A half-elven paladin
A paladin is a holy crusader, crusading in the name of his or her deity, and a divine spellcaster. Though paladins are typically considered lawful good, evil paladins and those of non-lawful alignments can exist, though all paladins must be of the exact alignment of their patron deity. All paladins are expected to be a paragon of their alignment and a model for others of their faith.
Perhaps the best known paladin of Toril was Gareth Dragonsbane, who later went on to become the king of Damara, as well as the renowned Piergeiron Paladinson, an Open Lord of Waterdeep. Scyllua Darkhope and Aribeth de Tylmarande are infamous examples of fallen paladins, both formerly of Tyr, with Scyllua becoming a paladin of Bane instead.
Most paladins serve actual gods, though a few act as champions of a primordial, demon, or devil though in the latter two cases they must commit atrocities such as the sacrifice of sapients in order to retain their powers. All paladins, regardless of whom they serve and how they act, are expected to serve as sworn defenders of the faithful, smiting the unholy.
Lawful good gods most commonly call upon paladins, making most paladins of the alignment. As a result, most commoners view the paladin to be, by default, lawful good, though this is not necessarily true. Paladins who do worship good or lawful gods tend towards the worship of gods such as Chauntea or her aspect Yondalla, Ilmater, Kelemvor, Mystra, Jergal, Lathander, Moradin, Sune, or Torm. Azuth, Helm, and Tyr were also common choices before their deaths. All paladins adhere to a code of some sort, though, logically, this code would be looser for chaotic paladins than it would be for lawful ones. It is from this code that paladins derive their nature as the purist champions of whatever cause they serve.
Few, if any, paladins truly “choose” their career and becoming a paladin is more like answering a call to destiny. It is generally said that becoming a paladin is something that is either within one's nature or not and though an individual may reject the divine call that beckons them, none can become a paladin who does not hear it. Most who do answer the call begin their training early in life, often as adolescents. Many become the squires or assistants to more experienced paladins, training for years before they come into their own as champions of the divine. Others hear or answer the call only late in life, after having pursued a different career. But all paladins, regardless of origins, so long as they share the same alignment, see in one another a common brotherhood. Comparatively, paladins do not get along quite as well with other companions, with the exception of clerics of the same alignment, particularly when those companions are of opposing alignments.
Many paladins are human or half-elves, whose sense of ambition and purpose makes the two races excellent champions of an ideal or the divine. Dwarves are in some ways, due to their cultural tradition of discipline and religious devotion, well-suited for the life of a paladin, though it means putting ideals before family and clan, which can be hard on dwarves. However, shield dwarves make uncommonly good paladins in many cases. Dragonborn also make good paladins, but because few are truly religious, their numbers are small. Elven and eladrin paladins are also relatively rare, partially due to the chaotic tendencies of both races. Among other races, paladins are far rarer still, with the exception of strongheart halflings. Paladins can also be found widely in the regions of Cormyr, the Dalelands, Damara, Impiltur, Silverymoon, and Waterdeep. Before the Spellplague many also came from Luiren and Mulhorand.
Paladins, like clerics, are granted their divine powers, known as prayers, through strength of faith and devotion to their divine patron, and like clerics can enhance these prayers with a holy symbol. Paladins have the ability to funnel the power of their patron through their own body in a prayer known as channel divinity. This power allows paladins a number of abilities, such as warding off a malign effect on an ally or increasing the power of their attacks. Paladins may have special variations of channel divinity dependent on the specific god they worship, with a paladin of Bahamut and one of Oghma having different abilities.
In battle paladins are exceptionally good combatants, equivalent in power to fighters or swordmages, trained in the use of all forms of armor and most melee weapons. Lightly powered offensive prayers are frequently called strikes and can be wielded by trained paladins on a frequent basis. Moderately powerful offensive prayers wielded by paladins in battle are known commonly as smites and are tiring enough that most paladins require a short rest before using a particular smite again. Most if not all strikes and smites require a paladin to be wielding a weapon when casting. Paladins can also use their divine power to protect their allies, scorching foes who attack their companions with radiant power that interferes with the enemy's attacks.
Paladins are also trained in healing, though to a lesser extent than clerics. In particular, all paladins know the lay on hands prayer, which instantly heals the wounds of a comrade and helps them get back on their feet.
Many paladins have other abilities to aid them in their journey. Many good paladins, for instance, have the capacity to detect evil within their presence. Many paladins also have immunity to all diseases, including magical diseases such as mummy rot or lycanthropy and several of these have the ability to remove diseases from others. Other paladins are incapable of fear and are capable of bestowing this immunity on allies. And while turn undead is a prayer most commonly used by clerics many paladins are also capable of it. It is also traditional for paladins to be trained in riding and several paladins own mounts, who are often gifted with sapience and supernatural strength as a boon by the paladin's divine patron.
All of these abilities are granted at the behest of the paladin's patron and paladins are bound to serve this patron. If a paladin violates the code of conduct laid down by his or her patron, then they are typically deprived of their divine abilities. A paladin cannot regain these abilities without appealing to their patron and atoning for their “sins” in the appropriate manner.
Though all paladins share a number of abilities, much of their philosophy towards battle and abilities gained from their god depend on how they choose to carry out their divine duty. Most paladins belong to one of the following practices.
By far the most martial of all the paladin variants, ardent paladins feel it is their sacred duty to represent the wrath of their god, much like an avenger. This extends to abandoning some of the caution and careful defense of most other paladins and of all the varying paladin schools, those who act as ardent paladins do so with the least regard for their own safety, throwing themselves into the fray with righteous zeal, in order to punish the heathen. To assist this in this task, ardent paladins generally forsake the lay on hands prayer most paladins use, instead wielding the ardent vow prayer, making their attacks all the more deadly. As might be expected, ardent paladins generally regard physical strength as their most important attribute, with high perceptiveness and wisdom being an important secondary feature as a means by which to access their god's power. Ardent paladins are less concerned with strong leadership, however, instead honing their constitution. Many ardent paladins prefer two-handed weapons, in order to deal the most lethal blows possible.
Avenging paladins feel, more than anything, that it is literally their godsworn mission to vanquish those whose actions and goals oppose their deity's, either directly or indirectly. Enemies of the unholy, avenging paladins feel that the best way to protect the faithful is to ensure that their enemies are either destroyed or routed completely, and avenging paladins focus their training as such, preferring exceptionally deadly prayers over those that may heal or otherwise defend. To become the deadliest holy soldiers possible, avenging paladins put their prime focus on training their physical strength, though like all paladins they consider willpower and strength of personality to be vital components towards serving their god faithfully. Most avenging paladins prefer large, two-handed weapons,with which they can cause the most possible damage to infidels.
Protecting paladins take the “defender of the faithful” role of the paladin to its logical conclusion. Protecting paladins not only defend their friend and allies from enemy attack, but they take on the role of a substitutional cleric, healing and bolstering the abilities of their allies as well. This comes at the cost of sheer lethality and prayers used by protecting paladins tend to be less deadly, though with the benefit of positive secondary effects. Inspiring leaders and possessed of a strong will beyond that of many other paladins, protecting paladins are less concerned with physical strength and of all the paladins tend to possess the least common sense, perhaps because they are so sure of their role and their god's commandments. Protecting paladins favor one-handed melee weapons used in concert with a shield, preferably a heavy one, which lower their capacity for damage while bolstering their defense.
While most paladins see themselves as the champions of their faith through the way in which they act, virtuous paladins believe it is just as important that a paladin look to inspire others to similar degrees of piety. Virtuous paladins use their holy symbols far more often than other paladins, and work to protect the faithful while also preserving their own lives. Unlike other paladins, virtuous paladins often use ranged attacks alongside melee ones. For those of the virtuous paladin, a shield and melee weapon are the most common arms, though paladins more often seek to inspire with strong leadership or use strong judgment in what they do than to train their physical power, though they still value strength as an important part of their livelihood.
- Ajantis Ilvastarr
- Aribeth de Tylmarande
- Kalen Dren
- Imbrar II
- Gareth Cormaeril
- Gareth Dragonsbane
- Keldorn Firecam
- Mischa Waymeet
- Piergeiron Paladinson
- Scyllua Darkhope
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 90. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons, p. 6. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, p. 78-79. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 41. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 26. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 25-26. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 54. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 193-199. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, p. 132-137. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 89. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 92-99. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 91. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 42-43. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 43. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Richard Baker, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (July 2009). Divine Power, p. 82. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4982-3.