Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hospitaler Prestige Class- Like a Paladin...but worse!

One of the aspects of D&D that makes it so appealing to so many people, myself certainly included, is how many options there are available, so many ways to create a character and outfit them with all sorts of gear and abilities. That being said, some are just totally unnecessary. Such as the Hospitaler. One of the problems with a lot of prestige classes is that they don’t do anything new, whatever they bring to the table can easily be recreated in core so I don’t really see the point of them. The Hospitaler is a good example because as far as I can tell it is a Paladin, however one that is a little bit worse. Sounds great, right?

In theory the Hospitaler is some sort of traveling knight who is obligated to provide protection to travelers. In reality it is a paladin who gives up some abilities for a reduction in their normal abilities. So awesome. In order to get into this prestige class a character needs a Base Attack of +5, 5 ranks of ride and handle animal, the Mounted Combat and Ride By Attack feats, an ability to cast 1st level divine spells, and a non chaotic alignment. A 5th level Paladin easily qualifies for all of this, a Ranger could as well but based on some of the abilities the Hospitaler receives it is clearly intended for the Paladin. So the question really is, what does a character gain by giving up future levels of Paladin for this nifty prestige class? Let’s break it down.

Both classes have full base attack, good Fort saves, and 2+ skill points a level. Both also receive the Lay on Hands ability, which stacks if the character already had it, so that too is a wash. Remove disease? Ditto, they both get it. The Paladin has a d10 Hit Die, whereas the Hospitaler inexplicably gets a d8. The Hospitaler also has reduced spellcasting, only getting an increased caster level for 7 of 10 levels. The paladin has slow casting to begin with and this only makes them a poorer user of magic. The other thing that really strikes me as odd is the lack of focus on mounted combat. The only feat requirements for this class are both related to mounted combat, so it seems obvious that this class would give them some advantages there. It sort of does in a very roundabout way (we will get to that in a moment), but what it does not do it make the mount any better. A Paladin’s special mount is actually pretty good but class levels do not stack for the two classes, essentially leaving the mount in a state of stasis as they get no new abilities. Likewise, the smite ability is left behind.

So what does the Hospitaler get? A couple of bonus feats. At 1st, 5th, and 9th level they get an extra feat from the fighter bonus feat list. That’s it. At least with this they can improve on their mounted combat skills with some feats, but there really aren’t that many available. They already have two of them, Spirited Charge and Trample are nice but a normal progression of levels will get them soon enough. A human could have them both by 6th level. The other aspect of the class that deserves mentioning is that a Paladin can take levels of Hospitaler and return to Paladin levels, which I guess counts for something. You can dip in for the free feat and then return to the holy warrior that is the Paladin. It’s nice that you can go back to the Paladin once you realize how poor of an option this prestige class is. The better option would be to have Fighter be the 1st level, and then take Paladin but whatever.

The other great thing about Hospitalers is the Code of Conduct that they have to adhere to. They must swear an oath of poverty, obedience, and defense of those in their care. As if being a Paladin wasn’t enough fun, you now have to be a poor Paladin.

And where are the abilities related to protecting people? I fail to see them. A straight Paladin, or even a Knight, would fill the intended role of this class much better than the Hospitaler does. Some classes are clearly meant to fill pages in a book, rather than a role in a campaign and this is certainly one of them. Thumbs down.


Anonymous said...

If you go into this class from Paladin, you're doin' it wrong. A straight up cleric can qualify by level 8. Come level 20 your base attack is 17/12/7/2, you can cast level 9 spells, and it's cost you a few spells per day and put a dent in your will save. You also score some bonus feats for your trouble, which are just bonus joy at that point.

Hospitaler is very very good.

Fran said...

I disagree with the Cleric entry into the class. For starters Ride and Handle Animal are cross class for the Cleric so they can not get into Hospitaler until 10th level, which isn't a big deal since it is a 10 level prestige class. However it is a huge investment in skill points for a class that does not have many. Also, mounted combat and ride by attack do not seem like the best options for a cleric. Sure, you will get some bonus feats later on but they will just make up for what you wasted getting into the class. I think they would be better spent on divine feats or something magic related.
In the end you gain two points of base attack, but lose 3 levels of spellcasting. That hardly seems worth it. And your ability to turn powerful undead greatly suffers.

Anonymous said...

It's cross class sure, but if you take the Able Learner feat from Races of Destiny you can buy cross class skill points at 1 point per, though you're still capped off at 1/2 what a class skill would be. Class skills caps off at your level +3, so by level 8 the max ranks you can have in a class skill is 11, and the max you can have in a cross-class skill is 5. Same from level 7, so qualifying AT level 8 is no problem. (High int is obviously a must if you're going to do this, of course, lest your heal, concentration, knowledge; religion, etc go neglected)

Yes the investments into mounted combat are significant, but you -do- get three bonus feats in return, as well as a full base attack bonus. That is not too shabby. And lastly, don't be so quick to pooh-pooh the advantages a mount can bring in combat! If it's a large scale battle you can get to allies more quickly, and with the Ranged Touch metamagic feat cast healing spells from 30 feet away.

Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Or also, if your party already HAS a healer and you want to make a terrific "fifth member" that can both hang in serious fighting and make a more meaningful contribution to healing duties than a Paladin can, another terrific build would be to start off 4 fighter/2 cleric, then take 10 levels in Hospitaler, and then round out the last 4 levels up 'till 20 with whatever mix of fighter, (more bonus feats!)cleric (casting potential all the way up to level 13 for a net loss of 2 Base Attack!) or whatever mix of the two you care for. Heck, you could even squeeze in another prestige class for fun if you'd like. Maybe exotic weapon master?

The important thing to look at here is that Hospitaler can turn a cleric into an ass-kicker, or it can turn a fighter into a fully-equipped backup cleric casting up to level 6 spells. And THAT is awesome.

Fran said...

I still think that a cleric going into Hospitaler is a waste, a paladin as well. But you make an interesting point about a fighter dipping into cleric and then going for it. That could be a pretty decent build, capable of helping a party in multiple ways. Right now I am DMing (again) and I am going to make an NPC at some point that has that build. I'll let you know how it turns out.
The problem is the mounted combat feats for entry. I like mounted combat, it's very good. But the Hospitaler does nothing for it, the entry requirements seem unrelated to the class. That is why I think it's a weak class.
I'd be curious what you think of some of my other class reviews.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Take paladin2/cleric4/hospitaler. Base att 15 in 16 levels, good spellcasting, and some habilities of the paladin stack. I played once and like a lot. Very good class

Anonymous said...

change subtitle yes for full paladins the class sucks but for multitasking its op like the horned harbinger if build well. liten to me put heirophant and all bosses die like roaches you even have a guild of clerics its like the knight of the middle circle guild. you forget items you must be anti must be necro or something

Anonymous said...

I'm just gonna leave this here for posterity: this class is a trap. Clerics don't care about the BAB increase because they they already have the Divine Power spell that gives them BAB equal to their caster level way back at level 7 and this class reduces caster levels, and paladins don't care either because this class also delays spellcasting and dosen't advance their special mount which in 3.5 allowed you to get a very young gold dragon at level 11 as your personal Pokémon (look in the DMG under Special Mounts) to allow him to even survive the back end of the game. Way way back in 3.0 Hospitaler was an ok choice for clerics because it was full casting, but 3.5 came and beat it with the nerf stick so thoroughly as to be worse than just not having it on your character sheet.