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    Default Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages! Fiends, celestials and eldritch abominations too!

    Because, you know, 5e has no more Outsiders...

    First and foremost: the tables will be fixed. In time. I am aware of that.

    Second: if you've been observant, you'll notice I've been hanging quite a bit on the D&D 5e forums. As with many other fans, I've tested the 5e rules, and as a fraction less than the whole of D&D fandom but still considerable enough, I give it my seal of approval. It will be a nice addition to my concurrent homebrewed 3.5 campaign, as long as I have the money to get at least the PHB (I can survive with the Basic Rules monsters, so far). And, as usual, I've gravitated to my favorite class of all time, the Paladin.

    So far, I like what I see, but digging deeper, I noticed some things went kinda wrong. I love Aura of Protection; I think that ability alone can redeem the Paladin. It's fairly good at what it does, and the fact that it has 5th level spells is rightfully hilarious (the fact that the Bard has 9th level spells, on the other hand, doesn't.) Imp. Divine Smite, much like the Pathfinder's mark, isn't really a smite but a damage multiplier, but I can safely say that Divine Smite FEELS like a rightful smite: sudden, unexpected and painful. Likewise, the focus on auras is great: between Aura of Courage now granting wide-area immunity to frightened and the, again, uber-awesome Aura of Protection, the Paladin carved its own niche without being a Fighter/Cleric build badly done. The Oaths are a nice touch, and add different ways to play a Paladin (I'm flabbergasted by the Oath of the Ancients; it feels a bit TOO powerful for my taste, but Aura of Warding feels so warm and cozy I forgive it forever).

    So, you may ask: what's wrong if you're praising the Paladin? Well, for starters...Divine Smite requires spending valuable and precious spell slots, so chances are you'll run out of spells really fast. Paladins always get Channel Divinity through their Oaths, but only one use per short rest (if you never make a short rest, then you get it only 1/day, which is bad). They have proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saves, when they were traditionally good with Fortitude (aka, Constitution) saves, which hurts when in one of the playtests they HAD that proficiency (I would give Wisdom save proficiency with Constitution save proficiency on a heartbeat; they lost it because they're a caster class and they don't want caster classes easy access to good Con saves for Concentration, even if the Paladin is a frickin' front-liner class!!!) So far, those seem fair concerns, but...it doesn't explain why I'm posting this small analysis of the class in Homebrew Design, no?

    Well, I'll say it with an angry-tone question.

    WHERE IN HEAVENLY TARNATION IS MY SHIELD OTHER SPELL, WIZARDS OF THE COAST!?

    Yes, my dear friends! A spell I consider paramount to the very feel of Paladins was removed from them! This is probably the one thing that makes me lose my sleep, since the spell still exists but it's not part of the core Paladin spell list. Now, let's face it: Shield Other is a pretty recent spell, but it works by taking part of the damage for an ally. Who do you want to take the damage: the tank, or the healer? If the answer is "the tank", then ask yourself why what's potentially the singlemost powerful tanking spell is given to the healer rather than to the tank with divine spellcasting... Shield Other (or as it is known now, Warding Bond) is a magnificent tool to ease the tank's task by not being forced to move between two or three squishies, and remaining where you should be.

    Thus, I am on sworn duty to fix this. And, what better way than...through homebrew?

    Therefore, this is an experiment on how to work with 5e homebrew, at least before the Dungeon Master's Guide appears. I figure that the easiest way to deal with homebrew is to work new subclasses, so the easiest way to add Warding Bond is through the Paladin's Sacred Oath. Thus, I figured what would be a good oath that would allow it, but ALL the good names were taken. Aura of Protection? The AoE Divine Grace. Aura of Devotion? Well, it's part of the Oath of Devotion and a blatant theft of PF Paladin's Aura of Resolve an original, never before seen ability. So...Aura of Warding...wait, that's taken by the Oath of the Ancients! I ended up with two options: the Oath of the Guardian, or the Oath of the Martyr, since both would be willing to harbor such spell. It so happens that Martyrdom isn't represented thus far, and is a definite Oath a Paladin would take, so I made some quick work.

    Filling the Oath with abilities was daunting, but I ended up with a realization: this Oath is a perfect way to add more healing and tanking potential to a Paladin, which already has superb survival abilities and more than enough damage to compensate. The Oath of Devotion is focused on being a guardian of sorts, but not the kind of guardian such as, say, the Defender of Sealtiel or the Dwarven Defender, but one devoted to facing evil and protecting others from it. The Oath of Martyrdom is different; it requires some degree of pacifism, but most importantly, it requires you to be GOOD, as you see it (bolded with capital letters).

    So, without further ado, my first attempt at 5e homebrew. Hopefully I can eventually send it to WotC whenever they reveal their process of sending homebrew design and pray to see it on any of the splats, or at least given a nice blessing from the devs. That'd be awesome, no?

    UPDATE: Turned Stigmata into a Channel Divinity option, added a new 15th level ability and nerfed Ultimate Sacrifice a bit.

    OATH OF MARTYRDOM

    The Oath of Martyrdom is perhaps the most selfless of all oaths: to protect and serve, to the death if necessary. They are almost universally known as martyrs, though some also call them sacred defenders, hospitalers or comforters. A paladin swearing an Oath of Martyrdom is not a death-seeker; quite the contrary, it holds life at the highest value, to the extent of being willing to sacrifice something so priceless for something of even greater worth. Their adornments reflect their choice in life: red and purple colors representing blood and penitence (respectively), and sometimes the relic of another holy martyr to remind the paladin of its Oath. Perhaps the best known example of paladins who follow the Oath of Martyrdom are the followers of Ilmater, the Bloodied God of the Faerunian pantheon, the grand exemplar of the tenets of the oath.

    TENETS OF MARTYRDOM
    Contrary to other oaths, paladins following the Oath of Martyrdom generally follow all tenets related to it. The tenets of this Oath involve, at their core, understanding and being a witness to said understanding; the importance of understanding the true value of sacrifice, why endure pain and suffering for the sake of others, and the importance of life. Paladins upholding these tenets must be willing to give even their lives for the good-will of others, so all of them are universally good: few, if any, are neutral. The essential principles of the Oath are as such:
    Life is Sacred and Invaluable. I will not take the life of another if I can help it; if I must do so, I will respect it to the very end.
    End the Suffering of Others. Pain and suffering are enemies of the sanctity of life. I must do all that I can to end pain and suffering, to the extent that I can.
    Ease the Suffering of Others. If I cannot end with suffering no matter what I try, I will partake willingly of their suffering to bear witness of a better tomorrow.
    Death is the Ultimate Sacrifice. If I must give my sacred, priceless life, it shall be for something greater. I will not give my life for any less.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Fluff
    Show
    Working the tenets is definitely the hardest thing to do. The tenets often range between 4-6 (a minimum of 4, thus far) and involve one or two sentences worth of fluff. Defining the key tenets of Martyrdom was difficult, particularly so it would fit with the fluff.

    The first tenet doesn't really force pacifism, but encourages it. This was pretty hard to work, because it's hard to reconcile the "sanctity of life" with the life of a typical adventurer. If a kobold attacks you, you shouldn't force your allies to take wounds (so that you can take them afterwards) just because they're weak. Nor is it valid to be a hypocrite about respecting life. This tenet, I expect, will be very hard to play, since it involves suffering a little bit each time you kill someone because you could have done something better. Given the overwhelming nature of a martyr, this is expected. That said, a Martyr Paladin will seek to deal the least amount of suffering (too bad there's nonlethal damage) and accept surrender whenever possible. A Martyr Paladin is quite willing to lay the smackdown on those who cause suffering, though...

    ...which leads to tenet #2. Ending the suffering of others is a daunting task. Yet, you fight to do that. Between respecting the life of someone and ending the suffering of many more, you usually incline towards the latter. In a way, tenet 2 surpasses tenet 1. Think of it this way: life is invaluable, but someone who's willing to hurt others for no reason whatsoever are casting away that value. If you harm someone to protect another, you can't violate these two tenets if only because your act conducts to both tenets. It does lead to a realization: a Martyr will rarely draw its blade, preferring to take the wound for others. If you're wounded, though, the attacker just forfeited his life. In short: you're not a perfect pacifist, but you espouse the idea of self-defense very clearly.

    The third tenet is a balm to the harshness of the earlier two. You can't expect to end the suffering of everyone forever. You do the best you can, but you're not perfect. However, you're nonetheless duty-bound to try your best, and if you can't end it, at least ease the suffering. Mend the wounds of others, give them hope, stand for the rights of the downtrodden... Even just giving your food to the hungry masses is a good start. Each time you ease the suffering of others, you help to end suffering forever. Or so you think: this is why it's so necessary to have the third tenet, because it completes and complements the first two.

    The last tenet is what you expect to hear from a Martyr. It means something, though: you're not gonna give your life for something without worth. Think of your character's life as a bargaining chip, one that's effectively a blank check. When you give your life, you're placing worth on something invaluable. You won't give your life for something as simple as a coin, no? You give your life for what you consider is of equal or greater value. If, by sacrificing your own life, you can save the life of another, the debt is paid. If, by sacrificing your own life, you save the life of millions, then the debt is paid by a million times. If, by sacrificing your life, you inspire someone else to take your mantle, you still paid your debt. This is merely to make you think just how valuable life is, and how futile it'd be to waste it because you don't want to hurt the Ancient Red Dragon laying waste to the land and causing undue suffering.

    As you may notice, this is of a pretty rantish nature, but it's the line of thought I followed when working with these tenets. You're free to help refine them, since the idea is to make solid tenets that don't ruin the experience of all players in the table, but still let you be the frickin' hero.

    And, of course: if you're playing a Martyr, you must be GOOD. No exceptions. Well, maybe a Neutral character *might* find Martyrdom valuable. It also has a pretty Lawful bent, but a Chaotic character is also quite viable.


    OATH SPELLS
    You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed.

    Paladin Level Spells
    3rd
    Healing Word, Sanctuary
    5th
    Lesser Restoration, Warding Bond
    9th
    Beacon of Hope, Revivify
    13th
    Aura of Life, Death Ward
    17th
    Mass Cure Wounds, Raise Dead

    SPARE THE DYING
    At 3rd level, you can prevent others from dying with a simple touch. You gain the Spare the Dying cantrip if you don't already know it.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Spell Selection
    Show
    With this, I easily solved the problem of the Paladin having no Warding Bond spell; it's right there on 2nd level, and you have permanent access to it by the time you reach 7th level (1 level earlier than the Paladin from 3.5 had it). However, filling the other spells was a bit complicated. How to exemplify the ideals of pacifism and ease of suffering?

    I figured that healing is a strong way to do so, and thus I decided to add one or two healing spells spread all over. Healing Word was a good start. Sanctuary is the ultimate "pacifist" spell, so it had to be in (and, curiously, it's part of the Oath of Devotion as well), and reading the description of Beacon of Hope made sense, so it was tacked in. Looking on how to fill those 4th level spells, I stumbled upon Aura of Life and how it works as both a buff and a heal, and it suddenly made sense. Half of the spells, if not more, would be healing spells, while other would be damage mitigation spells for other allies. That's how I stumbled upon Death Ward and Lesser Restoration. Protecting the sanctity of life is a must, and given how one might fail to protect someone, I figured both Revivify and Raise Dead would be good choices. I needed one more 5th level spell, and I decided to go for Mass Cure Light Wounds. The 2nd level spell slot was still empty, and while I could have gone for Aid, it's not like it was before (it grants a temporary increase to maximum HP, but no advantage on attack rolls or a bonus to attack rolls and so forth), so I went for Lesser Restoration to pad out healing (and when you remove blindness, deafness or poison, you alleviate the suffering of those who have the affliction, which made it excellent).

    You may want to argue if there are better spells, but these are the ones I figured would fit the most. I wanted to go for Shield of Faith, but I figured that the Paladin might already have access to it so I skipped it. Other spells I skipped but that could easily go in are Prayer of Healing (for that 2nd or 3rd level slot) and probably Stoneskin (damage mitigation). That said, there's one caveat - I added Spare the Dying as a free cantrip, because it fits thematically and it's not broken by any means, though it saves you a feat.


    CHANNEL DIVINITY
    When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following Channel Divinity options.
    Knight's Move. You can use your Channel Divinity to swap places with any ally. As a reaction, choose one ally within 60 ft. of your size or smaller that you can see that is about to be attacked. You instantly teleport to the spot your ally was located and your ally moves to your previous spot, swapping places. You may use this ability before or after the result of the attack roll is known. If you use this ability before the attack roll, you can resist the attack as normal, but if done after, you must take the effects of the attack, even if you would have otherwise ignored it.
    Stigmata. You can use your Channel Divinity to heal the wounds of allies by partaking of their pain and suffering in their stead. As an action, you can heal an ally within 30 ft. a number of hit points equal to twice the amount of damage you take. For example, you can heal an ally 10 points of damage by taking 5 points. You can also remove poisons or diseases by voluntarily taking 5 points of damage, in addition to any healing you provide, and you can spend points from your Lay on Hands healing pool in a 1-to-1 basis as a complement to your healing.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Channel Divinity, updated
    Show
    There was one. Now, there are two. It happens that Stigmata actually works well as a Channel Divinity option, so I integrated it early on. Let''s explain both in detail (as I like it!)

    So, Knight's Move. In short, it's Benign Transposition as a reaction. It has a strong fluff reason: you immediately move to take the suffering of another, as you're more capable of enduring that suffering. The range is intentionally wide (60 ft.) because the natural distance of Benign Transposition (30 ft.) may end up being too short. That said, it is one of the most powerful Channel Divinity options you can see, as it's a reaction rather than an action, it interrupts an enemy's attack, and it can be used to save an ally from certain death by taking the blow for it. It's only usable once per short rest, but I figure that you'll want to have this powerful ability accessible at all times, so I made it the only option. In a way, it's 1.5 times the benefit of a typical Channel Divinity option, so it ends up working as intended. Feel free to debate the opposite.

    Now, Stigmata. If you recall the Book of Exalted Deeds, there was an awesome, but impractical, feat called Stigmata. This spell allowed you to heal wounds by touch and provide a new saving throw against an incapacitating effect to all touched allies, but at a rate of taking Constitution damage. When I decided to rack up the idea of martyrdom as an Oath, this feat immediately came to mind; it was originaly a 15th level ability, which is usually pretty strong but not broken. I figured this would work nicely; turns out, people begged to differ. Thus, it became a Channel Divinity option.

    Originally, it worked as a modifier to Lay on Hands, but it was gained a tad late: you could spend some HP and increase the amount of healing of your LoH, but most importantly, it allowed for ranged healing. The new version is stand-alone: you sacrifice HP to heal at a distance (at a favorable ratio of 2 to 1), and even remove poisons and diseases, but only once. However, you can happen to spend points from your Lay on Hands (at the classic 1 to 1 ratio), so in essence it retains the original intention - you have to spend some points to fuel Stigmata, but you can drop off the entire pool of Lay on Hands on it, turning it into a Ranged Lay on Hands. Since you can control both "pools", you can use ranged Lay on Hands multiple times per day.


    AURA OF MARTYRDOM
    Beginning at 7th level, you ease the pain of others around you by partaking of their wounds. Allies within 10 ft. of you ignore an amount of hit point damage equal to twice your Charisma modifier, but all damage ignored is taken by you.
    At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 ft.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Aura of Martyrdom
    Show
    You know me. I'm a sucker for the damage redirection school of tanking, and I figured that if I could return Warding Bond to the Paladin, why not do something for my magnum opus, the Project Heretica Paladin? Aura of Martyrdom is based on the Project Heretica Paladin's Aura of Devotion, except it lacks the AC and Reflex bonuses.

    The premise is simple: static damage reducers are extremely limited. Most are dealt with resistance to attacks, and that would break the purpose of Warding Bond in the first place. Thus, I decided for a simple, yet effective, solution: twice your Charisma modifier as a static damage reducer, but you take the damage. Because of bonded accuracy, that means you'll rarely, if ever, see more than 10 points of damage reduction, which is fair for the monsters (they aren't disabled), the Paladin (it won't die that easily because of absorbing all that damage), and its allies (they take less damage). Plus, it fits the theme of martyrdom to a dot.

    Note, though, that it doesn't specify which kind of damage, other than it's hit point damage. So, an AoE spell that affects more than one ally within the aura means you take all that damage at once. So, you could easily take 20 or 30 points of damage in addition to what you take, but your allies won't take that damage. With your HD and a high enough Constitution modifier, you might be capable of surviving it.


    BEAR THY BROTHER'S BURDEN
    At 15th level, as a reaction you can choose to take a spell or effect used by an enemy against an ally within 30 ft. of you. The spell or effect must impose some kind of affliction: a spell like Poison or the gaze of a Medusa are valid choices, but a Fireball spell or a dragon's breath won't (unless the spell or effect causes damage and imposes an affliction, as the Poison spell does). If the spell or effect targets multiple creatures, only those within 30 ft. of you are not affected, whether you'd be affected or not. If the effect allows a saving throw, you make it using your own saving throw bonuses. You are affected by the spell or effect even if you would be otherwise immune to it.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Bear thy Brother's Burden
    Show
    First and foremost, thanks to Arracor for the idea, though I really had to change the name (Cursebearer works fine for...I dunno, another kind of Evil Paladin? Maybe the counterpart to an Oathbreaker of Martyrdom?

    Anyways: the idea is good, and it's actually really powerful, but with an equal risk. The spell works a lot like Counterspell, except as an area effect, and you take all the burden of the spell or effect rather than simply negate it. It also affects area spells, though only a portion of them. The original idea suggested a number of uses per day, but I declined for one reason - you're already taking the brunt of the affliction, bypassing your immunity.

    So...why bypass it? Well, the idea would be that if you're immune and you're taking the brunt of the effect, the immunity applied as well...but that would make the feature WAY too powerful, as you'd simply look for immunities and then negate monsters ALL of their spells. By having the effect ignore the immunity, you have to think whether taking the effect is valuable or not, which adds to the fluff. You also already have rockin' saving throws (thanks to your awesome Aura of Protection), so it's still incredibly effective. Applying immunity would make it just a tad too broken...and by 18th level, the range of Aura of Courage reaches 30 ft., so all allies in the area already gain immunity to one condition.

    Note that this also blends well with the Cleansing Touch power.


    ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
    At 20th level, you enter a state where pain and wounds are pointless, as you accept death willingly. Using your action, you suffuse your body with all your living energy. While on this state, light emerges from your eyes and mouth, as well as any wound you take. For 1 minute or until the end of the battle, you gain the following benefits:
    • You remain alive and conscious even if you would be otherwise taken to 0 hit points. You need not make any death saves. Track all damage you would have otherwise taken (including damage from a Disintegrate effect or from the Stigmata Channel Divinity); once the effect is over, you take all this damage instantly. If this damage takes you to 0 or less Hit Points, you make death saves as usual (or die instantly from massive damage, if applicable).
    • Your Aura of Martyrdom instead absorbs an amount of damage equal to five times your Charisma modifier.
    • You and all allies within 30 ft. of you gain immunity to ability damage, necrotic damage and all death effects. You also gain immunity to all spells that restore hit point damage.


    Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finished a long rest. You also recover it if you spent at least 24 hours dead before being revived.

    Spoiler: Commentary on Ultimate Sacrifice
    Show
    As you might have figured, the Paladin is unique in that it has a capstone based on its Sacred Oath, and two out of three of them are insanely powerful. Holy Nimbus is *decent* as it allows you to deal damage over time and you gain advantage on spells against two of the most annoying creatures you'll find at 20th level, but it's not comparable to Elder Champion (fast healing, Battle Blessing and disadvantage against your spells) or Avenging Angel (Aura of Menace and Flight). Thus, the Oath of Martyrdom deserves a superb capstone. Why not making them invincible, but then killing them afterwards?

    That was the idea, but I wasn't really happy with it. It was intentionally powerful, but perhaps TOO powerful, and just about everybody who commented was in favor of the capstone, but against the raw power of it. A nerf was demanded, and a nerf was provided. As with all other capstones, it lasts for 1 minute (or until the end of the encounter) and has about 3 bullet points. You no longer immediately die and your allies are no longer truly immune, but they still pretty much are (you'll rarely find a monster than can pull off 25 points of damage in a single blow, which is what you'd get with Charisma 20). You still can't get healed, but the damage is instead delayed (thanks xyianth), and Stigmata damage applies to the delayed damage. Otherwise...well, it's still a "panic button" for when things go dire, making you effectively invincible and your allies pretty much invulnerable at the expense of potentially dying afterwards from damage overflow. Still keeps the flavor of Ultimate Sacrifice, no?

    So...happy? The Legacy Content below has the original content save for the tenets and the Spell Selection, which are otherwise identical.


    Spoiler: Legacy Content
    Show
    CHANNEL DIVINITY
    When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following Channel Divinity option.
    Knight's Move. You can use your Channel Divinity to swap places with any ally. As a reaction, choose one ally within 60 ft. of your size or smaller that you can see that is about to be attacked. You instantly teleport to the spot your ally was located and your ally moves to your previous spot, swapping places. You may use this ability before or after the result of the attack roll is known. If you use this ability before the attack roll, you can resist the attack as normal, but if done after, you must take the effects of the attack, even if you would have otherwise ignored it.

    SPARE THE DYING
    At 3rd level, you can prevent others from dying with a simple touch. You gain the Spare the Dying cantrip if you don't already know it.

    AURA OF MARTYRDOM
    Beginning at 7th level, you ease the pain of others around you by partaking of their wounds. Allies within 10 ft. of you ignore an amount of hit point damage equal to twice your Charisma modifier, but all damage ignored is taken by you.
    At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 ft.

    STIGMATA
    Starting at 15th level, you take on the wounds of others by touch. When using your Lay on Hands ability, you can heal 1 additional hit point of damage to an ally for every point of damage you are wiling to take. You can also take 5 points of damage to remove any one disease or poison, as if you had spent the points from your pool. You may use this ability even if you have no points in your pool of healing power.
    Furthermore, you may use your Lay on Hands ability on any ally within range of your Aura of Martyrdom.

    ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
    At 20th level, you enter a state where pain and wounds are pointless, as you accept death willingly. Using your action, you suffuse your body with all your living energy. While on this state, light emerges from your eyes and mouth, as well as any wound you take. For 1 hour or until the end of the battle, you gain the following benefits:
    • You remain alive and conscious even if you would be otherwise taken to 0 hit points. You need not make any death saves.
    • You are considered as having an unlimited amount of hit points for purposes of your Stigmata ability.
    • You and all allies within 30 ft. of you gain immunity to ability damage, necrotic damage and all death effects. You also gain immunity to all spells that restore hit point damage.
    • Allies within your Aura of Martyrdom take no damage.


    Once you use this feature and the hour (or the battle) has passed, you immediately die. You may be revived, as usual.


    So: questions? Comments? Too early for 5e homebrew? Why, oh why, has WotC not called you already? Keep going with 3.5 homebrew and stop wasting my (as in, your) time? You sucked with 3.5 homebrew, don't think this will make it better? (Alternatively: you sucked with 3.5 homebrew, so let's give you the benefit of the doubt for 5e content?) Oath of Vengeance took a bit of an idea for a Retribution Paladin, but that doesn't mean I can't attempt more (and different) content for 5e. I have one or two ideas on other Sacred Oaths (and Martial Archetypes) regarding the Solamnic Knights, which I feel might make them justice, but they'll be mostly exercises (since I fully expect a Dragonlance book in the future with them existing). Finally, I still have a lot of 3.5 content to post, so don't feel abandoned by this.
    Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2015-02-21 at 03:09 PM.
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    On Lawful Good:
    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
    T.G. Oskar profile by Specter.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
    At 20th level, you enter a state where pain and wounds are pointless, as you accept death willingly. Using your action, you suffuse your body with all your living energy. While on this state, light emerges from your eyes and mouth, as well as any wound you take. For 1 hour or until the end of the battle, you gain the following benefits:
    • You remain alive and conscious even if you would be otherwise taken to 0 hit points. You need not make any death saves.
    • You are considered as having an unlimited amount of hit points for purposes of your Stigmata ability.
    • You and all allies within 30 ft. of you gain immunity to ability damage, necrotic damage and all death effects. You also gain immunity to all spells that restore hit point damage.
    • Allies within your Aura of Martyrdom take no damage.


    Once you use this feature and the hour (or the battle) has passed, you immediately die. You may be revived, as usual.
    Nice work on an interesting and flavorful oath. I did a double-take when I noticed that warding bond wasn't a paladin spell as well, and this seems like a nice method to add it back in. (Though I expect many will just houserule it as a paladin spell by default.)

    As for the ultimate sacrifice ability, I like it but I have a suggestion. Instead of it lasting an hour and then death, what if you made it a 1/long rest ability but while in that state, you are treated as being at whatever hp amount you were at when you activated it and you track all the damage you take (which includes all the damage you take instead of your allies due to your aura of martyrdom, stigmata, and warding bond spell). At the end of the ability, you immediately take that damage as a single blow. If this reduces you to below 0, but not enough to instantly die, you make death saves as normal. If you are reduced to the amount that causes you to instantly die, then you die and need to be revived. This should keep it as a panic button, but once used, your allies have an incentive to not act like idiots and charge in. (The current wording makes it effectively an 'I win' button and there is no incentive to act strategically while it is active.) This would allow you as a paladin to use it pre-emptively when a big battle is starting as part of a strategy, or reactively when plans go awry. This also makes it feel a little more like the other oath capstones in that it is a 1/long rest ability.

    Keep up the great brewing for 5e, I personally think all this homebrew is a perfect interim solution to fleshing out options for 5e games while we wait on the rest of the official rulebooks.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    I like it. One of my players loves healing paladins, so i'll add this guy to my class documents. I'll put stigmata earlier (it's just too iconic to be gained so late) and change the channel divinity to something like the life domain, but all in all this oath it's awesome.
    Last edited by DiBastet; 2014-09-10 at 10:48 PM.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by xyianth View Post
    Nice work on an interesting and flavorful oath. I did a double-take when I noticed that warding bond wasn't a paladin spell as well, and this seems like a nice method to add it back in. (Though I expect many will just houserule it as a paladin spell by default.)
    Double-take was little compared to my reaction. I always espouse the tanking "paradigm" of Damage Redirection, because forcing a Paladin to tank like a Fighter makes little sense; by allowing their own form of tanking, that makes them distinct to the Fighter and to the Cleric (to the Fighter because they have their own ways of tanking; to the Cleric because it makes their spellcasting unique, not just "smite rider effects" or "compilation of self-buffs"). I presume most tables will houserule it, but the idea is that houserules won't be in effect in Organized Play, and that's bad. Unless Organized Play bothers WotC so much with it that they decide to add it in errata.

    As for the ultimate sacrifice ability, I like it but I have a suggestion. Instead of it lasting an hour and then death, what if you made it a 1/long rest ability but while in that state, you are treated as being at whatever hp amount you were at when you activated it and you track all the damage you take (which includes all the damage you take instead of your allies due to your aura of martyrdom, stigmata, and warding bond spell). At the end of the ability, you immediately take that damage as a single blow. If this reduces you to below 0, but not enough to instantly die, you make death saves as normal. If you are reduced to the amount that causes you to instantly die, then you die and need to be revived. This should keep it as a panic button, but once used, your allies have an incentive to not act like idiots and charge in. (The current wording makes it effectively an 'I win' button and there is no incentive to act strategically while it is active.) This would allow you as a paladin to use it pre-emptively when a big battle is starting as part of a strategy, or reactively when plans go awry. This also makes it feel a little more like the other oath capstones in that it is a 1/long rest ability.
    I wanted it to be broken on purpose, because Paladins are the only class so far that has a mutable capstone (their 20th level ability is based off their Oaths, not fixed like in every other class), but all follow a rigid structure. The suggested change doesn't do that much of a difference; the one thing that will make them act recklessly is their total immunity to damage just by being under the Aura of Martyrdom, though the intention is that, with "infinite HP", you're soaking ALL the damage. Perhaps I wasn't that clear on it, but the intention was that you're burning your soul into a font of life, and you take the damage from everybody but don't die at that moment because of that effect. With the suggested change (tracking damage as normal and then taking all that damage as a single blow), the Paladin would take a massive blow every time it activates it any time the enemy uses an area attack. Aura of Martyrdom also happens to absorb area attacks, so that's an amount of damage that's multiplied. To make it so that everyone's less reckless, they'd have to beef up their defenses, making the capstone somewhat pointless as they won't take enough damage (or any damage at all) to merit using the capstone anyways (other than you going reckless). I understand your point (if you don't immediately die but rather take a hefty blow, they'll be careful about not abusing your power in order to save you from the fatal blow), but as it stands, it IS a panic button; the Martyr Paladin won't use it unless extremely necessary, because s/he knows s/he'll die afterwards. After such a brutal battle, chances are the party will need a long rest to recover (and revive you, as well), so it's not like the ability isn't a 1/long rest ability after all. Spending slots on Raise Dead when they could be spent on a spell that can be actually conductive to end the battle is more effective than raising you every time.

    That said, I understand your points. Part of why I didn't want to go with "usable 1/long rest" was because, if you die at the end of the ability, making a long rest to recover it is somewhat difficult (it all depends on whether you revive or not, that is).

    Quote Originally Posted by DiBastet
    I like it. One of my players loves healing paladins, so i'll add this guy to my class documents. I'll put stigmata earlier (it's just too iconic to be gained so late) and change the channel divinity to something like the life domain, but all in all this oath it's awesome.
    I have to work with the conventions of the chassis of Sacred Oath, even though I bend it to an extent (replacing one Channel Divinity for Spare the Dying and Ultimate Sacrifice officially not requiring a recharge), so Stigmata has to be at that level, if only because the 7th level ability is ALWAYS an Aura (all three classes have them, and some auras are strong enough to be 15th level but are 7th level nonetheless).

    The Oath of Martyrdom wasn't really meant to be the "healer" Oath, but after some reconsideration, it became one. Knight's Move is actually nice, so don't take that from your player. I'd love to make Spare the Dying a free cantrip and have two Channel Divinity options, but I didn't found a CD option that'd fit the Martyr at the moment I worked with it, so I made this change. If you want, you can keep Knight's Move and apply a variant of the Life domain CD option; it's your choice if you want to sacrifice Spare the Dying for it (you can technically get it via Magic Initiate, I believe).
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Yeah, I did some tweaking, but basically this

    3 - Channel: Knight's Move
    3 - Channel: Sacred Light (similar to life domain healing aoe)
    7 - Stigmata: Like you did, lay on hands at range (10ft then 30ft at 18th level), but with an addition: every point from your reserve heals 2 points when used on another creature.
    15 - Protected Soul: Auto stabilize and permanent death ward.
    20 - Ultimate sacrifice with some tweaks. Lasts 1 minute, with xyianth's track damage separated and all at once at the end, sans the "Allies within your Aura of Martyrdom take no damage."

    I really thank you for this oath
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    This subclass is cool as hell. I really like its flavor, the idea of it resonates strongly with my personal concept of a tanky paladin. I agree that the capstone is far too potent, though I can think of simple fixes to it for my own use, and I also agree with DiBastet's thoughts on Stigmata. I would also move Aura of Martyrdom to 3rd level, and I'm undecided on the sudden 15th level gap but I'm sure I can manage something. Seriously though, this deserves a lot more attention.

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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Arracor View Post
    This subclass is cool as hell. I really like its flavor, the idea of it resonates strongly with my personal concept of a tanky paladin. I agree that the capstone is far too potent, though I can think of simple fixes to it for my own use, and I also agree with DiBastet's thoughts on Stigmata. I would also move Aura of Martyrdom to 3rd level, and I'm undecided on the sudden 15th level gap but I'm sure I can manage something. Seriously though, this deserves a lot more attention.
    As I mentioned DiBastet, it has to do with chassis constraints. 3rd level always grants the Paladin two Channel Divinity options; 7th level always grants an aura (Vengeance is the only exception; not even Oathbreaker) that works as a class-based aura, 15th level always grants a unique yet powerful ability (Devotion grants permanent Protection against Good and Evil, the Ancients grant Timeless Body and a 1/long rest ability to ignore death, Vengeance grants the same benefit as the Sentinel feat; Oathbreaker grants damage resistance) and 20th level is a really powerful capstone that lasts for 1 minute and is usable 1/long rest. I made a few changes to fit the vision of the Oath, and one of the things I found was that Spare the Dying was just too thematically fitting to ignore. Thus, I sacrificed one application of Channel Divinity to grant Spare the Dying as a free cantrip. Stigmata is a two-in-one benefit, but should be at least equivalent in power to the other Oaths (at least it's better than the Vengeance 15th level ability).

    Thus, it's hard to switch Aura of Martyrdom from 7th level. Since it's something I feel it's iconic (note how I make reference to the tanking school of Damage Redirection, which is likewise accomplished via Warding Bond), I don't wish to change it. Placing Stigmata early means two things - either nerfing it and removing Spare the Dying, or removing Aura of Martyrdom (as DiBastet suggested) and place it at 7th level. I'm personally not happy with either of the two moves. To be honest, as I mentioned, the Oath of Martyrdom working as a "healer" Oath came as an afterthought, as I was looking more towards a "Damage Redirection" tanking Oath, and Aura of Martyrdom as the Oath aura, Warding Bond as a spell and Knight's Move as Channel Divinity were built with that purpose. That's something I don't plan to change, since it would diminish the original idea and reinforce a "healer" aspect that wasn't really intended until later.

    That said, some tweaks can be made. Doubling the amount of healing via Stigmata is a fair boost, but I have no plans to switch its level (unless it becomes the second Channel Divinity effect; after all, as I mentioned, the healing focus was an afterthought...) I could nudge a second Channel Divinity and still keep Spare the Dying. As for Ultimate Sacrifice...the suggestion seems fair, and it seems to be "popular" (for a given definition of the word), so it's not like I have the choice to keep it, as even I considered it a bit *too* much. I'd need some thoughts on how to deal with Stigmata, but I feel it's a bit powerful for 3rd level, and it'd require thinking of a permanent 15th level ability (kinda divided on permanent Death Ward - on one side, it fits the bill of "powerful ability", but on the other hand, it conflicts with the concept of the Oath as someone who willingly accepts death for the sake of others).
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Fair enough, as far as structure goes. I think Stigmata as a Channel Divinity would work just fine, given that those are 1 use per rest. In that light, it doesn't really require buffing, since it's a separate pool from your Lay on Hands and increasing the healing would push the 'heal' aspect over the 'cursebearer' aspect. The Aura works fine as a 7th level ability, no change actually needed there. I agree about the 15th level slot and Death Ward, that was my original reservation about it....

    As for Ultimate Sacrifice... I think it works best as a 1 minute ability. I also think that, perhaps, taking -all- damage is a bit strong. That basically gives the entire party a solid 10 rounds of completely risk-free combat, allowing them to go absolute nuts on whatever they're fighting as long as they stay in the aura's bounds. Perhaps instead, while under its effects your Charisma score increases to a very high number (25?) and change the aura's multiplier to... 5x(?), making you more effective in combat and making the party take a solid 35 points less damage per hit. Still a huuuuuuge alleviation for them, but it no longer allows them to make light of their ally's *ahem* ultimate sacrifice.

    EDIT: Aha! I thought of at least a concept for the 15th level ability that's in keeping with the theme. Cursebearer. Basically it allows you to take on not only the damage your allies take, but also any other negative effects inflicted on them. Possibly as a constant aura (perhaps you save against the effect's DC, on success you take it as if it was directed towards you) or as a reaction with uses per day (you use the reaction and it transfers to you automatically) within a certain range (I'd place it at 30ft.) It's powerful, the ability to redirect even the nastiest effects, and it's perfectly theme-fitting. (Even if you decide against it, though, I'd still like your input on it since I might use it myself.)
    Last edited by Arracor; 2015-02-18 at 06:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    I have to work with the conventions of the chassis of Sacred Oath, even though I bend it to an extent (replacing one Channel Divinity for Spare the Dying and Ultimate Sacrifice officially not requiring a recharge), so Stigmata has to be at that level, if only because the 7th level ability is ALWAYS an Aura (all three classes have them, and some auras are strong enough to be 15th level but are 7th level nonetheless).
    The Oath of Vengeance subclass doesn't actually gain an aura at 7th (or at any other level, for that matter); it instead grants the ability to move up to half your speed after hitting with an opportunity attack
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    He mentioned that, it's the only exception.

    I agree with stigmata as channel option not needing to be buffed.

    I disagree on death ward not fitting the theme, I mean, think by this light: Sacrifice is different from throwing your life away. Your mission is to protect and defend, and if you die you can't defend anyone anymore. If your final sacrifice is today then so be it, but if not then you'll be able do protect someone tomorrow.

    Of course, I believe you meant permanent death ward-like ability as just the "instantaneously without dealing damage" part.


    Edit: I like your "leech carrier effects" cursebreaker ability man. As a reaction affecting people inside your aura seems fine. It could be the main "thing" of a whole subclass.
    Last edited by DiBastet; 2015-02-18 at 10:42 AM.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Arracor View Post
    Fair enough, as far as structure goes. I think Stigmata as a Channel Divinity would work just fine, given that those are 1 use per rest. In that light, it doesn't really require buffing, since it's a separate pool from your Lay on Hands and increasing the healing would push the 'heal' aspect over the 'cursebearer' aspect.
    Stigmata was actually pretty easy to change. In fact, since Channel Divinity options tend to be pretty generous, it has a 30 ft. range by default. I also went for the 2:1 healing ratio, kept the ability to remove poisons and diseases by taking damage, and retained the ability to spend points from Lay on Hands (in a 1:1 ratio) as well. Actually makes more sense that way.

    As for Ultimate Sacrifice... I think it works best as a 1 minute ability. I also think that, perhaps, taking -all- damage is a bit strong. That basically gives the entire party a solid 10 rounds of completely risk-free combat, allowing them to go absolute nuts on whatever they're fighting as long as they stay in the aura's bounds. Perhaps instead, while under its effects your Charisma score increases to a very high number (25?) and change the aura's multiplier to... 5x(?), making you more effective in combat and making the party take a solid 35 points less damage per hit. Still a huuuuuuge alleviation for them, but it no longer allows them to make light of their ally's *ahem* ultimate sacrifice.
    Decided to switch the capstone into something more bearable, and took the idea of improving Aura of Martyrdom's benefit to 5x their Charisma modifier rather than negating all damage. While it's not 35 HP as you suggested, it's still a massive boost (which can grow even higher if they decide to boost their Charisma even further via Ioun Stones/Tomes of Leadership). Decided to follow xyianth's idea as well, with specific mention to the Disintegrate spell (not necessarily a death effect, but one of the ways which traditionally bypasses "ignore death threshold" abilities) and the Stigmata effect (since it's more manageable, meaning you can give a really serious bout of healing if you're willing to die anyways).

    EDIT: Aha! I thought of at least a concept for the 15th level ability that's in keeping with the theme. Cursebearer. Basically it allows you to take on not only the damage your allies take, but also any other negative effects inflicted on them. Possibly as a constant aura (perhaps you save against the effect's DC, on success you take it as if it was directed towards you) or as a reaction with uses per day (you use the reaction and it transfers to you automatically) within a certain range (I'd place it at 30ft.) It's powerful, the ability to redirect even the nastiest effects, and it's perfectly theme-fitting. (Even if you decide against it, though, I'd still like your input on it since I might use it myself.)
    Hmm...seems sound, though I'd rename it. I'd be inclined to make it a Reaction, but ignore the uses per day (you're taking the wounds and effects of everyone, and that's good measure of whether it's good or not to use the effect). It'd work well using the rules for the Counterspell...erm, spell, in that you use your Reaction to negate one single effect used by an enemy against an ally as part of that reaction, so as long as it doesn't only deal hit point damage (i.e. a dragon's breath is already covered by Aura of Martyrdom, but not a Basilisk's Gaze; the Gaze would only affect the Paladin instead of its allies, even if the Paladin isn't on the area).

    That said...

    Quote Originally Posted by DiBastet View Post
    I disagree on death ward not fitting the theme, I mean, think by this light: Sacrifice is different from throwing your life away. Your mission is to protect and defend, and if you die you can't defend anyone anymore. If your final sacrifice is today then so be it, but if not then you'll be able do protect someone tomorrow.

    Of course, I believe you meant permanent death ward-like ability as just the "instantaneously without dealing damage" part.
    Re-reading Death Ward, the spell works differently now (from what I thought; I was still at 3e/PF Death Ward). Half of the spell's effect is granted by the Oath of Ancient's Undying Sentinel class feature, so it'd be overlapping.

    Even then: while it does fit one of the tenets of the Oath, its meaning is a bit tricky. "[...]give my sacred, priceless life, [...] for something greater", depending on how it's interpreted, can be unachievable. What defines that great sacrifice? An unlucky roll of the dice might seem unfair, but if at the end of the day the unlucky roll leads to victory, then that sacrifice isn't meaningless. A sprung trap that kills you might seem like meaningless, but it perhaps leads to one less trap your party has to disarm or suffer through, which may mean the difference between a TPK and finishing the dungeon and beating the BBEG (even if you're not around to aid them). The tenet works for two purposes - to avoid meaningless, reckless deaths (like dying for a duel of honor, if there's no honor to defend) and to lead people to think of third options. If your death saves a handful of people and allows them to fulfill a purpose (and maybe inspire them), then you fulfilled the tenet. If your death saves one person, the same. If your death saves to delay a strong enemy and let them pass straight to the BBEG, the same. Hence, why it's so tricky.

    Permanent Death Ward ruins that by effectively denying you death, making it insanely cheap (and mostly going against the spirit of the Oath itself; denying death means you will act more recklessly, therefore preventing you from understanding the very meaning of sacrifice, particularly the "ultimate" sacrifice. Perhaps in 3e/PF terms not as much, but in 5e terms...how exactly it becomes "permanent"? Does that mean that the Paladin would always survive wounds with 1 hit point, meaning the Paladin becomes immortal? Would it be limited? If the latter, to what extent (1/long rest, 1/round, 1/turn)? Anything other than long rest would make it stronger than Undying Sentinel, but making it specific to long rest would instead make it weaker than Undying Sentinel (and in the end, not so different).
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Well, eagerly awaiting the updated version of the class. If it's done by then, I intend to present it as an option for char-gen tomorrow. :o

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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Arracor View Post
    Well, eagerly awaiting the updated version of the class. If it's done by then, I intend to present it as an option for char-gen tomorrow. :o
    Consider yourself being given the heads-up, then.

    Decided to keep some of the old content as "Legacy" content, since even with the comments there's enough space to keep it without reaching the 50k character mark. That way, you can contrast between changes, even if some are mostly repeated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Default Re: Sacred Oath - Oath of Martyrdom

    Awesome. \o/
    The player took Oath of Vengeance, and nobody else wanted a pally-din this time, BUT this subclass is solid all the way through and I'm going to make it a legit subclass choice across all my future games.

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