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My Perspective on the Paladin's Code


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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The Paladins Code of Chivalry

Recently, there have been a number of threads on the Code of a Paladin. It has been rather suprising to me how many people appear to want to treat this Code as merely a mechanic of the class to justify the raw power of the Paladin. That isn't the point of the Paladin's Code of Conduct. It shound not be merely a means to off-set those parts of the class that grant power. Abiding for a set of rules only to gain power is not what a Paladin is about.

The Paladin's Code is--it should be, rather--a guide for how they live their life. It is with good reason that Paladin's are restricted to a Lawful Good alignment. This is because the Paladin--above and beyond all other classes--is a character of staunch moral and ethical beliefs, who sacrifices his own freedom of actions (of choices) to uphold a higher sacred trust.

Paladin's are not just fighters by another name; they are more than a knight in shining armor. They are--or rather, should be--pious and virtous, honorable and merciful, charitable and chivalrous. In all things. And this isn't something that a Paladin has to do to retain his powers; it is something that the Paladin does because that is who and what he is.

His Code does not restrict him; a Paladin's ethics and morals and his very life makes him live up to his beliefs.

The origin of the Paladin was based on the knights of Charlemagne, and on Sir Galahad from the Arthurian legends. Such beliefs are not suited for everyone--neither Arthur himself, nor Lancelot, nor any other of his Knights of the Round Table were Paladins. Because that is a hard path to follow. It is an act of faith and belief that the Paladin must live, everyday, so that he is true to himself.

Let's look at the Code of Conduct as presented in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

Quote:

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willing commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using posion, 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.

There is nothing that inherently wrong with this Code, except that it is vague. Many players, whether because they want the rules spelled out for them, or because of a desire to garner a Paladin's power without restriction on his actions, treat these words as nothing more than law that can be twisted, obeyed by the letter while forsaking the spirit of the words.

That should not happen when you play a Paladin. A Paladin lives by the the spirit of the law, not the letter. He, and his deity, know that absolute and unswerving allegiance to a Code is a path towards Evil. Laws must be adjusted for circumstances, to show compassion and mercy, to ensure that Good is upheld. Evil actions, and the breaking of the law must be punished, but a Paladin never (in my opinion) exacts a punishment greater than the crime.

For my own game, I modify the Code of Conduct above. I use a version of the old Medevial Code of Chivalry which represents what Paladin's in my game should life up to. Cavaliers, and many Fighters even, are taught the Code of Chivalry, although they can freely ignore it (as many Knights did in history). Paladin's though, should break the code only in the most dire of circumstances, and only for the right reasons.

I shall give oath to fear God and maintain His Church; to serve the liege lord in valor and in faith; to protect the weak and defenseless; to give succor to widows and orphans; to refrain from the wanton giving of offence; to live by honor and for glory; to despise pecuniary reward; to fight for the welfare of all; to obey those placed in authority; to guard the honor of fellow Knights; to eschew unfairness, meanness, and deceit; to keep faith; to at all times to speak the truth; to persevere to the end in any enterprise begun; to respect the honor of women; to never to refuse a challenge from an equal; to never to turn the back upon a foe.

Not so different from the Pathfinder Code, now is it? I prefer this one, however, though some might think it more archaic. Why? Because it fits the theme of the class.

1. to fear God and maintain His Church. Paladin's in my game must choose a Lawful Good deity. I run a Greyhawk campaign and although such Gods and Goddess as Pelor and Ehlona (both NG) represent GOOD, neither can have Paladin's in their service. There are no 'paladin's of an ideal'. This is because the very concept of Paladin means little without a God (or Goddess) and a Church. This places Paladin's in the strict heirarchy of their Church, their religion, their faith. They are not priests, nor clerics, but are Holy Warriors dedicated to the ideals of their chosen deity.

2. to serve the leige lord in valor and in faith. Paladin's hold a dual responsibility. Not just to the Church whose faith they hold dear, but to the secular authorities of the realm. They are Knights and their service is that of all Knights who have sworn oath. Having the right, in game, to add 'Sir' or 'Dame' before one's name is a very powerful tool in the game itself. As such, a Paladin should, of his own will, faithfully serve his temporal lord, much as his does his spiritual one.

3. to protect the weak and defenseless. This is the core of a Paladin. He adventures not for reward for himself, but to serve those in need, as much as he does his Church and his Leige. He defends those who cannot otherwise defend themselves, and he does his best to ensure that they do not suffer at the hands of others.

4. to give succor to widows and orphans. Charity. Paladin's are charitable and generous by nature. It goes hand in hand with helping people who need the aid and assistance of the Paladin. If he is able, he does not let others go hungry or without shelter. He is no miser who hoards his wealth, for the Paladin knows that what he uses to help others will be returned to him in full.

5. to refrain from the wanton giving of offence. Respect. Paladin's respect all life. They are not braggarts, nor do they fling witty cutting barbs designed to insult or injure another's sense of self-worth. They hold themselves to a higher standard--and they live by that standard.

6. to live by honor and for glory. Not to say that Paladin's don't have flaws, LOL. They seek glory, but the best Paladin's seek glory not for themselves, but for their Church and their Liege. They do their best to live their lives in a honorable fashion. A Paladin's word should be his bond; for he will not break it if it can be avoided.

7. to despise pecuniary reward. Ah, the wailings of munchkins doth arise in full. A Paladin doesn't need a monetary award to do what is right. He acts because he can, not because someone offers him money. Wealth, for it's own sake, is never something that a Paladin desires.

8. to fight for the welfare of all. This stanza refers to Justice. A Paladin should believe that all life is worthwhile. That all people should be treated with a basic modicum of dignity and respect, regardless of their station in life or what misfortune's may have fallen onto them. The Paladin will oppose those who do not care for the basic welfare of their own people, be he a Lord or a Knave; a Church elder or a King.

9. to obey those placed in authority. This is not the same thing as all authority, no matter how legitimate such authority might be. This refers to those placed in authority over the Paladin. His Church, his Leige, and those whom they appoint as his superior and commander. Sheriffs and baliffs and magistrates who serve them; generals and commanders who lead their troops.

10. to guard the honor of fellow knights. A Paladin is not one to let anyone speak ill of a brother in service of the Church or the Leige. Such men, by their oaths, have sacrificed themselves for the greater good; and for that respect is due, not malicious speech or gossip. If he suspects that a fellow Paladin or Cavalier or Cleric or Fighter has put himself in a position where their honor is compromised, a Paladin must speak up and confront them.

11. to eschew unfairness, meanness, and deceit. A Paladin does not take advantage of others. He does not use poison. He does not ambush his foes from hiding, or assault them in the darkness of an alley from behind. Others might, but not a Paladin.

12. to keep faith. Faith, in this instance, does not mean belief in a God or Goddess or in following the precepts of a Church. Rather, it means that the Paladin will remain true. He can expected to hold onto his given word, he can be trusted, he is stalwart and noble in bearing and his actions.

13. to at all times speak the truth. Truth is a very important issue for a Paladin. A Paladin does not lie, where it can be avoided. However, I would just remind you that truth is very much, at times, dependent upon one's point of view.

14. to persevere to the end in any enterprise begun. Paladin's do not give up. They do not stop. They do not quit when the going gets tough. Once a Paladin makes a commitment, he is expected to carry through and finish what he has started.

15. to respect the honor of women. Here is the reason that many today feel that Chivalry is misogynist in nature. It was a precept of Chivalry often violated in history, but a Paladin will always honor women, and respect them. For those women who choose the path of an adventurer, a knight, a priest, a wizard; a Paladin will support their choice. To do otherwise would be disrepectful.

16. to never to refuse a challenge from an equal. Honorable combat is part and parcel of being a Paladin. Although he might well try to avoid lethal combat or even try a Diplomatic means to resolve such a challenge, in the end if a matter can only be settled by the sword, he is a Holy Warrior.

17. to never to turn the back upon a foe. Evil creatures are, by their very nature, the antithesis of a Paladin. Trusting one to act against his own nature, to providing him an opportunity to strike at you most vulnerable point, is not something a Paladin should engage in. He must respect his foes, and he must acknowledge that given the opportunity, many dishonest, untrustworthy, and evil opponents will take advantage of any opportunity he gives them. Accordingly, he is warned against allowing them that opportunity.

This Code is merely what I use, for those wishing to play Paladin's in my game. Use what you will from this; borrow all that you want. Just remember this: no God or Goddess that has Paladin's as servants would go so far to strip their powers from a minor violation. They may well require an atonement and a confession of the action that was not worthy, but a Paladin's Fall should be based on more than telling a woman, "No, that dress doesn't make you look fat."

Pathfinder is a game, and it is a game which we play to have fun and enjoy ourselves in the company of men and women whom we like. Arguments and debates over every last comma are something for lawyers, not gamers. Have fun. That is what we are here for.

In closing, I hope that my words might make some sense and give you some idea of how I see the Paladin's Code of Conduct. Not as a straitjacket, but as a personification of what a character of Lawful Good alignment simply does.

Master Arminas


master arminas wrote:


There is nothing that inherently wrong with this Code, except that it is vague. Many players, whether because they want the rules spelled out for them, or because of a desire to garner a Paladin's power without restriction on his actions, treat these words as nothing more than law that can be twisted, obeyed by the letter while forsaking the spirit of the words.

It isn't the players who declare themselves fallen. The DM does that.

So letter matters. Unless you are a good debater asnd can defend how you aren't breaking the letter.


Ah, but there are players who show their DMs the Code and swear up and down they didn't break the letter of what was written--just the intent. I don't like such players, but they are out there.

And in this instance, I did not mean player's running PCs, but everyone playing the game: which includes the DM. In my view.

Master Arminas

Liberty's Edge

Imo the problem with how too vague and open ended the alignment system has always been. It's fine when you don't have classes tied to an alignemnt like fighters. Yet you need to have some sort of codified alignm,ent system when you have classes such as Paladins and Clerics. The only system I never had problems with in terms of alignment was Palladium. The alighments have a description and what you can't or can do in point form. A Diablolic (neutral evil) npc is free to lie and cheat everyone. A Princcipled (Lawful Good) character never breaks the law unless conditions are deseparate. Almost never had problems at the table with alignments and what you can or cannot. The only time we did was with an ex-player who liked to play way too loose and fast with alignment. Type of player who took good alignemnts and tried to do evil stuff while jusyifying it under a good alignment He hteded playing any Palladium rpg because he could nit get away with most of his BS.

Sure it may not stop debates about alignment yet a codified system would reduce the arguments by half imo. To the OP I actually like your code and may borrow it for a future D&D game. I rather be playing D&D then debating the finer points of alignment at a gaming table.


I prefer the vague code. It's more open to interpretation and allows for people to make characters with different flavors and religions/gods.

Torag's code is pretty awesome too.


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I have a serious problem with point 11. Eschewing unfairness and deceit are good ways to die and get your comrades killed in the process and are what most people mean when they say "lawful stupid."

If the code isn't going to become a set of rules to lawyer it needs to be both flexible completely removed from the game balance math. Being unable to be involved in ambushes or other ruses de guerre is comparable to giving up a favorable terrain advantage which is in turn equivalent to +/- 1 cr according to chapter 12 of the CRB. The CRB advises increasing APL by 1 at the sixth party member.

The Paladin is not worth the two PCs it would take to make up for his code in a five person party, and certainly not the three it would take in a four person party running APL and CR by the book. Nobody not also fanatically LG would adventure with a Paladin. It is precisely this prohibition on ruses de guerre that leads to other PCs trying to make paladins fall. A warrior with a good will save is less of a drag on the party than a functional paladin with a problematic code in all but the most black and white adventures.


memorax wrote:

Imo the problem has always been with how too vague and open ended the alignment system has always been. It's fine when you don;t have classes tied to an alignemnt like fighters. Yet you need to have some sort of codified alignm,ent system when you have classes such as Paladins and Clerics. The only system I never had problems with in terms of alignment was Palladium. The alighments have a description and what you can't or can do in point form. A Diablolic (neutral evil) npc is free to lie and cheat everyone. A Princcipled (Lawful Good) character never breaks the law unless conditions are deseparate. Almost never had problems at the table with alignments and what you can or cannot. The only time we did was with an ex-player who liked to play way too loose and fast with alignment. Type of player who took good alignemnts and tried to do evil stuff while jusyifying it under a good alignment He hteded playing any Palladium rpg because he could nit get away with most of his BS.

Sure it may not stop debates about alignment yet a codified system would reduce the arguments by hlaf imo. To the OP I actually like your code and may borrow it for a future D&D game.

I love the Palladium alignment system. Always have. I once ran a D&D game using Palladium alignments and it worked really well. Of course Aberrant (Evil) and Unprincipled (Selfish) were my favorite alignments.

Thanks.

Master Arminas


Generally, characters who make a long hairsplitting argument about how they aren't REALLY breaking the code are probably already Lawful Neutral, if not fallen to evil. It should be obvious much of the time what the Right Thing to do is. It may not be easy to do the right thing, of course...

That said, moral dilemma do exist and the PC should not be hammered for choosing one side or the other if both are (partly) in the right. The ideal solution would be to reconcile the difficulty, but that isn't always feasible or perceivable, particularly if the paladin dumped Int or Wis. Sometimes you do get paladins on opposite sides.

If a character engages in a long chain of reasoning to choose between two goods, I as. DM am much more likely to be nicetohim. He's doing what paladins sometimes need to do. If he's rationalizing anvil, on the other hand...


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Atarlost wrote:

I have a serious problem with point 11. Eschewing unfairness and deceit are good ways to die and get your comrades killed in the process and are what most people mean when they say "lawful stupid."

If the code isn't going to become a set of rules to lawyer it needs to be both flexible completely removed from the game balance math. Being unable to be involved in ambushes or other ruses de guerre is comparable to giving up a favorable terrain advantage which is in turn equivalent to +/- 1 cr according to chapter 12 of the CRB. The CRB advises increasing APL by 1 at the sixth party member.

The Paladin is not worth the two PCs it would take to make up for his code in a five person party, and certainly not the three it would take in a four person party running APL and CR by the book. Nobody not also fanatically LG would adventure with a Paladin. It is precisely this prohibition on ruses de guerre that leads to other PCs trying to make paladins fall. A warrior with a good will save is less of a drag on the party than a functional paladin with a problematic code in all but the most black and white adventures.

I am most certainly not advocating a lawful stupid style of play. That stanza, "to eschew unfairness, meanness, and deceit" means more of unfair advantages. Flanking, higher ground, using terrain to your advantage or not, inherently, unfair.

Have you see the most recent King Arthur movie? The one with Clive Owen and Keira Knightly? The climatic battle at the end where the Saxon leader squares off against one of Arthur's knights. The knight loses his sword, but the Saxon doesn't attack him--he kicks him back his sword.

Now, he wasn't a Paladin, by any means. But he didn't take advantage of his opponent being unarmed. That is what I mean by point 11. A Paladin won't attack an unarmed opponent, he won't hide and strike at someone from ambush. Yes, a lot of players (and their characters) don't like that.

But Paladins are proud and confident warriors who don't rely on tricks. They fight as fairly as possible.

Another example: The Princess Bride. Where the Dread Pirate Roberts and Montoya are fighting--both were using their swords in their left hands. Why? So as not to give their opponent an unfair advantage. Would you call that lawful stupid?

Yes, Paladins have limited options on what they can and cannot do. That does not, in and of itself, make them lawful stupid.

Be glad that this isn't an earlier edition. Many paladins in 1st couldn't even use bows or crossbows or other ranged weapons, if I am remembering right. That could be the cavalier.

Master Arminas


First I'd like to say that this is an excellent breakdown of a LG code, and a well-flavored oath drawn from a valid and engaging source. I do believe it would be possible for a LG paladin who does not strictly - under each and every circumstance - obey every tenet therein without falling from grace...but it is a good code to keep as his ideal.

The term 'paladin,' however, has no especial etymological requirement to be Lawful Good. Strictly speaking, it means little more than 'warrior' and was applied to the champions of Charlemagne, the best and the bravest of his court, as anyone might find on Wikipedia. They were representative of 'Christian martial valour against the Saracens,' which, if we're going to be honest, doesn't put them in the very highest moral light. They killed brown people, mostly because they were brown. They were, however, stalwart defenders of their society, their ideals, and foremost - their deity.

Translated into a fantasy setting, with a particularly active pantheon, I can see no actual reason at all why there shouldn't be all manner of paladins, each with their own code of conduct. A deity, at it's core, is after all a characterization of some ethical ideal. Religion is a form of philosophy, whether it is 'true' or 'real' or not, and no matter what else it may be.

I've come up with six viable (and, I think, equally difficult) 'noble' codes of conduct, for the six non-evil alignments. (This is without even broaching the broken alignment system.) When they are better defined, you can be sure there will be a thread for them here and elsewhere, but for now I may illustrate my point somewhat if I tell you the names I've decided upon for them. They are, reading from LG through CN : The Codes of Order, Mercy, Freedom, Justice, Balance, and Experience. (I may rename Experience as Adventure...CN was the hardest to identify, but I drew some inspiration from The Once and Future King, wherein the Knights are bound and required to act on any adventure which presents itself.) You see how there are many ideals which may fit with a "pious and virtous, honorable and merciful, charitable and chivalrous" knight errant?


Michael Radagast wrote:
First I'd like to say that this is an excellent breakdown of a LG code, and a well-flavored oath drawn from a valid and engaging source. I do believe it would be possible for a LG paladin who does not strictly - under each and every circumstance - obey every tenet therein without falling from grace...but it is a good code to keep as his ideal.

Thank you.

Quote:

The term 'paladin,' however, has no especial etymological requirement to be Lawful Good. Strictly speaking, it means little more than 'warrior' and was applied to the champions of Charlemagne, the best and the bravest of his court, as anyone might find on Wikipedia. They were representative of 'Christian martial valour against the Saracens,' which, if we're going to be honest, doesn't put them in the very highest moral light. They killed brown people, mostly because they were brown. They were, however, stalwart defenders of their society, their ideals, and foremost - their deity.

Translated into a fantasy setting, with a particularly active pantheon, I can see no actual reason at all why there shouldn't be all manner of paladins, each with their own code of conduct. A deity, at it's core, is after all a characterization of some ethical ideal. Religion is a form of philosophy, whether it is 'true' or 'real' or not, and no matter what else it may be.

I've come up with six viable (and, I think, equally difficult) 'noble' codes of conduct, for the six non-evil alignments. (This is without even broaching the broken alignment system.) When they are better defined, you can be sure there will be a thread for them here and elsewhere, but for now I may illustrate my point somewhat if I tell you the names I've decided upon for them. They are, reading from LG through CN : The Codes of Order, Mercy, Freedom, Justice, Balance, and Experience. (I may rename Experience as Adventure...CN was the hardest to identify, but I drew some inspiration from The Once and Future King, wherein the Knights are bound and required to act on any adventure...

Agreed, the original 'paladins' were Roland and the other knights of Charlemagne. I wouldn't precisely say that they 'killed brown people, mostly because they brown' though. It was far more a matter of Islam versus Christianity, and both powers wanted control over southern Europe. Still, your point remains that those first 'paladins' to whom the term applied were not necessarily what we in Pathfinder or D&D would refer to as Lawful Good.

The term has evolved since then, especially in game. Roland may have been one of Gygax's inspirations, but I think Sir Galahad was equally important as the 'pure knight' that recovered the Grail.

Now, I have used the four 'alignment paladins' from 3.5's Unearthed Arcana (LG=Paladin of Justice, CG=Paladin of Freedom, LE=Paladin of Tyranny, CE=Paladin of Slaughter). But this post was merely to talk about what most players today use, which is the LG-only Paladin in the Core Rulebook.

Master Arminas


Looks like a good code for the most part. One point of curiosity though; would #14 and/or #17 mean that withdrawing from battle would violate your version of the Paladin code?

I would personally say that while outright cowardice would be a problem, there's no dishonor in making a tactical withdrawal in the face of impossible odds and living to fight another day.


Chengar Qordath wrote:

Looks like a good code for the most part. One point of curiosity though; would #14 and/or #17 mean that withdrawing from battle would violate your version of the Paladin code?

I would personally say that while outright cowardice would be a problem, there's no dishonor in making a tactical withdrawal in the face of impossible odds and living to fight another day.

Some might see it that way, hence the entire 'death before dishonor' paradigm that plays so heavily into some folks view of Paladins (and Cavaliers). I certainly wouldn't penalize a player for violating the code if he withdrew in the face of superior numbers because his companions were badly hurt.

I would consider it a violation if after they healed up, the Paladin said, "Guys, this whole quest thing is a little too dangerous. Let's go back to town and let someone else deal with the problem."

:)

The whole point of #14 being basically that once a Paladin makes a promise, he keeps it. He doesn't necessarily have to do it in one fell swoop. But he tries his best to keep it and to finish the task. If there are too many Orcs to fight, perhaps he finds a way around the Orcs and into the Wizard's lair. The line from the Apollo 13 movie sums it up best: failure is not an option! He may suffer setbacks, have to withdraw to lick his wounds, but he never quits, he never gives up, he perseveres until he accomplishes his goal, or he fails.

At least, that is how I see it.

Master Arminas


Sounds like we're on the same page then. I'd agree that Paladin saying "We can't beat that demon, so let's withdraw until we find a way to kill it" is fine, but saying "You know what, that demon lord isn't my problem" would be a no-go.

The Exchange

I like your code. its ONE nice way to play a paladin. to say it is THE way to play a paladin is just something i cant agree with. paladins fall into many MANY categories.
The Holy avenger.
the Goody two-shoes
the warrior priest
the defender of the faith
the punisher
the destoryer of evil

could even play as a
warrior poet
Kings right hand man
battle field medic.

I strongly believe in allowing a paladin to follow a specific code or cause instead of a god.
FREEDOM is a cause and a paladin who searches out and defeats slavers is thematically sound.
the destruction of an evil force makes sense
protection of a certain area is a cause worthy of a paladin.
Paladins make great bounty hunters seeking out the lawbreakers of the land and bringing them to justice.

I do my best to defend paladins from all those that attack them. it is far to common i have heard in a game "your paladin wouldnt do that" and to that i say "stfu" each player who makes a paladin (for play and not just optimizing) should have an understanding of his character before he starts play. i also believe he should take time to explain it in detail to the dm before hand to avoid any punitive measures when the dm thinks his character is acting out of his nature.


Flanking and high ground aren't what your Paladin is queering for the whole party. Ambushes, false retreats, the fabrication and dissemination of false intelligence for the "benefit" of hostile spies, and even the use of field maneuvers to give false impressions to enemies are all deceitful. You mentioned ambushes specifically as prohibited. Sun Tzu is rolling in his grave.


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Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Nephril wrote:
I do my best to defend paladins from all those that attack them. it is far to common i have heard in a game "your paladin wouldnt do that" and to that i say "stfu" each player who makes a paladin (for play and not just optimizing) should have an understanding of his character before he starts play. i also believe he should take time to explain it in detail to the dm before hand to avoid any punitive measures when the dm thinks his character is acting out of his nature.

This feels backwards to me. The GM ought to explain what paladin orders are available in the campaign setting and what to expect if one joins an order. A GM should never say, "Your paladin wouldn't do that", but a GM should definitely say, "Your course of action is inconsistent with your code; do you want to rethink it?"

The creation of a paladin character, like the creation of any character, should be a cooperative effort. In any game, there are some character concepts that simply aren't compatible with the game. For example, in my current campaign, there's pretty much no place for a paladin bandit. A "noble" bandit might be possible, but it's incompatible with the kind of paladin orders in the setting, all of which are based on the paladin's code as listed in CRB. In someone else's campaign, maybe there are paladin bandits, lost princes and rightful heirs of the realm playing Robin Hood to the nobles supporting the usurping part. That's why the GM and player should discuss the matter.

From a player perspective, if the GM wasn't interested in discussing paladin flavor in a campaign, I simply wouldn't play one, as there are too many potential pitfalls.

That said, all of the archetypes you listed are excellent archetypes and compatible with both master arminas's code and the published PF paladin code, so find a game and go nuts.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Atarlost wrote:
Flanking and high ground aren't what your Paladin is queering for the whole party. Ambushes, false retreats, the fabrication and dissemination of false intelligence for the "benefit" of hostile spies, and even the use of field maneuvers to give false impressions to enemies are all deceitful. You mentioned ambushes specifically as prohibited. Sun Tzu is rolling in his grave.

Fortunately for Sun Tzu, he was not a paladin. : D

Shadow Lodge

master arminas wrote:
*code*

*brofist*


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
master arminas wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
I have a serious problem with point 11. Eschewing unfairness and deceit are good ways to die and get your comrades killed in the process and are what most people mean when they say "lawful stupid."
I am most certainly not advocating a lawful stupid style of play. That stanza, "to eschew unfairness, meanness, and deceit" means more of unfair advantages. Flanking, higher ground, using terrain to your advantage or not, inherently, unfair.

I think this rule is one of the toughest to interpret because a LOT depends on the circumstances. There is a saying that "All is fair in love and war" and it is very true. If the only way a paladin can defeat evil is by an ambush, he will damn well ambush a foe.

If, on the other hand, a paladin challenges a foe to single combat, he will fight as MA declares.

An example: My paladin of Shellyn is facing a fortress occupied by evil nasties who are not too bright. She - with the rest of her party - has to retake the fort. Her code calls on her to offer a surrender to the fort before attacking. Common sense declares this is lunacy, of course. Her solution? Ride up alone to the fort and call on the occupants to surrender. If they do, great. If they do as she suspects and send out a force to get her, she will ride away and lure them into an ambush set by the rest of the party.

A paladin should be honourable with foes that act honourably. If the foes do not fight fair, the paladin is under no obligation to do so if it endangers the lives of others.


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I like that you spell out in a positive way what a paladin IS supposed to do, instead of a long list of "not this" rules. Making clear to the players what the spirit of the code entails should help them play it with pride.

Pride, I mention; because while playing a paladin is (and should be) restrictive, you can also be proud of victories won with clean hands. Or reminisce about how you elected to rather Fall yourself than let greater evil triumph; a truly noble paladin might sacrifice his own purity if he had to, but not that of another. A powergamer would roll over in his grave..

So let's not lie: having a paladin in the group will force you to play differently. You can't use every underhanded tactic anymore. If you don't have to change tactics when a paladin enters the group, either the paladin is too loose, or you were saints to begin with.

As for deceit - personally I'd allow a little bit. I'd allow luring enemies into a trap that only the wicked would fall into. Like the paladin acting as bait for enemies looking for overwhelming, unfair odds - in that case I'd say the ambush is morally sound. A virtuous man wouldn't have fallen for it; "you can't cheat an honest man."


Good point, Ascalaphus. And I wouldn't have the problem with the scenario you describe. What I would have a problem with (presuming I was the DM and running a group that included a paladin) would be if the group decided to ambush a group of unsuspecting Orcs marching down a road from the woods on either side with bows. Or something similar.

Paladins in the party do alter things, and players need to understand he will not resort the level of a common bandit, even if it is the tactically most effective thing to do.

But risking his own life to lead a group of enemies from a huge army back to his companions? Sure, no problem. Not with me.

MA


Ng deities were allowed to have paladins though.....

and I see some issues there and yes they do lean more towards to LAwful stupid.

like others, # 11 does stick out.

alls fair in love and war, which means ambush, deversion tactics and the works a paaldin would use... really why would a paladin not be able to use them when his enemies will?

to say otherwise is showing pride and pride does come before the fall...

the one that says honor and respect women.... oh hex no, some women in the RW are not even worthy of that, they lie cheat and use tehir gender to get away with things that should get them arrested for. SCrew it
it would have been better to say they respect everyone that shows decency or soemthing.

The paladin's code is too vague, better it would ahve been to throw out the lawful good alignment to must be LG or NG ( and cg in rare circumstance) alignment or throw out the so called paladin's code all together. save us the head aches of the paladin's code , the was I right or was my d/gm right in this call threads.

Take a list of things you deam ethical between your player and the gm, and do your best not to break them after all Golarion is not a good versus evil world, its a shades of grey versus shades of grey. The FR and Greyhawk on the otherhand it would still be debateable.


Paladins have such a controversial code of conduct - and the penalties for failure are so steep - that I would never consider playing one without a phylactery of faithfulness. Which is a shame, because I understand that maybe a paladin would rather be wearing a headband of alluring charisma. But not having any bonuses to charisma are better than the risk of suddenly having all your levels converted levels in an NPC class.

I really like the theme and mechanics of a paladin, but so long as I can't guarantee that my DM and I will have similar interpretations of the code of conduct - and so long as you need fifth-level spells on tap to deal with those failures, unlike the reasonable handicap of a knight's code of conduct.


By all that is good and holy, I hate this thread. It makes me want to play a Paladin so badly, just so that I could try my best to hold to the ideals listed above. It sounds like one heck of a fun challenge and would make for some good roleplaying. My only real issue is the "no ambushing" thing, because I believe that is a valid strategy. Which is all the more reason I should try and eschew it and stick to the code. *chuckles*


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"All is fair and love in war" - Not for a paladin. Or for a lot of characters with integrity.

Yeah, playing a paladin won't be easy. You can't do everything you want, even if it would be a smart way. LG means that "the ends justify the means" doesn't fly.

You don't have to play stupid; if you know that the guy who just surrendered will stab you in the back, you can be there, waiting for him and smack him down again. You can lock him in manacles if you have good reason to expect treachery. You don't have to trust the untrustworthy, but you're not allowed to sink to their level. You're a good person, doesn't mean you have to be naive.

I personally don't have quite so much trouble with paladins ambushing. You can definitely ambush any dishonorable opponent. Key here is what exactly you do with them when you got them:

* Outlaw bandits are already legally sanctioned for killing, so while a paladin shouldn't enjoy killing them, he's carrying out a legal obligation for the common good and wouldn't get in trouble for that.

* An owlbear alone in the forest shouldn't be sought out for killing unless it's a threat (it attacks your camp, or threatens nearby farms), in which case it MUST be killed.

* Luring a master thief into a trap is fine. However, killing him isn't unless it's the only way to catch him (and is it REALLY the only way to catch him? Can't you knock him out?), he should be arrested and put on trial instead.

* A lich is so inherently evil, it's outlaw by default. Such an unholy abomination doesn't get a trial. Surrender can be accepted only if the lich shows any sign of repenting its evil. In that case the goal should be to assist the lich in Atonement followed by euthanasia. Your main job will be to get him to a ranking cleric and make sure you kill him if he backslides into evil.

As a paladin it's a good idea to have some good nonlethal weapons because your character should not want to kill people who resist arrest; that's a tragedy which could've been prevented if you just hit him a few times with a Blackjack for nonlethal damage, then slap manacles on him.

---

So, lots of restrictions. Aside from class abilities, does any good come from it? YES.

If you fight fair and with honor, you will earn trust and respect.
* People are more willing to surrender to you when they know they'll be treated well.
* Your surrender will be accepted because they know you won't stab them when their back is turned.
* People and authorities will take you at your word most of the time, and often provide any assistance you ask for.
* The people who trust you will be more willing to share information with you.
* Even BBEGs will be more willing to negotiate with someone trustworthy.
* Disputing parties are more likely to accept your arbitration, because paladins have to be fair.
* When you accuse someone with little proof (BBEG in the beginning of a story), you still get taken seriously and the accused will be watched closely at the very least.

And so on. Playing this way is quite different from playing an underhanded rogue, but it isn't without advantages of its own.


And another thing. Playing paladins is about working WITH the DM. The DM should never be playing "gotcha!" with you about the code; he shouldn't be trying to trick you into Falling by mistake or by misunderstanding.

A BBEG might try to trick the PC, but in that case stuff like Wisdom/Sense Motive checks are appropriate, and the plan would have to be extremely elaborate.

Normal situations, a player should be able to ask the DM "so how would this figure into my ethical code?" and get an honest and complete answer. Likewise, if the player is about to do something which the DM thinks is evil, he should warn the player that he's going to get into trouble for that.

Which is why I think the Phylactery of Faithfulness should be redundant. In almost all situations, the character should already know whether an action would be Bad, because the character's been trained in it. The player might not know everything the character would know, but then he could ask the DM. Knowledge: Religion should also cover some obscure topics. If the morality of your intended plan is so exotic that you just can't figure it out, then maybe you should just not do it; being a paladin is about the spirit of the rules, not the loopholes in the letter of the rules.

Which is not to say the DM can't occasionally toss moral dilemmas your way; choices between greater and lesser evils for example. But he shouldn't try to conceal the existence of the dilemma from the player or character; let the player sweat.


Here's the code for my homebrew setting

"A Paladin supports and defends Good and opposes Evil.

A Paladin is a Leader in righteous combat.

When it is necessary to fight, the Paladin will seek to guide and inspire his comrades, taking a forward position in the battle and facing the foe boldly. A Paladin does not hide from his foe or sneak about.

A Paladin is a Protector.

He will seek to prevent harm to the innocent and will place himself at risk in order to accomplish this if need be.

A Paladin is Just and works to promote and enforce Justice and the Law.

If a Paladin does not agree with a law, he must still respect it and should work to change it rather than disregarding it. The only exception to this is if the Paladin believes the law to be truly Evil. In this instance, the Paladin must follow the dictates of his conscience.

A Paladin is Honest.

He will not lie or otherwise seek to deceive a person. A Paladin does not cheat or seek to take unfair advantage in his dealings with others.

A Paladin is Loyal.

He does not betray his God, his liege-lord, his order, his family, or his friends.

A Paladin is Holy.

He seeks to do that which pleases his God in all manners of the Code, and knows that the purity of his soul has a profound impact on the abilities the Gods bless him with.

While it is not required that a Paladin worships Krios above other gods, he ignores the wishes of his patron God at his peril. Serving another God or Gods is possible for a Paladin provided that the path that he follows does not work against Good or Justice. It is not appropriate for a Paladin to work toward the ends of a dark aspect since the goals of such are not in keeping with what is Good and Just."

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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Wildonion wrote:
By all that is good and holy, I hate this thread. It makes me want to play a Paladin so badly, just so that I could try my best to hold to the ideals listed above. It sounds like one heck of a fun challenge and would make for some good roleplaying. My only real issue is the "no ambushing" thing, because I believe that is a valid strategy. Which is all the more reason I should try and eschew it and stick to the code. *chuckles*

A paladin stands at the end of a hallway looking at the group of Orcs guarding the pie.

"You have an opportunity to throw down your weapon and survive. You can flee this dungeon with your life if you promise me you'll tell others of the mercy you were shown at my hands.
Or you can draw the wrath of the Silver Lantern Adventuring Company. You will be killed and I will shed no tears for the unrepentant. The choice is yours."

Orcs look at each other, look at the lone paladin and attack.
The other PCs hidden behind the walls drop tanglefoot bags, spells and arrows into the orcs. The paladin shakes his head.
"I have told a lie, I shall shed a tear for you, because no creature deserves the afterlife you'll receive for your sins."

A perfectly legitimate paladin ambush. The paladin can't hide, but he can certainly be the distraction or the bait.


Indeed, paladins make pretty fine bait actually. Good saves and HP, a clean conscience and a LOT of evil creatures who forget that just because the paladin refuses to hide, that doesn't apply to his party.


Ascalaphus wrote:

And another thing. Playing paladins is about working WITH the DM. The DM should never be playing "gotcha!" with you about the code; he shouldn't be trying to trick you into Falling by mistake or by misunderstanding.

I really wish it was this easy, but speaking from personal experience: it's absolutely an unreasonable assumption that the DM's mental model of ethics, morality, or alignment will actually be the same as, or even compatible with, yours.

I once played a game with a DM who rigorously maintained that alignment, and by extension the morality of a character's actions, were purely a function of the effects of that character's actions, regardless of their intentions. (In other words, the "road to hell is paved with good intentions" alignment model. He's a bit of a nihilist.) I maintained that one's intentions and goals, not actual end effects, were the source of morality. I wasn't playing a character with alignment limitations in his game, so it wasn't an actual issue, but obviously there would have been some real issues if I was trying to play a paladin.


What I consider a reasonable Paladin code:

Rule 1: A Paladin must protect the innocent to the best of his or her ability no matter the cost.

Rule 2: There is no rule 2.

What constitutes an innocent is something you've got to work out with your god in character and your GM out of character.


Burrito Al Pastor wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

And another thing. Playing paladins is about working WITH the DM. The DM should never be playing "gotcha!" with you about the code; he shouldn't be trying to trick you into Falling by mistake or by misunderstanding.

I really wish it was this easy, but speaking from personal experience: it's absolutely an unreasonable assumption that the DM's mental model of ethics, morality, or alignment will actually be the same as, or even compatible with, yours.

I once played a game with a DM who rigorously maintained that alignment, and by extension the morality of a character's actions, were purely a function of the effects of that character's actions, regardless of their intentions. (In other words, the "road to hell is paved with good intentions" alignment model. He's a bit of a nihilist.) I maintained that one's intentions and goals, not actual end effects, were the source of morality. I wasn't playing a character with alignment limitations in his game, so it wasn't an actual issue, but obviously there would have been some real issues if I was trying to play a paladin.

Hmm. That could get out of hand if you did the right thing but it went wrong for reasons you didn't (couldn't have) anticipate.

It illustrates my belief though: that to play a paladin, you must sit down with the DM and hammer out the alignment rules before the game begins, just so there aren't nasty surprises down the road.

If the DM insists on the alignment model you described above, then paladins aren't really playable, since you can't know how things will turn out, and then you don't really have control over whether you'll Fall or not. So because you talked about alignment before playing, you avoid disappointment or conflict later on.

It's sad if the DM makes it impossible to play a paladin this way though. It's not a very workable alignment model. Imagine all the villains who accidentally became Good...


Where is everyone getting the idea that a paladin is not allowed to hide? I could see him refusing to hide from an "honorable" opponent that he would rather challenge to single combat, but why would he refuse to hide in a position of ambush with his comrades as an enormous horde of savage orcs was approaching?

If the orcs are more than the party can handle, then he is protecting innocent life. If the party can handle the orcs, then he is fighting his foes with all of the "honor" that they deserve. He is not even attacking without warning unless he comes up first in the initiative order.


Atarlost wrote:

What I consider a reasonable Paladin code:

Rule 1: A Paladin must protect the innocent to the best of his or her ability no matter the cost.

Rule 2: There is no rule 2.

What constitutes an innocent is something you've got to work out with your god in character and your GM out of character.

Way too short. You are almost shrinking Paladin into Liberator. A Paladin is supposed to exemplify three things: goodness, law, and honor. You share an oversimplification of goodness and nothing at all about law or honor.

If I were the GM, I would ask the Player of the Paladin to fill in three question marks:

Uphold Goodness: Help your deity provide peace and freedom, ?#1

Uphold Law: Help your deity distribute justice and mercy, ?#2

Uphold Honor: Help your deity uphold tradition and respect, ?#3

For example, the player whose Paladin has an unusually planar focus might decide:

Uphold Goodness: Help your deity provide peace and freedom, Seek out and hunt down Evil Outsiders that are harming society

Uphold Law: Help your deity distribute justice and mercy, Work to establish trial courts overseen by Lawful Outsiders

Uphold Honor: Help your deity uphold tradition and respect, Never attack first unless I have personally used Detect Evil on the opponent to confirm it is Evil

Furthermore, if the Player could develop a second or third set of three then I would add a game-mechanics benefit. Perhaps using Smite Evil an extra one or two times per day.

This would ensure some pre-campaign GM-Player discussion about these topics. For example, do we want the setting to include the potential points of honor "Only take advantage of Flanking on Evil opponents?" or "Do not use Lay on Hands during one-on-one duels" or "Deadly poisons are taboo but soporifics can be used by honorable adventurers"? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps others. Let Player input lead to a richer setting.


davidvs wrote:
Atarlost wrote:

What I consider a reasonable Paladin code:

Rule 1: A Paladin must protect the innocent to the best of his or her ability no matter the cost.

Rule 2: There is no rule 2.

What constitutes an innocent is something you've got to work out with your god in character and your GM out of character.

Way too short. You are almost shrinking Paladin into Liberator. A Paladin is supposed to exemplify three things: goodness, law, and honor. You share an oversimplification of goodness and nothing at all about law or honor.

You may have a point about law, though I think having it as an alignment requirement is enough, but human honor is incompatible with good. It's basically another word for pride. When you play fair for the sake of pride you are allowing or at least risking allowing evil to triumph over you and go unchecked. It is wholly contrary to goodness to allow yourself to be martyred to your own pride.

The forces of Good and Evil are usually deliberately balanced so that actions of mortals matter. It makes for more exciting stories. Results matter. Intent matters to the merciful. The means don't really matter. Saving innocents will justify pretty much any means that don't sacrifice innocents. Playing by the rules of honor won't justify failing the innocents that depend on your success.


davidvs wrote:
A Paladin is supposed to exemplify three things: goodness, law, and honor.

However, that is pure opinion. That is not to say that there is anything wrong about asking your player to play that way, but if you use it, it is a house rule.

The game merely says...

Spoiler:
Paladins:
  • "dedicate their swords and lives to the battle against evil"
  • "paladins seek not just to spread divine justice but to embody the teachings of the virtuous deities they serve"
  • "adhere to ironclad laws of morality and discipline"
  • "weather endless challenges of faith and dark temptations, risking their lives to do right and fighting to bring about a brighter future"

A paladin code requires that he/she:

  • "respect legitimate authority"
  • "act with honor"
  • "help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends)"
  • "punish those who harm or threaten innocents"

If you take the gods own codes from "Faiths of Purity" into account, there are several requirements that very much violate your statement about what a paladin exemplifies.


and that legitimate authority that the paladin is supopsoed to respect, could be read as the tenants of his or her faith.

act with honor could be interpeted as being respectful in all your delaings and keep your word as best you can. Never ask more that what is just in rewards and be honest in all that is asked of you.

but in no form has the paladin's abilitiies ever had something that dealt with LAw, only good.

If a paladin is expect to act in a certain way.... well lets jsut say that even that is up to interpetation....

this whole post was stated but was in its entirty not in reply to any one poster.

Dark Archive

I have to say I do like the code, but I would also strike the part about 'respecting the honor of women'. Not because of any real world issue with women, but singling out women is awfully patronizing. You can rationalize it to mean respecting the choices and decisions of women (i.e. Don't be sexist or misogynist), but since a LG character should apply that belief to all races and genders, it is redundant at best. At worst it implies that women function only as an agency of men. That worked for medieval Britain, but in the 21st Century it's just offensive.


Atarlost wrote:
...human honor is incompatible with good. It's basically another word for pride.

I call baloney.

"A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor." -Proverbs 29:23

Let's dissect both words, as used in English and related languages. (I beg pardon for using only the male pronoun in what follows.)

Pride is the opposite of humility. Humility is defined in wishy-washy ways in secular vernacular, but in the great religious writings of history it maintains its original definition of keeping your focus on your lord. To "humble" someone once literally meant to "bend their knee". A person was "humble" (or "humbled") if his knee was bent, either voluntarily before his lord or involuntarily by his conqueror. Just as someone kneeling before his lord is not thinking about himself but is thinking about his lord, someone who is "humble" is focused on others not himself. As the opposite, pride is focusing on yourself instead of others, especially instead of your lord.

Back to Pathfinder. A Paladin "dedicates his...life to the battle against evil" and "...embodies the teachings of the virtuous deitiy he serves". Usually he also serves a "church" of that deity. So his life is dedicated to that deity and church. His focus is on them. He is humble. His time, energy, and wealth are put 100% in their service. He forsakes personal goals and dreams. The people he meet should see him foremost as an agent of the deity and church; hopefully he will be a charming fellow with a nice personality, but his personality is secondary to his identity as a loyal servant.

(Tangentially, note that most secular definitions of humility are weaker than the religious definition. If we say "humility is not thinking too much of yourself" or perhaps "humility is keeping mindful of your weaknesses instead of focusing too much on your strengths" we still allow too much. Humility as originally defined meant not thinking about yourself at all. Most major religions recognized that everyone was humble at times but too rarely--the healthy spiritual challenge was to become constantly humble by becoming constantly mindful of what that faith considers good/divine/pure.)

Honor is reliability from a blend of personal integrity and social traditions. Cultures assign to their members traditional responsibilities. A person who has established a history of living according to his own morals (integrity, opposite to hypocrisy) and his culture's responsibilities is reliable. Other people can appropriately depend upon him for aid, trust him to behave fairly and honestly, assume he will care diligently for his family and business, and so forth. He is more or less predictable. If he acts oddly it is safe to assume he has a valid reason that would seem sensible once made public.

Back to Pathfinder. A Paladin "acts with honor". The people he meets can assume he is dependable, fair, honest, dutiful, diligent, etc. The key is that he fits into the local expectations of honor to be reliable to those around him. His goal is to be a rock in times of danger to those around him, not to obey the global conglomerate of all cultures' honorable behaviors or treat all combats as if they were honorable duels.

EDIT: I might as well bring my bit full circle and go back to that proverb. A Pathfinder paraphrase might be: those who feel no need to "look out for number one" because they trust their deity will reliably guide and care for them will themselves become trustworthy and reliable; those who focus on themselves and try to earn their own security will always eventually disappoint their family and neighbors.


Jarl wrote:
davidvs wrote:
A Paladin is supposed to exemplify three things: goodness, law, and honor.
However, that is pure opinion. That is not to say that there is anything wrong about asking your player to play that way, but if you use it, it is a house rule.

Huh?

As you quoted, a Paladin "dedicates his...life to the battle against evil" and "...embodies the teachings of the virtuous deitiy he serves". That sounds to me like exemplifying good.

A Paladin "spreads divine justice", "adheres to ironclad laws of morality and discipline", and "respects legitimate authority". That sounds to me like exemplifying law.

A Paladin "acts with honor". That does not say exemplify, but close enough.

I'm not noticing where we disagree. Yes, I paraphrased the rulebook. But I do not see where being pithy altered the meaning significantly.


davidvs wrote:
Honor is reliability from a blend of personal integrity and social traditions. Cultures assign to their members traditional responsibilities.

And there's the rub. Those social traditions are not good. Especially not in the social contexts of feudal and renaissance Europe or Japan. Social traditions and traditional responsibilities exist to maintain the class structure. Honor codes have almost never applied to the actions of nobles relative to peasants or merchants. In as much as they lack agency the peasants are the innocent ones. Honor as understood in the context of the societies the game is designed to resemble is the antithesis of dependable, fair, honest, dutiful, diligent, etc. There is no virtue to be found in the "honor" of Cheliax or Absalom or Katapesh.

It is infinitely better to save an innocent and be disgraced than to let an innocent die and maintain your honor. Honor doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in comparison. What merit it has, if any, is subsumed under the requirement to maintain a lawful alignment, which is a separate class feature from the code.


I think part of the point of a Paladin is to live a higher standard of Honor than say, fighters or nobles. By your example, they will realize they're not nearly as righteous as they like to think, and they'll mend their ways.

It may be naive to think that merely giving a good example will convert others to becoming more good as well. But turn the question around: if nobody's giving the good example, how will people ever learn?

Honor means sacrificing opportunities to take the easy, advantageous road, not getting to use trickery and low cunning, not abandoning obligations when it would be easier to do so.

But honor creates trust, and trust is necessary for cooperation. Without trust and cooperation Good doesn't stand a chance. Integrity is a kind of strength of its own.


EntrerisShadow wrote:
I have to say I do like the code, but I would also strike the part about 'respecting the honor of women'. Not because of any real world issue with women, but singling out women is awfully patronizing. You can rationalize it to mean respecting the choices and decisions of women (i.e. Don't be sexist or misogynist), but since a LG character should apply that belief to all races and genders, it is redundant at best. At worst it implies that women function only as an agency of men. That worked for medieval Britain, but in the 21st Century it's just offensive.

This strikes me as something that is going to depend on the level of verisimilitude in the particular campaign. Something that strives for a more historically accurate feel--yes, I know this is a fantasy game and not necessarily a historical reenactment--is going to have a clause like that in the oath of a knight. It was simply the structure of European [human] society at that time. Something more fantastic, or a non-human Paladin, might not have that clause, but that is going to depend on the GM and his world.

That said, I do agree that there is a patronizing fell to that part of the oath from a modern standpoint.


Atarlost wrote:
davidvs wrote:
Honor is reliability from a blend of personal integrity and social traditions. Cultures assign to their members traditional responsibilities.
And there's the rub. Those social traditions are not good. Especially not in the social contexts of feudal and renaissance Europe or Japan. Social traditions and traditional responsibilities exist to maintain the class structure.

Why are you fixating on certain historical examples honor that do not relate to Pathfinder?

Have any of us ever played a fantasy RPG that involved:
- Women are property owned by their fathers or husbands?
- Peasant lives are worthless; nobles can kill them whenever they wish
- Only royalty had property rights; anything useful to warfare was claimed by local royalty
- Only royalty had intellectual rights; all inventions were state secrets
- Upward mobility of social ranks is nearly impossible

I have been enjoying reading and playing fantasy RPG modules for years. What I have always seen are:
- Women are equal to men physically, heroically, and legally
- Only in the token "evil" nations are peasant lives considered worthless
- Everyone has property rights; anyone can become a merchant, and when the PC rescues a farmer from a monster a common reward is a minor magic item that has been a family heirloom for a few generations
- Inventors are a common archetype and enjoy modern intellectual rights
- Peasants become heroes and kings, and have grandparents who were adventurers (the source of those magic heirlooms)

Yes, history contains some despicable examples of rules of honor. But your claim that social traditions exist only to maintain class hierarchy is absurd. Recall what I wrote above:

davidvs wrote:
...Other people can appropriately depend upon him for aid, trust him to behave fairly and honestly, assume he will care diligently for his family and business, and so forth. He is more or less predictable. If he acts oddly it is safe to assume he has a valid reason that would seem sensible once made public.

The Modern America in which we both live has honor. People of any income or gender who are honest, fair in business, support themselves and their dependents, are dependable help for friends in need, etc. are "honorable" even without peasants to oppress. Different American subcultures add other social responsibilities: perhaps giving to charity, respecting diversity, etc.

I think part of your issue is that you are thinking of dreadful examples of social legal rights and confusing these with social responsibilities. For example, the honor code of Bushido required a Samurai to be responsible: loyal, courageous, frugal, honest, etc. It was not Bushido but the "Lawful Evil" Edo-period laws that gave Samurai the right to kill peasants without cause.

EDIT: By the way. Master Arminas, I love your code. As mentioned earlier, the positive "thou shalt..." attitude is a delightful accomplishment. Just because I shared what I would do as a GM and got sidetracked into replies about that does not mean I do not admire what you composed. I surely would enjoy trying a Paladin PC in your campaigns!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, love that paladins code. I'm gonna have to steal that for my game.


Feel free.

MA


Here are a few thoughts on the nature of a Paladin's Code, his Fall, and the difference between minor violations and major ones. Yes, the Code of a Paladin is hard. It is a rough path to travel, and the player with a Paladin must be careful of what he says and does, if he wishes not to put his paladinhood in jeopardy. Which is why in my game, I have venial violations of the Code and mortal violations.

This mirrors to the real-world definitions of sin by the Roman Catholic Church: venial meaning that the violation is a lesser infraction that does not automatically result in a Paladin being stripped of his power. It still requires that the Paladin recognize his violation, confess it to a cleric or priest of his clergy, and atone (either via the spell or through performing a deed of contrition [more on that to follow]). Whereas a mortal violation is an infraction so dramatically and grossly opposed to what the Paladin claims as his beliefs that it is all but unforgiveable. Now, to be a mortal violation, the Paladin must willingly and knowingly commit the act, having made a deliberate decision to do so, fully knowing that the act is against his stated beliefs, and choosing to act in such a manner regardless.

A mortal infraction consists of (but is not limited to) changing one's alignment to any other than Lawful Good, the deliberate and willing commission of an evil act (torture, murder, rape, etc.), or becoming an apostate to (or the recanting of) one's faith in his own Deity. Such actions always result in the Paladin immediately losing his powers. An atonement (the spell) is required to even stand a chance at returning to grace. But, in addition to the spell, the Church or the Deity himself or herself, might well require a Quest that shows the contrition of the Paladin. Mortal infractions normally result in a permanent Fall.

All other infractions are, generally, considered as venial. Multiple venial infractions could well result in a Paladin being stripped of his abilities, but these are not unforgiveable sins. This includes such things as telling a lie for the right cause, or offering a disrespectful comment towards another, or failing to give honor and respect to women.

I know that many prefer the ‘any violation is a Fall’ ideal. But this is how I do things for my own game. Being a Paladin is hard enough without rigging the game against him and putting him in circumstances where an innocent slip of the tongue might well strip him of all his divine powers.

At least in my own opinion.

Deeds of contrition, are my term for acts which allow a Paladin to atone for his past deeds without the use of a spell. Such deeds are normally assigned by the church, typically when a local temple doesn't have a cleric of high enough level to cast an atonement. They always deal with Evil, they usually consist of multiple tasks, and they are always a challenge to the Paladin to complete. (In 3.5/Pathfinder game terms, any deed of contrition will consist of at least three encounters with a CR of +1, +2, and +3 to the Paladin and his adventuring party's average party level).

Undertaking a deed of contrition automatically wipes the Paladin's slate clean of any venial infractions committed by the Paladin. In order to be a deed of contrition, the Paladin must speak with a cleric of his faith and then be assigned the task--he cannot declare after the fact that an adventure he just finished is his deed.

Once a Paladin starts a deed of contrition he is expected to complete it, as a show of faith and devotion. If the Paladin willingly turns away from the deed for longer than a single day, he is stricken of his powers as if he committed a mortal infraction until he resumes his quest for the deed or renounces his faith completely.

A Paladin may receive aid and assistance from others (i.e., his party) during a deed of contrition, and XP, gold, and treasure are handed out normally. However, the Paladin must take part in all of the encounters and he must deal damage to the Evil beings he confronts.

If the Evil assigned to the Paladin as part of his deed of contrition is vanquished, then the Paladin is forgiven for his past venial infractions in full. A Paladin may only undertake a deed of contrition once each level of experience (if your Paladin is slipping more often than that, perhaps you should ask yourself if you really wants to play a Paladin, eh?).

Master Arminas


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I'm not sure if I would links deeds of contrition to combat; working in a soup kitchen to experience humility would fit some transgressions much better I think. But in general I think your mortal/venial division is a good idea.

Regarding the treatment of women: this is of course heavily tied into the idea of women as The Weaker Sex, which doesn't necessarily apply in fantasy.

I'd shift that tenet to whatever social group is regarded as vulnerable; orphans perhaps, or halflings. If halflings are endangered because tall humans tend to oppress them, then specifically calling out that they need to be respected would fit a paladin.

This is obviously a campaign-specific kind of thing. I'm rather surprised by the "protecting women is patronizing" attitude though. I think it's because the intent of specifically honoring women wasn't understood: because most other people in a paladin's time didn't respect them so much.

A great deal of the "Code of Chivalry" wasn't so much practiced in medieval Europe; it was more an ideal. It was sung about by minstrels, who had to please both male and female patrons. They sung about knights who were a lot nicer people than the actual knightly public they entertained. Paladins however are supposed to act like the ideal knight, not a gritty historical one.


i prefer the pathfinder version, but i like the OP's code for flavor except for #9.

too many people in fantasy/ real life who are in positions of power abuse it, its a common story hook.

the paladin as a paragon of moral/ethic of good and law, and nobody was above it. i think more like the templars then the crusaders.

and regarding the "enthic different people", yes that is exactly what knights did. there is no pc answer. many native and enthic christians were butchered for the crusading army to take over a village city or town for resources to continue the fight.

which is why fantasy paladins are better =]

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