The Xanathar’s Guide to Everything had a little bit of everything for each class. For the Paladin, one of your options is to become the definition of repentance. As you take up the Oath of Redemption, you’ll become more of a lover than a fighter. Your goal is to use violence as a last resort, and only if violence will save other lives. As you are a redeemer, you still know that undead, demons, devils, and other things constructed from evil must remain evil… But you push for a day where Undead may join the side of justice. How could that be helpful for your average adventurer? Let’s find out.
Bring Them Hope: Redemption Oath 5E
The tenants of redemption are extremely tricky. Your goal is to establish peace, keep innocence, be patient with those who try to walk the path of righteousness, and know when to drop the executioner’s axe. Your life will be in a lot of danger with this class, as you’re expected not to kill unless it would mean your own demise.
Thankfully, the strict and difficult tenants tie into a rather impressive Defender subclass. The Redemption Oath is the ultimate “keep your friends alive” paladin oath. Preferring to be nonviolent means you’ll be in situations where you keep taking hits without dishing them back, so this class gives you some ways to reduce damage. In the case where you might be forced into fighting, you have some decent damage reflection, allied damage negation, and some of the best utility a Paladin could want.
The flavor of the class is all about nonviolent solutions. Behold; 10 nonviolent solutions.
Sanctuary is a fun spell, though not terribly useful. If you get in a fight, you’d want a little more than basic protection, especially since the target will probably throw a punch or cast a spell. Not awful for blocking hits the first turn of combat, but not exactly the best defensive option. In the case where you want to use this on yourself, consider a Grapple or Trip build; neither of those are attack rolls, so neither drop sanctuary. Sleep can be one of the more aggressive options for getting around combat… But you scale so slowly. It’ll never be useful.
Calm Emotions is a fantastic countering spell; You can shut down barbarians or simply isolate enemies motivated by anger. Really cool ability, and you can even use it to prevent problematic encounters by making everyone chill out. Hold Person is a wonderful aggressive option, and always useful; Humanoids are always getting difficult encounters, even at high level, so you can easily paralyze a level 20 humanoid with a level 2 spell.
Counterspell falls into the same category as Sleep; fantastic spell, and may be useful, but the fact that you don’t keep up with other spellcasters means you need to work much harder for the same benefit. You’ll still be happy to Counter Hold Person or other strong low-level options, but… Yeah. Hypnotic Pattern is your replacement for Sleep; great out-of-combat spell that keeps your opponents in one place while you move around them.
Level 4 is… Weird. Otiluke’s is essentially a Banishment spell that targets Dexterity. Since you can’t damage the creature without Disintegrate, you are taking that creature out of the fight for as long as you’d want. An alternate use for this spell is to defend an ally, and then drop concentration once their turn comes along. Really neat versatility! Stoneskin is either god-tier or awful, depending on what encounters you run into. If you’re about to fight things with natural attacks, 100 gp is a small price to pay for near invulnerability.
Hold Monster is Hold Person but better, so… Really strong! Wall of Force is a good way to keep enemies away from your backline, but you have to be very careful about placement.
A super good spell list, but with a lot of DCs. You’re also awkwardly weak against Disintegrate… But that probably won’t come into play often. Probably.
The two options that the Redemption Paladin get are both fantastic, but in entirely different situations.
Emissary of Peace. You can use your Channel Divinity to augment your presence with divine power. As a bonus action, you grant yourself a +5 bonus to Charisma (Persuasion) checks for the next 10 minutes.
Well, that’s somewhat great! Paladin’s don’t use their bonus actions anywhere else, so you don’t get much better action economy than that. This is an out-of-combat technique, so there’s even less reasons to use a bonus action… So, that’s perfect!
Now, how useful is a +5 bonus to Persuasion? So, your standard Paladin, at this point, might have +2 Charisma and +2 Proficiency. That means you gain more than double your modifier to your Persuasion checks. In the late game, Paladins would love a free, typeless way to gain bonuses to their Persuasion! If you have 20 Charisma, you’d still double your Charisma bonus for Persuasion. That’s a big boost!
In terms of hitting DCs, your worst-case scenario is a 25% increase to your chance to hit DCs. That’s quite impeccable! And 10 minutes is a really long time, dwarfing your standard social encounter. You’ll be very happy to have this in your pocket, especially for social scenarios.
Rebuke the Violent. You can use your Channel Divinity to rebuke those who use violence. Immediately after an attacker within 30 feet of you deals damage with an attack against a creature other than you, you can use your reaction to force the attacker to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the attacker takes radiant damage equal to the damage it just dealt. On a successful save, it takes half as much damage.
This is your combat option. This time, it takes up your Reaction. Not necessarily bad, but if you plan on taking Protection, you’ll have to decide between imposing disadvantage or simply dealing damage.
Obviously, the 30 ft range makes this a little easier to use than the Protection fighting style. If your Wizard gets crit off to the side, you can force that enemy to take at least half the damage that they did to your ally. That’s a solid use of a Channel, as long as you’re in combats where enemies do semi-okay damage, or cast spells. Obviously, this isn’t necessarily as good as straight-up casting a Disintegrate at your enemies… But, if your enemy has Disintegrate, or Finger of Death, then you might just reflect an insane amount of damage back at them.
Keep this reaction in mind whenever your Channel Divinity is up. It’ll be most useful against spells, but reflecting a crit back at a boss could win you the fight.
Aura of the Guardian
Your level 7 Paladin ability is usually an aura. The Redemption Paladin is no different, but… It’s a special aura.
Starting at 7th level, you can shield your allies from harm at the cost of your own health. When a creature within 10 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to magically take that damage, instead of that creature taking it. This feature doesn’t transfer any other effects that might accompany the damage, and this damage can’t be reduced in any way.
At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 feet.
Remember how I said you might have trouble if you took Protection earlier on? Yeah…
This ability is insanely strong. If someone near you eats a normal hit, then transfering the results of that damage to yourself is better for your healers, your ally, and yourself; the Paladin has a lot of ways to reduce damage on themselves, so you being on lower health matters a little less.
The issue is… If you have Protection, Rebuke the Violent, and Aura of the Guardian, when do you use this? Protection is a really good use of a reaction, since you can shut down attacks. But, if your ally is on low health, it might be better to let them take the hit and then transfer the damage to yourself. That way, you guarantee your ally stays alive, rather than hoping nobody takes damage. And then, if someone gets just absolutely destroyed with a crit… Then maybe reflect that damage. Your ally might take a ridiculous amount of damage, but so will the enemy. So that’s nice.
You probably shouldn’t have Protection with this subclass, though; there’s just too many reactions. Consider Defense so you take less damage in general. Or Dueling, so you can use a sword and shield while dealing good damage.
Please don’t be a reaction, please don’t be a reaction, please don’t be a reaction…
Starting at 15th level, a holy presence mends your wounds in combat. You regain hit points equal to 1d6 + half your paladin level if you end your turn in combat with fewer than half of your hit points remaining and you aren’t incapacitated.
Not a reaction, yes!
Also really good.
Constant health regeneration is an extremely potent tool in late-game combats. Your healers will be stretched thin doing more important things in combat, so healing 1d6+10 per round will be very good for them.
Combats actually last a while later on, so you’ll be probably healing a total of 4d6+40 per fight, all for free. That’s not insignificant! It also makes Aura of the Guardian a much better option, considering you benefit from taking as much damage as possible.
Not much else to say here. Eat all the damage you can so you can get this amazing regeneration! Just… Try not to overeat. Knocking yourself out is still not good.
Emissary of Redemption
Most Paladin subclasses have their level 20 ability last 1 minute and take an action. Not the Emissary of Redemption! For your whole day, you have the following benefits;
- You have resistance to all damage dealt by other creatures (their attacks, spells, and other effects).
- Whenever a creature damages you, it takes radiant damage equal to half the amount it dealt to you.
- If you attack a creature, cast a spell on it, or deal damage to it by any means but this feature, neither benefit works against that creature until you finish a long rest.
Wow! Actually wow!
This benefit lasts all day, so you don’t even need to use your action to activate it or anything like that. I’m sure I don’t have to say that having Resistance (all) on a class that takes a lot of damage is far from bad – in fact, Resistance (all) on any class would be far from bad. Do remember that you don’t reduce the damage from Aura of the Guardian, so you’ll still be taking a solid amount of damage.
The reflective damage is absolutely stupid. Even though you have resistance to all damage, you’ll still probably be reflecting 10-25 damage per action, thanks to multiattacks and strong spells. This doesn’t take an action, either! So you could still use your reaction to soak damage, reflect damage, or impose disadvantage… On attacks against your allies. Meanwhile, attacks that hit you will always be reciprocated.
So, at first, you might think that the clause is a problem. Obviously, dealing damage to enemies is an important part of fights, and your spells are really good for taking out threats. Do you know what also is a good way to take out threats? Grapple checks. Trip checks. Since those are “contests” and not attack rolls, you can use these to keep enemies from doing too much while helping your allies deal damage.
In the case that you need to deal damage – such as if a boss has Freedom of Movement – you can simply target one creature at a time. You’ll still have the benefits of this ability against all other creatures, which will reduce your damage taken significantly. If you need to cast a spell, then almost all of your options given by this subclass would negate this effect… And then the enemy couldn’t do anything to you afterwards, given they fail the save.
This feature is insanely good at negating damage from nearly all sources while not necessarily hindering your ability to deal with threats. It’s probably the best level 20 feature from any of the Paladin archetypes, simply from how universal it is.
Best Race for Redemption Oath Paladins
The Redemption Oath may be the best source of DC-based effects given to a Paladin. Add to that the fact that you’re mostly trying to use Persuasion to get out of situations, and that Charisma will also boost your saves… And you might have the first Paladin that would prefer Charisma over Strength/Dexterity. Charisma, then a Damage Attribute, then Constitution – Constitution lets you more easily take damage without going down, which is nice for a subclass that takes the damage of half the party.
The Player’s Handbook may be home to some of the best races you might find. The Half-Elf is a prime example. It boasts a perfect stat spread – +2 Charisma, 2 +1 floats for Strength/Dexterity and Constitution. If you’re having trouble choosing one, Strength tends to be better for you, thanks to your Heavy Armor proficiency.
Skill Versatility is insanely good for a Paladin, since they normally get 2 skill proficiencies. Two more doubles your skill power, letting you take the 3 Charisma skills as well as Athletics or Acrobatics. Fey Ancestry is cute flavor and sometimes saves the encounter, while Darkvision is always useful, lowering the need to take torches into the fray. Overall, this is by far the best option for this class.
Aasimar (Fallen or Scourge)
Volo’s Guide to Monsters created several rather strong races, and if your GM lets you choose from that tome, the Aasimar might be a more interesting choice than Aasimar. Blessed with a +2 to Charisma, Darkvision, and some ways to heal, you’ll be a rather great option for any Paladin. Celestial Resistance increases your durability in some fights – And gets super good if you battle celestials, fiends, or undead.
Hilariously, the Protector Aasimar is the only type I recommend avoiding. Scourge Aasimars gain a boost to Constitution and gain an area of effect ability, letting you deal damage to multiple creatures… Including yourself. Good for quickly damaging rooms that you need to destroy quickly, though that’ll make your Emissary of Redemption less potent. Fallen gets a boost to Strength and a decent source of Frighten, as well as the bonus damage Scourge gets. Since you aren’t using a spell effect to cause the Frighten, that actually doesn’t shut off Emissary of Redemption. But, both are valid. And neither are necessarily better than Half-Elf.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Redemption Oath Paladin
The Oath of Redemption is the most complex one by far, but offers insanely good utility and defensive options. If you’re in a party that’s full of squishy casters that are going to play rocket-tag with the enemy, then this class is really, really good for defending them. Consider picking this up if you don’t plan on playing Paladin for the damage potential, and would rather just keep people alive, friend or foe.