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#4: The Paladin Problem

.... None but the most evil would even want to buy the damned thing, and selling it only ensures that it will change hands, ....
Perhaps put it on the market to draw out potential buyers, who either assuredly evil or simply collectors of the macabre? (Play witch-hunter types more often than Paladins, myself)


The Demon Slayer
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Perhaps put it on the market to draw out potential buyers, who either assuredly evil or simply collectors of the macabre? (Play witch-hunter types more often than Paladins, myself)
Most collectors of the macabre would probably be neutral in alignment (and depending on the rules you're working with, they can use evil weapons without them inflicting a penalty like they would if a good character tried to wield them). Course, if word got out among certain evil cultists that some collector was in possession of an evil ritual weapon, I wouldn't put it past them to try to either convert or kill the guy for the weapon in question.
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On a related note, in games that cover the entire role-playing experience (not just tactical skirmish), please, *please* call out the artillery for your Lawful Good characters, even just once and just for a cut-scene.

Case in point: After adventuring in an evil temple in a nearby temple, our group returned to town where the party's (virtuous, self-sacrificing) paladin PC brought up the nearby evil with the local priest. The priest, alarmed, gave the call to all available knights: within 24 hours a dozen (presumably high-level) paladins in shining armor had assembled, and they nuked the evil temple back to the stone age ... The chaotic selfish party members gaped, as they realized just how much power the paladin PC actually (at least potentially) had at his fingertips. Do it once, at the right time for the right reasons, and you'll get your players seeing the paladin in a different light.
This is one of the reasons I dislike alignment systems in games. People tend to get caught up either on the stereotypical assumption, or arguing what they can get away with.

I'm also frequently surprised by how many players in fantasy games play characters who are, really, nothing but hobo mercenaries who kill and steal for a living. Once something potentially gets in the way of making a profit, it's considered disruptive. Paladins, really, don't fit in a group where the objective is to kill monsters and steal their stuff. But that isn't a problem with paladins, it's a problem of communication in the group.

Likewise, a young halfling on a quest to destroy an evil ring has no place in a group whose goal is killing and looting. Or a peasant boy who finds out he's the last in a line of warriors, whose father betrayed their order and is now the evil emperor's right-hand. Characters who have goals beyond profit are always more interesting than the stereotypical rogue whose player thinks it's a good idea to steal from other party members or insists on selling a defeated villain's possessions.

It's important to clear all of this up before the campaign starts. If one player is going into the game thinking it'll be about epic quests and defeating evil forces, while the rest are up for gathering riches and serving their own desires, that one player is going to have a hard time, regardless of the class he chooses.

There are plenty of reasons not to just go selling an artifact of evil magic. Like, for example, the fact it's an artifact of evil magic. Leaving aside issues about profiting from evil, would a sensible group of adventurers leave such a weapon in the hands of a merchant? Of course not! There are easier ways for adventurers to make money than creating a market for stolen evil artifacts.

Pig with Pen

King of the Potato People
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The column said:
Also, I've never seen a coherent definition of Lawful. Either it is used as a synonym of Good — which is pointless — or it's used as a substitute for sanity and/or organization — which does not bode well for Chaotic characters.
Lawful alignment is legal positivism, you obey and don't judge the merits of the law for a variety of reasons. One reason cited often ist upholding social order. I'm pretty sure it says as much in less fancy speak about "lawful" in AD&D 2nd edition or so, but I can't check, don't have any D&D books left (and those were all in German). This would also, I think, describe the "lawful neutral" position on the alignment matrix.

From there the moral filter applies. A "good" person is optimistic about the law, the application of the law and the institutions dispensing the law. Changing the law, if deemed necessary, happens by lawful process. Also, for "good" persons law works as a constraint on moral action since grievances must be addressed within the law if not through the law. An "evil" person will exploit the law (and its loopholes) for his own advantage and maybe try to influence the legal system to further his agenda in a lawful if reprehensible way. Grievances are no concern of "evil" persons unless it's their own grievance. Obviously the moral filter applies to other questions also, such as being socially aware and helping other people in need, but there is no axis in the D&D alignment scheme dedicated to this concept. I guess, it is lumped together with the more general "good-neutral-bad" axis.

If I recall correctly D&D is somewhat relativistic with regards to the foundation of lawfulness, i. e. two sets of law can be opposed but both can have lawful followers, but universal with regards to goodness, i. e. one of the sets of law is "evil" and the other one is "good" according to some external point of judgment (i. o. w. the point of view of the player group).

Where does this put the paladin? I guess the paladin is grounded in his lawfulness against the law of his order and in his goodness against the expectations of the player group. Thus we have one in-game and one out-of-game foundation. This needs to be made explicit before play. It rarely is and I guess that's the whole matter of the issue, which leads to clashes of expectations.


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Hello everyone. Between work travel, family illness (everyone is better now) and losing track of the posting schedule, I missed that this has been on-line for the better part of a week. It looks like I hit an interesting note and I'm glad there has been some discussion.

From a roleplaying perspective, this concept works great, especially in games where balance isn't an issue. However, in any circumstance where the designers gave the paladin a boon in exchange for the behavioral constraints, you're probably going to have problems. E. G. Druids wearing metal.
No argument, per se. However, from a design perspective, I have found that a RP constraint for a mechanical benefit rarely works out as truly balanced.

Paladins don't ruin games, people with silly ideas of what "lawful good" and "honorable" mean ruin games.
Most of these people do not play Paladins, they kneejerk react against people who want to play Paladins.
This entire column, in my opinion, is horribly misguided. Paladins don't need to change, a certain segment of players need to work on their attitude.
And yes, I have seen players who play Paladins like total assbuckets. However, all their OTHER characters are also played like total assbuckets. Whatever could the common factor be? (HINT: It isn't the Paladin.)
Please forgive a little bit of quote manipulation; however, I felt the need to address this. I wasn't trying to say that the class deserves ALL the hate. Merely, I was looking at why so many people have issues with the Paladin based on my experience and what can be done about it. In truth, my preferred solution is to remove the ass-hat players from my game; however, I rarely have that freedom where I live now. So, if I can't make the mountain come to me, I must needs go to the mountain.

To those that shared wonderful examples (I'm looking at you, estarriol), thank you. That is exactly what I was trying to get across.

I appreciate the feedback, in all forms.
Paladins can be fun. I mean Buffy's a paladin isn't she? And she doesn't spoil the party (at least not until after she has died for the second time after which she does get a bit whiny).
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The best example of Paladin is: The Deeds of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. This also shows why Paladin should be a Prestige Class, instead of a starting class.
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