[RPG] How to build the Paladin tank/healer the party needs without multi-classing in Pathfinder


I'm currently building an Aasimar Paladin for an upcoming campaign my friend is starting.

  1. We are assuming we will go up to 20th level.

  2. Currently at level 1 my stats are
    Str:16, Dex:12, Con:14, Int:10, Wis:8, and Cha:16 on a 15 point buy.

  3. I'm planning to play a full Tank/dedicated party healer for our party
  4. I don't want to multiclass

Question: how do I, as a Paladin, best heal my party in and out of combat without sacrificing too much of my ability to do damage, or to sponge damage for the party.

Best Answer

Paladin as a tank / healer in combat is possible, but inefficient.

Building a Pathfinder character is all about tradeoffs. By mixing roles of frontliner and healing support, you can't really specialize at both effectively; you output less damage than a dedicated attacker, and restore less HP than a dedicated healer. Support casters often struggle in the front lines, because they're either busy attacking (i.e., not healing) or are taking too many hits.

Paladin is an ok choice, although their healing and support role is secondary to their melee power. Paladins are suited as a tank in combat, and a support/healer out of combat. However, they can still manage the combat medic role if planned and played strategically, and it sounds like you're set on pure paladin.

Usually, healing is best performed out of combat. Early on, a wand of Cure Light Wounds will be helpful. Eventually you'll want wands of higher-level paladin spells like Lesser Restoration.

A paladin's healing/support capacity improves at medium levels (5-10, usually). Combat healing in Pathfinder is suboptimal, because HP is typically lost faster than it can be regained. Therefore it's better to prevent incoming damage, by engaging and defeating enemies, than to spend your turns as a band-aid. There are exceptions (e.g. Heal) but paladins don't reach that level of spellcasting.

Combat tactics:

  • Buff and heal sparingly, as needed. Your spells per day are very limited. Outside of melee, you should rely on wands and scrolls.

  • Don't wait for the enemies to rush your party. Move into tank position as soon as possible. If you expect a difficult fight, maybe cast a buff spell for yourself and/or allies on round 1.

  • Prioritize tanking over healing. When you're in melee and a nearby ally is getting low on health, the enemy is your immediate threat. Deal with the enemy first, then assist your allies.

  • Encourage your allies to carry healing items (e.g. potions). If your allies can heal themselves via their own action economy, then you can spend your turns more effectively.

Useful feats:

  • Power Attack. Useful for many tanks, especially with 2-handed weapons. Select your tank and frontliner feats early, since you can't cast at low levels anyway.

  • Reward of Life. Make your Lay on Hands more effective, because Paladins have more daily uses of Lay on Hands than spell slots for healing spells.

  • Combat Casting. Although 5-foot stepping away from your opponent is often the easiest way to cast spells, sometimes it's not enough (e.g., your enemy has natural reach) and you'll need to cast defensively. Concentration checks are tough for a Paladin because their caster level lags behind the primary casters, and so a +4 bonus will help.

  • Selective Channeling. Tanky characters tend to be near enemies. This feat lets you channel positive energy to heal your allies without helping your opponents.


I recommend none. Many of the paladin archetypes replace one or more of your Aura class features, which is a mediocre tradeoff. Because your Aura abilities are passive effects, exchanging one for a standard action ability hurts your action economy. Also, since you're going to level 20, your party will need reliable saving throws versus the onslaught of save-or-die effects; they benefit more from the Aura's bonuses.