Powder Keg of Justice
Last night /tg/, someone made me fall in love with Paladins and I don't think I will be swayed back any time soon. Here is the story;
We've been running our D&D group for quite some time (D&D 3.5), and we were around the 11-13 level range. The game had reached the point where the characters were now 'players' in a kingdom's politics and were national heroes. One of the characters, a paladin, was the youngest son of the now-deposed king. In his youth, he had disappeared for 10 years without a trace and broke his father's heart, the king went into decline and dragged his kingdom with him. Eventually, knowing of the weakness, a coup was launched by a tyrant and now the tyrannical betrayer rules the land with an iron fist.
6 years after the coup, the youngest son returns, now a paladin. What happened to him for all that time has yet to be revealed, but the player and DM had it all worked out.
So anyway, even though the game had revolved pretty much around us trying to get our paladin buddy to reclaim his rightful throne, and most of the plot was centered around it, the player in question decided he was bored with the character and wanted to roll something new.
The DM was a little pissed at this, but he could hardly force the guy to play the character. So, he let him roll up a new guy and drafted in his buddy Chris, who was staying with him for a few weeks to play the paladin "Sir Peter Fairgrave."
I hadn't gamed with Chris before but he seemed like a pretty cool guy -- no complaints -- and he really wanted to know all the details of the plot and everything about our characters citing that he actually wanted to do a proper job of playing the character and to "not let us down."
I didn't know what to expect, but hey, he seemed really into it. So we played.
Anyway, in terms of the current plot: we were forced to waylay our plans to overthrow the tyrant, as a more serious threat had emerged, that of some form of sinister cult.
We had been dealing with this cult for years, but we had never taken them overly seriously. They were just some messed up guys who occasionally got in over their heads, you know. Often they'd make a bid for power, fuck it up, and we'd have to clean up the deadly deadly mess.
The cult had clearly been playing their Warcraft 3, as they had gotten it into their heads to infect the kingdom's food stores (on a mass scale) with some form of virus that would make the population subservient to some demon the cult venerated.
It was our 11th hour, we'd hounded the streets for days trying to round up cult agents and get information out of them.
We found out the plague was already in most of the food and water, as they had been at it for months, but a ritual needed to be completed for it to become active.
The cultists were hard to break, and our group (generally not the nicest folks) wanted to torture it out of them. Naturally, Sir Peter was opposed.
- "We can't preserve freedom while denying it to others. It's not right, we can't do it, and I won't allow it."
Chris wasn't being a dick, he was just playing the character. As much as our characters might not have liked it, we as players were having lots of fun. The added drama really worked.
We managed to capture a high priest of the cult, someone responsible for conducting the ritual in this part of the land. It turns out the ritual needed to be conducted at the same time in several parts of the kingdom at once, in order to deliver the maximum effect.
We need to know the other locations, or else all our efforts would have just saved one northern barony and not the whole land. He gave us no choice but to beat it out of him.
Sir Peter wanted no part of this: "If you're going to treat a man like some animal for the slaughter, then don't expect me to sit by and watch." He then stormed out, and let us carry on in our work.
We'd been at it hours, and we couldn't get the guy to crack. He just wouldn't tell us anything. He was covered in cuts, had lost a toe at our hands, was dripping in his own blood, but still won't give us want we needed. We were going to give up and try another method, when all of a sudden, our doorway darkens and in walks Sir Peter. He's wearing nothing but his tunic and pants, unarmed, bar for a half drank jug of some form of strong booze in hand.
In steps into the room and announces:
- "If you're going to do this, do it right..."
He walks over to the bound cultist, tosses aside his bottle, lifts the chair and sits in front of the beaten man.
- "I don't want to hurt you, I just need to know the locations of your brethren, then this can be all over for you, I will make sure you are safe and cared for."
- "Ha! I know who you are, Sir Peter Fairgrave; kingdom breaker, runaway child, father slayer. You can't threaten me: I know what you are. Your order, your God won't allow you to lay your hands on me, otherwise you'll fall, and you won't be able to help a soul."
- *sighs* "You seem to be under the misconception about what I am, what I do. I am a paladin, that is true; but as a paladin I don't fear falling... I look forward to it."
The cultist shot a nervous look at the rest of the party, we were all looking at each other, not sure what was about to happen. The cultist opened his mouth to speak, but Sir Peter cut him off.
- "As a paladin, I walk on a razor's edge. Not between good and evil, I could never be something like you, but between "law" and "justice". The "law" I follow doesn't permit me to harm you, but I could be "justified" in anything I did to you in order to save innocent lives. ANYTHING!"
- "You don't know what it is like to be me. You don't know the pain of having to store all your anger, all your fury, all your sense of justice, and hold it inside you, all day every day for the rest of your life. Doing the right thing doesn't mean I get to stop all evil, I just get to trim it when it becomes overgrown. The path I walk is not about vengeance, or what's right; it's about moderation in the face of power, restraint and compassion for scum like you.
- "This is why paladins don't fear falling. We don't spend all day looking for ways to prevent ourselves from doing evil and giving in to the darkness -- we actively seek it out. Every time we face evil, we ask ourselves, 'Is this the threat that I'm going to give it all up for? Is this what I am going to give up my ability to help others in the future, in order to bring it down now. Is this the evil that I am willing to forsake my God and my power to stop?!'".
At this point, he stands up suddenly and swings his arm against the chair he was sitting on. Sending it flying and shattered against a wall, he then kicks over the chair the cultist was sitting on, he leaps and straddles his chest, flinging him about for a few seconds in pure rage, before calming once more.
He looks the cultist straight in the face, both their noses just inches from each other.
- "What you should be asking yourself now, what you really need to be thinking about, is: 'Is what I'm doing something that will make this guy want to fall?' Because you should know that once I fall, all those rules which protect you from me are gone. No longer will I be able to be stopped by you, or by my order, or by my God. If I give everything, and I mean give everything, I will never stop. If you escape me today, I will hunt you down and grab you into the pits of hell myself. Even if that means that I have to invoke the wrath of every demon in creation, just so they throw open a pit and drag me down where I stand, because when they do drag me down, I will make sure that my fists are wrapped firmly around your ankles and you go down with me. I want you to listen to me now, and I mean really listen, because Hell truly hath no fury like a paladin scorned."
- "So I ask you, one last time: tell me where the other rituals are being held, or I swear to all on high that I will fall, and fall hard, just so I can show you what it is that paladin truly keeps his code in order to hold back..."
At this point the player, Chris, just stops talking and looks at us. We are all kind of stunned by his speech, naturally.
He just picks up a D20, looks at the DM and says "I wish to roll intimidate."
- original archived thread at sup/tg/.