BG3 Paladin Handbook


According to Larian’s own statistics, the Paladin was the most popular class pick in Baldur’s Gate 3, and for good reason. Just like in tabletop Dungeons and Dragons, the Paladin is a master of high single-target damage, powerful utility, and durability while also being able to heal in a pinch. Everyone likes to say that Bard is the true jack of all trades and, while that may be true when it comes to skills and social situations, Paladin embodies that role when it comes to combat.

Combine the Paladin’s versatility with the fact that they can be a pretty effective Face and have a variety of powerful multiclass options, and it’s no surprise that most players prefer to pick up the class for their first, second, or even third playthrough.

Table of Contents


RPGBOT uses a color coding scheme to rate individual character options.

  • 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.

RPGBOT is fan content published under Larian’s Fan Content Policy. This is not official content, and RPGBOT has no official relationship with Larian.

Paladin Class Features

Hit Points: As a frontline combatant, you are second only to Barbarians in the amount of health you get. This, combined with your heavy armor, will make you one of the more difficult to kill members of your party.

Saves: Wisdom is one of the big three saves that really matter in this game as it will help prevent you from becoming victim to some of the nasty save-or-suck spells like Hold Person, especially on higher difficulties. Charisma saves hardly ever factor into the game.

Proficiencies: Like Fighters, you have access to every armor and weapon type in the game. That said, you are better off using melee weapons instead of ranged weapons most of the time as you cannot deliver smites through ranged attacks.

Channel Oath: This is a somewhat mixed bag. You only get one per short rest, barring some limited items that allow you to get more. Some of the Channel Oath options are great while others are just not worth your time. The value of this power is therefore highly dependent on your subclass and the current enemies.

Divine Sense: Unlike in the tabletop, this power sees a lot of use in the game. Baldur’s Gate 3 changed the power from a somewhat niche low grade locate spell to a powerful bonus action that gives you Advantage on attacks against fiends & undead for 2 turns (making them easier to crit on with your smites). Quite a few enemies in this game are one of the two, especially starting in act two. The third type, celestial, is almost non-existent in the game however. The big thing dragging this down is that it competes with other options for your Channel Oath charges.

Lay on Hands: This is extremely powerful in the tabletop rules as it allows you to split your pool of healing into as small an increment as you want. Giving a fallen party member one hit point to get them back in the fight is very effective. Baldur’s Gate made it much weaker, giving you just 3 charges of Lay on Hands that increase at 4th and 10th levels. You can use one charge to heal someone for twice your level or two charges to heal them 4 times your level (either of which also purge diseases and poisons afflicting the target). It’s still undeniably powerful and useful in a pinch, but it has lost its versatility somewhat.

Divine Smite: We all know why you’re here. Like in the tabletop, Divine Smite is relatively cheap for the amount of damage you deal. Even better, a good portion of the enemies you will face in Baldur’s Gate tend to be either fiends or undead, giving you even more bang for your buck. On a crit, Paladins can easily outpace all other martial characters except maybe the Rogue for sheer amount of damage on a single hit. Make sure you adjust the Reactions menu when you get this power as by default it will automatically activate on crits. This ability adds another damage die to the smite once you reach level 11.

Fighting Style: A big part of your play style, but it can also lock you into using a single subset of weapons, which really hurts when you pick up a shiny new magic weapon that you want to use and it doesn’t fit your Fighting Style.

  • Defense: +1 AC is literally always good on any character. Since it doesn’t require specific weapons or tactics, this is a great choice if you want the ability to change weapons.
  • Dueling: With the abundance of magic items available, the damage boost isn’t especially impressive beyond low levels. This is the go-to option for sword-and-board builds, but you may forget that it’s there when measured against other sources of additional damage.
  • Great Weapon Fighting: Mathematically awful. This adds roughly 1 damage to each attack at best.
  • Protection: Helpful for protecting less durable allies, but the positioning requirements present a huge challenge in a game where mobility and positioning are so valuable.

Divine Health: There are very few diseases in Baldur’s Gate 3 but when they come up you’ll be glad you have this and can save yourself the Lesser Restoration slot.

Extra Attack: As it is for Fighters and Barbarians this feature is huge for your damage output especially when you add more possible smites into the mix.

Aura of Protection: Like in the tabletop rules, this feature is massive and really helps allies close to you to resist some of the more devastating spells, especially if you invest in Charisma enough. The only thing bringing it down is the rather limited range which becomes an issue in a game where positioning is so important, though, fortunately, the paladin themselves always gains the benefits.

Aura of Courage: Another powerful passive ability that you’ll be glad you have, as there are more than a few enemies that can inflict the Frightened condition on you.

Paladin Subclasses

Paladins are somewhat unique in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 in how they approach subclasses. They technically have 4 subclasses, three available at character creation and one “secret” class. Your chosen subclass not only dictates the powers you receive but also the rules you must follow. These aren’t just suggestions, by the way; violating one of your tenets causes you to break your Oath and thus lose access to your divine features. You’ll know you’ve messed up when a scary knight confronts you telling you that you’ve violated your oath. This Oathbreaker Knight will then appear at your camp offering you a choice: forsake your oath and take up the 4th subclass of Oathbreaker or pay 1000 gold pieces to reclaim your oath. Suffice to say, if you don’t want to be an Oathbreaker you best try to stay on the straight and narrow, especially if you plan to be your party’s face.

WARNING: If you are playing Dark Urge there will be a moment in the story that you will be forced to violate your oath unless you’re aware of it and willing to accept a cheesy solution. If you either track events and know which long rest causes this violation or save scum your long rests until this happens (it’s in Act 1 so it won’t be forever), you can kill your character before triggering the Long Rest, make it through, and then resurrect them with either Withers or a scroll.

Oath of Ancients

Oath of Ancients is what you would get if you crossed a Fighter with a low level Druid. Oath of Ancients is probably the best healer subclass of the Paladin Oaths, but as a Defender and Striker you are better off with a different choice. The features and spells they get are also somewhat underwhelming when compared to the other subclasses.

Following this Oath requires you to be something of a tree hugger. You need to protect and aid animals and nature wherever possible and do not let those who would foul nature (e.g. evil fey) escape your judgment.

1: Healing Radiance

This is a remarkably powerful heal, especially in the early game. A bonus action to heal you and allies within range of your Aura of Protection twice over the course of one turn is great for when situations get dicey. Even if there are no allies around you, it can make all the difference in those tight situations where you want to save your cleric a spell slot to heal you and it will certainly out heal any health potion aside from the higher level ones. It does cost you a use of your Channel Oath feature however.

3: Oath Spells

Ancients Paladins get some decent spells. Speak with Animals, Misty Step and Plant Growth are useful throughout the game, but others are more niche or underwhelming. Moonbeam seems like it would be great on paper but you are better off using your action and spell slots to smite your foes, not moving moonbeams around.

3: Nature’s Wrath

This is Ensnaring Strike without the extra damage and costs one of your Channel Oath Charges. You’re probably better off just using Healing Radiance

3: Turn the Faithless

This is a rather niche use of your Channel Oath. There are a few fey, but not nearly as many as other types in this game. Fiends are relatively common, though, making this feature not completely useless.

7: Aura of Warding

Resistance to damage from all spells for you and your allies is incredibly powerful, especially considering there are some nasty spells that can one-shot your party members if you’re not careful. It’s just disappointing you get it so late in the game.

Oath of Devotion

If Ancients are the preeminent healer, then Oath of Devotion Paladins are the best Defenders. Their powers and spells focus on protection, either of themselves or their allies, while also hindering their enemies. You won’t deal the most damage, but you will be an incredibly annoying frontline.

Following this Oath requires you to be a stereotypical Paladin: defending the weak, forgiving your enemies, not being overly cruel, that sort of thing. You’re going to have to be ok with letting your enemies off the hook a lot, even if they have done some really despicable things.

1: Holy Rebuke

This can be useful for some free damage, especially to punish enemies who target your squishy allies. That said, there are just too many downsides to this. It takes an action, uses a Channel Oath Charge you could use for Divine Sense instead, and it only activates on melee attacks, so if your enemy is hitting you with spells or ranged weapons, this feature is functionally useless. A d4 is just not that impactful unless it is happening at least once a turn.

3: Oath Spells

 Devotion Paladins get some pretty great spells worth using including Beacon of Hope, Lesser Restoration, and Sanctuary. Sanctuary is very easy to exploit in this game as you can cast it as a bonus action and it requires no Concentration, allowing you to attack an enemy twice and then be functionally untargetable for a turn. You then need to wait a turn after attacking before you can use it again. It’s probably better to cast it on your Cleric, however, as things like Spiritual Weapon and Spirit Guardians don’t remove the effect, making your target unable to be targeted by the enemy.

3: Sacred Weapon

This is sort of like a half version of the Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature, allowing you to add your Charisma modifier to attack rolls but not damage. Being able to hit more reliably is always useful. On testing, though, this feature does appear to stack with the Pact of the Blade feature from Warlocks and thereby allowing you to add double your Charisma modifier to your attacks, making this feature very very good if you plan on multiclassing that way.

3: Turn the Unholy

This works similarly to Oath of Ancients’ Turn the Faithless power, but it is arguably more useful as you will face way more undead throughout the game than fey.

7: Aura of Devotion

There aren’t that many Charm effects in the game, but it requires no thought or upkeep on your part, so it will be something you appreciate having when those situations do come up.

Oath of Vengeance

Oath of Vengeance is probably the best damage dealer of the 3 main subclasses of Paladin and they have the most flexible/lenient oath. If you want to be dishing out big numbers as you smite your foes and not have to think too much about some stuffy creed, Vengeance is a good place to start. 

Following the Oath of Vengeance encourages you toward punishing the wicked, not allowing your enemies to get away, and protecting the innocent. Basically, you can think of yourself as the Batman of Paladins. Still out to protect and help those who can’t help themselves,but with no mercy in your heart for your enemies.

1: Inquisitor’s Might

Bonus action and you get to add your Charisma modifier as radiant damage to your attacks. Useful, but not life changing. The possibility of Dazing your target is also a really nice bonus. This also stacks with Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature, making Vengeance Paladins a great subclass for multiclassing in that direction.

3: Oath Spells

Oath of Vengeance Paladins certainly get all the best toys when it comes to spells. Hunter’s Mark, Misty Step, Hold Person, Haste. You will be struggling to figure out which spell deserves most of your attention and concentration. It’s Hunter’s Mark until you get Haste. Unless you’re on Honour Mode, Haste gives you a full second action, and it’s almost impossible to match that additional power.

3: Abjure Enemy

Frightened is a really broken condition in Baldur’s Gate 3, especially if you are able to knock your opponent prone. Prone gives anyone attacking the target Advantage while also giving the enemy Disadvantage on its attacks. Even better, if they manage to save, they are still slowed, which halves their movement speed.

3: Vow of Enmity

This Channel Oath feature only grants Advantage to yourself. However, it lasts for 10 turns, as opposed to 3. Save this for long battles against boss enemies.

7: Relentless Avenger

Getting an extra 15 feet of movement after hitting an enemy is very useful for those fights where there’s a lot going on, especially when combined with the Mobile feat.


Oathbreaker is the game’s “secret” subclass and it is easily the strongest. To unlock it you need to first break your oath in some way. Usually killing an innocent is the easiest way to do it for all of the oaths. After breaking your oath, you will be approached by the Oathbreaker Knight who will set up shop in your camp offering to help you reclaim your oath for 1000 gold pieces or to embrace the path of an Oathbreaker. He sticks around after you make your choice, so don’t worry if you change your mind and want to reclaim your old Oath later; he will still allow you to do so. Keep in mind, though, that Withers will not allow you to respec while you are an Oathbreaker, so it is important to plan out your features carefully.

1: Spiteful Suffering

1d4+Charisma modifier in Necrotic damage is fine, but we’re here for the second ability which grants you and your whole team Advantage on attack rolls against the target for 3 turns. This is incredibly broken and sets up some truly devastating combos. Even better, it targets their Charisma save, statistically the 2nd worst save for most enemies barring a few spellcasters (Intelligence being the worst stat on average).

3: Oath Spells

Oathbreakers get some pretty awesome spells. Hellish Rebuke is useful for punishing spellcasters and ranged attackers for daring to hit you, Animate Dead gives you a useful minion, and then there’s Darkness. There’s a reason why Oathbreaker Paladin + a 2 or 3 level dip into Warlock is so popular. Combining Darkness with Devil’s Sight makes you truly terrifying on the battlefield.

3: Control Undead

This feature is amazing as there are some very powerful undead in the game. You can functionally control any undead that is lower level than you, which opens up some really fun options. What makes this power super busted though is how you can exploit it. If you slay someone in some of the many shadows that litter the environment of Act Two, they will return as an undead creature. As long as you are higher level than them, you can make them your pet. If you can lure some powerful bosses here, you can create minions more powerful than you could ever hope to create through a normal spell.

3: Dreadful Aspect

Those other subclasses can turn what, one enemy? How about frightening everyone in a 30 ft. radius? Frightened is a brutal condition in this game, assuming you can get your enemies to fail the save of course.

7: Aura of Hate

Just a solid buff for you and any undead minions you have following you around. Once your Cleric gets the ability to summon devils, you get even more mileage out of this ability, really encouraging you to live out your dark knight commander fantasy. This ability also stacks with Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature.

Paladin Ability Scores

Paladins are frontline combatants that focus on weapon attacks. While they get more than most other martials by focusing on Charisma, you should still focus primarily on your physical abilities unless you plan on multiclassing. There are several feats which give you a +1 to your Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. Leaving these ability scores at an odd number at level 1 can thus be beneficial if you plan on taking one or more of these feats.

Str: Your main source of damage and what you will be using most often. This should absolutely be your highest ability score. You can also choose to take advantage of several different elixirs that set your Strength to higher levels and ignore your base Strength.

Dex: Useful for gaining more initiative in combat. It won’t do as much for you as some other classes, though, as your AC is taken care of by your heavy armor proficiency. Still, Dexterity is one of the more useful ability scores, so don’t ignore it completely. You can also build Dexterity-based paladins, though the game’s magic items don’t support it as well.

Con: This should ideally be your second or third highest stat. It gives you more hit points and allows you to maintain Concentration on some of your buff spells and smite spells.

Int: Dump stat. We don’t need no fancy school learning.

Wis: Wisdom saves and Perception checks are both common.

Cha: Charisma is useful for us but not critical. It helps with our Aura of Protection feature, as well as some of our subclass features. It also determines the saves on our spells. As a Paladin, though, your spell slots are better used on smites and buffs rather than offensive spells.

If you are multiclassing, especially if you plan on going Pact of the Blade Warlock, Charisma outpaces Strength in terms of priority and usefulness. The big choice for most Paladins comes down to Wisdom vs Dexterity. One of them is going to be your other dump stat; it just depends on what your priorities are. If you want to be able to act earlier or avoid AOE damage, go with a higher Dexterity. If you plan on using heavy armor and don’t really care about acting sooner in fights, Wisdom should be the higher of the two. Personally, I pick Wisdom. Outside of a few feats, acting sooner doesn’t do a lot for us, and we have enough health to tank most AOE damage effects. However, those save-or-suck spells can be particularly brutal on Paladins, so, as much as we can avoid that, we should. It also helps that we already have Proficiency in Wisdom saves and can get Proficiency in Dexterity saves as a feat later on to offset the penalties.

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Paladin Races

As a Paladin, you want races that synergize with your natural physical talents. Extra armor/weapon proficiencies will be useless to you, but races that give added skills, movement options, or abilities/spells to make up for your weaknesses should be your main priorities


Slow, and both Darkvision and Poison Resilience are replaceable with 2nd-level spells. The weapon proficiencies are useless for Paladin, since you already have them.

  • Gold Dwarf: More HP is great on a class that is going to spend most of their time on the frontlines.
  • Shield Dwarf: You already have Medium Armor proficiency.
  • Duergar: Advantage on some saves is nice, and Enlarge is useful for gaining more damage on your physical attacks. Invisibility is less useful, however.


Permanent damage resistance is nice to have. The breath attack is less useful, however.


Hand crossbows are not useful for a Paladin, and you already have that proficiency. 

Darkvision can be replaced with a 2nd-level spell. Fey Ancestry and proficiency in Perception are both good. Faerie Fire can be useful for setting yourself and your party up for crits provided you can maintain concentration on it. Darkness is what we are really here for. It can be extremely useful especially if you take a level dip in Warlock for Devil’s Sight.

Lolth-sworn Drow and Seldarine Drow are mechanically identical, but get access to different dialog choices.


The weapon proficiencies aren’t helpful, and Darkvision can be replaced with a 2nd-level spell. Fey Ancestry and proficiency in Perception are both good.

  • High Elf: Getting some cantrips could be cool for a class that doesn’t normally have them but they aren’t all that useful considering they function based off our Intelligence, which is a dump stat.
  • Wood Elf: Additional speed and yet another skill proficiency.


Gnome Cunning is an amazing defense, buts since we already have Wisdom save proficiency, the only thing we get is proficiency in Intelligence saves, which just aren’t common enough to be useful.

  • Rock: Adding twice your proficiency to History checks is nice, offsetting your poor Intelligence score when making History checks, but those checks are infrequent.
  • Forest: Speak with Animals is amazing in Baldur’s Gate 3, and you only need to cast it once a day anyway. It’s also available from abundant and inexpensive consumables.
  • Deep: Advantage on Stealth is useful for offsetting the penalty we get from wearing heavy armor.


Astral Knowledge is proficiency in as many as 4 skills, and you can change it every Long Rest. The Enhance Leap spell can be useful for the Paladin, as it doesn’t require Concentration and increases your mobility. You already have proficiency in Heavy Armor.


You already have the proficiencies this race offers. You get Darkvision (which is replaceable with a spell), Fey Ancestry, and a subrace.

  • High Half-Elf: Getting some cantrips could be cool for a class that doesn’t normally have them but they aren’t all that useful considering they function based off our Intelligence, which is a dump stat.
  • Wood Half-Elf: Better speed and proficiency in stealth. More speed is very helpful in Baldur’s Gate 3 because the game makes positioning so important. But there’s no reason to play this instead of a full Wood Elf.
  • Drow Half-Elf: Darkness is just an extremely useful spell for frontline fighters, especially when paired with Devil’s Sight from a Warlock dip.


Proficiency in Intimidation is very useful on a class that is encouraged to increase their Charisma.

Savage Attacks is useful when you are attacking with melee weapons, though you may want to focus on Greatswords/Axes if you’re going this route. Relentless Endurance just adds to your survivability


Baldur’s Gate 3 makes a natural 1 a Critical Failure, meaning that you automatically fail whatever attack/check/save. This makes Halfling Luck extremely useful. Brave is also nice, especially in a game where fear effects are surprisingly common. However we already get immunity to fear base-line in our class features.

  • Lightfoot: Advantage on Stealth is great to offset the penalty we get from wearing heavy armor.
  • Strongheart: Poison Resistance is available as a 2nd-level spell which lasts until your next long rest, so getting it from your race is pointless beyond low levels.


You already get proficiency in everything this race offers, so all you are really getting is a free skill proficiency, which is just not worth it when there are far superior options.

The problem with humans isn’t that they’re bad: it’s that for whatever you want from the human, there is a better solution. The primary thing a Race will give a Paladin is skill proficiencies, and Wood Elf gets two, while Githyanki gets Astral Knowledge (which can be as many as 4).


Resistance to fire is a great start. Fire damage is common. Most of the spells we get can be useful in their own way.

  • Asmodeus: Darkness is a really valuable spell for frontliners, provided you have the ability to take full advantage of it.
  • Mephistopholes: Flame blade and Burning hands are fine, but they get outpaced rather quickly.
  • Zariel: Even if the damage doesn’t scale well, you still get two free smites in addition to the ones you can normally cast. Definitely not to be overlooked.

Paladin Skills

  • Acrobatics (Dex): This is useful for avoiding getting shoved, but your Str will likely be higher than your Dex.
  • Animal Handling (Wis): Largely replaced by Speak with Animals or an equivalent potion.
  • Athletics (Str): Good skill for a frontline fighter to have as you will be doing more than your fair share of shoving foes around.
  • Arcana (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat, but if you have to take one knowledge skill, I recommend this one, as it comes up more than any other. This should not be surprising in a game dealing with Mind Flayers.
  • Deception (Cha): Even if you don’t plan on focusing on Charisma, it is a secondary attribute and this is a good face skill to have. It comes with the caveat that certain deception actions have the risk of breaking your oath if you’re not careful.
  • History (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat, and you’re better off taking Arcana.
  • Insight (Wis): Occasionally rolled during conversations.
  • Intimidation (Cha): Like with Deception, you have enough Charisma to make this work but be careful because if you intimidate the wrong person, it carries the risk of breaking your oath.
  • Investigation (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat and you’re better off taking Perception or Arcana.
  • Medicine (Wis): Almost never matters.
  • Nature (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat and you’re better off taking Arcana.
  • Perception (Wis): Consistently useful.
  • Performance (Cha): Even though it is Charisma based you will have almost no use for this skill.
  • Persuasion (Cha): If you only take only one face skill, it should be this. You have enough Charisma to make it work and it very rarely holds a risk of breaking your oath.
  • Religion (Int): Intelligence is a dump stat and you’re better off taking Arcana.
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Open locks, disarm traps, pick pockets. That said, your Dexterity likely won’t be particularly high compared to others, so you should probably leave this to the Rogue.
  • Stealth (Dex): Getting stealth proficiency can help mitigate the penalty we get from wearing heavy armor somewhat, and being stealthy as a group is always useful.
  • Survival (Wis): The buried chests are not worth the skill proficiency to find them.

Paladin Backgrounds

Backgrounds provide two skill proficiencies and determine the way that your character earns Inspiration. The game has ample opportunities to earn Inspiration for every background, so choosing a background typically comes down to what skills you want.

  • Acolyte: Insight can be very useful in social situations, Religion can come up more frequently as a Paladin but not frequently enough to matter.
  • Charlatan: Deception is good but risky and Sleight of Hand is not particularly useful for a Paladin.
  • Criminal: Stealth will help offset your penalty from wearing heavy armor, and Deception can be useful if used carefully.
  • Entertainer: You’re better off choosing anything else.
  • Folk hero: Animal Handling can be handled magically, and Survival is only useful for finding disappointing chests.
  • Guild Artisan: Insight and Persuasion are both highly useful Face skills, and you have enough Charisma to make this pay dividends for you.
  • Haunted One (Dark Urge only): If you’re playing Dark Urge, you’re locked into this. You get Medicine and Intimidation, only the latter of which is useful for a Paladin.
  • Noble: History comes up occasionally and Persuasion is the best face skill for a Paladin.
  • Outlander: Athletics is a great choice for the Paladin, but Survival is only useful for finding hidden chests scattered across the map that inevitably have disappointing treasure.
  • Sage: You’re not a Wizard.
  • Soldier: Both skills are very useful for a Paladin, even if Intimidation carries with it the risk of breaking your oath.
  • Urchin: Only partially worth it for the Stealth Proficiency to offset the penalties from heavy armor but there are far better options.

Paladin Feats

This section does not address every feat, as some clearly aren’t relevant to the class. For more general discussion on feats, see our Practical Guide to Feat Selection.

  • Alert: Going first can be good for Paladins but you don’t get as much out of it as other classes.
  • Athlete: +1 to Strength or Dexterity and you are able to get up from prone easier while also being able to jump further in a game where jumping is borderline broken.
  • Charger: This is pretty great for your overall mobility and battlefield control. Both unique actions take both an Action and a Bonus Action, though, and there are better feats.
  • Dual Wielder: Not worth it for a Paladin.
  • Durable: A +1 to your Constitution is definitely valuable and being able to regain all of your pool of hit points on a short rest helps add to your viability in drawn out days, especially when you usually gain very little on a short rest.
  • Great Weapon Master: This feat is great if you want to go all in on damage as a Paladin. Combined with Divine Smite you can output some absolutely absurd numbers, especially in the late game.
  • Lucky: Good on every character.
  • Mage Slayer: Useful, but a bit more situational. This will pay more dividends in the late game when about half of the enemies you face will be dangerous spellcasters
  • Mobile: Being more Maneuverable is extremely valuable to a Paladin, especially if you combine this with the Vengeance Paladin’s Relentless Avenger Feature.
  • Polearm Master: There are some pretty good Polearms in the game that will work for you. The damage is less than the greataxe/greatsword, but having more battlefield control and more opportunities to smite is always welcome. Keep in mind that the Opportunity Attack from this feat is distinct from the one afforded by Sentinel, so you can’t halt movement of creatures entering your reach as you can in the tabletop rules.
  • Resilient: Taking this to gain Proficiency in Constitution saves is useful if you plan on utilizing buff spells like Shield of Faith or Darkness.
  • Savage Attacker: Like with the tabletop, this feat is a bit of a trap. The math just doesn’t work in your favor and there are far better feats.
  • Sentinel: Another really great feat for a Paladin. Opportunity Attacks can benefit from your Smites and rider features, so having more opportunities to use them is valuable. Also, this helps tie down your foes, ensuring that they need to focus their attention on you instead of attacking your squishier allies.
  • Tavern Brawler: You’re better off using actual weapons. You can’t use Divine Smite with unarmed strikes.
  • Tough: While it may feel like this is good for doubling down on your large health pool, attrition fights are always a losing battle for players. Focus on ending encounters faster rather than on dragging them out until your party is out of resources.

Paladin Weapons

Like Fighters, Barbarians have access to all the weapons in the game. However only a handful of these weapons are actually worth your time due to how your features work

  • Battleaxe/Longsword/Warhammer: Classic choices if you plan on going sword and board. There are some great magic weapons of these types that are built explicitly for Paladins.
  • Dagger: Don’t use these.
  • Glaive/Halberd/Pike: Good for area control but not as damaging as great weapons and not as defensive as using a sword and board.
  • Greataxe/Greatsword: Perfect for if you want to go all in on damage. Combine with Vengeance/Oathbreaker Paladin and Great Weapon Master to even greater effect.
  • Greatclub: Unless you want to live out your caveman fantasy, stay away from this. 1d8 is pathetic for a damage die and there is a distinct lack of good magical options for this weapon.
  • Handaxe/Javelin: A useful answer to ranged combat for the Paladin.
  • Heavy Crossbow: Useful for when you run out of javelins or handaxes, and they have more range, but Dexterity is a tertiary ability score for you.
  • Longbow: Not really worth your time to use offensively, but there are a few longbows with great passive buffs, and swapping weapons is free even in fights.
  • Maul: There are a few Mauls that have features made for Paladins that you can exploit.

Paladin Armor

As a Paladin you want to try and wear the heaviest armor you can find. There are several amazing late game heavy armors that have features made for Paladins, including at least one that helps you regain the use of your Channel Oath feature. For the early game, getting your hands on Adamantine Splint armor as soon as possible should be your main priority.

Paladin Multiclassing

  • Barbarian: You can’t smite while raging.
  • Bard: Paladins and Bards pair extremely well together. Multiclassing in Bard as a Paladin gives you access to more spell slots, Bardic Inspiration, Expertise, and extra skill proficiencies. Being a Face is even easier when taking some levels of this class.
  • Cleric: Everything you could get from this class you basically already have and anything you couldn’t operates off of Wisdom, which is a dump stat for you.
  • Druid: Not worth it. Anything you could get from this class is not useful or doesn’t synergize with your features.
  • Fighter: Paladins get a lot out of multiclassing with Fighters and vice versa. Action Surge is such a great ability for anyone, and second wind is great for your survivability. You also get an additional Fighting Style, which is always useful. As for subclasses, Battle Master gives you some amazing maneuvers, while Champion helps you gain more opportunities to crit with your smites. Avoid Eldritch Knight, though. You already have spells and the ones you get from the Eldritch Knight scale off of Intelligence. Just be aware that Extra Attack from multiple classes won’t stack, so it’s not worth your time going further than a 4-level dip into fighter.
  • Monk: There is almost no synergy here.
  • Ranger: Just go Oath of the Ancients if this is what you’re looking for.
  • Rogue: About the only thing you’re getting out of this is Cunning Action, and there are feats that can basically replicate it. Thief can be good for getting an extra Bonus action but you don’t have a lot of abilities that use that.
  • Sorcerer: You get more spell slots with which to smite, as well as access to some great meta-magic options and buff/damage spells you wouldn’t have gotten normally. Font of Magic lets you turn spell slots into Sorcery Points, then back into 1st-level spell slots, which are the most resource-efficient way to use Divine Smite.
  • Warlock: Probably the best multiclass for a Paladin to take, bar none. The Hexadin is a classic for a reason. Depending on how far you choose to go into the class you stand to gain invocations, one or two spell slots for smiting that come back on a short rest, and the ability to completely dump your Strength in favor of focusing entirely on your Charisma. If you want to be an excellent Face and do a ton of damage, this class is a necessity. Even better, the extra attack from Pact of the Blade stacks with the Extra Attack feature from Paladin (Note: this is not the case in Honor Mode difficulty)
  • Wizard: You’re better off taking Sorcerer.

Paladin Illithid Abilities

Paladins can get a good amount from the Illithid abilities as most are just useful for everyone. That said, there are some clear overall winners.

[SPOILERS]: If you plan on investing heavily into Illithid powers as a Paladin, I highly recommend you attempt to get the Awakened buff from the Zaith’isk in the Githyanki Creche, which will turn all your Illithid powers into Bonus Actions.

Tier I

  • Concentrated Blast: You may use this more than most people as your concentration spells aren’t amazing, but this feature is not really worth the effort most of the time.
  • Favorable Beginnings: Can be very powerful when used on attacks like Great Weapon Master, and synergizes well with Luck of the Far Realms. Be aware, though, that if a member of your party attacks your target before you, you won’t get this benefit on that creature. It’s unclear if this is intended or a bug. This can also be very handy for social situations with creatures you just met and you need to make a good impression on.
  • Force Tunnel: Useful as a get-out-of-melee card, especially if you can do it as a bonus action. The potential of knocking enemies off cliffs is also there, and you won’t affect your allies.
  • Psionic Overload: Added damage is useful, especially when we get more attacks and the damage has a negligible effect on our health pool. Just make sure you don’t get too carried away and create an emergency for yourself out of nothing. Still, a high AC is easy to get on Paladin and can offset the negative effects of draining health.
  • Transfuse Health: Useful as a panic button when your squishy casters are looking weak. Of course, why not just have them drink a healing potion as a Bonus Action or use Lay on Hands?

Tier II

  • Ability Drain: This is absolutely busted on a Strength-based Paladin. Since you will be hitting with Strength most of the time, you can debuff Strength-based martial enemies over the course of just a few turns. If you have other Strength-based martial allies, this becomes even more impactful because it functions per character and the penalties stack. This is less useful on a Hexadin, however, as Charisma is almost never used in combat except by spellcasters.
  • Charm: Having abilities to avoid getting hit is very useful, but you already have high AC for that anyway. It does use your Reaction, too, so it competes for space with Opportunity Attacks.
  • Cull the Weak: This is a weird one as its value goes up as you invest more points into Illithid powers. If you plan on exploiting this, hoard those tadpoles for yourself alone.
  • Displace: Can be useful if you plan on shoving people off cliffs somewhat frequently. However, as a Paladin you’re usually better off just hitting people with smites.
  • Luck of the Far Realms: A guaranteed crit per long rest is amazing on anyone, but this is especially potent with Divine Smite, Great Weapon Master, and a smite spell all piled onto one attack. You can slice through enemies like butter if you set yourself up right.
  • Perilous Stakes: Very risky, but a Paladin can get some mileage out of this as the vulnerability can be mitigated somewhat by your high AC. It does make when the enemy manages to hit you hurt a lot more, however, so be careful with this. Also extremely powerful when used on enemies outside of Honor mode (you can’t use this on enemies in that mode).
  • Psionic Backlash: This is a very funny power that also uses your Reaction. I have killed more than my fair share of spellcasters with this ability, and it is never not hilarious. Enemies who you might not consider spellcasters can still trigger this because many unique abilities are implemented as spells, but they’re also implemented as 1st-level spells, so the damage you deal is negligible. It also competes for space with your Opportunity Attacks.
  • Repulsor: An upgraded form of your force tunnel that’s useful if you get surrounded. Be careful, as this power does affect your allies, so be sure you don’t knock them off a cliff with it.
  • Shield of Thralls: Very good on a melee martial character. More health is always welcome. The stun effect is absolutely brutal as you will be fighting in melee most of the time. If the stun goes off on even one melee enemy, it’s like Christmas has come early. However, your high AC will make this effect go off less frequently. It lasts until a long rest or it’s depleted, though, so there’s no real downside to using this.
  • Stage Fright: If you have high AC, this can be very effective. If you plan on exploiting this, make sure you try to stack your AC as high as you can, which can be fairly easy to do in the late game. Then sit back and watch as your enemies kill themselves in hilarious fashion.
  • Survival Instincts: This is good on everyone. Extra survivability is never not useful. Keep in mind that you can’t buy this power normally: You need to acquire this from a sidequest in Act I.

Tier III

  • Absorb Intellect: Situational. Towards this stage of the game there are a lot of enemies that will resist this effect, and the healing you get from it is pathetic.
  • Black Hole: The ability to pull a bunch of enemies to a single point, and then slow them and recast it for several turns is amazing. As a bonus action it is godly, deserving an upgrade to a Blue rating.
  • Displacer Beast Shape: You can’t smite or cast spells while in this form but you can still concentrate on ones you already cast like Darkness. You can essentially treat it as an additional pool of hitpoints with some very good abilities that allow you good control over the battlefield.
  • Fly: You get this one for free, and it is all upside.
  • Fracture Psyche: Useful for setting up your harder-hitting abilities like Great Weapon Master. The fact that it takes an Action reduces its value somewhat, but as a Bonus Action it is all upside.
  • Freecast: One extra high level smite per day is nothing to sneeze at. It’s not the most amazing buff for you, but definitely useful.
  • Illithid Expertise: Good if you’re planning on being the face of your party as Paladins that don’t spec into Warlock don’t have amazing social abilities. That said you get this very late in the game.
  • Mind Blast: The damage is respectable and stun is very useful for a Paladin to exploit. Obviously more valuable as a Bonus Action.
  • Mind Sanctuary: This is probably the best ability in the game. Every class can use this to some extent. What makes it a worse pick for Paladin is that it is a stationary effect in a small area, so you need to be very strategic about where you place it.
  • Psionic Dominance: This is essentially free counterspell lite. Definitely worth taking by everyone on your team if you can.

Paladin Example Build: The Death Knight

A classic, simple build for the Paladin that doesn’t require any multiclassing. We’re going to turn the Oathbreaker paladin into a frontline damage dealer and commander of the undead, leaning into the Lord Soth/Arthas Minethil aesthetic. Our powers will be focused on creating and controlling the undead or making our necromancer’s undead stronger while also dealing obscene melee damage. Since we can’t start as an Oathbreaker, we will have to start as a different subclass. The Subclass you pick doesn’t matter, but Vengeance can help with your damage early on, and Devotion can help with your survival, so pick whichever one you feel you need most. 


The quickest and easiest way to break your oath is to attack the Tieflings holding Lae’zel hostage.

Ability Scores

Paladin is a bit of a Multi-Ability-Dependent class (MAD) and so our ability scores may not be as high as other classes, especially since we aren’t multiclassing into Warlock to consolidate some of our abilities. Strength should be our highest, followed closely by our Constitution. Charisma is useful for us but not as necessary as we won’t be forcing creatures to make many saves. If you want to be a bit more of a Face for your group, you can have your Charisma higher than your Constitution, just make sure you are wearing the heaviest armor you can find to offset your lower HP. 

You can choose to leave either your Strength or Constitution at an odd number if you plan on taking the Athlete or Durable feats, but I don’t really recommend it as neither of those feats are amazing for Paladin. 


That said, there is a special item which you can get early on that allows you to increase one of your attributes by +1, which is useful if you plan on maxing out your Strength with a single ASI. This guide will assume you don’t find that item or give it to someone else.

Base+2/+1 IncreasesFinal


Any race can work here but we will choose Zariel Tiefling for the bonus smites.


Soldier, Noble, or Guild Artisan are the best options for the Paladin. I’m choosing Dark Urge for this build specifically because it fits thematically and we will probably be intimidating people more than we will be negotiating with them if we want to lean into that evil persona. If you’d rather roleplay as a good death knight then I recommend taking Guild Artisan instead.

Skill Proficiencies

Since we have Intimidation from our Background we’ll go ahead and take the other two we didn’t get from Guild Artisan: Insight and Persuasion. This will help us figure out our enemies’ true intentions and get in good with evil factions.


Since we get most of what we need for this build from our class features, Feats don’t make or break the build, they only improve it. There are a lot of good Feats you can take as a martial character but the two I specifically recommend for this are Great Weapon Master and Sentinel. Great Weapon Master will just significantly add to our damage as we will be using a Greatsword, especially when added to smites. Sentinel ensures our enemies can’t get away from us and allows us to retaliate whenever an enemy hits one of our minions.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1All Armor/Martial Weapon Proficiency

Lay on Hands

Oath of Vengeance

Divine Sense

Channel Divinity: Inquisitor’s Might
Paladins are pretty front loaded and we can’t start as an Oathbreaker paladin. We can break our oath within the first 3 levels pretty easily, however. For now we will start with Vengeance, which will allow us to add radiant damage to our weapon attacks. It also has the potential to daze enemies, which is definitely useful.

Level 1 is pretty straightforward: just hit things. If you’re fighting fiends or undead, use Divine Sense to give yourself advantage, and use Inquisitor’s Might for the big bosses.
2Divine Smite

Fighting Style: Defense

Wrathful Smite
Thunderous Smite
Searing Smite
You can pretty easily break your oath either at this level or next level. Just look for opportunities to take actions that go against your tenets. Keep in mind that to break your oath you need to be the person to perform said action, which usually involves you doing the talking. So if you usually have someone else in your group do the talking and they make the decision, you won’t actually break your oath.

As for Fighting style, since we will be using a Greatsword most of the time, we will pick up Defense to offset the lack of a shield. As for spells, you can really pick anything, but I would focus on buffing spells and smites and avoid those that rely on your enemies making a save as your Charisma isn’t ever going to be super stellar. Heroism can be useful for some durability and keeping you immune to fear, but you can also choose Shield of Faith if you are concerned about being hit with attacks.

As a Zariel Tiefling we also get a free Searing Smite once per long rest. It doesn’t scale with your level, but it is just free extra damage.

SPOILERS: If you are playing as the Dark Urge, your oath will be broken regardless of your choices at some point in the early game.
3Oathbreaker Paladin

Channel Divinity:
Spiteful Suffering
Control Undead
Dreadful Aspect

Oath Spells:
Hellish Rebuke
Inflict Wounds
At this point you should have broken your oath. We get some cool features right off the bat with Oathbreaker. Spiteful suffering is really good. It basically is like Divine Sense or Vengeance Paladin’s Abjure Enemy combined with Vengeance’s Inquisitor’s Might. We get to add necrotic damage to our attacks and grant Advantage for all of our allies against one target. Save this for boss enemies and don’t waste it on random grunts.

Dreadful aspect is very useful in situations where you’re dealing with a lot of enemies, especially considering its range is pretty big (30 feet).

Control Undead is going to pay huge dividends for us in the later game, but this early on its use is somewhat limited. Make sure that you spend as much time as you can in Act One so that you can level up as high as possible before moving to Act Two where this feature can really shine.

As for our spells, Hellish Rebuke is a good answer to ranged attacks on you, while Inflict Wounds is borderline useless. You’re better off smiting.
4ASI: Strength 16 –> 18Not a lot to write home about at this level. We want to bump our Strength to 18 so that we can keep up with damage and the higher AC we will encounter in Act Two.
5Extra Attack

Oath Spells:
Crown of Madness
Extra Attack is a good bump to our damage output and we now have access to 2nd-level spells which we will be mostly saving for higher-level smites. Our Oath spells aren’t amazing for us, but if you choose to take a dip into Warlock later, Darkness combined with Devil’s Sight is unbelievably powerful, especially when fishing for those critical smites.

Where possible you should save your smites for when you land a Crit or you are about to take out a strong enemy. If you want to smite on a non crit, you’re better off using lower-level slots, as the higher slots don’t scale amazingly well without criticals.
6Aura of ProtectionAnother boring level for us, but now we and our allies close to us are suddenly a lot harder to affect with spells and CCs thanks to our Aura.
7Aura of HateWe get one more spell slot and an upgrade to our Aura. This is where Control Undead really starts to pop off. 

SPOILERS: In Act Two there is this shadowy stuff everywhere that turns people into undead if you kill them in it. You can exploit this by luring some truly powerful enemies into the shadows, kill them, wait for them to respawn, and then use Control Undead on them. They get a Wisdom save but if it goes off you have an exceedingly strong ally until your next long rest when they get to save again.

Be aware, though, that you can only control enemies that are lower level than you. You can check this by looking at their HP bar display when you target them or by right clicking on them to gain more information. Your Aura also ensures that your undead minions are doing more damage when they hit.

Even without using Control Undead, this makes you a great ally to a possible necromancer wizard in your group, further buffing their already strong minions. A group of skeletons crowding into your aura can deal a huge amount of damage.
8Feat: Great Weapon MasterGreat Weapon Master will continue to add to the already absurd damage we get from our class features. All told, if we land a crit while using Spiteful Suffering, using Great Weapon Master, and a level 2 smite, our damage looks something like this:

4d6+16+2d4+6d8 (8d8 if undead or fiend)

That’s an average of 62 damage! (71 if they are undead or a fiend) 

SPOILERS: That’s enough to melt most low-to-medium-tier enemies and can absolutely wreck most boss monsters in Act 2. To put that into perspective, one of the later bosses in the Gauntlet of Shar has a mere 118 HP in Tactician difficulty, meaning you just deleted two thirds of his HP in a single attack.
93rd level Spells

Oath Spells:

Bestow Curse
Animate Dead
At this level we can do even more damage with our smites by using 3rd-level slots. As for actual 3rd-level spells worth using, Crusader’s Mantle can add more damage to you and your allies’ attacks (including that growing army of the dead), Blinding Smite can be good for giving your allies an opening, and Warden of Vitality is good for your survivability, especially in those longer, more difficult encounters.

As for our Oath Spells, Bestow curse is alright, but it requires enemies to make a save against us which they will probably pass. Animate Dead is good to give us another minion. Stick to skeletons, as your minions will be relatively weak for your level, so they won’t hold up to melee combat, but can still deal respectable damage, especially with your Aura of Hate..

If you’re thinking of multiclassing, levels 8 and 9 are both good stopping points. We have everything we need to make this build powerful on the frontline and the stuff we get from this point on is pretty underwhelming.
10Aura of CourageImmunity to fear for you and your allies is very welcome as there are several creatures throughout the game which can inflict the Frightened condition.
11Improved Divine SmiteWe get an extra d8 to add to our Smite damage. Woohooo. It feels underwhelming compared to what we’re getting from magic items, feats, etc. by this point.
12Feat: SentinelWe finish out by getting the Sentinel feat, which will allow us to attack more often when our enemies leave our reach or attack our minions. I waited so long to get this as, while it definitely increases our damage output a bit, you don’t need it, and it is more reliant on your enemies doing something which can be unreliable, especially at higher difficulties where the AI plays a bit smarter.