Paladin Design Goals (with Bruce Cordell)

This week, Bruce takes on the task of providing you with the paladin design goals. Come see what’s in the works for this class.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Seems...inconsistent.  The last part of section 1 seems to conflict with the heading of section 2.


Overall, though....almost.  What I'm looking for is the ability for a Paladin of Tiamat to be equally valid as a Paladin of Bahamut.  And if they should ever meet....oh what excellent fun shall be wrought.  Things seem a little too constrained regarding alignment.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Gah ... alignment restrictions and mechanics are back.  I see my first houserules forming already ...
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Gah ... alignment restrictions and mechanics are back.  I see my first houserules forming already ...



The paladin class itself was screaming alignment in all editions before 4th. Alignment-related stuff was the only real difference between a paladin and a fighter-cleric.
4th edition made the difference reside in the "defender" mechanic of the paladin, but unless they find something similar then I guess alignment is what is left.
My hope for DDN is slowly waning...

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Seems...inconsistent.  The last part of section 1 seems to conflict with the heading of section 2.


Overall, though....almost.  What I'm looking for is the ability for a Paladin of Tiamat to be equally valid as a Paladin of Bahamut.  And if they should ever meet....oh what excellent fun shall be wrought.  Things seem a little too constrained regarding alignment.



Gah ... alignment restrictions and mechanics are back.  I see my first houserules forming already ...




Ignore the alignment part.  Given earlier articles and posts any alignment based mechanic should be easily fixed or already be fixed to not be alignment based.  I actually hope it is just a smite _____ fill in the ______ with something that works for the character.  Even if it isn't like that I will probably do that anyways.
If there's no restriction on behaviour, be it moral or a code, what's the point of playing a paladin. Having to make hard choices, refusing to comprimise, acting as moral compass, and being handled by the party IS playing a paladin. That's the definitive paladin experience. I'm glad to see it return.

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Gah ... alignment restrictions and mechanics are back.  I see my first houserules forming already ...



The paladin class itself was screaming alignment in all editions before 4th. Alignment-related stuff was the only real difference between a paladin and a fighter-cleric.
4th edition made the difference reside in the "defender" mechanic of the paladin, but unless they find something similar then I guess alignment is what is left.
My hope for DDN is slowly waning...




This article places the same exact importance on alignment that 4e D&D did.
Having to make hard choices, refusing to comprimise, acting as moral compass, and being handled by the party.


Please explain how this is fundamental and inherent to all paladins in all settings in all games in all situations, and why non-paladins can't face the same situations.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Gah ... alignment restrictions and mechanics are back.  I see my first houserules forming already ...



2. A paladin can see and smite evil.


A paladin knows when something supernaturally adverse to the deity or calling he or she champions is nearby. For instance, although a good paladin cannot unerringly zero in on a specific threat merely by walking past a structure infested with evil, the paladin knows something is wrong. Regardless of a given creature’s actual nature, a paladin can judge it unworthy and smite it with divine power that energizes his or her sword blow.

I'm against alignment restrictions and mechanics, but I'm not convinced that they're really used here. I interpret this as saying that a Paladin can sense evil, to satisfy the alignment folk, but that it is completely inconsequential to whether or not the object of the Paladin's attack is going to be smote or not.

Or this could be seen as a work around to bind the Paladin to alignment without stating it outright, by making him most effective against evil monsters (Demons and Undead and such). I'm not sure what I think about that idea yet, but I don't think there's anything explicit with alignment here.
I don't think there's anything explicit with alignment here.



"such adherence means a paladin is at least lawful" seems pretty explicit with alignment here.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
1. The paladin is a champion of a divine calling.

LX alignments makes sense to me.  That Paladins are not just LG seems like a progressive step.  LE Paladins, imo, are much cooler than anti-paladins.  LN Paladins, not sure how they are gonna hand out the smitage.

2. A paladin can see and smite evil.

Sounds like more of a roleplaying Detect Evil than battlemat Detect Evil. 

"A paladin knows when something supernaturally adverse to the deity or calling he or she champions is nearby." is the Smite rule, that they use Smite Evil in the title is just for recognition. 

3. A paladin is a fearless and selfless warrior.

Sticky Holy Avengers? 

This sound good to me.  I am guessing it will have some Defender schtick that can you can focus on with a Theme or have while you Theme in a different direction.

4. A paladin has divine abilities.


This is the take away for me, "divine ablitities" is the last goal.  Lawful Divine alignment, Detect and Smite supernaturally-adverse-to-your-deity-or-calling, Fearless (read brick) and Selfless (read defender), and thennn all the other stuff.
"a paladin is at least lawful" troubles me.  While there's an interesting argument to be made about unwavering devotion to chaos making you lawful and not chaotic, that's not the sort of thing I want to be decided for me in the statblock.

If there is a "Requirement" line in a class, then you're doing it wrong.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
"such adherence means a paladin is at least lawful" seems pretty explicit with alignment here.


...
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Damn.
Also yeah normally I try to avoid this but, and this is to everyone that read my posts in the paladin vs cleric thread, I told you so.
Having to make hard choices, refusing to comprimise, acting as moral compass, and being handled by the party.


Please explain how this is fundamental and inherent to all paladins in all settings in all games in all situations, and why non-paladins can't face the same situations.


There is nothing that is fundamental and inherent to all settings and in all games. Period. Even attack rolls fall to the wayside in some games. That's the point of 5e: give something for everyone and every style while going back to the basics.

The idea of a duty-bound paladin is consistant with earlier portrayals from 1st edition to 3rd, and was something many found missing in 4th. It was and is a defining feature of the paladin. Lawful Good and good-only paladins have become commonplace outside of D&D; it's become archetypal as a game element and bit of world design. 
Can non-paladins face the same situations? Absolutely. But there's less at stake, no consequences of drifting evil when convenient or expeditious. The fighter doesn't lose some skill with a sword because they took the easy way out. 

The paladin is the class for people who want that type of play experience, who enjoy the additional moral element. The paladin is the eponymous shining knight and beacon of good, and it loses something ineffable when you can play a Chaotic Good or Neutral paladin. 

The rules should support this, and there should be related mechanics and restrictions. For those uninterested, they can ignore those rules. That's super-easy. But those who enjoy that sort of play, that sort of class, shouldn't be forced to make their own house rules for fallen paladins.

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 

Why should one group not be forced to make their own houserules but the other group is?  What makes your position the one that is "normal" and the other one that is "different"?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So I, as a paladin of the god of chaos, must be lawful. Yep...got it.
"such adherence means a paladin is at least lawful" seems pretty explicit with alignment here.


...
...
...

Damn.



Exactly.  Major step backwards.

On the upside, no mention of power-screw if you make a mistake, so at least we got that as a consolation prize.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
So I, as a paladin of the god of chaos, must be lawful. Yep...got it.

Yeah!  If you were yourself chaotic, you wouldn't have ever become a Paladin.  So you can be a paladin to any aligned diety and not just the Lawful ones, cool.

On the upside, no mention of power-screw if you make a mistake, so at least we got that as a consolation prize.

"As you’ll notice, I’ve slipped a few hints of mechanical design in with the broader design goals, which serve more as examples than as anything we’ve definitely fixed on."  They are still working on the power-screw.

Power screw... someone should invent that.  A self screwing screw.



"a paladin is at least lawful" troubles me.  While there's an interesting argument to be made about unwavering devotion to chaos making you lawful and not chaotic, that's not the sort of thing I want to be decided for me in the statblock.

If there is a "Requirement" line in a class, then you're doing it wrong.



Yep.  My view of a Paladin of a chaotic God is that the God chose the Paladin to be a Paladin because the Paladin's nature already mirrored the chaotic nature of the God, not because the Paladin decided to lawfully follow chaos.  I will absolutely not be following this poor in my opinion, alignment restriction.
Why should one group not be forced to make their own houserules but the other group is?  What makes your position the one that is "normal" and the other one that is "different"?


There will ALWAYS be some groups forced to make house rules and changes. That's an inevitability that 5e seems to have accepted and embraced (partly through rules modules).
However, with that in mind, it is always, always easier to ignore an included rule than create an absent rule at the table. 

I want professional game designers to make the game so I can choose what elements I want at my table and, preferably, pick from a list of balanced, tested options. If I - who is not a prefessional game designer - has to design, create, and write a rule, then the rule set is failing me. (Why pay for a game I need to re-write myself?)

So, when in doubt, opt for the inclusion of a rule, either as a core assumption or as a secondary optional rule.

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Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 

So I, as a paladin of the god of chaos, must be lawful. Yep...got it.

Yeah!  If you were yourself chaotic, you wouldn't have ever become a Paladin.



This is 100% false.  If I have a PC whose CE nature mirrors exactly the nature of the CE God he follows, then it follows that the God could and would reward such a PC with Paladinhood.  That PC would not be lawfully being CE.  He would be CE to begin with and that he does the God's will by virtue of his nature.


Snerk.

If they have power-screw, I might just have to do what I did in 3e and ban the whole freakin' class.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Why should one group not be forced to make their own houserules but the other group is?  What makes your position the one that is "normal" and the other one that is "different"?


Because its a lot easier to just say "No Alignment play the class without it, and you detect and smite enemies of your deity(which I actually think it said that you do in the article)" than it is to make entirely new rules for falling? Don't know if that's a "right" answer, but it is an answer.
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Overall I don't see the problem with the paladin being lawful. It made it sound to me like they made that part fairly optional but were doing an aside so that people like me who enjoy the alignments being applied to certain classes (mainly those like the paladin, though I think a Chaotic monk should always be an option.) could know that they thought of us.

 
Snerk.

If they have power-screw, I might just have to do what I did in 3e and ban the whole freakin' class.



Meh.  It's a cool class and I will just do what I did in 3e and change it to fit what Paladins should actually be.

If they have 'the paladin follows a code' as one of their design goals, then it seems reasonable that such character is, at least, lawful. Imagine the paladin of a malign deity. Even if code of this deity is to spread chaos and evil, it is still the loyalty to this code that drives the paladinhood. The restriction makes sense and it doesn't implies that mechanical alignment rules will take a big impact here.


I don't like aligned mechanical stuff too, but I see the Lawful Paladin of the article as a concept: the paladin follows some kind of rule, so he is some kind of lawful character.






Paladins have codes of conduct.

Even if your code is to spread chaos discord and suffering whenever given the chance you are following a code.

That makes you lawful.  It is actually harder to not be lawful when that is your code.  Mainly because whatever you choose to do falls within your code.

It really isn't that hard of a concept to understand.

I personally say they can go neutral but I can play that at the low end of lawful.  I'd much rather a non chaotic requirement than a Lawful requirement.

Also Paladins are not chosen.  Paladins choose to be Paladins.  They swear oaths to be a Paladin.   They actively know they are a Paladin and have sworn to be one.
Why should one group not be forced to make their own houserules but the other group is?  What makes your position the one that is "normal" and the other one that is "different"?


You do know that they're developing a *game*, right? And that games have *rules*, right? And that *rules* by their very nature define, restrict, and steer what can and cannot be done in a game, right? Rules need to exist, and therefore *someone* who doesn't like them is going to have to houserule it.

"Oh, no, they're placing a restriction on a class!" Yes, yes they are. Just like that lame restriction that says fighters don't get spells or wizards can't wear plate armor. Stupid designers, not letting us do whatever we want!
It helps if you actually address a point rather than just make snarky comments.  But in case there was a shred of a worthwhile comment somewhere in there,


Rules should not cover roleplaying.  There, I said it.  Alignment is roleplaying.  We don't need rules for roleplaying, we should not have rules for roleplaying, we should not be considering rules for roleplaying.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition

Two things. 

First, I think part of the problems that has arisen in the past with paladins is the lack of explicit codes of conduct.


 It's always tricky when what the DM views as Lawful Good behaviour and what the player views as Lawful Good behaviour come into conflict. And not all LG paladins might follow the same code. 
As such, there should be several sample paladin codes, examples of expected behaviour and tenants. Descriptions of gods should include some reference to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.  


This is also a great way of injecting flavour into the class. How does a LN paladin of pure order behave opposed to one of LG or LE? What are the restrictions placed on a LE paladin, if any? Can paladins lie? Can they ally with evil if it's to defeat a greater evil?


 


Second, another issue has always been the penalty for infraction. There's only been the one penalty: loss of paladin-hood. This is pretty damn harsh, reducing a 1-2e pally to a fighter, and a 3e pally to an NPC warrior. And the method of restoration has never been easy, especially in a world or campaign with few NPC clerics or at low levels.


Instead, there needs to be a unique penalty for violating a paladin's code. And maybe a couple penalties. A small slap-on-the-wrist penalty for stupid or impulsive mistakes and a greater loss for evil acts. These should be built into the paladin class as a sub-section or sidebar. The paladin should not become unplayable and there should be several examples of story-based ways to restore one's paladin-hood in addition to a couple strict mechanical options. Make it less of a mechanical slap and more of a built-in story hook (with optional mechanical slappage).

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If they have 'the paladin follows a code' as one of their design goals, then it seems reasonable that such character is, at least, lawful. Imagine the paladin of a malign deity. Even if code of this deity is to spread chaos and evil, it is still the loyalty to this code that drives the paladinhood. The restriction makes sense and it doesn't implies that mechanical alignment rules will take a big impact here.




If your actions match that code not because you have to follow it and go out of your way to enact it, but because it is your nature to do it, then you are not lawful (unless the code is also lawful), but rather the alignment of your diety.


Rules should not cover roleplaying.  There, I said it.  Alignment is roleplaying.  We don't need rules for roleplaying, we should not have rules for roleplaying, we should not be considering rules for roleplaying.


Every indy game I have every played or read would disagree. ;)

And while we may not need lengthy, comprehensive rules some advice and guidelines would be nice.

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 



Even if your code is to spread chaos discord and suffering whenever given the chance you are following a code.



Not if it is your nature to spread chaos, discord and suffering whenever you have the chance.  If it's your nature to do those things, then you are not FOLLOWING the code, you are simply acting out your chaotic alignment in a way that you God approves of and rewards with Paladinhood.

It really isn't that hard of a concept to understand.



No it isn't. 



Even if your code is to spread chaos discord and suffering whenever given the chance you are following a code.



Not if it is your nature to spread chaos, discord and suffering whenever you have the chance.  If it's your nature to do those things, then you are not FOLLOWING the code, you are simply acting out your chaotic alignment in a way that you God approves of and rewards with Paladinhood.

It really isn't that hard of a concept to understand.



No it isn't. 





Paladinhood is a choice not a reward.  A god can totally reward you with powers, but that doesn't make you a paladin or even a cleric.  A Paladin actively chooses to be the warior of a god.  He actively chooses to be the champion of the god and adhere to the strictures.  At some point no matter what a Paladin makes an active choice to be a Paladin.  From that point on the paladin is adhering to the tenets.  Even if it is what he would naturally do.  Being anutrally good at being lawful for this specific code doesn't make you any less lawful it just makes you good at it.

So I wonder what the mechanical dfference will be between "Class:  Paladin" and "Class:  Fighter / Theme: Divine Chosen / Background:  Raised at a Demon Hunter Academy."

I mean, the second one sounds like you'd get a paladin that flips a finger at the alignment system.  If  Paladin, the class, means "you get a mount and a cool sword, but have to be lawful" and I can replicate a paladin like I want to play out of a fighter with a cool sword and some divine theme....

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Why should one group not be forced to make their own houserules but the other group is?  What makes your position the one that is "normal" and the other one that is "different"?



From a game design standpoint, I'd think houseruling to give more player options is favorable to houseruling to restrict the players.  If the paladin has requirements from the beginning, and maybe a sidebar to help the DM modify the class to be a non-restricted champion of any deity, then when the DM says "Hey guys, I'm all for Paladins of the Harvest God if you'd like, or you can play a more old-school paladin too", players gain an additional class option.  If the game is designed so that the class is completely open, and has a sidebar option explaining how DMs can restrict access to the class (uh oh!), when the DM tells a player "Hey man, I like LG paladins, and that's how they are in my world - your Paladin of the Harvest God can be a fighter/cleric", they players now feel as though options are being removed.

So, looking it at as unbiased as I can (I prefer LG paladins), I'd think baseline LG paladin is best because I think it's better to provide more for players than take away. 


Paladinhood is a choice not a reward.  A god can totally reward you with powers, but that doesn't make you a paladin or even a cleric.



I disagree.   It can be a reward for service.  Service does not have to be a lawful action, not if those services are a part of the nature of the one doing them.

A Paladin actively chooses to be the warior of a god.



Great!  So the CE PC whose alignments and actions innately mirror the God's code asks to be a Paladin.  He chooses it, but he does not have to be lawful.

He actively chooses to be the champion of the god and adhere to the strictures.



He actively chooses to be the champion of the God and his innate behavior mirrors those strictures, so no actual ACTIVE adherence is ever necessary.

From that point on the paladin is adhering to the tenets.  Even if it is what he would naturally do.



Which does not make him lawful.  Lawful is part of the nature of a PC.  If it is the Paladin's nature to be chaotic, he is not lawful simply because his chaotic nature mirrors the tenets.



It helps if you actually address a point rather than just make snarky comments.


You're right. I'm sorry. I'm just so frustrated with this whole "OMG! They're placing restrictions on us!" line of argument. I took it out on you.

Rules should not cover roleplaying.  There, I said it.  Alignment is roleplaying.  We don't need rules for roleplaying, we should not have rules for roleplaying, we should not be considering rules for roleplaying.


Not trying to be snarky here, but in all seriousness: Then why are you playing a role-playing game? Put together a group improv friends and go to town with a Theatre of the Mind style storytelling session if you want to play free of restrictions. Wear costumes if you like.

D&D is not free association time. D&D is a game. Games have rules. Rules govern play. Roleplaying is a part of D&D, so it only makes sense that the rules will somehow affect the roleplaying as a part of play.

Heck, the very fact that rules define roles means that rules affect roleplaying. You choose to be a paladin? The rules have just affected your roleplaying. That's the point. When I choose to be a fighter, I choose to play within the rules that govern fighters. I don't rail against the designers because they won't let me call myself a fighter but stand in back and cast fireball every round.

Further, in all the older editions of the game, alignment was *not* just a roleplaying restriction. That's something that people have forgotten. Alignment meant something to the game. It was a reflection of cosmic forces that impacted the game world and that could affect die rolls. There were weapons you couldn't use if you weren't aligned right, or creatures you could damage better if you were.

Like it or not, alignment's a part of the rich history of D&D. Paladins as a class were concieved as a class built around an alignment system. They work best within it. I for one am happy to see it return.


There are two beliefs of people in regards to how a Paladin is Born. It seems that some believe a Paladin to be a knight or fighter trained with respect for a divine being and taught to follow the tenants of said god or goddess and learns how to channel that divine sources power for the purpose of defeating the enemies and promoting the power of that god/dess. The second option is that a fighter with such a close calling, such a close natural following to the god/dess is blessed and given the powers of a Paladin so long as they remain somewhat true to the tenants of said divine being.

The find, personally, the second option less appealing. Suddenly you wake up with knowledge of all this power and how to wield it, and how to put it to use, you know nothing of religion but somehow you know what is and isn't the calling of the being that decided "y'know - that guy, he gets the smitey juice". I personally prefer the trained method, as it seems to make a lot more sense.

That said, in my opinion, any alignment can have a dedicated holy warrior, but I don't always think these holy warriors are Paladins. Paladins uphold codes, and their strength comes from their devotions to their god/dess and their code - and that feels non-chaotic to me (though not necessarily lawful).

Alignment, you are a classic - but sadly so many people hate you for they don't understand you, how you function, how you work, and how you are not the be-all end-all to your character's actions, think of them more as...guidelines. 
Let's focus on LG v CG aligned deities being server by Paladins.  The Paladins are still heroic and generally the kind of Paladins most will play.  Sure there might be LN Paladins now, but the majority of Paladins won't be LE.

Wow, I am an eediot.  I just checked the 4e PH for CG deities, lol.  Going back to 3.5 PH you got Corellon and Kord.  Personally, I am okay with a Paldin of Correlon and Kord being LG.

It does get a little trickier when you start talking about LN Paldins of Olidammara, the CN god of thieves.  

I am fine with the NX dieties having LX Paldins.  That's not too far a stretch for me.

And when it comes to Evil deities... personally, the Chaos always seems to take a backseat to the Evil.  Raping and Pillaging isn't Chaos, it's Evil.