According to the online basic rules, the options listed for the paladin's Fighting Style feature are:

  • Defense (AC bonus with armour)
  • Dueling (damage bonus with a single one-handed weapon)
  • Great Weapon Fighting (damage reroll for two-handed/versatile weapons), and
  • Protection (use your shield to protect others).

Is this an exhaustive list of Fighting Styles available to paladins? Or am I allowed to take a fighting style offered to fighters or rangers?

My paladin wields two shortswords, but none of the styles reward dual-wielding, so I'm forced to take Defense. It's certainly not bad, but I'd rather have the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style so that my Strength modifier is added to the damage roll of my bonus-action attack from Two-Weapon Fighting.

Alternatively, could I say I'm normally wielding one shortsword and so use Dueling, and then draw & attack with the second for my bonus action? This would only add +2 to my damage roll rather than adding my Str mod, but it's better than nothing...

  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact that the rules for Fighter say Choose Champion, Battle Master, or Eldritch Knight, all detailed at the end of the class description for the Martial Archetype, but then only detail Champion, has me wondering what else has been missed off... \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Where does your confusion about "Choose Champion, Battle Master, or Eldritch Knight" stem from? This description is for the fighter subclasses, whereas your question is about Paladins. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re that confusion, you may have interest of this question: Missing Class and Race options in 5th edition SRD? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oath of Redemption is part of the Xanathar's Guide to Everything so any site which hosts it outside of a paywall is piracy (we ask you not to link to it, not encourage others from visiting such sites). D&D beyond (as an officially licenced site) does not provide the material, but lists them in many contexts and you can buy legal, digital copies on that site. (I believe roll20 and fantasy grounds (?) also has such licences, but don't know how complete they are) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil: Indeed. Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds do both sell Xanathar's Guide to Everything. I know Roll20's still missing some other 5e books (like the DMG), so Fantasy Grounds may be missing some as well (though it seems to have the DMG). Roll20 only recently added the Out of the Abyss adventure to their marketplace. (DDB does seem to have every officially published D&D 5e book, plus the "official" digital supplements.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 22:28

3 Answers 3


No, Paladins cannot get the Two-Weapon-Fighting Fighting Style. The list in their class description is exhaustive.

This is apparent from the feature's description (emphasis mine):

At 2nd level, you adopt a style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can't take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.

If you were supposed to choose from all fighting styles, then there would likely be a separate list in the PHB that isn't part of a class description. However, each class that has access to Fighting Styles lists its own selection of Fighting Styles - this is not a coincidence.

Fighters can choose from among all fighting styles, as fighting is literally in their name. They're designed to be viable for any kind of nonmagical combat - regardless of whether it's melee or ranged, and how you want to fight - well-armored, agile, two-handed, with a giant greataxe, etc.

Rangers, on the other hand, focus on dexterous combat, and especially ranged combat (duh). Their available Fighting Styles reflect this.

Barbarians are a dedicated melee class, but since their "theme" is rage-smashing stuff instead of elaborate fighting skills, they don't gain a Fighting Styles, but other features instead.

Paladins, lastly, are historically* chivalrous, honorable defenders of good / destroyers of evil that are usually portrayed as melee combatants that gain access to a few spells. Their Fighting Styles reflect this similar to the Ranger, except their "theme" is not about dexterous two-weapon-fighting or archery - hence they don't get access to the respective Fighting Styles.

* in 5th edition, this isn't as strict anymore - previous editions had alignment restrictions on classes and the like, but 5e is a lot more open in many ways. Instead of always being the classic lawful good idealist, Paladins can also be evil; see this question, for instance. What stayed the same is that they are supposed to adhere to a strict code of some kind, and follow its principles.

That being said, while the explanation above reflects the RAW and RAI (rules as written/intended), you can always ask your DM if he can make an exception here, allowing you to pick a different fighting style for your Paladin. Mechanically, it shouldn't be an issue.

Other than that, there are also RAW-legal ways to gain access to non-Paladin-native fighting styles as a Paladin, which mostly (or all, I'm not sure) require multiclassing, as detailed in Someone_Evil's answer

  • \$\begingroup\$ With regard to last your description about paladins being chivalrous, honorable defenders of good is not 100% correct. 5e paladins are different and can be much more varied in how they approach their oaths. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch you're correct. Nevertheless, that's the classic image of Paladins, which I presume largely influenced the classes' design. Perhaps "opposer of evil" would be more accurate, as it encompasses the Oath of Vengeance and the Oath of Redemption as well. The Oath of Conquest still doesn't quite fit the bill, but then again, they're not the classic Paladin ("Some of these paladins go so far as to consort with the powers of the Nine Hells, valuing the rule of law over the balm of mercy", XGtE, p. 37) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's your answer, but I think confusing earlier edition paladins with 5e doesn't really help folks unfamiliar with the 5e paladin or in separating previous edition lore that is no longer evident in 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I added a paragraph elaborating on the issue the way I interpret Paladins in 5e. Feel free to edit the note if you think something is missing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to confirm your last sentence, multiclassing is indeed the only RAW way (without house-ruling) for a paladin to gain access to the other fighting styles. (Note: Some sites that rehost non-SRD content confusingly mix it with unmarked homebrew, and erroneously list the Weapon Master feat as granting a fighting style, even though the official version of the feat does not do so. See this Q&A: Does the Weapon Master feat grant you a fighting style? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 22:34

Rules as written, the list of Fighting Styles is exhaustive for Paladins, and does not include Two-Weapon Fighting

Specifically, the Fighting Style feature paladins get says "Choose one of the following options." which means the options the Paladin can get is the ones listed there.

If you want to get the Two-weapon fighting style you can take one level or Fighter or Two levels of Ranger (assuming your campaign uses the multiclassing optional rules) or ask your DM. Which styles are available to which class is mostly a matter thematics (eg. Paladinic characters aren't typically imagined wielding two light weapons), swapping out shouldn't be a big deal, but it's on your DM to allow that.


The list is exhaustive. So is the list of sub-classes, even though the basic rules / SRD doesn't detail all of them. (Other material has even more subclass options that aren't even mentioned in the player's handbook.)

Unearthed Arcana even has some new fighting-style options, including a Paladin-specific one (Blessed Warrior) that gives you two Cleric cantrips. But it doesn't give paladins existing Fighting Style options that were previously restricted to other classes.

Paladins don't get Two-Weapon Fighting.

Would it be balanced for Paladins to get TWF? Arguably no, especially at high level

Other answers suggest that it wouldn't be an issue for class balance for a DM to let a Paladin choose TWF. That's certainly not clear; Paladins do a lot of damage with Divine Smite, and one more attack per round is a big deal. Especially at 11th level for Improved Divine Smite (+1d8 radiant on every melee weapon hit, without spending a spell slot). Improved DS would make two weapon fighting much stronger than it would be for other classes, relative to other fighting styles.

(Without the fighting style, not adding a stat modifier to damage rolls with the off-hand weapon makes it probably not worth it to use two weapons instead of a higher-damage two-handed weapon, or sword+board as a defensive option.)

Also, one bonus-action attack per turn lets you dump your spell slots into Divine Smites significantly faster for much higher burst damage. From lvl 2 through 4 (without Extra Attack), you can smite twice as fast on average. At low level it doesn't take many smites to empty the tank, but a single combat often lasts very few rounds.

Extra chances to crit are also important: you're fishing for crits to get double the benefit from any spell slot you do spend. You typically save your higher-level spell slots for crits, and might not smite at all on some regular hits. Having more total crits lets you be more selective.

And more total hits lets you be more selective earlier; you know you'll be able to dump several spell slots quickly on non-crits later in the fight if you still have lots left. So there's slightly less pressure to Smite early just for total damage output. (Well-designed fights aren't single target dummies, though, so you often want to Smite early to finish off some extra enemy before it does another round of bad stuff, or whatever other fight-specific reason).

A Paladin can of course get these benefits by dipping into 1 level of Fighter (or two for Action Surge as well), so it's not game-breaking, but multi-classing has a significant opportunity cost of being behind in your Paladin levels. (And never being able to get to your level 20 capstone ability, e.g. Devotion paladin Holy Nimbus looks amazing: 10 radiant damage AoE every round for a minute in a 30 ft radius, damaging only enemies, plus other benefits, once per long rest.)

These benefits of a bonus-action attack are somewhat balanced by the action economy of casting bonus action spells. There are several Xyz Smite spells that buff your next hit with damage (and often a status effect), like Branding Smite. For pure damage output, you'd cast one of those, attack, and use another spell slot or two to Divine Smite if your attack(s) hit. That means you're limited to taking the Attack action (with Extra Attack), not also doing a bonus action off-hand attack.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think dishing out as many smites as possible as fast as possible is such a big deal; Paladins don't get that many spell slots anyways, and they are also going to want to use them for spells. The aura and smite spells that they gain are often quite powerful, and the smite spells only trigger once, i.e. multiple attacks don't grant benefits here. Sure, spells like Crusader's Mantle or Elemental Weapon benefit from more attacks, and more attacks increase the chance of hitting at all (i.e. giving you chances to smite). [to be continued] \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Still, I don't think these benefits outweigh the benefits gained from other Fighting Styles, especially Defense; Paladins are not tanks the way Barbarians are, they can't tank as much with HP, but rather have to tank with their AC. And considering they typically wear heavy armor, they can get up to 21 AC with Plate Armor, a Shield and the Defense fighting style, even without magical items. Bear in mind that in these AC ranges, every AC more is significant - plus one AC doesn't just reduce your chance to be hit by 5%, it reduces it far more. [to be continued] \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 10:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ For example, an opponent with +8 to hit can hit the AC 18 paladin (two-weapon fighting, i.e. neither shield nor Defense fighting style) with a roll of 10 or higher, i.e. a 55% chance. Versus AC 21, this drops to 40% chance (13 or higher). Relatively speaking, this means he's roughly 30% less likely to hit you - that is very significant. And the lower the opponent's to-hit-bonus, the greater the benefit: with a +5 to hit, it's 40% vs 25%, or almost 40% less likely to be hit. If you get magic items, such as a Cloak of Protection or a Shield +1 (both just uncommon!), you get close to unhittable \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 10:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster: Agreed you don't normally want to dump all your spell slots into smite as fast as possible. So probably my point about fishing for crits is more relevant, to get more out of the spell slots you do spend. And yes, the opportunity cost in defense (rather than other offence options) is certainly an important tradeoff when considering TWF. But for those consider it, we should weigh it up against other straight-damage options like dueling or Greatweapon. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 10:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster: Casting Xyz Smite spells is a way to dump spell slots into damage faster, with less straight damage per spell level than Divine Smite (but with status effects), very similar to making an attack with a bonus action and using Divine Smite on that. If you cast Branding Smite for example, it doesn't matter whether that bonus damage is added to a greatsword hit or to a shortsword hit, it's still an extra 2d6. And you can also Divine Smite on that same hit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 10:21

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