D&D General The Problem With Paladin's Medieval Origins (+)


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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Have you not noticed that, like, half of American government buildings are modelled on Greek and Roman architecture?
And? I never said anything about architecture. I was specifically discussing Greek heroes and how the original stories are so far removed from our modern culture that I don't think it's an issue. Additionally, part of the stories of Greek heroes is that they are flawed characters. They're much less absolute-good paragons than the typical depiction of paladins. I just think that they fit the niche well.
 
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Hussar

Legend
The D&D The Plane call Olympian Glades of Arborea, its the Chaotic Good Plane with 3 layers. Top layer is the most diverse, with both Mount Olympus and the Seldarine, along the homes of other Gods, most not human Gods. And the Hall of the Senates.

2nd Layer is a big ocean some say with islands on top, home to a bunch of Aquatic Gods, Oceanus Dragons and other cool stuff.

3rd Layer is a giant desert filled with Mysterious Ruins, some suggestions of connections with the Mulhorandi and Untherite Gods.



Ok. I did get the reference.

But what is an Arborea kind of oath? You mean a CG oath?
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Is the holy warrior who resolutely fights the unbeliever a workable component of those imagined standards? Is it part of our romanticism? I'm prepared to accept that this is something where different people respond in different ways. To me, at least, @Levistus's_Leviathan (in the OP and the recent follow-up post) seems to be responding to more than just that idea. It's the particular context of the holy warrior who resolutely fights the unbeliever, and all the real-world baggage that is part of that context, that (as I read it) is prompting the concerns those posts set out.
@Levistus's_Leviathan's concerns are quite valid, IMO. Paladins, as originally described, both in the text and in the artwork, borrow heavily from sources that are, to put it mildly, icky.
Yeah. Thinking back on it, I don't think my problem is entirely with the Paladin. It's a combination of factors from early D&D. The European Christian knight that embodies goodness killing savage, tribal subhuman monsters made up of racist tropes about indigenous peoples (human sacrificing, cannibalistic, evil gods, etc). The "nits make lice" and blood atonement statements by Gygax. The paladin is part of the problem, but not the whole of it. It's how all of the bad tropes from early D&D come together to form, I'm not sure what to call it. A colonialist power fantasy? European fantasies about wanting to explore uncharted lands with ruins filled with treasures.

It reminds me about this video about how minecraft accidentally encourages in-game human trafficking. The unintentional confluence of different tropes and mechanics to create an icky whole.

And I acknowledge that the paladin has changed a lot. And that it's also not unique to D&D. There is a lot of fantasy (a lot of it inspired by D&D, or the same sources D&D was inspired by) that has bad stuff like this.

I'm curious about how the 2024 PHB will change things further. WotC is using sensitivity readers on all their books now. I wonder if this topic has been discussed there.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Yeah. Thinking back on it, I don't think my problem is entirely with the Paladin. It's a combination of factors from early D&D. The European Christian knight that embodies goodness killing savage, tribal subhuman monsters made up of racist tropes about indigenous peoples (human sacrificing, cannibalistic, evil gods, etc). The "nits make lice" and blood atonement statements by Gygax. The paladin is part of the problem, but not the whole of it. It's how all of the bad tropes from early D&D come together to form, I'm not sure what to call it. A colonialist power fantasy? European fantasies about wanting to explore uncharted lands with ruins filled with treasures.

It reminds me about this video about how minecraft accidentally encourages in-game human trafficking. The unintentional confluence of different tropes and mechanics to create an icky whole.

And I acknowledge that the paladin has changed a lot. And that it's also not unique to D&D. There is a lot of fantasy (a lot of it inspired by D&D, or the same sources D&D was inspired by) that has bad stuff like this.

I'm curious about how the 2024 PHB will change things further. WotC is using sensitivity readers on all their books now. I wonder if this topic has been discussed there.
I honestly don't think your problem (which I absolutely respect as a real issue for you) is fixable without changing what D&D (and fantasy as a genre) is largely inspired by, which would change what D&D is in what I feel would be a very real way.

You may very well get your wish someday, but the resulting game would not be D&D to me, no matter what it says on the cover.
 
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Hussar

Legend
.

I'm curious about how the 2024 PHB will change things further. WotC is using sensitivity readers on all their books now. I wonder if this topic has been discussed there.

Im not really sure how much further they can go as far as paladins are concerned. They’ve ejected all the art years ago. The Oaths don’t really have much to do with Christian crusaders anymore. Alignment is largely gone.

Combine that with a much more inclusive approach to various races and it appears anyway, a step back from colonialism in the adventures and I think we’ve come a long way.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Yeah. Thinking back on it, I don't think my problem is entirely with the Paladin. It's a combination of factors from early D&D. The European Christian knight that embodies goodness killing savage, tribal subhuman monsters made up of racist tropes about indigenous peoples (human sacrificing, cannibalistic, evil gods, etc). The "nits make lice" and blood atonement statements by Gygax. The paladin is part of the problem, but not the whole of it. It's how all of the bad tropes from early D&D come together to form, I'm not sure what to call it. A colonialist power fantasy? European fantasies about wanting to explore uncharted lands with ruins filled with treasures.

It reminds me about this video about how minecraft accidentally encourages in-game human trafficking. The unintentional confluence of different tropes and mechanics to create an icky whole.

And I acknowledge that the paladin has changed a lot. And that it's also not unique to D&D. There is a lot of fantasy (a lot of it inspired by D&D, or the same sources D&D was inspired by) that has bad stuff like this.

I'm curious about how the 2024 PHB will change things further. WotC is using sensitivity readers on all their books now. I wonder if this topic has been discussed there.

Honestly, I think they are making good progress by simply cutting back the always evil tribal people, and presenting a more nuanced front.

And yeah, there was (back in the day) CLEARLY a colonialist power fantasy at work, combined with this sort of warring states ideal of being the warlord who reunites the region. Because wargaming. But we are much more interested these days in heroics, and again... people might not LIKE it, but "Orcs" have moved so far from the original depictions that the majority of people in fantasy wouldn't really take a "these tribal people are all evil" narrative seriously. Heck, I recently saw a joke post where they stated that in a specific fantasy world, Orcs love War so much, they specifically send diplomats to human nations to convince them that the orcs are evil, so the humans will keep having a war with them. It is silly, and not meant to be taken seriously anymore.

Meanwhile, I could name DOZENS of fantasy properties that very much address and grapple with the idea of always evil monsters.

And once you have a more nuanced view of evil... then the crusader archetype who slays evil must naturally gain nuance as well.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I honestly don't think your problem (which I absolutely respect as a real issue for you) is not fixable without changing what D&D (and fantasy as a genre) is largely inspired by, which would change what D&D is in what I feel would be a very real way.

You may very well get your wish someday, but the resulting game would not be D&D to me, no matter what it says on the cover.

Then I will toast the death of DnD as I celebrate the crowning of DnD.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
@Levistus's_Leviathan I wanted to draw a couple character portraits to show you how I have envisioned a few paladins I've played/made, but I haven't had the combo of time/energy needed. I hope to do it later this week. Meanwhile, I got reminded of the Lightsworns from the Yugioh card game. In the game lore they are essentially paladins and while a few look like classic plate and sword knights, they all are visually distinct and have differing levels of armor as well as different weapons/implements.

Here is a list of them, you can click on each individually and see them: List of "Lightsworn" cards
 

Voidrunner's Codex

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