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    Default Paladins as villains?

    I always had the idea of setting a paladin up as the antagonist for my campaign..... When I say antagonist I don't just mean being a religious zealot who sees the PCs as "infidels"..... I want to create a character who could be considered somewhat evil while still maintaining a chivalrous air around him..... incredibly ruthless, suave and cultured.... Of course he's going to be from nobility, so that he'll have a superiority complex, but I also want him coming from a family that is powerful even among noble standings, further inflating his ego. Also a bit of a hypocrite, he doesn't particularly enjoy killing innocents but has no problem with sending his minions forth to do so if it's convenient for him.

    He should also have paladin powers....just to be a deconstruction of all that a paladin is. He should be incredibly handsome and charismatic....

    I'm having trouble setting up a meeting between the PCs and this villain though......

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    ...It's called paladin of tyranny.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swiftmongoose View Post
    ...It's called paladin of tyranny.
    No, no I don't want him to be LE, I want him to be amoral but still think he's on the good side and have good PR with the population.....

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    No, no I don't want him to be LE, I want him to be amoral but still think he's on the good side and have good PR with the population.....
    Do you read Order of the Stick? Because it's a great example of a relevant point: Just because someone thinks she's Lawful Good doesn't make her Lawful Good. She can be as convinced of her goodness as possible, and have the best PR imaginable. But if she isn't acting Lawful Good, then she isn't Lawful Good, and is therefore a fallen paladin.

    Now then, what you could do that would fit both the mechanics and the fluff you're looking for is create a Lawful Evil Crusader that believes himself to be all good and holy and such.

    EDIT: This is assuming you're talking about a D&D 3.5 paladin.
    Last edited by MammonAzrael; 2011-09-16 at 10:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Make him/her a bit extreme. All evil races should be killed, even when a certain individual doesn't activate the Detect Evil.

    You can also make the Paladin the judge/executioner of a NPC the party needs.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by MammonAzrael View Post
    Do you read Order of the Stick? Because it's a great example of a relevant point: Just because someone thinks she's Lawful Good doesn't make her Lawful Good. She can be as convinced of her goodness as possible, and have the best PR imaginable. But if she isn't acting Lawful Good, then she isn't Lawful Good, and is therefore a fallen paladin.

    Now then, what you could do that would fit both the mechanics and the fluff you're looking for is create a Lawful Evil Crusader that believes himself to be all good and holy and such.

    EDIT: This is assuming you're talking about a D&D 3.5 paladin.
    I'm not looking for a Lawful Stupid Miko clone...... what I am looking for is someone a bit like Jaime Lannister from a Song of Ice and Fire.... a nobleman who although is incredibly amoral and vicious does have several redeeming qualities and that the only reason he's against the PCs is because he's on the other side......


    Quote Originally Posted by Fenryr View Post
    Make him/her a bit extreme. All evil races should be killed, even when a certain individual doesn't activate the Detect Evil.

    You can also make the Paladin the judge/executioner of a NPC the party needs.
    Yes, I can do that....but the NPC has to be incredibly important or infamous to be caught up with the Paladin....such as a politician or general who's fallen from grace with the powers to be..... the Paladin should be in cahoots with said powers too.... like the king or ruling council of a kingdom....
    Last edited by paladinofshojo; 2011-09-16 at 10:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    No, no I don't want him to be LE, I want him to be amoral but still think he's on the good side and have good PR with the population.....
    Not amoral. Even "dark" paladins are required to follow their Code of Conduct. Note that Miko, our lauded example of a Paladin-as-a-villain-done-right, fell when she actually did something Evil, even though she would never have admitted it otherwise.

    If you want a Paladin to be presented as the antagonist, starting with making the Chaotic and Evil groups more sympathetic would be the start. Maybe the party is chaotic and/or evil. Maybe they're part of a race that is not too unjustly considered "Always Evil" and is being forcefully contained/exterminated so their marauding packs will cease to interfere with the Paladin's kingdom. Maybe the players need a rare (possibly forbidden) item, but due to the Paladin's crackdowns on illegal activity the local black market is all but nonexistent. Or perhaps the Paladin has been tasked to stop people from accessing the forbidden item because it's extremely dangerous, and he won't take "but we need it" for an excuse.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    Not amoral. Even "dark" paladins are required to follow their Code of Conduct. Note that Miko, our lauded example of a Paladin-as-a-villain-done-right, fell when she actually did something Evil, even though she would never have admitted it otherwise.

    If you want a Paladin to be presented as the antagonist, starting with making the Chaotic and Evil groups more sympathetic would be the start. Maybe the party is chaotic and/or evil. Maybe they're part of a race that is not too unjustly considered "Always Evil" and is being forcefully contained/exterminated so their marauding packs will cease to interfere with the Paladin's kingdom. Maybe the players need a rare (possibly forbidden) item, but due to the Paladin's crackdowns on illegal activity the local black market is all but nonexistent. Or perhaps the Paladin has been tasked to stop people from accessing the forbidden item because it's extremely dangerous, and he won't take "but we need it" for an excuse.

    True but if I make him predictable he won't exactly be an interesting or scary villain.... I don't want to put him in a category because I want him to be much more complex than Lawful/Chaotic.... that seriously hinders his ability to function when the players call "He's not Lawful" or "he's not Chaotic"....

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    I'm not looking for a Lawful Stupid Miko clone...... what I am looking for is someone a bit like Jaime Lannister from a Song of Ice and Fire.... a nobleman who although is incredibly amoral and vicious does have several redeeming qualities and that the only reason he's against the PCs is because he's on the other side......
    Amorality does not a paladin make. In fact, that's pretty much the antithesis of what a paladin of any stripe is. There's nothing wrong with the character concept; it just goes against the spirit of what a D&D paladin is and arguably can't be a paladin by RAW (again, assuming 3.5).

    Perhaps something like a knight or crusader would be more fitting? It sounds like you want something less alignment-dependent anyway, and I'm inclined to agree. Paladins can be morally complex, but that complexity comes from their adherence to a moral code that they champion.
    Last edited by flumphy; 2011-09-16 at 11:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Maybe make the Paladin aware of his shortcomings and how close he skirts the line between lawful good and lawful neutral, and he even punishes himself for his actions. Most importantly you have to have the Paladin have a rational argument that his actions will lead to a better tomorrow for everyone, not just the ones he serves but even his opponents. You have to have the Paladin have a point and be intelligent enough to explain his actions if you want to avoid the clichéd Miko clone.

    Maybe have him part of a “good” Empire expanding into lawless territory of the protagonists, that honestly works to build up education and increase the standard living for those in the territories. But it still means generations underneath a military occupation and the people not being represented by a government of their own until they’re good proper imperial citizens. In fact to add to the conflict, have an opposing (but “bad”) empire fund the rebels in the territory just to weaken the “good” empire. The Paladin cannot in good conscious allow another nation to fall into the evil empire’s sphere of influence and feels compelled to occupy it to prevent it from expanding further.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    I'm all for avoiding the standard extreme smite-happy lawful-stupid paladin. Rather than killing directly, work out some sort of crazy brutal Mark of Justice. Perhaps it's a bit beyond what it should be able to do, but he's practiced this- maybe it triggers with every violent action, or even every violent thought. It might wipe a little bit of their memory each time, perhaps, something tied to what they're doing. You're left with a person that has to keep reinventing themselves until they become an absolute pacifist with none of their original self left.

    Try not to make him wig out over every Chaotic and/or Evil whatever. Give him a pretty good cause, and give him pretty good reason to disbelieve the PCs when they try to show him where he's wrong. Have him throw back legitimate crimes (most PCs have a laundry list) and blunders (you can help one or two along) that they've made. If he actually persuades /them/, go along with it, but slowly reveal more and more of the extents he goes to reach his goals. It's stuff you'd let out anyways if they were working against him. Subtle stuff is better if you want to make him a memorable villain.

    Personally, I'd like him better if he were a little less winning smiles and a little more battle-hardened resolve and leadership. Charisma can take the form of either depending on how you play it, after all.

    EDIT: I also think GenericGuy has a good idea.
    Last edited by QuidEst; 2011-09-16 at 11:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    He's a bounty hunter trying to stop a bunch of murderous hobos rich off their crimes.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    You can have it so that the paladin has a vast misunderstanding of what he's doing, have it so that his good actions harm and screw with another population. such as, sending out an army against and "evil" goblin warlord, of course not realizing that his troops are destroying/trampling through the other kingdoms to get there. Even though he's killed the goblin warlord, the goblins are now raiding in smaller, harder to find, precision parties. etc.

    just have him be idealistic, but not quick to think about the consequences.
    Last edited by Shinizak; 2011-09-17 at 12:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    ....A villain paladin? With DnD's definition of Paladin, that is an oxymoron (antagonist is fine, if the players are evil or the paladin mistakes them as evil).

    Paladins, by their very nature, are meant to be good. A high standard of good, in fact. Of course... DnD morality is very vague, in a lot of ways, so this doesn't always work out in play.

    Example: A lot of paladins are played as being arrogant, ruthless, selfish to their causes (though sometimes a good cause),and stupid. Those guys aren't very good... they're "OK-sorts of guys", but not "good". I've seen Paladins get away with some pretty despicable stuff, with no real justification... so it's often up to the GM's discretion of how good a paladin is, in practice.
    So, by this definition of paladin, you cuold make them pretty evil, as long as they say fancy things.

    Your BEST solution, however, is homebrewing... I don't mean, "homebrew a class", I mean go into some actual storytelling. You're talking about Game of Thrones, for example, and the story it tells with a evil character who has some redeeming qualities. Maybe in your world, paladins don't have magic because they are good--they have magic because the people think they are good.
    Get creative. Go nuts.
    Last edited by Conners; 2011-09-17 at 12:08 AM.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    True but if I make him predictable he won't exactly be an interesting or scary villain.... I don't want to put him in a category because I want him to be much more complex than Lawful/Chaotic.... that seriously hinders his ability to function when the players call "He's not Lawful" or "he's not Chaotic"....
    And yet, making a legitimately Lawful Good character the antagonist can be so... entertaining.

    And prediction by itself does not by itself defuse the threat of an opponent. In fact, you can even turn it on its head. Paladins are supposed to be unstoppable juggernauts... and he may have already seen every trick in the book, every counter, every trap. Trying to fake a surrender? Sense Motive is a class skill. Save-or-Die spells? On top of his ridiculous saves, he may have given himself some immunities. Shapeshift? Item with toggle-able AMF. Warblade levels? A possibility.

    Let them feel the terror of a man who believes they have done wrong and will not truly rest until he has brought them down.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    I've seen this done rather well before, and I believe the key is to take a Machiavellian approach to law/morality.

    (Yes, I know there's all the controversy and misconceptions about his work. For now lets assume that The Prince was meant to be taken at face value and not start some massive debate on it.)

    So the paladin is running his nation and is generally being a "good" leader. He gives aid to the poor, fights off evil creatures at his own expense, and overall improves life for most people. However, if anyone ever steps out of line, he responds in full force as dramatically and strongly possible. And I don't mean murderers and the like: if someone is caught pickpocketing once or doing some minor vandalism he pulls out the smiting and kills them on the spot. Worse crimes get even harsher punishment.

    He doesn't do it because he wants to see people suffer or is otherwise cruel. Its just that anyone who breaks any law is opposing his will and threatening his position of authority. And if he loses power then someone who doesn't care for the nation could take over and pursue their own goals. If he doesn't make a grand example of every breach of the law, it shows that people can oppose him without consequence and breed dissent. (which of course will lead to more crime, civil war, and lots of dead civilians for no net benefit to the nation)


    In short: Just your typical paladin in a position of authority, but give them a triple shot of righteous vengeance and turn the "punishment of the evil/guilty" up to 11.
    Paladin is good -> paladin runs state -> state is good
    Person follows law -> person supports state -> person is good -> state gives aid to person
    Person breaks law -> person opposes state -> person is not good -> entire system crashes down on person -> remaining citizens do not repeat mistake

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    If you really want the players to hate a Paladin, remember their most powerful class feature: "Cause Thirty-Minute Alignment Debate".
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    You could also take a page from the movie The Rock if you like. That'd make your paladin more of an anti-villain, which is as villainous as a paladin should get at most, as far as I'm concerned.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    True but if I make him predictable he won't exactly be an interesting or scary villain.... I don't want to put him in a category because I want him to be much more complex than Lawful/Chaotic.... that seriously hinders his ability to function when the players call "He's not Lawful" or "he's not Chaotic"....
    Ever read Goblinscomic? There is a Paladin named Kor who counts himself as 'good' even though he is completely evil. His class is Paladin. He mantains it because, presumably, his gods accept that behavior and view themselves as good.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    If it were me using a paladin as a villain?

    I'd have him pretty much striving towards an "ultimate good", and doing whatever it takes to get to that goal. Maybe taking the long road as to what is good and right, rather than the short one.

    For example, he might essentially abduct torture thousands of people to death, and vivisect them (it's like dissecting, but they do it when you're still alive), all to advance the cause of medicine and the understanding of anatomy, for a net benefit. Heck, it'd even work (it did in real life, a lot of cultures did it at one point or another, typically to condemned criminals).

    This isn't to say that the character cannot be as kind and generous and whatnot as he can be - "I'm truly sorry, but this is a good death. You die for your people. You die that so many others may live," - but still be single minded and doing something viewed by most people as being fundamentally wrong, while still being able to lay claim to a Lawful Good alignment.


    That's my view, anyway. I'm always kinda loose when it comes to interpreting morality - generally I ignore it, or go by the societal view, unless the character's personal philosophy and goals is radically different to the societal reaction of the society that I live in.

    (I'm not going to say anything further about alignment now for fear of dereailing the thread, so don't ask me about it)

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    I always had the idea of setting a paladin up as the antagonist for my campaign.
    Okay.

    When I say antagonist I don't just mean being a religious zealot who sees the PCs as "infidels"..... I want to create a character who could be considered somewhat evil while still maintaining a chivalrous air around him, incredibly ruthless, suave and cultured.... Of course he's going to be from nobility, so that he'll have a superiority complex, but I also want him coming from a family that is powerful even among noble standings, further inflating his ego. Also a bit of a hypocrite, he doesn't particularly enjoy killing innocents but has no problem with sending his minions forth to do so if it's convenient for him.

    He should also have paladin powers....just to be a deconstruction of all that a paladin is. He should be incredibly handsome and charismatic....

    I'm having trouble setting up a meeting between the PCs and this villain though......
    That's a problem. Paladins can be powerful, chivalrous, suave, cultured, handsome and charismatic. They can even be ruthless in their pursuit of evil. But you want him to be hypocrite, and a 'deconstruction' of what a Paladin is. And with those you've fallen too far from the tree of what 'paladin' can be, since they either gain power from their gods or the very concept of law and good.

    The ways that a Paladin usually becomes an antagonist is if the PCs are chaotic or evil, or the Paladin is zealous enough to jump on the PCs for minor infractions. What have your PCs done that would legitimately get a paladin after them?

    EDIT: alternatively, have him be a Cleric instead of a Paladin. You can get the same charismatic holy knight flavor without the alignment restrictions, and can still have him be a somewhat tainted follower of a LG god.
    Last edited by Crasical; 2011-09-17 at 05:21 PM.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    You could have something equivalent to Indulgences to let him get away with the occasional questionable act. Basically payment in money/goods/service to the church so they clear his soul of wrongdoing. Could also be a boon for the PCs (give them a realistic way out if they screw up, justifies the go-do-X-to-lift-the-bounty-off-your-head quests), although the payments would increase dramatically if they start abusing it.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    The main problem I see here is player-flak for having a situation worse than Miko that still gets Paladin powers. Especially if any of them have ever played or wanted to play a Paladin themselves.

    Killing innocents is killing innocents and generally taken to be an auto-fall, regardless of whether he doesn't enjoy it when he's doing it himself or paying someone else to do it for him.

    And if it's a Paladin that's not beholden to Gooder than Good and so on, then he answer of whether they can be villains is patently obvious, take snobbish ****** nobs and bully martial types and mix together to taste and voila.

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    I'm not looking for a Lawful Stupid Miko clone...... what I am looking for is someone a bit like Jaime Lannister from a Song of Ice and Fire.... a nobleman who although is incredibly amoral and vicious does have several redeeming qualities and that the only reason he's against the PCs is because he's on the other side......
    I can't find a rubber stamp big enough for the "YMMV" for using that incestuous character as an example.

    It really sounds like you don't want a Paladin at all. You want one of the fictional Cesare Borgias. Possibly combined with some of the Templar from Assassin's Creed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    Warblade levels? A possibility..
    Ok, now this you've got to explain. How is an opponent possessing warblade levels a weakness that a paladin can exploit? Or are you saying to use Warblade levels instead?
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2011-09-17 at 07:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    First, whenever you say 'paladin' on most RPG forums, you get a lot of extra paladin baggage that you may not have intended to bring along. That said, your concept cannot work under the rule set of D&D 3.5. So we'll just have to break some rules.

    The easiest way I can think of putting the characters against a paladin is if they have an evil or at least morally ambiguous goal. Paladin wants to destroy the big evil magic, players want to use it for personal gain, restore a loved one to life, kill another evil, etc. The paladin has a goal, which interferes with the player's goal.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Honestly? A fighter or crusader for 3.5 or an Avenger for 4e might be more what you're looking for here.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    Ok, now this you've got to explain. How is an opponent possessing warblade levels a weakness that a paladin can exploit?
    I meant it as a trick that the paladin could exploit... by taking Warblade levels. He might not be a full initiator, but strategic use of a couple choice maneuvers (especially when the enemy doesn't realize he has any initiator levels) could prove a significant advantage... or at least more of a one than those dead Paladin levels.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    I always had the idea of setting a paladin up as the antagonist for my campaign..... When I say antagonist I don't just mean being a religious zealot who sees the PCs as "infidels"..... I want to create a character who could be considered somewhat evil while still maintaining a chivalrous air around him..... incredibly ruthless, suave and cultured.... Of course he's going to be from nobility, so that he'll have a superiority complex, but I also want him coming from a family that is powerful even among noble standings, further inflating his ego. Also a bit of a hypocrite, he doesn't particularly enjoy killing innocents but has no problem with sending his minions forth to do so if it's convenient for him.

    He should also have paladin powers....just to be a deconstruction of all that a paladin is. He should be incredibly handsome and charismatic....

    I'm having trouble setting up a meeting between the PCs and this villain though......
    Sir Jamie from the 1st Season of Game of Thrones fits the bill pretty accuratedly.

    He is charming, good looking, comes from a powerful family that is well respected even amongst other nobles, he appreciates honour highly, even so much as to smash one of his men for ruining an honourable duel he was about to loose.

    As he is not the leader of his house, he is part of a family which sends soldiers to kill innocents, but as his loyalty lies strongly to his house, he accepts that happening.

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinofshojo View Post
    I always had the idea of setting a paladin up as the antagonist for my campaign..... When I say antagonist I don't just mean being a religious zealot who sees the PCs as "infidels"..... I want to create a character who could be considered somewhat evil while still maintaining a chivalrous air around him..... incredibly ruthless, suave and cultured.... Of course he's going to be from nobility, so that he'll have a superiority complex, but I also want him coming from a family that is powerful even among noble standings, further inflating his ego. Also a bit of a hypocrite, he doesn't particularly enjoy killing innocents but has no problem with sending his minions forth to do so if it's convenient for him.

    He should also have paladin powers....just to be a deconstruction of all that a paladin is. He should be incredibly handsome and charismatic....

    I'm having trouble setting up a meeting between the PCs and this villain though......
    Well the issue is that in D&D, a Paladin is a representation of the forces of good and law. What you're looking to deconstruct is the perception of Paladins or possibly the idea that people can be good, which is a far far worse thing. To have a Paladin (at least one in the traditional sense) be other than good is an attempt to deconstruct the very idea of good. Now there are worlds without morality, D&D is not one of them. A Paladin cannot by definition be amoral, therefore a deconstruction of a Paladin should represent the flaws in the idea of Paladin.
    How you ask, well give the Paladin flaws, make him an alcoholic, or a deadbeat, or a somebody who likes to kill. Give him something to struggle against so that his morality means something. But to deconstruct the idea of good itself is a very difficult and philosophically involved principle. I personally would not play with somebody that tried to in essence break the game world in that way, and I am concerned that some of your players might feel the same way. Now you could have an LE antipaladin who still believed himself to be a paladin, or a CE antipaladin, who hid his chaos under a veneer so that he could get away with his vile and heinous crimes (after all chaotic evil isn't chaotic stupid anymore than lawful good is lawful stupid, and even CE people are capable of complex plains and ruses). But in game terms you cannot make someone good who is not.
    Last edited by AMFV; 2011-09-17 at 08:54 PM.
    My Avatar is Glimtwizzle, a Gnomish Fighter/Illusionist by Cuthalion.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    Give him levels in the Grey Guard prestige class. All of the benefits of a Paladin, with the capability to 'bend the rules' when he's going out and getting the job done. This can easily turn into a trouble for the PC's, moreso if they're the targets of his rule-bending.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    TheNuttyAlakazm's Avatar

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    Default Re: Paladins as villains?

    There's the Imperial Knights from the star wars comics they're the same in almost every way to the Jedi of the new republic except they side with the empire in other words they're Lawful Good working for the Lawful Evil
    "Before you criticize a man first walk a mile in his shoes that way you're a mile away and you have his shoes"


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