What does a paladin do (or should be doing)?

Yora

Legend
Paladins are controversial enough with their whole always lawful good gpoing on, but that aside, I think there's a bigger problem with them.

Why do we have such a class in the first place?

Any way you want to do a paladin, you need to answer that question first. The question whether or not to have paladins at all is probably moot, as D&D had paladins in the PHB for over 20 years, and so there will be paladins in this one as well.
This leave the question, what a paladin actually is and how the class is different from a fighter/cleric multiclass character. I don't have any answer to that.
Anyone can have a horse and a cleric can buff his horse. But since most combat does not take place on horseback, a special mount is not actually special. Very fluffy, but unlikely to come up in play. Lay on Hands is nice, but why not cast cure spells instead? More powerful cure spells and more per day! Detect evil at will isn't that great, especially when the announcements are followed through and such magic does not actually detect the mundan evil in normal mortal people. Smite Evil? Depends on how you handle it, but in 3rd Edition clerics have all kinds of very similar spells that are much more impressive.

Why is a paladin different from a fighter/cleric that has vowed to follow the paladin code of conduct?
Sure, paladins have fluff written into the class, but that fluff also fits a fighter/cleric just as well.
 

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Greg K

Legend
Fighter/Clerics are still priests (i.e, religious leaders representing their deity, performing their ceremonies, etc.). They just have training as a warrior
Paladins are not priests, but are warriors so devout to their faith in their deity and upholding its teachings that they get certain supernatural abilities.
 
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trancejeremy

Adventurer
Read 3 Hearts and 3 Lions by Poul Anderson

Read Bulfinch's Legends of Charlemagne, or Romance of the Middle Ages (Being German you should know of Charlemagne, surely)

That's why D&D has Paladins.
 
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BobTheNob

First Post
Read 3 Hearts and 3 Lions by Poul Anderson

Read Bulfinch's Legends of Charlemagne, or Romance of the Middle Ages

That's why D&D has Paladins.

No-one is unaware of this. Its been pointed out so many times. We know there is a historical reference.

Its the game space question he is asking, not the historical reference. We bring the historical reference into the game and create the paladin. Then we put him side by side with the cleric and realize "you know in fluff terms there is a difference, but really, in game design terms, there is very little".

The relevance of the paladin is an ongoing debate. WOTC have spoken that they will have the paladin as a class in 5e so thats the working state, and Im happy to accept their judgement in this case.

But the historical reference, at best, suggests fluff. This is a game space question, not a fluff question.
 

MarkB

Legend
Ideally, paladins should bring something to the table that neither fighters nor clerics have - and you're right, special mounts aren't it.

One way I tend to distinguish paladins from clerics mentally - and this may not be how others see them - is that, whilst a cleric chooses his god, the god chooses his paladins. A paladin isn't merely someone who has faith in a deity, they're somebody that deity has singled out to be its instrument in the mortal world.

I'd like to see that come through in how paladins are characterised, and in their game-mechanics - they're chosen by the gods, and tend to be guided by them more directly than other divine classes. A paladin should be able to call upon that connection for guidance, for strength and spiritual support, for valour and glory in combat.

Something like 4e's Avenger might be a good inspiration for that aspect - by directing his wrath at an individual who offends against his faith he becomes supernaturally effective against that target.
 

Kinak

First Post
Why do we have such a class in the first place?
So WotC doesn't have to deal with the giant ragestorm from removing paladins.

Why is a paladin different from a fighter/cleric that has vowed to follow the paladin code of conduct?
The paladin really needs its own mechanical identity distinct from the cleric class. Whether that comes from auras or vows or holy swords or smiting (the original martial daily), the class should be rebuilt from the ground up to be about that, rather than being the fighter with some cleric spells and powers that mimic cleric spells.

The consensus among people who like paladins seems to be they're about Good rather than gods. So give them powers based on channeling raw "good" rather than spells.

If you give a unified mechanic to smite, lay on hands, and turn undead... you're most of the way to a class already. It could be as simple as being able to channel good X/day, with those being the forms.

Cheers!
Kinak
 


BobTheNob

First Post
The problem here is I don't think we should be separating the fluff out. Fluff matters immensely - not least because it can inform the design decisions!

Absolutely. But the question is not one of throwing the fluff aside, the question is (with tweaks) can the cleric satisfy the fluff? Is another class required to implement the fluff?

Some would say yes, some would say no. The important thing is to understand the question.
 

Abstruse

Legend
The problem here is I don't think we should be separating the fluff out. Fluff matters immensely - not least because it can inform the design decisions!
A line has to be drawn somewhere between the fluff and the mechanics. That's what the debate over rangers/paladins is about.

What defines a paladin? The idea of a paladin is the holy knight in shining armor, bringing his/her god's will to the world through both spell and sword. That's awesome. But why does it need to be a class? Is there enough variation in the different styles of paladin to warrant the different themes that could be applied? Is there such a thing as a slayer paladin? A necromancer paladin? If you add the thief theme onto a paladin, is that still a paladin? Or an archery theme? Apply that same logic to other classes, like ranger or assassin.

I'm going to shift gears here and talk about the assassin instead of the paladin. Why? Because honestly, I don't care about paladins one way or the other. Assassins, however, have always been one of my favorite classes and I've lamented that they're so rarely executed well mechanically.

There's a lot of variation in the different styles of assassin. The question becomes, though, does it need a distinct class to show that variation or can it be done without a class? In this case, no. Apply the thief theme to the fighter and you have a brutish thug. He uses deception and stealth to his advantage, but has no problems going toe-to-toe with someone. Sure, he'll hide and poison and sneak and all that, but he doesn't have to. He's a fighter with several tricks up his sleeve.

Put the slayer theme on the rogue class and you have a very subtle but important shift. Suddenly, this assassin's armor isn't as tough and his hit points aren't as high. He can't take punishment nearly as much. So he strikes from ambush to do maximum damage and fades back. He looks for weaknesses and constantly fights dirty. He wants that sneak attack damage badly because if he doesn't drop the enemy first, he's going to get hurt in return.

Try the magic user theme on the rogue. Now we've got someone with a few mystical tricks, secret weapons and ancient techniques that take the most advantage of every situation. Immobilize a foe so he can't move, then rush in for a sneak attack. Hide in the shadows using illusions and subtle magics. Ladies and gentlemen, that sounds like a ninja to me.

So here's the question in play. We know we can recreate a paladin in Next using the themes and classes we've been given. Many people (myself included) have been calling the Moradin cleric a "paladin". So how much variation can you have within the idea of what is and isn't a paladin without losing that feel of being a "paladin"? If there's not enough wiggle room, there's no amount of justification you can give me for paladin to be a class. Same with assassin, same with ranger, same with samurai, same with monk, same with bard, same with every other "niche" class that has ever appeared in the game.
 

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