This is one I discussed with a friend of mine just tonight! If you play Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, you may find this interesting! If not..... well, this may still be interesting.
A DM I know has two parties he regularly runs for. One is a desert party with a barbarian, a monk, a wizard, a bard, a ranger, and a paladin. The other is a north europe kind of region with a fighter, a druid, a wizard, a cleric, a rogue, and a paladin. They are both from level 8 to 11, depending on the character, averaging out to about 9. Of note the desert party's monk is powerful, but the northern party's fighter is the sole level 11 character, and he has extremely good equipment compared to everyone else on the field. He is also chaotic evil working towards a good alignment..... having him is a risk to the party because he could probably kill them all in dire circumstances, but the paladin has talked the others into letting the man TRY to redeem himself.
The Desert party encounters a man on the run, a metal smith, claiming that he is being pursued by a group of adventurers who wish to take him back to his home city where he will be enslaved. They take up the cause of the man in the interests of preventing slavery, since they have to constantly fight this particular inhumanity in their own back yard, as the cities DON'T trade in slaves but the nomadic bands tend to.
The northern party is pursuing an individual who took a very large loan out from a local lord and signed a contract stating that if he failed to repay the sum loaned, he would work for the lord as a smith to the tune of one year per thousand gold owed (which, given what a smith typically makes in a year, is generally a pretty generous payback plan!). This amounts to six or so years of labour, in which time he makes no money but has shelter and food. Of note the man also left a family behind, and the Lord COULD have taken the eldest son instead of the father, but chose instead to hire the party to fetch the man.
The two parties meet and size each other up, each looking at the situation from their own perspective. To the Desert party, there is a strangely mixed party of characters including a thief, some kind of barbarian priest, a holy man of a heathen god, a holy knight of a different heathen god, a weird fellow bedecked with scrolls and charms, and some warrior who is quite evil. To the northerners there is a much more uniformly good party with a hulking bruiser, some oddly serene athletic fellow, a woman with a bunch of strange instruments, a man with a tall banner proclaiming faith to a heathen god, a woman with a very impressive bow, and some strange portly fellow on a floating carpet. They meet and discuss their situation.
Note that. They MEET and DISCUSS. Already this is an atypical D&D campaign, now isn't it? Hee!
The northern party explain the conditions of the contract signed by the smith, including producing a duplicate copy which was also signed. The southern party explains their stance on slavery. Much arguing commences between various members of the groups, including quite a lot of needling of the evil fighter by the opposing barbarian and the bard. The two wizards seem involved in their own discussions, the druid and ranger spend their time comparing environs and survival tricks, and the monk and cleric seem busy on their own talking points as well, so the rogue and fighter on one side end up bickering a lot with the bard and barbarian on the other. This leaves two paladins to control their party mates while striving to find a resolution.
Now, here is where some interesting things occurred:
- Neither paladin spent their time harassing or controlling their respective rogue/bard! That's right, they didn't end up using every little thing their sneaky character did as an excuse to berate them! A common problem avoided, both sides used their sneaks to gather information on one another, including deeds performed, reputation, and so on, as well as proving that yes, the smith was in the area.
- Neither of them tried to pull any kind of honour duel out of their butt to solve the issue violently! Both recognized that their own version of lawful good was no less valid than the other's in their own region, and conflicting beliefs did not instantly nullify the 'good' part of the other paladin's views and actions.
- Both realized that their party members, being either not diplomatic by nature or too busy needling one another, were going to leave the thrust of the discussion to the paladins, but apparently both regularly conferred with their allies.... including setting defense around their inn rooms and opinions on the likelihood of defeating the opposing party if required.
- Each considered the possibility they may have been in the wrong.
- Each insisted their parties work together and not immediately discount the other...... bickering aside.
Now, for some people that's pretty odd behavior, since a lot of people play paladins as self righteous douchebags who harass their team for any perceived failing to live up to being good or perfectly lawful. Others fight the holy fight against all comers without really considering what the consequences are, assured they can't go wrong as long as they're beating down the bad guys. In this unusual case neither did ether. Very odd in my experiences with paladin players!
In the end the desert group surrendered the smith to the northern party, not just because he knew what he'd been getting into in the first place, but also because he'd abandoned his family to the mercy of the Lord he owed and the Lord had been unwilling to exploit them as he could have done under the law.... the smith, it was felt, owed his family a lot more than the Lord in question!
So, with that, the two parties separated and went to find further adventures. Spells were swapped between wizards, ideas and rhetoric between monk and cleric, survival tips and warnings about creatures between druid and ranger, and insults between bar, barbarian, rogue, and fighter.
So, who here would have tried to settle this a different way? Who thinks this was a good way to settle things? Who would have done something different? Was this optimal? Less than? What would you have done?
And lest anyone think this was completely calm, the fighter did end up fighting the barbarian and bard, both at once, and he mopped the floor with them. It turns out fury and song aren't as powerful as full armour, a heavy shield, a bastard sword, and a good plan! Though, I'm assured, nobody died and the fight was agreed on by both parties (and heavily bet on). However, the barbarian DID end up needing a new weapon and the bard required some serious medical attention for being beaten severely!
Anyways, tell me what you think! What have been your paladin experiences in RPGs? And as usual, keep things safe, sane, and consensual!