DnD 5E Paladin Build Guide: Master the Righteous Path

This DND Paladin Build Guide will set you on the right path… are you ready?

The Paladin class stands as a quintessential beacon of justice, embodying tenacity and righteousness within the diverse universe of Dungeons & Dragons. With its divine origins, the Paladin serves as a paragon of virtue and order, suiting players drawn to the idea of a warrior imbibed with formidable holy power.

Paladins are known for their remarkable survivability, excelling as both solo adventurers and valuable party members. Thanks to their robust hit points and protective auras, Paladins often assume the role of a defender within the party, drawing damage away from allies and absorbing major adversarial hits.

However, Paladins are not just tough; they are also damage powerhouses, primarily in close combat. Thanks to their Divine Smites, they can unleash devastating melee attacks, often accompanied by radiant damage that can decimate foes, especially the undead and fiends.

Mastering a Paladin goes beyond just effective combat performance. It involves deeper role-playing components tied to their sacred oaths. Each Paladin swears a holy oath, a commitment that grants them their power and defines their mission. This divine covenant shapes their identity and influences their alignment, decision-making, and interaction with the world.

Playing a Paladin demands strategic resource management, primarily since their divine powers don’t often recharge on short rests. It also requires a willingness to delve into their dynamic character, embodying the Paladin’s oath-bound virtues and navigating the challenges presented by their divine duties.

Regardless, the Paladin class offers a captivating mix of warrior resilience and divine power. Whether you’re eager to lead charges into the heart of darkness or stand as a stalwart shield protecting your allies, the Paladin class offers a rich and rewarding avenue to explore.


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Ultimate D&D Paladin Build Guide

Understanding Paladin Subclasses in D&D 5E

Once a Paladin reaches the third level, they swear an Oath that determines their subclass, significantly impacting their abilities and the way they play. Here’s a detailed overview of the available Paladin subclasses and how they might shape your Paladin’s journey.

Oath of Devotion

Holding fast to the ideals of justice, virtue and order, Paladins of the Oath of Devotion embody the quintessential knight in shining armor. This subclass reinforces the Paladin’s healing and protective abilities. Additionally, the Oath’s Channel Divinity options provide excellent utility, allowing you to turn the tide of battle in favor of your allies.

Oath of the Ancients

Adding a touch of druidic magic to the Paladin’s arsenal, the Oath of the Ancients centers around the preservation of light, life, and beauty. Paladins of this subclass lean heavily towards crowd control, providing entangling and disabling options to the party. The Aura of Warding also grants powerful resistance to spell damage, significantly bolstering the party’s survivability against magic-wielding foes.

Oath of Vengeance

Driven by a consuming need for justice or revenge, Oath of Vengeance Paladins excel in taking down solitary, significant targets. With abilities that debilitate enemies and enhance their own destructive power, this subclass shifts the Paladin’s role towards that of a striker. This subclass is ideal for those who want an aggressive and relentless combatant in the party.

Oath of Conquest

These Paladins aim to vanquish their foes and establish order upon the ashes. The Oath of Conquest grants powerful crowd-control abilities, with a focus on fear-inducing spells and effects. This subclass can drive a Paladin towards a more tactical and controlling playstyle, allowing them to manipulate the battlefield more so than typical front-line brawlers.

Each subclass offers a unique direction for your Paladin’s development, influencing both their combat potential and the narrative of their divine journey.

Paladin Ability Scores and Their Significance

Analysing the abilities is crucial to understanding how to maximise the effectiveness of your Paladin. Here’s how each of them matter:

Strength

Strength influences your melee attack rolls and damage, making it an essential attribute for a traditionally built Paladin. It’s also crucial for heavy armor wearers to prevent speed reduction.

Dexterity

Dexterity isn’t a priority for a classic Paladin, who typically favors heavy armor and melee strength-based combat. However, for those considering a finesse or ranged build, Dexterity becomes key.

Constitution

Constitution heightens your hit points and aids constitution saving throws. As front-line fighters constantly in the harm’s way, this becomes a vital ability score.

Intelligence

Typically a dump-stat for Paladins, Intelligence rarely influences Paladins abilities, unless your campaign demands more cerebral challenges or problem-solving.

Wisdom

Wisdom influences a handful of useful skills like Insight and Medicine, but generally, it’s not a priority for Paladins. Invest in this if you’re keen on having a perceptive and insightful character.

Charisma

Charisma is central to several of the Paladin’s abilities such as spellcasting, divine auras and numerous class features. It is also useful for social interaction, making a high Charisma Paladin a compelling party face.

Understanding these abilities allows you to design a Paladin that best fits your desired playstyle and the nuances of your quest.

DnD Paladin Backstory
DnD Paladin Backstory

Paladin Race Choices in D&D 5e

Choosing the right race for your Paladin can impact not only your character’s mechanical effectiveness, but also their background story and role-playing dynamics. Below, we’re taking a closer look at some of the top races for Paladins.

Half-Elf

Half-Elves enjoy a bonus to Charisma, which enhances the Paladin’s spellcasting and divine capabilities. They also get two extra skills and additional language options, offering additional utility and versatility.

Human

The versatility of Humans makes them a strong choice for any class, Paladins included. The bonus to all ability scores or the variant option for a feat at first level can cater to any Paladin’s needs.

Dragonborn

Dragonborns boast bonuses to Strength and Charisma, the two key abilities for Paladins. Their breath weapon offers an additional damage option, useful for a class that typically specializes in melee confrontations.

Dwarf

Dwarves provide a bonus to Constitution, which translates to more hit points and resilience, complementing the inherent toughness of Paladins. Their Stonecunning trait is also a handy addition when delving into ancient ruins or exploring mountains.

Remember, the right race for your Paladin ultimately depends on your desired playstyle, build goals, and narrative aspirations.

Choosing the Right Feats for Your Paladin

Feats present an opportunity to tailor your Paladin or equip them with unique abilities. Let’s delve into some top feat choices and how they might influence your Paladin’s abilities and combat style.

Sentinel

This feat can cement your Paladin as the party’s main defender, keeping foes locked in combat with you and protecting squishy allies.

Great Weapon Master

For Paladins that favor two-handed weapons, this feat can significantly bolster your damage output.

Polearm Master

When paired with a polearm, this feat delivers consistent extra damage and enhances the Paladin’s capability to control space around them.

War Caster

Although Paladins are not heavily reliant on spellcasting, those leaning towards dealing additional spell damage can benefit from this feat to maintain concentration and have more casting flexibility.

Shield Master

For those Paladins who lean into a sword-and-shield style, this feat provides extra protection and battlefield control.

When choosing feats, consider how they will shape your Paladin’s evolution, the party’s composition, and the campaign’s demands. Feats should complement your Paladin’s main abilities and overall character theme.

6. Skills and Background Choices for Paladins

The Paladin’s skillset can contribute significantly to the character’s effectiveness on the battlefield as well as their ability to interact with the world and NPCs. One must strategically align the choice of skills and background with the Paladin’s role in the party.

Key Skills for Paladins

Paladins have access to a range of skills, but it’s crucial to choose those that align with their high ability scores and complement their class features. Skills like Athletics, Insight, Persuasion and Intimidation can be particularly effective due to the Paladin’s strength and charisma.

Choosing the Right Background

The character’s background not only adds depth to their personality but also provides additional skills and equipment. Optimal choices for a Paladin may include backgrounds like Soldier, Noble, Acolyte, or Knight of the Order, each offering complementary bonuses and flavorful narratives for the character.

7. Paladin Spellcasting in D&D 5E: At the Heart of Divine Power

Spellcasting for Paladins provides an array of buffs, healing options, and battle control spells, further cementing their role as a resilient frontline warrior and support. This section delves into the mechanics of Paladin spellcasting and how to leverage these divine powers effectively.

Understanding Paladin Spellcasting

Paladins gain spells at 2nd level, drawing from their unique spell list. Notable is the fact that unlike other casting classes, Paladins do not prepare spells from the entire Paladin list, but instead from a subset defined by their chosen Oath.

Selecting the Right Spells

Spell selection is critical to a Paladin’s effectiveness. A blend of healing, buffing, control, and damage spells would typically work best. Also important to consider are spells of the “Smite” variety that add considerable damage to Melee attacks.

Strategic Spell Use

Paladins have a limited spell slot pool that does not replenish until a long rest. A strategic approach to spellcasting is hence critical, using the powerful smite options judiciously and ensuring that spells are reserved for healing and buffing when required.

Paladin Equipment Guide: Armor, Weapons and Magic Items

Armor, weapons, and magic items significantly influence not only a Paladin’s abilities in battle but also their character’s overall look and feel. Here’s what you might want to consider:

Armor

Armor directly impacts a character’s defense capability – it determines the Armor Class (AC), a measurement of how hard it is for opponents to land an effective blow.

Chain Mail and Full Plate

For starters, Chain Mail provides a good starting armor. As you progress, aim to obtain Full Plate which offers the highest base AC.

Studded Leather

For Dexterity-based Paladins, consider Studded Leather, a lighter alternative.

Shields

Shields provide additional AC bonus. They are essential for one-handed weapons users, especially when utilizing the Dueling fighting style.

Weapons

Weapon choice usually depends on the character’s build and the fighting style chosen.

Halberd / Glaive / Pike

These are go-to options for Paladins craving for reach and utilizing the Polearm Master feat.

Greatsword / Maul

These are popular two-handed weapons if reach isn’t a priority.

Longsword / Morningstar / Warhammer

These are versatile choices for Paladins wielding a shield.

Rapier

For Dexterity-based Paladins, a Rapier provides effective melee damage with Finesse property.

Magic Items

Magic items offer bonus traits and capabilities. Weapons and armor can have magical properties that enhance their effectiveness or grant spell-like abilities.

Consider magic items that augment the Paladin’s healing capacities, improve armor class, or enhance spellcasting abilities.

Multiclassing Your Paladin in D&D 5E

Multiclassing allows a character to gain the benefits of more than one class. This can lead to fascinating character builds but must be done thoughtfully to avoid diluting the strengths of the original class.

Fighter and Paladin

This combination is straightforward and compatible. Fighters gain second Wind and Action Surge, which amplify the Paladin’s martial capabilities. Starting as Fighter grants proficiency in Constitution saves.

Sorcerer and Paladin

A Sorcerer’s spellcasting progression is faster, providing more slots for Divine Smites. Sorcerer subclasses like the Draconic Origin offer attractive AC improvement for Dexterity-based Paladins.

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Warlock and Paladin

Warlock spell slots recharge on short rests, providing a reliable way to fuel Divine Smite. The Hexblade patron can be especially beneficial, maximizing Charisma’s importance and expanding combat options.

Multiclassing Challenges

Multiclassing involves meeting certain prerequisites in Ability Scores and potentially dilutes the progression in the original class. It’s recommended for players comfortable with micromanaging character progression.

Building A Paladin: Step by Step Analysis

In this section, we’ll go through a step by step guide to build different types of paladins, each with its unique strengths and strategies.

The Traditional Frontline Paladin

This Paladin build sticks to the quintessential image of the class – a moral compass and frontline combatant.

Step 1: Ability Scores

Prioritize Strength, Charisma, and Constitution. Strength increases your melee damage and accuracy, Charisma strengthens your spells and abilities, and Constitution bolsters your hit points and survivability.

Step 2: Race Selection

Half-Elf or Dragonborn are excellent choices. Both provide Strength and Charisma bonuses, and Dragonborns have a breath weapon that can prove useful in dire situations.

Step 3: Choose Subclass

Oath of Devotion or Oath of Conquest is a strong pick. Both add potent abilities in both combat and social situations.

Step 4: Equipment

Go with a Longsword and Shield along with Full Plate Armor for top-tier protection and solid melee efficiency.

Step 5: Gaining Feats

Consider the “Great Weapon Master” or “Inspiring Leader” feats. They provide extra combat prowess and party buffs, respectively.

The Casting Focused Paladin

If you prefer a more balanced approach to combat and magic use, consider this build.

Step 1: Ability Scores

Balance Charisma, Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom. Charisma fuels your spells, while Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom handle combat, durability, and sense-based checks.

Step 2: Race Selection

Again, Half-Elf or Dragonborn is a good choice. Both offer a Charisma bonus, aligning with the casting focus of this build.

Step 3: Choose Subclass

Oath of Devotion or Oath of the Ancients can offer a well-rounded mix of spells and combat abilities.

Step 4: Equipment

Equip a Rapier, a Shield, and Studded Leather Armor. This mix ensures decent mobility, good defense, and spellcasting benefits.

Step 5: Gaining Feats

Consider feats such as “War Caster” or “Spell Sniper” to boost casting performance and versatility in varied combat situations.

The Protector Paladin

The Protector Paladin is your classic “guard the weak” character, a true shield in a world full of swords.

Step 1: Ability Scores

Focus on Strength, Constitution and Charisma. Strength assists in your offence, while Constitution keeps you standing, with Charisma powering your spells and auras.

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Step 2: Race Selection

Choose Dwarf or Goliath for their inherent toughness and strength.

Step 3: Choose Subclass

Opt for the Oath of the Crown or Oath of Redemption. Both subclasses aid in safeguarding allies from harm and deterring foes from attacking.

Step 4: Equipment

Use a sword and shield in combination with Full Plate armor for supreme defence.

Step 5: Gaining Feats

Pick up “Sentinel” or “Shield Master” feats. Both boost your ability to safeguard allies and control the battle field.

The Finesse Paladin

A Finesse Paladin relies upon agility instead of raw strength, taking advantage of speed, stealth, and precise strikes from a distance.

Step 1: Ability Scores

Dexterity and Charisma should be your top scores, followed by Constitution for added resilience.

Step 2: Race Selection

Elves and Half-Elves make for a perfect choice with their bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma.

Step 3: Choose Subclass

Choosing the Oath of Vengeance or Oath of Glory can perfectly compliment your mobility focus with good pursuit and burst damage capacity.

Step 4: Equipment

A Rapier, Light Armor and a Longbow serve best for quick strikes and quick retreats.

Step 5: Gaining Feats

“Mobile”, “Sharpshooter”, or “Defensive Duelist” feats add to your agility, sharpshooting accuracy or defensive prowess respectively.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this Ultimate Paladin Build Guide provides a comprehensive blueprint for players aiming to construct a dynamic and compelling Paladin character in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. By considering the integral aspects of the Paladin class, like subclasses, ability scores, race choices, feats, and spellcasting, players can strategically customize a Paladin that aligns with their role-play style and gaming objectives.

Moreover, our guide underscores the importance of equipment and multiclassing options in further fine-tuning your character, helping you tap into the wealth of choices 5E offers, and going beyond the surface to truly master the game’s nuances.

At the heart of this guide is the ethos that while character effectiveness is essential, immersing oneself in the role-playing aspect of D&D is equally important. The most memorable and enriching experiences come when we truly inhabit our characters, honoring not only their might and abilities but also their beliefs, motivations, and shortcomings.

As you embark on your righteous path, remember that the Paladin is a class filled with depth and complexity. Embrace this complexity, learn from your experiences, and allow your Paladin to grow, adapt, and evolve as you journey through the rich and diverse realms of the D&D universe.

Enjoy the journey and let the dice fall where they may. Happy adventuring!

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Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.

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