Character Concepts will be familiar to any of you who have seen the Quintessential series before, but Alejandro has really taken the heroic mould of the paladin to heart, so we are treated to the Appointed (a hero by fate), the Child of Legend (the king who will be) and the Paragon (would have been perfect for Sir Agamar, my own Elven Paladin, were he not already a Noble), among many others. The Prestige Paladin takes these ideas further with ideas such as the Champion of the Deep, the Demon Hunter, the Justicar, the Knight Templar, the Lord Protector, the Martyr (tempting, in a strange way), the Revolutionary, the Sacred Smith, the Shadow Champion, the Sovereign King (Agamar is _so_ there for this one) and Zealot.
Tricks of the Trade comes loaded, and is one of the most extensive yet seen in a Quintessential book. There is a large section on Mounted Combat, allowing Paladins (or any other character, for that matter) the chance to pull off some truly heroic moves from the back of a mount. By meditating and paying an appropriate XP cost, Paladins can also alter and supplement their detect evil ability. For example, they can gain an active sense, which will warn them when evil is approaching while they sleep. This goes up to the ability to track an evil creature's passage using this supernatural sense alone. The Power of Faith is detailed, allowing Paladins to channel their divine abilities into combat prayers and other means of protection - when Sir Agamar now cries out 'Torm, Guide my Hand!', it is actually going to do something in combat. . . Perhaps more fun will be when the party Wizard gets it in the neck from an Orc axe (again) and Sir Agamar can cry out 'No, Torm, Take Me Instead!' It will hurt, but it may just save
the spellcaster. . . On top of all this, Oaths can be taken, granting a small bonus to the Paladin, but laying some heavy obligations upon him. The Oath of Fealty can be given to a patron, the Oath of Friendship to a close ally, while the Oath of Binding is an intimate one normally reserved for spouses and lovers. For Paladins looking to further affirm their worldly outlook, a variety of Vows may also be taken. The Vow of Poverty looks interesting, but I cannot really say it is for Agamar, not the Vow of Silence. However, a Vow of Truthfulness (granting him a +2 bonus to all Sense Motive checks taken to detect falsehoods) seems a fair swap for never uttering a lie. No matter how many times it gets the party in trouble. Ever had that problem when a Paladin is in the party?
Paladin Feats are spread between his martial and spiritual abilities. Born Leader will cause people to flock to your banner, while Pure of Heart will deny the effects of many mind-affecting attacks. The Holy Charge is a godsend to Paladins who love lances, while Remove Enchantment extends the remove disease ability to curses, transmutations, petrification and, of course, enchantments (caster check still needed).
Funnily enough, Tools of the Trade is not loaded with weapons and armour (though the Dire Lance may have to be tried out). There are plenty of ornate sword guards, handles and grips (the purpose of this decoration will become clear later), and items such as surcoats can also be used as holy symbols (as well as let everyone in the area know Agamar has arrived!). New scabbards are available, as are prayer books (halve the time needed for prayer when in the field), pennants and banners (when blessed can extend aura of courage). Reliquaries allow a Paladin who crafts them to use magical items far more easily in battle, while tokens are an outward sign of religious devotion that can cause the eye of the gods to look your way just when you need it most.
A big chapter comes next - Holy Weapons. Speaking from experience, a Paladin's weapon can be just as important to him as his mount. There are a few choices here, starting with Bonded Weapons which a Paladin becomes spiritually tied to. Beyond this relatively simple ritual, you also have Relics (which must be crafted), Bond Companions (which take the place of a special mount - or may be taken in addition to if you are willing to lose an
entire level) and, Agamar's new friend, the Custos, a weapon that has become bound with a celestial being. You get lots of new cool things to try with a Custos and it is superbly customisable - however, speaking from experience,
it will be a permanent drain on XPs, as your weapon can actually increase in power either through XP donated to it, or XP it takes from your total whenever you slay creatures. In return, however, Agamar now has a greatsword that comes back to his hand whenever he calls for it, sings rallying songs and will grant another enhancement bonus when we next both go up a level. The Custos is treated as a separate character, and actually has a choice of character classes to choose from, which shape its abilities - you can have a Chainbreaker, Crusader, Darkbane, Fiendslayer or Truthbearer. Holy Weapons are the perfect choice for the Paladin who spends a lot of time underground and so does not really get a chance to use a special mount (and I could never see Agamar on the back of a big lizard!!!).
However, if you _do_ have a special mount, then the Special Mounts chapter is just for you. Exotic mounts are covered (such as constructs and fey) but I think most will be drawn to the new types of mount. The one in the PHB is now defined as a Warmount - a general, all purpose companion. However, you can now specialise your mount into a Counsel, Traveller, Overseer (love this one, it owes its loyalty to a higher power and is _not_ always at the
Paladin's beck and call), and Mentor, all with slightly differing abilities, progressions and unique talents. The Traveller, for example, has superb endurance, while the Mentor can pass on the Gift of Learning to his Paladin, granting access to new Knowledge skills (which can be very handy when looking at some of the new prestige classes).
If Oaths and Vows are not enough for your Paladin (we Paladins _do_ like making our own lives difficult, eh?), then the Codes of Honour chapter will be right up your street. Here you can define your very own code of honour by which to live, selecting all manner of tenets and their severity. Sample codes of honour are listed for examples, including the Code of Piety, Code of Chivalry, Code of Bushido and Code of Knightly Virtues. Unfortunately
for Agamar, none of these place glory very highly (his one weakness - well, that and sheer arrogance).
Ever played a Paladin who uttered those immortal words 'Lady, I will make it a holy quest to free your son, the Prince, from his evil uncle?' Or something similar. Well, now that too can be a very real thing with the Champion of a Cause, with Paladins now able to declare certain actions as quests and gain certain bonuses along the way. However, incomplete quests can be a serious drain on the paladin, so you had better be sure you know what your Games Master is planning before you make too many promises. . . In addition to this, Paladins can adopt Causes of Law and Good in place of feats, which are similar to granted powers given to Clerics by their domains. These become real principles by which a Paladin lives his life - for example, a Paladin can adopt Defence, Peace or Compassion as a Cause. There is also the chance to pledge oneself to a patron, be they mortal or a deity.
Paladin Magic is a small chapter, but includes a few new spells for Paladins to get their teeth into. Aura of Glory can temporarily boost Charisma, one of the Paladin's most useful ability scores, while Merciful Weapon converts all damage to subdual. One seriously useful spell that will be entering Agamar's repertoire is Summon Armour - bless your suit of armour then be able to instantly call it back to you once (donning it automatically) - perfect for those night time raids on the party's camp.
The book winds up with Chapterhouses, an in-depth look at Paladin Orders and their places of power - just imagine, it will not be long before a new breed of Paladin emerges from the Silver Marches, all thinking just like Sir Agamar. Torm help the Realms. . .
Author: Alejandro Melchor
Format: Softback (128 pages)