5 Paladin Multiclass Character Concepts Your Table Won't Expect
A Pathfinder RPG Guide
The paladin is one of the most iconic heroes of fantasy RPGs. Knights in shining armor, holy warriors, and more, these characters can accomplish truly astonishing feats of heroism through faith, and adherence to a rigorous code of honorable conduct. While there are a dozen different ways to play this class, one of the more interesting twists you can add is to multiclass your character. Because, as long as you maintain your lawful good alignment, you will also maintain all your class abilities.
Here are 5 multiclass marriages for your paladins that are sure to raise a few eyebrows, without breaking any of the game's rules. Additionally, keep in mind that these combinations are meant for the Pathfinder RPG. So while they might be applicable in other editions, don't be surprised if they don't translate well to different games.
You may also find that my article 5 Tips For Playing Better Paladins meshes well with some of these suggestions. Also, my gaming blog Improved Initiative is a great place to go for even more character concepts and inspiration. Lastly, if you'd like even more gaming pieces like this one, then stop in and take a look at my Gamers archive while you're here!
Multiclass #1: The Rogue
Rogues are often thought of as shifty backstabbers, masked brigands, or out-and-out thugs who will break any leg, or slit any throat, to get the job done. And that's certainly one, possible way to play the rogue class. However, it's important to note that rogues can be of any alignment. This includes The Lawful Good Rogue, which is an archetype so rarely played that Kobold Press has a whole blog entry about it.
The rogue has a lot to offer a paladin. Sneak attack is a good way to add some extra damage in combat, and a two-level dip gives you evasion. With a paladin's saves, that makes it unlikely you'll ever take damage from a fireball again. You also gain trapfinding, and rogue talents like Trapspotter can be invaluable to those who are always leading the charge into a dark dungeon. That's in addition to the slew of skill points and class skills you gain access to.
So what do these characters look like? Well, it might be the field operative who's sent in alone to try and rescue hostages when the forces of good don't want to risk an all-out assault. It might be the watch commander whose constant battles with the city's criminal underbelly has taught her a few tricks of the trade. It could even represent a paladin who was taught to think outside the box, but inside the code, when it came to solving problems. The sort of individuals you might find among the scouts, detectives, and bounty hunters featured in 100 Random Mercenary Companies, for instance.
Multiclass #2: The Swashbuckler
When most people think of paladins, they think of big, armored tanks with huge shields strapped to one arm. After all, if the class gives you heavy armor proficiency along with shield proficiency, then why wouldn't you use it? However, there's nothing in the literature that says paladins are required to stomp around in an entire foundry's worth of steel when they're in the field. You can, instead, choose to wear light armor, and let the combination of your faith, magic, and a shirt of mithril keep you safe. You can even opt for a faster, lighter weapon to go along with your less cumbersome defense.
That's where the swashbuckler from the Advanced Class Guide comes in. This class grants you swashbuckler's finesse, which means there's no need to eat a feat slot for Weapon Finesse, and your panache points come from your Charisma modifier. If you take at least three levels, then you get bonus damage with light and one-handed piercing weapons, and you also gain additional deeds like Swashbuckler's Initiative, which can be quite a boon to those who want to go first when the combat round starts.
So what sort of characters would have this combination? Well, they might come from nations where the heat prohibits heavy armor, forcing them to adapt to a faster, more skilled style of fighting. These characters might come from urban areas, where the full-plate you'd find in a theater of war is a cumbersome death trap, and it's just more efficient to strap on a spiked gauntlet when you go to work. Church enforcers, duelists, and bravos would all find the combination of panache, deeds, and paladin powers is a force to be reckoned with.
Multiclass #3: The Ninja
Wait a second, didn't we just do this one? Well, while the ninja from Ultimate Combat does have the rogue as a parent class, it is its own, unique base class with its own features and advantages. For instance, ninjas don't get evasion. Instead, they get a ki pool. They also gain access to unique ninja tricks, like Flurry of Stars, which lets you throw more shuriken as part of a full-attack action (and, of course, each shuriken gets sneak attack and smite damage, if the attack qualifies for such), or Smoke Bomb, which can turn combat into utter chaos when you huck a few of those around.
It should be noted, though, that while a ninja can be of any alignment, some of their class abilities don't exactly mesh well with a paladin's code. For example, ninjas are trained in poison use, and that tends to be a big no-no for most paladins. However, trained-in and actively-uses are two separate things. So yes, this particular combination does prohibit some of the ninja's class features from being used if you want to maintain your paladin status. Unless, of course, you combine it with the Gray Paladin archetype from Ultimate Intrigue, which is a little more... flexible.
What would this sort of character be like? Well, she might be a wandering hero, working behind the scenes instead of in the field to topple corrupt dynasties or wicked gang lords. It might be a vigilante who uses smoke and mirrors to keep evildoers on their back foot, so that when he does strike it's never in a way they anticipated. It might even be a member of the inquisition for whom righteousness is a keen knife, instead of a hammer.
Also, remember not to get too hung up on the name. For more on that, check out the post If You Want to Play a Ninja, But Your DM Said No, Try Calling it "The Agent" Instead.
Multiclass #4: The Bloodrager
Have you ever wanted to play a barbarian/paladin combo, but you couldn't because barbarians can't be lawful? Well, might I direct your attention to the bloodrager, another favorite brought to us by the Advanced Class Guide. This sorcerer/barbarian combo gives you spellcasting capabilities based on your Charisma score, and a bloodline (for this combination I recommend the Celestial one), but more importantly, it gives you Bloodrage, which is the same as regular Rage for all intents and purposes. Best of all, though, bloodragers can be of any alignment!
The question you really need to ask with this combination is which of the two classes is getting more levels? Because a few levels of bloodrager can give you some early bloodline powers as well as Bloodrage, which will nicely supplement your paladin abilities. On the other hand, a few levels of paladin would be quite a boon to a bloodrager who wants a little extra divine backing when he goes up against the hordes of the abyss.
What does this combination look like? That's up to you! Is it an aasimar with an earthbreaker, reporting for duty at the latest demonic crusade, looking to push back the tide by himself if that's what it takes? Is it someone with an infernal fire burning in her eyes, hoping to turn her inborn gifts, and her faith, against the darkness of the world? Or is it someone who is descended from great wizards, but who found his calling from the divine instead of the arcane?
Multiclass #5: The Skald
Another Advanced Class Guide favorite, skalds are considered by some to be the bigger, badder, heavy metal version of the bard. The skald is a class that has no time for your excuses. It allows you to create a Raging Song, which benefits not only you, but also your allies. It gives you spells drawn from the bard list, which are cast off your Charisma, and you can cast spells in light or medium armor like a bloodrager. You also get bardic knowledge, and the associated bonuses, using your skald level. If you pair that with a paladin, then you have someone who is more than capable of standing on the front line, and bellowing war chants to the rest of the party, helping them stay in-step and swing with each other as you push the darkness back.
The same difficulty you run into with the bloodrager is also in evidence with the skald, though. Do you want to boost your skald with paladin powers like Smite and Divine Grace, or do you want to use Raging Song, and other low-level skald powers to boost your paladin and the party? The two classes utilize the same stats for power, which makes them dovetail nicely, but you need to know what you intend to accomplish with this combo.
What do these characters look like? Well, they might be great, shaggy reavers from out of the north, who take up ax, prayer, and song to slay the ice trolls who've been kidnapping children. They might be judges and community leaders, whose wisdom and social grace allows them to find solutions without once drawing steel. They might even be leaders of the march, using their leather-lunged bellows to keep soldiers in time, and banish fear from their companions' hearts once battle is joined.