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I'm going to be hitting level 4 soon on my Tiefling Oath of Vengeance Paladin with Soldier background. His stats currently are:

STR: 15 / DEX: 13/ CON: 13 / INT: 10 / WIS: 10 / CHA: 15 (we did the point buying system)

He uses a Sword + Shield and has Fighting Style: Dueling. I've been looking through some feats and was considering Alert, Charger, or Heavy Armor Master.

In particular I'm looking to have my character be able to dish out more damage, as I feel the rest of my party min/maxed a lot more than I had previously thought. I feel as though Heavy Armour Master would give me that extra strength and allow to take more damage, so as I can stay in combat longer and dish out more damage.

Would this feat be the best option? Or would it be more beneficial to take the stat boost?

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If you're looking to boost damage, the best way to do it is by boosting damage. To address your specific choices:

  • Alert will slightly boost your damage by letting you deal damage when you would normally be surprised.
  • Charger is mediocre at best before level 5, (which is one level away!), and just plain sucks afterwards. You have better things to do with your action and with your bonus action.
  • Heavy Armor Master will boost your damage significantly, since it will increase your Strength score to 16, giving you +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls. It will also help you survive, which, in the long run, will increase your damage a bit.

As you've probably noticed, there is not a lot of feat support for sword-and-board warriors. Most of the damage boosting options go to 2-handed builds. One option you didn't mention is Shield Master. It allows you to knock foes prone with your bonus action, which can help your attacks hit, thereby boosting your overall damage. But, to be perfectly honest, you're far better off getting your Strength score up to 16.

Given that getting your Strength score up to 16 is the best boost to your damage that you can give yourself right now, it's definitely a priority. So I would recommend either Heavy Armor Master, or just taking a stat increase and getting your Charisma to 16 as well as your Strength.

"Wait, what? How does boosting Charisma boost my damage?"

Well, it doesn't directly boost your damage. But neither does Heavy Armor Master. And while in the short-term, Heavy Armor Master will make you a lot tougher, as the game goes on 3 damage will become less and less significant, and more and more monsters will bypass Heavy Armor Master anyway.

On the other hand, Charisma helps with almost everything else you do - your spells, your Channel Divinity, and, from level 6 onward, all of your saving throws and all of the saving throws of any ally standing near you. Where Heavy Armor Master will get less and less important, this will get more and more important.

So, final recommendation: Either take Heavy Armor Master, or take the ability score increase and get both Strength and Charisma up to 16. They're both good options, and they'll both boost your damage roughly equally. The main difference is that Heavy Armor Master is much better in the short-term, and Charisma is much better in the long-term.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to confirm something. You said that "increase your Strength score to 16, giving you +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls". I wasn't aware that the Stat modifier also increases damage dealt by a weapon. Or am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$ – Francisco Jun 21 '16 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Weapon damage is 1dX + Ability Modifier (Str for melee, Dex for ranged weapons, either one for finesse). As your Str goes up, so does the number added to melee damage rolls. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jun 21 '16 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I cannot believe I had missed that. So if I'm reading this right, it's only for Ranged and Melee weapons. For any spells that deal damage they only deal the damage that is written in the spell description, correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Francisco Jun 21 '16 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Francisco Yep, that's correct. As always, there are specific exceptions, but in general, spells only do the damage they say they do. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 21 '16 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Francisco Miniman answered very well. I too had considered suggesting Shield Master, since you and your allies can benefit from attacks with advantage (and thus doing damage more often) due to the bonus action ... but as he'd already answered, I didn't see a need to duplicate his response. The advantage to taking Heavy Armor Master is that you'll have better odds at surviving into later levels thanks to the -3 DR for a few levels, and you'll accrue the +1 H/D for the added strength point. Your next ASI could add 1 to Con and 1 to CH if you survive that long. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 21 '16 at 17:01
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The most optimal choice is probably Ability Score Improvement +1 to both STR and CHA. Heavy Armor Master would be nice but is not as optimal as increasing CHA on a Paladin.

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