Paladins, Detect Evil, and requirements on evil associations

  • Paladins are required to not associate with evil.

    Paladins have a god-given ability to detect evil (DE), at will. Logically, a conscientious paladin would use this ability constantly to determine whether anyone he might associate with was evil, preventing himself from falling through association. If someone was determined to be evil, a conscientious paladin would then warn any good people he knows to be wary of said person.

    The problem we run into in a PW, especially one with a (necessarily) limited population, is that the DE ability makes it difficult to play a paladin who wants to avoid falling for associating with evil PCs - and even more difficult to play a "clandestine evil" PC without being immediately ostracized by the good PCs and any neutrals that don't want the same treatment.

    In recognition of this, some DMs have ruled in the past that a paladin's DE ability should only be used when they have "probable cause" to believe a PC is evil. We've also found it necessary on occasion to give low level PCs items that block DE so that they can function socially.

    The end result so far, has been "Paladin sits around the fire doing DE on everyone who passes, then reporting any who register positive as Evil to all in the area" …or... "Paladin refuses to use DE on anyone because they got thumped by a DM for using it without probable cause" ...or... "Paladin refuses to use DE on anyone because he wants to have people to hang with"

    None of these are good things.

    To remedy this we need three things: a set of rules that define when DE can and should be used, a set of rules that defines the "association rule" for paladins better so there is no confusion, and a method of using DE that doesn't restrict RP on the server, while still retaining its usefulness.

    A variety of solutions were proposed, including RPly restricting use of a paladin's ability to when they have "probable cause," changing the DE ability to make it usable once per reset or once per rest, rather than at will, or changing it to give PCs in the area of the DE notification that it is being used.

    The solution we implemented, as of 900v is as follows:

    1) Allow DE to remain at Will, and allow Paladins to use it whenever and however they see fit.

    2) With regard to the "association rule," Paladins can fall for knowingly associating with evil - where "knowingly" requires that the evil either be detectable with the DE tool, or verifiable due to evil acts known to the paladin.

    For the latter case, it includes both acts personally witnessed by the paladin and those reported to him. It is the paladin's responsibility to investigate reports of evil acts by the PC in question, until satisfied of the veracity (or falsity) of the reports. That is in keeping with the Law and Good aspects of a paladin, while meeting the requirements of not knowingly associating with evil. Cases where the DE tool does not detect someone as evil despite evil alignment (which can happen if they have an item that blocks DE or their aura is too faint to register) are not counted as associating with evil, regardless of the PC's actual alignment (with the exception of witnessed or verifiable reports of evil acts). A paladin's god will not hold him accountable for associating with someone he had no way of knowing was evil - but if the paladin becomes aware one of his associates is evil and continues the association after, he will be thumped.

    3) A change has been made to Detect Evil, such that low level evil PCs (levels 4 - 5) are not detected by either the paladin ability or spell.

    NPCs and monsters were not changed in this respect, though there were some other changes that may affect them as well. There is an exception to the low level (levels 4 - 5) exception from detection: clerics of evil deities. Clerics of evil deities will always register as evil, regardless of level or their alignment. For example, an evil-aligned L1 fighter will not register as evil to DE, nor will an evil L1 cleric of Helm - but a L1 LN cleric of Bane will now register as evil to DE.

    The effect the changes above have is to leave the paladin DE ability useful while making it possible for them to RP with non-obvious evil PCs. In addition, this makes it possible for people to play non-obvious evil PCs without being immediately tagged as evil and ostracized.

    Lastly, it codifies the requirements of paladins to ensure to the best of their ability that they are not associating with evil people, while neither penalizing them for using their abilities, nor leaving them the option of willful ignorance.

    In the process of making the above changes, one other change was made to Detect Evil, to properly account for cleric levels on evil creatures/PCs. Previously, if an evil creature had 1 level of cleric, all levels were treated as clerical of an evil deity for reporting the strength of the evil aura. Where this became important is when the creature had 11 or more levels - since this was treated as "Overwhelming" evil. If a paladin of under half the creature/PCs levels did a DE near an evil L10 fighter/L1 cleric, they would have been stunned. The check now properly accounts for clerical levels separately from other levels. The fighter/cleric referenced above would more properly register as "moderate" evil, even if they were a cleric of an evil deity.

    Note that familiars with an inherent evil alignment will still detect as evil, even if possessed - not that it would matter. A mage cannot wander into town with his imp familiar and complain because he is pegged as evil. No, the DE tool will not detect you as such, but you have an evil familiar, that's good enough for anyone but the most stupid to make the leap that your PC probably is too.

    Likewise, if you are seen associating with known evil people a lot, or caught doing evil things, word will get around, IC. That isn't metagaming, it is RP.

    Paladins, choose your associates with care, and keep an eye on them. Yours is a holy mandate.
    Clandestine evil, be careful what you do and who you are seen with - and you might get a chance to become something as great as your dreams.

    You can detect evil by either using the DE tool or entering the following command in the chat bar: !detect evil

  • Narfell DM

    Bump. Information one must be aware of.