There’s something important I left out about paladins, that I think is important to the class and how it’s played. Most paladins are mortal, and have chosen to devote their relatively short existence to upholding beliefs they hold which they believe to be far greater in importance than themselves. That’s something you don’t take lightly when dealing with a paladin.

Lots of us like to make fun of the paladin as a class concept, but there’s a great deal more at play. Common flaws of the paladin could be considered “short-sightedness” and “inflexibility,” but those are flaws chosen by the paladin. They exist for a reason, because the paladin made the conscious decision to put their beliefs first, and to uphold them through physical force, if necessary.

Few other character classes have the wherewithal to put their philosophical beliefs on the front lines to fight for them. Paladins take fire from all sides when they offer to pay for their beliefs with blood, and they suffer just as much for choosing to back up their beliefs as when they exercise moderation. Attacking a paladin for showing compassion is as popular as attacking them for meting out punishment.

Everyone has a different view of who can be considered a paladin, what a paladin should stand for, and how to do it wrong. You know who I think has the right idea? ArenaNet. Look at the Paladin Guardian in Guild Wars 2. In a single move, I think they’ve circumvented a lot of problems, by changing the name of the class.

Be sure you read through the list of their abilities: symbols, wards, magic shields, and spirit weapons are key powers in lots of roleplaying games that feature paladins — Dungeons & Dragons, Diablo 2, and WarCraft, to name a few (that came to mind). I think I’ve probably said enough on the topic, though, as simply mentioning the paladin in some gaming forums or groups is enough to spark arguments.

What might be done about the paladin? There’s a lot of expectation that comes with the class. Clearly, changing the name, as in the case of the Guild Wars 2 Guardian, might be the proper route. Newer generations of players won’t see the same stigma attached to paladins that D&D players from Second and Third Edition do.

It might just be something to wait out.