Do AntiPaladins make sense?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I got into a discussion with someone today and a few other people agreed that antipaladins don't make sense. The very fact that they must enter into some kidn of contract with an outsider makes them inherently lawful. Not only that, but the description seems a little odd because it says they "promote tyranny" which is LE, and they are 'antiheroes" which aren't really what the Antipaladin is.

Shadow Lodge

Yeah i really think they fit more like a lawful evil type. Its really hard to picture somone who is psycopath who disregards everything as adehered to a patron, religion or some twisted code of conduct


The AntiPaladin's knock-off Paladin abilities are great, representing a corruption of what Paladins hold dear, but they should be Lawful Evil for those exact reasons you stated.


I don't know that Antipaladin's enter into a "contract", really. The entry in the APG references making "pacts" with demons, etc., and there is a "Code" of sorts.

But, it's more a rejection of everything a Paladin stands for, than a set of rules of their own. The name even suggests that.


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The Crusader wrote:

I don't know that Antipaladin's enter into a "contract", really. The entry in the APG references making "pacts" with demons, etc., and there is a "Code" of sorts.

But, it's more a rejection of everything a Paladin stands for, than a set of rules of their own. The name even suggests that.

Devoted entirely to a set of guidelines and rules, even if those are merely a shadow cast by the paladin code, does make them pretty lawful, imo.


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Overall, they might work better if they had a hellknight kind of feel- they want to bring order and law to the world because they believe it will protect people and improve their lives.

But actually dealing with the world while using a paladin's idealism can disillusion them when they have to face the darker face of society. Thus, they abandon all that hope and kindness for the 'greater good'.

That would be a cooler method of doing this. And heck, you would be more likely to actually recruit paladins (very few would do this 180 without some big story reason, like they are a paladin of Abadar, and their wife/sister/puppy got killed by their LE cleric superior).

The antipaladin is just too METAL to be palatable for anyone who was originally the kind of bright eyed youth that went through paladin training.

And if Asmodeus has some orders of these guys, it would cause interesting tension since they might have similar interests (taking out Rovagug cults, for example). And heck, our grimdark paladins might actually respect the regular paladins (Asmodeus generally has respect for Lawful deities), although they might think their colleagues a bit naive.


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I've always handles them as LE. I can even kind of get behind a CG "holy liberator" style character, but find CE "codes" a bit hard to fathom.


I would prefer that sort of take on the antipaladin. Not that the were completely inverse, but that they were evil rather than good.

The idea that a paladin fails, and falls against goodness only to realize that they can save the world...it just requires breaking a few eggs to get there. That is the antipaladin I can see.

The entire about face of the character honestly seems a bit much. And lets face it, it's hard for Chaotic Evil to come across as anything other than homicidal maniac that wants to destroy everything.


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Hell Knights are the best.

I wish a Hell Knight was just a 20-level Lawful Anything Paladin. More smites, some auras to fill the empty levels, expand their Force of Will, more Disciplines on the list. True defenders of civilization, even if it has to be with an iron fist.

It's a dream of mine, but I'm too lazy to do it myself.


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I tend to treat them as being possessed. The demons are spurring them to act CE. The demons could allow the host to act in a nonCE manner, but they rarely do (unless they see a way to fulfill other goals), although a host with enough willpower can resist them, but doing so causes the demons to withhold their power.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Nothing says they have to make pacts with outsiders, or even keep their word in those pacts. Tyranny is "cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control" which certainly fits with the antipaladin's nature.

Following rules (which the antipaladin doesn't really do) isn't really lawful either. It can be a sign of a lawful nature, but Law does not hold the market share on rules.

Also, "An antihero or antiheroine is a leading character in a story who, unlike a traditional hero, acts in an unheroic manner and lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage and morality."


Yeah CE Antipaladin intent seems to be 'like a f!++ing crazy barbarian, but a paladin, sorta" or like a living demon. I tend to see them more like Hellknights or Lich King tho.

Shadow Lodge

Well the lich king is quite insane but his purpose is more like "rules the world than " destroy the world" The chaotic evil guy basically is somone who want to see the world burn 4 teh lulz, tyrany is only justified as means to get to s&+! on everything and everyone, certaintly it makes agreat villian but not how i picture an antipaladin. I picture an antipaladin more the way Tarquin works in order of the stick, is f+*%ing evil yes and want to see everyone suffer yes but in order to achieve his plans. I have problems making Antipaladins npcs for instance they wouldnt last a second in an organization or at being organized, this is how it applies to real world no mafia works by going bananas, most successful criminals are organized and methodic and follow certain rules.


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I'm not sure you guys quite understand how an antipaladin works. The "pact" they enter with demons/evil deities is not some huge, elaborate, restrictive paladin code. It's more like, "I'm giving you my power. I'm not putting many strings on you, just asking you to do violence in my name. Have fun!"

I will concede that LE antipaladins would be cool. There's always the Lord of Darkness archetype from WoTW.


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I think that a LE Antipaladin would just be a paladin that has smite chaos and detect chaos instead. LE means that you are a team player and I think since Asmodeus grants infernal healing that converting LOH to an ability that grants fast healing would be a better concept.


You can't break the anti-paladin's code without changing alignment.


The thing about CE is that you don't always have to be Pure Evil all the time. Joeffrey (is that how you spell it) from game of thrones is widely considered CE. And yet he does rule a kingdom (suckily I may add) so he's not against order at all. He just does whatever he wants and enjoys the pain of others.

I think an anti paladin could work like that if you want. But perhaps with a more serious end game goal in the end. So in short, I think you guys are all equating the anti paladin to be a Darth Vader type of character. Though if you want to be that, then Hell Knight is more than likely a better option.


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Marroar Gellantara wrote:
You can't break the anti-paladin's code without changing alignment.

You break the code when you are not being METAL 24/7. When you get a desk job and start filing paper work. When you drive the kids to soccer practice. When you watch grey's anatomy with your wife.

Cover your desk in your boss' entrails. Use the opposing team's head as soccer balls. Sleep with 5 different women through out the night (whether they survive the experience is optional). All the while, offer the blood you spill to the blood god.

At least, this seems to be the way that antipaladins are supposed to be played.


While I agree they should be LE, the original antipaladin of D&D 1e was in fact CE and this that rendition updated to Pathfinder. Its very name suggests "opposite paladin" and how could it seem opposite and still remain lawful.


I think the opposites contrast a lot better as LE than CE. Having the similarities makes the difference in motivation far starker. The antipaladin still follows order, but a different sort of order.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
DominusMegadeus wrote:
The Crusader wrote:

I don't know that Antipaladin's enter into a "contract", really. The entry in the APG references making "pacts" with demons, etc., and there is a "Code" of sorts.

But, it's more a rejection of everything a Paladin stands for, than a set of rules of their own. The name even suggests that.

Devoted entirely to a set of guidelines and rules, even if those are merely a shadow cast by the paladin code, does make them pretty lawful, imo.

it's more like a devotion to the antithesis of what a paladin is. it's not a guideline or a rule. it is OOC that you fall if you don't follow them. A anti-paladin follows them because it is what gives him power and it is what he truely believes.

I don't even see a guideline of rejecting all rules as lawful in the least either. Also, I've never played an antipaladin who was all coszy up with some outsider.

I see them more as a beacon of desolation and destruction wrought by a perverted psyche. totes hard to pull off as a PC.


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Domestichauscat wrote:
The thing about CE is that you don't always have to be Pure Evil all the time. Joeffrey (is that how you spell it) from game of thrones is widely considered CE. And yet he does rule a kingdom (suckily I may add) so he's not against order at all. He just does whatever he wants and enjoys the pain of others.

Indeed. It's not like Chaotic Evil characters are incapable of making or following rules. Just that they only follow rules when there's a clear, immediate, and certain punishment for breaking them. However, a chaotic evil character's rules have no consistency or fairness beyond his own evil whims, and any agreements he makes won't last much longer than his own willingness to put up with them.

To pull on the Game of Thrones example, Joffrey was capable of pretending to be nice and gentlemanly when his plans (or those of his minders) required acting friendly. However, if his temper flared or nobody was holding his leash his nasty side would quickly show itself.

Domestichauscat wrote:
I think an anti paladin could work like that if you want. But perhaps with a more serious end game goal in the end. So in short, I think you guys are all equating the anti paladin to be a Darth Vader type of character. Though if you want to be that, then Hell Knight is more than likely a better option.

Indeed. It's worth noting that the Anti-Paladin Code isn't much of a code at all thanks to being so open-ended and full of loopholes.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Domestichauscat wrote:
So in short, I think you guys are all equating the anti paladin to be a Darth Vader type of character. Though if you want to be that, then Hell Knight is more than likely a better option.

Because Darth Vader is the most popular "dark knight" character in modern fiction (excluding Batman, who has so many different interpretations that it's difficult to call any of them canon). And many people strongly believe the antipaladin should have been something like the hellknight?


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Anti-paladins, as written, are cartoon, mustash twirling bad guys.


Mechagamera wrote:
I tend to treat them as being possessed. The demons are spurring them to act CE. The demons could allow the host to act in a nonCE manner, but they rarely do (unless they see a way to fulfill other goals), although a host with enough willpower can resist them, but doing so causes the demons to withhold their power.

Demon possession is a pretty good hook for them and their super powered CE villain theme. Partial possession could also explain the falling aspects, as the demon is the reason for the code's importance. And that could flip for paladins as well with partial celestial possession.


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I wouldn't say that the Antipaladin doesn't make sense, but what I would say is that having Paladins and Antipaladins but NOT Holy Warriors of other alignments doesn't make sense. The other thing is that Paladins and Antipaladins (and probably other Holy Warriors) should really be Prestige Classes, like Hellknights. D&D 3.5 Unearthed Arcana actually offered a Prestige Paladin, as well as a Prestige Ranger and Prestige Bard, although I think Prestige Paladin was much more important than the other 2; note that these were all 15 Level Prestige Classes. You wouldn't want to trust just anyone with the powers of a non-expendable Holy Warrior -- they should have to prove themselves first, as is the case for Hellknights. (The same is true for Inquisitors, by the way, but I do like the Inquisitor mechanical chassis, and wish that something like that had been used to rebuild the Cleric and later on the Warpriest.)


darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Anti-paladins, as written, are cartoon, mustash twirling bad guys.

Now I want to make Snidely Whiplash as an antipaladin.


Voadam wrote:
Mechagamera wrote:
I tend to treat them as being possessed. The demons are spurring them to act CE. The demons could allow the host to act in a nonCE manner, but they rarely do (unless they see a way to fulfill other goals), although a host with enough willpower can resist them, but doing so causes the demons to withhold their power.
Demon possession is a pretty good hook for them and their super powered CE villain theme. Partial possession could also explain the falling aspects, as the demon is the reason for the code's importance. And that could flip for paladins as well with partial celestial possession.

Voadam,

Thank you. I find it supports some interesting roleplaying.

The celestial possession idea makes me think of the Dresden file book, Changes, where Murphy got meat puppeted by Fidelacchius. That makes me like the holy order idea for paladins more (get trained to be infused with celestial essence)--I tend to use the Paksenarrion model (where the paladin is to the cleric what the warlock is to the wizard).


Chew on this:

Does having a code violate the antipaladin code?


Yes, if your main hangup is entire into some kind of agreement/contract.

Chaotic characters may not have any problems entering into any kind of agreement or contract, they just wouldn't necessarily feel bound by said agreement/contract like a lawful character might.

I can see CE characters especially jumping on board if it also comes with significant power.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Does having a code violate the antipaladin code?

No, maintaining a code is not necessarily a lawful act.

Sovereign Court

Perhaps this discussion would be aided if we actually had a few of the codes in front of us. Here are some from Inner Sea Gods:

Lamashtu:
The leaders of Lamashtu’s children are proud of their deformities and rage against civilization. They seek to tear the blinders from the eyes of the world and show them the nightmare of nature, the writhing and endlessly fecund truth. Their code is one of bloodshed and howling madness.
Its tenets include the following adages.
• All things are monstrous, and only the weak hide their marks. I show the world as it is.
• I will bring the outcasts in from the cold and teach them the taste of victory.
• I fill the wombs. I birth the children. I teach our enemies why they fear the night.
• I bring madness to the cities, that in their blood and fear they may understand the chaos of the world.
• I will spread the Mother’s seed. If the blind cannot be taught to see, their children can.

Norgorber
Antipaladins who serve Norgorber are secretive and cunning. They prefer to strike from the shadows, even when the odds are already in their favor. They rely on traps, tricks, ambushes, and poison to weaken their foes. Their code reflects a cold and honest assessment of the human condition, and its tenets include the following adages.
• Innocence is ignorance, and ignorance is weakness. I will seek to shed my own ignorance, and encourage ignorance in my enemies.
• I do not take credit, nor do I accept blame. I work always in the shadows.
• A fair fight is not worth fighting. I will take every advantage I can. No tool is beneath me.
• Cold eyes, cold heart. My enemies can expect no mercy from me.
• Everyone is expendable, and I will sacrifice them all as necessary.
• Each life I take shapes the future to my lord’s desires.

Urgathoa
The antipaladins of Urgathoa are creatures of the night, plague-bearers and bringers of death. They seek to spread Urgathoa’s gifts by the sword and by emulating their goddess. Their tenets include the following affirmations.
• The grave opens to us all. We hasten the living on their inevitable path.
• The deathless are the true expression of existence, for they are beyond life and death. I will emulate their ways and destroy those who would defile their timeless perfection.
• I have no duty but to my hunger and my goddess.
• Existence is hunger. Both life and death feed on life. I am an instrument of transition.

Are these codes lawful or chaotic?


I have never liked the anti-paladin concept. I think you can have plenty of villains that are more interesting than just being a twisted mirror of the Paladin, and they could be 'anti-Paladin' without having a special class.

Paladins are something special the forces of Law and Good create in order to inspire lawfulness and goodness. While Chaos and Evil might also want champions, they would probably do it in a different way, not simply just reverse everything.

That said, I strongly disagree with those who say having a code = lawful. While it is indeed important for lawful characters to have a code of behavior that is by itself not sufficient. The content of the code also matters. If your code is 'I swear I will do whatever I want' then you can follow your code perfectly, and not be lawful at all.

Lawful includes structure, consistency, honor, fairness, and similar concepts. It is a dedication to creation rather than destruction. It is a profound belief in the values of teamwork and the qualities that allow teamwork to occur. It is not just having a code.


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It's very simple: followers of Chaotic gods have a duty to violate the code of their god in order to demonstrate their loyalty to chaos through disloyalty. Those who don't do this are being insufficiently rigorous in their following of the chaotic code, which, fortunately, demonstrates their chaotic nature, which means they're being loyal after all, which means that they're not.


Dave Justus wrote:

I have never liked the anti-paladin concept. I think you can have plenty of villains that are more interesting than just being a twisted mirror of the Paladin, and they could be 'anti-Paladin' without having a special class.

Paladins are something special the forces of Law and Good create in order to inspire lawfulness and goodness. While Chaos and Evil might also want champions, they would probably do it in a different way, not simply just reverse everything.

That said, I strongly disagree with those who say having a code = lawful. While it is indeed important for lawful characters to have a code of behavior that is by itself not sufficient. The content of the code also matters. If your code is 'I swear I will do whatever I want' then you can follow your code perfectly, and not be lawful at all.

Lawful includes structure, consistency, honor, fairness, and similar concepts. It is a dedication to creation rather than destruction. It is a profound belief in the values of teamwork and the qualities that allow teamwork to occur. It is not just having a code.

Wrong perception, the point is the paladin is a target that chaotic and evil forces want to twist and forcibly fall to become an antipaladin. They wouldn't begin with an unaligned person to build into an antipaladin. Antipaladins exist because of the paladin, not despite them.


Illeist wrote:
Are these codes lawful or chaotic?

Norgorber's might, since it has a very professional air to it. But that is somewhat to be expected since he is NE, and thus has both LE and CE followers.

The rest are just 'eat, drink, and be merry with with the wives and daughters of your enemies' kind of style.


See? This is why the alignment system was a bad idea!


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I don't see.

Shadow Lodge

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Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
See? This is why the alignment system was a bad idea!

Been saying this for years.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I, personally, think the warpriest should have obsoleted the paladin and the antipaladin. You should be able to be a fervent martial servant to any deity, and gain paladin like powers that are tied to that deities domains. It's wrong that only LG or CE get those types of options.

Sovereign Court

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Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
See? This is why the alignment system was a bad idea!

I see you sowing chaos on the forums, Finland. Stop it right now! Go back to your home!


Illeist wrote:
Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
See? This is why the alignment system was a bad idea!
I see you sowing chaos on the forums, Finland. Stop it right now! Go back to your home!

Yeah, otherwise you won't be qualified to be a paladin anymore.

I mean, you are going to have to do so much paperwork to make up for that comment already. Don't dig yourself deeper.


CraziFuzzy wrote:
I, personally, think the warpriest should have obsoleted the paladin and the antipaladin. You should be able to be a fervent martial servant to any deity, and gain paladin like powers that are tied to that deities domains. It's wrong that only LG or CE get those types of options.

Yes, unfortunately the Warpriest, while not entirely without virtue, seems like a rather impaired attempt to do this. Has impaired warrior abilities (d8 and 3/4 BAB) until you add special class abilities (which eats up part of the advantage of having those abilities in the first place), and impaired spellcasting (6/9 progression in the Cleric spell list with no early entry spells, instead of having a shorter but tailored spell list like the Inquisitor or Paladin/Antipaladin).


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Thelemic_Noun wrote:

Chew on this:

Does having a code violate the antipaladin code?

And in this case...dare I say it...does the Antipaladin fall?


justaworm wrote:

Yes, if your main hangup is entire into some kind of agreement/contract.

Chaotic characters may not have any problems entering into any kind of agreement or contract, they just wouldn't necessarily feel bound by said agreement/contract like a lawful character might.

I can see CE characters especially jumping on board if it also comes with significant power.

Oh yes, Chaotic Evil characters will happily make agreements and sign pacts. Just don't expect them to actually follow through on their end of the bargain if they have any choice in the matter.


The problem with the anti-paladin is twofold. One: the name is silly. In my campaign there is no official name for anti-paladins. It's a general term used by scholars, but if you asked one what they were it would be different for each one of them.

Second: people have obnoxiously narrow views on alignment. People view them as a restriction and not inspiration for behavior and motivations for their characters. Thus paladins are "lawful stupid" and anti-paladins are "chaotic morons". Why limit yourselves in such a way? If you embrace the challenge an alignment provides you'll find it's not the alignment system that's flawed, just your view of it.

Also in my campaign I treat the champion classes as such, paladin for LG, avengers for CG, tyrant knights for LE and anti-paladin (or whatever each one calls itself) at CE. There is no true neutral champion as of yet, but maybe someday if things get out of balence in the game.

The anti-paladin makes no sence unless you want it to.


With batman being (in various generations) the idea of "That's what a Paladin should be!" then the idea that the Anti-Paladin, a creature of chaos and crazy, would be Joker, and then people sorta go, "I don't want my Anti-Paladin to be Joker!"


Losobal wrote:
With batman being (in various generations) the idea of "That's what a Paladin should be!" then the idea that the Anti-Paladin, a creature of chaos and crazy, would be Joker, and then people sorta go, "I don't want my Anti-Paladin to be Joker!"

Lol. I was just thinking about how Batman should be a ninja/paladin and Joker should be an anti-paladin/bard.

Liberty's Edge

I prefer the name from 3.5 myself. Blackguard. Sounds cooler and has a better ring to it.


As a counterpoint, I will reiterate this line that has helped me grasp the alignment system much better.

Alignment is the RESULT of your actions, not the CAUSE of your actions.

Paladins retain their powers as long as they perform actions dedicated to order and goodness. Antipaladins retain their powers as long as they perform actions dedicated to chaos and evil.

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