Best builds for Paladins in Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition)

These mighty holy warriors will be a big part of your adventuring party.

Paladins can often be an easily overlooked class to be created in Dungeons & Dragons. To some, they may not be the most exciting characters to make, but overall they are good at both offense and defense with some support abilities as well. If you give your paladin time to grow and adapt the many useful skills they have on their side, they will be a certain boon for your party. Here are some suggestions for you if you are attempting to build a paladin to smite your foes.

Race

Your choice of race for your paladin will leave you with quite a few viable options that all have their positives. Paladins will want to have plenty of strength and constitution for their physical prowess, but be sure to include as much charisma as possible as that is their spellcasting ability. Here are some of our favorite choices for paladins and why you should consider them.

  • Aasimar – plus two to charisma and one to constitution if you choose scourge sub-race or one to strength if fallen sub-race.
  • Dragonborn – plus two to strength and one to charisma. They have resistance to their draconic ancestry’s element.
  • Dwarf- plus two to constitution and two to strength if you choose the mountain dwarf sub-race. You gain proficiency in battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers, and warhammers.
  • Half-elf – plus two to charisma and one to two other abilities of your choice. Gain proficiency in two skills of your choice and have advantage against being charmed. Magic cannot put you to sleep.
  • Half-orc – plus two to strength and one to constitution. When you are dropped to zero hit points, you automatically regain one, and critical hits with melee weapons give you an additional damage dice roll. Automatic proficiency in intimidation, which works into your charisma uses.
  • Human – plus one to all ability scores. An easy choice if you want an all-around paladin.

All of the above choices are our favorites for paladins, but of course, choose what race you think will be the most fun for your paladin.

Fighting style

Image via D&D Beyond

When you reach level two, you choose one of four fighting styles that give specific bonuses. In all honesty, all four options are good, so choose which one you want the most.

  • Defense gives a bonus to your armor class.
  • Dueling gives an additional two to your damage rolls when you hold one weapon.
  • Great Weapon Fighting gives you an extra roll on a one or two attack roll.
  • Protection gives enemies disadvantage on attack rolls when they go for nearby allies.

Spells

While not dedicated spell casters, paladins have quite a few useful spells they can use. Starting at level two, you can use spells enhanced by your charisma modifier. These are the spells we recommend you grab at each level. For more details on them, be sure to either check the Player’s Handbook or visit D&D Beyond’s spell list. As is the case for everything else in this article, choose the spells you personally want.

Paladin levelSpell slot levels gained per levelSpell name(s)
2Two first levelBless, Divine Favor
3One first levelSearing Smite
5One first level, two second levelDetect Magic, Aid, Find Steed
7One second levelZone of Truth
9Two third level Aura of Vitality, Revivify
11One third levelRemove Curse
13One fourth levelDeath Ward
15One fourth levelBanishment
17One fourth level, one fifth levelLocate Creature, Banishing Smite
19One fifth levelDestructive Wave

Sacred oath

At third level, you make an oath to the deity you serve to forever fight for them. At third, seventh, 15th, and 20th level, you gain certain features depending on your choice. Here are the three sacred paths you can choose from in order that we recommend.

1. Oath of Devotion

With Oath of Devotion, you pledge to be courageous, honest, and compassionate to those around you. You put a great deal of thought into your honor and duty.

Oath spells

You gain these spells when you reach each level.

  • 3rd: Protection from Evil and Good, Sanctuary
  • 5th: Lesser Restoration, Zone of Truth
  • 9th: Beacon of Hope, Dispel Magic
  • 13th: Freedom of Movement, Guardian of Faith
  • 17th: Commune, Flame Strike

Channel Divinity

At third level, you gain Sacred Weapon and Turn the Unholy. Sacred Weapon adds your charisma modifier to your weapon’s attack rolls for a minute. Turn the Unholy keeps fiends and undead away from you. If they fail a wisdom saving throw, they continuously move away from you.

Aura of Devotion

At seventh level, you and your teammates within 10 feet cannot be charmed. At level 18, the range extends to 30 feet.

Purity of Spirit

At level 15, you always have Protection from Evil and Good active.

Holy Nimbus

At level 20, you have proven you are a Beacon of light in the world. For one minute, light shines on you, and creatures within 30 feet of you start their turn with ten radiant damage. You also have advantage on saving throws against spells from fiends and undead.

2. Oath of Vengeance

Oath of Vengeance paladins are dedicated to eradicating evil from the world. They always look to take them down swiftly and mercilessly.

Oath spells

  • You add these spells when you reach each level.
  • 3rd: Bane, Hunter’s Mark
  • 5th: Hold Person, Misty Step
  • 9th: Haste, Protection from Energy
  • 13th: Banishment, Dimension Door
  • 17th: Hold Monster

Channel Divinity

At third level, you gain Abjure Enemy and Vow of Enmity. Abjure Enemy can choose one enemy and make them frightened from you and cannot move (if they fail the save). Vow of Enmity gives you advantage against creatures within 10 feet of you.

Relentless Avenger

At seventh level, on attacks of opportunity against enemies, you can move half of your movement speed to close in on foes running away.

Soul of Vengeance

At 15th level, Vow of Enmity lets you use a reaction to attack the affected enemy with your melee weapon if in range.

Avenging Angel

At level 20, you gain the following features for an hour. Wings sprout from your back, and you can fly for a speed of 60 feet, and you emit an aura 30 feet out that frightens enemies within that fail a wisdom saving throw and give all allies advantage against them if frightened.

3. Oath of the Ancients

The Oath of the Ancients sees you fight to build hope in the world. You look to encourage others and make the world a little brighter for everyone with the aid of nature.

Oath spells

Add these spells to your list when you gain the proper level.

  • 3rd: Ensnaring Strike, Speak with Animals
  • 5th: Misty Step, Moonbeam
  • 9th: Plant Growth, Protection from Energy
  • 13th: Ice Storm, Stoneskin
  • 17th: Commune with Nature, Tree Stride

Channel divinity

At third level, you gain Nature’s Wrath and Turn the Faithless. Nature’s Wrath lets you attempt to trap a close creature in holy vines. If it fails a strength or dexterity save throw, the creature is restrained. Turn the Faithless works the same way as Turn the Unholy, except it works on fey and fiends, not undead.

Aura of Warding

At level seven, you and close allies have resistance to damage done by spells. At level 18, the range is 30 feet.

Undying Sentinel

At level 15, when your hit points go to zero, you gain one back. You also do not show signs of old age and cannot be aged magically.

Elder Champion

At level 20, you can become an ancient force of nature for one minute. During this time, you heal ten hit points each turn, paladin spells become bonus actions, and close enemies have disadvantages against your spells.