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Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 06:21 AM #1
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
My Paladin killed a child molester (and now my DM wants to take away my powers!)
Okay guys, let's open up another can of worms.
Last night we were playing our Forgotten Realms campaign and my character, a 5th level Paladin, observed this shifty character go to the back room of the tavern we were carousing in. Suspicious, my Paladin followed the guy and found that he had a 10-year-old girl tied up in the storage room. My DM didn't get into gory description, but he told us, "It is obvious from the girl's physical appearance that she has been sexually violated."
Our campaign is a gritty one. These issues come up.
Then the guy (who still hadn't noticed my Paladin in the doorway) says, "Now let's teach you another lesson, missy." And he *undid his pants*.
With no hesitation, I attacked him with my sword. My DM cautioned me, saying, "Attacking him from behind, with your BAB and STR bonus, you realize that you will probably kill him with one blow. The dude's a lowly commoner."
"My intention is to cut off his head," I (my Paladin) replied.
I did so.
Long story short--now my DM has stripped me of my Paladinhood. I'm fighting him on it. His argument: "A cowardly, unjust, unlawful act." My argument: "A righteous, noble, just act."
My DM is a lurker but not a poster...he *will* be reading your responses to this situation. He has agreed to abide by whatever consensus you, the jury, arrive at. (For that I give him lots of credit.)
Guardian of the North
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 06:33 AM #2
I agree with your GM
In my opinion, a Paladin would have at the worst, given the guy the opportunity to defend himself, but optimally, have arrested the man and brought him before the Law. I could see any alignment other than " Lawful Good " doing what you did, but that is why I do not play Paladins. The God of law is whom, I forget...Lathander maybe? Yeah...arrested, or beaten into submission, then dragged before the courts...definately way to go
I hate Lawful Good....Dirty Harry was Chaotic GoodAnd you Barbarian, what is lifes greatest joy? " To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women"
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 06:42 AM #3
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Ya, a LG person first should have asked him to surrender to take him to the local law. Killing him in such an unhonorible way (attacking a man from behind who has his pants down) would go against a Paladins code. But lucky, in D&D attuning and being forgiven is not hard.
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 06:44 AM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
According to the paladin's Code of Conduct, a paladin must "punish those who threaten or harm innocents."
I'd say that your paladin deserves to keep his powers.-Dark Jezter
"He who does not punish evil commands it to be done."
-Leonardo Da Vinci
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."
- Robert E. Howard, The Tower of the Elephant.
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 09:56 AM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Dark Jezter
Here's a definitively, obviously evil guy caught in the act of harming an innocent child; the paladin's under no obligation to bring the guy back alive or give him a "fair fight" or tell him "hey, please stop" or anything like that, barring vagaries in local law enforcement. It's a clear-cut decision: you are the paladin, you are confronted with a man who is about to perform an utterly vile crime, you stop him. Not "you stop him in the nicest way possible," or "you stop him as long as he's looking in your direction," or "you ask him nicely to stop and please repent his evil ways," or even "you stop him with minimal force."
Taking off his head in one stroke is actually kind of merciful for a habitual child rapist; I'd imagine many communities even today would have cried out for a longer, more painful end for the criminal. Unless this particular kingdom has a bizarre criminal justice system where rape isn't considered to be all that bad (like you're playing F.A.T.A.L. or something), I don't even see how what the paladin did conflicts with "respecting legitimate authority," which is about the only part of the code as written that is even called into question by this act, and that's only if he doesn't free the girl and report the whole thing to the local authorities, up to and especially the bit where he chopped the rapist's head off. The paladin helped an innocent in need, punished the person harming that innocent, and if anything, cutting that guy's head off just enhances the honor of the paladin; all he needs to do now is take responsibility for his actions and explain to the local magistrates what he did and why.
Whereupon they'll probably give him a reward for doing the right thing.
Being good, especially paladin-style holy-warrior Lawful Good, doesn't mean pacifism or embracing modern concepts of civil and criminal rights. Most fantasy settings are very rough places, with small communities fortifying themselves against bandit armies and monsters and the like. Evil is a real, palpable presence in most of those settings, and it needs to be fought. Sure, that kind of high-handed I-am-the-executioner vigilante schtick won't fly in the real world, but in a setting where demons are real and gods exist and actually interact with their worshippers, I suspect that paladins should be more than capable of administering some instant justice to the vilest scum they encounter without their own god pitching a fit about it. Local authorities will have a few things to say about it, I'm sure. But if you're trying to tell me that a good god who ordains paladins to go out and slay evil in his/her name would say "Whoops, sorry pally, killing a guy who is raping a little girl is way over the line, no more special powers for YOU," I think you may need to rethink just what kind of gods your campaign world has in it.
honestly, it sounds like your gm is just looking for an excuse to play kick-the-paladin
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 10:11 AM #6
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Originally Posted by Herpes Cineplex
This is why stopping people in the nicest ways, or stopping them when they're looking at you, or asking them to stop and repent is part of being a Paladin.
Paladin's don't slay evil unless they have too. If they can slay evil whenever they want to just because it's evil, they can slay probably a good 50% of the population. Some may think this molester is a "has to slay evil" situation, but others don't. Paladins especially shouldn't slay evil when the societies they're supposed to protect and support have decided on other Good means of dealing with evil.
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Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 10:41 AM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by jgbrowning
It's not an insult, because it's says something nice about you when your gut reaction tells you that people should be innocent until proven guilty, that you must prove that guilt even if you actually witnessed the crime as it happened, that rehabilitation and reform is preferable to punishment, and that mercy should be extended to everyone, even (and perhaps especially) to those who most would say do not deserve it. I'm a big fan of all of those things.
I just don't assume that a fantasy setting where devils and demons and gods and monsters are all visibly present and active, where people live in pseudo-medieval communities, where dictatorships and monarchies and the like seem to be the rule rather than the exception, and where people can be magically forced to speak the truth even when they're dead is necessarily an appropriate place for those sentiments to be considered normal. In the 21st century, in this country? Absolutely they should be normal, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But in this swords-and-sorcery setting, I'm not going to put any money on most countries (or any of them, for that matter) having such an enlightened, complicated, and comprehensive legal and ethical system in place.
I also make a distinction between the secular authorities, who cannot revoke paladinhood, and the actual god who grants paladinhood in the first place. And D&D-style gods seem to be an awfully pragmatic (and often dogmatic and intolerant) bunch; obviously, the paladin's god can know the full truth about the situation in an instant and will know that the paladin has, in modern cop parlance, made a righteous bust. He has caught a child molestor with his pants literally down, and it takes an unreasonable amount of pretzel logic to see that situation any other way. Now all we need to know is whether this paladin's god is the kind of god who thinks that everyone, even a vile rapist, deserves a second chance, or if it's the kind of god that says that certain crimes are so heinous that they permanently stain the soul of the criminal and that it is the sacred duty of all that is Right and Good to send that besmirched soul off to the Abyss where it can suffer the eternal torments meted out to such creatures.
I tend to think the latter kind of god is more likely to ordain paladins, but without either of us knowing more about this particular setting, we're both just speculating. If this is a paladin of a god of mercy and redemption, he's totally screwed because you're right, he should have at least made an attempt to do something other than mete out swift, uncompromising justice to the evildoer; but if he's a paladin of a god of righteousness and shielding the innocent, he's just won some serious spirtual brownie points for doing exactly the right thing.
So I'm going to stick to my original diagnosis and say that in this case, the GM is simply playing kick-the-paladin. He's inventing new, undocumented restrictions, adding them to the paladin's code without mentioning it to the player, and then setting the PC up to fail. I'm with the player here in crying foul over this.
and i'm also firmly in the "good is more important than lawful" paladin camp anyway
Edit to add:
Originally Posted by Zimri
Obviously, we don't live in the setting where this event occurred. We never will live in that setting. That setting is under no obligation to mimic our modern-day world in any respect.
In fact, let's all take a moment to remember that in this particular scenario, it was the GM's decision to have the paladin stumble across this rape-in-progress. This wasn't random, this wasn't real, this was an event specifically selected by the GM and--I'm fairly sure--meant to be a little "test" for the paladin. The only reason this thread exists is because the GM and the player disagree about whether that test was actually passed or not, and all I'm saying is that the player's case is better supported in most of the settings I've read and/or played in.
I don't see anything here that tells me that the paladin performed an overtly evil act or a gross violation of the standard paladin's code. If the standard-issue code has been modified in their game to encompass modern philosophies about criminal justice, I kinda think it's the GM's responsibility to make those modifications clear to the player before setting up a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose situation.
Last edited by Herpes Cineplex; Thursday, 27th May, 2004 at 11:27 AM.
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 10:11 AM #8Originally Posted by Herpes Cineplex
Paladins are held to a stricter moral code than anyone else. His actions were NOT honorable, his actions did NOT serve the greatest possible good, his actions MAY cause he and others of his religion, and even his GOD to be thought of in a lesser manner.
It isn't like he is permanently stripped, a small quest (perhaps with the child as his squire or what not , teaching her that losing your temper is not a good thing and that the ends do not justify the means) and an atonement spell and he is all better.
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 10:29 AM #9
Gallant (Lvl 3)
I think many people have taken the "uphold and protect" parts of the code of conduct to mean "kill and maim".
Upholding the law DOES NOT mean killing. Your Paladin could have done subdual damage, knocked him out, saved the little girl, and dragged his arse to the authorities.
Secondly you were in some kind of carousing establishment (I dont' want to know what carousing entails in your gritty games - I just hope it was Paladin-like). Is it possible that this guy was just a "customer" of whomever really held the girl captive. Perhaps selling her off.
All you did was kill a man. Yes he was about to commit a horrendous act, however you DID NOT have to kill him.
The alignment of Lawful Good indicates that you follow the laws for the good of everyone. What are the laws of the land? If they allow you to kill an unarmed civilian then you are perfectly in the clear, however I'm guessing that you're not allowed to do this.
Secondly, you cannot prove 100% that killing him was good for everyone. Indeed it was good for the girl, however was he the sole-provider for a family he wasn't abusing? Is his family now destined to die of starvation this winter?
Your DM did warn you about the situation. Which IMHO he did not have to do if he had previously defined the laws of the land and the gods. Assuming he didn't do this (it's a tough job to do), he gave you indication of what the law (his law) said about the situation.
At this point you decided to continue with the kill. You made a conscious choice to murder - you planned to kill him while his back was turned and pants down. Granted it could be opportunistic murder, but murder nonetheless. You helped the girl, but you MURDERED someone. A Paladin's code of conduct doesn't not state "and thou shalt murder the infidels". It says you should punish them.
Knocking him out and chaining him to the wall would be a decent punishment. If the place is how you describe then sooner or later some other person is going to wander in and abuse the man.My two cents worth, which at today's conversion rates amounts to nothing.
Thursday, 27th May, 2004, 06:53 AM #10
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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In my opinion, a Paladin would have at the worst, given the guy the opportunity to defend himself
but optimally, have arrested the man and brought him before the Law.
The God of law is whom, I forget...Lathander maybe?
My oppinion: the paladin did what was right and took what action was appropriate at the time. He should keep his powers and status.*roll* No, you don't find any traps, and in fact that big red lever over there appears to be made out of candy!
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