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I just constructed a Level 5 Human Paladin character for one of my players and this is what I got.

His base stats are...

  • STR 15
  • DEX 14
  • CON 18
  • INT 14
  • WIS 17
  • CHR 12

This was done by using the 4d6 minus the lowest number method.

He has an Armor Class of 18 because he has Chain mail armor and a shield.

He chose Oath of The Ancients and thus has ensnaring strike, speak with animals, moonbeam and misty step as well as choosing Bless and Shield of Faith. He also talks celestial.

His flaw is that he puts others before himself and will always jump in front of danger to save one of his companions but even with that, having 65 hit points and an armor class of 18 while having the strength and proficiency to not be over encumbered.

The part the really confuses me is that he has 30 speed, while wearing heavy armor and carrying a large shield; all because of his strength and proficiency's.

This all sounds way too powerful for Level 5; am I wrong? And if I'm not, how could I balance this, preferably without telling the player to change his character (like fighting enemies that exploit a certain loophole in the character's build)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm assuming the other players also have level 5 characters? Can you give some comparisons to what makes you think this one is more powerful? Is it just "he has more health/AC" and in that case, what classes are the others playing? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 17 '18 at 12:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, where did you get 65 HP? That seems a little above what I'd expect. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 17 '18 at 12:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you roll for HP or use the average? Does the paladin have any feats like Tough that would increase HP? \$\endgroup\$ – KumosAgosta Jan 17 '18 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ He'd have to roll all 9 with one 8 on a d10 unless he's a dwarf and/or has toughness. Our lvl 3 barbarian has rolled 12 both times so far. \$\endgroup\$ – KingdomGnark Jan 17 '18 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Youjay, even if you roll for HP, you always get max HP at 1st level. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Jan 17 '18 at 23:47
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The answer depends largely on what your concern with the balance around this character is.

Too much HP?

If you have a quarrel with the level of HP the character has rolled (his HP is very high), then you can change the battle tactics of the enemies to address this. If you start introducing more complex battles that have multi-tiered combats, this HP will be whittled down, especially as his character will likely be taking the majority of the damage.

Example: As you all enter the large chamber, you see two robed figures across an 80 foot pit each holding a sling and a vial of a strange goo. The only way across is a rickety bridge on the far left side of the room. Roll initiative. (You roll initiative for the two goblins while secretly have initiatives prepared for other creatures not yet visible by the PCs). On the first figures turn he hurls a rock at a pressure plate near the ceiling on his side dropping an orc into the chamber separating the front liners who have begun to work there way to the bridge from any healers in the back, the orc uses a readied action to attack the paladin approaching the bridge. Later in the round the other figure pours some goo onto a stone and hurls it at long range at the ranger with disadvantage. The stone misses but when it strikes the wall a small explosion goes off blackening the stone wall behind (this is a way to show them what the goo does but at disadvantage so you don't punish them early on for not knowing). The Paladin may not want to try his weight on the rickety bridge so instead he climbs down the wall into the pit but once he enters the pit torches above each side blast flames covering his way out and a gate begins to open on the right side, a foul odor entering the room (ala Rancor Pit). If he does walk on the bridge it breaks, prompting a Dexterity check to catch the fall putting the character in a treacherous position anyway.

This type of combat is not only more fun and memorable to most people, it is a way of dealing with clunky but bulky melee characters without making it seem like you are focusing them too much. His actions got himself stuck in the "Rancor Pit".


Too much AC?

With bounded accuracy in fifth edition, every additional point of AC can be very powerful but most creatures can still deal with the player. Even so, 20 AC can be harrowing to a lot of encounter structures. One way to fix this problem while keeping the feel of the character is to use magic items. A shield gives +2 AC while wielded, so introducing a two-handed weapon that has a unique magical property give the player a choice between the added defense and the additional power. In my experience, players are more likely to use the fun magic item then to just write +2 on their stat-sheet.

This magic item doesn't even need to be powerful. Here's an example of a way to spice up the system based on the encounter from the previous section. After the paladin roughed his way through the mutant umber hulk with the help of the wizard from above and the rest of the party had cleared out the room, the paladin sees a greataxe back behind the hidden gate that had opened before. It glimmers with a sort of gold hue. When you lift the axe the fires that had trapped you in before glow blue and lose the heat they had once held before. On the cheek of the axe is the holy symbol for Gond the god of craft. An identify spell reveal that when wielded by a holy character (paladin, cleric, or some subclass like divine soul) the creature is resistant to fire damage and can move through non-magical fires unharmed. Additionally whenever the character takes fire damage from an enemy, the axe gains charges which can be used to deal an additional 1d10 fire damage with a melee attack (charges reset to 1 at dawn).

This type of weapon is a fun way to give the paladin another option than strict defense. Further, its limit on fire damage lets you decide how powerful it needs to be by limiting how many creatures deal fire damage.


Too much Mobility?

If the combo of movement speed and misty step makes the paladin too able to close in on your casters and ranged attackers during combat, give those creatures other options either with further mobility or spells like cordon of arrows. This will make the paladin more weary about jumping into the back-line so aggressively. If the issue is holding the paladin down during an important fight or story moment, the arch-wizards golem can always grapple him forcing misty step only to be counter-spelled by the wizard leaving the paladin helpless without the aid of his party.

There are countless options that are similar to these that give story opportunities and fun features without limiting the players options. With proper employment of engaging activity, a DM can adjust balance of players' items and fighting styles. It's simply an extension of the "yes, and..." policy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe you actually meant "Rancor pit" (the beast in Jabba's palace) and not "Sarlacc pit" (the ant-eaterish pit in the desert). \$\endgroup\$ – Angew Oct 10 '18 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Angew oh my goodness. I'm ashamed \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 10 '18 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ You fail. Turn in your nerd card. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Oct 10 '18 at 23:31
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The stats are good but apart from that it looks like a bog standard 5th level Paladin and therefore on par with other 5th level characters.

High strength PCs move at full speed in heavy armour.

He also rolled really well for hit points: if we deduct the 5 × 4 = 20 hp for his Constitution, and 10 hp for the first level, that leaves 35 hp of his 65 coming from his rolls on levels 2nd through 5th—an average of 8.75 hp/level. The expected value for that would have been 5.5 hp/level, so 8.75 is on the high side.

While not impossible it is very, very unlikely.

I can’t see any real issues with the character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nat Gorgeous TeX there, sorry I had to remove it. But understanding what was going on there was really hard, so I spelled it out. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 18 '18 at 3:53
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Honestly, he looks a little underpowered to me. He gets +2 Str or Dex to his attack and damage. So with his +3 proficiency, he's only gets a +5 attack bonus at level 5. Some characters can have an attack bonus of +7 at level 1 if they are lucky (and that's only a little overpowered). And his damage is probably only 1d8+2 (6.5) if he's using a shield. Then his Cha bonus is an awful +1. All of his Paladin abilities that key off of Cha will be terrible (attack +3 and DC 11).

So all he can do is tank (and cast spells which don't care about Cha much or smite on a hit). Other than HP and AC, this character is underwhelming. I hope you roll dice for characters before they pick their classes or you let them pick where to assign the scores... unless your group likes dumb wizards, clumsy rogues, and unlikable bards.

These would be great stats for a cleric or a druid, but not many other classes.

Note that I have no problem with him playing a sub-optimal character if this looks fun. But I think it is important for both player ad DM to realize that this character is a lot more min than max.

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No, you've built him to be pretty comprehensively ineffectual.

He's got a lot of HP for his level -- he must've rolled seriously well on those -- and he has no real weaknesses, but his stats are all wrong for a paladin. As you've written him, this guy will be a fantastic meat-wall but has very little ability to do anything useful in a fight, which is going to make his player bored and frustrated.

Paladins attack with Strength and cast with Charisma (not Wisdom), but their magic is limited to doing something fancy a few times per day, so you don't want to prioritize that. You've given him a merely decent score in his primary stat, and dumped his casting ability.

I'd recommend putting the 17 or 18 in Strength (with the other in Constitution) and the 15 in Charisma. His 12 should go into Intelligence or Dexterity, which are the traditional dump stats for a paladin.

As written, he looks more like a Cleric than a Paladin.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ He could tank though. \$\endgroup\$ – qazwsx Oct 10 '18 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @qazwsx "Meat-wall" is a common slightly-derogatory term for a tank, particularly one that doesn't deal much damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 10 '18 at 12:19
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You must look beyond the stats and listen to what the player is saying. Are they scoffing with comments like "wow, didn't even take off a quarter of my HP" or do they have the opposite concern where they are overly worried about their HP getting particularly low? That should be your cue to whether they have "too much" HP or not. It may very well be that the player sought to have their PC have such high HP and they won't appreciate getting so much extra damage especially if they figure out they are only getting this because they have more HP.

That can make the game seem very arbitrary where their choices have little impact, they have all this extra health but there goes the GM arbitrarily changing the universe to nullify that choice to a grey middle. Instead, give options for this player to bank on their toughness, to take bolder risks where they must inevitably endure more punishment but in return they will get yet greater glory.

I can't tell you how you should do this, but it has to be an elevation above the usual routine of baddies lining up to attack. You need to find a way for the player to "aggro", that is ensure that he is attacked more because he can take more punishment. That'll be quite hard, but just having the NPCs metaphorically peek behind the GM screen to act just the right way is no good either.

Players will always appreciate it more if the GM empowers the player with meaningful choices rather than just throws a steady stream of mooks and monsters at them to whittle down their health at a given rate. Without player choice, a DnD game becomes little more than a game of Dice with some math thrown in that punctuates a bit of improve theatre. Choices that hinge on the unique physical aspects of the PC they care so much about will engage their interests even more.

Many things give quite predictable damage regardless of AC such as heat from fire, falling damage and objects falling on them. So you may present a situation of a VIP trapped behind flames, they must make the choice to leave them or to run the gauntlet and let themselves be badly burned to achieve what otherwise could not be achieved and save them. That's the player choice having impact on the world, an important character is now alive when they otherwise wouldn't be. The players may be cornered and the only choice is to surrender or jump off a cliff.

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I played a level 5 paladin for the last 2 weeks, believe me he is not OP. Mine only has 45 HP which is still 1 above average for level 5 with a 14 con, your HP is very high. I have plate,shield and defense style so my AC is 21. In the last session I took well over 100 points of damage, the high AC is great in combat but doesn't do anything for your dex and con saves from spells and traps, neither of which a Paladin is proficient at. When my DM is feeling nice (IE, we are not looking so good) I can hold the line and attract all the attacks that likely miss my high AC. When the DM wants the to challenge us the mobs wise up and avoid the giant metal man and hit the rogue in leather amour or the unarmored wizard.

Before 5th level my offensive ability was pretty sad. The one sword attack compared to the dual wielders and spell casters was way under-powered. I could divine strike 3 times per day to good effect but I was easily the worst damage dealer in the group. At level 5 with 2 attacks it is much better and now 6 spell slots and 4 branding smites in my Necklace of prayer beads means I can dish out pretty good but so do all the 5th level characters. I am still vying for weakest offense.

Moving 30 is actually slow, impressive maybe in plate but still makes me the slowest character in the group. We had to flee a falling room and I was the only character that didn't have some way to boost my speed and had to make some clutch athletics roles to get out. The misty step would be a big help in this but spell slots can be precious for a Paladin.

Edit: Just got to level 6 an Aura of Protection is awesome, completely solved the weak saving throws. Now I can shrug off a lot more spell and trap damage. Haven't played as level 6 yet but compared to the lame buff my son's ranger got it is awesome. Poor rangers.

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protected by Oblivious Sage Oct 11 '18 at 16:00

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