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FFXIV Paladin Job Guide: Leveling and Rotation

Defender of the weak. Dispenser of justice. The FFXIV Paladin is the eternally noble fantasy archetype that will ever protect those who cannot protect themselves. It’s also the Job that the Gladiator Class develops into, confidently holding down the Tank role with a wide array of abilities that make you the perfect damage-oriented lightning rod. Ready to start your career as the righteous right hand of Lawful Good? Let’s dig in with the High Ground Gaming FFXIV Paladin Job Guide.

From Humble Beginnings

In the world of Eorzea, the city-state of Ul’dah serves as a hub for commerce and the bloodsports of the world. The city’s Gladiators, operating out of the Gladiator Guild, regularly take to the blood-soaked sands of the Coliseum to test their strength and learn how to walk off injuries. This makes the Gladiator uniquely suited to the Tank role – and once they’ve distinguished themselves sufficiently, they may embark on a quest to join the upper echelon of Ul’dah’s mythical Paladins.

A Paladin observers Gladiators Training
Training in the Gladiator’s Guild (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

As with most things in FFXIV, sufficient distinguishment occurs at level 30. Completing the Main Story Quest Sylph-management and the Gladiator Class Quest The Rematch unlocks the first quest in the Paladin chain: Paladin’s Pledge. After completing said quest, you’ll receive the Soul of the Paladin, and your new life as a defender of the weak and dispenser of justice begins.

The Paladin’s Role

You might recall the line between Class and Job. Gladiator is your Class here and Paladin is your Job. But once you’re a Paladin, you’re a Paladin all the way!

The Tank toolkit broadens dramatically with the introduction of the Job. If this is your first Tank class, though, you may be left scratching your head. What exactly is your role in all this? And why do the DPS and Healers keep blaming you in Duties?

A Paladin prepares to defend his party
A Paladin prepares with Sentinel (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Let’s be honest: they’ll blame you no matter what. But it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the fundaments of the role.

As a Tank, your role is to hold enmity, also colloquially called aggro. This means that you need to draw the ire of every enemy in sight, then keep their attention while the DPS gets to work on them.

Many of the skills on your hotbar will be oriented toward either getting their attention or mitigating the damage they send your way. And while you’re not officially a DPS, you’ll still have a slew of damage dealing abilities. Not just to maintain high enmity with threats – but also to send some hot, spicy vengeance back their way.

That’s FFXIV’s not-so-secret little secret: every class is a DPS at the end of the day.

Tank Stance

First things first: tank stance. In FFXIV Paladins, like other Tanks, have an ability designed to make yourself the scariest target in the room. The Paladin tank stance ability is named Iron Will – and while the concept of the stance may be outdated the necessity of it remains the same.  

Iron Will “significantly increases enmity generation,” and it can be toggled on and off for situations where you may want to fade back and let the Off Tank shoulder the aggro for a moment. But it defaults to off upon entering a duty. Make sure to turn on Iron Will as soon as possible on entering a duty where you’re the Main Tank!

Combos and Combat

Your DPS abilities also have a few simple yet satisfying combos as well. Your core Fast Blade weaponskill combos into Riot Blade, and from there can complete the chain with either Royal Authority or Goring Blade. The former finisher is for more damage now while the latter offers damage over time. And both restore MP to keep your hotbar buzzing.

FFXIV Paladin Job Guide - screenshot of a Paladin's AOE
Performing an AoE (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Since you’re going to be initiating combat, it falls to you to ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Perhaps you’ve heard of “wall-to-wall” tanking – or running through each section of a duty until you hit an obstacle and pulling everything along the way. While you’re still getting used to the Paladin or Tanking as a role, we’d recommend against performing the wall-to-wall. Start one enemy or one group at a time. Feel out your survivability bit by bit and get comfortable with your skill rotation before committing to bigger pulls.  Then when you’re ready – and when you have a resourceful Healer in the party – then you can give the wall-to-wall a try.

So remember: turn on your tank stance, be the first to engage, don’t get in over your head, and hold aggro for as long as it takes the DPS to drop your foes.

Paladin Job Rotation

While you’re a Tank and not a DPS, remember that every class is a DPS at heart. That is to say, a Tank can’t take well if they’re not generating enmity by dealing damage, and every chip off an enemy’s health will bring them down that much sooner.

Screenshot of a Paladin using the Sheltron ability
Defending with Sheltron (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

For most engagements, your core rotation will look a little something like this:

  • Make sure Iron Will is toggled on if you’re the Main (or only) Tank!
  • Activate Fight or Flight for 25 seconds of 25% increased damage output.
  • Initiate combat with a single-target ability like Fast Blade, a ranged Shield Lob, or a multi-target ability like Total Eclipse or Circle of Scorn.
    • If Fast Blade: Continue the combo through Riot Blade and into either Rage of Halone/Royal Authority or Goring Blade.
    • If a multi-target ability: Continue to generate enmity with multi-target abilities for maximum efficiency, or throw in a Fast Blade combo as desired.
  • Mitigate damage as needed with Rampart, Sentinel, or reduce enemy damage output with Reprisal.
  • If things get too hot, Hallowed Ground and Sheltron can be used for temporary invulnerability to most types of attacks, and Clemency offers 1,200 points of health in a pocket heal.

The Oath Gauge

Note that some abilities, like Sheltron and Cover, have an Oath Gauge cost. What’s an Oath Gauge? For the FFXIV Paladin, your Oath Gauge is an extra layer of resource management that comes into play at level 35 and caps out at 100 points. Auto attacks generate… uh, “oath?”

Someone needs to start an all-Paladin guild called “Quaker Oaths.” That one’s for free. You’re welcome.

You earn points to fill the gauge by landing auto-attacks and spend oath on actions like the aforementioned Sheltron and Cover, which block incoming attacks and take all damage intended for another party member as well as Intervention. These are potent abilities with strong use cases, but due to the limited nature of the Oath Gauge, it’s up to you to ensure you can slap these cards down on the table when the time is right. Don’t spam abilities that spend Oath Gauge points, save them as panic buttons – unless you’ve got Oath Gauge points coming out your ears.

FFXIV Paladin Guide: Leveling

FFXIV Paladin leveling guide section - screenshot of training in the Aftcastle
Training in the Aftcastle (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Take a walk with us now from beginning to end of a Paladin’s journey. As we mentioned, you’ll start life as a Gladiator – but you mustn’t see the early levels as something to be fast tracked. The fundamentals of tanking are gradually taught to you throughout.

Once you hit Paladin, the game (and your fellow players) will expect you to be comfortable with the role. So approach them with a willingness to learn, or at least a willingness to feel out the unique abilities and skills for the class.

Paladin Levels 1-10

A Realm Reborn Actions

First, you must learn to handle a blade. Fast Blade (Lv. 1), and will prove pivotal for combo chains to come. Then you’ll integrate Fight or Flight (Lv. 2) to add 25% bonus damage for 25 seconds with a 60 second cooldown. Rounding out your starter skills is Riot Blade (Lv. 4), which offers the first combo opportunity. It deals 100 potency base damage and combos with Fast Blade for 300 potency damage and restores some MP. Not a bad deal.

Remember, every 5 levels you’ll unlock new class quests. Keep up with your class quests. They’re easy XP, and necessary to progress from Gladiator to Paladin as well as unlocking the best Paladin skills.

We’re not quite in tanking mode yet, although Total Eclipse (Lv. 6) is your first AoE. Dealing 120 potency damage to all nearby enemies will be key to gaining enmity and holding aggro down the road. You’ll also pick up Rampart (Role Action, Lv. 8) along the way. It offers 20% damage reduction for 20 seconds with a 90 second cooldown.

A Paladin in FFXIV using the Iron Will ability
Assuming the Tank stance with Iron Will (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Next you’ll add Shield Bash and Iron Will (Lv. 10) to your repertoire. The former will tickle your opponent with 110 potency damage while also stunning them for 6 seconds. Give yourself a little wiggle room. The latter, Iron Will, which is what’s known as your “tank stance.” It’s toggled off and on, and while it’s on your enmity generation is incredibly high. As in, only another tank in their tank stance could hope to take aggro from you.

If you’re a Main Tank, your tank stance should always be on. If you’re an Off Tank, toggle on when the Main Tank needs to hand enmity over and fall back for heals. Now you’re starting to look like a tank, but we have quite a few more abilities to pick up before we’re truly ready.

Paladin Levels 11-30

Hoping for more stuns? You’re in luck! Low Blow (Role Action, Lv. 12) offers a 5 second stun with a 25 second cooldown for those quick pauses mid-battle. You also pick up a great initiator ability, Shield Lob (Lv. 15) – which smacks faces up to 15 yalms away with 120 potency. It’s not the most damaging ability, but it grants you more enmity on target and is perfect for picking up enemies you missed with your AoE. If you forget your tank stance, pop it on and lob your shield before your party notices.

Also at Level 15, you get Provoke (Role Action) for those moments when you want all the enmity. All the enmity. It has a 25 yalm range and a 30 second cooldown – but you only need to use it once to make almost any enemy prioritize you above all others. Interject (Role Action, Lv. 18) can be used to interrupt targets mid-cast for actions with a 30 second cooldown. But be advised, it doesn’t work on all targets for all actions. Don’t bet your life on it and feel out which fights allow for it. Generally, it won’t work on trial bosses, for instance.

Rage of Halone (Lv. 26) is another combo-able weaponskill, which deals 100 potency base damage and combos with Riot Blade to peak at 350 potency. It’s a brutal hit, and coming at the end of a three ability combo (Fast Blade->Riot Blade->Rage of Halone) makes it especially potent to whittling down your foes.

A Paladin in FFXIV using the Spirits Within ability
Unleashing the Spirits Within (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

An especially special ability, Spirits Within (Lv. 30) has a unique HP based mechanic for use. It starts at 100 potency for damage, but the closer your HP is to max, the more damage it does – up to 370 potency max. It also restores a little MP, because why not.

By level 30, you should also have completed the Main Story Quest line up to Sylph-management and the Gladiator Class Quest line up to The Rematch. The nall that’s left is to complete Paladin’s Pledge, and you’ll earn the Soul of the Paladin and embark on your most noble quest. Now it’s time to kick this tank into high gear.

Paladin Levels 31-50

Keep your enemies at Arm’s Length (Role Action, Lv. 32) to prevent most knockback and draw-in effects for 6s. This ability also slows enemies 20% when they hit the “barrier” it forms, and the slow lasts 15s – great for giving yourself some space.

Ready to be a better tank? Sheltron (Lv. 35) and Sentinel (Lv. 38) are key Paladin abilities that provide a massive amount of survival to your toolkit. The former blocks almost all incoming attacks for 6s, and costs 50 Oath Gauge points. The latter reduces damage taken by 30% and lasts 15 seconds. Chaining Sheltron with Sentinel or Rampart can give your healers plenty of time to catch up on healing you, and keep you in the fight long after you should have fallen beneath the crushing tide of damage.

Prominence (Lv. 40) is another AoE attack that hits all nearby enemies with a base 100 potency attack. You can combo into it from Total Eclipse for a 220 potency AoE that restores some MP. It’s a great way to whittle away at everything around you and keep yourself at the top of the enmity list.

Next, you’ll pick up a few utility abilities. At Level 45 you can Cover for a party member, taking all damage directed at them for 12s. This costs 50 Oath Gauge points and can only be used on party members within 10 yalms. Also, as with most abilities of this nature, it doesn’t trigger on all attack types. You can’t save your party member from a raid wipe ability, for instance. And as the yang to Cover’s yin, you can Shirk (Role Action, Lv. 48) 25% of your enmity to a target party member in a pinch. If you’re Main Tanking, this is the way to queue up the Off Tank while you fall back to heal. Just make sure they know its coming.

A Paladin in FFXIV using the Circle of Scorn ability
Summoning a Circle of Scorn (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Wrapping up the A Realm Reborn abilities, at Level 50 you unlock Circle of Scorn and Hallowed Ground. The Circle of Scorn is an AoE that delivers a base attack of 120 potency to nearby enemies while also slapping them with a DoT of 35 potency for 15s. Follow up with a Total Eclipse->Prominence combo for a noteworthy amount of AoE damage. Hallowed Ground renders you impervious to most attacks for 10s, and can be used like Sheltron to buy your healers time to catch up on your health reserves.

You’re a right royal Paladin tank now. But you have a ways yet to go to truly master the class. Time to set off into the snowy world of the Heavensward expansion.

Paladin Levels 51-60

Heavensward Actions

Your journey through Coerthas will teach you Goring Blade (Lv. 54) in short order, a single-target attack with a base potency of 100 that combos with Riot Blade for 390 potency and a DoT of 85 potency for 21s. It’s like Rage of Halone’s big, damage-saturated brother.

A Paladin in FFXIV using the Divine Veil ability
Preparing for healing with Divine Veil (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Divine Veil (Lv. 56) is a great tool for keeping yourself and your party alive, as it creates a 30s window where any HP recovery via healing magic cast by yourself or a party member will create a protective barrier on all party members within 15 yalms. The barrier lasts 30s in turn, and prevents damage to the tune of 10% of the party member’s maximum HP. Note that the effect will end if additional HP is recovered via healing magic. This means it’s ideal for when your healers have fallen but the boss is almost down.

At Level 58 you get Clemency, which is a single-target heal costing 2,000 MP for 1,200 potency. And it also heals you for 50% of the HP restored on target if the target is a party member. So you’ve got a pocket heal of 1,200 on self or 1,200 healing for a party member with 600 bouncing back to you.

Lastly, you earn some Royal Authority (Lv. 60) which is an upgrade to Rage of Halone that delivers a single-target attack with 100 base potency. Like it’s predecessor, it combos with Riot Blade for 550 potency and adds 3 stacks of Sword Oath for 15s once you earn the Sword Oath Trait at Lv. 76. Now you have some options for a Riot Blade combo: more damage now with Royal Authority, or more damage over time with Goring Blade. As for Sword Oath, never fear – we’ll cover that in Shadowbringers!

For now, it’s time to stoke the fires of rebellion in Stormblood.

Paladin Levels 61-70

Stormblood Actions

Right out of the gate, you’re helping your team with Intervention (Lv. 62), which reduces a target party member’s damage taken by 10% for 6s and costs 50 Oath Gauge points. You can also throw another measure of damage reduction their way if you have either Rampart or Sentinel active – 50% of the damage reduction effect of the active ability.

In keeping with the “holy warrior” theme of the Paladin, Holy Spirit (Lv. 64) is a quick cast (1.5s), long range (25 yalms) 350 potency damage slam that burns 2,000 MP in the casting. You may notice this is the second Paladin ability (after Clemency) to cost MP. That’s going to become important when you pick up the next Stormblood ability….

Requiescat (Lv. 68) is a unique ability like Spirits Within, except that it deals more damage the more MP you have. It starts with a base potency of 150 and increases to 550 as your MP reserves near maximum. As an added bonus, for 12s it increases your attack and healing magic potency by 50% if your MP at the time of casting is 80% or higher, and also allows spells to be cast immediately during that window.

A Paladin in FFXIV using the Passage of Arms ability
Defending with Passage of Arms (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Last of the Stormblood abilities, Passage of Arms (Lv. 70) increases your block rate to 100% and shields party members in a cone behind for 85% of most damage sources being inflicted. This shield lasts 18s,to you have plenty of time to coax your cat-like DPS over to hide behind your shield. Note that the effect will end if you use another action, move, or even turn slightly.

Now that you’ve saved Ala Mhigo, turn your eyes toward the First. We’re Riding Hooooooome into Shadowbringers.

Paladin Levels 71-80

Shadowbringers Actions

One brings Shadow, one brings Light. O Warrior of Darkness, hearken now.

Holy Circle (Lv. 72) is an AoE that costs 2,000 MP to a 250 potency attack on all nearby enemies. Nothing exceptional here, just your most potent AoE so far.

Intervene (Lv. 74) causes you to rush the target up to 15 yalms away, slamming them with a 200 potency attack. This ability can store two charges, so you can follow it up to dash back out of harm’s way toward another target. Note that it cannot be executed while bound. You can’t use it to escape an enemy that already has you pinned, for example.

At Level 76 you get Atonement, which is a mighty attack of 550 potency that can only be executed under the effect of Sword Oath. Generate Sword Oath stacks with Royal Authority then unleash Atonement. And it restores a bit of MP because it’s nice like that.

Gif of the Paladin ability Confiteor
Sundering the earth with Confiteor (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

Last in the list of Paladin abilities before Endwalker, Confiteor (Lv. 80) is an earth-shattering AoE that deals unaspected damage of 80 potency to a target and all the enemies within 5 yalms of it. You can only cast Confiteor while under the effect of Requiescat, and so potent is it’s strike that it will burn the Requiescat effect away before it’s withering flame. It also costs 2,000 MP, so make sure you haven’t drained your mana pool dry before whipping out this bad boy.

Become a High Grounder

Now you have the knowledge you need to hit the battlefield as a Paladin. Keep your Tank Stance active (if you’re the Main Tank), keep swinging your sword, and keep the enemies looking at you instead of your squishy, tasty DPS and Healers. As with all classes, make sure to keep up with your class quests.

Screenshot of a level 80 Paladin with puppy dog in FFXIV
80 PLD LFG (Image: Square Enix via HGG / Mitch Gentry)

And when all else fails, mitigate some damage. Either for yourself or others.

We hope you feel well-equipped and eager to begin a long and glorious career as a defender of the weak and blocker of massive damage. If you liked this guide and want more content like it, be sure to give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter. Questions, comments, or concerns? Voice them in the comments section below. 

Until next time, we’ll be fishing somewhere on the coast of Limsa Lominsa.

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