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D&D 3E
Well, it’s that time again. A new campaign is on the horizon, though… 
10th-Jun-2005 06:06 pm
Well, it’s that time again. A new campaign is on the horizon, though currently still in beta stages. In keeping with my history of DM’ing, I’m throwing sanity (and hopefully not game balance) out the window and remodeling the rules as I see fit. This post deals with the Paladin.

Firstly, a little bit of retrospect. I’m infamous as being a Nazi-DM. The players both love it and hate it because I allow them to power game till their little hearts are content, but at the same time I’m very good at keeping them in check due to my “fuck rules” attitude. As clichéd as it may be… “I’m tough, but I’m fair”. This doesn’t mean that I run a complete hack and slash campaign. I still enforce role-playing, but allow the players to power-game it up at the same time.

Anyway… onto the proposed changes. Let me know what you think.

Paladin –
1) “Lay on Hands” is tweaked slightly and renamed “Zeal”. Instead of being a healing ability, it has turned into a resistance ability. The mechanics are the same, except that Paladins can now choose to ignore “X” damage per day instead of healing “X” damage per day.

2) Paladins now gain Damage Reduction to represent their great devotion to their mission.

3) After certain levels, any weapons held by a paladin gain the abilities “Good” and “Holy”.

4) Paladins gain the effects of the “Diehard” feat for free when fighting against anything evil. This again represents their extreme determination and drive to cleanse the evil.

5) Paladins do not chose their class, they are chosen by unknown forces. If a player starts the game as another class and wants to multi-class into a Paladin, I am not against it, however, he should be prepared to have significant changes made to his character.

6) Paladins are “insane” for lack of a better word. As stated above, they do not choose to become Paladins, their path is chosen for them. Paladins hear voices in their head. These voices will more often then not guide them to evils, give them quests, etc. This serves as a direct conduit for DM-to-Player in game hints and makes Paladins a bit more interesting to play. Paladins are understandably rare as a result of the circumstances that make one a Paladin. This is loosely based on real life historical “Paladins” (Joan of Arc, etc), and several games of “Hunter: The Reckoning” that I’ve played.

To be blunt, I felt that the current Paladin was a wimp. He had a divine mission from his god and no backbone to accomplish it… so I turned him into a holy rolling tank capable of destroying damn near any evil he comes across. I haven’t figured out what levels he gains his new abilities yet, but I’ll chuck ‘em on shortly.

Let me have some feedback on it? 0.o
10th-Jun-2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
The only weakness I've perceived in paladins so far is that they need a lot of good stats. But when they do have good stats, look out. Our party's paladin has an habit of taking out demons or devils in a single blow.
10th-Jun-2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
I like the motivation you've given the Paladin. The class doesn't seem as tired as it was anymore. With what you've described, I've pictured something like Ghost Dog, if you've ever seen that movie. Nice. I would also think that they might be self destructive at times. As such, maybe allow them at a higher level to get the barbarian's rage that would represent their psychotic quest at squelching that which they might see as evil, which might not even be evil in all reality. Just a suggestion. Good concept, though.
10th-Jun-2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
Wow...pretty cool. (*prints off a copy*)

Seriously though Paladins are, pretty much, zealots of their order. This is why I enjoyed the different Paladin looks for the other alignments presented in various publications (Dragon, Unearthed Arcana) that try and allow some flexibility with it.

Maybe you could adjust the Paladins spell list with spells his God normally grants other worshipers?

Maybe throw in one a level that the Paladin can choose from. Not a bonus domain type spell, but one he would have to choose from on the list like any other spell.

This would make two Paladins in the same party differ from each other in a small way.
11th-Jun-2005 01:48 am (UTC)
To be blunt, I felt that the current Paladin was a wimp.

Start enforcing morale checks and whatnot when facing dangerous foes. Ravenloftesque "fear" and "horror" checks, or a simplifed mechanic, would do wonders to make "immune to fear" a hell of a good thing.

As for making weapons "good" and "holy" -- just let a paladin learn Align Weapon or Sanctify Weapon (--ie, "make holy") as 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level spells.

And if you're sticking with D&D, have a Paladin be chosen by a god and supported by that God's church. Let the paladin give away all of their wealth, and get EXACTLY the same value in whatever they want by way of equipment desinged for them.

(And pick up Relics & Rituals, and allow Paladins to use the "Smite" spell, if nothing else.)
11th-Jun-2005 06:01 am (UTC)
I don't think the paladin needs tweaking at all. For hack and slash, then maybe. But that's missing the point of the paladin. The paladin you describe seems to me like they'd walk into town detecting evil on anyone/everyone.
11th-Jun-2005 01:17 pm (UTC)
I've seen paladins played like that
11th-Jun-2005 02:49 pm (UTC)
The paladin you describe seems to me like they'd walk into town detecting evil on anyone/everyone.

Why not? It's simply a ward against evil, with a duration. You may as well let the Paladin ALWAYS have detect evil up; let them see evil everywhere, and RP how they decide which evil is worth their time.
11th-Jun-2005 03:06 pm (UTC)
Why not? It's simply a ward against evil, with a duration. You may as well let the Paladin ALWAYS have detect evil up; let them see evil everywhere, and RP how they decide which evil is worth their time.

You have to be careful with that. I ran a game where a player was doing this same thing, and it made things difficult when I wanted to make it less obvious who the real bad guys were. So I just made some random farmer in town show up as evil, to throw him off a bit. That way he would use it as more of a guideline for who the party should or shouldn't trust, rather than who they needed to kill immediately.
11th-Jun-2005 03:13 pm (UTC)
It takes a standard action to activate and requires concentration, so a Paladin that constantly Detects Evil has only half a life.

11th-Jun-2005 03:24 pm (UTC)
Listening to a conversation is a free action. Even if you require the paladin to cast detect evil al'la the cleric spell (which was what I suggest you change), the paladin can sit there for 10 minutes per level, simply listening and with nothing showing that they are using any magical ability.

A 16 hour-day has (16*60*6) 5,760 standard rounds. A paladin likely takes well under 1000 standard actions a day--they have plenty to spare. (A 1st level paladin could detect evil all day with only 576 castings--and that number drops quite rapidly as they go up in level). Moreso if you let them simply "start concentrating" without a prior invocation.

And, to be blunt, I suggested simply letting them have the ability in the same way certain Outsiders do. They always detect evil, without thinking about it. Which moves the paladin from a spellcaster to a chosen champion quite nicely, and shoots a hole clear through your "half a life" argument.

Thanks for giving me a chance to expound on it, though.
11th-Jun-2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
(Maintain a "concentration" spell takes a standard action: you don't get 10 minutes per level for free: its a cap.)

Sorry I didn't think you were suggesting a rules change, just something to allow that some DM's might balk at.

11th-Jun-2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
Ah. Haven't used D&D's spell system in quite while. Not that I changed the rule for Concentration IMC, just that there are ways to persist a spell and no one of my current group is playing a spellcaster. *sigh*
11th-Jun-2005 08:29 am (UTC)
It's a great tweak, but if you want to run with the whole "the paths are chosen for them" deal, you should make it a prestige class (since you're kicking it up a notch anyway) and slap some requirements onto it.

That way not every run of the mill person can become a paladin, and 1st level paladins are impossible.

Granted, historically it's been some insanely weak people that have been chosen by whatever respective god and they may or may not have been equivalent to 1st level characters, but I stand by my prestige class judgement. :) Just make the requirements low, and have one special requirement be that the character MUST have heard the voices calling them to cleanse evil.

Which basically means you get to pick and choose who can be a Paladin in your group. :) Tought but fair, right?
11th-Jun-2005 11:06 am (UTC)
trejo is right. The only weaknesses of a Paladin is they need high stats, and you've got to take special consideration into their roleplay. A properly played Paladin can kick some serious ass in a campaign, and their ability to add their charisma modifier to their saves is severely underestimated. Giving them free damage reduction overbalances them.
11th-Jun-2005 02:13 pm (UTC)

I'm against DR replacing lay-on-hands for two other reasons as well.

1) DR belongs to the Barbarian. Why play a Barbarian if a Paladin is sudeenly better at all that taking-a-hit bullshit AND has a better AC?

2) The Laying on of Hands is a classic mythical ability possessed by Kings and Holy Men. It's an iconic power that Paladins possess, and it helps to underscore that there's more to the class than murdering anything you deem Evil. Violence, inherently, is not Lawful Good, and this is a balance that the core Paladin class understands. What you describe isn't a Paladin, it's a Crusader or a Jihadist.
11th-Jun-2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
Violence, inherently, is not Lawful Good

Yes, it is. When done to aid others and done through a system of government, violence is VERY lawful good. I can find you bible quotes if you don't believe me.

As for laying on hands--it's a great ability, but perhaps not the best one for the Galahads and Joan of Arcs of the game. It may be best to be relegated to a "holy man" prestige class. (How I do it IMC--well, the Paladin and the Priest are both PrCs.)
11th-Jun-2005 03:22 pm (UTC)
> violence is VERY lawful good. I can find you bible quotes if you
> don't believe me.

I take issue mapping the Bible onto the D+D version of Lawful Good, not because I have any problems with most of the Bible, but D+D takes place in a fascist fairyland where there's provably despicable things that need clobbering without guilt (and who have an evil paradise to look forward to), and the real world doesn't.

11th-Jun-2005 03:32 pm (UTC)
Take a look at the default D&D cosmologies, in Krynn, Faerun, and Oerth.

Good people go to a somewhat pastoral realm, complete with angels and scholarship and room for every dream of heaven in the world--that is filled with other good people, all of whom get along rather well, even the ones that highly dislike each other.

Evil people go to a place where bigger, stronger evil things boss them around, where torment is constant, and where THEY are now the victim more often than not. Evil petitioners have a wretched existence in EVERY setting, and the few that retain their identity are either altered into something else (devil or demon) or become a tortured unliving creature (undead.)

D&D's version of lawful good is based on biblical verse--even if you ignore that its designers were all christians, or that the fantasy realms where they drew their inspiration from were created by christians and jews, you come up with a game written in a nation that's been heavily shaped by a the same sense of morality that helped shape the bible.

And if you don't think that there are despicable and irredeemable things in the real world, you've lived under the benefit of guys who really should have lay on hands and detect evil. (Rabid animals, serial killers, and violent militant fanatics all come to mind as guilt-free violence targets.)

(And let's not ignore that the easiest moral question in D&D is "what do you do with an orcish baby?")
11th-Jun-2005 08:32 pm (UTC)
Just because there are similarities between The Bible and the D&D mythology doesn't mean you should use the former as a model for the latter. From the 3.5 book: " 'Good' implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others." (p. 104).

Now, I'm aware that can be interpreted in different ways, but I would take it as Good people are less prone to violent acts than neutral or evil people are. This DOES depend on the situation, and that just goes to show that violence is not inherently of any alignment.

IMO, the intention of the violence is much more worthy of consideration than The Bible is for determining whether the act is good/neutral/evil.

Quote: And if you don't think that there are despicable and irredeemable things in the real world, you've lived under the benefit of guys who really should have lay on hands and detect evil.

I think he was just pointing out the contrast between the objectivity of good and evil in D&D vs reality. In real life, there's a whole lot of grey with a smidge of black and white here and there.
11th-Jun-2005 11:44 pm (UTC)
More about turning the other cheek, charity, being without sin before casting the first stone of punishment, and the opportunity for redemption being closer to my idea of Christian morality than a Paladin of St Cuthbert Power Attacking through someone's bladder wall. However Planesdragon's alluded to the medieval knights (a more sensible brand of Christianity for Paladins to aspire to than what I'm talking about) which makes sense.

...violent militant fanatics all come to mind as guilt-free violence targets

I can see logic like that ending in tears before bedtime.
12th-Jun-2005 07:33 pm (UTC)
This could be debated forever with nothing fruitful coming from it. However, my view:

Yahweh/Jehovah (the LORD) = Lawful Neutral. Smiting. Fire and brimstone. Genocide. Making covenants. Do right or suffer.

Jesus Christ = Lawful (could be Neutral) Good. Forgiveness. Repentence. Non-violence. Self-sacrifice. The meek shall inherit.

I also think it's a mistake to suggest that the fantasy worlds from which the designers drew their inspiration were created by Christians and Jews ... The Greeks, Egyptians, Norse, Celts, Arabs, and countless other cultures that have informed the modern kitchen-sink mythos should not be discounted.
11th-Jun-2005 04:53 pm (UTC)
I think the paladin was balanced beforehand. The problem is they need to take some divine feats and have a high charisma, and then they're amazing.
11th-Jun-2005 07:07 pm (UTC)
I quite like the idea. The resistance instead of Lay on hands is where I'm less keen though; lay on hands can be used on others and shows the caring side of the paladin more, in second ed where it was self only then I'd have agreed with you.
I know that CRPGs are somewhat controversial, but have you seen the Dawn, Twilight and Midnight, Neverwinter Nights mods? The paladin in those was very tweaked in interesting ways-it was the only real PC class for those mods although multi-classing was possible. Due to lack of a mount in the game and certain other features the tweaks were still pretty even. They are probably the best series of mods for that game-definately better than the original campaign. You might find looking at the "read me" files for them interesting, as I think they detailed the changes.

Paladins are already quite stonky really, especially if you decide to specifically go for making them "hard"; you could balence changes out by getting rid of spells and the mount though-which would make them harder warriors without making other classes look quite such a poor choice compared.
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