Paladin Class Color Guide For DnD
The life of the Paladin is one defined by its oath, a promise of the highest caliber which dictates its life's mission. It's not something to take lightly as the repercussions of this decision will echo across the Paladins every motivation. This calling is not for everyone and it takes immense dedication and resolution to follow through on. Within Dungeons and Dragons there are many paths a Paladin can take which will be formative in its design, in this video we will be crafting three Paladins using the color pie, as well as discuss the core color of the class, the color you will most often associate with the Paladin.
After all is said and done I guarantee you will be able to build more interesting characters using this system. Don't worry if you are not familiar with the color pie yet, as these articles are designed to be easy to follow along with and will leave you inspired and curious to do your own research. Now with all of that covered its time to take a knee, pick an oath and get into the colors of the Paladin.
There are many paths that a Paladin can take when building your character and yet the defining feature is its oath. I don't always like to place the sub-classes so up front in my videos but in the case of the Paladin its so core to how you build your character that it can't be ignored. I am not talking about stats or spell lists but rather the motivations which drive your character, and in the case of the Paladin the oath is at the heart of what makes your character who they, even if the oath is broken. All of this factors so heavily into your characters design that we will be placing the oath up front and making it a key feature in building your character.
So what common thread do we see across each paladin no matter the oath, well save for the oath breaker. Well that key, which will decide our core color, is that of dedication, discipline and moral absolution. The Paladin no matter what it chosen to focus on is a character who devotes its life to a cause, more so than many other classes, whereas the class in most cases is supplementary to the character it is the opposite for the Paladin. They are their cause and every action they take reflects the oath they have chosen. These key features tell us a lot about who the Paladin is and what its core color would be, a color who is also defined by these same descriptors. I know that before I even reveal what that color is I know my long time fans already have an idea in their mind, but let's not get ahead of ourselves and first look at the color chosen by Wizards of the Coast in the set adventures in the forgotten realms.
Pulling up the card we can that they have chosen White, and this is another case where I wholeheartedly agree. As I said each word used to describe the base of the Paladin describes core aspects of White. We saw White show up in our Cleric video and yet both represent different sides of the color. For the Cleric this color denotes service to a higher power, and whites proclivity to gravitate towards religion. In the case of the Paladin, it keys into ideas of strict morality, resolve, and justice. White is the color who often works in absolutes, seeing the worlds as black and white. They hold themselves and the world around them to a code of conduct, often through laws or judgment. White sees the world as a chaotic place needing saving, even if the receiving party doesn't always agree.
White is shrewd in its outlook and enacts its ideals as the literal and only law. This can lead to both truly heroic and selfless characters or that of authoritarian and oppressive ones. I believe that the Paladin can be built in both ways, even through oaths which are outwardly facing as good. This absolute mindset and devoted nature is why White matches so well with the Paladin. As on the surface it may seem like the Paladin is a simple character to build and yet as you will come to see there is a lot of nuance that can be found, and I believe the color pie will help us express this, so let's get building. To start off I want to take our core color and add in Red to see what sort of Paladin is bread from these colors influences.
An act of cruelty from another can have a lasting effect on a person. Coloring their view of the world around them, and vengeance can seem like the only outlet for such emotions. Not just vengeance on those who did them wrong, but against all who act with hate towards others. It is an act of violence against those who do wrong to the weak and judgment handed out is this characters only recourse. What I mean is that there are those are acted upon by ruthless external forces who are unable to stand up to such aggressors and the oath of vengeance paladin is there to fill in that role, by being that act of recourse for those unable to do so, placing fear in the heart of those who bring fear to others.
In the case of our White Red character they had felt the hand of an evil force mar their view of the world and vowed that such horrific actions should never go unpunished. They found that the sword, shield and divine magic were tools they could use to enact vengeance on the behalf of others, for those who could not stand up for themselves. They now see themselves as Judge Jury and executioner. This outlook and life have hardened them with an unquenchable resolve. You see a traumatic experiences at a young age can harden a person and such is the case of this version of the Paladin. It isn't some oath based on irrelevant concepts but rather an oath sworn in dark times. One which defines the characters life thereafter.
White in this regard is the expression of Judgment and Justice, justice on the behalf of others to weak to stand against the darkness of the world. The issue is that Justice is blind, and can be dished out when it is potentially not appropriate. This can add a lot of nuance to your character when playing them. In that it can effect their empathy when it comes to actions it deems as wrong, creating a character who isn't a simple do-gooder but rather an unwavering hand of retaliation. Red in this context is the anger which is bread our character and their chosen oath.
There is an rage which is inherent in vengeance whether it is justified or not, and this can mare our paladins view of the world. When we create our characters we want them to be complex and faults such as these can bread complexity and lead to moments that some Paladin role-players might be afraid to tread and yet by using the colors present their hand is forced. As you can already see the Paladin can be dynamic in its motivations when we take a look at what could lead to such oaths and how those could be played out in your campaigns. Now, let's try something a little different here and take on an oath which would lead to a Paladin who is outwardly good in many aspects of its design. To do this I want to remove Red and add in Green.
An oath can be taken not just as a way to uphold justice and to punish darkness, it can be brought forth by a love of life in all forms. Its a desire to kindle the light present in the living, to bring hope into a dark world, and to protect that life at all costs. In the case of our Green White paladin it's a love for nature and its beauty. They see signs in the faces in the flowers, the voice of god in the songs of birds and visions of a better world in the clouds. This character, one day overwhelmed by what they saw, had an epiphany, it was them who was destined to stand as a shepherd for life. It was their calling to be the one who would take a strong position against the cosmic chaos which aims to break this perfection, and it was on this day they took the oath of the ancients and set their lot in with this order of Paladins.
Taking their sword which once was no more than a lump of sharpened steel and presented it up high with purpose. If we look to the intersection between Green and White we will find ideals such as the upholding of life and tradition to be shared. White will do what it can to stand against darkness and to defend that which cannot defend itself, while Green wishes to see things grow and appreciates the beauty found in all things. This ancient oath is one which has been upheld by paladins for as far back as the first elves. The Fey or Green Knight has always stood for the land and its people and because of this tradition is a strong feature in this version of the paladin.
Once again going back to our colors we we know that tradition and the upholding of the old way are common among both of these colors. In these ways our character devotes itself almost religiously to all that is good, and in the case of this character we don't have a need to add any edgy motivation. Feel free to allow your character to be positive, happy and to bring out the best in others over themselves. For our final rendition I want to do something drastic and shed both of these colors and bring in Black, because yes White is important to the paladin and its oath but what happens when that oath is broken?
One can devote their life to something bigger than them only to become jaded by what it stands for. A just hand can see that their actions have little meaning and turn against who they once were for a path more in line with the cruel realities of the world around them. In the case of our character they fought for many years to be that hand of justice, striking down what they viewed as the evils of society, only to turn their back on what they found, as to them it was a foolish endeavor. They had the best of intentions in their youth, standing blindly against what they felt was evil and yet found their blade stained by the blood of those who didn't deserve it. This darkness built up inside of them until it changed them forever. On one such a mission, after purging a village which had grown infected by the undead they no longer believed in their mission and fell into darkness. Casting off their oath and last bit of humanity.
I think a character like this can be tricky to play as it requires utilizing accumulated trauma as a mechanism for your characters decisions, but if you are up for the challenge then there is some amazing role-playing moments you can conjure up. To get a full idea let's discuss the color that is at the heart of this character. In a rare case for our supplementary character designs I went with a mono color and one that opposes our core color. This choice was very deliberate. For one to break ones oath it would obviously put it at odds with the core color decided on earlier as it's the opposition of ideas which White and Black hold that make this character who they are.
With White being a color of collective responsibility and justice, while Black is instead the color of individualism and moral relativism. Where White places its purpose into the hands of a higher ideal, Black places its purpose solely with itself and its own desires. So in this way they shed their oath which bound them to a higher ideal, an ideal they found to be a lie and in this way cast their trust completely into their own hands. Now of course the rejection came with a steep price, they now push back fully against everything that their previous oath stood for and have become something of a villain themselves.
Now that we have built a few characters lets discuss each of the colors and how they can be used in relation to the paladin, that way you can mix and match to create your own. Remember just because we laid out some characters doesn't mean that there isn't a lot more that can be done even if you are utilizing some of the colors and oaths already mentioned. To start let's just briefly touch on White, to best accomplish this I am going to do something I have not done on this series and I will reference the alignment chart. Ah yes that thing I told you to abandon in place of the color pie, well it does have its uses and I think I can illustrate something by doing so. At the heart of every Paladin is the core alignment of Lawful, something you could hardly escape, because in many ways an oath is a law you have set to be the focus of your life.
Now of all of the colors there is one who applies to lawful the most, and that would be white. So just in the same way you would make your Paladin almost always lawful with some combination of good, neutral, or evil its the same with White. Place White at the heart of your paladin and then add colors on top of it to drive its motivation further. Speaking of other colors what about the one color missing in all of the examples so far, Blue. Blue is an odd color for the paladin and one you won't see to often, and yet it can still be present in some cases. In the case of the Blue paladin we would be talking about a more logical view of Justice rather than one based in morality. Its a logical path to a better world, something we talk about when discussing what values Blue and White share.
Then we have Black. This color often will reject an oath in that an oath to uphold the ideals of someone else goes against Blacks wish to focus on ones own needs, it can have trouble doing things for others unless they truly believe in it themselves. In another way Black can be used to add a layer of ruthlessness to a Paladin who does follow an oath and can have dire consequences, as their actions would be total and unwavering. The next color is one I could see you using pretty often for the Paladin and that is Red, as Red adds a level of fanaticism to any color it is paired with. There is something which happens to Red when it's aligned with another color, in that it takes on its pairs ideals with a level of obsession not seen anywhere else on the pie. The oath becomes more than the sum of its parts, it becomes a total identity in the presence of Red.
Finally we have Green, a color of life and tradition when in the hands of the Paladin. In a lot of ways you could take this color as the core to your paladin depending on their motivations and it would fit perfectly. The paladin of Green acts to uphold the traditions of the paladins who have come before them, as well as uphold a love of life. As you can see the paladin is a lot more complex than a simple minded do-gooder. I challenge you to build a character who doesn't fall into traditional Paladin tropes. The key to making an engaging paladin is to pick your colors up front, then take those motivations found in those colors and focus on what would lead them to take an oath and then finally pick an appropriate oath for your character based on your previous decisions. If you take this path I am confident that you will create a more interesting and engaging paladin in the process.
I hope this gave you another way to look at your Paladin, if you enjoyed this article then consider becoming a site member that way you will be notified when the next one goes live. If you want more content from me then check me out on any one of the links below. With that friend, I'll catch you in the multiverse, bye!
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