Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Sauntering through the dark, a ravenous beast hunts dinner. Its wolf-like appendages carry it to the edge of a village where a lone warrior waits holding his sword in the darkness.
The weapon begins to glow as the paladin recites a prayer to his god. The beast howls and charges, bearing glittering teeth. The paladin swings and, in a burst of radiance, the monster’s head is severed from its now lifeless corpse.
Paladins are the epitome of the valiant knight. Defenders of justice and protectors of the weak, paladins make natural leaders and excellent warriors. Gifted fighters, half-orcs make excellent paladins, using their talents in the name of honor, justice, and defending the defenseless.
Stats: Strength will be your priority, followed by Charisma and Constitution.
Armor and Weapons: Most paladins wear heavy armor. Some carry a shield for additional protection. /others prefer the extended reach of polearm weapons.
Offensive Actions: For offense, you can rely on Divine Smite and landing Savage Attacks. At higher levels, spells like banishment and destruction wave can be used to deadly effect.
Defensive Actions: Paladins are all about defensive measures. Most of their spell list is focused on healing and protecting the party. Lay on Hands can be used to replenish hit points. Relentless Endurance will keep you alive during tough battles.
Subclass Decisions: The most common choices include the oath of devotion and the oath of vengeance. The first offers defensive abilities while the later is better for offensive power.
How To Create a Half-Orc Paladin
Before creating a half-orc paladin, it’s important to consider the character’s background. As a paladin, your character will seek out quests and legendary adventures.
But not all paladins are the same. Is your character devoted to protecting the weak from the strong? Does your paladin desire revenge against a terrible evil? Perhaps you seek to atone for a past injustice.
Creating an Orcish Personality
Orcs and humans form alliances for a variety of reasons. These include war, economic interests, mutual aid, resolving territorial disputes, etc. Whatever the reasons may be, whenever humans and orcs work together it is usually to the benefit of both.
Half-orcs are the products of the intimate bonds that form between humans and orcs. As such, half-orcs are common in both human and orc settlements.
The environment your character was born and raised in will have a big impact on their personality. Perhaps you were born a wealthy noble and received an excellent education in history and religion.
Or maybe you were orphaned by a terrible war and grew up fending for yourself on the bitter streets of a heartless city.
Stat Distribution and Skills
Half-orcs receive a bonus to their Strength and Constitution scores. Paladins are usually on the front lines of battle. As natural leaders, Paladins rely on their charisma to solve disputes. Make charisma your highest score after strength.
Paladins start with hit points equal to 10 plus their Constitution modifier. As for saving throws, they favor Wisdom and Charisma. Because half-orcs are naturally skilled at intimidating, your paladin will be free to learn other skills such as religion or medicine.
Choosing a Background
You’ll need to decide how your character came to be a Paladin. Before you choose a background, imagine how it will affect your character. Paladins from a noble background will understand wealth and power. As a paladin, such a character will have put these privileges to use for the greater good.
Most paladins are deeply religious. While it isn’t necessary to choose a deity for your paladin to follow, it may help you when it comes to roleplaying. There are many dieties to choose from in the multiverse.
Paladins often pay homage to Torm, god of courage, or Dol Arrah, goddess of sunlight. Other options include Tyr, Bahamut, or Heironeous.
At the start of the game, Paladins are given the choice between a martial weapon and a shield, or two martial weapons. Choose whichever best suits your style of combat.
Defense players will want the shield’s AC bonus, while more aggressive paladins will lean toward two-weapon fighting.
Paladins rely on their strength most of all, so players are advised to pick weapons with the thrown property, such as javelins or handaxes. For a half-orc paladin, two-handed weapons will be particularly devastating.
The half-orc’s Savage Attack trait allows players to roll extra damage on a critical hit. For example, a half-orc wielding a greataxe will deal an additional d12 slashing damage on a critical strike.
Playing a Half-Orc Paladin
At level 2, paladins must choose a Fighting Style. This choice determines how they prefer to fight, whether the character is more offensive or defensive. Some paladins, for instance, are duelists, fighting with a sword and shield. Others focus on defense and protecting their teammates from harm.
Half-orcs have several traits that will come in handy over the course of your adventure. These characters have inherited Darkvision from their orc ancestors, giving them the ability to see in the dark up to 60 feet. They are also proficient in the intimidation skill.
Taking an Oath
As a paladin, you must take a holy oath that determines your path in the world. The Player’s Handbook contains three such oaths for the paladin to choose from.
When taking an oath, paladins must swear to commit to their path and never stray. While paladins aren’t required to take an oath until they reach level 3, it’s a good idea to choose ahead and plan accordingly.
Each oath brings its own set of abilities and magic that aids the paladin. A paladin taking the oath of devotion is bound to uphold justice and vanquish evil. These holy knights receive powerful magic to protect against evil’s wrath.
The oath of the ancients binds a paladin to the light side of the cosmic struggle. Taking this oath means protecting the light at all cost and standing up to wickedness in any form. With this oath, paladins gain access to nature magic.
Lastly, paladins can take the oath of vengeance. Under this oath, paladins are sworn to avenge an injustice or vanquish a great evil. With vengeance on their side, these paladins are gifted with superior hunting abilities.
In combat, paladins will be focused on using Divine Smite to quickly vanquish powerful enemies. With this ability, paladins can use a spell slot to channel radiant energy when they successfully hit a creature, dealing radiant damage.
Your half-orc paladin will also have the benefit of Savage Attacks, dealing extra damage dice on a critical strike. At higher levels, paladins can learn powerful offensive spells like magic weapon, elemental weapon, and destruction wave.
As spellcasters, paladins have access to strong defensive magic, including spells that heal and protect allies. With Lay on Hands, paladins can heal their teammates by channeling the healing power of divine radiance, restoring a number of hit points equal to five times their level. They can also use this ability on themselves.
Half-orcs are renowned for their ability to persevere. If a half-orc is reduced to 0 hit points, he or she can use Relentless Endurance to drop to 1 hit point instead. Half-orcs can do this once per day as long as the damage doesn’t kill them outright.
Feats and Abilities
Feats gives you the chance to further customize your half-orc paladin to better suit your style of gameplay. Players can also use feats to create more memorable characters.
If your paladin is a little extra, try taking the Charger feat. Characters with this feat can use a bonus action to make a melee weapon attack after taking the Dash action. If they move 10 feet or more, they add a +5 bonus to their damage roll.
Another good feat for paladins who prefer the offensive is Polearm Master. With polearm master, paladins can wield glaives and halberds with expertise, taking advantage of the reach these weapons offer to gain additional attacks of opportunity.
Defensive paladins have several feats to choose from. Shield Master is a good choice for paladins looking to gain a strategic edge in combat. Characters with this feat can use their shield to mitigate the damage caused by certain harmful effects and spells.
Shield masters can also use a bonus action to shove a creature after taking the Attack action.
Other useful feats include Sentinel and Magic Initiate. Paladins who like to keep their friends close but their enemies even closer should consider the Sentinel feat.
Taking this feat will make your paladin a master of attacks of opportunity. Magic Initiate will allow your paladin to cast a few spells from another spellcasting class including wizard or warlock spells.
Breaking Your Oath
To be a paladin is to face a life of constant vigilance. Even the most virtuous knight will make mistakes from time to time.
Paladins who’ve forsworn their vows must seek forgiveness. Paladins can find repentance from another member of their order or from a cleric who shares their faith.
Those who fail to do so face possibly devastating consequences. Paladins who refuse to atone for their misdeeds risk abandoning their class, or worse, becoming Oathbreakers.
A Righteous End
Perhaps your half-orc paladin seeks to demonstrate genuine good-heartedness through heroic deeds and altruistic acts. Such a true knight is rare, and a glimmer of hope in these dark times when dragons haunt the deep wood and bandits stalk the highways.
Not all paladins, however, are white knights. Some are on a desperate quest for revenge, swearing oaths of terrible vengeance.
To these knights we say, “god’s speed holy avenger.”
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.