Something interesting I came across while I was kicking around character concepts for PFS (which I do WAY to often and should really stop.)
I was considering making a PFS paladin (sacred shield) and decided that the best god to worship was Torag (him being the god of protection and all, and this character being mostly defensively based, it made sense.)
But what gets me is the Paladin code. The core book says that paladins have to adhere to a specific code, or they fall (become crappy fighters). The code in the core book basically says No killing downed foes, no lying/cheating/stealing, and basically behave honorably. However, the tenants of Torag say to show those that have proven to be a threat to you no quarter, and that defense and protection is paramount.
So what happens if I, say, find myself in a position of a great evil that we have knocked out? I can't suffer him to live (he might come back to hurt us) but do I lose my paladin-ness if I coup de grace him? What about if I find myself in a position where I have to lie in order to save some people?
Now most GMs would handwave this, especially if it was a home game, I know, but I'm looking for the official PFS stand on the subject. Do I have to adhere to the 'Iomede-like' Paladin code in the book and risk needing an atonement spell if some Dick PFS GM decides to punish me, or do I have some leeway?
I don't know where you're getting that it says no killing downed foes that isn't anywhere in their code of conduct.
Several GMs I have known have lumped "No Killing helpless opponents" in under the 'and so forth' part of 'acting honorably.'
But let's take that out. It says I must respect 'legitimate authority,' so does my escaped slave halfling paladin of Torag have to go along with it if I'm in Chelliax and my old master reclaims me as property? What if I poison a sieging army with diharetic in order to spare the people I'm defending?
I'm asking what comes first, the tenets of the god or the by-the-book paladin code?
Specific beats general, sometimes falling is beneficial to your cause, choose wisely. Also you specifically should not be expected to do such things. On a side note "legitimate authority" is so vague that any self respecting PC should be able to finagle an argument against it. It also helps to put ranks in K. Local if you must obey the law or linguistics.
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.
I think "punish those who harm or threaten innocents" covers potential combat killing. If they are down and not dieing, carry some manacles and arrest them instead. Take them back to the nearest town which can take him on as a prisoner and you're good to go.
The Pathfinder Society Campaign has no "official stand" on this.
Dealing with alignment infractions is one of those "table variance" things that can't be helped. Consult each GM before the session begins if you find you're running into alignment problems often.
For example: Torag's Paladin Code endorses the genocide of non-Dwarves.
Slitting a Goblin's throat would probably go perfectly with tea and crumpets for breakfast (or during your regular prayer session). I'd have no problem with you Axing Questions first. Other GMs may handle things differently.
But prepare for this thread to blow up, as most alignment discussions often do.
If you're concerned about new GMs, keep a copy of your code on hand. Before the game, hand the GM the code and say "Here's the code for my deity--I'm following this. If it conflicts with the general code, I'm supposed to go with this one."
Anytime you're concerned, talk to the GM before the game. It's a lot easier to make a reasoned argument when you're not in the middle of a combat sequence.
Consider getting a Phylactery of Faithfulness. That item essentially requires the GM to warn you before you commit an act that would cause you to fall in the GM's eyes.
Also, your paladin can always atone.