Playing a Champion of Torm
How To Build An Effective Paladin/ Champion of Torm

This guide is meant to help those who have had trouble beating Hordes of the Underdark begin the game as a paladin and finish as a Champion of Torm, choosing feats that maximize the paladin's abilities along the way. When I played Shadows of Undrentide, I was able to get away with treating a paladin like a fighter, but Hordes of the Underdark is not as forgiving. You can easily create a paladin that has no problem with the first two chapters and then comes up empty when fighting the second Gate Guardian.

I hope that this guide will help other players avoid that situation, but it should be noted that it reflects my personal opinions and preferences and I freely admit that I sometimes have a limited understanding of the way the 3rd edition D&D rules work. I did finish the game without cheating with this character, but I don't claim that all of my decisions were the best ones and I still found the fight against Mephistopheles to be pretty challenging.

At the creation screen, I took the recommended stats, except that I gave myself 14 WIS (needed to get all spell levels) and 13 CON. That left me with 15 STR, 10 INT, 9 DEX, and 15 CHA. I put my skill points evenly into Heal, Lore, Discipline, and Concentration. I took Power Attack and Cleave as my first two feats. I could see taking the recommended stats if you were going to boost your wisdom some other way, but I preferred to use items to boost STR and CHA instead.

During the level up process at the Yawning Portal, I continued to put my skill points into Discipline, Concentration, and Heal. For feats, I took Weapon Focus (greatsword), Greater Cleave, Improved Critical (greatsword), Divine Might, and Improved Power Attack as my initial feats. I boosted Charisma every time I got the chance to tweak my attributes. I had decided that I wanted my paladin to be able to hit hard and often so that fights would be over so quickly that he wouldn't have to worry about his AC. Some people find Greater Cleave to be a worthless feat, but I found that there were several places, even in chapter three, where I killed four or five enemies in a row using it.

By thoroughly researching the various feats and abilities granted to paladins, I finally figured out that paladins are supposed to get most of their power from the god they worship. That means that they are pretty mediocre if you don't buff them up before fighting. My strategy throughout the game then, was to boost my Charisma at every opportunity and cast all my buffing spells before a fight that I knew was coming up. That may seem painfully obvious to experienced players, but it took me a while to understand which buffing spells were needed to become effective. This strategy worked surprisingly well in the early part of the game. I was able to beat the Blue Dragon and all of the sleeping kings handily. Here's a list of the various spells I used and an analysis of why they were so effective:

In Hordes of the Underdark, a level 15 paladin has access to the Holy Sword spell and the Divine Might special power, which means he can enchant his sword to make it do extra damage. Holy Sword turns whatever sword you are using into a Holy Avenger (+1 to attack and +1d6 against evil) and Divine Might gives you extra damage based on your Charisma bonus. You also have access to Eagle's Splendor, Aura of Glory, Bull's Strength, Prayer, Divine Favor, Deafening Clang, and Bless. Wielding Enserric as a greatsword and casting all these spells, one after the other, I went from:
Attack Bonus: +22/+17/+12 Damage: 2-12 + 3(Critical 17-20/ x2) +5 Physical Damage Fortitude: 17 Reflex: 13 Will: 13 Spell Resistance: 0
Attack bonus: +32/+27/+22 Damage: 2-12 + 6(Critical 17-20/ x2) +5 Physical Damage +1d6 Divine Damage against evil +3 Sonic Damage +5 Magical Damage +1 Slashing Damage +8 Divine Damage
Fortitude: 21 Reflex: 17 Will: 17 Spell Resistance: 16

If my math is right, that's a potential of 46 regular damage and the potential for a critical hit for 92 as opposed to the potential of 20 damage on a regular hit or 40 for a critical (typically I would hit for around 18 or 20 and critical around 50). Minimum damage on a successful hit is 5 before buffing and 8 after. By the end of the game, my damage was 2-12 + 10 (Critical 15-20/ x2) plus whatever bonuses I got from spells. You can already see, though, that +10 to attack bonus means the benefits of using these buffing spells are immediate, even when facing opponents that may be resistant to the different types of damage you are dealing.

Of course, casting all those spells at once takes time, so unless you are very patient, you'll only want to activate them all for bosses. Eventually, you won't need to cast some of the buffing spells, because there are caps to how much you can affect certain things with magic. You will use Divine Might and Holy Sword all the way up to the end, however. Divine Might only lasts for a number of rounds equal to your charisma bonus, though, so always cast it last and keep casting during the fight if you need to until you run out of chances to Turn Undead. Holy Sword lasts as many rounds as you have levels, but you can only cast it once per day until you reach higher levels.

At level 15, I chose to memorize Bull's Strength and Eagle's Splendor because they both last an hour per level. At level 16, though, you can memorize three level two spells, so I added Aura of Glory, which gives you +4 to your charisma bonus for 1 turn per level. That gave me a CHA bonus of 9 after buffing up for a fight. At level 17, you get to use one more level three spell a day. I chose Dispel magic, which came in handy in the room with illusory chests on level one of Undermountain. With the pink and green lesser iuon stone I got from that room and casting Eagle's Splendor, I was able to walk around with CHA modifier of 10.

Eventually, I got a better Nymph's Cloak and was able to add 10 divine damage to my attacks using Divine Might. After taking the Divine Shield feat at level 18, I could add 10 to my armor class any time I needed. I could turn undead 13 times a day, so renewing these spells was no problem. I basically owned Undermountain. In fact, I only died once and that was because I got cocky and didn't pause to Lay on Hands during the big brawl at the drow camp.

The early part of the Underdark proved to be easy as well. When I hit level 19, I was able to memorize more spells and when I hit level 20, I added another point to my natural CHA modifier, allowing me to get an 11 with a lucky Eagle's Splendor roll. At this point I had maxed out the amount of paladin spells I could cast per day and decided to become a Champion of Torm so I could start getting some bonus feats and the benefit of the Sacred Defense and Divine Wrath abilities. For my first level as Champion of Torm, I put all my skill points into discipline and heal and took the Armor Skin feat. I did this because I'd had some trouble with the Greater Minogans on level two of the Ruins and began to realize that I needed to start worrying about AC since I was going to be facing enemies with damage reduction more often at this point.

It turned out to be a good thing that I did, because I was able to take out the Mythril Golems guarding the Maker's study (not to mention the Maker himself) with incredible ease after getting a lucky roll on a spell that boosted my AC. With an AC of 50, the golems couldn't touch me. I turned Merkil's Hammer into a Holy Avenger and dispatched them pretty quickly. I think my armor spell wore off just before I killed the second golem. The same thing happened with the Maker. Just as I was thinking I should heal myself, the fight was over and I was able to plop the Lichskull down on Deekin's scaly little head.

At this point, I used some of the money I'd collected so far to enhance Enserric. I had it upgraded to permanently haste me, grant me True Seeing, and give me spell resistance. With hindsight, I realize that I should have maxed out the enhancement bonus, because I ended up not being able to upgrade it anymore after I use the black pearl on it in the Cult Tower. That would have enabled me to use Enserric all the way through he fight with Mephistopheles.

Still, I had no problem at all in Zorvak'mur, though the Beholder caves showed my Achilles' heel to be the reliance on magic. Getting to the obelisk proved to be harder than I'd expected. I had to use the orb from the obelisk to defeat the Eye Tyrant. When I got to level 24 (paladin 20/ champ 4), I took the Epic Prowess and Great Charisma feats. With the amulet of Divine Radiance, I could add another 6 to my CHA, allowing me to get the modifier up to 12 with good rolls. It also gave me the Extra Turning feat, which gave me more opportunities to cast Divine Shield and Divine Might. At level 25, I finally got what I'd been waiting for. Level 5 Champions of Torm get Divine Wrath, which gives you +3 to attack, damage, and saving throws, in addition to giving you +1/5 damage reduction.

I did have a moderately tough battle with Vix'thra, meaning I died twice before finding the right strategy to beat him. The best way I found was to run past him, destroy the phylactery and then lure him into the narrow passageway so I could take him on without being hassled by his bone golems. His breath weapon almost did me in, but I was finally able to deal the finishing blow before he could use it a second time.

I didn't have any problems with the Valsharess, though, as her own buffing spells weren't protection enough. I entered chapter three with a whole bunch of gold and high hopes that I would be able to defeat the Gate Guardians and, eventually, Mephistopheles himself. Those hopes proved to be well founded. The Gate Guardian battles were challenging, as was the fight against the Order of the Long Death, but none of them required much extra thought.

The fight against Mephistopheles, however, was another story. I had to reload twice and switch up my equipment to finally win it, and it was pretty close even then. I wore the Crown of Thorns, Belt of Storm Giant Strength, Boots of Striding +10, the Amulet of Divine Radiance, a Ring of Protection +6, the Ragged Cloak of the Worg, and a Ring of Greater Fire Resistance, which I switched to the Ring of Elemental Cold Immunity when he turned the arena icy.

Eventually, I was able to beat him without cheating, but not without some do-overs. I would like to have been able to say that I beat him handily just by making good choices at level up, but perhaps the game wasn't designed to allow that. Mephistopheles should be hard to beat, since he's the last boss. If anyone has found holes in my strategy that I'm unaware of, though, be sure to let me know. As I mentioned above, I hope this guide has been informative to casual gamers who might have gotten stuck on the harder villains and that it has prevented some of them from abandoning the game out of frustration.

Submitted By: Baedden

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