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I'm working on a new character for my next campaign and I'm really intrigued by the Beloved of Valarian prestige class from the Book of Exalted Deeds. However, I'd also like to play a Paladin and I'm seeing class features from both the core class and the prestige class that don't really add up. For example, the Paladin's Mount wouldn't stack in any way with the Unicorn Companion. The Beloved gets several class features that give bonuses to skills that I wouldn't have (Move Silently, Survival, etc.)

It's going to be a rather low optimization campaign, so I'm not worried about effectiveness, but I also don't want a bunch of less-than-useful prestige class abilities. I'd really like to aim for a heavily armored paladin, if possible. Is there any way to make this combination work?

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The Beloved of Valarian is a prestige class more-or-less tailored to druids/rangers. To make a paladin on that will be challenging, to say the least. About the skill bonuses, Spot & Listen are really useful. I agree that for a ironclad paladin the Move Silently won't be really useful, but hey, it's free! About the unicorn + paladin mount, I'd talk to your DM about merging the both. You'd have a celestial unicorn mount, which isn't unheard of, stacking both classes bonuses. The other class features aren't really a problem for stacking with paladin levels. Magic, on the other hand... –  Lucas Famelli Jun 26 '13 at 14:29
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Play as one and roleplay with the spirit of another? E.g. Beloved of Valarian whilst playing a different variety of paladin to the most common one (those answers should give you some ideas) –  doppelgreener Jun 26 '13 at 15:06
    
@JonathanHobbs That's an awesome question to link to. I've got the RP aspect down (Perky, bubbly, slightly ditzy female paladin who can still tear it up on the battlefield), but I need help with the mechanical part. –  Discord Jun 26 '13 at 15:11

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

The Beloved of Valarian, as you have noticed, isn’t really intended for Paladins. You can get in (and wind up with both a unicorn and another mount, which could itself be a unicorn), but you don’t progress any of those abilities, which means stagnating your Smite, your spells, and that mount that you’re interested in.

Really, the class is for Rangers to become quasi-paladins, because you can just

Be a Paladin, have a Unicorn, worship Valarian, call yourself Beloved

The primary class feature of the Beloved of Valarian class is the unicorn companion. Well, a Paladin can just have one of those.

In the Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 204:

A paladin of 6th level or higher can use a [...] unicorn [...] as a mount.

So instead of getting a not-unicorn special mount at 5th level, get a unicorn at 6th level. You count as one level lower than your actual paladin level for the purposes of your special mount’s features.

Then worship Valarian, and you’ll effectively be one of the Beloved. A reasonable DM should have no problems with you calling yourself one/being treated like one in-character, either.

This is actually better than what a Beloved of Valarian gets, because your Special Mount improves with level, while the Beloved’s does not aside from the Telepathic Bond and Celestial Charger class features. Paladins instead receive an Empathic Link, though, and the Celestial template doesn’t do much to an already-intelligent unicorn. Despite not having the Celestial template, the unicorn is “from the celestial realms.”

Otherwise, you’re lacking a couple of +2’s to wilderness-y skills; you can easily get these from feats if you desire them. Timelessness, Uncanny Dodge, Nature’s Understanding, and Wood Repulsion aren’t very high-impact features, though the Timelessness is a nice one from a flavor perspective. One solution would be to be a race that gets Timelessness anyway; another could be to just ask the DM for it since it’s not really going to change the game, just change your character’s outlook on life.

The hard ones are ethereal jaunt and mass baleful polymorph. They’re both just once per day, but they’re also both reasonably powerful and fairly flavorful. These you would simply have to accept you aren’t going to get without actually taking the Beloved of Valarian class.

Unless your DM agrees to work with you:

Were I your DM, I’d work with you to build a feat chain for high-level Paladins of Valarian to get these features. Maybe something like these:

Beloved

Requirement: Must be a paladin of Valarian with a unicorn as a Special Mount

Benefit: You gain the Timelessness quality, add Knowledge (nature) and Survival and paladin class skills, and add the following spells to your paladin spell list:

1st: calm animals, charm animal, delay poison, detect snares and pits, entangle, eyes of the avoral, longstrider, pass without trace, speak with animals

Special: If you turn away from the faith of Valarian, you lose this feat and any feats that require it. You regain this feat if you return to the faith (including any atonement that may be necessary).

Because you can’t get the unicorn mount until 6th level, you can’t take this feat any earlier than that, either.

Entrusted

Requirement: Beloved

Benefit: You may, once per day, become ethereal as if by the ethereal jaunt spell cast by a sorcerer of your paladin level.

You also add the following spells to your paladin spell list:

2nd: barkskin, hold animal

3rd: heart’s ease, neutralize poison, remove disease, water walk

Since it requires Beloved, you don’t get this until level 9, the same level as a Beloved of Valarian. Also, you don’t need special rules about sharing the spell with your mount, because you have the Share Spells feature.

Spear of Valarian

Requirements: Entrusted, ability to cast 4th-level Paladin Spells

Benefit: Once per day, you may cast a special version of the baleful polymorph spell that affects all evil creatures within 30 feet of you (as a 10th-level druid). Affected creatures are transformed into harmless Diminutive mammals (rabbits, squirrels, or the like) or Fine vermin (nonthreatening spiders, centipedes, or the like). All affected creatures are transformed into the same type of creature. See the baleful polymorph spell description in the Player’s Handbook for details.

You also add the following spells to your paladin spell list:

4th: blinding beauty, commune with nature, freedom of movement, spear of Valarian

The requirement of 4th-level Paladin Spells puts this to 15th level; a bit earlier than when a Beloved of Valarian gets it, but reasonable enough.

These allow you to be a paladin, while earning some of the special features that Beloveds get in a timely fashion, without making them “freebies.”

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Holy crap! This is a great answer! Plus, it totally drops the two Exalted feats that are required for the PrC. I wish I could upvote this more than once! –  Discord Jun 27 '13 at 3:10
    
@Discord Let me know if your DM allows the feats, by the way! I'm always interested in hearing how my work is received. –  KRyan Jun 27 '13 at 3:36
    
For emphasis, a note to DMs who may be interested in adapting the homebrewed feats: Some details such as the Ex/Sp/Su designation and save DCs of the later two feats are still up to you to decide. The suggestions are excellent, but still suggestions. –  Ernir Jun 27 '13 at 12:32
    
@Ernir Actually, technically, both define those with the "as cast by a ..." clauses (i.e. use Charisma or Wisdom for DCs, follow the rules for spellcasting). Which I took straight from the Beloved PrC itself. –  KRyan Jun 27 '13 at 19:54

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