Step inside the design of a new subclass for Paladins, take a look at what goes into building a new archetype. Balance, cool features, and narrative–all these are on display in Part 2 of this design-a-paladin series.
When last we checked in with Mike Mearls, franchise creative director for D&D, he was working on an Arcane-themed Paladin subclass. We got a look under the hood at some of the class systems they have in place. In today’s video, Mearls leans a little heavier on the narrative side of the Oath of the Guardian, showing 5th Edition’s story and mechanics philosophy as he puts together a class that functions as a warden against extraplanar threats.
This video follows-up pretty heavily into “what story does this subclass tell” territory. You can watch the features take shape as Mearls develops the Oath of the Guardian. It reminds me a lot of the Gatekeepers out of Eberron. If you’re unfamiliar with them, the Gatekeepers were an ancient Circle of Druids charged with protecting the world from extraplanar threats. They keep watch over a number of arcane gates into Eberron, through which Dael’kyr have tried to invade.
That’s the same sort of vibe I’m getting from the Oath of the Guardian Paladins, who are all about both combatting extraplanar threats and making sure that certain cosmic secrets are unearthed–but stay in the right hands. The whole subclass flows from the tenets of its Oath.
The Order tenets play into developing the Bonus Spell lists, but there’s an interesting mix of balance and narrative at play here. Spells on the Paladin chassis are an interesting prospect, because the majority of time in combat, you’ll see them used to fuel smites. Unless you’re really looking for the specific utility of them.
The later class features feed back into the concept as well. Of particular interest might be the 7th level feature, which gives you and your party resistance to damage of a specific type a few times per day.
Which, when coupled with the Antimagic aura of the 20th level feature, really paints the Guardians as…well Guardians. It evokes that moment out of Phantom Menace when Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn confront Darth Maul. They take on the foe that the rest of their party isn’t equipped to fight, which is very much what this Paladin feels like, though Guardians feel like they enable their party to fight the unfightable foes a little better.
At any rate, that’s what goes into a subclass’ development. Tune back in next week for a picture of the Ranger, Revised.