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This is my first time playing a Paladin. He just reached Level 3 and I am torn between all the Sacred Oaths. They all seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. I use the Great Weapon fighting style, but have no feats.

What I would like to know, is which one does the most damage of any kind?

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None of the Oaths really do more damage than the others as such. The only Oath feature that directly impacts your damage is the Oath of Devotion's level 20 ability, Holy Nimbus - it deals 10 radiant damage to any enemies within 60 feet of you. So, to answer your question directly, Oath of Devotion does the most damage.

This is, obviously, a fairly ingenuous answer. The real answer is that you can't look purely for damage.

For example, both the Devotion and Vengeance Oaths have features that increase the accuracy of your attacks, which in the long-term, will increase your damage.

On the other hand, the Oath of the Ancients has an ability that makes you and your allies much tankier and harder to kill. How does that boost damage? Well, you can't deal damage if you're dead, so anything that keeps you alive is also indirectly boosting your damage.

Then there's things like spells. The Oath of Vengeance gives you access to hunter's mark, which potentially lets you add 1d6 damage to every attack you make. But in practice, it's not quite so simple - it requires concentration, and you also have to move it around to make sure it's on the enemy you're attacking. And, obviously, it requires you to make a lot of attacks to maximize the damage it gives.

As a counterexample, the Oath of the Crown gives access to spirit guardians, which deals damage to enemies who come near you - under the right circumstances, this will vastly outdamage hunter's mark. But in the wrong circumstances, it might be completely useless.

So, in the end, there's no easy answer - you'll have to look at all the Oaths and determine which one you think will work best for you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also quite dependant on party composition. \$\endgroup\$ – Sent_ Jul 22 '16 at 7:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sent_ Yep, and what enemies you fight, and a hundred other factors we have no way to know - there's just no objective "best" here. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 22 '16 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your reply! The others include a Ranger and a Bard. We're playing, "Fishing For Gods In Strade's Gallows". Terrain is Woods, Forests, Marshes and Swamps. Enemies include Humanoids (Half-Elfs, Halflings, Half-Orcs, Goblins and Humans), Aberrations and Feys of Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil, Neutral Evil, Lawful Evil and Chaotic Good Alignments. Does that help narrow it down a bit? I understand what you mean about there being no certain best, as 5th Edition is fairly balanced with equally good options. That's why I'm having this dilemma in the first place. @Sent_ \$\endgroup\$ – Shaheer Jul 22 '16 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shaheer It's not really a case of narrowing it down - none of that makes any difference as far as damage is concerned. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 22 '16 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shaheer Those are the enemies you are fighting right now. Recommendations that optimize against those enemies might suddenly backfire against the enemies you encounter a few levels from now. What you need is what the answer says - things that improve the overall effectiveness. Greater chance to hit, bonus damage when you hit, more attacks overall, etc. What you and your group need specifically is dependent on how that group works as a whole, and analysing that simply has too many variables for us to provide an effective answer. \$\endgroup\$ – tzxAzrael Jul 22 '16 at 14:03
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As stated, there is no easy answer to this. For example, a Wizard can make a hard encounter an easy one without throwing a single fireball. That is much more impactful that just raw damage.

BUT

If what you want is to feel powerful in terms of doing damage, I would say that the Oath of Vengeance paired with Polearm Master feat and Hunter's Mark is a good start for a melee oriented Paladin. At level 5 you will have 2 attacks first round to a new enemy with an 1d6 extra per attack that hits (your bonus action is used to cast/re-position Hunter's Mark), and 3 attacks afterwards. And, as a bonus on though fights, you have 3 attacks to apply Divine Smite and Improve Divine Smite. Even if you lose the concentration of Hunter's Mark, you still have the bonus attacks.

Pole Mastery

When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, or quarterstaff, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is a d4, and the attack deals bludgeoning damage.

For a caster-ish Paladin, Oath of the Ancient is also very good. A well placed Moon Beam can control the battlefield and/or decimate enemies. And, if you have a good charisma or plan to have it (and don't want to multi-class), take Magic Initiate Warlock feat with Hex as the level 1 spell and Eldritch Blast as one of the cantrips. This option gives you a great range attack option, something that the paladin kind of lacks, and Hex for though fights.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your reply! I will definitely compare these two closely and make a decision. Both are great choices! \$\endgroup\$ – Shaheer Jul 24 '16 at 5:55

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