I’ve been a World of Warcraft player since 2007, and since the Burning Crusade came out in 2008, my main character has been a Protection Paladin. (I was a mage before that, but stomping across the shattered world of Outland as a blood elf paladin felt SO right as soon as I tried it, and what’s more, I fell in love with tanking in Warcraft.)
Pathfinder has paladins, but the protection playstyle isn’t something you can really do all that well in Pathfinder because taunting isn’t a thing (that is, its not a thing unless you buy Ultimate Charisma, a book that —might— have been influenced by my desire to have an aggro-like system in Pathfinder). That said, the other day I decided that playing a proxy of my WoW Paladin in the Pathfinder Society sounded fun, so I sat down and tried to come up with a build that I thought captured the WoW Paladin well. Here’s what I came up with.
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Elf: (Light against darkness alternate racial trait; Favored Class Bonus 10/2: +1 to healing/damage done by lay on hands)
- Classes: cleric or Sarenrae (crusader) 1 / paladin (tempered champion) 10 / holy vindicator 1
- Feats: Improved Shield Bash (Bonus), Alignment Channel (1st), Two-Weapon Fighting (3rd), Divine Fighting Technique (Bonus), Power Attack (5th), Dual Enhancement (7th), Great Fortitude (9th), Weapon Focus: Scimitar (Bonus), Ultimate Mercy (11th)
- Abilities: aura of courage, aura of good, aura of resolve, detect evil, divine health, divine grace, domains (Sun), lay on hands, smite evil (4/day)
- Mercies: fatigued (3rd), enfeebled (6th), restorative (9th)
The basic description for this build is crusader cleric at 1st level, paladin from levels 2 through 6, holy vindicator at level 7, and paladin from levels 8 through 12. (And beyond, if you’re not doing PFS play like I am.) You sort of have to do it like this because your cleric level keeps your BAB from qualifying for holy vindicator until Level 6, meaning your 7th level is holy vindicator.
Now, there are a couple options used here that might need some explaining. First, why did I pick cleric? Well, first I wanted the tempered champion paladin archetype, from Weapon Master’s Handbook. Tempered champion trades away spellcasting, which felt very “protection paladin” to me. (Currently in WoW: Legion, paladins don’t even use mana for anything significant except the flash of light spell.) However, to get into holy vindicator, I needed the ability to cast 1st level spells, so dipping a level into crusader cleric made sense. It gives me the only domain I really care about (the Sun domain, FOR THE SUNWELL!), and I also get a bonus feat from a really specific list. Luckily, Improved Shield Bash is on that list, so I’m golden. This also makes me pleased because in the Warcraft lore, the first paladins were priests first, so this seems like a sweet throwback to me.
Tempered champion doesn’t really add anything new or exciting to the paladin class until 4th level, when I get a bonus feat. One of the feats on that list is Divine Fighting Technique, and Sarenrae has a technique that I really enjoy the flavor of—she gives you the ability to deal nonlethal damage with the scimitar at will. I think that’s a fun and flavorful way to tie the WoW character to Golarion, so I picked that one. You may note that as per the rules, I could have elected to trade my Sun domain power (the 1st level one) for the initial benefit of this divine fighting technique. I chose not to because I decided that I wanted the advanced benefit later, and since I’m not advancing my domain any, I would have had to take the feat again anyway. Plus the ability to ignore channel resistance when I channel is pretty cool. At 5th level, I get the ability to spend uses of lay on hands to activate my divine bond, which is awesome. At 1 minute per level, this is an easy pre-fight buff, and uses for lay on hands uses is an AMAZINGLY efficient trade; you have TONS of those uses as you level up!
Now, maybe you’re wondering why I went holy vindicator. The answer is pretty simple—the vindicator’s shield ability. At 7th level, I’ll have an effective 6th level cleric channeling ability as a paladin, so I can drop two uses of lay on hands in order to infuse my shield with a +3 boost to my armor class. Pretty awesome! What’s even funnier is that if I choose to invest in a phylactery of positive channeling, it effectively boosts my dice by +2d6 temporarily and the investiture itself lasts until I lose it. It is REALLY useful for me, arguably more useful than the headband of alluring Charisma.
After that, I basically go back into paladin and pick up neat stuff that lets me do magic things without spellcasting. (For instance, the mercy that allows me to heal 1d4 ability damage per use of lay on hands is AWESOME for someone who gave up the ability to cast spells.) My battleplan is to go scimitar / heavy throwing shield and get bashing and returning on that shield so if I want to throw Warcraft-style, it’ll come back to me. Dual enchantment will let me put sick enchantments on both of my weapons (EVERYTHING IS FLAMING WITH THE DAWNFLOWER’S LIGHT?!), and Ultimate Mercy will eventually let me burn tons of lay on hands to return people from death. (This one is still in the musing stages—it is very possible I won’t regularly have enough lay on hands left over to make use of this.)
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this build, but I’m still mulling some things over. There are powers that I wish I could get on my paladin that I really can’t (like the shielded champion’s ability to throw his shield WAY better than the paladin currently can). This might be a build that I shelve until later when a better idea comes rolling around, or maybe I won’t end up doing period. I have WAY too much sentimental attachment to this WoW character to do anything but my best on this build, so if it’s not possible right now, it might be better to wait on it. Only time will tell, I guess!
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 Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.