My friends and I are playing a 5e campaign. My other friend is the DM for the group. We have been playing for about a week (we're at level 5). All this time we've had a Paladin who is able to do more than 20 damage for a basic melee attack, thanks to his great weapon master feat. He was also given a magical greatsword.

He is practically killing bosses and even a hydra in 3 to 4 hits thanks to his divine smite. Me and DM are wondering if somehow his character is broken or if the DM isn't throwing challenging enough encounters for us.

He has almost died at times but he also has a magic armor that lets him use Shield once a day. So I'm just trying to help the DM out to figure out how to make the game challenging for our zealous paladin who basically plows right through everything.

Do you think its from all the magical weapons and armor he has? I'm not trying to sound jealous or anything (I'm a little jealous) but our DM is having trouble giving us tough encounters that last more than 10 minutes.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ At 5th level a Sorcerer with a reasonably optimized build the Witch Bolt spell can hit for 3d12+4 and then maintain 2d12+4 damage per subsequent round until the target dies. I have yet to encounter a combat situation where my character ran out of spell slots to cast this with before we ran out of opponents. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shadur, there are a lot of powerful 5th level builds, but I think I'm confused about how you'd achieve what you've described. Draconic Sorcerers only add Cha mods to elemental damage at level 6, and I don't know of any ability that would raise the number of dice rolled for the maintained damage of Witch Bolt (upcasting only adds to the initial damage). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gandalfmeansme The GM houseruled half spell level added as dice on the continuing roll \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well that's not a character build then, that's a homebrew... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


Resource Management during the Adventuring Day

As a class, the Paladin isn't overpowered. The Paladin does have a nice mix of weapon and spell skills to offer any party.


On page 84 of the DMG the adventuring day around which the game is balanced calls for 6-8 encounters of medium to hard difficulty, and 2 short rests. If your DM isn't running that much challenge, then the Paladin's resource management problem isn't being put to the test as the game balance intended it to.

A Paladin can do large bursts of damage, for sure. What he can't do is burst damage all day, every round, for that many encounters.

Melee Attacks Available

You mention that the Paladin is now 5th level. This is a threshold in melee damage increase thanks to having gained the second attack per melee round. The initial increase in apparent power should level off a bit as you increase levels and the DM increases the CR of the monsters you face.

He has almost died at times

If he's playing "high risk - high reward" style, over time the odds will catch up with him. It appears that the shield spell that goes with his armor is giving more chances to not get hit. He is thus able to play a higher risk combat style than he might otherwise. If it allows him to do two handed weapon attacks, and still benefit from a shield through magic, that's more powerful than a paladin who has to use a shield and a one handed weapon to handle the rigors of melee combat.

That combined with the great weapon master feat might be what's causing this perception of great power. It might also be the pace of your adventuring day.

Spells Available

Per Long Rest, at 5th level, he has 4 spell slots of 1st level spells and 2 of second.

If he doesn't have to concern himself with casting any other spells (this has to do with your party make up and who the other spell casters are) then the paladin can use divine smite six times per long rest. That's a nice pile of bursty damage during some fights.

Is that "overpowered?" If you only have a few encounters per day, it can look that way. This is an adventure design challenge for the DM to address, as you both suspect.

Encounter design is explained on pages 81 - 85 of the DMG. The proposed XP budget for encounters and the adventuring day is built around a party of 4 characters, and the challenge ratings that accompany that XP budget. (For a party of 5th level adventurers, that's 3500 XP per character per adventuring day, 14,000 XP worth of monsters). If the DM reviews that and compares it to the challenge he's been offering you, he may choose to ramp up the difficulty.

A character can only have one long rest in a 24 hour period [PHB, p186]. This serves to limit the power of abilities and spells.

FWIW: in our party, the Paladin is often either the hero or the goat. He who lives by the burst, dies by the burst. He has a +1 magic axe (just found, has not used in battle yet) and some +1 bit of dwarf light plate. He does not overpower the rest of the party but he can hold his own.

In a tweet Jeremy Crawford (lead rules designer) advised:

Q: Is divine smite supposed to be limited to once per turn? Can I use it three times with extra attack and DW?
A: The limit on Divine Smite is the number of spell slots you have available to spend on it.


As already mentioned, the Paladin will be overpowered if given too many opportunities for adequate rest without enough chances to to burn all of his Smites in between.

But there's also a lot of stuff the Paladin won't be able to handle. The Paladin excels at single big obvious targets that he can hit in melee, so why not mix it up and throw a horde of smaller enemies at the party? Or use stealth, traps and cunning to lure him to his doom (see Tucker's Kobolds)? Or throw in a few flying enemies that use ranged or breath attacks.

Basically, if the DM's monsters are really struggling to go toe to toe with him, why would the ones with any intelligence choose to go toe to toe with him?


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