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5E Paladin, How Are You Righteous?

Your paladin is a knight renowned for courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. You do what is right no matter the cost. But why? And how do you show your righteousness?


Why would a person put a moral code ahead of their own safety and comfort? You don’t have to be a paladin to do so. Here are some ideas to consider. Keep in mind a paladin is unlikely to feel they measure up to their own standards and constantly strive to improve.
  • You serve a higher cause. You know you are flawed and can’t measure up to the standards of your cause but you believe in that cause and advancing it. The cause is bigger than you are and matters more. You pursue justice for the weak, honor toward the civilized, and courage in battle against the enemies of your cause and your higher power.
  • Innocents matter more than you. Your beliefs lead you to put others, especially the weak and helpless, ahead of yourself. You live to serve and protect. You may work closely with a village or town to keep its residents safe from enemies outside and within the settlement itself.
  • The weak need protecting. You are strong when it comes to fighting. Those who can’t easily protect themselves need you to stand in the gap. You prefer to take the fight to the enemy and serve on distant frontiers so those back home live in safety. A paladin in hell fits this description.
  • You know evil and it must be defeated. Evil manifests as murder, lying, stealing, the taking of another’s freedom without just cause, breaking oaths, and showing disrespect for the higher power you serve. Some evil can be confronted with words, others with deeds, and in some cases steel is needed.
How does your paladin show her righteousness? This line must be carefully walked so as to not stray into self-righteousness (being right because you say you are). As a paladin, perhaps the best way to display righteousness is through action and not through talking.
  • You never back down from evil. If you see soldiers abusing an innocent peasant, a rich man stealing from a poor man, or a knight murdering innocents you intervene. Those soldiers might outnumber you, that rich man may be your benefactor, and that knight might be your liege lord. It doesn’t matter. You stand against evil no matter what.
  • You are kind and gentle with those weaker than you. The smaller and more humble the person, the more you show respect and offer aid. You will give them shelter, gold, your possessions, your protection, fight monsters preying on them, whatever they need.
  • You give alms to the poor, protect widows and orphans, stand up for beggars and serfs, listen to those in need, and champion the cause of the downtrodden. Your needs always come last. You defend against bandits, those in power who are corrupt, and other oppressors which might include tyrannical dragons and other monsters.
  • You heal the sick and diseased, provide food for the hungry, visit prisoners to offer comfort and food and hope in your higher power, protect the weak, and provide shelter for the homeless. While your adventures take you into the wilds, you always spend the gold you recover and the powers you acquire on the needy whenever you can.
  • You believe that each individual person has equal value and is made in the image of a higher power. You work tirelessly to abolish slavery, to elevate persons in minority groups, and oppose laws and practices that take innocent life and freedom. You will fight any evil that takes life without just cause and treads on freedom.
Being a paladin is not easy, especially if your best friends like to kill and loot. You may find it works best to act on your beliefs more, talk less, and really listen to where those who oppose you are coming from. Only when innocent life and freedom is threatened do you take up the sword for your cause and in the name of your higher power and bring the fight to the enemy.
 
Charles Dunwoody

Comments


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have you read the oaths. I don’t think so. Maybe an oath breaker. But even vengeance has an oath that is a good alignment
1 ) I don't think you have. Conquest certainly doesn't suggest "good" (although it doesn't preclude it).

2) Any penalties for breaking oaths are purely at DM discretion.

3) It's quite possible to stick to the letter of an oath whist acting in a manor contrary to the spirit of the oath.
 


PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
have you read the oaths. I don’t think so. Maybe an oath breaker. But even vengeance has an oath that is a good alignment
He was saying that you can, not that you must. You can easily play a Paladin as a trigger-happy bigoted vigilante and not be outright punished for it by the rules. But you can just as easily play a Paladin as the classical righteous knight in shining armour and also not be punished by the rules for doing so. Of course, both come with in-game roleplaying consequences, and potentially table conflict if you're being an abrasive blowhard about it.
 

Eltab

Hero
"You believe that each individual person has equal value and is made in the image of a higher power. You work tirelessly to abolish slavery, to elevate persons in minority groups, and oppose laws and practices that take innocent life and freedom. You will fight any evil that takes life without just cause and treads on freedom."

What? In what world are Paladins not genocidal, Spanish-Inquisition-style, smug bastards wielding rapiers, and generally being too trigger-happy?
In my experience, if a PC group sees an opportunity to free slaves or disrespect slaveowners, the Official Classic LG Paladin will be left choking on their dust.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
  • You believe that each individual person has equal value and is made in the image of a higher power.
Honestly, that tenet is more chaotic than lawful. A LG character could certainly believe in the justice of social hierarchies, perhaps even believe they are superior to more egalitarian social structures because they can provide mutually beneficial obligations - such as peasants contributing part of their labor to support a military class for who then protects them. They would just work to keep them honest and non-exploitive.
 

Your paladin is a knight renowned for courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. You do what is right no matter the cost. But why? And how do you show your righteousness?
I show righteousness by being courageous, honorable, just, ready to help the weak, and do what is right despite the personal cost. Why do I do that? Because I am compelled to do so by personal conviction.

Honestly, it's not complicated and never has been... until people make it complicated (though I've never understood why they want it that way).
 


In my experience, if a PC group sees an opportunity to free slaves or disrespect slaveowners, the Official Classic LG Paladin will be left choking on their dust.
Indeed. In a society where slavery is legal it's going to be the chaotic characters who are smashing the chains.

Which is not to say that a paladin can't be a chaotic liberator, 5e allows for that.
 



Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
In my games they were called the Anti-Paladin to the players, and The Black Knight to the PC's.

Good got you down? Try this for Evil - The Anti-Paladin NPC
By George Laking and Tim Mesford
Dragon Magazine #039 pages 8-9, 52-55
July, 1980
 

I find its hard for modern "moral relativists" to play a righteous holy warrior in a world of elemental evil and chaos. I have players who think a LG Paladin should be able to cut corners a lot and the ends justify the means, adventure with unsavory types, etc. They want the powers but not the ethos.
Meanwhile, subclasses like the Oath of Vengeance are explicitly built around the concept of "the ends justify the means". The 5e paladin is meant to be a chassis for a multitude of different and potentially conflicting character types, not anyone's personal concept of the One True Paladin.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Meanwhile, subclasses like the Oath of Vengeance are explicitly built around the concept of "the ends justify the means". The 5e paladin is meant to be a chassis for a multitude of different and potentially conflicting character types, not anyone's personal concept of the One True Paladin.
Sure in 5e that is totally true. But I didn't think this was a 5e specific thread and I referred to a classic LG paladin.
 

Luce

Explorer
I personally like the Sentinel (the NG variant)[source: Drg 310].
At least according to Dragon Magazine(312), the 3e CE variant was called the Anti-Paladin.
 

Sure in 5e that is totally true. But I didn't think this was a 5e specific thread and I referred to a classic LG paladin.
There is a reason 5e dropped "the classic LG paladin" - we have all seen, and probably played, that character a million times over already. The article is about 40 years too late.
 

WayneLigon

Adventurer
Indeed. In a society where slavery is legal it's going to be the chaotic characters who are smashing the chains.

Which is not to say that a paladin can't be a chaotic liberator, 5e allows for that.
The biggest mistake people make in D&D is thinking that 'Lawful' means 'the laws men create'. It means the more abstract concept of 'order'.

The silly 'gotcha' of 'haha, paladin,you're in a society where slavery is legal! You have to own slaves! And rape them, too, because that is legal as well!' is just face-palming. Any GM that uses it isn't presenting a 'moral dilemma', they're spitting on the concept of someone who wants to actually do good.

Human-made law is made according to how the wind blows, and can be made by evil people as well as by good ones. Paladins will ignore human-made laws that lead to evil being done. They'll be particularly perturbed by laws that lead to evil, because laws are supposed to be the linchpin of civilization.
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
A Paladin is not bound by mortal laws, but by those of its deity.

So as WayneLigon pointed out, a LAW may be legal in its territory yet it can still be immoral to a Paladin (or anyone).

Even in today's world, how many times has Greenpeace been unlawful for something they believe in. How many times do people protest a legally approved construction, or person visiting?

People have protested for/against: alcohol/prohibition, hookers/prostitution, pro-choice/pro-life, etc.

In my games, every Paladin HAS TO have a deity it worships. The Paladin's moral compass is based on those of its deity.

A great example is from DragonLance, where we had two lawful order of Knights: the Knight's of Solamnia and the Knight's of Takhisis.

Both share lots in common, in terms of bravery, chivalry, honour, military order, etc. but because the two orders worship different deities, their goals and ambitions differ lots.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
I'm not sure my paladin is virtuous by many definitions.

My current paladin is a follower of Waukeen the Lady of Coin. He serves the Invisible Hand of the Market and is a lot like the Ferengi from Star Trek. He would think that Ayn Rand is a prophet. He is a caricature of an extreme capitalist libertarian. He believes that charity is immoral. He almost always demands payment for his services. He won't save you for free.

He will interfere for free when the people of a village pay their tithe to Waukeen. He views it like an insurance policy, if they pay their tithe, they helped pay for the paladins, therefore they can expect help.

The other times are when the market itself is under threat, such as orcish slavers stealing the local artisans, or bandits stopping travelling merchants.
 
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There's a character in the TV series "The Leftovers" called Matt Jamison which, in my opinion, is a good inspiration for a complex take on the Paladin. He is a righteous, well-meaning priest who tries hard to live by the moral tenets of his religion but does it in the most wrongheaded, antagonistic and self-destructive fashion imaginable.
 

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