"Make no mistake, faithful paladins and devout clerics: this is a war, and you are soldiers in that war. The sides are arrayed, and the battle-lines are clearly drawn. It is a war of good against evil, of light against darkness. Your duties in that war are clear, and your code of conduct is well delineated. There are certain forces in this universe, absolute forces of good and evil; and some creatures are born intrinsically allied with those ontological powers. Indeed, the universe itself seems to be made up of three ethical substances: good, evil, and the unaligned substance. Some creatures seem, indeed, to be spawned from those powers, and their souls are colored through and through with them. Angels, for example, are goodness personified, while demons and devils are their evil counterparts. These creatures could never change their intrinsic natures, and even if given the chance to change their alliance with the ethical powers of the universe, they would be unable to do so. It is as impossible for a demon to choose goodness as it is impossible for an angel to choose evil. Similarly, certain acts, actions, and even inanimate objects, like poison, are allied with the cosmic ethical forces and cannot be separated from them. The gods themselves do not determine what is good or evil; rather they revere and hold good or evil things holy or unholy because the gods are the utmost example of beings that are ontologically aligned.
Your role, then, is clear: you must slay with no compunction creatures such as demons that are intrinsically allied with evil. Have no concern for their appearance or what they profess their intentions to be. Have no concern for their race, age, or gender. Certain creatures are our eternal and definite enemies and they must be destroyed if goodness is to win our ancient war. A list of creatures that have been identified over the centuries as irreparably evil by nature is held in the sacred Book of Honorsus in St. Quentin's Church in Arvale City and is to be memorized. Other creatures are not quite fully evil by nature but have a strong attraction towards evil, have evil tendencies, and nearly invariably choose evil when given the option between it and our holy and pious ethical outlook. Your duty towards these creatures, such as orcs and goblinoids, is hardly less certain. You need to dispatch them if they do not immediately surrender and throw down their weapons but the offer to surrender muct be made. Show them no mercy, for they are foot soldiers of the enemy in our cosmic war. Pay no heed to their gender or age, either. The correctness of this dictum has been born out through the use of many divination spells as well as the fact that many paladins have lived by this code of conduct throughout the ages and have retained their holy status. Finally, certain creatures have no clear transcendental ethical alliance and are as likely to choose goodness as evil. Creatures like this, such as humans, are not to be slain, but are to be judged by their actions first. They need to be given opportunity to surrender and indeed to change their ways. Proselytization here is imperative, for these creatures have the potential to become staunch allies if their societies and cultures can be influenced to revere the law and goodness that the Lord Honorus embodies.
While fighting this cosmic war, there are certain methods that must be followed and certain methods that are intrinsically unacceptable to those who align themselves with transcendental Goodness. Charity towards the church and the poor is hallowed by the cosmic powers and it is something that we must always strive to do, and a straightforward, declared, and honest onslaught is our method of attack. We state our intentions-to destroy evil and to selflessly aid all that is good-and we do not lie or violate our word. We respect legitimate, goodness-sanctioned authority; we help those non-evil creatures that need our help, even if it means sacrificing our lives to do so. Conversely, we must never employ torture, poison, or deceit in our war, for these are things that have been consecrated by the unholy powers of the universe and are inherently aligned with them. These are the laws of our war, and they will take us through to victory."
--Burcan the White, Holy Potentate of the Church of Honorus in Blessings-Be.
The Paladinís Conduct (General)
Paladins are imbued with divine power to help them defend the weak and overcome the evil in the world. This power isnít given directly to them by a deity Ė their purity of heart allows them to channel magic from the plane of positive energy. Paladinís that become powerful enough can draw the attention of a deity who will show them favor by granting minor spells.
A paladin may become a part of a knightly order (Such as the Knights of the Lance, but their are many others) which has a rigid code of conduct, however it isnít the rigid code which grants them their powers. Still, a pure heart can only be known by the fruit it bears so the actions of a paladin are very important. The following is a list of behaviors which can be expected of all paladins:
- always seek to do good within their means
- donate at least 10% of their wealth to charity
- always defend the weak and powerless
- never cause needless suffering
- always take the high road
The source of a paladinís power is his pure heart. The three most important virtues to a paladin are not courage, honor and piety, but faith, hope and love. Paladins must have faith in both themselves and in the fellow man, hope that they can make a difference, and love even for their enemies. This extends to a hope that seemingly irredeemable people can have a change of heart. If this sounds farfetched, consider that they receive their powers due to a connection to the plane of positive energy Ė their goodness is of a super natural origin.
Even in pursuit of the greater good, a paladin will never perform one of the following acts:
- torture for pleasure or to obtain information (though he may make threats or strong arm)
- leave behind someone who can be saved
- kill or maim a helpless adversary
- kill or maim an adversary that has surrendered
- steal anything for personal gain or comfort
Notice that there are still a number of things a paladin can do without risking his purity or special powers:
- run away from a fair fight if no one else remains
- keep a fair share of the spoils of war, so long as recovered goods donít have an honest home
- break the law when necessary (when the law or laws has been determined by his elders to go against the Paladin Code)
Codes of Chivalry (All Orders)
While paladins have a great deal of leeway in terms of operating procedure, knights do not. Joining a knightly order usually involves taking a vow to uphold the rules of the order. Different orders may have variations; however there are a few common, underlying themes:
- never disobey the order of a superior unless that order contradicts the laws of god
- never flee from a fair fight, including single combat with any opponent, unless ordered by a superior
- donate a sizable portion of wealth to the order, or spend it on things useful to the order (20%= 10% to charity, 10% to order)
- never lie
- never steal
- never break the law unless given authority over the law by a superior
Those that manage to uphold a code of chivalry gain a +2 bonus on willpower saving throws. This bonus is lost if the character ever breaks his vows. It can be regained through atonement guided by a priest, usually involving a quest to purify oneself.