Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Paladin (Part 5C): Paladin and the OSRIC



Let it be known that I do take requests. Initially I was going to do a review of the six Player’s Handbooks that I did in parts 5A and 5B, and leave it at that. However, I have been asked to review the Paladin in the OSRIC, and I am more than happy to squeeze it in. With this review, I think I have covered the major publications of the game.

To back up for a moment, let me say that the OSRIC is the retro clone of 1st ed AD&D. It was published under the OGL 1.0a, in attempt to keep the old rules alive and to provide a method of updating the rule set with clarifications and incorporating errata as appropriate. In any review of the first edition rule set and the OSRIC, I would expect the rules to be almost identical to each other. So, without further delay, let’s get into the details.

In v2.0 of the OSRIC, there are two opening paragraphs of fluff. As I am only reviewing the OSRIC in this blog, I will reprint them below:

A paladin is a holy warrior sworn to be and always to remain Lawful Good. If this vow is ever breached, the paladin must atone and perform penance to be decided by a powerful NPC cleric of the same alignment—unless the breach was intentional, in which case the paladin instantly loses his or her enhanced status as a paladin and may never regain it. Such a “fallen paladin” is in all respects a fighter, with no special powers, for the remainder of his or her career.

The Paladin class in OSRIC superficially resembles such legendary warriors as Sir Galahad or Sir Gawaine of the Arthurian cycle, but is more closely similar to characters described in the works of Poul Anderson. His Three Hearts and Three Lions is particularly highly recommended.


On first look, this is very similar to what is in the 1st ed AD&D rules. The first paragraph is almost identical to what is in the original rules. The wording is changed around a little, but the content is the same. They both reference lawful good, penance and the idea that the paladins could lose their powers, which would be irrevocable. It is interesting that the original states that no magic may restore their paladinhood, while the OSRIC does not explicitly state that. I am wondering if the authors did that deliberately to leave to door open to powerful magic (and I am specifically thinking of a wish spell). I suspect that they wanted to leave some wiggle room for the GM to consider this possibility.

It is the second paragraph that I find the most interesting in this write up. While Gary was clearly thinking of the older myths of Roland and Arthur, he did not come out and state that in the text. He hinted at them, and provided just enough to give us an idea of what he was thinking about. In the OSRIC, they specifically state that the class is intended to resemble Sir Galahad, Sir Gawain and the book Three Hearts and Three Lions. I think the addition of this second paragraph was a very nice touch, and augments the original write up. With this in mind, it can be said with confidence that the OSRIC meant to follow the spirit of the original write up, and I think it accomplishes this in fine fashion.

The rest of the write up in the OSRIC is almost identical to the original. The OSRIC lists out the restrictions of the class as they were laid out in the first edition. An individual word or two may be different, but basically it is the same information.

I think I have shown that as D&D has moved from the first edition of the rule set, we find the paladin class starts to deviate from this definition. By the time we get to 4th edition, the rule set is very different, and the noble ideals that went into the original text are long gone. It has been said that the strength of Gary’s write ups were the reading materials that he included in the DMG. In the later versions this disappears, and the rule set becomes more generic, which waters down the original flavor of the game. I think the paladin write ups is just one example of this.

Next up – Application of the Code of Chivalry in play.
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Paladin Series Summary For ease of reading, I will provide the links to all the blogs in the series:

2 comments:

Chgowiz said...

Thanks! Not having ready access to 1E rules, I was curious what you would think of the differences between it and OSRIC.

On a sidenote - I'm very curious what the resurgence/interest in the older pulp fiction/D&D influences has on book sales and use of manybooks.net. I know that I want to go get a copy of Three Hearts and Three Lions now - older fiction has always found a soft spot in my heart. I guess its what I grew up with.

Mr Baron said...

I would be interested in that as well. I know that I am reading a lot more older books, especially the material published by Paizo in their Planet series line, and I have a couple of Howard's books that I will be reading in the upcoming months. I am continually impressed with the reading knowledge/background that some of the bloggers have, and how they apply it to their daily blogs. Simply amazing.

As a side note, regardless of how many fantasy, S&S, and Sci Fi we read, it pales in comparision to sales of romanace books, something to the tune of 5 to 1.