A God To Sponsor A Fallen Paladin


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In a campaign I am running, there is an NPC that has become a fallen paladin.

I mean, he didn't fall a little. He fell hard.

He has had a complete crisis of faith, but wants to still do good in the world.

He has become a bit of a favorite character for the party, so I am trying to think of a way he can continue in the world in a meaningful way. Any advice for a direction to go with a character like that? Any gods that make a habit of rehabilitating broken people? Any good classes I should transition him to, or should he stay as a fallen paladin, keeping only his BAB, feats, and armor/weapon proficiencies?

Everything after this is just background info. Feel free to ignore.

I was running a home brew version of a high level pathfinder scenario. The scenario gave the option of drinking a demon lord's blood to gain power, or even eating the demon lord's heart and gaining a small level of divinity, including granting spells and powers to followers.

Long story short. Desperate paladin sacrifices his soul to gain enough power to help the party defeat a great evil. He drinks the demon blood to gain power which is an evil act that causes him to become fallen. He then offers himself to worship and serve the party member that ate the demon's heart and becomes restored as a (semi-)dark paladin.

He is just an NPC that was supposed to die heroically. I ran him most of the time, but several players in the group have taken turns running him and making decisions for him. He has now become a party favorite. They went to significant lengths to save him, support him, and get him through the adventure alive.

In the end, the fallen paladin helped the party defeat a great evil, but in doing so he committed many acts that would be considered evil. The paladin won't do an atonement, partly because of a backstory self loathing thing, but also because he doesn't regret doing it. Atonement requires remorse and regret for the the deeds done. He doesn't regret it because it allowed him to defeat a great evil. He believes damning his soul was a worth while trade off for the good accomplished.

I really like the concept and the backstory!

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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I really like the concept and the backstory!

Thanks! I try to make many of the NPCs in my campaign flavorful and three dimensional. I even have a wall of "Mug Shots" in my game room. They are small 3 x 5 pictures of NPCs with a note card attached with a few bits of info about the character. The players are welcome to add info to the note cards. It really seems to help the players connect with the NPCs instead of treating them like disposable characters.

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Have you checked out the Vindinctive bastard archetype for fallen paladins? With some flavor adjustments (like any good cook does) it might work for this.

Count Ranalc, lord of exile, betrayal and shadows, would gladly welcome your service.

You could remake the character as a Sworn of the Eldest, or even a Hooded Knight, with Order of the Eclipse or Order of the Cockatrice.

I’d probably take an existing archetype and tweak it to suit my purposes. The paladin sounds very lawful over good. So an Iroran Paladin could mostly fit, if you just drop the good requirement.

If you want to put the paladin on a path to redemption, you could throw the chosen one archetype on him and say that a god has intervened and provided him with a literal morality pet to make sure he doesn’t stray again. Almost all of the neutral good gods are super forgiving and might want to do this.

Most important question: what setting is this?
Can't make any suggestions for potential patrons without knowing that.
Also, how much contact will this NPC have with the PCs?
How much focus do you want on him?
How much effort will the PCs put into keeping tabs on him and helping him?

One possible development is that he could be the next big enemy the PCs have to face. Not necessarily one that is hard to defeat mechanically but one that is hard for them to face emotionally and morally.

This NPC could easily become a blackguard/antipaladin.
He saved the world (or near as), sacrificed himself for it, and that bastard of a former patron just tosses him aside. He tries to do good but without the blessing of his god it all rings hollow. He tries to follow the old teachings but they mean nothing now.
He needs a break. He retires to calm his unbalanced emotions and to avoid being a burden on the PCs For a while the knowledge of his noble sacrifice made him feel semi-OK about himself but the continual reminder of loss of his powers, the emptiness inside, the looks of pity and 'understanding' in the PCs' eyes just make things worse. The (imagined?) whispers and speculations of other NPCs doesn't help.

He eventually tries to get back into the do-gooding business, but it just doesn't work out right. Slowly, resentment and self-pity grow. Slowly, he loses former moral inhibitions. He's already damned, he's done terrible things, so what harm are a few more minor unpleasant acts in the name of the greater good? It starts small: he's rude and dismissive of people he would have been patient and polite to before. His temper grows worse. His former ideals are just a painful memory now, as he spirals out of control. He bullies people to get them to do the 'right thing', he enforces his own increasingly erratic judgement on wrongdoers, he demands more and more obedience and payme4nt as his due for doing his good deeds.

One day he realizes he's killed a total innocent over a minor issue, and he feels sorta bad. Not that he killed the sucker, but that he doesn't feel bad for killing him. And once he's processed this development, he stops feeling quite so bad. Maybe he gives up and just says the world sucks and there's no point in doing good. Maybe he feels better taking his own pain out on others. Maybe he's been morally tainted by the hold the demon has on his soul. Maybe he just misses the feeling of comfort that came with a greater being giving him power, the reassurance that even if the NPC hated himself at least he was doing a good job. Maybe he just says 'f$$$ it, I'm gonna be evil now, it's easier'. For whatever reason, he accepts the darkness that offers power.

All this could happen over just a few months while the PCs are busy elsewhere. Now they have to figure out what to do about their old friend.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

Most important question: what setting is this?

Can't make any suggestions for potential patrons without knowing that.
Also, how much contact will this NPC have with the PCs?
How much focus do you want on him?
How much effort will the PCs put into keeping tabs on him and helping him?

WOW Bjorn! That was some good stuff. Everyone has given some good ideas. There are a few things that I don't think will work with this character, but I am going to totally steal to flesh out other characters.

The current story ark actually has the character in a good spot. After his adventure with the party, they went their separate ways.

The party was asked to intervene in a dangerous mission before leaving town. After what they had just been through the party declined and went home to recover. (This is actually not that big a deal. I throw so many plot hooks at them, that they could not possibly complete them all. I do make a point of from time to time mentioning to the party the consequences that have come to pass when they don't take a mission.)

Anyway, I had the NPC and a bunch of other outcasts complete the mission. I played it up as a suicide mission for a group of broken heroes looking to die trying to do something good.

I haven't really fleshed out the story, but the suicidal NPC group survives and come out of it as great heroes. It turns out that they were dealing with a gateway to Hell. Each is greatly altered by the mission. To survive, they were required to make deals with devils and everybody lost something dear to them. One lost his sight permanently. One lost an arm. One will be forever mute. The fallen paladin lost most of his memories of people that he loved.

While the main party in the campaign were taking a month off to rest, recuperate, retrain, and gear up, a group of NPCs has filled the void. The group of NPCs is now the most revered party in that region.

I'm wondering how the group will respond to being outshone by a bunch of NPCs. I'm sure there will be further interactions, but I want to figure out what the fallen paladin will have reinvented himself into. Currently I am thinking oracle, because you can still worship ideals and aspects of deities with out being closely bound to them.

Once again, thanks for the inspiring ideas.

How about him being recruited by Valdeis, as she has sefl-harmed herself pretty hard?

Or redemption by The General of Vengeance Ragathiel? That Ragathiel has offered him "redemption" if he wanted to take revenge at those who wronged him (why he fought for the greater good) and he is now a Crimson Templar. I think this would quite suit him.

"Even the most devout followers of good can recognize the need for ruthlessness when opposing true evil. The crimson templars are taught that mercy is a virtue reserved for only those capable of accepting redemption.

They must learn this lesson well, for they are trained to face the heartless legions of Hell. These women and men are Heaven’s assassins, and they tread a bloody path so the oaths of others remain untarnished. Their mission is a thankless one, as righteous allies often view them as just a step away from corruption."

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I would definitely make the choice to 'sell his soul' matter. He needs to slip deeper and deeper into evil, finding it easier to justify doing bad for the 'right' reasons.

My goal for the rest of the campaign would be to show the party that the paladin damning his soul wasn't worth stopping the great evil, that it just opened the door to a worse evil, as the ex-Paladin becomes less and less moral, and more convinced that only he has the will to make sure the 'right' thing is done. I can see a villain utterly believing in his own goodness and righteousness (sure, he detects as evil, but that is a technicality only there because of his willingness to sacrifice himself, it is really 'proof' of how noble he is.) He knows what is right. He is the one that makes the hard calls. He understands sacrifice is necessary, that prices must be paid and the he is the only one worthy of power and so he needs to gather more and more.

Of course plenty of bad things out there would be happy to give such a fallen champion more and more power, making him a legitimate threat that eclipses the one he originally gave his soul to stop.

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What is his current alignment? I could see him being attracted to a deity that is compatible with his current alignment but not with being a paladin.

If he shifted away from law but not from good, nearly any chaotic good deity should work.

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