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DnD 5e: Every Paladin Subclass, Ranked

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The Paladins of Dungeons & Dragons take solid oaths to serve and protect the world around them from darkness, evil, cruelty and other threats. Their bond of service holds them accountable to their deities, the world and the people who depend on them to see justice laid out and stability maintained or restored. But while every Paladin is sworn to an oath that motivates their every action and grants them unique powers, not all oaths are the same.

Some oaths are more lenient, while others are so overpowering they all but consume the Paladin, who is more than happy to give their life to see that oath fulfilled. Some Paladins break their oaths, allying themselves with dark forces in a pact that drives and empowers them with the same ferocity and dedication. Regardless of the oath taken, these lawful party members will do everything in their power to uphold their tenets and beliefs — even if it means making questionable sacrifices that make the rest of the party uncomfortable.

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10. DnD’s Oath of the Crown Paladin Is Common, but Unexciting

a dnd paladin in shiny gold and silver armor

Paladins who swear an Oath to the crown offer their services to lawful deities who demand civilization remain upright and intact. They protect the realm they serve and follow strict tenets of law, loyalty, courage and responsibility, spending their lives ensuring that they and everyone else around them follows the law to its letter — or take responsibility for their actions when they don’t. This Oath is incredibly common, and the spells and attributes it offers are typical. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there are definitely far more exciting options.

9. Oath of Devotion Paladins Are Righteous – And Not Much Else

Oath of Devotion Paladins are the proverbial knights in shining armor that seem to ride straight out of a Bard’s tale ready to serve and protect aback their lofty steeds. They hold the tenets and beliefs of their gods higher than all others and strive to be as worthy as the angels themselves. In fact, their dedication and devotion to the angels they long to imitate often appears in the form of wings on their helmets or armor.

Paladins of Devotion swear tenets of honesty, courage, compassion, honor and duty. In time, their righteousness is so powerful, they can even shine an aura of divine sunlight that causes radiant damage against enemies within 30 feet. Devotion Paladins have cool abilities, but like Oath of the Crown Paladins, their stereotypical, storybook presence isn’t the most interesting or creative choice.

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8. Oath of Glory Paladins Are DnD’s Most Noble and Disciplined

a dnd paladin with a red cape and a spear

Paladins who swear the Oath of Glory are destined to be true heroes alongside those they travel with. They are driven by their tenets of action, challenge, bodily honing and discipline. These Paladins drive the people around them to strive to be the best, putting true acts of heroism and glory above petty wants and needs. While they have the potential to become epic, almost godlike athletes, the fact that they’re so adamant about everyone else following their path can make Glory Paladins insufferable, no matter how noble their intent.

7. DnD’s Oath of Conquest Paladin Can Balance a Party – Or Tear It Apart

a dnd paladin brandishing a glowing censer

The Oath of Conquest drives a Paladin into furious battle bent on absolute order and subjugation. They will stop at nothing to bend chaos to their will, leaving behind absolute order in their wake no matter the cost. Some of these Paladins have even been known to ally themselves with the lawful evil forces of the Nine Hells simply because their desire for order demands it.

Conquest Paladins follow dark tenets that Douse the Flame of Hope, push them to Rule With An Iron Fist and ensure Strength above all. Their power hungry motivations put them mid-list because they have the absolute potential to become tyrannical, which isn’t generally good for balance within the party.

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6. Critical Role’s Oath of the Open Sea Offers Paladins Incredible Power

Technically, Critical Role‘s Oath of the Open Sea Paladin is not an official D&D Paladin Oath. Created by Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, followers of this oath take refuge in the natural beauty of the sea. They pay homage to deities like the Wild Mother and the Storm Lord, whose ever-changing nature is reminiscent of the sea that shapes every aspect of their lives.

The tenets these Paladins cling to include freedom, trust in the skies, being as adaptable as water and a willingness to explore the uncharted depths and endless waves. Open Sea Paladins gain abilities to shape, create and control water, as well as call upon aspects of the storm, such as lightning and maelstroms. Despite their incredibly powerful and dangerous nature, they aren’t considered official, which means they can’t be used in Adventurer’s League events.

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5. Oath of the Watchers Paladins Have Lots of Story Potential

Paladins who bind themselves to the Oath of the Watchers are stalwart sentinels who stand between the mortal realms and extraplanar threats that would threaten their peace and stability. Their bodies, minds and spirits are aligned with detection and extermination of such threats, and they often run extensive spy networks to try and infiltrate cults that could bring dangerous enemies to the realm.

Watchers swear tenets of vigilance, loyalty and discipline, becoming powerful shields against threats from beyond the stars. These Paladins have plenty of potential for intrigue and mystery. Someone like this could work with a party for some time before their true nature is revealed, making them a dangerous but worthy ally.

4. Oath of the Ancients Paladins Are DnD’s Epitome of Light

One neat thing about Paladins who take the Oath of the Ancients is that this knightly order is as old as time itself. Sometimes called Fey Knights or Green Knights, these Paladins seek to preserve the very beauty of life and light. The tenets they swear prompt them to kindle, shelter and preserve the light, while also embodying every aspect of light. They have access to nature in ways similar to Druids, and they’re capable of putting both fey and fiend in their place with little more than the utterance of an ancient phrase.

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3. Oathbreakers Are DnD’s Uniquely Dark Paladins

A Paladin becomes an Oathbreaker if they cut ties with their sacred bond to pursue their own desires and ambitions. Many Oathbreakers swear allegiance to a dark entity or power, sort of like a Warlock and their Patron, and what light once lived within them becomes overpowered by the darkness. What’s most interesting about these Paladins is how similar their power is to those who still cling to the light.

Oathbreakers can’t break their oaths until they reach level three, at which time they can replace their original oath with darker and more ambitious powers, like Hellish Rebuke, Darkness, Crown of Madness and Bestow Curse. They also gain access to some really awesome features at later levels, like Aura of Hate and Dread Lord.

2. Oath of Redemption Paladins Are Perfect for DnD Role-Players

a dnd paladin with a ghostly figure behind her

One thing that makes Redemption Paladins interesting is that they work tirelessly to maintain balance and bring redemption — even to those others might consider unworthy — using minimal violence. Following tenets of peace, innocence, patience and wisdom, they do everything in their power to redeem those they come in contact with in hopes of restoring balance. On the other hand, they don’t waste time or effort on what they know in their hearts to be lost causes, like undead, demons, devils and other inherently evil supernatural entities.

With plenty of options to protect and preserve through the radiance of their oath, they can shelter the innocent while restoring the wicked to righteousness. Redemption Paladins come with tons of potential for amazing role-playing, especially in a world of darkness that feels absolutely irredeemable.

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1. DnD’s Oath of Vengeance Paladins Are Terrifying Avengers

A demonic looking dnd paladin accompanied by a small flying elephant

Those who swear an Oath of Vengeance seek to punish the most grievous of sins. They will avenge the downtrodden, the desolate, the helpless and the meek, putting the forces who brought ill circumstances down upon them in their place. They abhor suffering and will do anything in their power to put a stop to it. While other Paladins seek glory and honor, these heroes act because everyone should get what they deserve — especially the wicked.

Vengence Paladins are relentless in their pursuit, and their special abilities allow them to track and hold onto enemies with spells like Hunter’s Mark and Hold Person. They also gain the power to become literal avenging angels that sprout wings and emanate a terrifying aura of fear. The fact that they can grow wings and actually use them to fly makes the Oath of Vengeance the best Paladin Oath.

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