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Friday, June 13, 2014

How Strict Are You with Paladins?

I remember playing a Paladin back in my early 1e days. I must have rolled the 4d6 character generation method hundreds of times to get the necessary stats AND still have high scores in strength and the like.

Then, in play, no one really worried about how strict we played our alignments. In retrospect, that Paladin should have fallen so many times he'd have the broken bones to show for it.

Since my return to active gaming over 2 years ago, no one has even flirted with the idea of playing a Paladin. Played BTB, it's a challenge and then some. Hmm, actually, we had a Paladin for a single session. One session in over 2 years of mostly weekly gaming.

Do you run Paladins BTB? If so, how many have you seen legitimately rolled in the campaigns you've played in? I suspect some DMs disallow Paladins in their games. If so, do you have a substitute class for the role they play?


  1. Paladin's should follow their God's tenants extremely faithfully, but the core rules were just silly and often contrary to the God's tenants. I never agreed with no neutral/evil paladins however. Paladins should just be a warrior who is so dedicated to his god he is granted a powers. Nothing more than that really.

    I always thought the cha requirement was very harsh. They are holy warriors not missionaries.

    1. I've always been very strict, which is why I've never had or played one.

      The charisma requirement I'm very keen on. Yes, Steven's right they're holy warriors not missionaries, but a holy warrior is in awesome figure who can inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things just by being there with them. Which sounds like charisma 17+ to me.

  2. If the Paladin were played "BTB" the DM would have to put some thought into the situations the Paladin would end up in otherwise, it would be like you said. The Paladin would almost certainly "fall." I think like everything else in the OSR, it's open to interpretation by the DM. My personal house rule is that the paladin has to pick one of the campaign gods and follow that gods tenants rather than playing BTB. (I would love to see a DCC paladin of Cthulhu)

  3. The second character I rolled up (in March of '77 - I have notes) was a paladin and I still have him and occasionally play him for Big Missions. I have another and played in a campaign with a total of 5, 3 of whom were all 5th or 6th level. We took them all on one adventure with 3 clerics - God's Army.
    I play paladins strictly and I DM for them strictly. Frankly, I have no idea why people struggle to understand how to play them or DM for them.

  4. I look at it this way: No diety would arbitrarily yank powers away. Even in the Bible, God gave warnings before laying smack down. "I told you not to do this, and you ignored me. And that's why I've destroyed your city."

    If the player is about to make a bad decision, I will (acting as the character's knowledge) mention that it's against his diety's orders.

    But I also remember Gygax chatting on Dragonsfoot about how LG characters can execute prisoners who claim to have converted. "Better to send them to their just rewards now before they have a chance to backslide."

    Furthermore, reading The Deed of Paksenarrion series helped me learn how to play and how to GM for paladins.

  5. Played a Paladin last week. First time in 30+ years! It was a one-shot game, so I could play it "BTB" but I guess his life expectancy would be quite short in a real, on-going campaign game...

  6. Strict otherwise they're just fighters with extra tricks they haven't earned.

  7. I have almost never seen them. I usually give players a set of "suggested" compatible alignments for the party (typically it's something like NG, CG, N, and CN) and they don't usually allow for paladins or assassins. I don't need the headaches.

  8. At least three of my 3d6 straight down characters were paladins. We have always played rather strictly with regards to the Code but, as Doug mentions, the paladin often gets a warning before the fall.

  9. We only had a paladin in our Unearthed Arcana-era days, so he was picked and then rolled, using the UA 9-3 dice distribution.

    The player read the Roger Moore Dragon article on Paladins (as had I), and had read Three Hearts Three Lions. So he pretty much took the approach of, do what Holgar Carlson would do. Be straight up, be brave, be honest, and err on the side of mercy when it came down to the kill-or-don't questions. He was an excellent paladin. It did cause some trouble with the players who'd get rambunctious and break in-game laws and such with their characters, but he handled that by insisting on people paying off their debts and then getting back to slaying evil.

    It worked out well - I still have great memories of that character, and it colors my view of the whole "Paladins don't fit D&D" and "Paladins are a problem" kind of thing. In my limited experience, a well-run paladin is a great benefit to the campaign.

  10. Paladins absolutely showed up in my games, it was inevitable that whenever any new character class was invented by the game authors or in magazine articles or just the players themselves that people played them. Early games used alignment essentially as religion, and even when there was a stated religion - "you worship Odin" - the morality of the characters was pretty much Law=good, Chaos=bad, Neutral=I'm only in it for the money. When players violated their chosen alignment/religion/moral code it was usually very obvious, and usual consequence for a paladin was having to go on a quest or go through a difficult physical ordeal (often as not a mini-dungeon kept by the Temple for just that sort of thing) to regain their paladin-powers

  11. I played a Paladin completely by-the-book back in the 1e days as one of my main characters. Playing a paladin back then was kind of a learning experience for me since I enjoyed playing characters with a religious bent to them.