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Why do people find it so hard to make interesting Paladins?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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I think people LIKE playing paladins as Lawful Stupid.

I honestly played one to epic level in Age of Worms. With the Saint template from Book of Exalted Deeds. This was before they'd come out with the Paladin codes for Iomedae, so I actually went through all the trouble to build a paladin code (based on that 2E Paladin Book it IS good) and develop her with my GM. She was a ball to play. AND she wasn't stupid, though she did get bluffed once or twice by the Neutrally Aligned Necromancer/Cleric in the party. "Oh you'll take care of destroying that +1 Unholy sword? That's awesome!" (I rolled a 1 on my sense motive check) Best roleplaying ever was between my paladin and the necromancer, who were actually good friends in-game.


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It should NOT be the DMs purpose, on hearing that you are interested ion playing a paladin, to plot how they can manuever you into breaking your vows.
But sadly this is the mindset of plenty of DMs out there.

As long as you indicate to your DM what your paladin believes and what you expect out of him/her they shouldn't be bucking to screw you any more than any other class.

My current paladin offers mercy once. The option to atone and if it is not taken (and he uses sense motive to check on false repentance) then he will act in accordance with the local laws. Murders and bandits are subject to hanging. Lesser crimes are dealt with by imprisonment. He has 3-4 followers whose only job is to ferry prisoners to jails. Look into Leadership feat or RP it with your DM.


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BltzKrg242 wrote:

It should NOT be the DMs purpose, on hearing that you are interested ion playing a paladin, to plot how they can manuever you into breaking your vows.

But sadly this is the mindset of plenty of DMs out there.

Yes it is. I have seen several DMs do the non-evil lawful authorities committing miscarriages of justice and then penalizing the paladin either way they respond. Your decisions just determines whether you get to atone for defying/punishing the lawful authority "who was just trying to control his lands" or atone for allowing/not punishing a miscarriage of justice.

It's apparently standard lead in to how to mess with paladins in DMing 101.

Shadow Lodge

Furious Kender wrote:
It's apparently standard lead in to how to mess with paladins in DMing 101.

I think I slept through that class....


If, while you are discussing this with your DM BEFORE choosing to be a Paladin, this is his response then pick something else. Cavalier maybe?

Having to be at sub-optimal abilities due to DM-Mind-#u(#ing then this is just going to ruin your playing time.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Because they don't make goblin paladins.

"Ears" from the Goblins comic-strip.

Richard Leonhart wrote:
I see them played as lawful stupid only because they got clear restrictions. Intelligent people don't have rules that absolute. If the only way to kill your ennemy is through poison, you do it.

The restrictions are as unintelligent as the DM chooses to enforce them. If your DM allows you enough leeway to actually have the code as something achievable, you can have a paladin with plenty of intelligence and personality.

BltzKrg242 wrote:

It should NOT be the DMs purpose, on hearing that you are interested ion playing a paladin, to plot how they can manuever you into breaking your vows.

But sadly this is the mindset of plenty of DMs out there.

This is one problem. Another is players who look at the paladin's code and see an opportunity to be an obnoxious ass-hat and claim it's not their fault, it's the code. I think the one problem breeds the other, frankly.

I am in several games with paladins (running one myself), and there are no problems and plenty of personality in the paladins.

Silver Crusade

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Roac wrote:


I never suggested that Chubbs couldn't or shouldn't be a part of this community. I would welcome any discussion from anyone as long as it's constructive and adds to the thread. His response didn't add to the thread but bashed the OP's character.

I disagree. I think Chubbs post added quite a bit more to the conversation than have your posts so far. The OP posted a character concept, is it now our responsibility to never be critical of anyone else? I hope not. I am not advocating for rudeness and do not believe chubbs was rude in his post. you however were very rude. I wonder by what authority you feel like you can come on and tell other people what they should or should not post.

Roac wrote:
Why for instance is a Paladin that resembles Inigo Montoya (and it's Inigo not Indigo btw) a cliche while a Paladin that's based on a Templar not? I mention this because you defend Chubbs point and even congratulate him on a point well made while serving up what could be considered a cliche.

Did I spell Inigo wrong?

The paladin I play is a holy knight. I based him closely on Arn the templar more or less. I find it to be very interesting. I do not think that anyone else has a difficult time making interesting paladins or any other class for that matter. I believe what a character does in game determines how interesting he or she is not a backstory.

Roac wrote:
Now I don't think that either concepts are particularly cliched and for all I know your Templar based Paladin has a rich backstory and is a wonderful addition to the table you play at. But the same goes for the OP's Paladin (which btw the only connection I can see to Inigo Montoya is that the OP rp's him saying his name in a similar manner).

I wouldnt turn the guy away from a game. I do question his view on what constitutes a interesting character.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Dabbler wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Because they don't make goblin paladins.
"Ears" from the Goblins comic-strip.

D00D! I LOVE Goblins! Ears is one of my favorites actually. That and

Quote:
"Redefining 1/3rd Challenge rating."


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, it's true, Goblins are awesome. My favourite is actually Thaco, the aged Goblin monk, and the line: "You're just some human I beat early in my adventuring career."


Alitan wrote:


Solution?

Re-write the Code; one for Paladins w/o deities, one for each deity that supports Paladins, giving SPECIFIC POINTS of what "good," and "law" mean, and LISTING REQUIREMENTS OF BEHAVIOUR for Paladins to follow.

Check out Faiths of Purity. It doesn't solve your deity-less request, but it covers the rest.


Easy, make the paladin an actual character and feel like a real person. Sure they are a champion of good, but don't make them homicidal, a dick, shallow or overly-righteous and naive.

Then you will have a decent paladin character.


Chubbs McGee wrote:
Ken Andrews wrote:
I am Tolomeo Amadeus Eulogio el Sinverguenza, known by some as Hijo del Diablo.
You do not need Indigo Montoya to make your character interesting. You could have Ian of Iomedae and still have a compelling character without pages of cliches.

Okay, please be so kind as to draw up a quick description, *with name* of a hidalgo swordsman. I think you'll have to work hard to make him not sound similar to Inigo Montoya.

Similarities to Inigo Montoya:
Spanish.
Swordsman.
Always polite.
Umm, male.

Differences from Inigo Montoya:
Hidalgo.
Two-weapon combat, rapier and sap.
Decent guitar player.
Excellent dancer. (Yes, 6 ranks in Perform (Dance).)
Believes strongly in the benefits of hidden armour.


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If you want to make an interesting and different paladin, try this:

Focus on humility.

I've played alongside and GMed for a lot of paladins and not once have I seen one have the slightest care for humility. A majority were more along the lines of pursuing 'righteous glory', dedicated more to being seen to be heroic than to actually doing right. It probably comes down to player desire to be an awesome action hero.

Try testing your paladins, not in the daft old 'both choices lead to failure' way, but like this: Give the paladin a choice between an obvious self-glorifying triumph (not evil, maybe neutral at worst) and a truly good victory that will make him or her appear weak, undignified or become disliked by the populace.


Excellent ideas.


I like to play characters with imperfections, ambiguities and trying moral dilemmas - without going overboard with it.

I try to be subtle at it.

The typical paladin does not suffer from actual imperfections, ambiguities or moral dilemmas.

By actual I mean that he can be unsure of himself, but if he gives in to his doubts, then he loses his powers and ceases to be a paladin.

And while I find the fallen paladin to be an interesting character concept, he is too much of an angst ridden character for me to enjoy playing one.

As a DM though, I would have no problem with someone at my table choosing a paladin - it would give me the occasion to see a take on a kind of personage I find difficult to play and enjoy myself.

If I had a player playing one paladin, I would definitively not bother him with enforcing adherence to his code, or punishing him for the lack of it.

In short, paladins are very fine as NPCs or as other players' characters, but I wouldn't play one.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ken Andrews wrote:

Differences from Inigo Montoya:

Hidalgo.
Two-weapon combat, rapier and sap.
Decent guitar player.
Excellent dancer. (Yes, 6 ranks in Perform (Dance).)
Believes strongly in the benefits of hidden armour.

I will point out that we don't know any of these are differences except the two-weapon combat. We do not know if Inigo Montoya could dance, play guitar or wore hidden armour because the first two never came up inthe movie and the last we wouldn't know about cos it's hidden.

:D

Silver Crusade

Thank you for the kind words Cennedi.

@Roac:

The OP came in with a broad stroke about the way people play paladins. He suggests that having an intricate name that somehow means something in another language is the way to begin with a compelling character.

I disagree.

People should not have to feel that the way to play a paladin is to agonise over a name and some backstory. I have seen very interesting paladins played in game with little to know backstory.

Threads like these can make new players wary of playing paladins since the class comes off as something impossible to roleplay as everyone is watching your every move at the gaming table. It adds to much fuss to a class that is no more difficult to play than say a cavalier or a cleric.

Both have codes they are meant to abide by in game. It simply is not as over analysed or stated as the paladin.

Care to add something constructive yourself now?

Silver Crusade

Ken Andrews wrote:
Okay, please be so kind as to draw up a quick description, *with name* of a hidalgo swordsman. I think you'll have to work hard to make him not sound similar to Inigo Montoya.

Obviously you put a lot of emphasis on your character development and background. That is awesome. Personally, I would find a player with that commmitment to character a pleasure to have at my table.

What I was quickly replying to was what seemed to be a broad stroke of the brush you were using as to a standard that has to be set for paladin characters and their players. Less can be more in reference to character development before the game starts.

The tone of your initial post struck me as a slightly arrogant and I am sure that was not your intention. I apologise for the Inigo Montoya comment, it was a low blow.


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One thing that always amuses me is tha large number of threads where a player asks if such and such an act is evil.

If you are even asking, it probably isn't the best thing for a paladin to do.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Umbral Reaver wrote:

If you want to make an interesting and different paladin, try this:

Focus on humility.

I've played alongside and GMed for a lot of paladins and not once have I seen one have the slightest care for humility. A majority were more along the lines of pursuing 'righteous glory', dedicated more to being seen to be heroic than to actually doing right. It probably comes down to player desire to be an awesome action hero.

Try testing your paladins, not in the daft old 'both choices lead to failure' way, but like this: Give the paladin a choice between an obvious self-glorifying triumph (not evil, maybe neutral at worst) and a truly good victory that will make him or her appear weak, undignified or become disliked by the populace.

When it hasn't been self-righteous bloodthirstiness, the complete absense of humility has been one of the most common factor in the "bad paladin" horror stories I've read.

Silver Crusade

Grey Lensman wrote:

One thing that always amuses me is tha large number of threads where a player asks if such and such an act is evil.

If you are even asking, it probably isn't the best thing for a paladin to do.

True. The question they should ask themselves, "Is this acceptable in my world?" is a good start. Still, fantasy worlds do have different rules at times.

Players need to relax and spend sometime getting used to their code. That is what 1st-level is about, IMHO, to allow you time to get your head around the character and the code. The neophyte who is given some leeway to learn the ropes of paladinhood.

However, players should not relax too much and go wholesale killing in the name of Iomedae or Shelyn. Both goddesses have codes that can easily be expanded on.

My tip is that the GM and the paladin player sit down for five minutes and discuss the code so they're both on the same page as how the paladin should act in reference to his deity's expectations. I find this helps cut down problems between the GM and player in game.


I am fascinated by the fact that the Paladin is the only guy who ever seems to have to worry about his alignment, despite numerous classes having alignment requirements and restrictions. Is it maybe because the paladin must be Lawful Good, where as other classes have wiggle room? And why does it seem to bring out the worst in a DM--or maybe just poor DMs?


Wildonion wrote:
And why does it seem to bring out the worst in a DM--or maybe just poor DMs?

If you have a GM who feels that he is more the opponent in a competition rather than the narrator it is quite easy, only the paladin class has stuff spelled out in such a strict fashion.


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Wildonion wrote:
I am fascinated by the fact that the Paladin is the only guy who ever seems to have to worry about his alignment, despite numerous classes having alignment requirements and restrictions. Is it maybe because the paladin must be Lawful Good, where as other classes have wiggle room? And why does it seem to bring out the worst in a DM--or maybe just poor DMs?

Because the Paladin is the only class that has thirty years of tradition telling DMs that they are supposed to go out of their way to screw you over-- that having your class powers stripped by some self-righteous petty tyrant who flunked out of his 100 level Ethics course was a necessary balancing factor for all of your 'awesome' Paladin powers.

People don't play interesting Paladins because the rules-as-written, and as interpreted by too many GMs, punish them for attempting to play interesting Paladins.


Sad but often true.

As an aside on ethics courses, I almost failed an ethnics unit once, for arguing against warfare and invasion that had killed tens of thousands of civilians. Funny times with a conservative lecturer. She didn't value life much.


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I have a Halfling built as a Paladin (Holy Tactician) 10 / Summoner (Master Summoner 10). He uses Aspect to get wings, wields a bow and summons hordes of Lantern Archons as a 'hunting pack' to seek out and fight evil. The Target of Opportunity teamwork feat and the spell Haste makes my Archons an artillery platform (4 attacks/round each) and the characters saves are so high as to be impenetrable. Lot of fun to play once you get into levels 7-15 or so.


the first inkling of lawful stupid and the fall of the paladin came when i read some of the dragonlance books. dragons of autumn twilight.

the first part of the book the paladin and his party are beset by goblins.

the paladin has to be talked into retreating by the half elven ranger through the use of a damsel in distress, like a dog who gets a phantom toss by a tennis ball

lord soth's (former paladin/deathknight) rise and fall is a litany to lawful stupid under the guise of tradgedy.

dm's in second edition saw paladins as overpowered and often would make overly complicated situations they described as "intresting" to hit the player with tons of idiocy.

for whatever reason the dm mentality ran its course all the way to the present day.

i'm very for the paladins to have their time to shine as a great class with theme.


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GeraintElberion wrote:

If you are a paladin of Shelyn, you focus more on courtly love than on love’s physical manifestations, and do everything you can to make yourself a living shield between beauty and purity and those forces that would consume or destroy them.

The paladins of Shelyn are peaceable promoters of art and beauty. They see the ugliness in evil, even when cloaked in the form of beauty, and their job is to prevent the weak and foolish from being seduced by false promises. Their tenets include:
• I am peaceful. I come first with a rose. I act to prevent conflict before it blossoms.
• I never strike first, unless it is the only way to protect the innocent.
• I accept surrender if my opponent can be redeemed—and I never assume that they cannot be. All things that live love beauty, and I will show beauty’s answer to them.
• I will never destroy a work of art, nor allow one to come to harm unless greater art arises from its loss. I will only sacrifice art if doing so allows me to save a life, for untold beauty can arise from an awakened soul.
• I see beauty in others. As a rough stone hides a diamond, a drab face may hide the heart of a saint.
• I lead by example, not with my blade. Where my blade passes, a life is cut short, and the world's potential for beauty is lessened.
• I live my life as art. I will choose an art and perfect it. When I have mastered it, I will choose another. The works I leave behind make life richer for those who follow.

Paladin of Shelyn, excellent choice!

One of my fighter's fellow party members is a lovely samsaran paladin/monk of Shelyn. She's a little bit monastic, soft-spoken, kind to all, unfailingly helpful, quite a zealous painter, a sucker for romance, and a casual fan of architecture (which my own fighter enjoys as well). And of course she stands steadfast in the face of evil when she needs to. Really, a wonderful party member and a treat to be teamed up with.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree. There are plenty of ways to make a paladin interesting without losing their code or them falling - unless your DM is being a douche, in which case just don't play.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

i've played probably a dozen or more different paladins- its probably the single class i've played the most (and i've played it in 2e, 3e, 3.x, and Pathfinder). some of them were multi-classed, but most were straight class, all were interesting, and all were very different from each other. some may have flirted with some stereo-types (sometimes intentionally, and subversively), but all were fun to play and i have literally never had someone say 'why would you play a paladin' after playing with me (though a couple asked it before meeting my paladins).

i think that, like any class, its all about the player. as mentioned in an earlier post, some players are lazy and/or unimaginative and paladins probably aren't for them. some players may be perfectly happy to put in the work and bubbling over with creativity but just not 'get' paladins- and that's fine, but they should probably play something else. and that's not a slight- for all my experience (and a fair bit of creativity) i've never been able to pull off a really good rogue, it just doesn't suit me (as paladins don't fit some other players).

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