Redesigning the Paladin (A Suggestion)


Classes


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Disclaimer:
This is me redesigning the Paladin class in PF2 to make it feel more (mechanically) like it did in PF1. Nothing less, nothing more, I have spent a lot of time and effort into this redesign as a thought experiment only.

Request:
Please no, "Open the Paladin!" replies here. This is not the place for that.

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Paladin

Key Ability: Strength

Hit Points: 10+Con Modifier

Proficiencies:
Perception - Trained

Saving Throws:
Fortitude - Expert
Reflex - Trained
Will - Expert

Skills:
3+Con Modifier

Weapons:
All simple and martial weapons

Armor and Shields:
All armor and shields

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Code of Conduct:

Unchanged - this is exactly like current PF2.

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Paladin Advancement:
1 Ancestry feat, background, champion powers, code of conduct, deific weapon, initial proficiencies, paladin feat, Smite Evil

2 Paladin feat, skill feat

3 General feat, righteous ally, skill increase

4 Paladin feat, skill feat

5 Ability boosts, ancestry feat, skill increase, weapon expertise

6 Paladin feat, skill feat

7 Champion's Edge I, general feat, skill increase

8 Paladin feat, skill feat

9 Ancestry feat, Holy Smite, skill increase

10 Ability boosts, paladin feat, skill feat

11 Aura of Justice, general feat, skill increase

12 Paladin feat, skill feat

13 Ancestry feat, Champion's Edge II, skill increase

14 Paladin feat, skill feat

15 Ability boosts, general feat, skill increase, weapon mastery

16 Paladin feat, skill feat

17 Ancestry feat, Champion's Edge III, skill increase

18 Paladin feat, skill feat

19 General feat, hero’s defiance, skill increase

20 Ability boosts, paladin feat, skill feat

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Deific Weapon:
Unchanged

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Smite Evil:
Action Type: Action

Requirements: May only target a foe who has an Evil alignment. (Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil)

You designate a single evil target within 100 feet as your target and focus your attacks against that target. While smiting that target, you gain the following benefits against that creature:

Any multiple attack penalties you take are reduced by 1.
You reduce any Damage Reduction that target has by a number equal to your Charisma modifier.

You can have only one target designated as the target of your Smite at a time. If you use Smite Evil against a target when you already have a target designated, the prior target loses the designation and the new target gains the designation. In any case, this designation lasts until your next daily preparation (see page 332).

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Champion Powers:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Paladin Feats:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Skill Feats:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Righteous Ally:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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General Feats:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Skill Increases:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Ability Boosts:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Ancestry Feats:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Weapon Expertise:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Champion's Edge I:
Your proficiency rank for Fortitude Saves increases to Master. When you succeed at a Fortitude Save treat your result as a Critical Success. Your proficiency rank in Shields increases to Expert. Then choose one of the following options, this option can be changed at the start of the day:

Light Armor Specialist: Your proficiency rank in Light Armor becomes Expert.

Medium Armor Specialist: Your proficiency rank in Medium Armor becomes Expert.

Heavy Armor Specialist: Your proficiency rank in Heavy Armor becomes Expert.

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Holy Smite:
Your Smite Evil becomes capable of dealing grievous wounds to Evil Targets. On a critical hit, the target of a Smite Evil takes persistent good damage equal to your Charisma modifier.

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Aura of Justice:
All allies within 10 feet of the Paladin ignore an amount of DR equal to the Paladin's Charisma Modifier against the target of the Paladin's Smite Evil.

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Champion's Edge II:
Reduce the Armor Check Penalty of Shields by 1. In addition to this, the bonuses from your Champion's Edge change depending on your chosen specialization:

Light Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Master. Gain a +1 conditional bonus to Initiative when wearing Light Armor.

Medium Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Master. Reduce the Armor Check Penalty of Medium Armor by 1.

Heavy Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Master. Reduce the Movement Speed Penalty of Heavy Armor to 5 ft.

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Weapon Mastery:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Champion's Edge III:
The bonuses from your Champion's Edge change depending on your chosen specialization: (Note: These replace the specialization bonuses provided by Champion's Edge II.)

Light Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Legendary. Gain a +2 conditional bonus to Initiative when wearing Light Armor.

Medium Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Legendary. Reduce the Armor Check Penalty of Medium Armor by 2.

Heavy Armor Specialist: Your proficiency increases to Legendary. Remove the Movement Speed Penalty of Heavy Armor.

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Hero's Defiance:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Feats to follow - Please keep posts to a minimum while I get all of that in here...


Disclaimer:
Note - My goal here was to fix some of the holes I have seen in the Paladin feat design and to make the Paladin a little more flexible (as seen previously) and as such I have removed the over-reliance on Retributive Strike (which I admittedly don't like the class being built around) as such these changes are reflected here.

Paladin Feats (Redux):

*****
1st level:
*****
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Diety's Domain:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Hospice Knight:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Retributive Strike:
Action Type: Reaction
Trigger: A creature within your reach hits an ally or friendly creature.

Make a melee Strike against the triggering creature at a –2 penalty before the opponent rolls the damage for the triggering hit. If your attack hits, the target is enfeebled 1 for the remainder of its turn, or enfeebled 2 for the remainder of its turn if your Strike was a critical hit. The enfeebled condition ends immediately if the creature makes a Strike against you. If Retributive Strike incapacitates or kills the triggering creature, the triggering hit deals no damage.

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Warded Touch:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
2nd Level:
*****
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Divine Grace:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Dragonslayer Oath:
You’ve sworn an oath to slay evil dragons. Add the following tenet to your paladin’s code after the other tenets: “You must slay evil dragons you come across as long as you have a reasonable chance of success.”

Whenever you hit an evil dragon who is also the target of your Smite Evil you ignore all of that target's DR and Resistances.

You don’t ever consider evil dragons to be legitimate authorities, even in nations ruled by evil dragons.

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Fiend's Bane Oath:
You’ve sworn an oath to banish the corruption of fiends to the dark planes they call home. Add the following tenet to your paladin’s code after the other tenets: “You must banish or slay fiends you come across as long as you have a reasonable chance of success; in the incredibly unlikely event you find a good fiend, you don’t have to banish or kill it.”

Whenever you hit an evil fiend who is also the target of your Smite Evil you ignore all of that target's DR and Resistances.

You don’t ever consider fiends to be legitimate authorities, even in nations ruled by fiends.

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Shining Oath:
You’ve sworn an oath to end the plague of undead. Add the following tenet to your paladin’s code after the other tenets: “You must end the existence of undead you come across as long as you have a reasonable chance of success; in the unlikely event you find a good undead, you can try to work out a more peaceful way to help it recover from its undead state rather than destroying it in combat, such as helping it complete its unfinished business.”

Whenever you hit an evil undead who is also the target of your Smite Evil you ignore all of that target's DR and Resistances.

You don’t ever consider undead to be legitimate authorities, even in nations ruled by undead.

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Vengeful Oath:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
4th Level
*****
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Aura of Courage:
If you fail a save against an effect that grants the Frightened Condition treat the save as though you succeeded. If you succeed on a save against an effect that grants the Frightened Condition treat the save as though you critically succeeded. At the end of your turn reduce the value of the Frightened Condition by 1 for yourself and all allies within 10 feet.

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Channel Life:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Divine Health:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Mercy:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
6th Level
*****
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Attack of Opportunity:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Blade of Justice:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Extra Retribution:
Action: None
Requirement: Retributive Strike

The Paladin gains an additional reaction each turn, this can only be used to activate Retributive Strike.

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Lasting Reprisal:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Litany against Wrath:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Loyal Warhorse:
You and your mount have grown closer, and your loyalty to each other is unbreakable. The mount you gained through the righteous ally class feature is now treated as a full-grown animal companion (see page 284). In addition, your mount never attacks you, even if it is magically compelled to do so. Finally, you can make a Retributive Strike against anyone who hits your mount with a Strike.

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Shield Warden:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
8th Level
*****
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Advanced Domain:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Greater Mercy:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Heal Mount:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Second Ally:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Sense Evil:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
10th Level
*****
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Divine Will:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Imposing Destrier:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Litany against Sloth:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Radiant Blade Spirit:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Shield of Reckoning:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
12th Level:
*****
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Affliction Mercy:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Aura of Faith:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Holy Wall:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Paladin's Sacrifice:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
14th Level:
*****
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Anchoring Aura:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Aura of Life:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Aura of Righteousness:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Aura of Vengeance:
The range of your aura of Justice increases to 20 feet.

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Litany of Defense:
Action: None
Requirement: Shield Ally, Holy Wall

The Paladin gains an additional reaction each turn, this can only be used to activate Shield Block.

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Litany of Righteousness:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Warding Aura:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
16th Level:
*****
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Auspicious Mount:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Instrument of Zeal:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Shield of Grace:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
18th Level:
*****
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Angelic Form:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Paragon Weapon:
Action: None
Requirements: Radiant Blade Spirit, Deity's Favored Weapon

When using the Paladin's Deity's favored weapon, that has a Blade Spirit bound to it, increase the damage die of the weapon by one step up to a maximum of 1d12.

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Ultimate Mercy:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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*****
20th Level
*****
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Celestial Mount:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Radiant Blade Master:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Shield Champion:
This is unchanged from PF2.

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Is it intentional that Paladins get Con to skills? If so, why?


Paradozen wrote:
Is it intentional that Paladins get Con to skills? If so, why?

Nope. That was a typo. Should be Int.


I wouldn't make Smite Evil like that, as reducing MAP is already a ranger thing. I think that Smite Evil should be a single big attack instead.
I would make it a level 1 class feat that gives you a 2-actions Strike with additional effects. Something more powerful than Power Attack, but that only works against evil targets.
What kind of effects? Well, some ideas:
- Ignore DR, like you suggested; this can't be the only effect you gain, anyway, as it would be too situational;
- Add (your CHA modifier times the number of damage dice) to the damage. This is not multiplied on a critical hit;
- Add some condition that hampers your foe for 1 round (my favourite solution!);
- Do something even on a miss.


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Megistone wrote:

I wouldn't make Smite Evil like that, as reducing MAP is already a ranger thing. I think that Smite Evil should be a single big attack instead.

I would make it a level 1 class feat that gives you a 2-actions Strike with additional effects. Something more powerful than Power Attack, but that only works against evil targets.
What kind of effects? Well, some ideas:
- Ignore DR, like you suggested; this can't be the only effect you gain, anyway, as it would be too situational;
- Add (your CHA modifier times the number of damage dice) to the damage. This is not multiplied on a critical hit;
- Add some condition that hampers your foe for 1 round (my favourite solution!);
- Do something even on a miss.

There is an important reason I didn't make Smite Evil a feat:

1. It is one of the defining ability of a Paladin since 3.0 - It shouldn't be replaced by Ret Strike.

2. Ret Strike forces a Playstyle, namely that of defender, whereas Smite Evil does not. By making Ret Strike a feat I allow the Paladin player to choose their playstyle. If they want it, they can take it, if they don't want it they don't have to take it.

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In PF1 the Paladin stuck Smite Evil on something and it stayed, Paladins are already a low movement class having a focus on Heavy Armor, so any "2 action" moves are going to be highly detrimental to them.

A Paladin in Heavy Armor only gets (assuming a 25 base speed) 3 squares of movement. That is less than they had in Pathfinder 1 (4 squares in Heavy Armor typically) so they need 1 action abilities and they need persistent abilities because they are automatically behind in the action economy game.


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This does feel more "paladin-y to me. I hope the designers read this.


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RealAlchemy wrote:
This does feel more "paladin-y to me. I hope the designers read this.

Thanks!

My design philosophy was the following:

Player Choice

Nobody wants to be locked into a single playstyle without their choice based solely on their class. This gets rid of that problem. By removing Retributive Strike as the class defining ability and replacing it with Smite Evil it opens that up.

Now, for those who WANT Retributive Strike this allows them to take it at level 1.

If you want to be offensive, Smite Evil, go down the weapon path and you're good to go!

Those who want shields have their shield feats.

The best part is Smite works with every weapon and every style no matter what a person wants to do. It works even with Ret Strike Pallies.


Well my idea was to change the current paladin set up with retribution instead to a knight class and make paladin a new but replacing a few abilities from knight and giving the paladin his iconic ones.


I'd put my Divine grace in there at lvl 2
constant half class lvl to saving throws.
yes that would be +10 at lvl 20


Steelfiredragon wrote:

I'd put my Divine grace in there at lvl 2

constant half class lvl to saving throws.
yes that would be +10 at lvl 20

I was trying to keep them at the same general power curve Paizo was generally aiming for - Which is why I didn't do any real upgrades or even mega-heavy core alteration.

Maybe we'll get a comment on it... I just am glad I posted it and this topic didn't become a flame war.


true... but it is only really good at level 20 and by then most characters are going to be that powerful and more. and also if the pf2 adventure paths only take you up to lvl 12, than it shouldnt be a problem at home play and possibly pfs too


I appreciate the work you put into this HWalsh, it is thought provoking.

I agree with Megistone, Smite Evil should not effect MAPs. That's Hunt Target. Smite should get more of a damage boost against evil, rather than a better chance at hitting the enemy or bypassing DR. (which I agree is way too situational)
I personally like Retributive Strike as is. But it would be nice to have it have a "Lone Paladin" aspect feel to it as well. I'm personally expecting that coming in future splat books, but we'll see.
Love Litany of Defense and Weapon Paragon. I don't see the devs making a feat in which you can shield block without raising your shield first, but I would be happy with a paladin feat to raise a shield as a reaction. Weapon Paragon gives Paladins a good reason to wield their deity's favourite weapon (which is always a bonus) and fills a lacking area in the feat choices. If you didn't take the Mercy Feat or don't want to be an Angel then you are out of luck at level 18... I would tweak the feat to not cap it at d12s, but add +2 to damage if the favoured weapon is a d12. They already have this rule elsewhere...


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Smite Evil wrote:

Verbal action

Target: One evil creature, within 100ft

Sometimes, a swift death is the only way.
Every strike you make against your target has the wrath of your deity behind it.

Benefit: Your weapon counts as if its potency was one higher than what it is, against the target of your Smite Evil. A mundane weapon would become a +1 weapon, a +1 weapon would become a +2 weapon and so on, providing all the benefits a weapon, of that potency, would provide. Furthermore, the effect of Smite Evil is not limited by the usual limit of Potency Runes, which means using a +5 weapon against the target of your Smite Evil will make it count as a +6 weapon.

Additionally, all the damage you deal to the target of your Smite Evil ability bypasses DR of any kind.

These effects last until the target is dead, unconscious or until the Paladin announces a new target.

Thoughts?


"2. Ret Strike forces a Playstyle, namely that of defender, whereas Smite Evil does not. By making Ret Strike a feat I allow the Paladin player to choose their playstyle. If they want it, they can take it, if they don't want it they don't have to take it."

Cha-CHING! Yes, as nice as retributive smite is, this is the problem. And smart enemies quickly learn that the paladin does the most damage per turn and start attacking only the paladin, and so the paladin gets no additional retributive strikes. So the Paladin is forced to use allies as meat shields so that he can retributive strike. OTOH, if you change retributive strike to allow the paladin to respond to an attack against allies or the paladin, then the paladin effectively has a free attack each round at a -2 penalty (but there are feats that allow the paladin to ignore the penalty under certain conditions). I like the idea of the paladin having to designate a specific evil creature as the target of retributive smite each round if that creature attacks a friendly or the paladin.

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"Verbal action

Target: One evil creature, within 100ft

Sometimes, a swift death is the only way.
Every strike you make against your target has the wrath of your deity behind it.

Benefit: Your weapon counts as if its potency was one higher than what it is, against the target of your Smite Evil. A mundane weapon would become a +1 weapon, a +1 weapon would become a +2 weapon and so on, providing all the benefits a weapon, of that potency, would provide. Furthermore, the effect of Smite Evil is not limited by the usual limit of Potency Runes, which means using a +5 weapon against the target of your Smite Evil will make it count as a +6 weapon.

Additionally, all the damage you deal to the target of your Smite Evil ability bypasses DR of any kind.

These effects last until the target is dead, unconscious or until the Paladin announces a new target."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Waaaaay too overpowered.


Could tie it to Spell Powers? :P


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Fiziks wrote:
Cha-CHING! Yes, as nice as retributive smite is, this is the problem. And smart enemies quickly learn that the paladin does the most damage per turn and start attacking only the paladin, and so the paladin gets no additional retributive strikes. So the Paladin is forced to use allies as meat shields so that he can retributive strike. behind it.

Allow me to speak as someone who has played several 4th edition D&D Defenders, including the Paladin, and my thoughts on options like Retributive Strike.

You don't want to ever use Retributive Strike.

Oh, you want to be *able* to use it! Every round, you want to be able to make a Retributive Strike. But more importantly, you want the enemies to know you can make those rolls, and have them change their actions. You WANT them to attack you!

With your higher AC and HP, it's more likely they'll miss (or roll a normal hit instead of a critical hit), and that you'll still be standing. The Wizard or Rogue you're protecting would not be as lucky. Plus, it's more economical to heal 40 damage from one PC than 50 damage from two PCs.

That kind of playstyle is not for everybody, but if you want to know what a Defender does, it defends. They are the Offensive Lineman in the football team of PCs.


Apparently there's some big change coming for Paladin next week.
Tuning in to the stream this friday to get some more details!

...and honestly? I like retstrike as an idea. Punishing and weakening enemies that hit your allies. It's good. It's just clunky AF right now, and makes you reaction-dependant and lacks proactivity... Nice idea, but lot of room to improve.


Agreed, the number of good reaction-based powers for Paladins are crowding each other out.


HWalsh wrote:
You can have only one target designated as the target of your Smite at a time. If you use Smite Evil against a target when you already have a target designated, the prior target loses the designation and the new target gains the designation. In any case, this designation lasts until your next daily preparation (see page 332).

This is quite a big departure from PF1. Having several opponents you were smiting at one time was a bread-and-butter tactic in our higher level PF1 games, who tended to have a few, quite lethal fights.

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Furthermore, I am of the opinion that Table 10-2 should be destroyed

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