Iconic Design: Some Palliative Paladins You Got There!

I’ll be honest, healing might not be the strongest option in the game, but man if I’m not a sucker for it! As a result, it was SUPER exciting to get to work on the Healer’s Handbook, and I’m happy to announce that I’ve got a build this week that uses it to neat effect! What we will we be building today?

Paladins. Healing paladins. Who bleed!

Build Concept

Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.

  • Race: Aasimar
  • Classes: paladin (martyr) 7
  • Feats: Angelic Blood (1st), Reward of Life (3rd), Greater Mercy (5th), Ultimate Mercy (7th)
  • Abilities: aura of courage, aura of good, aura of health, channel positive energy (3d6), detect evil, divine bond (agathion bond), lay on hands, martyr’s mercy, see no evil hear no evil, stigmata (countersong, distraction, inspire courage +2),
  • Mercies: fatigued (3rd), staggered (6th)
  • Traits: Envoy of Religion

Play Description

So, let me preface by saying that this is a surprisingly good healer in the amount of precision that it has. Normally when you have a healer, they either have weak “taps” in the form of cure light wounds spells, or strong bursts in the form of channel energy. Now, this paladin isn’t going to be able to out-heal a life oracle, but it comes with the old adage that the best healing is preventative.

Now, the martyr isn’t a paladin archetype that people talk about a lot—it alters the paladin’s role from bruiser to support, and many people don’t like that. Specifically, it loses smite evil and divine grace, and yes, I can hear all of the optimizers cringing as they read this sentence. However, the martyr gets some strong abilities to make up for this. First and foremost, they get inspire courage, distraction, and countersong, like a bard, only they use the Heal skill for their distraction and countersong skills instead of a Perform skill. However, this is ultimately a win for the martyr—bards usually need two different perform skills for those performances, since none of the performances for either of them overlap. This is super helpful for a low-skill character like a paladin.

Now, admittedly the ability you get for divine grace is low-power, but the one thing that becomes clear about this archetype is that it sacrifices the paladin’s personal defense to buff the group. Its auras give better bonuses then standard paladins, and its divine health instead provides a substantial boost to the party’s defenses. This paladin is a BEAST at protecting its friends—it even has 20-foot auras and the ability to use lay on hands at full strength at a range of 30 feet. That’s better than the Word of Glory feat (though it comes with the drawback of loosing Swift Action self-heal).

The paladin build also has a few surprise secrets in its arsenal. The first is the Angelic Blood feat, an aasimar exclusive. This awesome feat allows an aasimar to damage nearby evil outsiders whenever she takes bleed damage, and guess what? Your ‘bardic performance ability?’ Yeah, well its actually called stigmata, and you take bleed damage whenever you use it. So while you’re inspiring people, evil beings nearby are taking damage. Neat! (Note that this is REALLY easy to swap out if you don’t want to be an aasimar or don’t want the feat—I recommend Power Attack so you can get foes’ attention and be even MORE of a martyr.) Another neat trick is baked into the class—whenever the martyr uses lay on hands, she can remove conditions she didn’t select as mercies. However, when she does so she takes that condition on herself, meaning she could REALLY hurt herself in the process. For added fun, I took Greater Mercy, so if you heal someone with NONE of the conditions listed on the paladin list (including the new ones listed in Healer’s Handbook), you heal an extra +1d6 of damage. Ultimate Mercy might be one of my absolute favorite paladin feats in the game—send lay on hands uses to cure the final condition, death! Reward of Life is also nifty; you heal damage equal to your Charisma bonus whenever you heal another person with lay on hands. That’s nice, because you’re going to be healing others often.


Well, you have the agathion bond, that’s why.

This AWESOME new divine bond is one of three variant divine bonds from Healer’s Handbook. (Spoilers!) It is pretty simple—activate the bond as a standard action, then add your Charisma bonus to all healing you do for its duration (1 min./level). Why yes, it is THAT good. On top of that, if you’re willing to worship the Dawnflower, you can take the Envoy of Religion trait that allows you reroll any 1s that you roll when healing with lay on hands or channel energy. Why yes, I WOULD like some Dawnflower badluck protection! Don’t mind if I do.

If you were to progress this build, I’d say that at 9th level, injured is your mercy of choice. This AMAZING mercy gives anyone you target with lay on hands fast healing 3 for a number of rounds equal to half your paladin level. That is REALLY, REALLY good. I mean, at 9th level you’re talking about 4d6 + Charisma initial healing, plus an extra 1d6 if the target has no harmful conditions, plus fast healing 3 for 4 rounds. That’s rerolling all 1s, of course. And all that for one use of channel energy.

That’s it for this week’s Iconic Design. Tune back in two weeks for more ideas for your next PC or NPC! Take care!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alexs Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.


  1. Joe Collins

    Keep them coming, Alex! I like that you can still get the character concept across in an abbreviated format, and add in some additional tweaks that would work well but are not necessary, like Aasimar Blood. Thanks!

    • Alex Augunas


      When I was designing builds my old way, often it came to, “Man, I really want to talk about this one thing, but I REALLY don’t have anything cool left to say about the rest of it?” I think some of my best ideas in the past two years suffer from me having to list “FREEBIE” somewhere in the build. I’m glad to hear this new style is resonating with you.

  2. Blake

    I think I’ve started to read these posts in your voice.

    Power Attack and combat reflexes might be a good starting combo for a human – though I don’t think I’ve used CR once in the four sessions I’ve played my lore warden in pfs. But in theory. This seems like a really resilient healer type, and I like the serenrae flavor a bit more than the life oracle