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Should the Paladin Fall? A Guide


Advice

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I agree with Alzrius. I would like to play a paladin in pming campaing, cause that is pretty much how I view paladins.
Lemmy, the paladin you DM for, mine, IS acting like he was in a campaing by pming. Not afraid of atoning, already praying and planning to hit the church for more praying for mercy killing those guys that were to changed to save, trying to sidequest to seek justice for that village of lizardman, trying to find a new home for the morlocks, trying to rehabilitate the golems into society...
And weren't you playing a druid? The pally was the backup until we got more players, and he didn't even get to any scenes were those kinds of moral quandaries would appear. That comes later in the campaign. If he does come back to the campaign we might need to talk about his code and stuff. At the very least I can assure that I would never make a lose lose situation for a paladin, there would be a third and even fourth choice hidden if the paladin looks for it.
On the part of lying, a paladin should never lie. Noone says anything about misdirection, omission and half truths. Don't say "I didn't see any pickpocketing children" if you did, say "I didn't see anyone pickpocketing" because you might have seen them but you didn't see them in the act of stealing. And if she does look fat just say "You are just as beautiful to me as the day we met." no need to lie, and with good enough diplomacy she won't even notice you didn't actually answer.


Oh my god. Paladin Hare and his Bunnylord cracked me up :D
I want to worship Bunnylord now ^^

Very well written. Go Team Paladin!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I must admit, the so-called 'Most important rule: Did you warn him?' is the one I disagree with.

Granted; in most cases, the Paladin (or rather, his player) should be be given the chance to see he is straying from the path; however, there are exceptions.

A Paladin that takes offense on the (admittedly outrageous) prices a shopkeeper asks, leaves the shop and tries to set fire to the building the following night will fall without warning in my game.

A Paladin who follows a code that states 'My word is my honor' who formally enters parley with an enemy emissary, only to strike him down (with a resounding 'SMITE EVIL') once negotiations have begun with no treachery on the enemy's part will fall. No, I will not accept excuses along the lines of 'Hey, he was evil, so I was doing a good thing.'

A Paladin who gains an audience with the Crown Princess, and runs her through before she can finish the sentence of 'Welcome, hero of *urgh*' because, well, the player felt that 'this b#?ch was going to betray us anyway' will fall so hard he reaches terminal velocity before impacting on the floor.

As for the 'no win situation': I agree that it is bad form for a GM to make a habit out of crafting a situation that only have 'You fall' solutions for a Paladin. Truth be told, I don't design my adventures that way.

However, even if I don't design the adventure in such ways, some antagonist NPC's who have a personal gripe with the PCs will attempt to strike them where it hurts. Their reputations. Their loved ones. Their possessions. Their faith.

And if a scheming devil, or an experienced succubus sees a possibility to maneuver the Pally into a situation where he seems to have the choice between falling and failing... trust me, it will do its very best.


VM, here is the thing... Imagine there's a situation like the following...

A Paladin is transporting a bunch of freed slaves (or something like that). They were slaves for the King/Local Noble/Random-Authority-Figure-With-Lots-of-Political-Influence.
Well, night fall (or the sun rises... whatever you find it to be a more appropriate time to hide the refugees...) and the Paladin decides to hide the bunch in a random house, basement, tavern, whatever. Then someone knocks at the door, "Open the door or I'll break in!" they shout.
Paladin tells the refugees to hide and open the door. Guard, who is aware that slaves are trying to escape asks the Paladin if he has seen the slaves, or if anyone who's trying to hide/help them.

What should the Paladin do? Say "I don't have to answer your questions! Get out!" and probably anger the guard, most likely making him decide to search the house (remember, neither the Pally nor the refugees are likely to be very good at Stealth)? Kill/hurt the guard who is just doing his job when a simple "No, I haven't." with a high Cha could have sufficed? Delivered the refugees saying something like "Well, it's the law..."?

Lying should not be the Paladin's prefered method, it shouldn't be his first, second or third choice and he shouldn't do it for profit or self interest.
He shouldn't try and convince a merchant that a gem is worth more than it actually is just so he can afford a Holy Avenger.
He shouldn't lie just so people think he's a greater person than he is or to convince some cute barmaid to lay with him.

But when his the guard asks him if he saw those children, he shouldn't tell the truth out of fear of falling... If he lies, he falls, if he tells the truth, he falls. That's a lose/lose situation.

IMHO, following the code to the letter at the expense of others is a lot more Evil than lying. "Well, you see... I'd like to save you, but my god forbids me from lying... So, well, good luck in the dungeon... I would help you escape, but my god also tells me to follow the law... And technically, even if you're innocent, you've been legally condemned... Sorry. But don't worry, they say those rusty chains are pretty comfortable whe you get used to them. And the cold stone floors are good for your spine".

A Paladin who refrains from doing good because of his code is not a good Paladin IMO, he should always value Good above Law. He has no Detect Chaos or Smite Chaos. He's not even forbidden from associating with Chaotic creatures. He's there to fight Evil.


VM mercenario wrote:

I agree with Alzrius. I would like to play a paladin in pming campaing, cause that is pretty much how I view paladins.

Lemmy, the paladin you DM for, mine, IS acting like he was in a campaing by pming. Not afraid of atoning, already praying and planning to hit the church for more praying for mercy killing those guys that were to changed to save, trying to sidequest to seek justice for that village of lizardman, trying to find a new home for the morlocks, trying to rehabilitate the golems into society...
And weren't you playing a druid? The pally was the backup until we got more players, and he didn't even get to any scenes were those kinds of moral quandaries would appear. That comes later in the campaign. If he does come back to the campaign we might need to talk about his code and stuff. At the very least I can assure that I would never make a lose lose situation for a paladin, there would be a third and even fourth choice hidden if the paladin looks for it.
On the part of lying, a paladin should never lie. Noone says anything about misdirection, omission and half truths. Don't say "I didn't see any pickpocketing children" if you did, say "I didn't see anyone pickpocketing" because you might have seen them but you didn't see them in the act of stealing. And if she does look fat just say "You are just as beautiful to me as the day we met." no need to lie, and with good enough diplomacy she won't even notice you didn't actually answer.

This sounds like a lawful neutral attitude to me. following the letter of the law instead of the intent. If you interpret it like that, its very easy to get around the paladin code. "help those in need" could mean using lay on hands once then leaving an innocent guy to die(you helped him after all). Punish those who harm innocents could mean giving someone a slap on the wrists when he kills an innocent person.

IMO, a paladin should seek to honor in the intent of the code(don't decieve others) just as much as the specific wording.


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I'd be interested in a setting where every word paladins speak is viewed with suspicion and distrust because it is widely known that paladins constantly speak in half-truths, lies of omission, literal exact wording trickery, and other "Vader killed your father"-style deceptions that are pretty much equivalent to lies.


Lemmy wrote:

VM, here is the thing... Imagine there's a situation like the following...

A Paladin is transporting a bunch of freed slaves (or something like that). They were slaves for the King/Local Noble/Random-Authority-Figure-With-Lots-of-Political-Influence.
Well, night fall (or the sun rises... whatever you find it to be a more appropriate time to hide the refugees...) and the Paladin decides to hide the bunch in a random house, basement, tavern, whatever. Then someone knocks at the door, "Open the door or I'll break in!" they shout.
Paladin tells the refugees to hide and open the door. Guard, who is aware that slaves are trying to escape asks the Paladin if he has seen the slaves, or if anyone who's trying to hide/help them.

What should the Paladin do? Say "I don't have to answer your questions! Get out!" and probably anger the guard, most likely making him decide to search the house (remember, neither the Pally nor the refugees are likely to be very good at Stealth)? Kill/hurt the guard who is just doing his job when a simple "No, I haven't." with a high Cha could have sufficed? Delivered the refugees saying something like "Well, it's the law..."?

Lying should not be the Paladin's prefered method, it shouldn't be his first, second or third choice and he shouldn't do it for profit or self interest.
He shouldn't try and convince a merchant that a gem is worth more than it actually is just so he can afford a Holy Avenger.
He shouldn't lie just so people think he's a greater person than he is or to convince some cute barmaid to lay with him.

But when his the guard asks him if he saw those children, he shouldn't tell the truth out of fear of falling... If he lies, he falls, if he tells the truth, he falls. That's a lose/lose situation.

IMHO, following the code to the letter at the expense of others is a lot more Evil than lying. "Well, you see... I'd like to save you, but my god forbids me from lying... So, well, good luck in the dungeon... I would help you escape, but my god also tells me to...

I agree. And I think falling does not mean the paladin has done something immoral. In fact, I look at falling to protect others as self-sacrifice(gold and temporary loss of power). However, its why a paladin isn't a good choice for a campaign that involves deception.

The developers could have provided paladins with a "for the greater good" exception. They didn't(although they providing antipaladins with a code exception,so its not something they simply forget about). Now, if you want to create houserules to avoid this , thats understandable.


Roberta Yang wrote:
I'd be interested in a setting where every word paladins speak is viewed with suspicion and distrust because it is widely known that paladins constantly speak in half-truths, lies of omission, literal exact wording trickery, and other "Vader killed your father"-style deceptions that are pretty much equivalent to lies.

I agree. I think it would be interesting if the alignment requirement were removed but the code were kept in place. You could play a neutral or even evil character who views the code as a way to acquire power.


Lemmy wrote:

VM, here is the thing... Imagine there's a situation like the following...

A Paladin is transporting a bunch of freed slaves (or something like that). They were slaves for the King/Local Noble/Random-Authority-Figure-With-Lots-of-Political-Influence.
Well, night fall (or the sun rises... whatever you find it to be a more appropriate time to hide the refugees...) and the Paladin decides to hide the bunch in a random house, basement, tavern, whatever. Then someone knocks at the door, "Open the door or I'll break in!" they shout.
Paladin tells the refugees to hide and open the door. Guard, who is aware that slaves are trying to escape asks the Paladin if he has seen the slaves, or if anyone who's trying to hide/help them.

What should the Paladin do? Say "I don't have to answer your questions! Get out!" and probably anger the guard, most likely making him decide to search the house (remember, neither the Pally nor the refugees are likely to be very good at Stealth)? Kill/hurt the guard who is just doing his job when a simple "No, I haven't." with a high Cha could have sufficed? Delivered the refugees saying something like "Well, it's the law..."?

Lying should not be the Paladin's prefered method, it shouldn't be his first, second or third choice and he shouldn't do it for profit or self interest.
He shouldn't try and convince a merchant that a gem is worth more than it actually is just so he can afford a Holy Avenger.
He shouldn't lie just so people think he's a greater person than he is or to convince some cute barmaid to lay with him.

But when his the guard asks him if he saw those children, he shouldn't tell the truth out of fear of falling... If he lies, he falls, if he tells the truth, he falls. That's a lose/lose situation.

IMHO, following the code to the letter at the expense of others is a lot more Evil than lying. "Well, you see... I'd like to save you, but my god forbids me from lying... So, well, good luck in the dungeon... I would help you escape, but my god also tells me to...

Knock him out. Non-lethal damage is a thing that exists. Weird, huh?

Dark Archive

From the text that says "a paladin who wilfully commits an evil act, or" it seems very clear that a single evil act is enough to make a paladin fall. Not all requirements must be met, only one which is why it says "or" not "and."

I do like the poster who said that if you have to ask if the paladin should fall, he doesn't. Burning down an orphanage for fun is surely a single qualifying act for which it shouldn't matter if the GM warned the player or not.


VM mercenario wrote:
Knock him out. Non-lethal damage is a thing that exists. Weird, huh?

So punching people in the face is okay s long as they don't die? But lying to save innocents is not?

And if so... What if the paladin is outclassed? The guard is unlikely to go on patrol alone. And the resulting battle, not only more innocents could get hurt (but, hey, they are not dead, so that's fine!) but it has a pretty big chance to call attention over the Paladin and his refugess. Especially since he's hitting freaking city guards!

And isn't hitting guards against the law? Isn't that Chaotic?
Isn't hitting innocent men on the head just because they are an incovenience an Evil act?

Are those justified? So whys isn't lying?


VM mercenario wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

VM, here is the thing... Imagine there's a situation like the following...

A Paladin is transporting a bunch of freed slaves (or something like that). They were slaves for the King/Local Noble/Random-Authority-Figure-With-Lots-of-Political-Influence.
Well, night fall (or the sun rises... whatever you find it to be a more appropriate time to hide the refugees...) and the Paladin decides to hide the bunch in a random house, basement, tavern, whatever. Then someone knocks at the door, "Open the door or I'll break in!" they shout.
Paladin tells the refugees to hide and open the door. Guard, who is aware that slaves are trying to escape asks the Paladin if he has seen the slaves, or if anyone who's trying to hide/help them.

What should the Paladin do? Say "I don't have to answer your questions! Get out!" and probably anger the guard, most likely making him decide to search the house (remember, neither the Pally nor the refugees are likely to be very good at Stealth)? Kill/hurt the guard who is just doing his job when a simple "No, I haven't." with a high Cha could have sufficed? Delivered the refugees saying something like "Well, it's the law..."?

Lying should not be the Paladin's prefered method, it shouldn't be his first, second or third choice and he shouldn't do it for profit or self interest.
He shouldn't try and convince a merchant that a gem is worth more than it actually is just so he can afford a Holy Avenger.
He shouldn't lie just so people think he's a greater person than he is or to convince some cute barmaid to lay with him.

But when his the guard asks him if he saw those children, he shouldn't tell the truth out of fear of falling... If he lies, he falls, if he tells the truth, he falls. That's a lose/lose situation.

IMHO, following the code to the letter at the expense of others is a lot more Evil than lying. "Well, you see... I'd like to save you, but my god forbids me from lying... So, well, good luck in the dungeon... I would help you escape, but my

...

This could very likely result in more guards investigating the area as their friend failed to report back in. Or, maybe you fail to kill him in one blow and he uses his turn to let the other guards know something is up.


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Let's start a fistfight with nazi guards in a house where refugees are hiding! I see no flaws in this plan.

Dark Archive

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From the hiding people from the guards example, I think this is an example where NOT lying would be an evil act.
As such, I'd not have the Paladin fall from this single lie so long as he cleansed himself afterwards.

Grand Lodge

It's pretty simple actually, any evil act and the paladin falls. No discussion. Alignment of lawful is where the DM and player should be discussing things. The phyla terry of faithfulness allows a DM to tell the player that what he is doing is about to be an evil act or against his deities wishes. It's that simple. If paladins are not confronted with the notion that he could fall then the DM isn't doing his job right. Look at most if not all heroes in the modern day. How many of the good heroes do not worry at times if they are making the wrong decisions and constantly staying aware that he has to strive to be good. Its not easy to be lawful good and you fail all the time. How many heroes actually fall. If your campaign has a paladin and he isn't constantly proving his faith and repenting for his sins, and constantly fighting to stay righteous what's the point of the class.


"If your paladin doesn't spend half the campaign with no class features then what's the point of the class?"

Grand Lodge

Roberta Yang wrote:
"If your paladin doesn't spend half the campaign with no class features then what's the point of the class?"

Exactly!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Usually this is the type of situation which calls for a combination of distraction and delaying tactics while your teammates smuggle the refugees to safety.

This may involve a heroic sacrifice. But that's part of the job description.


Eugene Nelson wrote:
If your campaign has a paladin and he isn't constantly proving his faith and repenting for his sins, and constantly fighting to stay righteous what's the point of the class.

Smite Evil+super weapon booster+swift action self heal+cool utility spells?

Shadow Lodge

Eugene Nelson wrote:
It's pretty simple actually, any evil act and the paladin falls.

For centuries, philosophers, authors, poets, politicians, and common men have been struggling with a fundamental problem: What is Evil? Was Eichmann evil? Was dropping the bomb on Japan evil? Are the criminally insane evil? Is war evil? Is death evil?

One of the fundamental problems with determining falling is determining what is evil. The very fact that people have been discussing it since at least the dawn of writing implies that it is not "pretty simple."

It's great to have your voice in the debate, and I'm glad that you seem to have a clear view of evil. However, I do think that you need to recognize that "What is Evil?" is not at all a simple question. Because of that, the way that Paizo (and those before them) have applied game mechanics to this overwhelmingly complex problem begs more structure then one person's view of evil.

To clarify, I don't want a discussion of "What is Evil" here. Let's keep it in the scope and mechanics of Pathfinder.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The part of this thread I like the most, other than the very insightful guidelines for judging the behavior of a paladin, is the argument between people who say "whatever you as a paladin-player and your GM work out for how Paladins should work is fine, and communication is key to make it work" and the people who say "No, that is wrong! You should do it my way, as any sane person would realize if they were really thinking about it." If you are my GM, and I want to be a paladin, and I say "what about this kind of code that allows lying for the greater good?", and you say "No, that is wrong! You should do it my way, as any sane person would realize if they were really thinking about it", you will lose a potential player. This is why communication between each GM and paladin player is essential. For those who agree with the my-way-or-the-highway crowd, then the communication between player and GM has been successful. The entire argument seems pointless assuming there is any good faith communication between player and GM :)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Broken Zenith wrote:
Eugene Nelson wrote:
It's pretty simple actually, any evil act and the paladin falls.

For centuries, philosophers, authors, poets, politicians, and common men have been struggling with a fundamental problem: What is Evil? Was Eichmann evil? Was dropping the bomb on Japan evil? Are the criminally insane evil? Is war evil? Is death evil?

Discussions of law and ethics tend to leave out the good/evil equation for very good reasons. Law and Ethics are the setting of rules of conduct. Germany and Japan lost World War 2 while the Allies won it. There for it was the Allies who determined the rules and set up standards for crimes and who would be tried by them. Much of how it played out was also how surrender was negotiated for each country, as well as specific war crimes that were charged to the losing side. (The victors weren't going to try themselves or each other.)


Broken Zenith wrote:
What is Evil?

I rather like the interpretation of "good characters believe the strong should protect the weak, evil characters believe the strong should exploit the weak."


We all know Paladin's not lying is inconvenient, that doesn't mean they should be forgiven that requirement if their code calls for it...In many social situations paladins have an advantage because they are know not to lie (many kingdom's their word is law or their testimony will decide an issue). That's because their not allowed to lie or they suffer.

As for the smuggling hostages example. Turning them in is clearly evil but I don't see the other options as problematic. Don't come to the door and hope they leave. If they don't refuse to answer questions. They still push the issue your now defending good against evil(slavers, even if slavery is the law its a law almost all paladins will consider illiget. You give them the choice to leave or you draw steel its what hero's do. If your out classed by the enemy that's fine fight a delaying action while the slaves get away. If you followed any combination of these steps you have role played the encounter quite well and only a jerk gm is going to give you a hard time regardless of how the dice fall.

Lets not also forget that most pally's even knowing they would have to atone would lie if their was truly no other option. Save innocent or suffer personal hardship is a easy choice. Rich role playing opportunity gained. As a player I'd be a little pissed if the dm set me up for that unless the group and I had brought it about through our actions but that seems a really rare scenario. Finding one situation/or a few where a dick of a gm could screw you doesn't show that lying should be allowed.


Refusing to answer would only raise the guards suspicions, and you're no good to the refugees if you are dead (especially if you attracted a bunch of attention while dying).

Why is it that stabbing someone in the face is forgivable, but lying to protect an innocent (or two, since the guard is not evil) is insta-fall?

Defending yourself from a neutral guard who is doing his job is not "protecting your self from evil". It's "resorting to violence to avoid a incovenicence, while risking the lives of the ones you're supposed to protect (plus a few other people)."

There is a reason it's Smite Evil, not Smite "Whoever-Is-In-Your-Way" or Smite "Neutral-Guy-Because-Who-is-Being-inconvenient".

But, hey... There are other possible cases, maybe you decided to infiltrate the castle of the evil wizard who mind controls the villagers. Chances are, Diplomacy won't work if they are mind controlled, but you can still trick them.
I suppose you could simply storm the castle breaking bones and cracking skulls of two dozen mind-controlled villagers, because that is a honest approach to it. But I dunno, as a LG character, I might be more inclined to go unnoticed and just kill the evil wizard.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Lemmy wrote:
Why is it that stabbing someone in the face is forgivable, but lying to protect an innocent (or two, since the guard is not evil) is insta-fall?

I don't know about stabbing being forgivable, but the reason that lying - for any reason - isn't acceptable is because the code says it isn't acceptable.

That's the point of having a code. It clearly outlines (albeit sometimes in broad guidelines) certain things that must or must not be done, regardless of circumstances. It isn't like alignment, where you can often look at the outcome of the actions to determine their ethical and moral nature; you either follow the code or you don't, regardless of circumstances.


Lemmy wrote:

Refusing to answer would only raise the guards suspicions, and you're no good to the refugees if you are dead (especially if you attracted a bunch of attention while dying).

Why is it that stabbing someone in the face is forgivable, but lying to protect an innocent (or two, since the guard is not evil) is insta-fall?

Defending yourself from a neutral guard who is doing his job is not "protecting your self from evil". It's "resorting to violence to avoid a incovenicence, while risking the lives of the ones you're supposed to protect (plus a few other people)."

There is a reason it's Smite Evil, not Smite "Whoever-Is-In-Your-Way" or Smite "Neutral-Guy-Because-Who-is-Being-inconvenient".

I think your missing the point. If your first action is to stab them then yeah that's bad. In my scenario they attack you because their suspicious that's not their right and your defending yourself. defending yourself if attacked is better then lying. Also just doing their job doesn't remove them from doing evil. A neutral person enforcing unjust laws doesn't get a free pass to do what they want. If they attack you for interfering in their work you can resist. And just because pally's have smite evil doesn't mean they can only battle evil.

Of course it would be easier to lie, it would also be easier just to ambush them and kill them with out warning or any number of other evil act that remove them as a threat(invite them in for poisoned drinks). But you rolled a pally you don't always get to chose the most expedite option. Is lying worse then defending yourself? In the real world usually but this is a fantasy setting where chars agree to play by certain rules.


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Actually, Paladins of Torag are not only allowed, but expected to lie to protect their people. But if "The Code" says they can't lie in any circumstance, should they fall no matter if they lie or tell the truth?

And if you want to go by RAW, "The Code" says that the Paladin must act in a honorable way, then proceeds to give us a few examples of what that means, but it doesn't expressly forbids lying.

IMHO, all it does is imply lying is most often goint to be against the code.

It may be me, punching random guards seems a lot more dishonorable to me.


Man I'm glad you guys' paladins weren't the ones running the underground railroads to sneak escaped slaved out of the south or jewish people out of nazi Germany because it sounds like your paladins would have been awful at it.

I'll take the guy who doesn't give away my position to the guards because his code says it would be noble to do that, thanks.


Chaos_Scion wrote:

I think your missing the point. If your first action is to stab them then yeah that's bad. In my scenario they attack you because their suspicious that's not their right and your defending yourself. defending yourself if attacked is better then lying. Also just doing their job doesn't remove them from doing evil. A neutral person enforcing unjust laws doesn't get a free pass to do what they want. If they attack you for interfering in their work you can resist. And just because pally's have smite evil doesn't mean they can only battle evil.

Of course it would be easier to lie, it would also be easier just to ambush them and kill them with out warning or any number of other evil act that remove them as a threat(invite them in for poisoned drinks). But you rolled a pally you don't always get to chose the most expedite option. Is lying worse then defending yourself? In the real world usually but this is a fantasy setting where chars agree to play by certain rules.

I think it's you who's missing my point. A guard most likely is not a guard because he thinks it's fun. He probably does it to earn some money to buy food and shelter for himself and his family.

He might not even agree with the law, but he doesn't get a free pass. People are not allowed to choose what laws they follow, least of all a fraking city guard.
Besides, pretty much everyone commits an evil act once in a while, does this give the Paladin free pass to hurt whoever he wants? "Hey, he commited... I saw him scream obscenities in front of children!".

The Paladin is not lying because it's easier. He doing it because it's most effective way to garantee his refugees will be safe. He's doing it because he doesn't want to kill those guards or die and leave the refugees without a protector. The fact that it's easy is just a bonus. if he trully was just doing what it easier, he wouldn't be escorting the refugees in the first place.

Like I said, lying should never be a Paladin's first, second or even third choice to consider when deciding which course of action to follow, but it should be considered.

Star Voter 2014

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Midnight_Angel wrote:

I must admit, the so-called 'Most important rule: Did you warn him?' is the one I disagree with.

A Paladin who gains an audience with the Crown Princess, and runs her through before she can finish the sentence of 'Welcome, hero of *urgh*' because, well, the player felt that 'this b#?ch was going to betray us anyway' will fall so hard he reaches terminal velocity before impacting on the floor.

Here's how that would go down if I were GMing:

Paladin: "I attack the princess!"

GM: "... Seriously?"

Paladin: "Yeah, you know this b#?ch is going to betray us anyway!"

GM: "OK, roll init, and don't forget your lack of any paladin powers."

"... Seriously?" would be the warning in this case. It's a question of GMing style really I suppose, and how good of a feel for each other you have with your group, but with everyone I play with, it's generally understood that if the GM stops to double check if you're joking, there are negative consequences to what you are suggesting obvious enough that following through would be out of character.

Although really, that particular example strikes me as extreme enough that rather than the paladin falling being on the line, what would follow here is a very serious discussion about disruptive play (well, assuming betrayal by yonder princess wasn't actually inevitable at any rate).


Lemmy wrote:


Besides, pretty much everyone commits an evil act once in a while, does this give the Paladin free pass to hurt whoever he wants? "Hey, he commited... I saw him scream obscenities in front of children!".

But that example is wrong. Obscenities may not be nice but not evil. I don't believe in "evil" such as being a jerk makes you evil. I believe that being Evil is required.


Lemmy@ My point is that your not attacking the guards because they are good, evil, or neutral. You are refusing to answer a question they ask you. Then if they attempt to use force to make you, you can defend yourself. the fact that your refusal may lead to violence isn't the same as walking up to them and stabbing them in the face. What their alignment is doesn't matter if they attack you. Even if another pally attacks you for what ever reason you could use force to defend yourself. And the guard following orders isn't a defense to anything. It might protect him from legal repercussions but not from your pally swinging back.


Lemmy wrote:
VM mercenario wrote:
Knock him out. Non-lethal damage is a thing that exists. Weird, huh?

So punching people in the face is okay s long as they don't die? But lying to save innocents is not?

And if so... What if the paladin is outclassed? The guard is unlikely to go on patrol alone. And the resulting battle, not only more innocents could get hurt (but, hey, they are not dead, so that's fine!) but it has a pretty big chance to call attention over the Paladin and his refugess. Especially since he's hitting freaking city guards!

And isn't hitting guards against the law? Isn't that Chaotic?
Isn't hitting innocent men on the head just because they are an incovenience an Evil act?

Are those justified? So whys isn't lying?

Yes. Even Captain America can knock out corrupt cops and soldiers so paladins can too. Don't lie, say nothing. Let the rest of the party do the talking on this one. Why are we assuming paladins exist in a vacuum? The sole reason paladins hang out with neutral rogues and bards is so someone else can do the bluffing when needed.

And don't start with the chaotic stuff, if he had to break the slaves to freedom he is already breaking laws, and in that case Good trumps Lawful. With paladins Good should always trump Lawful. If he had freed the slaves in a lawful fashion the guards would have no right to pursue them anyway.

Edit: and no, lying wouldn't be enough to make a paladin fall, and lying for that reason could be excused if your paladin really felt he shouldn't fight, but I would want at least a penitent attittude right after he closed the door. A whispered 'may [insert god] forgive me for my lies and deceit' would be good roleplay.


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@Chaos Scion: That particular example was purposely silly, but you got my point. Maybe he punched his brother once... Maybe he didn't tell the cashier the change was wrong. .

Chaos_Scion wrote:
Lemmy@ My point is that your not attacking the guards because they are good, evil, or neutral. You are refusing to answer a question they ask you. Then if they attempt to use force to make you, you can defend yourself. the fact that your refusal may lead to violence isn't the same as walking up to them and stabbing them in the face. What their alignment is doesn't matter if they attack you. Even if another pally attacks you for what ever reason you could use force to defend yourself. And the guard following orders isn't a defense to anything. It might protect him from legal repercussions but not from your pally swinging back.

The problem is, unless Mr.Pally No-Lie is completelly stupid, he knows what will most likely happen if he doesn't answer. He knows the guards will come in and search the house. No guard will just say "Well... Okay, if you don't want to answer." and eave. And the Paladin knows that.

Saying "he started!" doesn't make hitting people in the face more acceptable when you are talking about law enforcers doing what they are supposed to do... enforcing the law!
By choosing to incite the guard to break in, you decided that attracting attention to the place where the refugees are hiding was not as acceptable. Even if the Paladin easily defeats the guards dealing only non-lethal damage, he still made sure to attract a lot of atention over himself AND his refugees.
He decided his code was more important than the safety and well-being of innocents (refugees, guards and possibly bystanders too). That's LE or, at the very least, LN in my book.

And what about the other situations? Shoud he punch mind-controlled villagers instead of simply telling them he's the new guard? Or tell his wife she does look fat as a morse? Should he tell the sick child she will probably starve or be killed in these times of war?

What good are Paladins for if you can't count on them to be good? What's the purpose of the Paladin's code if it stops the Paladin from doing the most good?

Silver Crusade

The rules for falling should be a warning to players that they better be able to role play The goody two shoes, and should be a roleplaying oprotunity, it should not be a license for a DM to torture a paladin player. When a lawful good fighter comes to the table, and after half way into it, I say to him, "I think you really should have rolled a neutral good character instead", That is the same instance I would say, "Hay mr paladin, you can fall". See, that's not even falling, that's the verbal warning right there.

Also, where I am more strict is that the paladin isn't going to "guard the door while the rogue interrogates the prisoners". There may be times where, yes this is legit, but all too often, I see the paladin, "volunteer" for this when it's not needed and you know the paladin is just being distracted so he doesn't fall due to the rogue's misdeeds.

One strike and you're out is absolutely no way to run a table. Nor is putting the paladin in the fire because they have more to lose. Why not make it so that more barbarians have to commit lawful acts to achieve their goals, and then take away their rages at the drop of a hat? This is all just silly talk.


Lemmy wrote:

VM, here is the thing... Imagine there's a situation like the following...

A Paladin is transporting a bunch of freed slaves (or something like that). They were slaves for the King/Local Noble/Random-Authority-Figure-With-Lots-of-Political-Influence.
Well, night fall (or the sun rises... whatever you find it to be a more appropriate time to hide the refugees...) and the Paladin decides to hide the bunch in a random house, basement, tavern, whatever. Then someone knocks at the door, "Open the door or I'll break in!" they shout.
Paladin tells the refugees to hide and open the door. Guard, who is aware that slaves are trying to escape asks the Paladin if he has seen the slaves, or if anyone who's trying to hide/help them.

What should the Paladin do? Say "I don't have to answer your questions! Get out!" and probably anger the guard, most likely making him decide to search the house (remember, neither the Pally nor the refugees are likely to be very good at Stealth)? Kill/hurt the guard who is just doing his job when a simple "No, I haven't." with a high Cha could have sufficed? Delivered the refugees saying something like "Well, it's the law..."?

Lying should not be the Paladin's prefered method, it shouldn't be his first, second or third choice and he shouldn't do it for profit or self interest.
He shouldn't try and convince a merchant that a gem is worth more than it actually is just so he can afford a Holy Avenger.
He shouldn't lie just so people think he's a greater person than he is or to convince some cute barmaid to lay with him.

But when his the guard asks him if he saw those children, he shouldn't tell the truth out of fear of falling... If he lies, he falls, if he tells the truth, he falls. That's a lose/lose situation.

IMHO, following the code to the letter at the expense of others is a lot more Evil than lying. "Well, you see... I'd like to save you, but my god forbids me from lying... So, well, good luck in the dungeon... I would help you escape, but my god also tells me to...

A very simple "No, I have not." (They are no longer slaves, the Paladin has liberated them.)

PS. Someone tell me where it says a Paladin can't lie.


Vod Canockers wrote:
PS. Someone tell me where it says a Paladin can't lie.

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

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents."


RumpinRufus wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
PS. Someone tell me where it says a Paladin can't lie.

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

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

I missed that, but hey based upon the end there, I guess our Paladin trying to protect the slaves gets to slaughter the city guards, assuming the slaves are innocents.


Vod Canockers wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
PS. Someone tell me where it says a Paladin can't lie.

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

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

I missed that, but hey based upon the end there, I guess our Paladin trying to protect the slaves gets to slaughter the city guards, assuming the slaves are innocents.

Not slaughter - why does everyone forget about nonlethal damage? Nonlethal is the paladin's best friend, it has basically all the positive effects of lethal damage with almost no risk of acting dishonorably or evilly.


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RumpinRufus wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
I missed that, but hey based upon the end there, I guess our Paladin trying to protect the slaves gets to slaughter the city guards, assuming the slaves are innocents.
Not slaughter - why does everyone forget about nonlethal damage? Nonlethal is the paladin's best friend, it has basically all the positive effects of lethal damage with almost no risk of acting dishonorably or evilly.

Sure, why not attract even more attention to the hiding place of the refugees? Why not punch the guard who is just doing his job. Violence is okay as long as noone gets killed, right? No problem giving a concussion to the guard.

As Roberta put so simply:

"Let's start a fistfight with nazi guards in a house where refugees are hiding! I see no flaws in this plan."


Lemmy wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
I missed that, but hey based upon the end there, I guess our Paladin trying to protect the slaves gets to slaughter the city guards, assuming the slaves are innocents.
Not slaughter - why does everyone forget about nonlethal damage? Nonlethal is the paladin's best friend, it has basically all the positive effects of lethal damage with almost no risk of acting dishonorably or evilly.

Sure, why not attract even more attention to the hiding place of the refugees? Why not punch the guard who is just doing his job. Violence is okay as long as noone gets killed, right? No problem giving a concussion to the guard.

As Roberta put so simply:

"Let's start a fistfight with nazi guards in a house where refugees are hiding! I see no flaws in this plan."

Paladins cannot break their vows out of expedience - that's what makes them vows. The paladin has several good options:

1) Say nothing. Let others do the talking.
2) Use an evasive answer, or distract the guards with something else.
3) Knock out the guards, then relocate the refugees.
4) Knock out the guards, then Lesser Geas them into reporting that nothing was amiss.

Lying is a violation of the paladin code, and while a single instance of lying in a situation like this isn't grounds for falling, if it became a pattern it would be. Part of being a paladin is having a code, and part of having a code is that you cannot break it, even for the greater good.


VM mercenario wrote:
Yes. Even Captain America can knock out corrupt cops and soldiers so paladins can too. Don't lie, say nothing. Let the rest of the party do the talking on this one. Why are we assuming paladins exist in a vacuum? The sole reason paladins hang out with neutral rogues and bards is so someone else can do the bluffing when needed.

While I think that's an acceptable solution some times, I don't think it should be something a Paladin can rely on. "You see, I can't use poison or lie, so I conveniently allied myself with a TN ninja so he can do all that stuff for me. That's what I call following The Code!"

What's the point of not lying if you let others lie for you? What's the point of not killing if you let people kill for you?
The problem with lying is not so much the spread of false information as deception of others. Otherwise, a Paladin could fall simply for being mistaken ("Paladin: North is that way!" GM: "Sorry, you actually failed your Survival check, that's East. You fall.")

And besides, who said the guard is corrupt? He doing what he's supposed to do. That's pretty much the opposite of corruption. A guard is not supposed to ignore the law because he doesn't like it. He arrests the refugges because if he let them go, he's risking losing his job and probably going to jail himself.
The King/Local Noble/Guard's Superior in Command/Whatever may be evil, but that doesn't mean the guard is. A Paladin shouldn't expect everyone to adhere to his code.

VM mercenario wrote:

And don't start with the chaotic stuff, if he had to break the slaves to freedom he is already breaking laws, and in that case Good trumps Lawful. With paladins Good should always trump Lawful. If he had freed the slaves in a lawful fashion the guards would have no right to pursue them anyway.

Edit: and no, lying wouldn't be enough to make a paladin fall, and lying for that reason could be excused if your paladin really felt he shouldn't fight, but I would want at least a penitent attittude right after he closed the door. A whispered 'may [insert god] forgive me for my lies and deceit' would be good roleplay.

That's pretty much what I've been saying all this time.

Except I don't think he should feel guilty. Sure, he shouldn't like doing it, but he has no reason to feel guilty. He saved a lot of innocents without a single act of violence.
Paladins are warriors, not bullies. Violence should not be his first choice of action. IMHO, a Paladin should see violence (and lying, and poison, and whatever else) as a something that should be avoided, unless there is absolutely no other effective way to protect the life and well being of innocents.

A Paladin should not enjoy lying. He shouldn't consider it an usual strategy. He shouldn't do if for profit or self interest.
He should do it only when that's the most effective way to protect innocents.
Lying to guards to protect refugees? Ok! Lying to guards to escape from a night in jail after participating in a bar brawl? Not okay. Even if he fought only in self defense.

Remember, the Paladin's God is probably Good too. Not a divine jerk trying to screw the Paladin at the first chance he gets.


Talking about expedience and good-isn't-always-easy is nice when the paladin's life is the only one in danger.

It stops making sense when you start thinking how best to explain to the refugee escaped slaves' families that man I'd have loved to tell the guards your loved ones weren't hiding in that house but that would be dishonorable so instead I just offered the guards a cup of coffee hoping they would totally forget what they were doing due to my genius delaying tactic and then started beating them up so they called more guards and anyhow the point is sometimes the path of righteousness isn't an easy one and that's why your relatives didn't make it.

I'm the hero!


Lemmy wrote:
What's the point of not lying if you let others lie for you? What's the point of not killing if you let people kill for you?

The point of not lying is that all paladins never lie. If you hear a paladin say something, you know he thinks it's true. If paladins could ignore their vows and start lying because they think being good means they no longer need to be lawful, then suddenly the word of a paladin, which used to be gold, suddenly becomes worthless.

Lemmy wrote:
The problem with lying is not so much the spread of false information as deception of others. Otherwise, a Paladin could fall simply for being mistaken ("Paladin: North is that way!" GM: "Sorry, you actually failed your Survival check, that's East. You fall.")

A mistaken statement is not a lie.

dictionary.com wrote:

lie

noun
1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.


If we're going to be getting definitional here then a lie of omission is also a lie, so your evasive answers aren't allowed either.


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RumpinRufus wrote:
Paladins cannot break their vows out of expedience - that's what makes them vows. The paladin has several good options:

Again, Good before Lawful. Vows are okay as long as they don't stop you from doing Good. Vows are there to make the Paladin a better person, not a shady silver-tongued snake who only speaks in riddles and half truths.

RumpinRufus wrote:


1) Say nothing. Let others do the talking.
2) Use an evasive answer, or distract the guards with something else.
3) Knock out the guards, then relocate the refugees.
4) Knock out the guards, then Lesser Geas them into reporting that nothing was amiss.

1- That may not always be a viable tactic. Maybe the party doesn't have a Bard (Paladin/Wizard/Druid/Ranger is a very possible team). Maybe the Paladin is alone.

2- So the Paladin thinks omissions and half-truths are that much more acceptable than lies... Huh, suddenly he sounds a lot more like a Devil than a Paladin.
3- Again. Attracts attention to where the refugees are and brings harm to a innocent guard.
4- This one not only has the same problems of #3, but it's also a lot more difficult (where does the paladin get Lesser Geas?) and mind controlling people is pretty dishonorable in my view. Lying is insta-fall, but violence+mind control+forcing people to lie for you is not?

RumpinRufus wrote:


Lying is a violation of the paladin code, and while a single instance of lying in a situation like this isn't grounds for falling, if it became a pattern it would be.

Agreed.

RumpinRufus wrote:
Part of being a paladin is having a code, and part of having a code is that you cannot break it, even for the greater good.

Can't agree with this one. Paladins should value Good and the well being/safety of innocents above his code.

If he has to choose between Good and Order, Good should win every time!


Roberta Yang wrote:
If we're going to be getting definitional here then a lie of omission is also a lie, so your evasive answers aren't allowed either.

No lies of ommision are not lies, they considered lies but they aren't.

Same way Anti-Paladin as a Chaotic person should have no code of conduct as that is a lawful trait. Yet, they do have a code that isn't considered a Code of conduct so they can be chaotic.

So lies by ommision are not lies just considered that way by lay people.

"Also known as a continuing misrepresentation, a lie by omission occurs when an important fact is left out in order to foster a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions"

Why is your duty to clear up all misconceptions? You aren't lying, you just aren't making sure they know all info: it is on a need to know basis.

Misrepresentation: A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth.
No lie, but some info left out.

Neither is a real lie.

Another not lie: A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, to avoid awkward questions.

Someone once said:
The difference is that when one lies, not only are they hiding the truth but furthermore submitting another lie to be believed as truth; whereas no such effort is taken by omittion.

Further:
The main definition of "lie" in any dictionary is, in essence: a false statement made knowingly and deliberately.[u] A lie is something you say, not something you don't say.[/u]

People are confusing two concepts here, one the practice of communicating false information (lying) and dishonest. Dishonesty would include omission.

So is the Paladin lying no. Is he not honest yes. Lucky his code says nothing about being honest but he has to not Lie.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
What's the point of not lying if you let others lie for you? What's the point of not killing if you let people kill for you?
The point of not lying is that all paladins never lie. If you hear a paladin say something, you know he thinks it's true. If paladins could ignore their vows and start lying because they think being good means they no longer need to be lawful, then suddenly the word of a paladin, which used to be gold, suddenly becomes worthless.

Actually, if he tells the truth 99% of the time, with the other 1% being times when he needed to do so in order to save a life... I''m pretty sure his word is still gold. And so is his heart.

RumpinRufus wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
The problem with lying is not so much the spread of false information as deception of others. Otherwise, a Paladin could fall simply for being mistaken ("Paladin: North is that way!" GM: "Sorry, you actually failed your Survival check, that's East. You fall.")

A mistaken statement is not a lie.

dictionary.com wrote:

lie

noun
1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

I never said it was. Read my post again if you misunderstood. My point is that not doing evil (like, let's say... lying or killing) is not really virtuous if you have someone who does it for you all the time.

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

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A paladin's code is uncompromising. It requires absolute dedication. Violations cause penalties, and extreme or repeated violations can result in complete loss of status and abilities. This dedication to conduct is never a burden to a paladin. It is a privilege and source of (justifiable) pride. As the embodiment of the highest standards of behavior, a paladin is gifted with abilities beyond a normal person because of his devotion. If a player even tries to rationalize breaking a code of conduct, he should be warned, ONCE. If a player has a problem with understanding that, they should not play a paladin. Any player who tries to bully a GM by threatening to leave unless they get to play a character who can ignore their code of conduct, shouldn't be allowed to play, and they wouldn't be playing a paladin if they did.

Playing a paladin character isn't about being perfect all the time, it's about following a path and calling (which happens to be rewarded) and sometimes messing up, but striving to do it right. It is punishing to lose your abilities, because you're supposed to be punished, but it's really easy to atone for honest mistakes, and even less honest ones can be atoned for with effort. Having to make an effort to play a character is not a punishment.

It's not complicated, as stated elsewhere, a paladin's code might contain additional tenets, but will always amount to respect legitimate authority, act with honor, help those in need, etc. Basically, it's a code of Courtesy, Honesty, Valor, and Honor.

In Lemmy's slavery issue, if the slavery not illegal, harsh, or unjust... such as hard labor being the punishment for criminals. The paladin shouldn't be freeing criminals. If they are just slaves, and slavery isn't illegal where he is, the paladin (if bothered by slavery) can attempt to purchase their freedom, either with money, goods, or services (though not acts that forward evil). Maybe the slavers use the money to buy better weapons or manacles and they will get more slaves later, but unless they're actively hurting or starving the slaves (and few slavers are going to ruin their own goods), which means they're evil and can be punished, stealing the slaves away isn't necessarily the first situation a paladin would find himself in.

Did the paladin attempt to free the slaves legally? Did he offer to buy them? Did he speak to the slave-owner and attempt to sway his decision with an honest, diplomatic approach or explanation of his beliefs about slavery? These actions are fine if slavery in the area is just, permitted, or at least, the paladin can't prove it unjust yet.

Since most examples and problems posed seem to be stemming from a paladin's willingness or refusal to lie, bluff, or deceive we can just focus on the Honesty aspect of a paladin.

A paladin always tell the truth as he knows it. He may decline to speak or choose to withhold information, but he will never intentionally mislead anyone, even his enemies. He may ask permission not to answer a direct question, but if pressed, he'll tell the truth (however, he may frame his answers in such a was as to withhold vital information). A paladin does not make promises lightly, once he gives his word, he keep it.

Sir Geffen has been captured by an evil army. The commander demands to know the whereabouts of the paladin's companions. Sir Geffen says nothing.
"My spies inform me that your colleagues plan to arrive at King Relhane's castle by dawn tomorrow," says the commander. "Is this true?"
The commanders information is accurate, but Geffen remains silent.
"If you say nothing, I will conclude that I am correct."
"You may conclude whatever you wish," says Geffen.

Sir Geffen's companion, Prevost, asks about his performance in battle. Geffen believes he fought ineptly.
"With your permission," says Geffen, "I prefer not to answer."
"Please," insists Prevost. "I want to know."
Geffen looks him in the eyes. "Very well. You allowed an opponent to escape. You dropped your sword at a crucial moment. Your performance was poor."
Prevost glowers at Geffen, then angrily stomps away.

Sir Geffen's wife tries on a new gown which is the latest fashion.
"Does this dress make me look fat?" she asks.
"With your permission," he says, "I prefer not to answer."
She obviously presses, being a woman.
"It's not the most flattering to you," or any one of a dozen honest answers in no way meant to insult or hurt.
She takes it the wrong way and acts hurt, making Geffen's life harder, but later he summons a mount from thin air and causes healing energy to radiate from his fingertips because he didn't lose his paladin abilities by telling a lie.

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