Subsystems and You 3: Variant Divine Bonds for Paladins
Another week, another look into various aspects of the Pathfinder Roleplaying game! This time we’re looking at an expansion of the paladin divine bonds that showed up in Healer’s Handbook!
For your basic paladin without any archetypes, paladin bonds come in two forms, bonding divine spirits into their weaponry to temporarily enhance their power, or gaining a mount that is itself enhanced by that same divine influence. Even certain archetypes gain the same, imbuing or summoning divinely blessed armor and shields, infused with a divine possessing spirit to grant them additional abilities.
This pattern of divine infusion continues with these variant infusions, but instead of their equipment or animal companions, they instead infuse the paladin directly, granting them new abilities for a short while. The exact nature of the being varies, but the type determines what abilities the paladin gains, giving us three variants to choose from.
Calling upon an agathion to bond with, the first variant infuses the hands of the paladin with healing power, the agathion bond increasing the healing potential of their lay on hands, their curative spells, and even channeled energy. Such paladins are natural medics and hospitalers, able to keep allies on their feet, or calling on the spirit to aid others in or after horrible disasters.
Those that bond with angels, on the other hand, find themselves imbued with their energies, similar to empyreal knights, manifesting a shining, resplendent halo that fills the area around them with divine light. Allies and innocents alike within it find themselves warded against harm from the wicked. Naturally, these paladins are guardians foremost, more so than other paladins, using their halo’s aura to protect others first, rather than focusing on their own defense. That being said, the aura does also imply that the paladin does trust others to defend themselves in addition to that protection, since they are not required to throw themselves in front to grant said added defense.
Archons, on the other hand, grant some of their raw menace, causing the paladin’s eyes to blaze with righteous fury that unnerves and weakens foes that glimpse them. Such an ability makes them more proactive in their efforts to defend others, weakening the forces of evil to make them less effectual against themselves and their charges before smiting them.
And there you have it! A nice expansion to the abilities of the paladin that provide an additional flair and support potential to the class. I would argue that technically only one of the bonds has anything to do with healing, which makes it an odd choice for the Healer’s Handbook, but they’re just so interesting that I can’t really complain. If you’re interested in a character that literally feels the holy power of the upper planes flowing through them, this might be a fun way to realize that. Obviously, they don’t really work with archetypes that replace or alter the divine bond, so keep that in mind.
Next time, we’ll look into a system that’s less useful for traditional adventures, but great for downtime and for the base builder in all of us.