Roleplaying a Paladin / Hell Knight?


Advice

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The Morphling wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
The Morphling wrote:

I've never found a single instance where my character was required to commit an evil act in Pathfinder Society.

Then you haven't played enough scenarios, end of discussion

Can you point out a scenario where the players are required to commit an evil act to complete the module?

Faction missions do not count.

Not evil acts: acts that would break the paladin code. Paladins are more rigid than "no evil".

Sewer dragons: the entire mission is to establish a smuggling route.

Severing ties: Lying, deception, almost no way to avoid trespassing on holy ground

Glass river rescue: 99% likely to have to resist arrest from a legitimate authority

To scale the dragon: grave robbing, theft,

Quest for perfection II: smuggling, multiple cases of resisting arrest.

Quest for perfection III: Non humans have rights too, you're essentially breaking into someone's house and objecting violently when they attack you.

First steps 1: Stealing something from police impound.

Shades of ice II: You're fugatives illegally entering a city before you get out of the boxt text.

The dissapeared: pretty sure searching someone's house and taking their stuff while you're at a party is illegal.

The season 4 story arc: acts of rank blasphemy or assault.

This is just the ones I've played or DMed.

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Not evil acts: acts that would break the paladin code. Paladins are more rigid than "no evil".

Sewer dragons: the entire mission is to establish a smuggling route.

Severing ties: Lying, deception, almost no way to avoid trespassing on holy ground

Glass river rescue: 99% likely to have to resist arrest from a legitimate authority

To scale the dragon: grave robbing, theft,

Quest for perfection II: smuggling, multiple cases of resisting arrest.

Quest for perfection III: Non humans have rights too, you're essentially breaking into someone's house and objecting violently when they attack you.

First steps 1: Stealing something from police impound.

Shades of ice II: You're fugatives illegally entering a city before you get out of the boxt text.

The dissapeared: pretty sure searching someone's house and taking their stuff while you're at a party is illegal.

The season 4 story arc: acts of rank blasphemy or assault.

This is just the ones I've played or DMed.

I don't think a single one of those missions explicitly break the paladin code. A PFS GM who causes a paladin to fall for playing one of those scenarios is not being equitable.


Cop: "you're under arrest"

Paladin: "Greatsword to the face!"

How is that respecting legitimate authority?

Would I make a paladin fall for any of those? No of course not. I don't want to be a prat to the player and I make a lot of concessions to the meta narrative that people want to sit down to a game and have a good time. A paladin simply bends their oath/the lawful part of their alignment "this one time" in an episode series and I never see it rise to the level of needing to drop their alignment over to NG.

A hellknight doesn't get that flexibility though. (with the exception of the non humans, i don't know if chelaxian law cares.. probably not.)

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Cop: "you're under arrest"

Paladin: "Greatsword to the face!"

How is that respecting legitimate authority?

Would I make a paladin fall for any of those? No of course not. I don't want to be a prat to the player and I make a lot of concessions to the meta narrative that people want to sit down to a game and have a good time. A paladin simply bends their oath/the lawful part of their alignment "this one time" in an episode series and I never see it rise to the level of needing to drop their alignment over to NG.

A hellknight doesn't get that flexibility though. (with the exception of the non humans, i don't know if chelaxian law cares.. probably not.)

Actually, hellknights do get that flexibility. As far as I am aware, there are no modules that take place over the course of a week.

Council of Thieves Part 3, What Lies in Dust, Page 69 wrote:

Reckonings & Ex-Hellknights

All Hellknights adhere to a strict path of discipline, deviation from which is never taken lightly. Those who knowingly go against their order’s core philosophies, the Measure and the Chain (detailed in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume 28), are expected to undergo a reckoning. Reckonings are confessions wherein a Hellknight professes his crimes before a superior at his order’s citadel—or with another Hellknight or even alone if the citadel is unreachable. A reckoning is a half-hour-long ritual where the Hellknight exacts 1d6 points of damage upon himself for each infraction using the punishment favored by his order. The Hellknight cannot consciously accept magical healing until this damage heals naturally—accepting healing (willingly or not) counts as its own infraction. Reckonings must be faced within 1 week of an infraction, or else the Hellknight loses all of his supernatural abilities until his reckoning is faced.

What constitutes defiance of their code varies slightly from order to order, but at its core can be summarized as any act of lawlessness, defiance of a superior Hellknight, or aiding or ignoring the cause of chaos. The GM should inform a Hellknight player when his actions will result in an infraction, while the player should keep tally of such trespasses (rolling this number of d6s as damage at his next reckoning). Hellknights understand that situations exist where ignoring a crime might ultimately better aid the cause of law, yet are expected to punish themselves for such conscious oversights nonetheless.

A Hellknight who voluntarily ceases to be lawful or who is cast out of the knighthood by the decree of a legitimate leader of his order loses all the supernatural class features of the Hellknight prestige class. Hellknights are typically exiled from an order only after repeated and severe infractions against the Measure and the Chain or numerous acts that result in a change of alignment (GMs should make players blatantly aware of acts that might lead toward an alignment change). After being expelled from his order, a character may not progress any further in levels as a Hellknight. He regains his abilities and advancement potential if he is reaccepted by his order or another Hellknight faction, but such instances are exceedingly rare.

So what you do is you go about your daily business. Ignore the code of conduct for the Hellknight whenever a problem arises. Your paladin code of conduct is always going to be more important. Never violate that. Then you go to your citadel and flail yourself or whatever between modules. Because of the way time is handled between every time you play, you'll always have the time to heal those wounds naturally. Batabing bataboom, you're good.

Also, your argument implies that all cops are legitimate authority figures. I will tell you right now, if my paladin was in Razmaran, he would not recognize the faith barges or the enforcers as legitimate. He would not recognize their authority or their deity as existing, because for him they don't. Guards are sometimes nothing more thugs with a shiny badge. In order for a guardsman or a officer of a city to be considered legitimate, they need to be recognized as such first. No guards are considered authority figures until that recognition is given. To use a real world example, lets look at the American civil war.

"You southern states can't break away from the US and form your own country, that's illegal!"
"Yeah, so? We don't follow your laws, we're our own country."

Do you see where I'm coming from? It's like how a UN resolution to ban white phosphorous in warfare exists, but the US didn't sign it so we still use it. To quote Game of Thrones (Video link if you are unfamiliar, YouTube), "Power resides where men believe it resides." Bael believes power only resides in authority figures he has decided have power. So that Razmiran priest is nothing more than a bandit trying to capture him. Dead. That Andoran "noble" is nothing more than a thief and a scoundrel, causing suffering to those around him. No qualms with slicing and dicing then. The act of murder itself is wrong, yes. But in the case of the priest, he's simply defending himself from an attacker. In the case of the noble, he's lessening the suffering of the poor and weak. It can be justified.

This isn't always the case, though. Killing babies? Bael isn't cool with that. Burning down churches of good deities? No bueno. Most actions cannot be defended against. Killing people just happens to be one that can be argued. If the cop attempting to arrest Bael has a legitimate claim to authority in Bael's view, then he will submit to that authority. He has done so before, in fact, in the module Our Lady of Silver. The day to day interactions of the characters in game are much too complex, if you are running with players who actually build characters, and not just dice rolling machines, to ever use blanket statements. It really, really does have to be a case by case basis. Bael grew up in Chiliax, but he doesn't recognize Asmodan as an actual god, nor any evil god for that matter. As a player I know that yes, they are gods. But as a character, he sees worshipers to these beings as misguided souls who need redemption at best, and heretics who should be put down at worst. But I can never say all followers of Asmodan should be put down, because not all of them should be. The deity is a false one, but each person is unique and should be judged separately. Once judged however, he will issue forth the punishment that they deserve, as a Helladin (I love it, by the way) should do.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Hellknights are rigid champions of law: specifically the laws of cheliax. That wriggle room that paladins need, like superman overcoming kryptonite "just this once", isn't there. They've got themselves locked in in two directions. If its not a strait jacket its a pair of reaaaaaaaly tight leather pants.

Cue "Tight Leather Paladin" music!


For a "Hellpaladin"'s deity of choice, I recommend Ragathiel or Dammereich from Chronicle of the Righteous.


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Nanomd wrote:
Guards are sometimes nothing more thugs with a shiny badge

Yes they are. But if that badge means nothing more to you you're playing chaotic, not lawful. I'll listen to the cops I think are worth it is no different than the CG who's not playing chaotic stupid.

Can you tell me how your "lg" paladin acts any differently than the CG type?

The old Atone and Moan does not solve this.

Dark Archive

Chaotic characters recognize a guard as having legitimate authority and disobeys their commands anyway. Do you have the authority to command me? If yes, I'm going to ignore those commands, and give me your money. If no, I'm going to ignore those commands, and give me your money.

A neutral character doesn't care if the individual has authority, they're going to do what's best for them, sometimes following authority and sometimes not. It doesn't mater if that authority is legitimate.

A lawful character disobeying the commands of someone they don't recognize as having legitimate authority is not chaotic. It is in fact the very idea of the lawful alignment. Do you have the authority to command me? If yes, I will follow those commands. If no, I have no reason to listen to what you say.

You're confusing the idea of a lawful character with a character that obeys laws. They aren't the same thing.

And yes, atoning for your hellknight code transgressions does in fact solve this. Regardless of any personal qualms with the solution, it is a pathfinder society acceptable solution that follows the rules written for hellknights and paladins, and their specific code of conducts. It doesn't mater if the solution seems distasteful to an individual. The rulings of a home game don't work here. Do it by the book, and this is how it works, by the book.

Scarab Sages

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LazarX wrote:
Cue "Tight Leather Paladin" music!

<guitar intro>

Seek him here, seek him on the highway
Never knowing when he'll appear
All await, heartbeat ticking over
Hear the roar as they sense the fear

Steed! a glint of steel and a flash of light!
Screams! from a streak of fire as he strikes!

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

Black as night, faster than a shadow
Crimson flare from a raging sun
An exhibition, of sheer precision
Yet no one knows from where he comes

Fools! self destruct cannot take that crown
Dreams! crash one by one to the ground

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

There's many who tried to prove that they're faster
But they didn't last and they died as they tried

There's many who tried to prove that they're faster
But they didn't last and they died as they tried

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

slightly amended from original, by Tipton/Raymond


Nanomd wrote:
You're confusing the idea of a lawful character with a character that obeys laws. They aren't the same thing.

I am not. I am pointing out that both the paladin and the hellknight have a requirement to obey laws. NOT the same thing.

Quote:
Chaotic characters recognize a guard as having legitimate authority and disobeys their commands anyway.

So in your view there's NO difference in action.

Thats not an alignment. Alignment is a commitment to something.

Quote:
A lawful character disobeying the commands of someone they don't recognize as having legitimate authority is not chaotic. It is in fact the very idea of the lawful alignment. Do you have the authority to command me? If yes, I will follow those commands. If no, I have no reason to listen to what you say.

Except you've defined people with that authority as a practical null set.

I obey everyone above me!

No one is above me!

Functions exactly like a chaotic character.

Quote:
And yes, atoning for your hellknight code transgressions does in fact solve this.

When you violate your alignment often enough to have your own confessional chamber you're probably not that alignment anymore.

Quote:
Regardless of any personal qualms with the solution, it is a pathfinder society acceptable solution that follows the rules written for hellknights and paladins, and their specific code of conducts. It doesn't mater if the solution seems distasteful to an individual. The rulings of a home game don't work here. Do it by the book, and this is how it works, by the book.

And by the book if the DM feels you are not living up to your oaths as a paladin and a hellknight you're going to fall. This is incredibly difficult in organized play because you can't feel out the DM before hand.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Acts that would break the paladin code. Paladins are more rigid than "no evil".

Sewer dragons: the entire mission is to establish a smuggling route.

Severing ties: Lying, deception, almost no way to avoid trespassing on holy ground

Glass river rescue: 99% likely to have to resist arrest from a legitimate authority

To scale the dragon: grave robbing, theft,

Quest for perfection II: smuggling, multiple cases of resisting arrest.

Quest for perfection III: Non humans have rights too, you're essentially breaking into someone's house and objecting violently when they attack you.

First steps 1: Stealing something from police impound.

Shades of ice II: You're fugatives illegally entering a city before you get out of the boxt text.

The dissapeared: pretty sure searching someone's house and taking their stuff while you're at a party is illegal.

The season 4 story arc: acts of rank blasphemy or assault.

This is just the ones I've played or DMed.

Thanks for giving some specifics.

Sewer Dragons, Severing Ties: Don't know those.

Glass River Rescue: No problem. Our group presented ourselves as a merchant with guards (and since one of our group WAS a merchant, it wasn't even a lie), paid the toll, and moved on.

Scale the Dragon: Haven't played it, but 'grave robbing' is a laughable concept that presents no problem to a Pathfinder paladin. It's simply not a crime to explore a tomb or crypt and recover artifacts from it.

Quest for Perfection: Did the whole chain on my paladin--no conflicts at all. Smuggling? Didn't happen, since the boat-inspecting authority had no legal claim to the artifact we were transporting; we disabled the inspector when he overstepped his bounds and left him on the shore downstream. Conflict with the paladin code: zero. And how is defending a village "breaking and entering into someone's house"? Are you thinking of the right scenario?

First Steps: No police impound mentioned anywhere, so no conflict.

Shades of Ice 2: Since Whitethrone is an evil empire, its laws are irrelevant. Again, no conflict with the paladin code since no legitimate authority is present.

The Disappeared: Again, Evil Empire. There's nothing wrong with infiltrating an evil organization and reclaiming stolen property that they have no valid claim to. Any paladin would embrace such a mission.

So, no... not seeing the problem, unless one or more of your GMs has an odd interpretation of what the paladin code requires. Every paladin has the right to judge the legitimacy of any legal system he encounters, and comply only with those portions of it that he considers valid.

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:
I am not. I am pointing out that both the paladin and the hellknight have a requirement to obey laws. NOT the same thing.

The requirement to respect legitimate authority does not impose a requirement to follow all laws. Glass River Rescue involves guards who are little more than extortionist thugs. While smuggling may be a problem, so is a group of unfriendly kobolds in the sewers. In The Disappeared, you are investigating a potentially corrupt government.

It is absolutely ridiculous to say "you're breaking the law, you fall" to a paladin who is doing good in a way that doesn't betray his principles.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mergy wrote:
One thing I noticed is that you called it the Hellknight Enforcer. That means you probably got the prestige class off of d20pfsrd. Make sure you pick up a copy of the Inner Sea World Guide so that you are following PFS rules regarding Additional Resources.

Read all my posts, not just some of them. :P

Mergy wrote:

Yes, a hellknight paladin can certainly function, and if you spend your time playing season 5 adventures, you will function very well. Smite chaos is basically another smite evil you can use against demons, and if you go with Order of the Godclaw you can grab the travel domain to move at a speed of 40 ft. in your hellknight plate.

Just remember to keep some gold for an atonement; it won't be needed most of the time, but it's good to have in the event that you waver.

Godclaw sounds awesome, heh. Speed of 50 if I'm a tiefling for charging... :)

Dark Archive

Sorry, I scanned it and missed that post.

You should be fine as a paladin/hellknight. GMs who will punish you for the combination were already going to punish you for playing a paladin, and you have the option to not play with them. Discuss the overlapping codes with the GM prior to the game.

Dark Archive

I have a PFS Paladin God Claw Hellknight. It has been a lot of Fun. He is a Lawful/Good person. However, that doesn't mean he is always nice, nor does a good alignment require anyone to be nice or polite. His intimidate is better than his Diplomacy. I do focus more on Law than I do on being good for a lot of my reasoning on issues, but I have not broken my Vows so far.

There have been a few conflicts in modules. But usually I have a Team with me and they can do things I can not. Also I think it is helpful for PFS for people to take the Oath Of Vengeance so that you are not sidelined by little evils when trying to stop a greater evil.

I actually play with a Table of Hellknights and Hellknight Signifers. We have a great time and it is a lot of RP in any event that allows us to RP (and sometimes even when they don't).

Remember though that the Godclaw does include Asmodeus. (and immodea, Torag and so on) They are keepers of Law and the vast majority of them are LN. There is respect and worship of all gods in the God Claw.

Scarab Sages

The mention of Judge Dredd earlier made me look for an interview with a primary source, so I found several interviews with one-time main cowriter Alan Grant, which have been hilarious.
So some good has come of this.

The 'reforming from within' angle is one that can certainly fit. Not many casual readers are aware that, despite the cartoonish 'Ah aahm du LAAAAWR!' public perception of the character, Dredd has been a force for modernisation, civil rights and democracy within Mega City One and Justice Dept. since his mental breakdown, self-exile and return, in the strips of the late 80s/early 90s onwards (sometimes putting his life on the line, for principles such as public referendum and mutant rights).
And while still being a Grud-damned force of nature against anyone deserving of it.

If you can base something around the character, as written by the writers who know the character best (ignoring any interpretations by misguided 'talent' who play to the lowest common denominator, like Millar or Bisley), you won't go far wrong.


Quote:
Glass River Rescue: No problem. Our group presented ourselves as a merchant with guards (and since one of our group WAS a merchant, it wasn't even a lie), paid the toll, and moved on.

And the big bad at the end? She IS THE LAW.

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Quest for Perfection: Did the whole chain on my paladin--no conflicts at all. Smuggling? Didn't happen, since the boat-inspecting authority had no legal claim to the artifact we were transporting

Sure they did.

They also had the legal authority to stop you from entering the country.

Quote:
we disabled the inspector when he overstepped his bounds and left him on the shore downstream. Conflict with the paladin code: zero. And how is defending a village "breaking and entering into someone's house"? Are you thinking of the right scenario?

Not the villiage: the monastery. Its been abandoned for a long time, the yetis are sentient humanoids.

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First Steps: No police impound mentioned anywhere, so no conflict.

The crate with the three ravens on it. The police busted the owner for smuggling and the place has been seized by the town guard.

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Shades of Ice 2: Since Whitethrone is an evil empire, itsaws are irrelevant. Again, no conflict with the paladin code since no legitimate authority is present.

This is the rallying cry of CHAOTIC good. They are the legitimate authority.

Quote:
So, no... not seeing the problem, unless one or more of your GMs has an odd interpretation of what the paladin code requires. Every paladin has the right to judge the legitimacy of any legal system he encounters, and comply only with those portions of it that he considers valid.

Chaotic. Good.

Dark Archive

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Have you had any PFS paladins at your table? Have you explained your attitude towards the class' restrictions prior to play?


Mergy wrote:
Have you had any PFS paladins at your table? Have you explained your attitude towards the class' restrictions prior to play?

The paladins class explains it.

And again, I'm more than willing to look the other way for a paladin that breaks the rules "just this once" as far as the lawful/respect authority thing goes because being good is more important to them.

A hellknight is just as inflexible on law as a paladin is on good. THATS where I think the problem comes from.

I can also toss the player a bone. IE in First steps I, I can have the scarzini guy look the paladin up and down, tell the paladin to go move some boxes in the back, then turn to the more larceny minded and tell them whats going on, and then when the paladin comes back play it off as a regular delivery.

Dark Archive

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Mergy wrote:
Have you had any PFS paladins at your table? Have you explained your attitude towards the class' restrictions prior to play?

The paladins class explains it.

And again, I'm more than willing to look the other way for a paladin that breaks the rules "just this once" as far as the lawful/respect authority thing goes because being good is more important to them.

A hellknight is just as inflexible on law as a paladin is on good. THATS where I think the problem comes from.

I can also toss the player a bone. IE in First steps I, I can have the scarzini guy look the paladin up and down, tell the paladin to go move some boxes in the back, then turn to the more larceny minded and tell them whats going on, and then when the paladin comes back play it off as a regular delivery.

"It would appear we have reached an impasse." There seems to be a discrepancy in how the majority of those on this thread define authority as legitimate, and how you yourself do. At this point I would advice you open a new thread in the pathfinder society board, or the rules board, and argue your case there. Because as stated, we have reached an impasse.


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There is a difference between "legitimate authority" and "authority I'm willing to recognize."

The Paladin (and especially the Hellknight) will go along with authority they don't agree with, as long as it's legitimate.

ie: If the city guard tries to use his position to extort an illegal "city entrance tax" then it doesn't matter that he has authority as a city guard because this particular authority isn't legitimate. You can safely ignore/fight the extortion.
If, however, the city guard asks you for your travel papers to enter the city and you forgot them, then you don't have leeway to ignore him and illegally enter the city anyway. His decision to deny you entrance to the city is absolutely legitimate, and if you choose to ignore him you could face immediately losing your powers (Paladin) or be required to atone within the week (Hellknight).


What do you do that is lawful?

How are you more honorable than anyone else when you lie and cheat just as often as they do?

How are you more trustworthy than anyone else if you're going to turn your back on an oath at a whim?

How are you obedient to authority if 90% of the authority on the planet is illegitimate to you?


Mergy wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
I am not. I am pointing out that both the paladin and the hellknight have a requirement to obey laws. NOT the same thing.

The requirement to respect legitimate authority does not impose a requirement to follow all laws. Glass River Rescue involves guards who are little more than extortionist thugs. While smuggling may be a problem, so is a group of unfriendly kobolds in the sewers. In The Disappeared, you are investigating a potentially corrupt government.

It is absolutely ridiculous to say "you're breaking the law, you fall" to a paladin who is doing good in a way that doesn't betray his principles.

Indeed. Otherwise we end up with ridiculous scenarios where Evil Overlords can just use their laws to shield themselves from Paladins. I don't see a Paladin just standing on the sidelines watching a virgin sacrifice, just because the local tyrant says it's a legal virgin sacrifice.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
Indeed. Otherwise we end up with ridiculous scenarios where Evil Overlords can just use their laws to shield themselves from Paladins. I don't see a Paladin just standing on the sidelines watching a virgin sacrifice, just because the local tyrant says it's a legal virgin sacrifice.

This is an example of one of those "trap" options, and any decent GM is going to allow the Paladin to err on the side of Good (since a virgin sacrifice is a greater victory for evil than ignoring the law) probably requiring them to atone but without removing their powers unless they refuse to atone.

The Hellknight, however, absolutely would stand aside and allow the legal sacrifice to happen.
This is why it's so hard to wrap one's head around a Paladin/Hellknight.


Chengar Qordath wrote:


Indeed. Otherwise we end up with ridiculous scenarios where Evil Overlords can just use their laws to shield themselves from Paladins.

Which you DO see, to a great extent. Paladins are in fact greatly hindered in their ability to act against the ubiquitous evil overlords that inhabit Golarion.

Cheliax is a nation based on the enslavement of the halfling populace. Absolom has a great deal of chattle slavery with some horrible conditions. What you don't see are paladins hacking slavers apart at the drop of a hat when the same act of kidnapping by a gnoll out in the middle of nowhere would earn an instant and unrepentant "SMITE EVIL TO THE FACE!"

The paladin is constrained by their belief in the system: that it can be changed from within. That the better path for the many is to try to change the laws, not throw it all away in one fit of anger that will do at best one person. That protection is not absolute but it is still very much in place and still very effective.

Chaotic good types can freely jaunt around the countryside filling slavers full of fletching until they get mistaken for tengu... thats a big reason why adventurers tend towards the chaotic.

Quote:
I don't see a Paladin just standing on the sidelines watching a virgin sacrifice, just because the local tyrant says it's a legal virgin sacrifice.

I"ve said to the point of redundancy: if you push a regular paladins adherence to the law too far towards evil they can smite you because they are MORE good than lawful. A paladin hellknight doesn't have that much leeway.


Reading up on the Paladin Code, it's far more complex than I originally anticipated.

Quote:

Code of Conduct

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

So you have to be lawful good, that's a given, but there are 'many flavours' of Lawful good.

It merely depends on how extreme you are taking each alignment axis, nominally using the diagrams from the Ultimate Campaign book, there are 3 'grades' of Good and Lawful,
In addition to the alignment, paladins have additional restrictions to their behaviour. To help explain how I'm interpreting these, I'll need to grab a snippet from a Paladin Archtype, the Oathbound Paladin.
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Code of Conduct

The oathbound paladin must abide by the listed tenets of her oath in addition to the specifics of her god’s code of conduct. In some cases, a deity’s or paladin order’s code may conflict with the oath’s tenets; in most cases, these conflicts mean the oath is unsuitable for a paladin of that deity or order (such as the Oath against the Wyrm with respect to a good dragon deity or a dragon-riding order of paladins) and cannot be selected by the paladin.

The Oathbound entry brings to light something that some may miss, but is how I've played and run Paladin's since 2nd Ed. The god you follow, who grants your powers, their servants, their creed, that is what sets the 'boundaries' of you code of conduct.

You respect those who Torag deems is a legitimate authority, you act with honour as set forth by Iomedae, you help those in need as Cayden Cailean sees fit and you punish in the name of Sarenrae. The gods may not see someone not in their order as truly legitimate, but I'm not going to bring this into a seminal discussion.
In addition to your basic code, your god may require additions to your code of conduct, require you to say or do things or the opposite.
It depends on the god, and if you are part of a Paladin or Religious Order or take an Oath.

A Paladin does not fall, cannot fall, for breaking a law or committing a chaotic act, as those acts don't instantly change your alignment. You also don't fall from breaking the Paladin Code of Conduct, you can lie to someone to keep them safe, you can give someone a raw deal, and you can take a life when necessary. Paladins only fall when they commit an Evil act, if in breaking the Code or a law they also commit an Evil act, then yes they would fall. They can also lose their powers when they move their alignment out of Lawful Good, which only happens at the end of the scenario in PFS to my knowledge, and can be dealt with on a case by case basis, and truly will be difficult to enforce due to the nature of PFS.

I haven't had a chance to go through the Hellknight entries in any real depth, they seem to have a more flexible stance on morality than Paladins. But I'll leave studying that to tomorrow, as I'll have time then.

Slavery is not always Evil, and in a lot of cases it tends to be considered Lawful. But I'm not going to get into that argument tonight.


Tumskunde wrote:
I haven't had a chance to go through the Hellknight entries in any real depth, they seem to have a more flexible stance on morality than Paladins. But I'll leave studying that to tomorrow, as I'll have time then.

Morality, yes. Ethics, no.


Hi, kind of new here!

Just want to say that the Hellknight/Paladin concept seems cool and plausible in a general setting.

For PFS/Organized play, unfortunately it has to suffer from the "No PvP" rules... since most often where the Paladin/Hellknight conflicts with other players Society specifically demands non-confrontation. I don't think most GM's will punish a player harshly for small "non-good" and/or "non-lawful" acts, but I'd caution against it simply because you may feel repressed as a character.

On a side not I just played as session with my LG Paladin/Rogue character and did pretty well. Never attacked unless provoked, gave enemies a chance to surrender (and sneak attacked them if the didn't!), and didn't kill a single person.

Sadly my fellow Paladin wasn't as much of a roleplayer, as I counted 2 lies (one fairly major) and he participated in looting our unconscious foes. *Snicker* got a good chuckle when the cleric, sorcerer and I left with the artifact to continue the mission, and the 2 looters ended up getting picked up by the town guard. The cleric returned and beautiful role played for their legal release. The story continued smoothly.

(Ps. Don't forget there are 3 parts of the Lawful/Chaotic axis. Minor "unlawful acts could easily be Neutral-Good or even Neutral-Neutral, rather than any breaking of "Laws" is an act of chaos).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have a Tiefling (Pit born) Paladin 6 / Hellknight 1 (order of god claw) Silver Crusade faction in PFS play. He is a worshipper of Ragathiel.

I have had allot of fun playing this character. He is from Mendev, and for a character inspiration i use the "voice" of Inigo Montoya. "By the way do you happen to have six fingers?" " No well I do, and i find that question is a great way to break the ice".

He has the bludgeoner feat, and happily pounds away on his opponents with his earth breaker. With the Bludgeoner my character more often then not does subdual damage. This way he can easily choose who to avoid killing, and whom to put down permanently. ALso sometimes we need someone alive.

After several adventures when he was merciful to his opponents, only to find they fled to inform their master and continued in the fight against his party, did he decide that maybe a "sterner" way to deal with his enemies would be better.....hence the level of hell knight. I don't know if i shall continue and take another 5 levels of hell knight making my character 6 paladin /6 hell knight, or if i will simply stick with paladin, but, I am having fun with the character.

I hope this helps


But how do you justify Order of the Godclaw? (Genuinely curious, not trolling, I promise.)

Because that order demands veneration of Abadar, Asmodeus, Iomedae, Irori, and Torag.
So when you fail to live up to the order's tenets by refusing Asmodeus (you're a Paladin, after all), how do you avoid being rejected from the Order?


Here is a thought: the way one imagines a paladin, would it allow a Paladin to be an effective member of a party, while making at least a head-nod toward difficult choices/tactics spawned from the paladin's code?

If one's interpretation of a paladin's code allows a useful, active paladin in the party, and he still gets a chance to roleplay his code- something important to the character class- then carry on.

If one's interpretation of a paladin's code does not allow the character to be an effective member of the party, or ignores the paladin's code to the point of irrelevance, then playing a paladin in one's game is pointless. One can run one's game as one chooses, but I'm not sure ruling out an entire class is how it should be done.

Now, for the Hellknight Paladin...I do not agree that a Good or Neutral Hellknight would stand by while a heinous act occurs in their sight. Obey the laws is all well and good, but if a character cannot justify it to himself, all the laws in the world won't stop a mundane smite (aka Power Attack) from cleaving the offender in twain.

Or at the very least I can see a hellkinght stepping up and telling a group to stop:

A Cheesy Example::

DM: You see a group of the Baron’s enforcers roughing up the nuns that run the orphanage.

Helga the Lawful Good Hellkinght: I walk between the enforcers and the nuns. The blades and spikes on my armor should easy enough to makes some space.

DM (as Baron’s Enforcers): Hey! We are the deputized members of the Baron’s Tax Collections Bureau, and allowed to use any means necessary to collect the debts. These nuns and orphans way behind in their payments to the good baron- who, by the way, was given responsibility of this land and its peasants by that king you like so much.

Helga: Of course. I am simply a hellknight, recognized by the king to enforce the laws of his country. One of those laws states that I may pursue crime anywhere I go, and that local guards won’t stop me. Today, my pursuit of crime has lead me to stand right here. Just because it’s between you and the nuns is pure…happenstance. Mind the elbow spikes; I just sharpened them.

I think its important to remember that alignments are made up two parts, not one. Yes, certain classes place a higher value on one or the other, but the other half still exists. A organization can have just one side, but a character- a person- is infinitely more complex.

A character that acts Lawful Evil will enjoy the idea of slavery (so long as he is not the slave). A Lawful Good prone character will not like the idea, and would go about ways to stopping it in a way that suits his morals. A character that sticks close to the Lawful Neutral path might take the slaves side (after all, according to most slaves, what is being done to him is wrong, and against the laws from where ever he is from), or he might side with the slavers ("Never mind that you are a captured person who broke no laws- hence, not a criminal- taken against your will from your home and forced to labor without pay or care of a patron, you currently hold the position of 'slave' and that's that"). Or he might just pass by, stating he currently sees no laws currently being broken, so life is in balance.

Also note, that a dark, murderous Hellknight might take offense to slavery, butcher the slavers, set the slaves free, and walk away whistling. Because enslavement is a divine right, for example, and not to be practiced by mortals.

So a Hellknight Paladin if an awesome concept, but it is more difficult that a straight paladin or Hellknight. You can't just bludgeon some one into unconsciousness because they are evil, you have to make sure you can do it legally (or at least, in line with your lawful code, which may not match the local laws).

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Which you DO see, to a great extent. Paladins are in fact greatly hindered in their ability to act against the ubiquitous evil overlords that inhabit Golarion.

Cheliax is a nation based on the enslavement of the halfling populace. Absolom has a great deal of chattle slavery with some horrible conditions. What you don't see are paladins hacking slavers apart at the drop of a hat when the same act of kidnapping by a gnoll out in the middle of nowhere would earn an instant and unrepentant "SMITE EVIL TO THE FACE!"

Actually, there's a paladin-led resistance group in Cheliax that does this very thing. They don't view House Thrune as a legitimate authority. By the way, they're still paladins.


So, I went digging a bit and found a few posts that are relevant to this discussion. The first is a post where James Jacobs (the creative director of Golarion) explicitly says that paladins can be Hellknights, and mentions that Pathfinder #27 and #28 have details on how. The second is where James Jacobs (again, the creative director of everything in the setting) talks about how a few Hellknight orders are led by paladins, and that while there is, as he puts it, "infernal infiltration" in the ranks, Hellknights don't worship hell in any sense beyond using its denizens for training and appreciating the order/law/structure. The third is a post by F. Wesley Schneider (the editor-in-chief) going more into detail on how a paladin could be in the ranks of a Hellknight order. Finally, I have one by a non-Paizo-staff-member detailing his paladin-Hellknight's code as a member of the Order of the Godclaw.

Outside of forum posts, reading through the Hellknight sections in Pathfinder #27 and #28, Order of the Godclaw was founded by a paladin (a paladin of Aroden by the name of Seldinin Choaz), and is currently led by a LN fighter/cleric/hellknight and a paladin. The other orders often have LG leaders in their mix (along with LN and LE).

Also, the paladin code of conduct only states the following:

PRD wrote:
Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

None of that contradicts a Hellknight's code. Helping those in need is not against any of the Hellknight orders (though the others in your order may scoff at your displays kindness), and the rest holds true with being Lawful. It also states, quite explicitly, that you must only follow legitimate authority; this means that laws that contradict the laws you uphold (in the case of a Hellknight, the laws of your order and of Cheliax) are not necessarily considered legitimate, and you would thus be allowed to break them if necessary to upholding your codes of Law and Good.

I see no reason why a paladin could not be a hellknight.


That example code does not hold up to scrutiny with the Paladin code. It blatantly says if it helps the Order he will willingly mislead others. That is not honorable behavior, and could cause a Paladin fall.

Also, I'm still waiting on the explanation from anyone for where you get to ignore this part of the Paladin code:

Quote:
Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

Hellknights are not typically champions of morality. Devil-summoning, even if only used for training, etc, is always an Evil act, for example.

Or how you justify belonging to an Order that venerates Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells (even if he's only one among 5, he's still one).


Neo2151 wrote:
That example code does not hold up to scrutiny with the Paladin code. It blatantly says if it helps the Order he will willingly mislead others. That is not honorable behavior, and could cause a Paladin fall.

Not necessarily. It says that the paladin is not allowed to lie. However, using the truth to mislead an untrustworthy foe or illegitimate authority figure is not breaking any rules set forth in the paladin description.

Neo2151 wrote:

Also, I'm still waiting on the explanation from anyone for where you get to ignore this part of the Paladin code:

Quote:
Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.
Hellknights are not typically champions of morality. Devil-summoning, even if only used for training, etc, is always an Evil act, for example.

Because you're missing the second part of that, which states that under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. Allying yourself with evil Hellknights in an effort to defeat greater evils would fall under that category, and while it says that the paladin should use atonement spells during this time, it does not say this is a requirement. If the paladin should fall due to this alliance, they can then seek atonement and ask their deity (or deities) for guidance on the matter and act accordingly from there, as they rightfully believed that the Hellknights' pursuit for justice and order was a good one.

Neo2151 wrote:
Or how you justify belonging to an Order that venerates Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells (even if he's only one among 5, he's still one).

I don't have to. As I already mentioned, the Order of the Godclaw was founded by a paladin and one of its two leaders is a paladin. As in, it's already been justified by the people who wrote the world, and it hasn't caused these paladins to fall, so it must be okay to do.

But even so, Asmodeus is not worshipped in a specific sense in this case; he is simply part of the whole. They select bits and pieces from the tenets of each to make a "doctrine inspired by yet wholly unlike the faith of any of the engendering figures." Quote taken straight from Pathfinder #27.

*Edit* I also just checked the alignments of all the leaders listed in the different orders, and there are: 8 LN leaders, 5 LG leaders, and only 3 LE leaders. So the Evil Hellknights appear to be in the minority at the moment.

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In the end, everyone is all choked up about the name. If you called them Law Knights there wouldn't be half the outcry. Axioknights?

NO THEY CAN'T BE PALADIN HELL KNIGHTS BECAUSE HELL IS EVIL AND PALADINS ARE GOOD.


Mergy wrote:

In the end, everyone is all choked up about the name. If you called them Law Knights there wouldn't be half the outcry. Axioknights?

NO THEY CAN'T BE PALADIN HELL KNIGHTS BECAUSE HELL IS EVIL AND PALADINS ARE GOOD.

Its more like "why can't a law knight be a pathfinder". Because pathfinders break more laws before breakfast than Abbadar enforces in a week.


Mergy wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Which you DO see, to a great extent. Paladins are in fact greatly hindered in their ability to act against the ubiquitous evil overlords that inhabit Golarion.

Cheliax is a nation based on the enslavement of the halfling populace. Absolom has a great deal of chattle slavery with some horrible conditions. What you don't see are paladins hacking slavers apart at the drop of a hat when the same act of kidnapping by a gnoll out in the middle of nowhere would earn an instant and unrepentant "SMITE EVIL TO THE FACE!"

Actually, there's a paladin-led resistance group in Cheliax that does this very thing. They don't view House Thrune as a legitimate authority. By the way, they're still paladins.

Thrunes ascension is recent enough for that. What are they called?

How many paladins do you see working for Cheliax? How many do you see working for random groups of slaver?

Like I said, the protection isn't absolute but it has at least as many paladins working for cheliax as it does working against them.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Mergy wrote:

In the end, everyone is all choked up about the name. If you called them Law Knights there wouldn't be half the outcry. Axioknights?

NO THEY CAN'T BE PALADIN HELL KNIGHTS BECAUSE HELL IS EVIL AND PALADINS ARE GOOD.

Its more like "why can't a law knight be a pathfinder". Because pathfinders break more laws before breakfast than Abbadar enforces in a week.

You keep saying that, and it keeps not being true. What matters is whether the law or authority in question is legitimate by the PC's standards... and that goes for both paladins and Hellknights. There are plenty of authority figures that even the most lawful character would shrug off as irrelevant and illegitimate, and never face a single aligment-deviation qualm for it.

The way you're arguing that defiance of any lawful authority must be chaotic... that would prevent paladins from raiding the Nine Hells and toppling Asmodeus. Of course, no paladin is prevented from such a quest because Asmodeus is not a legitimate authority, and his rules need not be respected. Ask any paladin!


The lawful / chaotic axis of alignment is all kinds of incoherent, but here is how one of my PFS characters (a Lawful Neutral Chelaxian fighter) handles it.

1.) The world is too dangerous to be Chaotic. The world is full of dragons, liches, demons, ancient curses, and countless other things that would totally destroy the average peasant. The only way for the common people to be safe and prosperous is to band together into organized groups for mutual defense. Organization requires authority, someone has to direct the group or it isn't a group, it's a bunch of individuals all doing what they individually think best. Read some Hobbes for more details. Without a sovereign wielding real enforceable authority, the world devolves into the war of all against all and life becomes "nasty, brutish, and short" for all involved.

2.) He's an imperial soldier, he exists within a military chain of command and within a chain of feudal loyalty. The source material isn't clear, so I've decided members of the Imperial military are oath sworn directly to the Empress and she delegates authority over them to officers.

3.) He's a Pathfinder because he's been ordered to be one. He's been seconded to the Society by his commanding officer to a) further his education as an officer, b) further Cheliax's interests, and c) spy on the Society.

4.) Cheliax has an explicit contract with the Society that puts Marcus Farabellus into his chain of command, below his (former) commanding officer but above him. Farabellus can further delegate authority to whatever Venture Captain is distributing missions this week.

5.) If I play, to use an example above, Glass River Rescue, I will be ordered to

Spoiler:
enter Razmir on false pretenses, infiltrate a Razmiri secret police holding cell, and extract prisoners from the secret police. All of which are certainly illegal under Razmiri law.
None of those pose a threat to my lawful nature. *Not* doing them would. I've been ordered to complete this mission by the Empress acting through her designated officials. Being lawful means taking some legal code very very seriously, not *all* legal codes.

6.) Completing my mission assignment is always lawful if I'm completing it *because it is my mission*, not because I think it is a good idea, not despite thinking it is a bad idea, not because it obeys or violates local law. I'm a man under orders, that's why I act, and that makes me lawful.

7.) I'm in on position to question the legitimacy of my orders (even orders that say "break someone else's laws"), but my methods towards those objectives will be as lawful as possible. We're not executing prisoners, we're not murdering local constables, we're not setting more things on fire than we really have to, etc...

In short, I think it is perfectly possible to complete all your PFS missions, not give a toss about local law, and stay as lawful as the day is long.


Slightly off topic on the RP side of things, but if there is no mention of the reckonongs requirement in the actual listing of the prestige class in the Inner Sea World Guide. Is this then a optional rule, or has the class changed between the guide and CoT?


you two DO realize this topic is from last year, right


*actually looks at dates*
Huh, how about that


Well, which is better if you have further questions/input? To necro a thread, or to create an entirely new one?

I have been to a forum where necroposting gets you in trouble, but so does creating a new thread about the same topic. So, if an existing thread that is older than the time frame the moderators think is too old, does not answer your question... TOO BAD.

That's why unless the site is like that one where they actually say "Do not necropost and do not make new threads on the same topic" then if you have something relevant to add, why make a new topic?

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