the paladin's handbook

the paladin’s handbook

by Dimitris Raviolos


why paladin?

If someone asked me to bet on the player's handbook class that most people would either love or hate, my money would be on the Paladin class. Most people have different feelings about it, but one thing is for sure: they are strong ones. Usually selected by new players, thinking that they will be able to play their dream-knight in shinning armor able to slay dragons, unfortunately they are usually left with a bitter disappointment.

The term paladin existed historically and has a slightly different meaning than its dungeons and dragons counterpart. According to wikipedia:

In the medieval chanson de geste cycle of the Matter of France, the paladins or Twelve Peers are the twelve foremost knights of Charlemagne’s court, comparable to the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian romance.[1] They represent the valour of Christian chivalry against the Saracen invasion of Europe. […] The term paladin is from Old French, ultimately from Latin palātīnus, the title given to the closest retainers of the Roman emperors.

In this guide i will try to explore the paladins and provide as many information as possible on them and hopefully, give the characters’ of the readers a strong combat edge for their knightly adventures.

moral dilemmas

Traditionally, in the previous editions of dungeons and dragons, the paladin was the base class out of player's handbook that had the most strict alignment restriction. Thankfully, starting with the 3rd edition and 4th editions, this alignment restriction was slowly lifted and thus, paladins no longer are required to be of the lawful good alignment and to uphold the tenents of good and order.

They do however have a sacred oath that they have to follow and each one of them has its own tenets. A paladin who breaks his oath may atone, by seeking absolution from a cleric who shares his faith, or from a paladin from the same order. However, for paladins who are impenitent, there’s also the oathbreaker paladin option that appears in the dungeon master's guide.

Still, history is a very strong thing and people might still hold the position that paladins should be lawful good champions of what is true; for this reason I’d like to remind you that according to the player's handbook, page 122:

These brief summaries of the nine alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuais might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.

I have encountered people with different opinions on alignments that range from indifference to extremism. My personal view on alignment is that it’s a good mechanic to determine the outcome of certain spells and effects and to give your character a roleplay direction. However, it is not a good mechanic to use if you want to resolve philosophical arguments on ethics or determine which NPC you should punish.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that investigates questions like “Is this action right or wrong?”. Philosophers like Plato, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzche have been trying to resolve questions like this for thousands or years. Based on these facts, it’s understandable that these ethical questions are not going to be solved by the alignment system.

The problem here lies in the simplicity of the alignment system. It uses two axes - good/evil and law/chaos, which is suitable for a fantasy game like Dungeons and Dragons; the alignment system tries to make choices simple and not complicated.

Thus, I feel that removing the mechanical implications from the paladin in this 5th edition (e.g. code of conduct) was the right thing to do, as the simplicity of the alignment system and the ambiguity of the code didn’t mix well.

If you want to play a paladin and your party is cool about it, then great. If you feel that your dungeon master or teammates are punishing you because of your class choice, this is not cool and you should have a talk about it. Remind them that, according to the rules, alignment is not meant to restrict your character and that it should not be taken far too seriously. You are playing a paladin for style after all, you are not


Below is a list of resources that I used during the creation of this guide. They might contain opinions different than my own, but you could use them in order to get another point of view for your character.

Statblocks generated with statblock5e.


Determining the attribute spread for your character might feel a little daunting at first and with good reason - because paladins are a little bit of everything, they have some spellcasting, they are fighters, they get to be the face of the party and finally have some class features that boost the party.

To best determine what would be the best ability stat array for a paladin, two questions have to be answered first. One, what’s the starting level and two, how much will this campaign last.

It’s all about practical optimization. Yes, all paladins would benefit from having 20 charisma instead of 14 charisma, but a more balanced approach would be more beneficial to a paladin starting from level 1 or 2, compared to spending most of your point buy points to a single stat.

A paladin that is less than level 6 doesn’t care all that much about how high his charisma is, aside from a small bonus to his charisma-related skills or a low level spell that allows for a saving throw; low levels are all about your fighting style and divine smite.

Another example - a paladin starting on level 16 would afford a full plate and would completely dump dexterity; whereas a lower level paladin would most probably have to compromise by getting a score of about 14 in dexterity and donning a breastplate.

Finally, with the introducting of the items that don’t boost the attributes, but they set them to a certain score, it’s now possible to completely dump an attribute that would otherwise be dimmed as important.


The paladin class already offers access to heavy armor, so you need to at least spend some points to make the strength requirement, if you want to use them. Strength is most likely to determine the attack and damage roll of your weapon, there are a lot of good melee options available to paladins, since they get proficiency with all weapons. Paladins also get heavy armor proficiency and most high level armor options have a minimum strength requirement.


In this edition of dungeons and dragons boosts a lot of different options; you use it to determine your attack and damage rolls with certain weapons (ranged or finesse ones), initiative, armor class and dexterity saves, which occur quite often. So switching to dexterity for your primary fighting attribute would be an option open to the paladin, but, alas, divine smite doesn’t work with ranged weapons.


I would argue that no matter the character, this is the most important attribute. It will bump a paladdin’s constitution checks, including some important saves versus petrification, death and poison as well as concentration checks.


This is the attribute that a paladin may safely dump, it is quite rare as a saving throws and there is little synergy with features and skills.


It used to be that the paladin casted spells using the wisdom attribute. However, the 5th edition paladin uses charisma as a base attribute for their spells, which is important for reducing multiple attribute dependency. Now, paladins are also proficient in wisdom saving throws, which appears quite often. It’s tempting to completely dump this attribute and it is possible, but note that there are a couple of useful skills that are boosted by wisdom, like insight and perception.

A paladin has high charisma synergy via his class features. This determines the save DC of his spells, the number of uses of cleansing touch and diving sense, the power of aura of protection and finally, it boosts a lot of skills that are based on charisma, like intimidation or persuation. This is the main attribute of a paladin, so it’s the highest priority.

dexterity builds

I need to acknowledge that it is possible to play a ranged paladin or a paladin that uses two weapon fighting or a paladin that just wants to wield a finesse weapon. This has been a trope in all the previous guides that I’ve read on the paladin class for the 5th edition, that you can do a dexterity-based paladin build and while I think it’s true, I won’t do it.

The main reason for this is that, while I was organizing my notes in order to write this guide, it felt like I was writing two different guides - one for a dexterity build and one for a “normal” build. I was planning to review races or feats solely due to the fact that they fit this dexterity trope and then I knew that I needed to not lose focus and stay on course.

Thus, I am going to completely skip dexterity builds; I feel there is a niche for them, but people who read this are predominantly interested in playing a knight in an armor, not a tumbling swashbuckler.




There are a few of the abilities that dwarves provide that overlap with the class features that the class provides, for example dwarven combat training is completely redundant to a class that already has all the proficiencies and the same holds for the ability that mountain dwarves have, namely dwarven armor training. I understand that this race was designed with the idea that whatever the class, a dwarf is able to don heavy armor and use the race’s signature weapons.

However, the dwarf race offers some benefits to a paladin. For starters, it has some useful defensive features, such as the +2 constitution score and dwarven resilience.

Another thing is that dwarves don’t get reduced speed for wearing heavy armor, even though their starting speed is 5ft less to somewhat offset thing bonus, so a paladin that plans on eventually wearing full plate armor or half plate armor offsets the speed penalty.

  • hill dwarf PHB: Wisdom bonus and more hit points. Decent choice if you want to be a dwarf, but mountain dwarf is a slightly better choice.
  • mountain dwarf PHB: One of the rare races that provides a +2 bonus to two attributes, boosting both strength and constitution. Unfortunately aside from sheer numbers, it doesn’t offer anything else, as dwarven armor training is completely redundant for a paladin.
  • gray dwarves (durgar) SCAG: Even though they get a good package with bonuses to strength, resistances to illusions and charm via duergar resilience and magic, sunlight sensitivity is too harsh.


Unfortunately, there’s not much that the elf race offers for a paladin build. They do have proficiency in the perception skill via the keen senses feature, they are resistant to sleep magic and against being charmed via fey ancestry and finally they are able to benefit from a long rest after only 4 hours of sleep, because of their trance ability, but that’s basically it.

A paladin would probably benefit from the dexterity bonus if the campaign starts at the low levels, but it’s not a very good fit.

  • high elf PHB: High elves have intelligence synergy, which is a dump stat for a paladin.
  • wood elf PHB: This subrace is a bit similar to dwarves, in the sense that due to the increased walking speed, the heavy armor proficiency will be offset. However, no other feature that the race provides would be useful to a paladin build.
  • dark elf (drow) PHB: Drow do have some charisma synergy, as they boost charisma, albeit at just +1, and have some spells that use charisma as the spellcating ability via their drow magic ability. However, sunlight sensitivity is really harsh and even without it there are far better choices for a paladin than these.


Features-wise, halflings are something between an elf and a dwarf. On the one side they are clearly dexterity based, but they have some good defensive features, like lucky, which is incredibly potent.

lucky might be good to warrant picking halfling for a paladin build, however the rest of the race features do not have good synergy with the class, even for dexterity based builds.

  • lightfoot PHB: The charisma ability score increase is good, but naturally stealthy is weird.
  • stout PHB: Having stout resilience seems good, but the dwarf race offers pretty much the same thing, but with better attribute bonuses.


The human race is all about maximizing your attributes, since they get a +1 bonus to all of them.

By being a human you can do 14/10/14/11/14/16 or 14/14/14/11/14/14, which is probably the most optimal spreads for a 27 point buy and as such it’s perfect for a paladin in a low-level adventure.

However, besides that, it doesn’t offer all that much; there are no other special abilities.

The variant human is an option that’s probably the best race in the game, second to none.

It’s the only race that offers the choice of a feat and that is available from level 1. Other races need to wait until level 4 to acquire a certain feat. As there are builds that require one or two feats to be effective, the variant human is able to bring the build online 4 levels earlier, which is a lot.

Additionally, variant human offers a free skill and two ability score improvements to any two attributes. The attributes is going to be some combination of strength/constitution/charisma and the free skill is probably going to be perception. This, coupled with the feat is probably the most that it’s possible to get out of a race.



dragonborns were probably created with the intent of becoming paladins. They have a dragon theme and they also are associated with Bahamut, the lawful good god of dragons.

They receive bonuses to strength and charisma, which is very good. They also have the feature damage resistance, which makes them resistance to the damage type associated with their draconic ancestry. Resistance to damage, especially for a type that appears often, like fire, is a very good thing to have, defensively.

dragonborn characters have a breath weapon, which has a constitution based save DC and additionally scales according to the dragonborn’s level. This feature is not powerful, but it’s helpful during the lower levels and additionally it’s rechargeable after a short or a long rest.

dragonborn characters have access to the dragon fear XGtE, a feat which provides an ability score improvement to one of the important paladin attributes (strength, constitution or charisma) and it makes it able to roar instead of using the breath weapon, with a charisma based save DC. Creatures who fail this check become frightened, which makes this ability quite good, because it makes a dragonborn character use its breath weapon during the higher levels.

Another feat available to dragonborns is dragon hide XGtE, which unfortunately is mediocre.

Arguably second only to the variant human, the half-elf is a race that is able to provide ability score improvements to all attributes necessary to a paladin (+1 strength/+1 constitution/+2 charisma).

They have some of the abilities that the elves have, like darkvision or fey ancestry, but their real power comes from the ability to gain proficiency in two skills of their choice via skill versatility.

  • aquatic SCAG: Instead of skill versatility, gain a swimming speed of 30ft. This is very useful in an aquatic campaign and it most definitely is a worthy trade.
  • drow SCAG: This depends a bit on the starting level of the character. At the early levels the ability to cast faerie fire is very helpful, as it’s a source of attack roll advantage. In later levels, the skills are better.
  • wood SCAG: The most useful ability from the list is most certainly fleet of foot, which will help to offset the heavy armor penalty to a paladin build, pretty much like dwarves.
  • high/moon SCAG: Marked blue only for the ability to get the cantrip feature. There are quite a few utility options here that make the extra two skills obsolete; for instance, prestidigitation is a very useful cantrip. There are also booming blade SCAG and green fire blade SCAG, but these do not work with the extra attacks that the paladin class gets.


half-orcs are a good choice for a paladin that wants to focus more on the martial side of the class; they get ability score improvements in strength and constitution, a free skill and darkvision, but they are interesting because of the other two racial abilities that they have: relentless endurance and savage attacks.

The first has a bit of synergy with the class features of a paladin, as instead of being reduced to 0 hit points, the character gets to act again and he’ll be able to recover a bit of hit points by using the lay on hands ability.

The second only applies to critical hits and it shouldn’t come into play very often, but it’s nice to have.


A paladin won’t get the same mileage from tieflings that they’ll get by variant human or half-elf, however, they can be at least decent.

The highlights of this race are that it boosts charisma and has resistance to fire damage via hellish resistance. It also offers some low-level spellcasting based on charisma, including thaumaturgy cantrip and the hellish rebuke spell.

  • feral SCAG: Moving the ability score increase from charisma to dexterity, this tiefling variant loses too much focus from what is important.
  • devil's tongue SCAG: It is pretty much the same with the basic tiefling, but it has some changed spells. The two alternatives are equal, but you may get some usefulness out of vicious mockery.
  • hellfire SCAG: As above, the two alternatives are equal and won’t make a difference later in the game, except from the level you acquire this and for a couple after. I prefer hellish rebuke compared to burning hands though.
  • winged SCAG: No spells, but for the price of infernal legacy feature, this tiefling subrace gets flight that is always on. This is simply too good.
  • levistus MToF: Interesting because of the ray of frost cantrip, which provides a ranged attack option to the paladin that is charisma based. Instead of intelligence, a tiefling descended from Levistus increases its constitution. This subrace also gets to cast armor of agathys, which is a good defensive spell for a frontliner in the first few levels.
  • zariel MToF: Charisma and strength increases, as well as two free smite spells: branding smite and fiery smite, which take only a bonus action to cast, so they’ll be useful for many levels.


Like their devilish counterparts, tieflings, they seem to be a little behind in terms of power compared to the half-elf or the variant human, however they still are a decent choice for a paladin.

aasimars have two resistances to damage to the radiant and necrotic types via celestial resistance, which will not come into play as often as resistance to fire does.

They also have an ability that’s similar to the paladin’s lay on hands ability, called healing hands and they can cast the light cantrip.

  • protector VGtM: The feature radiant soul gives them the ability to fly for a little bit and it increases their damage, however the boost to wisdom doesn’t make this subrace attractive.
  • scourge VGtM: This subrace boosts constitution which is far more useful to a paladin, however the transformation ability doesn’t enable the aasimar to fly. Instead they deal damage equal to half their level to nearby enemies, which is decent, but not anything spectacular.
  • fallen VGtM: The evil aasimar gets an ability score increase to strength and an ability named necrotic shroud; unfortunately, this doesn’t enable the aasimar to fly, but it makes it able to make nearbly enemies frightened and it has a charisma based save DC. During the transformation, once during its turn, the aasimar may deal extra necrotic damage equal to its level. I would rank this subrace higher, because it has the highest synergy with the paladin abilities, however due to the fluff it seems to be restricted only to certain oaths, like oathbreaker or oath of vengeance.

class features

All in all, the paladin class has a good package. The hit die is a standard d10 that most martial classes get and it’s second only to that of the barbarian class.


Proficiency with all weapons, all armor and shields gives the paladin class some versatility, unfortunately they don’t receive any tools proficiencies.

It starts to get a bit weird when you look at the saving throw proficiencies that the paladin gets. In this edition, the paladin class may add his proficiency bonus on wisdom and charisma checks. Now both of them are quite important, for instance, wisdom appears the most number of times as a saving throw, probably right after dexterity. Charisma isn’t as popular, but it’s used to avoid some debilittating effects, so it can be very useful to a paladin.

However, the saving throw that is missing from the core paladin chassis is quite possibly constitution, which even though is understandable, as the starting classes from player's handbook receive one basic saving throw (dexterity, constitution or wisdom) and a secondary one (strength, intelligence or charisma), would be more than welcome, because a paladin is both a character with a place in the frontline and a spellcaster. Both of these roles benefit from a proficiency with constitution checks, because they need to be able to resist physical effects that warrant one, like saves versus poison or death and it’d help them with concentration checks.

Thankfully, there are ways around this restriction and one of them is actually built into the class. Starting with level 6, paladins get access to aura of protection, a class feature that enables them to add their charisma modifier to any saving throw they make.

A paladin gets two skills from his base class, but he may extend the list by carefully selecting a background or a race.

Speaking of backgrounds, there’s a certain rule on page 125 of player's handbook:

If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead.

You can use this rule to your advantage when picking up a background. Most of the backgrounds offer a standard set of skills, so if you pick a background which offers two skills that you’ve already picked from the paladin list, then you are free to pick any two other skill proficiencies.

One of the most useful skills in the paladin arsenal, the athletics skill will prove to be useful when you attempt to climb, swim, jump, force a lock open, or generally do something that requires a lot of strength. In addition, strength will enable you to use the grapple and shove actions, which are both very useful for battlefield control, especially during the early levels. Finally, this is important even if you are on the defensive, as these maneuvers are resisted either by dexterity(acrobatics) or by strength(athletics).


Useful skill for trying to determine the true intentions of someone. Unfortunately this falls under the wisdom category, which is not going to be your strongest one. I’ve met a lot of dungeon masters that reward high rolls of this skill with a lot of useful information; if you think that your dungeon master is one of these types, then get it, even if your wisdom score is low.


In the 3.5 edition this used to be an important asset for the classes that had charisma synergy. Unfortunately, now you cannot use it to demoralize your opponents - it provides only non-mechanical functions that can be used outside the battle mostly. Still, this will give your paladin a lot of style points, especially for members of certain oaths.0


You can use it to try and stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness. This is situationally useful and the fact that you can use spells or lay on hands to stabilize someone that needs medical attention makes this not the first priority for a paladin.


Like intimidation, it’s no longer useful in battle skill, however it will provide your character with a lot of style points; it’s good to have an aptitude with the activities that people expect a paladin to be proficient with. I consider this better than intimidation, because you can cover most of the things you can do with that by using persuation.


This is the only knowledge skill on the list. You are probably not going to have a high level of intelligence, but it can be useful if you want your paladin to have a more academic approach towards religion.

Other skills that you should be targeting, either provided by your race, background, or using the trick discussed above are:

This is probably the most important skill in the game, just because no matter what class you are, your dungeon master will call for a perception check sooner or later.

divine sense

Unfortunately, even though the starting paladin class feature fits the theme, it’s hard for someone to find a use for it. I think that the creators wanted to have something similar to the 3.5 edition detect evil, to help the paladin select his smite targets more accurately, however, divine smite is already an awesome class feature that applies to everyone, it’s just more potent versus undead and fiends.

divine sense is too restrictive:

  • it costs one action, which isn’t helpful for the action economy.
  • it only lasts until the end of your next turn.
  • it doesn’t work if the creature is behind total cover.

But, ok, you can use it to determine the location and the type of any celestial, fiend or undead that are within 60ft or you, which is quite a large area of effect.

The smart paladin will also note that you don’t need to use this ability only for detecting what creature type another person is, but it can be used to determine what it isn’t. If he uses it in a social interaction with someone and they don’t register as celestial, fiend or undead, then, by deduction, he’s not of these types. Maybe this is not a great deal of information, but it’s something.

Finally, this can be used to determine if a place or object has been consecrated or desecrated, as per the hallow spell.

So, since divine sense lasts until the end of your next turn and since you can use it multiple times per long rest, it’s a good idea to expend your charges, just in case anything good happens. Use it:

  • Whenever you meet a new NPC that seems to be important to the story. He might be hiding something and you should know about it.
  • Every time you are presented with a new MacGuffin, i.e. an item that is not useful, but it drives the plot forward. Maybe this item is cursed or consecrated!
  • If you are in a dungeon and you’re the first one to open the door, use a charge before opening it.
  • It’s useful in crowded situations. For instance, tracking down an enemy that you know is undead or a fiend in an open battlefield.
  • Useful when enemies are hiding in plain sight. Maybe all those dead bodies are actually zombies waiting for you to get closer.

lay on hands

Compared to divine sense, lay on hands is a much better level 1 paladin class feature. Paladins receive a pool of healing equal to their paladin level x 5, which is quite a good amount and they can use it to heal other creatures. In previous editions of dungeons and dragons it used to be that charisma played a role in the amount of healing that the paladin would be able to do with lay on hands, however, this has changed with the 5th edition.

lay on hands has another function: it can be used to cure the target of one disease or neutralize one poison affecting it, but that costs 5 hit points from the pool of healing for each disease or each poison. Do note that multiple diseases can be cured and multiple poisons can be neutralized this way. This used to be a wondrous item in the 3.5 edition of dungeons and dragons, so it’s a good addition to the base class feature: it’s thematic and it makes sense, considering that the paladins are completely immune to diseases via their divine health class feature, starting from level 3.

The best part about lay on hands is that a paladin may spend as much healing power to heal an ally as they see fit, thus there’s no need to spend all the power in one go. This can lead to some interesting interactions, because according to the player's handbook:

When you drop to O hit points, you either die outright or fall unconscious, as explained in the following sections […] lf damage reduces you to O hit points and fails to kill you, you fall unconscious (see appendix A). This unconsciousness ends if you regain any hit points.

Considering that dying outright is difficult, unless the character has one or hit dice, a good tactic would be to ping dying teammates with 1 or just a couple of hit points, as you see fit, especially if they have the means to heal themselves. It’s all about the party’s action economy, if you are able to revive the wizard and he casts a big flashy spell, that’s better than you attacking.

Paladins that are not good may use this as an interogation tactic - the target doesn’t have to be a willing one, so they can hurt a person, heal him and repeat, it would be a neat way of getting the dungeon master to give advantage on the intimidate roll.

Finally this has no effect on undead and constructs.

fighting style

  • defense: Getting a +1 to AC is a solid ability, as increases to AC in the 5th edition are much rarer. However, compared to the other two offensive fighting styles, it’s not all that exciting. Paladins who find themselves unable to pick great weapon fighting because of the Sage ruling and still want to use a two handed weapon, need to compromise with this style, or get protection. Note that interestingly, the +1 bonus to AC is active only while the paladin is wearing armor.
  • dueling: Currently this is the best fighting style, as a +2 to weapon damage is a big bonus. Do note that according to the Sage column, this has been ruled to be compatible with a shield:

Was the “Dueling” fighting style intended to support a shield?

“Dueling” doesn’t scream “shield” at me. A character with the Dueling option usually pairs a one-handed weapon with a shield, spellcasting focus, or free hand. -J

  • great weapon fighting: It used to be that this was the default fighting style fighting style for a paladin, because rerolling the damage dice that turn up 1 or 2 while smitting results in a pretty impressive damage boost. However, Jeremy Crawford of the Sage advice column has ruled that this works only with the weapon damage dice. This is unfortunate, for paladins that want to use two-handed weapons, because according to this answer on stack exchange, the average improvement of a greatsword (the best weapon to use with this fighting style, as it has two damage dice) is only 1 damage more.

If you use Great Weapon Fighting with a feature like Divine Smite or a spell like hex, do you get to reroll any 1 or 2 you roll for the extra damage? The Great Weapon Fighting feature—which is shared by fighters and paladins—is meant to benefit only the damage roll of the weapon used with the feature. For example, if you use a greatsword with the feature, you can reroll any 1 or 2 you roll on the weapon’s 2d6. If you’re a paladin and use Divine Smite with the greatsword, Great Weapon Fighting doesn’t let you reroll a 1 or 2 that you roll for the damage of Divine Smite.

The main purpose of this limitation is to prevent the tedium of excessive rerolls. Many of the limits in the game are aimed at inhibiting slowdowns. Having no limit would also leave the door open for Great Weapon Fighting to grant more of a damage boost than we intended, although the potential for that is minimal compared to the likelihood that numerous rerolls would bog the game down.

  • protection: Paladins do have a lot of class features that are in the form of an aura, hence there will be regularly allies within at least 10ft of him. protection is a good choice if you don’t have anything to use your reaction for; imposing disadvantage on attack rolls is going to stay relevant for lots of levels. Do note that opportunity attacks also use the reaction. Finally, to use this feature a paladin must be carrying a shield.

People may pick this class because it fits their idea of a knight in shinning armor, however, mechanically, divine smite is what this class is all about.

This class feature is so good that many multiclass builds will just dip two levels of paladin just to get it, because, even though it says that you can expend one paladin spell slot, this has been errata’ed:

[New] Divine Smite (p. 85). “Paladin spell slot” has been changed to “spell slot.” The following text has been appended to the last sentence: “, to a maximum of 6d8.”

This makes sense, as all spellcasting classes contribute to the amount of spells that a character receives, thus there are no “paladin-only” spell slots. Additionally, as written in the {{ book “player’s handbook” }}, paladins who spend a level 4 and a level 5 spell receive exactly the same benefit, which is why the cap is increased in the errata.

Another thing to note about divine smite is that it doesn’t actually consume an action; you can make the decision every time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, so if you have more than one attack per round, or even if you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, that attack is eligible for divine smite. Even if you expend a level 1 spell, that’s 2d8 extra radiant damage dice, which is a good amount even for high levels.

Also, since you make the decision to expend the spell slot when you actually hit the target, you never risk of losing the slots by missing the attack. It might not come into play as often, but if you score a critical hit, then you absolutely need to activate divine smite, because of the following rule, from the player's handbook:

When you score a criticai hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack’s damage against the target. […] For example, if you score a criticai hit with a dagger, roll 2d4 for the damage, rather than 1d4, and then add your relevant ability modifier. If the attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as well.

The damage of divine smite increases by 1d8 if the target is an undead or a fiend, which is a good bonus to a class feature which is already a staple one.

On the down side, you can only use melee weapons with divine smite, which is a bit limiting, but being in melee range does have synergy with the auras that the paladin class offers later.

It will quickly become apparent that playing a paladin is an exercise in restraint; it’s very easy to burn through the spell slots really quickly, between buffs, smite spells that can be activated as a bonus action and divine smite. Use your spells with moderation against multiple enemies, however, if you find yourself against a single monster, unleash everything onto it.

divine health

Makes you immune to disease. It’s very good to have straight up immunity to something, but unfortunately diseases are not well defined in the 5th edition.

All the references to disease I could find were:

  • On dungeon master's guide, where three sample diseases are listed: cackle fever, sewer plague and sight rot.
  • Under the description of the spell contagion, there are listed: blinding sicklness, filth fever, flest rot, mindfire and seizure. Paladins are completely immune to this spell, as it’s mentioned in the description that effects that prevent diseases apply specifically to it, as the diseases are considered natural.
  • Under the description of the spell harm. Damage is dealt normally to a paladin, however, the side effect that reduces the hit point maximum of the target is considered a disease and thus paladins are immune to it.

extra attack

Starting at level 5, this ability will allow the paladin to attack twice when using the attack action.

It’s important to remember that, in the 5th edition you can break up your move, as described on player's handbook.

If you take an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks. For example, a fighter who can make two attacks with the Extra Attack feature and who has a speed of 25 feet could move 10 feet, make an attack, move 15 feet, and then attack again.

Also note that, like in 3.5 edition, there are a couple of attach maneuvers that can be used in lieu of an attack. One of these maneuvers is shove:

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

Shove is basically a strength(athletics) check, contested by your opponent’s strength(athletics) or dexterity(acrobatics). If you win the check, the target becomes prone, which is applies the following penalties:

  • A prone creature’s only movement option is to crawl, unless it stands up and thereby ends the condition.
  • The creature has disadvantage on attack rolls.
  • An attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature. Otherwise, the attack roll has disadvantage.

Since with this class feature you can make two attacks per round, consider if you can first shove and then attack to gain advantage on the attack roll. This is especially useful if there are other melee characters in the party, because this way you’ll be able to assist them, too.

aura of protection

At level 6, whenever you or a friendly creature within 10 feet of you must make a saving throw, the creature gains a bonus to the saving throw equal to your charisma modifier.

Needless to say, this ability is powerful and it makes you an asset for the whole team. Level 6 is quite a good cutoff, too, because you get the extra attack, second level spells, increased proficiency and of course, divine smite.

Do note that you need to be consious to use this, but the same isn’t required for your teammates. So, should you need to help a fallen teammate, position yourself close to him.

Buffing spells that are particularly useful as usually marked as duration: concentration. However, while a character is concentrating on a spell, they need to roll a saving throw every time they receive damage, otherwise the spell is lost. The DC equals to 10 or half the damage they take, whichever is higher. Considering that aura of protection boosts the saving throws of a friendly creature, this helps characters that cast buffing spells a lot and pretty much everyone has one of these, e.g. hex, hunter's mark or even bless.

aura of courage

At level 10, the paladin and his teammates cannot be frightened. Frightened is a condition that according to player's handbook:

A frightened creature has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while the source of its fear is within line of sight. The creature can’t willingly move closer to the source of its fear.

Even if this won’t come into play that often, the ability have a straight up immunity to a condition and in an aura to boot, is useful.

improved divine smite

It’s a bonus die of radiant damage whenever the paladin hits a target, regardless if divine smite was used or not.

The point here is that it’s usable more than once each round, assuming additional attacks from extra attack for instance. Compared to other similar abilities, this is much better, because, for instance the divine strike that some of the cleric domains give are usable only once per round.

Remember to use this ability whenever there’s an opportunity attack, extra attack, polearm master etc.

cleansing touch

Beginning at 14th level, you can use your action to end one spell on yourself or on one willing creature that you touch

Fantastic ability. It is simple, allowing a paladin to end a spell effect without a saving throw or a check as a response, yet it is also effective, as after a certain level the spell effects are going to be become increasingly dangerous.

A paladin may use this a number of times per day equal to his charisma modifier, which adds charisma synergy. The uses are regained once they finish a long rest.

aura improvements

Increases the range of aura of protection and aura of courage to 30 feet, which is enough for all the paladin’s allies to receive the auras’ benefit.


sacred oaths

oath of devotion

oath of devotion spells

channel divinity: sacred weapon

Adds the charisma modifier to attack rolls for a minute. Useful ability, especially for the lower levels, where dealing damage consistently is more difficult. Do note that it seems that you still get the normal ability modifier bonuses (strength or dexterity) with your weapon and on top of that you get the charisma modifier bonus, at least I couldn’t find anything against this; compare the wording to that of shillelagh which explicitly mentions that you use the spellcasting ability modifier instead of strength for the weapon.

Additionally the weapon becomes magical for the duration, useful for overcoming damage resistance and it also sheds light.

channel divinity: turn the unholy

Traditionally a paladin is able to turn undead and this ability does exactly that, but it has the added benefit of being able to turn fiends, too.

aura of devotion

purity of spirit

holy nimbus

oath of the ancients

oath of the ancients spells

channel divinity: nature’s wrath

channel divinity: turn the faithless

aura if warding

undying sentinel

elder champion

oath of vengeance

oath of vengeance spells

channel divinity: abjure enemy

channel divinity: vow of enmity

relentless avenger

soul of vengeance

avenging angel