Paladins immunity to blades etc --help me understand this !

Hi all,

Quick question. I am Gming a game of dungeon world and a new player has come on board; he has chosen the paladin as his playbook/class. I'm confused as to how this class works-specifically that it says he can make an oath and gain an immunity to blades!!! How do you guys GM this, as it is obviously a very potent ability. Am I to take it that he cannot suffer any damage (in fiction consequences that would arise from being cut HP loss as well)? Am I missing something here?

I'm worried about balance and obviously confused....... help me out please!

Oliver.



Comments

  • Hi Oliver :)

    Yes the Paladin is "immune to blades" in all the ways that make sense for the people at your table, especially the Paladin player... ask her about details every time you are in doubt.

    But...

    In Dungeon World there is NO power balance.
    It is not important, it is not needed for the ends of the game.
    The point of the game is NOT to offer a challenge to the players... you can't... they'll always overcome it with relative ease.

    Now this statement is of course exaggerated, but not so much.
    What you should worry about are the consequences of PC actions and choices.

    So your character can't be harmed by blades? Cool!
    But only if she keeps her oath!

    (hint: avoid telling the Player that she is breaking the oath unless it is blatantly obvious, instead ask if she thinks she is breaking it or not, and why... use the occasion to explore character motivations and beliefs)

    So you are immune to blades, what do you do with such power?
    Are you a big hero?
    And what happens when the enemies have no blades?
    Are you still courageous?

    (hint: avoid having blades disappear from your world, this is cheating and will frustrate the Paladin player, be a fan of the paladin! Try to have enemies with mixed weaponry, and allow the PCs to attempt tactical maneuvering so that the Paladin might face the bladed ones... even suggest it yourself if they don't do it by themselves (but don't force it if for some reason they still don't want to do it) you are on the PC's side! you are a fan! )

    Remember that the PCs are unique individuals.
    There are surely many "holy warriors" in the world, but only one is truly blessed, only one is immune to blades... is she famous?
    How do people react to this?
    Is someone starting to worship the Paladin instead of the Gods?
    What is the reaction of people when they hear her name? Do enemies flee in terror? Or do they throw away the blades and bring forth the greek-fire and the maces and attempt to kill the legendary Blessed Warrior?
    Or...

    Power balance is NOT your concern ;)
  • Yeah, whether a character lives or dies isn't really the only point of balance here, either. We had a paladin who had almost the opposite: immunity to blunt damage! He got used as a landing pad for falls from great heights. :-D And you find other ways to make their lives hard. Pokey things exist! So do smashy things! And magic things! Those are all common dangers in the world.
  • Hi,

    thanks for the replies. when I say balance I am talking about balance between players. The fighter is good at fighting, but wait a second, the paladin can walk through a sword fight without a scratch. that is kind of unbalancing in the sense that the fighter isn't on par with it. I think that the paladin in most games is a blended character that has a little magicky stuff and a lot of fightey stuff going on (25% and 75%), whereas the fighter is strictly fighty stuff... I wonder then how fun it will be for my fighter player who is may be looking askance at the new kid on the block....

    thoughts?

    Oliver.
  • In DW the fighter is not "the one good at fighting".
    All characters are :)

    In DW the fighter is "the one with a unique ancestral weapon that has spirits and wisdom, the one with incredible strength and the battelfield expertiese needed to say confidently -You stick to me, you survive- or -Whatever happens YOU are gonna die-".

    On the other hand the paladin is "the one that fights with GOD's frikking hand on her shoulder, the one with a personal quest that is more important than anything else, the one that EMBODIES the law of gods and men".

    I don't see an overlap, let alone an imbalance, here :)
  • well he is named the "fighter". I dunno man.
  • edited July 2015
    I think the intention is that the paladin only gets those boons while actively pursuing the mission, not just kind of moving in that direction but also doing other stuff. So the balancing occurs there and, perhaps more importantly, in what vows are required to maintain the boons. The paladin can easily violate these vows and if that invulnerability was REALLY helping before, now they're kind of screwed, right? In such a situation, the paladin will definitely want a good fighter to rely on.

    The paladin's niche with such a boon is not in combat prowess, it's pure story fuel, basically calling down trouble and consequences when that quest is declared. Seriously, just give the paladin vows of Honor and Truth and then watch sparks fly when the thief does anything.

    The fighter, on the other hand, gets to be a swaggering, bloody badass who drives action and gets direct results in so many more, unfettered situations.

    Every character class gets to fight, so anyone else's combat success does not intrude on the fighter's niche. The fighter and paladin can both kick ass, their niche is about how they do it, not that they do it at all.
  • How do you guys GM this
    You mean "Quest" at page 123? The instructions seem clear and the whole thing looks awesome. Has the paladin dedicated himself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing? Have you told him what vow or vows are required to maintain that blessing?

  • edited July 2015
    The Paladin's Oaths are powerful but they open themselves up to all manner of difficulties that have nothing to do with combat. I strongly suggest you look at Celtic, Norse and generally European myth for oaths and curses, and apply those. Looks at the most esoteric aspects of religious practices, and apply those. Think of the various Arthurian legends. Think of the myths of sacrifice and oblation.

    The Paladin prays to their god for immunity to blades:

    - All well and good, noble Paladin. Those that live by the sword, die by the sword. Break your own sword, and swords will break upon you. Take up arms ever again, and by arms shall you be slain.

    - Faith shall be your only shield, and only faith shall ward you from harm. In humility shall you walk, wearing only a cloth around your waist. You shall go unshod by shoe or sandal. Your head uncovered. Your hair and beard unshorn. Your back shall be unadorned by shirt or cloak or armor, that they may see the marks from your morning flagellation.

    - The swords and slings shall not harm you while you are on this quest. But the harm remains, waiting. Once your task is done, you must take up the burden of pain, held by your God.
  • Heck, even Samson from the Bible!
  • The enemies of light and justice have surrendered to you after fierce battle, your God requires mercy but if I single word of your the details of your Oath were to reach the cabal of dark masters you have sworn to vanquish then they would most certainly strive to have your break your vows. Will you ignore the pleas of mercy, or must you silence your captives?
  • Ignore mercy or silence captives sound like the same thing;
    do you mean "listen to the please of mercy or must you silence your captives?"
  • Ignore mercy or silence captives sound like the same thing;
    do you mean "listen to the please of mercy or must you silence your captives?"
    Will you misspell a word while unnecessarily correcting someone or will you realize that being pedantic never pays?
  • I wasn't doing it to be pedantic I was doing it because I really wonder what he meant!?!?!?!!!!
  • why are you so mean!!@!
  • It seemed like you were making a correction and I was playing along with the vow thing. My intention was tongue-in-cheek, but I realize there was no context for you to take it that way, so I screwed up, I apologize.
  • edited July 2015
    Thanks for the apology. Sorry for flying off the handle like that.
    I didn't realize the similarity of your phrasing to the last sentence of Potemkin's post until you pointed it out right now. Kinda groggy this morning.
  • I still don't understand Potemkin's post. :-)
  • Matt:
    I'd be merciful. My oath is unshakable. I have faith that they can't make me break it.
  • Yeah, yeah, I got it wrong. You know what I mean. Point is: the more you uphold your oath, the more public this information comes, the more your enemies are going to try break you from your invincibility.
  • Again, I wasn't trying to be a smartaleck, I was genuinely confused
  • That's a pretty interesting angle, actually: if you have enemies, and they know you're invincible, they'll certainly be trying to find out the key to breaking it. What are your vows, and how can we put pressure on them? Who do you trust with this knowledge? Might your own god or gods wish to tempt you or test you in this way?
  • Again, I wasn't trying to be a smartaleck, I was genuinely confused
    Me too!
  • Also, its been said above but it bears repeating: if you aren't sure on exactly how to go about challenging the player's vows or putting them in danger, ask them. DW (and AW) are really big on questioning the players about their characters' point of view, and running it has made me really appreciate how useful it is as a technique, and how to apply it in other games.

    I'd lean on the side of asking very leading questions of the player character: "You've taken a vow, but what is your biggest temptation to break it?" "You are immune to blades, so how do you anticipate that your worst enemy will attack you?" "What do you think your god's purpose is in testing you?"

    (Questioning the character rather than the player is a subtle thing that it took me a little bit of experience with DW/AW to appreciate, but it really does help.)
  • How do you guys GM this
    You mean "Quest" at page 123? The instructions seem clear and the whole thing looks awesome. Has the paladin dedicated himself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing? Have you told him what vow or vows are required to maintain that blessing?

    yup. I have.
  • I think the intention is that the paladin only gets those boons while actively pursuing the mission, not just kind of moving in that direction but also doing other stuff. So the balancing occurs there and, perhaps more importantly, in what vows are required to maintain the boons. The paladin can easily violate these vows and if that invulnerability was REALLY helping before, now they're kind of screwed, right? In such a situation, the paladin will definitely want a good fighter to rely on.

    The paladin's niche with such a boon is not in combat prowess, it's pure story fuel, basically calling down trouble and consequences when that quest is declared. Seriously, just give the paladin vows of Honor and Truth and then watch sparks fly when the thief does anything.

    The fighter, on the other hand, gets to be a swaggering, bloody badass who drives action and gets direct results in so many more, unfettered situations.

    Every character class gets to fight, so anyone else's combat success does not intrude on the fighter's niche. The fighter and paladin can both kick ass, their niche is about how they do it, not that they do it at all.
    Hi,

    Okay thanks for that, but the problem is that if you think about it, you can choose very small goals that are present. ex. "I swear to defeat the goblins in the next room--Im immune to swords". boom. lame..... lame... lame...

    What's more, the description doesn't say that the mission has to be virtous..... his mission could be to rob a bank. I dunno.
  • edited July 2015
    The Paladin's Oaths are powerful but they open themselves up to all manner of difficulties that have nothing to do with combat...... Think of the various Arthurian legends. Think of the myths of sacrifice and oblation.

    The Paladin prays to their god for immunity to blades:

    - All well and good, noble Paladin. Those that live by the sword, die by the sword. Break your own sword, and swords will break upon you. Take up arms ever again, and by arms shall you be slain.


    I don't think that's how it works. I think you must choose from the list.
  • So, the player points to the move and says "I dedicate myself to a mission." and you go "Cool! What do you do?". What does he answer?
  • For reference, here's the text of the move:
    Quest
    When you dedicate yourself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing, state what you set out to do:

    Slay _______, a great blight on the land
    Defend _______ from the iniquities that beset them
    Discover the truth of _______
    Then choose up to two boons:

    An unwavering sense of direction to _______.
    Invulnerability to _______ (e.g., edged weapons, fire, enchantment, etc.)
    A mark of divine authority
    Senses that pierce lies
    A voice that transcends language
    A freedom from hunger, thirst, and sleep

    The GM will then tell you what vow or vows is required of you to maintain your blessing:

    Honor (forbidden: cowardly tactics and tricks)
    Temperance (forbidden: gluttony in food, drink, and pleasure of the flesh)
    Piety (required: observance of daily holy services)
    Valor (forbidden: suffering an evil creature to live)
    Truth (forbidden: lies)
    Hospitality (required: comfort to those in need, no matter who they are)
    The GM's first response (for everything in AW/DW) should probably be:
    So, the player points to the move and says "I dedicate myself to a mission." and you go "Cool! What do you do?". What does he answer?
    ...because remember, moves are only triggered by what happens in the fiction.

    Archangel3d's suggestions are technically drift from the rules-as-written. Really cool drift, but still drift: as written, you run the move as written. That said, when we get a cool idea at the table I sometimes embrace it and hack things then and there. On the other hand, the player and GM getting creative with how you phrase the vow is allowed. What does piety mean for your character? Or honesty?
  • I think the intention is that the paladin only gets those boons while actively pursuing the mission, not just kind of moving in that direction but also doing other stuff. So the balancing occurs there and, perhaps more importantly, in what vows are required to maintain the boons. The paladin can easily violate these vows and if that invulnerability was REALLY helping before, now they're kind of screwed, right? In such a situation, the paladin will definitely want a good fighter to rely on.

    The paladin's niche with such a boon is not in combat prowess, it's pure story fuel, basically calling down trouble and consequences when that quest is declared. Seriously, just give the paladin vows of Honor and Truth and then watch sparks fly when the thief does anything.

    The fighter, on the other hand, gets to be a swaggering, bloody badass who drives action and gets direct results in so many more, unfettered situations.

    Every character class gets to fight, so anyone else's combat success does not intrude on the fighter's niche. The fighter and paladin can both kick ass, their niche is about how they do it, not that they do it at all.
    Hi,

    Okay thanks for that, but the problem is that if you think about it, you can choose very small goals that are present. ex. "I swear to defeat the goblins in the next room--Im immune to swords". boom. lame..... lame... lame...

    What's more, the description doesn't say that the mission has to be virtous..... his mission could be to rob a bank. I dunno.
    Sure but remember nothing happens in a vacuum and everything has fictional context. The Paladin gets his divine power from somewhere, right? Is it a God?

    Let's say it's his God, an ancient adventuring hero who retired and rose to Godhood. He's laidback and friendly, but prizes excellence, bravery, and heroism. Let's say the Paladin's name is Amaral.

    "Hey, Amaral, you pray every morning at dawn, right? So, the next morning you're praying, and you feel a firm, gentle hand on your shoulder. You know it's not really there, but you can feel it still. A warm, calm voice rings behind you: 'Hey, buddy, what's goin' on? You called down my divine armor for some puny goblins yesterday? What gives with that? I know you're braver than that, buddy... You've been doing a lot of that lately, man. You can't handle this job? You need me to get someone else to take it up? C'mon, man, get it together. You can do better than that.'. And then the voice fades and you feel shaken and confused. What do you do?"

    - Alex
  • Didn't make it explicit, but my point is, that divine power comes from somewhere or someone, and that someone will be pretty angry if you keep wasting it on frivolous things.

    - Alex
  • As to where that falls in the rules, I'd say "tell them the consequences or requirements, and ask" is the apropos move.
  • edited July 2015
    Thanks for the reference, Issac. Going from memory often misses half the subtleties.

    Ahem...

    Why the ever-living-frog-god is a DW player using Quest to clear out a room of Goblins!?

    Firstly, any table not in some kind of weird social subjugation to the Paladin's player or totally genre-blind would immediately object to a Quest being "kill some unknown guys in the next room." There are, you know, components to this whole Questing thing: it has a capital Q and everything.

    Secondly, it's right there, front-and-centre of the Paladins playbook. No self-respecting DM is going to let the Paladin's player take one step in his character's boots before tackling this essential and super fun bit of pre-play world building.

    Thirdly, "rid the world of Goblins and their fowl kin" is a much better Quest than "kill just those Goblins specifically in that room" for obvious reasons of scale and economy. If I know players of any game involving dungeons and Goblins, scale and economy of genocide is of central importance.
  • Man, this is totally off-topic, but "Scale and Economy of Genocide" sounds like an excellent metal album title.

    Back on topic: So the Paladin becomes immune to blades and goes in to kill the goblins. Even baring social and thematic concerns mentioned above, the goblins just need to... not use blades.

    - Alex
  • Threats which are not blades that I have used in DW games:
    - Kicking
    - Tackling
    - Living crystals
    - Creeping moss
    - Pushing into pits
    - Shoving down stairs
    - Flesh-to-stone spells
    - Divebombing gargoyles
    - Giant rolling marble boulders
    - Skeletons that try to drag you underwater
    - Fire

    On a practical note, if I'm not sure that a player's actions line up with my expectations for what play should look like, that's usually a cue to take a moment and ask them why they're doing it. "So your paladin wants to rob a bank...why do you think your deity will give you a blessing for it?" The player may have a reason! Maybe the bank is run by evil demons who are oppressing the poor and the cause of righteousness demands they be scoured from the land. Maybe they don't have a good reason, but that's a separate problem that can only be partially addressed by better rules text on the move.

  • When you dedicate yourself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing,
    Am I the only one who interprets this as kind of a... long process?

    I think of Jesus going to spend 40 days in the desert, that kind of thing. Not a quick prayer before entering the next room...

    And, yeah, of course if your paladin becomes immune to bladed weapons, it won't take that long for his enemies to show up to every fight with crossbows, spears, maces, and hammers.

  • A long process. "The vessel you currently inhabit is unsuitable for your deity. You will need a new one."

  • When you dedicate yourself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing,
    Am I the only one who interprets this as kind of a... long process?

    I think of Jesus going to spend 40 days in the desert, that kind of thing. Not a quick prayer before entering the next room...

    And, yeah, of course if your paladin becomes immune to bladed weapons, it won't take that long for his enemies to show up to every fight with crossbows, spears, maces, and hammers.

    Bingo. The point that everyone keeps hitting is that neither the ritual cleansing, nor the mission are trivial things. Killing goblins in the next room isn't a mission unless they're a named cabal, central to the story and not just another hex of goons.

    I feel like this might come off as condescending to mention this, but that's not my intention and it might be important to reinforce: DW, like many (but not all) other rpgs, is not about finagling mechanical advantages in a world that's predetermined like a video or board game. There's a soft spot that will make the game sink or swim: the players and how they negotiate what play is about.

    Practically speaking, it's simple as hell to require an involved cleansing process or have the paladin's deity interpret "mission" differently from how the paladin's player wishes they could for a little bit of mechanical leverage. But if you don't want to be perceived as a domineering game master, cast a wider net: is everyone at the table okay with the paladin abusing the power? If they claim to be okay with it upfront, does it later bother them when the game deforms around the paladin too much? How does your group handle that?

    As @Isaac mentioned, this stems from a social contract and expectations. So it seems like the initial question in this thread could just as easily be a general one about handling the intersection of 1. what the group wants and 2. how one player wants to leverage rules that allow/require creative interpretation.

    I can't say for certain that's what all of this is really about, but I have a nagging feeling that's part of it.
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