Dungeons & Dragons: All Paladin Subclasses, From Most Powerful To Most Powerful
Paladins are conceptually and mechanically one of the coolest subgenres in Dungeons & Dragons, all thanks to their iconic oath.
Dungeons and Dragons: Glory Among Thieves finally gives longtime fans of the series a real blockbuster feel for their favorite fantasy setting. With all the hype surrounding the movie in 2023, there will be a flood of new players trying this fabled board game.
Paladins are one of the most interesting classes in RP, thanks to their oaths being closely tied to their mechanics. Plus, no one would turn down a career that strikes enemies with divine power. While paladins are inherently powerful, some subclasses are better at striking than others.
As a statement of how powerful paladins are, their "weakest" subclass is still pretty strong. Those who follow a royal vow dedicate themselves to a sovereign state or leader. Their life is the law. Champion Challenge forces the creature to duel the Paladin, and on a failed save they cannot move more than 30 feet. Turn the Tide is a moderately effective party treat.
Divine Allegiance makes Crown paladins take damage instead of their allies (in melee range). The unyielding saint has advantage on saving throws against paralysis or daze. Capstone, Exalted Champion, resists non-magical weapons, Allies have advantage on death saving throws, while paladins have advantage on Wisdom saving throws. Good trait, but not as consistently reliable as other subclasses Paladins have.
The Oath of Redemption is a tough road, and it's not just for taste. Flavor-wise, it's the exact opposite of what a typical battle party wants to do. Salvation paladins are technically pacifist, only doing justice to the undead or the truly irredeemable. Otherwise, they must find a peaceful solution to the problems of intelligent beings. They are badass priests.
Peacemaker gives a modest bonus to Charisma checks for 10 minutes, which is a great boon for diplomats. Rebuke violence deals radiant damage to creatures that attack another in front of them. Guardian Aura lets Redemption Paladins take damage instead of their allies, while Protect Soul ensures they don't die as a result. Redeemer grants permanent resistance to all creatures, as long as the Paladin itself does not retaliate in any way. It's a strong subclass, but doesn't take full advantage of the Paladin's core bash mechanic.
Paladins often gain a reputation for wearing armor, and those who keep their oath Members of Glory are bound to lean into this stereotype. These paladins value action, strength, and a great story to tell. The Peerless Athlete grants them strength and agility bonuses that showcase their honed bodies. Inspiring Smite is a moderately effective team heal that can be done as a bonus action after Divine Smite.
The joy aura has a fixed increase in the movement speed of people in the aura. In response, Glorious Defense grants an AC bonus (similar to the pseudoshield spell) after an ally is hit, and the paladin has a chance to hit them with a weapon attack. Living Legend grants a supernatural charm, automatically succeeds once per turn, and rerolls the saving throw for free as a reaction. Glory certainly lives up to its name, but unsurprisingly, is more selfish than helpful to one side. Think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, but with dangerous magical powers.
Making Deals with the Dark Side is a depraved example of a mighty champion of hate. Controlling the Undead is, as it is called, an ability that forces undead within its range to fall into the servitude of the Oathbreaker. scary face in Enemy's heart, let them be afraid. The aura of hatred provides a melee damage boost to the Oathbreaker as well as any undead and demons within the aura's range.
Supernatural resistance resists all nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. The dreadlord darkens the area around the oathbreaker, dealing psychic damage to frightened creatures trapped within it at the start of each turn. When an attack is made against an Oathbreaker, darkness puts the attack at a disadvantage. Finally, as a bonus action, Shadow Spike deals severe necrotic damage to creatures within the area. Essentially, this is a subclass of Darth Vader.
The Warden's Oath is a guardian against otherworldly threats. Thus, they not only hone their bodies, but also their minds and spirits, making them unshakable. Warden's Will grants the paladin and his allies advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws. Abandoning an outsider transforms an otherworldly creature on a failed save.
The Sentinel's aura is their strongest support feature, providing a flat bonus to the initiative of the Paladin and its allies. Vigilant Rebuke pairs well with Watcher's Will, dealing force field damage to creatures dealing with mind intrusion first. A mortal bulwark provides true vision, advantages against otherworldly foes, and the ability to banish foes to their original planes.
Ironically, Conan the Barbarian more than any other subclass conforms to the principles of conquest of paladins. Conquering the aura makes creatures in the area fear the paladin's aura. Guided Strike ensures that the paladin's strikes are real, giving a +10 bonus to attack rolls. Conquest Aura reduces the speed of frightened creatures to 0. Finally, the Invincible Conqueror provides resistance to all damage, additional attacks, and the key to improvement. A powerful subclass that makes enemies kneel in fear.
They are Paladins of Vengeance. The bad guy probably killed their father. They should be prepared to die. Like Inigo Montoya, these vengeful paladins seek to right the wrongs of the wicked, even at the expense of their souls. Abandoning an Enemy terrifies a creature within range and reduces its movement speed to 0. Oath of Enmity grants the paladin advantage on attack rolls made against a specific target until the target dies or unconscious.
Relentless Avenger makes Vengeful Paladins fearsome pursuers, making them move at half speed after a successful chance attack. Vengeful Spirit adds a reaction attack to the Oath of Hate function when the target attacks. Finally, the Angel of Avengers bestows angelic wings, as well as a menacing aura that threatens all within the paladin's aura. For single-minded rage, there's no better subclass.
Oath of Devotion is a Paladin classic. They're the exemplar of all things good, and while they do it in different ways, they're pretty much the two shoes one character can do. Holy Weapons infuse their weapons with holy magic, dealing bonus damage over 1 minute. Turn the Unholy Dispels fiends and undead within range, forcing them to flee.
Consecration auras share the paladin's will with their allies, making them immune to Charms while conscious. Purity of Spirit permanently grants the Paladin the effects of the Protection from Evil and Good spell. The Holy Nimbus makes the devout paladin a shining beacon of hope, dealing radiant damage to enemies and gaining advantage on saving throws against demons and undead.
The legendary Green Knight, those who follow The oath of the ancients is dedicated to not obeying the principles of goodness of "mortals". Instead, they are committed to preserving all that is good in nature in any way they know how. Wrath of Nature entangles enemies in ghostly vines, binding them. Dispel Faithless Dispels fey or demons within range, forcing them to flee.
Guardian aura is without a doubt the trait that breaks the boundaries of ancient creatures. They grant the Paladin and its allies resistance to spell damage. Whistle of Undying gives Paladins a chance to reduce their health from 0 to 1 during each long rest, provided they are not killed directly. The Elder Champion blends paladins with nature, granting them regenerative abilities and bonus action spells, and putting creatures that take saving throws against said spells at a disadvantage. These features are incredible in any class, but putting them on the Paladin takes it beyond the edge.
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