Posted by okcstephens
Unlike rogues or even rangers and fighters, paladins don’t have a lot of abilities where they get to select one of a list of class features. That can make it tricky to create new paladin options without going as far as building a whole archetype. But if you get creative with mercies, there are some interesting, balanced options you can use.
Esoteric mercies are special abilities paladins may select in place of a new mercy of the appropriate level, but which give them different mercies than the standard benefits to their lay on hands abilities.
3rd Level Esoteric Mercies
Final Mercy (Ex): The harsh reality of battle is, sometimes there is nothing a paladin can offer but a swift death. A paladin with this mercy can perform a coup de grace as a move action using a use of his mercy ability, and deals additional damage equal to his lay on hands dice. These additional dice are not multiplied by the weapon’s critical damage multiplier. If slain, the target is affected by sanctify corpse, but it gains no other lay on hands ability.
Swift Succor: The paladin has focused on granting her healing abilities to allies quickly. She can lay on hands to heal others as a move action.
6th Level Esoteric Mercies
Boon of Light (Sp): As a move action the paladin can create light, as the spell, at will. If the paladin is holding a magic weapon that produces magic light, this light illuminates to a radius of 40 feet, and counters darkness spells of a spell level equal to 1/3 the paladin’s class level. If the paladin has a holy magic weapon that creates light, this ability acts as the daylight spell, and can counter darkness spells with a spell level equal to half the paladin’s class level.
Ranged Succor: The paladin need not touch allies to grant the benefit of her lay on hands. She can use lay on hands on a target within 60 feet as a full round action (or a standard action, if she has the swift succor mercy).
9th Level Esoteric Mercies
Holy Avenger: When wielding a weapon with the holy or bane (vs. evil outsiders) magic special ability, the paladin gains SR equal to 10 + her paladin level + her Charisma modifier. This SR only applies against spells with the evil descriptor, and those from creatures with the evil subtype. Each time the SR successfully prevents a spell from affecting the paladin, the paladin expends one use of her lay on hands ability for the day. If she has no lay on hands uses left, she does not gain DR.
One More Patreon Exclusive Option
I have also played with options to allow paladins to expand their spell lists to be more deity-specific, and one of those ideas is essentially also an esoteric mercy. So I am including it over at my Patreon page as exclusive content (which just means it’s not available anywhere else right now — it may still show up elsewhere or in a product someday). Go check it out!