Scax, the player of Rori and new to the table, rolled an 18 for charisma last night for his new character. Naturally, the question came up of his playing a paladin.
I'm not sure whether or not I like paladins. Sure, the concept is fun - he's a questing Holy Knight, like Percival or Galahad or the Templars or the Hospitallers. But if we're honest, isn't that niche pretty well covered by the Cleric if you want godly powers, or the Fighter with appropriate background tweaks?
Still, with the exception of the monk (whom I find egregious) and the assassin (annoying), I'm not going to curtail my players' options. If they want a paladin, they can have a paladin. Really, I can't blame them; the role has a certain irreducible flavor.
According to S&W Complete, "Paladins will not work with characters other than those of Lawful alignment unless ordered to do so by a superior officer of the Paladin’s order, by a Lawful prince, or by the high priest of a Lawful temple." I disagree.
First, such a restriction means one of two things in play: either it is a restriction on the rest of the players, and not the paladin, or the paladin will never be played. That's not fun. Second, it's not really how I see a godly crusader behaving.
So for my game, instead, Paladins have to have some specific goal which reflect why they're going adventuring. This can be pretty much anything that passes the sniff test, and is dependent on the creativity of the player. Some examples might include, "End the influence of the Cult of the Red Hand," "Pacify the Dagoland Marshes," "Root out and destroy the heresy of Pelasgos that is gripping temples in the hinterland," "Convert all the orcs from the worship of Tectonicus their heathen god," or whatever. Specificity is important, not only because it needs to be a restriction and a direction, but because it seems a great way to flesh out the world further. (Suddenly there's a Dagoland Marshes, or a heresy in the church, or a cult, or a general religion of orcs.)
A Paladin will not do anything that doesn't obviously and pretty directly further his goal. You want to go spelunking in those caverns you found last week? That's great. How exactly does that relate to erecting a shrine to Isel and teaching all the pagans in this land to worship Him? Well, that's what I'll be doing while you lot are off futzing around. For this reason, I recommend having a back-up character to play whenever the party wants to do something that doesn't align with the Paladin's goals.
Paladins do not, however, have any restrictions of association based on the class. If consorting with Chaotic people truly will further the goal of converting all of the elves to the Munificent Blood, then consorting with Chaotic people is what you will do.
If a paladin ever accomplishes his task, he chooses another. (Or, alternatively, he's retired, because frankly at that point you've come as close as possible to 'winning' D&D.)
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