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Paladins - Not so "good" after all?

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  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018

    Though I've gotten conflicting answers on how dual-classing works. The PHB implies you can dual any class from any pool, with as many as you like as long as you meet the Alignment/stat requirements and don't mind the downtime, while the DMG (and some Complete Guides) says only 1 class from each class pool (Warrior, Priest, Rogue, Wizard) and lists a fighter couldn't dual into a ranger because they're both warrior classes as an example.

    In 2E, you could dual to one second class (I think), if you had the stat requirements (usually 14 in your starting class's primary stat(s) and 17 in the second class's primary stat(s)) so even if you could do two, it would be a pretty steep climb. Not to mention the fact that you lost ability to function in that class until your new class overshadowed the first. Basically since most characters didn't get much past 10th level there really was no point in more than one Dual class.

    And there were certain combinations that simply were not allowed. Becoming a Paladin/Ranger for instance just didn't make sense (from the game developer's perspective, if no one elses). Also you had to be human. The point was (as I understand it) that you chose a profession and trained in that until you were good enough to survive adventuring. That, in 99% of the cases, was your career path for the rest of your life. Most people didn't change.

    Later editions of the game introduced the schizophrenic style of class swapping.

  • DKnightDKnight Member Posts: 307
    Paladins are great characters for roleplaying as pc even moreso than Rangers. They are hard to get maxed stats for so you have to be more lenient when rolling. I prefer rangers if I was to play any of the fighting classes. However my favorite roleplaying classes are usually rogues as they can be somewhat decent fighters and are more flexible in other terms.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    @DKnight - I would think that it would be easier to get higher stats with a Paladin as they have certain minimum stats and the program simply raises any rolls for those stats up to the minimum. Therefore overall the max stat total is by nature higher???

    But yeah, I think that among the greatest Role play potential are the Paladins. They have to play in a world where there is quite a bit of moral ambiguity. Granted, the game is designed with a slant towards the goodly aligned, but still.

  • DKnightDKnight Member Posts: 307
    Paladins in Bg are naturally on edge because Bhaal the God of Murder is their father. Coming to grips with that is ridiculously crazy because of their background. I played through BG 2 with an undead hunter and it was too easy. I went through with an archer which was easy to. Now I play through with rogues generally with 2 party members. I just finished a 2 rogue party of Imoen and my character. It was brutally easy because I was a shadowdancer.

  • DrugarDrugar Member Posts: 1,566
    When it's mentioned that "Being a paladin is a calling" they don't mean "The phone rang, it's Torm, your number is up and you're paladin now", it's a calling akin to someone always wanting to be a doctor or always wanting to be a missionary.
    Being a paladin is not a profession to roll into (like Fighter or Rogue can easily be), it's a class for people who, from the moment they were born, were driven to do good and bring order to the galax- I mean Realms. It takes a lot of training, studying and meditation to forge such a strong bond with your chosen god to gain its protection and blessings. It takes time to master proficiency with weapons and heavy armour, it takes wisdom, insight and meditation to learn how to detect the evil in men's souls or to channel your holy power to smite evil. This doesn't happen overnight and the focus and dedication the class demands, means it's not something people choose to be because they flunked out of Ranger school and have no other options.

    Also, keep in mind that the training thing goes for every class. A random dude with a sword is a 4hp commoner with no attack bonus and a -4 for using a sword he's not proficient with. Rigorous training gives him the d10 hitdice, proficiency with weapons and armour, +1 attack bonus (and in 3rd Ed, two feats). The same goes for Paladins.

    If you want a class that can believably say that they got their first level dumped on them yesterday, choose Sorcerer or Favored Soul (and even Favored Soul got its weapon proficiencies from somewhere).

    the_spyder
  • LynXLynX Member Posts: 3
    Paladin's ability to detect evil (alignment) would be better called detect evil intentions, if I remember correctly in Icewind Dale my paladin detected an evil intention of trapping and killing my party by some sort of illusion. He said something like, I sense your evil aura... And for alignment discussion I would add something I liked in Neverwinter nights, you were true neutral with 50/50 (first one being scale of chaotic (0) -> lawful (100) and second evil (0) -> good (100)), so with paladin you started at like 75/75+ and all your decisions matter, so it moved up and down, you just had to try to keep it high enough.

    Playing paladin in D&D seems to be one of the harder classes in my opinion. It may seem annoying for other people you're playing with but you should question each and every party's decision. And if you find you're about to do something wrong even though your deity/codex doesn't disapprove it and you choose not to do it resulting in some weird way to losing your "Paladinhood", you will become fallen paladin. Then you can atone for your actions but then again for some fallen paladins, they might still think they did the right thing and their deity is wrong, they lose their supernatural or divine abilities but are still capable warriors that can make good deeds on their own even if that doesn't bring them back... But for me, as long as paladin doesn't do evil deeds on purpose they shouldn't be punished for that by their Order or deity... Killing an "evil" drow on sight is more chaotic than lawful, so true paladins shouldn't do that. And one more thing that comes to my mind is there are paladins that serve neutral god, Helm.

    It's hard to imagine alignments of D&D in real life because there are no "living deities" that could affect your decisions, so all you have left is your conscience, morale etc. What seems to be good to you may not seem to be good for other people. As another good example could be the personality chart - being intro/extroverted, more calm or aggressive, it's almost never pure introverted personality, there is this scale. So should it be for alignments, you tend to do good/evil things and it doesn't mean you are good/evil person...

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    The Paladin's Detect Evil is more or less a DM tool to use as they see fit. If it fits the plot for the Paladin to get a spider sense tingle about someone, they get it. If the DM wants the party to be totally hoodwinked by the "Evil" patron, then Detect Evil "Didn't detect anything". It's as simple as that. Many players get that confused and think that it is a tool for their character. it couldn't be further from that.

    Playing a Paladin is indeed supposed to be a tough job. I really like the way Sturm Brightblade was portrayed in the original Dragonlance novels. he was my idea of a Paladin. he LIVED the code in every breath he took. He judged himself harsher than any Deity would have. And ultimately (If I remember correctly) he died as a result of breaking the code. In any event, that is a paladin. Sure he never got powers, but no Paladin should get into the profession "For the powers". They should get into it "To do Right and good by their Patron".

  • Awong124Awong124 Member Posts: 2,643

    Sure he never got powers, but no Paladin should get into the profession "For the powers". They should get into it "To do Right and good by their Patron".

    No, definitely be a Paladin for the powers... then use those powers to oppress the weak and take over the realms.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    The Credo of Conan the Paladin:

    "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 3,414

    @DKnight - I would think that it would be easier to get higher stats with a Paladin as they have certain minimum stats and the program simply raises any rolls for those stats up to the minimum. Therefore overall the max stat total is by nature higher???

    But yeah, I think that among the greatest Role play potential are the Paladins. They have to play in a world where there is quite a bit of moral ambiguity. Granted, the game is designed with a slant towards the goodly aligned, but still.

    Yes, the way the program works guarantees you get the minimum stats for your race and class. So, a paladin will always have a 17 or 18 Charisma.

    Actually, with racial minimums, the highest min stat total goes to elven rangers, I think.

    Str: 13
    Dex: 13
    Con: 14
    Wis: 14
    Int: 8
    Cha: 8
    Total: 70


    A paladin (human, of course) would have minimums of:

    Str: 12
    Dex: 3
    Con: 9
    Wis: 13
    Int: 3
    Cha: 17
    Total: 57

  • MukoraMukora Member Posts: 14
    I've always wondered why the typical Paladin isn't considered Lawful Evil, or maybe Neutral. Committing genocide doesn't seem like a particularly "Good" action to me.

  • DrugarDrugar Member Posts: 1,566
    Fun Fact;

    In ye olde D&D, the standard rule was rolling 3d6, in order, for stats before choosing your class.

    So what you were going to play really depended on what you rolled. Wanted to make a fighter but rolled low on Str and Con, sucks to be you, better make a wizard. Likewise, unless you got really lucky, you didn't even get to play a paladin.

    Also, Bard was a class you could only pick once you'd have several levels in fighter, magic user and thief. And ridiculous stats. That's right, people had to work for the priveledge to play a bard!

  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 3,414
    Drugar said:

    Fun Fact;
    Also, Bard was a class you could only pick once you'd have several levels in fighter, magic user and thief. And ridiculous stats. That's right, people had to work for the priveledge to play a bard!

    If you're referring to the AD&D 1st Edition Bard, it's fighter - thief - druid (not magic user). Bards began the game as fighters, and after achieving 5th level (but before reaching 8th level), they had to dual-class as a thief, and after reaching 5th level as a thief (but before reaching 9th level), they had to dual-class again to druid. Once becoming a druid, the character then progressed as a bard. As bards, they gained a limited number of druid spells per day, all other druidic powers as a druid of the same level, and special bardic abilities (charming song, morale boosting song, lore & languages).

    Drugar
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Mukora said:

    I've always wondered why the typical Paladin isn't considered Lawful Evil, or maybe Neutral. Committing genocide doesn't seem like a particularly "Good" action to me.

    Probably because that isn't a typical Paladin way to behave. The correct title for a Genocidal Paladin is Fighter.

  • MukoraMukora Member Posts: 14


    Probably because that isn't a typical Paladin way to behave. The correct title for a Genocidal Paladin is Fighter.

    Isn't it kind of a Paladin's job yo hunt down all "evil" creatures, though?

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Mukora said:


    Probably because that isn't a typical Paladin way to behave. The correct title for a Genocidal Paladin is Fighter.

    Isn't it kind of a Paladin's job yo hunt down all "evil" creatures, though?
    Suggest you read the entire thread.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    D&D morality is not real life morality. "Genocide" doesn't have to be abhorrent in D&D; pretty sure there's enough "good" factions that would jump at a chance to eradicate, say, the drow entirely. Our morals and concepts of good and evil are based on the fundamentals of our reality; D&D is set in a very different reality, with very different fundamentals.

    Don't draw conclusions and make connections between the two, because they are by definition different. We use "good" and "evil" quite loosely, and don't differentiate; but given the circumstances of a typical D&D setting, those terms carry very different meanings.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    @Lord_Tansheron - Genocide would suggest that any paladin walking into Nashkal would be compelled to strike Edwin down on sight and that they would kill Drzzts on sight as well. Other than meta-gamers and those looking for an excuse to get Drzzts' armor and weapons, I don't see a Paladin doing that.

    I just don't see any Lawful Good mandate stating that you have to kill people for 'Walking around while evil'. Nor do I think regardless of your setting or ethos, that would wash among 'right thinking individuals'. Mobs and those driven to madness by fear, maybe. But not rational 'Good people'.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    @the_spyder: There's a difference between what's practical, and what's desirable, in principle. A paladin may *want* to kill Edwin on sight, but there's things to consider other than him being evil; the law, for once. I don't know how Nashkel stands with paladins executing people out of the blue, there may be a process to follow or something, I don't know. There's also the already mentioned issue of "minor transgressions", i.e. doing something not-quite-so-good in order to achieve a greater, nobler goal (up to a point anyway). But the *intent* in a paladin's heart should be quite clear-cut: evil has to die.

    As for Drizzt, I don't know how famous/generally accepted he is. A random drow walking the surface, I'm pretty sure any paladin would gladly kill. Just pick Keldorn in BG2 one day and walk past Viconia, he'll literally watch and smile as she crisps at the stake, and congratulate himself for a job well done afterward.

  • MukoraMukora Member Posts: 14


    Suggest you read the entire thread.

    Apologies, I actually somehow didn't notice there was more to the thread. I stumbled in here through Google.

    I do have to say though, the idea that D&D morality is inherently different to real-world morality seems like a weak argument to me. It's only like that if you take the overly-simplistic alignment system at face value.

    And I'm not saying all Paladins have to be evil, it just strikes me as odd that they can't be, or that they remain Lawful Good even after doing rather horrible things.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    @Mukora: the problem is, D&D's system really *is* different. They have intrinsic, irrefutable incarnations of "good" and "evil"; in part, because they have gods that deal with them and define them. That alone has philosophical and theological implications of massive proportions.

  • wissenschaftwissenschaft Member Posts: 229

    @Mukora: the problem is, D&D's system really *is* different. They have intrinsic, irrefutable incarnations of "good" and "evil"; in part, because they have gods that deal with them and define them. That alone has philosophical and theological implications of massive proportions.

    LOL, again you guys are way WAY over thinking this. Paladins are for people who like to roleplay the shinning knight in armor archtype. Be one of the heroic knights of the round table. That use to be a very iconic but I suppose nowadays, where everything has to be grim dark, the classic holy knight hero is not as popular anymore.

    BelgarathMTH
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    @Lord_Tansheron - if you don't kill everyone, it isn't genocide.

    FinneousPJ
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @the_spyder Yeah, going back on the topic of Hitler...

    the_spyder
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    edited September 2013
    @the_spyder:

    Genocide: "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, caste, religious, or national group."

    (from Funk, T. Marcus (2010). Victims' Rights and Advocacy at the International Criminal Court. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press)

    Few genocides have ever resulted in the total and complete eradication of the targeted group. Also, as I said earlier, intent matters; they would *want* to kill all drow, they just *can't* because it's difficult and impractical to do so. That doesn't mean they go "oh well, let them live then!" instead - they just kill as many as they can. Baby steps, always baby steps.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    @Lord_Tansheron - Not sure if you are trying to be difficult or if you really just don't understand. Someone attempting to commit genocide will not pick and choose whom from that race or ethnic group that they will kill. They may not be able to REACH everyone of that race or group TO kill them, but they won't leave someone alive if they are in their grasp.

    Nor do i subscribe to your philosophy that any Paladin under any circumstances would be about (by intent or deed) the total destruction of every single 'Evil' being in existence. By the very nature of alignments, a goodly percentage of normal citizens in the Forgotten Realms are evil by virtue of "The Balance". they may covet their neighbors wives. they may cheat on their taxes. They may harbor prejudices. They may simply gossip. The list goes on and on and on. 99% of these people will never harm an innocent.

    If you are playing a paladin that would (by deed or desire) slay anyone who has done no harm and will never do any harm, Hey-Presto - They just Fell and are no longer a Paladin. At least in my world or campaign.

    Prejudice is (in my book) a form of Evil. Treating an entire race or group as less than human is EVIL. Your Paladin practices EVIL, and Bob's yer uncle. You fall.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    edited September 2013
    @the_spyder: While you're absolutely right that there's degrees of good and evil all around in most people (just like real life), the difference in D&D is that in addition there is also pure, intrinsic, irredeemable evil. There is no doubt about the nature of that evil, it's an absolute.

    The question is whether drow and similar races fall into that category or not. I do believe that even in the world of D&D factions differ in their views on that. Some see the drow as naturally, irredeemably evil; others say that they have a potential to be what they want. Same would go for beings like Beholders or Illithid I suppose, though in varying degrees.

    I'm not saying that every Paladin would be a blind zealot, but there are definitely Paladins (and other, equally "righteous" factions) that would not hesitate to exterminate without question and hesitation any and every member of a faction deemed irredeemably evil by them, being stopped only by practicality (if even that).

    Perhaps my example of the drow was a bit ill-chosen, due to the changing perspective on them (tied no doubt to their rising popularity). Instead maybe think of Beholders, or Illithid, or Aboleths, creatures like that. Would a Paladin even stop to *consider* a possible goodness in them? I doubt that very much.

    Much of the narrow conviction of Paladins and similar zealots stems from them being in the just about closest service to their deity possible under normal circumstances. Their god's views are absolute, as are their laws. As such, their concepts of morality derive from a deity, not from an inherited model of social philosophy. They have no problems seeing things in black and white, in fact that's almost a prerequisite for their service, given the rigor of their oaths and the associated penances. There's no room for discussion with gods - they are, almost by definition, absolute.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    edited September 2013
    @Lord_Tansheron - My Paladin would most definitely consider before striking. Every single time. Paladins, being the personification of virtue and goodness don't have the luxury of prejudices, or hoping that the sentient being they just struck down was evil even without evidence. I've no doubt that there are religious zealots out there. Paladins should never be one.

    In the game, you Encounter what amounts to a Neutral Beholder in the form of the guardian of the key in the Saugin city. He won't attack or kill you unless you attack him (or otherwise violate his charge). He later shows up in TOB and offers a VERY fair deal. I see zero evidence that he is evil. Cespanar is a "Demon" butler to the EVIL God Bhaal and shows zero sign of being evil. Even further, he proves he is not evil by virtue of being able to handle the Holy Avenger (something that no EVIL being should be able to do). These beings have free will. As soon as you allow free will, you can NOT simply assume based on race or other superficial factor. If you KILL ON SIGHT, you are potentially killing an innocent. That's evil pure and simple. whosname. Yer a Fighter. End of game.

    The problem I think you and others are encountering is exactly the one you tried to make before about intrinsic irrefutable evil and good existing in the Forgotten Realms. The Gods of Faerun may be absolute, but they also communicate to their followers (through divine inspiration and the occasional physical manifestation) what is good and what is evil. In real life, we have to assume and suppose and interpret. We, as humans without guidance, sometimes get it wrong. Paladins in a world where the Gods literally walk among them don't and don't have too.

    And Drow are not 'Sometimes good' because of popularity. Since their creation there has always been factions of neutral drow (and presumably some good drow as well).

    Drugar
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,194
    @the_spyder: I agree with your views, and am not surprised by them; they are, after all, an interpretation of the D&D world by an actual human being, with "real life" morals.

    However, make no mistake that this is not how the setup of D&D's good/evil and alignment system in general is laid out. Gods as absolute being complete warps things, because you (as a mortal) cannot rightfully question divine will. If a god tells their Paladins to go kill something because it is evil, there is *no question*. This means that there is an idea of absolute, definable "evil" - even if that definition is accessible and comprehensible only to gods.

    That in itself however is a clash with how we understand the terms "good" and "evil", as they are never absolute, nor absolutely definable. We do not have the luxury of divine guidance - Paladins in D&D do. It doesn't matter what they think, if there is a divine command to do something, you do it, or you fall.

    The problem is that the gods in D&D are also different from our concept of "God", being much closer to the ancient Greco-Roman gods instead, with their own shortcomings. Heck, some of the D&D gods were mortals themselves once! Consequently, Paladins are faced with the dilemma that their own gods, to which they are sworn absolutely and from which they derive the definitions of "good" and "evil", are not infallible. In fact, things seem to just go "up a level" in D&D - above the gods there's overgods, who apparently have a lot to do with the Balance, and the nature of "good" and "evil". Paladins however are not sworn to these overgods, they are sworn to their patron deities. And either way, the problem of absolute values is then merely escalated to a different level (and another after that?). "Good" and "evil" seem to be much more of a force of nature in D&D than a result of social development - but that, again, means there are embodiments of pure and absolute extremes in either directions.

    The examples you cited, like the Observer or Cespenar, don't contradict this. The Observer is, in fact, Lawful Evil in the game; Cespenar is True Neutral. Neither acts in contradiction to that alignment, though admittedly they do not have a ton of interaction to show it. "Evil" doesn't equal maniacal; evil people can be great company, and they'll readily help you if it serves their purpose. But just that act of helping you doesn't make them any more evil, if their intentions are nefarious.
    In fact, let's go back to the Observer: he's a cool guy, and he helps you out with the drow treasure chest. But let's not forget that in doing so not only does he satiate his curiosity (he really did wonder what's inside the chest), but he's also released from his pointless and boring contract. And, true enough, once you do release him the first thing he dies is go and murder the two imps. He is very clearly lawful evil, and just because he's no threat to YOU doesn't make him any less so.
    Also, being in the service of someone evil doesn't necessarily make you evil, too. Cespenar is a minor demon/spirit/somethingoranother, likely enslaved in Bhaal's service (or otherwise bound/compelled). Maybe he has not enough mental capacity for anything else, who knows. But simply being a servant of Bhaal in such a minor capacity doesn't mean he does so willingly or gladly (he does seem somewhat in awe and fear of Master Bhaal). For him, his servitude is simply a reality of existence; it could very well be that he was created by Bhaal expressly for the purpose of being a "butler".

    Anyway, my point is simply that a system of absolute alignments, derived from whatever higher inspiration (reminds me of Hofstadter's GOD iterations) produces terms of "good" and "evil" that cannot simply be equated to our versions of them. There are more implications and ramifications derived from the existence of such a system, and the circumstances that carry it (deities, destiny, afterlife, etc.) in D&D.

    That doesn't make your own personal choices less true, of course; there are degrees even within the same alignment, and your interpretation of "lawful good" isn't necessarily another's. In fact, I personally find the entire alignment system and its derivatives (such as Paladins) too shallow and lacking in complexity; but we have it, and there you go. I'm simply cautioning people against equating it with our "real life" terms and the implicit definitions of values derived thereof. You can do it to a degree, but not without a lot of deliberation and care.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    edited September 2013

    However, make no mistake that this is not how the setup of D&D's good/evil and alignment system in general is laid out. Gods as absolute being complete warps things, because you (as a mortal) cannot rightfully question divine will. If a god tells their Paladins to go kill something because it is evil, there is *no question*. This means that there is an idea of absolute, definable "evil" - even if that definition is accessible and comprehensible only to gods.

    You killed your own argument right here. The Gods are absolute. A good god will never tell a follower to go kill a non-Evil 'Evil' thing for no other reason than they happen to be of a certain race or group. So No Lawful Good God will tell a Paladin "Go kill all Drow". The Gods know that not all Drow are evil and will never sanction an Evil act. They also know (because they are Divine) that prejudiced views are not 'Good' so they would never countenance such in their Holy warriors.

    You are saying that the ways of the Gods are unknowable and their definition of 'Good and Evil' are higher than ours. Yet in the same breath you say that Good and Evil are absolute and definable. Contradiction. But these aren't great and mysterious ways. Drow have free will and therefore can be of good alignment. There is nothing mysterious about this. Telling a Paladin to 'Go forth and slay all Drow' is tantamount to 'Go forth and slay neutral and good beings indiscriminately'. No Good God will EVER do that. Period.

    Edit: Feel free to replace 'Drow' with any sentient race that has free will.

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