After reading an excellent post on prestige classes on Will B.’s blog A Wizard’s Kiss, I was inspired to create a paladin non-class by creating a clerical spell that bestows paladin benefits on PC who already have a class. Paladinhood is granted to any non-chaotic, and comes with restrictions as well as benefits. Obviously you want to tailor this to your own campaign, but as a starting point, this feels good. In LotFP, elves and magic users are excluded from paladinhood because they are required to be chaotic. Adjust as you need to for your game.
This is designed for LotFP Grindhouse Edition (free rules here), but can easily be used for Labyrinth Lord, B/X D&D and other OSR fantasy games.
Cleric Level 5
Duration: See below
Bestows paladinhood, and an attendant quest, on a follower of the cleric’s faith. This spell may be cast on any classed or non-classed character who is not aligned with chaos or arcane magic in any way (magic-users and elves are therefore excluded). The paladin retains all the skills and abilities of his current race and class, but has some additional benefits and restrictions placed on him.
Paladinhood comes with a difficult quest that must be followed tenaciously until completed. Any delay of more than a week reduces the paladin’s level by 1 per day until he or she corrects course and pursues the quest, although it is permissible to pursue the quest indirectly in some cases. Recouping from injuries does not count as sidetracking, nor does performing other duties for the cleric.
The cleric who casts this spell has vouched for the paladin’s worthiness in the eyes of the deity. Failure of the paladin, barring death in its pursuit, reflects on the cleric’s reputation and standing in the congregation and church hierarchy. The GM should consider a number of consequences for the paladin failing, disgracing the faith, etc. and only tell the player a few of them. Examples could include a quest of penance, loss of spells, etc.
The spell ends immediately on completion of the quest.
Requirements and Restrictions
The paladin must be or become a follower of the cleric’s faith and must faithfully follow the rules of that faith in order to retain the benefits of the spell. This includes such things as observing holy days, dietary restrictions, etc.
The paladin must follow the directions and instructions of the casting cleric or the god directly. If someone higher in church hierarchy gives a conflicting order, the paladin must refuse.
The paladin must conspicuously wear the symbol of his faith on his or her garb, unless sent on a quest requiring undercover work. In that case, some symbol (tattoo, jewelry) must be secretly worn.
The paladin cannot forsake or repudiate his deity while a paladin. Doing so means instant immolation and death.
The paladin must give away all treasure aside from armor, shield, weapons, holy books and survival gear. If a paladin needs material goods in order to accomplish the quest, this does not countermand that.
This last rule may be revoked on a case by case basis depending on the quest’s requirements. All money and other treasure earned by the paladin must go to the church or the truly needy.
A paladin may not use arcane magic items of any sort.
- After a third stint as a paladin is completed, the character is a permanent paladin with no specific quest.
- While a paladin, the character does not level in his/her original class but levels as a cleric starting at 0 XP, gaining hit points and additional cleric spells beginning at level 2. If the level in the character’s main class is equalled, the PC must choose whether to become a permanent paladin. At that point, they would need to change their alignment to lawful if necessary and never level in their original class, but as a cleric. They would keep all the skills and abilities of their previous class.
+2 HP/level at the time the spell is cast.
Once per day, a paladin may cast the following cleric spells:
Detect Evil (Chaos)
Sanctuary (on self only)
Bless (on self only, 8 points to add to rolls as per the LoTFP version of this spell)
Cure Light Wounds
Turn Undead (in LotFP this is a spell. In other B/X type games, make this an ability as a cleric has but useable once per day)
Once per week, a paladin may cast Cure Disease and Dispel Magic.
The cleric may consult with the GM to determine alternative spells to add or substitute for these, depending on the nature and domain of the deity.
One thing I wanted to avoid by default is “Oh, crap, a Paladin is in the party, no killing things, no stealing…” So the restrictions on alignment/morality are that you must live by the code of the god in whose name you are deputized. So if there’s already a militant vegan lawful good cleric in the party who initiates a paladin, everyone is in theory either OK with that sort of character or they’ve figured out how to live with it. Also notice there is no alignment restriction except no chaotic characters.* So a thief who is made a paladin by Hera’s cleric is a paladin who must do as honors Hera and doesn’t necessarily need to turn in thieves or rebuke someone for killing an elderly orc. Although one could argue that this problem is half the fun of having a paladin in the party, in which case feel free to have a paladin of a very strict moralistic god!