Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homles & Cook: The Paladin

Earlier this week, Stuart of Strange Magic posted a very nice version of the paladin/anti-paladin for Basic D&D. Stuart does an excellent job of delineating several of the historical problems with the class and then elegantly deals with each of them. There is one problem, however, that Stuart does not address — my main beef with the class. The holy warrior already exists. It is called the Cleric (though I really do like Stuart’s version of the anti-paladin as a stand-in for a non-druidic anti-cleric).

Still, I find Stuart’s version of the paladin really inspiring. Surprisingly, the factor that was most intriguing to me was the limitation No Ranged Weapons. I say this because this limitation is a natural companion to the limitation I placed on my Holmesian version of the Ranger, which is limited to only ranged or thrown weapons.

Thus, I’ve been fiddling with an idea for a Holmesian version of the paladin. Since I am not much interested in doing the whole holy warrior thing, I am going to fall back on the word paladin itself, which means trusted military leader from the Late Latin for courtier or imperial official. Thus, a paladin is a fighter who foregoes training with/use of ranged and thrown weapons (because they are too lowly and/or they interfere with the ability to see the whole battlefield) in order to specialize in leadership skills — Leadership, Tactics and Defender:

  • Leadership. Paladins have a floating +1 bonus that may be given once per combat round to one other PC as a bonus to hit, to damage, to AC or to a saving throw. The only time the paladin can use this floating bonus on themselves is in conjunction with the Defender skill (see below). If the paladin has a Charisma of 13+ the floating bonus is +2. This then may be split between two PCs if desired.
  • Tactician. Once per combat round, a paladin can interrupt the normal initiative order. Before an action is taken by another PC or opponent, the paladin may switch places with them in the initiative order.
  • Defender. By forgoing an attack during a combat round, the paladin may force an opponent to attack the paladin rather than another PC. While doing this, the paladin gains +2 AC and may use the floating bonus (if it hasn’t already been used that round) to add to this AC bonus.

Note that the Tactician skill assumes the initiative rules found in Holmes, which has a static initiative order based on Dex. Note also that there is no longer an alignment restriction (although these skills do make much more sense within the context of a Lawful alignment).


  1. Yes, I agree. The crusader and holy knight class is really the cleric. Give the cleric a sword (with damage based on hit die, perhaps) and you are done.

    I think the problem for some people is that the cleric just seems a bit too magical to be a paladinesque knight. That, and the fact that the class that used to be the demon hunter is too often relegated to the status of medic now.

    Your paladin variant here is interesting. It's almost like a B/X version of the warlord (the martial "leader role" class in fourth edition; clerics are also "leaders" if you are not familiar with 4E).

    1. I never bothered with 4E, in concept it wasn't something I ever thought I'd be interested in, but I am aware of some leader-type classes from the 3+ era and the idea intrigues me a lot.

      For those that think a cleric is nothing but a heal-bot, they ought to try sitting in with my group. With multiple clerics in the party, I have seen them forego a CLW slot or three for Detect Evil and use it go find them some demonspawn to vanquish. Not only is it effective, but it make me realize just how much a front line fighter the cleric can be and maybe should be.

    2. Interestingly, the topic of the martial cleric (is there any other kind?) versus the paladin just became a D&D Next topic:,_the_paladin,_and_multisysteming