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    GnomePirate

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    eek Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Hello, I'm looking for some other perspectives on a morality matter in a miserable attempt to offset my personal biases.

    Campaign flavour:

    - I am not the DM. The DM is new to DM'ing and wants to ensure all have a good time while maintaining role-playing-quality along with character and campaign consistency.

    - The DM is running a campaign where alignments can and do change and there are absolute forces of Good and Evil (capital G and E).

    - Monsters with half a brain often have character levels.

    Long story relatively short:

    The party previously encountered a goblin camp and the players from a more traditional D&D setting instantly kick off, killing the naughty evil. There's some confusion over who exactly started what and how (They were waiting for us!) and some of the goblins escaped.

    While returning from an epic mission of bat feces collection, the party encountered a lone Goblin. The CG Crusader gave the little critter a no-nonsense stare and intimidated some sense into said goblin.

    An hour or so later, on their way back to a suspected wizard and a fallen comrade, the party are stopped by a well equipped goblin and his well equipped goblin friends/cousins/misc.

    Well equipped goblin claimed the party had murdered his brother. CG Crusader tried to negotiate. Paladin walks over to well equipped goblin in an attempt to punch him - it should be noted that said Paladin has Monk levels and fights unarmed.

    A fight kicks off. The party are the clear victors with the primary well equipped goblin being slowly grapple-chocked to death by the Paladin.

    After 2 rounds of minimal damage, the CG Crusader suggests that, as the party have obviously bested the little chap and his pals, they could take him captive and find out where/if there are other goblin camps in the area and what they're up to.

    Paladin continues to slowly strange well equipped goblin.

    CG Crusader continues to press the issue, mentioning that the party have clearly won. Paladin says something along the lines of 'They started it.' and 'What do you suggest, we take it with us? That's crazy talk.'

    Paladin continues to slowly strange well equipped goblin.

    Goblin is taking ages to die.

    Paladin finally strangles well equipped goblin into unconsciousness.

    Then, Paladin snaps its neck.

    CG Crusader claims the Paladin wasn't being very.. nice.

    Paladin points out that he'd challenged well equipped goblin to single combat (while striking him). In essence, the Paladin claimed that it was a Lawful contract so killing the goblin was a lawful action and, essentially, ''They started it - I ended it.''

    Other party members now chime in with '...but you're also.. good, right?'

    Paladin suggests that any other course of action would have been 'stupid'.

    Barbarian agrees.

    ::

    So, a classic morality mess. Is the Paladin being.. a Paladin?

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    To my mind, he's.. simply put.. not being very 'good'. I have no problem with the fight kick off and the bodies hitting the floor. However, after we've clearly one and the enemy is at our mercy, a slow death by strangulation followed by a summary neck snap seems kinda harsh.

    ..but hey, perhaps he's an avenging bad ass holy type.

    ..but would a zealot, killing all, even those at their mercy, be good?

    Effective, yes...

    I guess you don't have to be nice to be good.

    o_o




    Last edited by O.L.Scudmungus; 2012-11-17 at 07:43 AM.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Depends on how absolute morality is in the setting. You say that Good and Evil are very real forces. Are goblins irredeemably evil?

    Though by inflicting unnecessary pain on a helpless creature, the paladin is definitely not being Good here. Without absolute morality, it could easily be considered evil. And whether it's lawful I have absolutely no idea.

    So here you've got a creepy paladin who gladly inflicts pain on helpless creatures. You could simply say he's a fallen paladin now, but you could also use this as a great source of roleplaying and character growth.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    thats a conundrum right there as Killing evil things not really evil in dnd but killing helpless evil things really should be questioned if i were that paladins god i would be questioning his favor. which god does he worship depending on the gods dogma it may change what he should have done as Kord the god of strength which is CG maybe believe the "lawful" slaughter of the little helpless goblin was contractual through competition of strength but a god of peace or something else may not approve.

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    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcv View Post
    Depends on how absolute morality is in the setting. You say that Good and Evil are very real forces. Are goblins irredeemably evil?

    Though by inflicting unnecessary pain on a helpless creature, the paladin is definitely not being Good here. Without absolute morality, it could easily be considered evil. And whether it's lawful I have absolutely no idea.

    So here you've got a creepy paladin who gladly inflicts pain on helpless creatures. You could simply say he's a fallen paladin now, but you could also use this as a great source of roleplaying and character growth.
    There are actual clearly defined forces of GOOD and EVIL.

    However, alignments are not set in stone. Good can fall, evil can turn to good.

    The entire world is a morality war. Most monsters are with EVIL because, EVIL works for them in the savage wilderness - tooth and claw, kill No.2 so No.1 can survive etc.

    Good is harder, takes more effort and sacrifice.

    At least, that's what I as a player am getting so far from how things have been going. Granted, it's an early campaign.

    The DM does like to make us think. Or at least, encourage thinking, which is kinda cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by bluthunda View Post
    thats a conundrum right there as Killing evil things not really evil in dnd but killing helpless evil things really should be questioned if i were that paladins god i would be questioning his favor. which god does he worship depending on the gods dogma it may change what he should have done as Kord the god of strength which is CG maybe believe the "lawful" slaughter of the little helpless goblin was contractual through competition of strength but a god of peace or something else may not approve.
    This is part of the problem. We've asked the player to define the fluff of 'What makes you a Paladin, as opposed to a LG Fighter?' and so far we haven't recieved anything. He worships a god from some 3.5 campaign setting book, I forget the name, essentially the god of.. Lawful Goodness - worshiped by Good folks, Paladins and so on.

    Personally I get that the fight kicked off - no problems there. If Goblins die in the fight, fine, it's a fight. I agree with you that the killing of a helpless creature when there's no real time or other external constraints seems kinda.. well, 'not nice'.

    I believe the Paladin was suggesting that it'd be far too much time and effort to take the goblin back and interrogate him. Also, it'd be dangerous.

    I can see the sense of the mentality but wonder if GOOD would simply nod and go, 'Yeah, ya see, that's the rub. Good requires effort, sacrifice and hard work. You want easy and effective? Try EVIL.'
    Last edited by O.L.Scudmungus; 2012-11-17 at 08:09 AM.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by O.L.Scudmungus View Post
    The DM does like to make us think. Or at least, encourage thinking, which is kinda cool.
    Excellent. So use this to make people think. It's definitely worth discussion in-character. What do the other characters think about a group member (a zealot, even) preferring to slowly strangle helpless creatures to death, rather than interrogate him?

    And with Good and Evil being real forces, what to they think of this? If he does this more often, Evil may start considering him an ally and Good not so much.

    This is part of the problem. We've asked the player to define the fluff of 'What makes you a Paladin, as opposed to a LG Fighter?' and so far we haven't recieved anything. He worships a god from some 3.5 campaign setting book, I forget the name, essentially the god of.. Lawful Goodness - worshiped by Good folks, Paladins and so on.
    Don't make him define what makes him a Paladin upfront, make him define it through play. Is slowly strangling helpless creatures really Paladin-like? Or will it creep out the good folks that worship the same god? Does he actually believe in the tenets of his god, or did he merely grow up in them but really he prefers to follow his own way?

    Plenty of interesting stuff to explore there, if you want to take that route.

    I believe the Paladin was suggesting that it'd be far too much time and effort to take the goblin back and interrogate him. Also, it'd be dangerous.

    I can see the sense of the mentality but wonder if GOOD would simply nod and go, 'Yeah, ya see, that's the rub. Good requires effort, sacrifice and hard work. You want easy and effective? Try EVIL.'
    Work that angle. He sounds closer to Chaotic Neutral.

    But this is only one event. Every Paladin slips every once in a while. Let's see how far he slides before he falls.

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    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Cheers mon, appreciated.

    I didn't think of simply letting events form the character - was too ready to try and encourage a 'fix' by suggesting the character was more strongly defined.

    We shall see what happens...

    I was reminder of two other earlier moments of character-definition:

    - The Paladin deciding to try and punish a criminal using the local/outlawed-by-the-dominant-political-power laws, which, as it turned out, was basically 'We know you're guilty, now we're going to burn you alive.'

    The Paladin added oil to the criminal so as to speed up the burning process, which was to his mind, being merciful.

    - The Paladin 'caught' the halfling thief character, determined they were responsible for stealing from a tavern keeper that the party had previously met. The paladin then insisted in trying to return the halfling to the tavern keeper so as to take responsibility for their crime.

    So, there's certainly some kinda Lawfulness.. going on there.

    Somewhere..
    Last edited by O.L.Scudmungus; 2012-11-17 at 08:29 AM.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    The creepy anti-social paladin. Why not? How would the group react to such a paladin? How would the rest of the world? How would his god? The other gods?

    But do keep talking about these questionable actions. Rigid morality isn't nearly as much fun as exploring the shades of grey. And if it gets discussed, then the player also has to be aware of what he's doing, and that his actions are not exactly considered the pinnacle of Lawful Good by those around him. Maybe mention Mika from OOTS. The GM might drop some hints that his god doesn't approve either.

    But allow him to be the creepy horrible paladin. But try to get the player in on it.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    It takes a lot to get me to say this, but that Paladin should have fallen so hard it left marks on the floor. Knocking them out, fine. But killing a defenseless sentient, that nets you one fallen Paladin. One of the few things that will with me actually. They could redeem after that, but do it more and there is an alignment shift to TN, then CE, in your future.
    Last edited by qwertyu63; 2012-11-17 at 10:06 AM.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyu63 View Post
    It takes a lot to get me to say this, but that Paladin should have fallen so hard it left marks on the floor. Knocking them out, fine. But killing a defenseless sentient, that nets you one fallen Paladin. One of the few things that will with me actually. They could redeem after that, but do it more and there is an alignment shift to TN, then CE, in your future.


    I agree. The Paladin was in no danger. He didn't just kill a foe. He murdered him. he caused undue and unnecessary pain and suffering. Killing the last guy in a fight is one thing, strangling the life out of him with your bare hands while he's helpless is quite another.

    That Paladin went over to the dark side in a hard way. He had a perfect opportunity to show mercy, and instead he murdered a helpless victim.
    Last edited by visigani; 2012-11-17 at 10:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    While this is not implied anywhere in the scenario directly, it may be worth asking: did the Paladin believe that grappling the Goblin to death was the best way to keep everyone else from harm's way, given the DM's stated tendency to add class levels to sentient beings and the "well-equipped" status of the Goblin?

    Such belief wouldn't necessarily make the action the Paladin took "Good," but may be a mitigating circumstance in the nature of the consequences to that action.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Kill the paladin. Well, ex-paladin. It's that kind of self righteous "I know best because I'm a paladain" mentality that makes people hate paladins.

    But seriously, kill the (ex) paladin. He's clearly a liability to your team, and is probably going to get your party TPKed over something stupid and completely avoidable in the future.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Winter_Wolf View Post
    Kill the paladin. Well, ex-paladin. It's that kind of self righteous "I know best because I'm a paladain" mentality that makes people hate paladins.

    But seriously, kill the (ex) paladin. He's clearly a liability to your team, and is probably going to get your party TPKed over something stupid and completely avoidable in the future.

    Yes. When you disagree with other about the true meaning of what it means to be good, kill them. Heck, I'd kill the player as well, since he's playing a character you don't like. And kill the DM for allowing such a character in your game.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    They had defeated some enemies and the paladin was of the oppinion that taking prisoners was not an option and letting the goblin leave would be too dangerous.

    Other PCs might disagree, but it's a valid point.

    I don't see it as any different than shoting arrows at a scout that is running back to the main army.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by visigani View Post
    Killing the last guy in a fight is one thing, strangling the life out of him with your bare hands while he's helpless is quite another.
    No, the Paladin was still in combat.

    After he finally knocked the goblin to unconsciousness then the battle was over.
    He never strangled anyone to death.
    Death came after he strangled the goblin to unconsciousness. Then he decided that they (the enemy) might recover/reawaken the goblin so he killed it (coup de grace).
    And the defintiion of de grace is mercy killing so he was being merciful.

    I do have to ask why he used nonlethal in combat in the first place...

    Hey OP can you ask the Pally why he even used nonlethal. AS a Monk, he can deal lethal when he grapples. What point did he have to use nonlethal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khaelic View Post
    I have to echo these sentiments. I had a very interesting conversation with my DM friend along these lines.
    I do, however, have to echo the sentiment that this paladin has majorly breached his code of conduct. Killing the goblin outright would be in the grey zone but when you kill anything, be it a goblin or an evil necromancer or a cute little orphan when they are defenceless, it is an evil act. I would personally suggest the revocation of his Paladin-y powers and a quest be established involving the Goblin in question to atone for his sins.
    Why? I really have to know, why do you define defenseless as absolving of guilt?

    Even if it will save the world, you can't kill a defenseless avatar of evil?! You can to wait till it ascends to full power and destroys the world?

    At what point does a evil creature become immune to being killed without it being an evil act?
    Plus, not everything is good or evil, they are neutral acts: otherwise neutral alignment wouldn't exist.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcv View Post
    Rigid morality isn't nearly as much fun as exploring the shades of grey. And if it gets discussed, then the player also has to be aware of what he's doing, and that his actions are not exactly considered the pinnacle of Lawful Good by those around him.
    I have to echo these sentiments. I had a very interesting conversation with my DM friend along these lines.
    I do, however, have to echo the sentiment that this paladin has majorly breached his code of conduct. Killing the goblin outright would be in the grey zone but when you kill anything, be it a goblin or an evil necromancer or a cute little orphan when they are defenceless, it is an evil act. I would personally suggest the revocation of his Paladin-y powers and a quest be established involving the Goblin in question to atone for his sins.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II View Post
    Then he decided that they (the enemy) might recover/reawaken the goblin so he killed it (coup de grace). And the definition of de grace is mercy killing so he was being merciful.
    Reading that made my head hurt.

    A coup de grace, as the term is normally understood, is intended to finish the mortally wounded so they don't suffer. It is not "I choked a guy unconscious and then cut his throat to be nice about it."
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II View Post
    I do have to ask why he used nonlethal in combat in the first place...

    Hey OP can you ask the Pally why he even used nonlethal. AS a Monk, he can deal lethal when he grapples. What point did he have to use nonlethal?


    Why? I really have to know, why do you define defenseless as absolving of guilt?
    The Paladin has levels in Monk and was doing lethal damage...

    ..he rolled minimum damage each round and the goblin had 2 character levels.

    So aye, he was *trying* to kill it - he'd been flurrying and missing for a few rounds before.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laserlight View Post
    Reading that made my head hurt.

    A coup de grace, as the term is normally understood, is intended to finish the mortally wounded so they don't suffer. It is not "I choked a guy unconscious and then cut his throat to be nice about it."

    Technically he snapped his neck!
    Last edited by O.L.Scudmungus; 2012-11-17 at 01:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Personally, this paladin is a bit harsh, but that may be intentional. Now as for killing the "defenseless" goblin, good job! if you guys had carried it off as a prisoner he could have escaped and brought back more goblins or murdered some truly helpless villagers. Honestly tho that goblin wasn't helpless it knew full well it could have died in that combat and it did, the pally knocked him unconscious then finished him off to protect others. im not seeing a problem

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    It's time to play everyone's favorite game - "Morally justified!"

    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyu63 View Post
    It takes a lot to get me to say this, but that Paladin should have fallen so hard it left marks on the floor. Knocking them out, fine. But killing a defenseless sentient, that nets you one fallen Paladin. One of the few things that will with me actually. They could redeem after that, but do it more and there is an alignment shift to TN, then CE, in your future.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    So he killed the goblin. That's no more evil than killing your opponents under the effect of sleep or color spray. It's no worse than finishing off the group of opponents that you've fought and beat into negative hitpoints instead of leaving them to the elements.


    So what *should* he do?

    Should he wake up his opponents one-by-one so that they can fight fairly?

    Should he tie them up and take them back to a church-sponsored goblin prison camp so that they can be re-educated (since leaving someone tied up and helpless in the wilderness is certainly evil)?

    Should he hunt down the goblins' children and liberate them from their families so that they aren't raised evil? Should he try to integrate them into a society that hates them?

    Should he only use non-lethal damage on sentient creatures so that he can capture and re-educate them?

    Should the presence of paladins imply a bloated prison system filled with demihumans?


    If he's going to commit to these ideals, surely he's going to make his party commit to them, too. Is that *really* the direction you want the game to go in? Regardless, if his character is going to be taken away from him over an argument of ethics, it's probably a good idea to have a set of rules on what constitutes "evil" and what isn't.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    I agree with beforemath. Unless you want to spend a lot of time arguing about the nature of goodness, I would probably recognize that D&D is a game where the good guys murder the bad guys on a regular basis. I certainly would not make him fall without giving him a warning beforehand.

    This is actually why I do not allow paladins without deities and tie their powers more closely to their deity. I find "What would Helm do" or "Would Sune get angry at this" to be much easier questions than "Is X action evil/chaotic/neutral and by how much".
    Last edited by Gnaeus; 2012-11-17 at 07:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
    This is actually why I do not allow paladins without deities and tie their powers more closely to their deity. I find "What would Helm do" or "Would Sune get angry at this" to be much easier questions than "Is X action evil/chaotic/neutral and by how much".
    One DM I played with actually added a "Phylactery of Faithfulness" ability to every paladin who ever set foot in one of his campaigns.

    It might sound harsh, but for any paladin concerned with morality and falling it's a great help if the DM once in a while could lean over the screen and just say "Ya know, your God might not be quiiite happy with that choice of action"
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Yeah, worst case, I would give them a know:religion check with a low DC to remember how some hero of the faith acted in a similar situation.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Killing a defenseless enemy to keep it from causing bigger problems down the road? That's fine.

    Slowly strangling a defenseless enemy to death when he could have just let another party member mill it a lot quicker? Not cool.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    I don't see a problem with the paladin's action. I say this with one caveat, however; was this "well armed" goblin the only one left? If he had an ally around to beg for quarter, then the whole situation changes. If not, then it was a conclusion to a combat. Good marks mercy, but evil doesn't mark its absence. Evil marks intentional cruelty.

    The paladin killed an evil creature to prevent it from comitting further acts of evil (presumably, he did detect evil, right?).

    You can do a paladin that's more lawful than good, but he'll be walking a fine line.

    Bottom lines: the paladin didn't grossly violate the CoC, and he didn't commit an unquestionably evil act, though it certainly wasn't an act of good. Far more importantly, the DM didn't have a problem with it, so neither should you. Your character can think as good or ill of the action as you choose, but whether the paladin should've fallen is none of his, or your, concern.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    I don't see a problem with the paladin's action. I say this with one caveat, however; was this "well armed" goblin the only one left? If he had an ally around to beg for quarter, then the whole situation changes. If not, then it was a conclusion to a combat. Good marks mercy, but evil doesn't mark its absence. Evil marks intentional cruelty.
    The thing is also that he was choking the goblin, he wasn't merely slowly killing it, he was prohibiting the creature from begging for mercy or any attempt of communication.

    It's a bit sad, D&D has very odd rules for suffocation and that is partly to blame, but making a outdrawn death like that just can't be considered "Good"
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Asheram View Post
    The thing is also that he was choking the goblin, he wasn't merely slowly killing it, he was prohibiting the creature from begging for mercy or any attempt of communication.

    It's a bit sad, D&D has very odd rules for suffocation and that is partly to blame, but making a outdrawn death like that just can't be considered "Good"
    Quote Originally Posted by O.L.Scudmungus View Post
    The Paladin has levels in Monk and was doing lethal damage...

    ..he rolled minimum damage each round and the goblin had 2 character levels.

    So aye, he was *trying* to kill it - he'd been flurrying and missing for a few rounds before.
    :
    He wasn't tormenting it. He was just being the most effective paladin/monk he could be, which involves grappling a goblin to death over several rounds. "Choking it" sounds like the flavor text for a grapple or pin. Give the guy a break, he is already about the least effective PC he can make without dipping NPC classes.
    Last edited by Gnaeus; 2012-11-17 at 09:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Well, regardless, I'd advise the Monkadin's player to choose a more effective form of murdering in the future just for the sake of gameplay. The game getting bogged down because of endless grapple rounds is just not fun and eats up even more time than it otherwise would.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
    He wasn't tormenting it. He was just being the most effective paladin/monk he could be, which involves grappling a goblin to death over several rounds. "Choking it" sounds like the flavor text for a grapple or pin. Give the guy a break, he is already about the least effective PC he can make without dipping NPC classes.
    A break? More like, useful advice for how to have an effective enough character that he doesn't bog down the game session!
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2012-11-17 at 09:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by O.L.Scudmungus View Post
    So aye, he was *trying* to kill it - he'd been flurrying and missing for a few rounds before.
    There's a reason it's called "flurry of misses" at times...
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    Default Re: Morality, Paladin in the Party, help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    Well, regardless, I'd advise the Monkadin's player to choose a more effective form of murdering in the future just for the sake of gameplay. The game getting bogged down because of endless grapple rounds is just not fun and eats up even more time than it otherwise would.



    A break? More like, useful advice for how to have an effective enough character that he doesn't bog down the game session!
    Maybe he's shooting for sacred fist. Cleric would be better than paladin mechanically, sure, but mechanics aren't everything.

    Incidentally, I too got the impression that he was "choking" the goblin as a matter of poor rolls on the grapple. Actually choking out an opponent takes a feat (choke hold; OA) or PrC (reaping mauler; CW) and a single full round of keeping the enemy pinned. Same thing goes for RL, a choke-hold executed by an expert grappler will have you unconcious in a matter of seconds.
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