It seems that the owner of Point of Lights decided to respond to my Friday rant on his blog here. And that's fine and I'd like to answer some of his points.
"This does not mean that paladins should also be an ideal choice no-matter-what. A good tenent of game design is that there shouldnt be an immediate "best choice". ", Antioch
The original Paladin n D&D was hardly a 'best choice', for all his additional abilities he was still a Fighter making him combat wise a better choice than that fighter- but he was hardly a replacement for any of the remaining classes.
Even as a Combat selection, there are cases in which he is very much a inferior choice. Various tactical options are off the table when the character is a Paladin. He won't consider them, and perhaps worse from his group's PoV- he won't allow them to consider them. Torture, stealing, taking of hostages, endangering innocents, or just walking away from evil unless it's overwhelming does not fly. His limit on wealth and magic items reduced resources that other Fighters could call upon. And that's just hitting the highlights.
Further the Paladin is interested in his task as an opponent of evil, and this takes away many adventure options that groups typically come across even in the most railroaded campaigns. You don't join up with Joan of Arc and decide that you're rather go dungeon crawling at the crypt instead of fighting the English...
"Now alignment is only as good as the DM enforcing it, so thats not really a balancing mechanic", Antioch
This is an extremely common mistake, i.e. thinking that the rules instead of the GM is the primary enforcer of game balance. It's a common mistake because rules can be viewed as 'balanced' or 'imbalanced' on their own. The error happens when one refuses to see the effect when the players or GMs use those rules, especially those rules that grant them goals and judgment such as Paladin concept.
To use a slightly different example, in the HERO Rules the Stealth ability costs 3 points, points used to buy your character stats and abilities. Out of the box, that's we may say that is mechanically 'balanced'. But such balance can easily fail if the GM is running a Social Romance campaign when the Stealth skill is never used. Or it can be under-costed if the GM is calling for multiple Stealth rolls per session for each character. Rules are very useful, but they are as dumb as bricks. They live only through us.
How people can ignore the players and the GM when evaluting rules and the roles of concepts is a complete mystery to me. But if anything it's becoming more common.
"especially if the player actually wants to play a generally nice guy.", Antioch
I would hope that people playing their characters want to play their character, their weaknesses and limits as well as their strengths. I must wonder at people who want their players to run character they don't want to. And I wonder more at players who stay at that gaming table.
Just because a player is willing, or even enjoying playing under limits that others don't- doesn't mean those limits don't apply.
"I dont care if paladins are supposedly called upon by gods to perform heroic deeds. Its really just a concept, and I dont want their holier-than-thou auras overshadowing the rest of the cast, just 'cause.", Antioch
This was the one completely correct thing Antioch stated. If he doesn't want them, he shouldn't be required to take them.
Running a campaign with a Paladin in the mix is demanding, it will and should take on a air very different than your typical campaign and it's certainly not suited for all groups. I've seen many players in mine and related campaigns attempt to run a Paladin, and after encountering the challenges in do so- give up and went back to the 'lowly' Fighter with his much greater range of freedom and in comparsion care-free life.
Where Antioch (and many modern game designs including 3rd and 4th edition D&D) errors is not refusing to accept the Paladin concept, but instead sticking the players with some pretend 'combat balanced' class with the name of something they are not.
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