Gifts from the Gods: Paladin
One of the many divine gifts that paladins receive is the ability to
cast a small number of divine spells.
These spells are drawn from the
cleric spell list and can give paladins the edge they need in a tough
combat. This guide is intended to separate the wheat from the chaff and
highlight both general spellcasting tips as well as important paladin
Paladins are divine spellcasters, and as such, use Wisdom to determine
what level of spell they can cast and how many bonus spell points they
receive at each level. To be able to cast spells, a paladin must have a
Wisdom of 10 + spell level (so you need an 11 wisdom to cast 1st level
spells and a 12 wisdom to cast 2nd level spells). You gain bonus spell
points for having a Wisdom modifier of +1 or higher.
You can use magic items to increase your Wisdom in order to either gain
additional spell points or raise your Wisdom to a sufficient level to
gain access to spells. For example, if you have a 10 Wisdom, a magic
item that grants a +1 to your Wisdom would allow you to cast 1st level
spells, provided you have spell points.
In general, most paladins should start with a Wisdom no lower than 10,
with a 12 being preferable. A 12 Wisdom will grant you a few bonus
spell points at Level four, allowing you access to your spells at the
earliest opportunity. A wisdom higher than 12 is generally not worth
purchasing at character creation, as the small amount of bonus spell
points aren't worth lowering your other ability scores.
Spell Point Conservation
The most important thing to remember about paladin spellcasting is to
conserve your spell points. Paladins will generally have around 110 to
200 spell points at 10th level, depending upon their Wisdom score and
the magic items they possess. Due to your limited spell point pool,
you'll have to understand when to spend spell points and when to
conserve them. In general, try to avoid casting spells if a full
spellcaster in the party can cast them for you. Also, you'll want to
save your spell points for important fights or for patching up the
wounded before using a rest shrine.
spells come in two varieties: curative and combat enhancements.
For the most part, paladins use their spells to improve their combat
prowess prior to important or large fights. One important thing to
remember is that if you're in a group with a cleric, talk with the
cleric about what spells he is preparing. You can avoid preparing
spells that the cleric has memorized, therefore freeing up your very
limited spell slots for more useful spells. For example, if the cleric
has memorized Bless, you most likely do not need to prepare the same
spell, as the spells will not stack with each other. Conversely, you
can prepare a spell that doesn't need to be cast very often instead of
the party cleric, therefore freeing up a spell slot for the cleric.
This works well with spells like Lesser Restoration, as you will not
need to cast this spell very often between rests.
First Level Spells
Paladins can memorize a
single first level spell starting at fourth
level, provided they have a Wisdom of 12 or higher. They can memorize
two first level spells at sixth level, provided they have a Wisdom of
11 or higher. Useful first level spells for the paladin include the
- Bless: This spell
provides you and your nearby allies with a +1 bonus on attack rolls and
saves versus fear for one minute per caster level. Memorize this spell
only if you're in a large group without a cleric.
- Cure Light Wounds: This
spell cures 1d8 + 1 per caster level hit points to a target. This spell
won't allow you to play the roll of a main healer, but if you're in a
small group or solo, it's worth memorizing just to provide a little bit
of additional healing.
- Divine Favor: This is
the bread and butter spell of the paladin class. This should be the one
spell you almost always have memorized. It provides a scaling bonus to
attack and damage rolls for a minute, starting at +2. Generally, it's
good to cast this spell before every tough fight if you have the spell
points to do so.
- Lesser Restoration: This
spell is worth mentioning, as paladins gain lesser restoration as a
first level spell. Prepare this spell to enable the cleric in your
party to prepare an additional second level spell.
- Vigor: In most
instances, Vigor is actually more useful than Cure Light Wounds to a
paladin. It grants a number of temporary hit points equal to 10 + 2 per
level after 4th (max 20) for one minute per caster level. As this spell
always gives you at least 10 temporary hit points, it's often a more
efficient form of “healing” than Cure Light Wounds, as the temporary
hit points are lost first. This is usually a good second spell to
prepare in addition to Divine Favor.
Second Level Spells
Paladins can memorize a single second level spell at eighth level, and
additional second level spell at tenth level, provided the paladin has
a Wisdom of 12 or higher. Useful second level spells for the paladin
include the following:
- Bull's Strength: With a
+4 enhancement bonus to Strength, what's not to like about this
spell? About the only reason you shouldn't prepare this spell is
if you have a magic item that grants you a +4 enhancement bonus to
Strength. In addition, you can cast this on other party members.
- Eagle's Splendor:
Everything that's good about Bull's Strength is equally good about this
spell, save that you gain a +4 enhancement bonus to Charisma. Given how
important Charisma is to paladins, you should definitely memorize this
spell in addition to Bull's Strength, unless you have a magic item that
provides a +4 enhancement bonus to Charisma.
- Resist Energy (Acid,
Cold, Electricity, Fire, or Sonic): This is a good spell to prepare if
you're in a dungeon that does a lot of elemental damage. Otherwise,
stick with Bull's Strength and Eagle's Splendor.
There are a few so called “dirty tricks” that you can use with paladin
spellcasting. If you're in a party with a cleric who has the Divine
Vitality Enhancement, have him (or yourself) cast Owl's Wisdom on you
and then use Divine Vitality to restore your newly gained bonus spell
points. This can often grant you enough bonus spell points to cast one
or two new spells.
As you can see, paladins have a small array of potent spells that can
put them on equal footing with the fighter. By choosing your spells
wisely and conserving your spell points, you can give yourself a little
extra oomph to make those hard fights a bit easier.