D&D 5E Paladins in 5e (different from Battle Clerics and Chivalrous Fighters)

FireLance

Legend
As anyone who has played the Ultima series (from Ultima IV onward, anyway) knows, a fighter is all about Valor, but a paladin is all about Honor. ;)

Jokes aside, that to me is the essence of a paladin: he is a warrior of virtue. Unlike a fighter, he is not fighting for a good cause simply because he is paid, or because he is going along with a friend. He is deliberately and consciously choosing to do so: defending the innocent, protecting the weak, helping the helpless, bringing justice to the wicked, etc. As a class, paladins should also be more discerning than clerics: you wouldn't find a paladin serving a god of darkness or greed, for example.

In 3e and ealier editions, this was done by restricting paladins to mostly the Lawful Good alignment. Early 4e opened up the paladin class to every alignment (personal view: ugh :eek:), but Essentials brought back some of that flavor by tying paladins to a virtue (specifically, valor and sacrifice).

In 5e, I hope I get my warriors of virtue back. Mind you, if I were to start from a clean slate, I probably wouldn't have a separate paladin class. I'd start with a basic fighter and offer the paladin abilities through a series of divine boons which the character must earn. Wouldn't that be an interesting solo adventure path? :)
 

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Frostmarrow

First Post
The paladin as a concept is surprisingly sturdy. Paladins started out as lawful good humans with Cha 17+. The paladin evolved into any race, any alignment, with two digit charisma. I didn't like it but, even I must admit, the paladin is still going strong. Paladin would probably survive even if LG was the only alignment explicitly banned!
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
If Fighters are the generals, captains, guards, soldiers, cavalry, and archers of the world, in my view, Paladins are the noble knights.

They stand for high ideals. They have a code of honor. They have the power of something greater behind them. I like the Authurian feel of the classic D&D paladin, but for me the paladin sort of overlaps with a concept like the Samurai. Chivalry or Bushido, the important thing to note is that they stand fully apart from "common folks." They are held to higher standards, they have greater responsibility, and they have higher aspirations. It's the concept of a noble warrior, as opposed to the Fighter's more "rough and tumble" ideal.

Thus, I don't see them as tethered to deities or the Lawful Good alignment necessarily. I do see them tethered to the social order necessarily -- defy the nobility, and you are likely to go "ronin." And as much as gods (in non-D&D) are intrinsically part of the social order historically, they carry deific baggage with them.

In combat, I imagine them as the first-one-in, last-one-out types. Endurance and helping your allies are the strong suits. They might be the type to break out with big holy explosions when the going gets especially tough. (overall combat: B)

In social interaction, I imagine them as suave, idealized, and persuasive. Because of their position, and because of their charisma, and because of their wisdom, and because of their influence, and because of their honorable codes, they are very good at getting people to their side (overall social: A)

In exploration, I imagine them as mounted. I imagine them as capable of determining safe from foolish rather well, and to have a strong sense of the Right Path (divination). This really isn't their strong suit - though wise, they rely mostly on taking the safe path rather than blazing through a difficult trail (overall exploration: D).
 

Put up whatever weird requirements you want for the word 'Paladin.' Just make sure the game also allows for a divinely-inspired warrior who sprints around lightly-armored, hiding and shooting arrows at the forces of evil. Doesn't have to be called a paladin, but it should be possible.
 

Grydan

First Post
With all of the talk about what paladins are, or should be, or must be that's been bouncing around, I'd been curious as to the background of what paladins were meant to represent in the game.

It is my understanding, and feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, that the primary inspiration for the paladin is one specific character. Just like how the ranger was inspired by Strider/Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, the paladin was inspired primarily by Holger Carlsen from Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions.

So I tracked down a copy and read it. It's quite fun, and for something written over a decade before D&D came into existence, it's very easy to see how it influenced the game.

A conflict between Law and Chaos. A mighty warrior (referred to multiple times as a paladin, other times as a knight) drawn into the conflict. A loyal steed. A quite literally named "magic weapon", the Dagger of Burning. A named sword. Dragons, werewolves, dwarves, elves, faerie, witches, and so on and so forth. A tunic that allows someone to change shape. The troll in the story is very clearly the primary inspiration for D&D's trolls.

What struck me, however, is how poorly Holger Carlsen would be modelled by most versions of the paladin, throughout the history of the game. Maybe even all of them. In fact, most of the descriptions offered in this thread about what a paladin is or should be would kick him to the curb.

I don't particularly care what the paladin turns out to be, though I hope alignment remains strictly optional. It just amuses me that the character I had been lead to believe inspired the class apparently couldn't qualify by most people's standards.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
Frankly, paladins are a problem. They're such a D&D-ism that we'll never lose them, but they cause all kinds of problems, both from a mechanical gameplay perspective and from a roleplaying perspective.

Honestly, I hope they just make it the equivalent of a prestige class for fighters, or at least do some kind of generic knight and make the paladin only one possible option.

The important definitional issues are:
*Attacks directly with weapons
*Favors heavy armor
*Good with mounts
*Strong social abilties
*Great defenses
*Some kind of code

Honestly, if they make anything reverent of the old edition paladins I'll just ban it anyway.
 

trancejeremy

Adventurer
With all of the talk about what paladins are, or should be, or must be that's been bouncing around, I'd been curious as to the background of what paladins were meant to represent in the game.

It is my understanding, and feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, that the primary inspiration for the paladin is one specific character. Just like how the ranger was inspired by Strider/Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, the paladin was inspired primarily by Holger Carlsen from Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions.

So I tracked down a copy and read it. It's quite fun, and for something written over a decade before D&D came into existence, it's very easy to see how it influenced the game.

A conflict between Law and Chaos. A mighty warrior (referred to multiple times as a paladin, other times as a knight) drawn into the conflict. A loyal steed. A quite literally named "magic weapon", the Dagger of Burning. A named sword. Dragons, werewolves, dwarves, elves, faerie, witches, and so on and so forth. A tunic that allows someone to change shape. The troll in the story is very clearly the primary inspiration for D&D's trolls.

What struck me, however, is how poorly Holger Carlsen would be modelled by most versions of the paladin, throughout the history of the game. Maybe even all of them. In fact, most of the descriptions offered in this thread about what a paladin is or should be would kick him to the curb.

I don't particularly care what the paladin turns out to be, though I hope alignment remains strictly optional. It just amuses me that the character I had been lead to believe inspired the class apparently couldn't qualify by most people's standards.

Paladins were the peers of Charlemagne. Essentially the equivalent of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.

Bullfinch (the folklore/mythology guy) has a whole book about their exploits.

Holgar Carlsen was Ogier the Dane, who was enspelled by Morgana le Fey. 3 of Hearts, 3 of Lions was basically a sequel to that legend.

I'm not sure how the original paladin didn't fit him - he was a champion of law (and good) battling the forces of chaos (and evil, he fought nazis while in the real world), had that magical warhorse, a holy avenger sword (Curtana)
 

shamsael

First Post
First and foremost a fighter is a fighter is a fighter. From there you make small changes to reflect the niche the sub class fits into.

Everybody fights!

The concept of fighter is too broad. I'd like to see it refracted into its archetypes, Cavalier, Weapon Master, Berserker, Duelist, Archer, Soldier, Brawler, etc. If, for the sake of nostalgia, one of these archetypes retains the name "fighter" I don't mind, but I see the concept of "fighter" being much broader and less defined (for that matter definable) than the term "spell caster".

I think the paladin is more than just a hybrid cleric/fighter or a specialized version of either. Paladins heal, as do Clerics, but they do so in a very different way from clerics, just as they control the battlefield and deal damage in a very different way than a fighter.
 

boredgremlin

Banned
Banned
I dont see any great need to have a huge differentiation mechanically between the fighter and the paladin. Its a flavor choice.

To me the new paladin should be a martially focused class thats not as good at martial as the straight fighter with some divinely inspired magical abilities.

Some sort of magical smiting, some sort of protection against magic and at least a moderate ability to proselytize their faith successfully what should be core Paladin abilities.

Other then that I think they should get a few mystic/divine bennies that vary based on their faith and players can customize and call it a day.


Rather then going to books I'm going to give my example of a paladin as Luke Skywalker. Solo was the fighter, Luke was the paladin.

What were the differences other then choice of weapons? Solo was arguably better with a wide variety of weapons and had no powers.

Skywalker focused on one weapon and got a pretty minor telekinesis and telepathy power.

Really nothing he did would mechanically be stronger then a 2nd or 3rd level spell historically for the editions. And yet does anyone have trouble seeing that the Jedi is a holy warrior and Solo and the storm troopers are fighters even though theres little mechanical difference?

I would be just as happy seeing Paladin as a prestige class type of thing but if its going to be a core class why does there need to be a huge difference between them and a fighter other then flavor?
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
In 5e, I hope I get my warriors of virtue back. Mind you, if I were to start from a clean slate, I probably wouldn't have a separate paladin class. I'd start with a basic fighter and offer the paladin abilities through a series of divine boons which the character must earn. Wouldn't that be an interesting solo adventure path? :)
Yes, it would.

What about having a minimum of elements for the Core paladin and adding some feats, themes, and options as extras? I could support:

A. Auras, as in Diablo 2.
B. An Avenger style paladin who gets to roll two d20's with every attack and take the best roll. Could they balance this? Maybe not, but it was my favorite innovation in 4E and it was fun.
C. Non-melee paladins, such as a ranged paladin or the 3E FR Divine Seeker (?) that was a holy thief.
D. Other stuff I can't think of right now.
 

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