What’s worse than one paladin? Two paladins.
Old joke. Still not funny. At least, I’m not laughing. Literally nothing is made better by the addition of paladins. Stealth? Forget about it. Thoughtful dialogue? Fuck off. Snappy one liners? Not a chance. I don’t need more muscle, I’ve got Lital. And I definitely don’t need muscle that argues with me or thinks that plans are for other people.
I especially don’t need muscle that listens to the plan and then goes off and does the exact fucking opposite leaving me and the rest of the party with a boatload of unpaid work, a number of entirely uncalled for death-threats and the need to hold a 2am See Spot Run truth and reconciliation session where we all explain using the smallest words possible why when someone says “I worth with cultists” in a nudge nudge wink wink fashion might mean the complete opposite of “I have a screaming mad-on for filling the world with demons”
I’m sat here, with a migraine and there isn’t enough whisky in the whole of the Empire. I’ve got it bad. I’ve got paladin blues.
Here’s how it can happen to you. First, add a paladin to your adventuring party. Why the fuck are you even in an adventuring party? Go home. Get a real job. But you can’t, so here you are. Now, whatever you decide to do as a group will, at any moment, be overridden by the demands of the paladin’s God. Doesn’t matter which God. They are all the same. Overpowered narcissistic fuckwads who throw toys out of the pram when they don’t get their way. Like editors only with lightning powers. Paladins are the unquestioning, bully boys of those Sky High Idiots. Yup. Because Gods didn’t get enough action with having The Hierophant and the Crusader duking it out for your very immortal soul (and not giving much of a crap about your very mortal body) – they had to have enforcers.
I can’t work with people who don’t have a fine respect for the grey areas of life. Grey areas are where it’s at. The gap between the have and the have-nots. The loophole. The memoranda that was conveniently “forgotten”. The secret treatise between Elves and Dwarves. Where the real stuff is. It’s all delicate, balanced on favours for favours and an understanding that some days you are up and some days you are down. That sometimes you get the worm and some days the Wrym gets… Well, you know what I mean.
Paladins don’t have that sense. They have a blind spot for all things that are neither Yes or No. Like a crappy bar that only serves “Red” or “White”. No fizz either.
Working around it is tough. Like, I have respect for their combat skills. You have to appreciate what it takes to stand there whilst you take a beating from a Frenzy Demon, or to jump in the way of a blow from a fucking demon cultist that threatened to kill one of the other adventurers (seriously, do something else).
And you know what the worst part of it is? You can’t argue with the whole “we need to get rid of demons” thing. Yeah. We know we need to get rid of them. No-one except for batshit crazy weren’t hugged enough as a child demon worshippers want that. And fuck those guys. Really, fuck them and their cursed knives and booby trapped gore ridden fucked up temples. I don’t even think the Diabolist wants demons to take over the world – not least cos that would render him a bit redundant.
Everyone wants rid of demons.
That’s not the point. The point is what are we prepared to tolerate in order to have a world without demons? Are we happy to constantly have to watch our backs in case some twitchy hopped up on God-ness mace wielding paladin drops a bag over our heads and bundles us of to Room 101 to torture a confession out of us? And believe you me, torture always gets confessions. I’ve got the scars on my back to prove it. It also ALWAYS get you the confessions that you want because (surprise!) people will say exactly what they think you want to hear to make you stop tearing out their fingernails.
Torture gets you confessions. It doesn’t get you intell. Here’s what gets you intell – listening to people, talking to them, getting in with a bad crowd and keeping your ear to the ground. Accept a bit of give and take. Being the kind of person that people want to talk to.
You know, like me.
What I’m not prepared to tolerate is the eternal sunshine of the spotless jackboot. I want to be free to mix with whoever I like, make whatever deals I want to make. I want to know that my sources aren’t going to be plucked from the streets and turned into mush in some kind of no-brain pogrom to eradicate a threat that could be dealt with quicker, easier and much, much less painfully using a bit more brains and a bit less brawn.
And that’s the problem I’ve got at the moment. On the one hand, a city clogged up with the kind of clichéd cultists that even hack writers for your cheap paperbacks would balk at describing. You know, not only are they murdering bastards but they also have no class or originality. And on the other, I’ve got the paladin. He’s keen, he wants to make the world a better place, but he only sees one version of “better” and one version of “make”.
Which is, when you think about it, the core of the problem. There are way too many people out there trying to “make” the world do things. And not nearly enough trying to give folk the freedom to just get on with their lives.
Give me a world without demons or paladins and I’m on board. Right now I’m still trying to work out which is the lesser of two evils. Admittedly, in the past two days several demons have tried to kill me, but on the other hand two paladins have tried to kill my source, and through that, my story.
It’s lucky for you that I’m so much of a committed professional that I’m still not sure which is worse.