Dungeons & Dragons: 7 Ways The Paladin Class Is Changing In The 2024 Player's Handbook (2024)

Highlights

  • Paladin's Smite becomes a bonus action, no stacking, and likely requires concentration.
  • Channel Divinity uses increased to twice per day, with more options and uses per long rest.
  • Find Steed is now a free feature at level 5, with a unique summoned steed.
  • Aura has been simplified and will be called Eminations.

The paladin class in is well-known for its nearly unmatched nova potential (single target damage), loyalty to law and goodness, and strength against particular enemies, including undead and fiends.

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The new edition of the Player's Handbook looks to accentuate this identity and change the paladin's mechanics to better represent these characteristics. While not all changes make the paladin a stronger class, they certainly streamline the process of playing one. Besides, you could easily argue that the 2014 paladin might have needed a little bit of a nerf.

7 Divine Smite Becomes Paladin's Smite

The Smite Control Controversy

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The biggest and perhaps most controversial change concerns what is happening to the paladin's divine smite. It will now be known as paladin's smite, and you are considered to be casting a spell when you use it.

The paladin's smite will also require a bonus action to activate making it function like the other smite options including Thunderous Smite, Blinding Smite, Banishing Smite, etc. This makes it impossible to stack smites as you could in the 2014 edition as your paladin's smite will compete with other smites for the use of your bonus action.

Additionally, the days of paladins using concentration spells are likely over. While it has not been specified whether paladin's smite requires your concentration, it's likely that this is the case as all of the other smites require concentration and divine smite was changed to paladin's smite to better match them. Consequently, a paladin's concentration will always be needed for smiting.

While these changes are a major downgrade to the paladin's overall damage, there is one nice bonus that the class gains. Now, you can use the paladin's smite feature once per long rest without expending a spell slot. This gives you the opportunity to potentially spend your spell slots on spells that aren't just smites.

6 More Channel Divinity Uses

Where My Gods At

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The paladin's channel divinity ability is receiving a huge upgrade as you can now use it twice per day instead of just once. Additionally, you will regain a single use of this feature upon taking a short rest meaning you could potentially use your channel divinity up to three times in a single adventuring day.

There will also be more ways to use your channel divinity ability. For example, the divine sense ability that the paladin used to have is now one way you can use your channel divinity. Furthermore, there is a new feature called abjure foes that all paladins will be able to use as a channel divinity option.

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These options are both in addition to whatever channel divinity ability your subclass provides. As if that weren't enough, your uses of channel divinity increase to three times per long rest upon reaching level 11. In other words, it seems that paladins will be beseeching their gods for help much more often and filling their attacks with holy anger quite a bit less.

5 Divine Sense Duration

See All The Evil

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On top of divine sense becoming a part of your channel divinity, its duration has been increased from a single round to ten minutes. This will allow paladins to activate divine sense and explore a social setting or dungeon environment with the ability active as opposed to praying that their enemy is in the immediate area upon use.

The paladin is known for sussing out hidden evildoers who can hide in plain sight, and the changes made to this feature will allow them to do so much more easily. Shapeshifters and other masters of disguise beware.

4 Find Steed Upgrades

To Me My Loyal Steed

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This iconic paladin spell has now been made part and parcel of the paladin experience. Starting at level 5, all paladins will gain access to Find Steed for free and gain the ability to cast it once per day without expending a spell slot. After all, every noble knight has their trusty steed.

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Additionally, the Find Steed spell itself has been changed significantly to better align it with the identity of the paladin class. Instead of providing you with a selection of mounts that other characters might encounter in the world, the spell summons a unique steed that comes with its very own stat block. More than likely, this new steed will be much more useful in combat than the current rendition.

3 Abjure Foes Channel Divinity Option

Banish The Bad Guys

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Previously, subclasses had variants of this ability that worked in slightly different ways. This has been changed to give all paladins a useful channel divinity ability that provides the paladin a level of battlefield control over their enemies.

In short, it allows a paladin to target multiple creatures nearby and potentially daze and frighten them. Daze is a new debility that limits what the afflicted is capable of doing in a single round. This allows for some fantastic crowd control.

2 Auras Become Emanations

Aura Sounds Cooler Though

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Paladins, as well as a handful of creatures found in the monster manual, had abilities called auras that affected themselves as well as creatures in a radius around them. In order to better organize these features, these area of effect abilities have now been classified under the umbrella of "emanations".

An emanation is any effect that radiates outward from a creature or object. Furthermore, the paladin aura has been simplified into a single aura that gains additional effects as your paladin gains levels. Previously, a paladin gained multiple different types of auras during their level progression. This could sometimes be confusing as different auras might have different areas of effects.

Long story short, your paladin aura will be easier to manage and is now considered an emanation.

1 A Better Subclass Action Economy

But A Bonus Action Conundrum

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As far as the paladin subclasses are concerned, there are too many changes to cover them all in this article, and we don't yet have all of the details on the exact specifics of their mechanics. However, the subclass changes do share a common theme: streamlining the paladin's action economy.

Previously, a paladin would often have to spend a turn, sometimes two, buffing themselves up with spells and other abilities before charging into battle. By and large, abilities that functioned like this and required an action have been changed to now only require a bonus action similar to the Oath of Vengeance paladin's Vow of Enmity.

In fact, the Oath of Vengeance paladin's Vow of Enmity now doesn't even require a bonus action. It's completely free to use as part of your paladin's attack. There are often only three or four rounds in combat, and spending one of your crucial turns simply charging up was something the designers wanted eliminated from the game.

That being said, these changes do present a problem when you consider that the paladin's smite also requires your bonus action. Paladins will now be presented with the issue of whether to activate their subclass abilities or immediately begin smiting. However, exactly how problematic this issue turns out to be still remains to be seen.

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Dungeons & Dragons: 7 Ways The Paladin Class Is Changing In The 2024 Player's Handbook (2024)
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