Paladins and other LG's against the feudal order


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Well a feudal system is in no way inherently evil, so I think that it would require some really convoluted thinking to try and square rebellion with Law under those circumstances.
However a Paladin should have no problem engaging in a revolt to replace a specific evil lord, as long as the system is preserved.
In that case much depends on the specific details, feudal societies have a tendency to have lots of rights, freedoms, privileges, obligations and duties for everyone involved in them. In a feudal society everyone has a place.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is the sort of thing that that epic drama is made of. Does a paladin favor tradition and standing with a stolid (and possibly corrupt) authority or does he favor following his heart and personal honor? This sort of dilemma is something I love about the paladin and playing/running for good PCs. It truly allows them to take the initiative and do what they think is best instead of just reacting to plots and schemes.

Rebelling against an authority you believe to be illegitimate is not necessarily chaotic. A populist government is not necessarily chaotic either, as it is governed by the many (ideally, anyway) instead of just one ruler. Something that often goes ignored in D&D games that has occurred in history is the rule of law vs. the rule of the individual. The first is more dependent a code of written laws distinguishing how society is governed, while the latter is more dependent by authority figures. A paladin probably should try to work within the system first to change things, and if that fails, then rebel as a final option.

I think as far as falling, the important thing is that he does what he thinks is right given his code and/or deity and that he does not go so far as to lose sight of what he's going for. I imagine different paladins with different codes, churchs, gods, and personal experiences will react in different ways to uphold their different beliefs. That's why I would be very reluctant to make a paladin fall in a situation like this. In my view in situations like these, a paladin should only fall when he becomes so self-righteous he becomes unwilling to make amends when he sins in the pursuit of justice.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
But at same time Players have to be able to control their characters. If a player can articulate valid reasons consistent with the paladin's code why their character finds an authority illegitimate, then it is unfair to penalize them from playing their character according to their character concept.

It doesn't sound like such a thing is possible in this case. If the nobles were drinking the blood of babies, had deposed the rightful heir to the throne, or were launching peasants out of balistias for target practice then the paladin can say "It doesn't matter what laws you've past, you're going to meet sharp pointy justice upside the head" .

Thats not whats happening here. You're asking a paladin to illegally overthrow the rightful government: ie, kill people, in order to put in an untried, untested group of people with no government experience, education, training,proven ability governing anything larger than a flock of sheep or ANY right to be in charge what so ever. There's no argument that killing people (which is bad) has any real chance of making things better. than a government that can at worst be described as "meh"

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Some GMs don't allow paladins at all and some only allow paladins which adhere to the GMs take on the paladin's code - in which case the GM tells the player what to do, but if players are given freedom to decide how their characters handle the paladin's code then they should be allowed to make meaningful choices.

I do not think such an argument could succeed here. The paladin's code would have to be.. well pretty unpaladin like to be anti run of the mill government.

Players have a responsibility to make characters that fit the campaign. If the campaign is overthrowing the non evil and semi functioning aristocracy then a paladin is a bad fit. Try a chaotic good ranger or an anarchist alchemist.

what you are doing here is telling the paladin to define "legitimate authority" in the paladin's code as "rightful government", or more specifically the existing government. Supporting one side against 'rightful governments' has always been an option of paladin hood in the sources which formed the basis for the class; consider Mallory's Morte d'Arthur in which the Paladins under Arthur overthrow the rightful government of the Romans, or Gui de Bastogne convinces Fierabras to rebel against King Balan (Fierabras' father!!) in Conqueste du Grand Roi Charlemagne. There is no reason for paladins to bound to accept governments merely because they exist, by that standard a paladin would be hard pressed to deal with a band of goblins who's chief (the rightful government) decreed that non-goblins could not attack goblins and goblins could attack humans at will.

In the instant example there is plenty of room for paladin to work note that the feudal government is not unified, there is squabbling & skirmishing between feudal lords and peasants are suffering, which causes the rebellion. Excluding the obligations of feudal lords to the peasantry, the very act of skirmishing between lords can be used to call the legitimacy of the government into question. Since all of the feudal lords hold power directly or indirectly from the King, any skirmish between two is an attack on a King's vassal or sub-vassal and if the King doesn't act to protect his vassals under attack then he is failing to meet his obligation to protect his vassals which is an essential part of the obligations form the basis for the legitimacy of feudal government. That's just one way a paladin could decide that the feudal system is not the legitimate government and the paladin can rebel against it (based on Arthur's rational for rebelling against the Romans from Mallory), more clever people than I can no doubt come up with better ones.

Yes a paladin player should not simply assert that they don't consider the government to be illegitimate. A paladin player who can reasonably show why their character don't consider the government legitimate should be free to play that way.


cnetarian wrote:
what you are doing here is telling the paladin to define "legitimate authority" in the paladin's code as "rightful government", or more specifically the existing government.

Yes, because that's what it is. It is not simply any government the paladin feels like following. The government as described is pretty much par for the course of governments. Worse than some, better than many. If the paladin won't respect that government they'll respect less than half of them.

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Supporting one side against 'rightful governments' has always been an option of paladin hood in the sources which formed the basis for the class; consider Mallory's Morte d'Arthur in which the Paladins under Arthur overthrow the rightful government of the Romans

The knights followed their lawful king that they were sworn to against a foreign oppressor.

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or Gui de Bastogne convinces Fierabras to rebel against King Balan (Fierabras' father!!) in Conqueste du Grand Roi Charlemagne.

Not familiar with that one.

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There is no reason for paladins to bound to accept governments merely because they exist, by that standard a paladin would be hard pressed to deal with a band of goblins who's chief (the rightful government) decreed that non-goblins could not attack goblins and goblins could attack humans at will.

The paladin presumably honors a king who claims the land. There's also a fair bit of racism allowed in D&D morality.

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, the very act of skirmishing between lords can be used to call the legitimacy of the government into question.

This squabling is illegal.. so i'm going to go squabble for another group!

No.

You put an end to it in the name of the king, or you fight with the leige lord that you (or your leige lord ) is sworn to.

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That's just one way a paladin could decide that the feudal system is not the legitimate government and the paladin can rebel against it (based on Arthur's rational for rebelling against the Romans from Mallory), more clever people than I can no doubt come up with better ones.

You're a foreign power, and WE conquered you first, so i'm not paying you tribute you pay US tribute." is a decision the king can make. The knights follow the king.


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I call the power of trope: take the third option. (No links because I'm not evil)
The paladin I play would wash his hands of the politics and just wander the land helping the poor and the abused that open conflict usually leaves, protecting villagers from power drunk mercenaries, healing soldiers in both sides after a battle and taking down any commander that start doing war crimes, like hiring necromancers or slaughtering peasants, no matter if it's an arrogant noble that thinks everyone is beneath him, or if it is a fanatic rebel that believes 'if you're not with us, you're against us'. I think paladins should stay out of political conflicts until one of the sides starts killing children.
That's how I would play, at least.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

This is a cool setting and sound like it would be fun to play in. The rebels sound like they are leaning towards CG though. They are going to need some pretty strong and charismatic leaders to keep it from getting out of hand. Much like the French revolution vs. the American revolution. That leader could be a Paladin himself. This would sever two purposes one to keep the rebels from going to CG, and two would be for some awesome role-playing. It would be very easy for the rebellion to slip into CG and then to pure chaos.

What you really need is something like the declaration of independence. This would give it some structure and form. Some code for the rebels to live by so they do not end up being worse than what they are fighting. Again a paladin as the rebel leader would be awesome.

I'm of the opinion you can be against the feudal order, be against a country of laws and hierarchies while being a variety of alignments. A neutral druid could also oppose Dwarven technocratic feudalism, or a human kingdom expanding its agricultural heartland and fooling communities with its propaganda "More corn for everybody! Everyone wins". CG or CN fits cleanest with rebellion, but when grievances are high, any alignment may have a go at changing what the laws are and who is in control (because they seem to be doing a bad job, lol). So here I've made the rebels Ng. CG rebels I've done and run and thought about before.

The rebels do not need a declaration of independence, they already have an idea of the perfect non-feudal society and don't need to copy-paste Americana into this. It is also a little bit annoying to read, your ikko ikki influenced idea of rebels, needs to be more American. :(

With its religious flavour and worship of an ideal peaceful and mutually benevolent community (NG not CG), it is far more for the greatest benefit to the people. Its declares not independence, but that it is time for total change, so that everyone calms down and stops killing eachother, the imposition of laws and declarations doesn't really matter if there is a singular benevolent body. They are anti-feudal also because their composition is mainly radicalised peasants who have for years had a bad time.


VM mercenario wrote:

I call the power of trope: take the third option. (No links because I'm not evil)

The paladin I play would wash his hands of the politics and just wander the land helping the poor and the abused that open conflict usually leaves, protecting villagers from power drunk mercenaries, healing soldiers in both sides after a battle and taking down any commander that start doing war crimes, like hiring necromancers or slaughtering peasants, no matter if it's an arrogant noble that thinks everyone is beneath him, or if it is a fanatic rebel that believes 'if you're not with us, you're against us'. I think paladins should stay out of political conflicts until one of the sides starts killing children.
That's how I would play, at least.

Nice response, detach from tainted politics and actually do as much good as you can. Focus on good, not protecting a lawful hierarchy. A good way to become a saint/hero as well.


What I meant by a declaration of independence was more of a stated goal. It does not need to be written down anywhere, but there should be some framework of what they are trying to do. As long as everyone is clear on what they are trying to put in place it is good. Without some form of framework it is too easy to degenerate into chaos. The rebels may have already setup their form of government in the structure of the rebellion itself. A better phrasing would have been they need a idea to rally behind.

Most rebellions that are just looking to tear down a form of government end up badly unless they have something to replace it with. In Golarian there are two lands that rebelled against their governments. One was Andoran who had an idea of what they wanted to replace their government with and where successful. The other was Galt who is still in turmoil years later. The big difference was Andoran was trying to change into something they envisioned, where Galt was just trying to change into anything else.

One thing I do see is the rebellion trying to actively recruit paladins. This would setup some really good role playing opportunities where someone the paladin can respect is asking for help fighting evil.

I could see a scenario where the paladin is aided by one of the rebel leaders without him knowing who he is. After a brutal battle with a demon where the paladin is saved by the rebel leader he revels himself and asks for the paladins help. Even better would be if one of the evil lords was responsible for the demon being summoned in the first place.


Hmm, I am tempted to put the context right out there, but I think I've confined it enough. These rebels don't need paper to write down what they represent and it may even not make much sense. They have an ideal, they aren't literate landowners rebelling against the colonising crown. They have been on this land a while, and peasants for a long time. Any actions would have to make sense with their peasant roots.

They may have, not only NG clerics, but NG domain clerics of the community/good/agriculture type. Depends how far the rebellion gets.

Great ideas on the rebels getting the paladins on side. If the paladin falls after helping them for a while (if there is too much chaos and evil acts are done, even while most stay NG, war strains all combatants) the pally may be conflicted. Do I let my fellow followers of the cause know that I have fallen in following the rebellion, or do I still pretend to be a paladin?

Rebel leader tries to get the party to help the rebellion? Why not Old Master?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OldMaster


Unless the paladins deity is opposed to the rebellion then he should not fall for associating with it. You have stated that the rebels are mostly NG so he should be ok. If association with the group is enough to cause him to fall then association to the evil lords should cause him to fall even faster. Evil acts or a change of alignment from LG to NG is what causes a paladin to fall. Unless he commits so many chaotic acts that his alignment actually shifts he will not fall.

If the paladins deity is opposed to the rebellion he will not side with them. What is really going to matter is the attitude of the deity. A paladin of Sarenrae for example will be fine she is more about helping people and has less invested in a specific form of government.

The paladin will have to stand up when the rebellion starts committing evil acts in the name of overthrowing the feudal society. He may even insist that rebels committing the acts be punished or even executed. If the rebels at this point refuse then they are not really NG. He is going to have to do the same to the feudal society.

At this point you have to be careful about what is considered an evil act. Executing an evil lord for crimes against humanity should be fine. Torturing his followers whose only crime is following the lord and have not directly engaged in evil acts is a different story. Killing someone in a battle is also not going to cause a paladin to fall. Even tactics unless outright evil such as the use of poison or summoning up demons will also be fine. wanton killing off non combatants will also be something he is not going to stand for. Capturing some workers for strategic reasons should be fine as long as minimal force is used.

The only thing in the paladins code that would say he falls for associating with the rebels is the clause about respecting legitimate authority. As my earlier post stated there is a hierarchy of authority for a paladin with the top being his deity. As long as his actions are good with his deity he is not going to fall. Think of a cop following the law. Let's say a county passes a law saying that the cop has to do something illegal by state and federal law. some cops will ignore the local law because the higher law overrides the local law.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Simply declaring any evil authority "not legitimate" knocks the paladin down to NG. Declaring any authority that doesn't live up to their standards as not legitimate puts them in line with one of the saner ways to do Chaotic Good.

Ever looked up at the code for a Paladin of Abadar?

They remain Lawful Good while declaring a corrupt authority (usually Evil) as illegitimate.

Also, between Lawful and Good, a Paladin must always choose Good. They have Smite Evil as an ability, not Smite Chaos.


Icyshadow wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Simply declaring any evil authority "not legitimate" knocks the paladin down to NG. Declaring any authority that doesn't live up to their standards as not legitimate puts them in line with one of the saner ways to do chaotic good.

Ever looked up at the code for a Paladin of Abadar?

They remain Lawful Good while declaring a corrupt authority (usually Evil) as illegitimate.

But you don't see them marching into cheliax to take down the empire with force of arms.

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Also, between Lawful and Good, a Paladin must always choose Good. They have Smite Evil, not Smite Chaos.

I'm not arguing that. I'm saying that the choice between lawful or good, the drama of being a paladin, simply is not present in this case. There is no evil to smite. There is no good cause to uphold. There is political system A and political system B... thats it. There is no choice that is inherently good. There is a choice that is inherently lawful.

If the paladin does what they think is good every day, all day, without regard to the law, that's the NEUTRAL good alignment. If you think that keeps the paladin from being the absolute best good that there is then you're right: a paladin is both limited by and draws strength from their code.


They will try subtler tactics in Cheliax, because the armies of Hell itself are backing up House Thrune.

And yeah, that sounds like a scenario where the Paladin is next to useless because of moral ambiguity. They don't need to completely disregard the law, but they have to screw the rules for the greater good when called for such. Also, the Paladin will not lose class abilities for committing Chaotic acts, and that's by RAW.


I'll preface this by saying that I haven't read all of the wall-of-text posts, so I may be rehashing what others have said...

In my games, whenever there's a conflict, a paladin's primary loyalty is to her religion and its code, rather than the laws of the land. After that, loyalty is generally to the laws of her homeland over local laws. Consequently, it's possible for two paladins to be in considerable conflict with each other: and both are right!

An example I wrote, but didn't actually run, for my campaign..,

One of my PCs was a Chelish paladin of Iomedae, and a minor noblewoman. While she wasn't a supporter of the House Thrune and their deviltry, she was a supporter of her homeland, and believed that the main duty of those of noble blood was protecting the commoners. She also believed that, while it was possible for truly exceptional individuals to advance beyond their station, that was the exception to the gods-given natural order.

I had planned for the party to meet and work with an Andorren Eagle Knight paladin of Iomedae. She was going to be a true believer in Common Rule, and that the entire concept of being born into one's station in life was wrong: she objected in principle of rule by those of so-called noble blood, and thought that the people who should rule are those who've shown a capacity for leadership.

The idea was to show the party that there are many ways if playing LG, and that not all good guys are necessarily allies. I ended up not running this because the player of the paladin had to resign from the campaign due to scheduling conflicts in her personal life.


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Icy Shadow wrote:
Also, the Paladin will not lose class abilities for committing Chaotic acts, and that's by RAW.

Not directly, but if they commit enough chaotic acts to Stop being lawful they will. If the adventure is squabbling nobles they can get away with it. A campaign though...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just for once I'd like to see a Paladin thread that's not all about "Ooh another subtle way for a Paladin to be broken."


I'm going to say the paladin goes with the nobles. You can't just rebel and replace the government. That's illegal, until you win.

Also, rebellions in general seldom end well. Peasant rebellions in particular are infamous for ending horribly. If our paladin is a member of the nobility, he has probably studied history, the martial aspects at least. Everything he has studied tells him this will end in chaos and bloodshed. A perfect opening for demonic cults and CE warlords to arise. The best thing he can do is try to end the violence with the least atrocity possible. Don't let the peasant burn noble heirs alive, and don't let the nobles exterminate entire villages. Once the violence has ceased, or at least gone to a nice simmer instead of over-boiling, see what can be done to address the people's concerns.

Now, if the nobles are breaking the law by feuding, the best way to end this may be by siding with the rebels in attacking that noble. "Lord Villianus has broken his sworn oath to the crown. I will aid you in deposing him, but I will not allow you to overthrow the king."


What constitutes a chaotic act? Is it opposing any authority? If that is so paladins do not exist. Every society has its own rules and regulations but that does not mean that someone else not from that culture has to follow them.

Several faiths in the real world have "Laws" against eating pork. The Christian faith does not so according to the arguments of some of the people posting here a Christian knight who has a ham sandwich is no longer a paladin. This may be an exaggeration, but it illustrates a good point. As long as you are following your own code of conduct you are not chaotic. Is that a little arbitrary yes, but so is the alignment system. What being lawful mean is following your own code even when it might not be in your best interest.

Different societies have different codes. One good example would be the Knight vs. the Samurai. Both are noble warriors trained of a feudal society, but with very different codes. A samurai who was insulted by his lord could choose to commit seppuku as a form of protest and in doing so shamed his lord, but upheld the honor of the Samurai. A Christian knight who did not same has committed a mortal sin and cannot even be buried on church ground. The Christian knight can leave the service of the lord and seek absolution from a priest for breaking his vow.

Bellow is the oath of a Teutonic knight. Notice it never mentions obeying any worldly authority, but does mention strict obedience to its own hierarchy.

I... do profess and promise chastity, giving up all property, and obedience to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary and to you, Brother ... Master of the Teutonic Order, and to your successors, according to the Rules and Regulations of the Order. And I will be obedient to you, and to your successors, even unto death.

A paladin of the Teutonic Knights is not in fact bound to obey anyone outside his order. He can freely ignore the orders of the king of the land if they go against his order. This was one of the reasons the orders of Knighthood were viewed with suspicion by the kings and nobles


Mysterious Stranger wrote:


Bellow is the oath of a Teutonic knight. Notice it never mentions obeying any worldly authority, but does mention strict obedience to its own hierarchy.

The Teutonic order WAS a worldly authority. It controlled land in the same way as any independent king, bishop, abbot, city, duke or prince did.


Here! Here!

If the paladin is a feudal noble, as has been stated, then he will have taken an oath to obey his lord(s). Some oaths may require obedience to the person, the immediate lord, the king, and all lords in between. Others might only require obedience to the immediate lord, even just the individual them self. This is part of the reason feudal conflicts are so messy.

Let's say the oath you swore was to obey your liege, as a person not a title. "I swear to follow you." If your liege rebels against the king, who do you follow? Your liege, since that is who your oath is too.

Other situation, you swore to obey your liege, The Daimyo of Tanuki. "I pledge my sword to the Daimyo." If your liege rebels against the king, and the king strips your liege of his title, and especially, gives it to someone else. Your follow the current holder of the Daimyo title, not the person.

The knight, often paladin-y, who serves the lord he has sworn an oath to, even though he disagrees, is a common character in fiction, and, historically, was often held as an example to follow.

So, what a lot of it comes down to is what the paladin's oath specifically said. It may sound like lawyerese, but that is ultimately what lawful characters with oaths have to do when in conflict. What did I actually promise to do? And if one or more promises conflict, which has priority?


It depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is the personality of the given paladin(s). But lets look at some conditions:

Condition 1: The lord to whom the paladin is sworn is, at least initially, not Evil. He couldn't still be a paladin if said lord was known Evil. If the lord was always Evil but hid it well, then the initial vow of fealty is annulled and the Paladin is free to act against the lord as he wouldn't be considered "legitimate authority". If he became evil, then he voided the terms of the fealty and the Paladin is released from the contract; he can still act against the evil lord.

Condition 2: The rebels really are NG. So long as they are 'good' and acting for the best interests of all involved, the Paladin can freely associate. If their actions slide them towards Evil (ie. indiscriminately kill the lords because they are lords) then they become Neutral at best (still redeemable) or Evil at worst (the Paladin's new enemy).

Given all this, the Paladin(s) have a number of valid choices.

A) Join the rebels to guide them as a shining example of how to properly rebel against an oppressive regime. Even if not all the lords are oppressive, the ones that aren't are obviously complicit with the actions of those who are, thus the regime as a whole is evil but with elements that have 'lost their way'. The Paladin has to balance fighting against the evil of the regime in general while still protecting the elements who can still be saved and guided towards the good.

B) Join one of the good lords and attempt to guide them to supporting the rebels against the oppressive lord(s). Ideally, the rebel forces would be convinced to fold into a good lord's service as a joint effort to face down evil and tyranny.

C) Act as an independent third party, trying to reconcile the differences of all involved while not directly supporting any one side over another.

None of these options are "easy" (Paladins never do things the easy way). They'll involve significant risk to the Paladin(s) and could very easily require personal sacrifice (the definition of being a Paladin). But if, at any point, the Paladins decide that the risk is too great and value their own safety and well being over that of the innocents involved, that's when they fall.


Roberta Yang wrote:

If they oppose the NG movement in favor of the suffering-causing non-good aristocracy, they cease to be Good, and fall.

If they oppose the legitimate non-evil aristocracy in favor of this rebellion, they cease to be Lawful, and fall.

(Epilogue: then the GM suddenly has no players.)

A Lawful good character isn't violating his alignment by opposing unjust laws however. If slavery is legal, does that mean he can't oppose slavery? If stealing bread get's your hand cut off does the Paladin have to enforce that law? Who's to say either of these laws is good,neutral or evil. It's all about interaction and communication of opinions between player and GM. I think Paladins are intended to have a little more wiggle room in their individual personalities than most people think. No one is perfect, not even imaginary characters. Also what says that just because two paladins are both Lawful Good means they act identically in everyway. Alignment should guide a characters actions not dictate his/her every choice,motive,action. Perhaps the Paladin finds the feudal system flawed and unjust and wishes to usher in an age of democracy and capitalism, with it's own set of CLEAR and JUST laws that do not favor one social class over another. Paladins serve the church and the people first in that order, whereas cavaliers are more likely proponents of feudal society with fealty sworn to a liege lord and sworn to uphold the ironfisted rule of said lord over the populace for good or ill, because MASTER SAYS SO!


Considering that in every feudal society in our world the king or emperor has always ruled by divine right. The Kings of Christianity and the Emperor's of both Japan and China all drew their authority from the respective religions. So why would it be different in a fantasy setting? In Europe it was considered a sin to rebel against the king not just a crime.

If the religion backing the king is not one the paladin at least recognizes then he will probably not be a member of that society and will not have taken oaths of loyalty. In that case there is no conflict between supporting the rebellion. If the religion backing the lords is one the paladin recognizes as legitimate then the religion is going to have something to say about what they are going to do about the situation. Considering any religion a paladin follows will more than likely be good they are probably not going to just stick with the evil lords. The case of a paladin following a LN deity may be different which is one reason I am not in favor of LN deities for paladins.

In a fantasy world the will of the deities is not something that is easily faked. If a priest of a religion decides he is going to change the policies of the church without the deities permission the deity is going to intervene. It may not be flashy and direct like coming down and smiting the offending priest. It will probably be along the lines of the priest being stripped of all powers and other followers may have dreams telling them the priest no longer speaks for the deity.


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If a feudal order the he has been raised to believe is right (and is not inherently evil) is being overthrown by basically good-aligned rebels, then a Paladin would have a great deal of trouble deciding what side to take. Not ever Paladin has the same personality.

It would probably depend more on his personality and on his personal experiences then on his alignment. Most likely, he will sit out the war if he can. He may also change sides; he may start out thinking he is trying to protect the lawful ruler from a group of peasants and rebels, but then changes sides if he sees the nobles behaving in an evil way.

One thing he will not do is allow the side he's on to do any kind of injustice. If he's with the nobles, he won't allow them to burn out farms and kill innocent civilians, and if he's rebels, he won't allow them to go all French Revolution and start guillotining everyone in sight. If they ignore his advice, he's likely to either switch sides or just leave the country.


Conundrum wrote:
A Lawful good character isn't violating his alignment by opposing unjust laws however. If slavery is legal, does that mean he can't oppose slavery?

It means he is ideally supposed to oppose it LEGALLY: petition the king, buy and release etc.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Considering that in every feudal society in our world the king or emperor has always ruled by divine right. The Kings of Christianity and the Emperor's of both Japan and China all drew their authority from the respective religions. So why would it be different in a fantasy setting? In Europe it was considered a sin to rebel against the king not just a crime.
Wikipedia wrote:
Mandate of Heaven: The Mandate of Heaven (Chinese: 天命; pinyin: Tiānmìng) is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimize rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of Heaven is predicated on the conduct of the ruler in question. The Mandate of Heaven postulates that heaven (天; Tian) would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Mandate of Heaven would then transfer to those who would rule best. The mere fact of a leader having been overthrown is itself indication that he has lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Note the bolded passage.


LazarX wrote:
Just for once I'd like to see a Paladin thread that's not all about "Ooh another subtle way for a Paladin to be broken."

That isn't what this is about. Not my intent, not what I would try to do with this scenario. No ill will, just a complex situation for a game.


Lloyd Jackson wrote:

I'm going to say the paladin goes with the nobles. You can't just rebel and replace the government. That's illegal, until you win.

Also, rebellions in general seldom end well. Peasant rebellions in particular are infamous for ending horribly. If our paladin is a member of the nobility, he has probably studied history, the martial aspects at least. Everything he has studied tells him this will end in chaos and bloodshed. A perfect opening for demonic cults and CE warlords to arise. The best thing he can do is try to end the violence with the least atrocity possible. Don't let the peasant burn noble heirs alive, and don't let the nobles exterminate entire villages. Once the violence has ceased, or at least gone to a nice simmer instead of over-boiling, see what can be done to address the people's concerns.

Now, if the nobles are breaking the law by feuding, the best way to end this may be by siding with the rebels in attacking that noble. "Lord Villianus has broken his sworn oath to the crown. I will aid you in deposing him, but I will not allow you to overthrow the king."

Indeed, the rebellion has a high chance to not end well. If this movement is not aided, they may get themselves and a good chunk of the peasantry killed. If they are aided, their targets are only all current lawful authorities (but they are not an inquisition, they don't want to purge every LG to LE person) and any defenders of the order that are actually fighting them (soldiers, spies, loyalist clerics). The people or order, people are going to die *trembles with delight*.


Yosarian wrote:

If a feudal order the he has been raised to believe is right (and is not inherently evil) is being overthrown by basically good-aligned rebels, then a Paladin would have a great deal of trouble deciding what side to take. Not ever Paladin has the same personality.

It would probably depend more on his personality and on his personal experiences then on his alignment. Most likely, he will sit out the war if he can. He may also change sides; he may start out thinking he is trying to protect the lawful ruler from a group of peasants and rebels, but then changes sides if he sees the nobles behaving in an evil way.

One thing he will not do is allow the side he's on to do any kind of injustice. If he's with the nobles, he won't allow them to burn out farms and kill innocent civilians, and if he's rebels, he won't allow them to go all French Revolution and start guillotining everyone in sight. If they ignore his advice, he's likely to either switch sides or just leave the country.

Burning farms and raiding the enemy though, is incredibly common in feudal war. It is a tactic to wear down the rebels, drain their food, supplies and manpower. If they are off fighting a lord with mass ranks of poorly trained pikemen and whatever skirmishers they could muster, they aren't protecting their agricultural base.

What I am getting at is that the paladin might be on the feudal side in this example, see raiding and pillaging and not be teamed up with an evil or purely evil lord/army. The order to attack the rebels with any means necessary may come down from on high, from the king, from a good duke or something like that. Arend't banality of evil, it is so easy because it is a tactic of the army, who were just following orders, that sort of thing.


Kazaan wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Considering that in every feudal society in our world the king or emperor has always ruled by divine right. The Kings of Christianity and the Emperor's of both Japan and China all drew their authority from the respective religions. So why would it be different in a fantasy setting? In Europe it was considered a sin to rebel against the king not just a crime.
Wikipedia wrote:
Mandate of Heaven: The Mandate of Heaven (Chinese: 天命; pinyin: Tiānmìng) is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimize rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of Heaven is predicated on the conduct of the ruler in question. The Mandate of Heaven postulates that heaven (天; Tian) would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Mandate of Heaven would then transfer to those who would rule best. The mere fact of a leader having been overthrown is itself indication that he has lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Note the bolded passage.

You have to play ball and keep the ship moving smoothly, or you don't have the mandate of heaven. Not sure what it says about a competent, mostly good-natured but weak emperor who faces feuding and disrespectful lords fighting each-other with the aim of increasing their own power, for selfish and sensible reasons (power is safety for clan and people). It probably says you are doomed and sinking.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Kazaan wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Considering that in every feudal society in our world the king or emperor has always ruled by divine right. The Kings of Christianity and the Emperor's of both Japan and China all drew their authority from the respective religions. So why would it be different in a fantasy setting? In Europe it was considered a sin to rebel against the king not just a crime.
Wikipedia wrote:
Mandate of Heaven: The Mandate of Heaven (Chinese: 天命; pinyin: Tiānmìng) is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimize rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of Heaven is predicated on the conduct of the ruler in question. The Mandate of Heaven postulates that heaven (天; Tian) would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Mandate of Heaven would then transfer to those who would rule best. The mere fact of a leader having been overthrown is itself indication that he has lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Note the bolded passage.
You have to play ball and keep the ship moving smoothly, or you don't have the mandate of heaven. Not sure what it says about a competent, mostly good-natured but weak emperor who faces feuding and disrespectful lords fighting each-other with the aim of increasing their own power, for selfish and sensible reasons (power is safety for clan and people). It probably says you are doomed and sinking.

I agree with this. My main point on the divine right is that the religions are going to be involved. They are part of the society and unlike modern societies there is no separation of church and state. The idea of separation of church and state is a fairly new concept. For most of history they have been intertwined.

What will be a little different in a fantasy setting is the fact that the will of the gods can be determined with a lot greater ease. You will not have a church that only plays lip service to its deity. No deity is going to let someone of an opposing alignment gain control of their church. Corrupt churches will only be possible if the deity is corrupt.

A paladin in this setting could have multiple roles. On could be trying to convince the Emperor that he needs to intervene. Another could be with the rebels making sure they do not become the tyrants they are fighting against. Still another could be the wanderer who is just trying to do what he can. One role I do not see is for him to just ignore everything and leave. There is a saying that for evil to triumph all that is needed is for good men to do nothing. To me this is absolutely true. The paladin who walks away is abandoning his duty and is not a paladin.


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Furthermore, whereas the Chinese Mandate of Heaven says that you can lose and gain favor, the Western Divine Right of Kings says that only a single royal line is "authorized" but only God really knows for sure what line that is. Just because a particular Monarchy is in power doesn't necessarily mean they aren't just pretenders to the throne. They could have success for thousands of years before the "real" line comes to power. So the situation is covered on both fronts.


The image of a paladin surrounded by bodies and defending the rightful king from rebels and evil lords is a good one.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
But at same time Players have to be able to control their characters. If a player can articulate valid reasons consistent with the paladin's code why their character finds an authority illegitimate, then it is unfair to penalize them from playing their character according to their character concept.

It doesn't sound like such a thing is possible in this case. If the nobles were drinking the blood of babies, had deposed the rightful heir to the throne, or were launching peasants out of balistias for target practice then the paladin can say "It doesn't matter what laws you've past, you're going to meet sharp pointy justice upside the head" .

Thats not whats happening here. You're asking a paladin to illegally overthrow the rightful government: ie, kill people, in order to put in an untried, untested group of people with no government experience, education, training,proven ability governing anything larger than a flock of sheep or ANY right to be in charge what so ever. There's no argument that killing people (which is bad) has any real chance of making things better. than a government that can at worst be described as "meh"

I do not think such an argument could succeed here. The paladin's code would have to be.. well pretty unpaladin like to be anti run of the mill government.

Players have a responsibility to make characters that fit the campaign. If the campaign is overthrowing the non evil and semi functioning aristocracy then a paladin is a bad fit. Try a chaotic good ranger or an anarchist alchemist.

That's just it. Some of the nobles are oppressive and are openly unjust. At least as I understood it so the Paladin in keeping with the principal of law goes to those nobles who are not oppressive and calls on them to act as rightful authority against those that are evil. When they don't they are culpable of allowing such evil to occur.


Slightly off, some of the nobles are oppressive to those not of their demesne (they might be war criminals holding onto border regions, some days they kill orcs, others druids, bandits or free peoples they want to conquer. Or they don't hold back against the peasants of other domains) but they are smart enough not to shi* in their own backyard and ensure their local rep and renown is high.

Andre the Blacksmith: this Duke, he is alright you know. Protected us from all manner of enemies, even our neighbours! I don't care what he has done on campaign, they started the war.

Think of them like English lords that kept the chevauchée for outside of their borders. Lawful evil can be cunning, it can do evil without breaking the laws that also legally protect it and its property.

Breaking with the king, not honouring their commands isn't lawful, but the situation is spiraling out of control, as in early Sengoku. The powerful lords also have their legal rights and are sanctioned to protect their lands, family, people, etc etc.

Chaotic good, that is too easy, too clean a fit. You can join the rebels and never look back, just rely on your alignment to guide you through. Playing an anti-feudalist in a feudal setting. I've done it to death, seen it a lot, this is more about the poor LGs stuck in the middle.


Kazaan wrote:
Furthermore, whereas the Chinese Mandate of Heaven says that you can lose and gain favor, the Western Divine Right of Kings says that only a single royal line is "authorized" but only God really knows for sure what line that is. Just because a particular Monarchy is in power doesn't necessarily mean they aren't just pretenders to the throne. They could have success for thousands of years before the "real" line comes to power. So the situation is covered on both fronts.

In the west it was more than just a single royal line being authorized to rule. The king at his coronation anointed by the church and swore to protect the innocent. It was almost to the point of being a sacrament. Read some of the books by Katharine Kurtz and you will get a better idea of what I am talking about. Now not all the kings behaved this way but that is what the belief system was. The king was more than just a military lord.

Silver Crusade

First - very interesting thread. Enjoying it immensely.

Second - the adventure opportunities in this scenerio abound! You basically have three sides to this conflict (at least): the good feudal lord, the evil feudal lord, and the peasants threatening rebellion. Stick a paladin in the middle of this, and watch what happens!

Say our situation is: Baron Good treats his serfs reasonably well, but Baron Von Evil is much more oppressive. Baron Good won't move directly against Baron Von Evil because they are both servants of the King, and he discourages such activity without royal decree. To make matters worse, economic reasons hinder Baron Good further - he depends food shipments from Baron Von Evil to feed his population. Maybe Baron Good's barony primarily mines or has another significant non-food trade. And to lock down Baron Good further and cement their "alliance", he marries his daughter to Baron Good, making them relatives.

Meanwhile, the serfs are upset at the treatment that many of them receive, particularly from Baron Von Evil, and begin to foster rebellion. First in small ways, such as work delays, but future rebellious acts with grow more dangerous.

In comes our paladin (and hopefully a small group of like-minded heroes). He sees the potential powder keg, and realizes if he doesn't intercede, a lot of good people are going to die. As a paladin, I see him (or her) working with Baron Good in this situation. Perhaps the paladin's group can open a new trade route and cut the dependency on Baron Von Evil? Perhaps they can aid the rebellion in moving serfs in mortal danger out of Baron Von Evil's lands? Will the party stop a violent splinter group of the rebellion (there always is one) from causing destruction and forcing Baron Good to become stricter with his own people? Can the party uncover acts of evil that would raise Baron Good's ire and make him speak out against his father-in-law? Maybe they can uncover something treasonous (or at the very least, scandalous) which would cause the king to withdraw support from Baron Von Evil and support Baron Good moving against him?

There's an entire campaign in there somewhere...


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There is also the issue of the tactics employed by the pally's superiors. There is talk of razing farms to drain the supplies of the rebel army. Is the paladin aware of this or not. Such a tactic isn't inherently dark but is still somewhat morally questionable from the perspective of "protecting the innocent." If the paladin chooses to ignore it despite seeing it happen, perhaps they are really lawful neutral knights who are suffering from the delusion that they are paladins.

In regards to the mandate of heaven, it was but something a shaman made up to keep the nobility and royalty in check. To link their fears to a higher power to keep them in line. Throughout history, it hasn't really worked for the intended purpose.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:

Burning farms and raiding the enemy though, is incredibly common in feudal war. It is a tactic to wear down the rebels, drain their food, supplies and manpower. If they are off fighting a lord with mass ranks of poorly trained pikemen and whatever skirmishers they could muster, they aren't protecting their agricultural base.

What I am getting at is that the paladin might be on the feudal side in this example, see raiding and pillaging and not be teamed up with an evil or purely evil lord/army. The order to attack the rebels with any means necessary may come down from on high, from the king, from a good duke or something like that. Arend't banality of evil, it is so easy because it is a tactic of the army, who were just following orders, that sort of thing.

Yes, that kind of thing is very common in feudal war.

I don't think a Paladin would be willing to go along with it, though. Whichever side he was on, he would not be willing to do evil for the greater good. A paladin does not "just follow orders" to do evil, and he will not be in the same group as people that will.

If his army has to raid/forage for food or something, he might accept that as necessary, but he would probably apologize for taking the food and promise to come back and pay the farming family back for it personally when he can.

If both sides are doing evil, if it turns into an ugly, bloody war, the paladin is likely to try to stop that if he can, and if he can't, he'll probably leave the country. A paladin "going ronin", just sadly leaving the whole situation and going off to some other part of the world because his lord orders him to do evil and he won't do it is pretty archetypical behavior, in fact. Hey, that actually would make a pretty good backstory for a PC paladin. :)


Yosarian wrote:
3.5 Loyalist wrote:

Burning farms and raiding the enemy though, is incredibly common in feudal war. It is a tactic to wear down the rebels, drain their food, supplies and manpower. If they are off fighting a lord with mass ranks of poorly trained pikemen and whatever skirmishers they could muster, they aren't protecting their agricultural base.

What I am getting at is that the paladin might be on the feudal side in this example, see raiding and pillaging and not be teamed up with an evil or purely evil lord/army. The order to attack the rebels with any means necessary may come down from on high, from the king, from a good duke or something like that. Arend't banality of evil, it is so easy because it is a tactic of the army, who were just following orders, that sort of thing.

Yes, that kind of thing is very common in feudal war.

I don't think a Paladin would be willing to go along with it, though. Whichever side he was on, he would not be willing to do evil for the greater good. A paladin does not "just follow orders" to do evil, and he will not be in the same group as people that will.

If his army has to raid/forage for food or something, he might accept that as necessary, but he would probably apologize for taking the food and promise to come back and pay the farming family back for it personally when he can.

If both sides are doing evil, if it turns into an ugly, bloody war, the paladin is likely to try to stop that if he can, and if he can't, he'll probably leave the country. A paladin "going ronin", just sadly leaving the whole situation and going off to some other part of the world because his lord orders him to do evil and he won't do it is pretty archetypical behavior, in fact. Hey, that actually would make a pretty good backstory for a PC paladin. :)

Nothing beats creativity. This post proves that.


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You hear that? CREATIVITY people this is a FANTASY roleplaying game and that is where this debate has turned yet again, with one side howling "its based on quasi-medieval europe.." and the other cries"..It's meant to be so much more than that.." and back and forth in huge paragraphs in which neither side will budge.Have fun.Being a paladin isn't an automatic straight jacket unless it is forced by the GM. Have a nice day.

Shadow Lodge

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Just thought I'd throw in something here - if you're using the golarion gods, then Milani is probably going to throw in on whatever the rebels are doing and actively try and move them towards more chaotic, since rebelions are her thing. By throw in, I mean sending clerics and inquisitors to stir the pot.

This will probably make the job harder for any paladin trying to help the rebels in a lawful way. Probably some direct conflicts with the other religious types in the mob.


Yeah she would be all over that. I find the political situation, the lack of conflict between countries in much of fantasy makes this a difficult fit for golarion, without a dm making it fit. You would have to jump around the timeline and force such a confined setting of possibilities into what golarion has. It would be easier to just make the setting and go with that, although this could work for a pre-goblin Isger, be one more story in the history of Taldor or take on a different flavour if set past Qadira and in Kelesh. Perhaps the NG cause is of a non-Sarenrae faith. It has always bothered me the lack of civil war and cross-country fighting in fantasy games. They are too respectful of borders.

Another cleaner fit, would be post Jade Regent. The heroes become a new elite, but a popular uprising (yellow turbans) starts to threaten the feudal/elites all over Tian. Civil war is also raging in a low to medium intensity.

Ronin paladins can be cool, but they shamed themselves by leaving and missing all those opportunities to help the weak and downtrodden.


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3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Ronin paladins can be cool, but they shamed themselves by leaving and missing all those opportunities to help the weak and downtrodden.

Maybe. But sometimes war just makes everyone on both sides into monsters. If the Paladin's options are "Do you want to burn, murder innocents, and destroy for the nobles or burn, murder innocents, and destroy for the rebels", he's likely to say "You know, I think I can do more good somewhere else" and go and become an adventurer instead.


Grows up in a murky setting, paladin leaves, becomes hero.

Sought out for aid by both sides a few years later.

"Nope. Not touching it with a ten foot longspear."

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