July 29, 2016

Dragon Knight

Sacred Oath
Comments from the Finger: Some of the best paladin prestige classes come from 3.5, but they're all very locked down to serving one type of dragon or another. This is a little more generic, and hopefully captures some of that 'Dragon Knight' feel.

Oath of the Wyrm

The Oath of the Wyrm is a covenant forged between paladins and powerful draconic masters, often ancient great wyrms. Paladins who take this oath, often known as Dragon Knights, pledge to protect the wyrm that becomes their benefactor, honor its principles, and add to its horde. In exchange, the dragon imparts some of its own power, allowing the paladin to assume the visage of a dragon to strike terror into their enemies.

Tenets of the Wyrm
Each ancient great wyrm demands different vows and services of their paladins. Red dragons might demand slaves to be brought to their lairs, while gold dragons might only ask that their paladins combat evil dragons wherever they travel. In general, however, draconic paladins tend to follow these core principles:
     The Dragon's Scale. Protect the great wyrm that is your master. Inaction resulting in the death of your master constitutes your failing as a paladin and will result in your fall.
     The Dragon's Wing. You are to travel far from the lair that houses your master to combat its enemies and steal from their hordes. Only by flying far are you to extend your master's influence.
     The Dragon's Tooth. Slay your enemies with the ferocity of a dragon. Those who follow in your wake should feel the might of your master through your actions.

Oath Spells
You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed.

Oath of the Wyrm Spells
Paladin LevelSpells
3rdchromatic orb, command
5thenhance ability, locate object
9thfly, protection from energy
13thfreedom of movement, locate creature
17thdominate person, legend lore

Draconic Alliance
When you choose this oath at 3rd level, you forge a powerful alliance with a draconic benefactor. Choose one type of dragon from the Draconic Alliance table. This choice determines parts of your Breath Weapon and Dragon Scales Channel Divinity options.

Draconic Alliance
Dragon Damage Type Breath Weapon
BlackAcid5 ft. by 60 ft. line (Dex. save)
Blue Lightning5 ft. by 60 ft. line (Dex. save)
BrassFire5 ft. by 60 ft. line (Dex. save)
BronzeLightning5 ft. by 60 ft. line (Dex. save)
CopperAcid5 ft. by 60 ft. line (Dex. save)
GoldFire30 ft. cone (Dex. save)
GreenPoison30 ft. cone (Con. save)
RedFire30 ft. cone (Dex. save)
SilverCold30 ft. cone (Con. save)
WhiteCold30 ft. cone (Con. save)

Channel Divinity
When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.
     Breath Weapon. As an action, you can expend your Channel Divinity to exhale with the destructive breath of a mighty dragon. Your draconic alliance determines the size, shape, and damage type of your exhalation. Each creature in the area of exhalation must make a saving throw, the type of which is determined by your draconic alliance. A creature takes 2d6 damage for each point of your proficiency bonus, or half as much damage on a successful save.
     Dragon Scales. As a bonus action, you can expend your Channel Divinity to plate yourself in dragon's scales of the same color as your master. For the next minute, you have resistance to damage type associated with your draconic benefactor.
     Additionally, whenever you take damage, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage taken by 1d8. If the attacker is within 5 feet of you, it then takes damage equal to the same amount. This damage’s type is the type associated with your dragon benefactor.

Frightful Presence
Starting at 7th level, when a creature with a challenge rating of less than your level moves within 10 feet of you, you can use your reaction to invoke the auras of ancient dragons. That creature must take a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute or until it takes any damage. After a creature fails its saving throw against this effect, it is immune for 24 hours.
     At 18th level, the range of this ability increases to 30 feet.

Legendary Resistance
At 15th level, when you fail a saving throw, you can instead choose to succeed. After using this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

Great Wyrm
At 20th level, you can use your action to assume the perfect form of ancient dragons. For 1 minute, you gain the following benefits:
  • You sprout scaled wings from your back, which grant you a flying speed of 60 feet.
  • You have immunity to damage of your dragon's type. 
  • You can use your reaction when you take damage to reduce that damage by 1d8.
  • You can use your breath weapon at will. 
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

Sidebar: Dragonborn Paladins
Dragonborn paladins that swear an Oath of the Wyrm are often placed in special favor by their benefactor, and have advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks made against dragons. Additionally, their breath weapons use the damage of their Channel Divinity: Breath Weapon, and the higher of the breath weapon save DCs. Dragonborn paladins that are the same color as their benefactor are of the highest favor, and gain the following feature:

Favored of the WyrmWhile your Dragon Scales Channel Divinity is active, you can use your bonus action to extend your damage resistance to a friendly creature you can see within 30 feet of you. While that creature remains in this range, it has resistance to the damage type associated with your Dragon Ancestry. You can switch this target to another friendly creature you can see within range as a bonus action.

Changelog: 7/29/16: Tenets: Revised
Dragon Scales: AC benefit replaced with DR 1d8
Frightful Presence: Half your level, now your level. Affected creatures are immune for 24 hours
Great Wyrm: AC benefit replaced with Dragon scales benefit
Sidebar: Dragonborn Paladins: Added
8/6/16: Sidebar: Favored of the Wyrm added
8/8/16: Dragonborn Paladins use the same damage and save DCs for breath weapons.
3/25/17: Draconic Alliance: No longer offers passive damage resistance
Dragon Scales: No longer offers immunity; rather, it also deals damage to an attacker when you redice damage
Favored of the Wyrm: Works when Dragon Scales is active


  1. So I have a bit of a long winded question that I will intentionally leave short and broad. On both a flavor and mechanics point of view, how would dragonborn use this class' features? In addition to that, on a more thematic and story oriented point, how would they function in societies, if at all? They rarely become paladins, and it's nigh on unfathomable to hear of one serving under a dragon and worshiping it as a god, so creating a dragonborn dragon knight would be rather difficult to pull off.

    This is a rather complicated and nuanced class/race combination, and would love to hear your input on it.

    1. Oh man, there are SO many possibilities with that race/class combination.

      Some big questions you have to ask is: Is the dragonborn's color the same as his Benefactor? If not, does this represent a sort of protest against the dragonborn's heritage, or a betrayal of his kind? If it's the same, is the dragonborn descended or related to the benefactor?

      Society is an entirely different story that comes down to the racial and religious politics of your campaign. It really comes down to how accepted dragonborn are, and how accepted the worship of Tiamat and Bahamut are. If all of these are widely tolerated, everyone but practicing paladins and clerics will likely leave this type of paladin well-enough alone (well, most people will leave a heavily-armored, dragon-looking dude alone anyway.) Cleric and paladins, in almost all cases, will basically treat this paladin as a warlock, however that may be in the campaign.

      Hope that starts to answer some questions.

    2. I think the frightful presence should have its cap raised, or use different criteria - its usefulness can swing wildly from game to game and the player has to take the DMs word on whether the creature is even eligible unless they peek at the MM and Meta.

      If your DM never uses swarms of significantly lower level monsters, it is a dead feature and I loathe dead features.

      On the same token, I might suggest something other than 'your AC can be no lower than 18' because most, but not all paladins will wear heavy armor. All paladins who do eventually lose this part of their class. Might I suggest being able to rebuke attackers in melee or in 30 feet as a reaction for half the damage dealt, but as your breath weapon type?

      Is it too much to ask for a slight incentive for Dragonborn who do take the same color as they are, as gaining resistance to the same element twice is not good. It doesn't even need to be a combat feature, and probably shouldn't be; the choice to be the same dragon type as your Dragonborn is a flavor one and should be rewarded with flavor.

      How does 'Advantage on Charisma-Based Checks against Dragons and those who have heard of your Patron' sound?

    3. Frightful presence: I agree completely, now that I take a good look at the Monster Manual. I think I'll just remove or loosen greatly the level restriction.

      Dragon Scales: I've got a backup idea for this, so no worries.

      Dragonborn Side Feature: I really like this idea! I'll have to include it as a sidebar.

    4. I love this subclass, but I really don't like that if I go dragonborn and decide to make my heritage color the same as my oath color then I lose out on some resistance. But j have an idea for this: if your heritage matches your oath, then when you use your paladin smite ability you can choose between radiant and your dragon damage type. So a red/red can choose radiant smite or fire smite on a case by case basis. And if you were to utilize this, would you only grant this feature if the colors matched, or would you also grant it if the damage type matched? For example, red/gold, blue/bronze, white/silver?

  2. As a side question, what tenets do you think that a Green dragon might request?

    1. In 5e, green dragons are schemers, who accumulate power and leverage, moreso than wealth. A green dragon might ask that your horde favors from powerful nobles, or that you crack down on newcomers that quickly grab political power. Think lots of House of Cards politics.

  3. I think the first tenet should be revised, because it both alienates some admittedly specific flavor (what happens if you make the pact with a dead Dragon's spirit, for example) and more pointedly it opens a big can of worms with the automatic fall.

    What I mean by that, is that you are supposed to be roaming far from the lair but if your Patron is even attacked or stolen from you automatically fall - losing /all/ of your class features and basically killing off the character unless they meet the alignment restriction to become an Oathbreaker.

    Even worse is the fact that a DM can decide you fall at a whim, by killing off your Patron through the story while you are far from home.

    Most importantly, it breaks the convention of the Oaths - breaking a tenet is meant to be a sliding scale of severity where the /DM/ decides what is bad enough to make you fall. Falling is only supposed to come about if you refuse to repent and repeatedly break the tenet.

    With this, there is no coming back. You can't atone, anything.

    1. The 'never fail to follow an order' is also cringe worthy, but not to the same degree. Compare and contrast it with the similar tenet(s) from Oath of Devotion - this is purely black and white which is not good.

      Sometimes players are more informed that the NPC, even often. If you know of a threat to your Patron and he dismisses its severity and commands you to continue your quest, but then dies you are trapped in a catch-22 scenario - you break your Oath no matter what you do. That is a horrible situation to put a player in, and one they have no control over.

    2. Fair enough, I can revise this. Most of the tenets come from me attempting to mimic the SRD's writing style on the subject, which are imperative sentences (IE, "You should do X"), rather than moral generalizations (IE, "People should do X"). As much as I think this presents a problem for the intended sliding scale of severity, the fact is that's how it's written.

      Still, I'm keeping the 'benefactor dies: paladin falls' relationship for two reasons: A great wyrm is one of the most powerful creatures living. Age = power, and if something kills your benefactor, you realistically couldn't stop it anyway, which places this squarely in the realm of DM-fiat. (This isn't a problem, because the DM /always/ decides if you fall or not.) Second, if you don't have a draconic benefactor, this oath doesn't work anymore, much like a warlock if his patron were somehow killed.

  4. What would happen if I'm a dragonborn that already has acid resistance and I decide to take a draconic alliance that gives me acid resistance. Would I have acid immunity then? What happens to the Channel divinity: Dragon scales then? Does my Channel divinity: breath weapon grow in damage like the description in the dnd handbook? Also I feel that the extra damage type resistance is a little OP because none of the other paladin oaths have that extra upgrade. Great work btw!! I always wanted to have a dragon oath sort of thing.

    1. Lot of questions here:

      Resistance + Resistance does not equal immunity.

      You simply have two different types of Breath Weapon. If I were running this at my table, I'd allow both breath weapons to follow the higher number of damage dice, but I didn't include this ruling by RAW, because it's entirely too specific.

      Bonus damage resistance probably isn't something to get too hung up about because it's static and can't be adjusted for the situation.

  5. As a whole, I still disagree about whether specifics for a fall belong hard coded into a subclass but overall this is a pretty well designed subclass. At my table, I would simply use different edicts.

    On the flip, I do think Vengeance also makes an excellent Dragondin; namely because its capstone is literally: Become a Dragoon. You get wings, and frightful presence, and Avantage vs Everything.

    Now, two things about this frightful presence-
    It should probably include the 'if you save, immune for 24h' or (especially during the aura upgrade) you can spend your reaction forcing any one thing in 30feet infinitely frightened even if they succeed their save once. This is codified into all mention of FP in the MM and also in VenPal's version.

    It also still says half level, for some reason.

  6. I really like the change you made with the Aura! Makes it hit a lot more things in the late game, and the Dragon Scales tweaks have really sold me on this one. Good job!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad this one's gone over so well; we've also got some other great paladins queued up, waiting for release, that I can't wait to show everyone.

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  8. I happened to notice that the Breath Weapon is about twice as powerful as a normal Dragonborn's. Is that intended? Both are once per rest abilities, though I often wish that the Dragonborn's was a more commonly usable ability if not more powerful.

    1. Totally the intention. Generally, class features > racial traits, and since Channel Divinity has other options, it also needs to be incentiveized more than a comparable 1/short ability.

  9. I noticed that if you pick a dragonborn and pick your color to match that of your dragon lord, you miss out on a damage type resistance. This makes a sort of deterrence for playing a dragonborn that matches their deity. It's odd to think about a red dragon accumulating loads of green and white servants, but no red ones. So I arrived at this idea: if your color matched your dragon master, then you can decide between your breath weapon damage type or radiant when you use your smite feature. This way there is incentive for matching your dragon lord: a cool ability. What do you think?

    1. I totally acknowledge that choosing a benefactor that is the same color as yourself presents a difficulty, and you've got a pretty decent solution. I'm a little concerned that the benefit you suggest is offensive, rather than defensive, however. I'm going to stew on it for a while, and if I can't decide on a solution, I'll probably use yours. Thanks for the insight!

    2. Ah. If you want a defensive option, you could be able to grant your resistance to an ally for a short amount of time once per day or something like that. It would be like "oh shoot guys, that wizard is gonna pyromurder the rogue! Don't worry, I will save him!" Oooo... I like this idea too... as a reaction, you can bestow fire resistance to one creature within 30 feet of you until the beginning of that creatures next turn, charisma modifier times per day. Eh, either one would be pretty cool, but granting resist would be pretty powerful.

    3. Actually, I really like that! It fits the paladin Aura thing nicely, and it doesn't really make the paladin himself too powerful.

    4. Cool! Maybe at higher levels you can increase the range?

  10. A few suggestions:

    First, I'm not sure if I really agree with Legendary Resistance being a class feature. It's mainly a balance mechanism to help powerful monsters against save-or-suck spells; it's not really a concrete, inherent property of Dragons. As someone else suggested, maybe the ability to substitute your dragon's energy type for Radiant damage with Divine Smite?

    Also, the subclass doesn't seem worth it to Dragonborn, even with the advantage on Persuasion checks against dragons. The redundant breath weapon and energy resistance are kind of a big deal. Instead, I might add an extra die of damage to the breath weapon, or trade energy resistance for immunity (if they are the same type), or maybe both, though that might be a little overpowered.

    Overall, the subclass seems very powerful, since it alleviates all three of the Paladin's main weaknesses to some extent: lack of flight, poor ranged combat ability, and few ways to deal AoE damage. Maybe too powerful, maybe not. I'd be interested to hear the opinion of anyone who playtests it.

    1. I'd also be interested in hearing playtest results!

      I think legendary resistance is excused as being a 1/long rest at 15th level. It's powerful, but will only accompany powerful adventurers. Plus, paladins already get a lot of bonus to their saves, so this isn't covering a major gap for them, it's just reinforcing one of their strengths.

      I'm planning on giving dragonborn some extra benefits as well, once I figure out what they are. (Though I really like the idea of buffing their breath weapon a little -- maybe adding Charisma to damage would be appropriate.) I'd also like to give some sort of defensive benefit to dragonborn who choose benefactors of their color (to make up for the lost energy resistance), but have yet to figure out what that should be. Any ideas?

    2. My problem with Legendary Resistance isn't so much a balance one as a flavor one. To me, it's kind of like giving a PC Lair Actions or Legendary Actions- they're a thing reserved for boss monsters.

      Cha to Breath Weapon damage could definitely work. As far as defensive benefits, if Immunity is too much, maybe just have the resistance stack? Instead of damage being halved, its quartered or thirded. I know resistances don't normally stack, but this would be an exception to the general rule.


      Or you could change the whole class so that it operates more like a Draconic-Bloodline Sorcerer, where the resistance is an ability that can be used rather than an ever-present benefit. Take the damage resistance away from Draconic Alliance, and replace the immunity from Dragon Scales with resistance.

      I believe someone else mentioned the Dragonborn Dragon Knight's Breath Weapon using the higher damage/save DC between the two features. So, in essence, a Dragonborn Dragon Knight gets one additional use of his Breath Weapon feature, and uses the highest of his Cha and Con for the DC. That way he doesn't need to worry about having two different breath weapon features.

      And, of course, all of the Dragonborn-specific features should only function if the damage types match up. A Red Dragonborn Silver Dragon Knight isn't missing out on anything by taking the class, so he shouldn't get any additional benefit, from a balance perspective.

      Hope I'm not being too critical! Really is a great class, just giving my nitpicky input.

    3. No such thing as too critical -- I almost forgot that breath weapons use different save DCs, which is something I need to address. That being said, the benefit for being a dragonborn of the same type of your benefactor should be strictly defensive (since you're only giving up a resistance.) We don't want to incentivise dragonborns of this class too highly at the end of the day. I'm probably satisfied with Favored of the Wyrm for now.

  11. One idea for defensive dragonborn is advantage on saves against damage of their type. Another is to reduce all incoming *type* damage by a set number (like 3) or their charisma modifier. Maybe limit it to charisma modifier times per day. And yet another is to increase the effectiveness of their lay on hands whenever they take *type* damage.

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  13. Very interested in how this evolves. I am making Paladin oath of the dragonguard. Which is directed at Dragonborn Paladins
    Very Similar in idea but the wold is a little different. There are only 1 of each dragon left, and they are the dragonborns ancestors. So picking a different color would be treason to your color.

  14. I think you should add that some of the dragonborn specific abilities are only applicable if your heritage grants the same resistance as your pally dragon. Otherwise the best race with a red dragon(fire) is a silver dragon(cold)(or some other damage type). Maybe only gain the abilities if your color matches to make it simpler.

    1. I totally did state that only dragonborns that are the same color as their benefactor gain the Favored of the Wyrm feature. I thought that was easiest mechanically, and make the most sense thematically.

  15. The Great Wyrm seems a bit weak- paladins on that level deal more than 12d6 a turn anyway with divine smite, can easily get flight, and the other stuff is basically just channel divinity. Maybe give disadvantage on the breath weapon, or a more powerful Frightful Presence?

    1. For some of my reasoning on this, compare and contrast Avenging Angel from the Oath of Vengeance.

    2. Hmm. Yeah, ok, fair enough. The avenging angel kinda sucks compared to this (and to the other paladin capstones).

  16. Does Dragon Scales deal damage if it's a saving throw? Say, an enemy casting thunderclap.

    1. Yes, as long as the creature dealing that damage is within 5 feet of you.