“Blade with whom I have lived, blade with whom now I die.
Serve right and justice one last time.
Seek one last heart of evil, still one last life of pain.
Cut well old friend, and then farewell.”
— Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe, from The Flight of Dragons
Ah, the Paladin.
No class is as maligned and mocked more…until the party needs a knight in shining armor to ride in to rescue them.
The Paladin is one of my favorite classes in fantasy gaming. Complex and exciting in roleplay and yet relatively straightforward as you charge into battle, the Paladin is one of the few classes that has the capability of really lagging behind if you don’t build them efficiently.
We are here to help you, dear reader.
Below we have a guide for the best feats you can take as a Paladin in Pathfinder!
But before that…
What Do We Mean by Best?
What does it mean to be the best feat in class? Well, we have a few ways we measure that.
- Applicability – Basically, how often is this feat going to make a difference in your time playing this character? How often is it going to come up, and how will it impact those situations?
- Availability – How soon can you get access to this feat? Feats that are awesome but take a while to get to are not as good as feats you can get quickly.
- Flavor – Simply put, this is a Feat’s cool factor.
Using these guide posts, we can look at what works best for a more efficient Paladin Build.
Top 10 Paladin Feats for Pathfinder 1st Edition
While this list isn’t exhaustive, these are just some of the top feats for you to look at when building your character as a superior champion of Justice and Goodness.
As always, if you find a feat that you feel works better for your character from a role-playing perspective, fun is always going to trump just boring efficiency.
1. Improved Initiative (Combat)
“Your quick reflexes allow you to react rapidly to danger.
Benefit: You get a +4 bonus on initiative checks.”
I will never tell you not to take this feat. Honestly, in Pathfinder, it is just too good. As a character who probably is not going to have the best Dexterity, you need all the help you can get.
“You have enhanced physical stamina.
Benefit: You gain +3 hit points. For every Hit Die you possess beyond 3, you gain an additional +1 hit point. If you have more than 3 Hit Dice, you gain +1 hit points whenever you gain a Hit Die (such as when you gain a level).”
For those who enjoy being called “Tanka-dins.” Toughness is a great feat for any characters who know they are going to be on the front lines.
3. Power Attack (Combat)
“You can make exceptionally deadly melee attacks by sacrificing accuracy for strength.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one-handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon.
When your base attack bonus reaches +4 and every 4 points thereafter, the penalty increases by –1, and the bonus to damage increases by +2.
You must choose to use this feat before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn. The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.”
This feat is a gateway feat to a whole tree of combat abilities. Specifically, it’s a good idea for frontline fighters to start early with this feat to unlock deeper combat capabilities.
4. Furious Focus (Combat)
“Even in the midst of fierce and furious blows, you can find focus in the carnage and your seemingly wild blows strike home.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are wielding a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon with two hands and using the Power Attack feat, you do not suffer Power Attack’s penalty on melee attack rolls on the first attack you make each turn. You still suffer the penalty on any additional attacks, including attacks of opportunity.”
Building onto Power Attack above, this will let you strike hard and fast.
5. Step Up (Combat)
“You can close the distance when a foe tries to move away.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: Whenever an adjacent foe attempts to take a 5-foot step away from you, you may also make a 5-foot step as an immediate action so long as you end up adjacent to the foe that triggered this ability. If you take this step, you cannot take a 5-foot step during your next turn. If you take an action to move during your next turn, subtract 5 feet from your total movement.”
Keep the pressure on them! Don’t let your enemies get away from you that easily.
“Whether with biting remarks or hurtful words, you are adept at making creatures angry with you.
Benefit: You can make Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to make creatures respond to you with hostility. No matter which skill you use, antagonizing a creature takes a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity and has a DC equal to 10 + the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier. You cannot make this check against a creature that does not understand you or has an Intelligence score of 3 or lower. Before you make these checks, you may make a Sense Motive check (DC 20) as a swift action to gain an insight bonus on these Diplomacy or Intimidate checks equal to your Charisma bonus until the end of your next turn. The benefits you gain for this check depend on the skill you use. This is a mind-affecting effect.
Diplomacy: You fluster your enemy. For the next minute, the target takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls made against creatures other than you and has a 10% spell failure chance on all spells that do not target you or that have you within their area of effect.
Intimidate: The creature flies into a rage. On its next turn, the target must attempt to make a melee attack against you, make a ranged attack against you, target you with a spell, or include you in the area of a spell. The effect ends if the creature is prevented from attacking you or attempting to do so would harm it (for example, if you are on the other side of a chasm or a wall of fire). If it cannot attack you on its turn, you may make the check again as an immediate action to extend the effect for 1 round (but cannot extend it thereafter). The effect ends as soon as the creature attacks you. Once you have targeted a creature with this ability, you cannot target it again for 1 day.”
It’s not attacking first if you provoke them to attack you, right? Paladins will possibly have a higher Charisma than your normal Fighter. Time to weaponize that.
This can also keep the focus on you if enemies are attacking your more squishy allies.
7. Reward of Life
“When you lay on hands, you are also healed.
Prerequisites: Lay on Hands class feature.
Benefit: Each time you use your Lay on Hands ability to heal a creature other than yourself, you heal a number of hit points equal to your Charisma bonus. This ability has no effect if you use Lay on Hands to harm undead.”
Keeping your friends up keeps you up as well!
8. Extra Lay On Hands
“You can use your Lay on Hands ability more often.
Prerequisite: Lay on Hands class feature.
Benefit: You can use your Lay on Hands ability two additional times per day.
Special: You can gain Extra Lay On Hands multiple times. Its effects stack.”
Even more healing is never a bad thing. Being a backup box of bandages is sometimes the best help you can be.
9. Adept Champion
“You can alter your smite ability, channeling the power of your deity into divine inspiration that grants you greater aptitude for performing combat maneuvers.
Prerequisites: Smite evil class feature, base attack bonus +5.
Benefit: While using your smite evil class feature, as a swift action at the start of your turn, you can forgo the bonus on damage rolls and instead gain half that bonus as a bonus on combat maneuver checks against the target of your smite. The effects of your smite evil feature return to normal at the start of your next turn.”
Hit hard, and hit fast, and add that extra damage to your roll to bullrush someone to the ground or to disarm them quickly.
10. Unsanctioned Knowledge
“You have searched through forbidden texts and are privy to powerful but proscribed magic.
Prerequisites: Int 13, ability to cast 1st-level Paladin spells.
Benefit: Pick one 1st-level spell, one 2nd-level spell, one 3rd-level spell, and one 4th-level spell from the Bard, Cleric, Inquisitor, or Oracle spell lists. Add these spells to your Paladin spell list as Paladin spells of the appropriate level. Once chosen, these spells cannot be changed.”
Expand your spellcasting ability as soon as you can. Combine with the Magical Knack trait to improve your tiny spell-casting ability.