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Oath of the Grave Paladins

Last updated on March 25, 2019

I have a long affection for gravediggers. I played a gravedigger in a larp for around a decade, and I have been a fan of them ever since. I have written D&D stuff around them before. I am also a fan of Death as being seen as a good thing. Too often we treat death like a villain and that is not a healthy way to look at things. I am not saying we should all go out and embrace our inner goth, but anyone who has cared for terminal patients or a large number of other medical condition can tell you that sometimes death is a mercy.

With that in mind, I give you the Grave Knights, those paladins who follow the Oath of the Grave.

Oath of the Grave

There are many champions for the living. There are many people who will stand to fight for the living. How man will stand for the dead? How many will protect the fallen from the indignity of having their remains violated by errant necromancers? Who will protect the cycle of life and death?

Who are the Grave Knights?

The Oath of the Grave is not pursued by any formal order. There are no holy ranks of Grave Knights. The Oath of the Grave is passed by the gravediggers, from master to apprentice. These champions of death are not against the living. They see death and life part of the natural cycle, a cycle which must be protected. Their greatest enemy is the undead and those who make undead.  The Grave Knights feel a responsibility for making sure the dead get their remains handled in a respectful manner. The undead are a desecration of the dead, in the least, and an abominable affront to the natural cycle.

Tenets of The Grave

A paladin who takes this oath of the grave swears this oath once in the graveyard and lives it for the rest of their days. This oath is administered from Grave Knight to Grave Knight.

Set the dead to rest. Never let the dead lie untended to. Their bodies must be cared for with respect whether they are buried, burned, or any other burial rite.  

Suffer no undeath. The undead must be destroyed and those who create them must be stopped.

Death is mercy. Death is not to be feared but embraced in its time. Causing a deliberately painful death is wrong. It should involve no more pain than is needed.

 Oath of The Graves Features

Paladin Level Feature

  • 3rd Oath Spells, Channel Divinity
  • 7th Aura of Repose
  • 15th Undead Bane
  • 18th Aura of Repose (30 ft.)
  • 20th Death’s Champion

Oath Spells

You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed in the Oath of The Grave Spells table. See the Sacred Oath class feature for how oath spells work.

Oath of The Grave Spells

Paladin Level Spells

  • 3rd Cause Fear, Sanctuary
  • 5th Gentle Repose, Pass Without a Trace
  • 9th Glyph of Warding, Feign Death
  • 13th Banishment, Shadow of Moil
  • 17th Greater Restoration, Enervation

Edited spell list based on feedback from Rob Masters over on the MeWe Dungeons and Dragons Group.

Channel Divinity

When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options. See the Sacred Oath class feature for how Channel Divinity works.

Weapon Against Undeath.

The Grave Knights are driven to destroy undead.They channel divinity into their weapons to harm undead specifically. As an action, they can channel divinity granting the weapon they are holding a few bonuses. First, the weapon is considered magical.  The weapon also disrupts undead on impact, adding an additional +d6 damage on successful hits against undead creatures.


Shovels are considered to be a normal weapon for you and you are proficient in its use.  In your hands the shovel is  considered to a be 1d8 slashing weapon, with the Versatile(1d10) attribute.  Weapons Against Undeath can be used with the shovel.

Turn Undead.

As an action and using your Channel Divinity, each undead that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage.

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. The undead creature also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.

Aura of Repose

Beginning at 7th level, your presence is a resistant to the undead and tools they use. You and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you have resistance to necrotic damage. You and friendly creatures also can ignore effects that would turn you into an undead.

At 18th level, the range of this aura increases to 30 feet.

Undead Bane

Starting at 15th level, your power comes from death itself and is terrible to behold. You may, as a reaction either yourself or allies being attacked, inflict either necrotic or radiant damage(your choice) equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) to any target you can see. Undead struck this way are incapable of healing through any means till the end of your next turn.

Death’s Champion

At 20th level, as an action, you can become a beacon of death. For 1 minute, a shadow emminates from you in a 30-foot radius. You are immune the darkness and it can be seen through by dark vision.

Whenever an undead begins its turn or enters the shadow, they lose all resistances(damage and spell) and they have disadvantage on all saving throws. This effect lasts as long as the shadow remains.

Also, anyone inside the shadow dies if they are reduced to 0 hitpoints, even if they have special abilities preventing this.

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One Comment

  1. I like what you have done here. I was playing in Carrion Crown and it constantly felt like we didn’t have the tools to put to rest all the undead (and soon to be undead that we encountered). While the shovel uses are a good start, I wonder if you could expand on it by adding other methods of burial to their arsenals, such as cremation, the creation of cairns, or even sky burials.

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