Paladin Problem Design....REACTIVE not PROACTIVE


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I have a huge problem with Paladins in this edition after my love for them in 1E, and that is the focus around Retrebutive Strike.

For many paladin feats, and enemy must not A) Be adjacent to the Paladin when committing this act (looking at you evil wizards and rangers) AND hit someone other than the paladin. Not only then is this tactically avoidable to not be smited, now that smite is, imo, pathetically attached to this feat which the paladin has no choice over using. Smiting is no longer an event, but a tag on.

All in all, designing around a trigger that paladin can not be proactive about and is avoided by a gm playing smart is a failing for this class. A paladin can no longer search out evil alone, and must bring people to get his full effectiveness. Yes rpg's are team games a lot of the time, but this is not team coordination for cool effects and strategies, but team coordination to bring out usefulness that was packed into the class, rather than real tools of unique divine power.

Any other opinions? Often when you hear about class builds and suggestions, anything that is based on triggers out of your control is often avoided. Instead of pointing to that evil lich proclaiming your smite, you have to wait for him to actually do evil in the present to do so.


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Oh man! someone beat me to making this post! Actually, thank you for doing so.

I am also very disappointed with the current design of the paladin. Most of my complaints come from the paladin being build around retributive strike, but I didn't even think about how it puts the paladin in a reactive position. That is one more reason I dislike it now though. I have a few smaller gripes about other aspects of the class, but retributive strike seems to be the core of the problem.

It is a huge limit on the character concepts that can be done with a paladin. It is powerful, but narrow, so trying to make a paladin that doesn't use it will be weak. The paladin's ability to smite, Aura of Justice, and most of the benefits of the oaths are tied to it. It is also a way to use your reaction to get more strikes in. A paladin who doesn't use Retributive Strike is a weak paladin.

Any paladin who's fighting style/tactics that don't revolve around being a bodyguard has so much of their power invested into Retributive Strike that playing anything else would be incredibly weak. A lone paladin, or a paladin that focuses on ranged weapons, or even just a paladin that charges into battle, eager to smite evil wont be getting much use out of what seems to be the CORE feature of the class.

Honestly there is a lot I really like about the ability, but I don't think that justifies defining it as an ability all paladins have that is core to how they face evil in combat.

1. For a character that it doesn't conflict with, it creates interesting gameplay choices mid-combat. you can spend more actions using your defensive abilities and healing and whatnot, while having a good chance to get to still hit stuff because you can use your reaction to strike. you can try and predict whether it would be better to start adjacent to an enemy or stand next to an ally who may get melee'd.

2. It mechanically encourages enemies to focus on the paladin, which gives it this cool, bravely self-sacrificing vibe, which is perfect for paladins.

3. It is mechanically different than anything I see coming from the other martial classes, both in its trigger and its effect, and giving the martials unique abilities like this seem like a great way to differentiate them in a way that gives them something to think about during combat.

I have some other complaints about the paladin, but retributive strike being central to all paladins is my biggest complaint. It makes the class less expressive than 1e core-only paladins, which is terrible! Generally, I find 2e to be more expressive in terms of characters one can make with it, at least compared to just the 1e CRB. So the fact that there seem to be many FEWER ways to play a paladin in 2e strikes me as a sign that it could use some major changes.


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My exact issue with them as well...


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I actually really like this ability. I think it is good game design. I actually think it makes reach weapons far more appealing for a Paladin.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I strongly feel like for retribution to be effective, and since it's a core feature of the class we want to, we have to use reach weapons like Malthraz said.

Unlike OP quoted it's not adjacent but within reach :

Quote:
Trigger : A creature within your reach hits an ally or friendly creature.

Here's the build I'm working on since yesterday.

It's a paladin of Iomedae with a halberd.

1 : Deity's domain : Weapon surge
2 : Warped Touch
4 : Hospice knight
6 : AOO
8 : Adv. domain : Prepare for battle
10 : Radiant blade spirit
12 : Paladin Sacrifice
14 : Aura of vengence
16 : Instrument of zeal
18 : Angelic form
20 : Radiant blade master

Design choices :
- Capitalizing on lay on hands as it feels it's one of the strongest route if not the most (level-1 * D6 feels ultra good)
- Taking domains gives a lot of PP with Iomedae at least (+4 PP)
- Why Iomedae : she's got one of the strongest LG accessible domain, the Zeal domain (Shaelyn's Passion domain being a close second)
- Divine bond blade to improve that dps, also getting Polearm critical specialization feels really good (5 feet reposition so the opponent has to waste an action)


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Malthraz wrote:
I actually really like this ability. I think it is good game design. I actually think it makes reach weapons far more appealing for a Paladin.

You may have misspelled mandatory.


Totally agree. One of many, many, many problems with this class as a whole.

I'd rather Paizo just return completely to the drawing board for the Paladin, but that's probably not realistic at this point. I suppose one *possible* fix in light of that would be to let Retributive Strike trigger on an attack against the Paladin, but in that case it's done at a -5 penalty instead of -2?

Granted, that wouldn't even come close to fixing everything else wrong with this class. Let's be honest, it's easily the worst rendition of the Paladin anywhere, and that's impressive considering how bad it was in D&D 3.x and 4e. But, gotta start somewhere, and where better than the Lv. 1 feature it's theoretically built around.


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Retributive strike and divine grace should swap places, and Divine Grace should do cha.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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Taking away smite evil also removes the big playmaker and narrative moment for the class.

While Retributive Strike is neat, it's not as cinematic as declaring an enemy that you're gonna kick its butt with the might of your god. It makes a better feat than a primary class feature.


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I really like retributive strike, but i dislike that so much of the class relies on it exclusively. While it is a good ability for a melee tank, it should not be mandatory for the class to have contribution... A paladin who wants to smite a demon should be able to do so without waiting for the demon to go fight someone else.


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Malthraz wrote:
I actually really like this ability. I think it is good game design. I actually think it makes reach weapons far more appealing for a Paladin.

shame about all those shield-specific options on their list tho

Grand Lodge

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Malthraz wrote:
I actually really like this ability. I think it is good game design. I actually think it makes reach weapons far more appealing for a Paladin.

Of the paladin-friendly core deities, I count one with a reach weapon (Shelyn) as favored and two with ranged weapons favored (Abadar, Erastil), who are thus unable to use what Paizo wants to be a signature class ability with their diety's favored weapon.

Sure, it's an interesting ability, appropriate for _some_ paladins, but it's too narrow to build an entire class around.


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It should be a feat.


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I agree the paladin in pf2 is just not as fun as a pf1 paladin.


Kodyboy wrote:
I agree the paladin in pf2 is just not as fun as a pf1 paladin.

I think specifics are probably going to be more helpful for the whole play test process so if you can like really think about and isolate what makes it feel less fun to you it would help them improve that aspect. However I guess on the message board less so then the official play test documents. However if you explain it well enough it may help others isolate that too!


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Barring the negative typo from a not when I meant yes they are, I thank all for the discussions. I hadn't realized how it does put the Paladin into a strict role, no archery whatsoever! The roleplay of smite is also awkward that when you meat a slaughterer of a Tyrant you can point to him and proclaim his evil and your god's smite, but he has to be SUPER evil and dare not attack the Paladin!

Other class mechanics such as the Lay on Hand super nerf hammer (Just let Paladin's use it while wielding things already, everyone always hates the semantics of Lay on hands) and the shame that Divine grace has become (Charisma to saves? You have to spend the reaction you use on your core class feature for!). Paladins should just get Divine grace guys, the point is they have the defense on saves fighters don't, not that they are ALWAYS more defensive.

I think the Paladin really needs a core rework other than their holy weapon being part of level progression, that was always a great idea giving a player milestones rather than a 4th level spells sudden point of might. Also the flavor you continue to use your weapon through the adventure as a testament of faith and skill.

Also full plate is just bad guys, just rework it or get rid of it because the movement penalty and AC from other sources outclasses it in every way.


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I have to agree with OP. The class feels too reactive.

Paladin's should be about seeking out evil and smiting it. Ret. Strike should either be a feat or a class component but not the defining feature of the class.

Ret Strike simply put
-makes the class very reactive.
-largely favored reach weapons, over more classical weapon types like the longsword.
-Flat out says ranged weapons can't play (sorry Paladins of Erastil).

That's pretty restrictive.

Also as a side note, does anyone else feel like the Paladin's focus on armor is just screaming for there to be a Radiant Spirit tied to armor? It feels like a big obvious hole to me.


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so, now that i've had the chance to get everyone's schedules hammered out for session zero (with aims to run the first adventure this weekend), and we've hit a bit of a snag:
nobody has any interest in paladin. or rather, the two who did have an interest immediately lost it when they saw that paladin didn't have smite evil. the closest option is the cleric's channel smite, which requires channel energy (so even a paladin multiclassing into cleric still can't get it). oddly, the sorcerer can via the divine bloodline... once per day.


I'm not against the paladin being a flat +2 bonus to saves but the thing that gets me is it only triggers against spells. Why just spells?

I'm also confused if the paladin gets the +1 ac bonus from Lay on Hands if they use it on themselves.

Silver Crusade

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I'm surprised that no one mentioned how nerfed Smite is now. Unless, I'm missing something obvious, you can only smite starting at 9th level, you can only "attempt" it as a reaction to someone else being attacked right near you, and if you hit you cause a mere handful of hit points of damage per round on a creature that will likely laugh it off due to its level.


No, you pretty much got it. You could also waste a spell point in litany of righteousness to get a small boost against that target once.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A class feat for both Fighters and Paladins that provided a ranged option keyed to Attack of Opportunity and Retributive Strike would be excellent. It doesn't have to duplicate the feature at range, but provide some linkage.

For instance, Retributive Shot as a Paladin Class Feat might allow you to use your reaction (trigger: ally in range takes damage) to add +1 damage to your next shot against the offending enemy. It's a feat tax, but at least you'd have some Paladin-y ranged action.


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A little history, here.

When it first published, the PF 1e playtest paladin was an update from the 3.5 paladin. However, in comparison to other classes, it engendered similar responses to what we're seeing, now.

(Edit: Here's what it looked like, for historical/comparison purposes.)

The reaction at the time was much like we see, today, though the playtest is being handled by a more experienced team (the 1e playtest was like the wild west, and I felt really sorry for Paizo staff).

At the start of the 1e test, it felt like the paladin was left behind.

It was not like that by the end of the playtest.

But, it was the efforts of the community and Paizo staff together that made the final paladin what it is in 1e. That effort was truly dedicated, and monumental. Please keep speaking up!

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber

My major concern about the Paladin smite is its invalidation by moving. Oh you hit me because i hit your friend? I will just move around him and hit him with you way over there, so sorry by by. And this doesn't include GMs that will just immediately meta and move their creatures in such away to prevent the ability from working. Since the Paladin doesn't have an AoO, it means that a single action can negate their main class ability.


Taenia wrote:
My major concern about the Paladin smite is its invalidation by moving. Oh you hit me because i hit your friend? I will just move around him and hit him with you way over there, so sorry by by. And this doesn't include GMs that will just immediately meta and move their creatures in such away to prevent the ability from working. Since the Paladin doesn't have an AoO, it means that a single action can negate their main class ability.

This, also even when Paladin does get OA (as a level 6! feat), enemies who recognise a Paladin are just gonna eat the (comparativly) weaker OA . That way the Paladin doesn't have a reaction for Retributive Strike


MuddyVolcano wrote:

A little history, here.

When it first published, the PF 1e playtest paladin was an update from the 3.5 paladin. However, in comparison to other classes, it engendered similar responses to what we're seeing, now.

(Edit: Here's what it looked like, for historical/comparison purposes.)

The reaction at the time was much like we see, today, though the playtest is being handled by a more experienced team (the 1e playtest was like the wild west, and I felt really sorry for Paizo staff).

At the start of the 1e test, it felt like the paladin was left behind.

It was not like that by the end of the playtest.

But, it was the efforts of the community and Paizo staff together that made the final paladin what it is in 1e. That effort was truly dedicated, and monumental. Please keep speaking up!

I only wish we could get a response from Mark on this. I have been noting a displeasure with the Paladin Mechanics from every one of my players so far. Since I have run people through (at this point) 8 sessions of my home test game (that is 47 individual players) and not one of them has actually liked Retributive Strike or felt that the Paladin class was "as strong as" the Fighter, Rogue, or Monk (the latter 2 thus far being the defacto damage dealers of PF2) and didn't feel they liked them.

This is something that needs addressing asap.

Edit:
And Blade of Justice is just bad. My players, heck even the PFS Discord, has taken to the nickname: "Blade of Wasted Action" or "Blade of Just Take Fighter Dedication" or "Blade of Why Bother" or (my personal favorite) "The LOLblade"


HWalsh wrote:


I only wish we could get a response from Mark on this. I have been noting a displeasure with the Paladin Mechanics from every one of my players so far. Since I have run people through (at this point) 8 sessions of my home test game (that is 47 individual players) and not one of them has actually liked Retributive Strike or felt that the Paladin class was "as strong as" the Fighter, Rogue, or Monk (the latter 2 thus far being the defacto damage dealers of PF2) and didn't feel they liked them.

This is something that needs addressing asap.

Edit:
And Blade of Justice is just bad. My players, heck even the PFS Discord, has taken to the nickname: "Blade of Wasted Action" or "Blade of Just Take Fighter Dedication" or "Blade of Why Bother" or (my personal favorite) "The LOLblade"

I like the concept of RS for some builds, though playtests are showing it needs work, absolutely. My fear is slightly aside to that: I'm afraid if it goes in as a "main," we'll see what happened with Sneak Attack--entire builds focused around "just making sure SA (aka RS) happens."

Players don't like it when you remove agency. For a thematic side ability is one thing. For a core class feature--that will be frustrating to players.

And yeah, I get you.

I share some additional concerns, because in part, it looks like some ideas from the old Alpha ended up coming back. Might be my imagination, though? I'm admittedly kinda depressed and I really, really wanted to love all of this. Given the difference in PFAlpha and PF1 though, I'm hopeful? I'm going to keep watching.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Taenia wrote:
My major concern about the Paladin smite is its invalidation by moving. Oh you hit me because i hit your friend? I will just move around him and hit him with you way over there, so sorry by by. And this doesn't include GMs that will just immediately meta and move their creatures in such away to prevent the ability from working. Since the Paladin doesn't have an AoO, it means that a single action can negate their main class ability.

How this actually plays out in-game will be interesting to note, as it’s not just the enemy, the Paladin, and a motionless ally. It could be a lot of enemies, it could be a big enemy, and you have (hopefully) more than one ally doing their own thing. The enemies might not have the freedoms to do the above roundabout. The Ally in question might be a Barbarian or Fighter up there alongside the Paladin.

There’s plenty of scenarios to work through, and yes while there’s scenarios where it doesn’t work there’s plenty where it does.


Rysky wrote:
Taenia wrote:
My major concern about the Paladin smite is its invalidation by moving. Oh you hit me because i hit your friend? I will just move around him and hit him with you way over there, so sorry by by. And this doesn't include GMs that will just immediately meta and move their creatures in such away to prevent the ability from working. Since the Paladin doesn't have an AoO, it means that a single action can negate their main class ability.

How this actually plays out in-game will be interesting to note, as it’s not just the enemy, the Paladin, and a motionless ally. It could be a lot of enemies, it could be a big enemy, and you have (hopefully) more than one ally doing their own thing. The enemies might not have the freedoms to do the above roundabout. The Ally in question might be a Barbarian or Fighter up there alongside the Paladin.

There’s plenty of scenarios to work through, and yes while there’s scenarios where it doesn’t work there’s plenty where it does.

It does work very well if the Paladin is flanking a target with a Rogue and if the Paladin has Shield Wall and AoO. It is a lot of set up but it is pretty much a guarantee that someone is getting hit with something.


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HWalsh wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Taenia wrote:
My major concern about the Paladin smite is its invalidation by moving. Oh you hit me because i hit your friend? I will just move around him and hit him with you way over there, so sorry by by. And this doesn't include GMs that will just immediately meta and move their creatures in such away to prevent the ability from working. Since the Paladin doesn't have an AoO, it means that a single action can negate their main class ability.

How this actually plays out in-game will be interesting to note, as it’s not just the enemy, the Paladin, and a motionless ally. It could be a lot of enemies, it could be a big enemy, and you have (hopefully) more than one ally doing their own thing. The enemies might not have the freedoms to do the above roundabout. The Ally in question might be a Barbarian or Fighter up there alongside the Paladin.

There’s plenty of scenarios to work through, and yes while there’s scenarios where it doesn’t work there’s plenty where it does.

It does work very well if the Paladin is flanking a target with a Rogue and if the Paladin has Shield Wall and AoO. It is a lot of set up but it is pretty much a guarantee that someone is getting hit with something.

That's...yeah.

How many years have been spent on rogue players trying to ensure they get control of their SA? The last thing I'd want is to turn the paladin into the new rogue. Not in terms of being sneaky, but in terms of "I don't want whether I can use my core ability to be so much in control of the GM AND my other party members."

Whether that's a fair assessment or not, or whether the rogue (or here, paladin) has other things to bring to the table aside from SA isn't the point. It's the perception and ergo, frustration, surrounding player agency and a core class ability.


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I really like Retributive Strike. It allows the Paladin to actually tank, as in take enemy focus. You make a baddie choose between "attack the guy with the higher AC and self healing" or "risk an extra attack at nearly full accuracy every round." Combined with the ability to Lay on Hands other targets and still attack the same turn and with the ability to shield block for allies, you get a class focused on protecting the weak/your allies.

I always saw a lot of interest in the Paladin due to their offensive potential against the right foes. The +charisma to hit and +level to damage was just too tempting. You ask a D&D forum what class to play in an undead or fiend-hunting campaign, you'll get told Paladin over and over. That offensive emphasis always seemed weird to me, thematically. It makes just as much sense for a lawful evil inquisitor to have a Smite effect, a "I'm going to rip you to pieces with divine wrath" ability, as a lawful good paladin.

It feels like a Paladin is now a more valuable addition to a party regardless of the foes you're there to fight, because the Paladin, the goodest guy, doesn't focus on destroying enemies; they focus on protecting friends. I like it that the champion of good class has more emphasis on doing good for good people than doing harm to bad ones. The gameplay of the class seems to better match the theme of the class.


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Pandora's wrote:

I really like Retributive Strike. It allows the Paladin to actually tank, as in take enemy focus. You make a baddie choose between "attack the guy with the higher AC and self healing" or "risk an extra attack at nearly full accuracy every round." Combined with the ability to Lay on Hands other targets and still attack the same turn and with the ability to shield block for allies, you get a class focused on protecting the weak/your allies.

I always saw a lot of interest in the Paladin due to their offensive potential against the right foes. The +charisma to hit and +level to damage was just too tempting. You ask a D&D forum what class to play in an undead or fiend-hunting campaign, you'll get told Paladin over and over. That offensive emphasis always seemed weird to me, thematically. It makes just as much sense for a lawful evil inquisitor to have a Smite effect, a "I'm going to rip you to pieces with divine wrath" ability, as a lawful good paladin.

It feels like a Paladin is now a more valuable addition to a party regardless of the foes you're there to fight, because the Paladin, the goodest guy, doesn't focus on destroying enemies; they focus on protecting friends. I like it that the champion of good class has more emphasis on doing good for good people than doing harm to bad ones. The gameplay of the class seems to better match the theme of the class.

i feel it really fails at it's job, since:
  • it's mutually exclusive with their other 2 major reaction abilities (AoO and shield warden--if you went sword-and-board against retributive strike's suggestion of reach weapons) since you have to choose between either hitting them as they pass you (AoO) or when they attack your ally (RS), or between hitting them when they attack your ally (RS) and actually protecting your ally (SW)
    at least you can pair shield warden with retributive strike with a feat! halfway through your adventuring career. and it still costs both a regular action and your reaction to use. between that and using LoH to try and stem the tide of damage on that ally, you're not doing an awful lot to contribute to actually removing that enemy (and it's incoming damage).
  • none of those options actually succeed in forcing the enemy to stop ignoring you if they want to kill your ally (enfeebled 1 on level-appropriate enemy's oddly high attack is cute tho, with enfeebled 2 by spending a feat at level 6--instead of choosing shield warden or AoO at all, as those are at the same level choices).
    with enemies being designed to take multiple rounds to kill via high defenses (see: player miss chance) and health, you can't really kill them outright with them to stop them either.
  • it's 100% reactive, so you as a player basically have no agency surrounding it. you're either able to use it (see: failing to protect your ally) or it's a wasted line on your character sheet (enemies are out of reach or focusing on you).
  • it's also countered by simple positioning, that if you AoO to punish, you cant RS or SW to discourage/negate attacking that ally that turn.

and iomedae help you if multiple enemies decide to chow down on one ally, since you only get to interact with 1 attack from the [2-3 * # of enemies] attacks going downfield, assuming no extra effects or riders like poison.

being able to do things like AoO's stopping their movement, forcibly moving them away from allies (such as a bull rush), or being able to inflict harsher penalties for attacking an ally with retributive strike (such as slowed, dazzled/blinded, entangled/grabbed, stunned/paralyzed etc etc), things that actually impede the enemy in a meaningful way, may work a bit better at achieving the goal of Gently Discouraging attacks against your allies.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
AndIMustMask wrote:
none of those options actually succeed in forcing the enemy to stop ignoring you if they want to kill your ally
From my experience Enemies that ignore the Paladin tend to not have a very high life expectancy.
AndIMustMask wrote:
it's 100% reactive, so you as a player basically have no agency surrounding it
That's just not true. You can set it up to shine, just because something is reactive doesn't mean there's no agency in how it plays out.
AndIMustmask wrote:
it's also countered by simple positioning,

Which is also countered by the fact that Paladin is not alone, and has Actions on their turn as well. The ability can be countered by positioning, so can lots of abilities and spells. That does not mean it will always be countered, this hypothetical functioning by assuming the enemy always has the best options and countering this one option has no drawback and carries no effort.

Sometimes? Possibly. But certainly not always.


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The new paladin concept as a protector is something that was missing for a long time. The way paladin plays out is refreshing and innovative. And from my personal view I think it's way more cinematic to have a paladin throwing himself in front of his comrades with his shield and striking back at the evil that threatenes his friends than using smite every single turn and just be a fighter with a divine infused sword.


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Just had a mental image of two Paladins standing back to back with Halberds doing monk flips over each other covering the others 6, 12, 2, etc. That sounds almost as cool as having two clerics in a party (I am currently running a game with 2 clerics and if I don't drop a player in one round, he will be back to full nearly immediately).


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Rysky wrote:
AndIMustMask wrote:
none of those options actually succeed in forcing the enemy to stop ignoring you if they want to kill your ally
From my experience Enemies that ignore the Paladin tend to not have a very high life expectancy.
AndIMustMask wrote:
it's 100% reactive, so you as a player basically have no agency surrounding it
That's just not true. You can set it up to shine, just because something is reactive doesn't mean there's no agency in how it plays out.
AndIMustmask wrote:
it's also countered by simple positioning,

Which is also countered by the fact that Paladin is not alone, and has Actions on their turn as well. The ability can be countered by positioning, so can lots of abilities and spells. That does not mean it will always be countered, this hypothetical functioning by assuming the enemy always has the best options and countering this one option has no drawback and carries no effort.

Sometimes? Possibly. But certainly not always.

i'm not sure they'd have any less life expectancy than ignoring any other combatant (fighter rogue monk etc), since as previous you don't get to do anything to really stop them aside from attacking (and doing so is deliberately not making use of your Shiny Class Thing).

yes, you are totally able invest more actions into not actually dealing with the opponent (such as positioning yourself so your range covers most of an ally and raising a shield if you're using SW), and it can amount to nothing anyway if the enemy doesn't cooperate. your identifying class feature is in your enemy's hands, not yours. you have to pay in actions to allow them to enable it for you

oh sure, your allies can deal with them for you! that totally makes up for you not being able to help them do that (gotta spend actions to do your Thing) if you want to play a Paladin, rather than a Fighter.

Shadow Lodge

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Asuet wrote:
The new paladin concept as a protector is something that was missing for a long time. The way paladin plays out is refreshing and innovative. And from my personal view I think it's way more cinematic to have a paladin throwing himself in front of his comrades with his shield and striking back at the evil that threatenes his friends than using smite every single turn and just be a fighter with a divine infused sword.

As soon as the Bodyguard feat came out in PF1 a friend of mine had a build for Paladins that used it. Of course, it was also a Halfing with Childlike and Pass for Human "Dont't hit my Papa!" build, but still. Paladin's have had the option of being 'protectors' for a while now.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Personal opinion time!

For me, the entire fantasy of the paladin is being able to root out evil and pulverize it. It's satisfying because, although it would be really useful, it is impossible to do in the real world.

The fantasy is an incorruptible, terrifying force for good.

I'll admit other people have different views on this, but if the option doesn't exist for me to make a LG paladin who goes out to find evil and remove it from the world, I don't consider this class worthy of the name.

These three things I feel are necessary, or the class is a failure:

1. The ability to discern, detect, intuit or otherwise locate an evil creature. (Or other alignment for you non-LG paladin people)

2. The ability to cause severe bodily harm to an evil creature, in a manner that cannot be easily replicated by another class. That is, a Paladin has to be comparatively good at this task.

3. The ability to resist the corruptive effects of mind control, fear, compulsion and trickery.

Everything else is window dressing and optional. Lay on hands is nice, but ultimately unnecessary. Protecting party members is a focus of some paladin players but not others. Heavy armor is optional. No one weapon is required. Spells are optional. A specific deity is optional. Having friends is optional.

So, what I see from the playtest paladin there's sense evil at level 8, smite at 9th, and a very weak Divine Grace option at level 2.

At this point (and I say this as a major, MAJOR fan of Paladins in general) Paladin should be turned into a Prestige Class.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Asuet wrote:
The new paladin concept as a protector is something that was missing for a long time. The way paladin plays out is refreshing and innovative. And from my personal view I think it's way more cinematic to have a paladin throwing himself in front of his comrades with his shield and striking back at the evil that threatenes his friends than using smite every single turn and just be a fighter with a divine infused sword.
As soon as the Bodyguard feat came out in PF1 a friend of mine had a build for Paladins that used it. Of course, it was also a Halfing with Childlike and Pass for Human "Dont't hit my Papa!" build, but still. Paladin's have had the option of being 'protectors' for a while now.

To be fair, what the paladin can do now goes way beyond what the bodyguard feat did in PF1.

I understand that many players liked the big damage from smite that they had in the previous edition. It's a completely different concept now and people have to get used to it first. It also opens up way more possibilities and playstyles than the old version.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
AndIMustMask wrote:
Sometimes? Possibly. But certainly not always.
i'm not sure they'd have any less life expectancy than ignoring any other combatant (fighter rogue monk etc), since as previous you don't get to do anything to really stop them aside from attacking (and doing so is deliberately not making use of your Shiny Class Thing).Attacking doesn't keep me from using my Reaction, unless the enemy died. Which is a Good thing.
AndIMustMask wrote:
yes, you are totally able invest more actions into not actually dealing with the opponent (such as positioning yourself so your range covers most of an ally and raising a shield if you're using SW), and it can amount to nothing anyway if the enemy doesn't cooperate. your identifying class feature is in your enemy's hands, not yours. you have to pay in actions to allow them to enable it for you
That applies to the entire game. Not all actions are applicable at all times. Having Reactive abilities are not a bad thing.
AndIMustMask wrote:
oh sure, your allies can deal with them for you! that totally makes up for you not being able to help them do that (gotta spend actions to do your Thing) if you want to play a Paladin, rather than a Fighter.

No, your allies can deal with them with you. This is a group game, not solo player. You all work together.


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Asuet wrote:
I understand that many players liked the big damage from smite that they had in the previous edition. It's a completely different concept now and people have to get used to it first. It also opens up way more possibilities and playstyles than the old version.

"Different" is not the problem. Lack of effectiveness is. The Paladin in PF2 is forced into a playstyle that is inherently ineffective and has been for 40 years of TTRPGs. It doesn't "open up" any possibilities and playstyles compared to the PF1 Paladin. It takes them away.


WatersLethe wrote:

Personal opinion time!

For me, the entire fantasy of the paladin is being able to root out evil and pulverize it. It's satisfying because, although it would be really useful, it is impossible to do in the real world.

The fantasy is an incorruptible, terrifying force for good.

I'll admit other people have different views on this, but if the option doesn't exist for me to make a LG paladin who goes out to find evil and remove it from the world, I don't consider this class worthy of the name.

These three things I feel are necessary, or the class is a failure:

1. The ability to discern, detect, intuit or otherwise locate an evil creature. (Or other alignment for you non-LG paladin people)

2. The ability to cause severe bodily harm to an evil creature, in a manner that cannot be easily replicated by another class. That is, a Paladin has to be comparatively good at this task.

3. The ability to resist the corruptive effects of mind control, fear, compulsion and trickery.

Everything else is window dressing and optional. Lay on hands is nice, but ultimately unnecessary. Protecting party members is a focus of some paladin players but not others. Heavy armor is optional. No one weapon is required. Spells are optional. A specific deity is optional. Having friends is optional.

So, what I see from the playtest paladin there's sense evil at level 8, smite at 9th, and a very weak Divine Grace option at level 2.

At this point (and I say this as a major, MAJOR fan of Paladins in general) Paladin should be turned into a Prestige Class.

I agree 100%. In particular, I think Smite Evil is a much more core "thing" for the Paladin to have. My proposed fixes (after playing a Paladin in Lost Star that rarely got Retributive Strike to trigger since we only had 1 other melee character), are as follows:

1. Smite should be your level 2 feature, and should apply to whatever attack you want (limited by spell points, level/2 times per day, or something similar).
2. Retributive Strike was cool when it worked and should be either a level 2 or 6 Paladin feat.
3. Replace the 9th level feature with +Cha modifier to all saves, or at least to Will save.


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Rysky wrote:
That applies to the entire game. Not all actions are applicable at all times. Having Reactive abilities are not a bad thing.

No, having reactive abilities is not a bad thing in and of itself. Having your entire class designed off a reactive ability, however, is a bad thing.

Quote:
No, your allies can deal with them with you. This is a group game, not solo player. You all work together.

Problem is that the Paladin clearly isn't pulling his weight in the party. Both from my own experience with the playtest plus every playtest report I've seen and read so far.


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Rysky wrote:
Having Reactive abilities are not a bad thing.
No, but when your class features are almost entirely reactive, it takes away a lot of player agency and isn't fun. It is nice to have reactive options, but not as nice as being able to use your abilities to control a situation more effectively.
Rysky wrote:
No, your allies can deal with them with you. This is a group game, not solo player. You all work together.

I think their point was if you set up your reactive ability and then the enemy just ignores you or avoids you by repositioning, then you are bad at working together with your team and not pulling your own weight. This is a concern with a primarily reaction-based feature like Retributive Strike, which is basically in the hands of the monsters if you get to use it or not.


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WatersLethe wrote:

For me, the entire fantasy of the paladin is being able to root out evil and pulverize it. It's satisfying because, although it would be really useful, it is impossible to do in the real world.

The fantasy is an incorruptible, terrifying force for good.

This could easily be an Inquisitor, thematically. To me, at least, it would seem odd that the champion of goodness, who lives by an incredibly strict code of conduct, would be primarily about harming people rather than helping them.

WatersLethe wrote:
1. The ability to discern, detect, intuit or otherwise locate an evil creature. (Or other alignment for you non-LG paladin people)

Also known as Detect Villains. I also don't like the narrative agency this takes away from Paladins. The weight of that judgement call to kill someone should be heavy for a paragon of goodness. Detect Evil has always been "well, they pinged evil, so I know it's justified."

WatersLethe wrote:
2. The ability to cause severe bodily harm to an evil creature, in a manner that cannot be easily replicated by another class. That is, a Paladin has to be comparatively good at this task.

Which is another way of saying that the Paladin should be better at damaging villains than any other class. Sure, you fight the occasional CN Rogue in town or TN Owlbear in the forest, but let's be honest, in this genre, the bad guys are usual Evil with a capital E. Saying the Paladin must be the best at harming evil means that they must be the best class offensively, where I don't think there should be an intentional "best class" in that category.

WatersLethe wrote:
3. The ability to resist the corruptive effects of mind control, fear, compulsion and trickery.

If resist means some bonuses, sure. Divine Grace still does just that. But if you mean "immune to many of the most debilitating effects in the game," well, that's also going to compare poorly to other classes.

The Paladin isn't the main protagonist in a video game. If they were, you could make them stand out OP however you like. In a tabletop, they have to contribute without overshadowing.

WatersLethe wrote:
Everything else is window dressing and optional. Lay on hands is nice, but ultimately unnecessary. Protecting party members is a focus of some paladin players but not others. Heavy armor is optional. No one weapon is required. Spells are optional. A specific deity is optional. Having friends is optional.

This again sounds like you're looking more for a monster-hunting Inquisitor than a Paladin, thematically. Defending and healing allies is a classic part of the genre trope for Paladins.


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Pandora's wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:

For me, the entire fantasy of the paladin is being able to root out evil and pulverize it. It's satisfying because, although it would be really useful, it is impossible to do in the real world.

The fantasy is an incorruptible, terrifying force for good.

This could easily be an Inquisitor, thematically. To me, at least, it would seem odd that the champion of goodness, who lives by an incredibly strict code of conduct, would be primarily about harming people rather than helping them.

WatersLethe wrote:
1. The ability to discern, detect, intuit or otherwise locate an evil creature. (Or other alignment for you non-LG paladin people)

Also known as Detect Villains. I also don't like the narrative agency this takes away from Paladins. The weight of that judgement call to kill someone should be heavy for a paragon of goodness. Detect Evil has always been "well, they pinged evil, so I know it's justified."

WatersLethe wrote:
2. The ability to cause severe bodily harm to an evil creature, in a manner that cannot be easily replicated by another class. That is, a Paladin has to be comparatively good at this task.

Which is another way of saying that the Paladin should be better at damaging villains than any other class. Sure, you fight the occasional CN Rogue in town or TN Owlbear in the forest, but let's be honest, in this genre, the bad guys are usual Evil with a capital E. Saying the Paladin must be the best at harming evil means that they must be the best class offensively, where I don't think there should be an intentional "best class" in that category.

WatersLethe wrote:
3. The ability to resist the corruptive effects of mind control, fear, compulsion and trickery.

If resist means some bonuses, sure. Divine Grace still does just that. But if you mean "immune to many of the most debilitating effects in the game," well, that's also going to compare poorly to other classes.

The Paladin isn't the main protagonist in a video game. If they were,...

I mean, do you have examples of paladins who don't vanquish evil? Who stands back and babysits the weak party members and still serves as a paladin and not a generic bodyguard or knight?

Clerics harm undead with positive energy, and they are basically the only class that really interacts with them with class features instead of spells (if wizard spells even do that). Should clerics be banned or changed?

This is a really narrow argument with very little support.


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Pandora's wrote:
snip

The Paladin should have defensive options, sure, but it shouldn't be pigeonholed into being THE defender (especially when Clerics get to do the classic Paladin thing of smiting, and the Paladin gets a supremely nerfed version at mid levels).

It also doesn't mean every Paladin has to be the best at everything like you are implying. People liked the Pathfinder paladin. People like the D&D 5e paladin. Both classes were strong, neither are OP or the "best" class on the game. They just have more cool, thematic, and fun options than "sit tight and hope the enemy hits my buddy, instead of moving or hitting me, so I can do something cool."
Also telling people to just play an Inquisitor (which doesn't yet exist) or a Cleric doesn't solve the issue. Like it or not there is an iconic, archetypal Paladin, and if you can't play that as a Paladin class but you can as another class, it's a bummer.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pandora's wrote:
This could easily be an Inquisitor, thematically. To me, at least, it would seem odd that the champion of goodness, who lives by an incredibly strict code of conduct, would be primarily about harming people rather than helping them.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Mine is that Inquisitors are the worldly, morally flexible arm of a Church and Paladins are a force unto their own with no requirement to affiliate with any specific deity. Pathfinder is moving in the direction of having Paladins tied to one deity, but that's fluff I can ignore in my games. I'll also tell you right now that there is no use arguing this point with me since I've made up my mind about paladins since I was six years old, and now there's all sorts of nostalgia and inertia up in here. I'm arguing for at least being able to build a facsimile of my beloved class within Pathfinder's rules.

To me,

When a cleric of a good deity comes to town, people come to them for healing and aid.
When an inquisitor of a good deity comes to town, people avoid looking them in the eye and steer clear.
When a paladin comes to town, people let them know that there's something foul and corrupt in the woods to the north, and it needs killing.

Pandora's wrote:


Also known as Detect Villains. I also don't like the narrative agency this takes away from Paladins. The weight of that judgement call to kill someone should be heavy for a paragon of goodness. Detect Evil has always been "well, they pinged evil, so I know it's justified."

I'm flexible enough to make it more vague, for example being able to tell if there is evil in the room, but not pinpoint it. That being said, I haven't had a problem with unlimited detect evils in my games, and if I did I would say "No paladins this time, sorry."

Pandora's wrote:


Which is another way of saying that the Paladin should be better at damaging villains than any other class. Sure, you fight the occasional CN Rogue in town or TN Owlbear in the forest, but let's be honest, in this genre, the bad guys are usual Evil with a capital E. Saying the Paladin must be the best at harming evil means that they must be the best class offensively, where I don't think there should be an intentional "best class" in that category.

I have no problem with there being a class that's going to lead the pack in damage against an evil boss. In fact, it's been very fun to have the Paladin act as the party's ace in that regard, and if anyone is going to pull top dog damage, I think it should be the one with the strictest moral code.

Furthermore, it doesn't need to be far and away the best. Other classes should be able to build to match their damage, but they shouldn't be able to do so without a thought.

Pandora's wrote:
If resist means some bonuses, sure. Divine Grace still does just that. But if you mean "immune to many of the most debilitating effects in the game," well, that's also going to compare poorly to other classes.

No I do not mean immune, and no Divine Grace does not do that just fine, at least as long as the Reaction is tied up in the paladin's ability to deal damage.

Pandora's wrote:
This again sounds like you're looking more for a monster-hunting Inquisitor than a Paladin, thematically. Defending and healing allies is a classic part of the genre trope for Paladins.

Again, you're entitled to your opinion. An inquisitor does not equate to a damage focused paladin in my mind. If an Inquisitor class ends up doing the three points I listed previously better than the paladin, then I'll file the name off and play that instead. The PF1e Inquisitor was decent, but I preferred the Paladin.

To me, a Paladin is a sword wielded by the forces of good to counter the forces of evil that are constantly plaguing the world. They defend the weak first and foremost by ending evil before it has a chance to lay a finger on them. I could go on, but I've gone on enough and I'm clearly not unbiased.

I just want to be able to make a character that can root out evil, and give it a well deserved whoopin', without thinking "If I made this character as an XYZ, I could be dealing so much more damage to this fiend right now."


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Rysky, I think you're saying some important things. I don't think everyone's as far off though, as it appears. Mind, I haven't done this in some time, but I'm going to try.

In the 1970s, a man named Wiess did an experiment involving a user's access to predictability and control, and how that affected their stress response. He took a series of rats and did the following:
* He placed rats into a cage and administered no shock
* He placed rats into a cage, then gave them a warning before administering a shock
* He placed rats into a cage, then gave them no warning before administering a shock

The rats who received shocks received the same number of shocks; only their circumstances were different (a warning or no warning).

The results were that the rats that were unable to predict impending electric shock showed significantly greater stomach ulceration. This was opposed to the rats that received exactly the same amount of electric shock but were warned that it was about to be delivered.

The point of this isn't to say that gamers are rats. That would be silly and insulting. It also isn't to argue that a player should have control over their character at all times.

The point is more, for something Highly Important to a player, such as the Signature Ability of their character's class, that it is important for the player to have a little more agency than usual.

This is why we've seen the response, and stress, with Sneak Attack for over a decade. Sneak Attack in 3.x has been poorly designed when it comes to player agency and we've seen frustration from players as a result. That design isn't Paizo's fault; it's just a function of inheritance. They've done what they can to reduce for example, the things that SA is immune to (which importantly, increases player agency).

My wish is more for the paladin not to enter into that space that SA's inhabited; it isn't saying that RS is a bad ability. It's only bad if it's the Signature Ability, if that makes sense.

If RS is the Signature Ability, then a player's agency is removed three and four times. The first is whether they are giving a choice to build their PC around it (their choice/not their choice), the GM's agency and control of the field (whether enemies attack them or their allies, and how the GM chooses their positioning), and their teams' agency (how their teammates choose their positioning).

This is also not saying that D&D/PF/etc. aren't team games. They are. The importance here is the /degree of agency in a key feature/. Removing agency on three separate points, as above, is too much. Removing choice takes us back to the experiment by Weiss and the resulting stress response. (His isn't the only one; I'm mostly quoting it because it's the most familiar.)

It also isn't saying that a GM shouldn't create tension in a story. A GM creates tension by adjusting the amount of control characters have, carefully. They also have the lever of predictability. There may be traps on the stairs, for example. Darkness may be cast over the manor. All of these are in the GM's toolbox.

Managed control vs stress in a scene can lend itself to story. However, for a character's key ability to continually be subject to the shifting grounds made by both GM *and* team mates, it's nigh on frustrating, and shifts fun away from the game.

That isn't fun. It's different, as a Signature Ability, than a one-off or singular choice among many, such as a fireball cast by a mage.

This also isn't to say that abilities shouldn't fail occasionally.

However, contrast RS and classic 3.x SA with something like, for example, the cavalier's Challenge ability. Even though it was usable a limited number of times per day, it can end up feeling more satisfying than the rogue's SA.

The comparison of SA to Challenge shows us also, that the frustration is not as tied to damage (often touted) as it is to player agency. On a normal hit, SA may ultimately deal more damage. However, Challenge gives the player greater agency--while dealing with the other elements the adventure provides.

We can see the results of this frustration in the feat chains surrounding the use of SA, the number of forum posts about 'how to guarantee SA', the anger over creatures being 'flat-out immune' and even Paizo's response in decreasing those immunities. For SA, specifically.

We see nothing like that for Challenge, or at least, we see it much less often.

It comes down to agency. The silence surrounding Challenge speaks just as loudly as the loud, decades-long clamour over a player's access to SA.

Anyhow, I apologize for going on, here. I hope it's helpful in some way. I realize, too, that I didn't bring in playtest data. I'm less sure the point of this is playtest data, though--it's more a discussion of user studies, and what we've seen from the 3.x SA, and I hope at least, it's been done respectfully.

Thank you for reading.


MuddyVolcano wrote:
I hope it's helpful in some way.

Well I certainly found it helpful, you did a great job of thoroughly articulating why Retributive Strike shouldn't be the core ability of a paladin and I agree completely with your reasoning as to why it's not fun.

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