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 Paladins of Lathander code of conduct vs. spying!
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Nicolai Withander
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1079 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  00:40:58  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Had a discussions with a friend/ DM, about whether or not it would break a paladin of Lathander's code of conduct to employ the use of undercover spies to gather foreign intelligence, from enemies, neutral and allied nations-states as well as organizations of interest (mostly evil thief guilds like the Shadow Thieves).

Now he argues that it would indeed break it, I would ague, that its not per say evil to do secret or covert stuff when this is for the betterment of good in general. I would also ague that Lathanders dogma would permit this.

What is the lore keepers of Candlekeep's position on this?

Thanks

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30290 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  03:55:08  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see anything in the write-up of Lathander, in Faiths & Avatars, that rules out spying.

It's certainly not his gig, though, and I'd expect that a more direct approach would be strongly favored. And deceit is often involved in spying; that would be strongly frowned upon, at the very least.

That said, Lathanderites find it very important to be out there fighting the good fight. And good intel helps someone fight the good fight.

Me, I'd say it would be frowned upon, and may require atonement -- but if the spies avoid harming innocent people (and that's really important), and their efforts directly support the eradication of evil, then it would be grudgingly accepted.

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Gelcur
Learned Scribe

244 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  04:15:42  Show Profile  Visit Gelcur's Homepage Send Gelcur a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with Wooly. I would also add that common worshipers of Lathander are aristocrats and merchants, both groups known for using spies in day to day activities. Though the paladin would not stoop to that level himself he would not deem it inappropriate and would consider it his duty to act on information brought to his attention.

Who he is condoning the spying on would make a difference as well. For example spying on a lover, someone he has entered into a contract/friendly agreement with would be a breaking his code of conduct. Mainly there should be just cause, Lathander urges respect for one's fellow man but also intolerance for evil. So if you have a good suspicion of evil or undead go hog wild.

The party come to a town befallen by hysteria

Rogue: So what's in the general store?
DM: What are you looking for?
Rogue: Whatevers in the store.
DM: Like what?
Rogue: Everything.
DM: There is a lot of stuff.
Rogue: Is there a cart outside?
DM: (rolls) Yes.
Rogue: We'll take it all, we may need it for the greater good.
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6399 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  04:22:05  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Spies and spying. Espionage, misdirection, counterintelligence, covert movements, deceptions, eavesdropping, layers of lies skillfully painted over other layers of lies.
These do not seem very much like virtues a (Lawful)Good-aligned Lathander would praise. He is a god of (among other things) nobility and self-perfection, a god who grants divinations and blessings which cast piercing shafts of His Blazing Radiance into truths cleverly hidden beneath shadowy cowls of illusion, into truths yet undiscovered within dark empty pools of unenlightened ignorance.

One might argue there are times when spying can be justified. Perhaps careful deception causes least possible harm? One small lie might turn an angry man away from wrongful acts or regretful words, it might feed a hungry child, it might spare the life of a miserable wretch. But then, if small lies have such power then many small lies might turn a proud king away from war and conquest, it might feed starving villages, it might dispense mercy upon a hundred doomed prisoners. And great lies would have more power still! And many great lies could accomplish anything one could imagine!

Yet spies are traitors and betrayers, and thieves, and saboteurs, they are even assassins when such is needed. They are men who can rationalize and perform all manner of unsavoury actions, they practice their crafts with secret and veiled purposes, leading themselves ever further astray from Lathander's Glorious Illumination. Spies and lies are the tools and pawns of lesser gods like shadowy Mask, perhaps also heartless Shar, not of pure and noble gods like Eternally Luminous Lathander. The best of spies are by their nature the best of criminals, they are not righteous champions who embody the Morninglord's exalted glowing purity of self among others. How pragmatic and utilitarian and versatile lies to others can be, but too many lies which can fool others can also fool the liar himself, how inescapably lies lead one to realize that killing one man with a dagger in the back or poisoning his child while she sleeps could be better than letting him command legions to lay siege upon a city and kill many thousands at the next rising dawn of Lathander's Gloriously Burning Gaze.

A true paladin would not dabble in these darkened paths of the soul. Nor tread down such unwholesome avenues and alleys where he could expect - at best - to meet unwholesome masters able to teach him the subtleties of treachery and deception. A true paladin is, above all else, a man with true faith and a warrior with true strength and a champion with true virtue. A paladin of Lathander, god of nobility and self-perfection, strives to be even more than this - he serves as the finest paragon and living exemplar of only purely noble thoughts and words and deeds; he has full mastery and discipline over himself; he strives for integrity and ideals with unwavering focus on the purpose he serves to himself and his god-star, Holy Lathander; he is renewed by overcoming the challenges and weaknesses of men, whether these be found within himself or in others, and like the Sun he moves unflinchingly towards illuminating all in his path to true enlightenment. That which scuttles in the darkness is as far beneath such a paladin's regard as it is beneath Lathander's Orb Of The Firmament. Lathander is the highest placed and holiest of the Faerunian gods, He judges His champions by the highest and holiest of standards, to discard Him and walk a dark path woven by spies and lies invites the most grave consequences.

[/Ayrik]
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6399 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  04:26:38  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just sayin'

[/Ayrik]
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Nicolai Withander
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1079 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  09:53:56  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you for your answers...

I see that there is not complete agreement, but the jist is there. "Its an unsavory conduct, but can serve a purpose for the greater good"

Again, I agree, that it might not be acceptable conduct for the paladin himself, but I would ague, that the act of gathering intelligence is not inherently evil. It would depend on how you gained said intelligence. I would further argue, that if that intelligence was used for evil intent, that it still wouldn't make the act of gaining the information evil, however the secondary effect - a targeted killing - would be.

The way I see it, that a LG paladin can collaborate with the Harpers or Moonstars without breaking his code of conduct. I would also say that I interpret the last sentence in Lathander's dogma to be lenient in terms sketchy conduct.

The case of the discussion is about a LG Paladin of Lathander, who happens to be the absolute King of Waterdeep... So he now has to take care of the security of not only Waterdeep, but large sections of the Sword Coast. He's Chief of Defense (an NPC) has been training some agents as spies to gather information for him... Question now remains to see, this Saturday what will happen is he chooses to deploy them. These NPCs are followers of his.
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Gelcur
Learned Scribe

244 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  14:55:49  Show Profile  Visit Gelcur's Homepage Send Gelcur a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think you have the correct understanding. Some examples similar to the position this paladin is in would be Piergeiron the Paladinson, LG paladin of Tyr. Then there is King Azoun the IV of Cormyr, LG cavalier. Both of which I'm sure employeed spies for various things, both of which were fed info by spying wizards trying to better their rule.

The party come to a town befallen by hysteria

Rogue: So what's in the general store?
DM: What are you looking for?
Rogue: Whatevers in the store.
DM: Like what?
Rogue: Everything.
DM: There is a lot of stuff.
Rogue: Is there a cart outside?
DM: (rolls) Yes.
Rogue: We'll take it all, we may need it for the greater good.
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6399 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  15:03:52  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would say that Lathander's clergy might understand the usefulness (perhaps even the "need") of spies and deceptions.

But they would not tarnish Lathander's precious paladins in such unsavoury affairs. They might direct the wealth and labours and resources of Lathander's faithful, they might task adventurers with communicating to networks of thieves, they might buy the loyalties of mercenary agents. They would only do such things reluctantly, as a last recourse, only when no "proper" conduct could openly achieve their goals.

But paladins follow more illuminated paths and best demonstrate their faith and their god through emulating higher (the very highest!) modes of conduct. I'd think paladins far better than lawyers, they don't quibble over blurry definitions and exacting letters of the law in their compact with divinity (unless of course they serve blind Tyr) - they dedicate themselves and their lives and their whole purpose towards their faith - and Lathander's paladins in particular would demand and accept nothing less than the most noble and the most perfect way of all things within themselves and their interactions with the world.

The gathering of intelligence through necessary deceptions is not inherently or intrinsically evil. Nor is eating the meat of a slaughtered animal, punishing offenders of authority, studying forbidden knowledge, admiring (even coveting) the ephemeral beauties of crafts or arts or women. But these are all things governed by other deities, of little concern to Lathander Morninglord. Servants of a deity best serve by pursuing that which emulates and empowers and enlarges their deity - not other deities! - and Lathander's portfolios are those which explicitly reflect virtue upon qualities of nobility and self-perfection, a true paladin of Lathander must strive towards only the most noble pursuits of excellence. Covert spying and deceptions may sometimes present a quicker or easier path but they do not represent Lathander's path. Lathander's paladins are not promised an easy or lazy life, indeed those inclined to think towards such expedient terms would never have even been chosen or empowered as Lathander's worldly vessels.

Using covert deceptions might achieve or accomplish the right thing. But not by doing it the right way. This would be a critical distinction to Lathander alone among all the Faerunian powers. His paladins would not be expected to atone after doing wrong things for right reasons, they would be expected at all times to lead and follow in complete accordance with perfection. The sun and the dawn do not glow brighter when darkened and discoloured by clouds.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 21 Sep 2017 16:05:00
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
14187 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  16:46:46  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gathering information to PROVE someone/something is 'guilty of whatever 'crimes' you suspect them of is PRECISELY what being 'lawful' is all about.

NOT obtaining the necessary information ('proof') is what I would have a problem with - you're basically condemning someone/something because of your 'suspicions'. Lawful good conducts investigations. Chaotic good just shows up in town and starts killing anyone that looks 'wrong'.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 21 Sep 2017 16:47:04
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30290 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  17:21:10  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
True, but information can be gathered without spying.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Nicolai Withander
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1079 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  21:00:23  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Indeed... I don't see the act of intelligence gathering as inherently evil. Even if you use this information to do evil, its still not the intelligence gathering which is evil... the targeted killing following it is.

I agree that the Paladin might not be able to do covert operations himself, but I would argue that he could collaborate with The Harpers or Moonstars... Without the falling from grace... The specific of the debate was whether or not the LG paladin of Lathander, who is a ruling King, order the creation of a CIA/FBI cell, and have his chief of defense to train and deploy these agents... Again I would say it would be immoral not to do all in your power to uncover evil and aggressive acts against he people and other good people in other nations states too...

Indeed the actions might be unsavory.. as in infiltrating and even perhaps having these agents take part in criminal acts, but for the greater god. I think of it like this. But then we ague whether or not its evil to actively kill 10, to actively save 100 or whether passively killing 100 is worse.

The intelligence agents mission is to gather information valuable to the national security of Walden Kingdom. This include anything that might threaten to destabilize or undermine the territorial and political legitimacy and ability to govern said areas. Information might include information on war, crime, political maneuvering, targeted killing and terror as well as foreign espionage etc.
The purpose of the agents is to gather information in such a timely manner as to make Walden able to counter threats to the Kingdom, or as a minimum obtain information in such a way as to alert the Kingdom of impending threats.

The agents may work independently and make use of own judgment to fulfill their mission to the best of their abilities and in a way tailored to the particular target.
The Unblinking Eyes serves and foreign intelligence service where the King’s Coronets serves as the domestic security agency. They both have the same mission but differs in that the foreign agency is focused more on offensive espionage and external security whereas the domestic is focused more on counter espionage and internal security. Both types of agents work and gather intelligence in all walks of life and on the tactical all the way through to the political level.


So its an interesting debate (at least I think) of whether ones morals are so dogmatic/ pious as to prohibit one for engaging in activities that could potentially save thousands, whether that action itself is immoral in and of itself. One could ague here, that not being proactive in the undertaking of providing security makes one reactive, and one could argue that, that kind of proactivity necessarily would entail preemptive attacks, which might be seen as too aggressive. But again is the life of 1 king or general more evil than the slaughter on the battlefield killing thousands???

The last sentence of Lathander's dogma in F&P actually to me means leeway in terms of how strick ones code of conduct needs to be... I understand that the class, not the deity, has that requirement but I would deem that sentence to mean that its more important to be active in the pursuit of good, that to adhere to the seneschal's strict demands for piousness.
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3414 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  21:43:05  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nothing about spying or acting covertly is inherently evil. A Paladin is just as surely to kick sand in an evil necromancers face to get the upper-hand to slay him as the next warrior, especially when it serves the greater good. That being said the Paladin would be very picky about who these spies are and if they're evil or not. A Spy against the Zhents, for example, might mean that person has to do very...questionable things. That will change their Alignment and if it's evil acts then I don't think a paladin would employ such a person. Heck I could see a Paladin gaining the confidence of a courtesan so long as they weren't evil and could get vital information to aid others.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."

Edited by - Diffan on 21 Sep 2017 21:43:52
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6399 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  22:54:47  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So the paladin is more than the sword and shield of the faith. He is also the betrayer's ear, the poisoned tongue, the sleeping dagger.

Easy enough for the paladin to detect evil on his agents and dupes and conspirators.

As an instrument of a god with the portfolios of nobility and self-perfection, lol.
Should this paladin, successful in exploiting spies and deceptions without bloodshed, be praised for choosing these ruthless and efficient methods instead of confronting evil more directly? Would Lathander have preferred the paladin acted in a more "noble" and "perfect" manner?

Permit evil to taint the world or permit it to taint the nobility of self, sometimes evil prevails (even thrives) but at least a paladin acting with integrity chooses the more noble course, while choosing the opposite course loses twice.

"Holy Lathander, I pray to you now to give my treacherous agents the grace of stealthy silence, the cunning they need to avoid capture, strength to resist torture, and a sun-golden tongue which can glibly deceive the guards ..."

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 21 Sep 2017 23:02:13
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3414 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  23:29:24  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

So the paladin is more than the sword and shield of the faith. He is also the betrayer's ear, the poisoned tongue, the sleeping dagger.



Technically the Paladin isn't doing any of that. Perhaps they're benefiting from it, but aren't directly involved. And of course if any of the Paladin's contacts do evil acts, they'll certainly know and act accordingly. But this is why a LOT of people either think Paladins are Lawful-Stupid or play them Lawful Stupid. The unimaginative way in which they're sometimes portrayed or believed MUST be portrayed (or otherwise suffer some sort of negative effect) ends up with them just smashing in doors "For Justice!", thus putting FAR more people at risk and death (something a Paladin would loathe to do).

In my games should a Paladin, regardless of deity served or chosen, desire to help bring down say...a Tyrannical overlord or nefarious institution, but lacks the strength of arms to do so then this route is certainly serviceable compared to attacking the main hall at noon with everyone watching. Sure it's a noble gesture and you'll be able to tell Lathander yourself ALL about it when you meet him moments later. I'd like to think deities who have servants actually want their servants to succeed in their endeavors rather than blatant self-sacrifice.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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Nicolai Withander
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1079 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2017 :  23:37:13  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

So the paladin is more than the sword and shield of the faith. He is also the betrayer's ear, the poisoned tongue, the sleeping dagger.

Easy enough for the paladin to detect evil on his agents and dupes and conspirators.

As an instrument of a god with the portfolios of nobility and self-perfection, lol.
Should this paladin, successful in exploiting spies and deceptions without bloodshed, be praised for choosing these ruthless and efficient methods instead of confronting evil more directly? Would Lathander have preferred the paladin acted in a more "noble" and "perfect" manner?

Permit evil to taint the world or permit it to taint the nobility of self, sometimes evil prevails (even thrives) but at least a paladin acting with integrity chooses the more noble course, while choosing the opposite course loses twice.

"Holy Lathander, I pray to you now to give my treacherous agents the grace of stealthy silence, the cunning they need to avoid capture, strength to resist torture, and a sun-golden tongue which can glibly deceive the guards ..."



A simple spell of non-detections makes his detect evil worthless against powerful agents of evil.

This thing is, with the responsibility of providing security for 1.500.000 people in his kingdom, should the paladin not use what ever resources available to him, to root out evil and terrorists?

How about collaborating with the Harpers?

quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

So the paladin is more than the sword and shield of the faith. He is also the betrayer's ear, the poisoned tongue, the sleeping dagger.



Technically the Paladin isn't doing any of that. Perhaps they're benefiting from it, but aren't directly involved. And of course if any of the Paladin's contacts do evil acts, they'll certainly know and act accordingly. But this is why a LOT of people either think Paladins are Lawful-Stupid or play them Lawful Stupid. The unimaginative way in which they're sometimes portrayed or believed MUST be portrayed (or otherwise suffer some sort of negative effect) ends up with them just smashing in doors "For Justice!", thus putting FAR more people at risk and death (something a Paladin would loathe to do).

In my games should a Paladin, regardless of deity served or chosen, desire to help bring down say...a Tyrannical overlord or nefarious institution, but lacks the strength of arms to do so then this route is certainly serviceable compared to attacking the main hall at noon with everyone watching. Sure it's a noble gesture and you'll be able to tell Lathander yourself ALL about it when you meet him moments later. I'd like to think deities who have servants actually want their servants to succeed in their endeavors rather than blatant self-sacrifice.



That's pretty much how I feel. So I'm glad I'm not alone on that. And, as I've said multiple times, I think the specific dogma should be more important than the generic class description.

Edited by - Nicolai Withander on 21 Sep 2017 23:45:50
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3414 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  01:50:09  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Nicolai Withander
quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

So the paladin is more than the sword and shield of the faith. He is also the betrayer's ear, the poisoned tongue, the sleeping dagger.



Technically the Paladin isn't doing any of that. Perhaps they're benefiting from it, but aren't directly involved. And of course if any of the Paladin's contacts do evil acts, they'll certainly know and act accordingly. But this is why a LOT of people either think Paladins are Lawful-Stupid or play them Lawful Stupid. The unimaginative way in which they're sometimes portrayed or believed MUST be portrayed (or otherwise suffer some sort of negative effect) ends up with them just smashing in doors "For Justice!", thus putting FAR more people at risk and death (something a Paladin would loathe to do).

In my games should a Paladin, regardless of deity served or chosen, desire to help bring down say...a Tyrannical overlord or nefarious institution, but lacks the strength of arms to do so then this route is certainly serviceable compared to attacking the main hall at noon with everyone watching. Sure it's a noble gesture and you'll be able to tell Lathander yourself ALL about it when you meet him moments later. I'd like to think deities who have servants actually want their servants to succeed in their endeavors rather than blatant self-sacrifice.



That's pretty much how I feel. So I'm glad I'm not alone on that. And, as I've said multiple times, I think the specific dogma should be more important than the generic class description.



This is why I really encourage oaths and tenets to be Deity specific, though not mandatory. The code a Paladin keeps in 3rd edition, or their alignment requirement in 4th edition (to be the same as the deity served), or the Oath a paladin swears in 5th edition is fine for any standard, run-of-the-mill campaign. In the Forgotten Realms it can certainly be more or different than what the class spells out. For example in 5e there's 3 different Oaths in the Player's Handbook, each one dictating actions that push a certain play-style (and to a lesser extent, alignment) but they need not be exactly the same. A Tormite Paladin with the Oath of Devotion is going to have a different outlook, a different style, and a different approach to situations than a Ilmater Paladin with the same oath of Devotion.

With that said I think a Paladin still needs to be smart when approaching schemes that far exceed what simple divine-brute force cannot accomplish. In situations where their numbers are far fewer than the enemy, when odds look bleak, when charging the hill will almost certainly accomplish a quick death and little else then a Paladin needs to be more creative, despite not exactly how their church/deity/etc likes to operate.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."

Edited by - Diffan on 22 Sep 2017 01:52:43
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6399 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  04:48:20  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Both valid points. I've been playing the role of (sunny) devil's advocate because I'm curious to see what sort of convincing arguments could be presented to the OP's "friend/DM".

Yes, one paladin cannot reasonably expect to single-handedly combat all the evils in the world. Brandishing your Holy Sunblade or Dawnspeaker Mace while challenging the leader of a Zhentarim army (Fzoul Chembryl? Manshoon? Semmemon?) to step forward and engage in personal combat under the righteous blazing light of your god is not going to accomplish a whole lot before the day is done.

"A Paladin cannot associate with any character who persistently commits acts which would cause the Paladin him/herself to Fall", "A Paladin must remain truthful and forthright at all times", "A Paladin must give fair warning and due quarter to enemies" and "A Paladin holds stealth, subterfuge, attack from the rear, missile weapons and especially poison as weapons of last resort". But also "Occasional, necessary, minor deviations are permissible". And, again, single-handedly challenging the entire Zhentarim army is not going to produce much more than a sad memory.

And it's true that not all spying, deception, "stealth and subterfuge" is evil. Plenty of "military intelligence" can be learned from beggars or courtesans or pesky Harpers who commit no evil and have no evil intent. Much useful information of this sort is widely known and unintentionally learned by the most innocent anyhow. But it can be a fine line and a slippery slope, especially when The Use Of Spies is a deliberately deployed weapon. It's a kind of war and a type of battle that paladins cannot win.

The paladin "isn't doing any of that" and is only "benefiting from it" can be an entire debate over ethics and responsibility in itself, lol, but even if the paladin is (in)directly complicit there is still always detect evil.

And yes, even detect evil (like any other magical divination) can be neutralized ... and there's not really much a paladin can do about that. He would need to rely on his own natural perceptions and judgement (high Wisdom and Charisma scores) instead of relying on his deity's granted power. It can be difficult to determine the true motives of a skilled spy, and even paladins who strive for self-perfection are fallible, but a paladin is after all a champion of virtue guided by an unswerving moral compass, he's likely far more perceptive than most men when weighing the true balance of good or evil in things.

Lawful Stupid is really just an expression of player immaturity. The only permanent cure is time, and many new character sheets, and the chance to observe Lawful Good properly played (especially when it prevails against challenges). Lawful Stupid is a normal growth phase, it'll pass.
The stereotypical religious fanatic screaming "Deus Vult!" while he kicks down every door is indeed unimaginative and somewhat hazardous. But lessons about this behaviour can be learned quickly enough (for most) after being hit repeatedly by whatever's thrown or shot or launched at the big screaming target standing in suddenly open doorways. (Even though kick-down-the-door is a fine RPG tradition which should be honoured and passed on through generations.)

"Dogma" is tricky.

It's reasonable to assume Lathander (the greater deity) is basically omniscient to all that relates to his worldly servants. He sees and knows and understands their innermost thoughts and feelings, he sees and knows and understands things they even keep hidden from themselves. No fooling your own god. If Lathander ever has need, he can communicate "directly" through visions or dreams or by granting (or by denying) spells and powers, he can communicate "indirectly" through proxies or agents or even other priests/paladins. So a paladin will always know (at least within his heart) when he has pleased or displeased his god, when he has made an error, when his faith is being tested, even though he may need to parse or reflect upon the exact meaning of Lathander's cryptic message before it suddenly "dawns" on him.

But the dogma of Lathander's Church is more ambiguous. It's based on interpretations and traditions and the opinions of those in authority. Lathander's clerics can be Neutral Good (technically even True Neutral), actually less inclined to understand Lathander's scriptures/teachings as rigidly and literally as a Lawful Good paladin. From the paladin's point of view the official "dogma" of the Church could be too poorly ordered or vaguely defined when a more practical and precise treatise would better serve Lathander's morning glory (outside of the Church, anyhow). I'm sure the Order of the Aster (which also includes fighters) emphasizes a more militant "dogma", likely "sanctioned" by the clergy but possibly based on "apocrypha" unknown outside the Order.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 22 Sep 2017 04:52:57
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moonbeast
Learned Scribe

USA
311 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  06:09:19  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Nicolai Withander

Thank you for your answers...

I see that there is not complete agreement, but the jist is there. "Its an unsavory conduct, but can serve a purpose for the greater good"



And you realize the answer then. A Paladin could theoretically do countless "things" that can serve the greater good, but yet is against the code of honor. For example he can use his sword and stab in the back a known bandit leader while that bandit leader is drinking his ale. Does it serve to Greater Good to murder that known bandit lord on the spot? YES. But is it an honorable way of doing things? NO.

And thus the same with employing spies. Espionage, as already mentioned above, involves layers of lies and deception. Thus the very act of employing spies is….. dishonorable. Could employing them help to serve the greater good for the Paladin and his forces? Sure it can. But the employment of spies remains an unsavory and dishonorable thing.

However, as others stated, if the Dogma of Lathander (or any particular Paladin deity) is ambiguous…. then YOU as the DM can interpret the dogma. Different GOOD deities have different moral dogma. Some deity dogmas are more focused on Justice and Law. Others are more concerned with doing what is right and Good. If Lathander's is not specifically defined, then you are free to define it yourself, to suit your personal campaign game.

If it were up to me… I would rule out espionage for Lathandrian Paladins, simply because he is a God of Light/Sun. And things cowardly done in darkness and secrecy is the opposite of the domains of Light and Brightness and Sun-lighted transparency. But this is just me.

Edited by - moonbeast on 22 Sep 2017 06:18:44
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moonbeast
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  06:28:37  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I might add that being a Paladin is hard enough to live up to one's duties. Being a ruling King and remaining a Paladin is a very very very difficult job indeed.

We are reminded of this by literary examples of Paladin courts…. King Arthur was not without blemish, and his Knights were morally flawed, even (the King's favorite) Lancelot was sleeping around with the Queen. Same with the French Paladins under the Charlemagne legend (La Chanson de Roland). They were morally flawed, and back-stabbing and traitorous betrayal was happening all the time. The Chanson de Roland is where we actually inherit the word "paladin" from French literature. It's a good read.

Edited by - moonbeast on 22 Sep 2017 06:29:42
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Ayrik
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  07:34:24  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah, the King needn't worry overmuch about such stuff. If he does not appoint a spymaster then one will voluntarily fill the position for him.

Remember that King Arthur (the Paladin) also had Merlin, a shapechanging demon-spawned illusionist. Merlin served many useful roles. Including spymaster and assassin.

King Azoun(s) of Cormyr (the Paladins) had Vangerdahast. Vangey was a paranoid spymaster who reinforced "loyalty to crown and kingdom" with magical geasa, he didn't even trust his own secret police.

So obviously you just need to hire yourself a competent archmage!
Preferably a cambion or tiefling, though perhaps a drow or half-orc would suffice if you play classic AD&D. Or a borderline psychopath, the more coldly aloof or socially disfunctional or acutely paranoid the better. Or (my personal fave) a Rasputin-inspired psionic/telepath.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 22 Sep 2017 07:46:19
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Bladewind
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Netherlands
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  10:06:36  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I tend to lean to the strict side of the paladin oaths (with honesty being the most important tenet), so I would say a paladin will have to atone after some period of spycraft is undertaken, just to see if one of the spies has had to achieve his results trough unsavory means.

Spycraft can be done the 'paladin way' but that would mean it will result in less complete information, which is acceptable to an order of paladins because of their connection with their Gods and the clergy allows them a way to have each piece of information vetted.

So a paladins spy has no use of falsehoods, would openly warn the foe of his intent to watch his every move, and would spy on his enemies without disguises. A golem, high level monk or magic sensor could achieve the aforementioned through toughness, unassuming modesty or being inherently hard to detect.

Using monks of the Order of the Aster who have taken a vow of nonviolence might work best. Have the monk infiltrate as the gardener and work a menial job at the evil temple, while he slips away to eavesdrop during the meeting of the evil bishops of the enemies.

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Nicolai Withander
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  11:45:45  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bladewind

Have the monk infiltrate as the gardener and work a menial job at the evil temple, while he slips away to eavesdrop during the meeting of the evil bishops of the enemies.



This is pretty much what was the intention. Here are some examples of the covers the agents would be having:

The Royal Court: Undercover as: Valet, servant, waiter etc. Conducting counter-espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and eavesdropping on patrons attending court.


Cormyr: Undercover as: Civil servant to the court. Conducting espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and eavesdropping on the military- political and leadership situation.

Thay: Undercover as: Civilian trader. Conducting espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and eavesdropping on the military- political and leadership situation.

Westgate: Undercover as: Minor criminal. Conducting infiltration, espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and information gathering on members of the criminal underworld, its organizations, plans, allies, and operations (targets, missions etc).

City Watch: Undercover as: Corporal. Conducting counter-espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and eavesdropping on members of the Guard and happenings in Waterdeep City.

Baldur’s Gate: Undercover as: Soldier of the Baldurian Army. Conducting espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and eavesdropping on the military- political and leadership situation.

The Xanathar Thieves' Guild: Undercover as: Minor criminal. Conducting infiltration, counter-espionage, surveillance/ monitoring, and information gathering on members of the organization, its plans, allies, and operations (targets, missions etc).


So there is no assassinations or sneak attacks prepared with these operations. They are simply to get information. I think that its a valid point that it goes against the chivalrous ways of a paladin, but its such a useful tool in the fight against evil, tyranny and terror... What is King going to do?

In terms of being under cover as a minor criminal I had imagined/ hoped that through the use of bluff and diplomacy, they could convince/ lie to their gang members so as to not actually do any crime...
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sleyvas
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  12:38:41  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In older editions, I would say this is more muddy and that Ayrik has a good point. Now, with 5e, I would say "which oath did he take?". For example, the oath of the ancients "emphasizes the principles of good above any concerns of law or chaos". So, I'd say a paladin of Lathander who has taken the oath of the ancients might employ spies in the name of the greater good. Meanwhile the oath of devotion "binds a paladin to the loftiest ideals of justice, virtue, and order. Sometimes called cavaliers, white knights, or holy warriors, these paladins meet the idea of the knight in shining armor, acting with honor in pursuit of justice and the greater good".

And for those who might say that the oath of the ancients wouldn't apply to Lathander, this oath is the one that actually most talks about being a light in the darkness, etc..

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 22 Sep 2017 12:41:05
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Bladewind
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  12:50:08  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think a Lathanderite paladin would try this, but those criminal covers in the Xanathar thieves guild and Westgate are likely to slip up and get themselves killed quickly if they try and don't act the part through. I think the Lathanderite would have to have great confidence in his spies, so only the best of them could pull this off without the paladin having to atone later.

I think the risk of death of a single very expensive agent is one paladins of Lathander or Torm would be willing to make and would depend on the threat of the enemy, the wealth of the order, the character of the paladin, the amount of security they can give to the agent through blessings and the expected results of uncovering the information. A paladin of Tyr or Helm would be more hesitant to go to this length, being members of paladin-orders known for more planning and less of risk taking.

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Ayrik
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Posted - 22 Sep 2017 :  20:13:18  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Actually the lore describes the Order of the Aster, namely the paladins, as being more conservative and concerned with the way things are (or should be) done than the clerics. So more inclined to adhere to proven wisdom than in more rarified and sophisticated notions.

Probably because the paladin doesn't dedicate his life towards roaming the temple floor and passively contemplating Lathander's glory. He's "on the field", getting his hands bloody, bringing the fight and the faith outside the temple, actively confronting evil on its own ground. Which might explain why the Order has a tendency to stick to the basics, keep it simple and straightforward, use what already works. Physical exercises - including stomping through the muck, enduring cold soggy rations on cold soggy days, hauling around a pile of heavy metal - are far more immediate and visceral to the paladin's experience than mental exercises involving deep contemplation of ideals and abstractions.

[/Ayrik]
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Bladewind
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Netherlands
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Posted - 23 Sep 2017 :  14:40:31  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Aye, the paladin order of Lathander seem to be described as more conservative then the clergy, so the reaction of the higher echelon of the Order of the Aster must be considered as well.

Among all spies, even honorbound spymasters for kings, its acknowledged that sometimes its best to withhold information for the higher ups if that ensures the long time operative can continue his deadly cloak and dagger work. So the Order of the Asters popular view on intelligence gathering could be that spies are inherently untrustworthy. Especially considered the best spies in the business are well traveled freelancers that have been employed by the Zhentarim or Shadow Thieves in the past, and the constraints the Order of the Aster ideally want to lay on their spies lead them to needing the best of the elite in the intelligence business.

So considering the PC paladin goes through with setting up the 'royal court' as a professional kings spy agency. The higherup conservative paladin-marshalls might decide the popular image of the order risks damage if the public gets wind of the newly setup spy agency filled with professional spies and word gets out the virtuous members of the Order of the Aster are associated with (ex-)agents of the Zhentarim. In the worst case scenario they could react by having most ex-zhents and other problematic covert operatives captured and thrown in a dark dungeon, prying away their zhentilar secrets at their leisure while denying access to the agent until the king paladin publicly atones. It woud be an imperative for them them to show the king paladin where and why the agent 'failed' the order, and explain that the ways of the cloak and dagger inevitably lead to the loss of the lustrous reputation of the Order of the Aster.

It's more likely they will approve of the paladin-kings spy network if it would focus their efforts on counter-intelligence, rooting out the work of enemy shadowy spies that invariably operate within the kings territories. A great deal of intelligence can be gathered if captured spies are privvy to the secrets of rival spy agencies.

They'd probably want to limit spy work abroad to work by openly sending native agents (informant commoners of the enemy realms) and inside agents ('enlightened' nobles, merchants and experts who work inside their government) to enemy realms if its deemed safe enough. The constrained native agents abroad will have to rely on a secure messenger system and a painstakingly slow process of analyzing all the information could give the Royal Court a clue or two about local productivity, military strength and people dispositions. The insiders might uncover individual nobles or clans' positions on policy, who owes who money and would relay that information in casual 'spy cant' correspondence to the King Paladin.

The very real risk is that the spy game is dominated by cheating magic (such as scrying and divination counter magcics), and the evil wizards of the Zhentarim and the wiles of thieves guilds have so perfected their fields that I don't think sleeper agents sent by anything less then the best and richest spy agencies are a viable option. Agents without expensive training and magical wards will simply be caught and used against you.

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