This is something that’s been on my mind for a long, long time. Though I don’t actually intend to use it in our game, I wanted to write it up and get it out there for some feedback.

I think it’s no secret that a lot of folks have various issues with the cleric class. Despite the fact that my first-ever PC was a cleric (who killed a vampire in his first adventure) the class has never set real well with me for a number of reasons. First of all, I’m not particularly interested in the mythilogical religious aspects of the class; my games are generally fairly light on such things. Secondly, the real place for the class in the game seems sort of up in the air; some see clerics as medics while others see them as undead specialists. I’ve always looked at them as mystic warriors akin to Jedi Knights, but even that is a stretch, particularly considering the class’s weapons restrictions. Finally, I believe the experience point requirements for the class are outlandishly low given the cleric’s capabilities.

Several years back, helped by the lack of variable weapon damage in Swords & Wizardry White Box, I planned to remove the restriction on edged weapons and make clerics the mystic warriors I’d always envisioned them to be. Unfortunately, our S&W:WB game petered out and the opportunity was lost.

Now we’re playing 1e AD&D and not only is the cleric still a problem in my mind, it’s been compounded by the more-than-slightly redundant paladin. My second PC, for what it’s worth, was a paladin, but I’ve never really been a big fan of the class.

So I’ve pondered a solution that not only removes the redundancy but addresses what I dislike about the cleric: combine the two classes into one new class that mostly covers what the two original classes stand for. In a move to further distance the religious connections of the cleric class, I’ve decided to call the new class paladin. Besides, there is lot more historical precedent for the name than the standard cleric and it just sounds cooler.

Anyway, here is a draft of what I’ve come up with. I’ve written it up in 1e format and style as if it were in the PHB and I’ve left the religious aspects intact as I know most games make much more use of that sort of thing than ours does.

Paladin Variant - Free PDF - Lord Kilgore

Paladin Variant Draft - Free PDF
Click to Download

It retains much of what the original paladin has, and I hope it hits a good middle ground that will be potentially useful to some who dislike the cleric. My thinking is that, in most cases, anywhere it says “cleric” in the books should be read as “paladin,” with most of the weapons and items for fighters also available for this new class. (I’m sure that there are conflicts that I’ve not thought of and I’d appreciate anyone pointing them out.)

What I’m really uncertain about is the XP requirement scale, but any feedback will be very welcome. I’ve stuck with the standard paladin scale for now, with HD and most paladin abilities knocked down a bit but spell casting added at 3rd level. I think it’s probably in the right ballpark, anyway, but would not hesitate to tweak it if good reasons were given.

As I’ve said, we aren’t actually planning to run this class in our game; I’m trying hard to run a mostly-BtB AD&D game these days and though I’d love to incorporate this class, it just doesn’t fit in with what I’m after.

UPDATE: Due to conflicting file names, I think some people were getting only a link to the PDF and missing the blog post. I’ve fixed that now, and apologize for the confusion.

Tags: , ,

4 Comments to “Paladin Variant”

  1. JB says:

    Just FYI: Your section on turning still refers to the character type as “cleric.”

    It seems a little over-powered to me…what with the all the abilities of a fighter, plus almost all the abilities of a cleric. In looking at the B/X elf class (which combines fighter and magic-user in one package), we can see the XP requirement is basically double the fighter class (4000 for 2nd, 8000 for 3rd, etc.). Even with the restrictions you’ve listed, I’d think XP should start at least at 3500, like:

    2nd – 3500 xp
    3rd – 7000 xp
    4th – 14,000 xp
    5th – 28,000 xp
    6th – 56,000 xp
    7th – 110,000 xp
    8th – 200,000 xp
    9th – 400,000 xp
    10th – 800,000 xp

    …with 400,000xp per level after 10th. I mean, ESPECIALLY if you’re giving ‘em a bonus for prime requisites.

    I don’t know, man…even with the XP bump it seems pretty beefy. Especially problematic for me are Lay on Hands, Turn Undead, and the damn warhorse. How about the following as possible options:

    – Kick out the “lay on hands.” This just duplicates the various “cure wounds” spells that eventually become available to this pious warrior-saint.
    – Forget “undead turning” altogether; instead make the character immune to the special attacks of undead (gaining a save against level drain or immunity to mummy rot and vampire charm, for example). The character retains his “fighting man flavor” with a specialty in the unholy. Allow ANY player character of sufficient faith (not just paladins!) to hold undead at bay with a holy symbol and an attack roll.
    – Get rid of the damn warhorse…isn’t there a cleric spell that allows them to “summon animal?”

    Anyway, that’s all stuff I’D consider…oh, and making the highest level spells require an 18 Wisdom and the 2nd highest a 17, even if you only go up to 6th level spells.
    : )

    ***This is a copy and paste of JB’s original comment which got left on the wrong post due to a file naming conflict in WordPress***

  2. Brendan says:

    I agree, the cleric has always had an absurdly low experience requirement, and yet people so rarely want to play them! Or, when they do, they allow themselves to be slotted into the medic role. Such a shame.

    I prefer to think of the cleric as a demon hunter. Not even necessarily associated with organized religion (though possibly). Van Helsing by way of the Knights Templar.

    I’m not sure about the wealth restriction for your paladin. Couldn’t they just save all their money for the castle (other than the tithe)?

    ***This is a copy and paste of JB’s original comment which got left on the wrong post due to a file naming conflict in WordPress***

  3. 1d30 says:

    I’d just delete Paladin.

    Cleric can “lay on hands” by casting Cure Light, and do more healing than the Paladin could even with just one spell per day.

    Cleric can wear any armor and use most weapons.

    Cleric can Cure Disease fairly early on (5th).

    Cleric can buy himself a Heavy Warhorse.

    If you want to multiclass F/C and call yourself a Paladin, you can charge around with a lance and sword and heal people etc. The single-class Cleric will be better at turning and spellcasting because he’ll be higher level than the F/C for the same number of XP earned, but he’ll be worse at fighting because Fighters are still better even a couple levels lower.

    Any magic items usable only by Paladins are now usable only by F/Cs.

  4. 1d30 says:

    I should have said, a Cleric’s weapon choices are still decent. That is, his damage is still okay at 1d6 or 1d6+1 for a single-handed weapon.