I'm trying to plan out my 20 levels of feats for the Paladin in Pathfinder. As you probably know, Paladins only get (at most) 10 feats if they are not human like my character. This leads to some issues.
I'm playing an offensive Paladin who heals outside of combat mostly. Basically, I'm an off-healer but I dont want to sacrifice my damage.
So far my build feats looks like this.

3:greater mercy
5:power attack
6:extra channel
9:antagonize (diplomacy)
11:weapon focus (falchion)/ selective channeling
15:step up
17:Great cleave
19:improved critical

My feats are to help me utilize my vanilla Paladin heals the best I can, and help me deal damage. I'm spread really thin here and am having lots of trouble because I'm so feat starved. "Antagonize" is a staple feat for me as I feel it will help me draw "aggro" of enemies so I can better protect my group. The way my gm does his encounters, I have no doubt that it will work well.
Other feats that I've considered are: quick channel, lunge, furious focus, reward of life, angel blood and angel wings (I'm an aasimar), dodge + mobility, and unsanctioned knowledge.

I'm sure you can see my problem. I'm looking for the best ten feats for this build.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There we go, Im so sorry about that! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds like Pathfinder, based on some of the feats listed. This is a little too broad though; you're asking for the best feats to do everything... you need to prioritize damage/other combat function(s)/survival/out of combat healing or we can't make recommendations on what to take when. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 22, 2017 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, as antagonize is on my feat list, I should have what I need to "tank" as the rest will just be my weapons, armor, and my class abilities. The out of combat healing and offensive capabilities are what need help with for the other 9 feats. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ To summarize, you want your feats to help with Damage>Survival>Downtime healing>Other functions? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 22, 2017 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something like Damage>Downtime healing>Survival>Other functions. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 16:26

3 Answers 3


On the feats you suggest:

  • Fey Foundling—not really worth a feat for you. It would boost your lay on hands self-heal a fair amount (averaging 2¾ HP/level instead of 1¾ HP/level), which could be worth it for a character hyper-focused on self-sufficiency. But it does nothing for your damage, your protection from non-HP threats, your protection from one-shot kills, or your ability to heal allies, and it comes with a drawback (albeit a minor one). You can do a lot better than this in a feat, and you need feats way too badly.

  • Greater Mercy—terrible feat, at least in the long term. An extra 1d6 HP healed is nothing past the earliest levels. At best you can take it at 7th, when it represents a 25% improvement in your lay on hands healing, which sounds good until you remember that your healing is already rather low. 25% of a little still isn’t a lot. And the proportional benefit drops fast.

  • Power Attack—not amazing, but it may still be the best you’ve got. Only use this when you have both hands on your weapon; the accuracy penalty isn’t worth the damage unless you’re getting the two-handed bonus.

  • Extra Channel—you should not need this, you should have high Charisma. I would only get this if, after several levels, you determined you really really needed it on a daily basis. Remember, you still want a wand of cure light wounds, so you should not be burning through your channeling that fast.

    Much more valid option if your GM allows you to retrain. Getting it early (when you are getting little from the half-level component and you cannot afford to boost Charisma yet) could be worthwhile, and then you retrain it once you are better-situated.

  • Antagonize—if you say this will work reliably with your GM, I cannot gainsay that. But if you aren’t looking to be the party face, that’s a lot of skill points devoted to making this work, and it will fail against a lot of targets, and it’s costly to use in combat. It’s the right idea for you, but I worry about it being effective enough to serve its purpose.

  • Weapon Focus—the only reason to ever take this feat is as a prerequisite to something else. Even then, you can just buy it for 2,000 gp, with a cracked opalescent white pyramid ioun stone and a wayfinder. Note that the cracked opalescent white pyramid ioun stone also gives you the ability to use some weapon as if it were martial, so feel free to grab a decent exotic if you can actually find one (you probably can’t, exotic weapons in Pathfinder are universally awful).

  • Selective Channeling—you should not be channeling energy in combat. It just doesn’t do enough. Kill the things you don’t want to heal first, then start healing. If channeling energy was an effective choice in combat, this would be a good feat, but it’s not so this isn’t.

  • Step Up—finally, a truly good feat. Yes, get this. Get this as soon as possible, do not wait until 15th level to get it.

  • Cleave—this feat is absolutely awful. You need to be full-attacking, not wasting a standard action to attack once. If you find yourself forced to move and thus left with only a standard action, cast a spell.

  • Great Cleave—see Cleave.

  • Improved Critical—happen too rarely to invest in, you have no special bonuses triggering off of criticals, and you probably are not going to be using a high-threat-range weapon. Why would you take this?

  • Angelic Blood—useless, but...

  • Angel Wings—this is fantastic. Angelic Blood is not worthwhile on its own but Angel Wings may very well be worth two feats. You need to get into the air somehow.

My suggestions:

  • Power Attack—it’s the basic damage boost. Not great but we’re only just getting started. Note this basically requires you to use a two-handed weapon, and is thus not necessarily compatible with every other option here.

    • Furious Focus—potentially massive improvement to your accuracy when using Power Attack.
  • Antagonize—if you say you can expect it to work reliably, the effect is good.

  • Step Up—this feat remains amazing.

    • Following Step—ok, not amazing. The Dex requirement is really sad for you, but can be worth it because...

      • Step Up and Strike—free hits are nice, plus the mobility and stickiness are ideal for your goals.
  • Improved Bull Rush—not bad, as moving your foes away from your allies and putting yourself between them should go a long way towards protecting them. Usual problems with the combat maneuver math hurt here: at higher levels, CMB just doesn’t keep up with CMD and it becomes very difficult to succeed. Smite’s bonus to attack also applies to CMB, though, which does help.

    • Greater Bull Rush—a small bonus to bull rushing, which doesn’t really fix the mathematical problems, but giving allies a free attack is quite nice.
  • Focused Discipline—this feat is mediocre without the stamina rules, since fear effects aren’t used that constantly, but you’ll always pass and if you have the stamina rules, you can use it without anyone fearing you. The bonuses are only decent, but there are slim pickings at this point. Still better than, say, Weapon Focus.

  • Angelic Blood—as noted, awful on its own, necessary prerequisite.

    • Angel Wings—flight is absolutely crucial. You could use divine bond to get a flying mount; that would be cheaper and probably better, but mounts have a lot of shortcomings. If you want your own independent flight, two feats is a steep cost—but you may have a hard time doing better as a paladin, and whatever you do, you must get flight somehow. If this is how you do it, so be it.
  • Divine Fighting Technique—without knowing what gods you have available, it’s impossible to say which of these you can take. The big ones to look for are Desna’s (which the SRD calls Way of the Shooting Star), which allows you to use Charisma for attack and damage with starknives, and Gorum’s (which the SRD calls Greatsword Battler), which allows you to use Vital Strike at the end of a charge. Note that neither of these would be allowed to a paladin in Golarion, as these gods are not LG and the feat requires that you match the deity’s alignment.

    • If you take Desna’s starknife ability, the Charisma to your attack stat does not stack with smite. This is antisynergistic, because instead of getting Str+Cha to attack against a smitten target, you get only Cha. However, that makes for a great reason to use the sacred shield archetype: your smite isn’t as good for you anyway, so bastion of good becomes a much better deal. Note that this also affects combat maneuvers, as combat maneuvers are attack rolls, which is nice. Starknives can also be thrown, which is well worth considering.

    • If you take Gorum’s greatsword charging ability, you will want charge feats (most importantly, Spirited Charge) as well as the Vital Strike line. These feats are ordinarily rather poor on their own, but by being able to use both at once, they become much, much better.

  • Dirty Fighting—I save this for last because some GMs may decide to houserule this away from paladins. That’s awful, though, because despite the name, there is nothing particularly dirty about this feat. Instead, what it is is a lot of versatility in one feat. It means that no combat maneuver provokes for you if you’re flanking, and it counts as having Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike, Dex 13, and Int 13 for prerequisites, helping you improve them. It gives you a lot of flexibility, and smite gives you bonuses to CMB for any maneuver. Unfortunately, this feat is not yet on the SRD, but only found in Dirty Tactics Toolbox.

    • Barroom Brawler—again, names that don’t sound paladin-y, but an effect that’s perfectly suitable. This allows you to get a combat feat temporarily, allowing you to meet a lot of situations you wouldn’t otherwise be prepared for. This is a very good feat.

    • Improved Trip—tripping is fairly effective, particularly at low levels. Definitely not worth getting Int and Dex in order to take this with Combat Expertise. Really, really wants a reach weapon.

      • Combat Reflexes—if you really want to trip, this is how you trip well. Requires a fair amount of Dexterity, though, even more than Following Step and Step Up and Strike.

        • Greater Trip—requires even more AoOs, which means you’ll really need quite a bit of Dexterity to pull this off.
    • Improved Dirty Trick—Dirty trick is slightly “dirtier” than Dirty Fighting itself, but it’s also the best combat maneuver (just because of its versatility) and ultimately, nothing about it is any more underhanded that flanking, surprise rounds, and any number of other combat advantages that paladins are allowed and expected to enjoy. Definitely the best choice of combat maneuver if you go with starknives.

And something somewhat different:

  • Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot, Clustered Shots, Improved Precise Shot—these would largely be instead of most of the above feats. Could work with the starknife Divine Fighting Technique (definitely get a blinkback belt though), but most of the rest were melee-based. Archery, though, has a whole lot more feat-support, and deals a whole lot of damage even when you aren’t attacking a creature you’ve smitten. When you are, your accuracy and damage go way, way up.

Ultimately, the paladin has some fairly-solid defensive abilities in the form of divine grace and the auras; you do not need to spend feats on defense. Your out of combat healing is, similarly, quite adequate out of the box, and you do not need to spend feats on it. In-combat healing just isn’t effective enough, only useful in niche emergency situations. In those situations, just do what you have to do, but your feats need to be devoted to things you do all day, every day. Instead, my recommendations are devoted to eliminating threats as quickly as possible, and sticking to them in the interim to limit their ability to target your allies as much as you can. This matches your stated priorities, and is I think the most effective options you can take.

Unfortunately, as for order, that depends a lot on whether or not you can and want to use any of the Divine Fighting Techniques, and/or whether or not you can and want to leverage Dirty Fighting, and/or whether or not you are using the optional stamina point rules. Step Up is definitely something to take ASAP, and Power Attack and Furious Focus are similarly always-solid options. You say Antagonize will work for you, which helps a great deal. So those feats make the most sense as your top priorities no matter what.

But if you’re going with starknives, you want that ASAP because you want to dump Strength—which also means you’re probably not doing Power Attack. With Dirty Fighting and Barroom Brawler, you could do decently with combat maneuvers (aside from trip, which suffers so much without reach), particularly dirty tricks. Without, the archery line is almost-certainly your best bet there. Note that throwing allows you to combine both archery and TWF feats, but you probably won’t/shouldn’t have either the Dexterity or the feats for that.

Alternatively, if you can use the greatsword charging option, suddenly mounted feats and Vital Strike become high priorities, when they wouldn’t be taken at all otherwise. Most likely in that case you would want Power Attack, Furious Focus, Divine Fighting Technique, Vital Strike et al., Mounted Combat, Ride-by Attack, Spirited Charge, which will use up pretty much all your feats.

If doing neither, but allowed Dirty Fighting, getting a bit of Dexterity so you can trip as well as use the Step Up line seems in order. That will allow you to harass the opposition well and keep them off your allies. Remember that reach weapons are also two-handed, so you can and should still take Power Attack and Furious Focus. And Barroom Brawler is fantastic flexibility.

If stamina is in play, Focused Discipline is a quite-good feat for you no matter what you do. Without stamina, it’s lack-luster but still OK-ish. Fear happens enough.

And without any of those things, Power Attack, Furious Focus, Step Up, and Improved Bull Rush look best. Improvements to bull rush and Step Up follow those. Well, actually, at that point, archery is best, but besides that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if I'm willing to give up fay founding and greater mercy, especially if I'm not taking extra channel or selective channel which if that is the case begs the question as to if I should just forgo channeling totally and take the path of vengeance as it gives some fantastic options for offense. Everything else presented here is solid and well thought out. Thank you for the advice. I think this is more along the lines of what I'll do. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 23:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ViConstantine I would agree with that. You could use channel energy between combats to conserve charges on a wand of cure light wounds, but ultimately the wand charges are pretty cheap so that’s not a great savings. Channel energy is also faster, but that only matters if you have back-to-back encounters. Meanwhile, smite evil is pretty good and by far its biggest problem is the lack of uses, so more is definitely desirable. But even if you don’t go with oath of vengeance, Greater Mercy is probably a bust. It’s just too small. Fey Foundling is OK, but only for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 23, 2017 at 0:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am a little surprised honestly, I've never seen anyone bashing greater mercy, though I still think it's worth taking as I'd i need I can retrain it for more lay on hands later or something as more lay on hands would work well for the oath of V. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2017 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ViConstantine On average, Greater Mercy offers 3.5 HP. At 7th level, a paladin with moderate Constitution should have around 57 HP. As such, it represents about 6% of his HP. By 20th, the expected HP for this paladin is now at 214.5 HP, and Greater Mercy is still just 3.5 HP, representing just over 1.5% of the total HP. Meanwhile, you gain only 10 feats over the course of the entire game. 10% of a resource to restore 1.5-6% of your HP is not a good use of resources. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 23, 2017 at 0:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ViConstantine Actually, this site encourages people to answer their own questions, if that's what they went with. You are welcome to do that if you like. Hammer the Gap is a decent feat I had forgotten, and otherwise that looks reasonable enough selection to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 23, 2017 at 13:08

I have made some research in a libreoffice calc spreadsheet in which I inspected the possible effects and tradeoffs unto lay on hands via feat usage. The feats I analyzed were "extra lay on hands", "Greater Mercy" and "Fey foundling", and this chart is the resulted "Healing per day on average". The paladin takes as much "Extra lay on hands" as he/she can get. Do note it may have some room for human error, as I had to figure out 3 different tables of information. I've always thought that paladin excels the best at being a tank/offhealer, and his/her offensive capabilities increase just fine without much feat investment on that part.


  • I start the chart on assumption that you are able to get lay on hands at first level, but the relation between the two major curves shouldn't be too much off (which isn't actually the case on the actual game.)
  • on the greater curves you have access to lay on hands boosting gear (bracer's of merciful knight)
  • The chart does not take into account bonus Lay on hands uses per day from Charisma, as it should stay more or less same.

Lay on hands effects with various feats

TL;DR: I would suggest considering extra lay on hands (0-2) and use them as a swift action to heal yourself, making yourself way more tanky.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very well written and made and I appreciate it. I'm still unsure as to if I'd benefit more from the extra lay in hands or extra channel as the extra channel will allow me to heal not just myself but also my allies. Though, without the mercy bonus. This however, still doesn't exactly answer my question about feats and levels to which I need them. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ All GM's should allow Swift self-Lay on Hands, it's part of the ability (it's not a spell cast so you don't need a free hand) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 22, 2017 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ViConstantine Yeah sorry I was able to give feedback only on the lay on hands ability, but I thought that maybe someone somewhere sometime would gain inspiration from my information. \$\endgroup\$
    – PnP
    Feb 22, 2017 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It will be helpful regardless of if it's a full answer to my problem or not. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ViConstantine Also I wanted to note that taking cleave feats at that high level are pretty unnecessary. Your will have 3 iterative attacks already at that point and standard action for 2 into separate targets with an extra cost seems waste of feats. \$\endgroup\$
    – PnP
    Feb 22, 2017 at 18:19

My level 4 Pala has the following for tanking:

  • Level 1: Fey Foundling (Always gonna heal min 3)
  • Level 3: Greater Mercy (2d6 +4 is a nice self heal for a tank and healer can help others)
  • Level 4: Hero's Defiance (Spell): Good "Oh crap" button if you hit 0 health. Equates to 4d6+8 Health.
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't answer the OP's question. As written, this seems to be more of a comment suitable for a forum, but not SE. Please tailor your answer to fully respond to the original question. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2019 at 19:05

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