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View Full Version : Many ways to fall - which one's the worst?



Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 07:49 AM
On the field of roleplaying games, there are many variables - players desire and whim (including the GM), letter of the rules and, of course, dice (more often than not).

Especially the latter two are meant to be benevolent - a fair guideline for solving whose vision takes precedence. But like they say, path to hell is paved with good intentions (maybe literally, in the context of a game) - every now and then a misfortunate roll or an unfavorable rule put the player and his character to Catch-22 situations where the only way is down.

This thread is about discussing all the various situations where a character no longer has an easy way out, how you deal with them either as a GM or player, and which ones you hate the most and why.

One near-legendary dilemma that rears its head on these forums on a steady basis is that of Paladin facing a situation where all reasonable courses of action lead to Falling. I've even seen some players resent such scenarios to a point that they demand there should always be a "third option" (ie., road that achieves the desired goal without falling) when a Paladin is in play.

Personally, I find this a bit silly - what's atonement supposed to be for, then? There also seems to be a pervasive opinion that these kinds of moral lose - lose scenarios are a sign that a GM is out to get the player. I often feel in-game action and consequence is left to the wayside when people are too keen to pin the blame in OOC manner to either the player or the GM.

I've come to conclude these debates exist mainly because moral failure has distinct, spelled-out in-game penalty; there's a common reference point for players to feel upset towards. But severe in-game consequences for moral failure or compromise are hardly unique to Paladin class(es) of D&D fame; the possibility is implicit in almost all game systems I know of. I accept it as a natural part of roleplaying, and as a GM rarely feel the need to dull the edges due to my principle of "sometimes, things just happen". As a player, I consider such events some of the most interesting ones. How about you? How high does having to pick of two evils rank on your "I hate it when..." list?

("Sometimes, things just happen": This is a gameleading principle that stems from my a relatively hands-off approach to the rules of a game once they've been set in place. As a GM, I provide framework for a game - within that framework, my players are free to do as they may. Instead of making them follow my story, I let them write theirs. I don't veto their actions just because I could, for example. If they manage to pull out something ludicrous out of sheer luck (such as kill the big bad in one blow), well, good for them. Sometimes, things just happen and the game moves on from there.

The flipside is that I also won't bail them out from a tough situation just because I could; outside a clear rules-mistakes I won't fudge rolls, retcon plot elements or give second chances. I do this to convey the feeling that if my players manage to screw themselves up, they've truly screwed themselves, and they can't pin the blame on me just because I refused to Deus Ex Machina them out that time. Sometimes, this leads to Catch-22 no-one wanted, expected or worked towards, to which I respond by shrugging my deific shoulders; sometimes, things just happen. That's life.)

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Another loss that seems widely hated is that caused by random encounters. Few bad rolls, and suddenly a priorly victorious bunch of PCs is faced with almost certain death, either in the encounter or as a result of it.

I think this mostly stems from a sharp dichtomy people make between "plot" and "random" encounters. Random encounters are perceived as filler - they're not meant to be important, so if they suddenly influence the story, it's a bad thing.

To me, the line between random and predetermined isn't that same as that between plot and filler. Indeed, I rely mostly on random encounters - I just handle them like they were just as important as predetermined ones, and weave them into the story. So whether the player win or lose, the victory or loss is just as dramatic whether an encounter is random or not.

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The kinds of losses I hate the most are those that are caused purely by stupidity, and are thus anti-climactic no matter how you twist or turn them. A great example happened when of my players had his character to go alone to the woods on a foreign island, without a map or a compass, shelter, food or even proper clothing. (Particularly egrerious since my current players are all scouts - they should know a thing or two about hiking in the wilds.) Only one other player thought that maybe they should go after him - all the rest decided to travel to the other side of the island.

Result: one character lost in the woods. Bravo. It was completely avoidable, and stemmed from thoroughly unnecessary action. Cue this. (http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kww58lohY61qz4th4o1_400.jpg)

Yora
2011-07-05, 09:28 AM
Unless everyone is dead, failure doesn't mean the campaign ends. You just have to keep going with what you have. No real problem.

caden_varn
2011-07-05, 10:06 AM
Re. the Paladin falling due to being put in a lose-lose situation - it depends on why the Pally was in this position. If it was due to player stupidity, then some in-game consequence is called for, but if it is due to circumstances outside their knowledge or control, I personally would not have them fall. Provided they take the route that they genuinely believe is best, even if it entails doing bad stuff, they would not fall - if they were in the impossible situation through no fault of their own. In my games, Paladins are held to high standards, higher than others perhaps, but not impossibly perfect ones.
Now, this doesn't mean that the Paladin himself may not feel guilt, and perhaps won't feel worthy of his powers, and may even lose them this way (it would be through player choice). That is something that can be handled through roleplay, and has happened at least once (with me playing the Paladin).

Also, I don't particularly like the concept of someone falling for a single deed. If it is truly horrific then that might be justified, but otherwise some warnings are in order. The paladin may be visited by ominous dreams, or other members of his order, or an angel or some other such and warned to mend his ways. This may not be RAW, but it is a more reasonable way to deal with the situation IMO.

Finally, as people's perceptions of exactly what good and evil entails tend to vary, I always think it is good for DMs of Paladins to give warning when the paladin is straying into dubious territory. This way the player is aware that the DM sees an issue, which the player may well not agree with. Doesn't stop them from doing it if they still want, just so that they the player do it knowingly and you avoid an ethics argument after the fact (ethics arguments before the fact are likely to be less heated. I hope.)

As for other ways to fail, I personally dislike it when a run of bad dice rolls falls against the group and causes a death (assuming this is at a point where coming back from the dead won't happen, be that due to low level or type of game). If you have a character concept and personality that you really liked, that fit in with the game well, and a few bad dice rolls kills it off, it is fairly annoying. It's also life, and without the possibility of failure success would lose its savour for me, but why does it always have to happen to the really good characters?

As for people killing themselves through stupidity - well, let them die. I'll generally try to be reasonably nice about letting them recover from 'minor' stupidities, but if they insist on compounding them after the issue has come to light, it's their problem. Fortunately this rarely happens in my group.

Quietus
2011-07-05, 10:09 AM
I think the problem with the Paladin being put in a lose-lose situation is at least twofold.

One : The Paladin is a weak enough class already. Why in the world are you trying to screw him over specifically? Why should one class get picked on just because they have a code of honor?

Two : "Kill the baby to beat the demon, fall for killing the baby! Fail to kill the baby and you fall for letting the demon loose on the world!" - this is one of the scenarios most frequently touted in these discussions, and frankly, it's a terrible one. You've been put in a lose-lose situation where the DM has put everything in place specifically to strip your underpowered ass of the few nice things you do have. In-game, though, yeah, a Paladin should LOOK for a third option, but if one doesn't exist, is their deity really going to make them fall because some jerkass put them in a situation they couldn't do anything about? There should be some serious grief-based roleplay over it, major angst, but no bolt of light that turns all their blues to grays. Not over something they had no choice in.

hamishspence
2011-07-05, 10:09 AM
Also, I don't particularly like the concept of someone falling for a single deed. If it is truly horrific then that might be justified, but otherwise some warnings are in order. The paladin may be visited by ominous dreams, or other members of his order, or an angel or some other such and warned to mend his ways. This may not be RAW, but it is a more reasonable way to deal with the situation IMO.

Some 3rd party splatbooks do it this way.

Quintessenial Paladin II, for example.

(It also has "partial falling" where the paladin loses some of their class features but not all, on a sliding scale. As well as aggravating and mitigating factors.).

Yora
2011-07-05, 10:16 AM
The real issue with the fall/fall paladin situations is, that a paladin can not fall for simply failing to prevent an evil. Falling is for not taking action when there were still options, or directly going against the codex.

If there are two evils to stop, and you can stop only one, so be it. It's not the paladins fault and he couldn't have done anything, so no falling here.

caden_varn
2011-07-05, 10:20 AM
The real issue with the fall/fall paladin situations is, that a paladin can not fall for simply failing to prevent an evil. Falling is for not taking action when there were still options, or directly going against the codex.

If there are two evils to stop, and you can stop only one, so be it. It's not the paladins fault and he couldn't have done anything, so no falling here.

That's essentially my POV. Sadly, it seems some DMs don't agree with it, looking at the multifarous Paladin fall threads one sees...

hamishspence
2011-07-05, 10:27 AM
The tricky part is when stopping one requires doing an iffy act- murder, torture, soul destruction, and so on.

GoatToucher
2011-07-05, 11:03 AM
As for Random encounters; I am not a fan. I have things to do to progress my story during a session, and I'm not going to let a bad dice roll cause us to waste a half hour fighting a pack of wolves.

That said, I will occasionally plan encounters for the players to run into while traveling or resting, in order to illustrate the dangers of the forest etc. However, if they are clever or wary, they can avoid these encounters.

For example, last session the players (lvl 3) encountered a dire boar while makihg thier way up a river (that was carrying some magical run off that was affecting the local flora and fauna). They killed it, carved off some choice cuts of meat and then moved on because "In a couple of hours every scavenger in these woods will be all over the carcass." In fact, had they parked nearby, they sould have encountered a pair of slicer beetles come to feast on the boar. Clever thinking allowed them to avoid an encounter. Lack of it would have provided an object lesson.

MightyTim
2011-07-05, 11:35 AM
I've never actually played a paladin, but if I did, I'd actually put in a request to the DM that my character's fall, and subsequent redemption, be made a part of the story. But maybe I'm a bit masochistic like that.

I think the main problem of the DM forcing the Paladin's fall stems from an issue of the DM having different plans for a character than the person playing him. The DM sees a great story arc involving a fall from grace, and the road to attonement, while the PC sees it as "You just gimped my character with nothing I could do to prevent it!" Basically, a DM really should consult the PC playing the paladin before they force a 'lose-lose' moral choice on them.

As for player stupidity.. sometimes those make for the most memorable experiences, and running jokes. Even if it is horrible from a game perspective, when it's all said and done, it can be pretty fun for players if you/they spin it that way.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 02:03 PM
One : The Paladin is a weak enough class already. Why in the world are you trying to screw him over specifically? Why should one class get picked on just because they have a code of honor?


There are three distinct issues here. One is Paladin being a weak class, which makes the situation look like beating on someone who's already down - but that's a system-specific thing. It doesn't have any bearing on the archetype, which can be implemented in mecahnically more powerful ways even in D&D.

Second is the idea that the world is after the Paladin. Nothing requires it to be so. Again, sometimes, things just happen. Lose - lose scenarios sometimes emerge without anyone in particular aspiring for them to happen. That's why atonement and redemption are central to the archetype - it's acknowledged that the ideals and virtues associated with it might not be entirely realistic, which is why leeway exists for characters that are too weak (morally or otherwise) to stay on the straight an narrow.

The third has similar roots, but the key thing here is: the character who has a code should understand what the code entails, and this requires the player to understand it as well. You don't take such burdens if you're not willing to carry them all the way or at least prepared to throw them down if necessary. This is why I think archetypes like the Paladin, or any character that has severe ramifications for breaking a code of conduct, should not be given to inexperienced players. Only a player who can immerse himself in the gameworld and approach morality from in-game perspective can play such demanding characters well and effectively. Allowing such role to a player who doesn't understand it is like allowing someone to sign up as an actor for adult movie when they're not ready to sex scenes.

Fiery Diamond
2011-07-05, 02:17 PM
As for Random encounters; I am not a fan. I have things to do to progress my story during a session, and I'm not going to let a bad dice roll cause us to waste a half hour fighting a pack of wolves.

That said, I will occasionally plan encounters for the players to run into while traveling or resting, in order to illustrate the dangers of the forest etc. However, if they are clever or wary, they can avoid these encounters.

For example, last session the players (lvl 3) encountered a dire boar while makihg thier way up a river (that was carrying some magical run off that was affecting the local flora and fauna). They killed it, carved off some choice cuts of meat and then moved on because "In a couple of hours every scavenger in these woods will be all over the carcass." In fact, had they parked nearby, they sould have encountered a pair of slicer beetles come to feast on the boar. Clever thinking allowed them to avoid an encounter. Lack of it would have provided an object lesson.

This is pretty much exactly how I handle it as a DM.


There are three distinct issues here. One is Paladin being a weak class, which makes the situation look like beating on someone who's already down - but that's a system-specific thing. It doesn't have any bearing on the archetype, which can be implemented in mecahnically more powerful ways even in D&D.

Second is the idea that the world is after the Paladin. Nothing requires it to be so. Again, sometimes, things just happen. Lose - lose scenarios sometimes emerge without anyone in particular aspiring for them to happen. That's why atonement and redemption are central to the archetype - it's acknowledged that the ideals and virtues associated with it might not be entirely realistic, which is why leeway exists for characters that are too weak (morally or otherwise) to stay on the straight an narrow.

The third has similar roots, but the key thing here is: the character who has a code should understand what the code entails, and this requires the player to understand it as well. You don't take such burdens if you're not willing to carry them all the way or at least prepared to throw them down if necessary. This is why I think archetypes like the Paladin, or any character that has severe ramifications for breaking a code of conduct, should not be given to inexperienced players. Only a player who can immerse himself in the gameworld and approach morality from in-game perspective can play such demanding characters well and effectively. Allowing such role to a player who doesn't understand it is like allowing someone to sign up as an actor for adult movie when they're not ready to sex scenes.

Unless you happen to be playing an extremely optimistic, evil never has even minor victories, goodness and love will always win game, I agree with you on this. That's not to say that that kind of game is bad, and in a lot of cases (especially when I'm feeling depressed) I would prefer that kind of game. But in a game that ISN'T like that, I completely agree here.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 02:38 PM
I never incorporate a way to actually lose unless the players have explicitly told me that they want that in a game. What I do is to set up degrees of success. The worst thing that can happen? You have gained nothing, wasted resources and perhaps made your future path harder than before. Best thing that can happen? You achieve more than you had expected. From one end to the other, there are a myriad possibilities.

If the players are fine with the possibility of actually losing, I also incorporate that to the gamut of possibilities.

I run games for my players, not for myself. I want them to have fun, simple as that. If they have fun roleplaying their paladin's heroic ascent, Fall and quest for atonement, I will give them that. If they prefer to play a paladin who makes morally questionable choices and remains a viable character, I am fine with that as well.

Game mechanics wise, I am usually not a fudger, but I will give out helpful OOC advice, especially to new players. I also adjust outcomes based on player expectations. If they want nitty-gritty action where dying is a very realistic possibility, I do that. If they're very attached to their character instead and would rather not die, ever, I find a way to make that happen.

In short, I prioritise the player's fun over whatever beliefs I might have about the system.

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 03:03 PM
Truthfully, I think O'Chuul is correct in the "baby or demon" scenario... in his case, it was the "tell things or people die" (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0547.html) scenario, but...

As a paladin, you are faced with two choices. Like most morality questions, there's no out... you have to kill the baby or let the demon come through. There is no third path, there is no time to find a third alternative. You have seconds to decide. Do you kill the baby, or do you save the baby, and hope your strength is enough to resist the demon?

No matter which you decide, as a DM, I'm going to want reasons. I'm going to want the appearance of atonement, even if you don't seek out an atonement. Because that is the nature of the class, and the nature of the character you have chosen to play by picking up the sheet that said "Paladin".

If I am playing a paladin, I want the DM to occasionally come up with situations where I have to say "Wait a second... what is the right course?" They shouldn't be constant, or the game becomes "Mr. Paladins Series of Moral Crises, as witnessed by a halfing and an uberdruid".

I think the argument of "The Paladin gets so little, why are you trying to take that away" misses the point... playing a paladin is choosing to make your characters moral state part of the game. If you DON'T want to do that, play a devout fighter. Play a Crusader, since everyone will tell you to play one, anyway. But if you don't want your characters moral and ethical choices to be important to the game, don't play a Paladin.

Tyndmyr
2011-07-05, 03:20 PM
One near-legendary dilemma that rears its head on these forums on a steady basis is that of Paladin facing a situation where all reasonable courses of action lead to Falling. I've even seen some players resent such scenarios to a point that they demand there should always be a "third option" (ie., road that achieves the desired goal without falling) when a Paladin is in play.

This is not a story specific requirement. It may be logically possible to construct a situation such that all options lead to falling. I'm not interested in that.

I'm interested in why falling is desirable for gameplay. I feel like, in most situations...it really isn't. It's like death. Sure, it may come up, but it's a penalty for failure, not a goal of success. And when all options lead to the same place, gameplay and player choices are not terribly interesting.


Personally, I find this a bit silly - what's atonement supposed to be for, then? There also seems to be a pervasive opinion that these kinds of moral lose - lose scenarios are a sign that a GM is out to get the player. I often feel in-game action and consequence is left to the wayside when people are too keen to pin the blame in OOC manner to either the player or the GM.

An intentional setup of a situation in which all possible options result in you losing IS the GM out to get you. Your goal as a GM should not be to construct a trap from which there is no possible escape.

Ravens_cry
2011-07-05, 03:25 PM
I would seek strenuously for a third option. Like, calling on aid from others to defeat the demon. But if there really is no other option, I would kill the child in the most painless manner possible, Fall, and get the cleric to cast some from of resurrection magic. Maybe the gods will forgive me easily, but being a Paladin is about sacrifice, and that can include being a Paladin.

Starbuck_II
2011-07-05, 03:27 PM
Truthfully, I think O'Chuul is correct in the "baby or demon" scenario... in his case, it was the "tell things or people die" (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0547.html) scenario, but...

As a paladin, you are faced with two choices. Like most morality questions, there's no out... you have to kill the baby or let the demon come through. There is no third path, there is no time to find a third alternative. You have seconds to decide. Do you kill the baby, or do you save the baby, and hope your strength is enough to resist the demon?

No matter which you decide, as a DM, I'm going to want reasons. I'm going to want the appearance of atonement, even if you don't seek out an atonement. Because that is the nature of the class, and the nature of the character you have chosen to play by picking up the sheet that said "Paladin".

If I am playing a paladin, I want the DM to occasionally come up with situations where I have to say "Wait a second... what is the right course?" They shouldn't be constant, or the game becomes "Mr. Paladins Series of Moral Crises, as witnessed by a halfing and an uberdruid".

I think the argument of "The Paladin gets so little, why are you trying to take that away" misses the point... playing a paladin is choosing to make your characters moral state part of the game. If you DON'T want to do that, play a devout fighter. Play a Crusader, since everyone will tell you to play one, anyway. But if you don't want your characters moral and ethical choices to be important to the game, don't play a Paladin.

Or play a Lawful Evil Paladin of Tyrrany. Heck, you are allowed to help good if you have a good reason (maintain your status).

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 03:41 PM
Or play a Lawful Evil Paladin of Tyrrany. Heck, you are allowed to help good if you have a good reason (maintain your status).

I don't acknowledge the other Paladin variants from UA. You want to play a paragon of LE and call it a "Paladin"? Fine. But the concept of Paladin, since 1st edition, is someone who has hard moral and ethical choices. Playing LE, CE, or even CG obviates a lot of these hard choices in a cloud of "don't give a damn". One of the things about LG... it always gives a damn.

Once you hear about Paladins of Tyrrany being forced to fall because they didn't kill someone they cared for, or Paladins of Freedom being forced to fall because they didn't steal all the silver at the king's banquet, or Paladins of Slaughter being forced to fall because they chose to kill person X instead of person Y... then they become part of the Paladin debate for me. As it is, they're just another collection of statistics, not Paladins.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 03:53 PM
As it is, they're just another collection of statistics, not Paladins.

Funny, every class is just a collection of statistics! :smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 04:34 PM
Funny, every class is just a collection of statistics! :smallbiggrin:

I disagree, especially in General. In 1e and 2e, Paladin is a class. It has a specific outlook and requirements, and while you can play a number of characters within that outlook and requirements, they still exist.

For 3.x, most classes are a collection of statistics, but the Paladin is the only one who carries a specific code of conduct; clerics can parse and prevaricate, but Paladins are bound to Law and Good. Regarding the Paladin as a pile of statistics, instead of a specific character type is, IMO, why many people don't "get" the paladin. They bemoan the alignment restrictions, but, in many ways, that's the point of the class.

Choosing to play a Paladin is choosing to play a fairly specific character. While you have some leeway in it, you can't act willy-nilly and expect to be a paladin.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 04:43 PM
I'm interested in why falling is desirable for gameplay. I feel like, in most situations...it really isn't. It's like death. Sure, it may come up, but it's a penalty for failure, not a goal of success. And when all options lead to the same place, gameplay and player choices are not terribly interesting.

Some players find loss an acceptable, or even interesting element of the game (evidenced in this very thread). Some might play Paladin just because they want to play out the cycle of Fall and Redemption (or maybe the Slippery Slope of falling ever deeper...). Tragedy is possible within the scope of roleplaying games, and some might set out to do just that. We wouldn't have Call of Cthulhu and World of Darkness if that wasn't the case, really.


An intentional setup of a situation in which all possible options result in you losing IS the GM out to get you. Your goal as a GM should not be to construct a trap from which there is no possible escape.

The key part here is "intentional". A player might unintentionally play his hand so that a situation that was supposed to be doable becomes not so. (Or a GM might trip himself, or any combination of such for that matter.) In traditional RPGs the GM usually has the power to bend the rules enough to allow for escape, but I'm not so sure he has the duty, or even right.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 04:43 PM
Choosing to play a Paladin is choosing to play a fairly specific character. While you have some leeway in it, you can't act willy-nilly and expect to be a paladin.

Yah, sorry, I completely disagree. The best thing about 3e is precisely the fact that it gives you the freedom to play completely different characters with the same set of mechanics. If you take the paladin as a fairly specific character, you encounter situations where every paladin is a variation of the same character. In one campaign, he's an ugly scarred human. In another, he's an elf. In another, he's blond and pretty. In another, he's an old woman. But save some minor differences in personality, they're all the same, precisely because you're restricting their outlook, beliefs and behaviour.

The paladin, in my view, has to be set free from its irrational restrictions. Players never needed to be told how to play a character, not even back when D&D began. Saying "this is how you have to play this character" was a bad idea then and has become an even worse idea now.

Ravens_cry
2011-07-05, 04:50 PM
Um, Druids (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/druid.htm)? They Fall, albeit temporarily, for merely carrying or wearing the shield and/or armour. If they teach a Non-Druid Druidic, they Fall. If they fail "to revere nature," (hows that for an ambiguous and open to DM pettiness requirement?) they Fall.
And that is just in Core, I am sure there are other examples outside it.

Occasional Sage
2011-07-05, 04:58 PM
Yah, sorry, I completely disagree. The best thing about 3e is precisely the fact that it gives you the freedom to play completely different characters with the same set of mechanics.

Um... every edition has allowed for that. Most every RPG, too.



If you take the paladin as a fairly specific character, you encounter situations where every paladin is a variation of the same character. In one campaign, he's an ugly scarred human. In another, he's an elf. In another, he's blond and pretty. In another, he's an old woman. But save some minor differences in personality, they're all the same, precisely because you're restricting their outlook, beliefs and behaviour.


Yeah uh, no. People with the same moral standards are capable of being discernable individuals at a deeper level than the skin. Just ascribing to the paladin's code of conduct doesn't reduce them to the Borg.



The paladin, in my view, has to be set free from its irrational restrictions. Players never needed to be told how to play a character, not even back when D&D began. Saying "this is how you have to play this character" was a bad idea then and has become an even worse idea now.

Those restrictions are precisely what the player chooses to adopt when they sign up for the class. It's not shoved down their throats; they selected the class up front. If there's another way they want to play, or if they want the fluff without the mechanics, those options are available within the game.

Whether you like the restrictions or not, they and their ramifications are a part of the class and therefore the game.



*snip*
They bemoan the alignment restrictions, but, in many ways, that's the point of the class.


What other ways are there? :smallconfused:

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 05:08 PM
Yah, sorry, I completely disagree. The best thing about 3e is precisely the fact that it gives you the freedom to play completely different characters with the same set of mechanics. If you take the paladin as a fairly specific character, you encounter situations where every paladin is a variation of the same character. In one campaign, he's an ugly scarred human. In another, he's an elf. In another, he's blond and pretty. In another, he's an old woman. But save some minor differences in personality, they're all the same, precisely because you're restricting their outlook, beliefs and behaviour.

Then, quite frankly, you need to not play a Paladin in anything but 4e, but that's part of the paladin's set of restrictions. In 3.x, there's a lot of mechanical freedom to make the character you want to play. In many ways, beyond being a prestige class, Paladin would have worked well as a Template... a set of abilities and restrictions applied on top of a regular character. But that's not how they designed it, for whatever reason.

A key component of Paladins... above, IMO, the laying of hands or the smiting of evil... is the LG alignment, from which they do not vary. There is a core of sameness but there's a lot of variety. If you don't want to play a character with that sameness, make another choice. Play a cleric. Play a crusader. Play a fighter and play him religious. If you don't want to play that character, then don't play that character. Because that's what a Paladin, in the "classic" (i.e. since 1977, or, arguably, since 1961) sense is. If you're playing something else, it may have the name Paladin, but it's not a Paladin in that classic sense.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 05:13 PM
Yah, sorry, I completely disagree. The best thing about 3e is precisely the fact that it gives you the freedom to play completely different characters with the same set of mechanics. If you take the paladin as a fairly specific character, you encounter situations where every paladin is a variation of the same character. In one campaign, he's an ugly scarred human. In another, he's an elf. In another, he's blond and pretty. In another, he's an old woman. But save some minor differences in personality, they're all the same, precisely because you're restricting their outlook, beliefs and behaviour.

*chuckle* "Save for minor differences"? I'd say you're selling potential for Paladins short.

But Mark's right, being a Paladin does come with a lot of package. Restrictions on outlook, beliefs and behaviour have been part of the class from its creation. It is a specific character archetype, and much more narrow than many other base classes in D&D. In core, Druid is the distant second - to find other classes that are as specific you have to look at PrCs or something like Knight or Dread Necromancer.

The Coded of Conduct and being the epitome of good are pretty fundamental parts of being a Paladin. If you strip those from the class chassis, you're not really playing a Paladin anymore, but another character with vaguely reminescent powerset. Saying you can detach the mechanics from the archetype and give them to different character is true... but on the other hand, you rarely need the mechanics to play that other character.


The paladin, in my view, has to be set free from its irrational restrictions.

You mean the mechanics as presented in D&D, or the archetype? With the former, I can sorta agreee, but you're late to the punchline - the Crusader is already here, as are the UA paladin variants. As for the archetype... yeah, that doesn't make sense. Restrictions, rational or not, have always been part of being a White Knight.


Players never needed to be told how to play a character, not even back when D&D began.
Dunno, I've had several who benefited from being given premade roles. It's pretty common way to teach acting and roleplaying, to ask the trainee to get into certain mindset. Roleplaying is a skill, and it doesn't come automatically to everyone.

Saying "this is how you have to play this character" was a bad idea then and has become an even worse idea now.

... you've never played a premade character in, say, a convention? For comparison: director of a movie could say just that to an actor, and in heavily scripted games, a GM can be perfectly justified in asking the same from a player. How bad idea it is varies from game to game.

RPGuru1331
2011-07-05, 05:26 PM
I don't acknowledge the other Paladin variants from UA. You want to play a paragon of LE and call it a "Paladin"? Fine. But the concept of Paladin, since 1st edition, is someone who has hard moral and ethical choices. Playing LE, CE, or even CG obviates a lot of these hard choices in a cloud of "don't give a damn". One of the things about LG... it always gives a damn.

Not to belabor the point, but the 12 Peers are written as super upstanding good guys because Charlemagne won. If you're going to sell it as a divine knight, in a game with lots of gods, you have a setting and story issue by not having divine knights for other gods. And there's no reason they shouldn't all use the same class title, just like clerics. Really, this argument doesn't hold up when held to that light; taken outside of DnD, "priest" and "cleric" connotes righteousness and goodness generally. The representatives of evil gods generally have other terms applied... and not in DnD. So even if Paladin, as a word and aside from DnD, connoted fine and upstanding person, well... same tough cookies.

And saying they don't give a damn is seriously underselling the ability of anyone to hold a belief seriously that is not "LG". You should have different dilemnas for CG, at the very least, not non-dilemnas. And I'm not sold that evil completely lacks dilemnas of ideals vs. pragmatism. I mean, do you negotiate with the Neutral Good city council, perhaps agreeing to give alms to the poor in exchange for the right to your temple being there at all (And certainly getting more exposure than if it operated underground).

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 05:41 PM
Not to belabor the point, but the 12 Peers are written as super upstanding good guys because Charlemagne won. If you're going to sell it as a divine knight, in a game with lots of gods, you have a setting and story issue by not having divine knights for other gods.

To an extent, I agree with this, and it is somewhat of a problem. However, I think it is a problem that really only comes up in 1st edition. In 1e, a divinely-empowered knight was more or less limited to the Paladin, the Cleric, or a multiclass or dual-class Paladin/cleric (or the Plethora of Paladins article from Dragon #106).

In 2e, if I wanted a divine knight class who was not a Paladin, I could make a specialty priest; in fact, that happened in a number of supplements, and there were also some divine knight classes that were "Like Paladins, but with X or Y". In late 2e, there was also the Crusader class, who could belong to a number of different martial religions.

In 3e, if you wanted a divine knight class who was not a Paladin, you had a plethora of Prestige Classes, both good and bad. You had Blackguards in the DMG and a number of deity specific prestige classes. The only thing barred from the "divine knight of evil" archetype was the Paladin, itself.


And there's no reason they shouldn't all use the same class title, just like clerics. Really, this argument doesn't hold up when held to that light; taken outside of DnD, "priest" and "cleric" connotes righteousness and goodness generally.

Conan would disagree. So would Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Etienne of Navarre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladyhawke) would probably object, as well. Maybe the Three Musketeers, though they could give you some counter-examples, as well. Indiana Jones might also be able to conjure up some stories of evil priests. Maybe John Carter, the Prince of Mars might have some interjections on that point, as well.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 05:50 PM
Um... every edition has allowed for that. Most every RPG, too.

Judging from the sheer amount of threads on the paladin, you wouldn't think so! :smallwink:


Yeah uh, no. People with the same moral standards are capable of being discernable individuals at a deeper level than the skin. Just ascribing to the paladin's code of conduct doesn't reduce them to the Borg.

Ah, but we're not talking about simply "moral standards" here. Everyone has moral standards by virtue of having an alignment. The paladin has a specific Code of Conduct that tells him what he must and mustn't do to keep his or her powers. They are not the same thing.


Those restrictions are precisely what the player chooses to adopt when they sign up for the class. It's not shoved down their throats; they selected the class up front. If there's another way they want to play, or if they want the fluff without the mechanics, those options are available within the game.

Assuming the Crusader did not exist (and, in fact, let's assume we're talking about Core only), what other options are there, for players who want to play a holy warrior? The fighter and barbarian have no connection to the divine, so he could play, at best, a religious warrior. He wouldn't be able to channel divine powers. His only alternative would be to play a cleric, who (and we're talking about a very low-op player here, since he wants to play a paladin) is decidedly lacking in the "warrior" department. And even if he had help to optimise his cleric into a melee machine (with spells like Divine Favour and fighter feats), he's still not playing the archetype he wants to play.

It's like saying "Oh, you want to eat spaghetti? That's cool, we'll serve them to you with mushroom sauce. You don't like mushrooms? Sorry, then you can't have spaghetti. Either you eat them with the mushroom sauce or you take the ravioli, with the sauce of your choice, and pretend they're spaghetti."


Whether you like the restrictions or not, they and their ramifications are a part of the class and therefore the game.

And thanks to that wonderful thing called Rule Zero, I can make that problem vanish. However, saying "it's no broken because I can fix it" is invoking the Oberoni fallacy. I do believe I can offer a counterpoint to this topic, can't I?



Then, quite frankly, you need to not play a Paladin in anything but 4e, but that's part of the paladin's set of restrictions. In 3.x, there's a lot of mechanical freedom to make the character you want to play. In many ways, beyond being a prestige class, Paladin would have worked well as a Template... a set of abilities and restrictions applied on top of a regular character. But that's not how they designed it, for whatever reason.

And I agree. That would have certainly been one way to do it. I can think (and have implemented) many others.


A key component of Paladins... above, IMO, the laying of hands or the smiting of evil... is the LG alignment, from which they do not vary. There is a core of sameness but there's a lot of variety. If you don't want to play a character with that sameness, make another choice. Play a cleric. Play a crusader. Play a fighter and play him religious. If you don't want to play that character, then don't play that character. Because that's what a Paladin, in the "classic" (i.e. since 1977, or, arguably, since 1961) sense is. If you're playing something else, it may have the name Paladin, but it's not a Paladin in that classic sense.

And in my opinion, the mechanical features are precisely what the class is about. No other class gets to Lay on Hands. No other class gets that amazing ability that is Divine Grace (easily the best class feature ever conceived, outside spellcasting). No other class (save a cleric with the Destruction domain) gets to make a smite attack. No other class in core gets an Aura that benefits allies (without spending a spell to do so).

To me, the Lawful Good and Code of Conduct bits are an arbitrary restriction on an otherwise great class that, although not terribly strong, is really good to mechanically represent many ideas and concepts.

Read what I replied above to Occasional Sage. None of what you suggest is mechanically the same as the paladin. Sure, the cleric can duplicate many of his features, but not all. Same for the crusader. The religious fighter doesn't come even close. I have to settle for second best because designers couldn't trust players and DMs to agree with what a paladin is and how one should act, and if there should be special exceptions and why.



*chuckle* "Save for minor differences"? I'd say you're selling potential for Paladins short.

Oh, sure, the old lady may like kittens while the elf might not, but when it comes to important decisions? Unless their code allows for multiple alternatives (and in most cases, it doesn't), they will all make the same choice: whichever their Code says it's the one they have to make.


But Mark's right, being a Paladin does come with a lot of package. Restrictions on outlook, beliefs and behaviour have been part of the class from its creation. It is a specific character archetype, and much more narrow than many other base classes in D&D. In core, Druid is the distant second - to find other classes that are as specific you have to look at PrCs or something like Knight or Dread Necromancer.

And I'm not disagreeing. I know all of that. My point is that it was unnecessary back when the paladin was first conceived and it is even more unnecessary now. It doesn't have to be that way. Just like some people give the Monk a full BAB or proficiency with Unarmed Strikes, or they make little houserules for certain situations, they can just as easily waive the alignment requirement and the Code of Conduct.

In fact, it already happens. I've seen it implemented in plenty of games, and I do the same. My point is that all these alignment/paladin debates exist because people think that by making these changes, they're "doing it wrong," or that "then it stops being a paladin!1!one!111" and I do believe that so many problems could be avoided if we were as quick to say "just change the restrictions" as we are to say "Power disparage problems in your party? Read the Tiers thread and check out the advice there. Almost all of us do that."


The Coded of Conduct and being the epitome of good are pretty fundamental parts of being a Paladin. If you strip those from the class chassis, you're not really playing a Paladin anymore, but another character with vaguely reminescent powerset. Saying you can detach the mechanics from the archetype and give them to different character is true... but on the other hand, you rarely need the mechanics to play that other character.

I strip that and I'm playing a paladin without restrictions. The mechanical features are the same, only now I have the freedom to interpret them as I wish.


You mean the mechanics as presented in D&D, or the archetype? With the former, I can sorta agreee, but you're late to the punchline - the Crusader is already here, as are the UA paladin variants. As for the archetype... yeah, that doesn't make sense. Restrictions, rational or not, have always been part of being a White Knight.

The class in D&D. The archetype has already been freed of the restrictions a long, long time ago (see: every "Dark" fantasy story ever). The UA paladin variants have arbitrary codes of conduct as well. They're a tiny, faltering step in the right direction, I suppose, but there's no "freeing" there. It's just "Restrictions! Everyone buy their restrictions! Now available in CG, LE and CE!" Crusaders are a far cry from the paladin, mechanically. Whether you believe the mechanics are better or not is up to you. If someone likes the paladin mechanics, a crusader won't satisfy them.

Self-imposed restrictions have been a part of being a White Knight, sure. There's no such thing here. There's someone saying "Here, this is what your character believes in, and what he does when faced with big moral situations. No, you can't decide on your own what your character's code is. This is what he does. You get to adjust your character concept so that it fits with these restrictions, though! Isn't it fun? Yes. Yes it is. Now do it."


Dunno, I've had several who benefited from being given premade roles. It's pretty common way to teach acting and roleplaying, to ask the trainee to get into certain mindset. Roleplaying is a skill, and it doesn't come automatically to everyone.

I think we've agreed we hold dramatically opposed views on this very matter. :smalltongue:


... you've never played a premade character in, say, a convention? For comparison: director of a movie could say just that to an actor, and in heavily scripted games, a GM can be perfectly justified in asking the same from a player. How bad idea it is varies from game to game.

Never. It's something that I know I won't find fun. I taught myself how to play D&D and how to roleplay. I was never "brought into the hobby" by an older friend or family member. I never needed to be told "this is how you play" because I figured that one out on my own. If someone wants to play a premade character, that's fine by me. It's their choice. But I never asked for those restrictions. I don't mind (and in fact, I like the idea of) being told that I must have a strict code of conduct, or that I have to pay some price for playing a certain class. So long as I get to choose what that code of conduct is, or what the price I have to pay actually entails.

Also, roleplaying is not acting. For the best example of why this isn't so, see any PbP game. And even if roleplaying WAS acting, we're not getting paid for it. An actor is getting paid to act and realise the director's vision. It's his job. If the DM wants to ask of me the same thing a director would ask of an actor, I am well within my rights to ask the same thing an actor would ask of the people hiring him: Money.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 05:55 PM
And I'm not sold that evil completely lacks dilemnas of ideals vs. pragmatism.

It certainly doesn't lack them. Unless you're already high on the hierarchy of power, society does not tolerate many kinds of evil behaviour. You can't be evil and expect people to like you. Certain words about being loved or feared come to mind, with the crux being that sometimes, evil can't rouse enough fear to quench the hatred felt towards it.

To give an illustrative example, one of my players is pretty much playing a Blackguard now (the system is not D&D, but the term fits). His main motivation is greed in all forms, with petty desire to hurt and torment coming as close seconds, has lead to wanton acts of piracy, murder and torture...

... right before nearly hundred other characters who never enlisted for this. (He's on a ship, and did not disclose these criminal behaviours to the crew he hired beforehand.) He's dishing out money like candy to keep it from biting him in the ass, but he's already alienated a good portion of them and the other PCs. And he did not ensure loyalty from chosen few to safeguard him in the case of mutiny...

Starbuck_II
2011-07-05, 06:02 PM
The class in D&D. The archetype has already been freed of the restrictions a long, long time ago (see: every "Dark" fantasy story ever). The UA paladin variants have arbitrary codes of conduct as well. They're a tiny, faltering step in the right direction, I suppose, but there's no "freeing" there. It's just "Restrictions! Everyone buy their restrictions! Now available in CG, LE and CE!" Crusaders are a far cry from the paladin, mechanically. Whether you believe the mechanics are better or not is up to you. If someone likes the paladin mechanics, a crusader won't satisfy them.


Actually, Crusaders have many similar features:
Indomitable soul = cha to will saves.
Smite (any alignment) = Smite evil.
Mettle: boosts saving successfully.
Furious Counterstrike boost fighting.
They can't lay on hands: they have to hit the enemy to heal others.
They don't have true spells: but some of their higher level maneuvers emulate Paladin spells.

They don't have fearless but Mettle + high saves for will mean they ignore fear usually.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 06:05 PM
Also, roleplaying is not acting. For the best example of why this isn't so, see any PbP game. And even if roleplaying WAS acting, we're not getting paid for it. An actor is getting paid to act and realise the director's vision. It's his job. If the DM wants to ask of me the same thing a director would ask of an actor, I am well within my rights to ask the same thing an actor would ask of the people hiring him: Money.

Acting can be a hobby too. :smalltongue: In my case, it even coincided with roleplaying, which obviously colors how I approach both. Table-top gaming and (especially) LARPing have considerable overlap with acting (improvized, espec.), so methodology from one field can be used for the benefit of othet.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 06:18 PM
Actually, Crusaders have many similar features:
Indomitable soul = cha to will saves.
Smite (any alignment) = Smite evil.
Mettle: boosts saving successfully.
Furious Counterstrike boost fighting.
They can't lay on hands: they have to hit the enemy to heal others.
They don't have true spells: but some of their higher level maneuvers emulate Paladin spells.

They don't have fearless but Mettle + high saves for will mean they ignore fear usually.

Indomitable Soul = Only a pale, anaemic shadow of Divine Grace's glorious, radiant self.
Smite = If the paladin has too few smites per day, even at high levels, the Crusader's even worse off.
Mettle = Agreed. Besides manoeuvres, it's definitely something the paladin doesn't have and direly needs.
Furious Counterstrike and Steely Resolve = Nifty mechanic, but somewhat clunky. Increases bookkeeping at the game. It is, I suppose, an advantage the paladin lacks.
Lack of Lay on Hands = Yeah, which means that a crusader can't heal without someone to stab.
Lack of true spells = Unimportant. Manoeuvres are better.

There is a lot of overlap, I agree, but they're not the same, and in a lot of cases, they're not really that close.


Acting can be a hobby too. :smalltongue: In my case, it even coincided with roleplaying, which obviously colors how I approach both. Table-top gaming and (especially) LARPing have considerable overlap with acting (improvized, espec.), so methodology from one field can be used for the benefit of othet.

You're missing my point. If you act as a hobby, you only have to accept as much direction as you want, since you're not bound by a contract. You can walk away at any time, just like in a D&D game. There is no reward (money) that makes "shut up and do as you're told" tolerable.

RPGuru1331
2011-07-05, 06:26 PM
regarding the OP:

But severe in-game consequences for moral failure or compromise are hardly unique to Paladin class(es) of D&D fame; the possibility is implicit in almost all game systems I know of.
Um... no, actually, mechanical penalties for moral failure are actually kind of uncommon, if not outright *rare*. Even Dogs in the Vineyard, which has morality and moral failures and stands on principle as central themes, does not carry mechanical penalties as a consequence.

Whether there are 'consequences' otherwise depends strongly on the story idea, your character, the other characters, and your intentions. If you have a stringent personal code that you fail to uphold, while otherwise being considered a good person, well.... that's not necessarily going to mean anything to anyone else, on its own.

of course, such consequences are more interesting, but they're not identical to a mechanical penalty. In fact, most in-game penalties are substantially more interesting, both as a story element and as a "What is fun for players generally" element, than "You lose everything except base stats.".

To an extent, I agree with this, and it is somewhat of a problem. However, I think it is a problem that really only comes up in 1st edition.
No, it's not just a first edition thing. I'm well aware that the idea can be represented with effort, but you have to go through more books than you should have to. It runs into the same problem as the Assassin; it has alignment restrictions that actively hamper its use for anything outside of one extremely specific idea, when it really doesn't need to, especially because that idea really should have broader presentation.


Conan would disagree. So would Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Etienne of Navarre would probably object, as well. Maybe the Three Musketeers, though they could give you some counter-examples, as well. Indiana Jones might also be able to conjure up some stories of evil priests. Maybe John Carter, the Prince of Mars might have some interjections on that point, as well.
The Three Musketeers, as well as most other counterexamples that occur to me, are specifically set up as contrast. That is, they play on the very fact that you're expecting priests to be good to work dramatically. I'm not familiar with the other examples you listed, but if they're like those two, they're not really the 'proof' you want.

Indie is an example of the other point I mentioned. To the best of my recollection, Mola Ram is referred to as a cultist. Not a priest. *Because he's evil, and fantasy and the world at large generally recognizes priests as good*. So we have to ascribe the word for crazy or evil people with a crazy or evil religion.

In DnD, they are all priests. Now, you could argue, pretty decently, that Cleric has a problem for this, because it's so similar and there are gods for so many things. Putting aside seperate spell lists for, say, Priests of... Lawful Good Guy, Lawful Evil Guy, and Rogue Guy, there's room to argue for completely seperate features (Trade all Turn Undead for Trapfinding, for Rogue Guy?) But if you're not going to design radically different classes for them... why the Un/Holy Knight?

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-05, 06:40 PM
Um... no, actually, mechanical penalties for moral failure are actually kind of uncommon, if not outright *rare*. Even Dogs in the Vineyard, which has morality and moral failures and stands on principle as central themes, does not carry mechanical penalties as a consequence.
.

Implicit and possible, versus explicit and necessary. Almost any game I know of can be made to follow rules of drama or karma, meaning that in-game moral failure or compromise can have negative in-game consequences. The penalties are just attributes of the setting, events and/or characters, rather than attributes of your class or abilities.

Example: a character decides to kill a baby instead of letting it turn into a demon, but this alienates him from the townspeople and makes them shun him, forcing him to leave town.

These are not spelled out like the D&D Paladin code, rendering them invisible outside context of actual games, but they're there.

RPGuru1331
2011-07-05, 06:56 PM
Yes, but those aren't mechanical penalties that hamper your ability to participate or contribute. Which Falling is. I specifically pointed out that such consequences are certainly possible, and are much more interesting than the mechanical ones.

More to the point, you're not being ostracized specifically for failing morally. You're being ostracized because you pissed them off by killing one of them. Your god and you might not be happy that you, say, sneak attacked the bandits at night, but the peasants? They're probably happy with you either way. Which is why it generally takes specific setup for a *moral* failing to cause in game consequences. That setup isn't bad, of course; these things can be interesting. But it is different.

kyoryu
2011-07-05, 06:56 PM
The real issue with the fall/fall paladin situations is, that a paladin can not fall for simply failing to prevent an evil. Falling is for not taking action when there were still options, or directly going against the codex.

If there are two evils to stop, and you can stop only one, so be it. It's not the paladins fault and he couldn't have done anything, so no falling here.

Right. In my opinion, the quintessential "Paladin falls" scenario is "BBEG says kill one of these two helpless people, or I kill both."

The Paladin should fall if he kills either of the innocents. However, he does not fall if the BBEG kills both, IMHO. He's responsible for *his* actions, not the actions of others (though if he idly sat and watched the BBEG, he could certainly fall.)

A Paladin in this scenario may decide to kill one of the innocents to save the other. And Fall. Because this is the type of thing that a Paladin *should* have issues with, that they should feel they *need* to atone (or Atone) for. And this kind of situation, approached with maturity and an understanding that you don't always win, can result in great roleplaying and a great story arc.

Mark Hall
2011-07-05, 08:52 PM
Assuming the Crusader did not exist (and, in fact, let's assume we're talking about Core only), what other options are there, for players who want to play a holy warrior? The fighter and barbarian have no connection to the divine, so he could play, at best, a religious warrior. He wouldn't be able to channel divine powers. His only alternative would be to play a cleric, who (and we're talking about a very low-op player here, since he wants to play a paladin) is decidedly lacking in the "warrior" department. And even if he had help to optimise his cleric into a melee machine (with spells like Divine Favour and fighter feats), he's still not playing the archetype he wants to play.

Ridiculous. Let us say I am interested in playing a Paladin-like cleric in 3.x, but refuse to use the Paladin for some reason.

At 1st level, because I wish to be able to heal, I take a level of Cleric. Now, what domain I want can vary, but Law and Good would both create a Paladin-like character. Alternatively, I might go for Destruction and War, to allow me to use a sword at 1st level, and smite people.

At 2nd level... I take a level of fighter. I do that again at level 3. If I'm a human, half-elf or dwarf, I may do it again at 4th, but I'm more likely to take another level of cleric. I can take up to 3 levels of fighter, over time, and not impact my spellcasting as a cleric, but since I'm shooting for Paladin-like, I probably won't go higher than 7 or 8 levels of Cleric, keeping me to 4th level spells.

Since classes are just almagations of abilities, I've achieved much the same goal. I don't have some of the few neat abilities that paladins get... but I've created a Holy Warrior character who doesn't have any of the restrictions of a Paladin.



And in my opinion, the mechanical features are precisely what the class is about.

How is a requirement to be a certain alignment NOT a mechanical feature? Or did you mean "the mechanical features I like"?


Um... no, actually, mechanical penalties for moral failure are actually kind of uncommon, if not outright *rare*. Even Dogs in the Vineyard, which has morality and moral failures and stands on principle as central themes, does not carry mechanical penalties as a consequence.

I can think of two examples in Old World of Darkness (Humanity for Vampires and the loss of Glory, Honor and Wisdom renown in Werewolf). Of course, there's also every edition of Star Wars where, like D&D, morality is an inherent part of the world and game. That also doesn't include the alignment change mechanics in earlier editions of D&D, or things like demons in Ars Magica.

While, numerically, this doesn't represent a whole heck of a lot of books... these are the most popular games of the last 30 years or so.



No, it's not just a first edition thing. I'm well aware that the idea can be represented with effort, but you have to go through more books than you should have to. It runs into the same problem as the Assassin; it has alignment restrictions that actively hamper its use for anything outside of one extremely specific idea, when it really doesn't need to, especially because that idea really should have broader presentation.


Creating a specialty priest in 2e involved nothing more than the PH... you didn't even need to get the DMG involved. Creating a holy warrior in 3.x involved the PH... you could involve the DMG or other books if you wanted, but they weren't required.



The Three Musketeers, as well as most other counterexamples that occur to me, are specifically set up as contrast. That is, they play on the very fact that you're expecting priests to be good to work dramatically. I'm not familiar with the other examples you listed, but if they're like those two, they're not really the 'proof' you want.

First of all, get thee to Appendix N. (http://www.digital-eel.com/blog/ADnD_reading_list.htm) Howard's Conan and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser arguably had a larger impact on the style of D&D than Tolkien, and the Paladin class is more or less lifted directly from Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions".


Indie is an example of the other point I mentioned. To the best of my recollection, Mola Ram is referred to as a cultist. Not a priest. *Because he's evil, and fantasy and the world at large generally recognizes priests as good*. So we have to ascribe the word for crazy or evil people with a crazy or evil religion.

A quick search of the script shows Mola Ram frequently refered to as priest in the notes, but never in the words. "Cultist" is not used, though the Thugee are called a cult.


But if you're not going to design radically different classes for them... why the Un/Holy Knight?

Why would an unholy knight, dedicated to darkness and evil, have powers that specifically cure disease and harm undead?

Shadowknight12
2011-07-05, 09:23 PM
Ridiculous. Let us say I am interested in playing a Paladin-like cleric in 3.x, but refuse to use the Paladin for some reason.

At 1st level, because I wish to be able to heal, I take a level of Cleric. Now, what domain I want can vary, but Law and Good would both create a Paladin-like character. Alternatively, I might go for Destruction and War, to allow me to use a sword at 1st level, and smite people.

At 2nd level... I take a level of fighter. I do that again at level 3. If I'm a human, half-elf or dwarf, I may do it again at 4th, but I'm more likely to take another level of cleric. I can take up to 3 levels of fighter, over time, and not impact my spellcasting as a cleric, but since I'm shooting for Paladin-like, I probably won't go higher than 7 or 8 levels of Cleric, keeping me to 4th level spells.

Since classes are just almagations of abilities, I've achieved much the same goal. I don't have some of the few neat abilities that paladins get... but I've created a Holy Warrior character who doesn't have any of the restrictions of a Paladin.

A) Those fighter levels give you nothing but two bonus feats and -3 caster levels, since a Fighter 3/Cleric 17 still has a BAB of 15.
B) Your suggested build does not resemble a paladin's abilities in anything more than a passing glance. You have to use cleric spellcasting to duplicate the paladin's class features (Cure Wounds, Remove Disease, Divine Favour, Shield of Faith, War and Destruction domains, etc) and you're still unable to duplicate Divine Grace, the special mount, the aura of courage or Divine Health. Oh, and your Smite is only 1/day. A cleric/fighter does not a paladin make.
C) It's not "I refuse to use the paladin for some reason." There are perfectly valid reasons not to use the paladin class as written. :smalltongue:
D) You get points for trying, but you haven't emulated the paladin, nor come up with an acceptable substitute. If we open up splat books, you might have a better shot, but core only? Practically impossible.


How is a requirement to be a certain alignment NOT a mechanical feature? Or did you mean "the mechanical features I like"?

Alignment itself is a semi-mechanic, in the sense that only a handful of actual, real mechanics depend on or interact with it. Alignment restrictions are not actually mechanics, they're merely arbitrary prerequisites, like "must have defeated a spellcaster in combat without using magic" or "must have spent 24 hours unprotected in a blizzard." Those are not mechanics.

The reason the code of conduct is not an actual mechanic is because it is not dependant on mechanical triggers, or combat situations, or spells, or any other part of the rules system. It's wholly dependant on the DM's whims. And it has no mechanical consequences other than "you lose pretty much all of your class abilities and can't take another level in this class until the DM agrees to let someone cast a specific spell on you." The code of conduct in itself is not a mechanic, regardless of whether or not it is written on the class's table.

The druid's behaviour restrictions are exactly the same. They are not actual mechanics. They are merely arbitrary restrictions who have a non-mechanical trigger and have a pseudomechanical effect, which the DM may also inflict upon the character for whatever reason they deem fit. A DM does not need to be told specifically that if the character does X, they can't take any more levels on that class until they Atone. The DM can do that anyway for whatever reason they like. If in his campaign, druids are not allowed to take non-druid lovers, he is well within his rights to enact the same penalty on a druid character who takes on a non-druid lover. He doesn't need to be told when and why to do that.

And for DMs who prefer to leave that sort of thing on the hands of their players (like me), they can simply say "You come up with reasons why your character would lose access to their class abilities and might need to atone before being able to take another level."

Fluff-related restrictions with fluff-related triggers and pseudomechanical consequences are not, in fact, mechanical features. They are what they are: arbitrary roleplaying restrictions.

Occasional Sage
2011-07-05, 11:36 PM
Players never needed to be told how to play a character, not even back when D&D began. Saying "this is how you have to play this character" was a bad idea then and has become an even worse idea now.






... you've never played a premade character in, say, a convention?

Never. It's something that I know I won't find fun.

"Not my cup of tea" and "not a good idea" are not the same thing. Please stop trying to state your personal opinions as objective fact, when you can clearly see the difference.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-06, 12:24 AM
"Not my cup of tea" and "not a good idea" are not the same thing. Please stop trying to state your personal opinions as objective fact, when you can clearly see the difference.

Oh, I know. But it just so happens that my opinion coincides with an aspect of reality that is highly likely to improve gaming for a non-zero portion of the D&D community. I genuinely believe that we would have less strife at tables if we removed arbitrary restrictions, or at the very least (if we absolutely must have them) made them customisable.

A bad idea leads to a heap of negative results. Look at the paladin debate threads. Look at the anecdotes of terrible results at the table when player and DM have diverging views on paladins and their code. Judging from the evidence given by the years this has been in place, saying "In retrospective, it was a bad idea even back then" is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to reach.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 03:55 AM
It certainly doesn't lack them. Unless you're already high on the hierarchy of power, society does not tolerate many kinds of evil behaviour. You can't be evil and expect people to like you. Certain words about being loved or feared come to mind, with the crux being that sometimes, evil can't rouse enough fear to quench the hatred felt towards it.

Targeting a "hated group" might help to avoid being hated by society.

Particularly disliked criminals, for example. "Enemy countries". and so on.

"Pay Evil Unto Evil" may result in the population not fearing the characters as much, nor hating them.

Gettles
2011-07-06, 04:52 AM
Right. In my opinion, the quintessential "Paladin falls" scenario is "BBEG says kill one of these two helpless people, or I kill both."

The Paladin should fall if he kills either of the innocents. However, he does not fall if the BBEG kills both, IMHO. He's responsible for *his* actions, not the actions of others (though if he idly sat and watched the BBEG, he could certainly fall.)

A Paladin in this scenario may decide to kill one of the innocents to save the other. And Fall. Because this is the type of thing that a Paladin *should* have issues with, that they should feel they *need* to atone (or Atone) for. And this kind of situation, approached with maturity and an understanding that you don't always win, can result in great roleplaying and a great story arc.

The problem with that scenario is that it would be incredibly hard to set up a situation like that without it sounding very contrived and without it seeming like the DM is singling them out and punishing them for playing a paladin. It would be easy to see how the player would feel a bit bitter if it is completely apparent that the DM went out of their way to concoct a situation with the sole purpose of forcing a fall.

I feel you have every right to challenge the morals of a paladin type character. If you put them in a situation where there is no easy out and they really have to think in order to make the right choice, in fact I'd encourage it (within reason, if the player finds themselves in some sort of seemingly impossible moral quandary every other game they'd be right to think something is up).

I have an issue with completely screwing over the player by just saying "Too bad, you lose" by building some elaborate situation whose only goal is getting the paladin/cleric/ect. to fall. And it's a very fine line between them.

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 11:16 AM
D) You get points for trying, but you haven't emulated the paladin, nor come up with an acceptable substitute. If we open up splat books, you might have a better shot, but core only? Practically impossible.

Whereas I believe I have effectively emulated a paladin. I have created a holy warrior character. Do I have all of his abilities, verbatim? No. But neither does the usual "Don't play a paladin, play a Crusader".


Alignment itself is a semi-mechanic, in the sense that only a handful of actual, real mechanics depend on or interact with it. Alignment restrictions are not actually mechanics, they're merely arbitrary prerequisites, like "must have defeated a spellcaster in combat without using magic" or "must have spent 24 hours unprotected in a blizzard." Those are not mechanics.

Off the top of my head, I can think of numerous spells and magic items that directly reference alignment. The [Evil] and [Good] descriptors are major parts of a number of different types of monsters. It is a mechanic which determines who you may even effectively worship.

Your "Alignment is not a mechanic" is not borne out by the rules.

dps
2011-07-06, 12:03 PM
The problem with that scenario is that it would be incredibly hard to set up a situation like that without it sounding very contrived and without it seeming like the DM is singling them out and punishing them for playing a paladin. It would be easy to see how the player would feel a bit bitter if it is completely apparent that the DM went out of their way to concoct a situation with the sole purpose of forcing a fall.

I feel you have every right to challenge the morals of a paladin type character. If you put them in a situation where there is no easy out and they really have to think in order to make the right choice, in fact I'd encourage it (within reason, if the player finds themselves in some sort of seemingly impossible moral quandary every other game they'd be right to think something is up).

I have an issue with completely screwing over the player by just saying "Too bad, you lose" by building some elaborate situation whose only goal is getting the paladin/cleric/ect. to fall. And it's a very fine line between them.

Among other problems I have with "kill the innocent or the demon wins" type of scenario (and others like it, that try to force a paladin into 1 of 2 evil acts is that they often rely on what the player knows, rather than what the character knows. How, exactly, does the paladin know that if he doesn't kill the baby, the demon will break through into this plane? And if that does happen, how does he know that he can't defeat the demon? An NPC told him? Well, maybe the NPC was actually an agent of the demon, killing the baby is what would allow the demon to break thru, and the NPC was trying to trick the paladin. Or maybe the NPC was just mistaken.

kyoryu
2011-07-06, 12:15 PM
The problem with that scenario is that it would be incredibly hard to set up a situation like that without it sounding very contrived

It's very contrived. It's not a real scenario, but it's really the core of just about any of these "Paladin Falls" scenarios that are bandied about.



and without it seeming like the DM is singling them out and punishing them for playing a paladin. It would be easy to see how the player would feel a bit bitter if it is completely apparent that the DM went out of their way to concoct a situation with the sole purpose of forcing a fall.

And here's where we have a split, mainly on whether characters should be player avatars, or whether the player is controlling the actions of a single character, and does not view the success of the character as being equivalent to the success of a player.

From one light, the DM is making it harder for the character to succeed/win by throwing these sorts of dilemnas at the player. That's understandable.

But from another light, the Paladin exists to *create* these sorts of scenarios, and that when you create a Paladin character, you're really signing up to create these types of stories. But for that to work, the player has to becomed detached enough from their character, and especially their character on a minute-to-minute basis, to see the value in the overall arc, even if that arc doesn't constantly reaffirm how awesome they are.


I have an issue with completely screwing over the player by just saying "Too bad, you lose" by building some elaborate situation whose only goal is getting the paladin/cleric/ect. to fall. And it's a very fine line between them.

But there is no "too bad you lose." That's what Atone is for. Atone only doesn't work if the character is really going off the rails.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-06, 02:52 PM
Whereas I believe I have effectively emulated a paladin. I have created a holy warrior character. Do I have all of his abilities, verbatim? No. But neither does the usual "Don't play a paladin, play a Crusader".

No, you haven't, and I have proven why. If you truly believe you have effectively emulated a paladin (in crunch, not fluff), then establish the correlations between the mechanics suggested and the paladin's mechanics. Also, I am just as opposed to saying "don't play a paladin, play a crusader," precisely because of those reasons.

Whether you like it or not, the fact, the truth is that I must adhere to arbitrary restrictions if I want those mechanics. No other class does, save the monk and the druid. And for those two, the restrictions are nowhere nearly as restrictive as the paladin's.


Off the top of my head, I can think of numerous spells and magic items that directly reference alignment. The [Evil] and [Good] descriptors are major parts of a number of different types of monsters. It is a mechanic which determines who you may even effectively worship.

Your "Alignment is not a mechanic" is not borne out by the rules.

Yes, and that's exactly what I meant when I said "only a handful of actual, real mechanics depend or interact with it." Those real mechanics being spells and abilities such as Detect Good, Smite Evil, Dictum and the like (since, if you look at it carefully, those descriptors, as well as alignment subtypes are useless in and of themselves, only a very small percentage of the rules directly deal with them in actual mechanical ways).

And even if alignment was, in fact, a mechanic, the code of conduct isn't. No mechanics interact with or depend on it, and its only pseudomechanical consequences are those that the DM is already in charge of effecting, and which he or she will need to effect in more cases than those described by the Code of Conduct (which will, in turn, depend on the campaign. In a campaign where paladins are supposed to be chaste, it's only logical that a paladin would Fall when he or she sleeps with someone). The code of conduct is not necessary to effect the Falling pseudomechanic, which is something that is already in the hands of the DM and the players.

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 03:23 PM
No, you haven't, and I have proven why. If you truly believe you have effectively emulated a paladin (in crunch, not fluff), then establish the correlations between the mechanics suggested and the paladin's mechanics.

I don't see it as necessary to ape everything in a Paladin class to create a paladin-like character. If you want to create a paladin-like character, it's easy. If you want to use a paladin's mechanics, play a paladin.

If I want to have wizard casting, I have to play a wizard. I have to accept the restriction on wizards, including the use of magic in armor. If I want to play a druid, I have to accept the restrictions on armor use. If I want to play a bard, I cannot be lawful (or must be partially neutral, in earlier editions). These restrictions are just as arbitrary, but they are done to conform with certain ideas... and they're part of the mechanics of the game, and the flavor of the class.


Yes, and that's exactly what I meant when I said "only a handful of actual, real mechanics depend or interact with it." Those real mechanics being spells and abilities such as Detect Good, Smite Evil, Dictum and the like (since, if you look at it carefully, those descriptors, as well as alignment subtypes are useless in and of themselves, only a very small percentage of the rules directly deal with them in actual mechanical ways).

That's circular. "It's not a real mechanic because it only interacts with a few things that interact with it." By that logic, HP aren't a real mechanic, because they only interact with things that cause damage.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-06, 03:47 PM
I don't see it as necessary to ape everything in a Paladin class to create a paladin-like character. If you want to create a paladin-like character, it's easy. If you want to use a paladin's mechanics, play a paladin.

And I have said over and over that I know how to emulate, fluff-wise, a paladin. I can do that with the cleric class. I am not after the fluff of the paladin. I am after its mechanics (which are not optimised, mind you. If I wanted power and versatility, I'd play a cleric. I'm after those mechanics because I like them). What I'm saying is that there is no inherent benefit in the arbitrary restrictions placed upon the class. The class is not powerful, by a wide margin. It's not versatile, it's not even niche.

Nobody needs to be told "Here, these are restrictions placed upon your character." Anybody can do that. What if I want the other way around? What if I want to play a character with a Code of Conduct who risks losing his class abilities if he disobeys it? I have to play a paladin, don't I? But what if my character made a pact with demons to obtain dark powers, and he must act in their accordance or risk losing those rewards? That concept can't fit a paladin at all. Would you say the same, then? "Sorry, if you want to play a character with a code of conduct, play a paladin. Also, no, that concept is invalid, because paladins must be LG and their code is oriented towards goodness and chivalry, not being indebted to demons."

Turns out that in my example above, I can create the code of conduct and the "Fall" mechanic without a problem. It's something that can be applied to any character. In Faerun, wizards and sorcerers could well be required to act a certain way or Mystra cuts off their access to the Weave. Or Shar does the same for her Shadow Weave. Fighters can be dishonoured and expelled from whatever institution granted them training, hence being unable to take another level of fighter until they atone. Same for a Rogue and her Thieves' Guild.

Saying "this is a situation unique to the paladin" is simply false. Any other class can have the exact same dilemmas and risks that the paladin is apparently sought after for. The only difference is that every other class but the paladin gets freedom to customise their code and the reasons for their "Fall" between DM and player.


If I want to have wizard casting, I have to play a wizard. I have to accept the restriction on wizards, including the use of magic in armor. If I want to play a druid, I have to accept the restrictions on armor use. If I want to play a bard, I cannot be lawful (or must be partially neutral, in earlier editions). These restrictions are just as arbitrary, but they are done to conform with certain ideas... and they're part of the mechanics of the game, and the flavor of the class.

Yes, and those restrictions are similarly removed in my games (except the one about arcane casters and armour, since that's not arbitrary, that's a conscious game balance decision).

You actually hit it in the nail there. "They are part of [...] the flavour of the class." That right there is what I consider to have been unnecessary at the early beginnings of D&D and become more and more unnecessary as time passed. I do not need to be told how to play a class. Maybe my bard is employed by the King and as such, he doesn't wander the lands, and instead he's quite Lawful. Maybe my monk follows his own path of enlightenment and scorns established monasteries, following a Chaotic approach to his training. Maybe my barbarian is part of a very strict tribal hierarchy, so much so that he wouldn't think of disobeying for a second, being far more Lawful than the Lawfulest paladin alive.

Those restrictions were not necessary in the first edition. Even less by the time 3e rolled in. 4e may have many flaws, but doing away with arbitrary restrictions (not all of them, mind you) was a step in the right direction.


That's circular. "It's not a real mechanic because it only interacts with a few things that interact with it." By that logic, HP aren't a real mechanic, because they only interact with things that cause damage.

If there were only a handful of ways to deal damage, I would say that HP is not a real mechanic. But that's not true. There are a ton of things that deal/heal damage or grant temporary HP. Race is not a mechanic, since only a handful of very specific mechanics (the ranger's favoured enemy ability, some magic item restrictions, less spells than I have fingers, and (once again) arbitrary PrC requirements) interact with it.

If I created a bunch of spells that were dependant on whether the target "Has seen the Queen of the Torn Veil," then "Has seen the Queen of the Torn Veil" would not be a mechanic.

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 04:01 PM
In that case, Shadowknight, your argument is less with me and more with the entire class system. If you want to stick with d20, I'd suggest going to the "generic classes" variant, or finding a game without specific classes... because most class systems are going to restrict your characters in various ways.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 04:05 PM
4E doesn't- maybe that idea can be lifted?

Shadowknight12
2011-07-06, 04:08 PM
In that case, Shadowknight, your argument is less with me and more with the entire class system. If you want to stick with d20, I'd suggest going to the "generic classes" variant, or finding a game without specific classes... because most class systems are going to restrict your characters in various ways.

My years of gaming beg to differ. :smalltongue:

Seriously, hyperbole aside, what I'm saying is that houseruling and small fixes are common. Every single table has some of them. I'd be utterly, utterly shocked if I was told that there's a table that plays strictly by the rules and has never, ever felt something should be changed, or a tiny rule should be added to clarify confusing situations, or exceptions to the rules could be made, etc.

Why is there such a reticence towards doing the same with these specific matters? Why can't we say "well, the easiest fix is to do X and Y" as we say when mechanical problems crop up?

Ah, but I daydream. Sorry to hold up the conversation. Carry on, don't mind me. :smallwink:

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 04:14 PM
Why is there such a reticence towards doing the same with these specific matters? Why can't we say "well, the easiest fix is to do X and Y" as we say when mechanical problems crop up?

In the case of the paladin, it is because what you term "mechanical problems" I regard as the very essence of the class.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 04:16 PM
Even so, "total fall" might be a bit severe.

I like the notion of "partial fall" where the paladin only loses a bit of power for a very minor evil act- but they still have to atone to get it back.

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 04:33 PM
Even so, "total fall" might be a bit severe.

I like the notion of "partial fall" where the paladin only loses a bit of power for a very minor evil act- but they still have to atone to get it back.

Depends on the act, but certainly. A lot of that depends on the player of the Paladin, though.

One fun one for me is Paladins in Ravenloft. Not only are they beacons to domain lords, but you can choose to have them keep their powers, even as they slide into failure. The Dark Powers, after all, like people to fall into corruption.

KnightDisciple
2011-07-06, 07:08 PM
One near-legendary dilemma that rears its head on these forums on a steady basis is that of Paladin facing a situation where all reasonable courses of action lead to Falling. I've even seen some players resent such scenarios to a point that they demand there should always be a "third option" (ie., road that achieves the desired goal without falling) when a Paladin is in play. I'm personally a fan of the story potential of "take a third option". For one thing, it can let players showcase creativity. For another, it lets them dance to their own tune, rather than the villain's. Finally, it shows that Good has just as much power in the world as Evil.

I think that third point is an important one. In the context of a D&D game, you have to stop and step back and consider this: Just as there are Evil deities, there are Good deities. Just as there are Evil Outsiders, there are Good Outsiders.

Example: The party is somewhere in the teens, level-wise. They've spent time tracking down a trail of a "minor" demon/devil summoner (single-digit CR critters). Then they come upon the "classic" scenario of "Evil cult is summoning a demon into a baby. If you kill the baby, the demon has no vessel, but You Fall! Let the baby live, and the demon eats its soul and has a vessel to wreak destruction on the world! You Fall!" or some such similar silly thing.
If there's a Paladin in the party, why couldn't he counter by dropping to his knees and asking for literal Divine Intervention? Why can't he ask for help, and get an Angel or Archon or whatnot in return? If he doesn't ask, fine. But if he really wants to try to find another solution, remind him he's working for more than that fuzzy feeling in his soul when he does good works. Remind him (or her!) that he's got real, genuine allies that are beyond mortals.




Personally, I find this a bit silly - what's atonement supposed to be for, then? There also seems to be a pervasive opinion that these kinds of moral lose - lose scenarios are a sign that a GM is out to get the player. I often feel in-game action and consequence is left to the wayside when people are too keen to pin the blame in OOC manner to either the player or the GM.Scenarios that are "you Fall no matter what, no options, you fall and lose what little class abilities you have!" kind of are a sign of a GM out to get a player.
Atonement (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/atonement.htm) seems much more like something meant if you go off and do something totally of your own will. These lose-lose scenarios aren't of the Paladin's own making, and if they're any good at being who and what they are, they'd want to add another way for things to go down.



I've come to conclude these debates exist mainly because moral failure has distinct, spelled-out in-game penalty; there's a common reference point for players to feel upset towards. But severe in-game consequences for moral failure or compromise are hardly unique to Paladin class(es) of D&D fame; the possibility is implicit in almost all game systems I know of. I accept it as a natural part of roleplaying, and as a GM rarely feel the need to dull the edges due to my principle of "sometimes, things just happen". As a player, I consider such events some of the most interesting ones. How about you? How high does having to pick of two evils rank on your "I hate it when..." list?I still want to know how "The DM screwed me over with a no-win scenario" is a "moral failure". I'm being serious here.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-06, 08:16 PM
Since many of them require in-character moral failure or compromise, regardless of the OOC reasons the situation exists (if any). And I'm growing weary of pointing out that it's possible for a character to get caught in Catch-22s without the GM, or anyone intentionally aspiring towards that situation. A GM refusing to bend the rules for you does not equal GM who's specifically out to get you.

KnightDisciple
2011-07-06, 08:25 PM
Since many of them require in-character moral failure or compromise, regardless of the OOC reasons the situation exists (if any). And I'm growing weary of pointing out that it's possible for a character to get caught in Catch-22s without the GM, or anyone intentionally aspiring towards that situation. A GM refusing to bend the rules for you does not equal GM who's specifically out to get you.I'm curious how you could get into a Fall-worthy Catch-22 without outside interference.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-06, 08:32 PM
In the case of the paladin, it is because what you term "mechanical problems" I regard as the very essence of the class.

So the whole "dedication to the path" is the very essence of the monk class? And refusing to wear metal armour, plus being extremely secretive and paranoid, is the very essence of the druid class? Or refusing to wear armour at all is the very essence of the healer class? Because I was under the impression that "the very essence" of something was a systemic thing, not a single specific, discrete part of the class. After all, that would make the entire class obsolete, wouldn't it, if its very essence could be summed up by a specific, discrete aspect of it?


Since many of them require in-character moral failure or compromise, regardless of the OOC reasons the situation exists (if any). And I'm growing weary of pointing out that it's possible for a character to get caught in Catch-22s without the GM, or anyone intentionally aspiring towards that situation. A GM refusing to bend the rules for you does not equal GM who's specifically out to get you.

I would just like to point out that the DM shares responsibility for what happens in the game with the players. In many games, the DM is proactive and the players are reactive. The DM sets forth situations and the players have to deal with them. This is not universal, of course, and I am aware that this is not the case in many tables, but I want to focus on this specific dynamic.

In this case (Proactive DM, Reactive Players), the correlation between the presence of a lose-lose situation and a DM out to get the players is actually incredibly strong, because the players have only a minimal impact on the setting. The DM is the one that must come up with and present situations, which means that it's just as easy for him to present a situation with a chance of "winning" as there is to present a lose-lose situations. Leaving aside the very, very rare situations that have no logical outcome other than "losing" (and yes, they are actually extremely rare), a DM will have multiple ways of executing his plot and telling the story he wants to tell. Or, if he doesn't have that, and his only goal is entertaining the players, many ways to keep players entertained.

If the DM has many equally viable ways to achieve his goals, it stands to reason that it'd cost him the same to choose a win-lose situation as a lose-lose situation. If he chooses the lose-lose situation over the win-lose situation, he must want the players to lose no matter what. Although he may have other reasons to want this, the simplest (Occam's Razor) and most logical explanation is, in fact, that he's out to get the player(s).

Fiery Diamond
2011-07-06, 08:35 PM
Since many of them require in-character moral failure or compromise, regardless of the OOC reasons the situation exists (if any). And I'm growing weary of pointing out that it's possible for a character to get caught in Catch-22s without the GM, or anyone intentionally aspiring towards that situation. A GM refusing to bend the rules for you does not equal GM who's specifically out to get you.

Hm. Not sure I agree with this. I do think that, in certain circumstances, a DM should bend rules for the sake of enjoyability. It's not so much "story trumps rules" as the guy said in the second Gamers movie, but "fun trumps rules." Often, fun and rules are not at odds with each other. But in the rare occasions that they are, the rules need to be bent to accommodate fun.


Edit: Also, what the guy above me said.

Analytica
2011-07-06, 08:54 PM
Regarding lose/lose situations for code of conduct paladins, I encountered a LARP character that had an interesting take on that, which I think might make the paladin's choices make more sense.

Of course, in this setting most priests did not have any actual divine powers or anything like that, and there was considerable debate on whether the actual saint that appeared was a saint or a demon posing as one. The religion was also fairly morally ambiguous, with the deity described as petty and vengeful but also the ultimate definition of good.

The priest in question was an inquisitor, who dealt particularly with children involved in heresies. In many cases, she would execute them, to prevent, as she believed, further damage to their souls as they were already beyond redemption and could at best hope for a half-damned state. The thing was, according to the laws of the deity, you should also never kill innocents, which the children were, as they had not yet actually acted on their heresies.

What did she do? She executed them anyway, fully aware that she herself would be damned far worse for it. That is to say, she believed in the greater Lawful Good (as her religion considered it) enough that when the only perceived solution within her range of choices was a lesser evil, she carried out the lesser evil knowing it would make her fall. Since she considered her deity to be, by definition, infallible, putting her in a lose/lose situation was not something she could blame it for. Her duty remained to ultimately be Lawful Good, when that required a lesser evil, that act was still evil, and still damned her to eternal punishment, but her conviction was such that she was willing to accept that.

In D&D, there is atonement, so the choice becomes less difficult in a sense. The paladin kills the baby, knows they will fall, and accepts that. They might hope for the grace of atonement, but might not consider it their due - if given, it is given as a grace.

From this perspective, the moral lose/lose situations become less of a problem to my mind.

Of course, the above situation, and religion, are horrible. But even something closer to the typical lose/lose situations... I can totally see someone like O-Chul choosing to fall to prevent the greater evil, and accept whatever may come. I cannot see the Twelve Gods not granting him subsequent atonement. His act would still be the lesser evil, rather than good, in a system of absolute morality, and he would still fall, though it would be temporary.

Sucrose
2011-07-06, 08:55 PM
Since many of them require in-character moral failure or compromise, regardless of the OOC reasons the situation exists (if any). And I'm growing weary of pointing out that it's possible for a character to get caught in Catch-22s without the GM, or anyone intentionally aspiring towards that situation. A GM refusing to bend the rules for you does not equal GM who's specifically out to get you.

There are very, very few situations where this is the case, and many fewer where the character would realistically know that this is the case. In the infamous demon-baby example, why would the Paladin think first of gutting the infant, rather than messing with the summoning circle, or getting the Wizard to cast Dimensional Anchor on the area? Why would he even know that killing the infant would actually stop the ritual, rather than being the culmination of it?

Also, I don't recall any spells in the PHB or DMG detailing the need to use an infant and a complicated ritual to summon a pit fiend. Which means that you're well into homebrew territory already, so why are you so bent out of shape at the players doing something fitting for the genre which could save lives?

More to the point, desperate, last-minute scenarios happen due to timekeeping. Unless you have been extremely meticulous up to this point, it is extremely probable that it is ultimately the DM's call on whether the characters arrive in time to stop something horrendous. Which means that it ultimately is the DM's decision whether to force the Catch-22. It is the DM's call whether attempts at finding a third way are workable. It is the DM's decision to set up the scenario to likely play out in this way in the first place. Thus, it'd be a bit of a **** move to give reasonable attempts to fulfill all obligations a flat 'no, that doesn't work.'

Mark Hall
2011-07-06, 11:10 PM
So the whole "dedication to the path" is the very essence of the monk class? And refusing to wear metal armour, plus being extremely secretive and paranoid, is the very essence of the druid class? Or refusing to wear armour at all is the very essence of the healer class? Because I was under the impression that "the very essence" of something was a systemic thing, not a single specific, discrete part of the class. After all, that would make the entire class obsolete, wouldn't it, if its very essence could be summed up by a specific, discrete aspect of it?


1) Yes. That and punching. Veronica Santangelo is the Patron Saint of Monks.
2) By and large, yes, refusing to use metal armor is a major part of who the druid class is. Paranoid, not so much, but I've seldom seen them as paranoid.
3) No opinion, because I've never seen it.

Classes are, in many ways, defined by what they can and cannot do. Part of being a fighter is not being able to cast spells. Part of being a wizard is not being able to use armor. Part of being a paladin is being Lawful and Good. To an extent you can combine these archetypes and create a new one; the fighter/magic-user can cast spells AND wear armor, but at a cost of slow and difficult advancement in both, and you seldom get all the bennies like a gestalt does (for example, a fighter/magic-user has about a d7 HD, on average).

At a certain point, once you decide to ignore all of the restrictions, everything you deem "pseudo-mechanics", you either go with generic classes or a group of Lightning Warriors... instead of a class, you have a pile of statistics calculated to give the most advantage to your build, that you've put a character on top of, instead of a character who is part of a class with certain characteristics. That sense, that amalgamation of advantageous traits without sharing in the weaknesses of the archetype... including such "weaknesses" as "always be fair, even when you don't have to be", "don't wear the best possible armor, because it conflicts with your beliefs", or "stay the course, and follow the path to enlightenment"... is what drives me away from 3.x and 4e.

People will frequently say "How can you like C&C (or AD&D, or Ars Magica or even L5R), with those restrictive classes? 3.x (or PF or 4e) has so much more freedom!" I see that "freedom" as restrictive, because I wind up having to care about the mechanics of my character. It pushes character mechanics from a decision I make and then deal with ("I am a dwarven fighter"; "I am a Hida Bushi of the Hida School") to a level by level dilemma. 4e tried to overcome this through specific roles, where the level-by-level decisions are from a slate of powers, but that still goes too far for me; even with the character creator, I found leveling up a slog of comparative game mechanics that had the simultaneous effect of making my character seem awesome and boring me to tears. Let me make my character, then play my character. Rather than unlocking new abilities each level, which then have to be incorporated into my tactics and design, let me make my character and play my character. Even if I gain new abilities at various levels (as previous edition druids and monks did), they're seldom the game changers that many new combat feats could be, or the paths lead by prestige classes. I can simply make my character and play my character. Even in games like L5R or Ars Magica, where XP is spent instead of accumulated, it is less a matter of becoming something else than building upon what you already are.

In Castles and Crusades, I've had people level-up, mid-session. Roll a HD, add a bonus to hit, maybe pick up a new trick and you are DONE. I've done it in thirty minutes with a group of nine (a chatty group of nine), and that's with no more than two or three books between us, including two new people playing spellcasters. And they have fun because they get to be their characters. Their character is made, and they don't have to make it anew each level.

It's two incredibly different approaches to game play. The other isn't wrong... you're free to play it how you like, and I hope you enjoy it... but I just find it boring. It's homework and system mastery, instead of telling a good story with characters who are constrained by what they are, even as they're empowered by it.

Acanous
2011-07-07, 12:32 AM
Eh, honestly, if I wanted to emulate a Paladin's abilities without the fluff, I'd go Bard/Marshal/Legendary Leader.

You've got a lower base attack, but you're better at pretty much everything.

For everything else, there's your church of loyal followers.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-07, 12:41 AM
1) Yes. That and punching. Veronica Santangelo is the Patron Saint of Monks.
2) By and large, yes, refusing to use metal armor is a major part of who the druid class is. Paranoid, not so much, but I've seldom seen them as paranoid.
3) No opinion, because I've never seen it.

Then we're not going to be able to see eye to eye here. What you consider to be "the very essence" of the class, I consider to be as necessary to them as a free punch in the face with your frappuccino. Perhaps by Veronica Santangelo. Still a punch in the face nonetheless.


Classes are, in many ways, defined by what they can and cannot do. Part of being a fighter is not being able to cast spells. Part of being a wizard is not being able to use armor. Part of being a paladin is being Lawful and Good. To an extent you can combine these archetypes and create a new one; the fighter/magic-user can cast spells AND wear armor, but at a cost of slow and difficult advancement in both, and you seldom get all the bennies like a gestalt does (for example, a fighter/magic-user has about a d7 HD, on average).

Not really. There's been more than one substitution level for fighters that has given them supernatural abilities. They may not be very good, but they exist. And if we define the warblade as the new fighter, you'll find a few supernatural manoeuvres in his possible repertoire, too.

Furthermore, there's a difference here that you're not making, and that's the difference between fluff and crunch. Arcane Failure Chance is a mechanic. A fighter's lack of spellcasting is a mechanic. The paladin's alignment isn't, because you can change the alignment requirement and the code, and still play a paladin. Changing the fighter's lack of spellcasting or the wizard's spells require careful balancing and playtesting to make sure it's balanced with the other classes in the Tier you're aiming for.

Changing the paladin's fluff requirements doesn't even require an afterthought, since it has no mechanical effects. It has a handful of fluff effects, sure. Now paladins are not automatically beacons of Law and Good. For a lot of people, this will be a great improvement to their games.


At a certain point, once you decide to ignore all of the restrictions, everything you deem "pseudo-mechanics", you either go with generic classes or a group of Lightning Warriors... instead of a class, you have a pile of statistics calculated to give the most advantage to your build, that you've put a character on top of, instead of a character who is part of a class with certain characteristics. That sense, that amalgamation of advantageous traits without sharing in the weaknesses of the archetype... including such "weaknesses" as "always be fair, even when you don't have to be", "don't wear the best possible armor, because it conflicts with your beliefs", or "stay the course, and follow the path to enlightenment"... is what drives me away from 3.x and 4e.

You seem to be misunderstanding my point and putting me in a false dichotomy. I have absolutely nothing against restrictions, weaknesses and requirements. I actually make a point of adding those exact things to my characters even when there's no mechanical reason for me to do so. What I am protesting against is those restrictions being done for me. If the paladin code was SO important to the paladin class, why not say "All paladin characters should have a code, written by the player and approved by the DM." And maybe do the same for other divine classes. If the druid wearing metal armour was an actual balancing factor, use an actual mechanic, like AFC. As written, it seems to be purely for fluff reasons, and fluff actually varies from campaign to campaign.


People will frequently say "How can you like C&C (or AD&D, or Ars Magica or even L5R), with those restrictive classes? 3.x (or PF or 4e) has so much more freedom!" I see that "freedom" as restrictive, because I wind up having to care about the mechanics of my character. It pushes character mechanics from a decision I make and then deal with ("I am a dwarven fighter"; "I am a Hida Bushi of the Hida School") to a level by level dilemma. 4e tried to overcome this through specific roles, where the level-by-level decisions are from a slate of powers, but that still goes too far for me; even with the character creator, I found leveling up a slog of comparative game mechanics that had the simultaneous effect of making my character seem awesome and boring me to tears. Let me make my character, then play my character. Rather than unlocking new abilities each level, which then have to be incorporated into my tactics and design, let me make my character and play my character. Even if I gain new abilities at various levels (as previous edition druids and monks did), they're seldom the game changers that many new combat feats could be, or the paths lead by prestige classes. I can simply make my character and play my character. Even in games like L5R or Ars Magica, where XP is spent instead of accumulated, it is less a matter of becoming something else than building upon what you already are.

That's fine, people have different tastes. I think that the system HAS to be flexible or else there's only a limited amount of character concepts it can support. However, that doesn't mean that I think characters should be free of weaknesses or limitations. I believe that it should be up to the players playing those characters (and perhaps the DM) to work them out, because expecting a single set of restrictions to be valid for all possible campaigns and character concepts is just ridiculous.


In Castles and Crusades, I've had people level-up, mid-session. Roll a HD, add a bonus to hit, maybe pick up a new trick and you are DONE. I've done it in thirty minutes with a group of nine (a chatty group of nine), and that's with no more than two or three books between us, including two new people playing spellcasters. And they have fun because they get to be their characters. Their character is made, and they don't have to make it anew each level.

That's really nice and all, but... I hate to say it, but people can have fun by doing pretty much anything. Saying "they had fun" is not really a merit of the system. It might just mean that they had fun.


It's two incredibly different approaches to game play. The other isn't wrong... you're free to play it how you like, and I hope you enjoy it... but I just find it boring. It's homework and system mastery, instead of telling a good story with characters who are constrained by what they are, even as they're empowered by it.

And I am not a fan of homework and system mastery. I'm rather bad at both. I simply advocate for putting choice back into the players' hands.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-07, 12:08 PM
I'm curious how you could get into a Fall-worthy Catch-22 without outside interference.

Define "outside interference".

One of the easiest way to get in a Catch-22 is through a situtation where there was a third option (and maybe fourth, fifth and sixth too), but either through bad luck or bad decision (or combination thereof) the options are narrowed down to just the unfavorable ones.

For example, in the demon-baby scenario, the Paladin had brought a Wizard buddy with him, but in the fight against the Big Bad, the Wizard got killed, leaving the Paladin to deal with the situation alone.

(As for how the Paladin knows what the situation is, there's a number of option, ranging from skill checks to having known it all along because he was told and was specifically out to stop it, etc.)


Also, I don't recall any spells in the PHB or DMG detailing the need to use an infant and a complicated ritual to summon a pit fiend. Which means that you're well into homebrew territory already, so why are you so bent out of shape at the players doing something fitting for the genre which could save lives?

What if it's fitting for the genre for the hero to have to atone even though he saved those lives? Just because the world isn't against paladins, doesn't mean it's automatically for them either. In a setting where atonement exists, Paladins obviously aren't intended to be infallible.

You and ShadowKnight make a point that such situations are rare, but how common they are has never been an issue. It's highly dependent on things like player skill and the genre and setting, for example. (Would you expect to play a paladin in Ravenloft and not be screwed over?) My players get themselves in a pinch constantly simply because they're inexperienced, and not very good at thinking things through (see the example of the guy lost in the woods in the OP).


More to the point, desperate, last-minute scenarios happen due to timekeeping. Unless you have been extremely meticulous up to this point, it is extremely probable that it is ultimately the DM's call on whether the characters arrive in time to stop something horrendous. Which means that it ultimately is the DM's decision whether to force the Catch-22. It is the DM's call whether attempts at finding a third way are workable. It is the DM's decision to set up the scenario to likely play out in this way in the first place.

I happen to be meticulous about time and distance. Several events would be rendered impossible or meaningless if I didn't, since I don't bring a ready-made narrative to the table.

But once again, we're back to the thing I said to Tyndmyr. Sure, in most games with a GM, he has the power to warp the rules. But duty and right? I don't think those should be automatically included in the package.


Hm. Not sure I agree with this. I do think that, in certain circumstances, a DM should bend rules for the sake of enjoyability. It's not so much "story trumps rules" as the guy said in the second Gamers movie, but "fun trumps rules." Often, fun and rules are not at odds with each other. But in the rare occasions that they are, the rules need to be bent to accommodate fun.

I think part of your disagreement lies in two unstated premises:

1) The player's suggestion is reasonable.
2) GM's refuses just because.

But the player's suggestion might break the rules or the setting, and allowing this breach would be unfair to the other players.

It's logical to say a GM who's out to get you won't bend the rules for you, but saying a GM who won't bend the rules for you is out to get you is putting cart before the horse. It doesn't follow in the absence of other evidence.

I understand the "fun trumps rules" and "story trumps rules" ideals, but as noted, they're situational. My opinion on player fun (player including the GM here) is as follows: different people find different things fun. What's hilarious to one is frustrating to another. As amount of players grows, it might be possible for everyone to have fun, but it's impossiblet for everyone to have most fun.

In my experience, getting all players to agree on a set of rules and then sticking to them is the most satisfcatory long-term solution. It might mean some momentary peaks of hilarity are ironed out, but I feel the increased sense of predictability allows for depth of tactics, strategy and, well, roleplaying that'd not be there otherwise, and makes up for it.

KnightDisciple
2011-07-07, 08:32 PM
The thing is, the only way to reach some of the more "extreme" (say it like 90's kid, folks!) situations is by...houseruling or fudging the rules. I mean, unless it's something like "pick which person i kill!" kind of stuff. But demon invasions that hinge on a baby? Or some other wild scenario? No rules for it.

So if you're already bending the rules one way, why not the other?

Also, my "outside interference" remark was in regards to Players and DMs. The players, on their own, really likely won't hit upon such a scenario. The DM has to create it. Thus, "outside interference".

Also, I think you're missing the true intention of what atonement (and Atonement) are for. They're for when you genuinely mess up, when you make a mistake, when your human nature gets in the way of you walking the right path.

Not for when your DM throws "impossible" situations at you.

As for the world "not being for the paladin", sure. But if you're playing in a campaign with any Good deities and/or powerful outsiders (angels, archons, etc.), it makes exactly as much sense for them to step in and assist "their guy" as it does for demons and the like.

Incidentally, if "playing a Paladin in Ravenloft" equates to "being screwed over", I see no reason to play it. I'm fine with a chance of being screwed over, but a 100% guarantee? No sir.


Ultimately, the point is that these lose-lose situations nearly always arise because someone (like the DM) is bending/ignoring the rules. So saying "I can but you can't, because I want you to Fall" is...well, it's kind jerky.

Analytica
2011-07-07, 09:20 PM
Ultimately, the point is that these lose-lose situations nearly always arise because someone (like the DM) is bending/ignoring the rules. So saying "I can but you can't, because I want you to Fall" is...well, it's kind jerky.

I am not necessarily saying that you are wrong, but what rules are you talking about? The question is sincere.

I can easily see lose/lose situations occurring. Say, for instance, that an evil ghost has applied magical mind control to an innocent child ruler, and will use them to order some horrible thing. The paladin knows of this, and could in theory stop it in any number of ways. However, breaking the magic requires a stronger spellcaster than will be available nearby until after the horrible thing is done. Preventing it by finding allies at court or among the people likely won't work because this particular paladin does not have enough standing here, as a stranger, to carry it out. They would have no chance of besting several royal guards in battle at the same time. This would leave subduing the ruler. However, the evil ghost has made it clear to the paladin that it will kill the host body rather than allow it to be subdued, and in fact relies on the paladin being unable to make themselves harm an innocent in this situation. If a campaign leads up to this point, how has the DM bent or broken any rules?

KnightDisciple
2011-07-07, 09:31 PM
I am not necessarily saying that you are wrong, but what rules are you talking about? The question is sincere.

I can easily see lose/lose situations occurring. Say, for instance, that an evil ghost has applied magical mind control to an innocent child ruler, and will use them to order some horrible thing. The paladin knows of this, and could in theory stop it in any number of ways. However, breaking the magic requires a stronger spellcaster than will be available nearby until after the horrible thing is done. Preventing it by finding allies at court or among the people likely won't work because this particular paladin does not have enough standing here, as a stranger, to carry it out. They would have no chance of besting several royal guards in battle at the same time. This would leave subduing the ruler. However, the evil ghost has made it clear to the paladin that it will kill the host body rather than allow it to be subdued, and in fact relies on the paladin being unable to make themselves harm an innocent in this situation. If a campaign leads up to this point, how has the DM bent or broken any rules?How is the ghost applying the mind control?
Why wouldn't Protection from Evil (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/protectionFromEvil.htm) work for a couple of minutes, to let the kid say "Hey, this dude's actually a cool guy, and you should probably not listen to me when this spell stops until someone else can free me"?

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-07, 09:47 PM
The thing is, the only way to reach some of the more "extreme" (say it like 90's kid, folks!) situations is by...houseruling or fudging the rules. I mean, unless it's something like "pick which person i kill!" kind of stuff. But demon invasions that hinge on a baby? Or some other wild scenario? No rules for it.

So if you're already bending the rules one way, why not the other?

You're assuming an extreme scenario, but Paladin code is not so complicated as to require anything of the sort. You're also assuming the rules haven't already been bent both ways - maybe the wizard who the Paladin tried to bring with him had the counter-ritual etc.

You maybe right within those boundary conditions, but I still hold lose - lose scenarios can occur organically as well.


Also, my "outside interference" remark was in regards to Players and DMs. The players, on their own, really likely won't hit upon such a scenario. The DM has to create it. Thus, "outside interference".

Again, speak for your own players. Some people will walk into a trap when it's announced by fifty-feet flaming letters. I still think you're selling short the possibility of the unexpected - especially in systems which rely heavily on random chance, events emerge which no-one could've foreseen. The rules of the game create them, and they're decidedly internal influence. (I also consider character actions, especially those of the PCs, to be internal influence.)


Also, I think you're missing the true intention of what atonement (and Atonement) are for. They're for when you genuinely mess up, when you make a mistake, when your human nature gets in the way of you walking the right path.

Not for when your DM throws "impossible" situations at you.

But I'm not talking of the GM throwing impossible situations at you. I'm talking about situations becoming "impossible" due to a variety of factors. Quite a lot of time in Catch-22s, a mistake has been made - it just becomes apparent only when the milk's already on the ground.

Indeed, I'd say they're the greatest manifestation of your non-perfect nature getting in the way; you're not omniscient and couldn't have seen it coming, and not omnipotent so you don't have power to solve the paradoxical occurrence.


As for the world "not being for the paladin", sure. But if you're playing in a campaign with any Good deities and/or powerful outsiders (angels, archons, etc.), it makes exactly as much sense for them to step in and assist "their guy" as it does for demons and the like.

But why would it'd be any easier for them than it's for the bad guy? The bad guy is going out of his way to make it happen, what's the Paladin done on his part? Maybe he would've needed a newly-born too to serve as a vessel for the good outsider, but couldn't find any?

The "as much sense as" clause is the key here - if the interference of evil forces requires a great deal of work, so would interference of good ones. Or it might be the Paladin is the interference; that's the usual function of heroes, after all.


Ultimately, the point is that these lose-lose situations nearly always arise because someone (like the DM) is bending/ignoring the rules. So saying "I can but you can't, because I want you to Fall" is...well, it's kind jerky.
My whole point throughout has been that it can happen without anyone bending or ignoring the rules, as their direct consequence. The GM isn't saying "I can but you can't", he's saying "I haven't bend the rules priorly, I'm not starting now". Or maybe "I haven't bend the rules for anyone else, so I won't for you either".

Again, how common they are is not the issue. If you agree that they happen, sometimes, and are fine with it when they do, we're not really at disagreement here. If they only happen once in a blue moon in your group, congratulate your fellow gamers and pat them on the back or something.

kyoryu
2011-07-07, 09:59 PM
I am not necessarily saying that you are wrong, but what rules are you talking about? The question is sincere.

I can easily see lose/lose situations occurring. Say, for instance, that an evil ghost has applied magical mind control to an innocent child ruler, and will use them to order some horrible thing.

The Paladin is not responsible for the acts of the ghost - so long as he does what he can to find another way to defeat it, he should not fall.

What if he kills the innocent child ruler? Well, it might be justified. Probably is, in fact. But isn't this the kind of thing that you'd expect to weigh heavily on the conscience of the Paladin? Something that would require a lot of soul searching and wangsting? Something that the Paladin might feel the need to, oh, I dunno, Atone for?

Analytica
2011-07-07, 11:07 PM
How is the ghost applying the mind control?
Why wouldn't Protection from Evil work for a couple of minutes, to let the kid say "Hey, this dude's actually a cool guy, and you should probably not listen to me when this spell stops until someone else can free me"?

Interesting, I misunderstood Protection from Evil. I was going to say that the DC for the mind control was just very high, but that doesn't really enter into it the way the spell is written... What you describe should work, then. It has a range of touch, though. So in the hypothetical example, the paladin could be kept from touching the child by the royal guards or maybe by some effect raising the touch AC of the child. It could also be that the paladin was below fourth level, or did not have the spell prepared, or that they were told by the ghost that it would kill the child if the control was broken.


The Paladin is not responsible for the acts of the ghost - so long as he does what he can to find another way to defeat it, he should not fall.

That is one way to see it, though that may lead to absurd situations as well. If the very bad thing is much worse than killing the innocent, I think many would say that choosing a path where preventing it is effectively impossible rather than one that would actually is evil.


What if he kills the innocent child ruler? Well, it might be justified. Probably is, in fact. But isn't this the kind of thing that you'd expect to weigh heavily on the conscience of the Paladin? Something that would require a lot of soul searching and wangsting? Something that the Paladin might feel the need to, oh, I dunno, Atone for?

That is exactly my perspective as well. :smallsmile:

KnightDisciple
2011-07-07, 11:12 PM
Interesting, I misunderstood Protection from Evil. I was going to say that the DC for the mind control was just very high, but that doesn't really enter into it the way the spell is written... What you describe should work, then. It has a range of touch, though. So in the hypothetical example, the paladin could be kept from touching the child by the royal guards or maybe by some effect raising the touch AC of the child. It could also be that the paladin was below fourth level, or did not have the spell prepared, or that they were told by the ghost that it would kill the child if the control was broken.It's possible to keep the touch from happening...but all the Paladin has to do is use Diplomacy (one hopes he has at least a few ranks) to be able to shake the king's hand or something. Just don't barge in saying "I shall banish you, ghost!".

As for "I'll kill the kid if my control breaks", that's not really possible within the spell. The instant it takes effect, the ghost can do nothing to the boy, at all. Then all they need to do is get a cleric of about any level to help keep casting it.

I'd hope a character below 4th isn't already having to deal with situations of this scope; it seems a bit unfair to them, really.

Analytica
2011-07-07, 11:30 PM
It's possible to keep the touch from happening...but all the Paladin has to do is use Diplomacy (one hopes he has at least a few ranks) to be able to shake the king's hand or something. Just don't barge in saying "I shall banish you, ghost!".

In the hypothetical example, will the paladin could diplomance the child, the ghost could well have too high stats for it to work. Suppose that the attempt was made, dice was rolled, but the roll was too low. If it hadn't been, the attempt would have worked.


As for "I'll kill the kid if my control breaks", that's not really possible within the spell. The instant it takes effect, the ghost can do nothing to the boy, at all. Then all they need to do is get a cleric of about any level to help keep casting it.

I didn't provide enough detail, sorry. The killing wouldn't be done using the mind control, but by some other power that the Protection wouldn't block. I could go dig through the core rules for one and am reasonably sure I could find one (contingent spells come to mind), but...


I'd hope a character below 4th isn't already having to deal with situations of this scope; it seems a bit unfair to them, really.

This is true. Mind you, that could make for an excellent game anyway, if you're in a mood for that.

I guess what I would say is that if you signed up for a game where you have a decent chance of succeeding at every challenge the plot takes you to, this kind of situation would be disappointing. If the premise is clear from the start that there may be challenges where no satisfactory solution exists - i.e. that you are not guaranteed level-appropriate encounters - then as a player I could choose either to participate in the game or not, depending on what kind of game I feel like at the time.

kyoryu
2011-07-08, 11:12 AM
That is one way to see it, though that may lead to absurd situations as well. If the very bad thing is much worse than killing the innocent, I think many would say that choosing a path where preventing it is effectively impossible rather than one that would actually is evil.

I tend to look at good/evil from a individual rights-based perspective. Violating someone's rights is Evil, even if done for a "Good" cause. The ends do not justify the means. (With a caveat for defending your rights, or those of others, against an aggressor).

It's a reasonable principle - it gives the "right" answer in the clear cases, and the answers it gives in murky situations tend to not be totally bizarre.

Alchemistmerlin
2011-07-08, 11:16 AM
I think the problem with the Paladin being put in a lose-lose situation is at least twofold.

One : The Paladin is a weak enough class already. Why in the world are you trying to screw him over specifically? Why should one class get picked on just because they have a code of honor?

Two : "Kill the baby to beat the demon, fall for killing the baby! Fail to kill the baby and you fall for letting the demon loose on the world!" - this is one of the scenarios most frequently touted in these discussions, and frankly, it's a terrible one. You've been put in a lose-lose situation where the DM has put everything in place specifically to strip your underpowered ass of the few nice things you do have. In-game, though, yeah, a Paladin should LOOK for a third option, but if one doesn't exist, is their deity really going to make them fall because some jerkass put them in a situation they couldn't do anything about? There should be some serious grief-based roleplay over it, major angst, but no bolt of light that turns all their blues to grays. Not over something they had no choice in.

Why would the paladin fall for letting the demon loose? Did he specifically cast the summoning?

"Don't kill an innocent, and sort out the demon thing after" is clearly the right answer there.

Analytica
2011-07-10, 02:21 PM
I tend to look at good/evil from a individual rights-based perspective. Violating someone's rights is Evil, even if done for a "Good" cause. The ends do not justify the means. (With a caveat for defending your rights, or those of others, against an aggressor).

It's a reasonable principle - it gives the "right" answer in the clear cases, and the answers it gives in murky situations tend to not be totally bizarre.

Fair enough. I might do it differently, but I recognize your point. :smallsmile:

kyoryu
2011-07-11, 11:42 AM
Fair enough. I might do it differently, but I recognize your point. :smallsmile:

Thanks that's all anyone can ask, and surprisingly reasonable on the intertubes.

Another example: Is it Evil to steal bread from a wealthy merchant to feed your family?

From the rights perspective, it is. You should instead find a way to convince the merchant to give you the bread - either offer to do some miniscule work for him, beg from him, get a bunch of people to boycott him... whatever.

A key piece of this view though is that a Good person can still do Evil. If all of the options above failed, a man *might* steal the bread to feed his family. But he wouldn't do it with a clean conscience. I think that's a key differentiator - the "most benefit for the most" viewpoint allows the theft to be done with a clean moral conscience, which I think is a slippery slope.

hamishspence
2011-07-11, 01:25 PM
I tend to look at good/evil from a individual rights-based perspective. Violating someone's rights is Evil, even if done for a "Good" cause. The ends do not justify the means. (With a caveat for defending your rights, or those of others, against an aggressor).

It's a reasonable principle - it gives the "right" answer in the clear cases, and the answers it gives in murky situations tend to not be totally bizarre.

I tend to agree- the tricky part is, what are "rights" and what are "privileges" that can be forfeited on a temporary or permanent basis?

Life, liberty, and property, are the basic three, and all are, arguably, forfeitable.

Life- executing someone for a very serious crime.
Liberty- locking someone away for an amount of time depending on the crime (or, until their guilt or innocence can be ascertained).
Property- fining someone an amount in addition to confiscating the ill-gotten wealth.

Other more abstract rights, might be less "forfeitable" so to speak.

The right to a fair trial.
The right to not suffer cruel and unusual treatment.

Some people may be able to suggest others- BoED is most clear about the "cruel and unusual treatment"- though it was IMO a mistake to include poison in that.

As to the "stealing for loved ones" Champions of Ruin certainly says Good characters can be "driven to evil from time to time"- it's a consistant pattern of evil deeds, that generally marks an Evil character.

And it may rank as much less evil than "stealing from the needy for personal gain" (called out as a moderately serious Corrupt act in FC2).

kyoryu
2011-07-11, 03:44 PM
I tend to agree- the tricky part is, what are "rights" and what are "privileges" that can be forfeited on a temporary or permanent basis?

Life, liberty, and property, are the basic three, and all are, arguably, forfeitable.

The examples you give are being done by a (supposedly) lawful government in response to a criminal that has infringed upon the rights of others. That's really an institutionalized case of self-defense.

I don't know that the same exceptions apply to individuals.


As to the "stealing for loved ones" Champions of Ruin certainly says Good characters can be "driven to evil from time to time"- it's a consistant pattern of evil deeds, that generally marks an Evil character.

Sure. And the unknowable "do they feel remorse?"


And it may rank as much less evil than "stealing from the needy for personal gain" (called out as a moderately serious Corrupt act in FC2).

It would certainly be a pretty minor Evil act, nobody disputes that.

I think we're basically in agreement. As I said, it's not a *perfect* framework, but it's a pretty usable one in practice.

hamishspence
2011-07-12, 02:42 AM
"Institutionalized self-defence/defence of others" is a pretty good way of putting it.

"Depriving someone of their liberty" can be done be individuals as well as governments- the proverbial "citizen's arrest" where the private citizen has the right to confine an individual caught committing a (serious?) crime until the police can get there.

There's an argument that "anything that is morally OK for a government to do, is morally OK for individuals to do"- but this might only apply during a "breakdown of law and order" where individuals might form a de facto government for the duration of the emergency.

For example, in the Realms, paladins of Tyr are accepted as judge & jury in some areas- but these are exceptionally lawless areas.

kyoryu
2011-07-12, 11:06 AM
"Institutionalized self-defence/defence of others" is a pretty good way of putting it.

"Depriving someone of their liberty" can be done be individuals as well as governments- the proverbial "citizen's arrest" where the private citizen has the right to confine an individual caught committing a (serious?) crime until the police can get there.

Defense of someone's rights, if the person was apprehended committing a crime.


There's an argument that "anything that is morally OK for a government to do, is morally OK for individuals to do"- but this might only apply during a "breakdown of law and order" where individuals might form a de facto government for the duration of the emergency.

I'd tend to agree with this, given the "but" clause.


For example, in the Realms, paladins of Tyr are accepted as judge & jury in some areas- but these are exceptionally lawless areas.

Having actual deities does tend to complicate things :smallbiggrin: But I'd consider a deity (especially Tyr) as equivalent to a government, really, and so a Paladin of Tyr could easily be considered an individual vested by a legal power with that authority.

hamishspence
2011-07-13, 04:28 AM
But I'd consider a deity (especially Tyr) as equivalent to a government, really, and so a Paladin of Tyr could easily be considered an individual vested by a legal power with that authority.

That said- this might give a paladin more responsibility, not less, to avoid offending other governments. Thus, if he tries and executes people in an area with an existing authority, without that authority's sanction, that authority might treat the paladin's acts as "an act of war" and expel the clergy of Tyr within the realm.