A few weeks ago, we shared a high-level overview
of the design goals for the cleric, while another of our blogs quizzed you on various possible mechanical elements a paladin might possess
. As we promised, we’ll continue to show off design targets we’ve set for other elements of the game based on your feedback and on our design. Today, let’s look at the paladin.
Paladins have a long history in D&D. For many, the image of the Paladin in Hell from the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook
remains a favorite. Anyone can see immediately from the illustration that a paladin is a warrior at home in heavy armor, and the paladin is capable of wielding a sword and shield. And by the nature of the hellish foes the paladin faces, it’s clear that not only does the paladin oppose evil, but also, in pursuit of that calling, the paladin is apparently fearless.
The design team has iterated a few times on the paladin class, but we wanted to step back and present to you our broader design goals that meet our class criteria (which is: be recognizable to D&D players, be unique from other classes, and resonate in some fashion with an archetypical story).
The following design goals are listed in importance to the character, though we feel they’re all important for shaping a paladin. 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.
1. The paladin is a champion of a divine calling.
A paladin follows a personal code that’s a reflection of the deity, and often even more significantly, a moral alignment. Though many paladins are lawful good, they don’t have to be. In fact, the particular virtues a paladin reveres can reflect nearly any moral attitude or divine calling (though such adherence means a paladin is at least lawful). A paladin’s codes traditionally point him or her toward an ascetic lifestyle, which speaks to a paladin’s selfless nature in pursuit of a calling.
Paladins who champion non-good or even evil divine callings are possible, and in some cases their goals and related specific abilities are directly antithetical to champions of good.
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.
3. A paladin is a fearless and selfless warrior.
The paladin is a warrior, nearly as skilled as a fighter and typically armed with heavy armor and a sword, and utterly without fear. When a paladin fights, it is not only to impose his or her code on the unworthy and slay threats to his or her divine calling, but also to protect allies. More so than the fighter, a paladin who champions a good deity or moral alignment is willing (and able) to sacrifice his or her own safety to ensure the safety of his or her companions. To this end, a paladin aspires to find a blessed sword of unequaled power: a holy avenger.
4. A paladin has divine abilities.
As a servant of a higher calling and deity, a paladin can call on a variety of divine abilities, including the ability to heal allies with a touch (lay on hands), turn undead, perhaps cast a limited number of divine spells, and have at least the option to call a mount. In each case, the paladin’s divine ability diverges from similar abilities a cleric might have, speaking to the paladin’s strengths. For example, when a paladin calls a mount, that mount might inspire the normal mounts of the paladin’s allies, granting them speed and endurance while they travel together. When a paladin turns undead, he or she can also turn demons, devils, and other unholy creatures. And when a paladin lays on hands, the healing might also relieve malign conditions and spent stamina.