Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

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Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Toros » Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:29 pm

In light of current events, I think the general consensus is that we should avoid controversial subjects and wait until the hurt feelings die down. I strongly disagree, with the same sort of concept that rehabilitation after an injury prevents scar tissue forming.

To that end I'd like to discuss common paladin roleplay mistakes that should generally be avoided, both because paladin debates are a daily subject if we let them and because I am familiar with the subject.

1) Shutting down roleplay

Paladin too often (I've been guilty of this as well) feel like they need to police the behaviors of others, to prevent them from breaking the law proactively. The massive issue with this is that it is boring and you're taking an action to prevent someone else from taking an action, and then nothing happens. From a realistic sense, this works in a world where we care about things like concussions and property damage, but in fantasy, we don't.

A classic example of this is two people in a bar start getting worked up and into a fist fight. The mistake would be to stop the conflict before it became physical. This is boring for everyone. Instead, let them fight, knock over chairs, etc and either get into a fistfight with the winner afterword or arrest them both and stick them in the same cell. (Not good idea in real life, but there's a reason it's so common in movies)

This is probably one of the most reviled things paladin do, and it's really not even a pro/con situation.

I have more, but I'd like to give others the opportunity before this turns into an essay.

Also, I play Galondel.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Loreweaver » Tue Nov 22, 2016 6:25 pm

I would say that collaborative storytelling relies upon embracing the efforts of the others and building on that in a way which opens up new possibilities. If a PC stops what others are doing outright and provides no new direction, that is narratively undesirable. But there is, I think, nothing inherently bad about a paladin who tries to stop a situation from escalating by trying to enforce a different solution. They're getting involved in the RP which is taking place, and provide opportunities for the tale to grow. Even when the effort is successful and takes away the immediate gratification of a brawl, it can lead to a number of other interesting situations if the other players embrace the changed situation in turn.

I think the actual problem with this situation lies in an imbalance of power. The paladin tends to represent the legal perspective in such matters, which can be difficult for the would-be fighters to ignore when they're so directly confronted with it. They were fine with breaking a law or two in front of a full bar just a minute ago, but the presence of a church-sanctioned warrior-protector of the King's decrees is a serious complication. Players may feel they must comply.
It does not mean, however, that PCs are incapable of defying a paladin's wishes, or of looking for ways to settle their score in a different way or place, or that they cannot team up until this common foe is dealt with. They took a chance of some intervention (be it paladin, guard, barkeep, concerned citizen or other) when they chose to escalate the situation where they did, it's not an inappropriate response for the situation, and so they can roll with it.
I would claim that if all sides show some consideration in their delivery and remain open to new RP developments rather than being dead set on one resolution, there is no reason this or any other situation should shut anyone down. These things are only as boring as you make them.

That said, you are right of course that "don't do that, but instead.." is not as positive a twist as "go ahead, and.." and therefore should be used with care.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Feronius » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:38 pm

Is a bar brawl not a matter for the tavern keeper or the city guard? Depending on the establishment, even they may not always care.
The example does not seem very relevant to paladins, who have no true authority in the described scenario. Or was that the point?

Discussions on paladins (and alignments) are more like open wounds that keep bleeding. It always becomes messy, whenever.
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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Kerstman » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:04 pm

I think there's always a lot of context. Not by any means I am very good at playing a LG character. In fact I consider it the least fun to play alignment. Which only increases my respect for those who are good at playing it. I enjoy well fleshed-out LG characters. Most of all the paladins. However, I tend to play the characters that sometimes get on the pally their nerves or who at least have different opinions about a lot of things.

Back to context. What I mean is that a paladin in Impiltur will act in a very different way than in a more out-of-place environment. For instance a tribal totem worship community. In the latter the paladin may actually not receive any respect at all or he may in fact be shunned. Obviously this is an extreme, but in my opinion a good paladin knows his/her place in the bigger context. This can be linked to location, culture or something else. Depending on where the bar brawl is, who are fighting and how hard they are fighting the paladin may or may not intervene. Perhaps there is also some free choice. Next to this there is no one paladin blueprint. There are several deities, orders, homelands and whatnot. Most of all there is personality. Yep even those with more or less divine links still have their own personalities. Even those that deny this.

I largely agree with Loreweaver and I think it's a slippery slope to speak of 'common mistakes' for this or that type of character. The intervention may or may not be a mistake. Not intervening may be the same. There are a lot of variables and probably there is some freedom too. In general I try to avoid speaking of 'mistakes' when speaking of the rp of other characters. Even if they are obviously not the best decisions. To me it's just that IC actions will always have IC consequences. Which as well means that PC A may applaud the paladins intervention while PC B disapproves of it. And if there are a lot of (N)PC's disapproving of a paladins actions then perhaps in hindsight the incorrect IC decision has been made. This I would not flag as a mistake, but rather as an opportunity for roleplay and character development. In that regard paladins are no different than any other PC.
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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Ataraxia » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:50 pm

Being a Paladin can be a lot of pressure because oftentimes it is perceived that it is expected of them to be infallible, perfect champions of their deity as well as queen/king of all virtues. I haven't played a Paladin on TER but from experience on other servers, it is the class whose actions are watched and analyzed the closest for flaws and errors.

There's a difference between intentionally playing a class a specific way versus feeling confined to a box, so I'll avoid speaking of mistakes that characters themselves make but to a player intending to make a paladin, I'd tell them the biggest mistake they can make is to feel that the LG alignment and role of Paladin limits them to the singular and stereotypical playstyle devoid of character personality. The Paladin isn't their deity and it's, in my opinion, more than okay for them to have flaws and struggles with their faith.

Otherwise, these are the usual things I keep in mind when I play one:
-Paladins don't have to police everyone about every little thing. After all, they should lead by example.
-They don't have to be at a hundred percent all the time, people have good and bad days and that applies to Paladins too.
-Paladins follow their code because they believe it is right - not to lawyer their way into staying in their Deity's good side and retain divine powers.
-Paladins (and their players) should not live in fear of falling.
-Weapons and divine powers are not the only tools at their disposal.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Dawnbreak » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:57 pm

Ataraxia wrote:-Paladins (and their players) should not live in fear of falling.
This is the single biggest mistake I see paladin players do (not here, as of yet, but elsewhere). They act against their character's actual motives in order to retain their powers. The one thing I would like to see avoided here, is this.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Mentfrost » Wed Nov 23, 2016 12:43 am

And on the topic of falling, just because a paladin fell doesn't mean he needs to become a blackguard, or stop acting Lawful Good.
If your paladin screws up and does a complete 180 on his personality he probably shouldn't have been a paladin in the first place.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Loreweaver » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:28 am

I very much agree with the three posts above. I think a paladin must, by nature, try to live up to an impossible ideal (whatever form that takes for them), but that this is a separate thing from adhering to their code, which sets high but realistic standards. That code represents a lawful aspect of their class and should be dedicated foremost to the good aspect of their deity's teachings. The worship of that deity, the strict adherance to that part of their teachings and the determined pursuit of the ideal are matters of faith, not temple bureaocracy.

It may be that there are situations where adhering to sworn oaths and firm beliefs gets in the way of a quicker or more widely supported solution, and so a paladin may be pressured or tempted to take the easy way out. Similarly, it may be that they act on a complex situation without giving it due thought and find in hindsight they've overlooked something important. That is a good reason to correct mistakes and seek atonement, which effectively prevents a paladin from falling. I understand some DMs believe they should watch paladins closely and pounce on the slightest deviation to declare a fall, (down to, say, hiding a good orc in the bunch and then blaming the paladin for killing them without using Detect Evil first) but that is not TER's approach.
Falling implies the paladin is either unapologetic for their failure to uphold their beliefs under stress or is constantly apologizing for all manner of failures, or performs an act which is so greatly opposed to their deity's teachings that it cannot be reconciled with being a representative of the faith. It's not flung at a character lightly, and rarely comes out of the blue.

With regards to the Blackguard, a fallen paladin may believe that the vows they took are too restrictive in light of the world outside the temple, and they may feel abandoned by the institution, and even have said goodbye to their deity, but the switch to hurting everyone and destroying the world is entirely disproportionate and not a logical response from someone with a paladin's wisdom and precision and restraint - even if that didn't carry them as far as it should have.
In addition, even in the most brutal case of losing paladin powers, there is no instant shift to an evil alignment. No devil is drawn to their inherent cruelty to take oaths of service to itself and the cause of evil (though finding a devil and swearing such would certainly result in a fall). Like all PrCs, the path to becoming a Blackguard is a deliberate one, and life as a paladin is not the likely route towards it.

I get the impression that falling is nevertheless a major concern for paladin players, based on the fact that many of the codes I see use very general terms (fight evil, protect the weak etc.). Such guidelines are very open to interpretation and actions are very difficult to test against them. Perhaps I'm mistaken and it's simply about a concern that overly detailled codes turn paladins into robots, with a clear direction for what to do in any situation. Perhaps there are other reasons instead. But personally I would always want a specific code for my paladins, and it surprises me that not more people seem to detail such a fundamental yet personal aspect of the class.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Bentusi16 » Wed Nov 23, 2016 12:53 pm

It's not about breaking the law, BTW, IMO, since this isn't the 21st century and the idea of suing someone for a bar brawl is kind of not a thing.

It's that a bar brawl destroys property. Take the brawl outside and fight in the back alley for all a paladin cares, but don't disturb his drinking.

People back in the day used to take a much different stance towards violence. A punch up in a bar isn't that big a deal; edged weapons are. Anyone flashes steel and that's when the paladin gets involved.

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Re: Community - Common Paladin Roleplay Mistakes

Postby Loreweaver » Wed Nov 23, 2016 2:35 pm

I'd like to correct that statement.
If we're talking about suing, any Impilturan is welcome to present any grievance to their lord for a judgement (although they haven't the authority to judge more serious crimes). It's usually a bad idea to waste anyone's time with trivial grievances but the option is there.

In addition, there are several legal grounds for intervention and punishment. It could be considered assault or disturbing the peace, for instance. Not that the punishment will be particularly severe, but it can be pretext enough to give people time to cool off in a cell while the damages to property and healing expenses are determined. That does require there is a fight first, but the paladin in this case can certainly remind would-be brawlers of the consequences and the paladin's willingness to follow through on the possibilities.

If weapons are drawn, you are quite right that the situation escalates to a more serious offense. Many people do carry a knife in their belt for general purposes, but would think twice about using it in a bar brawl.

As a point of interest, Impilturan hospitality implies that the head of the household you're visiting is in charge of keeping you safe, and that also extends to taverns. Because of that, it's considered a touch rude to carry weapons and armour into such places - it implies you feel your host won't be able to fulfill these responsibilities - and equally to intervene when safety is threatened. The barkeep may nevertheless be glad that concerned citizens or people of authority keep an eye open and nip trouble in the bud, but it would not be considered entirely proper.

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