I’ve written quite a bit on Paladins before:
This time, though, and with the different rolls I am using for the exercise in comparative offensive ability, I decided to go a slightly different way. The key attributes for a paladin are STR and CHA . . . which points to Humans, Variant Humans, and Half-elves as possibilities. Plus . . . dragonborn.
Let’s do that.
Since I’m going to hew to my rule of “buff the spellcasting/power ability first,” and the CHA only gets a +1, I’ll start with the 16 in CHA, 15 STR, 14 CON (yay, HP). DEX and WIS get the 13s, leaving INT for the not-horrible 11.
This begs for the 4th level improvement to be an ability boost to STR and CHA, giving a powerful 18 in both, and making the final stat array:
STR 18 (+4); DEX 13 (+1); CON 14 (+2); INT 11 (+0); WIS 13 (+1); CHA 18 (+4)
Saving throw proficiencies are WIS and CHA . . . but the huge boost comes from Aura of Protection, which includes the paladin himself, and gives +4 to ALL saving throws. This makes his ability to make saves ridiculously good:
STR +8; DEX +5; CON +6; INT +4; WIS +8; CHA +11
Class and Oath Choices
The always-memorized spells are a bit more interesting for Ancients as well. Ensnaring Strike is kinds cool, and moonbeam can be devastating if you can keep it focused on a target. Those are the offensive spells, but misty step is a sweet mobility spell, and Speak with Animals gives a powerful recon ability.
Though it’s not pertinent to this exercise because the example is for 6th level . . . the 7th Level Aura of Warding gives resistance (halves damage) from spells within 10′ of you. Of the three auras that show up at 7th level, this one’s the coolest.
This seems like it’d be the go-to choice for an offensive character, and there’s some truth to that. This is the only other character class subtype with Hunter’s Mark, which adds 1d6 to any weapon attack for a minute. Bane subtracts 1d4 from saves and attacks by an enemy. Give a paladin of vengeance two rounds to get prepared, and you’re fighting at a handicap.
Hold person has been a mixed blessing, so to speak in the games I’ve played personally. The victims always seem to make their saving throws. Still – handy if you can pull it off, and Vengeance paladins are rather likely to simply run a captured foe through.
The spell list that supplements this could easily be the same as noted for Oath of Devotion.
The Channel Divinity powers are . . . ok. Abjure Enemy is only used on one target, rather than many, but fiends and undead suffer disadvantage on the saving throw. Fail the save, and the foe is frightened, fixed in place. Make it, and movement is still halved.
Vow of Enmity gives you advantage on attack rolls for a single target within 10′. That’s not quite as good as a flat +4 (due to 18 CHA), but it makes a nice boost. Between the Vow, Bane, and Hunter’s Mark, the paladin is +4 to hit, the foe is -1 to -4 to hit and save, and +1d6 damage per attack, which is by far the best 1st level melee boost out there.
It’s a potent mix, and the fact that the boost to saving throws is good for all paladins makes the Vengeance paladin the most potent damage dealer of the list, but what you “give up” by going with Devotion or Ancients isn’t too much of a loss. The core paladin abilities are common to all. Healers will go with Devotion, wilderness or outdoorsy defenders will be very effective – especially at 7th level – at staying in the fight. Vengeance-based paladins are basically Judge Dredd, with powers. Lawbringers and avengers.
AC 20 with plate and shield
Attack: Longsword at 1d20+7; Damage at 1d8+6 due to dueling
This can get boosted by quite a bit. Vow of Enmity gives you advantage on attacks, which is worth +3 or +4 to hit. Hunter’s Mark will boost by 1d6 per strike. That means with the right prep, it’s more like 1d20+10 to hit, and 1d8+1d6+6 for each attack. 8-20 HP per strike, twice.
The Full Monte
regain ability after a short or long rest 15ft cone. DC 13 Dexterity save for
3d6 fire on failed save, half on success
and geography, always recalling the general layout of terrain, settlements, and
other features around you. In addition, you can find food and fresh water for
yourself and up to five others each day, provided that the land offers berries,
small game, water, and so forth.
Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion
fiend, or undead within 60ft (not in total cover) until the end of your next
turn and detect the presence of any place or object that has been consecrated
or desecrated, as with the hallow spell. You can use this feature 5 times and
recover expended uses after a long rest
its hit points from your healing pool (30 hit points) Expend 5 hit points from
your pool of healing to cure a disease or neutralize a poison affecting it.
This has no effect on undead and constructs
your paladin spells
attack, expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition
to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-level spell slot,
plus 1d8 for each spell level higher (max. 5d8). This increases by 1d8 if the
target is undead or a fiend
when wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapon
Abjure Enemy (Sacred Oath Feature) As an action, choose 1 creature within 60ft
that you can see, it must make a Wisdom save unless immune to being frightened.
Fiends and undead have disadvantage on this saving throw. It is frightened for 1
min or until it takes any damage on a fail. While frightened, its speed is 0,
and can’t benefit from any bonus to its speed. On a success its speed is halved
for 1 min or until it takes any damage – Vow of Enmity (Sacred Oath Feature) As
a bonus action, utter a vow of enmity against a creature you can see within
10ft and gain advantage on attack rolls against it for 1 minute or until it
drops to 0 hit points or falls unconscious
the Wicked. By Any Means Necessary. Restitution.
+4 bonus to saving throws while you are conscious
score of your choice by 2, or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1
The paladin that wants to focus on offense can follow many paths. The one exemplified here is a Gold Dragonborn, resistant to fire with a 3d10 breath weapon usable once per short rest. He’s got some of the most potent offensive boosters available to the paladin class, and still carries the buffing and healing ability that all paladins share. Spending spell slots for extra beat down through Divine Smite will mostly be the go-to for damage enhancement, but Hunter’s Mark will bring 20 damage-boosted attacks at +1d6 each – an average of 70 extra points. 4 2d8 and 2 3d8 boosts from Divine Smite is 14d8, or 63 points on the average. But Hunter’s Mark only uses one spell slot . . . so they’re additive.
If you’re looking to play a paladin that specializes in bringing the pain in person, this is an effective build. And the buffs you can give to friends and neighbors simply by being yourself. When you hit 11th level every single blow gets an extra 1d8 – and I’m fairly sure that since it’s dice of damage, it too is doubled on a critical hit.
Against the right foes and enemies, it’s a powerful build. I like playing Marcus, of course – and he too will grow in power and effectiveness over time. But he’s not the most lethal of the paladins, and a build much like this one will be very powerful
Alternate: Variant Human with Great Weapon Master
A quick study. You wind up dropping a point of STR because you lose the +2 to STR that Dragonborn gets you, but Great Weapon Master is a very, very interesting Feat. I did not notice that GWM applies to any melee weapon, not just heavy ones for the extra attack on a critical hit. The -5 to hit for +10 damage is a interesting trade, but will require some math to see if it’s quite the benefit it seems like. Plus the ability to reroll 1s and 2s . . . which changes the average damage on a greatsword from 2d6 for 7 to 8.3. It’s “only” +1.3 damage per hit extra for this weapon. On a 1d12 weapon like a great axe, it goes from 6.5 to 7.3 points. So the boost basically makes up for the loss of STR 18 to STR 16 (or 17, but I used the point to pic up DEX 14 instead, for the +2 to saves and initiative).