Though many are devout enough to channel the power of the immortals through theurgy, few have the dedication or strength of character to wear the mantle of righteousness. These few are the paladins, who wield the power of virtue in their crusade against evil.
All paladins swear to uphold to a strict moral code embodied by their four chief virtues.
- A paladin has Honor. He does not sully his name with deception, nor tarnish his dignity by indulging in sin.
- A paladin seeks Justice. He upholds the law of the land and lends aid to its agents.
- A paladin shows Mercy. He gives fair warning to his enemies, and quarter to those who surrender in good faith.
- A paladin Sacrifices for the greater good. He braves any peril to keep innocents from harm.
Much is implied within the few words of the Code. For instance, a paladin is not merely prohibited from lying, but from deceiving. If a paladin has reason to believe that telling a partial truth will mislead someone, he must speak the full truth or remain silent. Likewise, a paladin is not simply law-abiding; if he so much as witnesses a crime, he is honor-bound to report it to the proper authorities.
Bearing on the Dark Arts: The dark arts are especially anathema to paladins. Even though they are not mentioned directly by the Code, it is understood that they are antithetical to all four virtues. Their use is considered sinful, which is an affront to honor. They are outlawed in many lands, which is an affront to justice. Dark magic tortures and exploits the souls of the dead, which is an affront to mercy. In fact, their very existence jeopardizes innocents, which is an affront to sacrifice. Needless to say, a paladin may never employ the dark arts, and most paladins will refuse to tolerate anyone who does.
Bearing on Fiends and the Undead: Fiends are tortured souls who have been condemned to the Pit long enough to twist them into something inhuman. Undead are lost souls who forestall their own final judgment or else have been corrupted through the use of necromancy. In both cases, the duty of a paladin is to grant the soul peace. If cleansing is possible, that option may be explored, but killing such creatures is typically regarded as the most merciful outcome.