Paladins - Their power, and where it comes from.

  • I was on the IRC earlier at work, but wanted to gauge a few more brains on this subject. I was pondering the idea of wanting to create a godless Paladin, who got his powers from the force of nature known as "good". Did some research, and found it intriguing.

    As most of us think, for the CoA setting, a paladin in a champion of a specific god, though they uphold a cosmic identity rather than the god that they worship. They are more concerned with the cosmic battle of good vs evil, and recently Law vs Chaos more so than doing their gods bidding. That's the Divine Champion's job.

    But is this really the case? Do Paladins get their Paladinhood powers from the god they worship, or is their deity simply the go-between that can turn the power switch on and off? In older versions of D&D, Paladins got their powers from upholding virtues(good) rather than from some higher being(deity). I feel like this is something that's still reflected today, which is why Paladins are more concerned about upholding a code of conduct based on which side of the cosmic conflict of alignments they found themselves on. It also explains why so many gods can have Paladins, as well as Divine champions as they both fit different roles.

    Torm and Tyr can both have Paladin's for example, and they are both LG deities. However, a Tormite Paladin's view on what it means to be LG might be different than the Tyr Paladin's, but in the end they both do their best to serve the greater cosmic force, which in this case is "Lawful good." Torm is a Paladin who became a god, not the sole god of Paladins, so where does he draw his own paladin powers from?

    It made me think that gods also serve this greater cosmic force. Why would a god have paladins in the first place, if they have divine champions? Because they too are concerned with the greater cosmic forces. That said, the gods are all different, and obviously have their own viewpoints of how to support such a cause, and those viewpoints they have trickle down to their servants. That's why Paladin's are different, because their viewpoints and the gods that influence them have differing ideals.

  • Storyteller [DM]

    Paladins get their powers from gods. However, Paladins make a deal with the concept of 'good.' Think druids, they get their powers from gods, but serve more primordial powers.

    Basically, faith can conflict with itself. Just because you both hold the banner of bane doesn't mean you don't want to murder each other.

  • Admin [DM]

    Divine magic = magic granted by the gods

  • You give the setting far too much credit. It didn't put nearly as much thought into this as you obviously have. Which is fine; It was nebulous by design.

    Thing is, FR "canon", if you can call it that, isn't like the canon of the Catholic Church; Immutable. Canon ends when you open your source book and start playing a game. It's important to realize it is a game, and the designers expect dungeon masters to fill in the gaps with their own imagination. That's why every game has things like house rules. "Canon" is merely a guide to help you realize your own world, not a fixed set of immutable laws you cannot deviate from.

    In canon, a Paladin's power comes from the Gods. The End. It may seem cool to think it comes from some transcendental power of good, which if FR was a well designed setting, it probably would (like Eberron) but it doesn't. If that doesn't sound enough to play, that's because it isn't. Players are expected to put their own spin on it. There are no instructions in canon, or at least, not enough to fully realize a character from. Take it from me, I have read every relevant sourcebook there is.

    I'm going to give my take on paladins; Paladins have historically been a very misrepresented class, and there are many, many ways to play them; But being so nebulous by design, there are no real standards to follow, because none have been defined in the canon save in the most generic and (usually) unhelpful terms. Hopefully, this helps a bit.

    Good fights Evil. A paladin is a soldier in this war. It is not a war that will be won in his lifetime, and it is not a war that will be won in the lifetime of the world. A paladin knows this all too well, which is why he has to uphold good no matter what.

    Because a paladin's duty isn't to triumph against evil. There is no possible victory against evil, and it is the height of hubris to assume that he will make a difference in the war, because he won't.

    He will fight evil where he finds it, because he lives by the adage that the weapon of evil isn't atrocity or fear, it is apathy. All that is needed for evil to win is for people to do nothing. Therefore, he is there to do something, keep the light of goodness alive even in a sea of darkness. Because as long as that light flickers, however weak, evil does not win.

    This is why there is no lesser evil for the greater good. There is no such thing as a lesser evil. Every evil act, empowers evil, because that's what evil wants. It wants you to stop opposing it, and compromise, any compromise, means it wins. It doesn't matter a necromancer threatens to eat babies to force the paladin to do something evil. He will still refuse, because he knows that compromise will destroy what he stands for; Keeping that light alive. Yes, the babies will die, but that does not reflect on him; It reflects on the necromancer. In the grand scheme of things, good has won that battle, because evil's weapon was guilt, fear and compromise, and they didn't work.

    If he accepts the compromise, the babies will live; But the paladin will have given up the light of goodness. Why, aren't the babies alive? They are, but he has fallen prey to evil's greatest weapon; Perpetuating itself. The greatest weapon of evil is the ability to make someone think that doing evil is justified for any reason. He knows that it is not. Even if he compromises himself and saves the babies, he is telling the world that it's okay to compromise to evil. And that means his message, and everything he stands for in the eyes of others, is now tainted. They will follow his false example thinking him the authority (as a paladin) and evil will take root.

    This is why, if a paladin wilfully commits an evil act, he will be stripped of his powers. The Gods are telling the world that what this paladin has done is not indicative of what good wants. He has allowed the candle to be snuffed out, and his example should no longer be followed.

    Will the paladin be reviled for his choice to not give in to the necromancer? Yes. He'll still won't do it. Because he isn't doing it for the PR, he's doing it because it's the right thing to do. Will other people understand why? Probably not. Will he be reviled and hated for it? Probably. He'll still resist. Because this isn't about him, and it isn't about fame or goodwill. It's about doing the right thing no matter what.

    This is why most people don't like them. They may revere them, they may be deferential, but most people don't live in absolutes. They live in gray. Paladins understand there is no gray. This does not make them popular or liked.

    Some paladins are hailed as heroes. These people are remembered because they are the exceptions. The vast majority of paladins just fight in the trenches of their hopeless war, to die in ignominy and be forgotten about. That's because they exist not to win, but to resist. Evil wins by making people submit. By resisting, they hold it back. Their whole life's purpose is just endless resistance, until they die and someone else takes up the burden. Because someone has to do it, and no one else can understand why compromise is not acceptable.

  • I would take Polaris' post as as close to canon as you're likely to get. My own view:

    Cosmic good is represented in the realms (that does not mean it exists). It is best summed up as the overall face of Mount Celestia - which is inhabited by goodly beings of varying power and interpretation. These beings individually sponsor others to promote their ideals which are broadly speaking "virtuous" eg justice, mercy, loyalty.
    The same goes for cosmic tyranny and anarchy (Baator and Abyss).

    Paladins have a divine sponsor. Druids are the closest similarity I can think of: you are sponsored by a deity to fulfil a role that promotes something important to them, without being bound to their every dogmatic will as a Cleric would.

    So a LG paladin promotes goodly values and battles against their antithesis. However, "good" cannot grant him power. Only a sentient being can, which is a god in the case of a paladin.

  • Of course, you could always roll a CE pally of cyric with bluff and pretend it’s the cosmic powers of good that grant you divine favour.

  • "Cosmic Evil" would be an awesome band name TBH.

    I would love so see an awesome evil paladin!

  • Not really adding to the discussion, but just need to say, Polaris text on what a paladin is is amongst the best I’ve read, can we get that paraphrased into the paladin class guide in player resources? I have no doubt it will be of help to prospective paladin players.

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