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New Experience as a GM: Does my Paladin Fall?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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The group are all young adventurous friends that have been seeking parts of an artifact around the city and surrounding countryside. the latest thing they have been doing is investigating and defeating an evil cult that is trying to infiltrate the city nobility. To this end they have been successful. At the final moment the paladin alone was facing off against the high priest, who, knowing that his cult was destroyed, and having no recourse left, surrendered.

The paladin struck him down, dead.


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Speaking in extremely general terms, no. Paladins have no obligation to accept surrender nor do they have any obligation to take every Tom, Dick, and Harry alive if they are able.

You'd really only have a problem if a) the paladin accepted his surrender before cutting him down (breaks the code on either the no evil acts or act with honor areas) or death would be considered an extremely disproportional response to the guy's crimes (doubtful considering the whole evil cult thing).


I would say that's up to GM discretion

An evil high priest sounds like someone that could potentially commit some terrible evil if kept alive. So the Paladin serves the greater good.

On the other hand their was a chance maybe? I don't know the high priest, of said priest being redeemed.

Maybe take a look at his god and see what he would do, I suspect Iomadea or Torag would choose the death of their enemy. Sarerea would probably try to redeem him.

Actually yeah f$&$ GM discretion go with what their god would do.


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Was handing the priest over to the authorities for a fair trial a realistic option?


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Ask your player if they should fall. Genuinely, if the player can think of a good and coherent reason that fits within their code and also furthers the goals of good, then I wouldn't have them fall. Sometimes it's good to put the onus on the player to keep them aware of what role they are playing. They are a holy knight of goodness. If they see that as an avenging crusader or bastion of mercy, that's up to them to role play, but they should remain consistent at the very least. If in doubt, the paladin should go seek out spiritual guidance and talk it out with a head cleric of his faith, maybe even ask for an atonement (the spell) if he's really worried. Even if it isn't of his own faith, most good religions will probably happily accept a paladin in need of some guidance.

As for examples of typical paladins in this scenario, using Golarion gods:

If this was a Ragathiel paladin, no, he's totally in the clear because his act of mercy was killing the cultist to save the innocent lives that the cultist would have harmed and the further damage to his own soul through his misguided acts.

If he's a Sarenrae paladin, he should have really considered whether the cultist was worth mercy, but sometimes you have no choice and that is a really tough choice to make, so definitely seek atonement but no fall.

Torag paladins will cut the cultist down straight away if this cult hurt those who Torag protects (dwarves and converts) and the paladin is explicitly not allowed to accept surrender if that is so.

Iomedae paladins are bit more forgiving either way, since this guy would have to be a worthy foe to be even worth that kind of mercy, and the paladin is totally within their rights to just kill someone who is evil if they make the choice and think it will aid the cause of good so long. As they don't make it a habit, mind you.


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Depends on the tenet set by the god.

Personally, I would say that goes against the Lawful aspect of his alignment restrictions. Not a fall, but possibly a good "slippery slope" situation.

If the Paladin accepted the surrender then struck him down, yeah that probably should at least require a talking to the player and ask how they would justify that.

IMO, beings with an evil aura are not redeemable 99% of the time.


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Like the others say, there's a lot of variables now and this is going to be opinion-based, so we can only go by what you've told us. Pathfinder watered-down a lot of what makes a paladin decisively 'good' and 'lawful'. They introduced a lot of mealy-mouthed worming around to let people get away with having 'cool' paladin powers (or just making new classes that have similar powers without restriction) while doing things that even most modern apologists would find shady, like killing a person instead of bringing them to trial or stealing someone's property or denying them a trial 'for the greater good' (they might be found Not-guilty after all or receive a sentence that you don't agree with, like only 20 years hard labor). It all depends on the circumstances now, they've turned into basically a Law and Order episode where everyone tries to quote specific lines, precedents, exceptions, etc.

Assuming we are talking about a normal paladin, who is lawful and good and the Code of Conduct is basically to act honorably and to uphold Law and Good and not trying to slip in some slimy, backdoor deity nonsense where a god says molesting children is okay as long as its Tuesday or murdering helpless foes is okay for their followers so that must mean a paladin can do that too:

What's the basic action that occurred?

Quote:

At the final moment the paladin alone was facing off against the high priest, who, knowing that his cult was destroyed, and having no recourse left, surrendered.

The paladin struck him down, dead.

Long explanation:
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Since:
1. This is all we have to go by, and
2. Without knowledge of mitigating circumstances, and
3. Trusting that you aren't withholding information from us that this slain individual wasn't a demon or devil or other outsider that can be considered 'beyond redemption' (and even then creatures that are 'Always Evil' are just 'Usually evil... probably'.)
Being objective, the basic answer is that you have a person who flat out killed a person who had surrendered.

Is that Lawful? No, definitely not if there was even one legitimate authority that can rule or impose punishment on the individual, be that a king, a city, a sheriff, a magistrate, etc. It has to a be lawfully recognized authority, the gods may be able to punish someone at their whim, but that's not a recognized legal authority for purposes of the realm of men (unless your city actually has a god passing judgement.) Similarly, a bad-guy's mom might be able to ground or punish them, even more harshly than you think needed for the crime, but that's also not a legally-recognized authority.

Since the cult is attempting to infiltrate nobility, we can assume that there is clearly a circle or power structure that has authority that they don't have, so it's very likely from the description that there's a legal system in place and that the cleric is subject to it (otherwise he wouldn't be trying to infiltrate it secretly, he'd just be trying to take it over.) So, that was an unlawful act.

Was the action Good? It's certainly 'Good' in the nature that preventing evil is a considered a good thing (though evil people killing other evil people doesn't necessary promote Good.) Unfortunately for the paladin, whether he knew it or not, the cult was destroyed, it was no longer any threat (otherwise a paladin could just 'imagine' any threat and make it okay to kill, arrest, or otherwise accost someone.) The cleric had no recourse, his only action, as you state, is to ask for mercy and fair treatment. In that moment, when the paladin was given the power over him and the opportunity to act with honor and justice and uphold the law (which should have been an easy choice), the paladin decided that he was more important and his values and opinions were greater and more important than everyone else. This is not Lawful nor is it Good.

Now, we don't know how the victim surrendered, did he have any weapons or items in his hand that might have allowed casting, like components or a holy symbol? Something that might have been construed (and actually was construed) as a threat? If he did, then killing him would have been understandable, but it would still require atonement if it turns out that he had been holding a harmless item (or even if it wasn't harmless but he wasn't planning harm, like if you just gunned down Edward Scissorhands even though it it looked like he had a bunch of knives at the ready.) It would be justifiable, but would require atonement for the mistake. Failure to atone or attempt contrition for mistakes or errors is viewed as a lack of remorse (which is not Good).

So yes, it is a Bad Thing if the paladin killed the surrendering foe. We don't know the specifics, but if that foe had disarmed himself, or knelt or willingly put itself into a position where the paladin would be considered to have an unfair advantage (just like poisoning a foe before an otherwise fair duel or stabbing someone in the ribs and having your Centurions conceal the wound before facing them in combat) then the paladin has problems. This isn't the same as a situation where the foe was disarmed by the paladin or slipped and fell (even then, most honorable people would either let them retrieve their weapon or rise up first.)

Also, if the paladin made no attempt to keep the foe alive (such as striking for non-lethal) after the surrender, then that is murder. Even without striking for non-lethal, you have to hit someone pretty hard to go straight to dead. Even if you did hit the guy with intentions to inflict deadly injury and he went unconscious, if you don't try and stabilize or help them and just watch them die, that's called depraved indifference. That's not Good.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

It's no different than if you have your hands up and are being handcuffed or surrendering and just get shot in the back. It doesn't matter if you had just made someone chase you a block to catch you or if they had to kick in your dungeon/apartment door and head down three flights of stairs into your dungeon/basement, or if they had to beat up 3-5 of your friends to get to you, or that a trial would cost taxpayers money (which could be used for schools or roads or other things for the 'greater good'.) There might be legal ways to get around killing someone because it's more convenient or seems justifiable, but if your paladin is trying to worm his way out of consequences he does not need to be a paladin. That is not how a paladin thinks or works, they are honored to not only embody, but to be held to, higher standards.

Killing someone because it's 'inconvenient' to have to transport them to court is not an answer unless they've already been given permission to slay the individual (typically a Dead or Alive wanted poster from a recognized authority.) Since we are only dealing with someone whose goals just seem to be infiltrating some other group, as opposed to say, murdering everyone in the city... then that's clearly not on the level of imminent threat to life.

Paladin needs to roleplay atonement and work to better themselves, otherwise they should be stripped of the power granted to them. And again, you are going to get a lot of differing opinions especially with only so little specifics. If what I said makes sense to you, based on how the situation played out, then hopefully it helps. If not, maybe someone else reading this will have such a situation themselves later and it will help them. Otherwise... Your Mileage May Vary, as some say.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah, I remember being an evil cleric once (evil campaign). Got caught and brought to trial - the good guys didn't execute me on the spot. They probably should have.

Escaped from prison thanks to my helpful buddies (that cost a few lives, guards and such, but whatever). Then proceeded to continue on my evil ways, doing lots of damage in the process. A LOT of innocent people ended up dying (or worse, becoming undead) because they chose to take me prisoner instead of executing me on the spot.

I think your Paladin did the right thing. If Every. Single. Evil Entity knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would. Paladins can and should be allowed to execute the role of judge, jury and executioner when the situation warrants it. Especially with Evil High Priests. Sending them off to Pharasma for judgement should not be cause for losing their Paladin-hood.


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Dracovers right, a white flag should not be the ultimate tool of evil in the fight against good.


There are practical advantages to the civilized way of doing things.

By killing a priest you (a) might make yourself a target for local law enforcement - are you going to kill the city watch as well, people whose help you might need later on? (b) set a bad example ("Hey, paladins kill people whenever they feel like it, so why shouldn't I?") and (c) lose the chance to get information from him about possible associates, quest hooks, etc.

If you try to apply Dracovar's logic to real life, it would sound pretty... extreme:

"I think the police officer did the right thing, shooting the suspect after he threw down his gun and surrendered. If every single criminal knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would. Police can and should be allowed to execute the role of judge, jury and executioner whenever they feel like the situation warrants it. Sending the bad guys off to God for judgement should not be cause for losing their jobs."

Of course, in a gameworld where bad guys are Evil with a capital E and the law is weak/corrupt, that type of reasoning makes a lot of sense.


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In a game that's primarily about killing evil things and taking their stuff it doesn't make sense that you would be punished for killing evil things and taking their stuff.


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And practical disadvantages, like the ones Dracover discusses about the evil cleric. I'll take baddy not making an army of undead over maybe missing out on some info they may not have.

Police officers don't know for a fact their target is gaining and using magical powers from an evil god and police officers aren't being given magical powers by a good god at war with said evil god.

Those are quite important factors. I don't really see how the real world comparison is relevant.


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Matthew Downie wrote:

There are practical advantages to the civilized way of doing things.

"Snip"

If you try to apply Dracovar's logic to real life, it would sound pretty... extreme:

"I think the police officer did the right thing, shooting the suspect after he threw down his gun and surrendered. "Snip"

Of course, in a gameworld where bad guys are Evil with a capital E and the law is weak/corrupt, that type of reasoning makes a lot of sense.

In this case it would be more like you cornered a serial killer that was notorious for finding a way to get out of any situation given enough time, in this case waiting a day for new spells, and you didn't have any backup to bring him in.


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Nermal2097 wrote:

The group are all young adventurous friends that have been seeking parts of an artifact around the city and surrounding countryside. the latest thing they have been doing is investigating and defeating an evil cult that is trying to infiltrate the city nobility. To this end they have been successful. At the final moment the paladin alone was facing off against the high priest, who, knowing that his cult was destroyed, and having no recourse left, surrendered.

The paladin struck him down, dead.

Short answer: no.

In my experience, paladins don't fall unless they're willing to. Killing is not evil, and choosing to kill the high priest of an evil cult is laughably the worst excuse I've ever heard for a paladin falling, like ever.

If I can say something along the lines of "the paladin gave him a swift and painless death when he surrendered, sparing him the trial and torture he righteously deserved" then is the paladin still evil?

Context matters. The character being played matters. If the paladin was alone facing an evil priest there's no guarantee that a surrender was even genuine, at least that's my mind set would be had I been playing.

Forcing a paladin player to ask whether or not an action will cause him to fall every step of the way is not how to play alignment. As far as the cosmic scale of things go, good can kill evil. I don't think there are any Golarion deities that would intervene with a paladin killing the leader of an evil cult even if the circumstances fall into a questionable grey area.

I would more say the fault is on the DM who had the priest surrender seemingly to trap the paladin into a sadistic choice. Bad DMing should not lead to punishing players who are in an impossible situation.

You can't just have the bad guy say "I'm sorry" or "I surrender" and expect every paladin to all of a sudden become powerless in the face of evil.

Conversely, (and this is a bit of fallacy here) would you be starting the same thread had he not killed him? Is it evil to let him live despite whatever heinous acts he lead as a cult leader?

If the paladin is going to fall either way, or if an internet thread has to ask more questions about the circumstances then as a general rule for paladins you should go with: "If you have to ask if the paladin should fall, then usually (s)he doesn't have to fall."


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Personally, I don't like to make Paladins fall ever, without first giving the Paladin's player an opportunity to justify their actions in character. If the Paladin's player does a bad job of explaining why they believed what they did was right, or at least permissible, then go ahead and make them fall.

But if you're making a Paladin fall as a bolt from the blue, and not as a consequence of a roleplaying sequence, you're doing it wrong IMO.


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Also code literally says to "punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

Paladins divinely empowered to be judge, jury and, executioner. They need not differ to any other authority. Deus vult!


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Dracovers right, a white flag should not be the ultimate tool of evil in the fight against good.

No, the logical outcome to this would be that bad guys (or even good guys caught in misunderstood situations or framed, which happens) never surrender. They would always have to kill their captors because there is no civilized, lawful, and just recourse. They never negotiate for hostages, they kill everyone because there is no chance of them surviving. That is not furthering the cause of good by turning every person who might surrender peacefully (even if they plan to escape) into a rabid, cornered animal with no reason not to just fight to the death.

Firewarrior44 wrote:
Also code literally says to "punish those who harm or threaten innocents."

Possibly. Unfortunately, trying to infiltrate a snooty high-society noble group is not quite a harm and threat to innocents. You are trying to equate being 'evil' which could be anyone selfish enough to mug a person with being deserving of death instead of a trial or fair treatment. You are trying to extrapolate what the cleric's actual crime was, which we cannot do and you are trying to predict that ultimately just because he wants a spy or a friend to be keeping an eye on a group of people that means somehow his ultimate goal is world devastation. It was already clearly stated that his cult was destroyed, he was defeated, and he was at the paladin's mercy. 'Punish those' does not mean butcher or harm without conscience or act like a judge, jury, and executioner in your own right (unless you are empowered as such by the recognized authority of the realm.)


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Pizza Lord wrote:


Firewarrior44 wrote:
Also code literally says to "punish those who harm or threaten innocents."
Possibly. Unfortunately, trying to infiltrate a snooty high-society noble group is not quite a harm and threat to innocents. You are trying to equate being 'evil' which could be anyone selfish enough to mug a person with being deserving of death instead of a trial or fair treatment. You are trying to extrapolate what the cleric's actual crime was, which we cannot do and you are trying to predict that ultimately just because he wants a spy or a friend to be keeping an eye on a group of people that means somehow his ultimate goal is world devastation. It was already clearly stated that his cult was destroyed, he was defeated, and he was at the paladin's mercy. 'Punish those' does not mean butcher or harm without conscience or act like a judge, jury, and executioner in your own right (unless you are empowered as such by the recognized authority of the realm.)

He was explicitly known as an [evil] cult leader....

op wrote:
they have been doing is investigating and defeating an evil cult that is trying to infiltrate the city nobility.

I'm not equating just saying it's within the Paladins authority to exercise judgement and exact punishment which may result in the death of the offender.

I make the bold assumption that an [Evil] high priest of an [Evil] cult probably did a few things that warrant a death sentence apparently the paladin thought so too.

The point is a Paladin is given divine powers to exercise his judgement. A god has literally empowered him to do so.

Now if he is abusing that right by Smiting anything and everything that appears to be doing something evil then he might get into hot water for more or less indiscriminately killing.

Quote:
does not mean butcher or harm without conscience or act like a judge, jury, and executioner in your own right (unless you are empowered as such by the recognized authority of the realm.)

The realm is not the authority that is giving me my magical evil smiting super powers. So by that logic my agency is instead going to be entirely contingent on the explicit consent of an arbitrary figure of authority who's only claim to power over me is my immediate geographical location. And then you can get the issue of a government demanding or requiring you to commit evil acts oh look now I must view them as illegitimate otherwise I lose my powers.

Therefore it MUST be Paladin Code/Deity > All other authority. As it is the code and or Deity that is giving me my powers and authority to dispense justice. As anything else is so mired in subjective caveats that it's untenable.

Paladins wrote:
Knights, crusaders, and law-bringers, paladins seek not just to spread divine justice but to embody the teachings of the virtuous deities they serve.

My powers are granted by my conviction to my deity and faith not to any Government. Therefore I will follow my convictions to uphold what I and my code determines is just.

Also who said anything about butchering? I'm just executing him nothing sadistic.


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Paladin of which deity? Some have codes that explicitly demand you accept surrenders. Some give you no such obligation.

I'd imagine if the code is anything that isn't too clear on accepting surrender, then the palading probably has a little wiggle room. Can get away with something like this once in a while, but shouldn't make a habit of it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

For most paladins (a few variations like Torag's paladins on Golarion), the surrender should have been accepted. That said, I'd also say this counts as more of a venal sin rather than mortal - so have him do some kind of penance for being rash and send him on his way.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It may also matter whether he strikes down the surrendering evil priest on the spot or says something like, "Pick up your weapon. We fight to the death."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Pizza Lord wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Dracovers right, a white flag should not be the ultimate tool of evil in the fight against good.
No, the logical outcome to this would be that bad guys (or even good guys caught in misunderstood situations or framed, which happens) never surrender. They would always have to kill their captors because there is no civilized, lawful, and just recourse. They never negotiate for hostages, they kill everyone because there is no chance of them surviving. That is not furthering the cause of good by turning every person who might surrender peacefully (even if they plan to escape) into a rabid, cornered animal with no reason not to just fight to the death.

Context does matter, as others mention above. Some really, really evil entities likely would and should fight to the death. Can you see Iomedae and her Paladins granting quarter to a surrendering group of demons? I can't. Some gods may require you accept the surrender, others might be happy the surrendering entity sees the error of its ways, and require that it be dispatched to Pharasma before it has a chance to backslide/change it's mind.

Let me put my Evil Cleric hat back on as I meet said Paladin - "Oh god, I surrender! I'm so very, very sorry for my actions and I feel terrible. I want to change, I want to be redeemed, oh please help me leave this path of darkness, oh champion of all that is good and just in the world!"

I, of course, am hoping for a really good Bluff check because if the Paladin isn't smart enough to try a Sense Motive, the second I get the drop on him? He dies. Screaming, hopefully.

And really, in a world with Detect Lies, mind-reading magic, alignment detection and a host of other supernatural ways of investigating crime and evil acts, innocent people should have little to worry about.

Also, if I'm playing a Paladin and all the baddies always go with the surrendering option and I *have* to accept that, that's going to get pretty boring/old, pretty quick.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:

There are practical advantages to the civilized way of doing things.

By killing a priest you (a) might make yourself a target for local law enforcement - are you going to kill the city watch as well, people whose help you might need later on? (b) set a bad example ("Hey, paladins kill people whenever they feel like it, so why shouldn't I?") and (c) lose the chance to get information from him about possible associates, quest hooks, etc.

If you try to apply Dracovar's logic to real life, it would sound pretty... extreme:

"I think the police officer did the right thing, shooting the suspect after he threw down his gun and surrendered. If every single criminal knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would. Police can and should be allowed to execute the role of judge, jury and executioner whenever they feel like the situation warrants it. Sending the bad guys off to God for judgement should not be cause for losing their jobs."

Of course, in a gameworld where bad guys are Evil with a capital E and the law is weak/corrupt, that type of reasoning makes a lot of sense.

You can't really compare a world where the gods are real, the afterlife and outer planes are real, and magic is real - to 'real life' here on good ol' planet Earth.

However, if you want a real world comparison, let's try something a bit different, however, I'll change the era in which we reference the forces of 'law and order'...

"I think the Knight did the right thing, beheading the suspect after he threw down his sword and surrendered. If every single criminal knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would. Knights can and should be allowed to execute the role of judge, jury and executioner whenever they feel like the situation warrants it, for King and Country, don't you know. Sending the bad guys off to God for judgement should not be cause for losing their Knighthood."

Oh, that sounds rather historically apropo...even for the real world. And a bit more like what I'd expect to find in some (not all, mind you!) parts of Golarion...


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Bill Dunn wrote:
For most paladins (a few variations like Torag's paladins on Golarion), the surrender should have been accepted. That said, I'd also say this counts as more of a venal sin rather than mortal - so have him do some kind of penance for being rash and send him on his way.

Paladin code does not, in any way compel me to accept surrender. Your suggested punishment is just as valid as executing him on the spot. Neither is a sin in relation to a Paladins mandate.

Given that he was an evil priest it's doubtful a simple penance could easily be enforced or would guarantee he would not commit any more evil acts. Acts which you would then be responsible for as you did not stop them from happening by killing him.


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The problem is a metagame issue, not a role playing one.

There's a quote floating around on these forums that states that a paladin's powers come from Good and not the deity (I believe it was JJ who said it) and I've been toting the line "The alignment system supersedes the gods" for a really long time.

Honestly, I'm jumping to conclusions in saying that the evil priest was an evil cleric, but in most cases priest and cleric are synonymous in our medium. Had this cleric been of comparable level to the paladin, they would lose their aura and cleric abilities had the surrender been legitimate. Did the cleric fall? If yes then the paladin is at fault and should fall.

But if the surrender is literally there to give the paladin a sadistic choice, then it's textbook bad DMing. The only times sadistic choices work is when you can work in a more character driven narrative for the players to experience. The N prevails more than the G in GNS theory in this case.


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Even if the Cult leader did fall and actually surrender that's still not necessarily grounds for the Paladin to be penalized as the priest still did commit evil acts and it is well within the Paladins purview to exact judgement on him.

There's plenty of nuance that can occur here obviously but in general smiting evil should not result in the loss of the use that class feature with the same name.

Also Looking at paladin there's only 1 instance in the entire class write-up that i can find that indicates that their power is derived from a god and it's in divine bond


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Paladins have to remain good and lawful, but the good is more important than the lawful (they immediately fall if they willingly do evil, but not if they willing do chaos.)

In addition to that, they have to follow the code. Two parts of the code could apply to this situation.

respect legitimate authority
punish those who harm or threaten innocents

Obviously the Paladin managed the second here, but he might have messed up with the first. Your cities rulers were 'being infiltrated' but it sounds like the infiltration was stopped. If the Paladin could expect that the cities authorities would properly punish the bad guy (presumably the crimes committed were worthy of capital punishment, if not then the Paladin might have a different problem) then he should have honored and respected them and turned him over (quite possibly volunteering to assist in guarding the prisoner as well.)

From a lawful perspective supporting and strengthening civic institutions is very important, and a public trial and execution could very much help that, especially in a city that had recently suffered disruptions and corruption in its leadership. The Paladin certainly missed an opportunity to further his ethos.

I wouldn't make a character fall just from this, but I would talk with the player and get their thoughts on why and try to come to an understanding between us of what being a paragon of law and good means.

The flip side of all of this, is not being a jerk GM with captured foes. If you expect Paladins to accept surrender, and then every time they do it turns around and bites them, then all the other players are going to hate the paladin and the paladin player is probably going to hate you. Once in a while the villain escapes thing is ok, but more often then not doing the right thing should be rewarded, not punished. The city might pay a bounty, they might give accolades, the city watch is more likely to be helpful and work with someone who respects and works with them rather than being a vigilante. Obviously this doesn't apply to an evil and corrupt city, but generally speaking that wouldn't be an authority that the paladin considers 'legitimate' so it doesn't particularly apply.


Firewarrior44 wrote:

I'm not equating just saying it's within the Paladins authority to exercise judgement and exact punishment which may result in the death of the offender.

The point is a Paladin is given divine powers to exercise his judgement. A god has literally empowered him to do so.

No, you are confusing a Paladin with an Inquisitor. A paladin upholds morality, justice, and good, they can have a deity, but that takes second place to being a beacon and symbol. An inquisitor upholds his deity's tenets above the laws of the land or even the church. When you read a book and it says to stone to death homosexuals, but the church of your god has determined that it doesn't want people to kill others anymore... it's the inquisitor that feels it's okay to go around killing people. If one of your religions ancient texts says it's okay to keep slaves, but your church has begun getting converts or has been in a nation that doesn't allow slavery, the church hierarchy may have long ago decreed slavery to no longer be tolerated. If you want to go around proclaiming that your deity wants you to enslave others because the ancient book of Sacred antiquity says so, then that doesn't make slavery okay or good, it's just the excuse your character is using to do it. If you want to play your character like an inquisitor, you are not being a paladin, don't be surprised when you are a fallen paladin.

Code of Conduct wrote:
Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority,...
Firewarrior44 wrote:
My powers are granted by my conviction to my deity and faith not to any Government. Therefore I will follow my convictions to uphold what I and my code determines is just.

It doesn't matter who or where you get your powers or even if the paladin receives any powers at all.

The belief you are stating is the exact opposite of respecting legitimate authority. You are actually disrespecting it and putting yourself and your pride and your beliefs above the good and lawful authority of the area. Since there is a council of nobles, we must assume they have authority and it is their place to make judgments and rulings (or the king's or the court's or whomever, since it's clearly not a lawless wasteland.)

Respecting authority:
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It doesn't matter if you believe in god, a sheriff is still allowed to arrest you. He still has every duty and responsibility to fine a paladin for spitting on the sidewalk if that is what he has done and you must respect that authority if it is true and lawful (whether you agree with it or not.) This is not an unlawful or evil law or ordinance, so it's not like someone has passed a law saying you can commit evil and that's okay, but even in a life-or-death situation, where your paladin swallowed poison and started spitting it up, if the sheriff walked by and fined him, he would have to respect that and either pay the fine or take any other legal recourse. He doesn't have to like it, and he can work to change it by working with the community or its leaders and authority.

Taking away their rights and powers, such as by not bringing a criminal to trial (when reasonably possible) or jail because it's inconvenient or because they 'might' spit on a sidewalk again, is a violation of the Code of Conduct and violating the Code of Conduct strips you of your paladin benefits. If you truly feel you made a mistake, you may atone for your actions. It is not hard to do. It is not being mean. It is not being unfair. Being a paladin isn't about being perfect, it's about striving to do the right thing, which is why you can atone for mistakes (not purposeful transgressions where you think you can just cast an atonement, but where you were wrong.) Since a paladin knows that when they make a mistake they can atone and be forgiven, it is almost monstrously egotistical and vain to deny the ability to repent or repay or be forgiven to others. The fact that they committed a crime or a wrong is the whole point... if they didn't... there'd be no need for atonement or forgiveness in the first place.
---------------------------------------------------------

We aren't talking about demons or devils or undead or constructs or other beings which are considered to be soulless (or which are evil souls, which is typically the punishment for evil people) and lacking in conscience. The paladin took away the legitimate authority's right to judge the cleric (maybe trying to sneak someone into the noble society isn't a crime. or maybe being evil isn't a crime, or maybe heading a cult isn't a crime, or maybe worshiping a different god isn't a crime. Maybe it is, of course, we don't know and we don't know if there are any capital level crimes that were committed warranting death.) All we know is that the paladin chose to outright slay a person who was at their mercy and made no apparent attempt to preserve life, provide the victims of the cleric with a chance to receive reparations or closure, and more importantly, the paladin denied a soul a chance to atone. Instead... he just sent it straight to the plane of its alignment (which may be torturous to it, depending) but which will almost certainly only cause the powers of evil to grow.


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There is nothing in the paladin code of conduct that restricts a paladin from killing an enemy who offers surrender, but the surrender wasn't accepted.

He doesn't fall.


Dracovar wrote:
If every single criminal knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would.

I am intrigued by this notion you have that when a criminal surrenders, gets arrested, and sentenced for their crimes that's avoiding their just desserts. I don't follow your logic there. This is still a game where the wizard casts detect magic and they take all your stuff. It's hardly a win-win for you unless the other option is that you are going to die, and that's exactly why a person would surrender. A reasonably wealthy bad-guy (not even a powerful one) can be expected to get raised in the game world. That's probably way easier to avoid punishment for your actions, since now no one's looking for you anymore. Otherwise, you're in a cell, you're under guard, if you do escape, now even more adventurers are looking for you and you're on the run and in hiding. If you don't, you're breaking rocks for 10 years or sweeping the streets or doing other hard labor. The reason people get arrested and tried is to ensure that their crimes are punished, killing them denies the victims of a chance to get closure (or even the chance to forgive.) Now, obviously if you're trying to claim this victim was such an atrocious monster that only immediate death could ever satisfy the realm... maybe he was, but there's no information on that, that's just reaching because he's got an 'E' on his alignment space.

Now, if you're just trying to say that while a person is loading up their crossbow, aiming it, and firing, they just keep saying 'I surrender,' and that somehow being a paladin equates to being stupid, then that's certainly an intriguing thought as well, but I don't buy it. The first time someone surrenders, if you have no reason not to believe them and another person is not in legitimate danger, you should attempt a lawful apprehension. Claiming danger to yourself is not an excuse (this doesn't mean you have to be stupid or careless) but it doesn't matter if you are in potential danger; being a paladin pretty much means you are willing to put yourself in danger for others, be it being the last to retreat to cover allies' escape or by being brave and courageous enough to face evil when logically you should just have left town.

If a 'bad-guy' tried to surrender and then it turned out to be a trick, then clearly you don't have to accept another false surrender from them. but if even every single other person has pulled that trick, a paladin should always give another person the benefit of the doubt (unless they have a valid reason to think it's a trick, and even then, they should just take precautions.)


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Pizza Lord wrote:
Dracovar wrote:
If every single criminal knew they could just raise their hands and go..."oooo, I surrender" to dodge their just desserts, they would.

I am intrigued by this notion you have that when a criminal surrenders, gets arrested, and sentenced for their crimes that's avoiding their just desserts. I don't follow your logic there. This is still a game where the wizard casts detect magic and they take all your stuff. It's hardly a win-win for you unless the other option is that you are going to die, and that's exactly why a person would surrender. A reasonably wealthy bad-guy (not even a powerful one) can be expected to get raised in the game world. That's probably way easier to avoid punishment for your actions, since now no one's looking for you anymore. Otherwise, you're in a cell, you're under guard, if you do escape, now even more adventurers are looking for you and you're on the run and in hiding. If you don't, you're breaking rocks for 10 years or sweeping the streets or doing other hard labor. The reason people get arrested and tried is to ensure that their crimes are punished, killing them denies the victims of a chance to get closure (or even the chance to forgive.) Now, obviously if you're trying to claim this victim was such an atrocious monster that only immediate death could ever satisfy the realm... maybe he was, but there's no information on that, that's just reaching because he's got an 'E' on his alignment space.

Now, if you're just trying to say that while a person is loading up their crossbow, aiming it, and firing, they just keep saying 'I surrender,' and that somehow being a paladin equates to being stupid, then that's certainly an intriguing thought as well, but I don't buy it. The first time someone surrenders, if you have no reason not to believe them and another person is not in legitimate danger, you should attempt a lawful apprehension. Claiming danger to yourself is not an excuse (this doesn't mean you have to be stupid or careless)...

Naw he just calls I surrender as the death blow lands. Oops fallen Paladin


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Pizza Lord wrote:
Firewarrior44 wrote:

I'm not equating just saying it's within the Paladins authority to exercise judgement and exact punishment which may result in the death of the offender.

The point is a Paladin is given divine powers to exercise his judgement. A god has literally empowered him to do so.

No, you are confusing a Paladin with an Inquisitor. A paladin upholds morality, justice, and good, they can have a deity...

To your first point. Considering the gods that a Paladin can legally follow are on the LG side of the spectrum then I would be surprised if there were deities who condoned rampant slaving and torture as acceptable acts.

==========

To the second part. Then the question when is and isn't the authority legitimate?

What if the country's policy was to torture the cult leader before executing him in a n excruciatingly slow and painful humiliating manner as to make an example of him? However they are also the legitimate rulers of the land and are beloved by the people.

If I kill him i'm disrespecting their authority. If I don't then I'm complacent in torture. Oops I fell case.

So it's simple you always defer to the thing that gives you power, your code:

- If the Authority would provide a suitable punishment [death in this case] then I am not disrespecting them by carrying out that punishment as I am exacting a punishment that they too would find just.

- If the Authority would not provide a suitable punishment then they are not legitimate and I need not respect them.

The law and order that the Paladin follows is their own (or their deities) idealized version and or the version espoused by their deity/patron/code.

If my code/creed believes in the redemption of evil then by all means allow him to atone and live but that is not a standard by which all Paladins must adhere.

=====

In the case of the evil cult leader, who's to say he wont just go back to his cultist ways and corrupt and dam even more souls to the lower planes? it's nothing but an endless rabbit hole of "what ifs". Both a redeemer and smiter are equally valid ways to play a Paladin.


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I think the problem with most of these "does the paladin fall" threads is that people are tainted with thinking like a modern person.

What should the paladin do? Haul the prisoner to the nearest village? Where there is probably no jail and they would try the prisoner, but would probably turn the decision over to the paladin anyways. And what if everyone surrendered? Is the paladin supposed to escort 30 guys back to said village, where they will tell the paladin to decide? And what if he's a week away from the village with no food, what's he supposed to do?

On our own earth way back, most didn't take prisoners, and if they did it was to ransom them back to their family for gold. Is that a more gooder act (bad grammar on purpose)?

Don't overthink things about the game. Unless you say killing is evil, he doesn't fall. I personally just let prisoners go, because if they are prisoners, chances they aren't a threat to me. However, that is probably more evil than what the paladin did, because the evil priest could kill some commoners.


nicholas storm wrote:

There is nothing in the paladin code of conduct that restricts a paladin from killing an enemy who offers surrender, but the surrender wasn't accepted.

He doesn't fall.

The Code of Conduct is not expected to be a list of laws in exacting detail. No one expects it to be a list of 'Don't steal bread. Don't steal money. Don't kill people for no reason. Don't kill people for a made-up reason to avoid violating the Code of Conduct.'

If you are trying to find a way to avoid acting honorably, then you are already not being a paladin. A paladin does not look for loopholes or try to worm their way out of doing the right thing. It may be hard for them, it may make others not like them, and it may cause them inconvenience but that is their chosen calling. They weren't held at gunpoint and forced to be Lawful Good and honorable, they chose to be so and the restrictions are their own.

Code of Conduct wrote:
...act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth),...

You see the 'so forth'? They didn't want to write out every possible permutation of being not good and not lawful was. They shouldn't have to.

What sounds like the honorable thing? A foe is defeated and so surrenders. They are no longer fighting you, they are no longer a combatant. Accept their surrender, be it just for questioning about the area or taking them to a legal authority (assuming they are a criminal)? Or kill them? It shouldn't be a hard question. It is clearly honorable to accept a surrender. Are there reasons why you shouldn't or are unable to at any specific time? Of course, but the basic answer is, stabbing (forget that) 'killing' someone who is not a threat is not honorable. You have the option to take them prisoner or knock them unconscious or restrain them.

Would it be nice if they had a specific wording that said 'Accept an honorable surrender?' sure... but they shouldn't be expected to have to explain to you how acting with honor is. We should all be mature enough to know. If you want to kill people willy-nilly, or even not have to act with honor, this game has almost unlimited potential for you. You can be 99% of any character you can imagine and get away with abusing prisoners or hacking into surrendered/fallen foes and be perfectly fine class-wise. That doesn't mean because something is true 99% of the time, that it means it applies to everything and so paladins can act with impunity as long as they can rationalize or point out that 'raping children' isn't listed as a bad thing. That's not how a paladin acts. If they do, they should get warned and that warning is the loss of their powers until they right their errors, which is not really that hard, it's basically just getting a spell cast and going on another quest where you probably get more XP and treasure anyway.

Shadow Lodge

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There are a lot of arguments about how a paladin should handle enemies trying to surrender. Some of them are based on deity, context, and generally the kind of game you're trying to run.

Unless you indicated to the player that the paladin would be required to accept surrender - whether immediately before the paladin killed the cultist or earlier in the campaign - you should not have the paladin fall. Falling should not come as a surprise to the player, and certainly shouldn't be a case of "I slept on it and decided your paladin fell last session."

If you decide in hindsight that you want your paladin to accept surrender then explain this to the player and then work out a less dramatic way for the paladin to receive correction in character. Divinely inspired dreams are a classic way to do this, perhaps accompanied by some penance. If I wanted to be particularly narrative about it I might send the paladin/party on a side quest to protect a villain who is being brought to trial, and arrange it such that the importance of the justice process and/or the possibility for redemption is illustrated, as appropriate.


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The rules are inherently different when, given a new day, this man could blast the souls from his captors bodies and raise them as his own undead posse. In our real world, no one man can wield the sort of power that a priest, mage, or even a bard can wield in this world. A surrendered regular person is likely no longer a threat. A surrender magical being is an active bomb.

In our world, surrender should absolutely be accepted. In that one? I think there is a lot more flexibility. The paladin should absolutely not fall for this.


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Albatoonoe wrote:

The rules are inherently different when, given a new day, this man could blast the souls from his captors bodies and raise them as his own undead posse. In our real world, no one man can wield the sort of power that a priest, mage, or even a bard can wield in this world. A surrendered regular person is likely no longer a threat. A surrender magical being is an active bomb.

In our world, surrender should absolutely be accepted. In that one? I think there is a lot more flexibility. The paladin should absolutely not fall for this.

To elaborate further on my point, take the comparison of custody in real life vs. PF.

You bring in a cult leader and lock him up. What can he do? Very little. I suppose there is a small chance that he could break out or be broken out, but I think that history has proven that situations like that are more rare than not.

A cult leader in Pathfinder? His options are endless in how to escape. He can manipulate the minds of others, teleport, summon demons to his aide, burn a whole through the wall of his prison, etc. With a wave of his hand, the cult leader can be free to terrorize anew.

This makes the situations inherently different. You can't apply real world logic to people who are walking weapons.


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Pizza Lord wrote:
What sounds like the honorable thing? A foe is defeated and so surrenders. They are no longer fighting you, they are no longer a combatant. Accept their surrender, be it just for questioning about the area or taking them to a legal authority (assuming they are a criminal)? Or kill them? It shouldn't be a hard question. It is clearly honorable to accept a surrender. Are there reasons why you shouldn't or are unable to at any specific time? Of course, but the basic answer is, stabbing (forget that) 'killing' someone who is not a threat is not honorable. You have the option to take them prisoner or knock them unconscious or restrain them.

It's also not clearly dishonorable to execute them.

Executing someone who's surrendered can definitely be honorable so long as you are not being sadistic about it.


Weirdo wrote:

Unless you indicated to the player that the paladin would be required to accept surrender - whether immediately before the paladin killed the cultist or earlier in the campaign - you should not have the paladin fall. Falling should not come as a surprise to the player, and certainly shouldn't be a case of "I slept on it and decided your paladin fell last session."

If you decide in hindsight that you want your paladin to accept surrender then explain this to the player and then work out a less dramatic way for the paladin to receive correction in character.

This is the best answer for the original poster. It shouldn't be a surprise and you shouldn't be seen as wringing your hands trying to decide it. Either you felt he acted dishonorably and should just say so, or let him know at the earliest chance that you don't think outright killing people who surrender is acceptable and that while this is all OOC their character realizes it and understands without the need of atonement (although they could certainly try to make amends.)


nicholas storm wrote:
What should the paladin do? Haul the prisoner to the nearest village? Where there is probably no jail and they would try the prisoner, but would probably turn the decision over to the paladin anyways. And what if everyone surrendered? Is the paladin supposed to escort 30 guys back to said village, where they will tell the paladin to decide? And what if he's a week away from the village with no food, what's he supposed to do?

Were these rhetorical or are you seeking answers? If you are legitimately asking, I will give you my take on it. The answer is, 'Yes.' You say later not to overthink things, but the answer is obvious.

Yes. Unless your world is specifically known (and it should be known, since creatures live in it) as being 'Surrender is an understanding that you are just going to be killed without a fighting chance' then the assumption is the when you surrender you will not be killed outright. If you are found guilty and sentenced to death, that is a possibility, but you should obviously know that. It should never be a surprise, any more than a paladin going "I didn't know killing someone who was helpless was dishonorable." A surrender is by its nature an offer to cease hostilities. If the paladin does not wish to accept they should state it, giving the foe the opportunity to ready themselves (not get into a more advantageous position, but it could happen) and not use the opportunity to strike and, beyond that, slay an opponent.

Quote:
Haul the prisoner to the nearest village?

If you happen to end up with a prisoner out-of-the-blue, say you get in a fight and they surrender. Then you can make a reasonable decision what to do with them. Spank them, scold them, offer them a job, let them go, or take them to a legitimate authority for trial. It's a simple answer. Killing them out-of-hand is not. If they are too 'dangerous' in your opinion to be released, then a paladin's option is only to make the extra effort to see that they are brought to justice and punished appropriately, but unless he absolutely knows and is empowered with the authority to kill when it isn't self-defense, he cannot (without violating his code of honor.) Remember this is in an area of authority, if you are out in the wilderness and there is no lawful presence most people are assumed to be acting within bounds.

Quote:
Where there is probably no jail and they would try the prisoner, but would probably turn the decision over to the paladin anyways.

If you are charged with bringing a prisoner back to the village, and you have the prisoner, you don't kill them because it's inconvenient, you do the right thing and you bring the prisoner back. That means you defend them if your group gets attacked and they are in danger. You don't use them for bait. You don't treat them dishonorably. You act how you would expect to be treated by an honorable person.

Quote:
...where they will tell the paladin to decide?

That's up to the authorities then. If you are going to take that choice away, then you aren't respecting the authority, you are superseding it. That is specifically pointed out as part of the code. Trying to belittle or impugn that authority by claiming it's worthless is what you are doing, in essence. If a paladin truly felt that way, they would still escort the prisoner back and they would do their best to ensure the community had the means and ability to suitably enact their judgement, whether he agreed with it or not and whether it was inconvenient to him, because it is for the greater good and also increases the legitimacy and strength of the authority and the law. (There's nothing wrong with finding out what they intend to do before you run off after the person. That's being respectful of the authority. The whole 'better to ask forgiveness than permission' excuse is not being respectful.)

Quote:
And what if everyone surrendered? Is the paladin supposed to escort 30 guys back to said village, where they will tell the paladin to decide?

It doesn't matter whether one person surrenders or they all do. If you want to confiscate their weapons so they can't attack you and then send them off with a warning that the next time they die, that's your call. You don't have to take them to the village unless you are supposed to take them to a village. Sorry, you don't get to take them prisoner and then just say, "I am going to kill half of you, because it's too inconvenient to take all of you back." Well... the beauty of the game is that you can do that if you really want to be that guy; but hat guy isn't a paladin.

Quote:
And what if he's a week away from the village with no food, what's he supposed to do?

You have a village with a legal authority 1 week's travel? I am starting to think you're just throwing out obviously goofy examples. Most villages don't have any authority beyond sight of their wall if they have one. However, giving you the benefit of the doubt, the fact that the paladin is unprepared or was too stupid to bring supplies does not give them the leeway to act without honor. If he has the prisoners, he makes every effort to protect and transport them. He doesn't butcher one to feed the others. If he can't bring them back, he fails (not falls, failing is acceptable, and that won't violate your Code of Conduct like slaying a prisoner will. Claiming you needed to kill some helpless prisoners so that you could get 3 of them back to town for trial is not an acceptable excuse.) It's simple. If he doesn't have to bring them back, that doesn't mean he gets to kill the prisoners. He can try and persuade some to help forage or hunt, he might speak for them when they come to trial (the villagers will probably ask his opinion or leave it to him when he gets there.) So giving someone an opportunity to show that they are willing to help is not a bad thing. So what if they run away... they have no supplies, now it's on their stupid choice.

None of the answers to your question is to just kill a prisoner (for a paladin.) I hope this helps.


I'd say it depends a lot on your god. Different religions can have different views on the matter.

I'd also say it's generally a good idea to say, "I decline your surrender," before striking, to avoid confusion.

Also, capturing, running a trial, then the authorities executing is not out of the question either.


Albatoonoe wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:

The rules are inherently different when, given a new day, this man could blast the souls from his captors bodies and raise them as his own undead posse. In our real world, no one man can wield the sort of power that a priest, mage, or even a bard can wield in this world. A surrendered regular person is likely no longer a threat. A surrender magical being is an active bomb.

In our world, surrender should absolutely be accepted. In that one? I think there is a lot more flexibility. The paladin should absolutely not fall for this.

To elaborate further on my point, take the comparison of custody in real life vs. PF.

You bring in a cult leader and lock him up. What can he do? Very little. I suppose there is a small chance that he could break out or be broken out, but I think that history has proven that situations like that are more rare than not.

A cult leader in Pathfinder? His options are endless in how to escape. He can manipulate the minds of others, teleport, summon demons to his aide, burn a whole through the wall of his prison, etc. With a wave of his hand, the cult leader can be free to terrorize anew.

This makes the situations inherently different. You can't apply real world logic to people who are walking weapons.

You say you can't use real world logic, but I am going to try and use some here. Yes, the situations are different, but you are also assuming all the punishments are the same and that the governments in the game are too stupid to understand that magic exists. Aside from the fact that a magical world will have evolved to account for magic users (be it restricting components, holy symbols, binding or gagging spellcasters or using silence effects... you are claiming we don't understand how a fantasy world works and that people think differently, but then you don't treat the authorities or people in that same world like they think differently.

If you bring a person back, and they are too dangerous for the authorities to hold or keep prisoner, they'll either send them someplace that will (prisoner-transport adventure for PCs,) or they will determine that they're too dangerous and will have them legally executed (as opposed to the 'execution' Firewarrior44 mentions, where he claims as long as it isn't sadistic is legal. Like drug cartels putting bullets in the back of peoples' heads... as long as it's just business it's not dishonorable.) They probably will, but unless they gave you the power and charged you with executing the person (in which case you can, go ahead), then you don't get to decide to take their power from their hands and usurp it for yourself. As a character you are allowed to offer them advice, warn them of any powers you witnessed, even suggest they kill the prisoner, but that judgement is entirely their purview. Just because you have a divine healing power or get a magical warhorse does not make you the law. You uphold the law, you do not decide it. Again, if the law says you kill them then you can (we don't know in the case of the original poster) but in the case of accepting a surrender and killing someone (or 'executing them' with a bullet to the skull) or even using a surrender as an opportunity to get an advantage on a foe is not honorable.

So, yes we understand that magic exists and there are ways to get out of a cell which people in the real world can't do. We understand people are dangerous. That doesn't mean criminals don't have the right to trial. If only innocent people had a right to trial we wouldn't need trials... they'd be innocent. You are probably right, they probably are more brutal and execution happy in the fantasy world, but that is their choice. They get to make that call. It is their power and power is guarded jealously. Just because you think you know what a king or magistrate will decide does not mean you can usurp their right to decide someone's fate (as a paladin whose code is to respect authority.)


I believe pathfinder is a setting where taking prisoners is the exception not the rule. As such there are two choices when someone surrenders - let them go or kill them.


nicholas storm wrote:
I believe pathfinder is a setting where taking prisoners is the exception not the rule. As such there are two choices when someone surrenders - let them go or kill them.

That I don't think so. There's a Hellknight order focused on rescuing captured people, multiple APs start out with you imprisoned, etc..

Killing rather than capturing is common, but I wouldn't say capturing is no option.


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Oh for the love of god the game is about killing bad guys stop being obstuse.

Silver Crusade

On a quasi related note, I'm playing a Cleric of Erastil in a party together with a Paladin of Erastil.

We're constantly arguing on whether or not to accept surrenders. I'm always on the side of "You break the law, you pay the price". He is always trying to do silly things like show mercy :-). We both have LG written on our character sheet but our approach to Justice is quite different.

But I think that the key to your question is the actual LAW in the country the Paladin is in.
1) Does the Paladin have the legal right to execute summary Judgement?
2) Is the Priest guilty of capital crimes?
3) Can the Paladin reasonably expect the Priest to be given a fair trial followed by a fair and humane execution"
4) Can the Paladin reasonably expect the cost of keeping the Priest alive to be acceptable?

Only after getting answers to those questions (and probably more) can we know if the Paladin was justified in what he did.

Note that from a purely practical point of view it is definitely far superior for the Priest to be openly tried, convicted and executed than it is for him to be quietly slain. It is far better for Justice to be SEEN to be done. The Paladins act could be wrong for THAT reason if no other.

Liberty's Edge

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With the informational vaccuum in place, for all we know the paladin could be of a faith that isn't common in the land, and the law of that faith (eg: Torag, Ragathiel, etc.) could very much dictate this thing.

OP: I suggest you resist the urge to 'make it a RILLY KEWL REDEMPTION STORY'. I have *never* seen one of those work according to plan, and in fact can drive players away from a table.


I'd just hash out specifically what your paladin's code does and doesn't cover- and by hash out take your player's input. Obviously they feel this is ok, but make it clear where the line is.


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An example from World of Warcraft.
Tirion Fordring (probably the holiest and most influent paladin alive at the time of the events), backed up by a group of powerful adventurers, faces the BBEG: the Lich King. This happens twice: in both cases, he offers the Lich King the option to surrender, to be granted <<a swift death>>.

WoW paladins work differently from Pathfinder ones of course, but their ideals are more or less the same. In Pathfinder I'd say it depends on the deity and thus on the specific code, but a foe like the Lich King who has committed so many atrocities and who is so powerful, probably cannot be kept alive.

Later on, Garrosh Hellscream (another BBEG) is defeated and lies at the mercy of his enemies. His immediate execution is halted by one of the leaders of the coalition which fought his army, who wants to put him to trial.
Needless to say, Garrosh manages to escape and causes more trouble.

Again, WoW and Pathfinder are different settings and different things, but both fantasy stories with similar tropes. The champions of good don't have to be naive, at least not every time.


Excellent responses, thank you all for contributing.
In this case I took the decision to make the evil priest (a cleric a few levels higher than the paladin) surrender for the following reason. The player involved has been crafting a detailed back story about the character that involves his lineage being corrupted by evil outsiders at some point, giving his character the impetus to do more good in the world (and a cool reason for Eldritch Heritage: Infernal). This was to be a moment of importance to the character, either the beginning of a downward path to embrace that family history or as a "moment of weakness" that serves as a stark self-inflicted warning of what might happen should they look down that path. The player has taken it as the latter of those two and we will work from there. So not quite a full "Fall and Redemption" arch, but a roleplaying moment that makes sense for that character that will give the players something cool to chat about.

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