D&D 5th Edition [GUIDE] My Word Is My Sword: The Paladin Guide
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    [GUIDE] My Word Is My Sword: The Paladin Guide

    My Word Is My Sword: The Paladin Guide

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    ďIt is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.Ē
    ó Aeschylus

    Guide linked on Google Docs, as well.

    NOTE: This is an update of my old "Oathbound" guide, complete with SCAG material. I gave it a new name to distinguish it. I also got tired of waiting for control of my old guide so decided to make a new thread with a snappier new name.

    Table of Contents:
    I. Introduction
    II. Proficiencies, Attributes, Backgrounds and Class Features
    III. Oaths
    IV. Races
    V. Feats
    VI. Spells
    VII. Equipment
    VIII. Multiclassing
    IX. FAQ
    X. Builds and Combos

    This guide will use the following ratings:
    Red is dead. A choice that either adds nothing of value to your character or might even actively hurt it.
    Purple is a substandard choice. It might be useful in corner-case situations, but overall it's not worth the investment.
    Black is average. You're not hurting your character by taking this, and it might even help in some situations, but there are better choices.
    Blue is a good choice. It definitely helps your character in the majority of cases.
    Sky Blue is a fantastic choice. An option you should strongly consider above most others.
    Gold is mandatory. It's a rare rating that denotes something that is so good that you must take it, or you can't call yourself optimized.

    This guide takes from the following sources:
    PHB - Playerís Handbook
    MM - Monster Manual
    DMG - Dungeon Masterís Guide
    EEPC - Elemental Evil Playerís Companion
    SCAG - Sword Coast Adventurerís Guide
    VGM - Volo's Guide to Monsters
    *** Note: Material from Unearthed Arcana is always considered playtest material and will not be rated in this guide. But feel free to discuss it in the thread.


    I. Introduction

    What's a Paladin?

    A question that became an unfortunate meme from the unfortunate ninth and final entry in the Ultima series.

    The definition in D&D terms of a Paladin has changed over editions, but one constant that remains to this day is that they are warriors bound by divine rites to serve something greater than them, whether that is a god or a cause, and gain power beyond their martial training from the strength of their divinely manifested convictions.

    It used to be that all Paladins had to be Lawful Good, period, end of sentence, or they would lose their divine powers. Mechanically, this sort of made sense in AD&D (1e and 2e) where Paladins were literally Fighters with extra stuff. But even back then, arguments arose at many a table over whether an individual act by a Paladin violated the nebulous concepts of "lawful" or "good," which often in the end would result in a Paladin falling and becoming a mere Fighter. Which at least wasn't that weak. But when 3rd Edition came about, Paladins couldn't even be considered "Fighter-plus" anymore. Yet 3e kept the Lawful Good restriction and the "falling" concept in place, and when Paladins fell in that edition, they were basically NPC Warriors with a d10 hit die, having none of the bonus feats the Fighter got. Furthermore, Paladins were one of the most mechanically inept classes in 3e even when they didn't fall.

    4e, recognizing that, took the bold step of making it so that Paladins could no longer fall and lose their powers (although instead the DM was given free license to send constant disruptions to punish faithless Paladins). Furthermore, 4e codified, in core rules, the existence of Paladins who weren't Lawful Good for the first time. Instead, they matched the alignment of the god to whom they swore allegiance. The expansion of alignments Paladins could be in the core rules was a welcome change, although explicitly tying them to gods where they weren't before was arguably a step back.

    Now with the coming of 5e, Paladins can once again suffer mechanical consequences for directly violating their oaths, but with some welcome twists. Now Paladins can only fall by directly violating the tenets of their oaths, rather than just some nebulous concept of "lawful" or "good." That also means that any justifications the player makes for his actions to the DM are compared to actual concrete tenets, and while this certainly won't halt player vs. DM debates altogether, it does more clearly define the battlefield on which those debates take place. And while the three oaths in the Player's Handbook can be more or less mapped to certain alignments (which thankfully are not restricted to Lawful Good), a Paladin's individual alignment need not necessarily match the oath's connotations. Also, as if continuing to recognize that fallen Paladins became mechanically incapable after AD&D, falling means either being forced to pick another class altogether or taking the Oathbreaker variant.

    Paladins of this current edition hit that spot flavor-wise, finally becoming the divinely oath-bound warriors they were purported to be all along, without the annoying direct ties to alignment.

    Mechanical overview

    Paladins in 5e have returned back to their classic "half-caster" status that was the case in 1e-3e. However, unlike especially 3e, this isn't really a bad thing. Paladins start casting their spells at Lv. 2, making their spellcasting a vital and working part of the class. Furthermore, with the way casting Difficulty Classes scale now, based on proficiency bonus and casting stat, a spell cast by a Paladin is no less effective than that same spell cast by a Cleric or Wizard. Moreover, while Paladins only top out at Lv. 5 spells, they top out with the same number of slots from Lv. 1-4 as full casters do, and only one less Lv. 5 slot; plus with full casters' Lv. 6-9 slots coming at a premium in this edition, the truth is that Paladins, as concerns the number of spells they can cast per day, are not terribly far behind the full casters.

    Paladins have traditionally been among the most multiple-attribute dependant (MAD) classes in D&D history. In 5e, that holds true to the extent of what MAD is in this edition, which simply means requiring a peak physical and mental stat to get the most out of the class, limiting the number of feats that the Paladin can reasonably take. Paladins in 5e want peak Strength (or Dexterity) and Charisma scores (with some Constitution), but that is a far better situation than in the past. Decoupling spellcasting from Wisdom (as it was in 3e) and attaching it to Charisma instead was a major boon for the class this time around; in fact, Paladins have no Wisdom-dependent abilities this time around (unlike 3e and 4e).

    The abilities that Paladins get as they level in this edition are far, far more robust than in editions past. Aside from getting spellcasting earlier (and better spells along with that), they get several auras that benefit both them and their nearby allies, which include the classical Charisma bonus to all saving throws and even some straight-up immunities and resistances to some common effects and attacks. They can also smite a lot more often and for more damage, using their spell slots to power them, and thankfully this smiting is no longer alignment-restricted. Their Lay on Hands is still a solid source of healing and is also much more versatile this time around, being able to heal poisons and diseases as well.

    Strengths and weaknesses


    • Very versatile class as far as physical combatants go. Can heal, protect, spike their damage, wear the best armor, and buff the entire party's combat abilities.
    • One Oath (Vengeance) is among the most damaging in the entire game against one powerful enemy every short rest.
    • The second-deadliest reaction attacks in the game, after the Rogue, thanks to Divine Smite, which can make the Paladin as effective as a 4e-style "Defender" can get.
    • High Charisma means solid social skills performance, and Paladins also get access to Persuasion and Intimidation on their class' list.
    • Immune to diseases as early as Lv. 3, and auras later on not only increase their saves and flat-out negate some of the most common and potentially deadly conditions, but extend that benefit to their allies.
    • Proficiency in Wisdom saves out of the box, the ability that some of the nastiest effects in the game target.


    • Weak in ranged combat. Most of a Paladinís major combat features and spells are geared toward melee combat. Thus when forced into a ranged-heavy battle, Paladins function at a fraction of their offensive power.
    • Generally weak against hordes. This depends on the Oath (and one particular Oath is a major exception to this), but anti-horde spells and features are mostly either highly situational or lacking altogether.
    • While MAD isn't nearly the devastating weakness it was in editions past, it still means Paladins must limit the number of feats they take, and must pick wisely.
    • Reliant on spells (buffs or smites) for most of their big damage. Even with Improved Divine Smite from Lv. 11 on, the Paladin's base, unbuffed DPR isn't going to match a Fighter's after that level. That divide becomes more pronounced with magic weapons and feats like Great Weapon Master in the mix.
    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Sunday, 18th December, 2016 at 05:58 AM.
    XP Quartz, Agravain, Seuleslintan, Justin Fike gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    II. Basics of the Class

    Hit Die - d10: Only the Barbarian has it better than this. Youíre on par with the Fighter and Ranger here, definitely suitable for being in the thick of a melee.


    : All armor and shields is as good as it gets.
    Weapons: All simple and martial weapons is as good as it gets.
    Tools: None. If you get any proficiencies here, they'll likely be from your background. Also, at least you can actually spend money and downtime to pick up proficiencies in this category.

    Saving Throws: Every class gets one "common" save (DEX, CON, WIS) and one "uncommon" save (STR, INT, CHA). Yours are Wisdom and Charisma. Wisdom is the target for some of the nastiest mind-effecting conditions in the game, so to have proficiency here is both thematic and very good in practice. And while Charisma saves are very rare, they mostly deal with banishment effects, so itís sure nice to have around when somethingís trying to send you to another plane.

    Skills: Pick two from the following. (Your background will give you more skill proficiencies, which are not restricted to this list. Your race may also give you more chances to pick skill proficiencies, again not limited to this list.)

    • Athletics (STR): Helps you climb, jump, and swim. More importantly, it can help you break out of grapples and resist shoves. And, if youíre STR-based, grappling and shoving become viable combat options for you. In any case, a great pick. If the Shield Master feat is in your plans, this is mandatory because it governs how effective your shove is.
    • Insight (WIS): Good for countering against lies and attempts to deceive you, so itís a fairly important skill. Taking proficiency in this helps make up for a likely average WIS.
    • Intimidation (CHA): One of the social skills you're bound to be good at with a high CHA. Whether you pick proficiency in this or Persuasion will largely depend on personality; if you want to be a mean Paladin, take this.
    • Medicine (WIS): Bleh. Your WIS will probably be average, and besides that, you throw around enough healing magic in various forms to where the need to mundanely stabilize someone or diagnose a disease are rare.
    • Persuasion (CHA): Another social skill, and while YMMV, probably comes up in more crucial gatherings, if not more often than Intimidation in a lot of cases. In any case, a prime pick.
    • Religion (INT): Uses the attribute that is very likely to be your dump stat, and even if it didnít, itís not exactly a useful skill to begin with. Do not waste your proficiency on this.

    Non-class skills: You canít get these with your class options, but you might get these from your background or race:

    • Perception (WIS): If you can get proficiency in this all-important skill somehow, do so. Group Perception checks are common when spotting enemies trying to ambush you, and you donít want to be a liability.
    • Stealth (DEX): If you choose to attack using DEX instead of STR (a viable option for a Paladin this time around), you just might want proficiency here. Assassin allies will thank you for it.
    • Acrobatics (DEX): For DEX-based Paladins, this is often a substitute for Athletics. Itís the DEX option for escaping from grapples and resisting shoves (but NOT for grappling or shoving yourself), and it can also do things like help you stay on your feet or on a tightrope.
    • Survival (WIS): An all-around useful skill in the exploration tier when stuck in the wilderness.
    • Deception (CHA): Youíll certainly be good at it, and it can be useful if you need to work undercover, stay in disguise, and so forth. Out of character for Oath of Devotion, but others can appreciate it.
    • Animal Handling (WIS): You might consider this one if you plan on being mounted a lot.
    • Sleight of Hand (DEX): Shouldnít be a priority, but not really a waste either if you get it from a background. Can come in handy.
    • Performance (CHA): Can be a solid source of income during downtime, if nothing else. Definitely not a priority, though.
    • Investigation (INT): The only remotely useful INT skill, but not good enough to want to invest in that attribute.
    • Arcana/History/Nature (INT): Like Religion, you wonít be any good at these, so donít bother.


    In general, if you play a game that uses point buy, you'll definitely want to buy an array that starts with two 15s to put in your attack stat and Charisma. (e.g. 15, 15, 13, 10, 10, 8). Depending on your race and the attribute bonuses you get from your race, you might make a fine adjustment to 15, 14, 14, etc., or whatever.

    The attributes in order of how you'll want to prioritize them:

    • Strength OR Dexterity: Your attack attribute. You are a weapon-based combatant, first and foremost. You want to start at least a 16 after racial bonuses if at all possible, and you want to get it to the maximum 20 ASAP. (And yes, indeed, Paladins who attack with DEX using a finesse weapon are completely viable in this edition; they lose nothing out of their class features from doing so and carry with them their own advantages such as a higher Initiative, cheaper armor, a saving throw that is tested far moreso than Strength is, the ability to go stealthy, and better ranged weapon options.)
    • Charisma: Every Paladin needs this. CHA does many things for this class. Arguably the most significant is the bonus to all of your saves (and nearby allies' saves) that gets applied starting at 6th level with Aura of Protection. Also of importance, your spell and Channel Divinity DC are based on CHA. And finally, it determines the amount of times per day you can use Divine Sense and, later, Cleansing Touch. Start this at 16 after racial bonuses if at all possible. Topping this out at 20 eventually (but only after Strength/Dexterity) should be a goal, but stopping at 18 in favor of a feat is acceptable. A particularly feat-intensive build (e.g. Vengeance Polearm Master/Great Weapon Master/Sentinel) can justify leaving it at 16, but thatís about it.
    • Constitution: Should definitely be your third-highest stat. More hit points is always good, for one. Constitution is also an attribute that, like Wisdom, gets targeted often and by some of the nastiest effects in the game. And finally, if you plan on casting Concentration spells in the middle of combat, you want a decent score here to maintain them when taking damage. You'll want this around 14-16 for most of your career; if you're playing in a game where feats aren't an option, definitely put any ability score increases after maxing out your attack stat and Charisma here.
    • Wisdom: A stat you can be content to leave in the 10-12 range. It helps that the Paladin is proficient in Wisdom saves. Boost Charisma instead and let Aura of Protection take care of the rest. You do NOT want a penalty here, though; aside from it being a major save attribute, some very good skills are attached to this attribute.
    • Dexterity OR Strength: Basically, whichever of the two you didn't take as your attack stat. You do NOT want a penalty in Dexterity if youíre attacking with Strength, however, since you don't want a penalty to initiative and to its oft-tested saving throw. Put a 10 there and be done with it. On the other hand, if youíre attacking with Dexterity, Strength is actually a viable dump stat IF you donít plan to multiclass. (If you DO plan to multiclass, youíll need STR 13 to qualify.)
    • Intelligence: The "Paladunce" is alive and well. And for good reason, as INT is the least-tested saving throw, even less so than STR and CHA, is attached to skills you will likely never use, and helps none of your class features. Dump it. Hard.


    You can customize your background with help from your DM, but here are the "official" backgrounds.

    Also keep in mind that if a background gives you a skill you already had from your class or race, you get to pick any other skill to replace it (including a non-class skill). This is a good way to pick up something like Perception, Acrobatics or Stealth.

    PHB backgrounds

    Acolyte: Thematically appropriate, for sure, but mechanically it leaves a lot to be desired. Insight is good; Religion, not so much. No tools proficiency, either; tools are generally a better proficiency to begin with than languages (although you can learn both anyway through downtime and money). At least the free healing and care from temples of your religion is nice?
    Charlatan: Interesting dissonance in theme versus the typical Paladin, to say the least, but actually pretty solid for a DEX-Paladin. Deceptionís good, Sleight of Hand is OK. Also nice tool proficiencies in disguise kit and forgery kit, and False Identity is a feature that can come in handy.
    Criminal/Spy: Another dissonant theme (maybe less so if you say you're a Spy), but damn, it's a great pick for DEX-Paladins, especially if you want to go Stealth. You'll make great use of Deception as well, and proficiency in thieves' tools is icing on the cake. Having contacts is pretty nifty, too.
    Entertainer/Gladiator: You'll certainly put Performance to good use, and if you're a DEX-Paladin, Acrobatics as well. Other than that, pretty average.
    Folk Hero: Pretty average as well. Animal Handling is OK and Survival is solid, though.
    Guild Artisan/Guild Merchant: Good skill proficiencies in Insight and Persuasion, with a set of artisan's tools (or navigator's if Merchant) as a proficiency. And guild membership's benefits are pretty nice.
    Hermit: Nope. One marginal at best skill and another that's completely worthless to you.
    Noble/Knight: Very thematically appropriate, but a mixed bag mechanically. Persuasion is awesome, but History is worthless. Position of Privilege or (if a Knight) Retainers are both nice features, though.
    Outlander: Athletics is great, Survival is good, and the Wanderer feature's exploration benefits and free food and fresh water make for a solid background.
    Sage: Worthless skills, and the feature isn't something a Paladin is likely to use either. Avoid.
    Sailor/Pirate: Two winning skills in Athletics and Perception. Good tools proficiencies in navigator's tools and water vehicles, and both Ship's Passage and the Pirate's Bad Reputation certainly have their uses. A top background choice, for sure. (Pirateís got some interesting dissonance, though.)
    Soldier: Two skills right up a Paladin's alley in Athletics and Intimidation, land vehicles profieicncy and the potentially wonderful campaign benefits of Military Rank. Can't ask for much better than that. Thematically perfect for a classic Paladin, too.
    Urchin: Much like Criminal/Spy, great for DEX-Paladins who want to go Stealth. You get Sleight of Hand, too, and also thieves' tools and disguise kit proficiencies. And City Secrets is great for navigation in urban areas.

    SCAG backgrounds

    City Watch: Two worthy skills in Athletics and Insight, and a solid urban benefit in Watcherís Eye. Plus thematically appropriate for Oath of the Crown, in particular. The Investigator variant isnít your thing, though, since it replaces Athletics with an INT-based skill.
    Clan Crafter: The main draws are artisan tool proficiency and you have good relations with Dwarves. History as a skill is a waste for you, though.
    Cloistered Scholar: Ah, no.
    Courtier: Two good skills in Insight and Persuasion, two languages and a useful feature when dealing with nobility and government. Thematically appropriate for many Paladins, too.
    Faction Agent: Always gets Insight as a skill, which is solid. However, most of the Forgotten Realms factions listed have their second skill as an INT-based knowledge skill, which isnít so good. Safe Haven is a strong feature, though, considering the power these factions tend to have in the world. Zhentarim has Deception instead of a knowledge skill, which might be handy for a Paladin Oath that doesnít necessarily object to using that skill.
    Far Traveler: Perception is king, of course, and Insight is good, too. All Eyes on You can be beneficial in diplomatic settings, as well.
    Inheritor: Survival is nice, but the INT-based knowledge skill not so much. The Inheritance feature can make for a neat story Ö or a powerful magic item down the line.
    Knight of the Order: Similar to Faction Agent, except your universal skill is Persuasion, a staple for your class. Knowledge skill, again, isnít the best, though Knightly Regard is strong as reflects the general power knightly orders have in the Realms.
    Mercenary Veteran: Two very good Paladin skills in Athletics and Persuasion, and Mercenary Life lets you maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Solid choice.
    Urban Bounty Hunter: You actually get to pick two from a list of four very good skills: Deception, Insight, Persuasion and Stealth. This background can thus fit a diverse set of Paladin builds very well. You can also get Thievesí Tools proficiency, which is great. And Ear to the Ground lets you have contact with a variety of urban types, both high and low class.
    Uthgardt Tribe Member: A bit out of character for a lot of Paladins, but thereís no denying the worthiness of the skills (Athletics, Survival), the enhanced survival benefits of Uthgardt Heritage and being allied with druids circles, Harpers, and the like.
    Waterdhavian Noble: One good skill (Persuasion), one not so good (History). Besides that, youíre pretty much guaranteed to live comfortably. Eh.

    Class Features

    Lv. 1

    Divine Sense: No longer the always-on evil radar that it was in editions past, you now have to be judicious about when to use this with its limited uses per day. The range is very limited on it, too (just 60 feet). It's probably most likely to be used in situations when you might suspect something is a fiend in disguise.

    Lay on Hands: The classical Paladin healing ability, and this time around its versatility is greatly increased. Its raw healing numbers, which scale well with level, are solid for a power supplemental to your (or the Cleric's or Bard's) healing spells, but better still is the ability to neutralize poison and cure diseases with your touch (costing 5 HPs from the pool).

    Lv. 2

    Fighting Style: Choose one among the following.

    • Defense: Nothing wrong with it, per se, but an offensive style should be a higher priority. That said, this does make a fine second style if you get one from, say, a Fighter multiclass. Itís also pretty much your default choice if you want to dual-wield, since you donít get in-class access to Two-Weapon Fighting Style.
    • Dueling: Donít scoff at a flat +2 damage per hit. At early levels that amounts to well more than a 20% increase in damage done. That proportion decreases somewhat at higher levels, but itís always going to be a noticeable boost to your offense with a one-handed weapon. Note that you CAN use a shield with this style (just not a second weapon).
    • Great Weapon Fighting: If your DM is going by the Sage Advice that says your damage rerolls of 1s and 2s are limited to just the weapon damage, then this style is merely average, though probably still your go-to if using a two-hander (since some damage boost is better than none). If your DM sticks to the book RAW here, and thus makes it apply to things like Divine Smite, Improved Divine Smite, and some of the Paladinís damage buff spells, then the value of this jumps exponentially.
    • Protection: Again, I prefer offense, but this shield-exclusive style is good at what it does. With this, youíll want to finish your movement for the round next to someone under duress when you need to protect them. Does lose its value if you plan to get other defender-style reactions like from the Sentinel feat or Oath of the Crown.

    Spellcasting: Despite being only a half-caster, the Paladinís spellcasting ability ó which comes online earlier than ever before ó is quite potent and is where much of the classí power lies. And as far as spellcasting mechanics go, Paladins have it pretty damn good. They get immediate access to their classí entire spell list as they hit the levels for new spells, and they prepare their spells (rather than learn a limited repertoire), giving them amazing day-to-day versatility. They use a holy symbol as their standard material component/focus, which is about the best type there is since it can either be worn as an amulet or embossed on their shield. Their spell list is pretty solid, too, full of some of the most staple combat buffs, quality healing spells and bonus-action smite spells that make them do a burst of extra damage and often a harsh status effect on a following weapon hit.

    Divine Smite: The cornerstone of your burst damage ability. This one can especially become devastating on a critical hit, in which case the damage dice from this are doubled. (Incredible especially if you're attacking something under, say, a Hold Person/Monster spell!) Another key thing to remember about this is that it uses no action whatsoever, which means you can use it multiple times per round if you have additional attacks, can use it on the same turn you cast a bonus action spell (including stacking this on top of a smite spell!), and can use it on reaction attacks (making your Opportunity Attacks or attacks from the Sentinel feat especially threatening!). NOTE: The 5d8 cap means the maximum damage from this uses a 4th-level spell slot, so you get no benefit from blowing a 5th-level slot. This may need to be errata-ed to a 6d8 cap.

    Lv. 3

    Oaths will be described under their own section.

    Divine Health: Immunity to diseases, straight up. Fantastic ability to get at Lv. 3, especially.

    Lv. 4 (8, 12, 16, 19)

    Ability Score Improvements: You get the standard 5 that everyone else who isn't the Fighter or Rogue gets. Because you want both a high physical attack stat (STR or DEX) and a high CHA, you're only going to have room for one or two feats if your game includes them.

    Lv. 5

    Extra Attack: Obviously great; at this level it literally doubles the power of your Attack action. Like every other major weapon-using class that isn't the Fighter, this caps at two attacks.

    Lv. 6

    Aura of Protection: Arguably the signature of the Paladin class, where you add your CHA modifier to all of your saving throws. And if allies are within 10 feet, they get that benefit, too. For you, this typically means a strong WIS save between proficiency there and letting CHA do the rest. Also, with a CON around a +2 or +3 modifier, add this on top of it and your CON saves will be at least passable for a few levels despite lack of proficiency; very important if you want to maintain Concentration spells. If you do somehow get CON save proficiency (such as from taking the Resilient feat), this feature can help push most of your Concentration checks into auto-save territory, which is a godsend.

    Lv. 10

    Aura of Courage: Flat immunity to the frightened condition, also with the 10 feet range to extend to allies. A very good thing considering how many boss-type creatures look to have a fear power of some sort; as a melee combatant you'll need to get close, and avoiding disadvantage on attack rolls is also important.

    Lv. 11

    Improved Divine Smite: Your second-half source of extra damage; where Fighters get a third attack on their Attack action, you get a flat 1d8 extra radiant damage to add to all melee attacks you make (but not ranged). While this doesn't quite match the potential of a third attack, and the damage bonuses from certain feats and magical weapons that accrue with more attacks, it is significant. And it does give you one key advantage: It makes any bonus action, reaction, or other such extra attacks you might get to make more threatening than the Fighter's (e.g. Polearm Master, dual-wielding, opportunity attacks, Sentinel, Haste, Commanderís Strike, etc.). This feature also makes you particularly effective against powerful undead creatures, many of whom have strong features that get disrupted by radiant damage.

    Lv. 14

    Cleansing Touch: Negate a hostile spell on yourself or an ally with your action, with CHA-mod uses per day. Pretty neat ability, if not quite a flat-out gamechanger.

    Lv. 18

    Aura Improvements: All those lovely Auras you get (Protection, Courage, anything from your Oath) expand from 10 feet to 30 feet. Whereas before it was pretty situational that your allies got your Auras' benefits, now it's practically a sure thing.

    Most common weapon setups

    Your primary choice to make when selecting equipment is going to be your weapon setup (sword-and-board, great weapon, etc.). It affects what Fighting Style youíre going to take, what feats youíll select, your battle strategy, and so forth.

    • One-handed + shield (a.k.a. Sword-and-Board): This is the supremely reliable, canít-go-wrong setup for any Paladin. It works wonders for STR- and DEX-based Paladins alike. The +2 AC from a shield is always welcome, and most Paladins wonít even give up all that much offense vs. using a great weapon, since the classí greatest damage boosts (e.g. Divine Smite, Improved Divine Smite, smite spells, Divine Favor, Crusaderís Mantle, Oathbreakerís Aura of Hate, etc.) add the same amount of damage regardless of the weapon youíre using. Itís versatile, too, being compatible with two Fighting Styles (Dueling, Protection). Also, if youíre a STR-Paladin who sees the need to grapple an enemy in a given fight, you can simply drop your shield and go for it.
    • Great weapon: Remember that most of the Paladinís damage boosts are independent of the weapon youíre using, which means this setup takes A LOT of work if youíre going to make it worth picking over sword-and-board and forgoing the +2 AC. If your DM ignores Sage Advice for Great Weapon Fighting Style and applies it to Divine Smite, Improved Divine Smite, etc., then this does become more worthwhile. The chief damage boost from the great weapon, however, comes with the Great Weapon Master feat with its -5 hit/+10 damage trade, but to make that work for you, you DEFINITELY need some source of attack roll boosts, and preferably ways to get additional attacks, too. At the VERY least, youíd want to cast Bless before using the hit/damage trade. Devotion with CHA 18 or higher goes one better with Sacred Weapon. Vengeance with Vow of Enmity is better still, and at higher levels even better again with additional attacks from Haste and Soul of Vengeance. Party makeup is also a factor; again, this is more effective if your party is good at creating advantage for you.
    • Dual-wielding: Even despite the lack of in-class access to Two-Weapon Fighting Style, dual-wielding is surprisingly good for Paladins; in fact, the Paladin is arguably the only class other than the Rogue for whom dual-wielding is worth it higher than Lv. 10. True, your base-line DPR wonít be all that much better (in some cases not at all), than one-handed + shield with Dueling Style, but thatís not whatís important. Whatís important is that an off-hand attack gives you another chance every round to hit (and more importantly crit) and apply Divine Smite. Your off-hand attack also benefits from Improved Divine Smite from Lv. 11 on, which mostly makes up for not having the TWF style in-class. Damage-buff spells like Divine Favor and Crusaderís Mantle also apply to your off-hand. Of the Oaths, Vengeance makes the best use of dual-wielding, since getting advantage so easily also effectively doubles your chance to crit on that additional attack. Oathbreakers can also do especially well dual-wielding, since they add Aura of Hate damage to their off-hand, too.
    • Polearm: This rating assumes youíre taking the Polearm Master feat; otherwise, donít even bother. With Polearm Master alone, you effectively get a better version of dual-wielding (with reach, too!), with a larger damage die on your main-hand attack and an off-hand attack that lets you add your STR mod even without Two-Weapon Fighting Style, while still giving you that extra chance to hit or crit and add Divine Smite, and add all those other damage buffs. That alone is awesome, even not accounting for any wonderful synergy with Sentinel and Great Weapon Master to be described later.
    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 at 03:23 AM.

  3. #3
    III. Oaths

    Oaths are such a defining part of a Paladin that they get their own section. The choice of Oath you make at Lv. 3 will greatly affect the way your character not only plays, but their outlook and world view.

    Oath of Devotion: This is the "Classical Lawful Good Paladin" Oath, with an overall balance between offense and defense mechanically. And something to be especially thankful for is the way the tenets are written; they essentially nip the "Lawful Stupid" trope right in the bud. For example, Courage includes the admonition "caution is wise," so, no, don't go charging ahead at that Ancient Red Dragon to your doom. Compassion, likewise, "Show mercy to your foes, but temper it with wisdom," because some enemies just might be too dangerous to leave alive (but give them a swift and clean death; do not torture). And Duty's, "obey those who have just authority over you," so, no, you have no obligation to obey a despot or usurper if they want you to do something evil.

    • Sacred Weapon: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). An action to add your CHA-modifier to attack rolls for a minute (10 rounds). Does not require Concentration to maintain (thus stacks with any other buffs) and does not count as a spell (which means you can cast a swift spell in the same round). Since itís an action to activate, youíll want to use this power a round or two before you anticipate the start of combat for best results. A very good ability for that climactic fight during that part of the day.
    • Turn the Unholy: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). The classical Paladin's Turn Undead ability, with the additional twist of turning fiends as well. Can't destroy them the way a Cleric does Undead, but making them run away is still pretty good. This one is definitely best used against a horde of such enemy types; obviously situational, but considering your class' overall weakness against hordes in general you take what you can get there.
    • Oath Spells (overall rating): Lv. 3. This Oath has four spells already on the Paladin list, by far the most in that category, making it gain the lowest rating among the three original Oaths by default. It does have a couple of really nice additions, however, namely Sanctuary and Freedom of Movement.
    • Aura of Devotion: Lv. 7. Straight-up immunity to charms, and the ability to spread it to allies within aura range. Don't have to explain why this is fantastic, do I?
    • Purity of Spirit: Lv. 15. Basically, this means aberrations, fiends, undead, fey, elementals and celestials will always attack you at disadvantage (and less importantly, they can't possess you). The benefits of this will definitely be felt against hordes of weaker enemies of these types. On the other hand, high-CR bosses of these creature types will often have high enough attack bonuses to make disadvantage not such a big deal to them ó unless youíre wearing +X armor/shield of some sort.
    • Holy Nimbus: Lv. 20 (1/day). Youíre only going to bust this capstone out in a fight involving multiple enemies, or better still a horde, in which case you can rack up the damage figures round-to-round with the auto damage out to 30 feet. Does not count as a spell, so feel free to cast a swift spell on the same turn.

    Oath of the Ancients: This nature-themed Oath is most closely mapped to the Neutral Good alignment and even works in character with a Chaotic Good alignment. In quite a few ways, it evokes the spirit of the AD&D Ranger (which, if you recall, also required any Good alignment, but at least allowed Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic Good). Mechanically, this Oath is defensively inclined, particularly against damaging magic. It's also fairly good, as far as Paladins go, at dealing with hordes, though no longer the best at that.

    • Nature's Wrath: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). An action to restrain an enemy within 10 feet. Requires a save to work, and does allow the enemy to try to save after every turn. Restraining is pretty nice, however, since it makes the enemy yield advantage to you and all your allies.
    • Turn the Faithless: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). Like Devotion's Turn the Unholy, except replace the undead with fey (still turns fiends, too). Again, best used against hordes of those creature types, and at least gives you a situational anti-horde tool.
    • Oath Spells (overall rating): Lv. 3. None of the spells on your list are stock Paladin spells, and there are definitely some quality additions from this Oath, such as Ensnaring Strike, Misty Step, Moonbeam, Protection from Energy, Ice Storm, Stoneskin and Tree Stride. Moonbeam and Ice Storm, in particular, are viable anti-horde tools.
    • Aura of Warding: Lv. 7. Cuts all magic damage against you and allies in your aura in half! Too good.
    • Undying Sentinel: Lv. 15. Once-per-day ability to stay upright at 1 hit point when you would be KO-ed, plus anti-aging stuff. Fair enough.
    • Elder Champion: Lv. 20 (1/day). This capstone essentially works out as a way to get regeneration for the battle and start it off with a control spell thatís harder to resist thanks to the disadvantage on the saving throws. Takes the action to cast, and then use the bonus action you gain that first round to cast your spell.

    Oath of Vengeance: Mapped mostly to the Neutral and Lawful Neutral alignments, you take this Oath for two reasons ó (1) you don't mind getting dirty doing your divine work, and (2) you want to be the most effective at killing and killing quickly. This Oath is easily the most offensive of them; in fact, against one big enemy per short rest, you're among the best round-to-round damage dealers in the game. And while you don't get any real defensive options from this Oath, the core of the Paladin class has enough of those that it doesn't really matter. If you can be said to have a weakness, it's that you're even less effective in horde battles than Paladins of the other two Oaths, since you don't get any special horde-clearing abilities.

    • Abjure Enemy: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). Has its uses, the big one being potentially keeping one melee-inclined enemy out of the fight while your party deals with its buddies, then saving that enemy for last. May also be useful when you need to capture someone alive and prevent them from escaping. However, if at all possible, youíll typically want to save your Channel Divinity use for the Vengeance Paladinís other option.
    • Vow of Enmity: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). When it's big and bad and positively needs to die, accept no substitute. This power, activated as a bonus action, gives you advantage, straight up and no strings attached, against the enemy you target. Obviously, you will ONLY use this against a boss enemy, but when you do, you have potential to be among the most damaging combatants round-to-round in the entire game.
    • Oath Spells (overall rating): Lv. 3. Yup, your list is loaded. Hold Person, Misty Step, Haste, Dimension Door, Hold Monster ... all spells the default Paladin list doesn't get, and all to make you the coldest killer on the block.
    • Relentless Avenger: Lv. 7. Free movement without OAs after an opportunity attack helps you stay near your preferred target ready to strike. Not as good as the other Oathsí Lv. 7 features, but can be helpful sometimes.
    • Soul of Vengeance: Lv. 15. An upgrade to your Vow of Enmity that makes it even more devastating, letting you make a reaction melee attack against your Vow target if they make an attack, against anyone. Even if that boss enemy has reach (likely at this level), if you ended your movement next to it and the enemy has to start its turn with you bearing down, it faces the choice between trying to get away from you (eating an Opportunity Attack if it can't teleport), attacking (eating the attack from this feature), or Disengaging (most likely not making an attack that turn). Also note the timing if it tries to attack you ó since it's triggered on making an attack, and not when it hits or misses, you still get a whack in even if that attack happened to come with forced movement or inflict a condition that would've denied your ability to make reactions.
    • Avenging Angel: Lv. 20 (1/day). You get flight that doesnít require concentration and canít be dispelled. And it lasts for a full hour, unlike the other Oaths' capstones, which puts it a cut above those. The frightening aura is a nice bonus, too.

    Oath of the Crown (SCAG): This Oath cares about the rule of law and civilization above all else. Itís a natural fit for the Lawful Neutral alignment, and itís not particularly biased toward Good; in fact, a Paladin of this Oath could just as easily be Lawful Evil as Lawful Good. Mechanically, this Oath is probably the closest to an actual 4e-style Defender type as 5e has seen, yet, with a strong focus on shielding allies, compelling enemies to assault the Paladin instead of their allies, and controlling the battlefield. Also, a Lv. 9 or higher Paladin of this Oath is easily the best at dealing with horde battles thanks to getting Spirit Guardians as a 3rd-level Oath Spell.

    • Champion Challenge: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest): Amazingly, this does not use an action type of any kind. Whether thatís intentional or not remains to be seen, but itís certainly a plus. The effect is strong, too, with its ability to hinder a horde of enemies from escaping more than 30 feet away from you. It lets your back-row allies stay out of the radius in relative safety, or possibly even sets up the horde for an AoE of some sort.
    • Turn the Tide: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest): A bonus action mass heal that slightly edges out a 3rd-level Mass Healing Word numbers-wise, but is also more situational. Fair to have on hand for emergencies, if nothing else.
    • Oath Spells (overall rating): Lv. 3. Two words: Spirit Guardians. That spell alone makes this a worthy list, even despite most of the rest of it being spells already on the Paladin list. Warding Bond as a 2nd-level spell is also a pretty worthy addition (and comes with an interesting exploit, more on that in the Spells section). And it should be noted that even the redundant Paladin spells on this Oath list are still at least good or even great spells (e.g. Command, Aura of Vitality, Banishment).
    • Divine Allegiance: Lv. 7. Take all the damage in place of any friendly creature within 5 feet of you. Can be done at-will as long as you have your reaction that round, making this far more useful than such martyr-type abilities in previous D&D editions. A good defender ability, without a doubt.
    • Unyielding Spirit: Lv. 15. Advantage on your saves against two of the most devastating conditions in the game, paralyzed and stunned. At this level itís probably not much more than a safeguard considering your Aura of Protection and proficiency bonuses, but it certainly doesnít hurt to have it, either.
    • Exalted Champion: Lv. 20 (1/day). Easily one of the better Paladin capstones, thanks first of all to it lasting a full hour. It comes with a host of strong effects, of which resistance to all nonmagical weapon damage is probably still the best overall (surprisingly good even at Lv. 20). Advantage on ally death saves and advantage on your and alliesí WIS saves are nice, too.

    Oathbreaker (DMG): Not an actual ďOath,Ē but rather the path a DM may let you take if you break your Oath unrepentantly and turn entirely over to the ďdark side.Ē Becoming a full-blown evil Oathbreaker (or what was classically referred to as an Antipaladin or Blackguard) definitely has its perks gameplay-wise, mostly geared toward offense. It even has a pretty strong anti-horde debuff as a Channel Divinity power.

    • Control Undead: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). This one can get really, really powerful as you level. Pretty much any undead creature without Legendary Resistance thatís at least 1 CR lower than your level is fair game to be controlled for an entire day. Imagine yourself at Lv. 18 in full command of a Death Knight. Good times.
    • Dreadful Aspect: Lv. 3, Channel Divinity (1 total/short rest). Mass frightening on everyone you choose within 30 feet of you for a full minute. Doesnít get much better than that.
    • Oathbreaker Spells (overall rating): Lv. 3. Unlike the Oath lists of the more righteous, the Oathbreaker spell list is very much a mixed bag. There are some real duds on this list (Hellish Rebuke, Inflict Wounds, Crown of Madness), but on the flip side, there are also some pretty good additions (Animate Dead, Confusion).
    • Aura of Hate: Lv. 7. The chief offense-boosting feature of the Oathbreaker with CHA-mod damage bonus to all of your melee attacks, plus the melee attacks of any undead and fiends. This aura has some wonderful synergy involving any undead creature on which you used Control Undead, as well as some undead foot soldiers you gained with your Animate Dead Oathbreaker spell (or better still, if you have a necromancer ally providing you with an Animate Dead army). Note, however, that this aura boosts enemy undead and fiends as well, so in fights against those creature types this ability becomes a double-edged sword. Hey, being evil had to come at a price, somehow.
    • Supernatural Resistance: Lv. 15. Resistance to all the usual weapon damage types from nonmagical weapons. Youíd be surprised at just how many monsters that protects you from, even some legendary monsters with really high CRs. That includes all dragons and even the Tarrasque.
    • Dread Lord: Lv. 20 (1/day). One of the better Paladin capstones with a host of nice benefits, best cast in the next round after you used your Dreadful Aspect, in which case you can rack up some pretty serious auto-damage figures. The other really nice part includes forcing disadvantage on enemiesí attacks against you and any allies, and the bonus action melee spell attack is a neat side benefit if you werenít already attacking consistently with a bonus action.
    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 07:45 PM.

  4. #4
    IV. Races

    Common Races

    Dwarf: +2 to CON is a big deal, along with advantage on saves vs. and resistance to poison, and Darkvision. Bonus proficiencies in an artisan's tools are a neat little bonus.

    • Mountain: +2 to STR makes this the obvious subrace of choice for a STR-Paladin.
    • Hill: Not bad for DEX-Paladins, with the extra hit point per level being quite nice, and the +1 WIS isnít entirely a waste with the right configuration. STR-Paladins should definitely go Mountain, though.
    • Duergar (SCAG): +1 STR, Superior Darkvision, advantage on saves against illusions, charm and paralysis, and free Enlarge and Invisibility. Not a bad package, although Sunlight Sensitivity is regrettably quite the pain.

    Elf: All Elves get a +2 to DEX, so make that your attack stat. Immunity to magical sleep and advantage vs. charms are very good, as are Darkvision, Trance and automatic proficiency in the all-important skill Perception.

    • Wood: +1 WIS is fair, but the real perks are bonus to speed and Stealth in lightly obscured conditions.
    • Drow: Not much of a point to being a Drow Paladin, nowadays. Sure, you get the +1 to CHA, but you couldíve instead gone Half-Elf of Drow Lineage and gotten better overall stats along with that tasty CHA-based Drow Magic, not to mention not having to deal with the full Drowís annoying Sunlight Sensitivity.
    • High: The arrival of melee weapon attack cantrips (and in particular, the stat-independent Booming Blade) make this marginally viable now. The INT bonus is still useless, though. If the cantrip is the big draw for you, consider being a Half-Elf of Moon/Sun (High) Elf Lineage, instead.
    • Eladrin (DMG example): Still with the worthless +1 INT, but at least Misty Step 1/short rest is worth something.

    Halfling: +2 to DEX, so you know which route to go with your attack stat. Lucky is straight-up awesome, protecting you from that dreaded natural 1, and moving through occupied spaces opens up a lot of options on the battlefield.

    • Lightfoot: Superior stats-wise with its +1 CHA, and if youíre somehow a stealthy type, hiding behind a Medium or larger ally is definitely useful.
    • Stout: The +1 CON of this subrace is still pretty good, and plucking the Dwarf's anti-poison defenses is useful to a wider range of builds.
    • Ghostwise (SCAG): +1 WIS is OK, but not quite as good as the other variantsí bonuses, and telepathy is a pretty gimmicky trait compared to the othersí more overall useful benefits.

    Human: Meant to be the most versatile race. One particular variant delivers on that promise.

    • Default/Stock: +1 to all attributes is all they get. This effectively allows you to point buy an array such as 15, 15, 14, 9, 9, 8. The +1s will bump your fourth and fifth stats out of penalty territory, and since Paladins only have one real dump stat (INT), only one of those bonus points is truly wasted. Plus you wound up with a cool net gain on your tertiary. So, for that reason, the default Human isnít the total waste like it is for some other classes; that said, itís hardly inspiring.
    • Variant: For as MAD as the Paladin is, and as ASI/feat-starved as you are as a direct result, the bonus feat of the Variant Human is even bigger for you than it is for many other classes. +1s also to two other stats (should be STR/DEX and CHA), and a free skill of your choice (ahem, Perception) round out what really is very likely the best race for Paladins.

    Uncommon Races

    Aaracocra (EEPC): At-will flight is always going to count for a lot, even with its light armor restriction. It can be campaign-breaking, potentially. Stats-wise, its +2 DEX is great for DEX-Paladins and the +1 WIS can at least round out an array. The introductory paragraph pretty much leaves it up to the DM whether or not to even allow you to play this race, and for good reason. That said, the Winged Tiefling option has stolen a lot of its thunder.

    Dragonborn: +2 to STR and +1 to CHA matches up great stat-wise. Resistance to one energy type is solid, and since you're likely to have a decent CON score if you're a Paladin, you'll be able to use the Breath Weapon decently under bounded accuracy. Breath helps make up for the Paladin's general weakness against hordes.

    Genasi (EEPC): All Genasi get a +2 to CON, a solid stat bonus for all characters. All subraces get a 1/day free spell with no material components.

    • Air: +1 DEX, hold your breath forever as long as youíre not incapacitated, and Levitate as the racial spell. Pretty nice.
    • Earth: +1 STR, ignore some difficult terrain, and the very useful Pass Without Trace as the racial spell. Good.
    • Fire: +1 INT is a waste. making this the worst subrace for Paladins. Darkvision and fire resistance arenít bad, though.
    • Water: +1 WIS has its uses, and breathing air and water and having a real swim speed can come in handy in campaigns with a lot of water.

    Gnome: Generally not a good race for the Paladin, thanks to +2 to INT being such a waste. Advantage on all mental stat saving throws vs. magic is about the only real positive. Stick to Halfling if you want to be small.

    • Forest: +1 DEX, a cantrip thatíll be useless without a good INT score, and a cute talk to small animals ability. Canít say this appeals to Paladins.
    • Rock: Nope. +1 CON is OK, but Paladins have no use for tech knowledge.
    • Deep (SCAG): +1 DEX and Superior Darkvision. Probably the best Gnome Paladin race by default (damning with faint praise much?), but still not enough for success.

    Half-Elf: A legit contender vis-a-vis the Variant Human as the best Paladin race. +2 CHA and +1 to two other stats (make those your attack stat and CON). Also Darkvision, and the immunity to magical sleep and advantage vs. charms that Elves get, plus another potentially strong benefit (choose from below):

    • Skill Versatility (PHB default): The default Half-Elf gets two skills of their choice, and Iíd strongly suggest Perception for one of them. Overall, this is the canít-go-wrong option and still the best pick for most builds.
    • Keen Senses (SCAG): Obviously, whoever wrote the sidebar in the SCAG completely forgot that Skill Versatility gives you proficiency in two skills when they listed this as an option. You LITERALLY lose an entire skill taking this, for absolutely nothing in return. So never, and I mean NEVER take this.
    • Wood Elf Descent (SCAG): Fleet of Foot for some extra speed isnít bad. Or if you prefer better stealth capacity, Mask of the Wild is also an option.
    • Moon/Sun (High) Elf Descent (SCAG): The Cantrip is a viable option thanks to the stat-independent Booming Blade, which is strictly better than a standard weapon attack from Lv. 1-4. Because you make a weapon attack as part of casting Booming Blade, you can still attach a Divine Smite to it, or even cast a smite spell first since your action is a cantrip, and at Lv. 11+, Improved Divine Smite still applies. Even at higher levels, it can be a viable alternative to the standard two-attack routine against any enemy that relies heavily on movement.
    • Drow Descent (SCAG): Drow Magic (which includes the lovely Faerie Fire) without the full Drowís annoying Sunlight Sensitivity. Plus with the Half-Elfís better stats. Good deal.
    • Aquatic Descent (SCAG): 30-foot swim speed. Obviously better in a campaign that involves sea travel, but too situational otherwise compared to Skill Versatility or other lineages.

    Half-Orc: +2 to STR and +1 to CON are solid, along with a bunch of neat abilities like staying upright on a would-be KO once a day and adding an extra weapon die to a crit. Darkvision and free proficiency in Intimidation round out a worthy pick.

    Tiefling: +2 to CHA is great, as is Darkvision and fire resistance. The only real knock nowadays is the useless +1 INT bonus, but the newer variants are very strong and tend to make up for that quite suitably.

    • Feral (SCAG): Replaces the CHA bonus with +2 DEX, which will suit a DEX-Paladin well, obviously. Still has the useless INT bonus, though.
    • Infernal Legacy (PHB default): Absolutely worthless in the face of the Tieflingís newer, MUCH better options. The only on-paper worthwhile gain from this is Hellish Rebuke, but unfortunately in practice, that has the hilariously clumsy logistics of casting it as a reaction fully armed and shielded, having a somatic component.
    • Devilís Tongue (SCAG): Replaces Infernal Legacy with an INFINITELY better suite of spells, namely Vicious Mockery, Charm Person and Enthrall. Vicious Mockery gives you a CHA-based at-will ranged attack. (Note that Devilís Tongue, Hellfire and Winged are all mutually exclusive.)
    • Hellfire (SCAG): Replaces Hellish Rebuke with Burning Hands, which is a good deal, since youíre replacing a reaction spell with rather difficult logistics for a Paladin to cast, with just a straight-up AoE spell that helps cover for the classí general weakness in that area. Although, overall, Iíd still say Devilís Tongue is the superior choice.
    • Winged (SCAG): Wings and a 30-foot flying speed instead of Infernal Legacyís spells. Eat your heart out, Aaracocra. Unlike the Aaracocra, this flight works with heavy armor (although the speed is less than the Aaracocra in general). As usual with a potentially campaign-breaking at-will flight option, consult your DM.

    Voloís Guide Races

    Aasimar: Hey, I hear you want more Paladin with your Paladin. And indeed this reimagined version of the race does possess several Paladin-like features all on its own. All Aasimar have the important +2 CHA, Darkvision, resistance to necrotic and radiant damage, free Light cantrip and a long-rest recharge, scaled-back version of Lay on Hands that means you can conserve some of your actual Lay on Hands. Not surprisingly, easily a top-tier Paladin race.

    • Protector: +1 WIS rounds out an array, and the long-rest recharge power gives you flight and a little extra radiant damage on one attack every one of your turns. Pretty good.
    • Scourge: This subrace is for those who want more damage in the climactic fights, with its long-rest recharge power not only causing some radiant auto-damage within 10 feet to enemies (and also yourself and allies, so beware) but adding more extra radiant damage on one attack on each of your turns. Also comes with +1 CON, always a good bonus to have.
    • Fallen: Explicitly for evil Aasimar only, so youíd likely be an Oathbreaker, or maybe a Crown or Vengeance Paladin with an evil bent. +1 STR plus a long-rest recharge power that lets you frighten those within 10 feet of you (NOT ally-friendly) and add some extra necrotic damage once on each of your turns.

    Firbolg: +2 WIS and +1 STR; WIS is still not something you want to dump so the bonus there frees up some array points, at least. Other than that, short-rest recharge Disguise Self and Detect Magic (WIS-based), short-rest recharge round of invisibility and talking to animals and plants. An interesting race, though not remarkable.

    Goliath: +2 STR and +1 CON, automatic Athletics proficiency, short-rest recharge reduction of damage you take and extra carrying/lifting capability. Solid Paladin race all around.

    Kenku: +2 DEX and +1 WIS, with racial abilities more suited to Rogues than anything else. Eh.

    Lizardfolk: +2 CON, +1 WIS, a bite that means youíre always armed, swim speed, hold breath for a long time, natural armor thatís better than the standard light armor, 2 free skills from a list that includes the all-important Perception and Stealth, and a short-rest recharge bonus-action attack. Pretty decent, particularly for DEX-Paladins.

    Tabaxi: +2 DEX and +1 CHA good for DEX-Paladins, plus Darkvision, an ability to move double your usual speed (which you must make up for later by not moving at all to recharge), climb speed, natural weapons, and free Perception and Stealth proficiency. Good one.

    Triton: +1 to the three most important Paladin stats (STR, CHA, CON), swim speed, breathe water and air, some free CHA-based racial spells that are pretty good (Fog Cloud, Gust of Wind, Wall of Water), talk to water creatures, and cold resistance. Good all around.

    Monster Races (VGM)

    Subject to DM approval, so consult with your DM first before playing one of these.

    Bugbear: The highlight is the extra 5 feet of reach when you make a melee attack (but only on your turn). +2 STR and +1 DEX means it fits both STR- and DEX-Paladins. Also gets Darkvision, free Stealth proficiency and 2d6 extra damage when attacking from surprise. Good one, for sure.

    Goblin: Small size, but 30 feet speed. +2 DEX and +1 CON, Darkvision, short-rest recharge extra damage against something bigger than you, and Disengage or Hide as a bonus action (effectively 2/3rd of the Rogueís Cunning Action) make this quite nice for sword-and-board DEX-Paladins. Weave through enemy traffic with no fear of OAs, and even use Stealth if you need to.

    Hobgoblin: +2 CON, +1 INT (the latterís a waste), Darkvision, and short-rest recharge power that lets you add up to +5 (or less depending on number of allies you have) to a failed attack, save or ability check. Decent.

    Kobold: -2 STR, but you get +2 DEX, so thatís the route to go. The signature ability is Pack Tactics, giving you some sweet advantage practically every round as long as an ally is next to your target. Thatís pretty nice, though Sunlight Sensitivity is always a drawback to consider; if itís not much of a factor in your campaign then this race definitely gets better.

    Orc: +2 STR and +1 CON at the expense of -2 INT, which doesnít hurt you too much since you donít care about INT. Bonus-action movement of your full speed helps close to melee range quickly, always a plus for Paladins. Also get Darkvision and free Intimidation proficiency. Pretty solid, actually.

    Yuan-ti Pureblood: +2 CHA is great (+1 INT not so much). Oh, what, you get the awesome Suggestion as a racial spell, and itís CHA-based? Lovely. So too are Magic Resistance (advantage on saves vs. spells and other magical effects) and poison immunity, and Darkvision. Very good.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 25th February, 2017 at 06:58 PM.

  5. #5
    V. Feats

    Again, with the Paladin demanding intensive attention both on a physical stat (STR or DEX) and on CHA, the opportunities to take feats are very limited. A typical Paladin with at least +2 worth of bonuses in relevant stats and a 15, 15, 13, 10, 10, 8 point buy can take only one feat (two if a Variant Human) if they want 20s in both their attack stat and CHA. Some Paladins can justify taking more feats at the expense of leaving their CHA at 18 or even 16, but theyíd better make sure that trade-off is worth it (and again, Variant Human helps).

    Because feats are going to come at a premium for most Paladins, itís very important to pick wisely, and preferably with an eye toward the long term. Hence, youíll see a lot of feats rated lower than you might expect, otherwise, many of them red, even.

    Great Weapon Master: If you use a great weapon, this is mandatory; donít bother otherwise. If you donít take this feat, you might as well just go sword-and-board, because the -5 hit/+10 damage trade makes up pretty much the entire reason a Paladin would even want to consider a great weapon. To make that trade work out, you at the very least need to cast Bless or have it cast on you. Devotion can go one better with Sacred Weapon and a good Charisma, and Vengeance does another better still with Vow of Enmity, and later Haste and Soul of Vengeance for additional attacks. Having a party that can consistently set you up with advantage is also highly beneficial to making this work out for you. Also, while the bonus-action attacks on crits and death blows are not the headline of this feat, theyíre certainly valuable against bosses and hordes alike.

    Inspiring Leader: Someone in the party needs this, and itís very possible that someone will be you. The amount of temporary hit points for the whole party every short rest is just way too good. If someone else has it covered instead (likely a Bard, Sorcerer or Warlock), then you donít need to worry about it.

    Polearm Master: Mandatory if youíre going to use a polearm as a main weapon; no need to bother if youíre not. The butt-end attack adds your STR-modifier and makes for a better version of dual-wielding thatís compatible with Great Weapon Masterís hit/damage trade, and the opportunity attacks against enemies entering your reach makes this amazing when combined with Sentinel.

    Resilient (CON): Very tempted to consider this mandatory. For Vengeance, which gets Haste and Hunterís Mark, it very well may be. Aura of Protection + CON save proficiency + decent CON can get those vital Concentration checks into auto-save territory vs. DC 10, and even vs. higher DCs than that at higher levels and with more CHA bumps. And CON save proficiency in general is very good to have, as it protects against a lot of incapacitating and stunning sort of effects. And on top of this you even get a +1 to CON to bump up an odd score to the next modifier, or allow you to start with an odd score if planning your build ahead for this feat.

    Alert: +5 to initiative is generally useful, and thatís no exception for you. If a Wizard casts Hold Person/Monster, it sure is nice to be as high up in the initiative order as possible so you can get those auto-crit Smites.

    Defensive Duelist: Good for DEX-Paladins to very possibly turn a melee attack hit into a miss against them every round, especially at higher levels.

    Heavy Armor Master: Fantastic at early levels (ESPECIALLY if a Variant Human takes it at Lv. 1). The damage reductionís impact lessens somewhat as you get higher level, but itís never a waste even then. You also get +1 STR.

    Magic Initiate: 2 cantrips and a 1st-level spell 1/long rest from a full caster class. This can be good. Go Warlock for full CHA-compatibility and a strong ranged attack in Eldritch Blast (covering one of your classí main weaknesses) and then Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade, along with a casting of Hex.

    Sentinel: Reminiscent of the 4e Fighterís two main defender abilities, this one can make you very hard to escape. Youíre among the best at taking advantage of the enhanced Opportunity Attack chances and the punishment for an enemy attacking an ally, thanks to Divine Smite and later Improved Divine Smite. Even better if your DM uses the Marking rule (DMG p. 271), or you took Polearm Master.

    Shield Master: Solid all around, but with caveats on each benefit. Bonus-action shove is great, but only against enemies no bigger than Large. DEX save bonus is of no use against a dragonís breath or fireball. And only DEX-Paladins, who otherwise donít really care about this feat, will be able to use the damage negation part to any consistent effect.

    Lucky: Basically THE canít-go-wrong feat of the game. Good for whenever you have nothing else to take, but that probably wonít be you.

    Mage Slayer: Good if you fight a lot of spellcasters, but youíll likely have higher priorities.

    Mobile: Extra speed, Dash over difficult terrain and a limited Disengage-type benefit. Not awful, it helps make up for a Paladinís generally mundane movement capabilities.

    Mounted Combatant: You do have Find Steed to summon a mount for free. If youíre playing in a campaign conducive to mounted combat (e.g. war campaign, or any campaign taking place in mostly open areas), the advantage on attacks against anything Medium or smaller, taking all hits in place of your mount and effectively Evasion for the mount are all really good.

    Healer: Good benefits for healing kit use, but this feat should typically be left to a Thief.

    Ritual Caster: Not really needed for you, since you prepare spells and can switch out as needed. Leave the rituals to classes who already know how to cast them for free.

    Tavern Brawler: +1 STR or CON, bonus-action grapple and better unarmed attacks. Interesting, but Shield Master is better overall for you.

    War Caster: Resilient (CON) is much better for you, overall. Holy symbol on your shield makes the somatic components benefit much less meaningful. V,S,M spells can be cast fully armed and shielded, and as for V,S, just cast those before drawing your weapon. This feat does become meaningful if you multiclass into an arcane caster, though.

    Athlete: +1 STR or DEX and a few benefits you donít really need. Pass.

    Actor: +1 CHA, but youíre not a Bard and Deception and Performance are likely not your thing. Pass.

    Charger: You know, Iíll actually give it this much: Paladins are really about the only class that can actually do something with the attack from this, thanks to Divine Smite. And you know what? They STILL shouldnít take this. Thatís how bad this feat is, and how feat-starved Paladins are.

    Crossbow Expert: Donít bother. Paladin features are not geared toward ranged combat. Ranged is a last resort for you, and you should take feats for what youíre already good at, instead.

    Dual Wielder: Even dual-wielding Paladins have better things to take.

    Dungeon Delver: Leave the trapfinding to the Rogue.

    Durable: Just take +2 CON, or even Resilient (CON), instead.

    Elemental Adept: Youíre not a Wizard or Sorcerer (and itís not all that great for them, either).

    Grappler: Useless even for characters who actually grapple. Grapple + shove accomplishes everything this feat does but better. Pin is beyond worthless as written.

    Heavily Armored/Lightly Armored/Moderately Armored/Weapon Master: Youíre already proficient in all armor, shields, and weapons.

    Keen Mind: Boosts a dump stat with marginal benefits attached.

    Linguist: +1 INT, three languages and a secret writing code. Whatever.

    Martial Adept: A single d6 Superiority Die is weak. Multiclass 3 Fighter levels if you want maneuvers that badly.

    Medium Armor Master: A DEX-Paladin could get 1 more AC with this feat than from studded leather, but thatís hardly worth an entire feat.

    Observant: Donít bother.

    Savage Attacker: Damage reroll only applies to the weapon dice, so no Smite damage rerolls for this one. Weaksauce.

    Sharpshooter: Donít bother with ranged feats.

    Skilled: No, not worth a whole bloody feat.

    Skulker: The first benefit post-errata is of questionable worth even for DEX-Paladins who care about Stealth. And the rest of it is isnít much better.

    Spell Sniper: Take Magic Initiative instead, which gives a whole lot more, if you want Eldritch Blast.

    Tough: Just take +2 CON, instead. Or better yet, Resilient (CON) if it bumps up an odd CON score to the next modifier.
    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Wednesday, 21st September, 2016 at 08:52 PM.

  6. #6
    VI. Spells

    You are a class that prepares spells and has access to the whole list when you do prepare them, same as the Cleric, which gives you some degree of versatility and flexibility day to day. But with that said, it helps to know the best options so you can keep the mornings you prepare a new slate of spells to a minimum.

    The number of spells you can prepare equals half your paladin level + CHA, which most of the time roughly works out between two and three spells per spell level, assuming you're equal between spell levels (that part may vary).

    For your convenience, spells will have their components listed, along with their action type (action, reaction, bonus action) and if they require Concentration. An "M" with an asterisk (*) means that the material component has a cost and/or is consumed by the spell, which means you can't use your holy symbol to cast it.

    Lv. 1 Spells (Paladin Lv. 2)

    Bless: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Keep prepared at all times. The +1d4 (average +2.5 bonus) to all attack rolls and saving throws makes this THE top-priority party-wide buffing spell for perhaps your entire career. Especially important if youíre the only divine caster in the party, but even if there is a Cleric around, keeping this prepared frees up the Clericís Concentration options (and vice versa; a Cleric with Bless opens up your options). Also interesting to note that if you Bless yourself, this spell is easier than others to make Concentration checks for, thanks to the saves buff. For the most efficient use of your actions, cast in a round before you anticipate combat, or in a round when you couldnít make a melee attack, anyway.

    : 1 action; V. A WIS-save spell that can result in a lovely barrage of OAs if you and your melee allies surround it on casting and you command it to flee. Otherwise, you can make the enemy waste its turn, amounting to a soft stun of sorts. Has some targeting limitations (ineffective vs. undead, those who donít understand your language), but this will work in more than enough battles that you will want it prepared the vast majority of the time. If youíre Oath of the Crown, this is an Oath spell, so prepare something else.

    Wrathful Smite
    : 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. 1d6 extra psychic damage, and the far more vital detail of making the enemy frightened of you if it fails a WIS save. Frightened means disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks, which is very potent. But the best part comes when it tries to end the spell early; you make the enemy waste an action to do so, and they have to make a WIS CHECK (NOT a save) to end it. Why is that a huge distinction? Because (a) even if theyíre proficient in WIS saves, they canít add their proficiency bonus, and (b) being frightened, they have disadvantage on the check to end it! This smite spell really takes a huge bite out of any physical attacker that isnít immune to fear. The only knock against this spell is that the damage canít scale with upcasting, but compared to how strong the effect is, who cares?

    : 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Free temporary hit points every round and immunity to fear! Bless is still higher priority, but if a Cleric has that taken care of this oneís quite nice for the first nine levels of play, in particular (it tapers off Lv. 10 and beyond once you get Aura of Courage and 3rd-level spells). Other than you, only the Bard has this one on its list.

    Compelled Duel
    : 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. If you're familiar with the 4e Paladin, this is pretty much the analog to that Paladin's Divine Challenge, except without the radiant zap. This one requires a WIS save, but also makes the enemy attack everyone except you at disadvantage, typically a stronger penalty than the 4e mark was. It also keeps the enemy from escaping you unless it makes a WIS save. Decent one to keep on reserve against a boss. If youíre Crown, this is an Oath spell, so prepare something else.

    Cure Wounds
    : 1 action; V,S. Your classic D&D healing spell, scalable with higher spell slots. Itís not a bad idea to keep this prepared early, but itís quickly outclassed by the time you get 3rd-level spells.

    Divine Favor
    : 1 bonus action; V,S; Concentration. This damage buff of 1d4 extra radiant damage on all weapon hits varies wildly in its utility. Ranged weapons benefit, making it worthwhile if youíre forced into a ranged battle, and against hordes of CR 1/4 and 1/2 creatures, the extra damage from this can mean the difference between a living and a dead mook. However, against stronger enemies in melee, especially at earlier levels, using this can be a trap. Keep in mind that a 1st-level Divine Smite adds hit-confirmable 2d8 damage (average 9). Compared to the average of 2.5 extra damage this does on each hit, and assuming your hit chance is 65%: 9/(.65*2.5) = 5.54. On average, that means youíll need to attack 6 times before youíre expected to surpass the damage contribution of a 1st-level Smite. Thatís quite inefficient, especially when at early levels itís very possible youíll lose Concentration before you even get to 6 attacks in a fight. tl;dr version: This is a decent spell to keep prepared, but knowing when itís an optimal or efficient spell to cast is important.

    Protection from Evil and Good
    : 1 action; V,S,M*; Concentration. This spell is on most full spellcasters' class lists, so while it is indeed good when anticipating fights against the listed enemies, it's probably best to leave this one to the full casters, so you can save your preparations for more offensive output. Devotion Paladins don't need to prepare this one at all, since it's on their Oath list.

    Purify Food and Drink
    : 1 action; V,S. A good utility spell to prepare for social and exploration settings.

    Shield of Faith
    : 1 bonus action; V,S,M; Concentration. +2 to AC is pretty decent, and it greatly helps that this is cast as a bonus action. Note you can cast this on yourself instead of an ally if you need to. A fair defensive pick if you're not the one needing to concentrate on Bless.

    Thunderous Smite
    : 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. Quite good from Lv. 1-4. 2d6 extra thunder damage (nearly as strong as a Divine Smite for the same level) with push and prone as a nice little bonus. Stack a Divine Smite on top of this for a strong nova at early levels. Unfortunately, this spell does not do any more damage when upcast and quickly loses its luster from Lv. 5 onwards.

    Detect Magic
    : 1 action; V,S; Concentration. At least this one isn't redundant with Divine Sense, but still, there's better use of your preparations.

    Detect Poison and Disease
    : 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Meh. Might be used in uncharted wilderness or swamplands, or something, but again, your use of this is sporadic at best.

    Detect Evil and Good
    : 1 action; V,S; Concentration. No reason to ever prepare this one when you have Divine Sense.

    Searing Smite
    : 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. This smite spell should never see the light of day in your arsenal. The effect is nothing else other than damage, itís strictly worse at that than Thunderous Smite with a 1st-level slot, and even if you upcast it, the damage doesnít even come close to matching a same-level Divine Smite even if the enemy fails the first save for the ongoing damage.

    Devotion Oath Spells

    : 1 bonus action; V,S,M. A terrific protection spell to always have on tap; indeed one of the best. Especially since itís a bonus action with no concentration required. Break this out if you need to protect an ally in danger and buy them a round to heal up, or even to cast an important spell (thereís plenty that donít involve directly affecting an enemy). Also useful if you need to shield a non-combatant from harm.

    Protection from Evil and Good is already on the Paladin list. You always have it prepared, being an Oath spell, so you might be expected to pitch in on castings of this.

    Ancients Oath Spells

    Ensnaring Strike
    : 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. A solid "smite" spell when used against anything smaller than Large (and can be used at range as well!). Restraining means halted movement and, perhaps even more important, advantage on attacks against the target. Only allows a Strength save, so feel free to use this on a Roguish-type. They also take more damage round-to-round automatically while restrained and must blow their action to make a Strength check (NOT a save, so no proficiency bonus!) to escape.

    Speak with Animals: 1 action; V,S. Allows you to do what its name says. When you need it, it's there.

    Vengeance Oath Spells

    : 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Pretty much the flip-side of Bless, letting you penalize enemy attack rolls and saves by an average of 2.5. Affects up to three enemies with a first-level slot, more if you upcast. Unlike Bless, this requires the enemy failing a save to work, so youíd only really want to cast this if youíre allied with a Cleric who already cast Bless. But cast alongside an allyís Bless, this can flip the balance of a fight pretty strongly.

    Hunter's Mark: 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. Congratulations, you get to steal the Rangerís staple DPR-boosting spell. Its 1d6 extra damage on all weapon hits is an upgrade over Divine Favor at first glance. But before you brag too loudly about this, thereís a few things you need to consider:
    • You have to use a bonus action to designate a new target every time after your current one dies. Do you already use your bonus actions plenty for things that have a direct impact on your DPR? (Shield Master shove, off-hand attack, Polearm Master attack, Great Weapon Master killing blows, etc.). Then Divine Favor is better for you, particularly in horde battles.
    • Compared to a 1st-level Divine Smite, assuming 65% chance to hit: 9/(.65*3.5) = 3.96. So an average of attacking 4 times before you match a 1st-level Smite in damage contribution. Thatís better than Divine Favor, sure, but still pretty inefficient vs. stronger targets, especially at Lv. 1-4.
    • Perhaps the greatest selling point is the 1 hour duration (and much longer if upcast), versus the 10-round duration of Divine Favor. But unless you can get your CON saves for Concentration into auto-save territory vs. DC 10, at least, you canít count on maintaining it nearly that long, especially since youíre a melee-focused class. And that's not going to happen before Lv. 6. From Lv. 6 on with Resilient (CON), and with Aura of Protection in play, this spell has a much better chance of being the long-term DPR boost you expected.

    Crown Oath Spells

    and Compelled Duel are both already on the Paladin list.

    Oathbreaker Spells

    Hellish Rebuke
    : 1 reaction; V,S. A little bit of fire damage in retaliation to getting hurt out to 60 feet. Overall, typically not worth the spell slot, and depending on your DM there may be logistical concerns casting this fully armed and shielded.

    Inflict Wounds: 1 action; V,S. Hot garbage. A normal attack plus just a 1st-level Divine Smite is going to do more damage every time.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:01 PM.

  7. #7
    Lv. 2 Spells (Paladin Lv. 5)

    Find Steed: 10 minutes; V,S. If nothing else, keep this spell prepared just because (a) a steed will greatly cut down on your travel times, and (b) youíre almost guaranteed to ride into melee range at the start of combat (e.g. Warhorseís 60-foot speed + mountís Dash action + dismount + your remaining 15 feet of movement = 135 feet). And even if your steed does get whacked in combat, the penalty for that happening is nothing compared to what it was in editions past; it just disappears in a puff of mist, and just cast this spell again to bring it back fully healed. You really have nothing to lose from keeping this on hand and a lot to gain. If you DO plan on making your steed a main avenue of combat, then you'll want the Mounted Combatant feat, which lets you take all the hits for attacks targeted at your steed.

    Aid: 1 action; V,S,M. Up to three allies get 5 more maximum hit points for a full 8 hours (plus 5 more per each level you upcast). You can easily cast this at the start of every day. A solid no-concentration buff, for sure, although if a Cleric has this covered itíll take the burden off you to prepare and cast this.

    Magic Weapon: 1 bonus action; V,S; Concentration. Bless is still a higher priority buff in most cases. But if a Cleric has that covered this is easily worth preparation all the way up until every main weapon-user has an actual magic weapon. If you have a magic weapon but the Fighter doesnít, for example, cast this on the Fighterís weapon. Retire this once/if everyone does have a magic weapon.

    Branding Smite: 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. The most important thing to note about this Smite spell is that, unlike most other Smite spells, this one works with a ranged attack. Just for that fact alone, itís never a bad idea to prepare this. The extra damage (2d6 radiant) does scale when upcast, too. The usefulness of the invisibility prevention effect, on the other hand, is highly situational; if you are in melee itís usually better to just save your 2nd-level spell slot for a Divine Smite.

    Lesser Restoration: 1 action; V,S. Curing disease and poison is redundant with Lay on Hands, but curing blinded and deafened is not, so it's still worth considering. If you're Devotion, it's an Oath spell, so congrats, prepare something else.

    Zone of Truth: 1 action; V,S. Very useful to prepare when youíre getting ready to conduct an interrogation. If you're Devotion or Crown, congrats, you always have it on tap since it's an Oath spell.

    Protection from Poison: 1 action; V,S. With Lay on Hands in play, I can't really see preparing this one too often.

    Locate Object: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. If you absolutely need to find an object and time isnít of the essence, then here you go. Definitely not worth a full-time preparation, though.

    Devotion Oath Spells

    Lesser Restoration and Zone of Truth are both already on the Paladin list.

    Ancients Oath Spells

    Moonbeam: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. 5-foot radius = 10-foot diameter, so theoretically can affect up to four creatures, and will damage two adjacent enemies at once. Making this spell at least something to use against hordes. 2D10, with CON save for half, is respectable damage for this level, and it does scale with upcasting. Moving the beam can be worth using your action if clusters of enemies form.

    Misty Step: 1 bonus action; V. A bonus action teleport! Teleporting is great to have for many reasons, and you still get your move and attacks afterwards with this.

    Vengeance Oath Spells

    Hold Person: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Paralysis and the potential for auto-crits are amazing. More than likely you wonít be the one to take advantage of that, though. The enemy would get two chances to save against this before your next turn queues up. But if you have a Rogue, Barbarian, or second Paladin ally ready to strike, or a spellcaster ally Hastes you fairly often, then that wonít be nearly an issue. Works only on humanoids.

    Misty Step: 1 bonus action; V. Again, bonus action teleporting. Enough said.

    Crown Oath Spells

    Warding Bond: 1 action, V,S,M*. On its face, a solid defender spell to protect one ally, granting them resistance to all damage and a +1 bonus to AC and saves, in exchange for you taking the same damage your ally takes. And especially since it doesnít use Concentration. Which leads to a RAW exploit (if your DM lets it happen): You can cast this spell on yourself, and it effectively divides the damage you take into two instances of it. Thatís a big deal when youíre Concentrating on another spell, which means that even against a big single instance of damage, youíre making easier Concentration saves. Once you get that into auto-save territory against DC 10 via Aura of Protection + Resilient (CON) this gets really good. Of course, naturally, this is also good at protecting a Concentrating spellcaster ally.

    Zone of Truth is already on the Paladin list.

    Oathbreaker Spells

    Darkness: 1 action; V,M; Concentration. Usefulness depends on if you have darkvision somehow (race, spell, item); if you do this can actually be pretty useful. If you donít, you probably donít want to cast this.

    Crown of Madness: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. The effect sounds neat at first, until you realize that the enemy can only make the attack you coerce out of it before it moves, requiring some serendipitous positioning round to round. Add the fact you have to spend your actions to maintain this, PLUS your concentration, PLUS the fact the enemy can save against this after every one of its turns anyway, and this spell is a fail.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:31 PM.

  8. #8
    Lv. 3 Spells (Paladin Lv. 9)

    Aura of Vitality: 1 action; V; Concentration. Throws out a total of 20d6 healing (avg. 70) for its duration partitioned among whomever needs it the most. One of the best healing spells from 1st-5th level in the whole game, and not even the Cleric gets it. Consider this your staple heal to cast out of combat and keep prepared at all times. If youíre Crown, this one is an Oath spell, which means you have this all-important spell always on tap and can prepare something else.

    Revivify: 1 action; V,S,M*. Bring someone back to life if they just got killed within the last minute. Keep prepared at all times, even if there is a Cleric around but especially if thereís not.

    Blinding Smite: 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. 3d8 extra radiant damage on the next hit + blind on a failed CON save. The damage is solid (but not scalable on upcasting), and blinding means advantage for you and disadvantage for them. This one can be a gamechanger against strong enemies reliant on physical attacks ó just as long as they donít have blindsight, truesight or tremorsense.

    Crusader's Mantle: 1 action; V; Concentration. This is a solid party-wide damage buff, but with some caveats. First, Bless is still higher priority, so make sure your party has that covered first before you cast this. Second, since this takes an action to cast, you ALWAYS want to cast this BEFORE the start of a combat, NOT in the first round, otherwise youíll lose too much damage from simply not attacking when you couldíve (it lasts a full minute, or 10 rounds, which is a lot more than most combats take, so don't worry about wasting it). So assuming youíre casting this the right way, break down the math vs. a 3rd-level Smite (4d8 = avg. 18). Assuming the usual 65% chance to hit in melee, 18/(.65*2.5) = 11.08, so 12 attacks from the party to surpass the damage contribution from a 3rd-level Smite. A Fighter with Action Surge, over 3 rounds, will make 8 attacks at Lv. 9-10, and 12 attacks at Lv. 11+. Any other character with Extra Attack will make 6 attacks over the same 3 rounds. So that indicates that, for this spell to be worth a pre-battle cast, you want at least one Fighter in the party, and preferably also a third ally with Extra Attack besides you. If, in addition to that, you happen to have an ally with Conjure spells or a Necromancerís army, or if youíre commanding an actual army, then this gets much better still.

    Elemental Weapon: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Like Magic Weapon before it, this is one youíd like to keep prepared up until the point every main weapon user has a magic weapon (retire this then). Along with the bonus to hit, this one also adds d4s to the damage, making it a step above Magic Weapon. Itís also very versatile with the damage types; choose the right one if you know what youíre about to be facing. A very good buff spell, to be sure, but the competition is just really stiff at this spell level.

    Create Food and Water: 1 action; V,S. A good spell to prepare during very long expeditions.

    Daylight: 1 action; V,S. A source of bright light can be good sometimes. Thereís just too many other good spells at this level, though.

    Dispel Magic: 1 action; V,S. Itís definitely good for the times you come upon magic that needs dispelling, or especially in fights against spellcasters. How often those come up is the question, though. Have someone buff your Charisma ability checks (e.g. someone with a Guidance or Enhance Ability spell) and you stand a decent shot at dispelling even high-level magic. If you're Devotion, congrats, you have this always on tap, so prepare something else.

    Magic Circle: 1 minute; V,S,M*. Eh, if your party really needs to cast this spell, it's probably something best left to the Cleric or Wizard to do it. And even then the benefits aren't particularly great for the minute-long casting time and material cost.

    Remove Curse: 1 action; V,S. Might need preparation every once in a while, but day-to-day this should generally be on the backburner.

    Devotion Oath Spells

    Dispel Magic is already on the Paladin spell list. So you get to always be prepared for fights against spellcasters, which is very nice.

    Beacon of Hope: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Advantage on WIS saves and death throws plus maximized healing rolls all out to 30 feet. Pretty solid defensive buff always on tap, but how often are you really going to concentrate on this one as opposed to Bless, Crusaderís Mantle, or a smite spell? Probably not very.

    Ancients Oath Spells

    Plant Growth: 1 action/8 hours; V,S. The 1-action version is good for hindering approaching enemies, and the 8-hour version is neat for gardening purposes.

    Protection from Energy: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. A strong protection spell if you anticipate either combat against a certain type of enemy (e.g. some sort of elemental or dragon) or an area with elemental hazards around.

    Vengeance Oath Spells

    Haste: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. If you can get Concentration checks into auto-save territory (take Resilient (CON) for that), this is as good as a Lv. 1-5 personal combat buff gets. Cast before you anticipate combat; it lasts 10 rounds, so donít worry about ďwastingĒ the first couple rounds of duration. The extra attack from this is obviously great, and against a Vow target can result in some of the gaudiest DPR numbers, not to mention giving you another chance to Divine Smite. The double speed can even let you melee attack an enemy you couldnít reach otherwise that round. And the advantage on DEX saves and +2 to AC canít be ignored, either. NOTE: If you didnít take Resilient (CON) then this spell is much less attractive, and can become a double-edged sword thanks to whatís effectively a round of stun if you lose concentration and the spell ends.

    Protection from Energy: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Considering all your combat buffs that require Concentration, you're more likely to use this one for exploring a hazardous area. Good for that purpose.

    Crown Oath Spells

    Aura of Vitality is already on the Paladin spell list. Considering the caliber of this spell, I donít think youíll mind that fact.

    Spirit Guardians: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. In short, this spell is exactly how Crown Paladins, starting at Lv. 9, become tops at dealing with horde battles. Substantial round-by-round AoE damage, still halved on save, that also happens to be ally-friendly. Doesnít get any better, folks.

    Oathbreaker Spells

    Animate Dead: 1 minute; V,S,M. Having an undead army is fun. Especially when they benefit from your Aura of Hate bonus.

    Bestow Curse: 1 action; V,S; Concentration (no Concentration if upcast with 5th-level slot). Pretty nice choice of effects, one of which you can inflict on an enemy in melee touch range, including one that can even make your Control Undead feature easier to use.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:15 PM.

  9. #9
    Lv. 4 Spells (Paladin Lv. 13)

    Banishment: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Remove a strong enemy in a group from play, making the rest of the fight easier, or if it's a single boss, have the party prepare readied actions for when it reappears for a nice full-scale assault. Great either way. And if it's a creature non-native to the plane, even better, as you get rid of them permanently, if that's what you wanted. If you're Vengeance or Crown, this is an Oath spell, so prepare something else.

    Death Ward: 1 action; V,S. Can be quite literally a lifesaver. Protects someone against KO and instant death effects. It doesnít require concentration, either, making this one of the better defensive buffs on the whole.

    Aura of Life: 1 action; V; Concentration. Iím generally not the biggest fan of defensive concentration buffs, but this one is at least undeniably effective against enemies that can drain your hit point maximum, such as vampires. Also like Death Ward it protects against KO but for all allies in aura range.

    Aura of Purity: 1 action; V; Concentration. Grants you and allies immunity to disease, resistance to poison damage and advantage on saves against most of the conditions you'll face. Again, not the biggest fan of defensive concentration buffs, but I can certainly imagine fights where this might be useful.

    Staggering Smite: 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. The damage and effects arenít bad ó 4d6 extra psychic and on a failed WIS save the enemy canít take reactions and has disadvantage on attacks and skill checks. These specific effects take place even if an enemy is specifically immune to, say, blind or fear. BUT the one big problem keeping this spell from greatness is the duration of the effects ó it only lasts until the end of the enemyís next turn FLAT. True, your party can still do a lot of damage during that time (IF the initiative order cooperates), but thatís a bit underwhelming for a 4th-level smite spell, donít you think? It doesnít hurt to prepare this one in case you run into enemies immune to blind or fear, but if those immunities arenít a factor, Blinding Smite and Wrathful Smite are just better.

    Locate Creature: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Prepare it when you need it. Definitely donít prepare it full-time.

    Devotion Oath Spells

    Freedom of Movement: 1 action; V,S,M. Easily one of the high points of the Devotion list. Ignoring difficult terrain is good, immunity to restrained is great, automatic escapes from grapples is excellent, and immunity to paralyzed is a damn lifesaver. A very strong defensive spell, especially since it doesn't even require Concentration.

    Guardian of Faith: 1 action; V. Gives you a chance at inflicting a little auto-damage, up to 60 points' worth. Itís Ö something for Devotion Paladins to damage multiple foes with.

    Ancients Oath Spells

    Ice Storm: 1 action; V,S,M. Itís not a Wizardís or Sorcererís AoE spell of choice, but hey, Paladins will take any AoE capability they can get, and so this is a solid addition to an Ancients Paladinís arsenal.

    Stoneskin: 1 action; V,S,M*; Concentration. An old classic, and resistance to any nonmagical damage involving the usual weapon types is nice indeed. Cost is 100 gp per cast, not insignificant, but not a complete drain, either, if used judiciously.

    Vengeance Oath Spells

    Banishment is already on the Paladin list.

    Dimension Door: 1 action; V. Teleport up to 500 feet, for the win. You can bring one ally with you, too.

    Crown Oath Spells

    Banishment is already on the Paladin list.

    Guardian of Faith: 1 action; V. Devotion Paladins care about this spell much more than you do. If you are at all capable of closing into melee against a horde, you should be casting Spirit Guardians, instead (upcasting it with a 4th-level slot even). If closing into melee just isnít possible, then I suppose go ahead and cast this ...

    Oathbreaker Spells

    Confusion: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. A solid control effect against multiple enemies that has an 80 percent chance round to round of making the enemy a nonfactor against you.

    Blight: 1 action; V,S. Your normal attack routine plus one 4th-level Divine Smite will outdamage this spell by a mile, even against plant creatures and magical plants.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:43 PM.

  10. #10
    Lv. 5 Spells (Paladin Lv. 17)

    Destructive Wave: 1 action; V. FINALLY all Paladins get a legitimate horde-clearing spell! Too bad it took them 17 levels, but better late than never, right? The damage is equivalent to a Fireball cast at 5th-level, it's friendly (i.e. you can exclude your allies from the burst), and the area of effect is enormous, being a 30-foot radius from you. And it's only a Verbal component, so you can bust this out fully armed and shielded, even. Keep prepared at all times.

    Banishing Smite: 1 bonus action; V; Concentration. Gets its mark for the extra damage it does alone; 5d10 is no joke, force is almost never resisted, and combined with a 4th-level Divine Smite results in a lovely damage spike against a boss (and if you crit, whoa). However, the banishment effect isn't really something you want to rely on or actively aim for, as it only goes into effect when you knock the enemy to less than 50 hit points with the hit. By then, it's about to die. If you DO happen to get that banishing effect, have everyone ready actions for when the enemy reappears and give it a swift end. NOTE: This Smite spell actually works with a ranged attack, too, so huzzah for that.

    Circle of Power: 1 action; V; Concentration. Grants what basically amounts to spell resistance for you and all allies within 30 feet: Advantage on saves vs. spells and magic effects. An added bonus is an Evasion-like effect except for all saves. A powerful defensive spell, to be sure, but again, itís concentration so it competes with your staple offensive buffs and smites. If youíre fortunate enough to wield a Holy Avenger, you already get the most meaningful part of this spell as a constant effect (and the same range, even, being Lv. 17+). If youíre Crown, this is an Oath spell.

    Geas: 1 minute; V. Can definitely be useful if you need to compel some low-level NPC into doing your will. If youíre Crown, this is an Oath spell.

    Dispel Evil and Good: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Basically a Protection from Evil and Good spell combined with either a very limited Banishment option or dispel of charm and fear and a possible exorcism. Considering its competition at this level, hard to recommend a full-time preparation. One better left to the Cleric if it must be cast.

    Raise Dead: 1 hour; V,S,M*. The 10-day limit on this spell is, in most cases, liberal enough that youíll only prepare this on a need basis. Revivify is typically enough.

    Devotion Oath Spells

    Commune: 1 minute; V,S,M. Asking a god for answers can come in pretty handy.

    Flame Strike: 1 action; V,S,M. If at all possible, you should be using Destructive Wave as your AoE of choice at this level, instead, which deals more damage and has a MUCH larger area of effect. The only time I can imagine using this spell, instead, is if youíre forced entirely into a ranged combat situation where wading into the middle of the horde to set up Destructive Wave is not possible. In that type of battle, the 60 feet of range this spell has will help you.

    Ancients Oath Spells

    Commune with Nature: 1 minute; V,S. Solid exploration spell with a nice distance and some good knowledge gained.

    Tree Stride: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Teleport between trees. That's handy at times.

    Vengeance Oath Spells

    Hold Monster: 1 action; V,S,M; Concentration. Like Hold Person, except works on everything. Same as before, enemy gets two chances at a save before you have a chance to auto-crit next turn, but if youíve got a Rogue, Barbarian, or second Paladin nearby or someone Hasted you, thatís not nearly as much of a problem. Not worthwhile against Legendary monsters, though, and by Lv. 17 those have become more prolific.

    Scrying: 10 minutes; V,S,M*; Concentration. Spy on your quarry, even more effectively if you know them well or have a possession of theirs. Good for scouting.

    Crown Oath Spells

    Circle of Power and Geas are both already on the Paladin list.

    Oathbreaker Spells

    Dominate Person: 1 action; V,S; Concentration. Mind-controlling humanoids is fun, and useful.

    Contagion: 1 action; V,S. The effects of the disease have been clarified (by Jeremy Crawford here) to not kick in until 3 failed saves. Which is a good thing for the game, because itíd be hilariously broken otherwise. But in a pure combat situation, its utility is very limited. The only time youíd want to cast it in combat is if youíre facing a likely recurring adversary who likes to escape at the first sign of defeat; make them roll saving throws (or burn Legendary Resistances) as a parting gift.

    Last edited by Gladius Legis; Sunday, 18th December, 2016 at 05:58 PM.

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