On Reader Mail, Paladins

Chris writes:

"[Y]ou mentioned that you happen to love the Paladin class, and this being the first and only Paladin I've ever played with or as, I was wondering what, specifically, you loved about the paladin class, and if you have every played with or DMed for paladins that were perhaps changed up a bit from the way the rules portray them (such as how you've come up with ways to spruce up fighters, wizards, and clerics)."

Thanks for the question!

So, the root of this is that I am a terrible player. TERRIBLE. I am quickly bored, unconcerned what other people think about me, and love being the center of attention.

Clearly we can understand why I like running games, and not playing them.

Why do I like paladins?

Because good is dumb.

Seriously. What a great opportunity. I find that in addition to being able to make constant poor decisions based on absolute morality, I get to sit in judgement of everything the party says.

That said, although I am a poor player to be in a game, I always strive to not be disruptive to play, nor to intentionally frustrate the other players. Batman doesn't complain about Superman being a fascist, but then Superman isn't really ever a dick about it.

(Some notes: 1. Superman is dumb. This is a guy who gets into fistfights because he forgets he can fly and shoot lazers from his eyes. 2. Superman is a fascist, because he Superman is a radical authoritarian nationalist, it just so happens he's an american. Is he radical? He's an invulnerable alien from space that lives in the sun and punches people who don't believe in the American way. THAT SOUNDS TOTALLY RADICAL.)

Not every paladin is the same either, some are drunk, some are quiet, some are noble, but all are absolute and all are dumb. Why?

Because black and white thinking is a characteristic of unintelligent people.

Nothing, anywhere, has meaning. It's all just physical and chemical reactions. Meaning is applied by people. Because each individual has their own subjective experience of existence, it is impossible for any single event perceived by more than one person to be black or white, because every perception of that event is colored by the subjective experience of those watching it. There are shades of grey everywhere.

But righteous anger and a certainty of correctness are of great comfort. To shed that and draw clear lines is quite fun. And it leads to entertaining play!

It does not however lead to a long and quiet retirement.

As far as change-ups go, the fact that the paladin should be heavily modeled after whatever god he or she worships provides the only change I've ever used. The bevy of powers paladins have always received are just right for the type of person they are. So I always work with the Dungeon Master in advance about what type of Paladin this is going to be and go from there!

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  1. Note that paladins don't *have* to be dumb. There are several ways to play a paladin that aren't judgmental simpletons. Heck, depending on the god, you could play a paladin as Batman.

    One of my favorite paladins is Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files series. He is lawful good. He dedicates his life to fighting evil. He serves God unwaveringly, and the Church almost as faithfully. He chastises the much more morally flexible Harry Dresden on a regular basis. But, he is not a tyrant, and he is not stupid. (Of course, this series also contains the agnostic paladin, so maybe Butcher is just special.)

  2. Re: Superman:
    No. What? No. No.
    That is all.
    Signed, a practicing anarcho-syndicalist.


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