D&D 5E Companion thread to 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part IX: Paladin)

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Indeed, I'm not even sure it is possible without actually rewriting the rules (e.g. as Level Up has done), that is, I'm almost convinced (call it 60% convinced) that even a new class wouldn't cut it.
So, I disagree, and I’ll tell you why! 😂

What you’d need in 5e to make it work are the following:

  • Attack effects like booming blade, where if you hit they suffer damage if they move willingly. A feature that makes every attack do that is totally within 5e’s design parameters. One that deals the secondary damage if the target makes an attack that doesn’t include you would work just fine.
  • Auras that do things like create difficult terrain and/or cause damage or restricting effects for enemies around you.
  • Limited but not hyper limited or later level abilities to transform into a Guardian Form that buffs you defenses and your punishment/sticky features, and change your basic attacks. Sounds like a great central feature for a class! Could even be what defines subclasses, though that would then potentially restrict variety.
  • Bonus: something like your aura grants allies THP and enemies take damage when they hit a creature with that THP. Maybe model it on Armor of Agythis so you can scale it.
 

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So, I disagree, and I’ll tell you why! 😂

What you’d need in 5e to make it work are the following:

  • Attack effects like booming blade, where if you hit they suffer damage if they move willingly. A feature that makes every attack do that is totally within 5e’s design parameters. One that deals the secondary damage if the target makes an attack that doesn’t include you would work just fine.
  • Auras that do things like create difficult terrain and/or cause damage or restricting effects for enemies around you.
  • Limited but not hyper limited or later level abilities to transform into a Guardian Form that buffs you defenses and your punishment/sticky features, and change your basic attacks. Sounds like a great central feature for a class! Could even be what defines subclasses, though that would then potentially restrict variety.
  • Bonus: something like your aura grants allies THP and enemies take damage when they hit a creature with that THP. Maybe model it on Armor of Agythis so you can scale it.
I hadn't considered taking inspiration from booming blade, that is a potential direction to take things, sure. The big issue, to me, is that third point. 5e enforces pretty strict limits on what characters are allowed to do, and the community at large is hypervigiliant about certain things being "overpowered." (Consider, for example, how even people on this forum who scoff at the concept of "balance" react with dismay or scorn at the suggestion that you could have a Warlord regularly granting attacks to allies due to how allegedly unbalanced it would be if paired with Rogue Sneak Attack.)

Perhaps I am cynical and jaded, but at least the 5e books we have (more on that momentarily) are, as I said, a weird mix of too restrictive and too open-ended to make a lot of this work. The restrictions enforce some actually pretty draconian limits on what classes are even allowed to attempt, especially if they don't use spells. (Spells, as usual, are a huge problem point for D&D design...) And then on the open-ended side, there's so much that the books are silent on, or worse, don't even seem to consider in the first place. That is, the difference between "an empty space where maybe rules could have been written, but there aren't any," and "rules for that can't be written for this system, at least not without pulling out its guts and completely rewiring them," a la Level Up.

It doesn't help that there's an intensely conservative fanbase that fights back against even the smallest deviations. I floated the trial balloon of a PrC once, years ago. The response, in multiple places not just here, was somewhere between "completely ignored" and "drowned out by negative responses." The very idea of a PrC gets peoples' backs up, not because the concept of a restricted-length alternate class option is actually bad, but because several people think "ah, that crappy thing from 3e? Absolutely not ever, doesn't matter how much you change it." (If you're curious, I can send you a link. I never got the chance to playtest it--literally never found a group willing after more than six months, so I eventually gave up--so I can't actually promise it's balanced. But I gave it my best shot.)

Oh also @EzekielRaiden I think the anniversary core books will make the game more compatible with having defender type characters, judging by the playtest thus far.

Just having a slowed condition helps a little.
It certainly seems like the "One D&D" playtest lacks the anti-4e animus present in the D&D Next playtest. We'll see what that ends up actually producing in the end. I've been burned enough times to not bother having any expectations, other than "more of the same." (E.g. the playtest dragonborn was deeply disappointing, even if technically the new version of dragon breath did a bit more damage than the PHB version.)
 

FireLance

Legend
But "spell slot" isn't "flavor text," is it? It means something. Antimagic fields. Upcast--er, uprallying. "Countercommanding." You can't just change the names--they come with mechanical significance that matters, that runs deep into the heart of the system.

...

There's an underlying further issue though. Even if you could quickly and conveniently wipe away all the mechanical issues with a Warlord who simply takes spells and calls them something that isn't "spells," I would know what they are. I would know what the underlying system is, and it would chafe. Things that are clearly, explicitly not magic in the least and yet copy over the traditional structure of D&D magic? Yeah, that's a problem.

It wasn't a problem in 4e because powers aren't spells--they're more fundamental than that. Powers can be anything. Even Melee Basic Attack is a power--literally "I just threw a punch with my hand" can be expressed as a power, because that's just the framework that expresses defined actions. (Skills, meanwhile, cover undefined actions, which is why 4e pushes such an expansive, open-ended concept of skills, and why Skill Challenges are actually really important.)
Snipped some stuff.

4E sidestepped the problem of magic vs. martial by basically removing antimagic, VSM components, counterspelling, dispel magic, etc. In effect, and contrary to what some detractors keep saying, it made everyone a non-spellcaster.

I also think it would be somewhat hypocrtical to argue that daily martial powers in 4E are not spells and then argue that daily martial slots in 5E are spells because they follow the spell slot progression.

I am coming round to thinking that the bard actually makes a good chassis for a warlord character. It just needs the following:

1. A College that grants access to Battlemaster maneuvers, allows Bardic Inspiration dice to be used as Superiority dice, and allow Spell Secrets to gain more maneuvers.

2. Sword Magic "spells" that are powered by spell slots but are otherwise Extraordinary or Supernatural in the 3E sense. As part of the "spell", you make a weapon attack and if it hits, you deal extra damage (may depend on level) and get some other benefit or effect.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm replying here so as not to derail the other thread.
It's more than that, but less than the others. There are gods and goddesses of mercy, compassion, charity, etc. They could and would have paladins that swears an oath to redeem others. To me it's just a much more limited oath than the others that remain.
Certainly, I suppose I just don't see the subclass as doing anything more, mechanically, than fulfill part of the archetype of the Paladin that should have had some sort of mechanical weight in the base class in the first place, and then half the subclass is just there to turn that into a whole subclass.

And yeah, it's a more narrow oath.

And I'd rather see this concept fleshed out in a priest class, but since dnd doesn't have such a thing, it just has whatever the hell the cleric is trying to be, I'm not mad at it, here. I just don't like it as much as even the Devotion Paladin.

Cookie flavored cookie is just a sugar cookie, which is delicious.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Certainly, I suppose I just don't see the subclass as doing anything more, mechanically, than fulfill part of the archetype of the Paladin that should have had some sort of mechanical weight in the base class in the first place, and then half the subclass is just there to turn that into a whole subclass.
This I think depends on your view of what a paladin's role is.

Since 2e I haven't liked how narrow the paladin's role was, being just a paragon of virtue and divine justice. When 3e came out I changed paladins from being the traditional narrow role into being a holy paragon of the god he's a paladin of, so if you were a paladin of Mystra, detect evil would be replaced by detect magic and other changes to fit here theme would be made, as would the restrictions that the paladin could not break without risking a fall from grace. Alignment would have to match the paladin's god. I let the players know that I would work with them to create a unique paladin for whatever god they wanted to be a paladin of.

4e and 5e have changed paladin to more closely fit my 3e vision, so I'm more apt to view the oaths in that light.

If you hold to a more traditional view of paladins, then it makes sense that you would see it as something that is already incorporated into the base class itself. The oaths would the be more of a flavor of the traditional paragon of justice and virtue, rather than being non-traditional paragons.
And I'd rather see this concept fleshed out in a priest class, but since dnd doesn't have such a thing, it just has whatever the hell the cleric is trying to be, I'm not mad at it, here. I just don't like it as much as even the Devotion Paladin.
I could see a Mercy Domain for clerics.
Cookie flavored cookie is just a sugar cookie, which is delicious.
Hah! I can't stand them, which sucked for me about a month ago when my 8 year old son who thinks those are god's gift to mankind gave me one in thanks for doing something nice for him. It took me all day to eat 90% of the cookie(I didn't want to disappoint him or rebuff his generosity) and the remaining 10% disappeared after his bedtime. Chocolate chip cookies are where it's at!
 

Cookie flavored cookie is just a sugar cookie, which is delicious.
Clearly you and I have very different sugar cookies. A good sugar cookie absolutely has its own flavor and distinction.

Calling a cookie "cookie-flavored," at least from my perspective, is like making sugar cookie dough and then putting chunks of chocolate chip cookie into it. Not chocolate chunks, cookie chunks. As in...you already had to make cookies...in order to make other cookies. It's just redundant.

Devotion to a difficult moral standard is literally the core of the Paladin concept. It is the through line that the class has had for literally its entire existence, one of the exceedingly rare things in D&D that has remained truly constant across every edition (that has a Paladin in it, anyway.) What specific standard one adheres to has of course varies quite a lot, but the idea of deep and pervasive devotion is more central to the Paladin than to any other class, even thr Cleric. The Cleric is, in some sense, cerebral. A priest, educated in the faith, full of wise words and counsel, there to guide and nurture the flock. The Paladin is not such a counselor. She is a warrior and an exemplar. The dedication, the self-sacrifice, the unremitting purity of her commitment is the source of her strength. The Cleric can and perhaps even should ask questions of his deity, teasing out the subtleties of doctrine and ritual that govern layperson and clergy. The Paladin is neither lay nor clergy, but a true and explicit soldier of the faith. Soldiers obey the chain of command. They are, by definition, supposed to be devoted to their nation.

An oath of devotion is...just...that's what every oath requires! Devotion to a cause!
 

I also think it would be somewhat hypocrtical to argue that daily martial powers in 4E are not spells and then argue that daily martial slots in 5E are spells because they follow the spell slot progression.
I certainly don't see any hypocrisy in it.

I genuinely 100% do not want 9 (and a half) "tiers" of "commands" which come in discrete chunky "positions," where you learn a set number of "commands" per "tier" based on your "command level," with increased power if you "uprally" them into higher-"tier" "positions."

Powers aren't spells because spells are really specific things. It's really obvious when you're using the spell slot mechanic vs when you aren't. Powers? Every pre-defined action is a power! Taking an instant to catch your breath is a power (Second Wind.) Throwing a stone is a power (Ranged Basic Attack.) Patching up an unconscious ally is a power (Stabilize Ally.) Drinking a potion is a power (formally, each individual potion is a distinct power, because there are different effects for different potions.) Channel Divinity is a power. Lay on Hands is a power. Wild Shape is a power.

Like...you already recognize that there is a difference, a rather important one, between features like Channel Divinity or Wild Shape or Rage and spells, right? 5e treats them very differently. 4e says, "Do we really need to? They're all pre-defined actions. Wouldn't it be useful if they spoke a common language, rather than speaking four mutually unintelligible languages?"

It is neither the case that 4e made all characters spellcasters nor that it made all characters non-spellcasters. Instead, it said, "Spells are one kind of action players can take. We want a framework that can let both spells AND non-spells receive the same kinds of buffs and debuffs, so that everyone is on the same page and agrees on the value of various bonuses or penalties."

"Powers" are at a higher level of abstraction than "magic" vs "nonmagic," let alone "spells" vs "non-spells." Spells are not all possible pre-defined actions in 5e. All pre-defined actions are powers in 4e.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Clearly you and I have very different sugar cookies. A good sugar cookie absolutely has its own flavor and distinction.

Calling a cookie "cookie-flavored," at least from my perspective, is like making sugar cookie dough and then putting chunks of chocolate chip cookie into it. Not chocolate chunks, cookie chunks. As in...you already had to make cookies...in order to make other cookies. It's just redundant.

Devotion to a difficult moral standard is literally the core of the Paladin concept. It is the through line that the class has had for literally its entire existence, one of the exceedingly rare things in D&D that has remained truly constant across every edition (that has a Paladin in it, anyway.) What specific standard one adheres to has of course varies quite a lot, but the idea of deep and pervasive devotion is more central to the Paladin than to any other class, even thr Cleric. The Cleric is, in some sense, cerebral. A priest, educated in the faith, full of wise words and counsel, there to guide and nurture the flock. The Paladin is not such a counselor. She is a warrior and an exemplar. The dedication, the self-sacrifice, the unremitting purity of her commitment is the source of her strength. The Cleric can and perhaps even should ask questions of his deity, teasing out the subtleties of doctrine and ritual that govern layperson and clergy. The Paladin is neither lay nor clergy, but a true and explicit soldier of the faith. Soldiers obey the chain of command. They are, by definition, supposed to be devoted to their nation.

An oath of devotion is...just...that's what every oath requires! Devotion to a cause!
This reads like you’re just looking at the name of the oath, rather than what it does, but!

The game is better for having subclasses that primarily double down on the base class. Redemption bothers me because it is focusing on a thing that should be in the base class but isn’t. Devotion is excellent because it isn’t trying to create an offshoot of the archetype, it’s representing the classic iteration of the archetype.
 

Hmm... re: Wardens and Oath of Ancients I think that I'd do two major things:
  • Encourage lighter armours through stat swaps and/or bonuses; the "Plate armour is best" doesn't feel at all right to me.
  • More messing with the spell list. And possibly custom spells to resemble Warden dailies
 

Devotion to a difficult moral standard is literally the core of the Paladin concept.
The thing about Oath of Devotion is that it isn't generic devotion any more than Oathbreaker is a generic approach to breaking your oath (Redemption I think would be more common). It's the specific Classic Lawful Good Paladin's oath. If I were trying to play an AD&D or 3.X paladin in 5e then Oath of Devotion is IMO the main real choice except for edge cases.
It is the through line that the class has had for literally its entire existence,
And here's where we disagree. The 4e and 5e paladins have Devotion to a variety of specific standards and it's about the oath. Meanwhile the AD&D 1e & 2e, 3.0, and 3.5 paladins have all had just one standard in the core rules specifically centered around an inflexible understanding of lawful goodness. And I think there is very definite value in keeping that as a subclass.
 

Undrave

Hero
I've said it before : I think Paladins should not be spellcasters who give up spell slots to Smite, but the other way around. They should give up Smites to do 'Miracles' (i.e. cast certain spells). This would lead to more bespoke spell lists and ways to expend the Paladin's spellcasting through subclasses. I could see one getting rituals, for exemple.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've said it before : I think Paladins should not be spellcasters who give up spell slots to Smite, but the other way around. They should give up Smites to do 'Miracles' (i.e. cast certain spells). This would lead to more bespoke spell lists and ways to expend the Paladin's spellcasting through subclasses. I could see one getting rituals, for exemple.
I think the Paladin and Ranger both really should have ritual casting even if you take out the regular spellcasting, but I'm otherwise on board with Paladins not being spellcasters. But if I need to make them as compatible as possible with the existing subclasses, I would completely separate Divine Smite from spell slots, OR, change it to an extra 1d6 radiant damage whenever you hit with a weapon attack that deals extra damage from a spell.

My preference though would be to separate them, because if the Paladin is a spellcaster, combat optimizer shouldn't feel obligated to save their spell slots for smiting.
 

The thing about Oath of Devotion is that it isn't generic devotion any more than Oathbreaker is a generic approach to breaking your oath (Redemption I think would be more common).
It doesn't really seem that way from its description. "The Oath of Devotion binds a paladin to the loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order. Sometimes called cavaliers, white knights, or holy warriors, these paladins meet the ideal of the knight in shining armor, acting with honor in pursuit of justice and the greater good. They hold themselves to the highest standards of conduct, and some, for better or worse, hold the rest of the world to the same standards." The only way this is different from devotion-in-the-generic is the requirement of goodness. Remove the requirement of goodness and it literally is just "be devoted to something." In fact, in pure mechanical terms, nothing about the Oath of Devotion requires you to be good. You could very easily be an evil Devotion Paladin--because it's protection from evil and good, after all. And everyone knows Lucifer was an angel...

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by the parenthetical. Redemption is about helping others to achieve redemption, not about finding it yourself (though you totally could do that, it wouldn't contradict anything, it's just not what the oath is about.) The Redemption features are all about nonviolence, diplomacy, and incapacitation instead of killing--but even the example oath tenets explicitly say, "Any such action [read: passing lethal judgment on an evildoer] must be carefully weighed and the consequences fully understood, but once you have made the decision, follow through with it knowing your path is just."

It's the specific Classic Lawful Good Paladin's oath. If I were trying to play an AD&D or 3.X paladin in 5e then Oath of Devotion is IMO the main real choice except for edge cases.
I mean, sure? I'm not really challenging that. I'm just saying, this is blander than unflavored oatmeal. It is, in effect, "Paladin, just Good." Which almost all Paladins will be good regardless, so...yeah. I get that there is a reason such things should exist. But it's incredibly dull and boring. The only subclasses that are more boring than Devotion are Champion Fighter and Berserker Barbarian, and those died right quick.

And here's where we disagree. The 4e and 5e paladins have Devotion to a variety of specific standards and it's about the oath.
But they're still about devotion. That's my point. Devotion is the heart of what the Paladin class is. It doesn't matter that the Oath of Devotion entails goodness; to be a Paladin IS to be devoted. ALL Oaths are devotional. Every single one of them. Hence my statement about "cookie-flavored cookies." I wouldn't--at all--mind there being a...I dunno, "Oath of Righteousness," where it's about being an absolutely sterling example of moral rectitude for others, and sometimes encouraging (or bullying) others to follow that example. Beacuse not all Paladins will be righteous. But EVERY Paladin, absolutely all Paladins, will be devoted.

Meanwhile the AD&D 1e & 2e, 3.0, and 3.5 paladins have all had just one standard in the core rules specifically centered around an inflexible understanding of lawful goodness. And I think there is very definite value in keeping that as a subclass.
Again, I think it should be rewritten to actually reflect that it is about devotion to righteousness, not about devotion-in-general. Because all Paladins, by definition, are devoted to something. "devotion, n.: 1. profound dedication, especially to religion. 2. earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc." But profound dedication to the Bane, the Lord of War, or Erathis, the Law-Queen, means quite different things from being a Paladin with profound dedication to righteousness.
 

Lycurgon

Adventurer
Personally I don't see the Oath of Ancients as an attempt to incorporate Wardens into 5e. I see them as an attempt to make what they say they are - Green Knights or Fey Knights. It is about protecting the Light and Beauty in the world, not about being guardians of nature.

guess what I'd say is, the way most people speak about 5e...

The first thing isn't supposed to ever be "yep," because the system is supposed to be more open, more accepting, more flexible than any version before. Admitting that it is a kludge, and more importantly that one is in fact needed to accomplish something, is a pretty major let-down from the system that supposedly touted modularity, flexibility, ease of modification, etc.
I don't think it is fair to criticise 5e for not living up to being modular, flexible and easy to modify if the solutions you are looking at is just using existing rules and kludging classes together. The point that it is easy to modify means that you need to modify it to get a result that is not already part of the published rules. 5e is easy to modify and create new rules. If you want a Warlord or a Warden, which don't exist in the official rules, you can make one or find one made by other people. Or you can modify existing rules and put things together in different way, creating new options by taking a bit from here, there and anywhere to make what you want. If you want to make use of the open, flexible and easy to modify nature of 5e, you need to be willing to modify or accept the modifications others have made/suggested.

I like KibblesTasty's homebrew Warden class. For me, it has the right flavour and mechanics to capture the concept of the 4e Warden. I am not entirely sure about the balance of it yet, I haven't playtested it yet, but the flavour is great for a Warden conversion. It fits in well with how the existing rules work and adds new and interesting powers to do things similar to what the 4e version could.
KibblesTasty has also made a Warlord homebrew too, although I am not that familiar with it so can't say much about it (so have lots of other people on the internet, but KibblesTasty is one of the more popular class and subclass homebrewer.)
 

5e is easy to modify and create new rules.
Having been working on my own homebrew things for a couple of years now (and specifically a proper homebrew class mostly over the course of this current year)....I significantly disagree with that assertion. It's not any easier than it was in 3e, and only easier in a very limited sense than it was in 4e (namely, that the balance is worse and you have theoretically fewer levels to work with.)
 


It doesn't really seem that way from its description. "The Oath of Devotion binds a paladin to the loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order. Sometimes called cavaliers, white knights, or holy warriors, these paladins meet the ideal of the knight in shining armor, acting with honor in pursuit of justice and the greater good. They hold themselves to the highest standards of conduct, and some, for better or worse, hold the rest of the world to the same standards." The only way this is different from devotion-in-the-generic is the requirement of goodness. Remove the requirement of goodness and it literally is just "be devoted to something." In fact, in pure mechanical terms, nothing about the Oath of Devotion requires you to be good. You could very easily be an evil Devotion Paladin--because it's protection from evil and good, after all. And everyone knows Lucifer was an angel...
You'd be a decidedly off-brand Oath of Devotion Paladin playing one as evil. If its the fluff you're going for then note all the words about "The loftiest ideals..."

As for singling out the mechanics I'd be surprised to see the following mechanics on an evil paladin based in large part on D&D history:
  • Turn the Unholy; traditionally D&D has gone for good = turning, evil = commanding
  • Spell known: Sanctuary. This sort of protective spell rarely shows up thematically on evil characters
  • Zone of Truth: While I have a lot of respect for Neil Gaiman's rebuttal of "always telling the truth would make for a better world" it is nevertheless normal to associate goodness with truth and evil with lies. And it's definitely lawful.
  • Lesser Restoration: Again healing and cursebreaking is normally associated with goodness
  • Beacon of Hope again feels very much like a good aligned spell.
So yes, everyone knows that Lucifer was an angel. This doesn't somehow change angelic iconography to be evil. It just makes it possible. Likewise the Devotion paladin is set up in a number of ways as both lawful and good in ways e.g. the Oath of Glory isn't. Frankly if you're calling this "blander than unflavoured oatmeal" I'd suggest you take a lateral flow test.

For that matter your mechanical criticisms can be levelled at the Oath of Redemption which has as its only clearly good feature its aura. "Emissary of Peace" for example is exactly the skill you'd need to whip up an angry mob with pitchforks and torches and its abilities like sleep and hold person are great for kidnappers.
I mean, sure? I'm not really challenging that. I'm just saying, this is blander than unflavored oatmeal. It is, in effect, "Paladin, just Good." Which almost all Paladins will be good regardless, so...yeah. I get that there is a reason such things should exist. But it's incredibly dull and boring. The only subclasses that are more boring than Devotion are Champion Fighter and Berserker Barbarian, and those died right quick.
Except that it's Paladin, Good and Pure - which is a whole lot of flavour in its own right. And the Champion Fighter is also mechanically useless while not doing anything thematically the Battlemaster doesn't so is redundant while the Berserker will get you killed so is worse than useless. Putting the Oath of Devotion Paladin into the same category as those two is sheer nonsense; those two are two of the four worst subclasses in the game (alongside the PHB Beast Master for turning your game into an escort mission and the Four Elements Monk for having its abilities be so overcosted that in practice most people are going to be stronger without a subclass).

Am I saying that the Oath of Devotion Paladin is great? Not in the slightest. It's average. Mechanically it's functional with some flavour to the mechanics. Flavour-wise it has a definite niche by being the "classic" paladin especially when the other two are the Warden-inspired Ancients and the "burn it down" probably not good Oath of Vengeance. Can things be done to improve it? Yes, definitely. I'm not claiming it's above average either mechanically or thematically. But does it have a thematic niche? Yes. The "classic D&D" paladin (which only looked good compared to older classes). Does it execute mechanically? To a non-trivial extent, yes
But they're still about devotion. That's my point. Devotion is the heart of what the Paladin class is. It doesn't matter that the Oath of Devotion entails goodness; to be a Paladin IS to be devoted.
... is this entire rant just about the name Oath of Devotion and a complaint that it is not, as you suggest, the Oath of Righteousness? Are you writing paragraphs and screeds about a single word in the name?
 

Except that it's Paladin, Good and Pure - which is a whole lot of flavour in its own right.
I just...don't agree with that. Again, that's blander than unflavored oatmeal as far as I'm concerned. That's like saying "Mad Scientist, Unhinged and Brilliant" or "Shōnen Protagonist, Ridiculously Strong and Bizarrely Friendly." Sure, not all Paladins will be Good (since I prefer the 4e style thereof.) But purity, in the terms of a Paladin...is purity of devotion. Like...that's literally what it is. “My good blade carves the casques of men,/My tough lance thrusteth sure,/and my strength is as the strength of ten/because my heart is pure.” (Tennyson, Sir Galahad.) The purity is the devotion; the devotion is the purity. They are one and the same, inseparable.

But does it have a thematic niche?
I never really said otherwise. I am arguing that its thematic niche is dull and insipid, and thus should not be the winner. Redemption, on the other hand, actually had flavor and texture to it, and represents a much more interesting and critical struggle: how long to press the "all life is sacred, every injury is a wrong, every soul is worth redeeming" doctrine, in the face of a world where you cannot always find the resources and effort and (most importantly) time to achieve that redemption, where one must sometimes accept that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and yet never fall prey to the cynicism that says "well if the perfect can be the enemy of the good, we should not seek the perfect in the first place."

That's a fantastically interesting, worthy struggle--and one that will follow such a character for their whole life, no matter what other things they face. They will always wrestle with that, and always wonder if they made the right decisions in the past, or if they will err in the future, even despite their genuine and continuing devotion.

... is this entire rant just about the name Oath of Devotion and a complaint that it is not, as you suggest, the Oath of Righteousness? Are you writing paragraphs and screeds about a single word in the name?
No. I think other parts of it should change just as you do. But I do take special umbrage with the use of that word, because "devotion" is literally what every Paladin should have. Not every Paladin should care about redemption, or royal authority, or ensuring that the wicked are punished. But every Paladin should be devoted.

The mechanics--or, perhaps I should say mehchanics--aren't particularly interesting. The fluff is worse, and the name is outright rank. Collectively, we have something that, yes, it serves a valid function. It's also one of the worst options on the list, and one that I dearly hope gets heavily reworked in "One D&D."
 
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Devotion is bland. All Paladins are devoted to something. And they all have Lay On Hands and protective aura for their pals, so 'oh this is the nice Paladin' doesn't really mean anything.
 

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