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I'm playing a Dex-based high elf paladin in D&D 5th edition. We are starting at level 3, and these are my current stats:

Str: 8
Dex: 16
Con: 14
Int: 11
Wis: 10
Cha: 16

(Dumping Str instead of Int was a personal choice, honestly. I had a few spare points left, and I didn't want to have my character be a bit too dim for my taste, so Strength became the dump stat. That, and I have proficiency in Medicine + Religion.)

I'm currently considering taking the War Caster feat simply for the ability to be able to cast spells while still having my shield on me, but I am unsure how wise that decision would be. I'm new to the 5e system.

Should I go for the War Caster feat so that I'll be able to cast spells with more ease, or should I instead opt to increase my ability score(s), or even take a different feat?

The role this character will focus on: Front-liner/support, with more emphasis on front-liner as the game progresses. (I suspect the lore bard will be a good enough support on his own).

I am aware I can always sheathe my weapon before casting a spell, but that also means I will only be able to make opportunity attacks with unarmed strikes.

P.S.: I am unsure exactly what role I would play at my current group, but if it helps, here is the composition of the rest of the party:

  • Thief rogue
  • Hexblade warlock
  • Lore bard
  • Eldritch Knight fighter
  • Gloom Stalker ranger
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Not for casting

You don't need a free hand to cast most spells.

  • If the spell has a material component, Paladins can cast it while holding a shield in one hand and a weapon in the other, as the shield is their spellcasting focus* (even if it also has a somatic component).
    • Example: Bless
  • If it has only Verbal component, everyone can cast it with their hands full.
    • Example: Smite spells

Only spells with somatic, but without material component are a problem, but than you can just drop your weapon, and pick it up in the next round as a part of an attack.

Other aspects of War Caster

It gives you better chances at concentration, and the ability to use spells as opportunity attacks. Neither is very valuable to you.

Concentration

At level 6 you can add your Cha modifier to all your saves, that is usually sufficient. If not, I prefer Resilient(Con) anyway, as it increases your Con save against all effects, and provides you with more hit points. (In this case put an odd value to Con).

Opportunity Attacks

In my experience most DMs avoid provoking, so you will not see much use for this. Moreover, you lack the spells that would be good candidates, and you can't really spare an ASI for Magic Initiate.

What to take instead

+2 Dex, nothing comes close in power. Level 8 too. If you already maxed out Dex, and you have to pick a feat:

  • Resilient(Con), to increase your Con
  • Sentinel to protect your allies, and to use your reaction
  • Magic Initiate (Mage Armor, once you have better Dex, for good ranged options)
  • Inspiring Leader, temp hp is good
  • Medium Armor Master, if your adventuring days are longer than Mage Armor
  • Defensive Duelist for protection

If you can change your ability scores I would take Resilient at level 4, then +2 Dex twice, then Sentinel. If the values are set, leave out the Resilient.


*) if it shows their faith's symbol

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, your explaination helps clearing things up for me. If so however, what type of spells should I keep preparing to rely on? Are there spells with somatic that can still be good options to keep on my list, such as bless for example? \$\endgroup\$ – Warren Feb 10 '18 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Warren Bless is one of the greatest spells, so I would keep it anyway, but it has a material component in addition to somatic, so it works with shields. \$\endgroup\$ – András Feb 10 '18 at 22:05
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I would not go with War Caster, as the best Paladin combat spell usage is various forms of Smiting, which you can do with your hands full. Adding Dex is always good (depending some on what armor you are using, of course).

If you wear medium armor, with your Dex, it may be useful to take Medium Armor Master -- that would let you upgrade to Half Plate (AC15), use your +3 for Dex, and with shield that gives you AC20. It also cancels the Stealth penalty.

Mobile is very useful, Alert is very useful, even Inspiring Leader is good for you. Defensive Duelist is a good option for you. Lots of things I would take before War Caster.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe I'll stick with light armor, so medium armor master is out. Defensive duelist and alert do look like solid options :). Inspiring leader, well... I got two other players who I believe are going to focus on charisma more then me (the hexblade warlock and the bard), so I don't feel as inclined to take it. \$\endgroup\$ – Warren Feb 10 '18 at 21:28
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For a dex Paladin, you can't get better than +2 dex. Better damage, initiative, AC, save and skills.

I also noticed that you listed your stats as 8,16,14,11,10,16 using half-elf and point-buy. Using the standard array and applying your racial bonuses to dex and con, you can have 8,16,14,12,10,16 for the same cost, improving your medicine and religion skills.

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