Monday, September 7, 2009

The Paladin

I've never played a Paladin.

Pretty hard to believe, I know. After all, who hasn't played a Paladin, at least once in their D&D career?

Honestly, the character never interested me. Sure, I played more than my fair share of Bards (the Bard was the ultimate multi-tasker, having spells, thief skills and being okay in combat) and I played an awful lot of Clerics. You're thinking, the whole idea of the Paladin is pretty cool, what's not to like about him?
For some reason I never got into the Paladin, though. I always felt he was (1) unnecessary because a Paladin is basically a Cleric with a sword and (2) part of the general power creep that started in AD&D and never stopped.

I posted earlier about my character creation method. As long as the sum of your character's ability scores is between 63 and 69 (average of between 10.5 and 11.5 per ability) we're gonna get along just fine.

Here's the problem with my 69-sum character generation method and the AD&D Paladin. In order to be an AD&D Paladin, you need the following minimum stats:

Str 12
Int 9
Wis 13
Con 9
Dex (no minimum)
Cha 17

Assuming you actually roll these scores, and the 69-sum ability score method is adhered to, then, based on the above minimum stats for a Paladin, the maximum Dexterity you can roll will be a 9. And using the 69-sum method already has a built-in power-creep factor of an extra point on every ability score (average 11.5 instead of 10.5).

In addition, in order for your Paladin to get the 10% experience bonus in AD&D, you need a Strength of 16 and Wisdom of 16 (ability scores in excess of 15). So to get your experience bonus, you either have a Dexterity of 2, or you need at least a sum of 70 to have a Dexterity of 3. Is this why all Paladins are bumbling pretty-boys?

Frankly, i'm not even sure why a Paladin needs a minimum Charisma of 17. There does not seem to be any Paladin AD&D ability tied to the high Charisma. He does not get any special leadership advantages for being a Paladin. He doesn't even get a retinue of followers or men-at-arms at name-level.

The Paladin, as defined in the AD&D rule-set, raised the bar for every other player, as in order to be competitive with the player playing the Paladin, you had to have your own stats at his level as well. And so power creep was institutionalized in AD&D, and all the D&D iterations that followed.


Anonymous said...

I'm unashamed to say I've always hated the Paladin class and have never played one. Never have allowed it as an option when I DM either.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm with you, to the extent that I am not a fan of the Paladin class as presented and perpetuated from AD&D onwards.

If someone wanted to play a Paladin in one of my games, I think I would let them, so long as it is was basically a reflavored Fighter or Cleric, no additional abilities, unless the special abilities are balanced out by a loss of some other ability.

For example, if the Paladin ended up being a relavoured Cleric with a sword, I might put restrictions on the Cleric spells. If the Paladin ended up being a reflavoured Fighter, I might restrict the hit point advancement to Clerical hit points.

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