DnD 5e Oath of Devotion Paladin Handbook


Oath of Devotion is, as described on the subclass breakdown page, the “vanilla” Paladin. It’s so iconic, in fact, that it’s the option chosen for the guide on the base Paladin Handbook. That guide is perfectly serviceable for being a generic Paladin that protects their party, serves good, wears plate, and has never had an interesting thought in their life.

On the other hand, there’s very little to hold your attention with such a build. If you said “Paladin,” you would have an image of this archetype in your head before the word finished. The subclass has a vague flavor of fighting fiends and the undead (typical Paladin fare), but the features all work on all enemies, just some differently or less effectively. All of the features of this subclass are passive except for the Channel Divinity and the capstone, which means that the only thing really worth talking about is the Channel Divinity. To that point, then, let’s show you how to capitalize on it.

Table of Contents


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.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

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 Devotion Features

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Oath of Devotion Ability Scores

Oath of Devotion’s best spells and features rely on a high Charisma to function, so Blessed Warrior is a strong choice, meaning you’re going to have a rough level one, but then you’ll scale very well.

Str: Start it at 15 for the plate you’re going to eventually wear and keep it there.

Dex: Dump

Con: We like hitpoints and don’t really need to scale Strength.

Int: Dump

Wis: Dump

Cha: The Paladin’s spells and many class features are powered by Charisma.

Point BuyStandard Array

Oath of Devotion Races

No different than any other Paladin.

Oath of Devotion Feats

No different than any other Paladin unless you plan on doing shenanigans.

Oath of Devotion Weapons

No different than any other Paladin.

Oath of Devotion Armor

No different than any other Paladin.

Oath of Devotion Multiclassing

This section briefly details some obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see our Practical Guide to Multiclassing.

If you plan on leaning into Charisma as an attack stat, taking a level or two of Hexblade would be fantastic for removing your dependence on Strength so that you can just double down on Charisma. I would go Paladin 1, Hexblade 1, Paladin X, putting in the second level of Hexblade after Paladin 8 to pick up invocations.

Example Oath of Devotion Build – Curseedge

If only I got Charisma to damage, too.

Because, as mentioned and linked to above, the example build on our Paladin handbook is already a generic Devotion Paladin, this is going to be a little bit of a weird one. I wanted to solve several problems: how do I lean into the Channel that is really the only active ability this subclass gets in combat, how do I deal with the fact that it’s an Action to activate, and how do I get Tyler to still let me publish this when I’m done?

The answer is that I make something that looks a little like my guide to Smiting every turn, but for a different goal.

Note: It has been brought to our attention that lying is agains the Oath of Devotion’s tenets. This makes the below suggestions to use Deception incompatible with the subclass. If that’s an issue in your game, replace Deception with another skill and lead every conversation with “Hello, my name is X, and I’m haunted, but I’m here to help.”

Ability Scores

We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above, then put our +2 into Charisma and our +1 into Constitution.



There are several good options, but none really get us anything specific the build wants, so Astral Elf it is. This would also be a fine time to try being a snake if you’ve never played a Yuan-ti, and it wouldn’t change the tactics very much, just require better positioning at level 1.


We’re locked into Haunted One because we’re starting as a Dark Ur- wait, wrong game. Seriously though, as a discount Hexblade there’s not much reason to not pick it. Trade the skills for Deception to pretend you’re not cursed and Intimidation because it’s literally written into the description that people are unnerved into helping you despite the skill not being one of the options. Languages can be whatever fits the campaign.

Skills and Tools

Athletics and Persuasion from the class join Perception from our elf eyes and the Deception and Intimidation, listed above.


Because we get to add together our Strength and Charisma for attack bonus, we never have to do anything to keep up with the fundamental math. We’ll still get there eventually, but not through Strength.

Level 6 (paladin 4) gets us Metamagic Adept

Level 10 (paladin 8) gets us Great Weapon Master

Level 14 (paladin 12) gets us Elven Accuracy

Levels 18 (paladin 16) caps Charisma


LevelsFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1 – Paladin 1Divine Sense

Lay on Hands

Sacred Flame
For starting equipment, take the chainmail, two greatswords, and Javelins. Sell the spare greatsword and the javelins because we have a free ranged damage cantrip thanks to being an Astral Elf. Use Sacred Flame for one level against things with low Dex saves and your sword against things with low AC.
2 – Paladin 2Fighting Stye:
– Blessed Warrior

– Guidance
– Word of Radiance
New Spells Prepared:
– Compelled Duel
– Cure Wounds
– Shield of Faith
Word of Radiance will be our go-to damage option for a level before Sacred Weapon comes online. Sacred Flame isn’t better DPR than just hitting something with your sword until level 17, even with our Strength never increasing, so we’ll pick up Guidance until then. Don’t forget the +d4.

For leveled spells, we continue doing standard Paladin things.
3 – Paladin 3Divine Health

Channel Divinity:
– Sacred Weapon
– Turn the Unholy

New Spells always prepared:
– Protection from Evil and Good
– Sanctuary
It’s a good thing we have proficiency in Persuasion, because we need to convince the rest of the party to stop for an hour after every fight due to our tactics relying on our one charge of Channel Divinity for our entire career.

Right now, the only thing we have to do with our Bonus Action after we Channel is teleport and cast some spells. We’ll try and fix that soon though.
4 – Sorcerer 1Wild Magic Surge

Tides of Chaos

New Cantrips:
– Booming Blade
– Firebolt
– Prestidigitation
Shape Water

Spells Known:
– Silvery Barbs
– Shield
Advantage on demand is a truly mediocre thing for a Sorcerer, but, for a Paladin swinging a greatsword (and who will soon be doing it with power attack), it’s as good as gold. Later on (when we can more reliably survive things like a Fireball appearing in our face), we’ll try to cast more spells to trigger Tides of Chaos recharging so we can do this more. This plays into being cursed, as occasionally we do bad things to ourselves.

Of course, we also picked up the problematic spell that grants advantage, even though we’re not going to be as good at using it as our race might suggest (because we didn’t pick up a level of Hexblade).

Standard Booming Blade becomes our primary attack for several levels.
5 – Sorcerer 2Font of Magic

Spell Known:
– Absorb Elements
We now have a natural pool of two Sorcery Points that we can use to Qui… make spell slots. Hang tight.

Because we’re now level 5, Booming Blade gets an extra damage die on the initial hit and is still an excellent Defender tool for being sticky. Delaying Extra Attack is always a questionable choice, but you’re already doing decent damage output while being a very effective Defender by making things explode if they move away from you to squishier teammates.
6 – Paladin 4Feat: Metamagic Adept:
– Quicken Spell
– Extend Spell
We now have four Sorcery Points that we can use to Quicken. What do we quicken? Booming Blade on the first round after using our Action to turn on Sacred Weapon. We’ll need to burn a second-level spell slot for two more points to do that same trick for the expected third fight in a day, but it’ll be worth it. 
7 – Paladin 5Extra Attack

New Spells Prepared:
– Find Steed
– Heroism
– Lesser Restoration
– Zone of Truth
With Extra Attack online, we now have choices. If you’re scared about something walking away from you, Booming Blade it. If you’re not, attack it twice. I now have to get into a boatload of math: should we Smite or Quicken Booming Blade with these spell slots?

If we assume we only cast Find Steed on non-adventuring days and don’t need to spend any spell slots doing anything except damage, we currently have two 2nd-level slots and 4 1st-level slots available to burn (remembering that we’re already down one slot for the points to Quicken once in the third fight of the day). This is either 3 Quickened Booming Blades or 14d8 Smite damage. At first blush this is an obvious choice: average 63 or average 40.5 average damage… if no secondary effect triggers. If you get even one secondary proc, that Booming Blade damage rockets up to 49.5, bringing the difference down quite a bit. If all of them trigger, it’s actually 67.5, and looks like the clear winner… for a moment.
But that’s just average damage. If we start figuring accuracy, things get complicated. If we’re waiting for crits to smite, that’s both a smarter use of resources and generates bigger numbers because the dice get doubled, whereas the cantrip’s secondary damage doesn’t.

Advantage further increases the likelihood of crits, and we get easy advantage from Tides of Chaos and from casting Silvery Barbs to recharge it… but that also eats spell slots, which leaves us fewer to do either thing with. I have thus succeeded in taking the most vanilla possible Paladin and bringing analysis-paralysis-inducing levels of decision complexity and resource management. You’re welcome.

With all of that said, Find Steed is a complicated spell to handle. You may want to read the Practical Guide to Mounted Combat and listen to our podcast episode about mounted combat. I don’t recommend this spell because I think you should be mounted, I recommend it because having a celestial warhorse is neat and could very well be useful in a lot of ways.

While we don’t need to cast the spell all that often (and so should spend most days with cure Wounds prepared in that slot instead), we do need to cast it when the horse dies. Given its AC of 11 and no save proficiencies, that will be somewhat often. But better your horse than your less-replaceable allies.
8 – Paladin 6Aura of Protection

New Spell Prepared:
– Any
Did you want a free +3 to all your saves? Hey, so did your party. It is worth noting that it doesn’t specify what saves it applies to, meaning it applies to all of them, including Death Saves. Stay near dying friends, even if you can’t spare the Action to Lay on Hands them. 
9 – Paladin 7Aura of DevotionNothing interesting happened here.
10 – Paladin 8Feat: Great Weapon Master

New Spell Prepared:- Any
Say, you know what’s really good with a functionally-permanent +2 (that 15 strength we never increased) to hit? Power attack. Taking the penalty on every turn except the first is going to be a great move because you have plenty of chances to hit (especially with all the advantage you’re giving yourself). This also does really good things for resource management: if you crit on one of your two Attacks, you don’t need to Quicken a Booming Blade to utilize your bonus action for damage. This lightens our computational load. Momentarily.
11 – Paladin 9New Spells Prepared:
– Revivify
– Beacon of Hope
– Dispel Magic
Let’s check back in on damage. Booming Blade scales at this level, meaning each one is now 18 or 31.5 damage. For available slots, we’re now at 4, 2, and 3 respectively. That’s 26d8 of Smiting (average 117) or 7 Quickened Booming Blades. Great news: that many extra Quickens means we can choose to do one every expected round of combat because this math was already accounting for the round one gimmick in each combat.

If you want to no longer make a decision, that means we’re just doing an Attack and a Quickened Booming Blade every round and have a 1st-level spell slot left over to Silvery Barbs somewhere. DPR on that, including “power attack” from GWM : 41.25 including trigger damage. If you throw Advantage onto your Booming Blade, that shoots up to 52.4.

Those numbers mean we’re over High DPR always and halfway between there and Dude Stop when we can get advantage on our big cantrip. Is this better than putting half your spell slots into Silvery Barbs and the other half into Smiting on crits? No, but it is much simpler, and we’ve earned that with what the last four levels have been like.
12 – Paladin 10Aura of CourageI interpret the wording of “can’t be frightened” to mean that, if someone is frightened, simply walking to within 10 feet of them means that your aura will remove whatever fear effect is on them instead of just suppressing it. This doesn’t jive with Jeremy Crawford’s depiction of RAI, but even he admits that RAW is unclear.
We also go up another level on the multiclassing spellcaster table, getting us 4th-level slots and no spells for them. Save it for a crit and Smite something for +12d6.
13 – Paladin 11Improved Divine SmiteThis is excellent and also doesn’t affect our tactics in the slightest. It is a very nice DPR bump, though.
14 – Paladin 12Elven Accuracy (Cha)I know what you’re thinking, but no. Even though we’re adding our Charisma bonus to the attack roll, it is not actually an attack roll made with Charisma (because, again, we’re just a worse Hexblade). We literally only have one thing this is useful for: Firebolt. We could probably trade items for a rapier and shield at this point and start crit fishing with all that advantage we generate, but it’s not actually better damage because we’re getting such good use out of Great Weapon Master.

So, why did I take this feat? Why not Skill Expert? The flavor of being a curseedge. Skill Expert is better; do that if you’re seriously optimizing every aspect of the character.
15 – Paladin 13New Spells Prepared:
– Find Greater Steed
– Death Ward
– Freedom of Movement
– Guardian of Faith
Drop whatever you started preparing at level 8 for Death Ward and start using Find Greater Steed to get a celestial pegasus instead of a warhorse. Death Ward yourself and have it apply to the horse too.
16 – Paladin 14Cleansing TouchBoop.
17 – Paladin 15Purity of SpiritThe good news: this protects against many of the things that are significant threats to us at this level. The bad news: we already can’t be charmed by anything or frightened by anything and I’ve literally never had to deal with possession in this edition of D&D, so the budget just goes straight into those things attacking us with disadvantage. That said, it is definitely a great help since we’re not using a shield, but we’ve had to survive this long without it.
18 – Paladin 16Ability Score Increase (Cha)

New Spell Prepared:
– Any
We cap Charisma, getting +1 to all saves and +1 to hit (but not damage, because we’re not a Hexblade).
19 – Paladin 17New Spells Prepared:
– Holy Weapon
– Destructive Wave
– Commune
– Flame Strike
Our tactics don’t really change from here on out. Not that there is much “on out” left, but here we are. Flame Strike is passable AoE damage, but we’re still usually better off just attacking things. That said, you could very much Attack action and then Quicken a Flame Strike for huge damage once a day, especially against a large group.
20 – Paladin 18Aura ImprovementsOur capstone doesn’t really matter for the way this build plays, but it’s nice to have all the same.