Last Updated on January 22, 2023
The multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons is home to many planes of existence. The majority of campaigns take place on the material plane, whether you are adventuring through the Forgotten Realms of Toril, the Greyhawk setting on Oerth, the Dragonlance setting of Krynn, or any other world that collaborative storytelling can bring you to.
Outside of the material plane lies the great wheel of the cosmos, home to the Nine Hells, Shadowfell, the Feywild, and many other planes of existence home to bizarre and fantastical creatures.
The entities that inhabit these worlds come in all shapes and sizes and bring with them their own incredible abilities and agendas.
There exists an order of paladins who stand guard against these threats that the multiverse holds. Paladins who take the Oath of the Watchers devote themselves to protecting the mortal worlds from extraplanar entities who would seek to cause harm.
The tenets that this paladin subclass upholds are as follows:
- Vigilance – Ever watchful, you understand that the beings you seek to protect your world from are cunning, insidious, and powerful. Keeping your eyes and ears on any situation for signs of their influence is a full time job. You may even use a network of spies to keep you alert of any signs of extraplanar corruption.
- Loyalty – Your duty comes first before all things. It is paramount that you do not allow yourself to be tempted by these beings, and so you remain forever loyal to your comrades, your oath, and your order. You don’t accept favors or bargains from these beings, and you stay away from those who do.
- Discipline – Watchers believe their role to be among the highest of callings. Being unprepared is not acceptable when you are the shield of mortals. You must always keep your mind as sharp as your blade so that you are ready when your services are needed.
As an oath of the watchers, you will specialize in combat against aberrations, celestials, fiends, fey, and elementals. If we mention extraplanar beings (EB’s) throughout this article, these are the creature types we are referring to.
While these are the main creature types that you are built to deal with mechanically, you will also have the tools and drive to deal with any forces that could disturb the order of the material planes.
Oath of The Watchers Paladin Class-Defining Abilities
Watcher’s Will: Aura advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws
Abjure the Extraplanar: Turn aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, or fiend within 30 feet of you.
Aura of the Sentinel: 10 foot Aura bonus to initiative equal to your proficiency bonus. (30 feet at level 18)
Vigilant Rebuke: Whenever you or a creature you can see within 30 feet of you succeeds on an Intelligence, a Wisdom, or a Charisma saving throw, you can use your reaction to deal 2d8 + your Charisma modifier force damage to the creature that forced the saving throw.
20th Level Capstone:
As a bonus action, you gain the following benefits for 1 minute:
- You gain truesight with a range of 120 feet.
- You have advantage on attack rolls against aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends.
- When you hit a creature with an attack roll and deal damage to it, you can also force it to make a Charisma saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature is magically banished to its native plane of existence if it’s currently not there. On a successful save, the creature can’t be banished by this feature for 24 hours.
- Once you use this bonus action, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend a 5th-level spell slot to use it again.
The Oath of the Watchers subclass does an excellent job of taking things the paladin class is already good at and improving upon them greatly by focusing on a specific enemy.
- Boosts the mental defenses of allies
- Excels in combat against EB’s
- Incredibly alert
What do I mean by mental defenses? If we look at the six abilities of all D&D characters we can easily split them into two categories, mental and physical. Physical abilities would include our strength, dexterity, and constitution. Mental abilities would include our wisdom, intelligence, and charisma.
The Oath of the Watchers first channel divinity ability gives your allies advantage when making saving throws that involve the mental abilities. While this is obviously great, it’s especially important for two reasons.
First, many EB’s utilize spellcasting or some other sort of ability that preys on your mental faculties.
For example, a Mind Flayer has two abilities that stun on a failed Intelligence saving throw, and a third ability Extract Brain that will do just that to any stunned creature and kill them.
Second, most characters don’t have excellent mental ability scores, or at very least not in all three. I mean, it’s a common joke that mental abilities are dump stats or abilities you put your lowest scores into, especially for the martial classes.
This ability comes to you at only third level and it’s just up from here. You also gain an ability to make EB’s run away from you with your channel divinity. This means that on their action they can only take the dash action to get as far away from you as possible.
Of course, this doesn’t directly help to boost the defense of your allies. It does mean that the affected creatures won’t be attacking at all, which is a pretty great way to keep your allies safe from threats.
This same concept is supported by all the banishment abilities you’ll gain. Some of your oath spells, certain paladin spells that you’ll be wise to choose, and your capstone ability will allow you to send EB’s back to their own planes of existence or at least stop them in their tracks.
Even if that only creates a temporary feeling of security, having extra time to prepare for threats is going to be a huge aid.
Taking this oath provides you with quite a few abilities that allow you to deal extra damage to EB’s. Perhaps the best of these is your 15th-level ability, Vigilant Rebuke. Whenever a creature succeeds on a mental saving throw, you can deal radiant damage to the creature who caused the throw to be made in the first place.
This class’s self-synergy is wonderfully put on display here since you’re giving allies advantage on those very same saving throws. Most sub-classes are well built, but this one gives you such a straightforward way to benefit off your own abilities, turning your defense into a powerful offense.
The last series of abilities you gain are how you interact with the world. As a Watcher, it makes sense that you would be very alert. The subclass aura that you gain at 7th level boosts the initiative of you and your allies, and this just makes sense.
You also gain a series of spells, either through the subclass or the paladin class in general, that allow you to see through the magical deceit created by those who would seek to cause harm.
Detect Magic, See Invisibility, and Scrying are all given to you through the Oath of the Watchers. Each of these spells allow you different ways to prepare yourself for magical threats, but there are also paladin spells like Detect Evil and Good, or Zone of Truth that fit perfectly into this category.
Your capstone is even going to give you Truesight, an amazing ability that allows you to do a lot of these things at once and more. You are more than just aware of your surroundings. You are a Watcher.
Limitations of Oath of The Watchers Paladin
Unfortunately, as impressive as this class has the potential to be, it is extremely limited by what it does best. The Oath of the Watchers dedicate themselves to protecting the world from threats from other planes and fall short when put up against threats from the material plane.
While EB’s account for a third of the creature types in 5e D&D, your campaign has to deal with extraplanar threats to bring you face to face with them. To paraphrase Brian Fantana ‘Thirty percent of the time, it works every time.’ In a lot of campaigns that’s just not enough to consider this a great class.
Of course several of the abilities you gain aren’t specified for EB’s, so you’re not completely left in the dark. The abilities related to mental saving throws are still going to be very effective together. But this actually only further displays this class’s niche focus.
Spellcasters you might come across can still force your allies to make these saving throws, but that’s only going to matter when it does. If you find yourself up against a Storm Giant or any creatures that don’t fall into your niche, you’re as good as useless, relying only on the abilities given to you directly from your main class.
Additionally, the Aura of the Sentinel ability is not at all up to snuff. Compared to other subclass auras that give boosts to damage, defense, or somehow trip up your foes, this aura looks really sad.
You get a one-time boost to initiative, and your party will very rarely be within 10 feet of you at the beginning of combat. Not to mention the fact that the boost is going to have a maximum cap of +6 because it’s paired with your proficiency bonus.
When we ignore the 7th-level aura, we’re left with some good oath spells that aren’t too focused on combat, three abilities that are very focused on a specific enemy, and a 20th-level capstone that still holds up regardless.
After 3rd-level you have to wait 12 levels for something truly impressive in combat to come your way, which is going to make for a very sad experience.
Keep in mind, all of these limitations go out the door if you’re in a campaign that focuses on the different planes of existence, and you become one of the best viable subclasses.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. 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. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. The top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly 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.
Since Oath of the Watchers is built on the tenets that it is, I’ve decided to leave my two favorite paladin races out, Aasimar and Tiefling.
While both of these could provide excellent bonuses to this subclass, their relations to EB’s is too problematic to be in the top listings. That doesn’t put them off the table, in fact, character conflict can be an excellent source of roleplay content, but that’s a decision for you to make.
Instead we’ll focus on races that are well grounded in the material plane while still giving us the bonuses we’re looking for.
Triton – +1 Strength, +1 Constituion, +1 Charisma. If you’re not aware of tritons, go check out our triton race guide. To sum them up, they came to the material plane to protect it from otherworldly threats. I wouldn’t be surprised if a triton formed the first group of watchers. Their ability bonuses are perfect for any build of paladin, and they have so much roleplay built-in.
Half-Elf – Charisma +2, +1 in two abilities of your choosing. You’ll want to take the Constitution and Strength for the +1’s. Fey ancestry will give you advantage against being charmed or put to sleep by magic, two things that EB’s would love to do to you.
Variant Human – You’ll likely choose Strength and Charisma to take your +1’s in. This race excels in giving boosts to classes early on since it comes with a free feat. Just about any feat will give this subclass an edge, with quite a few areas it could be doing better (here’s more on the Variant Human Race).
We tend to choose these based on our highest stats, but choosing a different route based on how you want to roleplay isn’t a bad idea, especially since adding your proficiency bonus might compensate for a not-so-good ability modifier.
The paladin class is given the ability to choose two skills from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion.
Athletics (STR): Taking proficiency in the only strength-based skill is a must for this subclass.
Insight (WIS): Your Wisdom likely won’t be very high, but insight is never a bad skill to have.
Intimidation (CHA): Choosing either Intimidation or persuasion as your Charisma-based ability is a good move, and which you choose depends on how you want to play your character.
Medicine (WIS): You’re already healing through paladin’s base abilities, so no need to go above and beyond with medical kits.
Persuasion (CHA): Choosing either Intimidation or Persuasion as your Charisma-based ability is a good move, and which you choose depends on how you want to play your character.
Religion (INT): Your intelligence shouldn’t be high enough to warrant making religion checks. You have enough other things to focus on with this subclass.
When we look for a background we want to find some skills that synergize well with our ability scores, but that’s not all. We’re also going to want a background that provides motivation for taking our Oath.
What happened in our lives that led us to protect this plane from others. Building a good open-ended backstory through your background is also a great way to get your DM to put more extraplanar threats into the campaign.
Sailor – Personally, I can think of several ways that this pairs well with the triton class. Proficiency in Perception, a common skill not granted by your class, and Athletics, a skill you should be proficient in anyways, is a great pairing.
There’s also plenty of precedence for EB’s to come through portals deep in the seas, such as the triton race confront. Having a situation in your past that put you face to face with some horrible aberration while out on a cargo vessel is an excellent reason to join the Watchers.
City Watch – You get proficiency in Athletics and Insight, two great skills for you. Picture this though, you’re a member of the city watch, hunting down a suspicious figure, and when you’re about to apprehend him he jumps to his death, but not before warning you of an impending doom.
Yeah that’s right! A la MiB, you join the Watchers because you’re good at what you do, but there’s a group willing to show you that you can watch so much more than just the city.
Oath of the Watchers Paladin Progression
Features that you automatically obtain through the Paladin class will appear in Orange and features that you gain through the Oath of the Watchers subclass will appear in Pink.
Filling Out the Character Sheet (Level 0)
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
Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
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
This allows you to sense the location of celestials, fiends, or undead within 60 feet of you and to know what they are. Immediately this starts to set you down a good path of class synergy. Paladins in general are aware enough of their surroundings to be prepared for EB’s.
Lay on Hands:
A pool of 5 times your paladin level means a lot of healing from the beginning and a beautiful scaling system is at your disposal.
Choose from Defensive, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, and Protection
- Defensive: +1 bonus to AC while wearing armor.
- Dueling: +2 to damage rolls if you’re only using a single one-handed weapon.
- Great Weapon Fighting: Two-handed and versatile weapons let you reroll 1’s and 2’s on damage dies.
- Protection: You can use a shield to impose disadvantage on an attack headed for a creature within 5 feet of you.
- Blessed Warrior: You learn two cleric cantrips, which you cast with your charisma like your paladin spells.
- Blind Fighting: You gain 10 feet of blindsight, the ability to see anything regardless of darkness or anything that could impede your vision.
- Interception: You can block 1d10 + your proficiency bonus worth of damage being dealt to a creature within 5 feet of you so long as you are wielding a weapon or a shield.
Your fighting style depends on how you want to play, and each of these can be equally beneficial to the subclass.
Paladins use charisma as their spellcasting ability, so your spell save DC is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier and your spell attack modifier is your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Paladins can prepare their spells from their list of available paladin spells when they finish a long rest. Their list of prepared spells is equal to their Charisma modifier + half their paladin level, rounded down.
DEUS VULT! You have the ability to expend a spell slot to deal radiant damage whenever you land a hit with a melee attack. You’re going to lean a lot on your smites to deal damage, since the subclass can be lacking there.
This is when you take your Oath. From this level on you are committed to upholding the principles of vigilance, loyalty, and discipline.
When you take this oath at third level you gain two oath spells that do not count against your prepared spells.
Alarm allows you to create what is essentially a magical tripwire that can alert you when it is triggered up to a mile away, and even wake you up. This vigilant spell is useful for setting traps or learning more about the activities of some entity you are suspicious of.
The other spell, Detect Magic, is actually already a paladin class spell. It does what it says, and can even be used to discern the school of magic causing the effect you perceive.
Watcher’s Will. This ability gives you and several creatures advantage on saving throws that require Charisma, Wisdom, or Intelligence.
Extraplanar threats often will try to inflict magical effects that test your will or awareness, or attack your mind in some way. You’ll also find this to be helpful when dealing with any sort of spellcaster, so don’t worry about your abilities being too niche.
Abjure the Extraplanar. Here we focus on your ‘favored enemy.’ You can hold up your holy symbol and make any EBs run far, far away from you. More than anything this will stop them from attacking since they have to use their action to Dash away from you.
Even if this is a bit niche, it will protect you from these threats extremely well.
You can either increase one ability by 2 points or two abilities by 1. Alternatively, you can choose a feature; if you already have great stats, this is a great choice.
You can now attack twice in your Attack action.
You will gain Moonbeam and See Invisibility.
Moonlight dishes out some nice damage whether or not a creature fails a saving throw. This fits nicely into a watcher because it has an added effect against creatures with the shapechanger ability, causing them to revert back to their original form.
Many EB’s have this ability, but you’ll also be able to nicely handle vampires, were-anythings, and several monstrosities.
See Invisibility provides you that nice edge against the supernatural, being able to see invisible creatures and objects and into the Ethereal Plane. Being able to see invisible objects clearly is the more obvious benefit.
Being able to glimpse into the Ethereal Plane means being able to watch for any number of creatures dwelling in that plane, such as phase spiders, ghosts, or thought slayers.
Aura of Protection:
Friendly creatures get a bonus on saving throws equal to your Charisma modifier while they are within 10 feet of you and you are conscious. Pairs excellently with Watcher’s Will, making it hard for your nearby allies to fail mental saving throws.
Aura of the Sentinel:
Your readiness begins to rub off on those around you. You and any creatures you choose within 10 feet of you add your proficiency bonus to their initiative roll.
This aura falls short and would have benefited from a bonus that scales higher than proficiency. It also only aids you once per combat, instead of benefitting your attacking prowess
Counterspell is always excellent to have, especially with so many EBs utilizing spellcasting to deceive others and achieve their nefarious goals.
Nondetection is an interesting spell that protects a creature, place, or object from being sensed by divination magic.
Keeping something from being spied on through magical means isn’t useful in combat but can change the entire path of a campaign if you use it wisely. EB’s often attempt to get an upper hand by spying and deceit, so you’re ready.
Aura of Courage:
You protect yourself and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you from being frightened while you are conscious. Fiends and aberrations, and even some fey, can lean pretty heavily on fear, so this pairs well.
Improved Divine Smite:
All of your melee attacks deal an extra 1d8 of radiant damage now. Here we really start to see you excel at general combat, a bit later than other oaths, but still acceptable.
Both of these are already available to the paladin class, but that means freeing up more two 4th-level prepared spells since these are both perfectly themed for an Oath of the Watchers paladin.
Aura of Purity creates an aura that protects from disease, a number of conditions often brought by spells, and gives resistance to poison damage to you and non-hostile creatures.
So many EB’s are going to try to inflict these that had this not been an oath spell, you would’ve had to have it prepared each and every day.
Banishment can be used on any creature, which is extremely convenient, but it will specifically send beings not native to the plane you’re on back to their plane. Keep concentration on the spell for the full minute and they will not be coming back.
An excellent way to get rid of extraplanar threats or anyone that’s giving you a hard time.
You can end spells with a touch on an action. This is available to you a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier. Plenty of EBs are going to cast spells that you will want to stop, so make sure you stop them.
This penultimate class feature pairs excellently with your Watcher’s Will channel divinity. When you or another creature you can see within 30 ft of you succeeds on a mental saving throw (Wisdom, Intelligence, or Charisma) you can deal 2d8 + your charisma modifier of damage right back at the creature who caused the throw to be made.
Since you’re dishing out advantage on those throws with your divine power, you’re going to be able to deal a lot of free damage at any creatures trying to mess with your friends’ heads.
The last spells you gain through this oath are Hold Monster and Scrying.
Being able to paralyze any creature is an excellent ability that Hold Monster brings you.
Scrying is an interesting ability that allows you to scry on any creature or place on the same plane of existence as you. Creatures will make wisdom saving throws, with various conditions affecting how high that DC is.
Obviously, this makes sense as an ability you would gain, since you are a watcher, but more of a damage powerhouse could have been fun too.
All of your auras are increased to 30 feet. At least now your bonus to initiative will affect more than one or two other allies.
Here we have a great representation of what a powerful, well-themed capstone feature contains. This ability imbues you with divine energy and several incredible abilities.
You gain truesight of 120 feet, which allows you to see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceive the original form of a Shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic.
It also allows you to see into the Ethereal Plane which is just amazing. An excellent ability for an accomplished Watcher to gain at the height of their power.
You gain advantage on attack rolls against EB’s. Now they are the ones that should be afraid. But that’s not all.
Perhaps the most impressive ability this feature boasts is the ability to banish a creature to its native plane when you deal damage to them. If you choose to use this ability they must make a Charisma saving throw, but at this point, your DC should be monstrously high.
If they succeed on it they won’t be banished by this ability, but that’s okay, just pull out a banishing smite.
Alert – This fits wonderfully with your tenet of vigilance. A +5 bonus to initiative, no being surprised, and no sneak attacks against you makes you an excellent Watcher.
Mage Slayer – Not only do most EB’s use some sort of spellcasting, but you’ll also spread out which enemies you excel against. You have a much easier time breaking their concentration and can even use melee attacks as a reaction to spells cast.
Not to mention gaining advantage on saving throws to spells cast near you, even when you’re not channeling divinity through watcher’s will.
Sentinel – I mean, come on, you have an ability named Aura of the Sentinel. Of all the versatile martial abilities, this is perhaps the best for an oath of the watchers, playing into your existing role of trapping or otherwise impeding foes.
War Caster – This is always a great option for paladins, as it’s built for a character who utilizes both casting and melee combat.
Oath of the Watchers Paladin Build – Agent of the Watchers
For the following example build we’ve used the standard set of scores provided in the PHB (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) when deciding ability scores. The only levels mentioned for the purpose of these builds are those when you will have the opportunity to make a decision on how your adventurer grows.
Race: Variant Human
Background: City Watch
Ability Scores: STR 15 , DEX 10, CON 13, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 16
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Insight, Persuasion, Intimidation, Deception
Language Proficiencies: Common, Celestial
Tool Proficiencies: None
Equipment: A battleaxe, a longsword, five javelins, an explorer’s pack, chain mail, a holy symbol, a black suit (uniform indicative of unit and rank), a horn with which to summon help, a set of manacles, and a pouch containing 10gp.
Variant Human Feat: We’ll pick up Sentinel so we’re immediately skilled in combat.
At this point, it’s just important to note that you do not yet have spellcasting, so you will have to utilize your weapons in battle. It’s a great idea to use your time in first and second levels to set up the reason for choosing which oath to take at third level.
You can prepare 4 spells at this time (Charisma modifier of +3, half of your paladin level rounded down is +1)
You gain access to 1st level spell slots. Good spells of this level to prepare are as follows:
- Wrathful Smite – A 1d6 psychic damage smite that also allows you to frighten a creature if they fail a wisdom saving throw is a great way to deal out some damage to any creatures you come across.
- Searing Smite – Fire is a great damage type to deal out to any creatures you come across.
- Protection from Evil and Good – Gives a target protection from EB’s and undead. This is a great paladin base spell that fits perfectly into the watchers.
- Detect Evil and Good – Similarly, this spell allows you to sense EB’s and undead within 30 feet of you, going a step further than divine sense in the synergy for with your subclass.
- Thundering Smite – Listen, just pick up all the smites you can hold, they deal extra damage and they’re going to allow this subclass to not be weighed down by their niche abilities.
Blind Fighting is going to be a great choice for this subclass, since it allows you to watch your surroundings with more ease.
+1 Charisma and +1 Strength. CHA 17, STR 16
You gain access to 2nd level spell slots. Good spells of this level to prepare are as follows:
- Zone of Truth – Most EB’s are going to be rather sneaky, and while you might be able to see through most of their lies, forcing them into the truth is going to aid you well, especially against Fey and Fiends.
- Branding Smite – We just really like smites okay. Good damage, and you’ll be able to un-invisible any creatures attempting to sneak past your sight.
- Magic Weapon – Making your weapons stronger and more effective will be a great boost to your combat.
Since we’ve just picked up Aura of the Sentinel, let’s be extra vigilant and pick up Alert.
You gain access to 3rd-level spell slots. Good spells of this level to prepare are as follows:
- Aura of Vitality – An excellent healing aura spell.
- Blinding Smite – Give us all the smites! This 3rd level smite is super powerful and can blind foes.
- Dispel Magic – Stopping magical effects gives you an edge on any creatures who wish to harm your allies through magical means.
- Daylight – Being able to create light means giving your allies the ability to see when EB’s are using darkness to their advantage.
- Magic Circle – This spell is great to either trap, or protect from, any particularly dangerous foe you’re up against.
We want to power up a bit more at this point, so we’re going to take a +1 in Charisma and Strength again. Now we have 17 STR and 18 CHA.
You gain access to 4th-level spell slots. Keep in mind you already have access to Aura of Purity and Banishment through your oath. Good spells of this level to prepare are as follows:
- Aura of Life – Keeping a creature from dropping to 0 hit points is a great way to support your allies.
- Staggering Smite – An absolutely terrifying smite that even after the impressive amount of damage it deals continues its effects. On a failed wisdom saving throw you’ll be imposing disadvantage on a creature’s attack rolls, saving throws and stopping them from taking reactions.
- Locate Creature – This fits the watcher theme excellently because it allows you to find a creature you name. Tracking the whereabouts of threats is a great way to watch them.
We’re going to take Mage Slayer to give us one final edge on magical opponents before our capstone ability.
You gain access to 5th-level spell slots. As a general rule of thumb, 5th-level spells are going to be good spells to have ready, although you won’t want too many prepared at the same time since your 5th-level slots are limited. The following are just a few of the best options for this oath:
- Destructive Wave – This spell is just amazing. It’s the paladin’s fireball and it will end combats for you.
- Banishing Smite – Need I explain this one? You get to deal crazy extra damage, and banish things. This is THE Watcher’s smite.
- Dispel Evil and Good – Like all the other ‘Evil and Good’ spells, this focuses on EB’s along with undead. This spell gives these creatures disadvantage on attack rolls against you. The best way to end this spell is by making a melee attack against one of these creatures and sending them back to their own plane.
For our last ASI, we’ll pick up the War Caster feat, just to round ourselves out and be ready for any combat situation.
Synergies and Multiclassing
This class is built for a multiversal campaign and if you choose this you’ll want to stick in with it all the way to level 20 to get the full benefits. If you don’t think you’ll be in a campaign that delves into other planes as much, three levels in this class are all you want.
At that point you can switch into fighter to become heavily focused on combat with a few levels in a class that give you some access to magic and interesting protections.
You could also switch into any other charisma-caster to switch your focus to more spellcasting, with a bit of martial prowess.
Realistically though, there are much better paladin oaths to pick up if those are your intentions, and this subclass is best left the way it is.
Synergistically, there is one subclass that should always partner on a team with an Oath of the Watchers paladin. The Horizon Walker ranger is the other subclass that is built for a more cosmic campaign.
Their introduction in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything even says “Horizon walkers guard the world against threats that originate from other planes or that seek to ravage the mortal realm with otherworldly magic.”
This other class focused on magical means to defeat cosmic foes should always be by your side, and if they’re not, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself in the wrong party.
Beginner’s Guide to Oath of the Watcher Paladin
All paladins who take an oath put themselves in the way of danger to protect others. Basically by definition they exist to fight off the cosmic forces of evil. They are beings empowered by divine virtue and a devotion to uphold truth and righteousness.
Paladins who take the Oath of the Watchers join an order of paladins that take these basic principles and develop further upon them. It is not enough for these paladins to uphold simple values. These knights spend their lives protecting the material planes from the various threats the multiverse holds.
Extraplanar entities such as celestials, fiends, fey, aberrations, and elementals who would seek to cause unrest or to throw the multiverse into chaos are the favored enemies of the Watchers. Great sentinels of the cosmos, Oath of the Watchers paladins are the greatest weapons mortals have against such beings.
Vigilant, Loyal, and Disciplined
These are the tenets of the Watchers. Represented here is their devotion to the protection of others. They are stalwarts of holy energy. They may devote themselves to a god that has domain over life, such as Bahamut or Selune, or they may see even the influence of deities as an affront to the agency of mortals.
They train themselves in vigilance to be able to see that which others may miss. They are well versed in the trickery of the fey and fiends. They are alert to corruption at any level and have an understanding of how people work. Unlike most mortals they are not so easily tricked by the cunning of magical beings.
This aspect of the watchers shows itself in some of their abilities and spells. As a Watcher grows more powerful, they can see through more and more magical deception, eventually leading up to the Truesight ability at level 20, which allows several abilities.
At their most honed they can even see the trueform of shapechangers, see in magical darkness, identify invisible objects and more.
Loyalty to a Watcher is staying true to your duty. Many of the creatures this oath puts you up against make it a habit of offering deals or favors in exchange for some sort of compensation.
A Watcher does not turn their back on their comrades or their order for personal gain in any scenario. Being steadfast means sticking to their oath come hell or high water.
With all of this, Watchers stay disciplined. Their duty is not one to be taken lightly, and just as it requires constant vigilance, it requires a constant commitment to bettering oneself.
Watchers steel themselves against harsh conditions and magical onslaught, that they might be more prepared each day then than the last for what terrors the night brings.
No, not Guardians of the Galaxy. As cosmic guardians, the Watchers fill a very niche role in combat. They are prepared to help allies and themselves better combat extraplanar threats. All of their abilities are dedicated to this goal, be it offensive, defensive, or some level of world interaction.
There is no clearly defined role of the Oath of the Watchers subclass like tanks or support. Instead, we have here a subclass that is specialized, and highly so.
We see this in the oath spells, with most spells chosen for their interaction in some way with magical entities.
These spells are mostly conditional. Counterspell, for example, will be completely useless against a group of creatures that have no spellcasting abilities, but when you are up against a magically inclined foe you’ll be able to thwart their efforts easily.
Similarly, the oath features are very focused. Two of the oath features deal with saving throws in Charisma, Wisdom, or Intelligence. While both of these give great abilities (one provides advantage, and the other allows you to deal damage when someone succeeds on one of these throws), they are once again useless when no foe is forcing these throws to be made.
This is by no means a bad review of the subclass, on the contrary, it is one of the best paladin subclasses in my eyes. It’s just very important to understand the shortcomings of a highly specialized class.
An average character has good interaction (3 out of 5 stars) with any foe they come up against. It’s that balance that allows us to be ready for any situation our Dm can throw at us.
This class, however, is fantastic at dealing with the threats which it was built for. Their interaction is far above average in these scenarios, even as far as to say 5 out of 5 stars.
Unfortunately, this means they take a deficit when they’re dealing with other foes, and it drops us down to about 1.5, maybe 2 stars for those interactions.
So, all of that being said, the Watcher’s role in combat is to deal with extraplanar foes, and they do that excellently.
An Order of Protectors
Perhaps the coolest piece of the Oath of the Watchers paladin is the suggestion that there is an order of them spread across the material planes. Men in Black, the Masters of the Mystic Arts, and even the Jedi, are all examples of orders devoted to protecting a world from threats the universe holds.
In D&D, we have the Watchers, an organization of paladins (and I have to assume a few Horizon Walker rangers) who devote their lives to protecting the world from danger. As possibly your group’s first introduction to this order you hold a lot of agency for what their responsibilities are, and how they act.
Do Watchers prefer to work in secrecy? Do they keep the people of the material plane safe from not only the threats, but the fear that would ensue if they knew what was really out there?
Maybe they make their presence known, and being chosen to join this order is a great honor that takes years of proving your commitment to the tenets to even begin training.
How you choose to interact with the world is your decision. Choosing to take this subclass means gearing up for a campaign that will take you far beyond the normal dungeon diving that is this game’s namesake.
Instead, you are prepared to fight for the safety of millions you will never know, of a whole world of people who may never know you even exist.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.