1st Ed. AD&D: The Paladin


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The Paladin is far and above the most difficult character to play and become. 


There are numerous benefits to being a Paladin (and these benefits are mighty), but the cost is also high. The Paladin is a holy warrior, a ferocious fighter filled with a religious fervor and in possession of total conviction to duty and honour.


Where the Cleric seeks to convert new disciples and guide their congregations; a Paladin is there to protect and serve in the name of their Deity and the general population (whether they want it or not).


The misconceptions, too, come with the Paladin class. These misconceptions are often drawn from the players' own thoughts and learning.


the Paladin is a class that openly challenges the player and makes for some excellent role-playing opportunities.


With the name “Paladin” images of shining knights, quests, tournaments, and scenes right out of Arthurian legend.


This is not entirely incorrect. 


The purpose of this missive is to look a bit deeper and try to see more substance to the class.


Grab the horse and prepare for battle. Sirrahh!

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Character Abilities

The Paladin has one cornerstone ability: Charisma.


The Paladin is required to have no less than 17 Charisma as an ability score. The remaining stats are not as important, requiring little more than above average ability scores. For those lucky enough for Strength and Wisdom scores of 16 or higher, the Paladin character receives a 10% bonus on Experience Points awarded.


When a Paladin character is being made, one of two scenarios have occurred:

  1. The Player rolls up the ability scores including at least one 17 and chooses a Paladin; or;
  2. The Player has declared a desire to play a Paladin and rolls up the ability scores to generate a Paladin.

In the first instance, there is nothing for a DM to do, however, in the second instance, the Player who wants to be a Paladin, may not roll up the stats required to be a Paladin. The DM and Player have some figuring to do.


The Paladin character is meant to be rare, even the laconic Ranger can travel in packs of up to three per party. Rarely will there be more than one Paladin found in a party. In a normal world where people have scores of 9 to 12 as average, scores of 17+ only happen 1.4% of the time.


The negotiation between DM and Player begins when one stat is off the required 17 score. 


As always, it is the DM's prerogative whether or not to take one score (likely to be the highest score) and upgrade it to the required 17; and thus allowing the player to now play a Paladin.


(Read that as: Good luck.)


For the DM, having a Paladin in the party mix can easily upset the balance of an adventure. The Paladin is more than another 'Fighter', the Paladin not only has special abilities that can be considered powerful at any level, but also, the Paladin acts as a beacon.


The Paladin is not a class that is often associated with stealth or guile. In some lands, a Paladin openly wandering around causes many political issues.


Especially if the AD&D milieu occurs in a feudal system of government, the Paladin bringing law and order to the land can upset delicate alliances and the balance of 'the system'. Not only because of being a Paladin, but often a Paladin doesn't walk alone, but with a party of other unstable personalities actively looking to cause trouble.


Experience Points

To gain 2nd Level, the Paladin must collect 2,750 X.P. As 1st Level totals go, the Paladin has the highest requirement - even with 10% bonus equates to 2,500 X.P.


The X.P. bottle narrows slightly in the middling levels from 4th Level until the Paladin reaches 8th, then the flat 350,000 X.P per Level advancement takes over. In the 10,000 X.P. challenge, the Paladin and Magic-user classes will be 3rd Level, where all other classes (except the Thief Class) are on 4th Level; by the 100,000 X.P. mark, most classes are on the same Level (the Thief and Magic-user classes being on 8th Level).


The Paladin may be the last to reach 2nd Level, however, they won't be left behind for too long.

Hit Points

The Paladin, like the Fighter class, uses d10 for each Hit Die. While this can make a solid 4 to 6 average HP each level, the player will need to balance the remaining stats to ensure survivability. 


It is important to remember the Paladin will be one of the first to throw themselves into the fray. Even if possessing lower than average HP it is not in the nature of a Paladin to hold back and let others do the fighting - unless strategy demands it.


Perhaps if the Paladin possesses 5 or fewer HP at 1st Level, being proficient with Bow or Crossbow (remembering the Paladin has weapon ownership limitations) will still allow the Paladin to be an active participant in the battle.

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There is only one race that can be a Paladin: Human. 


So, the question must be asked: Why?


The idea of a non-human Paladin appeals to many, however rules-as-written, only a Human can take the mantle of Paladin. Does that mean (in AD&D universe) only Humans have that ‘inner goodness’? True, any character race can be Lawful Good and be religious. 


AD&D 1st edition throws it out there that the Human race possesses that special ability to release worldly attachments and strive for the innate purity of body and soul (also see Monk).


Gnomes, Elves, and Dwarves are too picky to be Paladin material, they love possessions and enjoy wealth, be it mineral wealth of rivers of gold or gems, or hoarding information and magic. These races have too many racial characteristics making them fond of 'things' to make for a Paladin.


The other races too, fall short in the purity tests. Halflings like their creature comforts too much, to make the personal sacrifices to become a Paladin. 


Half-orcs are born with a corrupt soul, and even those of reasonable temperament find it difficult to deal with the day to day prejudices.


The Half-elf may make for a close second choice, but the other half of the equation - the Elf - fills the race with a need to look elsewhere for their destiny.


It falls then to those special Humans to be able to cast aside desires for wealth and power and strive to do good for all.


Having said that, looking at the Racial Preference chart, there is only one Race that would seek to protect human and demi-humans alike.


In part it circles back to the 17 Charisma. Elves will follow a Human, Dwarves will follow a Human, all other races will follow a Human.

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The Paladin

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Special Abilities

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Paladins of Fact and Fiction

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