Introduction

The Oath of Veneration Paladin subclass comes from Keith Baker’s Chronicles of Eberron, representing an Oath to one’s ancestors, gaining strength and conviction from following in their footsteps. While we already have an ancestor spirit based Barbarian Path, this Oath has its own place in exploring this kind of character archetype. In order to accommodate a wide variety of possible ancestors, this subclass does something special (almost unique except that the Maverick Artificer from Exploring Eberron works in a similar fashion) with their subclass spells.

In exchange for mostly getting one spell per level from the subclass, the player chooses a specific class and freely picks one spell of each level from that class for the list. I say mostly because it does grant Enhance Ability, Find Steed, and Find Greater Steed as well but those were already Paladin spells. On top of the spell flexibility, this subclass brings a bit of skill versatility with Channel Divinity, gaining temporary expertise when you need a key skill. Together these features make for a highly customizable Paladin subclass that can be tailored to your needs.

The other half of the Channel Divinity feeds into the Ancestor Spirit theme of the subclass, buffing an ally or casting Find Steed. On its own, this is a fairly useful feature, but it becomes much stronger thanks to the Aura of the Paragon and Exemplar Companion features. The Aura of the Paragon is a damage boost that allies can take advantage of whenever the Paladin uses Divine Smite, framed as an echo of the Ancestor’s power.

The Exemplar Companion feature boosts this aura even further by designating certain creatures and allies as the titular Exemplar Companion, extending the Aura in a radius from the Exemplar as well as granting a larger damage boost to the Exemplar when the Paladin Divine Smites.

If you’re on the fence about allowing this third-party subclass into your game, I find that, while the versatility in bonus spells is strong, we’re still looking at a Paladin with half-casting slot progression. Sure, the Paladin might decide that they have Fireball for their 3rd-level bonus spell. That sounds cool, but it’s not available until ninth level, so it’s not ridiculous, and the Eldritch Knight has been doing this since the PHB released in 2014 and no one’s complained about it. I don’t think this subclass unbalances anything, but it definitely adds something not already expressed in the existing Paladin Oaths.

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 Veneration Features

  1. Oath Spells: The Oath of Veneration’s Oath Spells feature does not work the same as other Paladin Oaths. Instead of a list of spells, the Paladin chooses a casting class to represent their ancestor and then chooses a single spell for each level of 1st to 5th from that class’s list in addition to a few fixed spells. This results in having fewer bonus spells than any other Oath in exchange for being able to pick nearly any spell. So we’ll be ranking the Ancestor classes in terms of how good that particular list is.
    • Artificer: The Artificer has a decent slice of spells we can poach, like Absorb Elements, Faerie Fire, Healing Word, Web, and even Fly, but it’s a much narrower selection than just choosing Wizard unless you explicitly want the handful of artificer spells that are not also on the Wizard’s spell list.
    • Bard: The Bard list is a mixed selection of spells that has some ok offerings, but we find it difficult to really find five spells that we want on Paladin but which are not on another stronger list or on the Paladin list already.
    • Cleric: Cleric has a strange place here. It has a lot of overlap with existing Paladin spells, but it does give us Spirit Guardians and Healing Word.
    • Druid: With Druid you do have access to some unique options, including a few Summoning options which interact well with Exemplar Companion, but you can get those same summons elsewhere in these class options.
    • Ranger: It’s a little better than Druid because it has martial-focused options like Hunter’s Mark and Zephy Strike as options along with most of the things we would have taken from Druid. Also, Guardian of Nature is actually pretty scary on a Paladin.
    • Sorcerer: It’s the Wizard list, but smaller.
    • Warlock: This list has a lot of unique spells that don’t appear elsewhere like Armor of Agathys and Shadow of Moil. Also consider Shadow Blade. The damage of that spell is balanced for classes that don’t get Extra Attack.
    • Wizard: The sheer number of spells to choose from makes this the most versatile of the options. Remember, you’re locked into the ancestor’s class, but can switch a spell out from the same list when you gain a level. The same Shadow Blade advice in Warlock applies here.
  1. Channel Divinity:
    • Ancestral Recall: Getting both Proficiency and Expertise in any one skill or tool for a short duration as a Channel Divinity is very useful. Maybe we need to be really good at Grappling for one fight or maybe we need to make an important History check. Pop this and give it a shot. For even greater effect, combine this with Enhance Ability. At that point, your ability score in the skill hardly matters.
    • Ancestral Companion: Enhance Ability is a strong spell and it happens to trigger some of our later features, but Find Steed is a great spell to have as a Channel Divinity since even your magical steed is still paper thin and likely to die if monsters look at it funny. In the event that something bad happens to our Steed, getting it back after just a short rest without spending a spell slot is really nice.
  2. Aura of the Paragon: Whenever we smite, allies who happen to be close enough can get some extra damage on their next attack, but it costs their Reaction to get the damage and the damage isn’t much. It’s a nice benefit, but the positioning and the Reaction cost from our allies does hinder it a bit until we hit fifteenth level and get Exemplar Companion, and at that point the 1d4 damage is negligible.
  3. Exemplar Companion: This does a few complicated things. Our Aura of the Paragon radiates from anything we have summoned with magic (or anyone we have cast Enhance Ability on). This includes obvious things like if we pick up a spell like Summon Fey Spirit through the Oath Spells feature, but it also includes anything summoned with Find (Greater) Steed or if we acquired the Find Familiar spell. As an example, this means that if we have a familiar in the Fighter’s pocket while the Ranger is riding our flying steed, we could be 100 feet away, use Divine Smite, and both the Fighter and the Ranger could accept the bonus damage.

    In addition, our summoned creatures and anyone who we affected with Enhance Ability get more damage from Aura of the Paragon, which makes Aura of the Paragon’s impact more meaningful at such high levels. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be concentrating on Enhance Ability in combat, so this ability likely only applies to your summoned creatures.

  4. Perfect Avatar: This is a typical Paladin capstone that does things to enhance your combat prowess for a minute. Except it has one special caveat that makes it far stronger: All of the benefits apply to any creatures that count as Exemplar Companions. This is good enough that you might cast Enhance Ability on an ally before walking into combat.

Oath of Veneration Ability Scores

We can follow the same scores as the Paladin Handbook

Str: We need this for using our weapons.

Dex: Unless we want to use Finesse weapons, this is a dump stat. You could get Mage Armor from your oath spells, of course, but there are much more exciting options.

Con: Concentration, HP, dangerous saves that kill us.

Int: We don’t need this.

Wis: Resists some dangerous saves. Powers insight and perception.

Cha: Boost Spell DCs and all Saving Throws.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str1515
Dex812
Con1513
Int88
Wis810
Cha1514

Oath of Veneration Races

There isn’t anything that stands out as changing our racial options so refer to the Paladin Race Breakdown.

Oath of Veneration Feats

As always check the Paladin Handbook for feat options.

  • Resilient (Constitution)PHB: Depending on our Ancestor spell choices, it might be prudent to pick this up so that you can reliably maintain the cool Concentration spells that you selected for your oath spells.
  • War CasterPHB: Similar to Resilient above, depending on spell choice, this may help us hold Concentration, and since the paladin is built for melee you’re more likely to benefit from the ability to use spells in place of Opportunity Attacks.

Oath of Veneration Weapons and Armor

Not different from the Paladin Handbook.

Example Oath of Veneration Build – Grey Knight

We’ll be taking advantage of the unique spell options to improve our damage and provide defensive support to the team. This example will be using Wizard as our Ancestor’s class for access to some powerful spell combinations.

Abilities

We’ll be putting 15s in Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Because we’re not multiclassing, there’s nothing stopping us from playing a medium armor wearing Dexterity-based Paladin. We’re choosing custom origin Half-Elf as our race with the +2 into Dexterity and the +1s into Constitution and Charisma.

BaseIncreasedLevel 20
Str888
Dex151720
Con151616
Int888
Wis888
Cha151620

Race

Half-Elf gives us access to the Elven Accuracy feat, which is why we’re using Dexterity and Finesse weapons. For our Skill Versatility feature, we’ll take Sleight of Hand and Acrobatics.

Background

We’re taking the Criminal/Spy background, which gives us the Deception and Stealth skills. On top of that we’ll also get Thieves’ Tools proficiency.

Skills and Tools

From Paladin, we take Persuasion and Intimidation. This completes our set of Charisma and Dexterity skills when combined with our choices from Background and Race. This gives us the option of filling the Expert role while still being a Paladin.

Feats

At fourth level, we take Elven Accuracy and put the +1 into Dexterity, raising our score to 18.

At eighth level we take +2 Dexterity, raising our score to 20.

At twelfth level, we pick up War Caster to help safeguard our Concentration saves.

At sixteenth level, we take +2 Charisma, raising our score to 18.

At nineteenth level, we take another +2 Charisma, raising our score to 20.

Levels

LevelsFeats and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Divine Sense

Lay on Hands

Skills
-Acrobatics
-Deception
-Intimidation
-Persuasion
-Sleight of Hand
-Stealth
At first level, we can pick up a Rapier and Longbow as our two free martial weapons and trade out that Chain Mail for Scale Mail. Then use some starting money to buy a shield for 10 gold.

We fight like any other Paladin at this level. There’s no AC difference between medium and heavy armor until someone has enough money for plate.

Because we don’t even have Divine Smite yet, we could even use the Longbow and fight from range if we want.
2Divine Smite

Fighting Style: Dueling

Spellcasting
-1st-level spells
We get spells and Divine Smite. Keep the Longbow for situations where we can’t reach our foes, but switch to using the Rapier primarily. We’ll be using the Dueling Style to get some extra damage out of it.

We could probably cast Bless or Heroism or Cure Wounds with these slots.
3Oath of Veneration
-Wizard Ancestor

Spellcasting
-1st-level Wizard Spell
Silvery Barbs

Channel Divinity
-Ancestral Recall
-Ancestral Companion
-Harness Divine Power
We take the Oath of Veneration and choose Wizard as our Ancestor’s Class.

With this choice we select the 1st-level Wizard spell, Silvery Barbs. We’ll use this to support our allied spellcasters in getting key spells to stick while also giving ourselves the Advantage half of the spell.

With Ancestral Recall we can have Expertise in various skills when we need it. We have plenty of Social skills, but we don’t have Insight, so if we’re heading into Negotiations it would be prudent to use this channel to compensate for our lower Wisdom score.

Ancestral Companion is interesting because it gives us access to Find Steed two levels early, which is mostly just convenient to have. Might as well summon up a horse.

Harness Divine Power is actually fairly useful for getting an extra spell slot per day so long as we short rest a few times.
4Feat: Elven Accuracy
+1 Dexterity (17=>18)
Elven Accuracy is the main reason we chose to be a Dexterity Paladin. It works fine with our Rapier and our Longbow, but it will pair even better with the Wizard 2nd-level spell we pick next level.
5Extra Attack

Spellcasting
-2nd-level Wizard spell
–Shadow Blade
Not only do we attack twice now, we take the Shadow Blade spell from the Wizard list.

We can’t use it in every fight, but if we cast it in round 1 and then swing it six times over 3 rounds, that’s the same extra damage as two 2nd-level or three 1st-level Smites. As a bonus, if the fight is in dim light or darkness, then we have Elven Accuracy Advantage.

We can also prepare other 2nd-level spells like Aid or Lesser Restoration.
6Aura of ProtectionThis comes online just in time to help us keep our Concentration on those Shadow Blade casts.
7Aura of the ParagonA little extra damage our allies can tap into whenever we Smite. Because we’re using Shadow Blade to save on spending slots to Smite, we’ll use Smites proactively when allies are in position to take advantage of the extra damage.
8ASI: Dexterity +2
(18=>20)
More Dexterity than the average Paladin.
9Spellcasting
-3rd-level Wizard spell
–Counterspell
With 3rd-level spells we choose Counterspell so we can counter spells and protect our team. Now, Counterspell does require a Somatic Component and we would likely have our hands full, but we can just drop the Shadow Blade and as a bonus action it returns to our hand.

Additionally, Shadow Blade can be upcast to 3rd-level for even more damage.

Our DPR with a 3rd-level Shadow Blade is 28.00 if we don’t have Advantage, and 43.09 with our Elven Accuracy. Thanks to Shadow Blade getting Advantage in any dim light, we’re incredibly likely to have it.
10Aura of CourageImmune to Fear is pretty good.
11Improved Divine SmiteAn extra 1d8 Radiant damage on every attack. A good boost, especially with our consistent Elven Accuracy.
12Feat: War CasterWar Caster helps us maintain that Concentration, and stops us from having to juggle the Shadow Blade in case of Counterspell.
13Spellcasting
-4th-level Wizard spell
–Dimension Door
-or-
–Secret Chest
We get our 4th-level spell choice here. If it wasn’t obvious, I’ve been avoiding Concentration spells so that we don’t interfere with Shadow Blade.

Dimension Door is great for quick escapes with a passenger along for the ride.

Secret Chest, on the other hand, is good for stashing things we don’t want found.
14Cleansing TouchRemove a spell on us or someone else. It’s useful, but there’s not much to say here.
15Exemplar CompanionThis turns our Find Greater Steed into our Exemplar Companion. It would also boost other creatures created with our magic, but we haven’t made anything else in this particular build.

That doesn’t mean we can’t. In fact, if we replaced Counterspell with Animate Dead, every skeleton and zombie we animate would radiate our aura. There is no actual limit to this feature. Make yourself a bag of rat skeletons and have your friends carry skeleton rats around in their pockets.
16ASI: Charisma +2
(16=>18)
Better spell DCs. Better saves.
17Spellcasting
-5th-level Wizard spell
Wall of Force
We get 5th-level spells now and we have an interesting option. Holy Weapon adds 2d8 damage to a weapon, which would match the 3rd-level numbers from Shadow Blade if we applied it to our rapier. The main advantage to this is that Holy Weapon lasts an hour instead of a minute.

Additionally, we’ll pick Wall of Force for our 5th-level Wizard Spell. A strong spell for emergencies. Like a giant shield of holy shadow or something. We have been using Shadow Blade for 12 levels or so.
18Aura Improvements30-foot radius for our auras.
19ASI: Charisma +2 (18=>20)Better spell DCs. Better saves. Again.
20Perfect AvatarThis feature is actually pretty strong. If nothing else, we can make free shove attempts alongside our normal attacks for the duration.

And remember, this buff is mirrored on all Exemplar Companions. Yes, this does mean if we took that detour and built an Animate Dead platoon, every zombie and skeleton would have this same boost.