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The Paladin: Expanding the Boundaries of Faith, Part II

The Paladin: Expanding the Boundaries of Faith, Part II

The Knight of the Sun by Arthur HughesLast time I laid out the argument that in a Pathfinder game, a paladin should not be limited to only the lawful good alignment (or, in the case of the antipaladin, chaotic evil). Following that line of logic, I present to you the first of my paladin archetypes: the justicar, paladin of order. To use these rules you will need the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, and it would help to also have the Advanced Player’s Guide.

The Justicar

The justicar is the most trusted warrior of those gods who hold themselves to higher purposes than mere morality, usually gods of such lofty aspects such as fate, death, and law itself. Such paladins view the world not in a contrast of good and evil but of law versus anarchy, of order versus chaos. The paladins that follow this course do not care any more than the average person about morals—only what is the lawful course and what their deity commands of them.

The justicar is a class that serves well in a party where the characters act within the law but may take actions that are not exactly good; where a standard paladin would likely prohibit the barbarian from collecting ears of fallen foes as trophies or insist that the ranger use abilities for altruistic purposes instead of charging a fee. tThe justicar cares only for order and stability and would have no problem as long as both obeyed the laws of the land.

As an NPC, the justicar is perfect for use as an antagonist that provides a moral quandary to the PCs; he is not evil in and of himself, though the authority he serves may be, and good PCs may find it hard to justify killing him or be drawn into debate with him over his service.

Role: A justicar is a paragon of order and law, impartial and fair. While they are willing to travel with most any other adventurer, their goal is to uphold and enforce order, and it is rare for them to travel with those who oppose such actions unless there is a greater goal to be served by doing so.

The justicar uses the following changes to the standard paladin rules:

Alignment: Lawful neutral

Aura of Law (Ex): The power of the justicar’s aura of law (see the detect law spell in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook) is equal to his paladin level. This replaces the aura of good ability.

Detect Chaos (Sp): As the paladin’s detect evil ability, except that the justicar detects chaos instead of evil; see the detect chaos spell.

Smite Chaos (Su): As the paladin’s smite evil ability, except that the justicar’s ability only functions against those of chaotic alignment and chaotic outsiders.

Order’s Hand (Su): As lay on hands except that it may be used to heal lawful creatures or to harm chaotic creatures with a touch attack. When the justicar gains this ability, he or she may also choose to heal or harm neutral creatures; after this choice is made it cannot be changed, and the target takes or heals only half the amount rolled.

This ability is modified by any feat, spell, or effect that specifically works with the lay on hands paladin class feature. For example, Extra Lay on Hands grants a justicar two additional uses of the order’s hand class feature.

Mandate (Su): This ability functions as either the mercy class feature of the paladin (affecting only lawful creatures) or the cruelty class feature of the antipaladin (affecting only chaotic creatures). Once selected at 3rd level, this cannot be changed.

Channel Lawful Energy (Su): As channel positive energy, except that the justicar may choose to either heal lawful creatures in the burst or harm chaotic creatures in the burst.

Spells: As the paladin class feature, except that the justicar may choose to cast either cure or cause spells at the time he gains spells; the justicar may choose only one, and this cannot be changed once selected. At the GM’s discretion, the justicar may not have a choice as his or her deity may grant only one or the other to such servants.

Duty’s Bond (Sp): As divine bond. The vicious weapon property replaces the holy weapon property on the list of available properties for the weapon bond. For the mount, at 11th level the justicar’s mount becomes an outsider with the lawful and native subtypes instead of a magical beast with the celestial template, and it gains immunity to mind-affecting spells and effects.

Order’s Judgement (Su): As the aura of justice class feature, with the justicar sharing his or her smite chaos ability with allies; chaotic creatures gain no benefit from this ability.

Implacable Aura (Su): As aura of faith, except that weapons are treated as lawful for overcoming damage reduction.

Aura of Honor (Su): As aura of righteousness, except that the justicar gains DR 5/chaotic.

Instrument of Order (Su): As the holy champion class feature, applying all bonuses to the relevant alternate class abilities and rules given for the justicar.

Code of Conduct: A justicar must be of lawful neutral alignment and loses all class abilities except proficiencies if he or she ever willingly breaks a law or disobeys the order of a rightful authority, the only exceptions being if such laws or orders would violate the tenets of his or her faith. In areas where there is no established law or rightful authority, the paladin follows his or her own judgment and the tenets of faith, but must maintain discipline and composure as far as is possible.

Associates: Any lawful or neutral characters are considered acceptable companions, but a justicar will not travel long with anyone who offends his or her code of ethics. A justicar may travel with anyone he or she wishes, as long as they are not wanted for crimes or act against the rightful authority of the land to the justicar’s knowledge; the exception is if a justicar is transporting a prisoner back to stand trial. A justicar may travel with chaotic characters if doing so will combat a greater threat to the greater order or if he or she is attempting to reform such a character; in such cases the justicar will end the association as soon as he or she feels there is no benefit to the order of the world to be gained. A justicar may only accept cohorts who are of lawful neutral alignment, but may accept henchment and followers of any lawful alignment.

Ex-Justicars: The same rules apply for a justicar as for other paladins. If he or she violates the justicar’s code of conduct or ceases to be lawful neutral, the justicar loses all class abilities except for proficiencies and cannot take more levels in justicar until he or she atones as per the atonement spell.

These rules, of course, should not be set in stone. I present them for your use as you see fit, to alter as you need to fit your campaign, and/or leave to up to your GM to decide how they may be used. For more options, check back for my next installment of this series and the rules for the despot: the lawful evil paladin.

8 thoughts on “The Paladin: Expanding the Boundaries of Faith, Part II”

  1. I like it. But the name is the same as a variant on the Inquisitor from Rogue Genius Games. I’d have to come up with a different class name for it.

  2. (Long comment incoming, hopefully the formatting doesn’t get all squished together.)
    The problem I see with alternate alignment paladins is perfectly demonstrated here. The justicar has had many of the good/evil abilities of the paladin/antipaladin reskinned with the law/chaos descriptors, but that doesn’t really help the justicar in his duties.

    “A justicar is a paragon of order and law, impartial and fair.”

    So this guy is all about the law, I am not sure I’d include fair in that statement, but so be it. Now imagine having these abilities granted to you and being in this position. You survey the city street, and detect chaos on several of the citizens. Now what?

    Chaos in and of itself does not automatically mean the person is a law breaker, they might just be inherently disorderly without actually breaking laws. The knowledge gained offers nothing to someone who is a servant of the law. Likewise just because a creature is lawful doesn’t mean they might not have done something unlawful, just that it isn’t the norm for them. Then there are neutrals, a neutral thief would have complete immunity to both detection and smiting from this guy. To change things up, lets instead assume this is a justicar of a deity of death, and wants to stop undead and the like, again, his abilities do not actually aid him in this task, a lawful evil lich could walk right in front of him with a hat of disguise and the justicar be none the wiser.

    Paladin alternatives for different alignments need more thought into not how to reskin abilities, but what abilities would actually be useful to someone in that roll.


    Detect Transgression: The justicar is able to detect those who have recently broken a law or command sacred to his order. The justicar uses this ability as per detect evil, but instead of detecting a specific alignment he instead detects the tainted remnant of the act which is unholy to him. The more severe the transgression the more vivid the target’s aura appears, and the color may give clues as to the nature of the transgression.

    Some additional rules could be made the determine how long the taint remains, and then the coloration of the aura could say if it was violent, etc. This provides the lawful character a keen edge in hunting those his order is dedicated against, with archetypes for different orders perhaps.

    Poetic Justice (Replaces smite evil): A justicar may target a single foe who has violated one of the laws or commands sacred to his order, the target then receives a curse appropriate to the nature of his crime. (Oathbreaking might instill penalties to social skills, violent crimes might weaken his to hit and ac, etc)

    Other abilities like the lawful/chaos version of lay on hands, or channel energy likewise do not really help in the justicar’s role, there is instead an opportunity here to really make a fun variant, but just switching the alignment descriptors doesn’t do it – Cough – justice.

  3. Ah, cannot edit the comment, didn’t mean to submit it yet.

    That starts off probably as a bit more negative than I intended. I like the article, it got me thinking for sure, and I know several players who enjoy playing the 3.5 chaotic good paladin variant. (Paladin of freedom I think it was called.) I do like the fact you went lawful neutral, someone needs to oppose all those mad PC’s going around with their chaotic neutral alignments.

  4. MrWakka, the Detect spells don’t automatically find auras on the level 1 commoners walking around. The spell requires special circumstances or beings of a particularly strong affinity for an alignment before the spell reacts. It is an extremely common misconception that paladins can just go about detecting evil in every little person, even if they don’t plan to smite them, but that isn’t true.

    For instances, any non-Undead, non-Outsider, non-Cleric creature whose alignment is chaotic evil will not even register on the spell until it has at least 5 hit dice, and from 5-10 hit dice, the aura still only registers as “faint.” So that chaotic evil rogue in the party is free from the paladin’s prying eyes for a while, unless he’s obvious about his activities.

  5. This is true, it was intended to be a simple example. But lets go with a level 6 chaotic neutral commoner(A famous brewer checking to see if his supplies had arrived), a level 1 cleric (of a deity of travel and exploration who likes the open road and not being tied down), and an bralani in disguise (having been summoned by an unrelated cleric via planar ally and agreed to perform a mission.)

    A lot of this could also apply for a normal paladin as well, however, Detect/Smite Chaos in a campaign of good aligned PC’s is also less useful than that of Detect/Smite Evil, as while the good guys are likely going to be taking on evil, not all BBEG are as likely to be chaotic. The odds are that unless the campaign is focused around a chaos themed villain his ability to smite is going to be less useful than a normal paladin. Knowing someone is evil is also a more telling clue than if someone is chaotic, it means the person is powerful enough or dedicated enough to do harm, and is inclined to do so. The above brewer might just be an independent spirit who likes to brew his beer but chafes at what he considers burdensome taxes, the regulations associated with his license to brew, and hops import laws.

    Then we have his lay on hands which while being able to affect chaotic creatures as an attack is interesting, also prohibits using it to heal a non-lawful ally or bystander, but then other than to mirror a paladin, why? Channeling energy becomes potentially much less useful as using it to harm enemies is less likely to be as easy to determine, and you are likely to hit at least one party member as well, and to heal is likely to miss a fair portion of the party. It takes the somewhat niche abilities of the paladin, which due to the nature of adventuring groups are commonly used, and makes them even more niche and less easily used, without really compensating in a meaningful way.

  6. I would reference Eberron at this point that chaotic doesn’t mean they are anarchists and as a follower of law they can’t attack someone just because they aren’t lawful, the exception being a dictator or tyrant which does enact such a law. So unless those examples are known criminals or are currently breaking the law a Justicar couldn’t just attack them without breaking the laws they uphold. He could follow and maybe be suspicious of them but not do anything without breaking his code. Just as a normal paladin couldn’t just attack someone who is evil.

  7. M Grancey, that is kind of my point, though I may be doing a poor job of making it.

    Detecting evil on someone probably means they are up to no good, and if you are meeting with the local warriors against the local evil wizard, and the contact you’ve never met before pops as evil it is probably wise to suspect something.

    Whereas detecting chaos doesn’t really help, you might even expect them to be chaotic, and not being chaotic also doesn’t reveal much. It just isn’t as useful an ability.

    The ability to detect and smite chaos doesn’t aid a divine warrior of law find lawbreakers. Imagine if when a police officer ran someones name, instead of giving a potential criminal record it instead said they were a libertarian.

  8. MrWakka, I understand where you’re coming from, but you also have to admit that in the arbitrary terms of the system, Chaos IS the opposite of Law, and chaotic characters are not going to hold the respect for the law that a lawful character feels they should.

    Ultimately it comes down to GM discretion. A lot of people might find your initial suggestion to be more realistic in terms of roleplay, but in terms of gameplay it becomes a lot of work for the GM. Easily identified and quantified factors such as alignment and hit dice make the game flow better even if they aren’t realistic, and it’s up to the players and the GMs to find the right balance between the two for their games.

    This kind of thing is why I keep the disclaimer that nothing is set in stone; *I* like the way the rules are set up here, but clearly you have issues with them. This doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, just that we have different preferences for our games. Use what parts of the build you like and change what you don’t for your games; ultimately it’s about you having fun in your games.

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