The Oath of the Open Sea is an interesting take on the Paladin. Rather than focusing on doing the right thing, smiting the wicked, or working toward some ideological goal, Oath of the Open Sea compels the paladin to be flexible, adaptible, and free. It’s basically a Chaotic-aligned, slightly nautical themed subclass.
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
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The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
Oath of the Open Sea
The Oath of the Open Sea paladin thrives in close combat. Aura of Liberation prevents them from being grappled, and Channel Divinity offers some buffs to help you handle combat situations which can’t be handled by smiting stuff. The spell list is almost exclusively spells with rare, situational uses, but the other features of the subclass are great additions to the Paladin in their role as a front line Defender.
: Very few options that
will be routinely worth spending a spell slot.
- : Two situational options.
- : Augury is among my favorite divinations, and paladins have very few divination options. Misty Step is a profoundly useful tactical option, especially for a class which is typically locked into melee.
- : Call Lightning is a difficult damage option at the best of times, and getting it 4 levels behind the Druid with worse save DCs makes it borderline useless. Maelstrom is an interesting spell, combining a bit of damage, a bit of crowd control, and a bit of teleportation. While your save DC will be relatively low, there are enough enemies with poor Strength saves that this might be useful from time to time. You also get to teleport within the impressive 15-foot radius, which is surprisingly generous.
- : Control Water is very situational. Freedom of Movement is an important buff, but it’s almost totally redundant with Aura of Liberation.
- : Commune with Nature is only occasionally useful, but if you’re in a seafaring campaign you might use it to gather information about unexplored shores or something. Freedom of the Winds is overpriced Fly with a single-use get out of jail free card.
- : Similar to Fog Cloud, but portable and you can see through it better than other creatures. Other creatures within 5 feet of you also treat the fog as a Lightly Obscured area, but keep in mind that this benefit isn’t limited to allies so if enemies get into melee with you they’re able to see just as well as you can.
- : Situational. Pushing enemies away is dramatic and exciting, but paladins are built for melee so it usually just means chasing your target unless you knock them into a wall or another creature. The damage bonus for hitting an obstacle is nice, but not especially large. If nothing else, this is activated as a Bonus Action so it’s easy to squeeze this in without cutting into your attacks.
- : Better than Freedom of Movement.
- : You don’t get to apply an ability modifier to the damage, so if all you need is damage try to make an Opportunity Attack instead. But knocking foes prone eats half of their movement, which can make it very hard for them to get away from you or might leave them prone at the end of their own turn.
- : Advantage to attack a creature when fighting 1-on-1, Dodge as a Bonus Action, and Advantage on most Dexterity saving throws, Dexterity checks, and Strength (Athletics) checks. All told, you’re both very difficult to kill and very effective at killing other creatures.