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Champion of a Cause

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Paladins are devoted to upholding the law and protecting good and they follow a strict code of honour that regulates their behaviour, but very few paladins wander the land aimlessly in search of wrongs to right. They become paladins because there is something they want to accomplish, or they quickly find a goal to focus their efforts upon if paladinhood was thrust upon them. This is the cause, and the cause can give a paladin the strength he needs to prevail when evil threatens to overwhelm him.

A cause is to a paladin what Domains are to a cleric; it defines his role in the fight against darkness and sets him apart from other paladins who are doing the same thing. Devoting all his efforts towards a specific cause marks the paladin in many ways: he gains abilities he would not have access to otherwise, learns new skills or opens new doors to his future.

Adopting and Following a Cause

The paladin may adventure freely from the moment he dons the mantle of paladinhood, pursuing whatever goals he deems worthy. He has several opportunities to decide on a specific cause to serve, though and once he does, he cannot go back on that decision, nor can he branch out and pursue other causes with the same dedication.

The paladin can choose a cause in place of a feat, at any level in which he would gain a feat as a character (1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, etc). By choosing the cause this manner, he gains a number of advantages related to his cause, some of which get better as he gains in level as described under each cause. In general, the abilities the paladin gains from focusing his dedication improve at every level at which he would gain a feat. He does not need to spend additional feats for this. Since concentrating his attention on a narrower cause than the broad protection of law and good focuses his efforts, the paladin neglects certain other areas of his advancement, gaining disadvantages also described under each cause. Note that since these are paladin abilities, the character can lose them under the same circumstances by which he loses the rest of his abilities.

Causes are divided in the two main pursuits of a paladin’s ethos: Law and Good. Causes of Law are those that pursue order and discipline, and Causes of Good revolve around ensuring the well-being of others.

Causes of Law


The cause of defending law from chaotic forces gives the paladin an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of those who follow each of the ethical paths. A paladin pursuing the defence of law as his lifelong cause understands how its servants and enemies work. He knows of the demons who seek the destruction of all, and of the darker realms of the lower planes where the only stability to be found is the one strong spirits carry with them.

Advantage: The paladin can use his smite evil ability as smite chaos instead. At each level at which he gains a feat, he gains two bonus skill points to assign between Knowledge (the planes), Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft, which are considered class skills only for distributing the bonus skill points.

Disadvantage: When using his smite evil ability to target lawful evil creatures, the paladin only deals half his level in bonus damage. Also, his conditioning and devotion to Law leave him vulnerable to lawful spells, suffering a -1 penalty to saving throws against them.


For a paladin, Discipline is of paramount importance as he struggles to maintain his code of conduct and keep his ethics pure. Paladins who pursue Discipline as a cause are strong in conviction and not easily swayed from their path. They try to inculcate in others the same orderly and disciplined life they lead themselves, opposing chaos from the bottom of their hearts.

Advantage: The character gains a +3 bonus to Will saves against mind-affecting magic and effects. The next time he gains a feat, this bonus also applies to Illusion spells and spell-like abilities. The next time, it extends to all spells with the chaotic descriptor. After that, the bonus increases by +1 at each level at which the paladin gains a feat.

Disadvantage: The paladin focuses so much on his inner perfection that he loses touch with the people around him. He gains a -2 penalty to all Charisma based skill checks as his tolerance for others’ faults erodes. He also suffers a -2 penalty to saves against lawful spells.


When it comes to Judgement, it is hard to find a more impartial arbiter than a paladin. He is committed to safeguarding the laws at the same time that he advocates fairness, and thus seeks the best resolution possible in any given conflict. He concentrates on keeping his moral compass working correctly, so that he has the moral authority to pass judgement over his peers. This contemplation makes paladins who embrace the cause of Judgement good judges of character, and not easily deceived.

Advantage: The paladin gains a +2 bonus to Sense Motive checks, and he may use three turn undead attempts to cast discern lies once per day. At every third level, the bonus to his Sense Motive checks increases by +1. Lastly, Knowledge (law) becomes a class skill.

Disadvantage: Keeping himself impartial and focused upon the rightness of the law makes the paladin a poor liar. He does not lie and, even when forced to do so, suffers from a -6 penalty to his Bluff checks. Also, by concentrating on his knowledge of law and good government, the paladin loses focus on other skills, with Heal and Knowledge (religion) becoming crossclass skills.


Paladins who turn their minds to philosophy often end up taking the cause of pure Law. They ponder on the nature of order and chaos and understand their role as agents of the former, staunch opponents of the latter. Their mind is open to the ways of Law both as an abstract concept and a universal force, with their conclusions filling them with purpose and strength, because they are well-reasoned and thoroughly thought about, rather than based solely on faith.

Advantage: The paladin adds the spells of the Law domain to his spell list (up to 4th level) and, once per week, he can sacrifice spell slots that add to five spell levels to cast dispel chaos.

Disadvantage: The paladin must have a Wisdom score of 15 or higher in order to understand the magic of Law. This focus robs him of a bit of creative spark, imposing a -1 penalty to all Wisdom-based skill checks and -2 to initiative rolls.


A peaceful society is an ordered society, and its citizens have time to prosper and concentrate on matters beyond survival. A paladin following the cause of Peace seeks a quick and painless resolution to conflicts he stumbles across. Although he believes that things can be solved through peaceful means, he knows when the line has been crossed and only swift and merciful violence can solve a situation, although it is always his last resort.

Advantage: When first taking up the cause of peace, the paladin gains a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks and adds calm emotion and Hold Person to his 2nd level spell list. At every level where he gains a feat, the bonus increases by +1.

Disadvantage: The paladin is not exactly naïve and trusting, but his keenness to reach a peaceful solution sometimes gets the better of him. Even after he takes an action in combat, he is still considered to be flatfooted during his first round. If battle breaks out when he is trying to negotiate, he suffers a -4 morale penalty to initiative.


Ensuring people are safe is the most important goal for the paladin; safe to go out at nights, safe to travel through a forest, safe to lead a normal life. He is always watchful of incoming threats and is always ready to confront them and deal with them so the people he protects do not even notice they were threatened. The paladin is the perfect watchman, as he is ever on the lookout.

Advantage: The paladin’s senses are always on alert, and he gains a +1 bonus to Spot and Listen checks. This bonus increases by +1 on every level when the paladin gains a feat. He is not considered to be flatfooted in a surprise round (although he still does not get an action), and his detect evil ability extends for an extra 30 feet beyond its normal range.

Disadvantage: Being on alert at all times is tiring for mind and body alike. The paladin only cures a number of hit points equal to half his level when he rests, although magical healing works normally. In addition, enemies may take advantage of his suspicious nature, as he suffers a -1 penalty on Will saves against Illusion magic.

Causes of Good


Despite their role as holy warriors, many paladins still find it in their hearts to make mercy and Compassion the cause they will defend with their lives. Forgiveness and redemption are the hallmarks of the Compassion cause, and paladins who follow it believe there is no such thing as irredeemable evil when it comes to mortals. They will protect the lives of prisoners with as much zeal as they protect those of innocents, and will take upon themselves the task to lead others to save themselves.

Advantage: The paladin adds remove curse and lesser geas to his 3rd level spell list, and Atonement to his 4th level spell list. The same day he loses his paladin abilities due to transgression of his code, he can cast Atonement to plead his case.

Disadvantage: Compassionate paladins are often the victims of deceit, for their trust in the good in others never wavers, even in the light of constant disappointment. They suffer a -2 penalty on Sense Motive rolls, and their detect evil ability is limited to 5 times per day plus their Charisma modifier.


The cause of defending good from evil gives the paladin an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of those who follow each of the moral paths. A paladin pursuing the Defence of good as his lifelong cause understands how its servants and its enemies work. He understands better how fiends, undead and other servants of darkness work and of the vile realms of the lower planes where the only light to be found is within one’s own heart.

Advantage: The paladin gains an additional use of his smite evil ability. At every level at which he gains a feat, he gains two bonus skill points to assign between Knowledge (the planes), Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft, which are considered class skills for the bonus skill points only.

Disadvantage: As a servant of good, there is a chance equal to 5% per character level (maximum 60%) that at the end of any given week, a celestial envoy will appear before the character and ask for a minor service. The paladin cannot refuse.


Introspective paladins ponder the true nature of Good so they might fully understand their role. They consider the nuances in the eternal battle of good against evil and understand their role as agents of the former, staunch opponents of the latter. Their minds are open to the ways of Good both as an abstract concept and a universal force, with their conclusions filling them with purpose and strength, their faith strengthened by enlightenment.

Advantage: The paladin adds the spells of the Good domain to his spell list (up to 4th level) and, once per week, he can sacrifice spell slots that add up to five spell levels to cast blade barrier. He casts protection from evil, magic circle against evil and Dispel Evil as if his caster level were equal to his paladin level.

Disadvantage: The paladin must have a Wisdom score of 15 or higher in order to understand the magic of Good with greater depth. This stronger allegiance makes the character vulnerable to certain magic. He is considered an outsider in respect to the protection from good and magic
circle against good
. The paladin saves against spells that target good creatures with a +2 DC.


Alleviating pain and suffering is one of the core values of the good morality, and few activities embody that ideal better than healing. Paladins, with their direct connection with the divine, can channel positive energy without resorting to magic, although, of course, they can also use the cure spells clerics have access to. Paladins dedicated to healing are a boon to their companions and indirectly a major threat to the undead, for they are even better than other paladins at channeling positive energy into healing power.

Advantage: Cure serious wounds is added to the paladin’s 3rd level spell list and cure critical wounds to his 4th level spell list. At every level when he would gain a feat, the paladin can cure +1 additional hit point with his curing abilities, including lay on hands. He also can use his remove disease ability one additional time per week.

Disadvantage: The paladin is reluctant to use deadly force, as he has dedicated his life to healing. When he is fighting non-evil living creatures, he suffers a -2 penalty to damage rolls. If he deals subdual damage, he suffers no penalty.


The combat training paladins go through allows them to last longer in battle – much longer than some of their companions. More than just taking the fighting role in a party, the paladin is the protector, the one who is always looking over his shoulder in the middle of a battle to make sure everybody else is alright, or at least holding their ground. And, if they must come between a fatal strike and a friend or an innocent, they will do so gladly.

Advantage: When casting protection from evil and magic circle against evil on targets other than himself, the bonuses to AC and saving throws is +3 instead of +2. Also, if an ally would be hit within the paladin’s run distance and he has not acted in that round, he can jump in initiative to interrupt the attacker and move between it and his ally. The paladin cannot do anything else in that round except execute a full defence action and his rescuing movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Disadvantage: The paladin who follows the cause of protection pays more attention to the safety of others than his own. When he casts protection from evil and magic circle against evil on himself, the bonuses to AC and saves is +1 instead of +2. Also, whenever he is fighting adjacent to an ally, he suffers a -2 Dodge penalty to his Armour Class and the ally gains a +1 synergy bonus to his own Armour Class, as the paladin watches over him. The character only suffers the effect of one adjacent ally.


Rather than follow an abstract cause, many paladins pledge their allegiance to a divine patron. Although most often a deity, the patron need not be so high in the celestial hierarchy. Paladins may serve a god, demigod or powerful denizen of the higher planes, or even an abstract force. High-ranking celestials, the concept of Light or the First Silver Dragon are examples of viable patrons that a paladin might serve.

A greater being offers patronage to individual paladins who shine above their brethren, whom it provides with their usual allotment of magic and divine power. Depending on the patron’s nature, the paladin so honoured might gain great advantages, but they come with equally great obligations. Weaker patrons demand less of their servants, but they also provide lesser gifts.

A paladin character may choose a patron or a cause as detailed above, but not both; he either serves his patron’s interests, his own personal focus, or goes about with neither, adapting his focus as the present situation requires, not beholden to a greater being’s inscrutable whims or the ethical demands of a focused cause.

Unlike causes, the paladin may ask or be offered patronage at any point in his career, but most potential patrons ask that the paladin possess certain powers on his own before bestowing more on him.


Gods and goddesses compose the bulk of beings that sponsor paladins beyond supplying them with their limited magic and other abilities. The deity must either be lawful or good in alignment (preferably both) in order for the connection between it and the paladin to work. Greater deities do not accept paladins of less than 14th level, while intermediate deities start at 11th and lesser deities at 8th.

Earning Patronage: To earn the patronage of a deity, a paladin must sacrifice part of his life force so that he can accept the deity’s essence and act as its agent. If the character is asking for patronage, he spends a full night in prayer and meditation, spending experience points as an offering. The deity answers and, if it deems the character worthy, he accepts the offering. If not, he gives the experience back and the paladin cannot ask for patronage until a year and a day later to any deity of equal or higher rank. The costs for each type of deity are detailed in the table at the end of this section.

Advantage: A paladin who becomes the agent of a deity is in for great power. When first gaining a deity as a patron, the paladin can choose one of the deity’s Domains (other than Law or Good). He gains the domain granted power and a Bonus Domain spell per level, up to their 4th level maximum. Depending on the deity’s rank, the paladin gains access to higher level spells from the Domain at the expense of a spell slot of the levels he can cast, and a temporary point of Wisdom damage. The paladin cannot use up Bonus Domain spells to power higher level domain spells. The levels available and their cost are detailed in the table at the end of this section.

Obligations: In exchange for the additional divine power the paladin wields, he is beholden to his patron’s needs and wants. He speaks for the deity and his actions reflect the deity. He must make a monthly offering of a value that befits the deity’s rank. The offering must be in the form of a donation to the deity’s temples, leaving it on a shrine or giving it away to charities in the deity’s name. In addition, the paladin swears an oath of fealty as described in the Tricks of the Trade chapter (severity +1 for lesser deities, +2 for intermediate and +3 for greater). The oath costs the paladin no experience, does not grant any of the advantages for the oath, but does carry the consequences for its violation.

Losing Patronage: Disobeying the deity’s orders is the most direct way to lose its patronage, but also transgressions that would cause the paladin to lose his status as one. He suffers the effects of violating the oath of fealty and loses his spellcasting and turn undead abilities, if the cause of the loss is not becoming an ex-paladin. The deity’s orders might be transmitted through another agent, but the paladin is always certain when an order is coming from the deity. To end the patronage peacefully, the deity asks for a final quest from the paladin.

Patron Deity

Deity RankXP CostHigh domain SpellsOffering Value
LesserPaladin’s level x 250XPNone100 gp
IntermediatePaladin’s level x 500 XP5th level200 gp
GreaterPaladin’s level x7505th and 6th400 gp
High Domain SpellsCost to cast
(Intermediate Deity)(Greater Deity)
5th4th level + 1 Wisdom3rd level + 1 Wisdom
6th4th level + 1 Wisdom

Quasi-divine Beings

Below the deities proper, there are a score of divine beings that do not shatter mountains in a single blow, nor raise them again at a whim. Demigods and powerful celestials like high-level solar lords are less demanding patrons than their betters in the celestial hierarchy. Celestial creatures must have a Challenge Rating higher than 20 in order to be able to act as patrons. Demigods and other celestials accept paladins of any level.

Earning Patronage: Asking or receiving patronage from one of the lesser celestials is easier than gaining the attention of a deity. The sacrifice of experience points is equal to the character’s level multiplied by 100.

Advantage: If the patron is a demigod, the paladin can choose one of its Domains. He gains the free use of the domain granted power. Other celestial creatures grant the paladin with a bonus feat from among their own repertoire plus a +2 sacred bonus to a single skill of the patron’s choosing. As these beings are closer to the Material Plane than the deities, the paladin may ask for assistance. He adds summon monster I through IV to his appropriate spell level lists, but he may only prepare each once per week, and the creatures arriving are always celestial.

Obligations: Very similar to those for the deities, the paladin is obligated to follow his patron’s orders. These patrons are not as demanding, though. They ask for an oath of fealty (severity +1), but the paladin does enjoy the benefits. He must offer a monthly prayer to the patron, informing him of his progress. Performing this prayer so that it pierces the planar barriers causes 1 point of temporary Wisdom damage.

Losing Patronage: Failing to report or follow direct orders gets the patrons angry at the paladin. They end the patronage at that moment, but the paladin does not suffer any ill consequence except the loss of the abilities the patron granted. Demigods and lesser celestials are more forgiving, since they are using the paladin for minor jobs anyway, and may agree to end patronage peacefully.

Abstract Forces

An abstract force serving as a patron pushes the paladin closer to druids and rangers, who serve an abstract force themselves in the form of Nature. Abstract forces are concepts of creation such as light, darkness, justice or even death. Choosing this kind of patron is very similar to choosing a cause, except that the abstract force is somehow sentient enough to understand the paladin’s needs and the power comes from outside, not from the paladin’s own conviction.

Earning Patronage: Earning the patronage of an abstract force is more a matter of happenstance, moreso if the paladin has no idea that the abstract force exists as a sentient entity or ideal that he could plead with. It is often the being that manifests before the paladin, offering its assistance and striking a deal. The paladin sacrifices an amount of experience points equal to his level multiplied by 50 to link with the force, and the deal is set.

Advantage: An abstract force is the sentient expression of a cleric Domain. The player should choose which Domain it is that he will serve, but any Domain with evil or chaotic spells in its list are not allowed. The paladin gains the domain granted power, and the abstract force grants him the use of the Domain’s 1st level spell as a spell-like ability, usable once per week.

Obligations: The paladin must act out the Domain’s philosophy. The Games Master and the player should agree on what kind of behaviour the paladin should have, but a good way to characterise this is to use the code of honour system in the previous chapter,creating tenets that agree with the Domain’s philosophy.

Losing Patronage: Failing to follow the Domain’s philosophy for three consecutive days causes the paladin to lose his patron’s benefits, but not his favour. A simple and sincere Diplomacy check (DC 18) should patch things up, but three such transgressions end the patronage definitely. The abstract force bestows a curse on the paladin as it leaves him, usually a reverse version of the domain granted power (acting as a bestow curse spell as if cast by a 15th level cleric).

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