Nonbeliever Paladin

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I am playing a Dragonborn paladin in an upcoming game. Bear with me.


The clan this Dragonborn is part of is totally dedicated to Bahamut, and (nearly) all members of it serve him- whether it be through paladinship, clerichood, or just missionaryness. It's a self-contained gigantic familial church, essentially. In return for great deeds of loyal servitude in the past, Bahamut grants many of the clan's members with the aforementioned holy powers- whether they like it (they do) or not.

As any D&D-ophyte worth his salt knows (I mean, who DOESN'T read each and every cultural thing released on every race? :p), Dragonborn parents separate after their eggs have hatched. In this Dragonborn's case, he was taken and raised by his father (of the Bahamut-ophile clan) while his twin sister was taken in by his mother. Long story short, through intermittent contact with his sister, he has grown to resent and resist the inborn holy Paladin powers he has been "blessed" with- indeed, he considers them a curse, railroading his destiny and life.


For those of you who just skipped the last two rambling fluff paragraphs (you know who you are ;))- here's the sit: I've got a Dragonborn pally who does not, in fact, want to BE a pally, but the powers and social status are inborn- this is going to lead to fighting against not his inner demons, but his inner, what, angels?

~~~

Now, for the point of this post and for those whose patience is that of a grapefruit, who skipped the last fluff-ish paragraph as well and know full well that their time is best spent by skipping to the last one-word sentence of a post and answering that (you know who you are, too ;)):
[INDENT]What would not actually wanting to serve your god (but your god wanting you to serve him) bring about mechanically (and fluff-ily!) ingame, especially being that there's not really explicit stuffs about losing powers and atonement and whatnot in 4e?[/INDENT]

Ideas, comments, and grapefruit condoned.
I'd allow it but I dont really see how he'd gain the God given powers of a diety he doesn't believe in.
I'd allow it but I dont really see how he'd gain the God given powers of a deity he doesn't believe in.

Or why he'd ever want to use them.

Going on adventures as a paladin and acting like a paladin is not going to help him not be a paladin. Inborn powers or not, its his own choice whether to use them - Bahamut isn't going to drag him around like a marionette ("Lay on Hands, Punch! *whack whack whack* Har Har Har!). He could open Dragonbitz Spell Component Emporium and just not use his inborn powers. Voila, not a paladin.

Ok, sure Big B could manipulate events to keep reminding him about his "innate paladinhood", throwing him moral dilemmas where if he doesn't LoH some poor widdle innocent child dies, but that shouldn't be happening every day. Big B could even throw some "protect X and Y from certain doom" combat scenarios to force him to use his combat powers... but that sort of railroading stinks like fish left on the dock for a week.

Of course, if he's just unsure as to whether his life path includes paladin, then the crisis of faith approach could make for some heady roleplaying.
I have to ask what your long term goals for the character are?

Do you plan to allow the character to come to terms with his status as a paladin? If so, this all makes for a great character with a good deal of story potential. As a DM I would allow you to do this. An angst filled Dragonborn sounds like an interesting character.

Do you plan to allow the character to become something else? As you said we don't have rules for that atm so you're stepping into obvious house rule territory.

Here is an official answer though. Mechanically the paladin's powers would remain even if the paladin choose to no longer serve his deity.

I quote the PHB, page 91, left column, top:

Paladins are not granted their powers directly by their deity, but instead through various rites performed when they first become paladins.

Or in your case, at birth or early childhood.

Furthermore...

Once initiated, the paladin is a paladin forevermore. How justly, honorably, or compassionately the paladin wields those powers from that day forward is up to him, and paladins who stray too far from the tenets of their faith are punished by other members of the faithful.

Meaning, your character's powers will NOT be affected by his lack of faith or desire to not be a paladin. He will have them until the day he dies whether he likes it or not.
I really like this idea...
Maybe he's headed out into the world to find out what he regards as his 'true calling' but Bahamut kind of subtly guides him to the group you're adventuring with. They ask him "Well, where're you from?" etc. before letting him in, and find out that he has these pally abilities, so he's kinda peer-pressured into it...
First,

Bhode- Ooooh, thanks a bunch. I missed that... that totally clears things up mechanically.

Mead- Yeah, making his motivations completely against even the fact of being a pally I guess would kinda either force the DM or Bahamut to take a day-to-day role in keeping him around, huh?... and that's never good in a character. I guess, like Bhode said, a long-term-goal is pretty essential. It would keep him engaged- forcing him to use the powers.

So, long-term-goal-wise, not wanting to be a paladin of Bahamut, but of some other god (Sehanine, I was thinking. The "Follow your goals and seek your own destiny" seems like it would ring well... though following the god of "trickery and illusions" seems somewhat out of place for a Dragonborn ).
Of course, this would lead to the issue of "why can't he just drop out of the Bahamut-clan-church?". So more specifically, maybe trying find how to break his oath-bond to Bahamut he inherited from his clan. Bahy would not approve, but could use the whole thing to his own ends...

What do you think, and thanks for the feedback!
Once again, I think that makes for great story potential. I would allow you, the player, to decide how you wanted to go about breaking your oath. I would help out a bit too by maybe throwing in a ritual of some sort which would allow you to do so. This ritual would not be easy by any means or it might be easy but it has to be performed at a certain location at a certain time. That leads to more adventure. On top of that I would consider your clan and how they would handle your character's change of heart.

"...and paladins who stray too far from the tenets of their faith are punished by other members of the faithful."

This comes to mind. Obviously your character's clan is going to get involved and I would engage that angle of the story in varying degrees. A single emissary, perhaps an old friend, who says, "You are confused, we understand. Come home and we will help you sort things out." Later a cadre of paladins appear who maintain some kind of authority. They 'advise' you of the error of your ways but express their willingness to forgive if you go with them. Later a small group of Dragonborn from the clan attempt to capture you for forceful reconditioning. It could escalate from there as well but I don't know everything about the clan you created so I don't know how far they would go. Death? Banishment? Mournful acceptance? Maybe they brand the character but then continue to allow him to coexist but bearing a mark of shame forevermore.

I would do a lot with this as a DM. Like I said, there is a lot of story potential in your character. That is the best kind of character imho.
Afaik, a pally has to uphold a faith or ideal to gain his/her divine powers.
So refusing to uphold said faith/ideal would result in basicly the warrior npc class from 3.5.
I like this. Kind of the Anti-warlock.

If I where you, I would definitely take Student of the Sword, and take as many fighter feats as possible, as he tries to escape his destiny.
Afaik, a pally has to uphold a faith or ideal to gain his/her divine powers.
So refusing to uphold said faith/ideal would result in basicly the warrior npc class from 3.5.

Yes, to 'gain' the powers the paladin had to uphold a faith or ideal. Once those powers are gained though they cannot be lost no matter what the paladin does. Read the reference I used above which comes straight from the PHB. This is one of those areas where Paladins differ from 3.5 to 4E. A 4E paladin does not lose their powers if they stray from the path. They only need to have been on the path in the first place to get them in the beginning. A 3.5 paladin would lose their powers and become something else.
No rules for what happens if paladin swerves off the beaten track. it stresses, in fact, that no matter what you do, you retain your powers. You could have a CE paladin formerly serving Bahamut, still with powers.

Cadderly was a skeptic, at least at first, and he retained his powers in the R A Salvatore series. Only mid way through did he embrace his beliefs in Deneir completely.

Starting out as inducted, and then going through a "crisis of faith" would work well in 4th ed (better then before when in 3rd/3.5 one step off the path lost you all powers, and in 3rd loss was permanent)
You should do Avandra then, she is about personal freedom change and luck. Which cold also fit nicely with you dragonborn's personality.
Great- thank you all for your suggestions.

I'm really looking forward to playing this guy. Torn characters are fun- the choice of "his own fate"/"giving in to his church, clan, and tendencies of his race" sounds interesting- especially if the clan does decide to retain him.

Reading her over, I think I like Avandra for his wanna-be-patron god more stylistically.
Yeah, I think you'll have more fun with that than the original plan. Heck, I may hork the concept one day

Always nice to find new things to do with changes to the Old Way. In prior editions running a "fallen" paladin right from the start would have been pretty rough, and more than a little bleak for the long run.
glad to be of assistance, enjoy. Post a test report of fun stuff huh?
For another type of unbelieving Paladin, consider looking into Sanya from The Dresden Files. He's one of three Knights of the Sword, the equivalent to a Paladin in Dresden's world, he even claims to have recieved his sword from the Archangel Michael- but he's agnostic. Still a nonbeliever, although he doesn't have the same "fighting against destiny" feel this character seems to be headed towards
I like it, it makes for fun RP.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

I played something like this in a Ravenloft game; the guy was a Paladin of the forgotten/golem-worshiped mystery god of Lamordia, having gotten said status from an accident involving a storm and a flesh golem who really wanted children, to the point of deluding herself into thinking he was 'hers'.

I play off most of his spells and powers as accidents or explainable shows of grit; he keeps a basic moral code that's consistent with his alignment, but the DM gave me permission to use minimal or coincidental looking effects to describe the powers. The character had some time training with a more formal paladin, but still retained his skepticism...I guess you'd call him an agnostic, more than anything, or maybe a deist.

It's been a lot of fun so far! I was worried the shtick would be too much of a crutch, but the party has been fairly graceful about running with it, so I don't have to emphasize things too much, which keeps it from getting stale. I think the most fun part is how the DM has ran with giving me Joan of Arc-style 'visions' of certain things; we're using 3.5, so whenever I do, say, Detect Evil, I get an intense glimpse at a hypothetical action the target could take and I'm left to decide for myself, and if I look into the spiritual part of an area, I can see things like vortexes of evil or old sins and regrets hanging around other people's heads. The party, ICly, isn't sure if my guy is insane, possessed, or a really good actor half the time.
Yes, to 'gain' the powers the paladin had to uphold a faith or ideal. Once those powers are gained though they cannot be lost no matter what the paladin does. Read the reference I used above which comes straight from the PHB. This is one of those areas where Paladins differ from 3.5 to 4E. A 4E paladin does not lose their powers if they stray from the path. They only need to have been on the path in the first place to get them in the beginning. A 3.5 paladin would lose their powers and become something else.

Afaik, if I were a DM i'd rule that a paladin has to uphold the values of his god or ideal or lose access to those powers. Why? Because it makes sense.

Otherwise it'd be like having a LG pally only to receive his powers and then turn CE. Killing in the name of his "good" god. (hm... reminds me of the crusades...)
1. Like Bhode said. Paladin source of power and all that.

2. I fail to understand why your heretic . . . er, paladin would want to worship any other deity than Bahamut. Is it just because he wants to be DIFFERENT? If he wanted to be DIFFERENT, why doesn't he just become a starlock? Or . . . a PALADIN OF CTHULU?!
Afaik, if I were a DM i'd rule that a paladin has to uphold the values of his god or ideal or lose access to those powers. Why? Because it makes sense

Fourth edition's policy is to divorce character development from the game mechanics. A paladin fills the combat role of divine defender. What she does outside of combat is up to her; it isn't predetermined or restricted by her choice of class.

Alignment isn't a detectable essence, and the gods are distant and remote. You cannot even commune with them for advice ("your call has been redirected to mystic sages"). Clerics can be hypocrits, and paladins can stray from the straight and narrow without needing to recreate the character as a blackguard to stay effective.
I'm glad I found this thread as I recently rolled a paladin with the plan that he was having a similar "Crisis of Faith", but more in line with he's experienced some form of emotional crisis that has resulted in him believing his god has somewhat abandoned him and he can't find the path, rather than he's strayed.

You've given me great Idea's and loads to consider for how my character develops Please keep us informed as to how things pan out, I'm definately interested.
Newpaintbrush- To answer your question (though a 'PALADIN OF CTHULU' is... interesting :p), and to flesh out the backstory ->

Vice flinched at the sight. He had read his sister's all-too-rare letters (over and over again, usually with the weak flickering light of a candle in one the cathedral's many attics, spires, and alcoves- many hours of sleep had been lost to avoiding the Eye of Alarms and sentries scattered throughout the ancient structure. It was worth the risk for a chance to read the forbidden correspondence in privacy), with their descriptions of what was wrought by the hands of the Meritocracy... but they had been just words then, exciting tales of the vanquishing of evildoers.

Now, he saw what she meant when she wrote of the families, the villages who were the target of Symmachy, the cleansing attack of the Meritocracy against those it deemed worthy of total destruction. The people who lived- who used to live here ("No one survives the Meritocracy Symmachy!" was the phrase that whispered through the land, usually in hushed tones with nervous glances towards the door) did not look like the sympathizers, the rebels, the cultists who the great Priest-Drake had promised had been annihilated, with his inner fire and vehemence which never failed to incite his kin with the vicious, noble bloodlust that they were so honored (his sister called it "despised") for. He had spoken with such a certainty that Vice felt, remembering it, guilty for even considering that what had taken place here was not the epitome of Good, a battlefield of the valiant, stalwart fight to provide this world with a bastion of defense against those who would defile honor, corrupt justice, exploit the weak, and oppress the innocent.

The Priest-Drake's words weighing heavily on him, Vice started to feel he should be among the dead for such sacrilegious thoughts- there would be confessions for this later, and heavy penance (though, to his eternal, guilty shame, he never mentioned his contact with his sister during his confessions- he could never bring himself to sever that tie, no matter what eternal torment the Priest-Drake promised for those among the faithful who faltered in his daily sermon... not that he had not come close on several occasions- some of the tortures sounded beyond terrible. Vice still occasionally bolted up in the middle of the night with an unearthly cold in the back of his throat, and the feeling that someone was watching). With his brood-mates around him whooping and roaring in pride, Vice turned back towards the line of men, women, and children impaled on the signature ornate lances of the Meritocracy.
Alignment isn't a detectable essence, and the gods are distant and remote. You cannot even commune with them for advice ("your call has been redirected to mystic sages"). Clerics can be hypocrits, and paladins can stray from the straight and narrow without needing to recreate the character as a blackguard to stay effective.

Distant and remote?
Lets hear you preaching that after a god sends a proxy to stop you.
They al have their realms that can be visited. Gods can travel anywhere they want, anywhere but Sigil.
The multiverse is based on belief, falling from your belief would automatically remove your belief-granted abilities.

Maybe if (s)he'd start to worship a different god (s)he'd get his powers back.
Personally, I love the concept. I think from a player point of view it is a relatively easy thing:

I don't follow Bahamut
I don't go do heroic things, because that is what Bahamut expects of me.
I don't use my powers, because they are a curse laid on me by Bahamut.

Now, the REAL fun comes in on what a GM can do with this:

Bahamut throws obsticals in your way, not to punish you but to make you realize why he has blessed you with his powers.
Bahamut makes certain that you are in "The right place at the right time" and leaves it up to you if you do "The right thing"
Possibley, but not likely, Bahamut would visit you in visions to try and bring you back into his grace.

I would love to have a character like this in my game.
My comments.

The beauty of a movie is that while I may not know the story from the audience, the actors and producers did when they made it.

The trouble you *could* run into, and I do like your backstory, is that unless your DM is creating the campaign around your character, or you are allowing the DM to influence your character's life and beliefs as you progress, with your acceptance on the choices *they* make, you could really come to issues.

If you and the DM sit down, lay out the background, then have a chat on life moving forward, and make some ground rules, this will be ok.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Ooh, the tortured paladin, how fun! I currently am playing the "confused" paladin...my character was raised as a slave child, and only heard about her god through enslaved countrymen, although she was heavily influenced by her tiefling slavers and their gods. When she became older, she met a paladin of her people (kinda like the Hebrew folk) and together they fled from the evil land of the tiefling slavers. After a dispute, they parted ways, and even though she is a paladin of her people's god, she kinda "makes up" her faith, the stories of her people mixed in with the heavy influence of the tiefling religions of her oppressors (hey, many of the Jews looked to Egyptians for diety etc.). She's well, making up her religion as she goes, even "handcrafting" what she imaged a holy implement of her people are. However, there are darker ties to her as the tiefling influences have a very heavy hold on her life.

For the Dragonborn pally who hates the faith he is "fated" to serve, I see a lot of ways this can go and especially love the concept of redemption. For Vice, I can see his early levels dispising the use of some of his powers, like lay on hands etc. and curses each time he "accidentally" uses the power or is forced to use the power to save his comrades. "Bahamut he cursed, damn him to force me to save my swordmates!" For the more radiant powers, I can see Vice "unconsciously" emitting bright glowing powers as he smites his foes with a Radiant Smite or Paladin's Judgment (while the other party members look in awe, he doesn't realize what's coming out of him...claiming that the party was deluded).

Eventually though, I can see Vice and Bahamut coming into reconciliation... someway, somehow. Either through dreams, or another paladin, or an older ddragonborn whispering how Bahamut has abandoned them etc., or something someone (perhaps saving a baby dragon who has a message for Vice from the Father etc.), Vice learns that the folk of his clan are quite misguided and in a sense, a disgrace to the ideals of Bahamut. Imagine when the Paladins of Bahamut come after Vice to vanquish someone so misguided....only to face the wrath flowing through Vice, or something something.

Regardless, I think it'll be a fun character to play...and heck, sounds like your DM is allowing you to create much of the mythology of your religion anyway.

Fox
Distant and remote?
Lets hear you preaching that after a god sends a proxy to stop you.

Whether it's church inquisitors or angelic servants after you, that's a roleplaying issue, not game mechanics.
Or why he'd ever want to use them.
Ok, sure Big B could manipulate events to keep reminding him about his "innate paladinhood", throwing him moral dilemmas where if he doesn't LoH some poor widdle innocent child dies, but that shouldn't be happening every day. Big B could even throw some "protect X and Y from certain doom" combat scenarios to force him to use his combat powers... but that sort of railroading stinks like fish left on the dock for a week.

That and Big B shouldn't give a damn about a level 1 paladin.
Ooh, the tortured paladin, how fun! I currently am playing the "confused" paladin...my character was raised as a slave child, and only heard about her god through enslaved countrymen, although she was heavily influenced by her tiefling slavers and their gods. When she became older, she met a paladin of her people (kinda like the Hebrew folk) and together they fled from the evil land of the tiefling slavers. After a dispute, they parted ways, and even though she is a paladin of her people's god, she kinda "makes up" her faith, the stories of her people mixed in with the heavy influence of the tiefling religions of her oppressors (hey, many of the Jews looked to Egyptians for diety etc.). She's well, making up her religion as she goes, even "handcrafting" what she imaged a holy implement of her people are. However, there are darker ties to her as the tiefling influences have a very heavy hold on her life.

Consider also the development of Louisiana Voodoo among African slaves in the Americas. Officially required to convert to Christianity, they disguised their tribal Loas they worshiped by using the names of Christian saints.
Newpaintbrush- To answer your question (though a 'PALADIN OF CTHULU' is... interesting :p), and to flesh out the backstory ->

Vice flinched at the sight. He had read his sister's all-too-rare letters (over and over again, usually with the weak flickering light of a candle in one the cathedral's many attics, spires, and alcoves- many hours of sleep had been lost to avoiding the Eye of Alarms and sentries scattered throughout the ancient structure. It was worth the risk for a chance to read the forbidden correspondence in privacy), with their descriptions of what was wrought by the hands of the Meritocracy... but they had been just words then, exciting tales of the vanquishing of evildoers.

Now, he saw what she meant when she wrote of the families, the villages who were the target of Symmachy, the cleansing attack of the Meritocracy against those it deemed worthy of total destruction. The people who lived- who used to live here ("No one survives the Meritocracy Symmachy!" was the phrase that whispered through the land, usually in hushed tones with nervous glances towards the door) did not look like the sympathizers, the rebels, the cultists who the great Priest-Drake had promised had been annihilated, with his inner fire and vehemence which never failed to incite his kin with the vicious, noble bloodlust that they were so honored (his sister called it "despised") for. He had spoken with such a certainty that Vice felt, remembering it, guilty for even considering that what had taken place here was not the epitome of Good, a battlefield of the valiant, stalwart fight to provide this world with a bastion of defense against those who would defile honor, corrupt justice, exploit the weak, and oppress the innocent.

The Priest-Drake's words weighing heavily on him, Vice started to feel he should be among the dead for such sacrilegious thoughts- there would be confessions for this later, and heavy penance (though, to his eternal, guilty shame, he never mentioned his contact with his sister during his confessions- he could never bring himself to sever that tie, no matter what eternal torment the Priest-Drake promised for those among the faithful who faltered in his daily sermon... not that he had not come close on several occasions- some of the tortures sounded beyond terrible. Vice still occasionally bolted up in the middle of the night with an unearthly cold in the back of his throat, and the feeling that someone was watching). With his brood-mates around him whooping and roaring in pride, Vice turned back towards the line of men, women, and children impaled on the signature ornate lances of the Meritocracy.

nice story, but doesn't that sound a little too evil for LG Bahamut followers?
=> but that's something for a new idea, starting from that story of yours above:
- Vice seeks for some other truths, but doesn't find anything
- he actually rediscovers the real basic virtues of LG Bahamut, and finds that Bahamut does not want what the Meritocracy does!
- so his new mission: rebuild Bahamut's faith to what it once was and should be.

which means he's the true lawful good rebel in a not-so-good-anymore-but-imagining-so society...

AKW
The flavor text and the mechanic are different things. The flavor text says that the Gods don't directly grant the Paladin his powers, but that is just flavor text... at most tables it is up to the DM to define your setting.

I really wish 4th Edition had a short little version devoid of flavor text. The problem there is copyright law... but that's another story.