Wait a minute! There’s already a Knight class in WHAT (Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir), isn’t that the same thing? Well, yes and no. WHAT defines a Knight as an elite fighter skilled in the use of a sword.
While a Paladin is indeed a Knight, he or she is also something more. We first encounter the word in description of Charlemagne’s 12 most trusted knights. The word “Paladin” came into English through medieval French from dark age Italian, which inherited the word from ancient Latin. The literary and probably fictional 12 Paladin’s of Chrlemagne’s court play the same role as Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. The word meant “Imperial” denoting direct service to a ruler or prince. In both English and French literature, the Paladin championed the causes of his prince. So a Paladin, by definition. is a ruler’s trusted champion.
Like the Barbarian discussed before, the Paladin class was not at first in Dungeons & Dragons. The Paladin first appeared in Supplement 1 Greyhawk in 1975. According to accounts, the Paladin character class was heavily influenced by the character Holger Carlson from Poul Anderson’s novel “Three Hearts and Three Lions.”
What separates a Paladin from a knight in fantasy literature is often some form of divine intervention or interference. By remaining righteous and pure, the Paladin not only recieves divine strength, but also the ability to heal and redeem.
Like the Knight class, a Paladin doesn’t necessarily have to be a noble. In Elizabeth Moon’s trilogy, “The Deed of Paksenarrion”, a sheep farmer’s daughter runs away from home the night before her wedding and joins the army where she eventually becomes a Paladin. The same twist of fate occurs in David Weber’s “Oath of Swords” where a Hradani steppe warrior (a type of almost ogre sized Orc/Elf combination), who has little use for humans or gods, is chosen by the god of war to be a Paladin. I really liked Paksenarrion and if some of us (me, for instance) would have had sense, we’d also have run away the night before our weddings.
Creating a Paladin in WHAT
Creating a Paladin in WHAT is actually very straight forward. You begin with the Knight Class and give your Paladin the Swordsman attribute. For a 2nd attribute, the Paladin gets Healing. If the Paladin is a Star, then a good third attribute is Terrifying. Terrifying comes into play in that there is a divine aura surrounding the Paladin weakening the opponents will to fight.
In addition, the Paladin wears plate armor giving him or her an armor class of 6 (AC6). If not wielding a two handed weapon, a Paladin will always have a shield.
In earlier editions of D&D, and some other RPGs, the Paladin had to have an alignment of Lawful Good, which is equivalent to Red Sun Alignment in WHAT. Recent editions of RPGs require the Paladin to have the alignment which matches his deity. Whenever a Paladin loses faith or otherwise changes alignment he loses all of his attributes and can no longer be a member of the Knight Class.
An over-zealous Paladin is often a pain in the rear (like the Cleric, but that’s another story). If your Paladin is consumed with a zealous righteousness, then it makes sense that his People Skill will be lower than his Rep.
A Different Kind of Paladin
My first exposure to a Paladin was not medieval literature, but through television way back in a previous century – a show about a white knight in black with a business card:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the Paladin and have gotten a little inspiration on how to create a Paladin character for your WHAT campaigns and encounters. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. One last bit of trivia, 24 episodes of Have Gun – Will Travel were written by Gene Roddenberry who we all know for creating one James Tiberius Kirk. So, Live Long and Prosper – and always roll below your Rep!