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Crow
2010-07-04, 01:46 PM
Last night, our Vow of Poverty Paladin was escorting a boy-king through an elven forest, on the run from marauding hobgoblins and men, when they came across a fleeing elf-woman and her children. They rescued the woman and her children from their pursuers, and while speaking to the woman afterwords, found out that they had been prisoners and escaped from a human-hobgoblin encampment a few miles away where more prisoners were being kept.

The Paladin wanted to avoid the camp, as his job was to get the boy-king to safety, but the boy-king basically pulled rank, and told the Paladin that they have a responsibility to those people, and that they should attempt to rescue them.

In any case, following a map captured from one of the men they'd killed earlier, they made their way towards this encampment. Enroute, they came accross a hobgoblin patrol. Catching them by surprise, the Paladin and the boy make short work of the patrol. The last hobgoblin, knocked to 0 hitpoints, drops his weapons and surrenders. At this point, the boy is watching very carefully to see what the Paladin will do. At this time, the Paladin raises his morningstar, and brains the surrendered hobgoblin, attempting to make the death as humane as possible given the conditions.

We stopped and spoke OOC for a bit about this. The Paladin's player explained that they did not have any reliable way to detain the prisoner at this time (they had no rope or manacles), and due to their proximity to the man-hobgoblin encampment, could not risk letting the hobgoblin get a chance to warn his buddies. He still had an obligation to protect the boy, and also did not want to further endanger the prisoners kept at the camp (which they were attempting to rescue). He ended his argument by stating that he felt he had no choice.

Being the DM, a took note of his argument, and told him that I felt he was justified in the decision that he made, but to watch out in the future in case this was the beginning of a slippery slope situation.

Does this sound like the right choice in this situation?

Beelzebub1111
2010-07-04, 01:51 PM
I think you made the right choice, there. Paladins don't fall because of one action of circumstance. He couldn't let him off with a warning, because he couldn't trust the prisoner wouldn't go all Die Hard on his ass...

Sometimes you need to take prisoners and sometimes you need to bust heads.

Jack_Simth
2010-07-04, 02:06 PM
Idiot paladin. That situation is what nonlethal damage is for. If he's exactly at 0, just knock him out. He'll recover a few nonlethal every hour, and eventually wake up... but by that time, your mission will be done, one way or the other. Mercy (you didn't kill him after he surrendered), and all obligations met.

However, most people don't think like that, so yes, letting him off with a warning is fine and dandy. It's not like Paladins are forbidden to kill, after all, and it's not like Lawful governments don't occasionally execute someone.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-04, 02:13 PM
Sounds like he didn't stop to consider any other options at all. Natural materials around that could make for improvised restraints? Talking to him (Diplomacy) into being cooperative, while being sure he's on the level (Sense Motive)? Heck, as someone else mentioned nonlethal damage? It was just "No Rope? No way! *SPLAT*"

I have a certain dislike for alignment "Traps" but this seems like a really extreme case. You've got the execution of a surrendered prisoner, by not just a good character, not just a paladin, but by an exalted paladin. I certainty can't say letting him off with a warning was a bad move but it was a generous one.

Bibliomancer
2010-07-04, 02:15 PM
According to the BoED, executing prisoners is irrevocably evil, regardless of the situation, and would probably make the paladin fall (although a normal atonement would return his powers, given the trivial nature of the act itself, ASSUMING (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0464.html) he actually repented).

Given that knocking someone unconscious is always a (rather obvious option), not killing the prisoner was, pardon the pun, a no-brainer.

Other alternatives involve carrying rope (what sort of adventurer doesn't have rope? and a paladin should have rope for situations like these, especially if in the wilderness) and stowing the hobgoblin in a extradimensional carrying case (if the paladin didn't have one of these, he was too low level to be guarding a boy king).

In any case, there is a large difference between executing someone after due process in a court of law* and killing them for racially motivated reasons in the wilderness. The paladin should fall, even perhaps retroactively.

*And a lawful good government would often opt for life imprisonment, unless the prisoner was a demon or other person of irredeemable evil.

Milskidasith
2010-07-04, 02:22 PM
*And a lawful good government would often opt for life imprisonment, unless the prisoner was a demon or other person of irredeemable evil.

Not all Lawful Good is created equal. Not only that, but long term imprisonment is not always an option of the prisoner is of sufficient power.

2xMachina
2010-07-04, 02:23 PM
Stupid dice. If it has knocked to -1, this wouldn't have happened.

Meh, Paladin = suck. Go Crusader. Kill what you need to kill without need to justify.

QuantumSteve
2010-07-04, 02:27 PM
Being a Paladin is not a trivial thing. He has a terrible responsibility to live up to. (One he very well might not be able to live up to.) Furthermore, he's Exalted on top of that. Killing a helpless creature = Bad Stuff.

I'm kind of a softy and wouldn't make him permanently fall, but there's now way he'd keep his powers without atoning after a stunt like that.

Bibliomancer
2010-07-04, 02:28 PM
Not all Lawful Good is created equal. Not only that, but long term imprisonment is not always an option of the prisoner is of sufficient power.

True. However, a government run by, say, paladins with exalted feats (and thus access to the BoED), like the character in question, would almost certainly operate like this.

Most things can be overcome. Casters can be put in anti-magic fields, etc.

There are implicit exceptions for evil outsiders, undead, and aberrations.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 02:29 PM
According to the BoED,

I really hate that book.



executing prisoners is irrevocably evil, regardless of the situation, and would probably make the paladin fall (although a normal atonement would return his powers, given the trivial nature of the act itself, ASSUMING (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0464.html) he actually repented).


I don't thinks it's all that black and white. Sometimes, you can't assure the safety of the party and, in this case, the elf woman, the children and the remaining prisoners.

If they could have guaranteed the prisoner wouldn't have been a threat, sure, keep him alive, but enemy prisoners are lower on the food chain than your own guys.




Given that knocking someone unconscious is always a (rather obvious option), not killing the prisoner was, pardon the pun, a no-brainer.


A metagame option. Realistically, knocking somebody out without killing them is very uncertain, and the player might not have wanted to rely on metagame knowledge of "I do subdual damage, since I know he's at 0 HP." Hitting a guy is hitting a guy. People die from "nonlethal" weapons all the time.




Other alternatives involve carrying rope (what sort of adventurer doesn't have rope? and a paladin should have rope for situations like these, especially if in the wilderness) and stowing the hobgoblin in a extradimensional carrying case (if the paladin didn't have one of these, he was too low level to be guarding a boy king).


He has the Vow of Poverty. He's got zip for extrademensionsal storage.




In any case, there is a large difference between executing someone after due process in a court of law* and killing them for racially motivated reasons in the wilderness. The paladin should fall, even perhaps retroactively.

*And a lawful good government would often opt for life imprisonment, unless the prisoner was a demon or other person of irredeemable evil.

If you are guarding a boy king in the wilderness, chances are you don't have a big ol' support system to guard, feed, transport, imprison, try, convict and punish the prisoner.

In this case, keeping the prisoner might threaten the mission, the King, a noncombatant woman and children, and more captives of the enemy.

I'm no Paladin, but I might just whack him.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-04, 02:32 PM
Realistically, knocking somebody out without killing them is very uncertain, and the player might not have wanted to rely on metagame knowledge of "I do subdual damage, since I know he's at 0 HP." Hitting a guy is hitting a guy. People die from "nonlethal" weapons all the time.


Narratively, it always works. A swift knock to the back of the noggin' is almost certain to knock someone out for exactly the period of time the plot demands. At least in the majority media dealing with heroes & villains I've seen.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 02:33 PM
I'm no Paladin, but I might just whack him.

That's pretty much the point :p
You know how some super heroes simply don't kill their enemies, knowing they probably will cause trouble later?
Goodness is like that. Arguably you don't even have to be that much obscene on the Good side to do that.

Runeclaw
2010-07-04, 02:34 PM
Paladins don't fall because of one action of circumstance

Actually, Paladins do fall because of one willful evil action.

Was the action willful? Yes.

Was it evil? That's a harder question. I'm prepared to grant even Paladins a little "ends justify the means" wiggle room - but only a little. In this case, I think he might have overstepped it.

Taking prisoners (particularly known evil prisoners) when away from anyone who can incarcerate them for you is always a bit of a pain and can endanger you and your mission. But those are the breaks. For a Paladin, especially an exalted Paladin, this kind of convenience killing is stretching it.

Note that just because something is "the right thing to do given the circumstances" - meaning it will result in less total suffering, less total harm to innocents, etc - does not necessarily mean that it isn't, still, in and of itself, an evil action - unless you want to really open up the doors to "ends justify the means" defenses.

Forcing a decision like that on a Paladin is often considered poor form, but this doesn't seem like a trap - a clearly outmatched evil foe surrendering is a standard type of occurrence.

I think I'd go with the "falls but can be redeemed" side of things, frankly.

2xMachina
2010-07-04, 02:36 PM
And there is a problem of him alerting the presence of the boy-king to the rest when he wakes up.

Do I hear a ransom demand?

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 02:38 PM
And there is a problem of him alerting the presence of the boy-king to the rest when he wakes up.

Do I hear a ransom demand?

Again, an epitome of Good wouldn't put convenience above the Morally Right Thing. If an exalted paladin falls under such a pitfall(which I do not believe was this OP's case), then he does what he must do and falls, and later redeems for it if it can be done.

Runeclaw
2010-07-04, 02:39 PM
Sometimes, you can't assure the safety of the party and, in this case, the elf woman, the children and the remaining prisoners. If they could have guaranteed the prisoner wouldn't have been a threat, sure, keep him alive, but enemy prisoners are lower on the food chain than your own guys.

Paladins do not have the luxury of avoiding evil actions only when doing so is guaranteed to not have bad results.

Bibliomancer
2010-07-04, 02:39 PM
I really hate that book.

YMMV. It mainly exacerbates the problems inherent to the alignment system.


I don't thinks it's all that black and white. Sometimes, you can't assure the safety of the party and, in this case, the elf woman, the children and the remaining prisoners.

Actually, it is. Alignment works on black and white. Doing evil to cause good is still evil. If you don't like the alignment system, don't use it. Otherwise, you're stuck with its definitions.


If they could have guaranteed the prisoner wouldn't have been a threat, sure, keep him alive, but enemy prisoners are lower on the food chain than your own guys.

Yes, but good does not choose the lesser of two evils. Good tries to save everyone because everyone is of equal worth. In any case, how much of a threat would a 0HP hobgoblin be? Besides, hobgoblins are usually lawful (which was how he knew to surrender in the first place), so if you extract an oath to remain silent, he'd remain silent (probably).


He has the Vow of Poverty. He's got zip for extrademensionsal storage

Fair enough, I overlooked that. I'm a bit surprised that the king isn't traveling around in a lavishly appointed portable hole, though.


If you are guarding a boy king in the wilderness, chances are you don't have a big ol' support system to guard, feed, transport, imprison, try, convict and punish the prisoner.

Not right there, no. However, assuming a kingdom exists at all (which it presumably would) a jail and justice system can be jury-rigged once you return to civilization, or the prisoner could be swapped to the hobgoblins in exchange for some of their prisoners/slaves.


In this case, keeping the prisoner might threaten the mission, the King, a noncombatant woman and children, and more captives of the enemy

Very true, and yet that doesn't justify murder. It isn't easy being good.


I'm no Paladin, but I might just whack him.

As would many people in the real world. However, we don't have an all-encompassing alignment system, and so can approach things from a purely rational means and ends viewpoint.

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 02:41 PM
A paladin should be trained in the art of nonlethal subdual, for exactly this kind of situation. Killing for convenience ("oh, I don't have rope, so it's inconvenient to keep this prisoner alive") is evil. And that is the explanation the player gave for his actions, so it is fair to attach that motivation to the paladin.

Lord Vukodlak
2010-07-04, 02:50 PM
Not knowing the full circumstances of the events I can't say for certain, if it was to dangerous to leave the prisoner alive and take them with him he was probably justified. Leaving him unconscious and badly wounded in the wilderness would probably be more cruel then simply killing him. Especially after slaughtering the main camp and freeing the prisoners there.

While a paladin should not execute a prisoner that doesn't mean he has to accept all surrenders.

Had I been the Paladin I would have asked the boy-king. There is little point in keeping the prisoner alive if the Boy King is just going to order him executed as soon as the escort mission is over.

hamishspence
2010-07-04, 02:53 PM
Not right there, no. However, assuming a kingdom exists at all (which it presumably would) a jail and justice system can be jury-rigged once you return to civilization, or the prisoner could be swapped to the hobgoblins in exchange for some of their prisoners/slaves.

Very true, and yet that doesn't justify murder. It isn't easy being good.

Some people solve that by giving paladins the moral (and legal) power to hold impromptu trials on the spot- question the witness under detect lies, assess whether he's guilty of crimes that can warrant the death penalty- if he is- find him guilty and execute him.

Others might not like this kind of "Judge Dredd" paladin.

2xMachina
2010-07-04, 02:53 PM
But you're lawful! You must follow protocol! :smallwink:

Pechvarry
2010-07-04, 02:55 PM
Step 1: knock guy unconscious and run away.
Step 2: unconscious guy wakes up and wanders back to camp to alert his band.
Step 3: AN ENTIRE ARMY TELEPORTS AHEAD OF YOU, CUTS YOU OFF, KILLS YOUR BOY-KING.

I'm with the Paladin. His charge was simply too important for any risk. If it were just the Paladin's neck on the line, or even the rest of a PC party, OK. But a king is the top of the hierarchy of law, which is at least half of what a Paladin runs on.

Quirp
2010-07-04, 02:56 PM
The big problem with having the paladin fall is not that he could have problems fulfilling his mission and get redemption. Since he is an exalted charakter THERE IS NO REDEMPTION. That´s exalted: you fall and never get your feats/powers back. That can kill a campaign. I would let him keep his powers, but have a divine emissary (angel or something) manifest in front of him and tell him that, when he does anything like that again, he will be stripped of all his powers and may never rest in celestia when his time has come.

hamishspence
2010-07-04, 03:01 PM
Not true- BoED specifically states you can get Exalted feats back after Falling.

Page 20- Sin and Atonement.

"With all these criteria met, the powers of good welcome straying sheep who return to the fold, and an atonement spell subsequently cast can have its full effect: restoring a paladin's class, restoring a cleric or druid's spell powers, or restoring the benefits of exalted feats to any character"

Intentionally breaking individual Vow of X feats might permanently lose them- even if breaking the vow wasn't evil.

But losing exalted feats because of Evil acts- can be reversed.

Quirp
2010-07-04, 03:02 PM
strange
I always thought lose it once=lose it forever:smallredface:

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 03:03 PM
Step 1: knock guy unconscious and run away.
Step 2: unconscious guy wakes up and wanders back to camp to alert his band.
Step 3: AN ENTIRE ARMY TELEPORTS AHEAD OF YOU, CUTS YOU OFF, KILLS YOUR BOY-KING.

I'm with the Paladin. His charge was simply too important for any risk. If it were just the Paladin's neck on the line, or even the rest of a PC party, OK. But a king is the top of the hierarchy of law, which is at least half of what a Paladin runs on.

Step 1 is flawed. The paladin's planning on going into the camp.
Step 2 is flawed. The band will find out about the paladin when he rescues the prisoners.
Step 3 is flawed. This is a band of hobgoblins, not a city of armies and mages.

Conclusion: since the king was already determined on the risk of freeing the prisoners, there was no additional risk to knocking the goblin unconscious instead of killing him.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 03:04 PM
I think we have to look at the paladin's hierarchy of duty.

In this this case, to fulfill all his obligations, he should:

1. Guard the King. This is his assigned mission, he's presumably given his word, and this is presumably his rightful lord.

2. Protect the innocent. This is what Paladin's do. They champion those who cannot defend themselves from evil. In this case, the elven woman and kiddos.

3. Free the Other Prisoners of the Hobgoblins Innocent, defenseless, in the hands of evil captors, sure to suffer a hideous fate. Clear obligation on the Paladin to rescue them if at all possible.

4. Accept Honorable Surrender. Part of the code. Because, while we may be out mashing sentient beings with a big, heavy club with nails in it, we are, after all, civilized.


Now, do we toss numbers 1-3 in importance to satisfy number 4?

hamishspence
2010-07-04, 03:04 PM
strange
I always thought lose it once=lose it forever:smallredface:

Thankfully, no. The writers of BoED were smart abourt that, at least.

Paladins in 3.0 and earlier editions, could lose their paladinhood forever if they intentionally committed an Evil act.

But in 3.5, they dropped that, allowing you to atone for Evil acts.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 03:05 PM
Step 1: knock guy unconscious and run away.
Step 2: unconscious guy wakes up and wanders back to camp to alert his band.
Step 3: AN ENTIRE ARMY TELEPORTS AHEAD OF YOU, CUTS YOU OFF, KILLS YOUR BOY-KING.

I'm with the Paladin. His charge was simply too important for any risk. If it were just the Paladin's neck on the line, or even the rest of a PC party, OK. But a king is the top of the hierarchy of law, which is at least half of what a Paladin runs on.

I do believe if someone can even pull off teleporting an entire army, one surrendering hobgoblins prisoner is your smallest problem. Please keep to the context.

Yes, the paladin had options, yes he should pursue them. Even if they aren't the best options, no one told you Good is easy. It's in fact the hardest alignment to consistently attach yourself to.

It doesn't matter that we know through meta that nonlethal damage doesn't kill. It's know well enough in-game that there are entire spells, classes and feats dedicated to it. He would know he could conk a couple dozen points of subdual damage that would keep the hob down for a few hours, more than enough for him to get away with mr king.

Bibliomancer
2010-07-04, 03:07 PM
Some people solve that by giving paladins the moral (and legal) power to hold impromptu trials on the spot- question the witness under detect lies, assess whether he's guilty of crimes that can warrant the death penalty- if he is- find him guilty and execute him.

Others might not like this kind of "Judge Dredd" paladin.

This isn't a bad impromptu fix, although it doesn't match the spirit of an exalted paladin perfectly. However, being Judge, Jury, and Executioner could have interesting roleplaying consequences for the paladin, and might make him feared in civilized areas.


Step 1: knock guy unconscious and run away.
Step 2: unconscious guy wakes up and wanders back to camp to alert his band.
Step 3: AN ENTIRE ARMY TELEPORTS AHEAD OF YOU, CUTS YOU OFF, KILLS YOUR BOY-KING.

I'm with the Paladin. His charge was simply too important for any risk. If it were just the Paladin's neck on the line, or even the rest of a PC party, OK. But a king is the top of the hierarchy of law, which is at least half of what a Paladin runs on.

Wait, the paladin told the hobgoblin that his escort was the king? Good is not always stupid. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StupidGood) If he didn't (and one would like to think that he didn't), the hobgoblin would only report that he was accosted by a wandering paladin. Hardly something to call out the cavalry for, assuming that the hobgoblins even have an arcane detachment in their puny base camp.

Alternatively, he could have knocked the hobgoblin into next century (there is no cap on the amount of non-lethal damage you can deal to someone, and it heals at a fixed rate). As a further safeguard, he could carry the hobgoblin, given that he would have very high strength with the boost that he's getting from the Vow of Poverty.


The big problem with having the paladin fall is not that he could have problems fulfilling his mission and get redemption. Since he is an exalted charakter THERE IS NO REDEMPTION. That´s exalted: you fall and never get your feats/powers back. That can kill a campaign. I would let him keep his powers, but have a divine emissary (angel or something) manifest in front of him and tell him that, when he does anything like that again, he will be stripped of all his powers and may never rest in celestia when his time has come.

This would be a good solution, then, since it a) can occur now without any retcons on the DMs part, and b) gives the paladin a warning to avoid this in the future.

However, to ensure that the paladin doesn't get an inflated sense of his own importance, make the messenger a lantern archon (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0194.html). Heck, you could even leave it there as his tiny illuminated floating conscience.

hamishspence
2010-07-04, 03:09 PM
He can even give the hobgoblin a choice- to accept a bang on the head (and maybe get clemency when the party come back out of the camp) or a duel to the death right now.

If the hobgoblin consents to get whacked nonlethally, and the party come back out with the prisoners- the party may be able to return to town with the hobgoblin as well.

And if he willingly consented- he might get leniency- maybe hard labour, and the opportunity to redeem himself.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 03:11 PM
On the BOED:


YMMV. It mainly exacerbates the problems inherent to the alignment system.



Yeah, and that's worth $29.95 any day.

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 03:12 PM
I think we have to look at the paladin's hierarchy of duty.

In this this case, to fulfill all his obligations, he should:

1. Guard the King. This is his assigned mission, he's presumably given his word, and this is presumably his rightful lord.

2. Protect the innocent. This is what Paladin's do. They champion those who cannot defend themselves from evil. In this case, the elven woman and kiddos.

3. Free the Other Prisoners of the Hobgoblins Innocent, defenseless, in the hands of evil captors, sure to suffer a hideous fate. Clear obligation on the Paladin to rescue them if at all possible.

4. Accept Honorable Surrender. Part of the code. Because, while we may be out mashing sentient beings with a big, heavy club with nails in it, we are, after all, civilized.


Now, do we toss numbers 1-3 in importance to satisfy number 4?

Not a zero-sum game. Accepting or not accepting 4 is independent of the other 3 in this scenario.

Scarey Nerd
2010-07-04, 03:12 PM
In my opinion, this kind of act should make the Paladin fall. This wasn't just a lone enemy that posed little threat, they had surrendered at placed themselves at the Paladin's mercy. To brutally execute a prisoner is unquestionably evil for a Paladin, and should result in their loss of powers. An Atonement would bring them back on track, of course, but I think they should have fallen.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 03:13 PM
Another thing that seems to be missed in this discussion so far is the context of the hobgoblin.


If he had a camp to retreat for, what makes you think that camp wouldn't send a scout once reports stopped arriving? The hobgolin living or dieing would only change when the other camp finds out. Killing the hob would do no good, as you can buy that extra time just with nonlethal damage anyway.

The Anarresti
2010-07-04, 03:15 PM
I would say, all things considered, give him a partial punishment: not a complete fall, but the paladin must spend a year digging sewers or something unfun to atone for the sin.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 03:19 PM
Not a zero-sum game. Accepting or not accepting 4 is independent of the other 3 in this scenario.

It most certainly is not independent.

Fulfilling number 4 jeopardizes the first three. Maybe it's not impossible to fulfill all of them, but keeping kosher with the last certainly increases the chances to fail at the others.

Why should the safety of an enemy be weighed the same as the safety of friends, allies or dependents?

Ranos
2010-07-04, 03:21 PM
Meh, it's an evil act all right. I would have given the paladin a fair warning, then a fall if he went ahead with it anyway.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 03:21 PM
Why should the safety of an enemy be weighed the same as the safety of friends, allies or dependents?

Because all life is valuable. Good characters are comfortable with that concept.
If they had to choose between their friends and someone else, odds are they'd choose their friends, but this paladin didn't even have to choose. Knock the guy down for the rest of the day and he'll be done with his mission with little negative impact.

Hendel
2010-07-04, 03:22 PM
I definitely have to come down on the side that the paladin had other options, not easy ones, but they were there and he did not exercise them. He should be a fallen paladin right now. The problem for the DM might be that this does not fit with the scenario he has and going to get atoned does not seem like a viable side quest right now.

The Book of Exalted Deeds has a maturity warning on it for this reason not just because there maybe some mature pictures in it. Dealing with a prisoner in this situation is a very mature set of circumstances and requires a well thought out and justifiable solution. I think paladins also fall into the "mature" class that requires more out of player than most classes do.

I once played a paladin who was standing by the alter as a ritual was being finalized involving the rebirth of a god-demon in the form a newborn baby and the rest of the party was down or so involved that they would never make it in time to stop it. I snatched the baby and I looked at myself and I knew that I could not get away from the alter and out the door with the baby safely. I had a few hit points and resources where gone. I knew the only way to stop this was to kill the baby. I did so knowing that I was about to loose my paladinhood. I stopped the ritual, the bad guys beat me to a bloody pulp and the rest of the party had just enough time to fight some of the bad guys as the leaders ran away. All the other players said they were thinking about doing the same thing, it just sucked that it had to be me that had that dilemma and made that choice. A mature situation and I paid the consequences.

PS The paladin used "his morningstar" to kill the hobgoblin? Was it the paladin's morningstar, if so how can he have the Vow of Poverty, I thought he could only have a staff? Can the Vow of Poverty characters even use a weapon or is that restriction apply just to magic weapons?

Edit: Just recalled that it was a requirement of simple weapons and a morningstar is a simple weapon.

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 03:25 PM
It most certainly is not independent.

Fulfilling number 4 jeopardizes the first three. Maybe it's not impossible to fulfill all of them, but keeping kosher with the last certainly increases the chances to fail at the others.

Why should the safety of an enemy be weighed the same as the safety of friends, allies or dependents?

Because the whole point of a code is that it applies to people you don't like too.

I should note that irrespective of how you deal with the relative importance of duties, that isn't the explanation the player gave for his actions. As written, it's straight-up killing for convenience. The fact that it's not significantly harder to fulfill all four than just the first three, as I have explained in a previous post, shouldn't even enter the equation--but if it does, well.

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 03:30 PM
PS The paladin used "his morningstar" to kill the hobgoblin? Was it the paladin's morningstar, if so how can he have the Vow of Poverty, I thought he could only have a staff? Can the Vow of Poverty characters even use a weapon or is that restriction apply just to magic weapons?

You're limited to nonmagical/nonmasterwork simple weapons, with the example being a quarterstaff. Morningstar, mace, sickle, and spear are all okay.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 03:46 PM
The boy-king is the rightful liege of the paladin (I assume), and is certainly the closest rightful authority-figure of high enough standing to make legal decisions regarding trials, punitive measures, and so on. Were I a LG crusader in this instance (I despise paladins for myriad reasons), I would have had a quick field-trial with the king as judge and jury, the woman as witness, and myself as the executioner, if need be.

Sure, it'll end the same way, but they had a few minutes, and it would've been, if not entirely fair, at least honorable.

The Cat Goddess
2010-07-04, 04:06 PM
The boy-king is the rightful liege of the paladin (I assume), and is certainly the closest rightful authority-figure of high enough standing to make legal decisions regarding trials, punitive measures, and so on. Were I a LG crusader in this instance (I despise paladins for myriad reasons), I would have had a quick field-trial with the king as judge and jury, the woman as witness, and myself as the executioner, if need be.

Sure, it'll end the same way, but they had a few minutes, and it would've been, if not entirely fair, at least honorable.

This.

Explain the situation to the boy-King. Explain to him that this is the kind of situation that will continue to come up as the boy-King grows older. Request his orders.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 04:14 PM
The boy-king is the rightful liege of the paladin (I assume), and is certainly the closest rightful authority-figure of high enough standing to make legal decisions regarding trials, punitive measures, and so on. Were I a LG crusader in this instance (I despise paladins for myriad reasons), I would have had a quick field-trial with the king as judge and jury, the woman as witness, and myself as the executioner, if need be.

Sure, it'll end the same way, but they had a few minutes, and it would've been, if not entirely fair, at least honorable.

So... throw government at the problem and it is no longer evil? :smallamused:

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 04:16 PM
For a Lawful character, yeah.

What's the difference between dragging the prisoner back to a trial in the capital, under the King's authority, and having a quickie in-the-field trial under the King's authority?

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 04:17 PM
So... throw government at the problem and it is no longer evil? :smallamused:

Point. It's Good's trademark to do things the hard way because it's Good.

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-04, 04:18 PM
I'm not sure what options I can expect the paladin to know without metagame knowledge.

Already injured, why wouldn't getting hit more kill him? For that matter how would you know, ah he should be out for four hours and not forty minutes. Or that you would be able to accomplish the mission before the hobgoblin woke up.

So I don't think the knocking the hobgoblin out option is a nessecarily relevant alternative. Without a method to bind the guy we are left with let him go, hold him prisoner only by his own honor (stay here, or go to X town and surrender), or take him along unbound.

Arguably he should have told the hobgoblin to go somewhere he could be imprisoned and tried, or wait there. Continued the mission and take the betrayal if it occurred. He can slide just a bit on this though, albeit a little guilt-ridden dream from the paladin's divine patron wouldn't be inappropriate.

Awesome sequence of events though.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 04:20 PM
For a Lawful character, yeah.

What's the difference between dragging the prisoner back to a trial in the capital, under the King's authority, and having a quickie in-the-field trial under the King's authority?

Think about the nature of the state, here. Why does having a trial make an execution any less Evil? More lawful, perhaps. But more Good? Really?

Heliomance
2010-07-04, 04:27 PM
Because the rules say so.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 04:34 PM
I'm not sure what options I can expect the paladin to know without metagame knowledge.

Already injured, why wouldn't getting hit more kill him? For that matter how would you know, ah he should be out for four hours and not forty minutes. Or that you would be able to accomplish the mission before the hobgoblin woke up.

So I don't think the knocking the hobgoblin out option is a nessecarily relevant alternative. Without a method to bind the guy we are left with let him go, hold him prisoner only by his own honor (stay here, or go to X town and surrender), or take him along unbound.

Arguably he should have told the hobgoblin to go somewhere he could be imprisoned and tried, or wait there. Continued the mission and take the betrayal if it occurred. He can slide just a bit on this though, albeit a little guilt-ridden dream from the paladin's divine patron wouldn't be inappropriate.

Awesome sequence of events though.

He doesn't "have" to know. A couple punches would do, as brutal as it could be o.O
The point is, if he has someone to return to that is dangerous, than his death won't make it less dangerous. His patron will check the destroyed camp eventually and whatever you could avoid by killing him won't be avoided. As far as we can tell he could just bind the guy's feet to a tree(there were prisoners there. There should be makeshift binds if not good ones) to achieve the same effect of delaying said patron's rebuttal.

Gorilla2038
2010-07-04, 04:39 PM
Last night, our Vow of Poverty Paladin was escorting a boy-king through an elven forest, on the run from marauding hobgoblins and men, when they came across a fleeing elf-woman and her children. They rescued the woman and her children from their pursuers, and while speaking to the woman afterwords, found out that they had been prisoners and escaped from a human-hobgoblin encampment a few miles away where more prisoners were being kept.

The Paladin wanted to avoid the camp, as his job was to get the boy-king to safety, but the boy-king basically pulled rank, and told the Paladin that they have a responsibility to those people, and that they should attempt to rescue them.

In any case, following a map captured from one of the men they'd killed earlier, they made their way towards this encampment. Enroute, they came accross a hobgoblin patrol. Catching them by surprise, the Paladin and the boy make short work of the patrol. The last hobgoblin, knocked to 0 hitpoints, drops his weapons and surrenders. At this point, the boy is watching very carefully to see what the Paladin will do. At this time, the Paladin raises his morningstar, and brains the surrendered hobgoblin, attempting to make the death as humane as possible given the conditions.

We stopped and spoke OOC for a bit about this. The Paladin's player explained that they did not have any reliable way to detain the prisoner at this time (they had no rope or manacles), and due to their proximity to the man-hobgoblin encampment, could not risk letting the hobgoblin get a chance to warn his buddies. He still had an obligation to protect the boy, and also did not want to further endanger the prisoners kept at the camp (which they were attempting to rescue). He ended his argument by stating that he felt he had no choice.

Being the DM, a took note of his argument, and told him that I felt he was justified in the decision that he made, but to watch out in the future in case this was the beginning of a slippery slope situation.

Does this sound like the right choice in this situation?

Yes, this was a good call as a DM. With alignments-restricted characters, ive always used a check system, kept secret, a certain 'total' of evil builds up and bad things happen. This seems like a possible first step, but if he fell from this alone, Id really hope your player broke your jaw.

As the paladin, he probably did the SMARTEST thing, because dead men tell no tales, and while you can hide a body easily, it much harder to hide a KO'd enemy(without going way into the evil side at least.) Of course, very rarely is being honorable smart. But hey, mortals screw up.

Just remember: WOTC cant get rules for an imaginary system they made up correct, why should you bother to trust them on issues like morality? Let alone subjective morality, moral gray areas, or no win situations. This is the real reason alignments suck, not because they limit role-playing, but because people are too stupid to look past the two letters on there sheet and play a real person.

Luck with the Game
-G

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 04:40 PM
I'm not sure what options I can expect the paladin to know without metagame knowledge.

Already injured, why wouldn't getting hit more kill him? For that matter how would you know, ah he should be out for four hours and not forty minutes. Or that you would be able to accomplish the mission before the hobgoblin woke up.

These are things you learn by having experience knocking people out. That's not metagame, that's in-game knowledge for Paladins (and any other combat-oriented class). The only wild card is the target, so if the character never dealt with hobgoblins before he might not know how well they can take a punch, how long it takes them to recover, etc. But goblinoids are common enough that it should be well known that they aren't any tougher than humans and orcs.

Oslecamo
2010-07-04, 04:41 PM
Think about the nature of the state, here. Why does having a trial make an execution any less Evil? More lawful, perhaps. But more Good? Really?

Well, hopefully, unless that hobgoblin is proved to have been killing and eating babies, he won't exactly get executed. Perhaps he'll get sent to some jail, or to some heavy labor camp, or used as a guinea pig for the local wizard for X months, or traded by other prisioners with the hobgoblins.

If the hobgoblin does get executed just because he's an hobgoblin, then the paladin must stop for a moment to think for who's he working for exactly.

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-04, 04:47 PM
Think about the nature of the state, here. Why does having a trial make an execution any less Evil? More lawful, perhaps. But more Good? Really?

Why is an execution evil? It isn't.

Or at least has only been held to be so very recently in a moral sense. Generally under the idea that certain crimes should not be countenanced and only death is sufficient punishment for the criminal to pay for their crime. And aside from that the structure necessary for imprisonment is also fairly recent, where you put a thief when your small village has no jail much less the extra persons to guard it. You can't, so an alternate punishment is found and said thief looses a hand, is whipped, branded or whatever.

This is a real world moral/political question though, so I'll leave it as that "humane punishment" is a very subjective matter. And that a proper execution is morally neutral on good and evil as in not even on the radar, like how you always have the right to kill in self-defense. Barring certain vows and only in the context of that vow.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 04:55 PM
Think about the nature of the state, here. Why does having a trial make an execution any less Evil? More lawful, perhaps. But more Good? Really?It's more 'Good' in the sense that the rules were followed to ensure that he is, indeed, guilty of heinous crimes, and justice was meted out, rather than a quick-n-dirty execution for potential crimes committed.

And justice, righteousness, and (at times) mercy are the paladin's guiding truths. Sometimes the latter must be sacrificed in the name of the former, as not everyone can, or should, be afforded mercy.

If a lesser punishment could potentially be meted out, then so be it. However, if it was shown that the hobgoblin is an unrepentant murderer whose request for mercy and leniency was done strictly to save his own skin so he could escape justice and continue to wreak evil without remorse or consequence, then the punishment (execution) should fit the crime (murder).

Paladins are supposed to be Good. They don't have to be Nice.

Kesnit
2010-07-04, 05:03 PM
He doesn't "have" to know. A couple punches would do, as brutal as it could be o.O

IC, what is the difference between hitting someone over the head with a weapon and punching a very injured enemy in the gut? Both are likely to kill the prisoner.

Everyone who is saying "knock him unconscious" is metagaming. You all know that would work, given the hobgoblin was at 0 HP. You are also not in the situation at the time; you have hindsight.

IC, the Paladin does not know a punch will only do non-lethal and knock the hob unconscious. For all the Paladin knows (sense motive checks can fail), the hob is faking, has no intention of staying put, and plans to run back to the bandit camp as soon as the Pally and King turn their backs (or brain both of them when they turn their backs).


The point is, if he has someone to return to that is dangerous, than his death won't make it less dangerous.

Yes, it will. Bandits who are armed, armored, and waiting are much more dangerous than ones who are cooking, taking care of bodily functions, and sitting around a campfire gambling.


His patron will check the destroyed camp eventually and whatever you could avoid by killing him won't be avoided.

What does it matter if someone checks the camp after the prisoners are gone? So the camp is destroyed and everyone is gone. That's good, the prisoners are free. Sure, the bandit's patron (assuming they have one) could eventually determine who raided the camp. But by then, Pally, the King, and all the prisoners are gone - and possibly behind well fortified walls with an army to back them up.


As far as we can tell he could just bind the guy's feet to a tree(there were prisoners there.

According to the OP, there was no rope and they weren't in the camp, but on the way to it.

Oslecamo
2010-07-04, 05:10 PM
IC, what is the difference between hitting someone over the head with a weapon and punching a very injured enemy in the gut? Both are likely to kill the prisoner.


Hmm, no. You have to try hard for something like a punch to be lethal even if you're hiting someone injured, unless you're some kung fu master that trained his body to be a lethal weapon.

Hiting an injured person with a blunt metal object in the head? Now that's surely lethal.

Even if you insist that unarmed punches are some kind of extral lethal weapon, the paladin could just grapple and choke the hobgoblin untill he lost consciouness.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:10 PM
Whats the VOP paladin doing with a mace anyways? I thought the only thing they could use would be a walking stick or quarterstaff since a mace would be a material possession. If he was to have broken anything it would have been the vow but his paladin hood would be fine.

Oslecamo
2010-07-04, 05:16 PM
Whats the VOP paladin doing with a mace anyways? I thought the only thing they could use would be a walking stick or quarterstaff since a mace would be a material possession. If he was to have broken anything it would have been the vow but his paladin hood would be fine.

They're allowed one single non masterwork simple weapon. Mace doesn't break VoP.

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-04, 05:16 PM
Whats the VOP paladin doing with a mace anyways? I thought the only thing they could use would be a walking stick or quarterstaff since a mace would be a material possession. If he was to have broken anything it would have been the vow but his paladin hood would be fine.

Its within interpretation for there to be non-magical non-masterwork basic equipment like a simple weapon. Quarterstaff is the example but not sole possibility.

Knaight
2010-07-04, 05:19 PM
On the BOED:



Yeah, and that's worth $29.95 any day.

If the forum had nested quotes, this would find its way into my signature. I hate that book so much, and have little love for the alignment system to begin with.

Zen Master
2010-07-04, 05:19 PM
In my book, paladins are entitled to kill others based on race alone. Racist though that may seem. But thinking along the lines of 'you're an evil hobgoblin - if I let you live now, every living thing you murder for the rest of your life will be my responsibility' is very paladin-ish to me ... and totally justifies the characters actions.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:21 PM
Ok, got ya. That works then :-) Some people can get a little strict on it. Like my old monk had monk tattoos then went vop via storyline not munchkin. My old rm said that was breaking it if I remember right but it's not like I can remove them. I said it's not but if I lost them somehow I wouldn't try to get them back. Then a party member gave me a cloak that he made for everyone and said it would protect me but didn't tell me what it was capable of and said if I didn't accept it would be of great insult to him so I accept it but then in the next town that was ravaged by a gith assault I wrapped it around two orphans to keep them warm and left it. He also says I would have lost the vop accepting the cloak and wearing it but how it was rp i don't think it was breaking the spirit of vop. Just my opinion.

I could be getting some of his points of view wrong since that talk was awhile ago.

Kesnit
2010-07-04, 05:22 PM
Hmm, no. You have to try hard for something like a punch to be lethal even if you're hiting someone injured, unless you're some kung fu master that trained his body to be a lethal weapon.

Punching someone in the gut, especially if you are wearing armored gauntlets (VoP allows armor), has a chance of doing internal damage. Also, the hob in question is very damaged, so a blow that wouldn't kill someone healthy is more likely to do just enough damage to kill.


the paladin could just grapple and choke the hobgoblin untill he lost consciouness.

Without a Heal check, the chances of going too far are very real. This would also take a lot of time, and as others have pointed out, there was a real change the patrol would be missed.

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 05:23 PM
Everyone who is saying "knock him unconscious" is metagaming. You all know that would work, given the hobgoblin was at 0 HP. You are also not in the situation at the time; you have hindsight.

IC, the Paladin does not know a punch will only do non-lethal and knock the hob unconscious.

This is just wrong. Punches do non-lethal damage by default, and any character who has any experience in combat should know it. It's not metagaming to punch somebody out if they look like they can't take a punch (which is what somebody at 0 hp would look like). Even if they're not at 0 hp, you can just keep punching them until they go down.

You may not like it, but them's the rules. That makes it reality for the characters involved.

EDIT:

Punching someone in the gut, especially if you are wearing armored gauntlets (VoP allows armor), has a chance of doing internal damage. Also, the hob in question is very damaged, so a blow that wouldn't kill someone healthy is more likely to do just enough damage to kill.

D&D combat simply isn't that realistic. Stop trying to make it that way. It's not designed to mimic bodily harm to that degree of specificity, and you shouldn't assume that other groups will do it the way yours does.

"Internal" is not a damage type in D&D. If it was, I'd always make sure to get Resistance to Internal. :smallwink:

Prodan
2010-07-04, 05:23 PM
How do you munchkin VoP?

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:25 PM
How do you munchkin VoP?

I may have used wrong phrase but abuse or optimize.

Prodan
2010-07-04, 05:28 PM
Same question applies.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 05:30 PM
Punching someone in the gut, especially if you are wearing armored gauntlets (VoP allows armor), has a chance of doing internal damage. Also, the hob in question is very damaged, so a blow that wouldn't kill someone healthy is more likely to do just enough damage to kill. Subdual damage is a reality that trained combatants acknowledge. Heck, the vow of non-violence swims over that. There are feats for that. There is an entire prestige class for that. There are spells and weapon enchantments for that.

Yes, a trained combatant, especially one like a paladin, is very well aware that nonlethal damage doesn't kill on its own. It is not metagaming nor a stretch that said paladin would know he could keep mr hobgoblin down for a few hours with a couple well placed punches.

Kesnit
2010-07-04, 05:30 PM
This is just wrong. Punches do non-lethal damage by default, and any character who has any experience in combat should know it.

So are you claiming it is impossible to punch someone to death?


It's not metagaming to punch somebody out if they look like they can't take a punch (which is what somebody at 0 hp would look like).

Unarmed attacks doing non-lethal is a metagame concept. Hitting someone does damage. Maybe not a lot, but even a little bit can kill if the target is close enough to death.

I will grant that OOC, the player could have thought of doing the non-lethal, because the player should know that rule. But as an IC thing, the character has no way to know that punching the hob would not kill it, and reason to suspect that it would.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 05:34 PM
It's more 'Good' in the sense that the rules were followed to ensure that he is, indeed, guilty of heinous crimes, and justice was meted out, rather than a quick-n-dirty execution for potential crimes committed.

And justice, righteousness, and (at times) mercy are the paladin's guiding truths. Sometimes the latter must be sacrificed in the name of the former, as not everyone can, or should, be afforded mercy.

If a lesser punishment could potentially be meted out, then so be it. However, if it was shown that the hobgoblin is an unrepentant murderer whose request for mercy and leniency was done strictly to save his own skin so he could escape justice and continue to wreak evil without remorse or consequence, then the punishment (execution) should fit the crime (murder).

Paladins are supposed to be Good. They don't have to be Nice.

You're still killing a helpless prisoner when you don't really have to. All you've done is slapped a boy-king's brand of red tape on it, first. If anything, you've made the boy responsible for the death of a helpless being who never swore fealty or anything to him. Kind of a **** move, IMO. But very lawful. If the execution is evil without a trial, how does throwing arrogant beaurocracy at it any better? Where's the regard for intelligent life? It's justification. Not justice.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-04, 05:34 PM
So are you claiming it is impossible to punch someone to death?



Unarmed attacks doing non-lethal is a metagame concept. Hitting someone does damage. Maybe not a lot, but even a little bit can kill if the target is close enough to death.

I will grant that OOC, the player could have thought of doing the non-lethal, because the player should know that rule. But as an IC thing, the character has no way to know that punching the hob would not kill it, and reason to suspect that it would.

Except that it can't. The game rules are how the universe plays out. In the real world you can't jump into lava and swim out, no matter how tough you are. In D&D a high level character can do just do that.

Similarly, here in the real world a hefty punch to an injured gut can kill someone, in the world of D&D it can't. People would know this in game, because nobody getting punched in the gut in that fashion has ever died. They've never died because the rules, which are the only means by which events resolve in the universe don't allow it.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 05:36 PM
Ok, got ya. That works then :-) Some people can get a little strict on it. Like my old monk had monk tattoos then went vop via storyline not munchkin. My old rm said that was breaking it if I remember right but it's not like I can remove them. I said it's not but if I lost them somehow I wouldn't try to get them back. Then a party member gave me a cloak that he made for everyone and said it would protect me but didn't tell me what it was capable of and said if I didn't accept it would be of great insult to him so I accept it but then in the next town that was ravaged by a gith assault I wrapped it around two orphans to keep them warm and left it. He also says I would have lost the vop accepting the cloak and wearing it but how it was rp i don't think it was breaking the spirit of vop. Just my opinion.

I could be getting some of his points of view wrong since that talk was awhile ago.Actually, I said it was breaking your vow to use that magic cloak the party gave to you, which you accepted and used because "it was a gift." Gift or not, you can't use a magic item under any circumstances, even on behalf of someone else or because it would be rude not to.

It's fine that you gave it away, but it's breaking your vow to wear the cloak under any circumstance.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:36 PM
Same question applies.

Are you just saying that to be funny or do you really not get how it applies?

I said in my post that he was saying my monk with vop was breaking the rules by having monk tattoos before I got the vop. They aren't something you can just take off and if I had lost them somehow by a disjunction or another method I wouldn't have tried to get them back.


As for the thread if I'm right you can take a -4 to attack to due non-lethal damage. I don't think he broke a paladin code but he did have other options.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:39 PM
Actually, I said it was breaking your vow to use that magic cloak the party gave to you, which you accepted and used because "it was a gift." Gift or not, you can't use a magic item under any circumstances, even on behalf of someone else or because it would be rude not to.

It's fine that you gave it away, but it's breaking your vow to wear the cloak under any circumstance.

I disagree. They gave it to me saying it would protect me and didn't say more than that and when I refused it then they said it would greatly offend them if I didn't accept it and wear it. The DM and the party almost all agreed it wasn't breaking the spirit of the vow but the first chance I got I gave it away. A vow of poverty character can carry magical gear as a mule for example for the party and some items bestow their power just for being on your person with no activation. You wouldn't lose the vow then either or if you were giving a magical treasure to transport as a quest and just having it near you gave you bonus, you again wouldnt' lose your vow.


Sorry double post. Didn't mean to do that.

Doug Lampert
2010-07-04, 05:40 PM
In my book, paladins are entitled to kill others based on race alone. Racist though that may seem. But thinking along the lines of 'you're an evil hobgoblin - if I let you live now, every living thing you murder for the rest of your life will be my responsibility' is very paladin-ish to me ... and totally justifies the characters actions.

Of course Hobgoblins are only Often Lawful Evil, so a SUBSTANTIAL minority are of other alignments. Do LG Hobgoblins who happen to be Paladins have to kill THEMSELVES to stop the evil that's a living Hobgoblin? Or do they just have to kill the racists who say it's alright to kill on the basis of race?

Racism is EXPLICITLY listed as a LE characteristic in the PHB. The line "He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank." is in the LE description, and is nowhere found in the LG description or the Paladin's code.

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 05:40 PM
So are you claiming it is impossible to punch someone to death?

Not at all. Did you see me claim that? :smallconfused:

I said punches do nonlethal damage by default. You have to punch them REALLY HARD (taking a -4 penalty to your attack roll), have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat (or similar ability) or a Slam attack (fluffed as a punch) in order to deal lethal damage. Utilizing any of these methods, you can even use a coup de grace against a helpless opponent.

Now, I realize that in Real Life you can accidentally kill people who you hit (regardless of what type of weapon or attack you are using), but that simply DOES NOT HAPPEN IN D&D. The rules of the GAME do not support that level of realism at all.

Just because something is a game concept does not make it a metagame concept.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 05:42 PM
Isn't there a rule saying if you do twice their hit points in non-lethal damage that they die? It might be another game system I'm thinking about but if that is the case then it's possible to kill with non-lethal

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 05:43 PM
Isn't there a rule saying if you do twice their hit points in non-lethal damage that they die? It might be another game system I'm thinking about but if that is the case then it's possible to kill with non-lethal

There's no such rule in D&D.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 05:45 PM
No such rule. In d&d you can stack as many damage as youcan on that side without killing the person. In fact, killing a person with nonlethal damage involves doing so much nonlethal damage that she starves to death before waking up.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 05:45 PM
You're still killing a helpless prisoner when you don't really have to. All you've done is slapped a boy-king's brand of red tape on it, first. If anything, you've made the boy responsible for the death of a helpless being who never swore fealty or anything to him. Kind of a **** move, IMO. But very lawful. If the execution is evil without a trial, how does throwing arrogant beaurocracy at it any better? Where's the regard for intelligent life? It's justification. Not justice.The king and the lords he presides over are the font of justice in a monarchy. It's their jobs to lead, and to lead according to the law. Frequently this means dispensing just punishments according to the law.

Lawful execution isn't evil in and of itself, if the law itself is relatively fair and those dispensing justice according to the law are fair with how they interpret it. Ensuring that an accused murderer is indeed guilty, pronouncing sentence, then carrying through is not evil unless the accused is being framed (or there are massively extenuating circumstances) and those in charge of 'justice' are in on the plot.

This is the boy's job, and as his vassal, the paladin knows and accepts this. If he didn't, the boy wouldn't be his liege, and he wouldn't be beholden to him, now, would he?

You see this as 'killing = murder.' It's not. Unlawful killing is murder, and murder is considered evil. But even murder isn't evil. It's unlawful.

And when is a prisoner about to be hanged, or gassed, or beheaded, NOT effectively helpless? A man headed for the electric chair doesn't get a weapon to defend himself with, first.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-04, 05:46 PM
Isn't there a rule saying if you do twice their hit points in non-lethal damage that they die? It might be another game system I'm thinking about but if that is the case then it's possible to kill with non-lethal

It's a popular house rule, one of my DMs uses it. Got kind of annoying when my minimum damage was more than twice the max HP of the weaker minions.

Rama
2010-07-04, 05:50 PM
I think everyone (in general) is looking at this situation from the wrong point of view - and it's a disagreement I have with 99% of threads about paladins and falling. It comes to this, imo: whether a paladin falls or not should not depend on the paladin's performance as compared to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good, but rather should fall under what that paladin's god believes to be right under the circumstances. The paladin's power comes from his god; therefore, only his god should determine whether he falls, and that determination should come from that god's perspective.

So let's assume the paladin's god is Heironeous. Since Heironeous's primary attributes seem to be law, chivalry and honor, I could realistically see that killing a surrendered foe would go against what he stands for and would be the start of a fall for the paladin.

Now let's assume the god is instead Pelor. Less concerned with law and chivalric behavior, more with the good outcome - I could see an evil surrendered foe, who realistically would be executed in the end anyway, being put to death on the spot without any problem.

But in the end, thats the lens you should view it through. How much does the act go against the god's teachings? Otherwise you're potentially levying the harshest punishment possible against a paladin for doing something his god would actually approve of. Which just doesn't make any kind of sense.

That's how I DM paladins, anyway.

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 05:50 PM
It's a popular house rule

Not to sound self-important or anything, but I've never even heard of that as a house rule before. At least, I don't recall anybody making a thread about it in the last 3 years, nor has anyone in my group ever mentioned anything like it.

Fenrazer
2010-07-04, 05:51 PM
Hard call. I do feel that it is an evil act because he was just dancing around convenience and didn't feel like a few skill rolls to find alternative restraints, and while he didn't want the noncombatants to be jeopardized, it sounds like he was marching right back to the camp with them in his posse.

I'm really just saying what has been said already: Nonlethal damage.

Still, if every ones going for the whole just-war thing, technically your Paladin, who is the bestest of the righteous LG, should walk forward a day ahead of his attack, announce his presence and warn them to let the remaining prisoners go and to clear all noncombatants of the enemies own, as that is what the just war terms are. I doubt many go as far as to do real just war-stuff, so I think it is fudge-able. I think a visit from a Celestial with a choir of angels that tell him to "KNOCK IT OFF!!!!!" would also be appropriate and a bit humorous.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 05:52 PM
I think everyone (in general) is looking at this situation from the wrong point of view - and it's a disagreement I have with 99% of threads about paladins and falling. It comes to this, imo: whether a paladin falls or not should not depend on the paladin's performance as compared to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good, but rather should fall under what that paladin's god believes to be right under the circumstances. The paladin's power comes from his god; therefore, only his god should determine whether he falls, and that determination should come from that god's perspective.

So let's assume the paladin's god is Heironeous. Since Heironeous's primary attributes seem to be law, chivalry and honor, I could realistically see that killing a surrendered foe would go against what he stands for and would be the start of a fall for the paladin.

Now let's assume the god is instead Pelor. Less concerned with law and chivalric behavior, more with the good outcome - I could see an evil surrendered foe, who realistically would be executed in the end anyway, being put to death on the spot without any problem.

But in the end, thats the lens you should view it through. How much does the act go against the god's teachings? Otherwise you're potentially levying the harshest punishment possible against a paladin for doing something his god would actually approve of. Which just doesn't make any kind of sense.

That's how I DM paladins, anyway.Paladins don't require gods, and sometimes the gods in this or that campaign setting are such bastards that paladins are well above them on the righteousness scale.

This may work as a houserule, but the OP (and some of the rest of us) don't play with that houserule.

Sliver
2010-07-04, 05:53 PM
A vow of poverty character can carry magical gear as a mule for example for the party and some items bestow their power just for being on your person with no activation. You wouldn't lose the vow then either or if you were giving a magical treasure to transport as a quest and just having it near you gave you bonus, you again wouldnt' lose your vow.

Well, for a houserule it's your business. But as for RAW, you are wrong. You have to wear the cloak to benefit from it. You are not just carrying it, but you are using a magical item body slot to gain benefits from it.


You may wear simple clothes (usually just a homespun robe, possibly also including a hat and sandals) with no magical properties.
...
You may not, however, “borrow” a cloak of resistance or any other magic item from a companion for even a single round, nor may you yourself cast a spell from a scroll, wand, or staff.

Furthermore, any item you benefit from just by being near it is explicitly called out as OK, because you aren't owning it, so it counts as if someone else uses it on your behalf.


You may not use any magic item of any sort, though you can benefit from magic items used on your behalf

Coidzor
2010-07-04, 05:53 PM
Punching someone in the gut, especially if you are wearing armored gauntlets (VoP allows armor), has a chance of doing internal damage. Also, the hob in question is very damaged, so a blow that wouldn't kill someone healthy is more likely to do just enough damage to kill.

Not by DND Rules! :smallbiggrin:

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 05:56 PM
I think a visit from a Celestial with a choir of angels that tell him to "KNOCK IT OFF!!!!!" would also be appropriate and a bit humorous.

I'm in favor of sending down a Lantern Archon to audit the Paladin's behavior to determine whether he should fall or not. That way we can eliminate instantaneous falls for all but the most obviously Evil acts.

Plus, I'm trying to imagine a Lantern Archon following the group around holding a clipboard and it's HILARIOUS. :smallamused::smallbiggrin:

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 05:58 PM
The king and the lords he presides over are the font of justice in a monarchy. It's their jobs to lead, and to lead according to the law. Frequently this means dispensing just punishments according to the law.

Lawful execution isn't evil in and of itself, if the law itself is relatively fair and those dispensing justice according to the law are fair with how they interpret it. Ensuring that an accused murderer is indeed guilty, pronouncing sentence, then carrying through is not evil unless the accused is being framed (or there are massively extenuating circumstances) and those in charge of 'justice' are in on the plot.

This is the boy's job, and as his vassal, the paladin knows and accepts this. If he didn't, the boy wouldn't be his liege, and he wouldn't be beholden to him, now, would he?

You see this as 'killing = murder.' It's not. Unlawful killing is murder, and murder is considered evil. But even murder isn't evil. It's unlawful.

And when is a prisoner about to be hanged, or gassed, or beheaded, NOT effectively helpless? A man headed for the electric chair doesn't get a weapon to defend himself with, first.

So by your logic, Law/Chaos determines Good/Evil? I don't think that's a standard that the DnD alignment system follows. To me, you're making an excellent argument for why this action is lawful.

I didn't say murder. I said kill. But by your logic, the king could order the paladin to make assassinations on enemy politicians, and it wouldn't be evil. Is the boy-king even of age yet? Or is he a more of a "crown-prince" with a regent? King or not, the paladin is delegating responsibility to a boy. Is this territory even ruled by this monarchy? Laws do not dictate morality. If DnD Good is defined by mercy and a respect for life, then that's what good is, irrelevant of any law or chaos. Disregarding these concepts and killing a helpless prisoner for trivial convenience is Evil. Red tape and a horsecrap trial won't change that.

Rama
2010-07-04, 05:58 PM
Paladins don't require gods, and sometimes the gods in this or that campaign setting are such bastards that paladins are well above them on the righteousness scale.

This may work as a houserule, but the OP (and some of the rest of us) don't play with that houserule.

True paladin's don't require gods, but realistically most paladins do have gods.

And for the second, how does it make sense for a paladin of a god to be doing things that that god doesn't approve of? Isn't he supposed to be the pure representative of that god in the realm? If the god thinks that all orcs should die on sight, and the paladin goes around sparing orcs and taking them prisoner, how does that make sense? It doesn't, to me.

Fenrazer
2010-07-04, 06:02 PM
I'm in favor of sending down a Lantern Archon to audit the Paladin's behavior to determine whether he should fall or not. That way we can eliminate instantaneous falls for all but the most obviously Evil acts.

Plus, I'm trying to imagine a Lantern Archon following the group around holding a clipboard and it's HILARIOUS. :smallamused::smallbiggrin:

Hahaha. Nice with eh clipboard visual. Reminds me of the note pad Officer Angel had out in Hot Fuzz

Maybe it was ripped off of something before, but a DM of mine in SRUN used something he called the Great Cow Spirit. Sorry, GM, had a Three strike system for characters that got too far from their character, or tried to go outside the parameters of the game. First alarm was a earth shaking "Moo". Second was a manifestation of a Longhorn head actually screaming "Knock it off". Third wasn't humorous: just put varying penalties on you depending on what you did.

Nobody ever messed with the Great Cow.

FMArthur
2010-07-04, 06:05 PM
This whole topic is about submission to the Batman School of Pride and Self-Righteousness Over Practicality and Lasting Peace. It takes a contrived set of circumstances to make a hero who refuses to kill when he must actually not cause more problems. Even the Batman series doesn't do such a thing; innocents of Gotham and the world repeatedly suffer the consequences of Batman's childrens' fantasy philosophy on killing. Your paladin did the right thing.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 06:12 PM
So by your logic, Law/Chaos determines Good/Evil? I don't think that's a standard that the DnD alignment system follows. To me, you're making an excellent argument for why this action is lawful.

I didn't say murder. I said kill. But by your logic, the king could order the paladin to make assassinations on enemy politicians, and it wouldn't be evil. Is the boy-king even of age yet? Or is he a more of a "crown-prince" with a regent? King or not, the paladin is delegating responsibility to a boy. Is this territory even ruled by this monarchy? Laws do not dictate morality. If DnD Good is defined by mercy and a respect for life, then that's what good is, irrelevant of any law or chaos. Disregarding these concepts and killing a helpless prisoner for trivial convenience is Evil. Red tape and a horsecrap trial won't change that.Are the laws of the land he is beholden to just? If so, he should make every attempt to follow them when they apply.

If they are not just? He should make every attempt to overturn them for better laws.

Is the king he follows well-versed in the laws of the land he is sworn to uphold, and does he follow them like a good king should? If so, he should be glad to follow the boy's lead, giving advice, guidance, and tutelage when possible.

If not, he should teach him.

Is the boy intelligent, wise, and knowledgeable enough to make decisions as king? If so, he should follow the lad's lead and turn his eye to where it will do the most good.

If not? He shouldn't be king; the paladin should make efforts to find a regent to rule in the meantime, even if that means he must take the mantle for himself until such a time as the boy can rule in more than just name.

Obviously the law and the boy he follows are worthy of his allegiance; otherwise, he wouldn't follow them. Since they are worthy of a paladin's honor, he is to give the law, and the king, every opportunity to see justice through to the end.

And yes, in a world of black and white morality, this means he can, will, and often must see that executions are carried out. It's not like killing is wrong in D&D. Paladins do it all the time.

Fenrazer
2010-07-04, 06:12 PM
This whole topic is about submission to the Batman School of Pride and Self-Righteousness Over Practicality and Lasting Peace. It takes a contrived set of circumstances to make a hero who refuses to kill when he must actually not cause more problems. Even the Batman series doesn't do such a thing; innocents of Gotham and the world repeatedly suffer the consequences of Batman's childrens' fantasy philosophy on killing. Your paladin did the right thing.

Definitely. On the subtopic of righteous kills/executions (and even holding to your DC model) is Superman. His most difficult-to-live-with call was having to execute Zod, Ursa and Non when he had no other decision, and if anybody is LG its Superman.


True paladin's don't require gods, but realistically most paladins do have gods.

Agreed. If someone had a Pally, I wouldn't allow it to hit play without them selecting a deity. Paladins are in for a cause, and I wanted it to be crystal clear what their cause was. They could go Blackguard, sure, but there had to be a foundation that they were well acquainted with, if only for the sake of keeping within the bounds of their alignment.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 06:14 PM
This whole topic is about submission to the Batman School of Pride and Self-Righteousness Over Practicality and Lasting Peace. It takes a contrived set of circumstances to make a hero who refuses to kill when he must actually not cause more problems. Even the Batman series doesn't do such a thing; innocents of Gotham and the world repeatedly suffer the consequences of Batman's childrens' fantasy philosophy on killing. Your paladin did the right thing.
Oh, look, there's the main squad of hobgoblins coming there. They are worried no one came with the messages from the front camp, oh my what is this carnage?

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 06:22 PM
Are the laws of the land he is beholden to just? If so, he should make every attempt to follow them when they apply.

If they are not just? He should make every attempt to overturn them for better laws.

Is the king he follows well-versed in the laws of the land he is sworn to uphold, and does he follow them like a good king should? If so, he should be glad to follow the boy's lead, giving advice, guidance, and tutelage when possible.

If not, he should teach him.

Is the boy intelligent, wise, and knowledgeable enough to make decisions as king? If so, he should follow the lad's lead and turn his eye to where it will do the most good.

If not? He shouldn't be king; the paladin should make efforts to find a regent to rule in the meantime, even if that means he must take the mantle for himself until such a time as the boy can rule in more than just name.

Obviously the law and the boy he follows are worthy of his allegiance; otherwise, he wouldn't follow them. Since they are worthy of a paladin's honor, he is to give the law, and the king, every opportunity to see justice through to the end. Well said. I could argue why executions are inherently unjust, but that's subjective.



And yes, in a world of black and white morality, this means he can, will, and often must see that executions are carried out. It's not like killing is wrong in D&D. Paladins do it all the time. Then why is the killing of a helpless intelligent being even brought up? I think we can agree that a king's sanction on something doesn't change the morality of an action in and of itself.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 06:24 PM
Well said. I could argue why executions are inherently unjust, but that's subjective.Thank you.


Then why is the killing of a helpless intelligent being even brought up? I think we can agree that a king's sanction on something doesn't change the morality of an action in and of itself.Frankly, because the BoED sucks ass, and should be taken with a heaping gallon of salt.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 06:30 PM
Well said. I could argue why executions are inherently unjust, but that's subjective.

Then why is the killing of a helpless intelligent being even brought up? I think we can agree that a king's sanction on something doesn't change the morality of an action in and of itself.

The idea is that legitimate authority can make the decision.

If a police officer sees a murder, confronts the murderer, and the guy drops his weapon, the officer isn't supposed to shoot him down on the street. But if he arrests the man, and after a trial the state decides to execute the man, then is that different?

The idea of a trial before punishment is a foundation of most societies. Does it make the execution morally better?

I dunno. I'm not a very lawful individual, so I really don't a strong opinion on trials. I think the accused should be entitled to a defense, and the prosecution should have to prove his guilt, but if the crime is clearly witnessed, then I'm all for saving the taxpayers some money.

Jorda75
2010-07-04, 06:33 PM
I believe you did make the right decision, but my paladin ran into a very similar situation. He decided to break the monsters ankle and leave him to his fate, his enemy could not get to his home base to warn them and it did not involve directly killing the opponent. My paladin informed him that if he stayed here and stayed hidden he would return to heal his wound and set him free. Some in the group said it was more cruel to leave him there but I and the DM both felt it was a justifiable solution to a tricky problem.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 06:33 PM
The idea is that legitimate authority can make the decision.



No such thing, man. :smallbiggrin:

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 06:35 PM
I'm not likely to argue.

But, as I've said, they're unlikely to let me into Paladin School.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 06:35 PM
The idea is that legitimate authority can make the decision.

If a police officer sees a murder, confronts the murderer, and the guy drops his weapon, the officer isn't supposed to shoot him down on the street. But if he arrests the man, and after a trial the state decides to execute the man, then is that different?

The idea of a trial before punishment is a foundation of most societies. Does it make the execution morally better?

I dunno. I'm not a very lawful individual, so I really don't a strong opinion on trials. I think the accused should be entitled to a defense, and the prosecution should have to prove his guilt, but if the crime is clearly witnessed, then I'm all for saving the taxpayers some money.The idea is that legitimate authority is legitimate for a reason. The law is just, the king follows the law, and the paladin follows both the king and the law he represents. If the king, and the law, are worthy of a paladin, then he should follow the law where it leads, even if that is to a lawful execution.

Remember, it's not a corrupt law he follows; otherwise he should refuse to follow it. He's a paladin; it's the very nature of his being to enforce the rules for the betterment of all, and that requires punishment where it's due.

Someone has to uphold what is lawful and right; if not the king paladin and his faithful paladin king, then whom?

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 06:37 PM
On the topic of nonlethal damage as a metagame concept: I repeat, a paladin should be trained in the art of nonlethal subdual for exactly this sort of situation. And an entirely non-metagaming way to handle this would be for the paladin to take stock of the goblin's vitals after knocking him out--making a Heal check to stabilize in case of lethal damage, as it were.

On the topic of asking the boy king for instructions: That's a LN outlook. A LG character should not shove the hard moral decision onto a child just because the child is above him in the societal hierarchy. Indeed, the paladin should use this as a teaching moment in practical mercy. Part of the reason a trial before execution is more morally acceptable is that it reduces the chance of making a misinformed decision; but the king has no more information here than the paladin. Indeed, the king has less, since the paladin has the benefit of more life experience.

Khellendross
2010-07-04, 06:38 PM
I agree with what has been said about paladins following orders and law but I don't think it's as clear cut as you make it out to be. Yes he would be justified in his actions since his king ordered it but if he follows a Diety then that takes code over that of a mortal king and he wouldn't have to obey, respect yes, but not obey the laws of a kingdom he isn't apart of. More so if it's run by a evil tyrant.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 06:41 PM
On the topic of asking the boy king for instructions: That's a LN outlook. A LG character should not shove the hard moral decision onto a child just because the child is above him in the societal hierarchy. Indeed, the paladin should use this as a teaching moment in practical mercy.A king must make incredibly difficult decisions, even in the best of times. He leads where others follow. He must make decisions that can, and sometimes will, lead to others dying.

You cannot coddle a prince in trying to spare him the tough decisions until he is older. Someone with that much responsibility must be given responsibility, and guidance, from early on. Otherwise, you end with a weak king, who is unable to make the difficult decisions required of him for the rest of his life.

Yes, teaching someone mercy and clemency is Good. But too much mercy leads to authority that nobody respects because everyone knows they can get away with anything if the route of mercy is ALWAYS taken. Too much kindness, and a soft hand always, can destroy the foundation upon which the law sits, and if that foundation crumbles, it does no Good for anyone.

Mike_G
2010-07-04, 06:43 PM
On nonlethal damage:

Yes, by RAW, there's no way to kill someone by accident when knocking him out.

In reality, it doesn't matter that you are a trained combatant, physical harm to a person can be fatal. Stuff happens. Been trained as a Marine and a Paramedic, and I would not bet the farm on being able to knock someone out without a chance of killing him.

Choking someone out takes very little time, but they come back around pretty quick. The standard Princess Bride "whack the guy on the head with the pommel" is risky.

So, I think the idea of "Just do subdual damage" is metagame. I won't argue any more, since RAW supports the opposite, but I think the rules are a pale mockery of physics used to adjudicate encounters, not the actual way a D&D world works.

Math_Mage
2010-07-04, 06:47 PM
A king must make incredibly difficult decisions, even in the best of times. He leads where others follow. He must make decisions that can, and sometimes will, lead to others dying.

You cannot coddle a prince in trying to spare him the tough decisions until he is older. Someone with that much responsibility must be given responsibility, and guidance, from early on. Otherwise, you end with a weak king, who is unable to make the difficult decisions required of him for the rest of his life.

Then the solution would be to leave the final decision to the king, but advise mercy. Seems the best way to fulfill both sides of the argument. No?

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 06:51 PM
So, I think the idea of "Just do subdual damage" is metagame. I won't argue any more, since RAW supports the opposite, but I think the rules are a pale mockery of physics used to adjudicate encounters, not the actual way a D&D world works.

This is so true. I mean, nowhere in the rulebook is mentioned the rear-naked choke (which is perhaps the most effective form of submission, and potentially lethal). The DnD rules are, however, quick and easy. So I like em.

But regardless of this, a pommel whack or RNC is probably less likely to kill your foe than a sword to the gut. So using such tactics are probably best when you don't want to kill the opponent.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 06:57 PM
Then the solution would be to leave the final decision to the king, but advise mercy. Seems the best way to fulfill both sides of the argument. No?Indeed. The question is where to stop, however. You can't be too soft; otherwise, the law doesn't work.

Though sometimes a mercifully quick execution is more merciful than the distressingly frequent death-by-torture that many European countries had in, say, the Dark Ages.

Note that I did call for a trial, quick though it may be. The hobgoblin would be allowed to speak in his own defense, and if some major evidence in his favor ceased to make an appearance, a mercifully quick kill would be an appropriate measure (if not the only appropriate measure) to take.

Letting the hobgoblin go, however, is pretty much completely off the table unless something remarkable happens. A quick detect evil/detect good combo is circumstantial at best, but if he pings as Good (or at least non-Evil), it would favor his case, at least a little. If he pings as Evil, it's not enough to kill him just with that, but it certainly would cast suspicion on any claims of innocence he may make.

(Let's just hope he carries around a lead sheet, for his sake.)

Jorda75
2010-07-04, 07:06 PM
I think I might make a house rule that at level 5 Paladins get to do non-lethal damage with a normal weapon without the -4 penalty, just for the hell of it :smallbiggrin:

Ravens_cry
2010-07-04, 07:21 PM
I think I might make a house rule that at level 5 Paladins get to do non-lethal damage with a normal weapon without the -4 penalty, just for the hell of it :smallbiggrin:
Not a bad idea. Call it "Mercies Strike" mayhap.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 07:23 PM
Not a bad idea. Call it "Mercies Strike" mayhap.They should be able to do this at level 1. Sure, it's another thing that frontloads them, but it's not like it's a huge thing anyway, and it'll help the paladin be 'merciful' when the situation calls for it.

sooperspook
2010-07-04, 07:26 PM
Paladin should have fallen.
No scratch that, the GM should have warned the player that the paladin would fall if he did that.

Doesn't have a choice? What utter twaddle.

Does the hobgoblin have a shirt/cloak? Tear it up and make bindings.

Knock him out with subdual damage. (Those of you saying that a TRAINED WARRIOR doesn't know how to knock someone out without killing them should go talk to a martial artist or military personnel some time)

A Paladin NEVER takes the easy or convenient way out. If you do you aren't a Paladin, you're a LG Cleric or Fighter.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 07:31 PM
Knock him out with subdual damage. (Those of you saying that a TRAINED WARRIOR doesn't know how to knock someone out without killing them should go talk to a martial artist or military personnel some time)


A trained military person (and a paramedic) has already weighed in on this and has given a contrary opinion. But it doesn't have much bearing on the argument. Like I said before, it counts if you at least TRY to knock him out via a pommel whack rather than run him through.

FatR
2010-07-04, 08:00 PM
Dropping one's weapons in the heat of mortal combat because you feel that you've lost is not a "get out of smiting free" card. When it is (like in superhero comics), this explicitly serves no other purpose except to make good guys ineffectual beyond short term.

That said, in this situation knocking the enemy out might have been sufficient. So, I believe the GM's reaction, as described in the OP, was appropriate.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:07 PM
Dropping one's weapons in the heat of mortal combat because you feel that you've lost is not a "get out of smiting free" card. When it is (like in superhero comics), this explicitly serves no other purpose except to make good guys ineffectual beyond short term.

That said, in this situation knocking the enemy out might have been sufficient. So, I believe the GM's reaction, as described in the OP, was appropriate.

Is this lone hobgoblin going to be a threat to either the king or the paladin in the future if he's knocked out and left alone? Probably not unless he's a particularly capable and/or influential hobgoblin. The "long term" effect is probably rather inconsequential in this case.

Edit: Does Batman continually throw the badguys in Arkham just for them to break out and reak havok again? Yes. But Batman is not responsible for the security in Arkham.

Lycanthromancer
2010-07-04, 08:15 PM
Is this lone hobgoblin going to be a threat to either the king or the paladin in the future if he's knocked out and left alone? Probably not unless he's a particularly capable and/or influential hobgoblin. The "long term" effect is probably rather inconsequential in this case.

Edit: Does Batman continually throw the badguys in Arkham just for them to break out and reak havok again? Yes. But Batman is not responsible for the security in Arkham.Everyone would've been better off if he'd designed his own asylum and thrown them all in there himself.

He hasn't killed them, and they had their chances to try for sanity back in Arkham. If they want to keep escaping and committing crime (up to and including mass murders, for some of them), and if the regular authorities can't hold them in check, he's already made the decision to take authority into his own hands (and he's really, really good at it). He doesn't want to kill them (for his own, albeit shaky, sanity), so the next best thing is to toss 'em in something that's damned near impossible to escape from. He's the goddamned Batman; he could do it if anyone could.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:16 PM
Everyone would've been better off if he'd designed his own asylum and thrown them all in there himself.

He hasn't killed them, and they had their chances to try for sanity back in Arkham. If they want to keep escaping and committing crime (up to and including mass murders, for some of them), and if the regular authorities can't hold them in check, he's already made the decision to take authority into his own hands (and he's really, really good at it). He doesn't want to kill them (for his own, albeit shaky, sanity), so the next best thing is to toss 'em in something that's damned near impossible to escape from. He's the goddamned Batman; he could do it if anyone could.

Agreed, but then each villain would only get one comic issue. :smallbiggrin:

woodenbandman
2010-07-04, 08:17 PM
I don't understand why a guy surrendering automatically makes it wrong to kill him. The guy was trying his hardest to kill the paladin, and all of a sudden he drops his weapon and he's protected from death by the Powers That Be? What is this, Predator? Are paladins only allowed to kill people that are ACTIVELY trying to kill them? By this standard, it'd be evil to kill hitler in his sleep, the day before he rises to power.

Paladin made a choice, it's not by any stretch of my imagination an evil choice, so i'd say that he's fine.

KillianHawkeye
2010-07-04, 08:18 PM
Can we at least agree, assuming it was even possible, that there's a difference between accidentally killing someone while trying to knock them out and intentionally executing them?

EDIT:

By this standard, it'd be evil to kill hitler in his sleep, the day before he rises to power.

That actually would be evil if Hitler hadn't done anything wrong by that point. Even if he was already a maniacal mass-murderer before he rose to power then you're still killing a dude in his sleep, which is still evil. People would probably applaud it, but you'd need to get someone who wasn't a paladin to do the job.

On the other hand, if Hitler was a Pit Fiend like he was in my friend's Shadowrun game, then a paladin has the full authority to smite him. He still probably shouldn't do it when the guy is sleeping, though.

Agrippa
2010-07-04, 08:20 PM
Agreed, but then each villain would only get one comic issue. :smallbiggrin:

Except for Catwoman, Anarky and the Penguin.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:21 PM
I don't understand why a guy surrendering automatically makes it wrong to kill him. The guy was trying his hardest to kill the paladin, and all of a sudden he drops his weapon and he's protected from death by the Powers That Be? What is this, Predator? Are paladins only allowed to kill people that are ACTIVELY trying to kill them? By this standard, it'd be evil to kill hitler in his sleep, the day before he rises to power. Well, yeah. That's kind of the point. The opponent who has surrendered is helpless and is no longer opposing you. This is DnD so take it with a grain of salt, but surely you understand why it is illegal to kill an unarmed person pleading for their life in the real world, right?



Paladin made a choice, it's not by any stretch of my imagination an evil choice, so i'd say that he's fine.

Yes, but the question is: why?

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:22 PM
Can we at least agree, assuming it was even possible, that there's a difference between accidentally killing someone while trying to knock them out and intentionally executing them?

I agree completely.

woodenbandman
2010-07-04, 08:25 PM
Well, yeah. That's kind of the point. The opponent who has surrendered is helpless and is no longer opposing you. This is DnD so take it with a grain of salt, but surely you understand why it is illegal to kill an unarmed person pleading for their life in the real world, right?


If an assassin came into your house and tried to kill you, then surrendered when you kicked his ass, I'm pretty sure you'd still Get Out Of Jail Free if you killed him, no matter who witnessed the event.

Besides, Killing a helpless opponent is not something you can fall for. AT MOST I'd require that you pay to have them resurrected, and ONLY then if they were deserving of redemption, IE they weren't trying to kill you or any innocents.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 08:26 PM
I don't understand why a guy surrendering automatically makes it wrong to kill him. The guy was trying his hardest to kill the paladin, and all of a sudden he drops his weapon and he's protected from death by the Powers That Be? What is this, Predator? Are paladins only allowed to kill people that are ACTIVELY trying to kill them?
Paladin made a choice, it's not by any stretch of my imagination an evil choice, so i'd say that he's fine.


Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.


MERCY
For good characters who devote their lives to hunting and exterminating the forces of evil, evil’s most seductive lure may be the abandonment of mercy. Mercy means giving quarter to enemies who surrender and treating criminals and prisoners with compassion and even kindness. It is, in effect, the good doctrine of respect for life taken to its logical extreme—respecting and
honoring even the life of one’s enemy. In a world full of enemies who show no respect for life whatsoever, it can be extremely tempting to treat foes as they have treated others, to exact revenge for slain comrades and innocents, to offer no quarter and become merciless.
The guy is a paladin. A bastion of the good and the just. It is also part of honorable combat to show mercy to those who surrender. The fact the enemy didn't play fair doesn't automatically make it honorable to ignore such plead. Note that the hobgoblin never tried to break such plead. The paladin didn't even give him the time to do so. If the paladin cares about this type of etiquette, he's in the wrong for having killed that hob.

So if a character truly wants to be a paragon of honor, order and good, he's going to go through these tough calls.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:28 PM
If an assassin came into your house and tried to kill you, then surrendered when you kicked his ass, I'm pretty sure you'd still Get Out Of Jail Free if you killed him, no matter who witnessed the event.



No. I probably wouldn't and shouldn't. Maybe the charge would be lessened to manslaughter, but I'm still going to prison. It's not self defense at that point.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-04, 08:30 PM
I don't understand why a guy surrendering automatically makes it wrong to kill him. The guy was trying his hardest to kill the paladin, and all of a sudden he drops his weapon and he's protected from death by the Powers That Be? What is this, Predator? Are paladins only allowed to kill people that are ACTIVELY trying to kill them?
You are Paladin, you serve justice AND mercy. Yes. If you are worried of them interfering with your mission, non-lethal damage exists for a reason.

By this standard, it'd be evil to kill hitler in his sleep, the day before he rises to power.


Paladin made a choice, it's not by any stretch of my imagination an evil choice, so i'd say that he's fine.
It would be, unless you already knew what you knew what he was going to do. Time Travel makes everything screwy, so let's leave such distracting questions aside. You do not know what the guy will do for certain. Maybe they really are surrendering, you can't know they aren't, unless they have shown a personal history of taking advantage of such mercy.

Hallavast
2010-07-04, 08:32 PM
I would throw Hitler in Arkham.

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-04, 08:33 PM
Can we at least agree, assuming it was even possible, that there's a difference between accidentally killing someone while trying to knock them out and intentionally executing them?

I'd agree there's a difference, unfortunately I'd also say that killing accidentially when trying to not do so is in fact worse. That's criminal negligance and/or manslaughter you see. The other has well established allowances within ethics.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-04, 08:34 PM
I would throw Hitler in Arkham.
Hitler apparently used a lot of foul dealings to get into power. If you are the Worlds Greatest Detective, I am sure you could find and prove something worth time in the slammer.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-04, 08:35 PM
I think one thing that people may be missing is that being genuinely Good is much harder than any other alignment. Being Good implies selflessness, and respect for the others. If it doesn't apply even to those you don't like, it's not Good. (One of the mentioned examples of neutral is exactly that: being good and selfless to people you like only). A Good character is in for a hard time.

As it was displayed here and in other threads, the best course of action sometimes just isn't the Good course of action, and good characters have to make do with the Good course of action, lest they carry the burden of doing something they regret.

The Glyphstone
2010-07-04, 08:43 PM
*eats Godwin's Law-flavored popcorn*

sooperspook
2010-07-04, 09:00 PM
No. I probably wouldn't and shouldn't. Maybe the charge would be lessened to manslaughter, but I'm still going to prison. It's not self defense at that point.

Here in Australia , it would be murder. You'd only get manslaughter if he died while in the fight and was deliberately trying to kill you at the time.

FoeHammer
2010-07-04, 09:12 PM
If an assassin came into your house and tried to kill you, then surrendered when you kicked his ass, I'm pretty sure you'd still Get Out Of Jail Free if you killed him, no matter who witnessed the event.

No. That's murder.

To quote this (http://www.lectlaw.com/def/d030.htm):


Force likely to cause death or great bodily harm is justified in self-defense only if a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

If an opponent has surrendered than they should be disarmed and restrained certainly, but they are no longer a combatant, a critical distinction that makes for the difference between, say, fighting a guard at his post or burning down his house.

Boci
2010-07-04, 09:19 PM
No. That's murder.

To quote this (http://www.lectlaw.com/def/d030.htm):



If an opponent has surrendered than they should be disarmed and restrained certainly, but they are no longer a combatant, a critical distinction that makes for the difference between, say, fighting a guard at his post or burning down his house.

I dunno. Firstly, in order to restain the assassin you would have to trust that they are not proficient in unarmed combat. Then you would need to trust they they either will not or cannot escape.

Ultimatly, I can see an argument for an assassin who surrendered to still constitute a threat.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-04, 09:25 PM
I dunno. Firstly, in order to restain the assassin you would have to trust that they are not proficient in unarmed combat. Then you would need to trust they they either will not or cannot escape.

Ultimatly, I can see an argument for an assassin who surrendered to still constitute a threat.
This is why assassins were feared and considered dishonourable, they worked outside the literal gentlemen's agreement of honourable warfare. Honour is based on trust, trust that you are all acting under the same rules.

The Cat Goddess
2010-07-04, 10:15 PM
Actually, I said it was breaking your vow to use that magic cloak the party gave to you, which you accepted and used because "it was a gift." Gift or not, you can't use a magic item under any circumstances, even on behalf of someone else or because it would be rude not to.

It's fine that you gave it away, but it's breaking your vow to wear the cloak under any circumstance.

I would say that, given the situation (the cloak was a gift and refusing it would be an insult)... accepting the cloak and not wearing it would be fine.

There's a VoP character in my game who uses his share of the party treasure to buy things like endless feedbags and cornucopia of plenties, then gives those items to orphanages or hires people to ride around (with the endless feedbag for their horse) and feed people with the cornucopia.


You're still killing a helpless prisoner when you don't really have to. All you've done is slapped a boy-king's brand of red tape on it, first. If anything, you've made the boy responsible for the death of a helpless being who never swore fealty or anything to him. Kind of a **** move, IMO. But very lawful. If the execution is evil without a trial, how does throwing arrogant beaurocracy at it any better? Where's the regard for intelligent life? It's justification. Not justice.

It all boils down to which is more important... Lawful, or Good.

Plus, as I explained in my follow-up post, this isn't exactly a trial... this is showing the boy-King that his decisions, his actions, his very life has consequences. The world is a hard place, especially in D&D.

Also... this encounter took place in the wilderness, right? Dead hobgoblins are going to attract scavengers & predators. Leaving an unconcious hobgoblin among the bodies is worse than leaving a dead one, since he's likely to regain conciousness when the wolves start chewing him apart. :smalleek:


Is this lone hobgoblin going to be a threat to either the king or the paladin in the future if he's knocked out and left alone? Probably not unless he's a particularly capable and/or influential hobgoblin. The "long term" effect is probably rather inconsequential in this case.

Edit: Does Batman continually throw the badguys in Arkham just for them to break out and reak havok again? Yes. But Batman is not responsible for the security in Arkham.

When the Paladin & boy-King go to sleep that night, is the lone hobgoblin going to be a potential threat? Quite possibly... especially if he's like most hobgoblins (LE) and thinking of revenge.

And Batman does, occassionally, feel responsible for the security in Arkham. In the more recent books, he (Bruce Wayne) donated a huge sum of money to rebuild Arkham just so he would be put on the advisory committee and be kept up-to-date on the security (as well as the rehabilitation methods).


Agreed, but then each villain would only get one comic issue. :smallbiggrin:

Disagree... it's been shown many times where villains would outsmart (or simply think in a manner that Batman could not predict) Batman over the short-term.

No prison is escape-proof. The moment you set up external monitoring, you make it so someone like The Calculator or Braniac can override things from the outside. If you have superpower-dampening equipment (something that I've never seen in DC comics, outside of one-use villian equipment that gets destroyed), a momentary power-failure is all it takes... plus, some villians are dependent on their powers functioning to keep them alive.


If an assassin came into your house and tried to kill you, then surrendered when you kicked his ass, I'm pretty sure you'd still Get Out Of Jail Free if you killed him, no matter who witnessed the event.

Besides, Killing a helpless opponent is not something you can fall for. AT MOST I'd require that you pay to have them resurrected, and ONLY then if they were deserving of redemption, IE they weren't trying to kill you or any innocents.

No, no you wouldn't. If you killed the person in front of a police officer (for example) after they surrendered, you'd be arrested and tried for it. You might be aquitted... but at best you'd get a light sentence by saying something like "I was certain he still had a weapon and posed a danger".

If you shoot someone who is invading your home, you're safe. If you shoot them in the back as they're leaving your home (i.e. it's obvious they were leaving... not if you shot them in the back because they were down the hall and facing away), then you've committed a crime and will be arrested. I know this because I shot someone who was invading my home. They were only wounded and fled (then collapsed in the street). I was told by the police officer when I said "I should've shot him again" that doing so would've gotten me arrested, despite the fact that he had shot and wounded me.

Math_Mage
2010-07-05, 01:53 AM
I'd agree there's a difference, unfortunately I'd also say that killing accidentially when trying to not do so is in fact worse. That's criminal negligance and/or manslaughter you see. The other has well established allowances within ethics.

:confused: What in the what? In one case you are deliberately disrespecting life. In the other you are trying to avoid killing. I don't see how you can call the latter criminal negligence/manslaughter unless the former is murder.

Devils_Advocate
2010-07-05, 02:40 AM
Alignment works on black and white. Doing evil to cause good is still evil. If you don't like the alignment system, don't use it. Otherwise, you're stuck with its definitions.


"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others.
So, killing is always Evil? Well, no, wait, it only says "implies".


Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
Ah, there we go. Except, wait. It doesn't say that only Evil creatures ever do that. Hmm, where does it say in the rules what it means to be Evil, such that a character is Evil if and only if he or she fulfills those conditions?

Oh, wait, it doesn't.

There are, unless I'm missing something, no definitive statements about what each alignment is. So, taking only the definitive statements leaves us with nothing. Taking every statement to be definitive gives us stuff like "Killing is always Evil". And, for that matter, "Protecting innocent life by destroying other innocent life is Good and Evil".

No alignment is actually officially associated with any system of meta-ethics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-ethics) whatsoever. So when a book says something specific about alignment, like that a Good character will accept surrender even from a villain who has escaped and returned to his Evil deed multiple times before, there isn't even any official basis on which that statement might be deemed correct or incorrect, because "Good" seriously means nothing in particular.

What would a good alignment definition look like? It might be something along the lines of "That is Good which seeks to increase the total satisfaction of sentient beings". Now, I'm not actually proposing that that particular definition be adopted, but a good definition would probably have a basic form not entirely unlike that.

To seriously make any actual sense of alignment at all, it's basically necessary to actually provide an answer (though, notably, not necessarily a correct answer) to a question that moral philosophers have been grappling with since... probably before recorded history. To borrow from Frank Trollman, "This is not an easy question to answer. The rulebooks, for example, are no help at all. D&D at its heart is about breaking into other peoples' homes, stabbing them in the face, and taking all their money. That's very hard to rationalize as a Good thing to do, and the authors of D&D have historically not tried terribly hard."

(In fact, it is necessary to provide at least two, if not four, different answers, as there are two orthogonal alignment axes, each pointing in two opposite directions.)


It's more 'Good' in the sense that the rules were followed to ensure that he is, indeed, guilty of heinous crimes, and justice was meted out, rather than a quick-n-dirty execution for potential crimes committed.
Following the rules and ensuring that someone is guilty are two different things, though of course there may be some overlap. Ideally, a Paladin will follow rules intended to prevent the innocent from being punished. However, in the case that one sees someone e.g. rip out a screaming child's throat and then laugh heartily about it, it does not seem reasonable to suggest that one needs to bring him in to trial in order to make sure that he really did what one just saw him do. There may still be other reasons to bring him in, however.


Lawful execution isn't evil in and of itself, if the law itself is relatively fair and those dispensing justice according to the law are fair with how they interpret it.
Unlawful execution is no more inherently Evil, if the vigilante carrying it out is fair.


whether a paladin falls or not should not depend on the paladin's performance as compared to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good, but rather should fall under what that paladin's god believes to be right under the circumstances. The paladin's power comes from his god; therefore, only his god should determine whether he falls, and that determination should come from that god's perspective.
3.5 Paladins explicitly do not work like that. They are not, in terms of ethos, Clerics with different powers. They instead have a special code of their own.

Whether they should be Clerics with different powers is a different question, but they aren't in the rules. That they have a different alignment restriction from Clerics should frankly be a big tip-off here, even if you haven't read the Paladin class description. :smallconfused:

In the Forgotten Realms, a Paladin still has to get her spells from a particular deity, but FR is just weird like that.

(Also: You aren't actually arguing that a Paladin shouldn't be held to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good. You're just arguing that the standard should be arbitrarily defined by the Paladin's god. :smallwink:)


And for the second, how does it make sense for a paladin of a god to be doing things that that god doesn't approve of?
It doesn't, and thus, it doesn't make sense for 3.5 Paladins to be of gods. A Paladin can worship a deity, sure, but if that deity tells her to do something Evil -- which is a possibility for a Lawful Good god, as alignment is not a straitjacket -- it's her job to defy him, not to obey him. Paladins should be considered to have a single religion of their own, really. And sure, that religion would have gods, but they'd be members, not rulers: gods who are Paladins themselves.


They should be able to do this at level 1. Sure, it's another thing that frontloads them, but it's not like it's a huge thing anyway, and it'll help the paladin be 'merciful' when the situation calls for it.
Any and all disadvantages inherent in their code are entirely front-loaded, so that makes it more OK for low-level Paladins to have Nice Things, in my opinion.


If someone had a Pally, I wouldn't allow it to hit play without them selecting a deity. Paladins are in for a cause, and I wanted it to be crystal clear what their cause was.
3.5 Paladins all serve the same cause, though: the cause of Justice.


Does Batman continually throw the badguys in Arkham just for them to break out and reak havok again? Yes. But Batman is not responsible for the security in Arkham.
I don't see how he has any special personal responsibility to catch criminals, either. It's just something he's taken on himself. But that doesn't mean that him catching them isn't better than him not catching them. Arguably, him killing some of them would also be better than him not killing them. A select few, mind you.


I'd agree there's a difference, unfortunately I'd also say that killing accidentially when trying to not do so is in fact worse. That's criminal negligance and/or manslaughter you see. The other has well established allowances within ethics.
Maybe in some cases it actually is criminal negligence and/or manslaughter to do your best to spare one person's life without endangering the lives of many others, but surely that has allowances within ethics! :smalleek:

Coidzor
2010-07-05, 02:42 AM
I would throw Hitler in Arkham.

Might as well just give him a ring of three wishes while you're at it if you're putting him in there.:smallsigh:

But, eh, once you're in the DC universe, not even destroying the soul, body, mind, and possessions of someone utterly and entirely and then putting the place they occupied prior to being destroyed in this universe into a different universe completely wouldn't stop them from coming back worse than ever.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 03:38 AM
I think one thing that people may be missing is that being genuinely Good is much harder than any other alignment. Being Good implies selflessness, and respect for the others. If it doesn't apply even to those you don't like, it's not Good. (One of the mentioned examples of neutral is exactly that: being good and selfless to people you like only). A Good character is in for a hard time.

As it was displayed here and in other threads, the best course of action sometimes just isn't the Good course of action, and good characters have to make do with the Good course of action, lest they carry the burden of doing something they regret.

Yup- and in Savage Species- it goes so far as to say even Evil characters can be good and selfless to those they like- and cruel and vicious to those they don't.

Ozymandias9
2010-07-05, 05:00 AM
3.5 Paladins explicitly do not work like that. They are not, in terms of ethos, Clerics with different powers. They instead have a special code of their own.

Whether they should be Clerics with different powers is a different question, but they aren't in the rules. That they have a different alignment restriction from Clerics should frankly be a big tip-off here, even if you haven't read the Paladin class description. :smallconfused:

In the Forgotten Realms, a Paladin still has to get her spells from a particular deity, but FR is just weird like that.

(Also: You aren't actually arguing that a Paladin shouldn't be held to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good. You're just arguing that the standard should be arbitrarily defined by the Paladin's god. :smallwink:)

I've always seen the wording of the section of the paladin entry dealing with deities as basically the reverse of the one in the cleric entry. Regardless, RAW isn't really a common mode of play, and in practice paladins are often specific divine agents.

In point of fact, for certain cosmological settings, it would be difficult to play them otherwise. I'm my experience, it's not that FR is weird like that. Deific patronage for divine characters (with the occasional exception of druids, but usually only to the extent that nature is often less anthropomorphic) tends to be more common than not in my experience.

Friend Computer
2010-07-05, 05:44 AM
I think that the player should have been warned that such an action will result in his fall, and given a chance to re-think his course of action. That not being the case, the paladin should not retroactively fall, but should recieve a warning of some kind that this action has taken him incredibly close to falling and he needs to be extremely careful.


I think we have to look at the paladin's hierarchy of duty.

In this this case, to fulfill all his obligations, he should:

1. Guard the King. This is his assigned mission, he's presumably given his word, and this is presumably his rightful lord.

2. Protect the innocent. This is what Paladin's do. They champion those who cannot defend themselves from evil. In this case, the elven woman and kiddos.

3. Free the Other Prisoners of the Hobgoblins Innocent, defenseless, in the hands of evil captors, sure to suffer a hideous fate. Clear obligation on the Paladin to rescue them if at all possible.

4. Accept Honorable Surrender. Part of the code. Because, while we may be out mashing sentient beings with a big, heavy club with nails in it, we are, after all, civilized.


Now, do we toss numbers 1-3 in importance to satisfy number 4?
I'm all for doing what the paladin did. And I would do it if I were a paladin. I would do it knowing that it would result in me falling from grace. I would fall from grace because it is something that needed to be done.

But I would still fall.

You do not seem to understand this, or at least seem to ignore this point. The act of killing may or may not be evil, and it may or may not be chaotic, but it certainly isn't good, nor lawful, and while I, as a DM, would not require an alignment change from that single act, it is the difference between a lawful good fighter and a paladin.


I once played a paladin who was standing by the alter as a ritual was being finalized involving the rebirth of a god-demon in the form a newborn baby and the rest of the party was down or so involved that they would never make it in time to stop it. I snatched the baby and I looked at myself and I knew that I could not get away from the alter and out the door with the baby safely. I had a few hit points and resources where gone. I knew the only way to stop this was to kill the baby. I did so knowing that I was about to loose my paladinhood. I stopped the ritual, the bad guys beat me to a bloody pulp and the rest of the party had just enough time to fight some of the bad guys as the leaders ran away. All the other players said they were thinking about doing the same thing, it just sucked that it had to be me that had that dilemma and made that choice. A mature situation and I paid the consequences.
I really like this. I would have done the same, knowing I would lose my paladinhood for the greater good. The way that was handled doesn't seem like it was a trap, and seems like a genuine RP opportunity. Good work.


whether a paladin falls or not should not depend on the paladin's performance as compared to an arbitrarily defined parameter for good, but rather should fall under what that paladin's god believes to be right under the circumstances.
In settings, such as FR, where that is the case, yes. However PHB/SRD paladins do not have a specific connection with their deities like Clerics do, but with 'paladinness'.


I don't understand why a guy surrendering automatically makes it wrong to kill him. The guy was trying his hardest to kill the paladin, and all of a sudden he drops his weapon and he's protected from death by the Powers That Be? What is this, Predator? Are paladins only allowed to kill people that are ACTIVELY trying to kill them? By this standard, it'd be evil to kill hitler in his sleep, the day before he rises to power.

Paladin made a choice, it's not by any stretch of my imagination an evil choice, so i'd say that he's fine.
Maybe evil, maybe not. But not something a paladin should do. One could make many arguments that killing Hitler in his sleep is not only not evil, but a specifically L-G act, but even so, it is not a paladin act. Paladins are not merely Lawful Good, but are paragons of that alignment. Given that this paladin was exalted as well, and this means he is a paragon of goodness among paragons of goodness. If a paladin were to kill Hitler in his sleep, he would fall, and as a paladin, he would know that by committing that act he would fall. And it would make him that much more of a hero for doing it.


To seriously make any actual sense of alignment at all, it's basically necessary to actually provide an answer (though, notably, not necessarily a correct answer) to a question that moral philosophers have been grappling with since... probably before recorded history.
This ignores a very basic point: The rules do give an answer, though somewhat vague, and twistable if you want to start lawyering about it. The answer doesn't have to make sense for our world, it doesn't have to make sense at all. But theanswer has been given. To say that 'the alignment system is absurd and should be done away with' is a sentiment I understand (though disagree with) and perfectly valid. But we are dealing with alignment as-is.

Psyx
2010-07-05, 06:17 AM
The penalty for banditry in invariably death, and nobody would expect a hobgoblin bandit to be taken for trial - a roadside lynching is 'fair justice' in my mind. The Paladin was carrying out the law, and shouldn't be expected to accept every surrender offered by those who will be executed for their crimes anyway. Cut and dried to my mind - Paladin is in the clear.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-05, 06:39 AM
The penalty for banditry in invariably death, and nobody would expect a hobgoblin bandit to be taken for trial - a roadside lynching is 'fair justice' in my mind. The Paladin was carrying out the law, and shouldn't be expected to accept every surrender offered by those who will be executed for their crimes anyway. Cut and dried to my mind - Paladin is in the clear.

That's Neutral thinking.

Oslecamo
2010-07-05, 06:46 AM
Yup- and in Savage Species- it goes so far as to say even Evil characters can be good and selfless to those they like- and cruel and vicious to those they don't.

+2 to that. Even the tyrant villain will lovely pat his daughter on the head and send his hordes of evil to fetch her candy and toys. But that random villager girl that spits and insults him gets a boot to the face.

Giving something whitout really expecting anything in return is one of good's main traits.

Wings of Peace
2010-07-05, 06:58 AM
If these are marauding Hobgoblins who attack and kill travelers they spot going through the forest then I would say the Paladin is allowed to commit the execution under the pretense that they are administering justice depending on their deity.

If not that they are administering justice then that the creature will just go back to its evil/marauding ways once freed by its buddies and thus killing it constitutes protecting less battle able innocents from the creature.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 07:00 AM
The penalty for banditry in invariably death, and nobody would expect a hobgoblin bandit to be taken for trial - a roadside lynching is 'fair justice' in my mind.

In medieval times, maybe- but D&D isn't medieval times. A bandit could be anything from a long-term villain who's committed dozens of murders for loot, to somebody young and inexperienced who's only just taken up the career, and never actually killed anybody.

Hence- a judge with justice on their mind, might investigate the bandit's history, and if the bandit has little real Evil to their record, they might be sentenced to hard labour rather than death.

Wings of Peace
2010-07-05, 07:01 AM
In medieval times, maybe- but D&D isn't medieval times. A bandit could be anything from a long-term villain who's committed dozens of murders for loot, to somebody young and inexperienced who's only just taken up the career, and never actually killed anybody.

Hence- a judge with justice on their mind, might investigate the bandit's history, and if the bandit has little real Evil to their record, they might be sentenced to hard labour rather than death.

Don't the humans in most of the campaign settings excluding places like Sigil have a general hatred/kill on sight policy towards most goblinoids?

Edit: And are you aware that for the longest time I've been reading your name as 'Hamish in Space'?

Snake-Aes
2010-07-05, 07:03 AM
The policy doesn't makes it right, thought, in the mindset required by paragons of LG.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 07:05 AM
In Eberron, they don't.

In Faerun, the "kill on sight" policy, is gone in late 3.5 era- now that there are fairly law-abiding orc kingdoms, like Phsant, and The Kingdom of Many-Arrows, who have peace treaties with their neighbours.

Orcs are Often Chaotic Evil whereas hobgoblins are Usually Lawful Evil though.

In Cityscape, towns often have a "goblinoid district" where goblins reside, and while they are a despised underclass, it's not OK to slaughter them on sight.

So 3.5 has tended to move away from "if you ever see a goblin- you can kill it with no moral or legal problems"



Edit: And are you aware that for the longest time I've been reading your name as 'Hamish in Space'?

No- but I've seen a lot of misspellings of it. I put up with it.

Wings of Peace
2010-07-05, 07:07 AM
In Eberron, they don't.

In Faerun, the "kill on sight" policy, is gone in late 3.5 era- now that there are fairly law-abiding orc kingdoms, like Phsant, and The Kingdom of Many-Arrows, who have peace treaties with their neighbours.

Orcs are Often Chaotic Evil whereas hobgoblins are Usually Lawful Evil though.

In Cityscape, towns often have a "goblinoid district" where goblins reside, and while they are a despised underclass, it's not OK to slaughter them on sight.

So 3.5 has tended to move away from "if you ever see a goblin- you can kill it with no moral or legal problems"



No- but I've seen a lot of misspellings of it. I put up with it.

I miss when my D&D came with a degree of practical racism :\

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 07:13 AM
I think it might be something of an improvement. Forgotten Realms writers have been moving away from "members of monstrous races are utterly irredeemable" for a while now.

It also helps players who like playing orcs, goblins, gnolls, ogres, and so on, if they aren't getting attacked by every NPC adventurer they meet for "being a monster"

Emmerask
2010-07-05, 07:17 AM
Being the DM, a took note of his argument, and told him that I felt he was justified in the decision that he made, but to watch out in the future in case this was the beginning of a slippery slope situation.

Does this sound like the right choice in this situation?

Yes I think you acted correctly giving him some leeway in this situation (though it clearly was against paladin and exalted code of conduct), next time he crosses the line though he should fall, and don´t forget that also the exalted feats don´t work then anymore too :smallwink:

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 07:28 AM
In 3rd party- there's a source (Quintessenial Paladin 2) that handles falling slightly differently. It has a list of tenets of the Code, values for each (so, some are more important and some less important) and mitigating and aggravating factors.

For example- breaking a minor tenet to keep a major one- is a mitigating factor.

The "score" of the code breach- is used to determine what happens. If it's 0 or less, nothing happens, if it's higher, the paladin might lose small amounts of their powers, with bigger amounts of powers lost, the more serious the breach is.

So only a very serious breach will lead to an instant loss of all powers permanently until the paladin atones.

And you can select your own code, with different weightings of the various tenets compared to the "standard code"

Maybe handling it something like this, with nightmares (but no power loss) for a minor breach, would work?

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-05, 08:00 AM
What in the what? In one case you are deliberately disrespecting life. In the other you are trying to avoid killing. I don't see how you can call the latter criminal negligence/manslaughter unless the former is murder.

An execution has zero moral value.

Because it is acting in place of some larger interest that allows it. You are generally no more morally culpable then the weapon used. Now there are certain variations on this. There must be established guilt of some nature of course, hopefully by an authority higher then the executioner. If the one performing the deed is also the one establishing the guilt then they can be wrong. A formal executioner for a government however would be just doing a job.

When not within the realms of a legit execution it ceases to be an execution and becomes a form of murder.

Accidental death however by your deliberate actions is entirely your fault. You screwed up, you were obviously incompetent and someone died for it. Accidents are generally not a moral excuse for actions you deliberately undertake. When a doctor gives someone the wrong dosage of a sedative, they are liable for the consequences. There is not a long established ethical out here unlike an execution or self defense. It becomes another form of murder. Not as bad as knifing someone in a back alley cause they looked at your spouse or anything... but still wrong.

And a negative value is worse then an executions no moral value.

And to bring it back to here, I would consider the accident more valid for revoking paladin status. Obviously atonement worthy and recoverable from, but screwing it up is not an excuse for an action that is entirely under your control in the first place. Obviously an execution can still be invalid (ergo not an execution) but that is a far more complex issue depending on many more circumstances and the moral considerations of the setting.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 08:11 AM
Accidental death however by your deliberate actions is entirely your fault. You screwed up, you were obviously incompetent and someone died for it. Accidents are generally not a moral excuse for actions you deliberately undertake. When a doctor gives someone the wrong dosage of a sedative, they are liable for the consequences. There is not a long established ethical out here unlike an execution or self defense. It becomes another form of murder. Not as bad as knifing someone in a back alley cause they looked at your spouse or anything... but still wrong.

BoVD makes a distinction between an accident with no moral liability- and an act of negligence, which has moral liability, and should cause a paladin to Fall.

If the character could not be reasonably held responsible for their action (say- because the consequences were not something they could be expected to forsee) they don't fall.

Not all accidental death resulting from an action carried out intentionally- is incompetence. Sometimes it is, but not always. A character might die of surgery due to something the surgeon could not be expected to forsee. Or if the surgeon gives someone a sedative or anaesthetic that they turn out to be allergic to- but there was no way for the surgeon to know that.

In real life though, "hitting someone on the head" to keep them unconscious for a few hours, is much riskier than in D&D- and a person doing so might be done for manslaughter, or even murder if they were in commission of a felony at the time.

Mike_G
2010-07-05, 08:34 AM
In real life though, "hitting someone on the head" to keep them unconscious for a few hours, is much riskier than in D&D- and a person doing so might be done for manslaughter, or even murder if they were in commission of a felony at the time.


Thank you.

Now, knowing that, I play my PC's as though they don't know how many HP of damage things do. Hitting a guy with the pommel of your sword is less likely to kill him than hitting him with the pointy end, but it's still dangerous.

"Knowing" you can successfully beat someone savagely for subdual damage to keep him unconscious for hours or days is metagame knowledge.

Khellendross
2010-07-05, 08:38 AM
Maybe it wasn't evil after all and was actually doing a favor for the hobgoblin. I mean who would want to be one in the first place right?

Boci
2010-07-05, 08:39 AM
"Knowing" you can successfully beat someone savagely for subdual damage to keep him unconscious for hours or days is metagame knowledge.

I can think of two reasonable ways to reflavour it:

1. Strangalation. It should not take that much knowledge of anatomy to be able to keep someone down by continueally strangling them until they feint.

2. Kicking the **** out of them. Not the head, but chest and arms. Repeatedly. Chances of causing life threatening injuries are low, and so are the chances of the victim being a threat any time soon.

Emmerask
2010-07-05, 08:49 AM
"Knowing" you can successfully beat someone savagely for subdual damage to keep him unconscious for hours or days is metagame knowledge.

I don´t think so at all, all it is is very basic knowledge of how things work in the universe you live in, same as knowing that if you jump up you will eventually land on the ground again or a wizard knowing that he has to sleep to regain new spells etc.

Or to put it that way, you know that if you beat someone savagely enough there is a high risk of death irl, same way in d&d they know that there is no such high risk ie experience, common knowledge or even your own experience :smallwink:

DragoonWraith
2010-07-05, 08:58 AM
I have no opinion on the subject because I think the Paladin Code of Conduct is absurdly stupid.

What I do want to comment on is the OP - why is this bothering you? How is this your business? Do you want the Paladin to fall? Seriously, you're neither the DM nor the person playing the Paladin, this seems to be no business of yours. That kind of... I dunno, negative attitude about another player at your table... that really would bother me.

Which is, of course, why I hate the Paladin to begin with. This entire argument, with over 160 posts, should never have happened.

This does not make for a fun game.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-05, 09:00 AM
I have no opinion on the subject because I think the Paladin Code of Conduct is absurdly stupid.

What I do want to comment on is the OP - why is this bothering you? How is this your business? Do you want the Paladin to fall? Seriously, you're neither the DM nor the person playing the Paladin, this seems to be no business of yours. That kind of... I dunno, negative attitude about another player at your table... that really would bother me.

Which is, of course, why I hate the Paladin to begin with. This entire argument, with over 160 posts, should never have happened.

This does not make for a fun game.
It is also very unnerving that you would abhor the opinions of those that actually enjoy it. Isn't this an interesting world?
Also, read again, he is the dm.

Psyx
2010-07-05, 09:35 AM
"That's Neutral thinking."

No: It's Lawful. If the accepted way of dealing with bandits is impromptu execution, then impromptu execution is Lawful. He's already been Good by risking his neck to stray from his task to kill bandits, and he's further been Lawful by following his orders. He also accepted the surrender [Lawful/Good]

"In medieval times, maybe- but D&D isn't medieval times."

That's campaigns specific, but I don't envisage for a second that 'standard procedure' is to arrest dangerous humanoids and drag them back to town for a fair trial. Otherwise Adventurers would be all rounded up as dangerous vigilantes, wouldn't they? A medieval society is a product of the environment: I don't see there as being a lengthy appeal process or probably even a jury of peers.

"A bandit could be anything from a long-term villain who's committed dozens of murders for loot, to somebody young and inexperienced who's only just taken up the career, and never actually killed anybody."

Doesn't matter in the eyes of the law. If we're getting all legal about it, then prior convictions don't count for anything in determining guilt - in fact a fair court specifically ignores the issue when determining guilt - only in sentence. They picked up their sword when they fought the Paladin. Guilty.

"Hence- a judge with justice on their mind, might investigate the bandit's history, and if the bandit has little real Evil to their record, they might be sentenced to hard labour rather than death."

A hobgoblin? You reckon? Do you think that in a world ridden with drow, dragons and orcs, judges want to look into the prior records of hobgoblin bandits for redeeming qualities, or do you think they are more likely to say 'why did you waste my time with this, stick his head on a pike as an example to others'?

This is also side-stepping the issue that the paladin can detect evil. As a law-abiding and honest person, I imagine they would freely admit to Zone of Truth and similar in order to establish the case after fact.

"The policy doesn't makes it right, thought, in the mindset required by paragons of LG."

It does in pretty much every campaign I've played in. Paladins don't wade in and aim to capture bandits and evil dragons for trial: They try to kill them. If they plan on making arrests, the time to announce that is BEFORE the fight.

In my eyes he accepted the surrender, and was simply delivering just punishment.


"1. Strangalation.
2. Kicking the **** out of them. "

So imprisonment and prolonged physical abuse / torture is more paladinic than swift justice now? I think after being strangled into unconsciousness for the second time, and knowing darn well that my fate was the gallows, I'd be pleading for a swift end to it right there and then.


"I have no opinion on the subject because I think the Paladin Code of Conduct is absurdly stupid."

Kind of a self-defeating statement there.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 09:46 AM
If we're getting all legal about it, then prior convictions don't count for anything in determining guilt - in fact a fair court specifically ignores the issue when determining guilt - only in sentence. They picked up their sword when they fought the Paladin. Guilty.

Guilty of what? "Attacking a paladin" is that a crime that merits an immediate death sentence the moment they throw down their weapon?

Guilty of banditry-related crimes- might depend on how long he's been a bandit. He might be guilty of multiple robberies and murders- but he might only just have joined the tribe's armed forces (being a "child" shortly before) and not have done much active harm of people at all.

That's the big question- that a paladin who believes in justice should be concerned about. Punishing people in proportion to their crimes- and if there is room for redemption, giving them to opportunity to pursue it.

BoED makes a great deal out of redemption- emphasing that when your enemies surrender, the Good character should a least think about the possibility of redeeming them rather than just executing them. Mercy is treated as being quite important.

Boci
2010-07-05, 09:46 AM
"1. Strangalation.
2. Kicking the **** out of them. "

So imprisonment and prolonged physical abuse / torture is more paladinic than swift justice now? I think after being strangled into unconsciousness for the second time, and knowing darn well that my fate was the gallows, I'd be pleading for a swift end to it right there and then.

No, read what I quoted. I was replying to someone who claimed that knowing you can keep an enemy unconsious via subdual damage indefinatly without risk of accidently killing them was metagaming, offering some explanations for how the mechanics could be described.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 09:51 AM
Repeatedly knocking someone out via nonlethal damage- because you can't be bothered to tie them up and/or assign someone to watch them- is iffy, but knocking them out once, so that you can carry out the mission before returning to take them with you as a prisoner, isn't so iffy.

The idea that killing enemies that they have successfully taken prisoner, does not fit with a Good aligned PC- isn't just in the BoED.

It goes right back to Eric Holmes Basic D&D- where "torturing prisoners" and "killing prisoners" were both examples of the sort of behaviour that DMs should consider inappropriate for LG or CG characters (there were 5 alignments then).

deuxhero
2010-07-05, 10:02 AM
He's one man already protecting a non-combatant. There is every reason for him not to take prisoners. He derived no pleasure for the act. This shouldn't even be an issue.


Guilty of what? "Attacking a paladin" is that a crime that merits an immediate death sentence the moment they throw down their weapon?

Guilty of banditry-related crimes- might depend on how long he's been a bandit. He might be guilty of multiple robberies and murders- but he might only just have joined the tribe's armed forces (being a "child" shortly before) and not have done much active harm of people at all.



Remember that in the time D&D has a very inaccurate version of, Outlaws had no rights period. Painless execution is really spectacular under the circumstances.

Math_Mage
2010-07-05, 10:04 AM
An execution has zero moral value.

Because it is acting in place of some larger interest that allows it. You are generally no more morally culpable then the weapon used. Now there are certain variations on this. There must be established guilt of some nature of course, hopefully by an authority higher then the executioner. If the one performing the deed is also the one establishing the guilt then they can be wrong. A formal executioner for a government however would be just doing a job.

When not within the realms of a legit execution it ceases to be an execution and becomes a form of murder.

Accidental death however by your deliberate actions is entirely your fault. You screwed up, you were obviously incompetent and someone died for it. Accidents are generally not a moral excuse for actions you deliberately undertake. When a doctor gives someone the wrong dosage of a sedative, they are liable for the consequences. There is not a long established ethical out here unlike an execution or self defense. It becomes another form of murder. Not as bad as knifing someone in a back alley cause they looked at your spouse or anything... but still wrong.

And a negative value is worse then an executions no moral value.

1. This isn't a typical execution following a trial. This is a paladin deciding what to do with his surrendered opponent on the fly.
2. You can't attach all the baggage that makes execution 'legitimate' and not attach it to accidental death. If someone deserves execution, it's a little backwards to say that same someone doesn't deserve being knocked out with chance of death.


Thank you.

Now, knowing that, I play my PC's as though they don't know how many HP of damage things do. Hitting a guy with the pommel of your sword is less likely to kill him than hitting him with the pointy end, but it's still dangerous.

"Knowing" you can successfully beat someone savagely for subdual damage to keep him unconscious for hours or days is metagame knowledge.

What do they say about real-world physics and catgirls? Maybe there should be a corollary for biology. And heck, we could say the same thing about tying up the goblin and leaving him behind--the only reason we know he doesn't die anyway from starvation or wolves is DM allowance.

At any rate, taking the choice that attempts to preserve life is more morally acceptable than the alternative, even if you end up failing to do it.

Bharg
2010-07-05, 10:08 AM
Ever heard of transference?

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 10:14 AM
It reminds me a bit of the scene in The Legacy, where the assassin Artemis Entreri is duelling a drow who's stopping him going after Drizzt.

He outclasses the drow- the drow drops his weapon and goes "I yield".

His response? "Well spoken"- stab.

Bharg
2010-07-05, 10:30 AM
I liked that part.

But a paladin is a paladin is a paladin... I wouldn't let him do something like that without punishment - especially if he is supposed to be exalted!

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 10:35 AM
If "lose all your powers till you atone" (the default for Evil acts) is too crippling, the DM can adjudicate a lesser version, scaling with the reprehensibility of the act.

In that position, with a guy surrendering- I'd probably want to know as much as possible before deciding his fate. He might be able to give passwords (remember it's a mixed human/hobgoblin camp), info on the locations of sentries, some info on what the bandits have done, info on what he personally has done, and so on.

Some Lawful characters take an "if you spare their life, they owe you big time" attitude. Some don't.

DragoonWraith
2010-07-05, 11:07 AM
It is also very unnerving that you would abhor the opinions of those that actually enjoy it. Isn't this an interesting world?
I tried to be careful about that. I personally think this is an incredibly dumb argument because I think the entire Code was a hideously bad idea in the first place, but that's neither here nor there. I was pointing out that it seems to be in very poor taste for a player to rant about how another player did not fall. It's one thing for people here to debate this, being uninvolved and it being, for all intents and purposes, a hypothetical exercise, but for people who are presumably friends to the Paladin player, yes, this attitude really bothers me. It's like saying, "No, I want you to stop playing!" - why not just kick him out if you don't like him? That's effectively what arguing that a Paladin should fall does.

That said,

Also, read again, he is the dm.
I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. I specifically reread the OP to double-check that he wasn't the DM, and I read it as "the DM did such and such", as opposed to "I, as the DM", etc. My apologies for that. Yes, as a DM, this thread is perfectly reasonable.

I also think that yes, the response was appropriate. But then I hate the Code.

Psyx
2010-07-05, 11:43 AM
"Guilty of what? "Attacking a paladin" is that a crime that merits an immediate death sentence the moment they throw down their weapon?"

There's plenty of medieval societies where attacking a member of the nobility most certainly was grounds for execution, and drawing weapons with hostile intent within reach of the king certainly would be, but perhaps that was a little sweeping of me. The bandit only surrendered when it was his only option, rather than before the fight, or before being grievously wounded. Surrendering as an earlier option might have demanded more leniency. It only became an option when murdering the Paladin ceased to become viable and surrendering became the slim chance of selfish survival. That's hardly grounds for redemption.

Mercy is important, but mercy is a relative term and we live in a very different society. Braining the guy was probably more merciful than dragging him on a long physical ordeal, giving him an essentially pointless trial, then having him executed in the state-approved manner; which would probably be a lot less pleasant.


"...does not fit with a Good aligned PC"

But it does fit with Lawful ones, and a Paladin is both. Where that balance lays and what is more important is essentially a player choice.


"This isn't a typical execution following a trial. This is a paladin deciding what to do with his surrendered opponent on the fly."

A paladin is a representative of his church, and an armed one at that. The long arm of the law/good, trained to fight evil, normally in the middle of nowhere, with no help to fall back on. If the church and his knightly order is formerly recognised by the crown, then that's a better 'trial' than most bandits would get, I suspect. Incidentally; what deity did the paladin follow?
In -say- FR setting, a Paladin of Tyr would be utterly within his rights to accept surrender and then act as judge, jury and executioner in the following 30 seconds!

I don't think that the Paladin should just shrug it off and carry on, and I do think that it's something that he should have a good ol' pray over, but I don't think that it was an evil act. Just because it's what an evil person would have done as well, it doesn't make it bad. In fact, maybe an evil one would be more inclined to increase the suffering.

Remember as well that this is a fantasy RPG, that Paladins are militant people born of very violent times, and that RPing Ghandi wasn't what the player signed up for.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-05, 12:10 PM
You are not Gandhi,but you do follow a higher calling then the average fighter. You are to be a paragon of chivalry, an exemplar of of justice AND mercy.
Acts that an average warrior, even one voluntarily following the same code as you, could get away with are anathema to you. Killing a surrendered foe, when there are several options that would allow you to complete your mission in peace without killing them, is pretty darn dishonourable.
At least you are not riding your horse with them tied behind you, dragging them over the ground until they perished.
Anyone besides me remember that thread?

Another_Poet
2010-07-05, 12:13 PM
Does this sound like the right choice in this situation?

Yes, you made the right decision. The paladin did the right thing - chose the most moral and responsible option under less-than-ideal circumstances - and deserves to be rewarded by his god in the afterlife.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 12:28 PM
It's like saying, "No, I want you to stop playing!" - why not just kick him out if you don't like him? That's effectively what arguing that a Paladin should fall does.

Depends on how falling is handled. A player might like fellow players- but feel that there should be some effect when another player who is supposed to not do anything Evil, does something they think is at least a little Evil- evil enough to qualify as an Evil act.

At the same time- they may want the other player to keep playing- and for the PC to become a Token Evil Teammate if they keep doing such acts, or to go on a quest for redemption- but not to leave the group.

Eorran
2010-07-05, 12:46 PM
Couple of points.
First, in a situation where a beaten foe "surrenders" to save his own life and get a better chance to shank someone later, the Paladin shouldn't be obliged to accept his surrender. "No, pick up your sword and we'll finish this" should be within his Code and his alignment.
(note: I've just recently seen Star Wars episode 3 and played Force Unleashed, and I'm sick of "hey, I beat this guy, but now I have to turn my back so he can try to gut me, otherwise it's bad to kill him")

If the Paladin has accepted his surrender, then he has a moral obligation towards the treatment of his prisoner. Whether he is authorized to perform a summary execution, or what sort of treatment surrendered enemies deserve, depends heavily on the campaign setting (ie the culture).

I don't think alignment or Code of Conduct should be used to handcuff the Paladin in this sort of situation; it's really easy to end up in a case where taking prisoners is beyond the reasonable capacity of the character.

Unless there happens to be an authority nearby with the might to contain the prisoner, who recognizes the Paladin's authority to make the "arrest", and is willing to deal with them, the paladin suddenly has a major detour. It's fine if he wasn't working on anything important, but at some point, you have to weigh options.

hamishspence
2010-07-05, 12:48 PM
Couple of points.
First, in a situation where a beaten foe "surrenders" to save his own life and get a better chance to shank someone later, the Paladin shouldn't be obliged to accept his surrender. "No, pick up your sword and we'll finish this" should be within his Code and his alignment.

Maybe- but smashing the guy's head in without even bothering to say "Surrender not accepted"? Perhaps a little iffy.

FatR
2010-07-05, 12:56 PM
Is this lone hobgoblin going to be a threat to either the king or the paladin in the future if he's knocked out and left alone? Probably not unless he's a particularly capable and/or influential hobgoblin. The "long term" effect is probably rather inconsequential in this case.
The king and the paladin aren't the only people in the world. This is exactly the sort of comic books hypocrisy I'm talking about, when the villain gets the "get out of smiting free" card merely by virtue of no longer being an immediate threat to the protagonists.

Of course, the treatment of prisoners in this particular situation (sorry, but I don't have time to reread the whole thread and find if this was clarified) depends on how exactly evil the faction to which the hobgoblin belonged and hobgoblins in general are. If their general idea of fun pasttime is torturing people to death in the name of the dark gods, I'd question the paladin's faithfulness to the code if he spared the hobgoblin. If they are more like your generic conquerors, who limit themselves to usual stuff, like rape, pillage and subjugation, things are as I described in my initial post.


Edit: Does Batman continually throw the badguys in Arkham just for them to break out and reak havok again? Yes. But Batman is not responsible for the security in Arkham.
He is responsible for repeatedly putting homicidal psychos in the prison that's proved time and again to be made of cardboard. But as he's generally portrayed in the comics as actulally mentally damaged and hanging on sanity only through following an inflexible behavior code to the letter, Batman at least has an excuse for the inherent hypocrisy of his morals. Also, we all know he really does it because popular comic book villains have contractual immunity.

Bharg
2010-07-05, 01:06 PM
If he would kill them, he would be just as bad.

ProfMoriarty
2010-07-05, 01:09 PM
This has changed my opinion on how to play as good as opposed to neutral. I would like to add my own theories into the pile if nobody minds.

Situation, law issue or moral issue
I think the problem with executing a prisoner who has surrendered being inherently evil is somewhat arbitrary when you believe that a threatening opponent is any more incapable of redemption than a helpless one. I think that distinction is a lawful one; it's a code of conduct for a knight or paladin but has no actual bearing on good or evil, as 'all' killing is evil,regardless if foe is.

Personal Opinion of Good
I do believe that if given the opportunity, the only truly 'good' choice is to take prisoners and see that they be given infinite chances at atonement. This is of course following the concept that every creature is capable of good and always capable of redemption; if not all creatures are capable of good or redemption, then we hit the grey area of determining who is inherently good or evil.

Paladin's have a vow of non-violence?
Given mercy would be the 'good' thing to do in any event, all paladins should wield Merciful weapons and deal non-lethal damage at all times because any justification for killing can come down to 'convenience'. If a foe is threatening you, it would still be 'evil' to try and kill them just because there is an added risk(or cost) of dealing non-lethal damage; a paladin who does no wrong would always take that personal risk to do the most good.

D&D Applications of Good is Nice:
Playing D&D like this would be very difficult (read: hard mode) and such a paladin will likely die to someone he attempts to save, and it would also likely happen early in his career. He would need to do some kind of diplomacy or side-quest event to solve every single bandit and troll's personal issues and convince them to follow the path of good as well as see that they do.

That would be an interesting campaign, where you try to solve every problem in the world by doing no evil. Defeating the bandits, find out that they resort to banditry because of the local baron has raised taxes and threatens to sell their farms etc.
Confront the baron to discover he raised taxes to build a large wall/army to defend his people from a neighboring country that threatens to invade.
The threatening country's king feels he needs to do this to feed his people due to a mysterious drought that threatens to starve his small country. The the party can solve this by getting the barony to send food, and by releasing the cursed drought which of course will somehow end peacefully as well.

Other Issues:
This also adds the problem that robbing a person of any of their belongings would be evil, even as punishment. So everyone must live and keep all their stuff. That means the only loot you get is whatever they are willing to give of their own free will. It could work; it could also mean no loot, which I am against.

What would be my solution:
I think that unless you are playing a 'good is nice' campaign, you should keep Vow of Non-violence or Vow of Peace restrictions away from the paladin and that a paladin can remain good as long as he follows a Personal/Paladin Code, which aims for 'good' but not necessarily nice. The code would outline what causes him to fall so he is clear on that part, it should aim to create more good than evil, because black and white can, but not always, be annoying, hard, or not fun.

An extreme paladin example
I also think that Kore the paladin, from the Goblin's webcomic, could be a playable, albeit ruthless, paladin in D&D. I believe the author has at one point declared Kore as being a paladin.
The following is a link to a comic in which Kore would be considered to cross the line.
Warning: blood, violence, implied death and mature subject matter (http://goblins.keenspot.com/d/20050917.html)


Similar Scenario in my own group
My own party faced a similar situation to the OP's. We took it upon ourselves to rescue the children of a small village from a band of ogres/ogre mages/bug bears who regularly steal the children to raise them as slaves, we are told.
While following the trail we were ambushed by bug bears, who were no match and promptly died except one, who due to rolling consecutive 1's had broken both his bow and magic morningstar. This one surrendered. After determining we could not interrogate him due to a language barrier, we had to decide:

To take him prisoner while on our way to raid a mountain full of untold horrors, ogres etc. to which he would slow us down and present many opportunities for him to escape or otherwise inconvenience us (risky to the mission)
Leave him bound so the forest would almost definitely kill him (decidedly more evil then a swift execution)
Leave him unarmed to let the forest judge him (as suggested by our paladin/greyguard of Cuthbert, possibly a neglectful act either giving the bugbear freedom to raid again or causing him to die to a random forest dweller)
'Attempt' to execute him with a special hammer that only kills evil creatures, and release a burden from their soul, purifies their soul or something (our DM believes this would be evil or at least as evil as execution since killing a nun is still evil even if you know it would be painless and she would go to heaven)
Execute him with a special greatsword - that most of the party didn't know would eat his soul for power (The fighter liked the idea of additional power)
Return him to the village for a trial, likely death, which could potentially lose us the trail of the ogres (then again, ogre tracks aren't that hard to follow)

Due to the extended moral discussion being of little interest to most players, the fighter who owned both special weapons took it upon himself to execute the bug bear with the sword. This caused him only to fall to true neutral from neutral good. His alignment chocie was random at best, and holding onto a potentially super-evil artifact that changed his sword. The paladin may or may not fall pending the DM's decision as the paladin neglected to protect the prisoner.

I will probably attempt to defend the execution as 'good enough'. Once I defend that a paladin is allowed to kill sentient creatures and that taking prisoners or striking down helpless creatures is a law/chaos issue, defending that our party is equipped to make lawful judgements should prove more difficult.

Keeping in mind that only the fighter is aware the bugbear's soul was stored in the sword. Whether or not the sword's powers destroy souls, or merely uses and releases them when activated remains to be seen.

This thread could be useful in defining a paladin for the DM, who is quite new to this.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-05, 01:24 PM
Kore is the paladin who fell, but doesn't know it.
That's what I think any way.

Soras Teva Gee
2010-07-05, 01:24 PM
Not all accidental death resulting from an action carried out intentionally- is incompetence. Sometimes it is, but not always. A character might die of surgery due to something the surgeon could not be expected to forsee. Or if the surgeon gives someone a sedative or anaesthetic that they turn out to be allergic to- but there was no way for the surgeon to know that.

Obviously, but none of that applies. This isn't an allergy or an unforeseable consequence. You injure someone already injured, not resisting, and they die, you had total control of the situation in the first place.


In real life though, "hitting someone on the head" to keep them unconscious for a few hours, is much riskier than in D&D- and a person doing so might be done for manslaughter, or even murder if they were in commission of a felony at the time.

What's HP or Non-lethal damage? How do I take a -4 on my roll? What is my roll?

Unless the Paladin has a particular feat regarding doing non-lethal damage (there exist at least two PrC that do that I know of) then they shouldn't have any sort of sureness with this manuver. Ergo they are delieberately taking a risk and should it not work out they are accountable to the consequences.

And the quote I responded to indicated the paladin had in fact failed to subdue rather then kill the foe. Its not nessecarily fall worthy, and forgivable even if, but not I don't know I'd give an exalted paladin the slack for a more cut and dried ethical manner. While executing (or in for this case refusing a surrender) has a lot more that needs to be considered.


1. This isn't a typical execution following a trial. This is a paladin deciding what to do with his surrendered opponent on the fly.
2. You can't attach all the baggage that makes execution 'legitimate' and not attach it to accidental death. If someone deserves execution, it's a little backwards to say that same someone doesn't deserve being knocked out with chance of death.

Depends on the particulars of the setting, situation, and their views of ethics. Strictly speaking this situation isn't even nessecarily an execution since its whether the paladin is required to honor the surrender. However as soldiers are allowed to kill it would be whether it fits one or both particular exceptions. Accidentially killing a prisoner you've taken does fits neither.

And I can only attach the baggage to the execution because that's what excuses it. There's aren't well established exceptions for screwing up.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-05, 01:28 PM
What's HP or Non-lethal damage? How do I take a -4 on my roll? What is my roll?
You just take it. The characters all can do that by default. There is no pre-requisite for the character to have that knowledge.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-05, 01:30 PM
Unless the Paladin has a particular feat regarding doing non-lethal damage (there exist at least two PrC that do that I know of) then they shouldn't have any sort of sureness with this manuver.


Yes they should. Punching someone in the gut cannot kill someone by the phsyical laws ("The Rules") of the D&D world. Nobody in default D&D can ever have died due to having been punched in the gut by someone not specially trained in gut-punching. The way the universe works simply doesn't allow it. Just about anyone who lives in a universe that operates this way, would be aware of it and able to take advantage of it. The same way that people knew if you dropped something it fell down, long before they had any concept of "Gravity". You don't have to know how the rules work, to know that they do work.

Is it "unrealistic"? Yes. Then again so is jumping into lava, naked, and swimming out without any protection magical, technological or otherwise. Perfectly possible in D&D.

It's also well within the tone of a "Heroic" game, which is the default mode for D&D. The single-blow knockout of plot convenient length is pretty widespread, so it wouldn't jar with most stories from a narrative standpoint either.

Boci
2010-07-05, 01:37 PM
What's HP or Non-lethal damage?

The result of you hitting someone with the enchanted piece of metal you carry around.


How do I take a -4 on my roll?

By trying to knock someone out with a weapon made to kill someone.


What is my roll?

Your attempt to wield your weapon.

Claudius Maximus
2010-07-05, 01:52 PM
The Paladin should have fallen for doing this. That is simply what the rules say.

As for arguing how this should work, in the context of D&D, I can not agree with any argument to the effect that killing the Hobgoblin was better than trying to knock him out. In the very worst case, you accidentally kill him and they're equivalent (and note that this is an outcome that can not actually happen by the rules of the game). Trying to knock him out adds the possibility that he can be redeemed. Actual good can come of it. If you just kill him, he's dead and that's that. BoED as much as says that though destroying evil removes evil from the world, redeeming evil both removes evil and adds good, and is therefore superior.

And there is simply no way that I'll agree that due process is crueler or less desirable than summary execution.

In the end, here's how I'd handle this in a game. A LG character can remain LG even if he kills the hobgoblin, since there is at least some justification and this isn't quite bad enough to cause a shift. A Paladin, on the other hand, would fall, since he can not ever break his code or do evil, no matter how convenient. I would of course make this apparent to any Paladin's player, since I absolutely hate surprise falls.

Doug Lampert
2010-07-05, 01:58 PM
If an assassin came into your house and tried to kill you, then surrendered when you kicked his ass, I'm pretty sure you'd still Get Out Of Jail Free if you killed him, no matter who witnessed the event.No. I probably wouldn't and shouldn't. Maybe the charge would be lessened to manslaughter, but I'm still going to prison. It's not self defense at that point.

I probably could get away with it in that Hypothetical, but ONLY because he attacked me inside my house and was STILL inside the house when I killed him and because of the jurisdiction I live in.

But if he steps outside the front door he smashed open on his way in and is standing on the porch when he surrenders then if I shoot him I can expect to be up for second degree murder at the minimum (there's a chance the jury will acquit, but basically I'm putting the rest of my life in the hands of 12 strangers if he's outside the house when I shoot him because the DA WILL file charges).

Heck, if he's running away, skipping with glee while yelling "I'll be back tomorrow with my six friends and we're gonna kill you and rape and kill your wife" and I shoot him to stop him from getting away then they'll STILL charge me with murder if he gets outside the house before I shoot him.

The key is that locally I'm allowed to ASSUME that anyone illegally in my house is an immediate threat to my life and limb and respond accordingly, but the moment that ends I need an immediate threat or I can't kill him. (If I were a police officer I could, because if he's running he's still a danger to others, but as a private citizen I can't shoot him unless he's an immediate threat, and "he'll be back" isn't immediate.)

Seriously, the real world, including the laws of war and the civil laws of every country I know about all agree that shooting prisoners without a hearing isn't justified.

Bharg
2010-07-05, 01:58 PM
Why am I always translating BoED into Book of Evil Darkness... Stupid brain!

Knocking someone out shouldn't be that dangerous considering a paladin to be able to stabilize or even heal him holily!

Sliver
2010-07-05, 02:32 PM
The "it's metagaming" argument is ridiculous! You know the rules, your character knows the result. Saying "I won't try to knock him with lethal damage because it could kill him" is more metagamy than taking the penalty and just doing it because that's not how the world of D&D works. You are applying foreign laws and invalid logic that you have from out of the game, to something that has no support in game. Your character doesn't know the numbers, but it knows the effects. He knows he can risk an ineffective attack in attempt to subdue a target safely. It's not some kind of secret lore.

Mike_G
2010-07-05, 03:39 PM
The "it's metagaming" argument is ridiculous! You know the rules, your character knows the result. Saying "I won't try to knock him with lethal damage because it could kill him" is more metagamy than taking the penalty and just doing it because that's not how the world of D&D works. You are applying foreign laws and invalid logic that you have from out of the game, to something that has no support in game. Your character doesn't know the numbers, but it knows the effects. He knows he can risk an ineffective attack in attempt to subdue a target safely. It's not some kind of secret lore.

It's ok.

If they do accidentally do lethal damage, they can always stick the hobgoblin's head in a bucket of water until his HP reset to 0.

Oslecamo
2010-07-05, 03:53 PM
It's ok.

If they do accidentally do lethal damage, they can always stick the hobgoblin's head in a bucket of water until his HP reset to 0.

If they do lethal damage and he doesn't die they can just stablize his wounds and let him there, he won't go anywhere soon.

Hallavast
2010-07-05, 03:57 PM
It's ok.

If they do accidentally do lethal damage, they can always stick the hobgoblin's head in a bucket of water until his HP reset to 0.

What's the risk to the paladin's physical health for conking the hobgoblin in the head compared to that of running him through? It's about the same.

With that said, which tactic is less likely to kill the helpless creature? That's really all that matters, and pretty much any character would know the answer without any kind of metagame insight into the rules.

Claudius Maximus
2010-07-05, 04:06 PM
Also, the Paladin could probably heal the hobgoblin if he really overdid it. I assume the king's personal bodyguard/escort would be high enough level for that.

And if it's almost impossible to kill someone with a single unarmed strike when you're trying to do it, there shouldn't be a problem when you're holding back.

Math_Mage
2010-07-05, 04:21 PM
Depends on the particulars of the setting, situation, and their views of ethics. Strictly speaking this situation isn't even nessecarily an execution since its whether the paladin is required to honor the surrender.

Required or not, he accepted it. Then killed the hobgoblin. In particular, killed the hobgoblin for convenience rather than ethics or morality.

Even in the general case, let's try not to get too far off topic by discussing whether paladins are required to accept surrenders in this type of scenario. Your contention was about execution vs. accidental death, so arguing about whether or not it's execution is only going to muddle things.


However as soldiers are allowed to kill it would be whether it fits one or both particular exceptions. Accidentially killing a prisoner you've taken does fits neither.

If soldiers are allowed to kill people in the hobgoblin's situation, and a soldier kills such a person in the process of attempting to knock him out, why do you rate the latter more negatively than the former?


And I can only attach the baggage to the execution because that's what excuses it. There's aren't well established exceptions for screwing up.

1. You try to knock out an innocent civilian, but kill him by accident.
2. You try to knock out an enemy soldier, but kill him by accident.

These two events do not have the same moral value, just as executing an innocent civilian does not have the same moral value as executing an enemy soldier. That's what I mean by baggage. By your reckoning, the soldier deserves execution, deserves death. If he receives it, why does the person trying to spare him get a worse rap?

But of course this is all moot, since the paladin can knock out the hobgoblin, tend his wounds briefly, and depart. If that's metagaming, well, so be it. At some point I have to recognize that I'm playing in the D&D universe, not reality. My characters can shoot lightning from their fingertips, turn into dinosaurs, visit other planes, fly, and--yes--knock people out without killing them. I'm comfortable with that.

Agrippa
2010-07-05, 05:19 PM
The paladin didn't have to kill the hobgoblin to stop him from harming anyone. He could have just as easily broken his prisoner's arms and legs and reset them at odd angles so when they finally do heal the hobgoblin prisoner will be crippled for life and require constant care to survive. If you simply do that everybody lives and you won't fall, if your DM makes paladins fall for killing their captured enemies no matter how dangerous they are.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-05, 05:21 PM
The paladin didn't have to kill the hobgoblin to stop him from harming anyone. He could have just as easily broken his prisoner's arms and legs and reset them at odd angles so when they finally do heal the hobgoblin prisoner will be crippled for life and require constant care to survive. If you simply do that everybody lives and you won't fall, if your DM makes paladins fall for killing their captured enemies no matter how dangerous they are.
That's much worse than just killing the guy.

Math_Mage
2010-07-05, 05:24 PM
That's much worse than just killing the guy.

Yeah, replacing death with a lifetime of torturous pain isn't really a great solution from an LG perspective...

Agrippa
2010-07-05, 05:35 PM
That's much worse than just killing the guy.

I was being sarcastic. I should have used some emoticons at the end to let you guys know. Besides, if the hobgoblin still posed a threat to others even after he was caught I'd see nothing wrong with sumarily exicuting him, especially if he hurt innocent, or even not so innocent people in the past. Remember kiddies, Good is not nice. If you make a living from rape, pillage and slaughter, don't expect any pity from your friendly neighborhood paladin. At best expect him or her to hand you over to the proper authorities to be tried and held to account for your crimes. If the penalty for your cimes is death and you've caused severe physical harm towards others, let's say commited murder, dont expect any paladin to grieve over you very much.

Shademan
2010-07-05, 05:40 PM
the hobgoblin was killed for the greater good. there were few alternatives and letting him loose could result in much greater evils.
the cosmic forces of good lets it slide for this time, I say.

Talakeal
2010-07-05, 05:52 PM
This is kind of a funny argument, one I would love to run into my games. The PhB specifically says that paladins must punish evil and LG characters never show mercy, and in the past I have actually fallen for NOT executed prisoners when dealing with black and white minded DMs.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-05, 05:57 PM
This is kind of a funny argument, one I would love to run into my games. The PhB specifically says that paladins must punish evil and LG characters never show mercy, and in the past I have actually fallen for NOT executed prisoners when dealing with black and white minded DMs.

Except the scenario in question doesn't just involve a PHB paladin. It involves an Exalted character. The quality of the book aside, specific material from BoED is being used and it does outline what constitutes "Good", "Evil" and "Not Good Enough to Be Exalted" in that context. Prisoner execution at the very least easily falls under "Not Good Enough to Be Exalted".

Claudius Maximus
2010-07-05, 06:06 PM
The PhB specifically says that paladins must punish evil and LG characters never show mercy, and in the past I have actually fallen for NOT executed prisoners when dealing with black and white minded DMs.

Where does it say that?

Talakeal
2010-07-05, 06:13 PM
I suppose never is a bit of an exageration. It says a lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished and the a paladin who fights without mercy in lawful good on page 104-105.

Bharg
2010-07-05, 06:43 PM
I suppose never is a bit of an exageration. It says a lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished and the a paladin who fights without mercy in lawful good on page 104-105.

Justice doesn't always have to mean "eye for an eye"...

Ravens_cry
2010-07-05, 08:04 PM
I suppose never is a bit of an exageration. It says a lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished and the a paladin who fights without mercy in lawful good on page 104-105.
There is a wee bit of difference between punishing and executing a surrendering prisoner. And by 'wee bit' I mean a few dozen parsecs.
As others have mentioned, a goblin is not a demon or devil, they may be redeemed. And there are ways to keep the goblin from interfering for the duration of the mission without killing him. And if he wounded him accidentally unto death, good grief, there is healing magic, some of which a paladin can apply himself.
It may be expedient to kill the goblin. It may be expedient to bow to the evil statue to everyone can get across the room without a fight.
But a Paladin, and all the more so an Exalted Paladin, serves a narrower, stricter path.
Without Mercy, Justice is base vengeance.

Ashram
2010-07-05, 08:12 PM
As a small side-note, I'll never understand the people who say "Nonlethal damage isn't violent!" I had an incident with this in a previous campaign, where a player who had levels in monk, Vow of Nonviolence and Peace habitually ran around and beat the crap out of people with his fists, all while saying "Lawl, I don't do HP damage, so clearly I don't lose my feats!"

Just because it doesn't kill you doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like a bitch.

Mr.Moron
2010-07-05, 08:13 PM
As a small side-note, I'll never understand the people who say "Nonlethal damage isn't violent!" I had an incident with this in a previous campaign, where a player who had levels in monk, Vow of Nonviolence and Peace habitually ran around and beat the crap out of people with his fists, all while saying "Lawl, I don't do HP damage, so clearly it's I don't lose my feats!"

Just because it doesn't kill you doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like a bitch.

Well it's certainly violent. It's just decidedly less violent and less permanent than a skull-crushing.

Kalirren
2010-07-05, 08:42 PM
To the OP:

I think you handled the situation quite well. I agree with you that the paladin doesn't deserve to fall or lose his exalted feats. I think he could have handled it better, and I think that upon discussing this with a superior of his order in character, you could require the Paladin to perform a minor penance of mercy.

Some courses of action I would have considered in the paladin's position:

1) Punching the hobgolbin in the head for nonlethal damage, thus knocking him out but sparing him, and moving on. An extremely, perhaps excessively, compassionate choice, given the circumstances.

2) Punching him in the head for a small amount of lethal damage and calling it trial by ordeal. In my opinion the best balance.

Both of these risk the hobgoblin being healed by his companions.

None of this changes the fact that the Paladin's first duty is to his gods and second to his king, and the choice he made was a prudent one given the circumstances, if hasty. Different gods might have different perspectives on this.

Devils_Advocate
2010-07-05, 10:35 PM
Re: metagaming, it's actually something of a point of contention whether the rules of an RPG should be considered the game world's natural laws or instead regarded as narrative conventions that don't necessarily hold "offscreen". Obviously, in the former case, it's absurd for characters in the game to think that things work the way that they do in our world instead of in the way that the characters observe things to work.


This ignores a very basic point: The rules do give an answer, though somewhat vague, and twistable if you want to start lawyering about it. The answer doesn't have to make sense for our world, it doesn't have to make sense at all. But theanswer has been given.
Where does it say in the rules what it means for something to be Good in the context of the alignment system? I don't see any statements in the alignment section of the PHB that are inherently definitive -- they don't contain relevant qualifiers like "all" or "only" -- and taking the given statements to be definitive leads to conclusions like "Killing innocents in order to protect other innocents is both Evil and Good". Now, I don't see anything saying that something can't be Evil and Good at the same time, but the normal assumption seems to be that something only has one alignment. We could toss out that assumption, but then we should be prepared to deal with the consequences of that.

This may be "twisting" by "lawyering", but it's also exploring the practical upshots of actually adopting possible definitions of "Good" and "Evil" for the purposes of implementing alignment. Now, you can take statements about Good and Evil and not directly use them to determine what alignments get assigned, but instead selectively apply them based on what "feels right". But I don't consider that to be "making sense of alignment".

It's well and good to acknowledge that "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it". It's disingenuous to say "I know it when I see it, and that's my definition". One could "define" "red" as "that which people deem 'red'", but that's a vacuous definition; any word could be "defined" in that fashion. A meaningful definition would explain what it is that causes people to label something "red".

Just having a cognitive black box that's consistent about what it applies a given label to isn't the same as knowing what that label means. To know what the label mean is to know a set of conditions that are necessary and sufficient to cause the cognitive black box to apply the label. :smallamused: Roughly speaking.

So the correct system of metaethics is the one that describes what it is that makes human beings deem things moral or immoral (if there is such a system). But! Alignment doesn't necessarily need to work like that. If one includes as an assumption of the setting cosmology that Good is independent of human opinions, then it's entirely appropriate for human beings to occasionally be horrified by Good things.


I miss when my D&D came with a degree of practical racism :\
The practicality of deliberately avoiding any peaceful relations with several entire sapient races is rather a bit dubious, all the more so if each one presents a significant threat.


The other key distinctions between adventuring in a city and delving into a dungeon is that a dungeon is, almost by definition, a lawless place where the only law is that of the jungle: Kill or be killed. A city, on the other hand, is held together by a code of laws, many of which are explicitly designed to prevent the sort of behavior that adventurers engage in all the time: killing and looting. Even so, most cities’ laws recognize monsters as a threat to the stability the city relies on, and prohibitions about murder rarely apply to monsters such as aberrations or evil outsiders. Most evil humanoids, however, are typically protected by the same laws that protect all the citizens of the city. Having an evil alignment is not a crime (except in some severely theocratic cities, perhaps, with the magical power to back up the law); only evil deeds are against the law. Even when adventurers encounter an evildoer in the act of perpetrating some heinous evil upon the populace of the city, the law tends to frown on the sort of vigilante justice that leaves the evildoer dead or otherwise unable to testify at a trial.
- the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm#urbanAdventures)

Killing all goblinoids because most goblinoids are Evil only really makes sense in the event that you want to kill all Evil people, in which case you'd do better to have a paladin scan everybody. But killing all Evil people generally takes a back seat to other goals. A sinister businessman may be Evil for trying to drive all of his competitors out of business so that he can establish a monopoly and gouge people on prices. And it may well be the case that his town would be better off without him. But it's likely that allowing murder would cause more harm to the public than the businessman would unimpeded, and thus a Lawful Good character will tend to attempt to prevent murder for this reason, and at least avoid personally committing murder. A Chaotic Good character might consider just killing the guy, but a sane one won't just assume that that's the best course of action (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MurderIsTheBestSolution). Just maybe it would be better to work against him in some other way?

So, "goblins are tolerated despite being usually Evil" because being Evil is itself tolerated. The main effect of persecuting Evil goblins but not Evil humans would seem to be to actively foster racial enmity, which, as I allude to above, seems pretty dumb.


in a situation where a beaten foe "surrenders" to save his own life and get a better chance to shank someone later, the Paladin shouldn't be obliged to accept his surrender. "No, pick up your sword and we'll finish this" should be within his Code and his alignment.
In retrospect, yeah, explicitly rejecting the surrender seems like the appropriate response. To potentially mislead the hobgoblin about how he will be treated seems needlessly (since he no longer poses a threat) deceptive. Still, provided that the paladin in the OP at worst inadvertently did so, I'd give him a pass.


I do believe that if given the opportunity, the only truly 'good' choice is to take prisoners and see that they be given infinite chances at atonement.
Is it Good to provide Evil creatures indefinite opportunity for redemption at the cost of indefinite harm to innocents? That seems dubious, but in a cosmology where to kill an Evil creature is to sentence it to be tortured by fiends for centuries, maybe it is. Of course, irredeemably Evil creatures could not be spared this fate in any event, so they are, as you note, a possible exception.

And if fiends don't have afterlives, in addition to being the ones who torture souls for centuries, then they're also an exception for different reasons.


An execution has zero moral value.

Because it is acting in place of some larger interest that allows it.
Is "just following orders" inherently amoral, such that it's not Evil to knowingly follow Evil orders? There's an argument to be made that it's not necessarily Evil just to personally be the one to do something that someone or other was going to do regardless, but what if that's not the case?


You are generally no more morally culpable then the weapon used.
... A weapon isn't morally culpable because it's a mindless inanimate object that takes no actions, rather than a moral agent willfully choosing how to behave. If an enchanter dominated you, then you would become merely a tool to another agent, freed of personal responsibility due to lack of choice. But normally, you can choose whether or not to act on someone else's behalf. Why would you be any less morally culpable for that choice than for any other?


When not within the realms of a legit execution it ceases to be an execution and becomes a form of murder.
Legitimacy is Lawful. It's no more inherently Neutral than it is inherently Good.


And I can only attach the baggage to the execution because that's what excuses it.
How is guaranteeing the hobgoblin's death any more excused/justified/whatever than merely risking his death?


There's aren't well established exceptions for screwing up.
But we're talking about someone deliberately deeming a particular known risk preferable to the alternative risks. It's not a goof, any more than dying in battle is immoral because the right thing to do would have been to prevail over your foe. Most people wouldn't consider that to be morally wrong. Attempting something with a possibility of failure, and negative consequences for failure, isn't generally seen as necessarily unethical, nor is actual failing so long as you tried your best. So, no, "exceptions for screwing up" seems more like the norm.


The Paladin should have fallen for doing this. That is simply what the rules say.
The BoED, maybe, but not the core rules, so far as I can see.


A Paladin, on the other hand, would fall, since he can not ever break his code or do evil, no matter how convenient.
A paladin's code of conduct does require that she help those in need, but only provided that they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends. On the other hand, it also requires that she punish those who harm or threaten innocents. It's not clear to me that killing the hobgoblin constitutes a violation of the code, nor is it clear how it's Evil in the event that attacking (ambushing?) the hobgoblin patrol wasn't Evil in the first place.


Required or not, he accepted it.
Did he, actually?


In particular, killed the hobgoblin for convenience rather than ethics or morality.
Eh? How so?


I suppose never is a bit of an exageration. It says a lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished and the a paladin who fights without mercy in lawful good on page 104-105.
Specifically, "Alhandra, a paladin who fights evil without mercy and protects the innocent without hesitation, is lawful good." So it seems pretty clear how the PHB's iconic paladin would have handled this situation, as it seems that killing the hobgoblin would fit with this description of her on both counts. Of course, one could argue that she's the sort of paladin that falls...

Incidentally, is there an official standard for how contradictions in the rulebooks are supposed to be handled? I've heard both "Specific trumps general" and "Go with the primary source", which would seem to be opposed approaches in at least some cases.


There is a wee bit of difference between punishing and executing a surrendering prisoner.
What, execution isn't a form of punishment? :smalltongue:


Without Mercy, Justice is base vengeance.
I have seen it argued that mercy is fundamentally opposed to justice, as mercy is to refrain from meting out deserved punishment. "The cop who doesn't shoot you when he pulls you over for speeding isn't being merciful" is how I think it was put. This is a matter of semantics, of course.

I should rather think that true justice, if there is such a thing, would include distributing rewards, not merely sometimes refraining from distributing punishments.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-05, 10:47 PM
What, execution isn't a form of punishment? :smalltongue:

It can be, but it is far more extreme then is warranted by the situation and has historically been considered dishonourable and repugnent.


I have seen it argued that mercy is fundamentally opposed to justice, as mercy is to refrain from meting out deserved punishment. "The cop who doesn't shoot you when he pulls you over for speeding isn't being merciful" is how I think it was put. This is a matter of semantics, of course.

I should rather think that true justice, if there is such a thing, would include distributing rewards, not merely sometimes refraining from distributing punishments.
Justice and Mercy are the Holy Opposites. Serving both is an arduous task.
But you are a Paladin, this is what you signed up for.

Devils_Advocate
2010-07-05, 11:42 PM
... unless, of course, you're just going by the PHB, which seems to lean more towards saying that paladins shouldn't be merciful. Obviously, the Book of Exalted Dumb changes things.

A man may, under some circumstances, be able to serve two masters, but in the event that his two masters are fundamentally opposed to each other, he's going to have to half-ass his service to at least one of them at best. And frankly, it's not reasonable to stretch the paladin code so far as to require paladins to protect innocents in general and to let Evil people get away with stuff in numerous specific circumstances. Making a character work at cross purposes like that does not strike me as a good idea.

Furthermore, striking the sort of balance you describe seems more appropriate to a Neutral Good character. I would expect a paladin to be more uncompromising, and to place the welfare of innocents on a higher level than that of villains. That doesn't even require directly valuing them differently. Some form of rule utilitarianism could be at work.

Amongst most D&D gaming groups, killing Evil people in order to protect other people is generally not considered to preclude a character from being Good-aligned. And, while paladins are obviously supposed to be more restricted even than most Lawful Good characters, Evil-killin' is basically what they specialize in. Righteously striking down wrongdoers who threaten the innocent is pretty much their job. Fanatical devotion to this job would seem to make more sense for them than restraint for the sake of restraint.

Knaight
2010-07-05, 11:59 PM
A man may, under some circumstances, be able to serve two masters, but in the event that his two masters are fundamentally opposed to each other, he's going to have to half-ass his service to at least one of them at best.

Case in point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_of_Two_Masters
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_of_Two_Masters)
And those two were not opposed in every way.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-06, 12:05 AM
You can play the Smite Now, Ask Questions later Paladin, if you want, but that's not how I see it. Paladins aren't just holy warriors, they are also healers. Not as much as their brothers in arms, the clerics, but it is still part of their skills. Healers of the soul as well as the body.
You are not just Lawful, you are also Good .And Good is merciful, it believes in second chances, it believes in redemption.
Being Lawful Good does not mean just letting Evil get what it wants, you have a duty to stop it, but stopping can be more then simply killing it. Is not the best way way to stop an enemy is to make it a friend? If nothing else, a dead evil soul can work their way up the ranks of demons or devils and become a far greater threat then they were alive.
A truly repentant individual will not mind labouring to redeem themselves. You may forgive them, but you are only one, it is up to themselves to show others they have truly changed.
You say it is hard to serve two masters? Of course it is. These are fundamental questions of morality and ethics, and you will have to face them as a paladin. This is what I enjoy about the Paladin class, the sheer role play challenge of it.

Asbestos
2010-07-06, 12:17 AM
TLDR, has anyone suggested a Jedi Knight style slicing-the-enemy's-hands-off? Or is that as evil or more evil than killing him?

Stephen_E
2010-07-06, 12:46 AM
I've only read the 1st page, but it already showed the mistake that many were making.

The hobgoblin was never a prisoner.
He tried to surrender, the Paladin didn't accept said surrender.
End of story.

Unless there is something specific to that Paladins code saying he MUST accept any and all surrenders then there is no real problem.

Stephen E

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 03:17 AM
There isn't- but there is something in the Exalted code saying you must accept a surrender if someone surrenders to you.

This isn't just a paladin- it's an Exalted paladin- which means they must choose Good over Law, and Mercy when it's asked for.

You don't have to always take enemies alive- but if they throw down their weapons and plead for mercy or even just say "I surrender", killing them becomes extremely iffy for an Exalted character.

Hmm- maybe the character could lose the benefit of VoP until they atone, but not the benefits of the Paladin class- because they committed an act inconsistant with the Exalted code, but consistant with the more brutal type of paladin- like Alhandra in PHB?

FelixG
2010-07-06, 03:34 AM
Im wondering how the pali justifies his choice of weapon with VoP already, but yes not granting mercy would defiantly be a no no for someone whos exalted.

If you give away all your worldly possessions to benefit others how is giving a hobgoblin mercy so far fetched?

Though this pali does sound like a shoe in for the Grey Guard PrC if you ask me :P he fits the type

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 03:49 AM
They're allowed Simple Weapons (such as maces)- i'm not sure if Morningstar counts- maybe the OP said Morningstar when they meant mace?

The Shadowbane Inquisitor is another paladin PRC which (in the fluff) tends to be more ruthless than your average paladin.

what caught my attention was that the bandit camp was a mixed hobgoblin/human camp- hobgoblins and humans are working together.

Had it been a human bandit and not a hobgoblin who tried to surrender to the paladin- would people have been even more leery of the paladin's behaviour?

Rasman
2010-07-06, 04:10 AM
there are a lot of pages on this, but I want to give an honest opinion before I read any of it

there, in fact, is probably not a correct answer to this question, BUT, the rationalization is there

sometimes, when there are lives on the line, you've gotta do what you gotta do...looking at it from the Paladin's perspective, taking this one life could possibly save MANY others, had he let the Hobgoblin live it could have caused the death of the boy prince and many of the people in the camp, either directly or indirectly

looking at it from the other side of the line though, the Hobgoblin could have proven useful in infiltrating the camp and helping prisoners escape, he could have been forced into doing these deeds by a power that he detested and wanted to do some right. the Paladin could have also elected to just deal non-lethal and/or subduel damage, enough to make sure the Hobgoblin didn't wake for QUITE a long amount of time

but living in the "what ifs" is nonsense, if you do that, you'll just drive yourself mad. What the Paladin did was, in his eyes, for the greater good of saving the lives of the people in the camp and in protecting the boy prince.

Lastly, I swear I'm done after this, the last line in the Paladin Code of Conduct states "...,and punish those who harm or threaten innocents." You could simply validate that the Paladin was fulfilling this final part of the code and issuing judgment to someone who had been placing people into Holocaust-like internment camps.

FelixG
2010-07-06, 04:15 AM
sometimes, when there are lives on the line, you've gotta do what you gotta do...looking at it from the Paladin's perspective, taking this one life could possibly save MANY others, had he let the Hobgoblin live it could have caused the death of the boy prince and many of the people in the camp, either directly or indirectly


This is a very very slippery slope for a good character much less a pali.

If killing one person in cold blood is justafiable to save multitudes, why not 2? or 5? or 10?

"That Thorp over there has housed a few enemies after they escape justice...well it will save many victims in the future if that thorp couldn't shelter criminals anymore!" pali slaughters a thorp full of people for the greater good...where does it end if you justify one death to save (possibly) many more?

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 04:21 AM
Probably Shadowbane Inquisitor or Grey Guard as one stage in the process, and the end point being Evil Alignment.

In Tome of Magic, the witch hunter Michael Ambrose is a Lawful Evil ex-paladin blackguard- who thinks he's still a good character, and the inability to use paladin powers has nothing to do with his actions.

I'm not sure how he rationalizes "has blackguard powers" to himself though.

Rasman
2010-07-06, 04:40 AM
This is a very very slippery slope for a good character much less a pali.

If killing one person in cold blood is justafiable to save multitudes, why not 2? or 5? or 10?

"That Thorp over there has housed a few enemies after they escape justice...well it will save many victims in the future if that thorp couldn't shelter criminals anymore!" pali slaughters a thorp full of people for the greater good...where does it end if you justify one death to save (possibly) many more?

we're not dealing with a "thorp" full of people, we're dealing with one person, your situation doesn't really apply here because it involves totally different circumstances

the situation we're discussing involves something that SWAT teams and tactical forces have to deal with ALL the time, whether to take a life in order to save others, even if you're uncertain if taking that life will actually save those others, if there's a chance that inaction can cause greater harm than the action you can take, sometimes you just have to take that action...and the Hobgoblin wasn't exactly an innocent person, he had done evil

FelixG
2010-07-06, 04:45 AM
The example i gave was rationalization, if you can rationalize killing one person who is no imediate threat AFTER they beg you for mercy (surrendering and throwing down the weapon) then killing alot of people could follow after.

And in your example, a swat or tactical team wont just gun a person down who has a gun laying at their feet with their hands up saying please dont kill me, now if the hob had the elven child around the neck and was holding a dagger there there might be a different story.

Criminals might do that but not law enforcment officers, people who uphold LAW and GOOD for example, they would take the person down, incapacitate them if you will... what was it that this pali did again? Right, the person asked for mercy but was denied it.

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 04:47 AM
But if a SWAT team engages a force of guys, and the last man standing throws down his weapons, sticks his arms in the air, and says "I surrender" the SWAT team will generally face a lot of questions if they just kill him anyway.

As to the hobgoblin's actions- we don't know from the original post, how much evil the hobgoblin had done. Yes- he could have been a long-standing kidnapper and murderer- or he could have been a youngling who'd only just reached adulthood and been given his first weapons and mission (patrol).

SWAT teams aren't allowed to execute- they are only allowed to use violence in furtherance of the mission, not as punishment of criminals who surrender.

The question is whether paladins are more like modern cops, SWAT teams, armed forces, etc, and not allowed to act as judge and jury themselves, or whether the D&D setting treats paladins as like Megacity Judges- with the power to assess a person's degree of guilt themselves, and decide sentence as well as mete it out.

Snake-Aes
2010-07-06, 05:05 AM
The basic assumption of someone who chooses to epitomize the concepts of order and good is that anyone that can be redeemed is worth sparing. The guy surrendered. Killing him outright just doesn't do it.

Psyx
2010-07-06, 05:05 AM
"It can be, but it is far more extreme then is warranted by the situation and has historically been considered dishonourable and repugnent."

Eh? What history books are you reading? Execution/death was punishment for pretty much anything in most societies. Jail was just a place you kept people until their punishment was decided. The idea of punishing people by simply locking them up for years is fairly modern. The idea of capturing people for fair trial is also very enlightened. Being executed was pretty dishonourable... for the person being executed. That was the point. The other point was that they wouldn't do it again, of course. A pirate, robber or criminal surrendering should probably not expect their surrender to be honoured, and certainly wouldn't expect it to result in any mercy other than a quick death.

I think that we're either getting 'LG' mixed up with 'really impracticality naive' or are tainting it with our modern idea of 'good'. This is a fantasy world of violent times very unlike our own. Being a bandit is cause for a death sentence. Being a hobgoblin is pretty much cause for death too. Tossing down your weapon doesn't mean that 'just' fate is avoided. It just means the fight over. The fight being over still doesn't mean you don't die. Heck: Poaching would probably be enough grounds fro execution, but we'll assume that Paladins rather than LN/LE knights overlook such mild offences and only really punish the big ones... like banditry and kidnapping. Those are seen as evil acts and are against the law. Perfectly acceptable grounds for the paladin delivering lethal justice.

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 05:10 AM
The idea of capturing people for fair trial is also very enlightened.

It goes right back to Magna Carta- nobody can be executed without some kind of hearing.


Being a hobgoblin is pretty much cause for death too.

Maybe in Gygax-era D&D, but not now. Now, goblins and hobgoblins are routinely citizen's of human societies. Second-class citizens, but still citizens.

D&D technology is pretty late- full plate armour, rapiers, bombards- it's not implausible that the "rights of sentients" has also advanced a bit.

DMG2 points out that playing a "historically accurate" concept of society, isn't going to be much fun for players playing female characters.

Rasman
2010-07-06, 05:11 AM
The example i gave was rationalization, if you can rationalize killing one person who is no imediate threat AFTER they beg you for mercy (surrendering and throwing down the weapon) then killing alot of people could follow after.

And in your example, a swat or tactical team wont just gun a person down who has a gun laying at their feet with their hands up saying please dont kill me, now if the hob had the elven child around the neck and was holding a dagger there there might be a different story.

Criminals might do that but not law enforcment officers, people who uphold LAW and GOOD for example, they would take the person down, incapacitate them if you will... what was it that this pali did again? Right, the person asked for mercy but was denied it.

I never said there were no alternatives, heck, I made cases for both sides.

You also have to consider, because someone has "given up" doesn't mean they actually gave up. Mercy is a convenient way to get yourself killed, especially in a time of war. And don't tell me going to bust these people out of a internment camp isn't going to turn into a deadly battle. You either have to be incredibly trusting or stupid to allow an enemy who was just trying to kill you surrender without a way to ensure they won't wait until your back is turned to slit your throat.

I didn't want to use this reference, but I'm going to. Look at Saving Private Ryan. In the scene where they take out the enemy MG position that had be killing men by the dozens they captured a German soldier. Rather than kill him, since they didn't have a way to detain him and couldn't take him with them, Tom Hanks character decides to take all his weapons and let him go rather than kill him. At the end of the movie, at the battle at the bridge that same soldier shoots and kills Hanks' character and possibly many other men, I believe one or two others that we actually see but my memory is a little fuzzy. Had Hanks allowed the mans death, which occurs anyway, not only could he have prevented his own death but also the deaths of many other good men. This is a VERY similar situation, but with a different response.

Moral issues aside, if you look at it by RAW, he was still upholding the Paladin code via the last section of the code.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-06, 05:36 AM
The Paladin code refers to a Paladin acting with honour. What this means is primarillu left to the player and DM to decide. If an enemy earnestly surrenders (you put some points into sense motive, one of your class skills, right?), I think it would be both honourable and good, good being interested in mercy, to accept such a surrender. Yes, it might cost you. But if you were interested in your own skin only, you wouldn't be a paladin.

Mike_G
2010-07-06, 05:39 AM
But if a SWAT team engages a force of guys, and the last man standing throws down his weapons, sticks his arms in the air, and says "I surrender" the SWAT team will generally face a lot of questions if they just kill him anyway.

As to the hobgoblin's actions- we don't know from the original post, how much evil the hobgoblin had done. Yes- he could have been a long-standing kidnapper and murderer- or he could have been a youngling who'd only just reached adulthood and been given his first weapons and mission (patrol).

SWAT teams aren't allowed to execute- they are only allowed to use violence in furtherance of the mission, not as punishment of criminals who surrender.

The question is whether paladins are more like modern cops, SWAT teams, armed forces, etc, and not allowed to act as judge and jury themselves, or whether the D&D setting treats paladins as like Megacity Judges- with the power to assess a person's degree of guilt themselves, and decide sentence as well as mete it out.

All these groups you cite act as part of a big organization with the backing of the State. Cops don't execute, they arrest, because they have a radio for backup, and a jail to take people to and a court system.

If the SAS or Green Berets are sneaking up on an enemy camp in the mountains of Afghanistan, hundreds of miles from support, to rescue prisoners, with, say, an important Afghan official who is an ally, and they wipe out a Taliban patrol except for one guy, do you think they jeopardize the mission by taking him along, or alert the camp by calling in a dangerous helicopter extrication for one low level prisoner?

Or do you think they deal with him quickly, expediently and continue on the mission?

Adventurers are generally out in the wild, far from courts, jails, etc. They would be expected to make these decisions.

FatR
2010-07-06, 05:40 AM
The Paladin should have fallen for doing this. That is simply what the rules say.
No, they don't.



A Paladin, on the other hand, would fall, since he can not ever break his code or do evil,
Now you only have to prove that killing evil beings is evil, even though that Paladin's freaking job. Moreover, Paladin's code explicitly demands to punish those who harm or threaten innocents. The original situation is only dubious because the pally easily could have knocked the hobbo senseless and didn't bother to get a proof that the hobbo was, in fact, evil.

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 05:41 AM
Tricky question is whether the paladin thinks that the surrendered hobgoblin will jeopardize the mission to rescue the prisoners in the encampment.

Of course, if he's Honorable Evil, he might feel that he owes so much to the guy who spared his life, that it overrides any loyalty to the band he was a part of- and could be your greatest asset to the mission.

Depends how the DM wants to play it.

From a slightly metagame point of view "bad guys that surrender" are traditionally plot hooks- if they were intended to be disposable, they would have tried to flee, or fought to the death.

FelixG
2010-07-06, 05:42 AM
True, them giving up doesn't necessarily mean they wont slit your throat the next moment you turn your back, thats why you knock them the heck out. Lets look at firefly for this example, Malcom Raynolds has YoSaphBridge dead to rights, she triued to kill him and his crew before. Before he leaves he punches her square in the face and KOs her, why? because he doesnt trust her.

Now lets look at our pali here, he has two perfectly good fists, a hob gob who surrenders and throws down his weapon. Could have just as easily said "Sorry boyo, i cant just let you leave, you may warn your buddies about where we are going." WHAM one to the temple and hes KOd (especialy at such low HP)

This would have been a perfectly acceptable solution for an EXALTED paladin, this paladin however, looked once at the monster who was surrendering, found it inconvenient, (of course the player is going to put a positive spin on his own actions, he doesn't want to loose his powers) so he just bashes his skull in and kill him. Thats neither exalted (Vow of Poverty) and it follows the letter of the pali code but it doesnt follow the intention.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-06, 05:43 AM
No, they don't.


Now you only have to prove that killing evil beings is evil, even though that Paladin's freaking job. Moreover, Paladin's code explicitly demands to punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
As I,and others have mentioned, you can punish without killing and there is a difference between killing when the others is threatening your life or those you are protecting and killing when the other (quite possibly) earnestly surrendered.

Psyx
2010-07-06, 05:44 AM
"It goes right back to Magna Carta- nobody can be executed without some kind of hearing."

No; Freemen cannot be executed without some kind of hearing. Bandits are not Freemen. Humanoid bandits definitely aren't.
Many 'enlightened' feudal societies had a whole butt-ton of laws and rights that you wavered by being a bandit / the wrong caste / not a citizen of the country.
A citizen is a valuable member of society. As soon as you become a vagabond or bandit, society withdraws the protection of rights.


"Maybe in Gygax-era D&D, but not now. Now, goblins and hobgoblins are routinely citizen's of human societies. Second-class citizens, but still citizens."

That's a GM call, and game world dependant. I'm from the Gygax era and Goblinoids in games I run certainly aren't citizens and can expect a pitchfork welcome if they wander into town. I prefer my high fantasy to be less happy-clappy-let's-not-judge-him-just-because-he's-a-orc-with-one-eye and more traditionally black and white. Any player accepting the surrender of an evil bandit while creeping up to his camp can expect to get a literal or metaphorical stab in the back for their abject naivety.

Psyx
2010-07-06, 05:45 AM
"As I,and others have mentioned, you can punish without killing"

You can; but this is a high fantasy game, and I don't really want my knights in shining armour to start dishing out community service and insisting on beating people unconscious with rubber truncheons.

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 05:49 AM
Now you only have to prove that killing evil beings is evil, even though that Paladin's freaking job. Moreover, Paladin's code explicitly demands to punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Killing evil beings when it's absolutely necessary isn't evil- but the Exalted (as opposed to just the Paladin) character's job, is to be aware that often killing an evil character is not necessary, nor appropriate for the situation.

Classic example is an law-abiding evil character in a town. A paladin who scans him as Evil and promptly cuts him down, is going to Fall for the act of murder.



No; Freemen cannot be executed without some kind of hearing. Bandits are not Freemen. Humanoid bandits definitely aren't.
Many 'enlightened' feudal societies had a whole butt-ton of laws and rights that you wavered by being a bandit / the wrong caste / not a citizen of the country.
A citizen is a valuable member of society. As soon as you become a vagabond or bandit, society withdraws the protection of rights.

This generally required that the person be outlawed first- if a person takes up banditry before being outlawed, they'll usually get a hearing of some sort.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-06, 05:53 AM
"As I,and others have mentioned, you can punish without killing"

You can; but this is a high fantasy game, and I don't really want my knights in shining armour to start dishing out community service and insisting on beating people unconscious with rubber truncheons.
Look at Lord of the Rings, high fantasy at its best. How often was mercy offered, even to such pathetic creatures as Gollum or a cast down Saruman.
"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?"

FatR
2010-07-06, 05:55 AM
As I,and others have mentioned, you can punish without killing and there is a difference between killing when the others is threatening your life or those you are protecting and killing when the other (quite possibly) earnestly surrendered.
No, there isn't. First of all, it is much too late to earnestly surrender when not only you're in melee combat, but already are practically incapacitated by enemy blows. It is even only techically possible because of the combat round mechanics. Second, there might be a difference, but not necessarily, as I said before, this very much depends on situation. Also, you, as palaidin, actually are supposed to make calls whether there is a difference or whether the enemy should be executed anyway, because you and your PC buddies are judges, jury, executioners and the whole police force anyway. Of course, your call might be wrong. In this particular situation it is might even be rather dubious. But hardly a reason to fall.

FelixG
2010-07-06, 05:56 AM
"As I,and others have mentioned, you can punish without killing"

You can; but this is a high fantasy game, and I don't really want my knights in shining armour to start dishing out community service and insisting on beating people unconscious with rubber truncheons.

Seems more like you want "kick down the door RWAR HULK SMASH" gamess than "high fantasy" gamess to me....

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 05:58 AM
Or Wormtongue, for that matter.

That said, Faramir and company were perfecty willing to kill even (as far as they knew) innocent strangers that found the way to their secret hideout- and it required quite a bit of fast-talking for Frodo to persuade them not to kill Gollum.

Aragorn does spare the humans who choose to surrender in the final battles though- and in Rohan some of the Dunlanders are spared- which surprises them, since Saruman told them that the Men of Rohan burn enemy prisoners alive.


No, there isn't. First of all, it is much too late to earnestly surrender when not only you're in melee combat, but already are practically incapacitated by enemy blows. It is even only techically possible because of the combat round mechanics.

Dropping a weapon and sticking arms high in the air is the traditional symbol of surrender. Yelling "I surrender" on top of this makes the message pretty clear.

It's a common trope for a character who sees he's outnumbered and doomed, to throw down his weapon.

Ravens_cry
2010-07-06, 06:04 AM
No, there isn't. First of all, it is much too late to earnestly surrender when not only you're in melee combat, but already are practically incapacitated by enemy blows. It is even only techically possible because of the combat round mechanics. Second, there might be a difference, but not necessarily, as I said before, this very much depends on situation. Also, you, as palaidin, actually are supposed to make calls whether there is a difference or whether the enemy should be executed anyway, because you and your PC buddies are judges, jury, executioners and the whole police force anyway. Of course, your call might be wrong. In this particular situation it is might even be rather dubious. But hardly a reason to fall.
I don't like the all or nothing nature of the fall mechanic. First, start with a role play ding, your god or goddess appearing in a vision to tell you that was a Bad Move. Keep it up and you get a penalty to everything, say -2. This increases. Then your mount won't come when you call. Finally, you are stripped entirely, and you got some major atoning to do, buster.
But this is an Exalted Paladin held to an even higher standard.

hamishspence
2010-07-06, 06:17 AM
Agreed- this was the method in Quintessenial Paladin 2.

I did suggest earlier that the paladin could lose his Exalted feat without losing his Paladin status. Might not exactly be RAW, but:

"a gross violation of the Exalted principles that isn't exactly an unambiguously evil act"

seems like the best description of this act.

On "bandits having no rights and being killable with impunity" I don't think present-day D&D takes that approach. A better parallel would be pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy- people of no nation, "enemies of all mankind" but when a pirate ship was defeated, everyone on the ship got a hearing, so they could claim things like:

"I was a prisoner- every time I went into action it was under threat of death"
"I was a hostage and didn't actually participate at all"
"I was a doctor and only treated the pirates- again under threat"

and so on.

Whether the courts believed them, they got their say.

Boci
2010-07-06, 06:23 AM
Dropping a weapon and sticking arms high in the air is the traditional symbol of surrender. Yelling "I surrender" on top of this makes the message pretty clear.

It's a common trope for a character who sees he's outnumbered and doomed, to throw down his weapon.

I think his point was that in a duel, or any one-on-one combat, if your opponent drops their weapon you may have killed them before you have time to realize why they did that, or what they said.

FelixG
2010-07-06, 06:28 AM
I think his point was that in a duel, or any one-on-one combat, if your opponent drops their weapon you may have killed them before you have time to realize why they did that, or what they said.

Problem being it wasnt a duel



The last hobgoblin, knocked to 0 hitpoints, drops his weapons and surrenders. At this point, the boy is watching very carefully to see what the Paladin will do. At this time, the Paladin raises his morningstar, and brains the surrendered hobgoblin, attempting to make the death as humane as possible given the conditions.


Fact remains that he murdered this creature. Despite how "humane" he may have tried to make it the creature was there, helpless, asking for mercy and he smashed the life right out. Its not like the critter dropped the weapon and screamed i surrender as the pali was swinging, the pali had time to raise the morningstar OVER HIS HEAD and attempt to be humane about it... that implies premeditation.