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Should Clerics have a codified Code of Conduct?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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If your group's idea of the game involves clerics having to behave in ways suited to their deity, you can either agree on relevant specific codes of conduct and what they entail, or you can wing it based on what feels right to the players and GM. My own strong preference is for the former, but it seems to me that either can work well so long as everyone is on the same page, and that most of the objections from any direction seem to boil down to people either experiencing inconsistencies or worrying about encountering inconsistencies in how that will be played or interpreted.

It's very tempting, though I'm not sure how helpful it is, to frame the basic underlying dichotomy as being about whether your player group is Lawful or Chaotic.


A god might not have a very explicit code of conduct. However, a particular temple or diocese (whatever regional organization there may be) might have one that could be strict. Certain observances and clothing styles and contributions (!) may be expected and lack of conformity penalized, especially in any order-oriented religious group. Also, there could be governmental requirements, for example, in Cheliax, any non-diabolic might be required to wear clear identification or face arrest.

I mean its an RPG; the rulebooks shouldn't have to specify everything.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


There are several spells (no, they aren't [Evil] spells) and options we can't take simply because our Paladin PC would fall for condoning the act of using such spells. For example, our Wizard can't use Fire spells indoors because it would burn stuff down and he'd be held accountable for the things we destroy. Similarly, we can't execute detained enemies, even if they could pose a problem later down the road that may end up making things worse because "it's not right." To say that the code doesn't pose some sort of problem or conflict in-game that requires ingenuity to overcome is just outright false.

I'll be level with you. Who actually does that? Even in the grand tradition of people just making up the worst case stick-up-the-butt paladin stories, I've never seen anyone argue against fireball throwing.

That aside, if someone wants to be a disruptive jerk at the table (aka what was described), they don't need a code to do that. Some LG Fighter can pull that same nonsense just like the CN rogue can decide to just crossbow the king in the face cuz lolborednow. "I'm just playing my alignment guys!"

Majority of people get by fine with the written paladin code. It's not some arcane wet blanket that everyone needs to figure out how to work around unless either the GM or any of the varying PCs make it their personal problem.

The idea is that the foundation is part of the city, and if we burn it down we'd be considered arsonists, as well as inadvertently murder several innocents in said foundation, both of which is illegal and immoral.

So, yeah, no Fireballs in city-sanctioned areas.

I wasn't asking for ways to fenagle a reason for a paladin to be a jerk. Any person with sufficient time and will can do that. I was asking for who actually does that. Even on these boards, where the wizards are all presumed to be bleeding edge optimized and the paladins fall for taking a surprise round, I haven't seen anything like that, let alone in actual games.

And even if you have seen that in a game (condolences by the way), that still doesn't get to the core issue that it's not a code issue, it's a player being a jerk issue.


Daw wrote:
You know, I would be OK with more concrete codes of conduct associated with the domains that a cleric has taken. Has anyone done any work on something like this?

Interesting idea, but I'm not sure I could rationalize having the same code of conduct applied to fire domain clerics of Pyrona, CE Goddess of Arson, and Radia, LG Goddess of the Sun. They're likely to have vastly different takes on the appropriate use of/respect for fire.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

That being said, they might as well not further give Clerics codes for two reasons. The first is for legacy purposes; only Paladins and Druids have a "code of conduct," and this was holdover from 3.x days. Adding them to other original classes breaks that sacred cow.

So, while it might make sense for Clerics to have a "code of conduct," for everyone's sanity and peace of mind, it's best you don't fabricate this can of worms.

Seriously... WTF? At least 2 people have quoted the exact line of Cleric rules (under 'Ex-Clerics') explicitly stating they are subject to Code of Conduct. Claiming such a rule doesn't exist is the only "fabrication" going on here.

If you don't like that rule, if you don't want to use it in play, if you don't want Paizo to flesh that out for their deities, those are legitimate personal opinions. Accusing people of fabrications for acknowledging what the rules do say is just fraud and libel. I get it if you don't like that rule you may have so long ignored it that you forgot it existed. But given more than 2 people have directly quoted it here in the thread discussing the topic, there isn't a real justification for feigning ignorance.

Show me where in the rules a given Cleric's Code of Conduct is.

Bro, do you even read?


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Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
I don't think any class should have power-loss mechanics.

While I agree in general, I think it fits divine powered classes.

After all, clerics and paladins get their abilities, spells and powers from their deity/divine source. It's not their own power, it's borrowed.

So if your power comes from a deity in exchange for worship and following their rules, it's makes sense that if you don't uphold your end of the bargain, they take away what they're providing. ie Divine power.

If your power comes from your fundamental belief in/worship of a philosophical position, then if you aren't following the tenets of that philosophy, you likely don't believe in it as strongly any more. So your ability to generate power from that belief is also compromised.

as always ymmv

that's just it they don't have to get their powers from gods, its perfectly legitimate to have a godless cleric or paladin


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:

If your group's idea of the game involves clerics having to behave in ways suited to their deity, you can either agree on relevant specific codes of conduct and what they entail, or you can wing it based on what feels right to the players and GM. My own strong preference is for the former, but it seems to me that either can work well so long as everyone is on the same page, and that most of the objections from any direction seem to boil down to people either experiencing inconsistencies or worrying about encountering inconsistencies in how that will be played or interpreted.

It's very tempting, though I'm not sure how helpful it is, to frame the basic underlying dichotomy as being about whether your player group is Lawful or Chaotic.

Just to be clear, as printed, this is the default 'idea of the game' with respect to clerics that receive their powers from deities they worship. Don't be surprised when a GM expects the player to uphold such a restriction without specifically warning them ahead of time--it's the default expectation, and deviating from that, while absolutely fine and awesome, is the case where discussion ought to be held in advance. Otherwise, the expectation is that Anye, Goddess of Orphans will frown on burning down orphanages regardless of alignment concerns.


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Lady-J wrote:
Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
I don't think any class should have power-loss mechanics.

While I agree in general, I think it fits divine powered classes.

After all, clerics and paladins get their abilities, spells and powers from their deity/divine source. It's not their own power, it's borrowed.

So if your power comes from a deity in exchange for worship and following their rules, it's makes sense that if you don't uphold your end of the bargain, they take away what they're providing. ie Divine power.

If your power comes from your fundamental belief in/worship of a philosophical position, then if you aren't following the tenets of that philosophy, you likely don't believe in it as strongly any more. So your ability to generate power from that belief is also compromised.

as always ymmv

that's just it they don't have to get their powers from gods, its perfectly legitimate to have a godless cleric or paladin

Natan addressed this in the text you quoted.


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blahpers wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

That being said, they might as well not further give Clerics codes for two reasons. The first is for legacy purposes; only Paladins and Druids have a "code of conduct," and this was holdover from 3.x days. Adding them to other original classes breaks that sacred cow.

So, while it might make sense for Clerics to have a "code of conduct," for everyone's sanity and peace of mind, it's best you don't fabricate this can of worms.

Seriously... WTF? At least 2 people have quoted the exact line of Cleric rules (under 'Ex-Clerics') explicitly stating they are subject to Code of Conduct. Claiming such a rule doesn't exist is the only "fabrication" going on here.

If you don't like that rule, if you don't want to use it in play, if you don't want Paizo to flesh that out for their deities, those are legitimate personal opinions. Accusing people of fabrications for acknowledging what the rules do say is just fraud and libel. I get it if you don't like that rule you may have so long ignored it that you forgot it existed. But given more than 2 people have directly quoted it here in the thread discussing the topic, there isn't a real justification for feigning ignorance.

Show me where in the rules a given Cleric's Code of Conduct is.
Bro, do you even read?

Yes, I do. Do you?

The quoted section only mentions Ex Clerics and how they can exist, which is grossly violating their code of conduct.

The section does nothing to show what a Cleric's Code of Conduct actually is, and no text has been linked to show what a Cleric's Code of Conduct looks like, which means it could be anything that makes the Cleric fall, or, based on what I've seen, Clerics can't fall, which means the Ex Cleric section is as superfluous as pre-errata Prone Shooter.


As both a player and a GM, I do consider clerics to be bound to a similar code of conduct, and use the ones written by Paizo for paladins/antipaladins when possible. The rest of the codes specific to those classes (paladins can't do anything evil, use poison, be dishonorable, etc, and antipaladins can't do things out of altruism) remain specific to those classes.


blahpers wrote:
Daw wrote:
You know, I would be OK with more concrete codes of conduct associated with the domains that a cleric has taken. Has anyone done any work on something like this?
Interesting idea, but I'm not sure I could rationalize having the same code of conduct applied to fire domain clerics of Pyrona, CE Goddess of Arson, and Radia, LG Goddess of the Sun. They're likely to have vastly different takes on the appropriate use of/respect for fire.

I somewhat agree, but the amount of work needed seems rather much. Perhaps something closer to the observance mechanic might work better. Since I have a long history with RQ/Glorantha, I can equate Domains with Gloranthan Runes, Domains are a thing in and of themselves, and the gods take on these domains as facets of their power. There is nothing I know of that an individual god in any way changes the effects/abilities of a domain/subdomain. I vaguely remember that Pharasma doesn't allow undead spells from the Death domain, but I can't find where this is cited, so I may be wrong. With this I think that being aligned to a domain does not really need to be modified by the god. The question being, are the domains, being the same regardless of which god is acting as the conduit, actually on a higher order than the individual gods.


Why, my holy text is a code of conduct!


My take on Domain specific Codes was indeed that they would NOT be 'universal' to everybody with that domain, but specific to the deity, although nothing stops two deities from sharing given element of Code with or without shared Domains. And I assumed most deities would also have 'universal' part of Code for their followers irregardless of which Domains are selected (if any, given a Cleric Archetype with no domains, for example).

Personally I hate the Alignment Domains to begin with, they basically make any non-N deity less interesting and unique (given they are de facto required, it would one thing if only especially Alignment-identified deities had them), but it would be even worse if that also carried the exact same specific code (on top of same alignment requirement, obviously). Different deities of same alignment having different angle on their Alignment Domain's code breathes alot more life into that IMHO. This approach also is good way to ensure the 'wings' of a deity's diversity or follower theology has baseline of exposition, which isn't really true for many deities. Even if one doesn't personally select that given domain, it establishes basis for fully dedicating yourself to the deity's theology beyond what is "required" AND for assessing likely relations with other clergy... i.e. your opinion about code of domains you didn't select is still obviously relevant to intra-faith relations.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Ventnor wrote:

So, there's a paladin thread again. No surprise, but it got me thinking.

One thing I've heard people saying is that a Paladin's powers are counterbalanced by the RP aspects of their code of conduct. Shouldn't that also be true of Clerics, who receive arguably greater divine powers that Paladins do?

Should Good Clerics, for example, need to follow the custom Paladin codes printed in several player companion supplements (and Evil clerics, likewise, need to follow custom Antipaladin codes)? And should there be more codes for the other deities that a cleric can follow.

Should a cleric's code of conduct (mentioned in the Ex-Cleric section of the class) be as detailed as a Paladin's, in other words.

Paladin powers are not countered by the code. It's just flavor that has impact on the rules. Most players who play good characters dont even break the paladin code so its not like a lot of extra work unless you have a "gotcha" GM.

Edit: No, clerics don't need a code. If codes are there to limit power then all full casters would need a code, but they're not.

I agree that it wasn't written as a counter, but I disagree that it doesn't complicate the game, or that it's merely "flavor text."

There are several spells (no, they aren't [Evil] spells) and options we can't take simply because our Paladin PC would fall for condoning the act of using such spells. For example, our Wizard can't use Fire spells indoors because it would burn stuff down and he'd be held accountable for the things we destroy. Similarly, we can't execute detained enemies, even if they could pose a problem later down the road that may end up making things worse because "it's not right." To say that the code doesn't pose some sort of problem or conflict in-game that requires ingenuity to overcome is just outright false.

That being said, they might as well not further give Clerics codes for two reasons. The first is for legacy purposes; only Paladins and Druids have a "code of...

There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.


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Ouachitonian wrote:
There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.

You're missing the point entirely if that's all you come away with from my post.

The point is that the Paladin code doesn't simply mean that the Paladin doesn't do that stuff, it also means that the Paladin doesn't condone that stuff being done by others, either. Especially by his party members. There are clauses in the Paladin code that imply this heavily. If the Wizard wanted to fireball a bunch of undead inside a building, risking burning down said building (that contain innocents, I might add), and getting in trouble with the law, the Paladin is still held accountable for being involved with that individual in the eyes of both his God and the city.

The Druid conduct only requires that they revere nature, and that they don't wear the equipment. That's very different from "You cannot associate with bad people or people who perform XYZ actions," and is far less restricting, as well as far more ambiguous in certain situations.


DM Livgin wrote:
CRB, cleric wrote:
A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by her god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until she atones for her deeds (see the atonement spell description).

This has always been enough for me.

The inner sea gods has added lots of extra content for the gods, the individual paladin and anti-paladin codes are great. I do wish they would have created a list of tenets for the other gods, but only to inform role-playing not to enforce behavior.

Yes I agree a lot. Althuogh for some additional dieties you might want inner sea faiths a lot.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.

You're missing the point entirely if that's all you come away with from my post.

The point is that the Paladin code doesn't simply mean that the Paladin doesn't do that stuff, it also means that the Paladin doesn't condone that stuff being done by others, either. Especially by his party members. There are clauses in the Paladin code that imply this heavily. If the Wizard wanted to fireball a bunch of undead inside a building, risking burning down said building (that contain innocents, I might add), and getting in trouble with the law, the Paladin is still held accountable for being involved with that individual in the eyes of both his God and the city.

The Druid conduct only requires that they revere nature, and that they don't wear the equipment. That's very different from "You cannot associate with bad people or people who perform XYZ actions," and is far less restricting, as well as far more ambiguous in certain situations.

95% of the Paladin code is also about them personally. They must be lawful good, they must respect legitimate authority, they must act with honor, they must help those in need, they must punish those who harm or threaten innocents. The only thing in the code about others is that Paladins avoid "working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code", and even that has a major exception. There's actually nothing about doing collateral damage (much less just "risking" it) in the Paladin's code at all. If "risks collateral damage" is something that you think consistently offends the Paladin's moral code, I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes, to punish those who harm or threaten innocents (which is in the code), you're going to have to take a chance that you might unintentionally damage something beyond the evil-doer. Sometimes arrows miss. Sometimes actions have unforeseen consequences. Accidentally taking the chance of harming something beyond the intended target is something all adventuring parties do. All of them.


Ouachitonian wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.

You're missing the point entirely if that's all you come away with from my post.

The point is that the Paladin code doesn't simply mean that the Paladin doesn't do that stuff, it also means that the Paladin doesn't condone that stuff being done by others, either. Especially by his party members. There are clauses in the Paladin code that imply this heavily. If the Wizard wanted to fireball a bunch of undead inside a building, risking burning down said building (that contain innocents, I might add), and getting in trouble with the law, the Paladin is still held accountable for being involved with that individual in the eyes of both his God and the city.

The Druid conduct only requires that they revere nature, and that they don't wear the equipment. That's very different from "You cannot associate with bad people or people who perform XYZ actions," and is far less restricting, as well as far more ambiguous in certain situations.

95% of the Paladin code is also about them personally. They must be lawful good, they must respect legitimate authority, they must act with honor, they must help those in need, they must punish those who harm or threaten innocents. The only thing in the code about others is that Paladins avoid "working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code", and even that has a major exception. There's actually nothing about doing collateral damage (much less just "risking" it) in the Paladin's code at all. If "risks collateral damage" is something that you think consistently offends the Paladin's moral code, I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes, to punish...

but they do need to care about collateral damage, if an innocent person loses their life because the paladin or an ally used an aoe spell and killed them they are just as guilty as if they had just walked up to them and slit their throats


Ventnor wrote:

So, there's a paladin thread again. No surprise, but it got me thinking.

One thing I've heard people saying is that a Paladin's powers are counterbalanced by the RP aspects of their code of conduct.

Oh, right, I forgot to respond to this when I initially posted.

This isn't actually true. It was, technically, true at one point in the 1970s during one of the early incarnations of Dungeons and Dragons. It has not been true at any point since the turn of the century.

There are certainly some people who still believe it for some reason, or who were misinformed by others in their grognardism or misunderstood a discussion about one form of Dungeons and Dragons as applying to a situation where it did not.

Dark Archive

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Quandary wrote:
Personally I hate the Alignment Domains to begin with, they basically make any non-N deity less interesting and unique (given they are de facto required, it would one thing if only especially Alignment-identified deities had them),

I agree. One thing I loved about the Greyhawk Gazetteer was that Istus, the Lady of Fate, granted both the Chaos *and* Law domains, despite being Neutral, because she was the goddess of both ordained fate and pre-destiny and yet also random happenstance and luck.

For Golarion, Abadar is very much a 'god of Law.' Irori, on the other hand, is a god that happens to be lawful. Same with Gorum. He's chaotic, but doesn't really come across as a 'god of Chaos.' In many cases, it feels like any god who shares an alignment component being locked into granting that domain makes them feel kind of same-same-y (particularly in the cases of Demon Lords, Archdevils, and Azata/Archon Empyreals, who have 50% of their domains pre-chosen, even if they aren't particularly lawful or chaotic, or, in cases like Nocticula or Ragathiel, perhaps skating on the edge of evil or good).


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Lady-J wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.

You're missing the point entirely if that's all you come away with from my post.

The point is that the Paladin code doesn't simply mean that the Paladin doesn't do that stuff, it also means that the Paladin doesn't condone that stuff being done by others, either. Especially by his party members. There are clauses in the Paladin code that imply this heavily. If the Wizard wanted to fireball a bunch of undead inside a building, risking burning down said building (that contain innocents, I might add), and getting in trouble with the law, the Paladin is still held accountable for being involved with that individual in the eyes of both his God and the city.

The Druid conduct only requires that they revere nature, and that they don't wear the equipment. That's very different from "You cannot associate with bad people or people who perform XYZ actions," and is far less restricting, as well as far more ambiguous in certain situations.

95% of the Paladin code is also about them personally. They must be lawful good, they must respect legitimate authority, they must act with honor, they must help those in need, they must punish those who harm or threaten innocents. The only thing in the code about others is that Paladins avoid "working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code", and even that has a major exception. There's actually nothing about doing collateral damage (much less just "risking" it) in the Paladin's code at all. If "risks collateral damage" is something that you think consistently offends the Paladin's moral code, I don't know what to
...

https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Accidental+Killing

Read up. I suspect most LAWFUL good codes make LAWFUL distinctions between caused types of death and don't pour everything into one basket with an 'if you caused their death even indirectly and unintentionally, it's morally the same as walking up and intentionally slitting their throat'


Lady-J wrote:
but they do need to care about collateral damage, if an innocent person loses their life because the paladin or an ally used an aoe spell and killed them they are just as guilty as if they had just walked up to them and slit their throats

There is nothing to support that in the rules or form any developer. Paladins can not control what their allies do. They can only control who they adventure with, and if the ally is not evil the paladin can adventure with them without any problems.

However a GM should probably say someone is evil if they carelessly drop fireballs on random crowds of people as a habit.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
There’s literally nothing in the Paladin Code about anyone besides the Paladin being beholden to it. It’s absurd for the Paladin to try to make the rest of the party live up to his code. As absurd as it would be for a Druid to demand the Paladin ditch his metal armor.

You're missing the point entirely if that's all you come away with from my post.

The point is that the Paladin code doesn't simply mean that the Paladin doesn't do that stuff, it also means that the Paladin doesn't condone that stuff being done by others, either. Especially by his party members. There are clauses in the Paladin code that imply this heavily. If the Wizard wanted to fireball a bunch of undead inside a building, risking burning down said building (that contain innocents, I might add), and getting in trouble with the law, the Paladin is still held accountable for being involved with that individual in the eyes of both his God and the city.

The Druid conduct only requires that they revere nature, and that they don't wear the equipment. That's very different from "You cannot associate with bad people or people who perform XYZ actions," and is far less restricting, as well as far more ambiguous in certain situations.

The paladin is not responsible at all. Now as the GM I am liking going to say the fireballer is now evil in most cases, and at that point the paladin may have to make decisions, but if a wizard kills someone that is not he paladin.

As for the law I dont see many settings that will blame person B if they know he had no involvement with the particular incident. Adventuring with someone doesn't mean you are guilty for every act they commit. If you help them do it, that might be different and even then depending on the GM the punishment may vary, but that is a law(legal) thing, not a paladin code issue.


Ouachitonian wrote:
95% of the Paladin code is also about them personally. They must be lawful good, they must respect legitimate authority, they must act with honor, they must help those in need, they must punish those who harm or threaten innocents. The only thing in the code about others is that Paladins avoid "working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code", and even that has a major exception. There's actually nothing about doing collateral damage (much less just "risking" it) in the Paladin's code at all. If "risks collateral damage" is something that you think consistently offends the Paladin's moral code, I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes, to punish those who harm or threaten innocents (which is in the code), you're going to have to take a chance that you might unintentionally damage something beyond the evil-doer. Sometimes arrows miss. Sometimes actions have unforeseen consequences. Accidentally taking the chance of harming something beyond the intended target is something all adventuring parties do. All of them.

The fact of the matter is that Paladins have the association clause, and Druids don't. In fact, a Druid can adventure with people who don't give a damn about Nature and keep their powers, because their code doesn't include a "Can't adventure with people who don't care about/hate nature" clause. Whereas a Paladin's does.

Which means they are still beholden to what their party members do, because they are associating themselves with said party members, which means they are just as responsible for their actions as they are if they did the violating action themselves. Even if the party members don't have "Evil" written on their sheet, the fact is that, in the Fireball example, it falls with the "offends her moral code" clause to the point that it would result in an instant fall for how grossly violating the act is, betraying multiple facets of their code.


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"a paladin avoids working with... anyone who consistently offends her moral code"
That (ambiguous) statement is half the trouble with paladins. If it means, "anyone who does evil things on a regular basis," that's fine. Most good characters would do the same. If it means, "anyone who lies, uses poison or disrespects legitimate authority," then it's a problem.


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Fun fact: "While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code."
This gives two points to argue about:
1. How consistently is "consistently", and
2. Is "Moral Code" referring to the code of conduct, the general lawful good alignment, or something else entirely?

Also, let me say thank you, everyone, for turning this into yet another paladin alignment debate. That the paladin alignment debate in the other thread got hijacked by an argument over desnan bards really upset my view on the world. This thread is truly a center of stability and comfort.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Moral code is referring to the actual good versus evil part of the paladin's code of conduct, not to the honor part. Thus, a paladin cannot themselves use poison, and probably shouldn't suggest that someone else do so, but can freely adventure with someone who does, because there is nothing immoral about poison, just dishonorable. A paladin is supposed to have a very strict code of conduct for the self, and a much, much looser one for the people they adventure with.


amusingly, any standard operating procedure/code of conduct written down for Roidirans would instantly be rejected as she's kinda the contrarian deity. Reference (possible spoiler) this scenario.


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wraithstrike wrote:
Lady-J wrote:
but they do need to care about collateral damage, if an innocent person loses their life because the paladin or an ally used an aoe spell and killed them they are just as guilty as if they had just walked up to them and slit their throats

There is nothing to support that in the rules or form any developer. Paladins can not control what their allies do. They can only control who they adventure with, and if the ally is not evil the paladin can adventure with them without any problems.

However a GM should probably say someone is evil if they carelessly drop fireballs on random crowds of people as a habit.

Just this. You do not fall because your ally does something evil or carelessly harms innocents. You DO fall for remaining allied with someone who keeps doing such things, since this means you are effectively condoning and supporting such behavior.


Daw wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Lady-J wrote:
but they do need to care about collateral damage, if an innocent person loses their life because the paladin or an ally used an aoe spell and killed them they are just as guilty as if they had just walked up to them and slit their throats

There is nothing to support that in the rules or form any developer. Paladins can not control what their allies do. They can only control who they adventure with, and if the ally is not evil the paladin can adventure with them without any problems.

However a GM should probably say someone is evil if they carelessly drop fireballs on random crowds of people as a habit.

Just this. You do not fall because your ally does something evil or carelessly harms innocents. You DO fall for remaining allied with someone who keeps doing such things, since this means you are effectively condoning and supporting such behavior.

Well, yeah, if you're supposed to be a good guy, hanging around with people who blow up hospitals kinda breaks the tone. Was there any expectation discussed regarding the kind of heroes players were going to play ahead of time? You can have problematic mismatches without throwing paladins and other "code of conduct"-types into the mix.

TL;DR: Don't play a paladin at an evil free-for-all table, and don't play a sadistic psychopath at a table full of Dudley Do-Rights. Or do so, if that's the table's kind of thing, but conflict is almost inevitable.


Heheh, you might say this topic hits a little bit close to home, since I've always been one for... creative differences of opinion, but....

well, I guess if one has to have a code, there's a few different ways you could do it:
-a code of conduct that is established by the publisher for all clerics of a given alignment/ethos
-a code of conduct created by the publisher that is world or setting specific, usually to a specific deity or faith
-a code of conduct created entirely on the local level by the group playing the campaign.

Obviously, the lower two levels is probably the sort of code of conduct you'll get the most support for. I think making a universal code of conduct for any cleric of a given alignment is askin' for trouble, since it's going to vary a lot by world and god. The paladin is a pretty iconic straight-laced goody-goody archetype (not that you heard that from me!), so that's probably why it's more concrete for them.

Of course, the big thing about codes of conduct is that well, they can be [i]painful[i]. They're codes of conduct for a reason, as in, if you break 'em, you'll CONDUCT electricity thrown down from the sky. I had this FRIEND who got struck by lightning, and lemme tell you, I- he felt it for for WEEKS. Now excuse me while I go crawl into the nearest storm cellar.


in scaling impact and risk, what function in the game would a Code (of Conduct) serve? {CoC=Call of Cthulhu}

Is the GM going to hand out appointments for Atonements?
Will a PC get more spells, or a set number of bonuses on rolls? Will the chance of Divine Intervention go up or down?
Are Hero Points involved?
Is gold involved??????

I mean it's nice for characters and GMs to have for guidance on character concepts and moral turpitude but it seems to have very little mechanical impact. Reference the Height and Weight tables for various races.


It has plenty of impact. You break the code? You risk getting defrocked. Or worse.


blahpers wrote:
It has plenty of impact. You break the code? You risk getting defrocked. Or worse.

I think that happens with or without the code as it's GM discretion.

There are defrocked clerics that still receive spells... hmmm...

I agree that talking about it (player <-> GM) helps clarify what the expectations are. Having it written up codifies some background information, helps organize things, and reduces fluctuations in opinion. All of that manages expectations and reduces future conflict so it's a good organizational thing to do.
{In my home game I've always done this as I'm a through GM but then again I don't use Golorion}

Said Code would only affect a few classes (divine casters) and such infractions are historically infrequent as communicative GMs give feedback often.

I'm just trying to put it in scope for those that are passionate about the topic.


Look up the Reprobation spell. This is the in-game version of defrocking/excommunication. You are cut off from use and receipt of divine aid, and are further marked for all the faithful to know your status. Consequences can be serious as Blahpers said.

This isn't to say that the average GM is going to try to make the clerics fall any more often than they try to make Paladins fall. THIS RARELY HAPPENS. Yes there are bad GMs who live to screw under their players, just as there are players who murderhobo regardless of what they are playing, and bemoan how they are so unfairly made to fall. These are not the norm. They are however more likely to evoke vocal complaints than all the times everything has been just fine.


Paladins' Codes are something they subject THEMSELVES to in order to embody their ideals, and worship a deity that shares those ideals. This is why Paladins are Lawful Good. A non-Lawful character would not likely want to actively adhere to a code strictly enough to become a Paladin, and therefore don't, even if they still technically exemplify those ideals.
As has been pointed out, a Paladin's Code applies mostly to themself. Even when it does pertain to others, it usually cites "I will encourage/show others" or "I will not allow/endorse". They aspire to be living examples of their ideals, hoping others will emulate that. Browbeating others into following your ideals just because you're forcing them to would not make those ideals genuine for them. Obviously that doesn't disallow them from intervening in matters of great concern, of course.

Clerics, however, follow the teachings of their deity the way any truly devout person would, but also draw on that faith to cast divine magic and pray for spells each day. A Lawful Cleric might even choose hold themselves to a code of some sort, possibly even their deity's Paladin Code if there is one, but it is not inherent to what the class is and represents.


While the idea of a chaotic code of conduct may seem a little strange to some people it can exist. One thing to keep in mind about chaotic alignment is that they tend to be more concerned with themselves then others. This is especially true with chaotic evil. While a chaotic evil creature may resent someone telling him how to act, he has no problem at all telling other how to act. Thus it is quite possible and even likely a chaotic evil deity will have a code of conduct he requires his followers to obey.

The big difference between a lawful code of conduct and a chaotic code of conduct is the lawful code will be more uniform and reasoned. Iomedae may forbid certain actions because they are considered to be dishonorable or evil. She will also have detailed reasons why such acts are considered dishonorable or evil. A deity like Lamashtu could also have acts that she forbids her followers from performing. But instead of having carefully reasoned objections to these acts the reason they are forbidden is because she says so. She does not need any kind of rhyme or reason why she forbids them, she just does. She could also change her mind about the actions if she wanted. The important thing is that she is the one in control of the situation.

Chaotic good deities will be less likely to ban things on whim, but they will use their own feelings and prejudices in creating their code. Cayden Cailean will probably have a lot of things about slavery and other freedom related issues. He may also have rules about the use and abuse of alcohol as this is also something important to him. He probably does not have a lot of rules about magic, or art, but other deities may.

The reason there is no set code for clerics like there is for paladins is that the code will depend entirely on the nature and alignment of the deity. That does not mean there are no codes or that ex-clerics do not exist, but rather this falls under GM option.


Non-Lawful "codes" are basically just the tenets of the faith, like I said, and encompass what you're talking about pretty well.

Antipaladins are exactly what you're saying they are. Either bullied or coerced into accepting the whims of their deity, though they're likely okay with doing what is expected of them as it was likely what they were going to do anyway.


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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
That does not mean there are no codes or that ex-clerics do not exist, but rather this falls under GM option.

I'm still waiting for someone in this thread to show me where a Cleric's Code of Conduct can be found in the rules. The fact that none has been shown yet thus far posits the idea that there's no such thing as a Code of Conduct for a Cleric, and therefore Ex-Clerics cannot be created through violating a non-existent Code of Conduct.


Cleric wrote:
A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by her god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until she atones for her deeds (see the atonement spell description).

Ah, I see what you mean. Yeah, technically by RAW you can't be ousted by your deity other than by GM fiat.


The cleric’s code of conduct is similar to the legitimate authority of the paladin’s code. They are referenced but not specifically stated. By your reasoning since the rules do not define what a legitimate authority is a paladin cannot fall for failing to respect it. Taking that one step further no laws are actually defined in the rules which means that laws do not exist and therefore impossible to break. This of course means a paladin is free to do as they want as long as the behavior is not specifically spelled out in the code.

Since the section on ex-clerics is actually in the core rule book it is obvious that clerics do in fact have to follow the teachings of their deity or lose all class abilities. The reason there is no specific code for the class is that each deity has its own code.

A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by her god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until she atones for her deeds (see the atonement spell description).

Notice that it specifies the code of conduct is defined by the deity, not the class. This is why there is not all encompassing code of conduct.


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Mysterious Stranger wrote:

The cleric’s code of conduct is similar to the legitimate authority of the paladin’s code. They are referenced but not specifically stated. By your reasoning since the rules do not define what a legitimate authority is a paladin cannot fall for failing to respect it. Taking that one step further no laws are actually defined in the rules which means that laws do not exist and therefore impossible to break. This of course means a paladin is free to do as they want as long as the behavior is not specifically spelled out in the code.

Since the section on ex-clerics is actually in the core rule book it is obvious that clerics do in fact have to follow the teachings of their deity or lose all class abilities. The reason there is no specific code for the class is that each deity has its own code.

A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by her god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until she atones for her deeds (see the atonement spell description).

Notice that it specifies the code of conduct is defined by the deity, not the class. This is why there is not all encompassing code of conduct.

No, it's not.

A Paladin's Code referencing legitimate authority is present in the rules. Is it poorly defined? Yes. But the fact of the matter is that there are rules for a Paladin Code.

An entry that discusses a Cleric's Code of Conduct, on the other hand, does not exist. Even if each code for each cleric is deity-specific, the fact of the matter is that there's still nothing in the rules that mentions what each Code of Conduct for each deity actually is.

In this case, it's not a matter of a Code of Conduct being poorly defined, it's a matter of a Code of Conduct not being defined whatsoever, even if it varies from deity to deity.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm still waiting for someone in this thread to show me where a Cleric's Code of Conduct can be found in the rules.

I just spent some time looking through a few deity write-ups from Adventure Paths. I found some things vaguely resembling a code of conduct, but nothing as specific as the Paladin code:

Iomedae Priests wrote:
Priests must act honorably, show courage in battle, uphold righteous laws, and bring evildoers to justice. They must set a good example for common folk and especially children, both in appearance and attitude, and even the most battle-weary priest stands proud and tall in the presence of impressionable youths.
Zon-Kuthon Priests wrote:
Aside from rare church-demanded duties, clerics of the Dark Prince have a single goal: bringing pain to the world. In the absence of moral or immoral guidance from their patron, most choose their own path and use ZonKuthon’s gifts to serve their own desires. Their deity is largely indifferent to mortal affairs but still grants spells in response to the proper prayers. Many clerics of ZonKuthon seek power without responsibility and aren’t particularly zealous. In other words, being a priest is a secondary profession to them, leaving them most of their time to focus on their obsessions with conquest, wealth, and so on.
Saranrae Priests wrote:
Priests are responsible for blessing farmland, organizing planting and harvest celebrations, tending to the sick and injured, guarding or rehabilitating criminals, or simply preaching to others using simple parables... Martial-minded priests seek out evil in the hopes of redeeming it or destroying it if redemption fails. They understand that undead, mindless beasts, and fiends are essentially beyond redemption and don’t bother wasting words on such creatures. The church is not averse to using spells like lesser geas and mark of justice to help guide malcontents toward goodness.
Lamashtu Priests wrote:
A priest must make sure the members of his tribe are strong in their faith, tend to their physical injuries (especially those whose deformities are a significant hindrance), and spiritually guide them through hard times by focusing on the hideous glory of the Demon Queen and interpreting signs of Lamashtu’s favor or disfavor. Her priests use magic, faith, and flesh to soothe disputes and settle arguments—a spell used for compulsion, a threat of torture in the afterlife, or an intimate encounter might be exactly what someone needs to defuse his anger, jealousy, or desire for vengeance.


In a perfect wargame, if something isn't spelled out then it doesn't exist, which is Darksol's point, even when the existence of codes is cited in the Cleric description. The problem with this reasoning is that Pathfinder is not a perfect wargame, nor has Paizo tried to make it so. To create Codes of Conduct for even the major religions would take significantly more effort and page count than they would be worth. Codes of Conduct for Paladins have been important to the class in most incarnations, so they really had to include those, they did not have to include them for clerics, which would be required for EVERY god, not just for those with Paladins and Antipaladins.

So, yes, this reduces the Codes to GM fiat, though common RPG practices often have cleric players create at least part of their codes as part of their background. This will of course not be of interest to a wargamer.

Now, since a rather lot of Forumfolk seem to hate and fear GMs, and act as if their only goal is to screw under their players, not having such codes laid out in the books is going to be seen as just one more opportunity for bad GMing.


The section on legitimate authority states paladins must respect it, but does not define what it is. This is exactly what the section on cleric’s code of conduct does. The rules state the cleric must obey the code of conduct required by her god, but does not define the code. How that is any different than requiring a paladin to obey legitimate authority, but not defining what is a legitimate authority.

The section I posted about the cleric’s code of conduct is directly from the rules. It is under the section of ex-clerics. A deity’s code of conduct will be set by the deity itself. It is not a rules question, but rather an issue with the game setting. The rules are supposed to be setting neutral so of course there is nothing in the rule books about it. If you look in the Faiths of Purity supplement each deity has a list of taboos. Below is the Taboo section for Iomedae.

Taboos

If you see an opportunity to right a wrong and fail to take it, you have sinned against Iomedae and must perform a penance that fixes the original situation. If that’s not possible, you must find three others like it and make those right instead. You must stand for justice, and the only exception is if you are playing a longer game that will have far greater benefits when it comes to fruition. Should you fail in this, you may lose traits and class abilities related to your faith until you complete your penance.

Not only does it specify what Iomedae expects out of here worshipers it flat out states that you lose class abilities for failing. This was not found in a rule book, but in a campaign setting book.


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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
The section on legitimate authority states paladins must respect it, but does not define what it is. This is exactly what the section on cleric’s code of conduct does. The rules state the cleric must obey the code of conduct required by her god, but does not define the code. How that is any different than requiring a paladin to obey legitimate authority, but not defining what is a legitimate authority?

It's like the difference between these two rules:

"Commandment One: Those who kill sentient beings maliciously must be executed." - This requires some judgement to interpret - how am I to judge malice? How am I to know for sure what creatures are sentient?

"Commandment Two: Anyone who breaks Commandment Two must be executed." - This law is completely undefined and therefore (hopefully) will not be enforced.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'm still waiting for someone in this thread to show me where a Cleric's Code of Conduct can be found in the rules.

I just spent some time looking through a few deity write-ups from Adventure Paths. I found some things vaguely resembling a code of conduct, but nothing as specific as the Paladin code:

Iomedae Priests wrote:
Priests must act honorably, show courage in battle, uphold righteous laws, and bring evildoers to justice. They must set a good example for common folk and especially children, both in appearance and attitude, and even the most battle-weary priest stands proud and tall in the presence of impressionable youths.
Zon-Kuthon Priests wrote:
Aside from rare church-demanded duties, clerics of the Dark Prince have a single goal: bringing pain to the world. In the absence of moral or immoral guidance from their patron, most choose their own path and use ZonKuthon’s gifts to serve their own desires. Their deity is largely indifferent to mortal affairs but still grants spells in response to the proper prayers. Many clerics of ZonKuthon seek power without responsibility and aren’t particularly zealous. In other words, being a priest is a secondary profession to them, leaving them most of their time to focus on their obsessions with conquest, wealth, and so on.
Saranrae Priests wrote:
Priests are responsible for blessing farmland, organizing planting and harvest celebrations, tending to the sick and injured, guarding or rehabilitating criminals, or simply preaching to others using simple parables... Martial-minded priests seek out evil in the hopes of redeeming it or destroying it if redemption fails. They understand that undead, mindless beasts, and fiends are essentially beyond redemption and don’t bother wasting words on such creatures. The church is not averse to using spells like lesser geas and mark of justice to help guide malcontents toward goodness.
Lamashtu Priests wrote:
A priest must make sure
...

These seem like perfectly acceptable codes of conduct. Not as rigid or precise as a Paladin, but gives a sense of things they should try to do, things they should try to avoid, and maybe a few things that are absolutes.


Thanks for the citations, Matthew Downie. I only wish that they were properly listed in a rulebook instead of simply being entries in Adventure Paths for GMs to read about, since this ultimately puts a Cleric's Code of Conduct on a backburner instead of a Paladin's being upfront and basically the biggest defining thing of the Paladin class.

@ Daw: It's not so much that I expect a "perfect wargame," but I think something important like a Cleric's Code of Conduct should at least have some sort of definition within the rules, especially if it's a major selling point behind Ex-Clerics being a possibility.

Even if it basically gives "badwrongfun" GMs an excuse to perpetuate their behavior, the idea is that Clerics should still be beholden to a code (as determined by their deity, of course), especially when there are mechanical ramifications behind such a thing existing.


GreenDragon1133 wrote:
These seem like perfectly acceptable codes of conduct. Not as rigid or precise as a Paladin, but gives a sense of things they should try to do, things they should try to avoid, and maybe a few things that are absolutes.

Some of these 'codes' are very easy to follow:

Quote:

Cayden Cailean’s easygoing nature and lack of a central church agency mean that his clerics are able to use their discretion when it comes to how to advance his cause in the world...

Cleric explorers carry a small keg of strong ale or wine (which they might dilute with water, depending on the custom of their home city), and it is customary to ask a cleric to toast a blessing at any gathering of strangers (such as at a roadside inn)...

A typical cleric of Cayden Cailean has at least one rank in a useful Craft or Profession skill. Most study Diplomacy, Gather Information, or Knowledge (geography or nature) to better influence people or enhance their craft. There is no official tithe but by friendly custom they tip well, especially at places owned by the church...

A typical day for a cleric involves waking, a prayer-toast, breakfast, and a period of work. Lunch and dinner are begun with a toast; in some places there is also a customary late afternoon drink of a hearty, thick ale. Evening is for friends, family, telling stories, and personal interests. Spell preparation takes place after breakfast.

Still, gives some leeway for GMs who want to be annoying.

"What? You prepared your spells before breakfast? You fall!"


But if you wrote down the code for a goblin hero god it would be stealing words out of their head.

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