I once played an online game of D&D at Treyvan Mush. Mush stands for Multi-User Shared Hallucination, a text based persistent world game connectable from people around the world, think a text only MMO with players making the storylines like tabletop GMs, as well ad admin plots from time to time. On this game, I had heard that the common belief was in 3.5 that Paladins should be fighter prestige classes, as people were playing them as fighters with some cool powers and not engaging the character.
I normally like making characters based on what is needed, filling some sort of a empty role when it comes to the adventure, like being the meatshield or the scout or the social person. When I heard that, I knew I had to make a Paladin.
As this was a MUSH, persistant world was the key, so I could be on RPing with other people at any time of the day or night, and we had roughly twenty to thirty people at the quiet times. Treyvan’s story was a city beseiged by orcs and other monster races, so there were a lot of adventure lines approved by the staff that were focused on attack or defense of the city, not much I remember of traditional dungeon crawls.
Now my Paladin was worked out ahead of time that my application to play included a background as was policy, but also a code of honor which was my Paladin’s code to follow, and I also listed time alottments in a daily schedule for prayer and a couple standard prayers for the God I followed, so the Admin could see the work I had put into it, and could make use of it if they wished.
Some players digitally rolled their eyes when they heard I was playing a Pally, especially when I told them some of the work I did. Guess they were thinking here’s Lawful Stupid the Buzzkill. However, when they played with me, I think I changed their mind about it because my character actually had a lot of depth.
There were a few nights I was out in the tavern, pounding back drinks with everyone else, singing songs and so forth. I even did a little flirting, as by book rules and my code, nothing states Paladins cannot have one night stands if they choose. Just don’t destroy a marriage, for example, but if both are single…?
I held mass in the chapel at morning times or evenings if I was available, with prayers and hyms and even some little sermons I would cobble together, mostly morale boosting stuff more than love thy neighbour. There was even a adventure ome PC ra n that another character I met two years after I left the game still remembered and told me how much they loved it.
The adventure was a group of PCs getting together to attack an orc camp and break the lines to try and help save the city. The Admin had said certain events will change the storyline globally and the city could be saved or fall, so people were doing what they could.
This adventure, me and a couple of other players ran roughshod over the camp, slaughtering the warriors. Then one of the players turned their attention on the non-combat targets to which my Paladin stood in front of, taking the blow and stating if they tried to harm the remaining orcs, I would fight against them. To my character, these orcs had done me and the village no wrong, they were just in a bad place at a bad time. They were the wife and child who followed Daddy as he got posted to a new Army Base, and even then maybe the orcs were just fighting us because they knew no better. After all, when is the last time anyone actually talked to one of these orcs?
My character believed there was good in these orcs and maybe if we offered them a little compassion and gave them a chance, maybe with some guidance they could become good. Now, this was in character and there is no way you can tell me anyone would be able to say ‘All of this sentient race are inherently evil’ unless you’re talking Demons, Devils and that sort of thing. Also out of character, Humans should be a certain alignment restriction too. After all, look at the Goblins webcomic where some Goblins take PC classes, ome even becoming a Paladin.
Anyway, my point of all this, make an interesting and fun character for you to play first and foremost. If its a stat system with random rolls, try a character with not so epic stats occasionally, and give them a story. AD&D 2e my group had another player who made all the required attrib rolls for a Paladin, which was Str 12, Con 9, Wis 13, Cha 17, and then he rolled a 3, which was his Int. I thin Dex was like 14-16. So, we had a dumb as a post stereotypical fighter, sort of Minsc from Baldur’s Gate before there was a computer game. It was a hoot.
I’ve always had a liking for oddball characters. One had six different character sheets with the same physical stats but every mental stat and skills were different as they had Multiple Personality and in times of stess would roll to see who took over, including one where the pacifist took over in the middle of a boss fight. Then there was one I played in a Star
Wars game who was a Defel, think a werewolf looking creature who is pretty well a shadow in normal lighting for human eyes. He was a stealth commando for our strike team, and also the first on the team to do pranks, as one of the human characters was drinking in the bar and flirting, I broke imto his quarters and reprogrammed the computer to play loud noises at my command, making sure the human was up early, dealing with his hangover and such, as payback for a slight he made about my character’s looks.
Another was yet another Paladin who was drunkard, lecherous and liked to gamble, but still was completely Lawful Good. I do have some issues with the Paladin’s Code as written in the D&D core books especially as it applies to combat. Will not lie? Does that mean I can’t feint? What about bluffing in cards? What about attacking the biag bad evil’s lair, is scaling the walls and searching around for them less honorable than knocking on the door and fighting through all their mooks?
Look at some popular media and you’ll find all sorts of examples of this. Anakin Skywalker in the prequels was perhaps poorly written, but he was also not like other Jedi we had seen, liking to be in the thick of the action, making things happen. The Knights of The Round Table have different personalites and all do things differently, no one is a cookie cutter of another, no one story would end the same way with a different knight. And lets not forget Indiana Jones. Ignoring the idea that he was completely irrelevant to the first movie, he has his fear of snakes, his banter with his father during the holy grail quest, and then there’s the scene that shows why you should never bring a knife to a gun fight. Sure, they had a fight scene planned, but Ford was not feeling well and just said ‘Why don’t I just shoot him?’ so he could duck a complex scene, but it fits his character so well.
A character is more than words and numbers on a page, the same as you cannot sum yourself up in a few numbered Ability scores and skill points. It can be approximated, but give that sheet to someone else and see if they can play you, especially if they do not know you.