Last Updated on January 22, 2023
This guide is designed to give you a deeper understanding of one of Dungeons & Dragons 5e’s most unique, interesting subclasses: the Oath of Conquest Paladin.
To help you fully embody this martial spellcasting class, and really get to grips with the Conquest Paladin’s potential as an offensive tank and battlefield controller, we’ve broken down the features and abilities that make this class a unique and powerful addition to any adventuring party, as well as highlighting some of its shortcomings and how to overcome them.
Paladins are one of the best classes in D&D 5e for multiclassing, and we’ve included some notes on how to diversify your build for greater effect.
Also, because the Conquest Paladin relies so much on synergies with the rest of its party to be fully effective, we’ve lined up a few other classes that gel really effectively with it in combat.
Next, this guide goes into the features that define the Conquest Paladin in detail, and tackles the basics, like ability scores, races, backgrounds, and skills, so you’ll know how to get the most out of the class right from level one.
We follow this up by covering the basics, like Hit Points, Proficiencies, Equipment, and any Class-specific skills. Then we go through what you’ll get at each level as you progress your character.
We’ll also be taking a look at Feats. Feats are an optional part of 5e that a lot of people tend to skip in favor of a few extra ability points.
If you’re interested in feats and how they can transform your Oath of Conquest build, we’ve also broken down some of the ones that synergize best with this subclass.
Lastly, we’ve put together a progression section, which shows you how to build an Oath of Conquest Paladin from level 1 to 20.
You can jump to any of these topics below using the table of contents below.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color-rating scheme:
- Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice but are largely less effective than other tiers.
- Green – B Tier. A solid choice, but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or can be very good but only situationally.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. The best of the best. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are definitely worth considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about), every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
What Is an Oath of Conquest Paladin?
All Paladins (with the exception of the Oathbreaker, but that’s another story) are defined by the oaths they swear. The core tenets and ideals by which a Paladin lives are the source of their power, allowing them to detect the presence of evil, turn back devils and the undead with blasts of holy light, and smite the unholy with the timeless combination of a fiery sword and extreme prejudice.
An Oath of Conquest Paladin is a unique roleplaying opportunity within the Paladin class.
Abandon the tenets of mercy, charity, and petty human morals; there is greater, more important work to be done. Take up the flaming sword and don the platemail of unyielding, draconian order to become an avatar of war and strife – all in the same of some greater good.
Conquest Paladins are often the servants of, uh, controversial rulers, thriving in times of war and oppression as generals, witch hunters, or frontline shock troops.
Conquest Paladins can be fiercely loyal to those they consider strong enough to be worthy of their devotion, and utterly devoid of mercy when dealing with foes, traitors, or anyone else that tries to stand in their way.
The Oath of Conquest presents players with a dynamic new way to use a Paladin.
They’re powerful tanks like other Paladins, but their toolkit favors battlefield control over pure damage; they excel at locking down one or more enemies with their ability to instill fear, impose disadvantage, and wear down foes – allowing allies with more potent damage (like Wizards and Rogues) to land the killing blow.
That’s not to say that you can’t dish out the hurt when you need it, or heal an ally in need, or give your party a bit of magical assistance in a pinch – but it’s your talent for instilling fear, locking down petrified enemies that really makes this subclass shine.
The Oath of Conquest’s Defining Abilities
- Powerful battlefield control through Channel Divinity and spell list.
- Good survivability.
- Consistent psychic damage at higher levels through auras.
Starting at 3rd level, you can use your Channel Divinity once per short or long rest.
The Conquest Paladin also gets access to Guided Strike (a +10 to your attack roll, which can be very helpful if you really, really would like something dead on this turn, please), but it’s their Conquering Presence that forms the basis for this class at early levels.
The ability forces each creature you can see within 30ft to make a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of you for a minute.
This makes you a potent battlefield controller, enforcing disadvantage on enemy attack rolls and checks, as well as forcing mobs of lower-level enemies to flee from you while your allies pepper them with spells, arrows, and harsh language.
Aura of Conquest
At 7th level, all Paladins get access to a powerful aura effect that enhances their core competencies.
Most Paladin auras tend to focus on creating protective zones around the rest of the party; Oath of Devotion Paladins protect their allies from being charmed, Oath of the Ancients Paladins can throw out some juicy magic resistance.
But you’re not one of those wimpy do-gooders consumed by the need to help others. The Oath of Conquest Paladin uses their Aura of Conquest to become a truly terrifying psychic warrior, striding unhurriedly across the battlefield, cutting down one trembling victim at a time.
Your Aura of Conquest means that any creature within 10ft that is frightened of you has its speed reduced to 0, and takes psychic damage equal to your Charisma modifier every round. This effect also extends to 30ft at 18th level.
The Oath of Conquest’s Limitations
- Heavily reliant on your allies
- What if they’re incapable of fear?
One of the purest joys in life is bonking the BBEG with your comically large sword, scooping up a heaping handful of eight-sided dice (the best dice) and letting rip with a torrent of holy fire, then watching as the DM carefully steeples their fingers before scooping their favorite mini off the table and returning it to its box.
Nothing better. Playing a slap-happy Paladin with Smites for days (or rounds, more accurately) is part of what makes this class excellent.
While this isn’t to say that an Oath of Conquest Paladin doesn’t scratch that itch, the subclass is designed in a way that can leave the classic “run in solo. Smite first… Smite again… Check to see if everyone’s dead… Maybe ask a question or two… Smite them once more if you didn’t like the answer” approach feeling a little underwhelming.
Because of your excellent crowd control abilities, feeling effective in combat is also going to be much more closely tied to your allies’ abilities to support you and capitalize on the opportunities you create.
The other major drawback is that, as you progress through the campaign, you’re going to come up against more and more enemies that are immune to being frightened. This is a huge problem for you, as it really unravels the core competency of the Conquest Paladin.
From Undead and Constructs to certain types of Fiend, and several dragons, there are 290 fear-immune enemies in D&D5e based on how many entries come up when you search by condition immunity on D&D Beyond.
An acceptable fix for this is to grab Compelled Duel at level two – although bringing the full ire of the BBEG down upon you isn’t always the smart play.
Paladins are one of the most frequently multiclassed types of character in D&D 5e. However, the Oath of Conquest Paladin is powerful enough at higher levels that I’d be hesitant over whether or not a straight-up Paladin is “better” or “worse” than a multiclass into Sorcerer or Warlock.
It’s worth noting that, when it comes to multiclassing, the Paladin usually gets the short end of the Holy Avenger. Because Paladins get a whole bunch of extra proficiencies (of the martial and heavy armor variety) out of the gate, dipping into Paladin for access to platemail is more common than a Paladin dipping into Sorcerer for a firebolt.
Here’s a quick note on the synergies you get between a Paladin and the class’ two most common multiclass pairings.
What Sorcerers lack in melee damage output and survivability, the Paladin makes up for in spades.
There are a number of combinations you can pull off between a Paladin and Sorcerer that turn you into a force to be reckoned with in combat.
Using metamagic to cast Hold Person as a bonus action applies the Paralyzed condition to your target, meaning that all melee attacks against this creature are made at advantage and automatically count as criticals.
Combine that fact with a Paladin’s Smite (not to mention the fact that Sorcerers get access to 3rd-level spell slots at level 5, when Paladins have to wait until level 9) and a Level 5 Sorcerer/Level 2 Paladin multiclass can cast Quickened Hold Person as a bonus action, make a melee attack at advantage, deal critical damage plus 8d8 radiant damage to a single target with their Divine Smite in one turn.
That’s just one example of just how complementary these two classes can be, although it’s wise to put the emphasis on Sorcerer levels for maximum effect.
This multiclass build almost exclusively goes down the route of the Hexblade Warlock.
Choosing a Hexblade patron basically lets you abandon all your other stats in favor of Charisma, which becomes your attack and damage bonus, and spellcasting ability.
Twin this with Pact of the Blade at 3rd level and you can start manifesting pact weapons and using them to smite your foes with extreme prejudice.
The only drawbacks here are that there’s some overlap between the Oath of Conquest spell list and the Warlock, as well as the fact that, if it’s extra spell slots you’re after, a Warlock’s pact magic simply will not get you there; Paladins routinely have access to more magic per short rest than a Warlock with twice their levels.
Because of its emphasis on crowd control and imposing disadvantage on its foes, rather than inflicting raw damage, the Oath of Conquest Paladin really does play best with others.
Any class that’s capable of dishing out serious damage can be a great ally to a Conquest Paladin, but I’d like to take a moment to highlight the Wizard and the Rogue, both of which are capable of making incredible use of the Conquest’s fear-inducing capabilities.
While they have access to the most extensive spell list in the game, and arguably scale into the most powerful late-game class in all of D&D, a level one wizard lives every day like a wounded penguin: small, and one wrong move away from being shark, seal, orca, or even bird food.
Even Kobolds, one of the most common and decidedly weeny enemies in the game, can knock down a level one Wizard with a single hit and high damage roll.
The 1d4 + 2 piercing damage inflicted by a Kobold’s dagger means that, if your Wizard didn’t put any serious points into Constitution (and why would they?) one good stab is all it takes to persuade them to take an indefinite nap.
Pairing your Oath of Conquest Paladin with a Wizard is a great shout. As a beefy tank, you’ll stand at the front, frightening enemies, laughing as their feeble Kobold blades bounce off your high AC, and generally creating the time and space for your Wizard to thumb through their spellbook and pick out something that can dish out some real damage.
I would recommend pairing the Oath of Conquest with an Evocation Wizard.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the same zone as your Wizard’s prime fireball targets, so ensuring they have the ability to not burn you to a crisp alongside your foes is really just the polite thing to do.
Rogues thrive on their enemies looking the other way while they creep up behind them for a clean, merciless strike. Having an avatar of fear and destruction, clad in platemail, wielding a massive sword, and striking fear into the hearts of all who stand before them in the party is Rogue heaven. The Aura of Conquest might as well be named “Murder Buffet – ROGUES EAT FREE”.
- Primary: Charisma, Strength
- Tier II: Constitution
- Tier III: Dexterity, Wisdom
- Absolute Dump Tier: Intelligence
Strength: As a Paladin, your heavy armor and ability to swing a martial weapon depend upon your Strength. There are some great Dexterity-based Paladin builds, but nine times out of ten, you’re going to want to prioritize your Strength.
Dexterity: Like I said, if you want to play a ranged weapon-focused Paladin, or one that uses finesse weapons, a Dexterity-based build that forgoes traditional plate for medium armor can make good use of Dexterity. Otherwise, this ability is highly situational and can be ignored in favor of more useful abilities.
Constitution: More hit points are never, ever going to be a bad thing. As a tanky frontline fighter, you need to be tanky, and a good Constitution score is absolutely key.
Intelligence: Intelligence doesn’t really intersect with any of your key abilities and, while it might be useful to boost skills like History or Arcana, there are going to be other characters in your party that do these things better. Leave the thinking to the nerds hiding behind you in the back line.
Wisdom: This ability also doesn’t really synergize with anything that’s core to the Oath of Conquest Paladin build. However, Wisdom is still tied to Perception, which is easily one of the more useful skills in the game, and makes this stat worth prioritizing over Intelligence.
Charisma: As a Paladin, your spellcasting modifier is your Charisma, which is also impactful in social situations and should be one of your main priorities when assigning ability scores. Also, if you take a dip into Hexblade Warlock, your Charisma is also going to become your attack and damage modifier, and is therefore essential.
Any race that gives you a boost to your Constitution, Charisma, or Strength is a good candidate for an Oath of Conquest Paladin.
We’ve chosen four possible races. The Variant Human is available in the D&D 5e Basic Rules found in the Player’s Handbook. The rules for the Fallen Aasimar can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, the rules for Eladrin are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and the rules for playing a Warforged are found in Eberron: Rising From the Last War.
Humans are known throughout D&D for their versatility, and the Variant Human is no exception. A +1 bonus to two ability scores of your choice (choose Strength and Charisma), and a Feat at level one (like Great Weapon Master or Resilient – more on Feats below) are a great place to start.
Half-human, half angelic Celestain, the Aasimar are a really interesting race, and the +2 bonus to Constitution they provide is a great starting point for a Paladin. Of the three subraces of Aasimar, the Fallen is the best fit for an Oath of Conquest Paladin.
In addition to some interesting roleplaying implications (maybe you’re an agent of Heaven itself, sent to the Material Plane or maybe even the Abyss to purge evil wherever you see it – or even a one-noble servant of the Celestials, warped by your lust for power; the possibilities are endless) the Fallen Aasimar also gives you a buff to your Strength.
It’s the Fallen Aasimar’s racial ability Necrotic Shroud that really synergizes well with your own Oath of Conquest toolset.
Starting at 3rd level, once per long rest, you can use your action to unleash the divine energy within yourself, causing your eyes to turn into pools of darkness and two skeletal, ghostly, flightless wings to sprout from your back.
The instant you transform, other creatures within 10 feet of you that can see you must each succeed on a Charisma saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier) or become frightened of you until the end of your next turn.
Your transformation lasts for 1 minute or until you end it as a bonus action. During it, once on each of your turns, you can deal extra necrotic damage to one target when you deal damage to it with an attack or a spell. The extra necrotic damage equals your level.
This effect syncs up really well with your Aura of Conquest. And, at lower levels, gives you yet another way to cause fear and control your foes.
If you’re going down the Dexterity-based Paladin route, the Eladrin is a great choice. These fey elves not only get a +2 bonus to Dexterity, but a small boost to their Charisma.
Also, you can use Fey Step to teleport into the middle of a group of enemies and throw out your Conquering Presence to disrupt an enemy attack in an instant.
For an added cherry on top of this already very dangerous cake, the additional abilities tied to your Fey Step use Charisma to determine their saving throws.
The biomechanical war machines of the Eberron setting make for great Paladins.
They naturally lean towards lawful alignments, get a +2 bonus to Constitution, and their jack-of-all trades ability to boost another stat by 1 lets you take the race in any direction you choose.
Also, from a thematic point of view, an unstoppable metal warrior that doesn’t need to sleep or eat, marching across the battlefield with sword drawn is deeply frightening and gives off serious Terminator vibes. “Hasta la vista, baby.” *Smite*
- Best: Soldier
- Also Good: Noble (Knight), Sailor, Outlander
Backgrounds are both a great way to help flesh out your character’s personal history, and your primary source of skills.
Each background also has its own special feature – which I maintain are a criminally underused aspect of D&D.
As a Paladin with Charisma and Strength as your Primary Attributes, choosing backgrounds that grant you access to skills that use those abilities can be a good way to go.
The Soldier background is the only one in the Player’s Handbook that gives you access to Charisma (Intimidation) and Strength (Athletics) based skills, which is great.
Choosing the Soldier background also fits really well into the Oath of Conquest from a thematic perspective, and the Military Rank feature can be really useful if the army you once belonged to is still active in the world of your campaign.
While the Noble (Knight) background is definitely more of a narrative choice than a strictly mechanical one, the three Retainers that you are granted are always useful to have around, and the skill proficiencies in History and Persuasion don’t totally suck.
The Paladin’s starting skill list isn’t actually all that amazing, as many of them rely on Intelligence or Wisdom – stats you have very little use for otherwise.
Athletics: A great addition to any high-Strength character.
Insight: Useful for reading someone who’s acting suspiciously, but you’re probably better off intimidating them into giving up their secrets instead.
Intimidation: Speak softly and carry a very, very big sword. Your high Charisma is going to make you a very scary person indeed. I’m not suggesting you use this skill for all of your social interactions, but it will probably get you through most awkward chats with shopkeepers.
Medicine: This is easily the worst skill in the game, and rendered even less useful by your Lay on Hands ability, which is basically what Medicine would look like if it actually worked.
Persuasion: Another great pickup that synergizes with your high Charisma.
Religion: A good narrative choice, as a lot of Paladins tend to fall under some sort of quasi-religious association, but not that mechanically good.
Oath of Conquest Paladin Class Progression
1st Level is a rough one for Paladins, as your core competencies like spellcasting, Divine Smite, and Fighting Style don’t come online until level two, meaning you’re basically forced to play a Fighter. Hang in there, baby.
- Hit Dice: 1d10 per Paladin level
- Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
- Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per Paladin level after 1st
You are proficient with the following items, in addition to any Proficiencies provided by your race or Background.
- Armor: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
- Weapons: simple Weapons, martial Weapons
- Tools: none
- Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
- Skills: Choose two from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion
You start with the following Equipment, in addition to the Equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a martial weapon and a Shield or (b) two martial Weapons
- (a) five javelins or (b) any simple melee weapon
- (a) a Priest’s Pack or (b) an Explorer’s Pack
- Chain Mail and a Holy Symbol
Divine Sense: Being able to sniff out angels and demons like you’re a character in a Dan Brown novel can be really situationally useful… or you’ll literally never use it. Still, it’s nice to have.
Lay on Hands: Given the fact that your Oath of Conquest build probably won’t be prioritizing healing magic, your Lay on Hands ability (which grants you a pool of hit points equal to your Paladin level time five that you can use to restore hit points to yourself and allies just by touching them) is going to do a lot of legwork.
New Paladin Players tend to make the mistake of burning through the whole of this pool mid-fight and, while that can lead to some pretty juicy heals, Lay on Hands has a more important role to play later on.
If anyone in your party goes unconscious, a single hit point from your pool will get them up and fighting again.
Make sure you hold back enough points to bring your party back into the fight multiple times – even if they’re just standing up, dealing damage, and getting knocked down again, that’s going to boost your party’s effectiveness (and tie up your enemies’ resources) considerably.
Divine Smite: burn a spell slot to add 2d8 radiant damage to your attack damage. The attack also becomes magical. This ability is the core of any Paladin build, and scales really well with more damage as you pick up higher level spell slots.
Fighting Style: Like a Fighter, you get to pick one of four fighting styles that help boost your abilities in combat.
For a Paladin, Defense (+1 AC while wearing armor) or Dueling (+2 damage when wielding a single-handed melee weapon only – note that this doesn’t stop you from carrying a shield) are probably the two best options. Great Weapon Fighting doesn’t provide as much of a damage per round boost as Dueling, and Protection is kind of garbage.
Spellcasting: The Oath of Conquest Paladin’s spell list doesn’t kick in until 3rd level, but you can start off with a few solid Paladin Spells like Wrathful Smite (inflict an extra d6 of psychic damage and impose fear) or Shield of Faith (buff yourself or an ally with +2 AC) and get by.
This is where you choose your Oath of Conquest and unlock some of its core features. You also gain your Tenants, the code of brutal subjugation and merciless conflict by which you live.
Tenets of Conquest: A paladin who takes this oath has the tenets of conquest seared on the upper arm.
Douse the Flame of Hope. It is not enough to merely defeat an enemy in battle. Your victory must be so overwhelming that your enemies’ will to fight is shattered forever. A blade can end a life. Fear can end an empire.
Rule with an Iron Fist. Once you have conquered, tolerate no dissent. Your word is law. Those who obey it shall be favored. Those who defy it shall be punished as an example to all who might follow.
Strength Above All. You shall rule until a stronger one arises. Then you must grow mightier and meet the challenge, or fall to your own ruin.
Oath Spells: You gain Armor of Agathys and Command. Both are reasonably strong, but Command really gels with your role as a battlefield controller
Channel Divinity: This is where your subclass comes online. You gain access to both Conquering Presence and Guided Strike. While a +10 bonus on an attack roll will likely be helpful in some critical situations, you probably won’t end up using it before you burn your Channel Divinity on inflicting fear en masse.
While Spiritual Weapon is great for overcoming resistance and exploiting weaknesses, Hold Person is the real gem here. The ability to Paralyze an enemy means you can attack with advantage, and any melee hit against a paralyzed target is automatically critical.
Twin this with your newly available Level 2 Divine Smite to casually delete troublesome enemies from the map.
Use Channel Divinity to scatter the enemy’s frontline, Hold Person to lock down any troublesome spellcasters, high-mobility targets, or even the boss, and (assuming you’re using a Longsword with the Dueling style) casually inflict 2d8 (longsword, slashing damage x2) + 6d8 (Level 2 Divine Smite x 2) + 2 + Strength (probably + 3) of slashing and radiant damage in one hit. That’s an average of 41 freaking damage.
Aura of Conquest: This is your character’s biggest power spike. Combine all your possible tools for inflicting fear with the fact that frightened targets within 10 feet have their speed drop to 0, and you’re one of the most devastating battlefield controllers in the game.
Oath Spells: At 7th level you pick up Bestow Curse and Fear. Bestow Curse is fine; the main advantage you get from it is imposing disadvantage, which you already have other ways of doing – it does help you solve the problem of fear-immune enemies, however.
Fear is yet another fantastic way of doing what you do best. It syncs up really well with your Aura of Conquest and, as long as the target can still see you, it can’t save against the spell.
Given the spell’s duration of a minute, you can basically lock down a single target for as long as you and your allies need take it out.
Oath Spells: 13th level is a really poor showing for the Oath of Conquest spell list. Both Dominate Beast is situationally good, but nowhere near as effective as the stuff you get at other levels.
Stoneskin is a baller low-level spell, but it’s so rare that you’ll be fighting enemies with nonmagical attacks by level 13 that it’s kind of a waste by this point. Save that new 4th level spell slot for a real big boy smite when you need it most.
Scornful Rebuke: This is honestly just a nice little extra sugar on an already very sweet build. Any creature that hits you with an attack automatically suffers psychic damage equal to your Charisma modifier.
Oath Spells: And we’re back to the good spells. After the letdown that is level 13, you finally get access to some seriously powerful spells in the form of Cloudkill (great area of effect damage, particularly if you’ve just rooted a bunch of enemies to the spot) and Dominate Person.
Aura of Conquest: Your Aura of Conquest now extends up to 30 feet instead of 10.
Invincible Conqueror: This is far from the most imaginative capstone ability in the game, but boy howdy is it an effective one.
For a full minute per long rest, you gain resistance to all damage, an additional attack, and you score critical hits on a 19 or 20. Like I said, nothing mind blowing, but a fantastic thing to switch on at the start of a boss battle.
While a lot of DMs tend to ignore Feats (they’re a somewhat maligned element of 5e), if you’d rather get something a little more flavorful than an ability score bump, here are a few options that synergize well with an Oath of Conquest Paladin.
One of the best races to play when choosing the Oath of Conquest Paladin is the Variant Human. A +1 to two ability scores and a free Feat at first level makes for a really good start to the class, particularly if you pick one of the feats below.
Great Weapon Master: If the idea of swinging a giant flaming sword to smite your enemies as they stand transfixed with fear before you doesn’t sound appealing, then I don’t know if this class is for you – or if you’re capable of joy for that matter.
Whenever you score a critical hit with a two-handed weapon (remember: if you’ve paralyzed a target using Hold Person, you do this on a 19-20) or reduce a creature to 0 HP, you get to make another melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
You can also choose to take a -5 penalty to hit in order to add +10 to the attack’s damage roll.
Lucky: This is a great Feat on just about any class. Reroll a d20 (attack, check, or save), or force an enemy to reroll their attack 3 times per long rest. For a subclass that’s all about imposing disadvantage, it can never hurt to have more ways to make your enemies miss an attack.
Alert: +5 to initiative, you can’t be surprised, and creatures you don’t see don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you.
Because your Dexterity (and therefore initiative bonus) will probably be low, this Feat helps you get into the fight faster, outmaneuver your enemies, protect your allies, and set up the perfect Conquering Presence.
Example Oath of Conquest Paladin Build – “Darth Vader, Basically”
This build leans into everything that makes the Oath of Conquest Paladin great: high survivability, high damage, incredible control from the frontline of a fight, and a generally menacing steeze that will put everyone in mind of everyone’s favorite evil space wizard. Darth Vader was totally an Oath of Conquest Paladin, by the way.
- Ability Scores (standard array): Strength (15), Dexterity (12), Constitution (13), Intelligence (10), Wisdom (12), Charisma (14).
- Race: Variant Human
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Strength (16), +1 Constitution (14)
- Feat: Great Weapon Master
- Skill: Perception
- Background: Soldier
- Skills: Intimidation, Athletics, Persuasion, Religion
- Greatsword (2d6 Slashing, two-handed)
- Longbow (1d8 Piercing, ranged, heavy, two-handed)
- Explorer’s Pack
- 5x Javelins
- Chain Mail
- Holy Symbol
- Divine Sense
- Lay on Hands
Fighting Style: Defense (+1 AC while wearing Armor)
Spellcasting: you can prepare a number of spells equal to your Charisma modifier + half your Paladin level, rounded down (minimum of one spell). This build can prepare three spells.
- Wrathful Smite
- Compelled Duel
- Shield of Faith
A Beginner’s Guide to the Oath of Conquest
The Oath of Conquest Paladin is a dark avenger, an avatar of war, the dark reflection in a cursed mirror. They’re kind of the Wario of Paladins.
If you like the idea of playing a magical martial warrior with massive damage output, strong survivability, and the ability to heal, but have always been put off by the idea of playing some righteous do-gooder, then boy do I have a treat for you.
Until Xanathar’s Guide to Everything brought the Oath of Conquest subclass out of the Unearthed Arcana and into the official rules in 2017, Paladins had almost universally leaned towards one form of good alignment or another.
Those swearing oaths of Devotion set themselves about the task of protecting the innocent or upholding justice; those who took up the Oath of Ancients stood firm as protectors of life and the wild places of the world; and even those who swore an Oath of Vengeance were usually hell bent upon righting some great injustice or wrong.
Paladins have long been tied to the archetypical conception of the platemail-clad do-gooder, often the moral compass of their party, existing in a constant state of mild outrage at the antics of the Rogues, Bards, and Warlocks they adventure alongside.
The Oath of Conquest Paladin is another matter entirely. Conjuring images of steel-clad legions, marching to the steady beat of a war drum, Conquest Paladins are dedicated to the idea that the truest evil in this world is chaos, and that freedom is a necessary sacrifice if order is to be maintained. They seek glory in battle and the subjugation of their foes.
Sometimes called knight tyrants or iron mongers, those who swear this oath gather into grim orders that serve gods or philosophies of war and well-ordered might.
“Some of these paladins go so far as to consort with the powers of the Nine Hells, valuing the rule of law over the balm of mercy.
The archdevil Bel, warlord of Avernus, counts many of these paladins – called hell knights – as his most ardent supporters. Hell knights cover their armor with trophies taken from fallen enemies, a grim warning to any who dare oppose them and the decrees of their lords.” – Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
The Oath of Conquest Paladin received a, frankly, lukewarm reception when it was release. I’m here to tell you that their reputation is undeserved.
A lot of people underestimate the Conquest Paladin because they look at them in a vacuum without considering how they fit into a larger party – particularly one that’s otherwise largely made up of squishy casters and rogues.
Yes, other Paladin subclasses can dish out more single target damage, or bigger heals, and while your Aura of Conquest honestly looks a little pathetic next to the (Oath of Ancients Paladin’s) Oath of Warding, for example, the first time you freeze a rampaging horde of orcs in place while your 18hp Sorcerer warms up an Empowered Fireball, you’re going to feel like you’re doing a really good job.
Oath of Conquest Paladins – through their Channel Divinity ability – are amazing battlefield controllers, supplementing their lack of damage output by protecting their allies and disrupting the enemy for the entire fight.
This ability gets even stronger at 7th level when you pick up your Aura of Conquest. Within the aura’s 10ft range (extended to 30ft at level 18) any creature that is frightened of you has its speed drop to 0, freezing them in place, unable to attack you properly.
This solves a major issue that other classes have with effects and spells that frighten enemies. Frightened enemies, from the humble goblin to hordes of demons, tend to scatter when spooked.
It’s only natural. While fear-causing abilities are great for imposing disadvantage en masse, it can make area of effect spells annoyingly ineffective, as the gang of hobgoblins that was a tempting fireball target just a few seconds ago runs in every cardinal direction.
The Aura of Conquest solves that problem very neatly. Just run into a horde of enemies, throw out that Conquering Presence, and cackle with glee as your enemies stand transfixed with fear.
Just make sure your party Wizard has the ability to Sculpt Spells lest you and your enemies all end up in the same charred pile of corpses.
No single character, no matter how well optimized, can hold a candle to the feats of heroism (read: gleeful mass murder) that a whole party can accomplish while working together.
Well, perhaps with the exception of the Paladin/Druid multiclass my friend Hans played in my first ever campaign of first edition Pathfinder.
He spent about sixteen hours creating a single target deletion machine that churned out more damage per round than the rest of the party collectively throughout many of our fights.
That character fell to worshiping the demon prince Asmodeus pretty quickly though, and the meticulous assassination attempt the rest of us orchestrated behind Hans’ back remains one of the defining memories of my whole roleplaying career. But I digress.
The Oath of Conquest Paladin is an exceptional controller subclass that can send lesser enemies running for the hills, lock down the boss, and either wait for the rogue to stab that BBEG in the back or fire up the old flaming sword and do it themself.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.