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Paladins: Doing what's right vs doing what's correct


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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mdt wrote:

My own feeling is this.

A Paladin is going to uphold local laws for as long as he can do without it violating his moral code of Good. Why? Even harsh laws still work out better for the common people than chaos. War, which is required to drag down an existing law and government, always results in chaos which will lead to a LOT of innocents being hurt. Mass raping and pillaging, forced enlistments, death on and off the battlefield.

No single Paladin is going to take it in his head to start a war on his own. If the laws and rulers become so bad that the Paladin doesn't feel like he can continue even tacitly supporting the structure, he's not going to go foment rebellion by himself. He's going to go get every paladin he can find, and they're going to have a conference on 'WHAT TO DO ABOUT KINGDOM A'. And it's going to be a very long drawn out hashing out, and it's going to involve higher members of church clergy. Then as a united front, they'll move forward.

You're singing my tune.


jupistar wrote:


Yes, I agree. We already established that a rightful ruler implies a good and just ruler. However, now we get into some gray area. Kings were considered "rightful rulers" in medieval times and in most fantasy settings, so you can't assume that just because the people disagree with the King, the King isn't a rightful ruler.

Well, in medieval times witch hunting was also considered rightful but a paladin who tied up some girl and threw her into a lake to see if she'd float would fall.

But that's the thing - just because they are considered "rightful rulers" does not mean they actually are, just like how the "rightful treatment" of suspected witches aren't acceptable to a paladin. If the people want to get rid of the king, the paladin might serve them. Of course he can't go on a personal vendetta against the king without the people's consent - that far I agree. He's free to influence them to throw of their shackles of oppression though.

stringburka wrote:
I don't see a whole lot of conflict, but I do see places where a person has to apply a common sense understanding to the text. The alignment system is not meant to be a psychology textbook or written with legal precision. Instead, it's meant to push an idea and understanding....

Well, with the number of alignment threads I think we have evidence enough of some heavy conflict. Good and evil are easier to grasp because they essentially work out to altruism and egoism respectively, but law and chaos are combinations of so many different things it's not really relevant. Take for example "monks must be lawful because they go through strict training". At the same time, they can be as widespread as "from battle-minded ascetics to self-taught brawlers" - while I can see lawful brawlers, when I think brawler, "working to uphold tradition and law" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. At the same time, barbarians cannot be lawful - but I can very well see a barbarian that puts great value to being honorable, to keeping with the tradition of his people, and to put the best for his clan before the best for himself.

Quote:
Why? Even harsh laws still work out better for the common people than chaos.

Arbitrary laws are chaotic. Harsh laws are evil. Laws have no more validity than the authority that makes and enforces them.

I think there's an issue with the naming of the alignment actually. The alignment is called "lawful", but that doesn't really fit with the description - it doesn't really empathize law - more, it empathizes order and coherency over time. Personally, I would much have preferred if we had "order" and "freedom" as opposites, or "collectivistic" and "individualistic", or something like that. It would be easier to make them coherent.

Regards, the anarchist paladin


EDIT:

mdt wrote:
No single Paladin is going to take it in his head to start a war on his own.

While I agree in principle, it depends on how you see the world too. For many a paladin, an unjust ruler (the definition of "unjust" may vary) is already waging a war against it's own people - and going to arms to defend it isn't starting a war, it's self defense. An escalation of violence always have to be considered carefully, to be sure, but it's not aggression to defend the oppressed from the oppressors.

And there's other ways than open war to make unjust rulers fall. One doesn't always have to escalate the violence either - the rulers tend to do that for you. A paladin should use violence only in defense of itself or others, and not more than necessary - a paladin that see oppression and instantly kills the oppressors without regarding the circumstances will no doubt lead to suffering. No emotion, yet peace. Instead, a paladin will work in non-violent ways where possible; strikes, blockades, and massive protests that makes just the threat of violence enough to hinder the enforcers of the unjust ruler from acting. If they do act, the paladin will of course defend the people to the best of his ability.
EDIT:

mdt wrote:
No single Paladin is going to take it in his head to start a war on his own.

While I agree in principle, it depends on how you see the world too. For many a paladin, an unjust ruler (the definition of "unjust" may vary) is already waging a war against it's own people - and going to arms to defend it isn't starting a war, it's self defense. An escalation of violence always have to be considered carefully, to be sure, but it's not aggression to defend the oppressed from the oppressors.

And there's other ways than open war to make unjust rulers fall. An unjust ruler is dependent on obedient servitors, unless of such great personal power - say a lich - that it itself can rule the whole land without sentient servants. One doesn't always have to escalate the violence either - the rulers tend to do that for you. A paladin should use violence only in defense of itself or others, and not more than necessary - a paladin that see oppression and instantly kills the oppressors without regarding the circumstances will no doubt lead to suffering. No emotion, yet peace. Instead, a paladin will work in non-violent ways where possible; strikes, blockades, and massive protests that makes just the threat of violence enough to hinder the enforcers of the unjust ruler from acting. If they do act, the paladin will of course defend the people to the best of his ability.

And under no circumstances should the paladin take upon itself some sort of holy mandate of the people, lest the paladin be as unjust as the ruler the people want to overthrow. At all times the paladin should be a servant of the people, not a glorious leader. The strive for glory is a path towards hate, and hate leads to the dark side.

Regards, the anarchist paladin

EDIT: There's a reason that I often refer to the star wars jedi order. I think many of the jedi make fine examples of paladins. But hey, even the lawful-stupid-good Lee Adama of battlestar galactica (SPOILER ALERT) defied a neutral good ruler at several points, promising a terrorist-branded criminal that president Laura Roslin would arrange for a new election, and defying commander Adama when martial law was in effect.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Stringburka wrote:

Arbitrary laws are chaotic. Harsh laws are evil. Laws have no more validity than the authority that makes and enforces them.

I think there's an issue with the naming of the alignment actually. The alignment is called "lawful", but that doesn't really fit with the description - it doesn't really empathize law - more, it empathizes order and coherency over time. Personally, I would much have preferred if we had "order" and "freedom" as opposites, or "collectivistic" and "individualistic", or something like that. It would be easier to make them coherent.

Wrong, arbitrary laws are not (necessarily) chaotic. Laws that change every week are chaotic. They are simply arbitrary by some definition of arbitrary (yours or mine, I suspect both are different).

It is illegal to sell alcahol on Sunday. This is an arbitrary law. You must drive on the right hand side of the road. This is an arbitrary law. There is no driving need for a law such as this (one is enforcing religious principles on everyone, the other is an arbitrary choosing of one side of the road over the other). Having arbitrary laws is not chaotic, because the arbitrary laws, once made, are not changed every week.

If a law was 'You shall not wear the same color clothes as the king under pain of fine' then that would be a chaotic law, nobody would know what the king was wearing this week. Unless, of course, the king posted a month in advance what color he was wearing this week. Or he always wore purple because it's royal. At that point, the chaotic law transforms into an arbitrary but non-chaotic law, because there's order and structure to it.

A chaotic law is NOT an evil law. The law "Everyone must clap and say 'Hokum!' whenever two people say the same thing, no matter what else is going on" is a chaotic law, it disrupts business, plays, drivers, school, etc. But it is not EVIL. An Evil law is 'You will beat your wife and children for 10 minutes each day with a 2 inch thick wooden rod, before you leave the house'. This is organized torture of innocent people.


mdt wrote:
Wrong, arbitrary laws are not (necessarily) chaotic. Laws that change every week are chaotic. They are simply arbitrary by some definition of arbitrary (yours or mine, I suspect both are different).

Arbitrary actions are a trademark of chaotic behaviour. I meant arbitrary in relation to morals and/or societal functions. "You may not sell alcohol on sundays" is to me arbitrary and that arbitrariness is a chaotic trait (though it's reliance on tradition is a lawful trait). You may be right that arbitrary laws aren't chaotic, but whatever. I concede the point.

Quote:
A chaotic law is NOT an evil law. The law "Everyone must clap and say 'Hokum!' whenever two people say the same thing, no matter what else is going on" is a chaotic law, it disrupts business, plays, drivers, school, etc. But it is not EVIL. An Evil law is 'You will beat your wife and children for 10 minutes each day with a 2 inch thick wooden rod, before you leave...

I did not say it was! Harsh laws are evil. Well, in that respect, I meant unnecessarily harsh laws. Imprisoning people for swearing is a harsh law, and a paladin has a solid case in seeing that as evil (hurt and oppression). Imprisoning people for murder isn't that harsh in most paladins' minds, I would think.

Note that several chaotic societies - such as drow and orcs - might have very clear laws. I do not know if the laws are deemed chaotic due to their arbitrariness in relation to morals (it's okay to kill a house full of children, as long as no noble can survive and tell about it) or if it's seen as a lawful trait in an otherwise chaotic society.

EDIT: Basically, my point was that there's no REAL reason a paladin has to view an orcish chieftain saying "I've got better muscles than you so I'll rule over you all" and a human king saying "I've got a better bloodline than you so I'll rule over you all". Both may be seen as cases of oppression.


Neo2151 wrote:

Just a situation and a question for you GM-types out there:

Let's say a person is the target of some evil plot and is framed for a murder. You're a paladin, and you know absolutely that the person in question is innocent, but the evidence is so stacked against them that your testimony is not enough to save them from an execution sentence. You also know that the court in question is a fair one and is not corrupt itself.
In this type of scenario, the paladin faces a tough choice: Either save the innocent and go against legitimate authority, or allow an innocent to die for a crime they did not commit.

What, in most people's opinions, is the correct path to follow here, and in other situations where doing the right thing is also doing the wrong thing? How would you not break your code either way? (Before you say anything, I absolutely know GMs who would allow such a scenario!)

This is where the lawful part comes in. If he/she know without a doubt they are innocent but the lands/lord they are sworn to uphold find them so, the paladin can do little without risking his paladinhood.

Andoran

Rojosama wrote:


This is where the lawful part comes in. If he/she know without a doubt they are innocent but the lands/lord they are sworn to uphold find them so, the paladin can do little without risking his paladinhood.

I'd like to note that I actually agree with this. Well, more accurately I think a Paladin in this situation is screwed and is gonna need an Atonement no matter what. The key term here is 'sworn to uphold.' If the Paladin is actually liege-sworn to the guy who presided at the trial or sworn to uphold the law (as a policeman-type, say) then he has to uphold it no matter what because he swore an oath. My previous answers are predicated on no such oath or promise having been made.

I'll post a more complete response to some of the things posted later, but i though that needed to be noted.


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It seems to me that a paladin would have to include a limitation in his oath to a liege lord that indicated that his obedience was conditional upon his orders not violating his existing code as a paladin. If the liege lord could not accept that then no oath of allegiance would be taken.

If he is sworn to a liege lord before becoming a paladin I'm not even sure it would be possible to become a paladin since he's already taken an oath which may prevent the fulfilling of his code. In my world there are fighter/clerics called paladins who use this combination of powers to get around the requirement to be lawful good (or to serve a deity who cannot have lawful good followers). These seem more likely candidates for such service.

I don't believe that breaking the innocent man out of jail does constitute a chaotic act either. The paladin code requires them to respect legitimate authority. Respect does not mean obey regardless of the prevailing situation. Being lawful implies obedience to authority, but the paladin has sworn to uphold a higher authority than mortal law.

In any event a paladin falls for violating his code or committing an evil act. The first line of the PRD's description is "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life." His code commands that he helps those who are in need (as the accused clearly is). So the paladin must protect the innocent man accused of these crimes.

Further he is commanded to respect legitimate authority. So he must attempt to appease that authority, reason with it, or take the punishment upon himself. Ultimately preventing that authority from unwittingly committing an atrocity is an act of respect. If it became known that the legitimate authority had executed an innocent man, confidence and trust in it would be greatly eroded perhaps destroyed all together. If the paladin can spare that authority from such a fate by taking the responsibility on himself that seems both lawful and good to me.

Andoran

Y'know I'm not gonna do a long post. I'm just gonna say this:

Read AM HELLKNIGHT's post on what being Lawful means. That's what being Lawful means, both to me and in all the published material I've seen presented.

Read Finarin's spost immediately above. That's what I've been trying to say the whole time.

If you still disagree, I'm never going to convince you otherwise and (more importantly) you've profoundly redefined what a Lawful alignment means in your games to the point where people (or at least Paladins) have to be Lawful Stupid to abide by it, and where it no longer properly represents either reality, or any great number of fictional characters.

And if this kind of mechanic isn't reflecting either reality or good fictional characters and thematics any more, what's the point?


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rojosama wrote:


This is where the lawful part comes in. If he/she know without a doubt they are innocent but the lands/lord they are sworn to uphold find them so, the paladin can do little without risking his paladinhood.

I'd like to note that I actually agree with this. Well, more accurately I think a Paladin in this situation is screwed and is gonna need an Atonement no matter what. The key term here is 'sworn to uphold.' If the Paladin is actually liege-sworn to the guy who presided at the trial or sworn to uphold the law (as a policeman-type, say) then he has to uphold it no matter what because he swore an oath. My previous answers are predicated on no such oath or promise having been made.

I'll post a more complete response to some of the things posted later, but i though that needed to be noted.

Dave Duncan had several oaths that swordsmen could swear in the

Seventh Sword series of books. I recall the first oath was very vague


I found it! I also recommend the books and think everyone should buy them

My review of the oaths in the book!

"The first oath," he said.

The youth's eyes flickered again to Wallie's sword hilt. Reluctantly he drew his own again. "I, Nnanji, swordsman of the Second, do swear to obey your commands and to be faithful, saving only mine honor. In the name of the Goddess."

The onlookers fell silent; something was not right.

Now Wallie realized that the first oath was too frail for his needs; it was used mainly to impress civilians, as when a small-town mayor might hire a mercenary to clean up a nest of brigands. In this context it was little more than a public acknowledgment of Wallie's higher rank. It reserved the oath-taker's honor, and that could mean anything.

"And the second oath also."

That was much more serious, the oath of tutelage. Young Nnanji's eyes bulged, then seemed to count the intruder's facemarks once more. Slowly he sank to his knees, offering his sword in both hands. He lowered it with a worried frown.

"I am already sworn, my lord."

Of course he was, and for Wallie to demand his oath was mortal insult to Nnanji's present mentor, whatever his rank, and that must lead to bloodshed. For Nnanji to swear to another mentor, moreover, was technically betrayal, although few would have argued the point with a Seventh.

Wallie put what he hoped was a stern expression on Shonsu's face—uneasily aware that it was probably a terrifying grimace. "What rank is your mentor?"

"A Fourth, my lord."

Wallie drew his sword, and a loud rattle of shingle announced that the priests and healers were leaving.

"He can't even avenge you. Swear!"

The lad started to proffer his sword again, then again he lowered it. He stared up at Wallie with tortured eyes. His sword was junk, his yellow kilt had been washed to a threadbare beige, and he had patches on his boots, but he set his jaw in hopeless defiance.

Wallie was baffled. All he needed was a junior to second him in a duel and here he had run into a death-before-dishonor idealist. A mere Second talking back to a Seventh? The rank stupidity of such obstinacy suddenly infuriated him. He felt a blaze of anger. He heard an angry snarl . . . his arm moved . . .

He stopped it just in time—his sword an inch from Nnanji's neck. Nnanji had closed his eyes, waiting for it.

Wallie was horrified. What had happened there? He had very nearly—very nearly—lopped off the kid's head. Just for displaying courage? He moved the blade away, to a safe distance. Nnanji, evidently discovering that he was still alive, opened his eyes again warily.

But it was still a stand-off. Even that narrow escape had not wiped the sullen obstinacy off the lad's face, and Lord Shonsu of the Seventh obviously could not withdraw his demand. Being a highrank swordsman was not quite as simple as the demigod had made out. Hastily Wallie began to rummage through his new knowledge of the swordsmen's craft and he found an escape.

"Very well!" He gave the command for battle: "Blood needs be shed: declare your allegiance."

The kid's eyes bulged. "The third oath, my lord?"

"Do you know the words?"

Nnanji nodded vigorously. He did not ask for details, although in theory he could have done so. It was a life-saving solution to his scruples. "Yes, my lord," he said eagerly. Laying his sword at Wallie's feet, he prostrated himself totally on the shingle.

"I, Nnanji, do swear by my immortal soul and with no reservation to be true in all things to you, Shonsu, my liege lord, to serve your cause, to obey your commands, to shed my blood at your word, to die at your side, to bear all pain, and to be faithful to you alone for ever, in the names of all the gods."

Then he kissed Wallie's foot.

If that wasn't slavery, Wallie thought, then what was? The god had spoken true when he said that the swordsmen were addicted to fearsome oaths. He gave the reply: "I take you, Nnanji, as my vassal and liegeman in the names of all the gods."

Nnanji uttered a loud gasp of relief and scrambled to his knees. He picked up his sword in both hands and looked up expectantly. "Now you can order me to swear the second oath, my lord!"

Wallie almost laughed. Here he was trying to start a mortal combat, and this kid was tying him up in Jesuitic quibbling. Still, there had better be no ambiguous loyalties. "Vassal," he said solemnly, "swear to me the second oath."

Keeping pale eyes firmly fixed upon Wallie's, the lad swore: "I, Nnanji, swordsman of the Second, do take you, Shonsu, swordsman of the Seventh, as my master and mentor and do swear to be faithful, obedient, and humble, to live upon your word, to learn by your example, and to be mindful of your honor, in the name of the Goddess."

Wallie touched the sword and gave the formal reply: "I, Shonsu, swordsman of the Seventh, do accept you, Nnanji, swordsman of the Second, as my protégé and pupil, to cherish, protect, and guide in the ways of honor and the mysteries of our craft, in the name of the Goddess.

"Well done," he added cheerfully and helped him rise. Now he had a protégé as well as a sword. With a few clothes, he could even start to look the part.


Neo2151 wrote:
What, in most people's opinions, is the correct path to follow here, and in other situations where doing the right thing is also doing the wrong thing? How would you not break your code either way? (Before you say anything, I absolutely know GMs who would allow such a scenario!)

In my mind, A paladin believes in upholding the Law, and doing what is 'Good'.

If there is ever a conflict, then he sides with what is 'Good.'

After all... If he sides with Good, and saves the man's life and later proves him innocent.. then all is right in the world.

If he sides with Law and watches him die... No amount of 'proof' is gonna bring him back from the dead.

When all is aaid and done, he should save as many innocent people as he can.

However, if he DOES stage a jail break... He'd better be EXTRA careful that nobody gets killed... Those guards are just doing their duty after all ;)

ALSO, my favorite Paladin character by FAR... is Michael from the Dresden Books..

Just.. WOW. REALLY got me wanting to play one for this next kingmaker game ^_^

The perfect blend of being 'Good' without being 'Stupid'

All his decisions seems so noble, even when they dont' make sense to the athiest characters...


Off topic, just a little.

While obedience to laws is a lawful behavior, it is QUITE POSSIBLE to regularly engage in illegal activities (i.e., burglary, forgery, smuggling, etc.) and still be lawful. Because 'lawful' ALSO covers orderly behavior, discipline, and obedience to hierarchy... such as obtains in a well-run thieves' Guild.

That is, 'lawful'=/='legal.'

Which has some bearing on the paladin's conundrum from the original post...

While said paladin SHOULD exert every legal power possible in pursuit of proving the innocence of the accused before resorting to a jailbreak, if all else fails, the jailbreak being an illegal act is neither here nor there.

If it is the only way to preserve an innocent life, I submit that a paladin breaking the law is, in fact, engaging in an illegal action that remains lawful, by virtue of adhering to the paladins' code, and the divine duty that attends the divine powers with which s/he is graced. 'With great power comes great responsibility' and all that.

This is not cart blanch to ignore the rule of law; nor a ready excuse to indulge in vigilantism. However, the paladin is chosen to protect the innocent; it is the primary duty of paladins, before upholding the laws of men, which may fail in justice. A paladin is also required to preserve JUSTICE, which MAY BE represented by law... or not.

I would not, as a GM, make a paladin fall for breaking the law of the land when its administrators have failed in their discernment, or have fallen to corruption. I might not make one fall for allowing an innocent to be legally executed, depending on the circumstance... but I'd be MUCH more likely to inflict a fall for the latter offense than the former.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Y'know I'm not gonna do a long post. I'm just gonna say this:

Read AM HELLKNIGHT's post on what being Lawful means. That's what being Lawful means, both to me and in all the published material I've seen presented.

Read Finarin's spost immediately above. That's what I've been trying to say the whole time.

If you still disagree, I'm never going to convince you otherwise and (more importantly) you've profoundly redefined what a Lawful alignment means in your games to the point where people (or at least Paladins) have to be Lawful Stupid to abide by it, and where it no longer properly represents either reality, or any great number of fictional characters.

And if this kind of mechanic isn't reflecting either reality or good fictional characters and thematics any more, what's the point?

What you and others have been saying doesn't adequately address the points I've brought up. But I think you basically explain yourself well with the "it would then be Lawful Stupid". I suspect you simply don't like the position and therefore discard it and rationalize discarding it.

You're right, you probably won't convince me of this. Nor will you probably convince me that I'm "profoundly redefining" anything, either. In fact, it's my opinion that "profound redefinition" is exactly what you've done, so keep the exaggeratedly emotive rhetoric to yourself ("deep disservice", "vaguely insulting", et. al.). In fact, I think your distaste for what it means to be a Paladin according to the rules is so great it drives you to look for any alternate explanation you can, even if it's not sensible. You want Paladins that can act non-Paladin-like, because you think a Paladin's belief system is "stupid". But it's not. It's just different than yours.

Many, many deontologists live in this world and make a strong case for abiding by law and order, even when mistakes are made, because it leads to the greatest good. And many consquentialists admit (myself included) that behaving according to a personal, subjective conscience can lead to unintended and evil consequences. Why can't a Paladin have that same perspective? Why must Paladins be played according to your consequentialist philosophy? I've been keeping this argument on the track of a Lawful Good society so as to avoid equivocation, but I think it can be argued that a Paladin in a land like Cheliax is also bound to follow the law or declare the country an enemy state.

Further, I have no idea how my explanation about the behavior of a fictional and hypothetical Paladin (strange how that's not redundant) with a Lawful Good alignment can properly or improperly represent reality.

Also, I have very few examples where a fictional character in literature is defined as being a "Paladin". Was Michael Carpenter a Paladin? If so, how can I know that? Was Constantine a Paladin? If so, how can I know that?

Adherence to a Code is not at issue. The question is two-fold, does a Lawful Good person do Chaotic Good things? And, does the Code support breaking the law of a Lawful Good society for Chaotic Good purposes? It doesn't matter to which law you appeal, it's certainly not codified anywhere, unless you (the player or DM) do it yourself. The best you have is the Code in the CRB and that clearly states you respect authority and honor tradition and help those in need when that help does not lead to chaotic results. Breaking a prisoner out of jail violates all three.

You admit that the behavior (means) is chaotic, just with good intent (you claim Lawful ends). But the Code of Conduct is all about behavior and much less about results. Your various justifications (not legitimate authority, appeals to different authority, etc..) are all just ways of masking what you've already admitted: it's a chaotic act.

You might as well just say the Paladin is able to act dishonorably to save innocent life; that he can lie, cheat, and use poison (to knock someone out); that he can act quite unPaladin-like to achieve his goals. In fact, consider the question: is there anything a Paladin cannot do to save innocent life other than killing other innocents? If there is nothing or very little, then perhaps you really ought to rethink your position on what the Code of Conduct means.

Of course, that also means that no Paladin ever considers himself subject to the laws of any land, which of course, begs the question again as to what really separates him pragmatically from the chaotic good individual who may also operate according to some personal ethic. I can imagine a world where countries constantly have to worry about Paladins breaking into their jailhouses in the name of Goodness and springing prisoners. They could make it their life's work, to free the innocent, setting up Underground Railroads and all that.

"Your Majesty, another Paladin broke another prisoner out jail."
"Again? That makes 10 this month alone. This is an epidemic. Remind me again, aren't they supposed to be good and law-abiding citizens? Aren't they supposed to be about an ordered society?"
"Yeah, but this is their idea of law and order and goodness."
"How?!?!?"
"Because, in their minds, we're breaking their God(dess)'s law by punishing people they've deemed are innocent."
"I see. Why did my ancestors ever allow that church and its agents in our country? I mean, it sounds like they rule us and not the other way around."
"Because they're popular and would be difficult to defeat."
"So what? If they can't abide by our laws and our rule and respect our sovereignty inside our borders, then they're the enemy."
"Yes, your majesty."
"I think we've had enough with Paladin arrogance - expel that church. This is probably going to be a messy situation, but it ought to be done for the good of the nation. Maybe the other countries have also gotten fed up with Paladin interference in matters of state."

==========

It's fine if you don't want to argue the point anymore, but quitting the argument with objective-seeming claims to my "ruining the game" and "incorrectly interpreting" any of the rules is classless and is tinged with hubris. A simple, "I still disagree, but don't care to continue this anymore." would have been more appropriate and sufficient.


Alitan wrote:

Off topic, just a little.

While obedience to laws is a lawful behavior, it is QUITE POSSIBLE to regularly engage in illegal activities (i.e., burglary, forgery, smuggling, etc.) and still be lawful. Because 'lawful' ALSO covers orderly behavior, discipline, and obedience to hierarchy... such as obtains in a well-run thieves' Guild.

Orderly behavior and discipline and obedience to heirarchy = legal behavior. The question is: what is meant by "legal" and "law", here? You're simply saying that the thieves follow a different law and what's illegal to the populace at large (according to their law) is "legal" according to the thieves world.

Keep in mind that a theives guild becomes an "enemy state", in effect. By establishing their own laws and ignoring the laws of the country and by establishing their own ruling hierarchy and ignoring the ruling heirarchy of the country, they've formed their own autonomous country within the country and they are enemies of each other. In my opinion, the chances of finding a Lawful Good rogue here is very small (because those of Lawful Good alignment are not likely to be attracted to an organization that preys upon other people), but Lawful Neutral and Lawful Evil, are more likely, I would think.


Finarin Panjoro wrote:

I don't believe that breaking the innocent man out of jail does constitute a chaotic act either. The paladin code requires them to respect legitimate authority. Respect does not mean obey regardless of the prevailing situation. Being lawful implies obedience to authority, but the paladin has sworn to uphold a higher authority than mortal law.

In any event a paladin falls for violating his code or committing an evil act. The first line of the PRD's description is "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life." His code commands that he helps those who are in need (as the accused clearly is). So the paladin must protect the innocent man accused of these crimes.

"Respect does not mean obey regardless of the prevailing situation" - agreed.

Like wise, "protect innocent life" does not mean "Protect innocent life regardless of the prevailing situation."

By way of extreme example, "Protecting one innocent life, but sacrificing one hundred" is a bad and wrong choice. Read below to see what I mean when I talk about "prevailing situation" of protecting the innocent.

Finarin Panjoro wrote:
Further he is commanded to respect legitimate authority. So he must attempt to appease that authority, reason with it, or take the punishment upon himself. Ultimately preventing that authority from unwittingly committing an atrocity is an act of respect. If it became known that the legitimate authority had executed an innocent man, confidence and trust in it would be greatly eroded perhaps destroyed all together. If the paladin can spare that authority from such a fate by taking the responsibility on himself that seems both lawful and good to me.

Ultimately, usurping that authority's right to rule is *not* an act of respect, it's one of hubris and offense. It is, in effect, an act of war. Would a good authority want to do the right thing? Of course, but that's his judgment to make, not the Paladin's. But even a neutral or evil authority has the right to make that judgment.

Two main points and I'll end:

1) Innocent people are punished in this country all the time, and while confidence and trust is not high, especially in certain demographics where propaganda feeds rebellious spirits, Law and Order do prevail in this society, for the most part.

2) To understand the reasons Paladins (and all deontologists/Lawful people) do not behave this way is because they understand and respect the law of unintended consequences.

  • If my Paladin successfully breaks prisoner X out of jail and gets away with it, that sets precedent for others. My actions demonstrate vulnerability of the system and the lack of reprisal gives hope. My brother, the mass murderer, might be returned to me successfully, if I can stage a daring rescue. The Paladin of Iomedae did it.
  • My actions foment unrest as the country is unable to capture me or the "murderer" in my care. Peasants revolt at the unfair treatment Iomedaeans receive, because obviously the rulers aren't trying hard enough.
  • My actions and the actions of other Paladins in usurping authority, begin a chain reaction that leads to open hostility between the host nation and the church.
  • My actions erode the faith of the people in the justice system from the opposite direction, "Wha' 'oes it ma'er i' da King's me' capcher the bloke, he's prolly just gonna 'scape 'nyway. The' Aymedayns ar tryn' ta roon dis c#!&ry."

That's what the sort of thing they believe is the evil of a short-sighted Chaotic Good decision. All of those things can lead to loss of innocent life and likely more than one. Order is the Good that the sacrifice of one innocent is weighed against. You may not personally see it as that great of a Good, but when you come out of the dark frontier, you understand that Order is all that keeps people from each other's throats.

Andoran

jupistar wrote:
You're right, you probably won't convince me of this. Nor will you probably convince me that I'm "profoundly redefining" anything, either. In fact, it's my opinion that "profound redefinition" is exactly what you've done, so keep the exaggeratedly emotive rhetoric to yourself ("deep disservice", "vaguely insulting", et. al.). In fact, I think your distaste for what it means to be a Paladin according to the rules is so great it drives you to look for any alternate explanation you can, even if it's not sensible. You want Paladins that can act non-Paladin-like, because you think a Paladin's belief system is "stupid". But it's not. It's just different than yours.

No. I love Michael Carpenter (an excellent example of a fictional Paladin), and believe him to be a truly good and righteous man with a profound code of honor he would never break, and a boundless well of forgiveness for others' faults. Michael's Catholic, for the record. I'm a Pagan. And not one of a particularly Judaeo-Christian belief structure, or belief in many of the Christian virtues, am far too practical to keep my word when dealing with truly bad people, and am probably the most vindictive person I know (including a belief that seeking horrible vengeance is not only practical, but often morally right and an admirable act). I am fully capable of understanding or supporting points of view widely divergent from my own in many ways.

Your interpretation's* problems, for me, lie in it's exclusion of every single fictional character who would otherwise make a perfect inspiration for a Paladin and it's requirement that Paladins universally bow completely to absolutely any authority that is not blatantly and immediately Evil even when that goes against all their other beliefs. That's blind obedience of the kind that results in true atrocities rapidly, and the last thing a fearless champion of all things good should be doing. My objection is entirely in making the Paladin useless at dealing with entire categories of menace, and without the backbone to stand up for what their God tells them is right over secular authority.

The Paladin is made to (and, in every book and adventure I've seen them portrayed in, does) portray precisely the archetype I'm referring to, and which your interpretation makes impossible. And, BTW, that's why I say you're redefining it, because in every Pathfinder source I can find featuring Paladins they are acting in concert with what they believe is right, not necessarily the laws of the area they find themselves in. Look at the Pathfinder Tales section for some examples, or look through published adventures.

And for the record, I'm far more of a deontologist than I am a consequentialist**. I verge on CG for reasons having to do with the particular principles I espouse as absolute goods (freedom being key), not because I'm a consequentialist per se. And my Paladin argument has nothing to do with consequentialism, it's entirely deontological. External laws are meaningless, it's their God's and Code's laws which must always be followed, without regard for consequences whatsoever.

*As presented, anyway.

**I'm not actually either. I'm closer to aretological than anything, befitting my usual characterization of myself as NG, but that's neither here nor there.


i have to say deadman your actually stretching what he said with that last comment past what he said. you defined the court as just and fair. i have to agree with jupistar. the fact that you are taking a subjective stance alone is consequentalist. deontology doesn't care about your individual perspective. its whats absolutely right.

breaking people out of jail is wrong because if everyone broke people out of jail it would be chaos. whether or not you felt it was right.
you undermine the system. a system you agreed to. now if you didn't agree to follow the system because its unjust or evil so be it your not breaking your own laws. but if you live and abide by this places laws and even uphold them then you agreed to follow then and that they are right and just.

what if it was your own life you know your innocent but your proven guilty should you break yourself out from a deontologist point of view?
lawful is lawful.

Andoran

vidmaster wrote:
i have to say deadman your actually stretching what he said with that last comment past what he said. you defined the court as just and fair.

I'm not the OP, I didn't define anything. That said, I'm perfectly willing to go with that...but the conversation is no longer just about that articular hypothetical, it's about Paladin behavior in general, and what kind of behavior is appropriate for such a character.

vidmaster wrote:
i have to agree with jupistar. the fact that you are taking a subjective stance alone is consequentalist. deontology doesn't care about your individual perspective. its whats absolutely right.

As I understand it (and wikipedia agrees with me) deontological ethics are concerned with inviolable rules. "I will never let a man I believe is innocent die." is as valid a rule to live by as "I will never break a law." and one that Paladin's code, indeed, forces them to live by (so it's not just something they picked arbitrarily).

vidmaster wrote:

breaking people out of jail is wrong because if everyone broke people out of jail it would be chaos. whether or not you felt it was right.

you undermine the system. a system you agreed to. now if you didn't agree to follow the system because its unjust or evil so be it your not breaking your own laws. but if you live and abide by this places laws and even uphold them then you agreed to follow then and that they are right and just.

That's a valid deontological argument. It is not the only such valid argument, however.

And who said the Paladin agreed to follow these rules? The OP stipulated that they were fair, but never that the Paladin had previously agreed to abide by them no matter what. If the Paladin has made such an agreement, my opinion on the issue changes substantially (as I mentioned earlier in regards to oaths).

vidmaster wrote:
what if it was your own life you know your innocent but your proven guilty should you break yourself out from a deontologist point of view?

Probably less okay for most Paladins, but then, they're a self-sacrificing bunch. Someone might need to point out to him that he'd save someone else in this predicament before he'd be willing to save himself.

vidmaster wrote:
lawful is lawful.

Not precisely. Lawful means that you have a rigid code of behavior that you steadfastly uphold, and a general deference for authority, but what code and what authority vary between individual Lawful people or you could never have two Lawful nations go to war with each other.


Did you ever watch that corny movie, Beverly Hills Cop?

To start the movie, Detective Taggart was Lawful Good, Detective Rosewood was Neutral Good, and Axel Foley (Murpy's character) was Chaotic Good. By the end of the movie, Taggart's been seduced to Neutral Good and Rosewood is full-fledged Chaotic Good.

So, at the beginning, Taggart wouldn't break an innocent man out of jail. "I know he's innocent, but what can I do?" You get the impression that he was more LG due to fear of repercussions than out of any philosophical reasons. This is why he was so easily seduced. Rosewood, on the other hand, was already a latent CG character, he just had Taggart holding him back. Foley was all the motivation he needed to go nuts. Being CG is always promoted as more fun and less "stupid" than LG.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
...who would otherwise make a perfect inspiration for a Paladin and it's requirement that Paladins universally bow completely to absolutely any authority that is not blatantly and immediately Evil even when that goes against all their other beliefs...

Again, evidence of personal preference rears its head. I don't like rigid deontologists, either. But I recognize their existence in life and the legitimate place for them in this game. The Paladin was not based on all these characters you keep pointing at, but rather he was based on the honorable, rigidly-disciplined, righteous knight from the time of Charlemagne.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
And for the record, I'm far more of a deontologist than I am a consequentialist. I verge on CG for reasons having to do with the particular principles I espouse as absolute goods (freedom being key), not because I'm a consequentialist per se. And my Paladin argument has nothing to do with consequentialism, it's entirely deontological. External laws are meaningless, it's their God's and Code's laws which must always be followed, without regard for consequences whatsoever.

I don't see how any of that makes sense. You're either a deontologist or a consequentialist or somewhere in between. If you're a deontologist, you're Lawful, and it doesn't really matter from where you source your Laws (just as you claim the Paladin is), even if you source it from your own set of reasons. You can have a completely subjective, but rigid set of laws and be a deontologist (sorry vidmaster - law need not be objective, just rigid and inflexible to circumstance). But, I see you're back to claiming the act is not chaotic, but Lawful in accordance with the "legitimate authority" of his God. Whatever. I will respect you by not arguing the point anymore. I would just be repeating myself again.

Let me say this, though:

If you want to say that your Paladins abide by a different Law than the Law of the Land, you ought to:

1) Codify it somewhere. And, of course, it should harmoniously place the "Code of Conduct" into context. The CoC is probably only a useful guideline when attempting to write your Paladin laws. Without it, you're really just winging it when you say he's behaving Lawfully and that's inherently nonsensical.
2) Identify what traditions are honored, since they're clearly not the traditions of the land in which he finds himself.
3) Consider redefining chaos as being a subjective (insomuch that you're redefining Lawful to be a subjective thing); anything not adhering to his personal code. (See, the argument would go something like this:

  • a) The Paladin is opposed to societal disorder.
  • b) The Paladin believes that everyone should follow a common code of ethics or societal disorder will ensue.)
  • c) If everyone has their own code, then that obviously leads to a lack of societal order. From a, the Paladin is opposed to everyone having their own code.
  • d) If he is willing to ignore other codes of behavior, then from c he must believe his own code is the only one that truly matters.
  • e) If he believes that his is the only one that truly matters, then he would believe others should follow his code to achieve societal order. from c & d.
  • f) Thus, everyone else is wrong (from c) and the Paladin must accept societal chaos and even contribute to it by not conforming to anyone else's law.

Alternatively, we can say premise (a) does not obtain and the Paladin believes in societal chaos or we can simply redefine chaotic. Of course, one could argue that he can abide a little variation between his Code and others, but then that gets into some arbitrary issues regarding what is "little" variation and "great" variation, plus it ignores the variation of each person to each other. But if everyone else abides by one code, but the Paladin differs, doesn't that make him chaotic in respect to society? Well, of course, it does, but he doesn't care because he marches to the beat of a different drum and he stands outside the law, ugh... here I go again).


vidmaster wrote:

i have to say deadman your actually stretching what he said with that last comment past what he said. you defined the court as just and fair. i have to agree with jupistar. the fact that you are taking a subjective stance alone is consequentalist. deontology doesn't care about your individual perspective. its whats absolutely right.

breaking people out of jail is wrong because if everyone broke people out of jail it would be chaos. whether or not you felt it was right.
you undermine the system. a system you agreed to. now if you didn't agree to follow the system because its unjust or evil so be it your not breaking your own laws. but if you live and abide by this places laws and even uphold them then you agreed to follow then and that they are right and just.

what if it was your own life you know your innocent but your proven guilty should you break yourself out from a deontologist point of view?
lawful is lawful.

I'm not quite with you, though, I'm sorry. In a nutshell, a deontologist believes that if something is wrong, it's wrong all the time, not situationally. So, if it's wrong to lie, then it's always wrong to lie, even to save someone's life (though, that's an extreme, obviously). These moral "laws" can be self-reasoned and subjective or they can come from an external source and be objective. All that matters is that the deontologist consistently and faithfully apply them to the actions in his life, regardless of the situation. The problem with the Paladin that uses a "God" with no clear definition of laws codified anywhere as his basis for "Law", is that he's not compatible with any other system. He doesn't accept the social contract of any nation and he can't be trusted to behave in an orderly and lawful fashion from any other perspective than his own or that of his church. Thus he would be seen as a vigilante and any church teaching this sort of doctrine ("behave treasonously if the court doesn't do what you think is Good and Just"), would be expelled from any nation that came to know of it.

The problem of appealing to God or the church as the only authority that matters is that it makes being Lawful a joke. You can claim that anything is "Lawful" to your God and the only authority that matters is your God. It's the age-old problem of objectivism vs subjectivism only put into practical form. It redefines Chaos as Order, by ordering a singular person or a small subset of people. Which makes for a somewhat logical system, but one that is chaotic to every other person in the world outside of that church. Of course, the Lawful Good person won't have a personal code, whereas the Lawful Neutral person might. The Lawful Good Paladin is objective in his position, but he's effectively Lawful Neutral if he can claim anything is in his God's code (as long as he can somehow stretch to rationalize it by the Code of Conduct).

Andoran

jupistar wrote:
Did you ever watch that corny movie, Beverly Hills Cop?

Sadly, no.

jupistar wrote:
Again, evidence of personal preference rears its head. I don't like rigid deontologists, either. But I recognize their existence in life and the legitimate place for them in this game. The Paladin was not based on all these characters you keep pointing at, but rather he was based on the honorable, rigidly-disciplined, righteous knight from the time of Charlemagne.

You're really completely unfamiliar with the characters I'm referring to. they all match the description you just gave precisely, just not necessarily in a way that always follows the laws of the ground they happen to be standing on.

jupistar wrote:
I don't see how any of that makes sense. You're either a deontologist or a consequentialist or somewhere in between. If you're a deontologist, you're Lawful, and it doesn't really matter from where you source your Laws (just as you claim the Paladin is), even if you source it from your own set of reasons. You can have a completely subjective, but rigid set of laws and be a deontologist (sorry vidmaster - law need not be objective, just rigid and inflexible to circumstance).

Like I said, I'm not really either (making me NG) but my alignment bounces a bit depending on what framework you're using to define it. The deontoogical/consequentialist framework is only one such (though one of the better ones, IMO) and makes me a bit closer to Lawful than many others do.

jupistar wrote:
But, I see you're back to claiming the act is not chaotic, but Lawful in accordance with the "legitimate authority" of his God. Whatever. I will respect you by not arguing the point anymore. I would just be repeating myself again.

Okay. Cool.

jupistar wrote:

Let me say this, though:

If you want to say that your Paladins abide by a different Law than the Law of the Land, you ought to:

1) Codify it somewhere. And, of course, it should harmoniously place the "Code of Conduct" into context. The CoC is probably only a useful guideline when attempting to write your Paladin laws. Without it, you're really just winging it when you say he's behaving Lawfully and that's inherently nonsensical.
2) Identify what traditions are honored, since they're clearly not the traditions of the land in which he finds himself.

Oh, absolutely. You need a thorough rundown of what a Paladin's code encompasses, and what principles he has to abide by. Have you read Faiths of Purity or Faiths of Balance? Those give specific codes and appropriate religious traditions in full for each of the gods in Golarion that are capable of having Paladins.

If you're having difficulty envisioning such a code, I could post an example, if you like.

jupistar wrote:

3) Consider redefining chaos as being a subjective (insomuch that you're redefining Lawful to be a subjective thing); anything not adhering to his personal code. (See, the argument would go something like this:

• a) The Paladin is opposed to societal disorder.

• b) The Paladin believes that everyone should follow a common code of ethics or societal disorder will ensue.)

• c) If everyone has their own code, then that obviously leads to a lack of societal order. From a, the Paladin is opposed to everyone having their own code.

• d) If he is willing to ignore other codes of behavior, then from c he must believe his own code is the only one that truly matters.

• e) If he believes that his is the only one that truly matters, then he would believe others should follow his code to achieve societal order. from c & d.

• f) Thus, everyone else is wrong (from c) and the Paladin must accept societal chaos and even contribute to it by not conforming to anyone else's law.

Well, here I start to disagree a little. As much as a Paladin's code might be created by the Player and GM that's not the case in-game, where it was handed down by his (Lawful, or at least not Chaotic) God, so it's not really subjective per se. It's still externally imposed, just by a very different authority.

And he is in no way required to be intolerant of, say, another LG god or even secular authority's rules and structure. Indeed, he'd probably be inclined to respect them as coming closer to the perfection of his deity's commandments than most.

But yes, a Paladin is going to ultimately think that everyone should follow his code. Being a legitimately Good guy, he's not gonna be a dick about it, but everyone really should follow the laws of his God, and those who don't are sadly mistaken.

jupistar wrote:
Alternatively, we can say premise (a) does not obtain and the Paladin believes in societal chaos or we can simply redefine chaotic. Of course, one could argue that he can abide a little variation between his Code and others, but then that gets into some arbitrary issues regarding what is "little" variation and "great" variation, plus it ignores the variation of each person to each other. But if everyone else abides by one code, but the Paladin differs, doesn't that make him chaotic in respect to society? Well, of course, it does, but he doesn't care because he marches to the beat of a different drum and he stands outside the law, ugh... here I go again).

Here's the thing. Because the code isn't actually individual. It's imposed by a LG, LN, or NG being. It's thus going to be very similar in basic principles to any LG society's laws, kinda definitionally. Details may differ, but not enough to make him actively out-of-synch in a particularly disruptive way, alignment-wise.

And if the society is chaotic enough that he really sticks out? Well, that's sort of appropriate, don't you think? A bastion of Law in a sea of Chaos.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
jupistar wrote:
Again, evidence of personal preference rears its head. I don't like rigid deontologists, either. But I recognize their existence in life and the legitimate place for them in this game. The Paladin was not based on all these characters you keep pointing at, but rather he was based on the honorable, rigidly-disciplined, righteous knight from the time of Charlemagne.

You're really completely unfamiliar with the characters I'm referring to. they all match the description you just gave precisely, just not necessarily in a way that always follows the laws of the ground they happen to be standing on.

jupistar wrote:
I don't see how any of that makes sense. You're either a deontologist or a consequentialist or somewhere in between. If you're a deontologist, you're Lawful, and it doesn't really matter from where you source your Laws (just as you claim the Paladin is), even if you source it from your own set of reasons. You can have a completely subjective, but rigid set of laws and be a deontologist (sorry vidmaster - law need not be objective, just rigid and inflexible to circumstance).

Like I said, I'm not really either (making me NG) but my alignment bounces a bit depending on what framework you're using to define it. The deontoogical/consequentialist framework is only one such (though one of the better ones, IMO) and makes me a bit closer to Lawful than many others do.

jupistar wrote:
But, I see you're back to claiming the act is not chaotic, but Lawful in accordance with the "legitimate authority" of his God. Whatever. I will respect you by not arguing the point anymore. I would just be repeating myself again.

Okay. Cool.

jupistar wrote:

Let me say this, though:

If you want to say that your Paladins abide by a different Law than the Law of the Land, you ought to:

1) Codify it somewhere. And, of course, it should harmoniously place the

...

Right. So from a practical meta-gaming point of view, the restriction on honoring tradition is fairly meaningless, since he (the player/GM) makes it up according to whatever he fancies. And respecting authority is absolutely meaningless, because the only authority that matters is his God and, if they decide to say so, the higher-ranking priests of his order, and this latter is not necessary. But since they make the "laws" for this God according to their fancy, it's once again not a restriction. If the only restrictions are the ones spelled out (no lying, cheating, or using poison) are able to be ignored, if helping others to chaotic ends is to be ignored, the Code of Conduct is a pretty useless restriction and you may as well just claim that a Paladin is any Good person, as long as he behaves consistently. In fact, you couldn't even legitimately tell me in your game that I have to save that innocent man, because I can legitimately say to you that my personal code prohibits me from breaking the laws of a Lawful Good society. That my God has proscribed for me that I must follow the Laws of the Land in good nations and should only break the laws of nations that I hold as evil or as an enemy. Then I could quickly go add that to my codified God law. Next time it comes up, if ever, same thing.

If you can't tell, I despise subjectivist morality, even if it's not subjective in-game, it is in practice and out-of-game.

Edit: I guess it's really "subjective ethics". Much the same, but noteworthy.

Also, you wrote, "And if the society is chaotic enough that he really sticks out? Well, that's sort of appropriate, don't you think? A bastion of Law in a sea of Chaos."

No, he contributes to the chaos by not conforming to any ubiquitous standard of order.

Taldor

jupistar wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
jupistar wrote:
Again, evidence of personal preference rears its head. I don't like rigid deontologists, either. But I recognize their existence in life and the legitimate place for them in this game. The Paladin was not based on all these characters you keep pointing at, but rather he was based on the honorable, rigidly-disciplined, righteous knight from the time of Charlemagne.

You're really completely unfamiliar with the characters I'm referring to. they all match the description you just gave precisely, just not necessarily in a way that always follows the laws of the ground they happen to be standing on.

jupistar wrote:
I don't see how any of that makes sense. You're either a deontologist or a consequentialist or somewhere in between. If you're a deontologist, you're Lawful, and it doesn't really matter from where you source your Laws (just as you claim the Paladin is), even if you source it from your own set of reasons. You can have a completely subjective, but rigid set of laws and be a deontologist (sorry vidmaster - law need not be objective, just rigid and inflexible to circumstance).

Like I said, I'm not really either (making me NG) but my alignment bounces a bit depending on what framework you're using to define it. The deontoogical/consequentialist framework is only one such (though one of the better ones, IMO) and makes me a bit closer to Lawful than many others do.

jupistar wrote:
But, I see you're back to claiming the act is not chaotic, but Lawful in accordance with the "legitimate authority" of his God. Whatever. I will respect you by not arguing the point anymore. I would just be repeating myself again.

Okay. Cool.

jupistar wrote:

Let me say this, though:

If you want to say that your Paladins abide by a different Law than the Law of the Land, you ought to:

1) Codify it somewhere. And, of course, it should harmoniously place the

...
Right. So from a practical meta-gaming point of view,...

I'm lost in translation folks. Maybe it is all the $5 words being thrown about the room. Perhaps a Paladin is Lawful in following the tenants of his God and following the orders of his church (established and recognized in society as the Law of Man for the God's Church). To me confusion exist if a Paladin isn't given (in creation) a specific tenants of his "personal code of beliefs....akin to his Diety's wishes or ideology" in his creation and the GM doesn't set as clear a standard of understanding for what the player wishes in his Paladin's behavior. Then again....I haven't read any references in quite some time. I'm sure the source books should outline some particulars that will aid the player & GM to reach a equitable understanding of the Paladin's Character, code of ethics and establish framework for "what is acceptable in the GM's world for a Paladin". All of this should be tempered with the chosen God's particular viewpoints in mind. After all, he should be the shining example to all of what that is. Regardless, lack of foundation in the creation of the Paladin prior to gaming is folly. This is why I love background data from a player on each of their characters.....so I can hold them to what "they want" in their character. Obviously, there are confinements which separate the LG Fighter/Warrior/Cleric from a LG Paladin class. Adhere to those from the resource guides (modified by GM ruling style) and in symbiotic relationship with the player's own vision of what his/her Paladin should be. If they don't agree....then play a LF Fighter/Cleric, join another group or wait until your turn to GM. LOL ! My 2 cents are up. DING !

Andoran

jupistar wrote:
Right. So from a practical meta-gaming point of view, the restriction on honoring tradition is fairly meaningless, since he (the player/GM) makes it up according to whatever he fancies. And respecting authority is absolutely meaningless, because the only authority that matters is his God and, if they decide to say so, the higher-ranking priests of his order, and this latter is not necessary. But since they make the "laws" for this God according to their fancy, it's once again not a restriction.

This really depends on whether you're allowing Paladins of a Philosophy, and whether you're doing homebrew deities. Myself, I usually play in Golarion and therefore allow neither, so the Codes are actually all explicitly laid out already and all you get todo is pick one.

But if you are doing homebrew, then things like this are inevitable. I mean, if you're making up a world, you can make up the laws of the society that the Paladin is in or from, which could be every bit as 'metagamey' as the code of their God. More so, really. Preventing that sort of thing is what GM oversight is for.

jupistar wrote:
If the only restrictions are the ones spelled out (no lying, cheating, or using poison) are able to be ignored, if helping others to chaotic ends is to be ignored, the Code of Conduct is a pretty useless restriction and you may as well just claim that a Paladin is any Good person, as long as he behaves consistently.

Please forgive me if there was some misunderstanding. Those principles outlined in the corebook are a necessary part of all Paladin codes, and are the preconditions of all the rest. The respect for authority bit just strikes me as mostly applying to authority within their religion (such as Divine Emissaries of their God, higher level Paladins, etc.). It would apply to the 'secular' laws of a theocracy that served your God...though there a Paladin's word would carry such weight the situation would be unlikely to come up.

A particular Paladin's code supplements, not replaces, that in the core book.

jupistar wrote:
In fact, you couldn't even legitimately tell me in your game that I have to save that innocent man, because I can legitimately say to you that my personal code prohibits me from breaking the laws of a Lawful Good society. That my God has proscribed for me that I must follow the Laws of the Land in good nations and should only break the laws of nations that I hold as evil or as an enemy. Then I could quickly go add that to my codified God law. Next time it comes up, if ever, same thing.

Yes, I can. It's covered in the basic Paladin code, as mentioned.

jupistar wrote:
If you can't tell, I despise subjectivist morality, even if it's not subjective in-game, it is in practice and out-of-game.

Not really. It's code-based, and only come up with by the layer under the same circumstances they'd come up with the name and customs of their home nation, and then only with GM oversight. Mostly it's GM created (or officially published) per God.

And I have mixed feelings on subjective morality. I think it's appropriate on certain matters (treatment of the dead, or marital and sexual practices) but not others (anything involving harming another person)...but that's a personal atitude, and has little to do with my views on Paladins.

jupistar wrote:

Edit: I guess it's really "subjective ethics". Much the same, but noteworthy.

Also, you wrote, "And if the society is chaotic enough that he really sticks out? Well, that's sort of appropriate, don't you think? A bastion of Law in a sea of Chaos."

No, he contributes to the chaos by not conforming to any ubiquitous standard of order.

Are you saying that, in a CN society where, say, rape of prisoners is societally acceptable (Mongols and Vikings at certain times, for example), you'd penalize a Paladin for stopping such a thing?

Taldor

Thalin wrote:
Diplomacy; present the evidence they have the case is "wrong" and volunteer to look, requesting a stay of execution. If they disagree, do what you can to avenge the wrongdoing; but you can't attack the people.

I agree with all the parts that don't contain $10 words. My head hurts and the Paladin should proceed faithfully onward with his next mission and forever carry the knowledge that he witnessed the LAW work; albiet in a negative result for the "innocent" person.

He should carry the burden of that man's innocense and look for an opportunity to "clear his name" should it ever arise. That act, may, in some small way serve to promote the LAW side of his convictions and prove ultimately Good for the man's reputation and family name. Though that may all be of little consequence....surely his God will see that as a righteouse action....since the God will know the TRUTH.


The correct answer is, "Screw this!" and take up the path of the Holy Liberator. ;)

But seriously, I'd like to point out that some of these arguments have been a bit culture-centric. There is nothing that says a "fair and incorruptible" court must:
- Presume innocence until guilt is proven
- Use a jury
- Value physical evidence over witness testimony

Magic is a two edged sword here, even when available. How many local courts are going to have a 7th level cleric available to cast Discern Lies? Even a 3rd level cleric for Zone of Truth can only go so far - think they have hordes on hand for all the cases a kingdom handles daily? I suppose they could pass out scrolls, but those cost money. In short, they are going to save the magical elements for high profile cases. Further, it doesn't stop someone from "lying" Aes Sedai style - every word is true, but what they implied isn't what was said, and someone smart enough to enchant a target might be smart enough to work out those little tricks of the tongue. Or even just compel silence, which could also be damning. And use conjuration spells to create physical evidence that may counteract witness testimony, if that's even allowed.

In short, the existence of divination is more than balanced by the existence of enchantment, conjuration, transmutation, and illusion. Especially since governments don't like to spend money proving people innocent (doubly so under a gold standard) but criminals don't mind spending money to make even more money.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
jupistar wrote:
Right. So from a practical meta-gaming point of view, the restriction on honoring tradition is fairly meaningless, since he (the player/GM) makes it up according to whatever he fancies. And respecting authority is absolutely meaningless, because the only authority that matters is his God and, if they decide to say so, the higher-ranking priests of his order, and this latter is not necessary. But since they make the "laws" for this God according to their fancy, it's once again not a restriction.
This really depends on whether you're allowing Paladins of a Philosophy, and whether you're doing homebrew deities. Myself, I usually play in Golarion and therefore allow neither, so the Codes are actually all explicitly laid out already and all you get todo is pick one.

But those codes (assuming Faiths of Purity or the Oaths in Ultimate Magic) are very shallow and you get to choose what they mean, hence my statement about codifying laws. You can say, for example, that you "have to protect the innocent, but not if it means starting a war". See the qualifier? That's the kind of exception-making that typically exists in the law. For example, "You must protect the innocent, but not if you must violate the sovereignty of a civilized and Good nation to do so. Instead, you must work within the system of such a nation to save the man."

Deadmanwalking wrote:
But if you are doing homebrew, then things like this are inevitable. I mean, if you're making up a world, you can make up the laws of the society that the Paladin is in or from, which could be every bit as 'metagamey' as the code of their God. More so, really. Preventing that sort of thing is what GM oversight is for.

Sure, but at that point, you might as well toss out the tough restrictions of being a Paladin, which is what you seem inclined to do. Every hero wants to be the hero and rescue the innocent guy. But that would be the easy "fun" thing to do. I expect my ranger to try, but I expect my Paladin to not try. For you, the Chaotic Good ranger and the Lawful Good paladin do the same thing (and even for the same reason, though one claims it's a code)!

Deadmanwalking wrote:
jupistar wrote:
If the only restrictions are the ones spelled out (no lying, cheating, or using poison) are able to be ignored, if helping others to chaotic ends is to be ignored, the Code of Conduct is a pretty useless restriction and you may as well just claim that a Paladin is any Good person, as long as he behaves consistently.

Please forgive me if there was some misunderstanding. Those principles outlined in the corebook are a necessary part of all Paladin codes, and are the preconditions of all the rest. The respect for authority bit just strikes me as mostly applying to authority within their religion (such as Divine Emissaries of their God, higher level Paladins, etc.). It would apply to the 'secular' laws of a theocracy that served your God...though there a Paladin's word would carry such weight the situation would be unlikely to come up.

A particular Paladin's code supplements,...

I don't know to what codes you refer. What is expressed in Faiths of Purity aren't codes. They're just an expression of the attitudes of particular Paladin followers. They're more like mottos, "First in battle, last out." I'm talking about actual laws. What laws do these Paladins follow? Even in Golarion, how do you know what exactly to do in any given situation if you have no actual laws to follow and you're a vigilante for your church? The only answer is: you make it up or your GM makes it up on the spot. Which, even though you pretend it's "in-game" Law and Order, it's truly just random Chaotic Good. You just get to be Chaotic Good in your (his) decisions and then retrofit the law to meet those decisions. Which is to say that you get to do whatever you want or your GM gets to force you to do whatever he wants.

And before you have the impulsive response that I'm presenting a false dichotomy or that this kind of thing already happens because the world is fantasy, consider it a little more deeply. When you take a class, you assume certain "facts" about how that class is played. From the alignment restrictions (like the Monk), to the strengths and weaknesses, to the features like Code of Conduct. Sure, there may be the occasional disagreements about how something is interpreted (like what the Paladin here should do), but it's something else for the GM to just make up laws, on the fly, that you can't even present an argument to.

Consider the difference between this conversation:

"I don't think I should forcibly rescue this guy, but I'm clearly under a deadline to present the evidence that will vindicate him."
"I think you're required to 'protect the innocent'. Give me your reasoning."
"Well, this is a Lawful Good society with the authority to rule on such cases. I would be trampling on their sovereign rights by doing this. Plus, I would be assaulting innocents, betraying the social contract, and doing something dishonorable (sneaking into the jail at night)."
"I don't agree, but I can see that. Alright, well, you've got less than 24 hours to find enough evidence to save this guy. Good luck!"

And this one:

"I don't think I should forcibly rescue this guy, but I'm clearly under a deadline to present the evidence that will vindicate him."
"You either forcibly rescue him or you will be forced to atone."
"Are you sure? This is a Lawful Good society with the authority to rule on such cases. I would be trampling on their sovereign rights by doing this. Plus, I would be assaulting innocents, betraying the social contract, and doing something dishonorable (sneaking into the jail at night)."
"Yes, but you're beholden to the law of Torag and according to me, that law says you have to forcibly rescue the prisoner in spite of everything you just said."
"I see. Would you like to roll my dice, as well?"

The second implies a serious lack of free will and/or moral judgment making. The first allows the player to argue his view based upon an objectively known set of laws (the Code applied to the obvious Law of the Land), whereas the other is made up, on the spot, by the GM, with no input from the player. Alternatively, it could go like this, I suppose:

"I don't think I should forcibly rescue this guy, but I'm clearly under a deadline to present the evidence that will vindicate him."
"I think you should have to forcibly rescue him or be forced to atone."
"Are you sure? This is a Lawful Good society with the authority to rule on such cases. I would be trampling on their sovereign rights by doing this. Plus, I would be assaulting innocents, betraying the social contract, and doing something dishonorable (sneaking into the jail at night)."
"Yes, but you're beholden to the law of Torag and I think we should make this one of his laws: if you're weighing the life of an innocent against the lawful ruling of a well-ordered and just society, you have to side with the innocent."
"I don't like that. I would rather not have to assault innocent people to save another innocent."
"Oh, alright, then that's what we'll make the law. Who knows, it might come up again, so let's not forget how we did this."

The first conversation allows us to have the fun of trying to judge a situation from a known position and known Code. The second is the GM telling us what to do. The third is us telling the GM what we want to do. Now, admittedly, once the second or third conversation takes place, we now have something concrete... for a very specific situation that is likely to not come up again.

Admittedly, a conversation in my game with you might go like this:

"I think I should forcibly rescue this guy, tonight, before he's hung tomorrow."
"I would seriously reconsider that decision as I would probably rule that it's both unlawful and evil. You're breaking the law and attacking an innocent."
"Sure, but I would be doing a less evil than letting their ignorance and poor choices bring about the death of an innocent."
"No, you would be doing no evil, just permitting a natural one to come about, because of the greater good that adhering to the law brings. There's a difference between allowing a natural evil to occur and breaking the law and doing greater evil in the process to prevent what you believe is the greater evil."
"Well, I think I must and so I will."
"Alright, well just know that I warned you. This will probably be seen as an evil act and it might require some atonement."
"Understood. I don't see any way for me to have a clean conscience and still allow this to happen."
"Ok, just remember, a conscience-guided character is a Chaotic Good one."
"But can't this be me following the Law of Torag, my God."
"No. There is no such thing in any of the source material that says you can save innocents by any means necessary. If there is, you need to show me where I can find it. Until then, remember, Lawful Good characters do not believe the ends justify the means, that's a Chaotic Good position."
"Ugh - so you're telling me I'm doing evil by trying to rescue an innocent."
"No, I'm telling you that you're doing evil by assaulting innocents and you're being chaotic by breaking the law."

And then, if you continued on, as I said, drive the point home by allowing some unintended and evil consequence occur as a result of the unlawful and evil act.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Are you saying that, in a CN society where, say, rape of prisoners is societally acceptable (Mongols and Vikings at certain times, for example), you'd penalize a Paladin for stopping such a thing?

No, because 1) it's not a good society, 2) it wouldn't be societally acceptable to women. Rape is an evil act (hurting and oppressing), since its intent is to unjustly violate the will, the body, and the inherent rights of others. The proper response of the Paladin here is to either declare the country an enemy state and wage war against it or to try to change the law by mounting a human rights crusade against that sort of cruelty to women--and prior to and after declaring himself an enemy of that Law, feel justified in stopping the acts of rape that he encounters. If it's societally accepted, he might be wise to understand that the men are culturally unenlightened and try to teach them before beating/killing them. But he should understand that he's setting himself against the will of an entire country and they may make him an enemy whether he wants it or not.

Remember, a Lawful Evil society doesn't have evil laws. They have order and maintain the rights of their citizens and believe in fairness. They just don't endorse concepts of compassion within the law, mercy is hard to find here.

Cheliax

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Faith in magic is poorly invested. A court home to an inquisitor of Asmodeus or a mage of the Academae -- or even a cut-throat of Westcrown's forsaken streets -- soon reveals the inadequacies of magic. Those possessing the magic, you see, are seldom trustworthy themselves. They have power: why would they not seek to impose their will on matters? Even if a Hellknight Signifier were to pronounce someone's testimony truth or lies, the effectiveness of these truth-discerning miracles and spells rests in the trust the Signifier can build with the court and the judges.

But let us not dwell long on these matters: let me offer my insight on the codes of different paladins I have met, that empiricism might cut through this haze.

---

I have spoken long on the nature of the Chain and the Measure, the heart of the Hellknight Philosophy. My words remain preserved here and there, and I will not waste your time restating them. My father's father's father followed Aroden, Cheliax's patron. But my paladinhood comes from Abadar, Judge of the Gods and Master of the First Vault, for I place my faith above all else in the principle of Law and the goodness of civilization. The world, history and experience teaches us, is nasty, brutish and short without the aegis of civilization. With the blessings of stone, timber and glass come dignity, grace, majesty and power. What are we without these things? Little more than beasts. Slaves to our natures. To become greater than nature has made us, we must become tyrants first over ourselves.

There are other paladin Hellknights that I have met who draw their strength from Iomedae, Torag and Erastil. Each have their own martial traditions, but there is a common thread uniting them: belief in the dignity and grace of mortal races. The potential for growth. Betterment. Hope. Paladinhood is similar: no paladin will follow their code absolutely. Their judgement will falter. But the code is absolute, because within the paladin code lies both the inclination toward Order -- hierarchy, fairness, justice, truth -- and this most fundamental hope. An aspiration that men and women possess the potential for improvement. The code -- no matter what man, woman, lord, cult, god, or order bestows it -- provides a framework upon which Hope and Order may flourish. It is strength in the dark, and comfort in the night. It is courage in the face of hell, and compassion in the face of cruel fate. The code, like all of the laws of men, is a tool: a tool for making men and women righteous. A criterion for judgment, both of one's self and others.

My point: Asmodean clerics delight in such prisoner's dilemmas, certain that their philosophical examples can tear hope from order. Hubris is a popular theme of Chelaxian drama, after all, and infernal bargains are a reality and not mere poetic invention. But this is perverted rhetoric: the particulars of actual experiences never enjoy the perfection of hypothetical speculation. Seldom and rare are the moments when a right thinking paladin truly finds himself trapped and unable to escape a fall from grace.

Codes of Differnet Gods, in One Hellknight's Experience:

Some would believe that the weight of my burdens must be great, because as a paladin of Abadar and a Hellknight, I carry two codes. But, in truth, there are no contradictions between these codes. The disciplined arm strikes true, the disciplined eye sees truth, the disciplined tongue speaks truth. The Chain calls on us to uphold Order, Discipline and Mercilessness. Abadar calls on us to do likewise, in his way. I have already spoken of the non-issue of the rigged trial for a Hellknight of Cheliax such as myself.

Iomedae took in many of Aroden's followers. And those Champions of the Inheritor I have known have believed in courage above all else. Even those paladins that did not count themselves among Hellknight Orders saw the world as a battle, a battle in which the code provided them a metric against which to judge themselves. What distinguished these paladins, in my sight, was their passionate and emotional attachment to personal heroism. They were not part of a larger army: they viewed themselves, each and every one, as the last line of defense against wickedness, tyranny and dark powers. They would not allow themselves to falter, because they refused to allow others to suffer in their places. Their strength, and their weakness: deontology would be an apt description of their shallow philosophy, and they were best suited to straightforward battles and powerful foes against which they could apply themselves without compromise or restraint. They chafe against the Chain, because their absolutes are defined by the contours of their hearts. They do poorly with courts and deceptions, as they do not understand corruption and, emotional fools, rush into conflict with their own code. Fine warriors, though. Some of the best.

There was an Ulfen man I met once who was a rare paladin of Torag. His beard stretched to his belt, and his eyes burned with fire. He would have made a fine Hellknight, but he walked with savage peoples and saw no value in settling them upon the land. "Traps lie in idle banter," he chided me, and I agreed. "I make chains with my hands and my hammers; I have no need for a chain made of words." To him, his every word and utterance was a new law unto itself, and he had no need for any philosophy beyond this. For him, the dilemma of the rigged trial would have been simple: if the prisoner was one of his family or clan, he would have stopped at nothing to break that prisoner free. And never would he know conflict, as marshaled his tongue with such discipline that he would never agree to an oath to obey local law if it might turn him against those that had already earned his oaths of loyalty.

And in Nidal, I once met three paladins of Erastil who met once a month to coordinate their efforts. They guarded a stretch of farmlands and villages, communities with families in a dangerous stretch of land. And I cannot imagine any of them ever facing the dilemma of the rigged trial. Their hope was invested entirely in their communities, and by their coordination they kept wicked things at bay. They would not allow a rigged court to come into being in their own land: more likely, they would banish any villain scheming to engage in such underhanded deception long before the community elders could be swayed into an unjust preceding. If one were to quest away from their home and face such an unjust court, I believe they would have placed the laws of their own communities and conscience above the laws of the land. And I doubt that Erastil would judge them harshly for it. He is hoary and ancient god, almost more of the wild than of civilization.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

Faith in magic is poorly invested. A court home to an inquisitor of Asmodeus or a mage of the Academae -- or even a cut-throat of Westcrown's forsaken streets -- soon reveals the inadequacies of magic. Those possessing the magic, you see, are seldom trustworthy themselves. They have power: why would they not seek to impose their will on matters? Even if a Hellknight Signifier were to pronounce someone's testimony truth or lies, the effectiveness of these truth-discerning miracles and spells rests in the trust the Signifier can build with the court and the judges.

But let us not dwell long on these matters: let me offer my insight on the codes of different paladins I have met, that empiricism might cut through this haze.

---

I have spoken long on the nature of the Chain and the Measure, the heart of the Hellknight Philosophy. My words remain here and there, and I will not waste your time restating them. My father's father's father followed Aroden, Cheliax's patron. But my paladinhood comes from Abadar, Judge of the Gods and Master of the First Vault, for I place my faith above all else in the principle of Law and the goodness of civilization. The world, history and experience teaches us, is nasty, brutish and short without the aegis of civilization. With the blessings of stone, timber and glass come dignity, grace, majesty and power. What are we without these things? Little more than beasts. Slaves to our natures. To become greater than nature has made us, we must become tyrants first over ourselves.

There are other paladin Hellknights that I have met who draw their strength from Iomedae, Torag and Erastil. Each have their own martial traditions, but there is a common thread uniting...

AM Hellknight, your words are very fine, indeed. In fact, they are so fine that I find myself swayed by them. But I must remain strong. What you have said regarding the Wulfen warrior very nearly perfectly describes a Lawful Neutral person: "A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her." A Lawful Good person, on the other hand: "A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act."

If the Wulfen were a true paladin and not just a holy warrior, he would realize that he was expected to let civilized justice take its course. The prisoner was tried by a lawful and legitimate court (even if it wasn't a court from his own country) and found guilty of a crime. If the Wulfen character was convinced of the innocence of the man, he would need to find a way that did not involve committing evil acts or violating the laws he is expected to adhere to in this land he is guesting in. "When in Cheliax, do as the Cheliaxians."

The same, then, is true of the Champions of the Inheritor of whom you speak who most assuredly could not be paladins. You mistakenly labeled them as such, for no paladin impulsively chooses to battle based upon emotional decisions. Sure, they might let their passion give them strength on the battlefield, but not in making the decisions of who their battlefield foes are. That is the province of chaos and berserkers.

And so, by extension, I question your judgment of the paladins of Erastil. I'm sure they would recognize the authority of the other court and do everything in their power, within the law, to persuade that other court of the tragedy about to befall an innocent man. But they wouldn't simply assume that a mistaken court is the same thing as an unjust court. Judgments are made all the time and some of them are destined to be wrong, for humans are fallible. If every other judgment is subjectively deemed wrong by observers and is met with impulsive and emotional violence by those observers, order and society crumble, faith in any kind of system cracks, and no one may judge by the consensus of the ruled.

Cheliax

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Such prattle. Yet again, you mistake Lawful nature for the laws of men. Temporal laws are fallible and many and contradictory. But whether or not a soul is Lawful may be seen in the afterlife, and sometimes in this life. "Respecting legitimate authority" is, itself, a highly subjective idea because the notion of "legitimacy" is highly subjective. "Expected or required to act." Rubbish. Expected by whom? Required by what? Rhetoric, and tepid rhetoric at best.

Like the Andorrans, you are content to rely on such rhetoric and invention. You do not believe the Ulfen warrior could have been a paladin, so you simply disregard my words and persist with your own delusion. Consult the Faiths of Purity: the code of Torag's paladins demands traditions be kept, as well as loyalty to one's own. They promote the good of their people and do not wish harm on other people without cause, and that is enough for their god. Not being citizens of Cheliax, but merely travelers on the road I guarded, they asked passage. I might have demanded they acknowledge that Cheliax's laws rule while they cross, but they might easily have argued that their own laws and traditions held sway within their encampment. Which holds greater claim and legitimacy? The gods are seldom forthright with answers to such questions. If they were, than perhaps they might explain another riddle: how any 'citizen' of Andorran can become a Paladin given their unlawful, violent and perverted rebellion against the rightful and legal authority of Imperial Cheliax.

And the Ulfen in question did not have much patience for my talk of civilization. We differed considerably in our opinions on what made a society, and he vowed to fight to the death before letting even a single one of his band 'become a slave'. Hrmph.

And as for Iomedae's lot, I agree that they make poor Hellknights. But mistake not the righteous fury of a Paladin of the Inheritor for a berserker's rage. The necessity of combating evil was not, for them, a cool and rational assessment or the pique of a fevered mind, but rather a zealous dictate of their faith. And not one I am inclined to argue: Golarion is rife with demons, undead, giants and worse. They would do good by force of arms, chivalry upon the field, and heartfelt morality. Something no Hellknight can abide, but something absolutely in keeping with their oaths to the Inheritor. Paladins, sir jupistar, whether you believe it or not.

And Erastil's lot, similarly, do not understand Law in your way. They understand their place in the world in relation to their homes, and outside of that small, bright stretch of land in an otherwise dark country they perceived themselves as outsiders. They encourage others to build strong bonds with their neighbors, but certainly do not respect the emissaries of Nidal's court or view them as legitimate authorities. If they believed a court to be mistaken, they would say so. Openly and publicly. And if their words were not heeded and a person they felt innocent stood to die over a farce of justice or a conspiracy, their faith in that community would be shattered. And why should they respect the leadership or laws of any community that wrongs its own? Such a community is the antithesis of everything their god teaches and everything to which they aspire.

Fah! Your own standard is flimsy and nonexistent, sophistry and pedantry most foul. If you doubt it, try to apply your own standard and show me how any action can satisfy a paladin's oath as you interpret it. Where, praytell, does Cheliax end? Who are you to tell me the borders of my own empire? How long must a ruler sit in power before he or she is considered legitimate? Let us return to the rebel provinces of Andorran and Galt: am I to obey the 'laws' of bandits, pretenders and assassins simply because I cross into land that wicked people declare to be 'theirs'? If I enter a Kellid camp, do you feel I am obligated to obey the barking nonsense of their chieftan simply because of where I stand? Doomed to fall if I should refuse? Rubbish!

No! I am a Hellknight of Cheliax and a protector of roads. I safeguard travelers and slay bandits in the name of my Empire and my god. I carry the Chain and the Measure with me wherever I go, and if I am cruel it is a cruelty of purpose rather than a cruelty of passion. As a parent disciplines a child, so do I go to the wild places and create order with my strength. I ensure the spread of civilization. I root out the corruption that threatens it. I know the state of nature, for I have witnessed it firsthand. And I know no fear, for I have faced Hell and scourged such weakness from my heart by flame and lash.

If you want to see the alternative to my own philosophy, see the unending revolution of Galt, the carnage of civil war, and the incessant lies and marauding of 'peaceful' and 'free' Andorran.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Such prattle.

Responded to with nothing but hubris and rubbish. You should parrot your Ulfen friend's reticence. It would serve you better than this nonsense.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Yet again, you mistake Lawful nature for the laws of men.

No mistake. Lawful nature implies a desire for order--the greater the desire for order, the greater the Lawful nature. The laws of man are pretty much all about achieving ubiquitous order. It's a simple equation that even your militant, miniature mind should be able to grasp. The more you fracture the laws of men into small factions (even down to the singular), the less order you have until you reach a total lack of it. Which is typically the opposite of what I hear you people want--I hear you want universal order.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Temporal laws are fallible and many and contradictory. But whether or not a soul is Lawful may be seen in the afterlife, and sometimes in this life. "Respecting legitimate authority" is, itself, a highly subjective idea because the notion of "legitimacy" is highly subjective. "Expected or required to act." Rubbish. Expected by whom? Required by what? Rhetoric, and tepid rhetoric at best.

"tepid rhetoric" is the height of irony and evidence of obtuseness

All you do here is seek ways to obfuscate obvious truths. You wish to debate the semantics of rightful rulers and the expectations of society? The truth is that you either acknowledge rightful rulers the moment you cross their boundaries or you dismiss them as illegitimate and are prepared to take up arms against them. What's expected of you is to do the lawful and good thing, but at least the lawful thing by the lawful people on who's land you coexist. These concepts are not that difficult to comprehend. Apply yourself.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Like the Andorrans, you are content to rely on such rhetoric and invention. You do not believe the Ulfen warrior could have been a paladin, so you simply disregard my words and persist with your own delusion.

About that rhetoric...

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Consult the Faiths of Purity: the code of Torag's paladins demands traditions be kept, as well as loyalty to one's own. They promote the good of their people and do not wish harm on other people without cause, and that is enough for their god.

But only the traditions of his lands and his people...?

"I will do what is necessary to serve my people, including misleading others." Oh my, that Code is really going out on a limb there in breaking the Code of Conduct, isn't it? How much greater, then, is it to violate the sovereignty and right of another nation altogether. You lay claim to my use of sophistry and then employ it in a pathetic manner.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Not being citizens of Cheliax, but merely travelers on the road I guarded, they asked passage. I might have demanded they acknowledge that Cheliax's laws rule while they cross, but they might easily have argued that their own laws and traditions held sway within their encampment.

And you would have let them? Pfah. What kind of warden for Cheliax are you? It is your job to enforce that law on every man or beast that crosses your borders. Dishonorable.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Which holds greater claim and legitimacy? The gods are seldom forthright with answers to such questions. If they were, than perhaps they might explain another riddle: how any 'citizen' of Andorran can become a Paladin given their unlawful, violent and perverted rebellion against the rightful and legal authority of Imperial Cheliax.

By declaring you the enemy. Understandably, I see. Filled with demons and policed by cowards, I would make Cheliax my enemy, as well.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And the Ulfen in question did not have much patience for my talk of civilization. We differed considerably in our opinions on what made a society, and he vowed to fight to the death before letting even a single one of his band 'become a slave'. Hrmph.

You should have done it. Too bad your courage ended when he crossed your border.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
...pedantry most foul...

Again, that rhetoric...

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Who are you to tell me the borders of my own empire?

It is not me or my paladins who make such subjective decisions. They rely on the authority of others. Specifically, their Kings and their church leaders, quorums of good nations, all that have the goal of preventing evil predations.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
...am I to obey the 'laws' of bandits, pretenders and assassins simply because I cross into land that wicked people declare to be 'theirs'? If I enter a Kellid camp, do you feel I am obligated to obey the barking nonsense of their chieftan simply because of where I stand...

Yes or else pretend to some possession of genitals and announce your impudence. See how long your repugnant presence remains if you offer no compensatory benefit. When you cross a border, you either accept that you abide by the laws of the associated society (I care not for your semantical understanding of boundaries... you merely equivocate) or you take a hostile approach and they are your enemy. You certainly are not one who says, "I'll abide by some of your laws and ignore the others." That would be a pointless exercise. Either you're in the law or outside the law. It makes no sense to straddle the line like a vacillating peasant. Of course, you could be accepted as outside the law if you can offer something worthwhile to make your disregard for Order palatable.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
I ensure the spread of civilization.

Not by disregarding it, you don't. Your words smack of the Lawful Neutral, at best, and Lawful Evil, at worst. Unless you're intending to take up arms against the Andorran's, you would be wise to consider your desire for civilization and the Order thus inherent in civilization when you disregard their laws, something no civilization can do without, while you stand within the borders they claim as their own and that your nation does not actively contest.

You speak nonsense through and through. You practically speak it in every sentence. It's tough to find one thing worth decent approbation. I have very little tolerance for any more of it. Use your head or use your sword. Either way, do something other and better than this hogwash.

Cheliax

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The essence of debate is the clash of arguments. Engage with mine instead of evading, or you will never uncover truth.

I will permit you another chance at rebuttal, since the near entirety of your argument rests again on your near-sighted parroting of an earlier argument. And I will spell it out: the whole of your thesis rests upon your assertion that the essence of Lawful nature is the spread of man's laws across the whole of the world, without exception. Let me assure you: I did, once, agree with you when I was younger and more short-sighted. The Starfall Doctrine is the spread of Cheliax and her laws to all the peoples of the world, that all the world might be elevated. One kingdom, one empire, unity and strength. The Hellknight ideal.

But the principle of Order is not the laws of men. Proof? There are paladins that obey laws other than those of Cheliax. Kings and so-called "quorums of good nations" build laws and begin wars with Cheliax, and somehow these codes retain some legitimacy.

And you cannot answer the simple questions of why and how this peculiar twist of fate comes into being. You seem capable only of whining and gnashing your teeth. The nearest to a contention you have offered on the matter is the insultingly primitive standard of 'a temporal authority is legitimate as soon as I enter its territory unless I declare it illegitimate and make war upon it,' which is embarrassing in its simplicity. Because it is an inconsistent model.

If you would defend your thesis further, you must address some basic weaknesses:


  • Who determine what borders form what territories? The lion's share of your argument rests on the integrity and legitimacy of land claims, but the gods do not often offer commentary on the territories of men and women.

  • If there are other, legitimate codes of law and temporal authorities beyond that of Imperial Cheliax, than when these codes come into conflict how do you determine which has the greater legitimacy? Either hierarchy alone is enough, in which case other nations ought to be subject to the edicts of Abrogail Thrune II and anyone acting on her authority acts within the law -- and I would remind you, the Hellknight Orders are given explicit extra-legal authority to enforce the laws of Cheliax -- or there exists some other mechanism of determining the relative legitimacy of competing codes.

  • Defend your standard of warfare or obedience to temporal laws with no middle-ground. Why can I not carry the law with me without declaring personal war? IS there no middle ground? And how is your warfare model any different from the so-called vigilantism that you decry? Under the standard you provide, I may mentally decide 'these are my enemies' whenever I dislike local laws and so act at liberty ... or does this violate some larger principle of Law? Or do you instead mean that it is necessary for a ruler to declare war, in which case how do we explain the dark ages prior to the establishment of monarchies?

  • On a related note, you must decide whether you acknowledge the existence of the cosmic principle of Law. And if you do not, than you must explain the relationship between this Law and the laws of men. Consider the hierarchies of Hell and Heaven in your answer.

  • What is this 'sovereignty' you speak of? Asmodeus' clerics are fond of inventing words like this and investing them with legal meaning, but outside of Cheliax I have seldom heard the word. If it is merely a statement of legitimacy, than how can Andorran or Galt have any sovereign power, given that they are rebelling citizens of Cheliax and often Chelaxian peoples.

  • And, finally, you must address the most basic problem of theology in our world: how can there be two paladins with different views if your interpretation of the dictum of paladinhood is so absolute? Can paladins fight on both sides of a war without falling from grace? I remind you that Hellknights fought Hellknights and Paladins fought Paladins during the wars of Chelaxian Succession. History has already answered this question for you.

And improve your insults. Even a novice has more vitriol than you. For Lictor Kurtz said: if a harsh word can distract you from the substance of your argumentation, your Discipline was upon the page, not within the heart.

And one final remark ...

jupistar wrote:
... Unless you're intending to take up arms against the Andorran's, you would be wise to consider your desire for civilization and the Order thus inherent in civilization when you disregard their laws, something no civilization can do without, while you stand within the borders they claim as their own and that your nation does not actively contest.

You must not know me well.

Andoran

I'm pretty much completely with AM HELLKNIGHT on this (personal opinions of Cheliax and other nations aside). He says it better than I do.

*sits down with popcorn*


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jupistar wrote:
Finarin Panjoro wrote:

I don't believe that breaking the innocent man out of jail does constitute a chaotic act either. The paladin code requires them to respect legitimate authority. Respect does not mean obey regardless of the prevailing situation. Being lawful implies obedience to authority, but the paladin has sworn to uphold a higher authority than mortal law.

In any event a paladin falls for violating his code or committing an evil act. The first line of the PRD's description is "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life." His code commands that he helps those who are in need (as the accused clearly is). So the paladin must protect the innocent man accused of these crimes.

"Respect does not mean obey regardless of the prevailing situation" - agreed.

Like wise, "protect innocent life" does not mean "Protect innocent life regardless of the prevailing situation."

By way of extreme example, "Protecting one innocent life, but sacrificing one hundred" is a bad and wrong choice. Read below to see what I mean when I talk about "prevailing situation" of protecting the innocent.

Finarin Panjoro wrote:
Further he is commanded to respect legitimate authority. So he must attempt to appease that authority, reason with it, or take the punishment upon himself. Ultimately preventing that authority from unwittingly committing an atrocity is an act of respect. If it became known that the legitimate authority had executed an innocent man, confidence and trust in it would be greatly eroded perhaps destroyed all together. If the paladin can spare that authority from such a fate by taking the responsibility on himself that seems both lawful and good to me.
Ultimately, usurping that authority's right to rule is *not* an act of respect, it's one of hubris and offense. It is, in effect, an act of war. Would a good authority want to do the right thing? Of course, but that's his judgment to make, not the Paladin's. But even a neutral or evil authority has the right to...

Jupistar, I don't disagree with your point about the law of unintended consequences, but that sword cuts both ways. Allowing the law to execute an innocent man can likewise lead to unintended chaotic consequences (loss of faith in the system, defiance, riots, even rebellion) and certainly leads to an evil consequence (the execution of an innocent). It is entirely possible for chaotic consequences to result from lawful acts, especially in a case where two lawful forces are in contention.

In the OP's scenario the paladin is faced with no clear choice, either one has unacceptable consequences. But the only one which is irrevocable is the death of the innocent prisoner (discounting resurrection magic as a remedy since there's no guarantee the prisoner would return or the magic would be available). If the paladin frees the prisoner he then has time to address the consequences of that choice, unintended or not. By submitting himself for judgement by the authority that he's offended he is telling the society that the law is still right and valid and must be upheld, but that it is not absolute. If he finds the evidence of innocence and turns himself and the prisoner back over for judgement he again affirms that authority's legitimacy.

Also to be clear, I would only support the paladin's breaking free an innocent prisoner if the penalty for his crime was death. If the society in question has no death penalty than a paladin would never be put in this position because the prisoner is not under the threat of irreparable harm. In a society with no death penalty, there is time to work within the system, to go find proof of his innocence and return it to the court. The paladin might dedicate his life to doing so even if he never found such proof (though that would make for a poor heroic tale). My personal feeling is that a lawful good society would not have a death penalty because of its irrevocable nature. The freeing of this prisoner might even serve as the starting point for a legitimate campaign to end the use of such permanent punishment (a perhaps unintended lawful consequence).

Andoran

Finarin Panjoro wrote:
Also to be clear, I would only support the paladin's breaking free an innocent prisoner if the penalty for his crime was death. If the society in question has no death penalty than a paladin would never be put in this position because the prisoner is not under the threat of irreparable harm. In a society with no death penalty, there is time to work within the system, to go find proof of his innocence and return it to the court. The paladin might dedicate his life to doing so even if he never found such proof (though that would make for a poor heroic tale).

This is an excellent point that I agree with entirely.


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Having only skimmed...

Paladin powers are lost if he willingly commits an evil act, not an unlawful act. This doesn't mean he gets to be willy nilly chaotic, but on a case by case basis his motives should grant some leeway.
I think if he errs on the side of good, to protect said innocent from being executed, he would be fine.


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AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

The essence of debate is the clash of arguments. Engage with mine instead of evading, or you will never uncover truth.

I will permit you another chance at rebuttal, since the near entirety of your argument rests again on your near-sighted parroting of an earlier argument. And I will spell it out: the whole of your thesis rests upon your assertion that the essence of Lawful nature is the spread of man's laws across the whole of the world, without exception. Let me assure you: I did, once, agree with you when I was younger and more short-sighted. The Starfall Doctrine is the spread of Cheliax and her laws to all the peoples of the world, that all the world might be elevated. One kingdom, one empire, unity and strength. The Hellknight ideal.

But the principle of Order is not the laws of men. Proof? There are paladins that obey laws other than those of Cheliax. Kings and so-called "quorums of good nations" build laws and begin wars with Cheliax, and somehow these codes retain some legitimacy.

And you cannot answer the simple questions of why and how this peculiar twist of fate comes into being. You seem capable only of whining and gnashing your teeth. The nearest to a contention you have offered on the matter is the insultingly primitive standard of 'a temporal authority is legitimate as soon as I enter its territory unless I declare it illegitimate and make war upon it,' which is embarrassing in its simplicity. Because it is an inconsistent model.

There was no evasion, just dismissal. One doesn't evade the mosquito, one merely brushes it aside as inconsequential. Your argument, the mosquito, relies upon a ludicrous premise: That the standard individual cannot reasonably determine the boundaries of nations and thus he has just cause to pretend to the illegitimacy of those nations and the rulers there so as to ignore the social contract. It is a vulgar equivocation. I will not stoop to debate the merits of the legitimacy of any singular nation. I leave that to you and your betters (which, I sorely hope exist). Just know that if you are permitted entry into my country and you break the law, then you are creating disorder and you will be punished accordingly. You have no right to exercise any authority in my land. However, if you doubt my right to rule in my land, then by all means, take up arms, but you will not pass, for you are as a bandit on the road.

And while I agree that an individual might specifically doubt the legitimacy of another nation or the legitimacy of it's self-proclaimed borders, to question them all is beyond hubris, it's simply blindness. But more, it equivocates so to intentionally ignore the quid pro quo of international itinerants. If I cross the borders of Cheliax, am I not expected to abide by your laws? How then can you cross the borders of my land and not feel equally obliged, unless you come in with hostile intent?

I repeat, coward: You are a protector of Law and Order in Cheliax. You said it yourself, "The Hellknight Orders are given explicit extra-legal authority to enforce the laws of Cheliax". It is your duty. Why do you allow the Ulfen to enter Cheliax, if you would not demand their compliance with the law?

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

If you would defend your thesis further, you must address some basic weaknesses:


  • Who determine what borders form what territories? The lion's share of your argument rests on the integrity and legitimacy of land claims, but the gods do not often offer commentary on the territories of men and women.

No, in our world, it usually starts with "might makes right... and boundaries" and then "respect of boundaries give them legitimacy". I don't see you bringing armies in full scale war with Andoran, thus you enter their lands by their sufferance. If they permit you entry, then it's under the implicit agreement you will abide by their laws, else your passage would be barred. So, the answer is: you and the rest of men determine what borders form what territories. Even if you don't recognize the nation as "legitimate", you operate as if you do when you agree to the implicit bargain that permits passage.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
  • If there are other, legitimate codes of law and temporal authorities beyond that of Imperial Cheliax, than when these codes come into conflict how do you determine which has the greater legitimacy? Either hierarchy alone is enough, in which case other nations ought to be subject to the edicts of Abrogail Thrune II and anyone acting on her authority acts within the law -- and I would remind you, the Hellknight Orders are given explicit extra-legal authority to enforce the laws of Cheliax -- or there exists some other mechanism of determining the relative legitimacy of competing codes.

Asked and answered. Conflict of codes may lead to war, however that is not at issue. When in Cheliax, do as the Chelaxians. Meaning, when I enter your lands, I do so by your sufferance and under the implicit understanding that your laws are sacrosanct to me. Else I am nothing more than a lawless vagabond that you must turn away. Sure, I may follow some personal code, but my subjective personal beliefs/oaths have little value to you and your duty or to the contract presented to me when I step within the borders of Cheliax. Being the honorable sort, I must obey the law.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
  • Defend your standard of warfare or obedience to temporal laws with no middle-ground. Why can I not carry the law with me without declaring personal war? IS there no middle ground? And how is your warfare model any different from the so-called vigilantism that you decry? Under the standard you provide, I may mentally decide 'these are my enemies' whenever I dislike local laws and so act at liberty ... or does this violate some larger principle of Law? Or do you instead mean that it is necessary for a ruler to declare war, in which case how do we explain the dark ages prior to the establishment of monarchies?

Because, "I'll try my best to follow your laws" is not sufficient for me. Either accept my law or don't come in. "Do and enter" or "do not and leave", there is no "try".

I need not defend or even establish a deep philosophical policy as to when one must decide to go to war or not to maintain this argument. What's clear is what I've said in the two answers before now. You may carry the Law of Whatever-You-Wish, with you, whereever you go. But if you tread on my land, then it is with the understanding that those laws are subsumed to my laws while here. That's right. There is no middle ground. I don't say, you may trespass on my lands as long as you obey some laws and disregard others. This is not a garden from which you may choose arbitrarily the vegetables to put in your evening stew.

The difference between the vigilante and war is that in the former, you do not doubt the legitimacy of the ruler, you merely do not accept the ruler's authority over you; you break the social contract, and in the latter, you actively challenge the ruler's right to rule; you declare either to yourself or to your hosts (if you have the courage and honor) that you do not (now) regard them as legitimate.

So, it is either the throwing off of the implicitly understood contract of behavior or it is acquiescing to it. Your hosts do not offer you a middle ground.

But now you demand I justify war to you? Where will your tangents stop? Wars are fought for many reasons. Some wars are just and some are not. This is not within the scope of our argument. All you need to understand is that you are honor-bound to abide by the Law of the Land or to denounce it.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
  • On a related note, you must decide whether you acknowledge the existence of the cosmic principle of Law. And if you do not, than you must explain the relationship between this Law and the laws of men. Consider the hierarchies of Hell and Heaven in your answer.

This is just nonsense, clearly. I can't in one breath say that I do not acknowledge the existence of something and then in the next breath explain how that non-existing thing relates to something else.

I believe in a cosmic principle of morality. I believe that morality is reasoned from an ethic of reciprocity. I believe that Just laws are generally derived from this ethic. I believe that the laws of man are imperfect insofar as they represent the imperfect reasoning of man in trying to rule itself by this reasoning. I believe that the Lawful Good gods and goddesses must endorse such reasoning (if not the exact examples of it) or fail in their wisdom.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
  • What is this 'sovereignty' you speak of? Asmodeus' clerics are fond of inventing words like this and investing them with legal meaning, but outside of Cheliax I have seldom heard the word. If it is merely a statement of legitimacy, than how can Andorran or Galt have any sovereign power, given that they are rebelling citizens of Cheliax and often Chelaxian peoples.

If you understand sovereignty as it applies to Cheliax, then you understand the word and are now just playing for the audience. Quit strutting, peacock. You have already asked this question and I will not repeat myself.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
  • And, finally, you must address the most basic problem of theology in our world: how can there be two paladins with different views if your interpretation of the dictum of paladinhood is so absolute? Can paladins fight on both sides of a war without falling from grace? I remind you that Hellknights fought Hellknights and Paladins fought Paladins during the wars of Chelaxian Succession. History has already answered this question for you.

Because two different people may reason to different conclusions. Some stupidly, as you do here, and some correctly, as I do here. Of course Paladins can fight on both sides of a war without falling from grace, for they follow the law of their land and engage in a struggle for the light of Goodness as they see it; they do not defer to the beliefs of their opponents. I will again refer you to the positions above. I do not agree that Paladins must all abide by the same law at all times and places, but I do believe that Paladins must abide by the Law of the Land in which they find themselves unless they come with hostile intent. They cannot pick and choose the laws they will abide by, for doing so results in chaos and disorder.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And improve your insults. Even a novice has more vitriol than you.

You are a simpleton putting on airs. I do not insult, rather I observe. You insult yourself with each thing you say, I merely hold the mirror that you may see it, too.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
You must not know me well.

The little that I do know informs me of my blessing, for your prating is grating and you express your arrogance by your churlishness. You preen and parade for the audience. This unintentional self-mockery of your accusation of rhetorical arguments is contemptible. Again, I entreat you to improve your arguments or return to Cheliax, as I don't permit your lawless and distasteful self access to my country.


Finarin Panjoro wrote:

Jupistar, I don't disagree with your point about the law of unintended consequences, but that sword cuts both ways. Allowing the law to execute an innocent man can likewise lead to unintended chaotic consequences (loss of faith in the system, defiance, riots, even rebellion) and certainly leads to an evil consequence (the execution of an innocent). It is entirely possible for chaotic consequences to result from lawful acts, especially in a case where two lawful forces are in contention.

In the OP's scenario the paladin is faced with no clear choice, either one has unacceptable consequences. But the only one which is irrevocable is the death of the innocent prisoner (discounting resurrection magic as a remedy since there's no guarantee the prisoner would return or the magic would be available). If the paladin frees the prisoner he then has time to address the consequences of that choice, unintended or not. By submitting himself for judgement by the authority that he's offended he is telling the society that the law is still right and valid and must be upheld, but that it is not absolute. If he finds the evidence of innocence and turns himself and the prisoner back over for judgement he again affirms that authority's legitimacy.

Thanks, Fin. But here again, you admit to understanding the law of unintended consequences, but then don't seem to understand what that means to a deontologist. The deontologist follows the law (in this case, the Law of the Land), because he can't know what the consequences are. You present a good argument (one that I might or might not accept), but it's irrelevant, for it's a chaotic argument. It's one that looks at the consequences of ones actions, first, to determine if they're Good actions, not to the Law or to Order to determine if they're Good. The deontologist (Lawful) does not do this.


jupistar wrote:
Keep in mind that a theives guild becomes an "enemy state", in effect. By establishing their own laws and ignoring the laws of the country and by establishing their own ruling hierarchy and ignoring the ruling heirarchy of the country, they've formed their own autonomous country within the country and they are enemies of each other. In my opinion, the chances of finding a Lawful Good rogue here is very small (because those of Lawful Good alignment are not likely to be attracted to an organization that preys upon other people), but Lawful Neutral and Lawful Evil, are more likely, I would think.

I never implied you COULD find a lawful/good rogue. Simply a lawful one. And my assertion was NOT that 'orderly behavior and discipline and obedience to hierarchy = legal behavior.' All of those states are LAWFUL behavior, and points in my 'lawful=/=legal' stance.

I suppose you might define a thieves' Guild as an 'enemy state' within a larger kingdom, though I think that's a little philosophical for most thieves.

Cheliax

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jupistar wrote:
There was no evasion, just dismissal. One doesn't evade the mosquito, one merely brushes it aside as inconsequential. Your argument, the mosquito, relies upon a ludicrous premise: That the standard individual cannot reasonably determine the boundaries of nations and thus he has just cause to pretend to the illegitimacy of those nations and the rulers there so as to ignore the social contract. It is a vulgar equivocation. I will not stoop to debate the merits of the legitimacy of any singular...

Hah! Better insults. Some sport at least. But you still evade rather than confront. Dismissal does not a rebuttal make. Churlish cowardice.

You have neither considered nor answered, so I will spell it plainly for you: Andorran and Galt are part of Cheliax. They exist presently in armed rebellion, their people lied to and held hostage by self-involved villains and terrorists. I refuse claims to the contrary.

And this is where you fundamentally misunderstand Law. By your argument, strength of arms is sufficient to establish the law of the land and sovereignty. That is the song of chaos. And the basis of Andorran 'liberty'. You have just told me that people 'just know' the laws, and when they fail to understand than the point of a sword and the boots of armies serve to remind them and settle the matter.

Let us first confirm: you have just argued that laws do not matter if you are strong enough to disregard them and assert your own. If this is so, than you respect strength not law. Because I see, from the way you fluster in your defense of Andorran, that you cannot differentiate between a group of bandits and a legitimate army. For example:

jupistar wrote:
Keep in mind that a theives guild becomes an "enemy state", in effect. By establishing their own laws and ignoring the laws of the country and by establishing their own ruling hierarchy and ignoring the ruling heirarchy of the country, they've formed their own autonomous country within the country and they are enemies of each other.

Your arguments are inconsistent. Try harder. Are the thieves citizens subject to the law or enemies outside the law? Are the soldiers that enforce the law over them within the law? Or merely a competing band asserting themselves over the thieves?

This is what I mean when I assert you have no grasp of Law. These problems only exist within the confines of your flawed model. And you assert that paladins:

jupistar wrote:
... but I do believe that Paladins must abide by the Law of the Land in which they find themselves unless they come with hostile intent. They cannot pick and choose the laws they will abide by, for doing so results in chaos and disorder.

So! If they come with the intent of making war, than you believe that the paladin cannot violate their code. The logical conclusion of this thinking is that a paladin intent on making war cannot fall from grace.

So the paladin's code and the law is meaningless. The paladin simply places themselves in conflict with all the world, and so eludes the reach of temporal laws.

---

The alternative -- that Law and Order as principles transcend mortal laws -- neatly solves these issues and explains the plurality of beings both Lawful and Good. But you ... seem to feel that first principles violates the paladin code, since you cannot help but harp on those 'local' and 'legitimate' laws of the land. Those laws that you believe are set down purely by strength. And that the present state of warfare between competing kingdoms and codes of law is a feature of the system, and not disorder itself.

How perverse!


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
So the paladin's code and the law is meaningless.

As long as paladins cry themselves to sleep every night, you'll do fine in my campaign.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
jupistar wrote:
There was no evasion, just dismissal. One doesn't evade the mosquito, one merely brushes it aside as inconsequential. Your argument, the mosquito, relies upon a ludicrous premise: That the standard individual cannot reasonably determine the boundaries of nations and thus he has just cause to pretend to the illegitimacy of those nations and the rulers there so as to ignore the social contract. It is a vulgar equivocation. I will not stoop to debate the merits of the legitimacy of any singular...

Hah! Better insults. Some sport at least. But you still evade rather than confront. Dismissal does not a rebuttal make. Churlish cowardice.

You have neither considered nor answered, so I will spell it plainly for you: Andorran and Galt are part of Cheliax. They exist presently in armed rebellion, their people lied to and held hostage by self-involved villains and terrorists. I refuse claims to the contrary.

You're wrong to assume that I've not considered and you're imbecilic if you think I've not answered and doubly so if you think my answers must match with your position with proper consideration. I will answer plainly, yet again. You don't need to abide by any restrictions set by people who you believe have no authority to enact them. To you, they are not legitimate authorities. However, and I repeat this because you keep not responding to it, I don't see why you would expect them to let you enter the lands they occupy if you don't acquiesce to their rule while in those lands. Or, for that matter, allow you to remain unmolested in "their territory" when you act outside of their restrictions.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And this is where you fundamentally misunderstand Law. By your argument, strength of arms is sufficient to establish the law of the land and sovereignty.

Yes, that is partially true. In truth, it's about submission of the populace to a certain ruler or body of rulers. Strength of arms has been proven throughout history, time and time again, to be an effective method of making the populace submit. It is not always enough to maintain that submission, but it is often sufficient to begin the process.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
That is the song of chaos. And the basis of Andorran 'liberty'. You have just told me that people 'just know' the laws, and when they fail to understand than the point of a sword and the boots of armies serve to remind them and settle the matter.

All law is born from chaos. The universe exists in chaos until it is ordered by intelligent agents. I never said people "just know" the laws. In fact, I never said any of this. Try using reason and not strawmen to make your arguments.

Quit looking for reasons to disagree. Do you deny that Andorrans lead Ordered lives if we discount their "act of rebellion"? Are they inherently Ordered among themselves? I suspect you will be conveniently unable to see past their "rebellion" to understand the meaning of my words. Your density of skull is no longer surprising me.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Let us first confirm: you have just argued that laws do not matter if you are strong enough to disregard them and assert your own. If this is so, than you respect strength not law. Because I see, from the way you fluster in your defense of Andorran, that you cannot differentiate between a group of bandits and a legitimate army.

When it comes to order, it does not matter from where it stems to be "order", unless you also want order that accounts for compassion and Goodness--then it matters.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

For example:

jupistar wrote:
Keep in mind that a theives guild becomes an "enemy state", in effect. By establishing their own laws and ignoring the laws of the country and by establishing their own ruling hierarchy and ignoring the ruling heirarchy of the country, they've formed their own autonomous country within the country and they are enemies of each other.
Your arguments are inconsistent. Try harder. Are the thieves citizens subject to the law or enemies outside the law? Are the soldiers that enforce the law over them within the law? Or merely a competing band asserting themselves over the thieves?

They are not inconsistent. Consider everything I've said deeply. You will find the harmony. You are talking about separate issues.

Can someone be inherently lawful without being good? Yes. So, for example, Cheliax, the home of all sorts of evil beings can be well-ordered under the harsh boots of the Hellknights. A thieves guild, can likewise, not be good and yet still have order. This is lawful.

However, the Hellknights of Cheliax do not recognize the legitimacy of Andoran "rebels" claims to sovereignty. Interestingly, neither do the members of the thieves guild that live among them. You both reject the "laws" of Andorans, but for different reasons. You feel justified, while the thieves guild is just chaotic and with little moral compunction. The difference is that one is an enemy state outside the lands the Andorans claim and the other is an enemy state within the lands the Andorans claim.

However, if you cross into those lands and decide that the "laws" of the Andorans do not govern you, then like the thieves guild, you break the implicit contract the Andorans have with you. The Andorans assume (rightly or wrongly) that those who are on the lands they claim and occupy also recognize their authority and will not break their proclaimed laws. But they also know there are some scum, like the thieves, who reside on their land and yet will not abide by the contract of law. When they find them, they judge them as fairly as they can.

The same applies to you. You either accept this contract or you don't. If you don't (for *whatever* reason), then they are at war with you (just like they are at war with the guild), though they may not yet know it because you've haven't declared your unwillingness to accept their authority. But what you won't do is "partially accept their authority", because that is a meaningless concept.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
So! If they come with the intent of making war, than you believe that the paladin cannot violate their code. The logical conclusion of this thinking is that a paladin intent on making war cannot fall from grace.

Nice piece of nonsense. No. This is a false conclusion brought about by poor reasoning, unsurprisingly frequent for you. A Paladin can violate his code, but not simply by making war. If he goes to war for the right reasons, then clearly not. If he goes to war for the wrong reasons, then clearly yes. I'm suffering here for your obtuseness.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
So the paladin's code and the law is meaningless. The paladin simply places themselves in conflict with all the world, and so eludes the reach of temporal laws.

Wow. Your mastery of language implies you cannot be this stupid, but the evidence is right before me. A dazzling display, for sure.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
The alternative -- that Law and Order as principles transcend mortal laws -- neatly solves these issues and explains the plurality of beings both Lawful and Good. But you ... seem to feel that first principles violates the paladin code, since you cannot help but harp on those 'local' and 'legitimate' laws of the land. Those laws that you believe are set down purely by strength. And that the present state of warfare between competing kingdoms and codes of law is a feature of the system, and not disorder itself.

You have made no sense in your criticisms. You have erected strawmen to fight so as to win and claim victory, only no one cares about these battles.

Answer my question, coward: How is your conscience clear when you avoid your duty by not demanding the Ulfen "paladin" suffer the laws of Cheliax upon crossing the border? If you expect that Paladin to live by his own laws, how do you knowingly let him pass?

I have learned now how Hellknights win debate. It becomes a war of attrition. You ignore every point you can't address and then simply wear your opponents down by uttering unending inanities. The opponent, thinking for sure you have some ability to grasp logic, continues foolishly to debate until they finally give up and in tiredness and frustration say, "Whatever. Sure."

Cheliax

Thou simpering knave, your obtuseness fatigues. The Ulfen had not violated any laws and they were fair travelers upon the road, entitled to the protections therein. If they had committed crime than it would be my duty to punish them. They did not. What more is there to say? The example holds weight because even as I viewed them as being subject to Chelaxian law, they did not believe themselves subject to it. They hastened on their way and there was no conflict.

Answer this then: if I step into Andoran with an army at my back, do you, in your inestimable wisdom believe I act in violation of local law and violate my oaths?

And why can a paladin not simple war against the world? I understand that you are dazzled and need a moment, but I am waiting to hear how your enlightened understanding handles that issue.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Thou simpering knave, your obtuseness fatigues. The Ulfen had not violated any laws and they were fair travelers upon the road, entitled to the protections therein. If they had committed crime than it would be my duty to punish them. They did not. What more is there to say? The example holds weight because even as I viewed them as being subject to Chelaxian law, they did not believe themselves subject to it. They hastened on their way and there was no conflict.

There should be no insult greater than this: You failed in your duty. You allowed a rebellious and lawless being to walk freely among you. Of course he had not violated any laws--he just got there! Would you have allowed a band of Goblins the same leeway?

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Answer this then: if I step into Andoran with an army at my back, do you, in your inestimable wisdom believe I act in violation of local law and violate my oaths?

Yes, you are in violation of local law.

Are you a paladin? I'm not convinced you are. But if you are, you only violate your oaths if you are not justified in entering Andoran with an army at your back. What constitutes justification? Well, firstly have you been given authority to wage war on Andorans by your betters? Or perhaps there is great evil you go to fight? Does your Code of Conduct support your actions? Are you acting as you're expected by the authority and society to which you cleave? Are you punishing those who harm or threaten innocents? Are you helping those in need? Are you doing no evil?

The answers to these questions answer your question, not whether or not you're violating Andoran law.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And why can a paladin not simple war against the world? I understand that you are dazzled and need a moment, but I am waiting to hear how your enlightened understanding handles that issue.

Because not all war is justified within a Paladin's code, oh dense one. A Paladin is not just Lawful, but also Good. Not all war is Good or done with Good intent. If you go to war with the demons of the Worldwound, then its Good. If you to go to war with Ustalav because you want to secure more resources for Cheliax, then its Evil. If you go to war with Ustalav simply because you don't want to abide by their laws while crossing their land, then its Evil.

Your clever dodging is failing you. You're resorting to stupidity even village idiots must surely mock. Harden your back and try harder, for you are falling over yourself now.

Cheliax

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Good. I am glad we are on the same page at last.

Firstly, and I understand that it is difficult for you to understand, but a traveler upon the road that does not bring war with them is permitted to pass. There may be tariffs or tolls, but there is no reason to halt them and there is no oath of obedience at the border. Goblins upon the road? Quite frankly, yes, they too are permitted travel upon the roads despite my continued arguments that they are violent animals scarcely capable of speech. Abadar's law, and a law that nearly every province and prefecture has kept. As for the Ulfen? They had violated no code, they made no war, and they had legitimate business. You would have me ... what? Kill them? Arrest them? On the suspicion that they might break a law in the future? I am actually curious what you believe it is that we do.

Please recall that Order demands consistency and fairness.

Now then:

jupistar wrote:

Yes, you are in violation of local law.

Are you a paladin? I'm not convinced you are. But if you are, you only violate your oaths if you are not justified in entering Andoran with an army at your back. What constitutes justification? Well, firstly have you been given authority to wage war on Andorans by your betters? Or perhaps there is great evil you go to fight? Does your Code of Conduct support your actions? Are you acting as you're expected by the authority and society to which you cleave? Are you punishing those who harm or threaten innocents? Are you helping those in need? Are you doing no evil?

The answers to these questions answer your question, not whether or not you're violating Andoran law.

I do not need your credence to validate my grace, but it is good you have put thought to it. It is, after all, half of the question at hand. Let me outline the points you have made and demonstrate where we find agreement.

We discuss the paladin code, and I ask that you keep focus: the conversation was begun with a question of whether unlawful actions would cost a paladin his grace. Specifically, breaking a man from prison for a righteous reason, and whether this violated the dictate that a paladin respect legitimate authority. You have, throughout this debate, argued that this act does violate the paladin's code and demand atonement, and you have further argued that there is an objective standard by which to judge such things. And, when pressed, you maintain that paladins must obey legitimate authority, specifically the hierarchy of 'betters', such as a feudal lord or king.

Furthermore, the standard by which you defend these contentions is a territory-and-borders model of temporal law, specifically the laws of men and women. You have rejected the codes and edicts of gods and other powers, elevating instead the state as the absolute mechanism of authority. And so you have argued that a paladin that does not respect and adhere to the laws of a state within that state's territories violates his or her oath to respect legitimate authority. Actions outside the law, specifically the local laws of the territory one presently occupies, violate the oath and demand atonement. Things within the law do not. By your words, disregard of local authority and laws constitutes vigilantism and chaos.

Notably you permit an exception to respect for local authority in the case of open warfare. I will return to this point.

---

However, Legitimacy you define in moral terms rather than legal terms. You argue that the legitimacy of a monarch or council derives from their morality, i.e. the good intentions or alignment of the ruler/council/what-have-you, rather than their legality. To whit:

Jupistar wrote:
... We already established that a rightful ruler implies a good and just ruler. However, now we get into some gray area. Kings were considered "rightful rulers" in medieval times and in most fantasy settings, so you can't assume that just because the people disagree with the King, the King isn't a rightful ruler.

Importantly, you admit 'some gray area', and give a nod to legality as the source of legitimacy rather than morality. You also distinguish between local laws and Lawful behavior at times. So clearly you have some understanding of the distinction between Law and Good and laws and Law, you are simply unwilling to maintain focus on one or the other for long.

I will be frank: whenever it suits you, you conflate legality and morality. In your estimation, Good appears to be the precondition of Law. Authority figures cannot be legitimate/rightful unless they are first, in your judgment, good. Laws cannot be legitimate unless they are first, in your judgment, good. Wars cannot be legitimate unless they are first, in your judgment, good.

And that, friend, is rhetoric of convenience. Legality and morality, Law and Good, are separate things. This is not merely my argument, but a truism of all theology in Golarion. The realms of the outer sphere speak to this division, and the effects of these cosmological principles upon the mortal soul are readily apparent.

You and I agree that there exist standards and means by which to discern Lawful actions from Chaotic ones and Good actions from Evil ones. But you do not appear capable of separating these standards from one another, nor at all concerned with how these distinctions between Law and Good interact with the oaths of knighthood. These distinctions are paramount. Codes are the essence of Law. If there exists no objective way to discern these qualities, than we cannot rationally choose Good or Law.

---

But you do permit, within your model, the single exception of warfare. Hostile intent.

Jupistar wrote:
... You don't need to abide by any restrictions set by people who you believe have no authority to enact them. To you, they are not legitimate authorities.
Jupistar wrote:
... A Paladin can violate his code, but not simply by making war. If he goes to war for the right reasons, then clearly not.

Clearly.

Yet when I press you on this, rather than focusing upon law, you again attempt to return to moralities. For the moment, it does not matter to me whether you consider any given war good or evil: I ask and have been asking whether a war is legal. More specifically, whether a paladin would violate their oaths to respect legitimate authority by waging war. Do not evade this and do not tell me that this question cannot be answered independently of the other parts of the Paladin code.

Thus far, your answer has been 'no, they do not violate their oath to respect legitimate authority.' You quickly deploy your moralizing, but those points have no linkage to the question at hand here or my criticism of your flawed conception of Law.

This is why it matters whether a paladin may declare war upon a king or even the world. If, within your model, a paladin is 'sovereign' unto his- or herself, possesses the capacity for judgment, and in that judgment respects no local mortal authorities as legitimate, than by your own premises the paladin has not violated their oath to respect legitimate authority. They may keep their own codes and traditions and bylaws and transgress the laws of others without violating their oath to respect legitimate authority. Thus, a traveling paladin may not respect the laws of orc villages, for instance. Also, should a paladin respects the authority of their village rather than the authority of the local paracount, than that is sufficient. This situation appears to meet your criteria for vigilantism: the use of force and disregard of local laws in the pursuit of moral causes.

This exception unravels everything within your framework: you have said that a paladin cannot be at war with the world on moral grounds, but within your twisted model of law it is permissible on legal grounds. This is supported by your notion of a thieves' guild effectively seceding to form their own government the moment it comes into conflict with the laws of the land; within your model you have not defined or set a lower or upper bound for such recalcitrance, so a single individual may enjoy the same freedom to choose which laws are legitimate and which are 'of the enemy'. The individuals in question may run afoul of questions of morality depending on their actions, but purely from the perspective of legality the exception for warfare within your model completely destroys the model's ability to separate legitimate laws from illegitimate ones, and lawful actions from unlawful actions.

You cannot have it both ways. If the standard for lawful behavior is objective, than it cannot shift from year to year and season to season depending on who sits upon the throne, what laws their scribes issue to the constabulary, or what state presently occupies a piece of land in force. If the legitimacy and legality of a law or action depends on these things, than it is by definition subjective. And if the mechanism of authority is the state, than you must have a means of defining what constitutes a legitimate state: new states cannot simply come into being at will, else any individual may simply declare themselves sovereign when it suits their whims.

Furthermore, you cannot assert that the standard of legitimate authority is the state AND assert that borders and laws are absolute and inarguable. Borders and laws are arguable while the legitimacy of states remains in question, and similarly the illegitimacy of some states forfeits their claims to territory. To reiterate the concrete example: I do not perceive Andoran to be a legitimate state, nor do I believe the pack of rebels and liars there that call themselves a government to have legal authority. They are, rather, criminals still eluding Chelaxian law. Andorans surely and vociferously argue that Cheliax has no legitimacy on account of their propaganda-soaked idiocy. Whether you accept one side's position or the other, under our mortal laws neither the territory nor the rightful authority of either state can be absolutely demonstrated due to this disagreement.

And the only recourse you have provided within your model is deference to the state of nature, that the rightful law is the law dictated by those with the strength to make it so. That borders and territories follow accordingly. I must agree that the state of nature is chaotic, nasty, brutal and short. And that law holds sway only where we have the strength to make it so. But if mere strength were enough to establish legitimate authority, than we have not escaped the state of nature. We are not elevated in any way, shape or manner. Strength cannot be the source of legitimacy. If it were, than the Paladin code would require only respect to those beings stronger than oneself. That way lies the philosophy of chaos.

---

Fair argumentation also demands I repeat my alternative to the model you present. Namely, the model that mortal laws are merely tools for promoting the principle of Law -- understood via its components, Order, Discipline and Mercilessness. Legitimate authority draws its legitimacy from its dedication to the principle of Law. Thus, within the paladin code, respect for legitimate authority means respect for the principle of Law.

I have presented the fruit of our philosophy already. Proper application of the Chain and the Measure in the life and actions of the Hellknight ensures Lawful conduct, and governing authorities across Golarion have called upon the Hellknight Orders to aid them in upholding public order. A Hellknight, no matter where he or she travels, carries the Chain in the heart and the hand and so brings the principle of Law with them. Even into the lawless wilds and the most corrupt and unjust courts.

This model is consistent within itself and with our cosmological and theological knowledge. It explains the existence of paladins and Hellknights on opposing sides in civil war, as well as how paladins may emerge from the peoples of places without legitimacy under mortal law like Andoran. It does not succumb under the vicissitudes of territory disputes, nor does it fail in the absence of obvious government, because this model does not require either to exist for a paladin or Hellknight to behave Lawfully. It is a model consistent with both the chaotic and immoral state of nature and chief aim of all Lawful and Good beings: a world of perfected order, free from the contradictions and inconsistencies of our mortal laws.

You do seem to understand that orderly behavior and discipline and obedience to heirarchy constitutes Lawful behavior. So I do not imagine that you truly disagree so much as you want to insert the imperfect laws of men between a paladin and their code. For reasons that I will not speculate on here.

With each passing year, we aspire toward the perfected codes, statues and contracts of the First Vault.

---

I will return us, then, to the beginnings of the debate, the hypothetical example of a man imprisoned by a court facing death because of a conspiracy to falsely implicate him for murder. Under your model, after approaching what solutions exist within the law the paladin, if we assume the paladin has failed to right things, than the paladin faces three choices: first, to fail their oath by not helping one in need, and perhaps fall; second, to fail their oath by freeing the 'innocent' man in defiance of legitimate authority, and perhaps fall; third, to wage war upon the state because it is illegitimate.

That is why you are perverse and chaotic. You imagine the code of paladinhood -- or any oath, for that matter -- to be a trap. You want to see paladins fall and oaths violated. You cannot imagine a world wherein chaos does not reign, and you are determined to reimagine the principle of Law and the laws of men to meet your vivid phantasmagoria.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Good. I am glad we are on the same page at last.

Nice try, but rather an amateurish opening line. At the very least, I commend you for taking my exhortations to heart and doing a much better job this time. Worthy of salute. Still a lot of , though.

To help you keep things straight and your mind clear, I'm going to try to establish some definitions of principles for you.

Principle G: That morality which defines Good as being reasoned from an Ethic of Reciprocity, or that morality which defines Good as being reasoned from a utilitarian view that creates the greatest happiness and greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.

Principle L: Any code of ethics which constrains behavior to maintain Just Order and accountability among equals (I will not define equals at this time, so feel free to equivocate upon this issue, if you must).

Principle LG: That beliefset that all versions of codified law should strive to adhere to Principle L and not conflict with Principle G.

Paladins maintain Principle LG. That is, their devotion to Law and Goodness and their Code of Conduct require that they adhere to Principle L and oppose conflicts with Principle G. The further codified law differs from Principle LG, the more likely the Paladin is to reject it; regard it is illegitimate and rulers ruling by it illegitimate.

On National Legitimacy
The determination of the legitimacy of nations and the rulers therein has always been a difficult matter and sparked many debates and wars over the millenia. Either because those you serve contend with others or because there is no general consensus about the validity of rulership in a given territory or the exact boundaries are contested. As a result, strength of arms usually wins the day where such things are in dispute--whether the implication of that strength or the actual application of the strength is irrelevant.

But this does not change the process by which Order is imposed on populace, it merely makes it unclear what Order will be applied. In these cases, where borders and nations are contested--not just vocally, but with strength of arms--then chaos obtains and the Paladin must first look to his own law and authority before the laws of the contesting nations. But, even so, it would be best to tread carefully in such places or one might find oneself in the noose. It is good when one's church or one's lord has already ruled which side is recognized. But without direction, one must choose wisely or not at all, recognizing the chaos that reigns.

I will add to and update these as necessary going forward. As these are an initial draft, I would not consider them polished. Try to understand them as intended.

==========================

Your problem throughout this debate is that you attempt to use exceptional circumstances to break the rules. If those exceptions then require rule exceptions, you would claim victory. But when your exceptions fail to break the rule, you fail to recognize it. You simply attempt to latch on to the next difficulty or unfinished piece of logic. Yours is a gap argument. You look for gaps in explanation and reason and attempt to fill them with criticism and pronouncement of failure, not reason of your own. Much of this stuff I discuss you could easily figure out on your own, I'm certain of it. But because you're trying to fight me, you don't try.

One thing I find myself doing is explaining obvious truths to you and in great pain-staking detail. And as I do so, I find myself having to get even more granular to avoid your ridiculous gap-attacking approach. What this means is that I can never satisfy you because you will continue to look deeper and smaller for the smallest of cracks. You can do this infinitely, like repeatedly perfectly cutting a tongue in half; no matter how much you cut, there's always something left to halve.

Understand, though, the subjects of morality, law, and society has kept philosophers busy for years and has filled many musty tomes, but you can't seem to accept even basic principles forcing me to defend the nature of war and the legitimacy of rulers. Refusing to admit to a social contract is one perfect such example. If someone denies the basic constructs of logic or the basic underpinnings of civilization, then that someone and I are not speaking the same language. We can't communicate. If you deny the principle of the Law of Noncontradiction, for instance, then we can't communicate. If you deny the existence of a social contract, for instance, then we have no common ground. I have no desire to teach you and convince you of basic political philosophy. I'm not sure I have the skill or knowledge to do so, anyway.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

Firstly, and I understand that it is difficult for you to understand, but a traveler upon the road that does not bring war with them is permitted to pass. There may be tariffs or tolls, but there is no reason to halt them and there is no oath of obedience at the border. Goblins upon the road? Quite frankly, yes, they too are permitted travel upon the roads despite my continued arguments that they are violent animals scarcely capable of speech. Abadar's law, and a law that nearly every province and prefecture has kept. As for the Ulfen? They had violated no code, they made no war, and they had legitimate business. You would have me ... what? Kill them? Arrest them? On the suspicion that they might break a law in the future? I am actually curious what you believe it is that we do.

Please recall that Order demands consistency and fairness.

Let us be clear. If you stand on the border of my land and tell me, "I'm entering your country and I will not abide by your laws. Good luck catching me." or if I already know this about you, I also won't try to kill you or arrest you. I will simply bar your passage. We don't allow lawless people in our lands. The only way you die is if you contest my right to prevent your entry. Why will I bar your passage? Because I require obedience to the law of my land. That you don't require such in your land is proof that you are neglectful in your duty. Most people who enter your land are aware they are subject to the laws of your land and act accordingly. The agreement is implicit. But you already know, for you told me as much, that the Ulfen paladin will follow the laws of his land and his people. This is fine where those laws overlap, but it is not fine where they don't. Thus he breaks the implicit understanding of the international itinerant.

This is such a basic conception, I'm dumbfounded you can't grasp it. In fact, after working through the convoluted logic of the rest of this post, I can't actually believe you're as dunderheaded as this. Which means you're either delusional or refusing to admit to this truth. I'm hoping the former is true, but suspect it is the latter. If it is the latter, then any further discussion with you is merely a waste of time. If you can see when you're wrong and won't admit to it, then the only possible value to continuing is to illustrate these points to others. But as lengthy as these posts are, I question if anyone else actually takes the time to work through them. I applaud you for, at least, not playing the silly game of admitting to a small mistake so as to appear open-minded thereby attempting to give greater credibility to your larger argument.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

...Let me outline the points you have made and demonstrate where we find agreement...

You have rejected the codes and edicts of gods and other powers, elevating instead the state as the absolute mechanism of authority.

No, I did not. I merely stated that: 1) To date, no one has presented to me a codified tome of any divine laws complete with exceptions, subsections, addenda, and footnotes by which we may know what constrains our interactions with others. 2) If you adhere to such laws, you must realize that you are in contention with host countries who should be warned, as well--assuming you are honorable or your church's or order's teachings are publicly known. They would then have to make the choice whether to accept your punishable, but law-breaking attitudes or to expel and bar your people from the land. For my part, I would choose the second option, unless you offered me compensatory benefit--and it would need to be a valuable benefit, indeed, to warrant supporting individuals who feel justified in taking the law into their own hands, violating the ruling of my courts, and assaulting my soldiers.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And so you have argued that a paladin that does not respect and adhere to the laws of a state within that state's territories violates his or her oath to respect legitimate authority.

Again, no. I have argued ad nauseum that a hostile paladin that enters a country under the umbrella of the social contract would not be acting honorably and those that openly take a hostile position to the country would not likely be permitted to remain. Paladins in a given country would usually fall into one of three categories: (a) honorably acquiescing to the "sovereign right" claimed by the factual (even if "legally illegitimate") rulers of the land, this is the standard case, or (b) by special dispensation, or (c) by dishonorably hiding under the umbrella of the social contract. Of these paladins, those in category (a) are the most oath-breaking when they violate the Law of the Land, and those in (c) are next in line for sullying their honor. Those in category (b) are obviously not oath-breakers. Our focus, however, is not on the exceptions, but the standard case. The Condemned Innocent dilemma put to us implied that the paladin was subject to the law and thus was in category (a)--which is why it is clear he could not violate the law without breaking his oath.

You've already acknowledged as much, for you have already agreed that your authority to act extra-legally is not derived from some deity or from some external law, but from your very own queen. It is not an appeal to some codified deific legislation you make here. Your suggestion that paladins that wish to remain true to some external law should petition for special dispensation is a good one.

And so...

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Actions outside the law, specifically the local laws of the territory one presently occupies, violate the oath and demand atonement. Things within the law do not. By your words, disregard of local authority and laws constitutes vigilantism and chaos.

...is also a strawman. There are two actions of relevance in your argument: Actions outside the local law after having first bargained in good faith to comply with the law to be allowed entry (whether implicitly or explicitly) violate the oath. Actions outside the local law of a nation with whom you have not made this bargain and with whom you hold hostile intent do not violate the oath.

You do recognize this later, but you do so in a strange way as we will see.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
However, Legitimacy you define in moral terms rather than legal terms... Importantly, you admit 'some gray area', and give a nod to legality as the source of legitimacy rather than morality. You also distinguish between local laws and Lawful behavior at times. So clearly you have some understanding of the distinction between Law and Good and laws and Law, you are simply unwilling to maintain focus on one or the other for long.

I don't hold one to the exclusion of the other when dealing with a person aligned to both Law and Good. The two are inextricably interwined. Thus, you think:

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
I will be frank: whenever it suits you, you conflate legality and morality. In your estimation, Good appears to be the precondition of Law. Authority figures cannot be legitimate/rightful unless they are first, in your judgment, good. Laws cannot be legitimate unless they are first, in your judgment, good. Wars cannot be legitimate unless they are first, in your judgment, good.

And I'll be frank, as well: whenever it suits, you equivocate to make a point, you develop strawmen to attack, and you look away from truths that are embarassing to your arguments. Keep in mind that we are talking, first and foremost, about Paladins - believers in both Goodness, Lawfulness, and who adhere to a Code of Conduct. As a result, these concepts have to be seen as a whole, not in individual parts where they can be argued to the exclusion of the others. That's like saying you are a grasping thing, because you are, in some part, a hand. Yes, you grasp (at straws), but that is not all you are or all you do, and cannot be used to define you.

Therefore we have to view the issue of legitimacy as the paladin sees it:

Legitimacy of rulership is seen by most of the world to be, in part about Order, but also in part about strength of arms. Let us concern ourselves for the moment with Cheliax and Andoran, since it seems important to you, prior to rebellion. Cheliax is a nation with a set of laws that promotes peace and attempts to ensure justice. A small part of Cheliax does not believe that Cheliax is a Good country and rises up to throw off the laws and rulership of Cheliax. The citizens of this area proclaim themselves independent--establishing a country of their own under sovereign self-rule--and take the title Andoran (an old name for the local area).

At that time, Cheliax is justified in viewing Andoran as nothing more than a rebellious territory creating disorder (breaking the law, usurping the rights of Chelaxian rulership, and disrupting commerce and the lives of innocents). They are, therefore, further justified in trying to pacify this rebellion to return Order to the lands. However, they failed to do so. Now the area known as Andoran, as those rebels call themselves, has settled and so has the remainder of Cheliax. Andorans enact and enforce their own laws, creating order for themselves. Cheliax finds itself unable to control the area anymore. If Cheliax attempts an invasion now, it's justification for doing so is much less legitimate, for Order has once again settled on both nations and the authority that once was held by Cheliax has been clearly wrested away by strength of arms. All that remains are the claims, of Cheliax, and maybe a desire to spread uniform order across the lands. But since other countries also recognize the legitimacy of the Andoran borders, Chelaxian claims have even less weight. Now, invasion is simply wrong, for it brings more chaos and loss of innocent life, than it brings Order and Good.

But, to a paladin, the question of legitimacy is often determined by more than merely Law. A sampling of the questions asked when the Paladin attempt to ascertain legitimacy--are the rulers Good or promoting public Good and Order through Just laws? do those rulers have the respect of most nations (have they established their sovereign rights)? do my superiors or my deity recognize the legitimacy of those rulers?

In passing, I must mention that it is your codes such as "None Are Innocent" that implies to me you are not in fact a paladin. A paladin implicitly knows that all people fall short of moral perfection, but may still be held blameless in the whole: no one should suffer or die unjustly. But some things cannot be helped, such as tornados, floods, and mistakes in legal systems. The goal then is to build tornado-proof structures on flood-protected foundations and heights, and to create a lawful structure that minimizes mistakes to the greatest degree possible.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And that, friend, is rhetoric of convenience. Legality and morality, Law and Good, are separate things. This is not merely my argument, but a truism of all theology in Golarion. The realms of the outer sphere speak to this division, and the effects of these cosmological principles upon the mortal soul are readily apparent.

They are separate, to you. But not to the Paladin. All of the rest of your argument rests on the notion that the two items are somehow exclusive to each other. For a Paladin, morality precedes law and laws ought to be, but not all necessarily must be, derived from the former--and should never be in opposition to the former. They are intertwined to a Paladin just as they are in his Code of Conduct. And morality is objective to all things, for it is derived from brute facts: e.g. If Iomedae or Serenrae or Torag believed in the random slaughter of people, would they still be considered Good deities? Of course not. Moral truths obtain regardless their champions, including divinity. But Law does not obtain without some agent creating it and is thus subjective to their edicts, force of will and personality, or force of power.

You do, however, make a point that should be addressed simply because it will, I hope, bring clarity. And I want to again salute you for the mastery with which you present this point. However, you have failed to once again to keep in mind my basic premises. Your argument is encapsulated in the following sentence:

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
This exception unravels everything within your framework: you have said that a paladin cannot be at war with the world on moral grounds, but within your twisted model of law it is permissible on legal grounds.

This is true. If you rip apart the two conceptions and hold them up alone, this is absolutely true. A Paladin, standing on an island that he claims as his own kingdom, worshiping some God no one has ever heard of that issues no edicts concerning war, is perfectly capable of declaring war on the world from a purely Lawful point of view for there is no Law governing his behavior beyond that which he creates for himself. As a good person, he in fact embodies a person who is both LG or NG. He has a personal code, but holds that personal code as an objective code for all of his people--that just happens to be solely himself.

But being Good, this hypothetical, island-isolated, unknown-God-worshipping paladin would never declare war on every other nation. How he handles the ones he does view as illegitimate (an evil place like Cheliax?) is unclear. By himself, he could not very well defeat all of that country. As a point of honor, he should not enter the country under the umbrella of the social contract unless he's willing to abide by it. But what do with a nation who you count as the enemy, who you're not ready to engage in war, and who's lands you have great need to enter or cross. You acquiesce to their laws, unless doing so would violate your Code of Conduct. If the latter is true, then you must in honor cross the land and expect to challenge every non-innocent you meet or accept dishoner and slink across the land.

As an aside: That's about the singular paladin. There are none. All paladins belong to a church and to a deity. These paladins, at the very least, have higher authorities in the church, even if no codified law. Thus, there are other people for such paladins to turn to when judging the legitimacy of nations and their rulers.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
You cannot have it both ways. If the standard for lawful behavior is objective, than it cannot shift from year to year and season to season depending on who sits upon the throne, what laws their scribes issue to the constabulary, or what state presently occupies a piece of land in force. If the legitimacy and legality of a law or action depends on these things, than it is by definition subjective. And if the mechanism of authority is the state, than you must have a means of defining what constitutes a legitimate state: new states cannot simply come into being at will, else any individual may simply declare themselves sovereign when it suits their whims.

I most certainly can have it both ways. Objectivity is a peculiar word that so many equivocate upon. In the sense we mean it and is relevant: if something is objective it is understood to be a thing which is perceived or thought of, not a thing thought up. Meaning, it is a thing external to the thinker or conceiver. So, it doesn't matter if the law, as codified by some governor or governorship, is changed by the hour, it is an objective matter to the Paladin and all others who must abide by it. The only real question is whether or not such ever-frequently-shifting law does creates its own chaos.

See, Order is not just a harmonious system of interlocking or neatly divided, but disparate pieces, it is instead such a system over time. We can order something and then reorder it and then reorder it. But if we do this thrice-ordering in a matter of moments, then we have chaos spanning those moments. But we have order in the between moments. If those moments occur in a nation each one millenia apart, then for the majority of 2000 years that nation would know order and internal peace. Humanity does well with just and immutable laws and does poorly with unjust and constantly shifting laws. Thus, the Paladin would be opposed to regular upheavals to the Law of the Land, hence his support of pacifying rebellion, and would be opposed to unjust laws, hence his opposition to laws such as the rumored jus primae noctis.

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And the only recourse you have provided within your model is deference to the state of nature, that the rightful law is the law dictated by those with the strength to make it so. That borders and territories follow accordingly. I must agree that the state of nature is chaotic, nasty, brutal and short. And that law holds sway only where we have the strength to make it so. But if mere strength were enough to establish legitimate authority, than we have not escaped the state of nature. We are not elevated in any way, shape or manner. Strength cannot be the source of legitimacy. If it were, than the Paladin code would require only respect to those beings stronger than oneself. That way lies the philosophy of chaos.

And this is a wonderful piece of logic that goes awry just at the end. Yes, we cannot fully and truly escape the state of nature, no matter how we dress it up, for we are natural beings. In fact, the philosophers have said as much. But that does not mean that we cannot, in pockets of humanity, exert an amount of control over the machinations of human affairs. We clearly can form governments and we do. Those governments clearly can apply order to a region and do so regularly with justice and fairness, applying Good Law to the populace.

But even if you were fully correct, you then go from, "not escaping the state of nature", to, "not elevated in any way, shape or manner". The latter piece of rhetoric simply does not follow from the former. Individuals are indeed able to be elevated through their conception of and adherence to moral truth. And for the Paladin, elevation is even greater, for he conceives and adheres to moral truths combined with nobility and adherence to just law--and encourages all individuals to embrace this mentality. You use the term "we", but "we" is an abstraction. I can be lifted by reason and discipline and a clear perception of morality. I have doubts about you, however. Regardless, if enough individuals are lifted, then societies are lifted implicitly, because this abstraction "we" applies to groups of individuals.

I should now address your final two points, but I will reverse them for the sake of continuity:

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

I will return us, then, to the beginnings of the debate... Under your model, after approaching what solutions exist within the law the paladin [unsuccessfully]... the paladin faces three choices: first, to fail their oath by not helping one in need, and perhaps fall; second, to fail their oath by freeing the 'innocent' man in defiance of legitimate authority, and perhaps fall; third, to wage war upon the state because it is illegitimate.

That is why you are perverse and chaotic. You imagine the code of paladinhood -- or any oath, for that matter -- to be a trap. You want to see paladins fall and oaths violated. You cannot imagine a world wherein chaos does not reign, and you are determined to reimagine the principle of Law and the laws of men to meet your vivid phantasmagoria.

You present false dilemmas and draw false conclusions. In actuality, I desire to see paladins succeed and oaths maintained for I am a great supporter of those most noble individuals. It is, in fact, my belief that most every contributor to this great debate, to date, with notable exceptions (yourself included), adhere to a belief in chaos-driven deeds. They relabel chaotic deeds as lawfulness simply because it makes them feel good--so that they may prance around in paladin-style clothing and the weight of divine power behind them--without having to make hard choices. There is a very clear situation that obtains in the Condemned Innocent:

a) Either the paladin accepts the Law of the Land as rightful and legitimate which would be hard to dispute if it is clear, uncontested, just, impartial, and imposes order on the land, and cannot then violate it, even to save the life of an innocent--for helping others in need here would be bringing about chaotic ends--
b) or he does not accept the Law of the Land and then must save the innocent who is in need of aid.

I see no gray area here.

You, at the very least, admit to acting extra-legally, granted such authority by a higher authority (which is inherently self-contradictory). You are an instrument of the law in your land and as such you are given the power to correct injustices. If you can act outside the law in accordance with your own subjective judgments, regardless the objective guidelines you draw on, then you are an instrument of chaos in an otherwise ordered system. I'm not ready to argue that this is a paladin oath-breaking issue, since any judgment rendered by any reasoning being amounts to chaos--it is an inevitability--but more of an observation.

Finally, we have this:

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
...I have presented the fruit of our philosophy already. Proper application of the Chain and the Measure in the life and actions of the Hellknight ensures Lawful conduct, and governing authorities across Golarion have called upon the Hellknight Orders to aid them in upholding public order...

Yes, yes. I'm very interested in the law produced by this Chain and this Measure. Where can I procure a copy of your laws complete with exceptions, sections, subsections. Does it include tax law? Does it include marital law? Laws regarding children or labor or both combined? Does it contain anything evil by most objective standards, such as jus primae noctis?

You talk about the "Principle of Law" without even once defining it, just vaguely mentioning the components Order, Discipline and Mercilessness. That's rather vague. In fact, that's rather useless. Do you have a written set of laws or not?

Unless I'm missing something, it seems to me that we have two possibilities:

1) If you do have a complete set of laws by which you are directed to interact with other beings human and non-human, then it is subjective to (s/t)he(y) who created it, whether it be an ruling body or individual, divine or otherwise. And no law is quintessentially clear since it must be written using human language which is imperfect and interpreted by the human mind which is imperfect, so subjective judgments must still be made no matter who wrote it.

2) If you don't have a complete set of laws by which you are directed to interact with other beings human and non-human, then (a) you're beholden to the same set of rules and laws as everyone else--unless, of course, you're given special dispensation--who coexist on the land with you, unless no set of rules and laws obtain--such as in the wild, or (b) you're making chaotic judgments as you go along using some basic principles to guide you. This last possibility is a huge problem for paladins, because that sort of chaos is too great.

Cheliax

The Ulfen did not say "I will not obey your laws".

And before we proceed, I would like for you to cite where I reject or refute social contract theory.

The rest can wait.


Why not just have the paladin offer to champion the guy and request a trial by combat against the accusers champion? That way he defends the innocent and doesn't break the spirit or the letter of the law?


If you remove quotes from Jupistar's post, copy and past it into word. Delete all formatting. Make it times new roman 12 point font, AND then double space it,

It comes out to about 12 pages of text.

Filibuster vigilantly. Awesome though, as a lot of it applies to the 15 page masters moral philosophy paper I am writing between reading this!

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