Friday, August 16, 2013

The difference between Clerics and Paladins

Paladins show what possible.
Clerics turns that into something that lasts

In short it not their abilities that set the two aparts but the roles they play in their religion. My view of paladins and what they are is heavily influenced by Elisabeth Moon in her Deed of Paksenarrion series.

Paraphrased From page 579 of the Trade Paperback the Dead of Paksenarrion.
Most think being a holy warrior means gaining vast arcane powers, that they would be nearly invincible against any foe. But truth is that while Paladin are skilled at fighting, that was the least of their abilities. A quest might involve no fighting at all, or a battle against beings no steel could pierce.

Above all paladins show that courage is possible. It is easy enough to find reasons to give in to evil. War is ugly as many know. But we do not argue that war is better than peace; paladin are not that stupid. It is not peace when cruelty reigns, when stronger men steal from farmers and craftmen., when the child can be enslaved, or the old thrown out to starve, and no one lifts a hand. That is not peace: that is conquest and evil.

Paladins do not start quarrels in peaceful lands, never display their skills to earn applause. But we are the sword of good defending the helpless and teaching by our example that one person can dare greater force to break evil's grasp on the innocent. Sometimes that can be done without fighting, without killing, and that is best.

But some evil needs direct attack, and paladins must be able to do it, and lead others in battle. Wonder why paladins are so likable? It is important, we come to a town, perhaps, where nothing has gone right for a dozen years. Perhaps there is a temple there and sometimes there is not. The people are frightened, and they have lost trust in each other, in themselves. We may lead them into danger, some will be killed or wounded. Why should they trust us?

Because we are likable, and other people will follow us willingly. And that's why we are more likely to choose a popular adept as a candidate rather than the best fighters.
To me this is most gamable summary of a DnD style paladin I ever read and the basis for how I referee them. It is the core of what went into the Majestic Wilderlands supplement not only for Paladins but Myrmidons as well.

The Cleric job is work with a specific group, locale, or organization for his religion. Wisdom is required not just for common sense but also the willpower to endure the slow millstone of time that comes along with the job. A paladin will come through, lead the charge to break evil's grasp, and go off on his next quest. Then it become the Cleric's job to pick up the pieces and build something lasting in the name of his god.


Douglas Cole said...

I love Moon's conception and execution of the Paladin srchetype, and have used it in prior games. I'm effectively doing one now, albeit with lower Charisma and Leadership levels, playing a Warrior Saint of Pharasma in a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy/PF Jade Regent mashup. But Moon's paladin is the way I will always see them.

Peter D said...

I agree that's not a bad description of a paladin, but Moon's book felt, to me, like I was reading a mashup of the Players Handbook and The Village of Hommlet. It just felt like I could read the game stats for everyone and everything, and it just kind of turned me off. I finished the first three books through momentum. So I find whenever I read her stuff about paladins I get a little turned off from them. Which is strange, because I think it's a great character type.

Robert Conley said...

The books makes my wife hungry from the lavish description of even "plain" meals.

While I could the AD&D/Hommlet(2nd book) isms for me the world she painted felt like how it would work if a world with denizens of AD&D truly existed. I guess I really like her characterizations.

In her various follow series more unique elements come to the forefront. In particular the idea of the mageborn which is different than those who learn wizardry.

Chris C. said...

This could be the next book on my reading list.

Anonymous said...

I had mixed feelings about Moon's books. They were not bad, particularly the first of the trilogy. It did feel more than a bit contrived towards the end, maybe even more than many of the D&D novels (Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, etc). I am more of a Black Company guy, myself.

anarchist said...

Thanks for this quote.

I'm currently writing an essay for university on the influence of D&D on fantasy fiction, and this will be a useful example.