Rebalanced Paladin

(Copied from original by OneWinged4ngel and Seerow - Reformatted to suit flat page layout, and some minor spelling errors corrected.)

Current Version: v0.81

The paladin is the epitome of the holy knight in shining armor. A beacon of heroic Good. Yet in the core books... it seems like there's no reason to bother with her past level 6, especially since the Cleric can do what she does just as well (Actually, better). However, this shall be the case no longer!

It should be said that if you're the sort of person who thinks core material is all perfect and good and balanced, that Fighters can stand side by side with Wizards at level 20 and such nonsense, this is not the fix for you. However, if you do see the need for rectifying balance and making the paladin a worthwhile class right up to high levels with greater power, versatility, and flavor, then you may well have found the solution you've been looking for!

This variant is mostly the same as the base paladin at lower levels, since the paladin is pretty much fine there. It continues to increase the power of Lay on Hands and allow it to use up some of its healing points to cure various other ailments (and just throwing out the Remove Disease ability). It changes smite/day into smite/encounter, since the high level paladin should be so badass that she smites all day. It gives the paladin switchable auras to support the party. It also rebuilds the paladin's spell list and gives her more spells per day. At level 5, it allows the paladin to choose from a variety different specializations instead of just getting a special mount (which is now part of the mounted specialization), allowing for a variety of different and unique styles. Further, the paladin has access to a new type of feat, the "Smite Feat," which allows the paladin to expend smite attempts in order to create a variety of other effects, enabling her to use her smite evil ability to cover a variety of versatile circumstances and perform various maneuvers.

The paladin is now a more powerful force in melee (and not just a couple rounds per day!), who uplifts her comrades with her heroic and divine presence, and an effective backup healer.

This class is still not on the power level of well-played full spellcasters (Particularly at higher levels), and it is not intended to be. However, it is relevant at higher levels, and is meant to be balanced against the classes generally regarded as well built and balanced, such as the Rogue, Warblade, Psychic Warrior, decent prestige classes, or... monsters of the appropriate CR. It's meant to be in the upper-middle range of class balance.

Finally, this is a work in progress, and more material will be added in the future.

And without further ado... I offer you...

The Paladin

Table: The Paladin

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Aura of Good, Detect Evil, Smite Evil 1/encounter
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Divine Grace, Lay on Hands
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Aura of Courage, Divine Health, Hero's Courage
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Turn Undead
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Smite Evil 2/encounter, specialization
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +2 Panacean Touch
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Bonus Feat
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Aura of Devotion
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +3 Revitalizing Touch
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Smite Evil 3/encounter
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Vigilance
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4 Refreshing Touch
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4 Aura of Resolve
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Bonus Feat
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Smite Evil 4/Encounter
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5 Break Enchantment
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Constant Vigilance
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6 Aura of Faith
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +6 Energizing Touch
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Smite Evil 5/Encounter, A Hero Never Falls

Aura of Good (Ex)

The power of a paladin’s aura of good (see the detect good spell) is equal to her paladin level. It is not a switchable aura.

Detect Evil (Sp)

At will, a paladin can use detect evil, as the spell.

Smite Evil (Su)

Once per encounter, a paladin may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. She adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per paladin level. This damage is not multiplied on a critical, or by any other multiplier that would not count "bonus dice." If the paladin accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, the smite has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that encounter.

At 5th level, and at every five levels thereafter, the paladin may smite evil one additional time per encounter, as indicated on Table: The Paladin, to a maximum of five times per encounter at 20th level. An encounter is considered over when you do no strenuous action for 5 minutes or more.

Divine Grace (Su)

At 2nd level, a paladin gains a bonus equal to her Charisma bonus (if any) on all saving throws, up to a maximum of her class level.

Lay on Hands (Su)

Beginning at 2nd level, a paladin with a Charisma score of 12 or higher can heal wounds (her own or those of others) by touch. She gains a pool of healing, which allows her to heal a total number of hit points of damage equal to her paladin level × her Charisma bonus. A paladin may choose to divide her healing among multiple recipients, and she doesn’t have to use it all at once. A Paladin may fill this pool with a full minute (10 rounds) of concentration and prayer. Refreshing the pool brings the Paladin's pool of healing back up to the maximum (Paladin level × Charisma Bonus). She may fill her healing pool a number of times per day equal to 1 + half her Charisma modifier (rounded down).

Alternatively, a paladin can use any or all of this healing power to deal damage to undead creatures. Using lay on hands in this way requires a successful melee touch attack and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The paladin decides how many of her daily allotment of points to use as damage after successfully touching an undead creature. The target may make a Will save (DC 10+1/2 Paladin Level+Cha) to negate the damage.

The paladin's Lay on Hands gains additional capabilities as she progresses in level as a paladin. The paladin may use all additional effects in conjunction with healing, as long as she spends enough points.

Switchable Auras

All auras except Aura of Good are switchable as a move action. You may have only one aura other than Aura of Good active at a given time. These auras function while the paladin is conscious, but not while the paladin is unconscious or dead. The paladin's auras only affect her allies, and not the paladin herself.

Aura of Courage (Ex)

At 3rd level, the paladin may exude an aura of courage that inspires her allies. Each ally within 30 feet of her gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects. Aura of Courage's bonuses scale by level. At level 8, allies gain +6 to saves against fear, and a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls. At level 13, allies gain +8 to saves against fear, and a +2 morale bonus to attack rolls. At level 18, allies gain immunity to fear, and +3 morale bonus to attack rolls. This is a switchable Aura.

Hero's Courage (Ex)

Beginning at 3rd level, a paladin is immune to fear (magical or otherwise).

Divine Health (Ex)

At 3rd level, a paladin gains immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases.

Turn Undead (Su)

When a paladin reaches 4th level, she gains the supernatural ability to turn undead. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 2 + her Charisma modifier. She turns undead as a cleric of her level.


Upon reaching 5th level, a paladin may choose any of three abilities representing three different specializations:

See Specializations section below for more details.

Panacean Touch (Su)

Upon reaching 6th level, whenever a paladin expends at least 10 points of healing from her lay on hands she may remove poison from any person she touches, and whenever she spends at least 20 points of healing she may remove disease from any person she touches. This is in addition to hit points restored.

Bonus Feats

At 7th level, and again at 14th level, the Paladin gains a bonus feat. At each such opportunity, a paladin may choose any Smite feat (new to the Rebalanced Paladin), or a feat drawn from the following list. If a feat is labelled with "Aggressive", "Defensive", or "Mounted", then that feat may only be chosen by a paladin of the corresponding specialization.

Aura of Devotion (Ex)

Upon reaching 8th level, the Paladin may exude an Aura of Devotion. While this ability is active, the Paladin grants a +1 morale bonus to AC to all allies within 30 feet. At level 13, this bonus increases to +2. At level 18, this bonus increases to +3. This is a switchable aura.

Revitalizing Touch (Su)

Beginning at 9th level The Paladin can use her Lay on Hands ability to remove ability damage from a person she touches when she heals at least 5 points per point of ability damage to be removed (It is possible for only a portion of ability damage to be restored if the paladin does not spend enough to cure them all). This is in addition to hit points restored.

Vigilance (Su)

Upon reaching 11th level, the Paladin's ability to detect evil increases. When she uses her Detect Evil ability, the area of effect is a 60-foot radius centered on the Paladin, rather than a 60-foot cone.

Refreshing Touch (Su)

Beginning at 12th level Paladin can remove exhaustion, fatigue, sickness, and nausea with a touch whenever she spends at least 10 points from her lay on hands pool. This is in addition to hit points restored.

Aura of Resolve (Ex)

Beginning at 13th level, the paladin gains Aura of Resolve. While this ability is active, the Paladin grants the ability to reroll one Fortitude save every round to any ally within a 30ft radius of her. The decision to reroll must be made after the roll is made but before the result is declared. This is a switchable Aura.

Break Enchantment (Su)

Beginning at 16th level, the Paladin can break an enchantment with a touch whenever she expends at least 40 points of healing from her lay on hands ability. Her caster level for the purpose of this effect is equal to her paladin caster level, just as if she had actually cast the Break Enchantment spell. This is in addition to hit points restored.

Constant Vigilance (Su)

Upon reaching 17th level, the Paladin is always vigilant for any signs of Evil, and her eyes begin to glow with an inner light. Her Detect Evil no longer requires any concentration to maintain, and has an unlimited duration.

Aura of Faith (Ex)

At 18th level, the paladin gains Aura of Faith. While this ability is active, the Paladin grants the ability to reroll one Will save every round to any one ally within a 30ft radius of her. The decision to reroll must be made after the roll is made but before the result is declared. This is a switchable Aura.

Energizing Touch (Su)

Beginning at 19th level, Paladin may remove negative levels from a subject whenever she spends at least 15 points from her lay on hands pool per negative level the target is afflicted with (It is possible for only a portion of negative levels to be restored if the paladin does not spend enough to cure them all). This is in addition to hit points restored.

A Hero Never Falls (Ex)

At 20th level, the paladin's sheer strength of will drives her on when death would claim lesser men. Once per day when a paladin would be reduced to 0 or less hp or otherwise killed (such as by a death effect), she instead is reduced to 1 hp. If the paladin would be killed by having an ability score reduced to zero, that score is instead reduced to 1.


Upon reaching 5th level, a paladin may choose any of three abilities representing three different specializations: Charging Smite (Aggressive), Special Mount (Mounted), and Argent Bastion (Defensive).

(Sidebar) Behind the Scenes: Specializations

Specializations are designed in order to emphasize a paladin's specific fighting style, or to make certain choices more viable (For example, fighting with a sword and shield is typically a suboptimal choice of armament compared to a two-handed weapon).

DMs: If a player in your campaign has an idea for a particular esoteric fighting style or whatever that might otherwise be less than viable, but is nonetheless interesting and supported by his character's flavor, you may consider designing a Specialization in order to facilitate this choice. Just decide what abilities it grants (usually 4, granted at level 5, 8, 11, and 15) and what bonus feats it makes available (as a rule of thumb, keep it to 5). Suddenly, the paladin designed around throwing weapons (perhaps the Paladin from Hellsing who throws holy bayonets, for example) becomes viable and more fun to play!

In fact, you could even create a unique specialization for each church or faith within your campaign setting, guaranteeing that paladins of every faith will be even more unique! Essentially, it can be an efficient medium for creating class variants on the paladin, allowing new concepts without designing a full PrC or anything.

Argent Bastion (Defensive Specialization)

The paladin gains a number of abilities as she rises in level.

Argent Bastion

Level Ability
5th Shield Ward
8th Cover
11th Retribution
15th Divine Wall

Shield Ward

The Paladin gains Shield Ward as a bonus feat, even if the paladin does not meet the prerequisites.

Cover (Ex)

Once per round, as long as the paladin is wielding a shield (and is not flatfooted or otherwise prevented from taking action), the paladin may interpose herself between an adjacent ally and an incoming attack as an immediate action. The paladin absorbs all damage the damage from this single attack, and any additional effects it might have (such as something requiring a save, etc). You must decide to use this ability after the attacker determines the attack has succeeded but before she rolls damage.


The paladin gains Retribution* as a bonus feat, even if she does not meet the prerequisites.

Divine Wall (Su)

As long as the paladin wields a shield, her square blocks line of effect for all effects. For example, if allies hid behind the paladin when a dragon used its breath weapon from the opposite side, it would only hit the paladin.

Charging Smite (Agressive Specialisation)

As PHB II variant.

Special Mount (Sp) (Mounted Specialisation)

The paladin gains the service of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed to serve her in her crusade against evil. This mount is usually a heavy warhorse (for a Medium paladin) or a warpony (for a Small paladin).

Aa full-round action, a paladin may magically call her mount from the celestial realms in which it resides. This ability is the equivalent of a spell of a level equal to one-third the paladin’s level. The mount immediately appears adjacent to the paladin and remains until dismissed. The mount is the same creature each time it is summoned, though the paladin may release a particular mount from service.

Each time the mount is called, it appears with the same hp it had previously, as well as any other effects it may have had (though some may have worn off because of their duration). Whether the mount is with you or not, things like poison run their course. The mount also appears wearing or carrying any gear it had when it was last dismissed. Calling a mount is a conjuration (calling) effect.

When the paladin rests for 8 hours (or long enough to restore his spells), the mount is restored to full hp.

Should the paladin’s mount die, it immediately disappears, leaving behind any equipment it was carrying. The paladin may not summon another mount for thirty days or until she gains a paladin level, whichever comes first, even if the mount is somehow returned from the dead. During this thirty-day period, the paladin takes a -1 penalty on attack and weapon damage rolls.

The Paladin's Mount

The paladin’s mount is superior to a normal mount of its kind and has special powers, as described below. The standard mount for a Medium paladin is a heavy warhorse, and the standard mount for a Small paladin is a warpony. Another kind of mount, such as a riding dog (for a halfling paladin) or a Large shark (for a paladin in an aquatic campaign) may be allowed as well.

A paladin’s mount is treated as a magical beast, not an animal, for the purpose of all effects that depend on its type (though it retains an animal’s HD, base attack bonus, saves, skill points, and feats).

Paladin Level Bonus HD Natural Armour Adj. Strength Adj. INT Special
5th +2 +4 +1 6 Empathic link, improved evasion, share spells, share saving throws
8th +4 +6 +2 7 Improved speed
11th +6 +8 +3 8 Command creatures of its kind
15th +8 +10 +4 9 Spell resistance

Paladin’s Mount Basics

Use the base statistics for a creature of the mount’s kind, but make changes to take into account the attributes and characteristics summarized on the table and described below.

Bonus HD

Extra eight-sided (d8) Hit Dice, each of which gains a Constitution modifier, as normal. Extra Hit Dice improve the mount’s base attack and base save bonuses. A special mount’s base attack bonus is equal to that of a cleric of a level equal to the mount’s HD. A mount has good Fortitude and Reflex saves (treat it as a character whose level equals the animal’s HD). The mount gains additional skill points or feats for bonus HD as normal for advancing a monster’s Hit Dice.

Natural Armor Adj.

The number on the table is an improvement to the mount’s existing natural armor bonus.

Str Adj.

Add this figure to the mount’s Strength score.


The mount’s Intelligence score.

Empathic Link (Su)

The paladin has an empathic link with her mount out to a distance of up to 1 mile. The paladin cannot see through the mount’s eyes, but they can communicate empathically.

Note that even intelligent mounts see the world differently from humans, so misunderstandings are always possible.

Because of this empathic link, the paladin has the same connection to an item or place that her mount does, just as with a master and his familiar.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a mount takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and half damage if the saving throw fails.

Share Spells

At the paladin’s option, she may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) she casts on herself also affect her mount.

The mount must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the mount if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the mount again even if it returns to the paladin before the duration expires. Additionally, the paladin may cast a spell with a target of "You" on her mount (as a touch range spell) instead of on herself. A paladin and her mount can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the mount’s type (magical beast).

Share Saving Throws

For each of its saving throws, the mount uses its own base save bonus or the paladin’s, whichever is higher. The mount applies its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn’t share any other bonuses on saves that the master might have.

Improved Speed (Ex)

The mount’s speed increases by 10 feet.

Command (Sp)

Once per day per two paladin levels of its master, a mount can use this ability to command other any normal animal of approximately the same kind as itself (for warhorses and warponies, this category includes donkeys, mules, and ponies), as long as the target creature has fewer Hit Dice than the mount. This ability functions like the command spell, but the mount must make a DC 21 Concentration check to succeed if it’s being ridden at the time. If the check fails, the ability does not work that time, but it still counts against the mount’s daily uses. Each target may attempt a Will save (DC 10 + ½ paladin’s level + paladin’s Cha modifier) to negate the effect.

Spell Resistance (Ex)

A mount’s spell resistance equals its master’s paladin level + 5. To affect the mount with a spell, a spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the mount’s spell resistance.


Beginning at 4th level, a Paladin gains the ability to cast a small number of divine spells, which are drawn from the Paladin spell list. A paladin must choose and prepare her spells in advance (see below).

To prepare or cast a spell, a paladin must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an Paladin’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the Paladin’s Wisdom modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a paladin can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Paladin Spells Per Day. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Wisdom score. When Table: Paladin Spells Per Day indicates that the Paladin gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, she gains only the bonus spells she would be entitled to based on her Wisdom score for that spell level. The Paladin does not have access to any domain spells or granted powers, as a cleric does.

A Paladin prepares and casts spells the way a cleric does, though she cannot lose a prepared spell to cast a cure spell in its place. A paladin may prepare and cast any spell on the Paladin spell list, provided that she can cast spells of that level, but she must choose which spells to prepare during her daily prayer.

Through 3rd level, a Paladin has no caster level. At 4th level and higher, her caster level is her Paladin level minus 3.

The Paladin: Spells per Day

Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1st - - - -
2nd - - - -
3rd - - - -
4th 0 - - -
5th 1 - - -
6th 2 - - -
7th 2 0 - -
8th 3 1 - -
9th 3 2 - -
10th 3 2 0 -
11th 4 3 1 -
12th 4 3 2 -
13th 4 3 2 0
14th 4 4 3 1
15th 5 4 3 2
16th 5 4 3 2
17th 5 4 4 3
18th 5 5 4 3
19th 5 5 4 3
20th 6 5 4 4

Paladin Spells





Code of Conduct

A paladin must be of Lawful Good alignment, and abide by a higher standard of morals and honor than the average Good-aligned person. Indeed, she is the paragon of heroic Good, drawn to a higher cause. Truly she is a person of high calibre, moral and otherwise.

There is a code of conduct presented in the PHB, but it really is better classified as an example of a generic paladin's vows and code. However, in your game being a paladin may mean quite a different thing altogether! After all, not all settings are the same, nor are all paladins. They serve various causes and deities, and the nature of Good and Evil is not always so stereotypically straightforward in all settings. Your code should represent the beliefs of your church or cause or whatever it is you, as a paladin, fight for!

Talk with your DM about what it means to be a paladin in your campaign, and the implications of it. If you are the DM, consider this, and what it really to be the paragon of good in your campaign. It should be noted that a single mistake or lack of perfection should not make a paladin fall. Indeed, is it not the lack of perfection and ultimately human(oid) nature of such a heroic figure that makes him all the more endearing and, truly, notable in calibre? After all, any old celestial can be perfect, but a man has to work for it.

Instead, the paladin falls from grace if she grossly violates her code (as stated, yet all too often overlooked, in the PHB. This means that some minor infraction would not make the Paladin fall), or if she changes alignment from Lawful Good. Your alignment should be your overall personality and outlook, not the result of the last action you took (although that last action could be considered to grossly violate the paladin's code, of course. The paladin's code is not synonymous with alignment). It should be extremely rare for a single act to alter your alignment, and it certainly shouldn't be so if the act was not done with wrongful intentions. Alignment changes should usually be the result of fairly consistent behavior of a character.


A paladin who ceases to be lawful good or grossly violates her code loses all paladin spells and abilities. She may not progress any farther in levels as a paladin. She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations (see the atonement spell description), as appropriate.

Like a member of any other class, a paladin may be a multiclass character.

Sidebar: PrC Adaptation Of course, it would seem that existing Paladin PrCs wouldn't fit well with the Rebalanced Paladin. One might ask "Hey, how does it make sense to get 2/encounter smites then get 1/day?" Fortunately for you, the Rebalanced Paladin was designed with easy adaptation in mind! For many prestige classes, adaptation is actually quite simple. Spellcasting doesn't need to be altered, as it continues to stay at "+1 per caster level." Fixing smite progressions is as simple as saying "You gain it per encounter, instead of per day." Those are the mainstays of the Rebalanced Paladin's power, and PrCs tend to give good benefits to make up for the loss of auras and Lay on Hands/specialization advancement. This is most of the work already for many paladin PrCs. In the case of abilities that are very similar to Smite Evil, smite feats should generally be allowed to apply (e.g. other Smite (alignment) feats). Indeed, even if the flavor is something like "Smite Good," it is a simple matter to reflavor them all saying "unholy" instead of "holy." If a class offers Lay on Hands advancement, just let it count as paladin levels for the sake of adding curative abilities, and replace the Lay on Hands text for the Prestige Class with the Lay on Hands description here.

For a few, however, you may want to make some adjustments. For example, you may want to say that a paladin PrC focused on leadership continues to advance auras, or you might decide that an aggressive PrC should allow the paladin to continue to advance his Charging Smite ability. These really are fairly minor adjustments that aren't strictly necessary, and really are things you should be able to handle as a DM.

New Feats

Sidebar: Behind the Scenes: Smite Feats

Smites feats are designed to give added options and versatility for the paladin during combat. Quite simply, more options makes combat more dynamic, interesting, and fun for the player. For the most part, Smite feats are weaker than a simple normal Smite Evil attack when fighting a single evil foe, and this is completely intentional. Smite feats are instead useful in other situations. All smite feats work on foes of any alignment unless otherwise noted, and as such help the paladin to contribute more in combats against things like constructs, oozes, or an angry tyrannosaurus. In the case of Conviction, for example, you get basically half the benefit of Smite Evil against any foe. Additionally, certain smite feats are more useful than a smite in unique situations, allowing a paladin to be more effective in more situations. For example, against multiple foes, Judgment can carve a swath through weaker enemies.

Smite feats are designed much like maneuvers in Tome of Battle. Most of them are related to a single, offensive attack with an instantaneous effect, or at least one that doesn't last for more than one round. The idea is basically that things like timed buffs are the domain of Divine feats. If you intend to design your own smite feats, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Smite feats probably shouldn't have a duration that lasts very long, and should be related to some sort of action directly related to combat.
  2. Smite feats should generally be weaker than a normal Smite Evil attack against a single evil foe.

New Feat Type: [Smite]

A smite feat allows you to channel the holy energy used to smite evil enemies iin new ways, expanding your options in combat. All smite feats require the user to expend uses of their Smite Evil ability. Only one use of Smite Evil may be applied to any single attack. All Smite feats are considered Supernatural abilities, and cannot be used in any situation that such abilities would not function (such as in an antimagic field)

Smite Feats

Celestial Lightning [Smite]

Consecration [Smite]

Conviction [Smite]

Divine Cross [Smite]

Holy Wrath [Smite]

Inspiration [Smite]

Judgment [Smite]

Reckoning [Smite]

Retribution [Smite]

Vindication [Smite]

General Feats

Holy Arrow [General]

Extra Lay on Hands [General]

Extra Smiting [General]