D&D 5E Paladin Code (3.X) vs Paladin Oaths (5e)

Fauchard1520

Explorer
My group is pretty late to the party, but we just finished a long-running Pathfinder game and are (finally) taking a look at 5e.

As I contemplate a paladin PC, I'm curious about how to read the paladin oaths. Are they literally the 3.X code of conduct with a different name, or are they less strict? My group has always run the code as a major part of playing a paladin, and the risk of falling has been very real in previous campagins. It's kept me off playing one for the longest time, so I'm wondering if it's still as fraught in this edition.

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I don't see a reason they can't be as strict as you'd like. I feel they're designed to really tell you more what you will or won't do to the point that alignment is secondary to it. So, like a Devotion paladin who doesn't aid the weak or who actively lies should (IMO) lose their powers since they are breaking the oath they swore. Each oath has different 'asks' so it shouldn't be hard to find a paladin type you want to play and also have consequences for
 


It's roughly Devotion (LG), Ancients (CG), Vengeance (N), Redemption (NG), Conquest (LE), Glory (N), Watcher (N). But obviously many of the Oaths are flexible enough in what alignments they're associated with, especially the ones I've labelled as being Neutral. But even the Oath of Conquest while stating many are LE certainly has those that are LN or other alignments.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
My group is pretty late to the party, but we just finished a long-running Pathfinder game and are (finally) taking a look at 5e.

As I contemplate a paladin PC, I'm curious about how to read the paladin oaths. Are they literally the 3.X code of conduct with a different name, or are they less strict? My group has always run the code as a major part of playing a paladin, and the risk of falling has been very real in previous campagins. It's kept me off playing one for the longest time, so I'm wondering if it's still as fraught in this edition.

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
The tenets of the various Paladin Oaths in 5e are written pretty vaguely, so it would be pretty difficult to enforce them as strictly as the codes of conduct in previous editions. I mean, what does it even look like to break a stricture like “be the light?”

Ultimately, it’s up to the DM to interpret the Oaths, and to determine what consequences, if any, a Paladin who violates them faces. In general though, the intent is for these Oaths to be more lenient than in the past, providing more of a set of ideals to aspire to rather than rules to obey.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Some here interpret fluff as having the full authority of rules, and for them I guess the tenets of each oath amount to rules that must be followed. (Or....what, exactly?)

Others of us think fluff is fluff. Roleplay as much or as little as you (and your table) like.
 


Stormonu

Legend
Make of them as you will. I'm currently running a Lawful Evil Dragonborn Paladin of Tiamat. He's with the current group to protect them from harm, but he has no qualms about quashing ANYONE who gets in his way or harms his teammates. (He's a bit snippy at times too when the group dithers about, and his mount is an Allosaurus...)
 

Al2O3

Explorer
My group has always run the code as a major part of playing a paladin, and the risk of falling has been very real in previous campagins. It's kept me off playing one for the longest time, so I'm wondering if it's still as fraught in this edition.

I have only played 4e (where I can't remember any limits on Paladins) and 5e, so I have no first-hand knowledge of the strict codes from earlier editions. However, I am utterly convinced that the Oaths are made the way they are specifically to allow players to play a Paladin without constantly worrying about falling. Unfortunately I don't have any quotes handy from the DMG, PHB, Sage Advice, Twitter or blog posts written during the D&D Next playtest phase.

In any case, there should probably be some Oath that you can comfortably follow unless your DM specifically tries to make it hard for you. But discuss it with the DM to make sure that you both know what level of "risk of falling" each of you is interested in. A roleplaying tool similar to ideals, bonds and flaws is probably a good level.

Edit: I found a useful sidebar on page 86 of the PHB. It explicitly says that Paladins are fallible and sometimes break their oath. The typical consequence seems inspired by Catholic confessions, with a vigil or fasting as the closest thing to a "punishment". Actually falling requires willfully violating the oath without showing any sign of repentance.
 
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nevin

Hero
In my mind the Oath should be strict but comply with the ethos of thier god. You are playing a character in a world where thier is no doubt the god is alive and that he has given you the word. I always judge the paladin by the god or goddess they worship. a god who espoused mercy or forgiveness will probably be more forgiving than a god who is all about harshly hunting down and destroying evil. Minor failings might be dealt with by local church leaders and ignored by the diety. Antipaladins are fun, most evil dieties are unforgiving and might even punish them for simply failing even though they did everything by their code. And leaving them is almost never a survivable option.
 

Weiley31

Legend
The Oaths are your Paladin subclass options in 5E. Unlike 3E/3.5/Temple of Elemental the PC game, you don't have to actually worry about losing your Paladin abilities if you took a drink at a bar. The Oaths are more RP related in their tenets. And you would have to go to a far extreme, by 5E standards, to "lose" your Paladin abilities. Which is only enforced if your DM is big on stuff like that. When that happens, you don't "lose" your abilities per se as they change from what your current oath is to the abilities of an Oathbreaker, which is Super Evil Paladin: Darkside Edition.

They are certainly far less strict than the 3E/3.5 Paladin Code.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
In 3.5 they were a strict thing that meshed with absolute morality to create moral hazards & sociopaths. in 5e the oath is about as binding as "Catholics must eat fish on fridays"
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Coercitive Dming is not related to edition.
I mean, except inasmuch as the 1st Ed DMG has explicit advice from Gary directing you to be a coercive and authoritarian DM in several ways.

Mixed in with a lot of really good advice, too, of course. It's an amazing hodge-podge.
 
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Voadam

Legend
Page 86 of the PHB has the relevant PH default rules for this:

Breaking Your Oath
A paladin tries to hold to the highest standards of conduct, but even the most virtuous paladin is fallible. Sometimes the right path proves too demanding, sometimes a situation calls for the lesser of two evils, and sometimes the heat of emotion causes a paladin to transgress his or her oath.
A paladin who has broken a vow typically seeks absolution from a cleric who shares his or her faith or from another paladin of the same order. The paladin might spend an all-night vigil in prayer as a sign of penitence, or undertake a fast or similar act of self-denial. After a rite of confession and forgiveness, the paladin starts fresh.
If a paladin willfully violates his or her oath and shows no sign of repentance, the consequences can be more serious. At the DM's discretion, an impenitent paladin might be forced to abandon this class and adopt another, or perhaps to take the Oathbreaker paladin option that appears in the Dungeon Master's Guide.
 

My group is pretty late to the party, but we just finished a long-running Pathfinder game and are (finally) taking a look at 5e.

As I contemplate a paladin PC, I'm curious about how to read the paladin oaths. Are they literally the 3.X code of conduct with a different name, or are they less strict? My group has always run the code as a major part of playing a paladin, and the risk of falling has been very real in previous campagins. It's kept me off playing one for the longest time, so I'm wondering if it's still as fraught in this edition.

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)

Speak to your DM.

The Oaths' seem to be a more subjective personal vow, rather than an objective one.

For example, my (LE) Vengeance Paladin (of Bane) views the 'greater evil' he is sworn to destroy as the (LG) Church of Torm and its followers, plus the (LG) Deity Torm himself.

He sees the Church and its God as pretenders, deceivers and responsible for the death of his family (he's Martyrs progeny from the incident at Tantras).

He will stop at nothing to make them pay for their crimes; torture, enslavement, pogroms and even Deicide.

'By any means' and 'no mercy for my sworn foes' and all that.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I don't think the intent of the Oaths is be looser than the old Code of Conduct, but it seems that way because the Oaths are more specific and thus violating them is less arbitrary. As vague and subjective as people are complaining about in this thread, they are considerably more concrete, specific, and consistent than "must not commit any Evil or Chaotic act".

The only difference between the 5e Paladin Oaths and the Paladin reforms I've wanted for years is that the 5e Paladin allows for Evil Paladins to swear Oaths of Evil to Evil Beings for Evil Powers. (You know, like Paizo's also been doing for years, but a CG Paladin would "dilute the class".)
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
As I am sitting here pondering the oaths for 5e paladins I was struck by the thought that it might have been cool to assign actual rules restrictions to the oaths rather than leaving then open for interpretation.

It would be something very unique the paladin class would have, and allow for different tweaks of abilities and balance as annoath grants certain abilities, and might take away others.

The (perhaps impossible) task would be to actually come up with some restrictions that were both flavorful as well as the correct amount of restrictive.

As a quick example without thinking of ramifications, perhaps a paladin of freedom would have an oath against using mind controlling magics in their combats, which would work mechanically by a huge aura suppressing them from working on their enemies.
 

You say you just came from PF. I ran a PF campaign with four Paladin PCs, each of which with a different take on lawful good due to the way PF's deities each had unique paladin codes. I really loved that campaign, though if you wanted something equally rich in 5e you'd have to make up a whole suite of deities.
 

corwyn77

Explorer
As a casual D&D player, I'd like to ask: what consequences do Clerics face for violating the tenets of their god? Under what circumstances would they lose their powers/spells?
 

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