Thursday, December 11th, 2008
Over the next 6 weeks, with a little time out for the holiday blog, we will look at each of the five four schools in the School for Heroes. This week we look at the Paladin class, our second-largest class in enrollees and level 1 Initiates who have completed their mission statements.
What Was a Paladin?
When many of us think of “Heroes”, the image of the Paladin comes to mind. The word Paladin was first used to refer to the Knights of Charlemagne in romantic tales such as The Song of Roland. The “Knights of the Round Table” and of Medieval Europe were supposedly held to a Chivalric Code – the Seven Knightly Virtues of Courage, Justice, Mercy, Strength, Generosity, Faith, Nobility, and Hope. These were the sort of values the Knights swore to uphold and believe in before they were worthy of their title.
In the early days of television, there was a TV Western show called, “Have Gun – Will Travel” about a man named Paladin who was a “Champion for hire” and a “knight without armor” who traveled around the American West helping people with his Colt six-shooter and his Winchester rifle instead of a lance.
But it was Dungeons and Dragons that defined the modern Paladin as a Lawful Good warrior dedicated to serving his God as a Holy Warrior.
Lori has played a lot of Paladins in D&D games. From Karl, the boneheaded Ultra-uber “I am the leader by virtue of my God Heimdahl” in-your-face Paladin to Ekara Lita, the gentle protectress of women and children dedicated to the Finnish Goddess Ilmatar, to Fotheringay, the angst-ridden ‘never as good as he needs to be’ Paladin of Dianceht, Celtic God of Healing, she has explored all sorts of personalities who have only their Lawful Good beliefs in common. In D&D, you have to obey the Laws of Man and God, and you must always be unquestioningly good.
Then, in 1985, Richard Garriott created “Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar” – a computer game that was based on the Eight Virtues ethic system of beliefs. The virtues were: “Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility. It, and its sequel, “Warriors of Destiny”, inspired us a great deal to create Quest for Glory. Why? Oddly enough, because while we loved the character creation system which required moral decisions and we appreciated the virtues underlying the game, the actual game play was still basically ‘kill a monster, get its treasure” with the occasional stop at the local blood bank to donate blood to get your honor up. Not exactly our idea of heroism in action. As much as we enjoyed playing Fantasy-RPGs on computer, they were no match for a real D&D game. We thought there was a lot of room for improvement.
The Quest for Glory Paladin
The Quest for Glory version of the Paladin owes more to the Dungeons & Dragons Paladin character class than to Richard Garriott’s Paladin Avatar. However, Glorianna is a world without the ethics system of Good/Evil and Law/Chaos imposed upon the player. There was no major religion dominating the world. There was no such thing as a Holy Paladin, born to serve his deity. In fact, in the first three games, you couldn’t choose to play a Paladin. Your character became a Paladin through the course of the game by always making ethical choices and working for the good of everyone.
While the D&D Paladin is essentially a Warrior with some clerical “holy” abilities, we allowed characters of any class to become Paladins if they managed to do enough good deeds while avoiding any truly evil actions. It was most difficult for a Thief to become a Paladin as their sneaky nighttime activities often came at the expense of others. Nevertheless, a Paladin was defined by the actions he took and the good he did in the game.
So, What is a Paladin?
From the Paladin Lore page:
You are compassionate, forward-thinking, and devoted to doing the right thing… Above all, you love helping others and bringing a little light to the world wherever you can.
Paladins are the conscience of heroism. They are the ones who see problems and immediately work to fix them. The Paladin is a person who cares about other people and has the empathy to understand what they are feeling. The Paladin believes in personal growth and striving to become a better person. Unlike the D&D Paladin who lives in a world of Black and White with no moral ambiguities, the Paladin in this world needs to use his own common sense rather than firm rules to determine the Justice in any situation. Like the Quest for Glory Paladin, we live in a world where not all laws are fair, and not everyone who breaks the rules is ‘bad.’ The Paladin must learn to trust his own judgment.
The School for Paladins is called a Circle. There are five virtues to this Circle of Paladins – Strength to face the future and bear the burden of responsibility, Faith to believe in yourself and what we do, Wisdom to see what is right and true, Love to care about others, yourself, and the world, and Will – to do what is right. These five principles form the core values of the School for Heroes Paladin.
How Could It Get Any Better?
As with every class, the profile of the typical Paladin suggests both strengths and flaws. Paladins tend to be overly critical of themselves. It is very hard to live up to the ideals we believe in. Although Paladins believe that they can make a difference in the world around them, it is sometimes easy to be overwhelmed by the gulf between the “Way Things Are” and the “Way Things Should Be.” Many Paladins tend to try to do everything they can to help others, but are reluctant to ask for help when they, themselves need it. They also have a tendency to let other people take advantage of their good nature.
The Circle of Paladins was designed to bring Paladins together. It shows that “we are not alone” – there are other people out there who care as much as we care about others. There are other people who are working to make a difference in the world. The Circle is a symbol of all the Paladins gathered together, holding hands, supporting one another and our shared dreams.
For while “The Song of Roland” was only a bard’s tale, D&D, Ultima and Quest for Glory were only games, Paladins are real. They may not know the word, “Paladin,” but they live their lives by these values. The members who join the Circle of Paladins are real people who truly believe in making a difference in this world. They are actively working to make this world better.
So yes, Paladins are real. That’s why there is a School for Heroes.