Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guidelines for the Paladin class - A Paladins Code

For Chris, Rob, Robert & Robert

Having been witness to many paladin characters played badly over the years, I started to think about the classes basic tenets of behavior...What principles serve as a model for the paladin?

'Fie on thee, bro!'
As written in the 1st Edition Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide, there are not many rules demonstrating the particulars of a paladin-like attitude.  

How is a paladin supposed to act out in the field?  What actions could cause a paladin to lose his powers or require a quest of atonement?  Is a paladin just an expendable pawn in the battle between good and evil?

There are some strictures listed on p.22 of the PHB, here they are in a nutshell:

  1. No more than 10 magic items.
  2. Never retain wealth, only keep treasure to support themselves modestly, pay henchmen, construction of a small castle, etc.
  3. Tithing of income.
  4. Only have henchmen of LG alignment, only adventure with good aligned groups, etc etc.

Admittedly, its something.  But there are not many specifics to guide the paladin on his merry way towards destroying all that is evil and setting wrongs to right correctly.  Using chivalry of the medieval knight as a starting point, I tried to put together some specific rules that can better define a paladins actions.

Now, there are as many examples of chivalric ideals as there are leaves on a tree, but some similarities were found after a bit of research.  These common traits are what I used to develop my 'Paladins Code'

  • Faith:  Showing faith in divine guidance and in your cause.
  • Honor:  Having good morality and virtue.  Being generous in spirit, showing dedication and resolution. Being truthful and courteous.  Showing valor and sagacity when dealing with enemies.
  • Justice:  Being fair and mindful of the laws when dealing with the guilty.  As sure as evil should be overcome wherever found, there is always the law of the land to be observed of when deciding a course of action to take.
  • Temperance:  Moderating your thoughts, feelings and actions.  Abstaining from debauchery and base behavior as well as disdaining such activities. Avoiding gluttony.
  • Nobility:  Upholding your convictions at all times, being noble in character.  Having dignity, morality and being spiritually good.
  • Loyalty:  To your deity, to your sovereign and country as well as your code.
Whether playing a paladin, or DMing of a group with a paladin, this could be used as a guideline for a paladins conduct.  Knowing what is expected of the class may help to better role-play and avoid the Dudley Do-Right stereotype that I am sure we have all seen.  It's ok to have more depth to your character than 'See evil-smash!' 

I think that the paladin, when played correctly, is a VERY interesting class.  They could be the center of many adventure hooks from political machinations to crusades against evil.  They are martially strong, able to gain spells at higher levels and having a huge variety of armor and weaponry to choose from...whats not to like?  Now, go break out those d6's and roll one up!  Oh, and don't forget to drink your milk! :)