The current game goes out of its way to divorce the concepts previously associated with the class. The game text says that while Paladins are usually rarely of evil alignment, and most walk the path of charity and justice, the important thing is the nature of his or her holy quest. In fact, you might just be driven by an insatiable need for revenge. The text further suggests that a paladin might have a completely different set of morals than the oath they are swearing. This is all why I am disappointed in the Oathbreaker Paladin.
The Oathbreaker Paladin is specifically someone who breaks his or her oaths for either dark, yet selfish, reasons or to serve an evil power. This is specifically weird because the Paladin core class goes so far out of the way to make wiggle room for evil Paladins. Paladins have to have a holy quest, but they don’t explicitly have to be worshipers of specific gods. So why make Oathbreakers explicitly evil? It just doesn’t make any sense given what has been written. I mean really, why not just go back to Paladins being good and keep Oathbreaker as is? The overlap is confusing.
Beyond that, Oathbreaker seems a subclass of duty fulfillment. You have all these Oaths, we need to show what happens when you break the Oaths. Apparently it just turns you into a demon knight, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever. Oaths of Devotion and Oaths of Vengeance easily translate into some possibly evil options, but hey. No classification for GOOD ONLY, just EVIL ONLY. It’s a bizarre stylistic choice that seems counterintuitive to the rest of 5e.
I had originally planned on skipping Paladin. It had three core options and Oathbreaker was going to fill the niche I was looking to fill on other classes. However, it didn’t really seem to do that. With the narrative and the way the class works, I didn’t want to just do something like try and recreate Blackguard, because that would change oh so many core mechanics of the class, and I hate saying the word. Instead, I started thinking, what if you are a Paladin that swore oaths and suddenly that infrastructure was removed. In short, what if you had sworn oaths to a now dead god.
Oath to a Dead God
Oaths to Dead Gods occur more often than one might think. As gods war among themselves or portfolios shift hands, there are always those mortals that are left behind. A god of death, undead, and chaos might find that death has left their control and a god of justice now holds the reins. Sometimes, another entity might take control of not only the portfolios but the former inhabitant and worshipers of the god, as well. Other times, the followers are left to only hope for the resurrection of their divine patron. The holy quest for this oath is pretty straightforward, get your god back on her feet. Those that have taken oaths to dead gods adorn their armor with the imagery of the fallen god, usually paired with an appropriate theme of mourning.
Tenets of the Dead Gods
Though the individual devotions and strictures differ based on the lost god, those who are paladins of the fallen share some commonalities:
Remember. Through your words and your deeds, never let the world forget your fallen deity.
Focus. No task should be undertaken without furthering your cause.
Convert. A god cannot exist without followers. Foes must be given the chance to join your crusade before feeling your wrath.
Explore. There is no avenue that should not be considered in the resurrection of your deity.
3rd: Armor of Agathys, Longstrider
5th: Mirror Image, Shatter
9th: Magic Circle, Sending
13th: Dimension Door, Guardian of Faith
17th: Contact Other Plane, Legend Lore
When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.
As an action, you can imbue one weapon that you are holding with psychic energy, using your Channel Divinity. When you hit a creature with a melee attack, you can expend your Channel Divinity to deal extra psychic damage to the target. The damage equals 5 + twice your paladin level.
As an action, you can imbue one weapon that you are holding with psychic energy, using your Channel Divinity. For 1 minute, your weapon deals psychic damage instead of its normal damage type, as it becomes a silvery version of itself. Whenever a creature hit by you while this Channel Divinity is active attacks another creature besides you before the start of your next turn, you may spend your reaction to cause the creature to suffer psychic damage equal to 5 + your paladin level in psychic damage.
You can end this effect on your turn as part of any other action. If you are no longer holding or carrying this weapon, or if you fall unconscious, this effect ends.
Edit 1/26/17: As Rene points out in the comments, this isn’t a great Channel Divinity option. Sure, it’s a near copy of the Death Cleric option, as Control the Ancients parallels Control Undead, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do better.
Control the Ancients
As an action, the paladin targets one elemental or aberration he or she can see within 30 feet of him or her. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target must obey the paladin’s commands for the next 24 hours, or until the paladin uses this Channel Divinity option again. An elemental or aberration whose challenge rating is equal or greater than the paladin’s level is immune to this effect.
Beginning at 7th level, you and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you have resistance to Psychic and Cold damage. At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 feet.
Beginning at 15th level, any successful melee attack against aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead imposes Disadvantage to the next saving throw or attack roll made by the creature. A successful attack also allows any friendly target within 30 feet to immediately make a saving throw against any charmed, frightened, or possession effect currently active by the creature.
Sentinel of the Silvery Void
At 20th level, you take on the form of a guardian of the Astral Plane, the Silvery Void. Using your action, you undergo a transformation. For 1 minute, you gain the following benefits:
- You may use Misty Step in place of your movement.
- Enemy creatures within 10 feet of you are vulnerable to psychic damage.
- Friendly creatures within 30 feet deal psychic damage equal to your Charisma bonus on every successful attack.
- Friendly creatures within 30 feet of you benefit from Rary’s Telepathic Bond
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.