DMs Guild Review – Paladin Compendium

A collection of 25 Paladin Subclasses based on the deities of the Forgotten Realms.

DMs Guild

A review copy of “Paladin Compendium” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Eric W.A Tkachuk

I always thought the Paladin or knight archetype was pretty boring, but the D&D 5e Paladin is undeniably impressive, with great spells, supportive auras, divine smites, and some of the best subclasses in the Player’s Handbook.

But we can always use more! The Paladin Compendium includes 25 (!) new Paladin Oath subclasses, each based around one of the gods or goddesses of the Forgotten Realms pantheon.

Twenty-five subclasses is a very impressive offering. Unfortunately you’ll have to wade through a very unattractive layout with giant walls of text. Each subclass includes paragraphs of lore regarding the associated deity, and most abilities take more paragraphs to describe, making reading through the supplement much more of a chore than it should be.

Trying to describe all the different subclasses in this compendium would make me sound like Bubba from Forest Gump: You’ve got your dragon paladins, your orc paladins, your dwarf paladins, paladins who love nature, healing, death, spellcasting…

dms guild review

Some deities work better than others. Lathandar, Torm, Illmater, and Tyr are mostly different variations of the Oath of Devotion Paladin, focusing on healing and supporting allies. In fact, many of the Channel Divinity abilities directly overlap or simply repeat things we’ve already seen, such as +10 to attack rolls, or using a Channel Divinity as another Lay on Hands.

The more interesting Oaths have really strong themes and fun abilities. Moradin, god of dwarves, gets Earth-themed spells like Heat Metal, Stoneskin, and Erupting Earth, as well as a unique version of Maximillian’s Earthen Grasp as a Channel Divinity. And at level 15 they can throw their weapon like Thor, dealing extra thunder damage.

Baervan is a god I’d never heard of, but is apparently the patron of Forest Gnomes. The Paladins that take on the Oath of the Masked Lord can transform into a giant raccoon, fire stunning leaves out of their spears, and turn any tree into a Magnificent Mansion (as per the spell). At level 20, they can summon a trio of friendly treants as allies.

The tricky thing about creating Paladin subclasses is having to deal with the level 20 capstone abilities. I’ve never played D&D into Tier 4. I imagine balance flies right out of the window. But far too many of the level 20 abilities would be more suitable to awesomely cinematic Big Bad Evil Guy maneuvers rather than player characters.

For example, at level 20 a Paladin follower of Bane can summon a damn portal into Banehold (dealing 6d12 necrotic damage), along with four Bane Hounds that attempt to grapple enemies and drag them through. If at least one enemy is successfully vacuumed (I love that it literally uses the word ‘vacuumed’), you can use the ability again on the next Long Rest. If not, you have to wait 1d8 days.

I also have a big problem with insanely powerful abilities that recharge after days, weeks, or months, like in the case with the Hoar’s exploding coins (1d4 months) or the Maiden of Pain’s giant tendril attack (1d12 months, yeesh), or Torm’s super sacrifice, which deals a guaranteed 300 radiant damage in a 60 ft radius and kills the player character, a gigantic headache for any DM.

I get that level 20 isn’t exactly easy to balance for, but meanwhile level 20 Bahamut Paladins can grow wings and shrug off attacks every Short Rest while Ilmater simply restores max hit points whenever they cast a healing spell. Er, pretty sure that’s a low level Warlock invocation!

I love the concept of tying Paladin oaths into the deities themselves, and the Forgotten Realms pantheon covers just about every theme or racial deity you could ask for. There are enough interesting subclasses and abilities to make the Paladin Compendium worthwhile, but it’s in desperate need of a visual upgrade and another balance pass.

Pros:

  • 25 paladin subclasses based on the full pantheon of Forgotten Realms deities.
  • Thematically fun abilities for many gods and goddesses, such as Moradin, Baervan, Jergal, and all nine rulers of the Abyss.

Cons:

  • Unattractive layout with large walls of text.
  • Frequent overlapping or repeating Channel Divinity options.
  • Questionable balance for level 20 capstone abilities.

The Verdict: Hampered by a poor layout and some questionable balance, the Paladin Compendium is nonetheless an impressively thematic collection of subclasses that covers every major deity of the Forgotten Realms

A review copy of “Paladin Compendium” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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