Johanna the Crusader

A walking paragon of armor and shield, Crusaders like Johanna are unflinching in their fight against Diablo and his minions of Hell.

Who Is Johanna the Crusader?

Who Are Johanna the Crusader?

Like D2, Diablo III seemed to come into its own with the release of its expansion, Reaper of Souls. The update came with some new systems, a spooky new boss (Malthael) and a new class: the Crusader.

Something between a Paladin and a Sorceress, the Crusader was a hefty, heavily armored character that had access to mid-range abilities – often dealing holy or fire damage. The fit was perfect, with the hot white light of the Crusader's spell effects cutting through the misty gloom of the expansion like a knife (or a flail).

When the Crusader was brought into Heroes of the Storm, it was done so with the "canon" name and character, Johanna. Johanna entered the game instantly viable, the hardest character to take down so far. She had little mobility, and no burst damage to add to the team, but she excelled in her strengths – survivability and lockdown.

Chief among those strengths was one of her ultimate abilities, Blessed Shield. This ability took a cue from Cap himself, as Johanna threw a shield that bounced between foes, stunning them. It was an incredibly impactful ability in teamfights, locking down three enemies in an instant.

However, it wasn't the ultimate I chose. Every game, I went Falling Sword. The ability saw Johanna leap into the sky for an extended period of time, coming down hard in a flurry of fire and gravity some time later.

You might say that it is counterintuitive to have your tank leave the battle for an undetermined amount of time, leaving your squishier allies defenseless. That's true. But I didn't care. It was just too fun and too cool looking.

And so the question is here: how do we make Johanna the Crusader (and her Falling Sword) in Pathfinder?

Keys to the Character

Johanna's shield

Chairwoman of the Board

Some Crusaders use flails, some use swords. Some use more holy attacks, some are more physical. All of them have huge freaking shields.

Crusader flail

Epic Flail

Johanna's weapon of choice is a flail, which she swings around at any nearby enemies, tripping and disarming them. Not too mention hurting them.

Crusader falling star

A Sword Dropped From Heaven

Blessed Shield may have been the meta choice, but I went Falling Sword every time. Johanna starts every battle by dropping in on her enemies in a burst of fire and shattered earth.

Diablo Holy Symbol

Holy $%!#

As a crusader against the demons of hell, Johanna's damage type of choice is Holy. But, in a pinch, she is willing to fight fire with fire.

Building Johanna the Crusader

Some characters from Pop Culture fight into the base classes of Pathfinder very well except for just one thing.

That's where we find ourselves with Johanna the Crusader, who is a straightforward Shield Ally Paladin in many ways, except for the fact that somehow we need to get access to Blazing Dive.

Blazing Dive, a Rank 3 Primal and Arcane spell, is the perfect Pathfinder 2e stand-in for Falling Star. It lifts the caster 15 ft. in the air, allowing them to fly up to 60 ft. away, causing bludgeoning and fire damage to all nearby creatures upon landing.

Johanna will use it as an opener, smashing down in the middle of the enemy force, fully armored and shielded, ready to keep foes busy while her allies rain down attacks. However, it isn't too straightforward to add a Primal or Arcane spell to a Champion.

My preferred way – is through a Cleric Dedication, with a Deity that has Blazing Dive in their spell repertoire. None of the Pathfinder 2e deities have that... but that hasn't stopped us for a lot of these builds. So Johanna's deity is the Angiris Council of the high heavens.

On the battlefield, Johanna is a tank, tested and true. Her goal above all is to get to the front line (usually in a blaze of glory) and remain there, keeping enemies from getting by to her allies. She is exceptionally hard to take down – covered in heavy armor and adept at the biggest shields.

While her mission is to defend against evil, she is also no slouch and pushing evil back – either with her trusty flail, or some holy fire strikes from mid-range.

Outside of battle, Johanna is a bit of a stick in the mud. Her crusader edicts keep her from cutting loose and having much fun, and she doesn't love when her party does that either. But her legendary religion can come in handy, and she has some healing to help the team as well.


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Versatile Human

Unlike Tyrael, another Champion from the Diablo universe, Johanna is not angelic (or aasimar). She's an ordinary human, with unflinching resolve and unwavering faith in her crusade.

The Versatile Heritage is a big leg up in the early game for Tank characters – they don't necessarily need more General Feats by the end of the build, but the ones they do want are extra helpful early.

Meanwhile, the Multitalented feat comes in clutch with a Cleric Dedication, freeing up an extra feat to spend on more of its later benefits.





General Training

For Fleet. In this case, representing Johanna's strength as she shrugs off the Heavy Armor speed penalty.


General Training

For Pilgrim's Token. Johanna makes sure she can act soon enough to protect allies.


Multitalented: Cleric Dedication

Crusaders use holy and flaming attacks to spurn away their enemies. Cleric feats will go a long way in helping accomplish that.


Bounce Back

Crusaders never say die. How can they? They need to keep crusadin'.


Heroic Presence

The Champion auras don't interest Johanna, but this is a nice alternative.



If a Crusader isn't faithful, what are we doing here? This is a short and sweet background, perfect for Johanna. We'll take the Strength boost happily, and the Intimidation skill is an extra bonus.

Group coercion isn't particularly how Johanna wants things to play out – but it might be nice to have.


Champion - Paladin Cause

The Champion class gets a lot of Johanna the Crusader's flavor right out of the box with the Paladin Cause. The Divine Ally feat, in her case for a Divine Shield, sets her up with a bunch of great shield-use actions down the line. The Crusader can already wear the heaviest armors, so there is no need for additional archetypes for either of those things.

Plus, the extra Paladin mainstays – like Lay on Hands or Retributive Strike – can fairly easily be imagined as fitting the Crusader class in Diablo.

Johanna will expand on the focus spells she gets access to through Lay on Hands with a Diety's Domain – the Angiris Council in this case. This gives access to a few holy or light-based actions straight out of Tristram. Dazzling Flash, for instance, could be Shield Glare straight across.

In order to continue with some holy spells, we pick up a Cleric Dedication at level 9 through Multitalented, again with the Angiris Council Diety.

The big benefit here, and the reason we're using a Reflavored or Homebrew deity, is to pick up our stand in for Falling Sword – Blazing Dive. But since we've started that path, why not go further? We'll also get Expert Cleric Spellcasting and Divine Breadth to expand Johanna's spell slots and capabilities.

One note if you have a dick GM who won't let you use Angiris Council as a deity – it is better then to forgo the Cleric Dedication at all. Instead, take a Sorcerer Dedication with a Primal Tradition, like Elemental, and only grab one of the Spellcasting feats. For the two leftover, take shield feats, like Shield of Grace.





Deity's Domain: Sun

Start off the build with a fancy shield glare ability.


Devoted Guardian

Bruiser's delight! A free bonus to an adjacent ally whenever Johanna's shield is raised.


Light of Revelation

On one hand this is just a big light, on the other it brings the Crusader to 3 focus points at level 4.


Shield Warden

Johanna can use her Shield Block for an ally, rather than herself.


Quick Shield Block

A free Shield Block reaction every turn.


Basic Cleric Spellcasting

At last, the Falling Sword initiation move.


Divine Wall

Other roles delight! Enemies find it hard to get past Johanna.


Expert Cleric Spellcasting

More spell slots up to the 6th rank, plus more overall spell slots after Divine Breadth later.


Divine Breadth

Falling Star, now more times!


Divine Reflexes

Johanna's two reactions are dedication to Shield Blocks, so here is a free one for Retributive Strikes!


Shield Paragon

The holiest of blessings on Johanna's shield, rendering it nearly unbreakable.

Skills & General Feats

A Crusader needs two things: to be totally convicted in their cause, and to never stop pushing forward.

We'll bring those two things to life with Legendary Religion and Athletics skills, respectively. Other than that, the only real focus skill-wise for Johanna is in society.

Legendary: Athletics, Religion

Master: -

Expert: Society






Johanna intends to do most her tanking with defense, and extra health is the last line of defense.



Crusaders are strong enough to shrug off armor speed penalties.


Hefty Hauler

As if heavy armor isn't heavy enough, the party gets Johanna to carry everything else.



If horses come into play, Crusaders will ride forward.


No Cause For Alarm

When you're as protected as Johanna, you don't scare easily. The party shouldn't either.


Pilgrim's Token

Never tie on initiative rolls, because of faith.


Student of the Canon

Are you going to tell me a crusader doesn't know what they are crusading for?


Pick up the Pace

If the tank is leading the march, breaks aren't in the plan.


Armor Assist

The not often talked about downside of big armor: how long it takes for a bathroom break.


Courtly Graces

The court? The High Heavens.


Battle Prayer

A quick little call to the Angiris Council to smite a foe out of nowhere.


Sacred Defense

Temporary hit points once per hour, thanks to the Angiris Council.



Stupify a target with the boredom of religious teachings.


Divine Guidance

Ask the Angiris Council to speak through the GM, offering a hint or a plan.


Shameless Request

Assume that everyone is a follower of the council and ask them to share with a fellow parisher.


Sanctify Water

Give your hydro homies a boost, turning thier water skin into a little holy hand grenade.


Incredible Investiture

Add a few extra magic items to that armor. There's room, after all.


Consult the Spirits

Speak with the fallen paladins of crusades past, looking for answers.

Attribute Increases

Level Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
1 18 12 16 10 12 10
5 19 12 18 10 14 12
10 20 12 19 10 16 14
15 21 12 20 10 18 16
20 22 14 21 10 19 16


Suggested Starting Equipment

Flail - Not just a nifty weapon, also handy for disarming foes and looking cool.

Johanna the Crusader's Signature Items

Key Spells






If Johanna doesn't have enough light effects already, one more in cantrip form.


Divine Lance

Johanna is slow, so if she ever truly can't make it to an enemy, a divine poke.



Bestow the divine blessing of the Angiris Council upon the whole party.


Burning Hands

A cone of holy fire, blasting out from the hand of a Crusader.


Inner Radiance Torrent

A two, three or SIX action spell with varying levels of shiny pain.


Instant Armor

Who needs a squire when you can just "zap" armor on?


Blazing Dive

Falling Sword. Leap into the fray, with fire and smashing.


Radiant Heart of Devotion

A holy aura, empowering enemies and bumming out foes.


Fire Shield

A holy protection of flames burns any would-be attackers.


Breath of Life

Call upon the Angiris Council to stop an ally from dying at the last second. The crusade needs them!


Field of Life

A giant aoe area of healing and respite, before the march into Hell.


Johanna the Crusader Resources