Pathfinder - The Antipaladin Handbook
Last Updated: October 12, 2018
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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 Antipaladin is mechanically very similar to the Paladin, but the differences in their abilities reflect the difference in their alignments. Where the Paladin is a capable warrior supplemented by healing and support abilities, the Antipaladin drops all pretense of healing and support in favor of additional damage output and debuff options. The Antipaladin gets every social skill except Diplomacy, so if you plan to play a Face be sure to use a trait to pick up Diplomacy as a class skill.
The Antipaladin is an alternate class of the Paladin, so any archetypes, feats, or class features for which the Antipaladin has the correct ability applies to the Antipaladin. Many of the Antipaladin's abilities are identical to Paladin abilities but with different names, so consult your GM about using options which apply to Paladins with your Antipaladin.
Antipaladin Class Features
Hit Points: d10 hit points is standard for front-line melee characters.
Base Attack Bonus: Full BAB.
Saves: Despite a "bad" Reflex saves, Unholy Resilience gives the Antipaladin some of the best saves in the game.
Proficiencies: Heavy armor, shields, and martial weapons.
Skills: 2+ skill ranks and not a lot of options.
Aura of Evil (Ex): This hardly ever matters.
Detect Good (Sp): Situational.
Smite Good (Su): Your enemies will primarily be good, and Smite Good gives you a pile of damage and a nice bonus to AC. It remains useful at any level, and is limited only by the small number of uses per day.
Unholy Resilience (Su): The equivalent of Divine Grace, Unholy Resilience
Touch of Corruption (Su): The damage behind Touch of Corruption is not the primary draw. Instead, look at the effects of Cruelties. Also note that Touch of Corruption does not allow you to use it on yourself as a swift action the same way that a Paladin can. Your GM may allow you to do so if you are healed by negative energy, but check with your GM to be sure.
Aura of Cowardice (Su): While this is normally not very helpful, it becomes very useful when you pick up the Shaken and Frightened cruelties.
Plague Bringer (Ex): Immunity to disease becomes important at high levels when disease and poison become more common, but not as important as it is for good-aligned characters because good-aligned outsiders don't typically use poison or disease.
Cruelty (Su): Cruelties turn Touch of Corruption into a powerful single-target crowd-control effect, and eventually into a save-or-suck effect once you get the high-tier cruelties. You only get to apply one at a time, unfortunately, but that's often enough.
- Fatigued: Worthless.
- Shaken: A nice debuff, and Aura of Cowardice imposes a -4 penalty on the save.
- Sickened: A slightly better debuff than Shaken, but you can't stack Sickened to get better debuffs.
- Dazed: Rob the target of their next turn. Very tempting, but hard to justify compared to the durations of other options.
- Diseased: This opens up a variety of useful ability damage options. Blinding Sickness is always a favorite.
- Staggered: Nice for enemies who depend on full attacks, and a decent duration.
- Cursed: Three options, all of which are excellent.
- Exhausted: Hardly better than Fatigued.
- Frightened: Frightened enemies run away unless they are cornered, effectively taking them out of combat for several rounds.
- Nauseated: Doesn't make the target run, but prevents them from fighting back for several rounds.
- Poisoned: Constitution damage is terrifying and frequently lethal, and it lowers the targets save against the poison and potential additional Cruelties.
- Blinded: Use Diseased with Blinding Sickness and the target is permanently blinded and takes Strength damage.
- Deafened: Only effects spellcasters, and even then not very well.
- Paralyzed: Save or suck. Coupe de grace next round.
- Stunned: If you can't afford to take a coupe de grace for some reason, stun the target for a few rounds and come back to them later.
Channel Negative Energy (Su): Very difficult to bring into play without hurting your allies unless your party heals based on negative energy. Even then, your saving throw won't be great. If you insist on using Channel Energy, see my Practical Guide to Channel Energy.
Spells: Antipaladins are 1/2 casters, and their spell list strongly resembles the Paladin spell list. However, the Antipaladin lacks many of the Paladin's best buffs and lacks healing options of any kind.
Fiendish Boon (Sp): Both options are fantastic. The ability to enhance your weapon can solve a lot of problems, including DR, but fiendish companions offer a lot of amazing options. For help with Fiendish Companions, see my Practical Guide to Fiendish Companions.
Aura of Despair (Su): This has the fantastic side-effect of making enemies more susceptible to your Touch of Corruption, but your allies will also appreciate the penalty against their spells and abilities.
Aura of Vengeance (Su): Fantastic, but remember that allies must still use a swift action to activate Smite Good.
Aura of Sin (Su): Fantastic for combating good-aligned outsiders.
Aura of Depravity (Su): DR 5/good will protect you from everything except enemy divine spellcasters and good-aligned outsiders.
Unholy Champion (Su): Good, but not great. The Banishment effect forcible ends your Smite even if it fails, and you can't choose to forego the effect. Personally I would rather outright kill the outsider so that it can't come back.
The Antipaladin's abilities are much the same as any heavy armored melee character, but the Antipaladin's divine abilities add a dependence on Charisma.
Str: The Antipaladin is a strictly melee class, which means that you need Strength.
Dex: You need 12 to fill out full plate, but even that isn't strictly necessary, especially if you plan to use a shield.
Con: As a front-line character, hit points are always important.
Int: The Antipaladin's skill list is very short, and more skill ranks won't fix that. Unless you plan to play a Face, dump Intelligence.
Wis: Only required for will saves, and Unholy Resilience and the Antipaladin's good Will saves greatly reduce this dependence.
Cha: Powers many of the Antipaladins important abilities, include Unholy Resilience.
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Bonuses to Strength and Charisma are great, and medium size is helpful if you want to be enlarged.
Dwarf: The Charisma penalty is annoying, but the Dwarf's other racial traits still make it a viable option. The bonuses to Constitution and Wisdom offset most of the lost bonus from Unholy Resilience, and the Dwarf's other abilities complement the Antipaladin's natural durability very well. Unfortunately the Dwarf favored class bonus adds to Concentration, which is nearly worthless for Antipaladins.
Elf: Nothing useful for the Antipaladin.
Gnome: Despite small size and a strength penalty, the Gnome isn't completely awful as an Antipaladin. Bonuses to both Constitution and Charisma work well with the Antipaladin's abilities, but many of the Gnome's other abilities may be wasted. The Gnome Paladin favored class bonus adds to Lay of Hands healing, so you could reasonably alter it to improve Touch of Corruption damage.
Half-Elf: The flexible ability bonus is nice, and the Half-Elf has some nice alternate racial features which can work well for the Antipaladin. The Half-Elf's favored class bonus expands the area of the Paladin's auras. Considering the Antipaladin has 5 auras (not counting Aura of Evil), this can be a fantastic buff. If you're happy with your aura range, pick up the Human favored class bonus for some permanent energy resistance.
Half-Orc: Flexible ability bonus and some nice racial abilities which complement the Antipaladin well. Unfortunately, the Half-Orc favored class bonus is awful, so pick up the Human favored class bonus for some permanent energy resistance.
Halfling: A little less effective than the Gnome because the Dexterity bonus isn't as helpful.
Human: Always a good option, and the Human favored class bonus adds energy resistance to one type of energy. Pick up a few points in the four basic energy types (acid, cold, electricity, fire), but don't worry about sonic. Remember that this resistance stacks with magical energy resistance such as the Resist Energy spell.
- Axe to Grind (Combat): Antipaladins spend a lot of time in melee by themselves, so this can pay off frequently if you don't have any other melee allies.
- Deft Dodger (Combat): Reflex saves are your worst save, though they'll still be fantastic thanks to Divine Grace.
- Birthmark (Faith): Charm and compulsion effects are scary, but you have Divine grace and good Will saves. The free holy symbol is neat, but not really necessary.
- Magical Knack (Magic): +2 caster level adds hours to your buffs. Nearly every Paladin should take this.
- Dangerously Curious (Magic): A weird choice for an Antipaladin, but you have the Charisma to use UMD, and it's still the best skill in the game.
- Unscathed (Magic): If you're human, this is a close contender with Magical Knack. The human favored class bonus is an easy way to get a few points of energy resistance in every type, and this can up to quintuple its effectiveness if you pick up 1 point of resistance to all 5 energy damage types. Even if you skip sonic damage you're still getting 8 levels worth of favored class bonus out of one trait. Normally I don't worry about sonic damage, but I think you can spare one point to get 3 points of resistance, especially for the smug satisfaction of telling people that you've got sonic damage resistance.
- Influence (Social): Pick up whichever missing Face skill you didn't already get.
- Seeker (Social): The most rolled skill in game.
- Bluff (Cha): Essential if you plan to play a Face.
- Disguise (Cha): Too situational.
- Handle Animal (Cha): The Fiendish Companion is not technically an animal companion, and you can't teach it tricks.
- Intimidate (Cha): Essential if you plan to play a Face.
- Knowledge (religion) (Int): One of the most important Knowledge skills.
- Ride (Dex): Helpful if you plan to ride your fiendish companion, but otherwise useless.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Essential if you plan to play a Face.
- Spellcraft (Int): Situational.
- Stealth (Dex): In full plate you're not going to have much luck sneaking around.
- Ability Focus: If this works for Touch of Corruption (and I think it does) it's absolutely incredible.
- Adept Champion: Technically requires Smite Evil, but any reasonable GM should allow this to work with Smite Good. This can add an impressive bonus to your CMB at the expense of damage.
- Extra Channel: The Antipaladin isn't good at channeling energy.
- Extra Lay On Hands: 4 levels worth of additional uses of Touch of Corruption. If you like Touch of Corruption a lot, this is worth considering.
- Extra Mercy: Being active instead of reactive, Touch of Corruption has the luxury of not needing to guess what you might need. You get to pick what you want, and everyone else gets to save or suck. Where a Paladin might need an extra Mercy to cover an additional potential crippling effect, the Antipaladin can already get all of the good Cruelty options without spending a feat.
- Unsanctioned Knowledge: Intelligence is a dump stat for Antipaladins, but Unsanctioned Knowledge can open up a lot of really great spell options. Clerics in particular have a lot of really great buffs, and many have long durations. Magic Vestments, for example, is a 3rd-level Cleric spell with hours/level duration that can save you a fortune on armor enhancement. However, remember that Antipaladins get very few spells per day, so be very selective about the spells you choose.
- Channel Smite: Get a Channeling weapon instead.
- Greater Channel Smite: Allows you to split up the bonus damage dice from Channel Smite. Largely pointless.
- Guided Hand: This is for Clerics.
Your choice of weapon isn't particularly important to the Antipaladin.
Full plate. Get it as soon as you can afford it. If you want to use a one-handed weapon, pick up a heavy shield. Consider a Darkwood shield if you want to be stealthy.
This section won't address every spell on your spell list, but it will point out some especially notable options. For a complete list of spells, see the SRD Spell Index.
- Magic Weapon: At hours/level duration you can easily use this to avoid buying a +1 weapon, which then allows you to use Fiendish Boon to add fun properties to your weapon.
- Protection from Good/Law: Only minutes/level duration means that you can't get a lot of mileage out of a single casting.
- Darkness: Occasionally useful, but you don't have a way to see in magical darkness.
- Darkvision: Hours/level duration, and fighting in the dark can be a serious advantage.
- Invisibility: Very few front-line melee characters get access to invisibility. Coupled with Silence you can be passably stealthy with no skill ranks.
- Silence: Couple with invisibility to be magically stealthy.
- Dispel Magic: By the time you get this your dedicated spellcasters are casing Great Dispel Magic.
- Magic Circle Against Good/Law: 10 minutes/level duration, decent bonuses, and affects allies standing within all of your other auras.
- Magic Weapon, Greater: An absolute must. At hours/level duration this will provide a hefty enhancement bonus so that you can spend your money on more interesting weapon enhancements.
- Vampiric Touch: Antipaladins have no means to heal themselves, so temporary hit points are a great way to compensate for your relative lack of durability compared to the Paladin. There's no saving throw to worry about, either, so this is a great way to start a fight.
- Dispel Good/Law: Unless you specifically want to banish the outsider, Smite Good will usually be better.
- Invisibility, Greater: One of the best buffs in the game, both offensively and defensively.
- Resounding Blow: Easy to overlook, but with a swift action casting time Resounding Blow is a great combat buff. Rounds/level duration and 1d6 damage per attack means that you can get an impressive amount of extra damage out of this. The stun effect works even against creatures which you're not smiting, so strongly consider using a weapon with a high critical threat range.
- Bastard's Sting (+123,035 gp): Crazy expensive, but that fast healing is very tempting. This is basically the antipaladin's equivalent of a Holy Avenger, but I'm not sure that it's quite as useful.
- Channeling (+1): Channel your Touch of Corruption through your weapon. It costs two uses, but it also means that you can make a full attack in the same round rather than using a standard action to use Touch of Corruption and spending your move action shuffling around.
- Cruel (+1): Antipaladins are really good at feat, so you can find plenty of opportunities to apply Sickened using a Cruel weapon.
- Spell Storing (+1): You don't have enough spell slots to make spell storing important, so putting it on your armor is a much better deal.
- Dastard (+1): A profane bonus to AC is tempting, but a normal +1 to AC will be much more useful because your Smite uses are so limited.
- Spell Storing (+1): Put Vampiric Touch in your armor, and you'll get a nice pile of temporary hit points immediately after taking damage.
- Counterspells: You won't be able to put Greater Dispel Magic into the ring by yourself, but if you have a caster who can contribute a spell occasionally this is a great way to protect your permanent spells.
- Protection: Even though Smite provides a Deflection bonus, a ring of protection is still a good investment since you won't be able to smite every enemy you face. You also have Protection From Good/Law, which can provide the same bonus.
- Metamagic (Any): Metamagic rods in Pathfinder are cheap, and since your spellcasting only goes up to 4th-level you can cover nearly all of your spells with less rods. If your party has dedicated spellcasters that used lesser metamagic rods at low levels, you may be able to buy them off of your allies at a significant discount. For help with metamagic options, check my Practical Guide to Metamagic.
- Belt of Giant Strength / Belt of Physical Might: You need Strength for offense and Constitution for defense. You don't have the Paladin's ability to keep yourself alive, so you need additional hit points more than a paladin.
- Boots of Speed: At just 6,000gp these are a steal. Activate them as a free action one round at a time, and you can easily stretch their use throughout an entire day. An essential for nearly any melee character.
- Bracelet of The Avenging Knight: Four more levels of Smite means 4 more damage per hit..
- Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
- Insignia of Valor: Channeling as a swift action could be a good way to do some AOE damage after focusing your attentions on a single powerful foe.
- Headband of Alluring Charisma: Helpful, but you may want to focus on your other ability scores first.
- Pearl of Power: Antipaladins get very few spell slots, but their spells can be more powerful than their spell level implies.
- Enlarge Person: Bonus strength and reach. Excellent for any melee antipaladin unless you're using a mount. If the dexterity penalty is a problem, you can offset it with an ioun stone instead of adding a bunch of extra cost to your belt.
- See Invisibility: Expensive, but you don't have a way to deal with invisibile foes.