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Paladins of Vanya

by Bruce Heard

I believe I read in one of the HK posts that though they started out as a rather nasty lot, they'll likely start evolving into a more "heroic" order in the 11th century, and it was mentioned that perhaps, but not quite, Paladins might start showing up in their ranks.

While traditional (AD&D) Paladins might remain "beyond the pale," some kind of "Vanya specific" Paladins may be possible. (IMO, D&D Paladins might be possible, with some suitable modifications similar to the below). Some 2nd edition products show how Paladins can be adapted to other roles (ie Horus has some CG Paladins, as does Cuiraecen from the Birthright setting.) I haven't been able to get the notion out of my head, so I thought I'd post a brief outline here. Of course, those more familiar with Vanya's faith, and the HKs specifically, could fill in the details and point out where I'm wrong.

Paladins of Vanya

Requirements: Str 12, Con 9, Wis 13, Cha 17
Prime Req: Strength, Charisma
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Weapons: Any
Spell Spheres: Combat, Divination, Healing.
Magic Items: As paladin
Power over undead: Turn = no, Command = no
Powers: As paladin, except no Turn Undead, cannot detect evil, no access to the Protection sphere. Can specialise in one type of sword. Unlike generic paladin, cannot be Turned by evil priests.

The Paladin is bound by the Code of Conduct. Paladins of Vanya are dedicated to the order's strictures. Knowingly and willingly committing a chaotic act (violation of the CoC) results in the permanent loss of paladinhood immediately and irrevocably. If a PoV knowingly and willingly commits an evil act, he must seek a high level (7th or more) Priest of Vanya, confess his sin, and do penance as prescribed by the cleric (this cleric cannot be the character of another player).

Violations while under compulsion (magical or otherwise) require atonement as per the generic Paladin. Paladins of Vanya may only have henchmen who are devout followers of Vanya. Normal holy swords do not provide special benefits to a Paladin of Vanya, but no doubt Vanya's priests will work on enchanting suitable weapons for their champions when the time comes.

Paladins of Vanya donate wealth and "surplus" magic items to Vanya's church as per regular Paladins, and unless otherwise specified must observe the same restrictions that apply to them.

Alternate name might be "Champions of Vanya", Champions for short, to distinguish from the normal paladin class. Whether this class is restricted only to the Heldannic Knights, or if they start appearing in other orders dedicated to Vanya as well (such as the Brotherhood of the Grey Lady) is a question for others to answer.

At any rate, the above is a very rough outline, subject to suggestions, modifications, debate, etc.

Paladins of Vanya- D&D

For D&D Paladins, I think they fit as-is, with the following possible modifications:

#1: as-is, with the modification that the service aid the cause of Vanya, not "the powers of Good."

#2: Unchanged.

#4: They do not receive this benefit.

#5: This one is void. A Paladin of Vanya is a born leader, and may have as many followers as he can acquire (they should be devoted to Vanya if possible).

#6: This one is also void, with the proviso that the Paladin must aid known followers of Vanya if they ask for help.

#7: The Paladin must donate wealth to the Order, retaining for himself only what is required for legitimate living expenses.

The idea of the LN paladin for the HK is valid if nothing else was available to the Order. I did however introduce the Pathfinders (see toward the end of the HK timeline). Pathfinders are pretty much standard LG paladins. I had posted the description of their fellowship a couple weeks back I think. One of the reasons why I prefer the LG paladins is that I wanted to bring into the HK some of that goodness that was otherwise conspicuously absent. Their arrival late in the history of the Order represents an important milestone in the knights' struggle against the evil (and chaotic) influence of Thanatos, which had plagued the Order since its creation. Another reason for LG paladins is that AD&D paladins *are* lawful good by definition, at least they ought to be from my point of view. Else, they should be called "knights-with-magical-powers" or anything else you like ("Champions" works), but not paladins. Let us not mix the precious silk with dirty rags! (I'm just teasing you here).

Spell Spheres: without looking further into this issue, your choice of Combat, Divination, Healing makes sense. Is Combat the major sphere and the others minor? On the other hand, because of the effect of Vanya's Artifact, you have to add a second major involving spells related to Law (is there such a sphere in the AD&D game? I think there is.)

Powers: I agree that these paladins don't need Turn Undead -- their job is to fight undead with good, old-fashion steel (even if enchanted). On the other hand I don't understand why you crossed off detect evil. Why not allow detect Chaos instead? Why disallow the Protection sphere? I can see why evil priest cannot turn LN "Champions", but of course this would not apply to true paladins such as the Pathfinders - - they would be vulnerable to powerful evil priests.

Pathfinder paladins or Champions do not have "henchmen" so to speak. According to Heldannic Law (at least in the version I gave), they are allowed one squire. If they are commanders, they are also allowed up to six sergeants-at-arms (who are knights of lesser ranks, mostly brother knights), who themselves have their own squires. So for example, a Grand Knight might have one Knight Banneret acting as his/her seneschal, another five brother knights acting as lieutenants, and a total of seven squires, 21 heavy war horses, and seven riding horses for the squires (etc.) But no henchmen. Squires have taken the Oath of Service, which makes them active worshippers of Vanya.

Surplus magic items: According to the CoC I suggested, all HK knights are required to make a full disclosure to their commanders of what they have acquired. Their commanders then decide whether to reward the knights and allow them to keep all, some, or none of their gains. Of course, for PCs this has to be balanced so players does not feel cheated. But the knights' commanders very much have final say on this issue. Likewise, when a knight accomplishes a mission without necessarily bringing back booty or magical items, the Order can still reward the knights with magical items (taken from those items other knights weren't allowed to keep). This system isn't perfect, but its a system and it works to prevent monty-haulistic munchkinism among the Order (how's that for an oxymoron?). :o)

Naturally, Pathfinders should be able to use holy swords to their full effect, contrary to Champions.

Please don't get me wrong here -- I did like the idea of beefed-up LN Champions of Vanya. You could conceivably have both Champions and Pathfinders among the Order -- perhaps a new interoffice rivalry in the making? What if the Champions where in fact the members of the Anvil of Blood sect -- the guardians of the Vanya's artifact? This would make more sense.