Divine Favor: The Paladin (PFRPG) PDF

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Designed by Stefen Styrsky and developed by Sigfried Trent and Wolfgang Baur, Divine Favor: The Paladin gives an in-depth exploration of the paladin class and useful advice on making the most of it.

The first in the Divine Favor series, this volume includes:

  • Alternate class abilities
  • Paladin archetypes such as Heavenly Beacon, Holy Sword, Questing Knight and Templar
  • Codes of Conduct and associated spells
  • Historical inspirations
  • How to deliver a truly earth-shaking smite!

Pick up Divine Favor: The Paladin and start smiting! Be sure to check out the other books in the Divine Favor series!

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Divien Favor: Paladin or: The guide to boring options and jerky Paladins


This installment of Open Design's Divine Favor-series is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving 17 pages of content, so let's check it out!

Even though I'm all for shades of grey moralities, I friggin' LOVE paladins - ever since I managed to roll one up in the 2nd edition days of old, I enjoyed playing them and their inherent potential for tragedy and heroic sacrifice. I am also a proponent of the idea that paladins don't have to be lawful stupid and in fact, never had an unpleasant paladin character in my campaigns - they led by example.

Following the format of Divine Favor, we kick off with a two-page discussion of the core-competences of the paladin-class before delving into alternate class abilities, the first of which is the divine aspect, which replaces divine bond: He gains powers depending on aspects of his deities domains and his levels, which range from bonuses, to halos etc. 5 abilities per domain, the domains covered include Community, Glory, Good, Healing, Law, Nobility, Protection, Strength, Sun and War. While I like the idea per se and the respective abilities felt balanced enough, divine aspect is not as modular as I would have liked it to be - subdomains don't get their own abilities and no guidelines to create your own divine aspects are provided, making the ability far less useful than it could be. What about the polar crusader or the noble lion-asathi with the lion mount and animal domain?

Next up are Stigmata, a rather brilliant idea - instead of stripping a paladin of all powers, they are a way for the DM to punish a paladin for breaking his code of conduct. Basically, they are extraordinary abilities that offer a penalty, but also a minor bonus. At least in theory. 4 sample ones are provided (unfortunately not much) and I also have to report, that in practice, their penalties are not offset by their benefits: Excommunicated provides an SR of 11+ the paladin's level against ALL divine spells. Wait, wut? Depending on the adventure, this stigma may actually make him STRONGER! The same goes for tormented sleep - the paladin must sleep 10 hours per day and takes a penalty against exhaustion, but may, one a week not go to sleep for 48 hours and yet regain hit points, spells, abilities etc. That's not only immensely strong at the climax of adventures where time's of the essence, but also undermines a basic premise of the vancian spellcasting system and even point-based magic systems like SGG's Zauberer and the Psionics system by Dreamscarred Press. Classic example of good idea, bad execution.

Next up are the new archetypes, of which we get 5: The Heavenly Beacon exchanges smite evil and aura of justice with inspire courage, greatness (9th lvl) and heroics (15th lvl). That is, he loses his most iconic attack and aura of justice for a paltry version bard abilities. While the abilities per se are not bad, there is an SGG-archetype, the Chantry, that does this much better and cooler. Not sold. The Holy Sword exchanges spells for fighter weapon training. Ok, I guess, though nothing to write home about. The Metropolitan is the first truly ingenious paladin archetype in this book and unfortunately remains the last - a paladin devoted to a city who replaces detect evil with blindsight and gains smite denizen. Great idea and I can already see a ragged street saint prowling the Great City... on the other hand, though, is the execution of the rules rather boring - making more complex rules, a city-sense, anything really, could have made this archetype an awesome divine watchman of the city. The Questing knight takes perhaps the oldest trope for the paladin and gains the ability to find the object of his quests and commune etc. Nothing wrong there, but nothing I'd want to play either. Finally, we get the Templar-archetype, who gains the abilities to protect areas via hallow and magnificent mansions. Good idea. Only: He can cast sanctuary. AT WILL. That means that at all times, creatures will have to make will-saves to attack a templar. This is insanely overpowered.

Next up are 4 codes of conduct: Vow of Abstinence, Vow of Poverty, Vow of Honesty and Vow of Servitude, all of which provide some bonus spells to add to the spell-list for the restrictions they impose on the paladin's actions. And the actions of his allies. For all the vows specifically mention that the paladin has to act like a jerk and impose his beliefs on others: Paladins with Vow of Honesty correct the lies of their allies, paladins with vows of abstinence can't look after their drunken comrades: "She must also refrain from associating with others who regularly pollute themselves with substances (alcohol, drugs, overly rich food, sexual relations)." While "regularly" is open to DM fiat, it would probably fit in with 90% of adventurers... Worse, instead of providing an lead-by-example-mentality, the restrictiveness of the vows plays right into the hands of all the people who hate paladins for being the jerky-goody-two-shoes-characters. While mechanically, there is nothing wrong with the vows, the fact that their restrictions are imposed on other players makes me loathe them. I vastly prefer how the Book of Hallowed Might handled vows and oaths in the 3.5 days of old. Another part that won't ever see use, probably also because I consider adding some spells for the oaths to be the most boring design decision possible.

The final section of the pdf provides us with 14 new feats for divine characters and paladins especially: Divine Initiative is only the first of the feats with which I have a problem: It adds one's Cha-bonus to initiative, thus probably surpassing improved initiative and stacking, making thieves potentially lose to clerics and similar divine casters. Not so well-thought out. Additionally, two of the feats have "Vow of Honor" as a prerequisite. There is no "Vow of Honor" in Divine Favor: Paladin. There is no "Vow of Honor" to be found in d20pfsrd. I'm too lazy to look further for the vow and assume it just has been cut from the pdf, making two of the feats essentially useless. Apart from these gripes, I don't have anything against the other feats - they don't feel overpowered. Neither are they truly compelling, though. Essentially, they are forgettable and will not see any use in my campaign.

Editing and formatting are ok, although I noticed an editing glitch of the highest caliber with the missing vow prerequisite. Layout adheres to OD's two-column standard and the artwork is appropriate stock-art. The pdf comes with bookmarks. Let's sum it up: Discussion of the class's strengths and weaknesses: Okay, useful for beginners. Divine Aspect: Good idea, no subdomains, no guidance. I prefer RiP's divine channeler. Stigmata: Good idea, bad execution. Archetypes: Mostly bland/boring, one non-standard one, one insanely overpowered class-feature. Codes of Conduct: Boring design choice (additional spells), imposes morality on other players, thus annoying them. Feats: Okay, nothing to write home about, one with power-creep, two that can't be used as written due to missing prerequisite.
Oh boy. I'm so pissed I paid money for this. While I didn't like every pdf of the series, I did love the inquisitor and oracle ones and at least found some good pieces in the druid and cleric-pdfs. Here, though: Nothing. I got nothing. A small archetype and an ok alternate class feature, which I consider moderately interesting just don't make up for the amount of SUCK herein. This pdf takes everything bland about the paladin and amplifies it. Worse, it actually encourages a playstyle that led to the bad reputation of the class in the first place. If it had done so with rules that are interesting, perhaps even genius, I wouldn't have minded - you're speaking of a DM who had EXALTED paladins in his campaign (yep, Book of Exalted Deeds - horribly broken, but can be counteracted with roleplaying restrictions) and even though they were annoying, they led by example. This pdf does e.g. not address not killing humanoids. Non-lethal abilities? Peaceful solutions? Perhaps an alternative for smite that doesn't kill, but subdues? An ability to slowly convert people to good, perhaps by granting bonuses to allies who behave accordingly, thus granting an incentive? Nope. Instead, the rather bland options impose overly restrictive moralities upon the whole party, include a severe editing glitch in the feats and make me angry.

This pdf has officially replaced Advanced Feats: Might of the Magus as my least favorite pdf by Open Design. I got nothing positive to say about this apart from the fact that all other Divine Favor-pdfs are vastly superior. My final verdict will be 1 star.

4 star review, some nice options for Paladins


Divine Favor: The Paladin by Open Design

This product is 20 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, and credits. (2 pages)

Introduction (2 pages)
This takes a look at the core aspects of the class and briefly talks about them.

Alternate Class Abilities (7 ½ pages)
This are Divine Aspects, which replaces the Divine Bound ability. Each one is based on a domain. The ability can be used X number of times per day and lasts 1min/per level. Each of the domain aspects grants 5 bonuses, as the Paladin levels up they gain access to more and more of them. So when they first learn it they gain only one bonus, at 8th level a second bonus is added and the Paladin gains both of them etc. The abilities are gained at 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th. Some of the abilities gained are just higher bonuses to a previously gained ability. There is ten divine aspects and one stigmata. They are below.

Community – focus on helping others with aid abilities.
Glory – inspires others around them with their actions.
Good – bonuses against some evil creatures.
Healing – improved ways of healing.
Law – bonuses against chaos.
Nobility – bonus to attack and demoralize the enemy.
Protection – extra protection.
Strength – gains a bonus to the strength stat and varies strength checks.
Sun – light and heat based abilities, plus bonus against undead.
War – bonus fighter feats and con bonus.

The Stigmata are signs of displeasure a deity can give a paladin with out having them fall.
Bleeding Wounds – a wound that won't fully heal.
Excommunicated – partial immune to divine spells included helpful ones.
Tormented Sleep – needs more hours of rest or suffer from lack of sleep.
Outcast – marked, others of the faith shun them.

Paladin Archetypes (3 ½ pages)
In this section we get five new Paladin Archetypes.
Heavenly Beacon – give inspiration bonuses to others.
Holy Sword – gives up spells to gain the fighter Weapon Training ability.
Metropolitan – protector of the city, gains bonuses in their city.
Questing Knight – gains know direction, commune and vision quest.
Templar – divine defense based abilities.

Paladin Codes (2 pages)
There is four codes of conduct given in much greater detail on exactly what is or is not allowed to be done. In addition each one grants bonus spells to the Paladins spell list that they learn at each spell level. The four codes are.
Vow of Abstinence – anything that pollutes the body and spirit, drugs, alcohol, rich food, sex etc.
Vow of Poverty – can only own the clothes, armor and weapons.
Vow of Honesty – can not lie, cheat or steal. Nor tolerate any form of deception.
Vow of Servitude – vows to protect and serve another to death.

New Feats (2 pages)
There is 14 new feats in this section. Several of them are for those who have taken one of the vows in this book or one a aspect. There is several general paladin feats though. One of the feats mentions a Vow of Honor which is not in the book. I believe it is meant by the text to be for the Vow of Abstinence.

It ends with a OGL. (1 page)

Closing thoughts. The art work is a mix of color and black and white, it ranges from ok to pretty good. Editing and layout is ok. I noticed a few minor mistakes like a the Vow if Honor I mentioned in the feats section. The Divine Aspects where pretty well done and I liked them. The Stigmata I thought was a very cool idea but I am not completely sold on how it works currently. I felt there needed to be more and a bit worse as some are almost as helpful as they are harmful. The Archetypes I thought was a mixed bag. Heavenly Beacon, Questing Knight and Templar I thought where pretty good. Metropolitan and Holy Sword I thought where a bit weak or limited. I did like the codes being fleshed out with some minor benefits being added to them. I would have liked to have seen some more though. The feats where mostly well done and took advantage of playing up the extra stuff in this book. So what's my rating? I am going to give this one a 4 star review. It is mostly good with a few minor mistakes and a few meh parts.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

An RPG Resource Review


Do you think that those goodie-twoshoes fellas in the shining armour make boring adventuring companions? There's a fair bit more to a well-designed and well-played one, and this book is packed with advice and suggestions to help you hone your paladins to perfection.

It opens with a look at key ability scores, suggesting that aspiring paladins ought to concentrate on strength and charisma, with others being chosen based on the desired role, those aiming for diplomatic roles need intelligence whilst those wishing to become investigators may need wisdom. The obvious focus on constitution for someone intending to be a fighter can be disregarded as the paladin's abilities provide him with plenty of protection.

Next comes the wise use of class abilities such as Smite Evil and the laying on of hands, as well as suitable spell choices and selection of a divine bond. Naturally many of these will stem from the choice of deity, but in general spells ought to be chosen with an eye to enhancing fighting capabilies especially with regard to Smite Evil. It is better to rely on the laying on of hands rather than fill spell slots with healing magic. Skills are limited, so diplomacy and ride are good choices.

Now on to the new stuff. First, alternate class abilites: Divine Aspect and Stigmata. Divine Aspect allows the paladin to channel a bit of his deity's raw power at times of need, being able to manifest all appropriate benefits of one chosen domain... and a lot of benefits are listed here for all the common domains. Stigmata, however, are a way for the paladin's deity (or at least, the GM) to show displeasure with a paladin who has strayed from the straight and narrow short of stripping him of paladinical powers. As well as the classic bleeding wounds (as manifested by some Roman Catholic saints), an erring paladin might find that he has bad dreams or that it is harded for others to cast divine magic on him, or he may develop an obvious mark that shows divine disfavour to all who see him. It is up to the GM to decide if the paladin can atone over time, and so lose the effects, or whether they are permanent reminders to both him and others of the importance of following that particular god's teachings and direction.

The next section provides several new paladin archetypes to choose from. These provide the overarching concept, describing the way in which an individual paladin chooses to serve his deity. A Heavenly Beacon, for example, acts as an inspiration to others, with abilities that confer bonuses to their fighting capacity. The Holy Sword dedicates himself to mastery of his weapon. The Metropolitan is a city-based paladin, dedicated to protecting and improving the lot of urban dwellers, while the Questing Knight spends his time in search of holy relics and sights, or dangerous beasts to vanquish, much as in the classic tales of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table with the quest for the Holy Grail. A Templar draws inspiration from the crusader orders, defending holy places.

Next comes a look at Codes of Conduct. Whilst the core rules state that a paladin ought to live according to rules, what those rules actually are is left a bit vague. So here are suggestions as to how to codify them, with rules for paladins to follow... and benefits which accrue if he does. So a paladin who follows a path of poverty receives a few extra spells such as mending that will make his money go further... and a paladin dedicated to being extremely honest gets spells that help him discern the truth and tell when others are lying to him.

The book rounds out with some new Feats that paladins (or in some cases, others who meet the requirements) may take. Some are quite interesting - for example, a paladin who chooses the divine aspect ability can take the Dual Aspect feat, in which he chooses two domains suitable to his deity and can decide every time he activates his divine aspect which domain's effects he wants to manifest.

All this may serve to make that paladin even more of a goody-twoshoes... but an effective one, with a variety of ways in which to further the will of his deity within your campaign world. A well-played paladin can enhance any campaign, and here are some tools to help set him up.

The Exchange Kobold Press

The first of the Divine Favor series is here! And yes, we're covering most or all of the divine classes. This one offers slew of archetypes and some great paladin-specific spells.

I look forward to what the Dark Mistress or others have to say about the Shiny Good Guys. :)

Liberty's Edge

Wow, very cool!

Dark Archive

Sounds very neat.

Can we get a preview? :)

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Definitely interested, but... I'm gonna wait until The Complete Divine Favor releases. I bought all of the Advanced Feats releases separately, and to see them just be released bundled for less after a few months, it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth towards future releases from Open Design like this.

I mean, if you were giving us the option to go ahead and pay 9.99 now and get all of the Divine Favor series as they release individually, the way Dreamscarred does for the Psionics Expanded chapters, this would be an absolute immediate purchase, but as it stands... talk to me in a few months.

Dark Archive

Reviewed, finally got the last of the Open Design products done.

Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine.

Grand Lodge

Where's "Vow of Honor"? Enhanced Divine Bond and Mortified Flesh both require it, but it's not on the pdf.

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