Paladin (character class)

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The Paladin or Templar or Crusader is a character class in Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and many later computer and pen and paper role-playing games - many of which were influenced by D&D. The class is loosely based on the Knight Templar paladins of medieval romance, as holy knights for good and virtue, and usually, but not always, imbued with angelic or godly powers.

Dungeons and Dragons[edit]

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, paladin is one of the base character classes. The paladin is a holy knight, crusading in the name of good and order, and is a divine spell caster. By definition and game restriction, paladins are always of the Lawful Good alignment in DnD 1st-3rd editions. The 4th edition allows the Paladin to match their deity's alignment. Paladin characters are expected to demonstrate and embody goodness and law - they are not supposed to lie or use poison, and some interpretations say they should use stealth, missile weapons, and other forms of impersonal warfare only as a last resort. Switching to any alignment other than Lawful Good or breaching part of the Paladin's code of conduct results in a loss of all class abilities. The paladin is a champion of justice and destroyer of evil protected and strengthened by an array of divine powers. Most of these powers relate to providing benefits to those around the paladin. These include healing and curing of disease, morale in combat and turning of undead. Most of the abilities are similar to but of a lower level than the cleric's abilities.

The classic view of the paladin is that of the knight in shining armor. The character the class was derived from, Holger Carlson from Poul Anderson's novel "Three Hearts and Three Lions", was such a figure, but being a knight is by no means a requirement of being a paladin. They do often join an order, or serve a church, but they can also act on their own.

Later editions brought forward the more generalized concept of the "paladin" just being the pinnacle of combat related to a particular religious organization. This allowed "paladins" of various gods that were of an alignment other than Lawful Good. All "paladins" had a code or set of rules that must be followed but because of the differences in point of view between the alignments the rules governing behavior changed from order to order. This allowed for one of the more heinous villains in the game setting, the "Anti-Paladin" or "Blackguard". A complete and utter opposite of a proper paladin he is one of the dark champions of an evil order. Everything about him is a twisted visage of a paladin. Where the paladin is charismatic in a charming or trustworthy way, an anti-paladin's charisma came from being frightening or manipulative. A paladin's abilities were also mocked with the anti-paladin's abilities like "Harm" "Cause Disease" and "Cause Fear". These were never recommended as player characters.

World of Warcraft[edit]

In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, Paladins were at first a class exclusive to the human and dwarf races of the Alliance. When The Burning Crusade expansion was released, the Horde faction gained these holy warriors with the addition of blood elves, while the draenei race were added to the Alliance faction and given the shaman as a playable class. With the release of the Cataclysm expansion, tauren are also permitted to become Paladins.

In the Warcraft universe's lore, the Paladin was first conceived by Archbishop Alonsus Faol of Northshire Abbey. Faol felt that the contribution to the war effort by pure clerics during the First Great War (Warcraft: Orcs & Humans) would not be sufficient for the battles ahead, and decided to create a more versatile cleric that didn't need protection in combat. Faol's apprentice Lord Uther the Lightbringer became the first Paladin. Uther used his natural leadership skills to rally the best knights of Azeroth to be blessed as Paladins, and formed the Knights of the Silver Hand. In Warcraft II, they were upgraded knights who could heal injured comrades and exorcise undead. At this point, Paladins were amongst the Alliance's most powerful melee units.

By the time of Warcraft III, the Paladin had become a separate class, rather than an upgrade. They were less powerful individual units, and were relegated to more of a support role in combat. In-game, they were Hero units, meaning they could gain experience and improve their abilities. They possessed the weakest direct offensive skills of the four Alliance heroes, instead protecting the troops with their aura, healing and resurrection abilities. During his later life, Uther trained Prince Arthas as a Paladin. In Warcraft III, Arthas was corrupted by the Lich King, and ultimately abandoned the way of the Paladin, killing his father the King and betraying the Alliance to the Scourge. After Uther became possessor of the late King's ashes, he was killed by Arthas, who wished to take possession of the magical urn containing the ashes. This led directly to the collapse of the Silver Hand, and the Paladins became scattered. They now fight under any Alliance flag.

In World of Warcraft game play, the Paladin is considered to be a melee-oriented hybrid class, which is a class that fulfills more than one role. Paladins have various protective auras they extend to party or raid members, 60 minute blessings which affect the entire group or raid (either Blessing of Kings to give 5% to major stats or Blessing of Might to give a bonus +3000 to the secondary stat Mastery at maximum level), the ability to heal allies and ones self, and a unique system of seals and judgments for combat. Paladins can be ‘specialized’ at level 10 and above. The three available specializations are holy, protection and retribution. The holy paladin specializes as a healer (acting as an armored cleric), the protection paladin takes the role of a damage-absorbing tank for a group, and the retribution specialization increases the paladin's ability to do melee damage (representing a zealous crusader).

Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim[edit]

In Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, paladins are the heavily armored warriors associated with Dauros, the god of law. Paladins are characterized as stalwart defenders of good, but often to a fault: as they see themselves as the sole arbiters of good, many tend to view them as smug, sanctimonious or self-righteous. In the first game, they are contrasted with the warriors of discord, followers of Fervus. In the second game, they are contrasted with the blade-masters of Krolm.

In the first game, they are female, wield claymores and can be recruited at warriors' guilds if a temple to Dauros is constructed. In the sequel, they are male, wield war hammers and can be recruited directly from temples to Dauros or upgraded from basic warriors. The in-game explanation for the sex change is that sometime in the five hundred years between the events of Majesty and Majesty 2, the sister paladins were driven mad by the wind god Lunord, as vengeance against Dauros in the struggle which led to Lunord's departure from Ardania. Dauros then bestowed his favour on the brother paladins who protected his temples.

In both games, paladins are very expensive to recruit, but they are aggressive, will readily respond to attack flags and will rarely retreat from battle, even from much stronger foes and bosses. They tend to have high-rated full plate armour, high attack and constitution attributes and wield powerful defensive magic, making them effective tank units.

Lineage 2[edit]

In Lineage II, the Paladin class is one of the two human tank class choices. The other is the Dark Avenger, which gets life stealing skills instead of healing, and is more popular. Elves and Dark Elves each have another tank class, too, with more magic abilities than their human counterparts.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes[edit]

In Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the Paladin is one of three tank classes available. The other two choices are the Warrior and the Dread Knight. Paladins in Vanguard get healing and buff spells and use sword and shield, Dread Knights get life stealing and some other spells and use twohanded weapons like the Greatsword or the Greathammer, and Warriors get higher damage output and use dual weapons just like most melee damage dealer classes in this game (with the exception of the Monk, who can also opt to use some twohanded weapons instead). All three choices are intended to play differently and have advantages under specific conditions, but perform overall about equally well in respect to tanking. The later goal has been reached, the first one not so much, for compared to other classes, the three tank classes play more like subclasses of each other, than being actually very different.

Diablo[edit]

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction[edit]

Paladins may use their skills to increase their prowess with sword and shield, as well as lend blessing "auras" to themselves and to any who join them. They are particularly effective against the Undead, as they know many holy incantations effective against these creatures. Paladins use holy magic as gifted by the High Heavens. They must maintain strictly ordered lives, constantly upholding the cause of Virtue and Light. They must never succumb to worldly temptations lest they risk being deceived into following false lights—demons masquerading as heavenly beings.

During the mid-twelfth century, after the Church of Zakarum had gained prominence in the East, the Church decreed that the visions of Akarat would be spread throughout the known world in order to redeem the masses. Thus, the church selected a group of its most charismatic and devoted priests and sent them on a mission to proselytize the people of the West.

Unfortunately, the Church had not prepared these men for the rigors of travel or the hazards of the world. Those priests who survived their missions recounted tales of harsh weather, inadequate supplies, attacks from bandits, and even encounters with horrible monsters. To ensure the success of future missions, the Church set about training holy warriors, Paladins, to accompany and safeguard their missionaries. These "Protectors of the Word" proved to be more successful at converting the native peoples than the Priests they were assigned to defend. Impressing the locals with daring deeds, powerful weapons, and martial prowess was far more convincing than the condemnations of a soft-spoken monk. However, once the Word had been spread to every major city of the West, the Protectors of the Word faded from public view.

Some decades later, Paladins were again called into service. During the height of the Time of Troubles, the Church commenced a second campaign of conversion. This time, however, unconvincible were deemed to be evil. The Zakarum inquisition spread through the lands like a tempest, laying waste to all suspected of demonic possession or corruption. Leading this crusade was a new generation of Paladins, known as the "Hand of Zakarum". These cavaliers of righteousness swept through the lands, expunging the taint of demonic contamination wherever they found it.

In the midst of this bloody crusade, a rebellion arose within the ranks of the Paladins of Zakarum. The rebels condemned the methods of the Inquisition, proclaiming that their new Order of Paladins should protect the innocent, and that the evil corruption they fought was merely evidence of their forebear's failure. They resolved to fight the true source of corruption. The Three Prime Evils - Diablo, Baal, and Mephisto. And so, these rebellious Paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured West.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls[edit]

Crusaders and Templars are the elite holy warriors whom are prowess with flails and shields, as well as lend blessing "auras" to themselves and to any who join them. They are particularly effective against the Undead, as they know many holy incantations effective against these creatures.

Final Fantasy[edit]

In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, Paladin is an advanced job that can be accessed after completing a special quest. It functions like a Warrior, but with more defensive abilities. It can also use White Magic. A Paladin's main function is defense. Because of this, players often set Warrior as a support job. This allows them to use the Provoke ability and draw enemies' attacks towards them and away from party members (referred to as tanking).

While not identified as a Paladin, in Final Fantasy I, the Warrior class can upgrade to the Knight class after returning the Rat Tail key item to Bahamut. Doing this allows the Knight to cast up to third level White Magic. Final Fantasy III also has a Knight class, which allows them to use the Cover ability and cast White Magic, two features of the Paladin class in later games.

Cecil Harvey, main protagonist of Final Fantasy IV, is classified as a Paladin for most of the game. Similar to Final Fantasy XI, he can use White Magic, but the general role is more offensive than defensive. Cecil also appears in Dissidia Final Fantasy, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.

In Final Fantasy IX the Boss and temporary party member Beatrix is classified as a Paladin, Basch is given the Paladin job in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, and Snow Villers of Final Fantasy XIII can theoretically be classified as a Paladin when acting as a Sentinel. He even has a heavy coat named 'Paladin'.

Final Fantasy Tactics has the Holy Knight class, which is similar to a Paladin, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance features the Paladin as a Human-only class with healing, defensive, and holy abilities.

The Warrior of Light in the Dissidia games is somewhat Paladin-like, as he has many light-based attacks, wears heavy armor, is devoted to the Goddess Cosmos, and is fearless and strong-willed.

A Paladin-like character can also be made in Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy XII by using heavy armor, white magic, and defensive abilities. The Paladin class can also be created in Final Fantasy V by equipping the White Magic command on a Knight, since the Knight also has the Cover command and can equip Heavy Armor.

Quest for Glory[edit]

In the Quest for Glory adventure games, the Paladin's most important 'ability' is the Honor, which also shows alignment in that game's system. Fighters and Wizards can achieve the Paladin rank at the end of Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire, and be imported as Paladins in Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. They can also undergo training in the third but this is usually regarded as difficult if the player is not using exploits to raise his or her honor.

Although Quest for Glory paladins must act with justice and compassion, they are not necessarily "lawful good" by D&D standards; obeying unjust laws in fact causes a loss of Honor. Thieves may even become paladins, although this requires avoiding several side-quests that involve stealing from innocents prior to becoming a Paladin. After becoming a Paladin-Thief, in order to access the Paladin abilities, the thief must refrain from dishonorable actions (i.e. stealing).

Also, the character interactions are tied to "Paladin" and supersede any interactions that might be bound to the other characters (to an extent). For example, in the Third Game, the Liontaur Rakeesh will tell the Hero he needs to use his skills as a Fighter/Wizard/Thief to bring peace to Tarna if he is not a Paladin, but if the Hero is a Paladin, he refers to him that way rather than as any of the previous.

A person can only become a Paladin when he or she is granted the status by another Paladin. This usually occurs in the form of a speech and the handing down of the sponsoring Paladin's sword. Only a special Paladin sword may erupt into blue flame.

The Paladin gains more abilities the higher his "Honor" level grows. He will likewise lose Paladin abilities for losing Honor points. Honor Points are described in the Fifth Game as "the sum of all the good that a player does in the game. It increases with acts of kindness and heroism, and decreases with cruel or illegal activity. High Honor is the measure of a true Hero. Low Honor is indicative of a skilled Thief."

Everquest[edit]

Main article: Paladin (Everquest)

Paladins - Icons of Virtue. The paladin combines the strength and battle prowess of a fighter with the healing and buffing of a cleric.

Ultima Online[edit]

Introduced in Age of Shadows, Paladins are spiritual warriors whose divine powers are karma based and available through the Chivalry system. They were one of two new additions, the other being the Necromancer. Notable examples of Paladins in Ultima Online include Dupre (companion of the Avatar), the Legendary Paladin Marduk Lorethian, and the Elder Paladin Luke Terrant - his oldest friend and companion.

Guild Wars[edit]

Guild Wars Nightfall introduced the Paragon class, a spear-throwing heavily armored warrior that could provide healing and buffs to other team members. The characters are described as being chosen by the gods as emissaries among mortals. Warrior classes that have chosen a Monk or Paragon secondary class (both of which provide healing and support) are also considered "paladins".

Guild Wars 2 features a soldier profession known as the Guardian. It uses Virtues (divided into three categories: Courage, Justice, and Resolve) to aid allies in combat, or use to power the Guardian's own passive abilities. Can also create wards that prevent enemies from getting any closer, and can summon enchanted weapons to help in the fight

Mabinogi[edit]

After completion of Generation Two, players using human characters can gain a paladin transformation which gains experience as they level up.

Dragon Nest[edit]

The Paladin in Dragon Nest is an advanced class of Cleric which can be obtained upon reaching level 15. Paladins, unlike Priests, specialize in tanking capabilities. In Paladin's skill tree, most of the skills are blocking and survivability skills which are necessary or important in long-run dungeons called the Nests. Paladin has multitude of roles, being support (they can activate Aura which are beneficial for individual and party performance), secondary damage dealer (via skills in magical skill tree and some in physical skill tree), and the least but not last, also the best role as a Paladin is tanker (provoking monsters to grab aggro to save allies, uses blocking skills for survivability).

Fire Emblem[edit]

The Paladin class in the Fire Emblem strategy franchise is a mounted combat class, the promoted form of the Cavalier class. Unlike most traditional definitions of the Paladin class, the Paladins of Fire Emblem are not holy warriors and cannot wield any form of magic; the exception is Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, in which female Paladins are able to wield healing staves. The Paladin is typically a balanced class, primarily set apart by its high movement-per-turn range. Throughout the series' history, they have had access to all four primary melee weapon types, with the use of swords and lances the most consistent. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn split the class into four variants, each exclusively specialising in one of the four weapon types.

Artix Entertainment Games[edit]

In all the Artix Entertainment games (with the exception of Epicduel, Mechquest and HeroSmash), notably Adventure Quest Worlds, Paladin is available as a Character Class. (The founder of AE has a corresponding in-game Paladin NPC that trains the players as Paladins) Paladins in Adventure Quest and Dragonfable are mostly a powered-up version of Warrior, with Light-element damage and healing skills. In Adventure Quest Worlds, Paladin becomes an Upgrade-Only class (in the other games it is not) and functions as the game's main tank class. Curiously, in AQworlds the player must fully rank up both Warrior and Healer to access Paladin, whereas in the other games the class is much more easily accessible.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Defenders of The Faith - A Guidebook to Clerics and Paladins D&D Accessory by Rich Redman & James Wyatt. 2001