The "Paladin in Name Only"


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Sovereign Court

TriOmegaZero wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
My Paladin would not like it at all.
Your paladin wouldn't have any way to disprove them, according to the rules. You'd have to add some houserule that could definitively identify their class.

Assuming that being a Paladin is seen as an in-world profession, all he'd need is a jacked up Sense Motive to know that the fake paladin was lying.

Really though - this whole argument is moot. It's really just a part of the world-building, and a relatively minor one unless there is someone in the party who is either a Paladin or a 'Paladin'.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Unless said paladin doesn't know he doesn't actually have paladin levels. Sense Motive won't tell you jack then.


LuniasM wrote:
How would anyone tell the difference between a Paladin and a Warpriest with the Champion of the Faith archetype?

Hand him a holy avenger and see if it will overcome DR/Silver

Sovereign Court

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Unless said paladin doesn't know he doesn't actually have paladin levels. Sense Motive won't tell you jack then.

Actually - that's exactly when it'd work.

If someone says "I'm a Paladin" when it's a lie, a successful Sense Motive will tell you that they're not a Paladin at all.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
If someone says "I'm a Paladin" when it's a lie, a successful Sense Motive will tell you that they're not a Paladin at all.

You have to know you're lying for it to be a lie. Otherwise you aren't trying to deceive them.

Sovereign Court

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
If someone says "I'm a Paladin" when it's a lie, a successful Sense Motive will tell you that they're not a Paladin at all.
You have to know you're lying for it to be a lie. Otherwise you aren't trying to deceive them.

That's why I said above "Assuming that being a Paladin is seen as an in-world profession". If being a Paladin isn't a profession linked to the class, then it won't work.

Silver Crusade

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Qaianna wrote:
Fromper wrote:


Heh. Just for fun, see if you can guess the character classes based on how I introduce these characters. Some are easy, others not so much.

1. "My name is Misaki. I'm a warrior these days, I guess." (Duh)
2. "I'm Sister Isabella, priestess of Sarenrae."
3. "My name is Celia, priestess of Gozreh."
4. "I am Qassir, dervish swordsman from Qadira." (said in a vaguely faux-Arabian accent)
5. "My... name... is... Varg. ... Please... ac-cept... this... rose... from... the... church... of... She-lyn." *hands out small, hand crafted wood carvings of roses*
6. "My name is Boon Sai Hong, and I am the greatest quarterstaff master in all of Golarion!" A monkey jumps on to Boon's shoulder and hits him on the back of the head. "Hey! Stop that! ... And this furball is Po Po. He helps... supposedly."
7. "I'm Green Beard the Pirate, because what else would you call a half-orc pirate?"
8. "My name is Erevel Heldanlissil, archer extraordinaire. We elves know how to shoot bows properly, unlike you... lower races, so pay attention, and you might learn something."

Hint: That last one is for the Core campaign, so he was created using only the Core Rulebook, Pathfinder Society Guide to Organized Play, and online traits document.

..they're monks. They're ALL monks. Even Misaki because you can't fool me she's a monk you're just lying to us. (And now I ponder MAKING all of these people as a monk!) And I like the point made here -- assuming all of these people are honest (#7 has a reason to not be, of course), just about anything's possible.

(And now I want to build all of them as barbarians too.)

Heh. 20 PFS characters, and I don't have a single monk.

And they're all telling the truth about what they do, though #6 and #8 are arrogant and having nothing to back up those brags about their abilities (they're only levels 2 and 1, respectively). That's how I choose to play the dumped charisma on those two PCs.

In case you're curious:

1. Paladin (Chosen One of Shizuru), as mentioned earlier
2. Cleric (easy enough to guess)
3. Sylph Sky Druid (easy to guess druid for anyone who knows Gozreh is a nature deity, which I usually mention as part of the intro)
4. 1 level of bard (Dawnflower Dervish), 4 levels of rogue, 2 levels of halfling opportunist prestige class. This was my attempt at a pure dex based front liner before Unchained and Advanced Class Guide. I've kinda given up on him as not being very effective, or that interesting personality-wise.
5. Warpriest, despite being a pacifist who hands out wooden roses. He trips people with a reach weapon and demands their surrender, because he really doesn't want to hurt them.
6. Druid, believe it or not. Nature's Fang archetype with the Monkey domain. He does two weapon fighting with both ends of a shillelagh.
7. Cleric of Besmara, the pirate goddess. I really don't like to use the word "cleric" when introducing this one, because most people think "healer" when they hear that word. This guy has a wand of Cure Light Wounds, but that's his only available healing, since he channels negative (badly with 7 charisma) and rarely prepares Cure spells.
8. And the least guessable of the bunch, especially when you know he has to be a Core Rulebook class - the archer is actually a wizard. I figured I'd use the elven dex bonus and racial longbow proficiency to give me something different to do at low levels when he doesn't get many spells. So for now, he really is an archer, who happens to have a little magic on the side. Sure, I could have just picked up a wand of Magic Missile like a normal wizard, but why be normal? He does have Point Blank Shot, planning to get Precise Shot at level 3. By level 5+, he'll be casting all the time and rarely use the bow, but those feats will still help with ranged touch spells.


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How the term "paladin" is used in-game depends on the setting of the game.

In general, class names are abstractions: a way to put game mechanics around story elements.

In my interpretation, class names don't necessarily mean anything specific within the game-world. For example, "Wizard" in my world means someone who learned magic through some kind of training (whether that's by enrolling in a college of magic or being an apprentice to an established wizard.) Calling yourself a 'wizard' implies that you're skilled in not just magic, but also other lore, and that you know your way around a library. In my game, a 'wizard' might have levels in wizard, arcanist, magus, or alchemist... or even other classes like investigator or occultist.

"Priest" and "cleric" are interchangible terms that mean someone with ecclesiastical authority in a church. While most priests have levels of cleric, a priest could be just about any character class, including oracle, druid, paladin, adept, ranger, warpriest, bard, expert, aristocrat, etc.

Likewise, the terms "sorcerer" and "witch" are used interchangably to mean someone who was born with "the Gift" of magic... "witch" being the more perjorative term. Sorcerers, witches, oracles, bloodragers, mesmerists, bards, shamans, psychics, adepts... essentially anyone who seems to have magic without formal training. This could include self-taught wizards!

In my game, "Paladin" is a title. There are several orders of paladins, each connected to a formal organization (such as a church or military unit). The title "Paladin" indicates membership in such an order, each with their own chivalric code. In this case, 'paladins' could have levels of paladin, cavalier, inquisitor, fighter, ranger, cleric, aristocrat, warpriest, bard, etc: what matters is membership in the order.

In my game, there are plenty of characters with levels of the paladin class that could not rightly claim the in-game title of "Paladin," and would never even think to do so!

Shadow Lodge

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Fromper wrote:
Heh. 20 PFS characters, and I don't have a single monk.

I have one! He's also a paladin!


Revan wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

Paladins aren't just a class though.

Lore-wise they are special individuals who were called to do it. A person who calls themselves a Paladin when they aren't is doing a disservice.

My Paladin would not like it at all.

A lie is a lie.

Being a Paladin isn't something you do, its something you are.

Whereas many of my Paladins might feel like yours is a little too hung up on feeling unique and special, caring more about titles and appearances than just Doing The Right Thing.

Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good. Lying about what you are, claiming to be something you aren't, is a big deal.


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HWalsh wrote:
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good. Lying about what you are, claiming to be something you aren't, is a big deal.

Who says he's lying? A fighter (or cavalier or ranger or rogue or warpriest) who feels they're called to the cause by a higher power would probably be perfectly justified in believing they fit the moniker (and therefore call themselves) a paladin, regardless of class levels and you'd be hard pressed to really make your point unless you're playing in a particularly abstract setting where class levels physically exist and people can somehow find that out about each other.

Shadow Lodge

HWalsh wrote:
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good.

"Let's get this out in the open: Law and Chaos do not have any meaning under the standard D&D rules."


For those saying:

"Classes don't exist! Nobody knows!"

In Golarion, at least, you are wrong, at least with regards to Paladins.

From Paladin:
Through a select, worthy few shines the power of the divine.

From Chosen One:
Most paladins train for years at a temple to attain a holy status, but rarely, an emissary of the divine appears to one of humble origins and calls her directly to the charge.

-----

Both of these indicate a formalization. In the second example an emissary appears and straight up tells them.

"You are a Paladin."


TOZ wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good.
"Let's get this out in the open: Law and Chaos do not have any meaning under the standard D&D rules."

And yet they very clearly do. Regardless of what some random person posted on a low quality 3.5 homebrew website. Sometimes the characters who espouse one alignment are poorly written, but that's a different story.

HWalsh wrote:


"Classes don't exist! Nobody knows!"

In Golarion, at least, you are wrong, at least with regards to Paladins.

Nothing you describe really contradicts the point, though. There's no paladin membership card. So there's no way for Sir Elitist McStuckuppants to run around screaming "you aren't a real paladin" anyways. Unless he's only talking about those who received formal training, in which case even some paladins aren't paladins anymore.

And that still doesn't change that a fighter (or cavalier or ranger or warpriest or cleric or wizard or whatever) who has been called to a higher cause or believes they have been and goes around upholding the virtues of law and good and following the code can call themselves a paladin without lying.

Nor does it change that someone can refluff and play the paladin archetype with another class because they prefer warpriests (or whatever).


I tend to agree with Revan on this: what the so-called liar does is far more important than his claim. If he is not misusing the title "paladin" in order to gain some reward that he doesn't deserve, he can call himself whatever he feels appropriate if he is furthering the cause of Good.

Unless a particular character has some insight into a divine Power's plan, you have no idea if that person is representing paladinhood in a way that isn't like yours. You are free to question your or their God if you desire; they may tell you to buzz off and mind your own business, however.

Now if they are misrepresenting paladins and doing ill, then by all means follow up. But don't be too quick to judge least you be judged and found wanting. Perhaps they have been sent as a parable or sign of your own worthiness or even failing -- look, a simple commoner without your class skills is doing Good while you worry about what they call themselves.

Shadow Lodge

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swoosh wrote:
And yet they very clearly do. Regardless of what some random person posted on a low quality 3.5 homebrew website.

Prove it then. Since you're a random person on a low quality 3.5 homebrew website, you should be perfectly qualified.


swoosh wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good. Lying about what you are, claiming to be something you aren't, is a big deal.

Who says he's lying? A fighter (or cavalier or ranger or rogue or warpriest) who feels they're called to the cause by a higher power would probably be perfectly justified in believing they fit the moniker (and therefore call themselves) a paladin, regardless of class levels and you'd be hard pressed to really make your point unless you're playing in a particularly abstract setting where class levels physically exist and people can somehow find that out about each other.

I can name a good number of ways to prove someone is, or is not, a Paladin in-universe.

If the "Paladin" in question can Lay on Hands:

Hand them a Bracer of Celestial Intervention, if they can activate it, they're a Paladin. Any other class? Nope.

The powers of a Mantle of a Crusader host change if the wearer is a Paladin.

Does wearing a Silver Smite bracelet do anything?

There is, of course, the Holy Avenger test.

If they are a spellcaster then give them a wand of knight's calling. Only a Paladin can use one. (Or someone actively fooling it with UMD)

There is also the Aura of good test.

-----

So, you're a Fighter or Cavalier - You are missing the Aura of good, or its much weaker than it should be.

This limits the number of classes that can fake it alone.


People get really worked up over trying to pigeonhole classes into stereotypes. I've been told, point-blank, that any character with "Ninja" as the class is required to wear black pajamas, or the player is obviously being disruptive!

Personally, I don't get it. The only ninja-in-black pajama character I ever played used the Sorcerer class, so what do I know?

My favorite holy warrior with a fancy steed was a Barbarian, for that matter. His rage was re-flavored as a divinely-granted ability to better smite evildoers. His rage powers were divine gifts that I pretended were dependent on his adhering to his code.


knightnday wrote:
Perhaps they have been sent as a parable or sign of your own worthiness or even failing -- look, a simple commoner without your class skills is doing Good while you worry about what they call themselves.

The same reason a Doctor would get upset someone who isn't a Doctor claiming to be a Doctor would.

A non-paladin claiming to be a Paladin hurts Paladins and makes their job much harder.

Paladins get by on their reputations. The fact that Paladins are known for certain things... Most importantly not lying... Grants them benefits. When non-paladin run around lying about it, it, overall hurts Paladins.


HWalsh wrote:
knightnday wrote:
Perhaps they have been sent as a parable or sign of your own worthiness or even failing -- look, a simple commoner without your class skills is doing Good while you worry about what they call themselves.

The same reason a Doctor would get upset someone who isn't a Doctor claiming to be a Doctor would.

A non-paladin claiming to be a Paladin hurts Paladins and makes their job much harder.

Paladins get by on their reputations. The fact that Paladins are known for certain things... Most importantly not lying... Grants them benefits. When non-paladin run around lying about it, it, overall hurts Paladins.

Hogwash.

So someone who claims that they are a divine warrior for a God, never lies, does good, upholds the same code and otherwise acts in a manner of a paladin, calls himself a paladin is somehow damaging the reputation of paladins? I think not.

Whatever works for your games, I suppose.


Is a Lawful Good Fighter born into a barbarian tribe allowed to describe himself as a barbarian?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Clearly not.


Well it not like he capitalized it! ;P

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Proper punctuation is forbidden to all barbarians.

Sovereign Court

Kirth Gersen wrote:
People get really worked up over trying to pigeonhole classes into stereotypes. I've been told, point-blank, that any character with "Ninja" as the class is required to wear black pajamas, or the player is obviously being disruptive!

Lol - historical ninjas didn't wear black pajamas. That myth comes from kabuki theater. (Basically - to represent someone being assassinated, one of the stage-hands would draw a blade and kill them. And - like all stage-hands who are on stage during a performance, they were all in black so as to be unobtrusive to the performance.)


And historical paladin didn't have the ability to smite evil demons or use lay on hands to heal people...so I'm not sure what your point is.


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So, I guess the bottom line here is: "Ask your GM!"

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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If a character decides his special abilities are miracles granted by his deity, and obeys the paladin code, and wants to call himself a paladin, I as a GM would be totally ok with that no matter what class was written on the character sheet.

I mean, one could easily play a LG warpriest, inquisitor, or cleric who follows the paladin code and firmly believes that their deity, in his/her infinite wisdom, has granted them "alternate" holy powers in the battle for good and justice. That character would not be "lying" about being a paladin, in the social sense.

But I'm even saying that one could, for example, play a LG rogue who believes that it is their faith that allows them to spot traps, evade fireballs, and find their enemies' weak spots. Really, choosing to play the paladin code is the player taking an extra roleplaying restriction on their character - and to me, if you follow the code, you should get to claim the title.


Haladir wrote:
So, I guess the bottom line here is: "Ask your GM!"

Words to live by on most of these topics.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Unless said paladin doesn't know he doesn't actually have paladin levels. Sense Motive won't tell you jack then.

Actually - that's exactly when it'd work.

If someone says "I'm a Paladin" when it's a lie, a successful Sense Motive will tell you that they're not a Paladin at all.

So, question that no one has definitively answered yet.

Is there a profession in Golarion officially recognized as being a paladin? Is that specific word something you can use to call on a certain individual with a certain skill set in-game?

There's been a lot of back and forth regarding "if" and "maybe", but the going assumption that I wrote the piece in the original post under is that paladin is not a job. Paladin is the name of a class, not something anyone in the game world will use as a title to refer to someone. So, someone is not going to identify himself as being a paladin by trade. That person is simply going to act in accordance with the kind of oaths that those with levels in this class have to keep, and to comport him or herself in ways that would fulfill the archetype.

The assumption that someone would come up to this warrior and asking "Are you a paladin, yes or no?" is the most meta-game event that could possibly happen. Next to, of course, someone declaring themselves openly to be a paladin, which is both arrogant, and a little non-sensical. No one would ask "Are you a paladin?" anymore than someone would come up to the half-orc bruiser who just won a bar brawl thanks to his sneak attack and ask "Are you a rogue?"

Now, people will ask questions to try and ascertain if the person they're looking at is the kind of legendary warrior chosen by the forces of good who often features in myths and stories. If you ask, "Did Iomedae stand with you?" or "Are you a warrior of the faith?" then the answer may well be yes. Mechanically, the character did it with feats and good strategy. Story-wise, the character may well believe that his patron guided his blade, and led him to take on this current quest.

The point is not to out-and-out state that you have class levels that you don't, because they're an abstraction. The point is to do the job of a paladin, without taking levels of the paladin class.


We might as well ask if a 5th level commoner (as described by a subset of rules labeled commoner) could call herself a fighter, as described by her in-game profession. To my mind the answer is 'yes.'

Would she be lying? My answer would be 'no', because for me what determines what she can truthfully call herself in the game is what she does in the game, not the word in the rulebook that delimits her game-mechanical ruleset.

Kirth used ninja as a similarly treated class label. I would submit that samurai often has the same problem. The rule subset labeled 'samurai' works pretty well for a western style knight in shining armor. Would anyone gainsay calling such a character a 'cavalier' in game?

Or suppose that I want to play a wizard who is a minor scion of a noble family? In-game can he call himself a noble even if he doesn't have a single level defined in the rule subset labeled 'noble?'


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Neal Litherland wrote:

Is there a profession in Golarion officially recognized as being a paladin? Is that specific word something you can use to call on a certain individual with a certain skill set in-game?

The term is indeed used in Golarion, and is quite well known. Evidence of this is that it is one of the harrow cards.

I don't recall any specifics, but I am sure there are examples of people who are Paladins but don't claim to be (either not realizing what they really are or preferring to use some other title.) I doubt there are any published examples of a non-deceitful person believing and making the claim that they were a Paladin when in fact they were not. That would require a very weird background, probably involving someone deceiving our non-Paladin into thinking that they were one, and there is no real obvious motivation for someone wanting to do that.

As for measurable differences in the game world there are a few. I've mentioned the Holy Avenger. There are also Paladin-only spells. It would be possible in game to devise tests to determine Paladin-hood based on the rules, although arch-types do make the task more complex.

To an extent, all the 'rules' of a system have to be understandable by the characters modeled in the system. They might not know 'level' or 'hit points' but they can understand that magic ability increases and some people can cast spells that others can't. They understand that this would can be taken care of by cure light wounts, while that one really needs a cure serious. Players see the numbers, characters see a lot more subtle cues, but the end result is similar, since understanding these differences is necessary to navigate the world. The same can be said for classes, since while their are similarities, there are also real differences. In most cases the specifics probably don't matter, and indeed they don't worry about it, but if needed it is possible to determine the differences because of the unique properties that each has.

Silver Crusade

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This seems appropriate.


HWalsh wrote:
Revan wrote:
HWalsh wrote:

Paladins aren't just a class though.

Lore-wise they are special individuals who were called to do it. A person who calls themselves a Paladin when they aren't is doing a disservice.

My Paladin would not like it at all.

A lie is a lie.

Being a Paladin isn't something you do, its something you are.

Whereas many of my Paladins might feel like yours is a little too hung up on feeling unique and special, caring more about titles and appearances than just Doing The Right Thing.
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good. Lying about what you are, claiming to be something you aren't, is a big deal.

Except that "paladins" of different alignments have been around a long time in many editions. So someone who's good but not necessarily lawful yet follows a code, gets their power from their sense of purpose or a deity and can do paladin-ish things is, from a setting perspective, a Paladin.


HWalsh wrote:
swoosh wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
Paladins are LAWFUL as well as Good. Lying about what you are, claiming to be something you aren't, is a big deal.

Who says he's lying? A fighter (or cavalier or ranger or rogue or warpriest) who feels they're called to the cause by a higher power would probably be perfectly justified in believing they fit the moniker (and therefore call themselves) a paladin, regardless of class levels and you'd be hard pressed to really make your point unless you're playing in a particularly abstract setting where class levels physically exist and people can somehow find that out about each other.

I can name a good number of ways to prove someone is, or is not, a Paladin in-universe.

If the "Paladin" in question can Lay on Hands:

Hand them a Bracer of Celestial Intervention, if they can activate it, they're a Paladin. Any other class? Nope.

The powers of a Mantle of a Crusader host change if the wearer is a Paladin.

Does wearing a Silver Smite bracelet do anything?

There is, of course, the Holy Avenger test.

If they are a spellcaster then give them a wand of knight's calling. Only a Paladin can use one. (Or someone actively fooling it with UMD)

There is also the Aura of good test.

-----

So, you're a Fighter or Cavalier - You are missing the Aura of good, or its much weaker than it should be.

This limits the number of classes that can fake it alone.

Looking at the list, I am thinking the DC knowledge check to know any of that is at least in the upper 20's for most of it. If it is the upper 20's, then most people the fighter encounters (not to mention the fighter him/herself) probably don't know it. Most of the items you mention are unlikely to be found anywhere outside of paladin central, so even if anyone made the check, no items=no test.


therealthom wrote:

We might as well ask if a 5th level commoner (as described by a subset of rules labeled commoner) could call herself a fighter, as described by her in-game profession. To my mind the answer is 'yes.'

Yeah, I'm wondering about that. Certainly a 5th level aristocrat would call herself that (and say "no" to the question of whether or not she's a commoner, if she weren't outright offended by the question).

Historically speaking, "bard" is another one that people would self-identify as, and you could get in a lot of trouble claiming to be a "bard" if you weren't. It's only with the decline of the bardic tradition that we see it applied to any minstrel. "Druid" was a specific order of religious and you were formally incardinated or you weren't, but it wasn't something you just claimed.

Ditto "cleric." "Cleric" had a special meaning in Europe, in that you were only subject to canon law, not the local law; if you were dragged before a magistrate, you could claim "benefit of clergy" and be released (usually with a stiff note to your Bishop, but no more). And, of course, it was only available to "clerics," which in turn meant a specific ceremony. And, of course, falsely claiming to be a "chevalier" (cavalier) could get you hanged for your presumption; that was an honor to be inherited or granted by the King.

I don't think there's any actual rules about which of the classes have an associated social ceremony in Golarion, but I certainly have no problem believing that some of them would.


I suppose the "Carry around a holy avenger and give it to anyone who says they're a paladin" works, though it's a bit absurd and gamey. It still doesn't really do much for the position though.

TOZ wrote:
swoosh wrote:
And yet they very clearly do. Regardless of what some random person posted on a low quality 3.5 homebrew website.
Prove it then. Since you're a random person on a low quality 3.5 homebrew website, you should be perfectly qualified.

There's nothing to really prove though. Law and chaos have explicitly written definitions in the books. If you want to ignore them, more power to you, but pretending they aren't real is just odd.

The argument is just a bit... bizarre. Somehow because a character can possess both lawful and chaotic traits simultaneously means the alignments aren't real? That's like saying good and evil can't exist because a character can perform both evil and good acts within a certain coherent moral code.

That's just called nuanced character design.

Silver Crusade

swoosh wrote:

There's nothing to really prove though. Law and chaos have explicitly written definitions in the books. If you want to ignore them, more power to you, but pretending they aren't real is just odd.

The argument is just a bit... bizarre. Somehow because a character can possess both lawful and chaotic traits simultaneously means the alignments aren't real? That's like saying good and evil can't exist because a character can perform both evil and good acts within a certain coherent moral code.

That's just called nuanced character design.

Also, there's magic that works only for law or chaos, such as Detect Law and Detect Chaos spells. That's pretty codified in the rules, so you can't just ignore it.

Shadow Lodge

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HWalsh wrote:
I can name a good number of ways to prove someone is, or is not, a Paladin in-universe...

It is not always practical to test paladin status using magic items that the average person is not likely to carry around. Aside from the wand, the cheapest is 16,000gp. And the wand as you noted can be fooled by UMD.

As previously pointed out, archetypes that trade out class features can make individual tests inconclusive. Is the "paladin" unable to use the Bracer of Celestial Intervention because they're actually a cavalier, or because they're a Holy Tactician? And if they can't activate the wand, does that just mean they're a Tempered or Temple Champion?

Auras can be useful, but even if you're not dealing with an aura from a non-paladin class - or one that's just plain faked - they depend on you knowing roughly how strong a person is in order to determine whether their aura is stronger or weaker than you expect it to be.

So while you probably could identify someone as a paladin or not, it would take some effort to do so conclusively, and probably some very specialized knowledge. The average person isn't likely to know what a Silver Smite Bracelet or Wand of Knight's Calling is, any more than they are likely to own one.

Which brings us to the question of whether someone would care enough to go to all that effort, and that goes back to the role of paladins in the setting.

Now, there is one thing in the base rules that does suggest that the paladin class would be a little more relevant in-game than most other classes: the code, and the consequences for breaking it. While other classes may swear to abide by the same code, and may even believe that their abilities depend on them following that code, they will not actually lose their abilities by breaking it. Even divine classes that can fall can get away with things a paladin can't.

So whether people should recognize a difference between any other LG holy warrior who acts as a paladin does, and a member of the paladin class, depends on whether it is important that a particular holy warrior should suffer immediate divine consequences for failing to obey the particular restrictions of the paladin's code.

And that depends on whether the trust that people place in "paladins" who don't end up being trustworthy is damaging enough to make it worth it for specially trained and equipped individuals to actually check whether any given holy warrior is a member of the paladin class, keeping in mind that they're dealing with well-intentioned warpriests in addition to skilled charlatans. The alternative being handling reputation within specific organizations such that you know any of the Knights of Iomedae - regardless of class - will behave in such-and-such a manner or else face various consequences from that organization.

And I think that would depend on setting-specific factors such as the number of paladins, the type and number of not-paladins, how relevant organizations are set up, and how the paladin's code interacts with deity or organization-specific codes, which can make it a little more complicated for paladins in general to get a reputation separate from their organizations.


HWalsh wrote:

Paladins aren't just a class though.

Lore-wise they are special individuals who were called to do it. A person who calls themselves a Paladin when they aren't is doing a disservice.

My Paladin would not like it at all.

A lie is a lie.

Being a Paladin isn't something you do, its something you are.

How do characters in your games know the difference between the paladin class and the Champion of the Faith Warpriest class without metagaming? Nobody in-universe has the power to look at your character sheet and see what class you are, so if you can't determine who's a Paladin by the title on your sheet, then what qualifications are needed? Keep in mind that many paladins don't share all their class features since archetypes exist.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
swoosh wrote:
There's nothing to really prove though. Law and chaos have explicitly written definitions in the books. If you want to ignore them, more power to you, but pretending they aren't real is just odd.

No one said they don't exist. They said they are meaningless.


The point isn't really whether any specific test is practical. The point is that if such a test does exist, (the Holy Avenger is the clearest, since it doesn't rely on anything else but being a Paladin) then there is some real measurable quality that is 'Palidinhood' that is gained if you have levels in the class Paladin.

So being a Paladin is objectively true or false not only as an abstraction from outside the system (what we see has players) but also from within the system from the point of view of the characters. Someone is a Paladin or they are not.


Dave Justus wrote:

The point isn't really whether any specific test is practical. The point is that if such a test does exist, (the Holy Avenger is the clearest, since it doesn't rely on anything else but being a Paladin) then there is some real measurable quality that is 'Palidinhood' that is gained if you have levels in the class Paladin.

So being a Paladin is objectively true or false not only as an abstraction from outside the system (what we see has players) but also from within the system from the point of view of the characters. Someone is a Paladin or they are not.

I think there's a misunderstanding here.

So many of the posts seem to be geared toward this situation:

"Fighter/cavalier/warpriest/whatever non-paladin class goes around being lawful good, and actively claiming, specifically, to be a paladin."

Which isn't the situation that's been laid out. While that is possible, and I'm certain a lot of us have done it, the suggested course of action was more:

"Non-paladin class aspires to be a paladin, and thus acts in the same ways as those characters would in order to become the kinds of heroes they are. Character does not pretend to any title, and instead refers to him or herself by organization name, rank, or if not part of those things, simply by his or her actual name."

There are in-game ways to test for the official branding of whether or not someone is a paladin. Spells that let you commune with the divine to ask their patrons, or items that react in certain ways. However, as has been mentioned, those items are A) not very common, and B) require a specialized knowledge to know and to use.

The question I'd be more curious about, though, is why would you test a hero? Someone who is a self-professed follower of whatever code (chivalry, bushido, whatever we want to call a particular variation), and who is actively doing their best to be a noble hero seems like someone who would be contributing to the game. Why would someone make a big deal out of determining whether or not they do or don't have levels of the paladin class?

Unless, of course, the whole point of the test is to see if they could be inducted into a certain order, or actually be given the divine seal of approval, but that feels more like a completion of a character arc. I don't get the feel from a lot of the back and forth that someone actually earning and achieving a character goal is the point of testing as it's being laid out.


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Weirdo wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
I can name a good number of ways to prove someone is, or is not, a Paladin in-universe...

It is not always practical to test paladin status using magic items that the average person is not likely to carry around. Aside from the wand, the cheapest is 16,000gp. And the wand as you noted can be fooled by UMD.

As previously pointed out, archetypes that trade out class features can make individual tests inconclusive. Is the "paladin" unable to use the Bracer of Celestial Intervention because they're actually a cavalier, or because they're a Holy Tactician? And if they can't activate the wand, does that just mean they're a Tempered or Temple Champion?

Auras can be useful, but even if you're not dealing with an aura from a non-paladin class - or one that's just plain faked - they depend on you knowing roughly how strong a person is in order to determine whether their aura is stronger or weaker than you expect it to be.

So while you probably could identify someone as a paladin or not, it would take some effort to do so conclusively, and probably some very specialized knowledge. The average person isn't likely to know what a Silver Smite Bracelet or Wand of Knight's Calling is, any more than they are likely to own one.

Which brings us to the question of whether someone would care enough to go to all that effort, and that goes back to the role of paladins in the setting.

Now, there is one thing in the base rules that does suggest that the paladin class would be a little more relevant in-game than most other classes: the code, and the consequences for...

If you ask me, following the paladin code means much more for people who aren't paladins. If you aren't a Paladin, keeping the code gives you nothing and you have nothing to lose by breaking it, so the decision to follow it anyway says something about your morals and the strength of your character. That's way more compelling than "I have to follow this code or lose my powers".


Neal Litherland wrote:


I think there's a misunderstanding here.

I don't think it is a misunderstanding so much as a diversion into a corner of the topic where the questions are more debatable and harder to figure out.

I don't think there is any debate that a character can behave as a Paladin would behave without being a Paladin.

I think the question whether 'in universe' classes (some or all) are specific and relatable to in-universe qualities or merely abstract and only something the players, not the characters, can apprehend is an interesting one. 'Paladin' seems to be something that is specific and understandable from within the Pathfinder universe. 'Fighter' most likely isn't.


Dave Justus wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
How would anyone tell the difference between a Paladin and a Warpriest with the Champion of the Faith archetype?
Hand him a holy avenger and see if it will overcome DR/Silver

Oh yeah, we'll just hand him that 120k magic item we were able to afford... Somehow. That still doesn't define what a Paladin is in-game. How does anyone in Golarion know that it only works if you have the Paladin class? They don't know about classes.


Dave Justus wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
how is he not telling God's honest truth when he says he is?

He would have to believe he was a Paladin. Without some special reason to think he was a Paladin he wouldn't think that he was, particularly since he lacks the abilities that lore says a Paladin has. He doesn't have the ability to sense evil or smite the wicked as an example.

About the only way I can see it someone thinking they were a Paladin when they weren't was if someone deceived them or they were insane.

How do you disprove his abilities: Smite is just extra damage. How do you know how much it added to count?

Now if when you smite you glowed with an awesome light, then sure that would be hard to mimic, but otherwise what proof are you using against him.

Do you have an evil man stand by him and ask him to sense him? We know, in game, this can be fooled by being too weak so even that isn't proof. Now if you have another PROVEN paladin then yes.


People keep saying paladins can't lie, yet I see one pretending to be a slave to infiltrate a manor housing a devil. He didn't fall by the way.


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LuniasM wrote:
If you ask me, following the paladin code means much more for people who aren't paladins. If you aren't a Paladin, keeping the code gives you nothing and you have nothing to lose by breaking it, so the decision to follow it anyway says something about your morals and the strength of your character. That's way more compelling than "I have to follow this code or lose my powers".

That's how I see it.

A while ago, someone in another thread related an in-game conversation with a Paladin. Their party had just come out of some manner of harrowing encounter and everyone was tired and injured. However, close by were, IIRC, some slavers capturing some innocents. The party's Paladin, tired and injured as the rest of them, immediately heads off towards the slavers to stop them.

One of his party members asks him something to the effect of "Haven't you done enough for one day?". To which he replies, "Nope. Paladin."

That story was meant to be inspiring and evocative of how the Paladin class is supposed to be seen. Sorry, but it fell short. What would have been inspiring was if it had been a LG Fighter instead, saying "Nope. Lawful good."

A LG Fighter gets exactly diddly zilch for being LG, and he's at risk of losing the same (again, zilch nada) if he decides to stop. A LG Fighter, tired and injured, going after those slavers and saying "Nope. Lawful good." is, IMO, a million times the heroic character any Paladin could ever dream of being.

Silver Crusade

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Tectorman wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
If you ask me, following the paladin code means much more for people who aren't paladins. If you aren't a Paladin, keeping the code gives you nothing and you have nothing to lose by breaking it, so the decision to follow it anyway says something about your morals and the strength of your character. That's way more compelling than "I have to follow this code or lose my powers".

That's how I see it.

...

A LG Fighter gets exactly diddly zilch for being LG, and he's at risk of losing the same (again, zilch nada) if he decides to stop. A LG Fighter, tired and injured, going after those slavers and saying "Nope. Lawful good." is, IMO, a million times the heroic character any Paladin could ever dream of being.

These types of posts bug me. Following a paladin code isn't something paladins do because they're paladins. Rather, being a paladin is what happens to someone when they follow the code.

Some of you are making it sound like paladins follow the code in exchange for powers. As if it's commerce, one thing for another. Like they'd stop if they didn't get those magical abilities. But that's not why they do it.

A paladin is someone who would behave that way even if there was no code. They'd behave that way even if they didn't know what their god expected of them. A paladin is someone whose natural behavior is that paladin code, and the fact that their deity rewards them with the powers to make the job easier is just a bonus.

Just to come back to my own example from earlier in this thread, I have a Chosen One archetype paladin who didn't choose to become a paladin. A talking songbird approached her one day, led her to a rusty katana, and when she picked it up, she magically knew how to use it. The goddess Shizuru granted her paladin powers and an emissary familiar to guide her, because she knew Misaki would use those abilities to fight evil and help people, in the most honorable way possible. That's just who she is. Misaki literally doesn't know the word "paladin", doesn't even know that there is a paladin code, yet follows it anyway. She's a paladin because that's how she behaves, not the other way around.

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