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Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:26 PM #1
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
[GUIDE] My Word Is My Sword: The Paladin GuideMy Word Is My Sword: The Paladin Guide
ďIt is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.Ē
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:
II. Proficiencies, Attributes, Backgrounds and Class Features
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:27 PM #2
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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.
Armor: 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:28 PM #3
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:28 PM #4
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Voloís Guide Races
Monster Races (VGM)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 25th February, 2017 at 06:58 PM.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:29 PM #5
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:30 PM #6
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:01 PM.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:30 PM #7
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Lv. 2 Spells (Paladin Lv. 5)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:31 PM.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:31 PM #8
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Lv. 3 Spells (Paladin Lv. 9)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:15 PM.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:31 PM #9
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Lv. 4 Spells (Paladin Lv. 13)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Saturday, 17th December, 2016 at 08:43 PM.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 06:32 PM #10
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Lv. 5 Spells (Paladin Lv. 17)
Last edited by Gladius Legis; Sunday, 18th December, 2016 at 05:58 PM.
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