Forgotten Memories, Slumbering Thoughts
The Paladin’s Code
The various possible aspects of a paladin’s code are listed; each tenet is then rated from 0 (that tenet is not part of the paladin’s code) to 3 (that tenet is a key part of the paladin’s code).
How Many Tenets?
The tenets for a code should total at least 15 for an average code and 25 for a strict one. Calculate this value by adding up the level of each tenet. Under no circumstances should a character be allowed a code with a total of less than 15 – such a code is much too lenient for a paladin.
A Personal Code
Note that the paladin’s code is a personal one – all these rules are designed to answer the question ‘will the paladin lose any paladin abilities for committing this act?’ The paladin may face other punishments or problems for acts that do not breach the code. For example, the tenet of law and justice demands that the paladin obeys those in authority. If a paladin who has the tenet of law and justice at level 3 disobeys the commands of his superior, then he severely breaches his code and loses his paladinhood. If another paladin who follows a different code, one that has the tenet of law and justice at level 0 disobeys
the same command, he does not lose his paladinhood. However, both would face exactly the same legal or martial punishments for disobeying an order. Both paladins might be imprisoned or banished from their knightly order for
disobeying the order; the difference is that one loses his paladinhood for disrespecting the weight of Law and the other does not. The code is the paladin’s personal contract with his deity.
The Paladin’s Companions
Under most circumstances, the paladin’s code does not apply to his companions. See the Tenet of Fellowship.
Designing a Code
When designing a code for a paladin or order of paladins, the starting point should be the essential reason for the code – why are those who follow this code gifted with supernatural powers of holiness? If this can be summed up in a single motto or short cant, so much the better. For example, the basic paladin’s code might be summarised as ‘act with honour and avoid evil deeds’. It is a surprisingly passive code – there is no requirement for the paladin to go out and do anything against evil – although this is well suited for a basic code that is trying to put as few restrictions on the nature of the paladin
as possible. More complex, specialised codes can be used, although the player and DM should be careful not to constrain the paladin too much. It is easy, for example, to design a holy knight dedicated to defending the king, protecting the honour of the king, bringing justice in the king’s name and who fights in the king’s wars. However, such a specialised character really has no reason to do anything that is not directly related to the king. Give the character some leeway for independent action and adventuring. Think of the standard
adventure plots (dungeon crawl, murder mystery, epic quest, characters in charge of some fortress or business, survival in the wilderness and so on) and ensure that the code will allow the character to participate fully in each of these.
The next step is selecting which tenets will apply to the paladin. As mentioned above, the number of tenets should be 15 for a moderate code and 20 for a strict code. Try to avoid tenets which radically contradict themselves; the ideals of the code will never perfectly apply to situations in the real world but the code should not force the paladin to breach it on a daily basis.
List the tenets on the Paladin’s Code sheet. Once both player and DM are satisfied with the code design, a copy of this sheet should be kept by both and consulted when the character is in danger of breaching his code.
Honor & Justice
These tenets govern the paladin’s day-to-day behaviour and interactions with his peers.
This tenet covers the paladin’s public face – his reputation and sense of personal honour.
In some codes, it is vital that a paladin retain the respect of his peers and the common folk; in others, the paladin is focused on higher goals and cares nothing for what others think of him. A paladin risks breaching the tenet of personal reputation when he is
humiliated, when his abilities are questioned or challenged, or when he is accused of crimes or dishonourable behaviour.
0: The paladin’s reputation is irrelevant. He may be a social pariah or seen as a lunatic. As long as he keeps true to his other tenets, he is content.
1: The paladin must maintain his good standing in the community. If he commits a deed that would result in him being exiled or disgraced, he breaches his code. Still, he need not have anything more than the most basic respect of his peers.
2: The paladin must be an example to others; his reputation must be unsullied at all times. The honour of his family and the respect of his peers are all-important. If the paladin allows an insult to his honour or family to go unavenged, he breaches his code.
3: At this level, the paladin’s reputation is everything. He cannot permit even minor slights to his honour. He must maintain his standing and reputation at all times; this means that he cannot ever act in a way unbecoming to a character of his station. A noble paladin could not, for example, be seen to be doing manual labour or acting in a cowardly fashion if such things are prescribed for those of noble standing.
Lies and Truth
The word of a paladin is generally a synonym for unimpeachable honesty. They do not lie or wilfully deceive and they expect the same behaviour from others. Despite their insightful nature and charming demeanour (high Wisdom and Charisma), few paladins are adept at either lying or spotting trickery in others. Many of them are innocents at heart.
0: The paladin is expected to tell the truth but may lie without penalty.
1: The paladin may lie only to prevent harm or protect another. In all other matters, the paladin must be perfectly honest, telling the truth to the best of his knowledge and ability. He may make lies of omission (not volunteering information, leaving things out), but only when necessary. He may lie to deceive evil creatures but only when absolutely necessary. He may conceal his status as a paladin when necessary.
2: The paladin may lie only when no other valid option permits itself. He should consult with a religious mentor, confessor or other moral guide before doing so and may lie only when telling the truth would be an evil act. The paladin may conceal his identity but only when protecting himself or others from evil.
3: The paladin may not lie under any circumstances. He may not conceal his identity or status as a paladin; he may not use deceit or treachery. He embodies truthfulness. Any willful mistruth is a breach of the paladin’s code.
Law and Justice
While the paladin’s code may not precisely align with the local laws, the paladin is an agent of Law as well as Good. He must try to obey whatever laws and customs he encounters, as long as they are lawful in nature. A culture where ‘might makes right’ and the ‘law’ is equivalent to the whim of a warlord is not lawful. The paladin must respect the local laws.
0: The paladin’s respect for the local laws is a notational one – he may breach them freely in the pursuit of his paladin duties. Obviously, a paladin who breaks the law risks retribution from the city watch or other civil authorities but he does not risk breaching his code.
1: The paladin must obey the local laws, save where doing so would endanger the greater good. A paladin could steal in order to obtain a necessary item but only if there is no legal way to obtain it. He must co-operate with the local authorities when requested; he must also respect those in positions of authority and obey them under most circumstances.
2: The paladin must obey the local laws at all times. He may only break them if there is no other alternative and may only take this step after a period of reflection and consultation with a moral guide. The nature of the laws makes little difference to the paladin – all laws are worthy of respect.
Similarly, he must respect those in positions of authority and obey their commands save in the most extreme situations.
3: The paladin may not break the law under any circumstances, no matter how important. He is permitted to ignore laws that directly conflict with his morals (i.e. he would not have to obey a law that called upon him to murder all elves on sight) but wherever possible he must conform to the laws of the state, even when doing so would greatly inconvenience him or put him in great danger. Any willful breaking of any law, even inconsequential ones, breaches the paladin’s code.
Torture and Mistreatment
Often, the paladin must extract information from a foe about some greater evil; a minor
cultist might know where the cult’s blasphemous temple is hidden, or a captured orc
might know something of the orc horde’s plans to attack a city. However, deliberately
inflicting pain on a helpless foe may be in contravention of the paladin’s code. Balancing
these demands is a difficult quandary for the paladin. Note that mental commands may
fall under this tenet; crippling someone’s mind with a spell is just as morally hazardous
for a paladin. In any case, the paladin should have another do the actual torturing – this
tenet refers to what the paladin allows to take place under his authority.
0: Torture is not mentioned in the paladin’s code; any methods may be used when
necessary to extract information.
The paladin must not torture for entertainment or out of sheer cruelty; there must be a
higher purpose to any such torturous acts. Any pain should be a refining pain, one that
ultimately furthers the cause of good.
1: The paladin may use torture only when all other methods have failed. Magical
compulsion or trickery is preferred when it comes to extracting information.
2: The paladin may not use physical or magical coercion under any circumstances. The
only method used when questioning a prisoner is Intimidation.
3: The only ‘torture’ that is permitted is guilt and the pain of conscience. A foe may be
questioned, of course, but it is up to that foe to see the virtue of the paladin’s cause and
agree to aid. The paladin may ask a cleric to use zone of truth or discern lies to analyse
the information given by the foe but only the most civil and humane methods of
interrogation may be used. See also the Tenet on the Treatment of Prisoners.
The paladin’s word is his bond. If he makes a promise, he must keep it no matter what it
costs him. This applies usually to formal oaths, ones witnessed by others and sealed by
invocations of the gods or the paladin’s name, but some paladins keep themselves to even
Note that as oaths are ‘optional’, they are something the paladin chooses to inflict upon
himself instead of a restriction handed down as part of his code, the penalties for breaking
them are even more severe – increase the breach level by +1 if the paladin breaks this
tenet of his code.
0: The paladin has no special restriction on oaths – he will of course endeavour to keep
true to his word, but suffers no penalty if the vicissitudes of the world prevent him from
completing that which he promised to do.
1: The paladin must keep to any formal oaths he makes. If the paladin says something
like ‘I swear upon my sword to do…’ or ‘by my god, I shall slay…’ then he is bound by
that oath and failing to accomplish that which he promised to do is a breach of his code.
Legal contracts are also considered to be formal oaths.
2: Not only are formal oaths utterly binding to the paladin but informal promises and
bargains are also binding. If the paladin agrees to do something, he must do it. His
honour is his life.
3: At this level, the paladin can no more break an oath than he can breathe under water.
Any declaration by the paladin is considered an oath – if he says ‘thou art a dead man’, then
he is either addressing an undead creature, or else someone is about to be slain. Such
paladins tend to be taciturn folk.
The Field of Battle
This section of the code is the one that affects adventuring paladins the most, especially
as they must balance the demands of the code (which are designed mainly for open
warfare) with the demands of the informal, guerrilla-style combat of an adventuring
party. Rules about capturing foes or not using treachery make much more sense when
applied to a field full of armoured knights than when applied to a few desperate treasure
seekers trapped deep underground. Still, the code holds the paladin tightly in all
Murder and Combat (See alternate version below)
Despite his martial training, the paladin is not a butcher. His skills at combat are a gift
from the heavens and must only be used when appropriate. The paladin may strike down
only those who are unpleasing to the gods. This restriction may weigh heavily upon
adventurers, who must make decisions in the heat of the moment on who to attack.
Note that in medieval Europe, any murder weighed heavily on the soul, even deaths
during battle. The monasteries grew rich because hundreds of monks were needed and
paid to say prayers for the souls of knights and warrior lords. Killing is a serious matter at
all times; increase the breach level by +1 in all cases should the paladin breach this tenet.
A paladin should always use detect evil when in doubt.
0: Death is a part of life; regrettable but acceptable when necessary. The paladin may
fight in self-defence and in the defence of others; he may fight when commanded to by a
higher authority and he may destroy those who he deems deserving of death.
1: The paladin may kill only in self-defence, or when he has used detect evil to confirm
that a target is evil. He may also kill when in the service of his lord or the church.
2: The paladin may kill only those who are definitely evil; further, he should endeavour
to bring most evil-doers before the courts instead of killing them. Should this not be
possible, he may kill.
3: The paladin may not kill other creatures unless they detect as evil, are clearly a threat
to others and the paladin has exhausted all other methods of dealing with them. Undead,
chromatic dragons and evil outsiders are exempt from this restriction, but all others are
protected by this tenet.
A Militant Version
Some paladin orders are considerably more forceful in dealing with evil. Such orders are
often inquisitions or warrior-monk sects. Here, the paladin risks breaching his code if he
does not kill his enemies. Both versions of this tenet have the same level 0, but the
Militant version has different requirements for levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Tenet of Murder
and Combat. A Paladin must choose which version to select; he may not take a tenet in
1: The paladin must destroy evil creatures who have attacked or significantly threatened
him or a good creature under his protection. He may not cease his attacks until these
creatures are dead or utterly defeated and pose no further threat.
2: The paladin must destroy any evil creatures he can. If it is within his power to destroy
an evil, then he must destroy that evil. This tenet does not demand that the paladin not
retreat or not use certain tactics – those are the province of other tenets – but it does
demand that the paladin not spare an evil creature, or permit evil to exist if he can
possibly destroy it.
3: Any evil the paladin encounters must be destroyed immediately, if he can do so.
Furthermore, anyone who opposes the paladin’s efforts against evil is also deemed to be
evil and must be destroyed. Let nothing stop the paladin’s holy crusade against the
Treachery and Tactics
The rules of engagement apply to the paladin at all times. He must obey the conventions
of war even in informal combats, such as skirmishes in dungeons. Depending on the
severity of the paladin’s code, he may be permitted to waive this tenet when fighting
those such as demons or undead who deserve no mercy, no quarter whatsoever. In other
situations, though, the paladin must treat his foes with respect; even a dragon or orc can
have a knightly soul.
0: The rules of warfare are not part of the paladin’s code; he may use ambushes,
treachery, poison and other forms of covert combat. All is fair on the field of battle.
1: The paladin may not use false alliances or poison but may use deceitful tactics such as
attacking from hiding or ambush, attacking in unusual methods (flooding a dungeon,
collapsing the ceiling) and so on.
2: The paladin must obey the rules of warfare – he must:
• present himself to the enemy,
• challenge them openly on the field of battle,
• engage them in direct combat,
• allow the injured and dead to be retrieved from the battlefield,
• not attack downed or helpless foes or non-combatants.
Basically, the character must have a stand-up, toe-to-toe fight with the enemy, treating
them as honourable foes.
If the enemy breaches the rules of engagement, then the paladin may too.
3: The paladin must obey the rules of warfare at all times, even when fighting enemies
that use treachery and evil tactics. A band of ambushing, poison-using kobolds must
be treated with the respect and honour due to a band of knights. The paladin must always
fight in an honorable and dignified manner.
Duels and Challenges
Formal duels, jousts and challenges are part of the paladin’s code. He is a champion of
good and therefore must be ready to be the spearhead in the war against evil, engaging
the rival champions of evil in single combat. The nature of the duels that the paladin is
expected to partake in varies; jousts and swordfights are traditional, but at the higher
levels of this tenet, the paladin must be ready to accept any challenge issued to him.
0: The paladin is under no special restrictions when it comes to duels and challenges; he
is not bound to engage in any sort of stylised or ritualised combat. He may ignore
challenges issued to him if he deems them unfair.
1: The paladin is bound to accept challenges to single combat from his peers (other
fighters and paladins) but not monsters such as dragons or giants. He should also issue
such challenges to such rivals before fighting them and respect the rules of single combat.
2: The paladin is bound to accept challenges to single combat from all foes worthy of
respect (this includes dragons but does not include most undead, nor does it include evil
outsiders). He should issue such challenges to such rivals before fighting them.
3: The paladin is bound to accept all challenges – not just ones to single combat, but
challenges of any sort that the paladin can compete in. He should issue challenges to any
champions of evil he encounters. Failure to issue a challenge or to accept a challenge is a
breach of this tenet.
Valour and Foolhardiness
The paladin is expected to be brave and heroic at all times. He must honour this tenet
through heroic and self-sacrificing deeds. Some see these acts as sheer foolhardiness and
certainly the paladin must go where angels fear to tread. The higher this tenet, the higher
the degree of bravery demanded of the paladin.
0: The better part of valour is discretion; the paladin is not expected to display any
bravery beyond that of a normal champion of good. He may retreat as needed and need
not charge into battle. He is under no restrictions with regard to valour.
1: The paladin is expected to be the first into every fight and the last to leave. He may not
show cowardice in the face of danger, but may retreat if reduced to one-quarter of his hit
point total or if faced with grave danger. He may choose not to enter a fight if
outnumbered (use Hit Dice as a guide when dealing with large numbers – a 10th level
paladin facing 10 ½ HD goblins may not retreat without breaching his code).
2: The paladin must be at the forefront of every battle. He may retreat only if reduced to
one-tenth of his hit point total, or when facing overwhelming odds. He may choose not to
enter a fight if outnumbered two-to-one or more.
3: No surrender, no retreat. The war against evil knows no bounds; he may choose not to
enter a fight only if death is absolutely certain (outnumbered five-to-one or more).
Once he enters a battle, he may not retreat under any circumstances.
The ethical treatment of prisoners is one aspect of the paladin’s code that causes all sorts
of problems in-game. Characters are often faced with the problem of having captured an
enemy but being unable to secure their prisoner. If the apprentice of an enemy wizard is
captured, can the characters risk dragging a hostile enemy along with them as they travel.
This is especially common in dungeon crawls – the party wipes out all the warriors of an
orc tribe but what do they do with the orc women and children?
0: The paladin is permitted to deal with prisoners as he sees fit – while he is encouraged
to deal with them in a kind and honourable fashion, the needs of a higher cause should
guide his actions. The character does not have to take any special care in dealing with
1: The paladin must scan all prisoners with detect evil. Those who are evil may be slain
out of hand – those who are not evil should either be freed or tried by the secular
authorities. A prisoner under the paladin’s care must be healed to prevent them from
dying and must be given food, water and a certain amount of dignity.
2: The paladin must scan all prisoners with detect evil – only those who are Moderately
evil (or worse) may be killed.
All others should either be freed or tried by the secular authorities.
3: All prisoners are sacred – the paladin may not kill any who have surrendered to him,
not even the most depraved and despicable individuals. The paladin may take whatever
reasonable steps are needed to prevent a prisoner from escaping, but they should still be
Dealing with Evil
The paladin is expected not to associate with evil creatures under any circumstances;
what could a paladin have to say to such beings, other than ‘prepare to die, fiend?’ That
said, this is a fallen and corrupt world and a paladin may find himself having to
compromise his ethics in pursuit of a greater good. The level of this compromise varies
depending on the Tenet of Dealing With Evil.
This tenet applies only when the paladin knows or suspects those he is dealing with are
evil. Actions such as trading items, commerce and just spending time in the company of
others are covered by this tenet.
0: The paladin is expected to have the strength of will to deal with evil and not be
corrupted by mere contact. The paladin may speak with evil creatures and even work
with them for mutual gain, as long as such an alliance directly and immediately furthers
the cause of good. The paladin must also be constantly vigilant to ensure that such an
alliance does not corrupt him; every action taken in association with evil must be
carefully examined from a moral standpoint.
1: The paladin may parlay with evil creatures and deal with them on a limited basis when
required. He may ally with them only if there is no other way whatsoever to accomplish
his mission and then only after all possible alternatives have been exhausted. This
alliance must directly and immediately further the cause of good.
2: The paladin may parley with evil creatures and deal with them if there is no other way
to obtain a particular item or piece of information. He may not under any circumstances
ally with evil creatures, even if it seems that all hope will be lost if he does not.
3: The paladin should not even speak with evil creatures if he can avoid it. He should
avoid dealing with them, nor may he ally with them. Any contact with evil endangers the
paladin’s soul, so he should minimise such contacts. Evil is utterly untrustworthy, utterly
base – any true words spoken to evil beings are as stones dropped down an endlessly
These tenets cover the paladin’s duties unto others. Some paladins are defenders of the
common people, while others are champions of higher powers and so concentrate on
greater goals. These tenets tend to interfere with adventuring, as the paladin is called
away to aid the weak and unfortunate when he might prefer to be questing for glory.
Aid and Succour
The Tenet of Aid and Succour covers the paladin’s duty to help those who are presently
in need. This tenet applies when the paladin encounter anyone currently beset by
enemies. As the paladin is expected to be a generous and heroic individual, any breaches
of this tenet are treated especially harshly – increase the breach level by +1.
0: The paladin is under no special requirement to give aid; it is expected of him,
certainly, but he does not breach his code if he fails to give aid. It is up to the paladin
what aid to give and how the aid is secured – a farmer might ask for the paladin’s aid in
driving a druid out of the neighboring woodlands but the paladin’s code would not be
breached if the paladin instead persuaded the druid to allow the farmer to remain.
1: The paladin must give aid to those who ask for it, so long as giving aid does not
prevent the paladin from accomplishing some higher goal and those who are asking for
aid are not evil.
2: The paladin must give aid to those who request it, so long as they are not evil.
3: The paladin must give aid to any who request it.
Charity and Healing
This tenet describes the paladin’s responsibility to aid the common folk by distributing
his recovered treasure and his healing ability. Should the paladin not have any healing
ability remaining to him that day, he is obliged to either wait until he has replenished his
lay on hands ability or to use his own stored healing potions and scrolls to provide aid.
The paladin need not fully restore the hit points of an injured creature – as long as the
creature is not in immediate danger of dying, then the paladin has done his duty.
0: The paladin is under no special requirement to give either money or healing magic to
those in need, although his personal conscience may guide him to do so; he does not
breach his code if he fails to do so.
1: The paladin is obliged to heal any good creatures in need. He must also give 10% of
any treasure he recovers to the common folk, distributing it among the poor or using it to
fund good works.
2: The paladin should heal any wounded non-evil creature he encounters. He must also
give 25% of any treasure he recovers to charities.
3: At this level, any wounded creature that the paladin can help, he must help. Even evil
creatures should be healed by the paladin, except where this would put other good
creatures in immediate danger. He must also give at least half his treasure to charities and
Protection and Defence
This tenet covers the paladin’s responsibility to defend the common folk. The Tenet of
Aid and Succour covers immediate problems, while this tenet is more long ranging.
There is a degree of overlap, of course, but this tenet focuses much more on monstrous
and supernatural dangers that threaten the people.
0: Failure to give protection does not breach the paladin’s code, although he is still
expected to do his duty in the defence of the land.
1: The paladin must always respond to dangers that present an immediate threat to the
common folk. The danger must be a clear one – mere shadows of danger, such as orc
scouts or tales of coming evil are not enough. If the paladin fails to respond to a clear
and present danger, though, he breaches this tenet.
2: Not only must the paladin respond to immediate threats, but he must also take steps
to prepare for coming dangers. If the paladin is ever found to be unready to defend the
common folk when danger threatens, he breaches his code.
3: At this level of the tenet, the paladin is considered the first and last line of defence for
the common folk. Should rumours of a rampaging dragon or rising darkness reach his
ears, and the paladin fails to investigate, then he breaches his code. Eternal vigilance is
required of the paladin.
Religion and the Church
Most paladins are agents of one deity or ethos and so have strong ties to the church that
serves the same power. Depending on the campaign, paladins may actually be members
of the clergy or the military wing of the church, or they may simply be pious noble
This tenet determines how strict the paladin’s observation of religious ceremonies must
Such ceremonies must be conducted by a cleric or other character with five or more ranks
in Knowledge (religion). A religious ceremony takes at least one hour.
0: Failure to attend a religious service does not breach the paladin’s code; his faith is held
in his heart, not in the recitation of mantras.
1: The paladin must attend the major festivals and important ceremonies of the church (at
least four per year). He must also seek counsel and absolution from clerics of his religion
on a regular basis. He must also pray for at least half an hour each day but this can be
done at any time. The paladin can travel and perform simple actions while praying but
not use special abilities or fight while praying.
2: The paladin must attend a religious ceremony at least once each week. He must also
pray for at least two hours each day, although this can be divided into four half-hour
3: The paladin must attend a religious ceremony on a daily basis. Failure to do so
breaches the paladin’s code. He must also pray for at least two hours each day.
This tenet of the code dictates how much of his wealth the paladin must give to the
church. Note that the paladin may be permitted to spend this money on arms and weapons
for himself, or on a stronghold – however, such items belong to the church, not the
paladin and must be used in accordance with the church’s wishes.
0: The paladin is not required to donate anything to the church.
1: The paladin is required to donate 10% of his treasure to the church. Such a tithe may
be given annually, in which case it is normally a set value that does not vary from year
to year, or it may be given whenever the paladin recovers a treasure horde, in which case
it is simply one-tenth of the paladin’s share of the horde.
2: The paladin is required to donate 40% of his treasure to the church.
3: The paladin technically owns nothing except the clothes on his back, his horse and his
sword. Everything else he holds belongs to the church. He lives the life of an ascetic
Duty to the Church
The paladin is bound to the church by oaths of fealty and service; when the clerics
demand his sword, he must obey. The paladin breaches this tenet if he fails to obey the
commands of the church.
0: The paladin’s duty to the church is not part of his code.
1: The paladin must obey the commands of the church but only those issued by those in
positions of high authority. A village priest or low-level cleric would have no influence
over the paladin, but a senior cleric would. The paladin must undertake one quest each
year on behalf of the church.
2: The paladin must obey the commands of any cleric or anointed clergy of the church.
The paladin must undertake three quests each year on behalf of the church.
3: Not only is the paladin bound to obey any commands issued by agents of the church,
his will is utterly subservient to the church. He may not act in any way that would harm
or endanger the church or its interests.
Not all paladins are required to be chaste and pure. Indeed, with their charm and grace,
some paladins have cut quite a swathe through the ladies (or lords) of the court. Still,
purity of spirit can stem from purity of body, so many do vow to abstain from pleasures
and entanglements of the flesh.
0: The paladin is not required to be chaste. He is still expected to act in a moral and
1: The paladin is permitted sexual relations, so long as he ensures any prospective
partners are good. Falling victim to seduction or charm or dalliances with the fey is
forbidden for the paladin.
2: The paladin is permitted sexual relations only within the confines of marriage. He
should avoid situations where his lower urges might be aroused, and must be watchful for
3: The paladin is not permitted sexual relations at all. He should try to abjure the
company of the opposite sex when possible.
Chivalry and Feudalism
Just as the paladin has a duty to the church, he may also have a duty to his feudal lord,
assuming the paladin is of noble blood or is a landholder. These duties can weigh heavily
on the paladin.
Duty to the King
This tenet covers the paladin’s feudal oaths. He is bound to respect and obey the crown,
as well as his liege lords.
0: The paladin’s duty to the king and the nobility is not part of his code.
1: The paladin must obey commands given by the king or other members of the royal
family as if they were divine commands. Failure to carry out such a command results
in a breach of the paladin’s code. Furthermore, the paladin must carry out one quest each
year for the honour and glory of the king.
2: The paladin must obey commands given by the king or any other liege lord of his as if
they were divine commands. This chain of command extends upwards from the paladin
to the supreme monarch of the land – if the king grants a duchy to Lord Alain and he
gives a barony to Baron de Winter, and Baron de Winter is the paladin’s liege lord, then
any of these three good nobles may command the paladins.
3: The paladin’s first and foremost duty must be the defence of the realm. He must be
constantly vigilant for threats to the land; any injury to the realm is a breach of the
paladin’s code of honour.
The paladin owes a certain amount of service to his liege lord; the higher this tenet, the
more he owes. Note that money spent on feudal dues do not count towards obtaining
0: The paladin owes nothing more than whatever his lord asks of him – in most cases this
will be nothing.
1: The paladin must give 5% of his treasure to his liege lord; alternatively, he may pay
this through service, sending soldiers or other agents.
2: The paladin owes 10% of his treasure to his liege lord.
3: The paladin owes 25% of his treasure to his liege lord.
Associations and Companions
These final tenets are some of the most difficult for the paladin to live with. The code
dictates who he may ally with, who he may associate with – who he may call friend.
The Tenet of Companionship refers to those people that the paladin chooses to travel
with, and who serve him. While a paladin may under certain circumstances deal and
bargain with evil creatures, he certainly may not associate with them on a long-term
basis. As this tenet grows stricter, the level of morality demanded of the paladin’s
0: The paladin has no particular restrictions on who he associates with, so long as they
are not actively engaged in evil deeds.
1: The paladin may not count evil creatures among his companions or followers, although
he may associate with thieves, barbarians, vagabonds, wizards and other folk of
questionable character. His followers must be Good.
2: The paladin may only associate with good people of the same or compatible faiths (i.e.
their deities must be the same or allied with the god or ethos of the paladin).
3: The paladin may only associate with Lawful Good people, preferably fellow paladins,
clerics and other likeminded folk. His followers must be Lawful Good and of special
Finally, the Tenet of Fellowship determines what level of behaviour is expected from the
paladin’s companions. This tenet is based on the paladin’s own code – the higher the
level of this tenet, then the more of the paladin’s code applies to his companions. Should
any of his companions breach the paladin’s code, then it is the paladin who suffers the
penalty for the breach.
0: The paladin should guide his companions on the path of righteousness but their
stumbles and failures do not necessarily reflect poorly upon him.
1: The paladin’s code applies to his companions but all its tenets are reduced by two – for
example, if a paladin has a tenet at level three, then it applies to his companions and
followers at level one.
2: As above, but the level of the tenets is reduced by only one.
3: As above, but the code applies with full intensity to the companions of the paladin
If the paladin breaks any one of the tenets of his code, he has committed a breach and
will be punished in some fashion.
The greater the severity of the breach, the more the paladin will suffer. The severity of a
breach is determined using the breach level, which is calculated as follows.
Firstly, the initial breach level is equal to the level of the tenet that was broken, +1 (so,
breach level two for a level one tenet, breach level three for a level two tenet and breach
level four for a level three tenet).
The following modifiers are then applied.
Conflicted Code: The paladin avoided breaking a higher tenet by breaking a lower one.
For example, a paladin’s code demands that he obey the orders of his superiors (level one
tenet), but does not kill innocents (level three tenet). A superior commands him to set fire
to a town, which would lead to the death of innocents. The paladin refuses and breaches
the level one tenet in his adherence to the level three tenet. This reduces the breach level
Unknowing Breach: The paladin was unaware of certain factors when he made his
decision, so he did not know that his actions would constitute a breach of the code.
Perhaps he was unaware that an evil doppelganger was masquerading as another paladin
and forgot to use detect evil before handing over an important holy artifact. While
ignorance is no excuse, it is a mitigating factor. This reduces the breach level by 1.
Minor Breach: While the paladin has technically broken his code, no ill came of it and it
was only a minor contravention of his tenets. If the breach was truly an inconsequential
one, a breach that nothing other than a divinely appointed agent of Law would notice,
then the breach level is reduced by 1.
Compulsion: The paladin was under the effect of a mind-altering spell or substance. This
factor only applies if the paladin was unwittingly placed under this effect – a charm spell
cast on the paladin or a hallucinogenic poison slipped into his food counts but the paladin
getting drunk and stabbing someone in a knifefight does not. If the paladin was under a
compulsion, the breach level is reduced by 1.
Dire Breach: The paladin’s actions are a complete and utter violation of the tenet – if the
code demands that he not lie and he forges a history book and then uses his honourable
reputation for perfect honesty to endorse it to ensure that no one ever knows the truth,
then he has not only broken his code, he has trampled on it. A dire breach increases the
breach level by 2.
Wilful Breach: If the paladin knows that he is about to violate his code, is warned about
the consequences of his actions, but continues anyway, this constitutes a wilful breach. If
the warning came from a lay friend of the paladin or a stranger, the breach level is
increased by 1.
If the warning came from a fellow paladin, a cleric or a moral guide, then the breach level
is increased by 2. If the warning came from an angel or other celestial being specifically
sent to warn the paladin about his actions, the breach level is increased by 3.
Multiple Breaches: A single action has breached several of the tenets of the paladin’s
code. Add the level of each tenet to the breach level (so breaching two level three tenets
at once is a level seven breach).
Repeated Breach: The paladin has breached this tenet before – a paladin is expected to
learn from his mistakes, and not sin in the same way again. This increases the breach
level by 1.
Once the breach level has been calculated, the effects are applied to the paladin. At each
breach level, the penalties applied to the paladin and suggestions for what he must do
to atone are listed.
Breach Level 0: No Breach
While the paladin may have technically violated his code in the strictest sense, there is no
true sin or harm in this case.
Cures: None required.
Breach Level 1: Venial Breach
A venial breach is a breach that deserves punishment but is eminently forgivable and
does not separate the paladin from the divine. A venial breach does not greatly affect the
paladin’s supernatural abilities.
Penalties: Guilt-wracked dreams and –2 sacred penalty to Charisma when dealing with
celestials and high ranking church officials.
Cures: Prayer; 100 gp donation to the church or charity; minor acts of contrition.
Breach Level 2: Minor Breach
A minor breach is a significant breach, one that has notable consequences for the paladin.
Those trained in observing such things will notice a minor stain on the paladin’s aura
Penalties: Loss of divine grace or radiance.
Cures: Prayer and penance; 500 gp donation to the church or charity; acts of contrition
such as a quest in the service of the god without hope of reward. The paladin must also
increase one of his tenets by +1.
Breach Level 3: Dangerous Breach
A dangerous breach puts the paladin at risk of severing his link to the divine; it is a
warning that the paladin has jeopardised his holy standing. At this level, the paladin
requires atonement or a similar significant act of contrition to make up for his failing.
Penalties: Loss of divine grace, radiance, and righteous cause; or loss of exalted mount
Cures: Atonement; quest lasting for two weeks per level of the paladin in the service of
the paladin’s god or ethos; 1,000 gp donation to the church or charity. The paladin must
also increase two of his tenets by 1.
Breach Level 4: Major Breach
If a paladin has committed a major breach of his code, he has failed, pure and simple. He
has exiled himself from the light of heaven and abjured his status as a paladin. He
therefore loses all his paladin abilities save one of his choice – he must use this one
remaining ability to rebuild his relationship with the divine and hence restore his abilities.
Penalties: The loss of all paladin abilities save one of the character’s choice.
Cures: Atonement; quest lasting one month per level of the paladin in the service of the
paladin’s god or ethos. The paladin must also increase three of his tenets by 1.
Breach Level 5: Utter Breach
An utter breach completely severs the paladin’s connection to the heavens. The character
instantly loses all his paladin abilities and his status as a knight of the church. At this
level, the paladin teeters on the edge of corruption – an evil outsider such as an imp will
be dispatched to visit him and offer him the chance to become a blackguard.
Penalties: Loss of all paladin abilities.
Cures: Atonement cast by a cleric of higher level than the paladin, major quest in the
service of the paladin’s god or ethos, 1,000 gp/paladin level donation to the church. The
paladin must also increase four of his tenets by 1.
Breach Level 6: Mortal Breach
At the level of a mortal breach, the paladin has not only ruined his standing as a paladin,
he has also imperiled his immortal soul. If the character fails to atone within a year and a
day, his alignment will move towards evil unless he takes steps to prevent this. He will
also be visited three times by evil outsiders, tempting him with levels of blackguard.
Penalties: Loss of all paladin abilities, eternal damnation.
Cures: Atonement cast by three clerics of higher level than the paladin, major quest in the
service of the paladin’s god or ethos, 2000 gp/paladin level donation to the church. The
paladin must also increase five of his tenets by 1.
Breach Level 7: Unforgivable Breach
A paladin who commits an unforgivable breach has
committed sins that damn him instantly and eternally. He loses all paladin abilities and
cannot regain them under any normal circumstances – only the direct intervention of a
god or its avatar can offer the slightest hope of redemption for the paladin. If the
character chooses, he may instantly become a blackguard and trade in paladin levels for
blackguard levels even if he is below the 11th paladin level. A character who commits an
unforgivable breach shall be a black mark in the annals of the paladin’s order for all time.
TENET 0 1 2 3
Honour and Justice
Lies and Truth
Law and Justice
Torture and Mistreatment
The Field of Battle
Murder and Combat
Treachery and Tactics
Duels and Challenges
Valour and Foolhardiness
Dealing with Evil
Aid and Succour
Charity and Healing
Protection and Defence
Religion and the Church
Duty to the Church
Chivalry and Feudalism
Duty to the King
Associates and Companions