[Top 5] D&D Best Paladin Builds That Are Fun To Play

Best Paladin builds for 5th edition
Standing as the last bastion against evil, the holy knight knows no fear.

Only a select, worthy few have the heart to wield the power of the divine.

Warrior-priests, knights, Templars and crusaders, paladins embody the teachings of their gods, wielding their virtues like a bludgeon when facing the unholy threats which crawl within the shadows of the world.

The Rigors of a Champion

Plate and flail. Miracle and Crusader. Those who shine with divine might are a source of inspiration to anyone not burnt by their virtuous glow. The Paladin is one of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons’ most famous classes thanks to their flavor and incredible kit of abilities.

Capable of wearing heavy armor, blessed with the boons of the gods, and delivering more punishment than walking home with wet socks makes paladin a very desirable class to play.

Strap on your cuirass and polish your full helm, for tonight we embark on a holy mission to crusade for ways to build your paladin in 5th edition.

Halt! Stay your blade, you shan’t break your sacred bows, these builds are not meant to be followed as rigorously as your convictions. You are free to enjoy them in any way that fits your glorious crusade!

 We’ll be using options from the Player’s Handbook (PHB), Xanathar's Guide to Everything (XGtE), Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (TCoE), Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (SCAG), Fizban's Treasury of Dragons (FToD), and the  Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG).

1. The Sorcadin

Destined for greatness, the sorcadin wields its blessings since birth!

Capable of impossible things since birth, our paladin discovered they were blessed by their deity from a young age. Now, they endeavor to nurture that gift and spread the word of their god across the land.

The “Sorcadin” is a wordplay for this paladin – sorcerer multiclass. The multiclass broadens our options by a lot, but we’re going to focus on combining the powerful ability to smite their foes of the paladin with the reliable casting of the divine soul sorcerer from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

We postpone our Extra Attack feature in exchange for buffs and smite fuel from the sorcerer spell list. This build also gains us access to an emergency buff, Meta-magic, and more.

Since multiclassing is an optional rule in 5th edition, make sure your table uses it before making a sorcadin.

What the Sorcadin Excels in

  • Smite for days! Since the paladin’s Divine Smite feature uses spell slots as its fuel, multiclassing into sorcerer greatly increases the amount of smites we can do in a day.
  • Cantrips. Paladins don’t usually get cantrips, multiclassing lets us pick some for more ranged options as well as to bolster our melee ferocity.
  • Extra healing and utility. A single level of Divine Soul sorcerer gives us access to the shield spell and the ability to add 2d4 to a saving throw once per rest!

Build Details:

  • Ability Scores: With the standard array, we’ll get the following: 15 Strength, 14 Charisma, 13 Constitution, 12 Wisdom, 10 Dexterity, 8 Intelligence. You want at least 13 in Strength and Charisma to satisfy the multiclass requirements.
  • Race: Use the Half-elf racial ability score bumps to increase your Strength and Charisma to 16 and Constitution to 14. Darkvision and fey ancestry is icing on the cake!
  • Background: Choose any background that satisfies your roleplaying needs. Soldier or Adept goes well with the Sorcadin.
  • Equipment: Since our Dexterity is low, wearing the heaviest set of divinely regulated armor is advisable.
  • Class: Start at 1 in the paladin class. We begin with paladin because it gives us more hit points as well as heavy armor/shields proficiency.
  • At level 2, we get access to Spellcasting and the mouthwatering Divine Smite! The fighting style we recommend is Defense.
  • At level 3, take your first level in Sorcerer. Taking Divine Soul greatly bolsters our survival chances with their Favored by the Gods feature.
  • At level 4, take another level in sorcerer. Your Font of Magic feature will guarantee you never have any issues with spell slots for smiting your foes!
  • At level 5, take another level in sorcerer. Now with Meta-Magic, you can pick Quickened Spell to deliver an attack cantrip as a bonus action, which could also trigger a Divine Smite depending on your choice.
  • At level 6, take another level in paladin. We recommend taking the Oath of Vengeance so that no one can escape the impending doom that you represent!
  • From here on, continue as paladin until you reach 6th level in the class. Once done, grow in power as a sorcerer so you never run out of smites!
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Charisma score. If your game uses feats, take War Caster if you had not already acquired it.

Spell Selection

Our multiclass greatly broadens the paladin’s Spellcasting. While you’re mostly going to use your spells for smiting, here are our recommended spells for a more varied experience!

  • Sorcerer Cantrips: Booming Blade, Firebolt, Minor Illusion.
  • Sorcerer 1st-level Spells: Absorb Elements, Shield.
  • Paladin 1st-level Spells: Bless, Shield of Faith.
  • Sorcerer 2nd-level Spells: Mirror Image, Misty Step.
  • Paladin 2nd-level Spells: Lesser Restoration, Prayer of Healing.
  • Sorcerer 3rd-level Spells: Haste, Fireball.
  • Paladin 3rd-level Spells: Crusader’s Mantle, Revivify.

Build Overview

Ability Score Priority: Strength, Charisma, Constitution > Everything else is Interchangeable

Race: Half-elf.

Class: Paladin – Sorcerer multiclass.

2. The Vengeful One.

They carry the words of their god, and it says “be gone”

Once content with living their lives in peace, our paladin was dealt an immense betrayal. Now, they haunt those who wronged him with a zealous flame.

The Vengeful One is a barbarian – paladin multiclass which brings out the most of their damage potential by combining the Oath of Vengeance with the Path of the Zealot barbarian from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Once more, we postpone our Extra Attack in exchange for the ability to withstand great amounts of damage as well as dishing it!

What the Vengeful One Excels in.

  • Burst Damage. Mixing it up with barbarian, specially zealot, greatly increases our already considerable damage thanks to the Divine Fury feature.
  • Highly Durable. Multiclassing into barbarian gives our paladin the ability to rage. This means that you’ll become resistant to several forms of damage.
  • Great AC. Starting as paladin means that you’ll have about 16 to 18 Armor Class (AC) depending on your armor.

Build Details.

  • Ability Scores. Picking the standard array, we’ll get the following: Strength 15, Constitution 14, Wisdom 13, Charisma 12, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 8. It’s important to keep our Strength at 13 or higher to satisfy the multiclass requirement.
  • Race. Starting as Aasimar and picking the fallen sub-race will bump our Charisma to 14 and Strength to 16, both stats we need. At 3rd level, the Necrotic Shroud racial feature makes our foes soil their trousers if they’re close and boost our damage!
  • Background. Any background which fits your character concept will work. Haunted One works well with this idea.
  • Equipment. Even tough barbarians get the Unarmored Defense feature, we recommend donning heavy armor and wielding the meanest two-handed weapon you can find.
  • Class. Start at level 1 in the paladin class. We start as paladin because it gives us heavy armor proficiency and the ever great lay on hands.
  • At level 2, we punish our foes with the Divine Smite feature. We recommend picking the Defense or Great Weapon Fighting as your Style.
  • At level 3, embody the bloody vengeance you’ll unleash by taking the Oath of Vengeance. It’s Channel Divinity granting us the ability to get advantage against a foe for 1 minute!
  • Also at level 3, you gain use of your Necrotic Shroud ability, letting you add your level as necrotic damage!
  • At level 4, take your first level in the barbarian class. With our newfound ability to channel our anger management issues, we’re now impervious to puny blows!
  • At level 5, take another level in barbarian. Now we have advantage on Dexterity saves from sources we can see thanks to Danger Sense!
  • At level 6, take another level in barbarian. Become the avatar of divine rage by taking the Path of the Zealot. Now, whenever you rage, your first melee attack will deal an extra 1d6 + half your barbarian level.
  • From here on out, you can continue grabbing levels in either class. We recommend going paladin to rake up those smite numbers.
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Constitution score. If your game uses feats, take Great Weapon Master or Tough if you had not already acquired one or the other.

Build Overview

Ability Score Priority: Strength, Constitution > Everything else is Interchangeable

Race: Aasimar (Fallen).

Class: Barbarian - Paladin multiclass.

3. Drakeguard

A righteous defender, this draconic knight is the bulwark that keeps their allies safe.

With scales that glint like the sun, our paladin is a stoic knight who deeply believes that those with strength should protect those without.

A classic build that makes all of the paladin’s strength shines in a simple but effective way. Become the vanguard of your party, protecting them from those foul beasts that shall soon be smitten.

The Drakeguard makes the most out of the classical paladin build by picking the Dragonborn race from Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and focusing on defense rather than the offense with the Tenets of the Crown found in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.

What the Drakeguard Excels in

  • Superb AC. By going paladin, our heavy armor and shield proficiency bumps our AC to 18 from the start, going even higher once we get access to the Shield of Faith spell!
  • Supporting Allies. Thanks to the Tenets of the Crown, our Drakeguard can force foes to focus solely on them!
  • A burning touch. Dragonborn gain a breath weapon. This means we can now exhale elemental wrath upon our foes.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. With the Standard Array, we’ll get: 15 Strength, 14 Constitution, 13 Charisma, 12 Wisdom, 10 Dexterity, 8 Intelligence.
  • Race. Starting as a Metallic Dragonborn lets us bump our Strength and Constitution to 16. Additionally, depending on our ancestry we get a nice elemental resistance and a breath weapon!
  • Background. Anything which helps you build the story you wish to tell will work for a background. However, noble fits the bill for a Drakeguard.
  • Equipment. Polish your armor, for a nice shield and the bulkiest armor you can find will keep you, and your allies, safe.
  • Class. At level 1, take your first paladin level. You’ll only be taking levels in this class.
  • At level 2, the interception fighting style pairs nicely with our character concept. Access to Divine Smite also boosts our damage output.
  • At level 3, devoting ourselves to the Tenets of the Crown is the way to go! With our Channel Divinity, we can now force foes within 30 feet to save or become unable of moving away from us.
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Charisma score. If your game uses feats, take Sentinel or Tough if you had not already acquired one or the other.
    • As you gain in paladin levels, you’ll gain the following:
    • Become the protector of your allies by substituting their health pool with yours when they take damage.
    • Gain advantage on saving throws to avoid being paralyzed or stunned.
    • Turn the tide of any encounter by becoming resistant to physical, non-magical damage and granting your allies advantage on death saving throws.

Build Overview

Ability Score Priority: Strength, Constitution, Charisma > Everything else is interchangeable.

Race: Metallic Dragonborn.

Class: Paladin (Tenets of the Crown).

4. The Prodigious Charger

Galloping through the battlefield, this knight’s lance pierces through numberless foes.

An expert mounted combatant, our paladin has found a trusted steed which it can ride into battle against even hell itself!

If you’re feeling up to playing something unconventional, the Prodigious Charger is the build for you.

This build focuses on becoming the best jouster you possibly can by raking up those damage numbers and relying on the Find-Steed spell.

What the Prodigious Charger Excels in

  • Covering large distances. Since we’ll spend most of our time on horseback, our movement speed will be considerably higher.
  • Punishment delivery. By focusing on our mounted combat, we will optimize our lance damage to make every blow count.
  • Loads of Fun. If a bit whimsical, it’s fairly uncommon to see mounted builds in 5th edition, so you’ll have a taste mostly unheard of.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. With the Standard Array we’ll get: Strength 15, Charisma 14, Constitution 13, Wisdom 12, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 8.
  • Race. Going Half-elf lets us bump our Strength and Charisma to 16 and our Constitution to 14 for those well needed bonuses.
  • Background. As long as it fits the kind of character you want, any background will do. Noble works well.
  • Equipment. A jouster’s garb for us! Make the best of your heavy armor and shield proficiencies, and don’t forget your lance.
  • Class. At level 1, start as the paladin class. You’ll only be taking levels in this class.
  • At level 2, take the Dueling fighting style for a + 2 damage bonus on damage rolls for one handed weapons. The Lance, despite its size, is a one handed weapon when mounted.
  • At level 3, pledge your Oath of Devotion. Now, as an action, you can imbue your weapon with your determination! Add your Charisma modifier to the damage.
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Charisma score. If your game uses feats, take Mounted Combatant for advantage on your attacks while mounted!
  • Once you unlock 2nd level spells at 5th level, make sure to always have Find Steed prepared. Now you can always ride into battle, with style.
    • As you gallop from battlefield to battlefield, you’ll keep your allies from becoming charmed, be permanently protected from Good and Evil, and be as grossly incandescent as the sun!

Build Overview

Ability Score Priority: Strength, Charisma, Constitution > Everything else is interchangeable.

Race: Half-elf.

Class: Paladin (Oath of Devotion).

5. The Fearmonger

Savoring the fear of their foes, this paladin revels only in the thrill of battle.

Only a select few can truly embody the virtues of their gods, and none do so with the same fervor as our paladin when it comes to pleasing their war god!

The Fearmonger is a simple yet entertaining build, focusing on crowd control instead of damage. By using the Oath of Conquest from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, we play with fear itself to dominate the field.

What the Fearmonger Excels in

  • Locking down foes. With good tactical awareness, the Fearmonger makes sure their opponents move only where they allow them to move!
  • Debilitating the opposition. By relying on our fear effects, we grant disadvantage to all foes whose hearts can’t tolerate our sight.
  • Crushing their enemies. Wielding the divine powers of their faith, our paladin can dish out as much punishment as its peers.

Build Details

  • Ability Scores. Using the Standard Array, we’ll have: Strength 15, Charisma 14, Constitution 13, Wisdom 12, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 8. Since most of our abilities rely on fear, Charisma is as important as Strength for this build.
  • Race. Choosing Aasimar (Fallen) bumps our Strength and Charisma to 16! Not only that, their Necrotic Shroud racial ability gives us another chance at frightening our foes.
  • Background. For background, pick something that truly stimulates your imagination. Soldier is a solid pick for the Fearmonger.
  • Equipment. Since we’re going to be up close and personal, heavy armor is the way to go. For this particular build, we recommend a polearm as your weapon of choice.
  • Class. At level 1, pick the paladin class. You’ll be leveling solely as a paladin.
  • At level 2, the Defense fighting style ramps up defense almost as much as a shield does.
  • At level 3, break your opponent's will by taking the Oath of Conquest. Now, with Conquering Presence and Necrotic Shroud at your disposal, no foes will keep their pants dry!
  • Every time you gain an Ability Score Increase, make sure to increase your Strength by 2 until you reach a score of 20. Afterward, consider increasing your Charisma score. If your game uses feats, take Polearm Master and Resilient (Constitution) if you had not already acquired one or the other.
  • As your dread grows, you’ll gain the following:
    • Exude an aura that stops those afraid of you, make their knees clack!
    • Rebuke those who dare hit you as they take psychic damage whenever they land a blow.
    • Become an avatar of war, for 1 minute you become resistant to all damage, can make an additional attack and you now score critical hits on 19’s and 20’s.

Build Overview

Ability Score Priority: Strength = Charisma, Constitution > Everything else is interchangeable.

Race: Aasimar (Fallen).

Class: Paladin (Oath of Conquest).

Honorable Mentions

Steadfast, powerful and loyal. Paladin’s are the staple knights in shining armor of Dungeons and Dragons and they can be as varied as the myriad of players who wear their trappings.

While not full builds, here are some paladin subclasses we recommend if you want to try your hand at all the things these holy crusaders can do.

  • The Oath of Redemption from Xanathar's Guide to Everything mixes the formula with a paladin who strives to end conflicts before they start by talking to the hearts of people.
  • The Oathbreaker from the Dungeon Master's Guide is usually the opposite, having broken from their oath, they now roam the lands touching the hearts of people more literally with their host of impious followers.
  • The Oath of the Ancients from the Player's Handbook fills a different role. Closer to druids than one might think, become nature’s holy enforcer by taking their bow!

The Holy land’s Vaults.

Paladin’s serve as beacons for their allies, usually clad in shining plate and wielding thrice-blessed swords.

In pursuit of their lofty goals, they adhere to the tenets of their faith, but seldom does devotion alone protect one from a dragon’s fiery talon.

Consult the abbot, break open the treasury and listen, for next we recommend some items that would become a blessing in the hands of a paladin. 

  • Holy Avenger: With a +3 bonus to attack and damage, this magical weapon cleaves through fiends and undead like butter, dealing a whopping extra 2d10 radiant damage against them, as well as bathing nearby allies in an aura of protection.
  • Winged Boots: As paladins are a melee-oriented class, they struggle with foes that have verticality or superior range. Suffer no more, these bad boys can grant flight for far longer than any fly spell can!
  • Necklace of Prayer Beads: This necklace has 3 to 6 magic beads that contain divine magic. By attuning to it, your paladin can cast its spells as a bonus action, preserving their slots for powerful smites!

If you liked what you read, you may also be interested in:

[Top 10] D&D Best Paladin Weapons and Armor

[Top 5] D&D Best Tank Builds That Can Withstand Massive Damage

[Top 10] D&D Best Simple Weapons For Killing Foes

More on this topic:

Born in a land where the sun forever blazes comes a man with an undying love for gaming, Jose enjoys nothing more than spinning tales about the multiverse of creativity to captivate and inspire.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: World of Warcraft
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

Latest Comments

1 Gamers Commented on this game. ADD YOURS.

You must login to post comments.
500 characters remaining

All Comments (1)

seanybo17177's picture

seanybo17177 2 years 1 month ago

for the barb palladian multi-class, how would rage work while wearing heavy armour

More Top Stories