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Pathfinder 2e - The Champion Handbook

Last Updated: January 27th, 2020

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • 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.

Introduction

The Champion is a big, tanky brute with some divine flavor. Capable of both withstanding and dealing great amounts of damage, the champion is a well-rounded Defender with a grea theme and interesting mechanics. However, because only Good-aligned options have been published, the Champion can often feel unwelcome in a party of adventurers who might stray from the "good" end of the alignment chart.

In Dungeons and Dragons and in Pathfinder 1e, the Champion was called the "Paladin", and was historically locked into Lawful-Good alignment, along with a strict code of conduct which made it difficult to include paladins in a party of characters who might not be good-aligned. The Paladin's strict moral code has been a subject of derision for decades, and only in recent years did DnD and Pathfinder entertain the idea of paladins of less rigid alignments. DnD now allows paladins of any alignment in the core rules, Pathfinder 1e publish archetypes for other alignments, and Pathfinder 2e allows three types of Good-aligned Champions. Still, your allies may find your character's rigid morality frustrating, so discuss the matter with your party before brining a champion into the game.

In a party, the Champion's primary role is a Defender, and few classes can fill that role so well with so little effort. Depending on your selection of skills and class feats, the Champion can also serve as a Face, a Healer, and Striker, though they may not be so effective at healing as the Cleric since they lack a broad list of spells. The Champion is notably the only class that gets proficiency in spell attacks and spell DCs without getting an actual spell list, which makes it easy for the Champion to multiclass itno classes with the Divine spell list like the Cleric and the Sorcerer (with the right bloodline, of course).

Champion Class Features

Key Ability: The choice between Strength or Dexterity means that you can build for a variety of weapons. Even if you plan to use heavy armor (and you should, both for the higher AC and the Armor Specialization Effects), you have plenty of ability score increases to raise your Strength enough that your armor won't be a problem.

Hit Points: 10+ is standard for front-line martial classes.

Initial Proficiencies: The Champion has some of the best defensive proficiencies in the game, and their weapon proficiencies are as good as any other martial class except the Fighter. The Champion also gets as many Trained skills as most classes, but you're locked into two of them so you have much less flexibility than other classes.

  • Perception: The worst Perception progression in the game.
  • Saving Throws: Good Fortitude and Will save progressions, but poor Reflex save progression.
  • Skills: A total of 4+, but you're locked into Religion, and one comes from your Deity so you have very few actual choices compared to other classes.
  • Attacks: Simple and Martial weapons, and your proficiencies improve at the same rate as other martial classes, giving the Champion weapon proficinecies better than anyone except the Fighter.
  • Defenses: Proficiency with heavy armor, and the best armor proficiency in the game. The Champion is the only class to reach Legendary proficiency with armor.
  • Class DC: Among the best Class DC progressions in the game.

Deity and Cause: See "Subclasses - Deity and Cause", below.

Deific Weapon: Nice to have, but rarely significant.

Devotion Spells: Devotion Spells are the Champion's Focus Spells. In addition, you get proficiency with Divine spell attacks and spell DC's so getting access to some divine spells can be very effective. Your spellcasting proficiencies aren't as good as those of dedicated spellcasting classes, but they're better than the Warpriest and they advance faster than characters who are taking multiclass feats to get proficiency.

Champion Feats: See Champion feats, below.

Shield Block: It's difficult to choose to use a shield without this feat, so getting it for free is helpful. If you really like shields, you might consider taking the Shield Ally feature to improve their effectiveness. However, keep in mind that you only have one Reaction and Shield Block will need to compete with your Champion's Reaction.

Skill Feats: Standard for everyone except the Rogue.

Divine Ally: Your choice of Divine Ally is a significant decision point that can't be changed. Blade Ally is the go-to for two-handed weapon users, but it's still good for one-handed weapon users. Shield Ally is great for sword-and-board builds, and class feats will improve your ability to use your shield. Steed Ally is essential for mounted builds, but beware the number of feats you'll need to spend to keep your Animal Companion useful. If you're having trouble deciding, remember than you can take the Second Ally feat to get another, though you may have trouble finding enough feat slots to make both allies meaningful.

  • Blade Ally: None of the runes are particularly expensive, but they're still good options. If you like to use special attacks like tripping and disarming, use Shifting. If you're using something throwable like a spear, use Returning. Disrupting and Ghost Touch are only situationally useful, so save those for days where you expect to face relevant opponents. This is notably the Champion's only way to get access to Critical Specialization effects, and since the Champion's Class DC is so good the DC to resist their effects is very high.
  • Shield Ally: The Hardness of your shield determines how much damage you can negate with Shield Block. Adding more hardness and more hit points means that your shield will last longer and protect you better. However, the additional points won't scale as you gain levels, and damage from single attacks will continue to scale so you can't rely on this alone. As you gain levels, be sure to invest in magical shields or shields made of special materials. In the event that your shield is broken or destroyed, you can grab a spare. The effect appears to apply to any shield that you use, rather than a specific shield or one you picked during your daily preparations.
  • Steed Ally: Riding a horse that isn't an animal companion in Pathfinder is an expensive way to quickly own a dead horse. The way damage and hit points scale make mundane mounts totally unusable beyond very low levels. If you plan to ride a horse (and there are good reasons to do so), you need an Animal Companion. If you choose Steed Ally, be sure to read my Practical Guide to Animal Companions.

General Feats: Standard.

Ability Boosts: Standard.

Ancestry Feats: Standard.

Weapon Specialization: More damage on weapon attacks.

Champion Expertise: The best Class DC progression in the game, and your spellcasting proficiencies are good too.

Divine Smite: This adds a way to add persistent Good damage to your Champion's Reaction. Persistent Damage is nice, and by this level you should have 18 or more Charisma.

Juggernaut: Better Fortitude saves.

Lightning Reflexes: Better Reflex saves is great, but you're still only Expert.

Alertness: Better Perception is great, but you're still only Expert.

Divine Will: Better Will saves

Exalt: A significant improvement to your Champion's Reaction.

Armor Mastery: The best Armor proficiency in the game.

Weapon Mastery : Standard for most martial classes, so your attacks keep pace with everyone except the Fighter.

Greater Weapon Specialization: More damage on weapon attacks. Tragically, you'll never reach Legendary with weapon proficiencies.

Champion Mastery: Better class DCs and Divine spellcasting proficiencies.

Legendary Armor: The only class to reach Legendary in any armor, so you likely have the highest AC around.

Hero's Defiance: See "Focus Spells", below.

Subclasses - Deity and Cause

The first, and possibly most important benefit of your subclass is the Champion's Reaction. This is a powerful option for using your Reaction which can have a huge impact on the way your character works in combat.

These Reactions all occur when enemies target your allies, and the conditions of the Reactions require that your ally and your enemy be within 15 feet of you. This forces the Champion into melee, and it means that your Champion's Reaction may not see consistent use if your allies prefer to stay far out of melee combat.

Liberator

The Liberator is great at facing enemies that like to restrict their targets' movement with conditions like Grappled and Paralyzed. While those conditions can absolutely be a problem for your party, the creatures which rely on them are only a fraction of the total number of foes you might face. Against those specific foes you'll be very important, but the rest of the time the most you'll get out of your Champion's Reaction is the ability to reduce some damage and let your allies Step. Those are fantastic things to do, but compared to other sublcasses the Liberator just can't compete across the broad spectrum of possible scenarios.

  • Champion's Reaction: Liberating Step: The reduced damage is consistently useful, but the rest is situational. Effects that grab, paralyze, etc. your allies can be a huge problem, but hopefully they leave you with time on your own turn to do something about them. If you find yourself with a paralyzed ally, consider throwing an angry rat at them. The rat will attack them and will probably be considered an enemy, and it won't do enough damage to get past the damage resistance, so you can give your allies extra saves against conditions which restrain their ability to move.
  • Divine Smite: Situational. This will only be useful against foes who rely on options which restrain your movement.
  • Exalt: Finally something that doesn't rely on enemies trying to grab your or something! A Step could save one or more of your allies an Action on their turn, making this a significant improvement to your whole party's action economy. You still need to be withing 15 ft. of the allies you want to affect, unfortunately, but the allies close to you in melee are the ones who really need this.

Paladin

Do you hate evil? Do you want to respond to evil with some simple, straight-forward violence? That's the Paladin. Their Champion's Reaction and their feat options emphasize offense, granting you additional attacks and damage. Paladins will often favor two-handed weapons for the extra damage output, and reach weapons are a great idea so that you can more easily rely upon Retributive Strike.

  • Champion's Reaction: Retributive Strike: Reduce damage to your ally, and potentially make a melee Strike as part of the Reaction. A great reason to use a weapon with reach, but you can also go beyond your reach if you take the Ranged Reprisal class feat.
  • Divine Smite: Even more damage on top of the extra Strike that you get to make.
  • Exalt: The more melee allies you have, the better this is. Even with the -5 penalty (or -2 if you take Aura of Vengeance) this is still potentially a huge amount of damage.

Redeemer

Where the Paladin is all about offense, the Redeemer is more focused on defense. Glimpse of Redemption both protects your allies and debuffs the attacker, providing additional protection beyond the moment in which you use the Reaction. Higher-level options allow you to better protect your allies, even allowing you to reduce damage to multiple allies suffering damage from the same attack.

  • Champion's Reaction: Glimpse of Redemption: The way that the text is formatted makes this hard to read. The attacker chooses to either not deal damage (unlikely), or they choose to deal damage reduced by 2 plus your level but they become Enfeebled 2. Enfeebled is a great debuff for Strength-based enemies that rely on melee attacks, so this is a great way to continue protecting your allies even after you've used your Reaction. You also don't need to be in melee reach like Retributive Strike, so you don't need to stand right next to your allies at all times or carry a reach weapon. If Enfeebled isn't good enough, you can take Weight of Guilt to make Stupefied an option so that you can handicap spellcasters or to make enemies vulnerable to Will saves.
  • Divine Smite: Enemies will rarely choose to deal no damage, so this is almost guaranteed. Of course, if they know this is coming maybe they'll choose to do no damage with their attack. Either way, it works out great for you.
  • Exalt: Perfect for area effects. Even with the damage resistance very slightly reduced, reducing the damage to even one additional creature will massively increase the amount of total damage reduced.

Ability Scores

The Champion is one of the most MAD classes in the game. It's hard to find an actual dump stat because you benefit from every ability score. Strength-based builds can dump Dexterity, but you don't want to go below 10. Dexterity-based builds can dump Strength, but it means using crossbows and giving up on Armor Specializations. You can dump Intelligence, but you get very few skill options already so that can be very limiting outside of combat. You can dump Wisdom, but Will saves are important.

But because the Champion is only fully dependent on a few ability scores, you can also weigh the costs and benefits of your ability scores and adjust your build to your liking. You could dump Intelligence if you have a lot of skills in your party (maybe you have a rogue or unusually intelligent party members), or you could dump Wisdom if you have allies who can provide extra protection or who can set you right when you fail a saving throw. You could technically dump Charisma if you don't want to be a Face or use Focus Spells, but Divine Smite is built into the class so you'll lose some damage output. Do what makes sense to you.

Strength-Based

Most champions will likely prefer Strength-based weapons, especially if you plan to use two-handed melee weapons.

Str: Attacks and damage.

Dex: You don't need any more than 10. You'll evnetually be in Full Plate, an the Bulwark trait provides a +3 bonus to Reflex saves which will override your Dexterity modifier anyway.

Con: Hit points are crucial.

Int: You only get to choose 2+int of the skills from your class, which gives you very little flexibility. More Intelligence means more options, and you're a great candidate for Face skills.

Wis: You need some for Will saves, but that's all.

Cha: Your spellcasting ability. Important for Focus Spells and class features like your Class DC and Dicvine Smite, and absolutely crucial if you plan to multiclass to get more spellcasting.

Dexterity-Based

While Strength is the expectation, Dexterity is an option for your Key Ability, which means that a Dexterity-based build is absolutely possible. You'll still want some Strength to boost your damage output, but it's an afterthought rather than a defining decision point.

Str: You need some for extra damage. Remember that if you're using a Propulsive weapon you only get half of the bonus, so stop at either 14 or 18 depending on how many boosts you want to invest and whether or not you want to wear heavy armor. You may be able to dump strength by relying on crossbows instead of bows, especially if you're comfortable in light armor. The Champion's armor proficiency is the best in the game, so even in light armor your AC will beat everyone else's by 1.

Dex: If you want to use a bow or a finesse weapon, you need as much Dexterity as you can get. You could easily fight in light armor, too, but when you can afford it you should absolutely wear heavy armor both for the extra AC and the Armor Specialization effects. Be sure to avoid Full Plate, though, because Bulwark will override your Dexterity modifier to Reflex saves.

Con: Hit points are crucial.

Int: You only get to choose 2+int of the skills from your class, which gives you very little flexibility. More Intelligence means more options, and you're a great candidate for Face skills.

Wis: You need some for Will saves, but that's all.

Cha: Your spellcasting ability. Important for Focus Spells and class features like your Class DC and Dicvine Smite, and absolutely crucial if you plan to multiclass to get more spellcasting.

Ancestries

Increases to your three most important ability scores (Str/Dex, Con, Cha) are great, but the Champion is flexible enough that as long as you can increase either your Strength or Dexterity you should be fine. Beyond that, you can find interesting options from nearly any ancestry depending on your build.

Dwarf: Even with the Charisma Flaw, the Dwarf is a fine option for the Champion. High starting hit points and a Constitution increase are great for a durable champion, and if you stay away from spellcasting and Face skills you'll do fine. Dwarven Weapon Familiarity adds some new weapon options like the Dwarven Waraxe, which is a spectacular option if you like to use a shield sometimes but not constantly. You can also get access to Critical Specialization effects, which is great if you didn't want to select Blade Ally. All of that can leave you feeling like a fighter with some minor divine flavor, which may be exactly what you want, or it might be underwhelming if you're looking to play a warrior driven by divine power.

Elf: A Constitution Flaw is hard, but with the Optional Ability Flaws you can end up with +2 Dex and a Flexible Ability Boost which you can put into your choice of Consitution or Charisma. For a Dexterity-based build, that's probably enough. You can get some extra skill options from the Ancestral Longevity feat tree, and Otherworldly Magic can get you a cantrip like Shield which you can benefit from despite it being Arcane spellcasting.

Gnome: If you're happy with a crossbow or with putting enough boosts into Strength to overcome the Strength Flaw, the Gnome's ability boosts are spectacular. Wellspring Gnome can get you a cantrip, including one from the Divine spell list (which takes advantage of the Champion's spellcasting proficiency progression). Gnome Weapon Familiarity can get you acces to the Gnome Flickmace, which is a great reach weapon option if you still want a shield (though the Strength Flaw will be an even bigge problem), and with other Ancestry Feats you can add options like an Animal Companion and a cantrip from the Primal spell list.

Goblin: Perfect ability scores for a Dexterity-based build, and you don't even have the Strength Flaw that the Gnome suffers. Unfortunately, the Goblin has fewer appealing Ancestry Feat options. Rough Rider makes it easier to get an Animal Companion that's more interesting than the Horse, but remember that most Animal Companions lose most of their interesting capabilities while you ride them.

Halfling: Similar to the gnome, but the Ability Boosts don't line up quite as well, and the Ancestry Feats don't directly contribute to the Champion quite as well as the Gnome's. Still, there are some interesting options here. Unfettered Halfling matches thematically with the Liberator, and Halfling Luck is literally always good. Plus, you can take Cultural Adaptability to get good options from other Ancestries.

Human: Two free Ability Boosts works literally anywhere, and between Ancestry Feats and Heritages you have plenty of options. Versatile Heritage or General Training can get you a General Feat like Toughness, which will reduce the need for a Constitution Boost. Unconventional Weaponry can get you access to options like the Gnome Flickmace if you want to use a sheild but also want reach for things like Retributive Strike. Multitallented can help you get multiclass feats in order to get access to Divine spellcasting. There are lots of good options. If you're absolutely desperate for a third Ability Boost, you can use the Optional Flaw rules to do so, and depending on what you're willing to give up it may be worth the cost.

Backgrounds

Boosts to important ability scores are crucial, but also look for skills and skill feats which complement your character concept. Remember that you only get 2+ skills of your choice from the Champion, so the skill proficiency granted by your Background can be an important decision point, and the Skill Feat granted by your Background can be extremely useful.

If you're having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • Barrister
  • Emissary (Society)
  • Guard
  • Noble
  • Warrior

Skills and Skill Feats

You get Skill Increases at 3rd and 5th level to raise skills to Expert, increases at 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th level to raise skills to Master, and increases at 15th, 17th, and 19th level to raise skills to Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most three skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.

You get Skill Feats at even-numbered levels, giving you a total of 10 Skill Feats (and maybe another from your Background) by 20th level. Generally you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don't require that you be more than Trained.

  • Acrobatics (Dex): Too situational, and less useful since you don't have a built-in way to fly until level 18. You might consider picking up proficiency at that point, but most characters will never get that far.
  • Arcana (Int): Useful, but leave it for someone with higher Intelligence if you can.
  • Athletics (Str): Great if you want to use special attacks like Shove and Trip, but the Champion is less dependent on those options than the Fighter so it's not absolutely crucial.
  • Crafting (Int): Useful for repairing damaged shields, but don't expect to go making anything exciting. You probably don't need to go beyond Trained.
  • Deception (Cha): Lying might not seem like it's a fitting option for the Champion, but it's still a useful Face Skill, and Lie to Me can help mitigate the Champion's terrible Perception progression.
    • Lie to Me: Your Deception DC will almost certainly be higher than your Perception DC, so this will help protect you from lies despite the Champion's poor Perception progression.
  • Diplomacy (Cha): If you have even moderate Charisma, you're probably
    • Legendary Negotiation: While it's obviously less violent than killing things, Scare to Death becomes available at the same time and only take a single Action.
  • Intimidation (Cha): One of few skills that you can consistently legerage in combat, and an important Face skill.
    • Battlecry: Demoralize for free when combat starts. It might not be a good option if you're hiding, but otherwise it's a free debuff at the beginning of every fight.
    • Terrified Retreat: Counting on a critical success is hard, but if your Charisma is very high it might work.
    • Scare to Death: Spend one Action to pick out the creature in the room the lowest Will save and kill them or send them fleeing. Repeat until the room is cleared. At this point you only need weapons for things that are strong enough to threaten your whole party on their own, and even then this can still replace the Demoralize action almost entirely.
  • Lore (Int): Versatile, but vaguely defined and hard to rely upon. You likely won't have enough extra skill options to take Lore beyond what you get from your Background.
  • Medicine (Wis): The most important usage of Medicine is to restore hit points, and you can get that from Lay on Hands which you get for free.
  • Nature (Wis):Useful, but leave it for someone with higher Wisdom if you can. Even if you choose Steed Ally, you don't need this to command your Animal Companion because Animal Companions use different rules for the Command an Animal action.
  • Occultism (Int): Useful, but leave it for someone with higher Intelligence if you can.
  • Performance (Cha): Too situational.
  • Religion (Wis): You're Trained by default, but a character with higher Wisdom will likely be more effective.
    • Divine Guidance: This can be a great feat if your GM is clever, but you likely can't afford the Skill Increases to get Religion up to Master.
  • Society (Int):Useful, but leave it for someone with higher Intelligence if you can.
  • Stealth (Dex): You need to have someone sneaky in your party, but the Champion usually isn't a great option. Even if Dexterity is your Key Ability Score, heavy armor is extremely appealing and the Check Penalty from your armor can be a serious problem.
  • Survival (Wis): Too situational.
  • Thievery (Dex): An absolutely essential skill, and a Dexterity-based Champion could absolutely use it.

Feats

Champion Feats

1st Level
  • Deity's Domain: I have yet to cover domain spells, but there are several interesting options. Keep in mind that while this adds a new Focus Spell it doesn't expand your Focus Pool so the spell needs to compete with Lay on Hands.
  • Ranged Reprisal: Despite the name, this is useful with both ranged weapons and with melee weapons. Having a reach weapon and still being 5 feet too far away to make a Retributive Strike is immensely frustrating, especially at low levels when a single attack can make such a huge difference. This is essential for paladins.
  • Unimpeded Step: Situational.
  • Weight of Guilt: Stupefied debuffs foes which rely on mental ability scores, including enemy spellcasters. In addition, it reduces their Will Saves, making them more vulnerable to spells and other options line Demoralize.
2nd Level
  • Divine Grace: Situational, but a +2 bonus is pretty good if your DM likes to use a lot of enemies who cast spells.
  • Dragonslayer Oath: Bonuses to fight evil dragons. The benefits vary by subclass, but they only apply against dragons which makes them situational by nature. Unless you're in a campaign centered around slaying dragons, dragons will be incredibly rare.
  • Fiendsbane Oath: The same effects as Dragonslayer Oath, but fiends tend to be more common than dragons. Still situational, but more useful than Dragonslayer Oath.
  • Shining Oath: The same effects as Dragonslayer Oath, but undead tend to be more common than dragons. Still situational, but more useful than Dragonslayer Oath.
  • Vengeful Oath: Turn Lay on Hands into an attack option against evil creatures that harm your allies. You may not want to gamble with such a good healing option, but it's a single Action that deals a big pile of damage without making a Strike so it's a great follow-up to your normal attacks.
4th Level
  • Aura of Courage: Frightened is an easy debuff which can come from a variety of sources. Immunity to Frightened 1 means that you're largely immune to Demoralize, too.
  • Divine Health: Situational. The bonus is small, and you can rely on the Medicine skill's Treat Disease action for a bonus of the same type with twice the effect.
  • Mercy: Situational, though paralysis and feat effects can often take an ally out of a fight for several rounds.
6th Level
  • Attack of Opportunity: A fantastic feat, but it conflicts with your Champion's Reaction so you may not be able to use it consistently.
  • Litany Against Wrath: See Focus Spells, below.
  • Loyal Warhorse: If you chose Steed Ally, you need to make your companion Mature to keep its stats good enough to keep it alive.
  • Shield Warden: Shield Block reduces the damage by the Hardness of your shield. The published shields made of special materials in the Core Rulebook have Hardness less than their level. By comparison, your Champion's Reaction reduces the damage by 2+your level and works up to 15 ft. away. However, if you take Quick Block you get an extra Reaction which you can only use for Shield Block, allowing you to use both Shield Warden and your Champion's Reaction in the same turn.
  • Smite Evil: A bit of extra damage per Strike, and the duration extends every time your target attacks one of your allies. This creates a sort of Taunt effect, encouraging the foe to attack you instead of your allies for at least one turn to end the effect. It's unclear if enemies know about this mechanic, so check with your GM. Regardless, there's no limit on how often you can use this, so any time that you have a spare Action and don't want to spend it on a Strike you can start this. As far as I can tell, you can have this running on multiple foes simultaneously, though I don't think that's a great option.
8th Level
  • Advanced Deity's Domain: This is notably the first option for the Champion to increase the size of their Focus Pool. Unfortunately, I still haven't covered domain spells yet.
  • Advanced Mercy: There are effects like the spell Blindness which can strike a target permanently blind or deaf. This changes those effects from a massive handicap into a momentary inconvenience. You can also remove the Slowed effect, which is great considering the 1-Action casting time of Lay on Hands.
  • Heal Mount: Add 4 hit points per spell level of Lay on Hands. This is a 2/3 increase in the amount healed, which is significant but hopefully not necessary. Consider this if you took Steed Mount, but if you need to heal your mount often enough to need this you should really consider other ways to protect your mount like barding.
  • Quick Block: If you're using a shield, this is absolutely essential. Your Champion's Reaction is a much better use of your Reaction is most cases, but you can't use it to protect yourself. This allows you to protect yourself (or an ally if you took Shield Warden) without losing the option to use Champion's Reaction.
  • Second Ally: Divine Ally is a great ability, and having two can be really useful. However, by this level the basic benefits of Divine Ally may not be appealing compared to other feats, and you may have trouble finding enough feat slots to enhance your second Divine Ally.
  • Sense Evil: In most cases you can figure out who or what is evil with a little bit of real-world insight, and in cases where it's not obvious this sense is vague to the point of being barely helpful. You might be able to use this to detect that evil creatures are hidden or invisible nearby, but even then they might get a Deception check to avoid notice (consult your GM) and the Champion's Perception progression is terrible. If you desperate want this capability, take the multiclass archetype feats for something with the Divine spell list and cast Detect Alignment.
10th Level
  • Devoted Focus: If you're finding your Focus Spells to be very helpful and you took Advanced Deity's Domain to expand your Focus Pool, this is very important. The wording on recovering Focus Points is very precise, so if you want your 2-point Focus Pool refilled this is one of the only ways to do it.
  • Imposing Destrier: The most important benefit here is an improvement to your steed's AC. If you're doing fine without that benefit, you may be able to skip this even if you're heavily reliant on Steed Ally.
  • Litany Against Sloth: See Focus Spells, below.
  • Radiant Blade Spirit: The basic set of property runes are fine but not very impressive. Flaming is a good go-to, but Anarchic/Axiomatic/Holy runes are level 11 items that cost 1,400gp.
  • Shield of Reckoning: Double down on protecting your allies. The wording of the text is slightly confusing, but this uses a single Reaction to perform both the Shield Block and Champion's Reaction Reactions, so you're getting twice as much out of one Reaction as normal. If you have Quick Block, you can still use that extra Reaction for Shield Block.
12th Level
  • Affliction Mercy: DIsease and Poison can be treated with the Medicine skill, but curses can be a serious issue. Of course, Remove Curse is a 4th-level spell on both the Divine and Occult spell lists, so by this level a cleric can easily handle all of these problems.
  • Aura of Faith: 1 damage only matters at this level if you're attacking tagets which have Vulnerability to Good damage.
  • Blade of Justice: In most cases, you won't be able to use this until the target attacks one of your allies in combat, conveniently making this a great combination with Smite Evil. When used, Blade of Justice is mechanically similar in many ways to the Fighter's Power Attack feat, but it adds some other nice things. Adding the effects of Retributive Strike is a confusing way to think about things since Retributive Strike is just a normal Strike on its own. But by this level you have both Divine Smite and Exalt, so your Retributive Strikes applies persistent Good damage and allies within 15 feet of you and in melee of the target can make a Strike at a -5 penalty as a Reaction. If you have one of the Oath feats, the extra damage applies to your Strike. If you find that you use this consistently, be sure to pick up Aura of Vengeance to reduce your allies' penalty on the extra Strike and consider Instrument of Zeal for a bunch of extra damage if you score a critical hit.
  • Champion's Sacrifice: The second opportunity for the Champion to increase the size of their Focus Pool, and this option doesn't require two feats. Even if you never use Champion's Sacrifice even once, that's a huge benefit. For more on Champion's Sacrifice, see Focus Spells, below.
  • Divine Wall: This means that most enemies can't step toward or away from you, meaning that they're largely stuck in melee with you.
  • Lasting Doubt: A fantastic way to extend the effects of your Champion's Reaction. If you have Weight of Guilt, you can make the target both Enfeebled and Stupefied, debuffing them considerably for several rounds.
  • Liberating Stride: Situational. Stepping is typically sufficiency, and Striding can expose your allies to dangerous Reactions.
14th Level
  • Anchoring Aura: Situational. Potentially excellent against enemy spellcasters, but it seems unlikely that enemies will intentionally teleport within 15 feet of you. On top of that, you need Fiendsbane Oath to get it.
  • Aura of Life: Situational, but more broadly useful than Aura of Righteousness. Unfortunately, you Shining Oath to get it.
  • Aura of Righteousness: Situational. Resistance to damage of any kind is great, but evil damage is rare.
  • Aura of Vengeance: If you're getting a lot of use out of your allies' attacks on Retribute Strike, this is a great idea. Much like Retributive Strikes' Exalt effect, this gets more useful depending on how many melee allies you have.
  • Divine Reflexes: Too good to forgo. This lets you use your Champion's Reaction twice in a round.
  • Litany of Righteousness: A spectacular Focus Spell, and your Focus Pool expands by 1 point.
  • Wyrmbane Aura: Resistant equal to your Charisma modifier to the 5 most common non-weapon damage types. The only problem is that you also need the Dragonslayer Oath, which is the least useful oath. In a way the two balance each other out because this is so much better than the equivalent aura feats for the other oaths.
16th Level
  • Auspicious Mount: Specializations offer some new options for your mount, and the ability to speak is certainly interesting, but you don't strictly need this for your mount to be useful.
  • Instrument of Zeal: Slowed 1 robs the target of an Action on their turn, so between that and the extra damage die this is an immensely satisfying addition your critical hits. Still, it depends on a critical hit so it's inherently unreliable.
  • Shield of Grace: By this level you have lots of options to prevent damage to your ally, including using both your Champion's Reaction and Shield Block against the same attack. Splitting the damage between yourself and your ally is a very generous thing for you to do, but try to prevent that damage instead.
18th Level
  • Celestial Form: Darkvision and permanent non-magical flight. You also look super cool. if you chose Steed Ally you may want to skip this and take Celestial Mount at level 20 instead because your mount's speed will be so much better than yours.
  • Ultimate Mercy: The time limit is problematic, but if you're close to your allies you can usually Stride to get into range for Lay on Hands. There doesn't appear to be a usage limitation beyond your Focus Points, so be sure to keep a Focus Point ready in case things go wrong.
20th Level
  • Celestial Mount: A bunch of great improvements to your mount, and also Weakness 10 to Evil damage. Thematically it makes sense, but that doesn't make me like it.
  • Radiant Blade Master: The new runes only level 13 or 14, just two levels higher than runes like Holy which are granted by Radiant Blade Spirit 10 levels earlier. At this level the cost to add these runes to a weapon is very reasonable, so you gain next to nothing from this feat. Spend the gold to get the rune normally, and use your level 20 feat for something more interesting.
  • Shield Paragon: By this level you're almost certainly using an incredibly expensive shield like a high-grade adamantine shield, so a way to recover it if it's broken is a great way to protect your investment. You also get the benefit of having your shield raised constantly, so you no longer need to spend an Action every turn to raise it, leaving that Action free for more interesting things like attacking.

General Feats

  • Canny Accumen: Your Perception never Increases beyond Expert, so this becomes a great option when you reach level 17.
  • Incredible Initiative: The Champion's Perception progression is terrible, and a +2 bonus to Initiative checks can help to mitigate that.
  • Ride: You don't need this to ride your Steed Ally because Animal Companions respond differently when you use the Command an Animal action.
  • Toughness: More hit points are always great, but Lay on Hands provides a significant amount of healing for a single Action, so it's not as helpful as it is for other martial classes.

Weapons

Much like the Fighter, the Champion gets access to the full range of martial weapons and make excellent use of any of them. Generally your choice of weapon will reflect the tactics you plan to employ in combat and your choice of Divine Ally.

Armor

  • Chain Mail: A great option for starting armor, Chain Mail will provide adequate protection without eating all of your 15 starting gold.
  • Half Plate: For Dexterity-based builds this is your ideal armor. A good Armor Specialization effect, and since it doesn't have the Bulwark trait you still get to enjoy your high Dexterity modifier for Reflex saves. And don't worry: you still get as much AC as Full Plate.
  • Full Plate: If you have less than 16 Dexterity, this is the best armor that you can get. Bulwak will override your low Dexterity modifier to Reflex saves, helping to protect you from area effect damage which can easily circumvent your unusually high AC.

Champion Focus Spells

1st-Level Spells

  • Lay On Hands: For a single Action, this is a big pile of healing. You can use it on yourself or an an ally, and since it's a Focus Spell you can repeatedly Refocus and heal yourself out of combat to ensure that you and your allies are always at full hit points.

3rd-Level Spells

  • Litany Against Wrath: A nice way to deter enemies from harming you and your allies, and with 30-foot range and a 1-Action casting time, this is a great option to fit into a turn that you spend moving and/or attacking. However, it has some limitations. The spell only takes effect of the target damages a Good creature, so the usefulness of the spell is significantly diminished if you have non-Good party members. The effect is also clearly designed to be more effective against enemies which rely on dealing damage, so foes with

5th-Level Spells

  • Litany Against Sloth: The flavor text on this spell is extremely misleading; removing the target's ability to take Reactions is just part of the effect. The major effect is making the target Slowed, which robs them of one or more Actions. If you can spend one Action to rob the target one Action, you're doing fine. Every Action after that just further improves the value of the Focus Point that you spent.

6th-Level Spells

  • Champion's Sacrifice: Choosing to suffer the full effects of an attack or a failed save is noble, but very dangeorus. The 30 foot range on this makes it a good fallback when an ally is outside of your 15-foot range for Champion's Reaction, so this extends your ability to protect your allies by another 15 feet. Interestingly, this effect bypasses any of your own resistances and immunities, so if you're hypothetically a robot which is immune to sleep, you can use this to be put to sleep instead of one of your allies.

7th-Level Spells

  • Litany of Righteousness: For one action, a target within 30 ft. gets Weakness to Good damage with no saving throw. The weakness matches the spell level, so it starts at 7 and maxes out at 10. On its own this might not seem like much, but considering Divine Smite added the ability to apply persistent Good damage, not to mention all of the feats that let you deal good damage with your attacks, and options like a Holy weapon property rune.

10th-Level Spells

  • Hero's Defiance: A great way to keep yourself alive, especially since you can't target yourself with Ultimate Mercy. However, 10d4+20 only averages to 45 hit points, so don't expect this to suddenly put your back into good shape to fight. You'll likely want to end the fight as quickly as possible (or heal yourself) since you only get to use this once until your Refocus or perform daily preparations.

Magic Items

Weapons

  • Holy Avenger: Thematically very interesting, but not good enough to justify the exhorbitant cost.

Other Magic Items

  • Cassock of Devotion: If you take feats to get domain Focus Spells, the extra Focus point can be very helpful. You also get some decent skill bonuses.

Archetypes

  • Alchemist: The benefits aren't good enough, and you need to be heavily invested in Intelligence which is hard considering that the Champion already needs high scores in so many abilities.
  • Barbarian: Rage and Instinct look tempting, but there's not much to be gained from the Barbarian's class feats that you couldn't get from the Fighter and the Fighter offers more appealing options.
  • Bard: Charisma-based spellcasting. The Cleric is typically a better option.
  • Cleric: The Champion automatically advances their proficiency with divine spellcasting at a rate faster than you normally could by multiclassing, so adding some cleric spells can be a grea tway to expand your capabilities.
  • Druid: Little to be gained except spellcasting, and you have numerous better options for doing that.
  • Fighter: For martial-minded champions, the Fighter's class feats offer a number of useful useful options depending on your choice of weaponry.
  • Monk: The obvious option if you want to fight unarmed, but unless you specifically want to play a champion which doesn't use weapons there's little reason to go this route.
  • Ranger: The best reasons to multiclass into ranger are to get an Animal Companion (which you already have) and to get martial feats which you can get from the Fighter.
  • Rogue: A handful of options like You're Next and Dread Striker are appealing for Intimidation builds, but otherwise skip the Rogue entirely.
  • Sorcerer: Much like the Cleric, you can use the Sorcerer to get access to the Divine spell list.
  • Wizard: Little to be gained except spellcasting, and you have numerous better options for doing that.