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My Paladin killed a child molester (and now my DM wants to take away my powers!)


Westwind said:
According to the PH, a Paladin is to "punish those who harm or threaten innocents." Not bring them to the nearest authority. Not make sure they are represented by council at a trial. Not try to convert every last orc in the forest. Punish them.
It's been said, but I guess it bears repeating. Punishing does not necessarily mean killing. Punishing does not mean you have to do it personally. You can let the civil justice system do its work and assign the appropriate legal penalty. I suppose it boils down to whether you believe that all creatures, including evil ones, have the right to a fair trial, and whether the civil authorities are competent enough to give one.

Someone mentioned the old saying that when fighting evil, make sure that you do not become evil yourself. And fundamentally, I guess it boils down to a matter of rights. Evil may not see that any creatures has rights. Neutral may deny rights to evil people on the basis that "they deserved it" or "they had it coming". However, I believe that Good must see that all creatures, including evil ones, have rights and those rights should not be taken away unless absolutely necessary. Once Good starts to think that Evil has no rights, it starts on the slippery slope towards being Evil itself.

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Liquid Awesome
I'm not going to address the real question at hand. It's been discussed plenty already and my answer will probably be apparent from what I AM going to post about, which is a strong trend I see whenever these "Paladin" threads surface.

It seems to me that there are a great many GMs out there who, overtly or subtextually, are saying, "I will let you PLAY a Paladin, but I don't have to let you ENJOY playing a Paladin." We're talking about a class that is already tightly constrained in its tactical options by the rules as written. Paladins are effectively barred from lying, cheating and stealing, even if against Evil. Many GM's also come down on the Paladin if they knowingly let any of the other party members lie, cheat or steal, even if against Evil.

And, according to many of these same GM's, when it comes down to what Paladins are really made to do (Kick Evil Square in the Ass), they have to do so under very stringent guidelines that appear to include talking to the bad guy, finding out why he feels he must do evil, showing mercy and then handing him over to the "proper authorities". Why anyone would want to play a character in an adventure game that is bound to those restrictions is beyond me.

When I GM, I try to look at the party's actions in a favorable light. When I ask myself the question, "Should they be able to do that?", my default answer is yes. This holds for the Paladin as well. My goal is that the player should have as much fun as possible so long that a sense of the PC's integrity is kept intact. My goal is NOT to look for any small technicality to screw the PC out of his powers on.

Li Shenron

Wulf Ratbane said:
The Book of Exalted Deeds does not D&D make. Your quotes from that book make me as happy not to have purchased it as I am not to have purchased its Evil counterpart.
Oh, please. Violence is not always necessarily a victory for evil, not in the real world, and definitely not in D&D.
If every act of violence were a de facto victory for evil, there would be no good adventurers.
The vast bulk of the D&D gaming experience is that violence is a perfectly acceptable solution, in some if not most encounters the characters will face.
It's preposterous to say, "This is what D&D good is." It's no wonder that philosophy was relegated to an optional product. Frankly I'm surprised you can even find it there. It flies directly in the face of all of the FUN of D&D.

I insist in saying that the whole problem is because everyone pretends to apply his real world belief in the game. If you start doing that, you may find yourself impossibled to play with the others, as Wulf says when talking about his fun with D&D.

In a chess game, there are the whites and the blacks, they are equivalent and they kill each other. Easy. In a D&D game, there are the good and the evil, but it's already more complicated than that. There are evil and there are evil and there are other evil. The game has outsiders which make it simple: here's a devil = evil, period. It also has creatures which are "traditionally" evil such as orcs, but with exceptions. And finally it has creatures which you cannot say, like humans, until you see their actions and/or you are revealed their motivations.
When you play a game, watch a movie, read a book or doing something else which exists only in fantasy, you may want to keep it simple. If you start thinking about fantasy characters in the real world terms, almost none would be "good", and in practice I haven't seen a large difference between the behaviour of good and evil D&D PCs. However, you still cannot make D&D as simple as chess.

If your party really feels like, you can try making the game more complex. Book of Exalted Deeds (and here I totally disagree with Wulf) tries to do that a little, and in fact it is a book for "mature audiences". You need to accept a more difficult way of handling the game if you use this book.

When talking about character's morality, the clash between the DM and the player in question must remain at the game level: the paladin thought he was doing the right thing, and his god disagreed. Instead of complaining because he lost some abilities, the player should take advantage of the situation as a RP idea. OTOH, the DM could have been more careful of the consequences of screwing up the current idea.
It should have been nice before playing that the whole group agreed about the level of complexity of these issues, and about the DM's rights to put character's morality under test. It is really a matter of a few minutes... when we started the last campaign, I just asked the players if it was ok for them that we did not question these things - the reason was that the game was our 1st in 3.5 and I had to concentrate on learning the rules - so they just kill stuff based on tactics; in previous campaigns we enjoyed deepening the issue more and it works just as well if everyone likes it.

Wulf Ratbane said:
Evil is evil, and it is GOOD to kill it.
Numion said:
The Paladin did not murder anyone. He executed a criminal.

If you are talking in game terms, these are example of legitimate statements. The point is that if everyone agrees not to stress the subject, your characters don't have to all agree with each other about the statement (just as players don't). For a Paladin of another god these statements could be ultimate blasphemy.

But the reason of this troublesome debate is that when someone writes such statements he is still based on his own believes, not his character, which inevitably leads to something unacceptable for example by religious players.

Just to say, I have played with fascists and pacifists at the same table, and it is possible to play together as long as you play and don't preach.

Wulf Ratbane said:
I don't recall reading any of this cosmology in my PHB. I could be wrong, but my impression is that you are pulling heavily from supplements that are specifically written to change the fundamental D&D game and to add complexities of grey to a black and white core.

I'm actually going back to the AD&D PHB... and the manual of the planes. In heaven there isn't internal violent conflict while in hell there is. I think this isn't much away from the 3X PHB and I'd tend to think that the concept of the great wheel is old enough to consider cannon.

To put it another way, you are citing from works that are specifically written to explore deeper philosophical arguments on the nature of good and evil.

The D&D game is not "defined" by the BoVD, the BoED, or the MoP. The D&D game at its core essence does not say that killing is bad.

True. But though the core doesn't address the issue that doesn't mean the issue hasn't been addressed. And to be honest, although the PHB, DMG, and MM (what I think you mean by core) are the only really required books, all the books by WoTC are considered core D&D material.

Do they not wrestle on Mt. Olympus?

I think wrestling is very different than trying to hurt someone. A sport is not an attempt to injure, it's a contest. Although there may be simularities drawn, I don't think this is pertanent. It's like our discussion is wrestling where a flame war would be real violence. Not a good analogy, but the best I can do right now.

To say that "all violence is evil" is a pacifist approach. The core D&D game is not pacifist.

Not necessarily. I'll rebutt this with the concept that Paladins don't have the right to smite and kill every creature (human, monsters, whatever) they meet that detects as evil and that that is in the core books. This limitiation wouldn't exist if evil really was evil and good really was good as described in a black and white reading. Shades of gray are explored in the core books, though not to the extent as in other books. The PHB goes so far as to say that only monsters and villians are evil. So the core books obviously shouldn't be considered as the difinitive source for D&D morality alone.

If there is no violence in heaven, I can't help but think that violence cannot be anything but caused by evil. As I stated earlier, violence used against violence is the expected response for good, but it's not the first response, nor even the preferred response. The best way to end violence isn't through more violence, but though non-violent ways. A just mutual peace is often longer lasting than an unjust "victory."

And certainly in the real world, one can make a very solid argument that pacifism and non-violence inevitably leads to GREATER EVIL than measured, violent resistance. Perforce, as Evil, using violence as a means, would be impossible to resist. Pacifism is not a valid response to the relentless assault of evil.

I'm trying to leave the real world out of this as much as possible. Hopefully that will help focus on the game world.

joe b.


Registered User
Wulf Ratbane said:

There is evil in the world. Irredeemable evil.

A paladin should exult when an evil creature is slain. The cause of Good has been served.

Again with this notion that violence and killing is always evil... Guys. Come on. You aren't redeeming that mind flayer.

That does not mean he should like it. It may have to be done for the greater good, still it's not an easy burden ... ;)

Guess why I scarcely play paladins?


Wulf Ratbane said:

There is evil in the world. Irredeemable evil.

A paladin should exult when an evil creature is slain. The cause of Good has been served.

Again with this notion that violence and killing is always evil... Guys. Come on. You aren't redeeming that mind flayer.

Basic clash of cosmologies, I guess. In my game, there is no irredeemable evil. Stopping evil is good. If the only way to stop evil is to kill it, so be it. The paladin can be satisfied that he has done his job. If it was not necessary to kill in order to stop evil, a paladin is not wrong to kill, but it would have been better not to. A paladin really exults when evil is redeemed.


First Post
Darklone said:
Sure. Did this paladin walk the line? IMHO not. He overstepped it a little bit.
We could ask Eadrics player to post here, but knowing him from the story I think he wouldn't have acted like this paladin. Remember the battle where he subdued his opponents on the battlefield?

But did he overstep it far enough to lose the trust of his diety? IMHO, no.
I don't even think he overstepped it and in no way was it "evil" what he did.

I mentioned the Story Hour not because of a specific example out of it, but a an example of how far a Paladin shoud be allowed to go. Eadric did things, that would normally "automatically" strip him of his Paladinhood and were far worse than the case at hand.
In a way your example even proves my point, as Eadric would not have lost his powers even if he had not used subdual damage. He did it, yes, but he was not obliged to do it and his god would not have stripped him of his powers if he had not.

I vote for some nightmares, at worst ;)
Last edited:

Vae Victus

First Post
Chivalric Codes

mroberon1972 said:
Ok... Good queston.

Ask a police negotiator or sniper.

The negotiator will lie, trick, and play mindgames with a perp until he's a psychic wreck, then act like his friend to get him out into the open where he can be taken down. Every one I have met would line up to lawful good better than most people I know.

The sniper does not care if the perp is facing or away, and they don't have to give warning a sniper is going to shoot the perp. Oh, and he doesn't have to be holding a weapon either.

In my opinion, these are not good examples reflecting what a paladin should think like. Neither law enforcement officers mentioned above are expected to live according to a strict moral, social, religious, and martial code of thought and action demanding such strictures as ascetic struggle, chastity, and an exhausting and nearly unrealistic systematic order to how one does battle. I assume that most paladins are based on the religious orders of the crusades (Hospitalers, Templars, the Order of Santiago, the Teutonic Order) or after fantastic accounts such as the Song of Roland or Arthurian myth. In that case, the paladin would be required to take the more difficult and seemingly impractical route because they are not only serving a moral/religious ideal, they are also acting in accordance to the structure of the social order. By not taking the offender before the local magistrate for trial and execution, you have denied the authorities of their divine right to deal out justice thereby upsetting the social order.

Torak Stoneweaver

First Post
Come on Guys

Good Day...

I have read all the replies and find it quite funny that people use references to feudalistic Europe, modern day snipers and our moral structure to sanctify or vilify the actions of this Paladin in the D&D world of Faerun.

They have nothing to do with each other. The problem of over thinkning alignment issues is quite common. I did this am I evil... good grief...

The black and white of alignments is grey at best when you try to compare it to modern morales or for that matter morals that exist in any other source but D&D.

With a D&D Faerunian cosmology in mind... was the act evil... not a chance... was the act neutral... nope... was the act good... yes...

You have to remember that a lawful person doesn't neccessarily follow a code of legality imposed on him/her by authorities... in this case the Paladin's lawfulness would be imparted by the beliefs of his diety and without knowing the Diety we are all just speculating.

Using the provided information, as a DM for over 20+ years, I would say that while his actions may have seems a tad compulsive and not completely Paladin-like... they were justified due to the situations at hand.

You have an evil person going to rape an inocent child again... do you say "I am here to end your evil.. turn around and have at it with someone your own size..." and let the evil guy grab the girl and use her as leverage or worse yet kill the girl out of spite so there is no actual victim... NOPE you take the options in ... killing the man before he can touch the girl is a primal reaction to a dire situation.

The old phrase everyone knows is Lawful Good doesn't mean lawful stupid... and with a young girl's life in the balance you take no chances...

If however the same Paladin happened upon the scene and saw the man just finish and leave before he could get there to make a differnce was to later encounter the foe on the street he then must call him out if you will... it depends on the gravity and direness of the situation..

my 2 1/2 coppers

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