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D&D: The “Advanced” 5th Edition Paladin Casts Spells At 1st Level And More

4 Minute Read
Apr 05

Big changes lay in store for the “Advanced 5th Edition” Paladin, not the least of which is a change to the class’s name.

We’re back with another playtest of yet another class from Level Up, the folks making the “Advanced” 5th Edition Ruleset. Today we’re taking a look at the Paladin, which in Level Up has been renamed the Herald. In addition to the name change, there’s quite a take on what Paladins/Heralds can do, now instead of being a heavily frontloaded class, abilities are given extra attention, you get spells sooner, and find that whatever noble do-gooder kind of stuff you want to do, you can.

Heralds layer in a little more complexity over what you’d consider the typical Paladin, starting with the fact that you gain access to magic at 1st level. No more waiting until 2nd level to start casting spells, but rather you start with Divine Sense, Lay on Hands, and Spellcasting. And, notably, Heralds gain access to Cantrips, which means that Heralds do what Paladon’t.

Which is to say they can cast magic reliably without expending a limited resource (although technically Paladins can if they choose the spellcasting fighting style out of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything). But perhaps even bigger than that, using Divine Smite at 2nd level no longer takes a spell slot. You can just do it as a bonus action a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus, regaining uses on a long rest.

This change is huge for folks looking at weird cherry-picked multiclass builds. It’s a huge nerf to the sorcerer-paladin hybrid where you take two levels of paladin and then the rest as sorcerer to have a ridiculous number of spells to spend on smites. Instead, you deal extra damage that scales up at roughly the same pace that a paladin’s smite would scale up in damage.

It does take your bonus action, which is a bummer compared to the free action of the vanilladin, but this feels like a balancing act that helps heralds get to smite and also actually cast their spells. Which Paladins almost never do.

But that’s just the regular smite. As you level up you gain an Empowered Smite at 4th level, which lets you spend some a spell slot for an additional effect,but not additional damage. There’s Igniting Smite, which sets a creature on fire, Marking Smite which causes the target to shed bright light for 5 feet, and Repelling Smite which knocks a target back 10 feet as well as knocking them prone. It’s not the most exciting upgrade compared to the Smite spells that exist in 5E currently, but it could be quite a tool for Herald Archetypes.


Divine sense has been changed as well, you pick one set of creatures:

  • Celestials and fiends
  • Fey and elementals
  • Aberrations and undead

And you can determine when a creature from that set is present within 30 feet as a sort of always-on radar. As a bonus action, you can enhance that sense to determine the location, number, and type of any creatures from your set within 30 feet–and creatures make a wisdom saving throw vs. your spell DC or you learn the creature’s identity.

Heralds also have access to combat maneuvers, one of my favorite new things in “Advanced” 5th Edition. These are non-combat abilities that either enhance your skills or your magic in interesting ways like:

  • Understand a language that you’re not proficient with, even a forgotten language
  • Boost your Investigation checks, and use your Charisma modifier instead of Intelligence modifier
  • Make a secret save against a trap’s spot DC to be alerted before you trigger a trap

But Heralds are more than spells and smites–they’re also leaders and emissaries and gain powers that reflect this. The Heraldic Sermon allows you to imbue your words with your conviction, and can either inspire others to share information with you, convert to your cause and lend you aid, or avoid you if opposed to your faith.

All in all there are some interesting changes facing Heralds. Check out the full playtest document below and try it yourself!

Playtest the Herald Today

Happy Adventuring!


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