The Paladin Code of Conduct in an Absolute Universe

"Make no mistake, faithful paladins and devout clerics: this is a war, and you are soldiers in that war. The sides are arrayed, and the battle-lines are clearly drawn. It is a war of good against evil, of light against darkness. Your duties in that war are clear, and your code of conduct is well delineated. There are certain forces in this universe, absolute forces of good and evil; and some creatures are born intrinsically allied with those ontological powers. Indeed, the universe itself seems to be made up of three ethical substances: good, evil, and the unaligned substance. Some creatures seem, indeed, to be spawned from those powers, and their souls are colored through and through with them. Angels, for example, are goodness personified, while demons and devils are their evil counterparts. These creatures could never change their intrinsic natures, and even if given the chance to change their alliance with the ethical powers of the universe, they would be unable to do so. It is as impossible for a demon to choose goodness as it is impossible for an angel to choose evil. Similarly, certain acts, actions, and even inanimate objects, like poison, are allied with the cosmic ethical forces and cannot be separated from them. The gods themselves do not determine what is good or evil; rather they revere and hold good or evil things holy or unholy because the gods are the utmost example of beings that are ontologically aligned. The most holy Heshtail, ruler of the Celestial hierarchy, is an emanation of Absolute Goodness in the universe.

Flying Knight, by TyphonArt

Your role, then, is clear: you must slay with no compunction creatures such as demons that are intrinsically allied with evil. Have no concern for their appearance or what they profess their intentions to be. Have no concern for their race, age, or gender. Certain creatures are our eternal and definite enemies and they must be destroyed if goodness is to win our ancient war. A list of creatures that have been identified over the centuries as irreparably evil by nature is held in the sacred Book of Heshtail in St. Quentin's Church and is to be memorized. Other creatures are not quite fully evil by nature but have a strong attraction towards evil, have evil tendencies, and nearly invariably choose evil when given the option between it and our holy and pious ethical outlook. Your duty towards these creatures, such as orcs and goblinoids, is hardly less certain. You need to dispatch them if they do not immediately surrender and throw down their weapons. Show them no mercy, for they are foot soldiers of the enemy in our cosmic war. Pay no heed to their gender or age, either. The correctness of this dictum has been born out through the use of many divination spells as well as the fact that many paladins have lived by this code of conduct throughout the ages and have retained their holy status. Finally, certain creatures have no clear transcendental ethical alliance and are as likely to choose goodness as evil. Creatures like this, such as humans, are not to be slain, but are to be judged by their actions first. They need to be given opportunity to surrender and indeed to change their ways. Proselytization here is imperative, for these creatures have the potential to become staunch allies if their societies and cultures can be influenced to revere the law and goodness that the Lord Heshtail embodies.

While fighting this cosmic war, there are certain methods that must be followed and certain methods that are intrinsically unacceptable to those who align themselves with transcendental Goodness. Charity towards the church and the poor is hallowed by the cosmic powers and it is something that we must always strive to do, and a straightforward, declared, and honest onslaught is our method of attack. We state our intentions-to destroy evil and to selflessly aid all that is good-and we do not lie or violate our word. We respect legitimate, goodness-sanctioned authority; we help those non-evil creatures that need our help, even if it means sacrificing our lives to do so. Conversely, we must never employ torture, poison, or deceit in our war, for these are things that have been consecrated by the unholy powers of the universe and are inherently aligned with them. These are the laws of our war, and they will take us through to victory."

--Burcan the White, Holy Potentate of the Church of Heshtail in Dragonspur City

(Metagame comments-- The Farland universe is a universe that is not at all relative. In a sense it is a cross between Zoroastrianism and Platonism as laid out in the works of Plotinus, with actual Forms of Goodness and Evil extant. When this cosmology is used to outline a paladin and lawful good clerical code of ethics, the player can expect that the enemies of his church have been well documented over the years. It has certainly been noted when and why paladins have fallen from grace, and the ample use of detect evil and divination spells, as well as plane travel, have revealed creatures that are evil and thus enemies of the church. These are ontological enemies and are to be destroyed. This couldn't be clearer: paladin PCs are always to slay all members of an intrinsically evil race, regardless of whether or not they are children of the race. A monster that is not from one of the Greater Planes does not have an intrinsic alignment, but unfortunate statistics dictate that the paladin will often end up slaying this creature, but the paladin is first to give the creature the benefit of the doubt, help it if it is in need, and give it every opportunity to ally itself with the lawful good transcendental forces of the universe. The paladin should only slay these creatures if they express an overt and immediate inclination to do real evil, which unfortunately it seems they will frequently do.

The objection to this point, of course, will be that there is no real distinction between good or evil in this cosmology. Both creatures slay the others, and both slay children. This is not, however, the case. Good creatures are good because they ally themselves with objects, creatures, methods, and techniques that are ontologically good, holy, and pious. They revere charity towards the poor. They do not lie. They never employ torture or poison, no matter the circumstances. They are good because there is a real, concrete goodness in the universe with which they choose to align themselves.)