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Musings on the "Lawful Jerk" Paladin


But as he pointed out, no one complains about all the other jerky classes. Just jerky Paladins. And they have done so even without alignment restrictions. After all, a Paladin will be just as jerky if you wipe the LG off of his character sheet.

In the current edition, it's true that alignment doesn't need to contribute to a paladin's jerkiness. But in past editions, it was a straitjacket that he had to adhere to in addition to a code of conduct, and therefore decidedly contributed to his jerkiness as he scurried around within that tiny ill-defined box whilst trying desperately to avoid straying over the edges.

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But contra what you are writing, and what [MENTION=40176]MarkB[/MENTION] is positing, these weren't the parts of the code that got people in trouble. There might have been some bad DMs out there, but as a general rule, the DM wasn't looking to strip you of your powers. Instead, and again IME, it was the rules about who the Paladin could party with ... um, who could be in the Paladin's party, that led to the whole "Jerky McJerkface telling the party what to do" reputation.

Part of which was that they couldn't knowingly associate with Evil characters, right? So, whilst erasing that Lawful Good alignment from the Paladin's character sheet might or might not make him less of a jerk, erasing the Chaotic Evil alignment from his best buddy's sheet certainly would.


Oh, I totally have a beef with alignment. I thought it was pretty stupid as a kid, as an adult I have even less use for it. I cannot fathom an adult being exposed to it and thinking it's useful, so imagine it's defenders must have been indoctrinated very early.

Ahh, the "if you were a mature, intelligent adult you would agree with me" argument. The sweet smell of arrogance.

Some people like alignment as one part of overall character description, others don't. Goes back to psych 101 - according to some theories people view the world through a set of "filters". So two people exposed to exactly the same scene will describe and understand it completely differently. It's similar to how some people see the face of Elvis in their toast ... they see something that is in many ways simply random and fit it into a pattern. I view alignment in a similar way: it gives me a hint of how a character views the world. It's only an issue if it's a straight-jacket.

I've taught several adults how to play D&D (started a couple of work groups), some people find alignment useful, some don't. But maybe the ones who liked it simply didn't meet your high standards.

But Paladin issues marinated in many editions of alignment garbage and the two are intertwined. Again, I point to the Lawful part of the thread title. A LG Fighter don't lose anything for not being lawful or good all the time. In previous editions, alignment mattered more to paladins than other classes.

You still are ignoring that they have to atone for chaotic acts, which is more or less entirely subjective.

IMHO the main reason old-school paladins share the brunt of this alignment-bashing is because they had to be a specific alignment, and violating that alignment had in-game consequences. Personally I have a problem if someone justifies being a jerk because of their alignment, no matter what that alignment is.

Tanin Wulf

First Post
On the other hand, sometimes GMs want a nuanced world where there are no truly good choices. This doesn't make it impossible to play a paladin, but it does render certain types of paladins difficult to play. And it requires more mental work than some players may want to put in (which is not a criticism; sometimes you just want to sling dice and have an adventure, not engage in painful ethical dilemmas).

(LTTP on this topic...) So, I think this is probably, in my experience, where the best paladins are forged. The ones the players really, really remember. Because being the only one who is unabashedly trying to be the good guy and having to muse through, "What is right here?" can often be very fun and engaging. These were definitely my most fun moments as a paladin, or as any class really (probably why Paladins and Clerics hold a special place in my heart). When I really had to ask myself, "What is the right thing to do here?" in a morally grey area in a nuanced game where good and evil weren't set things.

Unless, of course, "nuance" means...

And sometimes GMs want to play "gotcha" with their paladin players.
...yeah, that. :)



Does it make me a Lawful Jerk Paladin for typically enjoying playing my Paladins like they were being acted by Adam West?

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