Paladin Code Debugging


Playtest

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In good faith I do this.

The paladin code is a part of the playtest. Whatever each person's view on that, the developers put it in there to be tested. I, for one, say let us.

The essential elements of the code:

Universal Paladin Code:
"The following is the fundamental code all paladins follow. The tenets are listed in order of importance, starting with the most important. If a situation places two tenets in conflict, you aren't in a no-win situation; instead, follow the most important tenet."

>You must never willingly commit an evil act, such as murder, torture, or casting an evil spell.
>You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent.
>You must act with honor, never cheating, lying, or taking advantage of others.
>You must respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be, following their laws unless they violate a higher tenet.

To test this code is to apply it to a challenging scenario, and see if following it promotes the behaviours that it intends to.

I now submit my own example.

---

A holy champion staggers from the lair of evil. They are wounded, exhausted, for they have given their all to expunge the irredeemably vile forces that have preyed upon the innocent for too long. Now, in reeling aftermath, there is at last a chance of rebuild in its wake.

Much good remains to be done. Even as they stride from the realm of the smited foe, they come across another victim, a woman stricken by grave wounds. Horrors deepen, as she is most obviously pregnant with child.

"Can you help me?" asks the woman.

"Yes," answers the paladin, for it would violate their code to lie.

"... Will you?" the woman asks next.

"... No," they answer at last.

"Why?" her voice struggles.

The paladin struggles too. Standing there, every mote of divine energy expended battling evil, they cannot lay on hands, nor offer any other salvation by their own means. The only way to save her, and in turn her child, in the time left to her is to use the wand of infernal healing they confiscated from the forces of evil, brought it back as evidence in the hunt for evil. "It would be casting an evil spell," they whisper.

She weeps to the end. If they have tears left, so does the paladin.


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Honestly, even discarding how contrived the sample situation is, the whole thing is literally just hp damage. At the extreme worst, a Medicine roll can be done to stabilize her till the next day when Lay on Hands equivs can be done, if someone actually invested proficiency, she's fixed straight away. I rank the listed scenario as a virtual non-issue even if somehow you ran across a situation where EVERY LAST RESOURCE AND CONSUMABLE was depleted.

Scarab Sages

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While contrived, it underlines two system failures of 1e. Terrible healing, and alignment descriptors. Both suck and need to be fixed,but beyond the specifics that question of an evil act for good reasons/effects is valid.


Angel Hunter D gets the thread.

Stress testing can refine something from being good to being even better.

Liberty's Edge

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This example assumes facts not in evidence. Specifically, that Infernal Healing exists, is an Evil spell, and that the Paladin is the only one who can use it (this last is actually the weirdest). It also assumes that such a spell is the only way to save her life.

Also, even assuming the example is correct about consequences, the right thing for the Paladin to do is to heal the woman, fall, and then do an atonement. Having to perform an atonement after using an Evil spell is a pretty reasonable thematic thing for a Paladin to need to do even if they have to cast such a spell for some reason.

Everyone talks about falling like it's something that makes the character ruined forever, but that's not actually quite how the rules work.


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I strongly suspect that Infernal Healing will change in PF2. A spell labeled Evil that does what is considered good was too controversial.


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But my point is even as a stress test, it's a lousy one thanks to what we can piece together with the rules thus far. Medicine is a skill that has been reportedly heavily improved in use over Heal (primary healer Barbarian and what have you) and thanks to scaling bonuses by level, even an untrained paladin can attempt something as simple as stabilizing another person with a reasonable chance of success (if he's good enough to reliably Arcana an Infernal Healing wand, he's likely good enough to do an untrained stabilize. The solutions are supposedly in place for this sort of event, although we have no idea how good it is at without the playtest docs.


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I don't disagree with you Tarik. My example is far from perfect.

If you prefer, imagine many victims. The paladin cannot save them all, even if they use the wand. But with it, they'd save more.

Do you feel that, in principle, saving innocent lives should come after not ever casting an evil spell? That's what codes are about, principles.

Liberty's Edge

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Artificial 20 wrote:

I don't disagree with you Tarik. My example is far from perfect.

If you prefer, imagine many victims. The paladin cannot save them all, even if they use the wand. But with it, they'd save more.

Would they? If Medicine as a skill can reliably save them, well, it's a skill it doesn't have limited per day uses.

Artificial 20 wrote:
Do you feel that, in principle, saving innocent lives should come after not ever casting an evil spell? That's what codes are about, principles.

The very question makes a couple of assumptions we don't know are true in PF2 yet:

#1: That Evil spells don't have explicit consequences/requirements like human sacrifice in order to work. This is true in PF1, but we don't know about PF2. Saying that human sacrifice is not okay even to save people seems a reasonable principle.

#2: That there will be Evil healing spells.

Also, see above for the 'reasonable to require an atonement for' thing.


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They tried to fix the code, but the key difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder is that in the "Ex-paladins" text, 3.5 says you have to grossly violate your code while PF says any violation causes you to fall.

Grand Lodge

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Artificial 20 wrote:

I don't disagree with you Tarik. My example is far from perfect.

If you prefer, imagine many victims. The paladin cannot save them all, even if they use the wand. But with it, they'd save more.

Do you feel that, in principle, saving innocent lives should come after not ever casting an evil spell? That's what codes are about, principles.

Divine codes are different.

There are many Earth religions that are that way. In several religions blasphemy, conversion, etc are things people would die because of.

"But blasphemy is just words! Can't you just say it to save your life!?" No. Many people won't, and historically many people of many religions died believing they did the right thing by not blaspheming.

This is the same thing with evil spells. It seems so easy to someone who isn't a Paladin, but to a Paladin not casting evil spells is above even death of an innocent. Makes perfect sense to me from a religious point of view.


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This example seems unlikely to work. At all.

Infernal healing (as it works under PF1) only heals HP damage. If the wounded woman has enough hp to be conscious she will survive. And if she is afflicted with something besides HP damage, Infernal Healing wouldn't have helped anyways.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Artificial 20 wrote:

I don't disagree with you Tarik. My example is far from perfect.

If you prefer, imagine many victims. The paladin cannot save them all, even if they use the wand. But with it, they'd save more.

Would they? If Medicine as a skill can reliably save them, well, it's a skill it doesn't have limited per day uses.

You would kind of have to be intentionally trying to bait the code in order to build a paladin who couldn't solve the issue of dying children with Medicine (an untrained use anyone can try) but could do it with a hypothetical wand of infernal healing (requires specialized training to fake out the wand), and even then, Medicine would take one action while persumably infernal healing would take at least three (it doesn't exist, but in PF1 it had a "1 full round" casting time), so if a whole bunch of people were dying on a timer somehow, you would save three times as many with Medicine


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Guys, the letter of the example is bad but take it in the spirit in which it is given. It's an extreme and unlikely example of "should a paladin be willing to cross the line and perform an evil act if it means saving lives." And honestly, that's not a new question. As a famous story points out, every paladin knows that the line exists, the point at which they know they will have to fall in order to save everything.

The correct and Paladinly answer to this, as Deadmanwalking said, to heal the woman, fall, and perform an atonement later.


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Artificial 20 wrote:

In good faith I do this.

The paladin code is a part of the playtest. Whatever each person's view on that, the developers put it in there to be tested. I, for one, say let us.

The essential elements of the code:

** spoiler omitted **

To test this code is to apply it to a challenging scenario, and see if following it promotes the behaviours that it intends to.

I now submit my own example.

---

[iA holy champion staggers from the lair of evil. They are wounded, exhausted, for they have given their all to expunge the irredeemably vile forces that have preyed upon the innocent for too long. Now, in reeling aftermath, there is at last a chance of rebuild in its wake.

Much good remains to be done. Even as they stride from the realm of the smited foe, they come across another victim, a woman stricken by grave wounds. Horrors deepen, as she is most obviously pregnant with child.

"Can you help me?" asks the woman.

"Yes," answers the paladin, for it would violate their code to lie.

"... Will you?" the woman asks next.

"... No," they answer at last.

"Why?" her voice struggles.

The paladin struggles too. Standing there, every mote of divine energy expended battling evil, they cannot lay on hands, nor offer any other salvation by their own means. The only way to save her, and in turn her child, in the time left to her is to use the wand of infernal healing they confiscated from the forces of evil, brought it back as evidence in the hunt for evil. "It would be casting an evil spell," they whisper.

She weeps to the end. If they have tears left, so does the paladin.

Wow... This is... A bit out there I think...

Also it involves the Paladin lacking any degree of social graces or initiative in ability to explain or even an attempt to use the Medicine skill...

So taking your example... I will re-write it in a more realistic way.

-----
A holy champion staggers from the lair of evil. They are wounded, exhausted, for they have given their all to expunge the irredeemably vile forces that have preyed upon the innocent for too long. Now, in reeling aftermath, there is at last a chance of rebuild in its wake.

Much good remains to be done. Even as they stride from the realm of the smited foe, they come across another victim, a woman stricken by grave wounds. Horrors deepen, as she is most obviously pregnant with child.

"Can you help me?" asks the woman.

"I am sorry, the only way I have that might ease some of the damage that you have suffered," answers the paladin, for it would violate their code to lie. "Is an item that casts magic of great evil. A spell that requires the power of a demon's blood or water befouled by darkness to function. To use it would destroy my connection to the divine."

"... I see..." the woman asks next.

"I do know that you are in pain," the Paladin answers at last. "I will see if there is anyone who can heal you. I cannot promise that I can, but should you be able to hold out until morning, in the worst case scenario, I will have regained my divine energy and can heal your wounds then. For now, as difficult as it may be, you must rest and try to relax. I will tend to you without the wand as best I can and so what I can to make you comfortable in the mean time."

"Thank you," her voice struggles, even as he leans her down and tries to help her get comfortable.

Much better.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
You would kind of have to be intentionally trying to bait the code in order to build a paladin who couldn't solve the issue of dying children with Medicine (an untrained use anyone can try) but could do it with a hypothetical wand of infernal healing (requires specialized training to fake out the wand), and even then, Medicine would take one action while persumably infernal healing would take at least three (it doesn't exist, but in PF1 it had a "1 full round" casting time), so if a whole bunch of people were dying on a timer somehow, you would save three times as many with Medicine

Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.


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FedoraFerret wrote:

Guys, the letter of the example is bad but take it in the spirit in which it is given. It's an extreme and unlikely example of "should a paladin be willing to cross the line and perform an evil act if it means saving lives." And honestly, that's not a new question. As a famous story points out, every paladin knows that the line exists, the point at which they know they will have to fall in order to save everything.

The correct and Paladinly answer to this, as Deadmanwalking said, to heal the woman, fall, and perform an atonement later.

Okay...I have to say here, I would have been more sympathetic to the setup if the victim hadn't been a crying female with a desperate child. It's too much of a classic trope.

Setup wrote:


"Why?" her voice struggles.

...I...the rest of my mind is going: did her eyes fill with tears? Did she clutch the paladin's manly chest (if assuming the paladin was male) and look up into his eyes in a desperate way?

So well, maybe the poster didn't intend it? Just... there's a little much "helpless female victim" here, with desperate child to boot. I would have liked to see a series of posed questions and concerns, instead. Perhaps multiple scenarios presented.

As it is, it feels like bait. Does that make sense? And because it /feels/ that way, it's hard to take seriously, which is a shame, because if the poster hadn't intended that, it undermines what was trying to be achieved, and that isn't great, you know?


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.

Casting the Heal spell, performing first aid, and removing a hand from your weapon all take one action, I think we're well past the point of actions representing the time required to do something.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You would kind of have to be intentionally trying to bait the code in order to build a paladin who couldn't solve the issue of dying children with Medicine (an untrained use anyone can try) but could do it with a hypothetical wand of infernal healing (requires specialized training to fake out the wand), and even then, Medicine would take one action while persumably infernal healing would take at least three (it doesn't exist, but in PF1 it had a "1 full round" casting time), so if a whole bunch of people were dying on a timer somehow, you would save three times as many with Medicine
Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.

Just saying, even back in the day we had rogues picking locks in about 3 seconds. Plus even in PF1, Heal for first aid was a standard action.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.
Just saying, even back in the day we had rogues picking locks in about 3 seconds. Plus even in PF1, Heal for first aid was a standard action.

Point taken.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You would kind of have to be intentionally trying to bait the code in order to build a paladin who couldn't solve the issue of dying children with Medicine (an untrained use anyone can try) but could do it with a hypothetical wand of infernal healing (requires specialized training to fake out the wand), and even then, Medicine would take one action while persumably infernal healing would take at least three (it doesn't exist, but in PF1 it had a "1 full round" casting time), so if a whole bunch of people were dying on a timer somehow, you would save three times as many with Medicine
Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.
Just saying, even back in the day we had rogues picking locks in about 3 seconds. Plus even in PF1, Heal for first aid was a standard action.

This is correct. During the time it takes to attempt the UMD check for one infernal healing wand use in PF1 in this weirdly common PF1 paladin false-dilemma thought experiment, the paladin could have attempted two DC 15 Heal checks to stabilize, one of which would preempt a round of potential dying that infernal healing can't possibly stop, due to the casting time...except it's even worse than that for infernal healing. Unless the paladin was a true blackguard who put the infernal healing wand in a spring-loaded wrist sheath or carried it around in hand intending to use it, in PF1 it actually takes more rounds than that to get the wand out, walk up, begin the full round action cast, and complete it. In fact, the PF1 Heal check option should give at least three rounds of Heal checks to infernal healing's one UMD check.

That all said, not performing evil actions to save innocents is the code working as intended, but I actually am keenly interested in what ways you guys are thinking the code might have exploits, unforeseen gotchas, and the like. That's what got me reading this thread. So I encourage you to brainstorm and I can straighten out the code if necessary!


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Here is the problem with designing a Kobiyashi Maru (which is basically what this is) or a no-win situation. A situation where the Paladin is forced to fall in order to save someone.

There are a couple major issues. The first of which is, these situations require a lot of planning to pull off. So much planning that they rarely, if ever, will realistically happen. If you ever do this in a game, you've intentionally set up the situation for it to happen and that means you basically targeted the Paladin because these are almost impossible.

To quote Captain James T. Kirk - "I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

-----

That having been said, I once was in a no-win scenario in a game, or at least a scenario where I (at the time) saw no way out... Well at least that is what the GM thought.

-----

So here is the scenario:

I'm a Paladin, we had a Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue in our party besides. All-in-all pretty well rounded.

We had captured an evil Alchemist (this was before there was an Alchemist class so it was just an NPC) who was the only person who could cure a disease on a Princess. Magic didn't work for some reason. Blah blah blah plot.

This Alchemist was a psychopath. He had his thugs kidnapping victims and experimenting on them, leaving them insane, disfigured, or both. We beat his thugs and took him captive and drug him back to the castle.

Once there he made a deal with the Queen that, should he heal her daughter, he would be pardoned for his crimes. Murdered, tortured, and worse over three dozen people. My Paladin was not happy.

We were left in a room with him, alone, after he had cured the Princess. The GM had me armed, he knew I was mad, he knew my Paladin was mad. We were alone, there were no witnesses. The Alchemist was even armed with a knife that he used.

The Alchemist then goes full Joker on me. Telling me that he was going to kill again. He'd start his experiments again. Taunting me that he was free and pardoned and that I couldn't touch him. I couldn't lay a hand on him.

Really into the RP.

I remember the exchange...

-----

"There is nothing you can do," he sneered. "Your precious code forbids you from touching me. I'm legally free and clear and there is nothing you can do."

Then he turns his back to me, presenting himself. Daring me to stab him. My Paladin's fingers tighten around the handle of my sword.

"Go," I replied.

The GM looks at me, "What do you mean you're letting him go? You feel your connection to the divine fleeing you."

I frowned, "What evil action have I committed?"

"You're letting a person who is threatening people go free."

"Not at all," I explained calmly. "I have no intention of letting him go, but I'm not going to stab him in the back. I'm going to do it the right way though."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I'm going to do my best to keep an eye on him, wait until he slips up," I said. "Then, when he does, I am going to take him down once and for all. For now, however, I don't have a choice but to let him go. I believe in law and order, I believe in justice, I believe that I can do this the right way while still stopping people from being hurt. I could stab him in the back, and that would be the fastest way, the easiest way, to end his threat, but that isn't the only way. That isn't the right way. That isn't the Paladin's way."

"... You feel your connection return."

"I thought as much."


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Now for legitimate no win Paladin situations... Lemme see...

Okay, here is one:

I'm not sure of all of the specifics you'd have to go into to pull it off though...

I mean...

That is just it... I can't think of anything that is legitimately a no-win scenario.

I mean, sure, you can have the situation of:

Something bad is going to happen if this innocent person isn't killed.

So, like, I dunno... A magical curse or something... If this person isn't killed (or the curse lifted) in the next 18 seconds then he's going to explode and the explosion will kill, not only you, but everything within, I don't know... Like a mile.

The victim is innocent.

There is no time to stop it.

The only way to do so is to kill the innocent.

The innocent is scared and is pleading not to die.

That... Might... Be the closest thing to a no-win situation.

Either you kill him, saving yourself and everyone within a mile radius, and fall... Or you die.


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So... To put the above in a scenario:

The evil wizard, the only one who could remove the magical plague, has fled. The patient zero is already infected, he is a youth of nineteen years, a dim witted lad he is terrified and sick. You do not possess the ability to cure the disease and it is very persistent.

The disease will finish incubating in the lad's body and when it completes, erupting in a cloud of mist that will envelop everything for almost a mile. Then in a few minutes time after that each of the infected will die.

You are a Paladin, and are immune to the disease, you were the only one who could make it through to where the youth is without being infected. That is where you found him. Already you can see him swelling and there is little time left. The youth, as the patient zero, will also survive.

The worst part

"Save me," the victim pleads.

"I...," you reply, frowning. "I lack the power to cure you of this."

"I don't want to die," he says, tears welling up in his eyes.

"You won't die," the Paladin says, as the boy's face lights with hope.

"However," you explain. "When the virus has completed it's growth cycle, it will expel from you in a cloud of gas that will kill almost everyone in the city. The only way I can stop it is to kill you."

The lad looks shocked, terrified, he looks at the sword in your hands and looks up at you with tear filled eyes, "What are you going to do?"

You look down at the blade...

----

That is the closest I can come to a more legitimate no-win scenario... One where the party failed to capture the bad guy and he got away...

The scenario is simple:
If you do not kill the youth, he will expel the gas cloud and almost everyone in the city will die. You and the boy will be fine.

If you do kill the youth, only he will die.

And even THIS is horribly contrived to be honest.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
HWalsh wrote:

The scenario is simple:

If you do not kill the youth, he will expel the gas cloud and almost everyone in the city will die. You and the boy will be fine.

If you do kill the youth, only he will die.

And even THIS is horribly contrived to be honest.

The scenario is simple, but so is the decision:

With no other options (teleport to a distant location, plane shift, etc.), the paladin will ask the boy's forgiveness and kill him, even though he falls.

As the only way to save thousands of lives in a time-critical situation, killing one person and losing their paladin status would be the most palatable choice for a Lawful Good individual. Atonement afterword to regain Lawful Good alignment, even if they can never be a paladin again, and accepting any legal consequences for their act, but keeping their paladin status is not worth more than thousands of lives*.

*- this is one of the critical things to keep in mind, as the mindset of a paladin's status being worth more than even one innocent life is selfishness


Dragonchess Player wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

The scenario is simple:

If you do not kill the youth, he will expel the gas cloud and almost everyone in the city will die. You and the boy will be fine.

If you do kill the youth, only he will die.

And even THIS is horribly contrived to be honest.

The scenario is simple, but so is the decision:

With no other options (teleport to a distant location, plane shift, etc.), the paladin will ask the boy's forgiveness and kill him, even though he falls.

As the only way to save thousands of lives in a time-critical situation, killing one person and losing their paladin status would be the most palatable choice for a Lawful Good individual. Atonement afterword to regain Lawful Good alignment, even if they can never be a paladin again, and accepting any legal consequences for their act, but keeping their paladin status is not worth more than thousands of lives*.

*- this is one of the critical things to keep in mind, as the mindset of a paladin's status being worth more than even one innocent life is selfishness

Dragon - The idea wasn't "Is there a thing the paladin could do"

The Dev asked us to come up with "Gotchas" where the only choice was to fall. So I came up with one. A no-win situation.


Also... In the scenario I created... There is a way out that doesn't end with the Paladin falling.

The option I would take:

Swear that I will do everything I can to bring him back, but explain that the only way to stop the disease is for him to be slain. See if I can convince him to agree.

At that point, if he agreed, I don't think the Paladin would fall.


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Dragonchess Player wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

The scenario is simple:

If you do not kill the youth, he will expel the gas cloud and almost everyone in the city will die. You and the boy will be fine.

If you do kill the youth, only he will die.

And even THIS is horribly contrived to be honest.

The scenario is simple, but so is the decision:

With no other options (teleport to a distant location, plane shift, etc.), the paladin will ask the boy's forgiveness and kill him, even though he falls.

Why do we assume he falls?

If the boy allows him to kill them, then it isn't murder.

Murder is because you don't have the right to kill for no reason. If the person gives you a reason, it is no longer murder.

That is why self defense is allows: defending yourself is a good reason.
Permission is another.
This is why executioners aren't tried for murder: they are given that permission as prisoners lose all right legally.


Mark Seifter wrote:
This is correct. During the time it takes to attempt the UMD check for one infernal healing wand use in PF1

How about a Diabolical Masquerade Mask that requires no UMD?

EDIT: or multiclassed to have a class with that spell on it's spell list? Or a 1/2 elf with Arcane Training?


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You would kind of have to be intentionally trying to bait the code in order to build a paladin who couldn't solve the issue of dying children with Medicine (an untrained use anyone can try) but could do it with a hypothetical wand of infernal healing (requires specialized training to fake out the wand), and even then, Medicine would take one action while persumably infernal healing would take at least three (it doesn't exist, but in PF1 it had a "1 full round" casting time), so if a whole bunch of people were dying on a timer somehow, you would save three times as many with Medicine
Non-magic healing is faster than magical? That seems odd. I'd think first aid would take at least some time to identify the issue, stop bleeding, clean and bandage wounds etc. Doing it in 2 seconds sounds a bit fast.
Just saying, even back in the day we had rogues picking locks in about 3 seconds. Plus even in PF1, Heal for first aid was a standard action.

This is correct. During the time it takes to attempt the UMD check for one infernal healing wand use in PF1 in this weirdly common PF1 paladin false-dilemma thought experiment, the paladin could have attempted two DC 15 Heal checks to stabilize, one of which would preempt a round of potential dying that infernal healing can't possibly stop, due to the casting time...except it's even worse than that for infernal healing. Unless the paladin was a true blackguard who put the infernal healing wand in a spring-loaded wrist sheath or carried it around in hand intending to use it, in PF1 it actually takes more rounds than that to get the wand out, walk up, begin the full round action cast, and complete it. In fact, the PF1 Heal check option should give at least three rounds of Heal checks to infernal healing's one UMD check.

That all said, not performing evil actions to save innocents is the code working as intended, but I actually am keenly interested in what ways you guys...

I'm curious about this tenet:

"You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent. "

It seems to me that:

"refraining from taking action against possible harm to innocents"

which the tenet says is okay. Is identical to:

"Through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it"

which the tenet says isn't.

What scenario are you imagining where the italicised exemption operates to release you from the obligation in bold? (Or when does the bolded bar you from inaction, even though the italics permit you to not act)?

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graystone wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
This is correct. During the time it takes to attempt the UMD check for one infernal healing wand use in PF1
How about a Diabolical Masquerade Mask that requires no UMD?

Indeed, there are many ways to get a functioning quandary, just not the for-some-reason-popular "there's a dying person and you have a wand of infernal healing" one. Here's a spin on your version that does it:

The paladin is completely out of lay on hands for the day, but does have a captured diabolical masquerade mask that infuses the darkest evil of Hell into the souls of all creatures in a 60-foot radius, forever tainting them in a small and probably unnoticeable way but stabilizing them. Suddenly, she comes across a group of 100 dying people, all in a 60-foot radius of each other. If she uses the Heal skill, she will surely save some of them, and others might be lucky enough to stabilize on their own, but surely some would die. The mask will save all the lives.

EDIT: To your edit, the wand is still a 1-round casting time, as the spell takes a round to cast.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Steve Geddes wrote:

I'm curious about this tenet:

"You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent. "

It seems to me that:

"refraining from taking action against possible harm to innocents"

which the tenet says is okay. Is identical to:

"Through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it"

which the tenet says isn't.

What scenario are you imagining where the italicised exemption operates to release you from the obligation in bold? (Or when does the bolded bar you from inaction, even though the italics permit you to not act)?

Someone on the other thread mentioned that maybe "potential harm" might be better than "possible harm." Basically, if you see the harm immediately brewing, you have to work to protect the innocent if you can reasonably prevent it, but you wouldn't have to, for instance, depose a benevolent but foolish ruler from power because an innocent might some day potentially come to harm through the ruler's foolish decisions (and thus wouldn't be allowed to depose the ruler, because doing so would violate a lower tenet).


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Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Also, even assuming the example is correct about consequences, the right thing for the Paladin to do is to heal the woman, fall, and then do an atonement. Having to perform an atonement after using an Evil spell is a pretty reasonable thematic thing for a Paladin to need to do even if they have to cast such a spell for some reason.

Everyone talks about falling like it's something that makes the character ruined forever, but that's not actually quite how the rules work.

While this is true, it is looking at the scenario in a very limited context.

What does the RP look like in the aftermath when the Paladin has to contend with the fact that they did the right thing, but the powers of Good/their god abandoned them anyway?
Is the Paladin who will do anything, even an evil act, to save innocent lives more moral than the entity that granted them the power in the first place? Less moral? Is such an entity even worth returning to, knowing that if a similar situation arises again, that paladin will have to be forsaken once again in order to do the most good?
Perhaps they'll reject the very idea of seeking atonement; after all, they did what was necessary and were punished for it.
Or maybe it's during the atonement quest the Paladin realizes that Iomedae (or whomever), if they were *truly* the champion for Good they claim to be (or rather, their clergy claims them to be) would have understood the necessity of the moment, and if they were *truly* as good as that, there would be no need for an atonement.

And so on and so fourth... ;)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

Sovereign Court

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Really liking the explicit prioritization of tenets, thank you.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I'm curious about this tenet:

"You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent. "

It seems to me that:

"refraining from taking action against possible harm to innocents"

which the tenet says is okay. Is identical to:

"Through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it"

which the tenet says isn't.

What scenario are you imagining where the italicised exemption operates to release you from the obligation in bold? (Or when does the bolded bar you from inaction, even though the italics permit you to not act)?

Someone on the other thread mentioned that maybe "potential harm" might be better than "possible harm." Basically, if you see the harm immediately brewing, you have to work to protect the innocent if you can reasonably prevent it, but you wouldn't have to, for instance, depose a benevolent but foolish ruler from power because an innocent might some day potentially come to harm through the ruler's foolish decisions (and thus wouldn't be allowed to depose the ruler, because doing so would violate a lower tenet).

Ah, I see. To me it seems like maybe "imminent evil" is the key? You have to act to prevent imminent harm, but you're not obligated to act merely when meeting someone you're pretty sure is going to do bad things down the track?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I'm curious about this tenet:

"You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent. "

It seems to me that:

"refraining from taking action against possible harm to innocents"

which the tenet says is okay. Is identical to:

"Through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it"

which the tenet says isn't.

What scenario are you imagining where the italicised exemption operates to release you from the obligation in bold? (Or when does the bolded bar you from inaction, even though the italics permit you to not act)?

Someone on the other thread mentioned that maybe "potential harm" might be better than "possible harm." Basically, if you see the harm immediately brewing, you have to work to protect the innocent if you can reasonably prevent it, but you wouldn't have to, for instance, depose a benevolent but foolish ruler from power because an innocent might some day potentially come to harm through the ruler's foolish decisions (and thus wouldn't be allowed to depose the ruler, because doing so would violate a lower tenet).
Ah, I see. To me it seems like maybe "imminent" is the key? You have to act to prevent imminent harm, but you're not obligated to act merely when meeting someone you're pretty sure is going to do bad things down the track?

Right. For instance, you don't get carte blanche to go around killing people who are evil aligned because "He's evil so he'll probably hurt an innocent at some point."


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

That's what I figured, if the act was pending, from the prioritization of the tenets - which I do appreciate.

What is more unclear is what the paladin is supposed to do if they come around a corner and see it already going down, and is too late to stop it.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

That's what I figured, if the act was pending, from the prioritization of the tenets - which I do appreciate.

What is more unclear is what the paladin is supposed to do if they come around a corner and see it already going down, and is too late to stop it.

If they can't stop it, they can't stop it. They actually have a lot of options at this point. I'd say they can't ambush-revenge-murder the samurai for killing the peasant, but they could proceed in any number of other ways (including several possibilities that involve eventually attacking the samurai, such as stepping forward and calling the samurai's act cowardly and dishonorable, and stating that she can't abide the samurai killing more innocents, which based on your characterization of the samurai seems very likely to get her challenged to a duel)


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

That's what I figured, if the act was pending, from the prioritization of the tenets - which I do appreciate.

What is more unclear is what the paladin is supposed to do if they come around a corner and see it already going down, and is too late to stop it.

Well as it is written...

If there is no immanent danger, as the person is dead, there's not much you can do.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I'm curious about this tenet:

"You must not take actions that you know will harm an innocent, or through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it. This tenet doesn't force you to take action against possible harm to innocents or to sacrifice your life and future potential in an attempt to protect an innocent. "

It seems to me that:

"refraining from taking action against possible harm to innocents"

which the tenet says is okay. Is identical to:

"Through inaction cause an innocent to come to immediate harm when you knew your action could reasonably prevent it"

which the tenet says isn't.

What scenario are you imagining where the italicised exemption operates to release you from the obligation in bold? (Or when does the bolded bar you from inaction, even though the italics permit you to not act)?

Someone on the other thread mentioned that maybe "potential harm" might be better than "possible harm." Basically, if you see the harm immediately brewing, you have to work to protect the innocent if you can reasonably prevent it, but you wouldn't have to, for instance, depose a benevolent but foolish ruler from power because an innocent might some day potentially come to harm through the ruler's foolish decisions (and thus wouldn't be allowed to depose the ruler, because doing so would violate a lower tenet).
Ah, I see. To me it seems like maybe "imminent" is the key? You have to act to prevent imminent harm, but you're not obligated to act merely when meeting someone you're pretty sure is going to do bad things down the track?
Right. For instance, you don't get carte blanche to go around killing people who are evil aligned because "He's evil so he'll probably hurt an innocent at some point."

Cheers.

Really nice work on the code, by the way. The idea of ranking the tenets is one of those ideas that's so obvious after someone else has it that you very quickly find yourself assuming it's always been like that.

I don't want to boost your ego too much, but a bit like Newton's insight that things keep moving until a force acts on them. :)


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

That's what I figured, if the act was pending, from the prioritization of the tenets - which I do appreciate.

What is more unclear is what the paladin is supposed to do if they come around a corner and see it already going down, and is too late to stop it.

If they can't stop it, they can't stop it. They actually have a lot of options at this point. I'd say they can't ambush-revenge-murder the samurai for killing the peasant, but they could proceed in any number of other ways (including several possibilities that involve eventually attacking the samurai, such as stepping forward and calling the samurai's act cowardly and dishonorable, and stating that she can't abide the samurai killing more innocents, which based on your characterization of the samurai seems very likely to get them into a duel)

Alright. I'm glad that your interpretation lines up with how I ruled that very thing in the past as a GM, which makes the 2E code seem a lot more favorable to me than the 1E code. That is a hopeful prospect for cutting out at least half of the "paladin falls" threads :)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Steve Geddes wrote:

Cheers.

Really nice work on the code, by the way. The idea of ranking the tenets is one of those ideas that's so obvious after someone else has it that you very quickly find yourself assuming it's always been like that.

I don't want to boost your ego too much, but a bit like Newton's insight that things keep moving until a force acts on them. :)

Eh, on the internet, creators get dumped on a lot more often than praised. I don't think people here can boost our ego too much, or at least it hasn't happened yet!

But yeah, one of the deep insights that the prof I TAed under always stressed is that simple is not the same as trivial, and it's easy to dismiss something that seems so simple and obvious when you hear it as being a small contribution when really it was a game-changer; your insight here is in the same vein.


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You can spend forever trying to tweak the code, but as long as there is a way for a Paladin to fall, there will be GMs out there making the entire game about it. And they will do just about anything to force those Paladins to fall even if a whole bunch of rocks have to fall and kill everyone.

Personally, I wouldn’t create any rules that could be easily twisted into meaning “you can’t play the character you created anymore while the rest of the group can.” Just my 2 cp.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

Mark, what is the official stance on how "respect the lawful authority of the legitimate ruler or leadership in whichever land you may be" interacts with being in a land with cruel, but lawfully enacted practices and mores?

Say, your paladin finds himself in ancient japan circa any year before the abolishment of slavery in 1590. You are in a land where people are not only routinely oppressed, but as you are traveling and observing this, you see a samurai murder a hapless serf in front of you for merely having irritated him - something fully in his legal authority to do.

What, OFFICIALLY, is the Paladin supposed to do in this case, according to Paizo?

In PF1? It's very tricky. In PF2's code as shown in the blog, you explicitly can ignore that lawful authority to protect the innocent serf because protecting the innocent is a higher tenet.

Question: Are the alignment descriptions changing from PF1 to PF2?

I ask because, as written, the Paladin code is too flimsy for a truly LG character, but fits rather perfectly for a NG character.

So how is this action (ignoring a tenet of the code for the greater good) not a perfect example of Neutral Goodness in action?


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HWalsh wrote:

Here is the problem with designing a Kobiyashi Maru (which is basically what this is) or a no-win situation. A situation where the Paladin is forced to fall in order to save someone.

There are a couple major issues. The first of which is, these situations require a lot of planning to pull off. So much planning that they rarely, if ever, will realistically happen. If you ever do this in a game, you've intentionally set up the situation for it to happen and that means you basically targeted the Paladin because these are almost impossible.

To quote Captain James T. Kirk - "I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

Paizo already have one in an oficial AP.

The only way to progress is to use an evil artifact, known repository of evil rituals, which a pair of LG outsiders explicitly tell you not to use and ask you to give up so they can put it in a safe place.

In my Starfinder game, there was a discussion about the property of a valuable asteroid between a bunch of hard working salt of the earth miners who wanted it to pay to the widows of other miners, and a heartless corporation who had the real rights to the thing

Not only those things aren't rare in my games. They are sought after. And it has nothing to do with targeting paladins, there are no paladins in Starfinder. It has to do with me liking complex decisions where good and evil, and right and wrong, aren't clear cut.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Every example in this thread thus far is the most “theorycrafty” of theorycrafting! In 35 years of D&D I have never once run into any moral quandries even approaching these levels of contrivance, whether anyone was playing a paladin or not. Never seen anything near it in a PF1 adventure, a PF compatible module, or for that matter an AD&D or D&D product either. The worst I think I’ve seen is the old “goblin babies in a raiding encampment” scenario, and if this resolves that, we’re good.

Sure, my home insurance policy could include Martian invasions, but I think I’m happy with the level of risk...

Liberty's Edge

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Neo2151 wrote:

Question: Are the alignment descriptions changing from PF1 to PF2?

I ask because, as written, the Paladin code is too flimsy for a truly LG character, but fits rather perfectly for a NG character.

So how is this action (ignoring a tenet of the code for the greater good) not a perfect example of Neutral Goodness in action?

Huh? A Paladin's fourth highest priority of all priorities she can possibly have is obeying the law. The only times they can ever break it are when obeying it is an Evil act, when obeying it will harm an innocent, or when obeying it is dishonorable.

That's such a tiny fraction of the time that Paladins remain among the most law abiding people ever. Hell, they can fall for jaywalking if they're not doing it to save a life!

Also, prioritizing one's personal Code over the local laws is a perfectly acceptable Lawful position to take.

And finally, Paladins have always prioritized Good over Law. They have Smite Evil and Detect Evil, not smite Chaos and Detect Chaos, y'know?

Really, it's a horribly inappropriate Code for NG. NG wouldn't even have the 'respect laws' point, and probably wouldn't have the 'act with honor' point either, both are quintessentially Lawful. They'd keep the top two points, sure, but the bottom two wouldn't even be on their list (they'd presumably be replaced with other restrictions, I guess...though the fact that those are almost impossible to come up with for NG is one reason I'm in favor of the 'four corner' Paladin Alignments solution, I can easily come up with some for CG).


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
And finally, Paladins have always prioritized Good over Law. They have Smite Evil and Detect Evil, not smite Chaos and Detect Chaos, y'know?

This is kinda the crux of my point, actually.

The Lawful Good character is at a legitimate impasse when legitimate authority prevents action against evil. By weakening the code the way PF2 looks to be doing, it's essentially saying that Paladins are going to be Lawful... eh, kinda. Good is what really matters.
...
Which is pretty much NG in a nutshell: Do the best good. If the law is the best good, obey it. If the law gets in the way of good, discard it.

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