Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #15: Herald

Welcome to the 15th Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of the game’s herald class. This is the final class in this playtest process.

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  • Pick two Cantrips is a nice bit of flavor with the reworked spell list making it pretty certain that one or both is going to be some form of utility or buff is a nice touch. Default paladins haven't really gotten anything but an array of murderhobo first tools for so long that they tend to tune out & wait for violence so it feels like they might at least attempt to look for other avenues. Casters will be glad that their limited cantrip slots don't need to choose beween a chance that someone will have one of the other the side dish cantrips, & taking one instead of loading their at will combat toolbox with versatility to make for even more reason to rejoice :D
  • Divine sense: The way this has the ability to potentially learn the identity & any hallowed/desecrated locations it has seems like it would have tons of potential to know & follow interesting breadcrumbs rather than just "yep it's a $type">kill. Something as trivial as the $type on the other side of the door or hiding in the bartenderis named B'ob or whatever opens the door for a huge swath of social interactions even before the ability to leverage knowing that B'ob has something the gm just made up protected here on the map three days away can come in to shake things up while the GM is prepping.
  • LoH sounds the same as o5e or close to it
  • Maneuvers:spirited steed & tempered iron are both very fitting of heralds & seem like they would allow a lot of chances for heralds to differentiate themselves from each other. The teamwork & reciprocity with sanguine knot stuff is also great for players to coordinate in a fight so I can't wait to start seeing them in my players.
  • Smite: getting it at second will make a huge difference in feeling like a herald rather than a fighter waiting to come online & I like the way it's baked into the class instead of being linked to spell slots.
  • Empowered Smite: All of the options will allow interestingly useful tools to exist in the toolbox between the igniting DoT, marking anti-invis, & repelling smite but igniting will probably raise the question of "is this magical fire & a save against a magical or mundane effect" at some point while repelling smite is probably going to almost immediately trigger "what happens if I repel that into bob or that wall?" so it might not be a bad idea to note them.
  • Heraldric sermon: proficient & limited advantage on persuade/perform/intimidate fits nicely with the class. I think coming at level 5 rather than 1 also gives some time for the player to think about their role in the group & let themselves solidify a bit in the campaign to a nice effect.
  • Sacred Aura: The aura's are nice& I agree witha lot of what's been said on the 10-15ft bump to help me as a GM push the party into considering not clustering up to such an extreme degree being a welcome change. At least my o5e games tend to advance wayyyy slower than average (one was like 3 months to 5th iirc) so my paladin players would definitely appreciate some kind of weak level1 aura even if it's just opening the door a crack a few levels early. Being able to swap the aura's at activation will add some nice flexibility in ways that really make the herald think about how they can maximize what they can do for the group rather than just having it exist as a passive spotlight
  • Greater empowered smite:
    • Blinding & disorienting smite: These are almost nifty debuffs, but the free save every round (for any debuff & not just smites) is over the top. Changing that to as a bonus action they can save would make almost zero difference in most cases but wouldn't feel like expending a resource that just goes away quick if the target is lucky on the d20 or has good saves. The fact that one is a save or nothing happens makes adding some cost however trivial to the save very deserved
    • Taunting smite The inverted damage shield that makes it an interesting way of "taunting" without engaging in mind control but the same save to accomplish something or not then free save every turn to remove comes up again, changing that to a bonus action save or something would at least add the illusion of a cost to saving.
  • Lend faith: These kind of pull a friend from the fire in a pinch abilities are always popular & do a great job of encouraging the bearer o be on the ball about paying attention to others so I really love this.
  • Reveal heresy: The way this differentiates itself from similar abilities of other classes by making it a secret save from the fibber against a passive score to get a sense is great flavor
  • Truth of conviction: This is an awesome total game changer for parties & comes at a perfect time for when players are starting to shift from a band of folks doing odd jobs to well known people likely to have a reputation of some kind. As a GM there are plenty of times I wave off the rolling for truthful stuff, but there are others where it just doesn't feel right to do that without some kind of skill checking. Having this simultaneously push some safety net under whoever happens to be skilled/active while encouraging some degree of goodytwoshoes type behavior is a nice flavor too.
  • Aura of healing & aura of smiting: These are huge bumps for the things they do & might turn out to be even more popular than a giant bonus on saves with good reason. As a GM I can't wait as the huge save bonus always feels like too much of a safety net.
  • Aura of overcoming: Personally I hate resistant to nonmagical bludgeon piercing & slashing with the efforts that o5e goes through to balance so many things against some hypothetical game with no magic weapons so will cross my fingers & hope that the equipment overhaul & new crafting thing amounts to being something quite a bit more than just any +1 weapon.
  • Bestowed understanding: This is really cool & feels like something anyone who knows a little of some other common local language or even just not entirely fluent grasp on the local language can really grin with understanding at the feeling of trying to fit together some coherent topic based on a handful of known words & maybe these other words are similar to these others from my language. I also love that it gives a little gm guidance in going with "basic understanding" rather than translate understand or whatever. IME picking up that skill is something that tends to make GMs more willing to make up flavorful bits of text & such to add spice or allow partial imperfectly vague knowledge checks they weren't prepared for
  • Sense Import: this feels like an extension of the same sort of newbie GM training wheels in the form of a cool & flavorful ability that fits the class in fun ways for the player & is very much liked.
  • Undaunted: d&d paladin saves & immunities have always made them a bit of a fearless character ready to charge in like some combo of leroy jenkins & kenny mcormick but it feels like this accomplishes that while still maintaining some room for tension
  • The other knacks were obviously useful with nice flavor fitting the class well.

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A suffusion of yellow
The abilities dont really lend themselves to playing your evil Black Knight character though - wheres the Aura of Fear and the Necrotic Smite?


I like almost everything,

but what's with Divine smite?

I like the reduced damage and linking it to proficiency modifier for number of usages. Good choice.
But why link it to bonus action?
Damage was reduced, usages limited, why have an extra cost of bonus action?

If you want to limit nova burst possibility; treat it as sneak attack. Once per turn only. But as it has limits in usages per day, maybe even 1/turn is not needed.


I like almost everything,

but what's with Divine smite?

I like the reduced damage and linking it to proficiency modifier for number of usages. Good choice.
But why link it to bonus action?
Damage was reduced, usages limited, why have an extra cost of bonus action?

If you want to limit nova burst possibility; treat it as sneak attack. Once per turn only. But as it has limits in usages per day, maybe even 1/turn is not needed.
I bet it has to do with how many maneuvers use a bonus action & being able to burn spell slots to regain spent exertion points
I think in that context it's probably for the best & allows some degree of not needing to toss strings & red tape on the maneuvers & smites themselves to ward off "what happens if this gets used with smites" type problems


Have you considered activating basic and empowered smites by exertion points instead of giving it its own pool? That would reduce the number of resources a Herald player needs to keep track of during gameplay.

It also seems odd that Heralds don't get exertion points that are recovered after a short rest, unlike most other martial classes, and have to convert spell slots to get them. It doesn't seem to be worth the loss of Fighting Style, unless it is a deliberate decision to dial back the power level of the PH paladin.

Minor nitpick: the document still references "paladin spell" in the Spellcasting Ability section.


This will be very interesting to try out at my table. One player sees Paladins as OP and would gut the class if given the chance. Another sees them as the best designed class in the game. I like that the specialty smites are built into the class and divine sense is "always on". Solid changes imo.
tbh, they're kind of both right. paladins are way stronger than other 5e martials, but that doesn't mean they're badly designed - it's just that other martials should be brought up to their level.


On Divine Sense, is "On a failed save, you also learn the creature’s identity" supposed to mean you learn that one of the creatures is "George the Zombie", "George", or "a zombie"? If it really is supposed to be the first, that's seems really odd, unless the herald has met George or George had some significance in lore.

tbh, they're kind of both right. paladins are way stronger than other 5e martials, but that doesn't mean they're badly designed - it's just that other martials should be brought up to their level.
This discussion has been beat to death at my table. Friend A thinks Paladins are too good because they get features that should never have been included in the first place. In his mind it's OP and bad design. Friend B thinks they are great as is, but disagrees that they are OP compared to other classes, martial or otherwise.

There is more to it than that but that's the short summary of their positions. Everyone else in the group is either somewhere in the middle or doesn't care. As for the Herald, I think/hope the changes will satiate Friend A while keeping Friend B happy.


Sample character time! I should go back and make characters for the classes I skipped.

This one might be my favorite of all the LU characters I made. Vriozha Strand is a bronze dragonborn, although it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume he has a bit of copper in him--he's a sweet, fun-loving guy, despite having grown up an orphan in warcamps and refugee camps in a nation perpetually at war. As an adult, he views it as his job to make the other young kids in similar situations happier and healthier, with a stronger sense of community, and a desire to prove themselves to a world which would otherwise grind them down.

My only "cheat" this time was switching out the Disguise Kit from his Urchin background for Cooking Utensils (a perfectly legal cheat, anyway). Vriozha gets the kids to help him cook, stone soup-style, and while everything is bubbling away he entertains them with silly stories, magic tricks, and pulling coins out their ears. And thanks to his Medicine skill, the food he makes them is healthy, nourishing, and tasty.

I really hope I get a chance to play Vriozha at some point.

Vriozha Strand
male Dragonborn (Bronze)
Gift: Draconian Fins
Origin: Warhordling
Background: Urchin
Destiny: Underdog
Class: Herald 5 (Glory)
Str 16 (+3), Dex 12 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 14 (+2)
Hit Points: 44 (5d10+10)
Speed: 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

Skills: Athletics +6, Intimidation +5, Medicine +3, Performance +5, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +4

Tools: Thieves’ tools, cook’s utensils

Weapons and Armor: Simple weapons, martial weapons, all armor, shields

Saves: Cha +5, Wis +3

Darkvision 60 ft.

A Nose for Trouble. Whenever I or an ally I can see fails an Insight check, I can use my reaction and spend an inspiration to learn any information that would have been gained by a successful Insight check. (Destiny)

Adventures and Advancement. If I can help some urchins, they’ll help me. A roll of 14 or less on Investigation checks are treated as a 15. (Background)

Aggressive. As a bonus action, I can move up to my speed towards an enemy I can see or hear. I must end this move closer to the enemy than I started. (Origin)

Breath Weapon (1/Rest): Lightning bolt, 5 ft. × 30 ft., 2d6 lightning damage, DC 12 (Lineage).

Channel Divinity. Peerless Athlete. I can use a bonus action to get advantage on Athletics and Acrobatics checks, and can carry/push/drag/lift twice as much as normal, and the distance of of long and high jumps increases by 10 feet. Inspiring Smite: After I use Divine Smite, I can use Channel Divinity to distribute 2d8+5 temp hp to creatures within 30 ft., including me. (Archetype)

Combat Maneuvers. 6 EP. Doubleteam. Choose a creature within reach; next ally within 20 ft. that makes melee attack against that creature gains Exp. Die (1 EP). Imposing Glare. One hostile creature I can see within 30 ft. must make a Cha save or be frightened of me until end of next turn. Until end of combat, it has advantage on saves against this ability (1 EP). Striding Swings. Move up to 15 feet; until start of next turn, attacks made against me have Exp. Die but I inflict +1d4 extra damange (1 EP). (Class)

Defiance. If I score a critical hit against a creature larger than I am, roll a nat 20 on a death save, openly defy a powerful being, or succeed after taking a risk with long odds, I get a point of inspiration. (Destiny)

Divine Sense (2/long rest). Choose one of the following: celestial/fiends, elementals/fey, aberrations/undead (can change this after a long rest), or a location that has been consecrated or desecrated. I can always sense when a creature of that type is within 30 feet of me. I can use a bonus action to learn the location, number, and type of creature, unless that creature makes a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw (if it’s CR is higher than my Herald level, it has advantage). If it fails, I learn the creature’s identity. (Class)

Divine Smite (3/long rest). I can use my bonus action to inflict an additional 2d8 radiant damage. I can also choose one of the following options 1/long rest or by spending a spell slot of 1st level or higher. Igniting Smite. Must make a Con save at the start of each turn for 1 minute or take 1d6 fire damage; on success, effect ends. Marking Smite. Target sheds bright light for 5 ft. and dim light additional 5 ft., for 1 minute or until I target different creature. The target gains no benefit from invisibility and disad on checks made to hide. Repelling Smite. Smite deals force damage and target must make Str save or be knocked back 10 feet and fall prone or 5 ft. and is not prone on success. (Class)

Guttersnipe. I can entertain myself and my friends to a squalid lifestyle as long as I’m in a town or city. I also know how to get anywhere in town without being spotted by gangs, gossips, or guards. (Background)

Hard to Hit. When I’m not wearing armor, my AC is 12 + my Dex modifier (AC 13). (Gift)

Heraldic Sermon: Evangelism. I have advantage when using Performance when trying to convert others through preaching about my oath; witnesses are inspired to donate to the cause.

Knacks. Do Without. I can survive for up to 2 days without food without suffering any adverse effects. Undaunted. Exemplary. I gain an Exp. Die on Athletics and Acrobatics checks made to climb, jump, run, and swim. When the party makes a group Athletics or Acrobatics check, I can apply the results of my roll to myself and one other, after everyone has rolled, but before we know if we succeed or fail. (Class)

Lay of Hands. I can use an action to restore hp to a creature I touch. I have a total pool of 25 hp I can restore/long rest. I can spend 5 of those hp to remove one disease or poison. (Class)

Swimmer. I can hold my breath for 15 minutes. (Gift)

Warhorde Weapon Training. Proficient in two martial weapons and light armor. I can create a ramshackle version of a simple weapon in 10 minutes as long as I have access to material. The weapon breaks on an attack roll of 1 (nat). (Origin)

Wartime Scrounger. I can forage for food and water when traveling through urban environments, warzones, and battlefields, and I can use my Charisma modifier when determining how much food and water I find. (Origin)

Spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks.

Cantrips (At Will): guidance, message
1st level (4 slots): command, detect magic and disease, guiding bolt, herosim
2nd level (2 slots): aid, enhance ability, force of will, magic weapon
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