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From: Ronald Melvin Gaw
Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Ron Gaw's paladins and their powers
On Fri, 26 Sep 1997, SCOTT CASPER wrote:
:Lastly, I think we should hear a little more from Ronald Gaw about
:his theory of paladins. If paladins are treated as agents of mankind
:instead of agents of the gods, then who grants them their clerical
:spells at higher levels?
:Scott “Volstagg” Casper
:Almost never rolls stats high enough to play paladins
Well, IMC power of the deities is a direct result of their worshipper's support and belief (helps explain why the evil deities, with few worshippers, are still powerful, since even the 'good' people believe in them). Along similar lines, a Paladin's powers come from his/her belief in LAWFUL GOOD. The linking factor between these (and magic, IMC) is that the powers and benefits one receives is an individual's way of drawing from some mystical essence that attempts to make belief's into reality (well, real fantasy ;). I have named this essence 'Living Magic', you can name it what you will. It requires specialized ways of communicating the beliefs (i.e., magic-users do it one way, clerics another), but Paladins reach this source mostly out of their pure, non-political belief, a type of belief which is so strong it breaks the communications barrier between the 'living magic' in a way the other users don't or can't.
I hope my players heed my warning and stop reading any further. The next portion of this text is going to describe a portion of my version of Greyhawk to be revealed after many adventures.
What the various different user types have not realized in Greyhawk eons is how to fully harnass this 'power of belief'. Paladins do it inadvertantly (they are not trying to make it something greater). Most dieties know it grants them their spheres of power, but even they do not know how to harnass it fully (in most cases, their personal origins on the planet Oerth have somewhat skewed their ability, even as dieties, to believe in something without any doubts whatsoever!). Even the greatest of the old dieties, of which Tharizdun is one, who know of the full strength and possibilies (they 'think' they do, as opposed to completely believing they know it's full extents. Otherwise, there would be no chance of it's power becoming greater than it already has achieved), are not capable of nonchalantly calling its power. It requires their true thoughts, desires and personality to accomplish total belief, and this is both difficult and dangerous for them. It is like admitting there is something greater than themselves, and they are loathe to do this.
It turns out that the greatest of the mages and clerics of Oerth's cloudy past knew of this 'power of belief' at one time. Unable to overcome their own inability to believe, they realized that their only true source of harnassing this power was children. Children could be taught (at least at early ages) to completely and unquestionably believe in something. Although it might have taken years of careful culturing and development, those who controlled these children could accomplish feats no spell or arcane device that ever existed could accomplish. The farthest seeing of these 'harnassing mages' learned that a portion of the power derived from such belief could be trapped inside objects, and thus the most powerful artifacts and relics were created. Unfortunately for the harnassing mages, they could not completely control the children, and the children had an uncanny way of letting their thoughts wander, introducing side effects in these devices.
Although this is the explanation I currently have adapted for my version of Greyhawk, I'd like to clarify here that I do not currently, nor do I intend to in the future, explain this to the players. What I do with it is listen carefully to them during adventures, and if I can determine (subjective, I know, but hey...) when they really believe something is going to happen, is happening or has happened, I alter the story accordingly. It does create some havoc in my campaign development, but it also keeps it very creative. If the players ever figured this out and tried to tell me 'I really, really believe in ....', it might be difficult to explain to them that it doesn't work that way. But if they're good role-players, they might be able to use it in small ways (nothing greater than the powers currently Paladins) if they can demonstrate their character's belief by his/her reactions and actions.
If any of the groups, however, every achieve extremely high levels (20th or higher, not likely in my campaign due to the time required to accomplish this), I might open my Ultimate Campaign ideas bag of tricks and have them discover long-lost lore on Mighty Arch-Mages of the past raising an inordinate number of orphaned children!
That’s all for now,
Barbarian Paladin from the Plains of the Paynims