Paladin Class

Well... we are gearing up for our next Next session.


When last we met, our intrepid party were preparing to take the north road. Some elements of the party wanted to immediately head west off that north road but an imposing, judgmental norse mountain of steel insisted on "doing things the honorable way".


Sounds pretty Paladin like... doesn't it. How is this possible you ask when the there isn't a Next class description for Paladin? It must be some variation of Cleric... right?


Actually no...


Mike Mearls wanted us to "think outside the box" and get back to our roots. To me, D&D's roots are firmly in shiney plated pious soil. We were, by Mike in his many podcasts and writings, and the playtest materials themselves, given license to be "creative". So we were.


What we came up with (the "we" in this case was myself and our stalwart Next DM) is a mashup of the warlock and fighter classes with some concepts drawn from the cleric. The focus on this class is to be the militant arm of justice for the clergy. Think of them as a terribly pious Judge Dredd. They aren't priests but they do have a connection to their deity and are granted access to the deity's powers through favors in much the same manner as a warlock. They don't have the experience dice of a fighter but they do gain certain advantages when in combat with those that they have "marked for justice".


We took great pains to balance the class and while some areas may seem powerful to those coming from 2nd edition, they are commensurate with the powers and abilities of other classes in the Next playtest. Additionally, we offset some of those powers by applying certain disadvantages at times.


If interested, our version of the D&D Next Paladin can be found at

seanbonney.com/smiteclub/?p=27

it was suggested that the shortened link might cause folks to shy off... hence the edit. We are interensted in feedback and don't want to shy interested folks off


For anyone curious, the real URL is seanbonney.com/smiteclub/?p=27

Here's some suggested changes:


A Paladin serves the cause of justice and law through strength of arms, holy devotion, and adherence to a strict moral code. Paladins are allowed to keep only a minimum of treasure attained, donating the remainder to support law, good, and their holy cause. Paladins may own a maximum of 4 magic items.

  • Prerequisite: Lawful alignment (Good or Evil. Neutral is not supported)

  • Key Ability: Wisdom.


Holy Vow



Paladins take a vow to further the cause of a specific deity or planar being. They are regularly in contact with these beings through prayer and devotion. A Paladin will never act against his vow, or allow others to harm his cause. The specific benefits of the vow depend on the cause, but in general they are:


Level 5: Righteous Glow


Your vow allows you to channel divine power, bringing fear to all evil/good creatures who behold you. You may spend a favor to encase your body in a holy glow for 1 hour. During this time, all evil/good creatures attacking you are at disadvantage on their attacks and saving throws vs. your attacks, and any creatures whose maximum hit points are less than yours must make one initial saving throw (not at disadvantage) vs. Wisdom or run away in fear for 10 minutes.




Yup, that should do it.

If I had to make a criticism, I would say that this class is very, very liberal with its use of dis/advantage.  Causing a single target to suffer disadvantage for a minute would be overpowered enough, especially when you consider that it prevents targets from using any of their own abilities that require taking disadvantage in order to activate.

Taking advantage for an entire session worth of CHA checks seems ridiculously overpowered in any social setting, and honestly feels like it would end up stepping on the bard's toes.

The ability to convince people of anything that the paladin believes seems... open to abuse.  That it resolves using two separate ability modifiers on the part of the paladin is a break from form, which would seem out of place alongside the rest of the system.  (Honestly, if it was something like CHA + 3 then it would fit in better, but this is a silly system at its base.)

The metagame is not the game.

I like the ideas presented. A couple of my thoughts.

1. I think pathfinder did a real good thing when they switched paladin spells from Wis to Cha. It really helps the "not having to be so multi faceted" problem. TBH I wouldn't mind to see a paladin without spells at all, or maybe a limited use of them like in the warlock's case. 

2. Why did you bring back marking? I'm not bashing, I'm just curious. People seem to be all to eager to rehash mechanics from older systems that they liked, and I think it's kind of detrimental to the growth of 5e.

3. Some of the abilities do seem a bit powerful.

Other than that it looksed pretty nice. Definately a rough draft though.

My two copper. 
My two copper.
I am DM for the Next campaign where we are trying this Paladin class out. Thanks for the feedback. My responses:

Qmark:

1.  Not sure why you would want to remove references to the cause of justice and strict moral code. Both go with LG alignment and are really just flavor.

2. Max of 4 magic items, like several other considerations, is a nod to old school mechanics, and reflects the intention that the power inherent in this class be properly counterbalanced. Isn't this the essence of the Paladin, extra powers compensated by behavioral restrictions?

3. Taking the alignment restriction out of the class turns this into something else, more a set of Background/Specialty than a specialized and restrictive class. Nothing wrong with that, you could certainly construct a Priest background and avenger Speciality to accomplish some of the same things. Our goal was to have invocations and expertise dice express the class in a specific way, distinct from good-aligned fighters or rogues.

4. Taking the evil/good restriction out of the level 5 power Righteous Glow seems op to me. Do we really want good and neutral characters to feel fear when beholding the Paladin? 

Saelorn:

1.  I hadn't realized that use of disadvantage would prevent targets from using some of their abilities. I still don't understand how that would work, but that effect is not what I had in mind.

2. The CHA check advantage is probably op in its original form. During the most recent session, the Paladin was able to convince a very important NPC of a very important truth, propelling a party of 1st level characters quickly to a position of favor. I think the quality of the truth conveyed needs to be scaled by level to nerf its effectiveness. My use of INT + CHA was an attempt to reflect the attributes I thought would come into play, but I agree this is a bit silly and not in line with other skill checks. I may go with:

Level 1: Divine Word


Through your vow, some of the divine power and grace of your deity flows through you to create awe and bend others to your cause. When speaking to creature(s) who can understand you, you can spend a favor either to convince them of one truth that you honestly hold (your Charisma +3 vs. their Intelligence) or gain advantage on the next several Charisma checks (equal to your level.) 


Jenks:

1.  Swapping Charisma for Wisdom as a dominant attribute is an intriguing idea. An argument could be made for either. The daring, brave knight or the thoughtful, sagicious warrior poet. Functionally, it would be the same. This might depend on the flavor you're going for.

2. Marking is being used to reflect the "avenger" style of this class. While the rest of the party takes on the mob, the Paladin is inclined to single out the greatest, most evil threat, even if this makes him more vulnerable to the mob. Our player group of 40-something geeks are all from 2e backgrounds. None of us played 3rd or 4th, so marking is new and exciting to us.

3. I agree. The truth will be in the playing and I'm ready to buff and nerf as needed.

------

Thanks for the feedback. Our next play session will involve the first long, brutal combat. I expect the Paladin will have more of an opportunity to use his marking ability and hopefully that dual rapier-wielding elf in the party won't steal his kills like last time. 
1.  Not sure why you would want to remove references to the cause of justice and strict moral code. Both go with LG alignment and are really just flavor.

and because it's flavor, it deserves no more weight than "suggestion".

2. Max of 4 magic items, like several other considerations, is a nod to old school mechanics, and reflects the intention that the power inherent in this class be properly counterbalanced.

Attempting to balance a class in this way is meaningless and serves no actual purpose. 
There's no 'bite' to limit-4 at all.  That just means awesome sword, awesome armor, and the two best rings available.

3. Taking the alignment restriction out of the class turns this into something else, more a set of Background/Specialty than a specialized and restrictive class. Nothing wrong with that, you could certainly construct a Priest background and avenger Speciality to accomplish some of the same things. Our goal was to have invocations and expertise dice express the class in a specific way, distinct from good-aligned fighters or rogues.

And removing the alignment lock does not mean LG (or LE) paladins cease to exist.  It just means the other 78.8% of the alignment table isn't shut out.

4. Taking the evil/good restriction out of the level 5 power Righteous Glow seems op to me. Do we really want good and neutral characters to feel fear when beholding the Paladin?

"Oh those guys are neutral.  Your swag doesn't work now."
Qmark - I think you may be thinking of a different kind of class. The Paladin we are house ruling has certain key elements: LG alignment, moral code, pursuit of justice, and austerity. 

If you read the first line of the class description linked in the original post, you will understand what we are trying to do:
A Paladin serves the cause of justice and law through strength of arms, holy devotion, and adherence to a strict moral code.


The question isn't whether you would prefer to run this sort of class as opposed to a more general background/specialty based fighter, but if the mechanics described meet our design goals.

At my table, I have no problem shutting out CG Paladins, or LN, or any other alignment than LG. Paladins are holy avengers. They don't act irrationally, they don't maintain neutrality, and they aren't evil. If someone wants to create an Anti-Paladin, the design path to that class is fairly clear, but I would only allow it as an NPC. I'm not interested in running or DMing evil PCs.

I do think that the max 4 magic items rule is a little underformed. Maybe 1 item per level, max of 4, and DM reserves the right to restrict the number of epic magic items. Like the Priest, the Paladin embodies personal austerity. It's one of the constraints the Paladin needs to offset his powers.

If you think that having powers restricted to effect specific alignments is a new idea, I would refer you to Protection from Evil. A LG Paladin displaying his holy might should clearly have more of an effect on evil doers than neutral-aligned NPCs.