Save us tonight, the last hope for all of us
Light-years gone by, we’re still holding on
Save us tonight, a star shines in all of us
Far beyond our lives, still our glory lives on

Heroes of Our Time – Dragonforce

Introduction

The Oath of the Watchers is to be the bulwark between the material plane and extraplanar invaders. This Oath empowers a Paladin with the tools necessary to combat that which should not be. If you wish to stand against the tide of the unknown, you might enjoy the Oath of the Watchers. If however, you face a more terrestrial threat, fret not. The Oath of the Watchers have many tools that still work just fine against such relatively mundane foes.

The Watchers’ toolset includes an array of utility spells and debuffs as well as protections that keep your party safe from some of the worst spells. One of the greatest ways to protect your world from threats within and without is to be proactive, and there’s no better way to be proactive than your team going first in combat, which is another important tool on the Watchers’ belt.

When sailing the Astral Sea and exploring the Wildspace of Spelljammer, there’s no better ally to have on the team than an Oath of the Watchers Paladin. When neck deep in such an extraplanar adventure, all of the Watchers’ advantages against such foes stay relevant the entire time. Consider adding one of these fine adventurers in your next Spelljamming crew.

The example build below takes advantage of an often overlooked weapon to put out competitive DPR with less feat investment than similar builds using conventional weapons. This in turn frees up ASIs for maximizing Charisma to be the bulwark of saving throws as well as boosting those important spell DCs to send terrible threats back to beyond the stars.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

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 this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Oath of the Watchers Features

  1. Oath Spells: A good mix of utility and buffs which will help you resist effects common to Oath of the Watchers’ enemies. The spells (with some exceptions) work great against any creature, but this is clearly a toolkit designed to solve a specific set of problems.
    1. 3rd-Level: Two staple spells, but hopefully you have a ritual caster in the party so you don’t need to spend your precious few spell slots.
    2. 5th-Level: See Invisibility is absolutely crucial, and a great option for a martial character who can’t resort to AOE damage when they can’t see their enemies. Moonbeam is very situational, but it makes sense considering your intended foes. However, your save DC is likely poor so it won’t be reliable.
    3. 9th-Level: Counterspell is a fantastic spell, but unless you have the Charisma to back it up you’ll struggle with the ability check to counter things. Nondetection seems like an odd choice on a paladin, but many of the enemies which Oath of the Watchers cares about can cast spells, including divinations.
    4. 13th-Level: Aura of purity offers a lot of useful defenses, but it’s technically situational. Banishment is a staple a save-or-suck spell, but you may not have the Spell Save DC to back it up. The only truly unfortunate thing to note about these two spells is that they are already on the Paladin spell list.
    5. 17th-Level: Hold Monster is a great save-or-suck spell, but you may struggle with a low save DC unless you’ve gotten your Charisma up to 20 by this level. Scrying is situational, so it’s annoying to have prepared every day, but it’s also not on the Paladin’s spell list so it’s nice that it’s available.
  2. Channel Divinity:
    • Watcher’s Will: Protection from mental saves for one minute. Note that you are not counted in the number of targets, so it’s you plus a number of creatures equal to your Charisma modifier. The duration is only one minute, but this is still a great buff when you face enemy spellcasters or enemies with charm or fear abilities (both of which are common). Enemy spellcasters can often resort to AOE damage spells or spells which target your physical saves (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution) in many cases, but at least they’re not mind-controlling your party.
    • Abjure the Extraplanar: Technically situational, but between 5 creature types you have enough coverage to almost guarantee that this is useful in any campaign where it makes sense for an Oath of the Watchers Paladin to exist. Turning a foe takes them out of combat up a full minute unless you bother them, and in group encounters where you’ll use this you can greatly simplify an encounter by removing a portion of your opponents temporarily.
  3. Aura of the Sentinel: Keep your allies close while in marching order. This bonus is significant. If you’re worried about being caught in an AOE, remember that Aura of Protection has the same 10-foot range. The range does eventually expand at the same time as your other auras (level 18), at which point you’re slightly less likely to have your entire party fireballed at the same time. Note the specific wording of this ability, “a bonus to initiative equal to your proficiency bonus.” While you can’t add your proficiency bonus to a check more than once, if for example if a Harengon (Hare Trigger) or Bard (Jack of all Trades) are under the effects of this aura, because of the wording of the ability these abilities will stack because it’s not a proficiency bonus, it’s just a bonus reading PB to get a value.
  4. Vigilant Rebuke: Situational. Against enemies that use these effects, this is very powerful especially when combined with Watcher’s Will. However, it’s absolutely useless against many enemies.
  5. Mortal Bulwark: Truesight is a fantastic ability, but the rest only applies against suitable enemies. It also doesn’t include a way to keep enemies banished, and at this level many of the affected types of creatures can cast Plane Shift.

Oath of the Watchers Ability Scores

We are the bulwark. And by bulwark I mean proactively dealing out damage to interdimensional interlopers.

Str: We’ll need this to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves against the unseen threats from beyond the stars.

Dex: It’s not a high priority, but getting the jump on foes with a better initiative check is part of our toolset.

Con: Can’t bulwark if dead.

Int: Someone else do the science thing.

Wis: This is where those extraplanar nasties want to hit you.

Cha: This powers our defenses as well as sets our spell save DCs.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str1515
Dex1012
Con1413
Int88
Wis810
Cha1514

Oath of the Watchers Races

As always, if a race isn’t listed below, check the Paladin Races Breakdown.

  • HarengonMMoM: Going first is great, and Hare Trigger pairs well with Aura of the Sentinel. Even if we dump Dexterity like most Paladins, those two abilities will more than make up for that. Additionally, Rabbit Hop is basically Misty Step just without teleporting.

Oath of the Watchers Feats

Paladin Handbook is accurate for our Oath.

Oath of the Watchers Weapons

Handbook Weapon Section.

  • Double-Bladed Scimitar: This weapon is relatively unknown because it’s tucked away in the Eberron book, but it has the Special property. It more or less has the bonus action attack of Polearm Master without any feat investment. If you ever wanted to be a Dual Wield Paladin for some reason, this fights exactly like how that would feel. The important part for Watchers is that this weapon is just barely behind a Polearm Master Great Weapon Master without spending two feats to get there, which allows spending those ASIs to maximize Charisma instead.
  • Polearms: Spears, Pikes, Halberds. Anything compatible with Polearm Master works well for us if we can’t have a Double-Bladed Scimitar. Notably a Spear wouldn’t prevent us from using a shield.

Oath of the Watchers Armor

Nothing changes, Paladin Handbook is correct.

Example Oath of the Watchers Build – Invoke the Cerulean Sign

The cerulean sign is an ancient symbol said to embody the purity of the natural world, and as such it is anathema to aberrations.

Lords of Madness (D&D 3.5)

To take the Oath of the Watchers is to protect our world from extraplanar incursion and repel invaders. To that end, we shall brandish the double-bladed scimitar to root out interdimensional influence under the protection of the light of the cerulean sign.

Abilities

Our race is Harengon with a +2 to Strength and +1 to Charisma.

BaseRacial AdjustmentsLevel 20
Str151720
Dex888
Con151516
Int888
Wis888
Cha151620

Race

We’re using Harengon in order to double down on the Aura of the Sentinel. As explained above, while Hare Trigger adds Proficiency Bonus to Initiative checks, Aura of the Sentinel adds a bonus to Initiative checks equal to our Proficiency Bonus. Additionally, Rabbit Hop is great for positioning.

Background

We’re taking the Feylost background for thematic purposes. This gives us the Deception and Survival skills, as well as a Musical Instrument of our choice.

Skills and Tools

From Harengon, we use customized origin to take Insight. From Paladin, we choose Athletics and Persuasion. From Feylost, we gain Deception and Survival.

Feats

At fourth level, we choose Skill Expert to add +1 Strength. Additionally, we gain Proficiency in Intimidation and Expertise in Athletics. Being able to shove creatures when we need to is very helpful.

Alternatively, Slasher can also give us the +1 to Strength if we want that movement debuff instead.

If we want to take Polearm Master because we’re not allowed to use a Double-Bladed Scimitar, we take that here and take an extra +2 Strength ASI at twelfth level, pushing the rest up and losing the last Charisma ASI.

At eighth level, we take an ASI for +2 Strength, which caps us to 20 Strength.

At twelfth level, we take Resilient (Constitution), pushing us from 15 to 16 and giving Proficiency to Constitution saves. We want this now to help keep Concentration on some of the nice spells we can cast.

At sixteenth level and nineteenth level, we take ASIs for +2 Charisma both times, which gets us to 20 Charisma at the end.

Levels

LevelsFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Divine Sense
Lay on Hands

Skills
-Athletics
-Deception
-Insight
-Persuasion
-Survival
Get a double-bladed scimitar, chain mail, and come out swinging. Not much to say about being a first level martial.

Double-bladed scimitar is a great weapon. It has a special property that allows us to make an attack as a bonus action if we take the attack action with the weapon. This is a good use of the bonus action, but our priority should be to use this attack if we don’t have something else to do with the bonus action. 
2Fighting Style
-Great Weapon Fighting

Spellcasting
-1st-level spells

Divine Smite
For a fighting style we take Great Weapon Fighting because the double-bladed scimitar is a 2d4 weapon so there will be plenty of 1s and 2s to reroll. Alternatively, we could just take the Defensive style to get +1 AC.

If we can’t have that Double-Bladed Scimitar, we’ll instead use a Spear and a Shield with the Dueling style. Together with Polearm Master this does more DPR than either the DBS or a Heavy Polearm before adding anything like Great Weapon Master. Because this build is tight on feats and ASIs we don’t have room for GWM.

For our spells, we only have two 1st-level slots, and we might spend all of those on smites. However, preparing Cure Wounds, Shield of Faith, and Bless would be good choices at this level.
3Divine Health

Oath of the Watchers
-Oath Spells
-Channel Divinity
–Watcher’s WIll
–Abjure the Extraplanar
Immune to disease. Good to have.

We take the Oath of the Watchers, granting some spells and Channel Divinity powers. Watcher’s Will is basically a minute-long version of Intellect Fortress without the psychic resistance. Abjure the Extraplanar is like Turn Undead but for extraplanar types.

Now that we have our Oath, we have Alarm and Detect Magic. Alarm is a good way to use a leftover spell slot before a long rest, if we set one up in addition to setting a watch, we can always be roused if trouble happens. Detect Magic on the other hand has a niche use. Most of the time we’ll want someone else that can ritual cast to use Detect Magic, but casting as a ritual doesn’t remove the concentration part. If our usual detect magic user has something important running, we can step in if it’s important and urgent.
4Feat: Skill Expert
+1 Strength (17=>18)
Proficiency: Intimidation
Expertise: Athletics
We’re on the front line, we have lots of Strength, shove monsters, hit them with Advantage.

Alternatively, take Slasher so monsters cannot run.
5Extra Attack

Spellcasting
-2nd-level spells
Swing twice or shove someone, then swing once with Advantage, then swing with Advantage as a bonus action because double-bladed scimitar.

For 2nd-level spells, Find Steed is always useful, as is Magic Weapon, but something that can be incredibly useful at this level is having a Gentle Repose in your back pocket. We can’t have Revivify for a few more levels, but full casters can, so hitting a fresh corpse with a Gentle Repose will extend the 1-minute window to ten days.

Moonbeam and See Invisibility are nice additions from our Oath. Invisible foes can be problematic for martials, but See Invisibility handles this easily. Moonbeam can be harder to use, but setting it down and dragging an enemy into it with a grapple can be a viable tactic.
6Aura of ProtectionAdding our Charisma modifier to all our saves is great. Adding it to all our allies within 10 feet is what makes a Paladin amazing.
7Aura of the SentinelsThis aura adds a bonus to Initiative checks that scales with our Proficiency Bonus.
8ASI: Strength +2 (18=>20)Get Stronger, hit harder.

Alternatively, we could take Resilient now and take this ASI at twelfth level. Both options are fine. We can just ride on Aura of Protection for now if we feel confident.
9Spellcasting
-3rd-level spells
Now we can put Revivify in our back pocket for emergencies as long as we have a 300gp diamond, too.

At this level, the Oath gives us Counterspell and Nondetection. Counterspell is nice to have, even if we don’t often combat spellcasters, it’s handy when we do. Nondetection is useful as well, but less frequently, as monsters don’t usually rely on divination magic to enhance their senses. 

For example, Nondetection and Invisibility together bypass the spell True Seeing, but not the inherent creature ability truesight.
10Aura of CourageImmune to fear as a 10-foot aura. It’s nice, fear is annoying.
11Improved Divine SmiteThis is pretty nice, +1d8 damage to every attack. This is really why we wanted to use the double-bladed scimitar, to get an extra swing for an extra +1d8.

At the cost of our bonus action, this is better DPR than a Greatsword from an identical Paladin, with or without GWM, with or without Advantage. 

Alternatively, against a Paladin using Polearm Master and GWM, which would limit the character to +4 Strength modifier at this level, with Advantage, we lose by 4 DPR, but that Paladin had to invest in two feats to get there. In fairness though, those feats do have additional properties beyond this DPR, so don’t take this to mean those feats are bad choices, just that our choices do not cause us to trail by more than a marginal amount.
12Feat: Resilient
Constitution +1 (15=>16)
We have some good Concentration spells to cast that we don’t want to lose by getting hit on the front line. This will bump us up by +4, for a total of +9 thanks to this and Aura of Protection.
13Spellcasting
-4th-level spells
Our 4th-level list isn’t that great except for Find Greater Steed. Good thing we have Divine Smite and lower level spells that upcast fine like Command.
Our Oath grants Aura of Purity and Banishment with our 4th-level spells. Well, grants is not the right word as Paladins already have access to these spells, but thanks to the Oath they always come prepared for free. Aura of Purity is a great spell to just have ready whenever we’re up against the laundry list of bad status effects it defends against.

Banishment is interesting. Most of the time, the spell is thought of in terms of offense and used to send extraplanar baddies home, and that’s certainly an option. It targets Charisma which is generally easy to land, except that a majority of Demons and Devils have proficiency and high Charisma modifiers.

But think of it from another angle. We’ve fought the devils, pushed through a portal and are engaged in combat on the Nine Hells, cut off with no retreat. So we find a place to barricade in, it only needs to last a few minutes, for we are not in our home plane. Sure, at this level we can only send one person home, but in a few levels, we can send two with a 5th-level slot. Good thing we always have this magical evac on our tool belt.
14Cleansing TouchPunches so hard we break magic. As an action we can break spells on ourself and allies.
15Vigilant RebukeA fun little reaction ability. It won’t come up often, but it has no usage limit beyond using our reaction, so we can spam it whenever it triggers.
16ASI: Charisma +2 (16=>18)More willpower. Or whatever Charisma is a nebulous measurement of. More importantly, Spell DCs go up and +1 to all saves.
17Spellcasting
-5th-level spells
We can cast Holy Weapon. +2d8 radiant damage on all attacks. Good thing we get three of those.

On top of Improved Divine Smite, this is an extra +3d8 over any Paladins not using the double-bladed scimitar or investing into Polearm Master.
Because everyone adds the same +2d8 on top of the comparisons from eleventh level, we stay 4 DPR behind the Great Weapon Polearm Master, but not needing those two feats means we get to cap Charisma with those two ASIs.

Hold Monster, or as it should be called Automatic Critical Smite Dispenser. This spell right here is most of why we’re investing Charisma for our last two ASIs. We want this to stick when we have to cast it because free critical hits change a 1st-level smite into a 3rd-level smite, and that’s not counting the rest of the party.

Scrying is cool. It’s a tool that gets used occasionally, and Paladins don’t normally have it, so it’s nice to be able to scry cam someone from time to time.
18Aura ImprovementsEverything grows to 30ft.
19ASI: Charisma +2 (18=>20)Maximum Charisma. +5 to all saves, maximum save DCs.
20Mortal BulwarkTruesight is nice. Advantage on attacks vs extraplanar types is great. Banishment as a free rider on an attack is pretty nice too.