Heart of the Paladin

During Dungeon and Dragons games, my party often asks me if how I’m playing my character is really acting in accordance with how a “paladin” should act. Well, I guess that’s a good question. After all, Ari is a bit unconventional, as far as paladins go. I play her as more of a rather zealous, loose cannon than I probably should, considering her class. And yet, I still maintain that her heart is in the right place and that her actions are just and noble, though perhaps sometimes questionable.

For example, at one point last night, the prison guard pulled a lever which began making all of the prison cells collapse on their helpless occupants. And then, he would have rather died than tell us how to stop the mass murder. So, what does Ari do? (this is a dramatization)

Ari: *sword pointed at prison guard’s head* Either tell us what we want to know, or face unimaginable pain.”

Guard: “Do your worst! These prisoners are going to die!”

Ari: *sigh* “Then I have no other choice. Here is a taste of pain.” *places her hand on the guard’s head and uses paladin judgment to make pain course through his body* “Now are you ready to talk?”

Right. Acting a like a paladin through-and-through. You think you’re going to cause innocents harm, evil-doer!? Not on my watch! The prisons were collapsing, and getting the information out of him was critical. After all, when evil comes knocking, paladins are supposed to answer the door with the fiery blade of justice. Everyone knows that.

Though according to the DM, my goddess is going to have words with me over this after the dungeon is over. But really, what was Ari supposed to do? Let the prisoners be crushed to death? Isn’t the pain of one (clearly evil) man nothing compared to all of the negative marks that would have shown up on her record if she had let the prisoners die?

Another thing that my party is a bit concerned about is the fact that Ari tends to charge forward (rather blindly) in order to mete out justice and see innocents safely home. Ok. Yes, I see why this is a bad thing to do in a dungeon swarming with cultists. There are guards and traps around every corner and, as we saw last time, the DM could have a major room set up with 20 NPC ready to kill us, and it probably isn’t the best idea to be the first person there with the rest of your party ten rounds behind you down the hall.

On the other hand, in character, Ari would believe that time was of the essence. If her party wants to stay behind and loot an armory while there are good people suffering further down in the dungeon, well, that’s their problem. Ari would probably leave them to their loot-blinded devices and head on in the pursuit of good and justice. Plus, even though she usually doesn’t get along with her party, it’s not like she doesn’t like them. And she did offer that they didn’t even need to follow her down into the Temple to begin with. She would probably rather see that no harm came to them and instead take all the pain and hardship onto herself.

And I mean, come on: No one can even say that Ari charges straight ahead into danger because she wants the loot all for herself. As a paladin, she finds it against her principles to loot the bodies of the dead for personal gain. Ari has 12 gold pieces on her person at the moment. Compare that with everyone else in the party, who have thousands. Yes, I think she’s pretty selfless.

Selfless, and yes, maybe a bit foolish. But she clearly doesn’t like to see the good guys get hurt. If that means plunging on at the expense of her own safety for the sake of those she cares about, so be it.

(and I completely expect someone to fire back about this. go on, all you paladin-haters out there! do your worst!)

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10 Responses to Heart of the Paladin

  1. Damon Cinaglia says:

    Thanks for a very interesting post. I’ve played many characters over the years, but my favorites have always been paladins or knights. I think you are right on with your approach to gameplay, and I would have supported your decision to “torture” the jailer in order to get the information needed to save lives. I use “torture” in quotes because I’m not even convinced you did that. You didn’t cause him permanent damage or disfiguration, only pain (frankly, I’m not even sure in that specific situation permanent damage wouldn’t have been justified!). And I think we’re ignoring the obvious: if the ability was un-paladinlike, then a paladin wouldn’t have the option of using said ability. In conclusion, I’ll just say that typcially I’ve found those who misunderstand paladins have never actually played one. A paladin lives by a different code than another other person who is not lawful good will rarely understand. Keep up the good work, Ari!

  2. Kevin says:

    Im glad i found someone who is actually enjoys playing a paladin in D&D i thought i was alone in that field.

    Be well.

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  4. Ryan M. says:

    Yeah I have some of the same problems when I play my bard. My group thinks just because I am a bard that I should lead the group, but I never imagined him as a group leader. I instead imagined him as a playful fellow (Also I’m an art and music major.=P)
    Some of my party member insist that I play him wrong and I should be more straight forward while playing my bard, but I didn’t create his persona to be a diplomat. Rather then charming people with my 20 charisma, I direct the conversations I’m a part of and manipulate from the back round.

    To put it bluntly: I’m playing a soloist character in a group setting, and yet my group wants me to be a team player 100% of the time even though its not part of my bard personality. He only seeks information that either concerns or interests him (Which is 85% of the time anyways.)

    Anyways I feel your pain with your paladin. It’s just a flaw, if you will, that your group will have to live with. I mean that’s what a party is for right? To cover your weaknesses and make the overall adventure more successful.

    Hope it helps on insight
    -Taracom Proudsong

  5. Destroy1 says:

    I’ve been a player of dnd and or role playing game for about 15 years, in which i was most of time dm for the last 10 years.

    Basically your character is exactly what a paladin should be. Most people soften paladin in order to go well with the group, your dm sorry is a moron or you pray a no so good god if he wants to punish you over torture. Heck look in forgotten realm, lance dragon and so much more book that are the heart of dnd, like lord of the ring, good take some pretty crappy decision too in order to save the biggest number. The real question would be more, what not move you foward, but also what make you slow down.

    On the torture you did perfect. The running while looting is good but not so great, a paladin even if he see the urge to press on, could easily wait for his friend, because if he dies, they won’t get any help at all. Also even if innocent are important, the paladin have the right as a living thing to like his friend better. So the worry you stated about your friend could prevail. What i say is that you could worry about your friend and wait for them as it would be one day quite possible that they get into a trap while looting. Even more if you know their greed.

    Hope this will help you with your game and makes you feel better.

  6. David Piper says:

    One thing you have to consider to answer your questions, is the level of your zeal for adventure or altruism. Part of the game is being a team player and to maintain a proper relationship with your team members may mean sacrificing some of that zeal when you feel it might be more appropriate for the virtue of temperance.

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