Paladin (Alignment) Debate - Need help


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Silver Crusade

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Paladins are killers for their god!

Paladins fall if they deliberately commit an evil act. If the paladin was tasked to seek out and destroy a nest of wererats who have been kidnapping human children, and he has been attacked without warning almost constantly since he penetrated their lair, then in one room he was surprised by another, then instantly killing it isn't a deliberately evil act.

If a paladin was walking through a peaceful village famous for its mixed human/wererat population, then invaded a home at random and murdered a peaceful wererat villager, then that may very well be deliberately evil.

Reading the OP, we don't know! Even more to the point, the paladin didn't know! Instesd of the DM giving him the detailed information from detect evil, the DM just said 'evil', and the wererat didn't say anything to persuade the paladin otherwise. If I was playing the rat, I'd have been very vocal about my innocence, about me caring for a child, just give me a chance to prove it! Reading the OP, the rat just took his lumps calmly with a nonchalant and unconvincing request to leave! How is the paladin supposed to guess that this particular rabid, infectious monster, famous for its uncontrollable killing sprees, was a nice monster! If he couldn't reasonably have known that (and the DM had plenty of chance to give convincing information via detect evil and screaming and begging for mercy, but chose not to!) then killing an evil wererat is a reasonable thing for a paladin to do! Ergo, no fall!

Now, the DM may despair at the outcome, and should have a word with the paladin, but the DM should have a word with himself at the same time! The player can only respond to the information he is given by the DM, and if the DM messes up and the information given leads to a rational conclusion to kill the rat, then the paladin won't fall for that single act. The player can't read the DMs mind, nor metagame the situation.


Pendagast wrote:
The party members who might have been evil aligned COULD have been serving the greater good as the LG rangers traveling companions (possibly adventurers destroying other evil for their own profit and reward) the paladin did not want to team up with them, and as such escorted them out of the dungeon. This is simple, the ranger vouched for his/her companions.

By your logic, being at least level 5 (minimum to ping on detect evil), they'd already committed 5 levels worth of evil acts and clearly deserve death regardless of current circumstances though. At the very least, letting them out of a prison cell seems out of the question under those circumstances.

And... yeah, regardless of alignment, you don't burst into a room and gradually kill someone who is making no effort to fight back, begs for mercy, and is not guilty of any crime to the best of your knowledge. That's just basic morality.


Darkwolf117 wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
What exactly does chaotic evil mean to you?

No problem hurting others, and possibly quite happy to do so. Violent/destructive tendencies and little regard for laws (obviously).

Might they inflict violence on others? Sure. Chaotic people tend to do what they want, and if they like hurting others, then they may indeed act on it.

Why exactly are you throwing Chaotic in there though? Paladins have no Detect Chaos ability. When someone pings evil, you don't know if that's CE, NE, or LE.

What do NE and LE mean to you? Do you think they immediately need to be destroyed anytime you see one? A neutral evil character may have violent tendencies. Maybe they enjoy hurting/killing things. But they know that killing civilized creatures is not really going to make most people happy, so they take up hunting or some other pastime. Join up with an adventuring party and slay some monsters that are terrorizing some place.

Look at that, that was a good deed, and while it was performed selfishly, doesn't change the fact that everyone's happier. Does this guy deserve to get smited?

And remember, all a Paladin sees is Evil. If you line up 10 people in a row, with a mix of CE, NE, and LE, as well as plenty of different motivations and backgrounds, the Paladin sees the same thing in all of them. Does that mean they kill all of them based on that?

Pendagast wrote:
The party members who might have been evil aligned COULD have been serving the greater good as the LG rangers traveling companions (possibly adventurers destroying other evil for their own profit and reward) the paladin did not want to team up with them, and as such escorted them out of the dungeon. This is simple, the ranger vouched for his/her companions.

Okay, this just makes me that much more confused about your ruling here.

The wererat detects evil. Kill it.
These guys detect evil, but there's a good guy there too. Don't kill them.

Vouching for those clearly evil guys is good enough to let...

the inconsistency here is the GM.

Who clearly doesn't understand how detect evil works.
The evil aligned adventurers probably didn't have evil intent, as they likely wanted to just get out.
IF they did, something weird is going on, something is up.
If I were the paladin, I wouldnt have let the ranger leave alone with them, not knowing what their evil intent was.

However, with the ranger vouching for the members of his/her party, their actions/deeds are no longer on his plate. Also, how did the party know the alignment of the ranger?

In the case of the were rat, the paladin has certain responsibility here. Just as he can't go merrily along hacking and slashing, neither can he idly let evil pass him by. there are crimes of omission and crimes of commission. You are judged by what you do, and what you don't do.

"All that evil needs to succeed, is that good men stand by and do nothing."

Again, it all depends on WHAT the paladin knows, and WHAT his REASONS for doing something are.

He knows that were rat was evil. that we got, but how so? 6 seconds and an initial feeling?

the GM should express strongly to the player that there is a lot more to detect evil that just the first impression.

Assuming the player concentrated for the full time to get all the information, and the GM still tells the player that the creature is evilly aligned, sufficiently powerful to carry out the evil and is intending on doing evil in the near future. That Paladin has a DUTY to act.

There wererat was insisting/demanding the party leave. Curious, what is it trying to hide?

IF the Paladin HAD all the above information, and just left, he would be just as guilty as the were rat for the wererats future evility. Because he had a duty to act.

In the case of the evil humans, the ranger takes responsibility for that, otherwise the encounter would have gone down differently.

The were rat because there is noone else there to take responsibility, becomes the paladins problem.

In the case of my lawful evil magus... huh, I would have probably killed it anyway, just because I didn't want it lurking around, causing more if it;s nasty kind to happen and making more issues for me. Less trouble, less headache.

Were rat is still dead, but my motivations for doing so are different.

Now had my LE Magus KNOWN it had a child to protect and that killing it would have left an uncared for human child? hmmmm.
Two schools of thought, Kill were rat, take responsibility for child (life debt sort of thing), kind of like taking care of an orphaned bear cub you when you killed it's mom.
Or Don't kill were rat, because taking care of it's kid would be a pain and cost me alot of dough,

If I found out about the kid after I killed it, I would be duty bound to care for it (or at least pay another for such service), If I knew about the kid before i killed it.... hmmmm maybe if I had access to charm or geas, i'd feel a little better. but I have the issue of a hostile to my rear to deal with.

My neutral character might kill it because his goal is to come here, clear the dungeon, claim the treasure and become famous!

There are a lot of situations where the were rat dies. all of them have different motivation. the motivation is what determines good or evil. Not the fact that something dies that "doesn't deserve it"

This is just one of those lame situations made up by GMs to "trip paladins" this wererat mom isn;t going to keep her child in a dungeon with other monsters unless she feels REAL safe there, IF she feels that safe?? She's a mastermind, or part of the controlling cabal of what's going on there, In which case, evil aligned, evil intent. Kill it.

If in the other case, she's unintentionally inflected, just wants to care for her child, she's NOT in this dungeon..... because this is NOT were humans make home sweet home.

Now if this were rat lady was hiding her identity in town (were most were rats hang out) and was literally in her little house with the kid in bed and she;s saying "get out" we have to ask why party was even in there n the first place.

The situations don't match here, it's a set up with a poor playing of the wererat and the use of detect evil. Bad Form.


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Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

Paladins are killers for their god!

Paladins fall if they deliberately commit an evil act. If the paladin was tasked to seek out and destroy a nest of wererats who have been kidnapping human children, and he has been attacked without warning almost constantly since he penetrated their lair, then in one room he was surprised by another, then instantly killing it isn't a deliberately evil act.

If a paladin was walking through a peaceful village famous for its mixed human/wererat population, then invaded a home at random and murdered a peaceful wererat villager, then that may very well be deliberately evil.

Reading the OP, we don't know! Even more to the point, the paladin didn't know! Instesd of the DM giving him the detailed information from detect evil, the DM just said 'evil', and the wererat didn't say anything to persuade the paladin otherwise. If I was playing the rat, I'd have been very vocal about my innocence, about me caring for a child, just give me a chance to prove it! Reading the OP, the rat just took his lumps calmly with a nonchalant and unconvincing request to leave! How is the paladin supposed to guess that this particular rabid, infectious monster, famous for its uncontrollable killing sprees, was a nice monster! If he couldn't reasonably have known that (and the DM had plenty of chance to give convincing information via detect evil and screaming and begging for mercy, but chose not to!) then killing an evil wererat is a reasonable thing for a paladin to do! Ergo, no fall!

Now, the DM may despair at the outcome, and should have a word with the paladin, but the DM should have a word with himself at the same time! The player can only respond to the information he is given by the DM, and if the DM messes up and the information given leads to a rational conclusion to kill the rat, then the paladin won't fall for that single act. The player can't read the DMs mind, nor metagame the situation.

this.


Googleshng wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
The party members who might have been evil aligned COULD have been serving the greater good as the LG rangers traveling companions (possibly adventurers destroying other evil for their own profit and reward) the paladin did not want to team up with them, and as such escorted them out of the dungeon. This is simple, the ranger vouched for his/her companions.

By your logic, being at least level 5 (minimum to ping on detect evil), they'd already committed 5 levels worth of evil acts and clearly deserve death regardless of current circumstances though. At the very least, letting them out of a prison cell seems out of the question under those circumstances.

And... yeah, regardless of alignment, you don't burst into a room and gradually kill someone who is making no effort to fight back, begs for mercy, and is not guilty of any crime to the best of your knowledge. That's just basic morality.

at what point did the paladin find out the members of the other party were evil? did he detect on them while they were in the jail cells? then let them out? that'd be odd.

But we don't KNOW that.

I'm assuming here that this DM throws alignments around like name badges on shirts, because tehre is now way for them to have known the ranger was lawful good for instance.

nor what the party's reason for being in the dungeon was (possibly free human slaves from a wererat den, maybe?)


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I mark this down to DM' world...

How do you run lycanthropes? Are they murderous rampaging beasts? Do they infect with a bite?

I had a character who was a lycanthrope hunter by trade who ABSOLUTELY would have killed them both... He was by no means a paladin, and he did make 'mistakes' in his past...

However, the typical lycanthrope is the same as a Rabid dog. It is a clear and present threat to all of society. A disease that's waiting to spread and when the curse happens will kill EVERYTHING that it can.

Kill it, kill it quick.

How did he KNOW it was a wererat? Was it in claw and fang form? Then it wasn't unarmed. Nothing dishonorable about attacking beast that can shred you with enhanced strength and claws...

If you play where all monsters can be redeemed... make sure the players know that from the beginning. And make sure they detect correctly. If you think this was pushing the line, then give him a warning. No need to nerf him yet.. but in character or out, just let him know what you consider his code to be.

Every god is different... Sarenrae has stipulations in there about redeeming everyone you can.... Torag says they must show no mercy to your enemies and scatter their family

it's all relative.


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kridak wrote:

Hey everyone

So we had an issue tonight, and my gut says it was wrong, but i would like to hear some other opinons...the issue....

The party entered a wine cellar that contained a wererat (and unknown to the group it's still human child.)

The paladin sensed evil and yes the wererat was lawful evil, but the wererat asked the group to leave its den multiple times as the party moved up to it.

The paladin moved up to the wererat and started attacking.

After the first round, the wererat asked the party to leave again and the paladin attacked a final time and killed the wererat.

To me this in itself is an evil act on the paladins part. The wererat did not attack even once, it asked multiple times to be left alone (knowing its child was there) and the paladin wailed away anyway.

What are your thoughts? Is this what a paladin (or even just a LG pc) character embodies?

Slaughter of a creature that will not defend itself?

In my opinioon there was little difference between the paladin slughtering the wererat or a CE npc slughtering a good character.

No difference?

Fall for killing an evil creature?

Pardon?

Welcome to relativism land, where killing wererats is like the chaotic evil slaughtering the good. It wanted to be nice and safe and protect its young, well pull on my heart-strings and call me a golem, trouble is, it is just an evil creature trying to get out of a good smiting with diplomacy. The paladin acted dishonourably but not in an evil fashion. It isn't evil to kill the evil orcs if they ask you to leave and act civilised.

Purge all lands of the wererat filth! They are disease carriers, thieves and vagabonds.


phantom1592 wrote:

I mark this down to DM' world...

How do you run lycanthropes? Are they murderous rampaging beasts? Do they infect with a bite?

I had a character who was a lycanthrope hunter by trade who ABSOLUTELY would have killed them both... He was by no means a paladin, and he did make 'mistakes' in his past...

However, the typical lycanthrope is the same as a Rabid dog. It is a clear and present threat to all of society. A disease that's waiting to spread and when the curse happens will kill EVERYTHING that it can.

Kill it, kill it quick.

How did he KNOW it was a wererat? Was it in claw and fang form? Then it wasn't unarmed. Nothing dishonorable about attacking beast that can shred you with enhanced strength and claws...

If you play where all monsters can be redeemed... make sure the players know that from the beginning. And make sure they detect correctly. If you think this was pushing the line, then give him a warning. No need to nerf him yet.. but in character or out, just let him know what you consider his code to be.

Every god is different... Sarenrae has stipulations in there about redeeming everyone you can.... Torag says they must show no mercy to your enemies and scatter their family

it's all relative.

A rabid dog that tries to haggle with you, is an interesting talking rabid dog, but still needs to be exterminated.


A few points:

-- It is possible for different orders of paladins to have quite different codes, that might look at this a little differently.
-- I'm not comfortable with the "detect evil, kill evil" simple-minded paladin type. Which is why I run detect evil a lot differently, having it detect degree of evil and not detect evil at all for most people/creatures. In this case, I probably would have given a "mixed" or "mostly evil" reading to give the paladin a heads up that this was a morally debatable situation.
-- Many of the details of the scenario are unclear, despite the efforts of many posters to provide their own context to validate their arguments.
-- Key details such as what other options were available to the paladin might make all the difference in interpreting the right path.

Bottom line for me, I'm not comfortable with any paladin killing a creature that is making no attempt to defend itself, although some exceptions for tremendously and inherently evil creatures might be made (talking major demons here, not piddly little wererats). But, as the argument here shows (and the fact the OP even bothered to ask the question), it falls in the debatable category, and in and of itself shouldn't be cause for a fall. If it is part of a clear pattern of behavior, then, yeah, probably.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It reads to me that the GM set up a strawman as a poorly thought Paladin trap.

Keep in mind the context people. You find a wererat in a dungeon, presumably a dungeon you've been sent to cleanse of it's evil. Did the Paladin act in the most optimal manner for his code? That's debatable, if it was feasible to take the wererat prisoner, that might have been one option, but most likely if he took it back to town justice, it probably would just have meant an execution by other hands.

What is what is justifiably an evil wererat doing with an innocent child down in a dungeon infested with evil? The Paladin can be forgiven for not concluding that this was some sort of innocent situation. IF the DM was playing the wererat properly, there would have been full justification for the Paladin to do what he did.

But no, this is a clear case of someone trying to setup a Paladin, because he's a Paladin. Which is why I would not play one under a DM I don't know, nor will I allow a stranger to play one who's guesting in my campaign. And I generally don't encourage them at all.


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Fall. So hard it leaves a crater.
You don't kill something that isn't even trying to fight back. That is murder, murder is evil. Morality 101.


It's the simplicity of alignments to blame.
If in a game you can identify evil people/creatures that simply, if the alignment is sticked to them so strongly they don't change over the rest of their life (how many LG red dragons??) then in that simple world the paladin can kill a non-offensive wererat.

I think all spells aimed at detecting alignments or truth should be removed, they just reduce part of the pleasure of investigation and moral-conflict adventures.
For sure you can also reduce this problem with other spells or objects or, simply choose another game system...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Or just getting rid of Paladins altogether. These discussions NEVER come up for any other class.

The Exchange

Another thing to consider is how much the paladin actually knows a out lycanthropy. Did he make the relevant knowledge checks to determine it was a lycanthrope he was facing.

Is lycanthropy very common in your game world?

Has the paladin had dealings with lycanthropes in the past that may have coloured his judgement.?

If the answer to those is no, then he effectively murdered someone for no cause.

If the answer is other than no, then perhaps his reasoning was sound.

Either way, this is one of the reasons I dislike Paladins. They're too messy in terms of debatable actions, in what is otherwise a fun and co operative game.

Cheers


I'd like to point out some things:

1. I just checked the lycanthrope template on the PRD and it says nothing about forcing alignment change. So all this talk of wererats in general being dangerous, untrustworthy rabid beasts is just people talking out of their behinds. Maybe it's true for specific settings or campaigns, but I fail to see the merit of judging a nebulous situation based on people's favorite houserules.

2. I also checked the Detect Evil rules, and I don't get where some people get the idea that concentrating longer would have detected whether the creature had evil intent. The spell says those with evil intent also detect as evil, but it's a moot point when the creature is evil to begin with. There's no point in the spell's description where you can use the spell to go from "I know this creature is of evil alignment" to "I also know it intends to do evil".

3. Assuming it was in the dungeon, how does that change anything? The "dungeon" is a form of a habitat existing in fantasy worlds, it's not a magical place where everything you encounter is evil and out to get you. Whether they encountered the wererat in a town or in the sewers, or in the gorram Evil Temple of Ancient Doom(tm), the situation remained the same - a sapient creature asked them to leave her home, and didn't even fight back when attacked.


the question i have is if the were rat was in hybrid or human form when it was trying to parley with the party in the first place.

in hybrid form its alignment is lawful evil. no doubt.

in human form its alignment might have been different.

either way, the player can only go on what information he gets from the dm.

i would ask admrial akbar about this moral vs ethics issue, but i have a good idea what he would say,

alignment as a paladin crutch is a hold over from dnd 2nd edition. back in 2nd edition, the class was overpowered as compared to other classes, and the way they chose to balance out game mechanics was with the moral code. they did the same to druids (tn), bards (any neutral), rangers (any good), and even specialist mages.

i imagine what the dm in this game was trying to do was to attempt to forshadow in his story. he tried to show a villain early on before he becomes the big threat in an attempt to bring complex plot twists and had the story blow up in his face.

Liberty's Edge

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The GM shoud have warned the Paladin's player about the risk of falling.

He apparently did not, so it is too late, as it is 100% unfair to retroactively punish the Paladin if he had no inkling that this act was considered Evil by the Gods (ie, the GM).

In fact, maybe the GM (and thus the Gods) do not find the Paladin's actions Evil.

In which case, the problem (as always) lies in differing interpretations of what the alignments mean to the various players and the GM.

Hopefully it is not too late to clarify it and reach a consensus palatable to all (and no retroactive Paladin's fall).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ravenharm wrote:

the question i have is if the were rat was in hybrid or human form when it was trying to parley with the party in the first place.

in hybrid form its alignment is lawful evil. no doubt.

in human form its alignment might have been different.

either way, the player can only go on what information he gets from the dm.

i would ask admrial akbar about this moral vs ethics issue, but i have a good idea what he would say,

alignment as a paladin crutch is a hold over from dnd 2nd edition. back in 2nd edition, the class was overpowered as compared to other classes, and the way they chose to balance out game mechanics was with the moral code. they did the same to druids (tn), bards (any neutral), rangers (any good), and even specialist mages.

i imagine what the dm in this game was trying to do was to attempt to forshadow in his story. he tried to show a villain early on before he becomes the big threat in an attempt to bring complex plot twists and had the story blow up in his face.

Lycanthropes don't change alignment with form. if it radiates evil in any form, that's because it's evil, no matter what form it takes. A Humanoid who becomes a lycanthrope will change alignment to the lycanthrope's base type when he stops resisting the change, or the first time he embraces it's power. After that he remains that alignment, no matter what form he takes.


ravenharm wrote:

the question i have is if the were rat was in hybrid or human form when it was trying to parley with the party in the first place.

in hybrid form its alignment is lawful evil. no doubt.

in human form its alignment might have been different.

Source please?


ah, my information regarding this issue does not apply, i was going by 3.5 forgotten realms races of faerun pages 142-146.

scratch what i said, my bad eveyone.


The black raven wrote:

The GM shoud have warned the Paladin's player about the risk of falling.

He apparently did not, so it is too late, as it is 100% unfair to retroactively punish the Paladin if he had no inkling that this act was considered Evil by the Gods (ie, the GM).

In fact, maybe the GM (and thus the Gods) do not find the Paladin's actions Evil.

In which case, the problem (as always) lies in differing interpretations of what the alignments mean to the various players and the GM.

Hopefully it is not too late to clarify it and reach a consensus palatable to all (and no retroactive Paladin's fall).

Should you warn players to not use fire damage against iron golems too? I firmly believe that the players actions should have consequences.

If the GM is going to tell a Paladin every time he does something that would make him fall, then a Paladin is never going to fall. Instead, he can do whatever he wants and know that the GM will warn him if he is going to do something wrong.


Who was holding the other group hostage?
How were they treated?
How were they overcome?
Who bites them daily promising them the life of being a evil creature?

Were they treated and promised release?

Not enough information for arm chairing this one.....


what i did find on the entry in the bestiary 1 page 196 is regarding an afflicted lycanthrope shows no symptons ( does not gain any of the templates adjustments or abilities) until the victim involuntaritly changes.
the victim remembers nothing about the entire episode unless he makes a savein which case he becomes aware of his condiciton. which means to me that until he becomes aware there is no reason the victim wouldn't be his original alignment at least until he disovers what happened, and even then can linger on in his original alignemnt.

this is even suggested by the insert that guides the reader to page 313 for powerful races in the same book, inferring a player may be able to keep control of his character while in hybrid or animal form.


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That "paladin" should fall faster than the speed of light.

Even if a creature is evil, slaughtering it when it offers no resistance is wholly wrong. Forcing it to stand trial for crimes (if any), or what not would be acceptable, but mercilessly slaying it was morally unacceptable.

I ensure that in my games, any character I play of good alignment will help evil creatures that I capture/stun. After interrogating a goblin in Rise of the Runelords, I gave it some bread and let it run back to its people. Had it tried to kill me, then I could have killed it in self-defense.

Paladins should respect all life, and treat it with honor. That goblin that I let run free was part of a tribe that had never before attacked the humans. I knew that a greater evil was behind this, and the goblin was just "doing its job." It may have been evil, but since it was A: a prisoner, and B: a usually non-aggressive creature, I let it run free.

What occurred in your game is double what happened in mine. The goblin tried to kill me, the wererat did not even attack the paladin.

Have Ioemedae (or whoever) drop that paladin like he's hot.


The issue here is the Paladin is using the Detect Evil spell as an unconditional Green Card to kill whatever it affects. That is one of the biggest flaws with Paladins, and their Lawful Stupid players. "It's evil, kill it," is the most simple-minded way to play a paladin, and also a very flawed playstyle, since you will probably fall several times within the first few levels of playing the character due to such an ignorant mentality. That's something a Dump-Stat 5 Intelligence Fighter uses as an excuse to have combat, and it's a two way street. "It's good, kill it," "It's chaotic, kill it," "It's lawful, kill it," "It's neutral, kill it," is hardly the sign of good, more the sign of a confused individual whose anarchic behavior goes against the code of conduct of being a Paladin.

So I ask, where in a given Paladin code does it say that they are allowed to be ignorant of their cited code of conduct when faced with evil? If there is such a listing, then by all means the Paladin can play Lawful Stupid all they like with that given code and not suffer consequences for doing so. But chances are, there is no Paladin code that says "You can do anything you want towards whatever is evil, we don't care," meaning this guy is going to fall for being ignorant of his other important codes of conduct.

And I must say that lacking the profession of a certain archetype is an absolutely ridiculous to not offer such good and helpful services. By that logic, because I'm not a Healer archetype, I'm not allowed to heal in any manner. Seems legit, am I right?


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A Evil Wear Rat with an infectious disease that could cause misery to hundreds clearly should be allowed to live and infect more people because it asks to be left alone. The Paladin slew an evil monster (not even an evil person) killing evil monsters is typical paladin behaviour (George and the dragon etc) it is even a class feature (smite evil). I honestly can't see a paladin falling for an smiting evil monster that's kind of what their there for.


amorangias wrote:

I'd like to point out some things:

1. I just checked the lycanthrope template on the PRD and it says nothing about forcing alignment change. So all this talk of wererats in general being dangerous, untrustworthy rabid beasts is just people talking out of their behinds. Maybe it's true for specific settings or campaigns, but I fail to see the merit of judging a nebulous situation based on people's favorite houserules.

It's been said repeatedly (and unfortunately) that the Lycanthrope template is not suitable for PCs. Anyone who is bitten should be run by the DM when he changes and wake up with no memory of the incident.

Which independent of the Developers RAI, is how they phrase it under the 'curses' section.

under the Template, they still mention the bite as infectious.

If by your estimation, the template does NOT change their alignment... then we're back to it being Evil, if not by nature then by deeds.

If you play WoD style where they are all naturally born creatures, and are not contagious and have full control over all their actions...

then they need to detect as neutral.

Orcs, goblins, kobalds... These are creatures that CAN be tamed. They can be redeemed, they cna be useful members of society... Lycanthropes don't have that luxery. They're rabid dogs who will kill if they can.

Sarenrae's code calls out that if any are hurt by his INACTION, their blood is on the paladin's hands...

Sooo yeah, I'm in agreement that we need more info. What level were the PCS? how big of a threat WAS one Wererat? We fought a werewolf at level 2 a while ago... it was INSANELY dangerous and could have derailed the whole campaign if not for some quick thinking on the illusionists part and having that smite available. That DR was to the point that my smite was the only thing that COULD have hurt it at that level.


phantom1592 wrote:
What level were the PCS? how big of a threat WAS one Wererat? We fought a werewolf at level 2 a while ago... it was INSANELY dangerous and could have derailed the whole campaign if not for some quick thinking on the illusionists part and having that smite available. That DR was to the point that my smite was the only thing that COULD have hurt it at that level.

Hello, and thanks for answering. I will clear up a few questions I have seen here, if I can.

For starts, we were all level 4. We thought that the wererat would be very dangerous, so the Paladin advanced first. This is when the wererat asked us to leave. The paladin continued advancing and then was asked to "please leave, I have done nothing wrong". At that point, the Paladin climbed over a foot and a half small barricade the thing had presumably put there, and hit it. I think he hit it for somewhere around 12, and it nearly died. It didn't do anything after this except ask him to leave again, at which point he killed it.

And I saw some other people asking where this was. We were in a monastery up on a cliff that was run by evil monks. We cleared out most of it, killed a ton of zombies and skeletons, and freed the good/evil prisoners and escorted them out after killing an Ogre for the key to their cage.

Then we went down deeper into the dungeon and searched a few rooms, until we found the wererats "nest". This is when he asked us to leave, and the paladin advanced, he asked again, the paladin attacked, he asked again, then the paladin killed him. This was NOT a random wererat in a house. It was in the bottom of a dungeon, and completely alone save for its human child as far as we can tell (though our characters don't know about the child yet)


Pendagast wrote:

the inconsistency here is the GM.

Who clearly doesn't understand how detect evil works.
The evil aligned adventurers probably didn't have evil intent, as they likely wanted to just get out.
IF they did, something weird is going on, something is up.

Um... not quite. Even if the GM did not run Detect Evil correctly, the situation looks identical to the player. These two guys detected as evil. This wererat detected as evil. There's no difference between the two, making the Paladin's actions quite inconsistent.

Also, Amorangias brought up a good point, which I hadn't actually checked. Detect Evil says nothing about intent. It tells you the presence of evil auras and their numbers/strength. Nothing more than that.

Pendagast wrote:
However, with the ranger vouching for the members of his/her party, their actions/deeds are no longer on his plate. Also, how did the party know the alignment of the ranger?

This is not correct. The Paladin and the rest of the party let them out. You specifically are saying that, with the possibility that the wererat might do evil in the future, that means the Paladin is at fault if they don't do anything to stop it now. By that same logic, if those two evil guys went out and did evil, the Paladin is at fault for not stopping them when he had the chance. Just because there is another person with them, the Paladin is not free to pass responsibility on to them.

Pendagast wrote:

In the case of the were rat, the paladin has certain responsibility here. Just as he can't go merrily along hacking and slashing, neither can he idly let evil pass him by. there are crimes of omission and crimes of commission. You are judged by what you do, and what you don't do.

"All that evil needs to succeed, is that good men stand by and do nothing."

Um... yes, exactly. And right beforehand, he idly let two evil people pass him by, like I said in the paragraph above this.

Pendagast wrote:
There are a lot of situations where the were rat dies. all of them have different motivation. the motivation is what determines good or evil. Not the fact that something dies that "doesn't deserve it"

Agreed. And in this case, the Paladin did not have adequate motive to kill it. It was not attacking them, it was not doing anything obviously evil. It was doing nothing but the player took the Evil reading as legitimate evidence to murder it. That isn't a good enough motive for someone who is meant to uphold good and lawfulness, and it certainly does not qualify as a good/lawful act just because the thing was evil.

LazarX wrote:
But no, this is a clear case of someone trying to setup a Paladin, because he's a Paladin. Which is why I would not play one under a DM I don't know, nor will I allow a stranger to play one who's guesting in my campaign. And I generally don't encourage them at all.

How did you come to that conclusion? A GM can put in side plots and little background details to make a story more interesting without making sure everything revolves around making the Paladin fall. On the other hand, if you have a Paladin who decides to murder a creature that isn't fighting back, without any indication of it having done something wrong or planning to, that is the Paladin being Lawful Stupid and failing to uphold law/good. It's not the GM's fault if a player acts foolishly.


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I actually disagree with the general opinion here.

Killing an evil creature is not an evil act--in fact, it is very often a Good act.

It may, however, be an unlawful act, and Paladins must be both Lawful and Good.

So, when it comes to the rescued evil people and the were-rat, the logic may have been:

Evil people that are members of a society:
Killing them would be good, but unlawful, as they deserve a trial, etc. Ok, don't kill.

Evil wererat living as a single monster somewhere outside society's boundaries:
Killing it would be good, and no laws apply. Kill it.

However, as the GM, if you're uncomfortable with playing the Paladin that way, just tell him as much. Don't surprise punish people--if you think something is against a Paladin's code, tell the Paladin before he does it. In Catholicism, for example, one requirement for mortal sin is that it is done with full knowledge--if this player is not given full knowledge, he should not be punished.


Definitely fall. Just because something lights up as evil isn't good enough to justify killing someone or something. Especially so if whatever it is has not threatened you in any way. Alternatively, at least a very serious warning would be given by the deity's extraplanar servants. The actions taken by the paladin at best reflect a dodgy chaotic neutral. Not bothering to find out the reasons for why the wererat was there or even attempting any form of swaying it from its evil ways but straight to killing is the pragmatic and convenient option. The paladin chose the pragmatic and convenient option which is something that good aligned characters cannot always do. Especially lawful good ones.


mplindustries wrote:

Evil people that are members of a society:
Killing them would be good, but unlawful, as they deserve a trial, etc. Ok, don't kill.

Evil wererat living as a single monster somewhere outside society's boundaries:
Killing it would be good, and no laws apply. Kill it.

Uh, you might have not noticed, but the evil humans were also "outside society's boundaries;" their supposed membership in society is a nonissue.

Likewise, if their location doesn't commute their membership in society, how are you getting to "no laws apply" to the wererat?

It isn't monstering 24/7; MOST of its time will be spent in human form, doing human things: hunting, foraging, cooking, etc. All those day-to-day survival things that PEOPLE DO.

EVEN IF there is no law enforcement in the region, a paladin doesn't "go wild" in a lawless region: they behave AS IF the law were in force. Meaning trials preceeding JUST PUNISHMENT for all. Not, "OK get out of here" for humans and "No, your begging for mercy doesn't matter, you're dead" for a "monster" which is human 90% of the time. Talk about chaotic behavior...

Silver Crusade

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Skeletons, zombies, ogres...all these things are either neutral or can be of any alignment. Was the paladin required to do research on the individual deeds of each before he attacked? When he destroyed the skeleton, did he fall because it was clearly neutral?

And yet, as soon as he slays a definately evil monster, famous for mindless, murderous and infectious rampages, who he has no reason to think it innocent beyond it being afraid of death, the paladin should fall?

Many posts here treat the wererat as if it were a person who just happened to have an evil alignment, but who hadn't done anything wrong, then saying that the paladin was wrong to kill out of hand. Well, that would be true...for a free-willed creature! But a were-creature is controlled by his curse which forces it to commit evil acts, and in doing so spread it's curse to the innocents of the world. They must be wiped out like the disease that are!

Now the above paragraph represents only one possible point of view on the subject; others are just as valid. But that point of view is the most likely point of view for human society in the game world, and certainly the most likely point of view for a paladin whose very purpose is to protect society from such supernaturally evil threats by killing them! Paladins aren't empowered by their gods to redeem evil, they are empowered to destroy evil! The powers they are given that are intended to be used on evil creatures don't redeem those creatures, nor restrain them, nor change their alignment. They destroy evil; that is what they are for, that is what their gods create and empower them to do!

There may very well have been unusual circumstances in this case that went deeper than what was apparent at first sight, but the DM failed to communicate this effectively to the paladin, and the players rely on the DM to describe what's going on. In this case, the paladin was not given reason to change how he would normally react to such a dangerous and evil predator. He could have! If the wererat was less than 5HD then detect evil wouldn't have pinged! The rat could have fallen back on the old Navajo Indian trick of screaming and begging, but nonchalantly couldn't be bothered to do that! Evil creatures don't want to die, recognise paladins as being particularly capable of killing them, and might want to avoid combat with one. Not because it's innocent, but to live to eat babies another day!

A paladin falls if he deliberately performs an evil act. He must know what he is doing is evil. The test is, 'would a reasonable person have known it was an evil act, given the information available'. Given what we've been told, and given what the paladin knew at the time, he had no reason to believe his act was evil, and every reason to believe that this creature was a clear and present danger to him, his party, and to the whole community. If he hadn't killed it, then he'd have to justify his actions!

It is misleading to equate an innocent but evil aligned creature with a definately evil, infectious monster compelled by a curse to murder indescimanately.


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This is also a possibility, situation as given to player by DM.....

Afterwards DM seeks to add new "twist" to cause paladin to fall.

Good job you killed the person who captured and tortured and was killing the townsfolk for food, but sorry you fall from grace, the evil coward refused to fight you....

Refused trial by combat.....

Dude you suck as a DM.


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Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
There may very well have been unusual circumstances in this case that went deeper than what was apparent at first sight, but the DM failed to communicate this effectively to the paladin, and the players rely on the DM to describe what's going on. In this case, the paladin was not given reason to change how he would normally react to such a dangerous and evil predator.

With an opponent that isn't fighting back, and who is just asking to be left alone, how does that equate to the DM failing to describe that there were other circumstances? This wasn't a vicious monster that was actively attacking the party, but the Paladin did actively go about killing it. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for a GM to show it in a different light (assuming its lack of fighting back after 2-3 rounds wasn't enough to suggest as much, which seems odd in my opinion).

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
He could have! If the wererat was less than 5HD then detect evil wouldn't have pinged!

And if it was over 5 HD it would ping evil. So, is the advice here that the only way to keep a Paladin from killing an Evil NPC requires that they be level 4 or lower?

Also, general note, I don't think the Paladin deserves to fall for this. Mistakes happen, sure, and players rarely deserve to have their powers stripped from a single act.

However, I do not think that was appropriate Paladin behavior, and that the player does need a bit of guidance on how to better understand the alignment and the Code in the future.

Obviously just my opinion, but I don't think the Paladin handled the situation well.


KenderKin wrote:

This is also a possibility, situation as given to player by DM.....

Afterwards DM seeks to add new "twist" to cause paladin to fall.

Good job you killed the person who captured and tortured and was killing the townsfolk for food, but sorry you fall from grace, the evil coward refused to fight you....

Refused trial by combat.....

Dude you suck as a DM.

Hello sir. I hope I do not come off rude here, but that is my father you are talking to. Watch what you're saying and at the very least, be respectful. There's no need to say he's a bad GM; he isn't. We've all had much fun during his adventures.

Now, the problem is that this wererat was NOT seeming to do anythig bad, nor did he appear to be "eating townsfolk". For one, we are at least 10 miles from any town. Moreso, there were no visible corpses. He wasn't even a coward. He was never offered a "trial by combat". The paladin walked up after being asked to leave several time, and hit him near death.

Instead of attacking, the creature simply asked again to be left alone. It didn't lift a paw. And then the Paladin killed it. There was no "trial by combat". That generally involves something along the lines of "I challenge you to a trial by combat". Not *walk up and hit the creature asking you to leave without being threatening whatsoever until it dies*.


Alright, so number one, I'd like to address the "GM" thing.

I personally am more often than not, the GM. I want to clear up that GM's are not infallible. They are not God. They are not perfect gamemasters, not even Gary Gygax was a perfect gamemaster. They make mistakes like the rest of you. They don't know every rule. They are not capable of perfectly adjudicating every situation. And don't think that you could do a perfect job either. You couldn't. No one can be a perfect GM. Blaming them for everything is stupid.

The GM is here to do some extra work to create a game for you, and run it. He doesn't get to slay monsters, get treasure, and come one night a week, character sheet in hand. He has to prepare everything, make every dungeon, read every module he buys, run every monster and creature, and deal with every situation that comes up. He is here so that you can have fun. Blaming every problem on him takes away his fun. So stop blaming it on the GM every time, and come up with constructive answers.

Anyway,

As DM, I would probably give the Paladin a warning. Don't make him fall, since there have been some...decent...arguments in the Paladin's favor, but do NOT let him get away with this free as a bird. He slaughtered a defenseless creature (a creature that does not defend itself is defenseless), and refused to spare it, even though the creature tried to converse with the Paladin. Perfect roleplaying opportunity there, talk with the evil creature. Squandered. Wasted. Tossed away.

Give him 1d3 negative levels that go away after one week, but cannot be removed otherwise. Or have him have a dream where his deity shows displeasure. Or have him have a dream where his deity talks to him about the issue.

Good luck, and happy gaming.

-Delthyn


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there seems to be some misconception of continuity here. Killed monsters the whole time. But THIS monster is asking us to leave, oh OK were should just leave now, a dungeon full of monsters we all killed, but we need to leave this one alone.

Silliness.


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Pendagast wrote:

there seems to be some misconception of continuity here. Killed monsters the whole time. But THIS monster is asking us to leave, oh OK were should just leave now, a dungeon full of monsters we all killed, but we need to leave this one alone.

Silliness.

There's a difference between those monsters and the Wererat that was encountered; those monsters (as far as I know) were behaving as an active threat (and probably went to slaughter the party). In fact, the Wererat wanted no conflict whatsoever, only to be left alone. There was no "LEAVE OR I'LL F***ING CLAW YOUR GUTS OUT AND DECORATE THEM ON MY WALL!!", heck, if the creature was really threatening, it wouldn't ask for it to be left alone in its own den, it wouldn't even say anything. It'd just go up and kill them.

But it didn't. Why is that? The real question that should be asked, is "Why didn't the Paladin come up with this?" Unless his character has an Intelligence score of 5 or lower, he could have easily been reasonable, and could have said something like "What is an abomination like you doing here," or "Is there a reason you want us to leave?"

But no, he said "IT'S EVIL, IT MUST DIE!" If that's how you think a Paladin is supposed to act all the time, then they must have the best (and most relaxed) code of conduct ever. All they have to do is say its Evil, and they get an immediate Green Card by their Deity to go up and kill whatever they say is evil, according to you. It's no different than calling someone a Jew so you have the right to torture/kill them, or calling someone Black so you can lynch them. That's absolutely ridiculous (and pretty much correlatory to what you propose) behavior for a Paladin to uphold, and is the pinnacle of Lawful Stupid/Stupid Good.

Scarab Sages

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Evil Monster: [Dora voice] "Paladin! No Smiting!"
(to audience) "Say it with me!"
"Paladin! No Smiting!"
"Paladin! No Smiting!"

Paladin: "Aaaaaaaaawwwwwww Maaaaaaaaaaannnnn!?"

Scarab Sages

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
But no, he said "IT'S EVIL, IT MUST DIE!" If that's how you think a Paladin is supposed to act all the time, then they must have the best (and most relaxed) code of conduct ever. All they have to do is say its Evil, and they get an immediate Green Card by their Deity to go up and kill whatever they say is evil, according to you. It's no different than calling someone a Jew so you have the right to torture/kill them, or calling someone Black so you can lynch them.

????

No, it isn't.

Punishing someone for their actions, is in no way equivalent to attacking someone for their ethnic heritage.

Unless that creature's racial heritage states that it is 'made of raw material from the Lower Planes', or 'powered by the Negative Energy plane', then their lineage doesn't affect whether they have an aura worth detecting, at all.


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There is no denying it was a were rat, or that is was lawful evil.

The Paladin has an established duty to protect the innocent from evil threats, the wererats existence is an evil threat. As already established by the rules of TWO good golarion gods, (we dont know which one this guy falls under) is INACTION in the face of an evil threat would but the actions, pain, suffering and any future deaths on the paladins hands.

There is NO requirement for the creature to attack first, or attack at all, Execution IS acceptable.

Maybe the reason the creature didn't attack is because it accepted it's fate, and wanted to be released from it's curse through the only way possible short of divine intervention, death?

It had a vested interest in defending it's child from strangers, thus asking them to leave, if attacked it WOULD have attacked back, if only to defend it's child.

there are two things here that don't match up.

The paladin did not willing commit an evil act. He destroyed an evil monster.

the paladin did not commit an unlawful act, he was justified in following his mandate and purpose, to fight and destroy evil where he finds it.


Synergy2 wrote:
. [/QUOTE wrote:

Hello sir. I hope I do not come off rude here, but that is my father you are talking to. Watch what you're saying and at the very least, be respectful. There's no need to say he's a bad GM; he isn't. We've all had much fun during his adventures.

Now, the problem is that this wererat was NOT seeming to do anythig bad, nor did he appear to be "eating townsfolk". For one, we are at least 10 miles from any town. Moreso, there were no visible corpses. He wasn't even a coward. He was never offered a "trial by combat". The paladin walked up after being asked to leave several time, and hit him near death.

Instead of attacking, the creature simply asked again to be left alone. It didn't lift a paw. And then the Paladin killed it. There was no "trial by combat". That generally involves something along the lines of "I challenge you to a trial by combat". Not *walk up and hit the creature asking you to leave without being threatening whatsoever until it dies*.

I was not insulting this DM specifically.....

I already said we don't have enough information to decide anything I am saying a lot seems to go wrong with LG and paladins......

Most people go with killing evil is good and lawful....makes the game go easier...

This is commonly called "beer & pretzel" style of gameplay.....
Others like very complex play.....

No one is wrong. Different strokes for different folks!


The equalizer wrote:
Definitely fall. Just because something lights up as evil isn't good enough to justify killing someone or something. Especially so if whatever it is has not threatened you in any way. Alternatively, at least a very serious warning would be given by the deity's extraplanar servants. The actions taken by the paladin at best reflect a dodgy chaotic neutral. Not bothering to find out the reasons for why the wererat was there or even attempting any form of swaying it from its evil ways but straight to killing is the pragmatic and convenient option. The paladin chose the pragmatic and convenient option which is something that good aligned characters cannot always do. Especially lawful good ones.

Come on, you aren't falling for the poor evil wererat story are ye?


Pendagast wrote:

There is no denying it was a were rat, or that is was lawful evil.

The Paladin has an established duty to protect the innocent from evil threats, the wererats existence is an evil threat. As already established by the rules of TWO good golarion gods, (we dont know which one this guy falls under) is INACTION in the face of an evil threat would but the actions, pain, suffering and any future deaths on the paladins hands.

There is NO requirement for the creature to attack first, or attack at all, Execution IS acceptable.

Maybe the reason the creature didn't attack is because it accepted it's fate, and wanted to be released from it's curse through the only way possible short of divine intervention, death?

It had a vested interest in defending it's child from strangers, thus asking them to leave, if attacked it WOULD have attacked back, if only to defend it's child.

there are two things here that don't match up.

The paladin did not willing commit an evil act. He destroyed an evil monster.

the paladin did not commit an unlawful act, he was justified in following his mandate and purpose, to fight and destroy evil where he finds it.

Awwww yeah, bring out the smite.


Pendagast wrote:

there seems to be some misconception of continuity here. Killed monsters the whole time. But THIS monster is asking us to leave, oh OK were should just leave now, a dungeon full of monsters we all killed, but we need to leave this one alone.

Silliness.

If the monsters have manners, you can't kill them or you fall.

I can't find this in the paladin's code.

Silver Crusade

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As to the question of the DM; is he being a dick?

He has come in for some criticism here (including from me); so has the player. But the DM chose to air his concerns on this thread, knowing he may come in for some criticism, in order to make his game (and his DMing) better. This shows him in an excellent light, and reflects well on his game.

He wants advice from us about what went wrong and how to put it right. If he didn't he wouldn't have posted! The subject of paladin behaviour is notoriously divisive, and posting was like lighting the blue touch-paper.

So, what went wrong? There was a disconnect between the expectations of the player and the DM. I can empathise with both. The DM wanted to include a more layered, complex approach to characterisation of his NPCs, including playing a creature noted for uncontrolled, murderous rages and making him sympathetic. If he'd managed to communicate this effectively then the player would have had a chance to contribute to this part of the story, and add layers to his portrayal of a stereotypically one-dimensional class. Ways for the DM to communicate this desire were available; the DM has all the license he needs to adjudicate detect evil as more nuanced, allowing the player to get a more complex and layered reading. When playing the wererat, the DM could have been a lot more convincing!

From the player's point of view, does he have experience with this DM's games? Does he know that this DM likes a more nuanced game? Maybe, in the previous 3 levels there were just 'goodies' and 'baddies'. We've been told that the complex included undead, ogres and suchlike who have been kidnapping and imprisoning humans. The situation the DM seems to have set up is 'players versus monsters'. The players enter yet another room in this complex that they've been tasked to clear of monsters and make the area safe for civilisation. In all the rooms so far the task has been to slay the monsters and rescue the people. In this room there's a were-creature. They are infamous for being evil, uncontrollable, deadly and cunning. The party have been expected to attack, on sight, all the monsters so far, and none of them are automatically evil creatures. But here one stands. I wouldn't waste a move or standard action, but he can detect evil on a single creature as a swift action and goes out of his way to do so. What does the DM tell him? The DM says that it detects as evil. It must have at least 5 hit dice, very dangerous for a 4th level party, with it's major DR, infectious bite and supernatural strength and cunning. Does anyone seriously doubt that the paladin will attack?

But wait! After being hit the rat doesn't fight back, just asks him to leave! Why? What's going on? It's not screaming and begging for mercy. It's not surrendering. It's not explaining that it's guarding a human child (a likely story!); the characters haven't seen the child yet! Maybe that this particular powerful, evil, rabid, infectious, uncontrollable monster is a nice powerful, evil, rabid, infectious, uncontrollable monster!

Or maybe it's using it's animal cunning to get me to drop my guard so that it can get the drop on me, or escape! It's my responsibility to protect society from evil monsters, if it escapes it could jeopardise the entire village! My duty is clear!

Can you see the situation from the player's point of view?

Moving forward, what to do? Have an honest, two-way conversation with the player. Talk about your differing expectations of paladin behaviour in an attempt to reach common ground. The paladin shouldn't fall for this one instance as his behaviour was not unreasonable given what he knew (if you wanted the paladin to realise that the rat wasn't an adversary you should have done a better job of running the encounter). I'm not suggesting there should be no consequences; the paladin will soon realise (because you'll damn well make sure you get the information across this time!) the tragedy that just happened. Is it too late to Lay On Hands to stop the rat dying? If it's too late, let the player understand the tragedy. Let him feel the guilt. You can judge the paladin by how he responds to this tragedy. You can then make decisions about any game mechanic penalty, if any.

Well, you asked for help, and I hope this does help. I don't wish to demonise you (because then paladins will attack on sight!), but I hope you can see what went wrong and why, and take your game forward. You have an opportunity to include the more layered characterisation you seem to be looking for; the death of the rat doesn't end your efforts, it's a springboard for them! don't despair at the state of your game, use what you've learned to make it a better experience in the future. The noble rat died! Such drama!

What do you think of this? I hope you'll respond with your take on it now that you've read our thoughts. I also hope you'll come back to us with 'what happened next'. : )

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hm...that's difficult.
I'd say evil. Killing something after its asked you for mercy is...well, I don't know, that feels wrong to me. Yes, I know a lot of paladin codes say that you must kill evil things to avoid giving it the oppurtunity to commit evil, but personally, I've always preferred the Brandon Sanderson approach to the paladin code: that violence in and of itself is not the answer. In fact, when someone asks you for a second chance, be the better man and give it to them. If someone is asking you leave, be the better person and leave. Warn them that if they continue in their ways, you'll come back and blah, blah, blah, the thing with the smite evil. But just kill it in cold blood when it won't defend itself and just begs you to leave? No way, man, that seems evil.

Life before Death.


Wait, what Brandon Sanderson series has Paladins?

Because I'd like to read it.


funny thing is with detect evil.......

it will detect an evil aura, but if some character has an evil item on them and they themselves are nuetral, than the evil aura will still show up.... or atleast its my observation.......

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