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I'm playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen with a group, and I play a Paladin with the following stats:

  • STR 18
  • DEX 13
  • CON 14
  • INT 12
  • WIS 15
  • CHA 17

So my stats are already kinda high.
When I get to level 4, I'll have a big decision to make for the first time on this character. It's also my first time playing D&D 5E. I'm considering either raising my CON by 2 to get more HP, or my CHA to improve my spells DC and all the other stuff that CHA brings as a pally, or even my STR to go up to 20. Or, pick a feat. The one I'm mostly attracted to is Great Weapon Master, the 5E version of the old "Cleave".

Our DM doesn't focus on combat a lot and when he does, we rarely use a grid so I'm questioning whether the feat will actually be more advantageous than the +2.

I'm also leaning towards picking feats, because it feels more roleplay-ish to me, adding new things my paladin can do.

I'm currently the main damage dealer/tank in the group, so survivability AND damage are very important, actually the most important. The thing is, the stat boost seems so vanilla to me.

So this gets us to my specific question: Is taking the feat just as advantageous for damage purposes, as opposed to taking the stat boost?


I'm 3rd level now. Took an Oath of Vengeance! And I already picked that style, for the reroll on a 1 or 2.

As for endgame, I want to be the tank/damage dealer master. I consider CON because I'm bad with dice and I don't like to rely on them for my hitpoints. And CHA is obvious, it's gonna boost almost everything for me... EXCEPT physical combat. Which is actually my focus.

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Based on simply damage output,

Pick Great Weapon Master

Assumptions before reaching 4th-level:

  • You hit 65% of the time (+6 bonus to Attack Rolls)
  • You are using a Greatsword (the best weapon to pick Great Weapon Fighting with)
  • Disregard critical hits
  • DPR is calculated as (%hit)(ave. weapon damage + str mod) or 65% x (8.33 + 4)

Currently, on a normal hit, you will do 8.0145 DPR, 10.82 DPR if made with Advantage (such as the effect of your Vow of Enmity).


If you pick Strength +2 at 4th-level,

Your attack bonus and damage rolls increase by 1, resulting to a DPR of 9.33 (70% x (8.33 + 5)), if with Advantage, 12.13.


If you pick Great Weapon Master,

Assuming you use the feat all the time, your attack bonus decreases by 5, and damage increases by 10, resulting in a DPR of 8.932 (40% x (8.33 + 4 + 10)). That's just slightly higher than what you started with.

However, when you have Advantage on the roll, your DPR increases to 14.29


TL;DR

On normal attacks, picking strength is slightly better than GWM. If made with Advantage, GWM is miles better.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is what I was looking for. Awesome, I'll pick the feat then. Thank you!!! \$\endgroup\$ – Ulrich Aug 15 '15 at 5:17
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If you want to increase your damage, you should take Great Weapon Master. Not because of its Cleave-like ability, but because of its Power Attack-like ability.

Boosting your Strength to 20 would increase your damage and attack rolls by 1.

Great Weapon Master will increase your damage by 10, as long as you're confident about landing attacks with a -5 to your attack rolls. There's also the possibility of getting bonus attacks when you kill or crit, but it's a much smaller benefit than the +10 damage.

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The Polearm Master feat could lead to a large spike in damage. Aside from the opportunity attacks it provokes(which might not be much of a factor since you say you rarely use a grid),it will also allow you to use a bonus action to make an additional attack using a d4. While this doesn't sound like too much of a boon, consider that this is another chance to pump a divine smite into your opponent. Since you say that your DM isn't hugely combat focused, you can probably get away with burning through spell slots quickly.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Something to know about this site: Each answer has to stand on its own. Answers that sound like they're the next post in a thread tend to attract downvotes. What you say is basically correct, but you start by referencing other answers, and you also don't address that it may be difficult to provoke AoOs when they "rarely use a grid". Improving those two points would make this a better answer. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Dec 31 '17 at 9:31

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