I'd planned to write about three Pathfinder classes in each blog. I just had a lot say about the new paladin!
Paladin: The paladin's ethos has always struck a particular cord with me since I've always tried to "do the right thing" in my real life. It's long been one of my very favorite classes too. It's even more so in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. This paladin is nothing short of astonishing; the best interpretation of the class I have ever seen.
Paizo has added more strength to what's been, for me, painfully debated over the years as a "weak class." This paladin has more verve and teeth! Revised class abilities make for an equitable trade off when players are forced by in game moral dilemmas to act according to a knight's code rather than player wants. Many of the paladin's new class abilities are reminiscent of the knights of Arthurian legend (cf. auras: resistance to charm, resistance to evil, etc.)
I particularly like the strengthening of lay on hands and the coupling of it with mercy, the ability to concurrently remove negative conditions whilst laying on hands. A cleric can't do that! Paladins can channel energy and damage undead with lay on hands too. Here again, are more options such as divine bond. Don't want the traditional paladin's warhorse? How about a holy sword instead! Imagine this: the paladin strikes a demon so hard with smite evil that the vile thing is sent back to hell! How cool is that!?
The paladin is so stirring a choice that it makes me wish I were playing in a campaign rather than running one. The paladin has maybe never been a really "fun" class, but I'm certain this one certainly will be!
Personal Digressions: My second ever AD&D character was also a paladin named Thremnir (a name ripped from "The Worm Ouroboros," by E. R. Eddison, (1922), a book I had but was too young to even read, much less understand). Thremnir was an alter ego for my younger, more idealistic self, a man with a sword and a healing hand who could actually do something about wrongs in the world. I've only had one other opportunity to play a paladin and, quite frankly, it sucked. He was killed by an earth elemental and thereafter nicknamed "Sir Squishy." He tried to rescue a female halfling in distress.
I also earned an 'A' in my senior seminar in college: Seminar for English Majors: Arthurian Literature. The thing that put me over the top was reading Wolfram von Eshenbach's (born 1170, died 1220), Parzival, in translation from Middle High German and submitting a 25-page paper on the topic. See? I'm serious about my knights! (The Tolkien seminar was booked solid.)