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Guide to Lay on Hands in Pathfinder

As a carryover from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition, Lay on Hands is an ability that most classes would kill to have. It’s universally handy and, at high levels, can bring a party from the brink of defeat to victory in the blink of an eye – and all because it restores hit points.

Lay on Hands is a Paladin-exclusive ability that, quite simply, rejuvenates the body with a touch. Similar to the various Cure Wounds spells (some of which the Paladin also has), Lay on Hands can instantly restore a small number of hit points to an injured comrade, the number of points increasing with each level. By level 20 this is 10D6 hit points, a not inconsequential number.

This fact alone makes Lay on Hands great for a party, as it grants an otherwise tank-like character the capacity to diversify and heal others. That said, Lay on Hands has numerous other fantastic abilities as well:

– As of Pathfinder Lay on Hands comes included with Mercies that reduce negative status effects such as Dazed, Sickened, Diseased and so forth. When choosing Mercies, consider your current campaign and pick those ailments you’re most likely to run across.

– Lay on Hands, unlike spells, does not use up spell slots. Instead the Paladin can use the ability a number of times equal to half his Paladin level, plus his Charisma modifier, plus any other feats or abilities he may have that increase the number (like Extra Lay on Hands or the Warrior of the Holy Light sub class).

– Because Lay on Hands uses positive energy, it’s lethal to undead. Treat Lay on Hands attacks against undead as touch attacks. In most cases it’s best to save Lay on Hands for healing purposes, but you can use it to attack if you have no other weapons or need a lot of damage quickly.

– Lay on Hands uses can be expelled to trigger other abilities, such as Channel Energy which heals multiple characters rather than just one – and at a range, to boot.

– Last, Lay on Hands is a standard action application for most characters… but for the Paladin’s own body, it’s a free action. This means that a Paladin can go on the attack and heal himself each turn, so long as he has a free hand to perform the action, allowing him to remain in the front lines all the longer.

It is, consequently, of paramount importance that every Paladin make the most of their Lay on Hands ability, as there’s virtually no situation in which it’s not handy. Conserve your uses for sticky moments, and be sure to consistently upgrade the number of uses you get with each level. It’s easy to forget that you get another use at every even number, as well as with statistical bonuses to your Charisma.

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