Many years ago, back in the days of the Advanced Player's Guide, there were plans to open up the paladin class to characters of any alignment. Unfortunately, the constraints of the class and its many alignment-based abilities made it too much of a challenge to fit in the pages of that book. Fortunately, the Advanced Class Guide gave us the opportunity to revisit the idea in the form of the Warpriest.
Blending together the powers of the fighter and the cleric, the warpriest is a class that allows you to represent the ideals of your deity, but to back them up with cold, hard steel. The class had 6 levels of divine spellcasting, combined with an ability called blessings that work like domains, but grant combat focused abilities. It seemed like a perfect blend, but the first version of the class that we put forth to playtest did not go over very well. The powers and abilities, as initially designed, just did not give the player enough martial ability to get the job done. It had some the spellcasting and some of the combat skill, but the two just did not work well together as initially presented. Fortunately, in round 2 of the playtest, we got it right (or maybe a bit too right). We added an ability called fervor that allows the warpriest to channel energy to heal his allies similar to a paladin's lay on hands, but it also could be spent to cast warpriest spells as a swift action, as long as those spells only targeted the warpriest. We also changed an ability called sacred weapon, which allows the warpriest to designate a weapon (or the favored weapon of his deity) and use that weapon to greater effect, increasing the damage and attack bonus.
Unfortunately, that caused a bit of a problem. The class was a bit too good.
The second round of playtest showed us some really interesting data. Everyone seemed in love with the class, which is certainly good, but our surveys also showed us that the class was now at the top of the power curve. After a number of internal playtests, it became clear that attacking with the full attack bonus of a fighter, combined with swift-casting a number of "buff" spells made the class a juggernaut. Since we really liked how the fervor mechanic worked, the sacred weapon rules had to change. Sacred weapon still increases the damage of weapons and it can still be used to grant special abilities to the weapon, but it no longer increases the attack bonus of the warpriest when using the designated weapon. Just like that, everything seemed to fit.
We also took another look at a wide number of the blessings, bringing them all in line with one another and making them a more seamless part of the class. Take the community blessing for example. The major version of the blessing did not fit really well and was outright useless to a warpriest of Erastil. It got changed to the following.
Fight as One (major): At 10th level, you can rally your allies to fight together. For 1 minute, whenever you make a successful melee or ranged attack against a foe, allies within 10 feet of you gain a +2 insight bonus on attacks of the same type you made against that foe—melee attacks if you made a melee attack, or ranged attacks if you made a ranged attack. If you score a critical hit, this bonus increases to +4 until the start of your next turn.
There are a lot of other exciting changes in the blessings as well, but for those, you will have to wait until the book arrives in stores and at Gencon in mid-August. Come back on Thursday to unleash your inner rage, now improved with magic!