So our group is gearing up for WotR here in about a week. Since it seems to be heavily hinted at in the PG that there be a Paladin, and no one else has offered in our group, I'll be taking on the role of a Paladin of Iomedae. It's been a few years, so I'm actually looking forward to playing one again.
That being said, as I understand it from the PG, I hear there might be a chance of some demon/devil folks popping up in this AP. ;-)
So I'm thematically interested in the Sacred Shield/Guardian combo for obvious reasons. In reading the "Heroes of the Fifth Crusade" thread (I try to stay away from the spoiler threads), obviously a ton of Paladins in there. Here's my question for all of you who've played through this AP with Paladins (or not too!):
Do you believe some fights might have been lost if the Paladin didn't have the Smite ability to bypass DR?
(and yes, I understand that APs aren't designed around one specific class ability, merely curious to hear some opinions/experiences)
Dr definitely hinders the damage output, though you get access to an item that can help the party get around that fairly easily if they get some warning. Haven't gotten past the first book but it will be interesting to see since we don't run with the rule that enhancement bonuses bypass material and alignment DR, but my players are also pretty savvy. Smite is very nice though and technically it bypasses epic DR, something that no one else will be able to do for a while in the AP.
As a GM I have to say: play what you want. Seriously. So you don't have Smite Evil to overcome DR. The game is not built with the assumption there IS a Paladin available. In addition, you will hopefully gain access to a weapon capable of overcoming DR fairly early within the game (ie, it's a cold iron weapon, despite its coloration).
So play what you will and have fun with it. Don't worry about Smite Evil and the like.
However, it will make many of the BBEG fights easier. Then again, that's one of the primary foci of a paladin (fighting evil); it's not a big surprise that an Adventure Path about the Mendevian Crusade would feature a lot of fights against evil foes where a paladin can shine.
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Now, I've only played into Book 2 (as a Magus) but I've found that I have more ways of dealing with DR than I know what to do with. I've never felt I struggled for the lack of a Smite.
Put simply, Mythic changes everything.
Mythic arcane strike, is sooooo good, you can pretty much kill demon lords with a spoon.
One of my players does indeed play a sacred shield paladin of Iomedae. It is pretty effective. He does not intend to do very much damage, he is very contend to be the party tank. The smite evil replacement ability is quite effective and I actually worry, that it will become too good once he boosts his Charisma.
He is a Guardian (the campaign trait is pretty awesome for Guardians) with dual path Marshal, I am currently busy to post about my campaign in another thread, and will post their current characters (Level 6 Tier 1) and my projections soon. But since that is a giant spoiler, here are some of my player characters:
Male Angel-Blooded Aasimar (Angelkin) Paladin (Sacred Shield) 6/Guardian 1
LG Medium outsider (native)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 23 (+9 armor, +4 shield, +1 Dex)
hp 87 (6d10+47)
Fort +13, Ref +7, Will +9
Defensive Abilities hard to kill; Immune disease, fear; Resist acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5
Speed 20 ft.
Melee heavy shield bash +11/+6 (1d4+5/×2) and
. . +1 cold iron longsword +12/+7 (1d8+6/19-20/×2) and
. . gauntlet (from armor) +11/+6 (1d3+5/×2) and
. . radiance +12/+7 (1d8+6/19-20/×2) and
. . unarmed strike +11/+6 (1d3+5/×2)
Special Attacks mythic power (5/day, surge +1d6)
. . At will—detect evil
Paladin (Sacred Shield) Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +6):
1st (2/day)— divine favor, challenge evil (DC 14),
Str 20, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 22
Feats Combat Expertise, Dual Path [M], Saving Shield, Shield Focus
Traits exposed to awfulness, natural-born leader
Skills Acrobatics -5 (-9 jump), Appraise +3, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +10, Handle Animal +7, Heal +7, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Knowledge (religion) +7, Perception +2, Ride -1, Sense Motive +6, Spellcraft +7, Stealth -5, Use Magic Device +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Heal
Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic, Sylvan
SQ aura of courage, aura of good, bastion of good, divine bond, holy shield, lay on hands, mercies (mercy [fatigued], mercy [staggered])
Other Gear Armor of the pious (1/day), Full plate, +1 Heavy steel shield, +1 Cold Iron Longsword, Radiance, Pauldrons of unflinching fortitude +1/+2, Righteous medal of valor, Righteous medal of vigor, Gear maintenance kit, Grooming kit, Paladin's kit, 248 GP
Absorb Blow (5 damage) (Su) As an imm action, use 1 power when dam to absorb listed amount to gain epic DR and Resist.
Aura of Courage +4 (10' radius) (Su) You are immune to Fear. Allies within aura gain a morale bonus to saves vs Fear.
Aura of Good (Ex) The paladin has an Aura of Good with power equal to her class level.
Bastion of Good (10 ft) (2/day) (Su) One foe does ½ dam to allies in aura, full to self, +4 deflect to AC.
Clarion Call (1 rds) (Ex) As a swift action, use 1 power temporarily grant allies in 30 ft your active smite/challenge.
Combat Expertise +/-2 Bonus to AC in exchange for an equal penalty to attack.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Decisive Strike (Su) As a swift action, use 1 power to grant an ally in 30 ft an att with a +1 bonus that bypasses all DR.
Detect Evil (At will) (Sp) You can use detect evil at will (as the spell).
Divine Bond +1 (6 minutes) (Su) Add bonus or properties to shield.
Energy Resistance, Acid (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Acid attacks.
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Exposed to Awfulness (1/day) Vs Death/Incapacitation by demon: Reroll saving throw as free action, keep 2nd result.
Hard to Kill (Ex) Automatically stabilize when dying, and only die at neg Con x 2.
Holy Shield (Adjacent) (Su) Allies in range gain shield bonus to AC equal to the sacred shield's own.
Immunity to Disease You are immune to diseases.
Immunity to Fear (Ex) You are immune to all fear effects.
Lay on Hands (3d6) (6/day) (Su) You can heal 3d6 damage, 6/day
Mercy (Fatigued) (Su) When you use your lay on hands ability, it also removes the fatigued condition.
Mercy (Staggered) (Su) When you use your lay on hands ability, it also removes the staggered condition. This does not help if the target is at 0 HP.
Mythic Power (5/day, Surge +1d6) Use this power to perform your mythic abilities.
Natural-Born Leader Your cohorts, followers, and summoned creatures gain +1 vs. Mind-affecting effects, +1 Leadership score if you have the Leadership feat.
Pauldrons of unflinching fortitude +1/+2 Spend 1 power as immediate action to reroll failed Fortitude save.
Saving Shield As an immediate action, add a 2 shield bonus to an adjacent ally's AC.
Shield Focus +1 Shield AC
Surge (1d6) (Su) Use 1 power to increase any d20 roll by the listed amount.
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What Caius says is true, Cleric is often lumped into that as well. A couple encounters target Dwarves from what I remember as well.
Usually it just says "Obvious followers of Good deities." Or at least that's what I've seen the most of so far. So that means my party's fighter, who's wearing two silver Iomedaean holy symbols around his neck, is basically wearing two big, fat, shiny targets on his chest. But he's built himself to take all the hits for the party anyway, using Bodyguard, the Suicidal Tiefling alternate trait, and In Harm's Way.
On the note of smite evil, my party's paladin bailed on the game and we've been going along fine without it. However, I've still got a 5-player party and they're all 25pt buy characters(no dump stats). We;re also just now reaching the middle of book 1, since it's a PbP. Things may change, but the party has been playing smart so far and seems able to handle themselves.
All Adventure Paths are build on the assumption that any classes can be used for them. In theory, all classes are built equally (though people running Rogues or sword-and-shield fighters might beg to differ). So you could successfully make it through WotR with a fighter, rogue, cleric, and wizard and do just fine without Smite Evil or the like.
What matters most is party balance. And the Sacred Shield Paladin does have some significant benefits for protecting the group as a whole. Not being able to overcome damage resistance with a snap of the fingers isn't that big a deal - especially if you have someone with the Marshal or Champion Mythic Path in your team (seriously - the ability to have another player get a free attack that overcomes damage resistance without losing any actions is... devastating when used on a heavy hitter).