Paladin, Project Heretica (3.5e Class)
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A retooling of the Paladin class, exemplar of the Divine Champion chassis. 20 0 Good Good Poor Good Spontaneous Divine Spellcasting
At its core, the paladin is a warrior devoted to wage war against the forces of Evil in the name of Good. A description as such, however, means nothing in the wake of brave knights and war priests that follow the same devotion to the eternal war of Good against Evil; even the rogue and the master of the arcane arts can have the same devotion. A Paladin is also a warrior blessed by the powers of Good, either the good deities or the inhabitants of the upper planes; even then, a cleric is given the same power, and in greater quantities. The paladin is also a leader of men in the eternal war of Good against Evil, but that does not make him special; a marshal can rally forces against the fiends of the lower planes, and that does not make him any less devoted to the war nor inept to lead the forces of Good in their quest to end the Blood War once and for all, and halting the forces of demon, daemon, and devil to the point it will take millenia to recover. Thus, what makes the paladin stand tall from others?
The answer, of course, is varied. The paladin encompasses the martial might to face the warriors of Evil up close and personal, the divine power bestowed by the forces of Good to level terrain with the unholy powers of fiends and their followers, and the skill to lead able-bodied, like-minded warriors to make a stand against Evil, be it the last, the definitive, or simply the needed. Yet, even then, it stands out by much, much more: the virtuous knight that draws power from the forces of Good to vanquish mundane evils; the soldier of the faith that wages holy war in the name of the gods of Good; the devoted hunter of the undead or the slayer of fiends who finds in such task the perfect way to serve Good...all of these are worthy of the title, "Paladin". That makes them no different, however, from the crusader, who draws through perfected, inspired martial skill all three qualities.
Thus, it is best to define the paladin as a "divine champion", but one that draws from the divine through knowledge of divine magic (as a cleric would), projecting an aura of confidence that the gods (or the powers of Good) will let the warriors of the Good faith stand tall (as a commander would to its troops), without neglecting martial skill, even if not to the degree of its cousin. Above all this, however, stands the prestige that involves being chosen by the forces of Good: a narrow and difficult path, hard to follow, yet a rewarding path.
In short: the paladin is the one that wields the might of a warrior, the power of those favored by the gods, the presence of a leader amongst men, and the willingness to follow the straight and narrow that tempers all three.
Making a Paladin
A paladin is at its terrain when facing evil creatures. Most of its class abilities are tailor-made to face such creatures, particularly in physical combat. Offensively, the paladin may use its ability to Smite Evil creatures in order to cause great wounds and hinder them for a considerable length of time, whether through blindness, stunning (and eventually paralysis), or kinetic movement. Defensively, the paladin relies on auras that support the entire party, making them valuable at the front line or within the midst of combat. Their spells, while limited compared to those of a cleric, serve to reinforce their physical combat capabilities and provide assistance to allies, without ignoring the power to invoke divine punishment or surpass mundane obstacles.
Abilities: Charisma is an important ability for spells, Lay on Hands and other abilities. Strength is needed for offensive abilities, such as the Difficulty Class of Smites and the damage dealt by Divine Punishment and Divine Deterrence. Constitution is necessary for the paladin's defensive abilities, such as the Divine Auras, as well as the death threshold extension of Unyielding Resolve. Ideally, the choice of weaponry will influence the two main stats, with Charisma as a primary stat.
Races: Naturally, any race that favors Strength, Constitution or Charisma would be a plus, but unfortunately that isn't always the case. Humans, with their lack of penalties are a superb choice, specifically because of their choice of bonus feats. Aasimar are also strong choices, because of their innate Charisma bonus, and their natural ties to goodness. Dwarves and half-orcs may seem poor choices if only because their Charisma suffers, but both have specific benefits that counter the lack of such an important stat: half-orcs make phenomenal offensive paladins while dwarves make surprisingly good defensive Paladins.
Alignment: Paladins must be lawful good or neutral good. The restriction on paladins has been relaxed, but only slightly: while some paladin abilities have strong ties to law, the class itself is focused towards Good. A DM may allow a chaotic good paladin, but this requires a few changes on the spells and some of the abilities, to further reinforce the idea of a Good character.
Starting Gold: 6d4×10 gp (150 gp).
Starting Age: Moderate.
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+2||Aura of good, smite evil 1/encounter, merciful||2||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+3||Bonus feat, Diehard, protector's might||2||—||—||—||—|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+3||Divine aura, divine courage||3||0||—||—||—|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+4||Standing before adversity (Intimidate/DR), turn undead||3||0||—||—||—|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+4||Improved smite, smite evil 2/encounter||3||1||—||—||—|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+2||+5||Bonus feat, divine punishment||3||1||—||—||—|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+2||+5||Lay on hands||4||1||0||—||—|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+6||Divine aura, standing before adversity (temporary hit points)||4||2||1||—||—|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+3||+7||Bonus feat, smite evil 3/encounter||4||2||1||—||—|
|14th||+14/+9/+4||+9||+4||+9||Bonus feat, standing before adversity (saves)||5||3||2||2||0|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+9||Divine aura, smite evil 4/encounter, devastating smite.||5||3||3||2||1|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+6||+11||Bonus feat, divine health||5||4||4||3||2|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||standing before adversity (last stand)||5||4||4||3||3|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Hero of legend, smite evil 5/encounter||5||4||4||3||3|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis).
All of the following are class features of the Paladin.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Paladins are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with all kinds of armor (heavy, medium and light), and with all kinds of shields (including Tower and exotic shields).
Spells: A paladin casts a limited number of divine spells. A paladin can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time.
To learn or cast a spell, a paladin must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a paladin’s spell is 10 + half the paladin's class level + the paladin’s Charisma modifier. Like other spellcasters, a paladin can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on the table above. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score. When the above table indicates that the paladin gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, she gains only the bonus spells she would be entitled to based on her Charisma score for that spell level.
A paladin casts spells the same way a bard or sorcerer does, except her spells are divine in origin and thus she may cast them in any kind of armor. A paladin may learn and cast any spell on the cleric spell list (see Player’s Handbook), with the following restrictions: a paladin may not learn (or cast) a spell that has the chaotic, darkness, or evil descriptor. She may not learn or cast any spell from the necromancy school or conjuration spells from the calling or summoning subschools except as indicated below. A paladin, however, may prepare and cast spells that are not available on the cleric spell list and that are unique to her. These spells appear below in a separate list.
Upon reaching 8th level, once per week and at every three class levels she gains, a paladin can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A paladin may swap only a single spell at any given moment, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the specified level.
As noted above, a paladin need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not yet used up her allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level.
The following spell list is a compilation of additional spells that paladins may learn and cast alongside the cleric spell list. It also includes spells with a reduced level. All of these spells originate from the Player’s Handbook. For other sources than the Player’s Handbook, a paladin may cast spells from the cleric spell list and the paladin spell list. If a spell is in both lists, the paladin prepares the spell at the lowest listed level. For example, if a spell is 3rd level on the cleric spell list but 2nd level in the paladin’s spell list, the paladin learns the spell as a 2nd level spell. Restrictions on spells are also extended to these spell lists; a paladin may not cast a spell with the chaotic, darkness or evil descriptor, nor she can learn any spell from the necromancy school or conjuration spells from the calling or summoning subschool unless they are part of the paladin's spell list.
1st—aid-, bless weapon*, dispel magic-, lesser restoration-
The following cleric spells are specifically not available to a paladin. These are removed in addition to the restrictions in schools and spells that the paladin already has. The Dungeon Master may decide which spells from other sourcebooks may not apply, and may use this list as an aid to determine which spells are inaccessible.
When determining which spells to remove and which to apply from the cleric spell list, a DM is well advised to retain spells of the abjuration or transmutation schools, personal range spells that grant bonuses to the caster, and spells that resemble or behave as spells from the cleric spell list on the Player’s Handbook.
Paladin Spells and Mounts: Some paladin spells affect mounts, as indicated on the effect or description. When a spell refers to “special mount”, you treat any mount summoned by means of a mount (or similar) spell as your special mount for purposes of the spell’s effect. The Dungeon Master is free to determine any other kind of mount as a special mount, such as a mount that belongs to the paladin, an exotic mount, or a mount acquired by a feat or prestige class.
Aura of Good (Ex): The power of a paladin’s aura of good (see the detect good spell) is equal to her paladin level, just like the aura of a cleric of a good deity. Unlike the aura ability below, this aura is always active.
Merciful (Ex): When making a melee attack, a paladin may choose to deal non-lethal damage instead of lethal damage, without taking a penalty on attack rolls. She may not use this ability to deal lethal damage with weapons that deal non-lethal damage, however.
Smite Evil (Su): Once per encounter as part of an attack action, a paladin may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. The paladin adds her Charisma modifier to the attack roll, if successful, the paladin deals extra damage and causes a special effect. A paladin must choose her method of smiting evil; once she makes a choice, it is permanent. If the paladin makes a smite as part of a full attack, she may only use it once per round.
Unless stated otherwise, a paladin deals an amount of extra damage equal to her paladin level +5. As well, all saving throw DCs are equal to 10 + half the paladin’s class level + the paladin’s Strength modifier. If the paladin accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, smite evil has no effect but the ability is not used for the day.
At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, the paladin may smite evil one additional time per encounter. As well, she may choose another method of smiting; at higher levels, a paladin may choose to improve her smites instead.
Bonus Feat: At 2nd level, and every four levels after that, a paladin gains a bonus feat in addition to those she obtains by means of improving levels. These bonus feats must be drawn from the feats noted as fighter bonus feats, divine feats or domain feats. A paladin must still meet the prerequisites for a bonus feat, as usual. For purposes of fighter level prerequisites, a paladin is considered to have a fighter level equal to her paladin level -5.
Diehard: At 2nd level, a paladin gains the diehard feat as a bonus feat. She does not need to meet the prerequisites of this feat to acquire it.
Protector's Might (Ex): A 2nd level paladin may add her Charisma modifier to all damage rolls when wielding a shield. If she wields a tower shield, she may add the modifier to her attack rolls as well.
Divine Aura (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, a paladin channels the power of her faith through her body. This manifests as an aura that originally affects only the paladin, but that slowly increases in size as the paladin progresses.
Projecting an aura is a swift action, and the paladin can only project one aura at a time. An aura remains in effect until the paladin uses a free action to dismiss it or she activates another aura in its place. A paladin can have a divine aura active continually; thus, an aura can be in effect at the start of an encounter even before she takes her first turn.
A paladin that acquires this ability must choose from one of the auras presented below. Unless otherwise noted, the range of the aura is of 30 feet. As a paladin progresses in levels, she learns to manifest more auras and the size of her auras increase; at 9th level, she gains the ability to manifest one more aura from the list and her aura increases to 45 feet; at 15th level, a paladin gains the ability to manifest another aura and her area of effect increases to 60 feet. Allies within the area of effect of the aura must have line of effect to the paladin in order to be affected by it. The paladin’s aura is dismissed if she becomes unconscious or slain, but otherwise it remains in effect even if she is incapable of acting.
If the paladin wields a shield with an enhancement bonus of +1 or higher (but not shield special qualities that increases the shield's effective enhancement bonus; hence, a +1 shield of bashing would count as a +1 shield for purposes of this ability), she may modify the effect of these auras, adding a new effect or improving an existing one. To gain the benefit of this bonus, the paladin must be wielding the shield (thus, the paladin doesn't gain the benefit of the improvement to auras if she uses an animated shield).
Unless stated otherwise, the bonus granted by the paladin’s aura is equal to her Constitution modifier.
Divine Courage (Ex): At 3rd level, whenever a paladin is subject to a fear effect, she draws from her reserves of courage and faces it. A shaken paladin negates the penalties and actually gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks and ability checks against the source of fear; a frightened paladin furthermore ignores the compulsion to run away and ignores difficult terrain and other natural impediments when drawing near the enemy; a panicked paladin gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class and never cowers (thus, it may act even if there is no chance to escape). Penalties to attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks and ability checks still apply on the paladin for any creature of object that is not the source of fear (except for cowering). If the paladin manages to defeat or destroy the source of fear, she is healed from the condition.
Standing Before Adversity (Ex): At 4th level, a paladin's selfless determination allows her to fight where others would simply give up. Whenever she is bathed in her own blood trying to protect others, she gains a phenomenal resolve to remain fighting.
At 4th level, whenever the paladin reaches less than half of her maximum hit points, her show of resolve shakes even the most gruesome of enemies. She adds half her class level as a bonus to all Intimidate checks and gains damage reduction equal to her class level + 1 until her amount of hit points exceeds half the maximum amount. At 9th level, the paladin gains temporary hit points equal to her class level plus her Constitution modifier whenever her hit points are less than half her maximum, but only once per encounter, and only lasting until the end of the encounter. At 14th level, the paladin does not automatically fail saving throws when a natural 1 is rolled.
At 19th level, whenever the paladin suffers an effect that would make her die (such as an instant death effect, or losing too many hit points), she may ignore such effect once per encounter; in the case of losing too many hit points, she ignores this effect until she receives more damage, in which case she finally dies. This last ability does not require the paladin to be at less than half of her maximum hit point amount to activate.
Turn Undead (Su): At 4th level, a paladin gains the ability to turn undead. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier. She turns undead as a cleric of her level would.
Improved Smite (Su): At 5th level, a paladin’s ability to smite improves.
Divine Punishment (Su): At 6th level whenever a paladin is using her divine aura, if an enemy creature makes a melee or ranged attack against an ally within the range of the aura, it takes damage equal to half the paladin’s class level plus her Strength modifier, and imposes a penalty to all further attacks done against all allies (except the paladin) equal to her Strength modifier until the beginning of the Paladin's next turn. The damage applies only once per round per enemy creature, as if the paladin was using an attack of opportunity (but does not consume the paladin’s attacks of opportunity). This damage is of divine origin and cannot be diminished by damage reduction or energy resistance. If the enemy creature attacks only the paladin, the creature takes no damage nor penalty.
Lay on Hands (Su): At 7th level, a paladin with a Charisma score of 12 or higher can heal wounds (her own or those of others) by touch. Once per encounter, the Paladin may heal an amount of damage equal to 5 plus her class level times her Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). She can choose to divide her healing among multiple recipients, and she doesn’t have to use it all at once. Alternatively, she may use any or all of this ability to deal damage to undead creatures. Using this ability in this way requires a successful melee touch attack that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The pool of healing energy recharges at the beginning of each combat encounter, but may be spread outside of battle.
Mettle (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, if a paladin makes a successful Will or Fortitude save that would normally reduce the save’s effect, she suffers no effect from the spell at all. Only those spells with a saving throw entry of “partial” or “half” are affected by this ability, and only for purposes of Will and/or Fortitude saves with these descriptors.
Divine Deterrence (Su): At 12th level whenever the paladin is using her divine aura, she may deactivate the effect and gain the benefit of this ability instead. If an enemy spellcaster within the area of the paladin's divine aura (if it were active) attempts to cast a spell that affects an ally, it must make a caster level check against a DC equal to 10 plus the paladin's class level plus the paladin's Strength and Charisma modifiers or fail to cast the spell and take damage equal to half the paladin's class level plus the paladin's Strength modifier. This also applies to spell-like abilities, psionic powers, psi-like abilities, invocations and mysteries (except if the mysteries are cast as supernatural abilities). This ability does not affect supernatural abilities. If the spellcaster affects only the paladin, the spellcaster takes no damage and the spell is not interrupted.
Improved Mettle (Ex): At 13th level, a paladin’s mettle ability improves. She still takes no effect on a successful Will or Fortitude save that has the “partial” or “half” descriptor, but henceforth she takes only the partial effect or half the damage on a failed save.
Devastating Smite (Su): At 15th level, a paladin’s smite evil ability acquires a powerful new effect, closely related to that of the paladin’s original choice of smite.
Divine Resistance (Su): At 16th level, a paladin gains the ability to further resist the spells of evil creatures. She gains spell resistance equal to 15 + the paladin’s class level, but only against spells with the evil descriptor or any spell cast by characters of evil alignment, clerics of evil deities, undead creatures (but not deathless), or evil outsiders.
Unyielding Resolve (Ex):At 17th level, a paladin becomes capable of fighting even when her forces fail her, beyond where others could stand. A paladin is never considered disabled or staggered, even if she has less than 0 hit points or her nonlethal damage exceeds her current hit point total. Furthermore, she may continue to fight even if she has less than -10 hit points, but only to an amount of negative hit points equal to 10 plus half her character level plus her Constitution modifier. Instant death effects and attacks that destroy the body still affect the paladin if successful.
Divine Health (Ex): At 18th level, a paladin becomes attuned to positive energy. If a spell heals through means of positive energy (such as, for example, conjuration [healing] spells), and the paladin is fully healed of hit points, she may gain temporary hit points equal to the exceeding amount. She may benefit constantly from this ability, but only up to an amount of temporary hit points equal to her class level times her Constitution modifier. These temporary hit points last until dawn of the next day, in which they dissipate harmlessly. Furthermore, a paladin is immune to spells that deal light damage (such as sunbeam and sunburst; treat searing light as if having the light descriptor for purposes of this ability), and she never needs to make a Fortitude saving throw if she remains in a major positive-dominant area.
Hero of Legend: At 20th level, a paladin becomes an inspiring hero, and her place in legend allows her to transcend her mortal condition. She is forevermore treated as a native outsider with the augmented subtype of her former type (unless she is already treated as one), gains the good subtype, and gains damage reduction X/epic and evil, where X is equal to half her class level.
A paladin that multiclasses into a fighter, a martial adept, or a divine spellcaster gains special benefits. A paladin may multiclass freely into a fighter if it so desires; this is an exception to the aforementioned rule. Furthermore, if a paladin has more than six levels, she may treat her paladin level -5 as effective fighter levels for purposes of meeting prerequisites for fighter bonus feats. As well, she may treat her paladin level -5 as effective initiator levels for purposes of qualifying for maneuvers if she multiclasses into a martial adept class (instead of merely half her level); however, she faces her multiclass restriction as usual. If she multiclasses into a divine spellcaster, she may treat half her paladin levels as part of that specific divine spellcasting caster levels (but not actual class levels to, for example, gain higher level spells or spell slots), and may prepare her paladin spells as part of her spell repertoire; she faces her multiclass restriction as usual.
A code of conduct and etiquette that most, if not all, paladins adhere to, the code of chivalry exists ever since trained men and women took the oath of knighthood and the investiture of faith that comprises paladinhood. The code of chivalry combines the proper behavior of nobility with the particular oaths that a paladin undertakes for her faith, such as the defense of the innocents; that said, not all nobles show impeccable behavior and an oath of faith is a daunting task for any paladin. A paladin is seen by the peasants as a hero, and the code of chivalry ascribes to such honorable means and ends, but the code is at times restrictive and denies a paladin possible courses of action that would result in following her call. A paladin’s call of benevolence, justice and honor sometimes becomes challenged by sagacious villains who, facing defeat, test her resolve and try to undermine her desire to do the right action by placing a moral quandary in which all actions end up failing her higher call. The true nature of the hero is tested in these tests, but not everyone is built with the moral standing to do the right despite being faced with circumstances. While some may say that a paladin that refuses to follow a strict code are unfit to follow such a call, the forces of good do not seek fitness, but willingness to follow the path. Within that point of view, a paladin is not forced to follow a code if it sees it will undermine its willingness to follow the hard path of the warrior of light, but those who feel that the code of chivalry is a viable way of behaving may swear an oath to follow it and prove to the world the value of living a disciplined life.
Chivalry is best represented as a code to assist roleplaying, and not a means towards which a paladin player character must adhere exclusively. Thus, the player of a paladin character (even that whom only takes a single level in paladin) that does not decide to follow chivalry must not be forced to do so. The code of chivalry has a rare inclination towards law, and lawful characters will not feel particularly threatened with concepts such as discipline and honor. Neutral good characters, however, may easily follow chivalry and not fall clear of their stated goals, means and ends.
As such, following the code does not imply having any mechanical advantage or disadvantage. A Dungeon Master should not punish a paladin for violating the code if it has not decided to willingly follow it. However, if the player and the Dungeon Master agree, a paladin player character may gain specific and simple benefits from following the code, as well as penalties for not following the code. Both the Dungeon Master and the player MUST be willing to understand that such mechanical choice should not disrupt the game in a way that it becomes disruptive; if the player seeks to use the code merely for the mechanical benefits and not because it sees it as a roleplaying aid and reasonable quirk, this alternative is not meant for said player. As well, if the player disrupts the enjoyment of the rest of the gaming group, this makes gaining mechanical benefits from following chivalry equally undesirable. Finally, a player should remind the Dungeon Master to be fair if said mechanic is to be used, and a Dungeon Master should never punish a player for choosing the paladin class by forcing circumstances in which the paladin player character will undoubtedly violate the code.
Following are some of the precepts of chivalry, and how they can be interpreted in terms of roleplaying. Bear to note that these are mere guidelines, and that the player and the Dungeon Master should discuss on how this will apply:
Duties to the Country: this is the side of chivalry that deals with how the paladin should behave towards the world. A paladin, unlike a knight, is not tightly tied to a lord and to a country as they do to their god (if any) and her faith, or to the defense of Good. However, sometimes a paladin finds in a sovereign ruler, on a specific country, or on a theocratic nation a liege to follow, and thus it exercises some of the precepts held within these duties. Even if a paladin is tied to her country, it also pays to respect some of the precepts within these duties towards foreigners and towards foreign countries. Finally, the values of courage presented within the duties to country are universal, and admirable, to be common practice to a paladin.
“Respect legitimate authority; servant-hood of the knight to the lord”: the tenet of this duty is to respect the authority bestowed upon an individual by means of birth, law or decree. A king and all of his vassals, given that they are properly bestowed their authority by means of the law, are given authority to rule over their lands and have their own responsibilities and duties to their servants, just as how a paladin has a duty to her faith and to the cause of Good. If a king is just but unlawful (as in not properly crowned or bestowed authority, not that the ruler does not enforce authority), or the ruler is a regent for a king that will bring despair, a paladin should balance both sides of the situation; thus, a fair king without the proper authority should be aided by a Paladin to receive the proper authority, and a regent should bow when his or her time comes up, but the Paladin has a duty to watch that the new king shows respect for his servants. If the king is evil and has the proper authority, and refuses to change his way of ruling, a paladin ‘s duty changes; in these occasions, perpetuating the rule of this king because of his “legitimacy” directly contrasts with her duty towards Good. A paladin that faces an unjust or malevolent king may oppose and even defy the king’s authority if she has exhausted all of her resources in attempting to change the king’s way of being. In such a way, a paladin shows willingness to forgive but unwillingness to accept evil. This applies whether it is a foreign king, a foreign king’s vassal, or even the king or a vassal of the king of the paladin’s own country; this also applies to magistrates, judges, and people who are bestowed authority on behalf of a legitimate authority and abuse of their power. A paladin must respect the authority bestowed upon the individual, but those with bestowed authority are not above and beyond responsibility; abuse of their power undermines their legitimacy.
“Protect the weak and the poor, aid those in need”: a paladin is a warrior above all, and a warrior blessed with a life of commodity more often than not. Some paladins have a background of poverty, or were abused by the powerful during their childhood. Now that the paladin is granted the power to defend righteousness, a paladin is well advised to show social responsibility and protect those who lack the providence that she was bestowed with. Whenever the poor is unfairly deprived of their few possessions, or the weak are unfairly punished because of their condition, a paladin must raise her sword and her shield, and challenge the perpetrators. At times, this may conflict with respecting legitimate authority (such as when the poor is being deprived of their possessions by tax collectors under authority of the local king); in this case, a paladin is advised to exert her best judgment over the situation. Other situations may also cause conflict; in the case of a weak criminal and an agent of law enforcement, the paladin may even refuse to provide aid, but remain vigilant in case of abuse. Providing chances for the paladin to protect the weak and the poor and then providing complicating situations in which a paladin may violate one of her duties is a challenge only few are capable of dealing, some even with surprising and admirable choices; however, a paladin player character should not be unfairly punished for making a choice in which two duties are in conflict, and the paladin makes a choice between one of her sides by use of her judgment by willingly violating a duty in the name of another. A paladin may be reprimanded or chastised by her actions through proper roleplaying, but even these cases should be minor, and through a way in which a Dungeon Master shows respect for the paladin’s judgment in a case where conflicting duties are present. A paladin should only be severely reprimanded if the choice of action is irrational (such as allowing the criminal to escape and slaying the law enforcement agent for no apparent reason), or when a duty may be satisfied regardless of the choice, and the paladin makes the choice that still violates another duty.
“Act with honor”: honor is a very big word regarding the way it is defined. A paladin’s honor is often best represented as how her actions reflect her way of being; it also reflects how a paladin adheres to an admirable, if often unattainable, way of life. Honor for paladins usually deals with how a paladin is merciful, courageous and fair. A merciful paladin is a generous paladin, so it is well understood that mercy and generosity go hand-to-hand; thus, it is a duty of Good primarily, and a duty for the country as a secondary path. Courage is often misinterpreted, and more often than not it is treated as the absence of fear, when in fact it is facing and conquering fear. A paladin, perhaps more than anyone else, is strong within courage because of her immunity to many kinds of fear; however, a paladin is not immune to cowardice. Even when a paladin does not feel fear in her heart, she may feel cowardice; a trait that goes beyond fear. More often than not, a paladin will not run from a battle if there is still duty to follow within it; being the rear guard becomes a duty to protect weakened soldiers and companions, for example. A paladin is not less courageous if she runs away, but a paladin is less courageous when she runs away from her duty. The only moment in which a paladin shows no courage even when standing is when a paladin acts recklessly; remaining in one spot to defeat a strong enemy and refusing to rout in order to defend a more important stronghold or to provide support to a retreat is a reckless act, and it undermines the paladin’s courage. A Dungeon Master should never place a paladin on a situation where a paladin automatically violates her duties because of a lack of knowledge, or because of dubious signs that the paladin surely won’t interpret, nor a paladin should be punished because it fell victim to deceit and abandoned her post in pursuit of a more important duty that ended being fictional. Fairness is a double-edged sword; at most, it means to follow the established standards of behavior or action depending on the circumstance (an effect of being proper). This does not mean a paladin may not take advantage of an edge regarding a situation, but it will imply that a paladin will not cheat. Cheating is also a large word; the exact circumstances in which a person cheats are precise at times and arbitrary at others. A good rule of thumb is that a paladin should never be punished because it was unaware of the cheating action. However, and as an important point, showing fairness implies being showed fairness. If a paladin is forbidden to cheat, and someone else cheats, a paladin should not be punished for being withheld from cheating. If the act of cheating is not properly reprimanded, then the authorities have determined that it is a proper action to follow, and thus the paladin is free of such bound. To be fair, however, does not mean to be stupid; a paladin may choose to fight with a severe handicap, and said break of a handicap would involve cheating, but a paladin that is unfairly handicapped and recognizes it should not be punished for “cheating” when unfairness was shown to her. The standard of fairness should remain equal in both sides, and once one has bypassed that standard, the other is not bound to remain in said standard by obligation. In battle, specifically, a paladin should never consider severely handicapping herself or handicapping others in the pursuit of handicapping herself for the purpose of fairness; thus, a paladin may take such tactical actions as feinting, flanking, disarming and even immobilizing the stronger opponents and may not be punished for unfairness. In fact, if retreating is a tactical choice and will do better to the battle than remaining there, a paladin should not be punished for an apparent lack of fairness and courage. However, how that applies as a fair action may vary.
“Sacrifice; willingness to provide one’s own life for the life of another, regardless of station”: sacrifice is perhaps the hardest of all tenets to follow. Sacrifice is an act that is more often than not a good act, and the exchange of one life for another is perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all. Sacrifice often binds with the tenet of courage, of fairness, and of mercy. A paladin is often requested to be the first to enter a battle and the last to leave, and must be willing to stay fighting even if it implies her own death. As well, a paladin should be willing to sacrifice her life for her country, for her faith and for her beliefs, if the only choice that will solve the situation is that. However, and this is mostly an advice for the Dungeon Master than for the player, is that every sacrifice must have value, and that sacrificing one’s own life has an invaluable exchange rate. Having a paladin die, when her life would have been far more useful, is undermining that sacrifice and unfairly punishing the character for no reasonable purposes. If a paladin finds a way to keep her life and solve the situation, a paladin should not be punished either; a willingness to sacrifice oneself is by no means a requirement to be stupid or senseless. Sacrifice is a final choice, and a circumstance that expects a just reward; if a paladin is forced to give up her life or else something evil yet mundane happens by the time she can face the forces of evil in their own home turf, that is simply being a jerk.
Duties to Good and faith: this is the side of chivalry that deals with how the paladin should behave towards her beliefs. A paladin, above anything else, is a warrior of good, and more often than not will seek the guidance of faith to fulfill that goal. Be it because of devotion, because the goals of the deity or faith are very similar to those of the paladin, or because of the tactical relevance of having strength in numbers, a paladin will often have good deals with good deities.
Note: the author offers this progression in accordance to the Epic Levels rules as presented in the Epic Level Handbook. The author does not endorse a great deal of the things in the book, and may offer a different progression in the future.
Smite Evil: At 25th level, and every five levels thereafter, the epic paladin's ability to smite evil may be used one more time per encounter. An epic paladin may not choose any more methods of smiting. Smiting damage is equal to 5 + class level and the saving throw DC of smiting effects is equal to 10 + half her class level + her Strength modifier, as usual.
Divine Aura: At 21st level and every six class levels afterwards, the range of the epic paladin's divine aura increases by 15 ft.
Bonus Feats : The epic paladin gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic paladin bonus feats) at 22nd level and every 4 levels after the 22nd.
Epic Paladin Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Devastating Critical, Epic Leadership, Epic Prowess, Epic Reputation, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Great Smiting, Holy Strike, Improved Aura of Courage, Improved Combat Casting, Improved Spell Capacity, Legendary Commander, Legendary Rider, Overwhelming Critical, Perfect Health, Permanent Emanation, Planar Turning, Positive Energy Aura, Spectral Strike, Spontaneous Spell, Widen Aura of Courage.
Human Paladin Starting Package
Weapons: Longsword (1d8, crit 19-20/x2 4 lb., one-handed, slashing); Morningstar (1d8, crit x2, 8 lb., one-handed, bludgeoning and piercing)
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 5 + Int modifier.
Bonus Feats: Improved Shield Bash.
Gear: Scale mail (+4 AC, armor check penalty -4, speed 20 ft., 30 lb.), heavy steel shield (+2 AC, armor check penalty -2, 10 lb.), backpack with waterskin, belt pouch, bedroll, flint & steel, 50 ft. of hempen rope, 2 sunrods, 6 days of trail rations, spell component pouch, wooden holy symbol.
Gold: 6d4 gp.
Playing a Paladin
Religion: As expected of an exemplar of Good, Paladins and religion merge almost flawlessly. That does not mean Paladins are inherently religious; however, most become the divine champions of the gods of Good out of a sense of community and duty. A Paladin is bestowed its power, and the means by which this power is bestowed differ. Orders of Paladins not always have a divine patron, in occasions devoted only to the power of Good, or at times supported by celestial paragons, such as the Tome Archons,Yet, when a Paladin devotes itself to a god, it does dutifully. The god's dogma usually influences the Paladin's actions. For example, paladins of Heironeous
"Heironeous" is not recognized as a Boolean (true/false) value.are courageous, and often adhere to a strict code of Chivalry (as the one mentioned above), as the Archpaladin is considered the source of chivalry itself. On the other hand, paladins of St. Cuthbert incline most of the times towards Law, at times with inflexible rigor; Cuthbertine paladins often take the retribution aura and promote force of arms. Paladins of Pelor
"Pelor" is not recognized as a Boolean (true/false) value.are stalwart enemies of the Undead, often taking the consecration aura and weapons that aid them in the task. Other rare paladins, such as those from Kord
"Kord" is not recognized as a Boolean (true/false) value.or Ehlonna
"Ehlonna" is not recognized as a Boolean (true/false) value.have their own perks, such as a culture of divine might or the sworn duty to defend the bounty of nature itself.
Other Classes: The guiding aspect that directs the Paladin's relationship with others is built upon trust, but at times directed by first impressions. Fighters and Clerics of Good deities are often allies with Paladins, because of their skill at arms and their divine guidance. On the other hand, Barbarians and Rogues are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, because of the Barbarian's wild and untamed nature and the Rogue's penchant for deceit. Rangers, because of their tracking skills and talent at ranged combat, are often allies of Paladins, particularly if they share the champions' penchant for hunting Evil creatures (paladins of Pelor and rangers that fight the Undead are often staunch allies, for example). Paladins rarely mistrust spellcasters such as Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards, though they rarely desire relationships with Necromancers and spellcasters that show a focus towards necromancy (all the most if it involves rising the undead). Bards, despite their chaotic streak, are highly valued by Paladins seeking to have their exploits spoken aloud, and work phenomenally well in conjunction.
Less common classes are treated with the same standard. Knights and Paladins are essentially one and the same, so they are often highly trusted, and nothing can be more dangerous than a Knight and a Paladin charging the same enemy at the same time. Samurai and Paladins are likewise staunch allies, with the codes of Chivalry and Bushido overlapping in many occasions, but they differ in their allegiances. Warmages are seeing with a better perspective by Paladins, but this first impression can be broken if the Warmage ends up a bit too reckless on his spellcasting. Paladins loathe Warlocks and Dread Necromancers because of their deals with dark forces and undead (respectively, in most cases), and also heavily distrust Binders and Shadowcasters for the same reason; in particular, Paladins and Hexblades are at odds with each other because of the nature of their jobs. Crusaders are often seen as the better cousin of the Paladin in many aspects, but a closer examination leads to a startling discovery: Crusaders are a bit more zealous about their beliefs than the Paladin, who is more zealous towards Good in general. It is that zeal towards Good that makes Crusaders and Paladins a deadly combination, particularly when the Crusader has mastered the White Raven discipline.
Combat: The Paladin is a front-line combatant first and foremost, but behaves oddly in terms of protecting his allies. Unlike other warriors who use martial skill to defend their allies, Paladins are blessed with powers to punish those who harm its wards and often willing to take the wounds for themselves. This does not mean the Paladin cannot focus on traditional methods of luring enemies towards it; using a reach weapon and holding enemies at bay through range is by means no less effective, but in the case someone breaks through the vigilance of the Paladin, its divine auras end up causing conflict.
However, it is when facing Evil that the Paladin truly shines. By drawing on the wishes of the powerless for righteous justice, the Paladin can smite its foes with deadly results. Most of its spells are also tailored against undead creatures or evil outsiders, as well as most of their auras.
One final point is their incredible endurance. Through their divine grace, their physical resilience, their ability to stand upon adversity and their ability to fight to the death, Paladins slowly become almost invulnerable, requiring veritable shows of power to take them down...only to have their healing powers bring them back to fighting shape. Endurance is nothing without a solid offensive, but with a suitable offensive option, they can outlast any opponent enough to vanquish them.
Advancement: The Paladin's choice of secondary ability score influences its progression. A Strength-focused Paladin should look for the best two-handed weapon around, choose Power Attack and ways to reinforce that, particularly through charging. A Constitution-focused Paladin can do well by choosing a sturdy shield to enable its protector's might ability, then ways to draw damage from allies to itself, lure enemies into attacking it, and providing strong boons to allies in order to mop them up.
If using a two-handed weapon and having good stats, consider using the bonus feats to become a trip-focused character, using spells to reinforce this tactic. If a shield user, consider taking Agile Shield Fighter and other shield-focused feats to make maximum use of your shield, which should be empowered with protector's might. From there, make sure to have a high hit point amount, good saves to resist the worst spells, and enough ways to mitigate damage. Those relying upon the retribution aura or seeking to become a feasible target should get lower AC than the norm, alongside ways to reinforce allies' AC or chances to hit, to exploit luring them into the Paladin's threat range and thus control them within said area.
|Article Balance||High +|
|Author||T.G. Oskar +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Good +|
|Class Ability||Spontaneous Divine Spellcasting +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5e Class +|
|Minimum Level||0 +|
|Rated By||Tarkisflux +|
|Rating||Rating Pending +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Poor +|
|Skill||Concentration +, Craft +, Diplomacy +, Heal +, Intimidate +, Knowledge +, Perform +, Profession +, Ride + and Sense Motive +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||A retooling of the Paladin class, exemplar of the Divine Champion chassis. +|
|Title||Paladin, Project Heretica +|
|Will Save Progression||Good +|