Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

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


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

251 to 300 of 374 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>

This isn't about subjectivism on the part of anyone but the paladin, himself. I'll repeat myself:

You are equivocating upon this issue. What does the paladin know or believe? He has absolute certainty that this guy is innocent. But is he, in fact, innocent? In the original scenario he is assumed to be so. In my scenario he isn't. I'm asking you, why does the truth actually matter in relation to what the paladin believes?

In both cases he believes it to be true and as far as I'm concerned he can believe it for the same reasons in both scenarios. Is he right to act on his belief or not?


He knows he is innocent, he believes he is innocent. He is, in fact, innocent because there is evidence of a conspiracy and this is known by the paladin, but not the court. They see what they have been given, the paladin knows there is more than the fabrications, and that the fabrications are indeed lies, and thus has to choose how he should act.

"But is he, in fact, innocent?" In the original situation, indeed the framed target was.

"I'm asking you, why does the truth actually matter in relation to what the paladin believes?" The truth matters because the paladin is fortunate, he knows the truth of it, and has a number of choices on how to act to prevent the loss of the framed man to the forces of evil conspiracy. This creates a role-playing opportunity.

"In both cases he believes it to be true and as far as I'm concerned he can believe it for the same reasons in both scenarios. Is he right to act on his belief or not?" Ah no. The reasons for his belief cannot be the same in both, because in one there was a conspiracy, and in your creation, there was not. In the adventure idea, there was things to find out, people to pursue, evil to slay, wrongs to right. In your example, there was nothing more to find.


Loyalist: that is the most nonsensical post you've made in this thread. You're basically taking a I-stick-my-fingers-in-my-ears-and-hum denial approach. You don't want to understand that ultimately, all knowledge is based on belief and all certainty, including yours and mine now is a matter of subjective sufficiency. At no point can the paladin have sufficient knowledge to justify his actions, not of the crime, not of the prisoner, and most certainly not of the future.

You say that, "The reasons for his belief cannot be the same in both, because in one there was a conspiracy, and in your creation, there was not." But that's a non-sequiter. A person comes to believe in something through evidence. The evidence can be the same in two scenarios where the facts are different. In the first case, he believes he has unconvered evidence of a conspiracy, in the second case, he believes that as well, only the evidence was brilliantly faked (falsely planted memories in people, charmed people overheard saying things, illusions). All knowledge comes to us through the senses or through reason - our senses are easily fooled.

You can't get over the notion that in the original scenario, the prisoner is "innocent" and thus you can't see this with objective eyes. To see it with objective eyes, you have to get past the bias.

In fact, I don't even think this is a good argument to prove the point I'm trying to make. But I have to make this argument to get you past the "facts of the case" to look at the underlying principles. You want to reject my scenario because a lawful person doesn't break that guy out of jail, yet the implications of what that means threatens your view that the paladin breaks out the other guy. But to the paladin, it's the same guy regardless of the truth - he has a subjective view of the situation. You add in all this stuff about adventuring and the types of evidence and so forth. That's all fluff. The facts are: the paladin is convinced, for whatever reason, and in one case he's right and in one case he's wrong. That should be irrelevant to your position as to how this paladin behaves, but clearly it's not.

I suspect other people will double-down and say, "Well, if he's convinced, he should still do it." I have my doubts that even one of you will admit you're wrong. In fact, I've made tons of credible arguments. I've shown it from a philosophical, game rules, and practical point of view. All I hear are criticisms using "exceptions" and the repeated statement, "paladins protect the innocent because they're good and they help people in need". That's it.

Your arguments all amount to a feel-good position that does nothing to examine principles or righteousness before the law and denies all the risks to others, it denies the sovereignty of the court, it denies the chaotic nature of the deed, it denies the limited wisdom of the paladin, it denies the honor of the paladin, it denies the bonds of the social contract, it denies the impracticality of everyone who believes a person is innocent having the equal obligation to break those persons out of jail, and it denies the value of social order to the rest of the populace.


Urrgh. You will insult me if you want. Then, try and claim I can't admit I am wrong. How confident be ye, how terrible I am. My supposed bias and that I horrendously don't dance to the tune of your argument, I care nothing for this!

I am interested in gaming. Not in long-winded philosophy claiming all positions are subjective and this pasted into a game. When the condition facing the paladin is initially clear, they need only choose and role-play their response. If the situation is unclear, then it is the responsibility of the player to make it less-so, to find out what is really going on, to possible use magic or get help, and to choose their course. This is adventuring, and playing a detective or advocate adventure. It is not only that simple, it is necessary for the paladin to be that decisive.

If they sit back like Hamlet, the accused dies. If they are confused as to how to proceed and stuck in the shallow web of possible opinions and multiple truths, the accused dies. If they can find nothing after being given ample time, the accused dies. If they are wrong about freeing the prisoner, they may lose their powers, they and the accused may die. Fortunately, the worlds of fantasy gaming have many avenues to find out truth, and less time is needed to be spent fixating on who won't move their opinions in something that isn't high philosophy, but a choice in a game when presented with some information.

Some of your sentences could use some work: "You want to reject my scenario because a lawful person doesn't break that guy out of jail, yet the implications of what that means threatens your view that the paladin breaks out the other guy." This is a very long form of getting my position wrong. I think you meant to say, I was wrong for a reason, somewhere. I especially liked your end conclusion there, where you bolster yourself and attack everyone else. Truly you must be great and mighty.

So now move onto something else. Or keep trying to win something that doesn't need to be won, because it is a hypothetical. You can understand why I don't take this seriously, or read all of your paragraphs?


"You can understand why I don't take this seriously, or read all of your paragraphs?" Then why bother reading anything at all here and why bother responding?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Strange definition of "insulting".


Hello Gorb. The opening:

"Loyalist: that is the most nonsensical post you've made in this thread. You're basically taking a I-stick-my-fingers-in-my-ears-and-hum denial approach."

Is what I meant. It was a brilliant primer to not be read.


jupistar wrote:
"You can understand why I don't take this seriously, or read all of your paragraphs?" Then why bother reading anything at all here and why bother responding?

Ahh, you misunderstand. You are confusing the rest of the thread and anything here, with yourself.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
jupistar wrote:
"You can understand why I don't take this seriously, or read all of your paragraphs?" Then why bother reading anything at all here and why bother responding?
Ahh, you misunderstand. You are confusing the rest of the thread and anything here, with yourself.

Understood, this will be my last post to you.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've read through all of this discussion, and what I find interesting is that most of the posts seem to me to be exploring whether freeing the Innocent Condemned is or is not a Lawful Good act, which is a very complicated problem, and depends on various definitions of Law or Good. But they mostly miss the point about whether or not it is something that a Paladin should do.

For a Paladin, the question is much simpler. A Paladin does not have to worry about whether or not an action is Lawful Good in the abstract -- they have to worry about whether or not the action follows their particular Code. A Paladin who always follows their Code will by consequence remain Lawful Good.

So what should a Paladin do in this situation?

They should look at the specifics of their code. The answer may be spelled out in plain text. Some codes may prioritize defending the innocent. Some may prioritize following secular law. Many codes will consider secular law to be completely superfluous to the decision, with only religious law being germane.

But lets say the text of the code is ambiguous. Fortunately, a Lawful Good religion will have a substantial body of work devoted to exploring such questions. There will be volumes upon volumes explaining what the code actually means. And, unlike in our world, much of this will be objectively provable, as it will be based on measurable, factual results -- what has caused a Paladin to fall in the past, what has the deity revealed in conversations on the subject, what causes an Aura to shift towards good, evil, law, or chaos. All a Paladin need to is consult with these volumes, or members of his church, and the action he should undertake should be revealed.

But maybe the Paladin is out in the field and has none of these resources available to him. Then he should pray for guidance. His deity should make clear the way forward, if only via the results of a Knowledge: Religion check.

Ultimately, Paladins have a very easy time of things, because they have a process. GMs on the other hand -- they're the one's who have the dilemma, because they're the ones who have to make all those rulings.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

And a strange definition of equivocating.

The words of men are subjective, but there I am others exists truth. It is known by the gods, and it may be discerned by reasoning men and women.

Jupistar does not, apparently, believe that reasoning beings can possibly escape ignorance. He appears to believe in a state of nature from which we can never escape. He believes himself 'winning' at points of logic and reasoning because he has said that he is winning, and he appeals to an invisible audience that has already come to agreement with him.

Such a perverse and chaotic hand at debate. And a fine rhetorician. He filibusters and confuses and projects his failings onto the arguments and positions of others.

Exquisite.

---

As there are no limits upon the round here and these emotional entreaties provide amusement, the debate continues. And make no mistake, this debate has transcended its roots: it has become a debate concerning the basic cosmological foundations upon which Golarion rests and the place of mortal laws within Golarion. Accordingly:

Jupistar wrote:
Seeing the symptoms of a life devoted to a singular alignment doesn't tell me much about the concepts of Good or Law, only that intent and attitude and action affects the soul accordingly.

Precisely! These principles resonate with our actions and intents, and when one lives for the principle of Law one's soul becomes more Lawful. We can see the Order upon it. Even if it defies precise measurement, it is there.

Our souls and the blessings of the gods do not resonate with mortal laws, but rather these principles, and laws are nothing more than tools of mortal life and government. A system, law, or government does not have this inherent cosmological weight. Only the will and purpose of men and women comes with such.

And so, when we are speaking of the paladin's code and the gods that give their blessings to paladins, when we are concerned with what actions may or may not cause a god to withdraw their grace from a chosen champion, why does Jupistar continue to defend mortal laws an institutions as the well from which the soul draws water?

What is most egregious is that he already inherently understands the Principle of Law. His metrics for Law ground the legitimacy of laws firmly within the Principle of Law: to be legitimate, a law must impose order. It must be just. It must be fair. But what he cannot seem to do is separate Good from Law. Nor acknowledge that in the question of the soul being discussed that specific local laws hold no meaning.

So no. Jupistar does not argue that a Lawful person or a Paladin should follow the Principle of Law. He just refuses to acknowledge the distinction between the tool and the purpose. He believes the gods should punish paladins who break 'local laws' that people believe to be legitimate, no matter how deceived, dull or stupid those people may be. In fact, he ascribes moral weight to courts, laws and governments, as though these institutions of men have life of their own, a soul and spirit that might be called lawful or good or chaotic.

Oh, if only we could peer into the castles and halls and see, at an instant, this farcical alignment of an unthinking, non-physical construct. So much doubt would be washed away, and we might be freed from using our reason.

I rather believe that the gods punish those paladins that spread disorder and wickedness. Not those crossed by some king or magistrate. Not those who disagree vehemently with the rulings of a court. Not those that transgress the laws of men to spread Order.

---

Philosophically Jupistar will never accede to the philosophy of the Hellknights. He has made himself clear in that he does not believe that mortals can achieve rationality, because they will forever grasp at wisdom without achieving it. Locked in the state of nature, unable to elevate itself or progress in any way, the mortal races in Jupistar's world inhabit an amoral void. Relativism at its most banal. Laws gain legitimacy from borders and armies. Courts are good if they rule in ways that locals think are good.

Like a typical Andoran, he would democratize truth itself! What is good for the society is what is believed good for the society by the vast majority of society!

Indeed, he projects most passionately his own failings onto others! The totalitarian criticisms of Cheliax' just government are more befitting of the model Jupistar presents. He paints a world where mortal laws overlap and come into conflict, and at any point of conflict, where it is unclear if one law or another reigns, than warfare is the only solution! If one passes an arbitrary political boundary, something that emphatically cannot be seen by the mortal eye without physical markers -- markers that are rarely present and even when present may be moved or removed or destroyed -- than one becomes subject to those laws and must obey them even if ignorant of them or even ignorant of one's place! Jupistar knows this, for even he has argued that one cannot know with any certainty which laws apply to one at any given time. And yet he persists! Fine rhetoric. The very cancer upon learning which robs Golarion of peace and Order in our times.

What's more, he continues to reference the myth of innocence. How can you know a man to be 'innocent' if all things are subjective? If you cannot know with certainty that he has committed no crime?

He does acknowledge one can subjectively aware of laws at any given time. But what good is that with regard to matters of the soul? He's already said that intent, attitude and actions are what give the soul weight.

---

And what arrogance, from the Andoran, who maintains to this very moment that Andoran has 'won' its legitimacy in battle because Cheliax has not yet brought its rogue province to heel. The campaigns continue, men die in battle, but to him, nothing remains in question! He feels he has won the war, when a state of open warfare continues to exist. Is there a certain scale of fighting that would render the issue not settled? One man, ten men, ten-thousand men still fighting? Reason demands precision. And you cannot simply declare yourself legitimate and the war over if the other side says otherwise.

But perhaps Jupistar does not argue from the position of an Andoran. He has never admitted to such a position, he merely accepted the title when I observed he argued like an Andoran. And that he certainly does.

---

No. What Jupistar has not demonstrated, despite his outlandish claims otherwise, is the validity of local laws in and of themselves as the metric by which the mortal soul may acquire or lose grace.

Within Golarion, Law, Chaos, Evil, and Good may be demonstrated to exist. Moreso, the influence of these cosmological principles applies even to the Gods: either the gods themselves obey these principles and acquire associations, or the gods built the world with these principles and then situated themselves accordingly. Given the divine ascension of Chelaxian heroes, I find the former case more persuasive.

A lifetime spent in Order, Discipline and Righteousness makes one Lawful. And obedience to such a code pleases the gods of Law. And when the petty rulings of local so-called legitimate authorities run counter to the Principle of Law, then a paladin or Hellknight has not failed to uphold their oaths if he or she should transgress those laws.

Imperial Cheliax knows this. Queen Abrogail Thrune II knows this. Which is why Queen Abrogail Thrune II places her trust in the Hellknight Orders to advance the cause of law and root out corruption. And where the laws of Cheliax fail to uphold Law and Order, then and only then do I break the laws and courts of Cheliax. Something made far, far simpler by the sanction of the queen, but something that Hellknights did long before the civil wars had ended. And if I tell a person that I will punish them under the laws of the land should they transgress the laws of the land, then I have kept my oath to Abadar.

But I will not be persuaded by any rhetoric that suggests obedience to the laws of disorderly, warmongering rebellious provinces trumps the call for Law and Order. Least of all when Chelaxian peoples are still under threat from the savage attacks of Andoran 'freedom fighters' intent on spreading their disgusting perversion of 'liberty'. Perhaps I lack Abadar's Keen Eye, but I can see a blight upon the world for what it is.

jupistar wrote:

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.

Agreed. Though I have my doubts about you, given that your grasp of moral truth seems so very subjective. Like an Azata I once spit upon my blade, eager to spread uprising and rebellion.


Colazar wrote:

I've read through all of this discussion, and what I find interesting is that most of the posts seem to me to be exploring whether freeing the Innocent Condemned is or is not a Lawful Good act, which is a very complicated problem, and depends on various definitions of Law or Good. But they mostly miss the point about whether or not it is something that a Paladin should do.

For a Paladin, the question is much simpler. A Paladin does not have to worry about whether or not an action is Lawful Good in the abstract -- they have to worry about whether or not the action follows their particular Code. A Paladin who always follows their Code will by consequence remain Lawful Good.

So what should a Paladin do in this situation?

They should look at the specifics of their code. The answer may be spelled out in plain text. Some codes may prioritize defending the innocent. Some may prioritize following secular law. Many codes will consider secular law to be completely superfluous to the decision, with only religious law being germane.

But lets say the text of the code is ambiguous. Fortunately, a Lawful Good religion will have a substantial body of work devoted to exploring such questions. There will be volumes upon volumes explaining what the code actually means. And, unlike in our world, much of this will be objectively provable, as it will be based on measurable, factual results -- what has caused a Paladin to fall in the past, what has the deity revealed in conversations on the subject, what causes an Aura to shift towards good, evil, law, or chaos. All a Paladin need to is consult with these volumes, or members of his church, and the action he should undertake should be revealed.

But maybe the Paladin is out in the field and has none of these resources available to him. Then he should pray for guidance. His deity should make clear the way forward, if only via the results of a Knowledge: Religion check.

Ultimately, Paladins have a very easy time of things, because they have a process. GMs on the other...

You're an impressive person to have read through all of that dry material. You make a good point. One that I have made, as well. And other's have made this point (I'm thinking of deadmanwalking, in particular). It's important that the GM not keep secrets here; posing dilemmas and then sitting back and grinning while the PC tries to figure out the GM's mind and position on such things.

The real problem in this situation comes from finding out that your righteous choice is considered the "evil" choice, and you're forced to do things you don't want to do. Specifically, you want to do X and the GM says you must do Y and you think Y is morally repugnant. It's so weird. I imagine myself playing the paladin, I can picture my own personal alignment shifting as I play the role and "assume the mantle". Then I'm looking at the world through my moralist window, which is different than my normal real-world one. And I made a judgment only to find out my GM (my divination or clerical superiors) tell me that I have to do something else. It would be weirdly upsetting, I think. I would feel like I'm being forced to do wrong.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And a strange definition of equivocating.

I hear the insults, troll, but I hear no arguments. I hear claims that make no sense. So, let's try to take this one step at a time. Let's pretend we're on the practice field doing slow-motion drills.

(Let's not go too slow. Let's try to answer several questions at the same time. Try to keep your answers brief, preferably yes or no, to avoid equivocation.)

Do you deny that order is imposed on the people in Andoran by the illegitimate government there?

If you don't deny it, do you deny that the people in Andoran impose a relatively Just and Good order on the people in Andoran (i.e. the laws of the rebels are based on Good morality with Good and fair outcomes in mind and that their laws are applied equally to the rebels they claim as their people)?

Do you believe that breaking the law is an act of disorder?

How does one uphold the "Principle of Order", as you term it, while breaking the laws that impose order upon a group of people?

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Okay, let's construct a scenario here to make the original situation a little more fleshed out.

Let's say the paladin is an Iomedaen from Cheliax. He knows all about wickedness and evil, devils and lying, because he sees it all around himself every day. He has been tasked by his order to journey far away to retrieve the last unsullied heir of some noble family that has since been mating with devils, but--and here's the large but--some three hundred years ago, before the devil-mating, one of their line was visiting Taldor and had sex with a milkmaid, leading to the necessary lost heir.

So he travels to Taldor and finds the heir in some tiny farming community, an ordinary farm hand and as such a big strapping fellow, but a little slow and not very good-looking either. The paladin convinces the lad to go with him for a walk in the countryside, telling a wild story about him being needed in a far land to right wrongs and so forth as he is the only unsullied heir of some noble family, and when they get back to the village, the lad says he'll think about it and give him an answer in the morning.

The next morning the lad is not there to talk to but there is a great hubbub in the village, for it seems that yesterday the goosegirl was murdered, her neck snapped by the very farmhand the paladin had been out walking with for the day. The witnesses are the goosegirl's three younger sisters who had been spying on her, hoping to witness some juicy gossip to tease her with, but instead seeing her murder. The townsfolk has spent the day searching for the murderer until that evening when they'd finally found the farmhand. They'd wanted to do summary justice, but luckily cooler heads had prevailed, and instead he was taken to the lady of the manor for her to sit judgement.

The lady of the manor is a bit unique in Taldor in that she is both lawful and good. Her father long ago squandered the family fortune so all she has is her ancestral manor and her villagers to look after, and she is a devout, albeit lay, worshiper of Erastil, patron god of her noble house and the village.

Now the actual truth, known only to the GM and one other, is that the farmhand did not murder the goosegirl. The murder was actually done by the miller's son, a handsome but skinny lad who was offered an unbelievably good bargain by an imp who was sent as Hell's agent to thwart the paladin. The imp offered to grant the miller's son the power of infernal sorcery, specifically the spells Disguise Self and Bull's Strength, if he would agree to use them to impersonate the farmhand and snap the neck of the goosegirl. The imp also used its own wiles to tempt the goosegirl's little sisters into the minor sin of spying on her, thus setting up the necessary witnesses.

None of this is known to the lady of the manor. All she knows is that three credible witnesses claim that they saw the hulking brute of a farmhand come to speak with her goosegirl, and then, when his crude attempts at affection were rebuffed, he struck her in anger, snapping the poor girl's neck. A crime of passion, certainly, but one which, for the good of the village, deserves the noose.

Passions run high in the village. The goosegirl was well liked and related to most everyone. The farmhand is a stranger, a traveling laborer with no ties to anyone in the village. The paladin is also a stranger, and what's worse, a foreigner.

The lady of the manor follows Erastil's laws as they have been handed down in her family. One of these laws is that no magic is admissible in court unless it is demonstrated in court as a cold hard fact. Moreover, while she is allowed a certain amount of leniency in delivering any sentence, it is only a certain amount, since long ago fell witches charmed one of her ancestors into pardoning all manner of unspeakable crimes. Since then, in service to Erastil, her family has forgone the concept of a pardon. No matter how much it pains her, justice must be done.

She hears the goosegirl's three sisters speak of their sister's horrible murder. Then she hears the farmhand claim that he was out walking for the day with the paladin. Then she hears the paladin also make this claim. She then asks for clarification, asking what they were doing out walking, what they were talking about, and hears some long confused tale of lost heirs of unsullied bloodlines and divine revelations from the goddess Iomedae.

This is all very nice, says the lady of the manor, but she only has the paladin's word that he's a paladin and spoke to his goddess, and if he can speak to his goddess so easily, could he please ask her who the true murderer is because right now it's looking like it was the farmhand. His alibi only rests on the paladin's word, and since the lady of the manor has no proof of the paladin's character, she has to give it the same weight as she might that of a passing charlatan who was bribed to perjure himself. But even if she believes this wild story of lost heirs, wicked devils, and divine visions upon which the fate of the world or at least Cheliax rests, why is she to believe the paladin? Could he not be lying, hoping to protect a murderer in service of the greater good?

The paladin swears upon all that is holy that he is not and begs the lady to stay her judgement a fortnight while he goes to gather evidence of the true murderer. The villagers are not very impressed with this, but the lady of the manor is, or at least believes that staying her hand from summary justice would be prudent, and in a fortnight, more evidence may come to light, for good or ill.

The paladin goes bouncing around the countryside and the village, questing for evidence, and maybe the GM throws him a bone and lets him kill the imp. It vanishes in a flash of hellfire, scorching the grass. And as a dying taunt, the paladin gets an extra clue: "The murder was done/by the miller's son!"

He brings this to the lady of the manor. She's not very impressed with a divot of scorched grass. This is proof of infernal meddling in her village? And a murder accusation in the form of a rhymed couplet? From an imp? A creature known for its lies and deception?

But it does not hurt to be thorough. She has the miller's son brought before her court, silencing the paladin as he begins braying about how he can see the boy's infernal wickedness. She snorts. She doesn't need holy sight from Iomedae to know that the miller's son is a bad sort. She has had a lifetime of experience overseeing her village to know that the miller's son has grown from a spoiled petty child to a vain and malicious youth, toying with the affections of the village girls and considering himself above them since he's the son of the richest man in her village. While she does not believe him when he says he's as distraught as everyone at the goosegirl's death--he's not, not that this is any surprise--she does believe him when he confesses that she was neither pretty enough or rich enough for him to have been interested in, so why would he have been seeing her that fateful afternoon and what reason might he have to murder her? And while he's about the same height as the farmhand, he's far skinnier. It would have taken considerable disguise for him to have been mistaken for the farmhand. And even if he were for some reason dressed as the farmhand, he does not possess enough strength to snap anyone's neck, even a girl.

In the intervening two weeks, other witnesses have come forth, including other village girls who had seen the farmhand mooning after the goosegirl, other farmhands who confess to bawdy talk among them about which girls they fancied, and most damning of all, another farmhand who claims the first farmhand once broke his arm in a fight and it's never healed right since.

The lady of the manor has heard all the evidence and reached her verdict: The farmhand is guilty of murder. At dawn he will be hung by the neck until dead. Moreover, she finds the paladin guilty of perjury and bearing false witness against the miller's son. The paladin will be imprisoned as well as she consults her family law books and weighs her options. At very least there will be a fine and banishment from her lands.

Now, does the paladin break out of jail? Does he free the farmhand and escape with him as well? And what happens if the clue from the imp had been a lie instead of the truth, the imp saying, "The murder was done/by the butcher's son!" and the paladin had accused an innocent? Would his paladinhood survive that?

Certainly we can construct a scenario where the villains are sloppy and stupid, the miller's son is an idiot who goes around flashing his new sorcery so everyone knows he's capable of being the villain, the imp confesses all its villainy in court, and Iomedae herself comes down Deus Ex Machina style to solve the third act troubles of the drama so the good are rewarded, the wicked punished, and everyone except the villains has a happy ending. But that's pretty boring.

Sometimes you have to construct a scenario where evil wins because it's clever and canny, and a paladin has to choose between what is good and what is lawful.

Sczarni

This scenario doesn't wash with even historical medieval justice in one important way - capital crimes throughout even medieval history were able to be appealed to the highest lord of the country (generally the king) and invariably always were.

This is why barons and counts who abused their power always let people they targeted rot in jail. They'd corruptly convict people of lesser crimes (misdemeanors) that they couldn't appeal (if indeed they had the power to dispense criminal justice at all - criminal justice was usually handled by Royal Justices and Sheriffs). If they summarily executed someone they'd be in for a potentially huge fine from the king (not that the king would necessarily mind taxing one of his nobles 50,000gp -ooh, there's a plot - king's agent provocateur tries to get nobles to summarily execute defendants) because they lacked jurisdiction to do it.

You're only going to have summary executions in times of war or extensive lawlessness where individual nobles are the real power and the king/queen is useless or ineffectual.

Even in the middle ages you'd sit in jail for a while waiting to hear about your appeal. Certainly way too much time to create any sort of dramatic tension.

Racing against the clock to fend off a summary execution is going to seem hackneyed railroading (and rightly so) unless the legal system in place is capricious and/or unrestrained by higher legal review (that is, neither lawful nor good and the paladin can probably tell this), or where human life is exceedingly cheap (for example a serf or slave accused of murder, slavery and serfdom probably not being on the "good" side of laws/customs either).

Contributor

NewtonPulsifer wrote:

This scenario doesn't wash with even historical medieval justice in one important way - capital crimes throughout even medieval history were able to be appealed to the highest lord of the country (generally the king) and invariably always were.

This is why barons and counts who abused their power always let people they targeted rot in jail. They'd corruptly convict people of lesser crimes (misdemeanors) that they couldn't appeal (if indeed they had the power to dispense criminal justice at all - criminal justice was usually handled by Royal Justices and Sheriffs). If they summarily executed someone they'd be in for a potentially huge fine from the king (not that the king would necessarily mind taxing one of his nobles 50,000gp -ooh, there's a plot - king's agent provocateur tries to get nobles to summarily execute defendants) because they lacked jurisdiction to do it.

You're only going to have summary executions in times of war or extensive lawlessness where individual nobles are the real power and the king/queen is useless or ineffectual.

Even in the middle ages you'd sit in jail for a while waiting to hear about your appeal. Certainly way too much time to create any sort of dramatic tension.

Racing against the clock to fend off a summary execution is going to seem hackneyed railroading (and rightly so) unless the legal system in place is capricious and/or unrestrained by higher legal review (that is, neither lawful nor good and the paladin can probably tell this), or where human life is exceedingly cheap (for example a serf or slave accused of murder, slavery and serfdom probably not being on the "good" side of laws/customs either).

A reasonable objection, except a poor farmhand accused of murder with multiple witnesses would not be able to afford to appeal his case all the way up to Grand Prince Stavian, Emperor of Taldor. Of course, Taldor is listed as an imperial bureaucracy, so it might be possible for the paladin to take the case on himself, but it should be stressed that Taldor is overall listed as a Neutral nation, not because everyone it is Neutral, but because that is what the nation averages out to. The lady of the manor is in fact the only LG character he's going to run into in the appeals process. He will run into justices who think a summary execution to please the peasants is a fine idea because they like being popular, venal courtiers who are happy to bring the matter to a noble's attention if their palms are greased, and finally the Grand Prince himself who may simply decide he doesn't have time for such foolishness, let the lady of the manor's sentence stand, he has a state dinner to prepare for.

Or, more simply, the lady of the manor and her impoverished little village may instead be one of the many independent kingdoms and fiefdoms within the River Kingdoms. There is no one higher to appeal to than the lady because she's the highest ruler of her land.

If he's exhausted all his appeals or there is no one higher to appeal to, what does the paladin do then?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Am Hellknight is a fine role-player of the hellknight's position, and their distaste of chaos and dangerous liberty. Bravo.

A tricky scenario Kevin, evil has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. I will run it in one of the my games.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
An ethical/legal problem, edited for space.

I've always found it interesting how many people ignore the good half of lawful good in favor of lawful. I'm not talking about anyone on the thread (really, I'm not, too many walls of text to read at this point), but some people out there seem to think a paladin would be more likely to violate his code hanging out with elves than he would hanging out with mind flayers.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Okay, let's construct a scenario here to make the original situation a little more fleshed out.

I'm really impressed with the work you put into this scenario. You've added more to the equation, though, so keep that in mind. Now it's not just about another life, it's also about the paladin's own life.

So, the paladin is a visiting guest and he implicitly accepts that the law of the land is just and good. Therefore, the social contract is in effect. That contract is basically, "I will follow the laws and be a good guest, you in turn will safeguard my person (or avenge my death) and be a proponent for my rights." But if either side (the individual or the governing body) breaches that contract, then chaos wins the day.

Having done nothing wrong, the paladin is having his rights trampled on, and is therefore within his rights to protect his freedom and denounce the lady's rule. And if he does so, he might as well take it one small step further and rescue the other guy who he also believes has done nothing wrong. By being lumped together, he can view it as a them-vs-us-and-they're-wronging-us proposition.

Alot depends on the force of that contract in the paladin's mind. Even a breach on the governing side might not be enough to convince him to rebel--mistakes are made, afterall, and he might feel it a responsibility to remain true to his duty and not set bad precedent or dishoner himself or his order or his deity. If so, he might choose to uphold the law and do as ordered. For him to do so, he would have to very much respect the courts and the law of the land, obviously.

Keep in mind, this is different from the stronger situation of a paladin oath-sworn to a liege. Roland would go to prison for no justification at all if Charlemagne demanded it of him. But he wouldn't allow himself to be taken prisoner by a foreign lord for a crime he didn't commit (he would consider it self-defense), unless he or his liege held that foreign lord in very high esteem.

It's a matter of honor, then, and how much respect the paladin has for the noble--would he be willing to sacrifice his own rights for that respect. Of course, being now justified in rebellion and having the unjustified death of another weighing on his decision, he might make the decision to break out, anyway.

In the end, I would allow for either solution to resolve without paladin fall, but I would encourage the player to role-play the character as consistently as possible--if an uptight Roland-type, then he should stay and face the execution.

These are my initial thoughts, anyway. You've presented a different dilemma from the paladin's perspective, because he is now directly involved and acted against. If he chooses to reject the lady's authority, he might not even allow himself to be taken prisoner.


Hitdice wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
An ethical/legal problem, edited for space.
I've always found it interesting how many people ignore the good half of lawful good in favor of lawful. I'm not talking about anyone on the thread (really, I'm not, too many walls of text to read at this point), but some people out there seem to think a paladin would be more likely to violate his code hanging out with elves than he would hanging out with mind flayers.

That's quite an interesting opinion, considering the almost unanimous disagreement I've experienced here.

Cheliax

The narrative Murphy provides is thorough and fair. If it matters, the process of the Taldan Lady meets my satisfaction. And if any doubt in my mind existed as to the guilt of the farmhand, I would have sided with the Lady of the Manor. None Are Innocent after all.

And if the farmhand matters so greatly, than surely I might quest to find a way that the Keeper of the First Vault would return the farmhand to life, should he be necessary to the cause. Abadar would surely know whether the man had committed the crime, and would know better than I. He might even be easier to transport while dead, and the experience with death might purge him of his simple demeanor. Execution By Flame.

But I am not a follower of Iomedae. I imagine one of their kind would find the process less essential.

And the threat of imprisonment for bearing false witness? Hrmph. They would have to make a very persuasive case before I would submit to anything of that sort. I am without evidence in the given scenario, and I have been dealt a fair hand by the Lady of the Manor. If my reputation and obvious symbols of rank are not persuasive enough, and no miracle or blessing will persuade and I have no allies who will act on my behalf while I wait in prison for the truth to be dragged forth, than I am left with little choice but to break free and ask atonement and castigation later.

And I thank you for using the example of a Taldan court. If it were an Andoran court, you might imagine what my response would be.

jupistar wrote:
AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
And a strange definition of equivocating.

I hear the insults, troll, but I hear no arguments. I hear claims that make no sense. So, let's try to take this one step at a time. Let's pretend we're on the practice field doing slow-motion drills.

(Let's not go too slow. Let's try to answer several questions at the same time. Try to keep your answers brief, preferably yes or no, to avoid equivocation.)

Do you deny that order is imposed on the people in Andoran by the illegitimate government there?

If you don't deny it, do you deny that the people in Andoran impose a relatively Just and Good order on the people in Andoran (i.e. the laws of the rebels are based on Good morality with Good and fair outcomes in mind and that their laws are applied equally to the rebels they claim as their people)?

Do you believe that breaking the law is an act of disorder?

How does one uphold the "Principle of Order", as you term it, while breaking the laws that impose order upon a group of people?

Oh, no. I think not. In answer to my simple questions you have slipped and slid and delivered pages of meandering text. I will not be dictated to on this count.

As a decision rule, I place the Principle of Law above the laws of Cheliax and the laws of Cheliax above the local laws of savage lands.

Just because I am traveling in Andoran, I am not immediately going to lose my mind and begin slaying babies or picking pockets, no matter what nonsense you have been fed in those dime novels. But neither will I cast aside my duty to exact justice on the lawless if the local constabulary, court and statutes prove lacking. And should the constabulary of any Andoran settlement ask that I submit, I will remind them -- first with words, then with force if pressed -- that they are attempting to force illegitimate laws upon a champion of Order.

Again: the order of vagrants, rebels and criminals make be greater than that of beasts, but it is nothing in the face of thousands of years of Divinely Mandated rule, and even that is nothing compared to the perfected discipline and Order of the gods and Hell itself.

A 'relatively good and just order'? Debatable. And when it is neither good nor just, I do not hesitate. The everyday toil of Andoran peasantry continues on, despite the lords' claims to the contrary. Even if you were to take the province in aggregate and by some Qadiran mathematics attempt to sum and average the outcomes of Andoran law you still would not have justice. Only sufficient Order to prevent the province from collapsing into the sickening turmoil of Galt.

---

Now, indulge me if you would and answer this. What position are you even defending anymore, Jupistar? Obey the laws? Or obey the laws only when they are lawful and good in their execution? Or simply your estimation? Where do your decision rules draw the line? At one moment, it is the law that is paramount, and in the next moment you are agreeing that religious law and precedent reigns.

For what it is worth, this appears to be your purpose in continuing on:

jupistar wrote:

See? It's all about a subjective viewpoint -> the paladin's. I'm simply trying to show everyone that the paladin is not in some special case scenario that he should abandon all adherence to the law. Even if he's absolutely certain, he can be wrong. Whether through illusion, a twin brother, a misunderstanding of how things could possibly happen. Even modern day magicians make a living out of fooling otherwise brilliant people, by finding clever tricks to make things happen. We have thousands of brilliant mystery novels showing how people are convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of the innocence of another person.

The paladin's adherence to the law is based on humility and committing himself to something greater than himself. It's based on an understanding that only by everyone obeying the law is the greatest good done and the greatest likelihood of good outcomes achieved. It's the chaotic good guy who's contemptuous of the law and is willing to place himself above the sound judgment of the court.

I'm simply trying to show, by putting a different perspective, but not really changing anything, that a different truth reveals itself.

This is sound. And commendable. But humility has its limits. My decision rules stand. When I am in foreign lands, I will not bend knee to the laws of criminals.

It comes to this: if I, with my miracles, am to doubt even the gifts of my own god and the rigorous training of my Order, who then is free to make judgment? How can corruption be rooted out, as is my duty, if my judgment must fall secondary to the simpering of bureaucrats?

Contributor

jupistar wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Okay, let's construct a scenario here to make the original situation a little more fleshed out.

I'm really impressed with the work you put into this scenario. You've added more to the equation, though, so keep that in mind. Now it's not just about another life, it's also about the paladin's own life.

So, the paladin is a visiting guest and he implicitly accepts that the law of the land is just and good. Therefore, the social contract is in effect. That contract is basically, "I will follow the laws and be a good guest, you in turn will safeguard my person (or avenge my death) and be a proponent for my rights." But if either side (the individual or the governing body) breaches that contract, then chaos wins the day.

Having done nothing wrong, the paladin is having his rights trampled on, and is therefore within his rights to protect his freedom and denounce the lady's rule. And if he does so, he might as well take it one small step further and rescue the other guy who he also believes has done nothing wrong. By being lumped together, he can view it as a them-vs-us-and-they're-wronging-us proposition.

Alot depends on the force of that contract in the paladin's mind. Even a breach on the governing side might not be enough to convince him to rebel--mistakes are made, afterall, and he might feel it a responsibility to remain true to his duty and not set bad precedent or dishoner himself or his order or his deity. If so, he might choose to uphold the law and do as ordered. For him to do so, he would have to very much respect the courts and the law of the land, obviously.

Keep in mind, this is different from the stronger situation of a paladin oath-sworn to a liege. Roland would go to prison for no justification at all if Charlemagne demanded it of him. But he wouldn't allow himself to be taken prisoner by a foreign lord for a crime he didn't commit (he would consider it self-defense), unless he or his liege held that foreign lord in very high esteem.

It's a matter of honor, then, and how much respect the paladin has for the noble--would he be willing to sacrifice his own rights for that respect. Of course, being now justified in rebellion and having the unjustified death of another weighing on his decision, he might make the decision to break out, anyway.

In the end, I would allow for either solution to resolve without paladin fall, but I would encourage the player to role-play the character as consistently as possible--if an uptight Roland-type, then he should stay and face the execution.

These are my initial thoughts, anyway. You've presented a different dilemma from the paladin's perspective, because he is now directly involved and acted against. If he chooses to reject the lady's authority, he might not even allow himself to be taken prisoner.

How have the paladin's rights been trampled? He comes to the village telling outlandish stories about divine visions and lost heirs, expects the court to believe that scorched greensward is proof of the minions of Hell, and spouts baseless accusations in the form of doggerel verse. Who in her right mind would believe him? Should the lady of the manor also believe the rantings of the town drunkard who claims his hallucinations of pink oliphants are divine visions from Cayden Cailean?

As she sees it, she has three credible witnesses to a crime who have no reason to lie, and only one witness who claims the suspect was with him at the time of the murder, but the veracity of that witness is highly suspect. She also has numerous other character witnesses who show that the suspect had the motive, the means, and the temperament to be guilty of such a crime. It seems a simple tale: a youth too ugly, too stupid, and too strong for his own good; a maiden too harsh in rejecting a suitor's affections and too frail for her own good; a plaintive but fumbling reach that touched a breast instead of a shoulder; an affronted slap that struck a tender spot such as the eye; a slap back more from pain than malice; and then a maiden lies dead. If there were a tearful confession of what transpired or even the slightest show of remorse, the lady might have cause to stay her hand, perhaps commute a sentence to something less than death. But without that? For the safety of not only her village but others, she cannot allow the youth to live.

As for the paladin, he appears to be either a loon or a charlatan. She feels well within her rights to jail him for contempt of court, then simply banish him.

And if he will not submit to her authority, she may make him submit. You do not become lady of the manor without knowing your way around a sword, and she will not have her innocent guardsmen imperiled if the dastard proves too much of a match for them.

Just because a lady is lawful and good does not mean she has to tolerate absurd claims. She did the same thing when those charlatans came by claiming they could weave magical cloth that was invisible to the very foolish and the very boring.


AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
jupistar wrote:

(Let's not go too slow. Let's try to answer several questions at the same time. Try to keep your answers brief, preferably yes or no, to avoid equivocation.)

1) Do you deny that order is imposed on the people in Andoran by the illegitimate government there?

2) If you don't deny it, do you deny that the people in Andoran impose a relatively Just and Good order on the people in Andoran (i.e. the laws of the rebels are based on Good morality with Good and fair outcomes in mind and that their laws are applied equally to the rebels they claim as their people)?

3) Do you believe that breaking the law is an act of disorder?

4) How does one uphold the "Principle of Order", as you term it, while breaking the laws that impose order upon a group of people?

Oh, no. I think not. In answer to my simple questions you have slipped and slid and delivered pages of meandering text. I will not be dictated to on this count.

I didn't try to dictate anything. I tried to avoid exactly what you gave--something that I couldn't make sense of. It looks like, maybe, you answered my questions in reverse. Pretend I'm stupid (that shouldn't be too hard for you) and spell this out for me.

1) This is a "No", right? You don't deny that order is imposed on the people in Andoran by the illegitimate government there? (I understand that you may not think it's a very well-developed or wise body of law being used, but it is order nonetheless, right?)

2) This is a "I'm not sure" answer, right? You followed it with a whole lot of stuff that didn't seem to relate to the question, but maybe I'm missing something.

3) I have no idea what your answer is.

4) I have no idea what your answer means. Ok, so the Principle of Law (not the Principle of Order or are they same thing?) is greater than Cheliax Law and both are greater than the law of any other lands. That's cool. But I still have no idea what the Principle of Law is. Is it a code of ethics? Is it a body of laws and regulations that define what behavior should be taken in various circumstances?

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:
Now, indulge me if you would and answer this. What position are you even defending anymore, Jupistar? Obey the laws?...

You probably won't believe me, but my position hasn't changed from the start. I'm defending the position that the answer is subjective to the paladin's situation, but that devotion to Law and Order often do and should often trump Good--even when it's harsh and hard; even when mistakes are made. My goal is and has been to provide counterpoint to all those who would dictate a chaotic paladin to allow him to behave Good. So I tried to demonstrate that Good is a subjective matter and to the LG paladin, following the Law and respecting lawful authority is often seen as the greatest good (using philosophical points, game rules, and points of practicality). I've also listed repeatedly all of the consequences of his actions where he risks the lives of many to save the life of one, violates the sovereignty of the court (your issue, but just one of many), commits a chaotic deed, acts from a subjective and fallible perception, dishonors and disrespects himself and authority and the law by sneaking around violently assaulting lawfully-behaving guards, breaks the bonds of the social contract, disrupts the social order in society, and sets precedent that anyone who believes a person to be innocent has the equivalent moral right and, perhaps, obligation to break that person out of jail. Instead, I get one of the following:

a) "That may be true, unless you're from a different country and beholden to different laws." To this I argued that even so, you have a great deal working against you if you want to argue that you just ignore the law. The most important, of course, is social contract theory. This has been the biggest contention between you and I: that a paladin can walk around ignoring every law and every authority of every land he chooses and can basically justify any action by appealing to a vague higher authority. In Cheliax you can get away with it because of special dispensation from the highest ruler in the land. But no other country has offered such dispensation, so you appeal to some other authority figure which doesn't seem to have any real concrete evidence of directive (this is what I'm asking for in #4 above).

b) "The court is perverse or unjust or doing evil or..." some variation on the theme that, in the moment, the court is behaving in a bad way and the paladin has to step up and correct injustice. This is a great deal of the reason I've focused my attention on Lawful Good societies. This is to stave off the exception-making from people complaining about "unjust rulers"--because that's not relevant to the point. To make the claim that it's an evil court, they look at the outcome of the trial and call it evidence of their corruption--a mistake is equal to corruption.

c) "My paladins would do it anyway and accept the punishment of the court..." Sure, but his punishment is not the problem. The law-breaking aspect is only one issue (besides it's obvious game rules implications), it's the repercussions of that law-breaking act that causes a paladin to obey the law--to be a deontologist. As I said above, there's a whole lot more involved.

d) "Lawful Good is not deontological." Ok, I have no idea why you think this, but it's rather irrelevant. Deontology was simply used to help people understand that a moral case for Goodness can be made for following the law here, since as far as the paladin is concerned, following the rulings of a just and fair court and adhering to the law and the order it imposes on the populace (even if sometimes mistaken) is among the highest of goods.

I'm sure I missed some. I'm very tired right now.

Anyway, there's your answer. I hope it was clear enough.

Contributor

AM HELLKNIGHT wrote:

The narrative Murphy provides is thorough and fair. If it matters, the process of the Taldan Lady meets my satisfaction. And if any doubt in my mind existed as to the guilt of the farmhand, I would have sided with the Lady of the Manor. None Are Innocent after all.

And if the farmhand matters so greatly, than surely I might quest to find a way that the Keeper of the First Vault would return the farmhand to life, should he be necessary to the cause. Abadar would surely know whether the man had committed the crime, and would know better than I. He might even be easier to transport while dead, and the experience with death might purge him of his simple demeanor. Execution By Flame.

But I am not a follower of Iomedae. I imagine one of their kind would find the process less essential.

And the threat of imprisonment for bearing false witness? Hrmph. They would have to make a very persuasive case before I would submit to anything of that sort. I am without evidence in the given scenario, and I have been dealt a fair hand by the Lady of the Manor. If my reputation and obvious symbols of rank are not persuasive enough, and no miracle or blessing will persuade and I have no allies who will act on my behalf while I wait in prison for the truth to be dragged forth, than I am left with little choice but to break free and ask atonement and castigation later.

And I thank you for using the example of a Taldan court. If it were an Andoran court, you might imagine what my response would be.

The lady of the manor would be familiar with Hellknights, by reputation if nothing more. Their signs and sigils of rank might impress her assuming she believed them, but no more than any other highly regimented military order. But almost anything can be bought or stolen, and just as wearing a patchwork scarf and waving a pack of Harrow cards doesn't make you a Varisian fortuneteller, wearing the armor of a Hellknight doesn't make one a Hellknight--especially outside of Cheliax where the long arms of the Order's law are shorter and impersonating a Hellknight is no more of a crime than impersonating a Varisian fortuneteller.

That said, the lady would likely treat the Hellknight as one of that Order unless given reasonable cause to assume otherwise. It costs little to be polite to visiting dignitaries.

As for persuading her with miracles and blessings, the lady has made her laws perfectly clear. If the miracle or blessing can be demonstrated for all present to see, then it may be presented as evidence. If it is simply some revelation that is personal to the caster, then that will be dealt with as with any claims anyone cares to make, judged by their merits and credibility to an outside observer.

If, however, the "blessing or miracle" were something someone were trying to cast upon her to influence her decision, that would be a crime against the state.

While the lady believes that magic and miracles abound, lies and delusions are far more common.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

How have the paladin's rights been trampled? He comes to the village telling outlandish stories about divine visions and lost heirs, expects the court to believe that scorched greensward is proof of the minions of Hell, and spouts baseless accusations in the form of doggerel verse. Who in her right mind would believe him? Should the lady of the manor also believe the rantings of the town drunkard who claims his hallucinations of pink oliphants are divine visions from Cayden Cailean?

As she sees it, she has three credible witnesses to a crime who have no reason to lie, and only one witness who claims the suspect was with him at the time of the murder, but the veracity of that witness is highly suspect. She also has numerous other character witnesses who show that the suspect had the motive, the means, and the temperament to be guilty of such a crime. It seems a simple tale: a youth too ugly, too stupid, and too strong for his own good; a maiden too harsh in rejecting a suitor's affections and too frail for her own good; a plaintive but fumbling reach that touched a breast instead of a shoulder; an affronted slap that struck a tender spot such as the eye; a slap back more from pain than malice; and then a maiden lies dead. If there were a tearful confession of what transpired or even the slightest show of remorse, the lady might have cause to stay her hand, perhaps commute a sentence to something less than death. But without that? For the safety of not only her village but others, she cannot allow the youth to live.

As for the paladin, he appears to be either a loon or a charlatan. She feels well within her rights to jail him for contempt of court, then simply banish him.

And if he will not submit to her authority, she may make him submit. You do not become lady of the manor without knowing your way around a sword, and she will not have her innocent guardsmen imperiled if the dastard proves too much of a match for them.

Just because a lady is lawful and good does not mean she has to tolerate absurd claims. She did the same thing when those charlatans came by claiming they could weave magical cloth that was invisible to the very foolish and the very boring.

You're making the categorical mistake of assuming that I'm claiming she does not have the legal right to do as she has done simply because the innocent paladin has a natural right, if not the legal right, to defend his person from bodily harm, kidnapping and imprisonment, and death. The farmhand has the same natural right to defend himself, but less of a legal right. Every organism in the world has a right to defend itself, we just sometimes decide to suppress that right when we recognize our oaths or culpability before the law. But I don't see how a implicit social contract requires a paladin to subsume his right to defend himself.

Nor am I saying her judgment is poor or impaired. I'm simply saying there is a conflict of rights, here. The legal one vs. the natural one of self-defense. He's being kidnapped by a foreign government and held against his will indefinitely (let's say 1 year for bearing false witness - if it's only 10 days, he'd probably just ride out his time, even though he's still within his right to resist), he has a right to resist. Of course, there's always a gray area when the Law of the Land and Natural Law compete, in terms of which law has supremacy. It often depends on who's looking at it. Obviously a ruler and to some extent society wants Law of the Land, but none of the individuals of society want that when it's their turn in the crosshairs, so... YMMV.

Contributor

jupistar wrote:

You're making the categorical mistake of assuming that I'm claiming she does not have the legal right to do as she has done simply because the innocent paladin has a natural right, if not the legal right, to defend his person from bodily harm, kidnapping and imprisonment, and death. The farmhand has the same natural right to defend himself, but less of a legal right. Every organism in the world has a right to defend itself, we just sometimes decide to suppress that right when we recognize our oaths or culpability before the law. But I don't see how a implicit social contract requires a paladin to subsume his right to defend himself.

I'm simply saying there is a conflict of rights, here. The legal one vs. the natural one of self-defense. He's being kidnapped by a foreign government and held against his will indefinitely (let's say 1 year for bearing false witness - if it's only 10 days, he'd probably just ride out his time, even though he's still within his right to resist), he has a right to resist. Of course, there's always a gray area when the Law of the Land and Natural Law compete, in terms of which law has supremacy. It often depends on who's looking at it. Obviously a ruler and to some extent society wants Law of the Land, but none of the individuals of society want that when it's their turn in the crosshairs, so... YMMV.

Well, to be fair, you said the buzzwords "trample his rights" so it seemed only logical to assume you meant legal rights. The natural rights? Those hadn't come into play yet, so they hadn't been trampled until he chose to oppose a lawful arrest.

The lady of the manor would be unfit for rule if she didn't have laws against resisting arrest and likewise against prison breaks. If the paladins and hellknights want to increase the charges against them, by all means, feel free.

As for whether the punishment for bearing false witness is a year or ten days, I did mention that the lady is a devotee of Erastil, and thus her law would be balanced towards the good of the family and the community. She might opt for simple banishment, but as false witness is a serious charge, she might also go for imprisonment while still allowing the paladin to send letters to members of his order so they might visit and possibly bring more credible information. She might also choose to release him into their custody in exchange for a ransom which she could then give to the goose girl's family to help them with the loss of their daughter. It's not a precise recompense, but it would be better than putting it in her own coffers, and it's not like the farmhand had any money to pay a weregild.

Of course, if it could somehow be proven that the miller's son made a pact with an imp and murdered the goose girl so as to frame the farmhand, the lady of the manor would both be grateful for finding out the truth as well as cross with the paladin for having brought evil into her village. Certainly the farmhand was here, but he'd been here for several harvest seasons before with no ill effect. That the paladin's goddess needed the farmhand for some matter in distant Cheliax is something that the lady of the manor would not care about except that the goddess's enemies--namely Hell--also dispatched an agent to thwart the paladin, and the paladin had neither the wit nor the honor to realize that this was something that should be brought to the rightful ruler's attention. If he had, this tragedy could have been averted.

The lady isn't certain what the punishment should be for that, but at very least she would banish him from her lands and entrust him with a very cross letter for his bishop, stipulating that if any of the paladins or clerics of Iomedae expect a happy welcome in her demesne, they better be coming to resurrect a certain goose girl. She understands there is a war with Hell, but she expects to be informed when the Church of the Inheritor has a reasonable idea it might cross into her village. This would be followed with all sorts of theology of Erastil about how one of the laws of hospitality is that a guest must alert a host to the possibility that he brings peril into a house.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Well, to be fair, you said the buzzwords "trample his rights" so it seemed only logical to assume you meant legal rights. The natural rights? Those hadn't come into play yet, so they hadn't been trampled until he chose to oppose a lawful arrest.

That's true, I didn't make clear what I meant by rights in that case, and since I was talking about a different sort of "right", it would have been worthy of clarification. I apologize. It seemed... well, natural. :) And to think, I get reprimanded for not being "concise".

But it's not about the arrest. Being arrested in a good country should be cause for concern, but not panic or self-defense.

Keep in mind that you were asking for answers to questions:

1) Now, does the paladin break out of jail?
2) Does he free the farmhand and escape with him as well?

My responses were directed at these two questions.

3) And what happens if the clue from the imp had been a lie instead of the truth, the imp saying, "The murder was done/by the butcher's son!" and the paladin had accused an innocent? Would his paladinhood survive that?

I hadn't answered this. Answer: no. A mistake of negligence or maliciousness would be one thing, but otherwise it's just a mistake. Humans err. It's almost part of the definition of being human. A paladin is not expected to be perfectly omniscient. All he did was repeat a charge and even explained from where he heard it. This is not on him, at all.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
The lady of the manor would be unfit for rule if she didn't have laws against resisting arrest and likewise against prison breaks. If the paladins and hellknights want to increase the charges against them, by all means, feel free.

I don't see the relevance of this. The point is that they're not free. They've been imprisoned.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

As for whether the punishment for bearing false witness is a year or ten days, I did mention that the lady is a devotee of Erastil, and thus her law would be balanced towards the good of the family and the community. She might opt for simple banishment, but as false witness is a serious charge, she might also go for imprisonment while still allowing the paladin to send letters to members of his order so they might visit and possibly bring more credible information. She might also choose to release him into their custody in exchange for a ransom which she could then give to the goose girl's family to help them with the loss of their daughter. It's not a precise recompense, but it would be better than putting it in her own coffers, and it's not like the farmhand had any money to pay a weregild.

Of course, if it could somehow be proven that the miller's son made a pact with an imp and murdered the goose girl so as to frame the farmhand, the lady of the manor would both be grateful for finding out the truth as well as cross with the paladin for having brought evil into her village. Certainly the farmhand was here, but he'd been here for several harvest seasons before with no ill effect. That the paladin's goddess needed the farmhand for some matter in distant Cheliax is something that the lady of the manor would not care about except that the goddess's enemies--namely Hell--also dispatched an agent to thwart the paladin, and the paladin had neither the wit nor the honor to realize that this was something that should be brought to the rightful ruler's attention. If he had, this tragedy could have been averted.

The lady isn't certain what the punishment should be for that, but at very least she would banish him from her lands and entrust him with a very cross letter for his bishop, stipulating that if any of the paladins or clerics of Iomedae expect a happy welcome in her demesne, they better be coming to resurrect a certain goose girl. She understands there is a war with Hell, but she expects to be informed when the Church of the Inheritor has a reasonable idea it might cross into her village. This would be followed with all sorts of theology of Erastil about how one of the laws of hospitality is that a guest must alert a host to the possibility that he brings peril into a house.

Yeah, unfortunately, a lot of this wasn't specified and you seem to think we should assume it all. I was under the impression this was a test of the paladin's individual actions without recourse to calling for help.

Opting for banishment would defeat the question of whether he should break out of jail. Your question implied imprisonment. If you say, 10 days of imprisonment, he probably wouldn't break out of jail, though he might feel sorely used. If you say 1 year, then probably he would (if he thought he had a chance). Though, it being a function of his natural right to defend his liberty, he might decide to grab the other guy on the way out the door, as I said before, and save a life while he's already committed to an illegal action.


I'm going to run this with the players as observers who can get involved. Somewhat objective folk that can go for either side or none.

I can see the paladin being shocked at the charge of perjury, and the attempted imprisonment of them for seeking the truth and attempting to argue what they know to be true. So much so, that it is going to go to combat, as the paladin tires to escape the court, and if possible, free the boy. As the sword is drawn in court, there may be cool lines uttered: "I did not want to do this. *Shhhhhck* But I will not be imprisoned by this chimera-court, the boy will not die. I will try to kill as few as possible."

Then, all hell breaks loose.

It actually reminds me of a time in the Korvosan game, when the zorro figure tried to save an innocent and the players were Queen's guard. The pcs killed him with one leaping flail attack, a 20, 20, hit.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
It actually reminds me of a time...

You might want to place some spoiler tags around that paragraph.


Our dm messed with a lot of stuff in that game, fighting pie golems etc, but yeah, it was bad news for the symbol of the underclass to try and thwart what we were doing (we had already saved the... bard, there was a ploy in play zorro didn't know about). The lawfuls took the chaotic good down, hard. Then the identity reveal made it... very awkward.

http://www.quickmeme.com/Hawkward/

Contributor

3.5 Loyalist wrote:

I'm going to run this with the players as observers who can get involved. Somewhat objective folk that can go for either side or none.

I can see the paladin being shocked at the charge of perjury, and the attempted imprisonment of them for seeking the truth and attempting to argue what they know to be true. So much so, that it is going to go to combat, as the paladin tires to escape the court, and if possible, free the boy. As the sword is drawn in court, there may be cool lines uttered: "I did not want to do this. *Shhhhhck* But I will not be imprisoned by this chimera-court, the boy will not die. I will try to kill as few as possible."

Then, all hell breaks loose.

It actually reminds me of a time in the Korvosan game, when the zorro figure tried to save an innocent and the players were Queen's guard. The pcs killed him with one leaping flail attack, a 20, 20, hit.

"Hold!" cries the lady, gesturing both to the paladin and to her bailiff who has his blade at the boy's throat. "No more innocents should die this day. Do you invoke the old law and your right to trial by combat? If you prevail, both you and the boy will be found innocent by the sight of Erastil. If you fall, then the gods have seen your guilt as clearly as I and my sentence proceeds unopposed. What say you? Swear it by your god!" The lady unsheathes her blade. "I need no champion. Erastil grant me the strength to prevail in what is right and holy...."


Ha ha, wouldn't it be best to let the farmboy be his own champion, and let her kill a slightly daft and innocent lad in the name of Erastil. Man that is messed up.

Silver Crusade

jupistar wrote:
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...

I just want to say bravo for this post!

Jup has it right. It's not about the end result, it's about the here and now.

I want to use Superman for a moment. I consider Superman to be someone who acts with a code. Now to save everyone from anguish and grief he could have killed Lex Luthor many times over but his code prevents him from killing people so he has bring Luthor to justice even though he knows at any time he could "technically" wipe Luthor out.

Same would go for Batman. There would be a lot less villains running around if Batman just killed them instead of having to bring them to justice over and over again.

Andoran

Dropping back in for just a moment...

shallowsoul wrote:

I just want to say bravo for this post!

Jup has it right. It's not about the end result, it's about the here and now.

I don't disagree with the idea that it's the here and now, not the end result. I just disagree about what a Paladin's unshakable Code should (and does) prioritize: The Law of the Land or An Innocent Life.

I'd say her Code and God would almost universally consider the second a higher priority.

shallowsoul wrote:

I want to use Superman for a moment. I consider Superman to be someone who acts with a code. Now to save everyone from anguish and grief he could have killed Lex Luthor many times over but his code prevents him from killing people so he has bring Luthor to justice even though he knows at any time he could "technically" wipe Luthor out.

Same would go for Batman. There would be a lot less villains running around if Batman just killed them instead of having to bring them to justice over and over again.

But we're talking about saving a life, not taking one. I agree with you that Batman and Superman are excellent examples of people who live by a Code...but both of them violate the law regularly, too.

Death is kind of irrevocable, which is one reason they don't do it*, and why I'd bet money that either would violate all sorts of laws to keep an innocent from execution (including breaking him out, if necessary...which, admittedly, it almost certainly wouldn't be). In fact, I'll bet you that very situation has come up, and was handled with little or no regard for the law as such (except as an impediment to be overcome).

The idea that either would stand by while someone they knew to be innocent was executed is just ridiculous.

*As a rule. Superman's killed people before, on occasion.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Dropping back in for just a moment...

Welcome. I don't really wish to argue or debate. I just wanted to ask you. With everything I've pointed out. Here are the game rules:

  • Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties. Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.
  • Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
  • A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good combines honor with compassion.
  • Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents

I know you understand the idea, even if you disagree, that an inherently lawful good person might see that upholding the ruling of a lawful good court as inherently good.

Here is what is balanced against each other:

Left scale
Possibly saving the life of a possibly innocent person and possibly being able to find enough exonerating evidence to return to court to possibly persuade them to reverse their decision.

vs. (and much of this is true even if the above possible scenario does not obtain)

Right Scale
Actuality:

  • Violating the sovereignty of the court
  • Committing a chaotic deed
  • Acting unwisely; acting from a subjective and fallible perception
  • Dishonoring and disrespecting himself and authority and the law by sneaking around
    (not necessarily, but if he wants to avoid greater risk and greater bloodshed, he probably will take an oblique approach)
  • Violently assaulting lawfully-behaving guards
  • Breaks the bonds of the social contract (at best) and possibly an oath (at worst)
  • Setting precedent that anyone who believes a person to be innocent has the equivalent moral right and, perhaps, obligation to break that person out of jail.

Possibly:

  • Dying in the process
    (not a huge deal, admittedly, for a hero, but very likely in a large city unless it's a sufficiently advanced paladin)
  • Freeing one of them, but not both
    (what a conundrum regardless of which gets away)
  • Causing the death of more than one innocent in the escape
    (e.g. several guards try to kill the innocent and you're forced to respond with lethal damage)
  • Both being caught and put in prison
    (not a huge deal, admittedly, for a hero, but very likely in a large city unless it's a sufficiently advanced paladin)
  • Getting all the way to the jail cell, having done all that I've detailed, to find out the possibly innocent person would rather accept the court's lawful ruling than be responsible for anyone else's guilt or anyone getting hurt
  • Disrupting the social order in society, causing riots or the rise in vigilantism
  • Both breaking free, but
    --> a) the paladin is looking at the certainty of being punished with years in prison, or
    --> b) worse not finding enough evidence to clear the other fellow's name and being stuck in a worse dilemma, where the former is still true being obligated to turn himself in and obligated to both turn in and not turn in the innocent man.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'd say her Code and God would almost universally consider the second a higher priority.

So, with all of the above, the question is, "How do you support this assertion?"

Andoran

I had a point by point rebuttal, but the internet sort of ate it. So I'm going to do a summary.

1. The original hypothetical stipulates that the Paladin knows the accused is innocent, not suspects. This means that he's seen compelling evidence (the imp in Kevin Andrew Murphy's example, for instance). If he can't act with that kind of proof he can never act at all.

If he were to only suspect the accused's innocence, I don't think the rescue would be appropriate (unless we're dealing with something oither than the fair, LG, court specified). Or at least not without some other information not thus far provided.

2. Your entire argument is consequentialist. I firmly believe in the deontological stance as that a Paladin would take. Therefore all this balancing of one side's pros and cons against the other is completely inappropriate. His Code says to protect innocents. An innocent is in need of protection, he protects them. That's who he is and what he does. The mere possibility of failure should also not ever dissuade him from doing the right thing (though it's certainty can).

3. Even from a consequentialist perspective, it's quite likely that if it came out (and it likely would eventually) that the court executed an innocent man over the objections of a Paladin, it will do more long-term damage to it's credibility, the social contract, etc. than if one man breaks another out of jail and they later turn themselves in (and, in the Paladin's case, serve their time for any crimes commited in the rescue...which he would have to do, whatever the court's sentence). And the sentence being false coming out is also just as likely to result in riots and civil disobedience.

4. If the Paladin truly believes he is incapable of freeing the accused (either due to too many guards, or the accused refusing to leave with him), he need not do so. No Paladin ever needs to take on an impossible mission where his inevitable failure will accomplish nothing.

5. 'Killing innocent guards in the escape' is not an outcome that is possible. If it's that or get caught, he'll just surrender. And indeed, must do so.
.
.
.
I'm going to give you a hypothetical now, just to point out why this kind of cost/benefit analysis isn't (or shouldn't be) appropriate to a Paladin's moral decision making:

Say there's a young girl of 16 or so being forced into marriage with a man in his 30s who's known for being violently abusive to his women. Indeed, he's buried several already, and as a devotee of Zon-Kuthon, their deaths were the least of the awful things he did to them. She begs the Paladin's help. I think we'd all agree the Paladin must help her to escape her situation, so as to avoid being tortured, raped, and murdered.

Now, let's add a couple of things to this: She's a princess, and her marriage to this man (a King, actually) is all that's keeping him from invading her (Lawful Good aligned) country and causing a bloody war. And her betrothal is entirely legal by the laws of her country. Indeed, breaking it is a crime (specifically, high treason). We'll assume (for the sake of argument) that only breaking the betrothal can save her. Does the Paladin's answer to her cries for help change?

Now, in my opinion, if it does, he can't be called a proper deontolgist (since he's letting consequences get in the way of his principles). Nor a Good man. And so no Paladin.


The tale of the treasonous paladin...

Contributor

Deadmanwalking wrote:

I'm going to give you a hypothetical now, just to point out why this kind of cost/benefit analysis isn't (or shouldn't be) appropriate to a Paladin's moral decision making:

Say there's a young girl of 16 or so being forced into marriage with a man in his 30s who's known for being violently abusive to his women. Indeed, he's buried several already, and as a devotee of Zon-Kuthon, their deaths were the least of the awful things he did to them. She begs the Paladin's help. I think we'd all agree the Paladin must help her to escape her situation, so as to avoid being tortured, raped, and murdered.

Now, let's add a couple of things to this: She's a princess, and her marriage to this man (a King, actually) is all that's keeping him from invading her (Lawful Good aligned) country and causing a bloody war. And her betrothal is entirely legal by the laws of her country. Indeed, breaking it is a crime (specifically, high treason). We'll assume (for the sake of argument) that only breaking the betrothal can save her. Does the Paladin's answer to her cries for help change?

Now, in my opinion, if it does, he can't be called a proper deontolgist (since he's letting consequences get in the way of his principles). Nor a Good man. And so no Paladin.

So basically the girl is betrothed to Bluebeard, with all the grisly corpses of his previous brides stashed in the basement. This is King Bluebeard, admittedly, with an invading army at his disposal, but still Bluebeard.

Two problems with this scenario. The first is, this is not a LG nation you've set up. This is Omelas. Omelas where the sacrificial innocent is a princess being married off to Bluebeard instead of an innocent child locked in a basement, but Omelas all the same. That's not LG but LE with pretensions and hypocrisy raised to a civic virtue.

The second is the question of what, precisely, stops the paladin from just killing Bluebeard? It seems a nice neat morally acceptable solution. The paladin kills a sadistic serial murderer, the princess goes free, and the princess's nation, while still being Omelas, is released from their devil's bargain.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
The tale of the treasonous paladin...

Hamlet was a paladin, Macbeth wasn't; you do the math.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

I've always wondered why so many walked away from Omelas yet no one ever bothered to take the kid, grab a car, and drive away from Omelas while giving that city the finger.

Andoran

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
So basically the girl is betrothed to Bluebeard, with all the grisly corpses of his previous brides stashed in the basement. This is King Bluebeard, admittedly, with an invading army at his disposal, but still Bluebeard.

Yeah, basically.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Two problems with this scenario. The first is, this is not a LG nation you've set up. This is Omelas. Omelas where the sacrificial innocent is a princess being married off to Bluebeard instead of an innocent child locked in a basement, but Omelas all the same. That's not LG but LE with pretensions and hypocrisy raised to a civic virtue.

Well, this isn't Omelas because this isn't something they do regularly or continually, just something they're doing this once. Out of desperation. Which you must admit is a slightly different situation. Also, unlike Omelas, the individual people are not at fault in the morally abhorent decision, only the royal family, say. So most of the people who'll be hurt if she's not turne over are legitimately innocent, and may not even know about any of this.

Still, I probably should've said 'an otherwise LG nation'. Like people, nations aren't perfect, and one act isn't enough to change their Alignment completely...but this is a very bad thing they're doing.

It's also worth noting that I'm not actually stating this hypothetical as at all equivalent to the first one (it's intentionally a different sort of dilemma, and, IMO, a much easier one), I'm just using it to illustrate why Paladins shouldn't primarily be weighing potential costs to society to determine what the right thing to do is. It's resemblance to Omelas (an example of consequentialist utilitarianism taken way too far) is not entirely coincidental.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
The second is the question of what, precisely, stops the paladin from just killing Bluebeard? It seems a nice neat morally acceptable solution. The paladin kills a sadistic serial murderer, the princess goes free, and the princess's nation, while still being Omelas, is released from their devil's bargain.

It is indeed a great solution in many situations. But for purposes of this hypothetical working, it needs to not be available, so we'll say King Bluebeard is a 20th level Barbarian god-king of war and death, the Paladin is...we'll say 7th level, and there's a time limit on the whole thing that'll keep him from gaining more than one level before she's either given up to the King or hostilities commence. He has no sufficient backup or other heroes willing to help him kill the Evil King, either (he might have an adventuring party of his level, but nobody much higher).

Andoran

Mikaze wrote:
I've always wondered why so many walked away from Omelas yet no one ever bothered to take the kid, grab a car, and drive away from Omelas while giving that city the finger.

This has always been my precise reaction to that story, too. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to save the damn kid?

Still, it's sadly plausible. I'm reminded of the Milgram Study, and the fact that nobody ever let the 'victim' out. Some people refused to continue, but nobody released them.

Contributor

Deadmanwalking wrote:
It is indeed a great solution in many situations. But for purposes of this hypothetical working, it needs to not be available, so we'll say King Bluebeard is a 20th level Barbarian god-king of war and death, the Paladin is...we'll say 7th level, and there's a time limit on the whole thing that'll keep him from gaining more than one level before she's either given up to the King or hostilities commence. He has no sufficient backup or other heroes willing to help him kill the Evil King, either (he might have an adventuring party of his level, but nobody much higher).

So, basically, we've got Bluebeard the God King who likes hitting kingdoms up for sacrificial princesses on threat of invading and laying waste if he doesn't get a girl to kill for his jollies. Effectively we've got a dragon who wants his virgin sacrifice.

The princess is not on board with this plan and somehow runs into the paladin, and somehow he's in a position to help her escape. The question is whether he's morally beholden to.

I'd say he is, but not just because it's a way to save an innocent princess from being killed by Bluebeard the Dragon. The reason is because this is his best chance to get close to Bluebeard the Dragon and catch him with his pants down. Remember that time Thor dressed up in drag as Freya so he could get close enough to Thrym to kill him? Yeah, like that.

Yes, Bluebeard the Dragon may kill the paladin, and he may lay waste to the kingdom that was sending the sacrificial princess, but it's not a sure bet. He might just hit up the nobles for a couple extra princesses, but this time there are willing sacrifices--still not a great idea, but morally better than someone who's wanting to escape. He also might be killed during the attack on the kingdom, and if not by the folk of the kingdom, then by some enemy who found him vulnerable.

Now, certainly, doing this would be against the laws of the nation where the princess is from, but they're certainly not being a good nation if they're doing virgin sacrifices, especially unwilling ones, so sucks to be them. Even worse if they were dumb enough to order the paladin to be the one to "escort" the princess to Bluebeard the Dragon. If you want someone to follow an immoral order, you hire an assassin, not a paladin.

As for the question of the greatest good for the greatest number, the greatest good for the greatest number will be when Bluebeard the Dragon has little X marks for eyes.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
I've always wondered why so many walked away from Omelas yet no one ever bothered to take the kid, grab a car, and drive away from Omelas while giving that city the finger.

This has always been my precise reaction to that story, too. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to save the damn kid?

Still, it's sadly plausible. I'm reminded of the Milgram Study, and the fact that nobody ever let the 'victim' out. Some people refused to continue, but nobody released them.

Have you read "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ? Worth it!

Andoran

@Kevin Andrew Murphy:

Yeah, I more or less agree. But even with the whole 'catch him with his pants down' thing...this probably isn't gonna work. Murdering 20th level Barbarians is hard. It's worth a shot, but you've gotta plan for failure anyway. Which puts us back to this probably causing war and death (lots of it the deaths of innocent commoners who weren't involved in anything). Heck, even if you succeed in killing him, his people may go to war anyway (who says he's not a beloved monster?).

Looked at from a purely consequentialist viewpoint, if he's always kept deals like this before (we'll say he has) giving her up is the 'right' thing to do.

I don't buy that for a moment. Which is and always has been the heart of my argument in this thread. Even if he knows for a fact that saving her will start a war and that the King will kill him personally, and survive to go commit other atrocities, a Paladin will save her anyway because it's the right thing to do. The fact that this may have bad side effects is unfortunate (and something the Paladin will aim to minimize), but not the point.

Hitdice wrote:
Have you read "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ? Worth it!

I have not. Perhaps I shall. :)

Contributor

Deadmanwalking wrote:

@Kevin Andrew Murphy:

Yeah, I more or less agree. But even with the whole 'catch him with his pants down' thing...this probably isn't gonna work. Murdering 20th level Barbarians is hard. It's worth a shot, but you've gotta plan for failure anyway. Which puts us back to this probably causing war and death (lots of it the deaths of innocent commoners who weren't involved in anything). Heck, even if you succeed in killing him, his people may go to war anyway (who says he's not a beloved monster?).

Looked at from a purely consequentialist viewpoint, if he's always kept deals like this before (we'll say he has) giving her up is the 'right' thing to do.

I don't buy that for a moment. Which is and always has been the heart of my argument in this thread. Even if he knows for a fact that saving her will start a war and that the King will kill him personally, and survive to go commit other atrocities, a Paladin will save her anyway because it's the right thing to do. The fact that this may have bad side effects is unfortunate (and something the Paladin will aim to minimize), but not the point.

The "he always has before" doesn't mean much when you're dealing with a sociopath. Also, if the king and queen are doing realpolitik, they'll have a contingency plan for Bluebeard the Dragon not liking--or not getting--the princess they sent him. Crap happens, he has enemies, and how much does he trust his trusted lieutenant anyway?

Yes, there may be war, and people may die, but it's not a certain thing. Unless you're giving the paladin the power of perfect prophecy, in which case he should just be flipping forward to the part where Bluebeard the Dragon dies and how do you bring that about sooner.

The very fact that the paladin has the option to get involved means that not every piece on the board has been considered, and therefore the outcome is not certain. Likely, maybe, but not a done deal. And if there's one factor not calculated for, there's bound to be more.

And while his people may love him as a beloved monster, I somehow doubt they'd respect him as much if it were found out that not only did the promised princess escape, but he received a paladin in drag who then attacked him. Even if he destroyed him or still tortures him to this day for the glory of Zon-Kuthon, the plain facts are...well, embarrassing. Bad for morale among the Armies of Terror.

And his rivals? Oh, imagine the delicious gossip. Fast-track to godhood? Um, no.

And even if the bards sing the story of his terrible vengeance, they'll have to mention what the terrible vengeance was for. And somewhere there will be a child too young and innocent not to laugh, and that childish giggle will ring in the god emperor's ears and drive him mad. And not in the cool evil way either.

Andoran

I don't really disagree with any of that. :)


Deadmanwalking wrote:

I had a point by point rebuttal, but the internet sort of ate it. So I'm going to do a summary.

1. The original hypothetical stipulates that the Paladin knows the accused is innocent, not suspects. This means that he's seen compelling evidence (the imp in Kevin Andrew Murphy's example, for instance). If he can't act with that kind of proof he can never act at all.

I hear you. Of course, my point was that all belief, no matter how certain, is subjective. And thus he's placing his subjective view ahead of the court's judgment of his subjective view. I'd like to bring you to the Condemned Innocent - Revised. Look at that scenario with the prisoner in both situations: 1) Innocent 2) Guilty. In both alternates, the paladin is absolutely certain that he's right, he "knows" it, but he's also absolutely mistaken in the second case.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
2. Your entire argument is consequentialist. I firmly believe in the deontological stance as that a Paladin would take. Therefore all this balancing of one side's pros and cons against the other is completely inappropriate. His Code says to protect innocents. An innocent is in need of protection, he protects them. That's who he is and what he does. The mere possibility of failure should also not ever dissuade him from doing the right thing (though it's certainty can).

You're absolutely right, but mistaken as to my purpose. I'm using a consequentialist POV to describe the reasons for the deontological advocate's position--not the paladin's specific decision, but the rule of law he would follow.

Deontological moral frameworks are, in almost all cases, either drawn from divine law or from a position of reason/rationale regarding the consequences of various rules/laws. Jurisprudence is, where divine law is absent, all about developing a deontological framework based upon maximizing moral outcomes. Since we have no divine law to look at (Deuteronomy type stuff), we have to assume the latter as the basis for law. My goal was to show those sorts of reasons.

Also, to believe that exceptions are not built into deontological positions is to say that a paladin will, without exception, try to save a life he believes to be innocent without regard for any other factor, including breaking his word, the deaths of other innocents, starting a major war, abandoning a quest by his God, leaving a group of young children to fend for themselves (with a low hope of survival, but not impossible odds), almost impossible odds (when does improbable become too improbable that we can call it impossible?), etc.

Exceptions must exist as a *part* of deontological law or else the law would lose all significance. Imagine if the US were governed by only the ten commandments? That's deontological. So is modern day law. But the second has an incredible number of exceptions built into it.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
3. Even from a consequentialist perspective, it's quite likely that if it came out (and it likely would eventually) that the court executed an innocent man over the objections of a Paladin, it will do more long-term damage to it's credibility, the social contract, etc. than if one man breaks another out of jail and they later turn themselves in (and, in the Paladin's case, serve their time for any crimes commited in the rescue...which he would have to do, whatever the court's sentence). And the sentence being false coming out is also just as likely to result in riots and civil disobedience.

I suppose it's possible, but I doubt it. It seems clear, to me, that of the following two scenarios, the second is more likely to cause strife.

a) Evidence appearing that was not originally found, in spite of great effort, to exonerate a person that was hanged by the court, or
b) A murderous-thug was busted out of a jail by a lawless warrior of Serenrae?

Deadmanwalking wrote:
4. If the Paladin truly believes he is incapable of freeing the accused (either due to too many guards, or the accused refusing to leave with him), he need not do so. No Paladin ever needs to take on an impossible mission where his inevitable failure will accomplish nothing.

Well, you clearly acknowledge that a deontological law can be built to have exceptions. I wonder how a person can know that something is impossible? I mean, what if it's "iffy impossible" ("if only I had a holocaust cloak")?

Deadmanwalking wrote:
5. 'Killing innocent guards in the escape' is not an outcome that is possible. If it's that or get caught, he'll just surrender. And indeed, must do so.

No, I understand that. I think you missed the possibility where he may have a dilemma. If the innocent guy is he trying to rescue is being attacked by guards intent on killing him, the paladin may have to do serious damage to those guards to protect the innocent dude. Or he has to allow the innocent guy to die by the sword earlier than he would have by hanging.

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

Of course, I know you had a lot of things you wanted to say and lost, I think that the preponderance of reason is on the side of the law. All the paladin really has going for him to justify his behavior is that it's Good to save an innocent life. But it's not Good to do/cause all that other stuff. Now, saving an innocent life is pretty darn good, and in the balance, it weighs a heck of a lot. But how much? Obviously, that's a question for the deontologist philosopher to consider; the same philosopher who advises the King about just and moral laws for all deontologists to follow. And hopefully he'll consider it balance to everything I was talking about.

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

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Now, in my opinion, if it does, he can't be called a proper deontolgist (since he's letting consequences get in the way of his principles). Nor a Good man. And so no Paladin.

Oh, such a wonderful statement. It allows me, I think, to put things in proper perspective. A deontologist doesn't look at the consequences of an action to determine the morality of an action. But he will look at the situation to determine what action is the one he's supposed to take.

The easiest way to understand the distinction is to imagine he's got a little book with a way to address all of the problems he faces. In the first case he opens the book to "Save little girl from abusive marriage that will probably end with her torture and untimely death? Yes." In the second case he opens the book to, "Save little girl from abusive marriage that will probably end with her torture and untimely death but is decided by law to protect a thousand thousand citizens from an untimely death? No." Well, that really sucks. I don't want this girl to die, much less to be a sacrifice, that's right up there next to evil! Maybe there's another option in this stupid fracking book. Hmmm, how about this one? "Use law-demanded sacrificial girl as a cover to get close to murdering tyrant to end his life? Yes." Great! Can't save the girl, but I have a second option. Well, if I take the second option, I can maybe save the girl in the process! That's great!

All of the reasoning I gave in my "balance" above would never happen in the paladin's head--that would be consequentialist. He would consult his little black book. But the little black book was built with that balance in mind. That's why it tells him "No." even though he wants it to tell him "Yes." With sadness he would say, "Damn. Is there some other option?" But if there isn't, there isn't.

Does my position make any more sense?

Contributor

I think the trouble is that you've set up an artificial situation so that the paladin is between the horns of a dilemma without having the option for the paladin to cut the head off the dilemma and make it moot.

The paladin's hypothetical little black book basically has two commandments in it that are applicable:

1. Thou shalt not let innocents come to grief.

2. Thou shalt not let thousands suffer as some may be innocents.

Basically, the princess or the thousand citizens. But it's a false dilemma. If he can get in and kill the god emperor, no one gets sacrificed. If he fails? Well, that's the business of another paladin, but you don't get to be god emperor without making a few enemies and the paladin is one of them.

As for the king and queen of the not-quite-LG nation, I actually think they're more Good than we've been giving them credit for, and also more subtle.

So, the dragon has demanded a princess as tribute. Do you slap her in a FedEx box and pay for same-day service? Or do you pull out all the stops and go for all the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding and a state funeral all rolled into one? Tell your thousand citizens of the sacrifice their princess is making for them. Declare a national day of mourning. No, a week of mourning. Heck no, forty days of mourning or more if you can pull it off. Ask your priests what the longest grandest period of mourning can possibly be, double that if you can, and then start the princess on an endless series of dress fittings so she will be ready to meet her "bridegroom"

Why are you doing this? Because the king and queen have realized that "sacrifice" versus "war" is a false dilemma, but if they advertise for a knight to take down the dragon and save their kingdom, the dragon may get pissed and strike preemptively because in this stupid modern era, dragons read, rather than the good old days of yore when dragons were dumb and illiterate. But if they instead go on with all the fuss of a state funeral and a royal wedding, stroking the god emperor's massive ego and stalling as only the royalty can, someone somewhere may hear of it, say, "But this is wrong!" and go gack the god emperor for them.

If that person fails, the king and queen will of course deny any knowledge of where this person came from.

The queen might also take the princess aside and inform her daughter that while there are plenty of tales of sacrificial virgins, there are also a few where the princess, through her cleverness, manages to take down the dragon herself. Sometimes these princesses reform the dragon, sometimes they break a curse, occasionally they kill him. But being a helpless victim is probably not the choice her daughter wants to make. Yes, hoping for a knight in armor to save you is a good hope, and would be nice if it happens, but don't count on it. A princess makes contingency plans. Here's the tale of Sheherezade. All that girl had going for her was storytelling. She managed to pull it off. Here's the girl from "Prince Lindworm," and she wasn't even a princess--just a parlor maid with a lot of guts and some good advice. She managed to break the curse on the prince and ended up marrying into nobility. Here's the girl from Bluebeard and what she had were guts, smarts, and a little luck.

Heck, some modern princesses even know how to use swords themselves.

Andoran

jupistar wrote:
I hear you. Of course, my point was that all belief, no matter how certain, is subjective. And thus he's placing his subjective view ahead of the court's judgment of his subjective view. I'd like to bring you to the Condemned Innocent - Revised. Look at that scenario with the prisoner in both situations: 1) Innocent 2) Guilty. In both alternates, the paladin is absolutely certain that he's right, he "knows" it, but he's also absolutely mistaken in the second case.

If the Paladin has seen convincing evidence of innocence, I'll repeat, that saying he's unable to act because it might not be true makes him unable to act in any way, ever. He could always be being manipulated, after all.

If he hasn't seen such evidence, he is not certain, he believes he has faith but he is not truly certain. And in that case, breaking the guy out is an act of hubris, and probably not justified (though debatably not enough to make him fall...it's real close, though).

And I absolutely acknowledge that deontological frameworks are often built with exceptions. I even acknowledge that those exceptions are made from a desire to maximize moral goods. I do not agree that such exceptions (or the code in general) need to be made by someone doing consequentialist analysis.

A proper deontological framework has specific acts that are never acceptable, no matter the cost. Doing such things is thus unacceptable no matter what. Having 'allowing an innocent to be harmed, when you have means to prevent it' as such a principle, is absolutely possible, and indeed almost required by the Paladin's code (that 'helping those in need' part).

Having 'breaking any secular law' as such a provision is likewise possible...but a lot less likely for a Paladin (based on their Code as written).

jupistar wrote:

I suppose it's possible, but I doubt it. It seems clear, to me, that of the following two scenarios, the second is more likely to cause strife.

a) Evidence appearing that was not originally found, in spite of great effort, to exonerate a person that was hanged by the court, or
b) A murderous-thug was busted out of a jail by a lawless warrior of Serenrae?

Which is more likely to result in the loss of faith in a court, it's having executed an innocent man, or someone unrelated to the court commiting a crime?

Honestly, the first is vastly more damaging to the common man (who is the one we care about, here). People don't, as a rule, care that the Court's actions were reasonable, they care that it was tricked into killing an innocent man and might they be next? That's the kind of thing that can legitimately damage faith in the rule of law (assuming we're in a situation where anything will).

While the Paladin breaking a guy out doesn't damage the court's or the law's reputation at all. Nor faith in the rule of law. It damages people's faith in the prison in question, which, let's face it, really could probably use some improvement if the Paladin could bust in and out.

Now, the Paladin believing a man innocent who's been found guilty, might damage the Court's reputation, but that happens whether he rescues the guy or not.

jupistar wrote:
All of the reasoning I gave in my "balance" above would never happen in the paladin's head--that would be consequentialist. He would consult his little black book. But the little black book was built with that balance in mind. That's why it tells him "No." even though he wants it to tell him "Yes." With sadness he would say, "Damn. Is there some other option?" But if there isn't, there isn't.

Any Code that puts possibilities of maybe causing some future hardship to somebody (by potentially damaging the Court's legitimacy and sovereignty) over a real event (the death of an innocent) is not one a Paladin (or, indeed, anyone Good) should be following.

Or to put it another way: Most of your points against the act are that it's Chaotic, not that it's Evil. Standing by watching an innocent die when you have the power to save him is an Evil act. When Paladins have to choose between performing Chaotic or Evil acts, the way the rules works makes it abundantly clear that they must choose Chaos over Evil.

To put it yet another way, for a LG character (or at least a Paladin) laws are a means, Good is the end. He just thinks Laws are the best way to that end. When means fail, you try other means, not hold to your means over the ends.

jupistar wrote:
Does my position make any more sense?

Oh, it makes sense. It's logical and everything. Heck, it has been fom the beginning. But it flies in the face of both the books's definitions of what Good is and means, and the fictional archetype I firmly believe Paladins as a class were designed to embody. Hence, my strong disagreement with it.

And you never answered my hypothetical. I'm curious as to your answer specifically.
.
.
.
@Kevin Andrew Murphy: Still not really disagreeing with anything you've written, and all good ideas. In the same way that proving the man's innocence somehow before he's executed is a great solution to the original problem.

But how is this (it being a false dilemma, that usually has a third option) really different from the original scenario in the thread? Mine's exaggerated for effect and altered more than a bit, but both are an ostensibly LG authority harming an innocent for a potentially valid reason. It's not intended as a dilemma that would truly ever be faced in a game (though it sure could be) but as an exercise in 'What makes this different?' as compared to the original dilemma.

251 to 300 of 374 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / Paladins: Doing what's right vs doing what's correct All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.