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I'm the GM of a group where one PC (a greedy dwarf fighter) recently died. The player chose a new character, a human paladin. The player is new at roleplaying and after two sessions playing the paladin, he expressed that he does not like to play the new character. He loved his dwarf before, because of his quirks being greedy and all that.

The player does not want to be always lawful-good aligned, so I thought of converting the paladin to an anti-paladin who is chaotic-evil. Maybe the character has a dream at night of some evil deity, follows the deity in his dream and when waking up the next morning, the PC realizes that his shiny white armor is now pitch black, and he became an anti-paladin.

Would this be possible inside the rules of pathfinder? When regarding changing the feats etc. I guess, that I can look it up in the "Advanced Players Guide".

How would you handle this situation of converting a Paladin to an Anti-Paladin?

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Make him a paladin of Aastilabor the Hoardmistress; then he has a legitimate excuse to be greedy. –  Cobalt May 13 at 3:13
    
For quick, off the shelf, definitions of PC paladin alternatives, do a google search for Death Knight –  blueberryfields May 13 at 21:49

5 Answers 5

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+100

A Radically Different Idea

Your player had fun playing a greedy awesomedwarf? And now isn't having fun playing a Stop Right There! Paladin? Easy.

Have him take that in-character.

Whoa, whoa, what are you talking about?

Simple. Have the paladin start to be dissatisfied with the course he's taking. Have him start bucking authority, becoming a dangerous loose cannon. Going a bit far. Being reckless. I'm directly quoting Lethal Weapon here, because that's what you want to be. Martin Riggs is the ideal Paladin-walking-a-darker-path. He wants to be Good, and Lawful, but there's just so much darn Evil out there, and it's hurting the innocent. So many good reasons to just cut that moustache-twirling evil guy's head right off, and not give a damn.

Maybe the Captain of the Town Guard calls him in and lectures him and threatens to just stuff him in prison - maybe it's his direct superior in the paladin order. Either way, you do your part by having authority figures drive him further towards vigilantism, violence, and using evil means to defeat evil, and he can do his part by playing a conflicted, confused young man treading a path that leads to darker acts than his foes can even dream of - all in the name of Good.

And then you end up with something a bit deeper than a black suit of armour with a different flavour of boring character inside.

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This only works if you eliminate or massively tweak the (god-awful) falling mechanics. –  KRyan May 12 at 13:58
    
@JackLesnie Might be worth pointing out the above in your answer, since the falling mechanics do exist, and people are going to wonder about how this fits in with them. –  Jonathan Hobbs May 14 at 5:05
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Damn good answer, sir! Bloody mechanics get in the way of good RP and to mention them would do a disservice to your awesome response. –  LordScree May 20 at 22:29

Not much, save by DM fiat, also beware introducing chaotic evil characters to a non-evil party (or any party at all, for that matter) and expecting that party to continue adventuring.

3.5 Had the blackguard, which allowed high level paladins to swap moral absolutes (purely intentionally though, no accidental falls allowed), and just made low-level fallen paladins fighters without any of the extras:

A paladin who ceases to be lawful good, who willfully commits an evil act, or who grossly violates the code of conduct loses all paladin spells and abilities (including the service of the paladin’s mount, but not weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She may not progress any farther in levels as a paladin. She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations (see the atonement spell description), as appropriate.

While non-core material has a "antipaladin" alternate-paladin class, it's written for NPCs to be moustache-twirlingly evil, and has no provision for swapping levels of paladin for it.

Unfortunately, the only "easy" way to do this is to replace class levels via DM fiat and a story event marking the intentional fall from grace. The simplest alternative is to replace the character's paladin levels with fighter levels, as the gods' gifts simply leave the character. A cavalier order may accept the disgraced paladin as a penitent, however.

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A previous answer said that Pathfinder does not have any set rules for a Paladin who Falls from Grace, but that's not true. The Antipaladin in the book has a sidebar all about it called "Fall from Grace" which is also reproduced on its d20 PFSRD page. –  James Collar Jul 12 at 19:43

If the main issue the player has is playing a "boring" lawful-good paladin, the best suggestion is to make him, well, a less boring lawful-good paladin. Check out the answers to this question:

for idea on how to play interesting paladins. Paladins can be fantastic characters to play once you realize they can be any passionate warriors following a god, principle or ideology, not necessarily a classic annoying goody-two-shoes. You can keep the paladin's powers, avoid complicated house-ruling, but still make the character fun to play.

If you don't want to retcon the existing paladin at all, you can make this an in-character fall from grace, but instead of turning into an anti-paladin, you can have him turn into a different paladin.

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A Paladin is a zealous believer of his path and would usually even under the most stressfullest of situations stay true to his deity. If a Paladin converts, this is usually the result of a mind-shattering event, something of such emotional strength that it has a good chance of turning people insane. A bad night sleep, even if there was any deity, would be understood as a challenge, and no true Paladin would say the next morning: "Oh my armor is black... let's change the god then."

There are several options in your case:

  • The DM way: You can have a chant with your player and offer him to exchange his classes for something similar just without the lawful good part. Maybe a different class fits him better. Maybe a Bard? This is a good idea for a new player who just made a wrong choice, but you need to make sure that these sudden switches are a one-time thing.

  • If your player does want to play a Paladin, just not as lawful good, you can attach a huge story to that event and make it the main focus of your campaign. This however requires lots of work from your side, and you should make sure that this new player will actually stay to finish that story. And that your other players are ok with such a campaign focused on one character.

  • Let him play as he wants, and let his actions follow consequences. This works best if players are of a more experienced age (aka old) and can deal with the consequences. If they take the game as a game and are not frustrated if their characters get into unpleasant situations, this might be a hook for an interesting adventure: "The falling Paladin".

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One other thought: Paladin of which god? Not all gods are Lawful Good. Some are just Good. Some are just Lawful. There may be some wiggle room there. See the item referenced about how to play a Paladin without being a goody-two-shoes.

However, storytelling and role-playing are important. You have a character here who, for reasons that seemed good at the time, dedicated their life to the service of a deity in nearly the same way that a cleric has... and who, like a cleric, has the deity looking at them particularly closely to grant the the benefits of that dedication. If they start failing to meet their side of the bargain -- if they stop trying to live up to their god's ideals -- the best they can hope for is for those benefits to start failing unexpectedly, perhaps at the worst possible moment, as the god decides they don't deserve special treatment. The god may even start swatting them with penalties -- curses rather than blessings -- in an effort to drive the point home. This is the "Fallen Paladin" approach.

"I'll just switch gods, and ask my new god to protect me"? Again, for someone who is a strong enough believer to have gotten the god's attention in the past to make a move of that sort is likely to Seriously Piss Off the previous deity -- more so than simply losing faith. And, again, role-playing: How often does someone suddenly change their entire belief structure, without serious psychological damage either causing it or caused by it, especially in a world where it's very clear that belief has concrete manifestations? This sounds like a possible basis for a Boss-level opponent's motivations, but it's going to take far-above-ordinary playing skill to make the character someone whom the rest of the party is going to want to have around.

But frankly, the best answer when you have a character whom you really don't like playing, and for whom you can't find an in-game and in-character reason to play differently, is for them to find a reason to leave the party and to roll up another character to be recruited as their replacement. If the GM is feeling kind, maybe the new character can start at a level comparable to the rest of the existing party. A friend of mine once decided he didn't like his Thief, and basically let the thief get careless about seriously backstabbing the party. He got caught, we declared that only a rat would abuse his friends that way, and he was put under a geas to walk ahead of the party and check for traps for the rest of that adventure. A trap he didn't find killed him, we said "good riddance", and when we got back to town we recruited someone else (and interviewed them Really Carefully this time, and didn't tell them what our real ultimate mission was until we were sure we trusted them.)

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