Now we passed the midpoint and got to the paladin. To be honest, I love the archetypical paladin, since 3.0e. Kicking evil butts, saving the day with a heart that’s true, it’s like playing a superhero with armor instead of tights. I was totally with tenets and such and sadly said: I’ve seen too many paladin players, which didn’t even care what it means to be a paladin.
In 4e it became less restrictive, in 5e we’re back to tenets and I’m all for it. Now we’re going to get an overview of this class, even though I was about to make an in-depth at this point, but this have to wait for now. First overview, in-depths some time later.
This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.
Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the paladin’s case DV for Devotion, AC for Ancient, VG for Vengeance and OB from the DMG’s Oathbreaker). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.
- If you’re a caster, a paladin will provide half its level to your spell-slots per day
- Taking the 1st level brings about nothing what a typical multiclasser is looking for. 2nd level is the least you should take, there you get the first features which makes it worth, 3rd and 4th level are great choices, too.
- 5th level gives Extra Attack, 6th a great buff to saves for you and even your allies, while 7th is especially valuable for AC-paladins and then you can get 8th level, too.
- Up to 12th level, the only especially interesting feature (since grabbing any Ability Score Improvement is good, but not especially interesting) is the Improved Divine Smite at 11th, which will increase your damage
- 14th brings Cleansing Touch, which is a strong feature, but not a must
- the capstone is determined by your subclass, so far they’re good (DV), great (VG) and unholy shit of an angel! (AC)
- Weapon Proficiency: Always have the better tools due martial weapons.
- Fighting Style (Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting): More damage is more damage after all.
- Spellcasting: You got a lot of damage enhancing spells in that list, even though it lacks in the direct damage department.
- Divine Smite: And we’ve more damage again! And you can use any spell-slots, the ‘paladin spell-slots’ there is a typo (since you don’t have different spell-slots just because you have different classes).
- Extra Attack: More attacks, more hits and more damage!
- Improved Divine Smite: The fighter gets another attack, your damage increases per attack instead. Less effective, but more damage nonetheless.
- Channel Divinity (Sacred Weapon; DV): Accuracy bonus (these are rare), weapon becomes magical, no concentration and it makes light so you can see the foe in darkness!
- Holy Nimbus (DV): A surefire way to damage every enemy without radiant immunity near you.
- Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): If it lasts, that makes an easy target!
- Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): An one-time advantage!
- Channel Divinity (Vow of Enmity; VG): You know, having advantage all the time sounds better.
- Soul of Vengeance (VG): Attack with your reaction when the target of your Vow of Enmity makes an attack… not too complicated, just means: Attack, attack, wait, attack!
- Avenging Angel (VG): Advantage to the ones who fails the save for one time and wings with improved speed which will bring some more lines of attack.
- Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): Turning enemy undead into allies is a way to increase your party’s damage.
- Aura of Hate (OB): Only for you, undead and fiends, but there are commanded undead, there are fiend familiars and it’s still a nice self-buff.
- Aura of Dread (OB): Quite some damage potential here.
- Aura of Dread (OB): As long as you have darkvision, since you’re not immune to the dim-light effect.
- Divine Sense: Uses an own ‘uses per day’.
- Lay on Hands: Healing without spell.
- Spellcasting: Buffs make it easier to end battles and lessens the burden of other resources.
- Divine Smite: You can trigger it on a hit and since it’s extra damage… consider to trigger it, after rolling a critical hit to double the damage for that instant!
- Channel Divinity (general): Regain it after a short rest.
- Aura features: Auras cost nothing and gives some nice benefits for you and the allies around you.
- Cleansing Touch: Uses its own per-day-pool.
- Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): When using against a weak and clumsy foe, it’ll keep it quite a while busy.
- Elder Champion (AC): Lessens the amount of time needed to use a spell and disadvantage makes each spell work more reliable.
- Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): Effect on succeeding save and if the enemy fails, you can effectively ignore it for a while, so you won’t waste any resources there.
- Relentless Avenger (VG): Keep close right away instead of spending movement next turn.
- Avenging Angel (VG): A once a day resource, which lasts an hour!
- Spellcasting: There are some concentrating spells here, as someone who wants to take the front, it’s risky. And if you aren’t hitting with these smite-spells, they might get lost.
- Divine Smite: Uses up spell-slots and the damage caps at 4th level spell-slots.
- Channel Divinity (general): One pool for different uses.
- Lay on Hands: Heal your buddies from damage, disease and poison.
- Fighting Style (Protect): Protect those, who doesn’t want to stay away from action. Like they should, probably.
- Spellcasting: Buffs, heal and protection spells. Even some debuffs for your enemy.
- Aura features: Keep your friends close and all Auras will affect them, too.
- Cleansing Touch: Spells can take out your companions for a while. And you can take out these spells, as long they’re not instantaneous.
- Channel Divinity (Turn the Unholy [DV], Turn the Faithless [AC]): Creates a space around the paladin where the enemies of specific types who failed the save won’t enter anymore.
- Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): Restrain an enemy and it make it so much harder for it to hurt someone.
- Elder Champion (AC): Makes your debuffs more reliable! And that saves your allies and yourself!
- Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): An enemy fewer can make a lot of difference.
- Avenging Angel (VG): Fear me and let my friends hit you better, while you’ll suck at hitting yourself!
- Hit points: A d10 is above the average d8.
- Armor Proficiency: Take all the armor and shields you want
- Lay on Hands: You carry your own healing power here.
- Fighting Style (Defense): One of the few valuable ways to enhance your AC most of the time.
- Spellcasting: More healing on the way and spells, which makes your enemies weaker.
- Divine Health: First you could heal it with Lay on Hands, now you don’t even need to bother.
- Aura of Protection: Since failing saving throws can bitterly make you suffer, it’s better to increase your chances in succeeding them.
- Aura of Courage: This one always remind me of this OotS-Strip.
- Cleansing Touch: As long as the spell lets you act and is not instantaneous, you can get rid of it.
- Channel Divinity (Turn the Unholy [DV], Turn the Faithless [AC]): Keep those fiends and undead/fey away!
- Aura of Devotion (DV): Nobody can seduce the paladin by unnatural means!
- Purity of Spirits (DV): Imagine a demon lord, who came from the inner abyss only to destroy the world and all what he gets is a paladin, against he has permanently disadvantage on attack rolls, while the paladin gets advantage on sving throws vs. specific conditions, even though he’d be immune to most at this point. And the worst: It’s the effect of the spell, not a spell itself, so no anti-magic here.
- Holy Nimbus (DV): Advantage on saving throws against anything a fiend, fey or undead will hurl at you. Nice.
- Channel Divinity (Nature’s Wrath; AC): Restrained enemies have a harder time hurting you.
- Aura of Warding (AC): Resistance to spell damage? This is sick and wrong on a character, who also got good AC and saves!
- Undying Sentinel (AC): Keep standing once a day and be protected from (magical) aging, even though it doesn’t extend your lifespan.
- Elder Champion (AC): For a minute you get a kind of regeneration. And since many smite-spells have save-dependent debuffs included, you can make the enemy work harder to even hit you.
- Channel Divinity (Abjure Enemy; VG): Less damage incoming from foes, which are frightened and stopped moving!
- Relentless Avenger (VG): No attacks of opportunity here!
- Avenging Angel (VG): Make them all frightened of you and if that doesn’t help, you can fly away!
- Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): An controlled enemy is an enemy less and a situational meat/bone/ghost-shield.
- Channel Divinity: Dreadful Aspect (OB): If they’re afraid of you, they won’t attack you that easily.
- Supernatural Resistance (OB): Since there are even a lot of nonmagical attacks in the high level tiers, this will be a life-saver… for yourself.
- Aura of Hate (OB): Nothing there says ‘friendly’ undead and fiends.
- Aura of Dread (OB): Dim light and the shadows makes it harder to hit you and the ones, who fight by your side.
- Divine Sense: Whenever you’re suspecting someone, this will be a great way to see if there is more to this.
- Spellcasting: A handful spells which will be useful at some point.
- Oath Spells: There are some wonderful non-paladin ones in there, which add up beautifully to your own spell-list.
- Channel Divinity (Sacred Weapon; DV): Erm… light?
- Holy Nimbus (DV): You’re shining!!! … great, right?
- Avenging Angel (VG): Fly speed.
- Channel Divinity: Control Undead (OB): You realize, that you have control for 24 hours, right? Might be very situational, but when it comes handy (like in a Vampire’s Castle), it will be very handy.
- Channel Divinity: Dreadful Aspect (OB): A good DM will allow to use this condition to make intimidation even more intimidating.
- Tenets: These will give you some restrictions in terms of options, even if you can lay them out widely most of the time.
Offense: Great (DV, AC) to Fantastic (VG, OB)
Resource Management: Good
Survivability: Great (DV, VG, OB) to Fantastic (AC)
Or more of a great-plus. While the utility was saved by the spellcasting, the paladin can do about everything, even if he doesn’t put his focus there. Devotion is kinda lacking in general terms, but when facing undead and fiends regularly (which isn’t that uncommon in D&D campaigns) and counting in the rare and hellish strong accuracy buff there, you realize, that the class lacks nothing else but greater utility. And in everything else it can theoretically either keep up with most classes to a certain point.
The really dangerous point is the resource management. Since the paladin have a lot of different pools to use his features from, he can mitigate it to a certain point, but when he’s not careful, he will lose a lot of his punch. Especially after spending all spell-slots.
But this survivability is sick, spells to heal himself, lay on hands, immunity to a lot of effects, improved saving throws, possibly resistance to spell damage, after a few levels a paladin is someone who might survive about everything at his level-range, if he wouldn’t want to take the front row and use this multilayer defense to protect the allies. Good that he needs melee weapons for the best offense uses, this will force him one way or another to draw focus on him.
Even multiclassing to into and out of the paladin brings some of these powerful features right to your character.
What can I say? Great class overall.