Cryptic's Guide to the Paladin


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Cryptic's Guide to Paladins

I just made a couple more edits and wanted to open it up for comments.

Any changes or thought?


how about some equipment suggestions across different levels.

also, what do you think about these feats: extra lay on hands, channel smite, extra mercy


I know it's cheesy but a twf build using two 18-20/x2 weapons seems like a pretty natural fit for a smiter.

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Demosthenes wrote:
I know it's cheesy but a twf build using two 18-20/x2 weapons seems like a pretty natural fit for a smiter.

It is definitely the case that crit weapons are better than higher die weapons.

If I was to go weapon in both hand I would do Kukri/Kukri.

That said, I prefer the shield. You lose out on damage but get AC and (essentially) another item slot because you can equip the shield as both a weapon and as a shield. TWF equals standing next to bad guys trading full attacks. If I am playing that game, I want a respectable AC.


John Spalding wrote:

It is definitely the case that crit weapons are better than higher die weapons.

If I was to go weapon in both hand I would do Kukri/Kukri.

That said, I prefer the shield. You lose out on damage but get AC and (essentially) another item slot because you can equip the shield as both a weapon and as a shield. TWF equals standing next to bad guys trading full attacks. If I am playing that game, I want a respectable AC.

I prefer a shield as well simply because the double kukri build smells of so much cheese I'd feel dirty using it. That said I think it's probably worth mentioning in the guide the effect crit range and crit multiplier can have on smite. You and me may not like the build but it still offers superior damage out put for anyone looking at optimization.

If nothing else it's probably worth mentioning the value a 18-20 threat range weapon has while smiting. Even with a sword and board build a kukri can make a nice off-hand (assuming you're main handing the shield).

Again I personally hate the idea of a paladin using a Kukri. The only classes I can really see using this weapon from a flavor perspective are Barbarians and Rangers. But numbers wise it makes since with smite.

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Demosthenes wrote:


If nothing else it's probably worth mentioning the value a 18-20 threat range weapon has while smiting. Even with a sword and board build a kukri can make a nice off-hand (assuming you're main handing the shield).

I am not sure if using a shield in the main hand is allowed:

SRD wrote:


Shield Bash Attacks: You can bash an opponent with a heavy shield, using it as an off-hand weapon. See “shield, heavy” on Table: Weapons for the damage dealt by a shield bash.
....

I added TWF with weapons in both hands as another fighting style.


It was answered in the 3.5 faq and that bit of text is a hold over from 3.5. Rather or not Paizo will stand behind WotC answer to that question remains to be seen so... ask your DM is probably the only correct answer right now.

Here's the 3.5 faq quote.

Quote:

Can a character make a shield bash attack using the shield as a primary weapon or can it be used only as an offhand weapon?

While the rules describe a shield bash as an off-hand weapon, that’s simply an assumption (that your primary hand is holding a weapon). There’s nothing stopping you from declaring your shield bash as your primary weapon. Of course, that means that any attack you make with your other hand becomes a secondary weapon.

I don't have a link though, I jacked this from another thread.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Please tone down the 24 point text. That's annoying.

Weapon Bond is not "very, very strong". It's weapon training on a X/day limit.

Stop rating abilities which aren't options. That distracts from actual information. I don't care how good you think "Detect Evil" is.

Paladins suck at defensive sword and board. It's a non-strategy. It's worse than using a 2h weapon for every single class.

Speaking of which, using a 2h weapon is not the worst option. Power Attack and 2h str bonuses are still quite a bit of damage.

K (religion) is for knowing undead weaknesses.

Lay on Hands is pretty terrible. Learn to love wands of CLW. Do not take feats that enhance it.

Magic Circle against Evil is a great group buff, don't underrate it. GMW, on the other hand, sucks for you because your caster level is gimped.

You don't have any builds to give people an idea how to play the class, or any advice on when to use smites, or whether to stack weapon bond/smite/bless weapon, etc. This feels like one of those 4e guides where they just give a bunch of arbitrary ratings to powers and call it a day.

----

Basically, when I read this guide I don't feel at all enlightened on how to play a paladin. You rated a bunch of random class abilities but didn't meaningfully compare them, nor did you give any strategic or tactical advice. This sort of raw, list-of-ability guide is only useful when there's so much material that dumpster-diving for the good stuff is a lot of work, and right now there's only the one book.

Say more, rate less.


Now that I've looked over the guide a bit more (instead of just glancing at the builds) I have to agree with MiB.

This guide feels very incomplete. I liked the mentioning of using mounts with small characters, I think a lot of us probably focus on the new shinnies and forget how good some of the old things can be. That said, you make no mention of what mounts might be best for each build.

Your spell selection doesn't really impress me. Death Ward is highly situational and your description of it really doesn't tell me squat. By the time most paladins will be able to cast this spell they'll know a cleric how can cure permanent level drain. The morale bonus can be nice but... meh... it's one classification of spells and unless you plan to cast this spell on someone with much worse saves then you it's probably not worth memorizing. If you are planning on doing that well, you probably don't have a cleric in your party (and if you do he's the one that should do this not you).

So yeah... the guide needs work, a lot of it. My suggestion if you really want to keep at this is to sit down with whichever build you like the most and do an in-depth guide, just for that build. Then move on to the next build if you still feel up to it.

*edit* Also... regular Restoration will restore permanent negative levels. So you don't even need to know a cleric to do this yourself. It also does a slew of other stuff. Dispel Evil by the way auto-dispels evil spells and enchantments cast by evil creatures, that's something that smite can't do.

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A Man In Black wrote:


Say more, rate less.

All in all good advice.

I reran the numbers for 2H compared to TWF with a shield and they aren't very fantastic. At lower level (not counting weapon bond for either) and using PA, 2H gets around 1 more damage per round with relatively little inelasticity on AC when not smiting. When smiting, TWF does more damage (again not a huge difference -1 to +2.4 damage) with TWF working better against low AC opponents.

At mid level, 2H still does marginally better damage when not smiting (still around 1 damage per round and AC still doesn't matter much). When smiting, TWF is better by a significant margin.

Spreadsheet data:

Level 5: 2H uses PA and wields a falchion, TWF uses TWF
They share the following pertinent stats: 18str, +1 weapon

Level 10: Same except TWF now has ITWF
They share the new stats: +3 weapon, 22str

I model over a range of 20 AC values that scales with the character. Those 20 AC values are the ACs are the AC a character with full BAB, and the same stats hits on a 1 through the AC that same character can only hit on a 20, inclusive. I tend to focus most on the middle values (especially at low level).

A Man In Black wrote:


Lay on Hands is pretty terrible. Learn to love wands of CLW. Do not take feats that enhance it.

I love CLW wand-fu and even recommended it over taking the feats to increase channels per day.

That said Lay on Hands is a good in combat heal before the Heal spell. It also scales pretty well. At level 2 you get probably 4 uses for at total of 4d6 or 14 healing. Relative to your HP that is a lot. The max at level 2 is something like 33 total HP (rolled max at lvl 2 20 + 8 con + 2 favored class + 3 toughness). At 10th level you would get probably 8 uses for 5d6 each for 140 total healing. Your max HP at level 10 is around 180 (rolled all 10s, 22 con, Toughness, Favored class all goes to HP).

While decent, that much healing is not very respectable if either 1) It takes a standard action to toss out in combat or 2) it is healing done out of combat. If you are blowing standard actions to heal, you need to outpace monster damage, which is a tall order. Unlike a standard action, swift actions are not a significant resource, you don't lose attacks. Using LoH you need not outpace monster damage for it to be a optimal tactical decision. Given that, the healing is pretty good. It won't replace CLW or other out of combat healing but it will certainly keep you up longer than it would otherwise.

Honestly, even not considering the math (which I think makes a decent argument for LoH), in play LoH often matters a great deal. LoH improves the action economy of other characters. It gives the cleric or druid more time to do things that aren't healing. That's a good thing.

Extra Lay on Hands is certainly not the best feat for most builds. I do think it is better than most of the alternatives if one is looking for a feat that gives some marginal increase in staying power. I would prefer it over Toughness, Shield Focus, and Diehard.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

John Spalding wrote:
I model over a range of 20 AC values that scales with the character. Those 20 AC values are the ACs are the AC a character with full BAB, and the same stats hits on a 1 through the AC that same character can only hit on a 20, inclusive. I tend to focus most on the middle values (especially at low level).

Whoa, not saying that 2h is better than TWF or archery. But you rated it lower than 1h/shield without bashing and that's silly. Pretty much every archer paladin should be rocking a falchion or curve blade, not a scimitar and shield, since the feat support is one feat.


Why is the suggested Wisdom for a Paladin a mere 7? Wouldn't this prevent him from even casting 1st level spells?

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Dork Lord wrote:
Why is the suggested Wisdom for a Paladin a mere 7? Wouldn't this prevent him from even casting 1st level spells?

Pallys use charisma for spells now.

Given how stats are set up, this means they need cha (for lay on hands, saves, and spells) and either str or dex (for damage), along with certain minimum values for con, int, and dex (hp, skill points, AC). Being able to completely ignore one stat is helpful, and having it be wisdom, when we're talking about the iconic 'Lawful Stupid' character, is just a bonus.

personally, I like paladins quite a lot, but the 'lawful stupid' thing is something they've earned through the people who choose to play them. Knocking wisdom down actually fits.


Firstly, thanks for the call-out.

Secondly, thanks for doing this guide! I've heard a bit of requests for a Paladin Guide - now I can point them here.

I haven't had a lot of time to look it over yet, but a few things:

1) You mention small lancers, and then mention to remember that a lance has reach. I was under the impression that small size lances lose reach - or did you mention this somewhere that I missed?

2) In general you've recommended dumping Int. That's going to mean 1 skill point per level. Wouldn't ride normally be a higher priority than diplomacy in this case?

I'll take a closer look at this when I get the chance. Thanks again for the content!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Treantmonk wrote:

Firstly, thanks for the call-out.

Secondly, thanks for doing this guide! I've heard a bit of requests for a Paladin Guide - now I can point them here.

I haven't had a lot of time to look it over yet, but a few things:

1) You mention small lancers, and then mention to remember that a lance has reach. I was under the impression that small size lances lose reach - or did you mention this somewhere that I missed?

2) In general you've recommended dumping Int. That's going to mean 1 skill point per level. Wouldn't ride normally be a higher priority than diplomacy in this case?

I'll take a closer look at this when I get the chance. Thanks again for the content!

1)
PFSRD Weapons wrote:
Reach Weapons: Most reach weapons double the wielder's natural reach, meaning that a typical Small or Medium wielder of such a weapon can attack a creature 10 feet away, but not a creature in an adjacent square.

I based my reach assessment on this, is there a rule elsewhere that say otherwise?

2) Yes for sure. Ride is top priority if you need to ride (i.e. you have Mounted Combat). It is lowest priority if you don't need to ride.

Not really directed at Treat, bu generally, I feel kind of crappy about dumping Int for almost every build. The three main reasons are 1) The point values are nice multiples of five, but they often work out to be kind of wonky in practice. 2) That 4 extra PB points from a 7 is huge, especially at low point buy values. Both of those are really design issues (though not game stopping just kind of odd). 3) Paladins need at least 3 or 4 good ability scores, TWF in particular is an ability score nightmare. If your game has a low PB value, really consider the Lancer. For one, your mount isn't hosed by the low PB which makes him relatively stronger. Also that build requires the fewest good ability scores. Just good Str and Cha will make him playable...you can get more easily away with crappy Con there because you will eat fewer full attacks.


BobChuck wrote:
personally, I like paladins quite a lot, but the 'lawful stupid' thing is something they've earned through the people who choose to play them. Knocking wisdom down actually fits.

Not in my experience, and almost every character I play would have no significant problems with following the Paladin's code, even when not playing D&D.


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Yes, the reach weapon thing is my mistake.

So, my feedback:

Races: All good advice IMO. I agree that Humans are probably the go-to race, though if you dump your Int to 7 - one of the humans racial abilities (the extra skill point/level) is basically gone.

I really like Halflings and Gnomes for Paladin, and after reading your guide, I'm more convinced than ever on this.

Divine Bond You mention under "mount" that because of the replacement time for a dead mount, it can really suck if you rely on mounted combat. I would point out that if the Paladin plans for this possibility, you can reduce the pain. For example, the Halfling Paladin might bring a couple trained Riding Dogs in tow to use as mounts if needed, etc.

If your ride skill is good - a simple "Mount" spell might solve the problem as well for an interm "patch"

Finally, I personally disagree with your ranking of Weapon Bond vs. Mount. The Mount is treated as an animal companion of a Druid level equivalent to the Paladins, which is very nice, and the animal companion begins play with an Int of 6 - which makes it superior to a Druid's companion.

While the Weapon bonus adds for 1 min/level from once to four times per day - the animal companion is a constant bonus. Also note that with TWF you only are enhancing one weapon at a time (unless you use multiple uses)

Granted, the prime Druid choices (Tigers or Cheetahs dependant on level) probably won't be considered "mount" options by most DM's (He-man?), the Boar is actually quite tough.

For Medium sized Paladins, upon reaching 7th level, the Wolf (which is Large) might be a decent choice as well. Base 21 str and base 19 con plus the trip ability - not bad at all. (Remind your DM about Worgs in LotR if he says wolves don't make good fantasy mounts)

A small Paladin can also take a Wolf, but would need to select the optional +2 Str/Con advancement option - which is a terrible deal. Probably better off with the boar or the Dog.

From a purely non-mechanical point of view, I could see DM's being more leniant with a Wolf or a Dog in regards to certain kinds of movement. A dog can leap up stairs with no problem...boars and ponies may find that difficult for example.

Class Features

Not much to say here, though Mercy could probably use a bit more in-depth evaluation.

Speaking of Mercy, I notice you recommend "Blindess" as one of the mercys to select, though Paladins have Remove Blindness/Deafness on their spell list - in fact, you recommend taking that too - this seems redundant to me, and I think it's redundant too.

The Builds

Wow - is there anything that doesn't excel in archery in Pathfinder? Wow. Smite evil plus archery is a nasty combo!

I personally would have rated the Lancer Green - but that's just my opinion.

Favored Class I disagree that the choice is clear. Yes, extra HP are good to have, but if I'm only getting 1 skill point per level, one more makes a pretty huge difference. The kind of difference between having a Maximized Ride or Diplomacy and having a maximized Ride AND Diplomacy for example.

So I would think your choice might be dependant on your Divine Bond choice.

Feats

I would at least discuss item creation feats. For example - a Paladin can create a Lesser Restoration wand or scroll as a first level spell (SUPER cheap), which you likely aren't going to find at the local market.

Whether you like them or not, they should be evaluated in the guide I think...

Spells

A) You really need to evaluate ALL spells. Especially since as a divine caster the Paladin can access any of them. For example, you haven't rated "Lesser Restoration" - this is EARLY entry for the Paladin - and a very nice early entry too.

You've rated all the spells of levels 2-4, so it's really just the level 1 list - which is the list that a Paladin will be using most in his career. Not that you should be rating the various late entry spells highly (Detect poison as a first level spell - *shudders*), but I think it's important to rate it anyways, so players know what to disregard (aforementioned Detect Poison) vs. what to pay special attention to (aforementioned Lesser Restoration)

Protection from X The primary use of this spell isn't the deflection bonus, so the stackability wouldn't be the primary factor.

Bless Weapon Worthy to note that this spell allows the weapon to bypass DR /Good. This is going to be a handy wand if you can get it. Use it on your weapon (if you don't have divine bond), on the Druid's claws and teeth, on the Monk's fists, etc. DR /good is a common DR for evil outsiders, and Bless weapon is a Paladin-only spell.

Resist Energy/Delay Poison You would memorize Undetectable Alignment before these spells? Okay.....

...especially when you've rated Neutralize Poison (a 4th level spell) green - and Delay Poison is superior for its level, maybe even superior overall.

So - hopefully that's of some value...

P.S.: I'm picking on all the stuff I have different opinion on, I should mention that overall - I agree with most of what you've put in the guide, and I think it's a great job.

Very good read too!

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Thanks for the review.

Treantmonk wrote:

Finally, I personally disagree with your ranking of Weapon Bond vs. Mount. The Mount is treated as an animal companion of a Druid level equivalent to the Paladins, which is very nice, and the animal companion begins play with an Int of 6 - which makes it superior to a Druid's companion.

I need to add more Craft Wand stuff for sure.

I think there is a definitely a good argument for the mount feature. I think I will rate it conditionally.

If you need a mount because you want to use Mounted Combat, it is a great option at least unless you regularly fight flying opponents.
Though I suppose you can get a flyer at level 11 from Bonus Bestiary at the expense of a feat.

If you can get something that isn't on the limited list it becomes at least as good as weapon bond even if you don't need something to ride around on. My issue is that all of the options on the list have too few attacks and none of the goodies (trip, constrict, blindsense or flight).

All that said, the dying mechanic blows. No other Animal Companion gets beat down with the 30 day penalty. After playing an evil druid for a year I consider the Animal Companion's unique ability to die with almost no penalty to be a feature. Last one out in a full retreat...the animal companion. The character who "finds traps"...often the animal companion (sometimes Nature's Ally I won't work). The character to eat full attacks while we debuff the monster...yep the animal companion. I suppose that is why the paladin gets the penalty (or perhaps it is just carry over from 3.x)


John Spalding wrote:
Thanks for the review.

No problem.

Quote:

If you need a mount because you want to use Mounted Combat, it is a great option at least unless you regularly fight flying opponents.

Though I suppose you can get a flyer at level 11 from Bonus Bestiary at the expense of a feat.

I would imagine the Roc, Dire Bat and Pteranodon could all be used as a mount. I would think a Dire Bat is a little odd for the standard Paladin - but a Roc wouldn't be bad I think (It maxes out at large size as a companion)

The other option is to get a source of air walk for a land-based companion.

Quote:
My issue is that all of the options on the list have too few attacks and none of the goodies (trip, constrict, blindsense or flight).

If you can get the Dire Bat, then you get the flight and blindsense.

When I read, "although more exotic mounts, such as a boar, camel, or dog are also suitable." it seems to me that boar, camel and dog are examples of exotic mounts that would be suitable - not the extensive list.

I think the key is that the Mount needs to be just that.

However, I could see some DM's restricting you to the set list. In which case, it certainly does mean a huge limit to options.

Then again...at least with a Horse or Pony, barding should be readily available.

Probably for a Riding Dog too in areas with more halflings/gnomes.

Quote:
All that said, the dying mechanic blows. No other Animal Companion gets beat down with the 30 day penalty.

Agreed. The Paladin's Mount needs to be protected. Mounted Combat feat is an absolute must. Barding if possible as well.

Furthermore, remember you are selecting feats for the Mount - so you can layer up feats like Toughness. Since Int is already over 3, you can use stat increases in Con as well.


I like improved critical as a fighter feat, but as a paladin I would avoid it due to the lower number of feats. The only way I can justify taking a chance on it is with a high crit range, at least 17-20(after the feat).
All barbarians, fighters, and paladins should have step-up. As a DM if the paladin happens to hit me and I live I won't be casting in melee range if I can help it. As a paladin you don't won't bad guys to be able to step away.

I will be back when I am more coherent.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

For the TWF and 2H builds, using a high crit weapon, Improved Crit is a 20-25% total average damage increase. Few feats are going to add that much damage...Many Shot, Rapid Shot and TWF are probable candidates and those are top-tier role-defining feats.

For a 19-20/x2 weapon, Improved Crit is an approximately 15% increase, which is still pretty good for a feat.

The numbers above don't account for Bless Weapon. Bless Weapon is probably the best Improved Crit synergy in the game.

Additionally, unless you play solely at low level, high crit range weapons are just better. I would go bigger damage die over bigger crit range until somewhere between 5th and 10th level. The level at which the high crit weapon becomes better is when at least ONE of the following occurs: 1) You either have crafted or buy a keen weapon (which happens to be the best investment you can make in your weapon before you do either of the next two options) 2) You take Improved Critical OR 3) You regularly keep Bless Weapon up for fights of any importance (might I suggest that Pearl of Power I is the most efficient damage increase for a paladin at low level and the item stays valuable for you at every level).

Test Data:

The worse case scenario for high crit weapon is 2H weapon as the increase in damage die is largest.

At level one, you do 8% average damage better with a Greatsword over a Falchion smiting or not. So at level 1, Choose the higher base damage weapon.

By level 5, no buffs, things have gotten somewhat better, the Greatsword is still 8% better when not smiting. The Falchion is now only 4% worse when smiting. Still carry that greatsword.

At 5th level, when you use weapon bond, using the best strategy for either side, Flaming for the Greatsword and Keen for the Falchion: Not smiting, the Falchion is 2% better except against very high AC foes (25 or so is the breakpoint) and the Falchion is 7% better once again except against ACs of around 25 or higher.

At level 10, no buffs or support feats, the Greatsword is 2% better when not smiting and the Falchion is 2% when smiting. That is negligible it amounts to less than .5 average damage either way.

Since Improved Crit is a good feat for either, I give both of them the feat.

The Paladin does 4% better damage with the Falchion not smiting and 8% better when smiting.

With Bless Weapon (auto-confirm) at level 10 with Improved Crit, falchion is 10-17% better when not smiting and 10-20% better when smiting.

10-17% better damage for 25g and a funny shaped weapon is a darn good trade.


If you were making a S&B TWF, how would you fill out the feats and ability score allocation up through 20?


John Spalding wrote:

Cryptic's Guide to Paladins

I just made a couple more edits and wanted to open it up for comments.

Any changes or thought?

Any chance of cramming the APG stuff in here ?

Dark Archive

I would like to see an update as well, since I have no clue what I am doing.

Dark Archive

monskers wrote:
I would like to see an update as well, since I have no clue what I am doing.

It might be best to wait for Ultimate Combat and Inner Sea Magic, otherwise a guide might be outdated again in a few weeks once they are released.

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Jadeite wrote:
It might be best to wait for Ultimate Combat and Inner Sea Magic, otherwise a guide might be outdated again in a few weeks once they are released.

Valid point. +1 to you.

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Halfling Jack-of-all-trades Multiclass PFS Paladin:

Starting Stats (20pt)
STR-12
DEX+17
CON:14
INT:12
WIS:07
CHA+16

1. pala1 Point Blank Shot
2. rogu1
3. pala2 Rapid Shot
4. rogu2 DEX>18, evasion, Weapon Finesse
5. figh1 Critical Focus or Deadly Aim, Precise Shot
6-11. pala3-8 Manyshot, Improved Critical (Rapier), Power Attack or CF OR DA
12. figh2 (for a BAB11 feat, such as Improved Precise Shot)

Equipment: composite longbow, rapier, mithril chainshirt, buckler. Upgrade armor and buckler first, then weapons.

Low-level party roles: "Face"; high AC full-def hallway-jammer; sometime archer; OoC healer (via UMD)

Skill to max: Escape Artist. (Other skills are important, but this one saves your hide.)


Guide says a TWF paladin can't use Weapon Bond on both weapons, but is that true? I see no limitation preventing you from boning with 2 different weapons simultaneously. Horribly costly tough, so sort of 15 minute adventuring day tactic.

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