DMs Guild Review – Oath of the Nightbringer

Embrace darkness with the Shar-worshipping Oath of the Nightbringer.

A review copy of “Oath of the Nightbringer” 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: M.T. Black

I was never a big fan of the holy warrior/chivalric knight archetype until D&D Fifth Edition. The 5e Paladin is very well designed, capable of tanking, healing, and dishing out lots of damage via divine smites, as well as a very complimentary spell list. 

But the Paladin also has the least diverse subclasses, with many Oaths that feel a bit too standard and same-y. The Oath of the Nighbringer is a thematically sound new subclasses, but also highlights that lack of diversity.

The Nighbringers worship Shar, goddess of Darkness and Secrets. I’m not well versed in the Forgotten Realms pantheon beyond names, but thankfully this short supplement includes a full page of lore dedicated to the Nightbringer herself, including her followers, and the church hierarchy.

The tenets of the Nightbringer are all about spreading darkness across the world, quenching light, and sowing fear. If you’re thinking this sounds like a combination of Oath of Conquest, Vengeance, and Oathbreaker – you’re right! The subclass draws from several existing powers and slightly tweaks them, resulting in a well-balanced, but somewhat boring power set.

For example, one of the Channel Divinities is Night Falls, forcing all enemies within 30 feet to make a WIS save or become blinded. It’s the exact same as the Oath of Conquest’s Conquering Presence, replacing fear with blind. Fear is still very appropriate for Shar, however, and the Nighbringers get an Aura of Intimidation at 7th level to force attackers to make a save or become frightened.

At 15th level the Nighbringer gains Malignant Reproach, dealing necrotic damage equal to their CHA modifier to anyone who hits them. Once again, it’s the exact same as the Scornful Rebuke from Oath of Conquest, only changing the damage type.

The 20th level ability is the dark-side version of Devotion’s Holy Nimbus, spreading an aura of magical darkness and dealing automatic necrotic damage. While all of these abilities are mechanically balanced and thematically appropriate, they don’t really offer anything new or interesting beyond retheming other existing subclasses and abilities.

The supplement also includes over half a dozen new spells. Unlike the subclass powers, these spells do offer some cool new ideas, with a big focus on dealing raw necrotic damage. I’m a big fan of Killing Ground (4th level), using a reaction after killing an enemy to desecrate an area, turning it into a field of necrotic damage, as well as Eye for an Eye as a super-charged, 4th level Hellish Rebuke with a d10 hit die. That’s one angry Nightbringer!

Oddly the new spells are not included in the Nightbringers’ Oath spells. It feels like a bizarre oversight, as they all fit well with the darkness and fear theme. In fact, the new spells may be worth the price of admission alone, as additional spell options for other evil-themed paladin subclasses.

Pros:

  • Over half a dozen new spells thematically tied to fear and darkness.
  • Full page of lore for the Goddess of Night, Shar.

Cons:

  • Powers frequently overlap with other Paladin subclasses.

The Verdict: Oath of the Nightbringer provides dark and fear-themed powers and spells for a Shar-worshipping Paladin, while also revealing the lack of diversity in Paladin subclasses.

A review copy of “Oath of the Nightbringer” 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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