Paladins who follow the Oath o the Watchers in Dungeons and Dragons 5e have a psychic edge, seeing and defending against extraplanar threats like elementals, celestials, fey, aberrations and fiends. The Tenets of the Watchers include vigilance, loyalty and discipline, making them a sentinel of the beyond.
When building a paladin Oath of the Watchers, consider the following:
- Try a race with Strength/Charisma- fallen aasimar, dragonborn.
- Divine Sense, Protection Fighting Style and Lay on Hands.
- Use spell slots for Divine Smite, healing and Oath Spells.
- Oath of the Watchers abilities: Abjure the Extraplanar, Watcher’s Will…
- Remember higher-level paladin abilities.
Try a race with Strength/Charisma- fallen aasimar, dragonborn
With all the healing and defense capabilities of a paladin, I like to focus on Charisma and Strength for spellcasting and dealing damage. Therefore, I like races who give a boost to these stats like the fallen aasimar and dragonborn.
Fallen aasimar are the creepier versions of the angel-like aasimar, gaining a +2 Charisma/+1 Strength ability bonus. Like all aasimar, they come with the light cantrip and inherent resistance to radiant and necrotic damage. However, the fallen aasimar come with Necrotic Shroud, which forces foes within 10 feet to make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, they are frightened of me. Plus, I can deal extra necrotic damage on landed attacks equal to my level.
Dragonborn are built to fight, with a +2 Strength/+1 Charisma bonus. I can choose a Draconic Heritage for the color of my scales and inherent element. This inherent element is displayed in my Breath Weapon and Damage Resistance. Therefore, if I choose a blue dragon, I can expect a lightning Breath Weapon for 2d6 lightning damage and resistance to lightning damage. This could come in handy against elemental foes I stand against.
Divine Sense, Protection Fighting Style and Lay on Hands
Beginning my paladin journey, I’ll want to set this character up to be the best at my future Watcher oath. I’ll choose a shield and sword fighting style, portraying the inherent defender theme this class carries. Plus, I’ll choose proficient skills like Religion and Intimidation to fit my role in the group.
Divine Sense allows me to sense celestials, fiends and undead within 60 feet of me. In a way, the Oath of the Watchers plays off this original paladin feature.
Lay on Hands gives me a pool of HP I can use to heal myself or others. This well of HP equals my paladin level X 5. Therefore, at level 5, I will have 25 HP to grant. Alternatively, I can spend 5 of these points to cure a disease or poison condition. I can even stack these 5 HP chunks to cure multiple conditions—as long as I have enough in the tank. I can replenish this pool with a long rest.
Next, I’ll want to choose Protection Fighting Style at level 2. This fighting style draws on my use of a shield, granting disadvantage to attacks against allies within 5 feet of me. I can always dish out plenty of damage with Divine Smite, so I might as well lean into the sentinel aspect of this character.
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Use spell slots for Divine Smite, healing and Oath Spells.
Divine Smite gives me the ability to imbue my weapon with radiant energy, dealing an extra 2d8 radiant damage. I gain an additional 1d8 damage against undead enemies. For each spell slot above level 1, I gain an additional 1d8 with a maximum of 5d8 extra damage. Plus, I can choose to add this extra damage after an attack roll lands. Even as a defensive sword and shield build, I’ll gain moments of powerful damage output.
In my opinion, spell slots are best saved for Divine Smite. I already have Lay on Hands for healing. However, it’s always a good idea to have backup options.
The first few spells my paladin should consider from the original list include:
- Cure wounds: Heal 1d8 + Charisma modifier. Add 1d8 per spell level higher than 1.
- Detect poison and disease: Detect sources of disease and poison—poisons, poisonous creatures, diseases.
- Lesser restoration: Heal the poison, paralyzed, blind and deaf conditions.
- Thunderous Smite: As a bonus action, deal an extra 2d6 thunder damage and push target 10 feet back on a failed Strength save. I can even stack this option on top of Divine Smite, expending 2 spell slots in one big strike.
Oath of the Watchers Spells
As an addition to my basic paladin spells, I gain access to bonus spells from the Watcher’s Spell List. These spells have a theme of counter magic and magic detection—something that rings similar to the psi warrior class, but in paladin form.
- Alarm: Create a magical ward no larger than a 20-foot cube that alerts when creatures pass it.
- Detect Magic: I can detect the source of magic and the school it falls under.
- Moonbeam: A silvery cylinder with a 5-foot radius and 40-foot height falls onto the earth. Those who begin or end their turn inside the cylinder take 2d10 radiant damage on a failed Constitution save.
- See Invisibility: I can see creatures and people who have used the invisibility spell—or other magical invisibility. Plus, I can use this to see into the Ethereal Plane.
- Counterspell: Spells that are 3rd level and lower automatically fail. However, higher-level spells force me to make a DC saving throw equal to 10 + enemy’s spell level. I use my spellcasting ability for the saving throw.
- Nondetection: I can hide a target from divination magic. This is starting to feel like paladin intelligence and espionage.
- Aura of Purity: I extend a 30-foot radius aura of radiant energy, keeping my allies safe from disease, resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws for paralysis, deafness, blindness, charm and fright.
- Banishment: Target must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be banished to another dimension. To me, this is prime Oath of the Watcher material.
- Hold Monster: A creature I can see within range must make a Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed.
- Scrying: This spell allows me to locate a creature that exists on the same plane as me. Depending on how much information I have on the target, the save DC will fluctuate by +5.
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Oath of the Watchers abilities: Abjure the Extraplanar, Watcher’s Will…
At level 3, I will receive more abilities with my Channel Divinity: Abjure the Extraplanar and Watcher’s Will.
Abjure the Extraplanar turns aberration, celestial, elemental, fey or fiend within 30 feet of me. Targets must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or they run away. These creatures must take their turn to move as far away from me as possible. I can already turn the undead. Now, I’ve added way more options to that list.
Secondly, Watcher’s Will grants me advantage to Wisdom, Intelligence and Charisma saving throws. I can use this ability on myself or a number of allies equal to my Charisma modifier.
I learn Aura of the Sentinel at level 7, which adds my proficiency bonus to my Initiative roll. Allies within 10 feet of me also gain this bonus. However, I need to be up and breathing for this to work—so I can’t be incapacitated.
Vigilant Rebuke comes at level 15, giving me the ability to deal 2d8 + Charisma modifier damage after succeeding a Wisdom, Intelligence or Charisma saving throw. Again, I can extend this ability to include my allies. Now, I’m especially dangerous to spell casters.
Finally, I learn Mortal Bulwark at level 20, making me the ultimate extraplanar sentinel with these abilities:
- Gain truesight with a range of 120 feet.
- I have advantage on attack rolls against aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey and fiends.
- Banish a creature to their native plane when I hit them with an attack. They must make a Charisma saving throw or go back where they came from.
I can either finish a long rest to regain uses of this ability. Or I can spend a level 5 spell slot.
Remember higher-level paladin abilities.
As I level, I’ll still gain classic paladin abilities, including an Extra Attack, Aura of Protection and more.
Obviously, my Extra Attack (level 5) grants me another attack when I take the attack action. Again, I’ll have plenty of balance between offensive and defensive abilities.
Aura of Protection comes in at level 6, giving those within 10 feet of me my Charisma bonus to saving throws. However, Aura of Courage is my next ability at level 10, giving the same range of people fright immunity.
Improved Divine Smite (level 11) grants me a more contained radiant damage ability with my weapon. Now, I can increase damage dealt by normal melee attacks with 1d8 extra radiant damage. Also, I can add this extra damage on top of normal Divine Smite damage.
Finally, Cleansing Touch (level 14) gives me the ability to cure any magical effect on a target I touch. Of course, this can be used for me or an ally.