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- Join Date
- May 2009
A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 playerA Guide to the Pathfinder Paladin through the eyes of a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Player
Arguably one of the most controversial character classes if only for its restrictive code, the Paladin is often a misunderstood class. A penchant for Lawful Goodness often turned into extremism, the Paladin is expected to do daring feats of heroism without the tools a scoundrel or amoral warrior have. In exchange, they gain powers and abilities to give the good fight against evil creatures, and also being a survivor against the worst Evil can muster.
This guide will only skim through that. Frankly, the last needed thing is to have a guide about how the Paladin is a powder keg waiting to explode. Then again, the “Powder Keg of Justice” is a pretty awesome way to play one. No, there is another reason why the Paladin is controversial.
From the very first incarnation in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Player’s Handbook, the Paladin has mostly remained the same. It has the ability to cure by means of laying off on hands, the ability to cast minor spells as would a Cleric, a holy weapon with incredible abilities, incredible survival skills, and the most restrictive playing style one can muster. The 3rd Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules kept most of the “sacred cows” intact, while adding a few goodies such as the ability to smite evil, but as the system evolved and the years passed, most people found great flaws within the Paladin. Some were ameliorated with the addition of alternate class features, providing for wildly different styles of playing, but one thing was almost taken as canon: you never play a Paladin beyond its 4th level, at the very most. That is for one reason: their progression is front-loaded, gaining everything good at the first four levels and then getting delayed progressions of things afterwards.
Come a few years later, Wizards of the Coast published the (arguably) divisive 4th Edition, and Paizo published the “successor” to the 3.5 Edition of D&D rules: the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Amongst the classes that were revised and that had the largest amount of changes, was obviously the Paladin. Probably boasting the largest increase in power between editions, the Paladin now plays quite differently from its earlier incarnation.
This guide, as would others, details how to best play a Paladin; at its core, it’s an Optimization guide. However, it is done with a twist.
For starters, I’m not a fan of the Pathfinder rules. There’s a few things in there I don’t like, some I find interesting and some amusing, but I’m a bit more comfortable with the loads and loads of content from 3.5. However, recently I’ve had to deal with the Pathfinder Paladin, and how much it has changed. I mention this because, being used to the 3.5 Paladin, watching how the Paladin works in the Pathfinder rules is quite jarring. There are two very good guides in the Internet, but none are published in an actual forum: Bodhi’s Guide to the Optimal Paladin and Antipaladin, and Cryptic’s Guide to the Pathfinder Paladin: Being a God’s Wrecking Hammer. This guide implements things from both guides, and for native Pathfinder players, this is a great resource (perhaps even better than this one?). This guide is designed for native 3.5 players who might be reticent to the changes, but for one reason or another are introduced to Pathfinder or its Paladin. There are two good reasons why I do so: first, I’m a homebrewer, and I’ve had to work with the Paladin in 3.5, so I should know very well (or at least have a firm grasp) of what are the flaws in 3.5’s Paladin, as well as its gains. The second, and most important, is that I’m a diehard Paladin fan. There’s one reason why I made a retool to the Paladin which I hope is my Magnum Opus; I can’t withstand seeing my favorite class used as a mere dip, or worse, replaced by the very good but differently-focused Crusader. This isn’t a pitch for my homebrew (I disdain the idea of shameless self-promotion, hence why you won’t see a direct link to it), but I believe this grants a unique opportunity to see the Pathfinder Paladin from a different perspective. This may “color” the opinion a bit, but for the most part, I intend to be as little subjective as possible.
So, without further ado, let’s begin with this journey, shall we?
Table of Contents
- Introduction. What you should expect from this guide that makes it different.
- Transition Guide. What should 3.5 players expect when playing Pathfinder, with emphasis on the Paladin.
- Class Features. A notice about the core Paladin’s class features.
- Approaches to Paladin. The various different combat styles a Paladin may use, and their degree of effectiveness.
- Optimal Races. Which races are natural fits, which races are decent alternatives, and which races are not.
- Optimal Feats. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) Which feats work well with the Paladin, based on their choices of combat style and archetypes.
- Optimal Spells. (1, 2) Which spells should be part of the Paladin’s prepared spells per day, which ones should be left best to scrolls and wands, and which ones should be ignored.
- Archetypes & more A run-down on each archetype.
- Optimal Equipment. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) A run-down on each bit of equipment, including magic items.
- Conclusion. Final words.
- Epilogue: the Antipaladin. A slight mention on the Antipaladin alternate class.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-05-17 at 10:42 AM.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Playing a Paladin can be jarring at first, because of how stereotype can work against you. It’s not as simple as saying “a Paladin is a LG blend of Fighter and Cleric traits set into a single class, with a code that forces them to be sticks in the mud”, because that would be not only a disservice, but wrong. The original intention of the Paladin was to be a variant of the Fighter, and the 1st Edition Player’s Handbook of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game clearly points it out: they get the same progression of abilities as a Fighter, but replace their ability to build a castle and become a baron with some divine blessings. At most, their original intention was to evoke the feel of the knights in chivalric stories, such as the noble Paladins of the Chanson de Roland, the Knights of the Round Table from the Arthurian Cycle, and even the various famous knights that filled the imagination of Don Quixote in Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (though, I’d be sure that Cervantes would point out that the real writer, or rather, herald, was Mr. Ahmed Eggplant ;P). However, they have evolved into the divine champions of the gods, despite their original intention not being that, and thus people have compared them with the real divine champions of the faith, the Cleric. It doesn’t help that in nearly all editions the Cleric and the Paladin are quite similar. Still, even as the divine champions of their faith, they are still perceived as warriors first and foremost, clad in shiny heavy armor and brandishing a gleaming shield, living a virtuous path. This is certainly a way to play it, but if focusing on playing a good Paladin (an effective one, in comparison to a Good Paladin, who follows the tenets of altruism and self-sacrifice), it’s not the best. The guide, thus, is designed to point out where the Paladin excels and where it falters, but from a point of view of a 3.5 player.
Regarding format, I will use a color-coding system based off the idea of the color spectrum:
- Red means a bad option; a “trap”, in geek parlance. This color appears when there’s an option that may seem good for Paladins, but actually isn’t. If the option doesn’t apply for Paladins, then it won’t even appear here.
- Orange means the option is still bad, but at least it’s more useful than Red options. Perhaps you could work something out with it, or if you’re playing the right kind of campaign, it might work, but for the most part, it won’t.
- Brown means it’s an option that’s fairly good. One of your first choices when there’s nothing else to go by.
- Green means it’s a great option, but not the most optimal. Once you’ve chosen what’s good for your build, go raid these.
- Blue means it’s the best option. Choose it. No questions asked.
- Light Blue means that, of all options, it’s the absolute best. Ergo, better and brighter than Blue.
- Purple means the rare option that’s both good and bad. If you’re a 3.5 player, think the Truenamer: generally, it’s a bad idea, but if you optimize well, then it goes straight from bad to broken. Being the mix of Red and Blue, it’s natural to point this out.
- Black, of course, means that the option isn’t defined. It’s just me bolding things out, mmkay?
Finally, there’s a few phrases I’ll point out.
- Bear with Me: this is a mini-rant about something. Remember: I’m not a fan of Pathfinder, but I try to be as least subjective as possible. This is just to point out something I find blatantly ridiculous. Out of respect, don’t expect to see this as a bash of any kind to the PF rules, but rather to things I don’t feel comfortable with.
- Friendly Reminder: this is mostly to people who usually play 3.5, so that they remember that some rules have changed, wherever they’re appropriate.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Very well, so you’re a 3.5 player, someone who knows how to play a Paladin, or love the “A-Game Paladin” cooked by Tempest Stormwind & friends. You’ve read Dictum Mortuum’s Paladin’s Handbook and you’re confident you can make a Paladin that would get the approval of Sameo and sir Peter Fairgrave. But, you have a problem.
You’re not a good DM, and you really WANT to play. And the only people you can play with say “I prefer Pathfinder”. Don’t fret, my good friend: this small transition guide is for you.
Even if the game uses the same Core Mechanic, the playstyle is different. Things you used to rely on are no longer here, but there’s a few goodies you may wanna catch. Furthermore, you may be surprised to hear you can play the Paladin for all 20 levels! But, if you want to do it right, you’ll need to know a few things.
First: character progression is different. This is most evident in the feats: you no longer gain one feat every three character levels, but every odd level (3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.) That means you get a total of three additional feats, which is great! As you know, one of the big problems of Paladins is their extreme feat starvation, so this should help out, right?
Spoiler: Bear with Me: More feats =/= betterNaturally, you’d expect that with more feats, the problem of feat starvation for the Paladin is solved, right? Well…that’s sorta wrong. You’ll notice some of the feats that you could rely on are now sorta weaker, or spread out. Let’s go with the lance-point of PF haters: Power Attack. In 3.5, you spent a few points and you get an equal damage return, or double that if you’re a two-hand weapon wielder. In here…you don’t get that much bang for your buck, though one-hand weapon wielders gain better returns. No longer do you get +40 to damage in exchange for your entire BAB. The follow-through is the split of Improved (special attack) feats into their Improved and Greater versions: you need both feats to get what you had in one on 3.5. This last one feels like cheating, because you need two feats to get what you had with one, so…where’s the gain in that? Also, some feats STILL require you to have scores that you may not be happy with, so you’re still restricted on that one.
Second: the combat maneuver change. This is a BIG change, actually. Originally, to use a special attack such as bull rush, disarm or trip, you needed to do as follows:
- Make a touch attack. Opponent gets attack of opportunity unless you have Improved [special attack] feat.
- Make an opposed Strength check against the opponent’s Strength or Dexterity check. Add modifiers to them.
- Profit! (Or Loss. As would happen more times)
In Pathfinder, the rules are different:
- Make a Combat Maneuver check. Target gets to make an attack of opportunity against you unless you have the Improved [special attack] feat. This check is opposed against Combat Maneuver Defense, which is a fixed target number.
- Profit! (Or Loss, but YMMV)
As you can see, the process was reduced by ONE step, but it should be faster. Not only that, if someone uses this against you, you don’t need to roll.
So…what is a Combat Maneuver check, anyways? Remember the grapple modifier? The one that was BAB + Strength modifier + size modifier? Well, that’s the basis of a Combat Maneuver check; your Combat Maneuver Bonus. Your Combat Maneuver Defense works like Armor Class: 10 + the basis of your CMB + modifiers. The fun part is on the modifiers. When you make a Combat Maneuver check, you add all applicable modifiers to your attack bonus. Enhancement bonus to your weapon? Add to check (but only if you use the weapon; i.e. for sunder checks, or when you use a Guisarme to trip). The effect of a Bless spell? Add to check. The inspire courage bardic performance (oh yeah, Bards changed a bit, but this isn’t the scope of this guide), which grants a competence bonus to attack rolls? Add to check. Your friend decided to make an Aid Another check to your attack roll, and you chose to make a CM check? Add to check. Now, this may seem like HUGE compared to the CMD, but the CMD also gets its own share of modifiers: anything that adds to your touch AC also applies to the CMD. To put it succinctly: you’re making a touch attack against your opponent, and THAT defines its chance of success.
Oh, but how about size modifiers; the greatest banes of the martial characters willing to use these special attacks? Well, that was nerfed, but that’s both a bane and a blessing in disguise. Originally, each step was defined as follows: # of size categories increased x 4. Thus, if you increased two size modifiers, you gained a +8 to your Strength checks, and if you had two size categories decreased, that makes for a -8 to your Strength checks. In Pathfinder, it’s slightly different: 2^[|# of size categories| - 1] x (-1, if a size decrease). Thus, a Large character gains a mere +1 to Combat Maneuver checks (2^0 = 1), a Huge character gains a mere +2 to Combat Maneuver checks (2^1 = 2), while a Small character gains a measly -1 to its Combat Maneuver checks (2^0 = 1, turned negative). It seems complicated if looked as an equation, but it’s actually quite simple: 1, 2, 4, 8. That’s it. Thus, size modifiers no longer influence your checks that much, though size STILL influences whether you can affect the creature at all or not. Note, though, that you can trip smaller creatures than you.
Third: some of the special attacks, or “combat maneuvers”, differ. The biggest example here is Grapple: in 3.5, it was known as nightmarish, though it’s simple to remember. Recall the four steps above? Replace “Strength check” with “grapple check”, and you’ve got it. For a start. Afterwards, it was just using your standard actions to make grapple checks. Here, it just relies on Combat Maneuver checks, but the options are somewhat restricted: move, damage, pin or tie up, with pin leading to tie-up. Another is Sunder: in 3.5, no one used it because it destroyed valuable loot. In here…it still destroys valuable loot, but at least now you can just “break” the weapon (i.e., the “Broken” condition) by taking the item to half of its hit points (in summary: weapons take a -2 to attack and damage, and their critical threat range and multipliers are reduced to 20/x2; armor or shield have their AC halved and their ACP doubled; tools needed for skills impose a -2 penalty on skill checks; wands and staves consume twice as much charges; otherwise, the item isn’t affected but the condition itself reduces the cost of the item to 75% of normal).
Spoiler: Bear with Me: Wasn’t it supposed that Grapple was easier now?Perhaps yes, perhaps not, but one thing is certain: I don’t intend to use grapple in PF, much as I don’t in 3.5. Notably, the change from grapple check to CM check should have made it easier, but there’s a LOT of hidden modifiers there that 3.5 doesn’t even consider. For example: why do I get a -4 penalty on the CM check if I don’t have my two hands free? Isn’t that why there’s the Half-Nelson grappling lock? But worse: why maintaining the grapple consumes my standard action, which I can only use to apply a single move? In 3.5, grappling was maintained as a free action (though it still required a check…), and what was more; you could make multiple attacks as part of a full-attack action! Sure, it was at a -4 penalty (hey look, that’s where the penalty’s gone to!), but if you won the grapple, you pretty much could pummel it into submission even with the penalty.
Fourth: the skill system was heavily revamped. Some skills got collapsed: Balance, Jump and Tumble got collapsed into Acrobatics; Decipher Script, Forgery and Speak Language were collapsed into Linguistics; Listen, Search and Spot were collapsed into Perception; Hide and Move Silently got collapsed into Stealth. Furthermore, some other skills got collapsed into another; the most notable is Gather Information being now an act of Diplomacy. Oh, and Use Rope no longer exists (good riddance!) However, that’s not exactly the biggest change: now, ALL skill ranks cost 1 skill point! You might miss the quadruple skill points at 1st level, but that’s no biggie. Class skills work differently here: if you have at least 1 rank in the skill, you get a +3 bonus on the check (thus, you get the same amount of bonuses you’d otherwise get). Most feats were readjusted to the new scores, so it’s not like you lost anything. Of the few things I can say I like about PF, the skill system is one. There’s just two little things, tho…
Spoiler: Bear with Me: What’s with Jump and Acrobatics, anyway?This is perhaps the strangest change around. If you wish to jump, you MUST take the Acrobatics skill…which is a Dexterity-based skill. Personally, I would have collapsed Climb and Swim into a new skill, Athletics, as it makes sense…and lump Jump in there (no pun intended). To be fair, when you expect an athletics competition, you expect to see a lot of High and Long Jumps (though the High Jump is pole-assisted). Thing is, Jump is an odd skill as it depends both on Strength and Dexterity (Strength for the impulse, Dexterity for the fall), as it’s a trait shared by both acrobats and athletes. Jump, for its best, should have remained separate and apply any of the two ability scores on its own. Note that this is also a 3.5 thing.
Spoiler: Bear with Me Again: What the heck with the Fly skill!?Let’s face it; that thing with Jump? Not that much of a hassle; it’s just a personal preference. That said, I LOATHE the Fly skill. The few people who get it as a class skill are…the spellcasters (and not the partial spellcasters; that includes our friend the Paladin, as well as our friend the Ranger), and it has an Armor Check Penalty, so people in heavy armor are screwed up to no avail. Really, it’s like the developers didn’t want knights to fly… The maneuverability aspects were subsumed into mere bonuses to the Fly skill, and you need to beat at least a DC 10 Fly check to move more than half your speed and remain aloft. This screws up pursuit, as a Wizard with the Fly spell gets enough maneuverability to matter, while a heavy-armor guy with, say, Winged Boots will rarely catch him. This is unfair and inane. Seriously, guys: WTF!?
Fifth: Polymorph works differently here. This is really minor, since Paladins really don’t transform into anybody, but any self-respecting 3.5 player at least knows about Alter Self. Well, now Alter Self isn’t what it was before, as it only grants a few things: you can no longer get a burrow, climb or fly speed, no other vision modes but darkvision (limited to 60 ft.), low-light vision and scent, no increase to Large size, no natural armor bonus, no natural weapons, no racial skill bonus, no racial bonus feats…and it only allows you to transform into humanoids, not into a member of your own type. Polymorph is now spread into multiple spells of their own, though it still exists as a nerfed version of its older self, mostly telling “if you transform into X, treat as Y spell”. Also, ALL the spells have the Polymorph subtype, though that happened almost at the middle of 3.5, so no biggie. That means spellcasters can’t turn into stuff better than you, but it also means that they can’t turn you into something better than the enemy. This also applies to the Wild Shape class feature of the Druid, so the Druid loses about 15% or so of its power?
Sixth: Casting defensively is another monster here. Concentration ceases to exist as a skill, which screws over everything that depended on it on 3.5 (largely Psionic Focus and the Diamond Mind discipline). Now, casting defensively is a check of its own, which uses the caster level and the key ability modifier of the spellcaster (in the Paladin’s case, Charisma). Concentration checks are ONLY done when casting a spell, rather than when doing any other action (d20 Modern would like a word with that…) The check DC is 15 + (2 x spell level), meaning that at first it’ll be near-impossible, but after 10th level or so it becomes reliable and at 20th level a non-issue. You can’t take 1 on it because of the cost, though.
Corollary to Sixth: Related to the one above: Concentration ceases to exist as a skill, and is now an attribute inherent to a spellcaster. You can still cast while grappled or pinned, but it’s slightly harder (read: hard until you get Freedom of Movement…same as with 3.5).
Seventh: Magic items no longer require to spend XP. With some feats, you don’t even NEED to know spells. All you need is the right amount of gold pieces, the right amount of skills in a Craft skill (or Spellcraft), and the same time as before. Potions and scrolls take less (if they cost 250 gp or lower, they can be done in 2 hours). If you fail the check by 5 or more, you create cursed items.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Some Cursed Items are AwesomeGiven how the rules to create cursed items in PF are tighter, you can actually create cursed items purposedly. All you need to do is fail the check by 5 or more on the cursed item you intend to produce, and generate profit from it! So as long as you don’t fail by 4 or less, you gain a profit. Note: the Dust of Sneezing and Choking is still here, so as long as you’re immune to stun and in a right area, you can use this little gem. Mwahahaha!
Eighth: Ability-modifying magic items are consolidated. All magic items that boost physical stats are belts. All magic items that boost mental stats are headbands (and headbands are their own slot, BTW!). You can have an item that has two or all three scores, but it’ll cost you quite a bit. an ability score increase to another belt costs 1.5x the ability you want to add (this also works when adding one property into another item, but it MUST be the same slot). An exception is weapons and armor, which require only the difference between the new cost and the old cost.
Ninth: Prestige classes work differently here. This is more of a Bear with Me moment, so…
Spoiler: Bear with Me: (Most) Prestige Classes suckIt’s great to see that you can play a class for 20 levels, but sadly, if you’re here coming with the mentality of 3.5 and thinking “what PrC will make my Paladin better”, prepare for a disappointment. Some prestige classes, like the Assassin, got nerfed real bad (no spells anymore; though, there IS a spellcasting assassin, the Red Lotus/Crimson Assassin). Some got mild boons: Arcane Archer has a spell progression, Arcane Trickster gains Still and Silent Spells for free a few times per day, they can turn invisible a few rounds per day, and they can add SA damage to any spell that deals damage (including Fireball!!). However, that’s as most as you’ll find interesting: most of the Prestige Classes that are unique to Pathfinder (with a few exceptions: the Crimson/Red Lotus Assassin is awesome, the Gray Warden is incredible for an Inquisitor, and there’s a few gems spread out…and there’s the Rage Prophet which is hilarious, because it’s a Barbarian that casts divine spells while raging and is better than the Rage Mage) are really bland, and don’t really grant anything better than staying in the class and taking an archetype. Example? How about the first unique Pathfinder PrC, the Pathfinder Chronicler? If I were to give an example, it’d be the Thunder Guide from the Explorer’s Handbook for the Eberron campaign setting. It has a lot of fluffy goodies, but no meat to work a build around. You rarely take a prestige class because it’s better than a base class, but at times, it’s simply not good even if its 3.5 incarnation was used (I’m looking at you, Student of War!)
Ninth: Archetypes. This is a big change, since it effectively solidified the concept of single-classing. Archetypes are slightly hard to explain, but fortunately there’s a good counterpart: substitution levels. Remember those? Well, archetypes are EXACTLY the same, but they replace more than 3 levels and you have to take them all. ALL of the class features. ALL of them. Time for another…
Spoiler: Bear with Me: Why most of the Archetypes have to suck? Why can’t I mix and match Archetypes?This is a pretty cool thing, and something that most 3.5 players will aim towards, but some of the changes are meant to nerf the character in the name of flavor. The reason is as follows: sometimes, one of the archetypes has an awesome class feature, but you get class features you’re simply not interested at, or there’s a class feature you want to keep from the original class. Since you have to take ALL class features, and once you take them you’re bound to them (save for retraining, but that’s an optional ruling), that means you have to take all the good stuff and all the bad stuff at once. Another bit that causes conflict is how you can’t take archetypes that merely modify, rather than replace, a class feature. The best example here is, say, the Sacred Servant and the Oath of Vengeance. Both replace entirely different class features, save for one: Sacred Servant adds a domain, while Oath of Vengeance adds four spells. Just because of THAT, you can’t take Sacred Servant and Oath of Vengeance at once. Oath of Vengeance strangely complements one of the losses of Sacred Servant (the reduced uses per day of…Smite Evil…), but because of ONE itty-bitty thing, you can’t take them both. However, other than that, you can combine archetypes.
Now, you must say: well, that’s to reduce the ways you can break the game! That’s, IMO, a flimsy excuse. Some of the changes won’t really break the game, as PF is somewhat tighter than 3.5 in what it can do, and there’s still ways to break the game (Paragon Surge + Oracle being the one that comes to mind, just in case). One thing I see on Pathfinder is lots of options, but this is a great way to reduce those options. That said: as I mentioned when I wrote the “Bear with Me” bit, it’s my personal opinion. The way some archetypes work is pretty good, and even some sub-par options can be interesting (off the top of my mind, the Black Powder Inquisition: it makes you lose four spells and two good powers from a single domain for the ability to wield firearms without the skill of a Gunslinger, but damn if that doesn’t ooze awesomeness!).
Tenth: Favored classes work differently here. This is actually an improvement, since it allows you to multiclass freely (no multiclassing penalties), and it pads for two of the greatest problems of a build: hit points and skill points. Your first class is always your favored class, and each time you take a level in that class, you get +1 hit point (equivalent to increasing a hit die) or +1 skill point (equivalent to increasing your Int to 1, so that makes dumping Intelligence less painful). Some races have unique benefits with Favored Classes, which range from inane to pretty awesome (compare: gain +1 to CMD on two combat maneuvers for every six levels on the class, or learning a new spell each level?) You’ll generally gravitate to one of the two.
There are several more changes, but those are the realm of a dedicated guide. If you’re interested in that, might as well read Saph’s 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook for a pretty objective and detailed set of changes.
- Join Date
- May 2009
At its core, the Paladin is a class meant for combat, with some divine magic and powers as back-up. They are immune to a good amount of conditions, and the rest they can survive, with damage reduction, good saves and good choices of armor (though nowhere near the Fighter’s). They excel against evil creatures, but with some training they can also fight well against others.
Hit Dice: A respectable d10, the baseline for all combat-oriented classes. Only the Barbarian has a d12 Hit Dice, but that doesn’t mean the Paladin is deprived of hit points.
Skill Points: They still have the dreaded 2 skill points per class level, so they have access to only one or two skills, depending on your Intelligence at most.
Spoiler: Friendly ReminderPaladins, as well as most classes in Pathfinder, have the favored class option to choose additional skill points. If you’re starving for skill points, might as well choose them each level.
Skills: They retain most of the old skills, though overall they gain more than they lose:
- Craft: this skill remains as useful as before, though you now have access to Craft (alchemy). The alchemical items here are pretty good.
Diplomacy: as usual, the Paladin makes for being the party face, with its impressive Charisma score. However, they also get the ability to gather information tacked in, so this skill got even better!
Handle Animal: unless you’re planning to train animals, or use animals extensively in combat, this isn’t really the best feature. That said, your special mount (if you choose to take it) has to be pushed by it, so might as well have some bonuses and spend a few points. Better if you have the special mount divine bond.
Heal: the Heal skill in Pathfinder is actually pretty good, as you can now restore some hit points with it, meaning you get out-of-combat healing. That said, your out-of-combat healing is far better, and you no longer depend on Wisdom as before, so might as well ignore it.
Knowledge: Paladins get only two: Nobility (formerly Nobility and Royalty) and Religion. Nobility only works for fluff, so spending points on it is a waste, unless you’re playing the Kingmaker campaign. Religion is also mostly for fluff, but it helps you identify undead, so it’s best if nobody else can identify undead. Note that Pathfinder dropped the skill synergies, so you don’t get benefits from Knowledge (reilgion) anymore.
Profession: another fluffy skill. The effects of the skill are clear, though: they work as a “Knowledge” skill for the desired profession.
Ride: An essential skill for mounted characters, pointless for the rest.
Spoiler: Friendly ReminderRemember that Purple color means an option that can be both bad and good. If your campaign is comprised of wide-open areas, you may want to get the special mount divine bond, and the mounted combat style hinges on having a large Ride skill. Therefore, if you rely on mounted combat, this skill is essential. Otherwise, ignore.
Sense Motive: as before, Sense Motive is a powerful defensive skill. It’s the natural defense against Bluff, and also helps you sense enchantments and discern secret messages. It’s your natural “lie detector” ability, though you don’t know exactly what’s the truth and what’s the lie.
Spellcraft: a skill added to the Paladin, it’s necessary to identify spells, the properties of magic items and even to craft magic items. If you have enough skills to spare, you might want to spend on it, but otherwise, a spellcaster may make better use out of it.
Base Attack Bonus: As expected, par for the course for a combat-oriented class.
Saves: Paladins get two good saves, rather than the single save they had in 3.5. Not only do they get good Fortitude saves, they get really good Will saves. So, why green rather than blue? Well, as you’ll notice, most of the stuff that would merit a good save will be lost when you get Divine Grace, and later on as you pile on the auras, you get so many immunities that having good or poor saves won’t really matter.
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Par for the course for a combat-oriented character. You get the ability to wield shields and heavy armor, giving you good defense, and a great deal of weapons. You don’t get to use tower shields or the fun exotic weapons, though.
Aura of Good: As the 3.5 Paladin, it merely determines how you ping on a Detect Good spell. Really nothing important.
Detect Evil: A legacy ability, this is one of your main sensory methods. You can do it as a move action, though, and the information is relied almost instantly, as long as you focus on a single item or individual, which is an interesting boost.
Smite Evil: The signature class feature of the Paladin, and this one really got to the gym and buffed up to no end. You still get daily uses, but now you get MORE uses out of it (one every three class levels, up to 7 uses at 19th level), but the thing is what it offers now. For starters, it activates as a swift action, and works against anyone within sight. If it pings as evil, then you add your Charisma modifier to attack rolls, and add your Paladin level to damage rolls, as its 3.5 incarnation did. So far, so good, right? There’s also the caveat that you deal double damage if you use this on an undead creature, an evil outsider, or an evil dragon (oh goodie, St. George would feel proud!). Not just that, the attack ignores the DR of the target, so no matter what, you get good damage. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This ability now lasts until you kill that target, until you’re dead, or until you renew your class features during the day, so it now applies to ALL attacks you make against it. Not only that, you get your Charisma modifier (again) as a deflection bonus to AC against the target, so you have a solid defense.
Spoiler: Friendly ReminderAny bonus to attack rolls and any bonus that applies to Armor Class boosts your Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and your Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD). This means you apply your Charisma to your CMB and your CMD against the evil target, as well.
Spoiler: Bear with Me: THIS! IS! NOT! A! SMITE!!!! (Very important; read)So yeah; as you can see, this class feature is just insanely powerful, but there’s a little caveat. Simply put, it’s NOT a smite. A smite is a sudden punishment, one that goes as fast as it comes. Just going with the first definition that comes to mind, definitions such as “to strike down or kill with godly force; to injure with divine power”; the Oxford Dictionary mentions “strike with a firm blow”. A firm blow. Singular, not plural. The Holy Smite spell is a smite; Flame Strike behaves like a smite; a bolt of lightning fulminating an unbeliever is a smite; a single nuclear warhead thrown against an asteroid is a smite. This…isn’t. This is a mark, specifically a “mark of punishment”. You mark the creature (with a swift action), and you punish the creature with multiple blows. The way this class feature behaves is consistent with a mark, not a smite, regardless of how good it is now compared to its pitiful 3.5 predecessor. Ergo, from now on, any references to “smite evil” will be replaced with “mark”, “mark of punishment” or “paladin’s mark”. There will be no friendly reminders, gentlemen. This is the only real petition I ask, because I cringe every time I see the term “smite” used in this way.
Divine Grace: Another legacy ability, adding your Charisma to saving throws against everything. This makes you capable of resisting almost anything, and it aids your ailing Reflex save.
Lay on Hands: A legacy ability, but this time it’s quite different. Rather than a single pool of hit points that doesn’t refill, you get several uses of this ability per day (equal to ½ your class level plus your Charisma modifier, so you’ll get at this level about 3-4 uses, which is nice), and you restore an amount of hit points equal to ½ your class level worth of d6. Still requires a standard action to use it on behalf of someone else, but it becomes a swift action to use it on yourself. You can use it to harm undead creatures, but it’ll be pretty inefficient.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Static vs. DynamicThe previous version of Lay on Hands restored a fixed amount of damage, but the amount was no slouch: your Paladin level times your Charisma modifier meant that, at 20th level and with a Charisma of 20, you could heal up to 100 hit points at once. Even at the moment where you got it, with a respectable 14 Charisma, you could heal up to 4 hit points at once. This version of Lay on Hands is neither worse nor better, for a few reasons. PF Lay on Hands isn’t bad because you no longer can heal almost like a Heal spell, particularly as you get more uses out of it and you can use it on yourself reliably. However, the way the 3.5 Lay on Hands progressed meant that you had to use it all at once in a single touch in order to be effective, and at least it allowed a very reasonable amount of healing, compared to the meager healing provided by dynamic damage.
To understand it better, let’s go with Donnie and Patrick. Donnie is a 3.5 Paladin with 14 Charisma, while Patrick is a PF Paladin with 14 Charisma. Both are on the same level. At 2nd level, Donnie will heal 4 hit points at once, while Patrick will heal around 3-4 hit points three times per day, meaning that Patrick pushes forward. At 8th level, assume both got their first Cha-boosting headband (+2) and increased their Charisma at 4th and 8th level for a total of 18 Charisma: thus, Donnie heals 32 hit points at once, while Patrick heals 10-11 hit points (avg. of 3d6) up to 8 times per day (8/2 plus Charisma modifier); Donnie heals in one Lay on Hands what Patrick requires in three, but Patrick can use this roughly twice. At 16th level, Donnie and Patrick get the best Cha-boosting headband (+6) and raise their Charisma up once again, plus they read tomes of Influence and Leadership that raise their score to +2 for a total of 26 Charisma; Donnie will heal 112 (16 levels x +7 Cha mod) hit points while Patrick will heal 24 hit points of damage up to 15 times per day (16/2 + Charisma modifier). At 20th level, let’s assume Donnie and Patrick got a +5 tome of Influence and Leadership and spent their final point on Charisma, for a whopping total of 30 Charisma; Donnie will heal 200 (20 levels x +10 Charisma modifier) versus the 35 points of Patrick, but Patrick gains 20 uses of Lay on Hands, which is great.
Now, you may say “well, Patrick has more uses, therefore Lay on Hands is better”. This is true if you have no troubles, but let’s assume Donnie and Patrick need to heal someone in battle. Donnie can heal someone at 20th level from -9 to full, and still have HP to spare; Patrick can, at best, heal about a fourth of the hit point damage, but can do the same next turn. Both wasted their turn, but while Donnie makes sure his ally lives to tell the tale (probably; you don’t know what will happen), Patrick won’t heal enough to really matter, and against the enemies both Donnie and Patrick have to fight against, 35 hit points isn’t really much.
So; is this really bashing PF’s Lay on Hands? Note, of course, that while Donnie needs to spend a standard action to heal his own wounds, Patrick can heal his own wounds as a swift action and simply keep going, like an Energizer Bunny. Here is where the PF Lay on Hands pushes through. Patrick is a more efficient self-healer than Donnie, as he can heal when necessary and still have enough heals to use on his allies. Also, later on, you can have something that blows the 3.5 Lay on Hands out of the water. However, as you can notice, dynamic healing (healing based on dice) is less efficient than static healing (healing a base amount of damage). Considering that, for ALL levels a Cleric outheals you (Cure X Wounds heals a dice of damage better than the LoH dice you can heal at that level, and by the time you reach 12th level, the Cleric gets Heal and shows why Heal is the king of all healing spells), it’s not the most efficient combat healing method. It is, though, the most efficient self-healing method in combat, and eventually it outnumbers the 3.5 version of Lay on Hands because of the multiple uses. As you may have seen, you need around 3-4 uses of Lay on Hands deployed at once to match the healing of 3.5 on a single character.
Aura of Courage: Yet another legacy ability. No change; you become immune to fear, your allies merely get resistances to fear. At 3rd level, immunity to fear is very good, but it gets better as it goes.
Divine Health: YALA; you get immunity to diseases, including magical and supernatural ones. This includes the mummy rot curse, but not the curse of lycanthropy, which is a big change.
Mercy: A new class feature, this is a rider effect (an effect that “rides”, or that tags along, an ability you use) for Lay on Hands. You get one mercy at 3rd level, and one mercy every three class levels, up to 18th level. As you may have noticed, this is pretty strong because it slowly (but not surely; note the lack of static healing) makes your Lay on Hands into the equivalent of a Heal spell. You get a total of 15 afflictions you can heal, as follows:
- Fatigued (3rd): a rather bad condition, but not one that you can ignore. Lesser Restoration heals this and also ability damage, so it’s not that impressive. Best if used on barbarians that are wounded and recovering from a rage.
- Shaken (3rd): the first stage of fear, but there are various ways to remove it. Furthermore, you grant everyone a bonus against fear effects, so they shouldn’t be scared. Fear immunity is also somewhat easy to get, and bonuses against fear effects are a dime a dozen, so not the best.
- Sickened (3rd): a rather insidious trait, this condition imposes a nasty penalty and it appears early on (troglodytes have their stench for example). Also, it’s hard to negate, and hard to get immunities for.
- Dazed (6th): pretty nasty condition, which negates your actions for at least 1 round. Also hard to get immunities against.
- Diseased (6th): a condition that affects you more than the enemy, and lasts for a while, so good to use after a battle. Worthless on yourself, though.
- Staggered (6th): a very situational affliction, it forces you to make one action each turn. Great on yourself, good on targets that need healing and are staggered by other means. Note that you can’t remove the staggered condition if the target is exactly at 0 hit points, but since you heal, this will rarely be the case.
- Cursed (9th): you get to duplicate the effect of a remove curse spell cast by a spellcaster of your class level. Curses can be pretty bad, but you don’t ensure that you’ll always remove the curse.
- Exhausted (9th): a bad condition for combat-worthy characters, so a useful one to have, but requires the mercy that removes fatigue, so you may not have constant access to it.
- Frightened (9th): this is mostly a joke. By the time you get it, you’re facing the panicked condition or the shaken condition; rarely the middleman. Only useful on the odd chance to prevent fear escalation, but there’s less ways to escalate fear now. And, it’s worthless on yourself.
- Poisoned (9th): simply allows you to remove the poisoned condition. Not the best, but since it works like Neutralize Poison, it can actually be used offensively, by negating a healed target’s ability to use poisonous attacks. It’s best if you can end battles in under a minute, because then you can prevent the secondary damage from the poison. Sadly, it no longer grants temporary immunity to poison, nor it instantly removes poison (you fight against the DC of the poison, so might as well do a Heal check?).
- Blinded (12th): Blindness is an interestingly brutal penalty, as it not only harms combat-focused characters, but also makes them severely more vulnerable (particularly against sneak attacks). The ability to remove it as part of self-healing is very good, not to mention applying it on others, but it falls short of greatness.
- Deafened (12th): not really much of a drawback, though it’ll harm initiative checks and spellcasting as long as the spell has a vocal component (most do). A scroll works better on this than spending one of your heals to remove it, though.
- Paralyzed (12th): nobody wants to be paralyzed in combat, because it’s effectively a death sentence. This mercy allows you to remove it, and right in combat where it hurts the most.
- Stunned (12th): stun is a pretty common condition, and worse than daze in its effect, but its gained a little bit too late. Since you can’t use it on yourself, and you can expect more immunities to stun than to daze, this isn’t really as essential.
Channel Positive Energy: another new ability, this requires spending two of your hard-earned Lay on Hands to provide an area-of-effect healing or an area-of-effect damage equal to half your levels in Paladin, as you channel positive energy as a Cleric of your level would. The healing effect does not discriminate, and the harm effect isn’t much to speak about. On the other hand, it is one of the most efficient forms of healing around, as it only falls short of Mass Heal in potency.
Spells: this has its own section, because it’s half of the Paladin’s power. Just note the changes: it uses your Charisma for everything, and the caster level is equal to your Paladin level -3. So this is more of a “friendly reminder” thing.
Divine Bond: this ability is pretty interesting, as it allows you to choose:
Weapon Bond: this bond allows you to temporarily enhance your weapon with various magical properties. At the very beginning, it counts as a Magic Weapon spell for any kind of weapon, lasting for 1 minute per Paladin level (at the moment you take it, 5 minutes). Later on, you keep stacking these bonuses until you get to a +6 bonus, though you can instead choose between a few weapon properties: axiomatic, brilliant energy, defending, disruption, flaming, flaming burst, holy, keen, merciful and speed. The bonus stacks with your own weapon, so this is more like never leaving you weaponless. You also get more uses per day, so by 17th level you can get around 68 minutes worth of effects (4 uses, each lasting 17 minutes).
Special Mount: this bond is essentially the 3.5 Paladin’s special mount, but refluffed. Instead of getting its own progression, the Paladin gets an animal companion like the Druid (at exactly its level), but with a few extra benefits: more intelligence, the Celestial template and far better spell resistance. This really depends on the kind of campaign: if you’re on a war campaign or an open area campaign, this is definitely the best choice, while on a dungeon its benefit goes down fast (unless you’re Small, in which case it might still work). You also get more uses, and the mount doesn’t leave your side, ever. Not only that, the animal companion can have some of its class features replaced by archetypes, so you’ll never have the same mount. Note, though, that you can’t get certain mounts, like the hippogriff or the pegasus, if you’re doing a transition.
Aura of Resolve: Think Aura of Courage, but for charm spells. This means, at most, the charm person and similar spells (counting by the d20 PF SRD, that’s 15 spells). The two spells that definitely would merit this are Symbol of Persuasion and Mass Charm Monster (add Charm Monster if a DC of at least 14 scares you). Compared to the other auras, it’s not really that great. A Protection from Evil spell can protect you from charm spells of evil creatures, while Protection from Chaos does the same for chaotic creatures, so you’re never at risk of losing your powers because of these two.
Aura of Justice: A very interesting move, this makes everyone within 10 ft. partake of your paladin’s mark, for up to 1 minute. When you have three people dealing 40 points of damage per hit on one turn, you need something that has NI hit points to really make it a challenge. Definitely a brutal buff for everyone, particularly as it uses the Paladin’s bonuses. It does require two uses of the paladin’s mark, but by that level you have at least 4 uses, so it’s not like you’re gonna miss them. Consider carefully whether you count as an ally in that regard, so that you don’t lose your own uses of the paladin’s mark.
Aura of Faith: A decent ability that helps all allies within range to break the DR of some opponents. Useful if your allies lack holy weapons, useless otherwise.
Aura of Righteousness: Now this is a good aura. You get damage reduction (any amount works) bypassed only by evil weapons, and you gain immunity to compulsion effects. There are 146 spells of the Compulsion subschool, making it a useful immunity. Something that’s not mentioned, though, is that this aura makes you immune to a few buffs, such as Bless and Good Hope, so unless your GM rules that those compulsion effects aren’t affected by your aura, you’re effectively barred from the entire buff line of Enchantment spells (including some of your OWN spells). You also grant a bonus to resist compulsions to your allies, which won’t suffer because of it.
Spoiler: Bear with Me: Negating good Buffs out of laziness?A good thing about noticing stuff from an “antagonist” perspective is that you’re more liable to notice the flaws in a system. Now, this is something that also pertains to D&D 3.5, because neither of the two made a proper ruling about it, but if this is the successor of a well-respected rules system, why not nick those flaws that are mostly implicit, but rear their ugly head when RAW kicks in? One example is how these spells like Bless and Good Hope are denied to a character because they happen to be immune to their descriptor, sorta like how someone who gains the ability to heal with electricity gets this benefit denied when they gain immunity to spells with the [electricity] descriptor. Sure: you won’t use Good Hope if you have a Bard, but if you don’t, then that morale bonus to attack and damage rolls (and skill checks, and saving throws) becomes immense. Negating it because, by RAW, you can’t get that spell to affect you is irresponsible. In fact, most people haven’t even realized this, and unconsciously houserule this. If having Wizards of the Coast place those descriptors on buffs was a low blow, having Paizo perpetuate them is disappointing. Fortunately, they still can fix it…
Holy Champion: The Paladin capstone, one that didn’t exist before. It offers a series of interesting goodies, most notably increased DR, a banishment effect against a marked creature, and maximized healing when using Channel Positive Energy and Lay on Hands (remember the diatribe about static vs. dynamic damage? Patrick now heals a very good amount of healing and even the removal of six status effects, so our PF Paladin now has mini-Heals for everyone…so suck it, Donnie?). I would have half-expected turning the Paladin into an Outsider and getting it wings, but the capstone really has very good abilities nonetheless. Definitely a reason why to go single-class.
The Code of Conduct
Oh, you most definitely didn’t forget about this, right? For all the divine power at your disposal, you’re forced to commit to a very strict code of conduct. This is the bane of the Paladin in 3.5, and it’s STILL the bane of the Paladin in Pathfinder. Let’s examine this in detail:
Being Lawful Good: This implies that you must be of both Lawful and Good alignment, which should be easy to understand. The Catch-22 is: to what extent I must be Lawful, and to what extent I must be Good? The answer generally is “before Lawful, you are GOOD” (yeah, in capital letters!), because you’re the champion of Good, not the champion of Law. If you live a good life and don’t intentionally do something evil, you’re probably good; if you live a disciplined and respectful life, you’re probably lawful. This is the one tenet few people tend to break, but the one that’s the Achilles’ heel of every Paladin.
Respect Legitimate Authority: This implies that you respect the law of the land: the King, the nobles, the magistrates, etc. Respect involves two things: respect their authority over the land they preside, and respect the laws that rule over that land. Sometimes, you enter a city with an Evil ruler, but one that was lawfully appointed, or meet a corrupt noble that wants to use you. Respectfully mention that you’re a follower of Good and that you won’t stand for any of their excrement, and respectfully mention that if they oppose you, you will oppose them in kind. There’s a reason why Diplomacy is in your skill list: it involves you being smart, as you can do great change by respecting the law and changing it from the inside than doing the practical thing, taking your blade and introduce it to evil and corrupt noble. Exactly HOW you’ll do it involves a lot on your playstyle, but both the Powder Keg of Justice, the “I AM THE LAW!” Judge and the Noble Revolutionary can pull this off.
Act with Honor: This tenet has three examples, involving not lying, not cheating and not using poison. The first involves being honest, but doesn’t mean you can’t be deceptive; the second involves playing by the rules, but doesn’t involve you being stupid (once someone cheats, there is no reason why not to respond in kind; note, though, that you’d do better to beat the cheater without cheating or making the cheat legal); the third involves always stabbing at the front and announcing it loudly, never at the back or through hidden means. Some people may think that flanking or retreating are honorless things, but in war, they are perfectly sound tactical means. Think of honor as what you feel is fair to yourself. If you don’t want to be cheated, don’t cheat; if you don’t want to be poisoned, then don’t poison! That said, sometimes it takes creativity to work around these hurdles. Remember that truth can harm at times more than a lie, and if you purposedly use the truth as a weapon, you’re no more honorable than the one that uses a lie as a weapon (after all; isn’t that what Devils do?). If you cheat, you’re breaking trust in others. And, if you poison someone, you’re causing undue suffering.
Aid the Needy: This one is a tenet that most people seem to forget, just because it’s a natural one: if you’re Good, you must be altruist. If someone asks a Paladin to kill innocents, they are stating their evil intent and are probably suitable grounds for marking them into oblivion; on the other hand, if someone asks a Paladin to lead the rebellion against the government, a Paladin may very well consider whether the authority has lost its legitimacy (that is, it acts on its own interests rather than those of the people; deposing King John would gladly be an act worthy of a Paladin, but not deposing Charlemagne), or if the rebellion has legitimacy (for example, the leader of the Rebellion is the rightful heir). While rebellion is usually a chaotic act, it becomes a lawful act when it becomes the right thing to do; when it also helps the needy, then it’s the Paladin’s duty. A chaotic or evil character attempting to lie faces the combined power of Discern Lies and Sense Motive (though even the Paladin can be swayed by Glibness and a master deceiver), so there’s little excuse not to follow this. That said: a Paladin can be deceived, as he or she isn’t perfect.
Punish those who Harm or Threaten Innocents: This is the tenet that usually falls under fire. To what extent someone is innocent? Children are usually innocent; is it then fair to harm the child of a monstrous creature who may, because of its society, turn out to be Evil? How about the child of an undeniably Evil creature? (The correct answer, as sir Liam Patrick would say, is “raise the child to be a Paladin and let her change the world for the better”) How do you know an adult is innocent, or merely feigns being one? To what extent the Law is allowed to punish someone innocent? It is, however, pretty simple to follow it when it’s clear: if you see a warrior or a mage using an innocent being as a shield, then mark it. Mark it so hard that even its fall into Hell gets the bonus to damage.
Associates: This is a tenet that isn’t part of the code but that didn’t really need the clearance. Basically, you can ally with Evil creatures, but only as a means to defeat a “greater Evil” (ends justify the means; who would have thought of that?), and you have to constantly clean yourself for doing that. You’re also under duty to flip off whomever offends your code and to choose lawful good henchmen, followers or cohorts (so no Bards, which are the natural foil and companion of a noble knight, as a follower…)
The Code can be restrictive, but it can be subsumed in three main tenets: do what’s right; have a damn fine moral compass, and think like Kirk (“there is no impossible task”; then again, he cheated, so he might not be the best moral compass). For each “impossible” solution, there’s the right solution, the heroic solution, and the AWESOME solution. Take the Code as a gauge of whether you’re made to play a Paladin or not: if you can’t think of awesome ways to raise children of always evil races, flipping the bird off archdemons in pursuit of hot virgin babe bodysuits, and showing everybody how to be the LAW…then you might do better as a Fighter or Cleric.
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Approaches to the Paladin
Approaches to the Paladin
Taking a page from Bodhi’s and Cryptic’s Guides, this section deals with the way a Paladin is generally played, from a roleplaying perspective and a mechanical perspective. The first part will deal (briefly) with the issues of Paladin roleplaying, while the second will detail (being an optimization guide, after all) the fighting styles and ways to build Paladins.
Roleplaying a Paladin
One of the most complex things to handle when playing a Paladin is its Code of Conduct, which is one of the few (alongside the Cleric, Druid and Inquisitor) that loses its powers by cause of its violation. While the Cleric loses its powers if it goes against its faith, the Druid if it goes against nature itself and the Inquisitor if it goes against the purity of its faith, the Paladin loses its powers if it goes against the nature of Good itself. However, it is because of how specific the Code is that causes most Paladins to risk falling. Since they have to behave and watch with whom they associate with, Paladins are often forced to be the police of the group, causing tension that eventually leads to the “Paladin falls” situations.
First, let’s dismiss some of the misconceptions of the Paladin, shall we?
- The Paladin is a teetotaler: pretty wrong, actually. There is nothing on the Code that says a Paladin cannot drink, or enjoy being on a bar. A Paladin will be moderate, but s/he can enjoy ale just as well as the Barbarian and the Fighter. In fact, his/her huge bonuses will make him capable of out-drinking anyone else, and just because s/he knows that, s/he won’t bet on it. After all, when you have the divine grace to withstand poisons and diseases and death effects with ease, ale is nothing, no?
- The Paladin has to be chaste: wrong again. There is nothing on the Code that says a Paladin must be a virgin, or…even that it has to remain chaste until marriage. Quite the contrary: with immunity to diseases, the Paladin is just asking to be promiscuous. That said, a Paladin will be moderate and savvy: a relationship (specifically an amorous relationship) can be used as a weapon. Just ask Samson about it.
- The Paladin has to be a stern lecturer: you can certainly play a Paladin like that, but that’s not the case. Considering that their Wisdom scores will probably be low (if you optimize them, that is), Paladins won’t be wise men that give advice (a Cleric probably will, though). While they have a moral obligation to preserve their own purity, they don’t have to force their will upon others. The bit about association? Think that as the Paladin trying to be your friend, because the player doesn’t want to break the party. Each time the Rogue plays a prank on the party’s Paladin that leaves a bad taste in the mouth (say, like bluffing that the Paladin stole a jewel from a store), the Paladin is just one step away from simply leaving the party, and probably a player leaving the table because you’re not allowing him/her to play like s/he wants to. Remember all the speech of how the Paladin doesn’t let you play as a CN Rogue? Well, switch the tables: each time you as a CN Rogue play Chaotic Stupid, the Paladin is forced to choose between playing with a friend or respecting his Code, so you’re not letting him or her play as s/he wants to. Furthermore, that kind of tension can actually be fun, in moderation.
- The Paladin can’t take a joke: badly wrong. BADLY. WRONG. A Paladin can tell lewd jokes, probably play a small prank, and generally be a cool guy (or gal). Paladins can be flirts (face it: “Rod of Lordly Might” was probably forged by a Paladin-King with a sick sense of humor). A Paladin can be the Deadpan Snarker, and his (or her) position as the Lawful Good guy makes sarcasm a deadly weapon. However, a Paladin can be fun without crossing the line: once that line is crossed, it stops being fun. Think about the Golden Rule: do unto yourselves what you wish them to do unto you. If you joke to the Paladin, expect the Paladin to joke on you, and hope that the joke escalation doesn’t end up in an Antipaladin looking for your sorry behind.
- The Paladin must always say the Truth: to an extent. The concept of Honor involves Honesty, after all; the measure of a honorable person is its deeds, and Honesty is one of those measures. Does that mean that a Paladin will gladly blab to anyone their deepest secrets because they can’t lie? A Paladin will probably not yield to intimidation and torture (and can’t be demoralized as they get immunities to fear; eventually, they can’t be coerced). Remember that nothing other than outright compulsion will force a Paladin to act against his/her will; a charmed Paladin will be friendly, but will probably direct his or her stern lectures and sarcasm towards his (or her) new ally. Silence is perfectly acceptable. A Paladin is well under his or her right to refuse accepting an oath to reveal anything; s/he knows the power of an oath, and knows that said oath can eventually screw those s/he protects. When the leader of the Evil yet Legitimate Army looks to start genocide against a specific race, and the Paladin is placed between protecting the innocents or respecting the authority, a Paladin doesn’t have to lie. S/he can clearly say that they are somewhere, and that they’re escaping…and that they have to pass through the Paladin to get to them. Perhaps at first the Paladin will resort to lying because s/he knows the army will overwhelm them, and its death will represent the inability to protect the people, but eventually, the Paladin will simply pull off a Gandalf and say “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” And then, Legitimate Authority ceases to be and the Paladin is well under his or her right to lead a glorious army to crush the Evil one, because at the moment they defied his (or her) stand, they proved the Authority they had is gone.
- The Paladin is a tactical fool: Wrong. Horribly wrong. If you think that a Paladin cannot feint because it involves Bluff, or that it cannot flank, or that it cannot take advantage of an opponent denied its Dexterity bonus to its Armor Class because its cheating clearly doesn’t know about “rules of engagement”. A Paladin is most likely to default to rules of engagement than others, but once in combat, a Paladin may be wise and smart enough to lead armies to victory through strategy and/or tactics. Terrain advantage isn’t cheating; it’s a “tactical advantage”, and unless your land’s rules of engagement forbid it, the Paladin is well advised to take the high ground. Retreating is a viable option; your honor just binds you to be the last person to leave, so that others may win. A Paladin IS bound to accept surrender, but by no means it has to accept surrender at all times: as the old saying goes, “fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you”. In fact, there is nowhere in the rules that says a Paladin can’t deal precision damage; a Paladin during combat is capable of taking any advantage, and that involves hitting someone in the nether regions or plunging cold steel into Evil’s loins. A Paladin will refrain from using poison as a tactical advantage, though, and it may frown upon using tactics such as Cloudkill, but Incendiary Cloud and Solid Fog are viable and smart tactics.
As you can see from the first three, and to an extent the last two, a Paladin isn’t meant to be an extremist; s/he is supposed to be moderate in act and deed. That doesn’t mean a Paladin can’t be a glory-hound; however, the Paladin won’t go to extremes to achieve victory. These are things that also apply to Paladins.
- Because the Paladin is Honest, s/he is Trustworthy. This is something you build with character. If you’re an honest person, people will trust you. A Paladin, by virtue of his (or her) Code, is expected to be Trustworthy. This is a reward of Honor; an honest and honorable person will always pay its dues and say the truth when necessary, and thus you can expect that person to keep its word. This provides a distinctive advantage when negotiating or dealing with people: are you gonna trust the Bard that weaves tales, the sneaky and shadowy Rogue, the power-hungry Sorcerer, or the honorable Paladin? Most likely than not, the Paladin will be the one people trusts the most, because the Code ensures that they do.
- The Paladin is Just and Noble, but no Fool: This is perhaps the one thing people forget. Unless the Paladin has poor Intelligence and Wisdom scores, a Paladin will be wise and smart enough to figure out what’s wrong. Even with poor Wisdom, the Paladin has Sense Motive as one of its class skills, making them capable of sniffing deception. A Paladin may accept surrender because it’s the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean s/he will always accept surrender. Surrender involves terms, and the Paladin can be as grim as necessary with those terms. Break one of those terms, and you just released the Limiter on a Paladin; hope you enjoy one of the strata of Hell (or the Abyss) in this time of year, because if you break the terms of the Paladin, guess who’s the fool?
- The Paladin isn’t a shrewd negotiator, but neither a foolish one: This is something that people simply won’t understand. You may have heard of this: “Don’t let the Paladin negotiate; he’ll give our loot to the orphans!” Besides being selfish (but then again, the character can be selfish if s/he wants to), it’s also completely wrong. A Paladin is well under his or her right to demand payment; however, being Good means being fair to those who have less. You can’t expect the Paladin to drain a poor town’s resources just because the rest of the party is a bunch of greedy murderhobos. On a metropolis, though? Expect the Paladin to break down the negotiations and use his/her Honor as a weapon. Expect the Paladin to demand the hand of a lady and a sizable piece of land, because a Paladin is Noble, but isn’t bound to an oath of Poverty. And make that piece of land a larger one because his friends will partake of that. Again: don’t be a fool, and the Paladin will weaponize Honor in your party’s favor. In fact, while the Paladin won’t cheat the employer from its negotiation, that doesn’t mean the Paladin can be shrewd in its own way (maybe asking for a piece of land with tactical advantage, and saying “these are my final terms; take it or leave it”.)
- The Paladin’s blade is not a crude axe, but a sharp surgical knife: Partly a misunderstanding and partly advice, most people play the Paladin as if they were the only ones who could solve the trouble of Evil in the world. Because of this, they think that Detecting first and Cleaving second (with no time for questions) is the only viable way to eradicate Evil. While that may be reasonable when there’s no more pressing Evil issues, that line of thought leads to a difficult situation where the Paladin will fall because s/he can’t solve all Evil. The Paladin, thus, must use his or her judgment to determine what’s the best way to root out Evil. The selfish baker may ping out as Evil, but otherwise hasn’t done anything to merit the Paladin’s attention; on the other hand, the bandit leader who has terrorized the land merits more attention, and the cultist of a demon lord or archdevil is probably #1 on the list. Meeting an archdemon and showing the rest where you should point their blades at? Top priority, even if that means saving the selfish baker. Yes: it will be disgusting to see Evil everywhere untouched, but it’s best to have others deal with that, while you deal with the more pressing issues. Likewise…
- The Paladin has a toolbox, not a hammer: Sometimes, just being nice works wonders, rather than being severe or homicidal. The selfish baker? Show how being selfless works, and you may do more than just eradicating that guy from existence. The bandit leader? Take him (or her; equal opportunity employee, after all) to justice and set an example, rather than slay him on the act. The dark cultist? That one probably deserves the blade, but if it asks for mercy, perhaps a better tool may be proselytization. That way, when you need the archdevil or demon prince, you know which tool to use (Hint: look for the “anger of a thousand sun gods”)
That said, there are many things that could be said of the Paladin; it is an interesting, albeit controversial, thing to study (just like how to make a Monk worthwhile, or how a Fighter can beat a Wizard by mundane means). As a way of guideline, here are ways that a Paladin could be played that don’t end up in “Lawful Stupid”:
- Powder Keg of Justice: as shown by the elegan/tg/entlemen in 4chan, a Paladin doesn’t have to fear falling. In fact, it may actually seek to fall. The trick in here is to understand the nature of sacrifice: how far are you willing to tarnish yourself, when the time comes? As sir Peter Fairgrave would say, “is this the moment I’ve been waiting for? Is this action worthy enough to make my eventual fall necessary?” A Powder Keg of Justice shows restraint, but gently and sternly mentions everyone that the fuse is really short. It’s not the Paladin who should worry about that one wrong step that makes them fall; it should be Evil who worries, because once the Paladin falls, so do the fetters. That anger and that resentment towards Evil is gone in a flash, and you only remain with the Unfettered. Intimidate, despite not being a class skill for a Paladin, is nonetheless a very effective weapon.
- The Martyr: worrying about falling means that you’re worried about dying. Plain and simple: you’re not there to give the ultimate sacrifice, you’re there for the shiny bling and the attitude that comes with it. A Paladin who’s willing to give his or her life for the sake of others is a Paladin who doesn’t care about falling. After all: if you die after the fall, that means your deity is (or the forces of Good are) angry with you. You’re the first to engage, and the last to leave, and you’re sure not to die until everyone leaves safely. And then, when everyone’s gone…then the fun starts, and you fight with no regards for safety, because the ones who really should be safe ARE. If you fall, and you fight the good fight, and you still live, you know that your deity (or the power of Good) agrees with you, and that alone will probably earn your Atonement. Who knows; maybe by showing that you’re not worried about your powers, you actually earn them back? Still: you worry about the rest, so you’re pretty sure you’re not violating your code. When the choice is between the life of an innocent and the life of all mortals, you know whose innocent will gladly give its life: you, of course, and you’re gonna tell that archdevil right in his face “not on my watch”. When playing a Martyr, make sure that, even in death, you screw the enemy: the 4th level spell Blaze of Glory is right down your alley.
- The Surgical Smiter: sometimes, the most effective way to deal with evil is just cutting it from the root. However, what to do when there’s so much Evil in the world? The forces of Good left you quite a bit of tools to fulfill this: a keen sense to detect Evil in people’s hearts, a mark that makes the poor fool writhe as you land every blow unopposed, a strong arm to hit like a truck, and spells that make your blow even more lethal. You spend every time of your day looking for the signs: you don’t care about the small fries, after all. You’re merciful; letting them live because they’re beneath your notice is as much mercy as they can get, because at the moment they cross you, they find out why you’re divinely empowered. However, when you get to see that person whose very presence churns your stomach and burns your eyes, that’s the moment where you mark that bastard into utter oblivion. Do so, clean your blade, set the bloodstain as an example of what happens to those that fall into depravation, and leave. Trust me; when people see that, they’ll be flooding into redemption. Just make sure to drop classics such as “that could have been you”, or “my blade is merciful, for it desires no further blood; you may want to think about that”. The Surgical Smiter overlaps a bit with the Powder Keg of Justice, but whereas the PKoJ uses the threat of force as a weapon, the Surgical Smiter uses directed force as a threat. A good Surgical Smiter builds itself for maximum effectiveness, generally choosing the Oath of Vengeance which is right up the alley.
- The Knight in Sour Armor: most people expect the Paladin to have armor as shiny as the sun, and a brain just as scrubbed. Sadly, when you see Evil in the face, it sees you back, and it marks you (you know, just as you mark Evil for obliteration). Yes, you are Good, but you’re definitely not Nice. You’re not looking for Evil to slay; you’re looking for that bit of Good that makes everything worthwhile, but while at it, you’re as offensive as the smell of a troglodyte clutch. You know for a fact that the party’s friendly Rogue is just waiting for its time to steal your stuff and make a run for it, and you’re perfectly willing to fight for HIS share because he’ll eventually take it anyways. All you know is that you’re the only Good guy, that there’s probably some good out there, but if it is, it’s well hidden and precious. Sometimes, when you really find genuine Goodness, you drop the charade and maybe believe in idealism again, but for the meanwhile, you choose to fight the good fight until the world ends, because the world’s gonna end anyway. Might as well start the eventual fight against Evil by now, rather than hope it never happens, right? The Powder Keg of Justice is a more specific kind of KiSA, who trades his (or her) acrid vestments for a bomb vest.
- The Exemplar: going through the path of idealism, you could prefer to set the example rather than chastise everyone about it. If people see that being Good is its own reward, and that the reward is good, then people will turn to Good in a heartbeat. You’re probably nice to people, willing to help in every bit, and eager to accept change, because change is possible. Just remember: you’re there to set the example. Sometimes, setting the example means showing why Evil doesn’t pay. The Exemplar doesn’t have to be ALWAYS nice; just pepper that niceness with some grimness, and you’re set for life. People will want to be in your nice side rather than seeing the bad side come forth. Maybe being grim hurts, but eventually, you’ll let that sit aside. You’re willing to forgive and forget, but eventually, when the CN fool believes that he finally got into your nerves, you gently set the example of why it’s not nice to play with the Dragon. Gently set the example to the haughty mage who thinks he can solve everything that there are bigger fish to fry. Just know when to smile. As usual, Diplomacy is the tool of nice people, but also knowing well how the team plays and how to use that to your advantage, rather than worrying about how that affects you.
- Sergeant Rock: sometimes, it’s best to take the reins of the group rather than play with them. However, there’s nothing that people respect more than efficiency, and you’re built for it. You set the rules, you set the tactics, you leave the Rogue to rot because he didn’t follow your rules, but there’s one good reason for it. It works. Don’t nag people because what they do offends you; quite the contrary, point to them that all the bad stuff that happens to them is because of their own damn fault. In battle and out of battle, work as a well-greased unit. Oftentimes, it’ll be the offender who leaves, not you...and when his (or her) luck runs dry, then it’s the time for the lecture to end all lectures. This is more of an “expert” character, meant for expert players who are teaching newbies the rungs of the game. In that way, you can take leadership, and probably teach people how to respect a Paladin. Plan ahead with your teammates and choose teamwork feats if everyone chooses them, or in the case someone else has a better way to deal with teamwork (a Bard or Cavalier, your “Captain Smooth”), be the one that actually gives the orders while your friend focuses on using your guidance to lead.
While some examples may overlap, you can notice that there’s many ways to play a Paladin that feel unique and that don’t necessarily rely on being Lawful Stupid. Just remember that everyone’s there to have some fun, and recall that just as everyone is meant to have fun, so do you.
Now that we’re out of the (probably) most subjective part of the guide, let’s go with…
Gaming a Paladin
Mechanically speaking, a Paladin is a “combat-focused” character, akin to the Fighter. This is in contrast with the Rogue, who merely dabbles in combat but focuses more on skills, to the Cleric that focuses on divine magic (healing, buffing and laying divine fury) and the Wizard, who specializes in arcane magic (battlefield control, buffing and dropping the bombs). You have a very clear specialty regarding other races, and that is simple; against Evil, you’re the one. However, what happens when there are no Evil creatures, and the time of parley is over? What about Neutral creatures who are simply protecting their spot?
Before we begin, we need to see the ability scores and how they apply to the Paladin. New players will like to see how each ability score applies to the Paladin and why it’s best to leave a few scores behind, while transitioning 3.5 players should look this for re-adjustment.
- Strength is used to determine your attack rolls and damage rolls with melee weapons, your carrying capacity, your Combat Maneuver bonus (and Combat Maneuver Defense, as well). If you intend to be on the frontlines wielding ANY weapon and dealing enough damage to matter, you need Strength.
- Dexterity is used to determine your initiative, a portion of your Armor Class and your Reflex saves. Likewise, it determines the attack roll with ranged weapons of any kind. As you can see, while having good initiative and padding your Reflex saves is important, you won’t get as much benefit from Dexterity as you’d do with Strength unless you focus on ranged combat. Heavy armor fixes how much of your Dexterity modifier you can apply to your Armor Class, so if you’re aiming for heavy armor you don’t need very high Dexterity. Dexterity is essential to some builds, however, that depend on being in the frontlines.
- Constitution is used to determine your hit points and your Fortitude saves. Being on the frontlines, you need as much hit points as possible, but you have good enough Fortitude saves to make it matter. Being that the Concentration skill is no longer available and you can choose to gain an extra hit point as a favored class bonus (the equivalent of having a Constitution 2 points higher, or increasing the class Hit Dice by one step unless you have a d12 Hit Dice), Constitution is less necessary than before.
- Intelligence determines your total skill points, a good deal of skills (almost all Knowledge skills and most technical skills like Craft, Disable Device and Spellcraft), and for some, their spellcasting ability. Paladins won’t get much out of Intelligence, so it can be safely “dumped”, leaving your worst score here.
- Wisdom is used to determine your Will saves, the effectiveness of some skills (such as Perception and Sense Motive) and for some, their spellcasting ability. Paladins already have a good Will save and while Sense Motive is a class skill for them, they should get enough Wisdom to matter, hence this stat is not necessary for Paladins.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Paladins and Spellcasting3.5 players will remember that they need to have at least a 14 in Wisdom to cast spells, because the edition made prepared divine spellcasting (the kind of spellcasting that Paladins use) fixed on Wisdom. Pathfinder changed the key ability modifier for Paladin spellcasting to Charisma, so they no longer need to raise Wisdom at all.
- Charisma generally is used to determine your success with social skills, such as Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate. To some, such as the Paladin, it also determines their spellcasting. Paladins have class features that depend on Charisma, such as Divine Grace and the uses of Lay on Hands, so to them this ability score is essential.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Multiple Ability DependencyGrizzled 3.5 veterans may scare Pathfinder players with tales of how the Paladin is “MAD”, and not necessarily because being a champion of Good requires being mentally maladjusted. “MAD” is an acronym for “multiple ability dependency”, or the need for a character to depend on multiple ability scores to be effective. Some classes, such as the Wizard or the Sorcerer, will depend on a single ability score (Intelligence for Wizards, Charisma for Sorcerers) to be effective because that is the source of their power. Likewise, melee characters will probably focus on Strength, while ranged combat characters will focus on Dexterity. This is known as “single ability dependency”, or “SAD”, but it seems a bit misleading. A character can, if it wants to, focus on a single ability score, but a well-built character will have two or three scores that are “secondary”. Generally, a Wizard or Sorcerer will have Dexterity or Constitution as its secondary scores, because it wants the traits these offer: good hit points, better AC, better Fortitude and Reflex saves to pad out their deficiencies, going first in battle, etc. However, the priority for a Wizard or a Sorcerer is its primary ability score, which would be Intelligence or Charisma (respectively). A Fighter wielding a two-handed weapon will prefer to maximize Strength as much as possible, but welcomes Constitution because of the benefits, and maybe a bit of Dexterity for the benefits as well. Sometimes, a class may have a primary ability score, but depend on another one so badly that neglecting it will harm the character. For example: a Ranger that chooses the Two-Weapon Combat Style will favor Strength for its bonuses to attack and damage rolls, but because it MUST wield Light Armor and it intends to be on the front-lines, the Ranger must invest in Dexterity (particularly as some feats will require the Ranger to have the right amount of Dexterity). The Ranger needs Wisdom to cast its spells, but if it focuses only on Strength and Wisdom, it’ll suffer from multiple hits because of its poor AC. Furthermore, the Ranger will need a decent Constitution, or else it’ll die faster because it needs to pad the amount of AC it loses for its lower Dexterity with more hit points. When a class depends greatly on more than four ability scores, it is considered to depend on “multiple abilities” (rather than one [SAD] or two [DAD]), and thus is considered “MAD”. Multiple Ability Dependency is a danger, because it either forces you to spread out your ability scores to balance things out, or sacrifice one to empower the others. With good rolls or enough points to buy ability scores, this may not be noticeable, but when you have only one or two good scores, being “MAD” hurts. In 3.5, Paladins depended on good Strength (because they were inclined towards melee combat), Constitution (for their HP and Fortitude saves), Wisdom (for their spellcasting) and Charisma (for their class features), making them MAD. Pathfinder removed the need for Wisdom, making them less “MAD”, and the favored class options made them less reliant on Constitution or Intelligence, making them dependable on Strength (or Dexterity) and Charisma, hence being “DAD” (Dual Ability Dependent). You may notice that some fighting styles below re-introduce MADness into the Paladin, and hence are considered poor options, but nothing prevents you from choosing those. After all, the idea of optimization isn’t to condemn you to cookie-cutter builds, but to take your build and make it more efficient.
“Combat-focused” characters, like Fighters and Paladins, are more efficient when they’re using weapons and tactics to fight, rather than using skills (like the Rogue) or spells (like the Wizard). Being a spellcaster and having class features that allow for healing, the Paladin can certainly focus on its spellcasting or being a combat medic, but this isn’t as efficient as contributing to finishing the battle earlier. The following are the seven typical offensive combat styles present in the game: sword & board, fencing, two-hander, two weapons, unarmed, mounted combat, throwing weapons and archery. Pathfinder, through the Ultimate Combat supplement, added gunmanship to the fighting styles.
- Sword & Board (SnB): this fighting style relies on using a weapon in one hand (not necessarily a sword) and a shield in the other (the “board”), relying on a combination of offense and defense. Offensively, this means the Paladin will use a weapon and its shield in tandem, then settling for shield defense when expecting the counter-attack. Fighting with weapon and shield offensively is inefficient, as the loss in offense from a two-handed weapon does not compensate the gain of the shield, the shield is a poor weapon compared to a light weapon when fighting with two hands, and requires dabbling in two styles to be effective (namely, the Paladin must begin as a Two-Weapons user). Offensive Sword & Board Paladins need good Strength (for their attack and damage rolls), good Dexterity (to meet the Two-Weapon Fighting requirements), decent Constitution (being front-liners) and good Charisma (for their class features), making them MAD. The build also requires a huge load of feats, combining Improved Shield Bash with Two-Weapon Fighting in order to use the shield offensively without losing its defensive qualities. All in all, the fighting style is too complicated for even the most experienced Paladin, and thus not recommended.
Ability Score Priority: Dex > Cha > Str > Con > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Shield Bash, Shield Focus
- Fencing (Fen): this fighting style relies on using light melee weapons or weapons such as the rapier, and relying on fancy maneuvers rather than brute force. More often than not, these builds use Combat Maneuvers such as disarming and tripping, and generally are expected to wield nothing in the off-hand (the hand you’re not using, typically your left hand if you’re dexterous). Fencing also involves wielding light armor, and works best when you have ways to stack damage in a single blow; while the Paladin’s mark is a good example, it generally works only against evil creatures, which will generally require better weapons. Fencer Paladins require decent Strength (for damage rolls), Dexterity (for attack rolls and Armor Class), decent Constitution (for hit points), at least a 13 Intelligence (to get Combat Expertise and open the fencing maneuvers feat chains), and good Charisma (for class features). The build works fine with Weapon Finesse and any feat that requires such only, but the added Intelligence allows for additional skills and Combat Expertise, which opens a whole world of feats. Sadly, the Paladin doesn’t have enough feats to encompass the full fencing style, and thus isn’t recommended.
Ability Score Priority: Dex > Cha > Str = Con > Wis; Int 13 or no Int.
Important Feats: Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm or Improved Trip
- Two-Hander (THF): this fighting style relies on wielding two-handed weapons and brute force. These warriors generally use Combat Maneuvers that rely on brute force, such as Bull Rush and Sunder. Arguably the simplest of all fighting styles, Two-Hander Paladins only need a few ability scores, making them very efficient: good Strength (for attack and damage rolls, the latter modified because of the way the weapon is wielded), decent Constitution (for HP and Fortitude saves) and good Charisma (for class features). The crowning jewel of the style is Power Attack, which gains greater returns when wielding a two-handed weapon, and needs little in the way of improvement. A starter Paladin would be advised to prepare for this combat style as early as 4th level, and is greatly recommended.
Ability Score Priority: Str > Cha > Con > Dex > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Power Attack
- Two-Weapons (TWF): this fighting style relies on wielding a weapon in each hand, typically a one-handed weapon in your main hand and a light melee weapon in another. Two-Weapon Paladins rely on dealing multiple hits rather than a single one, each loading as many bonuses to attack and damage as possible for maximum efficiency; on the other hand, they are not entirely mobile. Two-Weapon Paladins require high Dexterity to meet the requirements for the Two-Weapon Fighting chain, but otherwise behave a lot like Offensive Sword & Board Paladins (good Strength, decent Constitution, good Charisma), which can be a problem. However, they depend on less feats than Offensive Sword & Board Paladins, giving them some flexibility. Two-Weapon Paladins are somewhat more complex, and better for veterans of the game, but because of the way the Paladin’s mark works, they become deadly efficient against Evil creatures.
Ability Score Priority: Dex > Cha > Str = Con > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting
- Unarmed (US): another simple fighting style, this involves fighting without any weapon. Generally, this involves maximizing the damage from the Paladin’s unarmed strike, and also focusing on the Grapple maneuver to bind the opponent. Unarmed Paladins are better at grappling than actual fighting, but are rarely, if ever, surprised by having no weapons around; on the other hand, without enough bonuses to attack rolls, this fighting style loses its power quickly. Unarmed Paladins need good Strength (for attack and damage rolls), decent Dexterity (for Armor Class and Reflex, and to open the Improved Grapple feat chain), decent Constitution (for HP and Fortitude saves) and good Charisma (for their class features). Unarmed Paladins require the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, which opens a few different options such as Improved Grapple, Scorpion Style or even (with the odd addition to Wisdom) Stunning Fist. All in all, the Unarmed Paladin is best at disabling than harming, and recommended for veterans looking for something new.
Ability Score Priority: Str > Cha > Con > Dex > Wis > Int
Important Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike
- Mounted Combat (MC): a traditional fighting style of Paladins, this involves fighting in tandem with a mount. Because one of the Paladin's class features involves summoning a supernaturally augmented mount, and because they have Ride and Handle Animal as class skills, this fighting style is natural to them. Mounted Paladins rely on using a specific weapon (the lance) to make a single charge against a target, maximizing all damage dealt in that blow. The fighting style is simple and effective, but has a large problem: it relies fighting in wide-open areas, in order to allow enough space to charge in. Mounted Paladins suffer in enclosed spaces (such as most dungeons), but thrive in open areas and specifically in battlefields, where they excel. Mounted Paladins are very similar to Two-Hander Paladins in terms of stats (good Strength and Charisma, decent Constitution), but their feat choice is different: they must gain Mounted Combat and reach up to Spirited Charge before they can excel. A Mounted Paladin is as good as its mount, and therefore the fighting style is slightly more expensive as the mount needs its own protection. Because of its simplicity, whenever the campaign relies on open areas or there is a way to allow use of mounts in dungeons, the Mounted Paladin is highly recommended; otherwise, skip.
Ability Score Priority: Str > Cha > Con > Dex > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Mounted Combat, Spirited Charge
- Throwing Weapons (Thr): an unorthodox fighting style that relies on using throwing weapons to maximum efficiency. Oftentimes, this fighting style serves as a complement to some other combat style (generally Two-Weapons), as it’s weak on its own and works whenever there’s a need of range. Because throwing weapons have usually short ranges, they aren’t as efficient as Archery for mid- and long-range combat, but the ability to add Strength to their damage rolls makes them viable. Weapon-Throwing Paladins need to strike a balance between Strength and Dexterity (as Strength applies to damage rolls but Dexterity applies to attack rolls), decent Constitution (for HP and Fortitude) and good Charisma (for their class features). Weapon-Throwing Paladins usually focus on one kind of thrown weapon and require Quick Draw to use all their attacks. As a primary attack style, its otherwise very similar to Archery, though Far Shot is usually necessary; as a secondary combat style, it’s less necessary. Thrown weapons require far too much love to be useful, and thus aren’t a recommended combat style, save if the Paladin has enough feats and doesn’t like archery (and can use melee weapons with a range increment).
Ability Score Priority: Str = Dex > Cha > Con > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Quick Draw, Deadly Aim, Point-Blank Shot (if primary)
- Archery (Arc): the premier ranged fighting style, this relies on using a bow (and only a bow) for combat. One of the two fighting styles that doesn’t require being on the frontlines, Archer Paladins can go easy on defense, preferring to defeat their opponent before they even reach nearby. Archer Paladins require decent Strength (to add their Strength modifier to damage rolls with composite longbows), good Dexterity (for attack rolls and Reflex saves, plus Initiative) and good Charisma (for their class features). Because the Paladin’s mark works at a range, Archer Paladins can deliver incredible amounts of damage to a single target in a single round, generally defeating any enemy in a single turn. Because of this, they’re recommended for new players or experienced players looking for a fresh outlook to the holy knight.
Ability Score Priority: Dex > Cha > Str > Con > Int = Wis
Important Feats: Point-Blank Shot, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot
- Gunmanship (Gun): introduced in Ultimate Combat, firearms are weapons that fire slow, but deal strong damage. Their unique trait is that, despite their short range increments (compared to bows), they can ignore the armor and shield bonuses of the target while within it, effectively ensuring the hit. Gunner Paladins require good Dexterity (for attack rolls and Reflex saves, plus Initiative), decent Constitution (for HP and Fortitude) and good Charisma (for their class features). Gunner Paladins will definitely require Rapid Reload with their weapon of choice (generally a musket), but even then they will be quite slow compared to others. Note that Gunner Paladins informally include crossbows, which fire faster but don’t ignore touch attacks; otherwise, they’re mostly identical in terms of build-up. A build for experts who want to honor the character from “Have Gun, Will Travel”.
Ability Score Priority: Dex > Cha > Con > Str = Int = Wis
Important Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms), Gunsmithing, Rapid Reload, Point-Blank Shot.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: The Paladin’s MarkOne of the reasons why I insist on calling that class feature the “Paladin’s mark” is naturally because of how it applies to any weapon, including bows, crossbows, thrown weapons and guns. The 3.5 version of the Paladin forced you to use a melee weapon when Smiting Evil, because of how it worked. The PF version of the Paladin, imposing a mark rather than a sudden blow, allows even a gun user to deal incredible amounts of damage once every one or two turns, enough for it to matter. This is one of the reasons why the Archer Paladin, despite being an unorthodox fighting style, is green rather than red.
A Paladin may choose to focus on protecting his or her allies, rather than simply fight enemies. Just as a Paladin is a “combat-focused” class, the armor and shield proficiencies of the Paladin make the class suitable for “tanking”; that is, to prevent allies from taking damage. There are two ways to achieve this, though exactly to what extent depends on how devoted you are to tanking:
- Lockdown (LD): this method of tanking involves a certain degree of battlefield control, where you prevent your opponents from approaching your allies (hence, you ”lock” them down). “Locked” opponents are effectively disabled, denied their ability to move or act. Lockdown Paladins require good Strength (for attack and damage), good Dexterity (since Combat Reflexes grants additional attacks of opportunity based on the Dexterity modifier; also, additional AC, Reflexes and initiative), good Constitution (for HP and Fortitude, specifically as the intention is to lure opponents into hitting you) and good Charisma (for their class features). Lockdown Paladins at their core depend on the Combat Reflexes feat, and come in two flavors: Stand Still, which deals no damage but sets a perimeter around the Paladin, and Tripping, which uses the Trip maneuver to stop them. Since Lockdown Paladins require using Attacks of Opportunity, they benefit from having reach, making polearms their primary choice of weapon (and thus, making Two-Hander Paladin a decent complementary fighting style); a more exotic way is to use the whip (viable for Trip builds) or scorpion whip (for Stand Still builds), as they allow wielding a shield while still keeping their reach benefit (and potentially allow Lockdown builds with Fencing or the rare Sword & Board). The benefit of both Lockdown builds is that, due to its ability to force opponents within reach, it allows for full attacks, which maximize damage potential (therefore, why it becomes a fighting style on its own). Stand Still Lockdown builds are easier to make, but deal less damage overall, while Trip Lockdown builds drain too much of the Paladin’s resources to be truly effective, but end up increasing the damage potential of the Paladin overall.
Ability Score Priority: Str > Cha > Con = Dex > Int > Wis
Important Feats: Combat Reflexes, Stand Still or Improved Trip
- Damage Redirection (DR): a pretty unknown way of tanking, Damage Redirection implies moving damage from one character to yourself, or from yourself to the enemy, at times regardless of the distance. While it doesn’t prevent damage altogether, it does allow you to soak up the damage for your allies, who may have the right tools to deal with the situation. Paladins are naturally inclined towards this, as a few spells allow them to redirect ally damage into themselves (Shield Other, King’s Castle, Paladin’s Sacrifice & Sacrificial Oath) while others punish those who damage the Paladin or its allies (Fire of Vengeance, Shield of the Dawnflower). Feat-wise, the Paladin relies on interposition, specifically using the Bodyguard and In Harm’s Way feats to negate a single attack. Thus, the Damage Redirection Paladin may focus on any fighting style, but excels on those that rely upon Dexterity for the additional attacks of opportunity. As a secondary trait, Damage Redirection Paladins are life-savers, but the cost of focusing on Damage Redirection rather than a proper fighting style or Lockdown is too large for the returns.
Ability Score Priority: As fighting style (preferably with good Dex)
Important Feats: Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard, In Harm’s Way
Spoiler: Bear with Me: What’s this nonsense about “Damage Redirection”?Virtually nowhere in either the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition or Pathfinder Roleplaying Guide rules, sourcebooks or even fan-made handbooks there’s any reference to “damage redirection”, and for good reason: it’s an afterthought, and not something that was truly developed. It mostly stems from the inherent problems in defensive tactics within the d20 system: as it exists, there’s only ONE way to properly tank within the game, and that is “Lockdown”; to disable the opponent before it can harm an ally. However, the existence of spells like Shield Other and psionic powers like Share Pain and Hostile Empathic Transfer provide the framework for damage redirection. To an extent, the way the 3.5 Crusader’s Steely Resolve and Furious Counterstrike abilities work involves taking damage and then returning it through damage, generally by dealing enough hits to return almost exactly the same amount of damage as the enemy dealt, or at least the amount that was delayed. Even a spell like Fire Shield works as a disincentive to strike the target, for fear of the retributive damage. At its essence, the philosophy behind “Damage Redirection” is simple: regardless of the circumstances, damage will move from the person who least needs to be harmed to the person that can be harmed the most. In this case, if the Paladin takes a hit, or a spell, from an ally, then that ally is alive and the Paladin can take advantage of its superior protective capabilities to withstand the blow. This may seem like counter-productive (it’s best to deny the blow to both instead of hitting the one that can withstand it), but it works for two reasons: one, while the idea of bolstering the defenses of people is a valid strategy that should be considered first, this is the natural fallback for when that defense fails. In other terms: when the best defense fails, might as well have the blow be taken by the guy that can withstand it the best, no? Second, it allows the party healer to focus its efforts on one character rather than many: it’s better to provide a CL 15th Heal spell that will heal a Paladin, or a Fighter, from negative hit points to full HP than to spend a CL 15th Mass Cure Critical Wounds healing everyone potentially less. Considering the Paladin is a decent self-healer, the ability to focus on self-healing and potentially aiding allies rather than serving as the combat medic for others causes the dynamic of the battle to shift towards focusing at the battle, rather than focusing at the ally’s well-being. The fact that the Paladin has both large defenses, ways to redirect damage to itself and worthwhile self-healing means that it makes the Damage Redirection strategy viable. Ideally, more spells and feats should exist to provide the Paladin, and other classes, with ways to direct the flow of damage, whenever happens, to the people that is best capable of taking it, and potentially redirecting that damage back to the enemy (which then causes the opponent to die twice as fast, because it dies by its own blow, while the party remains safe). However, because this is mostly a radical idea, the best is to introduce the term and see that more discussion is made to promote the strategy.
- Join Date
- May 2009
As a rule of thumb, when choosing a race fit for a Paladin, focus first on what you want to do with the build, then choose which race can fit this better. Generally, classes that offer penalties to Constitution or Charisma are bad choices, while races that offer bonuses to Charisma are good.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Missing Creature Types?While this reminder could easily go anywhere, I figure that the Races section would be a good place to point it out. If you check out the Ranger favored enemies, you’ll notice that the Elemental type is conspicuously absent. This is because ALL Elementals are now Outsiders with their own subtype. Elementals keep some of their traits from 3.5 (most notably their annoying immunity to critical hits and precision damage such as sneak attack, compared to undead and constructs who are now vulnerable), but are otherwise affected by spells that affect undead. The special featured races below (Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, Suli and Undine) are also Outsiders, but they have the Native subtype rather than the Elemental subtype, even though they’re actually meant to be descendants of those Elementals.
Humans: the rule of thumb for just about every game based on the d20 System is simple: when in doubt, always go for Humans. PF Humans now get to choose their own ability score increase, and they have one bonus feat and one additional skill point. Humans are incredibly flexible, and support the Paladin in the right spots.
Dwarves: while a fitting thematical choice, Dwarves suffer with the penalty to Charisma. The traits that best work for Paladins is their ability to move unopposed by armor (though they are slow at a speed of 20 ft.) and their ability to resist poisons (an immunity you lack), spells and SLAs. They can also work if you plan to use one-handed weapons, because the Dwarven Waraxe and Dwarven Double Waraxe are pretty decent weapons, and they get proficiency with the Dwarven Longaxe and Dwarven Longhammer, two nice reach weapons for a Lockdown build. Good alternate racial traits for Dwarven Paladins are Magic Resistant, and Stubborn for early levels and if taking archetypes that replace Aura of Resolve and Aura of Righteousness.
Elves: a strange choice, but a bad one nonetheless. They take a penalty to Constitution, which hurts, and the stat bonuses they get are to one dump stat and one situationally good stat. They get proficiency with Elven weapons (of which there’s only the Elven Curve Blade, essentially a Falchion with better damage rating but that’s better for Dex-based builds) and immunity to magic sleep effects (but not to mundane sleep effects; note that). Good alternate racial traits for Elven Paladins are Fleet-Footed, Lightbringer and Urbanite, but they aren’t so helpful.
Gnomes: an unusual race, the Gnome has penalties to Strength (bad for a primarily physical combat-focused class), but bonuses to both Constitution and Charisma. They’re also slow because of their size, but get bonuses to attack rolls and AC (but not CMB and CMD), low-light vision and good Perception. They get proficiency with “Gnome” weapons (of which there is the Gnome Hooked Hammer, a double weapon), and their Favored Class bonus is incredibly good for healers (you get a +10 to your healing by 20th level). They make good Archery-focused Paladins. Good alternate racial traits for Gnome Paladins are Darkvision and Master Tinker (since it lets you be proficient in a weapon you’ve created, which involves just about any weapon in existence).
Halflings: another unusual race, they’re sorta like Gnomes but replace their Constitution bonus with a Dexterity bonus. If you’re aiming for archery or high Dexterity, this is your race, but otherwise the penalty to Strength really hurts. They’re just as slow as Gnomes, and their traits are geared towards movement, which you’ll usually lack because of depending on heavy armor. They’re proficient with any weapon with “halfling” on its name (the Halfling sling-staff is a club combined with a sling, except that both require the ability score in which they have a penalty…), and they make great healers as well (just like…say, Gnomes!) They make good Archery-focused Paladins, though, particularly as they need to spend less on Dexterity. Good alternate racial traits for Halfling Paladins are Adaptable Luck, Fleet of Foot, Outrider (for Mounted Combat builds) and Underfoot.
Half-Elves: surprisingly improved since their 3.5 incarnation, Half-Elves make surprisingly good Paladins. For starters, they get a +2 to a single ability score of their choice, rather than nothing. They get low-light vision and immunity to magic sleep effects (though not mundane sleep effects). They keep their bonus to Perception checks (that’s the third class I’ve seen with a Perception bonus…), and count as Elves and Humans for purposes of race, including choice of feats and favored classes. They get to choose not one, but two, favored classes, so they’re great for multiclass builds. Their favored class benefit is an increase to the size of ALL Paladin’s auras, so you can get 30-ft. auras (which is pretty good). Good alternate racial traits for Half-Elven Paladins are Ancestral Arms and Sociable.
Half-Orcs: also surprisingly good since their first incarnation, Half-Orcs make interesting paladins. They get a +2 to a single ability score, just like humans (so they get no penalties to Charisma, while technically keeping their Strength bonus), darkvision and a mild bonus to Intimidate checks. Orc Ferocity is an interesting tactic once you get Lay on Hands, as it allows you to act while between -1 and -9 for up to 1 round; use LoH as swift action and act as normal. They get proficiency with any weapon with “orc” in its name (the Orc Double-Axe is a double weapon, akin to a battleaxe. Their Favored Class bonus is weak, though, granting a mere critical confirmation bonus that tops at +5. Good alternate racial traits for Half-Orc Paladins are Chain Fighter (for spiked chain proficiency), Sacred Tattoo, Skilled and Toothy, though most of them replace Orc Ferocity.
Featured Races (Advanced Race Guide)
Aasimar: perhaps the most thematic race after humans, Aasimars’ celestial qualities somehow don’t help them that much. They get a bonus on Charisma, but also to a dump stat (Wisdom, just in case). They are treated as Native Outsiders, which means they’re immune to spells like charm person and hold person, but also immune to spells like enlarge person. They get a bonus at Perception checks (again!?) and Diplomacy checks, which is good. They also gain resistance 5 against acid, cold and electricity (great early on, pointless once you get Resist Energy), and Daylight as a spell-like ability. Their Favored Class option increases the bonus to saving throws against fear, charm and compulsion effects from your auras every 6 levels, so you get at most a +3 to those checks…which don’t apply to you. Good alternate racial traits for Aasimar paladins include Celestial Crusader, Deathless Spirit, Exalted Resistance and Scion of Humanity.
- Angelkin Aasimar: while the normal Aasimar is somewhat weak, the Angelkin Aasimar (an Aasimar descended from angels) is custom-made for Paladins. They get bonuses to Strength and Charisma and, surprisingly enough, the Alter Self spell (which, as mentioned before, gets nerfed but at least lets you pass as any humanoid, and nets you a +2 to Strength while transformed). It also nets you two bonuses to skills you might not use (though the bonus to Heal is nice, though).
- Lawbringer Aasimar: the other LG variant heritage Aasimar, the Lawbringer (an Aasimar raised by Archons) is somewhat disappointing. It gets the same scores than the vanilla Aasimar, a bonus to Sense Motive (good) and Intimidate(great), and a SLA that creates permanent torches (Continual Flame).
- Other Aasimar: the other heritages aren’t so good, but Paladins focusing on Archery may agree that Azata-Blooded Aasimar (Musetouched) are pretty good: +2 to Dexterity and Charisma, bonus to Diplomacy and the ever-useful Glitterdust as an SLA. Agathion-Blooded Aasimar (Idyllkin) are interesting as they offer bonuses to Constitution and Charisma, a bonus to Handle Animal (good for animal-controlling builds) and Summon Nature’s Ally II as an SLA, which allows summoning small Elementals for a while.
Catfolk: a decent choice for Archery-focused (or TWF-focused) Paladins, Catfolk offer bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma while placing the penalty on a dump stat. Their racial traits are so-so, though Cat’s Luck can be a life-saver, and getting a +10 ft. increase to your speed just because you charged can be also interesting. Good alternate racial traits for Catfolk Paladins are Cat’s Claws (synergizes well with the Claw Pounce feat if you get enough damage bonuses to ignore the lousy weapon damage dice) and Scent.
Dhampirs: no matter how sexy D may look like, they aren’t good Paladins. Sure, they get a bonus to Charisma, but their other good stat is Dexterity (only good for certain builds) and their penalty is to Constitution, a score you DON’T drop down. They get the ability to ignore energy drain effects (until they get level-drained enough to be killed) and can cast Detect Undead three times per day as an SLA, but they are harmed by positive energy, which involves…you guessed, Lay on Hands. So, you’d be the only Paladin that can’t heal itself. Your other resistances are pointless by 3rd level, and you’re sensible to light. Dhampir have only so-so alternate racial traits that are good for Paladins, but if you’re aiming to exploit Handle Animal, Vampiric Empathy is decent.
Drow: here’s a simple one. Have you seen a Drow Paladin in 3.5? Well, you won’t see it on Pathfinder either. Much like dhampirs, Drow have penalties to Constitution that really don’t help, they get a useless ability in Poison Use (your Code restricts you to not use them), their Weapon Familiarity is roguish, you get Light Blindness, and of the remaining racial traits, only their spell resistance and darkvision are worthwhile. Good alternate racial traits for Drow Paladins are Ancestral Grudge and Surface Infiltrator.
Fetchlings: a new race that is essentially “humans from the Plane of Shadow”, fetchlings are surprisingly good in a way. Good stats (+ to Dex and Cha, - Wis), shadow blending grants better concealment in dim light (3.5 friends: think shadowy illumination), and they eventually get to use Shadow Walk and Plane Shift as SLAs once per day (limited to between the Plane of Shadow and the Material Plane, tho). Oh, and they’re native outsiders to boot. For Archery or TWF-focused Paladins, they’re an interestingly good class. Good racial traits for Fetchling Paladins include Gloom Shimmer.
Goblins: Gah! No! I mean, I’m a fan of Goblins: Life through their Eyes, and I believe Big Ears is a great example of how a Paladin should be, but Goblins are atrocious. They get penalties to the two main stats a Paladin should have (Strength and Charisma), and their other racial features suck. Also, they look nothing like our traditional goblin, Tarol’s Goblins, or even Mr. Morris’ Goblins (let alone M:tG Goblins). For those insane Goblin Paladins, good alternate racial traits are Cave Crawler, Hard Head Big Teeth, and Weapon Familiarity (the Horsechopper is an interesting reach weapon with the trip property).
Hobgoblins: These are less atrocious than their smaller kindred, but aren’t truly worthy. They get a bonus to Dexterity and Constitution, but no penalties. The rest is just Darkvision and a bonus to Stealth checks, so not enough to make proper judgment. Good alternate racial traits for Hobgoblin Paladins are Battle-Hardened, Magehunter, Pit Boss (if you wish to focus on combat maneuvers, otherwise skip it) and Scarred.
Ifrit: Interesting race, to say the very least. The third class on the row who has good Dex and Charisma (but lousy Wisdom), another Native Outsider, and various fire-related abiliites (fire resistance 5, Burning Hands as a class feature). They’re the only race in the game that knows Ignan as an automatic language, though. Good alternate racial traits for Ifrit Paladins are Efreeti Magic, Fire in the Blood and Wildfire Heart.
Kobolds: Much like Goblins, Kobolds are unfit for Paladinhood. They get penalties to the two stats that matter to Paladins the most (Strength and Constitution, get light sensitivity as a weakness, and not even the +1 natural armor bonus to AC remedies that. Good alternate racial traits for the oddball Kobold Paladin are Beast Bond and Gliding Wings.
Orcs: the forefathers of the Half-Orcs, normal orcs aren’t really that good. Sure, they get one of the highest bonuses to Strength out of any race, but they get poor Charisma (bad) and they get a penalty to Intelligence, which means less skill points. Otherwise, they’re indistinct to the Half-Orc, except for their light sensitivity (which makes it worse!), and their orcish Ferocity is Diehard under a different name. Decent alternate racial traits for Orc Paladins are Smeller, and the rare Feral.
Oreads: Oreads are to earth what Ifrits are to fire, but they’re strictly worse. Oreads have a good Strength score (oddly enough), but a penalty to Charisma. They’re slow (for a Medium character, and they lack the dwarven ability to ignore penalties in armor), their SLA sucks, and their energy resistance gets replaced when it gets dangerous. Their Favored Class bonus is a slightly higher bonus to the morale bonus to fear and charm granted by the Paladin’s auras. For those rare Oread Paladins, good alternate racial traits are Crystalline Form, Granite Skin, Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth.
Ratfolk: another bad race. They get penalties to Strength, bonuses to a stat you won’t raise that much (Intelligence), small and slow. About the only interesting racial trait is their bonus on UMD checks, for some strange reason (alongside the ever-popular boost to Perception checks). Good alternate racial traits for Ratfolk Paladins are Cornered Fury and Scent.
Sylphs: the air-elemental part of the Genieling Quarted (alongside Ifrit, Oreads and Undines), Sylphs make bad Paladins. They get a bonus to Intelligence, but penalize Constitution (they also get good Dexterity). Their SLA is bad, their energy resistance is decent early on but loses steam, and they get a pointless class feature. Good alternate racial traits for Sylph Paladins are Breeze-Kissed, Storm in the Blood and Thunderous Resilience.
Tengu: yet another bad idea for Paladins, Tengu have a penalty to Constitution and a bonus to a dump stat (Wisdom) alongside good Dexterity (notice just how many races have good Dexterity?). They also get a bonus on Perception (oh, again? Really? REALLY!?), and a huge bonus on Linguistics checks, of all things. They also get a bite attack (that deals pitiful damage), and proficiency with ALL swords, including Bastard Swords, Elven Curve Blades and Two-Bladed Swords. All alternate racial traits save for Carrion Sense are good for Tengu Paladins.
Tieflings: not only they’re a bad race for Paladins, they’re the complete opposite of what a Paladin stands in terms of heritage. They get the bonus to Dexterity and Intelligence (just line in 3.5), a penalty to Charisma (just like in 3.5), darkvision, bonuses on Bluff and Stealth, Darkness as an SLA 1/day and resistance 5 against cold, electricity and fire. They have a Favored Class bonus, which grants increased healing with Lay on Hands, provided you’re using it on yourself. Good alternate racial traits for Tiefling Paladins are Maw or Claw, Scaled Skin and Vestigial Wings.
- Other Tieflings: if you choose the Fiendish Heritage as a feat at 1st level, you get variant Tiefling options. Pitborn Tieflings (a Tiefling born out of demons) gain bonuses to Strength and Charisma but have a penalty to Intelligence (no biggie, really), a bonus to Disable Device and Perception, and Shatter as an SLA. Shackleborn Tieflings (a Tiefling born out of the no-longer-devil kytons, AKA Cenobites by a different name) gain bonuses to Constitution and Charisma, a penalty to a dump stat (Wisdom), bonuses to Intimidate, and the awesome Web as an SLA. Beastbrood Tieflings (those Tieflings born of a Rakshasa) gain bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma, a nice bonus to Sense Motive, and Detect Thoughts as an SLA. The rest aren’t really worth your while.
Undines: the final member of the Elemental Quartet (with Ifrit, Oreads and Sylphs) still doesn’t make a decent Paladin. They get bonuses to Dexterity and a dump stat (Wisdom) but a penalty to Strength, resistance to cold spells (which gets wasted early on and pointless later on), a moderately-interesting SLA and darkvision. Good racial traits for Undine Paladins are Acid Breath, Hydrated Vitality and Ooze Breath.
Other Races (Advanced Race Guide)
Changelings: As races go, Changelings aren’t really that bad. They get a bonus to Charisma, but a bonus to a dump stat (Wisdom) and a penalty to Constitution. They get claws and a natural armor, and one of three racial traits based from their hag parent, of which Hulking Changeling is the clear winner (+1 damage, yay!). No alternate racial trait is particularly good for Changeling Paladins.
Spoiler: Friendly ReminderThe Changeling in 3.5 was an Eberron-exclusive class that was the offspring of a human and a doppleganger. Not very suitable for Paladins, they may cause confusion to native 3.5 players, who may expect the class to have a form of shapechanging ability.
Duergar: Gray dwarves, as they were once known in 3.5, are an interesting choice that violates wildly one of the tenets of Paladin optimization (Thou Shalt Not Assume A Race with Hideous Looks And Unruly Behavior!). They get a horrendous penalty to Charisma (-4!!!) and a bonus to a dump stat (Wisdom), but they get a bonus to Constitution. However, these stats contrast with the rest: immunity to Paralysis and Poison (just to round out immunities), Enlarge Person as a SLA once per day and Darkvision up to 120 ft. Good alternate racial traits for Duergar Paladin are Daysighted and any Dwarven Trait that replaces Stability.
Gillmen: an unusual race for Paladins, they’re better on an aquatic environment. Gillmen have bonuses in two necessary stats (Constitution and Charisma), a penalty on a dump stat (Wisdom), a swim speed and the ability to breathe water, but they have a severe penalty in their water dependency (more than 1 day without water, prepare to die within the next day). No alternate racial trait is good for Gillmen Paladins.
Gripplis: Another brand new race, Gripplis are small frogmen. They get a bonus to Dexterity and a dump stat (Wisdom) and a penalty to Strength, so their stats aren’t the best. They get a climb speed, though, and ignore difficult terrain while in a swamp. They also gain proficiency with nets, which are a pretty decent debuffing weapon. No alternate racial trait is good for Grippli Paladins, except maybe for Glide.
Kitsune: We know how most races work for Paladins thus far, but what does the Fox says!? Maybe “pew pew pew pew pe-pew pe-pew!”, because their good Dexterity and Charisma makes them good for Archery, but their bad Strength affects them. They also get the ability to transform into a human shape (only ONE, though) and Dancing Lights as an SLA, so they don’t offer anything that helps them stand out, save for the free bite attack. A good alternate racial trait for Kitsune Paladins is Gregarious, since it uses a class nearly all Paladins get and turns it into an insidious debuff (though it’ll mostly be Bluff, which you might not use, and Intimidate which you probably will).
Merfolk: Under the sea, these people probably make the ultimate Paladins. They get a bonus to Constitution and Charisma, but also to Dexterity. They’re insanely fast underwater (50 ft. swim speed) and have a solid +2 natural armor bonus. The only problem is that they’re excellent in water, because in land they’re useless. They can only move 5 ft. per round and have no legs, so they’re unable to improve their speed any further. For aquatic campaigns, they are excellent choices; for land, even if you replace their Slow Speed with the Strongtail alternate racial trait, they won’t move fast enough to matter.
Nagaji: These serpentine humanoids make interestingly good Paladins. They get bonuses to Strength and Charisma, which balance their loss in Intelligence (and for poor Int, there’s always the Favored Class option of skill points, remember?), a natural armor bonus to AC of +1, the perennial bonus to Perception checks and resistances to mind-affecting abilities (which will eventually become pointless) and poison (which will always be viable). Their only alternate racial trait, Hypnotic Gaze, is a perfect opener for a Diplomacy check, which might be pretty good, if you’re willing to sacrifice your bonus to Perception (and Handle Animal). The only shame is that you can’t use their racial feat, because it’s poison and your Code forbids it.
Samsarans: Yeah…no. There’s no way these guys make good Paladins. Their stats boost Intelligence and a dump stat (Wisdom), while penalizing Constitution (which nearly every class needs). They get a decent boost to negative energy effects, a free choice of bonus skills (Diplomacy and Sense Motive are good, BTW), and a few SLAs: Comprehend Languages, which is decent; Deathwatch, which is a good sensor that’s no longer [Evil], and Stabilize which is decent to stabilize people from afar. Their alternate racial trait, Mystic Past Life, is amazingly good though; you add spells based off your Charisma score at 1st level +1, from another spellcasting class of the same type as yours (divine, in the case of Paladins). It’s much like Unsanctioned Knowledge (a feat you’ll see later on), but without the Int requirement. Otherwise, they’re not very good.
Strix: These guys are victims of xenophobia, and are akin to Gargoyles: the xenophobic pursuit of humans against this race highly echoes that of the Gargoyles in the Ultima games (particularly Ultima VI: the False Prophet, which is what would happen if the Strix were drawn into utter desperation). They have good Dexterity, but a penalty to Charisma. They also have a +1 to attack rolls against humans (and only humans), which will comprise a good majority of the enemies you’ll face. About the only thing you’ll look for them is their flight speed, which makes them the only race thus far that has a natural flight speed (Aasimars can get a fly speed through feats and other races via alternate racial traits; Strix get them naturally). They also get resistance to illusion spells and a bonus to Perception and Stealth (just how many races get bonuses to Perception, anyways!?). Their fluff, however, makes them both good and poor Paladins, as they wish to protect their dwindling race (Aid the Needy, Protect the Innocent: those are your Prime Directives), but they harbor hatred for humanity (which is something going against them). Good alternate racial traits for the Strix Paladin are Nimble and Tough, which replace your bonus to illusion spells with a straight increase to Fortitude or Reflex (the latter being a welcome addition).
Sulis: Also known as “suli-jann”, they are true descendants of mortals and jann, the lowest form of genie. Their bonuses to stats are fit for just about any Paladin (Strength, Charisma), with Intelligence being penalized. They get bonuses to the TWO stats Paladins will favor (Diplomacy and Sense Motive), and get a cool free weapon enchantment 1/day for a few rounds, not to mention resistance to ALL energy types. Their sole alternate racial trait, Energy Strike, focuses their elemental power into a single energy type, but gives them a slightly better effect; good ones are Firehand (ranged fire attack) and Shockshield (retributive electricity damage, works with metal melee weapons despite range).
Svirfneblin: the Gnome equivalent to the Drow and the Duergar, these little fellas make bad Paladins unlike their Gnome-kin. For starters, they have a sum of scores that leaves you with a negative (bad Strength and worse Charisma, good Dexterity and dump stat/Wisdom), which really don’t compensate their great +2 dodge bonus to AC, their +2 bonus to saving throws and their powerful Spell Resistance (11 + class level). Their SLAs include Blindness (potent debuff), Blur (great buff) and constant Nondetection (one of the few things you have constantly on you). None of their alternate racial traits really works for a Svirfneblin Paladin, though.
Vanaras: hailing straight from Oriental Adventures, Vanaras are yet another class that suffers from the same stats as many races (good Dex and dump stat/Wis, poor Charisma). They also get few racial traits, such as low-light vision, a climb speed, a bonus to Acrobatics and Stealth (which aren’t even class skills for you) and Prehensile Tail, which isn’t very effective for you. None of their alternate racial traits really help Paladins, though.
Vishkanyas: Remember the Nagaji? These guys are also serpentine, but less subtle about it. They get pretty nice scores (good Dex and Cha, penalty to dump stat/Wis), low-light vision, standard Perception check bonuses, proficiency with shuriken (and blowguns, if you want to) and bonuses to Escape Artist and Stealth checks. However, their focus is on natural venoms, and they have three racial traits that improve these: a bonus against poison equal to your Hit Dice (a +20 at 20th level, which means “I’m immune to just about ANY poison, period!”), the Poison Use ability and a natural toxin that deals 1d2 Dexterity damage. As you may know, use of poison is expressively forbid by the Code of the Paladin, so this is a racial trait you simply CAN’T use, even if it’s a natural venom and not something manufactured (oh well, the price of awesome power, right?). None of their alternate racial traits help them, though.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: When you lack it, build around it.Those 3.5 players who are transitioning into PF will know that, because of product identity, Paizo can’t use some monsters and creatures. Amongst them is the Yuan-Ti, a serpent race whose purebloods are nearly indistinguishable from humans save for a few aspects. Since the game can’t have the Yuan-Ti, the Vishkanya make for a reasonable facsimile, though they get different traits. Think of Vishkanya as playable Yuan-Ti, by making a few changes.
Wayangs: another shadowling (like the Fetchling), Wayangs are par for the course. They get bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence, penalties to your dump stat (Wisdom), they’re Small, slow, have the requisite Perception check bonus (and also to Stealth), some SLAs (Ghost Soun, Pass without Trace and Ventriloquism), and a bonus against spells of the shadow subschool (mostly Shadow Evocation, or Shadow Conjuration when using it as a Summon Monster/Nature’s Ally spell). Their only unique ability is Light and Dark, which allows you for a minute to treat yourself as undead for purposes of positive and negative energy, which is decent in the rare occasion where you’re surrounded by death cultists spamming Harm and whatnot. Their only alternate racial trait, Dissolution’s Child, is a glorified Invisibility spell that lasts for up to 5 rounds, so it’s not like you’re going to abuse it.
Psionic Races (Psionics Unleashed)
Blues: These psionic cousins to Goblins make pretty poor Paladins. They get bonuses to Intelligence and Dexterity, but a penalty to Strength. Their Small size doesn’t help, even though they can move fast. To an extent, they are very similar to Goblins, except for their natural psionic ability, which entitles them to a free feat (Wild Talent) and the ability to use Psionic feats. The Pariah trait hurts even more, as it penalizes a good skill for Paladins (Diplomacy). Blues, like Goblins and Hobgoblins, can wield weapons with “goblin” in its name as martial weapons.
Dromites: insect-like creatures with psionic potential, Dromites are nonetheless an interesting choice for Paladins that rely on Dexterity. They have a bonus to Dexterity and Charisma, penalizing Strength. Despite being Small and slow, they get good AC because of their size and their natural armor bonus. They also get energy resistance, which stacks with other forms of energy resistance which is incredibly useful (they also gain innate sonic resistance, which is doubly useful). As with all psionic races, they are naturally psionic and thus have the Wild Talent feat for free, but Dromites also happens to have psionics of their own, specifically a 1/day Energy Ray attack which deals damage based on the energy resistance they possess (thus, they can deal sonic damage, which deals less damage but ignores an object’s hardness). They also gain the typical bonus on Perception checks.
Duergar, Psionic: Essentially a variant of the Duergar, they are just as interesting as their non-psionic cousins but sacrificing some things for others. Psionic Duergar sacrifice their immunities and their Spell Resistance for a lessened penalty to Charisma and psionic potential. On the other hand, psionic Duergar can use the awe-inspiring Expansion power, which allows you to increase your size to Huge (with the subsequent increases in Strength, size and reach). While Expansion is a pretty power, and the lessened Charisma penalty doesn’t hurt, the loss of the immunity to paralysis and Spell Resistance makes them less desirable.
Elan: A strange race that isn’t born, but made, Elans have changed a lot from their 3.5 incarnation. Elans now have a bonus to a single ability score, but are no longer aberrations (!). They take a penalty to Charisma skills, though, which hurts a bit. As with all psionic races, Elans gain the Wild Talent feat for free, but they can use power points despite the lack of psionic powers: Elans can spend power points to gain a racial bonus on all saving throws or reduce damage by 2 points/1 PP as an immediate action, making them pretty hard to kill. Of all races, they take the most advantage out of the Psionic Aptitude trait that allows them to gain an extra power point as a Favored Class bonus. Few other things make them suitable for Paladins, though.
Half-Giant: This race is definitely designed for combat. While it has a bonus to a dump stat (Wisdom), it has a bonus to Strength in exchange for a penalty to Dexterity, which shouldn’t be a problem with most builds. They count as Humans, so any feat that applies to Humans affects them, and they can take any Favored Class benefit related to humans. They also gain bonuses against fire attacks and psionic aptitude (not to mention a free feat), but it is two class features that make them excellent. First is their psionic SLA, Stomp, which works as a sort of Trip attempt but on a cone-shaped spread, and dealing a decent amount of non-lethal damage to boot (and the DC is based on Charisma, which is an ability score that a Half-Giant doesn’t penalize, and one the Paladin favors). However, the crown jewel for the Half-Giant is the Powerful Build trait: this allows them to wield Large weapons and be treated as Large whenever beneficial, sans for the reach. What this means is that a Half-Giant Paladin could take a Large longsword without penalty and dish a respectable 2d6 points of damage per blow, or take a Greatsword and deal a scary 3d6 points of damage per blow. Half-Giants are natural for Vital Strike builds, and they happen to gain a bonus to CMB and CMD as well. Couple that with the ability to be treated as humanoids, and they can benefit from an Enlarge Person spell which allows them to be the ultimate damage dealers.
Maenads: A psionic race attuned to the sea, Maenads are unique for one single purpose. They get a +2 to a single ability score (much like Humans) and get Wild Talent as a bonus feat (which opens Psionic feats and isn’t so bad to have after all), so they’re pretty similar to humans in that regard. They also get Energy Ray (like the Dromite), but the damage is forced sonic damage (which is great), and they’re one of the few races with a bonus to Climb and Swim. However, they’re the best races for one class, which opens up a wealth of multiclass builds: Barbarian. Since they can take levels in Barbarian and remain Lawful, this opens up a build which allows a slight Barbarian dip before entering into Paladin territory. Considering that they ALSO happen to improve rounds of Rage based on their character level, AND they also have a pseudo-Rage racial trait that further increases their Strength in exchange for two stats that aren’t as important to Paladins as Intelligence and Wisdom (and, since it’s a temporary loss, it doesn’t harm feat accessibility). All in all, while not the best race for a Paladin, they do happen to be an interestingly good race for a Barbarian/Paladin multiclass.
Ophiduans: A reptilian race that nonetheless has a relationship with a certain race from a certain predecessor to Pathfinder, Ophiduans still manage to be pretty unique. They get a very familiar ability score set that’s not beneficial to Paladins (+Dex & dump stat/Wis, -Cha), but they get a few cool traits. Certainly, the free Wild Talent feat and +1 to natural armor bonus to AC is nice, and gaining resistance to poison is just nifty. They have proficiency with any weapon with “ophiduan” in its name (what are the chances that we meet a “serpent bow” somewhere around?), which is…fine, maybe, but not the reason why you’d choose them to be Paladins. On the other hand, Serpent’s Bite does: for 1 minute, the Ophiduan gains a bite attack that deals a respectable 1d8 points of damage, but this isn’t the kicker. By 20th level, the bite attack deals an absurd 5d8 points of damage: it deals more damage than ANY weapon a character can wield, and you can happen to use it as a secondary attack, being a natural weapon and all. Coupled with the Paladin’s mark, an Ophiduan can definitely shine in a single battle.
Xephs: The last Psionic race, Xephs are solid speedsters. Their ability score set is respectable, with a bonus to Dexterity and Charisma in exchange for a penalty to Strength. Xephs also gain a bonus against all spells, spell-like abilities AND psionic powers, making them resilient even to those rare psionics users. As with all Psionic races, they gain Wild Talent for free and the ability to exchange their favored class bonus for an additional power point, but it is their Burst ability that happens to be their specialty. 3/day a Xeph can increase its speed by up to 30 ft., which stacks with just about every other single progression ever, including Haste. This may not be that good on its own, but when you need to close the distance, it helps, and it happens to last for 3 rounds, which is respectable enough. Other than that, they don’t make great Paladins, but they work well for Archer and Two-Weapon Paladins.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-05-12 at 10:08 PM.
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- May 2009
Optimal Feats (part 1)
One of the ways any character can distinguish from another is their choice of feats. A Paladin is no exception, but they gain access to certain feats that other characters may not have access to, because of their class features. Being combat-focused characters, it’s best to start with all Combat Feats, specifically those that apply to each combat style, and then make a run-down with the rest of the feats.
Combat Feats – Core Rulebook
Agile Maneuvers (Fen, TWF, Arc, Gun, LD): If you rely on Dexterity and intend to make good use of Combat Maneuvers, then this feat is for you. Otherwise, let Strength work things out for you.
Blind-Fight: Useful if you have no other way to bypass concealment by means of Blur and similar effects, but remember that you can’t apply it to Incorporeal creatures unless you wield a magic weapon. There are better ways to bypass concealment, however.
Catch Off-Guard: Essentially a “Improvised Weapon Proficiency”, except you also treat unarmed creatures flat-footed against your attacks. You should never be without a weapon, and your good BAB means you can probably ignore the penalty. Pass.
Combat Expertise (Fen, LD): Fighting defensively on steroids, more or less. You take a -1 penalty to attack rolls to get a +1 dodge bonus to AC, with increasing gains (up to +6 at 20th level). Useful when you need the AC to protect yourself, but the Intelligence requirement hurts. On the other hand, it’s necessary for Improved Disarm and Improved Trip.Improved Disarm (Fen): Half of 3.5’s original Improved Disarm, this is required to make Disarm attempts without provoking an Attack of Opportunity. Disarm isn’t exactly the best maneuver there is, as it relies on the opponent wielding a weapon, but it can be useful to disarm certain creatures from their wands or rods, which CAN be dangerous. Since that means mostly humanoid creatures, it depends if your campaign is humanoid-centric or monster-centric.Greater Disarm (Fen): You gain a +2 bonus to Disarm, which stacks with Imp. Disarm for a total of +4, and you can throw the disarmed weapon or object away. Pointless unless your intention is for an ally to get the weapon, because the target will probably draw a new one or change tactics rather than eat an Attack of Opportunity getting the weapon back.Improved Feint (Fen): Using the Bluff skill to feint requires a standard action; this makes it a move action. Paladins lack the Bluff skill, so they don’t get much out of feinting at all.Greater Feint (Fen): If you feint a creature, it loses its Dexterity bonus to AC for one full round. This is actually a pretty cool debuff, particularly if you have a Rogue or Ninja as a party member, though chances are the Rogue or Ninja will use this instead. If you’re taking the time to feint properly, might as well go all the way.Improved Trip (Fen, LD): Gain a +2 bonus on Trip attempts and deny opponents an Attack of Opportunity (again, half the benefit of 3.5’s Improved Trip). This is an essential part of the Trip Lockdown tanking style, while Fencers might get some use out of it, but not as much.Greater Trip (Fen, LD): Gain another +2 bonus to Trip (for a total of +4), and the opponent provokes an attack of opportunity if it gets tripped. This is good and bad in a way: unlike 3.5, this doesn’t grant free attacks (bad idea), but on the other hand you allow anyone near the target to gain an Attack of Opportunity. If you’re intending to use Trip, this feat is essential.Combat Reflexes (LD, DR): A more defensive feat, this nets you extra attacks of opportunity based on your Dexterity bonus (meaning, you’ll need to spend some time on your Dexterity if you really want to shine). You can also make attacks of opportunity while flat-footed, which means you can start locking down the opponent even at the beginning of the battle. Essential for the Lockdown build, and crucial if you’re planning to intercept attacks of opponents.Stand Still (LD): Based off a 3.5 feat that did mostly the same, you deal no damage (bad) but force a Combat Maneuver check (still kinda bad) to stop an opponent dead in its tracks (very good). The cornerstone of the Stand Still Lockdown build; if you stop people from moving, they’ll be forced to act outside their range, potentially ruining their action. Furthermore, it also locks them down for further attacks on your turn, which is a win. If you lock at least one person, that means they’ll suffer the brunt of your full attack.Critical Focus: Not the best feat in the book, since this bonus only works to help you confirm critical hits. Only get it if you plan to get any of the feats that modify your critical hit (note: you can only apply one effect to your critical hit); else, ignore like the plague.Bleeding Critical: On a successful critical hit, you deal +2d6 bleeding damage. There’s three reasons why this feat is actually great: one, it’s added damage, which is always great, but also damage over time which means the target is pretty much screwed unless it heals; second, it stacks, so if the target takes two critical hits, it’ll take 4d6 points of damage per turn; third, it’s accessible pretty early (11th level, compared to the good feats), so it’s always reliable. It adds a lot of damage on a crit-fishing build.Blinding Critical: If you land a successful critical hit, the target is permanently blinded. This is generally huge, but it has a lot of flaws: first, few people will escape to make this worthwhile, so it’s worse against you than used by you; second, it forces a Fortitude save (with a DC based off your attack bonus, though); third, if the target succeeds on its save, it gets merely dazzled (a pitiful penalty to attack rolls and Perception checks); fourth, you can only take it with your last three feats. Definitely a poor choice.Deafening Critical: If you land a critical hit, the target becomes deafened. Note all that I said about blind, except replace “dazzled” for “deafened for 1 round”. Of all things, the loss of initiative is the thing that hurts the most, and the “miss chance” on spells is only mildly significant, so it’s actually worse than Blinding Critical.Sickening Critical: This is a great feat, actually. If you land a critical hit, the target is sickened. The sickened condition is actually a pretty insidious condition that imposes penalties to saving throws, so it’s a great debuff to assist your allied spellcasters in letting their saving-throw reliant spells (aka, Save or Die/Save or Lose spells) be more successful. The effect lasts for a minute, so if landed early on, it can signal the doom of the target. It’s also gained pretty early.Staggering Critical: A nice rider effect for your critical feat. Staggered characters can only take one action, and this effect lasts between 2 to 5 rounds, so it can be annoying at best. It forces a Fortitude save, but if successful, the target is STILL staggered for 1 round, so it’s not that bad. The best part is that additional critical hits add to the duration.Stunning Critical: Holy guacamole, isn’t this feat great? Sure, it’s gained pretty late, but if successful you can stun the opponent for 1d4 rounds, which is enough to take it out of combat. It forces a Fortitude save, but a successful save causes staggering for up to 4 rounds, which is STILL enough to take the opponent out of the battle (no full attacks, for once). Immunity to stunning by many creatures is what makes this otherwise great feat suffer.Tiring Critical: Land a critical hit, target becomes fatigued. Against charge-happy creatures, this is a life-saver as it prevents charging or running, but otherwise this feat is best against combat-focused characters. Spellcasters can plausibly ignore this feat (they risk encumbrance, though) and you can’t scale the fatigued effect, which is bad.Exhausting Critical: A slight improvement to Tiring Critical doesn’t merit three feats. There’s better ways to escalate the fatigued condition into exhaustion. It would have been impressive if it escalated into unconsciousness, but it doesn’t, so tough luck there.Deadly Aim (Thr, Arc, Gun): As Power Attack, but for ranged attacks. While you can’t use it with ranged touch attacks, it makes a VERY clear distinction for Firearms, so a Gunner can exploit the range increment with the added damage. Good scaling returns (-6 attack, +12 damage).
Defensive Combat Training: Worthless, since you have full BAB.
Dodge: slightly better than its 3.5 incarnation, it now provides a permanent +1 dodge bonus to AC. Still doesn’t merit a feat of its own, though.Mobility: A protection when moving through threatened areas, the +4 dodge bonus to AC still doesn’t merit getting these two feats. Pass.Spring Attack: A feat that enables its own fighting style (Skirmisher), the Spring Attack feat allows you to attack during any point of your movement, meaning you don’t need to stop to attack. Paladins get heavy armor almost all the time, so the penalty to movement won’t help you there. Bad in 3.5, and still bad here.Whirlwind Attack (LD): The only semi-official way in a d20 system that allows an area-of-effect attack. You give up all your regular attacks (that is, your iterative attacks or extra attacks you gain from an increased BAB, plus any extra attack from feats such as Two-Weapon Fighting or spells such as Haste) to make ONE attack against each creature in range. As it happens, you can replace a melee attack with a trip, so you can attempt to trip one or all opponents at once (though, the way the feat is written, it makes you forfeit your attacks of opportunity). Even for a Trip Lockdown build, the feat requirements are just too much to make this worthwhile (about 7 feats), so pass. You ALSO happen to need Combat Expertise to get this feat.Wind Stance (TWF, Arc, Gun): An attempt to make Dodge worthwhile, Wind Stance grants 20% concealment if you happen to move more than 5 ft. during the round (so you can’t use it as part of a 5-ft. step). While the miss chance is tempting, you need to deal VERY large damage with a single attack in order to make this feat worthwhile. You also need better Dexterity (15), so only attempt if you’re capable of moving and attacking. A Skirmisher (read Spring Attack) might make better use, and probably Archers who depend on high Dexterity and may make better use out of it.Lightning Stance: Good grief, this feat is horrendous! You lose your ability to attack in order to raise your miss chance to 50%. Yeah, I know: it’s better to escape than to fight, but you might be expecting to use it to fight, so it’s very disappointing.Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Gun): If you have a feat to spare, you can attempt to choose an exotic weapon, though most martial weapons are pretty good already. I’ll detail which exotic weapons are good later, and for which kind of combat style, but Gunners HAVE to choose this feat to use Firearms (unless they go with the Holy Gun archetype, but…)
Improved Critical (MC, Arc, Gun): A mixed blessing. Thing is, the keen weapon enhancement provides the same property for the cost of a weapon with a +1 enhancement (or an enhancement equivalent to its current cost +1), so it’s mostly cheap. If you specialize in one weapon, though (like most Archers, Gunners and Mounted Combatants), then you can save money by choosing this. Improved Critical is most worthwhile when you specialize in a weapon with a good critical threat range (19-20 or 18-20).
Improved Initiative: Lets you go faster in the initiative count. You can get other ways to increase your initiative, though.
Improved Shield Bash (SnB): One of the two requisite feats for a Sword & Boarder, this allows you to keep your shield bonus to AC when making a single shield bash attack. This allows you to keep your defense while adding some offense, which is the entire point of Sword & Board. If you don’t use a shield offensively, ignore it.
Improved Unarmed Strike (US, LD): Necessary if you’re going the Unarmed route, Improved Unarmed Strike is nonetheless a very good feat to have. It makes your fists deal lethal damage and you’re considered armed, which means you can make attacks of opportunity unarmed. If you have the feats to spare, you can obviate one of the penalties of the Lockdown builds (using reach weapons means you don’t threaten any adjacent square around you, so if they get near you, you’re screwed), so it makes it useful.Deflect Arrows (US): A defensive maneuver more than anything else, it lets you ignore the effects of ONE ranged attack per round. It doesn’t work on rays (which are the stuff you REALLY want to ignore), but Archery is slightly deadlier now, so might as well choose it if you have it. On the other hand, you probably got enough AC to ignore most attacks.Snatch Arrows (US): Too situational to work. You can choose to keep the weapon rather than deflect it, which is great if the opponent is a thrown weapon specialist and one of your allies (or yourself?) specializes in Thrown Weapons. Otherwise, throwing weapons aren’t destroyed after battle, so you can catch and sell them later. To be frank, very few, if any monsters in any d20 system use thrown weapons (let alone MAGIC thrown weapons), so this feat is a waste, considering you’ve got so few precious feat slots.Improved Grapple (US): If you intend to be a good grappler, choose this. You gain a +2 to Grapple checks, and initiating one doesn’t provoke an Attack of Opportunity.Greater Grapple (US): The advanced neighbor, this completes your Grapple bonus (+2 -> +4) and gives you the ability to maintain your Grapple as a move action, therefore enabling two Grapple actions (the one granted for free, and the one granted by your Standard Action) instead of one. That means you can move and attack, or do two attacks, or Pin and Tie-Up… Necessary if you intend to follow Grappling, useless otherwise, but Grapple is fairly decent anyways.Scorpion Style (US): Good and bad. The bad part is that the move limits you to ONE attack as a standard action (why it couldn’t be made as a rider effect?), and the effect is resisted by a saving throw (applying your Wisdom modifier to the bonus, which as you may recall, is now a dump stat). The good part is that the effect is pretty good (reduces your target’s speed to a minimum) and it lasts for a good time…provided you have a good Wisdom modifier. This is one of the attempts to make Monks better, but if you have good Wisdom, might as well go for itGorgon’s Fist (US): A follow-up attack to Scorpion Style, it has all the good and bad things of Scorpion Style, except it replaces “reduces your target’s speed…” with “staggers your target” and everything afterwards with “and it lasts for 1 round”. Stagger is a pretty brutal debuff, as it limits you to one action, and coupled with reduced movement means that you’re either forcing the target to a single standard action or attempting to move away. Even then, it limits you to one attack, so unless it works, you’re delaying the inevitable. Better for Monks than for you.Medusa’s Wrath (US): Finally, something worthwhile! If a target is dazed, flat-footed, paralyzed, staggered, stunned or unconscious, you get free attacks! It takes quite a bunch of feats, but the pay-off is great, particularly since there are ways to daze or stun opponents with your attacks. This is giving a Flurry of Blows to everyone else, and making the Monk a Gatling Gun of fists.Stunning Fist (US): Too many requirements for it to work. Once per day (plus one more time per four levels), you can attempt an attack that stuns your opponent if it fails your Fortitude save (which is based off your Wisdom modifier, a dump stat that you NEED to raise to even get this feat). Fortitude saves are easily passed, so unless you or your party can stack up a lot of penalties, might as well pass. Monks get it for free and can use it more times per day, so it’s better for them than for you. Pass, unless you have feats to spare and enough Wisdom to matter.Improvised Weapon Mastery (Thr): Actually a pretty cool feat, if you have the feats to spare. If you get it via Catch Off-Guard, you get improvised attacks that deal better damage, have a better critical threat range, AND treat their opponent as flat-footed. If you’re a Weapon Thrower and entered via Throw Anything, that means you can stack ALL the benefits from your Thrown Weapon style into a simple stone, which deals better damage and has a better critical threat range. It’s not by any means a must-have, but it’s just insanely hilarious. Trust me: if there was a feat like THIS on 3.5, I would have gone with the Holy Doritos build in a heart-beat.
Intimidating Prowess: If you’re a character whose build relies on Strength and Charisma, and you intend to spend your points in Intimidate, AND you intend to demoralize opponents just for fun, then by all means choose this feat. Otherwise, you already have enough Charisma to make Intimidate fairly good, and you might not get enough feats to fit (no pun intended) your combat style AND the feat chain to make Intimidate more useful.
Lunge (THF, LD): Arguably better than the same feat in 3.5, this imposes a very mild penalty to attack rolls (and Combat Maneuver checks, arguably) for the ability to extend your reach during your round. This allows, amongst other things, to make a full attack at an opponent that moves outside your normal reach through a 5-ft. step. Two-Handers will probably rely on greatswords and similar weapons, so the added reach is worthwhile. Lockdown builds can’t use this feat to add reach to their attacks of opportunity (which is bad), but if you have ways to keep them locked down during your turn (hint hint: Trip Lockdown), it’s a decent way to hold them in place. Also good if you choose, for some reason, to specialize in the Drag maneuver (see below), but you might not have enough feats for it.
Mounted Combat (MC): The enabling (albeit not the signature) feat of the Mounted Combatant. This requires only 1 measly rank in Ride, and adds to your mount’s survivability by negating one attack per round.Mounted Archery (MC): This feat only reduces penalties if you wield a ranged attack while mounted. Unless you specialize in Archery, this isn’t the best feat, though it’s a bit of a life-saver against those targets you mark and fight at a distance.Ride-By Attack (MC): A super-valuable feat, this feat enables you to joust with your mount. That is, you can move, attack at ANY point during your move, and then keep moving. Sounds like Spring Attack…and yes, it’s exactly like Spring Attack, except with less stringent requirements and enabled as you and your mount charge, therefore taking advantage of twice your mount’s speed AND the +2 bonus to attack rolls. You can only charge in a straight line, though, so make sure it counts.Spirited Charge (MC): Now THIS is the signature feat of the Mounted Combatant. You’re staking everything in a single blow; now, this attack deals double damage, so as long as you charge. Note, though, that it doesn’t mention what exactly is doubled and what doesn’t, so you can either assume it’s like a critical hit (and thus multiplies everything a critical hit multiplies), or multiplies EVERY bit of damage, including damage from weapon properties. Double Flaming or Double Holy damage? Yes, please! Note that with a lance, the damage TRIPLES, so it’s even MORE damage than before. 3.5 veterans will remember why the Paladin was considered the Ubercharger, and this is one of the main reasons why (a Valorous Lance was the other).Trample (MC): This is a feat that only works while mounted (of course), but also only IF certain conditions are met. The first is that you must attempt an overrun (and thus, waste your turn. Hooray!). Second, you must win the overrun (do you have Improved or Greater Overrun? More feats, yay!). The third is that it only enables ONE hoof attack (so you’re sacrificing your awesome charge attack for letting your mount hit. Excelsior!). If nobody took this in 3.5, less they’ll take it here. Pass like Passover.Unseat (MC): If you’re a Mounted Combatant, but spent your feats in Power Attack (and why not, gentlemen? PA doubles or even triples on a Mounted Charge with Spirited Charge or a Lance, and tripled if both are combined!) and chose to have some controlling functions with Bull Rush, then this feat is decent…against other mounted combatants. This last bit is what makes a promising feat suck badly. The only way this would work is if you’re fighting an opponent in the skies, because the falling damage will be enough to compensate for the non-damage you dealt this round, AND you can let your allies take advantage of that. Far too situational, but if you’re going for Mounted Combat because you’re playing an open-world campaign…nah, still too situational.Point-Blank Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): The trigger feat for ALL ranged attacks, and doesn’t even need high Dexterity to pull it off. The extra damage is pretty fair, though nothing to brag about; the extra attack bonus is somewhat better. Works less for Archers, who rely on longer distances, than on Weapon Throwers and Gunners who rely on the shorter distance. Gunners especially gain more benefit out of this, because it actually increases their damage more than Archers (who probably get more damage from Composite Longbows) and Weapon Throwers (who rely on better Strength).Far Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): Another feat that’s different from its 3.5 incarnation. Rather than increasing range increments (50% distance for projectile weapons, 100% for thrown weapons), this feat merely halves the range penalties. Weapon Throwers will probably find this useful, but Archers already have all the distance they need and Gunners rarely will shoot beyond their first range increment anyways.Precise Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): You MUST have this feat if you’re focused in Archery, period. That -4 penalty in melee can be the deciding factor between ending the battle and killing your ally.Improved Precise Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): If you’re going for Archery or Gunmanship, you DEFINITELY have a large Dexterity bonus, so get this. Weapon Throwers will feel like they don’t have enough, but get it anyways if you have the chance to. This allows ignoring cover and concealment from anything less than total. Total cover blocks line of sight and line of effect so you can’t aim well, and total concealment is when you reach 50%. That means you can hit someone with the Blur spell or hiding behind an ally and strike with pin-point precision.Pinpoint Targeting (Thr, Arc, Gun): Notice just how LONG this feat chain is, and it hasn’t even ended! Well, this link does, but not the links that depend on Precise Shot anyways. This feat turns a SINGLE ranged attack into a ranged touch attack (though deflectable by Deflect Arrows anyways), so as long as you don’t move (that doesn’t mean you can’t move afterwards). For Archers, this is grandiose, since it makes their hits pretty much certain (particularly if they’re caught flat-footed). Weapon Throwers will probably enjoy the fruits, but won’t have enough feats for it; if they do, though, they may prefer to throw a Two-Handed weapon and make those range increments a non-issue. Gunners have the same issue as Weapon Throwers, but if the attack is within the first range increment, then this feat is a wash.Rapid Shot (Thr, Arc): A must-have. No ifs, buts or ands; if you’re an Archer or a Weapon Thrower, you HAVE to get this feat. As a full-attack action, you deal an extra attack at the cost of a measly -2 penalty. The Dex requirement is ridiculous. Mark someone, and the penalty to attack rolls won’t even matter.Manyshot (Arc): Only Archers get to use this (not even crossbow users, which is another reason why I lumped them with the Gunners). This attack changed WILDLY from its original incarnation in 3.5: in the former edition, it allowed you to shoot up to 4 arrows as part of a standard action within 30 ft., making it great (you can move and deal lots of damage) and bad (PF players, think Vital Strike, but auto-scaling and only one of the arrows dealt critical and precision damage, but weapon damage applied separately). Now, it adds an extra arrow to the FIRST attack you make in a full-attack action, which is great since it further increases the power of your full attacks, but still limits your critical and precision damage. It’s neither an improvement nor a wash, but rather a re-interpretation that leaves it pretty much just as before. It MAY seem like a wash to 3.5 players, though, because delivering all that damage as a standard action was pretty worthwhile, and eventually the Greater Manyshot feat would have made that attack insanely good.Shot on the Run (Thr, Arc, Gun): A too-intensive feat chain ends up in a forgettable feat. It’s Spring Attack, but for ranged attacks (so you might combine it with Wind Stance and earn something?), and you only get ONE attack. Granted; the way Manyshot and Shot on the Run were written in 3.5 was pretty similar (3.5 mentions “When using the attack action, […]”, PF mentions “As a full-round action, […]”), so you couldn’t combine Manyshot with Shot on the Run, making the feat there pointless. Here…it stands up to its legacy. Gunners MIGHT get some better benefit, as they can use their move to get closer to the target, fire with their weapon at touch attack range, and retreat back. Otherwise, pass.Power Attack (THF, TWF): The lance-point of PF haters everywhere. Let’s get the facts straight: the total damage from Power Attack? Totally nerfed. The feat? Still good, nonetheless. There’s a few other factors that make it less good than before, particularly that you’re fixed into the penalty (rather than have a variable penalty). One-hand wielders now get better returns (2 points of damage for every point of attack penalty, meaning that at 1st level this feat is actually better than its 3.5 incarnation!), and Two-Handers also happen to get something…decent (3 points of damage for every point of attack penalty). However, the progression is tied to BAB (not a problem for Paladins, now is it?) and increases your damage every 4 levels, so by 4th level the 3.5 version is undoubtedly better (with a two-handed weapon, perhaps). One-handed weapon users (just about everyone) will see the benefit (and since the penalty isn’t so high, they can still hit, instead of the “all-out” strategy of 3.5), while Two-Handers will cry (as they had ways to have enough attack bonus to actually matter, therefore they LOSE a huge deal of their power). Even then, it’s STILL the most reliable way to deal damage. Two-Weapon users take a penalty for BOTH weapons in order to get the same damage ratio as Two-Handers, so it’s less viable for them. Oh yeah, and PA doesn’t work on touch attacks. That means spells, but also means that if you, for some reason, turn your melee attack into a touch attack, you lose the bonus. Really, did they have to throw even MORE drivel into the brilliant energy weapon property? …Alright, alright, I’m stopping the rant here, but I’m trying to be fair here.Cleave (THF): Even I’m surprised by this feat. The original 3.5 incarnation enabled the feat if you killed a target. This one forces you into a standard action attack, but works otherwise at the right moment. In short: with ONE attack, you hit two people (adjacent to each other), but these two people are hit with the same attack bonus. If you move, then this feat is actually good; it allows for some mobility and still make things worthwhile. Since Two-Handers seek to deal as much damage as possible with each hit, this will be a god-send to them. You still take a measly penalty, but that’s negligible, really. Talk to your GM if you can Trip with Cleave, and this makes the feat just better!Great Cleave (THF): Now you can attack as many people as you like, since the chain follows the target you attacked LAST, not the one you attacked first. You can only attack one target per round, though. Really, this is much better than Whirlwind Attack! Still the same penalty, but who cares!Improved Bull Rush (THF): One of the two Combat Maneuvers that probably matters, this gives you 2/3rds of the benefits of 3.5’s Improved Bull Rush (+2 to Bull Rush maneuvers, don’t provoke AoO while Bull Rushing, but only from the target, not from anyone else). Please note that you can move with the target if you have available movement.Greater Bull Rush (THF): Not only do you get the full benefit of 3.5’s Improved Bull Rush (+4 to Bull Rush attempts), but the movement provokes attacks of opportunity from your allies. This was already ingrained in 3.5, but you were also victim of Attacks of Opportunity from enemies, so it’s both good and bad (good because you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity from any opponent, period; bad because you need to spend 2 feats to make Bull Rush did what 3.5 did with one). This makes Bull Rushing a tactical action, since you sacrifice your attacks to make the opponent suffer the attacks of your allies, which may hit better than you do and deal more damage than you do…arguably.Improved Overrun (THF, MC): You get 3/4ths of the 3.5 Improved Overrun feat (+2 on Overrun checks, opponent can’t avoid you, don’t provoke AoO while Overruning). Overrun is still a bad idea, since it sacrifices your standard action for it. Mounted Combatants may draw a little bit more from it, since it’s their mount that does the overrun, not you.Greater Overrun (THF, MC): You get that last +2 bonus to Overrun checks, and your target provokes AoO if knocked prone by your overrun. Still bad, but at least a Mounted Combatant that spreads nearly ALL its feats between Mounted Combat and Power Attack gets to make 2 attacks with an overrun (one hoof attack, plus one attack from your lance as part of the AoO that the target just provoked), so it’s actually a fair maneuver. Just not an AMAZING one…Improved Sunder (THF): Give props to Buhlman and his crew for trying. Sunder is now slightly better as you can choose to merely break the target’s item rather than outright destroy it, but you’re still sacrificing one attack to weaken the target’s equipment. Since the effectiveness of this maneuver depends on the damage you deal, obviously it’ll fall to the Two-Hander to make best use out of it. You get 2/3rds of the 3.5’s Improved Sunder feat, as usual.Greater Sunder (THF): Again: they tried. This gives that last third of 3.5’s Improved Sunder, but the added benefit… If you choose to destroy the weapon, the damage overflow goes to your target. Note: you choose to destroy the target. Meaning: you’re willing to sacrifice your LOOT to deal piddling damage to your target. This is exactly why 3.5’s Sunder sucked, and why this feat sucks. Not even Two-Handers will like it, except MAYBE to get the remaining bonus.Quick Draw (Thr, Gun): To an extent, the enabling feat for Weapon Throwers. Simply put, you can draw a weapon as a free action instead of a move action. Since you need to draw lots of thrown weapons to make a full attack with them, this is what enables you to use thrown weapons offensively. The feat STILL has worth to other people, though, in case they need to switch weapons. Gunners will probably benefit as well, since it’s better to have three guns firing as a full-round action than one that you need to reload to fire again.
Rapid Reload (Gun): Essential for Gunner builds. If you wield a Crossbow, you will probably need this as well: with a light crossbow, you can make full attacks, while you can deal one decent attack with a heavy crossbow.
Shield Focus (SnB): As Weapon Focus (see below), but with a shield. The advantage is that you don’t need to choose one kind of shield; the bad thing is that this bonus doesn’t apply to your Combat Maneuver Defense, so it’s strictly worse than Dodge. No shield, no benefit, so doubly worse. Even Sword & Boarders will find a hard reason to justify it.
Step Up (LD): Move 5 ft. if someone attempts to make a 5 ft. step as an immediate action. You’re limited to ONE step, though and you sacrifice 5 ft. of movement on next turn. This last requirement is ridiculous, but anyone could make good use of it. On the other hand, Lockdown builds will find better use out of it, since it allows you some maneuverability to better enable your control. This Is particularly good against spellcasters, who often use 5-ft. steps to move away from you, and also against archers, so it’s a good tactical move.
Strike Back (LD): Somewhat disappointing move, considering that this is the “successor” to Karmic Strike and the ever-useful Robilar’s Gambit. If you sacrifice ALL your attacks, anyone who hits you gets an attack. The thing is, it’s not an Attack of Opportunity; the problem is, you can retaliate against only ONE attack they do. At least you can retaliate regardless of reach, making it a strong counter against reach attacks. Make sure you mention that you’re using Power Attack and all those other feats BEFORE readying the action, so that you gain their benefits. Lockdown builds focusing on Trip may sacrifice their melee attack to make a Trip attempt instead, imposing a penalty to the attack roll and potentially forcing an attack of opportunity, so they may make better use out of it.
Throw Anything (Thr): The equivalent of Catch Off-Guard, this imposes no penalty for improvised thrown weapons. As a rule of thumb, any melee weapon can be thrown as an improvised thrown weapon, including two-handed weapons. You also gain a +1 on splash weapons, which is somewhat decent, but nothing to speak about. Weapon Throwers might want to choose this for variety, though with your BAB, you can probably ignore the penalty without problem.
Tower Shield Proficiency (SnB): You can choose to waste a feat to wield tower shields (and get cover from them) or you can dip Fighter and get one feat in addition to free tower shield proficiency. Honestly, there’s no reason why you should waste a feat on it, period. Sword & Boarders can’t use Tower Shields offensively, so that’s even less appealing to them.
Two-Weapon Fighting (SnB, TWF, Thr, Gun): The signature AND enabling feat of Two-Weapon combat, which includes offensive Sword & Boarding. Normally, if you wield a weapon in both hands, you get brutal penalties (-6 to your primary hand and -10 to your off-hand), which get lessened by 2 if you wield a light weapon in your off-hand. Two-Weapon Fighting merely reduces the penalties to a respectable -4 (the same as wielding an improvised weapon), which get further lessened if you wield a light weapon in the off-hand. If you wield a shield, you can bash with it but at the same penalties AND you lose the shield bonus to AC while at it. You can even wield a thrown weapon in each hand, but with the same penalties. Two-Weapon Fighting reduces this for all three, making it absolutely necessary for Two-Weapon combatants, and also a necessity to allow Offensive Sword & Boarding and making multiple attacks with Thrown Weapons without penalty, so Weapon Throwers may want to consider it (but, with the few feats a Paladin has, might as well ignore that unless you’re very certain of what you’re doing). You can even attempt to fight with two crossbows or two guns in each hand, so it may also help Gunners.Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (SnB, TWF, Thr, Gun): Get another attack, but at a -5 penalty. At the time you gain it, what it means is that you gain a second “iterative” attack with your off-hand. The Dexterity requirement, though, is particularly excessive, so only pure Two-Weapon combatants and the odd Sword & Boarder will really make it.Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (SnB, TWF, Thr, Gun): Get another attack, but at a -10 penalty. It has a way too excessive requirement (Dex 19, meaning you need to start with at least a Dexterity of 16 and spend ALL your level-based increases on Dexterity) in order to get it…by level 13, unless you’re incredibly lucky (start with Dexterity 17, or get a manual of quickness of action before level 11). Two-Weapon combatants will find it necessary, but the strain is far too excessive for Sword & Boarders, and if you’re focusing that much on making that many attacks with thrown weapons or guns, might as well think of Fighter and Gunslinger.Double Slice (SnB, TWF, Thr): A corrective feat, this allows you to add your full Strength bonus (rather than half of it) to attacks with the off-hand. This feat is superb if you have a massive Strength bonus, as it eventually surpasses the damage you could make with full attacks compared to the damage from a Two-Hander, and it keeps increasing as more Strength is added. If you have only a bit of Strength, then it’s not really that good. If you somehow apply Dexterity to damage, then it’s worthless.Two-Weapon Rend (SnB, TWF): Taken right from the Epic Level Handbook of 3.5, this move (set on a pretty decent level) allows you to deal an extra “attack”, done automatically AND adding quite a bit of your Strength modifier, if at least one attack of each hand hits. If you have the feats to spare, might as well take it; thus, it’s better for pure Two-Weapon combatants rather than Sword & Boarders, who have to spend some of their feats on their shield as well. I didn’t add Weapon Throwers and Gunners, but if your GM reads the feat carefully, it may allow you to add this rending damage if you make an attack with thrown weapons in each hand or land two shots with a gun in each hand, as the feat indicates.Shield Slam (SnB): About the one thing that might redeem the Sword & Board style, this allows you to make free Bull Rush attempts with EVERY attack you make. That means you can make about 4-5 Bull Rush attempts if you land all attacks in a full-attack action. Technically, this should go below Improved Shield Bash as it’s specific to shield bashing, but I set it here because of the advantage. The wording used is pretty interesting: you can move with your target if you’re able to take a 5-ft. step or spend an action to move during the turn. The latter is obviously if you make a shield bash as an attack action, but there’s two ways to enable that action that might work. The first is as part of a full attack: if you haven’t moved 5 ft., you technically haven’t spent ANY of your movement, so you can move your entire distance (rather than a 5 ft. step) with the bull rush. Alternatively, if you make a shield bash attack as an attack of opportunity, and you didn’t move at all during your last turn (not even a 5-ft. step), you can move during that action. While it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, think of it as a bone thrown to the poor Sword & Boarders, and it ALSO makes Bull Rush a very creative maneuver to use, so it ALSO promotes Bull Rush. Finally, note that you don’t provoke an Attack of Opportunity while Bull-Rushing, regardless of whether you have Improved Bull Rush or not. All in all, a pretty cool feat for Sword & Boarders.Shield Master (SnB): Just like Double Slice is a corrective feat for anyone who makes an attack with two weapons, Shield Master is a corrective feat for Offensive Sword & Boarders. For starters, it negates ALL the penalties made when making two attacks with weapon and shield, so you always attack at your full attack bonus. Second, you add your shield’s enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, so you save money as you treat the shield’s enhancement bonus when you’re attacking and defending. Great feat to have; in fact, if it simply lost the Two-Weapon Fighting requirement, it would have made Offensive Sword & Boarding actually worthwhile (on the other hand, you’d have had to wait until 11th level to pull that off). To any Pathfinder player: just look “Agile Shield Fighting” in the Internet to understand why it’s such a disappointment, but in the interest of objectivity and fairness, it’s a must-have if you’re to be a Sword & Boarder.Two-Weapon Defense (TWF): Remember Dodge? Remember Shield Focus? Well, Two-Weapon Defense is exactly the same, except that the bonus increases by 1 if you fight defensively or use the Total Defense action (which on its own grants a dodge bonus to AC). It doesn’t apply to Combat Maneuver Defense, so it’s pretty poor. Choose it if you think you need more AC. Offensive Sword & Boarders need not apply.Vital Strike (SnB, THF, TWF, US, MC, Thr, Arc, Gun): A new and rather interesting feat. The important thing about the wording is that it makes reference to an attack action, which is its own kind of standard action. This is important, because anything that applies as part of an attack action or a melee attack ALSO applies to Vital Strike (1.e. Power Attack, Greater Cleave). Vital Strike is best for when you need to move and stake everything in a single blow (…sorry…I can’t hold it…Final Strike…Justice Streeeeeeeam!), but if you’re allowed many full attacks, it stops being useful. A curious thing to note: this acts as 3.5’s Manyshot when used with the Archery talent.Improved Vital Strike (SnB, THF, TWF, US, MC, Thr, Arc, Gun): Just when you get your second iterative (BAB +11), you can deal three times your weapon damage, with all benefits and penalties of Vital Strike.Greater Vital Strike (SnB, THF, TWF, US, MC, Thr, Arc, Gun): See Improved Vital Strike, above, except it requires BAB +16 and quadruples your weapon damage.Weapon Finesse (Fen, TWF): When wielding a light weapon, you use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength for attack rolls (and attack rolls only). It also works with rapiers, whips and spiked chains. Since wielding a shield imposes a penalty to attack rolls equal to its armor check penalty, it’s best if you’re wielding light weapons in one or two hands. The signature (and enabling) feat of the Fencing Style, and a natural feat for Two-Weapon combatants.
Weapon Focus (MC, Gun): Grants you a +1 bonus on attack rolls with a single weapon of any kind. As with 3.5, this means it’s a trap, except that the bonus on attack rolls ALSO counts for any Combat Maneuver check, so it effectively counts as a +1 bonus to Disarm, Sunder and Trip checks. Better, but not for that much. Mounted Combatants will obviously want to take it for the Lance, while Gunners might want to take it for a single kind of firearm.Dazzling Display (LD): If you intend to pump up Intimidate checks, this is the equivalent of the Never Outnumbered skill trick from 3.5, except as a full-round action and executable each turn. You still sacrifice your attacks for it, though. Lockdown builds can use it to demoralize opponents, further debuffing their enemies.Shatter Defenses (US): If you manage to shaken, frighten or panic an opponent, it gets treated as flat-footed. If you have the feats to spare, you can have an Unarmed character activate Medusa’s Wrath this way as part of a full-attack, so as long as the character is already shaken or you can shaken the target as part of your own full attack (once it’s enabled, then you have a chance to deal a second attack which enables this feat, thus enabling Medusa’s Wrath).
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-05-13 at 12:22 AM.
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- Sep 2011
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Can I just say I loathe the A-Game paladin. It amounts to a trick that someone with excess skill points and UMD can pull off.
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- Apr 2005
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Yes, part of it is being able to cast as a half-wizard, which can be duplicated with UMD, but it is much more than that. The biggest focus of the build is actually on emulating the Bard (what with the Inspire Courage/Inspire Greatness optimization), but getting that alongside the Paladin SotAO casting and the Spirit Ally ACF makes for a fairly unique combination. Hardly something you could replace with a rogue investing in UMD.
Edit: On topic, Oskar continues to write guides that are a mile long and take an hour to read. Nobody is surprised. Everyone skims at least one section.
I do like that the Damage Redirection style is apparently viable for the Paladin. That's one thing I've generally wanted to see more of.
Last edited by Seerow; 2014-05-12 at 10:26 PM.If my text is blue, I'm being sarcastic.But you already knew that, right?
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Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
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Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Last edited by Mark Hall; 2014-05-13 at 11:25 AM.If my text is blue, I'm being sarcastic.But you already knew that, right?
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Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
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- Gainesville, GA
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 playerOriginally Posted by T.G. Oskar
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- Oct 2013
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
I must keep track of this thread, that I may get to smiting! Err. Marking. Yeah. ;)
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- May 2012
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Haven't read the entire guide, but overall seems really good and you have a pretty exhaustive 3.5 to PF set of note.
I must take deep exception to your ranking the paladin's capstone so highly (the highest ranking, in fact). It's actually a nerf to the class, and any sane person would multiclass out rather than take 20th level of Paladin.
Holy Champion (Su)
At 20th level, a paladin becomes a conduit for the power of her god. Her DR increases to 10/evil. Whenever she uses smite evil and successfully strikes an evil outsider, the outsider is also subject to a banishment, using her paladin level as the caster level (her weapon and holy symbol automatically count as objects that the subject hates). After the banishment effect and the damage from the attack is resolved, the smite immediately ends. In addition, whenever she channels positive energy or uses lay on hands to heal a creature, she heals the maximum possible amount.
Even if you go with the supposed "intent" -- that it only ends the smite if you do banish the outsider...I don't WANT to banish the outsider! Banishing means it comes back in a week. Killing it means it has to reform years later on its home plane and most likely take a huge dive in rank, going by the 3E fiends books (has PF changed how outsiders dying on other planes works?). Also...you don't get the treasure. Banishment is an unwelcome addition to a situation it's certainly not needed (if you're smiting it, it's dead...), and there's no choice in whether you want to use it or not.
True straight classed Paladins look the other way and feign ignorance that a 20th level exists.
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- Feb 2010
Re: Class Features
Patrick gets gets 8d6, avg 28 hp, 16 times per day (448 avg. total).
The point about "3.5 > back to full health quickly" still stands, but total daily healing pulls WAY out into the lead.
Part of it depends on just how many spells a Cleric can/will convert into Cure spells. If the Cleric does nothing but Curing, then yes, they will out heal the Paladin. But the Cleric is inclined to use his spells for more than just healing, there's buffing, battlefield control, etc...
But a Paladin can very easily save all of his Lay on Hands for healing purposes (and pretty much has to, unless you fight tons of Undead).
Yes, if the Cleric _wants to_ they can out-heal the Paladin. But trust me, they probably don't want to that badly.
Also, very angry about the lack of mention of Oradin...
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- Apr 2013
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Generally a decent guide. A few quibbles, but hardly worth mentioning, except for:
Smite: it's still smiting if you do more than one blow. Look up the word. Yes, there are meanings that tend towards a single act, but this is not the only meaning.
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Optimal Feats - Part 2
Combat Feats – Other Paizo Products
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: New Combat Maneuvers3.5 players may recognize “Combat Maneuevers” as the special actions they know and…well, most of the time they hate: Bull Rush, Disarm, Grapple, Overrun, Sunder and Trip. Advanced Player’s Guide added four new maneuvers, but we’re gonna mention only three, and focus only on two (one of them is Steal, which you can’t use because your Code forbids it):
- Drag (LD): As a standard action, you move an opponent (kinda like Bull Rush), but towards yourself. You actually move with your target (provided you can actually move). As you can see, the move is pretty pointless, unless you’re using it to move a dangerous opponent from one (or various) of your allies, but you spend a turn that you could have spent killing it, period. Nothing is mentioned as to whether you could use it with a reach weapon without moving (there’s no feat that enables this, ATM, but no Errata or FAQ that says you can’t), which could make it interesting to Lockdown users.
- Reposition (LD): As a standard action, you move an opponent (kinda like Bull Rush), but to anywhere you want. A reason why Drag is pointless is because you can simply circle it around you. You can’t move the opponent to a dangerous area, at all. Lockdown builds with Greater Reposition can use it to enable attacks of opportunity from allies, but if you’re the only combatant, it’s kinda pointless.
- Dirty Trick (Fen, LD): Probably the best Combat Maneuver you can do, ever. It’s a catch-all for any…well, dirty trick you can pull off. Blow sand off in target’s eyes? Nuclear Wedgie? Peek-a-boo? Feinting…nah, that has its own “Combat Maneuver”, but… Anyways, the trick is as follows: as a standard action, you can blind, dazzle, deafen, entangle, shaken or sicken a target for 1 round (plus 1 round for every 5 points in which you exceed your target’s CMD…being a touch attack, pretty much, it means the effect might last for several turns). The target can remove the penalty by spending a move action (whaddya think: if the target removes the penalty, it’s treated as staggered for 1 turn!). Fencers will probably have enough Intelligence to get the advanced versions, while Lockdown builds with some effort can benefit from the last three effects, and also from blindness. The only qualm is that...it’s called a “Dirty” Trick, which implies cheating, which goes against the Code. Speak with the GM, because Paladins could definitely use this to even the ground (a non-cheating use of it). Also, it’s the ONLY maneuver thus far that ignores the target’s size, which makes it superb.
Advanced Defensive Combat Training: Simple +4 bonus to CMD, but you must belong to a faction that grants it. The earlier feat is useless, so might as well take it if you multiclass into a class that lacks full BAB to make the latter feat matter.
Amateur Gunslinger (Gun): If you have enough Wisdom, you can try to get this feat, which grants you 1 grit point and a single 1st level deed from the Gunslinger class (Deadeye, Gunslinger’s Dodge or Quick Clear). Deadeye is essentially a touch attack at larger range increments (but with the same penalties), Gunslinger’s Dodge lets you either move 5-ft. and gain a +2 bonus to AC, or drop prone and gain a +4 against a single attack, both as immediate actions. Quick Clear is probably the most effective, as it allows you to remove the Broken condition (-2 to attack rolls, as a reminder) on any gun, if it’s part of a misfire (a natural 1 or somewhere within that range), and doesn’t require spending grit points. It’s gained for free with the Holy Gun archetype, though.
Amateur Swashbuckler (Fen): As Amateur Gunslinger, but for Swashbuckler's Deeds. Swashbuckler uses Charisma, which is an advantage, and the deeds are aimed towards classy fighting. Fencers should consider getting this, particularly since you recover Panache via piercing weapons, which more often than not are the best weapons for them.
Ammo Drop (Thr): If you have at least 1 rank in Sleight of Hand, you can reload a sling as a swift action. This doesn’t allow for full-attacking, though, so it doesn’t redeem using a sling as a weapon.Juggle Drop (Thr): Really, did it took THIS long to get it? Now you can reload your sling as fast enough as you have attacks, so you can use a sling more offensively. If you use a sling, it’s a must; if you don’t, pass.Arc Slinger (Thr): Slings are mostly lumped with thrown weapons because they behave similarly, but are really somewhere between projectile weapons and thrown weapons (similar to crossbows). If you focus on using slings, this is a great feat, as it allows you to ignore the first range increment and reduce the penalty of all others by 2 (with Far Shot, that becomes 3 range increments),and allows you to apply the Point-Blank Shot feat at a larger distance (within the first range increment of a sling). Also works if you’re a Halfling using a Sling-Staff, or a character using the same weapon by means of Exotic Weapon Proficiency. Otherwise, too specific.
Barroom Brawl: I...want to say something nice about this feat. Really. You turn one of your feats into a floating combat feat, which is beyond superb...but you gain that use once per day. Once. Meaning you sacrifice one of your feats for having the right feat once per day. It has few requirements, but still...that hurts. If you've finished your choice of feats and feel this one might work, go ahead. Otherwise...it hurts to see such a nice feat be so restricted. Ouch.
Battle Cry: A pretty nifty pseudo-Inspire Courage, in that it grants a morale bonus against fear effects and also to attack rolls. It depends on Charisma (of which you have quite a bit) and also allows an ally to reroll a fear save. It has very simple requirements, as well. Oh: it also requires a swift action to activate. Flagbearer is slightly better, but this one is definitely no slouch.
Bashing Finish (SnB): Net a critical hit, get a free shield bash attack. If you have a +1 keen scimitar or something like that, it means you get many attacks. What’s more, you can get free attacks even outside your turn! Formidable feat, and almost shameful that you have to wait so long to get it
Befuddling Strike (US): As Stunning Fist, but confusion (for longer duration) instead of stun.
Blinding Flash (Fen): As a move action, you can cause one target that fails a Fortitude save (based off your Dexterity) to be dazzled for 1 round. Dazzled helps defensively, but spending a move action for such a weak tactic when you can do something better doesn’t really cut it. You also need good Intelligence to pull it off, which practically begs for Improved Dirty Trick, which can do the same thing as a standard action but without a penalty.
Bloody Assault: Sacrifice 5 points from your attack bonus (and CMB) to deal pathetic damage. Yes, it’s bleed damage (and I like damage over time), but it’s just a small nick, you deal about 2 points of damage on average, and you can’t stack the damage. If the damage stacked, then it would have been a brutal feat to have, but as it stands, it’s just too little for the exchange. Pass. Non-stop.
Bloody Vengeance: Pretty meh feat. If someone attacks you, you can study them with 1 standard action, THEN the next melee attack deals 1 point of bleeding if you hit. So, you need to get hit (bad) to spend a standard action (bad) to deal 1 additional point of damage (worse). Not even fluff saves it; it’s a trap and it should feel ashamed of it.
Bludgeoner: You gain the ability to deal non-lethal damage with a mace without penalty. Or a club. Or a flail. That’s about it. Pass.
Body Shield (US): If you focus in grapple, you can use your opponent as cover, and the target gets to suffer the effects of the attack. That’s awesome, except it only works if YOU are the one who grapples, and only for one attack, and as an immediate action. Still, it’s pretty awesome.
Bodyguard (DR): The enabling feat of feat-based Damage Redirection. You turn chances to make Attacks of Opportunity into Aid Another checks. If you have the chance of stacking your Aid Another bonus to high levels, then it might work; otherwise, consider carefully whether it’s actually useful. Note that it says adjacent ally, so you can’t use the benefit of reach with it, which lowers its effectiveness even more.In Harm’s Way (DR): The signature feat of feat-based Damage Redirection. You need to be providing the aid another action to an adjacent ally and boost its AC by it (most likely through Bodyguard). Once per round as an immediate action, you can take ALL the attack for the opponent. While a nice move, there are so many problems with it that it turns the feat into a disappointing one. For starters, you need to be adjacent to the target; nothing about reach works here, so you can’t extend your range to protect allies. Second, you need to already spend your Attack of Opportunity for an aid another, which offers little bonuses unless you increase it to valuable levels; no other feat applies, not even Covering Defense which would be thematically viable. Third, you only block ONE move; you can’t use your other Attacks of Opportunity to enable this feat, so if the enemy hits twice, and lands the hit twice, your ally is still in danger. It’s way too specific to work, and given that spells and powers already work better, it’s your call to actually keep this feat or not.Break Guard (SnB, TWF): It requires disarming, but if you’re already skilled in disarming, you can use this feat to gain an extra attack as a swift action (with your off-hand weapon) after a successful disarm. The way it’s written, it also means you can disarm with your off-hand and attack with your main weapon. Nifty trick, but too feat (and ability score) intensive. Technically, you treat your shield as a weapon if you’re an Offensive Sword & Boarder, so might as well tack it there (you use the shield to disarm).
Bull Rush Strike (THF): Nifty trick. Note that you can stack this benefit with a Critical feat, so if you have something like Stunning Critical, you can have both apply. If you succeed on a Critical Hit, you initiate a free bull rush attempt but your confirmation roll acts as the CM check, so if you exceed the target’s CMD (surprise; it’s almost a touch attack!), the target gets pushed away. It’s great if you’re doing a full attack and that last attack is a critical hit, since that means you can potentially move the enemy away after it has taken the brunt of your damage. What’s more, if you haven’t moved at any moment, you may use this as an excuse to move with your opponent, finishing the full attack and potentially moving the enemy away twice. As usual, talk to your GM to see whether this option is viable, but it’d feel like a snob move to do so.
Bullseye Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): Spend a move action to adjust, the next shot has a +4 to the attack roll. Pretty meh unless you can deal one frelling good hit. A slightly altered version of Dead Aim from d20 Modern, though.
Canny Tumble (Fen): An attempt to make tumbling past an opponent more attractive. It requires two bad feats. Pass.
Channeling Force: Ask your GM if it's legal (you can Channel Energy, after all), but if you do...turn 2 uses of Lay on Hands into a bonus to damage rolls! Works for three attacks (or until end of combat), and it activates as a swift action. You need a [force] spell to gain access, though.
Charge of the Righteous (MC): You ignore the penalty to AC when you attack undead and evil outsiders. Undead targets are pretty numerous, and Evil outsiders can be a headache, but nothing to waste a feat for, even if it screams that Paladins should get it. Mounted characters could get more from it, though not much.
Charge Through (THF, MC): Hey…this actually makes Overrun useful! It requires a charge (guess who loves charging!), and lets you Overrun as a free action. If you have Greater Overrun, that means you can deal an Attack of Opportunity to the target knocked prone, AND continue your charge (does the attack ALSO gain the bonus to attack rolls? I recall the rules stating that the bonus to charge applies only on the first attack on your turn, but this is stopping, attacking, then moving again, so while inertia isn’t conserved, it doesn’t mean the move doesn’t come with inertia of its own). Mounted Combatants will have a field day with this, since they can combine this with Ride-By Attack and deal several hits with Spirited Charge going in. Who’d think about it, Overrun being useful!?
Charging Hurler (Thr): Charge, but instead of getting close to the enemy, you stay within 30 ft. and make a single thrown attack. This attack takes the bonus from the charge, but also its penalty. For all it offers, don’t really bother. 3.5 players may recall there was a similar feat in the Miniatures’ Handbook called Hurling Charge , which replaced your bonus to attack rolls for a free thrown attack, so imagine my thoughts about this.Improved Charging Hurler (Thr): Now, you can charge from any distance (beyond 30 ft.), but if you’re within 30 ft., you gain a +2 to damage. A Weapon Thrower will generally remain at a distance, to take as few penalties to range increments as possible. Still, bleh.Chokehold (US): If you specialize in grapple, this is a pretty awesome maneuver. Start by grappling, then make a grapple at a -5 penalty. If you succeed, you pin your target and start to choke it. Any foolish spellcaster that lacks Silent Spell or Freedom of Movement cannot cast any spells, and ANYONE who’s held in a choke learns about the suffocating rules. Eventually, unless it doesn’t require breathing, is immune to bleeding or critical hits, it’ll die. Slowly, yes, but it’ll die. The chokehold ends if you end the grapple, so make sure you’re a formidable grappler. At 7th level, this means you get one or two good uses out of it before the DM starts to chuck books at you. Then, the size and the presence of Freedom of Movement, immunity to critical hits and the lack of need to breathe makes this feat less useful.
Cleaving Finish (THF): This is the PF version of 3.5’s Cleave. Many people thought it unnecessary, because it requires killing an opponent in a single blow or at least have someone nearby to take advantage of the feat. Rarely the two ever happened. Two-Handers *might* draw some benefit out of it.Improved Cleaving Finish (THF): As 3.5’s Great Cleave. Pass.Close-Quarters Thrower (Thr): Decent for Weapon Throwers, as it allows you to attack in melee range without penalty. Much better for those who have Thrown Weapons as a secondary combat style (if possible), as you can still focus on your nifty large weapon.
Clustered Shots (Thr, Arc): A very interesting feat, this allows you to fire arrows at your leisure and worry less about damage reduction, as it’ll apply only once. Thus, if you hit more than twice, you’ll get pretty large amounts of damage easily. If you can find a way to load and fire guns fast enough, Gunners can also benefit of this feat.
Cockatrice Strike (US): An added link to the Scorpion Style feat chain, but this one is actually far, far better than the rest. If you can hit with Medusa’s Wrath, you can as a full-round action (and no expenditure of Stunning Fist at all) cause the target to become permanently petrified, if it fails a Fortitude save. You can’t follow up Gorgon’s Fist with Cockatrice Strike (otherwise, this’d be a pretty brutal combination), but there’s ways to set up daze or unconsciousness that are good enough to enable petrifaction. This is as close as an instant-death effect without spending resources that anyone has. The only problem is that the DC relies on a dump stat (Wisdom) and that the feat chain is just TOO long and complicated, taking up two of your last feats. Meant for Monks rather than for Paladins, but if you’re going Unarmed, might as well consider it.
Combat Patrol (LD): Sacrifice your attacks to increase your threat range, provided you don’t have movement issues. This works phenomenally well with Haste, but otherwise, you need to make formidable Attacks of Opportunity to make the sacrificed attacks worthwhile. Lockdown builds, because of their naturally large range, can easily threaten an area of 30 ft. radius, and since their effect is to lock the opponent in place, they can make better use out of it.
Combat Style Master (US): No, it doesn’t refer to the Combat Styles I mentioned above. It refers to other combat styles, all of which start with the [Name] Style feat (the one exception is Scorpion Style). For reference, these are: Boar Style, Crane Style, Djinni Style, Dragon Style, Earth Child Style, Efreeti Style, Janni Style, Kirin Style, Mantis Style, Marid Style, Monkey Style, Panther Style, Shaitan Style, Snake Style, Snapping Turtle Style and Tiger Style. You might not have enough feats to complete one style, let alone start one, so ignore completely.
Cornugon Shield (Fen): If you happen to be proficient on a spiked chain and have the Weapon Focus on it, this is like Two-Weapon Defense for them. Not really that great. Fencers can use spiked chains with their Dexterity modifier, so they could probably choose the feat, but nothing to brag about. Also: just because the feat has “Cornugon” in its name doesn’t mean it’s evil.
Cornugon Smash (THF, LD): Use Power Attack, hit, and make an Intimidate check to demoralize an opponent as a free action. A must have for Two-Handers to provide some debuffs alongside their attacks, while Lockdown builds can use it to further the power of their Trips and some other moves, like Dazing Assault. Just make sure to justify how to get it, though.
Cornugon Stun (US): A corrective feat…for Monks. Ignore. You’re focusing on unarmed strikes, not special Monk weapons.
Cornugon Trip (Fen, Thr): Treat a spiked chain as a thrown weapon which allows ranged trip attempts. Fencers will be capable of dabbling in Weapon Throwing, while Weapon Throwers will have a shiny new weapon to use AND a cool tactic to boot. The problem is that the feat is pretty intensive, requiring high Int and Combat Expertise alongside the prerequisites (unless you can get Improved Trip by other means…*coughcoughMonkcoughcough*), so you might not be capable of managing it.
Covering Defense (SnB): If you choose to go total defense, you spread your defense to your allies. Obviously more worthwhile with a Tower Shield, which you lack. It also doesn’t apply the shield’s enhancement bonus to AC, and you can’t attack. This is more for Sword & Boarders who fight in tight quarters with their allies and don’t mind attacking at all, ever. Otherwise, skip it.
Crippling Critical (Arc, Gun, LD): Score a critical hit, halve the speed of an opponent for anywhere between 1 round and 1 minute. With a weapon that has a high critical range, you can slow opponents quite badly. This works with ANY weapon, and affects ANY speed; in fact, against flying creatures, you force a rather simple Fly check to force them to remain aloft, and since their maneuverability is reduced, that means at the very least a penalty to the check…and it still has its speed halved. Good one all around, but far better for Archers and Gunners (as their range makes the dangerous opponents remain out of the range of your allies). Lockdown players will also gain benefits, as it reduces the speed of their opponent (and specifically flying opponents), but conflicts a bit with Stand Still, which just plain stops them.
Crossbow Mastery (Gun): Important note: this doesn’t work for actual Gunners (it doesn’t work on firearms), but since crossbow users often overlap with guns, it gets lumped as this. This is Rapid Reload on steroids for ALL crossbows, letting them use crossbows as if they were bows (look at that, the Gunner just became an archer!). This doesn’t make the Rapid Reload feat redundant, since its effect now changes to “negate the attack of opportunity with the chosen crossbow”. Almost a feat tax.
Crusader’s Fist (US): If you hit with an Unarmed Strike, you can spend 1 use of Lay on Hands to deal its normal damage. This is only useful against Undead creatures, who are often resilient to bludgeoning damage. But, again: you can simply make a touch attack and work it out. Really, no need for it at all.
Crushing Blow (US): Not only do you need to have Stunning Fist, but also to succeed on the Stunning Fist attempt, and you replace the stun for a penalty to AC. The penalty is based on your Wisdom (again: a dump stat for you now) and lasts for 1 minute. Simply ignore.
Darting Viper (LD): Requires proficiency with a very specific weapon (the Dwarven Dorn-Dergar or Dwarven Chain-Flail, a decent bludgeoning reach weapon), but it allows you to switch between normal or reach versions as a swift action. While normally this wouldn’t mean much, the fact that you can change between a weapon with a 5-ft. reach and one with a 10-ft. reach is decent, since it handles one of the big problems of reach weapons (can’t attack adjacent squares). That way, you can make a full-round attack against an adjacent target, make a 5-ft. step and then switch to reach, making it great for Lockdown builds.
Dazing Assault (TWF, LD): In my opinion, the true signature move of a Lockdown build. This feat imposes a rather hefty penalty to attack rolls (and Combat Maneuver checks), but ANY attack done forces a chance to daze the target. ANY. Daze is a pretty insidious condition, but its main appeal is that it’s just so darn hard to resist, it affects just about ANYBODY. Sure, maybe mindless creatures like oozes are immune, but those have their own ways to beat. On the other hand, dragons, Evil outsiders and even undead aren’t immune to daze. In fact, guess what’s the ONLY creature that’s immune to daze by design? Magical beasts, but ONLY if they have the Behemoth subtype. Sure, the penalty to attacks and the forced Fortitude save (albeit using YOUR base attack bonus as the guideline; you’re a Paladin, so go figure) make it less savory, but here’s the deal: remember Sickened and Shaken? These two reduce saving throws, and so does your Prayer spell. That’s almost a -5 to the saves, and you do it in EVERY single attack, even Attacks of Opportunity. It doesn’t work with ranged weapons, which is the only shame. You still do your full damage, which is the cherry on top of this awesome sundae. This is a spell that I’d gladly kill for to get in a 3.5 campaign, and it actually makes having full BAB a very important thing. It’s just THAT good. Get it. No, really, GET IT. NOW. It’s an order. NOW. …Well, when you get to level 11th, but that’s the latest I’ll allow you to get it.
Dazing Fist (US): As Stunning Fist, but imposes daze instead of stun. Look above, and notice that no one is innately immune to daze. Now, consider that you can get it early on, and make the math. You get limited uses and has a Will save to negate, but otherwise it's superb when pulled off.
Deadly Finish: Pretty pointless. See, either the damage you deal kills the target, or you leave it unconscious. You don’t get anything, save for denying the target the ability to use Diehard. Pass.
Death from Above (MC): If you charge from higher ground or while flying, the bonus to attack rolls increases to an awesome +5. Being mounted counts as being in higher ground if the target is smaller than your mount is on foot (that is, the typical mount is Large, so it applies to any creature of Medium size or smaller). It’s less useful with Small characters on a Medium mount. If your character flies and depends on charging, it’s also useful.
Death or Glory (THF): As a full-round action, you gain a +4 bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls and critical confirmation rolls against a target that’s Large or larger, but if you don’t kill it, the target can make one attack against you as an immediate action. The damage increases, and the effect specifically mentions Vital Strike and its chain by name. However, being a full-round action kills everything, since it’s an all-or-nothing attack, and if you fail, the target can kill you in one blow. That’s really, really bad, unless you happen to have immense amounts of AC or enough miss chances to make the counter-attack pointless. A Two-Hander may have enough damage bonuses to make the damage matter, though, so it’s slightly more useful to them.
Defensive Weapon Training: +2 dodge bonus to AC against a weapon from a specific group. For example, if your opponent uses any Heavy Blade (that is, a longsword or a greatsword or a bastard sword), you gain a +2 to AC against those attacks. Note that this also applies to your Combat Maneuver Defense when the opponent uses a maneuver that relies on those. Only good if your campaign focuses on that, but otherwise a waste of a feat slot.
Demon Hunter: In a campaign on the Abyss, this is golden, since it grants a decent Knowledge check bonus against its natural inhabitants, plus a +2 bonus to attack rolls (and, therefore, CMB), not to mention caster level checks against SR (which high-level demons have). In other campaigns, it consumes one of your precious feat slots.
Dervish Dance (Fen): This feat allows you to treat scimitars as rapiers (one-handed piercing weapons that work with Weapon Finesse), but also allows you to add your Dexterity modifier to damage rolls, provided you don’t wield anything else in the off-hand. Naturally, this makes Fencers ignore Strength entirely, and all you need is the starter feat for Fencing, Weapon Finesse. A must-have for Fencers, particularly since a one-handed slashing weapon that uses the Fencer’s key offensive score are rare (barring using Slashing Grace, and even then).
Desperate Battler: You’ll most likely seek to fight alone, and you don’t have many things that grant morale bonuses, so this might be useful to an extent. The bonus is a tad low, however.
Destructive Persuasion (THF): While you’ll most likely be capable of sundering objects to and fro, you’ll have to spend points on Intimidate for this feat to really matter. At most, you can get +10 by breaking an Adamantine object, or +20 if you completely destroy it; a huge bonus, but nothing really worthwhile when you can just use Diplomacy for a longer effect. If you focus on demoralizing, then it might be more useful.
Devastating Strike (THF): Gain extra damage when using Vital Strike. It starts at a +2, but if you get Greater Vital Strike, it grows to a respectable +6. Think of it as a feat tax to make Vital Strike viable. It also gets multiplied on a critical hit, so if you’re a crit-fisher, the bonus to damage is larger. A Two-Hander with Devastating Strike will probably deal enough damage to kill a target with one blow, particularly more if wielding a Falchion or an item with a high critical threat range.
Disarming Strike (Fen): Sorta meh, but you get a free disarm with your critical hit. Fencers often get high critical threat range weapons, so they’re the best for it, and they don’t have to worry about getting their precious actions denied to make the attempt to disarm. They also probably have enough Intelligence for Combat Expertise, so it’s a bone for these odd builds.
Disengaging Feint (Fen): In the simplest possible terms, you replace your feint with the Withdraw action. No, really. Disappointed? So am I.Disengaging Flourish (Fen): Same as above, but this time, it applies to as many opponents as possible. Still pointless…Disengaging Shot (Fen): Alright…now it’s a bit respectable. You feint, make a single attack that denies the target its Dexterity modifier to AC, and THEN you move. Three feats for this? Really? REALLY? Oh, and it needs a bunch of feats, just one short of Spring Attack. The joke is not lost, friends.Disheartening Display: Adding another link to the Dazzling Display feat chain, this allows you to temporarily worsen fear effects by one step. That is, as long as you do Dazzling Display. It works if you can frighten a lot of enemies at once without Dazzling Display, so that they become panicked...or if panicked, so that they may cower for 1 round.
Distance Thrower (Thr): As Arc Slinger, but with ALL thrown weapons, AND without the Point Blank Shot penalty. So, to be specific: if you wield ANYTHING but a Sling (or Sling-Staff), choose this feat. Otherwise, get one of these and choose Arc Slinger instead.
Domain Strike (US): A VERY, VERY specific feat, but you can use it if you follow the Unarmed combat style AND happen to be a Sacred Servant. This allows you to use the power of your domains via your unarmed strikes. Most likely, you won’t choose a domain whose granted power affects ANY opponent, so this is for the one-in-a-million chance effect. Most probably you’ll never get access to. I mean, not even a Cleric, of all people, would choose this feat, UNLESS it multiclassed with Monk.
Dorn-Dergar (Chain-Flail) Master (SnB, LD): If you manage to get proficiency with the dorn-dergar (aka, the Dwarven Chain-Flail), you can use the weapon in one hand, making it the third one-handed weapon with reach (alongside the whip and the scorpion whip). This is excellent for Sword & Boarders, since they already have the requirement feat and can do Lockdown while using a Shield. Lockdown builds, on the other hand, can equip a shield (so as long as they get Two-Weapon Fighting) and get additional defense. Since it requires Two-Weapon Fighting, it may be harder for most Lockdown builds, but it definitely allows for a Stand Still Lockdown/Sword & Board build. Dwarves get proficiency for free, so it’s even better for them.
Drag Down (Fen, LD): Fun counter, but not much. If you get tripped, you can attempt a counter-trip. Normally, if the target fails, it allows a chance of tripping (unless it dropped its weapon); in this case, regardless of the action, you trip the opponent. Too specific, but still fun.
Draining Fist (US): As Stunning Fist, but instead imposes fatigue (and eventually exhaustion) for a decent duration. Still imposes a saving throw, though, and has pretty restrictive prerequisites.
Drunken Brawler: Defensive feat, but if you have Endurance, it’s quite hilarious. For 1 hour, you take a penalty to Reflex saves (which are already your worst), but you gain temporary hit points equal to your character level (20 temporary HP at 20th level) and a +2 alchemical bonus to Fortitude and Will saves while the temporary HP lasts. Take a penalty on what you have the worse, get bonuses on what you’re already good. You also need to be the worshipper of a good deity, which is just goading you to get it. If you can spend the feats, it makes for a pretty awesome character trait.
Dueling Mastery (Fen): You gain a +2 bonus on Initiative checks when you start with a weapon, and a +2 shield bonus if you wield the weapon in a single hand (or half this benefit if you wield the weapon in two hands). If it applied to the rapier and a few other weapons, it would have been formidable, but it only applies to ONE weapon: the (Aldori) dueling sword. Since it’s a region-specific feat (from the Inner Sea World Guide; note that it’s not a regional feat per se, but a feat specific to a region), there’s no way to expand it, which hurts. The (Aldori) dueling sword is a mix between a longsword and a rapier, having the longsword stats but usable as a rapier if you have the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat for it (you can use it as a longsword if you don’t, though). Fencers may draw some use out of it.
Elemental Fist (US): A Stunning Fist variant, but instead of stunning, it adds damage on a SINGLE hit. Good in a way, bad in a way. It’s slightly better than its counterpart in 3.5, the Fiery Fist feat, but the limited uses makes it a wash.
Elephant Stomp (THF): This feat stinks. You need to make an Overrun attempt and beat the target’s CMD; if you’re doing an Overrun, you want to move through the enemy. If you succeed, you can choose to stay where you are and deal a single attack with an unarmed strike or natural weapon as an immediate action. You know, you could have just moved and attacked, or maybe do a charge and use your own frickin’ weapon. Besides, knocking prone IS better in that regard; it could have been both, rather than replacing one thing for the other. This feat is bad and it should feel ashamed.
Enforcer: This is a feat that feels wrong at first, but actually rocks! See, you only deal non-lethal damage to activate it (which is normally bad), but if you succeed on the hit, you get a free Intimidate check to demoralize. This would normally suck, except for this: if you succeed ON the check, your damage becomes the number of rounds the target is shaken, so you’re doing one hit to deliver a pretty long-lasting debuff. On a critical hit, the shaken effect becomes frightened, which is formidable. If frightened, you could find another way to shaken it and turn it into panicked (save for a demoralization). If you fish for critical hits, this is an awesome feat to have, particularly if you’re aiming not to kill your targets.
Equipment Trick: This isn’t one feat, but a series of feats that give “tactical maneuvers” if you have the subsequent requirements. Each of the feats has its own set of benefits.
- Equipment Trick – Anvil (THF): You need 5 ranks in Climb and Craft (armor) plus Improved Bull Rush to get all tricks. When you have an anvil weighting 50 lbs. or more, you can use it to reduce your Climb check DC by 5 when climbing ropes or chains, increase the target’s nonmagical armor’s bonus by 1 for a single attack, temporarily fix a broken item and break doors as a move action. Two-Handers will have enough Strength to use any of these, and Smash Through is an excellent way to contribute to the party.
- Equipment Trick - Heavy Blade Scabbard (Fen, THF, LD): You need 5 ranks in Climb, Quick Draw, Blind-Fight, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip and Throw Anything to get all tricks. Capture Weapon is so-so for Fencers with Improved Disarm, as it allows you only to store the disarmed item. Hurl Scabbard is awesome for Two-Handers, since it provides an impromptu thrown weapon and you end up armed, but only if you have a Combat Scabbard (which deals 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage) or its Sharpened version. Steer Opponent is risky, but it gives Two-Handers a bonus on a single attack that starts at +2 and increases as you beat the target’s CMD on a Bull Rush attempt, but you’re left flat-footed if you fail. Tangle Leg is formidable for Trip Lockdown builds as it allows you to make a ranged trip attempt (though not against creatures larger than your size, which in the case of most races is Large) as a swift action (you need to draw a heavy blade, though). Find the Hidden lets you spend your move action to sweep the area, netting you a melee attack that ignores the invisibility miss chance, which is pretty cool. Grab Purchase requires the Climb ranks, and lets you survive a fall when you fail a Climb check. A mixed bag, though Find the Hidden is incredibly good (perhaps not enough to merit Blind-Fight, but formidable if you have it).
- Equipment Trick – Rope (Fen, LD): This feat lets you improvise with ropes. The two coolest ones are those that let you treat a rope as a spiked chain or a whip, giving you two weapons at once (so as long as you’re proficient in each weapon). With Throw Anything, you can entangle an opponent with a rope (as per a lasso). With 5 ranks in Climb, you can catch people in mid-fall, which is pretty useful. 5 ranks in Escape Artist or Sleight of Hand offer so-so benefits (+10 on Escape Artist checks to escape from ropes, which is cool but not constant; coiling a rope in 1 round is a waste of space and ink). With Improved Grapple, you get a reduction to the penalty when tying up a creature, which is decent but nothing spectacular. Finally, you ALWAYS get the ability to secure ropes in a way you can loosen them faster, so the feat is slightly better than others because of its default benefit. Fencers might like the few adventuring tricks, while Lockdown builds will probably like the weapon improvisation and ranged trip.
- Equipment Trick – Shield (SnB): You need quite a bit of feats (Deadly Aim, Improved Grapple, Improved Trip, Throw Anything) to get most of all tricks, but this choice has a lot of tricks. Break Ground allows ranged trips with your shield (requires Imp. Trip); Hurl Shield makes your shield a thrown weapon, Little Wall nets you cover (requires 5 ranks in Escape Artist); Keen Eye lets you negate your entire AC bonus from your shield to fight better against creatures with gaze attacks (requires Perception 5 ranks); Release Shield lets you switch shields faster (no prereqs); Ricochet Shield lets you ignore cover when throwing your shield (requires Deadly Aim) and Shield Gag works to negate bite attacks and other mouth-based abilities (swallow whole, and breath weapons are merely impeded; requires Improved Grapple). While you need way too many feats to get full use out of it, just one (Throw Anything) gets you access to most of them, and a feat-conscious build could probably get one or two of the other feats. All in all, provides quite a bunch of decent options for shield wearers, but the better ones (Break Ground, Shield Gag) require too many feats to make it worthwhile. If you can afford the skills and the feats (maybe through a Fighter dip), this feat becomes pretty awesome (as in Captain America awesome). Also get if you have the chance to get Quick Draw and dabble in Weapon Throwing (and have lots of shields).
- Equipment Trick – Sunrod (Thr): One of the oddest, this allows you to use the noble Sunrod offensively. You need 5 ranks in Craft (alchemy) and Handle Animal, Quick Draw and Throw Anything feats to get all tricks. Flare imposes a slight penalty as an area effect or as a full-round action thrown attack (the Fortitude save is fixed, though); Fast Sunrod allows you to quick-draw Sunrods (the latter count as alchemical items, so they can’t be quick drawn; on the other hand, why no Free Action?); Like the Sun requires you to cast spells with the Light descriptor and counts as an effective Heighten Spell for them (recall that Paladins can cast Daylight as a spell); Lodge Sunrod lets you tag targets; Lure lets you make Handle Animal checks to control the movement of an animal, and Twice as Brightly consumes the Sunrod faster to make it work brighter. Has (alongside Anvil) the least amount of requirements (and for a Thrower, this effectively means all tricks save for two), and the tricks are somewhat decent.
False Opening (Thr, Arc, Gun): Odd feat. You get feats that allow you to fire within range, and you deliberately choose to take the attacks of opportunity. If they fail (you get a +4 dodge bonus to AC against those attack), you deny them their Dexterity modifier to AC. Unless you’re a Rogue, or you have a friendly Rogue (or Ninja) with you, this feat sucks.
Fearsome Barricade (LD): Another disappointing feat, and you require to be in a faction to get it. You can attempt to demoralize an opponent that attacks your ally as an immediate action; that alone would have made this a superb feat, except it only applies to an adjacent ally (you apparently can move, though), and it consumes one of your attacks of opportunity. Lockdown builds will probably have enough Attacks of Opportunity to make this useful, but with demoralize as nerfed as it is, and with so many other efficient ways to pull this off, this feat doesn’t really cut it out.
Felling Escape (US): A quirky combat maneuver, this allows you to trip an opponent from which you escape your grapple from. Considering just all the steps you need to do, you could simply CHOOSE to trip the opponent rather than wait for it to grapple you. Too conditional to work.
Felling Smash (THF, LD): Very interesting maneuver. If you hit while making a SINGLE melee attack, you can spend a swift action to make a trip. Due to the wording, this involves making a Vital Strike attack, so it’s better when used as part of a Vital Strike. You need good Int and Improved Trip to make it worth, so you may not have the chance to get it. Just in case: Two-Handers have it easier, because Power Attack and Vital Strike synergize well with this feat. If for some reason you have loads of feats and Cleave works with Vital Strike, it becomes a potent way to establish Lockdown.
Feral Combat Training (US): Only useful for races that have natural attacks, this allows you to apply the benefits of feats that have Improved Unarmed Strike as a prerequisite with them. This means Stunning Fist, most if not ALL of the combat styles, Scorpion Style and whatnot. Too specific to work, though it’s just hilariously good on an Ophiduan.
Flagbearer (SnB, LD): Also a local feat, but a pretty awesome one, if the right conditions are met. You grant a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls and saving throws against fear to all allies within 30 ft. of the same allegiance as long as you hold the flag in one hand. 30 ft. is pretty wide (wider than your Auras, actually), and you could easily have everyone belong to the same allegiance to get the bonus. You can’t let them steal your flag, though, or it becomes a penalty. You have the right amount of Charisma to make it worthwhile. The only problem with it is that you must have one hand “free” (or rather, holding the flag) for it to work. Lockdown builds with a one-handed reach weapon can provide some bonuses, and Light Shields allow you to wield an item in the hand, which could easily be the flag (so Sword & Boarders can become pseudo-buffers).
Flanking Foil (LD): Rogue, start crying on a corner. This denies a Rogue its most reliable way to deal sneak attack, and it has absolutely NO penalties whatsoever! It works with full attacks, AoO and even Cleave, so Lockdown builds will have a field trip with this feat, though not if you depend on Reach.
Focused Discipline: Interesting feat, all the better because you’re actually immune to fear. Each time you’re subject to a fear effect that doesn’t affect you (Aura of Courage makes sure you never do), you gain a +2 morale bonus against the creature that does it for 1 round. This bonus applies to attack rolls, weapon damage rolls and CMB checks. The only problem is when the GM metagames, since it’s to be expected that Paladins will be immune to fear and thus never affected by one, which makes this feat pointless. On the other hand, on a campaign where fear is a constant, this feat is golden. Ask your GM if the bonus to CMB stacks with the bonus to attack rolls.
Focused Step (Arc, Gun): If you have good Intelligence, you can choose to make ONE attack and add your Intelligence to the damage you make. If it were for ALL attacks and let you do so in a full attack action, I’d consider it. Being that Intelligence is more often than not a dump stat, run away from it like the plague (that will never catch you because you have Divine Health, but assume you don’t have the skill).
Following Step (LD): A patch to Step Up, this lets you get closer to your opponent (5 additional feet), and you don’t get penalized on your movement next turn. A recommended feat, but only if you chose Step Up and have enough feats for it to matter. Lockdown builds get some good movement with it.Step Up and Strike (LD): Probably the only reason why you’d choose Step Up at all, this allows you to have the opponent provoke an attack of opportunity from your target, in addition to the movement. Formidable against pesky spellcasters, who see their spell ruined because the attack of opportunity just happens to appear RIGHT as they potentially choose to cast their spell. Lockdown builds will have a field day with this, because the extra attack can serve for a Trip (though not for an attack AFTER the trip, sadly…is it?), using Stand Still on a non-spellcaster, or using Dazing Assault on anybody and ruin their day.Fortified Armor Training (SnB): A lifesaver, but with its caveat. If a target succeeds on a critical hit, you can sacrifice the protection from your armor or shield to turn it into a normal hit, but the sacrificed equipment becomes broken. A Sword & Boarder can thus be saved from two critical hits, but it suffers the loss of its secondary weapon and secondary defensive measure.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-11-02 at 04:02 AM. Reason: Adding new feats from Advanced Class Guide; making space by removing a racial feat line.
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
- Wellington, New Zealand
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
You have the fly thing backwards: You need the DC10 check to fly less than half your speed, not more.
For Gun-Paladins, a three level dip in the Trench Fighter archetype (For fighters, who'da guessed?) nets you dex to damage with one kind of fire-arm, which is earlier than the Gunslinger's 5th level, and also feats to jump-start proficiency/ranged feats.
Edit: Can't believe I forgot to mention, but Great guide! I especially liked the RP aspects, with which I basically agree wholeheartedly.
Edit2: Whoops, sorry, didn't see the don't post yet!
Last edited by Sayt; 2014-05-12 at 11:43 PM.
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- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 3Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: AbbreviationsMost optimization guides take the approach of choosing the best combat style for the reader, and then choosing feats based off that combat style (or combat styles, to be precise). Taking a cue from Bodhi’s Guide to the Paladin, I’ll deal with feats in terms of Combat Styles, but instead of making five different recollections of feats, I’ll mention them once and then use abbreviations to determine their utility. Only the Combat Styles to which this feat applies will be used, but otherwise they’ll use the same format as before. As usual, Red is bad, Orange is not so bad, Yellow is average, Green is decent, Blue is good, Light Blue is awesome and Purple is conditional. The abbreviations are: SnB (Sword & Board), Fen (Fencing), THF (Two-Hander), TWF (Two-Weapons), US (Unarmed), MC (Mounted Combat), Thr (Throwing), Arc (Archery), Gun (Gunmanship), LD (Lockdown) and DR (Damage Redirection).
Furious Focus (THF): A worthwhile investment for any user of Power Attack, this allows you to ignore the penalty to Power Attack on the first actual attack you make in the round. For Vital Strike users, this means probably the ONLY attack they do in the round, while to others it means having a pretty secure hit. Note that it says first “attack”, so if you’re using one of the “Quick” options, or your first attack is a trip, you can still reserve this for when it really matters. Naturally, because Power Attack is the signature feat of Two-Handers, you can expect them to gravitate towards it.Dreadful Carnage (THF, LD): If you spend some time with Intimidate, you get yet another way to demoralize people within 30 ft., but this time as you kill a creature (or take it to negative hit points). Two-Handers can pull this off faster, so they get more mileage out of it. Lockdown builds often rely on Attacks of Opportunity, and hence they can do this out of turn (being a free action and all).Fury’s Fall (LD): You add your Strength and Dexterity modifiers (rather than only your Strength modifiers) on all trip checks. Trip Lockdown builds will make their trip checks far more reliably, and will promote a greater increase of their Dexterity, which means more Attacks of Opportunity, which means more chances to trip; a win-win situation for them.Fury’s Snare (LD): If you willingly disarm yourself (you can draw another whip, though), you can stack the entangle condition to the prone status, and any magical quality that deals damage becomes a damage over time effect. The only problem is that the Strength check to break the weapon is pretty easy to make (DC 10), and escaping the whip by it means the whip is broken (not destroyed, just broken). Trip Lockdown builds may want to have a few masterwork whips around just for this. Sadly, you can’t stack Holy Sword alongside this, because the effect is canceled once you drop the weapon, but if you manage to have a spare magical whip, stack a Greater Magic Weapon to it and use it to have one enemy bound for quite a while.Gang Up (Fen, LD): You need to be pretty smart to pull off this incredibly obvious move. If you have two allies flanking, you’re treated as flanking, no matter where. Probably you’ll have only one other person flanking in the group, so unless you have two dedicated flankers, this feat won’t be as good as you. Fencers who use Combat Maneuvers and Lockdown builds gain better benefits, particularly the latter who can gain the flanking bonus from unusual locations.Team Up: Aid action as a move action when you have at least two other allies adjacent to an opponent. That’ll rarely happen, but at least it allows you to protect an ally or grant it a bonus to attack rolls AND act at the same time. Still, the positioning is too risky for it to be meaningful.Gory Finish (THF): Interesting move. If you make an attack action with a weapon with which you have the Weapon Focus feat, AND happen to take the target to negative hit points, you can demoralize everyone within 30 ft. As you could expect, this is perfect for Two-Handers who make Vital Strike attacks, because they definitely have the chance for it. Others…not so much.
Hamatula Strike (US): Despite the evil-sounding feat, this is nonetheless a…well, a so-so feat. You effectively grant any piercing weapon you wield the improved grab maneuver, and you can deal damage with it as part of an attack action, which you can’t do unless you have Greater Grapple (someone hasn’t read the rules, right…?) Since you need Improved Unarmed Strike to pull this off, this means you’ll probably prefer to be unarmed, and with the penalties…obviously this means the feat is best used with armor spikes, which leave your hands free AND also grant you a piercing attack (though armor spikes count as light weapons, so the point is moot). Most reach weapons happen to be piercing weapons, so they could allow you to grapple from a distance, but you’ll rarely have enough feats to make it work. This is a feat that grants a solid boost, but where it shows that the developers need to read a bit more what they’re doing (something that 3.5 did quite a bit, to be fair to Pathfinder fans).Hamatula Grasp (US): If you use Hamatula Strike successfully, you deal more damage (1d6) and the penalty is lessened. A pretty decent boost.Hamatulatsu (US): A very solid feat that allows you to deal two kinds of damage with unarmed strikes (adds piercing), but the real effect is when you land a critical hit with a piercing unarmed strike, as you can sicken the target for 1 round (sickened targets get staggered instead). Sicken is a pretty nifty condition. The only problem is that unarmed strikes have poor critical stats, so unless you increase that chance (Improved Critical for unarmed strikes), the feat isn’t that useful. The 1-round duration makes it less palatable.
Hammer the Gap (TWF, Thr): Cool maneuver. Basically, this is a rhythmic feat: if you can land many hits in a blow, you can increase your damage manifold. For example: you make one attack at X damage; if you succeed on the next attack, then it’s X +1 damage, and then X + 2 damage, and so on. As you may have noticed, the more attacks you make, the better. Full TWF builds can net somewhere from 3 (for three attacks) to 21 (for all 7 attacks) points of damage, while Weapon Throwers who happen to have the myriad of feats required for Rapid Shot and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting can exploit this to get up to 28 points of damage. However, the rhythm is interrupted if you miss one attack, and you can rarely recover well enough to increase the damage once again. This is a low-hanging fruit for very specific builds that happen to have insanely high attack bonuses and multiple attacks in a row.
Hold the Blade (Fen): A defensive feat that allows you to immediately disarm someone as an immediate action (no pun intended). This only applies against flanking attacks or sneak attacks, though, and you need to have one hand free. A Fencer might make good use of this feat. This feat lowers your AC, so it makes you even more liable to hits.
Impact Critical Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): Ranged weapons have the lousiest critical threat ranges, but this feat makes it pretty worthwhile. This allows a ranged bull rush or a ranged trip, and requires nothing more than making a high confirmation roll, so it’s more of a freebie than anything else. Your opponent’s CMD might be higher than its AC, though, but for the most part you’re effectively hitting against touch AC, so the chances of pulling this out are pretty high. This feat is best on crossbows, since they do have a better threat range than most other ranged weapons.
Improved Awesome Blow (THF): You're Large-sized or have the Awesome Blow feat? Well...this makes it better...for a given definition of it. Use it, aim where your fellow melee combatants land, and grant them free attacks of opportunity. Will hardly see use, though.
Improved Blind-Fight: You need to spend quite a bit of skill points in Perception to get it, but if you do, AND you have Blind-Fight, might as well get it. The ability to ignore nearly ALL kinds of concealment (save for that of the Blink spell) is really good, because it denies most people a chance to deny ALL damage. Furthermore, you gain half of the benefits of Uncanny Dodge. Pretty good feat.Greater Bull Rush: Now, even total concealment is no match for you, and you retain your Dexterity bonus to AC against creatures at any range. You need to wait until level 15th to get it, but it’s worthwhile…if you have the feats to spare. Note, though, that total concealment is STILL treated as total concealment for purposes of the Improved Bull Rush feat; what happens is that you have better chances of hitting.Improved Dirty Trick (Fen, LD): +2 to Dirty Trick checks, and you don’t provoke an AoO from it. You need good Intelligence for it, which means Fencers and Trip Lockdown builds might get the better benefit out of it.
Greater Dirty Trick (Fen, LD): +2 additional bonus to Dirty Trick checks, but the winner here is that the base duration of Dirty Trick is based on 1d4 rounds, so that means an average of 2-3 rounds per use, and it still stacks up. This makes for a pretty huge bonus. Not only that, it consumes the target’s Standard action (not Move action) to remove the effect, which further restricts the target. Even Stand Still builds may benefit from this, as you can keep them completely debuffed with a combination of keeping them in check and imposing penalties galore. Note that Entangle + Stand Still is a pretty devastating combination.Dirty Trick Master (Fen, LD): Oh, by all that’s good and sacred, this is NASTY!! If you affected someone with an earlier Dirty Trick, you can escalate the condition by one step. Dazzled creatures become dazed (!!), entangled creatures become pinned (can’t move, awesome!), shaken creatures become frightened (just one step before going panicked!), and sickened creatures become nauseated (can’t make standard actions, only move). Not only that, the effect duration is increased. This makes using Dirty Tricks formidable, since you have several dangerous statuses at your disposal. As usual, Fencing and Lockdown builds will have a holiday.Improved Drag: Same as nearly all Improved [Combat Maneuver] feats, but for a Combat Maneuver that’s not worth it. Pass.Greater Drag (THF, LD): An additional +2 to Drag checks, and NOW you can have the target provoke attacks of opportunity. You need to reach this feat to understand that probably the reason why you want to drag someone is to bring the desired target to where it can get smacked down. All this…well, I think the feat itself sums up what I feel: what a “Great” piece of drag.Improved Reposition (Fen, LD): Same as nearly all Improved [Combat Maneuver] feats. You also need Intelligence to gain access to this feat, so probably Fencers or Trip Lockdown builds may make good use out of it. Of those, Lockdown builds probably will make the better use of the maneuver, for added control over their opponents.Greater Reposition (Fen, LD): An additional +2 to Reposition checks, and the movement causes AoO from everyone except you. Lockdown builds will probably exploit this better than others.Tactical Reposition (Fen, LD): Gasp! NOW you can use this Combat Maneuver for what it was frickin’ intended to! Trigger traps, set the opponent to fall into a pit, drop it into lava, make it eat your friendly Cleric’s Blade Barrier…what’s worse, the target takes a penalty on its AC and saves to avoid it. I mean, WHY it couldn’t be the effect of Greater Reposition, rather than let you spend THREE feats for it? Lockdown builds will love this, particularly as they can keep a target trapped through Stand Still and/or Trip indefinitely.Improved Two-Weapon Feint (TWF): If you happen to have enough Intelligence and the Combat Expertise feat, you get a better version of the Greater Feint feat, which actually applies to all attacks you make during the round. This is obviously better for Rogues, but it can help if you have a Rogue or Ninja ally. However, it does incite too much MAD.
Indomitable Mount (MC): Another essential feat for your mount, this is like Mounted Combat but for saving throws. It takes your immediate action, though.
Jaguar Pounce: Weird feat, particularly since it eventually becomes worthless. If you make a charge against a flat-footed or helpless target, the first melee attack is a critical hit. It also works with Spring Attack. As you can see, since it involves using this feat in the first round of combat and later on you get ways to increase your critical threat range (such as Improved Critical proper, or the keen weapon enhancement), it loses steam pretty quick. It has the advantage of applying to ANY weapon, but you’ll most likely have the weapons you want with keen already. For example: if you’re a Mounted Combatant, you most likely have Improved Critical for the lance.
Jawbreaker (US): Certainly meant as a mage-slayer feat, this feat foregoes your Stunning Fist benefit to break its jaw, dealing slight bleed damage (1d4 damage per round) and negate the target’s ability to speak. Now, this would be a bad idea, except that the target needs to be grappled, stunned or otherwise helpless, so stacking a Stunning Fist would be redundant; this makes it LESS redundant. That said, it’s too much of a hassle and best left to a Monk.Bonebreaker (US): Instead of breaking the jaw of an opponent, you deal Strength or Dexterity damage. Note that this works against targets immune to critical hits (or at least, it doesn’t say that you can’t use it on them, other than “Stunning Fist doesn’t work on creatures immune to critical hits”), so it’s moderately useful.Neckbreaker (US): Spend a Stunning Fist attempt against a pinned character to deal 2d6 Strength or Dexterity damage, and any damage overflow goes to Constitution. The amount of feats required makes it nearly impossible for you to see in play, and you ALSO happen to need a whopping 12 ranks in Heal, and by that time Grapple starts to fail as a maneuver.Ki Throw (US, LD): If you make an unarmed trip attempt against the enemy, you can pretty much Reposition it for free. Unarmed builds might get some use out of it, while Trip Lockdown builds might use it to effectively Reposition opponents that approach their square rather than that of their reach weapon.Binding Throw (US): Same as Ki Throw, except with a swift-action Grapple check. Think of it as a German Suplex to understand. While Lockdown builds could make good use of it, focusing on a single opponent rather than controlling the battlefield is not their line of work; on the other hand, Unarmed builds will enjoy the combined maneuvers they can pull off with this little trick.Improved Ki Throw (US, LD): Same as Ki Throw, but with added Bull Rush effect. This may seem decent enough, but the Bull Rush is done towards an opponent, which then gets pushed back one square and knocked prone. 3.5 players may recognize this trick as the Ballista Throw maneuver from Tome of Battle, except the latter also dealt damage, so it’s pretty hard to compare. Unarmed builds can use this as a limited form of Lockdown, while proper Lockdown builds can use this to play within the battlefield.Landing Roll: This is an ukemi! No, seriously! It’s not just because Bang says so; it tells you that you move 5-ft. after the successful trip, but then you fall prone. That’s the very definition of an ukemi, pretty much. Unless the target has Greater Trip and lacks a reach weapon, pass. And even then, it’s TOO situational.
Large Target (Thr): The feat that lets you be king David. You get a +1 increase to your damage per size category, which is pretty much what you lose by means of size. However, it doesn’t get improved on a critical hit, which is quite obviously what David did to kill Goliath in one blow (well, that and divine intervention, which in this case would be your Paladin’s mark). Moderately useful; better the smaller you are.
Let Them Come: This feat has the double-whammy of being both race-specific (Dwarf) AND faction-specific. The benefit…lets you deal double damage with nearly ANY weapon if you ready against a charge. For the very specific entry requirements, might as well let you spend an AoO to automatically brace and deal double damage against a charge. Pass.
Low Profile: Even if you’re a small Paladin playing an Archer or a Gunner, this isn’t really worth your while. Sure, you make other people hit better as you don’t provide cover for their attacks, but most likely they’ll have Improved Precise Shot to prevent this, so unless one of your allies wishes to focus on Archery and you’re right there, in the middle of the enemy, then it’s not really worthwhile. Even then, there are better ways to ignore the penalty, so skip this hard.
Massed Charge (MC): This feat is decent to protect yourself against combat maneuvers, and lets you fight with another mounted character. There are better feats out there.
Measured Response (THF): You may notice that some forums measure average damage, where 1d6 = 3 or 4 points of damage per blow. If you have a weapon with even dice (2d4, 2d6, and so on), then this feat is excellent because you never risk dealing low damage, but you never risk doing high damage either. For weapons with odd dice (1d6, 1d8, and so on), you lose damage on average. The big winner here is the Greatsword-wielding Two-Hander, because you deal consistent damage always. This feat works best when the target has some DR you can’t beat, since you know exactly how much damage to deal.
Missile Shield (SnB): As Deflect Arrows, but with shields. Still doesn’t work against spell effects, nor against ranged natural attacks (such as the spikes of a Manticore, for example). Archery is deadly here, so might as well keep it in mind, though recall that there are shield enhancements that provide this benefit (doesn’t mean they can’t stack, though).
Monastic Legacy (US): If you happen to multiclass into Monk, you add ½ your Paladin levels to your Monk levels to determine their better Unarmed Strike damage. There’s a Prestige Class that combines Monk and Paladin levels, so this is a necessary feat for them.
Monkey Lunge: Again…do you even read, devs? You need to spend a standard action to gain the benefit of Lunge until the end of THIS turn, without the penalty. Meaning, you can’t attack. At all. This feat is not just bad, nor bad AND an affront to good design; this is excrement passed as a feat. This is not reading the feat and intentionally making a feat that doesn’t work AT ALL.
Moonlight Stalker (Fen): A minor bonus to attack and damage rolls when you have concealment from an opponent. Anything, from Blur to Wind Stance, enables this, forming a pretty cheap (so to speak) way to gain bonuses to your strikes. Somewhat feat-intensive, as you require two feats, good Intelligence and spending ranks in a skill you’ll rarely, if ever, use, but the chain is somewhat decent.Moonlight Stalker Feint (Fen): Feint as a swift action when you have concealment against an opponent. You already have the skill and the feat to go feinting, so might as well go all the way with Greater Feint and disable them for 1 round, then getting ALL your attacks with them (or move and attack).Moonlight Stalker Master (Fen): Increase your miss chance by 10%. This may not seem like much, but if you reach total concealment (it still counts as concealment, after all), you can exceed the 50% mark and get 60% concealment. That’s the ability to miss three out of five attacks, making you nearly untouchable (the other two face your potentially high AC). Not only that, if the enemy misses only ONCE, you can move away. Incredibly defensive move, but also very powerful.Mounted Onslaught (MC): If you specialize in overrunning and your mount has a decent bonus to speed, you can use this as a sort of area attack, since it requires the Trample feat. You risk being stopped, though, since the cumulative penalty stacks up real quick.
Mounted Shield (MC): This feat is great, since it increases to an extent the survivability of your mount. You don’t add your shield’s enhancement bonus, though, which is a big “why the hell not!?” that reeks of people unable to understand just how important a mount is to a character. At least it adds the Shield Focus bonus, so that’s a +3 with a heavy shield, which isn’t so bad.
Net Adept (LD): Nets are pretty rare, as they don’t deal damage, but instead serve to entangle your opponent. Entangle is an interesting condition that limits your movement and imposes penalties to attack rolls and Dexterity. Not only that, if you win an opposed Strength check (not a Combat Maneuver check, strangely enough), you can keep the creature within range. This sounds awfully like Lockdown, isn’t it? Well, this feat…lets you use a net as a melee reach weapon, meaning you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity when using it. Not only that, you don’t take the -4 penalty for using an unfolded net, and if you choose to fold it, it takes less time. You need Exotic Weapon Proficiency with nets, but if you do, you have another way to lock-down a target to a certain extent.Net Maneuvering (LD): Use nets to disarm (eh…) or trip (!!) an opponent, or drag/reposition an entangled creature. Drag pulls the target closer to you, while reposition moves the target to one side or the other. Of all four, tripping with nets is the best option, since it adds yet another way to trip with a reach weapon while keeping one of your hands free (and ready to use any weapon…if you have TWF, that is). Net Adept lets you treat the net as a melee reach weapon, so you can provoke AoO’s with it, thus also enabling Trips with reach.Net Trickery (LD): More maneuvering! Now, you can use the dirty trick (one of the new combat maneuvers from the Advanced Player’s Guide) with a net to blind the target, gain a bonus on drag and reposition checks with a net, and the clear winner: trap entangled creatures so as long as they’re within the reach of the net. This last one definitely screams Lockdown.Net and Trident (LD): You need the Two-Weapon Fighting feat for it, but it’s worthwhile. Take a trident, a shortspear or a similar weapon (really, the one you like), and start skewering the target you entangle. With Net Trickery, you can keep the enemy in check and then skewer it with your other attacks, using your net for the trip attempt. Not only that, if you entangle the target, you get extra damage with your attack. Surprisingly good for Trip Lockdown builds if they can muster enough Dexterity, which they should if they’re going for a proper Trip Lockdown build.Nightmare Fist (US): Completely unorthodox fighting style, available mostly to Drow and Tieflings. If you fight someone in an area of magical darkness (like that of their Darkness SLA), you get bonuses to damage (further if under a fear effect), and some bonuses to skill checks, particularly Intimidate. You need to have Improved Unarmed Strike, so you NEED to follow the Unarmed combat style. Somewhat disappointing, since you get a +2 to damage but you have a miss chance because Darkvision doesn’t ignore magical darkness.Nightmare Weaver (US): Cast Darkness, get to Intimidate everyone inside. Remember how you get bonuses if a target is under a fear effect? Well…considering how you need to make a full-round action to activate this effect, you get NO benefit from the earlier feat at all. No way to extend the ability to demoralize a target so that you take full benefit from the precursor feat?Nightmare Striker (US): As you can see, Drow will be the ones to take full benefit of this feat chain. Cast Faerie Fire, and you can make Stunning Fist harder to resist, not mentioning that you can render the target stunned AND shaken. Pretty strong debuff, but you need Stunning Fist for it, and you need way too many feats to get it.Opening Volley (Thr, Arc, Gun): A fun, not feat-intensive way to make your latter attacks succeed. You gain a +4 bonus, which is 1 less than the penalty of your second iterative (-5), and if you can hit that one, you can save the bonus for the third and get better chances to hit three attacks. Weapon Throwers gain a better benefit from this one, as they can switch from ranged to melee pretty easily; the rest need a way to ALSO deal melee damage, so this feat will be less useful.
Osyluth Guile (Fen): Requires a good deal of Bluff ranks and a horrible feat, but it lets you use your Charisma as a dodge bonus against one opponent. That means you could potentially stack Charisma twice (as a dodge bonus by means of this feat and as a deflection bonus through your mark), making you nearly unhittable. Note that, as a dodge bonus, this also applies to your CMD. Fencers will love using this, since it’s far, far better than Combat Expertise.
Paralyzing Strike (US): As Stunning Fist, but it paralyzes the target instead. Daze is great, but outright paralysis means free coup de grace, which can mean certain doom. If you can boost your Wisdom to stratospheric levels, get this.
Parting Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): It requires the horrible Shot on the Run feat, but useful when you get cornered. You can escape and deliver a single attack at any point during your move when making a withdraw action, but only once per encounter. This is mostly a “get out of a bust” card for you. If you can manage to add stuff like Deadly Aim to this, then it might be worth the feat slot; otherwise, leave it if you have a surplus of feats (read: never).
Passing Trick (Fen): Less of an actual maneuver and more of a “skill trick”, this feat allows you to make a feint after making a successful Acrobatics check to move through an opponent’s space (read: Tumble, the one that has a DC of 25) as a swift action. You need both a high Bluff and a high Acrobatics to pull off. Pass.
Perfect Strike (US): You need Improved Unarmed Strike, but it only works with one simple weapon and four exotic weapons. What gives? Obviously a Monk feat in disguise. Pass.
Performance Weapon Mastery: All of your weapons are treated as if they had the “performance” quality, which grants a +2 bonus on any combat performance check. Good if you’re in a gladiator campaign, worthless otherwise (and even in gladiator campaigns, this feat isn’t that great compared to the actual performance-specific weapons)
Performing Combatant: This feat enables you to use Performance feats in any battle and gain its benefits. If you intend to use lots of Performance feats, then by all means go for it; otherwise, ignore. A list of Performance feats goes as follows:Dramatic Display: spend a swift action to make a performance check (with a +2 bonus) and gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls and CMB until your next turn. There’s better ways to get a bonus to attack, but at least this one is mostly “free” and gives a good bonus.Hero’s Display: spend a swift action to make a performance check (with a +2 bonus), so as long as it’s done with the weapon with which you have Weapon Focus. Then, you can make an Intimidate check to demoralize foes within 30 ft. Ladies and gentlemen, Never Outnumbered! In fact, the prerequisite feat does the same thing, but as a full-round action, so you might consider this a direct improvement.Master Combat Performer: a feat that actually requires Performing Combatant (or three Performance feats; most likely Masterful Performer and other two). You can make performance checks as free actions, and gain proficiency with a bunch of weapons (including interesting exotic weapons such as the scorpion whip). Pretty decent feat, actually, considering that you’re leaving your swift action quiet.Masterful Performer: choose between the two feats above and the two feats below. With a single performance check (with a +2 on the bonus), you can get the benefit of any two. Thus, you can get a bonus to attack and damage, or move and intimidate, or attack and intimidate…you get the idea. Actually a pretty good way to provide yourself with a self-buff, a good debuff and even some movement at once!Mocking Dance: an odd feat, to say the very least. Before making the swift action to make a performance check, you can move and gain a bonus on the check. However, it doesn’t really specify whether you move using your own actions, or as part of that swift action. Errata doesn’t say anything (and neither does FAQ), so assume that you can move as part of that action. You can’t move and make an attack (you can’t enter an area that would make you threaten any enemy), so its most obvious benefit is denied (move as swift action = full attacks ahoy!).Murderer’s Circle: spend a swift action after making a critical hit OR a combat maneuver (disarm, trip, etc.) to an adjacent target, you can move up to 5 ft. into another spot. Not really a tactical feature, though it helps a lot to set up flanking positions.Savage Display: spend a swift action to make a performance check (with a +2 bonus), gain a 1d6 bonus to damage rolls until the end of your next turn. Strangely enough, since it doesn’t count as precision damage, you can use it against anybody. Debatable whether you can multiply the damage on a critical hit, though. 3-4 points of damage for 1 round is definitely a good use of a swift action.Pinning Knockout (US): deal double your non-lethal damage against a pinned target, so as long as it’s not immune to critical hits. Even if you’re great at grappling, this isn’t a very good tactic, particularly as you don’t deal enough unarmed strike damage. However, it’s quite thematic, since it allows you to take prisoners (Tie Up is better for that, though).
Pinning Rend (US): deal bleeding damage equal to your unarmed strike damage (OR a light melee weapon, actually), so as long as it’s not immune to critical hits. Bleeding damage stacks, so with Greater Grapple that means you can deal quite a bit of damage in one hit. Pretty good feat, but you need to pin the target for it, though.
Prone Shooter (Gun): after 1 turn prone, you halve your penalties against melee attacks (aka, you take a -2 penalty) and become even HARDER to beat using ranged attacks. Nothing to brag about, actually, but it makes being prone much more palatable.
Prone Slinger (Thr): another feat for sling-users, this one allows you to treat a sling as a projectile weapon in the same way as a crossbow or firearm for purposes of fighting while prone. It also explicitly works with Prone Shooter. If you have a Sling-Staff, it should also work, so this is best when you specialize on a Sling-Staff since you can attempt to use the sling function while prone and the staff function when not-prone. Otherwise, ignore.
Punishing Kick (US): Sorta like Stunning Fist (and it also requires Wisdom), but you get two options here: either push the target (like Bull Rush or Reposition), or knock prone (as Trip, except you replace the CM check for a Fortitude saving throw, based off your Wisdom). You only get to use it a few times per day, though, and it has to be declared BEFORE you make the attack roll (just as Stunning Fist). Between knocking prone and stunning, I’d take stunning any day, particularly if you can’t simply treat it as a free trip attempt.
Pushing Assault (THF, LD): Eh…how can I say this. It’s…bland…actually, mind-blanding. Or something. Thing is, you can sacrifice your Power Attack damage to push an opponent away 5 ft. (free repositioning!), but you need a two-handed weapon for it. As you can see, this means that you sacrifice the most reliable way to deal extra damage for…pushing the enemy away. This smells like a trap, feels like a trap, looks like a trap…then it must be a trap! Yes! Two-Handers won’t accept sacrificing their best chance of dealing damage for the chance of moving an enemy away (and losing their other full attacks, maybe), but Lockdown builds can use this to play with “repositioning” if they want to. Works somewhat better combined with Lunge, but not very much.
Quarterstaff Master: Odd little feat that lets you use the quarterstaff one-handed, but the real kicker is that it lets you take the Weapon Specialization feat (and thus, add some extra feat choices) with this weapon.Tripping Staff (LD): You treat any quarterstaff as if it had the trip special feature, meaning that you can drop it if you fail the check. That’s it. You can trip with ANY other weapon, but you prevent being tripped if you fail. That last word sums this feat up. A Trip specialist will rarely, if EVER, fail.Tripping Twirl (LD): Sorta like Whirlwind Attack, but with less stupid requirements and enabling a forced trip. Great if you find ways to become surrounded (like flanking, for example), as it makes your Lockdown job far, far easier. Would have been better if it applied to any target within reach, so that Lunge did its job better. Also: look at just how many requirements!Quick Bull Rush (THF): A pretty fun and excellent maneuver overall. You replace one of the melee attacks with the highest base attack bonus (that means: if you have Haste, one of your first TWO attacks; otherwise, the highest) and turn it into a free bull rush attempt. The fun part comes with this: if you’re making a full attack, so as long as you haven’t moved a 5-ft. step, your movement isn’t used. You can use this feat to move with your opponent up to your base land speed (as what happens when you’re normally bull-rushing) if you succeed, thus enabling a sort of pounce-like ability. Run first with your GM to see if it works, but this is most likely the function of the feat, so it’d be a snob move to deny you this (after spending so many feats!). If you specialize in Bull Rush, this is a must-have maneuver, as it allows you to do a bit of battlefield control (also, it helps any ally that uses a Lockdown build, being an offensively-inclined Paladin).
Quick Dirty Trick (Fen, LD): As Quick Bull Rush, but with the almost infinitely superior Dirty Trick maneuver. Despite the penalty, you can use this to sicken or shaken the target before making attacks, thus making it perfect for Dazing Assault (or Stunning Assault). Both Fencers and Lockdown Builds will love it, particularly Stand Still Lockdown builds who have another way to deny movement via entangling.
Quick Drag: Not even this feat saves Drag. It’s just that bad.
Quick Repositioning (Fen, LD): A pretty interesting move, since it allows repositioning of the opponent before you make your attacks. This makes it excellent to set up flanking opportunities. Anyone can benefit from it, but most likely Fencers will take the most advantage out of it. Lockdown builds can use it to toy with their opponent.
Rapid Grappler (US): Think of it as a “Superior Grapple” feat. With it, each time you maintain your grapple, you can make three Grapple attempts as a full-round action. You can do it faster than in 3.5 (you had your third grapple attempt at 11th level, at a -10 bonus), but the amount of feats you require for it is just too much.
Rebuffing Reduction (THF): You won’t have damage reduction early on, but if you keep Aura of Righteousness, you can get this feat later on. It’s a hilarious defensive maneuver for Two-Handers, because it allows you to do a free bull rush whenever the target fails to bypass your damage reduction (which, being alignment-based, is harder to bypass). Take note, though, that unless you have another way of damage reduction (Adamantine full plate, anyone?), Evil Outsiders will blatantly ignore the benefit of this feat, and unless you have a large bonus to your CMB, the attacker may still be in range to deal the rest of its full attack. Great against pouncers and when a target does a full attack, pointless otherwise (unless you have Greater Bull Rush and can guide it towards a friendly ally’s AoO, where it becomes excellent)
Reckless Aim (Thr, Arc, Gun): Erm…you take a penalty to your AC to effectively halve the penalty to attack opponents engaged in melee. Really; is it any beneficial? What’s worse, if you fail, you fail miserably; a natural 1 hits the other guy, which most likely is YOUR ally. Not even chaotic people might want to get this one.
Repositioning Strike (Fen, LD): As Bull Rush Strike, but with Repositioning. Fencers will have lots of fun with this move (they can land more crits), but won’t draw all of its power. Lockdown builds, on the other hand, might get some more juice out of it.
Rhino Charge (THF): Pathfinder’s answer to 3.5’s Cometary Collision, but you don’t get the meager benefits of the latter feat. You can ready a charge, but your speed is limited to that of one move (not two), so it’s best set for…well, whatever you’d like to charge for. Enemy gets close, charge! Enemy approaches your ally; charge! The more creative you are with readied charges, the better this feat is. Two-Handers love charges, particularly if the target is also marked by you.
Riptide Attack (Fen, LD): A way to make the worst Combat Maneuver ever work; you Trip a target, you can attempt to drag it as a swift action, but it provokes attacks of opportunity. Trip Lockdown builds will prefer this, as they can use it with Lunge to bring people closer to you, so they can’t escape. However, the amount of feats it requires, when compared to other feats, makes this just a good choice rather than the greatest choice.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-10-14 at 11:27 PM. Reason: Rearranging feats; adding feats from Advanced Class Guide
- Join Date
- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 4
Saving Shield (SnB): Like Bodyguard, except it doesn’t work if the target has a shield, and only once per round, and wastes your swift action afterwards. Oh, and it doesn’t improve, unlike Aid Another (and therefore, Bodyguard). Pass.
Second Chance (Fen): If you have the Intelligence and Combat Expertise, this feat allows you to reroll your first attack (arguably the one with the highest attack bonus) by sacrificing all others. Chances are that you can land your second hit, so it’s possible that this feat isn’t worth it, but if everything is staked on just one blow, this may be useful. Fencers have the set-up for it, but their attack bonuses make this feat less palatable for them.Improved Second Chance (Fen): You can take the rest of your attacks when using Second Chance, but at a -5 penalty. Fencers might actually use this if their attack bonus is so high they can reliably land every other hit, and they just happened to suffer a natural 1 on their first roll.Serpent Lash (Fen, LD): You can choose to disarm or trip two adjacent creatures with one swift action (Cleave-tripping does this best, but it may cost a few feats), but only with a whip. Also, you can reposition with a whip. You could do better, but being that you can make a respectable Tripper, it’s certainly a feat to consider (when you get free feats galore).
Shield of Swings (THF): A +4 shield bonus to AC is respectable early on, but later, sacrificing half of ALL your damage for a non-increasing shield bonus makes it pointless. Most useful on early campaigns, and if you can retrain feats (which is debatable for a Paladin compared with a Fighter).
Shrapnel Strike (THF): Turn door-breaking into an AoE attack! Not only do you get a massive bonus against hard items (nothing soft, of course, but stuff like stone, metal or adamantine) equal to your BAB on the Strength check (so that’s a +20 at 20th level?), but everyone within 10 ft. of you takes a hefty amount of damage. Not so big, of course, but still hefty. You take damage from it, though, but nothing you can’t handle with a Lay on Hands, no? Also, the damage can be halved by a Reflex save, but it’s based on your Strength modifier, which should be high (you need a 15 in Strength to get the feat in the first place). As a combat feat, it’s sorta meh; as a way to make the Rogue cry in a corner, it’s awesome!
Shrewd Tactician: Half the benefit of Improved Uncanny Dodge, but you can still get ganked by Sneak Attack. You also resist feint attempts a bit better. Not necessarily situational, but the benefits are too poor for the requirements.
Sidestep: Worthless ability. Yes, worthless. You can move 5 ft. but you can’t move away from your opponent’s threatened area, and it has to be after a miss. Not only that, it consumes your swift action AND your 5-ft. step. Just…why?Improved Sidestep: Just a trap as before, as it doesn’t correct the main problem with the earlier feat; it just lets you move normally next turn. WatisdisIdontevenblargh…Siege Commander: If you’re capable of having a team of people shoot a siege engine of your choice, you can help your crew assemble or move any siege weapon faster and better. If you don’t use siege weaponry, then by all means forget it.
Siege Engineer: You need Exotic Weapon Proficiency with any siege weapon to get it, and what it does is provide proficiency with the rest. Two feats to gain proficiency with weapons you’ll only see in mass-scale combat is just too costly. If your campaign is based on mass-scale combat and you aren’t a vanguard or part of the cavalry, you *might* get this. Otherwise, leave it to the follower or cohort you have by means of the Leadership feat.Master Siege Engineer: As Rapid Reload, but for a crew. You still need Siege Engineer for it. Again, let your crew leader (your appointed siege engineer) do this.Siege Gunner: If you use siege engines directly, then this helps you to aim better. Otherwise, forget about it.Slashing Grace (Fen): Turn any one-handed slashing melee weapon into a finessable weapon! Sort of. You can replace your damage modifier to Dexterity with it, so it's mostly a feat tax. Scimitars and longswords are nice choices, BTW. Also works with Amateur Swashbuckler, if you have it.
Slayer's Feint (Fen): Surely you don't want to Bluff your enemy to do a feint, right? I mean, you lack the proficiency, so the bonus will be only slightly lower. Why not replace it with Acrobatics? Well...considering you don't have proficiency with Acrobatics...
Sleeper Hold (US): A less cringe-worthy version of Chokehold, that uses a better stat (Strength!), that only sets the target unconscious (good for capturing!), and that has a worsening penalty as the time passes. On the other hand, you could probably kill or drive a target unconscious in less than half a minute, which is most likely what you’ll take when using this feat. Nice idea, but poor execution.
Sliding Axe Throw (Thr): Another of those “you can trip with this weapon”, but it applies to throwing axes, so it’s a ranged trip. It doesn’t actually require Improved Trip, and throwing axes aren’t half as bad. The feat may not work if the GM chooses to, though.
Sling Flail (Thr): Congratulations; now you can use a sling as a melee weapon. Who in Paizo loves slings that much to devote about 7-8 feats to make it useful? Quirky, but I like it; that doesn’t mean it’s a must have.
Snap Shot (Arc, Gun): Simple and effective: threaten all 5-ft. squares around you with a ranged weapon. That means you can make Attacks of Opportunity with it, which can be pretty fun. However, it requires Weapon Focus (so you’re limited to one weapon; Gunners can probably afford it) and most effective Lockdown builds still require melee weapons, so don’t think you can combine Archery with Stand Still Lockdown, for example (or Trip, for that matter).Improved Snap Shot (Arc, Gun): Note how it’s written: you threaten an additional 10 ft. Read well, that means you threaten a 15-ft. range, easily the same range as a whip. Unless the target has some serious Acrobatics bonuses, it won’t escape your Attacks of Opportunity.Greater Snap Shot (Arc, Gun): Extra damage with Attacks of Opportunity? Cool! It also applies to critical confirmation rolls, which is a nice fringe benefit.Solo Maneuvers (LD): A mild boost to CMB and CMD when you’re the ONLY one threatening an opponent. If you’re a Lockdown build, this will happen a LOT of times. If the bonus increased, then it would have been a must-have. As it stands, it’s…good.Betraying Blow: Weird feat, it lets you make a Bluff check to deal additional non-lethal damage, countered by your opponent’s Sense Motive. Chances are your Bluff check is higher, so it might work. The “weird” part is that it works better if your target is friendly or helpful, which goes against your Code, and the only thing it adds is…more non-lethal damage. Hey, at least you can knock it faster! Which is what makes it weird: the fluff makes it the worst feat a Paladin could take, but it’s actually not that bad mechanically, since it lets you knock a target rather than kill it, which is good if you’re sent to capture the target. It’s a kind of feat that makes you think just how warped you have to be to make such a feat like this.Spiked Destroyer (THF, MC): If you have enough feats to make it to Quick Bull Rush, get this. It’s an awesome feat, even if it eats your swift action, but you deal damage while making a Bull Rush (which generally deals none). It…also works on Overrun, and nothing says you can’t use it while mounted, so another way to have Overrun become a viable tactic?
Spinning Throw (Fen, THF, US, LD): Ow, my head… Lemme see if I get this straight: first, make an unarmed Trip combat maneuver (Lockdown builds prefer reach). THEN, if you succeed, you can spend a swift action to get a Bull Rush maneuver (which is done easier if you have a Two-Hander, but you can’t use a two-handed weapon for it; furthermore, it needs an Intelligence of 13 and Combat Expertise to get Improved Trip, for THREE feats). If you succeed, then you reposition (no, really, that’s the gist of it), THEN you Bull Rush, THEN the target falls prone. It needs the frightening amount of 6 feats (the requisites, plus Power Attack as a requisite for Improved Bull Rush), spread through three combat styles (Fencing, Two-Hander, Unarmed), and the ONE build that may take advantage of it (Trip Lockdown) can’t use its main advantage (reach). It’s obvious the feat is meant for Monks, but why leave it as a low-hanging fruit for everyone else? Besides, this is gotten in 3.5 with one or two feats (Martial Study, then get a Setting Sun maneuver from the Throw line) without that much of a hassle, save for using it only once per encounter (and only once). Unless you can use this more than once per encounter, this feat is just too expensive to get.
Stage Combatant: Bleh. Right, so you get the benefit of the Bludgeoner feat (a feat in the same book, mind you), but for ALL weapons. That’s it. If I want to knock a target with non-lethal damage, I happily eat the penalty or just get a Merciful weapon for the trouble. Not worth your time. Not even for fluff reasons.
Staggering Fist (US): As Stunning Fist, but you stagger the target instead. You can get it as early as 3rd level, which is pretty nice.
Steady Engagement (LD): Let me quote Daniel Bryan for a moment: YES! YES! YES! YES! This makes a Stand Still Lockdown build take advantage of the Trip maneuver. If you happen to have Improved Trip AND Greater Trip, that’s further good, since you can stop, trip, AND daze the opponent (of course, with Dazing Assault) all at once! It ALSO happens to be meant for good characters, so it’s almost like it calls to Paladins.
Stunning Assault (THF, LD): Like Dazing Assault, but this stuns your opponent rather than daze it. As I said before, daze is barely resisted; stun, on the other hand, is resisted quite well. Dazing Assault is acquired early on, so this feat is pointless compared to that one. It even has the same attack and CMB penalty. However, if you can stun pretty reliably, then this feat is almost as good as Dazing Assault, particularly since it relies on your BAB. Lovely for Rogues and Ninjas, though, because it denies Dexterity bonus to AC (which daze doesn’t). Also, it’s even BETTER than Stunning Fist (really, Paizo, really!?).
Stunning Fist Adept (US): You know just how HARD it is to get Stunning Fist, to get a measly +1 bonus to the save DC? You can get that by raising your Wisdom score, and even more! You’ll never have enough feats to make this feat worthwhile.
Stunning Irruption (THF): Certainly, you aren’t the kind of person who does “kick in the door” action, but if you do, this feat is just downright exhilarating. It allows a saving throw (a Fortitude save, which scales fast, but the save DC is based on your BAB, which scales just as fast), but it has a nice effect even if the target succeeds on the save. That said, stunning opponents in a surprisingly wide area (20 ft.!) as your opening action is a formidable way to start every combat. In dungeons, this is a must-have; in the open road…not at all, but if you can improvise breaking a door to enter a room, then you’re making this feat even better.
Stunning Pin (US): Pin an opponent, get a free attack with Stunning Fist on top. Pretty decent, but being pinned offers no benefits, like the feat chain that depended on Stunning Fist that gave the opponent a penalty on the save. It’s not bad, per se, but nothing that says must-have, not even “consider it!”
Sundering Strike (THF): As Bull Rush Strike, except you execute the Sunder maneuver. This one is actually pretty useful, since it allows you to deal damage to the weapon AND the target separately, so you can deal damage AND impose the broken condition to the weapon. It only works for weapons, though.
Swift Aid (DR): You can make Aid Another actions as a swift action, but you offer half the bonuses. You need good Intelligence and Combat Expertise for it, though. If you have In Harm’s Way, you can use it to enable the feat, though, so it’s of moderate utility to Damage Reduction builds.
Sword And Pistol (Gun): Corrective feat, but a pretty darn good one. This allows you to wield a melee weapon in one hand and a ranged one in another. 3.5 had a similar feat (Versatile Combatant), but this one applies to any combination of light or one-handed weapons (not just Rapier and Hand Crossbow). It requires Snap Shot, meaning you can also deal Attacks of Opportunity within a 5-ft. range, so you’re pretty covered. A shame Weapon Throwers can’t use this feat.
(Taldan) Duelist: I would have half-expected this to be a feat for a Fencer, but it isn’t because the Falcata is a one-handed weapon and has no special rules (it can’t be finessed). You simply get a better buckler bonus when wielding both weapons. You know, you can simply wield a heavy shield (which grants the SAME bonus but without a feat) and get the bonus with another feat. Honestly, the feat sucks bollocks, at least for a Paladin. The falcata, on the other hand, is AWESOME.
Thunder and Fang (SnB, TWF): Would you believe me that BOTH weapons are martial? In short: the Earth Breaker is a 2-handed weapon that hits like a Greatsword. A Klar is a light spiked shield by another name, except it deals 1d6 points of damage and is considered a one-handed weapon. This feat, if you spend two Weapon Focus feats on it, lets you fight with both weapons at once. It works like Improved Shield Bash for the klar, lets you use the Earth Breaker in one hand, and treats the Klar as a light weapon for purposes of penalties. It requires quite a bit of Strength (Str 15), so you may be hard-pressed to get it. The problem with this feat is that the Earth Breaker is an awesome weapon, but the Klar isn’t an impressive shield as you could get a proper light steel shield and do the same thing with this (and you need Improved Shield Bash to get nearly all Sword & Board-related feats), so all you’re getting is the increased Earth Breaker damage. Disappointing because it shows promise.
Touch of Serenity (US): Just like Stunning Fist, but this effect is somewhat better. You sacrifice all your damage for the ability to negate spellcasting (or attacks) to the target. It can only be resisted with a Will save. However, it lasts for only 1 round, and it has the same limit of uses as Stunning Fist. Aasimar get this feat for free through their racial archetype Tranquil Guardian, in case you’re interested.
Trick Riding (MC): On one hand, you get some cool tricks with mounts, including the ability to negate the damage to your mount twice per round, which is superb. You also automatically execute Ride checks of DC 15 or lower (guide with knees, stay in saddle, fight with combat-trained mount, cover, soft fall, leap or spur mount). On the other hand, you need to wear light armor (or be unarmored). Since it’s not certain whether the requirement applies to one or all three of the tricks, this feat could easily be pretty good or pointless, though if you have 9 ranks in Ride, you pretty much succeed on most checks without even trying.Mounted Skirmisher (MC): Get this. Now. Why? Well, you halve your mount’s movement, but you can do a full attack at the end of that action. You can still charge with it (the multiplied bonus only applies to the first attack, though), so as long as you move less than your mount’s speed. Most mounts move at around 40 ft., so that’s pretty reasonable enough. The ability to do a full attack, with that first attack dealing insane amounts of damage, is completely worthwhile, though. As a Mounted Combatant, you might have enough feats to pull it off.Tripping Strike (Fen, THF, LD): Perhaps the best of the “critical maneuver” feats, this one works like Bull Rush Strike, but it enables a trip instead. You still need to exceed the CMD of the target with your critical confirmation roll, but if you do, it gets a free trip. Fencers will love this because they have enough attack bonus and use high critical threat range weapons, while Two-Handers will have enough Strength and power to make it matter. A must-have for Trip Lockdown builds, particularly since you can THEN stack up an extra attack, making this combination lethal. Note that you can combine a “critical maneuver” with a Critical feat, so pair it up with Staggering Critical or Stunning Critical whenever possible.
Twinned Feint (Fen): Make your feints count by feinting twice.
Two-Handed Thrower (THF, Thr): A bridging feat between these two combat styles. Mostly, it adds some damage to Weapon Throwers, and allows using the Two-Hander’s favorite weapons with Throw Anything. As you can see, since Weapon Throwing is at best a secondary combat style, a Two-Hander can take it and work wonders with two styles. A shame it doesn’t increase the power of Deadly Aim, which would have made it a must-have for Weapon Throwers.
Two-Weapon Feint (Fen, TWF): Worthless. Just…worthless. Really. Think about it: several feats ago, you have the Improved version of this feat, which doesn’t require this feat AT ALL. This feat does exactly the same as the Improved version, except you do a bona-fide Feint rather than duplicating the effect of Greater Feint without having it. At best, this is more for the Fencers that just happen to dabble in TWF and have Greater Feint than to the Two-Weapon combatants that have no feint skills at all (but enough Bluff to pull it off). This is a blunder and it feels like an insult, after seeing just how TIGHT the feat chains are, to see two feats that approach the same situation from different grounds. Begs the question of why other feat chains couldn’t do the same (*coughcoughSword&Boardcoughcough*).
Under and Over (Fen): You must be of Small size and depend on Dexterity to use this ability, but it’s a nice defense. If a target fails a grapple check, you can attempt a counter-trip as an immediate action. Note that there is no specific point that states you can Trip an opponent larger than twice your size, so it’ll only work against Medium creatures, which reduces its effectiveness. If the GM allows you to apply it to larger creatures, it is a fascinating way to bypass one of the problems of Trip AND a counter to Improved Grab. Fencers may have enough Trip bonuses to actually make it worthwhile, even though you get a +2 bonus for this attempt alone.
Underfoot (Fen): You need to be Small size or smaller, and get two bad feats (Dodge and Mobility). You only get a slight increase to Mobility and Acrobatics checks, which you can’t use if you have heavy armor. Pass.
Undersized Mount (MC): Think about it: you can ride a Medium-sized mount. Do I need to explain more? If interpreted correctly, this means you can potentially remain mounted in dungeons, which is the one weakness of the Mounted Combat style! Now you understand why you MUST get this feat?
Vicious Stomp (US, LD): A feat with promise, but falls flat real quick (unless you’re a Monk). If the opponent goes prone (say, by Tripping or through Spinning Throw…for some reason), you get to make an Attack of Opportunity against it, which must be an unarmed attack. The thing is as follows: being an unarmed attack, and you not being a Monk, that means you deal only slight damage unless you focus on being a good Unarmed combatant. Lockdown builds may get some use out of it (particularly since Improved Unarmed Strike is a great way to cover for the problem of reach attacks, provided you don’t think about damage and think about certain disabling moves), but since most of the time you’ll prefer to have them within reach distance (not adjacent to yourself), that means you can’t make that attack. If you somehow make a pretty strong unarmed strike or you have good disabling tactics, AND you haven’t spent your attack of opportunity against the target already, then it’s a decent feat for Lockdown builds. Unarmed builds might just save the need for Greater Trip, but the bonuses to the roll always matter.
Wave Strike (Fen): This feat requires Quick Draw, so it’s best for Fencers who happen to dabble in Weapon Throwing. You can, as a swift action, make a Bluff check to feint against a single opponent when you draw a weapon. Don’t mind about the repercussions to your code (feinting is a viable strategy in combat; so as long as you don’t force the opponent to fight, you can certainly mind the panache), but the mechanics; unless you ALSO have Sneak Attack and the enemy is close for a full attack, this feat really doesn’t work that well. Most likely, unless you delay your turn so that you get someone to attack YOU (hey, letting an opponent fight first has its advantages!), you can’t really exploit this feat. Since it only applies on your FIRST turn of combat, let it sleep with the fishies.
Weapon of the Chosen: Disappointing for you. By the time you can cast spells, you probably ALREADY have a magic weapon, or the ability to enchant one temporarily. Ugh. That said, the ability to reroll a miss chance *can* be good, but it only works for one attack. Again, ugh.
Improved Weapon of the Chosen: Three feats to get the ability to last for one whole turn. You also get your weapon to count as if it had one alignment component. After getting Aura of Faith, you could add Lawful to the weapon property and call it a day. Much better, but not by much honestly.Wheeled Charge (MC): A Local feat, so talk to your DM. This is a must-have if you’re a Mounted Combatant, as it allows you to make Charges from unlikely locations, and thus grant a great measure of flexibility. It also requires two feats you WILL get, so it’s effectively a no-brainer.
Greater Weapon of the Chosen: Got feats to burn? You can pretty much ensure you hit with this feat, since you can roll twice instead of once. Kinda disappointing when you see that the competition has this trait as a core mechanic for its newest edition (aka, "advantage").
Whip Mastery (Fen, LD): Makes you a better whip user, since it actually allows you to treat the whip as a lethal weapon, rather than a quirk. Still can’t threaten with it, though, which leads to…Improved Whip Mastery (Fen, LD): Now you can Lockdown with style! Granted, it’s your natural reach +5 ft., so that means a reach of 10 ft. (exactly as per most reach weapons, but with the advantage of being one-handed, so Lockdown builds can actually wield a shield with it). Also, you can pull off an Indy and grab things with your whip.Greater Whip Mastery (Fen, LD): You can now grapple with your whip, and you don’t drop your weapon on a failed disarm or trip (!!) maneuver. You can deal whip damage rather than unarmed strike damage when grappling, can use it as a net or lasso to restrain movement, can grapple without having two hands free, and take a slighter penalty on Tie Up checks. Since you can also Grapple from a distance, this is far, far better for Lockdown builds who want to add a new trick to their sleeves.Whip Slinger (Thr): You can make attacks of opportunity with slings and double slings. It’s redundant with sling-staffs, as those are already melee weapons. You can ignore the damage from the sling as stated on this feat and instead make Combat Maneuvers such as disarm and trip with it, though, which makes it useful. Sort of a “haha, gotcha” *SMACK* kind of move, but nothing spectacular.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-11-10 at 01:35 AM. Reason: Adding a missing feat; removing racial feats
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- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 5
General Feats – Core Rulebook
*Skill-Related Feats: This includes Acrobatic, Alertness, Animal Affinity (MC), Athletic, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Magical Aptitude, Persuasive, Self-Sufficient and Stealthy. All feats increase the bonus by an additional 2 if you have 10 or more ranks, so they’re strictly better than their 3.5 incarnations (and the collapsed skills means that the bonus applies to more people), but they’re still not as desirable.
Alignment Channel: Expands your Channel Positive Energy to heal or harm outsiders. Works best if used to harm evil outsiders, since that makes your Channel Positive Energy a deadly weapon against them. However, it may not work as intended.
Combat Casting: You gain a +4 on the bonus to cast spells while casting defensively. In 3.5, this feat would have sucked, but given how defensive casting works here, it’s now more useful than before (given that it’s the ONLY way thus far to increase this). You’ll have to be in the middle of battle, so this feat will be of most use to you, but if you must, attempt to cast spells outside of threatened range (and usually BEFORE the battle begins, or else you won’t contribute as much).
Elemental Channel: Same as Alignment Channel, but to outsiders of an elemental subtype. that Elementals are now Outsiders as well, so this allows you to control Elementals (in effect, being the elemental counterpart of Alignment Channel).
Endurance: Gain a bunch of bonuses against exhaustion, forced march, holding your breath, starvation and thirst, hot or cold environments, and suffocation. Eventually, your spells will cover for most of these, so the feat doesn’t really help you that much. Identical to its 3.5 counterpart, in all ways.Diehard: Slightly better now, since the negative hit point range has been extended to your Constitution score, but unless you have a massive Constitution score, it won’t help you that much. You’re staggered and you still take the point of damage for any action. Paladins get better use of this as it effectively gives them an increased pool of hit points, and their use of Lay on Hands can set them once again into combat. Choose if you have feats to spare.Eschew Materials: A spell component pouch solves this, and if you’re grappled or otherwise bound, you either don’t care or have enough CM to break that. Ignore. You really need your divine focus anyways.
Extra Channel: You can get this at 5th level or later, most specifically after your 4th level of Paladin. Normally, since you don’t actually get uses of Channel Energy, you couldn’t choose it, but the feat very specifically says that you get 2 uses of Channel Positive Energy, since you effectively get 4 uses of Lay on Hands that apply specifically to their Channel Positive energy ability. You may not have enough feats to make this worthwhile, but if you do, tie it with Selective Channeling for greater effectiveness.
Extra Lay on Hands: Get two more uses of your safety measure, or one extra use of Channel Positive Energy. Slightly better than Extra Channel since you can use it for whatever matters the most, but you should have enough uses per day of LoH to make it work.
Extra Mercy: You can recover one additional condition with your Lay on Hands. At 18th level , you’ll probably have all the mercies that really matter, so you can skip it. For everything else, there’s scrolls.
Fleet (Fen): If you’re willing to wear light armor, might as well go for it, though the increase in speed is rather bland for a feat.
Great Fortitude: You have formidable saves, and that includes Fortitude. Pass.Improved Great Fortitude: Lets you reroll one Fortitude save per day. Maybe if it were per encounter it would have been useful, but no. Fortitude is the most dangerous of all three, because most physical conditions and death effects hit Fortitude, so if you have quite a lot of feats to spare, you *might* want to consider it.Improved Counterspell: Not the best feat, since you don’t have the necessary spells or spell slots to make this worthwhile, but can work wonders if you choose to counterspell Rangers or Antipaladins. That, though, is so rare that it essentially becomes a pointless task.
Iron Will: You have good Will saves, even if Wisdom is a dump stat. Pass.Improved Iron Will: Same as Improved Great Fortitude. Will saves are the second most dangerous save, because it also has a few deadly conditions.Leadership: Trust me; chances are that you’ll never see this feat in action, so don’t think of having it. However, if it’s available…GO FOR IT! It’s the best feat in both PF and 3.5, bar none; the cohort is another character, but it progresses in a different way than the party. It can cover up ANY hole in your party’s progression. The ultimate feat…which is why you’ll rarely see GMs approving it.
Lightning Reflexes: You have great saves, but Reflex is your poorest. If you lack Dexterity but have lots of feats available, think about it.Improved Lightning Reflexes: Same as Improved Great Fortitude. Reflex saves are the least dangerous save, since it only affects area attacks.Master Craftsman: If you dedicate to craft magic items (and get the Item Creation feats), this is a very good feat since it allows you to craft any item, regardless of whether you have the spell or not. Useless if you craft scrolls or wands, because you want to use your own spells for that. Great if you craft wondrous items, on the other hand.
Nimble Moves: You can move into difficult terrain with ease, but only 5 ft. Not the best feat to have.Acrobatic Steps: As Nimble Moves, but at a respectable 20 ft., which is usually what you move in heavy armor. That’s enough to pursue a target, and actually seek to create ways to make difficult terrain just to trap enemies, but you require too many feats for it to work.Run: Makes you run faster, and gives a slight boost to Acrobatics checks to jump. Pass, since you should let others pursue the target while you get a mount or some other sort of movement and cut them in some other place.
Selective Channeling: This makes Channel Positive Energy discern between friend and foe, but only up to your Charisma modifier. You’ll have a pretty huge Charisma modifier, so that means you could easily devoid all enemy targets from Burst healing, and by 20th level, that means you can heal very reliably.
Skill Focus: Little has changed with this feat from 3.5, except that if you have 10 ranks the bonus increases to +6. The scaling trait is nice, but nothing really spectacular. If you choose to focus on skills like Use Magic Device, though, it becomes spectacular, since it effectively works as if you made it a class skill.
Spell Focus: Few spells of the Paladin class have saving throws, so this feat isn’t as great as you’d think. The most cost-effective school to grant the feat bonus is Enchantment (lots of compulsion spells, boosts about 7 spells), followed by Evocation (which has a few disabling spells; affects up to 5 spells). Never use on divination or illusion, as the Paladin lacks those.Greater Spell Focus: You get a +2 to the save DC of the spells of the same school as Spell Focus. Too much feats for such a meager boost.Spell Penetration: Few spells of the Paladin are affected by spell resistance, and your own penalty to caster level won’t really make this feat worthwhile.Greater Spell Penetration: This is more manageable, but it requires two feats to beat SR only barely. Pass.Toughness: Not a bad feat at all, compared to its 3.5 incarnation. The hit point bonus scales, so it’s almost as if you had a +2 to your Constitution, and with your saves, you could replace one feat for a few points and make Constitution less necessary than before. However, if you’re tight for feats, Constitution is a better reward.
Turn Undead: Hey look, you get the same thing a 3.5 Paladin does! Well, not exactly: Undead get a Will save based on your Charisma modifier (which is good), and intelligent undead can save each round to negate the effect. You can’t destroy undead by these means, so it’s less effective in the end. Remain with your damaging Channel Positive Energy instead.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-05-13 at 12:19 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
May I suggest that the legibility of this guide could be improved by picking a different color scheme? I think that having one gradient would be very clear, e.g. red to purple to blue, or red to yellow to green; but red to brown to purple to green to blue is just confusing.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 6
General Feats – Other Paizo
Additional Traits: If traits are allowed, you generally have access to one or two. This nets you two more traits, which can be interesting, but at the cost of one feat. Most of the time two traits often equal to one feat, so if you choose extraordinarily good traits, then they may subsume the cost of one feat.
Adept Champion (LD): When you use your Paladin’s mark, you can replace your mark damage for an increase to CMB and CMD against the marked target equal to half the bonus. This means ½ your Paladin level on most evil creatures and your Paladin level against evil outsiders, undead and evil dragons. More often than not, the damage is better than the CMB or CMD, but if you’re a Lockdown build of any kind, the added moves make spending 1 turn dealing less damage somewhat worthwhile.
Altitude Affinity: You’re not affected if you’re in any high altitude, such as being at the equivalent of Mt. Everest; that most likely means you can resist the lack of air and the low temperatures, but the feat doesn’t specify. You also can survive better at such altitudes, through a competence bonus to Survival checks. Unless you spend your time in altitudes over 5,000 ft. high, this feat isn’t really worth your time. You also need Endurance.
Amateur Investigator: Be a Factotum! ...Sort of. Mostly, you get a pool of points that renews daily (rather than after each encounter) and you can only apply a d6 bonus to three skills, although one of those skills is really a collection of skills (Knowledge; BTW, the others are Linguistics and Spellcraft). You need good Intelligence, almost the same as Combat Expertise.
Studied Combatant: A very mild bonus, and its duration is based on your Intelligence bonus. You need a lot of Intelligence to make this pay off.Not very good, when there's better ways to get bonuses to damage.Antagonize: Oh look; hate tanking. This is sorta like 3.5’s Goad feat, but requires a check. It requires a standard action (which means you can’t contribute), both are mind-affecting abilities, and the DC can range from roughly achievable to unachievable (it’s not based on CR, but on Hit Dice). The Diplomacy version is a debuff that affects the target for a minute and imposes some minor penalties unless you’re a target, though casters get spell failure which is quite painful; Intimidate is more like the Goad feat, but only for 1 turn and THEN it doesn’t work. You have Diplomacy as a class skill, but not Intimidate. Coincidence, or intended? The lack of requirements makes it a decent choice, but the fact that you can only affect one character hurts, so it’s best when there’s only one creature.
Improved Studied Combatant: Double the bonus, for the cost of three feats! (Or do it with one in 3.5, via Knowledge Devotion. *sigh*)
Arcane Talent: If you’re an elf, half-elf or gnome, you can cast cantrips; only one cantrip, though, and only three times per day. Good to nab Prestidigitation, but not much.
Arcane Vendetta: If you succeed on a Spellcraft check to know someone cast an arcane spell at you, you gain…a +2 bonus to damage rolls. Now, every point of damage counts, but this isn’t really the best way to get it, though it only requires 1 point on Spellcraft. No, it won’t help you against Wizards, which are the most likely arcane spellcasters around, but remember that Magi, Bards and Sorcerers (and Witches, IIRC) are also arcane spellcasters, so you’re not entirely deprived. Dragons also cast arcane spells, just in case.
Believer's Boon: If you have enough Wisdom, this could be a fun trick. The benefit: you can use the 1st level power of a single domain as a 1st level Cleric. The problem? Well, it's only as a 1st level Cleric, and it won't get better than that. Most domains have powers based on cleric level, so you won't get much in terms of duration or power, but you might get enough uses of them to matter. Choose carefully.
Believer's Hands: Everyone can get Lay on Hands, just like you! You...get one more use. Extra Lay on Hands is much, much better. SMH.Betrayer: Uh…why would you choose this feat? It’s evil. Ugh. No, really: you turn your successful Diplomacy check to make a target friendly towards you into a…chance for backstab? A friendly ally is better than a shanked one, IMO.
Big Game Hunter: Mild bonuses against creatures or Large or larger size. Remember that a bonus to attack rolls is a bonus to Combat Maneuver checks, so you get a +1 to attack rolls and CMB, and a +2 to damage. Again, piddling bonuses, though they apply to a pretty large set of monsters.
Blessed Striker: You can, with the benefit of ONE feat, get what Improved Weapon of the Chosen gives you in two. Aura of Faith still makes this irrelevant.
Blighted Critical: Requires 8th level or higher (CL 5th), but you can impose a minor spellblight when casting a touch spell (ranged or otherwise) of any kind. Spellblights are like curses, including their duration. Good minor spellblights are Caster Blank (can’t target the same opponent with a spell unless suppressed), Disassociation (caster can’t use personal spells or targeting itself, unless it’s an area spell) and Ritualistic Obsession (all spells need a somatic component). Paladins don’t have much touch spells or ranged touch spells, and you need to roll a natural 20 to succeed on them, so while the effects are kinda cool, they’re not constant; furthermore, you can’t control the spellblight you use.Greater Blighted Critical: As Blighted Critical, but you can now impose major spellblights. Good ones include Nameless Dread (concentration check or become shaken; the effect worsens to panicked if already frightened, and there’s a chance of the caster going insane), Obsessive Fixation (best for spontaneous spellcasters, since it forces it to cast two spells of the same kind back-to-back and causes them to be dazed), Spell Sap (Fortitude save or become dazed; the save DC is based on the caster’s own CL, which means a potential DC 34 if attempting to cast full-power spells) and Transference Block (can’t cast spells on allies unless it passes a concentration check).Blighted Critical Mastery: Now you can choose which spellblight to impose. Allows for more control, but the chances of landing one are still pretty slim.Bolstered Resilience: A feat you may take only around the last 6 levels, this allows you to take your DR 5/evil and turn it into DR 10/evil against one attack, at the cost of becoming fatigued. Once fatigued, you can’t use it again. Might be useful if you have the Fatigued mercy…oh wait, you can’t use your swift action to self-heal, because it’s an immediate action to pull this off. Oh well…
Boon Companion (MC): Ask your GM if this applies to your special mount divine bond. If it does, your special mount will be stronger than before, which is a pretty nice boon (pun intended).
Butterfly’s Sting (Fen): Excellent move, particularly if you’re a crit-fisher. You forego your own critical hit to have an ally make its own. You can only “store” one critical hit by these means, but what it means is that you can let your buddy Fighter or Barbarian with its x4 weapon and critical modifiers to take advantage of your 15-20 critical threat range, and you still do damage normally while at it. By the way, it’s an automatic critical hit if the target hits. Excellent way to play as a team.
Celestial Obedience: A strange little feat, it requires you to follow an “Empyreal Lord” (for 3.5 players: your choice of Celestial Hebdomad, Talisid and his Companions, or the Court of Stars from Book of Exalted Deeds) as your source of worship. If you do, you have the equivalent of an additional tenet to the Code, but if you break it, you merely lose the benefits until you follow that tenet again (no need to atone or anything). You start up with a mild boon, but as you get to higher levels, you get three additional boons, which are constant unless indicated otherwise. The only problem with this feat is that the boons are unknown unless you have a specific book (Chronicles of the Righteous), so you’re taking a feat of which you know nothing. The boons seem to be good, though, so if you have access to the feat, you can get a whole bunch of good boons.
Channeled Revival: Now this is a pretty unusual feat. As a full-round action, you spend 6 uses of Lay on Hands to heal an ally 5d8+1/CL hit points of damage (average: 22.5 hit points plus your Caster Level), which by all means seems poor. On the other hand, it can be applied to creatures that died no less than 1 round before, and because of the increased negative hit point threshold, it means you have a very good chance of saving someone’s life by doing nothing else. The fun thing is that you use your Channel Positive Energy range for the effect, so that means you can reliably save someone’s life without difficulties. Your choice if you want to spend 6 uses of Lay on Hands for a heal/revive effect or 10 uses of Lay on Hands for a bona-fide Raise Dead spell outside of battle (with the Ultimate Mercy feat); this is what makes it unusual, because you have two feats that overlap, and each has its merits so one doesn’t have an advantage over the other.
Channeled Shield Wall (SnB): This feat wants to make me cry, because it’s similar to 3.5’s Divine Shield, but the latter increased the shield’s bonus to AC equal to your Charisma modifier for a few rounds, while this one forces you to spend 2 uses of Lay on Hands to gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC when wielding a shield; in essence, by the way it behaves, it’s a poor man’s Shield of Faith, but already pre-scaled to +2 bonus. Allies adjacent and wielding shields also gain the bonus, but you don’t always want your allies to be so close to you (invites enemies to use AoE spells on you, which is bad). It has promise, but it’s like someone looked at Divine Shield and thought it was so broken, it needed to be beaten with the nerfbat until it bled, then stabilized. The problem is that it’s a pretty decent feat for a Sword & Boarder, but the benefits far outweigh the losses
Conceal Scent: You need ranks in Stealth and Survival for it, but this reduces the effectiveness of the scent ability. The most important thing is that creatures still know you’re there (just that they need to be closer), but they can’t pinpoint you. If you rely on stealth tactics, then this may be a good feat, but you’re a frontliner, so you expect people to get near you, so consider if it’s useful for you. Scent can be a nasty way to detect people (though nowhere near as bad as blindsight), though.
Conviction: Fluffy feat, but no crunch. Against vampires, your holy symbol is better, but it’s only effective against ONE race in the entire Bestiary. Vampires are even more vulnerable to your Paladin’s mark, so ignore plausibly.
Corsair (Fen): On a campaign that relies fighting constantly on ships, this feat may be useful, particularly because of the initiative bonus. The bonus to damage is, quite frankly, small. Both only work if you’re on a ship (do airships work, if they are allowed in your campaign? Ask your GM), so otherwise this feat is too specific for it to work.
Cosmopolitan: Neither a drink nor a fashion magazine, this feat lets you…learn more languages. Linguistics does the same and adds more bonuses, if you’re interested. Pass.
Deceptive Exchange (Fen): Strange little feat that replaces denying your target’s Dexterity bonus to AC for…giving it an object. The intention is to have the target take an item that harms it, so this feat is best used to give out cursed items. That’s a low blow, and definitely not Code-worthy.
Deepsight: If your race happens to have darkvision, this extends the range, but doesn’t let you see in magical darkness. 60 ft. is enough to matter, so pass.
Desert Dweller: Not exactly Endurance (it grants one of the feat’s bonuses, which stacks with said feat’s bonuses), but specific to the desert. The main benefit of the feat is that you reduce the non-lethal damage dealt by heat conditions by one step (extreme -> severe -> very hot). Again: very specific, though a boon on desert campaigns where heavy armor is a liability. 3.5 players may recognize similar feats in the Sandstorm supplement.
Destructive Dispel: Fun little feat that adds a rider effect to any Dispel Magic or Greater Dispel Magic effect you use. A Paladin can access it as it has access to Dispel Magic, but there’s a more efficient way to use it: targeted Greater Dispel Magic from the Paladin’s Holy Avenger. The end result is being stunned for 1 turn if it fails a Fortitude save (DC based on the spell, so a pretty easy one to get), but being sickened for 1 turn if it saves. Not only do you deny the target its buffs, you also debuff it as well? Fantastic!
Detect Expertise: If you have a decent enough Intelligence, you can use the spell to detect its spellcasting abilities if it fails a Will save (based on your Int). Reworked a bit, it could be an awesome way to boost your own Detect Evil class feature, particularly since you can use it at-will (so it becomes a double-whammy sensor), but the dependence on Intelligence hurts it, since most spellcasters have good Will saves.
Dilettante: Unusual feat, since one of the benefits doesn’t apply to the other. For each Knowledge check, you have one of two benefits: you either get a +2 (non-stacking) bonus to Knowledge checks if you have ranks, or you increase the range of untrained Knowledge checks to any information you can gather from a DC 15 check if you have no ranks. Since this applies to ALL Knowledge checks, it’s better if you’re an erudite or you spend no ranks on Knowledge checks and you desperately need someone who does.
Disorienting Maneuver (Fen): Use Acrobatics to move through an opponent’s space (but not merely its threatened area; its actual square), gain a mild bonus against the opponent until the start of your next turn, which means it works against Attacks of Opportunity. Fun enough, you get a higher bonus on trip checks, which makes this feat somewhat worthwhile. You need a horrible feat and Acrobatics, so Fencers make the best use out of it.
Dispel Synergy: Another maneuver that requires dispelling an ongoing magical effect, and it imposes a penalty to saving throws. This can be big if you have allies that depend on Save-or-Die spells, but also works if you have, say, Dazing Assault and ways to deal attacks of opportunity reliably. Again, best used with the Paladin’s Holy Avenger.
Disposable Weapon: As a Paladin, you won’t risk wielding a fragile weapon that can break from a good hit gone bad just to confirm a critical hit. That’s why you have Bless Weapon as a spell. Pass.
Divine Deception: If you have a high Use Magic Device bonus, you can use this feat to help you use scrolls of Heal or Raise Dead, which is always formidable. Other classes…will use it to emulate one of your class features to activate an item, most likely your entire class to gain the benefits of the Holy Avenger. Useful only if you spend your time boosting the best skill in the game.
Divine Interference: Interesting, but you don’t have the power to pull it off reliably. Thing is, you force a target attacking an ally within 30 ft. to reroll its attack roll, and imposes a penalty based on the spell sacrificed. At most, that means you could sacrifice your 1st level spells (or perhaps your 2nd level spells), but the penalty would be pretty low; it can serve to deny a target its critical hit. If you’re not a tank and your purpose is less to protect your allies and more to defeat your enemies (and you almost always forget you have spells), then this feat is pretty good; if you’re a tank and you need to use this feat, you didn’t do your job right. You need to wait until level 13th to get this feat, though.
Dragonbane Aura: A very specific feat meant for Paladins, this improves your Aura of Courage by increasing its range by 20 ft. and granting a +4 bonus against breath weapons (or higher if your Aura of Courage bonus is higher). However, it only works against dragons. That said, dragons are the toughest enemies in the game, so the benefit is right in the middle of “useful” and “too specific to work”.
Draconic Defender (LD, DR): This feat allows you to increase the AC of any ally within reach, making it better than most “adjacent ally” feats. You grant a natural armor bonus, though, which doesn’t apply to touch attacks or CMD. Most effective if you have Combat Expertise, which is why it’s a feat to consider for Trip Lockdown builds, who have the reach and the tricks to make this tactic worthwhile. Again, it doesn’t make you redirect damage to any place, but it’s a feat to consider for Damage Redirection builds to further protect your allies.
Drugged (Pesh, Misty) Euphoria: You gain a mere +2 bonus on Will saves…if you’re high. You must be addict to a drug to get this feat, and you only gain the benefit if you’re high. Gives a whole new meaning to “hippie Paladin”. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck, though.
Drugged (Pesh, Misty) Healing: You heal when consuming drugs. No, really. If the drug is refined, you heal more. The healing is only 1 hit point, or 5 hit points if refined, so you could get your heal fix by going to a Cleric and let it poke you as many times as you need healing. Bad, but hilarious; as in “Cheech & Chong” hilarious.
Drugged (Pesh, Misty) Rejuvenation: MORE drug-friendly feats? For reals? This one lets you get temporary hit point as a swift action if you get downed to negative hit points, so you can stave off death for 1 round, but you get sickened for an entire day (unless you get your fix). If you’re already sickened, then you’re exhausted instead. That said, you can’t survive instant kill effects by these means, but it can save you from certain death. It also only requires you to be a junkie. Of the “hippie Paladin” feats, this is the one that works the best, particularly if you don’t have Diehard. Note, though, that it’s a swift action, so it interferes with your uses of Lay on Hands, and Lay on Hands is actually better. So much for “hippie Paladin” then…
Dual Enhancement (TWF): For the cost of one use per day, you can enchant both your weapons. The application of enhancement bonuses must be separate, but the application of special qualities applies to both. Remember that this stacks with any existing enhancement, making this a pretty decent boost to damage.
Eldritch Claws: If you have natural weapons, they can (combined with your Aura of Faith) make them potent against devils and lycanthropes, but not against anything else. Only worthwhile if you can exploit multiple natural weapon attacks.
Elemental Focus: Same as Spell Focus, but based off energy type. The Paladin lacks proper elemental damage, and what little has it focuses on Fire, which oftentimes has no saving throw. Pass.Greater Elemental Focus: Same as Greater Spell Focus, but with the properties of Elemental Focus. Figure it out.Endure Pain: Again, another fluffy feat. After surviving ten rounds of torture or more, you gain the ability to dull pain with a Fortitude save, reducing nonlethal damage to half. Few targets will use non-lethal damage against you, and quite frankly, this feat wouldn’t have been better even if it added resilience to pain. It has an odd synergy with Endurance, of all things, which cements its fluffiness.
Esoteric Linguistics: You don't have Linguistics as a class skill, but it allows you to collapse two of its checks for purposes of scrolls. However, you still have to sacrifice a feat slot to get this benefit, which means you MUST have Linguistics for this to be worthwhile. If you do, however, you can get scrolls of Heal active when your party cleric (or equivalent healer, such as an Oracle or Warpriest) goes down.
Experienced Vagabond: Fluffy feat. You gain a piddling bonus to a few social skills and Knowledge (local), plus an added feat of +2 to Perception to avoid ambushes if someone else happens to have this feat. The first effect only applies to people of a city’s underclass, which involve all criminals and vagrants; unless you’re on a mission of proselytizing, your treatment with these people will be “abandon your ways or be arrested/executed” (your flavor of Diplomacy or Intimidate). Pass.
Eyes of Judgment: If you spend 3 rounds studying a creature, you learn its exact alignment, but you can’t do anything else. Lemme save you the time: if you’re a Paladin, and your senses go *BEEP BEEP BEEP*, you know half of its alignment: it’s Evil, time to mark. Otherwise, it’s non-Evil, time to use Diplomacy. Semi-pointless feat…your call if it’s pointless.
Fast Crawl (Thr, Arc, Gun): You can move up to half your speed while prone, or make a 5-ft. step with all its properties. While it may seem like poor, remember that most Gunners and some Archers (and sling Throwers) have greater benefits when fighting prone, so they may consider adding some movement to their preferred fighting “stance”.
Fast Healer: If you happen to have Diehard by some means, this feat is somewhat great. If you can do it through Lay on Hands, it gets slightly better, since it boosts your overall healing. On the other hand, it only heals up to half your Constitution modifier, which is pathetic since that means at most a +1 to healing (why would this require such a large feat chain…?)
Favored Enemy Spellcasting: Slightly better than its 3.5 incarnation, since it applies to everyone. However, it only works if you fight one enemy exclusively and if you cast a lot of spells with save DCs. This makes it incredibly limited; almost hilariously so.
Fearless Aura: How about making everyone in range immune to fear? You may be starved for feats, but granting an immunity to everyone is golden.
Fey Foundling: A fluffy feat, but this one has some decent crunch as well. Let’s dispatch with the fluff things: you get a +2 on saving throws against death effects (you have a decent Fortitude save), and you take 1 point of extra damage from cold iron weapons (but you can still wield your Holy Avenger without problems). So far, so meh. Except for this benefit: you heal 2 points of damage per die of healing when you receive any kind of magical healing. This includes any of the Cure X Wounds line, Breath of Life, and most importantly, any time you use Lay on Hands or gain the benefit of a Channel (Positive) Energy effect, which can take your healing from little to sizeable. At 20th level, that’s 20 hit points in addition to maximized damage, the rough equivalent of a Heal spell at CL 9th cast on yourself. Note, though, that it doesn’t work on Heal because it’s static healing, not dynamic healing. The fringe benefit alone more than compensates.
Field Repair: You would think that this feat allows you to jury-rig repairs, but it actually lets you repair the weapon without the required tools, though also without their raw material cost. The former benefit is subpar, but the latter one is pretty good, particularly if your weapons break a lot. Recall that you need to use spells to repair magic items, so this only works with mundane objects, meaning its benefit only applies for the first few feats, and you get it at 4th level. Hard to consider just how good it can be.
Friendly Switch: Adds some utility to your 5-ft. step or movement by doing the “castling” or “knighting” move of Chess. In other words, you can move into an ally’s space and switch spaces, which is good if you have someone flanked or within reach of a dangerous enemy. It requires virtually nothing, and neither of you provoke attacks of opportunity due to movement. A very sensible feat.
Galley Slave: Another fluffy feat. You gain a bonus on Profession (sailor) checks with very specific ships (galleys, actually), and your FIRST hit each battle gets a +2 to damage rolls. Again: doesn’t deserve a feat, and could have easily been a trait.
Glorious Heat: A feat that was so good, it was nerfed; even then, it’s still decent. When you cast a spell with the [Fire] descriptor, you heal an amount of HP to the ally equal to the level of the spell, and grant it a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls for 1 round (the bonus, not the healing). Paladins get at least one [Fire] descriptor spell each level, and they’re not so bad at all, so any Paladin could benefit. However, the original wording of the feat was that you healed half your level, which was very powerful indeed. Sadly, the developers were scared of a combination of spells (Fire Music + Glorious Heat + any orison spell that dealt any damage other than Fire, so that it was turned into a Fire spell) for unlimited healing that was better than Cure Minor Wounds, so it got nerfed to what it’s now. Even then, it’s a pretty decent feat, despite healing only 4 hit points at best. On the other hand, 2 hit points/spell level would be fair (that’s what the Magic of the Land feat healed in 3.5, just in case, and it wasn’t as specific as this feat).
Greater Channel Smite: Instead of spending two uses of Lay on Hands to deal a bunch of damage against undead once, you can use it to spread damage as a bonus against multiple opponents, which ALSO are undead. You may notice why this isn’t an improvement to the original feat; you can do far more damage against undead with your mark, or by using the smite to deal spread damage, and you consume resources that are more important to you. Again, pass.
Greater Mercy: If you use Lay on Hands on someone who doesn’t need any mercy, you heal an additional 1d6 points of damage. This may happen more than once, but the added healing is a bit subpar. Even if it’s on yourself, it’s kinda subpar.Ultimate Mercy: I…am speechless. You spend nearly ALL your Lay on Hands (10, really, but if you spread them, you can afford it), to…duplicate the effect of a Raise Dead spell! So, it’s two feats and a massive amount of Charisma for the ability to pull a Lazarus on your fallen ally. A Cleric could do this before, but the fact that you can accept a negative level (hurts a bit, yeah) to negate the material component (the always expensive 5,000 gp diamond) makes it superb. Oh, and Raise Dead works a bit differently here; you don’t lose a level, but instead gain two permanent negative levels which…aren’t really that permanent, since they can be removed with the Restoration spell, which…you just happen to have as a 4th level spell! So really, aside from the low hit points, the inability to heal magical diseases and curses and the inability to raise dissected characters, you can raise people from the dead. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad; I’ll chalk it up to “frellin’ awesome” and call it a day. In other words: you get the “Raise Dead” mercy, to an extent.Guided Hand: Sorta like Weapon Finesse, but with the favored weapon of your chosen deity. It still doesn’t improve your damage rolls, and it uses your dump stat (Wisdom) instead. Unless you have a VERY good reason why to pump Wisdom instead of Strength or Dexterity, might as well pass.
Gunslinger (Gun): Yeah, we have a feat that’s named after a class. Can you imagine what the feat “Paladin” would grant? (Certainly a stick you can place in the mud, if you know what I mean.) The benefit it grants is the ability to shoot firearms without provoking attacks of opportunity by shooting into melee, which is a feat any Gunner would love to.
Gunsmithing (Gun): An important feat for Gunners, this feat allows you to craft any firearm (but not enchant them, unless you have the right feat) and its ammunition (save for alchemical cartridges, which require the Craft [alchemy] feat). It’s also necessary to repair broken firearms.
Harrowed: A fluffy feat, but one that gives a large amount of benefits…once per day. See, the +1 bonus on saving throws vs. enchantments isn’t really worth it, but the 1/day effect…well, let’s just say the bad things and then the good ones. The bad: it’s a 1/day bonus, and the bonus is +2. That’s it. The good? Based on the card you draw (yes, you draw a Tarot-like card for it), you gain a +2 bonus on a single attack roll, damage roll, Combat Maneuver check, initiative roll, any one saving throw, any one skill or ability check. It’s only once, and it depends on the ability score tied to the card you draw, but the benefit can range from bleh (Intelligence skill checks) to nice (Initiative checks). Not enough to rescue it from the fluffy heap, but the sheer share of bonuses it grants can be quite staggering.
Heroic Defiance: Another feat based off Diehard, this allows you to stave off the effect of a single condition for 1 round, but only once per day. Normally, this feat would allow a Paladin to heal itself by using Lay on Hands, and then having a Mercy heal the status effect, but…surprise surprise, activating this feat is an immediate action, so you either find a way to use Lay on Hands as a standard action, or cast a spell/use a wand or scroll to heal the condition as a standard action, but not self-heal since immediate actions consume your next turn’s swift action (if used after your turn). This wasn’t entirely well-thought, and with the amount of feats you need to spend on it, it makes it less useful.
Heroic Recovery: Once per day, get a new saving throw against effects that require Fortitude saves; if it’s a poison or a disease, then it counts towards curing the affliction. Pretty straightforward, but the limitation per day (why not 1/day per X character levels?) weakens its potential.
Hermean/Island Blood: A feat you can only take at 1st level, it treats two skills as class skills for you. If it were 3.5, then this would be golden (Intimidate and Use Magic Device, here we come!). Sadly, in PF, this would make a better trait. Also, you get a completely fluffy benefit, as the benefit is roleplay-based (yes, I know; this is a roleplaying game, but it’s also a roleplaying game).
Imperial (Taldan) Conscript: You’re a Paladin, so you most likely aren’t a conscript. The benefits are a +1 on damage rolls when using farm implements (this includes hand axes, picks and scythes), and a +1 to initiative checks when fighting with other conscripts. This is something you give to your followers, not something you choose for yourself.
Imperial (Taldan) Knight: You have two feats that do this better. You get a cohort (yay!), but the race and the class of the cohort is restricted to a human or halfling of a non-aristocratic NPC class (oh, and no Adepts either!). You also get a slight bonus to Initiative checks and your dodge bonus to AC when you’re within 10 ft. of your “squire”. Pass, like a horse overrunning with all those feats that make Overrun a bit more worthwhile.
Imperial (Taldan) Squire: Probably the most useful of the three, but you require someone else with the Mounted Combat feat. In short: you get what the squire from the Imperial Knight feat grants you, except the bonus to initiative is enabled if you are within 50 ft. of the character. Note that the squire gained by means of the Imperial Knight feat automatically gets this feat, so…it’s better for them?
(Iomedaean) Sword Oath: Good grief, why the love for these many fluffy feats!? This feat lets you choose feats as if you were a 4th level Fighter (namely, Weapon Specialization), but ONLY for the Longsword. However, you’re bound to your longsword; wield anything else, and you lose the benefit fo the feat (that means you lose the benefit of getting Weapon Specialization, or the +2 bonus to damage it brings…), unless you cast a spell like Flame Blade or Spiritual Weapon. It’s almost lovely that the Holy Avenger is a longsword, or else the fail would be legendary. By the way: you gain no access to any other feat save for Weapon Specialization. No, really. Well, unless you’re a human and mix Martial Versatility with Impaling Critical…
Learn Ranger Trap: This feat allows anyone to set up a single trap from a Ranger archetype. In short: as a full-round action a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom bonus (remember: Wisdom is probably a dump stat for you, so you use it only once per day), you can set an extraordinary trap, with a DC based on your character level plus your dump stat, and lasting from 1 day to 10 days (based off your character level). Good traps are Blightburn Trap (2d6 fire damage, 1d3 Con and Cha damage), Firework Trap (blinded for 1d4+1 rounds), Limning Trap (creatures within area are visibly outlined and take a -20 penalty on Stealth checks), Smoke Trap (-4 penalty to Str and Dex for 1d4+1 round plus the time spent in smoke, obscured sight), Snare Trap (target gets held in place), Swarm Trap (releases a swarm of bats, rats or spiders), Tar Trap (entangled; can be lit to cause 2d6 fire damage), Tripwire Trap (target goes prone).
Life Lure: Spend 2 uses of Lay on Hands, undead within 30 ft. are fascinated for a good bunch of rounds…but take no damage, and a successful Will save negates the effect. You could just spend those Lay on Hands uses to heal yourself, do area-of-effect healing, or blast all undead into semi-oblivion.
Master Alchemist: A series of bonus related to alchemical items, such as a +2 bonus on the checks proper, and the ability to create more doses, or accelerate the production of these. A rather decent feat, considering that alchemical items early on are pretty good, and some still remain great as levels pass.
Master of the Ledger: Fluffy feat. You gain a +2 to Appraise checks and a single Profession skill, plus a +4 on Sense Motive checks to gain a hunch when dealing with someone of the chosen Profession skill. The redeeming factor, if any, is that you can invest and gain money; the problem is that the hard limit is 100 gp, and the return of the investment is 1/4th of the investment (25 gp). You earn more money on adventuring than this. You also get a +1 bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks with associates of the same market where you invested. This is better if you have access to several markets, where you can invest in lots of them, and gain investments from each. You need somewhere around…say, 100 marketplaces (that means investing in the whole world and several other worlds) to earn a profit that merits retiring from adventuring at all. Again, this is more a fluffy feat than anything else. Note, though, that the chance of success is defined by none other than a coin toss, and that you don’t lose your investment, ever, unless you retire your funds, so you can try each month (provided you can travel the entire world in one month).
Minor Spell Expertise: Turn one of your 1st level spells into a spell-like ability. You can gain access to it as it requires the ability to cast 4th level spells, which you get by 13th level. If a spell is worthwhile to have as part of a spell slot, it’s likely to be worthwhile here as well.
Mounted Blade (MC): Strange to find this as a general feat, rather than a Combat feat. Anyways, you get to hit an adjacent target if you succeed on a charge with the Ride-by Attack feat (meaning, always), though at a -5 penalty. This also works if you use non-traditional travel methods such as brooms of flying. It says “blade”, but there’s no weapon requirement, so go ahead with a Lance and deal triple damage to one target, then double damage to the other. It’s a region-specific feat, though, so you may not have free access to it.
Nature Magic: Get access to a mild amount of Druid orisons, one usable at-will and the other from your choice but 1/day. Not really the best, but if you happen to have Vital Strike, it opens a pretty cool feat chain.
Faerie's Strike: Yes, it's a Combat feat so it should have gone above, but this is the only way you'll have access to it and it makes looking at the chain easier. Anyways: if you have high Wisdom, you can add a Faerie Fire effect to your Vital Strike...as long as the target fails its Will save. It's character level-based, so chances are it might.Necromantic Affinity: A fluffy…hold on a second… Hey, it’s Tomb-Tainted Soul from Libris Mortis! It works even better, as it doesn’t require a non-good alignment and it also offers a bonus to saving throws against a bunch of effects. You’re still damaged by Cure spells, though. Odd to see a feat that’s a strict improvement to its precursor…kudos, Paizo? Still bad for Paladins, who heal with positive energy.
Grasping Strike: (LD) Same as Faerie's Strike, but you can entangle your enemy instead. Uses are limited by your Wisdom modifier (just like Faerie's Strike) and has the same DC, but it's an excellent way to keep someone in check. Almost makes Vital Strike worth it.
Winter's Strike: Same as Faerie's Strike, except you can make your enemy fatigued. If you can take it to exhausted, it can be quite painful.
Noble Scion: Fluffy fea…erm, well, yeah, it’s still a fluffy feat, but one of the scion boons is actually quite good. Let’s go bit by bit: you get a +2 bonus on all Knowledge (nobility) checks (a class skill for you), and Knowledge (nobility) as a class skill (though the wording suggests another Knowledge skill). You then choose one boon from five; Arts gives you a bonus on Perform checks and Perform as a class skill; Lore gives you a +1 bonus on all Knowledge checks in which you have 1 rank; Magic gives you a free language and a +2 bonus on a single Spellcraft check per day; Peace lets you “take 13” on any Wisdom check (Perception, Sense Motive, Survival). The boon we speak about is War, which allows you to use your superb Charisma modifier instead of your Dexterity on your Initiative checks, which is great if you choose to dump Dexterity. Both Peace and War offer nice boons, which works for a feat, but the Scion of War benefit definitely stands above and beyond the rest.
Orator: Turn Linguistics into a one-stop skill for all your social needs. You can't use it to feint, gather information or demoralize, though.
Painful Anchor (LD): This feat is exclusive to a specific archetype of Paladins, notably those who take an oath against Fiends. Normally, the Anchoring aura is a 20-ft. aura that hinders dimensional travel (including teleportation effects) if they fail a Will save, but only if an evil outsider attempts to use it. With this feat, if the evil outsider uses a calling or summoning effect, attempts to teleport (failure or not), or attempts to cast a spell such as Blink, it takes damage of the same impact as an Inflict Critical Wounds spell, except you add your Charisma modifier instead of your class level (4d8+Cha modifier, that is). The damage isn’t resisted at all. The damage is pretty hefty (average of 18 points), and makes fighting against the Paladin harder, as the evil outsider will have to do it solo. Lockdown builds gain a specialty trait against Evil outsiders. If this worked against more creatures, then it’d be a blast; as it stands, it’s just a cool trick, at best.
Parry Spell: If you choose to counterspell, you can turn the reflected spell back into the caster. You can only reflect up to 4th level spells, and it takes two feats, which makes it a bad idea.
Potent Holy Symbol: This feat works in tandem with Channel Positive Energy, so it’s automatically better than Conviction. It still sucks.
Practiced Leadership: If you have the Leadership feat and happen to belong to the same organization as your cohort (or rather; your cohort belongs to the same organization as YOU), your cohort gains a few benefits. Well, mostly the +4 morale bonus on Will saves vs. enchantments. You, on the other hand, can use Teamwork feats without your cohort having them, though your cohort doesn’t gain the benefit unless it actually has the feats (might as well go Inquisitor?). Finally, your cohort gains a special ability based on the organization joined. So, in essence, you spend one of your valuable feats to improve your cohort, which may be already more powerful than you do. Erm…
Prodigy: The missing “skill boosting” feat, but a bit more open since it applies to Craft, Perform and Profession checks). You also get the increase to the skills based on your total ranks. You’ll probably focus on Craft…if you intend to Craft.
Protector’s Strike: One of the better Paladin-specific feats. Instead of gaining the deflection bonus to AC from your mark, you give it to an ally, but only against attacks made by the marked target. It has line of sight range (as far as you can see), so you can protect the weakest link. Since it makes that target have more AC, which makes you a tastier target, which is exactly what you want. Hey, a feat that actually works in your benefit!
Pure Faith: You already have a pretty good bonus on Fortitude saves to get a measly +4 against poisons. If it was downright immunity, or spreading the bonus to poisons and diseases, or immunity to sicken and nausea, then maybe it would have worked. And how exactly does being immune to poisons involves purity of faith? False advertisement!
Quick Channel: Spend FOUR uses of Lay on Hands to use Channel Positive Energy as a move action. Unless you can do wonders with Channel Positive Energy, this isn’t worth your time.
Radiant Charge (MC): Erm…why does this feat looks so awesome, yet sucks so much? If you charge, you expend ALL your uses of Lay on Hands (so useful when you know you’re not going to fight anymore and you can rest afterwards), to deal 1d6 points of damage per LoH use expended. Yes. No “spend one, deal damage equal to your LoH healing”; it’s “spend everything, get lousy damage”. You manage to add your Charisma modifier, but that’s not enough. A Mounted Combatant may get better use out of it, but this feat is an all-or-nothing attempt; you don’t end the battle in that moment, your survival chances grow slimmer.
Reactive Healing: You know how you can use Lay on Hands to heal yourself as a swift action? Make it immediate. This should make any Paladin nearly unkillable. The only reason why it's not any better is because you need another feat to qualify.
Resilient Armor: If you have the Divine Bond class feature for your Armor (i.e. Divine Defender), this provides at most DR 5/adamantine against one blow. The benefit of the feat depends greatly on your defensive setup; if you can get miss chances and high AC, the feat becomes great because it can soften the one blow that manages to land. Note that it says adamantine weapons don't count for purposes of "duration", meaning that if an opponent makes 5 strikes with an adamantine weapon and one bite, the bite will have its damage reduced even if it's the last one.
Reward of Grace (LD): Erm…well, it could work, but… Here’s the thing: you can only use Lay on Hands twice (one on yourself, one on an ally). The sacred bonus to attack rolls lasts for 1 round. The sacred bonus also applies to CMB, so it’s decent…but unless you use it on yourself (or follow a Lockdown build), you won’t get to exploit it as indicated. Somewhat conditional for it to work.
Reward of Life: You heal a slight amount of hit points every time you use Lay on Hands on someone else. The amount is based off your Charisma modifier, so it can reach to be somewhat decent, but rarely enough to make ends meet. You can’t use it on yourself, much less get the bonus when attacking undead. If you have so much Charisma, and your uses of Lay on Hands on others are actually worthwhile, then this feat is a nice bonus. Otherwise, just too contrived to be worthwhile.
Rhetorical Flourish: A great feat for users of Diplomacy, but it requires Bluff and it specifically mentions verbal misdirection; it may not be lying, but it involves being sneaky, so this is within the gray area of the Code. You can use it for a mild bonus to the Diplomacy check (which can be the difference between an indifferent person, a friend, or a helpful ally), or to retry a failed Diplomacy check. This is the kind of feat that requires GM discretion, but if you can roleplay it well, it can help, and the second benefit is certainly essential to any party face.
Ricochet Splash Weapon (Thr): Odd not to see this as a Combat feat, but splash weapons aren’t considered weapons proper anymore. The effect is a bit complex: it requires you to miss the attack roll when using a splash weapon, and that the d8 roll to determine where the flask (or weapon) fell just happens to land on a square occupied by a creature; then, you make another roll to see if the splash weapon deals full damage as if the original target was that creature. As you can see, too contrived for it to work.
Rugged Northerner: Same as Desert Dweller, but for cold conditions.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-10-14 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Adding content from Advanced Class Guide
- Join Date
- Apr 2014
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
I agree with Kurald, it is kind of disorientating seeing so many different colours, especially when I have to look back up to see what colour means what. Simplifiying it would probably help people more and if you need to give more of an opinion on how good/bad/situational it is you can append the comments for it.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 7
Scholar: As any other “skill-boosting” feat, but for two Knowledge skills of your choice. Pretty meh, though you could use them to boost Knowledge (nobility) and Knowledge (religion).
Sea Legs: A +2 bonus to a bunch of physical skills, mostly Strength and Dexterity skills (Acrobatic, Climb and Swim). However, it requires a specific kind of Profession skill, AND it doesn’t stack up like the other skill-boosting feats. Pass.
Secret Signs: 3.5 players, think Disguise Spell, but without the bardic requirement, and only IF you cast spells without verbal or material components. You also gain a bonus on Bluff checks to send secret messages. Pass.
Sin Seer: This feat is exclusive to a specific archetype of Paladins, being those who take an oath against the Undead. The benefit…is that you reclaim the ability to Detect Evil. This is, so far, the only feat that applies as such to the Paladin, but there’s quite a bit of feats that exist to grant archetypes the class features of their original counterparts. To say this concept is bizarre is giving it praise. That said, you get two sensing modes for the cost of a feat.
Skilled Driver: I can’t believe it…they took Vehicle Specialization from d20 Modern! This gives you a bonus on the check to drive a vehicle, which is usually associated to a skill, and it gives a hefty bonus. If you’re the owner of a vehicle, then by all means go for it. The vehicle that you may choose to use is a light chariot, particularly if you’re an Archer as it lets you move twice as fast as your mount, which can be used to propel the vehicle (also, an excuse to get the special mount Divine Bond but none of the Mounted Combat feats, save probably for Mounted Archery).Expert Driver: With your chosen vehicle, you can pull off a few stunts as a move action (letting you attack, maybe, or cast a spell by making a concentration check), and you can reduce the inertia from a forced stop. Some really minor tricks, but useful ones nonetheless.Slow Faller: Alright, guys, this is intentional. This is an intentionally bad joke. You reduce your falling damage by 10 ft., when a Ring of Feather Falling is cheap and easy to get? Monks get the flak for having this as a class feature, and you're wasting a feat for it. Also, it doesn't work with heavy armor, which is what most Paladins use anyways.
Sly Draw (Fen): Replace Bluff checks with Sleight of Hand checks when feinting. A Fencer is most likely to make the change, but some feats still require a decent Bluff check, thus you might prefer staying with Bluff. Both feats are equally dubious, so it’s really your pick if you want to spend one more feat to be just as effective as before.
Small but Deadly (THF, MC): A corrective feat for Small characters, there are two interpretations of it. One (and the unfavorable one), is that you ignore the penalty to Strength when dealing damage IF you have a penalty (that is, your Strength is 9 or lower). The other (and the more favorable one) is that you ignore the penalty to damage rolls from Strength regardless of the actual score (that is, you ignore the -2 penalty to the Strength score, so you’d count as a character of 2 points higher). Speak with your GM to determine which is best, though at best it’ll mean a +1 bonus to damage rolls (or +2 if you wield a two-handed weapon, in occasions). Not enough to merit the choice, though, and it only applies to natural weapons and weapons to which you have the Weapon Focus feat.
Sneaky: Fluffy feat, which increases your Stealth check bonus when someone looks actively for you (that is, when someone looks for you and you make a Stealth check because of it, you get the bonus; you don’t get a retroactive +2 bonus to the target number you rolled when someone actively looks for you); this bonus doubles if hiding within a crowd. You also gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local) checks to find hiding places. Nothing that really benefits you.
Spear Dancer (THF, LD): If you focus on one two-handed reach weapon and you get ranks in Perform (specifically in dancing), this feat adds a dazzle rider effect. Dazzled is a pretty weak condition (-1 attack rolls, -1 on Perception checks) and the effect only lasts for 1 round, but it has no other requirement than hitting. Lockdown builds might appreciate the idea that they can provide a (stacking) penalty to their attacks, particularly when combined with Dazing Assault.
Splash Weapon Mastery: If you favor splash weapons (very few do), you get a few benefits; the Far Shot feat with all of them (-1 range increment penalty instead of -2), you can affect one additional square, and you can adjust the area in which a misfired splash weapon eventually lands (which combines well with Ricochet Splash Weapon). You need to make splash weapons better in order for this to work, and Paladins are not the right class for it.
Splintering Weapon: No idea why this isn’t a Combat feat, but…you can choose to break a weapon made from, say, bone or bronze, and make the target bleed. If the bleed damage was noticeable, then this would have been an appropriate feat, but it only gives 1d4 bleeding damage. The damage is just too poor to make this feat worthwhile. Pass.
Squire: Exactly as the Leadership feat, but with a caveat: it only grants a 1st level cohort, and that cohort is three levels lower than yourself. Furthermore, the cohort has to have proficiency in all martial weapons, which limits your choice of classes to Fighter, Gunslinger, Cavalier, Ranger, Magus, or another Paladin. While somewhat more limited, it still provides another character that can cover for any slights, and you construct it as usual, so it’s still a very powerful feat.
Stalwart: Yet another feat that requires Diehard, but this one is actually quite good. You replace your dodge bonus to AC (and your chance of not being hit at all) for damage reduction which stacks with damage reduction from class features (the DR 5/evil from Aura of Righteousness is gained from a class feature, just in case), but not from sources such as an adamantine full plate. It’s gained pretty early, it’s better if you use Combat Expertise (more “bang” for your buck), but has a hard limit of DR 5/- and can be bypassed entirely if you get your Dexterity bonus to AC completely negated (for example, being feinted; ain’t you glad Sense Motive is a class skill?). Consider it if you happen to have Diehard and Combat Expertise.Improved Stalwart: Gain double the bonus, which makes it decent when fighting defensively, and better when using Combat Expertise, but it limits you to the same bypassing method. You have a hard limit of DR 10/-, which isn’t that bad.Steadfast Personality: Oh look, this one seems familiar... Wait, I was thinking of Steadfast Determination, the one that let you replace one Fortitude save for one Concentration check. Oh, it's Indomitable Soul as a feat! If you want to apply your Charisma modifier twice against mind-affecting effects, this is a pretty decent choice. Closest thing to "be immune to mind-affecting effects", which is effectively the entirety of the Enchantment school and half of the Illusion school, and the fear-related portion of the Necromancy school.
Stoic: You’re immune to fear, and you need Iron Will to get it. Pass.
Strong Comeback: If you get a reroll of any roll save for an attack roll, you get a mild bonus. It’s good if you failed by 2 points but otherwise you can do it reliably, but if it was because of a natural 1 (you would pass on a 2 or higher) or because the check is just too high to pass (even with the +2 bonus), then it’s pointless. It relies on having the right range of bonuses to remain anywhere within success on a 10 or so. Too situational.
Sure Grasp: A very specific feat that lets you roll twice and get the best result…on the Reflex save to avoid falling. Or when climbing. The latter one is actually better, but after a while the double roll will stop being necessary.
Taunt: You can use your Bluff checks to demoralize opponents, without taking size penalties. This is both good (the size penalties can be bothersome, particularly for Small creatures which are the targets of this feat) and bad (a Paladin has neither Bluff nor Intimidate as class skills, and Bluff is a typically unsavory feat for them).
Tenacious Transmutation: Transmutation spells cast by you are harder to dispel, and they last for a small while after being cast. You have few transmutation spells to make this worthy, and only two spells can benefit from Spell Focus (transmutation), so you’re not gonna draw enough power from this feat.
Theurgy: A feat for multiclass characters. It helps arcane spellcasters slightly more than divine spellcasters; divine spellcasters gain a bonus to their CL when they expend a spell of the same level or higher, while arcane spellcasters have most of their spells turned into the equivalents of Flame Strike, dealing half divine damage. Paladins will rarely have enough levels in another class to merit having this feat, though, but it’s here in case you wish to MC into Magus or Sorcerer.
Totem Spirit: A region-specific feat. You get one benefit from seven different clans, all of which usually grant a +2 bonus to a specific skill and an additional benefit. Of those, the Skull Clan is best if you face a lot of undead, and the Wind Clan’s benefit increases your speed, so those are the best.
Trapper’s Setup: If you like to set traps, this feat is great, as it forces the target to suffer a slightly increased effect. Better if combined with Ranger Traps (which you can gain from the Learn Ranger Trap feat).
Ultimate Resolve: Somewhat like Fearless Aura, but for your Aura of Resolve. Instead of granting allies immunities to charm effects, it only makes the aura last even if you fall unconscious. You really use it to get the increased range, which is not enough to make it stand on its own (unlike Fearless Aura).
Uncanny Concentration: Requires Combat Casting, and makes concentration checks easier to make. Again, a Paladin should only cast spells when not engaged in melee, or at a safe distance, so this feat isn’t that attractive.
Undermining Exploit (LD): If you can find ways to create specifically rocky difficult terrain you can set your enemies at, Trip Lockdown builds will appreciate the insight bonus. However, it’s way too specific to work, and it doesn’t work on other forms of difficult terrain, such as those provoked by the Grease or Sleet Storm spells.
Unsanctioned Detection: The benefit is quite good, since it grants a superb bonus to Perception and Sense Motive checks. On its own, it would be an amazing feat…but the drawback is excessive. You lose the ability to use Detect Evil for a whole day. Were it lost for a minute, or even an hour, it’d be an awesome feat; as it stands, the benefit is just too little for it to matter. You see, the bonus lasts only for 1 round, which is what makes this feat so bad. Again: adjust the time required for Detect Evil to recharge, or the duration of the effect, and this feat can raise up a few notches.
Unsanctioned Knowledge: A formidable feat, this is almost like Battle Blessing (and on a hybrid game, it’s complementary). This feat allows you to, if you have enough Intelligence, add spells to your Paladin spell list from four class spell lists: Bard (Freedom of Movement, Good Hope, Greater Invisibility, Haste, Heroism, Hold Monster, Invisibility, Tongues), Cleric (Shield of Faith, Instrument of Agony, Invisibility Purge, Magic Vestment, Divine Power, Holy Smite, Order’s Wrath), Inquisitor (Arcane Sight, Battlemind Link, Coward’s Lament, Greater Brand, Keen Edge, Knock, Rebuke, Stoneskin) and Oracle (see Cleric). As you can see, there’s a whole wealth of good spells you can add, and you get one of each per level. You can only get this feat once, but if you don’t know what to do with those spells, you really aren’t trying.
Urban Forager: Expands your Survival skill to apply in urban terrains. At most, it’s useful to track people better (+2 on the check), find food and lodging, and resist starvation or thirst. Too specific.
(Varisian/Mage’s) Tattoo: If your Paladin wants to have a “gypsy” feel and feels (pun not intended) like wasting two feats, it can choose to specialize in one school and gain a +1 to CL and a cantrip used 3/day. Being a cantrip, you don’t get that much power from it. The best cantrips you can get are Resistance (which you have as a 1st level spell), Dancing Lights (a floating torch, basically) and Mage Hand (you can move objects for as long as you concentrate, as long as the object doesn’t weigh 5 lbs.).
Voice of the Sibyl: Sort of a “skill-boosting” feat, but the bonus is reduced by 1 point and you need to speak in order to gain the bonus. You’d choose this only for the Diplomacy bonus, but Skill Focus (Diplomacy) and Persuasive work better than this.
Wand Dancer: Like Spring Attack, except it applies only to spell-trigger items, like wands. Most useful, roughly, if you use wands to heal, as you can move, heal, and then move again. However, like most Spring Attack-related feats (save for Ride-by Attack), this feat is too expensive for what it offers. Pass.
Warrior Priest: You don’t get domains normally, but the Sacred Servant archetype gets them. The bonus to concentration checks is decent, but the bonus to initiative is better. Not a bad feat, though only one archetype gets to benefit from it.
Word of Healing: You can use your Lay on Hands at a range of 30 ft., but you heal half the amount of damage. That means 1.75 points per die (7 points per 4 dice) on average, or 35 points at 20th level. It’s your choice whether you want some nerfed healing at a distance, or save one feat. More often than not, you’ll want your Lay on Hands uses to apply to yourself, so this feat will be irrelevant.
Since Paladins are spellcasters, by 5th level they can apply any metamagic feat they know to their spells at the moment of preparation. Because they can only reach up to 4th level spells, they won’t be capable of taking advantage of most metamagic feats; this, and the overall effect of the feat, will be evaluated to determine the worthiness of the feat. Note that, at most, a Paladin can take one feat without risking its combat style (did I mention that Paladins are feat-starved? Just in case…)
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Mind the Paladin’s feat slotsThe Paladin gets 10 feats through the course of its life, and being a primarily combat-focused character, it means a good deal of its feats will go to a defined combat style. Please note this when choosing a metamagic feat.
Bouncing Spell: If your spell has no effect on its target (because of SR or a failed saving throw that negates its effect; partial effects still apply and thus aren’t eligible), you can choose another target. Most of the times your spells affect only one kind of creature or have no save, no SR, so the feat isn’t that effective.
Burning Spell: An excellent feat for your Fire spells, though note that you can only apply this benefit to two spells. You can only deal about 2 points of additional damage with it, so consider whether it’s worthwhile to add the extra damage or simply cast the better Fire spells.
Coaxing Spell: You have a good bit of enchantment spells, and this bypasses the immunity to mind-affecting abilities of certain mindless creatures, but most of the enchantment spells with a save DC are higher level. Mostly useful in combination with Compel Hostility, though the Will save will be rather low.
Concussive Spell: Paladins lack sonic damage spells, except Resounding Blow and that’s a 4th level spell. Pass, even if it’s a good ability.
Dazing Spell: A cool feat, but the +3 to spell level makes it all but inaccessible to you (it only affects 1st level spells, and the daze effect lasts only for 1 round. Great for Lockdown builds if you happen to find a Lesser or normal Metamagic Rod of Dazing Spell.
Disruptive Spell: A cheap feat that makes spells harder to cast for spellcasters, though note that this only applies early on. Since the save DC is based on the modified spell’s DC (10 + 2 x actual spell level + Cha modifier, essentially), most spellcasters will bypass it easily. It doesn’t say whether the spell requires a save DC or if it’s inferred, which can make this feat slightly better when placed on a no save, no SR spell.
Echoing Spell: Only works with 1st level spells, but it lets you cast the spell twice in a row. Check which spells are worthwhile at 1st level, and then decide whether you find it’s important to have it accessible at least twice per day to spare a 1st level slot and sacrifice a 4th level one.
Ectoplasmic Spell: This feat allows you to have your spells affect incorporeal creatures. Note, though, that this mostly applies to spells that deal damage, since most other spells work normally (and it’s pointless on, say, Ghostbane Dirge).
Elemental Spell: 3.5 players may remember this feat as Energy Substitution, but here it has a +1 increase to spell level. On the other hand, it allows your Fire spells to deal damage as another type: electricity or acid works wonders, as they’re least resisted.
Empower Spell: You have way too few spells that deal damage or have variables (Cure Light Wounds counts, though, and so does Lesser Restoration). The benefit doesn’t justify the cost, though.
Enlarge Spell: Most of your spells are touch-range, so you’ll get very little benefit from this feat.
Extend Spell: A good deal of your spells last for minutes or rounds, so the effect is good but not by that much. It’s best for hourly or 10-minute-based spells, which can last enough to justify the increase in spell level.
Flaring Spell: Disappointing, considering that it’s a spell that oddly fits the Paladin. First, its “+1 to spell level “covers most of your spells. Second, it affects Fire and Light spells, of which you have a good amount; there’s a good argument for the Paladin’s Fire spells, so consider its worth. The problem? Well, dazzled isn’t exactly the best condition, imposing a weak penalty to attack rolls and Perception checks, and the effect lasts for up to 3 rounds. The problem here is that you can’t escalate that effect. Consider it if you can exploit attack roll penalties, because every point counts; otherwise, save your 4th level spell slots for better spells.
Focused Spell: Uh…you have few spells that affect everyone, and even if the spell level cost is marginal, the amount of spells in which this feat will work are too little to justify.
Heighten Spell: As per 3.5, this spell increases your effective spell level for purposes of DC and spells that ignore other spells (like Globe of Invulnerability). You do better by boosting the spell’s Charisma, though it works wonders with the spells that goad your opponents into fighting.
Intensified Spell: Depends on which spells you have. This is obviously meant for those spells with damage caps to increase their damage, of which the Paladin has a few (ask your GM if the spell works with Cure X Wounds spells, whose healing is based off caster level). The spell level cost isn’t that intensive, and there’s a 2nd level spell that can actually benefit from it (Arrow of Law).
Jinxed Spell: You need two other metamagic feats (you’re considering which of the ones to spend for your one and only metamagic feat…), and it only works if you’re a Halfling with the Halfling Jinx feat. Remember that you need about three more feats to make that feat work? You honestly don’t have the feats to make it work, ever. Even then, the target can pass its saving throw and ignore the effect. Too much of a hassle.
Lingering Spell: Odd little feat. It affects instantaneous spells, but doesn’t affect creatures that were affected by the spell already, and it only grants a pseudo-Fog Cloud spell if it has a visual manifestation. Most of the Paladin’s instantaneous spells are damage spells or healing spells that affect one creature, so their effect won’t really be noticeable.
Maximize Spell: Color me impressed by a Cure Light Wounds that heals 13 points of damage. No, really…
Merciful Spell: Another “no increase to spell level” feat, and it makes your damage spells non-lethal. Good if you want to use attack spells to knock targets unconscious, but most of the time you use your weapon at a -4 to its attack roll for it, which is more reliable. Fires of Entanglement can be a good spell for this feat, though.
Persistent Spell: WHAT!? How does this—oh wait, nevermind. The effect is nice (and not broken as 3.5’s Persistent Spell, thank the gods!), forcing a saving throw reroll the next turn if the target failed the save. By probability, there’s a decent chance that the target fails its save (the same as the first), particularly if the target failed the save by the nick of it. The +2 cost means only 1st and 2nd level spells will benefit from it, but that means Challenge Evil and Compel Hostility can be empowered, which is fair. Almost worth the cost. ALMOST.
Piercing Spell: Increase your spell’s level by 1 to impose a minor penalty to the target’s SR…might as well get Spell Penetration for a more decent increase. Ignore, since you’ll still have problems beating SR even with the feat.
Reach Spell: You can make touch spells become close range spells for a spell level adjustment of +1, which is pretty cool; most of your touch spells are lower level most of the times. Any longer is a waste of spell levels.
Selective Spell: Most of your spells discern between friend and foe, and very few are AoE. The Spellcraft requirement is pretty hefty as well. The +1 spell level adjustment makes those very few spells that enable friendly fire worthwhile, though.
Sickening Spell: Sorta like Flaring Spell, but for a different reason. Sicken is a great condition, and it applies to any spell that happens to deal damage (not just Fire spells). Sadly, the spell level adjustment makes it worthwhile only on your lower-level spells and you still require a saving throw (a forced one if the spell lacks a saving throw, aiming at the usually high Fortitude save), which makes this feat less desirable. A Metamagic Rod makes the choice worthwhile, though.
Silent Spell: You can cast your spell even if gagged. You rarely want to cast spells during battle unless they’re swift-action spells, so keep a Metamagic Rod of Silent Spells nearby if necessary. It’s best on Litany spells, which are almost always verbal component-only.
Still Spell: Same as Silent Spell, but you can use them while bound. Whether you can cast them while paralyzed is debatable.
Threnodic Spell: Allow spells like Compel Hostility to affect any undead, but you can’t use it on living creatures. Sadly, the costs are just too far, and one of the feats is worthless on you because you lack Necromancy spells with save DCs. A Metamagic Rod version, though, is far better because it ignores requirements and allows using it whenever necessary.
Thundering Spell: Deafen isn’t a great condition; at least not one that merits a +2 spell level adjustment, by any means.
Widen Spell: Only affects area spells, and ONLY 1st level spells. Very few 1st level spells merit having their area increased (Bless can be Widened by a Cleric far earlier than you can do, for example).
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-10-14 at 11:43 PM.
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- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 8
Since some races have multiple feats, and some feats overlap within multiple races, the following description involves the best choices for each race and why (along with some necessary and/or honorable mentions).
Aasimar: Their racial feats involve giving them a gift of the divine. While the early feats are somewhat poor, Angelic Wings grants flight speed and Metallic Wings grants you natural attacks, which can be quite good when you have chances of making a full attack. Heavenly Radiance is only good if you’re a pure Aasimar (not one of the variant bloodlines), but only after 7th level for Wandering Star Motes (4th level spell, as Faerie Fire but with a chance of daze each turn) and Sunbeam (7th level spell, 60-ft. line of fire damage and blindness that’s better against Undead). If you choose the special mount divine bond, your special mount can gain the Celestial template via a feat.
Feats: Angel Wings, Angelic Blood, Angelic Flesh, Celestial Servant (MC), Channel Force, Greater Channel Force, Improved Channel Force, Heavenly Radiance, Metallic Wings.
Catfolk: Only 5 feats to work with. Black Cat forces a reroll against an attack, but only once per day. Catfolk Exemplar allows you to qualify for a feat (Aspect of the Beast) that grants you stuff like low-light vision (or darkvision), claws dealing 1d4 damage, jumping without a running leap and a bonus to Survival checks and initiative, alongside their own manifestations such as scent, +10 to their base land speed when charging, running or withdrawing, and increased claw damage. Claw Pounce gives you the chance to make a full attack after a charge (a “pounce”), but only if you have claws (have you chosen the right feats for it?).
Feats: Black Cat, Catfolk Exemplar, Claw Pounce, Feline Grace, Nimble Striker
Changeling: Just two feats, but only one merits mention: Mother’s Gift. You can choose from one of three boons, such as a bonus for claws or AC, but the one that’s distinctive is the spell resistance, which increases based off your character level (there are less ways to increase CL, so spell resistance is harder to defeat).
Feats: Mother’s Gift, Unusual Origin
Dhampir: Six feats, and four of them are related to blood-sucking. Of those, Blood Feaster grants a bonus to damage rolls in conjunction with the bonus to Strength and Constitution checks and the hit points, but you need to spend a while to gain this power (2 rounds, since you need to suck 4 points of damage). Life-Dominant Soul lets you heal from both positive and negative energy, but only half the amount; the feat states you still take damage from Lay on Hands and Channel Positive Energy, but only if they’re used to deal damage to undead (that is, you won’t harm yourself from LoH as a swift action, but another Paladin touching you may harm you, though that’s…debatable at best). Of the bunch, Natural Charmer is the best since you can take 20 on Diplomacy checks…if you spend around 20 minutes trying to convince them to be friendly.
Feats: Blood Drinker, Blood Feaster, Blood Salvage, Diverse Palate, Life-Dominant Soul, Natural Charmer
Drow: The loved/hated dark elves get a whopping 9 feats, but of those, 6 grant spell-like abilities. The starter of this chain, Drow Nobility, is necessary for at least 5 feats, and grants Detect Magic at-will and both Feather Fall and Levitate once per day. The advanced versions advance Darkness to Deeper Darkness and eventually give you all SLAs from the chain at-will, save for Detect Magic which becomes a constant effect. With enough Wisdom (13), you can boost your spell resistance or gain more powerful SLAs such as Dispel Magic or Divine Favor, though by that moment you’re going through five or six feats (remember your feats are still limited), so be wary of getting all of those. Of the remaining three, two aren’t useful to you (you don’t cast spells with the shadow or darkness descriptor, nor summoning spells), but Spider Climb is good for its proper climb speed. Overall, what you get is mostly a bunch of SLAs, of which a few can be counted as good (Dancing Lights for being a ranged torch, Faerie Fire to identify invisible creatures, and those from the Umbral Scion feat), but the investment to get all those powers is absurd.
Feats: Drow Nobility, Greater Drow Nobility, Improved Drow Nobility, Improved Umbral Scion, Noble Spell Resistance, Shadow Caster, Spider Step, Spider Summoner, Umbral Scion
Duergar: The gray dwarves only get two racial feats, but both are quite good, as they’re tied to their powers. Giant Steps makes you faster at the same time you become larger, which is something you’ll definitely look for (particularly since it’s not tied to your own SLAs). Lingering Invisibility lets you remain concealed after, for any reason, your invisibility goes off, but at a rate of 1 round/minute remaining (which can be bad or good; in battle, it’s obviously better). Note that both regular Duergar and psionic Duergar can benefit from these feats, but the psionic Duergar cannot take advantage of Lingering Invisibility on their own as their non-psionic brethren.
Feats: Giant Steps, Lingering Invisibility
Dwarf: Dwarves have a whopping 13 racial feats, plus three that they share with Orcs and Half-Orcs, three they share with Gnomes and one with Elves. Cleave Through will be familiar to 3.5 Players as the Supreme Cleave class feature, allowing you to move 5 ft. and potentially target other people with your Cleave attempt. If you gain enough reach, the line of Goblin Cleaver/Orc Hewer/Giant Killer allows you to turn your Cleave into the equivalent of a Whirlwind Attack against all creatures within one size category, making it particularly formidable to Trip Lockdown builds. Despite being somewhat hidden and the range too short, Stone Sense nets you 10 ft. worth of tremorsense, an alternative sensory capability that lets you detect anything stepping on the ground, which is great to pinpoint invisible creatures
Feats: Breadth of Experience, Brewmaster, Cleave Through (THF, LD), Cloven Helm, Dented Helm, Fight On, Giant Killer (LD), Goblin Cleaver (LD), Hard-Headed, Improved Stonecunning, Ironguts, Ironhide, Ledge Walker, Let Them Come, Orc Hewer (LD), Shatterspell, Steel Soul, Stone-Faced, Stone Sense, Stone Singer, Toxic Recovery, Twin Thunders
Elf: Elves have 11 feats, of which three aren’t unique to them. Archer Paladins have Elven Accuracy (Blind-Fight without being blinded) and Stabbing Shot, which is explained in the Combat feats section above. Elven Battle Training is useful for Fencer Paladins, as they get a free attack of opportunity when using one of the signature Elven weapons, particularly the Rapier.
Feats: Arcane Talent, Attuned to the Wild, Breadth of Experience, Elven Accuracy (Arc), Elven Battle Training (Fen), Guardian of the Wild, Leaf Singer, Light Step, Mage of the Wild, Spirit of the Wild, Stabbing Shot (Arc)
Fetchling: Fetchlings have 8 feats, but most are bound to one feat or to their Shadow Walk racial trait. While Gloom Sight seems ridiculous (you gain darkvision, which is good, but you gain also light sensitivity, which is the ridiculous part), Dark Sight allows you to use any kind of darkness (even Deeper Darkness) to your advantage (despite the 15 ft. range; enough for a Lunging character, but not great for archers or ranged combatants). Shadow Ghost and Shadow Walker directly modify your Shadow Walk SLA, and the ability to turn Shadow Walk into Dimension Door opens up an unusual fighting style (Dimensional Agility, if you’re curious).
Feats: Dark Sight, Gloom Sight (Thr, Arc, Gun), Gloom Strike, Improved Dark Sight (Thr, Arc, Gun), Shadow Ghost, Shadow Walker, Unusual Origin
Gillmen: The only feat they have isn’t really worthwhile. Simple, no?
Feat: Unusual Origin
Gnome: These little buggers have 12 racial feats of their own, plus two that they share (Arcane Talent and Breadth of Experience). None of them are really valuable to Paladins, since they all deal with either their innate magical abilities (most of which are cantrips), or are focused towards other Classes (particularly the mind-bending Bewildering Koan, which is hilariously broken as a Lockdown feat). A notable exception would be Vast Hatred, but only if you find most creatures of a particular type, and you only gain a +1 bonus against them.
Feats: Arcane School Spirit, Arcane Talent, Bewildering Koan, Breadth of Knowledge, Casual Illusionist, Effortless Trickery, Extra Gnome Magic, Expanded Resistance, Gnome Weapon Focus, Great Hatred, Tantrum, Vast Hatred
Goblin: Arguably the pet/joke race of the game (more than Kobolds, which are 3.5’s pet race), Goblins have an unusual set of 8 feats. Of those, three feats are related to fire spells (Fire Hand, Fire Tamer and Flame Heart); the first grants a +1 bonus to attack rolls with any weapon that deals fire damage (this includes the flaming weapon enhancement and, with some consideration, any weapon blessed with the Sun Metal spell), the second grants a paltry bonus on saves vs. fire spells and the third grants fire resistance 5 and an increase to caster level with fire spells (remember the Paladin has at least 4 fire spells). Ankle Biter is pretty close to being a “lethal joke” feat, as it allows countering (as an immediate action) with a bite attack; the damage is pitiful, but it can remain affecting a character if you’re grappled or pinned, and anything that boosts your overall damage also boosts the bite damage (perhaps not Power Attack, but the Paladin’s mark is fair game, and so does Dazing Assault). Tangle Feet is another, where if you make Acrobatics checks successfully, you can potentially deny the opponent its movement unless it remains still until your next turn. Lead from the Back is a pretty funny feat that requires you to be under cover (Tower Shield!) and not threatened, giving a mild but stacking +1 bonus to damage rolls with any weapon. Roll with It, on the other hand, is particularly good, allowing you to turn a single melee attack into a “Bull Rush” attempt, though you need to pass an Acrobatics check for it. Finally, Gunners will like having the Goblin Gunslinger feat, which allows you to use firearms for Medium-sized characters without an attack penalty (thus, equalizing the damage a bit, particularly if you manage to increase in size (as your weapon will also increase in size).
Feats: Ankle Biter, Battle Singer, Burn! Burn! Burn!, Dog Killer Horse Hunter, Fire Hand, Fire Tamer, Flame Heart, Goblin Gunslinger (Gun), Lead from the Back, Letter Fury, Roll with It, Tangle Feet
Grippli: Their only racial feat doesn’t help Paladins that much, though if you find a need to deliver a melee touch attack, you could use your tongue. That can help with healing, as Cure X Wounds spells are based on touch attacks.
Feats: Agile Tongue
Half-Elf: Half-Elves have a whopping 14 feats to their disposal, though three of them are shared. Human Spirit grants you up to 4 additional skill points, but it must be your 1st level feat, making it strictly worse than a similar feat from the Psionics rules. Exile’s Path is meant to represent shunning your heritage, but the main benefit is pretty solid (1/day reroll a save vs. enchantment spells). If you choose the Drow-Blooded and Drow Magic racial traits, Half-Drow Paragon allows you to act as a drow for nearly all purposes, including their racial feats, though it really depends on how many feats you wish to spend to get to the good ones. Sociable is awesome, since you grant a bonus to everyone, which can influence in their ability to aid you on a Diplomacy check through the Aid Another skill, so that +2 to Diplomacy checks could easily become a +10, and with enough Charisma, it can last for the whole minute (note, it also helps on certain feats like Antagonize).
Feats: Arcane Talent, Discerning Eye, Elven Spirit, Exile’s Path, Half-Drow Paragon, Human Spirit, Leaf Singer, Multitalented Mastery, Neither Elf nor Human, Pass for Human, Seen and Unseen, Shared Insight, Shared Manipulation, Sociable
Half-Orc: Probably the king of all racial feats, Half-Orcs have a whopping 28 feats, and more than half of them involve combat. The Deathless Initiate line is explained above (in short: don’t take it). Of the rest: Beast Rider is phenomenal for Mounted Combatants as it grants them dinosaur mounts (not kidding you!), plus the elephant (which is a Huge animal); Ferocious Resolve gives Half-Orcs their Orcish parent’s ferocity ability, Resilient Brute allows you to turn half the critical hit damage into non-lethal damage (up to twice per day, which is something to say), and if you can justify the feat applying to any lawful or good fire god, the Fire God’s Blessing feat effectively gives you fast healing 1 every round (though, most Orc gods are evil). The Surprise Follow-Through line is very interesting as it makes opponents flat-footed against your Cleave attempts (and eventually all opponents hit by Great Cleave are denied their Dexterity bonus against you), which has some synergy with certain Lockdown feats. Tenacious Survivor is a feat that requires quite a few hit points, but can be a potential life-saver if you’re part of an area-healing spell or you have an ally that can provide ranged healing, so as long as it’s hit point damage what killed you. Razortusk, one of the few feats unique to Half-Orcs, grants a bite attack that works great if you specialize in full-attack actions.
Feats: Beast Rider (MC), Blood Vengeance, Brutal Grappler, Deathless Initiate, Deathless Master, Deathless Zealot, Destroyer’s Blessing, Ferocious Resolve, Ferocious Summons, Ferocious Tenacity, Fight On, Fire God’s Blessing, Gore Fiend, Horde Charge, Improved Surprise Follow-Through (THF, LD), Ironguts, Ironhide, Keen Scent, Pass for Human, Razortusk (THF, TWF), Resilient Brute, Smash (THF), Smell Fear, Surprise Follow Through (THF, LD), Sympathetic Rage, Tenacious Survivor, Thrill of the Kill, War Singer.
Halflings: Another race with loads of feats (28 to be exact, but what can you expect of core races?), more than half of them rely on their luck…or their lack of it. Desperate Swing allows you to attack while making a total defense, but only once per day (why not scale based off BAB?), making an otherwise cool ability somewhat pointless. Lucky Halfling allows an ally to reroll a saving throw, but with YOUR bonuses (don’t Paladins get Divine Grace, meaning they’re adding their Charisma to their already formidable saves? Well, except for Reflex, that is, but…); even if once per day, this is a formidable defensive feat.n Risky Striker is Power Attack that SCALES with Power Attack, except the penalty to attack rolls doesn’t increase, but only against Large or larger creatures (really; this is frell’d up!!). If you happen to have the Adaptable Luck racial trait, you can choose the Fortunate One (small) feat chain to get two additional uses and an increase to the Luck bonus, which is pretty nice. If you have the Halfling Jinx racial trait, almost half of the feats apply to it, and allow you to expand its functions: Area Jinx makes it a small AoE effect, Distant Jinx makes it a ranged effect, Bolster Jinx worsens the effect, Sluggish Jinx makes it apply to attack rolls and initiative, and Worst Case Jinx nerfs any buff benefits that rely on a roll (like the temporary hit points granted by the Aid or False Life spells; this also includes ALL Cure X Wounds spells). Finally, Well-Prepared means you can, once per day, determine that you have something that the party needs, but it has to be mundane: however, it can be an alchemical item, or a tool that just happens to provide a bonus (though not, say, the key that opens the door; that’s specifically forbidden by the feat).
Feats: Adaptive Fortune, Arcane Hex, Area Jinx, Blundering Defense, Bolster Jinx, Cautious Fighter, Childlike, Courageous Resolve, Desperate Swing, Distant Jinx, Fascination Jinx, Fortunate One, Halfling Slinger (Thr), Improved Low Blow, Jinx Alchemy, Lucky Halfling, Lucky Healer, Lucky Strike, Malicious Eye, Pass for Human, Risky Striker, Sluggish Jinx, Sure and Fleet, Surprise Strike, Uncanny Defense, Versatile Jinxer, Well-Prepared, Worst Case Jinx
Hobgoblin: This race has only six feats, and most of their feats rely on causing pain to buff others. Taskmaster requires you to have a few ranks in Intimidate to essentially bully a single ally to get a morale bonus to attack rolls, weapon damage rolls and Will saves of +1 for a minute, but at a penalty to AC and skill checks. While this feat may seem counter-productive, it is a prerequisite for a very good feat, that one being Terrorizing Display: this feat is a rider effect to Dazzling Display, meaning you demoralize all opponents within 30 ft. and buff all allies as if you used the earlier feat, making it a phenomenal opener; since the bonus increases to +2 if your ranks at Intimidate are 10 or higher. If you focus on demoralizing opponents and happen to use a whip (or a flail, to be precise), you can extend the duration of the demoralize effect for 1 round, making it a race-exclusive combat style (Terrorizing Display first, then use Demoralizing Lash against most opponents while your allies hit them with their morale bonuses).
Feats: Deafening Explosion, Demoralizing Lash (LD), Focusing Blow, Hobgoblin Discipline, Taskmaster, Terrorizing Display (LD)
Human: Being the “default” race, Humans have a whopping amount of feats, most of which…aren’t half bad, actually. Racial Heritage allows you to get feats from other races, which means that you should consider many of the racial feats of other classes in your build (if you have loads of feats, though). Huntmaster makes your special mount slightly stronger, though not by much (1 level higher). The Defiant Luck feat starts weak (reroll a confirmation roll for a critical hit), but Inexplicable Luck is pretty awesome because the bonus is REALLY good, and you still can apply a +4 bonus on a check once rolled, so you can apply it whenever you fail only for a small range. Surge of Success works wonders for crit-fisher builds, since it makes critical hits grant you bonuses (not to mention natural 20 rolls on saving throws). Dauntless Destiny is also quite interesting, both in fluff and in crunch: you can reroll 1/day a natural 1 on an attack roll or a saving throw, and you get a free Intimidate check against the target of the attack or the creature (your resolve shakes the resolve of the attacker), but it’ll be a bit pointless to use against certain creatures who happen to be immune to fear; one of its prerequisites, Intimidating Confidence, is great for Lockdown builds that happen to land multiple critical hits effectively, and it has great synergy with Dazzling Display. If you have feats to spare, you can make somewhat better use of (Iomedaean) Sword Oath by applying Martial Versatility and whatever feat that applies to a specific weapon to let the latter apply to longswords (and bastard swords, and greatswords, and most heavy blades really).
Feats: Bestow Luck, Critical Versatility, Dauntless Destiny, Defiant Luck, Eclectic, Fast Learner, Fearless Curiosity, Heroic Will, Huntmaster (MC), Improved Improvisation, Improvisation, Inexplicable Luck, Intimidating Confidence, Martial Mastery, Martial Versatility, Racial Heritage, Surge of Success
Ifrit: The first of the elemental-humanoid races has only six feats, all related to fire (evidently). Inner Flame lets you deal 1d6 points of damage (which doesn’t stack with flaming weapons, though) and Blazing Aura lets you do this damage in an area as a free action; note, though, that fire is the energy type that’s easiest to resist. All “elemental scions” have Elemental Jaunt, which allows them to travel to the elemental plane that corresponds their own element: in the case of Ifrit, it involves the Elemental Plane of Fire, and you can withstand the effects of the plane for as long as necessary, but doesn’t return you back to the Material Plane. Fencers may find Blistering Feint a good way to contribute to the battle while dealing damage, though fire is easy to resist.
Feats: Blazing Aura, Blistering Feint (Fen), Elemental Jaunt, Firesight, Inner Flame, Scorching Weapons
Kitsune: The fox shapeshifters have five feats, but one of them is evidently better than the rest: Magical Tail. The other four are related to their shapeshifting abilities: Fox Shape lets you turn into a fox (kinda meh), Realistic Likeness is great if you’re surrounded by humans (or humanoids), Swift Kitsune Shapechanger lets you change between forms as a swift action, and Vulpine Pounce lets you make a pounce (duh!) when you shift into your hybrid form, making it the best of the four (since you can do a full attack with your weapons, not necessarily natural attacks only). Magical Tail, on the other hand, is a feat that improves every single time it’s taken. The cost of choosing all is excessive (8 times), but there are very good spells there such as Invisibility and Displacement, and all spells with save DC are Charisma-based. On the other hand, all of the spells with a save DC are enchantments, so they can be easily resisted.
Feats: Fox Shape, Magical Tail, Realistic Likeness, Swift Kitsune Shapechanger, Vulpine Pounce
Kobold: The definite pet race of 3.5 retains its draconic flavor in Pathfinder with these 13 feats. The starter feat of most of these is Draconic Aspect, which normally grants the scales of one of the chromatic dragons (Black, Blue, Green, Red or White) and resistance to the corresponding element, and which culminate on Draconic Paragon, which grants a fly speed and allows the use of a breath weapon dealing 4d6 damage twice per day (gained through Draconic Breath normally, but you can skip the feat entirely). Redeemed Kobold grants you a +2 on Diplomacy checks with good creatures and a +1 to the save DC of Channel Positive Energy. Scaled Disciple grants a mild bonus to CL, but the main ability is allowing you to qualify for the Dragon Disciple prestige class, which got a mild boost (though you lose BAB and three levels worth of spellcasting plus all Paladin class features, you get ability boosts and the power to transform into a dragon, so your pick). Tail Terror doesn’t just grant a tail slap natural attack; it also grants proficiency with tail attachments, which change the damage of the tail slap, and the damage itself isn’t that bad.
Feats: Draconic Aspect, Draconic Breath, Draconic Glide, Draconic Paragon, Kobold Ambusher, Kobold Confidence, Kobold Sniper, Merciless Magic, Merciless Precision, Mixed Scales, Redeemed Kobold, Scaled Disciple, Tail Terror
Merfolk: The water-specialists only have one racial feat, and it happens to be a Combat feat fitting for Lockdown builds. Sea Hunter allows the character to make a “trip” of sorts, making the target get off-balance and thus denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, not to mention granting all its attackers a +2 bonus to their attack rolls as if they had failed a Swim check. This is important because the penalty is worse than the prone condition, particularly against attackers with precision damage such as sneak attack. This “trip” attempt, however, doesn’t affect creatures with swim speeds (a good deal of aquatic creatures), so it only works against the fools that fight without Freedom of Movement, so while the penalty is rather hefty, the chances of landing the attack are almost nonexistent.
Feats: Sea Hunter
Nagaji: The naga-descended humanoids get only one feat, and it’s a rather nice one…except it’s useless for Paladins, because it involves using poison. Yeah.
Feats: Spit Venom
Orc: Orcs share nearly all their feats with their half-orc progeny, so the only ones discussed here are the ones unique to them. Born Alone grants temporary hit points, but the amount is too little (unless you can get over 30 Constitution, and even then it’s weak), and only when you take an opponent below 0 hit points (or find another way to knock it unconscious with a melee attack), but it has to be a strong opponent. Bullying Blow works a bit like Dreadful Carnage, but can be gained straight from 1st level (and without the need of Furious Focus, which makes it decent to any build and not just Two-Handers or Lockdown builds). Foment the Blood is better if the rest of the party is also comprised of warrior orcs, as it becomes a discerning buff that can give a nasty +10 to damage by spending only 2 uses of Lay on Hands, but only until your next turn. Trap Wrecker is phenomenal, since it allows you to use one of your best resources (damage, naturally) to destroy traps, provided you have a way to find them. Ferocious Action is a super-powered Diehard feat, but you lose more hit points than usual in exchange for having all your actions (which, for a Paladin, means quite a lot). Orc Weapon Expertise is unusual, but it has its utilities for Lockdown builds (Disrupter makes casting spells harder; Trickster adds a +2 bonus to Combat Maneuver checks for one maneuver, but it has to be one that the weapon can perform). Reverse Feint is a cool tactic that allows you to goad an opponent into hitting you (by granting it a +4 bonus on its attack roll) but allowing you to make a single attack, whether it fails or not; however, you’re limited to one action in the first turn (it requires a move action).
Feats: Beast Rider (MC), Blood Vengeance, Born Alone, Brutal Grappler, Bullying Blow, Deathless Initiate, Deathless Master, Deathless Zealot, Destroyer’s Blessing, Ferocious Action, Ferocious Resolve, Ferocious Summons, Ferocious Tenacity, Fight On, Fire God’s Blessing, Gore Fiend, Horde Charge, Improved Surprise Follow-Through (THF, LD), Ironguts, Ironhide, Keen Scent, Orc Weapon Expertise (LD), Resilient Brute, Resolute Rager, Reverse-Feint, Smell Fear, Surprise Follow Through (THF, LD), Sympathetic Rage, Tenacious Survivor, Thrill of the Kill, War Singer.
Oread: The earth-attuned “elemental humanoids” get 7 feats related to movement and senses. Murmurs of Earth grants tremorsense, but you need to spend a move action to activate it, which makes it weak. Oread Burrower grants a burrow speed (which is one of the rarest forms of movement to get), and Oread Earth Glider turns it into Earth Glide, meaning you move as a fish would move in water (full speed naturally, half speed on solid stone). Dwarf-Blooded is a disappointing feat, since it doesn’t grant you the ability to choose Dwarven feats or traits, but rather gives you two racial traits (though stonecunning eventually leads to a better form of Tremorsense, so it’s not entirely a loss). As with other “elemental scions”, they get the ability to Plane Shift into an elemental plane, and they get the worst of them all: the Elemental Plane of Earth can easily leave you trapped and unable to escape.
Feats: Dwarf-Blooded, Echoes of Stone, Elemental Jaunt, Murmurs of Earth, Oread Burrower, Oread Earth Glider, Stony Step
Ratfolk: The rat-people get only three feats, but two of them are pretty good. Burrowing Teeth grants a burrow speed (a rare form of movement to get), and Sharpclaw grants two natural claw attacks, which can be used on their own, or coupled with a manufactured weapon as a secondary natural attack (though only using one claw instead of both).
Feats: Burrowing Teeth, Sharpclaw, Tunnel Rat
Samsaran: A bad race for Paladins also gets one feat, which is disappointing: take 1d4 points of damage, heal the amount of damage lost, and it only applies ONCE per character per day. The Heal skill works better.
Feats: Life’s Blood
Strix: These gargoyle-like race only get one feat, but it’s a decent one provided you get a specific alternate racial trait. The benefit…allow them to reclaim their flight speed. Would you waste one feat for a +2 racial bonus to Bluff, Climb and Diplomacy checks? I thought as much; this is a devious trap.
Feats: Stretched Wings
Suli: The genie-kin humanoids get 2 feats that boost their Elemental Assault, arguably their best trait. Extra Elemental Assault extends the duration of this ability for 2 rounds, while Incremental Elemental Assault allows you to use them when needed, as needed. The second feat is a godsend, since it makes Elemental Assault a force to be reckoned (particularly since you can double up on elemental damage and toy with the target’s vulnerabilities). One of the few racial feats I recommend getting, particularly on a race that’s good with Paladins.
Feats: Extra Elemental Assault, Incremental Elemental Assault
Svirfneblin: What can you expect from deep gnomes? A feat that’s worthless for Paladins, that’s it! You want people to notice you, not to stand like a statue (requiring a high Stealth skill) while doing nothing!
Feats: Stoic Pose
Sylph: The third of the “elemental humanoids” has five feats related to air. Of those, Inner Breath and Wings of Air are definitely the best; the former obviates your need to breathe and the latter grants good flight speed…if you’re wearing no armor or light armor (or Mithral medium armor). Their version of Elemental Jaunt is better, since the Elemental Plane of Air is the least-lethal of the four planes.
Feats: Airy Step, Cloud Gazer, Elemental Jaunt, Inner Breath, Wings of Air (Fen)
Tengu: The raven-related humanoids get seven racial feats. Blood Beak makes their beak attack a bit deadlier (and nets some additional bleeding damage on a critical hit), while Tengu Wings allow you to fly at a pretty early level, but with a limited duration (1 minute per level, and you can’t spread those uses between rounds like with other similar powers). Tengu Raven Form lets you transform into a Large raven-like bird with a decent flight speed and bonuses to Strength, but you’re limited to your natural attacks (which include claws). Long Nose Form is interesting, since for 1 minute per level you can transform into a stronger human (no, really; +2 to Strength) with the scent ability, making it the best of all transformation powers.
Feats: Blood Beak, Carrion Feeder, Long-Nose Form, Scavenger’s Eye, Tengu Raven Form, Tengu Wings
Tiefling: Does our fiend-descended friends get good feats? Certainly, they get 16 feats, so at least one has to be good. Actually, Tieflings get 17, but you probably are using one: Fiendish Heritage, which nets you access to one of the variant Tieflings mentioned in the racial description. Of the remaining, Ancestral Scorn is perfect for Paladins using Intimidate, as it makes Evil outsiders get sickened and potentially nauseated (perfect when using Dreadful Carnage or Cornugon Smash on them!), while Grasping Tail helps you retrieve items faster. The rest will rarely apply to you; Armor of the Pit is the one that you may think of choosing, but even if it’s a +2 to natural armor bonus (which doesn’t apply to CMD), it doesn’t scale and thus it’s too weak to work.
Feats: Ancestral Scorn, Armor of the Pit, Banner of Doom, Blinding Sneak Attack, Expanded Fiendish Resistance, Fiendish Darkness, Fiendish Façade, Fiend Sight, Fury of the Tainted, Grasping Tail, Improved Fiendish Darkness, Improved Fury of the Tainted, Monstrous Mask, Terrifying Mask, Wicked Valor
Undine: the last of the four “elemental humanoids”, they get 6 feats related to the water element, but specifically to their SLA. Amphibious makes them better at water due to their increase in swim speed, which is good in aquatic campaigns. Hydraulic Maneuver can be used to blind or trip opponents, which makes it cool for Lockdown builds (though you’ll need other ways to get the spell), while Triton Portal turns your SLA into a semi-summoning ability (the best option is the Small Water Elemental, and not for very long). If you have Aquatic Ancestry, their version of Elemental Jaunt isn’t that bad. Steam Caster is another feat needed if you’re in an aquatic campaign, as this allows you to use the few Fire spells Paladins cast usable underwater.
Feats: Aquatic Ancestry, Elemental Jaunt, Hydraulic Maneuver, Steam Caster, Triton Portal, Water Skinned
Vanara: the monkey-men get only one feat, and it’s not that good, except as a defense to lockdown builds.
Feats: Tree Hanger
Vishkanya: the yuan-ti wannabes get only one feat, and it’s one that you have to run over with your GM, because it runs on a very thin line. If your GM rules that the feat’s effect doesn’t break your code, then this feat is phenomenal as it redeems one of your racial traits into a very effective disabling tactic, particularly with Lockdown builds. Otherwise, the feat is as worthless as the referred racial trait. 3.5 players may remember that there IS a poison that also remains around the same line as this feat’s property, and that is Drow Spider Poison, which causes similar effects. A venom that staggers your opponent and eventually makes it go unconscious makes for a very useful non-lethal method of disabling targets, and thus it imposes that moral question of whether the Code is absolute or if this is inoffensive enough to be allowed.
Feat: Sleep Venom
Wayang: our last race has also one feat, and its effect is pointless on Paladins who suck at Stealth, so might as well ignore it.
Feat: Shadowy Dash
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-05-14 at 06:01 AM.
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Optimal Feats - Part 9
Style feats are a series of Combat feats with the same requirement: one base “Style” feat, then two additional feats that form a chain. If you have more than one style (debatable if you’re a Paladin, viable if you’re a Fighter or Monk), you can’t gain the benefit of all styles at once unless you change your “stance” (the base Style feat you use) as a swift action. All styles require Improved Unarmed Strike, so it’s most likely that an Unarmed combatant may benefit more from it.
Archon Style: A purely defensive style, this allows you to provide allies a +2 dodge bonus against a single melee attack from an opponent, but you reduce your own AC, until your next turn. In essence, you “goad” people into hitting you, which is less Damage Redirection and more Hate Tanking; odd to see a style like this. Best part is that the bonus applies even if your targets’ move, which is better protection than other similar feats (i.e. Bodyguard). Has some unusual requirements, though.Archon Diversion (DR): You can grant the dodge bonus to AC to your allies as a move action, which is good, but the penalty to AC is reduced, which in this case is bad. On the other hand, you can see Damage Redirection in action here: you can choose to take the hit for one ally, but using your AC and defenses instead of the enemy’s. In exchange, the ally gains an Attack of Opportunity. As you can see, this is pure Damage Redirection, though not equivalent: the opponent hits you, rather than your ally, and in exchange the opponent takes damage, which may be less or more than it dealt, so in a way that damage it dealt was returned back.Archon Justice (DR): Somewhat feat-intensive. Your penalty to AC is gone, so there’s no real motivation to have opponents attack you (unless you combine this feat with Antagonize), but you can make this action as a swift action (meaning you can act). The retaliation effect grows worse, as not just the protected ally, but everyone else gets to make an attack of opportunity. Even with the effective damage increase, the loss of AC penalty (which in this case is bad) and the poor range of this feat make the tactic not as effective as other forms of damage redirection.Boar Style: Your unarmed strikes deal bludgeoning or slashing damage, and once per round you can rend (2d6 bleed damage) if you hit with two unarmed strikes. Pretty decent tactic, particularly since the bleed damage is noticeably good.Boar Ferocity: Your unarmed strikes deal bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage, you get a bonus to Intimidate checks to demoralize opponents, and you can demoralize as part of an attack whenever you rend. 2d6 bleed damage + demoralize can be a pretty nasty combination.Boar Shred: Demoralize as move action, and the bleeding damage further increases each turn. Think about it: 2d6 at first round, then 3d6 every subsequent round, and every time you do this the bleeding damage simply augments, so by 3 rounds those 8d6 points of damage become a menace. Pray the target doesn’t get to heal, though 3d6/turn can still be unnerving.Crane Style: You adjust your penalties when fighting defensively, making them equivalent to Combat Expertise. Furthermore, you gain a +1 dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively or using total defense.Crane Wing: Once per round, you can either gain a +4 bonus to AC against a melee attack, or deflect that attack if you’re using total defense, so as long as you’re not flat-footed and you know you’re being attacked. Good defensive feat, but nothing really spectacular.Crane Riposte: Your penalties when fighting defensively are reduced to -1, so you effectively get Combat Expertise for free (except you don’t get to use this feat to qualify for feats that require CE). The real kicker here is that you can counter-attack after you deflect a blow, so you gain the ability to attack even when doing a total defense.Djinni Style: You need the Elemental Fist for this, so it’ll be a pretty feat-intensive maneuver. You add your Wisdom bonus (a minimum of +2 because of the requirements) when making an Elemental Fist attack, but the attack must deal electricity damage. You also get a bonus against Attacks of Opportunity if you have Elemental Fist attempts left. The damage bonus is probably the best benefit, not to mention that you get an extra use of Elemental Fist.Djinni Spirit: You get another use of Elemental Fist, electricity resistance based on your Base Attack Bonus (20 at 20th level, unless you multiclass into a medium or poor BAB class) that is denied if your Dex bonus to AC is denied, and a deafening rider effect when using Elemental Fist. The electricity resistance is great, but the rider effect is pretty weak.Djinni Spin: Turn your Elemental Fist damage into an area attack. The damage is too weak, and the deafening effect doesn’t really redeem this effect to be worthwhile.Dragon Style: You gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against typical dragon immunities (paralysis, sleep and stun). Furthermore, you can charge or run through difficult terrain, charge past allies, and most specifically, your first attack is treated as if it were an attack with a two-handed weapon for purposes of damage (not for purposes of Power Attack, though).Dragon Ferocity: Now all your attacks have the damage potential of a two-handed weapon (but not when using Power Attack), which is great. Furthermore, you can shaken a target for quite a while if you succeed on a critical hit or Stunning Fist attempt. You can also qualify for Elemental Fist if you lack the bonus to Constitution (and can qualify earlier), but limited to one elemental type until you meet the normal prerequisites.Dragon Roar: You gain an additional Stunning Fist attempt, and you can spend two uses of Stunning Fist to deal unarmed strike damage + shaken on a 15-ft. cone. Your damage is somewhat weak (though remember that you deal 1-1/2 times your Strength, which is a saving grace), but can be increased if you happen to have the Elemental Fist feat. You might want to use this for the shaken effect, but this really isn’t enough to make this feat essential.Earth Child Style: A race-specific style. If you’re a dwarf or gnome, you gain a +2 additional bonus to AC against giants and you add your Wisdom to your unarmed strike damage rolls. Too specific to make this worthwhile.Earth Child Topple: You can trip larger creatures, provided they are giants and up to Huge size. Furthermore, you add our Wisdom modifier to your Trip CMB and to confirmation checks on critical hits against giants. Of those, the trip-enabling feat is the most interesting.Earth Child Binder: An absurd amount of feats let you trip a giant of any size, and make a Stunning Fist as an attack of opportunity with a +4 bonus on the save DC. Giants have good Fortitude saves, so they’ll rarely be stunned, so you’re only in here for the trip-enabler. Way too intensive to work; leave it to Monks.Efreeti Style: As per the Djinni Style feat (replace electricity with fire), except you deal fire damage whether you succeed or fail on the attack roll.Efreeti Stance: As per the Djinni Spirit feat (replace electricity with fire), except you cause the target to catch on fire if it takes Elemental Fist damage (which is almost always, because of the Efreeti Style benefit).Efreeti Touch: As the Dragon Roar benefit, except you consume 2 Elemental Fist attempts instead of Stunning Fist attempts, you don’t get the extra Elemental (or Stunning) Fist attempts, and the target who fails the Reflex save catches on fire. This is just too weak to be worthwhile.Janni Style: Reduces penalties to AC when charging and the attack bonus an opponent gets for flanking by 1.Janni Tempest: Make an attack, gain the benefit of 3.5’s Improved Bull Rush or PF’s Improved Trip (+4 to CMB instead of +2) if you attempt them on the next attack you make before the end of your turn. Note that this is nearly impossible if you attempt to use Bull Rush (unless you have Quick Bull Rush), but it’s completely viable for Trip attempts. Decent way to promote Trip attempts without requiring absurdities as Int 13 or Combat Expertise.Janni Rush: You’re always considered to make a running start when jumping (i.e. take no penalties for not moving 20+ ft.), and if you make a jump and unarmed strike (think charging), you gain the benefit of the Vital Strike feat on that attack. The increase in damage doesn’t really make this feat inviting.Kirin Style: Requires 6 ranks in Knowledge (arcana) and 1 rank in another Knowledge skill. 3.5 players may find it similar to Knowledge Devotion, except defensive in origin: you identify the creature, you gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC and a +2 bonus on all saving throws against it for as long as you remain in this style. The bonus to saves is decent, but not spectacular; on the other hand, you’re not limited to one creature, so you can spend swift actions to build up your defenses.Kirin Strike: +2 insight bonus to identify creatures (the wording here suggests that the Kirin Style only works against one creature, which doesn’t seem to be the case). As a swift action, you can add twice your Intelligence modifier (with a minimum of 2 points of damage) on a successful attack, which doesn’t have to be an unarmed strike, making it great for certain builds (*coughcoughGunnerscoughcough*).Kirin Path: Able to take 10 to identify a creature no matter what makes using the Kirin Style easier, but the secondary benefit seems so-so; if the target of the Kirin Style feat is within your threatened area, you can spend an AoO to essentially circle it (you can move up to 5 ft. x Intelligence modifier, but you must end up in a square threatened by the creature; in most cases, you’re allowed only to circle the target). This movement provokes no attack of opportunity, but unless the target’s threatening range is large enough, this feat doesn’t really do a thing.Kobold Style (LD): If you catch an opponent flat-footed, unaware, or otherwise denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, you gain a +4 bonus to CMB. You need to be of Small size, but the benefit is very good, and all you need is Combat Expertise which means you can reliably get Improved Trip, which makes this style great.Kobold Groundling: If you have a way to deal precision damage, this feat is incredibly good, because it treats prone creatures as if they were flat-footed or otherwise denied their Dex bonus to AC (meaning viable targets for Sneak Attacks). Otherwise…well, not as effective, but you can get the +4 increase to CMB against prone creatures.Kobold Flood: An odd way to phrase it, but you can make a Grapple check to go from ungrappled to “pinned” in one move, provided the enemy is down. Once “pinned”, the target can’t stand unless it beats your Grapple check (which, as you may remember, has a +4 bonus because you deny prone targets their Dex bonus to AC). If your bonuses are high enough, you can keep a target prone for quite a while, taking attacks at a -4 to their AC (because they’re prone) and unable to stand, and because you’re grappling them, you can pin them and disable them entirely.Mantis Style: Requires Stunning Fist. You get an extra use of Stunning Fist and a +2 to its save DC (and if Stunning Fist has a rider effect, that also gets the DC bonus). If you intend to use Stunning Fist, this is a workable improvement, particularly since the requirements are pretty slim.Mantis Wisdom: You gain a +2 on attack rolls when making Stunning Fist attempts, but the important thing is that you’re considered a Monk of half your level for purposes of what rider effects you can tag on to the Stunning Fist feat. That means you can fatigue the target at 8th level and sicken the target for 1 minute at 16th level. Both fatigue and sicken are reasonable conditions to peg the enemy, and they also get the +2 bonus to their save DC. You can also remove any condition you have applied to a target with a standard action and a melee touch attack, if the target happens to give up or something.Mantis Torment: You gain an extra use of Stunning Fist and you can spend 2 uses of Stunning Fist to deliver a combination effect: dazzled and staggered for 1 turn, then fatigued afterwards. While it doesn’t require that many feats, the combined effect is pretty weak, even though fatigue is a pretty sold condition to peg your enemy with.Marid Style: As per the Djinni Style benefit, except replace “electricity” for “cold” and you get a 5-ft. reach increase when using Elemental Fist. The secondary benefit is pretty good, particularly if you have another rider effect alongside it.Marid Spirit: As per Djinni Spirit, except replace fire resistance with cold resistance, and the victim of your Elemental Fist (cold) attack suffers being entangled by ice for 1d4 rounds. This effect reduces movement and penalizes attack rolls and Dexterity, not to mention force concentration checks to cast spells. All in all, a pretty nice rider effect for what seems to be otherwise unremarkable elemental styles.Marid Coldsnap: As per Djinni Spin, except you affect creatures in a 30-ft. line with your unarmed strike + cold damage from Elemental Fist, and they must succeed on a Reflex save or become entangled (and take half damage). Requires a few feats to work, but of all the third-tier elemental genie styles, this one’s the second best.Monkey Style: Some benefits that really won’t apply much to you: add one of your dump stats (Wisdom) to a skill you’ll rarely use (Acrobatics), and you gain the ability to ignore attacks of opportunity on actions that require the Acrobatics skill. As a starter feat, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.Monkey Moves: You add your dump stat (Wisdom) to another skill you won’t use that much (Climb), but you gain a climb speed of sorts, can crawl up to half your speed, you retain your Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing, and you can make a 5-ft. step despite movement when you hit an opponent twice with an unarmed attack. This feat has several benefits, which range from useless for you to moderately decent. Of all, the climb speed is probably the best, but you don’t have enough base movement to make it worthwhile (though 15 ft. of climb speed is quite respectable). You still need to use your Climb skill to climb, though.Monkey Shine: An interesting way to lock your enemy down, it requires making a Stunning Fist. The result isn’t important; what’s important is that you move to the target’s square (or an adjacent square, if the opponent’s space is larger than 5 ft.), giving you bonuses to attack rolls and AC, and the ability to make an attack of opportunity regardless of how it moves, which can be turned into a trip attempt that keeps it in the same square as you do, effectively pinning the target in the same space. As animal styles go, this one isn’t the best, but it’s pretty creative.Panther Style: Fun little tactic that involves you intentionally provoking attacks of opportunity to create striking attempts. You spend your swift action on the attack, but you can activate other feats (such as Dazing Assault or Power Attack) and deal some damage (and impose effects) while at it. You’re limited to an unarmed strike, so unless you can trip as part of an attack, the damage won’t be spectacular.Panther Claw: Now you can deal as many attacks as you want, up to your Wisdom modifier. If aimed correctly, you can almost make a full attack action with better chances of success by intentionally provoking attacks of opportunity. Insanely fun tactic.Panther Parry: The capstone of this style allows you to potentially deny the target its actions (because your retaliatory attack[s] go first), and if for some reason the attack of opportunity goes through, it goes at a penalty. The rider effect isn’t what really matters; the “attack before the AoO” does, and if you manage to land an attack that disables the target, then it’s worthwhile. Recall that just having a +3 to your Wisdom modifier allows you to effectively make a full attack, and a +5 Wisdom modifier with double movement means you can do a much better job than the Spring Attacker, even if limited to unarmed strikes. Perhaps you may not have the best class for the style, but the right feats can still make the style dangerous.Shaitan Style: As Efreeti Style, but replace “fire” with “acid”. All in all, the most promising of the elemental genie styles.Shaitan Skin: As Efreeti Stance, but you gain acid resistance and anyone affected by your acid damage from the Elemental Fist becomes staggered if they fail their Reflex save. Not only Reflex saves aren’t the highest, the stagger condition can be pretty good (even if only for 1 round), making this style one of the best.Shaitan Earthblast: As Djinni Spin, Efreeti Touch and Marid Coldsnap, except the area of effect is a column (wow, they really wanted to have each style have a different range; just in case, it’s 20 ft. high, 5-ft. radius and at any point within 30 ft.), and if the target fails its Reflex save, it becomes staggered. Your save DC might not be the highest, but you definitely have the best condition around, so when it fails, you disable your target quite well. The column area is also pretty good, particularly since it affects flying creatures as well, so this definitely is the best of the elemental genie style finishers.Snake Style: +2 on Sense Motive checks (a good bonus), and you can spend an immediate action to make a Sense Motive check to negate one melee or ranged attack. Note that it says “touch AC”, so it can also refer to spells and SLAs, and so as long as you get Improved Unarmed Strike and spend a few skill points (well, just one, because Sense Motive is one of your best skills), you can effectively negate one attack per round. This is phenomenally good, twice as much if the attack you evade is a spell like Enervation or Disintegrate. Oh, and you deal piercing damage with your attacks. Nice!Snake Sidewind: +4 bonus to CMD against Trips (good), the same bonus on Acrobatics checks (eh) and saving throws against falling prone (cool!). You can use your Sense Motive check to confirm any critical threat (!!) with an unarmed strike (bummer…), and if you score a hit, you can spend a 5-ft. step to move. All in all, an average feat, since the boons aren’t that great.Snake Fang: Interesting move: if an opponent misses, it provokes an attack of opportunity, but you can make an unarmed strike. So far, so good; however, you can spend an immediate action to deliver a second attack against the same opponent, no questions asked. This goes from “good” to “great” in my book, even though the damage is probably lousy (remember: you’re looking for the rider effects you can stack to unarmed strikes).Snapping Turtle Style: You gain a +1 shield bonus to AC if you wield no shield…or anything on the other hand. The bonus provided is too little to be good.Snapping Turtle Clutch: You effectively gain a +1 to your touch AC (the shield bonus applies to your touch AC), which also applies to your CMD. Furthermore, you can counter-grapple as an immediate action if someone fails an attack against you.Snapping Turtle Shell: Gain the same shield bonus (which should also apply to your touch AC and CMD) as a heavy shield, and critical hits are harder to confirm (-4 penalty to the roll). Mostly a defensive measure. Again, a +2 to touch AC is difficult to get, but the amount of feats you need for it really doesn’t merit getting all of them.Tiger Style: +2 to CMD against bull rush, overrun and trip, your unarmed strikes hit like slashing weapons, and you deal 1d4 bleed damage when you score a critical hit. Often times, these fighting styles that change your unarmed strike damage type are promising, but this one doesn’t start very well.Tiger Claws: As a full-round action with your hands free, you effectively make unarmed strikes work as per natural attacks (2 attacks at the highest BAB, and you roll both “claws’” damage separately), not to mention that you can add half your Strength damage if you happen to have (and use) Power Attack to one of the blows. Finally, you get a free bull rush maneuver at a +2 bonus, though you can’t move. A decent feat when you need someone pushed away, but you don’t have enough damage to make this feat really matter.Tiger Pounce (THF): Hard to say what I feel about this feat, but it’s the closest 3.5 players will have to Shock Trooper’s Heedless Charge. You reduce your AC instead of your attack rolls with Power Attack, meaning you have better chances to hit (and be hit in retaliation). Also, you can move up to half your speed if you happen to hit with an unarmed strike or made a combat maneuver during the current turn or the earlier turn. Note that in both occasions, the reference to unarmed strikes applies only once (as the effect that enables your swift action movement); if you make an unarmed strike for some reason, or combine one of your attacks with, say, Bull Rush or Trip, you can make a semi-pounce (move then attack) on one turn, which is formidable for Two-Handers. As usual, these capstones never disappoint.Wolf Style (LD): Requires Knowledge (nature), which may eat your few skill points, but if you do, this is like combining Stand Still with Trip. Do enough damage with your unarmed strikes, and keep an enemy completely locked down.Wolf Trip (LD): A free bonus to Trip checks (good), and the main benefit is essentially a free, limited Reposition for free alongside your trip. Note that it says adjacent to you, so it can also work as a free Drag. Not so bad, actually, but the problem is that it only works with Unarmed attacks, which are often non-reach based.Wolf Savage: The effects of “disfigurement” aren’t clear, but these may involve (since it works like Bestow Curse) as a -6 penalty to Charisma, which can be REALLY bad to some opponents (anyone who uses SLAs, actually).Talk to your GM on how exactly this works, since otherwise this is a free, extraordinary, Bestow Curse effect with a better saving throw, which makes this a really ridiculous feat.
The following feats require speaking with your party, since their effects rely on at least two creatures having the same feat. Some classes (like the Inquisitor or Cavalier) have ways to enable those, but for the most part they rely on coordinating feat choices. There’s two Paladin archetypes (Holy Guide and Holy Tactician) that get Teamwork Feats as bonus feats, so they may benefit greatly from them (not to mention that they also have ways to project the feats to their allies)
Allied Spellcaster: A bit more decent than Spell Penetration because you can grant this benefit to a spellcaster you’re currently protecting, but nothing really mind-blowing in order for you to take. On the other hand, if you happen to hang out with a Cleric or Inquisitor, you can double-down on spells to gain the equivalent of Greater Spell Penetration with a free +1 to CL, which makes this worthwhile. In fact, Inquisitors will probably choose this feat as part of their free Teamwork feats, so you can make this feat work.
Back to Back: Deny the target’s attack bonus when they flank you, but they still get to make precision damage against you. Not very good.Improved Back to Back: Erm…essentially, you spend one of your valuable swift actions to provide an ally with this feat (and the other one, mind you) a +2 bonus to their AC against anyone who flanks them (meaning: they get a +4 to AC, because they already have Back to Back). Likewise, you can be sure that your ally will waste its valuable swift action to provide the same bonus to you. You STILL are vulnerable to precision damage, and it’s two feats rather than one. PassBroken Wing Gambit (Fen, DR): Another goady tactic, and it requires ranks in Bluff which you might lack. The benefit is that it’s a free action, so you can use it as many times as you desire, and the goad involves granting the opponent a bonus to attack and damage rolls. The catch is that, while it grants an attack of opportunity, it only grants it to allies that also happen to have this feat. Rogues, Ninja and Inquisitors will probably LOVE this feat, though, since they’re most likely to flank you and have the Teamwork feat necessary to exploit it. It also works to an extent as Damage Redirection because you probably can tank the hit instead of the more fragile Rogue, Ninja or Inquisitor, and that character has a better chance to return more damage than what the opponent deals you, making it a “favorable” damage return.
Wounded Paw Gambit: Same as Broken Wing,Gambit, but it grants a ranged attack instead, although it specifically applies to Broken Wing Gambit. Slightly better because of that; you can grant attacks to many allies at a distance.Brutal Grappler: Already mentioned in the Racial feats section, but just to resume: a feat only for Orcs and Half-Orcs specialized in grappling, and you require to have another Orc (or Half-Orc) with the same feat grappling with you (alternatively; you grappling with them). The benefit is a free Aid Another bonus and you can damage the opponent in your turn (or grant your ally the ability to damage it on its turn). Best as a follower feat than a player feat, but it has its uses.
Cavalry Formation (MC): If you’re playing in a campaign with lots of Mounted combatants, then this feat has merit, but more often than not YOU are the only Mounted combatant. If you’re part of the Cavalry (that is, you hang with a lot of guys with mounts, not necessarily BE a part of an army’s Cavalry), that means you can charge at-will and without remorse. Way too specific to work.
Combat Medic: Bad feat. Real bad feat. You can only offer first aid, treat wounds of caltrops or remove poison from an ally with this feat; it doesn’t apply to everyone else. Honestly, this is a badly thought feat, since removing the teamwork restriction still doesn’t make it attractive.
Coordinated Charge (MC): You’ll rarely see this work, but if you build up to it (and your allies do as well), you can zero in on a creature and immediately set flanking opportunities or deal overpowering damage. This is a proper teamwork feat, but it involves careful preparation. Evidently, Mounted combatants will probably exploit this feat to its fullest expression, if they get enough feats, because their mount’s movement and the high damage you can draw out from a charge makes you excellent as a follower.
Coordinated Defense: +2 to CMD is something you can get from other feats without problems. Skip.
Coordinated Maneuvers: +2 to CMB is somewhat decent, but you need to be adjacent to an ally to make it work. Not even dedicated Lockdown builds will have that, because they’ll rarely be adjacent to an ally with said feat when they depend on reach.
Coordinated Shot (Arc, Thr, Gun): Gain a mild boost to attack rolls if you have an ally threatening an opponent and not providing cover. The bonus is really mild, since the best bonus (+2) requires flanking, and you can get better with two feats.
Distracting Charge (MC, THF): You'll probably grant this benefit to an ally rather than have an ally grant it to you. Mounted combatants thrive on charges, so they activate it naturally (making your uber-charge into a buff effect). Two-Handers, on the other hand (lawl!), prefer charging if they want to close towards the enemy or use Bull Rush, so they can also activate the feat reliably. if an ally grants you the bonus, Archers and Gunners can benefit nicely.
Duck and Cover (Arc, Gun): The benefit is rather nice, but you fall prone. Unless you’re an Archer or a Gunner, the last you want is to fall prone, because it ruins a lot of your strategies. Furthermore, it’s likely that no ally of yours will wield a shield to provide you with the bonus to ranged attacks; most likely, YOU will be the one that provides them with a bonus (and, sadly enough, you may have realized that shields aren’t the best tools of a Paladin…)
Improved Duck and Cover: This is an odd boost to a feat. I take your ally takes a quarter of your damage? I mean, you're already forcing a Reflex save for half damage, and your ally probably succeeded, and now your ally is taking half of half the damage (ergo, a quarter) for you? I...erm...eh... No way. Mind. Blown.Enfilading Fire (Thr, Arc, Gun): You gain the flanking bonuses to attack rolls, but you aren’t enabled to do precision damage, when using this feat. You also need allies with the same feat (meaning allies that get the feat AND are melee combatants, meaning they’ll never gain the benefit of this feat) for a poor bonus. Bleh.
Ensemble: You aren’t a performer, but in case you’re doing Performance combat…it doesn’t apply to you. Just added because…well, the clarification is necessary!
Escape Route: Requires allies with this feat, and what you gain is the ability to deny opponents their AoO’s if you move away and the opponent happens to be near an ally. The only reason you should take this is if your allies need to make a retreat, so you can die a glorious and honorable death. Again: why a teamwork feat, eludes me.
Feint Partner (Fen): Probably the only reason why you’d take the Improved Feint feat anyways. Move, attack, and your Rogue ally gets to make a full attack with one attack dealing its SA damage…Improved Feint Partner (Fen, LD): …or for this, as you can have your ally help you with Lockdown builds. Or, you can grant your ally its own AoO, potentially with Sneak Attack enabled.Improved Spell Sharing (MC): Now you don't need to have your special mount near you in order to gain the benefits of the same spell. Animal companions and eidolons might get more use of it, but the idea is that you're always mounted (or the mount isn't with you), so chances are this feat will be useless. In the rare case your mount can fight independently from you, then it becomes...mildly useful.
Intercept Charge: A useful feat to protect an ally from pounce, and since the enemy will end in your spot, it means you can make a full attack next turn! Might seem a bit disappointing when compared to Cometary Collision from 3.5, but the latter required a ready action while this one requires spending an immediate action.
Lookout: Better feat than you may think. Get an ally with immense Perception bonuses, and be nearby. You’ll never be surprised, and in the off-chance that you actually detect the ambush, you and your ally are enabled full actions. Denying ambushes and potentially ending the battle in a surprise round is phenomenal, and you need no requirements for it (and it’s only one feat).
Outflank: The increase to attack bonus also increases CMB, so Lockdown builds may like this. On the other hand, the secondary benefit (provoke AoO on a successful critical hit) is great both for you and for your ally; you can lock the opponent down or deliver a solid blow, your ally probably gains SA and other precision bonuses against it.
Pack Attack: A rather meh feat, but this allows you to set a flanking opportunity. A shame it doesn’t work with Coordinated Charge.
Paired Opportunists: The key benefit (+4 on AoO) is rather meh, but the secondary opportunity is formidable if your ally can set up AoO of their own, as you can partake from these. Lockdown builds will have to refine their strategy to have someone nearby, but the bonus to the AoO attack roll and the set-ups make it worthwhile.
Precise Strike: Oh look; you get Sneak Attack! Well, not exactly SA, but the closest thing to it. The 1d6 damage may seem weak, but remember your ally also gets the benefit, and most likely you’re increasing the damage potential of your Rogue or Ninja (or Inquisitor) ally with it, and it applies with every hit you and your ally make, so it’s better than it seems.
Seize the Moment (LD): Fun fact – this grants the same benefit as Paired Opportunists, but you don’t need to be paired. If your ally is a crit-fisher, and you’re a Lockdown build, this feat is probably better.
Shake it Off: You already have great saves, so this mostly will help with your Reflex saves…but you’re obviously painting a HUGE bull’s-eye by being all together, so the benefits doesn’t outpace the limitations.
Share Healing (MC): If you receive a healing spell and you're mounted, you can divide the healing. Fairly decent if you get overhealed, but it doesn't work with Channel Positive Energy or Lay on Hands, which makes it a huge loss.
Shield Wall (SnB, Arc, Gun): If you happen to be a Sword & Boarder and your ally is a Shield Fighter (or Tower Shield Fighter!), then this feat is pretty good…well, sorta good. Since you get an increase to your shield bonus, that means all of those feats that depend on shield bonuses have their power increased, and you most likely are providing those benefits to your ally. With a TSF, you can benefit whenever he or she uses cover. An Archer or a Gunner can use a Tower Shield Fighter as cover while you deliver a rain of death and devastation with your attacks. Situational, yes, but fun.
Shielded Caster (SnB): It’ll be odd to see a fellow caster with a shield, but otherwise this is mostly like Combat Casting. A Sword & Boarder *might* be friendlier with a spellcaster if it also has this feat, because the shield bonus increases its Concentration checks AND it also halves the effect of the Disruptive feat, which means you probably allow your spellcaster ally to cast with impunity (and you also can use your LoH to heal them if necessary).
Stealth Synergy: You’re not avid in Stealth, and you’ll have loads of benefits, but it makes you worry little about the Stealth skill. Still, you’d rather be the distraction than one of the attackers, anyways.
Swap Places: Look at Friendly Switch. This is exactly the same feat. Why would you get a feat that requires SOMEONE ELSE getting it? Perhaps so that the ally does that move for you, but you have to spend your precious immediate action on it. Ignore.
Improved Swap Places: Maybe for this? Your ally can make an impromptu Bull Rush to move into your space, and creatures of one size category larger than you can move into your space. Still kinda bland.Tandem Trip (LD): Beautiful for Trip Lockdown builds, since you want your allies to be near the opponents they want to defeat. Pull this off, and you can increase your chances of a successful trip. You can also make your allies slightly better at tripping.
Target of Opportunity (Thr, Arc, Gun): One of the few feats that grants bonafide attacks of opportunity with ranged weapons, with a better range than Snap Shot to boot.
Tribe Mentality: Gets better with Aura of Righteousness, because while you’re immune to ALL compulsion effects, your allies will appreciate the +4 bonus you provide them twice. That said: you could just make them immune with Magic Circle against [Alignment] and save several feats.
Wall of Flesh: Requires you to be small, and all it provides is…a +1 bonus to CMD, and makes Large opponents able to affect you. Bleh.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-12-21 at 12:20 AM. Reason: Adding the Wolf Style from Advanced Class Guide
- Join Date
- May 2009
Optimal Feats - Part 10
While it may seem odd that Paladins would attempt to dabble on psionics, some of the options given are pretty decent. If your campaign allows psionics, you may want to consider these feats. Note that you need Wild Talent or a psionic race to access these feats, so consider carefully whether they’re valuable to you or not. For the most part, most 3.5 players will recognize these feats and see that they’re better.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Psionic Focus and PathfinderIf you’ve been reading, you’ll notice that Concentration is no longer a class skill. 3.5 players may remember that becoming psionically focused required a Concentration check, meaning that you couldn’t pass most feats because you couldn’t get psionically focused. When the psionic rules were trespassed into PF, the developers (not Paizo, BTW; the psionic rules were outsourced, so to speak) chose to allow any psionic character to automatically focus by making a full-round action, meaning you don’t need to spend points on it (win!).
Aligned Attack: Pointless once you reach Aura of Faith, but it still has its uses. If you expend your psionic focus, you deal 2d6 points of damage on one attack, of the same alignment as your weapon; in essence, you treat your weapon as if it had the axiomatic, anarchic, holy or unholy property for one attack, and it happens to stack with it.
Autonomous: The “skill-boosting” feat for Autohypnosis and Knowledge (psionics). While resisting fear is pointless for you, the ability to make poison checks better (with your Fortitude save, it probably means “you succeed except for natural 1”), and specifically become stable and/or negate the damage from dying (effectively making you ignore the staggered condition), so Autohypnosis is a pretty good skill to have.
Deadly Throw (Thr): Ignore Strength altogether by replacing it with the much-higher Dexterity bonus, but only within 30 ft. (Hawkeye increases this). That said, you’ll rarely be farther than 30 ft. (Point Blank Shot and all), so the damage replacement allows you to save on ability scores.
Focused Sunder: Ignore half of the object’s hardness when sundering a weapon, a door or a wall, but you need to expend your psionic focus. Unless you’re really focused into sundering, ignore this feat.
Ghost Attack: Deal 3/4ths of your full damage with a magic weapon while psionically focused, or you can deal full damage on a single blow if you expend it. Ghost Touch is still a cheaper and more effective choice, IMO.
Hawkeye (Thr, Arc, Gun): The Perception bonuses are decent, but you’re really here for the increase in “precision range” (think Point-Blank Shot, Sneak Attack and so on), which grows to a respectable 15 ft. If you choose to spend ranks in Perception, then the range increases to a whopping 60 ft., which is just dandy. Archers will love this feat, while Weapon Throwers are fine with their range and Gunners will have difficulties considering if this feat is worth their while (as it doesn’t affect their “touch attack range”). Did I mention Hawkeye doesn’t require psionic potential!?
Inquisitor: You gain a +2 enhancement bonus on Sense Motive checks to oppose Bluff if you’re psionically focused, or you can expend it to gain a +10 bonus for a single Sense Motive check. If you have 10 ranks in Perception, you can deny the opponent its bonus from Glibness by spending your psionic focus (as the bonus equal the target’s bonus from the spell, in any case). With a rather easy way to recharge your psionic focus, this feat is pretty nice.
Intimidating Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): Sorta like Cornugon Smash, but for ranged attacks. The only problem is that you need to spend a standard action using this feat, and there’s no way to spend your psionic focus to make it faster. Kind of a shame that this feat, being pretty nice, can’t be exploited any further.Staggering Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): I stand corrected. If you can deliver another way to shaken the target, this feat is somewhat nice, since it cripples your target into a single action. Same DC as Intimidating Shot, though.Crippling Assault (Thr, Arc, Gun): This feat cripples you more than your target. You need to have the opponent already crippled, but if you do, you paralyze the target. The problem, though, is that you need to jump through many hurdles, only to require a saving throw against FORTITUDE, which is the highest saving throw of many monsters and creatures, and many others are immune to paralysis. Against staggered or dazed humanoids, though, this feat is pure gold.Intuitive Fighting: You make your dump stat (Wisdom) less of a dump stat, but only as long as you keep your psionic focus and only for attack rolls. Pass, unless you really can make Wisdom a stat not to be dumped.
Intuitive Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): Definitely NOT as Intuitive Fighting. This allows you to ADD your Wisdom modifier to damage, so it makes it less of a dump stat, but the damage is treated as precision damage and you must be within good range (Hawkeye works here, BTW). It works only for one attack, though.Greater Intuitive Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): You can now spend your psionic focus as part of a full attack. Archers will love it, Weapon Throwers not that much, and Gunners will rarely make full attacks to make this worthwhile.Knockdown Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): It’s based off your dump stat and doesn’t scale that properly, but it allows you to make “ranged trip attempts” (or rather, force targets to fall prone with one hit and a failed Reflex save).
Mind over Body: You’ll rarely face ability burn, but 3.5 players may recall that ability burn can be pretty nasty (it’s harder to recover than ability damage or ability drain) so this helps a bit. That said, it’s not that great if you’re not facing ability burn, and mostly psionic characters will worry about it.
Mixed Combat: Darn, this is a great feat! Shame it requires you to spend 2 feats to do what Quick Draw should have done from its 3.5 incarnation. You can sheathe weapons (not anything else; ask your GM if shields are also allowed), and you can ignore AoO from any ranged attack when changing. This is best for “switch hitters”, who can switch between melee and ranged and work well with any of the two.
Open Minded: If you have a free feat and need skill points badly, this feat is for you. This makes Intelligence a total dump stat. However, you’re also feat-starved, so this feat, while formidable for you, won’t work as well as you’d like.
Psionic Body: 3.5 players may remember this feat, and it hasn’t changed at all. You won’t get that many psionic points, and Toughness of all feats is better, unless you have 11 psionic feats and this feat. Ignore.
Psionic Bull Rush: Another way to make Bull Rush awesome. Keep your psionic focus, and you deal damage equal to half your level when Bull Rushing. Furthermore, you can have a target knocked prone alongside the bull rush if you expend your psionic focus, but this secondary benefit isn’t that great. Damage while bull rushing is a wonderful benefit, though.
Psionic Critical: Unless you specialize in one weapon (mostly Mounted Combatants and lances), the effect won’t really be great. 4-5 points of non-multiplied damage per critical hit aren’t something to be happy about. The thundering weapon enhancement does the same damage for a +1 to the enhancement bonus. Spending your psionic focus for 1d8 damage is pathetic.
Psionic Disarm (Fen): As Psionic Bull Rush, but for disarm checks. The psionic focus expenditure effect is essentially Greater Disarm but improved (no +2 bonus, but you can guide where the weapon falls, and you can arm an ally with it).
Psionic Dodge: Gain +1 dodge bonus to AC while psionically focused, which explicitly stacks with Dodge, except it’s not denied whenever you’re denied your Dex bonus to AC, which makes it slightly better. Its psionic focus expenditure benefit is also somewhat decent.
Psionic Fist (US): Your unarmed strikes deal an additional point of damage! …Erm, not that great, but at least it’s worthwhile. If you expend your psionic focus, then you deal a respectable 2d6 points of damage.Greater Psionic Fist (US): Doubles the damage benefits from Psionic Fist. Respectable, but not worth the two feats IMO.Unavoidable Strike (US): An unarmed strike as a touch attack is always great, but not exactly phenomenal.Psionic Meditation: Become psionically focused as a move action? What’s not to like? Well, that you need to spend one feat on it, that’s what!
Psionic Overrun (MC): As per Psionic Bull Rush, but with Overrun. If your GM rules that the feat works with your mount, then this becomes the final feat for an Overrun-specialized Mounted combatant (remember that Mounted Onslaught allows you to make multiple Overrun attempts). Its effect when expending psionic focus is almost the reverse of Psionic Bull Rush; instead of knocking prone after moving, you move the opponent before knocking prone. I say it’s the reverse because the benefit the feat provides is the inverse of the other, even if the end result is the same. All these make Overrun actually viable, if you think about it.
Psionic Precise Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): All I can say is: LAWL! No barrier can stop your attack; in effect, you get a single phasing shot that bypasses mostly everything. You still need to see your opponent, though, which is the one weakness of this move.
Psionic Shield Bash (SnB): This feat almost makes me cry, because it’s pretty decent. Shaken is a nice effect, and the fact that it scales with other feat effects (including itself) is awesome. However, it requires spending points in your dump stat, and we all know how difficult it is for a Sword & Boarder to get a good Wisdom score). The effect when you expend your psionic focus is doubly good, because being stunned by means of a Will save (meaning the target drops its weapon and can’t act at all) is even better! A great feat, killed by the fact that Sword & Board isn’t the best tactic for a Paladin.
Psionic Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): As Psionic Fist, but with all ranged weapons. Considering that the range is immaterial, and that archery damage is hard to come by, this feat is actually much better. Archers will love it more since they can deal multiple attacks to exploit the benefit.Greater Psionic Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): As Greater Psionic Fist, but with ranged weapons. Or, alternatively, you gain double the benefits of Psionic Shot. In either case, Archers may have enough feats to exploit the benefit; debatable with Gunners, but damage bonuses for them are also pretty scarce.Fell Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun): One shot turns into a ranged touch attack. Weapon Throwers and Archers will love it; Gunners, on the other hand, can do something like this already, and they’ll rarely stray from their range increments so it’s less useful for them.Return Shot: A defensive feat that allows you to expend your psionic focus to redirect an attack to your opponent. An unusual, though viable, form of Damage Redirection, but requires focusing on a ranged combat style for it to work.Psionic Sunder: As with Psionic Bull Rush, making this combat maneuver somewhat more useful (you deal damage to the opponent AND its weapon, and you can stop right when the item breaks to focus your attacks on killing the target). The effect you gain by spending psionic focus isn’t that great, though; it’s the same as Focused Sunder, which is an insult to that feat. No, really: a complete insult. As in “this feat does exactly what Focused Sunder does, and MORE”-levels of insult.
Psionic Trip (Fen, LD): As with Psionic Bull Rush, but for Trip maneuvers. Lockdown builds dream of this feat with anxiousness, since it allows them to cooperate with damage even when focusing on tripping, and with Greater Trip, they can deal even MORE damage. The effect you gain when expending your psionic focus further aids with your battlefield control effects. Arguably the best of the Combat Maneuver-specific Psionic feats, by a bunch.
Psionic Unarmed Strike (US): As Psionic Precise Shot, but with an unarmed strike. You don’t get any special reach or line of sight, so you’re hitting blindly, and it’s only ONE attack. It’s bad. And not in the Power Glove way, either.
Psionic Weapon: As per Psionic Fist, but with any mele weapon (including unarmed strikes?). It depends on whether you need more damage or not, though Vital Strike builds will probably enjoy expending their psionic focus to add even MORE damage on that single hit.Greater Psionic Weapon (THF): As per Greater Psionic Fist, you double the damage from Psionic Weapon. A Vital Strike with Greater Psionic Weapon and expending your psionic focus on that attack can easily deal somewhere between 12d6 to 16d6 points of damage with a single blow (the latter with a Large greatsword). It takes one turn to recharge, or no turns if you have Psionic Meditation, though. Guaranteed to provoke your GM a heart attack when you mention “I deal 16d6 points of damage with one attack” (you just neglect to mention that it’s only on one blow).Deep Impact: What’s better than an attack that deals massive damage? An attack that hits anything . Deep Impact lets you resolve one melee attack as a touch attack…which may very well be your Greater Vital Strike. The only caveat is that you need about 6 feats of your 10 to make it work, but the pay-off is more often than not worthwhile (to recoup: all Vital Strike feats plus this feat and Psionic Weapon).Rapid Metabolism: Meh ability, since it requires you to rest in order to gain the benefit. You probably spend ALL your LoH on yourself and allies before sleeping, and that’s better healing.
Ready Response: Spend your psionic focus to act in a surprise round, or spend it if you can already act to make your full actions. Nifty, though a bit conditional.
Rebounding Throw (Thr): Spend your psionic focus to make a secondary attack against a nearby target (within 1 range increment) at a -4 penalty. A nice way to shift your barrage of attacks to the opponent, though obviously better if you can make it as a full-attack action.
Reckless Offense: Strangely not adapted to PF, this feat works as the inverse of fighting defensively: you gain a -4 penalty to AC to gain a +2 to melee attack rolls (which probably also works for CMB). Should make you a tastier target in the metagame, but the benefit is not that great.
Ricochet (Thr): The new direction of the attack can reach up to 90 degrees (meaning perpendicular to your shot), so the range of effect is somewhat short. Also, you can only do it once, since it requires expending your psionic focus and nothing in the feat states that you can use the feat again if it happens to hit a second wall. Thrown weapons really don’t have the range increments to make this feat work.
Sidestep Charge: While not a psionic feat per se, the Dodge feat requirement is a bad start. The benefit is that you gain a dodge bonus against charge attacks (a +4 bonus, which is reasonable), and the opponent provokes an AoO from you if it fails the charge (since the attacker stops once it approaches you, Stand Still won’t help you here, so Lockdown builds won’t really benefit from this). You can’t be flat-footed or denied your Dex bonus to AC. The build that benefits the most from attacks of opportunity (Lockdown builds) won’t really benefit from this, and the feat requirement makes it a disappointment.
Speed of Thought: You’ll usually wear heavy armor, so you’ll rarely use this feat. It also requires a decent amount of your dump stat (Wisdom), which makes it doubly worse. The +10 increase to land speed isn’t really worth the Wisdom. It’s slightly better since you can expend your psionic focus to move an additional 20 ft. during that round, compared to its 3.5 incarnation.Psionic Charge: You can make a single turn of up to 90 degrees while charging, but if you’re going to charge, you’ll probably want a better suit of armor than Medium. Not really worthwhile, and I doubt you can use it while mounted.Twin Throw (TWF + Thr): You can already make a full attack with a weapon in each hand and take advantage of all your attacks, so what this feat does is allow two attacks with one attack roll, rather than one attack roll per thrown weapon in each hand. At most, it works like Manyshot but for Thrown Weapons, replacing one feat (Rapid Shot) for another (TWF). If you’re focused on Two-Weapon combat or Thrown Weapons, then the investment may be a bit difficult, but if you take TWF as a primary combat style and Weapon Throwing as a secondary, you may find the feat a godsend.
Unlocked Talent: An improvement to Wild Talent, this feat nets you 2 power points and one free 1st level power of your choice. Note that you don’t get the feat unless you have Wild Talent, so this feat isn’t available to many classes. The manifester level for the power is fixed at 1st unless you have levels in a psionic class, and requires a Charisma score (which Paladins have in spades) of 11 to manifest. The choice of feat is often important, but lemme save the trouble for you: get Expansion and never look back. You may want to choose other 1st level powers, but getting Enlarge Person that works on any kind of creature for free for a whole minute, and getting effectively 4 uses of it per day is a godsend.
Spoiler: Friendly Reminder: Psionic Powers and Augmentation3.5 players will be happy to know that psionic powers in Pathfinder work exactly as per the Expanded Psionics Handbook, but most people that play Pathfinder natively may be surprised at how psionics work. At its core, psionic powers work like spells, except that they run under a “mana” system (where you spend points based on the power’s level to use the power) with a twist. The twist, known as “augmentation”, allows you to spend additional power points (up to your manifester level, so you can’t spend 20 points at 1st level on a 1st level power) to improve the traits of the power. More often than not, the power points spent increase the damage dealt, but in occasions they grant additional properties such as higher save DCs, additional targets, ability to affect other creatures, and so on. In this way, a psionic character can spread its points as it finds fitting.
Up the Walls: Allows you to move through walls, though you must end up in a horizontal surface or fall prone. Not only does it require having a sufficiently high score in your dump stat (Wisdom), it also requires a fair amount of movement for it to work. A novelty for you, since you (probably) can’t use this with a mount.
Urban Tracking: Lets you use Diplomacy to track a creature through gathering information. You’ll probably have a high Diplomacy score. If you’re mostly within a city, and you’re some sort of law enforcement officer, then this feat is phenomenal. Otherwise…well, it’s still pretty cool.
Wounding Attack: Tell me: how many feats allow you to deal Constitution damage just because? This one is the most reliable, because it doesn’t jump any hurdles to deal the damage; it just does. Sad that it didn’t got an improvement from its 3.5 incarnation (I would have loved to see scaling bleed damage), but other than that, it’s still a decent feat.
Achievement Feats: These are feats that you can choose if you fulfill certain requirements, and are mostly optional. The requirements are pretty hefty (confirm 50 critical hits, take 1,000 points of damage but you have to take care of how much healing you get) for the benefits. Of those, Gifted Mesmerist lets you cast a charm or compulsion spell (you have lots of compulsion spells, trust me) 1/day as an SLA as if you were casting it through a spell slot, which adds more uses of Challenge Evil or Compel Hostility. If you don’t move that much and you’re fine with only one standard action each round, (Eagle) Knights Candidate allows you to grant a +1 to attack rolls, armor class and saving throws (which stacks with everything else) for the round if you choose to join the Golden Legion; the others aren’t really worth your choice.
Channeling Feats: Already analyzed with feats like Alignment Channel, Channel Smite*, Extra Channel, Selective Channeling and Turn Undead, these are additional feats that happen to boost your Channel Positive Energy class feature. Clarifying Channel grants a new saving throw against a charm or compulsion effect alongside the healing, but only once per day. Protective Channel grants the effect of a Protection from Evil spell each time you use it, which makes it wonderful against evil creatures (and the duration is equal to your effective Cleric level, which for you is equal to your Paladin level).
Spoiler: *Missed out due to lack of spaceChannel Smite: You have the ability to Channel Positive Energy, so you qualify to an extent. You spend 2 uses of Lay on Hands to deal your LoH healing to a single undead enemy alongside your attack. This may be a proper Smite, but it’s somewhat uninspiring; it doesn’t deal as much damage as a mark at any moment save for 20th level. Even then, a touch attack as a standard action to deal maximized damage at 20th level is definitely better. Pass.
Grit Feats (Gun): Only useful for people with Amateur Gunslinger or the Holy Gun archetype, these feats expand your applications of grit. Deft Shootist Deed lets you fire without problems as long as you keep 1 point of grit (you’ll probably do), Extra Grit grants you more grit, Leaping Shot Deed is Shot on the Run with the caveat of allowing dual-wielded firearms to shoot at once, but costing you 1 point of grit. Named Bullet leaves you without grit but its formidable if you’re on a path of vengeance (free bane weapon enhancement), though its benefit is rather poor (only one bullet per point of grit).
Item Creation Feats: The feats you require to craft items (duh!), you have the spells and Spellcraft as a class skill to make it worthwhile. Craft Magic Arms and Armor lets you craft your own weaponry and armor, so tailor it to your interests. Craft Wondrous Items lets you create all other magic items, and you have a good chance of having the spells necessary to craft the item. Craft Wand lets you craft those Wands of Cure Light Wounds and cheaper Wands of Lesser Restoration you’ll be loved by. While not an item creation feat proper, if you have Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring or Craft Rod, you’ll need Master Craftsman in order to make all items.
Local Feats: Akin to Forgotten Realms’ Regional Feats, Local feats are campaign- (or region-) specific, so you may not have full access to them unless your GM allows. Big Game Hunter, Enforcer, Flagbearer (SnB, LD), Hamatulatsu (US), Massed Charge (MC), Mounted Blade (MC), Mounted Onslaught (MC) and Parting Shot (Thr, Arc, Gun) are considered Local feats, just in case. Of the feats that aren’t present, Berserker’s Cry grants a poor bonus to damage rolls for a good duration, but only once per day; Focused Shot (Arc, Gun) only works if you have good Intelligence and only applies to one shot.
Panache Feats (Fen): Only useful for people with Amateur Swashbuckler, these feats expand your applications of panache. Confounding Tumble Deed extends the "feint" effect of Canny Tumble for 1 whole round; Disarming Threat Deed is a mostly social effect that negates the drawback of using Intimidate; Pommel Strike Deed is a cool way to add a free trip attempt without being a trip AND attack at once (though the damage dealt is so-so, honestly).
Story Feats: These are specifically tied to roleplaying, so you may imagine that most of them suck…but they can be surprisingly decent. The format is like this: all story feats grant a mild benefit, but create a roleplaying opportunity for you to follow (breaking a curse, defeating your nemesis, etc.) If you fulfill that story requirement, you get a better benefit, which can usually be pretty powerful. Always speak with your GM to see if s/he allows you to get story feats. Of these, Artifact Hunter is hilariously great because it grants bonuses to Use Magic Device (up to +4 to the score) and the chance to “take 15” up to twice per day; the completion benefit is a 3/day boost to the item’s effective CL by 2, but the goal itself is the benefit, as you have to claim control of an artifact to gain it (the Shield of the Sun, obviously, is what you seek). Blessed offers a pathetic starting benefit, but you end up getting permanent Protection from Evil, which is awesome. Nemesis works like the racial feat Fast Learner, except it applies to anyone, and the completion benefit grants a +2 inherent bonus to an ability score, which is the equivalent of using a +2 tome or getting a Wish to increase your ability scores, no penalties included. Object of Legend also grants the Blessed feat benefit if you choose the Chronicle of the Righteous object as its completion benefit, but otherwise its starting benefit isn’t as great (you become a legendary individual, though, what with the Legend Lore spell can tell your tale; that’s prime roleplaying benefit). Prophet grants a sacred bonus to AC that starts at +1 whenever you cast a beneficial spell, but if you complete your effort it turns into a +2 sacred bonus to AC and saving throws; note that the benefit requires casting a buff spell on any ally AND it lasts for a number of rounds equal to the spell’s level, so it will last for at most 4 rounds. Redemption is designed with the idea of recovering from being a fallen Paladin, but the completion benefit is kinda disappointing (reroll a failed saving throw 1/day). Shamed is fluffy as heck, but you end up with up to 20 temporary hit points and a +1 to attack rolls and skill checks whenever in a conflict and someone outside of it looks at you (note that it says a conflict, but not combat). True Love gives a decent boost to Sense Motive checks and makes any spell with the [emotion] descriptor harder to resist, but the quirky completion bonus is pretty cool: you get a +2 to attack rolls (and therefore, CMB), saving throws and skill checks when nearly dying (but not actually dying), making it a “never give up, never surrender” benefit.
Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2014-10-15 at 12:13 AM. Reason: Adding Panache feats from Advanced Class Guide
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
Re: A Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 player
Thank you, I plan to reference this guide in the future, and I appreciate the depth you put into it, particularly some of the finer points in the spoilers.
a few things...
It seems you skipped the feat "channel smite". The pfsrd lists it as a core rule book, combat feat, and it seems you already covered that section in your guide.
I also believe "variant channeling" options are worth a mention, as they are available to paladins, and not only clerics. A "lock down" paladin might find the "rulership" variant channel a good option.