The greater the darkness, the brighter the light can shine to repel it. Light brings life, beauty, and hope in those darkest of hours.
The Oath of the Ancients Paladin has sworn themselves to protect the force of life. Filled with a power that dates back to the dawn of the elves and the most ancient druidic rituals, these Paladins are the first to take a stand against the forces of darkness.
Rise, dear Paladin, and stand for this noblest of causes.
This is the full guide to the Oath of the Ancients Paladin in D&D 5e!
What is the Oath of The Ancients Paladin in D&D 5e?
The Oath of the Ancients Paladin is one of the three original Paladin subclasses appearing in the Player’s Handbook.
Protecting nature and the forces of life, Oath of the Ancients Paladins’ armor is decorated and adorned with flowers, vines, leaves, and antlers to symbolize their ties to nature. These Paladins might also be known by other names such as Green Knights, Fey Knights, or Horned Knights.
Oath of the Ancients Paladins make it a point to be a warm and comforting presence. Their strength exists to support those around them in addition to defending them.
These characters enjoy celebration, laughter, and art. They are gentle and kind to those around them.
But when the forces of evil threaten to extinguish that light, the Oath of the Ancients Paladin reveals another side of themselves. Whatever darkness would dare to threaten them or those around them will be fought back at every turn.
Tenets of the Oath of The Ancients
Fitting with the name, the Oath of the Ancients has been preserved for longer than any living creature can remember.
Ideas of law and chaos change with the times, but what is truly good does not. This is what the Paladin swears themselves to.
There are four tenets to the Oath of the Ancients:
- Kindle the Light: Your acts of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness kindle the light of hope in the world and beat back despair.
- Shelter the Light: Stand against wickedness wherever there is good, beauty, love, and laughter in the world. Where life flourishes, stand against the forces that would render it barren.
- Preserve Your Own Light: If you allow the light to die in your own heart, you cannot preserve it in the world. Delight in song, laughter, beauty, and art.
- Be the Light: Be a glorious beacon for all who live in despair. Let the light of your joy and courage shine forth in all your deeds.
Role in the Party
Like other Paladins, the Oath of Ancients Paladin can stand strong on the frontline and pump out some great damage.
But there’s more to their specific role than that!
The Oath of the Ancients Paladin gets some great control abilities while also offering magic resistance to their party. You’re an excellent combination of melee combatant and support.
Leverage your spells, likely high Armor Class, and positioning to be a great defender for your party!
Oath of The Ancients Paladin Abilities
The Oath of Ancients Paladin gains powerful nature-based features to aid them and protect their allies.
While these aren’t specifically called out as Fey in nature, it lends itself towards that. If you like Fey things as much as I do, you can have an absolute field day with how you flavor these features!
Let’s get into it!
Oath of The Ancients Spells
Your Sacred Oath grants you bonus spells that are meant to help you and build on your subclass’s theme.
At each of the levels that you see on the table, you gain bonus spells. These spells are always prepared and don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
If a spell isn’t from the Paladin spell list, it still counts as a Paladin spell for you.
|Paladin Level||Oath Spells|
|3||Ensnaring Strike, Speak with Animals|
|5||Misty Step, Moonbeam|
|9||Plant Growth, Protection from Energy|
|13||Ice Storm, Stoneskin|
|17||Commune with Nature, Tree Stride|
Thoughts on the Oath of the Ancients Spell List
I’m not going to lie; this spell list is admittedly kind of all over the place. Apart from the higher-level spells, though, it actually works!
Ensnaring Strike is a great spell for you that you’ll get exceptional use out of at every level. It restrains enemies while also dealing some extra damage each turn. Speak with Animals is situationally useful but could be handy in the early levels (especially if you don’t have a Druid.)
Protection from Energy can be a very strong defensive option if you know what kind of damage an enemy is going to be using. Plant Growth can be very good for slowing down enemies if you’re in the right environment.
Ice Storm gives you an AoE damage option while also creating difficult terrain to hamper enemies, but it’s very situational by the time you’re getting it. If you’re carrying around plenty of diamond dust to cast it, Stoneskin is a wonderful defensive buff but save it for emergencies.
Both of your spells at level 17 are situational and the slots are probably better used for Divine Smite.
Commune With Nature can save time scouting, but situations at this level where you’ll need it are rare. Similarly, Tree Stride is only useful if you’re in the right environment, and even then, it’s not spectacular at these higher tiers of play.
Related: The Best Paladin Spells By Level in D&D 5e!
Channel Divinity (Level 3)
The Oath of Ancients Paladin has two options for using their Channel Divinity feature. You can use Channel Divinity once per short or long rest.
Nature’s Wrath: As an action, you cause spectral vines to spring up and reach for a creature within 10 feet of you that you can see. The creature must succeed on a Strength or Dexterity saving throw (its choice) or be restrained.
While restrained by the vines, the creature repeats the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. On a success, it frees itself and the vines vanish.
Compared to Ensnaring Strike, this is honestly pretty underwhelming. The creature gets its choice of a save instead of having to make a Strength CHECK (not a saving throw that could include proficiency) to avoid being restrained.
Furthermore, this doesn’t do damage and requires an action versus Ensnaring Strike’s bonus action and damage every turn. If you can hit the target and have the spell slots, there’s no reason to use this instead of Ensnaring Strike.
Turn the Faithless: As an action, you present your holy symbol and each fey or fiend within 30 feet of you that can hear you must make a Wisdom saving throw.
On a failed save, the creature is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage.
How useful this is depends on what kind of campaign you’re playing in. It’s basically Turn Undead but for Fey and Fiend creatures.
If you find yourself getting surrounded by fey creatures, devils, or demons then this can be very powerful. It also reveals those creatures’ true forms if they are shapeshifters or magically disguising themselves.
Generally, Fey are less common but Fiends are popular enemies at every level.
Aura of Warding (Level 7)
If there were only one reason to choose the Oath of the Ancients Paladin, it would be this.
The ancient magic that you use to fulfill your oath has formed a defensive ward for you and your allies.
You and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you have resistance to damage from spells.
At level 18, the range of this aura increases to 30 feet.
An argument exists to be made that enemy spellcasters are less common than melee enemies. That’s a fair enough point, but I have one question in response to that argument:
When is the last time your heart didn’t sink at least a little bit when an enemy casts a spell like Fireball or Disintegrate at you?
There might not be as many spellcaster enemies in the game, but their spells frequently have a huge impact. Regardless of what kind of damage the spell is dealing, the Paladin and their nearby allies have resistance to it.
So, you’re taking half damage from that enemy’s fireball. If you make the save, you’re only taking a quarter of the damage.
This is a fantastic aura that only gets better when you reach level 18.
Just be aware that you and your party are gaining resistance to the damage from spells. Spells like Polymorph, Feeblemind, and Hypnotic Pattern can wreck your day without dealing damage. You and your friends will get the bonus from your Aura of Protection Paladin feature, but these spells are bypassing your Aura of Warding.
Undying Sentinel (Level 15)
This is a feature that you will hopefully never have to use. But when an enemy has just decided to completely ruin your day, you’ll be very glad you have this!
When you are reduced to 0 hit points and are not killed outright, you can choose to drop to 1 hit point instead. Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Additionally, you suffer none of the drawbacks of old age and you can’t be aged magically.
Being able to stay standing after taking a boatload of damage is incredibly useful.
This feature is effectively giving you the Half-Orc’s Relentless Endurance racial bonus. (As a note, if you’re a Half-Orc Oath of Ancients Paladin, you’re effectively getting this feature twice now!)
Unless your Aura of Warding isn’t enough to save you from a Disintegrate spell or if a Lich hits you with a Power Word Kill, this can make all the difference!
The anti-aging effects are cool, but mostly flavor.
Elder Champion (Level 20)
Using an action, you can now assume the form of an ancient and powerful protector of nature for 1 minute.
It’s up to you how this looks. You might resemble a large tree covered in moss and leaves or grow large antlers adorned with runes of the forest. Whether or not you resemble the Lorax, you most certainly speak for the trees!
You also gain three benefits for the duration:
You regain 10 hit points at the start of each of your turns.
When you cast a Paladin spell that has a casting time of 1 action, it can take a bonus action instead.
Enemies within 10 feet of you have disadvantage on saving throws against your Paladin spells and Channel Divinity options.
1 minute may not seem like much time, but that’s 10 rounds of combat. You’ll get some excellent use out of this!
For starters, you’re healing 100 hit points in total over those 10 rounds. You’ll have much less trouble staying on the front lines.
Your Paladin spells are now as if they’ve been affected by the Sorcerer’s Quicken Spell metamagic. Freeing up your action while also opening options for your spells is great.
Last and certainly not least, enemies having disadvantage to save against your spells is amazing. They’ll have a much harder time resisting powerful options like the always-fun Banishing Smite!
But a word of caution:
Be mindful of your action economy and limited spell slots when you activate this. Burn through your spell slots too fast and you’ll find yourself starting to struggle quite a bit more!
It’s not a stretch to consider the Oath of Ancients Paladin as a kind of hybrid between the Ranger, Druid, and Paladin classes. The flavor and Oath tenets of the Oath of Ancients really lend themselves towards a connection between one of these Paladins and the party’s Druid and/or Ranger.
I could especially see an Oath of the Ancients Paladin getting along great with Druids from the Circle of the Shepherd or the Circle of Dreams.
When connecting your Oath of the Ancients Paladin to the story, consider what the adventure’s hook is. How has the problem at hand affected nature? Has some prophecy been revealed to you that has prompted you to take this stand in defense of others?
How does your character view the other party members?
Are they fun but naïve (in your character’s opinion) adventurers who need to be protected?
Perhaps your Paladin sees certain pains and traumas that they have been through and hopes to protect and grow the light of peace within them.
You are the vanguard between light and the darkness that threatens it. Whether by raising your weapon or channeling the ancient magics, you will defend those around you.
Is the Oath of The Ancients Paladin Good?
The Oath of the Ancients Paladin is a solid subclass that offers a lot to the party. Especially for the value that this subclass brings, it’s a great addition in pretty much any party.
Like the Oath of Devotion Paladin, most of this subclass’s features are straightforward which makes this an excellent option for new players. But it also brings a ton of flavor and utility to keep it appealing to more experienced players.
The Oath of the Ancients Paladin’s Channel Divinity does leave a bit to be desired. Both effects are very situational. Turn the Faithless can get more use in the right campaign, but Nature’s Wrath is only useful when you’re out of spell slots for your Ensnaring Strike or just can’t seem to hit your target.
But that Aura of Warding is simply wonderful. Like I said when covering it in the guide, spellcasters might not be common but they have huge impacts. Giving yourself and your party resistance to spell effects is great!
And speaking of spells…
The Oath of Ancients spell list is solid, all things considered. Ensnaring Strike is going to be your best friend, but Misty Step gives you extra mobility that most other Paladins don’t have. It can be used to quickly engage an enemy or as a reliable panic button if you find yourself getting overwhelmed!
Curious how the Oath of the Ancients Paladin stacks up against the other Sacred Oaths? Check out the full ranking of every Paladin subclass in D&D 5e!
Conclusion – Oath of The Ancients Paladin in D&D
There’s so much theme to the Oath of the Ancients Paladin that it’s easy to let your imagination run wild.
Personally, I can really imagine one of these characters as a type of “gentle giant” in their community or party. They’re kind, strong, and quick to help however they can until their friends are in trouble. When that happens, they don their ancient rune-covered armor, and all bets are off!
But I’d like to know your thoughts on the Oath of Ancients Paladin! Let’s chat in the comments!
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