Paladin class definitive guide for DnD 5E

Kasim’s hand twitched and her eyes fluttered open, her breath labored as she eyed the dent in her breastplate where the devil had hit her. The ribs were definitely broken, never a pleasant feeling, but fixable. Gritting her teeth, she laid a hand on her chest and let the holy energy within flow into the wound, that familiar warmth quickly dulled the pain as the popping of reforming bone echoed in her chest. Gripping the worn sword tightly in her hand, she rose to her feet and charged at the demon that had blindsided her, chanting the names of its victims under her breath. Stooping over a helpless villager, it was unaware of Kasim’s charge, a moment of confusion crossing its fiendish features as a sword bursting with radiant light exploded through its chest. It would take time to heal the survivors and rebuild the village, but the fallen had been avenged.

You’ve trained for this, read the sacred texts, and forged your oath with a power greater than yourself. An oath that binds you to service, that drives you to be the change you want to see, to protect the innocent, and punish the guilty. Now with shining plate upon your chest and the reassuring weight of justice at your hip, you stride forth down the road ahead, ready for the trials, tribulations, and dangers ahead. You’re ready to play a Paladin, let us show you how.

In this guide, we’ll train you on your options as a Paladin, as well as supportive choices you can make to build your character to achieve what you want. Whilst reading through this guide, you may find this article on jargon and this list of books (and their common abbreviations) helpful.

This guide will evaluate each option for the Paladin on a scale of 1-5– this is a rating of the abilities’ potency and overall usefulness, primarily focusing on combat. That said, I will still evaluate everything. This can aid you to weigh any choices you might be considering at a glance, helping you know what to expect and make changes accordingly if desired. The rating scheme is:

1 – Usually a bad choice, to be avoided
2 – Below average, this can apply to abilities that are powerful but very niche
3 – Average to Good, you won’t go wrong with it
4 – Very good
5 – Amazing, a must-have if there is such a thing

Version 1.0 (11/10/2021)

  • Initial guide

This rating system exists to best help you understand the effectiveness of all the options available to the Paladin for you to build and enjoy your character. Remember though, your fun comes first; it’s actually very difficult to build a character that is entirely bad in 5E, so if you have a concept that doesn’t rate highly, you might still have fun playing it. This is a guide, not a contract written by Asmodeus. Let it advise you and not force you away from your own ideas.

It’s recommended to have your book/PDF/DnD Beyond page open to reference and follow along with the guide.

Paladin Class Abilities

Hit Dice (4) – A d10 is the standard for most martials and almost as good as it gets, you’ll have a decent amount of HP for melee, but you may want to invest in higher Con if you want to be a meat wall.

Proficiencies

Armor (5) – You have them all! So you have plenty of choices no matter what your primary stat is.

Weapons (5) – It can’t get any better than all of the options, whilst you’re not suited to ranged combat, being able to use a bow on occasion can be handy.

Tools (1) – Who has time to learn how to use a tool when you have double period smite class?

Saving Throws (3) – Wisdom is a nice save to have once you get into mid to late tier 2 and beyond, Charisma is incredibly rare but bad to fail. Whilst the saves here themselves are only a 3, the Paladin has plenty of tools to be great at saves regardless.

Skills (2) – Not a good list at all really, Athletics is recommended but you can choose whatever you prefer for the second. It would have been nice to have seen Perception offered here, but alas.

Divine Sense (3) – For a ribbon, this isn’t bad and is situationally pretty useful. The kind of scenarios you’d want this are if you suspect a creature is disguised, invisible, or hiding. The 1 + Cha formula allows you to build a Paladin with a low Charisma and still get use out of this ability, or spam uses of it if you’re a more typical build.

Lay on Hands (5) – Easily in contention for one of the best healing abilities in the game, the formula of 5 x Paladin level scales very nicely, whilst the flexibility of healing however much you want lets you deep heal or scrimp and save your points. The added utility of being able to cure a disease or remove the poisoned condition really allows the Paladin to act as a comprehensive healer with a single feature. This is also the only way to cure a disease without a magic item or other outside help at levels 1 and 2!

Fighting Style (4) – Not as impactful for the Paladin as it is for the Fighter, but there are still some nice options here to enhance the kind of build you’re looking to play. Each Fighting Style will be evaluated individually further down.

Spellcasting (4) – The Paladin is a half caster, which means their magic is more to support their primary role as a martial, rather than to act as a dedicated spellcaster. It is possible to build a Paladin who revolves around support, but spells play only part of this role. The Paladin’s spell list is primarily spells in the buffing and healing categories, with some class-exclusive spells adding damage in the form of smite spells and animal companions. This feature is enhanced by your subclass, which gives additional spells prepared you may not have access to otherwise. 

Only rated as a 4 because of how variable its effectiveness is; if you have a high Charisma modifier, and get a good selection of spells from your subclass, this can easily be a 5. However, you should weigh up the cost of using your action/bonus action for a spell vs your other options, and whether or not the spell slot might be better used to fuel a Divine Smite. We will go through some recommended Paladin spells later in the guide.

Divine Smite (5) – An ability so good, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the Paladin. What makes this ability a 5 primarily is the lack of risk, as you choose to smite after you’ve hit, you’re guaranteed to do some damage. The type of damage is also excellent, radiant is a very uncommon resistance/immunity amongst creatures with it being particularly effective against some varieties of undead. 

The additional damage die against undead and fiends makes the Paladin particularly effective in certain combats, and Divine Smite is one of the best burst damage abilities in the game. The only thing to keep in mind with this ability is pacing your spell slots so you don’t run out of juice too early in the adventuring day, and consider if there are any spells you may want or need to cast.

Divine Health (4) – A ribbon ability, but it comes at the same level as your subclass which makes it a nice bonus. This likely won’t come up often, but when disease does come up in your game you’ll be very happy to be immune to it! This would be a 5 if it was an active ability or more universally applicable.

Extra Attack (5) – The essential increase for every martial, well except the Rogue, this is especially nice for a Paladin as it gives more opportunities to smite (either Divine or spell-based). It’s important to note this ability comes online at the same time you gain access to 2nd level spells and slots.

Aura of Protection (5) – A superb feature, not only is this a significant defensive boost for yourself, but the whole party can benefit. Even with a lower Cha modifier, this can be the difference between your party failing some nasty saves which can lead to a TPK, or being victorious. The higher your Charisma the better this is, but even with a middling modifier this is still a great ability.

Aura of Courage (4) – Frightened is a fairly common monster-imposed condition, so being immune to it, whilst making your party immune is very nice. The rating is only a 4 because whilst it is fairly common, it’s still a situational ability that might not see any use for extended periods of time. 

Improved Divine Smite (5) – Not only a substantial damage increase, being able to do radiant damage every hit can come in handy against certain creatures, like vampires and zombies. Note: This does not apply to unarmed strikes unless you are making them with natural weapons.

Cleansing Touch (2) – Whilst this ability could prove crucial in saving yourself of a party member, an action is a significant cost for most Paladins and there are far too many creatures who can impose effects independent of spellcasting. This wouldn’t help a companion petrified by a Basilisk or charmed by a vampire.

Aura Improvements (4) – Your auras will now likely cover your entire party for most combats, unless your party likes to really spread out of course. This is a significant defensive buff, however, at this level it feels a little lacking as the only feature.

Fighting Styles 

The contents in the following list of Fighting Styles are arranged alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. Please note the styles found in TCoE are listed as optional class features, so be sure to check with your DM before choosing them. Some styles may be rated differently here than they were in the Fighter guide, this is because the opportunity cost for a Paladin taking a Fighting Style is lower, as their available styles are far fewer.

PHB

Defense (5) – Permanent bonuses to your AC aren’t easy to come by, and being able to compensate for not using a shield, or having an even higher AC with a shield is great if a bit bland.

Dueling (5) – A great damage boost to one-handed weapons that scales with the number of attacks you get. Best for shield users and Dex based Paladins; better than using two hands with a longsword for Str based Paladins.

Great Weapon Fighting (2) – If you reroll when you roll under the average damage for your chosen great weapon, this can be a damage boost. However, it’s likely going to be a small bonus on average and is entirely down to the luck of the dice whether it helps or hurts.

Protection (2) – Potentially a good defensive reaction for your party, though it’s only applicable to shield users and the range is very short. Keep in mind the attack may still hit, even with disadvantage. If you were already looking to play a shield-using Paladin, and have some party members willing to fight shoulder to shoulder, this can be a good tanking choice.

TCoE

Blessed Warrior (4) – If you want to play less of a martial Paladin, or are just looking for some more casting support, this is a great style. Stand-out choices include Guidance and Toll the Dead, of course the higher your Charisma the better for the latter.

Blind Fighting (3) – This style does bring something to the Paladin they would have a hard time getting otherwise, blindsight, but its usefulness is pretty niche. This warrants a 3 because it is something your party can build around, such as making use of Darkness and Fog Cloud. That said, if you don’t often strategize or initiate its use, you can go a long time not needing it.

Interception (4) – Unlike Protection, this will always help your ally. As you declare it after your party member is hit, there’s no chance of wasting your reaction and they will always take less damage than if you hadn’t stepped in. Never say sticking your nose in someone else’s business never did any good! 

Optional Class Features (TCoE)

The Paladin only gets additional features from Tasha’s, no existing features are replaced. The additional Fighting Styles have already been covered above, and we will go through the remaining optional features in this section.

Harness Divine Power (5) –  This is a fantastic ability, making your Paladin more efficient and opening up your options. If you are coming up to a short rest, but haven’t needed your Channel Divinity (CD), you can convert it to a spell slot so it doesn’t go to waste. Alternatively, if you don’t like your CD, or you prefer to use Divine Smite and cast spells, then you can just treat your CD as an additional spell slot.

Martial Versatility (3) – Less of a feature and more codifying a player being able to change an option they don’t like. This is nice to have for some tables, and fairly redundant for others.

Stats for Paladins

Paladins are one of the more MAD classes in 5E, needing either Strength or Dexterity for their attacks and AC, Charisma for their spellcasting and class abilities, and of course, they still want some Constitution to sure up their durability as a martial. The exact spread of stats you want depends on your build and personal priorities: some will want to max out both their attack stat and their Cha; others will be focused on being an effective martial and would be happy to leave their Cha lower; whilst some might have a middling attack stat and focus on Charisma to play a support role. 

If your personal priorities see you wanting more in Str/Dex and Cha than you can start with at level 1, I recommend you take Variant Human if you are interested in any feats. ASIs are so few and far between that raising two stats leaves little room for feats, particularly in the levels you’re most likely to play or spend most of your time playing. You should consider your stats and priorities when you allocate your ability scores and choose a race at first level. Where you see a rating with two numbers separated by a slash, the second number is the rating if you are not using this stat as your primary:

Strength (5/2) – If you’re interested in heavy weapons and armor, this is the stat for you. Moreover, if you see your paladin as a warrior first you should ideally start with a 16 and advance it as quickly as you can. If you want to include feats from ASIs, try to get your Str to 18 first as this will help maintain your martial performance and consistency. If you are not Str focused but want to multiclass, you’ll need at least a 13 in this stat, however, an odd stat is a dead stat so ideally place a 14 here to multiclass. Though players who are happy being a single classed Paladin and don’t want to focus on Str or use heavy armor, you can dump this to a 10, I recommend avoiding negative modifiers unless they fit your character’s story/personality.

Dexterity (5/3) – If you’re interested in a Dex based Paladin, also known as a Dexadin, this should be treated largely the same as the Str recommendation above. However, if you choose to use light armor instead of medium armor, you will be more dependent on this stat for AC than your counterparts would be dependent on Str for theirs. Generally speaking, Dexadins gain a lot of benefits from their primary stat, such as high initiative and better Dex saves and skills, at the expense of one point lower AC and not using heavy or versatile weapons. Even if you focus on Str, having some degree of Dex is recommended for those benefits.

Constitution (3) –  This is a very nice stat to have as high as possible. The hit points will help with tanking and being in melee, and the higher chance to maintain concentration on your spells is very useful. However, being a MAD class means you likely cannot afford a particularly high score here, try and aim for no less than a 14, ideally a 16.

Intelligence (1) – There’s no need for you to have Intelligence at any particular score unless you are interested in being good at Int based skills, or feel it suits your character.

Wisdom (3) – A good tertiary stat to have, if you think you may want to multiclass into a Wis requiring class then try to have at least a 14, otherwise whatever you can afford to put here is a good choice.

Charisma (5) – Cha is a great stat to have, it ties to many of your class features and will make you a more effective Paladin. I want to make it clear, however, you don’t need to have a high score in Cha to be a Paladin. Even if you dump it to 8, a lot of abilities have a minimum of one use clause in them and other key features like Divine Smite and Lay on Hands have no interaction with Cha at all. I recommend putting at least a 16 here, but you are by no means a bad Paladin if you decide otherwise.

Sacred Oaths (Subclasses)

Paladins aren’t as heavily influenced by their subclasses mechanically as other classes, with the primary impact really amounting to the spells, as your Channel Divinity may be situational, and is at best a once per short rest resource. On the other hand, I would say Paladins are one of the more heavily affected classes in terms of role play, with the Oaths and the tenets that they present acting as a strong base to ground your character in, should you choose to do so. Unless there is a particular spell or CD that is important for your build or really interests you, I would recommend choosing an Oath which resonates most with your character. There is an additional Oath option, the Oathbreaker, which will not be covered here as it is a DM-facing subclass, primarily intended for NPCs.

Channel Divinity options will be denoted by [CD].

Devotion

The more stereotypical of the Paladin Oaths, Devotion is driven by justice, virtue, and order, in true knight in shining armor fashion. Their abilities and spells are geared towards fighting the stereotypical enemy of Paladins: fiends, undead, and aberrations but they are also effective against other foes.

Sacred Weapon [CD] (3) – On paper, this might look really cool, a bigger to hit bonus means more chances to Smite or use something like the +10 damage from Great Weapon Master. In practice, losing your first action of a fight is a very steep cost. This gets a 3 for helping you overcome resistance or immunity to non-magical BPS, and the potential it has in longer combats.

Turn the Unholy [CD] (4) – There’s a lot of monsters with the fiend or undead creature type; being able to effectively prevent them from engaging in combat and potentially provoke opportunity attacks is a significant debuff worthy of your action. 

Oath Spells (3) – There’s nothing bad here, with stand-out options being Dispel Magic and Flame Strike, but the selection overall feels niche.

Aura of Devotion (4) – Situational, but the amount of charmed-based effects on monsters is surprisingly large. This is worthy of a 4 as it completely shuts down the dangerous aspect of some creatures, and saves the party from the Barbarian being controlled by a spell like Dominate Monster… again.

Purity of Spirit (4) – A very powerful passive benefit, Protection from Evil and Good covers a large number of creature types, making this relevant in a lot of situations. This only gets a 4, however, as there’s still plenty of monstrosities out there for you to fight.

Holy Nimbus (3) – This capstone is okay, but nothing special, primarily because of the action cost with so little in return. 10 damage a round is vanishingly little at 20th level. Additionally, saves against spells cast by fiends and undead are very niche, not protecting you from their non-spell abilities is disappointing. This would have been a 4 if it only cost a bonus action to activate.

Ancients

Paladin meets Druid, this Oath is focused more on the principle of good overall, rather than law or chaos, and does so with a nature theme. The features and spells continue a theme of nature magic, combined with protection against fey and fiends, and enhancing the survivability of the Paladin. This subclass is often talked about because of its aura that gives resistance to spell damage.

Nature’s Wrath [CD] (1) – In tier 1, this can be an interesting control option for a Paladin, but as soon as Extra Attack comes online, this becomes a very hard-to-sell ability. Nature’s Wrath is like a single target Entangle spell, but with only a 10 feet range. If you can use the optional class features, you’re better off turning your CD into a spell slot. 

Turn the Faithless [CD] (3) – This is essentially the same as the Devotion Paladin’s turn ability, but applying to Fey instead of undead, which can be handy in some campaigns. It’s worth noting this has less redundancy if you have a Cleric in the party compared to a Devotion Paladin unless said Cleric is of the Arcana domain.

Oath Spells (4) – The spells given here offer a nice Druid/Ranger feel to the Ancients Paladin overall. Ensnaring Strike is a superior version of Nature’s Wrath, and Misty Step adds a valuable tool to the Paladin’s toolkit.

Aura of Warding (3) – A fantastic aura… if it applies to you, that is. Whilst the power of halving damage for you and some, maybe all, party members is great, the reality is unless you’re fighting a lot of enemy spellcasters, this won’t help you at all. Great for certain adventures, but too powerful to rate only a 2.

Undying Sentinel (5) – This is like gaining a half-orc’s Relentless Endurance feature. Outside of instant death effects, such as the Disintegration spell, it’s extremely likely you would die at this point. The added ribbon of not feeling your age, or being vulnerable to magical aging is nice flavor added on.

Elder Champion (5) – An excellent capstone ability worth the action cost. With being able to cast a spell-like Destructive Wave as a bonus action on the same turn, I doubt you’d feel losing your action much. Excellent to pair with Ensnaring Strike, the disadvantage on the saving throw can be easily converted into advantage on your attacks, and additional damage.

Vengeance

If vengeance stories motivate you, the idea of chasing down the monsters who wronged the innocent stirs your righteous heart then this is the subclass for you. The mechanics support an aggressive playstyle with access to teleportation spells which give you the capability to pursue or your quarry or form a tactical retreat when necessary.

Abjure Enemy [CD] (2) – Frightened with a speed of zero is a very nice debuff, and the increased potency against fiends and undead makes this a more effective feature even for lower Charisma Paladins. Though, the effect disappearing when the creature takes damage completely undermines all of those benefits, especially when it took your entire action to set up. This can still be helpful but is not a go-to use of your Channel Divinity by any means.

Vow of Enmity [CD] (5) – A fantastic buff against bosses and other meaty single targets. Not only can this help land more smites, but can also aid if you went the route of using Great Weapon Master. Even though this applies to a single enemy, it’s powerful enough to warrant a 5.

Oath Spells (5) – An outstanding list of spells, the debuff/control options of Bane, Hold Person, Banishment, and Hold Monster add a nice depth to the Paladin beyond just hitting things. Whilst Hunter’s Mark and Haste make them even better at hitting things, and the Misty Step/Dimension Door combo adds a huge amount of mobility options.

Relentless Avenger (2) – A feature that can be useful for chasing down your quarry, but an enemy running away from you whilst provoking an opportunity attack is a bit too niche of a trigger.

Soul of Vengeance (4) – A significant improvement to your Vow of Enmity that will increase your damage output drastically, remember the reaction attack will have advantage. However it clashes with Relentless Avenger, using the reaction you’d need for an opportunity attack, and it would have been nice to see an independent feature or resource. After all, this will only benefit you once a short rest at most, and that’s only if you don’t use your CD for Abjure Enemy or to regain a spell slot.

Avenging Angel (3) – This is okay overall, the mobility of having a 60ft fly speed is a significant increase to the Paladin, and the fear aura has potential. The potential is again hindered by the frightened condition only lasting until the enemy takes damage; between this, the action cost, and some creatures being immune to the condition, this just doesn’t seem as powerful as it should be for a 20th level character.

Crown

Driven by their ideals of civilization, Crown Paladins are guided by the law, their loyalty to whichever form of civilization they have chosen, such as a nation or sovereign, and the belief of being responsible for your actions. Their mechanics are that of a tank Paladin, gaining access to spells and features to protect others or make themselves the center of hostile attention instead. This subclass is often forgotten about, as it was published in the SCAG but not later republished like other subclasses from the same book.

Champion Challenge [CD] (5) – A great tanking ability and one of the few abilities in the game that forces enemies to pay attention to you, rather than the squishy spellcasters 35 feet behind you. This should be used with caution, however, as you’re potentially making yourself the sole target of the encounter. Using this in conjunction with the Dodge action or Shield of Faith, which you would cast on a separate round, would be advisable unless you have built for high AC and/or high HP.

Turn the Tide [CD] (3) – This ability has a lot of potential and is potentially a lot of hit points. However, the formula doesn’t scale well and the “that can hear you” clause makes it unable to bring people back up from 0hp. That said, in tier 1 and even tier 2, this kind of widespread healing can really turn the tide of a losing battle, so it’s still worth a 3. 

Oath Spells (4) – A very thematic selection of spells that emphasizes this Paladin wants to protect others by putting themselves in harm’s way. The stand-out spell here is Spirit Guardians, which would synergize well with Champion Challenge, this is the only Paladin to gain access to this great spell. I would have preferred to see a little more healing on the list, this is the perfect Paladin for Healing Word.

Divine Allegiance (2) – If you build your Paladin with soaking up large amounts of damage in mind, this can be very useful to keep your party members alive. However, the inability to reduce the damage, and the 5ft limit of the feature means you would likely be better off using the Interception style for the most part.

Unyielding Spirit (2) – Advantage against paralysis and being stunned is nice, but very niche to be the only feature at this late a  level.

Exalted Champion (5) – Resistance to nonmagical Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing damage is very, in practice most monster attacks that use those damage types aren’t magical. The advantage on Wisdom saving throws is also a large defensive boost at this level, where Wisdom saves are pretty common and the effects of failing them particularly unpleasant. The stand-out here is that this ability lasts for an entire hour, rather than the much shorter duration of other Oath capstones, allowing you to fit potentially several encounters into a single use.

Conquest

A very different take on the Paladin archetype, being devoted to crushing all who stand before you and amassing personal power, the mechanics and spells are based around inducing and extorting fear in your enemies. Between the focus on causing the frightened condition and their aura, Conquest Paladins have a reputation of being great battlefield control Paladins.

Conquering Presence [CD] (5) – A great debuff with no chance of friendly fire and no risk of removing the effect by damaging the creatures affected. 

Guided Strike [CD] (3) – Being able to make a big miss a hit is very nice, however, a single hit on a class with Extra Attack is a very expensive use of your Channel Divinity. Nice to have in your back pocket to pull off a smite when you need to, but it makes far more sense on the War Cleric, which makes fewer attacks and gets more uses of their CD.

Oath Spells (5) – The overall theme of the list is very appropriate for the subclass, with a useful selection. Stand-out spells include Armor of Agathys, Spiritual Weapon, and Fear.

Aura of Conquest (5) – This aura ties to your CD and spell options, giving the subclass a very cohesive feel, the effect of the aura itself is also very powerful. Being able to lock down a frightened creature, and automatically doing damage to them, is a quick path to victory. This feature benefits from gaining as many ways to impose the frightened condition as possible and having a higher save DC against that condition.

Scornful Rebuke (5) – Automatic damage, of a good type, whenever someone hits you? What pushes this ability into a 5 is this working at range and both with weapons and spells.

Invincible Conqueror (5) – Simultaneously a huge buff to your damage and durability, with the extra attack allowing you to capitalize on Improved Divine Smite and the increased critical chance meaning you’re more likely to double your Divine Smite damage.

Redemption

A more social and reactive Paladin, the Oath of Redemption focuses on avoiding conflict or mitigating its consequences. This is executed through spells like Sleep, Calm Emotions, and Hypnotic Pattern, as well as Persuasion buffing, and punitive options for Channel Divinity. This subclass makes a strong candidate for the Charisma-focused, support Paladin playstyle.

Emissary of Peace [CD] (4) – A social ability is nice to see on a martial, a duration of 10 minutes makes it useful for entire social encounters. This is only a 4 as, whilst it’s a huge help, a +5 is not going to guarantee you any successes. To get the most out of this ability you really need proficiency in Persuasion and a decent Cha modifier.

Rebuke the Violent [CD] (5) – As enemy damage increases, this option will naturally scale in usefulness. What’s really nice about this option is that it inflicts radiant damage, so if a creature does a lot of poison damage, which they are immune to, the damage you inflict back upon them is fully felt regardless of the triggering type.

Oath Spells (3) – Whilst the spells are very appropriate for the subclass, they run into problems of usefulness and scaling. Sleep will age very poorly, Hold Person won’t work against most monsters, and Counterspell requires enemies to be spellcasters. That said having these spells as options is nice, and Hypnotic Pattern and Wall of Force are very useful control spells.

Aura of the Guardian (2) – A slightly better version of the 7th level Oath of the Crown feature.

Protective Spirit (4) – This is a very healthy amount of hp regeneration with some minor scaling built-in for the remaining levels. This doesn’t get a 5 as it likely won’t completely balance out using the Aura of the Guardian. Note: As it is not stated, when you halve your Paladin level for this feature, you should round down.

Emissary of Redemption (3) – Unfortunately, this is a mixed bag, whilst it fulfills the goal of the subclass and provides great benefits, using a lot of your core class features would negate this benefit entirely. This is best for support Paladins who focus on buffs and healing, or who are content with dealing with minions whilst other party members deal with the heavy-hitting enemies.

Glory

You thought Conquest was a different spin for a Paladin? Glory focuses on propelling you and your companions to legendary status by focusing on honing their body and skill and putting them to use through acts of courage. The mechanics are best summed up by the term remaining effective, gaining access to mobility buffs, Guiding Bolt as a ranged option, and Magic Weapon to allow you to counter resistance/immunity to nonmagical damage.

Peerless Athlete [CD] (1) – A very niche ability that will rarely be worth spending your CD on unless you build a grappling Paladin. Even as an out of combat CD option, this doesn’t feel good.

Inspiring Smite [CD] (2) – Whilst you can in theory apply these temporary hit points to as many creatures as you have temp hp, realistically for this ability to be worth anything you need to keep the number of creatures to one or two. The use of your bonus action feels a little clunky and makes the activation of this ability dependent on not only multiple factors, but spending an entirely separate resource. This would have easily been a 3 if you could activate it as a bonus action independently.

Oath Spells (5) – This is a very good spread of spells, with Guiding Bolt covering the normal ranged problems a Paladin might encounter, Enhance Ability providing some utility, Magic Weapon allowing them to overcome resistance/immunity to nonmagical BPS as needed, and so on.

Aura of Alacrity (2) – Not only is this niche it’s poorly designed, the concept of charging into battle together across a large distance is very cool, but if this Paladin has a higher initiative than a party member, that member won’t get this bonus unless the Paladin forgoes moving. The range should have been at least 10 feet to start with to make the ability more feasible. This still warrants a 2, as a self-speed bump of 10ft can be useful to a melee character in particular.

Glorious Defense (3) – This can be a very potent defensive and retribution ability, however, it is held back by requiring the party to stay tightly clustered together in melee range of the enemy and tying the number of uses to your Charisma modifier for some reason.

Living Legend (4) – Far from the best capstone we’ve seen in the Oaths, but being guaranteed at least one hit a turn and a second chance at passing saving throws is great and being able to do this more than once per long rest by using a 5th level spell slot is a good option to have.

Watchers

Sworn to protect the world from extraplanar threats, this subclass is dedicated to being the ever-vigilant sentry against the threats who seek to invade from beyond our own world. Interestingly these Paladins are said to create and maintain a network of spies and informants, in order to keep an eye on any cult activity. Notably, they get access to typically more arcane magic, including Alarm and Counterspell.

Watcher’s Will [CD] (3) – THis can be very helpful against certain monsters and especially in higher levels. However, it doesn’t prompt new saves for effects a creature is already under, and with a duration of only a minute it likely means giving up the first or second round of your attacks to set this up.

Abjure the Extraplanar [CD] (5) – Like the other turn features we’ve covered so far, but covering twice as many creature types!

Oath Spells (3) – A thematic list, with a lot of utility in it. It would have been nice to see some better combat-relevant entries.

Aura of the Sentinel (5) – Relevant every single combat and scales with you, whilst enemy initiative typically doesn’t.

Vigilant Rebuke (3) – The damage isn’t bad for a reaction, but requiring a creature to succeed on a saving throw makes the usefulness of this ability completely random. Note: You can use this ability when a party member succeeds on a saving throw, perhaps using your Watcher’s Will, or when a monster saves against an effect your party is trying to use.

Mortal Bulwark (4) – This is a very powerful ability, mixing general combat effectiveness with the ability to potentially just end an encounter. This only warrants a 4 because it covers a lot of creature types, but not all of them, and a capstone should ideally not be this niche.

Whilst the Paladin is primarily a martial, choosing spells can effectively augment, and enhance your chosen playstyle. This can be daunting if you’re new to the class, or just not comfortable with spellcasting, the spells presented in this list are intended to give you generally useful options whilst you learn what spells you like and use most.

Guidance [Cantrip] – Applicable if you chose the Blessed Warrior Fighting Style, this is a very useful cantrip to pick up to help your party pass the skill checks which really matter.

Bless [1st level Spell] –  Not only great for support Paladins, this spell, unfortunately, takes your entire action, but rewards the party with a significant boost to their accuracy and save defense. It’s recommended to include yourself as a target of this spell, to help you keep concentration whilst getting attacked in combat.

Cure Wounds [1st level Spell] – Whilst you have Lay on Hands, it never hurts to have another option for healing yourself and your party. This can be especially useful if you need to use your Lay on Hands to cure a disease or neutralize a poison, rather than heal hit point damage.

Divine Favor [1st level Spell] – A damage boosting alternative to Divine Smite, this is a great spell for longer fights, or if you need to spread radiant damage, such as shutting down the regeneration of vampire spawn.

Protection from Evil and Good [1st level Spell] – A great defensive buff that works against a large enough number of creature types to be relevant frequently enough to keep on hand.

Aid [2nd level Spell] – Not to be confused with temporary hit points, this spell increases your actual hit point maximum, meaning you can heal these newfound points. This is a great durability buff for your party and is especially useful for lower hit dice characters like Wizards.

Find Steed [2nd level Spell] – Being able to summon your own mount, enhanced with a telepathic and magical link, is a very useful means of transportation. You can also use your summoned creature as a combat companion or as a scout/sentry. If you’re adventuring in an environment not suitable for large mounts, such as confined spaces and ladder-ridden dungeons, you can instead summon a mastiff to better suit the environment. Small-sized Paladins can actually ride their mastiffs into those places!

Magic Weapon [2nd level Spell] – Essential for ensuring you’re never missing out on damage because you haven’t found a magical weapon yet, or providing the same courtesy to a martial party member.

Race Choices

In this section, I’ll review all of the racial options based on how well they complement the Paladin as a whole, commenting where specific features may benefit certain subclasses. Races are good places to pick up abilities for certain character concepts, so if you’re thinking about playing a Paladin build but that race isn’t rated well here, it doesn’t mean your particular combination wouldn’t work or be fun to play. Like I said previously, it’s actually pretty difficult to make a truly bad character in 5e. 

Subraces and variants will be listed under the central race rating, indented to the right, and noted by italics.

If your DM allows the TCoE optional rules for reassigning racial stat bumps, every race becomes a minimum rating of 3 and you should decide entirely based on the other benefits they give. The only exceptions to this, are races that give more points to stats than is typical, like the half-elf or mountain dwarf, which would be at least a 3.5 before features are considered.

Aarakocra (3) – If you’re interested in playing a Dexadin this can be a compelling option, with the high fly speed allowing you to close large distances which would otherwise require the Dash action for other Paladins and/or a wasted turn. This is only a 3 because it only supports Dexadins, not Str or Cha-focused Paladins, due to the stats and restriction of only flying in light armor.

Aasimar (5) – +2 to Cha is great, the resistances are nice, Healing Hands is a nice boost to your Lay on Hands healing, and Light is just nice to have if you need it, who wants to see in shades of grey all of the time? 

  • Protector (2) – Flying is useful, but no physical stat bump is tough for most Paladins.
  • Scourge (2) – +1 to Con is good for a martial character, however, an aura that can damage your party doesn’t mesh well with all of the auras you have which are meant to help them.
  • Fallen (4) – Str is ideal for a Paladin, and although friendly fire is an unfortunate possibility, Conquest Paladins will enjoy having another source of the firghtened condition.

Bugbear (4) – The stats here are great for a Str based Paladin who doesn’t want to neglect their Dexterity, the Stealth proficiency helping to make up for any disadvantage to Stealth checks they may suffer from their armor. The nicest thing here however is the reach, allowing you to threaten more enemies at once and helping to compensate for needing to close to melee range. This works best with a reach weapon such as a glaive, to give a total reach of 15ft.

Centaur (4) – Fantastic for Strength Paladins, Wis isn’t the best stat to bump but it’s far from the worst. The increased speed not only makes it easier to close to melee range but the Charge ability gives you the opportunity to make an additional attack with your hooves, which you can use Divine Smite with!

Changeling (3) – Good stats for a Paladin who wants to focus more on Charisma, the Shapechanger ability, and proficiencies would make for a good face character Paladin.

Dhampir (4) – Enhanced mobility and whatever stats you like, as long as you invest in Constitution the bite offers you an interesting opportunity to self-buff.

Dragonborn (4) – Great stats, a damage resistance, and a breath weapon! Whilst the breath weapon is lackluster in terms of damage, but the option of an elemental damage type and a ranged/AOE saved-based ability instead of relying solely on melee attacks.

  • Dragon blood (2) – You have no use for Int, Forceful Presence can be useful on a face Paladin, but this is a roleplay or very niche build.
  • Ravenite (4) – Still very good stats and Vengeful Assault is a welcome addition to your arsenal.

Dragonborn (FToD Version) (5) – The majority of the features for this version of the dragonborn are in the subraces, choosing your own stats and being a cool dragon person warrants a 5 though.

  • Chromatic (4) – The new style of breath weapon is fantastic for a Paladin, replacing only one attack allows you to still get a smite off, whilst giving you an AOE and range option, which the Paladin typically struggles for. The resistance can be helpful, the immunity ability is a bit too niche for my liking, but can certainly come in handy.
  • Metallic (5) – Mostly the same as the chromatic version, however, instead of the niche immunity, you gain a second breath weapon that can render an entire (small) field of enemies ripe for smiting!
  • Gem (5) – Telepathy is a nice ribbon not normally accessible to the Paladin class, and a radiant breath weapon seems very fitting. The ability to fly is the winner here, allowingPaladins to take the fight to flying enemies well before they get Find Greater Steed.

Dwarf (3) – Con is always useful, the poison resistance will likely save you a lot of damage at some point and Stonecunning is great for temple design. Unfortunately, the weapon proficiencies are redundant, but that is to be expected with a dwarven martial.

  • Hill (3) – There are worse tertiary stats, but the additional HP is great for a martial character.
  • Mountain (3) – The stats are great, but with all the proficiencies being irrelevant this is just stats and poison resistance. You won’t go wrong with those things, but they’re not really exciting or adding interesting options either.
  • Duergar (5) – Even with the potential hang-up of Sunlight Sensitivity, there’s so much here it easily wins a 5 for a Paladin. The Stats are strong, the increased resilience against certain effects works well with the Paladin’s Auras and Duergar Magic gives the Paladin great utility/combat options they may not otherwise have access to.
  • Mark of Warding (2) – Intelligence is not for you, this is only really recommended if you’re looking to expand the utility of your Paladin. The spells can be useful, but they aren’t making you a better Paladin.

Elf (5) – If you’re looking to play a Dexadin playing an Elf is a great choice, giving you some nice passive benefits and ensuring you can always pull double guard shifts.

  • High Elf (2) – Only worthwhile if you want to pick up a cantrip, but beware it will use your Intelligence modifier.
  • Wood Elf (3) – The movement speed is a boon to a Paladin who needs to close into melee range and Wisdom is a useful tertiary stat.
  • Drow (3) – The stats are perfect for a Dexadin and the spells offer some utility, this would be a 4 if it wasn’t for the Sunlight Sensitivity.
  • Eladrin (5) – Not only the stats you want but a bonus action teleport with your choice of rider effect. This adds a lot of mobility and control/utility options to the Paladin and is a welcomed addition to the Oaths that don’t get access to Misty Step.
  • Sea (3) – The stats are good, but this is so niche you should only pick it for roleplay reasons or if your campaign heavily features large bodies of water.
  • Shadar-kai (5) – Good stats, a good resistance, and a bonus action teleport that will also make you more durable? That all adds up to one fine Dexadin.
  • Mark of Shadow (5) – Defy the stereotypes, play a stealthy Paladin today!
  • Pallid (3) – Some useful utility, Wisdom is okay as a +1, but Sleep won’t age very well.

Fairy (4) – With stats you assign yourself and a fly speed that restricts anything but light armor this makes a perfect Dexadin but isn’t very suitable for a Str-based Paladin.

Firbolg (3) – The stats are not ideal, but Hidden Step is a great feature and there’s a lot of nice utility added to the Paladin here.

Genasi (3) – +2 Con is good for a Paladin in general, but all the goodies are in the subraces.

  • Air (3) – Good stats for a Dexadin and some utility to be had, not a bad choice, just not a particularly good one either.
  • Earth (4) – Good stats for a Str based Paladin and access to the excellent Pass without Trace, so you can be stealthy despite heavy armor and a low Dex modifier.
  • Fire (2) – The Int is pretty useless to you, fire resistance and darkvision are handy, but the spells won’t age very well.
  • Water (1) – Well at least you won’t drown, right? 

Gith (1) – +1 Int is a terrible start, but everything else is in the subraces.

  • Githyanki (3) – Redundant proficiencies but the Str boost is welcome, and the spells provided by Githyanki Psionics give a decent boost of mobility and utility to a Paladin. 
  • Githzerai (1) – A version of Shield you can cast with your hands full is great, but not good enough to save two poor stat bumps and Wisdom-based utility.

Gnome (1) – A useless stat, lower movement speed, and effectively being locked out of heavy weapons is not a good start, to say the least. Gnome Cunning can be a potentially useful feature, providing the effects you’re coming up against are explicitly magical, of course.

  • Forest (2) – You’ve at least got a Dex bump to make a Dexadin work, this is really a roleplay choice.
  • Rock (1) – You can’t smite your way through rock bottom, unfortunately.
  • Deep (2) – The 120 ft. of darkvision is potentially useful, largely the same as forest above, so choose which features appeal most to you.
  • Mark of Scribing (1) – Every Paladin dreams of working in admin, right?

Goblin (5) – A perfect Dexadin, bringing additional nova damage in the form of Fury of the Small, whilst giving you the ability to skirmish with Nimble Escape.   

Goliath (5) – If you’re looking to make a tank of a Paladin to stand in front of your allies and take whatever comes your way, this is a great option. Lay on Hands allows you to recover from a lot of damage, but it’s awkward to use in combat, Stone’s Endurance steps into this gap very well.

Half-Elf (5) – You can boost your Charisma, Constitution, and the physical stat of your choice, whilst getting skills and some other nice ribbons. A great Paladin, regardless your primary stat, and potentially frees up an ASI for a feat.

  • Aquatic Descent (2) – A downgrade unless you’re playing an aquatic-focused game.
  • Drow Descent (4) – A side-grade compared to the standard half-elf, if the spellcasting interests you, go for it.
  • Moon/Sun Descent (4) – As long as you choose a cantrip that doesn’t rely on your casting modifier, this can be a great way to add some utility to your Paladin.
  • Wood Descent (4) – The higher movement speed can be a boon to Paladins as they’re traditionally stuck in melee, of course sometimes you may have to stage a glorious retreat, in which case the extra 5ft may help. You don’t have to outrun the monster, just the Wizard.
  • Mark of Detection (1) – A significant downgrade from the standard half-elf, a strict pass unless you like the RP of it and the party has no one decent at Investigation.
  • Mark of the Storm (3) – Still largely a downgrade, but the stats are good for a Dexadin and there’s at least lightning resistance.

Half-Orc (5) – What’s better than smiting on a crit? Well adding another die on top of course. Combined with good stats and increased durability this is a great pick, it made the PHB Paladin art after all.

  • Mark of Finding (2) – Lackluster stats and spells which you could cast as a Paladin anyway, particularly if you were a Vengeance Paladin.

Halfling (4) – A superb choice for a Dexadin, especially with the improved accuracy rerolling 1s brings you. Unfortunately, Brave becomes redundant at 10th level when you become immune to being frightened, and holds this back from being a 5. 

  • Lightfoot (4) – Great stat lineup, but Naturally Stealthy isn’t really useful to a Paladin.
  • Stout (5) – Con is great for a Paladin and the poison resistance is likely to save you from a decent amount of damage.
  • Ghostwise (3) – Wisdom is an okay stat and telepathy is a useful ribbon.
  • Mark of Healing (4) – A great way to add more healing to your Paladin, the Wisdom isn’t the most desirable stat for you and the free Cure Wounds will, unfortunately, use Wisdom, not Charisma. That said if you’re aiming to play a more healing-centric Paladin this is a good choice.
  • Mark of Hospitality (4) – A Charisma increase is one of the ideal stats we want as a Paladin and gaining some utility normally unavailable to the core class is a nice bonus. Why not have your Unseen Servant brush your summoned steed?

Harengon (5) – Choose your own stats, a scaling bonus to initiative to be thee who casts the first smite, improved Dex saves, and you even have an ‘I’m outta here’ card in Rabbit Hop. Who knew Bugs Bunny was Paladin material?

Hexblood (5) – Stats of your choice, out of combat utility, and a damage bump through Hex. A solid choice to say the least.

Hobgoblin (1) – A poor stat spread and redundant proficiencies does not a good Paladin make. Saving Face is potentially a good bonus, but is entirely dependent on having allies around you, which can be difficult depending on your party composition.

Human (2) – A Paladin is just MAD enough that this isn’t a 1 if you’re a Str-based Paladin who wants to maintain a certain amount of Dexterity.

  • Variant Human PHB (5) – You can bump your choice of physical stat and either Con or Cha and grab a feat that has caught your eye. With the incentive to increase two stats on a Paladin, gaining a feat can be a difficult thing to do if you’re not a variant human. Some feats to consider are Polearm Master, Sentinel, and a spellcasting feat such as Fey Touched or Magic Initiative.
  • Mark of Finding (2) – Pretty much the same as the half-orc option of the same Dragonmark.
  • Mark of Handling (1) – Solely a roleplay choice.
  • Mark of Making (2) – The stats are pretty poor, but being able to give yourself a +1 weapon for an hour without concentration is a very potent benefit.
  • Mark of Passage (5) – Excellent for a Dexadin, giving perfect stats, a higher movement speed, and Misty Step once per day.
  • Mark of Sentinel (2) – The lack of a physical stat isn’t a good start, but there’s some good potential here for a tank Paladin.

Kalashtar (1) – No physical stat, very situational defenses and an admittedly superior version of telepathy do not a great Paladin make. If you roll high stats this can be an interesting Oath of the Watchers Paladin.

Kenku (2) – A not bad rolepaly choice for a Dexadin.

Kobold (3) – If you have a party member, or a summoned steed, willing to stick in melee range of your enemies you have an at-will source of advantage for your Dexadin, but Grovel, Cower, and Beg doesn’t feel very Paladin-y and depending on your table the Sunlight Sensitivity may pose an issue. This might be worth a 4 if there was a +1 stat bump.

Leonin (5) – Good stats, enhanced mobility, and a bonus action fear ability that would be perfect for a Conquest Paladin.

Lizardfolk (2) – An interesting choice, but there’s potential for a Strength-based Paladin to make good use of the Hungry Jaws ability, and the natural armor is an upgrade for Dexadins.

Locathah (1) – Drowning on dry land is severe enough that this is restricted to roleplay picks and sea-faring campaigns.

Loxodon (2) – Con is a start and there’s enough of a mix of somewhat useful abilities here that this can be an interesting choice. The lack of attack stat or Charisma bump holds this back from being a 3, and the Natural Armor is only good for mildly protecting your kidneys whilst you sleep.

Minotaur (3) – Good stats, Hammering Horns provides some degree of control, and Goring Rush means having to Dash into position isn’t necessarily a waste.

Orc (3) – Suitable stats and Aggressive can help you close on the opening round of combat, however, this is largely worse than just being a half-orc.

Reborn (3) – A good choice for an aspiring skill monkey Paladin, with poison resistance providing a solid, if situational, defense.

Satyr (5) – A great choice for a Dexadin, Magic Resistance is potentially a very strong defense, and the lore of a satyr makes them a very fitting Oath of the Ancients Paladin.

Beasthide Shifter (5) – A great tanking option for a Strength using Paladin.

Longtooth Shifter (5) – The stats are okay, but getting a bonus action attack, which are more chances to smite, is a great damage boost.

Swiftstride Shifter (4) – Perfect Dexadin stats and the option to effectively skirmish, a good package to mix up the normal Paladin formula.

Wildhunt Shifter (2) – The stats are particularly meh, but denying your enemies advantage against you is a very potent defense.

Simic Hybrid (3) – Pretty good stats for whichever type of Paladin you want to play, with some fun adaptation options, but the +1 AC is the strongest choice.

Tabaxi (5) – An outstanding Dexadin, with a speed boost and mobility that will allow a Paladin to compete, temporarily, with any Monk. The skills are both generally very useful and welcome on the Paladin.

Tiefling (PHB aka Asmodeus) (3) – The Cha is useful for a support Paladin and the combination of fire resistance and Hellish Rebuke make for a useful package.

  • Baalzebul (2) – Same as above, except the spells got worse, pulling the rating down with
  • Dispater (3) – Good stats for a Dexadin or support Paladin, with a side of utility magic to broaden a Paladin’s horizons a bit.
  • Fierna (2) – A worse version of the Asmodeus/PHB Tiefling, essentially.
  • Glasya (3) – Much the same as Dispater, but with the more generally useful Invisibility.
  • Levistus (3) – An interesting option for a tank/support Paladin. 
  • Mammon (1) – You’d have to really want Mage Hand, but even then there are better ways to get it.
  • Mephistopheles (1) – Flame Blade doesn’t work with Extra Attack, meaning you’re better off just using a normal weapon, and Burning Hands won’t age well at all. 
  • Zariel (5) – Great stats with free castings of smite spells, this is a ready-made Paladin in waiting!

Tortle (4) – Best for tier 1 and early tier 2 where plate armor may not be affordable, but worthwhile regardless as the tortle’s Natural Armor doesn’t impose disadvantage on Stealth checks.

Triton (4) – A perfect spread of stats for a Paladin, with some niche spells to get inventive with and a damage resistance.

Vedalken (1) – Terrible stats, Vedalken Dispassion can prove to be a useful defense, but not commonly so until later tier 2.

Warforged (5) – Great stats for whichever kind of Paladin you choose to play, enhanced durability through AC and poison resistance, and skill of your choice makes a malleable but compelling choice for your terminator style Paladin.

Yuan-Ti Pureblood (3) – The +2 Cha is useful to Paladins and Magic Resistance is a powerful enough defence to warrant a 3 on their own, the casting is very situational but can be potentially useful.

Feats

With a reliance on multiple stats, but no additional ASIs, feats are at a premium for a Paladin making them most available for a variant human or those okay with slower stat progression. Combat-orientated feats are generally better for Paladins, however, feats which provide additional spellcasting can be valuable for the half casting class, especially support Paladins, and this will be reflected in their rating and description.

The following list of feats are arranged (mostly) alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in, to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. If a feat has a race prerequisite it is denoted in [brackets]. Other prerequisites may apply, such as minimum stats, or the ability to cast a spell so be sure to check the book text when choosing feats.

PHB Feats

Alert (4) – A high initiative is always a useful benefit, however, for Paladins who focused on Strength, this feat can help mitigate their lower Dexterity modifier. The part of the feat which denies unseen attackers having advantage against you can allow your party to make use of spells such as Darkness and Fog Cloud without it completely hindering you.

Athlete (3) – It’s an okay way to round off an odd Str or Dex, with some minor mobility enhancements. This would be fitting for an Oath of Glory Paladin.

Actor (2) – Only useful if you have an odd Cha and are looking to play a face character.

Charger (1) – Whilst getting a big accuracy boost to an attack to guarantee a smite is nice and reducing the opportunity cost of having to dash into position is a useful benefit. But, this will be too niche in practice to use regularly, and this feat is best chosen as a DM given free feat, or a variant human feat in a game that won’t reach 5th level.

Crossbow Expert (1) – You have no incentive to focus on ranged combat, you don’t get access to the Archery style and Divine Smite/Improved Divine Smite don’t work with ranged weapons.

Defensive Duelist (4) – A great defensive option for Dexadins, but of no use for Strength using Paladins unless they have limited themselves to finesse weapons.

Dual Wielder (2) – This can be a useful feat if you favor two weapon fighting and have some non-light magic weapons you’d like to use, however, the benefits aren’t large enough to warrant an ASI for a Paladin for the most part.

Dungeon Delver (1) – Very valuable in a dungeon diving style of campaign, however, that’s very niche, and even in those campaigns, there are better suited PCs to take this feat.

Durable (1) – Only for very difficult games, like those using the Gritty Realism variant rules.

Elemental Adept (1) – Whilst this could make Searing Smite more useful, that’s just not worth a feat.

Grappler (1) – Only if it’s free, there are better ways to be a grappler.

Great Weapon Master (5) – A potential damage boost and source of bonus action attacks, for Paladins using great weapons this is a great feat. This is particularly useful for Vengeance and Conquest Paladins, as they both have accuracy-increasing Channel Divinity options.

Healer (3) – If you’re looking to play your party’s primary healer, this feat can help you achieve that without relying solely on your Lay on Hands and spell slots.

Heavily Armored (1) – You can already wear heavy armor.

Heavy Armor Master (4) – A great way to round out the Strength of a tank Paladin.

Inspiring Leader (3) – A lot of durability for both yourself and your party, best on Paladins who have a medium to high (16+) Charisma, and best taken by those with high stats or in difficult campaigns.

Keen Mind (1) – It’s neat, but neat doesn’t warrant your time and precious ASIs.

Lightly Armored (1) – Entirely redundant for Paladins.

Linguist (1) – There are both better ways and PCs to address language barriers than you. 

Lucky (4) – Great for everyone, but a bit bland, best taken at higher levels when you have the stats and feats you are really interested in.

Mage Slayer (2) – Very niche but if the antagonist of your game is an evil faction of spellcasters this can be very useful.

Magic Initiate (3) – If you’re looking to give your Paladin a little bit more magic, specifically cantrips, this can be a great feat. Choosing a Charisma-based class’ spell list is recommended for the synergy with your own spellcasting.

Martial Adept (3) – This can spice up your combat a little and add to your short rest resources, best taken as a variant human or on high rolled characters. Only one d6 won’t go far and this won’t be a build defining feat.

Medium Armor Master (3) – An AC upgrade for Dexadins without disadvantage on Stealth checks, if you are looking for something to take, this is an okay choice.

Mobile (3) – If you want to play a skirmishing Paladin this is almost a must-have. If you’re just looking to ensure that you can close into melee reliably this is a steep cost, but would help to that end also.

Moderately Armored (1) – You there! The acolyte in the back! Paladins are already proficient in medium armor!

Mounted Combatant (3) – With access to Find Steed and Find Greater Steed this is actually a very useful option to some Paladins, particularly small Paladins who can fit their medium mounts into more places.

Observant (1) – You don’t need to bump Int or Wis and if you need better passive scores you’d be better served gaining proficiency and/or Expertise in Perception and Investigation.

Polearm Master (5) – A reliable bonus action attack, whilst this clashes a little with some spells, the additional damage, and opportunities to smite are worth it.

Resilient (1) – Between the save proficiencies and general stat spread of the average Paladin this isn’t necessary, especially once you gain your aura at 6th level.

Ritual Caster (2) – If you’re looking to add out-of-combat utility to your Paladin this is a good way to do it, as long as you have high enough Wisdom or Intelligence. This is something you would pick up, rather than build your character around.

Savage Attacker (1) – Not worth a feat at the best of times and the reroll doesn’t apply to smite damage dice.

Sentinel (5) – Excellent tanking feat, this will allow you to make reaction attacks more often and give you the ability to lock down the battlefield.

Sharpshooter (1) – Similar to Crossbow Expert, you have no need for this feat as you’re going to be in melee, for the most part, not building around ranged attacks.

Shield Master (3) – A great defensive buff to your Paladin and a touch of control with the bonus action shove, this is only a 3 because all Paladins already get a great save bonus from their aura.

Skilled (2) – Niche for a Paladin, but if you want to play a skill monkey Paladin, you’ll need skill proficiencies from somewhere.

Skulker (1) – You won’t be hiding much, never mind making ranged attacks from hidden.

Spell Sniper (1) – The Paladin spell list isn’t bursting with attack rolls.

Tavern Brawler (2) – You certainly could make a smiting boxer, but Improved Divine Smite doesn’t work with unarmed strikes and you’re losing a lot of damage over the course of a combat just to grapple someone.

Tough (4) – A great way to get your gauntleted hands on more HP to protect your fellow party members face-first into the fist of evil.

War Caster (2) – As Paladins can use a shield as a spellcasting focus, and a Paladin’s concentration can be fleeting with Smite spells, this isn’t as valuable as it can be for other spellcasters. If your Paladin favors using spells like Bless, Shield of Faith, and Haste this has a lot more appeal.

Weapon Master (1) – You’re already proficient in all weapons.

XGtE Feats

Bountiful Luck [Halfling] (1) – Helping your party is great, but shutting down an ability that’s always on otherwise, is too steep a cost.

Dragon Fear [Dragonborn] (4) – You can round out your choice of three different stats, all great for Paladins, and gain a good debuff that synergizes well with a Conquest Paladin. If you’re playing Fizban’s version of the Dragonborn this becomes a 5 due to the better action economy.

Dragon Hide [Dragonborn] (3) – If you’re rounding off an odd stat you need you can’t really go wrong with this, but the benefits otherwise provided are niche just-in-case abilities, especially if you’re not a Dexadin.

Drow High Magic [Drow] (2) – If you’re looking to add more utility to a support Paladin this is a decent choice, but a miss for every other Paladin, and not a must-have for support Paladins.

Dwarven Fortitude [Dwarf] (1) – Even for a tank Paladin this isn’t a compelling choice, the ability to Dodge as a bonus action is very important to making this feat worth an ASI.

Elven Accuracy [Elf or Half-Elf] (5) – A very powerful feat that can work with both Dexadins and Strength-based Paladins, the increased chance to smite on a critical hit is very satisfying. This feat is best for Paladins with easy access to advantage, such as Vengeance and Conquest Paladins. 

Fade Away [Gnome] (3) – If you’re playing a Gnome Dexadin this is a solid choice, the invisibility effect is best used to gain advantage on your next attack unless you really need to get away from danger.

Fey Teleportation [High Elf] (2) – Misty Step is a fantastic spell, but if you’re looking to round out your Charisma you’re better off choosing Fey Touched instead, which will not only allow you to increase your Cha and give you Misty Step for free once per day, but you get another spell can cast both with your spell slots.

Flames of Phlegethos [Tiefling] (1) – Maybe if you really want to commit to Searing Smite.

Infernal Constitution [Tiefling] (4) – Two damage resistances combined with a +1 Con bump makes for a lot of value for Paladins looking to be more durable. This is recommended after your primary stat increases, unless the campaign you’re playing in features a lot of cold and poison damage.

Orcish Fury [Half-Orc] (5) – A mundane smite-like ability to increase your nova damage, increasing a stat important to you, and improving an already great feature even better.

Prodigy [Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Human] (3) – If you want to add some more utility to your Paladin, this is a great option, but not a great Paladin feat generally speaking.

Second Chance [Halfling] (4) – A great defensive ability that you can use every combat, whilst still advancing stats you care about, Dexadin or not.

Squat Nimbleness [Dwarf] (3) – If you’re Strength-based and qualify for this feat you can’t go wrong with it, a little better than Athlete.

Wood Elf Magic [Wood Elf] (3) – The spells provided by this feat are good enough that you won’t go wrong choosing this feat, but unless you’re having trouble with mobility and Stealth as a whole in your party, this isn’t a priority. 

Eberron: RftLW feats

Aberrant Dragonmark [non-dragonmarked race] (3) – If you’re looking to round out an odd Constitution score this is a good way to do it. It’s recommended to not roll your Hit Die when you cast the 1st level spell you gain from this feat unless you are 30 feet away from allies or they are comfortable taking damage.

Revenant Blade [Elf] (3) – If you are using a double-bladed scimitar this half feat is a solid way to increase your primary stat and the only way for a Dexadin to make use of said exotic weapon.

TCoE Feats

Artificer Initiate (1) – There are better ways to add more magic onto your Paladin, especially as this feat uses your Intelligence, which you don’t have much use for.

Chef (2) – A fun feat primarily for roleplay purposes, the additional healing, and temporary HP are most welcome in higher difficulty games, such as those using Gritty Realism variant rules.

Crusher (5) – If you prefer hammers, mauls, and other bludgeoning weapons and have an odd Strength or Constitution this is a great feat. The ability to push your enemies around and give your allies, and potentially yourself, advantage against creatures you crit is a significant boost to your Paladin without draining their limited spell slots.

Eldritch Adept (3) – This can be a great way to round out a specific kind of build you’re aspiring to, some examples include grabbing Devil’s Sight for a party that likes to use Darkness and Fog Cloud (or you are playing a race without darkvision), or taking Fiendish Vigor to add more durability to your tank Paladin.

Fey Touched (3) – If you want Misty Step and have an odd Charisma this is great value, however it is slightly less valuable to Ancients and Vengeance Paladins, who gain access to Misty Step as an Oath Spell.

Fighting Initiate (5) – Gaining a second Fighting Style can be a big power boost to your build, especially as you can pick any Fighting Style, instead of being restricted by the Paladin’s normal selection of styles. Alternatively, you can use this feat to take a more traditional, combat-orientated Fighting Style, whilst taking Blessed Warrior as your Paladin style to gain access to cantrips.

Gunner (2) – You have no reason to specialize in ranged weapons, but this being a Dex half feat makes it low cost for Dexadins, and if guns are available don’t you want one?

Metamagic Adept (3) – Being able to use Quickened or Twinned Spell can greatly enhance your spellcasting, allowing you to cast Bless as a bonus action and still attack for example, or heal two party members with a single casting of Cure Wounds.

Piercer (5) – If you’re a fan of the morningstar, lance, rapier, or any other piercing weapon this amounts to a small damage boost on average and even more impressive crits! The low cost, every turn useability of this feat pushes it to a 5. 

Poisoner (3) – Whilst being very niche, this warrants a 3 as it’s essential for making a viable character build that revolves around poison use, without trying to anticipate the six seconds before combat is about to break out.

Shadow Touched (3) – Picking up Invisibility and one other spell whilst you increase an odd Charisma score is a good utility boost for a Paladin. You can’t go wrong with this half feat, but it’s only really recommended if Invisibility interests you.

Skill Expert (4) – Superb half feat, whilst it doesn’t necessarily make you a better combatant, it allows you to progress your stats whilst gaining a significant boost to your skills. Generally useful skills to choose or enhance with this feat include Inves

Slasher (5) – If you favor slashing weapons like longswords, scimitars, and great axes this feat gives you a great way to hinder the mobility of your enemies and adds a nasty debuff when you crit, to add insult to smite-based injury.

Telekinetic (2) – A potentially useful bit of battlefield control and utility, however, best taken when your party can create hazards to push enemies into, or your character concept requires it. Note: you don’t need to use this to push enemies away, you can pull allies out of melee range without them provoking an opportunity attack as they’re able to willingly fail the save.

Telepathic (1) – A roleplay-orientated feat, but with very niche benefits. Only take this for roleplay reasons or if your party is aiming for no verbal communication at all, like a psionically enabled strike force.

FToD Feats

Gift of the Chromatic Dragon (3) – A solid damage boost for the harder encounter you come across on any given day, or when you’re out of spell slots, and a great reaction defense. This is a good feat but only hits a 3 because of how hotly contested a Paladin’s ASIs already are, and the limited use of the damage ability. Best for variant humans, later levels, and gifted feats.

Gift of the Metallic Dragon (4) – The AC boost pairs well with the durable and protecting roles of a Paladin, whilst the Cure Wounds is surprisingly nice. By learning the spell through this feat you no longer need to prepare it, whilst still being able to use your spell slots and Charisma for it.

Gift of the Gem Dragon (4) – A good retributive use of your reaction, whilst rounding out your Charisma. 

Multiclassing your Paladin

In this section, we’ll review each class in terms of how well they multiclass with Paladin, mentioning how many levels and what subclass (if any) would work best. The ratings take multiclassing prerequisites into consideration; if a multiclass will require you to have a 13 in a stat other than Str or Cha, it will likely receive a lower score unless the stat is one you would already have at 13 or higher, for example, Dexterity on a Dexadin.

General multiclass tips for the Paladin:

  • The multiclass prerequisites for a Paladin are  Str and Cha scores of 13 or higher, this means multiclassing is easier for a Strength-based Paladin than a Dexadin. Multiclassing a Dexadin is still viable, but it will make you more MAD and require an investment in Strength you may not really use otherwise.
  • Due to the Paladin being a half caster with Lay on Hands scaling with each level, taking levels in another class can significantly delay your Paladin progress, because of this it’s important to consider when deciding how many levels, or when to take those levels. For example, you may want to ask yourself the question “do I have enough Lay on Hands points to take 3 levels of Fighter, and still effectively heal my allies during that time?” Your answer may push you towards another level or two of Paladin first or encourage you to jump straight to Fighter.
  • If your primary interest in Paladin is using Divine Smite taking levels in any fullcaster class will give you a much faster spell slot progression to fuel those smites.
  • Some popular jumping points for the Paladin class are 2nd level when you have Divine Smite and Spellcasting, 5th level when you have Extra Attack, and 6th level when you have all of those features and your Aura of Protection.
  • Features which increase your critical hit range, or give you advantage are desirable for a Paladin, as you can choose to use Divine Smite after you’ve seen it’s a critical hit.

Artificer (2) – Making your own magic items and gaining access to spells which a Paladin wouldn’t normally is a large increase in the utility, and potentially the power, of a Paladin. However, requiring an Int of 13 is a steep cost for a MAD character and you would have to go two levels in to gain Infusions, making this a very niche combination. Note: The Artificer has a unique spellcasting progression that increases your spellcasting level by 1 when you take a level in it, despite having similar spellcasting to a half caster like the Paladin. This means the spell slot gain is the same with a level of Artificer as it would be with a level of Cleric, Wizard, etc. If you take this class to third level, Armorer, specifically the Guardian form, is recommended for the temporary HP and Thunder Gauntlets.

Barbarian (4) – Excellent for those looking to make a durable Paladin or a grappling Paladin, the small damage boost is a nice bump, but minor overall. This class is rewarding for anywhere between a 1-3 dip depending on what you’re looking for, with two levels bringing Reckless Attack and Danger Sense adding a lot of value to your build. If you choose to go three levels in, Totem (Bear) is a huge durability boost, Zealot gives you a damage boost, and Path of the Beast offers a mix of defense and offense with the tail and claws. If you’re looking to build a tank that holds the attention of enemies, the Ancestral Guardian subclass is an excellent pick. This is only held back from being a 5 due to locking you out of spells mid-combat when you’re raging and discouraging you from wearing heavy armor whilst being a Strength-based character.

Bard (3) – Best for support Paladins who focus on Charisma, this class will allow any Paladin to perform as a competent skill monkey with access to an additional skill, Jack of All Trades, and Expertise depending on how many levels you take in the class. This is all in addition to the utility/support spells which the Bard primarily gains access to, and the increase in your spell slot progression. If you choose to gain a subclass from this multiclass the recommended options for combat are the College of Swords, which gives you maneuver style uses for your Bardic Inspiration dice, and a second Fighting Style, or the College of Whispers which gives you a Divine Smite-like use for the same dice. If you want to further your side job as a skill monkey or want access to certain spells, the College of Lore grants you unrestricted spell choices and additional Expertise. This class is only rated a 3 as it doesn’t make you better at being a Paladin in general, whilst giving you smaller Hit Dice.

Cleric (3) – Whilst MAD, Wisdom is a good tertiary stat to have some investment in, and gaining a subclass at Cleric level 1 and Channel Divinity the following level makes this a potent, front-loaded dip. The subclass you choose is important here and should be dictated by what role you are trying to strengthen; a dip into Life Cleric will make you a very potent healer when combined with Lay on Hands, choosing the War Domain can allow you to do more nova damage with bonus action attacks, and the Forge Domain allows you to create your own magic weapon. The viability of this multiclass is entirely dependent on your ability scores and your priorities, depending on your build this can be very valuable.

Druid (2) – This is only worth it if you already have the necessary Wisdom and there are Druid-specific spells that really interest you. You’ll still get a faster scaling of your spell slots, but you need to take at least two levels to gain a substantial benefit. If you do take two levels, you’ll gain access to Wild Shape, which can be fantastic as a way to scout, and a subclass. Recommended subclasses are Circle of Dreams for access to bonus action healing, and Circle of Stars for a variety of benefits including Guidance, a bonus to healing, or an easier time maintaining concentration.

Fighter (5) – With synergistic multiclassing requirements, and goodies at every level which actively enhance the core martial identity of the Paladin. The hard thing here is to stop yourself from taking more levels with how packed full of features the Fighter levels are. Anywhere between one and four levels are recommended depending on what you’re looking to gain, with a two-level dip giving you a huge power increase with a second Fighting Style, Second Wind, and Action Surge. Importantly the Fighter adds more short rest resources to the Paladin, improving their endurance on longer, or harder, adventuring days. Recommended subclasses include the Battle Master for versatility and added damage, for example using Trip Attack to add more damage on your first attack and potentially advantage on your subsequent attack, and Samurai which can give you advantage at will three times per long rest, allowing you to increase your chances of hitting and getting critical hits for smiting. If you take Samurai and use Fighting Spirit, it is best to also use your Action Surge to maximize the value of Fighting Spirit.

Monk (1) – Incredibly MAD, requiring four stats of 13 or higher, this multiclass is hampered further by the Monk relying on their Ki pool and multiple features not functioning in armor. Whilst this could be done, without rolling very high stats it’s generally advisable to avoid this multiclass. If you do choose to take a Monk dip and gain a subclass Kensei, Sun Soul, and Long Death are recommended. This is because all of these subclasses have abilities that are not reliant on spending Ki, allowing you to save your few Ki points for Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, or Step of the Wind as you see fit.

Ranger (1) – Avoid unless you really want to mix these two classes for roleplay purposes, this combination has the same MADness at the Monk, whilst giving you little benefit. The result of this is requiring at least two levels, primarily gaining a second FIghting Style and Ranger spells. If you do choose to go for a Ranger subclass Gloom Stalker is highly recommended for the additional attack on the first round of every combat, as well as a slew of other benefits.

Rogue (3) – Best for Dexadins and Strength-based Paladins who either use two weapons or a shield, as they are incentivized to use finesse weapons for their own reasons. The addition of Sneak Attack is a relatively minor damage increase for a multiclass dip, I would recommend dipping into Rogue primarily for the Expertise, Thieves’ Tools proficiency, and Cunning Action. If you choose to gain a Rogue subclass, Swashbuckler has a lot of synergy with your Charisma and enables you to be an effective skirmisher without needing to rely on Cunning Action to Disengage. Arcane Trickster can be of great value to a Paladin, increasing your spellcaster level whilst giving you access to Wizard spells like Shield and Absorb Elements.

Sorcerer (5) – This multiclass is referred to as a Sorcadin and is very popular in the optimization community for builds focusing on using Divine Smite. Like the Bard, Sorcerer synergizes well with your Charisma spellcasting, unlike the Bard it provides a subclass at first level and access to spells like Shield and Magic Missile to strengthen your defenses and cover your ranged weakness. Taking Sorcerer levels is a rewarding process, with something for you at each level, much like Fighter the hard part here is getting yourself to stop as the Sorcery Points and spell slots mount up. Divine Soul is highly recommended as a subclass for giving you an additional spell, access to Charisma-based Cleric spells like Healing Word and Spiritual Weapons, and a great short rest offensive/defensive buff in Favored by the Gods. Another great choice is the Clockwork Soul subclass, which gives you the ability to cancel out advantage or disadvantage, an ability that scales with your proficiency bonus, a nice touch for a multiclassed character. Two levels will give the ability to create an additional 1st level spell slot once per long rest, and three levels will give you access to Metamagic, allowing you to do things like cast a spell as a bonus action.

Warlock (5) – Similar to the Sorcerer this combination has a catchy name, the Pallock or Padlock, with a focus on the short rest spell slots which the Warlock provides fueling Divine Smite for the most part. Being a Charisma spellcaster with a subclass at first level makes Warlock a very potent dip, with Invocations adding a lot of potential to a Paladin. Invocations to consider if you’re taking two levels include Fiendish VIgor for at-will temp HP generation, Devil’s Sight for those without darkvision or looking to gain advantage from Darkness, or Eldritch Smite for those taking five or more levels and looking to double smite. Recommended patrons for a Paladin are the Hexblade to make yourself mostly Cha SAD, gain a damage bump from Hexblade’s Curse, and access to Shield, and the Celestial for access to bonus action healing and a Charisma-based Guiding Bolt.

Wizard (2) – The small Hit Die and requirement of Intelligence are difficult to overcome, but if Wizard suits your character concept there is some value to be had here. The faster spell slot progression and Arcane Recovery make you a Divine Smite machine, whilst access to defensive spells like Shield and Absorb Elements is welcome on every character. Try and focus on spells that don’t require your Int modifier and rituals to expand your utility. If you take two levels the best choice for a Paladin is the War Wizard, which gives you an at-will Shield-like ability or an excellent +4 to a saving throw with the drawback of not being able to cast a leveled spell not hindering your smiting arm in the least.

Do you feel it, adventurer? The divine light beckons you, nay, chooses you to live by a sacred oath. We hope you’ve found this guide emboldening on your path to vanquish evil, or depending on your subclass, glory! If you’re interested in playing a Paladin, check out our in-depth guide to playing a Vengeance Paladin. Until next time, remember, there’s nothing in your adventuring life that can’t be fixed with liberal use of Divine Smite and Lay on Hands, maybe even in real life too! Looking at you, dishes.

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