- Character creation. At this point, the Paladin gets to choose between Flames of Devotion, a 1-per-encounter Ability that does Weap.Dmg.+100% Burn Dmg. and Lay On Hands, a pitiful 3-uses-per-day HoT (Healing over Time) Ability.
The Paladin also gets Faith and Conviction, a passive bonus to all defences that depend upon your Behaviour/Reputation; the Paladin also gets to choose an Order that defines what Behaviour improves or diminishes the bonus from Faith and Conviction, however, what disposition is celebrated or condemned by each Order is not actually explained or expanded upon, which is just all kinds of odd.
Finally the Paladin gets +1 Lore and +2 Athletics, which strangely implies that the Paladin is more Athletic than even a Fighter.
- Skill Points and a Talent. Nothing special, which makes perfect sense and it's alright. All Paladins get to choose between a number of unique Talents, same as any other Class, really.
- Skill Points and a Class Ability. Apart from the aforementioned Flames of Devotion and Lay On Hands, the Paladin now has three more Abilities to pick from; Zealous Charge, Zealous Focus and Zealous Endurance. All of these are Modal Abilities that can be toggled, with a incredibly short range of 2.5m, acting as Auras, and as of v392, only Zealous Focus is remotely worth considering.
- Skill Points and a Talent. Nothing to see here, same as everyone else. Move along.
- Skill Points and a Class Ability! This time, the Paladin adds the following to his list of choices: Inspiring Triumph, a passive Ability that triggers a defensive bonus to all allies within 5m every time the Paladin downs an enemy; Sworn Enemy, a once-per-rest Ability that targets a single enemy and gives the Paladin (and only the Paladin) a damage and accuracy boost until that one enemy dies; and finally, the first "Command"-style Class Ability, called Liberating Exhortation, a once-per-encounter Ability that lets a single ally ignore Hostile Effects for 15 seconds (they will resume afterwards).
- Skill Points and a Talent!
- Skill Points and a Class Ability, go figure! Again, the Paladin gets to choose from all the previous Abilities that hasn't already been chosen, and adds Deprive the Unworthy and Reviving Exhortation to the list. Both are "Command"-style Abilities, but for some strange reason, the offensive Deprive the Unworthy does not follow the same pattern of being named as an Exhortation. You'd think they'd at least come up with something analogous, such as Depriving Judgement or something.
Anyway, Deprive the Unworthy is a straight-up offensive version of Liberating Exhortation, and it suppresses the Beneficial Effects of a single enemy for 15 seconds. Strangely, the Paladin only gets two-per-rest of Deprive the Unworthy, whereas Liberating Exhortation is once-per-encounter. Reviving Exhortation, also added at this level, is also a once-per-encounter "Command"-style ability that allows the Paladin to revive a fallen ally with a modest amount of Endurance restored, much of which will be taken away from him after 15 seconds.
- Guess what. Skill Points and a Talent. Booyah.
- Skill Points and a Class Ability! Another two Abilities are added to the list; Righteous Soul, a underwhelming passive Ability (why are passives even offered up as Class Abilities?) The exact nature of this passive is questionable, because the wording of the Ability is ambiguous at this point, but it supposedly makes you resist all Poisoned, Diseased, Charmed, Dominated, Frightened and Terrified Effects, as well as reducing their duration by 5 seconds. Potentially powerful, but again, why would passives even be offered up as Abilities? Passives are by their nature and definition passive, and even if powerful, definitely not contributing to interesting choices in combat.
Second, Reinforcing Exhortation, a twice-per-encounter Ability that increases the Deflection of a single recipient ally for 20 seconds. Another "Command"-style Class Ability.
- Skill. Points. And. Talent.
- Skill Points and... Class Ability! This time, only a single Class Ability is added: Hastening Exhortation. This is unsurprisingly another "Command"-style Ability, but this time it's three-per-rest, and it multiplies the attack speed of a single ally by 1.2.
- Final level. Skill Point and a Talent. Final stop. Everyone get off the rapetrain, it turns out that it's got brakes after all.
- Critical Focus; Improves Zealous Focus.
- Deep Faith; Improves the defensive bonuses of the Order-dependent Faith and Conviction passive.
- Greater Lay on Hands; increases the healing of Lay on Hands.
- Intense Flames; Increases the damage of Flames of Devotion.
- Untroubled Faith (Paladin); negates some of (removes?) the negative effects from Reputation on Faith and Conviction. At the very least, this should be renamed, because it really stands out with that "(Paladin)", since no other Talent is class-marked like that.
- The Black Path, Bleak Walkers; similar to the Inspiring Triumph Class Ability, except it Frightens all nearby enemies whenever the Paladin kills someone.
- Remember Rakhan Field, Bleak Walkers; nearly identical to the Intense Flames Talent, except it adds 50% Corrosion Damage instead of 50% extra Burn Damage to Flames of Devotion.
- Inspiring Liberation, Darcozzi Paladini; affects Liberating Exhortation, and gives the target ally a bonus to Accuracy in addition to the normal effects.
- Fires of Darcozzi Palace, Darcozzi Paladini; affects Flames of Devotion, giving the Paladin a Flame Shield upon using it.
- Enduring Flames, Goldpact Knights; causes Flames of Devotion to also cause a Burn-dmg DoT equal to 50% of the total damage.
- Bond of Duty, Goldpact Knights; whenever the Paladin uses Liberating Exhortation, the target ally also gets a large defensive bonus against Charmed, Confused and Dominated.
- Strange Mercy, Kind Wayfarers; again similar to the Inspiring Triumph Class Ability, except nearby allies gain Endurance every time the Paladin kills someone.
- The Sword and the Shepherd; Kind Wayfarers; every time the Paladin uses Flames of Devotion, all nearby allies heal a trifling amount of Endurance.
- Shielding Flames, Shieldbearers of St. Elcga; similar to the Kind Wayfarers ability above, it grants a small deflection bonus to nearby allies every time the Paladin uses Flames of Devotion.
- Shielding Touch, Shieldbearers of St. Elcga; again, the target ally gains an Accuracy bonus when the Paladin uses Liberating Exhortation. Yawn.
• First of all, the paladin suffers from a lack of combat options. This is particularly glaring for the first 5 levels, which in the context of Pillars of Eternity is a figurative eternity. The fact is that at the moment, Flames of Devotion doesn't just appear to be a default assumption made by the developers that the Paladin is expected to have (judging by Talent support, more on that later), but it completely obliterates Lay on Hands.
So while every (almost?) other class gets either multiple uses per encounter of one ability or another, or gets something that hinges on being deployed tactically, the Paladin gets a once-per-encounter ability that is swiftly blown (because there is often no reason whatsoever to not use Flames of Devotion almost immediately, or even attempt to initiate with it) and is then relegated to autoattack.
At level 3, when the Paladin gets to pick a new Class Ability, all that is offered up are auras. Now, likely to inflate the sense of combat options artificially, Auras have been turned into a "Combat Only"-Ability, but it doesn't functionally change the fact that it is completely passive. It is not until level 5 that a Paladin can even think about doing anything in combat that isn't healing 3 times per day, or use flames of devotion once per encounter followed by auto-attack.
• Second, the supposed core abilities of the Paladin is seemingly lost in translation. It is my understanding that a few aspects of the Paladin was intended by be part of his core concept, primarily Commands (Exhortations + "Deprive the Unworthy") and Auras. Due to the way ability gain has been modeled, however, it is entirely possible to opt out of these things completely.
This isn't necessarily something bad, and it depends largely on what the developers want to do with the class, but it is definitely something that should be discussed. What is the concept of the Paladin, what assumptions are made? This ties into a third point.
• Third, the Order-specific Talents are somewhat out of whack. Why is it that the Order-specific Talents all favour either Flames of Devotion or Liberating Exhortation specifically? There are two notable exceptions, The Black Path (Bleak Walkers) and Strange Mercy (Kind Wayfarers), both which gains on-kill bonuses to nearby allies. It is still a very strange, lop-sided favouritism that seems to assume that these two abilities are part of any Paladin's core skillset.
The Paladin-specific Talents need to be looked over, and spread out to apply to more or different Abilities. Not a single Order-specific power affects Lay on Hands, for example, even though you'd think that such a thing would fit the Kind Wayfarers like a glove. Even though there only exists two different Paladin abilities that can be taken on creation - Flames of Devotion and Lay on Hands - only one of them is consistently affected by Order-specific talents.
This is very odd and jarring. This also goes double for Liberating Exhortation. If Flames of Devotion seems to be a default assumption of the class that can conceivably be missed, it is currently very unlikely that anyone would. Liberating Exhortation, however, enters the scene when there are multiple possible abilities to choose from, and it is entirely possible to build a Paladin completely without picking up Exhortations.
• Fourth, the oddity of the 2 Athletics, 1 Lore starting Skills. It is odd that a Fighter would be notably less Athletic than a standard Paladin, but I also think that there is a missed opportunity at play. I would suggest that instead of cementing the starting Skills of the Paladin, make the starting Skills 1 Athletics, 1 Lore, and 1 Order-dependent as such; http://forums.obsidi...s/#entry1553094
• For some concrete suggestions, partly based on personal preference and interpretation:
- Revamp and look over all the Order-specific Talents, to diversify them based on more open-ended assumptions. It should not be assumed by the entire system that you end up with very specific Abilities, unless these Abilities are specifically granted.
There are many Exhortations, why only favour one? There are two starting abilities, why only favour one?
- Lay on Hands need to be considerably buffed. In earlier versions, healing was stronger than it is now, and it was supposedly nerfed across the board. I do not think it would be inappropriate for Lay on Hands to be a premier healing Ability that blows others out of the water; it is per-rest, and potentially a core ability of the Paladin class as a whole.
It should also not be a HoT; it should be instant. The Greater Lay on Hands Talent could add a HoT to the Lay on Hands ability instead.
- For some reason, there is no "Extra Lay on Hands" or "Extra Flames of Devotion" Talents. This should be rectified, and the former should add two additional uses of Lay on Hands per day, and the latter should add one extra use of Flames of Devotion per encounter. It is not interesting, but it is useful and consistent with what other classes can often get.
- Make Auras a core part of the Paladin concept; on Level 2 or 3, allow the Paladin to choose one of the three auras independently of other Abilities. Additionally, there should be Talents to support all Auras, not just Zealous Focus, an aura already well-known to currently be the only worthwhile one.
- Rebalance the auras. Especially Zealous Charge is utterly useless due to the Engagement system's current implementation making movement in combat largely meaningless.
Also, auras as "Combat Only"-abilities (if "Combat Only" is to be a thing at all, rubbish as the concept is) is utterly ridiculous, an artificial buffer at the initiation of combat meant to inflate the feeling that the Paladin is doing something worthwhile besides auto-attacking. Stop it. Auras are passive modals that should be on at all times if the Paladin wishes it to be so.
- Rework the Exhortations (including the oddly-named Deprive the Unworthy); ideally, they should similarly be part of the Paladin's core skillset in some capacity, possibly being granted outside of the regular choices offered to the Paladin. Additionally, they should all either be Per-rest (preferably not) or have a similar Per-encounter use (preferably).
Them being so conceptually similar as to share names almost across the board, but mechanically dissimilar feels odd and contrived. Instead of making the core functionality between them different, balance them based on the assumption that their functionality is conceptually similar, such as "2 per encounter", "1 per encounter", or "3 per day". Create the framework for how the concept is meant to work, and balance it based on those assumptions afterward.
If all Exhortations would be offered outside of the normal Paladin Ability choices, all of them would ideally be offered up at once, instead of the odd progression that they go through. There is no conceptual reason why Liberating Exhortation should be offered before Reviving Exhortation, and I believe this to be a vestigial holdover from a time when the Exhortations were granted at given levels, rather than as a choice amongst a plethora of different abilities.
- Righteous Soul is terrible. Complete passives should never be offered up as full-fledged Class Abilities. This feels much more like a high-level Talent than anything else. The Paladin already suffers from combat option(s) starvation, and while flavourful and perhaps powerful, this is a bad choice not from a player perspective, but from a development perspective; it should not be offered like this at all.
- Inspiring Triumph should be made into a Talent. There are several Paladin-only Talents with the exact same functionality, but with different effects, and this has no business being a Class Ability to begin with. It would be much better served being turned into a Talent. Doubly so not only because of it's relation to how other Paladin-specific Talents already work, but also because of the aforementioned "passives are bad as Class Abilities, especially for Paladins"-issue.
It is not uncommon for large posts to kill their own threads, but I hope people instead see it as cause to discuss the Paladin class and possible perceived issues with it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and is just some thoughts and notes on my perceptions of the Paladin class and issues I've discovered during play or from subjective analysis.