No, Iron Man didn’t find religion.
What Is a Holy Avenger in DnD 5e?
The Holy Avenger is an artifact level magic sword that grants you a +3 to attack, and damage rolls, and an additional 2d10 radiant damage against fiends and undead.
In addition, all allies within 10 feet of you have advantage on saving throws against magic. If you have 17 levels in paladin, this range increases 30 feet.
The Holy Avenger is a classic weapon that has been around Dungeons and Dragons since 2nd edition. It is, and always has been, the hope and dream of every stereotypical Paladin to wield one.
And for good reason! This thing is a beast against evil magical creatures.
Whether you are going for a jaunt in Avernus or a quick hike into the Tomb of Annihilation, liches, devils, demons, and their minions will not want to mess with the wielder of this sword.
The Holy Avenger in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition
The Holy Avenger
Weapon (any sword), legendary (requires attunement by a Paladin)
You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. When you hit a fiend or an undead with it, that creature takes an extra 2d10 radiant damage.
While you hold the drawn sword, it creates an aura in a 10-foot radius around you.
You and all creatures friendly to you in the aura have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
From the Basic Rules, page 174
Right away we see that this is an attribute that can be put onto any sword, which means the base weapon maintains its original characteristics, such as finesse, versatile, two-handed, etc. depending on what type of sword you use.
The +3 to attack and damage is in addition to your normal bonuses, and the extra 2d10 radiant damage is added to the normal damage die of your chosen weapon.
Refer to the chart to determine your damage. Start with the sword type and add the values to the left.
This leads to some hefty damage dice.
The versatility means that no matter your melee style, you can have a Holy Avenger in Dungeons and Dragons 5e.
Unless you… have a problem with swords…? That’s okay, we here at the Citadel hate being told what we can and can’t do, so below we’ve got some nifty ideas for Holy Avenger users (Holy Avengers?)
Secondly, we see that this is a Paladin-specific weapon. You must have at least one level in Paladin to attune this sword and use its abilities. We will discuss that next.
For the Players: Who Can Use It and How?
Any Paladin can use this weapon, and while that seems fairly straightforward, this can actually give you some interesting combinations.
Most Paladins are “sword and board” characters, meaning they typically have a longsword and a shield.
There is nothing wrong with classic, so for you all a longsword version of the Holy Avenger is great. Why complicate what works? Between your shield and your plate mail, you are packing a 20+ Armor Class.
Sometimes, though, you want to spice it up. That is, after all, why it’s called “flavor.”
Extra damage never hurts anybody. Well… except the enemy.
Multiclass with Monk or Bard, and grab a shortsword version for some extra versatility in your character.
Maybe even consider a Druid/Paladin build and using a scimitar Holy Avenger. Nothing screams unnatural like undead and fiends. Defend the land from invaders of a different plane!
When it comes to homebrewing your own Holy Avenger, you don’t have to stick with swords. If you multiclass a Monk/Paladin like we mentioned earlier, you could make Holy Avenger Nunchaku! Or a quarterstaff! How awesome would that be?
For Dungeon Masters:
This is definitely a Tier 4 magic item. This means it is most appropriate for players of 15-20th level.
That being said, the lack of lore surrounding this classic weapon actually works to your benefit. This means it can be placed anywhere.
Here are three ways you can drop this sword into your campaign tonight if you need to.
A weapon like this deserves some build up. This is a game-changing piece of equipment, especially if your baddies are fiendish and undead. An item like this is absolutely worth a side quest.
Here is a little flow chart you can drop into your adventure.
1. The research-oriented PCs have found a text (INT DC 20 – add religion or history if desired) while looking up ways to hurt the next Fiendish or Undead BBEG. It says:
The light of stars forged in steel, Behold!
The Blade of Ancients, Sung of Old
From mountaintop under the hunter’s hilt
The sword reveals to whom the sword wilt
A champion of will the same
To drive evil whence it came.
2. With an Insight or Investigation DC 20, the PCs learn that there is a mountain that, at a certain time of year, is directly under the sword hilt of a constellation of stars called the hunter.
3. Encourage the PCs to travel there, and be sure to fill it with random encounters of various flavors that align with your campaign’s theme.
4. When they arrive, they find the opening to a ruined astronomy tower with a DC20 Investigation or Perception check. The moonlight shines upon a boulder with the mold of a sword carved into it. This was the stone used to forge the shape of the blade.
5. Find a random dungeon, and put the Holy Avenger at the end of it. For good random dungeons, visit Donjon, the random dungeon generator.
As a Gift From a God
Alternatively, as a legendary-artifact weapon, it is perfectly acceptable for the Paladin’s god to deliver this weapon as a gift for service and the Paladin’s need.
To make this effective in your story, set up a situation where the PCs fight the BBEG before they are truly ready to. Set them up to fail horribly. Maybe even kill a few of them.
In the despair that follows, if the Paladin prays for forgiveness and help, drop the sword in a beam of heavenly light.
Or better yet, give the sword to the Cleric, and make them choose who gets to wield it.
Easiest Side Quest Ever:
Give the Holy Avenger to a party of adventurers that does not have a Paladin. Then, whoever decides to multiclass into Paladin first can have the sword. Then you don’t have to add or change anything!
The Holy Avenger is a classic weapon. It is strong enough to be its own major plot point, and its lack of official lore means you can use it anywhere without major changes.
It’s so easy to use that you should plan on having it in your game. It’s too simple and effective not to include.