Poisadins. Paladoisons?


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"I'm sorry I poisoned the entire thread by buying them a round at the bar? I was just trying to be friendly!"

Scarab Sages

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You defend yourself from a poisoned blade the same way you defend yourself from a normal blade: don't get hit. One of them just does more damage. If skill is the primary determinant of honor, then does a Paladin fall for fighting at his full potential against a lower CR opponent?

Also, as for explosions vs.chemical warfare, yeah, that doesn't make sense in the real world either. :P


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Has to be said, but part of why dishonor is attached to poison historically was who was doing the poisoning, which was primarily women (wives in particular) and servants. Swords are expensive. So is armor. But quite a few poisons were available in every household, and were notoriously hard to detect after the fact.

But everyone has access to weapons in Golarian. Even Goblins. Meanwhile poisons are MUCH more expensive there than on earth, as well far less effective. If anything, I would surmise that poison is considered the posh option, as only people who can afford to be relatively ineffective would dream of using them. Like, say, a paladin wanting to prove a point or trying very hard not to kill their target.

Shadow Lodge

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graystone wrote:
bookrat wrote:
A lot of it has to do with the fact that a sharpened bit of metal is something you can fight against.

This argument breaks down once magic gets involved. Can you fight against fire? Acid?Bewildering [1d6 rds confusion],? Wounding [bleed]? Vorpal [sever head]?

None of the enchants are deemed dishonorable but tag it as poison and even of it have the exact same effect, one is 'bad' and the other isn't. For instance, Giant wasp poison drops dex = 'bad' but not so for touch of gracelessness.

Yeah, I completely agree with the issue with magic.

It leads to an interesting question: why the difference?

I think there could be a couple of different answers, and each one depends on the local culture.

1) Lots of magic. Here, I would suspect that magic is considered the same as a sword. That is, anyone could train in it's use and any use of it would be a test of skill. Therefore, using it would not be less than honorable. But even here, poison cannot be trained to defend against.

2) Minimal or no magic. Here, I would suspect that magic is as feared as poison, and the use of it would be considered just as vial. Its not something you can train up; only the most rare person can use it and many would fear their power. The use of magic could be considered highly dishonorable.

3) Somewhere in-between those, with an attitude that is likewise somewhere in-between.

Of course, these are just my own specifications. How the world of Golarion falls in it is up to the designers, but no matter which way you slice it, poison is still something that can not be defended against with training and skill. And that distinction is what leads me to believe that it is not honorable to use.

Even with all that, there is one other possibility for poison's unique position as something disreputable: the association of cowardice amongst those who employ it as a weapon for murder. Cowardice, as we all know, is very much against any code of honor and chivalry. Serial poisoners are almost universally cowards - to the point where practically every known one in real world history was a coward. That simple association may be enough to bar its use amongst the honor driven; they would not want to risk the label of a coward.

Scarab Sages

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bookrat wrote:
Of course, these are just my own specifications. How the world of Golarion falls in it is up to the designers, but no matter which way you slice it, poison is still something that can not be defended against with training and skill. And that distinction is what leads me to believe that it is not honorable to use.

Actually, ESPECIALLY in the context of an RPG, poison is something you can explicitly defend against with training and skill. I mean, that's what Fortitude saves are. Isn't AC just a take-10 version of a Fortitude save against getting stabbed?

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Y'know, I could *almost* get behind a 'LG only' paladin if they were *required* to carry sedatives and incapacitating poisons to mitigate wholesale slaughter of folks who have fought well past the level of better judgement.

After all, if it was a requirement, they'd HAVE to do it, being LG and all.

Shadow Lodge

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graystone wrote:
bookrat wrote:
A lot of it has to do with the fact that a sharpened bit of metal is something you can fight against.

This argument breaks down once magic gets involved. Can you fight against fire? Acid?Bewildering [1d6 rds confusion],? Wounding [bleed]? Vorpal [sever head]?

None of the enchants are deemed dishonorable but tag it as poison and even of it have the exact same effect, one is 'bad' and the other isn't. For instance, Giant wasp poison drops dex = 'bad' but not so for touch of gracelessness.

I realized that as I was trying to create a thought provoking response, I never actually addressed your specific examples. I apologise.

I think you bring up an interesting point, and it's a point that I also brought up early in the thread.

I think it's something we should ponder when we make a paladin PC and discuss it with our DM during session 0. Is my paladin one who considers the use of a vorpal blade or an acid splash weapon to be a dishonorable use of magic? Or does my paladin believe that such use is a natural part of combat aptitude?

One could also say the same thing with poisons, although with poisons there is a finer line to walk - one must insure that they will not harm an innocent by their actions, even unintentionally, as dictated by the Code.


Jurassic Pratt wrote:
We also aren't told that acid flasks and corrosive weapons are evil or dishonorable. Yet historically acid has repeatedly been used by evil groups in very dishonorable ways. Yet most players don't seeem to have an issue with using those or consider them dishonorable in Golarion.

I can't agree that your examples is valid. Historically, acid hasn't been a tool used to kill people for as long as poison has. Acid requires chemistry and that isn't readily available, "historically." Poison is. It can be found in nature from marine life, snakes, frogs, insects, and plants. Acid, potent enough to kill, has to be manufactured unless you happen to be near a hot springs. So society doesn't have a familiarity with acid like it does with poison. That's another way of saying use of acid to kill people is comparatively new.

More to the point, it's generally not employed by individuals but by armies or governments. Sure, drug dealers might use it on people, but go watch Forensic Files and far more people are being killed by poison than acid. The point here is that the cultural/societal attitude towards poisons is far more pervasive than acid.

The other problem with your argument is that there is no honorable way for an evil person to go about killing the innocent. Name a single way evil people kill others that is considered honorable? You can't. Evil groups have used knives and ropes in dishonorable ways, that doesn't make using a knife dishonorable for a Paladin.

The problem with this debate is that Paizo needs to tell us where we go for out definition of honorable, and they probably aren't going to do that because the player and GM need to decide it and that's going to lead to arguments.

Finally, it's not acid use that is evil/dishonorable, it's how/why the acid is being used. I would rule it totally dishonorable if a Paladin went around throwing acid in the face of brigands I would not rule acid against an evil outsider as being dishonorable. I assumed that's what Paizo wants us to wrestle with when the removed poison from the tenets. But now people are interpreting Mark's statement as saying poison use is no different form any other weapon or tool. I hope Paizo clarifies that.


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A very good example of a high charisma charachter absolutely not being the leader would be Elan, from Order of The Stick. Hes far more charismatic then Roy, by a mile. (Id estimate 3-5 points) but hes not the leader because despite being able to inspire people...he wouldnt know what to do with followers if he had them. Also he doesnt want the responsibility.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Davor wrote:

You defend yourself from a poisoned blade the same way you defend yourself from a normal blade: don't get hit. One of them just does more damage. If skill is the primary determinant of honor, then does a Paladin fall for fighting at his full potential against a lower CR opponent?

Also, as for explosions vs.chemical warfare, yeah, that doesn't make sense in the real world either. :P

HP damage does not lower your ability to fight, at least in PF1. Poison does, even if the accompanying HP damage is only 1 point

Shadow Lodge

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N N 959 wrote:
go watch Forensic Files and far more people are being killed by poison than acid. The point here is that the cultural/societal attitude towards poisons is far more pervasive than acid.

Forensic Files focuses soley on the US, where acid isn't employed as a weapon. But there are parts of the world where it is. However, acid as a weapon isn't generally used to kill, it's used to maim and disfigure. And it's mostly used on women.

I would hazardous a guess that the reason people don't view acid as bad in these games is because it isn't accompanied with the usually flesh-melting effects that occur in real life. If acid weapons has a side rule of disfigurement, we'd see a lot fewer uses of it in these games and a much stronger argument against its use Hy good people.

Quote:
The problem with this debate is that Paizo needs to tell us where we go for out definition of honorable

I agree; we've all (or rather, me and at least a few others I've seen) been kind of assuming that the traditional code of chivalry is the default for a definition of honor - mostly because we're discussing the paladin. However, I personally have my own honor code that I've sworn by: the Amry Values. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage.

Notice that "honor" in there? It's defined as living up to the rest of the values listed. More specifically, "Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity, and personal courage in everything you do." No where does it state that you can't employ any weapon at your disposal to get the job done; however, I was duty bound to follow legal and moral orders, and my own rules of engagement would definitely which weapons were acceptable. By this definition, I would require the permission of my superiors to employ poisons or chemical weapons, and since my nation has a treaty with other nations not to use them, that meant that I would not be able to use them for myself. But now that I'm out, I'm not bound to that any more, unless I choose to be (which I do). So let's say I'm in a country where poison use isn't against the law, can I use them? No, because it's still illegal in my home country, which I've sworn an oath to.

I think this is something we're all ignoring: a paladin isn't a one-person army. Paladins belong to some sort of organization, be it political, cultural, or religious. At the very least, paladins have to follow a deity. There's always someone they can go to to get permission and guidelines on what is and isn't acceptable, and from there they have to curb those permissions with their own moral code.

And then, of course, any person whose goal is to be the paramount of goodness wouldn't be the type of person who wants to know where the line is drawn so they can walk a fine balance right next to it. Good people don't seek to know just how bad they can be before they're technically over the line and aim to stay barely on this side of that line. Good people seek to stay away from that line as much as they can, and have personal and moral issues when they get near it. A paladin who is seeking to walk that tightrope is a person who likely would have never become a paladin to begin with if this were all real and the gods were at work deciding who could and could not be a champion of goodness.


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Elegos wrote:
A very good example of a high charisma charachter absolutely not being the leader would be Elan, from Order of The Stick. Hes far more charismatic then Roy, by a mile. (Id estimate 3-5 points) but hes not the leader because despite being able to inspire people...he wouldnt know what to do with followers if he had them. Also he doesnt want the responsibility.

Or from pop culture, look at the bridge crew of the Enterprise-D from ST:TNG.

Picard is a charismatic guy, but is he more charismatic than Riker? Or than Troi? I don't think so, but he is unquestionably the leader.

A high charisma does not always make you a leader. It can, absolutely, but it doesn't have to. A high charisma just means you have a strong force of personality, which may or may not manifest in terms of being likable.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Davor wrote:

You defend yourself from a poisoned blade the same way you defend yourself from a normal blade: don't get hit. One of them just does more damage. If skill is the primary determinant of honor, then does a Paladin fall for fighting at his full potential against a lower CR opponent?

Also, as for explosions vs.chemical warfare, yeah, that doesn't make sense in the real world either. :P

HP damage does not lower your ability to fight, at least in PF1. Poison does, even if the accompanying HP damage is only 1 point

Is a Tanglefoot bag evil?


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Talek & Luna wrote:
Jurassic Pratt wrote:
We also aren't told that acid flasks and corrosive weapons are evil or dishonorable. Yet historically acid has repeatedly been used by evil groups in very dishonorable ways. Yet most players don't seeem to have an issue with using those or consider them dishonorable in Golarion.

That's because acid is used so infrequently and it is so weak an option compared to normal weapons that it is not an issue. Besides trolls or breaking locks I can't think of any instance where I used acid.

Besides I sell acid for commercial applications like removing rust and cleaning out drains. There are some big issues with the acid that make it unsuitable for adventuring.

1) Carrying and storage. Acid as described in PF would break easily just during transportation. When we transport it we have to pack it in sawdust so if the case breaks during transportation the acid is soaked up and does not damage other packages.

2) Its heavy and not very aerodynamic to throw quart sized bottles of this stuff very far.

3) The acid is water based so the more moisture it has the more damage it does. Throwing water on it makes it more potent. The best thing to do is rub dirt on effected area to scrape it off.

4) Depending on the type and potency of the acid it won't effect alot of standard metals in a noticeable way in a six second round associated with Pathfider. If it can then the Gods help you if it breaks while you are carrying it. Since there are no such thing as packing peanuts in PF you are in big trouble.

a corrosive sword does acid damage. It is pretty easy to use, and you don't have to carry anything bulky.


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"I hope I can keep buying the thread adult beverages and don't fall because of it -- well, unless I'm drunk?"

Shadow Lodge

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On my drive to work, I was pondering some ways where a paladin, or at least a person who has sworn an oath of law and goodness, would be able to use poisons. Here's what I've come up with:

1) It's not illegal or considered dishonorable in any of the following to which they have sworn to follow the laws: culture, country, church, deity, or other organization. If a person has sworn an oath or given a promise to be a part of any of the above, then they have to follows the laws of all the organizations to which they belong. If any one of them ban the use of poison or consider poison to be dishonorable, that person won't use them.

2) It won't lead to the harm of an innocent person either be action or inaction (such as leaving a poison to be found by the target; high risk of an innocent person finding it first; or using a cloud dispersant poison hitting everyone in an area without regards to who they are).

3) If poisons are not allowed by any in 1, then they should see to be given explicit permission by the relevant organizations in 1 to use it for a specific mission (such as fighting a monster who can only be harmed by poison). A lawful person wouldn't take it upon themselves to simply ignore the laws of places to which they're sworn, but would rather seek permission to use it lawfully.

4) They must not be in a location where the local laws also forbid the use without first getting permission.

And the same would hold true for not just poison, but for any specific type of magic they may employ as well.

If a person does not want to be bound to the rules of an organization (such as a country, culture, religion, church, deity, etc), then they should not swear an oath or fealty to that organization. If they do, and then do not follow the rules, then they are breaking their word (aka lying), and that's against the Paladin Code.

One can get around this conundrum by swearing loyalty to as few organizations as possible, perhaps only sweating to a deity.

So if you want to play a paladin who uses poisons, first choose a deity who not against its use. Then refuse to swear loyalty to anything else (culture, country, church, other organizations) that bans its use. Then remain in a locale that does not ban it. And finally, use it only in a manner that does not violate any other tenet of your code.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gustavo iglesias wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Davor wrote:

You defend yourself from a poisoned blade the same way you defend yourself from a normal blade: don't get hit. One of them just does more damage. If skill is the primary determinant of honor, then does a Paladin fall for fighting at his full potential against a lower CR opponent?

Also, as for explosions vs.chemical warfare, yeah, that doesn't make sense in the real world either. :P

HP damage does not lower your ability to fight, at least in PF1. Poison does, even if the accompanying HP damage is only 1 point
Is a Tanglefoot bag evil?

Not evil but might be dishonorable. Poison's impact on fighting ability is harder to get rid of too


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graystone wrote:
Why are all paladins treated like they come from one particular place/time in history?

And this is the inherent problem with a class whose agency/morality is suppose to be immutable. In a home game, player and GM need to sit down and hash it out. But in PFS, if you have players from different cultural or educational backgrounds, there can be material differences in what one considers honorable.

I'll repeat my request for Paizo to step in and provide the community with guidance on this topic:

Paizo, are we really suppose to treat poison use as no different from any other weapon?

Shadow Lodge

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N N 959 wrote:


I'll repeat my request for Paizo to step in and provide the community with guidance on this topic:

Paizo, are we really suppose to treat poison use as no different from any other weapon?

With the new edition, a Paladin is only required to swear to two things: The Oath and a Deity. So long as the deity is ok with poisons and the specific action doesn't violate the tenets of the oath, then the use of poisons is ok, according to Paizo. That's their stance.

If a paladin (aka a player) then chooses to swear loyalty to something else (culture, country, church, etc), and that group forbids poisons, then *that* paladin cannot use poisons. But that's a player choice and a role-playing choice. It's not a rules requirement.

Plus I like that visual:

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"I am poisoning my blade"
"Isn't that illegal?!?"
"In Korvis? Yes. But we are Thrune. Here Poisons are legal... And, often unfortunately, prevalent. Here a wanderer may be judged by the quality of the poison they have applied. I purchased a relatively flashy, but slow poison at the apothecary in that town we passed. As you know I am not one to lying. I can only hope this lets us avoid more altercations with opportunists"

Which I think allows for a lot more story than "Can't use poisons"


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bookrat wrote:
With the new edition, a Paladin is only required to swear to two things: The Oath and a Deity. So long as the deity is ok with poisons and the specific action doesn't violate the tenets of the oath, then the use of poisons is ok, according to Paizo. That's their stance.

As a GM, I don't agree. Let's look at exactly what the Blog said,

Paladin Blog wrote:
While there are certainly dishonorable ways to use poison, poisoning a weapon and using it in an honorable combat that allows enhanced weaponry doesn't seem much different than lighting the weapon on fire.

The Blog is suggesting that if two sides agree that using poison is within the rules of a specific "honorable" combat, then poison use is not automatically dishonorable. That's not the same as saying poison use is no different than any other weapon. In fact, the Blog prefaces this rule change by acknowledging that poison can be used dishonorably and even suggest that general use is not honorable outside of a specific context. One reason to preface this rule change as such, is if Paizo still agrees that the mere use of poison is what might make an act dishonorable e.g. pricking someone with a poison dart.

Rationale minds can disagree on this topic, so I think Paizo needs to clarify whether Golarion society views poison use as it generally viewed in RL i.e. dishonorable, or that it is no longer considered inherently dishonorable.

Shadow Lodge

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N N 959 wrote:
Rationale minds can disagree on this topic, so I think Paizo needs to clarify whether Golarion society views poison use as it generally viewed in RL i.e. dishonorable, or that it is no longer considered inherently dishonorable.

I feel like this is where the problem lies. There is no generalized Golarion culture. Golarion is made up of tons of smaller countries, each with their own culture. And many of those countries are inundated with different cultures within them.

Paizo would be able to say which of these cultures allow it and which don't, but you can't really combine all of them together to come up with a generalized culture.

It's like asking about the Eurasian culture, without regards to the differences between the many countries of Europe, the many countries of the middle East, the many countries that have formed out of old Russia, the many countries of Asia, and the many cultures within each of those.

You can make such a request of Varisia or even Mwangi, but you can't expect that what hold true for either of those will still hold true for the Mammoth Lords or Taldor. And then, within each of those, how are things influenced by subcultures and religions?

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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I have removed some posts and replies to those posts. There are a variety of play styles and no one way is more correct than others. Do not tell other posters they are playing the game wrong.

Snide, sarcastic, aggressive, attacking, baiting, or dismissive posts do not contribute anything to the conversation. Avoid making posts with those behaviors, and step away from the thread for a little while and cool off if avoiding them is becoming challenging.


bookrat wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
Rationale minds can disagree on this topic, so I think Paizo needs to clarify whether Golarion society views poison use as it generally viewed in RL i.e. dishonorable, or that it is no longer considered inherently dishonorable.

I feel like this is where the problem lies. There is no generalized Golarion culture. Golarion is made up of tons of smaller countries, each with their own culture. And many of those countries are inundated with different cultures within them.

Paizo would be able to say which of these cultures allow it and which don't, but you can't really combine all of them together to come up with a generalized culture.

It's like asking about the Eurasian culture, without regards to the differences between the many countries of Europe, the many countries of the middle East, the many countries that have formed out of old Russia, the many countries of Asia, and the many cultures within each of those.

You can make such a request of Varisia or even Mwangi, but you can't expect that what hold true for either of those will still hold true for the Mammoth Lords or Taldor. And then, within each of those, how are things influenced by subcultures and religions?

I think this is a good point, but the real question and its answer has to come from where is the paladin getting their supernatural powers? Because it is not from any of the nations of Golarion, it seems like it would be more of a matter of what the paladin's sponsoring god or divine power's thoughts on the matter would be. This probably goes for every issue of whether a paladin would fall or not, because no matter how ridged the code, it will always come down to some interpretative force, and probably the different gods that can sponsor paladin's will have slightly different interpretations on this code.

I understand that these gods are not real, so it will still ultimately fall to the GM to decide these things for themselves, and it probably isn't worth paizo's time to arbitrate every possible scenario on their own, but it might be worth having somewhere in the paladin section of the book (or the GM section of the book) how to create arbitrations based off of in game mechanics instead of real life ethics or theories, and how to do so as fairly, consistently, and predictably to avoid situations where a player feels like the rules have been changed to penalize them personally.


bookrat wrote:
I feel like this is where the problem lies. There is no generalized Golarion culture.

Sure there is. There's a general culture that taking one's horse into a bar isn't acceptable. There's a general culture that sleeping with another man's wife isn't acceptable. There's a general culture that you don't walk around in public naked.

The fact that there may be some corner case cultures/tribes/lost kingdoms where something like poisoning your rivals is deemed to be acceptable by a Paladin, is not a sufficient reason for Paizo to be unable to talk about a general attitude. What's more, a general census that poison use is dishonorable isn't some marked departure from Paladin tradition or expectations. Lifting it from the tenets just allows a Paladin to avoid falling for something like ritual combat with poisons.

It's the same exact problem for what is considered lawful and chaotic, good or evil. Paizo has to set up a framework. I have a hard time agreeing that Paizo's removal of poison use from a tenet is tantamount to Paizo declaring that poison no longer as any associated stigma outside of one's diety. In fact, the blog explicitly states that some uses of poison can be dishonorable, so clearly 2e concedes poison use could be unethical in a way that an enhanced sword is not.


For people who think poison use can be honorable, can you name any culture where their heroes poisoned people?

The Exchange

N N 959 wrote:
bookrat wrote:
I feel like this is where the problem lies. There is no generalized Golarion culture.

Sure there is. There's a general culture that taking one's horse into a bar isn't acceptable. There's a general culture that sleeping with another man's wife isn't acceptable. There's a general culture that you don't walk around in public naked.

The fact that there may be some corner case cultures/tribes/lost kingdoms where something like poisoning your rivals is deemed to be acceptable by a Paladin, is not a sufficient reason for Paizo to be unable to talk about a general attitude. What's more, a general census that poison use is dishonorable isn't some marked departure from Paladin tradition or expectations. Lifting it from the tenets just allows a Paladin to avoid falling for something like ritual combat with poisons.

It's the same exact problem for what is considered lawful and chaotic, good or evil. Paizo has to set up a framework. I have a hard time agreeing that Paizo's removal of poison use from a tenet is tantamount to Paizo declaring that poison no longer as any associated stigma outside of one's diety. In fact, the blog explicitly states that some uses of poison can be dishonorable, so clearly 2e concedes poison use could be unethical in a way that an enhanced sword is not.

I could not disagree with you more. Poison is considered immoral and a sign of weak character. Just like there are spells that actually carry the taint of evil and cause a paladin to fall, poison use should fall under the exact same code. If you are going to just make paladins grey characters where morality does not matter then just get rid of the class and make fighter/clerics easy to create. The role playing aspect of the paladin is greater than the sum of her abilities. If you cannot play a moral character that has to be above the normal filth of society and cannot triumph without resorting to every dastardly trick in the book then do not create a class and call it a paladin.


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johnlocke90 wrote:
For people who think poison use can be honorable, can you name any culture where their heroes poisoned people?

Philoctetes kills Paris with hercules' poisoned arrows. Heracles slaying the centaur Nessus using arrows poisoned with the blood of the Lernaean Hydra. The Greek hero Odysseus poisons his arrows with hellebore in Homer's Odyssey. Both Achaeans and Trojans used toxic arrows and spears in the trojan war. Indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin use war curare [different from hunting curare] for tribal wars.


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Talek & Luna wrote:
I could not disagree with you more. Poison is considered immoral and a sign of weak character.

As much as a magic weapon makes you weak. Both give you an advantage in combat but one is arbitrary 'bad'. Unless you make your paladins fight with plain mundane weapons and armor, you're NEVER going to have a 'even' fight. Heck, smite evil give the paladin an unfair advantage as it give the paladin an unfair AC boost if you go down that route. A 'strong' character wouldn't NEED that kind of cheat to win in a fair fight after all. ;)


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If you don't want paladins to use poison then you adjust it for your campaign, the same way someone might if they want paladins of different alignments.

The Exchange

knightnday wrote:

If you don't want paladins to use poison then you adjust it for your campaign, the same way someone might if they want paladins of different alignments.

No, how about if you WANT paladins to use poison adjust it for your campaign. I like the thought of a warrior with Judeo-Christian values that fights for a just cause. If you don't enjoy that idea than play something else. Do not play a paladin.

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