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[Column] General: On the Subject of Paladins

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Paladins are everybody's favorite good guy to pick on in most MMOs. But what are paladins? What makes them tick? How true are those found in games compared to paladins in history? Find out in today's Fair Game before heading to the comments.

Me? I always play the paladin. Even in games that don’t specifically have a paladin class, I play a paladin. Unfortunately, it seems that paladins get a bad rap in the gaming universe. Labeled everything from “Lawful Stupid” to prissy “Policemen”, paladins are largely perceived to be dim-witted goody-goodies, more invested in throwing themselves at lost causes and upholding the letter of the law than with doing actual good or maintaining certain principles.

Read more of Lisa Jonte's Fair Game: On the Subject of Paladins.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    I always play Paladins.

    I like the Holy Warrior vibe - but I agree I think it doesn't need to be all cookie-cutter clean shaven no-blemishes pompous.

    I think the way they described and portrayed the character of Balian in the movie Kingdom of Heaven is like - my ideal representation of Paladin.

    "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god.  Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is *in your mind and in your heart* and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."

    Usually the Warrior archetypes are always based on like Rage or Bleed effects etc. and are much more Barbarian or Brawler than Knight.

     

  • bill4747bill4747 Lynn, MAPosts: 202Member
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    I always play Paladins.

    I like the Holy Warrior vibe - but I agree I think it doesn't need to be all cookie-cutter clean shaven no-blemishes pompous.

    I think the way they described and portrayed the character of Balian in the movie Kingdom of Heaven is like - my ideal representation of Paladin.

    "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god.  Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is *in your mind and in your heart* and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."

     

    That is a great quote!

    I play a lot of paladins in pen and paper rpgs, and I can see using that quote as a mantra for an order of holy warriors that do not follow a specific church.

     

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member
    Originally posted by bill4747
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    I always play Paladins.

    I like the Holy Warrior vibe - but I agree I think it doesn't need to be all cookie-cutter clean shaven no-blemishes pompous.

    I think the way they described and portrayed the character of Balian in the movie Kingdom of Heaven is like - my ideal representation of Paladin.

    "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god.  Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is *in your mind and in your heart* and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."

     

    That is a great quote!

    I play a lot of paladins in pen and paper rpgs, and I can see using that quote as a mantra for an order of holy warriors that do not follow a specific church.

    Yeah that movie really clicks if you agree with the ideal that goodness, justice, and true virtue can and often does exist outside the confines of organized religion and traditional definitions of faith.

    I don't like the Paladin as the Holy warrior smiting heathens in the name of God kind of thing - that's more Templar or Crusader/Inquisitor type to me.

    But the righteous warrior - the lawful good or often even Neutral good Knight following a "higher" sense of morality and honorable conduct.

  • DCM_ChaosDCM_Chaos Plainfield, INPosts: 4Member Common
    I model most of the Paladin-like toons I play after Wolfwood from Trigun ;)
  • ZoeMcCloskeyZoeMcCloskey Phoenix, AZPosts: 1,147Member Uncommon

    I love Paladins, I love having them in any game I run.  Not just because they are easy to point in a direction either.  I am the storytelller almost always, like 99.9% of the time, just started up a VtM game, yeah old school style. 

     

    However when it comes to playing them it is more rare.  I did play a Monkadin once mostly associated with Sune.  Recovering artwork and such is serious business....uh

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  • ComputerJuiceComputerJuice Portland, ORPosts: 17Member

    IDK about Lawful Stupid... lawful aarogant definately.   I think about palladins like this: " I AM MIGHTY... BACKED BY THE HAND OF GOD!".

    Seems most MMO's & RPG's (including d&d) the Pally's are always OP.   Not surprising really if you think about it, boiled down its like a warrior with extra shiny armor & holy power.   Id say its difficult to not make them OP when its one "regular class" with extras.

  • bill4747bill4747 Lynn, MAPosts: 202Member
    I think Neutral Good fits 'Do Gooder' Paladins betetr than Lawful Good.
  • jesteralwaysjesteralways ChittagongPosts: 1,017Member Uncommon
    I always play paladin. as paladin i always try to be a good guy because i picture the paladin as such and i also fantasize about becoming a paladin someday..gehehe. if only i could use divine magic ...(sighs)

    i want an open world, no phasing, no instancing.i want meaningful owpvp.i want player driven economy.i want meaningful crafting.i want awesome exploration, a sense of thrill.i want ow housing with a meaningful effect on my entire gameplay experience, not just some instanced crap.i want all of these free of cost, i don't wanna pay you a cent, game devs can eat grass and continue developing game for me.
    Seems like that is the current consensus of western mmo players.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    In my eyes, the defining attribute of a paladin is a belief that there exists good and evil.  What sort of personalities and behaviours this leads to depends greatly on whether the dungeon master believes there exists good and evil.
  • stevebombsquadstevebombsquad Orlando, FLPosts: 842Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    I always play Paladins.

    I like the Holy Warrior vibe - but I agree I think it doesn't need to be all cookie-cutter clean shaven no-blemishes pompous.

    I think the way they described and portrayed the character of Balian in the movie Kingdom of Heaven is like - my ideal representation of Paladin.

    "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god.  Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is *in your mind and in your heart* and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not."

    Usually the Warrior archetypes are always based on like Rage or Bleed effects etc. and are much more Barbarian or Brawler than Knight.

     

    That is a perfect way to describe a paladin... or at least the image in my mind. I always imagined paladins as knights, and fighters or warriors as more barbarian-like or mercenaries. I always wish that games would have the opposing class to a paladin... like a blackguard from D&D.......

    James T. Kirk: All she's got isn't good enough! What else ya got?

  • OldskooOldskoo Minneapolis, MNPosts: 189Member

    As a D&D DM in my younger days we played 2nd edition and 3.0-3.5 (this was before playing many modern mmos). In our Forgotten Realms campaigns (for those who don't know this is the home realm of Drizt Dourden and Neverwinter) we made a house rule that each religion had  their own paladin/holy knight.

     

    The only alignment requirements were that they must be in line with that of their diety's (or pretty close) and they were required to observe the tenents of their faith much like their priest brethren. I also held to the class requirements as far as charisma, wisdom, etc that one needed to roll to become a Paladin - cuz not everyone is cut out to be a Paladin of course :)

     

    They often wound of being the "sword" or "muscle" of their churches in these campaigns - holy warriors sent out on missions or great crusades for their church. Because the religions are so broad and numerous in Forgotten Realms this allowed many different types of Paladins. Even in the case of the most Lawful Good religions - playing thse paladins as foolish, simpletons who ran into the mouth of hell at a drop of a hat would have resulted in a very short lifespan in our campaigns. 

     

    Now days I think the Paladin class and some of the traditional races, such as elves, orcs, and dwarfs, have been dummied down so much for mmo game purposes that many folks only know them as cheezy stereo types. 

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  • logan400klogan400k Owings Mills, MDPosts: 68Member Uncommon

    Where is the incentive to re-imagine the Paladin? I agree, the characters can be as well rounded and human as any character, but why would a game developer / designer want to take the time to stand sterotypes on their head for an audience that only wants to get to the end game? For the table top crowd adn for writing, sure no doubt it needs to be revisited. For the MMO crowd though, they are the off-tank, off-healer class; druids who are not hippie tree huggers. 

     

    The Paladin is a tragic figure in many ways; dedicated to a cause or a faith or both yet still eminently human and open to human frailty. They are holy soldiers, not necessarily holy warriors though they may act in that regard. I thhink there is a difference there. They have a relationship with the clergy, not always a good one and it depends on which  version of the clergy you decide to use.

     

    To make the paladin open to being more interesting, there are a few things I think that could be adjusted.

     

    • Armor - In a traditional setting a paladin is a kinight, but that does not have to be the case in all settings. Take the paladin out of he armor or at least find a good reason to have him or her there.
    • Divine Powers - let's remove the plethora of diving powers. More skills, more training and miracles that are few and far between, not commonplace.
    • Code of Conduct - Chivalry has to go, especially in non-traditional settings. Its too patriarchal and it covers only faiths of Medieval times. Modernize the code of conduct to appeal to the modern gamer and if in an MMO MAKE IT RELEVANT.
    • Tragic Flaws - Being caught between your god and your friends and family has to count for something. Let's explore those flaws and tragic Catch-22s and as with the Code of Conduct make them relevant to the game.
     
     

    Just My 2 Lunars

  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,441Member Uncommon

    All my fond memories of the PAladin class are from FFXI,they simply do great things with class design.I could go on for days talking about timers and near death experiences and abilities they have or should have.Fond memories of groups i played with.

    This article simply did not touch on Paladins,just a descriptive english article.As a gamer i like to hear the nitty gritty of actual gaming,that is why i game and why i discuss gaming.I don't want to feel like i am a teacher grading some article written for English class.

    I understand this is what Writers do,that is their skill,i prefer actual gamers to talk about gaming i think obviosuly because i don't want to end up reading an article like this,it simply was not interesting to read.


    Samoan Diamond

  • Jerek_Jerek_ tulsa, OKPosts: 409Member

    last weeks column was great and this one is even better.

    I could never play a paladin. To me, a paladin is guantanamo bay personified-  Willing to do whatever it takes and compromise any principle in the name of a cause, even if they have to lie to themselves to do it.

  • SandricSandric Austin, TXPosts: 103Member Uncommon

    Props to your piece. 

    My group (though I don't dice with them anymore much to their annoyance make them do other stuff with me) always made fun of the pally unless someone was being impish and decided to play one for a change of pace.  My and my group's problem with them was compared to the other classes, they really required to much for stats to be as effective and important in the party.  His role also was usually covered by the fighter/barb and the cleric.  Much the same reason the monk was never used (in 3/3.5) by us.

    That said, when I wasn't the thief, I played the bright naive warrior/monk straight out from training in the monastery/church/lordship/whatever and had the character gradually become.. hardened.  He would eventually  come to accept and work with how the world was, not how he idealized it and it wasn't black and white but shades inbetween. 

     

    Major or Current Characters
    AC - The Brute lvl 85 macer -HG (retired)
    SWG - Lihone Su'alkn Master Ranger/ MCH - Flurry (Retired)
    EVE - Sulone - Cruiser Lover (Retired)
    LOTRO - Sandric lvl 50 Burg (and others)- Brandywine (Retired)
    GW2 - Sandric lvl 80 Thief - Dragonbrand (Retired)
    NeverWinter - Sandric lvl 60 Rogue - Dragonshard (Retired)
    Archage - Sandric lvl 50 everything - Naima (Active)
    Others (Lots) (Retired)

  • ariasaitchoariasaitcho Rapid City, SDPosts: 112Member

    In many ways it isn't just the Paladin that has become cookie cutter, cardboard cutout, off tank, off healer. When was the last time you played a game where thieves could actually steal? In most modern mmos thieves are nothing more than agi based warriors in light armor.

     

    Yeah, the "race to the top" so we can be bored and demand more content has pretty much all classes cardboard cutouts of what they should be.  There is very little RPG in MMORPG anymore. Not that I usually care for that. It usually ends up being all thee, thou, m'lord, m'lady crud. Umm the setting isn't mideval Europe, so why are we talking like we're in mideval Europe?

    ;)

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  • LobotomistLobotomist ZagrebPosts: 5,051Member Uncommon

    Lawful-Good is not equivalent of good. Neutral-Good is.

    Lawful Good means the character will always uphold the laws no mather what and without compromise.

    Even doing evil things if they are in order of law.

     

    You have lot of examples in Game of Thrones and kingsguard. Sir Barristan Selmy for example.

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  • TheodwulfTheodwulf Brockton, MAPosts: 231Member Uncommon

     This makes me sad...Does no one get what "Lawful Good" means?

     

    A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

    Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

    Lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

     If you character drinks and cavorts and steals and lies, they are not Lawful Good.

     

    Lawful Good means the character will always uphold the laws no mather what and without compromise.

    Even doing evil things if they are in order of law

    Wrong! They would be Lawful Evil, or the very least Lawful Neutral if they commit an evil act.

     

    I would love to see a real alighnment system in a MMORPG but from reading the comments , people just would not  Get It.

  • CypruskaCypruska San IsidroPosts: 45Member
    Interesting post, mate.
  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,183Member Uncommon
    It is what a Jedi is, a paladin in space so to speak.  The model is always there no matter what era you work with.  
  • OldskooOldskoo Minneapolis, MNPosts: 189Member
    Originally posted by logan400k

    Where is the incentive to re-imagine the Paladin? I agree, the characters can be as well rounded and human as any character, but why would a game developer / designer want to take the time to stand sterotypes on their head for an audience that only wants to get to the end game? For the table top crowd adn for writing, sure no doubt it needs to be revisited. For the MMO crowd though, they are the off-tank, off-healer class; druids who are not hippie tree huggers. 

     

    The Paladin is a tragic figure in many ways; dedicated to a cause or a faith or both yet still eminently human and open to human frailty. They are holy soldiers, not necessarily holy warriors though they may act in that regard. I thhink there is a difference there. They have a relationship with the clergy, not always a good one and it depends on which  version of the clergy you decide to use.

     

    To make the paladin open to being more interesting, there are a few things I think that could be adjusted.

     

    • Armor - In a traditional setting a paladin is a kinight, but that does not have to be the case in all settings. Take the paladin out of he armor or at least find a good reason to have him or her there.
    • Divine Powers - let's remove the plethora of diving powers. More skills, more training and miracles that are few and far between, not commonplace.
    • Code of Conduct - Chivalry has to go, especially in non-traditional settings. Its too patriarchal and it covers only faiths of Medieval times. Modernize the code of conduct to appeal to the modern gamer and if in an MMO MAKE IT RELEVANT.
    • Tragic Flaws - Being caught between your god and your friends and family has to count for something. Let's explore those flaws and tragic Catch-22s and as with the Code of Conduct make them relevant to the game.
     
     

    Interesting ideas Logan. Nice post

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  • MackeskimoMackeskimo Wakanda, LAPosts: 50Member

    Liked the article, good topic.

     

    My chosen in game class is normally Paladin, however, I never took on the eurocentric version of Paladin. 

     

    For example, Chivalry to me is more a notion of justice than patriarchy or some other ridiculous notion. Paladins, in my stories, do what they must to keep the balance, normally tilting towards good, some paladins however are also/ can be lawfully evil. Depending on their notion of justice, may that be to follow the will of his king, clergy, god, or his own heart. Defending the weak and/or comrades in danger was just a part of this personal sense of justice.

     

    Holy powers. i can easily see Paladins without this power, being excellent survivalist, tacticians, charismatic politicians, and master swordsman is qualified enough to lead one's forces. maybe add some Force powers. Similar to what Ozmodan said, I believe jedi are very Paladin-like in nature and depiction of ability.

     

    Paladins, imo are all about their virtues and sense of justice, whatever that may be and I play my paladins, depending on how much I rp, just like that.

     

    The point is I think Paladin has already evolved and became more then it originally was.

     
     
     
     

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  • WylfWylf Brentwood, CAPosts: 159Member
    Another great article, when I read your post I was reminded of Sturm Brightblade a Knight of Solamnia in the Drangonlance Chronicles. A fierce warrior who held true to his own beliefs and  followed a code he believed in, even when no one else did.  To me that is a Paladin.

     

     
  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,441Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ariasaitcho

    In many ways it isn't just the Paladin that has become cookie cutter, cardboard cutout, off tank, off healer. When was the last time you played a game where thieves could actually steal? In most modern mmos thieves are nothing more than agi based warriors in light armor.

     

    Yeah, the "race to the top" so we can be bored and demand more content has pretty much all classes cardboard cutouts of what they should be.  There is very little RPG in MMORPG anymore. Not that I usually care for that. It usually ends up being all thee, thou, m'lord, m'lady crud. Umm the setting isn't mideval Europe, so why are we talking like we're in mideval Europe?

    ;)

    FFXI a Thief can steal.

    I know it might sound biased but i enjoyed FFXI like no other becuase it just did almsot everything right.Teh class designs were exactly how i woudl see them as being played out.

    The Thief not only could steal but they gave him a sneak attack ability,instead of the usual oddly named backstab ability.Also the Thief was given a HIDE ability again it just sounds right,instead of the usual invisible idea which to me in unrealistic,unless you were using some magical cloak of invisibility or a mage cast invisible on you.

    As to the armor theme,i think it is realsitic to have a Paladin in heavy and a Thief in light,it makes sense to me.Also the AGI versus Staminma again makes sense.

    A paladin was done near perfect imo by FFXi,it only faield on timer decisions.I know why they chose long timers,it was to keep from breaking the game,but really they shoudl have realized Paladins are seldom used and deserved a lot more love.

    Paladin could guard/block,cover/shield bash and cast a few spells including healing and raise.He has abilities to enhance defensive abilities which again all makes sense to me.FFXi made the Paladin what you expect a TRUE Tank,the guardian and protector of the group.FFXI also gave him a 2 hour [now 1 hour] ability of invincibility,it further showed off the prowess of a true TAnk but it also was a huge hate mechanic that coudl steal hate back and lock it down from a proficient DPS player.

    Of course like any game,as time goes on developers need to keep overpowering ideas to keep people buyuing their NEXT expansion,so eventually game design becomes messed up or broken,no longer plays as the original design intended.


    Samoan Diamond

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    Originally posted by Lobotomist

    Lawful Good means the character will always uphold the laws no mather what and without compromise.

    I've always seen it a little differently ...

     

    If one acknowledges that lawbreaking people exist then one should also believe that peoplebreaking laws can exist.   Both are corruptions of a paladin's romantic vision of what society could be and both bad people and bad laws can be a paladin's enemy.

     

    If the paladin places a questionable law above a good person, that is drifting into lawful neutral.

     

    If the paladin places a questionable person above a good law, that is drifting into neutral good.

     

    Juding the contradictions where good people and good laws collide is where a paladin's religion comes in.  If the paladin sees their prayers as appeals to a higher court, then yes, the paladin may enforce divine judgement without question.  However, I've also seen a few people play rational paladins who see their divine benefactor as simply another source of laws, not necessarily better laws.

     

    So a lot of the drama around a paladin's choices and whether they end up being a beacon or a parody lays in how harshly the game puts well-meaning people and well-meaning laws into conflict with each other and what sort of divine advice the paladin is given (wihether its the player, the DM or the dice deciding what that advice was).

     
     
     
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