The Ultimate Paladin 5e Class Guide to Dungeons and Dragons
What is the best build for a paladin in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition? What’s a Complete Beginner’s guide for Paladins in 5e? These and other questions are answered here in our Ultimate guide for 5e paladins.
Image from: Heonhwa Choe IG:kilart74
Races for Paladins:
Human variant - This race is perfect for the tasty tasty feat
Tiefling - If you’re a team player, charisma is a primary stat you should focus on for your paladin. Tieflings are great here.
Dwarves - Great for vengeance but sacrifices Charisma, which ends up being the most important stat in the party
Dragonborn - Charisma and Strength are great, resistance to a damage type is also good.
Half elves - Bonus to Charisma.
Wood Elves - Dex Paladins; probably great for polearm master vengeance paladins stacks well with their 7th level ability. No plus to Charisma though.
Half Orc- good for stacking barbarian/paladin, but not pluses to the most important stat, Charisma
Special Mention - Yuanti Pure Blood - (from Volo’s Guide to Monsters) if you really, really want to not take damage from magical effects stack this with oath of the ancients (although you’ll not be doing as much damage) To spell this out, at level 6 you’d have advantage, + charisma bonus and resistance to spells.
Choosing your Fighting Style
What will you be? Fast striker? Sword and board? Controller? Optimize for that.
Choosing your Paladin Oaths
The main archetypes for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition are:
Vengeance - best for damage output; once per short rest you’re getting twice the chance to crit which stacks well with smite.
Ancients - Fighting spell casters, defensive tank, charisma over strength
Devotion - The archetypal paladin; if you speak to a veteran player about a paladin, this is probably what they’re thinking about.
- If you’re going to be the party face, artisan and noble are good with artisan being slightly better due to insight
Multi classing with Paladins:
Warlocks - Since they get their slots back on short rests, and their primary stat is Charisma, a dip into warlock is a popular multiclass for paladins. Also, Eldritch Blast can solve range issues you may otherwise have with your paladin.
Figher - (fighting style, bonus action heal, action surge, improved crit or battle master tactics) or increased chance for critical with champion are useful
Sorcerer (Sorcadin) (insane nova damage) - Hold Person = auto critical hit. May be great for dex paladin
Bard - Bardadin - Do you want to improve the team? Dips into bard are great great for adding utility, but tends to not do as much damage as others (so probably best for not vengeance paladins). Also helps if the party needs a face character. Be wary of taking sentinel if you choose lore bard given action economy with reactions for cutting words/sentinel .
Barbarian- You can smite while raging; reckless attack gives you advantage and resistance if you’re not wearing *heavy* armor so you get twice the chance to smite. You’ll lose some ac, and won’t be able to maintain concentration, but stacked with Great Weapon Master and the great weapon fighting style, you’ll be a force of nature. If you stack barbarian with half orc, you could do 3d12 + 4d8 on a single critical hit….at level 2. Remember hold person = auto critical hit, so if you have a caster in the party this becomes a nice combo in the party.
Rogue - Useful if stacked with a Dex paladin and especially if assassin is used.
Druid - you can smite while wild shaped since most wild shaped forms are “melee weapon attack” (See above about smiting while raging. ()
You could do 3d12+4d8 on a single crit at level 2.
Best Feats for Paladins -
What are the best feats for paladins? This question comes up a lot.
Polearm Master (great for vengeance paladins) given you’ll get a chance able to stop big bad from escaping or approaching
Sentinel - Pairs well with Polearm master and the Oath of Vengeance relentless avenger ability
War Caster - if you’re going to be running a lot of concentration spells, super key. Vengeance paladins may want to have this.
Resilient - For constitution, great for that con plus AND saving through which can be HUGE. After level 6 you’ll be adding your charisma bonus AND your constitution which can save you from some really nasty spells AND help you maintain concentration while tanking.
Great Weapon Master - Don’t forget to use your +5 devotion via channel divinity (+ your Charisma mod) or bless to help offset the -5 from this.
Shield Master - This is an interesting feat for it’s shove ability and reaction to area of effect spells. It used to be extremely this *used* to be really good, but a recent ruling nerfed this if you were looking to do the smites yourself. However, on Oath of Conquest paladin, this is really nice as a movement speed of zero means that they can’t get up.
Inspiring leader- Really nice since you’re leading with charisma nice buff for the party; remember you can use this multiple times if there’s a large group. If you’re about to “hold the line” with a lot of lower levels, some time spent on a motivational speech could really turn the tide of battle.
Paladin Protection Strategies
A paladin’s aura is one of the most useful protection features. It can have the bad effect though of causes people to bunch up in combat. It’s important to remember that Death Saving throws ARE saving throws, so standing near a party member that’s making them while your aura is up may just save them.
Oath of the Ancients really shines here as giving everyone a plus to saving throws AND resistance to spells is extremely useful.
All paladins get a pool of healing; unfortunately it takes your action so it’s not extremely useful in combat. Remember this pool is limited, so 1 hp might be all you need to do to get your party member up and able to self tend. Why should you save these? Because you can also use 5 hit points worth to remove a disease or a spell at higher levels.
At 14th+ level a paladin's ability to remove a spell on themselves or a willing creature is extremely useful for getting that key party member back in the fight.
Oath of Vengeance is by far the biggest damage output for straight paladins. Add in a combination of Bless or Devotion +5 to hit for GWM (Bless) and you’re talking about a LOT of damage.
Divine Sense - useful for finding the bad guys that may be hidden
Find Steed and Find Greater Steed - Do you know what a group of rhinoceros are called? They’re called a CRASH. With this spell you can summon one. Also, flight is huge. FLYING HORSIES (I mean griffins), or a freaking rhinoceros
Curse Disease - Pretty underrated, but useful in a pinch.
**Xanathar's Class Updates**
Oath of Conquest (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
While you don’t technically need to be evil for this oath, it helps. You’re one step away from a hellknight (or all the way possibly) and you emit an aura of terror that can freeze enemies in place like a deer caught in the headlights. Grab this when you make an evil paladin or want to abuse the frightening aura.
Oath of Redemption (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
This is the pacifist oath. Not that you can’t deal a beating, but all the abilities are geared towards solving things diplomatically and preventing violence. I particularly love “rebuke the violent” that slaps somebody back for the damage they dealt. Grab this if you want to play your paladin like a diplomat.
Paladins are one of the best classes in Dungeons and Dragons 5e; they don’t have to be the old lawful stupid, and have a lot of roleplaying options available to them which can make them a lot of fun to play. With their continuous buff to the other party members from their aura’s, smites, healing abilities they are strong in a lot of areas and make a great addition to any adventuring party.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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