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Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Channel Energy

Last Updated: October 15th, 2018


I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.

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Temporary Note: Paizo has recently discontinued support of their official SRD. From this point forward SRD links on RPGBOT.net will instead link to d20PFSRD.com. While Archive of Nethys is now Paizo's officially licensed partner for the purposes of serving the Pathfinder SRD, Archive of Nethys is a horribly designed website and it simply doesn't match d20PFSRD's ability to keep pace with published content and d20PFSRD's search functionality.

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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 beet Paladins at any given level. The Oracle's DC is also going to be higher than that of a Cleric or Paladin because of their emphasis on Charisma.

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 (Necromancy 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.

Prestige Classes

That's right, there's a prestige class that likes Channel Energy!

Sacred Vindicator: Full BAB, full Channel Energy advancement, partial spellcasting advancement, and a couple of fun new ways to use Channel Energy. Vindicator's Shield is a huge AC buff, and even though it works through your shield (by the way, you need to be holding a shield) it's a Sacred/Profane bonus to AC so it works for your flat-footed AC and touch AC. It goes away if you're hit, but with this and a couple of other defensive options (full plate a shield and a spell or two) you'll be so hard to hit that it won't matter. Now, the class is not without problems. The big focus on the class is on the Stigmata ability. It's neat, but self-inflicted bleed means that when you turn it on your have a timer measured by your hit points. Expect to spend a lot of time recovering hit points after a fight if you go beyond first level. Of course, Vindicator's Shield might be worth a single-level dip, even though the feat prerequisite for the class isn't fantastic.



The "Sacred Conduit" feat is basically required for any Channel Energy build. +1 to the DC is fantastic, and it's the only trait that does anything for Channel Energy.