D&D 5E Paladin Oaths don't do enough.

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
With the expectation that there will be an Avenger option for Paladins, and the continued speculation that there should be a Blackguard oath, as well, I am surprised to discover how little the Paths convey to the character:

a. an expanded spell list
b. two channel divinity options
c. a class power at level 8
d. class powers at levels 18 and 20.

In terms of interest for individuation, a. and d. can be eliminated:
a. the spell list will only be used selectively anyways (if at all)
d. most of the time players won't see level 18 and 20 abilities.

That leaves channel divinity and a single class power. My sense is that's not enough.

We can also note that for the Oath of Devotion, these are overwhelmingly directed at turning undead and fighting fiends, and so will go unused in many adventures. That leaves Sacred weapon.

Conclusion: while the Paladin is overall pretty appealing to play, very little of that appeal (for me at least) comes from the Oath.

Now let's flip it over: what class abilities of the Paladin might naturally fit better as an oath power than a general class power?

e. Aura of Protection (level 6, nearby allies get a saving throw bonus based on the paladin's charisma)
f. Aura of Courage (level 10, nearby allies can't be frightened).

For me, level 6 and 10 class powers are not abilities that fit the idea of an Avenger or a Blackguard, and should be limited to the "paragons of justice" who take the Oath of Devotion. Aura of Protection is one of the reasons I like to play a Paladin, but it seems to me to be a feature better suited to a specific Oath, rather than all holy warriors.

Suggestion:
It seems to me that both of these issues are solved by moving the level 6 and 10 class powers to the oath. The choice of Oath therefore represents a significant means of individuating one paladin from another, with distinctive abilities at levels 6, 8, and 10 (as well as 18 and 20).

It means the avenger won't have an ally-protecting aura, and the blackguard won't be reassuring allies in the face of danger, and that makes sense. But it also helps keep the idea of the oath robust.

Note that the current playtest Paladins would be completely unaffected by this change: it is simply a matter of opening up some design space for future possibilities. It also means that the Oath of Devotion isn't quite so single-minded in its benefits, and no longer focuses on undead and fiends to the exclusion of, well, demonstrating devotion.

Thoughts?
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Quite possible, although the guys in the podcast did make it a point to say they moved some subclass-only abilities into the classes themselves because they were looked upon so favorably. So the question then comes whether the Aura of Protection and Aura of Courage fall into that category. You make a very good argument to say that they are more subclass specific for the Oath Devotion than any other Oath, so it probably will come down to whether another set of Auras could get designed for the Oath of Vengeance so that while all paladins will get Auras at level 6 and 10, what type of Aura is dependent on the Oath.
 


gyor

Legend
I agree with you, but Protective Aura is cool enough to keep universal.

But Aura of Resolve, Aura of Courage, and Divine Health should all be Oath abilities, right now ones Oaths spells do more to create a Paladins feel then his Oath features, because they are so few and so back ended. I mean 50 percent of fhe Oath features are all in the last 3 levels.

Even the Mount will be a Oath Spell (which is a good idea).

So taking say those three features, or even one or two of them, would allow subclasses to have the right feel.

Of course we won't have a proper understanding until we see the Oath of Vengence subclass.
 

KidSnide

Adventurer
I think you're understating the importance of the spells. Approximately half the paladin can prepare come from the oath. For example, a 10th level paladin receives 6 spells from his oath and can then select 6 others from the paladin list. A 10th level paladin's nine spell slots are a non-insignificant part of the Paladin's ability and the menu of prepared choices are heavily influenced by the oath.

I don't really have an opinion about whether the paladin subclasses are pulling their weight. (It's hard to say looking at only one.) But I don't think it's quite as stark as the OP suggests.

-KS
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Thanks for the thoughts.

It's true I don't ascribe much to the spell list. In the one case we have, the four of the six spells received from the oath are on the Paladin list already: that means that any paladin (even one using a future oath) may cast that spell.

Rather than 6-and-6, I'd see it as 10-and-2: the only distinctive spells for the hypothetical 10th-level paladin are Sanctuary and Beacon of Hope. Those two spells are available from among the twelve prepared. I recognize that these two cleric spells may count as a means of individuation (they were listed first, "a.",in my original post). They just don't seem terribly significant to me.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I am not sure if the suggested changes would be a real improvement, but I do feel that subclasses need to be "large enough", otherwise there will be problems later in capturing/defining some of the archetypes that subclasses are supposed to deliver.

For instance, 4 levels worth of subclass features IMO are a bit too few, I'd like at least 5 or 6.

The general framework is that you get a certain amount of features from your class, another amount from your subclass, and a third amount from feats (which are generally non-class specific).

I don't remember the numbers now, but I think we have some subclasses with as few as 4 features (or at least, 4 levels at which they get subclass features), and others have 6-7. The Cleric is odd because domain spells are granted often, but then the other subclass features are concentrated at very low (1-2) levels and very high levels, but still the choice of subclass is major.

At the same time, some classes have as few as 4 feats, and the Fighter has 7. I don't actually mind this difference, I think it would be ok to first decide how much should be defined by class, then how much should be defined by subclass, and finally the number of feats will come as a consequence.

But right now I think I want at least that classes like the Paladin would indeed get more from subclasses, which can be achieved by picking a couple of class features and turning them into subclass features.

My whole point is that if the set of features gains from the subclass is too small, it might be hard to properly design more subclasses that cover their concept properly. (Of course the opposite problem exists, that if a class' subclasses are too big, then every new subclass requires more design work to fill it up with features).

---

BTW, I would also like all subclasses to start at 3rd level, but that's another matter. For Wizards and Rangers it should be a piece of cake to do so. For Clerics it is trickier due to domain spells, since getting both 1st and 2nd level domain spells at Cleric lv3 might be too much of a sudden boost.
 

gyor

Legend
Thanks for the thoughts.

It's true I don't ascribe much to the spell list. In the one case we have, the four of the six spells received from the oath are on the Paladin list already: that means that any paladin (even one using a future oath) may cast that spell.

Rather than 6-and-6, I'd see it as 10-and-2: the only distinctive spells for the hypothetical 10th-level paladin are Sanctuary and Beacon of Hope. Those two spells are available from among the twelve prepared. I recognize that these two cleric spells may count as a means of individuation (they were listed first, "a.",in my original post). They just don't seem terribly significant to me.

This is not the final list of spells the Devotion Oath.
 

Starfox

Hero
But Aura of Resolve, Aura of Courage, and Divine Health should all be Oath abilities.

While this all makes sense, it involves quite a lot of design work and balancing to make different variants of these abilities for each oath. I think they'd be very pressed for time to do it. Which is also one of the dangers... I really hope they do take the time to do this kind of edits, but I am not too hopeful.
 

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