Codes of Conduct for Paladins

Listed below are the point values of the penalties corresponding to taking particular ethics that one must abide by as a paladin. These may also be appropriate for other classes with alignment restrictions, such as rangers.

Priests and other characters with divinely granted abilities should not gain points for adhering to a code of conduct appropriate to their order or deity. Behaving within the order is required for remaining a member of the order and maintaining one's status therein. Adhering to the tenets of the religion is required to stay within favour of one's deity, who may revoke divinely granted abilities if they start being taken for granted ...

The Paladin's Code of Conduct is specifically designed for those who must maintain exemplary behaviour, over and above that expect of other less devout followers. Failing to do so results in harsh penalties, the character would no longer be a good role model to the rest of the cause if they did not maintain the high standards expected of them. In particular, alignment restrictions are assumed, and do not have a point cost or bonus associated with them.

Penitence for failing to follow the code of conduct may in many minor cases not be enforced, but left to the paladin's own devices to be appropriately repentant or seek absolution from the sins (for example going to the confessional and being given appropriate tasks to assuage the guilt and sins). It would not be unexpected for a paladin to judge themselves more harshly that their fellows or their deity, it is a difficult road to take.

EthicType of EthicMinor Ethos ViolationMajor Ethos ViolationStandardComments
law abidinglaw-2-3minor
service to liege or churchlaw-2-3minor
cultural traditionslaw-1-2minorcost should depend on culture
honesty and oath keeperlaw-3-5minor
generositygood-2-3not taken
morality of associates-1-2minor
humilitygood-0.5-1not taken
celibacygoodmust take major-1.5not taken
industrylaw-0.5-1not taken
10% tithe-5-7major
no more than 10 magic items-4-5major
limited wealth-3-5major

Description of Violations

Minor violation: A violation of a minor ethic may result in temporary loss of some or all divinely granted abilities, public censure, or temporary loss of paladinhood. A quest or appropriate penitence to absolve one's sins is needed to restore these. [This is equivalent to a chaotic violation, described in the Player's Handbook.]

Major violation: A violation of a major ethic results in permanent loss of paladinhood. Unwilling, involuntary, or accidental violations of this are treated as minor violations. [This is equivalent to an evil violation, described in the Player's Handbook.]

Description of Ethics

Ethics should be appropriate to the order and society that the paladin belongs to. It is still expected that the paladin will behave in an orderly and goodly fashion, whether it is explicitly covered by the above ethics or not (just as a priest is expected to behave in a fashion appropriate to priests of a particular deity).

The type of an ethic, lawful or good, is listed after the ethic. This is a rough description: the ethics themselves give the finer details. Whether an ethic is considered minor or major, or not taken, in the standard Player's Handbook paladins is listed in the standard column.

Law abiding: The character endeavours to abide by the law of the region. In lawless regions, the character abides by laws of their own country.

Service to liege or church: The character is often expected to perform services for their leige or church.

Cultural traditions: The character preserves cultural traditions such as marriage, hospitality to strangers, respect for your elders, and so forth.

Merciful: The character will grant mercy to a fallen foe.

Courtesy: The character is polite. Think of the rules that a gentleman or gentlewoman might follow.

Honesty and oath keeper: The character keeps promises and is honest. They would not cheat someone and would give them a fair deal.

Generosity: The character is generous to others in need, even when it is troublesome to do so - sharing their last loaf of bread. The character is generous in praise of others.

Morality of associates: The character ensures that those who associate with them are of sound character and follow similar tenets to the character.

Valor: The character is valorous in battle, attacking mighty foes and only retreating when faced by the grimmest odds. This does not imply that the character would disobey orders to stay in battle, for example if a retreat was sounded the character would retreat, they'd just perform a rearguard and make sure everyone else who was able could retreat first ...

Honor: The character behaves in an honorable manner, and will not accept dishonor. This typically includes accepting duels, challenging people who impugn one's honor, and more.

Humility: The character is humble and does not discuss their successes, not seeking the limelight. The character will accept praise with humble thanks, and be embarassed by more.

Chastity: The character avoids sex before marriage, namely anything more than flirting generally.

Celibacy: The character has taken a firm vow to leave a pure life, avoiding the taint of the beast within. The character avoids flirting and other such attractions, preferring to get on with the more important things in life.

Chivalrous: The typical chivalric code of battle, ensuring a fair fight and helping a downed opponent get up and get their sword. Ambushing someone is poor manners, and fails to show who is truly the better warrior.

Industry: Life is too short to waste it on irrelevant matters. While others are drinking, this character ensures that everything is ready for tomorrow, things are clean, the garden is tended to and so forth. They don't know the meaning of the word relax.

Tithing: This is the typical tithe that various religions have required of their followers. More importantly, the character is expected to tithe on anything of value they receive.

No more than 10 magic items: It would be greedy to use more. Others can make better use of them.

Limited wealth: The purpose of life is not to accumulate wealth. This is a pre-capitalist society. Any money the character makes over that required to maintain one's properties, position, the church, and servants, must be donated to an appropriate cause where it can be better used.