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Old 04-05-2017, 04:07 PM
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New D&D player, Paladin 5e, seeking advice

Hello everyone,

I have a very tight schedule and can't really dedicate whole evenings to play whole sessions, so this is a really great place for me to start playing. I have watched and listened to D&D shows and podcasts, so I pretty much know the basics, but the core of my question isn't primarily mechanics wise.

let's dive in, I have been reading on the classes, races, etc and I really like the idea of an offensive paladin, which oriented me towards the Oath of Vengeance, I really like it, it gives the character a sense of strong justice, no matter what kind of way, and I really like that, but I'am a little bit worried.

1- What is really considered evil here? I have read that 5e is quite lenient on the way of the Paladin, meaning that the Oath and its tenants are what's most important, the alignment isn't necessarily LG, but what if one of my companions doesn't show mercy towards an enemy? what if he kills a cat lol, does that mean that I would have to turn into a red eyed bull? Or is it more of real evil, monsters, beasts, tyrants, murderers, etc? I really hope you guys get what I mean.

2- Does the oath require me to have a specific race/entity type that i'm vengeful on? Or could it just be evil? Like my sword is the weapon that annihilates evil, whatever it is? a thief stealing after a tragedy, a dragon ravaging a village? Because one of the tenants talks about sworn foes.

I think these are the main issues that lay behind my worry. I really like and know that I'll enjoy this a little bit complicated class and oath so i'm really looking forward to your advice.

Thanks
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Old 04-05-2017, 05:48 PM
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A lot of people do this wrong, which is why 5e is explicitly more lenient about Paladins. In an attempt to stay as far away from the dreaded "ex-paladin" status as possible, a lot of Paladin players in previous editions used the long pole of Lawful Good alternately as a rectum-straightening device and a bludgeon with which to bash their non-good allies any time they didn't give every copper of their treasure to the poor, which is entirely not the point.

D&D MoralityD&D works on a system of moral objectivism, to the point where whether you're "evil" or "good" is a detectable trait. In some cases, it's related to what kind of creature a target is - a demon or devil or undead creature is pretty much always evil. Sometimes it's cultural - orcish raiders and hobgoblin legions are generally evil, but a village of orcs which doesn't spend half its time pillaging human settlements might not be. Beyond that, whether a being is good or evil is generally down to the individual. Alignment to good or evil can shift over time, as a character develops - a person who rules a city-state with an iron fist might not necessarily start out as an evil character, but progressively turn to more and more evil to keep order or to protect their position, or a youthful king who acts as a vengeful tyrant might learn the error of his ways as he matures, and turn away from it.

One good act doesn't make a non-good character suddenly good, and one evil act doesn't suddenly make a non-evil character evil - it takes time or atonement magic for an evil being to become good or vice versa, even if they've decided to turn things around.

The source of objective truth of good and evil in D&D is of course your GM, so this may change a fair bit depending on GMs' interpretations.


To address your questions:
  1. If a party member kills a cat, that fact on its own is not sufficient to determine whether it is an evil action or not, and what to do about it. Your character has to judge the circumstances and the motives, and change how they react to the other character as a result. It's not a matter of going from "friends forever" to "murderous rampage" because someone dropped a heavy thing on a cat by accident while drunk. I would argue that this is true for all characters; the difference if you play a Paladin is that your character can't just turn a blind eye to anything they see as a pattern of evil actions. You have to role-play a confrontation, but if the only kind of confrontation you can think of is "murder the evildoer", then playing Paladins probably isn't for you.

    A Paladin is supposed to have a sense of justice, and if one of their compatriots, whom they have respect for, does something the paladin sees as uncharacteristic and possibly evil, they generally should request an explanation for the behavior or the alleged act, and based on this they are expected to make a value judgement and determine a further cause of action on the matter.

    On the other hand, a Paladin (doubly so a paladin of vengeance) would usually not feel remorse for killing monsters, murderers, or tyrants. Even creatures that are not explicitly evil-aligned (rank-and-file bandits can be non-evil for example) aren't going to pose any moral quandaries if they're threatening a village of starving peasants - and in that context, may not wait to hear the other side of the conflict. GMs can (and good ones will) create situations which are very grey areas, and you need to figure out where to draw the lines yourself based on your character's code. This is made a lot easier if you have that code written down somewhere.

  2. I don't have the 5e book in front of me, but it's probably not requiring your character to have a racial target of hatred (though given the right background, you can have that). Your Paladin powers of holy wrath work on pretty much anything, but a wily GM might make them stop working if for example your character is tricked into fighting someone who didn't do anyone any harm. I confess I can't immedaitely explain what it means by "sworn foes" but I can look at it later - certainly a paladin would be expected to react differently to a dragon pillaging a village than a poor urchin stealing food. It's not your character's sword that's special, though - Paladin powers come from the character's link to the divine (usually a deity, but sometimes a cause) and not from their equipment.
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:09 PM
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Thank you very much for the detailed information very insightful and helpful

And about the weapon, I didn't mean it as a "sword" but more like "I'am the sword of justice that strikes all evil, whatever it is", but you definitely answered that

And I also understand from what you said, that I should take D&D like any other RPG game where something happens and it triggers a reaction in the mind of the PC, but the PC is role played as an actual human being who thinks about what happens, investigates, judges situations, etc
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinzo View Post
And I also understand from what you said, that I should take D&D like any other RPG game where something happens and it triggers a reaction in the mind of the PC, but the PC is role played as an actual human being who thinks about what happens, investigates, judges situations, etc
Exactly. A character class is a set of tools for that character to address problems, but it's also a clue into that character's past experiences and mindset. Paladin and Cleric have the strongest effect on experiences and mindset, but the character is still a thinking being trying to do what they think is best in a situation. Also keep in mind that people - even holy warriors - have their limits. A Paladin doesn't need to go into a homicidal evildoer-slaying rage when any evil act happens within 10 feet, but that reaction may be called for occasionally, in the face of extreme evil.
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Last edited by Aeternis; 04-05-2017 at 06:30 PM.
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