Defender of the Wild


April 4th, 2017

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

Everyone knows that paladins are holy warriors, and that druids are divine spellcasters, but not many people ever pause to consider ways in which these two facts might interact. Yes, there is a nature-oriented class with spellcasting and a full base attack bonus in the ranger, but rangers are not holy warriors, like paladins are. What if there were paladins who were dedicated specifically to protecting the wilderness? What might that look like? Probably a lot like today’s archetype, the defender of the wild.


New Paladin Archetype
Defender of the Wild

Just as other paladins are paragons of virtue and defenders of the innocent, some paladins choose to champion a different cause, viewing the pristine and unspoiled wilderness as perhaps the most innocent and helpless of us all. Devoting themselves to the protection of the wild, these paladins hunt down and stop all who would despoil its beauty.

Alignment and Code of Conduct: Unlike most paladins, a defender of the wild does not need to be lawful good, and must instead have some neutral component to her alignment (neutral good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, or neutral evil). Additionally, instead of the standard code of conduct, the defender of the wild must strive to protect natural and unspoiled lands, resist the encroachment of civilization, and never willfully contribute to the destruction or despoiling of natural territory.

Detect Despoilers (Su): A defender of the wild gains the ability to detect constructs and creatures that actively contribute to the destruction of natural areas. This functions as the normal paladin’s detect evil, except that the auras it detects are those of constructs and any creature that regularly performs activities that are harmful to nature, regardless of that creature’s alignment. For the purposes of this ability, activities that are harmful to nature include contributing to large-scale urbanization, deforestation, pollution, and similar, and is subject to GM discretion. As a general rule, a logger or miner would qualify, but someone who lives in a log cabin would not, and a big game hunter that hunts exotic animals for sport would qualify, but a subsistence hunter would not.

This ability replaces the detect evil class feature.

Smite Despoiler (Su): This functions as the standard paladin’s smite evil class feature, except that it applies to constructs, undead, and creatures that are harmful to nature (as defined in the detect despoilers class feature). Rather than dealing additional damage on the first successful attack against outsiders with the evil subtype, evil-aligned dragons, and undead creatures, the defender of the wild deals additional damage on the first successful attack against constructs and undead. At the GM’s discretion, this additional damage may also apply to particularly egregious despoilers of nature.

This ability modifies the smite evil class feature.

Poison Immunity (Ex): At 3rd level, a defender of the wild is immune to all poisons. Additionally, merely by touching a creature as a standard action, a defender of the wild can grant that creature a +4 bonus on saving throws to resist poison for 1 hour.

This ability replaces the aura of courage class feature.

Aura of Wild Step (Su): Beginning at 8th level, a defender of the wild is able to move effortlessly through wilderness areas. She may move through any sort of undergrowth or other difficult terrain that is part of natural terrain at her normal speed without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar natural terrain features that have been magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect her. She also leave no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She may choose to leave a trail if she so desires. Further, allies within 10 feet of the defender of the wild gain these benefits as well.

This ability replaces the aura of resolve class feature.

Aura of Justice (Su): At 11th level, the defender of the wild gains the aura of justice class feature as normal, except it grants the ability to use her smite despoiler class feature, rather than the ability to use smite evil.

This ability modifies the aura of justice class feature.

Nature’s Blade (Su): Beginning at 14th level, any weapon the defender of the wild wields counts as being made of adamantine, cold iron, and silver simultaneously for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction.

This ability replaces the aura of faith class feature.

Natural Ward (Su): At 17th level, a defender of the wild gains DR 5/adamantine and resist cold and fire 10.

This ability replaces the aura of righteousness class feature.

Nature’s Champion (Su): At 20th level, the defender of the wild’s damage reduction increases to 10/adamantine. Additionally, whenever she uses her smite despoiler ability and successfully strikes a construct or undead creature, the creature must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 her paladin level + her Charisma modifier) or be destroyed.

This ability replaces the holy champion class feature.