Do you think that those goodie-twoshoes fellas in the shining armour make boring adventuring companions? There's a fair bit more to a well-designed and well-played one, and this book is packed with advice and suggestions to help you hone your paladins to perfection.
It opens with a look at key ability scores, suggesting that aspiring paladins ought to concentrate on strength and charisma, with others being chosen based on the desired role, those aiming for diplomatic roles need intelligence whilst those wishing to become investigators may need wisdom. The obvious focus on constitution for someone intending to be a fighter can be disregarded as the paladin's abilities provide him with plenty of protection.
Next comes the wise use of class abilities such as Smite Evil and the laying on of hands, as well as suitable spell choices and selection of a divine bond. Naturally many of these will stem from the choice of deity, but in general spells ought to be chosen with an eye to enhancing fighting capabilies especially with regard to Smite Evil. It is better to rely on the laying on of hands rather than fill spell slots with healing magic. Skills are limited, so diplomacy and ride are good choices.
Now on to the new stuff. First, alternate class abilites: Divine Aspect and Stigmata. Divine Aspect allows the paladin to channel a bit of his deity's raw power at times of need, being able to manifest all appropriate benefits of one chosen domain... and a lot of benefits are listed here for all the common domains. Stigmata, however, are a way for the paladin's deity (or at least, the GM) to show displeasure with a paladin who has strayed from the straight and narrow short of stripping him of paladinical powers. As well as the classic bleeding wounds (as manifested by some Roman Catholic saints), an erring paladin might find that he has bad dreams or that it is harded for others to cast divine magic on him, or he may develop an obvious mark that shows divine disfavour to all who see him. It is up to the GM to decide if the paladin can atone over time, and so lose the effects, or whether they are permanent reminders to both him and others of the importance of following that particular god's teachings and direction.
The next section provides several new paladin archetypes to choose from. These provide the overarching concept, describing the way in which an individual paladin chooses to serve his deity. A Heavenly Beacon, for example, acts as an inspiration to others, with abilities that confer bonuses to their fighting capacity. The Holy Sword dedicates himself to mastery of his weapon. The Metropolitan is a city-based paladin, dedicated to protecting and improving the lot of urban dwellers, while the Questing Knight spends his time in search of holy relics and sights, or dangerous beasts to vanquish, much as in the classic tales of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table with the quest for the Holy Grail. A Templar draws inspiration from the crusader orders, defending holy places.
Next comes a look at Codes of Conduct. Whilst the core rules state that a paladin ought to live according to rules, what those rules actually are is left a bit vague. So here are suggestions as to how to codify them, with rules for paladins to follow... and benefits which accrue if he does. So a paladin who follows a path of poverty receives a few extra spells such as mending that will make his money go further... and a paladin dedicated to being extremely honest gets spells that help him discern the truth and tell when others are lying to him.
The book rounds out with some new Feats that paladins (or in some cases, others who meet the requirements) may take. Some are quite interesting - for example, a paladin who chooses the divine aspect ability can take the Dual Aspect feat, in which he chooses two domains suitable to his deity and can decide every time he activates his divine aspect which domain's effects he wants to manifest.
All this may serve to make that paladin even more of a goody-twoshoes... but an effective one, with a variety of ways in which to further the will of his deity within your campaign world. A well-played paladin can enhance any campaign, and here are some tools to help set him up.
[5 of 5 Stars!]