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Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Channel Energy


I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.


Channel Energy is Pathfinder's version of the "Turn Undead" from 3.5. Late in the days of 3.5 WotC finally figured out that Channel Energy was situational, hard to use, required constantly referencing a table, and was so ineffective that many players preferred to ignore it rather than the take the time to learn how to use use Turn Undead. To address this, many 3.5 supplements include "Turning Feats" which allowed Clerics, Paladins, and other characters to use their daily Turn Undead uses to produce other effects, such as energy resistance, bonuses to saves, or healing.

The folks at Paizo learned from these events, and Channel Energy is instead an AOE burst of positive or negative energy. This serves as both an AOE heal and as an AOE blast which targets undead. With a little bit of optimization, Channel Energy can be turned into a powerful addition to your character's other abilities.


The first step in using Channel Energy is to select a class. Several classes and archetypes provide access to Channel Energy in one form or another. Remember that Channel Energy depends on Charisma for its DC, and often for its uses per day, so classes which already depend on Charisma are generally your best bet.

Cleric: The iconic Channel Energy user, Clerics get Channel Energy at first level, but most can't afford to devote enough Charisma to be truly skilled with it. Clerics get 3+Charisma uses per day.

Cleric (Merciful Healer): The Merciful Healer gives up the ability to channel negative energy or to use Channel Energy to harm undead for the ability to remove status conditions when channeling.

Oracle (Life Mystery): The Life Mystery Oracle only gets 1+Charisma uses per day of Channel Energy, but with enough Charisma to be a full caster, this should be plenty to beat Clerics and likely enough to beat Paladins at any given level. The Oracle's DC is also likely to be higher than that of a Cleric or Paladin.

Paladin: Though Channel Positive Energy uses two charges of the Paladin's Lay On Hands ability, a Paladin will generally have more Charisma than a Cleric, and by level 12 can get 3+Charisma uses per day. Because they depend on Charisma more, a Paladin's DC will likely be higher than a Cleric's.

Paladin (Hospitaler): The Hospitaler gives the Paladin a base 3+Charisma uses per day of Channel Energy, but adds a -3 level penalty to your effective Cleric level, handicapping your damage.

Paladin (Sacred Servant): In addition to the Paladin's already fantastic ability to Channel Energy, the Sacred Servant can enhance their holy symbol with abilities which buff Channel Energy.

Warpriest: The Warpriest can use Channel Energy, but gets reduced healing/damage. Fortunately, the Channeled Blessing feat adds a cool new way for the Wapriest to buff allies.

Witch (Hex Channeler): An awful waste of the Witch's Hex slots.

Wizard BNecromancy School): Access to Command or Turn Undead, two of the least interesting uses for Channel Energy, and you can't change the usage with feats.