A Comprehensive Guide for Every Paladin Spell in DnD 5e

Published on April 26, 2024

Unlock the power of divine magic with our comprehensive guide to Paladin spells in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Find spells for smiting foes, protecting allies, and more.

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Harness Your Righteous Might

Paladins in Dungeons & Dragons 5e derive their magical prowess from their unyielding faith and devotion to their sacred oaths. Unlike clerics, the other divine spellcasting class, paladins channel their divine power through their Charisma ability, manifesting miracles through their sheer conviction and righteousness.

As half-casters, paladins don’t get as many spells, as high level of spells, or as many spell slots as full casters. They also don’t receive any cantrips, unless gain through a feat or ability like the Blessed Warrior Fighting Style.

Another thing worth noting is paladins have a unique feature called Divine Smite. This ability allows paladins to expend spell slots when they hit with a weapon attack to supercharge their strike with divine energy. Because of their limited spell slots and their potent smites, paladins often struggle to use their spell slots for less damage-direct spells.

Paladin Spells Tips

Here are some pointers to guide you in selecting the most impactful spells for your paladin:

What are the must-have spells on the paladin spell list?

Essential spells for paladins include classics like Protection from Evil and Good, Bless, and Shield of Faith, providing buffs to enhance combat prowess and protect allies. As you advance in level, spells such as Find Steed, Spirit Shroud, and Banishing Smite become invaluable assets for bolstering your paladin’s effectiveness and defeating higher level foes.

Look at your Oath’s spell list

Understand your oath’s tenets and tailor your spell selection to align with its principles and help fill it’s gaps. For example, a paladin sworn to the Oath of Devotion might prioritize spells that promote justice, mercy, and protection, while a paladin of the Oath of Vengeance may focus on smiting evil and delivering retribution.

You’ll also notice that while Oath of Devotion has a lot of Abjuration spells, it lacks as many offensive options. This means you’ll want to account for that when picking your paladin spells as you level up.

Tailor spells to your playstyle

Paladins are multi-ability dependent (MAD). They have to have a high Charisma for spellcasting, Strength for attacking, and Constitution for tanking. If you want to focus primarily on being in the midst of combat, you might want to focus on Strength and Constitution, leaving Charisma a bit lower.

This means you’ll want to focus on taking spells that don’t require Charisma to be effective. These spells are usually buffs like Bless, Protection from Evil and Good, Find Steed, etc.

Smite or Spell?

The Paladin’s Divine Smite outputs damage at a better rate than any of the other smite spells that become available to the class, especially if you’re fighting Undead. Plus, you can wait to activate Divine Smite until after you hit, meaning you can spend higher level spell slots when you crit to output more damage.

The smite spells are nice for utility, for example if you’re fighting invisible enemies or need to banish a BBEG to deal with their minions. But, in general, saving your spell slots for opportune moments to Divine Smite will output the highest damage.

One thing to note for the smite spells is they take a bonus action to cast and require concentration. Both of these aspects make them even more clucky than Divine Smite, because you run the risk of breaking concentration on a spell you’ve cast, or missing your attack and losing concentration on the smite before you have the chance to hit.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the best spells for the 5e paladin. For the full overview of the paladin class, check out our paladin class guide.

To allow you to scan through the options quickly, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Paladin Spells in D&D 5e

1st level

  • Bless: Bless is simply an amazing 1st-level buff. Adding 1d4 to all attacks and saving throws can really add up over a combat encounter. When given the choice, it's almost always worth it to cast bless on your party than bane on your opposition.
  • Ceremony: Interesting spell that allows for a number of one-time buffs. These buffs have very specific circumstances like the target being a young adult or a someone looking to be dedicated to your god's service. That said, adding a d4 to ability checks and saving throws for 24 hours, no concentration, as a ritual seems like a worthwhile pick up if you are heading into a tough day. If you're party is a bunch of young adults, that are looking to dedicate themselves to your god, and all want to be married, this spell can provide a pretty huge one-time power boost.
  • Command: Very effective charm spell that can be very versatile in combat, you can lock down opponents, cause them to drop important items, and so on. Make sure the target can understand your language before casting. Unfortunately, it only lasts one round so using it out of combat is pretty tricky.
  • Compelled Duel: The spell can make a strong enemy target you over weaker allies. This is good, but the spell ends if an ally casts a harmful spell at it. Essentially, if you cast this spell you're committing to 1v1 the target, which can certainly end poorly.
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
  • Detect Evil and Good: Can be quite useful if you're suspicious that an aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, fiend, or undead is undercover around you. Solid spell to stock when traveling to other planes.
  • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to detect magic.
  • Detect Poison and Disease: Being able to detect poison or disease within 30ft of yourself is definitely a situational effect. Only stock when you think you'll need it.
  • Divine Favor: Solid turn after turn damage for the cost of a 1st-level spell slot and a bonus action. Unfortunately, it can't be used to buff other party members so you have to be a weapon-wielder in order to use it. Plus, it requires concentration.
  • Heroism: Great buff effect, scales nicely as well.
  • Protection from Evil and Good: You love to see this spell in any party, the buffs this can provide are extremely useful in any combat scenario. The creature types this affects are very common so this spell will likely be useful in your campaign.
  • Purify Food and Drink: If you're DM likes to poison you via food or drink a lot, this could be a good pickup? Otherwise, save it for when you go to a political banquet in enemy territory.
  • Searing Smite: Could provide better damage than a Divine Smite as it causes fire damage turn after turn until the target succeeds in a CON save, but it’s a gamble.
  • Shield of Faith: +2 AC is quite good, especially in the early game. Sadly, this spell requires concentration. Great buff for a tanking party member if you intend to stay out of the fray.
  • Thunderous Smite: On average does slightly less damage than Divine Smite. Knocking an opponent prone could certainly be worth it depending on the battlefield and initiative.
  • Wrathful Smite: Good choice for some battlefield control. It does less damage but the frightened condition is quite powerful. If you need to take a single enemy out of the fight temporarily, this is a good choice.

2nd level

  • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
  • Branding Smite: You need to be able to hit an invisible creature for this spell to be worth it. Really only effective for Oath of the Watchers as they gain access to see invisibility.
  • Find Steed: Find steed is quite an interesting spell. It's similar to find familiar in the sense that you can summon an animal companion with a 10-minute spell that lasts indefinitely (until it is killed or dispelled). Instead of a small creature like find familiar, find steed allows you to summon a rideable companion. Now, riding a mount into combat can be a bit tricky to understand because the rules are confusing at best. Essentially, you can either choose to control your mount (tell it where to go on your turn) or you can let it act independently. If you control the mount, it acts on the same initiative as you and can only Dash, Disengage, or Dodge on its turn. If you let it act independently, it acts on its own initiative and can use the full range of its actions. Because your summoned steed has an Intelligence of 6, it can act independently, unlike other rideable beasts. Jeremy Crawford suggests in his Sage Advice podcast to let players choose each round if the mount will be acting independently or being controlled. While your mount acting independently may allow for better action economy and more damage, it can certainly end with you going somewhere you don't want to because your mount has been spooked in combat.
  • Gentle Repose: Extremely situational spell.
  • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
  • Locate Object: 1,000 feet isn't a particularly wide radius but this spell will be extremely useful when it's needed. Great for city campaigns where everything is packed in tighter together.
  • Magic Weapon: Making your weapon magical is necessary against some enemy types and the +1 to attack and damage rolls is nice. Concentration hurts if you're going to be using this then charging into the fray. Good option when you party is lacking magic weapons, but can be dropped once you get into higher levels.
  • Prayer of Healing: Up to 12d8 + (your spellcasting modifier * 6) is insanely good healing for a 2nd-level spell slot. Unfortunately, the 10 minute casting time makes it impossible to use in combat and each creature only gets 2d8 + spellcasting modifier. If your party needs a boost of healing and doesn't have time for a short rest, this can be effective.
  • Protection from Poison: Has some use if you have a poisoned party member but don't have access to lesser restoration. The resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws against poison is a nice buff in specific circumstances, especially because it doesn't require concentration.
  • Warding Bond: This buff is really good, but can be quite risky for yourself if used at the wrong time. Make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by enemies and have a sizeable amount of hit points and AC.
  • Zone of Truth: Great for when you need to gain the trust of some NPCs, or when you don’t quite trust them yourself.

3rd level

  • Aura of Vitality: The healing takes set up and isn’t that impressive considering this requires concentration.
  • Blinding Smite: Bit of a gamble. Blinded is a devastating condition as it means they attack with disadvantage and attacks against them have advantage. Unfortunately, the damage output isn't great for the spell slot level. If the creature you are attacking has low CON go for it. Otherwise, stick to your Divine Smite.
  • Create Food and Water: Pretty much only useful for survival scenarios in which you aren't able to cast goodberry for whatever reason.
  • Crusader’s Mantle: Great if you have loads of martial characters with you, poor in a party of casters. This spell requires concentration which will likely make you a target if you're wading into battle with it activated.
  • Daylight: The light cantrip on steroids. The biggest downside of this spell is the misleading name which causes people to think that this spell actually produces daylight, which can be helpful when fighting creatures with Sunlight Sensitivity. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
  • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
  • Elemental Weapon: The damage just isn't great for a 3rd-level spell and concentration. If damage vulnerabilities were more common in 5e, it could be worth it. Unfortunately, as it stands it's just not an effective use of the resources is requires.
  • Magic Circle: While celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are quite common, this spell provides a very lackluster effect against them. As the creatures can still attack inside the cylinder and can still teleport out using a CHA save, it's not very effective at containing, nor protecting from, these creatures.
  • Remove Curse: Cursed items can be absolutely brutal. This is an excellent way to make sure your party member isn't possessed by a demon after the put on a locket they found in a haunted house.
  • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you've got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you're planning on stocking this spell.
  • Spirit Shroud: This spell is an amazing buff for paladins. The extra damage on every attack is solid for a 3rd-level, bonus action, concentration spell. The fact that this scales 1d8 for each level of spell slot higher than 3rd makes this spell amazing.

4th level

  • Aura of Life: Protection from hit point maximum reduction is very situational, although resistance to necrotic damage is handy when facing the undead. Bringing up all downed allies within the radius at the start of their turn sounds useful, but you will need to maintain your concentration until then for this to have an effect.
  • Aura of Purity: You won’t use this all the time, but if you face a lot of enemies that can inflict negative status conditions this is great.
  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of the combat. One of the better save or suck spells out there. Keep in mind that, unless the creature is natively from another plane, they will return after the spell ends.
  • Death Ward: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn't require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
  • Find Greater Steed: Being able to summon a griffin or pegasus for a mount is an amazing tactical advantage. Great spell to cast at the end of an adventuring day if you have spells left over.
  • Locate Creature: More thorough than locate animals or plants, and can be used to find people. It’s still pretty situational.
  • Staggering Smite: The damage isn't great considering you could get 5d8 radiant damage out of a 4th-level divine smite. The effect, while powerful, gives them a chance to save and ends automatically after one turn. Can be useful when fighting a particularly tough baddie, especially one that isn't specced into Wisdom.

5th level

  • Banishing Smite: No save to the banishment (as long as their HP is low enough) and, on average, similar damage to a 5th-level smite. This is the best smite in the game.
  • Circle of Power: Useful full party buff that makes hostile magic less of a problem.
  • Destructive Wave: Really good damage, and knocking enemies prone is great. Also, you can choose which creatures are affected. All around great AoE.
  • Dispel Evil and Good: Absolutely amazing spell to use when fighting celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead, which are all common enemy types. Not only do their attacks have disadvantage against you, each time you land a hit, they will be forced to make a CHA save or be banished back to their home plane. Simply an amazing spell in the correct circumstances.
  • Geas: Not for use in combat but has extremely potent effects if you can cast it. The max damage this can do is 5d10 a day, so it's best used on a particularly influential commoner.
  • Holy Weapon: Doing a 1st-level Divine Smite's worth of damage every time you hit is pretty great. Being able to do AoE damage and Blind as a bonus action at the end of the spell is a nice bonus if you end up getting surrounded. If you'll be using this as part of your build, picking up Resilient (CON) would be worth it.
  • Raise Dead: A more powerful resurrection spell than revivify because it has a 10 day time span and can cure Poisons and Diseases. Unfortunately, if you resurrectee is missing their head or other body parts, you'll have to wait until you get resurrection.
  • Summon Celestial: One of the best summon spells from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The celestial you summon has flight, ranged and melee attacks, radiant damage, and healing abilities.

Sources Used in This Guide

  • BR: Basic Rules
  • GotG: Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
  • SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
  • ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
  • EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
  • EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
  • GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
  • MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
  • MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
  • MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
  • PAitM: Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse
  • PHB: Player's Handbook
  • SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
  • SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
  • SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  • TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  • TTP: The Tortle Package
  • WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
  • VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
  • VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
  • XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Other Paladin Guides

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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