> IMHO, and don't take it too personal. If you really wish to expand, then
> your not playing a paladin. You are playing a fighter, how thinks he is a
> paladin, and has somehow managed to trick his god into thinking it too.

This is going to be a long one, folks. Wade in at your own risk....

There's been a lot of discussion about what the duties of a paladin are and what
his alignment would lead him to do. IMNSHO, this is one of the stickier points
of AD&D's alignment system, which doesn't really lend itself very well to the
gaming versions of real world conflicts like politics, war, justice, religion,
etc. That's part of the problem when you try to apply a game concept like
alignment to an abstract, real world concept like morality, which is why a lot
of RPG's don't even have alignment or anything like it. (And they seem to get
along just fine without it, huh?)

Personally, I'm inclined to the loosest possible definitions of alignment. That
is, lawful people will tend to obey the rules, good people will try not to kill
people when it is avoidable, chaotic folks will value their personal freedom,
evil people don't care if the people around them live or die. That's it.
Anything beyond that starts getting sticky and I try to stay out of it. If a
player can justify his character's behavior, then I say go to it.

Alignment has very little to do with personality. There can be really sweet,
nice, pleasant, helpful, cheerful people that are lawful good or chaotic evil.
One is just more likely to kill you when you turn your back than the other. The
tricky thing is that you can never tell which one. The lawful good guy might
have some whacked "eye for an eye" reason to kill someone, and from what I can
tell there isn't any reason why his alignment would preclude a backstabbing if
it was in the interest of justice, or even just his interpretation of justice.
There are plenty of people in jail who could be interpreted as behaving in a
lawful fashion.

Superman is lawful good. But so is Batman. Big difference. To me, Mother
Theresa was neutral good. So was Princess Diana. Again, big difference. (I
felt compelled by last year's feeble media attention to make that comparison. I
apologize to all Catholics and anglophiles reading this.) Remember that guy
Beloche from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Well, he was probably chaotic evil, but
he was rather pleasant to sit in a cafe with and drink coffee even after he just
had your girlfriend kidnapped and blown up in a truck. On the other hand, a
paladin could be out on the streets chopping up an old lady with an ax and that
would be perfectly fine, even required by his profession/alignment. What if the
old lady is a witch and she was trying to cast a spell on someone to control
their mind?

The point in this is that ambition is not an unlawful thing. In fact, the
opposite is true. I think a paladin would be encouraged by his alignment and
faith to try to spread his just and protective rule over as broad an area as
possible. How would he spread his rule? In the way other rulers spread
theirs', but with his own take on it. Being a vassal of Ilien a problem? No
way. Just present yourself to the people as a more effective ruler of the realm
by showing them how qualified you are, especially when compared to that wimpy
spell caster. In game terms this is an agitate action. Surely, an ambitious
young paladin would believe himself a more effective sheriff than a crusty old
mage? Well, he could contest the law holdings of Ilien and build up his own.
>From the paladin's point of view, this would be for the greater good.

Now, this doesn't mean that anything is justified. Rather, it means that
justification is required. A paladin can't go around crushing whoever he likes,
but if he has determined in a legitimate fashion that someone is his opposition,
then that person can be opposed without remorse. He would probably not consider
essentially benevolent rulers in the area his opposition. But that doesn't mean
he should have a problem with using political means to expand his power.

>From what I can tell there are two motivations for people who go into politics.
The "good" one, I want to serve and protect those around me; and the "evil" one,
I want power. The problem is that these two motivations inevitably bleed into
one another. One cannot "serve and protect" the people without getting some
sort of power over them, and one cannot get power over people without defending
them and gaining some sort of conservatorship of them. This is why it conflicts
with alignment. Alignment is AD&D is presented as a scale. Remember that graph
at the back of the old Player's Handbook? It had law and chaos, good and evil
on a box with the various forces in opposition to one another. Well, if you
want to think about it that way you really have to add another axis or two with
things like politics, ambition, religion, faith, etc. putting the chart into
three dimensions and pulling the character's "alignment" away from those four
basic alignments.

Part of the problem might be the interpretation of what the Contest and Agitate
actions are. I suspect people are putting them into the context of a more
violent action than they are indicated to have. A contest action could be an
actual, physical raid upon a rival's holdings, but it could just take the form
of a propaganda campaign. From what I can tell, these actions are just the game
versions of political infighting. There's nothing inherently evil about them.

What's the difference? Role playing. You have to role play the context in
which these actions take place and then use the actions to determine how those
actions are accepted or rejected by the population.

Man! I feel like I just reread St. Augustine. I'm going to quit now before an
old philosophy professor of mine starts pelting me with textbooks....

- -Gary