Thursday, 25 April 2013

2nd Edition Paladins -- Perfect?

Well, not really, no . . . and 2e is my preferred system.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've begun posting my "Sir Ivon" stories on the Greyhawk page of my blog to facilitate discussions about Paladins and the problems I see with some of the kits featured in The Complete Paladin's Handbook. These "problems" I speak of are nothing more than the changes that were made between the various kits, some of which make no sense to me and – at least from my point of view – were done without reason.

Naturally, fault can be found with any "rule" system and we all have our favorite; favorite fault and favorite rule system. In 2nd Edition we have The Complete Paladin's Handbook as a guide and information source. A very handy publication to have on hand for quick reference, but as I said, I see problems with the way some of the kits “work.” There are too many kits to discuss them all here, so let's make a quick examination of the differences between just two of the kits and perhaps you'll see what I'm talking about. We'll compare the “True Paladin” template (standard Paladin) to the “Ghosthunter Paladin” template.

The “True Paladin” gets the abilities: Disease Immunity, Cure Disease, Laying on Hands, Aura of Protection and a possible +5 Holy Avenger sword – via a quest.

Compare this to the “Ghosthunter Paladin,” who gets the abilities: Dispel Evil, Paralysis Immunity, Improved Ability to Turn Undead and possible holy sword availability, the +3 Purifier.

Now at first glance, we see that they are substituting immunities; Paralysis Immunity for Disease Immunity. It also appears that they're trading Dispel Evil for Cure Disease. I suppose that's all fair enough – at least on the surface – though I'd prefer Cure Disease, myself. What I feel compelled to ask is: Why is it that a Ghosthunter can't Lay on Hands? Why is it that the Ghosthunter cannot learn Priest Spells?

For me, there is no logical reason for these two particular restrictions, among others. First of all, to take any kit, you must be a Paladin – plain and simple. By taking a kit, the Paladin is simply choosing to specialize in their "calling." If anything the Paladin should gain one – or possibly even two – “extra” powers by choosing to specialize, not lose one or more of the basic abilities of the Paladin.

For example, the Laying on Hands is an ability that belongs to the “basic” Paladin class. It is a power that the Paladin receives from his/her God/Goddess and that he/she – realistically – uses on him/herself more often than he/she does upon others – a simple truth. To me, all Paladins – regardless of kit – should retain this ability. There is no explanation – reasonable or otherwise – as to why this penalty is applied to the "Ghosthunter" kit.

The same can be said of Priest spells. For example, the hunting and slaying of Undead is a sacred calling for all Paladins of Pelor, though not all spend the majority of their careers pursuing only the Undead. So why would Pelor wish to “punish” a Paladin who chose to follow this specialty path – making it his/her life's calling – by denying him/her the Laying of Hands, or the learning of Priest spells; such as Cure Light Wounds? It simply makes no sense to me. As I see it, by taking on a kit a Paladin chooses to be “extra special” and it makes no sense to “punish” them by denying them basic Paladin powers and abilities. 

That's why I change this “rule” in my games. It's another one of the reasons I refer to the “Core Books” as Guidelines, rather than "rules."

A second contention I have is with the description of Valor – another "rule" that I bend. The example given on page 39 of The Complete Paladin's HandbookSir Geffen's battle with the Ogres – is a poor one. Valor would require that a Paladin be the last to withdraw – most certainly – the last to "leave the field of battle," but it does not require him to deliberately “fight to the death,” and that's the impression their example gives. Such an action is sheer stupidity: neither Sir Lancelot, nor Sir Galahad, behaved in such a reckless manner and the champion Roland died with the rear guard – not alone. So, should a Paladin be the last to withdraw from the field of battle? Again – most certainly. Should the Paladin "stand and die," even after his companions have reached safety? No, of course not.

What about a third contention: Wealth Limits and Tithing (pages 30-32)? I know of no "religious" book that put a limit on wealth. As for tithing, we are most familiar with it from Jewish Law. We read of some tithing in ancient Babylonian text, but then “hear” nothing about them until the coming of Abraham and the Jews.

In Jewish law, the first mention of tithing was when Abraham and Melchizedek exchanged tithes – giving to each other. Tithing also played a part in the Mosaic Law Covenant for Israel, though the Christian Greek Scriptures (or New Testament) clearly show that Jesus' death did away with tithing, so that it was not compulsory upon Christians.

Neither was there a limit placed on wealth for Christians, although the love of money – the blind pursuit of it – was strongly condemned, since such a course of action would severely interfere with the believer's devotion to God; but the mere having of money was perfectly acceptable.

So where are these game restrictions coming from? Why is the possessing of wealth forbidden to Paladins? And why is tithing made obligatory upon all Paladins in the game? Do their faiths not play a part? Upon what "Real World" religious teachings are these two “rules” based? Were the writers of the Handbook Mormon perhaps? While the Mormons do have punishments for failing to tithe the church, other Christian religions do not, recognizing that it is no longer obligatory.

So it is obvious to me that, while some Oerth Faiths may require tithing, it's just as obvious that other Faiths would not. So, I hold that while some Paladins would have to tithe their church, others would not. It would completely depend upon the God that they served.

It's probably going to seem as though I'm cutting this “conversation” short, but we can't go into everything in one post, even for a single subject, such as Paladins. And I'm sure that any responses I get to this post will only lead to another post, thus "giving" a fuller discussion.

I've used these three particular subjects as a demonstration of why I use the Core Books as guidelines for my game play, as opposed to accepting them as hard and fast rules. The Core Books present to us other peoples' “(game) world views” and thoughts on how something within the game should work, but I have my own thoughts as to those matters and so I make whatever adjustments to them I deem necessary.

Please feel free to “jump in” and tell me why you think I'm wrong, conversation and argument are what keep the game alive. And remember, arguments is – “a discussion involving differing points of view; debate.” So there's nothing wrong with having one!


  1. Mystic,

    I think you made some valid points. Perhaps in the case of tithing, it is not a requirement, but something most Paladins feel is necessary to perpetuate their fate. However, pantheons that include gods like Zilchus or Mouqol. I think Greyhawk city which has many temples may require tithing as a way to maintain the temples and shrines in more distant areas.

    Some kits make no sense at all. It is ok to change some of the powers. Though I would think a Ghost Hunter would be more familiar, instead of less familiar with spells.

    I guess I will have to look the Complete Paladins book all over again. Who knows it might get updated by me for 3.5 edition.



    1. I think we are in agreement, my friend. The requirement set out in the New Testament is that "believers" give what their heart tells them to give. Paladins fall into that category, so I can easily see them giving much. It's tithing being church Law that I disagree with. So I change that.

      And that's my point with the Ghosthunter -- he'd have more powers than a "regular" Paladin, not merely different ones.

      I think we're "seeing eye to eye" on this.