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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The OD&D Paladin in the Tarrozian Campaign

Some of the following is 100% original and some of it is complied from many different sources which have been lost over time.  The Solomon Kane inspiration is completely my own take on Paladins.
 
IMC (current) there is only one Lawful god but many Neutral and Chaotic gods. However, many Neutral & Chaotic gods masquerade as Lawful. While all Paladins (and all Clerics) worship the same god, there are many different types of Paladins with different callings. 

Some of the things that all Paladins have in common, they are born not made. They all have this thing going on from birth that leads them down the road to Paladin hood. They all have visions from time to time. At the age of 13 they all (similar to some rites of passage into manhood in some societies) go off for a fast and vigil, where they wait for a vision to tell them the direction that their life should take. There are specific creatures that appear in their visions and each has a specific meaning.
Some of the creatures that they might see are:

ALLIGATOR, DRAGONFLY, OWL, ANT, EAGLE, PEACOCK, ARMADILLO, FALCON, PUMA, BADGER, ELK, RABBIT, BEAR, FISH, RAVEN, BEE, FOX, SKUNK, BEAVER, FROG, SNAKE, BUFFALO, HAWK, SPIDER, BUTTERFLY, HORSE, SQUIRREL, CAT, LIZARD, TURKEY, COYOTE, LYNX, TURTLE, CROW, MOOSE, WEASEL, DEER, OTTER, WOLF, DOG

Please note that I am not going to list the specific meanings I have assigned. If you do a bit of online research you can see what some of the Native American meanings were; however, some of my younger players that play from time to time are on the internet and I do not want to give too much away so I have assigned my own meanings to the animal seen and you should too
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I postulate that the whole concept of Lawful (or Lawful Good) as we modern humans conceive it out here in the RW and how deities in a multiple deity world would conceive it allows for a wide range of variation. The way a lot of people view paladins does a lot of injustice to the whole character class and results in a lot of play that does not jib very well with the goal of everyone having a lot of fun in the game. I find that the gritty version of a paladin is a lot more fun for the player and for the group.
Some people follow the test for Paladin behavior, called "WWSD?" This stands for "What Would Superman Do?"

If you can look at a morally questionable situation and you cannot imagine the Man of Steel doing what you are contemplating, then it is probably not appropriate for a Paladin. Using this test tends to clear up some of those cloudy situations.

Not a bad rule of thumb, but I think it can be a bit over the top at times. After all Superman has vowed not to kill IIRC. However what I prefer is a grittier Paladin, a bit more Batman than Superman, kind of a mashup of the two.

Solomon Kane (the Robert E Howard character and a paladin inspiration source) hates magic for instance as it is only evil in his experience and his background understanding of it. Yet he is pragmatic enough underneath the fanatic rage/sense of justice that drives him that he allies himself with and accepts the direct help of a pagan shaman that wields powerful magic in a couple of stories.
Therefore, I model my Paladins after Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane. I read all I could find many years ago, but about 10 years ago, I received a copy of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane The adventures of the Legendary Puritan Swordsman and have really enjoyed reading it again after all these years along with some new material not published before.

He was ... a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan.... A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things.... Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect - he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane.

A grim avenger armed with a fanatic's faith and a warrior's savage heart.

All his life he had roamed about the world aiding the weak and fighting oppression, he neither knew nor questioned why. That was his obsession, his driving force of life. Cruelty and tyranny to the weak sent a red blaze of fury, fierce and lasting, through his soul. When the full flame of his hatred was wakened and loosed there was no rest for him until his vengeance had been fulfilled to the uttermost. If he thought of it at all, he considered himself the fulfiller of God's judgement, a vessel of wrath to be emptied upon the souls of the unrighteous. Yet in the full sense of the word, Solomon Kane was not a Puritan, though he thought of himself as such.

Paladins IMCWs have a number of influences, and I tend to view them as a dual subclass of both the fighting man and the cleric classes.

I think I have mentioned this elsewhere, but the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon has a very good depiction of a paladin - right down to getting a warhorse at 4th level and everything! The other thing is, though, that she seems to gain some levels as a fighter before being 'chosen' to be a paladin. I only read this a few years ago.

The Pandion Knights from David Eddings’ Elenium and Tamuli series of books are a good example of a Paladin order, but they are not complete goody goody types, they are very tough practical and pragmatic.

BTW This list that follows is a starting point, if you applied all of it exactly and made the PC toe the line, then it would be extremely difficult for the player to maintain and it would tend to make them all cookie cutter characters; that is why I use these as a starting point in my mind and a guide for the players, but I allow a fair amount of leeway. For instance, I let them know if they are moving close to crossing the line, I give them a lot of feedback and as noted elsewhere, I have them read some of the books that I use as a reference and we discuss beforehand what I accept and what I think is going too far. I take this list and leaven it with toughness, pure grit, and pragmatism. In addition, as I think I noted, I give each Paladin a focus on one or at most two of these and those are the most important for that character with a bit more leeway on the other items. I have found that makes it more fun for the player and the other players. YMMV

Knightly Virtues as exemplified by the Paladin.

Faith:
A Paladin must have faith in his beliefs, for faith roots him and gives hope against the despair that human failings create. Paladins must have faith in god's love and righteousness and in the ultimate goodness of the innocent, to be loyal, true and constant to anyone with whom he is associated; to conform to both the letter and the spirit of any matter between himself and others and to be true to his word at all times. The Paladin must be true to that which he believes above all else, for with faith comes strength against every adversity and reverse. Faith is the lifeblood of Courage and Nobility; without it, life has no meaning. With faith, no force, not even death, can defeat a Paladin.

Courtesy:
Courtesy is one of the virtues of Paladin hood. Courtesy and honesty are cornerstones of the Orders of the Paladin. There are two great threats to courtesy. Those are thoughtlessness and reaction to discourtesy, real or perceived. Guard well against speech without thought. The true test of courtesy comes in attempting courtesy in the face of rude, boorish, discourteous behavior. Always remember that the discourtesy of others is an opportunity to test and proclaim your virtue by successfully showing grace under the bond of courtesy in the face of discourtesy.


Prowess:
To seek excellence in all endeavors expected of a Paladin, martial and otherwise, seeking strength to be used in the service of justice, rather than in personal aggrandizement. Prowess is an oft taken for granted or forgotten virtue when discussing the philosophy of the foundations of Paladin hood, but it must remain pre-eminent. Paladin hood is by its very nature a military order and if divorced from the honorable warrior and his code, it loses its force, its hold and its meaning. The exercise of arms is necessary to maintain the Orders of Paladin hood. Prowess at arms is one thing that your character cannot bring you, nor can you will it to be. Your character and will; however, can bring you to the persistence needed to learn the skills of arms and to be of the elite of all fighting men, a Paladin.

Nobility:
This word is sometimes confused with "entitlement" or "snobbishness" and while that is true of some "nobles" not so with Paladins. In the Paladin code, it conveys the importance of upholding ones convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching. Great stature of character can be gained by always striving towards the ideal virtues and duties of a Paladin, which ennobles the spirit, and the character grows from dust towards the heavens. Nobility has the tendency to influence others by offering a compelling example of what can be done in the service of right. While a man may be ennobled by a King, the soul can only be ennobled by living according to standards higher and purer than those of the common man. To achieve the Chivalrous Ideal is not possible, but the very striving uplifts the spirit, purifies the soul and marks the true Paladin.

Humility:
A Paladin values first the contributions of others and does not boast of his own accomplishments, leaving boasting to others. Tell the deeds of others before your own, according them the renown rightfully earned through virtuous deeds. In this way, the office of Paladin is well done and glorified, helping not only the gentle spoken of but also all who call themselves paladins. Humility is to not have inconsistent pride or arrogance, but to be modest in one's demeanor without being servile, to have a spirit that acknowledges the truth, whether is it in one's favor or against one. The Paladin that looks upon his life without evasion, or self-deception and exercises the virtue of Truth will surely be humbled by the vast gulf that lies between the Chivalrous Ideal and the reality of what is. Thus chastened, the Paladin will surely avoid the error of pride.

Excellence:
The Paladin strives always to do and be his best, no matter what the area of endeavor. They do so not for pride's sake, but rather to infuse even the most mundane task with nobility and thus uplift them. Excellence is its own reward; however, it is the path of self-respect and the respect of others.

Charity:
Sharing what is valuable in this life means much more than the giving away or the sharing of materials goods such as, food, shelter and clothing; true generosity means also the giving away or sharing of our time, our focused attention, wisdom and energy. These things are those that help to build and create a strong and rich community of the heart and spirit. A Paladin will seek to aid those in need, giving succor and assistance to such as may be in need of it, giving as his means permit, and without ostentation or display. True charity includes things such as, a word of encouragement which can mean more than gold, and a friendly ear more than gems and jewels. The spirit of Charity may cause a Paladin to forgive a wrong done himself, if the act is truly repented. Charity will help a Paladin to avoid the twin errors of gluttony and greed. Charity, this generosity of spirit also paves the path of mercy and makes that path easier to tread with a difficult decision of justice is required.

Loyalty:
A Paladin is known for the unwavering commitment to the innocent and to the ideals that he chooses to live by. There are many places that compromise is expected; however, loyalty is not amongst them. Loyalty is the brother and sister of Honor. When once a Paladin has made a commitment, let him never waiver or withdraw; however, realizing that a Paladin does not compromise his loyalty, let commitments not be made lightly or rashly, but only after deep contemplation and prayer.

Courage:
Courage is neither bravado nor bluster; the Paladin must have the courage, the fortitude of heart necessary to undertake tasks, which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, dangerous and deadly, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Being a paladin often means choosing the more difficult path, the personally expensive one, be prepared to make personal sacrifices in the service of the precepts you believe and the innocents that you value. At the same time, the paladin should seek wisdom for stupidity is the sinister cousin of courage and the paladin must be able to correctly discern between the two. Courage means taking the side of truth in all matters, rather than seeking the expedience of the lie. Seek the truth at all times, but remember to temper justice with mercy or the pure truth can bring grief. The Paladin is charged with the duty of fighting for the right and for good, and is thus destined to face many opponents. The battles may be of the body and the dangers faced by the Paladin my usually be physical, but courage is as greatly in demand and even more important with the subtle opponent of the mind or the spirit. Whatever the circumstances the Paladin must always, face the enemy with valor.

Truth:
Truth is the foundation of virtue. To be truthful is to be genuine, free, and constant in keeping promises and being loyal to friends, ones liege and especially to ones God. To be truthful is to be honest and conforming to law, justice and to live truly and to govern one’s life according to the truth. One who seeks out the truth within himself will surely develop other virtues, such as justice, courage, strength, and humility. Without truth, there is no light, but rather the spiritual darkness of self-delusion and self-deception, which must surely lead to other vices. Seek truth as sincerely as possible, not for any reason of personal gain, but because it is right. Do not restrict your exploration to a small world, but seek to infuse every aspect of your life with truth and all of the qualities of a Paladin. Should you succeed in even a tiny measure, then you will be well remembered for your quality and your virtue.

Honor:
To be truly honorable is to have a true sense of what is right, just and true and to have a true sense of what is wrong, unjust and false. To be truly honorable is to abhor those things that are vile and mean-spirited and to venerate that which is good, lawful and true. The standard against which we measure ourselves, and are measured by others. It is a treasure which if kept grows in value, but once squandered can never be regained. The Paladin’s word must be more certain and sure than any written contract. Moreover, let every Paladin consider carefully before making any Oath, and never do so lightly or without due reflection; but rather let him strive to fulfill every Oath undertaken or stand forever bereft of honor.

Justice:
A Paladin holds himself or herself to the highest standards of behavior, and knows that the little things are just as important as the big things. Seek always the path of "right,” unfettered by personal bias or self-interest. Remember always that the sword of justice can be a terrible thing, so it must be tempered with mercy. It is the Paladin’s duty to protect the innocent from harm and to punish the guilty. Fulfillment of this duty often requires physical combat; but battles fought differently are no less important. In all areas of life, the Paladin must strive so far as possible to fight injustice and help the right prevail. A Paladin must seek out the path of "right" without giving in to the temptation of expediency, then you will earn renown and honor beyond measure. Justice acts in conformance with what is right and renders unto all their due. Justice is equitable, upright, impartial, and fair and always conforms to the principles of justice in dealing with others. A Paladin knows how to make the hard choices.

Truth:
Truth is the foundation of virtue. To be truthful is to be genuine, free, and constant in keeping promises and being loyal to friends, ones liege and especially to ones God. To be truthful is to be honest and conforming to law, justice and to live truly and to govern one’s life according to the truth. One who seeks out the truth within himself will surely develop other virtues, such as justice, courage, strength, and humility. Without truth, there is no light, but rather the spiritual darkness of self-delusion and self-deception, which must surely lead to other vices. Seek truth as sincerely as possible, not for any reason of personal gain, but because it is right. Do not restrict your exploration to a small world, but seek to infuse every aspect of your life with truth and all of the qualities of a Paladin. Should you succeed in even a tiny measure, then you will be well remembered for your quality and your virtue.

Honor:
To be truly honorable is to have a true sense of what is right, just and true and to have a true sense of what is wrong, unjust and false. To be truly honorable is to abhor those things that are vile and mean-spirited and to venerate that which is good, lawful and true. The standard against which we measure ourselves, and are measured by others. It is a treasure which if kept grows in value, but once squandered can never be regained. The Paladin’s word must be more certain and sure than any written contract. In addition, let every Paladin consider carefully before making any Oath, and never do so lightly or without due reflection; but rather let him strive to fulfill every Oath undertaken or stand forever bereft of honor.

Justice:
A Paladin holds himself or herself to the highest standards of behavior, and knows that the little things are just as important as the big things. Seek always the path of "right,” unfettered by personal bias or self-interest. Remember always that the sword of justice can be a terrible thing, so it must be tempered with mercy. It is the Paladin’s duty to protect the innocent from harm and to punish the guilty. Fulfillment of this duty often requires physical combat; but battles fought differently are no less important. In all areas of life, the Paladin must strive so far as possible to fight injustice and help the right prevail. A Paladin must seek out the path of "right" without giving in to the temptation of expediency, then you will earn renown and honor beyond measure. Justice acts in conformance with what is right and renders unto all their due. Justice is equitable, upright, impartial, and fair and always conforms to the principles of justice in dealing with others. A Paladin knows how to make the hard choices.

Additional ones that I have not yet expanded on, but perhaps should be considered: Chivalry, Chastity, Compassion, Determination, Diligence, Endurance, Forgiveness, Good Cheer, Helpfulness, Honesty, Hope, Kindness, Patience, Perseverance, Piety, Prudence, Sincerity, Temperance, Wisdom, Valor. I think most of these are included in my detailed list under one item or another or some like Chastity or Temperance, I would not want to bind on Paladins IMC anyway. Although of course, you are free to do so if you want to.

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