Zemanta suggested this post, “New Cleric Spell: Initiate Paladin” over at the blog Rolang’s Creeping Doom for my last post, which while unrelated to the post in question, made for interesting reading. It got me thinking about the differences between classes into which characters are “initiated,” versus “self starters.”

I would have categorized this under “Hey, Over Here,” but I’m actually going to talk more about, uh, initiation and codes of conduct than what’s in the post, but you should still go read the linked post because it’s cool. Just sayin’.

Paladins and codes of conduct are an argument that happens around most Third Edition gaming tables (that I know of) and the excising of said codes of conduct in Fourth Edition did wonders to cut down on the number of table arguments (those related to alignment, anyway). But what if code of conduct could be made playable?

In the linked post, it’s described that a paladin must never use Arcane magic, which immediately piqued my interest. In a game like Third Edition with rampant multiclassing, a restriction like limiting the use arcane spells might make a class like the paladin inaccessible to rules-conscious players…

But what about in a game that didn’t allow for multiclassing?

A game where the flavor reinforced the gameplay, as opposed to dictating restrictions and so forth? In a game where it literally isn’t possible to play a paladin who uses arcane magic, the code of conduct is more a feature of flavor than anything else. Hm, but I may have defeated myself here. What does the code matter then?

You still wind up in a situation where the paladin dictates whom the party may or may not turn to for aid, and it gives ammunition to griefers within the group, who only want to stir up trouble rather than play the game. No, perhaps the code of conduct is still just as bad an idea as it ever was – but I can’t help asking “what if?”

What if it were possible to make a playable code? What if it were possible to make oaths and promises and initiations playable without making them annoyingly and game-derailingly restrictive? Maybe there’s a way to make short-term, clear-cut promises that the player can fulfill and adhere to? I don’t know.

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