Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unearthed Arcana Playtest: Paladins

So this is the last Unearthed Arcana for 2016, and Wizards of the Coast is ending the year on a grim, dark note.  Today we’re taking a look at two new Paladin Oaths, the Oath of Conquest and the Oath of Treachery.  These Oaths give new options for players wanting to take Paladins down a variety of dark and winding paths, so if you’re interested in playing a dark crusader, check out either of these Oaths.  Now this is the last one of these articles for the year, and we’ll be back when Wizards of the Coast opens back up in January.  We are a little saddened that neither of these paladin Oaths fulfils our Need for Steed, (that’s the third time i’ve made that joke, and i’m still not sorry).  Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the new paladin Oaths.  .

The Oath of Conquest

The Oath of Conquest is the oath of the tyrant.  Through superior strength, the paladin takes control of everything he or she surveys and rules with an iron fist.  This paladin brooks no insolence from minions, and has no mercy for his or her enemies.  If only this Oath had an option to telekinetically choke people.  The Oath of Conquest has four abilities, gained at 3rd, 7th, 15th, and 20th level.  It also has an augmented spell list that i’ll cover in just a second.  Technically, Oath of Conquest paladins are referred to as Hell Knights.

The Oath

The actual tenets of the Oath are fairly simple and straightforward.  

  • Douse the Flame of Hope: It’s not enough to simply beat your enemies, you have to utterly crush their spirit and demoralize them to the point that they will never resist you again.  
  • Rule with an Iron Fist:  Once you’ve conquered, you take no crap from anyone.  Obedient followers are rewarded, Disobedient ones are punished severely.  
  • Strength Above All:  You are the strongest one there is.  If you encounter something stronger than you, you will grow strong enough to defeat it or die trying.  

Oath Spells

1st Level: armor of Agathys, command
2nd Level: hold person, spiritual weapon
3rd Level: bestow curse, fear
4th Level: blight, dominate beast
5th Level: dominate person, insect plague

Channel Divinity

At 3rd level, the Hell Knight  gains two new options for his Channel Divinity ability:
  • Conquering Strike:  The Hell Knight can channel divinity to break his or her foe’s will.  As part of a melee weapon attack from the Attack action, a Hell Knight can use Channel Divinity to force the foe to make a Wisdom saving throw.  On a failed save, the creature is frightened for one minute, (they can attempt to make this save at the end of their turns until either the minute is up or they make the save).  
  • Guided Strike:  The Hell Knight can channel divinity to give himself or herself supernatural accuracy.  When making an attack roll, the Hell Knight can use Channel Divinity to give a +10 bonus to the die roll.  They can chose to do this after the roll is made, but before the DM announces success or failure.  
Note: This gives the Hell Knight some options, especially if he or she’s been tinkering with feats.  Conquering Strike could be key to turning the tide in a lot of encounters, as frightening the critical boss/super minion can be handy.  Sometimes, you just need to make sure you hit something, which Guided Strike does admirably.

Aura of Conquest

At 7th level, the Hell Knight gains an aura effect.  So long as the Hell Knight is not incapacitated, the Hell Knight projects an aura of menace 10 feet in every direction.  Creatures inside this area of effect have disadvantages on saving throws to avoid being frightened.  At 18th level, this aura extends to 30 feet.

Note:  I think the aura extension could probably happen sooner than level 18, maybe level 12 or 13?  The Aura itself gives the Hell Knight options for improving his or her chances of utilizing both Conquering Strike, and the fear based spells at their disposal.  

Implacable Spirit

At 15th level, the Hell Knight is immune to being Charmed.

Note: Thematic, and i know i always like being able to count on at least 1 of my tanky fighters to not suddenly change sides in the middle of the fight.  It does seem like a bit of a weak ability for Level 15 though.

Invincible Conqueror

At 20th level, the Hell Knight becomes Conquest.  As an action, the Hell Knight gains the following benefits for 1 minute:
  • Resistance to all damage
  • When taking the Attack action, the Hell Knight can take an additional attack as part of that action.
  • Melee weapon attacks score critical hits on 19s and 20s.  

This feature recharges on a long rest

Note: A fitting capstone to the Oath of Conquest, this certainly makes the Hell Knight a supremely confident and capable melee fighter and when backed up by the spells and other abilities of the Paladin makes a fierce fight, for a minute.  


I like the Oath of Conquest Paladin.  It’s extremely flavorful for creating a dark paladin who’s focused on ruling through strength and fear.  The Oath abilities mesh well with each other, and the Hell Knight has a lot of tools in the toolbox to get things done.  It’s an interesting take on playing an evil paladin, for those interested in playing that type of character

The Oath of Treachery

The Oath of Treachery is for the paladin on the path to personal power and absolutely no responsibility.  Loyalty is for suckers, and everyone is using everyone else.  This paladin cares only for himself or herself, and has qualms about selling out their friends (they actually don’t have friends, just suckers they haven’t used yet) for a copper piece.  Paladins who follow the Oath of Treachery are typically referred to as Blackguards.  The blackguards gain abilities at level 3, 7, 15, and 20.

The Oath

Jokes on you, the Oath of Treachery has no tenets to follow.  

Oath Spells

1st Level: charm person, expeditious retreat
2nd Level: invisibility, mirror image
3rd Level: gaseous form, haste
4th Level: confusion, greater invisibility
5th Level: dominate person, passwall

Channel Divinity

At 3rd level, the Blackguard  gains two new options for his Channel Divinity ability:
  • Conjure Duplicate:  The Blackguard can channel divinity to trick the weak minded.  As an action the Blackguard can create a visual illusion of himself or herself that lasts for 1 minute or until the Blackguard loses concentration. It appears within 30 feet in an unoccupied space, and is a completely visual illusion (makes no sound, has no mass, is unaffected by attacks).  As a bonus action, the Blackguard can move the Illusion 30 feet, but it has to stay within 120 feet.  The Blackguard can cast spells through the illusion, but relies on its own senses.  Further, when the Illusion and the Blackguard are both within 5 feet of a creature, the Blackguard has advantage on attack rolls against that creature, as long as the creature can see the illusion.  .  
  • Poison Strike:  The Blackguard can channel divinity to envenom his attacks.  As a bonus action, the Blackguard can touch a melee weapon or ammunition and conjure a magical toxin to coat them in.This lasts for 1 minute. The next time a creature is struck by the weapon or ammunition, the creature takes 2D10 + the Blackguard’s paladin level or 20 + the Blackguard’s paladin level if the Blackguard had advantage on the attack roll.  

Note: This gives the Blackguard options. Being able to create an illusory duplicate can create a variety of tactical options for the quick thinking blackguard, and being able to lay out a massive amount of poison damage can bring the fight to an early conclusion.  

Aura of Treachery

At 7th level, the Blackguard gains an aura effect.  So long as the Blackguard is not incapacitated, it projects an aura of discord 10 feet in every direction. This has two effects.  
  • Cull The Herd:  The Blackguard has advantage on melee attack rolls against targets that have an ally within 5 feet.  
  • Treacherous Strike:  When a creature attacking the Blackguard misses, the Blackguard can use its reaction to force that creature to reroll the attack against a creature of the Blackguard’s choice within 5 feet.  This ability does not work against creatures that can’t be charmed.  This ability can only be used 3 times before needing a long rest to recharge.

Note:  The Aura gives the Blackguard some serious options for spreading confusion and creating opportunities for Poison Strike to end fights.  Cull the Herd on its own is brutal, and encourages the Blackguard to go wading into a group of enemies.  Treacherous Strike just adds more fuel to the fire.  
Blackguard’s Escape
At 15th level, the Blackguard can disengage from his or her foes with magical assistance.  Immediately after being hit by an attack, the Blackguard can turn invisible and teleport up to 60 feet away to a destination he or she can see.  The Blackguard remains invisible until the end of its next turn or it attacks, deals damage, or forces a creature to make a saving throw.  This ability recharges on a short or long rest.  

Note:  I think this ability is going to be used to set up other creative tactical decisions for the Blackguard, and it gives them a reasonable amount of short term mobility.

Icon of Deceit

At 20th level, the Blackguard gains the ability to temporarily become a living engine of mischief and treachery.  As an action, they can gain the following benefits.  This ability lasts for 1 minute.
  • The Blackguard is invisible
  • If a creature damages the Blackguard, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw (DC equal to the Blackguard’s save DC) or the Blackguard controls it’s next action.  Creatures immune to charm are immune to this effect.
  • If the Blackguard has advantage on an attack roll, it adds it’s paladin level as a bonus to damage.   
This ability recharges on a long rest.

Note:  An interesting capstone ability that gives the Blackguard a wide range of options for murdering their way through troublemakers.  Invisibility plus Poison Strike can lead to some hilariously one sided fights, especially when the Blackguard has advantage on its attack rolls.  


The Oath of Treachery plays as a different kind of paladin, and is focused on making sure that the paladin has the options to get itself into trouble and then either fight or sneak its way out of that trouble.  Between its spells and other class features, this paladin is probably never going to be in trouble for very long.  Do be careful around it though, the blackguard will sell you out for a song.  

All right Game Fans, we’re actually caught up with the current Unearthed Arcana rules updates for character classes.  After the holiday break we’re supposed to be back with some new options for Rangers, so let’s hope we get something neat, with an energy bow or something.  

Game On, Game Fans

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