Our DM allowed us to start our Underdark campaign as a gestalt at level 3. Even though my main is going to be a warlock (eventually go for hellfire warlock prestige class) I picked rogue as gestalt: sneak attack and evasion and reflex bonus. After the gladiators arena we did, I realized warlock//rogue was not the best choice for gestalt and I could have gotten a lot more as warlock//paladin instead of warlock//rogue. So far I know these benefits my warlock would have with level 3 paladin:

  • ability wear heavy armor (not sure how this would work with warlock)

  • really good saves with divine grace since both paladin and warlock is charisma based.

  • the paladins mount( not sure how it would work with warlock? Would I need some feats to ride it?)

  • heal with lay on hands

  • ability to cast spells (not sure how this works either)

We are allowed to use content from all D&D 3.5e books.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s unclear how this would work—are you a 3rd-level paladin/3rd-level warlock, i.e. a 6th-level character? Or are you a 3rd-level warlock who also has the benefits of a 3rd-level paladin, but are still a 3rd-level character? If so, which paladin benefits? All of them? Are you using the gestalt rules to combine them? Something else? “Subclass” isn’t a thing in D&D 3.5e; instead, you just take levels of one class and then take levels of another class, but maybe your DM is doing something special? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 10, 2020 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ 3rd level warlock / 3rd level paladin with ECL=3 not 6. And yes we are using the gestalt rules. But we are told that beyond level 3 we can choose to level one class over the other. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2020 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using the UA paladin variants, or a house rule or something? Warlock and vanilla paladin are incompatible alignment-wise. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2020 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ The slash (/) is typically used to indicate multiclassing, i.e. your 3rd-level paladin decides, upon reaching 4th level, to take a level of warlock and become a 3rd-level paladin/1st-level warlock: a 4th-level character overall. Gestalt is traditionally indicated with a double slash (//), so you would be a 3rd-level paladin//3rd-level warlock. And my understanding is that once you start leveling up, you will have to level up just one of them, so you’d be a 3rd-level paladin//4th-level warlock at 4th level, and so on? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 10, 2020 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ We are not limited to vanilla classes and we are allowed to use all the 3.5 books. So it would be a type a paladin that would be fitting the alignment of warlock such as Unholy Paladin. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2020 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


The abilities available to a 3rd-level paladin that are relevant to a warlock are:

  • Divine grace means your saving throws are going to be enormous, because your Charisma should be very good. Failing a saving throw can often mean your death, or worse, so having huge saving throw bonuses is a very, very good thing.

  • Aura of courage means you are immune to fear—that’s great. At high levels, it will be a bit redundant—you’ll want to get immunity to all mind-affecting effects, which would also cover fear—but you’re a long way away from that. In the meantime, fear is common and it is bad, so not having to worry about it is great.

    • The lawful evil variant paladin of tyranny gets aura of despair instead of aura of courage. It’s awesome, because it lowers all of your enemies’ saving throws so long as they’re near you, but the problem is you have to be, ya know, near them. If you were going that route, I’d recommend eldritch glaive over eldritch blast.
  • Divine health means immunity to disease. Disease isn’t usually a big threat, but it’s nice to know that if it ever comes up, you won’t have to worry about it.

  • A good Fortitude save is nice enough, too—Fortitude is a rather-important saving throw, and three levels of paladin gives you +3 to it.

  • You get a bit more hp so that’s nice; not a lot, not thrilling, but nice.

  • Detect evil at will is nice enough, since sometimes you need to know. Remember that it’s not foolproof though.

Divine grace is amazing, aura of courage is very good, and the rest are certainly nice.

Everything else about the paladin doesn’t really matter, or isn’t available at 3rd level:

  • Martial weapon proficiency is unlikely to matter since you’ll attack with eldritch blast anyway.

  • Heavy armor proficiency doesn’t generally matter, because it usually causes a massive chance of arcane spell failure. Warlocks don’t have to worry about arcane spell failure on light armor, but heavy armor, ya know, isn’t light. There are things you can do to eliminate arcane spell failure, but just having proficiency isn’t good enough (and many of those things make proficiency not really matter).

  • Smite evil won’t matter much, even if you get ranged smite evil from a variant paladin (if you don’t, it’s completely useless). Adding your Charisma bonus to attack isn’t very important, since eldritch blast is a touch attack and therefore already very accurate. And because you’re only a 3rd-level paladin, so you only add +3 to the damage anyway. Even if you really wanted the accuracy or the damage was better, it still wouldn’t matter very much because you only get it once per day.

  • Lay on hands is just too small to matter much, and with only 3 paladin levels, you’ll have even less of it than a paladin would.

  • Paladins don’t get spellcasting until 4th level, so you won’t get any. If you did, it’s nice enough but not amazing, particularly since it’s Wisdom-based.

  • Paladins don’t get their special mount until 5th level, so you won’t get that either. If you did, it would be OK but not great unless you devoted a lot of attention to it.

If you are allowed, you would benefit massively from taking only two levels of paladin, and taking that third level in Tome of Magic’s binder. That’s because binders get access to Naberius, the Grinning Hound, who allows the binder to heal ability damage very quickly. This is extremely relevant to your plans to level as a hellfire warlock, because wielding hellfire means doing substantial ability damage to yourself, and Naberius is by-far the easiest way to heal it. In fact, even if required to stick to a single class, three levels of binder might be better than three levels of paladin—as good as divine grace is, and it’s amazing, for a hellfire warlock, it’s hard to overstate how potent having Naberius available is.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually have never thought of binder before. How would one heal ability damage using a naberius? I just read the tome of magic-Naberius section and still unsure how to use it to heal ability score ( is it a spell, summon, a check?) I might have to create a seperate post for it in order to get deeper understanding of binder and vestiges. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2020 at 19:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @UniQuadrion You should definitely read the soul binding ability in the binder class description, because it gives much more detail, but to answer your specific question, you get all of Naberius’s abilities when you bind him, and that particular ability is passive—you just heal 1 ability damage a round, every round. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 10, 2020 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It may be not terribly important, but yuo already discuss Paladin of Tyranny, and Warlock is unlikely to pick regular Paladin any way. So mentioning an aura of Paladin of Freedom is probably worth it, especially because it is even better then that of Courage. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2020 at 7:56

Charisma synergy for saving throws is the only significant benefit you would receive from 3 free levels of Paladin.

The Paladin's Divine Grace ability is very strong, and works well with a character who invests in Charisma to increase saving throw DCs, like a Warlock. However, most of the other things you've mentioned are either unavailable to you or their benefits are so small they're basically irrelevant:

  • Warlocks can't cast spells in heavy armor by default. The Paladin's proficiency in medium armor would allow you to wear mithral full plate, but this is only 3 AC better than a mithral breastplate, which your Warlock could wear even without Paladin proficiencies. Not a big enough difference to worry about
  • Paladins can't summon a mount until 5th level, so this isn't available to you.
  • The healing from Lay on Hands is based on your Paladin class level, so with only 3 levels it provides trivial amounts of healing.
  • Paladins don't gain the ability to cast spells until 4th level, so this isn't available to you.
  • The other bonuses you receive from Paladin (immunity to fear and disease, Smite Evil, Detect Evil) vary from nice-to-have to basically useless.

Overall, this is only moderately valuable to you. Saving throw bonuses are good, but that's essentially the only useful thing you're getting. In my opinion, it's not significantly better or worse than getting Evasion and 2d6 sneak attack from Rogue (note that Sneak Attack works with Eldritch Blast, as long as you meet the other requirements for triggering it).

If the Paladin levels aren't free, this is a bad deal.

The above section was written on the assumption that the three levels of Paladin are essentially free, as if you were getting three levels of gestalt progression but then returning to single-class progression at level 4, which is my understanding based on your comment.

However, if this isn't the case, taking a 3-level Paladin dip isn't worth it. You would much rather be a 6th level Warlock than a 3rd level Paladin/3rd level Warlock.

Paladin of Tyranny might be a better choice if it's allowed, but watch out for its code of conduct.

The SRD's variant character classes include an evil Paladin variant, the Paladin of Tyranny. In addition to the saving throw bonuses, this variant also receives an aura that lowers enemy saving throws. This is quite good for a Warlock, and would tip the balance toward Paladin being a good choice for your "subclass."

However, the Paladin of Tyranny has a code of conduct that makes it very difficult to play in an actual game (basically "be as tyrannical as possible 100% of the time"). If your DM chooses to allow this class, consider working with them to come up with a less ridiculous code of conduct that will allow you to play the class without ruining the game for everyone else.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aura of despair is a very good point. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 10, 2020 at 18:36

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