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I am planning on playing an Oath of Conquest paladin, and I really want to capitalize on the Aura of Conquest feature (XGtE, p. 38):

Starting at 7th level, you constantly emanate a menacing aura while you're not incapacitated. The aura extends 10 feet from you in every direction, but not through total cover.

If a creature is frightened of you, it's speed is reduced to 0 while in that aura, and that creature takes psychic damage equal to half your paladin level if it starts it's turn there.

At 18th level, the range of this aura extends to 30 feet.

Besides my Conquering Presence Channel Divinity option and spells I have access to, are there any other ways I can frighten creatures?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for magic items? Or interested in multiclassing? Or is anything and everything on the table? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 16 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Anything and Everything. As long as that is not too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – Deus Apr 16 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't think it is! Just making sure you get relevant answers :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 16 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking for ways that a Conquest paladin specifically can frighten an enemy, or ways that any character can frighten an enemy? Is multiclassing allowed? Feats? Any other restrictions (e.g. allowed sources)? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 18 at 2:43
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Fear-causing magical items

Besides casting spells yourself and the Conquest paladin's Conquering Presence feature, the most obvious option available to you is to avail yourself of the great number of magical items and artefacts which can cast spells that cause creatures to become frightened of you or otherwise have magical properties capable of inflicting the frightened condition. A surely non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Belashyrra’s Beholder Crown (E:RftLW, p. 276): spend 3 charges to cast fear
  • The Bloody End (EGtW, p. 278): intelligent weapon can be used to cast fear once per day and, if upgraded, once a day frighten creatures with 15 feet on a kill
  • Mace of Disruption: fiends and undead reduced to 25 hp or less and not immediately destroyed become frightened
  • Mace of Terror: spend a charge to unleash a 30-foot wave of terror
  • Pipes of Haunting: spend one charge to play an eerie tune that frightens creatures within 30 feet
  • Ring of Animal Influence: spend one charge to cast fear (only affecting beasts with intelligence score of 3 or less)
  • Rod of Lordly Might: once a day, frighten all creatures you can see within 30 feet
  • Shield of the Hidden Lord (BG:DiA, p. 225): intelligent shield can emit an aura of dread for a minute that frightens creatures within 20 feet, once a day
  • Wand of Fear: spend two charges to emit a 60-foot cone of fear (very similar but not identical to the fear spell)
  • Will of the Talon (EGtW, p. 279): intelligent weapon can emit a Frightful Presence once a day, frightening enemies within 30 feet

The Dragon Fear racial feat (for dragonborn)

Dragonborn characters using the optional Feat rules may take the Dragon Fear feat, from Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 74), which allows the dragonborn to expend a use of their breath weapon to instead roar and frighten enemies within 30 feet.

The Fallen Aasimar's Necrotic Shroud

From 3rd level, a fallen aasimar (Volo's Guide to Monsters, p. 105) may use their Necrotic Shroud ability to transform, which may frighten enemies within 10 feet for a turn.

The Leonin's Daunting Roar

A leonin (Mythic Odysseys of Theros, p. 20) may use their Daunting Roar to frighten creatures within 10 feet of them for a turn.

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Multiclassing

There are a few class features which allow you to frighten enemies.

  • Path of the Berserker Barbarian, Intimidating Presence: 10th level. Use your actions to frighten a creature within 30 feet.

  • College of Whispers Bard, Words of Terror: 3rd level. Make one creature frightened of a creature of your choice for 1 hour or until attacked/damaged. An allied bard can use this ability on your behalf.

  • Battlemaster Fighter, Maneuver, Menacing Attack: 3rd level. When you hit a creature you can make them frightened.

  • Way of the Long Death Monk, Hour of Reaping: 6th level. Frighten all creatures within 30ft.

  • Oath of Vengeance Paladin, Channel Divinity: Abjure Enemy: 3rd level. Make one creature frightened and have 0 speed for 1 minute or until it takes damage. (You can't use this because you can't multiclass into a second Paladin Oath, but I mention it for completeness.)

  • Oath of Vengeance Paladin, Avenging Angel: 20th level. Create a 30ft aura which makes creatures frightened until they get damaged, and you get advantage to hit them. (Again, listed only for completeness.)

  • Oath of Conquest Paladin, Channel Divinity: Conquering Presence: 3rd level. Create 30ft radius aura of fear. (You already have this one.)

  • Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer, Draconic Presence: 18th level (too high to be useful to you, but I mention it for completeness). Create a 60ft radius aura of fear.

  • Warlock of the Archfey, Fey Presence: 1st level. Frighten creatures in a 10ft cube.

  • Warlock of the Archfey, Dark Delerium: 14th level (also too high for you). Frighten one creature within 60ft and send them into an illusory realm where they can only see you until they take damage or for one minute.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great list; perhaps a note that the rules do not allow a Conquest Paladin to multiclass into Vengeance should be added at the bottom. \$\endgroup\$ – Davo Apr 17 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Include "Way of the Long Death Monk, Hour of Reaping: 6th level. Each creature within 30 feet of you that can see you must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you until the end of your next turn" \$\endgroup\$ – Cireo Apr 17 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Davo I knew that, hence why I said they can't use it, but I have now clarified that it can't be used due to multiclassing restrictions. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast Apr 18 at 3:26
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Use actual danger to frighten them, no magic required

When you use a spell or succeed on an intimidation roll, you can frighten a person. This does not mean that if you want to frighten a person, your only option is an intimidation roll or a spell.

Other things can also induce fear (in normal people) - for example, a fire, a venomous spider, an earthquake.

A rigid interpretation of the rules suggests that people in D&D worlds are physiologically immune to all fear unless a direct intimidation roll is made or a saving throw is forced via some kind of effect. In this rules-heavy interpretation, 7 foot tall barbarian with a massive greatsword covered in warpaint and shrunken heads around his belt might have a minus to intimidation due to his stats.

However, if the threat of being disembowled by Gorgoth the Gut Spreader is real, then a normal person will be afraid of making him angry. And when he is angry, a normal person will feel fear, because fear is a physiological response.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer should probably come with a "work with your DM" caveat. For some DMs, the stats on the page override any description you might have- Gorgoth the Gut Spreader might be a 7 foot tall barbarian, but the fact that he has a -1 to intimidation suggests that he is not actually that scary. Maybe he stutters over his words when he threatens people, or his voice cracks when he yells. (And if you don't like that, well, should've taken proficiency in Intimidation.) This answer will work for some playstyles and will flop for others. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcosa Apr 17 at 0:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, note that the question asks for other ways to frighten a creature, and doesn't mention intimidation. \$\endgroup\$ – speciesUnknown Apr 17 at 1:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The premise of a "normal person will be afraid" works for maybe RP situations in town, if you expect the innkeeper to overlook damage to the chairs and tables due to last night. However, most combat situations involving PCs are not going to involve "normal people". To Mondo the hill giant, Gorgoth the Gut Spreader might only seem a bit feisty for a snack. The OP is going to need rules backup to get the frightened condition applied to D&D enemies in most games. Allowing extensions is fine - the answer however could do with some suggested rulings that would work for OP in combat situations. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Apr 17 at 7:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will point out that, if you do rule in this direction, the Aura of Conquest automatically inflicts psychic damage to any creature within the aura that is frightened of the paladin, and the paladin cannot turn it off - so if he is sufficiently intimidating as to cause fear in a normal person on sight, he basically automatically murders peasants just by being nearby. (In context, I think it's clear that the aura is meant to apply to those suffering the frightened condition, and that a creature can be narratively afraid of someone without being mechanically frightened.) \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Apr 17 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Feeling fear in the pit of your stomach is a physiological response, but having disadvantage and being physically unable to move closer to the source of fear is not. I might feel a pang of fear when I see a spider, but it doesn't make me "frightened" in the D&D sense unless it has further reaching effects that affect my ability to actually do things. \$\endgroup\$ – Nuclear Hoagie Apr 17 at 17:20
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Ask your DM if you can use the "Intimidation" skill

Intimidation is normally used in game for extracting information from enemies, or persuading them to do something for you by force of personality.

It's a skill that Paladins can have proficiency in at character creation, it's charisma-based, and it's meant to strike fear into your foe's hearts — you could ask a DM if they could work out a way for you to use it mechanically to create a "frightened" condition in foes.

Be careful with how you approach this though — "Frightened" is an actual D&D condition with in-game effects (creatures have disadvantage on ability and attack checks when you're in sight of them, and they cannot willingly move closer to you) so being able to cause this condition with an ability check is a significant benefit in itself.

If a DM does implement this, they would most likely set the DC for a successful check based on circumstances, or choose a skill or saving throw for enemies to make against your skill check. They may also impose advantage/disadvantage under certain circumstances.

Also remember that any agreement you come to with a DM will be a house-rule, which won't carry over to any other games you play unless that DM agrees as well (and also won't be usable in any official Adventurers League groups).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd note by default the DM sets the DC for any ability check and decides whether advantage and/or disadvantage apply, based on all the circumstances which apply at the moment. If there's a healthy trust between DM and player, that could help with this technique being balanced but not overpowered. More exact house rules like "attempting to frighten a creature non-magically always uses your Charisma (Intimidate) opposed by the target's Wisdom (Insight)" might back the DM into results that make less sense. \$\endgroup\$ – aschepler Apr 18 at 11:28
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Roleplay is the key

Having the intimidation skill is a mere start. Try to create a situation that will make you terrifying to your foes. Show them that you're a badass good-doer and you know it.

  • Use decorum : a shiny armor, the emblem of your divinity on your shield, etc can help you impress your opponents.

  • Use tactics : being charged on the flank by a mounted paladin blowing a horn is frightening and might disband your opponents.

  • Know your enemies : your enemies might have superstitions that you could use against them. Investigate before you go to a fight.

  • Build a reputation : e.g. if your opponents are orcs you can spread the rumor that your magical sword is a legendary orc-bane weapon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand why this was voted down. In all the games I've been in, role-playing what how to be frightening. Of course, I tend to play in games where role-playing is more encourages, like GURPS. \$\endgroup\$ – NomadMaker Apr 19 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know: How can I frighten my enemies besides using spells? I like your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NomadMaker Apr 19 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect it's probably because there's a distinction between being narratively frightened and being mechanically frightened that this answer doesn't really address- your enemies might be scared of you without actually having the frightened condition, which has distinct mechanical effects. (Consider: It would certainly be bad sportsmanship to claim your PCs are frightened just because they're facing a big scary monster, even if they express that their characters are narratively scared.) I do like your third point, however- exploiting specific enemy weaknesses is usually worth rewarding. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcosa Apr 20 at 4:17

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