This item is designed to encourage my paladin to act a little more paladin-y.

This item is designed to encourage my paladin to act a little more paladin-y.

This item is designed to encourage my paladin to act a little more paladin-y.

Adamu’s Bulwark

If you are a paladin, when you undertake a quest, in addition to whatever vows the GM says are required, take the following vow: Innocence (forbidden: to harm an innocent*). You take +2 armor until your quest ends. If you harm an innocent, your quest ends automatically and you take -1 forward until you redeem yourself. *GM defines “an innocent.” If you are not a paladin, the shield functions as normal.


14 thoughts on “This item is designed to encourage my paladin to act a little more paladin-y.”

  1. I think using operant conditioning to change a player’s portrayal of their character to be more in line with how you think they should be portrayed is bad form. Maybe talk to your player, or just be cool with how they portray The Paladin?

    Mechanically, +2 armor on top of the +1 from the shield on top of the 2 armor from their scale mail is pretty nuts.

    Armor is also just kind of bland. What’s the story behind the thing? That might point towards more interesting effects.

    The vow isn’t much different from Hospitality when you get right down to it, and it’s directly oppositional to Valor. Make of that what you will.

    The added rider of “your quest ends immediately and you take -1 to everything until further notice” makes the Quest move needlessly hard on the player. I’d scratch it and just treat this vow like every other vow: make a move as appropriate when broken.

  2. Yeah, I agree with James Etheridge. This doesn’t feel like it’s “being a fan of the character”. You have a different idea of how a paladin should be played – which is totally fine – but you’re not the one playing the paladin.

    What always fixes differences of opinion here is talking to your players. “Hey, John, tell me about what you think of Ethiel the Paladin? You going to play him like a hardass white knight or something else?”

  3. You guys make good points. I suppose the larger question here is: if my player describes his character one way and plays his character another way, should I gently nudge him to conform his actions to the way he’s described his character?

    In my game, my PC is playing a Good-aligned paladin — protect the weak, help the suffering, all pretty standard stuff. And, yet, last session, he straight up murdered a peasant because said peasant was going to blab the PCs’ plan to the evil baron. Of course, you can make the argument that he was committing a small evil to prevent an even greater evil. But my player thinks of his paladin as pretty black-and-white (and, IMHO, the mechanics of the game kind of nudge the paladin in that direction. For example, what’s the point of the “Truth” vow if you view truth as a spectrum of gray?).


    Edit: If the answer is just “let him play his paladin the way he wants to,” I’m cool with that, I just want to know if I should then bother making him make hard choices with his vows.

  4. Their characters are not yours to play. Maybe the player changed their mind? I’m sure you do it all the time. “The bartender is a gruff guy who hates elves” and then five minutes later he’s laughing with an elf.

    Murdering a peasant is absolutely un-paladin-like. What would his order say? Surely someone reported it? What do the townsfolk think of this? Does his dirty still give him power, or does he need to atone?

    Don’t force him to play it a specific way – let him play it how he wants to, and provide consequences.

  5. I absolutely agree with both James Etheridge and Aaron Griffin, both about not dictating how a player should play their character and about the mechanical bits. Talk to your player about what they feel it means to be the Paladin and come to some sort of consensus with them.

    As for the item itself, forcing the character to take two vows seems pretty harsh. Why not just say the GM can pick “vow: Innocence (forbidden: to harm an innocent)” as an option when the player makes the Quest move?

    That +2 armor and -1 ongoing seems like a huge bonus and a harsh penalty. Who is Adamu? What are they about? What kinds of boons would they grant or banes would they inflict?

  6. Seriously, talk to your player. Alignment is a carrot, not a stick, and archetypes are there to inspire, not constrain. There is no one way to play a character.

    Still, if they’re not acting in accord with their alignment it might behoove them to rewrite their alignment to reflect the direction their character has grown into. You can bring that up to them, but “gently nudging” is being the portrayal police, and that’s not cool.

    All that aside, if their actions are making you as a person uncomfortable, you do have a responsibility to talk with them about it. Everyone at the table needs to be comfortable with the subject matter, including you.

  7. I got ninja’d there. As said, if the player’s actions are making you uncomfortable as a person, then talk to them about it. But if the player’s actions are merely “not playing a paladin correctly”, well, you’re not playing the character and have no right to tell others how to do so.

    As suggested, if the paladin does something that seems to go against their order, ask the player about it. What kind of consequences are likely to happen?

  8. Just saw your edit here:

    “Edit: If the answer is just “let him play his paladin the way he wants to,” I’m cool with that, I just want to know if I should then bother making him make hard choices with his vows.”

    Yes, you absolutely need to ‘bother.’ Not to read too much into it, but that choice of words makes it sound like you’re saying “well they’re not really playing a Good Paladin, so obviously they don’t really care about roleplaying their vows,” and that’s not really your call, you know?

    The whole purpose of the vows is to provide the paladin with tough choices (it’s Fill their lives with adventure, Be a fan of the character and Show them a downside of their class abilities handed to you on a silver plate). When they take on a Quest, that’s something they’re signing on for. Ignoring it is denying the player a source of interesting drama and spotlight time. Which, again, basically comes down to punishing the player because you disagree with their portrayal.

  9. Preach, James Etheridge​. The GM’s job isn’t to tell the players how to play their characters – that’s just called writing. The GM’s job is to provide consequences for their actions, especially if they say one thing and do another.

  10. In situations like this, where a character suddenly acts grossly out of what has been established or expected by the group, I consider that a wonderful time to Ask Questions! Especially as a Fan of their Character, I get excited by the idea of investigating their psychology, morals, and any emotional hangups that might result from suddenly compromising their self-image or world view.

    Punishing or trying to incentivize the player via the character is not a good solution, but this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss to turn to the other PCs and see how they feel about watching a force for good wholesale murder an innocent. Any of them come from peasant backgrounds? Any of them escaped tyrannical regimes in the past? Stuff like this, combined with backstories, is quality RP fodder, and a great reason to Resolve and rewrite Bonds.

  11. If he’s good aligned, he shouldn’t have just killed him right off the bat. But good isn’t lawful, and if the peasant wouldn’t listen to reason and stopping the evil baron is going to help the many, I could see his action as justified. However, he should have just knocked him out in my opinion. People forget about non-lethal options in a game that has hitpoints lol

  12. Hi all, thanks for all the comments. I read them, even if I didn’t respond to all of them 🙂

    I talked to my player about what his god likes/dislikes and I think I’ve got a good grasp on how he pictures his character. I can still put tough choices in front of him, but he also gets to feel like a badass a lot of the time, which is good.

    That said, I still plan on letting him discover a cool magic shield. The party is fighting an inevitable, so I thought it would be cool if the shield either belonged to it or was made by it. But I still need some help making the item cool. Here’s I have so far.

    When you’re using the shield and you undertake a quest, you may take an additional vow: Lawfulness (forbidden: to break the laws of men, gods or nature). In exchange… this is where I don’t know what to do. I want to give him some cool ability, but I think letting him take one extra boon is kind of boring. The other thought I had was to give his I Am the Law move a boost, but my party is only two PCs and the other is the “face,” so giving a powerful social ability to the paladin might make the other PC less fun to play. Thoughts?

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