If you’ve followed along with me on this blog, you’ll know I love gothic style horror, especially Lovecraftian horror. When Magic the Gathering integrated Shadows over Innistrad with a more Lovecraft style horror/mystery theme, I was excited beyond belief. I loved the Innistrad style of gothic horror, I was equally pleased to see Gothic Horror in D&D resurfacing when Curse of Strahd was released. Since then, I’ve spent some time thinking about ideas on how to better showcase a gothic style D&D campaign with a selection of subclasses to accentuate the theme better.

We’ve done Blood Magic, Ur-Priests toUrban Rangers, Occultist Tradition wizards and even the Moon Domain Cleric. So we touch on more divine or saintly characters to counter the dark forces that creep against humanity or the mortal folk.

The Ordained Fighter archetype is akin to the Cathars from Innistrad, normal men armed with tools and methods to combat the forces of evil and vile creatures. We developed the Oath of the Cleansing Flame Paladin as a flavorful reimagination of a holy inquisitor who wields holy flames to combat evil.

Ordained Fighter Archetype

An ordained fighter combating against dark, sinister forces. Image by Wizards of the Coast.

“Grant them the knowledge to defeat their foes, in time they shall revere us as their saviors.” – Archangel of Knowledge

Bonus Proficiencies. At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the History and Religion skill. Their religious zealotry teaches you the lessons and tenants to fight evil. 

Light of the Ordained. At 3rd level, your study of the supernatural provides you with a limited use of magic to protect you and others against them. You can cast detect magic as a ritual. You can cast protection from evil and good, but you cannot cast it again with this feature until you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells. In addition, you gain the ability to speak one of the following languages of your choice: Abyssal, Celestial, or Infernal. 

Ordained Blade. At 7th level, if the target you hit with a melee weapon attack is an aberration, a fey, a fiend, or undead, you deal an additional 1d8 radiant damage. At 17th level, you deal an additional 2d8 radiant damage instead.

Sacrament. At 10th level, you learn a sacred ritual to cleanse sin and depravity from those plagued by the darkness. You can cast greater restoration, but you cannot cast it again with this feature until you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells. 

Chaplain of Hope. At 15th level, you become a shining beacon against the darkness. You and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you can’t be frightened while you are conscious. 

Final Sacrament. At 18th level, you also can cast dispel evil and good, but cannot cast it again with this feature until you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Author’s Notes: While it may seem that I shoved on cleric spells for the Fighter, I tried to keep the spells to a minimum without sacrificing on the overall flavor of the archetype. Ultimately, I wanted a warrior who could perform divine rites against horrors that encroached on humanity’s doorsteps. The fighter still takes center stage but can ward an area against evil and still be relevant in combat against them. 

Oath of the Cleansing Flame

Paladin of the Oath of the Cleansing Flame beating undead into submission. Image by Wizards of the Coast.

“Let the divine flames purge your illness, your sins, your depravity, and your foul life.” – Knight of the Cleansing Flame

Tenants of the Cleansing Flame
Light. You bring light from your life into the lives of others. You illuminate the darkness and snuff the shadows, for evil deeds are committed where none may see them.
Cleanse the Impure. Do not let evil fester, it must be eradicated. Cleanse those inflicted by evil’s touch.
Save under the embrace of the Light. Save those who are not tainted, and do your due diligence for those with evil’s mark.
Dispel the Darkness. Your flames are those of righteousness, dispel and ruin evil’s plots at every turn. Leave no shadows.
Righteous Flames. You are righteous, do what is always right no matter the circumstances. Be merciful but show no quarter against your sworn enemies. 

Oath Spells 

Paladin Level Spells
3rd protection from evil and good, shield of faith
5th continual flame, flame blade
9th blinding smite, daylight
13th fire shield, wall of fire
17th dispel evil and good, immolation (EE)

Channel Divinity – Cloak of Flames. As a bonus action, you are covered in divine flames for 1 minute. Whenever a creature hits you with a melee attack, it is dealt fire damage equal to 1d6 plus your Charisma modifier. In addition, you emit bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light 20 feet beyond that. You can end this effect on your turn part of any other action. If you fall unconscious, this effect ends. 

Channel Divinity – Purifying Flames. You release white flames of purity. While these flames do not harm, they disperse the taint of evil and the darkness. As an action, you channel divine flames that dispel magical effects and curses on a creature or object within a 30-foot radius. Any magical effect of 3rd-level or lower, and curses ends.

Righteous Flames. At 7th level, your flames are granted by divine power, making them potent compared to others who wield divine flames. When you hit a creature with an effect or spell that deals radiant or fire damage, you can reroll the damage die if you roll a 1 and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1. In addition, you ignore resistance to radiant and fire damage. 

Flamewalker. At 15th level, you gain resistance to fire damage. In addition, whenever you use your Cloak of Flames Channel Divinity feature, your deal 2d6 plus your Charisma modifier in fire damage instead whenever a creature hits you with a melee attack. 

Embodiment of Cleansing Flames. Starting at 20th level, you sprout wings of crimson flames and become covered in the divine flames. Using an action, you undergo this transformation. For 1 minute, you gain the following benefits: 

  • When you use your Purifying Flames Channel Divinity feature, you can do so again without taking a short or long rest for the duration of this transformation.  
  • Melee weapon attacks you make deal an extra 2d6 fire damage on a hit. 
  • Creatures have disadvantage on saving throws against your Paladin spells that deal radiant or fire damage.
  • Fiery wings sprout from your back and grant you a flying speed of 60 feet. 

Author’s Note: I wanted a Paladin oath was a little bit more on the spellcasting side but still take away from the Paladin’s martial identity. So we granted spells that dealt fire damage and gave features that implied a “radiant and fire damage matter” sort of design. 

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