Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #6

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are taking a look at Seelah, the iconic paladin.

Female human paladin 13
LG Medium humanoid
Init –1; Perception +1
Aura courage (10 ft., +4 fear saves), good, justice (10 ft.), resolve (10 ft., +4 charm saves)
AC 27, touch 11, flat-footed 27 (+10 armor, +2 deflection, –1 Dex, +6 shield)
hp 115 (13d10+39)
Fort +14, Ref +7, Will +13
Immune charm spells and effects, disease, fear; Resist cold 10
Speed 20 ft.
Melee +3 defending longsword +21/+16/+11 (1d8+7/19–20)
Ranged +1 composite longbow +13/+8/+3 (1d8+5/x3)
Special Attacks channel positive energy (7d6, DC 20), divine bond (weapon, 3/day, 13 min., +3 bonus), lay on hands (12/day, 6d6), mercy (diseased, nauseated, sickened, paralyzed), smite evil (5/day, +4 to hit, +13 damage)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th):
At Will—detect evil
Paladin Spells Prepared (CL 10th):
4th—holy sword
3rd—dispel magic, prayer
2nd—resist energy, shield other, zone of truth (DC 16)
1st—bless weapon, divine favor, lesser restoration, protection from evil
Str 19, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 18
Base Atk +13; CMB +17 (+21 to sunder); CMD 28
Feats Critical Focus, Extra Lay on Hands, Greater Sunder, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Shield Focus, Staggering Critical, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Diplomacy +16, Heal +14, Knowledge (religion) +13, Sense Motive +14
SQ divine grace, divine health
Combat Gear staff of healing, winged boots; Other Gear +3 defending longsword, +1 composite longbow (+4 Str), mithral full plate of speed, +3 heavy steel shield, belt of giant strength +2, headband of alluring charisma +2, ring of minor cold resistance, ring of protection +2

Of all the base classes, paladins got some of the largest revisions between the Beta and the final version of the rules. Some of their defenses were increased, but the majority of the changes revolve around smite evil and the addition of the new ability called mercy.

Before we dig into those changes though, lets take a look at some of the other alterations. The first things you might notice are the new auras. These were introduced in alpha stages of the playtest and they have survived to the final game. The aura of justice allows Seelah to spend two uses of her smite evil ability to grant the ability to smite evil to all allies within 10 feet. She must use this ability right away and it lasts for 1 minute, but more on that later. The second aura, the aura of resolve, makes the paladin immune to charm spells and grants a +4 bonus on saves against such spells to all allies within 10 feet. Having a paladin in your party gives you a reason to stick together, even if it does mean that you are a little bit more vulnerable to area of effect spells.

The next change on the roster involves the paladin's saving throws. You might notice that Seelah's Will save is a bit higher than it should be. This is due to the fact that paladins now receive the faster save progression for their Will saves.

The paladin's lay on hands ability has been revamped a bit. The paladin can use this ability a number of times per day equal to half her paladin level plus her Charisma modifier. With each use, she heals 1d6 points of damage per two paladin levels. When she uses this on others, it is a standard action, but she can heal herself using this ability as a swift action. Seelah can also channel positive energy, as a cleric of her level, but she must use up two uses of her lay on hands ability whenever she channels.

In addition to healing damage, using lay on hands also comes with a number of new benefits called mercies. Starting at 3rd level, paladins can select one condition from a specific list (at 3rd level, that list is fatigued, shaken, and sickened, but the list expands the paladin gains levels). Whenever she uses lay on hands, if the target is suffering from that condition, it is instantly removed. As a paladin gains levels, she gains additional mercies, which expands her list of conditions cured though lay on hands. She can even cure diseases, poisons, and curses in this way, although she must make a caster level check to remove them (just as with the spells that remove these afflictions). These mercies allow a paladin to act as a healer in the party, but without stealing the focus from the cleric, who is more focused on larger healing spells and other buffs.

Divine bond allows a paladin to choose from one of two different effects. She can bond with a horse, which acts like an animal companion (using the paladin's level as her effective druid level), or she can bond celestial spirits to her weapon. Seelah has the weapon bond option, which allows her to add +3 to her weapon up to three times per day, with each bonding lasting a number of minutes equal to her paladin level. Instead of adding simple bonuses, however, she can instead transform those bonuses into special weapon qualities of an equal bonus. For example, Seelah could add a +1 enhancement bonus to her +3 defending longsword, making it +4 and she could also add the holy weapon quality. Instead, she could add axiomatic, flaming, flaming burst, keen, or merciful. As she gains in level, other options become available, such as speed or brilliant energy. The really nice part is that she can tailor these bonuses to the current situation, changing them each time she calls a celestial spirit.

Of all the changes, smite evil was perhaps the most contentious on the message boards. Everyone seemed to have an idea of how this iconic ability should work. In the end, it was decided that smite evil really should last until your evil foe is vanquished, making this ability useful even if you miss with your first attack. But we did not stop there, the amount of bonus damage dealt (that is, 1 point per paladin level) doubles if the selected foe is an evil outsider, dragon, or undead. Smite attacks also ignore any damage reduction the target might have. Finally, the paladin is protected from harm gaining a deflection bonus to her AC equal to her Charisma modifier against attacks made by the target. Suffice to say, you do not want to be on the receiving end of a paladin's smite evil.

There have been a few other changes to the paladin as well. Whenever she uses detect evil, she can focus on one target, to the exclusion of all others, to learn if that target is evil in just 1 round. In addition, her spellcasting progression is a little bit faster now (matching the ranger's), it is based off her Charisma modifier, and her effective caster level is her paladin level –3. Most of her spells are pretty straight forward, but there have been some changes to protection from evil that are worth noting here. This spell does not grant immediate immunity to mental control. Instead, it grants a new save at a +2 bonus against the control, but only if the source of the control is an evil creature or object (the other protection spells provide similar saves against their alignments). The spell does still provide immunity to new mental control or possession from evil creatures and objects while it lasts. Its protection from contact by summoned creatures now also only applies to evil creatures (instead of evil and neutral).

Seelah has a number of feats that are worth a closer look. Critical Focus gives her a +4 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls, but the real star is Staggering Critical. Any foe that suffers a critical hit from a creature with Staggering Critical is staggered for 1d4+1 rounds (meaning that can only take a move or a standard action). A Fort save reduces this duration to 1 round (for Seelah, the DC is 23). There are a host of critical feats like this in the book, but you cannot apply more than one to any critical hit (unless you are a fighter with the Critical Mastery feat). These feats are good, but they have relatively high prerequisites. Staggering Critical, for example, requires a base attack bonus of +13, whereas Stunning Critical requires a base attack bonus of +17. Seelah also has Improved Sunder and Greater Sunder, both of which give her a +2 bonus on checks to sunder. Greater Sunder also allows Seelah to apply excess damage from the sunder directly to the creature holding the item. Each combat maneuver has a pair of feats that works like this, granting up to a total of +4 bonus along with another benefit.

That wraps up our look at Seelah. Next week we will get Lem, the iconic bard, in here to play us a tune or two.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Iconics Paladins Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Seelah Wayne Reynolds
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