Should this Paladin have fallen?


Advice

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Alignment and morality are a funny thing. Honestly, they're a lot more gray than many players give them credit for. Asmodeus to point something out, is a Paladin god option. He even has Oathbound options, so not all of his followers are evil.

To an example though, I'm in another game playing a Drow Vigilante. She, in her Vigilante identity, is Chaotic Good, and in her social identity, Chaotic Neutral. The social identity is only so because my Drow's representation of good is to preserve life. She is a Drow, and is good, so thus she dissociates nature and nurture. An "evil" creature is capable of good, thus they deserve that chance. Being neutral in her social identity means she need not act on that morality, where in her Vigilante identity, she would help the innocent.

However, even good she does multiple things others would consider evil. One of the people she knows says she's evil because she's a Vigilante. She takes the law into her own hands behind a mask. This is unlawful, and to that person, makes what she does evil. She uses poisons, three in particular, the Blue Whimmis, Drow Poison and Oil of Taggit. These three poisons all render their victim unconscious, so none are lethal, but a Paladin would see the use of poison as an evil act. Even though she uses them to save lives. If she knocks a target out without beating them to unconsciousness with her fists (her very lethal fists) then she saves them, and offers them a chance.

Let's take an example from the other side now. I was playing a Lawful Evil Dhampir Gunslinger. She was a bounty hunter, and willing to do what the job took. Her job, as defined by the law was to take people in dead or alive, and she did it within the letter of the law.

She had goals though. Her main goal, was that she had an elven sister who was imprisoned for doing something rash. She felt in part responsible and wanted to see her sister freed. That meant she was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish this goal. If someone had information to that regard she was not afraid to torture them to get it out of them. Committing evil to accomplish good. She knew three things though. If she was arrested, she couldn't help her sister. If she died, she couldn't help her sister. And she needed money and skills to save her sister. This meant she had an altercation with one of her party mates, a kill hungry Drow Rogue, who had not only threatened her, but she had caught stealing from the rest of the party. If he got them into trouble, he stood between her and her goal, so she had 2 choices. The first, remove him, or the second, remove herself. She ended up parting ways, as she felt it was the easier option.

She is evil in her acts, but not outright evil. She accepts people will judge her for her actions, but she has good intentions.

Morality can be grey. A Paladin has a more black and white code, but there are still grey areas, where they must make the call of doing one lesser evil to stop a greater one. In this case, even if he knew the priest was a priest of Asmodeus before the fact, he has two decisions. Let the town commit an evil act in lynching a man, or save a man with potential for evil. As a Paladin of Erastil the choice is clear. The community needs to be protected, even if from themself, so saving the evil priest is the answer.

Healing him after the fact is also still a good act. It is showing kindness and mercy, which are virtues of the Paladin. They are actually in there, in that a Paladin has to help those in need, provided the help is not specifically for evil means. It has been said a few times, if the priest goes off and performs an evil act, then it is the Paladin's responsibility, however those same things are right. It is a plot hook, not a punishment.

The Paladin has a new choice. Confront the priest and whatever that may lead to, or don't and perhaps seek atonement for inaction. Perhaps instead the Paladin has a crisis of faith, it is in the player's hands how they choose to deal with the knowledge. They however, did not willingly commit any evil act. Unwillingly they helped a man later commit evil by saving him, however an unwilling evil act does not violate a Paladin's code. Only makes them need to self reflect on their actions.

Honestly, I think Paladins are one of the most fun classes to play. Perhaps I'm the black sheep, but playing a character with a moral compass that has to consider the concequences of their actions appeals to me.


In introduction to my own answer, let me do a huge introduction...

----------------------------

The most recurring problem when people ask questions about the Paladin code is the notion of "priority order" within all the things that are part of a paladin's duty: protect innocent, defeat evil, enforce the law...

Many people tend to land in situation where the let evil go, because of considerations like legal aspects, or generosity... but in fact, a paladin is not that weak, nor that easy to mess with.

There is a clear hierarchy in the paladin code, which keep a paladin in the "right way" no matter how confuse the situation is.
That hierarchy being as follows.

--- 1- Destroy Evil ----

When I say "Evil" here, I put on purpose the big "E" here, because we're not speaking in that case of just random bandits or just people performing some basic wrond-doing.

"Evil" here referes to the act to serve an Evil overpower that actively seeks to enslave, exterminate and/or make deeply suffer the mortal people.
It's a major crime that deserve, in every paladin code, a swift and immediate execution because each second such a being continue to live, it make the world a worst place to live in.

That's why Detect Evil does not truly detect "bad" people. It detects "Aura of Evil" that is a form of taint that servants of Evil detities or powers gain (see, for exemple, the Cleric and Antipaladin "Aura" ability)
It's the direct opposition of the "Aura of Good" of the paladin itself, and its natural arch-nemesis: Paladins are in a permanent WAR against Evil.

Also, destroying Evil is not a matter of a deity's dogma: it's the most sacred duty of a paladin. It's a act of divine retribution which requiers no trial or pity.

In such a situation, the target is simply willingly serving a power that is a lethal threat to the people, and only deserve to die, for the sake of the same people.

--- 2- Be Good ---

A paladin, when he's not fightning against his natural arch-nemesis, the Evil ones, is still a moral compass that tries to make of the world a better place.

Per se, if his Detect Evil show no sign of taint, it will try to figure if someone is "bad" or "good", and try to make such that "bad" ones either atone, or at least, are removed from being a danger for innocent ones.

The way he figures it can vary, but he will generaly perform an investigation to know what are the true wrong-doings of the person, and what is the best way to deal with it.

He would certainly prefer if the wrong-doer atone and become someone better, but he needs to feel confident that this one is truly willing to straigten his attitude.

--- 3- Be loyal ---

Once he decided someone is a wrong-doer, and if he cannot be conviced that the wrong-doer will atone, the paladin will try to deal with the neutralisation of the threat it represent for innocent people in the most "Loyal" way possible.

If there is an honorable local authority, it will then entrust the presumed culpit to it: the authority will then judge it according to the local laws, something a paladin tend to be respectful of.

However, do not remember that being "Loyal" is the last priority: if no decent, trutable authority is available to take care of him, a paladin will not hesitate to execute a criminal, because protection of innocent comes first.

Turning bad people to a trustable authority is an ideal ending, but a paladin is not someone that will chose a way that will gamblize the safety of people just to try to overdo the "perfectly legal" aspect of the thing.

That's why the servants of Asmodeus cannot step too much on paladins feet: YES, they are talented to do evil things in a perfectly legal way, but if a paladin has to chose, it will chose Good over Loyal and just behead them if needed.

There is no legal shield to protect someone who purposedly harm innocents from an angry paladin.

----------------------------------------------------

Now, for the final answer about the current case, what it means?

The paladin was right to interfere, because an angry mob is not always right, and not always fair: the paladin had to figure out who was right and who was wrong to know what was "good"

BUT a cleric of Asmodeus, no matter if he his spotted by his Aura of Evil or juste because he admitted it himself, is NOT someone that a paladin can tolerate to exist.
He's Evil. With a big E.

The simple fact to let it go is bound to cause the harm or corruption of MANY innocent people: It's like if the paladin stopped some hunters to kill a wolf, when the wolf has for a repeated and clear goal to enter houses to devour young and defensless children!

To me, it's a MAJOR fault from the paladin.
This guy is willingly serving the MOST F#&&ING POWERFUL ARCHDEVIL EVER !
Someone than plan everyday the demise of the soul of every human being !

In what way this is protecting the innocent?
Those guys even use human sacrifices during their offices, and the paldin let him go just because "he doesn't like mobs" ???


Story incomplete.

What did he do with the cleric after this revelation?

Merely saving someone from an unlawful Lynch mob and patching them up is not a code violation.

Leaving the cleric free to wreak havoc would be a violation and illegally executing him is also a violation and illegal imprisonment is also a violation.


Rhedyn wrote:
Leaving the cleric free to wreak havoc would be a violation and illegally executing him is also a violation and illegal imprisonment is also a violation.

Not if it has the Aura of Evil.

The only violation would the be to let him live.


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Rhedyn wrote:
Leaving the cleric free to wreak havoc would be a violation and illegally executing him is also a violation [...].

Can you show which bits of the code are broken by these choices? I can’t find it.


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Moonheart wrote:
Rhedyn wrote:
Leaving the cleric free to wreak havoc would be a violation and illegally executing him is also a violation and illegal imprisonment is also a violation.

Not if it has the Aura of Evil.

The only violation would the be to let him live.

There are multiple reasons something which is not evil might have an evil Aura. Something detecting as evil does not give a paladin free reign or even the obligation to slay them.


I'm not speaking of an evil aura. I'm speaking of the Aura of Evil, the class feature.

The thing that triggers all the alarms on the Detect Evil spell, and which makes that at level 11, you radiate evilness like an evil character of level 51+, as if you were a true devil

Do you ask paladins to ask politely to devils to come in town to be fairly judged, too, while you're at it? ;)


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Moonheart wrote:
I'm not speaking of an evil aura. I'm speaking of the Aura of Evil, the class feature.

The only class that gets a class feature called Aura of Evil is the antipaladin. When did we start discussing antipaladins?


Chemlak wrote:
Moonheart wrote:
I'm not speaking of an evil aura. I'm speaking of the Aura of Evil, the class feature.
The only class that gets a class feature called Aura of Evil is the antipaladin. When did we start discussing antipaladins?

No

From cleric
Aura (Ex)

A cleric of a chaotic, evil, good, or lawful deity has a particularly powerful aura corresponding to the deity’s alignment (see detect evil for details).


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I don't think Paladins are (or ought to be required) to kill every evil person they meet. After all there is a clause in the Paladin code that allows you to work with evil people.

Quote:
Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil.

Considering that this all took place in Mendev, the Asmodean priest is probably less of a concern than all the demons to your west (and Asmodeus *hates* demons). So this might well be one of those "exceptional circumstances."


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I’m well aware of the Aura class feature, and it formed the basis of my original comment. It is possible to have an Aura (cleric class feature) that presents a different alignment to the alignment of the character (for example, Neutral cleric of an Evil god). I’m still waiting for why this isn’t relevant, since it’s way more relevant than the antipaladin class feature Aura of Evil which Moonheart brought up.


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It's now even possible for a good character to radiate an evil aura, for example the Changeling feat "Awakened Hag Heritage" gives you a 50% chance of scanning as evil every day regardless of (and with no actual effect on) your real alignment.


This issue with alignment is that while they are supposed to be flexible based on what happened around you may change your outlooks on life, and that you can change as a person, that's not what actually happens.

Because some people instead believe that alignment instead is a straight jacket, and that murdering evil people is somehow good, because the idea of helping and evil person and showing them that helping is good and good is great and maybe don't be evil somehow escapes the bonds of conceivable reality for some players.

These players are dumb. Don't be these players.

There's literally a goddess for redemption. And while it's not Erastil, that god can do basic math and knows one less evil guy plus one more good guy equals 2 wins for good. That's why the paladin wouldn't fall because that would be one less good guy and 1 more evil guy. Who would create a system of rules were helping someone not be lynched creates evil in the world?

This kind of argument is how a room full of goblin babies is somehow supposed to be a "gotcha" question and not the s@$&tiest kind of roleplay cliche there is.

Don't kill babies. Don't let random old people suffer mob mentality. And don't think that healing someone somehow makes you the villain.


Except you pick the wrong exemple with this thread for speaking of paladin's leniancy. We're not speaking of a mere bandit, here, or of an egoistic noble harassing people with taxes.

We're speaking of someone of the strongest follower category of the worst evil deity possible.

Someone that radiate evil so badly that the paladin could end stunned just by scanning in his approximative direction.
Someone that TEACHES people to tricks others so they will lose their souls to the devils.
Someone that performs regulary ceremonies involving human sacrifices.
Someone that recieve so much assentment from an archdevil that this one gives him powers everyday.

If a paladin start to be lenient against that... how can he claim to fight evil?


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Thanks, Cabbage.

Now, I’m not saying that paladins shouldn’t get their smite on, but that unless it is also backed up by other evidence, detect evil and murderising whatever pings is not what a paladin should do. Make her suspicious? Sure. But it’s not a free pass or an obligation to kill.


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Moonheart wrote:
Clerics of evil deities have the Aura of Evil, too. It's wrote in the class description, and they are explicitly cited in the Detect Evil spell description as well.

No. Sorry. Clerics have an Aura. That Aura matches the alignment of their deity. Neither the Aura class feature nor the detect evil spell ever use the term Aura of Evil. In fact, I’ll go one step further and ask for the page number in the CRB for the term “Aura of Evil”, as written.

Now, we can go back to discussing an Aura that is Evil (or, say, an evil aura for short, like detect evil does, and I did earlier before you told me I was talking about the wrong thing) any time you like.


Seriously, you're being stubborn and dishonest here.
What would you like them to write? 9 versions of the cleric class to cover the 9 possible alignement and explicitly write "Aura of Evil" for those where it applies?????

The Detect Evil spell explicitly gives a table that show precisely the effect of the Aura class feature, which put Clerics of Evil deities at the same level that DEVILS.

A cleric of Asmodeus has an evil aura even strongest than a f%*&ing undead! Do think paladins should spare undeads too?
Do you say to your party: "oh, let me think, I think we lack evidence, we didn't see that zombie eat brains from our own eyes, so let him go" ?


Zhangar wrote:

Even if the lynchee had been lawful neutral, as a cleric of Asmodeus he still would've pinged as evil. Aura is fun like that.

But yeah, just because someone's evil doesn't mean that they've done something they deserve to die for.

The paladin definitely did the right thing, and might even be able to start reforming the Asmodean - after all, his own people probably would've simply stood by and watched his lynching.

Well, it depends on what counts as evil, but normally yes, being evil doesn't mean you deserve to die.


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I think honestly the best course of action for the Paladin would be, rather than killing the Asmodean, to instead convince him that he can do Papa A proud by going off to the Worldwound and killing a whole lot of demons.


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Moonheart wrote:

A cleric of Asmodeus has an evil aura even strongest than a f+%!ing undead! Do think paladins should spare undeads too?

Do you say to your party: "oh, let me think, I think we lack evidence, we didn't see that zombie eat brains from our own eyes, so let him go" ?

No. An undead in most cases is a thoughtless creature. It is evil and has no choice on the matter. A vampire though is still capable of thought and making a decision. A Paladin would still be within reason to potentially give a vampire a chance at atonement, and attempt to cure the ailment.

A cleric, is in most cases, a sentient being capable of making a choice. They chose to follow an evil deity, and they can change their choice. Just as a follower of a good deity can. Giving them that choice, is not violating a Paladin's code.


I mean, a Paladin would be fine with a LN cleric of Asmodeus right? And Asmodeus is no fonder of his LE clergy than his LN clergy, right?

So there's clearly a possibility for redemption that is amenable to everyone here. After you've moved the cleric to LN, you start asking him if he'd really rather end up in Hell than Axis or even somewhere where folks are nicer.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, a Paladin would be fine with a LN cleric of Asmodeus right? And Asmodeus is no fonder of his LE clergy than his LN clergy, right?

So there's clearly a possibility for redemption that is amenable to everyone here. After you've moved the cleric to LN, you start asking him if he'd really rather end up in Hell than Axis or even somewhere where folks are nicer.

While I agree with everything you say here the only hang up is the mechanical "aura of evil" that hangs over a cleric of an evil god. So being convinced he's LN in the first place is a chore.

But barring that small hangup, no I don't see why a paladin would hate someone that worships the lawful side of things and doesn't dwell on the evil. It's a good step in the right direction for him to lead the person to the light.


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Did the paladin violate the paladin's code or that of his deity?

No.

Good and Evil aren't sportsball teams.


No, the Paladin should NOT fall. But you can do some interesting RPing here, by having the Pally visited in his dreams by his deity who warns him that man he so nobly rescued is a danger to the area.

Every DM needs to give every Paladin a free slotless Phylactery of Faithfulness, and ONLY after it warns him that what he is about to do is wrong- then have consequences- which arent always "falling".They coudl well be a warning dream, a temp loss of spells untill a the paladin repents, the need for a spell, etc.

So pretty much the answer to "Should the Paladin fall" is No.

Silver Crusade

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Also, from many perspectives, real world morality and game world morality cannot possibly agree. For example, I was taught as a child (and still believe) that all attempts at 'magic' (even a Ouiji board) in the real world are bad. That is clearly not true in the Pathfinder universe, where good deities grant spells.

edit: replaced 'evil' with 'bad' to avoid overstating my current beliefs.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I think honestly the best course of action for the Paladin would be, rather than killing the Asmodean, to instead convince him that he can do Papa A proud by going off to the Worldwound and killing a whole lot of demons.

Or say, "I am a Paladin of a god, and a part of this church! This is a complicated situation with political ramifications. I'm gonna hand this priest over to my superiors, so that they can take the appropriate course of action."

There are a lot of perfectly reasonable ways to handle this question.


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I'm just kind of amused how we had both a 'is killing evil' thread going on at the same time as a 'is not killing evil' thread.


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Moonheart wrote:

Seriously, you're being stubborn and dishonest here.

What would you like them to write? 9 versions of the cleric class to cover the 9 possible alignement and explicitly write "Aura of Evil" for those where it applies?????

The Detect Evil spell explicitly gives a table that show precisely the effect of the Aura class feature, which put Clerics of Evil deities at the same level that DEVILS.

A cleric of Asmodeus has an evil aura even strongest than a f+&#ing undead! Do think paladins should spare undeads too?
Do you say to your party: "oh, let me think, I think we lack evidence, we didn't see that zombie eat brains from our own eyes, so let him go" ?

You are massively misrepresenting me, here. I said that something having an evil aura (the class feature, Aura, with an evil deity, for example) neither proves that the subject is evil (could be a neutral cleric with an evil deity), nor grants a paladin the right (legal or moral) or obligation to slay the subject.

I am not saying that the paladin should just let it lie. I’m saying that detect evil in itself is not a guarantee that the paladin can go murderhobo with impunity. It is a damn strong indicator, certainly, but is not a guarantee.


Dαedαlus wrote:
I'm just kind of amused how we had both a 'is killing evil' thread going on at the same time as a 'is not killing evil' thread.

And that one was in the rules forum where the traditional answer to anything is "no, that does not work" and one was in the advice forum where the traditional answer for anything is "that should work, but ask your GM".


In my games the powers that invest paladins (quite possibly Heaven itself more than any single god) take what corporate speak refers to as a "high level view" on the task of defeating Evil. On that high level view the problem with killing evil mortals is that it doesnt reduce the amount of overall Evil in the universe. Lawful evil souls get turned into devils and chaotic evil souls explode into a number of demons and so on.

So from a practical standpoint, saving the old man even if it was already known he was an Asmodean is the right thing to do if only to gain the chance to prevent the creation of another devil. If in the course of trying to turn him away from his infernal ways you have to use more drastic measures to thwart his wickedness... Well, there is never a shortage of disappointments in the world.

Sure it is a risky and difficult task, but you knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Clerics have it a little easier simply having to support the concerns of their diety directly without all these issues.


Chemlak wrote:
Moonheart wrote:
I'm not speaking of an evil aura. I'm speaking of the Aura of Evil, the class feature.
The only class that gets a class feature called Aura of Evil is the antipaladin. When did we start discussing antipaladins?

Creature/Object Aura Power

None Faint Moderate Strong Overwhelming
Aligned creature1 (HD) 4 or lower 5-10 11-25 26-50 51 or higher
Aligned Undead (HD) —
2 or lower 3-8 9-20 21 or higher
Aligned Outsider (HD) —
1 or lower 2-4 5-10 11 or higher
Cleric or paladin of an aligned deity2 (class levels) —
1 2-4 5-10 11 or higher
Aligned magic item or spell (caster level) 5 or lower 6-10 11-15 16-20 21 or higher

the cleric aura in on par with the paladin/antipaladin aura based on the chart from detect evil

Silver Crusade

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Lady-J wrote:
Chemlak wrote:
Moonheart wrote:
I'm not speaking of an evil aura. I'm speaking of the Aura of Evil, the class feature.
The only class that gets a class feature called Aura of Evil is the antipaladin. When did we start discussing antipaladins?

Creature/Object Aura Power

None Faint Moderate Strong Overwhelming
Aligned creature1 (HD) 4 or lower 5-10 11-25 26-50 51 or higher
Aligned Undead (HD) —
2 or lower 3-8 9-20 21 or higher
Aligned Outsider (HD) —
1 or lower 2-4 5-10 11 or higher
Cleric or paladin of an aligned deity2 (class levels) —
1 2-4 5-10 11 or higher
Aligned magic item or spell (caster level) 5 or lower 6-10 11-15 16-20 21 or higher

the cleric aura in on par with the paladin/antipaladin aura based on the chart from detect evil

However, as has also already been pointed out, the aura doesn't necessarily reflect the true alignment. If he's a Lawful Neutral character, or even one of those Lawful Good paladins who can worship Asmodeus, he shows up because of his patron's alignment. In the case of the paladin, he could actually have an aura of both Overwhelming Good and Evil, while being Lawful Good.


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There's a lot in this thread that's troubling.

First, the notion that no matter what the paladin does, the paladin falls. This assumes that the paladin's actions, via the butterfly effect, will eventually result in some act of evil that the paladin will be indirectly (but we seem to be assuming directly for some strange reason) responsible for. Since any act of good may provoke an equal and opposite response, the paladin must therefore fall and thusly, the paladin falls immediately upon dedicating herself to her god(dess).

This explicitly breaks the system, violating Rules as Intended (and arguably, Rules as Written).

Second, the notion that the paladin, upon learning that the person saved is an Agent of Evil (capital E here), the paladin must definitively "Deal with the Agent". This assumes that the paladin is omniscient, as letting the Agent of Evil live is considered to be an evil act, since the Agent of Evil (having no agency of their own) will undoubtedly commit an act of evil (or Evil), which the paladin is (in)directly responsible for. Therefore, the paladin has no choice but to execute the Agent of Evil.

However, murder is an Evil (again, capital E) act, and therefore, executing the Agent of Evil automatically makes the paladin fall. We'd try to resolve this by turning over the Agent of Evil to the Proper Authorities, but in so doing, the Agent of Evil could escape, committing further acts of evil, and therefore, the paladin once again is (in)directly responsible for the Agent of Evil's actions. Thusly, the paladin falls. All of this assumes that the paladin lacks agency herself as she must act to deal with the Agent of Evil, but simultaneously assumes that the paladin has enough agency to be responsible for her choices and therefore be culpable for her actions and capable of falling.

This also explicitly breaks the system, violating Rules as Intended (and arguably, Rules as Written).

Both of these arguments make the paladin unplayable. This breaks the design paradigm of the paladin class (as well as the design paradigm of the "good" axis of Alignment in the Alignment system in our fantasy swords & sorcery setting). As they both make the paladin class unplayable, neither one can be valid interpretations of paladin fall conditions or ethics in this fantasy sword & sorcery setting.

  • Paladins are not directly responsible for any actions but their own.
  • Paladins are not indirectly responsible for any actions that do not directly result from a paladin's action or inaction. Even NPCs have agency, and to deny them their agency is to deny the agency of the paladin or the player.
  • Paladins are not omniscient or precognitive. Pre-crime is not the prerogative of the paladin class.
  • If an act doesn't explicitly break the generic or god(dess)-specific Paladin Code, the paladin does not fall, period. Failing to kill a sentient evil creature that is not currently in the commission of an act of evil does not violate the generic paladin code, nor does it break the paladin code of any god(dess) that I'm aware of.
  • According to some paladin codes, the paladin cannot kill an evil creature that is not currently committing an act of evil. Some are even required to attempt to redeem evil creatures prior to "final solutions".

Ethical trap-baiting is not fun for players, particularly those playing alignment-reliant characters. Arguing the ethics of fantastical moral dilemmas in a fantasy sword & sorcery setting that assumes that killing other creatures is a "good" or "socially acceptable" act is also not fun for most players (hence the general, "Another 'paladin falls' thread? Oh, God! Here we go again!" feeling when one of these threads crops up). Since both of these are "not fun", it's a short leap from "not fun" to "badwrongfun" to even get into these sorts of debates, particularly when dealing in absolutes like, "all murder is always wrong, despite the rules-as-written conceits of the fantasy sword & sorcery setting".

Best wishes!


Bodhizen wrote:

There's a lot in this thread that's troubling.

First, the notion that no matter what the paladin does, the paladin falls. This assumes that the paladin's actions, via the butterfly effect, will eventually result in some act of evil that the paladin will be indirectly (but we seem to be assuming directly for some strange reason) responsible for. Since any act of good may provoke an equal and opposite response, the paladin must therefore fall and thusly, the paladin falls immediately upon dedicating herself to her god(dess).

This explicitly breaks the system, violating Rules as Intended (and arguably, Rules as Written).

Second, the notion that the paladin, upon learning that the person saved is an Agent of Evil (capital E here), the paladin must definitively "Deal with the Agent". This assumes that the paladin is omniscient, as letting the Agent of Evil live is considered to be an evil act, since the Agent of Evil (having no agency of their own) will undoubtedly commit an act of evil (or Evil), which the paladin is (in)directly responsible for. Therefore, the paladin has no choice but to execute the Agent of Evil.

However, murder is an Evil (again, capital E) act, and therefore, executing the Agent of Evil automatically makes the paladin fall. We'd try to resolve this by turning over the Agent of Evil to the Proper Authorities, but in so doing, the Agent of Evil could escape, committing further acts of evil, and therefore, the paladin once again is (in)directly responsible for the Agent of Evil's actions. Thusly, the paladin falls. All of this assumes that the paladin lacks agency herself as she must act to deal with the Agent of Evil, but simultaneously assumes that the paladin has enough agency to be responsible for her choices and therefore be culpable for her actions and capable of falling.

This also explicitly breaks the system, violating Rules as Intended (and arguably, Rules as Written).

Both of these arguments make the paladin unplayable. This breaks the design paradigm of the...

that's more on the fault of the paladin class being poorly written then actual issue of ethics 5e has no restriction on alignment and also have codes that are much more lenient then pathfinders paladin, 5e paladins have little to no issues with any of the actions they take, they are also much more powerful than pathfinder paladins so the argument of the code is there for balance is complete hogwash


my paladin carries and uses non lethal poisons on bolts for her hand crossbow for those fools who hit on her and continue to do so after she tells them to bug off. Does this make her fall?


Moonheart wrote:

Except you pick the wrong exemple with this thread for speaking of paladin's leniancy. We're not speaking of a mere bandit, here, or of an egoistic noble harassing people with taxes.

We're speaking of someone of the strongest follower category of the worst evil deity possible.

Someone that radiate evil so badly that the paladin could end stunned just by scanning in his approximative direction.
Someone that TEACHES people to tricks others so they will lose their souls to the devils.
Someone that performs regulary ceremonies involving human sacrifices.
Someone that recieve so much assentment from an archdevil that this one gives him powers everyday.

If a paladin start to be lenient against that... how can he claim to fight evil?

Ever hear of redemption?

Liberty's Edge

Starbuck_II wrote:
Zhangar wrote:

Even if the lynchee had been lawful neutral, as a cleric of Asmodeus he still would've pinged as evil. Aura is fun like that.

But yeah, just because someone's evil doesn't mean that they've done something they deserve to die for.

The paladin definitely did the right thing, and might even be able to start reforming the Asmodean - after all, his own people probably would've simply stood by and watched his lynching.

Well, it depends on what counts as evil, but normally yes, being evil doesn't mean you deserve to die.

Case in point:

My paladin recently encountered some hill giants, who promised the party treasure if we would defeat the "metal monster" that had already killed a number of hill giants. Clearly they expected us to be killed so they could loot our corpses. They came to where they believed the "metal monster" to be, and were surprised to find it destroyed and us alive. Rather than attack the giants, I pointed out that the monster was stronger than giants, and we were stronger than the monster. Revving my chainsaw, I told them to be smart giants and run away. I rolled an intimidate check, and succeeded ("code yellow" according to the GM).

Now, some would say that I should fall for not killing those evil giants. But it's not as if they were rampaging through the local town or anything. I had no quarrel with them, and no reason to kill them.


I had a offhand scenario from a computer game back in the 1980s... think it was either ultima 4 or 5.. thinking it was 4.... something about a room that had children attacking you ... ( yes there really was a room in that franchise) and you had options of: A kill them, B: run away: C: cast fear on them.

oh and running away from that room wouldn't help anything as you needed to get to the next room and the door to it was on the other side of said digital blips that represented said children... casting fear on them as said by said game's designer was the right move and make them flee.

so wha t does this have to do with this thread. other than the fact you could start out as a paladin, well being that in ultima 4 you were trying to become the avatar, you would not get it without going through what not quests to get them back. similar to dnd/pf when it comes to the paladin falling and the attonement spell

edit: just so you know, the early ultima games were in pixels and were about 16 to 256 colors so ultimas 1 to 5 every character avatar in the games were all 1 single color. and nothing like say tomb raider is today.


There are a few things that some players forgets when playing Pathfinder... one of them is: the worlds based on D&D/Pathfinder are intentional a LOT more manichean than the real world.

The goal behind that is to allows characters have some heroic battles where they just behead servants of Evil without wondering if they will have a lawyer knocking at their doors a few days later.
Those worlds are worlds where TRUE EVIL exist. Not just bad people, but litteraly TRUE EVIL that no one will ever judge a paladin to slay without a hint of hesitation even in front of people.

This is part of the game, this is even more common to deal with that regular real world justice: try to spare a bandit, for exemple, then the local autorities will 99% of the time just hang him with little or no real trial, and you'll be seen as the weird one if you are shocked because of it.
This is a medieval concept of justice, quick, rough, and violent... And... I'm talking of justice human applies to regular people, here.

---------------------------

The people of those world are consitently threatened by surnatural evil forces: Monsters... Undeads... Necromancers... Evil outsiders... Mad clerics worshiping a deity that dream to put their children into a cauldron to boil them alive...

They do -not- apply the law to deal with those. Law is for dealing with banditery, thievery, passionnal murder... not to wonder what to do with someone that summon a creature from the nine planes of hell in order to gain more power.

They apply a violent instinct of survival: Kill it before it dooms us all.
No autority of law will ever contest a mob lynching someone convicted of being a cleric of Asmodeus. That's just normal.
If any, the local autority, unless corrupted, if they truly think it's a cleric of such a god, will deliver the said cleric to the mob itself.

This is normal. This is how things work in that world.

----------------------------

Now, I hear people claim: "Alignements is too binary !!!" ... but at the same time, they do nothing to apply the rules that show that there is different grades of evilness.

A very clear and good scale of evilness is however described in the Detect Evil spell description, that rate the evilness of a character, by the strength of their evil aura:

Faint: That's about EVERY bad human people. Thiefs, bandits, assassins, mere murderers. A very large range that include the guy who steal people to get rich but also the one that raped then murdered his own sister for fun.
A faint aura being so diverse, a paladin will probably never judge himself if the wearer of the aura must die or not. That's clearly something ressorting of the law, and the human justice... unless special circumstances where the target must be called immediatly before it harms an innocent.
That rank also include level 1 evil cleric, beginners in an evil cult that could have just took the bad path, and would perhaps atone if showed a better way.

Moderate: Now, we're talking about people not only bad, but truly experienced in being bad. Bandits warlords rampaging a region since several years, professional assassins with dozen of victims at their account... people that had TONS of opportunity to stop their wrong-doings... and didn't.
This is a tricky rank for a paladin: should he kill them on sight? This is unlikely such a person will atone now. And there is no doubt of what a legal trial would declare as a sentence.
My feeling is that a moderate aura desserve a trial, but just for the form. Just to show people that there is justice. But honestly, a paladin wouldn't put a lot of effort in it... someone like that being killed on the field would not make their deity angry.

Strong: Here, we start to enter a whole dimension, that doesn't exist in our reality: Such a level of evil aura is UNREACHABLE by normal people. If you look at the table, you will see that it would take a bandit slaughtering every people it robs to reach level 26 to get a strong evil aura.
This is the level where human law stop to apply: this is not a bad character, this is a FOE. Strong auras are usualy thing for weak undeads, demons or devils. Things that a paladin kill without thinking twice.
Any cleric of Asmodeus enter this field after level 5. At that time, the cleric will already have sacrified many human lives during ceremonies, and taught many people how to doom the souls of others.
Redemption is completly unlikely, and even... atone how? The crimes are so severe at this stade they enter the field where the gods themselves starts to ask for the head of the evil character.

Overwhelming: Stop thinking about reality entierly. We're now at the level of super-vilains of movies.
That character is so evil the paladin feels his guts being turned inside out just using the Detect Evil on him. It's the kind of creature/person he has been trained to destroy ALL his life.
Something that make either people instantly hid under the sheets praying gods for help, or turns into psychotic mobs wanting to burn any suspicious looking one on a pyre.
If a paladin does not immediatly proceed an immediate execution attempt on a creature with an -overwhelming- evil aura, then he will never do on anything, rendering his role useless, because everything else is LESS evil than that.
Even a level 10 devil does not have and -overwhelming- evil aura!

---------------------------

TL;DR:
So... yes, a paladin is not licenced to kill on sight -everything- that is evil. Some levels of evil just deserve a chance to redeem, and some others... not.

When reaching a given level of evilness (that can be measured by the aura), the in-game people themselves will told you "The law does not apply to such a foe. The law is for true people"
No people, uncorrupted local autority or benevolent god will then qualify the act of a paladin as "loyal good" if they spare them: the will ALL call it a failure.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Moonheart, I was with you at the beginning of your post, I mean the whole point of being called an outlaw in medieval times was that it put you outside the law, anyone had the legal right to kill you. However, you are quite wrong with your beliefs on evil clerics. Rovagug, or one of the Horseman, or some other, similar, evil, yes, there are probably laws against worshipping them based on their whole belief being destruction of everything, but you can't lump lawful evil gods in with the CE crazies. . Based on your statements, Clerics of Asmodeus are free to be lynched even in Cheliax, a nation that submits to Asmodeus' power. Even Sarerae, Neutral Good goddess that she is, knows that it's sometimes in her best interest to ally with Asmodeus. It's how they sealed Rovagug, after all.


You know, being Lawful Evil or Chaotic Evil does little if no difference for the paladin's code.
The rule is: "A paladin must punish those who harm or threaten innocents"
It does not say that the paladin must punish those people only if they don't follow the law.

By the way, what Asmodeus does to innocent is actualy worst than killing them, you know.


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Asmodeus has more than a few LN adherents. Should the Paladin Smite the town’s lawyer just because he’s a cleric of the god of contracts? Evil aura=/= evil character. As mentioned upthread, a LG Changeling Paladin could end up with an evil aura. Going off of the Evil=Smite also means that a villain could (and should) cast a spell that gives law-abiding members of the community an evil aura. Divinations are hysterically easy to fool.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A paladin also has to respect legitimate authority, and a lynch mob has very little to do with that. A cleric, simply passing through an area, should not have to be worried about being lynched just because he worships a Lawful Evil deity, especially when that deity is directly responsible for ensuring that the entire world is still there. Worship of Asmodeus is not illegal in Mendev, so said cleric is actually entitled to protection from the paladin in such cases.


One, there is the issue of the lesser evil. Remember there is a certain amount of flexibility in a Paladin's code. There are plenty of established Paladins (especially in the Hellknights) that have not fallen that encounter evil characters, including LE clerics of Asmodeus, on a daily basis. Asmodeus followers are usually moderately well behaved and can be trusted to the letter (albeit no further) of an agreement and not all make human sacrifices. Demons and Daemons and their followers tend to be much more dangerous in the short term. This is literally how the Order of the Godclaw came to be with an Iomedain Paladin and an Asmodeian cleric being two of the founding members. Due to the Godclaw's welcome and much-needed presence in Mendev and the Worldwound, a cleric of Asmodeus walking about there is not necessarily a bad thing.

Two, Paladins can play the long game of trying to convert an individual to see the light. (In fact, several deities encourage this method.) Deities are pragmatic and recognize that this is not always practical, thus executing the evil being is not necessarily a violation but letting one that does not seem like a threat go necessarily one either. That said seeking out a goblin nursery and then purposely slaughtering all the infants may raise the ire of a few LG deities. If they seem harmless, have committed no crime, and are released then commit evil, Golarion gods aren't omniscient and don't expect their followers to be either.

Three, just because they see something evil does not mean they have to kill it immediately, especially since there are many ways to give off a false reading. Also, not all even evil creatures need to be killed for their sins. I've seen one adventure path that there is a LE snooty and rude butler that is merely a spy for his paranoid and murderous boss and the worst thing he does is leave threatening messages for the PCs. Does that really justify a kill on sight just because he has an evil alignment? (And he is high enough level that he does detect as evil despite not having any divine class levels)

Also, a true Paladin of Asmodeus is canonically questionable for reasons stated below.

Inner Sea Gods, page 24 says wrote:
Many soldiers and martially minded types welcome Asmodeus’s dogma of force and dominance. While his church has few organized groups of soldiers, monastic orders or mercenary companies aligned with Hell are not that unusual. Among such militaristic servants of Asmodeus are those who extol him as a paragon of law and enforcer of order. With the encouragement of the church, many go so far as to call themselves “paladins,” relying on the reputations of virtuous crusaders to gain acceptance among commoners and those of modest faith. Although such armed propagandists lack the holy powers of true paladins, many supplement their strength of arms with magic items that allow them to perform miraculous feats. Most go out of their way to perform heroic deeds for communities in need—or to manufacture then thwart tribulations for those not in imminent need. Thus Asmodeus’s servants hope to undermine the common knowledge of their god’s evil, opening the minds and hearts of everyday people to the belief that Asmodeus has been judged too harshly, and that perhaps peace is worth harsh laws and rigid order. Once even a few entertain the previously unthinkable possibility of living alongside worshipers of the Prince of Darkness, the insidious seed of Asmodeus’s faith has taken root.

And for official interpretation on the above statement:

F. Wesley Schneider Editor-in-Chief wrote:

That's pretty much the end-all, be-all word on paladins of Asmodeus in Pathfinder canon.

Now, if you in your personal game want to play with that concept, go for it–certainly no one here's interested in interrupting your fun—just make sure you and your GM are on the same page first. :)

As for the pact servant trait, that's largely meant to be a flavor thing for Holomog. By the strictest readings of the Core Rules, there are not a lot of stipulations on who your paladin's divine backer has to be. For the Pathfinder world, though, the vast, vast, vast majority of the time we cleave to the Paizo house-rule that paladins have to worship lawful good deities. If you want to play faster and looser with that in your game and your GM buys off on it, go for it, but for us, that's our rule and how we play it in our printed products.

For my piece—and you'll find few more pro-Asmodeus backers—I doubt that even the Archfiend can honestly trick someone of true paladin stock into worshiping him, one of the most unabashedly evil beings in the multiverse. Even if he could, he probably can't grant them a true paladin's abilities. Asmodeus IS all about confounding folks, though. (So, if you find yourself confounded by any of this: good.) :P

In any case, we're certainly not going to be presenting paladins who worship Asmodeus in official Pathfinder products.

The pact servant trait dances in a gray idea that's unique to the situation in Holomog. If you want to play in that space with your divine spell casters, enjoy—the background there affords you that rare opportunity. If that unsettles you and you want to say the divine power from that ability in fact comes from some mysterious empyreal lord patron who's backing some ancient bargain tied into the pact, that's a neat idea too and could make for even more interesting stories.

Ultimately, play with it however you like, but don't view [the pact servant trait] as some new change in stance on our view of paladins of Asmodeus as anything but shysters.

Crystal Frasier Assistant Developer wrote:

Re: Paladins of Asmodeus - That was never the intention of the trait, which was more intended to open up Asmodeus worship to neutral and even good-leaning Clerics and Inquisitors in Holomog (and only in Holomog). Being a paladin is a whole different thing above and beyond alignment in Golarion, and while it's a fun concept for a home game it is not something that can happen officially in the game world. The Wily Linguist aspect is an advocate, negotiator, archivist, and lawyer, not a warrior.

Asmodeus wouldn't be behind anyone going around fighting evil on his behalf, and certainly would be giving them stuff expressly to be used for that purpose.

Please, feel free to explore this kind of idea in your home game, but there's ultimately nothing stopping you from doing that in home games already. Don't be disappointed if this trait is not available in organized play.


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Lady-J wrote:
that's more on the fault of the paladin class being poorly written then actual issue of ethics

There is no evidence to support this, only opinion.

Lady-J wrote:
5e has no restriction on alignment and also have codes that are much more lenient then pathfinders paladin, 5e paladins have little to no issues with any of the actions they take, they are also much more powerful than pathfinder paladins so the argument of the code is there for balance is complete hogwash

You're making an apples to oranges comparison. Not only are you arguing that 5e has less restrictive codes (your words were "more lenient", but I'm not really altering meaning in this context), which alters game-play, but does not provide any means-tested (objective) evidence that their ethical sandbox is measurably "better" (it's just an opinion, after all; subjective), but also you're arguing that because paladins in 5e are "more powerful", the balance with ethical codes is better. Those items are unrelated.

Not only that, but your contribution seemed to completely ignore (not refute) everything that I presented, which essentially boils down to, "the black and white morality interpretation that you have (subjectively) imposed upon the paladin class is incompatible with rules as intended, and strong arguments can be made for the notion that it is incompatible with rules as written, ergo, your black and white morality interpretation cannot objectively be valid".


Bodhizen wrote:
Lady-J wrote:
that's more on the fault of the paladin class being poorly written then actual issue of ethics

There is no evidence to support this, only opinion.

Lady-J wrote:
5e has no restriction on alignment and also have codes that are much more lenient then pathfinders paladin, 5e paladins have little to no issues with any of the actions they take, they are also much more powerful than pathfinder paladins so the argument of the code is there for balance is complete hogwash

You're making an apples to oranges comparison. Not only are you arguing that 5e has less restrictive codes (your words were "more lenient", but I'm not really altering meaning in this context), which alters game-play, but does not provide any means-tested (objective) evidence that their ethical sandbox is measurably "better" (it's just an opinion, after all; subjective), but also you're arguing that because paladins in 5e are "more powerful", the balance with ethical codes is better. Those items are unrelated.

Not only that, but your contribution seemed to completely ignore (not refute) everything that I presented, which essentially boils down to, "the black and white morality interpretation that you have (subjectively) imposed upon the paladin class is incompatible with rules as intended, and strong arguments can be made for the notion that it is incompatible with rules as written, ergo, your black and white morality interpretation cannot objectively be valid".

except it is fact, paladins in 5e can pretty much do what ever they want so long as they stick to the code that they themselves chose out this does in fact give them more freedom. another fact is that they are more powerful than pathfinder paladins, their aura effect everyone evenly paladin gets immunity to something so does every other party member with in 10 feet(upgraded to 30 feet at higher levels) paladin get charisma to all saves guess what so does every ally within the 10(30)foot radius their smite works vs everything and they get like a dozen different kinds of smite that each do neat effects, they also get spells at level 2 their only downside is lay on hands which works kinda like the 3.5 one. 5e paladins get overall better features than pf and wear less of a strait jacket while getting to enjoy those powers.


Val'bryn2 wrote:
A paladin also has to respect legitimate authority, and a lynch mob has very little to do with that. A cleric, simply passing through an area, should not have to be worried about being lynched just because he worships a Lawful Evil deity, especially when that deity is directly responsible for ensuring that the entire world is still there. Worship of Asmodeus is not illegal in Mendev, so said cleric is actually entitled to protection from the paladin in such cases.

You know, the Lawful-vs-Good debate has been around for twenty years about Paladin's code: "What a paladin should chose, if he can't at the same time follow the law, and protect the innocents?"

There is no rule wrote anywhere that give the answer to that question... but there is a long long long roleplaying experience at tables that shown that for in terms of alignment Morality takes priority over the relationship you have with the Law.

There are several reasons for this, a few being:
- Chaotic and Lawful character can cohabite relatively peacefuly, while Good and Evil always tend to try to destroy each other soon or later
- putting law above morality is what Lawful Neutral character already does
- Lawful Good description says than when Law says to do something that is not seen as Good, paladins try to change the law, rather to compromise with morality
- Every power of Paladins is above all Good-Centric (Aura of Good, Detect Evil, Smite Evil) and not Lawful-Centric which shows in which direction the gods, who are the source of those powers, prefer them to chose.

Basicaly, a paladin putting Law about Good is something that usualy requiers some special archetypes or vows, like Oath against Chaos, or the Hellknight prestige class.

The vanilla Paladin is not acting like this, or those variants would have just no reason to exist.

--------

As a side note: none of you actualy checked that in the story that was given to us, a mob lynch was actualy an illegal thing... so you can't really claim that he actually followed his Lawful alignement.

We are in medieval times, not modern ones, and the laws are a lot simplier and less restrictive, so perhaps the autorities would have been perfectly fine with this...

I've seen many roleplaying cases where the townguard is just looking that it doesn't escalate into a civil war, and after that, just say that is "none of their concern" because laws like "innocent until proven guilty" and "regular people can't do justice themselves" do not truly exist in most countries.

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