Guide to Building a Dragonborn Paladin: DnD 5e

Ironically, dragonborn in DnD 5e are built to be paladins.

Sure, we get lore of Bahamut and Tiamat, the dragon gods of good and evil, but the idea of a dragon as a good guy is at least a little ironic.  I mean, look at them—they breathe fire and look terrifying.  Taking something as chaotic and placing them into the role of a lawful hero is poetic.  In fact, it’s given me an idea.

For Sir Savage (my character), I’ve chosen the most aggressive paladin build I could think of.  Eat that, Barbarians.  And yes, I will be swinging a greatsword.  The goal here is to choose the right combination of aspects from the dragonborn and Paladin, dishing out fiery, divine punishment and tanking at the same time.  In combat, the best defense is a good offense.

Want to thrash enemies with a dragonborn Paladin?  Here’s how:

If you’d like a premade campaign to play your Dragonborn Paladin, check out my pirate adventure below.

Deadman's Tale an Island Pirate Adventure DnD 5e friendly 3rd party campaign

Choose a red or gold dragon (fire element).

In fact, the dragonborn breathe any element you want them to breathe.  The catch is to color coordinate your guy with the element you want.

I mean, honestly, is there anything in DnD more satisfying than blasting the undead?  My Paladin is built to destroy evil, making fire my go-to element (thematically speaking) for this character.

This means I have two choices: red or gold.

Both of these dragonborn can breathe fire in a 15-foot cone of fire toward an enemy, forcing him to roll a Dexterity saving throw.   On failed saves, fire engulfs the creature (or creatures) and deals 2d6 damage.  Even on successful saves, the baddy takes 1d6.  They’re getting burned, one way or another.  Being a close-range fighter by class, I appreciate this little facet of the dragonborn race.

The fire breath ability gives me a little range to my otherwise close combat style.

Another cool facet of this race is their natural resistance, which is related to their ancestry.   For me, this means resistance against fire.  Tell me that doesn’t come in handy.  I’ll dive in like a firestorm and nuke monsters from point blank range or burn down the whole castle.  Learn more about dragonborn characters by clicking here.

Wield a greatsword.

Honestly, at this point, I just want to thrash bad guys.

With a six-pound, two-handed greatsword, I intend to do just that.  This sword rolls 2d6 slashing, giving me the advantage of 2 dice.   Roll a d12 and landing on a 1 is a real bummer.

Besides, this instrument of death is perfect for channeling my Divine Smite, which adds an additional 2d8 (3d8 against undead or fiend) to the damage roll. Add up the damage, and we get 2d6 +Strength mod +2d8.  This is where that racial bonus to Strength comes in handy.

I’ve always loved the concept of a two-handed sword.  Heroes like Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 come to mind.  And yes, even Inuyasha.  The two-handed sword means do or die, it stands for an all-out assault style of combat and throws caution to the wind.  Maximum carnage is the name of the game.

And because I’m using a two-handed weapon…

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Choose defense fighting style with heavy armor.

The defense fighting style adds a bonus +1 to my armor class, which would already be heavy.

Even though I’m building this guy to be aggressive, I need to be able to survive.  If I can avoid more attacks, I’ll have more opportunities to attack.  Therefore, I’ll give up the great weapon fighting style for the bonus to AC.  I’ll probably use chain mail, giving me a base AC of 16 +1 (defense fighting style).  Plate mail could increase that even further, but the sound of plate mail makes me claustrophobic.

Save spell slots for divine smite.

Now back to our regularly scheduled character build, I say forget the spells.  I mean, I’ll probably have some ready to use, but I don’t plan on using them often.

Between Lay on Hands, which is gives me the ability to heal wounds, and my relatively high AC, I’ll rely on the bonus d8 dice that Divine Smite affords me.  When I reach higher levels, I’ll be able to increase the extra damage.  By 5th level, I’ll be able to increase the radiant damage to 3d8 for 2 spell slots.

Choose Oath of Vengeance

Sir Savage has a bone to pick with a rival god of battle (one without honor), who broke his arm in an arm-wrestling match.  This is why I chose Oath of Vengeance.  It’s actually perfect for my high-aggression strategy, allowing me to deter enemies and, more importantly, land attack rolls.

I receive a couple of cool traits with this path.

Abjure Enemy: Hold up a holy relic and use Channel Divinity, unless enemies are immune to fear, they make a Wisdom save.  On a failed save, the creature is scared for a handful of turns.  The creature is so frightened, it can’t move.  On a successful save, the creature’s speed is halved for one minute or until it takes damage.

Vow of Enmity: With this spell, I can utter my vow toward an enemy within 10 feet of me.  Again, for several turns or until it drops to 0 hit points or falls unconscious, I have advantage on attack rolls against the target.  As a two-handed weapon fighter, this is going to be crucial.  I can’t afford to miss if aggression is my strategy.

End notes on the Paladin.

Sir Savage took elements of the popular dragonborn Barbarian idea and crafted a Paladin, allowing me to benefit from Lay on Hands and heavy armor to cover the two-handed battle style.  On top of this, he’s able to injure magical enemies, who might otherwise be invulnerable or need silver elements.

Off the rip, Sir Savage is ready to slay demons.

Check out more character builds

Guide to Building a Wood Elf Ranger: Big Game Hunter

Guide to Building a Human Fighter: Sword Fighter


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