View Full Version : [3.5] How do you play your paladin?

2010-02-18, 12:04 PM
I don't mean in terms of roll-play, I mean in terms of roleplay. I know several people on here play paladins often, particularly Archpaladin Zousha. Myself, I can count on one hand the number of times I've played a non-paladin. I just love the class.

But how do you play your paladins? Are they happy, honor-bound smiley-faced champions? Are they Lawful Stupid Templars? Or are they wise theologians with complex ideas on moral codes and their application in real life? Are they happy people in the service of their deity? Do they wear bright, runed, rich armor that makes it clear what they are? Or do they dress down, in dark colors because they don't want to stand out?

There was a concept in here in some thread; I can't remember which, that I loved. I've played it since, and it's awesome. The lonely paladin. The wanderer whom everyone fears because he can look at them and look into their souls and see their sins, their evils. He is God's sword, and no man is so secure in his own righteousness that the presence of such a being does not make him nervous.

That's my favorite concept, tied with the normal knight in shining armor. What are yours? What have you tried? Do you have any other interesting ideas? Share, share share! :smallbiggrin:

2010-02-18, 12:09 PM
I enjoy playing them as just nice, holy guys whose powers also help them in fights against evil beings.

2010-02-18, 12:17 PM
Never back down from a fight that could save others, but be willing to back down from those which have nothing to be gained. That's always my blanket advise for paladin playing.

With mine specifically I enjoy shooting down a villain's motive rant in three sentences.

2010-02-18, 12:24 PM
I never play them as PCs, but include them occasionally as NPCs.

The last one was bitter and cynical, due to seeing the world slowly get worse despite his best efforts, all his sacrifices, and seeing everyone around him enjoying the fruits of his efforts while his life was spent in pursuit of duty.

2010-02-18, 12:27 PM
I have the idea of a Pally who was bidding his time doing good till he could finish his Phylactery and become a Lich (where he would fall as Liches are evil). Only requires 12 levels of Pally (with an alternate class feature that raises caster by 2 and Practiced spell caster).
It was mostly the idea of a Pally Lich.

2010-02-18, 12:28 PM
Most of the ones I've run have been along the Doomed Champion motif. They recognize the fact that their quest is a lonely one, almost certainly destined to failure in the great scheme of things. They simply refuse to allow that destiny to dissuade them from doing what they know, in their hearts, is right.

2010-02-18, 12:29 PM
Never back down from a fight that could save others, but be willing to back down from those which have nothing to be gained. That's always my blanket advise for paladin playing.

With mine specifically I enjoy shooting down a villain's motive rant in three sentences.

Ooh, wow. Got a quote I could see?

Tyndymr: Mine tend to end up like that towards the end of adventures.

2010-02-18, 12:31 PM
I've only had two. The more serious one was a champion of the innocent. He wasn't always happy, or even likable, but he had a firm view of right and wrong and stuck to it, but not in the crazed Miko way. Picture him as more of a grumpy O-Chul figure. He'd save the innocent, make sure that they'd be secure for the foreseeable future, ect., and then rant at them over how they got into that situation, or rant to the villain of what kind of dumb plan he had. He was rather fun to play.

My other as an NPC is almost creepily happy go lucky, and just kept trucking for "the greater good." If memory serves he sacrificed himself for the party.

2010-02-18, 12:42 PM
My DM says that Paladins are the champions of the Gods, so Lawful Stupid would rarely apply.

This has led to a lot of Infidel Smiters, but also a lot more paladin-ish Paladins :smalltongue:

Glass Mouse
2010-02-18, 01:13 PM
I toyed with the concept of a gnome paladin with a thief past. I haven't gotten to play her, but I really like the idea of a happy-go-lucky, tricksy paladin, occasionally bending the code (really, what's the point of a high cha if you cn't bluff a bit?) but always in the pursuit of good. Heart of gold type.

Really, the big challenge would be finding a GM who wouldn't ban her on account of being a teensy bit chaotic.

2010-02-18, 01:37 PM
I am the tactical acid ball of justice thrown from the back of a griffon. I will crash into the darkness like a splintering, wailing sack of flesh and bone and steel, and I will not stop until there is merely the stain of evil washed over the back of the alley wall. The priests, the knights, they are the holy men who come to speak to you with words unclouded by righteous judgment. It is they who gave you the chance at redemption, the honeyed tongues that promise great things if only you would turn your face back to the light of day and the joy of the sun. I am the last in line, never the first. My god didn't give me the knowledge to use weapons or armor just so I could come talk my enemy down. There is always the chance that I will not be needed, and I rejoice in those days, but there is always an evil too foul, a darkness too profound, or a shadow too long for even the glory of that which is sanctified by the hand of righteousness to even touch or help back out of the abyss.

For when the abyss stares back into you, just put a sword right between the eyes.


2010-02-18, 01:49 PM
I once played a genteel, silent Paladin, another incredibly loyal, almost devoid-of-emotions Paladin, and a "vive la résistance" type Paladin (though admittedly a Paladin of Freedom). Really, a class rarely limits you to a single stereotype. A specific build is more likely to do it, though.

2010-02-18, 02:02 PM
I played a "human" (changeling) paladin who had full ranks into Diplomacy and Sense Motive. He was pretty tolerant of everybody, which made him like the nicest Silver Flame paladin ever.

2010-02-18, 02:05 PM
When I play a paladin, it is generally played as I would play a fighter (in and around battles), except that he always goes for the strongest target.
As far as social situations and out of battle, I am basically nice to everyone. I focus on the good; law is just a side effect of that.

2010-02-18, 02:18 PM
When I play a paladin, I am to Miko what Miko is to Roy. :smallamused:

2010-02-18, 02:29 PM
A hot babe with a sword?

2010-02-18, 02:40 PM
My main paladin character (not that I've actually had a chance to play her) is a halfling paladin of Arvoreen. She's basically bought into the knight-errant ideal of travelling around routing brigands and slaying dragons as a way of protecting her kin while satisfying her wanderlust. She became a paladin of Arvoreen by choice, as she and her patron deity share the same goal.

2010-02-18, 02:43 PM
I'm currently playing a paladin of Sune (from Forgotten Realms.) Worshipping a goddess of love and beauty (and CG to boot) makes for a really interesting paladin. He is still lawful good, he is just very tolerant of those who aren't (like his deity for example). And since he worships a goddess of love (whose other followers are 80% female) he gets to put that high charisma to good use. :)

2010-02-18, 02:48 PM
I only played one paladin, but I modeled him after Don Quixote. I just considered evil as the windmills that Don was chasing down. He was always happy and friendly to everyone, and only blew a top whenever he saw or knew of evil going down... and then it had to be vanquished for the good of the queen.

The particular setting actually did have a queen, so it was convenient.

I don't think that's the only way to play a paladin, just a fun way I thought of playing one.

One of the best concepts I ever heard for playing a paladin was a character who actually hates being a paladin. Paladins are chosen by their dieties, and they must answer the call. So, what if there is someone who simply does not want to be an instrument of his god? Perhaps a really good baker who wishes only to bake, but is told... hey, you gotta fight evil and spread my name around.

Technically they have a choice, Mr. Baker here could say no, but how do you say no to a God? That's interesting internal struggle right there.

The reluctant paladin is a fun idea, and I do want to play that at some point.

2010-02-18, 02:54 PM
One of the best concepts I ever heard for playing a paladin was a character who actually hates being a paladin. Paladins are chosen by their dieties, and they must answer the call. So, what if there is someone who simply does not want to be an instrument of his god? Perhaps a really good baker who wishes only to bake, but is told... hey, you gotta fight evil and spread my name around.

Actually the PHB says many do say no to the gods, "Many are called, few are chosen", the some people choose not to be Pallys after gods call them.

But it is an interesting thought: so the Baker is devout and can't deny his gods, but dislike having to stop baking for these tasks.

2010-02-18, 03:02 PM
One of the things I did for one of my paladins is, in addition to his detect evil, when he sees good beings that have been murdered or violently killed, he sees it, and he watches the death in his head, and when he detects an evil being he sees the multitude of their sins.

So paladins are pretty tortured people, for me. My absolute favorite one was a paladin that worshipped "The Threefold God" which was a combination of Pelor, Cuthbert and Heironeous. He had a sword which could use flaming, frost or shocking depending on what he said: Pelor Endures, Cuthbert Remembers, or Heironeous Protects.

Eventually it was too much for him and he went on this massive diatribe about how Heironeous expects HIM to protect but doesn't protect, and Pelor endures nothing while his worshippers endure all the bad stuff, and no one remembers the dead so Cuthbert fails too.

He didn't fall, rather, his command words changed to "I endure, I remember, I protect."

Oh, and he gained the Saint template. Without falling, since he kept to his code even though he pretty much flipped the bird at his Gods. Thank you, my DM.

2010-02-18, 07:17 PM
My pal is a bit different. He is a small Halfling riding along on his Sint Bernard and preaching the teachings of Yerola. She is one of the under gods of the Halfing pantheon from Races of the Wild. Her portfolio includes the kitchen and must be imagined as the prototypical "dear old granny who guards the family-recipes". My pal goes round preaching by cooking (I have 6 skill-points in cooking, like Belkar). I try to find new exotic recipes and converting evil by making them nice food. And of course if they insist on remaining pagan cannibals, by smiting their behinds.
I try to be sensitive and forgiving and force evil manticors and sphinxes to start eating the right things but orcs and goblins just won't listen. Every night I attract the most delicious random encounters with the smell of my food, so we always have enough. My DM says hydra tastes awesome (a bit like chicken).


2010-02-18, 07:31 PM
I charged and used power attack and smite.
Quite frankly the last time I got to play a paladin it was a bad setting to play one in and the wrong party to be one it, which was totally my bad, it really ended up being, she'd try to do the right thing, but her friends were kinda jerks, but she still cared and wanted to protect them, and protect innocent people.
It was alright, but there were a few times where I was just was like "Uhhh, No, you guys go do that, I'll be over here NOT selling corpses to obviously evil old ladies."
In the end she totally saved the day though by casting protection from evil on the Party's only other front line fighter which was dominated and standing between us and the Big bad evil little girl. And managed to make sure the clones we saved would be okay on their own.

2010-02-18, 07:35 PM
The last one was bitter and cynical, due to seeing the world slowly get worse despite his best efforts, all his sacrifices, and seeing everyone around him enjoying the fruits of his efforts while his life was spent in pursuit of duty.

Yeah, that's the way I go. Kind of Dr. Cox-ish if you've ever watched Scrubs... :smalltongue:

2010-02-18, 08:06 PM
The lord gave me the sight to see evil, and the ability to smite it, and I enjoy carrying out his commands.

If my god didn't want me to smite it, he wouldn't tell me it's evil.

2010-02-18, 09:00 PM
As a master of the easily manipulated puppets that are my PC's DM, I have two paladin borthers in my campaign. One is an NPC ally to my PC's, his brother, is much more interesting:
After being denied a sword of power by a dwarven oracle (His brother got it instead), he went East in rage, arriving in the neaby toen Mauveport and getting into a fight at a bar of paladins. He then continued East, through a place called the Midnight marsh, than he went North, where he slayed a high priest of Juiblex, and one of the only people who loved his shy son, but that's another story. Proceeding North-East, he climbed Mt. Snowtongue and destroyed a whole ogre settlement with brutal rage. After that he climbed to the top and found a magic caravan, which brought him across the great lake. He arrived at Fragrance Spring, a mystical hot spring filled with water and fire Nymph shugenjas, he demanded to gain entry to a sacred pool in the prime shugenja temple, they said no, so he attacked them, leading into his becoming a blackguard. But they easily overpowered him, and he escaped by jumping through a waterfall, which turned out to have a secret passageway in it. He ended up in Oakenglade, a small Elven settlement, and he attacked the civilians in a batttle frenzy. He killed many but was driven out on the brink of death. Later, the army of an expanding empire called Chainhaul found him. Chainhaul had far more advanced technology then the rest of the world, and offered to reconstruct him to become a thing of raw power. He accepted.

Duh, duh ,duuuuuuhhhhh!!!

This paladin is angry, impulsive, thin-skinned and filled with pent up frustration. Having no more living family members that don't hate your guts doesn't seem to roll well with him. He frequently gets into fistfights whenever anybody provokes him, yearning to let out all his anger. However, he controls his anger for the most part, letting it out at the forces of evil.

2010-02-18, 09:12 PM
For some reason, I decided that Paladins were best when played like hard-boiled dimestore detectives.

I do not regret this decision.

2010-02-18, 09:38 PM
Myself, I don't play them.

T.G. Oskar
2010-02-18, 09:53 PM
I love the Paladin class. I think I've stated that quite enough. However...for very strange reasons, I can't seem to play a really heroic or memorable Paladin. They get to be a little dull, or timid.

First time on a d20 system, it was a Paladin on a homebrew setting. He was no nonsense, pretty empty, and died a quick death at a gladiatorial combat. A second chance at playing another Paladin was not entirely complete, but it was almost a carbon copy of the other character, aside from a few feat choices.

Second time on a d20 system, it was also a Paladin on a homebrew setting. He was basically there by orders of his order (redundant, I know, but true). He met with a novice Fighter, and no less and no more than TWO more Paladins. Yes, a Paladin squad by all means. Though, the others were late additions and not exactly overwhelming. That character was quite memorable, if only because he (alongside the Pally squad) pulled off a pretty impressive feat of starting a sort-of rebellion against an Evil empire. Later on, the character joins the Knights Hospitaler (taking the Hospitaler PrC), travels to a desertic place, gets tested, fights the Emperor (and survives by a brink of fate), and goes on to become someone important in the Empire after the real Emperor gets reinstated.

The problem with this character was that it worked fine, without trouble, and actually playing pretty fine until the Pally team was separated. It ended up with a highly Chaotic group which had a glory hog Warblade whom claimed himself undefeatable, a noble thief, and a pimp Sorcerer with melee tastes. The idea was to be the lone Lawful guy within a purely Chaotic team, with all of the implications. The team adhered pretty well, although the glory hog was pretty much the polar opposite of my Paladin; what with being extroverted and controversial and offensive and "hey, that guy lived in the midst of a haunted town; maybe he's a Necromancer!", while I was introverted and polite and defensive and "I hate to be a lecturer, but you guys get to my nerves!". Not to mention the apathetic Cleric that joined later, the Sorcerer with nasty tendencies and the blatantly evil who summoned fiendish creatures right in front of my character, while I had to show patience... Right around the end, the DM itself found I was a tad dull, and almost pushed me to become a sterner Paladin, because Raziel took to sponsor me (and thus, taking the Fist of Raziel PrC) but also because I was working for the Emperor.

Third time was on Eberron, playing a...no nonsense Warforged Paladin from Thrane. This one had a much better fleshed backstory, but it was a bit antisocial and had a robotic way of thinking. Tried as much to not stand out from the crowd, but tried to fulfill his mission at the best of his ability (had a dominant male personality and was mostly a defensive kind of Paladin). He had a magnificent chance of being a hero and doing all kinds of good stuff, but he chose loyalty over a friend and respect for his sacrifice instead of doing the heroic thing. He still regretted the decision, and isn't willing to commit the same mistake (or would, had the DM remained here and not depart to his homeplace).

So I usually try to avoid going with the established Paladin stereotype, but end up being less than memorable sometimes. They end up being a bit timid, introverted, sometimes social and sometimes not, but they end up committed to do good nonetheless.

2010-02-18, 09:56 PM
I haven't played a paladin yet (the campaign I was going to in died... :smallfrown:) but I was planning on playing a paladin based on the 10th doctor. The whole, "I'm willing to give you a second chance, but no second chances after that" bit, specifically.

2010-02-19, 08:43 AM
Idealist (coz Uncompromising != Nasty):


Pragmatist (coz Good != Nice):


2010-02-19, 09:09 AM
There are two pieces of writing I always consider when creating a paladin:

“If I were a proper brother-captain, I would know the prayer we are supposed to say. But I think you all know what we have to do. We do not know what our chances of survival are, so we fight as if they were zero. We do not know what we are facing, so we fight as if it was the dark gods themselves. No one will remember us now and we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here. The Chapter might lose us and the Imperium might never know we existed, but the Enemy – the Enemy will know. The Enemy will remember. We will hurt it so bad that it will never forget us until the stars burn out and the Emperor vanquishes it at the end of time. When Chaos is dying, its last thought will be of us. That is our memorial – carved into the heart of Chaos. We cannot lose, Grey Knights. We have already won.”
~Acting-Brother-captain Alaric of the Grey Knights

4channer on Paladins

None of that "oh well, if you're sorry, truly sorry, there's nothing I can do," horsecrap. No, he coup de graces your ass, because he's a goddamned paladin. His job is killing evil. You know what his job isn't? Being a sympathetic ear for every whiny NE scumbag who's only being evil because the world is unfair to him.
You know what unfair is? Being able to know what kind of person everybody is before you even talk to them. Smelling evil so potent on a motherfether, you want to sink your fingers into his torso and pull crap out until the screaming stops. Having the psychotic urge to murder people who you've never met, for the sole reason that your god decided you ought to be his little whack-a-mole guy, that's unfair. But unlike evil mcBlacknails over there, the Paladin puts on his helmet, sharpens his sword, and then walks through crowds of people, every day, resisting the urge. Seeing evidence of injustice so black it makes him sick, seeing rapists and murderers walk free, watching good men hang from the gallows as evil men pull the lever. Because he's a Paladin, and who will right the wrongs of the world if not he?

These are paladins in my eyes.

2010-02-19, 09:54 AM
*Goes to make a paladin to make up for the LE Hexblade/Paladin of Tyranny/Monk/Blackguard made earlier for the GM...*

Very nice pieces of writing... I will consider them now whenever I write up a paladin.

2010-02-19, 10:09 AM
A drill sargent that is harsh on his men in training but would glady take a bullet for everyone of them.
A relic of a age of peace/other planet/plane although slightly Naive about the mordern world has an unending desire to protect the weak.
Freedom fighter in a police state.
Dragon rider champion of his people.

Although these are just concepts I like to play them as understanding father/big brother figures. The type of guys you would throw a football with or the guy that takes you out for ice cream because the other kids bullied you at school. The guy that listens even though he might not understands everything you say but understands that it is important for you.

2010-02-19, 10:37 AM
I've played paladins much like several of the above, the grim 'I do it because nobody else will' kinds. I've got two others though.

The first one is the Redeemed. He's a former soldier who has done things... seen things... and who suffered shell shock/battle fatigue and retreated to a monastary. [This was a relatively common thing during the crusades, apparantly, so the historical precident is there.] However, Justice called. In play this one went interesting because 'Justice' was a cursed artifact-like sword. His paladin-ness was established by his constantly fighting against the sword, doing the *right* thing instead of the *easy* thing.

The second is more a joke than anything, but it's an amusing mental image. It's the paladin of the God of Healing and Suffering. Basically an emo/goth paladin, with the black eyeliner, bad poetry, and fixation on death.

2010-02-19, 11:34 AM
My Paladins tend to be cynical hypocrites, having understood that when combating evil, you inevitably cross the moral event horizon at one point or the other. When faced with a Kobayashi maru, it's not time to contemplate the results of your actions; it's time to act. Although they will do whatever it takes to uphold the ideals of a Lawful Good society, sometimes those actions will cost you a part of your soul. For this is what Paladins are all about: making sacrifices so that others won't have to. They are the martyrs, the saints, and the sufferers who are bearing the cross of society.