Bodhizen's Guide to the Optimal Paladin & Antipaladin


Advice

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B0sh1 wrote:

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.

Wouldn't recommend extra mercy - there aren't many conditions that are worth spending your standard action to cure on somebody else, and there aren't many conditions you won't save against (or be immune to) most of the time.

I'm not sure what sort of game you're playing, but, between now and level 5, I recommend doing the following: Count how many times you end up using a standard-action attack where you could have cleaved a bunch of enemies. If this happens frequently, may want to check out a better way to spend that standard. If it happens infrequently, ignore my build. =)

-Cross


and by "a bunch" he means "one extra that must be adjacent to the first and still within reach of you" until you get the rest of the associated feats.

which isn't nearly as restrictive as i'm making it sound, actually, since iirc diagonals count as adjacent as well (meaning if two are on you on say, your front and your left, you can cleave them).

Example (w/ a non-reach weapon):
*|X|* . . *|X|X . . *|*|X
*|0|X . . *|0|* . . *|0|X (etc.) = Cleavable
*|*|* . . *|*|* . . *|*|*

0 = you
X = opponent

.

it's much more flexible with a reach weapon.

also: anyone know how to color text? i'd love to be able to format my posts without random periods for placeholders (they'll still be there, just white)


I meant Greater Mercy not Extra Mercy so I can get the +1D6 bonus when I have no effects and I am using LoH to heal myself.


This is why I don't universally recommend the Cleave feat tree. While you can potentially make two strikes with it, it's not universally applicable. You may or may not face enough enemies at all times that you're not making full attacks, while Vital Strike doesn't grant you that much more damage. They're evenly matched in my estimation.

Regarding Improved Critical versus Critical Focus... Improved Critical is good, because doubling your critical threat range is quite handy, but it grants a variable benefit depending on the critical threat range of the weapon in question. For a falchion, this is very good, because you'll end up with a 30% chance of landing a critical hit in the first place. For another weapon, you may get less of a benefit (depending on the weapon, of course, but generally speaking, a 5-15% increase to your chances of landing one in the first place). This makes the feat itself (not the feat when considering a specific weapon) of more limited utility, particularly considering that it doesn't stack with any other effects that increase your critical threat range.

Critical Focus, on the other hand, grants a static bonus to your efforts to confirm a critical hit (giving you a 20% better chance of confirming the critical hit). This effect stacks with non-circumstance bonuses that could increase your chances of confirming critical hits, like the Anatomist trait for example.

But thank you all for your input on the guide. :)


Well, improved critical doubles your chance of landing a critical hit, for critical focus to have better result, the 4 points of extra attack to confirm the critical hit need to double the chance of confirming. Since in a d20 system, 4 point of attack equals to 20% increase in probability, your original confirm chance should be 20% or less.( need to roll a 16 to confirm, or your highest attack is 16 points lower than enemy ac)

That's a really rare situation, and makes critical focus inferior in most cases.


So, Cleave is a situational feat. I have found that the situation of having more cleave-able opponents than I have attacks per round comes up _all the time_, so it's a no-brainer. Your mileage with it may vary.

-------

Improved Critical vs. Critical Focus, however, is _not_ situational. Improved Crit is better. I think your understanding of the math is a bit flawed here.

Assume you have a base chance of confirming a crit, P_confirm

In 20 swings, a falchion/scythe does (20 + 3*P_confirm)*Weapon Damage
With critical focus, this damage becomes (20+3*(P_confirm+.2))*Weapon Damage
With improved critical, this damage becomes (20+6*(P_confirm))*Weapon Damage

So the question is simply: For what values of P_confirm is 6*P_confirm>3*P_confirm+.2?

Or, rephrased: Is P_confirm > .0666? IE, do you confirm on anything other than a natural 20? You almost always do. Thus, improved critical is better than critical focus. Always.

----------

Cleave is a matter of opinion and circumstance - Improved Crit is just a matter of math. =) The "You could get it other places!" bit is sort of silly - in every one of those other places, it costs you at least a +1 attack and damage bonus...which is, again, better than critical focus for damage.

-Cross


If you're a fighter, take Cleave as one of your early bonus fighter feats. If you don't like it, swap it out later.


tonyz wrote:
If you're a fighter, take Cleave as one of your early bonus fighter feats. If you don't like it, swap it out later.

...I'm giggling a little bit right now.


Would you be able to add in some advice for a Stonelord Paladin?

What I've got from then is that your one and only(6th level) Mercy is going to be fatigue so you can cycle your defensive stance. Extra LoH is always great, but Greater Mercy is nowhere near as good for a Stonelord as it is for a Paladin since you only ever get one mercy(or more with feats).

Also a small idea...Dumping Con as a Paladin is actually...sorta viable.

LoH>>>>Raw Health, always.


I think it might be more that the Stonelord isn't likely the most optimal choice for a Paladin. Flavorful (and it looks really fun to play) but not really optimal. Same with my Redeemer, here.


Crosswind wrote:

Cleave is a matter of opinion and circumstance - Improved Crit is just a matter of math. =) The "You could get it other places!" bit is sort of silly - in every one of those other places, it costs you at least a +1 attack and damage bonus...which is, again, better than critical focus for damage.

-Cross

Crosswind, thanks for your reply. You may have noticed that I neither stated that Improved Critical nor Critical Focus was better. I did, however, mention that the fact that Improved Critical doesn't stack with other threat-increasing effects (such as the keen edge spell or the keen weapon property).

Since you can, effectively, replace the feat with either a spell (granted, not a Paladin spell, but you can get wands or scrolls) or a weapon property that you can buy (and only accounts for a +1 bonus to the weapon), but you cannot stack the effects (the real kicker), it's not absolutely necessary to have (i.e. not rated blue), but is still quite good (i.e. rated green). Clearly, you recognize that you can get it elsewhere, but it's not a "silly argument"; you can do better with your limited feat choices to improve your combat effectiveness, and Improved Critical isn't a prerequisite feat unless you're going for Seize the Moment (plus the keen edge spell doesn't cost you a +1 to attack and damage).

Thanks for your comments, though. :)


improved critical isn't ideal, so a green is good. The thing is critical focus is more a feat tax to get staggering critical than a good feat on its own. So I thought it would be a better idea to rate it green or lower, but mention it is needed for the future blue feats.

Btw, any thoughts on expand the guide on to some recent suppliment materials like Blood of angels?


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Tomag wrote:
I think it might be more that the Stonelord isn't likely the most optimal choice for a Paladin. Flavorful (and it looks really fun to play) but not really optimal. Same with my Redeemer, here.

Well I would say it's less optimal in the "You are now a Barbarian" way less so in the "You are now a Holy Gun" way. A Stonelord would probably have been better suited as an alternate class since nearly every Paladinish ability is replaced.

Heh, they'd need a completely different guide by themselves since they'd overlap more with Barbarians and Fighters than Paladins.

Also getting keen on your 18-20 weapon is really just a good idea for a palaadin since that Improved Critical feat slot can be filled with Exotic Wep:Fauchard, Lunge, or even more Extra Lay on Hands. Critical Focus is just straight up amazing once you get staggering and stunning critical.


solarius wrote:

Well, improved critical doubles your chance of landing a critical hit, for critical focus to have better result, the 4 points of extra attack to confirm the critical hit need to double the chance of confirming. Since in a d20 system, 4 point of attack equals to 20% increase in probability, your original confirm chance should be 20% or less.( need to roll a 16 to confirm, or your highest attack is 16 points lower than enemy ac)

That's a really rare situation, and makes critical focus inferior in most cases.

\

That isn't how a D20 system works. I recommend taking some algebra 2.


The 4 exrta confirmation points aren't really the point of critical focus.

Silver Crusade

Have you had an opportunity to review blood of angels, yet?


solarius and Dan Luckett,

I have had the opportunity to review Blood of Angels, but I ran into a problem. My desktop computer (where I had my copy of Adobe InDesign and the .indd file that encompasses the guide) is down; the hard-drive is shot. I am attempting to recover the drive so that I don't have to completely redo all the work (which was many, many hours).

However, I've seen some good material in Blood of Angels; I'm rather fond of Consecrate Spell (certainly over Maximize Spell), Inner Light is okay (only because of the Darkvision it grants) and Sunlit Strike is all right as well if you're an Aasimar (and of course all the variant heritages are good, though not every one is suited to the role of the Paladin).

Basically, when I can get my computer back up and running (even if I have to buy another hard drive), I'll rework some things in the Guide and put out a new iteration of it. I've wondered if anyone would be interested in helping me out, but I don't know that it would be ethical to set up a Paypal account for anyone who wanted to donate. I suppose it would depend on whether or not anyone is actually interested. Of course, if I did have support, I could commission original artwork for the Guide and then I could consider putting it out as a for-sale .pdf. Again, that's all based on whether or not people are interested.

Silver Crusade

Ever since I got my hands on a copy of Paths of Prestige I've been wanting to see some advice and backing to the Champion of Irori PrC. THis thing's Castigator Potential is insane:

1-you can taunt enemies with your lack of armor to keep them from the Squishy casters all the while dodging like a madman thanks your Monk's AC bonus
2-You have the potential for the most weapon Damage in the game via Monk's Unarmed damage and your ever increasing Smite.
3- You can not only smite more, but you can also Smite Chaos and Circle Smite as if you were weilding it with Cleave
4-By using either Weapon Finesse(Less MAD) or Dragon's Style feats you can pile on MOAR Damage.
5-Resolve Melee with Touch Attacks....'nuff said
6-You can actually be good at Menuevers so your not a one-trick pony
7-Better Skill Monkey without trying.
8-Depending on your Archetypes you can fulfull even more diverse roles.
9-Thanks to new goodies in UE its actually plausible to play an MAD class
10- Just for icing on the cake: more Lay on hands action activated by Ki

Just read the PrC and think about it. I'll even link the SRD page Here


Quintin Belmont wrote:

Ever since I got my hands on a copy of Paths of Prestige I've been wanting to see some advice and backing to the Champion of Irori PrC. THis thing's Castigator Potential is insane...

Just read the PrC and think about it. I'll even link the SRD page Here

Quintin Belmont,

Thank you very much for your input on my Guide. I would like to say that I don't write guides for gestalt characters, and while you're correct that the Champion of Irori prestige class has a lot of potential in the castigator role, there are many things that I wouldn't properly be able to account for unless I also took the time to study the Monk class thoroughly and write a Guide for the Monk (which is not in my current plans).

I do not feel that, at this time, I could do the prestige class any sort of justice, and there really isn't room to start including prestige classes in the Paladin Guide. If I were to start with one, I would have many, many requests for others, and I feel that my Guide is large enough as is.

Thank you, though, for your interest. I'm sorry that I cannot accommodate for your request at this time.


From the Guide to the Guides thread:

Lauraliane wrote:
Bodhizen wrote:
What do you feel is missing from the Guide, Lauraliane?

Not much to be honest, it is a very nice guide. Maybe some more races analysis, like the Musetouched Aasimar variant (with +2 Dext, +2 Cha) for the paladin Archer.

I am playing one currently and that's pretty nice, Glitterdust as spell like ability, some nice alternate racial traits like Celestial Crusader.

They also get Wings for 2 feats now (Angel Blood and Angel Wings).

Also some stuff on multiclassing or not, for example you mention that Halfling should multiclass fighter before level 3 ideally for the Archer Paladin, but not for the other races? I wondered why, and I actually took a figther level with my Aasimar in order to get Precise Shot and Rapid Shots faster.

Some "full" builds example with feats selection by level would be sexy too.

Also (and I know it is a bit of a pain), but traits suggestion could be nice, a lot of guides never mention them, which is too bad, because you usually get 2 traits and some are way better than others.

Anyway, mainly details, but since you have the best Paladin guide I feel it could be even more awesome, not to mention that you probably have some things in mind on your side to update it too :)

When I converted the Guide to .pdf, I don't think that I had Blood of Angels yet, so there will be inclusion materials for more on Aasimar, don't you worry. However, as I discussed a few pages back, as cool as it is to bark up that feat tree, you're exchanging a few feats for some lateral abilities (that are, indeed, quite cool), but that do not synergise well with the other feats you'll be taking.

As for multiclassing, I don't want to gear my guide toward gestalt characters, and upon careful consideration, I wouldn't encourage anyone to trade the capstone paladin ability for an extra feat (even if it does come early). I will be correcting that piece of advise in the Guide when I get my desktop PC back.

Also, while your suggestion of Traits is valid, there is a guide to Traits, and to include them into my Guide would bloat the Guide unnecessarily, as there are many, many traits that would suit any build depending on what you value the most. I would, essentially, need to replicate the entire Trait guide to make it of use in my Paladin Guide... Or I could just direct you to the Guide on Traits. I'd prefer the second option, personally.

But, I do have some other things to add in and some corrections to make. Thank you very much for your input, though. Happy gaming!

Silver Crusade

Its oka, thank you for aknowledging my post though. It is all to easy to be ignored on these threads.

BTW, I love your guide! its one of my favorites right next to Revel's Monk guide, Irishviking's Witch guide, and Channeling the Cosmos (Oracle guide)


About the multiclassing point, I don't mean "real" multiclassing, but more like the fact that you mention taking 1 fighter level in case of being an Halfling.

Is it something you suggest for any races besides human?

As for the paladin capstone I think most people will never see it anyway, at least I won't :)

All the Adventure Path usually ends between level 16 to 18, and that's when we stop and start a new one ;)


Quintin Belmont, thank you very much for your praise of my guide.

Lauraliane, I do understand that people playing Adventure Paths will probably never see the capstone ability for any particular class, but that's one of the variables that a player must take into account when building their character. I think it's important to recognize that if you're only going to play a character to level 10 (just as an example), you're going to make distinctly different choices in how you build your character than if you're building a character to last to level 20. There's no good way for me to account for that in setting up a guide like this.

Honestly, I wouldn't suggest multiclassing at all if you're looking forward to all the powers that a paladin can bring to bear. If you're not all that worried about getting the most out of being a paladin that you can, it depends on what you're looking to build in a gestalt character, and that's a lot of variables to consider. I suppose if you're asking for specific advise, I can make a specific recommendation.

Warmest regards,
Bodhizen


Great guide, especially the part on roleplaying. There's not nearly enough of that out there in handbooks.

I do think you've overlooked the Ultimate Mercy feat. Being able to rez anyone for almost free is an amazing ability, and particularly in flavor with the Harmonizer.


I seem to have a problem downloading this guide as a PDF. There is no Save As option for it and attempting to print as PDF gives me a 404 Not Found error. Can we put this back on Google Docs and let them do the PDF conversion? Thanks.


I also can't seem to download the PDF guide. Can you enable downloading in Google Docs somehow?

Shadow Lodge

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Observations:

1) Channel Positive Energy: This ability should be at least green (not red) -- Channel healing is a burst effect while LoH requires a touch to heal a single wounded ally. As paladins invariably advance CHA, they're better at it than clerics.

2) I would put Flurry as red/green situational (using the new, more lenient two-handed flurry abilities for monks, Power Attack temple sword-wielding monk/paladin and Flurry of Stars CHA-ki'd ninja/paladin are more viable). In fact, the guide would be usefully enhanced with inclusion of a color-coded list of other classes for "dipping" purposes (e.g., halfling rogue2/fight2/paladinX w/Boon Companion is very effective).

3) Gnome should be at least green as a race choice for archer paladin -- their attack bonus with a bow is exactly that same as a human who has the same CHA score, and their medium mount can carry them more places than the human's horse will.

4) S&B should be green -- S&B will have the highest ACs in the game versus specific threats, and they will encounter those threats at levels where their smite level bonus to damage grossly outweighs extra damage from two-hand usage (also, the temptation to "always be Power Attacking" with two-handers causes inept paladins to whiff their iteratives). S&B is now significantly better with the existence of quickdraw shields.

5) The trait Dangerously Curious should be ultra-deep blue/violet/laser-focused to fry your eyeballs out. Seriously do take this if you're making a CHA-advancing paladin and don't intend to multiclass even one teensy little dip into rogue or bard. Go buy a Crayola box full of druid wands. (The feat Addtional Traits is therefore green -- it lets you take Dangerously Curious later, along with something else useful, provided you don't want them earlier.)

= = =
Build: The Switch-Hitter (blue)
= = =

20pt: 15,14,14,14,12,07 array (15 in CHA; 18 @ 4th, all level bumps)

Bond: mount, unless you know for certain the campaign will screw that mechanic. (Note that Leadership is not permitted in PFS, so you may want to choose mount in that campaign even though opportunities to ride are iffy.) Switch-hitter constantly rotates weapons, reducing the viability of Weapon Bond (since it takes a standard action to activate in a new weapon). Note also the increasing number of spells which grant enhancement bonuses to weapons. While it IS true that Weapon Bond places a lot of extra damage at a paladin's disposal, what is questionable is if he'll actually need it that often -- since paladin are already kick ass six ways to Sunday right out the CRB. Lastly, a paladin's mount is a full druid companion, receiving skills and feats as it levels (it's easy to overlook how useful mount-ACs eventually become).

Necessary equipment: light quickdraw shield, weapon cords, mithral armor
Necessary feat: Quick Draw
Weapons: bow, shortsword, longsword, lance, nets, bolas

Party role: long range sniper switching to front-line cork/meatwall when it's time to protect the squishies (given the various "come to me" will-save feats and spells for paladins to coerce enemies into facing him personally, they do not face the "Hey! Stop ignoring me!" problem commonly faced by other melee builds).

Feat exploit #1: Quick Draw: never loses a pending iterative attack after dropping a solitary melee opponent with his first attack (because you'll show the shield as a free-action, quickdraw your bow and snap off a shot any remaining target).

Feat exploit #2: Power Attack -1 (actually +1 versus base when charging) converts into +6 damage when two-handing a lance charge.

Starting feats (as small race):
1. Mounted Combat (add riding dog to necessary equipment list)
3. Quick Draw
5. Ride By Attack
7. Power Attack (STR should be 14 now with a DEX/STR belt)
9. Selective Channeling

Starting feats (as human):
1. Quick Draw, Mounted Combat (add heavy war horse to equipment list)
3. Power Attack
5. Ride By Attack
7. Selective Channeling

(Note that Ride By comes at 5th to line up with arrival of the mount, thereby keeping rebound damage low.)

...other desired feats at some point: Wheeling Charge

Rationale for not taking Furious Focus or Spirited Charge early: we'll be charging and Power Attacking reasonably often, but not enough to justify more up-the-chain feats. (When we charge, we shouldn't have trouble hitting anyway; we should also reliably kill most targets in one or two hits anyway once we're in the mid-levels -- Spirited Charge usually represents wasted overkill. But, we'd probably take it after the basics are squared away.)

Rationale for taking no archery feats whatsoever: Point Blank Shot... only useful when enemies are within 30' but more than 5' away (at higher level they'll be farther away, or right in your face, or have reach, further reducing the viable distance window of PBS). Precise Shot: confers no benefit unless foe is in melee...with someone other than you (unless you've sacrificed other aspects to acquire the ability to deploy your bow in melee without incurring AoOs). Rapid/Many -- they are nice, but cost you four feats to acquire. So: *flush* the wad.

Rationale for not taking the Divine Hunter archetype: two reasons: First, the CRB paladin is hugely strong, secondly, anytime we need Precise Shot, the target is almost certainly within out move-and-clobber range (and the target will usually be picking on an ally who is less tough than we are).

The essence of switch-hitter is flexibility: we ride, we shoot, we swing, we buff, we block the doorway, we mass heal.


Sir Thugsalot, thank you for your input on my guide! I shall attempt to respond to your input as identified by number.

#1: I recognize that channel energy is a burst effect, but the paladin has better uses of their time (and abilities) than to do so as a standard action. The downside to using channel energy (particularly when it is likely to be needed most) is that every time the paladin uses it, it consumes two uses of their Lay on Hands ability, which is far more valuable given its speed of use upon themselves.

#2: I do not encourage dipping in my guide. As I have stated to previous respondents, if you're looking for a guide that does encourage dipping, this is not the guide for you, particularly since it would bloat the guide to the point of being an encyclopedia unto itself. Granted, there is an error in the guide where it does encourage dipping, which I plan to remove whenever I reconstruct this file from scratch (as I have lost the original file due to hard drive failure).

#3: The Gnome race does not add anything particular to the archer paladin that is not done better by several other races, nor is the archer primarily defined by the utility of their mount. I believe that you may be attempting to conflate the role of the archer with that of the lancer.

#4: Aegis paladins are rated as they are for very good reason; I would refer you to their entry on p. 4 of the guide.

#5: I don't talk about traits in my guide. There is a better guide out there that discusses them without me having to go into it. Perhaps you should leave that comment there.

#6: Your switch-hitter build does not offer enhancement over other builds; it does what the rest do, but not as well as they do them. Your particular switch-hitter build most closely follows the lancer paradigm with Quick-Draw and Selective Channeling thrown in (which does nothing in particular for a Lancer). While flexibility is fine, it is not an optimal use of a paladin's gifts and makes them significantly less optimal when compared to the specialist (which is a problem for any switch-hitting build). Additionally, by ignoring enhancement into certain areas (like archery feats, for example), you do not create a switch-hitter that is in any way better than a specialist who simply grabs another weapon in terms of their fighting effectiveness. A lancer who grabs a bow is not disadvantaged in any way (minus the ability to quick-draw) than your switch-hitter build, for example, but the lancer is better focused in their primary role.

But thank you for getting me to think about it all. Cheers!

Owner - October Country Comics, LLC.

As a relatively new Paladin player i wish to say thank you for this guide. Since you are completely redoing this guide is it safe to assume you'll be freshening things up and adding any new material that has come out? If this is so i look forward to giving it a read.


When I am able to rework the guide, there will be freshening up to include for new materials and a few suggestions that have resulted from this thread (including, but not limited to further consideration for the fey foundling feat, the Shining Knight, Sacred Servant, etc...).

Shadow Lodge

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Bodhizen wrote:
Sir Thugsalot, thank you for your input on my guide! I shall attempt to respond to your input as identified by number.

Your welcome.

"To the lists for some friendly sparring!"

Quote:
#1: I recognize that channel energy is a burst effect, but the paladin has better uses of their time (and abilities) than to do so as a standard action. The downside to using channel energy (particularly when it is likely to be needed most) is that every time the paladin uses it, it consumes two uses of their Lay on Hands ability, which is far more valuable given its speed of use upon themselves.

Here's an encounter I faced in Living Greyhawk: PCs are trooping through a dim-light stronghold at APL-12, and nobody notices the four mook sorcerers hiding in alcoves three stories up. First round has four Fireballs overlapping the party. Nice li'l soften-up damage to whittle the PCs down.

First turn options are....

a) kick in your flying gear and Power-charge one opponent (nailing him to the wall like a bug on a pin), or...

b) machine-gun one of them to death, and maybe tickle a second (if you're an archer-paladin), or....

c) mass-heal all of your allies of half or more of the enemy's entire output of damage that round.

Purpose builds are undeniably effective at a) and b), but the "action economy" resultant from c) is the attrition game-winner in this type of encounter (depending upon the offensive and/or healing capabilities of your allies, or course) -- and it's especially the best choice if you're high in initiative (meaning you don't know if your allies' counter-attack will do well) or low (and your allies mostly whiffed and nobody else healed, meaning they'd be reamed again next turn by a still-fresh enemy while down a lot of health).

I would argue that Channeling at-distance is the #1 means of PC death-avoidance in module play. (Can you Channel heal the swallowed person? Yes you can!) In convention module play, you are also never assured of party composition; in such cases, the flex-paladin w/Dangerously Curious can be the ultimate PC well-versed in offensive and defensive melee, movement/mounted, artillery, making saves, healing, and even arcane utility casting off scrolls.

Another encounter, from PFS module Tier 6-7 play: the PCs are in a dead-end room (accessed by 5' wide corridor) and about to leave when the encounter begins as bad guys arrive from the outside. The opposition are buffed tank fighter mooks with polearms who turtled up blocking the exit, and an APL+2 evil cleric who stood behind them channeling negative energy into the room (affecting everywhere but the distance corners). The party (convention-mustered) had plenty of on-hand healing, but did not have a divine caster with Positive Channeling or Mass spells; and, while the PCs had very crunchy offensive striking power, nobody was built to shoehorn tanks out of hallways. -- It ended up being an exceptionally dangerous encounter with half the party below zero at one point (and in immanent danger of inst-dying the next round from another negative channeling wave), and resulted in one PC death (from Empowered Searing Light, after eating negative channels).

-- But it would have been a cake-walk if we'd anyone with positive channeling or Mass healing.

Quote:
#6: Your particular switch-hitter build most closely follows the lancer paradigm with Quick-Draw and Selective Channeling thrown in (which does nothing in particular for a Lancer). While flexibility is fine, it is not an optimal use of a paladin's gifts and makes them significantly less optimal when compared to the specialist (which is a problem for any switch-hitting build).

1) The problem for the specialist is that he's a one-trick pony -- when he's knocked off his "A"-game, he often has nothing else in his bag of tricks (example: the CON:10 archer trapped in a corner by a neutral reach-monster with DR is in for a world of pain). The switch-hitter, by contrast, strives for "B"-game in the most scenarios possible. E.g., in this example, "I Quick Draw my bardiche and Power Attack twice, then equip my shield as a free action."

2) Two of the paladins most important "gifts" (aside from best-in-game channeling) are d10s and exceptional AC (best in game versus smite buddies). Forcing yourself to be the target of many whiffs (when the enemy would rather attack your allies) is one of the more advantageous tactics available to you. With your swift lay-on-hands ability, you numerically have more hitpoints at your disposal than most barbarians.


Sir Thugsalot,

Thank you again for your response. I will try to address things as succinctly as I am able.

With regard to the channel positive energy discussion, I would first like to point out that my guide is not geared toward PFS play, and there are many elements of the guide that are not allowed in PFS play.

Having said that, we'll analyse Channel Positive Energy more directly. Assuming an 18 in any relevant scores (because a dedicated healer will want to have the best scores if possible), but no other enhancements, we shall compare the paladin with the cleric in terms of Channel Positive Energy at 4th level (when the Paladin gets it). At 4th level, the paladin begins with a CPE of 2d6 that he/she can use 7 times per day, while the cleric has a CPE of 2d6 that he/she can use 7 times per day. The paladin does not have the cleric at a disadvantage except in that many of the paladin's special abilities are Charisma-based and Charisma is a determining factor in how many times the CPE is used per day. However, it's not unreasonable for either character to have an 18 Charisma (and high scores in other relevant areas) to take advantage of any healing that needs to be done.

In either case, both characters will do 14-42 points of healing (as a standard action, and action economy is relevant) to characters within 30', but you run the risk of healing enemies along with allies in combat (though as you do point out, for the cost of one of your feats, which is an expensive price to pay, you can exclude up to 4 enemies through the use of Selective Channeling with Charisma 18, though you don't recommend it until level 9). Mid-combat healing is a risk via the use of CPE.

A sample 4th level wizard opponent is capable of inflicting 4d6 points of damage to you and your allies with a single invocation of Fire Breath (provided you and your friends fall within the cone of effect). We'll say, for the sake of argument, that you're a part of a party of 4, and that all 4 of you get scorched (to compare the economy of your paladin's actions). You all take 4d6 damage on the wizard's action, and you heal 2d6 points of damage on yours. Not a horrible use of your time, but not the most efficient, as you're still down 2d6 points and the wizard will cast again on his action. You won't be keeping up with the wizard, and you could make better use of your time by making him dead. Of course, since the wizard is also within your CPE's range, you've also healed him of 2d6 points of damage, and he thanks you for it.

Unfortunately, if your paladin is your healer of choice, at 4th level (ignoring the CPE), they are still at a disadvantage when compared to a cleric of equivalent level who can drop his/her spells for an additional 4 cure light wounds (at 1d8+4/spell) and 3 cure moderate wounds (at 2d8+4/spell). This is not to say that the paladin's healing abilities are useless, merely that it is not the optimal use of your paladin's talents. The rest of the "jack of all trades" talents can be accomplished by nearly any character class. This does not mean that this is not a valid use of any character, but it is not specifically an optimal one.

The scenarios that you've posed are certainly challenging, and should one find themselves as they only healer in the party, they may desire gearing themselves toward the best healing that they can muster; my guide is not geared toward generalisation of characters to accommodate for any role a party may require, but for optimising the character's potential in the roles that they're best suited for.

Moving on...

Sure, the specialist can become a one-trick pony (if you're careless), but even the castigator that is extremely good with the battleaxe is equal in fighting ability to your previously detailed jack-of-all-trades when both of them grab a bow. The danger in the jack-of-all-trades build is that while you're able to put yourself into a number of situations and have some utility, there's likely going to be someone better at it than you are, and you're likely to take a back seat while that character shines. The idea is to not make your specialist useless and hopefully to your talents in with the rest of the party. That is part of the design feature of assembling a party; different talents for different jobs.

With regard to your second point about a paladin's most important gifts, I would disagree that high hit points and armour class are their most important gifts, but that may likely be a matter of opinion. As I've stated a number of times both in my guide and in this thread, one of the most disadvantageous things that you can do to your party is to power-turtle; effectively make yourself a target that your enemies want to save for last while they savage your allies. It's great for solo-play, which is why I recommend it for anti-paladins (who likely don't care as much about their allies getting wasted anyway), but for group play, a clever GM will avoid you or swarm you with just enough to keep you occupied while he or she takes down your friends. If your enemy would rather attack your allies, they will find a way to do so, and your lay-on-hands will count for naught if you're not a juicy enough target to take damage. It is wise to take care in balancing out your damage output and your defensive capability. Your damage output can go as high as you want without worrying about it; your foes won't want to take damage anyway, so it's not a concern that it'll ever become too high. Your party likely isn't blunt enough to take on an enemy power-turtle while letting his squishy allies pound on you. Why should your enemy be that foolish?

Thanks again for your commentary. Best wishes!

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
I would first like to point out that my guide is not geared toward PFS play
There are a lot of PFS players in Pathfinder (and they may very well be in the majority for all I know). PFS module encounters frequently employ terrain and vision/line-of-sight difficulties in the Tier 6+ levels.
Quote:
In either case, both characters will do 14-42 points of healing (as a standard action, and action economy is relevant) to characters within 30', but you run the risk of healing enemies along with allies in combat (though as you do point out, for the cost of one of your feats, which is an expensive price to pay, you can exclude up to 4 enemies through the use of Selective Channeling with Charisma 18, though you don't recommend it until level 9).
Regards action-economy, I'll do the channel when circumstances deny me a full-attack. Selective Channeling isn't an important feat at low level (it really comes into play later on when the opposition does stuff like Summon into the midst of the party, then layer over a blast spell whose element type the summoned creatures are immune to).
Quote:
one of the most disadvantageous things that you can do to your party is to power-turtle; effectively make yourself a target that your enemies want to save for last while they savage your allies.

Well, that's generally not been a problem in any of the games I've played the switch-hitter. Then again, I keep mine mobile in mithral armor (UMD'ing Longstrider pre-combat); add polearm, and you're locking down battlefield choke-points very nicely when the enemies try that ignore-the-tough-guy/hit-the-squishies trick.

Note that the switch-hitter works right out of the box at 1st level (if he takes Quick Draw at 1st, and starts with a credible melee physique), whereas the CON-ignoring archer takes quite a while to line up all his feats. PBS/PS/RS/MS/DA...that's five feats devoted to one combat style in a class which doesn't receive bonus feats (aside from Divine Hunter), plus another set-aside for whatever mechanism you employ to not provoke in melee. This may not be an issue in the paladin built for high-level combat, or "garaged" on a spreadsheet while collected PFS GM credits, but thy are big concerns in the lower level games, especially when the opposition isn't evil and the archer is dishing out considerably less damage than bow fighters, "bowbarians" and zen monks (in fact this problem persists to higher levels, as the paladin cannot deploy Deadly Aim as efficiently as other bow-wielding classes versus non-evil). Casters with winds spells shut him right out of the fight.


Sir Thugsalot,

Thank you once again for taking the time to respond. I'll do my best to address your concerns.

#1: "There are a lot of PFS players in Pathfinder..." While this is true, what is allowable for PFS play is more limited than what's available for Pathfinder, and my guide is geared toward what's available. If you see something in the guide that isn't allowed in PFS play, user discretion is advised.

#2: "Regards action economy..." That's a personal choice factor; it is not always the optimal use of a paladin's action. As this is an optimization guide, I lean toward optimal use.

#3: "Well, that's generally not been a problem in any of the games I've played the switch hitter..." Again, I must point out that while you may prefer the switch-hitter, it is not the optimal use of a paladin's talents. As I have pointed out to another respondent, if you are looking for the "generic guide to absolutely any way in which paladins could be played", this is not the guide for you.

#4: "Note that switch-hitter works right out of the box at 1st level..." The same can be said of any of the archetypes presented in the optimisation guide. An archer paladin that does not prioritise Constitution still retains their d10 hit points, which is one of the primary factors in why an archer paladin does not require Constitution prioritisation. The feat choices do not factor into that.

I'm confused as to why you feel that the paladin cannot deploy Deadly Aim as efficiently as other bow-wielding classes. (I also point out that casters with wind spells can effectively "nerf" any bow-wielder; the paladin is no exception to this. Then again, that's largely what wind spells are for and are part of the design balance of Pathfinder in general.) Also important to note that while the paladin is particularly effective against evil opponents, they are no slouches when fighting against non-evil opponents.

I'm not seeing any solid arguments that specifically either promote switch-hitting as an optimal (not merely viable, which I freely admit that it is) paladin build nor arguments that critically lessen the effectiveness of any recommended builds presented.

Best wishes!

Shadow Lodge

Bodhizen wrote:
Again, I must point out that while you may prefer the switch-hitter, it is not the optimal use of a paladin's talents

Well, again, it is the paladin's class virtue is to be generally very good at all aspects of martial combat, and exploiting, in particular, a class healing ability (Lay on Hands) he can deploy as a swift action -- a benefit no other class enjoys. Being an "optimal combat generalist" is therefore one type of optimal build for a paladin. In contrast, it is focusing on combat styles under-utilizing the swift healing class feature which then, arguably, meets a "not the optimal use of a paladin's talents" definition.

A trade-off build may have a min/maxed mechanic, but I wouldn't describe it as optimal for that reason alone. To be optimal, a build should acquire more utility overall than it forfeits.

Quote:
I'm confused as to why you feel that the paladin cannot deploy Deadly Aim as efficiently as other bow-wielding classes.

Note that the context of my remark was non-evil encounters (which will be the majority).

Answer: paladins lack the attack bonus to get in their iteratives versus non-evil. Their BAB is perfect, but they won't have the Weapon Training + Gloves of Dueling that bow fighters and sohie monk archers enjoy, or the Pearl of Power-fueled Instant Enemy trick of rangers, or the array of AC-debuffing exploits Zen archers can layer over every shot.

Against non-evil opponents with good AC, the paladin archer who Deadly Aims has a much higher change of missing his iteratives than other classes. E.g., at BAB8, a bow fighter with GWF+WT2+gloves is +5 over the paladin with just WF, meaning the fighter's 2nd iterative is as good as the paladin's main. (A barb4+/fighter8+ "bowbarian" could be +7 over via racking Reckless Abandon+2 into the mix.)

Then factor in another common problem faced by melee-avoiding archers during dungeon crawls: facing soft-cover penalties from their own allies in front of them; i.e., toss in another -4 penalty. "Wallflower" rangers and Zen archers can ignore that at 6th (taking Improved Precise Shot early), as can fighters (with Gloves of Dueling affordable thereabouts for WT+3. Soft-cover annoyances really escalate after allied casters begin popping Summons all the time.


Sir Thugsalot wrote:

Note that the context of my remark was non-evil encounters (which will be the majority).

in which campaign? Most enemies in 99% of published AP are evil aligned...


Bodhizen have you considered adding a section for healing paladin optimization? They're good solid team players without stealing too much limelight (which can be important*) and with the right items and feats they can heal silly amounts of HP damage while still being able to blow up evil things.

* An oath of vengeance paladin would be too powerful in many of the home games I've played.


Sir Thugsalot,

Thanks for continuing the discussion.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
In contrast, it is focusing on combat styles under-utilizing the swift healing class feature which then, arguably, meets a "not the optimal use of a paladin's talents" definition.

I do not feel that you have carefully read through my optimisation guide based upon this statement.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
A trade-off build may have a min/maxed mechanic, but I wouldn't describe it as optimal for that reason alone. To be optimal, a build should acquire more utility overall than it forfeits.

For one definition of optimal, perhaps. An optimal use of abilities maximises strengths while minimising weaknesses; this is not mutually exclusive of specialised builds, nor is it exclusive of builds that maximise utility. It is my feeling that you lean toward utility over all else, and yet, you quote examples where specialised builds will outstrip other builds under a particular set of circumstances. You seem to be arguing both sides.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
paladins lack the attack bonus to get in their iteratives versus non-evil.

I think that you may be misunderstanding how the paladin class functions on a fundamental level.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
Their BAB is perfect, but they won't have the Weapon Training + Gloves of Dueling that bow fighters and sohie monk archers enjoy, or the Pearl of Power-fueled Instant Enemy trick of rangers, or the array of AC-debuffing exploits Zen archers can layer over every shot.

Weapon training only provides a modest bonus, and even with the gloves of dueling does not outmatch a paladin's smite ability. The same holds true of your other examples. They are special considerations that do not affect the utility of Deadly Aim with regard to either the paladin or any other classes.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
Against non-evil opponents with good AC, the paladin archer who Deadly Aims has a much higher change of missing his iteratives than other classes. E.g., at BAB8, a bow fighter with GWF+WT2+gloves is +5 over the paladin with just WF, meaning the fighter's 2nd iterative is as good as the paladin's main. (A barb4+/fighter8+ "bowbarian" could be +7 over via racking Reckless Abandon+2 into the mix.)

Let's look at the numbers.

A level 8 Paladin with Dexterity 13, Deadly Aim (active) and Weapon Focus in Bows (longbow, for example) has a +7 on their attack roll, +6 to damage. With Gloves of Dueling, this remains at +7 on the attack roll, but for 10,000gp more, the paladin would likely go for Greater Bracers of Archery, which would bump their attack bonus up to +9 and the damage bonus to +7.

A level 8 Fighter with Dexterity 13, Deadly Aim (active), Weapon Training with Bows, and Weapon Focus in Bows (longbow, for example) has a +8 on their attack roll, +7 on the damage. With Gloves of Dueling, this increases to +10 on the attack, +9 on the damage. When you add in Greater Weapon Focus, this increases to +11 on the attack, +9 on the damage. A difference, to be sure, but not a much higher miss chance. You're still comparing oranges to apples.

Then you go on to toss in a level 12 Barbarian4/Fighter8, who has a +16 to attack with a bow when you include everything (Dexterity 13, Weapon Focus, Greater Weapon Focus, Weapon Training with Bows, Gloves of Dueling plus Reckless Abandon) and a +11 to damage (while raging, of course). The paladin, at level 12, with no additional feats or items (Dexterity 13, Weapon Focus + Greater Bracers of Archery) than what has been listed before has a +12 to attack, +9 to damage (which bumps up to +16 on the attack [assuming Charisma 18], +21 on damage with smite evil active, +33 to damage if the target is an evil outsider).

These factors do not convince me that Deadly Aim is not worthwhile or as efficient for a paladin as it is for other martial classes.

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
Then factor in another common problem faced by melee-avoiding archers during dungeon crawls: facing soft-cover penalties from their own allies in front of them; i.e., toss in another -4 penalty. "Wallflower" rangers and Zen archers can ignore that at 6th (taking Improved Precise Shot early), as can fighters (with Gloves of Dueling affordable thereabouts for WT+3. Soft-cover annoyances really escalate after allied casters begin popping Summons all the time.

The archer paladin can also ignore those penalties (provided, of course, that they took point blank shot, precise shot and have Dexterity 19).

FangDragon wrote:

Bodhizen have you considered adding a section for healing paladin optimization? They're good solid team players without stealing too much limelight (which can be important*) and with the right items and feats they can heal silly amounts of HP damage while still being able to blow up evil things.

* An oath of vengeance paladin would be too powerful in many of the home games I've played.

I have considered the Healer Paladin role, but I am not currently convinced that this would be an optimal use of a paladin's abilities. Would you care to help me out a bit on this?

Thank you both for your contributions to this conversation.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sure:

Paladins should be full attacking where ever possible, including Hospitaler Paladins. Ideally healing will be done after the combat with wands of cure light wounds and uses of channel positive energy (channel is a separate resource for Hospitalers).

If anyone is going to take damage, you want it to be the paladin since LoH and Hero's Defiance makes them very durable. There are a number of ways to arrange this: being a threat (2h weapon, power attack, smites etc), spells and feats like Antagonize and Compel Hostility, and Shield Other.

If you know a big combat is coming up where mass damage is likely, casting a couple of Shield Others (using a pearl of power if needed) and getting a Bears Endurance cast on you is a sensible precaution.

Shield Other essentially doubles the targets HP (assuming you stay alive) which is great since it allows for better DPS uptime. It also effectively doubles the efficiency of heals on the targets.

If several party members have taken HP damage, a Hospitaler paladin can: swift action LoH on himself, move action for selective quick channel on himself plus party members in range and a standard action to do something else (perhaps cast a spell, or a standard attack, or activate divine bond etc...)

LoH optimization (any paladin can do this):

Consider a level 9 paladin, normally they LoH for 4d6 which is an average of 3.5*4 = 14 hp. With Fey Foundling, Greater Mercy, Bracers of the Merciful Knight they'll be healing for an average of (2 + 3.5) * (4 + 3) = 38.5 hp which is more than double. If that same Paladin used Hero's Defiance they'd heal for an average of (2 + 3.5) * (4 + 3 + 1) = 44 hp.

Channel Positive Energy optimization:

Consider this situation: You have shield other on party members A & B. A & B have have 100 hp and have taken 50 hp damage (they'd be staggered without shield other), and your paladin is on say 75 hp.

For a move action a level 9 Hospitaler paladin with a Phylactery of Positive Channeling and Quick Channel can heal A & B for 5d6 (3.5 * 5 = 17.5 hp average) and himself for 5d6+10 = 27.5 hp average. That may not sound so amazing but considering A & B are taking half damage, it's equivalent to healing somebody without shield other for 35 hp average which is not bad for a move action.

Should you do that every round? No, you'll run out of channels quickly and you want to be full attacking where possible but bundled up with a standard action and a swift action you can still do something pretty useful when you can't full attack for some reason.

Swift Runner's shirt has an interesting synergy with this, once per day you can use your quick action to grant a second move action which you can use to channel energy while full attacking. This can be used offensively too vs undead.

Feats: Fey Foundling (blue), Power Attack (blue), Quick Channel (green), Selective Channel (green), Greater Mercy (green/orange), Toughness (orange)


FangDragon,

Does this not make your paladin a one-trick pony? They're not going to "hold threat" (I only mention this because of your WoW references to DPS), particularly if your opponents recognise that you're just a meat shield and ignore you (one that isn't going to be doing too much, since you won't be contributing effectively in a martial role - not that martial contribution is the be all and end all of gaming, but the paladin is a martial class). Of course, depending on how the battle is going, they could conceivably concentrate all attacks on you in order to drop you first, which could be just as bad.

We'll take your level 9 hospitaler paladin. In your scenario, if Party Members A & B (Hereby known as Abernathy and Benedict) each have 100hp and have taken 50hp of damage, your paladin would have already taken 100hp of damage. We'll assume, for the sake of argument, that your paladin has only used the two invocations of shield other before combat. Let's say that our hospitaler has a Constitution of 16... The paladin would have 126 hit points at maximum (with Toughness, but without other Constitution or hit-point boosting magics) and be down to 26 hit points if not for using any Lay on Hands and/or Channel Positive Energy. Of course, not doing so would be foolish, so we'll say that your paladin has used 2 invocations of his Lay on Hands (but no Channel Positive Energy uses; 25hp of damage per hit is more than reasonable to assume), so he'll be healed of 7d6 ⇒ (1, 3, 5, 6, 6, 6, 5) = 32 (Don't forget about those Bracers of the Merciful Knight and Greater Mercy), and 7d6 ⇒ (3, 2, 4, 2, 2, 5, 6) = 24, or a total of 56 points of damage (plus another 28 points from Fey Foundling). So, your paladin is still at 110hp. So far, your paladin is doing quite well; better than you expected.

We're assuming that your paladin does not have Antagonise, since he's out of feat choices given your earlier selections, but compel hostility is easy enough to overcome, since a simple Will save renders it useless, so I wouldn't recommend counting on it in a pitched battle. Your full attack (with a +2 Flaming Greatsword; not an overbearing or underwhelming weapon given your level) is going to come in at +14/+9 on the attack (not wonderful). Not the best a paladin can do, but we'll assume that he's fighting a CR9 Frost Giant (AC 21; as are Abernathy and Benedict). With the two attacks, he'll probably only hit once; (1d20 + 14 ⇒ (1) + 14 = 15 and 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17), though in this case, he didn't hit at all, unfortunately, and the frost giants have their attacks incoming. (I'll assume that they miraculously all missed this round.)

In the next round, the frost giants attack Abernathy (we'll assume that he gets hit once for 3d6 + 13 ⇒ (3, 1, 6) + 13 = 23 damage), Benedict (assuming that he gets hit once as well for 3d6 + 13 ⇒ (2, 4, 1) + 13 = 20 damage), and the hospitaler once for 3d6 + 13 ⇒ (6, 4, 4) + 13 = 27 damage. Abernathy is now at 37hp, Benedict is at 41, the hospitaler is at 62. He'll use a channel positive energy (selective, of course), a lay on hands and a standard attack, as you recommend. The CPE heals 5d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 1, 2, 2) = 15 points of damage on Abernathy (bringing him back to 53hp), 5d6 ⇒ (4, 2, 6, 2, 4) = 18 points of damage on Benedict (bringing him back to 52), healing himself for 5d6 + 10 ⇒ (3, 1, 1, 3, 1) + 10 = 19 points of damage (back up to 81), using a Lay on Hands (healing himself of 7d6 + 14 ⇒ (3, 5, 1, 4, 1, 4, 6) + 14 = 38; back up to 119), he'll make the Standard Attack (1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33), finally hit his Frost Giant opponent (doing 2d6 + 23 + 2d6 ⇒ (5, 5) + 23 + (2, 4) = 39 points of damage; he's vulnerable to fire). The Frost Giant's down to 102hp. If your allies are doing as well as you are on offense, you're having a very difficult fight. If your allies are doing better than you are in this fight, you may not be pulling your weight (offensively). You're no slouch on the defense, though. It's well worth noting, but you still have a few more rounds to go, and Abernathy and Benedict are looking pretty banged up; it would have been worthwhile to CPE more often and full attack less often in this fight, further reducing the combat effectiveness of the paladin.

The idea has merit. I just like doing the math. Granted, there are a number of assumptions as to how this fight goes, particularly since we don't have all of the variables accounted for (Abernathy and Benedict's classes, weaponry, feats, AC, etc... plus the hospitaler's AC, additional magical items, what exactly happened in the first two rounds of combat and more...), but it's not unreasonable and it only serves to demonstrate the effectiveness of such a combat medic build, though I do have my concerns about the paladin (as a martial class) being fairly ineffectual in their principal role.

Thanks for giving me good reason to consider the build.

Shadow Lodge

gustavo iglesias wrote:
Sir Thugsalot wrote:

Note that the context of my remark was non-evil encounters (which will be the majority).

in which campaign?
PFS, which does not hand the moon to paladins...
Quote:

Most enemies in 99% of published AP are evil aligned...

...on a silver platter.
Bodhizen wrote:
I do not feel that you have carefully read through my optimisation guide based upon this statement.
On the contrary; I read it quite thoroughly and with avid interest since I've played paladins through some pretty harsh situations (higher tier PFS). I simply had some concerns with the archer, 'tis all.Weapon training only provides a modest bonus, and even with the gloves of dueling does not outmatch a paladin's smite ability...

Nobody was arguing otherwise.

I have never had trouble killing evil things with a paladin. Even as a halfling "archer" pressed into melee with a small rapier (STR:12; no PA). In PFS. Once I clobbered a guy with my puny fists, without IUS, eating AoOs every turn.

My concern is for optimization when I'm not smiting evil -- because those are the encounters a paladin can't cake-walk like Dr. Manhattan.


Sir Thugsalot,

Thank you for your responses. The paladin's best trick, of course, is smiting evil, but that does not mean that when a paladin cannot smite evil, they have nothing to do. The class is skill-poor (in balance of some of the other things that the class does, and in deference to its martial status), so attempting to correct for that is somewhat challenging (and is never going to keep up with what a rogue or bard can do, for example).

As for combat effectiveness, take the completely unoptimised paladin, for example. I'll create one at level 9 (since that seems to be right around where the bulk of our discussion has been). Assuming a 15-point buy with Charisma 15 and Strength 16, before feats or magical gear, he's +12 to attack, and does 1d8+3 damage with a normal longsword. That's not frighteningly effective for what a level 9 paladin could do, but it's a baseline. When the paladin smites evil, that jumps to +14 on the attack and he does 1d8+12 damage. Remember, this is before any feats or magical items. Obviously, the optimal opponent for a paladin is going to be an evil creature, but let's look at a series of 3 hits both with and without smite evil.

Standard Hit #1: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18 on the attack, 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5 points of damage on a successful hit.
Standard Hit #2: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15 on the attack, 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4 points of damage on a successful hit.
Standard Hit #3: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17 on the attack, 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7 points of damage on a successful hit.
Standard Smite Evil Hit #1: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (7) + 14 = 21 on the attack, 1d8 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16 points of damage on a successful hit.
Standard Smite Evil Hit #2: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (13) + 14 = 27 on the attack, 1d8 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20 points of damage on a successful hit.
Standard Smite Evil Hit #3: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (8) + 14 = 22 on the attack, 1d8 + 12 ⇒ (1) + 12 = 13 points of damage on a successful hit.

Optimisation is only going to increase this effectiveness. However, when the paladin attempts to Lay on Hands (remember, without any optimisation whatsoever and before feats or magical items), he's curing 4d6 points of damage, and with Channel Positive Energy, he can burst-cure 5d6 points of damage. With another 3 & 3 example, we'll see what the healing looks like.

Lay on Hands #1:4d6 ⇒ (3, 6, 5, 3) = 17 points of damage cured as a swift action on himself.
Lay on Hands #2:4d6 ⇒ (3, 6, 4, 4) = 17 points of damage cured as a swift action on himself.
Lay on Hands #3:4d6 ⇒ (3, 5, 1, 3) = 12 points of damage cured as a swift action on himself.
Channel Positive Energy #1:5d6 ⇒ (4, 4, 1, 5, 4) = 18 points of damage cured as a burst-effect standard action.
Channel Positive Energy #2:5d6 ⇒ (4, 1, 4, 4, 3) = 16 points of damage cured as a burst-effect standard action.
Channel Positive Energy #3:5d6 ⇒ (3, 3, 6, 4, 5) = 21 points of damage cured as a burst-effect standard action.

Before any enhancements whatsoever, the paladin is still quite effective. Taking the CR9 Frost Giant from my example with FangDragon, we'll see what 3 of his hits look like. Since our paladin is not optimised, we'll say for the sake of argument that the Frost Giant is not making any full-round attack actions.

Standard Frost Giant Attack #1: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (11) + 18 = 29 on the attack, 3d6 + 13 ⇒ (6, 5, 3) + 13 = 27 points of damage.
Standard Frost Giant Attack #2: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (20) + 18 = 38 on the attack (1d20 + 18 ⇒ (11) + 18 = 29 for the confirmation, which is likely successful given no magical items), 9d6 + 39 ⇒ (1, 4, 1, 6, 1, 3, 1, 3, 1) + 39 = 60 points of damage.
Standard Frost Giant Attack #3: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (1) + 18 = 19 on the attack, 3d6 + 13 ⇒ (3, 1, 6) + 13 = 23 points of damage.

Sure, that critical hit really hurts, but using the listed attack values (and knowing the Frost Giant's AC is 21; plus the paladin will smite since he knows that Frost Giants are evil), the Frost Giant has taken 3 hits (49 points of damage, but the paladin healed him inadvertently for 34 of those points because he lacks selective channeling, so he's really only down 15 points) from an unoptimised paladin with substandard gear. Assuming our paladin has an AC of 21 as well (we'll have given him heavy plate and a heavy wooden shield), he's taken 2 hits (87 points of damage), but managed to heal back up to full on round 1 (27 points of damage taken, 35 points healed between LoH & CPE), and healed 33 of the 60 points of damage from round 2, so he's down by 27 points. Not awful for a completely unoptimised paladin, even if he is losing this fight so far.

The paladin is under-equipped, has zero feats selected, and aside from a lucky shot by the Frost Giant, he's not doing too shabby (even if he could be doing considerably better). No matter how you've attempted to prepare your paladin for what you want him to do, he's not ineffective in combat. Sure, it's not a Dr. Manhattan cakewalk, but then, I did put our poor paladin at a pretty severe disadvantage, even if he is smiting evil. Had I instead given the paladin halfway decent gear (a +2 flaming longsword, +2 full plate, a +1 heavy wooden shield; AC 24), even without feats, or smiting, he'd be better off after 3 rounds (3 attacks at 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (9) + 14 = 23, 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17, and 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33 {1d20 + 14 ⇒ (7) + 14 = 21 for confirmation}; 2 hits, 1 of them critical) and a total of 41 points of damage (1d8 + 5 + 1d6 ⇒ (3) + 5 + (4) = 12 damage on the first hit, 2d8 + 10 + 2d6 ⇒ (7, 5) + 10 + (2, 5) = 29 on the critical hit). After the healing, the paladin is down 27 points of damage, the frost giant is down 7. Not quite as good as the smite, but it still doesn't account for feats (of which a paladin has between 5 and 6 to choose from in order to boost combat effectiveness), nor does it account for any other magical items that might increase combat effectiveness. Selective channeling by itself would have given the advantage to the paladin.

This is all academic, since paladins are not smite-or-stand-aside characters. Optimisation is not dependent upon smiting, but the smiting sweetens the deal.


Bodhizen wrote:

FangDragon,

Does this not make your paladin a one-trick pony?

I guess that's going to depend on the DM. If you running an AP like Rappan Athuk with a killer DM then sure break out the oath of vengeance archer builds and blow stuff up, but I'm pretty sure for every one of those there's 3-4 where a core paladin with power attack / deadly aim with sensible stats and items is pretty potent.

Bodhizen wrote:
They're not going to "hold threat"

There is going to be enormous table variance on how this works, so I doubt it's possible to say much beyond I think a full attacking paladin is likely a significant threat and 2h or archer paladins tend to have lowish AC. Psychologically the DM will know they don't have to pull punches vs the paladin which can be a factor if everyone else has sky high AC.

Bodhizen wrote:
just a meat shield and ignore you (one that isn't going to be doing too much

Allowing any full BAB character to set up flanks and land full attacks doesn't seem a good idea to me. Of course if the other party members are synthesist summoners and optimized rage cycling barbarians you have a point here, and in that circumstance I'd likely not recommend a Hospitaler (I personally rate the build as green).

I'd like to make a few points about in combat healing:

1. AoE Healing is usually to buy time, quite often lasting a couple of extra rounds is enough to avoid a TPK.
2. Bad dice rolls happen, e.g. somebody gets crit with a 4x weapon. Paladins have limited spells per day but I find paladin's sacrifice situationally awesome.
3. Non-archers can't always full attack (e.g. you kill a mook with your first hit and the next target is 3 squares away).
4. You want to cast a buff mid combat and you don't need your move action for something else.

Finally in 9/10 combats I use channels only after the fight. They're a free resource and it's much faster than using wands. I've had some DMs that like spring random encounters when a party spends ages using wands of CLW to heal up.


So I've recently read your guide. I really like it. After reading the effects of archery I've fallen in love with it and wouldn't mind a little guidance. This character is for PFS

STATS: I've two arrays so far but am SURE I'm going to be human for the feat.

STR: 14 DEX: 16 CON: 13 INT: 7 WIS: 7 CHA: 16
STR: 12 DEX: 16 CON: 12 INT: 7 WIS: 10 CHA: 16

FEATS: I'll start as a divine hunter and then switch at 2 to oath of vengeance.

H: Point blank shot
1: Precise shot
3: Rapid shot
5: Deadly aim
7: Many shot
9: Imp Critical
11: Imp Precise shot

Skills
Diplomacy

Traits
Reactionary
Something else Possibly +1 to a save

I was curious what I could alter to play this in PFS. It seems like there aren't any feat choices that would really help me more than the required archery feats. As for what weapon I'm inclined to take something like +1 shocking or +1 acid as your to hit is really high for this build especially when smiting.


FangDragon,

Thank you for your reply. You may have noticed that you already convinced me of the potential efficacy of the build, so this is more an academic discussion for us at this point.

I feel that it is important to note that "good enough" or "pretty potent" works perfectly well in many campaigns (where the GM will naturally tailor the encounters to the party), and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that style of play. However, it is not necessarily optimal, which is the goal of the guide.

As for castigator or archer paladins having lower armour class, this does not necessarily hold true, though certainly in the case of the archer, armour that is too heavy can impede their combat effectiveness. The GM is going to tailor the encounter around the party, as we all know. However, the GM can always tailor an encounter to crack the shell of anyone in the party if they so choose. Should they choose to do so, any party member can become a target for a heap of abuse. Of course, your antagonists are not necessarily stupid. If you see the foe that none of your party can hit, let alone damage, are you going to go right for him and risk death, retreat, or whittle down his allies so that you and your pals can gang up on him? Your opponents have the same capacity to reason most times, which is why I discourage power-turtling (and consequently, the meat-shield who doesn't do much else).

Sure, channeling positive energy at 5d6 a shot is going to be more efficient for healing than using a wand of Cure Light Wounds, but not significantly more efficient than using a wand of Cure Critical Wounds (which isn't an extraordinary item to have at 9th level) depending on how many people you're using you CPE on (provided that you have the ability to CPE after the combat is finished; your LoH will eat into this and the less combat-efficient you are, the greater the chance that you're going to need to heal during combat). Thankfully, out-of-combat healing does not necessarily require the same urgency of healing as in-combat healing, and so it is more likely that you'll use one or more iterations of your LoH ability. Random encounters right after combat (and during subsequent healing) are something that I might discourage (mostly because it's a dick move unless there's some story-driven purpose), but I understand that not every GM does things the same way.

To address your points:
1. AoE healing is not the paladin's purview alone. However, to get to the level of healing efficiency that we've been talking about, the paladin suffers quite a bit as a martial class. Saving the AoE healing for after combat when you've sacrificed combat efficiency increases the chances that you'll need to use your LoH more, effectively decreasing your chances of having CPE remaining after combat.
2. Yes, bad dice rolls happen. I'm not sure what that has to do with the discussion.
3. While this is true, the paladin is not without options even if she's not healing.
4. Not sure where you were going with this.

Best wishes!


Undone,

Thanks for your interest in the Guide. The character you're proposing cannot add in the Oathbound Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) archetype after first level, and it doesn't combine with the Divine Hunter (as they both replace your Aura of Justice. As for what you want to play in Pathfinder Society, you should speak to your GM and have them help you construct your character; I don't generally limit things to only what's allowed in Pathfinder Society play, so I'm not the best person to ask about it.

Best wishes!


Bodhizen wrote:

Undone,

Thanks for your interest in the Guide. The character you're proposing cannot add in the Oathbound Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) archetype after first level, and it doesn't combine with the Divine Hunter (as they both replace your Aura of Justice. As for what you want to play in Pathfinder Society, you should speak to your GM and have them help you construct your character; I don't generally limit things to only what's allowed in Pathfinder Society play, so I'm not the best person to ask about it.

Best wishes!

I was actually talking about the rebuild rules. At level 2 I'll lose the divine hunter and gain oath.

As a side note which one of the two is better? I'd lean toward oath but am not sure if there is a feat that can compare to 2-3 bonus smites.

I looked at your guide and agreed with you on almost all of the points you made me want to build the archer.


Undone wrote:


I was actually talking about the rebuild rules. At level 2 I'll lose the divine hunter and gain oath.

As a side note which one of the two is better? I'd lean toward oath but am not sure if there is a feat that can compare to 2-3 bonus smites.

I looked at your guide and agreed with you on almost all of the points you made me want to build the archer.

I guess I'm confused as to why you would keep the Divine Hunter archetype for level 1, but ditch it at level 2. What do you expect will be going on at level 1 that will not continue from level 2 onward?


Bodhizen wrote:
Undone wrote:


I was actually talking about the rebuild rules. At level 2 I'll lose the divine hunter and gain oath.

As a side note which one of the two is better? I'd lean toward oath but am not sure if there is a feat that can compare to 2-3 bonus smites.

I looked at your guide and agreed with you on almost all of the points you made me want to build the archer.

I guess I'm confused as to why you would keep the Divine Hunter archetype for level 1, but ditch it at level 2. What do you expect will be going on at level 1 that will not continue from level 2 onward?

Oath gains me no benefit at level 1. Divine hunter does. My leaning was that extra smites was better than a feat and some rather meh effects from other abilities.

It lets me have rapid shot for a level lose it for a level then regain it at 3rd.

My question to you is do you think divine hunter or OoV is better?

Hunter gives you things sooner and lets you squeeze in an extra feat but I wasn't sure if any extra feat equated to more smites.

Shadow Lodge

Undone wrote:

So I've recently read your guide. I really like it. After reading the effects of archery I've fallen in love with it and wouldn't mind a little guidance. This character is for PFS

STATS: I've two arrays so far but am SURE I'm going to be human for the feat.

STR: 14 DEX: 16 CON: 13 INT: 7 WIS: 7 CHA: 16
STR: 12 DEX: 16 CON: 12 INT: 7 WIS: 10 CHA: 16

Note: there are a LOT of skill-checks in PFS; and completing your faction assignments (for acquiring prestige and access to equipment) is highly dependent upon them. It's not all Perception and Diplomacy either; you will also make Swim, Climb and Acrobatics checks -- not necessarily with regularity, but enough times that you won't forget how bad it sucked when you didn't make DC10. Therefore, I'd be leery of 7 INT in any PFS build aside from "stupid rogues".

While CON is more necessary in PFS than in a home game (where you may habitually enjoy the luxury of your archer always being in the background), 16 is probably overboard in a paladin (especially a high-AC one who doesn't forfeit LoH).

For PFS, I can't recommend the 15/14/14/14/12/07 20pt pre-racial array highly enough.

Note the PFS characters retire after 12th; and higher-level tables are often hard to muster -- I'd focus on making a character who is "solid" by 3rd level. (I recently played a min/maxed 07/19 STR/DEX TWF character who wouldn't "shine" until acquiring the Agile enhancement...and it was an excruciating ordeal getting there.)

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