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Peregrine
2007-02-08, 12:06 PM
Welcome, initiates, to the beginning of the rest of your life. Today you begin your new life as a paladin, the strong right arm of God. I see that you have been issued with your swords and armour; leave them at the sides and sit down. You will not need them yet. Here, in this class, you will learn about the life of a paladin. You will learn about honour, justice, mercy, duty; above all, though, you will learn about the code to which you will dedicate your life. You may call me Teacher, or Master; I pray for your swift elevation to full rank, when you may call me Brother.

Of humility befitting a paladin (Paladin's Rule 0: Don't be a jerk.)

You know of course that you are here because you have been chosen. But lest any of you fall into pride because of this, remember that you have been chosen by God to serve in a specific capacity to use certain gifts given to you. The governor, the scholar, or even the farmer, who seeks to honour God in his labour, is chosen and gifted as surely as you. You may find yourself lifted higher than they because of your calling, but you will also ever be in peril of falling lower. Remember this, and be humble.

Of the paladin's code and the truth it stands for (Don't let the code choke you or your game.)

It is because we are chosen, and called, that we must live by our code. The essence of the code is simple: do no evil; respect authority; act with honour; help the needy; punish the wicked. But you are not here just because you are capable of following rules. The code is more than rules. It is the expression in words and deeds of a deeper truth. It is the violation of that truth, not of the mere rules that express it, that will distance you from God should you transgress against the code.

The truth of righteous living is universal, but it is essentially unutterable. The more we try to describe and define it, the farther we stray from its universal nature. Yet because we are only mortal beings, we must try to define it in order to conceive of it and follow it at all. Thus, what the code means for me may differ from what it means for you. But this must not be the shifting, relative morality of whim and passion that you may have heard preached, for we must seek our path from God, not our worldly wants and desires. Particularly to those who have come from afar to learn with us for a time, I say: Discuss earnestly the particulars of your own code with a mentor before you begin your duties as a paladin. In this way, you may avoid the troubles of vagueness and doubt on the one hand, and the poison of lawless self-will on the other.

Notwithstanding all that I have said, I shall try to clarify what it is to conduct yourself righteously, as befits a paladin, and God willing it shall light your path somewhat.

You have no doubt heard in tales and such that it is a noble thing to die by the code. Put that out of your minds. I shall endeavour to teach you to live by the code; if you do, you will be ready to die when your time has come, but you shall not be tempted to court death for your own glory. More importantly, you must know how to live by the code with every breath you take, every deed you do, even when death is not an immediate danger. Those who only know to die by the code will stand firm in battle and hard deeds, but swiftly fall to the subtler seductions of evil.

Of honourable combat (Stop shouting challenges before every fight. War is not a duel is not an arrest.)

But let us first look at battle, for we are the soldiers of God in a world of danger and war. You have heard that you should give the enemy a fair fight, yes? Open challenge, equal readiness, and God will decide? Utter rubbish. Put it out of your minds at once. The only time you are obliged to give this sort of 'fair fight' is when you are honour-bound to do so: that is, in a duel. The principle you must instead observe might be called the 'rules of engagement'. This is the term used in open warfare, but it will serve for all forms of combat and confrontation. The rules of engagement for a duel call for a 'fair fight'. No other rules do.

The most basic rule of engagement is that you must have due cause before doing violence to a foe, and you must do your diligence to make this cause known to the foe. In warfare, this is often twisted to demand a duel-like challenge, no ambushes, and other such absurdities. It is the declaration of war itself that serves to make your cause known. After that, anyone who is a soldier or partisan in the war may be considered to be legitimately informed, and you may attack in any manner that is suitable, observing only the mercies of your conscience and a rigorous effort to ensure that you only attack soldiers and partisans.

It is likely that you will spend more time in commonplace enforcement of the law than in open warfare -- and here too the 'rules of engagement' have been twisted to make you believe you must duel every lawbreaker and murderer that crosses your path. Your duty in upholding the law is to uphold the law. In the process of apprehending a culprit, you must make them aware of the crimes with which they are charged -- but you may, indeed should, use sufficiently overwhelming force to ensure that they are apprehended. Letting them escape from a 'fair fight' is a travesty of justice, not a deed of honour.

Of duels, and of the related trial by combat, the less said the better. If you should find yourself in one, let it be because a trusted and neutral authority called for it. If you declare that God will see you victorious, when you declared the duel to satisfy some slight to your own honour, your judgement is clouded and you are almost certainly not acting in submission to God's will.

Of justice tempered with mercy (Lawful AND Good, people.)

Enough said of combat and violence, even if it is just. Justice alone is not enough. A paladin is a champion of righteousness, which is justice tempered with mercy, law balanced with love. Meditate often on this. Those who revere justice without compassion will tell you that your law is made imperfect by your mercy and restraint. Those who celebrate loving-kindness above all will say that your good deeds are fettered by your strictures and principles.

The truth that the first error will deny is that the law is imperfect, an imperfect expression of the truth of righteousness. Law without love serves no purpose but itself, and is futile. Law and love together serve to better the giver and the receiver of justice.

The second error denies the truth that love without stricture is defenceless. Quite apart from defending against all the evils of the world -- and as paladins we must maintain our vigilance always, and be bound to order and principle to do so -- we ourselves are not perfect. To defend the goodness of love in our own hearts, we must be mindful of lawfulness, not so that love becomes diminished, but so that it may be perfected, and not sicken or stray into a cruel parody of love that, all unawares and unresisting, harms others in the pursuit of the beloved, even harms the beloved thing itself.

Always strive for the way that upholds law and good. But the perfect way is narrow and hard to find. If you are ever caught between them, remember that the second error is the less. Imperfect good is preferable to imperfect law. Remember the first rule of every paladin: do no evil.

Of resisting evil (Why we do not detect-and-smite.)

More than this, of course, we are called to actively resist evil. You will learn to sense the presence of evil; indeed, part of your training here will be in recognising the aura that evil presents to your supernatural senses. This, however, should be your first clue to the limitations of this gift: It is quite hard to actually get evil people to willingly come inside our walls and be test subjects. Therefore, we use magic to present differing auras to you, for your training. Learn from this that the semblance of evil is not itself sufficient grounds for violence. (Learn also that the absence of the semblance of evil is no cause for complacency.)

Moreover, the taint of evil on a being's soul is not itself a crime. We punish deeds, not souls; souls, we strive to redeem. Evil can be mundane; it can even -- but never be complacent -- even be beneath our immediate concern. A malicious misanthrope who spitefully abuses and spreads lies about his neighbours is a wicked person, and you will sense the evil in him, but misanthropy is not -- not in our region, at any rate -- sufficient cause by itself to do more than verbally chastise a person. And that will itself likely do little to help. Unless you can find evidence of evil deeds that have gone unpunished, you will do well to leave the matter alone.

Take from that, this lesson: Your awareness of the presence of evil is a warning, not damning evidence. Treat it as you do your other senses and support it with sound reason.

Of obedience and the law of the land (No, you don't breach the code by wearing a hat of an illegal colour while passing through the Duchy of Frivolia.)

Our fight is not against evil alone, however, and you will go astray if you fail to also uphold the law. Does this mean that you must obey every jot and scruple of the law of the land wherein you find yourself? No -- but you should strive to do so regardless.

The code is the heart of your law. But if the code itself is an imperfect expression of universal righteousness, how much more will the law of the land be imperfect, when it may be written by fools or tyrants? Seek for the heart of justice that underlies the law, and remember that where the written word departs irreconcileably from just governance, it is no longer truly a law.

Nonetheless, we are called to respect the authorities, so unless their injustice makes it impossible to do so in good conscience, endeavour to obey their laws. If you were to flout the law in the sight of others, even if you knew you were justified before God in doing so, others who do not know or hold your principles will be led astray by your actions. For their sake, obey law and uphold tradition.

I shall stress this theme on a particular point: the use of poison. The ethics of poison are oft-debated, and it must be conceded that there are times when it would be permissible for us to use it for good and just purposes. However, because of the stigma attached to poison's use, it remains proscribed in the codes of most paladins, lest those lacking our scruples should feel free to use it at whim, thinking they follow our example.

And likewise, concealing the truth -- if not, on occasion, outright lying -- is often all but necessary to prevent harm coming to others. But something of upholding the truth is said by most paladins' codes, because failing to uphold the truth will often lead to deeper and more subtle harms. But this is such an occasion as I described, where you may struggle and fail to see the righteous path between practicing deception, and giving power to your foes. Do no evil.

That is enough of a lesson for this morning. Go, attend to your midday meal, and discuss among yourselves what you have heard here. I pray you shall find some small kernel of wisdom in these words.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-02-08, 12:32 PM
You know, I've been looking for something I can hand players who choose to play Paladins in my games so that they understand what I expect from them and gives them a rough estimate of the sort of behavior which will and will not be tolerated. You have nailed that, sir.

This piece deserves applause, but unfortunately I don't quite have the equipment to record my hands clapping.

Duke of URL
2007-02-08, 12:49 PM
Other than failing to include directions on how to insert a giant stick up their posteriors, this is one seriously awesome piece of work. :cool:

Toric
2007-02-08, 01:22 PM
This is an awesome guideline for Paladins to follow as opposed to the vague, bare-bones description in the PHB. Back when I played a paladin there were a few times that I was better off pretending to be mute because I was (according to interpretation) unconditionally obligated to tell no lies and break no laws, even when in that particular case I didn't know what the law of the particular land was; this makes following the code so much easier. Great job on making such a good description of the Paladin code that's such a good read.:smallsmile:

elliott20
2007-02-08, 01:45 PM
a brilliant interpretation and one that I will keep for a rainy day when somebody I know plays a paladin.

Kalir
2007-02-08, 01:58 PM
Only gripe I have is the references to God, but that seems to be more a placeholder than an actual reference. Well done, hopefully this will help us cut down on Mikos.

elliott20
2007-02-08, 02:21 PM
what I like most about this entire bit is that it is nested within the context of a setting. It makes the rhetoric far more believable and far more compelling than just a flat discussion.

Roderick_BR
2007-02-08, 03:05 PM
Very well said. That's what many players (and a lot of DMs) should learn about paladins. People that belittles paladins for their codes, and DM's that plays "divine sargent" could learn something from this.
Truth is that a lot of players and DMs despise any Lawful aligned character, and forgets that paladins need to be Lawful and GOOD.

@Kalir: Paladins are supposed to be holy warriors, blessed by the gods. If you don't talk about the gods in a paladin thread, it may look kinda empty. Specially when one of the topics is how to *don't* use the proverbial stick for being a "choosen one".

Kalir
2007-02-08, 05:30 PM
Paladins are supposed to be holy warriors, blessed by the gods. If you don't talk about the gods in a paladin thread, it may look kinda empty. Specially when one of the topics is how to *don't* use the proverbial stick for being a "choosen one".

I got that, but I was just pointing out that referring to the Christian "God" (as both name and designation) may have been a bad idea, but as a placeholder it works quite well.

Roderick_BR
2007-02-08, 06:45 PM
I got that, but I was just pointing out that referring to the Christian "God" (as both name and designation) may have been a bad idea, but as a placeholder it works quite well.
Oh, I got it. Hmm... maybe if he downcap God to god, or the more used "deity", it wouldn't sound so specific.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-08, 07:06 PM
Good - but I would like to stress one point: "You are sworn to uphold the laws of over and above those of any Earthly master. Any human rule or law that conflicts with this duty must be utterly disregarded."

A paladin is first and foremost a holy warrior in service to their deity, and they are the champions and upholders of divine authority - the strong right arm not just of the church militant, but of the deity itself. Their priorities should thus be those of their deity.

Their bond with their deity is not just central to their life, it [i]is their life.

Peregrine
2007-02-08, 11:27 PM
Other than failing to include directions on how to insert a giant stick up their posteriors, this is one seriously awesome piece of work. :cool:

Well, the idea was that they shouldn't need the stick... :smallwink:


Only gripe I have is the references to God, but that seems to be more a placeholder than an actual reference.

Yes, it is. The word 'God', even capitalised, doesn't (to me) have to mean the Christian God, especially within a fantasy setting. I just didn't like how it sounded if I used more generic terms: 'your god', 'the gods', 'the deity'. It lacked punch; it sounded like 'any old god will do'. Even in a polytheistic setting, I think paladins (and clerics, and any other devotedly religious character) should have essentially the same ways of referring to their god as real religious people do. Also...


what I like most about this entire bit is that it is nested within the context of a setting. It makes the rhetoric far more believable and far more compelling than just a flat discussion.

...I was trying to do that, put it in the context of 'a setting', without getting setting-specific at all. So I couldn't say 'Pelor' every time I used 'God'.

Basically, I wanted to convey that this here bunch of paladins is dedicated to a god, their God, even if others exist in the setting. Any resemblances to the Christian God... would be a breach of forum rules for me to delve into. :smalltongue:


Very well said. That's what many players (and a lot of DMs) should learn about paladins. People that belittles paladins for their codes, and DM's that plays "divine sargent" could learn something from this.
Truth is that a lot of players and DMs despise any Lawful aligned character, and forgets that paladins need to be Lawful and GOOD.

Yeah, this was meant to be as much for DMs who choke players with the paladin code as for players who do it to themselves. The section about 'discuss your code with a mentor, especially if you've come to us from far away' was code for 'talk it over with your DM, especially if there are setting-specific things involved'. :smallwink:


Good - but I would like to stress one point: "You are sworn to uphold the laws of [Insert deity here] over and above those of any Earthly master. Any human rule or law that conflicts with this duty must be utterly disregarded."

That's not how I'd phrase it (not "utterly disregarded"), but you have a good point. I suppose in my defence I can say again that I was trying to be general, so I couldn't delve too much into what happens with deity-specific laws that are binding in addition to the idea of 'be righteous' that underlies the code. But I could put in at least one line saying that you have to uphold them as well, without going into what they might be.

Thanks for your feedback, everyone! It's nice to see it so generally positive... :smallredface:

Matthew
2007-02-09, 11:04 AM
I don't know why people seem to confuse Paladins with Clerics so much. Paladins are generally secular figues, extremely pious, but secular nonetheless. They certainly don't have to serve any particular deity or be part of an organisation of any kind, let alone take monastic type vows.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great write up, but to me it is more directly suitable guidelines for Lawful Good Clerics. Paladins would almost certainly abide by these instructions, but the context seems off to me.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 11:48 AM
Matthew...

Paladins gain their powers directly from the deity they worship and are pretty much defined as holy warriors. There's nothing secular about them. If there were, they could hardly lose their powers by transgressing against their codes, could they?

Matthew
2007-02-09, 12:15 PM
They are entirely secular. They don't receive their powers from a specific deity unless that is the fluff you choose to use, unless the fluff description has changed in the transition from 3.0 to 3.5 (As far as I can tell it hasn't).
As far as I can see a Paladin is a Roland, Galahad or Lancelot (now there's a fallen Paladin). They are the best of secular Knighthood (or whatever warrior class) and they often become Clerics, but they certainly don't have to be ordained. Joan of Arc is probably another example. They are certainly pious, but they don't have to be members of the clergy.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 12:30 PM
They at least get their powers from some divine source. If they did not, those powers would not vanish if they transgressed. The possibility of falling implies the existence of one or more judges.

They cannot be secular.

Matthew
2007-02-09, 12:59 PM
They may get their powers from a Divine source, but you are misunderstanding the meaning of secular. Secular means to not be ordained as a member of the clergy or as a monk. Paladins are not necessarily members of the clergy or monks. Therefore, they are secular. It's perfectly possible for someone to not be a member of a religious group and receive divine power. All it means is that either a deity favours that individual or that his commitment to an ideal or cause is so powerful that he derives divine power from it (i.e. is favoured by some sort of divine force).

I strongly recommend you reread the Paladin and Cleric (as even these do not need to be ordained) fluff in the PHB.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 01:08 PM
I checked dictionary.com to be sure, and this is the definition it gives (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Secular)

It's possible you & I are simply looking at paladins in too different a way to agree, but I'd say that definition certainly proves paladins cannot be secular. As holy warriors, they are absolutely connected to the religious, spiritual or sacred. They draw their powers from one or more divine sources, and you can't get much more sacred than deities :)

Green Bean
2007-02-09, 01:14 PM
Amazing. This shuld be required reading

Matthew
2007-02-09, 01:21 PM
I checked dictionary.com to be sure, and this is the definition it gives (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Secular)

It's possible you & I are simply looking at paladins in too different a way to agree, but I'd say that definition certainly proves paladins cannot be secular. As holy warriors, they are absolutely connected to the religious, spiritual or sacred. They draw their powers from one or more divine sources, and you can't get much more sacred than deities :)

The thing is, Paladins are not described as Holy Warrior in the PHB. If they were, it would be a different story.

Those are actually eight different definitions for the use of that word, not a single definition. The one that applies is layperson.

I am not saying Paladins cannot be ordained, but I am saying they don't have to be.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 01:31 PM
Matthew...

Every paladin draws their power from one or more divine sources. Doesn't that make them holy warriors by definition?

Matthew
2007-02-09, 01:50 PM
Well, that is a complex issue. The basic answer is no. Being protected by divine power (from whatever source) and having your prayers answered is not necessarily evidence of being Holy or Sacred, but then that depends on your definition of these terms.

The point, though, is that Paladins do not have to be aligned with any specific church and they are not described as being ordained (unlike the Cleric who is singled out as being 'usually' ordained).

Paladins do not need to be members of any specific religion or order within a religion. Being righteous is enough. Many Paladins may eventually become ordained, but that is a different matter.

It's a very complex issue because the idea of a Paladin is rooted in real world religion, which is a subject that cannot be discussed. In general terms, the Paladin has not made any vows to a deity. He follows a very strict code of conduct, but unless inducted into a religious order, he remains a member of the laity.

Paladins are 'perfect' members of the laity. They are not bound by Clerical or Monastic regulations, though they may choose to become so.

Peregrine
2007-02-09, 01:51 PM
Matthew, your arguments equivocate on the meaning of 'secular'. Two definitions apply: 'not an ordained clergyperson', and 'not concerned with deity or religion'.

You state (correctly) that a paladin is secular, definition A. You then argue that they don't draw power from a god, or even need to serve a god at all, because they're secular -- but that would be secular, definition B.

Paladins get divine spells, divine grace, divine health, cleric-like class features... they are affiliated with 'divinity', whatever that means in a particular setting, and thus they are not definition-B secular, even if they are not ordained clergy.

Matthew
2007-02-09, 01:54 PM
Paladins are secular in the sense of not ordained. They generally have a strong interest in religion, but they do not need to support any single religion or number of religions to receive their powers.

They do not need to draw their powers from any single or group of divinities any more than a Cleric does. Indeed, prayer is quite optional for both, as meditation will apparently suffice.

Secular definition B has two clauses: deities or religion. I am arguing a Paladin does not need to be concerned with deities to receive his power, but that does not prohibit spirituality or concern with religion.

Peregrine
2007-02-09, 02:02 PM
Okay, I can't stand the 'cleric of a cause' clause (say that five times fast), but I'll leave that aside for a moment. To my understanding, it's only there at all so that people can play clerics without having to roleplay the trappings of religion, if for some reason they don't want to.

However. This does not, to my mind, cause the cleric to become definition-B secular. (A cleric is of course never definition-A secular.) It merely broadens the idea of what it means to be of or related to deity, divinity or religion. If your adherence to and belief in an alignment is enough for you to manifest 'divine' spellcasting powers, then there is something 'divine' about such adherence; therefore any character who adheres to a 'cause' is no more secular (def-B) than one who adheres to a religion.

Thus, paladins are not secular (def-B).

Matthew
2007-02-09, 02:08 PM
Actually, reread the PHB fluff with Clerics. They don't have to be ordained. The reason Clerics can be 'of a cause' is to allow faiths that don't have Deities, such as that presented in Al-Qadim, in my view.

Paladins are certainly not definition B secular (i.e. in the sense of uninterested in religion), but that is not really the issue. Paladins receive divine protection, aid and spells. The source of that power is Divine (in the D&D sense of Arcane and Divine). It does not follow that Paladins receive that power from a Deity or group of Deities, unless that is the only way such power can be granted in a given campaign world. Divinities (in D&D) acquire Divine power themselves, they are not actually the font of divine power. There are (for instance) limits to what they can do.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 02:11 PM
It is absolutely possible within the rules to create a cleric or paladin who has no deity, no religion and yet can somehow use divine magics and divinely gifted powers. I've yet to meet any GM who allowed it, though. It simply makes no sense that an ordinary person can somehow gain access to divinely gifted powers without any deity being in any way involved. If it's that easy, there's no reason not to allow wizards to research mage versions of clerical spells, and that's a thing no GM wants, I'm sure.

Nonetheless, to get back to paladins: the vast majority will be holy warriors who draw their powers from one or more deities. Can we at least agree on that? So while there may be a tiny minority who are secular, the majority will not be?

***

Edit: I suspect the real reason 'non-deitic' clerics and paladins exist in the game is to allow genuinely religious people in real life to play clerics & paladins without any possible qualms. This is however pure speculation on my part.

Peregrine
2007-02-09, 02:22 PM
Actually, reread the PHB fluff with Clerics. They don't have to be ordained.

I know, but this is playing fast and loose with the definition of the word 'cleric'! :smallannoyed:


Paladins are certainly not definition B secular (i.e. in the sense of uninterested in religion), but that is not really the issue.

Well, I was of the impression you were saying they could be... although I should note that I didn't mean 'concerned with' as in 'interested in'. I meant it as 'of or related to'.


Paladins receive divine protection, aid and spells. The source of that power is Divine (in the D&D sense of Arcane and Divine). It does not follow that Paladins receive that power from a Deity or group of Deities, unless that is the only way such power can be granted in a given campaign world. Divinities (in D&D) acquire Divine power themselves, they are not actually the font of divine power. There are (for instance) limits to what they can do.

Oh good grief. The worst part of this is that you're technically right, but surely you can see that this is absurd?

-- But I'm not going to let myself get all tangential on the matter of first causes. Your assertion that paladins may be 'divine' but not 'serving a deity' (as described in my post) is noted, accepted, and then politely overlooked. :smallsmile: Elliot stated the reason why:


Nonetheless, to get back to paladins: the vast majority will be holy warriors who draw their powers from one or more deities. Can we at least agree on that? So while there may be a tiny minority who are secular, the majority will not be?

Indeed. Most paladins do in fact draw their power from serving a deity. Therefore I wrote my post with such paladins in mind.

Matthew
2007-02-09, 02:22 PM
Well, a Paladin or Cleric must have a belief system of some sort in order to derive spells by way of meditation. Both are certainly concerned with spirituality. It wouldn't actually be much of a big deal for Wizards to research Cleric Spells, the other way round would be the problem!

I would agree that most played Paladins do tend to support a religion. The PHB, though, says that "Paladins need not devote themselves to a single deity. Devotion to righteousness is enough for most", so I would have to conclude that in core D&D, most Paladins do not support any one Deity (The huge exception to this is the Forgotten Realms).

The point, though, is that serving one God does not mean ordained. A Paladin may become ordained, but that is not the same thing as supporting or being supported by a particular divinity. So, Paladins are, by and large, secular figures.

Whilst unordained Clerics does sound odd, it actually is not too silly, being as it allows for the non-secular unordained (i.e. men who would have been ordained, but who for whatever reason have not been, typically loners, savages or frontier men).

Technically correct is the "best kind of correct" to paraphrase a certain fictional character.

To be clear, though, I am not opposed at all to Paladins serving a Deity or being ordained. I just thought I had better point out that they don't have to be and the PHB implies that most are not.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 02:56 PM
I would say that the vast majority of players & GMs fly right in the face of the PHB, thus proving it to be completely in error.

I have never seen a paladin or cleric played who did not worship and draw power from a specific deity, and every GM I have ever known has disallowed non-religious paladins & clerics. Maybe it's just my area of England like that, and the rest of the world happily embraces the concept, but I doubt it.

This is not to attack you in any way, Matthew - I want to be very clear on that. My absolute disagreement is with the PHB, and however much I may disagree with you I absolutely respect your right to your opinion.

Technically, you are correct that according to the official rules a cleric or paladin can have no religion and be utterly secular. In practise, I really can't see many GMs allowing it.

Matthew
2007-02-09, 03:24 PM
Absolutely, I think the most commonly played Cleric and Paladin are devotees of a particular Deity or group of Deities and that mostly the view of the Paladin is of an ordained member of some sort of Military Order. That's why people see so much overlap between the two Base Classes, which sometimes causes considerable confusion.

For my part, the last Paladin I played was in the Forgotten Realms and he was a follower of Tyr, Torm, Ilmater and the Red Knight. He was, however, simply a pious secular Knight.

The ultimate source of Divine Power is the problem, as D&D gives no indication of what this may be (unless it is Ao!). In the Planescape setting this is an even more interesting problem.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-09, 03:26 PM
We can completely agree there, I think :)

And... I honestly can't remember the last paladin I played. I know I have played them but it was long ago. My last cleric served Mishakal, the Krynn goddess of Healing.

knightsaline
2007-02-09, 09:56 PM
Has everyone forgotten the other divine caster, the druid? they may not worship a god and receive power from them, but they gain power from a neutral source described as "nature". paladins can be of a cause and draw power from their belief in that cause. they may pay lip service to a god that shares their belief in that cause (example, Syreth (god from Cwar) beleves in protecting those who are in need of protection. Delasp the paladin is the protector of a village that needs protecting from orcs. Delasp pays tribute to Syreth after each battle to thank him for guiding his blades. Delasp is not an ordained member of Syreth, nor does he protect in the name of Syreth.) though the paladin prays to a god before a battle, they do not draw power from that god. the source of that paladins power may even be that god that they pray to, yet the paladin may be able to do things that the ordained members of that god could not do without severe repercussions from those higher up in the church or would take to long to go into action.

disecct this as you like, its just one persons point of view on a topic.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 03:24 AM
Generally speaking, every pantheon has a deity who embodies Nature somewhere and who would doubtless empower the local druids.

Renegade Paladin
2007-02-10, 06:27 AM
This depends entirely upon setting. In the Forgotten Realms, you cannot play a secular paladin. Or druid, for that matter. And if you play a secular ranger, you don't get your spells.

You have to worship a deity to get divine powers in Faerun. That's the long and short of it. Greyhawk is another story, but I seriously find that the cleric-without-a-god thing stretches the bounds of credibility... not to mention makes an already overpowered class broken beyond belief as it lets you pick and choose pretty much whatever domains you want.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 06:50 AM
Yes, we did note that Faerun is an exception, but we are talking about in the context of default core (i.e. Grey Hawk or something like it...)

I think Knightsaline makes a good point about Druids. The PHB fluff says ""Druids cast spells much the same way clerics do, though most get their spells from the power of nature, not from deities" and "Druids revere nature and gain their magical power from the forces of nature itself or from a nature deity. They usually pursue a mystic spirituality of transcendent union with nature rather than devotion to a divine entity."

Exactly how "nature" is able to grant Divine Spells is unclear, but goes back to the 'ultimate source of divine power' problem. I wonder wat the Planar Hand Book has to say? I think I had better go and have another read of Deities and Demi Gods, I remember there being considerable discussion of the possibilities in that.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 11:45 AM
Last time I looked, Forgotten Realms was the default world for D&D, or have they changed it?

I can absolutely see 'godless clerics' in Ravenloft, because the Dark Powers would love the chance to just hand out power like sweets to anyone who would accept it from them :D So in Ravenloft, I'll grant it make sense... sort of... But not anywhere else.

I'm very puzzled about one thing, though: how can a 'godless paladin' ever fall? There's no-one and nothing to take the power away.

It seems to me the PHB loves using the word 'most' when it means 'almost none' :D If you have a deity who embodies nature and/or the world, then drawing on nature IS drawing on the deity.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 12:12 PM
No, Grey Hawk is the default Campaign World, that's why the PHB Deities are Grey Hawk ones. It has always been Grey Hawk, but it is an easy mistake to make.

A Paladin falls when he breaks one of the rules of his code. It doesn't require any judgement on the part of a divine being, apparently.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 12:36 PM
'Always' is a bit strong. It certainly wasn't so in 2nd ed AD&D, nor for much of 1st. That said, I'm more than happy to accept it is now :)

I'm still puzzled how a Paladin with no deity could ever fall, though. Something must pass judgement on his actions somehow in order to invoke the penalty.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 12:42 PM
*Laughs*

Yes, I didn't mean in previous editions, I meant in 3.0 and 3.5!

As I understand it, the Paladin himself passes judgement, having lost his conviction.

sun_tzu
2007-02-10, 12:43 PM
Ignoring the discussion that ensured...
Excellent piece. Applause for the author!

Piedmon_Sama
2007-02-10, 01:06 PM
I demand my right to play a nihilist cleric!

"Ve are nihilists! Ve believes in nosink, Lebowski!"

Renegade Paladin
2007-02-10, 02:01 PM
*Laughs*

Yes, I didn't mean in previous editions, I meant in 3.0 and 3.5!

As I understand it, the Paladin himself passes judgement, having lost his conviction.
And what if he hasn't? If that were true, Miko would not fall because she believed herself to be entirely in the right.

The trouble with that is the fact that in D&D alignment is objective. Making it up the the paladin puts the objective fact of alignment and evil acts into the subjective judgment of the paladin, or worse, the paladin's player.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 02:51 PM
Miko and Order of the Stick are not exact representations of D&D. Clearly Miko lost her powers at the behest of her Deities.

A Paladin committed to a cause, as best as I can tell, would fall because he no longer believed in the code of that cause.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 02:53 PM
And what if he hasn't? If that were true, Miko would not fall because she believed herself to be entirely in the right.

The trouble with that is the fact that in D&D alignment is objective. Making it up the the paladin puts the objective fact of alignment and evil acts into the subjective judgment of the paladin, or worse, the paladin's player.

That's what I think, too. If the Paladin himself believes he is still absolutely righteous, he'd keep his powers if it's down to him to decide. You could end up with evil Paladins that way.

Conversely, a truly good Paladin who thought he had done something bad when he hadn't would lose his powers.

The whole matter becomes one of the Paladin's belief in himself.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 03:20 PM
Apparently, it's not enough for one person to believe (according to Deities and Demi Gods) it has to be (an indeterminate) number. I will dig up the quote when I get the chance...

sun_tzu
2007-02-10, 03:37 PM
That's what I think, too. If the Paladin himself believes he is still absolutely righteous, he'd keep his powers if it's down to him to decide. You could end up with evil Paladins that way.

Conversely, a truly good Paladin who thought he had done something bad when he hadn't would lose his powers.

The whole matter becomes one of the Paladin's belief in himself.


But to what extent does self-deception count? Miko's beliefs stemmed, in large part, from her own hubris. Another paladin, given access to the same information as her, probably wouldn't have ended up believing Shojo was evil and had to be killed. Miko's own pride, her refusal to reconsider her own conclusions, and her hatred of the OOTS led her to make illogical conclusions. So, she may have "believed" she was righteous, but that belief itself was dishonest.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 03:51 PM
Here we go:

3.0 Deities and Demi Gods, p. 9.


Forces and Philosophies
Not all cleric powers come from deities. In some campaigns, philosophers hold enough conviction in their ideas about the universe that they gain magical power from that conviction. In others, impersonal forces of nature or magic that grant power to mortals who are attuned to them may replace the gods. In the D&D rules, druids and rangers can gain their spell ability from the force of nature itself, rather than from a specific nature deity, and some clerics also devote themselves to ideals rather than to a deity. Paladins may serve a philosophy of justice and chivalry rather than a specific deity.
By their nature, forces and philosophies are not worshipped they are not beings that can hear and respond to prayers or accept sacrifices. Devotion to a philosophy or a force is not necessarily exclusive of service to a deity. A person can be devoted to the philosophy of good and, as a result, offer worship to various good deities, or revere the force of nature and also pay service to the gods of nature, who might be seen as personal manifestations of the impersonal force. Few philosophies in a fantasy world deny the existence of deities, although a common philosophical belief states that the deities are more like mortals than they would have mortals believe. According to such philosophies, the gods are not truly immortal (just very long lived) and humans may be quite able to attain divinity themselves. In fact, ascending to godhood is the ultimate goal of some philosophies.
Generally, the power of a philosophy comes from the belief that mortals invest in it. A philosophy that only one person believes in is not strong enough to bestow magical powers on that person. A force, on the other hand, can have power apart from the belief in it or even apart from the existence of mortals.


Not exactly core, but as near to as I can find.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 04:03 PM
But to what extent does self-deception count? Miko's beliefs stemmed, in large part, from her own hubris. Another paladin, given access to the same information as her, probably wouldn't have ended up believing Shojo was evil and had to be killed. Miko's own pride, her refusal to reconsider her own conclusions, and her hatred of the OOTS led her to make illogical conclusions. So, she may have "believed" she was righteous, but that belief itself was dishonest.

My point exactly :)

Left to her own beliefs, Miko would still be a Paladin because she is utterly convinced of her own righteousness.

***

Matthew...

Good quote, but it does not answer how a Paladin can lose their powers if there is no deity passing judgement on their actions.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 04:30 PM
No explicit answers, that's for sure, but a good indication that it is a failure of conviction in a philosophy or force that results in the loss of powers [i.e. by taking an evil or code breaking action the Paladin has a failure of conviction and so loses his powers that come from that conviction]

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 04:47 PM
But if his conviction that he is doing the right thing is total, that means he should not fall... So evil Paladins would thus become possible.

As I have noted before - the rule that enables godless clerics & paladins is, to put it mildly, bizarre.

On our own world, we could actually have Paladins of Communism or any other system that has attained the staus of a widely held belief...

I think in a deliberate comedy or farce it's a great idea, but not in any serious game :)

Matthew
2007-02-10, 05:13 PM
No, because the conviction of a Paladin to a cause is not relative, it is absolute and unwavering and not subject to change without consequence. The Paladin's individual conviction does not determine the code, rather it is the collective belief in the code, cause or force. If the Paladin departs from the conviction held by others of his Class, he loses his abilities, as the power is not derived from him personally, if you see what I mean. So, in the case of Miko, if she served a cause, it would be on account of the belief of the other paladins that she falls.
The Atonement (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/atonement.htm) Spell provides a quite interesting point of reference. The difference between the entry for the Paladin and the Cleric is quite striking.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 05:42 PM
Thanks for the link, Matthew :)

Reading the Atonement spell, it would appear that it can only be cast by a cleric or druid who worships a deity, which I find interesting.


The conviction of a Paladin is not relative, it is absolute and unwavering and not subject to change without consequence. It is also the case that the Paladin's individual conviction does not determine the code, rather it is the collective belief in the code, cause or force. If the Paladin departs from the conviction held by others of his Class, it ends, as the power is not derived from him personally, if you see what I mean.

The power would derive from collective belief, yes. But if the Paladin genuinely believes his convictions are unchanged and his codes unbroken, who is to say otherwise? 'Collective belief' is not sentient and cannot judge.

What powers the 'paladin of collective belief' is his conviction of the rightness of his cause resonating with all those other similar convictions. Yet no two people ever have exactly the same definitions of anything, as each of us interprets all stimuli, mental or otherwise, through our own perceptions. So the resonance cannot be absolutely exact.

If the paladin genuinely and completely believes his code and convictions are unchanged, the resonance is still there so he cannot fall. Only if his beliefs or codes change would the resonance cease, thus causing him to fall.

Thus a paladin may break his code either completely unknowingly or through self-delusion yet still remain a paladin - unless something is passing judgement.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 05:55 PM
Yes, I noticed that too.

I suppose the most important thing to remember is that it's a game mechanic and may not make sense. Even so, here's the way I see it in fluff terms with the Deities and Demi Gods passage in mind:

1. A Paladin who receives Divine protection, aid and Spells from a cause does so because of his inner commitment to that cause.

2. His commitment and belief empowers that cause, but he cannot provide enough power by his own belief alone to receive Divine aid.

3. It is a natural result of his absolute commitment that he is able to draw on that Divine force, indeed his commitment is the condition.

4. The cause is itself brought into being by the collective commitment of Paladins and believers, which provides the cause with Divine energy.

5. If a Paladin commits an evil action, changes alignment or transgresses against the code, he is no longer commited to same cause as the other believers (whose belief defines what commitment entails) and as a natural result loses his Divine empowerment.

So, in this case, it is not Divine judgement, but simply a natural result of no longer actually being commited to the same cause as the other believers.

knightsaline
2007-02-10, 06:27 PM
Paladins may not consciously believe in a deity, but they may receive power from that deity anyway because it furthers their purposes. Delasp (the paladin used in my example) may not consciously believe in syreth, yet holds the same ideals as syreth, even leaving offerings at one of syreths temples before setting out to protect a village. syreth may grant delasp his divine paladin powers because it furthers his cause of protection of the weak and oppressed.

if you were playing an anti-paladin, the LE diety may just grant the anti-paladin his powers because it amuses him, much like the nine tailed fox paying rent for being in naruto's body, he does it because it amuses him.

Falling and the paladin of a cause; If the paladin of a cause betrays the cause willingly, the diety that the paladin shares his beliefs revokes his powers and the fallen paladin has to find out which god revoked his powers and gain atonement from one of their clergy.

Matthew
2007-02-10, 06:41 PM
Sure, that's one possibility, but we have already seen that a Paladin of a Cause can operate entirely independently of a Deity. The question is how does he then fall? What I am proposing (with reference to the Deities and Demi Gods passage) is that a Paladin who betrays the cause can no longer access Divine power because he is no longer capable (i.e. not in the right frame of mind / spirit, whatever).

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 06:41 PM
Yes, I noticed that too.

I suppose the most important thing to remember is that it's a game mechanic and may not make sense. Even so, here's the way I see it in fluff terms with the Deities and Demi Gods passage in mind:

1. A Paladin who receives Divine protection, aid and Spells from a cause does so because of his inner commitment to that cause.

2. His commitment and belief empowers that cause, but he cannot provide enough power by his own belief alone to receive Divine aid.

3. It is a natural result of his absolute commitment that he is able to draw on that Divine force, indeed his commitment is the condition.

4. The cause is itself brought into being by the collective commitment of Paladins and believers, which provides the cause with Divine energy.

5. If a Paladin commits an evil action, changes alignment or transgresses against the code, he is no longer commited to same cause as the other believers (whose belief defines what commitment entails) and as a natural result loses his Divine empowerment.

So, in this case, it is not Divine judgement, but simply a natural result of no longer actually being commited to the same cause as the other believers.

I think the logic breaks down at point 5.

Like you say, though, it's a game mechanic and I think it is probably there to either allow real life followers of a faith to play characters without qualms or to avoid all the old accusations of "RPGs = devil worship" that were far too widespread at one time amongst the seriously uninformed.

It thus makes sense for out of game reasons, but never for IN game reasons.

***

I like Knightsaline's idea of deities choosing champions without ever telling the champions, I must admit. That definitely works for both clerics & paladins, and would doubtless appeal to any deity with a sense of humour - or one who had a mission their regular followers would be unsuited for.

It's also a good way of getting things done with 'plausible deniability' if you are part of a pantheon who might object to you doing certain things...

A cleric or paladin unknowingly drawing power from a deity and believing they are simply inspired by their ideals is definitely an amusing idea :)

Matthew
2007-02-10, 06:45 PM
I dunno, it doesn't seem illogical to me. For instance, if a Paladin is getting his Spells by meditation, but can no longer attain the required state of mind / psyche to access the Divine Power of the cause. That would apply to all Divine type Paladin abilities, since he is no longer attuned to the Cause, regardless of what he thinks the Cause is now.

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 07:01 PM
I dunno, it doesn't seem illogical to me. For instance, if a Paladin is getting his Spells by meditation, but can no longer attain the required state of mind / psyche to access the Divine Power of the cause. That would apply to all Divine type Paladin abilities, since he is no longer attuned to the Cause, regardless of what he thinks the Cause is now.

But why not? If his belief is unchanged, his belief in the codes is unchanged and he believes with all his being that what he did was right, what would prevent him?

Matthew
2007-02-10, 07:09 PM
I would argue he just thinks his belief is unchanged. In actual fact, his beliefs have undergone a shift.

That doesn't explain involuntary acts of evil, but I'm not sure if they kept those in 3.5. If so, then guilt would be my reason.

coldshiftdown
2007-02-10, 07:35 PM
Technically, you are correct that according to the official rules a cleric or paladin can have no religion and be utterly secular. In practise, I really can't see many GMs allowing it.

well you must have some mighty stiff DM's.

the PHB states a paladin does not have to specificly worship a deity, many bits of the "fluff" leads one to believe they would. "Divine power protects the paladin and gives her special powers." divine usualy refers to a deity(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/divine). but others seem to oppose this. "All paladins, regardless of background, recognize in each other an eternal bond that transcends culture, race, and even religion.

in closing. most of the gamers i know, and that is quite a bit, see most paladins as church members, but it realy depends totaly on the setting(therefore DM).

Elliot Kane
2007-02-10, 07:42 PM
It's been very interesting, but I don't think anyone is about to be convinced of the other side's view - and I'm honestly out of anything new to add :)

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on the absurdity or otherwise of 'ungodly clergy'.

Thanks everyone - it's been an enjoyable discussion :)

Matthew
2007-02-10, 08:05 PM
Fair enough. I enjoyed it too.

knightsaline
2007-02-10, 08:16 PM
I enjoyed it as well. my next character will be called Delasp in tribute. may his blades taste the blood of 1000 orcs! Glory to Syreth!