Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was pretty experimental with subclasses; a lot of interesting choices, sometimes too experimental for their own good. The Oath of Conquest, however, the Oath of Conquest is a different story. By taking the Oath of Conquest, Paladins lose their veils of falseness. They are no longer aligned with justice and hope. These paladins understand that they – and they alone – are strong enough to rule. They have the power, the magic, the authoritative voice. They are who should be trusted… Or feared. Let’s find out why these Paladins think this way.
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Conquer the Planet: Oath of Conquest 5E
Knights of Conquest are a bit different than other paladins. Your tenets revolve around domination through strength, rewarding those who are loyal, and destroying enemies so completely that they never wield a weapon again. Your goals are to be the leader of not just your party, but an empire. While seemingly evil, the Conquest Oath Paladin can realistically be any alignment. Just remember that you are not merciful – You are Order.
Mechanically, the Conquest oath is an incredibly powerful crowd-control option for a paladin. Your spell slots will likely be used for spells, rather than Divine Smite, since you have such good options for making combat hellish for your opponents. Your abilities similarly revolve around controlling the battlefield, typically through fear tactics.
Oath of Conquest Spells
Your Oath spells are fantastic! But they suffer from one thing; a lot of them have a save DC. That means that, to make the best use of them, you’ll need high Charisma, something a 5E Paladin can’t usually afford to use. On the other hand, since you have these great spells, even chancing the Will Save may swing a fight into your favor.
Let’s start with defensive spells. Armor of Agathys isn’t much of a defensive option, but it certainly exists. 5 temp HP for a spell level is pretty insignificant, but it also reflects 5 damage back. In certain encounters, if you spend a 5th level slot, you might use the 25 HP to deal 25 damage back against enemies, and you can do this multiple times if your temp HP doesn’t fall off! That’s not a bad split of damage for spell slots. Stoneskin is either a fantastic spell or useless, depending on the type of campaign your GM runs. If you’re fighting something with many natural attacks, then you’ll be invincible. Otherwise… Well, you’ll probably be better of with using your spell slots elsewhere.
As a side note, since you can have Armor of Agathys and Stoneskin on at the same time, you can absolutely decimate Multiattacking monsters. Just a thought!Pure damage options include Spiritual Weapon and Cloudkill. Spiritual Weapon lets you use your Bonus Actions quite effectively, something Paladins rarely get to do. It’s a decent source of damage. Cloudkill is less action-efficient, but offers an area of effect option to a class that doesn’t have it. Not bad… But your DC is super important here.
Everything else on this list – Bestow Curse being a somewhat edge case – belongs in crowd control. Command is a simple spell, but clever use can cause heavy amounts of follow-up damage with the right commanding word. Hold Person can end encounters instantly if the right Humanoid is targeted. Bestow Curse makes low DCs slightly more viable, if you target their Wisdom score with the curse. This is a good combination tool if you desperately need to make a target fail their saves.
Fear is a fantastic combination tool once you acquire Aura of Conquest, if your Channel Divinity fails. Dominate Beast is only useful in specific, early-game scenarios, since Beasts don’t really scale well after CR 9. You can get a pretty good dog, but he might not be the most effective in fights. Dominate Person, however, works at nearly all levels, since Humanoids are always threatening. It’s a shame you get it so late, since your spellcasting brethren had this at around level 9… But that’s normal for Paladins. Overall, really powerful, fantastic spells! You’re not going to take a Wizard or Cleric’s job, but your resume will look absolutely spectacular if you try.
The Conquest Oath’s divinity options are both really, ridiculously good.
Conquering Presence. You can use your Channel Divinity to exude a terrifying presence. As an action, you force each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature becomes frightened of you for 1 minute. The frightened creature can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
This is both better and worse than your typical Turn spells. It’s much better in that you target any creatures you want – so you don’t even friendly fire if you’re allied against a Type that would be commonly turned, like Undead.
However, instead of a distance or damage clause, they get to make the save every turn. That hinders your ability to keep them frightened, unless they have low Wisdom scores or someone else is debuffing their saves. This ability is nonetheless impressive, turning you into a wall that melee combatants can’t cross, or simply heavily restricting enemy options to attack or move where they’d want to. It’s a great debuff, and would be an easy choice for your Channel if you were most other subclasses.
Guided Strike. You can use your Channel Divinity to strike with supernatural accuracy. When you make an attack roll, you can use your Channel Divinity to gain a +10 bonus to the roll. You make this choice after you see the roll, but before the DM says whether the attack hits or misses.
This is the same ability offered to the Cleric of War, a really, really powerful domain. A +10 to an attack turns most misses into a hit. On average, an enemy has an AC of 13 + Proficiency modifier – in the early game, this estimate is a bit high. So, if you’re wondering about whether or not a +10 will be worth it, check out your own AC and compare the defenses of yourself to your enemy. In almost all cases… a +10 will be enough.
The only problem is that you only get one use of this per short rest. If you need to deal with many spooky monsters, use Conquering Presence. If you plan on using Divine Smite and a 4th level spell slot, then a +10 might be worth your while, just to guarantee the burst.
Aura of Conquest
The aura of conquest is one of the worst auras offered to the subclasses, due to how situational it is.
Starting at 7th level, you constantly emanate a menacing aura while you’re not incapacitated. The aura extends 10 feet from you in every direction, but not through total cover.
If a creature is frightened of you, its speed is reduced to 0 while in the aura, and that creature takes psychic damage equal to half your paladin level if it starts its turn there.
At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 feet.
When that situation arises, however… Your enemies will have some issues. This might be one of the best immobilizing effects in the game. Combine this with Conquering Presence and you get an Area of Effect lockdown and damage effect. In addition, your enemies have disadvantage on attack rolls thanks to being Frightened. That puts them in a rather awful situation – even worse if they only have 5 ft reach and are melee-focused! Then you can literally watch them die of psychic pokes.
The problem is, this is a Synergy-oriented aura. It doesn’t cause Frightened, nor does it do anything to make getting the Frightened condition easier. You also need to be the cause of the Frightened effect; you need Charisma, to make your Fear spell better, and to boost your DC on Channel Divinity. The more fear effects you have, the better. Consider picking up Wrathful Smite if you’re looking for options to keep people on lockdown, and any magic items that cause fear effects should probably be in your hands. However, your level 2 spell slots should be exclusively for Fear. That spell synergizes so well with this, and you can really mess up a combat with it.
At level 15, the Paladin normally gets a defensive ability. However, defensive abilities are for cowards, and those unwilling to conquer planets.
Starting at 15th level, those who dare to strike you are psychically punished for their audacity. Whenever a creature hits you with an attack, that creature takes psychic damage equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) if you’re not incapacitated.
Well, technically, this is defensive, but still; you’re hurting people. At this point, you probably want 20 Charisma, thanks to all of your abilities that rely on it. If you manage to get there, then you reflect 5 damage to any melee combatant that hits you. Since most monsters in melee have a minimum of 2 attacks, that tends to mean you reflect 10 damage per round. That’s not exactly impressive, but considering you don’t have to spend a resource, you’ll get some mileage out of it.
Combine it with a Level 5 Armor of Agathys for some actually decent damage reflection… Of 30 damage per hit. Wow. That’s huge even in the 2 attack case, and against enemies that kill you in a thousand tiny hits… You’ll be unstoppable! Thanks to not having a resource, nor having a save, this is a rather potent source of dealing psychic damage. Don’t forget you have this…. But maybe don’t make a build around it. My idea was mere speculation.
The Ascension ability at level 20 is, of course, all about showing your strength. You can spend an action to get a minute-long buff. The buff gives you;
- You have resistance to all damage.
- When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can make one additional attack as part of that action.
- Your melee weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20 on the d20.
And that’s only once per long rest. So… Make it count! During that 1 minute, these buffs are rather insane. Resistance (everything) is absolutely crazy. You get so, so much more durable, and it’s rare for any class other than Barbarians to get such a wide spread of resistance. At last, my Armor of Agathy’s idea might actually be worth anything!
3 attacks in a round is always useful, although Paladins tend to use Divine Smite as their primary source of damage. This lets you get a different way to output huge numbers with no resources… Other than a once per day thing, but hey. Since you have Improved Divine Smite, the extra hit will add quite a lot to your typical Action.
The critical hit clause is, obviously, super nice. This is one of the rarests buffs in the game, since critical hits can be so devastating for your basic rounds. Considering you have 3 swings in a round, that critical chance might come up more often than it seems… And when it happens, oh boy! Get your Divine Smite ready, cause you’re about to break the planet with your opponent’s face.
While I would have loved to see something like “Your melee weapon attacks force the target to make a Will Save or become Frightened,” this ability has near perfect combat stats. Your minute of ascension will be one for the history books. Just… Remember to toss a Fear out every now and then. Keep ‘em in range of that rapidly swinging sword.
How Good is the Oath of Conquest Paladin?
Like most paladins, the Oath of Conquest has an incredible ability to deal damage to a single target. Powerful strength-based attacks mixed with Divine Smite can easily smash through bad guys. What paladins have always struggled with is dealing with multiple targets. Your attacks and most of your spell slots are dedicated to single targets. What is great about the Oath of Conquest is that the subclasses Channel Divinity offers excellent crowd control that most paladins lack. At level 3, your paladin gets COnquering Presence, which has the potential to cause fear in enemies within 30 feet. In many situations, this is a powerful tool that can reshape a battlefield.
This subclass has synergy from one feature to another that most lack. For example, Conquering Presence is great on its own, but incredible when paired with the level 7 feature Aura of Conquest. Aura of Conquest forces creatures that are afraid of you in close range to not only have their speed reduced to zero but also take psychic damage when they are in your presence. This isn’t just powerful, it adds a layer of battleground tactics that is not usually present for most paladin builds.
Downsides for the Conquest Paladin
There are not a lot of downsides to the Conquest Paladin. It does everything a paladin should – which is kicking down doors, carve enemies in half, and deal out Divine Smite with reckless abandon. You also have crowd control options that are not available to most paladins. While not a downside, these should be wielded carefully. If your party is relying on you to dish out the most damage and you are focusing on causing fear conditions, your group could be in a pickle.
Speaking of fear, it should be noted that while a fun option, it is not the most efficient one. Immunity to the fear condition is one of the most common immunities among monsters in D&D. This is especially true at higher levels, which makes your crowd control abilities fairly situational.
Best Race for Conquest Paladins
The Conquest Oath Paladin is one of the few that should have their Constitution be a distant third stat increase. Charisma is incredibly important for this subclass; you need to get your enemies Frightened. Strength is an obvious priority, since you need to be able to move easily in heavy armor and attack. Get Charisma second, Constitution third.
As we spell out in our Paladin 5E Guide, strength is a go-to attribute for this class. However, if you want a Dexterity Paladin with Finesse weapons, go for it! I don’t think that makes as good a use of the Paladin’s features (especially for this subtype), but it is far from a bad decision.
This may not be surprising. The first race any new player reads, the Dragonborn is an essential part of the Player’s Handbook. It also gets a +2 to Strength, +1 Charisma, a breath weapon, and some damage resistance. The Breath Weapon offers an alternative to Cloudkill in those awkward swarm fights, and you won’t be using a spell slot. In addition, assuming your DM lets you select bonus feats, consider picking up Dragon Fear to turn your breath weapon into a Fear effect. Then, your draconic empire can truly begin!
Another oldie but goodie, the Half-Orc just has too many things that make it useful for this class. High Strength, with a Constitution boost so you don’t need to put so many attribute points into health. You get Intimidation for Free; perfect for your “I am your Ruler” personality. Your critical hits hit even harder, which means if you get to level 20, you have double the chance to proc it. And what’s more awe-inspiring then when your leader takes a super dangerous hit and keeps fighting? An extremely potent and flavorful option for this crazy strong Oath.
Multiclassing Your Conquest Paladin
The paladin is a strong class on its own. Given its strength, you can play an optimal character sticking exclusively to paladin. However, despite their strength, the paladin is one of the most commonly-multiclassed options available. The Conquest Paladin isn’t lacking much, but there are a few multiclassing options that are conceivably worth giving up some things like Paladin spell progression and Invincible Conqueror.
There is a nice synergy between Conquest Paladins and fighters, and adding a level or two of fighter could dramatically improve your build. The great thing about this multiclass is that even taking a single level gives you Second Wind and a new fighting style. A paladin that is going the standard sword and board route could benefit from picking the Defense fighting style, which adds +1 to AC. This is a great option given how rare AC boosts can be. Alternatively, the Dueling fighting style packs on even more damage to your already strong build. If you go for a second level, action surge just gives you that many more opportunities to land a Divine Smite.
The Sorcadin – sorcerer paladin – is by far one of the most popular multiclasses in D&D. However, most people usually put most of their levels into sorcerer while dipping into paladin for the armor and other benefits. If you intend to primarily play a Conquest Paladin, the sorcerer is still a great option for multiclassing. You will get access to arcane spells, which is always fun. The real benefit is metamagic, however. You can burn sorcery points for additional spell slots, then use those slots for Divine Smite. You can also quicken spells like Hold Person or Blindness/Deafness to cast as a bonus action, which could greatly improve your chances of success on a melee attack.
Most multiclasses involving a paladin and a warlock will involve a Hexblade build. There is good reason for that, as this is one of the strongest multiclass builds in the game. Going the Hexblade route means you can virtually eliminate the MAD issues that can plague a paladin. Instead of relying on multiple attributes, your build will rely entirely on Charisma. That means your attack rolls, damage rolls, and spellcasting. Taking levels in Warlock is great beyond using it to get Hexblade, as it provides some spellcasting options that would not otherwise be available to you.
Oath of Conquest FAQ
This section is dedicated to some of the common questions related to the Paladin Oath of Conquest.
Is Oath of Conquest Evil?
Playing an Oath of Conquest paladin does not require you to have evil alignment. It is understandable to wonder about this question, as the basic concept of conquest seems awfully aggressive. As written, the rules do not require any set alignment for this subclass. In fact, there are only a few subclasses under the rules that have a specific alignment requirement. One of those is the Oathbreaker Paladin.
What Does the Oath of Conquest Mean?
the Oath of Conquest calls to paladins who seek glory in battle and the subjugation of their enemies. This oath goes beyond seeking order; conquest paladins set out to crush chaos. This dominant approach has lead some to refer to Conquest Paladins as knight tyrants or iron mongers.
What Book is Oath of Conquest?
The Oath of Conquest was released along with other subclasses in Xanthar’s Guide to Everything.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Conquest Oath Paladin
The Oath of Conquest is one of the strongest paladin oaths available. With a strong spell list, some rather impressive Channel Options, and good passive buffs, you will be in control of the battlefield and social situations alike. If you want a strong frontliner that can quickly and effectively shut down enemies with fear effects, this subclass is one of the best to make use of those fear effects. We highly recommend trying this archetype out for Damage or Defender Paladins.