Pathfinder - The Warpriest Handbook
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.
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.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
The Warpriest is a combination of the Fighter and the Cleric, but manages to be distinctively different from the Paladin. The Warpriest depends more heavily on spells than the Paladin, and have very few defensive class abilities. Fervor allows the Warpriest to rely on self-buffing spells without cutting into damage output, and the Warpriest's abilities are full of great buff options usable as a Swift Action.
Warpriest Class Features
Hit Points: d8 hit points is hard for a combat class, but the Warpriest has enough options to get by on d8 hit points.
Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is enough to get by in combat, but the Warpriest can't match a Fighter in terms of raw martial skill.
Saves: Good Fortitude and Will saves, especially because Warpriests need Wisdom for their spells. Reflex saves will be a problem.
Proficiencies: Martial weapons, heavy armor, shields, and Improved Unarmed Strike if it's your deity's favored weapon.
Skills: With 2+ skill ranks and no other need for Intelligence, the Warpriests skills are very thin.
Spells: Warpriests are 2/3 casters, and select their spells from the Cleric spell list. This allows a huge number of fantastic options, and allows you to change your role in the party on a daily basis.
Aura: This almost never comes up.
Blessings: Warpriest Blessings offer a lot of very interesting options to fit your play style. For help selecting Blessings, see my Warpriest Blessing Breakdown.
Focus Weapon: Weapon Focus for free gives you a nice +1 to attacks, but locks you into one weapon for the rest of your career.
Orisons: Versatile and fantastic. Don't underestimate the effectiveness of Virtue at low levels.
Sacred Weapon: Sacred Weapon is a very weird mechanic which allows you to override your weapon's normal damage die with the one specified for your Sacred Weapon. This damage won't surpass a longsword until 10th level, but because the damage die scales and using a two-handed weapon doesn't change it, you might be able to do something clever with Vital Strike at high levels. Be sure to get yourself permanently enlarged so that you get the bigger dame dice. You also get the ability to magically enhance your weapon for a few rounds per day similar to a Magus or Paladin. Being limited to rounds/day is unfortunate, but it adds some nice versatility to your weapon.
Spontaneous Casting: The Warpriest can spontaneously cast cure/inflict spells just like a Cleric.
Bonus Languages: Pointless. Either cast Tongues or spend a couple of ranks on Linguistics.
Fervor: This is absolutely amazing. You can use Fervor to heal yourself or someone else like a crappy version of Lay on Hands, or you can cast any Warpriest spell on yourself as a Swift action. This means that you can cast effectively Quickened, Stilled spells at 2nd level, which is fantastic for useful buffs with short durations that you can't predict needing before a fight starts, and you don't need to juggle your weapon to find a free hand to cast with.
Bonus Feats: Free feats, and you get access to Fighter-only feats like Weapon Specialization and Disruptive.
Channel Energy: Channel Energy is nice as an AOE heal for your party, but it consumes two uses of Fervor. Because Fervor is so powerful and allows so few uses per day, Channel Energy should be a used very sparingly.
Sacred Armor: Unlike Sacred Weapon, the Warpriest can enhance their armor for minutes/level. This is great when you don't have other buffs which you need to cast using Fervor, or when you're low on spells. By 7th level you should easily be able to use this in every fight in a day.
Aspect of War: This is a fantastic buff.
The following abilities assume that you're planning to play a melee Warpriest, which is likely considering that Warpriests get heavy armor. If you plan to play a ranged Warpriest, switch Strength and Dexterity.
Str: Your primary offensive ability.
Dex: You need at most 12 to max out full plate and to give you a bit of help with the Warpriest's poor Reflex saves.
Con: Everyone needs hit points.
Int: Used for nothing but skills. If your party can cover your skill needs, dump to 7.
Wis: Your spellcasting ability, and determines uses per day for several Warpriest abilities.
Cha: Used for nothing but skills. Dump to 7.
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Bonuses to Strength and Wisdom are great, and bonuses to Constitution will help compensate for the Warpriest's d8 hit points.
Dwarf: Bonuses to two of the Warpriest's most important abilities, a penalty to the Warpriest's dump stat, Darkvision, and a bunch of really great resistances. The Dwarf favored class bonus offers a few extra uses per day of the Warpriest's Blessings, but you need to use specific blessings.
Elf: Nothing useful for the Warpriest.
Gnome: Absolutely nothing good for the Warpriest.
Half-Elf: Flexible ability bonus, bot nothing specifically helpful for the Warpriest. You can trade in some alternate racial features to make the Half-Elf a bit more appealing, like the Ancestral Weapons trait which can let you use something cool like a Falcata as your Sacred Weapon. The Half-Elf favored class bonus is awful, but Half-Elves can also take the Elf or Human favored class bonuses, and getting bonus combat feats is a great option. If you're planning to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency, the Half-Elf is essentially equal to the Human.
Half-Orc: Flexible ability bonus and Darkvision. The Half-Orc favored class bonus is garbage unless you plan to spend a lot of time dying, so take the Human favored class bonus instead for some free combat feats.
Halfling: Absolutely nothing good for the Warpriest.
Human: Fantastic and versatile. The flexible ability bonus can go in either Strength or Wisdom depending on your play style. The Human favored class bonus gets you extra combat feats, which may be the best favored class bonus in the game.
- Climb (Str): Too situational.
- Diplomacy (Cha): Essential for any Face, but Charisma is a dump stat for the Warpriest.
- Handle Animal (Cha): The Warpriest doesn't get a pet to train.
- Heal (Wis): Excellent supplement to magical healing, and the Warpriest should have decent Wisdom.
- Intimidate (Cha): Essential for any Face, but Charisma is a dump stat for the Warpriest.
- Knowledge (engineering) (Int): Situational.
- Knowledge (religion) (Int): One of the most important Knowledge skills.
- Ride (Dex): The Warpriest doesn't get a mount to ride.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Essential for any Face, but Charisma is a dump stat for the Warpriest.
- Spellcraft (Int): Great for identifying spells and magic items.
- Survival (Wis): Situational.
- Swim (Str): Too situational.
- Channeled Blessing: The range on Channel Energy is puny. Walk over and deliver the blessing.
- Vital Strike: The Warpriest's scaling Sacred Weapon damage is very exciting alongside Vital Strike, but the damage won't match a Large Bastard Sword (the gold standard of Vital Strike) until 20th level. However, Sacred Weapon works with any weapon, so you might consider access to a shield or a weapon which works with weapon finesse an acceptable compromise.
Because your weapon's damage scales thanks to Sacred Weapon, go for something with cool abilities or a high threat range like a flail or a scimitar. You're not limited to your deity's favored weapon by any of the Warpriest's abilities.
Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.
- Hide: Good, cheap starting armor if you don't want to spend the gold to get four-mirror.
- Four-Mirror: The best AC bonus which you can afford at level 1.
- Heavy Shield: Great for the AC bonus, but using a heavy shield makes it difficult to cast spells because you need to drop your weapon or shield to get a free hand. However, many GMs will hand-waive this rule.
- Buckler: Superior to the light shield in every way, but you can switch to using a weapon two-handed without dropping it, and you always have a hand free to cast spells.
- Full Plate: The best armor you can get.
- Sacred (+1): A fun way to share your blessings with your allies and improve your action economy a little bit.
- Clawhand Shield (8,158 gp): This is a weird item. It's a bit more expensive than your typical +2 shield, so it may not be worth the cost compared to a mithral buckler. However, it allows you to perform somatic components with the hand holding the shield, which means that you can hold a weapon in your other hand without issue, and because it has no armor check penalty or arcane spell failure anyone can use it without issue3. The ability to automatically damage enemies while in a grapple is a helpful deterrent for small or physical weak characters, but ion't go looking for excuses to use it.
It's difficult to recommend specific staffs without knowing your individual character, so instead I want to make a general endorsement of the concept of magic staffs in Pathfinder. If you are a 3.5 native, go read Pathfinder's rules for staffs because they have improved dramatically.
Staffs are a reliable, rechargeable source of extra spellcasting that can give spellcasters easy and reliable access to spells from their spell list which they might not want to learn, or which they might like to use so frequently that they can't prepare the spell enough times in a given day. On days when you're not adventuring (traveling, resting, etc.) you can easily recharge any staff even if you can only cast one of the spells which the staff contains.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
The Warpriest is already a hybrid class, so there is little reason to multiclass further.