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I'm planning my first playthrough of PoE1, but I can't decide on class for my character. I love to roleplay in this type of games and I would like to roleplay a holy warrior of some sort (think Beric Dondarrion or Thoros of Myr from Game of Thrones). Someone who used to be a horrible person and his history is scarred by violence and war, but now wants have a second chance and redeem himself, help others and do good in the world. Also deeply religious, but not overzealous.

From what I can see, my only choices are Paladin or Priest. I dislike playing solely ranged/caster characters, so ideal would be melee (sword and shield/two handed weapon) with combinations of spells, heals and buffs. I'm aware of paladin orders and priest's chosen deity, but I'm not so knowledgeable about the lore. I think Kind Wayfarers or The Shieldbearers of St. Elcga for Paladin and Priest of Eothas should work, but as I'm saying, I don't really know.

For PoE2 I plan to multiclass these two classes, however I don't know which of these classes would be more fitting for PoE1, so any tips regarding to this would be appreciated, thank you!

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If you value tankyness and spike weapon damage over support then go Paladin. If you value (strong) party support go Priest. Priest is the strongest class in the game if you use a party because it hs incredible party buffs. Paladin has great passives that can make him very sturdy and the "Flames of Devotion" ability provides some weapon-based offensive appeal. 

Generally speaking: a Paladin's primary function is there to last, a Priest is there to buff.

But this is only the general concept. With PoE you can "twist" classes to a certain extend. It's possible to make a good Great Sword Priest for example (see a suggestion of one). But you can also make a great support Paladin who's also tanky (see here).

If going Kind Wayfarers it's very benefical to pick dual wielding concept - because the KW's speceial feature is that he can heal allies inthe vincinity with his Flames of Devotion attack. And if you have two weapons this healing will proc twice instead of only once (if using two-handers or a single one handed weapon or weapon and normal shield). But it also works with a weapon and a bashing shield (there are only 4 of those in the game, but one comes superearly, called Larder Door). With a bashing shield you can keep the tankyness but get two attacks when doing FLames of Devotion, giving you two healing procs instead of only one. 

One of the strongest martial classes in PoE is the Monk. They also fit your description a bit about being spiritual/religious. They generate resources through suffering (getting damaged). Maybe your character wants to gain redemtion by receiving punishment, who knows. In PoE Monks don't have to use their fists - they are just a viable alternative to weapons. Nothing speaks againast using any other weapon as a monk. In terms of gameplay mechanics in melee combat Monks are more potent and interesting than Paladins or Priests imo. Also Monk is one of the best classes in Poe2/Deadfire imo and great for multiclassing with anything really. 

Raw power Priest still wins in the end though. But the curve start more flat as with all "per-rest" casters in PoE and then at some point goes steeply upwards due to the way they gather spell uses per rest.   

Edited by Boeroer

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Some considerations can be done about what level of difficulty you intend to play the game and if you want to go for a SOLO or PARTY run, BUT, if you only are interested about RPG matter, here it is my opinion :)

I think Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are differente role character, Beric can be a Paladin or maybe a Fighter with some abilities/buffs from companions/items or also a Monk.
On the other hand, Thoros is rather a Priest, maybe a kind of Monk and perhaps a Druid...

By the way, on the "Beric" side I stand with the Paladin class. You can play a Monk with fire and shock damage (Beric is know as "The lightning lord" and sometimes hold a fire sword...) with Swift Strike, Lightning Strikes and Turning Wheel, or a Fighter with a Firebrand and items like that, but, ultimately I see him like a Paladin too.

For power, playing tips etc you can see Boeroer message, about RPG you have to take and order which can "fit" with your description of the PG.
Kind Wayfarers should be Benevolent and Passionate... mmm, not a Beric portrait in my opinion, though the related talents (Strange Mercy and The Sword and the Shepherd) can be seen as his own skills.
The Shieldbearers of St. Elcga, Diplomatic and Honest... diplomatic... I don't think it is the case...
Bleak Walkers: Aggressive and Cruel... I like more this one, and can fit the "undead" trait of Beric, it can't? But they are barely mercenary, not as Beric...
Goldpact Knights are mercenary too, so I discard also them.
Darcozzi Paladini are Clever and Passionate... oh this could be good, and also their lore can fit one of a Knight who fight for a King that are not more on his throne.

So you can stick to Darcozzi or maybe and special kind of Bleak Walker that strike a deal with his king or a weird Shieldbearers who protect someone but not with his idea of diplomacy, maybe read the lores and adjust your role playing with your idea of the PG and of course the talents of these orders.

About Thoros, he can be a Monk as we have alredy seen, but also a Fire Druid, see for example my build:

Concern to melee he is based on spiritshift, but he is more about spells and you can adjust it for weapon usage especially in a party.
But at the end I see Thoros like a Priest, but not an Eothas one, but rather a Magran Priest:
Magran priests have Inspired Flame that gives you bonus accuracy on Sword (fit good with Thoros) and a little Flame spell. Moreover Magran is the goddes of Fire, War, Consumption, Transformation, Purification and Trials: I think is a good choice with Thoros history and his relationship with Beric, do you agree?
Anyway, priest deity choice have no great effect on character power, so you can choose Eothas with no trouble about that :)
Priest, as Boeroer has said, his very powerful late game, also in SOLO, I think Wizard and Priest are the most powerful classes to play and maybe the funniest (except Druid... but this is an ill of mine 😄 ) but at low levels they are very squishy.

I hope you like my ideas, if you want we can discuss about those further :)

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