importantly, when we are forced to take a standard action:

Walk up to the biggest group of enemies possible. Lunge so you have reach. Great Cleave. If you crit anybody, you have a reasonable shot of killing them. If you kill somebody, you get to try to hit somebody a second time. If at any time you find yourself fighting 1 big guy and a bunch of s~@$ty minions, you can great cleave all the minions, and use all the extra attacks from cleaving finish to hit the big guy. You become an outrageously effective 1-man fireball.

A few other things should be noted:
Improved critical is, numerically, dramatically better than critical focus, which is a mediocre feat, damage-wise. It's mostly a feat tax for the later critical feats.
Weapon Bond is really good. And paladins don't have any particularly good ways to make a fighting animal companion. For a melee paladin, I would take Weapon Bond - having a weapon thats +3 better than it should be is spectacular.

-Cross


I've enjoyed this guide greatly, fantastic formatting up there with commercial products for sure.

I'd like to suggest Fey Foundling as a green/blue feat for a Castigator Paladin. It turns 3.5 average healing per die in to 5.5 which is a significant boost.

Mechanically Intimidating Prowess, Cornugon Smash, and Dreadful Carnage seem strong options for the Castigator Paladin as well as the Anti-Paladin (where you mentioned them), especially if there's a rogue with Shatter Defenses in the party. An oath of Vengeance Paladin who's a bit of a bully would be down right scary and meshes with my vision of a holy zealot so I think this fits thematically as well.


i have one critique, you suggest quick learner as a feat without the improvisation chain. if you only want the skill point then you should invest in toughness and not quick learner.


AndIMustMask wrote:

Still cant get over how cool it is to see a shadowdancer paladin (sounds like a great fetchling option).

Thanks. Half the fun of playing her (she's a PFS character) is bringing her out to a table at a convention, and watching people's heads tilt like crows. At a Paladin. With a shadow following her. Said shadow giggling like a small child and calling her "Mommy!" in Celestial.

You can see her build here. There's also a link to her campaign journal entries.

One really inobvious piece of equipment that any Shadowdancer should have is an Amulet of Ghosttouch Fists for the Shadow to wear. 5K GP. Allows the Shadow to pick up items, which means it can use your (simple) backup weapons against creatures immune to ability drain, as well as walk through walls and open doors from the other side, pick up objects from disarmed foes...


AdAstraGames wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:

Still cant get over how cool it is to see a shadowdancer paladin (sounds like a great fetchling option).

Thanks. Half the fun of playing her (she's a PFS character) is bringing her out to a table at a convention, and watching people's heads tilt like crows. At a Paladin. With a shadow following her. Said shadow giggling like a small child and calling her "Mommy!" in Celestial.

You can see her build here. There's also a link to her campaign journal entries.

One really inobvious piece of equipment that any Shadowdancer should have is an Amulet of Ghosttouch Fists for the Shadow to wear. 5K GP. Allows the Shadow to pick up items, which means it can use your (simple) backup weapons against creatures immune to ability drain, as well as walk through walls and open doors from the other side, pick up objects from disarmed foes...

That just sounds like fun.

However, how is it your Paladin serves Pharasma? Didn't think you could be a Paladin of Pharasma in PFS.

Also, Pharasmites are forbidden from creating undead and you have a shadow?


I like this guide and am sure I will be using it. The one area it does not agree with my style of play is in the mercies. You have solely rated them on their use on the Paladin. We often us LoH on other party members, so the mercies usefulness is measured differently.


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Popping back in to suggest these two (or rather, one of them depending on the player's taste) for suggested equipment:

(paladin) Bracers of the Avenging Knight (wrist slot) - SUPERIOR IN EVERY WAY TO THE SILVER SMITE BRACELET

Spoiler:

Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th
Slot wrists; Price 11,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION

These silver bracers are polished to a mirrored sheen, but otherwise shift their appearance to match whatever suit of armor they are worn with.

If the wearer has levels in a class that grants a smite ability (such as a paladin, or a cleric with the Destruction domain), her smite damage is treated as though she were a member of that class four levels higher. If the wearer is not a member of such a class, once per day she may make one smite attack, gaining a bonus on the attack roll equal to her Charisma bonus, and a +5 bonus to the damage roll on a hit.

CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS

Craft Wondrous Item, bless weapon; Cost 5,750 gp.

and

(paladin) Bracers of the Merciful Knight (wrist slot)

Spoiler:

Aura moderate conjuration; CL 9th
Slot wrists; Price 15,600 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION

These golden bracers are engraved with images of celestial creatures.

When worn by a paladin, he is considered four levels higher for the purposes of determining the uses per day and healing provided by his lay on hands class feature. Additionally, once per day, the wearer can infuse a use of lay on hands with additional power, providing relief as a lesser restoration spell.

CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS

Craft Wondrous Item, cure serious wounds, lesser restoration; Cost 7,800 gp.


Tels wrote:

That just sounds like fun.

However, how is it your Paladin serves Pharasma? Didn't think you could be a Paladin of Pharasma in PFS.

At the time I made the character, Inner Sea World Guide had not been published; ISWG states which deities do and do not have Paladins. At the time I made the character "Any deity who was not Evil or Chaotic" could have them - and Paladins are NOT required to follow a deity within one step of LG by their class rules.

Since then, officially, she's an Atheist Paladin who venerates Pharasma rather than a communicant of Pharasma who derives her powers from Pharasma. Given what Pharasma does to Salim in Death's Heretic... there's canonical leeway.

I ask when I join a table to make sure I don't get someone who'll object if I roleplay an actual Paladin of Pharasma; if there's anyone who gets their undies in a bundle over it, I either play a different character of the "martial/spellcasty" niche, or downplay her religion.

Quote:
Also, Pharasmites are forbidden from creating undead and you have a shadow?

That's covered in her journal entries. The shadow is her daughter, conceived and...altered...on the Plane of Shadow.

Pharasma is also the deity of Childbirth - abortion is also reasonably Not Approved Of. Agda went through about an entire in-play levels effectively trying to get herself killed in combat while pregnant to avoid the issue. Plus what was written there.

They're worth reading.


Crosswind wrote:


Think of a human paladin as follows:
1.) Power Attack, Cleave
3.) Weapon Focus
5.) Cleaving Finish
7.) Lunge
9.) Great Cleave
11.) Improved Cleaving Finish
13.) Improved Critical

Our full attack is going to be _fine_. Particularly if we taken weapons bond (which I will recommend later). Most...

I was wondering why Weapon Focus over Furious Focus, I don't recall any of these feats you have which require weapon focus (I could be wrong). When you start getting additional attacks, is the thought you stack bonus on the chance of a additional successful and the cleave attack over the additional damage from Power Attack? This isn't a criticism, just wondering as I have started a 2h paladin myself.


Furious Focus only helps the first attack, he's got a cleave build and potentially has lots of attacks per round all helped by Weapon Focus.


being a dwarf (or human w/ racial heritage/aasimar w/ scion of humanity and racial heritage/etc.) for cleave through seems good for that.


Could use some advice. I am in a Rise of Runelords campaign, we're a 3 man party with my cohorts being a cleric and a sorcerer (fey bloodline)so I am the main melee presence. I am a angel-kin Aasimar Paladin and I took Oath of Vengeance as my archetype. Accordingly, I would be classified as a Castigator Paladin;

So far for feats I have

1. Extra Lay on Hands (to use to either hang in longer with my self healing or to fuel at least 1 extra conversion to smite with my Oath power)

3. Power Attack

We just hit 4th level and completed Book 1. I'd like to take Lunge at 7 and Improved Critical at 9 so I can take advantage of using the Bless Weapon spell for purposes of auto confirm on critical. I also do plan to take the weapon divine bond.

However, I am open for some suggestions on potential build-out. I have been toying with extra mercy to increase the effectiveness of my self-healing of LoH. I do like what Crosswinds has but that's a lot of feats building around being able to cleave.

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