Dungeons & Dragons Reveals Redesigned Paladin Class

Dungeons & Dragons is showing off a ton of changes to the Paladin class.

Dungeons & Dragons has provided fans with a first look at its new Paladin class, with one core class feature receiving a major overhaul. Today, Wizards of the Coast released a preview of the new rules for the Paladin, one of the 12 classes that will appear in the new Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook due out in September. The new ruleset includes a notable overhaul to the renamed "Paladin's Smite" ability, which limits the core feature of the Paladin class to a once per turn ability. However, this "nerf" is offset by several improved abilities, including a Find Steed ability that is no longer tied to spell slots. 

Perhaps the biggest change to the class is the Paladin's Smite ability, which has received a notable overhaul. In the 2014 ruleset, the Divine Smite was an ability a Paladin could activate whenever they successfully used a melee attack, meaning that a Paladin player could hypothetically spend three Divine Smites per turn plus activate a secondary Smite spell as a Bonus Action. The new ruleset limits the Paladin's Smite ability to once per turn as the ability is now a set spell (called Divine Smite) that requires a Bonus Action to activate. Players can choose to activate the Divine Smite after an attack successfully hits (similar to the 2014 ruleset), but players only receive one Bonus Action per turn, so the Paladin can no longer smite multiple times when they receive the Extra Attack ability or smite when hitting with an attack of opportunity. Paladins will always have access to the Divine Smite spell once they reach Level 2. 

Similar to the Fighter class, the Paladin has access to the new Weapon Mastery subsystem at Level 1. Additionally, the Paladin's core Lay on Hands ability now requires only a Bonus Action to activate, meaning that a Paladin serving as their party's healer no longer has to decide whether to heal or attack on their turn. Paladins also receive access to spellcasting at Level 1 instead of Level 2, which functionally gives them access to smiting at Level 1. Paladins also receive an extra use of Channel Divinity that resets during a Short or Long Rest once they reach Level 3, and Divine Sense is now part of the Channel Divinity ability.

At Level 5, Paladins have the Faithful Steed ability, which grants Find Steed as a permanently prepared spell and grants them one free use of the spell per day. Find Steed itself has also been given an upgrade, with the Otherworldly Steed having a new statblock as part of the spell that makes it much more suitable for healing. 

At Level 9, Paladins receive the new Abjure Foes ability, which forces foes to make a Wisdom saving throw or become Frightened of the Paladin. If Frightened by this ability, foes become limited to taking either a movement action, an action, or a bonus action, making this very ability very powerful. Level 14 features another new ability – Restoring Touch – which allows Paladins to use Lay on Hands to clear certain conditions. As with the Fighter, the Paladin also gains the Epic Boon ability at Level 19. 

All four of the Paladin subclasses have received a "glowup" with each subclass receiving updates to one or more features. The Oath of Devotion gains a new feature called Smite of Protection that grants cover to the Paladin and nearby allies. The Oath of Glory gains a stronger Aura of Alacrity and access to a new Oath spell called Yolande's Regal Presence. The Oath of the Ancients saw its Undying Sentinel ability receive an upgrade with the Paladin receiving more HP when its activated. Nature's Wrath also received a buff with a longer range. Finally, the Oath of Vengeance also had a boost, with an increased range for Vow of Emnity. The ability's activation also doesn't require an Action, and it gains ability to transfer to another target if the current one is reduced to 0 Hit Points. Relentless Avenger and Avenging Angel have also been buffed.

While some fans are upset that the Paladin's Smite ability has been reined in, it appears that the Class is more versatile and has more options than simply going "supernova" during one turn in combat. We'll see how the full class plays out when Dungeons & Dragons releases the Player's Handbook on September 17th.