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Lord
2019-03-13, 07:01 PM
So I've come up with an interesting dilemma.
Basically, you have a dark fantasy world. The setting is an ongoing war between three western style kingdoms and a massive eastern style culture who were taken over by a powerful demon. Said demon is worshipped as a god and uses crucifixion as a death penalty for even small crimes, on the theory that it will deter people from committing any crime. Since he has eyes watching people at all times, he almost always finds out about crimes. That said, he makes a virtue of pragmatism, is reasonable and upholds his end of any bargains that are made.
Meanwhile, the western style kingdoms are more chaotic, with many feuding lords. However, there are plenty of perfectly good people in it, and many benevolent nobles as well as wicked ones. Their patron god is a god of healing who believes that revenge is a virtue, a goddess of the wilds who hates all humanoids equally, and a god of travel and trade who is a pretty swell guy.
Now in this setting, you have a paladin from the western kingdoms. He has a childhood friend he grew up with who is about three years older than him. Both of them trained to be knights together and are close friends. However, his friend left to join the war against a nation led by a powerful demon. Years later, after the paladin has grown up and become an accomplished warrior, they reunite and are quick to resume their friendship. This is perfectly acceptable, even beneficial since their families are very close.
There is a problem though. The paladin figures out after a bit that his friend's alignment has shifted from neutral good to chaotic evil.
Basically what happened is that she was never a very stable person, to begin with. And she ended up under the command of a psychotic general who forced his men to commit atrocities. In the process of following orders, she had a mental breakdown and got a taste for it. She proceeded to participate in a series of raids and become completely axe crazy.
But, and here is the crux of the issue, the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society. The paladin finds her actions distasteful, but rape and murder are just part of war in this world. This is a dark ages style world with a much lower standard of morality. As a result, he doesn't have the same horror at her actions that we in the modern day have, though he does want them to stop. He also believes that her actions will result in an early grave for her, and possibly her damnation.
Further complicating things is that his friend still holds him in affection. She actively goes out of her way to rescue him when he gets in over his head at several points and is generally a good boss to her subordinates. She just so happens to be a benevolent war leader who lives for carnage. Her wicked deeds only have the enemy nation as a victim, whom she regards much like D&D regards orcs. Faceless monsters whose destruction are a good act.
Since her evil deeds are just considered the cost of doing business in war, there is no direct legal means to shut her down. According to the law, she has done nothing wrong, and the warrior culture practically encourages her raids, if not her atrocities.
So, bearing all this in mind, what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-13, 07:22 PM
There's some viable options.

1) Spend some time with her in earnest discussion and try to correct her wayward ways through reason and compassion. Start nice and go harder over time it's not getting through to her.

2) Decide that, although monstrous, this is not a priority for him. Go elsewhere in the world and find good to do there instead.

3) Execute her for her crimes against morality, if not law, extrajudicially. She is an unrepentant monster and deserves death for her sins. If the system cannot or will not deal with her, then it falls on the paladin to see justice done in their stead.

What he can't do is continue to offer her aid in any way or do anything that could be construed as support for either her or her position.

Lord
2019-03-13, 07:40 PM
There's some viable options.

1) Spend some time with her in earnest discussion and try to correct her wayward ways through reason and compassion. Start nice and go harder over time it's not getting through to her.

2) Decide that, although monstrous, this is not a priority for him. Go elsewhere in the world and find good to do there instead.

3) Execute her for her crimes against morality, if not law, extrajudicially. She is an unrepentant monster and deserves death for her sins. If the system cannot or will not deal with her, then it falls on the paladin to see justice done in their stead.

What he can't do is continue to offer her aid in any way or do anything that could be construed as support for either her or her position.

1} Was my assessment of the best course of action. Of course, it might not work.

2} Sounds like a decent idea. Although it could be argued it is washing his hands of the situation rather than resolving it.

3} Congratulations, you've just condemned to death every single adventurer who ever destroyed a nest of orcs. Also, you have started a blood feud between the paladin's family where once there was a genuine friendship. So there is going to be even more blood and death with plenty of rape and pillage to go around. And the Dark God you are fighting is going to take full advantage of said infighting.
Plus, you've destroyed the reputation of your family. And there are problems dozens of other people just like her who won't stop what they are doing. Not to mention the lingering guilt of killing your oldest friend for what amounts to empty principle. Plus you aren't going to be able to do much knight errantry when you're a wanted outlaw who killed an upstanding citizen.
Or maybe you could keep things quiet.
You know, go with her on a mission and stab her in the back. You could just say the orcs did it. Nobody would ever know. Nobody.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-13, 07:47 PM
3} Congratulations, you've just condemned to death every single adventurer who ever destroyed a nest of orcs.

Killing orcs is not evil. Raping and torturing orcs to death is evil and would call for the same retribution.


Also, you have started a blood feud between the paladin's family where once there was a genuine friendship. So there is going to be even more blood and death with plenty of rape and pillar to go around. And the Dark God you are fighting is going to take full advantage of said infighting.
Plus, you've destroyed the reputation of your family. And there are problems dozens of other people just like her who won't stop what they are doing. Not to mention the lingering guilt of killing your oldest friend for what amounts to empty principle. Plus you aren't going to be able to do much knight errantry when you're a wanted outlaw who killed an upstanding citizen.
Or maybe you could keep things quiet.

This is consequentialist morality. Paladins don't work like that. If she deserves death, it is always legitimate to kill her (provided that you have exhausted other options first). It genuinely doesn't matter if it will make the situation worse. A paladin can exercise restraint and try to utilize one of the other options instead, particularly deciding that there is no good way for him to solve this problem at the current time and focusing on something else instead. But deciding to deal with her regardless of the consequences doesn't make him a bad paladin. It may make him an unwise paladin, but not a bad one.


You know, go with her on a mission and stab her in the back. You could just say the orcs did it. Nobody would ever know. Nobody.

Nah you can't engage in that sort of cloak and dagger stuff. If you're going to kill her then you need to announce that you did it and why you did it.

Lord
2019-03-13, 08:00 PM
Killing orcs is not evil. Raping and torturing orcs to death is evil and would call for the same retribution.



This is consequentialist morality. Paladins don't work like that. If she deserves death, it is always legitimate to kill her (provided that you have exhausted other options first). It genuinely doesn't matter if it will make the situation worse. A paladin can exercise restraint and try to utilize one of the other options instead, particularly deciding that there is no good way for him to solve this problem at the current time and focusing on something else instead. But deciding to deal with her regardless of the consequences doesn't make him a bad paladin. It may make him an unwise paladin, but not a bad one.



Nah you can't engage in that sort of cloak and dagger stuff. If you're going to kill her then you need to announce that you did it and why you did it.

Paladins are servants of law and good. That doesn't mean they have to be stupid about it. Killing your oldest friend and ally out in the open and announcing why you did it will only serve to discredit those who maintain that the enemy have rights. It will create a cultural backlash against your entire movement. Thus doing far more harm than good.

Let us assume that the paladin has decided she must, for whatever reason, be removed. Permanently.

Does it really matter how she dies? And if murdering her in public will create serious problems for good then surely a more subtle means would be preferable?

Now, personally, if I had to kill her, I would just find legal reason to challenge her to a duel. That would be perfectly legal, and unlikely to end in everything spiraling out of control. It would also give me a platform upon which to state my case, that the brutal treatment of prisoners of war and such should stop.

An idea just occurred to me.

You don't necessarily have to kill her. Religion is filled with examples of people who were divinely punished nonlethally for their sins. In this context, the friend, at the least, believes she is fighting a holy crusade. Much like the crusaders did. Saul of Tarsus infamously persecuted Christians before being set straight by a divine appearance.

In a world of divine magic, appealing directly to the god of healing whom she claims she is fighting might be a viable alternative. Maybe the start of some kind of redemption quest, I don't know.

redwizard007
2019-03-13, 08:08 PM
1} Was my assessment of the best course of action. Of course, it might not work.

2} Sounds like a decent idea. Although it could be argued it is washing his hands of the situation rather than resolving it.

3} Congratulations, you've just condemned to death every single adventurer who ever destroyed a nest of orcs. Also, you have started a blood feud between the paladin's family where once there was a genuine friendship. So there is going to be even more blood and death with plenty of rape and pillage to go around. And the Dark God you are fighting is going to take full advantage of said infighting.
Plus, you've destroyed the reputation of your family. And there are problems dozens of other people just like her who won't stop what they are doing. Not to mention the lingering guilt of killing your oldest friend for what amounts to empty principle. Plus you aren't going to be able to do much knight errantry when you're a wanted outlaw who killed an upstanding citizen.
Or maybe you could keep things quiet.
You know, go with her on a mission and stab her in the back. You could just say the orcs did it. Nobody would ever know. Nobody.

Congratulations, you just stumbled into a thread that should be titled "moral quagmire intended to shaft your player."

First, grimdark and paladin... Jesus Christ. Who thought that was a good idea? It's like playing a merfolk in Darksun. Get on the same page with your players. It's called session zero. Use it.

Second, I'm assuming you are playing one of the archaic, pre 5e games where alignment requirements are in play. Otherwise you wouldn't be having this problem. Just update your campaign to the 21st century and move on. There's an app for that.

Third, D&D is not designed as a gray morality game. Good is good. Evil is evil. While murder can be cloaked as "war" or "skirmishes," rape is always considered evil. So is torture. If you are going to change the basic philosophies that the cosmos is based on, then that will require adjustments to classes like Paladin, that traditionally are heavily invested in alignment.

Lord
2019-03-13, 08:19 PM
Congratulations, you just stumbled into a thread that should be titled "moral quagmire intended to shaft your player."

First, grimdark and paladin... Jesus Christ. Who thought that was a good idea? It's like playing a merfolk in Darksun. Get on the same page with your players. It's called session zero. Use it.

Second, I'm assuming you are playing one of the archaic, pre 5e games where alignment requirements are in play. Otherwise you wouldn't be having this problem. Just update your campaign to the 21st century and move on. There's an app for that.

Third, D&D is not designed as a gray morality game. Good is good. Evil is evil. While murder can be cloaked as "war" or "skirmishes," rape is always considered evil. So is torture. If you are going to change the basic philosophies that the cosmos is based on, then that will require adjustments to classes like Paladin, that traditionally are heavily invested in alignment.

This isn't based on a specific game. Rather it is a hypothetical situation designed to make people think about things and create a stimulating debate. If I were making a game, the only time a situation like this should crop up is if one of the players is evil. I chose the gaming section, since it concerns a D&D class.

Also it isn't grimdark. Grimdark is where everything is terrible and nothing can improve. This world is more Nobledark, being a very dark setting, but one where there is good that can and does triumph. It's just that it is a constant struggle and the good isn't all on one side. Even the Dark God I mentioned has some good aspects. He makes a virtue of pragmatism and virtually never does evil deeds unless they serve a productive purpose to his designs. Even his goal of world domination is vaguely well intentioned, in that he believes he'd do a better job than the disorderly gods. He goes out of his way to establish an orderly and relatively fair society {corruption is virtually nonexistent}, and he actually has a tax on income which goes to feeding the poor. After all, having a good reputation is a valuable asset.

Also, I would argue that a paladin in a Grimdark setting can make for a great story. So long as they are able to be morally flexible enough to survive, what could possibly be more heroic than a champion for good in a world where good seems to have utterly departed, who nevertheless continues to do the right thing anyway.

King of Nowhere
2019-03-13, 08:40 PM
Also, I would argue that a paladin in a Grimdark setting can make for a great story. So long as they are able to be morally flexible enough to survive,

here, I think this answers you.
You say that a paladin is not consequentialist in his morality, but I say that's too strong a stance. a paladin shuns the extremes of consequentialism, but that does not mean he will disregard the consequences of his actions. not only it's stupid, but it will quickly end up with paladins being exterminated because of their making everyone angry.
being a paladin is not about being a lawful stupid doormat. being a paladin is about helping people. and you're not helping anyone if you get yourself killed for no reason or uf you accidentally burn down a city in the process.

So, if that paladin believes the war is right, he may not make too much fuss about it. he may try the whole "talk person into redemption". He may stay around and try to reduce the atrocities. he may leave and try to do good elsewhere that does not conflict with his conscience. he may start a public campaign to persuade the army that pillage and rape should not be done.

there is also the fact that pillage and rape is extremely common in a gritty realistic setting. so why is the paladin taking this specific case so much at heart while most everyone is doing it? either the paladin executes the entire army, or he should not execute his friend but let other soldiers be.

Lord
2019-03-13, 08:46 PM
here, I think this answers you.
You say that a paladin is not consequentialist in his morality, but I say that's too strong a stance. a paladin shuns the extremes of consequentialism, but that does not mean he will disregard the consequences of his actions. not only it's stupid, but it will quickly end up with paladins being exterminated because of their making everyone angry.
being a paladin is not about being a lawful stupid doormat. being a paladin is about helping people. and you're not helping anyone if you get yourself killed for no reason or uf you accidentally burn down a city in the process.

So, if that paladin believes the war is right, he may not make too much fuss about it. he may try the whole "talk person into redemption". He may stay around and try to reduce the atrocities. he may leave and try to do good elsewhere that does not conflict with his conscience. he may start a public campaign to persuade the army that pillage and rape should not be done.

there is also the fact that pillage and rape is extremely common in a gritty realistic setting. so why is the paladin taking this specific case so much at heart while most everyone is doing it? either the paladin executes the entire army, or he should not execute his friend but let other soldiers be.

He's taking this particular case to heart because this is his oldest friend. And also because he believes her disturbed nature is just as unhealthy for her as it is for others. Her love of blood and death is a way of coping with the trauma of her experience, and it is gradually consuming her. Their friendship probably does have a stabilizing effect on her.

Basically it isn't so much her deeds, that sort of thing happens all the time. Rather it is him realizing that it is one of his oldest friends doing those deeds. Which, in turn, could make for a very good character arc. Having spent his life blinded to the excesses of the war, he is forced to confront them in the form of his oldest friend.

doctor doughnut
2019-03-13, 09:05 PM
Well, it does depend on what the paladins code is, of course.

You are on the right track by not thinking about 21st century western Earth way of thinking.

When your talking about say a ''13th'' ish or so century ANY place on Earth except the western part of the world...then you have a VERY different view of Good and Evil.

So the question is: is the paladin a ''cop'' that walks around with a law book from Nation A or does he serve a higher, more 'cosmic' good?

Is the paladin a holy slayer murderhobo? Can he just say 'you are evil' and kill someone? Does he need ''proof''? If so what kind of proof and who does he need to prove it too? Just himself? A judge? Have a whole trial?

And things like ''murder'' really have no meaning before ''modern'' times: If a paladin kill anyone EVER, you could ''call" to murder. After all, take the most evil bad guy ever, if the paladin attacks and kills them: it's murder. For one way of thinking is only NOT murder IF the paladin is attempting to stop a vile attack/killing. So if a bad guy is like one second from attack an innocent, then and only then can the paladin use deadly force. Any other time, the paladin must just ''capture and take them to a fair trial".

Of course, the above is just silly: the paladin could never ''do" anything.

PaladinX
2019-03-13, 11:22 PM
The only thing the paladin can do is help his friend remember the ways of the righteous. Also i want to point out that the friend doesnt seem all that evil.

Zenzis
2019-03-14, 12:08 AM
I would say in this hypothetical it is up to the paladin's personal philosophy whether they want to be consequentialist or not, but a lawful good paladin definitely shouldn't be considering someone who is raping people and who "lives for carnage" their friend. They should probably be using any means to stop this person be it by trying to send them down the right path or trying to send them to the grave. If they really think it would cause more evil to stop them then they don't have to. But examining your reasons to avoid putting them down:

1."you've just condemned to death every single adventurer who ever destroyed a nest of orcs" Not really. Probably ones who rape and kill orcs for fun.
2. "you have started a blood feud between the paladin's family where once there was a genuine friendship" I don't think a lawful good paladin can have a "genuine friendship" with someone who rapes and kills for pleasure. A paladin holds their moral code very core to their identity.
3. "there is going to be even more blood and death with plenty of rape and pillage to go around" This is a matter of how your paladin feels about consequentialism.
4. "you've destroyed the reputation of your family" Being good a paladin they should be willing to make this sacrifice to put down such a great evil.
5. "there are problems dozens of other people just like her who won't stop what they are doing" I don't see how this is relevant? If I clean up trash in a park there are still going to be thousands of parks with trash in them.
6. "lingering guilt of killing your oldest friend for what amounts to empty principle" Killing someone who is going around murdering and raping people is not empty principle.
7. "you aren't going to be able to do much knight errantry when you're a wanted outlaw who killed an upstanding citizen" Once again the good choice would be to make this sacrifice.
8. "Or maybe you could keep things quiet." This is often a conflict with being lawful, but not always. Usually a lawful paladin's moral code will contain something about facing enemies in a fair fight though.

Now if we are talking about two PCs I would give a totally different answer. But that is because talking about players at a table I feel like a good DM allows everyone to play the character they want to play as long as it doesn't ruin everyone else's fun, so I generally dislike moral police characters. Of course I would never let any of my players rape either, but that would get you kicked out of the table not whacked by a paladin.

Hackulator
2019-03-14, 12:18 AM
Save a lot of money, buy a scroll of Sanctify the Wicked, use it on your friend.

Save a lot of money, buy a helm of opposite alignment, put it on your friend.

Save a lot of money, buy a scroll of atonement, convince your friend to let you cast it on her.

Find a good Evangelist, have them use convert the unfaithful on your friend, convince them to stay good.

Being a Paladin isn't easy. I once killed an undead monster I tracked into a slum. I hadn't taken the time to learn about it, and it turned out it had a death scream which I easily survived but all the level 1 commoners within like 200 feet did not so they all died, and in a densely packed slum that was a LOT of people. My Paladin went to the magistrate and turned himself in for mass murder.

Phhase
2019-03-14, 01:59 AM
1. Is the Paladin's friend his superior, or are they equals? What's the rank situation here?

2. Are they still on "active duty"? What does their job as paladins look like right now? Are they in the thick of it, or do they have a while to themselves?

3. Do any peaceful, unsullied places remain?

I ask because it sounds like the paladin's friend needs to rest. She's gotten in deep, and is piling on more and more blood to avoid really thinking about any of it. She needs to slow down, be away from conflict for a while (if such a thing is even possible). It may be difficult to convince her to take a "vacation" as it were, but if one was to frame it as a secret mission to retrieve a precious artifact from a sanctified cove, or other paladin-y quest that doesn't involve mass murder or conflict. Hell, in a Nobledark world, the search for a nice place to rest might be a difficult and epic quest in and of itself. Perhaps the "mission" is to scout out a safe place to send refugees from the war.

And lastly, there needs to be some way to hold up a mirror for her. A really cool way to do that might be by causing a revenant to haunt her. It could just be a simple farmer from a village she burned. A complete nobody, become nightmare. Perhaps the victim had begged for mercy, or had been innocent of any wrongdoing, but was butchered anyway. Think Vietnam. The revenant doesn't even need to be powerful. It just needs to keep coming back, with no way of stopping it. And every time she strikes it down, it condemns her, reveals a little more about who he was, about what she did. Humanizing himself. A poetic way to be free of the curse and allow the revenant rest would be for her to shed a genuine tear for the fallen, and acknowledge her sins.

Iunno, spitballing.

Lord
2019-03-14, 07:29 AM
1. Is the Paladin's friend his superior, or are they equals? What's the rank situation here?

2. Are they still on "active duty"? What does their job as paladins look like right now? Are they in the thick of it, or do they have a while to themselves?

3. Do any peaceful, unsullied places remain?

I ask because it sounds like the paladin's friend needs to rest. She's gotten in deep, and is piling on more and more blood to avoid really thinking about any of it. She needs to slow down, be away from conflict for a while (if such a thing is even possible). It may be difficult to convince her to take a "vacation" as it were, but if one was to frame it as a secret mission to retrieve a precious artifact from a sanctified cove, or other paladin-y quest that doesn't involve mass murder or conflict. Hell, in a Nobledark world, the search for a nice place to rest might be a difficult and epic quest in and of itself. Perhaps the "mission" is to scout out a safe place to send refugees from the war.

And lastly, there needs to be some way to hold up a mirror for her. A really cool way to do that might be by causing a revenant to haunt her. It could just be a simple farmer from a village she burned. A complete nobody, become nightmare. Perhaps the victim had begged for mercy, or had been innocent of any wrongdoing, but was butchered anyway. Think Vietnam. The revenant doesn't even need to be powerful. It just needs to keep coming back, with no way of stopping it. And every time she strikes it down, it condemns her, reveals a little more about who he was, about what she did. Humanizing himself. A poetic way to be free of the curse and allow the revenant rest would be for her to shed a genuine tear for the fallen, and acknowledge her sins.

Iunno, spitballing.

Roughly speaking, the paladin is her superior in terms of rank, in the sense that his family is more powerful. However, the paladin is roughly equal in terms of military rank. Both report to the same person, who in turn reports to the paladins father. That said, there are a good number of people who are genuinely concerned for his friend. The catch is that the friend sort of has a sort of seniority. And their superior prefers to be left to run things his way.

At present the war is in the midst of a truce with the main enemy. However there are various smaller conflicts cropping up.

So it would be quite possible to get the friend assigned somewhere less bloody. Certainly somewhere where the enemies don't have any villages to destroy.

I like the revenant idea. Thanks.

Lord
2019-03-14, 07:46 AM
Sorry, I accidentally double posted.

Phhase
2019-03-14, 01:05 PM
My pleasure :smallbiggrin:.

Marcotix
2019-03-14, 04:24 PM
I don't see why the laws of the land are so far out of sync with what is good that it can be seen as legal to rape folks, war time or no. Does good exist in this world as a tangble force, al la most dnd?

Anyway, seems kinda contrived that a paladin would have a modern sense of right and wrong but the laws would have such a historical notion of it. Makes for good drama I guess?

Pleh
2019-03-14, 05:58 PM
If the paladin follows the typical set of oaths and conduct (which I assume to be the case lacking any contrary information given)

The Paladin is compelled to stop their friend by any means necessary. If a simple dialogue will work, that is optimal, but psychological trauma isn't going to heal overnight without magic. If magic healing of mental attribute damage will rectify the situation, make accomodations with a willing cleric.

More likely, the Paladin will be forced to relieve their friend from duty and incarcerate them, so at least they can prevent the friend from spiraling out of control (or taking others with her when she does). Without deeper knowledge of the politics of such a maneuver in this instance, it's hard to predict the likelihood of success.

In any case, the paladin must be prepared to kill their friend if it becomes necessary. This is about fulfilling their oaths to protect the innocent and destroy evil. It is their highest calling. If the Paladin is concerned that this may ultimately cause more harm than good, then you pull the last punch to make it nonlethal and take the evil friend prisoner, if barely alive.

You can't let the machinations of demons dictate your actions. You have a course already charted for you and detours will only give your enemies the advantage. Of course the demon will use whatever leverage he has, that's what demons do. The next thing you do is make sure the world knows (you tell everyone who will listen) that the demon is not a necessary evil. He's not necessary in any way and will be removed from the world by any means necessary (preferably by your own blade).

Because that's what a paladin essentially is. They are the blade that cuts through politics, culture, and the flesh of the wicked all the same. When you tell them they have no choice but to move, they look you dead in the eye and insist that you're the one who has to move.

We're talking about MCU Captain America with Bucky (in a case where the friend was redeemable) and/or Obi Wan with Anakin (in the case where the friend essentially wasn't redeemable).

D+1
2019-03-15, 01:17 AM
The paladin figures out after a bit that his friend's alignment has shifted from neutral good to chaotic evil.Okay.

But, and here is the crux of the issue, the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society.This is irrelevant. The paladin adheres to standards that may or may not be treated differently in different societies - but EVIL IS EVIL. It is actually in some ways WORSE if it is not just EVIL but sanctioned or unopposed by a particular society.

The paladin finds her actions distasteful, but rape and murder are just part of war in this world.Evil is not "distasteful". PERIOD. EVIL IS EVIL and a paladin will always - always - consider it utterly abhorrent and unacceptable, not "distasteful" like wearing white after Labor Day. What is right/wrong, acceptable/intolerable is based on the paladins own beliefs, not on the attitudes of others or the laws of a given society. If a society says it's okay, but the paladin's alignment says it's wrong - then IT'S WRONG as far as the paladin is concerned and the society is at best disfunctional if not itself evil.

As a result, he doesn't have the same horror at her actions that we in the modern day haveIf he wants to still be a paladin - YES he does have unrelenting horror at her actions.

Her wicked deeds only have the enemy nation as a victim, whom she regards much like D&D regards orcs. Faceless monsters whose destruction are a good act.Destruction is one thing, but you said "ATROCITIES". Well either those deeds are NOT atrocities or they ARE. There is no such thing as "okay" atrocities. Certainly not to a paladin. The attitudes of her society are IRRELEVANT. HER DEEDS ARE EVIL because you defined them as EVIL and she must be dealt with as such.

So, bearing all this in mind, what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?Whatever he can. Whatever is necessary. Tell her to stop. FORCE her to stop if possible (though how that would be done would be a neat trick for a paladin in D&D: charm, wish, helm of opposite alignment, maybe just applying a cure for insanity if it can be attributed to that). Capture her by some means and lock her in a cell for the rest of her life as rightful punishment for the evil she's already done and prevention of doing more.

However, ultimately, a paladin would be faced with probably needing to just kill their FORMER (!) friend. And that would certainly be an easy option to end that friends further slide into evil and insanity. It would be an awful thing to have to do - but so is killing your faithful but rabid pet dog and driving a wood stake through the undead heart of the woman you were going to marry before she became a vampire.

I suppose the paladin could say, "I refuse to consider her actions as unacceptable," and thus lose their paladinhood, but that sort of makes the question moot.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-15, 08:09 AM
There's no dilemma there. Just a bad guy or several to stop, by force if they don't listen to reason.

Yeah yeah, dark fantasy world, rape & murder are everywhere, blah blah. Listen: the very first thing it takes to be a paladin is genuine belief that the world doesn't need to be that way and by acting correctly, you can make it stop being that way. If that means going to war with the all the people in the entire world because they're all set on being evil, then that's that. Paladins are armed champions of Lawful Good. They have the right and duty to condemn others for their actions and oppose them with lethal force if they do not repent. A blood feud? Judging adventurers for being as bad as the orcs they rape, kill and loot? That's another day at work.

Lord
2019-03-15, 08:12 AM
Okay.
This is irrelevant. The paladin adheres to standards that may or may not be treated differently in different societies - but EVIL IS EVIL. It is actually in some ways WORSE if it is not just EVIL but sanctioned or unopposed by a particular society.
Evil is not "distasteful". PERIOD. EVIL IS EVIL and a paladin will always - always - consider it utterly abhorrent and unacceptable, not "distasteful" like wearing white after Labor Day. What is right/wrong, acceptable/intolerable is based on the paladins own beliefs, not on the attitudes of others or the laws of a given society. If a society says it's okay, but the paladin's alignment says it's wrong - then IT'S WRONG as far as the paladin is concerned and the society is at best disfunctional if not itself evil.
If he wants to still be a paladin - YES he does have unrelenting horror at her actions.
Destruction is one thing, but you said "ATROCITIES". Well either those deeds are NOT atrocities or they ARE. There is no such thing as "okay" atrocities. Certainly not to a paladin. The attitudes of her society are IRRELEVANT. HER DEEDS ARE EVIL because you defined them as EVIL and she must be dealt with as such.
Whatever he can. Whatever is necessary. Tell her to stop. FORCE her to stop if possible (though how that would be done would be a neat trick for a paladin in D&D: charm, wish, helm of opposite alignment, maybe just applying a cure for insanity if it can be attributed to that). Capture her by some means and lock her in a cell for the rest of her life as rightful punishment for the evil she's already done and prevention of doing more.

However, ultimately, a paladin would be faced with probably needing to just kill their FORMER (!) friend. And that would certainly be an easy option to end that friends further slide into evil and insanity. It would be an awful thing to have to do - but so is killing your faithful but rabid pet dog and driving a wood stake through the undead heart of the woman you were going to marry before she became a vampire.

I suppose the paladin could say, "I refuse to consider her actions as unacceptable," and thus lose their paladinhood, but that sort of makes the question moot.


A paladin who adopts the policy you have suggested will never achieve anything. He will fail because he will become nothing more than a psychopathic detect and smite junkie. A self-righteous monster who goes around hacking the heads off every man who cheats at cards. A hypocrite who ignores both the law and the context of every situation in pursuit of extra-legal murder. A man who regards his own judgement as tantamount to divine mandate. Ultimately spreading only death, and achieving nothing, doomed to fall for his dishonorable and monstrous actions. No better than the very person he passes judgement on.

A paladin is not a chaotic good rebel. He is a LAWFUL good knight. He cannot simply throw aside the law when it is not convenient. He must do everything in his power to prevent evil. But he must at least try to keep it within the context of the law if possible and maintain honorable conduct. In addition, you have ignored the possibility of redemption.

What you want isn't Lancelot of the Lake. It's Captain Walker from Spec Ops the Line.

hamishspence
2019-03-15, 08:25 AM
A paladin is not a chaotic good rebel. He is a LAWFUL good knight. He cannot simply throw aside the law when it is not convenient. He must do everything in his power to prevent evil. But he must at least try to keep it within the context of the law if possible and maintain honorable conduct. In addition, you have ignored the possibility of redemption.


This:



Whatever he can. Whatever is necessary. Tell her to stop. FORCE her to stop if possible (though how that would be done would be a neat trick for a paladin in D&D: charm, wish, helm of opposite alignment, maybe just applying a cure for insanity if it can be attributed to that). Capture her by some means and lock her in a cell for the rest of her life as rightful punishment for the evil she's already done and prevention of doing more.

acknowledges the possibility that certain forms of evildoing are a kind of insanity, which can be cured.

But what makes a paladin a paladin, is that, while LG, they place Good over Law. That's why they have a strong aura of Good but not a strong aura of Law, and why they have Detect and Smite Evil, not Detect and Smite Chaos.

When evil is legal, or accepted - a paladin will still oppose it.

The code demands that a paladin punish those who harm or threaten innocents. It doesn't make exceptions for those who do so legally.

Phhase
2019-03-15, 08:26 AM
What you want isn't Lancelot of the Lake. It's Captain Walker from Spec Ops the Line.

Oooooh, good one. Yeah, likewise, I respect those who want to play paladins as super zealous evil/good smiters, but I deride the notion that it's the ONLY way to play them somehow.

hamishspence
2019-03-15, 08:27 AM
There are ways to oppose evil that don't involve actually killing the evildoers - but the opposition itself, is compulsory.

Lord
2019-03-15, 08:38 AM
There are ways to oppose evil that don't involve actually killing the evildoers - but the opposition itself, is compulsory.

Sure. My point was merely that he was oversimplifying the situation. Paladins are allowed to pursue justice in the way they see fit. He could challenge her to a duel to the death on legal grounds, thereby removing her from the equation honorably. Or he could try to talk her down. Or he could try any other kind of means.

I never disputed that he should try to stop her from what she was doing. My inquiry was more tactical in nature. What means should be used to halt her evil deeds, and punish/redeem her? Should he defy the society in a public fashion? Attempt to change things gradually from within? Reassign her quietly to a front where nothing was going on and let her twiddle her thumbs for the rest of the war?

What I don't accept as an answer is the Helm of Opposite Alignment. That is basically violating her free will in order to force her to take on the traits he desires from a person. I would count deliberately using such an artifact as an evil act, unless the stakes were truly massive.

hamishspence
2019-03-15, 08:45 AM
Dominate Person spells violate free will and do not have the [Evil] tag. "Violation of free will" is not an intrinsically Evil act in a D&D context.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-15, 10:03 AM
That's because, for Lawful Good, life and greatest good for the greatest number trump over individual freedom. From a Lawful Good perspective, denying someone's individual will can be justified to save lives (etc.), including that person's own. For example, it would not be at all odd for a paladin to use Dominate (etc.) to stop a depressed person from committing suicide.

Preserving individual freedom at all cost is Chaotic, not Lawful. For contrast, a Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral person might see the above use of Dominate (etc.) to be hideous, because it undoes the target's own will and decision of their life. In 1st Edition AD&D DMG, this is explicit: it's outright stated that to a Chaotic Neutral entity, "death is a desireable end, because life itself can be seen as law and order". Life has no value on its own, only to the extent it can be used as a tool to "combat order", practically meaning doing what one wills.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-15, 10:44 AM
A paladin who adopts the policy you have suggested will never achieve anything. He will fail because he will become nothing more than a psychopathic detect and smite junkie. A self-righteous monster who goes around hacking the heads off every man who cheats at cards. A hypocrite who ignores both the law and the context of every situation in pursuit of extra-legal murder. A man who regards his own judgement as tantamount to divine mandate. Ultimately spreading only death, and achieving nothing, doomed to fall for his dishonorable and monstrous actions. No better than the very person he passes judgement on.

Cheating at cards is not evil. Nor is every evil act worthy of the death punishment. But yes, being judge, jury, and executioner is indeed part of the paladin's job at times. Paladins do, actually, have a divine mandate.


He cannot simply throw aside the law when it is not convenient. He must do everything in his power to prevent evil. But he must at least try to keep it within the context of the law if possible and maintain honorable conduct.
If the law is evil, then the law is illegitimate in the eyes of a paladin. A paladin would prefer to reform such evil laws through lawful means if possible, but is under no obligation whatsoever to respect the law if it stands in the way of performing his sacred duty.

Yes. Being a paladin is hard. You won't fix the world, and you will probably die in the process of trying.

Lord
2019-03-15, 10:46 AM
That's because, for Lawful Good, life and greatest good for the greatest number trump over individual freedom. From a Lawful Good perspective, denying someone's individual will can be justified to save lives (etc.), including that person's own. For example, it would not be at all odd for a paladin to use Dominate (etc.) to stop a depressed person from committing suicide.

Preserving individual freedom at all cost is Chaotic, not Lawful. For contrast, a Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral person might see the above use of Dominate (etc.) to be hideous, because it undoes the target's own will and decision of their life. In 1st Edition AD&D DMG, this is explicit: it's outright stated that to a Chaotic Neutral entity, "death is a desireable end, because life itself can be seen as law and order". Life has no value on its own, only to the extent it can be used as a tool to "combat order", practically meaning doing what one wills.

A Lawful good person can still value freedom. America is, in theory, a Lawful Good society, and freedom is an essential aspect of its ideology. They just believe that the best results come from order. They should want people to choose to obey the law of their own will. Not because somebody forced them to. A Lawful Neutral person might decide that mind controlling the populace is justifiable. But a Lawful Good person would not want to use such methods except in the most serious of crisis.

In regards to the Dominate person analogy, the two are completely different. Using a dominate person spell to get someone to fight for you, or to prevent someone from committing suicide is one thing. It is a temporary suspension of their freedom for an advantage or to save a life. Using a Helm of Opposite Alignment is completely different. It is a much more extreme use of domination magic. It is not being used for a temporary tactical advantage, or to prevent someone from harming themselves. It is suspending the free will of a sentient being on a permenant basis because you do not approve of their actions.

And once the precedent is set, when does it stop? If you're willing to override the free will of one evil person, why not do it to them all? You can have magical reeducation camps where all citizens are legally obligated to attend on a monthly basis.

...Actually, that sounds like a pretty good idea for a villainous faction. An entire race who uses brainwashing to ensure everyone is good aligned. And intends to conquer other worlds to root out the evils of free will.

Hang on a second, I've got to write this down.

hamishspence
2019-03-15, 10:51 AM
Cheating at cards is not evil. Nor is every evil act worthy of the death punishment. But yes, being judge, jury, and executioner is indeed part of the paladin's job at times.

Indeed. Paladins shouldn't be killing people for pinging as evil (because their evil acts may not be extreme):

Eberron Dragonshards: Church of the Silver Flame Part 2 (http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20041122a)

In a crowd of ten commoners, odds are good that three will be evil. But that doesn't mean they are monsters or even killers -- each is just a greedy, selfish person who willingly watches others suffer. The sword is no answer here; the paladin is charged to protect these people. Oratory, virtue, and inspiration are the weapons of the paladin -- though intimidation may have its place.

but execution for serious moral crimes is not evil - and rape is a very serious crime. So the paladin, while they can try for redemption, is not obliged to in these kind of cases.

doctor doughnut
2019-03-15, 11:54 AM
I never disputed that he should try to stop her from what she was doing. My inquiry was more tactical in nature. What means should be used to halt her evil deeds, and punish/redeem her? Should he defy the society in a public fashion? Attempt to change things gradually from within? Reassign her quietly to a front where nothing was going on and let her twiddle her thumbs for the rest of the war?

Anything. Anything that works. In a general sense a pladain does not ''slowly change things from within" as they are frontline People of Action.



What I don't accept as an answer is the Helm of Opposite Alignment. That is basically violating her free will in order to force her to take on the traits he desires from a person. I would count deliberately using such an artifact as an evil act, unless the stakes were truly massive.

Well, both the Lawful and Good alignments do violate free will, so this is not much of an argument to make. Both Lawful and Good do every often threaten and force people to do things against thier free will, even up to the penanty of death.

Lord
2019-03-15, 12:21 PM
There's a difference between telling someone to obey the law or go to prison, and going into their mind and overriding their thoughts so they HAVE to obey the law. One is the action of a police officer. The other is the action of the thought police.

Phhase
2019-03-15, 12:48 PM
That's because, for Lawful Good, life and greatest good for the greatest number trump over individual freedom. From a Lawful Good perspective, denying someone's individual will can be justified to save lives (etc.), including that person's own. For example, it would not be at all odd for a paladin to use Dominate (etc.) to stop a depressed person from committing suicide.

Preserving individual freedom at all cost is Chaotic, not Lawful.

I never understood this perspective. That sounds way more like a Paladin Oath than a personal philosophy. I've always interpreted
Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic as referring to methods, not goals. A lawful person prefers to act within the law (note that WHAT law may vary). A chaotic person follows their heart more often than any institution. And a neutral person is open to both.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-15, 12:51 PM
A Lawful good person can still value freedom.

Sure they can. But it's not top of the list. For a Lawful Good person in particular, the freedoms to harm others for fun and profit, etc. evil things, don't rank as something to value.

From the perspective of D&D alignment, it would frequently be a-okay to imprison, indoctrinate, execute or outright genocide truly evil beings. Sure, you can screw up the implementation and go overboard with it, but your ability to be and remain as a paladin is a function of your ability to not screw up and go overboard with it.

Phhase
2019-03-15, 05:37 PM
Has anyone here heard the tale of Donovan Graham? It's a great story about a Rogue whom everyone thought was a Paladin. He was de facto forced into being the frontman in a war against the BBEG, and did all kinds of roguey things. But at no point was he accused of being a bad paladin, or of violating the Oath. No, instead he was praised for his resourcefulness and cunning. The moral to me is that a Paladin needn't starch his undies every day, so to speak.

AMFV
2019-03-15, 10:22 PM
1} Was my assessment of the best course of action. Of course, it might not work.

This is the best course of action, but if it doesn't work... then other steps may need to be taken.



2} Sounds like a decent idea. Although it could be argued it is washing his hands of the situation rather than resolving it.

I think that if the person were not the Paladin's friend, if they didn't have direct knowledge of their actions and nobody was in immediate danger they could maybe try to look for a better resolution elsewhere, but even then, they should try to avoid that at all costs.



3} Congratulations, you've just condemned to death every single adventurer who ever destroyed a nest of orcs. Also, you have started a blood feud between the paladin's family where once there was a genuine friendship. So there is going to be even more blood and death with plenty of rape and pillage to go around. And the Dark God you are fighting is going to take full advantage of said infighting.

There's a big difference between "killing orcs who are trying to kill you or others", and "violently raping and torturing orcs who are possibly not trying to kill you and aren't a threat". This difference exists even in medieval morality systems. There's a reason why propagandists in the middle ages try to paint their enemies as violent rapists and murderers, because they considered that to be poor behavior. Certainly it is not behavior that I would tolerate as a Paladin.

There are even today certain societies that believe rape is a tool to use in war, if I found out that one of my close friends had done that, they would not be my friend. And if I found out that they intended to continue to do that, I would probably try to stop them, even unto using lethal force to do so. And I'm not a Paladin, a Paladin's burden is so much higher. A Paladin would need to either redeem this person, or stop them from doing what they are doing. using whatever methods necessary.

And if the price of defeating the Dark God is "allow rape and violent murder to happen" then it isn't worth it. Period. Not for a Paladin, not ever. Maybe they need to clean their own house before trying to deal with the dark god. Allying with one evil to try to stop another is very rarely worth it, and certainly would require you trying to prevent further evil from happening.



Plus, you've destroyed the reputation of your family. And there are problems dozens of other people just like her who won't stop what they are doing. Not to mention the lingering guilt of killing your oldest friend for what amounts to empty principle. Plus you aren't going to be able to do much knight errantry when you're a wanted outlaw who killed an upstanding citizen.
Or maybe you could keep things quiet.

If my reputation in a society requires that I be okay with rape as a weapon of war, I do not want to be okay in that society. If the laws are unjust, then the just must be outlaws, no? That is certainly true of Paladins. I mean it would be better if the laws were just and a person didn't have to become an outlaw, but no society that considers a violent rapist to be an upstanding citizen is worth being a part of. Hell, I believe that to be true, even today.



You know, go with her on a mission and stab her in the back. You could just say the orcs did it. Nobody would ever know. Nobody.

In pretty much every edition, Paladins are explicitly forbidden from using this kind of tactic. And furthermore it does nothing to really resolve the problems of that society. You becoming an outlaw and directly fighting it after killing the rapist, that would do a lot more. And yes, you might die, but you're a Paladin, that's part of the game.


Has anyone here heard the tale of Donovan Graham? It's a great story about a Rogue whom everyone thought was a Paladin. He was de facto forced into being the frontman in a war against the BBEG, and did all kinds of roguey things. But at no point was he accused of being a bad paladin, or of violating the Oath. No, instead he was praised for his resourcefulness and cunning. The moral to me is that a Paladin needn't starch his undies every day, so to speak.

Did he violate the oath though? Also he wasn't a Paladin. Lastly, not getting caught is not the same as not doing a thing. A rogue pretending to be a Paladin can be okay with "not getting caught breaking the oath" a Paladin who is a Paladin, cannot. So a rogue disguised a Paladin doesn't need to starch, but a Paladin, probably at least ought to press the undies, at least every other day.

Phhase
2019-03-15, 10:25 PM
Did he violate the oath though? Also he wasn't a Paladin. Lastly, not getting caught is not the same as not doing a thing. A rogue pretending to be a Paladin can be okay with "not getting caught breaking the oath" a Paladin who is a Paladin, cannot. So a rogue disguised a Paladin doesn't need to starch, but a Paladin, probably at least ought to press the undies, at least every other day.

As I recall, his exploits were in the public eye, so egregious violations would be easy to spot. I think it was a matter of "non-traditional methods" rather than outright cheating the code.

AMFV
2019-03-15, 10:30 PM
As I recall, his exploits were in the public eye, so egregious violations would be easy to spot. I think it was a matter of "non-traditional methods" rather than outright cheating the code.

Well as long as those methods weren't 'dishonorable', which may mean different things to different people, he'd probably be okay doing it as a Paladin. I'm just saying that a rogue pretending to be a Paladin is held to a VERY different standard than a Paladin acting as a Paladin. A Paladin is far less concerned with what the public eye thinks of him, than what he thinks of himself. That's the big key. A Paladin would do something honorable even if it ruined his reputation to do it. Whereas a rogue pretending to be a Paladin, would do something dishonorable to preserve that ruse. Now that's not necessarily EVIIIL, but it isn't how a Paladin should act, but it is (probably) fine for a rogue pretending to be a Paladin.

Pleh
2019-03-16, 05:49 AM
Using a Helm of Opposite Alignment is completely different. It is a much more extreme use of domination magic. It is not being used for a temporary tactical advantage, or to prevent someone from harming themselves.

But in the example you gave, it IS preventing someone from hurting themselves.

You said the friend's actions were directly leading to the further degredation of their character. Stopping their evil conduct is as much about keeping them from harming themselves as anyone else in this case.

And this friend wasn't born evil, but was traumatized into it. Wouldn't the paladin see an alignment reversal as restoring their normal alignment?

A friend breaks a bone. How dare you insist that it should be forced back into place? That could hurt.[/sarcasm]

You see, there is a really big difference between a paladin with a CE friend who CHOOSES to be CE, and a paladin with a CE friend who was forced by trauma into it. And the biggest dilemma comes from the paladin not being fully sure which it is

But before you go writing your story about how evil a brainwashing good society is, remember that in D&D, Evil and Good are embodied in physical planes of existence and in several supernatural creatures. They're both measurable cosmic force. A character tempted by evil is to some extent being lured by The Dark Side(TM)

A good creature "brainwashing" an evil creature out of their evil is often like Gandalf freeing Theodin from Saruman's control. Sure, his choices on whom to hire as his advisor brought him to that state and Gandalf and his friends were forced to usurp his authority over his court and even over his person in order to break him free. But it all becomes just when you remember that Evil took their freedom long ago and Good has come to give it back.

Now, you have a point that perhaps a paladin ought to put a person back to neutral, so they can live with the freedom to choose good or evil, rather than making them outright Good. This is more a problem of items and spells that shift alignment, which take the already dysfuntional alignment system and turns it on its head so the few places it used to work at become strained or break entirely.

However, for scenarios precisely like the one expressed in your OP, there SHOULD be a away to force NPCs to change alignment (or equivalent) in a Paladin or Cleric's toolbox. Something like Break Enchantment, but that targets alignment. It's a highly narrative ability, but then Paladins are highly narrative characters. There should basically be a Verbal Smite that has some chance to make an NPC see the error of their ways and have a sudden change of heart. And there should be language in the ability that some creatures or persons just won't be swayed by it.

Durandu Ran
2019-03-17, 01:52 PM
There's a difference between telling someone to obey the law or go to prison, and going into their mind and overriding their thoughts so they HAVE to obey the law. One is the action of a police officer. The other is the action of the thought police.

Call me a cynic, but I think the only reason police officers don't do the second one is that there isn't actually an effective and reliable way to do that in real life.

If gods are indisputably real and good/evil are objective concepts, is a helm of opposite alignment best thought of as thought policing, or as something like court-ordered rehab/anger management that works immediately?

Like, giving a defeated opponent a choice between surrender and be tried in a court of law/be put to death/surrender and consent to have your alignment changed doesn't strike me as meaningfully less good than giving a defeated opponent a choice between the first two options.

D+1
2019-03-17, 05:06 PM
A paladin who adopts the policy you have suggested will never achieve anything. He will fail because he will become nothing more than a psychopathic detect and smite junkie. A self-righteous monster who goes around hacking the heads off every man who cheats at cards.
Not sure how you go from what I said to killing card cheats. You say it leads there but don't explain HOW it leads there and I certainly don't see your logic.

A hypocrite who ignores both the law and the context of every situation in pursuit of extra-legal murder.
This is the classic mistake of equating following written law - ALL written law, without exception or further consideration - with "Lawful" alignment.

"Lawful" as an alignment element shouldn't be conflated with crime-and-punishment, courts-and-jails, and king's decrees kind of laws. The opposite of Lawful after all is not "Lawless", nor is it "Criminal"; it is Chaotic. It is more general and abstract, and perception of it should be closer to how it was used by Moorcock and Anderson whose fiction originated it. It's a belief in, and often a promotion of a certain order and structure in the universe. The enacting and enforcement of written laws in a society is a common outcome of a Lawful alignment perspective, but the mere fact that written laws exist and the activity of sticking to them is NOT what keeps a lawful character lawful. A Lawful character would hope that the written law reminds and compels people who are NOT of Lawful alignment to behave more appropriately. The Lawfully-aligned character should be trying to act that way whether such written laws are in place or not. It therefore cannot be the written law and how a character reacts to it which defines a Lawful alignment. And laws that a paladin deems worthy of following won't restrict them from doing what they exist as a class to do.


A man who regards his own judgement as tantamount to divine mandate. Ultimately spreading only death, and achieving nothing, doomed to fall for his dishonorable and monstrous actions. No better than the very person he passes judgement on.
The paladin IS judge, jury, and executioner. Always has been in every edition. It is not an offense to a paladin to NOT believe everything a paladin believes. However, belief in and performance of EVIL in every form and every degree is surely what a LG paladin exists to eliminate to the best of their ability. If that idealogy doesn't fit the campaign world you drop the paladin class into then the paladin class simply has no place IN that world - no reason to exist, and as you say, doomed to fail. But doomed not because of the class, but because of the campaign setting that won't let the class function. You assume a paladin existing in a game world that CANNOT accommodate what a paladin is and does, and then claim that's the fault of how the class works (or rather how _I_ claim the class works, but I'm not looking to have them be UNCONTROLLED murderers - they are controlled and constrained in doling out violence BY THEIR ALIGNMENT.


A paladin is not a chaotic good rebel. He is a LAWFUL good knight. He cannot simply throw aside the law when it is not convenient. He must do everything in his power to prevent evil. But he must at least try to keep it within the context of the law if possible and maintain honorable conduct. In addition, you have ignored the possibility of redemption.
Paladins don't exist to redeem evil. They have no special skills to accomplish it (enforced alignment change), no class mandate to even attempt it, yet they do have abilities and expectation to take matters into their own hands because THEY personally know better what is deserving of lethal punishment and what isn't. Their mandate for redemption starts with a sword to the head, not a sermon on morality.


What you want isn't Lancelot of the Lake. It's Captain Walker from Spec Ops the Line.
Lancelot fell. Walker was insane and NOTHING like a paladin exercising morally-good judgement and exemplifying all that is just and righteous. You want a paladin to be a policeman, heavily constrained by written law and not their own morality - and which morality should in and of itself require no additional limitation or approval from political authorities or written laws.

5E: "A paladin swears to uphold justice and righteousness, to stand with the good things of the world against the encroaching darkness and to hunt the forces of evil wherever they lurk."
Emphasis mine. In the case of the OP the evil is right in front of them. The paladin should ultimately stand with the good and righteousness and ELIMINATE it.

4E: "Paladins smite enemies with divine authority, bolster the courage of nearby companions, and radiate as if a beacon on inextinguishable hope. Paladins are transfigured on the field of battle, exemplars of divine ethos in action."
Emphasis mine. Not written-law authority - DIVINE authority.

3E: "The compassion to pursue good, the will to uphold law, and the power to defeat evil - these are the three weapons of the paladin. Few have the purity and devotion that it takes to walk the paladin path, but those few are rewarded with the power to protect, to heal, and to smite."
Emphasis mine. Nothing in that edition either about the power to redeem the fallen, nor to forgive and forget, but lots about "Let's go GET the EVIL and destroy it!"

1E and 2E surprisingly don't have much to say about paladin behavior and attitudes except that they are fighters, they must BE lawful good and stay that way, that, "Law and good deeds are the meat and drink of paladins," and then simply describing some abilities to detect and face down various Evils. But nothing about enforcement of written law, redemption of the fallen (other than perhaps sending them for judgement in the afterlife), or having their actions sanctioned by worldly authority before they can BE paladins.

_I_ want paladins to simply be allowed to be what they have always been described to be, and for them to be in a game world that permits and even expects them to do what they do, which is to find and SLAY evil, basing their decisions of justice, life/death and forgiveness on their alignment and, YES, on their own good judgement. And LG alignment, if adhered to, should cause no DM to want to interfere with a paladin PC and their justly moral and ethical actions in KILLING EVIL.

Now if YOU want them to be something different - hey, it's YOUR campaign world, not mine. But -IME- the closer people stick to what the books say paladins ARE, and not what so many DMs want to turn them into, the better that everything about paladins works and the smoother the game flows for everyone.

Lord
2019-03-17, 08:28 PM
Not sure how you go from what I said to killing card cheats. You say it leads there but don't explain HOW it leads there and I certainly don't see your logic.

This is the classic mistake of equating following written law - ALL written law, without exception or further consideration - with "Lawful" alignment.

"Lawful" as an alignment element shouldn't be conflated with crime-and-punishment, courts-and-jails, and king's decrees kind of laws. The opposite of Lawful after all is not "Lawless", nor is it "Criminal"; it is Chaotic. It is more general and abstract, and perception of it should be closer to how it was used by Moorcock and Anderson whose fiction originated it. It's a belief in, and often a promotion of a certain order and structure in the universe. The enacting and enforcement of written laws in a society is a common outcome of a Lawful alignment perspective, but the mere fact that written laws exist and the activity of sticking to them is NOT what keeps a lawful character lawful. A Lawful character would hope that the written law reminds and compels people who are NOT of Lawful alignment to behave more appropriately. The Lawfully-aligned character should be trying to act that way whether such written laws are in place or not. It therefore cannot be the written law and how a character reacts to it which defines a Lawful alignment. And laws that a paladin deems worthy of following won't restrict them from doing what they exist as a class to do.


The paladin IS judge, jury, and executioner. Always has been in every edition. It is not an offense to a paladin to NOT believe everything a paladin believes. However, belief in and performance of EVIL in every form and every degree is surely what a LG paladin exists to eliminate to the best of their ability. If that idealogy doesn't fit the campaign world you drop the paladin class into then the paladin class simply has no place IN that world - no reason to exist, and as you say, doomed to fail. But doomed not because of the class, but because of the campaign setting that won't let the class function. You assume a paladin existing in a game world that CANNOT accommodate what a paladin is and does, and then claim that's the fault of how the class works (or rather how _I_ claim the class works, but I'm not looking to have them be UNCONTROLLED murderers - they are controlled and constrained in doling out violence BY THEIR ALIGNMENT.


Paladins don't exist to redeem evil. They have no special skills to accomplish it (enforced alignment change), no class mandate to even attempt it, yet they do have abilities and expectation to take matters into their own hands because THEY personally know better what is deserving of lethal punishment and what isn't. Their mandate for redemption starts with a sword to the head, not a sermon on morality.


Lancelot fell. Walker was insane and NOTHING like a paladin exercising morally-good judgement and exemplifying all that is just and righteous. You want a paladin to be a policeman, heavily constrained by written law and not their own morality - and which morality should in and of itself require no additional limitation or approval from political authorities or written laws.

5E: "A paladin swears to uphold justice and righteousness, to stand with the good things of the world against the encroaching darkness and to hunt the forces of evil wherever they lurk."
Emphasis mine. In the case of the OP the evil is right in front of them. The paladin should ultimately stand with the good and righteousness and ELIMINATE it.

4E: "Paladins smite enemies with divine authority, bolster the courage of nearby companions, and radiate as if a beacon on inextinguishable hope. Paladins are transfigured on the field of battle, exemplars of divine ethos in action."
Emphasis mine. Not written-law authority - DIVINE authority.

3E: "The compassion to pursue good, the will to uphold law, and the power to defeat evil - these are the three weapons of the paladin. Few have the purity and devotion that it takes to walk the paladin path, but those few are rewarded with the power to protect, to heal, and to smite."
Emphasis mine. Nothing in that edition either about the power to redeem the fallen, nor to forgive and forget, but lots about "Let's go GET the EVIL and destroy it!"

1E and 2E surprisingly don't have much to say about paladin behavior and attitudes except that they are fighters, they must BE lawful good and stay that way, that, "Law and good deeds are the meat and drink of paladins," and then simply describing some abilities to detect and face down various Evils. But nothing about enforcement of written law, redemption of the fallen (other than perhaps sending them for judgement in the afterlife), or having their actions sanctioned by worldly authority before they can BE paladins.

_I_ want paladins to simply be allowed to be what they have always been described to be, and for them to be in a game world that permits and even expects them to do what they do, which is to find and SLAY evil, basing their decisions of justice, life/death and forgiveness on their alignment and, YES, on their own good judgement. And LG alignment, if adhered to, should cause no DM to want to interfere with a paladin PC and their justly moral and ethical actions in KILLING EVIL.

Now if YOU want them to be something different - hey, it's YOUR campaign world, not mine. But -IME- the closer people stick to what the books say paladins ARE, and not what so many DMs want to turn them into, the better that everything about paladins works and the smoother the game flows for everyone.


I'm not saying that the paladin is obligated to redeem his friend. I'm saying that he should try to find a solution to the problem that doesn't involve breaking the law. I have already suggested several ways this could be accomplished. Trial by combat, reassigning the friend to a peaceful front where she can't kill anyone, asking his god to set her straight. Any of these are legitimate, and wouldn't require him to break the law or ruin his family's reputation.

You seem to be arguing that he is obligated to take the stupidest possible route, purely on the basis that the friend is evil. No one is disputing the fact that the friend is evil. It's in the opening post. The point of the question is what should be done.

Cutting her head off in public would be an unlawful act that would have massive repurcussions, almost all of which would be very bad. All I did was point out the fact. A paladin is not obligated to be lawful stupid. They are allowed to take subtle approaches to problems if kicking in the door won't work.


And of course Walker wasn't acting like a paladin. But he acting like you want this paladin to act. Walker spent the entire game killing very bad people, most of whom had shot at him first. He justified the constant killing on the basis that they deserved it. And by the end, so did he.

Walker acted just like a detect-and-smite paladin would. He used killing as his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth reaction. By the end he had achieved absolutely nothing but carnage. He had inadvertantly killed many innocent people who got caught in the crossfire, and singlehandedly doomed Dubai. And that's the best case case scenario where he doesn't mow down innocent civilians to avenge his friend.

If he had even once stopped to think about the situation and reassess his plan all of it would have been avoided.


If a paladin in any setting acted the way you suggested, the result would be the same. He would alienate the society around him, probably get himself killed, and ensure that nobody in the region would ever trust paladins again. And that is just the best case scenario.

You can't handle every evil person, or even every extremely evil person, by caving in their head with a broadsword. You have to account for the circumstances or you end up like Captain Walker.

As for cheating at cards, a paladin who solves every problem by killing an evildoer will eventually start killing people who cheat at cards. After all, people make bets during card games. If you cheat, you're stealing other people's hard earned money. That's evil.

'slash'

Thus why killing every evildoer you run into doesn't work. Even if the evildoer has done absolutely monstrous things in the past there are circumstances where outright killing them isn't acceptable.

redwizard007
2019-03-17, 08:47 PM
I'm not saying that the paladin is obligated to redeem his friend. I'm saying that he should try to find a solution to the problem that doesn't involve breaking the law. I have already suggested several ways this could be accomplished. Trial by combat, reassigning the friend to a peaceful front where she can't kill anyone, asking his god to set her straight. Any of these are legitimate, and wouldn't require him to break the law or ruin his family's reputation.

You seem to be arguing that he is obligated to take the stupidest possible route, purely on the basis that the friend is evil. No one is disputing the fact that the friend is evil. It's in the opening post. The point of the question is what should be done.

Cutting her head off in public would be an unlawful act that would have massive repurcussions, almost all of which would be very bad. All I did was point out the fact. A paladin is not obligated to be lawful stupid. They are allowed to take subtle approaches to problems if kicking in the door won't work.


And of course Walker wasn't acting like a paladin. But he acting like you want this paladin to act. Walker spent the entire game killing very bad people, most of whom had shot at him first. He justified the constant killing on the basis that they deserved it. And by the end, so did he.

Walker acted just like a detect-and-smite paladin would. He used killing as his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth reaction. By the end he had achieved absolutely nothing but carnage. He had inadvertantly killed many innocent people who got caught in the crossfire, and singlehandedly doomed Dubai. And that's the best case case scenario where he doesn't mow down innocent civilians to avenge his friend.

If he had even once stopped to think about the situation and reassess his plan all of it would have been avoided.


If a paladin in any setting acted the way you suggested, the result would be the same. He would alienate the society around him, probably get himself killed, and ensure that nobody in the region would ever trust paladins again. And that is just the best case scenario.

You can't handle every evil person, or even every extremely evil person, by caving in their head with a broadsword. You have to account for the circumstances or you end up like Captain Walker.

As for cheating at cards, a paladin who solves every problem by killing an evildoer will eventually start killing people who cheat at cards. After all, people make bets during card games. If you cheat, you're stealing other people's hard earned money. That's evil.

'slash'

Thus why killing every evildoer you run into doesn't work. Even if the evildoer has done absolutely monstrous things in the past there are circumstances where outright killing them isn't acceptable.

I don't think what you are saying is entirely wrong, but it sounds like you are trying to severely limit the way paladins would play out. That may be fine in a specific game, but I believe that many of us would not find playing a paladin in such a way enjoyable. At least not all the time.

AMFV
2019-03-17, 09:09 PM
I'm not saying that the paladin is obligated to redeem his friend. I'm saying that he should try to find a solution to the problem that doesn't involve breaking the law. I have already suggested several ways this could be accomplished. Trial by combat, reassigning the friend to a peaceful front where she can't kill anyone, asking his god to set her straight. Any of these are legitimate, and wouldn't require him to break the law or ruin his family's reputation.

He is NOT her superior and she is likely to not want to get reassigned, given that she is CE and is an environment where she can hurt others in ways that she enjoys as often as she likes. So she is unwilling to allow herself to be reassigned, now it may be possible to maneuver that. But it may not be possible.

Trial by combat? She'll just refuse. And there may not be some way to force her into that situation. And if that is the case, then that option doesn't work.

He probably should already have asked his God to set her straight, but his God may have a different solution in mind, after all he ordained that the Paladin should be there with the sword to remove her head from her shoulders.

You are ASSUMING that the Paladin is going to succeed at those options. He is under no requirement to do something more likely to fail than succeed especially when the stakes are so high.



You seem to be arguing that he is obligated to take the stupidest possible route, purely on the basis that the friend is evil. No one is disputing the fact that the friend is evil. It's in the opening post. The point of the question is what should be done.

Nobody here is arguing that the Paladin should cut off her head when she fails his daily "Detect Evil Check" people are saying, it's probably okay for him to lop her head off if she is an unrepentant murderous rapist. And I would agree with them.



Cutting her head off in public would be an unlawful act that would have massive repurcussions, almost all of which would be very bad. All I did was point out the fact. A paladin is not obligated to be lawful stupid. They are allowed to take subtle approaches to problems if kicking in the door won't work.

Actually a Paladin is generally forbidden from 'dishonorable tactics' which may include a LOT of subtle approaches including your very sketchy, kill somebody and lie about it, which includes multiple things that a Paladin is not allowed to do, and many he should not as well.




If a paladin in any setting acted the way you suggested, the result would be the same. He would alienate the society around him, probably get himself killed, and ensure that nobody in the region would ever trust paladins again. And that is just the best case scenario.

No, the best case scenario is that the rapees now know that there is somebody who will protect them, and the rapists now know that somebody is going to cut them stem to sternum if they decide to continue their actions. The Paladin may not be able to accomplish that on his own, but it has to start somewhere.



You can't handle every evil person, or even every extremely evil person, by caving in their head with a broadsword. You have to account for the circumstances or you end up like Captain Walker.

THERE ARE NO CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH UNREPENTANT TORTURE AND RAPE ARE OKAY. PERIOD.

There is "accounting for circumstances" here. The Paladin is required to stop that, by whatever means necessary, even if that costs his family's name, even if that costs his reputation, even if that costs his life.



As for cheating at cards, a paladin who solves every problem by killing an evildoer will eventually start killing people who cheat at cards. After all, people make bets during card games. If you cheat, you're stealing other people's hard earned money. That's evil.


Actually petty theft isn't legal and there is a world of difference between an UNREPENTANT MURDEROUS RAPIST and a card cheat. There is no reason that a person of any kind of thinking could not distinguish that difference. If the Paladin goes insane maybe, but not really.



Thus why killing every evildoer you run into doesn't work. Even if the evildoer has done absolutely monstrous things in the past there are circumstances where outright killing them isn't acceptable.

The thing is that it's NOT IN THE PAST, the person is CURRENTLY doing those things. The Paladin is stopping them from continuing to happen not killing the person because they have done them (although that might be appropriate as well).

Edit: Sorry about the emphasis but I felt it was necessary since you are comparing the person in question to a card cheat.

Lord
2019-03-17, 09:25 PM
He is NOT her superior and she is likely to not want to get reassigned, given that she is CE and is an environment where she can hurt others in ways that she enjoys as often as she likes. So she is unwilling to allow herself to be reassigned, now it may be possible to maneuver that. But it may not be possible.

Trial by combat? She'll just refuse. And there may not be some way to force her into that situation. And if that is the case, then that option doesn't work.

He probably should already have asked his God to set her straight, but his God may have a different solution in mind, after all he ordained that the Paladin should be there with the sword to remove her head from her shoulders.

You are ASSUMING that the Paladin is going to succeed at those options. He is under no requirement to do something more likely to fail than succeed especially when the stakes are so high.



Nobody here is arguing that the Paladin should cut off her head when she fails his daily "Detect Evil Check" people are saying, it's probably okay for him to lop her head off if she is an unrepentant murderous rapist. And I would agree with them.



Actually a Paladin is generally forbidden from 'dishonorable tactics' which may include a LOT of subtle approaches including your very sketchy, kill somebody and lie about it, which includes multiple things that a Paladin is not allowed to do, and many he should not as well.



No, the best case scenario is that the rapees now know that there is somebody who will protect them, and the rapists now know that somebody is going to cut them stem to sternum if they decide to continue their actions. The Paladin may not be able to accomplish that on his own, but it has to start somewhere.



THERE ARE NO CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH UNREPENTANT TORTURE AND RAPE ARE OKAY. PERIOD.

There is "accounting for circumstances" here. The Paladin is required to stop that, by whatever means necessary, even if that costs his family's name, even if that costs his reputation, even if that costs his life.



Actually petty theft isn't legal and there is a world of difference between an UNREPENTANT MURDEROUS RAPIST and a card cheat. There is no reason that a person of any kind of thinking could not distinguish that difference. If the Paladin goes insane maybe, but not really.



The thing is that it's NOT IN THE PAST, the person is CURRENTLY doing those things. The Paladin is stopping them from continuing to happen not killing the person because they have done them (although that might be appropriate as well).

Edit: Sorry about the emphasis but I felt it was necessary since you are comparing the person in question to a card cheat.


No. The person is not currently doing those things.

And no, it isn't okay to cut the head off someone who isn't doing anything wrong at the moment. The friend is not raiding at the moment. Her last raid was months ago.

If she were standing over the corpse of a mother and about to stab a baby that would be one thing.

However, the friend is not presently doing anything wrong. And trial by combat doesn't work that way. If someone challenges you to a duel to the death on honorable grounds, you are a coward if you refuse.The friend is not a coward. She might be reluctant to kill the paladin, she might try to talk him out of it, but if push came to shove, she would be obligated to meet the challenge. Or be shamed.

Also, rape and murder happen all the time in war in middle ages. ALL. THE. TIME.

The paladin is not a 20th century person. He finds them morally wrong, but his morality is that of his time. There are no rules of war in this world except not killing people in parley and other very basic things. When an army goes to war, the general pays his soldiers with the promise of loot, stolen from the enemy they have ravaged. Part of that loot often involves captives and raping them is common.

There is no geneva convention that has been agreed on in this world. Raping captives is common practice. There are plenty of people who would never do that, of course. But the friend isn't the abhorrant monster she would be in our world. She is just an ordinary, evilly aligned soldier who was driven into her atrocities by PTSD.

Since the basic morality of this world is significantly lower, you likewise have to hold people to a lower standard.

Alexander the Great was considered a great man in his time, and possessing many noble qualities. But if someone like him lived today, he'd be a monster. You CANNOT judge medieval people by the same standards of morality that you do modern people.

AMFV
2019-03-17, 09:46 PM
No. The person is not currently doing those things.

Doing them "months ago" counts as currently doing them to me, does the person plan on doing them again in a few months when she goes back to the front? That's current to me.



And no, it isn't okay to cut the head off someone who isn't doing anything wrong at the moment. The friend is not raiding at the moment. Her last raid was months ago.

And she has taken an oath never to raid again?



If she were standing over the corpse of a mother and about to stab a baby that would be one thing.

If the Paladin comes up to the person and they are unwilling to say that they will never do this behavior again, then the situation is morally the same, that person will do it again, so it doesn't matter if the baby is stabbed in a year or in two seconds, the Paladin is still saving the baby.



However, the friend is not presently doing anything wrong. And trial by combat doesn't work that way. If someone challenges you to a duel to the death on honorable grounds, you are a coward if you refuse.The friend is not a coward. She might be reluctant to kill the paladin, she might try to talk him out of it, but if push came to shove, she would be obligated to meet the challenge. Or be shamed.

Then he should do that, that's probably the best solution. But does he have grounds? If not he should still stop her.



Also, rape and murder happen all the time in war in middle ages. ALL. THE. TIME.


You are mislead by later writers on that time. Rape was not uncommon but it was not standard. It wasn't current day tribal warfare in Africa, where people have started using it as a weapon. In fact rapes have caused the sacking of cities because they were trying to punish the rapist. So no rape is not common. Murder, really depends on how you define murder, killing civilian populations was generally frowned on, although when you had disciplined forces it did not typically happen too much, but a Paladin would certainly have been against it even in that paradigm. The same way that the historical Knights Hospitaller where against that or the Knights Templar were against that.

http://sciencenordic.com/was-rape-common-middle-ages

https://www.publicmedievalist.com/got-rape-and-middle-ages/

So, not particularly more common and certainly as illegal as it is today, although perhaps for different reasons.



The paladin is not a 20th century person. He finds them morally wrong, but his morality is that of his time. There are no rules of war in this world except not killing people in parley and other very basic things. When an army goes to war, the general pays his soldiers with the promise of loot, stolen from the enemy they have ravaged. Part of that loot often involves captives and raping them is common.

That is a much worse setting than a standard medieval one, and EVEN in medieval settings, rape was frowned on, there was a reason why the crusades included stories of rape against Christian women to motivate the Crusaders to go out there. Now there was some rape on the other side, but it was generally not thought of as a good thing, certainly not a matter of course.



There is no geneva convention that has been agreed on in this world. Raping captives is common practice. There are plenty of people who would never do that, of course. But the friend isn't the abhorrant monster she would be in our world. She is just an ordinary, evilly aligned soldier who was driven into her atrocities by PTSD.

I know people with PTSD. I know soldiers. If I were a Paladin in such a world then I would still be obligated to stop them.



Since the basic morality of this world is significantly lower, you likewise have to hold people to a lower standard.

No, I don't, Paladins don't get that luxury. They have to act to stop evil. Even if that means they go against societal norms.



Alexander the Great was considered a great man in his time, and possessing many noble qualities. But if someone like him lived today, he'd be a monster. You CANNOT judge medieval people by the same standards of morality that you do modern people.

I am not. I am judging them by standards that existed in those time periods (as I have shown). And in those time periods, a Paladin equivalent character would have to act in higher standards. If I were judging by modern standards then "lopping off" her head wouldn't be as ready an option as it is here. That option is only available because of the standards of the time.

D+1
2019-03-17, 10:23 PM
You seem to be arguing that he is obligated to take the stupidest possible route, purely on the basis that the friend is evil. No one is disputing the fact that the friend is evil. It's in the opening post. The point of the question is what should be done.
I'll repeat what I said in my first post:

So, bearing all this in mind, what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?
Whatever he can. Whatever is necessary. Tell her to stop. FORCE her to stop if possible (though how that would be done would be a neat trick for a paladin in D&D: charm, wish, helm of opposite alignment, maybe just applying a cure for insanity if it can be attributed to that). Capture her by some means and lock her in a cell for the rest of her life as rightful punishment for the evil she's already done and prevention of doing more.

However, ultimately, a paladin would be faced with probably needing to just kill their FORMER (!) friend.


Cutting her head off in public would be an unlawful act that would have massive repurcussions, almost all of which would be very bad. All I did was point out the fact. A paladin is not obligated to be lawful stupid. They are allowed to take subtle approaches to problems if kicking in the door won't work.
And again I'm not sure how you're getting from what I said to cutting off heads in public and being lawful stupid.


If a paladin in any setting acted the way you suggested, the result would be the same. He would alienate the society around him, probably get himself killed, and ensure that nobody in the region would ever trust paladins again. And that is just the best case scenario.
Again, if a paladin is not in a SETTING where they cannot do what they exist to do they will indeed accomplish nothing more than be accused of atrocities themselves for doing what they are MEANT to do.


You can't handle every evil person, or even every extremely evil person, by caving in their head with a broadsword. You have to account for the circumstances or you end up like Captain Walker.
Also, again, Lawful Good alignment - if played correctly - will prevent ATROCITIES in the name of good. But paladins still exist to kill evil things - even if those evil things were once sane, moral, friends. And following what I initially suggested the paladin will try anything, EVERYTHING to turn an evil friend back to good - but when that fails, as it almost certainly will for the paladin has no special ability whatsoever to redeem others, they will be faced with the undesirable but inevitable choice of killing them... AGAIN, assuming that undertaking that job isn't just a suicide mission because the former friend is too powerful an evil for the paladin to take on.


As for cheating at cards, a paladin who solves every problem by killing an evildoer will eventually start killing people who cheat at cards. After all, people make bets during card games. If you cheat, you're stealing other people's hard earned money. That's evil.
I can't even tell now if you're being sarcastic or serious.


Thus why killing every evildoer you run into doesn't work. Even if the evildoer has done absolutely monstrous things in the past there are circumstances where outright killing them isn't acceptable.And for this I think you'll just have to actually quote the rules that actually enable and/or permit it to be done. In 1E, rather notoriously, the DMG all but just said flat-out that in detecting evil, "you can't just 'ping' people on the street and kill them if they're evil - they have to be actively doing evil, and not just casual evil but really meaningful and horrible evil, AND be high level/hit dice." It made it SO restrictive to actually detect anything evil it would be like watching a sacrifice to summon Orcus but being unable to detect evil because it was being done by 1st level NPC's. 5E just reduces it to "you detect fiends, elementals, fey, undead, etc, if they're evil, as well as evil places and objects but nothing about pinging 'people' on the street. Are we talking about some other edition that YOU think I'M misinterpreting to actually champion Lawful Stupidity and inhumane savagery in the name of "Good" when I'm actually vehemently opposed to that kind of approach?

In short I'm fairly certain that even if the technical ABILITY to "ping and kill" was possible in a particular edition it was never, EVER intended to be PERMISSIBLE for the very reasons you're railing against - it's outrageous. And I've never even HINTED that a paladin has an obligation to kill all Evil, everywhere, in every possible circumstance, heedless of chances of success or other consequence. If I did I sure didn't mean to because that's stupid. Paladins, like any PC that endeavors to do what's right, decent, good and proper, simply do what they can, when they can. But mostly what they do when they DO find evil is... kill it. That isn't a radical, new, or horrific notion and I don't fathom why it should be responded to with such skepticism and shock.

Zenzis
2019-03-18, 12:26 AM
No. The person is not currently doing those things.

And no, it isn't okay to cut the head off someone who isn't doing anything wrong at the moment. The friend is not raiding at the moment. Her last raid was months ago.

If she were standing over the corpse of a mother and about to stab a baby that would be one thing.

However, the friend is not presently doing anything wrong. And trial by combat doesn't work that way. If someone challenges you to a duel to the death on honorable grounds, you are a coward if you refuse.The friend is not a coward. She might be reluctant to kill the paladin, she might try to talk him out of it, but if push came to shove, she would be obligated to meet the challenge. Or be shamed.

Also, rape and murder happen all the time in war in middle ages. ALL. THE. TIME.

The paladin is not a 20th century person. He finds them morally wrong, but his morality is that of his time. There are no rules of war in this world except not killing people in parley and other very basic things. When an army goes to war, the general pays his soldiers with the promise of loot, stolen from the enemy they have ravaged. Part of that loot often involves captives and raping them is common.

There is no geneva convention that has been agreed on in this world. Raping captives is common practice. There are plenty of people who would never do that, of course. But the friend isn't the abhorrant monster she would be in our world. She is just an ordinary, evilly aligned soldier who was driven into her atrocities by PTSD.

Since the basic morality of this world is significantly lower, you likewise have to hold people to a lower standard.

Alexander the Great was considered a great man in his time, and possessing many noble qualities. But if someone like him lived today, he'd be a monster. You CANNOT judge medieval people by the same standards of morality that you do modern people.

If you want to write a Paladin class that has a code that allows them to be okay with rapists and murderers because of the culture of their time or whatever, then I guess go for it. It isn't like any Paladin I have heard of though. For example from the 3.5 SRD section on the Paladin code "punish those who harm or threaten innocents (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/paladin.htm)". It is mandated in the code that they are the judge, jury and executioner of people who harm and threaten to harm innocents. You really like to do slippery slopes, and you really like to try and redefine the paladin. I think the answer to your dilemma is "If you go by the typical definition of what a paladin is, they would not condone this behavior. If you decide to redefine what a paladin is in your setting, well then they would act however you say they act."

paladinofshojo
2019-03-18, 12:42 AM
Okay I feel like the problem here isnít the characters but the setting itself, I mean you canít expect characters living and raised in a world with apathetic gods ruling feudal warring fiefdoms and a demon ruling a country to be a place where a Lawful Good character can have the authority to make lasting impactful changes.

After all, if no one adheres to your moral code but yourself then you will be impotent to administer it upon others in the fashion of a paladin.

Satinavian
2019-03-18, 01:31 AM
Okay I feel like the problem here isnít the characters but the setting itself, I mean you canít expect characters living and raised in a world with apathetic gods ruling feudal warring fiefdoms and a demon ruling a country to be a place where a Lawful Good character can have the authority to make lasting impactful changes.

After all, if no one adheres to your moral code but yourself then you will be impotent to administer it upon others in the fashion of a paladin.
A paladins code usually includes "not doing evil". It usually does not include "must stop everyone else doing evil". Yes, it has something about punishing but only after "respect legitimate authority" and that authority does not need to be actually good.

You can play a paladin without power and in a society that tolerates evil. But then it should be more a game of "leading by example" and "proposing better solutions", not a game of "smiting until evil is stopped".


Paladins main stat is traditionally CHA.

AMFV
2019-03-18, 01:34 AM
A paladins code usually includes "not doing evil". It usually does not include "must stop everyone else doing evil".

You can play a paladin without power and in a society that tolerates evil. But then it should be more a game of "leading by example" and "proposing better solutions", not a game of "smiting until evil is stopped".


Paladins main stat is traditionally CHA.

Right, but if you are within arms reach of a unrepentant murdering rapist who uses torture, then it's less likely that you'd want to lead by example unless that example is "unrepentant murdering rapists who use torture should stop breathing"

Satinavian
2019-03-18, 01:46 AM
If this person is doing warcrimes as part of a rather gruesome war in the army of your country, you would be well advised to not just kill the person, you should try to use the institutions to stop it. There are military tribunals, regular courts, rulers who could persecute and punish those crimes. There are also officers and commanders who could change the directives. And there are influential groups elsewhere.

You want to change how the war is conducted or help ending the war. You won't get less atrocities by extrajudically executing one of your own soldiers and then getting hanged as a dirty traitor/saboteur while the next round of draftees continue to do the same ****.

Malifice
2019-03-18, 02:19 AM
Also it isn't grimdark.

You've created a world where rape and genocide not only are not crimes but are in fact 'the norm', and crucifixion by Orwellian Demons for minor offences is par for the course.

I'd love to know what your definition of Grimdark is if it's not that.

On second thought, No, I dont.

To answer your question the protagonist in question is both honorable, lawful, merciful, egalitarian and compassionate.

Once someone starts trying to rape or murder someone, they do everything in their power to stop them, using force as a last resort if necessary.

They dont sit by and let it happen. They dont remain friends with that person. They dont engage in it, or enable it. They actively try to stop it, at personal expense if necessary, going out of their way to do so.

Lord
2019-03-18, 06:45 AM
Nevermind. Badly thought out post.

AMFV
2019-03-18, 09:01 AM
If this person is doing warcrimes as part of a rather gruesome war in the army of your country, you would be well advised to not just kill the person, you should try to use the institutions to stop it. There are military tribunals, regular courts, rulers who could persecute and punish those crimes. There are also officers and commanders who could change the directives. And there are influential groups elsewhere.

In this case the state is sanctioning the war crimes though. That's the issue. Yes, the Paladin should try to affect societal change, but that's a tall order. He may or may not be able to do that, but he can certainly stop this one person from continuing her rampage.



You want to change how the war is conducted or help ending the war. You won't get less atrocities by extrajudically executing one of your own soldiers and then getting hanged as a dirty traitor/saboteur while the next round of draftees continue to do the same ****.

Yes, that's the big goal, but in the little goalspace, you want to stop this particular powerful individual, she's more powerful than your average draftee and the draftees might not continue in her footsteps.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 09:14 AM
The paladin doesn't have to do anything but offer advice and keep to his own business, The paladin code applies only to him. Paladins shouldn't judge others to obey his votes or moral code.

At most The paladin should explain his situation, his conflict of interest, and in case the warrior lady doesn't change her ways, leave.

Even if this lady is somewhat evil (Which I don't think she is) is her right to be so.

AMFV
2019-03-18, 09:39 AM
The paladin doesn't have to do anything but offer advice and keep to his own business, The paladin code applies only to him. Paladins shouldn't judge others to obey his votes or moral code.

The Paladin has a responsibility to protect the innocent, protecting the innocent includes preventing the rape and torture of prisoners.



At most The paladin should explain his situation, his conflict of interest, and in case the warrior lady doesn't change her ways, leave.


Explaining should definitely be likely the first step, unless there isn't time (because she is currently trying to rape or torture somebody). But he can't leave, this person is his friend and he has a chance to stop her, that makes it his responsibility, that's what Paladins do.



Even if this lady is somewhat evil (Which I don't think she is) is her right to be so.

You don't think a UNREPENTANT RAPIST MURDERER AND TORTURER is evil? I don't know if you've got the right mindset to play as a Paladin then. That's pretty much textbook evil, even in the middle ages or similar settings.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 09:40 AM
The paladin doesn't have to do anything but offer advice and keep to his own business, The paladin code applies only to him. Paladins shouldn't judge others to obey his votes or moral code.

At most The paladin should explain his situation, his conflict of interest, and in case the warrior lady doesn't change her ways, leave.

Even if this lady is somewhat evil (Which I don't think she is) is her right to be so.

In 4e, maybe. In other editions the code typically demands a paladin "punish those who harm or threaten innocents".

"Other people have the right to be evil" - maybe. But a paladin has a duty to oppose evil - with violence, if necessary.

Satinavian
2019-03-18, 09:40 AM
In this case the state is sanctioning the war crimes though. That's the issue. Yes, the Paladin should try to affect societal change, but that's a tall order. He may or may not be able to do that, but he can certainly stop this one person from continuing her rampage.If the state is sanctioning it as a price worth paying for victory, the paladin has to accept that. He can disagree with it but it is not his call to make but that of the legitimate ruler. Much more than making his displeasure widely and often known is not compatible with the paladin codex.

That is why paladins make bad rulers. They can't do things seemed necessary if those things are evil. They are simply not able to choose the best options to protect and help their own subjects if someone else gets hurt.

Yes, that's the big goal, but in the little goalspace, you want to stop this particular powerful individual, she's more powerful than your average draftee and the draftees might not continue in her footsteps.She got that way by being in the army and doing what the army does. She pings evil now because of the atrocities that are now commonplace at the frontline. New recruits will have to do excatly the same stuff and likely earn their evil tag the same way.
That the person is powerful chances things only insofar as it makes winning the war less likely by killing her. And makes everyone hate the paladin for helping the enemy which will make it much more difficult to ever change the way the war is fought diplomatically.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 09:50 AM
The Paladin has a responsibility to protect the innocent, protecting the innocent includes preventing the rape and torture of prisoners.



Explaining should definitely be likely the first step, unless there isn't time (because she is currently trying to rape or torture somebody). But he can't leave, this person is his friend and he has a chance to stop her, that makes it his responsibility, that's what Paladins do.



You don't think a UNREPENTANT RAPIST MURDERER AND TORTURER is evil? I don't know if you've got the right mindset to play as a Paladin then. That's pretty much textbook evil, even in the middle ages or similar settings.

Am going according to what the Op has posted, he himself said that this behaviour would be legal and accepted, therefore, it doesn't matter what I think, a paladin that lives in such society wouldn't find that behaviour evil

And please, relax with the big letters, this is just a debate for fun, there is no need to get outraged by it.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 09:52 AM
If the state is sanctioning it as a price worth paying for victory, the paladin has to accept that. He can disagree with it but it is not his call to make but that of the legitimate ruler.

A big part of what makes paladins paladins, is the perspective that "When the legitimate authority sanctions severe evil, they cease to be legitimate authority".

A paladin has an obligation to oppose, possibly violently, a ruler who sanctions severe evil.

Mild evil, a paladin won't do themselves, but they won't make a huge fuss over.

he himself said that this behaviour would be legal and accepted, therefore, it doesn't matter what I think, a paladin that lives in such society wouldn't find that behaviour evil


Severe Evil that is "legal and accepted" by society, won't be accepted by paladins - otherwise they wouldn't have been able to take that first level in Paladin in the first place.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 09:59 AM
Severe Evil that is "legal and accepted" by society, won't be accepted by paladins - otherwise they wouldn't have been able to take that first level in Paladin in the first place.

Why? The paladin is part of this society, is friends with an allegedly evil person, and is at war. If things were as you describe them, he would have already lost his paladin powers, but he hasn't. Therefore He can abide to his own conscience and the laws he lives by.

As I understand it, the central point to the OP's setting is that there isn't an objective evil or goodness. Therefore the paladin only needs to worry of himself being as virtuous as he chooses to be.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 10:01 AM
The implication is that the paladin has only recently discovered that their friend has been committing atrocities.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 10:02 AM
The implication is that the paladin has only recently discovered that their friend has been committing atrocities.

Then he should inform it to his superiors, denounce the evil person, and move on with his life.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 10:09 AM
Then he should inform it to his superiors, denounce the evil person, and move on with his life.



The impression I get is that the paladin is possibly the only paladin in their society - they don't have paladin superiors within the society to whom they can "pass the buck".

And since the society is mostly ok with the actions:

The paladin figures out after a bit that his friend's alignment has shifted from neutral good to chaotic evil.
Basically what happened is that she was never a very stable person, to begin with. And she ended up under the command of a psychotic general who forced his men to commit atrocities. In the process of following orders, she had a mental breakdown and got a taste for it. She proceeded to participate in a series of raids and become completely axe crazy.
But, and here is the crux of the issue, the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society. The paladin finds her actions distasteful, but rape and murder are just part of war in this world. This is a dark ages style world with a much lower standard of morality. As a result, he doesn't have the same horror at her actions that we in the modern day have, though he does want them to stop. He also believes that her actions will result in an early grave for her, and possibly her damnation.



denunciation is pointless - their friend's seniors are sanctioning raids, and turning a blind eye to atrocities committed during the raids.



Since her evil deeds are just considered the cost of doing business in war, there is no direct legal means to shut her down. According to the law, she has done nothing wrong, and the warrior culture practically encourages her raids, if not her atrocities.
So, bearing all this in mind, what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?

And "passing the buck" is not a paladinly thing to do, in any case.

Satinavian
2019-03-18, 10:14 AM
A big part of what makes paladins paladins, is the perspective that "When the legitimate authority sanctions severe evil, they cease to be legitimate authority".

A paladin has an obligation to oppose, possibly violently, a ruler who sanctions severe evil.
Nope.

A paladin is not required to follow the laws of an illegitime gouvernment.

And a paladin is allowed to oppose an outright evil gouvernment, even if that is lgitimate.

But doing or being evil does never change legitimacy. Legitimacy has the latin root for law in it for a reason. It is a thing about law and tradition, not about good and evil.

Also neutral and even good people that are no paladins are allowed the occasional evil act. A gouvernment that looks the other way when soldiers vital for the war effort commit crimes against the enemy and/or hands out as many pardons as necessary is not necessarily evil itself.


The only thing in the 3.x paladin codex that really makes a problem in this case is the "must not associate with evil" clause. Which means, the paladin has to terminate the friendship.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 10:14 AM
The impression I get is that the paladin is possibly the only paladin in their society - they don't have paladin superiors within the society to whom they can "pass the buck".

And since the society is mostly ok with the actions, denunciation is pointless - their friend's seniors are sanctioning raids, and turning a blind eye to atrocities committed during the raids.

And "passing the buck" is not a paladinly thing to do, in any case.

IF that were the case (And I don't get the feeling that it is) and he is the first and only paladin. then he should do whatever he feels is right, therefore setting the standard for all paladins to come.

He feels it is okay? then that's the new standard for paladins and paladins should uphold values of friendship for years to come.

He feels it is wrong but has to go by legal means? then that's the new standard and paladins for years to come will work as agents of law, politicians and social workers

He feels is wrong and will execute the evildoer? Then that's the new standard for paladins for years to come. Now Paladins will be Police judge and executioners.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 10:18 AM
"The only" can be the only one in the present-day society, rather than in the history of the world.


The impression I get is that the paladin has been separated from their society for years, and so has not been present when it became corrupt.


IF that were the case (And I don't get the feeling that it is) and he is the first and only paladin. then he should do whatever he feels is right, therefore setting the standard for all paladins to come.

That's not how D&D works - paladins don't get to make up a moral code - they have to follow an existing one.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 10:20 AM
"The only" can be the only one in the present-day society, rather than in the history of the world.


The impression I get is that the paladin has been separated from their society for years, and so has not been present when it became corrupt.

That's an even bigger assumption, since the one that was described as being separated was the evil person wasn't it?

And even then, if he is the only one in his society, he might as well be the first one in history. Whatever he thinks is right, or good, will be right and good.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 10:21 AM
That's not how D&D works - paladins don't get to make up a moral code - they have to follow an existing one.

We don't know what is the code, do we? If we did, then the answer is quite simple. Follow that code.

EDIT: Actually, D&D Works in whatever way the table agrees that it works.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 10:25 AM
We don't know what is the code, do we?

The usual code in editions that had a code, boiled down to "punish those who do evil" (especially against the innocent) and "protect the innocent".


Whatever he thinks is right, or good, will be right and good.

Nope - if a paladin does what they think is good, but it's actually evil, they will lose their powers - because the "cosmic forces of Law & Good" took them away.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 10:31 AM
The usual code in editions that had a code, boiled down to "punish those who do evil" (especially against the innocent) and "protect the innocent".

But is that the case? The op has already said this isn't any particular game, maybe it isn't even D&D and even then 5e has different codes depending on whatever flavor you which.

Anyway, the paladin in my opinion should

1- Speak to the evil person, show her the wrong of her ways.
2- Report the evil to autorities in charge
3- Denounce the evil to society at large.
4- Make a political movement in order to change the power that rule so this evilness is appropiately punished and looked down upon.

In the meantime of achieving this revolution he should make sure the evil person in question doesn't hurt others and try to make ammends to those affected by the evil person's actions.


Nope - if a paladin does what they think is good, but it's actually evil, they will lose their powers - because the "cosmic forces of Law & Good" took them away.

Then he will seek redemption and now learn of whatever the actual good and just way was, that way he will in the future act accordingly.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 10:57 AM
I think BoED said it best:


BoED: page 11: "Being Ahead Of Your Time"

Heroic characters often end up at odds with their culture and society. The standards expected of good characters in D&D, especially those who lay claim to exalted status, bear much more similarity to modern sensibilities about justice, equality, and respect for life than to the actual medieval world that D&D is loosely based on, and that is quite intentional. It is certainly possible that your campaign world might be a more enlightened place than medieval Europe - a place where men and women are considered equal, slavery is not practiced in any form, torture and capital punishment are shunned, and the various human and humanoid races live together in harmony. In such a case, an exalted character can live in relative peace with her culture, and focus her attention on slaying evil creatures in ruins and dungeons or rival, evil nations.

On the other hand, your campaign world might more closely reflect the realities of life in Earthís Dark or Middle Ages. Perhaps women are not viewed as menís equals or even sentient beings in their own right, slavery is widespread, testimony from serfs is only acceptable if extracted through torture, and humans of a certain skin tone (let along nonhumans) are viewed as demonic creatures. It is vitally important to remember one thing: these factors donít change anything else said in this chapter (or in the Book of Vile Darkness) about what constitutes a good or evil deed. Even if slavery, torture, or discrimination are condoned by society, they remain evil. That simply means that an exalted character has an even harder road to follow. Not only must she worry about external evils like conjured demons and rampaging orc hordes, she must also contend with the evil within her own society.

In all likelihood, most human (and halfling) societies fall somewhere between the two extremes described above. In game terms, humans tend to be neutral, neither good or evil. Human societies might tolerate a variety of evil practices, even if some humans find them distasteful. In such a circumstance, an exalted character is still at odds with the norms of her society and may occasionally find herself in conflict with it, but she can devote her time and attention to dealing with evil acts, either inside or outside her society, rather than trying to reform an entire nation or culture.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 11:00 AM
I think BoED said it best:

Sorry, what is the relevance of that?

That's just the opinion of whoever wrote that article, and doesn't have any weight on a table unless the participant on it choose it to have.

PaladinX
2019-03-18, 12:20 PM
But, and here is the crux of the issue, the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society.

I think this sentence is the real issue. Particularly the last part. "Standards of her Society" surely includes the divine standards. Unless the culture is out of sync with the divine, but that wouldn't make logical sense.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 12:26 PM
I think this sentence is the real issue. Particularly the last part. "Standards of her Society" surely includes the divine standards. Unless the culture is out of sync with the divine, but that wouldn't make logical sense.

If most of the gods are evil-leaning, then the paladin may be receiving power from one of the few non-evil-leaning gods - and thus have standards that differ radically from the rest of their society.

Or, their power may come from the "cosmic forces of Law and Good" rather than any specific deity. As is normal in 3e.

Satinavian
2019-03-18, 12:32 PM
Humans are not good. Humans are neutral and so are most human societies. And they can very much be that way without being out of sync with the divine.

A typical paladin would have standards that most societies would think are far to strict to actually practice.



Also, keep in mind that in the scenario in the beginning, the atricities of the army are not normal and accepted by the society. They were started with some psychotic general and the now evil officer had some emotional breakdown when witnessing them.

It is just that gouvernment and society seem to think "winning the war" and not being ruled by some demon and with everpresent threat of crucifying is worth not prosecuting their most capaple and powerful commanders.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 12:41 PM
I feel like the op hasn't given enough info on the setting and the paladin's oath for us to give good comments.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 12:53 PM
Also, keep in mind that in the scenario in the beginning, the atricities of the army are not normal and accepted by the society. They were started with some psychotic general and the now evil officer had some emotional breakdown when witnessing them.

It is just that gouvernment and society seem to think "winning the war" and not being ruled by some demon and with everpresent threat of crucifying is worth not prosecuting their most capaple and powerful commanders.

The implication here:


the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society. The paladin finds her actions distasteful, but rape and murder are just part of war in this world. This is a dark ages style world with a much lower standard of morality.

is that the "psychotic general" was not an aberration.

paladinofshojo
2019-03-18, 01:12 PM
A paladins code usually includes "not doing evil". It usually does not include "must stop everyone else doing evil". Yes, it has something about punishing but only after "respect legitimate authority" and that authority does not need to be actually good.

You can play a paladin without power and in a society that tolerates evil. But then it should be more a game of "leading by example" and "proposing better solutions", not a game of "smiting until evil is stopped".


Paladins main stat is traditionally CHA.

Okay, but how exactly will you play such a character, if no legitimate authority respects your notions and concepts of virtue and goodness then you cannot back up your morality with the authority to impose it.

As such you can not administer justice then because that is something defined by society and not the individual. All you can do is start fights and beat down people whom you donít agree with.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 01:32 PM
A paladins code usually includes "not doing evil". It usually does not include "must stop everyone else doing evil".

If someone is doing evil to the innocent, and you don't at least try and stop them, you are failing to "help those in need" which is one of the things demanded by the code (at least in 3.5 and earlier).

zinycor
2019-03-18, 01:59 PM
If someone is doing evil to the innocent, and you don't at least try and stop them, you are failing to "help those in need" which is one of the things demanded by the code (at least in 3.5 and earlier).

Again, this "3.5 and earlier" talk is irrelevant since we don't know what the parameters for being a paladin are on the op's world.

Zenzis
2019-03-18, 02:01 PM
I think BoED said it best:

That is a solid quote about the issue.


Sorry, what is the relevance of that?

That's just the opinion of whoever wrote that article, and doesn't have any weight on a table unless the participant on it choose it to have.

The Book of Exalted Deeds is a sourcebook not an article. It is true that like any rule in D&D, it has no weight unless the participants choose to have it. Here is a relevant quote from the 3.5 SRD about the paladin code though:
"punish those who harm or threaten innocents."


Again, this "3.5 and earlier" talk is irrelevant since we don't know what the parameters for being a paladin are on the op's world.

I don't think there is really any way to argue "If you decide to change what the paladin code is, then the paladin can do whatever you want in this situation," which seems to be the crux of most of what you have posted. If I say paladins shoot lasers out of their eyes in my setting, then that's fine, sounds like an exciting setting. But if I ask if it is normal for paladins to shoot lasers out of there eyes then people are probably going to say no and cite things that don't mention paladins having laser shooting abilities. Arguing well its my setting and paladins can shoot laser out of their eyes as a result of the world they are in, then well sure we are back to square one.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 02:06 PM
Plus it seems clear from the OP:


what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?

that the paladin has some kind of commitment to stopping evil deeds. Which suggests a fairly mainstream paladin interpretation.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 02:47 PM
Plus it seems clear from the OP:



that the paladin has some kind of commitment to stopping evil deeds. Which suggests a fairly mainstream paladin interpretation.

I don't see the mainstream on


The impression I get is that the paladin is possibly the only paladin in their society. (...)

And I have already given a pretty standard paladin way of acting, that doesn't depend on a sourcebook that may or may not be relevant, only based on the things that ccan be determined from a standard definition of paladin, being that they are good and lawful.



Anyway, the paladin in my opinion should

1- Speak to the evil person, show her the wrong of her ways.
2- Report the evil to autorities in charge
3- Denounce the evil to society at large.
4- Make a political movement in order to change the power that rule so this evilness is appropiately punished and looked down upon.

In the meantime of achieving this revolution he should make sure the evil person in question doesn't hurt others and try to make ammends to those affected by the evil person's actions.


And to answer to Zenzis, the crux of my argument is wether a paladin is under the obligation to hunt down whoever he percieves as evil, despite every other consideration. Because apparently, just denouncing this evil person's actions to an autorithy would be "Passing the buck" and therefore an un-paladin like thing to do.... Which I don't get at all.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 02:49 PM
apparently, just denouncing this evil person's actions to an autorithy would be "Passing the buck" and therefore an un-paladin like thing to do....

If the OP knows that the local authority is not likely to do anything - then denouncing becomes pointless.

And the OP did make it clear that the evil actions are considered legal:



Since her evil deeds are just considered the cost of doing business in war, there is no direct legal means to shut her down. According to the law, she has done nothing wrong, and the warrior culture practically encourages her raids, if not her atrocities.

Verappo
2019-03-18, 02:56 PM
This is just a flow o my thoughts on the situation, so sorry if it reads rambly.

If the paladin has no personal code, then they are a guard. If they don't believe that preventing those actions they find distasteful is necessary, then what do they believe in?

Unless they're an outright evil paladin (in which case, why find those actions bad?) or a purely lawful one (which again, would make them more of a guard), I'd say their first action would be to prevent the friend from doing any more harm, first of all. If they feel their society is not equipped/willing to handle a criminal, the paladin would probably try to take it upon themselves to try and contain or somehow rehabilitate their friend. The paladin sacrifices time and effort to make sure that their view of the world will stick. The friend gradually becomes less murderous and makes what amends she can, we all learn a great lesson about redemption and the power of friendship, everyone's happy (save from those people she hurt). This is a fantasy setting, so that should probably be an option.

If the friend still shows no swillingness to stop her evil deeds, then the paladin will want to prevent her from making more victims. This turns into a tragedy where childhood friends have to fight and we all cry.

Still, I'm skeptical of this society that has absolutely no moral compass to see that sexual violence and murder aren't ok, regardless of time setting. What does this "God of travel and trade who is a pretty swell guy" think of that? How's life when/where there's no war? Why haven't the people rebelled asking for better conditions yet? Is there no one who shares the Paladin's concerns?

Also, what do the victims think?

zinycor
2019-03-18, 02:56 PM
If the OP knows that the local authority is not likely to do anything - then denouncing becomes pointless.

And the OP did make it clear that the evil actions are considered legal:

And what about communicating the evil actions to the people at large and letting them judge what is right or wrong instead of a local autorithy? That way the paladin could act in behalf of the people instead of acting alone doing whatever he thinks is right. Which, unless his oath grants him autorithy to do so, would be a chaotic behaviour.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 02:58 PM
This is just a flow o my thoughts on the situation, so sorry if it reads rambly.

If the paladin has no personal code, then they are a guard. If they don't believe that preventing those actions they find distasteful is necessary, then what do they believe in?

Unless they're an outright evil paladin (in which case, why find those actions bad?) or a purely lawful one (which again, would make them more of a guard), I'd say their first action would be to prevent the friend from doing any more harm, first of all. If they feel their society is not equipped/willing to handle a criminal, the paladin would probably try to take it upon themselves to try and contain or somehow rehabilitate their friend. The paladin sacrifices time and effort to make sure that their view of the world will stick. The friend gradually becomes less murderous and makes what amends she can, we all learn a great lesson about redemption and the power of friendship, everyone's happy (save from those people she hurt). This is a fantasy setting, so that should probably be an option.

If the friend still shows no swillingness to stop her evil deeds, then the paladin will want to prevent her from making more victims. This turns into a tragedy where childhood friends have to fight and we all cry.

Still, I'm skeptical of this society that has absolutely no moral compass to see that sexual violence and murder aren't ok, regardless of time setting. What does this "God of travel and trade who is a pretty swell guy" think of that? How's life when there's no war? Why haven't the people rebelled asking for better conditions yet? Is there no one who shares the Paladin's concerns?

yeah, I do agree with you, this seems like the best way to handle the problem.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 02:59 PM
Still, I'm skeptical of this society that has absolutely no moral compass to see that sexual violence and murder aren't ok, regardless of time setting.

The Dothraki from A Song of Ice & Fire are pretty close to this.


If they feel their society is not equipped/willing to handle a criminal, the paladin would probably try to take it upon themselves to try and contain or somehow rehabilitate their friend. The paladin sacrifices time and effort to make sure that their view of the world will stick. The friend gradually becomes less murderous and makes what amends she can, we all learn a great lesson about redemption and the power of friendship, everyone's happy (save from those people she hurt). This is a fantasy setting, so that should probably be an option.

If the friend still shows no swillingness to stop her evil deeds, then the paladin will want to prevent her from making more victims. This turns into a tragedy where childhood friends have to fight and we all cry.

Which is kind of the point - if they remain unrepentant after efforts from the paladin to redeem them - the paladin will have to kill them, imprison them, or forcibly change their alignment, regardless of how legal their actions were, and how illegal any of the paladin's options are.

Sometimes paladins have to break the law.

Talakeal
2019-03-18, 03:02 PM
Is this truly a hypothetical question? There seems to be a lot of very specific and very extraneous detail for a pure hypothetical.


As for the dilemma, this individual must come to know himself and learn whether he is a paladin or if he is this woman's friend, and then terminate the one that is not part of his true self. This is truly a situation where there cannot be two skies.




I don't think there is really any way to argue "If you decide to change what the paladin code is, then the paladin can do whatever you want in this situation," which seems to be the crux of most of what you have posted. If I say paladins shoot lasers out of their eyes in my setting, then that's fine, sounds like an exciting setting. But if I ask if it is normal for paladins to shoot lasers out of there eyes then people are probably going to say no and cite things that don't mention paladins having laser shooting abilities. Arguing well its my setting and paladins can shoot laser out of their eyes as a result of the world they are in, then well sure we are back to square one.

I don't know about you, but laser paladins was precisely how we read the Divine Challange ability in 4e.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 03:07 PM
The Dothraki from A Song of Ice & Fire are pretty close to this.



Which is kind of the point - if they remain unrepentant after efforts from the paladin to redeem them - the paladin will have to kill them, imprison them, or forcibly change their alignment, regardless of how legal their actions were, and how illegal any of the paladin's options are.

Sometimes paladins have to break the law.

What? Since when do paladins break the law? Aren't they lawful? Wouldn't the answer be to change the law instead of breaking it?

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 03:11 PM
Save My Game: Lawful and Chaotic (http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a)


First of all, let's be clear about one important concept: Lawful does not necessarily mean "adheres to the letter of the law." A law (or body of laws) is merely a rule that a government imposes on those who are subject to its power. A lawful alignment, on the other hand, represents an orderly approach to matters of ethics and personal conduct. Most lawful characters do respect the order that the laws of the realm represent, but adherence to local ordinances is only one way of demonstrating a lawful alignment.

To be lawful is to be in favor of conformity and consistency, to act in a systematic and uniform fashion, and to take responsibility. As a lawful person, you establish patterns and precedents and stick to them unless you can see a good reason to do otherwise. Methodical efficiency is your byword, and you believe in the concept of duty. You plan and organize your activities to achieve particular goals, not just to satisfy impulsive desires. You believe a proper way exists to accomplish any goal, though it may not always be the traditional, tried-and-true way. Likewise, you cultivate long-term relationships and endeavor to build trust between your associates and yourself. As a lawful person, you recognize that most laws have valid purposes that promote social order, but you are not necessarily bound to obey them to the letter. In particular, if you are both good and lawful, you have no respect for a law is unfair or capricious.


Solution 1: Laws and the PC

Any character might fear the consequences of breaking a local law, especially when the authorities rule with an iron hand. Very few characters, however, should make important decisions based solely on the legality of the choices. For a lawful good character such as a paladin, achieving goals in the right way -- that is, in a way that promotes the general welfare and doesn't unnecessarily imperil others -- is the most important consideration. For a chaotic character, the most expedient action is generally the most appropriate one, whether or not it is legal. A chaotic good character takes pains to ensure that others are not harmed by his actions, but a chaotic neutral or chaotic evil one cares about little besides personal convenience.

Solution 2: The Paladin's Code

Now let's address the question of how the paladin's code of conduct governs her actions. A paladin is both lawful and good, and she must uphold both aspects of her alignment. Thus, if the laws in a particular realm are corrupt and evil, she is under no obligation to obey them.

It's safe to say that a law that legalises rape in war, is corrupt and evil.

Verappo
2019-03-18, 03:14 PM
The Dothraki from A Song of Ice & Fire are pretty close to this.
I guess, though I don't personally think the Dothraki are the best-written group of people that George RR Martin wrote. The Grass Sea spreads almost as large as Westeros, and he wants me to believe these scattered groups of nomads all share the same exactly homogenous sets of beliefs? I do hope that Winds of Winter will shed more light on their society, given where Dany is at.



Which is kind of the point - if they remain unrepentant after efforts from the paladin to redeem them - the paladin will have to kill them, imprison them, or forcibly change their alignment, regardless of how legal their actions were, and how illegal any of the paladin's options are.

Sometimes paladins have to break the law.

I agree! That's sort of the point of paladins (and superheroes) in stories. It's the individual made heroic. It's Brienne's "No chance and no choice" statement

zinycor
2019-03-18, 03:16 PM
Save My Game: Lawful and Chaotic (http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a)



It's safe to say that a law that legalises rape in war, is corrupt and evil.

And at what point does the article adress the fact that the paladin would break the law? And how are rules that prevent people killing each other over whatever they feel to be justice in any way evil?

I am not saying that the paladin should let the problem go, but to break the law and take action in his hands seems like a step too far.

woweedd
2019-03-18, 03:16 PM
In the words of Captain America, a paladin if ever there was one:
"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world -- "No, YOU move.Ē

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 03:22 PM
And at what point does the article adress the fact that the paladin would break the law?

"if you are both good and lawful, you have no respect for a law (that) is unfair or capricious."
"if the laws in a particular realm are corrupt and evil, she is under no obligation to obey them."

zinycor
2019-03-18, 03:26 PM
"if you are both good and lawful, you have no respect for a law (that) is unfair or capricious."
"if the laws in a particular realm are corrupt and evil, she is under no obligation to obey them."

Should I ask again?

How is it unfair or capriciuous, evil or corrupt a law that makes it so you can't just go ahead and kill whoever you feel like for what this single person feels as wrong.?

The paladin should change the laws that are wrong, not become judge jury and executioner with no autorithy whatsoever.

Zenzis
2019-03-18, 03:41 PM
Should I ask again?

How is it unfair or capriciuous, evil or corrupt a law that makes it so you can't just go ahead and kill whoever you feel like for what this single person feels as wrong.?


The paladin in question is killing a rapist and murderer who will continue to rape and murder, after other options of stopping them have been exhausted. You are way overgeneralizing that into a point that to argue with a point no one is making.

Now that I think about it, does the OP even say killing this person is against the law? This society doesn't mind the rape and murder apparently, so why are we even assuming that the paladin would be breaking the law killing the rapist and murderer?

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 03:41 PM
Their "authority" comes from the cosmic forces of law and good (especially good) that have granted them their powers.

They can face secular consequences for breaking the law, but unless their act is so Chaotic as to change their alignment from Lawful, they won't face divine consequences (the loss of their powers) for breaking the law.

This society doesn't mind the rape and murder apparently, so why are we even assuming that the paladin would be breaking the law killing the rapist and murderer?

Presumably it's legal because it's members of an enemy nation - doing so to members of one's own nation would not be legal.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 03:47 PM
The paladin in question is killing a rapist and murderer who will continue to rape and murder, after other options of stopping them have been exhausted. You are way overgeneralizing that into a point that to argue with a point no one is making.

How is it overgeneralizing? Killing people over whatever cause is normally illegal unless you are in a position of authority and after very special circumstances. I say that if the laws allow this person to rape and kill whoever he wants, the paladins efforts should go to change the laws rather than taking the law on his own hands.


Now that I think about it, does the OP even say killing this person is against the law? This society doesn't mind the rape and murder apparently, so why are we even assuming that the paladin would be breaking the law killing the rapist and murderer?

That's a fair point, if there aren't any laws against it, the paladin could just kill the rapist.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 03:53 PM
I say that if the laws allow this person to rape and kill whoever he wants, the paladins efforts should go to change the laws rather than taking the law on his own hands.

Paladins are not politicians, or lawyers - they are warriors. The game is Dungeons and Dragons, not Laws & Lawyers.

Their job is to prevent evil, and punish evildoers. Nothing ever said about "only allowed to prevent illegal evils"

zinycor
2019-03-18, 03:57 PM
Paladins are not politicians, or lawyers - they are warriors. The game is Dungeons and Dragons, not Laws & Lawyers.

Their job is to prevent evil, and punish evildoers. Nothing ever said about "only allowed to prevent illegal evils"

And under normal circumstances you would be right, however in my opinion this is the sort of situation where weapons would not bring the problem to a good solution, and the game would have to turn into L&L for a while in order to get to a satisfying ending.

And in my scenario he is preventing evils, just not with his sword.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 03:59 PM
Words first - but weapons as backup, since words may end up not doing the job.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 04:02 PM
Words first - but weapons as backup, since words may end up not doing the job.

Why? isn't Charisma the main stat for a paladin? and even then he should be able to move the people in order to create a revolution to change the laws of the land to better reflect true goodness, which could end up being a whole adventure by itself.

This inerpretation of a paladin as a brute and sociopath would fit better for a Templar, rather than the D&D idea of a Paladin.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 04:06 PM
isn't Charisma the main stat for a paladin?

Yes. But most of the time, it's being used in combat, to make their Smites hit harder. Paladins have so few Skill points that they won't necessarily be able to spare them to spend on Diplomacy.


This inerpretation of a paladin as a brute and sociopath would fit better for a Templar, rather than the D&D idea of a Paladin.

The D&D idea of a paladin is, first and foremost, of a battler of those who are evil. It's not sociopathic to be prepared to battle evil, when trying to redeem it with words doesn't work.

D&D is very combat-centric.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 04:08 PM
Yes. But most of the time, it's being used in combat, to make their Smites hit harder. Paladins have so few Skill points that they won't necessarily be able to spare them to spend on Diplomacy.

again, you are focusing on a system, where the op hasn't stated one.

On 5e for example the paladin player wouldn't have that problem, nor would he have that problem on AD&D.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 04:13 PM
The D&D idea of a paladin is, first and foremost, of a battler of those who are evil. It's not sociopathic to be prepared to battle evil, when trying to redeem it with words doesn't work.

D&D is very combat-centric.

And that idea works perfectly on tipycal D&D scenarios, sadly this isn't a tipycal D&D scenario, it presents moral choices and problems with corruption as well as trauma, not to mention personal relation to the person being judged. Is D&D the best system to deal with this problem? NO, But many times one has to stop war game to make room for roleplaying and what being Lawful Good truly means.

Taking the easy route and just killing everyone who doesn't agree with you, isn't very paladin like.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 04:19 PM
Taking the easy route and just killing everyone who doesn't agree with you, isn't very paladin like.
Defending a rape victim from would-be rapists, using lethal force (once all the attempts to convince the would-be rapists that rape, even of enemies, is wrong have failed), sounds very paladinly to me.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 04:22 PM
Defending a rape victim from would-be rapists, using lethal force (once all the attempts to convince the would-be rapists that rape, even of enemies, is wrong have failed), sounds very paladinly to me.

To me too, but we haven't stated that to be the case.

hamishspence
2019-03-18, 04:42 PM
I'm not saying that the paladin shouldn't try to "redeem" their friend - but I am saying that paladins, when forced to choose between the needs of the innocent, and the friend, should choose the innocent.

Paladins will protect the innocent they see under attack, even if it's the friend attacking them. "Protect the innocent" doesn't have provisos built into it.

A paladin who says of major evil "if it's my friend doing it, I'll let them, because I value my friend more" is a fallen paladin in the making.

Verappo
2019-03-18, 04:42 PM
I mean, even with the paladin following a more lawful route in trying to change society, they'd still need to protest and probably riot to get the ruling class to listen. I'm guessing someone is benefiting off of that kind of corruption at least, so they'd probably have a problem giving up their power. That would make the "peaceful" option not viable through lawfulness alone.

Movies and other media tend to be oversaturated with tales of a single hero punching through complex issues, so it does well to be critical of stories with an exclusively individualistic focus sometimes. A solution to that is perhaps to centre the story on the community that is hurt by the suff that this society let's slide, so the victims of the paladin's friend, disillusioned soldiers or unhappy citizens. The paladin can't be the only one to find the murdering and torturing unsavory.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-18, 06:09 PM
I think some people here have an unrealistic expectation of what the paladin in this setting should be able to accomplish. The paladin probably isn't going to reform the society, convert (a substantial number of) people to his ideals, or make a meaningful difference in this society. In fact, he's probably not even going to be able to lead a long healthy life. He's probably going to die and be called a traitor and mocked for his efforts. But just maybe, in the process of standing up for what's right, maybe he inspires others to do the same and take up the cause after he's gone, and maybe they inspire others, and maybe one day real change will happen. It is not the paladin's job to compromise with evil, or placate evil, or respect their laws.

There's a reason I like this as the paladin's theme song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNJtTKdUec

zinycor
2019-03-18, 06:51 PM
I think some people here have an unrealistic expectation of what the paladin in this setting should be able to accomplish. The paladin probably isn't going to reform the society, convert (a substantial number of) people to his ideals, or make a meaningful difference in this society. In fact, he's probably not even going to be able to lead a long healthy life. He's probably going to die and be called a traitor and mocked for his efforts. But just maybe, in the process of standing up for what's right, maybe he inspires others to do the same and take up the cause after he's gone, and maybe they inspire others, and maybe one day real change will happen. It is not the paladin's job to compromise with evil, or placate evil, or respect their laws.

There's a reason I like this as the paladin's theme song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNJtTKdUec

Why isn't the paladin going to be able to reform society, convert people to his ideals or make a meaningful difference in this society?

If changing the world is imposible... then the paladin isn't a hero, none of the characters are. At that point, what is the point of playing a sandbox game?

woweedd
2019-03-18, 07:50 PM
Personally, i'm guessing an ideal paladin would probably avoid killing under most circumstances, but, if they had compelling evidence that a person is a murderous rapist, murdering them would be Chaotic, but not Evil.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-18, 09:14 PM
Why isn't the paladin going to be able to reform society, convert people to his ideals or make a meaningful difference in this society?

If changing the world is imposible... then the paladin isn't a hero, none of the characters are. At that point, what is the point of playing a sandbox game?

Why can't Batman make Gotham into a crime free paradise? Because the scope is too vast. It doesn't make you not a hero if you can't fix the world. You scale down your expectations and do what you good you can do. You stop this one villain and make the world just a little bit better. And then eventually you probably get crushed because the system is vast and powerful and you're small and insignificant. But that doesn't erase what good you have managed to do in your life.

zinycor
2019-03-18, 09:27 PM
Why can't Batman make Gotham into a crime free paradise? Because the scope is too vast. It doesn't make you not a hero if you can't fix the world. You scale down your expectations and do what you good you can do. You stop this one villain and make the world just a little bit better. And then eventually you probably get crushed because the system is vast and powerful and you're small and insignificant. But that doesn't erase what good you have managed to do in your life.

Batman is a whole other discussion, since he actually could do a lot better getting rid of crime within gotham city if he wasn't a caped crusader xD But that's besides the point.

What I stated was just my opinion, as it was for me the most lawful and good way to approach the dilemma, any other person may come to a completely different answer, which wouldn't be any worse or better.

My focus was to answer the dilemma without trying to link the method to a particular system and trying to stay good, lawful, and logical.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 07:09 AM
Okay, but how exactly will you play such a character, if no legitimate authority respects your notions and concepts of virtue and goodness then you cannot back up your morality with the authority to impose it.

As such you can not administer justice then because that is something defined by society and not the individual. All you can do is start fights and beat down people whom you donít agree with.
You can life your morality for your own and not forcefully impose it on others. That is what i always thought was the normal way to play paladins.
You are also still able to violently fight the kind of evil that is harmful/an enemy to your society. And help people. There is hardly any society who does not want you helping people. And depending on which rules your society has for the proper way to handle internal conflicts, you can also use that.


I don't know where the strange idea comes from that paladins get authority to enforce stuff based on their charcter class.


If someone is doing evil to the innocent, and you don't at least try and stop them, you are failing to "help those in need" which is one of the things demanded by the code (at least in 3.5 and earlier).
In the same sentence the 3.5 code demands respept for legitimate authority. And this kind of vigilante murder+high treason is certainly far worse acodex violation than ignoring the crime.

Also i would argue that this particular murder would not even count as "helping the innocent" as it doesn't change the way the war is fought, it only gives the demon empire another edge.


If the OP knows that the local authority is not likely to do anything - then denouncing becomes pointless.

And the OP did make it clear that the evil actions are considered legal:
Denouncing helps building public pressure.

Public opinion is important. Even more so in wartimes, when rulers regularly have to ask their population to make more sacrifices for the war effort

Talakeal
2019-03-19, 07:20 AM
So my friend and I were discussing this thread and came up with a couple of questions.

What does it actually mean for someone's mind to "snap" and now they are evil?

The old timey idea of a traumatic event leaving someone insane isn't actually correct, is it? Its a pretty common idea in fiction, but afaict it is just the result of people witj a poor grasp of psychology teying to explain PTSD and similar anxiouty disorders, right?

Also, would magical healing cure something like PTSD or personality changes brought about by unusual circumstances? Imo even powerful spells could only repair mental changes brought about by actual brain damage and you would need to use something more extreme like programmed amnesia for personality changes brought about by life experience, but I have no idea what the RAW is if any.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 07:29 AM
So my friend and I were discussing this thread and came up with a couple of questions.

What does it actually mean for someone's mind to "snap" and now they are evil?
You usually change your alignment based on your actions. You become evil by doing evil deeds.

It is not really important what you think about those.

That is why you can cure insanity but that won't ever change your alignment. You would need the spell Atonement with all the redemption/forgiveness that implies.


Yes, the opposite-alignment-helmet doesn't follow this idea. But that is a cursed artifact from an old edition where the expectation was that such a change would lead to instant intraparty fight. That is just a grandfathered-in exception.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 07:53 AM
I think some people here have an unrealistic expectation of what the paladin in this setting should be able to accomplish. The paladin probably isn't going to reform the society, convert (a substantial number of) people to his ideals, or make a meaningful difference in this society. In fact, he's probably not even going to be able to lead a long healthy life.
No, the expectation is not that a paladin easily manages to change the society. The expectation is that he can't really fix this particular problem and does one of :
a) seek other problems he can fix
b) tries much in vain to change the society with words
c) actually participates in the war he has ignored so long, behaves better and thus leads by example

zinycor
2019-03-19, 07:54 AM
So my friend and I were discussing this thread and came up with a couple of questions.

What does it actually mean for someone's mind to "snap" and now they are evil?

The old timey idea of a traumatic event leaving someone insane isn't actually correct, is it? Its a pretty common idea in fiction, but afaict it is just the result of people witj a poor grasp of psychology teying to explain PTSD and similar anxiouty disorders, right?

Also, would magical healing cure something like PTSD or personality changes brought about by unusual circumstances? Imo even powerful spells could only repair mental changes brought about by actual brain damage and you would need to use something more extreme like programmed amnesia for personality changes brought about by life experience, but I have no idea what the RAW is if any.

I guess it depends on time since the traumatic experience and how much bearing it holds on the affected. If it was a while ago and this gal has been doing these evil things for a while, I believe the spell would have little effect.

But.hey, magic is weird.

AMFV
2019-03-19, 07:54 AM
So my friend and I were discussing this thread and came up with a couple of questions.

What does it actually mean for someone's mind to "snap" and now they are evil?

That would mean that something happens that is so traumatic that the person's personality changes completely. Being good or evil is mostly based on your values, your values are pretty dependent on how you think, trauma can change how you think. Which in turn will alter how you act pretty drastically.



The old timey idea of a traumatic event leaving someone insane isn't actually correct, is it? Its a pretty common idea in fiction, but afaict it is just the result of people witj a poor grasp of psychology teying to explain PTSD and similar anxiouty disorders, right?

Not necessarily the case. A person with PTSD or an anxiety disorder might become more evil or good depending on how that disorder affected their thought processes. All people have the capacity to be good or evil, that sort of disorder could reduce inhibitions and that can lead a person who is tempted to be evil to actually be evil.




Also, would magical healing cure something like PTSD or personality changes brought about by unusual circumstances? Imo even powerful spells could only repair mental changes brought about by actual brain damage and you would need to use something more extreme like programmed amnesia for personality changes brought about by life experience, but I have no idea what the RAW is if any.

I don't think there is any RAW on this in most editions.

It's also worth noting that this is NOT the case in this hypothetical, since the character was already evil BEFORE she snapped, only less so.


No, the expectation is not that a paladin easily manages to change the society. The expectation is that he can't really fix this particular problem and does one of :
a) seek other problems he can fix
b) tries much in vain to change the society with words
c) actually participates in the war he has ignored so long, behaves better and thus leads by example

BUT HE CAN FIX THIS PROBLEM. The problem at hand is the friend, not all of society. While all of society is a problem, the friend is the problem that the Paladin can reasonably be expected to fix. So he can fix it by stopping her from committing atrocities, in whatever way he can. Then if somebody comes up to take her place, he does the same with them, and continues until either he is killed by the society he is trying to change, or changes it. But that's the lot of a Paladin.

zinycor
2019-03-19, 07:56 AM
b) tries much in vain to change the society with words


Why is it in vain?

AMFV
2019-03-19, 07:59 AM
Why is it in vain?

Well it is unlikely that a single person will do more than spark this change. Although it's not impossible. History is filled with a lot more martyrs than it is with people who actually manged to change society. There's a lot more dead abolitionists than there are William Wilburforces'.

zinycor
2019-03-19, 08:03 AM
Well it is unlikely that a single person will do more than spark this change. Although it's not impossible. History is filled with a lot more martyrs than it is with people who actually manged to change society. There's a lot more dead abolitionists than there are William Wilburforces'.

The thing is, am not arguing for this being possible in real life, am arguing for a setting where protagonists are heroes, have magical powers, are chosen by Gods and commonly do impossible things.

Talakeal
2019-03-19, 08:13 AM
It's also worth noting that this is NOT the case in this hypothetical, since the character was already evil BEFORE she snapped, only less so.

If I am reading the OP correctly she was neutral good but merely unstable before the trauma she endured during the war that "broke" her mind and thrned her CE.

AMFV
2019-03-19, 08:54 AM
The thing is, am not arguing for this being possible in real life, am arguing for a setting where protagonists are heroes, have magical powers, are chosen by Gods and commonly do impossible things.

It is possible in real life, I gave a real life example. The Paladin should try to do that, but a Paladin isn't just somebody who is responsible for social change, a Paladin is a holy knight. One of the things that is in a holy knight's toolbox is lopping off somebody's head to stop them from doing evil, if that evil harms another person. I don't know that's the right option in this case, but it is definitely on the table.


If I am reading the OP correctly she was neutral good but merely unstable before the trauma she endured during the war that "broke" her mind and thrned her CE.

I was reading it as "she was evil but not EVIIIIL". I might be wrong though. Personally, I don't think that a person can become evil against their will, but that's my personal philosophical belief, not RAW or anything.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 08:57 AM
Why is it in vain?
Because usually PCs don't have that much power. That is even more true if this is only a single character side project, not actually something the whole groups wants to invest ressources and gaming time on while numerous other plots are waiting elsewhere.

Changes this big by PCs tend go get reserved for cases where they are the central campaign premise or where PCs are particularly high level movers and shakers.


D&D is not Exalted, where you would generally expect a PC to be successful in doing stuff like that.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 09:10 AM
BUT HE CAN FIX THIS PROBLEM. The problem at hand is the friend, not all of society. While all of society is a problem, the friend is the problem that the Paladin can reasonably be expected to fix. So he can fix it by stopping her from committing atrocities, in whatever way he can. Then if somebody comes up to take her place, he does the same with them, and continues until either he is killed by the society he is trying to change, or changes it. But that's the lot of a Paladin.The problem is the army commiting war crimes in the war. The friend is only a part of the army and (because D&D) a powerful part of the army due to higher level.
But when the friend is dead, the army won't change and be less likely to commit those crimes. It will only become weaker. This solves nothing.

And no, the paladin won't be able to do the same with any replacement because at that time he will long be executed for murder and treason.

AMFV
2019-03-19, 09:19 AM
The problem is the army commiting war crimes in the war. The friend is only a part of the army and (because D&D) a powerful part of the army due to higher level.

But the friend is commiting atrocities based on the fact that she is allowed to. Not because she is ordered to (as far as we know). So it's not "under orders" it's only "everything is permissible" if that makes any sense.



But when the friend is dead, the army won't change and be less likely to commit those crimes. It will only become weaker. This solves nothing.

But his friend will no longer commit those crimes. This solves that. And we don't know that this will solve nothing.



And no, the paladin won't be able to do the same with any replacement because at that time he will long be executed for murder and treason.

Provided that he is caught and executed and doesn't find help. And even if he is, then somebody else will come along.

kyoryu
2019-03-19, 09:36 AM
When thinking paladin, always think Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files.

The obvious win for the paladin is to bring his friend back around, and outside of imminent evil happening, that should be his primary goal. Bringing a powerful general to the side of good not only deprives Evil of that power, but bolsters Good's power as well. And the influence she could have on the army is greater than he could have.

Paladins must oppose Evil, but they're also, you know, smart. While they can't commit Evil without loss of their powers (assuming pre-5e here), how they confront that Evil is pretty well left in their court. They can be tactical. They can be smart. They can think long-term. And the paladin in this case would know that the likely result of killing his friend would be her being replaced with someone just like her. But, in the long-run, converting her to the cause of Good will be more effective, especially since she seems to be a more passive element in the Evil that is occurring.

Like Michael said to Dresden (paraphrased): "As you fight the darkness in you, I will be there for you. And if you fall to that darkness, I will be there for you."

Merellis
2019-03-19, 09:36 AM
The Paladin must not waver in the face of such atrocities.

Fight your friend with words, with fist, with righteous fury, and with sword if you have to. For they must be brought back from the abyss they have found themselves in and made to see the error of their ways.

If the law of the land is against the greater good of the light, then the law of the land shall be smote and removed by your hand, or the hands of others. You will need help with such a great task, so craft your creed, Paladin, gather allies and those alike to bring this country back to the light.

For in stooping to such evil, your country is no better than those they decree to be their enemies.

Lead by example to save these souls, even if you must face endless horror and endless scorn. As a Paladin, it is not your place to worry of reputation, of whether you must follow unjust laws, or of the relationships you have built with those who have fallen to the darkness. Your only worry is that of the light and how you may serve it.

Go forth with gleaming sword and shield, use your voice and power to subjugate evil, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, to save those who cannot save themselves.

In doing so, you will light the spark of good within others and cause the shadows to retreat.

If those you follow and those you are allied with shall move towards the abyss and commit atrocities within your sight, it is your duty to stop them. Use all that is available to you to protect the innocent and to save the souls of others from further taint.

If you must harm ally and friend to save the light of good, then so be it. Heal them afterwards and try again, and again, and again until either the light is within them or they finally step too far over the line into the abyss.

AMFV
2019-03-19, 09:54 AM
Like Michael said to Dresden (paraphrased): "As you fight the darkness in you, I will be there for you. And if you fall to that darkness, I will be there for you."

The thing is that an unrepentant rapist and murderer who intends to do that again, would by most definitions have already "fallen to the darkness". In fact there would be those that argue that a person could not be redeemed after that.


The Paladin must not waver in the face of such atrocities.

Fight your friend with words, with fist, with righteous fury, and with sword if you have to. For they must be brought back from the abyss they have found themselves in and made to see the error of their ways.

If the law of the land is against the greater good of the light, then the law of the land shall be smote and removed by your hand, or the hands of others. You will need help with such a great task, so craft your creed, Paladin, gather allies and those alike to bring this country back to the light.

For in stooping to such evil, your country is no better than those they decree to be their enemies.

Lead by example to save these souls, even if you must face endless horror and endless scorn. As a Paladin, it is not your place to worry of reputation, of whether you must follow unjust laws, or of the relationships you have built with those who have fallen to the darkness. Your only worry is that of the light and how you may serve it.

Go forth with gleaming sword and shield, use your voice and power to subjugate evil, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, to save those who cannot save themselves.

In doing so, you will light the spark of good within others and cause the shadows to retreat.

If those you follow and those you are allied with shall move towards the abyss and commit atrocities within your sight, it is your duty to stop them. Use all that is available to you to protect the innocent and to save the souls of others from further taint.

If you must harm ally and friend to save the light of good, then so be it. Heal them afterwards and try again, and again, and again until either the light is within them or they finally step too far over the line into the abyss.

This is true, but I would argue that raping, murdering, and torturing prisoners is well past that line into the abyss. At least by most definitions.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 09:59 AM
If those you follow and those you are allied with shall move towards the abyss and commit atrocities within your sight, it is your duty to stop them. Use all that is available to you to protect the innocent and to save the souls of others from further taint.

If you must harm ally and friend to save the light of good, then so be it. Heal them afterwards and try again, and again, and again until either the light is within them or they finally step too far over the line into the abyss.
The same people committing the atricities are at the same time also protecting the innocent by fighting of the invaders of the demon empire. Violently removing them will not likely protect more innocent people than it endangers.

Merellis
2019-03-19, 10:02 AM
This is true, but I would argue that raping, murdering, and torturing prisoners is well past that line into the abyss. At least by most definitions.

Would generally agree, but it seems as if the Paladin doesn't really know where to start and has just learned of how far their friend has fallen. So I would argue for talking first at the start, and if the country is as corrupt as it seems, then working to create an order of paladins with that sort of creed to start changing minds, or at least put in their heads and gain power.


The same people committing the atricities are at the same time also protecting the innocent by fighting of the invaders of the demon empire. Violently removing them will not likely protect more innocent people than it endangers.
Note how I didn't start with that whole thing with straight up stabbing someone.

I went entirely with stopping them from committing these atrocities, which could start with words, mercy killing of the victim so that the suffering ends, physically dragging them away from the one they're taking the time to torture/rape, to knocking them out and letting this person go, to killing them if things get way out of hand and they want to murder you so they can go right back to being a monster.

Creating an order of paladins to house the prisoners so such things won't happen.

Like, there's a lot of ways to handle it that doesn't immediately start with sword through the heart, but they must be stopped by any means possible in regards to being that evil.

AMFV
2019-03-19, 10:11 AM
The same people committing the atricities are at the same time also protecting the innocent by fighting of the invaders of the demon empire. Violently removing them will not likely protect more innocent people than it endangers.

I would say that you don't get to pick and choose. As a Paladin, at least, you don't. You can't just fight evil where it is convenient or expedient. Another character who is LG, might have that ability. But as a Paladin, you can't. You have to do what you can to fight evil. And in this case the evil is so extreme, that the Paladin should fight it. Method is important, but not the most important here.


Would generally agree, but it seems as if the Paladin doesn't really know where to start and has just learned of how far their friend has fallen. So I would argue for talking first at the start, and if the country is as corrupt as it seems, then working to create an order of paladins with that sort of creed to start changing minds, or at least put in their heads and gain power.

I would agree that talking first is important, but I would argue that if talking doesn't work, the Paladin should be willing to do whatever they need to do to resolve the situation.

Satinavian
2019-03-19, 10:32 AM
I went entirely with stopping them from committing these atrocities, which could start with words, mercy killing of the victim so that the suffering ends, physically dragging them away from the one they're taking the time to torture/rape, to knocking them out and letting this person go, to killing them if things get way out of hand and they want to murder you so they can go right back to being a monster.The atrocities happened in the war.

The paladin was somewhere completely else and he learns of this only when he finds out his friend is now evil, probably by using "detect evil" and asking her about it.

This whole scenario is not about anything the paladin actually ever sees. The friend is not doing any of those things when the paladin is near. But the friend is likely to continue it somewhere in the future when she goes back to the frontline. But there are no victims in the paladins reach and there is nothing imminent happening to stop.

If you want to say that the paladin should also join the army to be able to do something about warcrimes when they actually happen or to prevent/hinder the friend from doing more, that would be fine of course.

Merellis
2019-03-19, 10:55 AM
The atrocities happened in the war.

The paladin was somewhere completely else and he learns of this only when he finds out his friend is now evil, probably by using "detect evil" and asking her about it.

This whole scenario is not about anything the paladin actually ever sees. The friend is not doing any of those things when the paladin is near. But the friend is likely to continue it somewhere in the future when she goes back to the frontline. But there are no victims in the paladins reach and there is nothing imminent happening to stop.

If you want to say that the paladin should also join the army to be able to do something about warcrimes when they actually happen or to prevent/hinder the friend from doing more, that would be fine of course.

Then the Paladin should still work towards overthrowing this unjust standard to prisoners and enemies, to have the country hold a higher standard of their soldiers and change things for the better while dragging those who fell to the abyss back to light. Helping them, talking with them, showing them why such actions are wrong, having them try to atone for the past, and in the event of said friend willingly going back to war just to continue dolling out these injustices, stop them.

The path of the Paladin is not for the faint of heart or the weak of will.

Build the base for these things to be unjust in the eyes of both the good and the lawful, build the laws of the land to find these to be abhorrent.

Then bring to trial all those who committed these acts and punish each accordingly.

If they wish to continue, if they crave for war so that they may continue to rape and torture for the pure pleasure or catharsis of it, despite all of your pleas, work, and teachings.

Bring them to heel.

Do all you can to ensure they cannot continue this evil, imprison them, remove them of their right to join the armies, do all you can to stop the further spread of this sickness.

For even if they will not atone for the wrongs they have committed, your true purpose is to stop further wrongs from happening.

Even if they have atoned for the past, you must stop the abyss from spreading.

Talakeal
2019-03-19, 11:45 AM
Do note that the OP specifies that while not illegal her actions are neither commonpkace nor approved of by her nation, so all this talk of systemic change might be unwarranted.

I am really curious about exactly ehat happened to cause this shift in her nature as well as the exact form and rationale behind her wartime atrocities.

Also, maybe I am just sexist, but I am having a bit of trouble imaginings the exacts hows and whys of a woman commiting wartime rape.

hamishspence
2019-03-19, 11:50 AM
Do note that the OP specifies that while not illegal her actions are neither commonpkace nor approved of by her nation, so all this talk of systemic change might be unwarranted.

It's clear that they are commonplace enough that they're considered "just part of war".


the paladin's old friend has not done anything illegal. Or even wrong by the standards of her society. The paladin finds her actions distasteful, but rape and murder are just part of war in this world. This is a dark ages style world with a much lower standard of morality.

According to the law, she has done nothing wrong, and the warrior culture practically encourages her raids, if not her atrocities.
So, bearing all this in mind, what should the paladin do to stop her evil deeds?

PaladinX
2019-03-19, 12:00 PM
So my friend and I were discussing this thread and came up with a couple of questions.

What does it actually mean for someone's mind to "snap" and now they are evil?

Real world people become sociopaths through a mixture of Biological and childhood trauma.


old timey idea of a traumatic event leaving someone insane isn't actually correct, is it? Its a pretty common idea in fiction, but afaict it is just the result of people witj a poor grasp of psychology teying to explain PTSD and similar anxiouty disorders, right?

Trauma can cause a lot of damage to the psyche. However it is displayed poorly in fiction, such as people with PTSD. Don't go recreating the Trauma that caused the PTSD in the first place. They actually go out of their to avoid everything about the event. Such as if a person was in a smokey room when the trauma occurred they will avoid smokers and places that smell of smoke.



, would magical healing cure something like PTSD or personality changes brought about by unusual circumstances? Imo even powerful spells could only repair mental changes brought about by actual brain damage and you would need to use something more extreme like programmed amnesia for personality changes brought about by life experience, but I have no idea what the RAW is if any.

In d&d a greater restoration, heal spell, limited wish, and wish can cure insanity.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-19, 12:54 PM
You can life your morality for your own and not forcefully impose it on others. That is what i always thought was the normal way to play paladins.


No, that's a normal way to play a good person who isn't of a (social) class defined by use of force.

Paladins are Fighters. They are named for knights who went to fight a war against those they perceived to be of wrong faith. They exist to promote Law and Good and destroy their opponents.

"Forcefully imposing" their morality on the world is their bread & butter to the point it's reflected in their mechanical abilities. They do extra damage to people of opposing morality, for Christ's sake!

kyoryu
2019-03-19, 02:22 PM
The thing is that an unrepentant rapist and murderer who intends to do that again, would by most definitions have already "fallen to the darkness". In fact there would be those that argue that a person could not be redeemed after that.

But, again, using Michael as the example, and to paraphrase: "We're not here to defeat the Denarians. We're here to save them."

A well-played Paladin character would, in my mind, always try to turn a "bad guy" back to good, and leave violence as a last resort.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-19, 02:30 PM
But, again, using Michael as the example, and to paraphrase: "We're not here to defeat the Denarians. We're here to save them."

A well-played Paladin character would, in my mind, always try to turn a "bad guy" back to good, and leave violence as a last resort.

That's clerics. Clerics are the emissaries who work to spread the faith. Paladins are the sword.

kyoryu
2019-03-19, 02:59 PM
That's clerics. Clerics are the emissaries who work to spread the faith. Paladins are the sword.

Why not both? There's a reason that Charisma is a prime/required stat, right?

I mean, at the end of the day, I'm really arguing for an interpretation (and Michael is explicitly an interpretation of Paladins) that can exist at a table without, ultimately, being disruptive to game play and actually put the "Good" in Lawful Good and not be hyper-reactive smite-bots.

That's a good thing, right?

AMFV
2019-03-19, 08:18 PM
The atrocities happened in the war.

A war which may still be ongoing.



The paladin was somewhere completely else and he learns of this only when he finds out his friend is now evil, probably by using "detect evil" and asking her about it.

Or by hearing about the atrocities from others, in which case the Paladin has a duty to stop those atrocities from continuing. And to punish whomever was committing them or to ensure that they are in



This whole scenario is not about anything the paladin actually ever sees. The friend is not doing any of those things when the paladin is near. But the friend is likely to continue it somewhere in the future when she goes back to the frontline. But there are no victims in the paladins reach and there is nothing imminent happening to stop.

If the Paladin has an opportunity to stop her, and he has every reason to, he knows that she has committed these crimes, that she intends to continue committing these crimes in the future, and he has the opportunity to kill or stop her. If he knows all that and he does nothing, then he is responsible for her actions after he chickened out.

Furthermore, it is not relevant that the Paladin "see" the atrocities happening, he knows they've happened, he knows they are likely to continue to happen.




If you want to say that the paladin should also join the army to be able to do something about warcrimes when they actually happen or to prevent/hinder the friend from doing more, that would be fine of course.

If I meet somebody and they tell me they are a serial killer, should I wait to catch them in the act of serial murder before doing something about that? And I'm not even a Paladin.


But, again, using Michael as the example, and to paraphrase: "We're not here to defeat the Denarians. We're here to save them."

And sometimes saving them involves letting them repent and then still punishing them for the bad stuff they've done. This person has done things which depending on their state of mind might merit death as a just punishment. A Paladin may have to do that, even if the person is showing remorse, which in this case the person is NOT. More than that, the lady in question appears to intend to continue doing those things in the near future. Certainly he might try to talk to her, but I don't think that's a requirement, and even if he does manage to convince them to stop, I'd hold that he still has a responsibility to justice.



A well-played Paladin character would, in my mind, always try to turn a "bad guy" back to good, and leave violence as a last resort.

That's a fine approach to somebody who is an enemy soldier, or somebody who has done a few bad things. But this is an (sorry about the big text but it's necessary here) UNREPENTANT WAR CRIME AND ATROCITY COMMITTING RAPIST AND MURDERER. If I am a Paladin and a known war criminal who is responsible for the murder of thousands comes up to me and tells me that the power of friendship has healed him and he isn't going to be killing any more and he knows it's wrong now, I'm still going to make him answer for his crimes probably with his life. Because of the scale of the crimes, I may act to try to save his soul. But atrocities and war crimes aren't the kind of thing you can be like "my bad guys" about.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeYIlET3szA


Why not both? There's a reason that Charisma is a prime/required stat, right?

Well Charisma is an important stat because Paladins are supposed to be shining exemplars of good and righteousness, they are supposed to make good people into better people, and possibly redeem those that are evil. The problem is that there is a point where somebody might justly deserve to die, and war criminals are at that point. I wouldn't want a someone who committed atrocities to get off scott free.



I mean, at the end of the day, I'm really arguing for an interpretation (and Michael is explicitly an interpretation of Paladins) that can exist at a table without, ultimately, being disruptive to game play and actually put the "Good" in Lawful Good and not be hyper-reactive smite-bots.

That's a good thing, right?

KILLING SOMEBODY WHO IS A WAR CRIMINAL WHO COMMITS ATROCITIES SUCH AS RAPE AND MURDER AND TORTURE AGAINST HELPLESS PRISONERS IS NOT BEING A HYPER REACTIVE SMITE-BOT.

That's the right time to smite, that's not a hyper-reaction. If both parties are players, then they need to have a chat, cause one of their characters has to go (and if that's in-game by murder, that's how it has to be). A Paladin cannot be friends with somebody like that, they cannot tolerate somebody like that. If they know that somebody like that intends to continue doing that, then they need to stop them, by any means necessary. Even if they don't intend to continue doing that, the Paladin should try and bring them to justice, because that is a part of who they (as a Paladin) are.

This isn't, Harry Dresden, who killed a guy in self-defense in a way he wasn't allowed to. This is a war criminal, who authorized the torture, rape, and systematic murder of millions of people. Although the scale isn't the same, but once you're at war crimes and atrocities level, it basically boils down to that point. Somebody who is committing crimes on that scale, should not continue to be alive once they meet a Paladin, unless that Paladin ceases to be alive.

Again sorry about the emphasis but I feel like people are really glossing over exactly what the person in-question has done. Even if that's accepted by their society, a Paladin should not accept that any more than we've accepted "Just following orders" as a legal defense against similar accusations.

zinycor
2019-03-19, 09:13 PM
That's a fine approach to somebody who is an enemy soldier, or somebody who has done a few bad things. But this is an (sorry about the big text but it's necessary here) UNREPENTANT WAR CRIME AND ATROCITY COMMITTING RAPIST AND MURDERER. If I am a Paladin and Heinrich Himmler comes up to me and tells me that the power of friendship has healed him and he isn't going to be killing any more Jews and he knows it's wrong now, I'm still going to make him answer for his crimes probably with his life. Because of the scale of the crimes, I may act to try to save his soul. But atrocities and war crimes aren't the kind of thing you can be like "my bad guys" about.




I don't think the big text is necessary

JNAProductions
2019-03-19, 09:17 PM
I don't think the big text is necessary

I kinda think it is, for people who are equating "Kills anyone who pings Evil on Detect Evil" with "Kills someone who has, in the past, committed atrocities and plans to commit more."

AMFV
2019-03-19, 10:04 PM
I don't think the big text is necessary

I think it is. Because the exact nature of the person's crimes are really important in how they are handled. And people are glossing over the exact crimes here. I'm not saying that a Paladin should kill a rogue for using poison, or a politician for lying. I'm saying that a Paladin should potentially be willing to kill somebody who is committing war crimes and intends to continue doing that.

The big text stops people from glossing over those facts.

Zenzis
2019-03-19, 11:39 PM
I don't think the big text is necessary


I kinda think it is, for people who are equating "Kills anyone who pings Evil on Detect Evil" with "Kills someone who has, in the past, committed atrocities and plans to commit more."


I think it is. Because the exact nature of the person's crimes are really important in how they are handled. And people are glossing over the exact crimes here. I'm not saying that a Paladin should kill a rogue for using poison, or a politician for lying. I'm saying that a Paladin should potentially be willing to kill somebody who is committing war crimes and intends to continue doing that.

The big text stops people from glossing over those facts.

I'm with AMFV and JNA on this one, in that some people really do seem slippery sloping and/or generalizing away the very specific crimes the person in question has committed and is continuing to commit. There is just a lot of talk of "We can't just let paladins run around killing everyone who jaywalks" and "Paladins shouldn't be able to be judge, jury, and executioner for everything" when the OP asked a question about a specific situation where the person has raped, murdered, and committed other atrocities. I agree the big text adds some recognition of that fact.

Satinavian
2019-03-20, 12:53 AM
I think it is. Because the exact nature of the person's crimes are really important in how they are handled. And people are glossing over the exact crimes here. I'm not saying that a Paladin should kill a rogue for using poison, or a politician for lying. I'm saying that a Paladin should potentially be willing to kill somebody who is committing war crimes and intends to continue doing that.

The big text stops people from glossing over those facts.
I did not gloss over that. I regularly mentioned war crime.

But that does not change a thing.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 01:05 AM
I did not gloss over that. I regularly mentioned war crime.

But that does not change a thing.

It most certainly does. A Paladin has a much stronger responsibility to prevent this sort of atrocity than they do many other sorts of criminal things. This lady has indicated that she intends to continue to do these things. So the Paladin must either persuade her to stop, or make her stop. That much he can do, change a society? Maybe, if the Gods grant him that, and he spends his life working on it. But he can never hope to be the kind of person who can make the kind of societal change he would want if he is going to allow a close friend of his to continue raping and murdering unquestioned. Period.

Also, the large text in that case was NOT a quote of yours but a response to a statement another poster. I'm actually not entirely sure what you're arguing other than "The Paladin shouldn't force his beliefs on people" which is a patently absurd retort since by the logic wherein a Paladin cannot stop a murderer from committing more murders (unless they come on them mid-murder) they cannot really do anything. That seemed to be the crux of it for you, and I think we've already addressed that, whether or not you were convinced.

The Paladin must act to stop atrocities. He cannot standby and permit them to happen. Even if it costs his life, his reputation, no matter the personal cost.

Satinavian
2019-03-20, 01:32 AM
Also, the large text in that case was NOT a quote of yours but a response to a statement another poster. I'm actually not entirely sure what you're arguing other than "The Paladin shouldn't force his beliefs on people" which is a patently absurd retort since by the logic wherein a Paladin cannot stop a murderer from committing more murders (unless they come on them mid-murder) they cannot really do anything. That seemed to be the crux of it for you, and I think we've already addressed that, whether or not you were convinced.
My three core arguments are :

- A paladin should not be judge, jury and executioner in a society which gives those responsibilities to someone else. Sure, there are exception in outright evil gouvernments but usually a lawful good person that is part of a society will occasionally have to take ruler and court desicions he doesn't like.
In cases of a legitimate gouvernment, a paladin can't just kill someone for crimes when that person got acquitted or pardoned by the lawful authorities that are supposed to decide this without a severe breach of the paladin codex.

- This person only participated in atrocities, but was not even doing most of them or even a significant portion herself. Yes, she got a liking for it and is now "axe-cracy". But she is not ordering whole units to do that stuff (as the psychotic general does), she is just taking part in the slaughter. Like significant parts of the army. Removing her won't save a significant number of people.

- There is a reason why the society does not punish those war crimes. Because they think they really need those warcriminals in the war. Society thinks it is the lesser evil and clearly preferrable to being ruled by a demon with countless people crucified in addition to all the other stuff that tends to happen to the losing side of the war. That is the decision the society took, it is not necessary for the paladin to have taken the same decision. But if he is violently overriding his society in this case, he has to take responsibility for those consequences too. He can't just say "I'll kill her to prevent future atrocities she might do, but i am not responsible for the consequences of losing a high level combatant for our side and all the bad things that might happen because of that."
Yes, there is the old argument that doing the right thing is worth some price, some sacrifices. But in this case it would not be the paladin who has to pay, it is the society that has to bring those sacrifices and has very much not agreed to do so.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 02:11 AM
My three core arguments are :

- A paladin should not be judge, jury and executioner in a society which gives those responsibilities to someone else. Sure, there are exception in outright evil gouvernments but usually a lawful good person that is part of a society will occasionally have to take ruler and court desicions he doesn't like.
In cases of a legitimate gouvernment, a paladin can't just kill someone for crimes when that person got acquitted or pardoned by the lawful authorities that are supposed to decide this without a severe breach of the paladin codex.

I would argue that a government that is permitting war crimes as "part of war" is probably not a legitimate government. I would further argue that this is a good yard-stick for determining how far a Paladin should follow a government. Also it's of note that the Laws a Paladin follows are cosmic ones, not necessarily state laws. Sure a Paladin shouldn't interfere in rulings about things like taxes or card cheats or even single case murderers. But I would argue that in the case of somebody who is performing atrocities they have a moral responsibility to interfere.

A Paladin, for example, might not interfere if the Duke's son bribes a judge and gets away with a single murder. He could dislike the outcome, but might choose not to interfere. Although that is a perversion of justice. A Paladin COULD NOT choose to not interfere if the Duke's son is a serial murderer and is likely to continue right on doing that using his father's influence to stay out of prison. In that case there is a higher responsibility than there is to follow an authority that is legitimately appointed.

There are no editions that I think would have the Paladin's code prohibit the Paladin from breaking the laws in order to serve a higher law in these sort of cases. A Paladin is not an agent of the government, they serve a higher power, and so might have to act against a government agency when the laws of heaven decree it.



- This person only participated in atrocities, but was not even doing most of them or even a significant portion herself. Yes, she got a liking for it and is now "axe-cracy". But she is not ordering whole units to do that stuff (as the psychotic general does), she is just taking part in the slaughter. Like significant parts of the army. Removing her won't save a significant number of people.

The Paladin will be stopping any orders that she personally would have given, and any rapes that personally would have committed or any torturing that she personally would have done. And if her replacement continues those actions, then the Paladin should fight them as well. Also we don't really know the scale of her involvement, but ordering an atrocity is definitely enough to merit smiting. Paladins have the "Smite Evil" ability for a reason, and a war criminal who is actively involved in the commitment of atrocities against defenseless prisoners (to include rape, torture, and murder) is absolutely deserving of that smiting.



- There is a reason why the society does not punish those war crimes. Because they think they really need those warcriminals in the war. Society thinks it is the lesser evil and clearly preferrable to being ruled by a demon with countless people crucified in addition to all the other stuff that tends to happen to the losing side of the war. That is the decision the society took, it is not necessary for the paladin to have taken the same decision. But if he is violently overriding his society in this case, he has to take responsibility for those consequences too. He can't just say "I'll kill her to prevent future atrocities she might do, but i am not responsible for the consequences of losing a high level combatant for our side and all the bad things that might happen because of that."

Yes, it is not a fun choice. But it is an easy choice. A Paladin is not bound by "society" they are bound by "good". And if their society is evil, then they must oppose it, violently if necessary. The Paladin is responsible for the consequences of killing her, it's just that stopping her from raping and murdering is worth those consequences in the end. There is a responsibility to override a violently evil society.



Yes, there is the old argument that doing the right thing is worth some price, some sacrifices. But in this case it would not be the paladin who has to pay, it is the society that has to bring those sacrifices and has very much not agreed to do so.

If the society is willingly allowing (and encouraging) atrocities such as rape, murder, and torture to happen, then they deserve the price that they're going to pay for that. They don't deserve death necessarily (as the lady does here), but they do deserve to lose out on the general who was committing the atrocities. Period. The Paladin has an obligation to stop atrocities. This is part and parcel of every single Paladin code. All of them include language about protecting the innocent, and this is the line. There is no peaceful disagreement with a society that is committing rape and murder and torture, either they stop, or they are the enemies of the Paladin, that is all there is to that.

Satinavian
2019-03-20, 03:06 AM
All of them include language about protecting the innocent, and this is the line. Your protecting innocents is at the same time putting other innocents in additional danger. You are not allowed to ignore that.

You are risking innocent citicens of your country (who didn't do any atrocities and are likely oblivious to them happeneing, same as the paladin until recently) to stop a criminal. How many innocent lifes can your paladin sacrifice to make his justice happen ?

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 08:04 AM
At this point it looks like pretty much the whole world is evil. The paladin should just take of and smite the site from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

I think the OP raised a very interesting conundrum, but not one works in the black and white, objective, non-consequentialist space that the D&D paladin inhabits.

darkrose50
2019-03-20, 08:31 AM
There are plenty of psychopaths who blend in, follow the law, contribute to society, and are good folks. There was a sunny story on NPR where a neurologist studying psychopaths identifies his ďcontrolĒ brain scan as that of a psychopath, and learns that he is a psychopath.

Being evil and acting evil are two different ideas. Basically there are a lot of people that would do X if X was legal. If slavery was legal, then there would be people who would own slaves. If an 80-year-old man could buy and marry a 16-year-old girl, then there would be people doing this. These sorts of things are illegal and there are still people doing these evil things. Someone who is evil, but kept in check by following a moral code (religion, cultural, or the law) is not a problem (well not nearly the same problem). What is his motivation for being Chaotic Evil, and does he have any motivations to not act on his CE impulses?

Does he have post traumatic stress syndrome where in the war survival of the fittest was the only way to survive? Was his humanity ripped from him when he was ordered to commit atrocities? Did he lose any respect for civilization, and become a feral animal?

AMFV
2019-03-20, 08:48 AM
Your protecting innocents is at the same time putting other innocents in additional danger. You are not allowed to ignore that.

I'm not ignoring that. But that doesn't change what must be done here. One cannot protect the lives of the innocent by raping and murdering and torturing. It doesn't matter if one is raping and murdering and torturing for a noble reason. That's not acceptable behavior, and a Paladin has a responsibility to stop that behavior. Then the Paladin has a responsibility to act to protect those other innocents after that. But they still don't lose the responsibility to protect the victims of their friend and to see justice done.



You are risking innocent citicens of your country (who didn't do any atrocities and are likely oblivious to them happeneing, same as the paladin until recently) to stop a criminal. How many innocent lifes can your paladin sacrifice to make his justice happen ?

The person is not currently directly protecting any innocent lives, first. And second, the Paladin is not responsible for everything that happens every where. So if this murder and rapist could have saved somebody at some unspecified point in the future, that's immaterial. By that logic a Paladin could never act at all.


At this point it looks like pretty much the whole world is evil. The paladin should just take of and smite the site from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

No, there are evil people in this world. That's what a Paladin lives for. To fight evil and protect the innocent, it's just sad that this time the evil is somebody he thought was a friend and is an ally of the nation the Paladin ostensibly fights for.



I think the OP raised a very interesting conundrum, but not one works in the black and white, objective, non-consequentialist space that the D&D paladin inhabits.

You do know that in our very real world, the penalty for doing what the Paladin's friend did is death, yes? At least that's agreed on by most of society. This isn't some holier than thou hypothetical, this is something that's pretty clear cut. Smite Away.


There are plenty of psychopaths who blend in, follow the law, contribute to society, and are good folks. There was a sunny story on NPR where a neurologist studying psychopaths identifies his ďcontrolĒ brain scan as that of a psychopath, and learns that he is a psychopath.

Yes, and Ted Bundy would also be a psychopath. The difference is that Ted Bundy murdered a lot of people and the doctor didn't. Ted Bundy deserves to be dead, the doctor doesn't. See the difference?



Being evil and acting evil are two different ideas. Basically there are a lot of people that would do X if X was legal. If slavery was legal, then there would be people who would own slaves. If an 80-year-old man could buy and marry a 16-year-old girl, then there would be people doing this. These sorts of things are illegal and there are still people doing these evil things. Someone who is evil, but kept in check by following a moral code is not a problem (well not nearly the same problem). What is his motivation for being Chaotic Evil, and does he have any motivations to not act on his CE impulses?

Right, but committing war crimes is unarguably evil, and any society that believes that is not evil is in and of itself not a very good society. This is MUCH MUCH worse than owning slaves, or marrying a young girl. This is torturing, murdering, and raping dozens if not hundreds, and ordering the torture and rape and murder of hundreds if not thousands. This is not something you can relative morality wave away. A Paladin is obligated to act to stop this.



Does he have post traumatic stress syndrome where in the war survival of the fittest was the only way to survive? Was his humanity ripped from him when he was ordered to commit atrocities? Did he lose any respect for civilization, and become a feral animal?

It doesn't matter. This is RAPE, MURDER, and TORTURE. There is no reason that makes any of those okay. If a person had a childhood trauma and that makes them into a serial killer, rapist, and torturer, that doesn't wave away any of it. It might make the story more sad, but that person still needs to be punished.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 09:06 AM
@AMFV:

Systemic evil exists in the real world. Paladins do not.

There is systemic evil baked into the foundation of virtually every society on Earth. Slavery is still rampant, even in the first world, even if most of the slave owners call it somethng else or limit it to groups they feel deserve it. War crimes are technically legal, but that only matters if someone has the power to stop you, supermpowers commit war crimes constantly because no one has the power to call them on it, and smaller nations are rarely prosocuted because going to war over it is economically and politically complicated for the super powers.

Now, a very deep philosophical exploration of systemic evil could involve exploring whether or not the massive social and economic upheavel involved in overturning these systems, and the horror that will follow in the period of anarchy that comes after, is worth the cost. This is, I think, what the OP wanted to explore. The right thing to do when ordinary people are caught up in a battle between societies where evil rules from the top down.

Unfortunately, D&D paladins dont have a choice. They cant really explore complex issues. The world must be black and white to them. So smite on.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 09:17 AM
@AMFV:

Systemic evil exists in the real world. Paladins do not.

There is still an obligation to fight evil on the scale that's being described here, when one has the resources and ability to do so.



There is systemic evil baked into the foundation of virtually every society on Earth. Slavery is still rampant, even in the first world, even if most of the slave owners call it somethng else or limit it to groups they feel deserve it. War crimes are technically legal, but that only matters if someone has the power to stop you, supermpowers commit war crimes constantly because no one has the power to call them on it, and smaller nations are rarely prosocuted because going to war over it is economically and politically complicated for the super powers.

I've been to war, in the real world, war crimes as described here are thankfully very very rare and everybody condemns them. We aren't talking not letting a prisoner of war get their mail, or treating a prisoner of war as a civilian "detainee". This is rape, torture, and murder. We condemn those things. In fact we've sentenced people who have committed those things (in the country I am from and fought for) to life imprisonment for committing those very crimes, and not on a large scale, on a very small scale. (Murdering one person and hiding it).



Now, a very deep philosophical exploration of systemic evil could involve exploring whether or not the massive social and economic upheavel involved in overturning these systems, and the horror that will follow in the period of anarchy that comes after, is worth the cost. This is, I think, what the OP wanted to explore. The right thing to do when ordinary people are caught up in a battle between societies where evil rules from the top down.

Unfortunately, D&D paladins dont have a choice. They cant really explore complex issues. The world must be black and white to them. So smite on.

There is "exploration" of the complex issue of war crime atrocities. There is no "is this right or wrong"; that was the point I was trying to make. Those things are evil. They need to be stopped, even in a world without Paladins people decided that stopping those things was worth the loss of life involved in that particular action.

That's the thing. Usually you can make an argument like this: "Paladins are too stuffy, they should just live and let live". But in this particular case, this is a situation where nobody should live and let live, Paladin or not. War crimes and atrocities should be stopped and even at a very high cost.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 09:28 AM
There is still an obligation to fight evil on the scale that's being described here, when one has the resources and ability to do so.



I've been to war, in the real world, war crimes as described here are thankfully very very rare and everybody condemns them. We aren't talking not letting a prisoner of war get their mail, or treating a prisoner of war as a civilian "detainee". This is rape, torture, and murder. We condemn those things. In fact we've sentenced people who have committed those things (in the country I am from and fought for) to life imprisonment for committing those very crimes, and not on a large scale, on a very small scale. (Murdering one person and hiding it).



There is "exploration" of the complex issue of war crime atrocities. There is no "is this right or wrong"; that was the point I was trying to make. Those things are evil. They need to be stopped, even in a world without Paladins people decided that stopping those things was worth the loss of life involved in that particular action.

That's the thing. Usually you can make an argument like this: "Paladins are too stuffy, they should just live and let live". But in this particular case, this is a situation where nobody should live and let live, Paladin or not. War crimes and atrocities should be stopped and even at a very high cost.

Maybe.

You ever read Watchmen?

The heroes try and fail to stop Ozymandius from commiting a horrible atrocity. After the fact, they decide to help him cover it up, because in the long run the world might actually be a better place for it.

Except for Rorsach, who refuses to go along with the cover up. And his friends kill him for it.

The paladin is Rorsach. He doesn't have a choice to decide if it is worth coverin up the lie.

Likewise, in the real world imagine that it came out that one of the super powers was ordering routine war crimes be commited against enemy combatants in third world warzones. Would it be worth risking World War 3 for the other super powers to put a stop to it?

Morgaln
2019-03-20, 09:29 AM
You do know that in our very real world, the penalty for doing what the Paladin's friend did is death, yes? At least that's agreed on by most of society. This isn't some holier than thou hypothetical, this is something that's pretty clear cut. Smite Away.



In our very real world, most of western society and a good amount of the rest of the world have done away with the death penalty decades ago, so no, it's not that clear-cut.

In my eyes, the paladin should hand that friend over to the authorities to handle and expose the atrocities her commanding officer made her commit. Regardless of whether authorities consider her a criminal or not, he should then work on stopping any further atrocities committed by the army, but not by killing people but by trying to influence them through words and deeds. That could involve raising awareness among the general populace, finding like-minded individuals to help him, talk to soldiers to teach them they don't need to become monsters to fight a war, actions like those. It's much more of a diplomatic/political scenario than anything else.

kyoryu
2019-03-20, 09:30 AM
I'm with AMFV and JNA on this one, in that some people really do seem slippery sloping and/or generalizing away the very specific crimes the person in question has committed and is continuing to commit. There is just a lot of talk of "We can't just let paladins run around killing everyone who jaywalks" and "Paladins shouldn't be able to be judge, jury, and executioner for everything" when the OP asked a question about a specific situation where the person has raped, murdered, and committed other atrocities. I agree the big text adds some recognition of that fact.

Nah, it's just shouting. It conveys no new information.

The example I used (Michael Carpenter, explicitly patterned after Paladins), literally tried to redeem his worst enemy - Nicodemus, someone who has for centuries conspired with the worst evil on the planet, was partially responsible for the Black Death, and who ritually murdered his friend in a way that left his blood all over an entire church. And still, he tried to redeem him.

The paladin obviously must prevent further atrocities from occurring. There's no "letting it go on." That's not a thing. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is disagreeing with that.

In the scenario presented, the perpetrator of these crimes, when encountered, is not actively committing them. They're away from that situation. It's absolutely clear that the paladin must stop these things from occurring! Nobody is arguing that! And, yes, going full Smite would be warranted (though trial would be a preferable option).

But... if the paladin could redeem the friend while they were away from the situation, that's a HUGE win. Not only does it deprive the Bad Guys of a high ranking soldier, but it adds one to the side of the Good Guys. And in that case, she can help enact further good and prevent atrocities. It's an OBVIOUS win.

Now... the friend goes off to commit more of these atrocities? It's clear at some point there's a point where the paladin has to stand in the way, with force, and do what is required.

And the scenario also begs the question of what should be done with the actual general - if the friend's Evil is so great that it cannot be ignored, then surely the general's is even more so.

But, really, the crux of the question is "is some evil irredeemable? Are some crimes so horriffic that they cannot be recovered from? In some cases, is redemption an option or is death the only acceptable result?" And personally, I'd rather game in a world where the answer is that everyone can be brought back from Evil. I'd rather have the Paladin be a symbol of that, a symbol that good can still be found in everyone. A person so pure and good that they look for the good in everyone and everything? Even as they stand against evil and will do what is necessary to combat it? I mean, to me, that's cool.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 09:58 AM
Maybe.

You ever read Watchmen?

The heroes try and fail to stop Ozymandius from commiting a horrible atrocity. After the fact, they decide to help him cover it up, because in the long run the world might actually be a better place for it.

Except for Rorsach, who refuses to go along with the cover up. And his friends kill him for it.

The paladin is Rorsach. He doesn't have a choice to decide if it is worth coverin up the lie.

Rorschach was right there. The lie will eventually out, and it will be much worse, as Dr. Manhattan pointed out to Ozy. The world isn't "better in the long run" it's an extremely short sighted short-term solution. Also not revealing the truth isn't the same thing as allowing somebody who is committing atrocities to go unpunished.



Likewise, in the real world imagine that it came out that one of the super powers was ordering routine war crimes be commited against enemy combatants in third world warzones. Would it be worth risking World War 3 for the other super powers to put a stop to it?

Yes. We've already answered that question. Yes. It would definitely be worth it. If there was a second holocaust in the works, it would be worth the loss of life to stop that from happening.


In our very real world, most of western society and a good amount of the rest of the world have done away with the death penalty decades ago, so no, it's not that clear-cut.

Yes, and being in a medieval world the Paladin has no options for criminal trial here. I would argue however that in this particular situation where life imprisonment is not an option, and legal recourse is not an option. Death is really all there is. The Paladin can't hold the person indefinitely and they need to be punished.



In my eyes, the paladin should hand that friend over to the authorities to handle and expose the atrocities her commanding officer made her commit. Regardless of whether authorities consider her a criminal or not, he should then work on stopping any further atrocities committed by the army, but not by killing people but by trying to influence them through words and deeds. That could involve raising awareness among the general populace, finding like-minded individuals to help him, talk to soldiers to teach them they don't need to become monsters to fight a war, actions like those. It's much more of a diplomatic/political scenario than anything else.

The authorities CONDONE the war crimes. He can't expose the person. He should stop them, then go on, and do those things. The thing is that if he hands her over to the authorities then it accomplishes nothing, he knows that it will accomplish nothing. So he should act.


Nah, it's just shouting. It conveys no new information.

The example I used (Michael Carpenter, explicitly patterned after Paladins), literally tried to redeem his worst enemy - Nicodemus, someone who has for centuries conspired with the worst evil on the planet, was partially responsible for the Black Death, and who ritually murdered his friend in a way that left his blood all over an entire church. And still, he tried to redeem him.

And that person should have been punished for their actions. Probably with death, or life imprisonment or whatever people think is the worst punishment. Although since he was not directly responsible (possibly I haven't read the books) for more than that one murder, he might be redeemable. The thing is that a person who is directly responsible for the pain and death of hundreds and thousands, they shouldn't be allowed to go back to society "because they're sorry". That's not okay, that to my mind makes Paladins worse, not better.



The paladin obviously must prevent further atrocities from occurring. There's no "letting it go on." That's not a thing. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is disagreeing with that.

The difference is that I am arguing that the heinousness of those crimes means that not only can the Paladin not let it go on, but he has to punish those responsible.



But... if the paladin could redeem the friend while they were away from the situation, that's a HUGE win. Not only does it deprive the Bad Guys of a high ranking soldier, but it adds one to the side of the Good Guys. And in that case, she can help enact further good and prevent atrocities. It's an OBVIOUS win.

The person already HAS committed the atrocities. They are already due for punishment for them. There is no "I'm sorry I killed and raped and murdered hundreds of people." Maybe in the next life, but certainly not in this one.



And the scenario also begs the question of what should be done with the actual general - if the friend's Evil is so great that it cannot be ignored, then surely the general's is even more so.

The Paladin should look into that AFTER he deals with the current war crime and atrocity committing person.



But, really, the crux of the question is "is some evil irredeemable? Are some crimes so horriffic that they cannot be recovered from? In some cases, is redemption an option or is death the only acceptable result?" And personally, I'd rather game in a world where the answer is that everyone can be brought back from Evil. I'd rather have the Paladin be a symbol of that, a symbol that good can still be found in everyone. A person so pure and good that they look for the good in everyone and everything? Even as they stand against evil and will do what is necessary to combat it? I mean, to me, that's cool.

If you had the option to meet somebody who was responsible for the death of millions, because of some difference of genetics. And that person told you they were very sorry, that they weren't going to murder any of the lesser races any more, that they know that torturing them and raping them and experimenting on them was very wrong, would you allow that person to go on, knowing that they had done those things? That's the issue here. There might be good in that murderer of millions, hell, there are real world examples of men like that who were good fathers and husbands, who had great love for their country and did acts of charity while off-duty, but the fact is that even if they were good in some ways, the stain of that, of murdering that many, of torturing that many, can't simply be ignored.

hamishspence
2019-03-20, 09:58 AM
I think at least part of the reason Michael & Company are so focussed on redeeming the Denarians, is that this was what their organization was founded to do. Michael seems to have no problem using lethal force against adversaries that are not Denarians.

Constructman
2019-03-20, 10:19 AM
A paladin should not be judge, jury and executioner in a society which gives those responsibilities to someone else. Sure, there are exception in outright evil gouvernments but usually a lawful good person that is part of a society will occasionally have to take ruler and court desicions he doesn't like.
In cases of a legitimate gouvernment, a paladin can't just kill someone for crimes when that person got acquitted or pardoned by the lawful authorities that are supposed to decide this without a severe breach of the paladin codex.

Why are people talking about Paladins as if they're beholden to mortal authority? Why do Paladins have to be part of "the system" by default, rather than crusading on behalf of cosmic Good? Why would a Paladin taking quick, decisive action by a violation of their Oath? Did I stumble into bizarro-town? Is this some older edition thing or Pathfinder thing that I'm out of the loop on? What do people think a Paladin is?

Given that the OP didn't specify an edition or a setting, and given that I'm only familiar with 5e, I'll talk about this using only 5e examples. Other than the Crown Paladin, who might have their hands tied; and the Oathbreaker, who likely wouldn't care, I'll comment on what each specific Oath might call to do in this situation, using what I find is the most relevant of their tenets in the RAW.

Devotion: Compassion. Aid others, protect the weak, and punish those who threaten them. Show mercy to your foes, but temper it with wisdom.
If we're talking about an unrepentant murderer and rapist, they may be past the point of mercy. A Holy Warrior won't stand by in the face of this atrocity. While they may not be jaded enough to go for the kill, they absolutely have to get it through to their "friend" that what she's doing is very much not okay, probably through a slap upside the head at the very least.

Ancients: Shelter the Light. Where there is good, beauty, love, and laughter in the world, stand against the wickedness that would swallow it. Where life flourishes, stand against the forces that would render it barren.
Green Knights are even more explicit about what the right thing to do is. That "friend" is killing the light in the world through her actions. Stop her. Capital-L Law isn't even a concern at this point, and the mortal law much less so.

Vengeance: By Any Means Necessary. My qualms canít get in the way of exterminating my foes.
I mean... Avengers are the "kill maim burn" Paladin. They swore their oaths to the tenets of bringing violent retribution to those that wronged the Paladin and their loved ones. How can you expect one of them to not give the walls a new layer of red paint?

Conquest: Douse the Flame of Hope. It is not enough to merely defeat an enemy in battle. Your victory must be so overwhelming that your enemiesí will to fight is shattered forever. A blade can end a life. Fear can end an empire.
Hell Knights usually stand on the Evil side of the Lawful spectrum, but those of a lighter shade of black usually have some standards, and their "friend's" actions are absolutely not accounting for taste. The only way to make sure this doesn't continue is to make a public example of her.

Redemption: Wisdom. Your heart and mind must stay clear, for eventually you will be forced to admit defeat. While every creature can be redeemed, some are so far along the path of evil that you have no choice but to end their lives for the greater good. Any such action must be carefully weighed and the consequences fully understood, but once you have made the decision, follow through with it knowing your path is just.
Redeemers swore an oath in the hope that even the foulest of sinners can be redeemed, which seems to be the current running through this thread on whether or not that hope is misplaced. But when even the outright Redemption Oath has an explicit out for those situations where the Paladin is just wasting their time by taking the high road? ... Yeah, the conclusion kind of writes itself.

If somebody who knows what Paladins were like in previous editions, comparison and contrast would be appreciated.

EDIT: edited in a post that encapsulates the view that I'm getting confused by

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 10:36 AM
@AMFV:

I actually agree with you, but I acknowledge that it is a complex issue with no clear right or wrong.

I think what the OP was trying to get at, although I cant be sure as he seems to have abandoned the thread, was trying to apply Moral Relativism to D&D, which is completely the opposite of how paladins normally operate.

Now, the holocaust is kind of an extreme example, but even in that, what is arguably the worst atrocity in human history, only caused about 1/10th the number of deats that WW2 did. And that was before the ubiquity of nuclear weapons that would probably make WW3 much more deadly.

But, barring the holocaust, world super powers can and do get away with commiting human rightsmviolations and breaking international law all the time, and (fortunately?) none of the other super powers have been willing to go to war over it yet.

hamishspence
2019-03-20, 10:47 AM
In cases of a legitimate gouvernment, a paladin can't just kill someone for crimes when that person got acquitted or pardoned by the lawful authorities that are supposed to decide this without a severe breach of the paladin codex.

If the paladin suspects the acquittal is due to corruption, capturing (at minimum) the acquitted murderer becomes permissible, even if the capturing would legally be kidnapping:

BoED

Divided Loyalties

For better of for worse, a paladin is not just good: she is lawful good, sworn not just to uphold the principles of good but also bound by a code of conduct, and subject to local law as well. Many paladins are also members of a specific deity's church, a knightly order of some sort, or both. At the best of times, these various loyalties - her code of conduct, her church's laws, her order's demands, the laws of her nation, and the abstraction of her alignment - are all in harmony, and her path is clear before her. When circumstances are not so ideal, she finds herself torn between conflicting demands: her superior in her knightly order commands her to kill a brutal murderer who has escaped punishment in court on a legal technicality, for example. Her personal code requires that she punish those that harm innocents, and this killer certainly falls in that category. However, her personal code also instructs her to respect legitimate authority, which includes both her knightly superior and the local law that has let the killer go free. The demands of her good alignment suggest she should punish the wrongdoer, but the demands of her lawful alignment insist that she obey the judgement of the court. It is entirely possible that either her superior or the magistrate in the case is corrupt or even possessed. Whom does she obey? How does she sort out the conflicting demands of her loyalties?

Paladins are by no means alone in this situation. Any character who tries consistently to do good eventually finds himself in a situation where different loyalties are in conflict. Chaotic Good characters might care far less about a potentially corrupt or at least ineffectual court system, but they might have other personal standards or obligations that cause conflict in similar or different situations. In the end, however, many such conflicts boil down to a question of priorities, and for a character who aspires to exalted deeds, good is the highest priority. In the example above, the murderer must at least be captured, if not killed, before he can kill again. If she has reason to suspect corruption, either in the court or in her own order, the paladin must attempt to uncover it, though it might mean being cast out of her order, punished under local law, or both. Her paladinhood and her exalted status remain intact, since she acted in the cause of good even when that required questioning the legitimacy of authority. Magistrates or knightly superiors who serve the cause of evil while posing as agents of good are not legitimate authority, and the paladin is right for exposing their corruption.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-20, 10:49 AM
There seems to be lot of undue focus on whether the paladin would succeed or fail.

This is largely a red herring. Alignment is not success-based, demonstrated by the fact that members of different alignments can succeed and fail on their own terms and not change alignment.

For example, if a Chaotic Neutral person rebels against a king and dies, they don't become Lawful post-mortem, even if they have failed to further agenda of Chaos in the world. A Chaotic Evil person does not become Lawful Good when they successfully beat up a kid and take their candy, even though they have succesfully acted in a way their alignment condones. Likewise, if a Chaotic Evil person beats up another Chaotic Evil person, the loser does not shift towards Law or Good, even though they failed their own ethos of securing their rights via strength.

Paladins have extra strictures due to their code in addition to normal ones of their Alignment, but this makes less of a difference than you'd think. If a paladin tries to stop a burglar but fails? They're still a paladin, what matters is that they honestly tried. A paladin tries to stop a rapist but gets beaten up? Same thing. A paladin tries to stop an evil army but gets killed? Ditto. They're still a paladin and still Lawful Good even if the only acknowledgement they get for that is in the afterlife.

If the evil army kills some innocents instead of the paladin, it makes no difference. Any attempt to pin their actions on the paladin is a fallacy of consequentalist thinking and ignores the army's own agency. If you decide to kill five orphans for every one I save, that makes you evil, not me. If some third person kills five orphans because I stopped you, that's even further removed from being my fault in any shape or form

A world is imaginable where trying to follow a paladin's lifestyle is doomed to failure, either in the form of dying or falling. But... so what? If all "succesfull" options are morally repugnant, why'd you even want to live in that world? A principled failure can be more satisfying than a victory gained by cheating. Failure makes a paladin's fate tragic, but it doesn't make them not a paladin.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 10:52 AM
@AMFV:

I actually agree with you, but I acknowledge that it is a complex issue with no clear right or wrong.

It isn't. I don't think you'd find even a moral relativist that would argue that atrocities on the scale and magnitude that were discussed here are acceptable. Even in the middle ages (as I linked sources upthread) that would not have been considered appropriate. Hell, in antiquity there are examples of stories of people castrating entire cities because of this sort of crime. So it's certainly considered to be deserving of extreme punishment, even by societies where death and war are commonplace.



I think what the OP was trying to get at, although I cant be sure as he seems to have abandoned the thread, was trying to apply Moral Relativism to D&D, which is completely the opposite of how paladins normally operate.

I agree that Paladins do not operate well in moral relativistic philosophical environment. The thing is that at this point (atrocities and warcrimes) we have moved past anything that even the most relativistic moralist will generally try to justify. I mean we could learn things from doing experiments on people who are marginalized, and that would benefit society, but do we? Not any more, and the times that people were discovered to be doing that sort of thing they were almost universally reviled. If the example was a little less strong I might agree.

Let's look at that a bit: If the friend were executing (a few) prisoners for fear that they would rejoin the enemy, or as a reprisal. That would be very wrong and the Paladin should try and stop that. But he might not have as high an expectation of punishment in this case, at least not till after the war. At some point though there's a line, and she's way over it, she is reveling in the commitment of wholesale atrocities.



Now, the holocaust is kind of an extreme example, but even in that, what is arguably the worst atrocity in human history, only caused about 1/10th the number of deats that WW2 did. And that was before the ubiquity of nuclear weapons that would probably make WW3 much more deadly.

The fact that we feel currently that those deaths were were worth it. That it was still the right thing to do, should show you how much we want to stop these sort of things from happening.



But, barring the holocaust, world super powers can and do get away with commiting human rightsmviolations and breaking international law all the time, and (fortunately?) none of the other super powers have been willing to go to war over it yet.

There is a difference between very occasional war crimes which are punished very harshly by the governments of the soldiers that commit them, and regular atrocity level war crimes. There are no world super powers committing atrocity level war crimes at this point, of which I am aware.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 11:46 AM
I have seen moral relativists argue that ANYTHING is acceptable. Heck, my own father claims that systemic atrocities are morally acceptable as long as they have legal backing.

We should probably pull back from real world examples lest we get this otherwise interesting thread locked.


Again, I THINK the OP wanted to put us in a situation where the entire system is corrupt, and attempting to uproot the system will result in its destruction at the hands of a far worse evil. Essentially a classic deontological vs. consequentialist morale quandary, but with a few added complications thrown in.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 11:59 AM
It makes me uncomfortable and itchy that people are claiming this scenario is
a very deep philosophical exploration of systemic evil...

Much of modern systemic injustice does not result in a population utterly desensitized to and accepting of a given form of injustice. If anything, it often relies obvious atrocities being duly punished and decried, to produce the illusion of a just system that renders the populace unaware or unwilling to challenge the power structure.

It's superpowers getting away with war crimes not just because no one can hold them accountable, but because their own people rarely want to admit what's been done on their behalf. It's condemning and decrying the mass shooter of the week, while clutching our guns tighter and refusing to introspect where aspects of our own culture radicalized them. It's agreeing that rape is Wrong, but letting rapists off the hook on a mere shadow of doubt because our culture has slanted empathy towards the perpetrator instead of the victim. It's looking for art-hating devils in the offices of EA and Activision, while ignoring how even the bad actors there are ultimately driven by underlying economics and not cartoonish malice. It's refusing to analyze how, or even acknowledge that, the media we create and consume (say, a tabletop RPG that pretends to a system of absolute morality and frequently involves violently raiding and killing racial and species groups labeled evil) says something about us. It's doing all the above because if we looked into those injustices, we might find something of ourselves staring back, and that would obligate us to DO something about, ripping us from the comfort and goods we derive from the status quo.

Systemic injustice is subtle and sinister because it wraps itself into social structures that otherwise serve a public good, making everyday "good people" all complicit, consolidating power in the hands of those who best perpetuate the system, and thereby building inertia to change and social justice.

The world as presented in this thread, to my eyes, is not that. It's a world of rapist torturers who rape and torture rapists who torture. It's a world where no one except the paladin seems to have the opinion that this sort of thing is wrong. It sidesteps the issue of scapegoat devils by making the entire world filled with devils, which is closer to 90's comics or Warhammer than
a very deep philosophical exploration of systemic evil...

Then it drops a paladin, a concept largely defined by deontological precepts from a system that pretends to absolutist morality, into a strawman depiction of moral relativism or utilitarianism and expects it to produce results.

kyoryu
2019-03-20, 12:15 PM
I think at least part of the reason Michael & Company are so focussed on redeeming the Denarians, is that this was what their organization was founded to do. Michael seems to have no problem using lethal force against adversaries that are not Denarians.

They have no problem using lethal force against Denarians, either. But it doesn't seem to ever be their first choice. They'll protect people and stop evil, but their preferred method is by bringing people to the light.


The difference is that I am arguing that the heinousness of those crimes means that not only can the Paladin not let it go on, but he has to punish those responsible.

And, you know? Personally I kinda agree with you. But what if there was someone that was beyond vengeance, and was more interested in creating more Good in the world?


The person already HAS committed the atrocities. They are already due for punishment for them. There is no "I'm sorry I killed and raped and murdered hundreds of people." Maybe in the next life, but certainly not in this one.

I mean, I still kinda agree? But what if you were a person that was so dedicated to finding good and making more good, that you felt that anyone could be redeemed?

After Shiro, could I have not gone for the kill on Nico? I dunno, man. Probably not. But what would it be like to play someone that was like that?


If you had the option to meet somebody who was responsible for the death of millions, because of some difference of genetics. And that person told you they were very sorry, that they weren't going to murder any of the lesser races any more, that they know that torturing them and raping them and experimenting on them was very wrong, would you allow that person to go on, knowing that they had done those things? That's the issue here. There might be good in that murderer of millions, hell, there are real world examples of men like that who were good fathers and husbands, who had great love for their country and did acts of charity while off-duty, but the fact is that even if they were good in some ways, the stain of that, of murdering that many, of torturing that many, can't simply be ignored.

Clearly "being nice to your friends" doesn't put you in the "Good" bucket. That's obvious. I'm talking about doing a 180, recognizing the evil you've done, and completely turning away from it.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 12:33 PM
I have seen moral relativists argue that ANYTHING is acceptable. Heck, my own father claims that systemic atrocities are morally acceptable as long as they have legal backing.

I think that you are defining atrocities differently than I am here. And that's a big part of the problem. We have spelled out here what the exact atrocities are. Those are not commonplace, and I don't think you'd find people defending them. At least not people who I would consider to be other than evil.

A person might defend the violence of war, or the fact that people in a certain group are dying in war. But defending torture (without any purpose), murder and rape. Those are things that I don't think a person who is moral can argue. What's more a Paladin cannot argue for that.



Again, I THINK the OP wanted to put us in a situation where the entire system is corrupt, and attempting to uproot the system will result in its destruction at the hands of a far worse evil. Essentially a classic deontological vs. consequentialist morale quandary, but with a few added complications thrown in.

The problem is that people tend to jump to "deontology v. consequentialism" in the case of Paladin arguments. But this is different, in that the consequentialist side is not clearly against the Paladin, and likely would even agree with him. This basically because of the degree is no longer the "Standard Paladin Argument (TM)" This is a separate thing and ti should be treated as a separate thing.



And, you know? Personally I kinda agree with you. But what if there was someone that was beyond vengeance, and was more interested in creating more Good in the world?

I think that in the case of an evil this extreme the way to create more good is to extinguish that evil. This isn't about vengeance, this is about justice. A person can make amends only for so much. If a person were truly repentant for the level of evil we are discussing here, they would likely want to be imprisoned (or dead) because that is the right and just thing. This isn't "I murdered somebody maybe in self-defense" this is "I willingly committed atrocities and reveled in them".



I mean, I still kinda agree? But what if you were a person that was so dedicated to finding good and making more good, that you felt that anyone could be redeemed?


I don't think that a Paladin is that though. At least not most of them. And I don't think they are required to be. Justice cannot be completely silenced because it is a part of both Law and Good. And I personally that they can be redeemed. Redemption in this case though might involve willingly accepting a life sentence or one of death. Because that sort of Evil cries out for justice. And if you have repented of it, you want that as well, or you haven't truly repented. A big part of redemption is doing some sort of proportionate penance, and the penance for this is a very steep one.



Clearly "being nice to your friends" doesn't put you in the "Good" bucket. That's obvious. I'm talking about doing a 180, recognizing the evil you've done, and completely turning away from it.

The thing is that if you were truly repentant and you had done the things that this person has done, then you would probably want to be punished. It's the same reason that V's arc in OOTS irritates me so much, because I don't think a person who commits genocide should be given a pass, ever, even when it's unintentional. This is explicitly a part of a state-sponsored genocide program, and the person has not only participated indirectly, but also directly. I think that in this case if they were to escape justice that would be counter to the cause of Good.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 12:44 PM
The problem is that people tend to jump to "deontology v. consequentialism" in the case of Paladin arguments. But this is different, in that the consequentialist side is not clearly against the Paladin, and likely would even agree with him.I'll go further and state my opinion that people tend to kneejerk think of how consequentialism can be used to justify unpleasant decisions, and rarely how "ends justifies the means" does not preclude using noble (or less unpleasant) means anyways if it would produce the best results in the long run. Consequentialists must make the best decisions they can based on the information they actually have, not become paralyzed by the innumerable "what-ifs" that result from incomplete information.

Consequentialism certainly wouldn't promote an apathetic response from a "Paladin of Utility," if that's what this character is supposed to be, in a situation like this. This situation, and this setting, is definitely NOT the best of all possible worlds.

kyoryu
2019-03-20, 01:05 PM
A big part of redemption is doing some sort of proportionate penance, and the penance for this is a very steep one.

Oh, clearly, though I tend to prefer "make right what was done wrong" vs. "off with her head!"

I mean, what does better to atone? A quick death? A life in prison?

Or years of work both within the army to prevent the type of acts that are apparently occurring, combined with making every effort to help the peoples she has previously wronged?

I mean, the latter sounds a bit better to me. And if she didn't go that extreme with it, I'd really question the "atonement".

It's not a matter of "I'm sorry, my bad, we good now?"


I'll go further and state my opinion that people tend to kneejerk think of how consequentialism can be used to justify unpleasant decisions, and rarely how "ends justifies the means" does not preclude using noble (or less unpleasant) means anyways if it would produce the best results in the long run.

Because when consequentialism doesn't require negative means, it's not a problem. The problem is that consequentialism can easily lead to said justification.

Given a lack of accurate predictive power, it's incredibly easy to rationalize many vile actions from a consequentialist perspective. "Well, if I cheat on my wife I'll be happier at home, so that actually makes it better for everyone." Or, to put it differently, nobody ever had to argue "the ends justify the means" for means that were, in and of themselves, acceptable.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 01:14 PM
Or, to put it differently, nobody ever had to argue "the ends justify the means" for means that were, in and of themselves, acceptable.

Oh sure they do.

As a, very mild, example, I give my dog lots of treats. She enjoys them and I enjoy her being happy. There is nothing wrong about the means of giving a dog a snack. But in the long run, I am risking her health by doing so.

Imagine what the consequences of being "nice" and using only the most pleasant means to a being of unrepentant evil.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 01:30 PM
Because when consequentialism doesn't require negative means, it's not a problem. The problem is that consequentialism can easily lead to said justification.

Given a lack of accurate predictive power, it's incredibly easy to rationalize many vile actions from a consequentialist perspective. "Well, if I cheat on my wife I'll be happier at home, so that actually makes it better for everyone." Or, to put it differently, nobody ever had to argue "the ends justify the means" for means that were, in and of themselves, acceptable.I'd argue that odds of that affair getting outed eventually, in the information age (or a fantasy setting with divinations), is probable to the point it wouldn't be the optimal choice. Having frank discussion with your spouse, explaining the situation and requesting permission for extra-marital sexual relations, would be closer to the answer imo. Even if that's unacceptable and ends the marriage, it's a lot less hurtful than the divorce happening over a (no longer) secret infidelity. Cheating would only be the right choice if you, somehow, had knowledge that the chance of discovery was negligible or impossible.

It's not like deontological systems don't have similar issues. Kantian ethics, for example, puts a higher weight on proscriptive than prescriptive obligations. Which results in stuff like it being immoral to lie to a serial killer (a sapient entity) about where his victims are. This is fixable by adjusting obligations to make, well, better sense, but consequentialism can be similarly improved by developing more advanced and reliable methods of gathering information and modelling results (more than just technology, on a personal and human level this can develop from improving critical thinking ability).

I'm rapidly derailing the thread though, and I don't have much respect for validity of the situation/setting it proposes, so I should likely duck out before I get the thread locked.

kyoryu
2019-03-20, 01:45 PM
I'm rapidly derailing the thread though, and I don't have much respect for validity of the situation/setting it proposes, so I should likely duck out before I get the thread locked.

I have little use for "see if we can make the Paladin fall" scenarios.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-20, 01:50 PM
I have little use for "see if we can make the Paladin fall" scenarios.Agreed.

My overall impression of the situation, as presented in the thread, is that it's less a philosophical question and more an exercise in contrarianism. Deontological paladin? Everything you do makes the world worse! Utilitarian paladin? Enjoy only being able to minimize the growth of negative utility by maintaining the status quo, while any options to increase positive utility are nay-sayed! It's the philosophical equivalent of the DM throwing a Great Wyrm at a level one party.


I don't like how you are so quick to cast judgement on people based on a forum topic, on a discussion made only to entertain.
A topic that cannot help but abut against issues of philosophy and justice. "It's just for entertainment" ignores, or worse obfuscates and shames, that people are going to bring their worldviews into this sort of discussion (well, any discussion if you ask me, but especially this sort of thing). For my part, I don't like how swift you are to fall back on "like, it's just a game, man!" to defend your position in the debate. It's an empty appeal to respectability, especially when AMFV is referring to people in the general and not targeting any specific poster or real life group. Who, exactly, are they judging besides "people who rape, murder, and torture without reason" and perhaps those who would serve as apologists for such people?

zinycor
2019-03-20, 02:06 PM
I think that you are defining atrocities differently than I am here. And that's a big part of the problem. We have spelled out here what the exact atrocities are. Those are not commonplace, and I don't think you'd find people defending them. At least not people who I would consider to be other than evil.

A person might defend the violence of war, or the fact that people in a certain group are dying in war. But defending torture (without any purpose), murder and rape. Those are things that I don't think a person who is moral can argue. What's more a Paladin cannot argue for that.

I don't like how you are so quick to cast judgement on people based on a forum topic, on a discussion made only to entertain.

kyoryu
2019-03-20, 02:07 PM
Agreed.

My overall impression of the situation, as presented in the thread, is that it's less a philosophical question and more an exercise in contrarianism. Deontological paladin? Everything you do makes the world worse! Utilitarian paladin? Enjoy only being able to minimize the growth of negative utility by maintaining the status quo, while any options to increase positive utility are nay-sayed! It's the philosophical equivalent of the DM throwing a Great Wyrm at a level one party.

Which is... kinda why I like the redemption angle?

You stop the person from doing the bad things.

You don't create a hole that will likely be filled either by an evil person or by someone that could turn evil.

You potentially put a person in a position where they can make some real positive change. Like, not only do I think it's better than "off with their heads!" on a personal basis, but it's arguably one of the things that they can do to have the greatest overall impact on the situation.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 02:15 PM
I have little use for "see if we can make the Paladin fall" scenarios.

I got the opposite impression. I thougt the OP was trying to construct a scenario where the paladin should be excused because of sociatel expecations.

Constructman
2019-03-20, 02:25 PM
I got the opposite impression. I thougt the OP was trying to construct a scenario where the paladin should be excused because of sociatel expecations.

Earlier, I mentioned that this focus on societal expectations was what was confusing me when reading this thread. Are Paladins supposed to be beholden to society's expectations, even when they conflict with cosmic Law and Good, or whatever principles the Paladin holds themselves to? Unless the oath they swore specifically mentioned loyalty to crown and king, I don't see how societal expectations are relevant.

A Paladin could swear an oath to the ideals of honour and duty, to the preservation of the sanctity of life, to the enactment of swift retribution against a great evil, to the unrelenting enforcement of order, or to the salvation of all living creatures; all this without entangling themselves in mortal politics. If their oath and/or the god that ordained it come into conflict with societal expectations, well Captain America gave the answer earlier in the thread. As long as they hold true to what they pledged themselves to when they started this journey, I don't see how that would make them any less of a Paladin.

Arbane
2019-03-20, 02:39 PM
I have little use for "see if we can make the Paladin fall" scenarios.

I never see this stuff happening to Clerics.

But, the rules put a BRIGHT, SHINY, CANDY-LIKE self-destruct button on the Paladin class, so people feel like they're not playing the game right if they don't push it.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 02:46 PM
I never see this stuff happening to Clerics.

But, the rules put a BRIGHT, SHINY, CANDY-LIKE self-destruct button on the Paladin class, so people feel like they're not playing the game right if they don't push it.

On the forums maybe. I see more fallen clerics and druids in actual play than I do paladins.

Satinavian
2019-03-20, 03:57 PM
I have little use for "see if we can make the Paladin fall" scenarios.
Of all the persons in this thread, none has argued that this is a scenario where most decisions the paladin could make lead to a fall. At worst, there is one option that is deemed fallworthy or even potentially fallworthy and people are disagreeing about which one it is.

People are very able to argue about what the proper reaction should be without apllying a fall to every other option. OP doesn't even mention a fall, neither do most answers.

I never see this stuff happening to Clerics.

But, the rules put a BRIGHT, SHINY, CANDY-LIKE self-destruct button on the Paladin class, so people feel like they're not playing the game right if they don't push it.Clerics don't have a neat code in the class description and can even have alignment one step different from their god. So to make a cleric fall, you might need enough actions for one or sometimes even more alignment shifts, where a paladin can fall for a single evil deed or failing his codex.

The cleric has additionally to follow the rules of his god. But gods are different and setting specific. Even most of the published official settings lack proper in-depth description of their religions, which means every single table has different rules for what clerics can and can't do even if it is the same god and the rules grossly differ between different gods

For a cleric-fall scenario you would need half a page of campaign specific context to even discuss it.

Satinavian
2019-03-20, 04:11 PM
Earlier, I mentioned that this focus on societal expectations was what was confusing me when reading this thread. Are Paladins supposed to be beholden to society's expectations, even when they conflict with cosmic Law and Good, or whatever principles the Paladin holds themselves to? Unless the oath they swore specifically mentioned loyalty to crown and king, I don't see how societal expectations are relevant.
The 3.5 code :

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.


Later editions allow to choose an oath, but this one does not.

Now the above code is not good. The different components do get in each others way to easily. Which is why we have this discussion in the first place. The new oaths are certainly better rules.

Lord
2019-03-20, 05:39 PM
I think I should clarify a few things.

First off. The friend is not a high ranking officer. She does not have the blood of millions on her hands, as some people seem to think. Hundreds would be pushing it, though since she is high level, so it's not beyond possibility. She is a high level combatant and greatly feared and hated by her enemies, but she is largely just a particularly sought off after mercenary. The paladin's friendship with her is a stabilizing influence and she is significantly less evil when he is around, especially since she tends to follow his lead. She isn't much for leadership so I could easily see her playing the role of a Belkar Bitterleaf type character in other circumstances.

I haven't abandoned the thread. I merely felt that others were doing a better job of making my argument for me.

Also, I like paladins. I love paladins. And I think that paladin type characters work best in dark settings. A man who stands for all that is holy and right, being merciful and just in a merciless and unjust universe is a character that is truly admirable. That's a kind of story I'd like to write.

The truth is that I've been writing a novel where two of the characters have a very similar dynamic to the paladin and the friend. I wanted to get an idea of how people would react. In addition to spurring an interesting philosophical debate.

For my part, I'm in favor of the redemption angle, both because it is tactically sound, without any of the risks that come with killing her, and because I believe that no one is beyond salvation. And forcing someone to make right some of their wrongs, is a better way to make them pay for their crimes than just flat out murdering them. Even if they never make up for their misdeeds fully, they've still gone a lot farther toward fixing them than if they had been stabbed.

Talakeal
2019-03-20, 08:12 PM
I think that you are defining atrocities differently than I am here. And that's a big part of the problem. We have spelled out here what the exact atrocities are. Those are not commonplace, and I don't think you'd find people defending them. At least not people who I would consider to be other than evil.

Internet edge-lords and sociopaths who are trying to justify their behavior will claim that anything is moral, even if it is only an attempt to argue that seemingly good people have no right to judge them because "you're no better than I am!". These are the kinds of people who hide behind gems like psychological egoism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_egoism).

In my father's case he takes a very hard line authoritarian view. He defends practices such as genocide, stoning rape victims, race based slavery, and the torturing of suspect's families to make them confess so long as they are the law of the land in the time and place where they take place. He literally believes that legality and morality are the same thing.


The problem is that people tend to jump to "deontology v. consequentialism" in the case of Paladin arguments. But this is different, in that the consequentialist side is not clearly against the Paladin, and likely would even agree with him. This basically because of the degree is no longer the "Standard Paladin Argument (TM)" This is a separate thing and ti should be treated as a separate thing.

We have a warrior society that does not view their enemies as humans. Further they are facing an existential threat to their way of life in the form of a demon-emperor who is invading their lands and hoping to impose his own Orwellian dystopia.

In this case the people of the nation, perhaps correctly, believe that rape, torture, and slaughter of innocents are simply part of war and necessary to preserve their way of life. If the paladin stands by his principles and attempts to tear down the corrupt and barbaric society, it might very well have the end result of the entire world falling under the dominion of said demon, which is, at the very least for the people of the western nations, a far worse fate than accepting that sometimes atrocities might be necessary to win a war.


I think that in the case of an evil this extreme the way to create more good is to extinguish that evil. This isn't about vengeance, this is about justice. A person can make amends only for so much. If a person were truly repentant for the level of evil we are discussing here, they would likely want to be imprisoned (or dead) because that is the right and just thing. This isn't "I murdered somebody maybe in self-defense" this is "I willingly committed atrocities and reveled in them".

I don't think that a Paladin is that though. At least not most of them. And I don't think they are required to be. Justice cannot be completely silenced because it is a part of both Law and Good. And I personally that they can be redeemed. Redemption in this case though might involve willingly accepting a life sentence or one of death. Because that sort of Evil cries out for justice. And if you have repented of it, you want that as well, or you haven't truly repented. A big part of redemption is doing some sort of proportionate penance, and the penance for this is a very steep one.

The thing is that if you were truly repentant and you had done the things that this person has done, then you would probably want to be punished. It's the same reason that V's arc in OOTS irritates me so much, because I don't think a person who commits genocide should be given a pass, ever, even when it's unintentional. This is explicitly a part of a state-sponsored genocide program, and the person has not only participated indirectly, but also directly. I think that in this case if they were to escape justice that would be counter to the cause of Good.

In my opinion punishment for punishment's sake can go take a flying leap. Mercy is a virtue, vengeance is not. Believing that the guilty must be punished is, imo, more a matter of lawfulness than goodness.

On the other hand, redemption is all well and good, but you better be damned sure that by letting off someone who has proven in the past that they are both willing and able to commit atrocities you aren't allowing them to happen in the future.


It makes me uncomfortable and itchy that people are claiming this scenario is

Much of modern systemic injustice does not result in a population utterly desensitized to and accepting of a given form of injustice. If anything, it often relies obvious atrocities being duly punished and decried, to produce the illusion of a just system that renders the populace unaware or unwilling to challenge the power structure.

It's superpowers getting away with war crimes not just because no one can hold them accountable, but because their own people rarely want to admit what's been done on their behalf. It's condemning and decrying the mass shooter of the week, while clutching our guns tighter and refusing to introspect where aspects of our own culture radicalized them. It's agreeing that rape is Wrong, but letting rapists off the hook on a mere shadow of doubt because our culture has slanted empathy towards the perpetrator instead of the victim. It's looking for art-hating devils in the offices of EA and Activision, while ignoring how even the bad actors there are ultimately driven by underlying economics and not cartoonish malice. It's refusing to analyze how, or even acknowledge that, the media we create and consume (say, a tabletop RPG that pretends to a system of absolute morality and frequently involves violently raiding and killing racial and species groups labeled evil) says something about us. It's doing all the above because if we looked into those injustices, we might find something of ourselves staring back, and that would obligate us to DO something about, ripping us from the comfort and goods we derive from the status quo.

Systemic injustice is subtle and sinister because it wraps itself into social structures that otherwise serve a public good, making everyday "good people" all complicit, consolidating power in the hands of those who best perpetuate the system, and thereby building inertia to change and social justice.

The world as presented in this thread, to my eyes, is not that. It's a world of rapist torturers who rape and torture rapists who torture. It's a world where no one except the paladin seems to have the opinion that this sort of thing is wrong. It sidesteps the issue of scapegoat devils by making the entire world filled with devils, which is closer to 90's comics or Warhammer than

Then it drops a paladin, a concept largely defined by deontological precepts from a system that pretends to absolutist morality, into a strawman depiction of moral relativism or utilitarianism and expects it to produce results.

You are talking about subtle systemic injustice. I am not. I am talking about naked atrocities and violations of international law which modern superpowers do commit all the time.

And tearing down a corrupt society it is a complex philosophical issue, because it is mostly futile, and cannot be done without a hell of a lot of collateral damage.


I think I should clarify a few things.

First off. The friend is not a high ranking officer. She does not have the blood of millions on her hands, as some people seem to think. Hundreds would be pushing it, though since she is high level, so it's not beyond possibility. She is a high level combatant and greatly feared and hated by her enemies, but she is largely just a particularly sought off after mercenary. The paladin's friendship with her is a stabilizing influence and she is significantly less evil when he is around, especially since she tends to follow his lead. She isn't much for leadership so I could easily see her playing the role of a Belkar Bitterleaf type character in other circumstances.

I haven't abandoned the thread. I merely felt that others were doing a better job of making my argument for me.

Also, I like paladins. I love paladins. And I think that paladin type characters work best in dark settings. A man who stands for all that is holy and right, being merciful and just in a merciless and unjust universe is a character that is truly admirable. That's a kind of story I'd like to write.

The truth is that I've been writing a novel where two of the characters have a very similar dynamic to the paladin and the friend. I wanted to get an idea of how people would react. In addition to spurring an interesting philosophical debate.

For my part, I'm in favor of the redemption angle, both because it is tactically sound, without any of the risks that come with killing her, and because I believe that no one is beyond salvation. And forcing someone to make right some of their wrongs, is a better way to make them pay for their crimes than just flat out murdering them. Even if they never make up for their misdeeds fully, they've still gone a lot farther toward fixing them than if they had been stabbed.

Is it a D&D novel? If not I wouldn't toss the word paladin around a (primarily) 3.5 D&D forum as it has a lot of extra baggage which serves to tear most of the complexity out of the situation.

Lord
2019-03-20, 08:24 PM
Eh, paladin as a word originated with Charlamange and the Song of Roland. The most famous examples of paladins all come from Arthurian Legend, with characters like Galahad, Sir Lancelot, King Arthur, etc etc. D&D by no means has a copyright on it.

It isn't, precisely, a D&D novel. But the original concept from it was very much based on a foundation of D&D before it all moved away and became its own thing. The main protagonist was envisioned as a D&D style paladin who is put into situations where the proper course of action was difficult to discern, and who had inadvertantly begun association with a powerful evil outside without knowing it.

So I think the question still holds merit.

AMFV
2019-03-20, 11:38 PM
The 3.5 code :

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.


Later editions allow to choose an oath, but this one does not.

Now the above code is not good. The different components do get in each others way to easily. Which is why we have this discussion in the first place. The new oaths are certainly better rules.

There is no conflict. Authority which is authorizing and sanctioning war crimes ceases to be legitimate as another poster pointed out upthread.

Satinavian
2019-03-21, 01:55 AM
There is no conflict. Authority which is authorizing and sanctioning war crimes ceases to be legitimate as another poster pointed out upthread.
And as i already said, this is completely wrong.

Legitimacy is not the same thing as goodness.

hamishspence
2019-03-21, 02:27 AM
Legitimacy is not the same thing as goodness.

But, to the good, evil authority is illegitimate.

Satinavian
2019-03-21, 02:40 AM
But, to the good, evil authority is illegitimate.
Not really. But in countless spreadbooks Paladins do get an exception for evil gouvernments, tyrannies or societies. This exception was needed because even evil legitimate gouvernments can exist and people want paladins being able to fight those. In a core only game you would technically even have a problem with that but no one plays it this way.

But that is irrelevant in this case. Neither the society nor the gouvernment here is "evil" as such, even if they let in some cases evil happen to save their own hide.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-21, 02:44 AM
There's a step below labelling an authority figure illegitimate, you know? It's labelling a specific order illegitimate if it contradicts another order or principle higher in the hierarchy.

Satinavian
2019-03-21, 04:11 AM
There's a step below labelling an authority figure illegitimate, you know? It's labelling a specific order illegitimate if it contradicts another order or principle higher in the hierarchy.
True. But this higher order or principle must come from that hierarchy. You don't get to use your own own personal values or principles instead to claim something is illegitimate.

Even worse, many systems do have procedures in place that are to be followed if such a conflict arises. Which again means you don't get to arbitrarily decide about legitimacy.

Talakeal
2019-03-21, 07:44 AM
Eh, paladin as a word originated with Charlamange and the Song of Roland. The most famous examples of paladins all come from Arthurian Legend, with characters like Galahad, Sir Lancelot, King Arthur, etc etc. D&D by no means has a copyright on it.

It isn't, precisely, a D&D novel. But the original concept from it was very much based on a foundation of D&D before it all moved away and became its own thing. The main protagonist was envisioned as a D&D style paladin who is put into situations where the proper course of action was difficult to discern, and who had inadvertantly begun association with a powerful evil outside without knowing it.

So I think the question still holds merit.

D&D may not have invented the word, but they sure attached a lot of baggage to it.

hamishspence
2019-03-21, 07:56 AM
And, traditionally, a paladin, when "forced to choose between Law and Good" - chooses Good:



https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ToBeLawfulOrGood

A common dilemma for The Paladin (especially if there's a Jerkass DM at the table), but by definition a Paladin always chooses good over law.

AMFV
2019-03-21, 09:29 AM
And as i already said, this is completely wrong.

Legitimacy is not the same thing as goodness.

Legitimacy is not the same as goodness, no. BUT ordering war crimes makes you not legitimate any more. I mean that's even how it works in the real world. If I were ordered to commit a war crime by anybody that would be an order that I could have (and should have) refused. Because that is not a lawful order. A Paladin has no reason to respect a government that is ordering things like that, any more than a Paladin is required to obey that authority.

Edit:

True. But this higher order or principle must come from that hierarchy. You don't get to use your own own personal values or principles instead to claim something is illegitimate.

Even worse, many systems do have procedures in place that are to be followed if such a conflict arises. Which again means you don't get to arbitrarily decide about legitimacy.

It's not your own personal values or principles, it's the values and principles of your God and the powers of Law and Goodness that you get to use. And without those systems and procedures in place (which they don't have here as far as we know) then it's up to you.

Edit 2:


Not really. But in countless spreadbooks Paladins do get an exception for evil gouvernments, tyrannies or societies. This exception was needed because even evil legitimate gouvernments can exist and people want paladins being able to fight those. In a core only game you would technically even have a problem with that but no one plays it this way.

But that is irrelevant in this case. Neither the society nor the gouvernment here is "evil" as such, even if they let in some cases evil happen to save their own hide.

A government that sanctions rape and torture and murder of prisoners as a weapon is unarguably evil. Period.

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-21, 09:41 AM
True. But this higher order or principle must come from that hierarchy. You don't get to use your own own personal values or principles instead to claim something is illegitimate.

For a paladin, the top of that hierarchy is universal principles of Lawful Good alignment and particulars of the Paladin's code. A person who wants to remain a paladin must adhere to those above and beyond any secular law. A character who shirks from those in favor of obeying secular law may still be Good, but definitely falls as a paladin.

Satinavian
2019-03-21, 09:50 AM
Legitimacy is not the same as goodness, no. BUT ordering war crimes makes you not legitimate any more. I mean that's even how it works in the real world. If I were ordered to commit a war crime by anybody that would be an order that I could have (and should have) refused. Because that is not a lawful order. A Paladin has no reason to respect a government that is ordering things like that, any more than a Paladin is required to obey that authority.
That is because in the real world atrocities and needless devastation in wars regularly led to people making rules and international agreements about how wars have to be fought. Those rules changed several times and every time we had some particulat nasty war we got new ones while others lost importance. The most important ones that are still active are the Hague and Geneva conventions.
And yes, a modern solder who gets an order against those conventions has every right to question the legitimity of that order. Many (while not all countries) have additionally laws that criminalize following such an order, let alone issuing one. But if those conventions would not exist, the order would be legitimate.

That fantasy world however ? Seems that what happens in those raids seems to be within whatever those countries deem allowed in the war. There is no international recognized rules that make this stuff into warcrimes. It is only warcrimes from our earthly perspective (and according to Geneva and Hague). In the gameworld it is still very nasty and frowned upon stuff. But if a country wants to allow it, there is no kind of higher law in place saying it can't.

Talakeal
2019-03-21, 10:08 AM
That is because in the real world atrocities and needless devastation in wars regularly led to people making rules and international agreements about how wars have to be fought. Those rules changed several times and every time we had some particulat nasty war we got new ones while others lost importance. The most important ones that are still active are the Hague and Geneva conventions.
And yes, a modern solder who gets an order against those conventions has every right to question the legitimity of that order. Many (while not all countries) have additionally laws that criminalize following such an order, let alone issuing one. But if those conventions would not exist, the order would be legitimate.

That fantasy world however ? Seems that what happens in those raids seems to be within whatever those countries deem allowed in the war. There is no international recognized rules that make this stuff into warcrimes. It is only warcrimes from our earthly perspective (and according to Geneva and Hague). In the gameworld it is still very nasty and frowned upon stuff. But if a country wants to allow it, there is no kind of higher law in place saying it can't.

In D&D there are absolutely higher laws than mortal governments. There are divine laws that trump mortal laws, and multiversal laws that trump divine laws.

zlefin
2019-03-21, 10:12 AM
And as i already said, this is completely wrong.

Legitimacy is not the same thing as goodness.

it's more that you're just plain wrong on the rules; or possibly making a language error.
what's relevant here is legitimacy, for purposes of the paladin's code. not legitimacy, as how it's viewed by society. and for the paladin's code, a government doing/covering up/excusing evil loses legitimacy.

the more I think, the more I suspect the real problem is you're conflating the two legitimacy standards.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-21, 10:24 AM
That fantasy world however ? Seems that what happens in those raids seems to be within whatever those countries deem allowed in the war. There is no international recognized rules that make this stuff into warcrimes. It is only warcrimes from our earthly perspective (and according to Geneva and Hague). In the gameworld it is still very nasty and frowned upon stuff. But if a country wants to allow it, there is no kind of higher law in place saying it can't.

The issue here is you don't actually seem to want a paladin. The paladin is a divine warrior, answerable to their god, and to the ideals of lawful goodness. They are answerable to a nation only insofar as a nation upholds those lawful good ideals. If a nation violates those ideals hard enough then they are illegitimate in the eyes of a paladin. You want some sort of champion of government class that the paladin just isn't, and never was, intended to be. May I put forward "justiciar" as a name for this theoretical class of yours?

AMFV
2019-03-21, 10:38 AM
That is because in the real world atrocities and needless devastation in wars regularly led to people making rules and international agreements about how wars have to be fought. Those rules changed several times and every time we had some particulat nasty war we got new ones while others lost importance. The most important ones that are still active are the Hague and Geneva conventions.

This is true, but even before those agreements there is a still a moral duty to do what is right. If it was not so, then we would have not been able to convict anybody in the Nuremberg trials. This is because both of the conventions you discuss are based in the presumption that there is a deeper moral law, whether that is divinely inspired or a product of human reason is up for debate, but the fact is that even if ordered to do so, one should not act against morality. That's a theme throughout most of history.



And yes, a modern solder who gets an order against those conventions has every right to question the legitimity of that order. Many (while not all countries) have additionally laws that criminalize following such an order, let alone issuing one. But if those conventions would not exist, the order would be legitimate.

I don't believe you're correct. Again, we have tried people for war crimes who were obeying orders when the Geneva convention DID NOT APPLY to civilians. So if you were right, we would not have eben able to try anybody.



That fantasy world however ? Seems that what happens in those raids seems to be within whatever those countries deem allowed in the war. There is no international recognized rules that make this stuff into warcrimes. It is only warcrimes from our earthly perspective (and according to Geneva and Hague). In the gameworld it is still very nasty and frowned upon stuff. But if a country wants to allow it, there is no kind of higher law in place saying it can't.

If there are Paladins there is by definition something that creates Paladins, that would be the higher law. It might not be one that countries follow, but it is the higher law, and notably that is the authority that Paladins must follow above all else.

Also it is of note that "respecting" an authority does not equate to obeying it, in all cases. A Paladin could respectfully refuse to commit a warcrime even if ordered to do so by his superior or government. A Paladin could respectfully kill this person who might deserve to die (by allowing them a fair fight, which the Paladin is required to do anyways, and by telling them why the Paladin is doing what they are doing).

Satinavian
2019-03-21, 11:15 AM
This is true, but even before those agreements there is a still a moral duty to do what is right. If it was not so, then we would have not been able to convict anybody in the Nuremberg trials. This is because both of the conventions you discuss are based in the presumption that there is a deeper moral law, whether that is divinely inspired or a product of human reason is up for debate, but the fact is that even if ordered to do so, one should not act against morality. That's a theme throughout most of history.That is indeed an interesting case. Keep in mind that the Nuremberg trial were extremely wonky regarding legitimacy. They are basically based on victors powers to do whatever they wish with the conquered.

But it worked and people accepted that. Because hardly anyone disagreed much with the result and nearly everyone was allied to at least one victor side for decades. This acceptance, this long lack of any serious challenge is, what now, more than half a century later, makes them legitimate. And makes the principles they were based on valid. That is also one of many strange ways international law works. But it was a big gamble at the time, there was the very real fear they would be regarded as a kangaroo court by later generations.

I also would disagree with the conventions being driven by assumption of deeper moral law. They are mostly driven by utilitarism and how the great powers of the time wanted war to be. You don't kill negotiators and envoys because you want to be able to end hostility by negotiation eventually. You don't do false surrenders, because you want the enemy to take your defeated soldiers prisoner and get them back after the war. You want soldiers neatly labelled as such because accidently killing enemy civilians doesn't help you but the enemy accidently killing your civilians will hurt you afterwards. It is mostly stuff like war. Waging war with an eye on the peace that comes later.

If there are Paladins there is by definition something that creates Paladins, that would be the higher law. It might not be one that countries follow, but it is the higher law, and notably that is the authority that Paladins must follow above all else.Paladins don't have a communication channel to the powers they benefit from. It is basically only power, but not any moral guidance. If there is a higher law, they don't know it any better than the next man.


Also it is of note that "respecting" an authority does not equate to obeying it, in all cases. A Paladin could respectfully refuse to commit a warcrime even if ordered to do so by his superior or government. A Paladin could respectfully kill this person who might deserve to die (by allowing them a fair fight, which the Paladin is required to do anyways, and by telling them why the Paladin is doing what they are doing).If a paladin respectfully declines an order that he sees as immoral, fine. That is enough respect.

If a paladin kills this person that the lawful authority has explicitely choosen not to punish because vital function for the society, well, that i would rule as a big violation.




The issue here is you don't actually seem to want a paladin. The paladin is a divine warrior, answerable to their god, and to the ideals of lawful goodness. They are answerable to a nation only insofar as a nation upholds those lawful good ideals. If a nation violates those ideals hard enough then they are illegitimate in the eyes of a paladin. You want some sort of champion of government class that the paladin just isn't, and never was, intended to be. May I put forward "justiciar" as a name for this theoretical class of yours?No, i don't think a paladin is a good class to act as some kind of vigilante avenger if the society does not approach cartoony evil. Also they are answerable to a nation like every other citizen if they are a citizen. They don't get special treatment.

AMFV
2019-03-21, 12:19 PM
That is indeed an interesting case. Keep in mind that the Nuremberg trial were extremely wonky regarding legitimacy. They are basically based on victors powers to do whatever they wish with the conquered.


Hardly, if that were so, they wouldn't have needed to hold a trial at all and could simply have left them dead in a ditch somewhere, or publicly tortured and executed them without a trial.



But it worked and people accepted that. Because hardly anyone disagreed much with the result and nearly everyone was allied to at least one victor side for decades. This acceptance, this long lack of any serious challenge is, what now, more than half a century later, makes them legitimate. And makes the principles they were based on valid. That is also one of many strange ways international law works. But it was a big gamble at the time, there was the very real fear they would be regarded as a kangaroo court by later generations.

Yes, but they weren't so by extension it must be reasoned that the underlying legitimacy here remains present. That there is some underlying principle that allows people to continue to consider them to be legitimate.



I also would disagree with the conventions being driven by assumption of deeper moral law. They are mostly driven by utilitarism and how the great powers of the time wanted war to be. You don't kill negotiators and envoys because you want to be able to end hostility by negotiation eventually. You don't do false surrenders, because you want the enemy to take your defeated soldiers prisoner and get them back after the war. You want soldiers neatly labelled as such because accidently killing enemy civilians doesn't help you but the enemy accidently killing your civilians will hurt you afterwards. It is mostly stuff like war. Waging war with an eye on the peace that comes later.

Which suggests a higher moral law, no? The fact that we want to have these conventions isn't exclusively utilitarian. Soldiers receiving mail when imprisoned? That's not utilitarian at all. The lack of torture, that's also non-utilitarian, the restrictions on kinds of weapons permitted, also not utilitarian. I think that you do not have a lot of knowledge on these particular. I've been in wars. I have some knowledge of this sort of thing. There are utilitarian advantages... yes, but they aren't the backing reason, and nver the sole reasoning.



Paladins don't have a communication channel to the powers they benefit from. It is basically only power, but not any moral guidance. If there is a higher law, they don't know it any better than the next man.

1.) They presumably have a lot more learning and education on the subject than the "next man" they also have the ability to detect evil which gives them a better sense of guidance than the other person.

2.) Also you're assuming that Gods don't communicate with the Paladins, which has been contradicted in dozens and hundreds of works. And if a God has communicated with other Paladins in your order then you can follow the God's guidance at a later time. I suspect that no good God would want this sort of barbaric treatment happening.



If a paladin respectfully declines an order that he sees as immoral, fine. That is enough respect.

And there is a responsibility to stop somebody else from carrying out the same order, if it is immoral. If a Paladin refuses to execute an innocent civilian, but then when the General turns to somebody else and makes the same order, he does nothing. That is equally not permissible. A Paladin cannot permit murder and torture and atrocities.



If a paladin kills this person that the lawful authority has explicitely choosen not to punish because vital function for the society, well, that i would rule as a big violation.

And you would be wrong. Because a society can be evil, and therefore illegitimate to a Paladin. A Paladin is not bound by the laws of a society just because they are laws. A Paladin in Thay or Mulhorond would not be bound to return a tortured and raped escaped slave, even if that were the law, and should actively act against that return. Because that's the right thing to do. A Paladin cannot allow atrocities.



No, i don't think a paladin is a good class to act as some kind of vigilante avenger if the society does not approach cartoony evil. Also they are answerable to a nation like every other citizen if they are a citizen. They don't get special treatment.

The society is past "cartoony evil" that's what you're missing. The person in question has personally raped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of people (or around a hundred) that would put them at a scale of evil that very few people in the real world approach.

And the Paladin might still need to answer to legal authorities, hell if I were in that situation I might even turn myself into the legal authorities. But I would still need to do the thing that they were not willing to do. Because those lives, that innocence, those people do not deserve rape and torture because they are of a different ethnic background. Period. That's so evil that you could not legally put in a children's cartoon.

This is way past Snidely Whiplash.

The Glyphstone
2019-03-21, 12:56 PM
If the world lacks an objective morality, and mass atrocities are a commonplace and legally acceptable act of war, trying to stop or punish them isn't being a paladin. It's being Don Quixote, and their story will end the same way or worse.

Also, let's do a hard veer away from historical real-life politics please.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-03-21, 01:05 PM
It's being Don Quixote, and their story will end the same way or worse.

I fail to see the issue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNJtTKdUec

AMFV
2019-03-21, 02:14 PM
If the world lacks an objective morality, and mass atrocities are a commonplace and legally acceptable act of war, trying to stop or punish them isn't being a paladin. It's being Don Quixote, and their story will end the same way or worse.

If you exist in a world like that, and are a Paladin, then you are Don Quixote. Except you're not a ridiculous one, you're a tragic hero. Any Paladin that exists in that world, should know that his story is not going to end well, but that doesn't matter, because if you are a Paladin you should be willing to die for what you believe.

So if you are a Paladin in a world like that, then you'll likely end your life trying to stop great evil, and maybe succeeding in some small way, that's all you can hope for.

zinycor
2019-03-21, 02:42 PM
If you exist in a world like that, and are a Paladin, then you are Don Quixote. Except you're not a ridiculous one, you're a tragic hero. Any Paladin that exists in that world, should know that his story is not going to end well, but that doesn't matter, because if you are a Paladin you should be willing to die for what you believe.

So if you are a Paladin in a world like that, then you'll likely end your life trying to stop great evil, and maybe succeeding in some small way, that's all you can hope for.

Don quixote is a tragic hero, in a comedic way of course.

AMFV
2019-03-21, 03:16 PM
I don't like how you are so quick to cast judgement on people based on a forum topic, on a discussion made only to entertain.

If those people are saying that a government that orders war crimes is a legitimate one, then yes, I would be pretty judgey of them. If someone says "I'm playing a chaotic evil character who commits war crimes cause this is a game." Then I wouldn't be so judgmental. The difference is that one situation the person admits that what is being simulated is evil, in the other they don't.


Don quixote is a tragic hero, in a comedic way of course.

I am aware of this. And a Paladin in a world like that would also be a tragic hero. A Paladin in that world would probably be proud to be a tragic hero. While the stories of every single Paladin don't necessarily end in tragedy, a Paladin should be prepared for that. He's one step away from being martyred all his life, from being a casualty in the fight against evil, and he's ready to die, because that may be required of him. Being a tragic hero, having to die for what you believe in, is not a drawback.

zinycor
2019-03-21, 03:44 PM
Anyway, going back to helping the op.

when you say that this paladin character isn't necessarily in a D&D book, does he still have magic at his disposal? if so, how does he get access to it?

Frozen_Feet
2019-03-22, 05:41 AM
If the world lacks an objective morality, and mass atrocities are a commonplace and legally acceptable act of war, trying to stop or punish them isn't being a paladin. It's being Don Quixote, and their story will end the same way or worse.

Paladins originate from chivalric romance, if the setting is not chivalric romance, then being a paladin is synonymous with being Don Quijote. But so what? Playing Don Quijote is fun.

Lord
2019-03-22, 03:31 PM
Anyway, going back to helping the op.

when you say that this paladin character isn't necessarily in a D&D book, does he still have magic at his disposal? if so, how does he get access to it?

Well for one thing, said paladin has a great deal of healing power at his disposal. He has a special talent for it, and spends his off hours healing the sick and injured of commoners. He also has a talent for dispelling curses.

zinycor
2019-03-22, 05:21 PM
Well for one thing, said paladin has a great deal of healing power at his disposal. He has a special talent for it, and spends his off hours healing the sick and injured of commoners. He also has a talent for dispelling curses.

Yeah, but, what's the origin of this power? On DnD it comes from THE forces of law and good, which are very particular to DnD, and on a world that has shades of gray and moral questions, such as the pne you seem to be presenting, there simply isn't room for The forces of law and good.

So then, I ask again, what's the origin of this paladin's power?

Malifice
2019-03-23, 01:10 PM
What is evil/good only matters if this fictional reality (universe and afterlife etc) of the OPs has objective morality.

If it doesn't have objective morality, and evil/ good are entirely subjective, then the OP's entire argument and question is fundamentally pointless and nonsensical.

Morality only matters in such a case if you want it to, and you get to define what morality is in any event. It's all a moot point.

If OTOH the OP's paladin lives in a reality whereby morality is absolute and objectively determined (say... by some cosmic force such as the 'Gods'), and that morality broadly lines up with the morality as expressed by most RPG's and commonly held social norms (rape, torture, genocide, murder, slavery, killing other than in self defense or to end suffering, are evil) and (compassion, kindness, self sacrifice for the benefit of others, mercy and altruism) are good, then (and only then) does it becomes a question that needs to be answered.

For mine (from a roleplaying perspective) I dont write 'good' in the alignment section of my character sheet unless I'm intending on playing a Good character (a kind, altruistic, merciful, and nice person, who avoids killing others unless it's the only way to save the lives of innocents and no other option presents itself, abhors harming others needlessly etc). It's my subjective beliefs. If that mirrors objective game reality, so be it.

The opposite is true. If I'm playing a guy who thinks some people deserve death or slavery, is OK with torture to extract important information, and views compassion, altruism and mercy as weaknesses, i'll write 'Evil' on my character sheet.

The problem with our hobby is many of us will write 'good' on that sheet and then go around murdering, torturing, engaging in genocide, necromancy, Demon summoning and all sorts of horrendous crap. The only difference between a good PC and an evil one is the Evil ones randomly murder NPCs for talking funny or ripping them off a copper piece, engage in the most vile of tortures, and make Charles Manson look like a reasoned and merciful chap with insight.

On the 5E forums I've seen mass infanticide and the torture and murder of nuns at the request of a Demon Lord, galactic genocide, mass rape of a mind controlled planets population, child abuse, necromancy, cannibalism, murder, neutron bombing friends and family, and worse all defined as 'good' or something that a 'good' aligned PC can frequently do.

Its always the way with these threads. I do suspect the OP kind of knew this though. Personally I dont have any of these problems at my table; I put my foot down hard when it comes to an alignment debate, and Im more than happy to rub out a Players mistake on his character sheet, and replace whatever he wrote in his alignment section with what the 'Gods' view him as (presuming alignment is objective of course).

zinycor
2019-03-23, 05:49 PM
Well it's not like alignment matters on 5e, I believe it only matters for a couple of legendary items, and not many spells interact with alignment either.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-03-23, 08:32 PM
Well it's not like alignment matters on 5e, I believe it only matters for a couple of legendary items, and not many spells interact with alignment either.

That's true mechanically, but the mechanics of alignment have always been the weakest part IMO. Because it turns it into a part of the cost-benefit calculus, rather than being a true characterization tool. It also has severe warping effects on the worldbuilding, but that's a different matter.

zinycor
2019-03-23, 08:58 PM
That's true mechanically, but the mechanics of alignment have always been the weakest part IMO. Because it turns it into a part of the cost-benefit calculus, rather than being a true characterization tool. It also has severe warping effects on the worldbuilding, but that's a different matter.

Absolutely, but because of not existing in the mechanics, alignment on 5e is just as important as it is on WoD or star wars, that is to say, something that may or may not help you define your character or NPCs.

Malifice
2019-03-23, 10:49 PM
Absolutely, but because of not existing in the mechanics, alignment on 5e is just as important as it is on WoD or star wars, that is to say, something that may or may not help you define your character or NPCs.

In Star Wars alignment is objective. The 'Dark side' is an actual malevolent force that corrupts force users, and by extension all living things.

Most (if not all) versions of that game have Force powers that just are evil due to their very nature, and further oblige the GM to hand out 'dark side points' for evil acts.

If I'm running Star Wars and someone tortures a creature to extract information, they gain a dark side point, no arguments at the table permitted.

The character doing the torturing can justify or rationalize it all they want. As can the player. For all that it matters,

The lore is full of well meaning people turning to evil in just such a way.

zinycor
2019-03-23, 11:07 PM
In Star Wars alignment is objective. The 'Dark side' is an actual malevolent force that corrupts force users, and by extension all living things.

Most (if not all) versions of that game have Force powers that just are evil due to their very nature, and further oblige the GM to hand out 'dark side points' for evil acts.

If I'm running Star Wars and someone tortures a creature to extract information, they gain a dark side point, no arguments at the table permitted.

The character doing the torturing can justify or rationalize it all they want. As can the player. For all that it matters,

The lore is full of well meaning people turning to evil in just such a way.

Ņ? How is that relevant? I only brought star wars as a setting whre you can choose to be whatever alignment you want even though alignment doesn't exist in it. Don't derail the post.

Malifice
2019-03-23, 11:25 PM
Ņ? How is that relevant? I only brought star wars as a setting whre you can choose to be whatever alignment you want even though alignment doesn't exist in it. Don't derail the post.

I'm not 'derailing the post'. I'm refuting your point.

Alignment does exist in Star Wars. It's an actual objective thing and has an actual mechanical effects (falling to the dark side) and actual mechanical rules (dark side points). Many powers are expressly listed as Dark side.

Me (as a Star Wars GM): 'Right fellas, who's intrested in a SWSE campaign? Starting at 1st level, in the Dark times between III and IV. All books are in, house rules are [XXX].

Also; this is going to be a heroic campaign. Heroic characters ONLY, and no [dark side] characters, and if you [fall to the dark side] during the campaign, you lose your character.'

How can you say alignment is not relevant here? I might not be using the DnD terminology for good and evil, but it's the exact same thing as me saying:

Me (as a 5E DM): 'Right fellas, who's interested in a 5E campaign? Starting at 1st level, ToA adventure path in Chult. All books are in, house rules are [XXX].

Also; this is going to be a heroic campaign. Heroic characters ONLY, and no [evilly aligned] characters, and if [your alignment changes to evil] during the campaign, you lose your character.'

RifleAvenger
2019-03-23, 11:59 PM
Absolutely, but because of not existing in the mechanics, alignment on 5e is just as important as it is on WoD or star wars, that is to say, something that may or may not help you define your character or NPCs.Yeah, it only does such unimportant things as:


Define the major cosmological conflicts in most base settings.
Sets an objective standard for morality and ethics in the base settings.
Code various factions and races as heroic or villainous by default.
Influence player expectations and actions when playing D&D 5e via the above.

And when I say "base setting," I actually mean "these assumptions are presented as the default and setting agnostic." Including alignment at all leads to certain assumptions and inclinations from players, and it definitely shapes most published D&D settings as well as many homebrew setting made with D&D in mind. Even if you try to run a game with no alignments, its influence on monsters and cultures as presented in the core books means having to both rewrite that stuff as GM and get your players on board with/understanding of those changes.

Setting worldbuilding, lore, and framing matters unless you're doing a whitebox dungeon crawl; alignment colors or even helps shape all of those things in D&D. You bring up WoD/CoD, but I'd wager a core-only Seer of the Throne chronicle is going to look very different from a Free Council focused one even if no one takes Order specific merits (the only mechanical differences between the Orders, most of which are in splatbooks anyways).

zinycor
2019-03-24, 12:36 AM
Yeah, it only does such unimportant things as:


Define the major cosmological conflicts in most base settings.
Sets an objective standard for morality and ethics in the base settings.
Code various factions and races as heroic or villainous by default.
Influence player expectations and actions when playing D&D 5e via the above.

And when I say "base setting," I actually mean "these assumptions are presented as the default and setting agnostic." Including alignment at all leads to certain assumptions and inclinations from players, and it definitely shapes most published D&D settings as well as many homebrew setting made with D&D in mind. Even if you try to run a game with no alignments, its influence on monsters and cultures as presented in the core books means having to both rewrite that stuff as GM and get your players on board with/understanding of those changes.

Setting worldbuilding, lore, and framing matters unless you're doing a whitebox dungeon crawl; alignment colors or even helps shape all of those things in D&D. You bring up WoD/CoD, but I'd wager a core-only Seer of the Throne chronicle is going to look very different from a Free Council focused one even if no one takes Order specific merits (the only mechanical differences between the Orders, most of which are in splatbooks anyways).

Exactly, unimportant things.

RifleAvenger
2019-03-24, 12:54 AM
Exactly, unimportant things.

Oh, I see...


... snide disdain for anyone who treats their PC [or campaign] as something other or more than a plastic playing piece, or a shabby masquerade mask, gets old really fast, and doesn't do your promotion of your stated preference in gaming approaches any favors.

Constructman
2019-03-24, 01:11 AM
Exactly, unimportant things.

Given setting info is pretty much the scope of what OP was asking about, this isn't an unimportant thing.

And anyways,


Well it's not like alignment matters on 5e, I believe it only matters for a couple of legendary items, and not many spells interact with alignment either.

If you're talking about 5e specifically, Paladins might not fall due to alignment changes anymore, but can still fall by violating the spirit of their Oath (subclass). A Devotion Paladin shirking their duty and indulging in cowardice, an Ancients Paladin standing aside and letting wickedness flourish, a Vengeance Paladin giving up on their vendetta, etc. The DM can force a Paladin to switch their subclass to Oathbreaker or change their class altogether if the Paladin is ignoring the tenets of their subclass.

Malifice
2019-03-24, 03:42 AM
Oh, I see...

Yeah. Thats me done also.

zinycor
2019-03-24, 08:33 AM
Given setting info is pretty much the scope of what OP was asking about, this isn't an unimportant thing.

And anyways,



If you're talking about 5e specifically, Paladins might not fall due to alignment changes anymore, but can still fall by violating the spirit of their Oath (subclass). A Devotion Paladin shirking their duty and indulging in cowardice, an Ancients Paladin standing aside and letting wickedness flourish, a Vengeance Paladin giving up on their vendetta, etc. The DM can force a Paladin to switch their subclass to Oathbreaker or change their class altogether if the Paladin is ignoring the tenets of their subclass.

That's true, but the OP isn't asking on 5e, nor any DnD setting, he is asking for a custom setting, for which he still hasn't stated the oath taken by the paladin.

If the oath in question is as clear as those in DnD then the answer is pretty simple as you have stated, but it might not be.

Constructman
2019-03-24, 08:56 AM
That's true, but the OP isn't asking on 5e, nor any DnD setting, he is asking for a custom setting, for which he still hasn't stated the oath taken by the paladin.

If the oath in question is as clear as those in DnD then the answer is pretty simple as you have stated, but it might not be.
... so why did you bring up 5e in the first place then?

zinycor
2019-03-24, 09:00 AM
... so why did you bring up 5e in the first place then?

To answer malifice post, which might be derailing the post now that I think about it for that I am sorry.

Talakeal
2019-03-24, 12:03 PM
I'm not 'derailing the post'. I'm refuting your point.

Alignment does exist in Star Wars. It's an actual objective thing and has an actual mechanical effects (falling to the dark side) and actual mechanical rules (dark side points). Many powers are expressly listed as Dark side.

Me (as a Star Wars GM): 'Right fellas, who's intrested in a SWSE campaign? Starting at 1st level, in the Dark times between III and IV. All books are in, house rules are [XXX].

Also; this is going to be a heroic campaign. Heroic characters ONLY, and no [dark side] characters, and if you [fall to the dark side] during the campaign, you lose your character.'

How can you say alignment is not relevant here? I might not be using the DnD terminology for good and evil, but it's the exact same thing as me saying:

Me (as a 5E DM): 'Right fellas, who's interested in a 5E campaign? Starting at 1st level, ToA adventure path in Chult. All books are in, house rules are [XXX].

Also; this is going to be a heroic campaign. Heroic characters ONLY, and no [evilly aligned] characters, and if [your alignment changes to evil] during the campaign, you lose your character.'

Does this actually work out for you?

To me, this just reads as railroading players who don't share your opinions on morality and what constitutes each alignment.

I know that I personally have a really hard time playing characters who aren't what I consider to be NG irl. The problem for me, of course, is that D&D uses its own standard of morality where certain actions are always good / evil regardless of circumstance or motivation. So, for example, if we get to a circumstance where you take my character away from me because I deem that, for example, working with the Tanarii to stop the Baatezu from taking over the world, simply because using my judgement, as a player, that is the right thing to do, then we are going to have some serious OOC problems.

And again, this isn't just me looking for excuses to be evil. As an example, I once played a paladin who fell for being to merciful to my enemies as I was failing to uphold the "punish those who harm innocents" clause of my code.

Malifice
2019-03-24, 12:33 PM
Does this actually work out for you?

To me, this just reads as railroading players who don't share your opinions on morality and what constitutes each alignment.

I dont care. As DM, I'm responsible for the Dark Side or the judgement of Kelemvor and Ao.

If you're not prepared to adjudicate actions as a DM because players wanna whine about it, you shouldnt be DMing.

In my Star Wars games, if you torture, kill (other than in proportionate self defence), rape, cause undue pain and torment or use the Force to directly harm a living creature, you gain a DSP.

In my DnD games (that feature objective alignment) if you do the above your alignment also shifts to evil.

I'm happy to engage in a short discussion about it, but the above rule is clear and unambiguous enough that there doesnt need to be a big discussion, and the DMs word is final (I rarely if ever reverse my decisions on alignment).

If alignment matters for some reason (fall to the dark side and lose your PC), I'll generally warn the Player first. 'That action is evil, this is why, your justification doesnt matter.'

They can choose to do the act (and gain the DSP) or not to. It's up to them.

And I mostly dont care if the players share 'my' views on morality. When they run their games they can feel free to have LG Paladins or Goodly Light side Jedi running around murdering younglings or sand people or Orcs and taking sex slaves or whatever all they want.

I have the same choice they do in my games, and get to vote with my feet.

Talakeal
2019-03-24, 12:34 PM
I dont care. As DM, I'm responsible for the Dark Side or the judgement of Kelemvor and Ao.

If you're not prepared to adjudicate actions as a DM because players wanna whine about it, you shouldnt be DMing.

In my Star Wars games, if you torture, kill (other than in proportionate self defence), rape, cause undue pain and torment or use the Force to directly harm a living creature, you gain a DSP.

In my DnD games (that feature objective alignment) if you do the above your alignment also shifts to evil.

I'm happy to engage in a short discussion about it, but the above rule is clear and unambiguous enough that there doesnt need to be a big discussion, and the DMs word is final (I rarely if ever reverse my decisions on alignment).

If alignment matters for some reason (fall to the dark side and lose your PC), I'll generally warn the Player first. 'That action is evil, this is why, your justification doesnt matter.'

They can choose to do the act (and gain the DSP) or not to. It's up to them.

As I said, is this not just an excuse to railroad your players into playing your way or hitting the road?

OldTrees1
2019-03-24, 12:35 PM
Does this actually work out for you?

To me, this just reads as railroading players who don't share your opinions on morality and what constitutes each alignment.

I know that I personally have a really hard time playing characters who aren't what I consider to be NG irl. The problem for me, of course, is that D&D uses its own standard of morality where certain actions are always good / evil regardless of circumstance or motivation. So, for example, if we get to a circumstance where you take my character away from me because I deem that, for example, working with the Tanarii to stop the Baatezu from taking over the world, simply because using my judgement, as a player, that is the right thing to do, then we are going to have some serious OOC problems.

And again, this isn't just me looking for excuses to be evil. As an example, I once played a paladin who fell for being to merciful to my enemies as I was failing to uphold the "punish those who harm innocents" clause of my code.

I am not Malifice but I too use alignment in a way relevant to your question.

In my group, when I DM, your character's alignment is determined by the DM's judgement which is based on the moral system the campaign is using and the information the DM has gained about your character through gameplay and talking to the player.

Objective Morality is the theory that the truth value of a statement (about morality) is independent of the person uttering the statement. So if I want Objective Morality as how morality works in the campaign (I do), then I need there to be a single truth value to any statement rather than having 1 truth value per player at the table. This necessitates the DM acting as a final determiner as to what is accurate for the campaign itself (with no comment on what is accurate in the real world).

So if you use Objective Morality then you can run into cases where the Player's judgement about a moral statement is different from how the campaign will use it. So it procs your concern about the DM railroading the players.

However, in practice, the DM does not need to be unilateral about this. If either of your examples came up (and we pretend I didn't agree with you on those examples), then I would pause the game to talk it out with the group. These kinds of initial disagreements happen rarely, are usually important to the story, and are fun for our group. After the group reaches a decision (with the DM acting as a decider in the case where there is no consensus), then we move forward with that as the way the Campaign will rule it. Now the player gets to choose what they will do in this campaign. It is understood that judgements within the Campaign are not applicable to other Campaigns or the real world.

So yes, it can result in a situation where the Player and the Campaign disagree on what is the right thing to do. However any kind of fall would take multiple of some mixture of those situations and situations where the Player chose and agreed on the thing that lead towards a fall. (Avoiding single action falls is a common policy for handling the risk of disagreement when using objective morality) So in practice it is not railroading the players despite there being a theoretical risk.

I do tend to differ with the example campaign Malifice was talking about on what happens after a fall. However I think the above description of "Objective Morality in practice in an RPG" will still be applicable.

Talakeal
2019-03-24, 12:46 PM
I am not Malifice but I too use alignment in a way relevant to your question.

In my group, when I DM, your character's alignment is determined by the DM's judgement which is based on the moral system the campaign is using and the information the DM has gained about your character through gameplay and talking to the player.

Objective Morality is the theory that the truth value of a statement (about morality) is independent of the person uttering the statement. So if I want Objective Morality as how morality works in the campaign (I do), then I need there to be a single truth value to any statement rather than having 1 truth value per player at the table. This necessitates the DM acting as a final determiner as to what is accurate for the campaign itself (with no comment on what is accurate in the real world).

So if you use Objective Morality then you can run into cases where the Player's judgement about a moral statement is different from how the campaign will use it. So it procs your concern about the DM railroading the players.

However, in practice, the DM does not need to be unilateral about this. If either of your examples came up (and we pretend I didn't agree with you on those examples), then I would pause the game to talk it out with the group. These kinds of initial disagreements happen rarely, are usually important to the story, and are fun for our group. After the group reaches a decision (with the DM acting as a decider in the case where there is no consensus), then we move forward with that as the way the Campaign will rule it. Now the player gets to choose what they will do in this campaign. It is understood that judgements within the Campaign are not applicable to other Campaigns or the real world.

So yes, it can result in a situation where the Player and the Campaign disagree on what is the right thing to do. However any kind of fall would take multiple of some mixture of those situations and situations where the Player chose and agreed on the thing that lead towards a fall. (Avoiding single action falls is a common policy for handling the risk of disagreement when using objective morality) So in practice it is not railroading the players despite there being a theoretical risk.

I do tend to differ with the example campaign Malifice was talking about on what happens after a fall. However I think the above description of Objective Morality in practice in an RPG will still be applicable.

It only becomes railroading when you add the caveat that players lose control of PCs become evil.

In this case you are literally taking away all choice from the players. If they disagree with you on a moral issue their choices are: Ignore their own judgement and do what the DM tells them OR go with their instinct, become an NPC, and from that point on have their PC do what the DM tells them.

Malifice
2019-03-24, 12:46 PM
As I said, is this not just an excuse to railroad your players into playing your way or hitting the road?

No, it only matters in 'heroic' games where evil characters are not allowed. As my example above demonstrates I only run such games by group consent in the first place.

Remember, each example was described as a pitch for a new campaign. If there is no consensus, the game doesnt get ran in the first place.

Im not opposed to evil campaigns on principle. I just find that the overwhelming majority of players I meet are immature socially awkward sci-fi fanboys who'll happily condone the most atrocious acts of genocide and murder as being 'good' acts.

When they get the opportunity to actually play an evil PC they simply start randomly murdering NPCs (and PCs alike) and revel in causing conflict at the table and alignment conflicts (which are annoying because they invariably create a situation where the characters can no longer function together).

A textbook example is the OP's example. If those two were PCs, there is no way a LG person would continue to associate willingly with the rapist and murderer unless they literally had no other choice, and it would be the source of unwanted conflict in what is essentially a team game.

Alignment issues only happen at a table because of the DM. Like every single problem at a table, it is always down to the DM.

Make a ruling and abide by it. Be firm but fair, and hold the intrests of the game as a whole (fun, teamwork, entertainment, challenging, co-operative, exciting) as your primary goal. Players learn to trust your judgements, and figure out that you wont be pushed over or bullied, and the game works much better.

You (as DM) arent policing aligments simply because you're a tyrant with nothing better to do. You're doing it to minimise (or eliminate) a lot of the jerk behaviour and alignment conflicts that come from so called 'evil' PCs and 'evil' acts.

Malifice
2019-03-24, 12:51 PM
It only becomes railroading when you add the caveat that players lose control of PCs become evil.

In this case you are literally taking away all choice from the players.

No I am not. It was explicitly clear in the social contract that formed the game, when they agreed to those conditions to play in it.

I determine what is evil (or Dark Side). If you accumulate too many DSP, you lose your PC to the Dark side. DSP's are awarded for killing others (other than in reasonable and proportionate self defence) torture, murder, rape and similar. Your justification doesnt matter to the Dark side.

Players sign up to the campaign knowing that evil (as defined above) gets their PC converted to an NPC.

That doesnt remove their agency. They can still do the evil act (and become a villain).

They knew this going in to the campaign when they agreed to sign up to it.

Malifice
2019-03-24, 12:58 PM
As an example, I once played a paladin who fell for being to merciful to my enemies as I was failing to uphold the "punish those who harm innocents" clause of my code.

That's the violation of a different thing (I presume you were a 5E Vengeance Paladin who is sworn to the tenets of 'no mercy for the wicked' and 'punish those who harm innocents').

In that case you're moving into a discussion of violation of your oath of 'no mercy'. Oaths are not objective (unlike alignment).

Your PC could rationalise the mercy on the grounds of the creatures you showed mercy to were no longer 'wicked' as they had genuinely repented and atoned (and accordingly were no longer harming innocents, nor were they going to ever again).

It would be appropriate interpretation of the Oath for a LG Vengeance Paladin IMO. If you were Good aligned, I wouldnt have considered this to be a breach of your Oath.

As an aside, LG Vengeance paladins would be rare IMO. Most of Vengeance Paladins would be LN or even LE (and the LE ones would be genocidal monsters following the 'no mercy for my enemies' and 'by any means' parts of the code via pogroms, genocide, execution of prisoners, mass terror campaigns and worse).

I generally hold up the darker depictions of the Punisher as an example of a LE Vengeance Paladin.

His softer Netflix version is generally much more LN.

zlefin
2019-03-24, 01:57 PM
It only becomes railroading when you add the caveat that players lose control of PCs become evil.

In this case you are literally taking away all choice from the players. If they disagree with you on a moral issue their choices are: Ignore their own judgement and do what the DM tells them OR go with their instinct, become an NPC, and from that point on have their PC do what the DM tells them.

a certain amount of that is necessary at times. while the right amount is debateable of course.


some rules systems have requirements on that point.

Lord
2019-03-26, 09:13 AM
This thread is getting a bit off topic, isn't it?

zinycor
2019-03-26, 10:11 AM
If that's the case, then the solution I offer is this:

1- paladin talks to the friend, explains to her the error of her ways and offers help in the search for redemption. If that doesn't work, the paladin will have to end his friendship with said person.
2- Go to higher authorities and denounce the evil acts of his former friend.
3- If the authorities don't act in a satisfying way, then the paladin should enter into the politics of the place, looking to change those in positions of power and/or the law of the land.

This, I think, would be the most reasonable course of action, however it might not fit whatever drama you could have in mind.

(Did you delete your post?)

Constructman
2019-03-26, 10:17 AM
This thread is getting a bit off topic, isn't it?

It would help if you cleared up the setting details:

1. Do cosmic, empirical forces of law and good exist in the universe?
2. If yes, are those cosmic forces the origin of the Paladin's power?
3. If no, where is the Paladin's power coming from?

zinycor
2019-03-26, 10:22 AM
Funny thing is that he did, but then deleted the post for no apparent reason

Lord
2019-03-26, 02:33 PM
Funny thing is that he did, but then deleted the post for no apparent reason

Sorry about that. I've become paranoid about posting lately, thanks to several situations where I got flamed for very little reason just for talking about my opinion. It's made me want to go back and edit everything I write constantly.

Basically the paladins powers come from a God of Healing. The God has a vested interest in ensuring that the nation the paladin serves continues to operate, so turning against the nation is a huge step. The God of Healing considered the Orwellian Demon his archenemy, owing to an assassination a long time ago which led to the end of the nation's golden age.

There is a cosmic force of good, I.E an entity similar to the Judeo Christian God. However, the world largely operates independent of him with various lesser gods being the primary thing worshipped.

The entire universe this is set in, is basically due to a challenge between God and the Devil. Similar to that of the story of Job. Effectively Satan argues that mortal beings would never be good in a universe where evil is an equal and opposite force to good. At the same time, a number of gods angels all desire to sort of set up their own universe, ruled solely by them, and ask permission. They want to create world with magic, and elves and dwarves and such.

God takes the bet, grants the request, and puts both together.

Satan proceeds to set himself up, but quickly falls from power when the God of Healing convinces the various demonlords to betray and overthrow him. The catch is that all of the angels who become the gods all have their own ideas for how things should be run. As a result things quickly spiral out of control as they screw up eachother's plans.

Neither the forces of good, nor the forces of evil, have any real unity. They've long since split into factions. And due to the nature of the bet, God doesn't take a direct hand in mortal affairs. Meanwhile, many of the demons have largely abandoned their whole evil for its own sake ideology. They are interested in power, and most of them are evil, but they specifically overthrew the Satan equivelent because his stupid evil policies were meaningless without a Judeo Christian God to defy. So most operate on pragmatic evil, or are in things for their own entertainment.

AMFV
2019-03-26, 07:30 PM
Basically the paladins powers come from a God of Healing. The God has a vested interest in ensuring that the nation the paladin serves continues to operate, so turning against the nation is a huge step. The God of Healing considered the Orwellian Demon his archenemy, owing to an assassination a long time ago which led to the end of the nation's golden age.

This is really good for your story. Since that sort of God is the most likely person to try to reform somebody who has committed evil and might be a little bit less hard edged on the Justice side of things. Also that sort of God might give powers or boons or have artifacts that can help repair the sort of moral hurt to the soul that could make somebody do evil things like that.

Personally what I would do (and you're free to steal this if you like it and disregard it if you don't), is have the Paladin challenge the war crimes lady to a duel, which he would probably not normally win. But with the power of his God he is able to defeat her handily, but then he refuses to actually kill her. I would have this sort of thing happen two or three times, with the Paladin trying to walk away, but then the lady trying to stab him in the back. And having the power of the God flow through him so that he can defeat her each time. The final time prompts a crises in the lady, she understands strength and power, but this is something different.

So then she tries to figure out how to get some of that sweet strength, and the Paladin manages to get her to pray and work on being more kind and gentle, and that fundamentally changes her to be more Good, and she eventually winds up regretting what she's done and trying to atone, I would probably have her die doing something truly selfless and heroic.

That's how I would write that, but again it's completely up to you if you want to take it or leave it, or take some elements or leave them.

Lord
2019-03-26, 09:22 PM
This is really good for your story. Since that sort of God is the most likely person to try to reform somebody who has committed evil and might be a little bit less hard edged on the Justice side of things. Also that sort of God might give powers or boons or have artifacts that can help repair the sort of moral hurt to the soul that could make somebody do evil things like that.

Personally what I would do (and you're free to steal this if you like it and disregard it if you don't), is have the Paladin challenge the war crimes lady to a duel, which he would probably not normally win. But with the power of his God he is able to defeat her handily, but then he refuses to actually kill her. I would have this sort of thing happen two or three times, with the Paladin trying to walk away, but then the lady trying to stab him in the back. And having the power of the God flow through him so that he can defeat her each time. The final time prompts a crises in the lady, she understands strength and power, but this is something different.

So then she tries to figure out how to get some of that sweet strength, and the Paladin manages to get her to pray and work on being more kind and gentle, and that fundamentally changes her to be more Good, and she eventually winds up regretting what she's done and trying to atone, I would probably have her die doing something truly selfless and heroic.

That's how I would write that, but again it's completely up to you if you want to take it or leave it, or take some elements or leave them.

Thanks a lot.