First Time Playing Paladin: Help


Hey guys, It's been awhile since I've actually had the chance to play as a character in a tabletop game (as I'm usually DMing D&D for my friends). That being said, my buddy wanted to GM a Pathfinder game and asked if I'd like to join. I said yes, and now I'm planning my character.

In the past, I've usually gravitated toward the dedicated spell caster (Wizard, Sorcerer, etc.) but since our other player wanted to run Wizard, I thought I'd go against my usual instincts and shoot for a Paladin. Problem is, I'm having a hard time planning out his progression... even after reading some of the better-known guides.

Optimization isn't a HUGE factor for me (as you'll soon see), but I would like him to be fairly effective on the table. My concept is for a Half-Orc Paladin of Abadar who was taken in by the church as an infant and raised within it. As such, he feels like he has championed over his inner savage nature through faith and believes he can "save" similar creatures from their own beastly stupidity. To that end, I'm using the Redeemer Archetype, and my GM is allowing me to mix it with the Sword of Valor archetype, replacing Aura of Mercy with Worthy Enemy.

I'm planning on using a Merciful Holy Impact Earth-Shaker to deal massive amounts of nonlethal damage to subdue foes, and then use Pact of Peace to turn them. Worthy Enemy allows me to force a creature to surrender on a crit, taking them out of the fight earlier and also opening them up to Pact of Peace. I also planned on using the Eldritch Heritage feat tree to grant access to the Orc Bloodline to pump his strength and give him some extra combat 'oomph'.

Beyond that, I'm not sure where I want to go with it. Paladins seem like they are pretty feat-starved, and the Heritage feats already gobbles up 4 right off the bat. I was thinking maybe Improved Critical and Critical Focus to increase my chances of landing Worthy Enemy, and also grabbing Quicken Spell-Like Ability on Touch of Rage. Maybe Extra Lay on Hands because from what I hear it's worth it.

1. Power Attack
3. Skill Focus [Survival]
5. ?? (Maybe Extra Lay on Hands)
7. ??
9. Improved Critical
11. Improved Eldritch Heritage: Orc [Strength of the Beast]
13. Critical Focus
15. Quicken Spell-Like Ability [Touch of Rage]
17. ??
19. Greater Eldritch Heritage: Orc [Power of Giants]

My other thought was instead forsake Power of Giants and the Critical Feats to spec into Intimidating Prowess/Cornugon Smash/"Shattered Defense" tree to create a demoralizing debuffer. I could also throw in Bludgeoner/Enforcer to get a similar effect off my nonlethal damage... though it's very feat-intensive and I'm not sure if it really pays off on the Paladin. I was also considering going Paladin 19/Fighter 1 or even Paladin 18/Fighter 2 because from what I understand the capstone 'Holy Champion' ability is pretty bad.

Any thoughts of feedback is greatly appreciated! I really want this guy to rock.

Honestly, paladin with power attack is good by itself.

I'm going to suggest something different. Sit down with your GM, and figure out your paladin code. This will solve TONS of arguments later.

Can you retreat?
Can you lie?
Can you leave information out?
What if someone surrenders?
Can you destroy someone's property?

What are the guidelines for a paladin of Abadar? Find out now.

And who cares about the capstone? Will you hit level 20? Really?

Optimize for more fun NOW.

I'm already familiar with the Abadaran Paladin Code; This excerpt is from Faiths of Balance.

"Of all the gods of balance, only one supports and promotes a holy order of paladins: Abadar. As the god of civilization and order, Abadar recognizes the value of holy warriors in advancing society’s aims. His paladins follow the standard paladin code of protecting the innocent, acting with honor and honesty, and respecting lawful authority. In addition, an Abadaran paladin upholds the following creed."
• I am a protector of the roadways and keep travelers from harm. No matter their destinations or goals, if they are peaceable and legitimate travelers who harm no others on the road, I will ensure that they pass safely.
• Bandits are a plague. Under my will they come to justice. If they will not come willingly before the law, where they can protest for justice in the courts, they will come under the power of my sword.
• Corruption in the courts is the greatest corruption of civilization. Without confidence in justice, citizens cannot believe in their countries, and civilization begins to disappear. I will root out corruption wherever I find it, and if a system is fundamentally flawed, I will work to aid citizens by reforming or replacing it.
• I am an aid to the markets. I ensure equitable trade between merchants and citizens. Theft on either side is intolerable.
• I make opportunities, and teach others to recognize them. When I aid others, I open the way for them, but will not carry them—they must take responsibility.

Abadar is Lawful Neutral, so is far more patient and level-minded than a lot of the other more righteous deities. He is more about upholding institutions and maintaining control than he is bringing divine wrath upon anything that smells wicked. Thats why I was going for the whole "reform the villainous" angle... his code even dictates you can bring bandits and other no-goodnicks to justice formally before a court.

A decent combination to boost your Lay on Hands is Fey Foundling (has to be taken at level 1) and Greater Mercy. With those your self heals go from okay-ish to being able to heal through a good chunk of incoming damage.

If you're keen on using non-lethal Damage then the Enforcer feat fits in too. Free action Intimitades when you deal non-lethal, Frightened for 1 round on a crit. You could use the Blade of Mercy trait to deal non-lethal damage with a slashing weapon (with no penalty) too - though I think it's restricted to Sarenrae worshippers. Blade of Mercy's background text really fits with the Redeemer archetype generally.

I recommend:

1. Enforcer
3. Power Attack
5. Furious Focus
7. Radiant Charge
9. Improved Critical
11. Critical Focus

And then your campaign is either over or you can move onto whatever feats you want.

For a half orc paladin seriously consider picking up ferocious resolve. It gives you the full or ferocity which combined with swift lay on hands is huge. If you go for the typical fey foundling greater mercy your character is going to be extremely hard to put down.

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Don't bother with eldritch heritage. You're spending multiple feats for what amounts to a very minor boost.

Silver Crusade

If you're focusing on redemption as a theme, you may want to consider Sarenrae instead of Abadar. She is the goddess of redemption, after all.

Others have already recommended Greater Mercy, which is good, and it also leads to Ultimate Mercy, which is certainly worth considering.

I'll second Fey Foundling - it provides a 57% increase in Lay on Hands effectiveness for your self heals (and +2 save vs death effects, which is always nice to have).

One route to take: Fate's Favored Trait + Sacred Tattoo racial trait. +2 luck bonus to all saves on top of divine grace makes good saves even better. And later on Fate's Favored will boost any other luck bonus, like Divine Favor.

I do not suggest taking Radiant Charge. The damage bonus it offers is tiny compared to the loss of the LoH healing (and by definition it can only be used once per day, whereas other feats are always on).

The Eldritch Heritage feats might be worth if if you want them... the bonuses are just small or come very late. Something like the Enforcer line is probably better for your character concept of turning people through nonlethal damage.

Honestly with Fey Foundling at 1 and Power Attack at 3, you can do anything else you want and still be effective.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
For a half orc paladin seriously consider picking up ferocious resolve. It gives you the full or ferocity which combined with swift lay on hands is huge. If you go for the typical fey foundling greater mercy your character is going to be extremely hard to put down.

I like the idea of being able to fight on and self-heal past being incapacitated... but can't enemies easily insta-kill me after I hit negatives? I mean, most monsters at a high enough level are certainly going to hit for harder than my Constitution Score worth of damage. Or is the idea more that you get KO'd, then choose to fight, and maybe pull off one attack before immediately swift-action healing yourself back into the green ASAP?

Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:

And who cares about the capstone? Will you hit level 20? Really?

Optimize for more fun NOW.

Well, the reason I asked about the capstone wasn't so much so that I was worried about hitting 20. It was more that I could maybe work in a level or two of Fighter during my progression to squeeze in an extra feat or two. Getting two feats on the way to 20 could help him gain a few more martial abilities along the way.

Not many feats are worth it.

Secret Wizard wrote:
Not many feats are worth it.

But are they worth more than the Capstone, is the question (which many people lead me to believe its not).

the question is WHEN would you take the dip? Whenever you do it it'll delay your mercies and divine weapon and it's upgrades and lay on hands uses and how much it heals and smite evil uses and damage. Is a delay on all of that worth the feat you're getting? cause that's what you're trading unless you take your fighter levels at lv 19 and 20, but then you're not really getting use from it as you'll have your feats setup by then.

> Always remember to scream "all heretics burn by my holy sword" before every encounter, never lie, never be subtle with injustices and don't choke on evil people that you target with detect evil, slice 'em up with your greatsword, because shields are not for true godly flagmen.

> If your un-enlightened teammates try to convince you to follow a dark path of lies and passiveness, smite them with your holy wisdom hammer, never lose a moment to share the word of your god with weaker races and never share your money with infidels--or weak people in distress, the valuable goods you carry are set upon the unique purpose of smiting the foes of humanity, you are not a queer cleric.

> Never take out your armor, even if it's for sleeping--take the punishment as the weapon of holy destruction you are, don't take a single point in diplomacy or any charisma skill other than intimidate, let the rebels and the enemies of the divine law, suffer and fear the wrath of the mighty deities!

Remember this careful advice and your journey as a Paladin will be a happy one. Excelsior.

If you're going to be a paladin of Abadar, consider Oath against Chaos. Thematically, it fits. Also, consider becoming a Hellknight.

Most importantly, even though you have a good read on the code, talk it over with your GM. The GM may still expect you to play Lawful Stupid.

The Exchange

Talking it over with the GM is an excellent idea. I also feel you should discuss it a bit with your fellow players. If they suffer from the (sadly common) delusion that a paladin in the group is going to be a buzzkill, you may be able to address their concerns.

Some really great suggestions here so far; thanks to everyone who has contributed.

I think I have a better idea of it now, and all it is from here is planning. I switched a few things around in the concept of the build, but I think it all works for the better.

Half-Orc Paladin of Abadar
Traits: Blade of Mercy, Brute, [Third Trait Undecided]
Drawback: Headstrong

Archetype: *Redeemer, Oath Against Chaos
Weapon: Holy Keen Greatsword of Impact

1. Fey Foundling
3. Power Attack
5. Enforcer
7. Ferocious Resolve
9. Critical Focus
11. Extra Lay On Hands
13. Intimidating Prowess
15. Weapon Focus
17. Dazzling Display
19. Shattered Defense

The build requires just a bit of home-brew fiat by the GM for the Archetypes, but he said he's fine with me having *"Merciful Smite Chaos" and still subbing in the Worthy Enemy feature from Sword of Valor into level 14. He also didn't mind the Blade of Mercy trait, seeing as it worked for the character. This allows me to use a slashing weapon with nonlethal damage so I can drop Improved Critical for Keen and free up a Feat for Ferocious Resolve.

I ended up really liking the Fey Foundling feat, especially since his backstory involves him being found in the wilds as a baby and being brought to the Church. I think the progression I have here is the best possible one for my concept in mind... it gives him all the cool stuff he needs up front to Level 11-ish and then finishes off with fun/utilitarian stuff.

Any other suggestions before I cement him in? I think this is strong but last-minute ideas are always welcome.

If you do want to dip then I would take a long hard look at one level of Life Oracle around level 3. Life Link + swift action lay on hands is a pretty sweet combat heal combo.

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