View Full Version : Help design a Very Very Un-Paladin!

2009-01-20, 05:22 PM
Hi guys. So, I've long wondered where the word "paladin" comes from and recently I found out. For historical trivia, see here:

"Paladin" derives from Latin palatii/palatinus, "of the palace," an adjective applied to a certain class of young nobles in Rome, having the association of "royal" or "imperial."

In feudal times it became a title in its own right. Its earliest famous usage was in the stories of the Twelve Paladins of Charlemagne's court, actually some 13-15 men (depending on the story) who were companions and men-at-arms of either Charlemagne himself or of his martyrous knight Roland. The Twelve Paladins received literary treatment as a sort of French round table, and rivaled Aurthurian stories for mediaeval popularity.

By the Renaissance the title was typically assigned to a single person who was the personal agent of the king, especially in Hapsburg-influenced kingdoms. Thus it was a viceroy position. In Germany and England it was also applied to a knight or lord who was allowed to exercise special powers normally reserved for the king; in the Renaissance it described a group of nobles who were allowed to elect new Holy Roman Emperors; and in Poland it became a title given to a second-in-command (often a relative) of any nobleman, royal or otherwise. It was generally an appointed, not hereditary, position.

As it turns out, these historic real-world paladins are quite unlike the saintly knights of our D&D games.

Gruesome paladin details:

There's a long list of paladins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_Palatinate) on Wikipedia, and it isn't all-inclusive by any means. Not every paladin was a wicked man; most were standard aristocrats, who partook in warfare, duels, and political scheming but no particular atrocities. Nonetheless, as high ranking authorities in the oft-horrific feudal system, paladins shouldered more than their share of dirty deeds.

The crimes of the paladins listed there range from wife murder to blatantly violating their own peace treaties. I think the winner for worst paladin, however, might well be Juraj Thurzo, the Palatine of Hungary in 1610. Here are the accolades of Palatine Thurzo from the Elizabeth Bathory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Bathory) entry at wikipedia (emphasis added):

Finally, in 1610, King Matthias assigned Juraj Thurzo, the Palatine of Hungary, to investigate [a series of brutal murders]... A trial was held on 7 January 1611 at Bytča... [several peasants named] Dorko, Ilona and Ficko were found guilty and put to death on the spot. Dorko and Ilona had their fingernails ripped out before they were thrown into a fire [alive!], while Ficko, who was deemed less guilty, was beheaded before being consigned to the flames. A public scaffold was erected near the castle to show the public that justice had been done. [A fourth peasant named] Katarína Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment, as she only acted under the domination and bullying by the other women, as implied by recorded testimony.

The king and palatine were very concerned about implicating nobility in the murders, and so they let the actual serial killer, a countess, remain untried and unsentenced, although she was confined to her rather large estate. Their fear was that any trial of a noblewoman would lend strength to anti-aristocratic sentiments and destabilise the government.

Of course, this being the internet, all tirades must culminate in Hitler links, and my tirade is no different: even the Fuhrer had his own paladin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatine), Hermann Goring, commander of the Luftwaffe and one of the men who ordered the Holocaust. The title "paladin" was bestowed on Goring to signify, in accord with German custom, that he was second in command to the ruler; and indeed Hitler had specifically designated Goring as his successor in the event of his death.

The common thread in the biographies of most of the historic paladins is that they were indefatigable agents of law. Not lawful goodness - just law. Being highly placed within the ruling class, they had every incentive to uphold the rule of law under all circumstances.

Many of the historic paladins continued to support their king/emperor/duke even when the man hated them, or was openly hostile to their family, because they supported the system that kept him--and themselves--in power. Even if it meant guarranteeing the rights of their scheming enemies, they were firm supporters of monarchy and divine right.

The Palatine (new base class)
I am trying to homebrew a new base class for D&D 3.5 that reflects these royalist paladins. I want to portray them not as lawful evil (though some may be), but as lawful lawful, whether that be LG, LN or LE. These are the personal agents of the king's justice. These are men and women who, like the Palatine of Hungary, feel that torture and burning alive are fair punishment for those who disturb the peace, mere beheading is getting off easy, and life in mediaeval prison is appropriate for those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Paladins who will do anything and everything to protect the royal government. Dangerous, powerful paladins with agendas.

This is where you come in, fellow Playgrounders. I need suggestions for what class abilities such a person should have. You can invent new class abilities or you can suggest abilities from the various classes in the splatbooks. (If the latter, please explain the ability; I don't have many books to use.)

I realise this type of palatine won't do anything to make paladins better teammates for a typical adventuring party. The class may work best as an NPC class, and that's fine by me.

I will continually update the thread here until we have a workable class for levels 1-20.

Paladin Abilities I Want to Keep:
-I think adding Cha to saves is good, as the palatine survives through sheer determination and force of will.
-Ability to cast some divine spells is good. For flavour, they gain spells from their faith in their monarch, (who is a deity incarnate to them), not from some actual god.
-Smiting is good, but not Smite Evil. I think the palatine should be able to smite anyone who hinders their mission from their ruler.

Other Abilities I'd like to see:
-Diplomacy-based abilities or special uses for Diplomacy, reflecting the palatine's roll as an ambassador.
-Knightly abilities of all kinds would be great.
-Perhaps some special death attack or execution mode; feel free to suggest something along these lines.

Abilities I DON'T Want:
-Paladin's mount
-Tome of Battle-esque maneuvres or the like

Please help - all ideas are appreciated!

The Neoclassic
2009-01-20, 07:31 PM
Well, for the smiting, the easiest would simply be to change it to smiting chaotic or nonlawful creatures. It'd be possible though more difficult to specifically smite those who go against your king's agenda (if only because smite evil/chaos or such relies on big forces of the cosmos to make such abilities work).

I'd remove the aura of good and possibly also their at-will detect evil (though if you kept it, I'd recommend making it detect chaos). Perhaps they could have a spell-like ability that allowed them to detect lies, but only those lies related to noble affairs, diplomatic dealings, or allegiance to the king? For example, if a noble was lying about sleeping with your wife, you couldn't use the ability to pick up on it, but you could use it to determine if he was lying about how he was concerned about the king's safety.

Turn undead and remove disease (the spell-like ability) are probably out the window too. Revamping the code of conduct and former members of the class thing too I assume?

Yeah, a sort of death attack would be good too. Maybe some way to grapple and slay peole with a special attack once per day? Hmm, I shall have to think more on this...

2009-01-20, 07:34 PM
I think this just sounds like what happens when a Paladin serves a Lawful Neutral Diety. Which you can do in 4e. In fact you can serve an evil diety. As long as you stay within the moral code of your diety it's all good.

Give them the ability to Coup de Grace grappled enemies. That's like an execution. You grab em, force them to their knees and then lop off their heads.

2009-01-21, 12:07 AM
Sorry, I should be clear. I'm not trying to tweak the existing paladin, I'm trying to build a brand new class. So yeah, other than smiting and adding Cha to saves I'm ditching all the pally powers.

CdG on grappled enemies is a good idea.

I thought about smiting chaos but it wouldn't work so well - many of the palatine's enemies would be equally lawful agents of some other king. I think it'll be smite (any) with the provision that smiting fellow loyalists is a Big No No.

Keep the ideas coming guys...

2009-01-21, 12:35 AM
Would you consider some kind of fanatical barbarian-like rage brought on by his devotion to his ruler? I'd call it "For the King!"

2009-01-21, 12:58 AM
Would you consider some kind of fanatical barbarian-like rage brought on by his devotion to his ruler? I'd call it "For the King!"

I would consider it, matter of fact! Ooh this is a great idea.

But what sort of bonuses/penalties? It shouldn't be a straight clone of the barbarian ability.

2009-01-21, 01:03 AM
No doubt some sort of increase in strength, though I'd think even enraged a Palatine would have more self-control than a barbarian. Considering he also has things like smiting, I'd make it something like a lesser boost to stamina and strength, but it does not exhaust him for the rest of the battle. I'd only make it usable once per encounter or a few times per day to offset it a little further.

2009-01-21, 01:26 AM
Hrm, I'd say strength bonus and then either an ac boost or scaling DR. You might also grant them extra bonuses against whatever triggered it. Some bonus feats might not be out of place either.

2009-01-21, 06:07 AM
Prototype spell list?

Level 1
Bane, Bless, Cure Light Wounds, Detect Posion, Divine Favor, Endure Elements, Inflict Light Wounds, Lesser Restoration, Magic Weapon, Protection from Chaos, Read Magic, Resistance, Virtue, Weapon of Order (as Bless Weapon, but against Chaos)

Level 2
Bull’s Strength, Cure Moderate Wounds, Delay Posion, Eagle’s Splendor, Inflict Moderate Wounds, Owl’s Wisdom, Remove Paralysis, Resist Energy, Zone of Truth

Level 3
Blindness/Deafness, Cure Serious Wounds, Discern Lies, Dispel Magic, Greater Magic Weapon, Inflict Serious Wounds, Magic Circle against Chaos, Prayer, Remove Blindness/Deafness, Remove Curse

Level 4
Axiomatic Sword (as Holy Sword, but Axiomatic and with Magic Circle against Chaos), Break Enchantment, Cure Critical Wounds, Death Ward, Dispel Chaos, Inflict Critical Wounds, Mark of Justice, Neutralize Poison, Restoration, Slay Living

2009-01-21, 08:56 AM
Ooh, I like the concept. For the rage-like ability, what about some resistance to fear?

Also, a bonus to diplomacy is a must-have if they are to act like politicians.

2009-01-21, 11:33 AM
Also, a bonus to diplomacy is a must-have if they are to act like politicians.

Yeah, I think I will give them an ability I call Courtly Tongue at level 1 or level 2. It provides a +2 to Diplomacy and Knowledge (Nobility).

Lor Xavius, awesome spell list. I think i will steal it outright except maybe drop or alter the anti-chaos abilities. Again, many (maybe most) of their enemies will be lawful members of enemy societies. Sure, chaotic rebels will surely crop up too, but still....

2009-01-21, 04:54 PM
Any ideas on a good execution/death attack type ability? Other than CdG while grappling, I mean.

Two thoughts I had were either:

1) Upon Smiting an enemy, a Palatine may attempt an Intimidate check. The DC for this inimidate check is (25 + target's HD). If the check succeeds, the attack is treated as a Coup de Grace, even if the target is not helpless.


2) Upon successfully striking an enemy with a melee attack, a Palatine may attempt to drive her weapon deep into the enemy to finish them off. To do this, the Palatine must have at least one extra attack action, which she uses to make an effective grapple check. If this is a success, the enemy is round through and held firmly by the palatine (treat as grappled). On her next turn, if the palatine still has the enemy grappled, she may twist her weapon and the target must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + damage dealt by the palatine's last attack) or die.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-21, 06:35 PM
Look at some of these feats for ideas: Eviscerator (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/cgi-bin/feats.pl?Eviscerator,LM), Daunting Presence (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/cgi-bin/feats.pl?Daunting_Presence,LM), Death Master (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/cgi-bin/feats.pl?Death_Master,LM) (all three from Libris Mortis), and Gruesome Finish (from Exemplars of Evil).

2009-01-22, 08:08 AM
Have you seen this?

I think it is a very good starting point. I realize that this isn't exactly what you want since it still has a special mount, but you can certainly use this as a basis.

I particularly like Aura of Law and Smite Chaos.


2009-01-24, 12:43 AM
Idea for an "Ability" of sorts:

Judge, Jury, and Executioner

(Obtained at a relatively high level to avoid player abuse, perhaps in the teens. Not exactly sure. Suggestions?)

Due to their reputations as staunch, unwavering supporters of law above all else, many nations recognize Palatines as reliable independent agents of law enforcement. As such, high ranking members of Palatine orders are entrusted to uphold law anywhere they go by allowing them the full powers of a court. They may hold a "trial" for anyone, anywhere, at any time if they suspect a person to be guilty of a crime, and answer only to the highest local authority, be that a local noble or even a King.

Should the person's crime warrant it, the Palatine is also fully authorized to execute them on the spot or in any manner of the Palatine's choosing, to make an example to those who think themselves above the law.

(This doesn't have much in the way of mechanical value, but I think as a roleplaying tool it could be highly effective - much like Tongue of Sun and Moon.)

2009-01-24, 01:49 AM
Okay, now that's pretty neat. It goes nicely with a (much lower level) ability I'm giving them, Commandeer, which allows a Diplomacy check to commandeer up to (HD x 100 gp) worth of goods or animals at any time.