Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Paladins
Week by week I’ve been reading through the new class options in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and having a think about how I could imagine using these subclasses in a game. This week it’s the new paladin oaths, which I think make a good mirrored pair.
Oath of conquest
A couple of weeks ago I was saying that a lot of the subclasses in Xanathar’s Guide seem to have connections to the planes and I was saying I think we should expect planar adventures soon… and I missed this one, which has a connection to the first layer of the Nine Hells.
I think it’s fair to say that this is a kind of antipaladin, or perhaps the shadow side of a paladin. This subclass might make some folks uncomfortable, but I think it’s an antipaladin we need to have. The outward appearance of a stereotypical paladin is that they are are good and noble knights, often motivated by religious fervour, based on a romantic vision fo the Christian crusaders of the middle ages. As far as I understand, the reality of the crusades was quite morally questionable and the conduct of crusaders was often less that noble. I think the oath of conquest represents that ugly side of the paladin or crusader. Xanathar’s Guide even says that some of these paladins are actually serving the archdevil Bel, ruler of the first layer of Hell.
Oath of redemption
This is the polar opposite to the oath of conquest. A paladin under the oath or redemption has such faith in their adversaries’ capacity for change that they will avoid using violence and only fight as a last option. This oath grants abilities that allow the character to rebuke those who commit violence (dealing equal damage) or to use their reaction to shield allies, soaking up damage themselves.
As I was reading this class description I was reminded of the tortle fighter character, Yog, who I played as in Scratticus’ 30 hour stream on the weekend. I joined an exisiting party who’d just burned down the last city they visited, and I decided that Yog was going to be a wiser, more responsible adventurer who was almost like a social worker, trying to keep them out of trouble and make honorable heroes out of them. Now I reckon this paladin subclass would actually be a better way of representing that kind of character, so if I play as Yog again I’ll probably remake him as an oath of redemption paladin.