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Fall or Not - Opinions on the actions of a Paladin


Advice

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This is the first time I've run a game with a Paladin and was wondering if I could garner some advice on the subject of falling Paladins. Though a general discussion, this is the specific situation that occurred last evening and spurred this topic:

Spoiler:

In our session last night my players faced the debut of the new BBEG, a Synthesist Summoner Vampire of CE alignment. He showed up at a church that they were hiding in, demanding the location of a letter (hidden under the church behind a permanent prismatic wall). Immediately most of the party fled out the back of the church, save for the party leader the Magus, a Dhampir NPC, and of course the Paladin, who stayed since there were 40 some Villagers huddled in the church. She stayed in spite of enemy having a strong evil aura while she is merely a level 4 paladin.

Seemingly powerless to stop them without a majority of the party, the Vampire terrified the Magus & Dhampir into submission, leaving the immune Paladin temporarily alone. Knowing that attacking the vampire alone would be suicide she began demanding him to leave. Simply ignoring the her pleas, he searched and found the prismatic wall. Not capable of getting past the prismatic wall himself, he sought to both amuse himself and test the strength of the wall by commanding the paladin into it, yet the Paladin succeeded resisting. Not sated however, he dominated all the villagers and began ordering them one by one into the prismatic wall in front of the paladin to see if he could provoke her. Few made it past the first color, but the Paladin still refused to fight him, knowing that he could not win and would merely deny him the satisfaction of crushing her if nothing else.

Bored, with the Paladin's reaction he left to retrieve his General(a Graveknight the party had "slain" a few days earlier) believing he could potentially get past the wall(with his SR). After the Vampire had left, the rest of the party returned to retrieve their allies. However they accidently revealed to the remaining Villagers(whom are still dominated) that they had found part of the "key" to the wall, a scroll of Greater Dispel Magic, as well as their next destination. The Wizard pointed out that the Vampires could retrieve the information from them. They had no means of removing the domination effect.

Thus the party, paladin excluded, voted to kill them to spare them the Vampire's torture as well as cover their tracks. The Wizard & Magus gathered up the remainder of the Villagers and burnt them to death, including women and children. Again, infront of the paladin. This was where we ended the session last night.

So just to what point would you say in-action causes a Paladin falls? In my scenario, the Paladin doesn't do anything directly evil herself, so an automatic fall isn't in store IMO. Her intention was to protect, but due to poor circumstances (A fleeing Wizard, Monk, Samurai, Rogue; an overwhelming foe; a curse like ability) she simply didn't have the means to prevail. As such, I think the intent of the action is important since the "willingly commit and evil act" part is typically what can cause a Paladin to fall. She certainly didn’t commit such an act.

On the other hand, she didn't stop the party from killing 20 some innocents, nor punish them. Nor did she heroically sacrifice herself in battle against the Vampire, even if it would have been a completely suicidal effort. Thus she didn’t follow her code of protecting innocents. To that end, I can see how one could make the argument that a Paladin should fall through inaction, though it’s not my own.

What are other DM's take on the subject? Do you believe that such inactions are systematic of a slow fall? Or are they ignorable missteps of otherwise valiant champions?

Edit:
The SS Vamp was only a cr 8(7th level + 2 for vamp - 1 for only class HD), his gear was only Snakescale armor & a few scrolls.

The party is 7 people: a 5th level Magus, a 4th level Pali, a 4th level Wizard, a 4th level Samurai, a 4th level Rogue/Fighter, a 4th level Monk, and a 4th level cleric. All are above averagely geared & they had a NPC ranger & NPC Inquistor(the dhampir) with them. On the Whole, their APL is 6.

It was meant to be a hard/epic encounter(planning on thinning the herd and killing off the NPCs). The ONLY reason this was a bad fight for the Paladin was everyone else freaked out when they realized the enemy was a Vamp.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Darth Grall wrote:
Thus the party, paladin excluded, voted to kill them to spare them the Vampire's torture as well as cover their tracks. The Wizard & Magus gathered up the remainder of the Villagers and burnt them to death, including women and children.

I think Dudley Donothing is just one of many problems present in this situation.

Just having a hard time relating to the ultimate actions of any of these characters, or finding them believable. That no one Took a Third Option really sticks out, or rather, that the only Third Option any of them jumped on was to start killing the hostages.

It might have been suicide, but the paladin rallying everyone in that church to stop cowering and run would have been more proactive and would have saved some if not most lives.

They're in a church. Where the holy symbols and holy water at? (they can afford a prismatic wall but not those standard things?

Paladin didn't even try to restrain dominated villagers from committing suicide?

And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!

This doesn't sound like a group of people any Good characters need to be hanging around with.

Cheliax

I do not see how you could both stay alive and retain your paladin abilities with this set up.

Did you try to wrestle the villagers away from the prismatic wall? Sure some should have overwhelmed you but at least trying would have left you innocent compared to just letting them be mentally forced into the colors.

Did you try to defend the villagers when the others tried to kill them? If not, then I would have no sympathy for your lost paladinhood. Even with the villagers being a security threat/leak.

Sometimes, you just cannot satisfy everyone.


Evil prevails when good men do nothing?

That being said the burning to death were evil actions by the party. An act so evil that an alignment shift is in order. All the way to CE, as the act was so stupid evil that is not even funny. They fail so hard at being heroic they end up in willful villainy.

Paladin should be forced to leave the party and repent for associating with and aiding evil doers. A full recall and censure from his order at the very least.

Also, set piece events where the party isn't even close to the power level of a BBEG might sound cool, but lets be frank. Nobody likes their characters being put into a losing, unavoidable fight, nobody likes their characters ruined by the fiat story powers of the GM. Paladin falling fiat stories are especially bad.

Summoner Vampire? 4th level party? Might as well just call it the Lady of Pain with how much of a chance the party had in that encounter. Oh, its a synth too? Let me guess, full PC gear and 20 point buy? And its paladin baiting too? Maybe the inaction and fear in the players has to do with the fact they KNOW anything they do will just screw up the party and at the very best cause a TPK, at the worst force them to play with broken (in the ruined sense) characters.

As a GM and a player I would run away from such a table, never to return.


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Okay, I could maybe understand killing them if they were going to be dominated and tortured for the rest of their lives.

But instead of opting for a quick beheading/knife to the heart/what have you, the party opts to burn them to death (possibly the most excruciatingly painful way to die IRL, and I'm sure it's high up on the list in Golarion too) AND THE PALADIN LET THEM?

Aw HELL to the NAW. He would've been within his rights to lash out and kill as many of these sadistic bastards as possible. At the very least you should make the Paladin seek redemption or something and then try your damnedest to kill the new villains of this story.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
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And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
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And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
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And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
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And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!

This has been looping in my head every time I see this thread in the sidebar now. I mean...holy @#$%. They set those people on fire?!

How much, and what, discussion went into that decision anyway? At what point does that become a logical or remotely humane conclusion to deal with a situation?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
notabot wrote:

Evil prevails when good men do nothing?

That being said the burning to death were evil actions by the party. An act so evil that an alignment shift is in order. All the way to CE, as the act was so stupid evil that is not even funny. They fail so hard at being heroic they end up in willful villainy.

Paladin should be forced to leave the party and repent for associating with and aiding evil doers. A full recall and censure from his order at the very least.

Also, set piece events where the party isn't even close to the power level of a BBEG might sound cool, but lets be frank. Nobody likes their characters being put into a losing, unavoidable fight, nobody likes their characters ruined by the fiat story powers of the GM. Paladin falling fiat stories are especially bad.

Summoner Vampire? 4th level party? Might as well just call it the Lady of Pain with how much of a chance the party had in that encounter. Oh, its a synth too? Let me guess, full PC gear and 20 point buy? And its paladin baiting too? Maybe the inaction and fear in the players has to do with the fact they KNOW anything they do will just screw up the party and at the very best cause a TPK, at the worst force them to play with broken (in the ruined sense) characters.

As a GM and a player I would run away from such a table, never to return.

This. Precisely this. I wouldn't be playing with this DM ever again in that unwinnable scenario. He/she had the power to adjust the encounter to the circumstances, but chose not to. Bad on them.

But that being said, I am also very strict with my paladins.

First threat of falling: Not finding a way other than direct combat to keep the vampire from torturing innocents. He stood by and watched.

Second threat of falling: Not preventing the rest of his party from burning the villagers alive.

Paladin repercussions: Allowed evil acts to be committed under his watch. Excommunicated from his order without a serious act of redemption/atonement.

Party repercussions: Loses their paladin, forced alignment shift WAY to the right. Maybe not Chaotic Evil, but definitely Neutral Evil. They believed that innocents should die to protect the greater good.


Woah, first let me address Notabot:

The SS Vamp was only a cr 8(7th level + 2 for vamp - 1 for only class HD), his gear was only Snakescale armor & a few scrolls.

The party is 7 people: a 5th level Magus, a 4th level Pali, a 4th level Wizard, a 4th level Samurai, a 4th level Rogue/Fighter, a 4th level Monk, and a 4th level cleric. All are above averagely geared & they had a NPC ranger & NPC Inquistor(the dhampir) with them. On the Whole, their APL is 6.

It was meant to be a hard/epic encounter(planning on thinning the herd and killing off the NPCs). The ONLY reason this was a bad fight for the Paladin was everyone else freaked out when they realized the enemy was a Vamp.

Edit:
They had GALONS of Holy water, they had a Kinslayer NPC. They were in a blooming church, so symbols abound.

And the Vamp was adjusted when everyone else bailed(a quick -2 to all it's abilities and DCs since we were mid game) of the Paladin as soon as they were abandoned, however the player had detected evil at the previous level prior so as soon as the other 2(the magus and NPC failed their saves with bad rolls) they just gave up.


Mikaze wrote:
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!
Quote:
And holy @#$%, the party set the surviving villagers on fire?!

This has been looping in my head every time I see this thread in the sidebar now. I mean...holy @#$%. They set those people on fire?!

How much, and what, discussion went into that decision anyway? At what point does that become a logical or remotely humane conclusion to deal with a situation?

I agree with the above statement. Personally, as a GM, I would revoke his Abilities and curse him suffer a nightmare spell until he atones. Seriously, this is grave. That GM set that sh@* up. That is the most messed up thing I've ever heard of. Seriously...I'm baffled. Mikaze, I share in your bewilderment.


There's a Cleric? Please tell me his Deity is Good.

Because that would give you the perfect in to strip him of his powers and send mighty smiters after the party.


Paladin should fall. Ask him if he would rather become an antipaladin or lose class abilities until he pays a cleric to atone.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Darth Grall wrote:

Woah, first let me address Notabot:

The SS Vamp was only a cr 8 level(7th level + 2 for vamp - 1 for only class HD), his gear was only Snakescale armor & a few scrolls.

The party is 7 people: a 5th level Magus, a 4th level Pali, a 4th level Wizard, a 4th level Samurai, a 4th level Rogue/Fighter, a 4th level Monk, and a 4th level cleric. All are above averagely geared & they had a NPC ranger & NPC Inquistor(the dhampir) with them. On the Whole, their APL is 6.

It was meant to be an was challenging/epic encounter(planning on thinning the herd and killing off the NPCs). The ONLY reason this was a bad fight for the Paladin was everyone else freaked out when they realized the enemy was a Vamp.

The party was 1 person once the "freak out" occurred. Whoever the DM was should have adjusted fire as necessary. Example:

Perhaps the Vampire was a disguised henchman the "real" vampire sent along with a spell of clairaudience/clairsentience to gauge the party's capabilities. The CR of the henchman would have been matched to the Paladin.

A thousand things could have been done by the DM to prevent putting one of his players in this predicament. A good storyteller has to be able to shift on the fly. There was a point where this encounter became less fun and more hassle. It's the DM's job as leader to make sure that doesn't happen. Ever.


Putting a CR 8 up against a level 4 party is pretty bad, and a making said enemy a vampire makes it even worse.

Yeah, I can see why this went to hell pretty fast, though the whole "burn the villagers" thing was still out of left field.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:

Putting a CR 8 up against a level 4 party is pretty bad, and a making said enemy a vampire makes it even worse.

Yeah, I can see why this went to hell pretty fast, though the whole "burn the villagers" thing was still out of left field.

Indeed. This is a perfect example of why a person who is a strict rules lawyer and bean counter (It looks good on paper, so why not) makes a terrible DM. They may know all the rules, conversions, and calculations, but lack the sense or experience to reality check their work.

At best, perhaps the GM in this situation will learn from that very huge mistake.

At worst, he may lose players over it.

I think a scooby-doo moment is called for here, if it's not too late:

The party all wake up screaming, in a cold sweat. It's the morning of the day of the vampire/villager burning encounter. It was all a bad dream.


I'd have been okay with this if the group were heavily optimized.

But judging from how the encounter went, it's very likely they weren't.


Wow. I agree with Mikaze -- I can't get over the decision of "let's immolate innocent people alive, and continue on with our lives as a good-aligned party of adventurers".

I think the paladin has at least an outside argument for atoning & getting paladin powers back -- or maybe being on the thinnest of probations for the next few months. BUT ... she can't travel with this group anymore. They're all evil now.


L. A. Paladin wrote:


Wow. I agree with Mikaze -- I can't get over the decision of "let's immolate innocent people alive, and continue on with our lives as a good-aligned party of adventurers".

I think the paladin has at least an outside argument for atoning & getting paladin powers back -- or maybe being on the thinnest of probations for the next few months. BUT ... she can't travel with this group anymore. They're all evil now.

I agree here too. The alignments of all the PCs, possibly excluding the Paladin, should become Evil. This was a staright up evil act. Sacrificing ONE for many may be passible, but killing all of them is out of the question. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM has no players at his table the next game day.


Not only a Paladin running from a vampire, but a Wizard as well?

That's beyond pathetic!! Both of them should hang themselves in shame...

Shadow Lodge

Burning the villagers was completely uncalled for and absolutely should cause alignment shift and, in the Paladin's case, a fall. Standing by and letting the villagers be Dominated into suicide is pretty bad, but it could be argued she was waiting for an opportunity to actually defeat the monster. Not so for what happened after.

That said, I agree that this was a very difficult encounter. I can see why half the party fled. Your "fix" was obviously insufficient since a few bad rolls reduced the party to the Paladin. I can see why it looked OK, but the thing about "epic" encounters is that they can easily turn against the PCs with a few bad rolls or one or two bad tactical decisions. And if you aren't prepared for a TPK in that situation you should have a backup.

I normally am not in favour of "it was just a dream," but in this case it might be advised. Have it be a premonition of what's to come. Throw the PCs against more or less the same encounter, but this time with a backup plan in case it goes bad and gets more dangerous than you intend. And package the dream with a warning to face the encounter as a group this time.


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Why does everyone just think only paladins should face consequences for their actions?
I'd say the monk should become nonlawful and thus become an ex monk long before the paladin does loose his powers.
As I understood you he fled in the beginning without any magical cause just because he thought running away is better than fighting for what is right and lawful.

The cleric should have a nice long talk with his god. Depending on which god he follows he too should face consequences like having to look for a new go if he wants to remain a cleric.

If you have something the BBEG must not get you don't have to make it a secret that you have that thing. You can just remove it from existance.
Instead of killing innocents who knew about the scroll they could just have used or destroyed the scroll to prevent the vampire from using it.

But something completely different:
You made that scenario. What was your idea on what the paladin should do to still be a living paladin after that. Or Did you plan to have him fall?
For me your description sounds as if the paladin was damned when the rest of the party deserted. Everything he could do was wrong.
Considering this he did rather well.
He is still alive and did nothing wrong exept not sacrifice himself.


As my character demonstrated, the fact that a Wizard, a person skilled in arcane arts and knowledgeable of the supernatural, would run away from a vampire. The Cleric also making a run for it was pretty out-of-character (at least in terms of the class), doubly so if his/her deity is Good. The Samurai running away should commit ritual suicide out of shame, unless he justified it as a tactical retreat (which it wasn't). The only one who would get away with a cowardly fleeing like that was the Rogue.


Umbranus wrote:


I'd say the monk should become nonlawful and thus become an ex monk long before the paladin does loose his powers.
As I understood you he fled in the beginning without any magical cause just because he thought running away is better than fighting for what is right and lawful.

Just because he's Lawful doesn't mean he's Good, or fights for the cause of Law. He just follows the laws of the land.


Okay, clearly you're all of the opinion this is a big blunder on my part... Which I can't deny is possible. I don't know see how though.

-It's a big group, and according to the rules; the parties a higher APL for it. This enemy was within CR range. They are well geared and had Magic & Good Weapons or equivalent enchanted weapons to get past DR. I'd even run simulations in excel and they had a good chance of beating him with minimal loses.
-I adjusted the Villian with a signifigant penalty as soon as most of the party bailed, to compensate for a dropped CR.
-Wasn't planning on taking away the pali's powers for this situation, due to actions outside of his control(ie, the other player's actions).

As for the burning thing, yeah that was over kill but from the players perspective:
-The villagers were dominated. For 12 days. They were going to be killed by the Vamp either way. Likely horifically. Also, they could potentially be turned into zombies/vampire spawn if they lived. Killing them was a "mercy"; and fire spells were simply the strongest damage spells they had as not to prolong it as well as prevent them from turning them into undead.
-They knew too much, they couldn't keep the Vamp from finding out where they were taking the scroll to without killing them. They needed to protect themselves & the scroll.

Not perfect but not evil motivations. And the party alignment is:
Magus: LN -Stayed and fought, but rolled a 1 on his check.
Wizard: NN - Is a Dhampir himself, and doesn't wanna mess with Vampires.
Rogue: NN - Selfish
Samurai: CG - Ran cause everyone else was running and his player had to leave for work OOC
Cleric: NG(Pharasma) - Sat in a room and prayed, expected her god to come and save her.
Monk: LN - Was the first to attack him, but left when everyone else started bolting.

They will all likely be taking a shift towards evil, though none of them were pleased or happy with the situation. They didn't want to do it, they just assumed it

And I know everyone keeps freaking out that they'd leave my table and such, but everyone seemed to genuinely have fun and were talking about how good the session was all the way to the train from where we play. Even the Paladin's player. So no worries on that front lol.

Edit: added in presumed motivations for why they ran


How the **** would a Chaotic Good Samurai agree with any of that?

Why the **** didn't the Cleric stay and fight the undead, which Pharasma hates?!

The calculations of APL are horribly inaccurate, and if they really were well-geared they wouldn't have run away!!


Icyshadow wrote:

How the **** would a Chaotic Good Samurai agree with any of that?

Why the **** didn't the Cleric stay and fight the undead, which Pharasma hates?!

The calculations of APL are horribly inaccurate, and if they really were well-geared they wouldn't have run away!!

Samurai had to leave OOC, and said he'd have his character follow one of the players(the Wizard). Since he left, he took 2 by default. Mind you, the rogue & cleric left first. Also, he's a Ronin and none of his vows were broken.

The cleric was praying for literally divine intervention.

And so far they've been reliable. And they are pretty geared. For example, the Samurai has ~25 AC & is wielding a +2 Keen Katana.

Also, an interesting note, no one in the party actually died or even took actual HP damage.

Edit: Corrections.


But come on dude. Maybe you SHOULD mulligan this one.


If I were the DM, I'd make the Cleric, Samurai* and Paladin lose their powers for breaking their codes of conduct.

The Wizard should be mocked and jeered by people who know of the incident, and so should the Rogue to a lesser extent.

Unless you retcon this whole thing as a bad dream or something, their actions should have consequences, since the world is not static.

* = He might have not broken his vows, but he fled from the battlefield, which is a shameful act considering they had a chance to win against the vampire.


Icyshadow wrote:

If I were the DM, I'd make the Cleric, Samurai and Paladin lose their powers for breaking their codes of conduct.

The Wizard should be mocked and jeered by people who know of the incident, and so should the Rogue to a lesser extent.

Perhaps, but I don't feel right punishing the Paladin. As a few have pointed out, she made the best of a really bad situation, not of her making.

Agreed on the cleric though. She was DUMB.

Samurai's a Ronin, and his 3 vows were unaffected by this(also small OOC issue).

But as for the Wizard/Rogue there weren't any survivors... The only one who will mock them will be the Vamp & his cronies. Which, come on he's a bbeg, he was going to do that anyways.

Luna_Silvertear wrote:
But come on dude. Maybe you SHOULD mulligan this one.

Again, the players seemed to have a blast.

Aside from everyone on here's outrage, it seems they all had fun so I don't see why I would aside from the Pali's alignment. Which I can potentially see some downfall from her abilites comming... Perhaps I only partly strip her powers? Like just her Smite Evil?


No, you should punish both the Cleric (who really deserves it if you'd ask her deity) and the Paladin (for having a part in the little human bonfire incident), along with the shameful coward of a Ronin who'd probably get a kick in the crotch from any other Samurai for what he did if he doesn't just kill himself before that. Like I said before, actions should have consequences if you want to keep the game scenario even remotely believeable, and these guys deserve a whack on the head (in a metaphorical sense) for their cowardice and stupidity.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Darth Grall wrote:
Okay, clearly you're all of the opinion this is a big blunder on my part... Which I can't deny is possible. I don't know see how though.

And this is your problem. You refuse to see that which we've pointed out for you.

Darth Grall wrote:
-It's a big group, and according to the rules; the parties a higher APL for it. This enemy was within CR range. They are well geared and had Magic & Good Weapons or equivalent enchanted weapons to get past DR. I'd even run simulations in excel and they had a good chance of beating him with minimal loses.

Please see my above comment on rules lawyers/bean counters. Something can look great on paper, and as you've learned, terrible in execution.

Darth Grall wrote:
-I adjusted the Villian with a signifigant penalty as soon as most of the party bailed, to compensate for a dropped CR.

Obviously not adjusted enough.

Darth Grall wrote:
-Wasn't planning on taking away the pali's powers for this situation, due to actions outside of his control(ie, the other player's actions).

Him becoming a bystander and doing nothing made him just as culpable. There are several reasons he should fall. Apathy while witnessing evil actions is absolutely a valid reason for being stripped of his powers. He doesn't have to do evil himself, just allow it to happen and have the conscious will and ability to stop it. If he was scared or dominated or held magically, that would be a different story. But he was free to act, and he chose not to.

Darth Grall wrote:
As for the burning thing, yeah that was over kill but from the players perspective: Not perfect but not evil motivations.

You seem to justify using a lot of "what if" and "potential" and "probably" and "likely". Unless these turned to "DEFINITELY", burning otherwise innocent villagers is an evil act.

If the villagers HAD turned to zombies, I can see it. If they were starting to hack each other to pieces, I can see it. If they were set upon the town to burn, rape, and pillage, I can see it. You described none of these horrible scenarios, so I assume they weren't happening.

Darth Grall, at the end of the day, you are the DM. Therefore you are in charge of how much fun the players have. If they all had a great session, wonderful. But that's because you didn't do your entire job, ie, making the Paladin fall and force-shifting the alignments of the other players. I can almost guarantee that with those consequences, the end of your play session would have been much different.

Weirdo wrote:
I normally am not in favour of "it was just a dream," but in this case it might be advised. Have it be a premonition of what's to come. Throw the PCs against more or less the same encounter, but this time with a backup plan in case it goes bad and gets more dangerous than you intend. And package the dream with a warning to face the encounter as a group this time.

Neither am I, but in this case I see it being justified. And I would actually package the dream with a seer or an oracle in town reminding them of what they are capable of if they walk down the wrong path...


Eh, I'll sleep on it. It's late by me anyways.

Regardless of whether I take it, thanks for any and all advice guys. It's certainly been a conversation.

Silver Crusade

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I have some sympathy for you, Darth. I don't think anyone could have predicted the player's behaviour.

I'm all about the solution, though, not about finding a scapegoat.

I think it's important that there are consequences. The key is finding believable consequences that don't ruin the game!

I'd suggest that the characters witness other, negative consequences of the vampire's victory. Maybe some agents of the good gods appear, take away some abilities, and set a quest that both redeems them and defeats the vampire. Have these divine beings accompanied by the souls of the dead villagers and lay the guilt on thick. As a DM you can return individual powers on a case-by-case basis, partly when they are needed and partly when they have done something to deserve it. Make it clear that the success of the quest (which includes sticking with appropriate behaviour) would result in restoration of powers and status, and if the quest is failed then powers are forever lost and their reputation will follow them their entire lives until they die and go to eternal damnation!

Whatever solution you choose should:-
-show where they went wrong
-show the consequenses of not acting like heroes
-give them a chance to put it right, which would succeed or fail depending on how heroically they act

'The game must go on!' What happened last time was a complete mess, but the correct response is not to just give up, nor to just ignore the consequences. To get the most from role-playing the players must realise that the decisions they make have consequences, good and bad.


People seem to be berating you here on account of you "not adjusting" the encounter. While as a DM it is your job to roll with the punches, it's not your job to accommodate every whim of your players.

What baffles me the most is that the majority of the party didn't even try to take on the vamp. I mean running away mid-fight to an overwhelming force is one thing, but to not even try and gauge its power?! What are you doing out adventuring? I mean really?!

I think malachi has the right idea, although I wouldn't go as far as he suggests. mostly due to laziness.

The Pally should lose some if not all powers until an atonement is done. He sat idly by as evil was done by not only the vamp but his group as well.

The Cleric has some serious atoning to do with Pharasma. She may have been praying for a miracle to do her work for her when she could have (and still should) realized that as a cleric she is herself Pharasma's instrument in doing her works. (ie. the destruction of undead)

Shadow Lodge

I'm with Darth on this one. It sounds like, if the party had just stuck it out and fought, they could have taken him with reasonable difficulty. But as soon as one player decided the best thing for their character to do was run, the encounter started jumping out of the remaining party's ability to fight exponentially, as people leave because the fight is dangerous, thereby making the fight more dangerous, which then caused more people to leave.... Rinse and repeat.

So yeah, you put the players in an iffy situation that had a good chance to turn out epic, they took the worst possible option, and the rest of the party got screwed. You can't really blame them for fear (except the cleric. Asking Pharasma to save her? She at least loses domains.), and you can't blame the paladin for not knowing what to do. Adjusting encounters on the fly is hard- especially for the amount of adjusting needed there. I would have made it easier and hinted to the player that he should attack and try his luck, but that's just me. It sounds like everyone had a good time, and that's what counts.


Darth Grall wrote:
there were 40 some Villagers huddled in the church.
Darth Grall wrote:
They had GALONS of Holy water, they had a Kinslayer NPC. They were in a blooming church, so symbols abound.

Would the synthesist shell protect the vampire from the 47+ readied actions to throw holy water flasks at him upon entering the church that should have been prepared?

Also, I'm all for not playing Lawful Stupid, but sometimes a paladin just has to cowboy up even when the situation is utterly hopeless. 40+ innocents being killed one by one is one of those times. And if the paladin does so, it's certainly not out of line for the GM to throw the paladin some kind of bone, even if all that entails is a free revive after the battle.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

7 PCs + 2NPCS + Church. Party could have handled it.

As for falling, I'd say the burning alive part would do that. Not humane way to kill them, other options not tried, etc. The action was seriously evil.


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Barry Armstrong wrote:
Please see my above comment on rules lawyers/bean counters. Something can look great on paper, and as you've learned, terrible in execution.

The weakest opponent of all will be an insurmountable obstacle if the party flees in terror the moment that foe appears. I don't see anything suggesting that the opponent was too strong for a party of nine, especially considering that it was a vampire in a church. The problem was that the PC's decided to run away without a fight. The vampire could have been CR3 with the worst stats in the world and the PCs would still have lost if they all bailed at the first sign of trouble.


Darth Grall wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

If I were the DM, I'd make the Cleric, Samurai and Paladin lose their powers for breaking their codes of conduct.

The Wizard should be mocked and jeered by people who know of the incident, and so should the Rogue to a lesser extent.

Perhaps, but I don't feel right punishing the Paladin. As a few have pointed out, she made the best of a really bad situation, not of her making.

Agreed on the cleric though. She was DUMB.

Samurai's a Ronin, and his 3 vows were unaffected by this(also small OOC issue).

But as for the Wizard/Rogue there weren't any survivors... The only one who will mock them will be the Vamp & his cronies. Which, come on he's a bbeg, he was going to do that anyways.

Luna_Silvertear wrote:
But come on dude. Maybe you SHOULD mulligan this one.

Again, the players seemed to have a blast.

Aside from everyone on here's outrage, it seems they all had fun so I don't see why I would aside from the Pali's alignment. Which I can potentially see some downfall from her abilites comming... Perhaps I only partly strip her powers? Like just her Smite Evil?

Stripping of powers isn't a big deal. THe paladin sat by and watched villagers get burned to death(a major alignment violation). He will just have to suck it up and pay 2500 gold for an atonement.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Roberta Yang wrote:
Barry Armstrong wrote:
Please see my above comment on rules lawyers/bean counters. Something can look great on paper, and as you've learned, terrible in execution.
The weakest opponent of all will be an insurmountable obstacle if the party flees in terror the moment that foe appears. I don't see anything suggesting that the opponent was too strong for a party of nine, especially considering that it was a vampire in a church. The problem was that the PC's decided to run away without a fight. The vampire could have been CR3 with the worst stats in the world and the PCs would still have lost if they all bailed at the first sign of trouble.

All completely correct. The PC's (the same ones that thought burning innocent villagers was a good idea, mind you) definitely got scared into idiocy.

But the DM could have stopped the encounter at multiple places in that encounter to adjust fire. At the end of the day, my stance remains firm: The DM sets the pace.


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Barry Armstrong wrote:
But the DM could have stopped the encounter at multiple places in that encounter to adjust fire.

Yeah, if the GM were competent then he would have had the vampire wander away so that the remaining PCs wouldn't be killed.

Wait a minute, that's exactly what happened, what are you complaining about here?

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Threads like these are the main reason I seldom allow Paladins in my games and NEVER to people I don't know. And have become less willing to play them myself.

Would anyone be asking this question if the character was a LG Cleric?, Ranger, Wizard? The actions of this group are the failings of the group, but it's the Paladin being singled out here. The Paladin is like a Trapeze Artist at a circus, many go to watch amazing acrobatics, but the appeal to quite a few is to be there the day he misses the trapeze and becomes ring floor pizza.

The predominant discussion about Paladins is always about falling, what winds up turning this character into a fighter without bonus feats. Save for the Summoner, the Paladin is definitely the worse class to run in this modern, more cynical age.


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Paizo should really start a separate forum called the "Paladin Review Board."


The OP actually said he doesn't want to make the Paladin fall.

If I were the DM, I'd slap a punishment on every character involved.


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LazarX wrote:

Threads like these are the main reason I seldom allow Paladins in my games and NEVER to people I don't know. And have become less willing to play them myself.

Would anyone be asking this question if the character was a LG Cleric?, Ranger, Wizard? The actions of this group are the failings of the group, but it's the Paladin being singled out here. The Paladin is like a Trapeze Artist at a circus, many go to watch amazing acrobatics, but the appeal to quite a few is to be there the day he misses the trapeze and becomes ring floor pizza.

The predominant discussion about Paladins is always about falling, what winds up turning this character into a fighter without bonus feats. Save for the Summoner, the Paladin is definitely the worse class to run in this modern, more cynical age.

You know who walks a tighter tightrope than paladins on these boards? GM's. As far as I can tell, literally anything a GM does will get responses of "The GM is terrible and if the players had any sense the entire table would walk out on that horrible GM immediately". And of course the most dreaded thing on these boards is "GM Fiat", which in practice often translates to "My GM gave me a -2 circumstance penalty on my Sunder roll because the thing I was trying to hit was a tiny ring on someone's finger, doesn't he know there's no mention of that in the rulebook?"


Half a year ago, the mentality was "the DM is never wrong, it's always a horrible entitled **** player" instead.

I'm actually really glad people are starting to see that the DM is not perfect either, especially because I was subject to a bad one.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Roberta Yang wrote:
LazarX wrote:

Threads like these are the main reason I seldom allow Paladins in my games and NEVER to people I don't know. And have become less willing to play them myself.

Would anyone be asking this question if the character was a LG Cleric?, Ranger, Wizard? The actions of this group are the failings of the group, but it's the Paladin being singled out here. The Paladin is like a Trapeze Artist at a circus, many go to watch amazing acrobatics, but the appeal to quite a few is to be there the day he misses the trapeze and becomes ring floor pizza.

The predominant discussion about Paladins is always about falling, what winds up turning this character into a fighter without bonus feats. Save for the Summoner, the Paladin is definitely the worse class to run in this modern, more cynical age.

You know who walks a tighter tightrope than paladins on these boards? GM's. As far as I can tell, literally anything a GM does will get responses of "The GM is terrible and if the players had any sense the entire table would walk out on that horrible GM immediately". And of course the most dreaded thing on these boards is "GM Fiat", which in practice often translates to "My GM gave me a -2 circumstance penalty on my Sunder roll because the thing I was trying to hit was a tiny ring on someone's finger, doesn't he know there's no mention of that in the rulebook?"

Yes, GM's get litle love on these boards where players come to vent their peans of self-entitlement. You should see those threads where we've had posters who not only cut down the importance of the GM but were practically saying that GM's should be grateful for their presence.


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Icyshadow wrote:

Half a year ago, the mentality was "the DM is never wrong, it's always a horrible entitled **** player" instead.

I'm actually really glad people are starting to see that the DM is not perfect either, especially because I was subject to a bad one.

"Every GM is Hitler and you should abandon their games immediately" isn't any better than "Every GM is Jesus and they should toss you out of their games for being ungrateful". They're just two sides of the same bitter, hostile coin.


Roberta Yang wrote:
Barry Armstrong wrote:
But the DM could have stopped the encounter at multiple places in that encounter to adjust fire.

Yeah, if the GM were competent then he would have had the vampire wander away so that the remaining PCs wouldn't be killed.

Wait a minute, that's exactly what happened, what are you complaining about here?

You should go back and read the thread.


Roberta Yang wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Half a year ago, the mentality was "the DM is never wrong, it's always a horrible entitled **** player" instead.

I'm actually really glad people are starting to see that the DM is not perfect either, especially because I was subject to a bad one.

"Every GM is Hitler and you should abandon their games immediately" isn't any better than "Every GM is Jesus and they should toss you out of their games for being ungrateful". They're just two sides of the same bitter, hostile coin.

I'm actually more on the lines of "both sides have their idiots" and on this thread that certainly applies.

Also, before anyone throws a fit over what I said, the aforementioned idiots are mostly the characters involved.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This whole scene is hilarious.

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