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

RPG Superstar 2015

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


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

1 to 50 of 374 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>

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

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

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

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Hire Sherlock Holmes.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

When the law is used against the good and innocent, it stops being the law of the people.

Even if the evidence is stacked, it isn't real evidence but corrupted evidence. That's enough for me to go in and save this person from getting executed, provided he is found guilty. Of course, I'd hope the GM has a way to find the real evidence and prove to the country that this person is indeed innocent.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

9 people marked this as a favorite.

That depends on your Paladin code, to some degree. Each one's gonna be a bit different, after all. That said, if it comes down to violating the law, or allowing injustice, you actually have to break them out of jail.

A jailbreak (as long as you don't harm any guards permanently) is not an Evil act. Nor is it necesarily disrespectful to a legitimate authority, respectful disagreement is entirely possible after all. You can even leave them a polite note about how you regret the necessity of this, and will turn both him and yourself in, once you've proven his innocence.

Allowing an innocent man to die when you have the power to save him? That's an Evil act, and not allowed for Paladins. And a failure to help someone in need, so it actually causes you to fall twice. You allow him to die, and you cease to be a Paladin (until ou do some serious atonement, anyway).

So, in short, the Paladin code actually requires you to break the law in this case. Hardly a unique situation, but always one people seem to have trouble with, despite the extremely clear statements throughout the Paladin codes and class writeup in general that, while Paladins must be Lawful, they are first and foremost Good. You don't lose your Paladin powers for Chaotic acts after all, only Evil ones.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

The Lawful part at the paladin didn't mean he have to obay the local laws, more the unified laws of goodness (my opinion).

So in this case: save the innocent and take all action which are needed to proof he's innocent.

P.S.: /agree to Deadmanwalking :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Generally if the paladin is convinced (say through first-person observation) that the accused is innocent, they will not allow a misled court to convict. Assuming the trial existed to prove or disprove the guilt of the accused, a guilty verdict is a failure of the law to execute its purpose. It is the paladin's duty to see the law upheld, and an innocent person set free.

There's a LOT of room for HOW a paladin does this. They may for instance offer to the court that they will accept the guilty into their care. "I take it upon my own reputation and recognizance that I will govern over the accused and ensure that in the future your town will not need fear their actions." They may insist. They may even use nonlethal force. "I was there. The accusers were not. The accused comes with me and anyone who wishes to make it otherwise is hereby warned that further unlawful interference is unwise."

It's up to the player. But no, a paladin isn't forced to uphold a dirty court's rulings.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neo2151 wrote:

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

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

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

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

That includes letting the corrupt and manipulated legal system murder innocents. Sounds like a plot, sounds like some investigation followed by liberal amounts of smiting.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

That depends on your Paladin code, to some degree. Each one's gonna be a bit different, after all. That said, if it comes down to violating the law, or allowing injustice, you actually have to break them out of jail.

A jailbreak (as long as you don't harm any guards permanently) is not an Evil act. Nor is it necesarily disrespectful to a legitimate authority, respectful disagreement is entirely possible after all. You can even leave them a polite note about how you regret the necessity of this, and will turn both him and yourself in, once you've proven his innocence.

Allowing an innocent man to die when you have the power to save him? That's an Evil act, and not allowed for Paladins. And a failure to help someone in need, so it actually causes you to fall twice. You allow him to die, and you cease to be a Paladin (until ou do some serious atonement, anyway).

So, in short, the Paladin code actually requires you to break the law in this case. Hardly a unique situation, but always one people seem to have trouble with, despite the extremely clear statements throughout the Paladin codes and class writeup in general that, while Paladins must be Lawful, they are first and foremost Good. You don't lose your Paladin powers for Chaotic acts after all, only Evil ones.

Like the idea about the turning you and them in after you clear them of guilt. A hilarious dm would have you both killed after turning yourselves in, and for this to be entirely legal. Whoops, forgot my legal knowledge.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neo2151 wrote:

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

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

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

Evidence? Physical evidence should be irrelevant, stop thinking like all fantasy worlds are modern society in other clothes.

Prior to the 20th century physical evidence was a distant second to character and witness evaluation. This is one reason why foreigners and vagabonds (which I think adventures often are) are at a disadvantage, no family or colleagues that can stand up and speak on their behalf and try and convince the court that the act is not in the defendant’s nature.
A Paladin that would take a solemn oath to their god to tell the truth, and then lie under oath would be stripped of their powers; the Paladin knows this, and more importantly the court knows this as well. So a paladin is very powerful in the kind of situations were they speak in a court, as its is only possible to argue that the paladin is wrong and misinformed, never that they speak an untruth knowingly.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Or, more realistically and in keeping with the tenants of Lawful Good, a paladin would exert every lawful means in his disposal to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person was innocent, while using the law to delay the execution.

If the paladin in question is a well-respected member of the community, he should be able to request a few days to delay. A law-abiding, just court would listen when the character states he may be able to find evidence exonerating the prisoner. A secretly-manipulated-one would probably still give the time extension, either because they feel they cannot be unraveled, or they need the populace to be shown that the paladin was wrong.

After that, we have to make an assumption that the paladin cannot simply "detect lies" the prisoner for whatever reason. We'll claim we're in Cliffport, where magical testimony is not considered valid. We can't time-scry, then, either. But the paladin should have his own contacts. In some feudal settings, a simple "God wants you to tell the truth" to a serf-witness would cause them to break and reveal themselves.

Of course, that's not even factoring in what the paladin's companions would be doing. When a anything-but-evil rogue hears the paladin's lament, he's going to start digging as well. And while the paladin cannot condone spying or burglary to get evidence, the rogue can act independently.

Generally, this kind of thing should not be a "one-hour game session". It's a serious question of the character's motivations and his take on his own alignment, and therefore should be played out slowly and methodically. There should be small questions of faith and righteousness before this kind of "hard break" moral dilemma, and something everyone at the table is going to enjoy. If your paladin is more interested in the notion of the jailbreak, then they're not really a paladin, they're a fighter that wants a different set of powers.

As for the jailbreak... Lawful Good can't think that way, or it will rapidly use the ends to justify the means, and cease being Lawful Good, just Self-Righteous Good.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Spend 5,000 gp on diamond dust.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

you know actually alot of the paladin code questions relate back to 2 philosophical theorists with opposed views. its between kant and john Stuart mill.
kant says that your ethical behavior should be outside of the rest of the world circumstances don't matter. so never lie no matter what for example. so breaking the law to save a man would violate your ethics therefore would not be a morale act. while mill would say you should save the innocent man if you have to lie cheat and steal to do it.
im in a rush ill go into more detail later

Liberty's Edge

Also, if the judicial system is based on current judicial systems there are options available. The court is likely, even with all the evidence, to grant a paladin some leeway. If asked the court could be willing to grant an extension on the trial and have more time for investigation. This would allow said paladin and party to find the real killer. Also, a paladin with some key skills, diplomacy/perform oratory and sense motive, could make a very effective defense lawyer for said innocent person.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Neo2151 wrote:

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

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

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

What you're describing is not exactly an unknown trope. The answer is based on the nature of what inspires the game. You do what Heroes do... you find a third way out that respects the law and exonerates your friend. That of course assumes that both you and your GM are actually on a common page as to what game you're playing. If your GM is modeling his campaign on despair and futility, then it's a matter of Lose No Matter Which Choice You Make.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

1 person marked this as a favorite.
vidmaster wrote:

you know actually alot of the paladin code questions relate back to 2 philosophical theorists with opposed views. its between kant and john Stuart mill.

kant says that your ethical behavior should be outside of the rest of the world circumstances don't matter. so never lie no matter what for example. so breaking the law to save a man would violate your ethics therefore would not be a morale act.

I disagree. If circumstances matter nothing at all, then you should save him, because saving an innocent is the right thing to do. Whether that's what society approves of or not. Right is right. Or at least that's an equally valid Kantian argument.

Kant's philosophy doesn't actually say one way or the other on this one. It just says that the consequences and practical problems don't matter, it's purely a question of what you'd do without said consequences. So if your personal code says 'always obey the law' then that's what you should do, and if your personal code says 'always defend the innocent' that's what you should do.

If your personal code contains both? Then you're in trouble, and need to decide which principle is more important.


I think you're presenting a false choice in a high magic fantasy setting. In a Pathfinder setting, false convictions should be at or near zero.

Detect Magic / Detect Thoughts / Discern Lies / Zone of Truth:

"Did you do it?"

"No."

Case closed. The only way I can see the evidence being "stacked against him" is if he said "yes" at some point to the above interrogation procedure. If the authorities are worried he might make his will save, just do it 30 times. There's really no need for 'investigation' in Pathfinder, just bounty hunters and priests.

I see no reason the Paladin should have to break the law in any case. This is a perfectly good alternative:

ShadowcatX wrote:
Spend 5,000 gp on diamond dust.

Steal the body, raise it, add him to your cohort cadre under your leadership feat.

Shadow Lodge

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

Hmm... You do have yourself in a tough choice. I would say first thing is to think of what god you worship and how they handle the law. The first example that comes to my mind is if you are a paladin of abadar the god of laws and civilization's progress you would have to let it happen as potentially destabilizing the local law for one man would be seen as a greater evil then the death of one innocent man while if you follow someone like erastil where it's about nature and the protecting of the community especially those that cannot help themselves then you would certainly want to save him before this heinous crime can be committed! But next I would say is to remember that a paladins job is to uphold both the powers of law and the powers of good to the utmost they can achieve, now it is your job as the paladin to decide which is more important at any given time and how helping one will help the other. It is also his duty to respect the authority and ruler ship of whatever government he finds himself in as different cultures have different priorities and therefore the laws and authority he runs into may be perfect for the situation this town/villiage/city may find themselves in. He must also remember that it is easier to fix a problem and having it stick by going through the proper channels then by having outsiders staging a revolution at the end of an axe. Remember a paladin is allowed to break the law from time to time if the situation calls for it but should have tried every viable option he can think of within the system before he decides to fly into decent.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Paladin does everything he can legally to get it overturned. When that fails, he gets the guy out of jail, being careful not to hurt anyone along the way (unless they are part of the plot to get the guy convicted wrongly).

Once the victim is safe (in another country for example), then the Paladin turns himself in for his crimes, and pleads his case. Then he accepts whatever punishment he is given by the (posited fair) courts, and serves his time.


KitsuneSoup wrote:
....

/sign /sign /sign

On the other hand if it's a key fragment to the story, it's fine, but then try to justify it with fantasy/literature means, not with real world science. (A well respected town elder who saws the "murder" e.g.)

Scarab Sages

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Nine out of ten parts of the Paladin's version of Lawful Good is emphasis on the good.

They don't 'detect chaos' and they don't 'smite chaos' and they don't suffer any sort of approbrium (or possible loss of class abilities!) for hanging out with chaotic folk. Mechanically, since the Paladin class was invented, 'lawful' has been a distant afterthought, at best, and there's no reason why your paladin PC has to put more attention into his 'lawful-ness' than the creators of the game did.

If the quandary of the day puts the Lawful at odds with the Good, the Good wins every time, IMO.

Scarab Sages

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Neo2151 wrote:

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

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

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

Firstly, I'd remove the emotive and loaded language from the above situation.

You say the paladin knows the accused is innocent.
How?
Is this backed up by solid evidence, that would stand up to unbiased, objective scrutiny and cross-examination?
If so, it should be presented to the court.
If not, then the paladin doesn't actually know the accused is innocent at all, he just has 'a feeling'.
You don't disrupt court proceedings over hunches, feelings, or twinges of pity.
No dilemma exists here. Let the court officials get on with their jobs.

Assuming the accused has a cast-iron alibi, is otherwise incapable of committing the crime, and/or compelling evidence exists that another person was responsible;

Has that evidence been put before the court?
If not, why not?
Is their defence counsel incompetent? Corrupt? Are they being intimidated?
These are grounds for requesting the removal of existing counsel, and ofering to represent the accused yourself. Show the court any evidence of corruption or tampering. The latter will predispose the judge to look less favourably on the prosecution.
No dilemma here. Let the evidence show the truth of the matter. The accused goes free.

Assuming the incontrovertible proof of innocence exists, and has been put to the court;

You say the evidence is 'stacked', yet in the next sentence, you say the court is fair and incorruptible.
This does not compute.
A court that has been handed such evidence, yet still goes ahead with the case, and/or discards the evidence of one side as inadmissable, is not a 'fair and incorruptible' institution. A paladin is in no way beholden to a corrupt institution, nor to the corrupted judgments they pass.
No dilemma here. You stop the proceedings, take the accused into your care, until you can ensure a fair trial.

Assuming the stacked evidence has been sprung by surprise on the 'fair and incorruptible' court;
Again, this does not compute.
Despite what years of Perry Mason reruns tell us, you cannot simply barge into an ongoing trial, yelling wild, untested claims.
If the prosecution are being allowed to do this, and the defence is not allowed to counter with equaly lurid counter-accusations, nor are they allowed to examine the new evidence, then you do not have a fair and incorruptible court. You have a court that intends to treat the accused as 'guilty till proven guilty'.
No dilemma exists. You stop the proceedings, take the accused into your care, until the new evidence for the prosecution can be investigated, and/or a new trial arranged in an unbiased court.

Assuming the court refuse to allow time to gather evidence for the defence, because they 'have to get this case over with quickly', then they are also not a valid court of law, but a kangaroo court, run by a bloodthirsty lynch mob.
A paladin is in no way beholden to follow mob rule or vigilantism.
The truth is more important than convenience.
The objective of any legitimate court (that would be recognised by a paladin) is to arrive at the correct verdict, even if doing so requires the case to be put on hold for a few extra days to allow for the gathering of evidence.
No dilemma here. You stop the proceedings, take the accused into your care, until the evidence for the prosecution can be examined, evidence for the defence gathered, and/or a new trial arranged in an unbiased court.

In short, there should never be a situation in which a paladin finds themselves at odds with a fair, impartial court, since such a body would share the paladin's aims of getting to the truth of the matter at all costs.

If you are able to give further information about the situation as it occurred in-game, and show that it avoids all the above, then please do so.

I would contend that, however the situation appears at first glance, there will not be any dilemma. Any practice a court may have, that would hinder the pursuit of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, would invalidate that court as a recognised legal authority by a paladin.
And any attempt by a GM to declare this a lose-lose situation would be false.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Snorter wins. Flawless victory.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

@Snorter:

I got the impression, from the initial post, that the situation was something like this:

The Paladin was an eyewitness, inasmuch as he was the target's alibi, and was with him both when the crime was commited, and fom then until his arrest. This is all the accused has going for him.

However, there is significant physical evidence that he committed the crime in question, possibly including a number of witnesses seeing him committing the crime with their own eyes.

So, he's clearly been framed, and the Paladin says so in the trial loudly, ublically, and under oath. But for whatever reason (Chaotic country, inability to admit he's a Paladin (maybe he's in Rahadoum), whatever) the Paladin's word is simply not considered good enough. Or perhaps the prosecution argues that the Paladin was the one fooled by an illusion of some sort to give the accused a perfect alibi! Or maybe the Paladin is sleeping with the accused, and the prosecution insinuates that even a Paladin might lie to save the life of their lover. Or a dozen other possibilities. In any case, the Paladin's credibility is insufficient for the jury.

So, the jury (a perfectly reasonable method of trying a person for a crime, who're good honest folk, and have been given all the available evidence) find the poor man guilty. So. Situation as presented occurs. Go.

Situations where, even in a fair court, the innocent are convicted inevitably do occur sometimes.
.
.
.
And before people bring up magic, there are easy ways around all of it. It'd certainly be used, but not everyone who stands in a Zone of Truth fails the Will Save, and Glibness is a real thing to boot, so nobody's ever going to be completely sure.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

I plan on playing a paladin soon, and I plan on emphasizing the Good over the Lawful. I also see my Lawfulness being used to promote society, group dynamic, helping others, being organized, etc. Not a rules lawyer dick (pardon my Elvish), tyrannical bureaucrat, social conservative, or law-and-order stick in the mud.

So I would err on the Goodness over Lawfulness. Also, you can always put someone back in jail. It's very hard (but not impossible in Pathfinder!!!) to un-execute someone.


Neo2151 wrote:

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

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

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

The problem with this kind of thing is you get to design a scenerio that may not be entirely realistic inthe terms of a game. I know few GMs that would stack the deck so thoroughly against any character, let alone a paladin. Its almost like a logical fallacy, if that makes any sense.

See the problem with this What if is the paladin knowing for sure the person is innocent. If he has the evidence and the court is fair and just then he can present that evidence and the person will be free. If that evidence isnt strong enough to get the person off then obviously it wasnt strong enough, for sure, to convince the paladin of the person's innocence.


Neo2151 wrote:
What, in most people's opinions, is the correct path to follow here, and in other situations where doing the right thing is also doing the wrong thing?

Lawful Good. Not goodly lawful. Law is a descriptor of how he achieves the ends of good. But achieving good is the ultimate and most important of goals.

If the JUST application of FAIR laws are circumvented then no true justice can be achieved. In that case the paladin must do what is right to make sure that GOOD is preserverd.

An innocent man knowingly sent to prison or death while the Paladin still breaths is not an option. The Paladin will exhaust any and all legal recourses at his disposal to get the victim free. This could take time and the victim could spend some time in prison while it happens, but if the process works and the innocent is safe while incarcerated then when he/she is freed then they can be recompensed for their suffering.

If they are to be executed or all legal avenues to REAL justice have been fruitlessly exhausted or blocked by subterfuge, etcetera, then the Paladin MUST ACT to preserve truth and justice even if it means contravening local laws (which have themselves been contravened by the setup in this case and therefore proven inneffective).

Once the innocent have been protected and the truth revealved the Paladin should turn themselves in for whatever crimes they may have had to commit to see real justice done.

Being a paladin is a task of service, sacrifice for others and the common good and leading by example and virtue. It also means you cannot rationalise your actions or take the path of expedience.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Snorter wins the thread.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

@Snorter:

I got the impression, from the initial post, that the situation was something like this:

The Paladin was an eyewitness, inasmuch as he was the target's alibi, and was with him both when the crime was commited, and fom then until his arrest. This is all the accused has going for him.

However, there is significant physical evidence that he committed the crime in question, possibly including a number of witnesses seeing him committing the crime with their own eyes.

So, he's clearly been framed, and the Paladin says so in the trial loudly, ublically, and under oath. But for whatever reason (Chaotic country, inability to admit he's a Paladin (maybe he's in Rahadoum), whatever) the Paladin's word is simply not considered good enough. Or perhaps the prosecution argues that the Paladin was the one fooled by an illusion of some sort to give the accused a perfect alibi! Or maybe the Paladin is sleeping with the accused, and the prosecution insinuates that even a Paladin might lie to save the life of their lover. Or a dozen other possibilities. In any case, the Paladin's credibility is insufficient for the jury.

So, the jury (a perfectly reasonable method of trying a person for a crime, who're good honest folk, and have been given all the available evidence) find the poor man guilty. So. Situation as presented occurs. Go.

Situations where, even in a fair court, the innocent are convicted inevitably do occur sometimes.
.
.
.
And before people bring up magic, there are easy ways around all of it. It'd certainly be used, but not everyone who stands in a Zone of Truth fails the Will Save, and Glibness is a real thing to boot, so nobody's ever going to be completely sure.

Instead of replying to Snorter, I'll just say "pretty much this." :)

Also, this is Pathfinder we're talking about. When I say "evidence," it's most likely testimony I'm talking about. For example, let's say it's the city governor who's doing the framing. Does random paladin's testimony outweigh the governor's? Not likely.

-----

Something to keep in mind for those in the "good over lawful" camp is that a small part of your personal code is actually RAW, and the RAW part of your code is the one that demands you be lawful. Respect legitimate authority, act with honor (don't lie, cheat, use poison, etc,) help those in need (provided they don't use said help for evil ends,) and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

What makes this an interesting thought experiment is that the "help those in need" is coming into conflict with "respect legitimate authority." Both are part of your code by RAW, and neglecting either will potentially cause you to lose your powers.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

Neo2151 wrote:
What makes this an interesting thought experiment is that the "help those in need" is coming into conflict with "respect legitimate authority." Both are part of your code by RAW, and neglecting either will potentially cause you to lose your powers.

I'll simply note my point about exactly this in my first post: Respect and obey are different. Respectful disagreements are eminently possible, and you can even respect an enemy. Nothing in there about obeying legitimate authority, after all.


Just do what they would do on Gunsmoke. Try your best to find the guilty person and thereby clear the wrongly accused of his crimes.
If this doesn't work, bust him out and hide him until you can catch the man who commited the crime.
Do it the lawful way.
This leads to a great timed adventure and a lot of fun.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

@Snorter:

I got the impression, from the initial post, that the situation was something like this:

The Paladin was an eyewitness, inasmuch as he was the target's alibi, and was with him both when the crime was commited, and fom then until his arrest. This is all the accused has going for him.

However, there is significant physical evidence that he committed the crime in question, possibly including a number of witnesses seeing him committing the crime with their own eyes.

So, he's clearly been framed, and the Paladin says so in the trial loudly, ublically, and under oath. But for whatever reason (Chaotic country, inability to admit he's a Paladin (maybe he's in Rahadoum), whatever) the Paladin's word is simply not considered good enough. Or perhaps the prosecution argues that the Paladin was the one fooled by an illusion of some sort to give the accused a perfect alibi! Or maybe the Paladin is sleeping with the accused, and the prosecution insinuates that even a Paladin might lie to save the life of their lover. Or a dozen other possibilities. In any case, the Paladin's credibility is insufficient for the jury.

So, the jury (a perfectly reasonable method of trying a person for a crime, who're good honest folk, and have been given all the available evidence) find the poor man guilty. So. Situation as presented occurs. Go.

Situations where, even in a fair court, the innocent are convicted inevitably do occur sometimes.

That's certainly a valid counter, and a situation that could occur in-game.

I would say that, given the very real existence of illusion magic, shape-shifting, and memory-clouding, that this falls under my first paragraph.

The paladin truly believed the accused was with him when the offences took place. Yet here are witnesses, some of whom may be rivals of the accused, but several of them with no reason to lie, who are willing to swear to seeing the accused, somewhere else, commiting the crime.
What to do?

The paladin's first action should be to ensure that he has not been subject to trickery or magical deceit. It would be the height of hubris, to assume that he is incapable of being fooled, and to set himself against the court, and start hacking his way through confused citizens and bailiffs, who are trying to do their job.

This is where the paladin's fellow PCs get on the case, to go through the accused's belongings, for signs he may not be what he seems.
They also hit the streets to check out the story put together by the prosecution.
He was seen leaving by an upper-storey window, yet that window has been painted shut. He was seen leaping from a roof into a garden, yet there are no footprints in the earth. Illusions? Or lies? Have the witnesses been leaned on? One of them recently came into money, and was splashing it around the bar. Was this a deposit, with the rest to come after the guilty verdict?
Whatever they turn up, they should use what they can to delay the case, with the obvious dilemma that they don't want to tip off the other side that they are onto something.

That's how you deal with this, and keep the rest of the players involved. As opposed to just shouting "I KNOW I'm right! But I can't base this on any actual facts...".

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

Snorter wrote:

That's certainly a valid counter, and a situation that could occur in-game.

I would say that, given the very real existence of illusion magic, shape-shifting, and memory-clouding, that this falls under my first paragraph.

I disagree. If he was literally with him the whole time, and knows him well enough to believe he wasn't fooled, he has more than 'a feeling', he just doesn't have proof.

Snorter wrote:

The paladin truly believed the accused was with him when the offences took place. Yet here are witnesses, some of whom may be rivals of the accused, but several of them with no reason to lie, who are willing to swear to seeing the accused, somewhere else, commiting the crime.

What to do?

The paladin's first action should be to ensure that he has not been subject to trickery or magical deceit. It would be the height of hubris, to assume that he is incapable of being fooled, and to set himself against the court, and start hacking his way through confused citizens and bailiffs, who are trying to do their job.

Well sure. Obviously, the first thing he does is testify and look for proof of the accused's innocence. But what if that doesn't work?

Snorter wrote:

This is where the paladin's fellow PCs get on the case, to go through the accused's belongings, for signs he may not be what he seems.

They also hit the streets to check out the story put together by the prosecution.
He was seen leaving by an upper-storey window, yet that window has been painted shut. He was seen leaping from a roof into a garden, yet there are no footprints in the earth. Illusions? Or lies? Have the witnesses been leaned on? One of them recently came into money, and was splashing it around the bar. Was this a deposit, with the rest to come after the guilty verdict?
Whatever they turn up, they should use what they can to delay the case, with the obvious dilemma that they don't want to tip off the other side that they are onto something.

That's how you deal with this, and keep the rest of the players involved. As opposed to just shouting "I KNOW I'm right! But I can't base this on any actual facts...".

And what if the PCs do all this, find compelling evidence that proves his innocence...and it's destroyed (perhaps magically) before they get it to court? And they aren't believed, and their time runs out, and he's found guilty and about to be executed.

This is a hypothetical, it's point is to explore a possible (if, perhaps, unlikely) situation, and what the moral thing to do in that situation is. Your points are all perfectly valid ways to potentially avoid having to make said decision, and good ones, but they aren't foolproof, the situation can still occur. And that's what the original question is exploring: what happens when it does.

In a very real sense you aren't answering the question. He's asking "How do you escape from Orc slavers?" and you're answering with a lot of ways to avoid getting captured in the first place, but no real solution on what to do once you are. It's good, potentially useful, information but it has little to do with the actual question at hand.


There's a couple of things I'd like to mention.

First, how does the court know that the paladin is a paladin? His testimony is no more inherently believable than another person's because the court doesn't know what his code is or that he would never break his word. Universal awareness of a paladin's virtues is not a given (it may be the case in the OP's world or in Golarion, but it is not necessarily so).

Second, magic is probably not considered legally admissible for a number of reasons. First it is no more reliable than testimony since it can be shown to fail in even the most powerful of cases (even a 20th level caster can have the target roll a natural 20). Second it only conveys hearsay evidence since only the caster knows the result of most spells, so the caster then has to testify to what the spell revealed. Third it puts the power of the law into the hands of an elite group instead of a group of the accused peers, and elite groups are well known for having agendas of their own.

So using my own campaign world as an example, magic can be used as an aid to investigation, but it does not prove anything. The magic must lead to a chain of evidence that a normal person finds reasonable and acceptable.

Just thought I'd throw out these thoughts for the OP to consider. With these in mind, the situation he describes seems very possible to me.

The Exchange Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Marathon Voter 2015

Trial of the beast showed us only charisma and hitting secret points on a piece of paper work.


Is trial by combat legitimate in the area? This is actually quite common in the middle ages/fantasy settings.

If it is and I was playing a paladin, I would suggest to the accused that I will be his champion in a trial by combat.


A slightly different position: I pretty much disagree with those who assume that Good forces Chaos on a Lawful Good character. If the evidence is stacked against the accused in a natural way -- not illegally or unethically -- then I see the Paladin believing that "the process" and "the system" must be upheld, even if a few innocents are unfairly convicted of crimes; that the process must be a fair process to all. So, from this code of ethics, the Paladin's only recourse would be to do everything necessary to save this guy from the noose, but within the law.

I understand some would rationalize what they would do if they were the Paladin, trying to choose the lesser of two evils ("It's not a legitimate court, I would rescue the innocent.", "I would rescue the innocent and try to atone by leaving a note and committing myself to proving his innocence"). But I see this as the players imposing their beliefs on their Paladin. If I were the DM, any rescue by force in this scenario would be seen as alignment-breaking. I would say these Paladins are acting in a Chaotic Good fashion.

vidmaster is right -> this is a standard case of deontology (Kant) vs consequentialism (Mill)

If we accept that "Chaotic" does not mean "random", then a Paladin who abides by a code of ethics that exists within his mind only is not Lawful, but rather Chaotic; if he acts in accordance to his conscience only, then he is not Lawful, but rather Chaotic. "Lawful" implies following the law of an objective body or organization (such as the church or a government) and upholding that law even when it makes mistakes. I can't see a church being sanctioned in a civilized land where it actively promoted vigilanteism or that it's Paladins/Inquisitors were to act outside the law of the land. So these churches would, almost ubiquitously, uphold the legitimate authorities and the local system of law, and so would their agents.

The pure good deontologist (Lawful Good) would act solely within the law to save the innocent, whereas the pure good consequentialist (Chaotic Good) would choose the lesser of two evil courses to maximize the greatest good, such as using the flat of his blade as he knocked heads around to extract the accused after a guilty verdict.

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

So, when the Law is in question and sides must be taken, you take the side of Law as being the greater good; you take the deontologist's (modern morality) approach:

The system is the paramount good and the process must be upheld, even when mistakes are made, else what's the point of the Law? Every time someone believes an accused individual is innocent (based upon a subjectively-sufficient level of evidence to support that belief), they should try to break them out of jail? What happens to the vigilante if caught? What if the vigilante is right? What if the vigilante is wrong? What if the vigilante is lying and doesn't truly believe the accused is innocent? Doesn't sound like it makes for a very ordered, lawful, and peaceful society. It is wrong to circumvent the system.

And if you're Chaotic Good, then you probably side against the Law; you take the consequentialist's position:

The system is not perfect and when it fails, we have to contribute a healthy heaping of Good to make up for it. What value is a system that doesn't achieve the greatest Good? Sure, faith in the system is low and made lower by vigilanteism, but what does that matter when balanced against innocent lives? It is wrong to do nothing.

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

But ultimately, it's like beej67 said. This type of question in these D&D and Pathfinder worlds is silly. Any decent system of justice would have impartial officials from the churches standing by to give the ultimate lie detector tests (Detect Magic / Detect Thoughts / Discern Lies / Zone of Truth). Cases could be resolved in 10 minutes with no need for courts or anything. Just drag the accused before a magistrate who has four clerics of Good (Serenrae, Iomedae, Desna, and Erastil) standing by to interrogate the individual. They each write down their findings and pass it to the magistrate. If there is a split on what the Clerics perceive, then a trial is required, but this should be extremely rare (magic immune creatures, perhaps, only). In most cases it should always be 4:0. So, "off with you" or "off with his head" is the result of this 10 minute meeting with the magistrate.

Personally, I hate these types of mind-reading spells (Detect Thoughts / Discern Lies / Zone of Truth). They're far too story-ruining.

Dark Archive

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


beej67 wrote:

I think you're presenting a false choice in a high magic fantasy setting. In a Pathfinder setting, false convictions should be at or near zero.

Detect Magic / Detect Thoughts / Discern Lies / Zone of Truth:

"Did you do it?"

"No."

Case closed. The only way I can see the evidence being "stacked against him" is if he said "yes" at some point to the above interrogation procedure. If the authorities are worried he might make his will save, just do it 30 times. There's really no need for 'investigation' in Pathfinder, just bounty hunters and priests.

I see no reason the Paladin should have to break the law in any case. This is a perfectly good alternative:

ShadowcatX wrote:
Spend 5,000 gp on diamond dust.

Steal the body, raise it, add him to your cohort cadre under your leadership feat.

What if they been the victim of a modify memory spell?

Liberty's Edge

Snorter wrote:


That's certainly a valid counter, and a situation that could occur in-game.

I would say that, given the very real existence of illusion magic, shape-shifting, and memory-clouding, that this falls under my first paragraph.

The paladin truly believed the accused was with him when the offences took place. Yet here are witnesses, some of whom may be rivals of the accused, but several of them with no reason to lie, who are willing to swear to seeing the accused, somewhere else, commiting the crime.
What to do?

Of course, we all know the reliability of witnesses. It's not like there's tons of research data and studies having been performed that state how unreliable witnesses can be. Oh wait......

Admittedly, this kind of research may not be available in a game.

Dark Archive

If everyone could get away with the "charmed" defense we could never arrest anyone.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
vidmaster wrote:

you know actually alot of the paladin code questions relate back to 2 philosophical theorists with opposed views. its between kant and john Stuart mill.

kant says that your ethical behavior should be outside of the rest of the world circumstances don't matter. so never lie no matter what for example. so breaking the law to save a man would violate your ethics therefore would not be a morale act.

I disagree. If circumstances matter nothing at all, then you should save him, because saving an innocent is the right thing to do. Whether that's what society approves of or not. Right is right. Or at least that's an equally valid Kantian argument.

Kant's philosophy doesn't actually say one way or the other on this one. It just says that the consequences and practical problems don't matter, it's purely a question of what you'd do without said consequences. So if your personal code says 'always obey the law' then that's what you should do, and if your personal code says 'always defend the innocent' that's what you should do.

If your personal code contains both? Then you're in trouble, and need to decide which principle is more important.

ok i agree kant doesn't say one way or another what another but he does give you a way to decide if it is correct or not by asking yourself if everyone in the world subscribed to this action would it be a better world. so if everyone saved the innocent it would be a better world however if you look at it like if everyone helped people escape from execiton then its a bit rougher. the only thing i am trying to say here it more often then not these morale situations depend on the person making them. you can't judge someone else action morale or not except by your own standards but not necessarily theirs.

but really im going to have to agree with snorter

edit: ooo i missed jupitars post i like his best and put what i was thinking much better then i did.


I don't on wow why everyones on and on about witnesses etc, when the authorities can just detect lies on everyone, including the accused.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Can they? Are divinations acceptable evidence in the courts? Are there casters of sufficient level willing to do so?

Edit: For example.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Can they? Are divinations acceptable evidence in the courts? Are there casters of sufficient level willing to do so?

And Discern Lies is hardly foolproof. If it says everyone is telling the truth, with contradictory statements, then someone must've made their Will Save (which probably isn't over DC 18-19 or so) but it gives no clues as to who.


If I were a king in a Pathfinder campaign, why in God's Green Earth would I not have my courtrooms Hallowed with a Zone of Truth tied to them? Why would my investigators not use Detect Lies?

Honestly, if I were the Paladin in the top post I'd go right to the king and tell him his court system sucks, and anyone with half a brain aught to be able to avoid false convictions 99.99% of the time. The best way to follow my LG Paladin Code isn't to crack the guy out of prison, it's to fix the stupid judicial system that obviously doesn't use all of the super easy and totally cheap means it has available to get their convictions right.

Hell, if I dominated you and forced you admit to a crime you didn't commit, they should still be able to tell that you're lying in your confession. There's basically no way a competent city investigative force can come up with a false conviction in this game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
beej67 wrote:
If I were a king in a Pathfinder campaign, why in God's Green Earth would I not have my courtrooms Hallowed with a Zone of Truth tied to them? Why would my investigators not use Detect Lies?

Why, money, my dear boy. Those spellcasting services don't come cheap, you know.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Can they? Are divinations acceptable evidence in the courts? Are there casters of sufficient level willing to do so?

Not to necessarily disagree, just wanted to add some other thoughts here:

a) Courts are unnecessary where divination magic is acceptable.

b) TotB prohibited the use of divination because the Palitinate of Vieland is an "egalitarian culture" that feels forms of divination and coercion are not appropriate to a fair trial. But I have no idea how the latter is supposed to follow from the former (i.e. How is divination not egalitarian?). The logic is missing for me.

c)Regardless, other than in such cases where such cultural taboos exist, I can't imagine where any civilization would grow very large before the Church finds it's coffers burgeoning by providing such clerical support to the governments (except for contrived situations).

I can see a couple of cases, even though I consider them all unlikely to varying degrees, where it could play out that diviniation is not available:

  • Frontier lands or small country towns where the churches have small or no presence.
  • Civilizations where the legal status of the church has not yet been determined (least likely) or rejected due to a strong stance on preventing a church or churches from having undue influence over the government (most likely), except for possible use as enforcers (Hold Person/Monster, Detect Magic, etc...).
  • Lands where society, as a whole, frown on the usage of magic or especially privacy-invading magic (but this latter case can be defeated as it's likely accused should be allowed to volunteer for the lie detector tests)
  • Lands that anti-clerical in nature (opposed to religion) or simply not trusted to be unbiased and impartial.

I'm very interested in how DMs typically deal, in a believable fashion, with such magic in trying to prevent story ruination?

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2015

beej67 wrote:
If I were a king in a Pathfinder campaign, why in God's Green Earth would I not have my courtrooms Hallowed with a Zone of Truth tied to them?

A DC 15-17 Will Save, and you can lie all you like anyway. So, around a quarter of the time, even for low-average Will Save people. Plus there's, y'know, stuff like Glibness.

It's a good idea, but hardly a magic bullet.

beej67 wrote:
Why would my investigators not use Detect Lies?

Your investigators are all 5th level Inquisitors or 7th level casters, are they? Those are some elite investigators, there.

And, again, less than DC 20 to avoid, even without, say, a Ring of Mind Shielding or other magical truth evasion abilities.

beej67 wrote:
Honestly, if I were the Paladin in the top post I'd go right to the king and tell him his court system sucks, and anyone with half a brain aught to be able to avoid false convictions 99.99% of the time. The best way to follow my LG Paladin Code isn't to crack the guy out of prison, it's to fix the stupid judicial system that obviously doesn't use all of the super easy and totally cheap means it has available to get their convictions right.

That's an awfully high percentage to hold a spell that has, at best, a 95% success rate (and that's only on the very weakest willed) to.

beej67 wrote:
Hell, if I dominated you and forced you admit to a crime you didn't commit, they should still be able to tell that you're lying in your confession. There's basically no way a competent city investigative force can come up with a false conviction in this game.

A basic investigation, with nobody actively working against it? Maybe not. An actual frame-job? Possibly including things like sabotaging truth-detection or making even the accused believe they're guilty? That's all too doable, you just need a competent villain runnng the frame.


beej67 wrote:

If I were a king in a Pathfinder campaign, why in God's Green Earth would I not have my courtrooms Hallowed with a Zone of Truth tied to them? Why would my investigators not use Detect Lies?

Honestly, if I were the Paladin in the top post I'd go right to the king and tell him his court system sucks, and anyone with half a brain aught to be able to avoid false convictions 99.99% of the time. The best way to follow my LG Paladin Code isn't to crack the guy out of prison, it's to fix the stupid judicial system that obviously doesn't use all of the super easy and totally cheap means it has available to get their convictions right.

Hell, if I dominated you and forced you admit to a crime you didn't commit, they should still be able to tell that you're lying in your confession. There's basically no way a competent city investigative force can come up with a false conviction in this game.

I've been thinking about this "egalitarian" issue and trying to figure out how it might be unfair to use these sorts of spells. I suppose, it would be unfair if certain people were immune or could easily negate the spells with a will save. For example, elves have spell resistance and could more easily lie in a Zone of Truth than could a human. There is no Saving Throw for Detect Evil. But Zone of Truth and Discern Lies do allow a Will negation, and while Discern Lies bypasses Spell Resistance, Zone of Truth does not. So while the average human might not be able to resist four different clerics using the Zone of Truth and Discern Lies spells, someone might, and that would mean an unfair, discriminatory court (discriminating against the less powerful).


Given the very real existence of illusion magic, shape-shifting, memory-clouding, etc. there can be no such thing as "incontrovertible proof" of innocence or of guilt, as any example of either could be conceivably forged.

In fact, in such a world where any memory, sensation or observation could be manufactured, or otherwise false, one's own perceptions and intuitions are indeed all one can truly rely on. If you take away a Paladin's, or any character's freedom to act upon his own perceptions, then how is he to act at all in any situation?

To give a specific example, a Paladin is fairly certain that the creature who stands before him (if, in fact, there is a creature standing before him) is a demon. Furthermore, it does appear to the Paladin that that demon is about to sacrifice the maiden the Paladin has been sent to rescue (if, in fact, the Paladin has received any such quest and is not merely recalling a false memory.)

In this example, should the Paladin rely on his best judgment, slay the demon and rescue the maiden? It is possible that the creature he perceives is not a demon at all, but a goodly priest; it is conceivable that standing before him is none other than the maiden herself swooning into the arms of her would-be rescuer; or perhaps the true situation is one which the Paladin has not yet fathomed.

Truly, the Paladin could endeavor to find additional evidence, that might, to him, reveal the true nature of the events transpiring, but no matter how much evidence he obtains, he can never be certain whether his perceptions are veracious or fallacious.

So which is it, to use one's own best judgment, to act upon what could very well be false sensations and illusory perceptions, perhaps to potential ruin, or to simply never act, no matter the circumstance?

1 to 50 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.