Paladins in D&D have had a long history of follow a decorum of tenants and codes of conduct, which made them both appealing but easily intimidating to play. In most earlier editions, Paladins were restricted to a particular alignment and therefore had a level of expectation in regards to behavior and personality traits. Overtime, players saw this limitation more of a detriment mechanically than a piece of roleplay and character development. Fast forward to the present, Paladins are free from the shackles of alignment restrictions but we get Oaths now that give tenants or codes of conduct. They differ from each other in their beliefs and the expectations of their actions, their abilities were obviously different and unique from each other.
You had the Devotion oath which fit the bill for the traditional Lawful Good paladin but could easily swing the Neutral Good route for one of those “for the good of all” sort of Paladins. The Oath of Ancients was the freeform spirit, almost Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral in regards to beliefs, using the elves as a marker for their love of nature. The Oath of Vengeance was the oath that made me see the evolution of the class come to life finally, this oath could fit a myriad of alignments but came closer to that sort of Grey Guard sort of Paladin which for some is more colorful to play. From the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, we gained the Oath of the Crown, a more Lawful based oath on protecting the hallmarks and establishments of civilizations.
I have created several Paladin oaths, the Oath of the Mystic Flame to protect magic and its use against evil forces, and the Oath of Concordance for protecting the sanctity of the four elements and the elemental planes.
Today, as promised in my previous article, I bring to you a Paladin with the ideals of mercy, not but not the traditional sense. Paladins that dispense justice without a shred of mercy, to full the tenants of justice or punishment as the crime demands from it. This oath is driven by the principles of law and nothing else, it is by the adherence to law that these paladins deem a being just. If you’re familiar with the Sons of Mercy or Mercykillers from Planescape, this was inspired by them.
Oath of Mercy – None shall be given
Author’s Note: Unlike the Oath of Vengeance, which carries similar ideals and practices, an Oath of Mercy requires the paladin to dispense justice to the truest and literal interpretation. These paladins believe that law and its absolute adherence begets truth and understanding, to bring justice untainted by evil or good intentions, you may even say as a counterpoint of equal justice to an injustice procured. In my campaign setting, I have a deity of justice named Ixa that dispenses justice as purely as possible, acting as the cosmic executioner, judge, and jury.
Tenents of Mercy
Justice Above All. Uphold justice before all else, purge the world of those who break the law or oaths. You are righteous and follow the higher law of Justice.
Fair and Just. Weigh in all the rights and wrongs with a clear and impartial mind, punish the guilty as the crime dictates. You shall not pass judgement on good and evil, only on law-abiding and law-breaking.
Vigilance and Diligence. You shall be diligent in your pursuit of the guilty, never relenting on them until judgement has been passed. While in pursuit of your quarry, you must remain innocent under the law.
No Mercy to Injustice. There is no mercy in judgement, there is no mercy in the pursuit of Justice, there is no mercy to those who violate the law of Justice.
3rd – hunter’s mark, protection from evil and good
5th – hold person, zone of truth
9th – dispel magic, haste
13th – freedom of movement, locate creature
17th – geas, hold monster
When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.
Authority of Justice. You issue a command to a creature to comply with your decrees and judgement. As an action, you brandish your holy symbol and speak out a command at a single creature within 60 feet as per the command spell except it works on Undead creatures. Fiends and Undead have disadvantage on their saving throws against this feature.
Charges of the Accused. As an action, you can use your Channel Divinity to learn whether a creature has broken a law, committed an injustice, or broke an oath. The creature must be on the same plane of existence otherwise this feature ends. You learn of all instances of law-breaking the creature committed within its lifetime and gain advantage on Wisdom (Survival) and Wisdom (Perception) checks to track the target until it is within 30 feet from you or you fall unconscious. You do not need to have seen the target or possess any belonging, but you do need their true name and at least one document infraction for which the target has not been brought to justice.
Tireless Justicar. Starting at 7th level, you no longer gain any levels of exhaustion whether from non-magical or magical sources. At 18th level, you gain truesight up to 60 feet.
Merciful Justice. Starting at 15th level, you gain advantage on attack rolls, Insight, and Persuasion checks against the target of your Charges of the Accused feature. You can now cast locate creature as a ritual.
Ordained Executioner. At 20th level, you can assume the form of an executioner of the law, dispensing judgements without an ounce of mercy. Using your action, you undergo a transformation. For 1 minute you gain the following benefits:
- You emanate an aura in a 30-foot radius. Any enemy creature in this aura cannot be transported or teleport by magical means.
- Your melee attacks leave a mark of justice on creatures you hit, those creatures gain only half the hit points (rounded down) from healing spells or healing effects. Your weapon is also treated as magical if it’s a non-magical weapon.
- Creatures have disadvantage to saving throws against your Authority of Justice feature.
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