In the Name of (a) God: FedoraFerret's Guide to the Champion


Advice


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This month we tackle one of the most controversial classes, and also I think one of the strongest: the champion. Next month, I do spells. All the spells. Every single spell across every single hardcover. And I'm going to have to commit to that for the rest of PF2's publishing life. Just end me now.


FedoraFerret wrote:
This month we tackle one of the most controversial classes, and also I think one of the strongest: the champion. Next month, I do spells. All the spells. Every single spell across every single hardcover. And I'm going to have to commit to that for the rest of PF2's publishing life. Just end me now.

1st, thank you for the guide, and the commitment to cover every spell that both now and until the heat death of the PF2 universe. 2nd, my condolences to your future sanity, you never know what you’ll miss until it’s gone. But seriousness you guides have been very helpful, and looking forward to the spell gauntlet.


Champions should be able to take Barbarian Resiliency. It has a different requirement than the other resiliency feats.

I think this is a reasonable guide that accurately portrays the power level of most options. I would up the rating on the paladin reaction given that reach builds can apply the secondary effect consistently. An extra strike with no MAP is powerful.


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FedoraFerret wrote:
Next month, I do spells. All the spells. Every single spell across every single hardcover. And I'm going to have to commit to that for the rest of PF2's publishing life. Just end me now.

For the spell guide, could you also note down spells that would be effective for use by characters with a low casting stat or proficiency? (ie- spells good without a save).

There are a number of builds that might be interested in that- gishes that focus on melee stats, people with dedications that don't want to put more into the stat, or people with innate spells.

Dark Archive

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Personal Opinion on a few items:

Paladin Reaction: Combine a reach weapon with Ranged Reprisal and you now have one of the most consistent and GM frustrating reactions. Does he attack the PC with the highest AC (i.e., you) or one of your allies? Unless the gm is following a brutal tactic of only attacking you with a mob (which is great for your team/tanking role) then you're almost guaranteed to use this every combat for nearly every round (except for weird situations like flying creatures or what not). That attack has no MAP on it, so it really frees up your main turn to get into position and gives you the freedom to not take a second attack if other actions take priority (e.g., smite evil/raise shield/lay on hands). Its powerful enough a reaction to consider a MC paladin just to pick it up on a fighter chassis that gets extra reaction feats.

Other Reactions: I think you are overvaluing these. The liberating step can be great for the free step, but the free escape attempt will vary tremendously. I haven't seen a lot of grappling yet, but usually the things that grab are very strong big creatures and they're grabbing your caster or secondary front-liner. The free escape attempt is by no means a guaranteed escape. By the same token, the enfeebled condition can be bad for STR based monsters, but there are lots of dex based creatures that will absolutely take enfeebled or are on the verge of death where it isn't a big choice. It'll be good for bosses to bring their attack bonus down, but not as effective on grunts. Compare that to another no MAP attack that could kill said monster or debuff it via crit specializations and I think the Paladin action is equivalent if not better.

L2 Feat: The available L2 feats are all pretty bad. I'd say that a MC dedication is almost always better here then any of the options.

Sorcerer Dedication: I don't think the divine sorcerer is the best here. You're not dipping for offensive spells, you're dipping for buffs (e.g., fly, true strike) or various one action spells to proc bespell weapon (i.e., 'true strike', 'jump'). I think the arcane line has more diverse buff options and if you want to be offensive it opens up electric arc as a cantrip. As well the arcane sorcerer gives you access to the ring of wizardry to increase spell slots via WBL instead of class feats which are tighter on a MC build. As well, there is the ongoing meta of blade ally (shifting rune) + a Staff of Divination makes for true striking build.


Red Griffyn wrote:

Personal Opinion on a few items:

Paladin Reaction: Combine a reach weapon with Ranged Reprisal and you now have one of the most consistent and GM frustrating reactions. Does he attack the PC with the highest AC (i.e., you) or one of your allies? Unless the gm is following a brutal tactic of only attacking you with a mob (which is great for your team/tanking role) then you're almost guaranteed to use this every combat for nearly every round (except for weird situations like flying creatures or what not). That attack has no MAP on it, so it really frees up your main turn to get into position and gives you the freedom to not take a second attack if other actions take priority (e.g., smite evil/raise shield/lay on hands). Its powerful enough a reaction to consider a MC paladin just to pick it up on a fighter chassis that gets extra reaction feats.

While I won't deny that an extra full bonus attack is good, I still think the other two are better because it's unreliable. Sure, the clutch moment where you Retributive Strike and it kills the target feels great, but as you pointed out with Liberating Step, a roll isn't guaranteed, and even if you hit it doesn't necessarily mean anything other than that guy having fewer hit points to chew through. Comparatively...

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Other Reactions: I think you are overvaluing these. The liberating step can be great for the free step, but the free escape attempt will vary tremendously. I haven't seen a lot of grappling yet, but usually the things that grab are very strong big creatures and they're grabbing your caster or secondary front-liner. The free escape attempt is by no means a guaranteed escape.

Liberating Step doesn't get the rating it does because of the potential escape attempt, that's a lovely cherry. Liberating Step's rating is because of the free Step, which will either burn an action from the attacker Stepping again to follow, or cause them to change targets, ideally to you unless you have three front liners for some reason.

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By the same token, the enfeebled condition can be bad for STR based monsters, but there are lots of dex based creatures that will absolutely take enfeebled or are on the verge of death where it isn't a big choice. It'll be good for bosses to bring their attack bonus down, but not as effective on grunts. Compare that to another no MAP attack that could kill said monster or debuff it via crit specializations and I think the Paladin action is equivalent if not better.

You're right about the verge of death thing, which does balance it out with Retributive Strike, but my experience thusfar has been that dex-based, finesse-focused creatures are far less common than beefy dudes, and even for the ones who aren't, that enfeebled is still a guaranteed nerf to their damage. That's not accounting for the upgrade, which allows you to absolutely wreck a spellcaster who triggers it. The main thing is that ultimately in this game damage is just damage, control is king, and debuffing enemy stats and getting allies out of enemy reach is, in my estimation, better than a single extra attack.

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L2 Feat: The available L2 feats are all pretty bad. I'd say that a MC dedication is almost always better here then any of the options.

I wouldn't call them bad. Divine Grace and Vengeful Oath I was probably too generous too, but in a game where you can expect to encounter a lot of fiends or a lot of undead, and both types of campaign were plentiful in PF1, or a lot of dragons (the first PF2 AP is literally dragon themed,

Spoiler:
although dragon enemies aren't that common as standard enemies, but they do appear frequently as bosses and minibosses
) the oaths are actually good choices.
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Sorcerer Dedication: I don't think the divine sorcerer is the best here. You're not dipping for offensive spells, you're dipping for buffs (e.g., fly, true strike) or various one action spells to proc bespell weapon (i.e., 'true strike', 'jump'). I think the arcane line has more diverse buff options and if you want to be offensive it opens up electric arc as a cantrip. As well the arcane sorcerer gives you access to the ring of wizardry to increase spell slots via WBL instead of class feats which are tighter on a MC build. As well, there is the ongoing meta of blade ally (shifting rune) + a Staff of Divination makes for true striking build.

I see your argument here. I'm personally of the mind that divine giving you access to offensive options, buffs and healing makes it interesting, particularly given that it sits with the monk as one of the only classes that can take offensive options, but arcane is also worth considering. Thank you for the input.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Excellent guide! I'm looking forward to using it while planning out my next character.

One question: Can a Champion even take Godless Healing? I don't think you can build a Champion who doesn't have a patron deity.


rooneg wrote:

Excellent guide! I'm looking forward to using it while planning out my next character.

One question: Can a Champion even take Godless Healing? I don't think you can build a Champion who doesn't have a patron deity.

Not yet, but there's a potential for a "Champion of Mortality" later on for a Rahadoumi Champion. Not sure how they're going to excise the "deity" language from the class for that cause, but they'll find a way.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
rooneg wrote:

Excellent guide! I'm looking forward to using it while planning out my next character.

One question: Can a Champion even take Godless Healing? I don't think you can build a Champion who doesn't have a patron deity.

Not yet, but there's a potential for a "Champion of Mortality" later on for a Rahadoumi Champion. Not sure how they're going to excise the "deity" language from the class for that cause, but they'll find a way.

Sure, you could maybe do that at some point, but right now it's kind of hard to justify a three star rating for a feat that no Champion can actually qualify for.


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I wouldn't call them bad. Divine Grace and Vengeful Oath I was probably too generous too

I feel like you were a bit too harsh on Vengeful.

I mean I wouldn't call it a great ability but it's got an easy trigger condition for most campaigns and it's unavoidable damage that doesn't incur MAP, which is pretty appealing for anyone who wants to deal damage. There's also that (admittedly very tiny) chance to inflict a pretty nasty AC penalty too.

Again, not great, but Grace locks you out of your big reaction whenever you use it and the other oaths all have much more specific activation clauses. If I don't want to multiclass and we aren't playing in a campaign that specifically caters to one of those other oaths I feel like Vengeful is the clear winner unless your party is really skewed toward neutrality.


Good guide, but I have to point out one small thing in it: Yes, Champions have to take Blade Ally to get crit specialization, but they’re not the only melee class that doesn’t get them. Monks don’t either, without taking Brawling Focus. Even then, to get specialization beyond brawling weapons, they have to take Monastic Weaponry as well. You might need to redo the grading on Blade Ally, or not, depending on how much you really rely on the crit bonus. Lord knows I don’t even notice it on my Monk.

Sovereign Court

Another little tidbit...

"...Fun side note, you’re the only class that gets more than one Focus Point without having to spend feats on it."

Both Leaf and Storm order druids get more than one focus point... at 1st level, even.


Rooneg: As I said on Reddit, this is what happens when Ferret keeps working too late because he wants to justify taking the next day off. I assume. Or it's possible that I'm an idiot.

Squiggit: Fair point about Vengeful, the reason I don't like it is because I value the healing resource on a martial more than a damage resource. Using your LoH for damage means you're not using it to heal, and you already have a source of damage that doesn't cost resources. Even if you're concerned about MAP, I would consider Assurance->Athletics for a maneuver on the third action first.

Nocte and King in Yellow: D'oh. When I was going through classes monk slipped my mind and I forgot the extra point that Leaf and Storm get because I was looking at points from leveling. Thanks for the reminder.

Regarding Blade Ally, I think it definitely depends on your weapon. Brawling is pretty blah, but sword and spear are free debuffs without having to do anything extra, axe is a really sizeable amount of extra damage if you have an applicable target, and club, flail, hammer and shield are all really good control.

Sovereign Court

FedoraFerret wrote:

...Even if you're concerned about MAP, I would consider Assurance->Athletics for a maneuver on the third action first.

One problem with that is you have to have a weapon that allows the maneuver, since almost all maneuvers require a free hand (or a weapon trait.)


But you're still losing the lay on hands healing and Ac buff if you use it to attack.

I don't consider it worth using to attack with even if you had the ability to attack with it without taking a feat.

If you are a Redeemer or liberator or a paladin with a shield you should using that third action to reposition or raise your shield.

If you're a two handed paladin facing a boss you'll need the healing. If you're facing a weak enemy you can use a third attack and save the healing for when you'll need it.


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That was an interesting read, Ferret. I love seeing what other people are thinking of various feats and such. If you don't mind, I thought I might share my own analysis of the three causes/reactions. I'll also apologize in advance for the length since brevity is something I struggle with. In fact, it got so stupidly long I can't in good conscience post it without collapsing it:

Entirely too long commentary:
I think you discount Paladin a bit too much and give Redeemer a bit too much credit, but I'm happy to see someone who appreciates the power Liberator actually wields. I also think each cause really needs an "Overall" rating combining the Reaction, Divine Smite, and Exalt, along with consideration of their cause-specific feat options, for the simple reason that they are package deals. Some may have a weaker reaction but a stronger Exalt, for example. All three reactions provide the same base damage mitigation, so that can be mostly discounted for purposes of comparing them. Likewise with the effect of the Divine Smite, while the trigger is what changes. It may also become apparent that I find the three causes surprisingly well balanced, certainly more than I expect going in to examine options.

Paladin - 3-stars overall, but 4-stars for players wanting specifically to make an offense-oriented Champion; the low-benefit Exalt is what really hurts

Paladin is clearly the offensive Champion of the three. Retributive Strike is effectively an attack of opportunity (albeit with a different trigger and larger range). Ranged Reprisal is almost a must-take for any Paladin. You won't care about the ranged weapons part since it doesn't remove the "within 15ft" part of Retributive Strike's trigger, but effectively expanding your reach, to the whole trigger range of Retributive Strike if you have a Reach weapon, is gold. All three reactions are great at what they are supposed to do, so we're starting with a base of 3-stars

Divine Smite - 3-stars

The Divine Smite triggers on a successful hit with that attack, so it's only moderately reliable. Nothing much else to say about it.

Exalt - 2-stars

The Exalt looks exciting but is actually a disappointment. It provides nearby allies with an ersatz Attack of Opportunity, but at a -5 penalty to the attack roll. Note that I'm actually assuming the -5 penalty is to the attack roll because the feature doesn't specify; it could be to damage, or to both. In any case, this ability is disappointing because characters who care about having a reaction attack usually already have access to one (Fighters, Barbarians, Rangers, Monks, and Rogues all have varying versions) long before you get this Exalt, and the ones who don't have access to reaction attacks (Clerics, Druids, Bards, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Alchemists) will usually have poor attack rolls and weak damage to begin with. They also have to be in melee reach of the target, not where most of them will want to be. That said, the Exalt can provide a little bit of extra damage and gets better if other non-Fighter martials have something they desperately want to take instead of their reaction attack, so it's not awful.

Aura of Vengeance - 2-stars

If you can afford to throw both a 2nd-level and 14th-level feat at it to pick up Aura of Vengeance, you can reduce the penalty on those Exalt reaction attacks to only -2 (still no confirmation on attack roll or damage), which makes it a more viable option for letting other martials pass on taking their own reaction attack feats. The cost is just pretty severe for something so dependent on your party dynamic for value, and the different positioning and trigger requirements may also make a difference.

Vengeful Oath - 1/2-stars

Paladin is interesting for granting a unique 2nd-level Oath feat: Vengeful Oath. Too bad it's pretty meh. Dealing 1d6 per focus spell level to an enemy is rarely going to be a worthwhile use of that focus point when you could just hit them instead. Having that "Back on your feat, buddy!" in your back pocket is just too handy. One caveat is the secondary effect of using Lay on Hands for damage if your party doesn't have many sources of Status penalties that affect AC (Frightened, Sickened, Clumsy, etc). That -2 penalty for a round is wonderful in a martial-heavy party, though targeting Fortitude to proc it is a little rough. This is also a prereq for Aura of Vengeance, unfortunately.

Blade of Justice - 2/3-stars

The other Paladin feat is Blade of Justice, and I have mixed opinions on it. It's similar to Power Attack but costs a much higher feat slot in exchange for triggering your Divine Smite damage and Exalt effect, but the Exalt isn't much use to trigger more than once per turn anyway. Probably quite good for fighting things with Good weakness and Evil creatures with physical resistances, but just alright otherwise.

Redeemer - 3-stars overall, but 4-stars for defense-focused players; the Exalt and 1st-level feat aren't likely to fulfil their potential

Redeemer is just as clearly the defensive Champion. Glimpse of Redemption will usually slap bruisers with a nasty debuff, but some enemies may choose to just negate their own damage to avoid the debuff. Simple, easy to use, and powerful defense. One thing to note, though: Effects that trigger on a hit (like some poisons, other afflictions, and the Grab effect some enemies have) will still trigger even if the enemy chooses to do no damage. Some effects specify that they need to do damage to proc additional effects, but many just require a hit.

Divine Smite - 4-stars

Ironically, this is the easiest smite to proc, giving Redeemers the most reliable way to trigger that persistant Good burnin'. At the same time, it also provides an even stronger incentive for enemies to just negate their whole attack damage.

Exalt - 2-stars

Like the Paladin, the Exalt is the weakest part of the Redeemer package. You get to apply the damage resistance (slightly reduced) to yourself and all allies within 15ft, which sounds great for screwing over those Fireball-chucking enemy casters. Problem is, the 15-foot range is rarely going to encompass the enemy using the AoE, and the Exalt doesn't modify Glimpse of Redemption's trigger requiring the enemy to be within 15ft of you. It might be handy for things like Dragons that don't mind being in the middle of the melee when they pop an AoE (although Dragons have few reasons not to spend a single action flying a bajillion feet to line up the perfect blast from outside your anemic range), but it's just not going to be the caster-frustrator it sounds like initially.

Weight of Guilt - 2-stars

The stupified condition is brutal to casters (it's worse than Enfeebled and Dazzled combined for bruisers), but good luck applying it very often. Most self-respecting casters are going to stay away from your party, and you really don't want to go running after them. Even if you get right in their face, if their target isn't also nearby, you're out of luck. This will most commonly be useful after the caster's companions are gone, and the battle is already done at that point.

Lasting Doubt - 3-stars

All of the above applies to this in regards to casters, and making the Stupified last longer really doesn't help the vast majority of the time. Slapping two enemies (once you have Divine Reflexes) with effectively-permanent Enfeebled 1 each turn, though, that's just good fun.

Liberator - I really want to give this 4-stars, but that Divine Smite... I'll call it 3-stars, but 4-stars if your party builds tactics around your granted movement.

Liberator is what I call the "technical" Champion, the one that can do both offense and defense but depends on a party that plans for his abilities to get the most out of them. Liberating Step can get allies out of reach or into better position to start their own turns. This one has been panned by a lot of other reviewers, so I'm glad to see someone recognizing just how powerful it can be. You can cost a melee enemy an extra action to chase their target and often prevent a second attack that turn, you can help your martial buddy step into a flanking position before his turn or just get in the perfect spot to unleash an Attack of Opportunity, and so many other uses. The power of this effect is most dependent on how tactical your party is.

Divine Smite - 1-star

And then the cause falls flat on its face. This is going to be far and away the least common Smite to trigger. Worth noting that it does appear to trigger even on a simple attack so long as the attacker is also doing bondage things to the target, like an animal that has your ally Grabbed and then bites them... except for the part where most animals are immune to Good damage, but you get what I mean. In two games I'm played with a Liberator, I have never seen the conditions for this activated. I'm sure it will on occasion, but the other two Smites will be way more consistent.

Exalt - 4-stars

Luckily, the Exalt is incredible to make up for the garbage Smite. Everything great about Liberating Step gets applied to you and all allies in your 15ft range. Reposition the whole party out of danger or turn an enemy-inviting formation into a deathtrap. If you can plan out how your party will (ab)use this (especially after getting Divine Reflexes), it is immensely powerful in a game that turns so heavily on positioning. The Tactician in your group is probably salivating at the mention of a Liberator in the party.

Unimpeded Step - 2/3-stars

This is really meh most of the time. Handy when it is applicable, but rarely applicable. The usefulness scales up fast as you pick up the Exalt and Divine Reflexes, though, since more Steps means more chances they will need to Step through difficult terrain.

Liberating Stride - 3-stars
It's not Exalt-levels of awesome, but this can still be very nice. Note that the movement becomes a Stride (so it triggers reactions) and halving 25ft is only 10ft because of rounding down (but who doesn't grab Fleet and/or Nimble Elf and try to get a source of Longstrider by 12th-level). Turning 1 square of movement into 3 or more isn't sexy, but it'll open up some brilliant off-turn maneuvers for your party.


Good luck, We all appreciate the work you put in.

I think are underestimating reach builds with Retributive Strike. They do work well with paladins. Especially the Gnome Flickmace so you can still have a shield.

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