The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide was full of interesting ideas. The Oath of the Crown is… Probably one of the least original ones. The Oath of the Crown is the definition of a lawful oath. Whatever the law of the land is, that’s your creed. You listen to sovereignty, and make sure that the Word is obeyed by every citizen within your jurisdiction. You are a bulwark against barbarism, the light in the sky, the crown jewel of society… And probably should have picked up Oath of Conquest. But hey, the Crown has plenty of unique flavor and options to view. Let’s talk about them!
Honor Your King: Oath of the Crown 5E
The tenets of the Crown vary from ruler to ruler. You’re essentially upholding whatever law you grew up under. This Paladin is unfailingly loyal to whatever creed you’ve decided to work with. You’re courageous in any situation that is thrown at you, and you accept responsibility for the actions that you commit. Interestingly, if you do decide to turn your back on your ruler – for example, if they’re corrupt or become evil – then this is one of the best non-evil ways to become an Oathbreaker Paladin. So… That’s cool!
Mechanically, the Oath of the Crown is one of the more potent defender options when it comes to paladin oaths. You’ll be extremely good at defending your allies, and you’ll have a few ways to make it hard for your enemies to target anyone else. In addition, you’ll get a few things that make it a bit easier to take damage without going unconscious… Which will be extremely useful. However, with the addition of the Redemption subclass, this one loses a bit of its strength.
The Oath spells are the big difference between Oath of the Crown and Oath of Redemption. In addition to the already strong paladin spells the class has, Crown’s list is more focused on defending yourself, rather than out-of-combat solutions.
Compelled Duel is almost guaranteed to be on your spell list to begin with, so having it always prepared changes little. It’s basically a +1 known spell. Command is a solid utility spell if you can’t get in range of your enemies. Against enemies with low Wisdom saves, you’ll be happy to drag them around the battlefield.
Warding Bond is neat, giving a +1 bonus to AC and saves. The total damage dealt to the party remains the same, so it’s not exactly damage reduction. Might be good if your Monk is getting destroyed and you want to heal yourself a little longer… Otherwise, not exactly fantastic. Zone of Truth is a great out-of-combat spell, allowing you to more easily gather information with Intimidation. If you’re not looking for information though… You’re not exactly happy with it.
Aura of Vitality is solid. Paladin’s bonus actions are usually spent on magic, so spending them on healing 2d6 is far from bad. A total of 20d6 is actually pretty efficient for a healing spell. Since they’re split up into 2d6 chunks, that becomes a great way to pick your allies up. Spirit Guardians is interesting, especially as an anti-escape tool, but you’ll have to constantly chase enemies. Don’t use this with the intention to kill enemies with it, since they can keep their distance rather easily.
Banishment is a fantastic spell, keeping a threat (or a healer) out of a fight. It has additional utility of saving the life of your party member in worse-case scenarios. Guardian of Faith is… Solid. 60 damage for a level 4 spell slot is actually pretty great. Use it to make the battlefield painful for your opponents, usually by putting it between them and your backline casters.
Circle of Power makes you effectively immune to magic, a great use of your spell slot. Geas is extremely flavorful, and super cool. Not exactly a valid combat spell, but it’s fun.
This list suffers from having a surprising amount of Paladin spells already on it, limiting your utility from out of class spells. However, the Paladin spells it has are rather valid, and a good use of your spells known. This is a great spell list.
Like all Paladins, you get two channel divinity options. Both of these are somewhat impressive.
Champion Challenge. As a bonus action, you issue a challenge that compels other creatures to do battle with you. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature can’t willingly move more than 30 feet away from you. This effect ends on the creature if you are incapacitated or die or if the creature is more than 30 feet away from you.
Champion Challenge is one of the best Taunt effects in the game.
The bonus action is nice, leaving your Action open for casting or attacking. By restricting combat to within 30 ft of you, you can stop any melee fighters from approaching the backline. In addition, keeping all enemies within 30 ft from each other means much easier targets for your allied spellcasters. It stops teleportation effects, burrow speeds, fly speeds, or any other way a GM would have an NPC escape a fight.
The downside is that 30 ft range. You’ll still need a full movement action. If your movement is in any way restricted, you actually can’t keep up with an enemy who wants to get away from you. And if two enemies are 30 ft away from you – one above you, one below you – you actually have no choice but to let one escape from your Champion Challenge for free. This might be one of the few Paladins that you want to build Dexterity instead of Strength, just to have a ranged option.
Turn the Tide. As a bonus action, you can bolster injured creatures with your Channel Divinity. Each creature of your choice that can hear you within 30 feet of you regains hit points equal to 1d6 + your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) if it has no more than half of its hit points.
Turn the Tide heals your average party for 4d6+20 at Charisma 20. That’s not insignificant, especially compared to Healing Word. The best use of this Channel is, of course, to get allies out of unconsciousness… And it does that perfectly!
The health restriction does limit it’s utility as just a generic healing spell, but you should be saving this for emergencies.
Not much to say here. Use it to give your Cleric more actions, give your whole party a boost, and spend your channel on something universally good.
Turn the Tide is perfect for emergencies, but Champion Challenge is there for combat control. If your allies are still damaged after a Short Rest, consider saving your Channel for Turn the Tide. Otherwise, Champion Challenge’s movement restriction is extremely powerful.
So, uh, this ability is the main reason why you take this archetype… And the main reason you should consider Oath of Redemption.
Starting at 7th level, when a creature within 5 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to magically substitute your own health for that of the target creature, causing that creature not to take the damage. Instead, you take the damage. This damage to you can’t be reduced or prevented in any way.
This is a good ability… But Wizards literally just overshadowed it when they printed Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Whoops!
So, this does have a few advantages over the Protection reaction. You guarantee that your ally won’t take damage, which can save lives. As a Paladin, you tend to have high health, and your naturally high AC and saves prevents a lot of damage. You’ll have the resources to stay afloat, whereas a melee Warlock or Monk might not be as healthy. Protection has the benefit that you might prevent damage in general, but this just makes it so you’re the only person in the fight who is taking damage.
Now… The problem. Oath of Redemption has this same ability at this level. Except the range is 10 ft. And it increases to 30 ft at level 18. If your sole reason to take this subclass is for Divine Allegiance, then please consider Redemption.
Level 15 tends to be a pseudo-defensive buff for most of the subclasses. Crown follows this formula, in a specific direction.
Starting at 15th level, you have advantage on saving throws to avoid becoming paralyzed or stunned.
So, you add your Charisma bonus to saves. You’re gonna be essentially immune to paralysis or stun. The advantage isn’t even necessary, but it can be nice to avoid the worst-case scenario by having the extra dice. Since stun effects tend to be Constitution saves – which you don’t have proficiency in naturally – the double roll can save you.
Cool! Paralysis and Stun are both really, really bad status effects; any turn where you’re unable to act or react is not one this archetype wants to be part of. Both Stun and Paralysis are fairly common amongst all spell lists (especially with Hold Person), so you can counter a lot of otherwise devastating options. You’ll be the life of the party against mummies, too! This works great with Cleansing Touch, so you can get out of Paralysis and then end Paralysis on someone else.
You’ll absolutely love this ability when spellcasters come around… But you’re not out of the woods. You can still be immobilized through effects like Banish or Entangle. Come prepared!
The Oath of the Crown is a little weird compared to most other archetypes (other than Redemption) in that their level 20 ability lasts for 1 hour. As an action, you gain these 3 benefits;
You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons.
Your allies have advantage on death saving throws while within 30 feet of you.
You have advantage on Wisdom saving throws, as do your allies within 30 feet of you.
For an hour. Getting knocked out ends it early, as does… dying. That one might be obvious.Getting Stoneskin is a pretty good benefit. You don’t need to spend any money, and you’ll get great resistances. In some campaigns, this will essentially halve all damage that you take. In others, it’ll be completely worseless. Against dragons or creatures with natural attacks and multiattack, you’ll probably reduce a significant amount of damage. If your campaign is low-magic, then you’ll actually benefit from fighting anything that battles with physical weapons, other than Monks.
The advantage on death saving throws is always good. Obviously you want your allies to be off the ground as soon as possible, but getting two rolls to not immediately die is nice. Two chances to roll a 20 might pick you off the ground without the need for any healing magic, and two chances to avoid a 1 is essential for survival. It’s situationally relevant… But try not to let that situation happen.
Advantage on Wisdom saves is unsurprisingly fantastic. Wisdom saves tend to be effects like Dominate Person or Command; spells that force you to fight your allies. In the late game, it’s essential that every turn belongs to you and you alone. And, well, rolling twice on Wisdom saves will make sure you don’t give your turn to an enemy.
Overall, really good benefits that’ll usually last 3-5 combats, maybe more if your group doesn’t need short rests. And by now, almost every enemy will probably have some spellcasting ability. This is one of the better capstones for the Paladin subclass.
Best Race for Crown Oath Paladins
Crown Oath Paladins really want some Charisma. Charisma affects your DCs, your bonus to saves, and how much your Channel Divinity heals. However, they also really want Constitution to better soak hits. And you’ll need either Strength or Dexterity to deal realistic damage… So… Uh… You’re in a bit of a pickle, huh?
We recommend Strength or Dexterity, then Charisma, then Constitution. Consider taking the Tough feat to better soak damage without needing to put too many points into Constitution… Though you’ll still want some so you can have okay Constitution saves.
Genasi (Air or Earth)
The Elemental Evil Player’s Companion offers a really good race with the Genasi. You start with a +2 racial bonus to Constitution, which is fantastic for your new life as a meatshield. Or… Well, I guess air-shield, since you’ll be born from the union between the elemental and material planes.
Air Genasi gain a bonus to Dexterity, access to Levitate, and very slight utility with your ability to hold your breath. Earth Genasi get a bonus to Strength, can ignore difficult terrain to better chase down enemies, and some anti-tracking tech through Pass without Trace. Depending on what weapon you prefer, you’ll want one or the other. Both are great options for taking hits and compelling duels.
This is, admittedly, a weird option. The Simic hybrids are a group of prebuilt races from the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Occasionally calling themselves Guardians, they get a +2 to Constitution, and can throw another +1 onto Strength, Dexterity, or Charisma; your choice! In addition to Darkvision, you also get some animal bonuses. Depending on your campaign, you’ll probably want Nimble Climber the most – for water campaigns, Underwater Adaption is a bit better. If you find yourself on the Elemental Plane of Air, Manta Glide might be correct. Afterwards, you can gain grapple options, acidic ranged attacks, or bonus AC while not wearing heavy armor. This extremely adaptable race is perfect for your tanky self!
Conclusion – Our Take on the Crown Oath Paladin
The Oath of the Crown subclass suffers from a really strange problem, almost unique to the Crown Oath. The Oath of Redemption does what it wants to do… But often slightly better. The Crown gives more impressive self-buffs, and has some anti-death benefits. If you have a few melee allies – especially weaker caster classes – then the Crown can be a slightly better defender and help pick them up early on. Otherwise, I would consider looking at the Redemption oath, and potentially changing your mind. For more on the awesome class, see our complete Paladin 5E guide!