Oathbound Paladin - How can the oath be changed in Society Play?


Pathfinder Society

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

9 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata.

So this has stirred up quite a bit of debate on our local forums, so I thought I would bring it up here. Here's the central bit of contention from the archetype description:

Quote:
Paladins who take up an oath may make a sacred promise to their god or temple to perform some specific and grand action associated with the oath. For example, an oathbound paladin who takes the Oath of Vengeance may be tasked with killing the orc warlord who razed her home city, while a paladin with the Oath against the Wyrm may be asked to secure a nonaggression pact with a family of dragons. When a paladin completes the sacred promise, the oath is fulfilled, and she may abandon the oath if she so chooses; she may then select another oath or become a standard paladin or a different paladin archetype.

Some people have suggested that the wording makes it perfectly legal to make an oath worded in such a way that the conditions can be fulfilled in a single level or scenario, then change to another oath. (For example make an Oath against Undeath when playing a scenario set in a sealed tomb, then change to an Oath against Fiends for a trip to the Worldwound.) Others believe that such a carefully worded oath might prevent it from being a "grand action" and great dissent would be caused determining whether or not the oath was fulfilled. The issue of class features disappearing and reappearing as oaths change has also been raised.

So what's the Society ruling on this? Does a Paladin have to stay with an oath unless atonement happens? Or can she change from one to another by fulfilling specific short-term goals? What happens to class features when oaths change?


Looks like we both started the thread too close to each other :)

Mods feel free to delete one.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

Having been involved in the discussion and how inconclusive it was, I think this is vague enough to mark as FAQ.


"Dear GM, did I complete my sacred promise, as laid out in the oath, during this session? If so, please mark it as such on my chronicle, and please sign that I'm swearing a new oath."

Maybe?

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

The problem with that is DM interpretation. In our forums, many of the DMs would not allow such a liberal switching of oaths as they feel it is not "grand" enough, while others did. I also feel it is up to interpretation.

Another problem is there is no "time" or "scale" given on taking an oath. You see a dragon: Hence, you take the vow against the wyrm immediately (since it doesn't say how long it takes) and once you slay it, you have fulfilled your oath. A one battle oath. Or you take an oath for the scenario and your oath changes every single scenario. Or you have an oath that may never be fulfilled. It seems there's not enough direction given for organized play.


I don't see why you would insert some time requirement when the oaths themselves do not specify such a rule.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

So you think that you can willy-nilly switch between oaths in battle and such?

Well, I agree with you, because that seems to be how it is written.
The time requirement is not the only problem, though.

Many of the DMs I know would not allow this because it is not a "grand" act, which IS in the description of the Oathbound Paladin.

Quote:
Paladins who take up an oath may make a sacred promise to their god or temple to perform some specific and grand action associated with the oath.

"Grand" is up for extreme interpretation. While I would completely ignore this phrase entirely as it is completely subjective, many won't.


Yea, and the GMs would decide if it's grand enough, like they do with alignment changes.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

OK, not willy-nilly, I mean make oaths and fulfill them.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

So I guess it's one of those "up to interpretation" things, huh? It's one of those YMMV situations.

I still feel that there needs to be some more precedence in this situation, though, such as with the Evolutionist archetype being able to change eidolons once a scenario specifically for PFS.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Here's my over-the-top example from the local boards:

At sixth level, I am set to play a scenario called "It came from Beyond!" so I take an Oath against Corruption. We successfully defeat the aberrations, and I notice that the next scenario I'm signed up to play is "Temple of the Deadites." I change to an Oath against Undeath. Hey, my Aura of Courage is back, and I now detect undead. Plus my armor is Ghost Touch. Yeah, I used my fatigue mercy a lot last scenario, but I don't have it any more, good thing I still have the diseased mercy. We killed the Deadites and my next scenario is called "Against the Black Dragon." That's definitely cause for an Oath against the Wyrm. Hey, I just got a third level mercy! Let me make it sickened. And since my bond is with my mount, my Aura of Courage no longer affects any of my companions (thank goodness it did when those mummies showed up last scenario). Next scenario I may take Oath of Charity and my bonded mount will disappear.

In addition to the whole Paladin Code thing it's the gaining and losing of class features that really gives me heartburn.


My original questions from my double post (paraphrased):

1. Are you allowed to take the Oathbound Paladin archetype (say at level 1), but not an Oath.

2. Is "Oathbound" the archetype, or are the oaths themselves the archetypes.

3. Example: I am a level 1 paladin, and swear an Oath against Wyrms. I roll along, and level 10 I kill a red dragon. I can say I fulfilled my oath (who says? Me? GM?) then am now oathless. Can I even take another oath, as per RAW you can not take any archetypes if they modify an ability gained at previous levels, and all legal oaths modify pre-level 10 abilities. Is my only choice to become a vanilla paladin then?

4. Assuming oaths can be fulfilled in PFS, is it GM interpretation, or does the player have a say on what would be the qualifiers for fulfilling his oath.

Root cause of question:
This all began because I am currently signed up to a game day where my paladin is the only healer, and was thinking about taking an Oath of Charity to boost my lay on hands healing to help the group. However, if I am not allowed to fulfill oaths I would not do so because I would not want to give up my divine bond come level 5. If oaths can't be fulfilled between sessions/levels/GM discretion then I will just stick to wands of CLW and go with my original plan, which is to pickup Oath of Vengeance at lvl 4.

Actually, the more I think about it it seems that question #2 is the crux of the matter.


Bumping now that we are past the weekend.

Ended up not attempting to make this fly, as we had a Druid with us after all. I did pick up Oath of Vengeance at lvl 4, so I would still like to know how that would work at some point.


Shameless bump. I'm interested in some perspective on this. Anyone with a thought, please contribute!


Checking one last time on this before I let it die, although it looks like we might not have an answer for now. I might have to track down Mike at Gencon and see what he thinks :P

Liberty's Edge

I guess I had not ever really read the text closely enough to even think about this issue. In my area, what few paladins we do have tend to play just vanilla paladins. I unfortunately can't give an official answer or even really a well-supported suggestion on how to rule this, because as best as I can tell it is completely subjective.

My suggestion for PFS play is that the Oaths should be treated as their own separate archetypes (that's the way I've always thought of them anyways). So if you intended to play an Oath of Vengeance Paladin, you would decide that upon reaching 4th level and as far as PFS is concerned, you are an Oath of Vengeance Paladin for the rest of your PFS career. I'm not saying that is how it works by RAW, but that I think would make the most sense for the PFS environment.


James Engle wrote:
My suggestion for PFS play is that the Oaths should be treated as their own separate archetypes (that's the way I've always thought of them anyways). So if you intended to play an Oath of Vengeance Paladin, you would decide that upon reaching 4th level and as far as PFS is concerned, you are an Oath of Vengeance Paladin for the rest of your PFS career. I'm not saying that is how it works by RAW, but that I think would make the most sense for the PFS environment.

That would be how I would view it, as well.

Changing one's oath (i.e., having the GM validate that you've completed your original oath) would be difficult in an OP environment, when your local / table GM isn't empowered to make "GM judgment calls" like this. The campaign's GM is, in essence, the campaign administration, which isn't going to get involved on those sorts of micro-level decisions.

Ultimately, any rules item which boils down to "at your GM's discretion" doesn't work in PFS. Not every character concept will fit into the OP system.


We had a secondary discussion on this last week, and yes, what you just described is one of what we think are two solutions:

1) Individual Oaths are treated as archetypes and once selected that's it.
2) "Oathbound" is the archetype and Oaths are more fluid, and only last for either:
2a. One scenario (as indefinite time passes in between, giving you a chance to complete your oath in that time) or;
2b. When the character fulfills the oath in a scenario at the GM's discretion (filled in the effects/conditions boxes in the chronicle sheets)

I personally think that what makes Oathbound paladins cool is that chance to change my abilities with some kind of fluidity, so I would like it to be #2. We have had the argument (some in posts above) that then you would metagame things like the scenario title to take an Oath that is more appropriate. Of course this can also backfire:

Sewer Dragons of Absalom:
Picking Oath against wyrms on this one MIGHT not be the best choice

My argument for this not being a problem is that Clerics (and to a lesser degree wizards) get to do this all the time. If they THINK a scenario will have a lot of water combat they might prepare a bunch of waterbreathing or control water spells. If they think they are going to a volcano they then pick Endure Elements. So I don't see this being a problem.

All that said, my Paladin is Oath of Vengeance with no desire to switch. But I can see this cropping up again in the future.

Liberty's Edge

CRobledo wrote:

We had a secondary discussion on this last week, and yes, what you just described is one of what we think are two solutions:

1) Individual Oaths are treated as archetypes and once selected that's it.
2) "Oathbound" is the archetype and Oaths are more fluid, and only last for either:
2a. One scenario (as indefinite time passes in between, giving you a chance to complete your oath in that time) or;
2b. When the character fulfills the oath in a scenario at the GM's discretion (filled in the effects/conditions boxes in the chronicle sheets)

I personally think that what makes Oathbound paladins cool is that chance to change my abilities with some kind of fluidity, so I would like it to be #2. We have had the argument (some in posts above) that then you would metagame things like the scenario title to take an Oath that is more appropriate. Of course this can also backfire:

** spoiler omitted **
My argument for this not being a problem is that Clerics (and to a lesser degree wizards) get to do this all the time. If they THINK a scenario will have a lot of water combat they might prepare a bunch of waterbreathing or control water spells. If they think they are going to a volcano they then pick Endure Elements. So I don't see this being a problem.

All that said, my Paladin is Oath of Vengeance with no desire to switch. But I can see this cropping up again in the future.

You make a reasonable argument in comparing Clerics and Wizards spell prep with changing oaths, and if the changing of Oaths only granted a different series of powers without affecting the rest of the vanilla paladin abilities I might agree with you. But the problem is that when a Wizard preps different spells for the day, he is not changing any class features outside of his spells, he's just modifying the "spellcasting" class feature. If all oaths did roughly the same thing, like maybe they all changed the mechanics of smite evil slightly and nothing else I think you'd be on to something.

But in my opinion, since each oath has a drastic (and varied) impact on many of the Paladins core class abilities, I think option #1 in your post is really the only one that would work in an organized play environment such as PFS.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Your first option (they can't be changed) is probably the best one for society play. However, if you participate in something 'grand' like the Grand Convocation where in you fight a fleet of black dragons (the event for S2), I'd argue that an Oath against Wyrms paladin can go ahead and check that one off his bucket list and get another oath. Perhaps make selecting a new oath required if/when your current one is completed, and something that cannot happen more than once a level? To avoid people potentially 'gaming' the system, and changing the oath willy-nilly.


I guess to James' point the other question is related to the intent of Oaths. It seems pretty clear RAW that they are meant to be able to be completed and later changed in a HOME GAME. But this is harder to translate into an OP environment. Core class abilities are being replaced by Oaths.

While I do agree that making the Oaths the archetypes and not allowing the change is the easier (and probably fairer) solution, I do feel it kind of kills the flavor for Oathbound.

Liberty's Edge

Is there any particular recognized issue if you'd like to just take one and stick with it? I've been eyeing charity to improve my paladin's healing. I didn't take it at first, but I should be able to pick it up, and perhaps intending to stick with it helps mitigate the concerns with switching oaths often?

And how would the suggested donation be handled? As all Society income is initially in GP before any purchases, that makes striking a fifth of it pretty easy. Should I be making a charity-specific thread instead? I semi-necro'd this one.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

There's no issue with becoming an Oathbound Paladin that sticks to an oath as long as you aren't replacing any class feature you already gained at an earlier level.

As far as the charity I'd do exactly what you suggest. Make a note in "items bought" that you spent X for a donation to a worthy cause where X=1/5 the gold gained.

Scarab Sages

I agree with Belafon, entirely.
A paladin actually sticking to his oath? Can't be much more Lawful than that! :D
And yes, as suggested, put it in "Items Bought", and the money disappears into the PFS ether as far as mechanics goes, just like when you bribe someone, or pay a tax or fine. You "spent" the gold, effectively, as a donation.

Liberty's Edge

Sounds good. And I just made second level, which contains the first ability (lay on hands) modified by the oath of charity, so I should be clear to pick up the archetype at this point, I hope.


Yep, you would be in the clear.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Sorry for the necromancy, but I'm considering making a Paladin in PFS, and the FAQ tag says this was "answered in the errata". What errata? Does anyone have a link?

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Long ago for technical reasons the developers didn't have a "no answer needed" button for FAQ requests, so they were often marked "answered" to get them off their desk. This might be a case of that. (Yes, it's annoying.)

Nowadays, we have rules for retraining archetypes (courtesy of Ultimate Campaign) and since oaths are basically archetypes, those rules should be used.

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