The Paladin Code (Part I: Why is There a Code)
From the very beginning of the game the paladin has been a class surrounded with contention. In my experience it is the paladin code and what that code means causing most arguments. Many players feel that the code a paladin is required to follow is used by the Game Master as a stick to force their character into certain behaviors.
Game Masters, on the other hand, feel that players want the perks of the class without having to play the class correctly. I doubt anything I say affects the argument one way or the other, but it is a part of the game I have thought about quite often and figured I would share some of those thoughts today and follow up on in later posts.
Why is There a Code?
The concept of the paladin, a holy warrior who was granted amazing power in order to fight evil, existed from the beginning of the game. This power had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was from the gods themselves. If a god was going to grant a human that much power, that god wanted to be assured the paladin would use it as intended. Thus the paladin code was created. This makes sense when you think about it. After all, why would a being as powerful as a god give that power without requiring something in return?
Not only would the god want something in return for granting the paladin power, but it would want to make sure that power didn’t get used for evil. This meant that not only did the god require the paladin to follow a code, but if the paladin did not uphold the code there needed to be someway to take the power away. While most everyone agrees that the concept of the paladin code makes sense, it is the god taking away a paladin’s power that causes problems. This is understandable, no one likes their character to lose powers simply because they did something against their code. The problem is that the paladin code is central to the concept of the class and without that code the paladin simply becomes a somewhat over-powered fighter.
While over time, the game has softened up on the paladin class (which anyone can attest who has played through all five editions* of the game), even in today’s version the code is there. Most people agree there should be a code, but what constitutes violating that code? What happens when that code is violated? All these can be hotly debated topics. I am going to explore this debate in future posts, but for now I need to let you all go.
In the mean time, I would love to hear from other people. If you have thoughts about the Paladin and the Paladin code, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below. Until next time, happy gaming!
*The game actually has more than five editions and there are grognards that will point this out so I figured I would point it out first :P