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Sugashane
2012-04-07, 04:12 PM
My character has a background where he lost parents by clerics of Vecna killing them (yes it seems generic but it is the shortest way to sum it up, no reason to type the whole history). This caused my character to desire nothing more than to stop evil in any way possible. So when he sees an evil based church such as Vecna or someone else, he will try to steal the money from the church and will give the money to the poor or donate it to the good-based churches. He does this without any bloodshed except for the one time he walked in on a sacrificial ritual, and obviously stopped them.

Now my DM has been keeping back whether this will cause me to fall or not, as I am breaking the law, but the Paladin's code is arguable more set for justice and combating anything evil. Another member of my group is going through manopause as he constantly nags about it, but I view it as a greater good, as a paladin may work with an evil character to stop a greater evil for a time.

I was wondering on some views from you all, for or against. I will eventually find out through the DM but we will have arguments to back our points, but he will only make his ruling through the gameplay, whenever he fully decides.

Thank you!

Zale
2012-04-07, 04:17 PM
Paladins are expected to respect the local laws.

Though, this depends on what you mean by "Stealing".

Jade Dragon
2012-04-07, 04:18 PM
If you're a thief, why are you a paladin? They have zero thieving skills. You'd be better off with a rogue that has two levels of paladin, or just a rogue. Or a swordsage, they get halfway decent thieving skills.

I would say this doesn't break the code. Paladins are more about law than good. But the code is vague, except when it's not, if that makes any sense. Paladins, however, shouldn't even have a code. They should just have an alignment restriction. Unless you're going specifically for some paladin-only spells and the Battle Blessing feat, you're better off playing a cleric or rogue. Especially since no matter how many splatbooks you have, cleric is always stronger.

Shadowknight12
2012-04-07, 04:20 PM
Paladins are expected to obey local laws only when the paladin recognises and respects the authority of the people who issued those laws. If a paladin visits a nation where slavery is allowed or legally enforced by law, they would be under no compunction to uphold such laws if they decided not to recognise the authorities that issued them. This lack of recognition would stem, of course, from moral disagreements. After all, Hell is Lawful too, yet you wouldn't expect paladins to abide by their laws when they go there to kill Asmodeus.

shadow_archmagi
2012-04-07, 04:52 PM
"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.

On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability.

A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

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


I'd say that the specific example given suggests that a Paladin wouldn't necessarily fall for robbing an evil church, however, sneaking in and robbing the place wouldn't be very honorable. I'd say that the most traditional Paladin behavior (and Paladins are all about tradition) would be to kick in the doors and challenge the priests to defend themselves, what with them being clearly evil and all.

KillianHawkeye
2012-04-07, 05:16 PM
I'd say that the specific example given suggests that a Paladin wouldn't necessarily fall for robbing an evil church, however, sneaking in and robbing the place wouldn't be very honorable. I'd say that the most traditional Paladin behavior (and Paladins are all about tradition) would be to kick in the doors and challenge the priests to defend themselves, what with them being clearly evil and all.

I agree with this evaluation.

I would say that if he keeps up with all this sneaking and stealing activity, he's eventually going to be in danger of losing the Lawful component of his alignment.

HunterOfJello
2012-04-07, 05:20 PM
Paladins aren't defined by their quality of being anti-evil. They are defined by the fact that they hold their actions as more important than the results of their actions. They will seek to do good in all ways, but they hold the cause as more important than the effect.

Stealing is an evil action. You may attempt to justify the action, but that's not was a real paladin does. A paladin asks, "Is this action itself good or evil?" while ignoring the results of that action. Paladin's possess a deontological perspective on morality (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics). To put the result of the action as more important than the action itself is more in line with the ontological or consequentialist perspective of morality.



Code of Conduct: A paladin must be of lawful good alignment
and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.
Additionally, a paladinís code requires that she respect legitimate
authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison,
and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help
for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten
innocents.

Stealing falls in line with the paladin's necessity of acting with honor listing within their class description. Since the paladin did willingly choose to steal from citizens with no evidence that the individuals obtained the money illegally, the theft both likely breaks the laws of the area, was a dishonorable act, and is an evil action under the deontological perspective of ethics, I would have the Paladin fall.

I'm guessing that you think the actions were justified because they punished people who were evil. That's not good evil for a LG Paladin. You could attempt to set up a type of CG Paladin of Freedom who can use a consequentialist perspective of morality (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism). That would likely be a better fit for you. It's a better fit for the majority of people.

Toy Killer
2012-04-07, 05:24 PM
I would say that its incredibly un-paladin like to steal from anyone like such.

The idea of being a force of justice is that you don't stoop to their levels. You may kill, but typically under a modified castle law saying that you can defend yourself, or someone unable to kill themselves.

If the Vecna church is evil, truly evil, you should have no problem with liberating the country-side from the ugly pockmark. If they haven't done anything wrong, and are just simply clerics and priests researching new material in the name of a dark lord, but aren't actually doing anything wrong themselves; then the code requires you to let them be until they do wrong.

One of the many frustrations of not playing a grey-guard paladin.:smallannoyed:

Sugashane
2012-04-07, 10:29 PM
I appreciate the replies. I see both sides of the argument now. As of now, the only reason I haven't had a direct confrontation is that when I try to find out if they are actively doing an evil deed or where they are taking the money, they somehow disappear (even detect evil did not show) so I am yet to catch them doing anything, plus fairly low level at the moment as we started a new campaign. Even our bard has been unable to find out where their money goes or what it is funding. I dislike the (poorly done) sneaking about but make do so I have a reason to go in swinging.

INoKnowNames
2012-04-08, 02:58 AM
I don't feel like quoting anything specific from the thread, but just making some general statements.

I don't see why Lawful implies Not-Sneaky. I've heard it that people find the idea of Lawful Rogues or other such types odd. And frankly, I find that just plain stupid, if only due to the idea of Government Super Spies and Black Ops, who would easily be Rogues, and could just as easily be Lawful. I always think of James Bond as a Lawful Good Rogue.

I'm certainly not going to say that a Paladin sneaking around isn't odd, if only because the class isn't really built for it, although that's hardly relevant to the discussion. But I see no issue with a Paladin fighting evil in such a way. If he pocketed the money, that's one thing. But stealing from an evil church to donate to charity? That doesn't seem like it would ping on an allignment scale to me.

Then again, I'm a rather loose person myself, prefering Neutral to Lawful or Chaotic.

I could have sworn I read in the Good Book (of Exalted Deeds) about whether or not it is more important to be Lawful or to be Good, specifically sighting a Paladin respecting local authority vs the Paladin's order in tracking down a criminal. I think it rules in favor more of Good than of Lawfulness. Then again, not everyone uses the Good Book, or the Evil Book (of Vile Darkness). For that matter, why isn't there a Lawful or Chaotic book?

Socratov
2012-04-08, 05:54 AM
lawful doesn't imply you never do an dishonerable act, hell, the lawful evil alignment is all about beÔng a dishonerable douche without actually breaking the law (hence it's a great alignment for lawyers).

A paladin does what is Right(tm), and sometimes some circumstances call for a different Right(tm) thing to do. IMO as long as the paladin can properly justify his actions as being Right(tm) he won't fall.

Ranting Fool
2012-04-08, 12:10 PM
My brother does philosophy in college and had a long and rather heated debate about alignments with a mate of mine who has a Masters in Science (can't remember the exact title) and wants to do another Masters in philosophy. Now I can't remember exactly which one said what but the argument for a pally was this. (and I'm misquoting because I can't remember the exact wording)


A pally will always do what is right regardless of consequence later on; if his actions are pure at the time he does them, then he has done no wrong despite the outcome. If the outcome is evil then it is because another person did the evil. Example, if the BBEG has a hostage says do something evil or I'll kill the hostage then the Pally would still refuse to do evil (the death of the hostage and it's evil would be totally on the BBEG). The same if an evil army demanded that a city "Kill/hand over one single innocent in order to save the city" as refusal would kill more than one innocent.

They used a bunch of large and intelligent sounding words but that was the basic idea of what they believe a pally to be.
If you are unsure if your characters actions would cause you to lose your pally abilities then ask your DM for a more clear guideline, as it is his decision (and his interpretation of morality within the D&D setting that he/she has built for you) that is important.

hamishspence
2012-04-08, 12:27 PM
While there are moral absolutes in D&D books, PHB2 has one paladin philosophy as

"Outside of moral absolutes, an ethical code is based on the greatest good of the greatest number"

Killing isn't always evil (such as in defence of self, defence of others, or when it's a just penalty for a serious crime). See BoED and BoVD for details.

BoVD also has lying as "not always evil- but risky"

Why then should stealing be "always evil"?

Though in general- I would require similar mitigating factors. Stealing from the Big Bad, specifically in order to prevent the Big Bad harming innocents with whatever it is you have stolen- seems quite in order for Good, and possibly even Lawful Good- if the authority has "forfeited respect" (Lawful types are supposed to respect authority under normal circumstances).

Vattic
2012-04-08, 12:36 PM
well, HunterOfJello already mentioned it, but i'll throw in my 2 cents.

the issue is whether or not the DM rules that an action is in and of itself evil, or if they judge good and evil by their results/consequences.

if they rule actions are inherently good or bad, then stealing is mostly likely bad no matter what you do.

if they rule that the ends justify the means then stealing from evil priests to give to charity is probably cool.

the problem stems from the fact that D&D authors claim that actions are inherently good or bad and players often are at odds with that.

hamishspence
2012-04-08, 02:13 PM
Quite a few D&D authors allow for context-senstitivity in acts- the difference between Justified Killing and Murder, for example.

Some acts are specifically called out as evil in books though.

From "channelling negative energy" in the PHB, to "destroying souls" in BoVD.

"The ends don't justify the means" for Always Evil acts- but some acts are, perhaps intentionally, left "greyer".

If a Chaotic Good character (with Exalted feats, or class that prohibits Evil acts) can steal and not Fall, then that would suggest that "stealing" is one of these context-sensitive acts.

That's a big if, however.

absolmorph
2012-04-08, 02:55 PM
Isn't Robin Hood a classic example of Chaotic Good? One of the biggest parts of his character the fact that he steals money and gives it to the poor and needy?
If stealing is an Evil act, and charity is a Good act, then he would some variant of Neutral, not Good.

Stealing is not an Evil act. It's a Chaotic act. This can still shift your alignment over time (which will still remove your Paladin abilities), but having strict restrictions on who you steal from (i.e. only evil churches) can limit that, or negate it.

hamishspence
2012-04-08, 03:12 PM
I see stealing as like killing- "unjustified killing" is an evil act (murder, in the case of sapients) - "unjustified stealing" is an evil act- but both can be justified given the right context and conditions.

For Robin to be Good IMO, he must only steal from those whose gains are, in a sense- ill-gotten- the imposes of unjust, excessive taxes. Even then, his motive needs to be in order to succour those who were the victims.

Stealing, then going abroad and giving it to the needy elsewhere, who weren't victimised by the people Robin's robbin' :smallamused:

would not be justified.

McStabbington
2012-04-08, 03:15 PM
Isn't Robin Hood a classic example of Chaotic Good? One of the biggest parts of his character the fact that he steals money and gives it to the poor and needy?
If stealing is an Evil act, and charity is a Good act, then he would some variant of Neutral, not Good.

Stealing is not an Evil act. It's a Chaotic act. This can still shift your alignment over time (which will still remove your Paladin abilities), but having strict restrictions on who you steal from (i.e. only evil churches) can limit that, or negate it.

That does not follow, since not all thefts have the same contexts as Robin Hood's, who was stealing from a usurper who was destroying the peasantry with oppressive taxation. In effect, he was stealing what was someone else had stolen and giving it back to those who had been robbed. That is chaotic, but not evil. It's entirely different, for instance, to steal vital penicillin research on behalf of the largest distributor of mercury in order to prevent the market for mercury treatments for syphilis from being undercut. That's actually both chaotic and pretty darned evil.

Callista
2012-04-09, 01:09 AM
Yeah, why aren't you playing a Paladin of Freedom? They are CG and it sounds much more like what you want. Talk to your DM, ask to rebuild your character as CG instead of LG. You now get to tear down oppressive, evil, and generally nasty organizations by any (non-evil) means necessary--steal, sneak, go undercover, whatever--and still get to be a paladin. Paladin of freedom is different in flavor; you aren't going to have that "honorable soldier" feel to it--Paladin of Freedom is more like playing the revolutionary who is fighting to free his people from an oppressive government.

A paladin of freedom doesn't particularly care for honor or the law, and he cares very much about protecting the oppressed. The one thing that'll get him crusading the most predictably is probably slavery or mind-control; that goes against everything he believes in. They aren't honorable and they won't worry about whether they have to steal or lie; but they're every bit as Good-aligned as the LG type, and care just as much about the usual Good-aligned goals.

So yeah, talk to the DM, explain your character concept is chaotic, not lawful, and you need to switch classes. It shouldn't be that much of a difference, as far as mechanics goes. Still the same power level, and all that.

One more thing--while your character is focusing on killing evil things, remember that he's got to have more motivation than just that. If a person vows to kill evil clerics because he wants revenge, there's nothing about that which would induce a deity to choose him as a paladin. Ask yourself why he's killing evil things--it can't be just revenge. For example, he might want to prevent the tragedy which happened to him from happening to anyone else. He might be carrying on his parents' work (obviously there's some reason why they were targeted by the evil clerics, yeah?). Also, don't just focus on killing stuff. A paladin is a soldier and that's what he's trained to do; but there's a reason they get high charisma and Diplomacy as a class skill. They are also good leaders, negotiators, and role models. So instead of just killing stuff, they should also be trying to influence others. Whether that means preaching sermons, starting up soup kitchens, or leading a squad of soldiers into battle depends entirely on who the character is.

Red_Dog
2012-04-09, 07:09 AM
Paladin code debates...

I guess I'll just leave this comment here=>

Paladins, while always assumed to be "generic paragons of LG" while clerics are assumed to be paragons of a Diety that may-or-may-not be LG. IMO and as far as I know per books[especially gray guard varient shows this a LOT] this isn't true. Both of them can do one or the other. So with this in mind, a quickest way for one to solve Paladin code issues[aside from talking to the DM] is to be part of a Church of A God. Choose a Lawful Good God[quite a few of those] and worship him/her. For example => Choose Yondalla. You aren't halfling? Who cares! Yondalla isn't racist [I hope not lol, Lawful Good should suggest that she isn't]!

She has protection and community as domains. This could be interpreted as, you are protecting the community from "Evil Vecna church" by all means you currently can[if say, full scale war isn't an option]. Also, worshiping Yondalla and being part of her church should reasonably let you behave more like a halfling, as in a little less of a "shiny man/woman in shiny armor on a shiny horse" and more of a clever guy/gal that means well and nice to hang around with.

P.S. Just by the by, any moral arguments in D&D like in real life, bring conflict so be careful with that to not wreck real life relationships over a game^^.

Callista
2012-04-09, 12:53 PM
Well... Yondalla *is* pretty much a halfling deity. You would've had to dedicate your life to protecting halfling communities for her to take you on as a paladin.

There is one technicality that you may be able to slip through, as far as deities are concerned: If you have a LG deity, and are a Paladin of Freedom, then you can't be a paladin of that deity, but you can still be a paladin of a cause, who just happens to worship a LG deity. If you choose a deity that's heavy on the Good, light on the Law, you will probably not have any particular issues. Just don't make your paladin particularly religious; after all, his powers wouldn't be coming from that deity, but from his own faith, powered by the Good-aligned outer planes.

Lord_Gareth
2012-04-09, 01:00 PM
Somehow I am forced to say this in every paladin thread ever: Unless you are playing in the Forgotten Realms, Paladins are gods-optional. No gods were harmed or helped in the creation of your paladin. Worship whoever you freakin' want.

At no point is it said that the Paladin gets his power from, or relates to, a deity in any way. If you want to be a Paladin of Freedom that worships Yondolla, your afterlife is between you and her, but your class features work just fine.

Callista
2012-04-09, 01:04 PM
Somehow I am forced to say this in every paladin thread ever: Unless you are playing in the Forgotten Realms, Paladins are gods-optional. No gods were harmed or helped in the creation of your paladin. Worship whoever you freakin' want.

At no point is it said that the Paladin gets his power from, or relates to, a deity in any way. If you want to be a Paladin of Freedom that worships Yondolla, your afterlife is between you and her, but your class features work just fine.'Course. It's just traditional for a paladin to be a holy knight who worships a deity--similar to the way it's traditional for a rogue to know how to handle traps or a barbarian to know his way around the wilderness.

Lord_Gareth
2012-04-09, 01:07 PM
'Course. It's just traditional for a paladin to be a holy knight who worships a deity--similar to the way it's traditional for a rogue to know how to handle traps or a barbarian to know his way around the wilderness.

I realize, but I get kinda annoyed that after ten years of 3.5 people still haven't managed to read that section of the paladin class. It got especially touchy for me after I started an entire thread on the subject. Forcing paladins to worship a god the way a Cleric has to not only blurs the line between them more (a blurring that favors Cleric in the extreme) but vastly limits a lot of character concepts that might otherwise see play as new, interesting takes on the archetype.

Sugashane
2012-04-09, 02:30 PM
At no point is it said that the Paladin gets his power from, or relates to, a deity in any way. If you want to be a Paladin of Freedom that worships Yondolla, your afterlife is between you and her, but your class features work just fine.

Actually a valid point, my character views many deities as nothing more than powerful bullies. So while he respects many of the good ones such as Moradin, Kord, etc, he follows nor pays to none.

Red_Dog
2012-04-09, 02:32 PM
I realize, but I get kinda annoyed that after ten years of 3.5 people still haven't managed to read that section of the paladin class. It got especially touchy for me after I started an entire thread on the subject. Forcing paladins to worship a god the way a Cleric has to not only blurs the line between them more (a blurring that favors Cleric in the extreme) but vastly limits a lot of character concepts that might otherwise see play as new, interesting takes on the archetype.

Cleric does not need to warship a deity.

It seems to me, that Paladin is a lot more similar to Favored Soul. As in, power is granted by someone, weather you want it or not. Just like Favored soul, you can walk away from it and refuse it. I would imagine that someone has to be rather specific? Of course you could go with "concept" granting you these powers. But I though, an equally valid choice would be some deity? This would give a better position to argue about the code with the DM. Which was kind of my original point...

I also specifically mentioned Gray Guard in my comment since Gray Guard explicitly sates that you are an agent of some church[and they give examples of typical justice gods].


Well... Yondalla *is* pretty much a halfling deity. You would've had to dedicate your life to protecting halfling communities for her to take you on as a paladin.

I though, anyone can warship any god? I might have missed that section but I didn't see anything forbidding one to follow any god?[Dragonomicon specifies that human worship Dragon deities with no issues?]. Why wouldn't a human barbarian warlord not warship Grummush? As long as you follow the concept of that God? And as far as "granting powers at lvl1"[favored souls/apaldins]... Gods work in mysterious ways?O_0 Makes for an interesting character IMO?

Callista
2012-04-09, 03:23 PM
I though, anyone can warship any god? I might have missed that section but I didn't see anything forbidding one to follow any god?[Dragonomicon specifies that human worship Dragon deities with no issues?]. Why wouldn't a human barbarian warlord not warship Grummush? As long as you follow the concept of that God? And as far as "granting powers at lvl1"[favored souls/apaldins]... Gods work in mysterious ways?O_0 Makes for an interesting character IMO?Yep, anybody can worship any god. It's just that when you are a paladin of a deity or a cleric of a deity, your personal goals have to coincide with the deity's goals, or else it wouldn't make sense in terms of plot and personality for the god to take you on as a paladin or a cleric.

Yondalla is a halfling deity whose primary goal is to keep halflings safe and living in harmony. She's got nothing against any other race; it's just that halflings are her particular responsibility, and one she takes rather seriously. If you were to be a cleric or paladin of Yondalla, you'd have to have that goal yourself, for it to make much sense that you're serving Yondalla rather than some other more general deity. So you could probably justify a human cleric or paladin of Yondalla, if that particular human cared about halflings specifically.

Zale
2012-04-09, 03:37 PM
Cleric does not need to warship a deity.


I would hope that Clerics don't ram deities with Warships.