[RP Guide] So You Want To Play A Paladin

85 Human Paladin
Reposted from sistersofelune.org. NOTE: some of this information may not be updated for Cataclysm.


1. The Basics
2. Races
3. Orders
4. Archetypes
5. Laconic Guide (TL,DR!)

The Basics
What's a paladin? In short, a member of a knightly order which combines knowledge of how to call upon the Light and martial capability. That's the fundamental thing all paladins are going to have in common; if your character doesn't know how to fight, then you have a priest, not a paladin, and if your character never uses the Light, he's a warrior, not a paladin. All paladins are going to have a mixture of soldierly training and academic study under their belts. (There's a reason the paladin Relic is a book!)

Past that, things are actually pretty diverse. One of the best things about Warcraft paladins is the range of things you can do with them; the archetype isn't nearly as restricted as it is in some settings. In this guide, we'll cover some of the things you'll need to know about paladins in order to competantly play one, including how the various races feel about their paladins, the orders that give Warcraft paladins their distinctive flavor, and some suggestions for archetypes.

Naturally, you should take what you like from this and play with it; the archetypes I describe here are just that, archetypes.

The Light
All paladins have an inextricable connection with the Light; no Light, no paladin. We'll get into how individual paladins and orders might view their relationship with the Light in a moment, but first, let's get up to speed on what the Light is, generally speaking.

The Light is an energy source in the Warcraft Universe, along with other sources such as the Arcane, the Fel, and the Elements. The thing it does best is healing; of the other power sources, the only one that seems to come close is the rejuvenating power of Nature itself. The Light can be used offensively, but in comparison to other schools of magic, it has shortcomings: either you need to channel it through a weapon (essentially using the Light to bolster your own physical skills) in the way Retribution paladins do, it only works to the fullest against specific sorts of "unholy" foes (spells like Exorcism and Turn Evil), or it simply isn't as powerful as other schools (which is why DPS priests spec shadow. ) So in your RP, when you're thinking of things the Light can do, just remember that primarily it's a defensive and healing energy; you probably aren't going to incinerate someone with a ball of Light unless they're a demon or something.

Paladins tend to put a lot of philosophical baggage of one sort or another on the Light; whether that stuff is actually intrinsic to the energy is an open question, because we see a lot of people using the Light who don't follow the Three Virtues that the Church of Holy Light subscribes to at all. As best as we can tell, the Light only works for people who believe it should work for them. Whether that's a religious conviction or a conviction that it's "just energy that can be mastered by anyone," you have to actively believe you deserve to wield the Light to use it. In that sense, you can "fall" as a paladin in Warcraft, but only if you believe you truly don't deserve the power any longer.

We also know that the Light is specifically harmful against undead and demons, as mentioned above. It can be used to heal them, but the energy is so antithetical to these creatures that even healing feels like an incredible pain.
Edited by Aldheim on 11/28/2010 1:17 PM PST
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85 Human Paladin

We'll start with humans, because they were the first paladins introduced in the series, and are also the most prolific. Human members of the Church of Holy Light decided there was a need for martial priests after their dress-wearing holy men were decimated by orcs in the First War. The Order of the Silver Hand was founded around the time of the Second War; as a result, humans have only had paladins for a few decades, well within living memory. Humans have also been responsible for most of the new paladin orders founded in the aftermath of the Silver Hand's dissolution, most notably the Scarlet Crusade and the Argent Dawn.

Humans, for the most part, look to paladins as the shining example of everything great in their race: protectors of the innocent, vanquishers of evil, knights in (literally) shining armor. However, paladins are not completely free of controversy, since many paladins (even heroic ones) promote ideas much of human society simply isn't comfortable with yet, and some (again, even heroes!) are heretics in one way or another. Many humans also recognize that much of the evil in the world today can be traced to paladins: after all, Arthas Menethil was a paladin, and he burned his own kingdom to ashes. The murderous Scarlet zealots also include many paladins, though to be fair, it's unclear just how much the average Stormwinder knows about them.

Dwarven paladins are relatively recent. Unlike the other races, they share their order with humans; they are also Knights of the Silver Hand, to whatever degree that term is still meaningful. However, dwarves have only been widely welcomed into the order since the Third War. (Some dwarven paladins were accepted farther back, but they were very rare.) As a result, dwarven society has had paladins for only a short while, especially considering dwarves' long lifespans. There are dwarven members of the Argent Dawn, but for obvious reasons, none in the Scarlet Crusade.

Dwarves in general seem to be less religious than their human brethren, and recently interest in the Titans has led to the culture placing a bit less emphasis on the Light than before. Dwarves undoubtedly respect their paladins, but the profession doesn't have quite the racial baggage (of both pride and regret) that humans put on it.

High Elves
High elves are the rarest paladins, both because there simply aren't many high elves left (not enough to justify being a playable race, even) and because the Quel'dorei, in general, have stronger ties to the Arcane than the Light. However, there were a number of devout high elf paladins and priests in the Silver Hand, and they still exist today -- most notably as allies of the Argent Crusade in Icecrown. Their history with the order follows a similar timeline as the dwarves.

The draenei are a radical divergence from the rest of the paladin races. For every other race, paladins are a new thing -- Uther the Lightbringer only assumed the mantle a few decades before the Third War, and he was the first paladin the world had ever seen. By contrast, draenei have had paladins, which they call Vindicators, in their racial order, the Hand of Argus, for millenia. The naaru taught the draenei about the Light during their thousand year flight from Argus, their homeworld, and the vindicators are an intrinsic part of the draenei society.

This actually puts draenei paladins in a different societal position than their human and dwarven cousins. The Hand of Argus functions somewhat like the Exodar's police and security force; while Azerothan paladins are exceptional, draenei paladins are closer to normal members of society. While still heroic, one expects a draenei relates to a vindicator more like we would relate to a respected police officer than an awe-inspiring champion. Draenei simply have had paladins embedded in their culture too long for that kind of novelty (which might make vindicators feel odd when they see humans gasping at them and believing them to be superheroes.)
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85 Human Paladin

Blood Elves
Blood elves, for the most part, are not religious in the same way their Alliance cousins are. Blood elf paladins do not represent a line of continuity from the high elf Knights of the Silver Hand; indeed, blood elves prefer the title Blood Knight to "paladin" as a mark of distinction. Originally, blood knights were meant to be empowered warriors, using the energy of the Naaru M'uru to fuel their race's strength. Although some blood elves have changed their minds in the aftermath of the Sunwell Plateau incident (more on that in the Orders section) and have become more inclined to agree with the philosophy of the Alliance paladins, most still see being a blood knight as an irreligious position, no more "holy" or "unholy" than being a mage. It's a tool, and a damned useful one, especially considering the effectiveness with which paladins can fight the undead that destroyed Silvermoon in the first place.

The blood elf race is rather split about its blood knights. It seems a majority of the race feels quite proud of them, and believe they represent the kind of strength that will lead Silvermoon to power and prosperity after the devastation of the Third War. Others think the Blood Knights are arrogant, amoral, and will lead Silvermoon down a dark path (a position most notably held by the Farstriders.) It's hard to say how the Sunwell incident has affected all of this, since Silvermoon is still basically showing the world during the Sunwell events; one imagines, though, that since the order's leader seems to have accepted a more "moral" path, that the opinion has probably shifted in the blood knights' favor.

TAUREN SECTION SOON COME. I haven't had a chance yet to roll one and play through some things.
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85 Human Paladin
One rule for paladins: they all, no matter what race, have ties to some particular order. This is one of the basics of paladin lore in Warcraft; there aren't any "self-made" paladins. On the one hand, this is a little restrictive, because you will need to work within the boundaries of these organizations, but it's also really handy to be able to play off the lore built in to the class. In any case, none of the orders are so restrictive as to force you into any particular role -- paladins of all races are more or less independent agents.

Order of the Silver Hand
Races: Humans, dwarves, high elves
Title: Knight of the Silver Hand
Notable Members: Uther the Lightbringer, Arthas Menethil, Bolvar Fordragon, Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker

The original Azerothian order, and the one that every other order either pays homage to or is reacting against, the Order of the Silver Hand was founded near the beginning of the Second War by the human priest Alonsus Faol. Although Faol never became a paladin himself, he ordained the first Knight of the Silver Hand, Uther (later dubbed "the Lightbringer") to serve as a beacon for Alliance forces in the war against the orcs. Although Faol was himself from Elwynn Forest, it appears that the Knights of the Silver Hand were under the aegis of the kingdom of Lordaeron, and after the war functioned as a knightly order in service to King Terenas Menethil.

The Silver Hand was officially disbanded at the beginning of the Third War by Prince Arthas Menethil, who declared the order's refusal to aid in the Culling of Stratholme an act of treason. Throughout the Third War, paladins were active in the various theaters of battle, but presumably as individual agents of the Church or as members of the Alliance military; the Order itself did not exist. At this point, it appears that the term "Knight of the Silver Hand" remained as a title given to paladins, but merely as a description rather than denoting an actual position within the brotherhood. The fracturing of the Silver Hand led to several other orders of note such as the Argent Dawn and the Scarlet Crusade.

Does the Order currently exist? Things are a little hazy on this account. Human and dwarven paladins are referred to as Knights of the Silver Hand in introductory quests, so the term has currency, but it does not appear that the order exists as a true organizational body with a leader, an hierarchy, and so forth (but see the Argent Dawn entry, below.) One possibility is that the Silver Hand has simply been folded into the heirarchy of the Church of Holy Light, which makes sense given the placement of human paladin trainers. If this is the case, it reinforces the paladins' role as religious figures and divorces them from official ties to the Alliance government. The most senior paladin within the Church of Holy Light is Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker, and is the closest the order has to a "leader."

The Silver Hand was a purely human institution for most of its history, with only a rare few dwarven and elven paladins. Perhaps the only good thing about the splintering of the order was its newfound respect for other races; other Alliance races are much more likely to be Knights of the Silver Hand now than before.

As representatives of the Church of the Holy Light, Silver Hand paladins are expected to act in accordance with the Three Virtues of Respect, Tenacity, and Compassion, and to come to the aid of the church when called upon. They see the Light as a divine gift, proof the interconnectedness of all beings that is the core of the Holy Light religion. Silver Hand paladins are likely to be more conservative than other orders, though; there is still a strong contingent within the Church that believes in human superiority, for example, and that the order's famous altruism should be reserved for the devout.

Finally: we only recently found out an explanation for the Silver Hand's name. It appears that it's derived from the appearance of a great guardian named Tyr (probably Watcher Tyr from Ulduar), who sacrificed his hand to protect the world and had it replaced with a silver fist. The traditional Light stronghold (and now Scarlet Crusade territory) of Tyr's Hand was also named for Tyr's silver fist.
Edited by Aldheim on 11/28/2010 12:57 PM PST
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85 Human Paladin
Order of the Blood Knights
Race: Blood elves
Title: Blood Knight
Notable Members: Lady Liadrin, Lord Solonar Bloodwrath, Mehlar Dawnblade

The Blood Knights were founded sometime after the Third War, in the aftermath of the destruction of the high elf nation of Quel'thalas by the Scourge and the subsequent transformation of the race into the blood elves (the "blood" here being the shed blood of their fallen compatriots.) The high elves had, on the whole, never been quite as pious as the humans of Lordaeron, and the destruction of their homeland (by a fallen Knight of the Silver Hand, no less) understably shook the faith of many. Subsequent betrayals by the human commander Garithos only further undermined the ability of the elves to believe in the providence of the Light, and most of the elven clergy and paladins turned away from the Light. However, when Kael'thas Sunstrider came to Outland and invaded the draenei citadel of Tempest Keep, he found and subdued a powerful being with connection to the Light -- the naaru M'uru, whom he sent to Silvermoon for study. In a dark mirror to the priest Alonsus Faol ordaining Uther the Lightbringer as the first Knight of the Silver Hand, the magister Astalor Bloodsworn devised a way to transfer the naaru's powers of the Light into a former elvish priestess, Liadrin -- and thus the first Blood Knight was created.

The blood knights followed a dramatically different code and methodology than the Knights of the Silver Hand. Where the Silver Hand saw their gifts as rewards for their religious devotion to the Light, the blood elves saw it as power to be taken by force, and saw no obligation to a code of altruism. They would use the Light in service to their race and to themselves alone. They were fully aware of the fact that their powers were being sapped from a living being trapped beneath their city and felt no remorse for the act.

However, things caught up to the Blood Knights. Eventually it became clear that Kael'thas Sunstrider had gone mad due to influence from the Burning Legion and had essentially sold his race out to the demon lord Kil'jaeden. Kael'thas returned to Silvermoon and abducted M'uru from the magisters who held him confined -- thus depriving the Blood Knights of their power source. Desperate for another connection to the Light in order to defeat Kael'thas, Liadrin ventured to Shattrath City to speak with the naaru A'dal. In that conversation, she discovered that entire thing had been a set-up: a long gambit by M'uru to fulfill a prophecy made by Velen, the ruler of the draenei. A'dal agreed to aid Liadrin (presumably allowing the Blood Knights to use his own energy, though this point is not really made clear) in their assault on the Sunwell Plateau. Following the banishment of Kil'jaeden and the cleansing of the Sunwell, Liadrin watched as the prophet Velen restored power to the Sunwell via the spark of M'uru, giving the Blood Knights a more permanent connection to the Light.

As of the Sunwell Plateau's conclusion, it seems that the Blood Elves might be moving closer to the philosophy of the Knights of the Silver Hand (or, maybe more accurately, the Hand of Argus) than they were before: Liadrin expressed sincere remorse for their treatment of M'uru and gratitude for the naaru's willingness to let the blood elves redeem themselves. Thus, the Blood Knights are likely caught in the middle of a severe cultural crisis, as some prefer to maintain their previous amoral stance and some move towards worship of the Light as true paladins.

Unlike the Knights of the Silver Hand, the Blood Knights do have a heirarchy with named ranks and a chain of command; if you are a Blood Knight, you will be expected to know your place in that heirarchy and to obey the commands of your superiors (and in traditional blood elf style, to demand respect from your inferiors.) Players progress through the ranks as they level in-game; it's probably bad form to represent your Blood Knight as a higher rank than she could have attained according to the quests. (Feel free to portray yourself as something lower, though, if that fits your character.) The ranks are: Initiate (level 12), Adept (after completing the Blood Tempered Ranseur), Knight (after learning to summon the warhorse [now Charger] at level 40), and Master (after completing True Masters of the Light after level 60.) We've also seen ranks of Champion, Knight-lord, and Matriarch; you might be able to use Champion or Knight-lord with some justification, but Matriarch belongs exclusively to Liadran.
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85 Human Paladin
The Hand of Argus
Race: Draenei
Title: Vindicator
Notable Members: Vindicators Boros, Kuros, and Aesom (the Triumverate)

(Note: Although player character draenei of any class can complete the quests to join the Hand of Argus, it appears that all NPC members are paladins, and they fulfill the same function the Knights of the Silver Hand do for the rest of the Alliance.)

The Hand of Argus serves as the order of draenei paladins, also known as Vindicators. Unlike the other major racial orders, the Hand of Argus's history stretches back (presumably) many centuries, being created as a result of the draenei's tutelage in the ways of the Light by the naaru. Since the Light is so ingrained into the draenei culture, these Vindicators are a more established part of the draenei society than the Knights of the Silverhand or the Blood Knights are; it appears that the Hand of Argus functions as sort of a security force.

We do not have as much detail in the history of the Hand of Argus as we do for the other orders. We know that Vindicators were leaders in the defense of Shattrath City against the forces of the Horde before the First War, and that most of the Vindicators were killed or mutated alongside the rest of the draenei in that slaughter. (The founder of draenei shamanism, Nobuundo, was once a Vindicator, before he became a Broken and lost his connection the Light.) The order managed to survive that great purging and evidently made up many of the draenei who invaded and reclaimed the Exodar from Kael'thas's blood elves, as the Hand continues to be the Exodar's guardian force. Their primary base of operations seems to be Bloodmyst Isle, where the leaders of the Hand of Argus -- three Vindicators known as the Triumervate -- make their base of operations at Blood Watch.

Vindicators are supposedly more martially oriented than paladins of other races (which makes sense, if they have a stronger inclination toward the protection of their people.) That's not to say that draenei paladins do not have powerful magical skills, but perhaps it is a reflection of the greater presence of the Light in their culture as a whole. While human and dwarven paladins are exceptionally faithful, draenei vindicators are simply more martial expressions of the devotion most draenei feel. (It should be noted that this note of the vindicators being more martially inclined comes from WoWWiki but does not cite a source for it, so take it with as many grains of salt as you like.)

Similar to the tenets of the Knights of the Silver Hand, the Hand of Argus has a codified set of expectations for its Vindicators: "A Hand of Argus is many things: Obedient, brave, intelligent, and above all, honorable," as stated by Kessel on Bloodmyst Isle.

Titles used by the Hand of Argus seem to include the following: Vindicator; Defender; Knight-defender; at least one Interrogator; and Exarch. Exarch appears to be reserved by draenei of high standing, so you should probably not use it without some heavy justification.

On the name: "Argus," of course, is the draenei homeworld, so the "Hand of Argus" is a metaphor for the order's role in doing deeds in the name of the draenei. The fact that "argus" is reminiscent of "argent," or silver, must strike many Alliance paladins as significant, as it would appear the draenei also follow a "silver hand."
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85 Human Paladin
The Scarlet Crusade / The Scarlet Onslaught
Race: Human
Title: Crusader
Notable Members: Highlord Alexandros Mograine <The Ashbringer>, Grand Crusader Saiden Dathoran, High General Abbendis, Highlord Taelen Fordring, Grand Admiral Barean Westwind, many others.

NOTE: As this is primarily an antagonist faction, most of the Notable Members die at the hands of players over the course of World of Warcraft.

The Scarlet Crusade was founded with a simple and noble mission: reclaim Lordaeron for humanity, and destroy every last Scourge that dared to walk that hallowed ground. Composed mainly of remnants of the splintered Order of the Silver Hand, the Scarlet Crusade was originally the only organization capable of providing order in Lordaeron in the aftermath of Arthas's invasion -- and remarkably, they managed to hold four major strongholds in the ruined country against truly incredible odds. The Scarlet Monastery, Tyr's Hand, Hearthglen, and a large section of Stratholme remained in control of the living, thanks to the tenacity and sacrifice of Scarlet Crusaders.

Unfortunately, the Scarlet Crusade is all too clearly an example of how good intentions can lead to greater evil.

The Scarlet Crusade eventually became consumed by xenophobia and zealotry. Their leadership endorsed a hardline view of traditional, human-centric Light worship that progressed past the usual thought of "each race should mind its own business" and into full-on "no race can be trusted but humans" very quickly; as a result, there are no non-human Scarlet Crusaders. More damningly, the Crusade became so fearful of intrusion by the Scourge (and later the Forsaken) that they began to suspect anybody not already a part of the Crusade to actually be a tool of the undead, perhaps a corpse freshly risen. Their response was to kill first and ask questions later, just in case. The depths of the Crusade's corruption took a long time to truly uncover, at least for the Alliance (the Forsaken knew all too well how crazed they were from the start.) Even now, Brother Crowley still sits in the basement of Stormwind Cathedral directing people to serve the Scarlet Crusade.

That said, the glory days of the Scarlet Crusade seem to have ended. Adventurers stormed the Scarlet Monastery and killed much of the leadership there; the order's Highlord, Talean Fordring, was killed by another one of the senior leaders, Isillien (who was then killed by Talean's father Tirion.) Grand Crusader Dathoran, the leader of the order, was eventually revealed to be the demon Balnazzar. Finally, most of the Crusade was crushed by the Scourge's Death Knights. The only survivors were a contingent that renamed themselves the Scarlet Onslaught; this group survived by sailing to Northrend to attack the Lich King independantly of the Horde or Alliance. They were led by High General Brigitte Abbendis and a previously-thought-dead hero of the Crusade, Admiral Barean Westwind; Abbendis was killed by adventurers, and Westwind was eventually revealed to be another demon in disguise, the dreadlord Mal'Ganis. By the time of Mal'Ganis's defeat and retreat to the Twisting Nether, the Onslaught had become so corrupt that it forgot its original mission of destroying evil altogether, allowing demonic warlocks and death knights into its ranks. The Crusade still exists in pockets, but it's a shadow of its former self now.

The Scarlet Crusade can be an interesting choice for a player character, but it's challenging in many ways. For one, an "out" Scarlet Crusader is going to be viewed as an enemy by virtually everybody. This puts you in a position of playing a paladin -- normally a heroic archetype -- as an antagonist. Some servers have had very strong Scarlet characters and guilds, and as an antagonist group, it can lead to dynamic roleplaying opportunities. You will have to learn to live with not being liked, though!

Remember that the Scarlets are wildly xenophobic and fearful that anybody could be an undead. They have mostly forgotten the Three Virtues and instead endorse a philosophy that promotes the destruction of "evil" (that is, anything that isn't a Scarlet Crusader) at any cost. However, we have seen that the Scarlets have -- at least in the past -- been occasionally willing to make alliances for the greater good, as with the Argent Dawn at Light's Hope Chapel. Playing with that sort of mindset, you might be able to make a character that is an antihero rather than a villain.
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85 Human Paladin
Argent Dawn/Argent Crusade
Race: Any, though mostly human
Title: Crusader
Notable Members: Highlord Tirion Fordring, Eadric the Pure, Argent Confessor Paletress, Eligor Dawnbringer, Lord Maxwell Tyrosus

The Argent Dawn was originally a breakaway group from the Scarlet Crusade, in the aftermath of the death of Alexandros Mograine, the Ashbringer. Realizing the corruption and madness of the Scarlets, the Argent Dawn devoted itself to fighting evil across Azeroth but with honor and generosity that their fellows had lost. Since then agents of the Argent Dawn have been active in most of the fields of battle throughout Azeroth. They maintain bases in Darnassus and Stormwind, but their primary operations have been at Light's Hope Chapel in the Plaguelands, where they guard the bodies of many of the Light's greatest heroes.

The Argent Dawn has always been relatively small; never able to stand against the Scourge, the Legion, or the Scarlets on a numerical basis, the Argent Dawn cultivated a mobile style of warfare based around strategic skirmishes. They also advocate methodical research of their foes, meaning that Argent Dawn paladins frequently play into a "monster-hunter" sort of style more than others do. This has also led them to develop new ways of using the Light in order to combat their foes, a practice which draws scorn from more traditional elements.

The Scourge has always highly desired the bodies of the heroes beneath Light's Hope Chapel, and has mounted several tremendous assaults against the Argent Dawn stationed there. The first assault was stopped only by the actions of a young Darion Mograine, who impaled himself on his father's sword, the Ashbringer, in order to rouse the ghosts of the dead heroes in order to drive off the undead. The second assault, led by Darion himself as one of the Lich King's death knights, was stopped when Darion was able to shake off the Lich King's control and turn his father's sword over to the Argent Dawn, allowing them to stand against the Lich King. Light's Hope will likely always remain a pivotal base for the Argents, no matter what, for this reason.

The largest change in the Argent Dawn's recent history was when Tirion Fordring, the last of the great paladins still remaining from the early days of the Order of the Silver Hand, returned from exile and assumed leadership. (Previously the Argent Dawn had no clear leader, as each branch operated as its own independent cell; the closest thing to a leader would probably be Lord Maxwell Tyrosus, the overseer of Light's Hope Chapel.) Laying claim to the legacy of the Silver Hand, Fordring dedicated the Argents to put an end to the reign of the Lich King. Tirion himself became the wielder of the legendary Ashbringer, now a powerful symbol for the Argent cause.

During the campaign in Northrend, the Argent Crusade has been on the forefront, serving as an elite group in cooperation with both the Alliance and the Horde. They have major presences in Zul'drak, the Dragonblight, and in Icecrown, where they were the first group to make any kind of headway in claiming territory. When it became clear that the Alliance and Horde's military strategy would be ineffective against the Scourge, who would always have a larger army -- and one that would get larger with every soldier killed -- the Argent Crusade reprised its Plaguelands-era skirmish tactics to defeat the Lich King.

There are a few things to keep in mind about playing with this faction, though. The Argents are apolitical; they support both the Alliance and the Horde insofar as those bodies support the Argents. (That said, since the Knights of the Silver Hand are an Alliance organization and the Argents lay claim to that legacy, they favor the Alliance a bit.) Secondly, the Argents are a bit radical in their beliefs when compared to the rest of the Light-worshipper paladins; they seem to be willing to call a number of paths "legitimate" connections to the Light that most would disagree with. Finally, the Argents are not the kind of people who undertake seige warfare or massive army tactics; they move in, strike at targets, and get out. The bases they keep are mostly for strategic importance, and with the exception of Light's Hope, they would probably be willing to abandon them rather than be wiped out while defending.

The Argents maintain connections with all of the other orders, even the Blood Knights. They once had ties with the Scarlet Crusade, even. They also have strong alliances with the Knights of the Ebon Blade, the Silver Covenant, the Sunreavers, and the Kirin Tor. The Argent Dawn at Light’s Hope also has a sect known as the Brotherhood of the Light, which was less scholarly and more warlike than the rest of the Argent Dawn.
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85 Human Paladin
The Sha’tar / The Aldor / The Shattered Sun Offensive
Title: None that I'm aware of, though they award the "of the Shattered Sun" title, and were the ones who gave out "Hand of A'dal" and "Champion of the Naaru." "Sunbreaker," though unsupported in-game, also makes sense.
Races: Any, but predominantly draenei and blood elf
Prominent Members: Lady Liadrin, Harbinger Inuuro, High Exarch Commodus, Ayden the Lightwarden, High Priestess Ishanah

These three organizations are, as the end of the Burning Crusade, essentially one unified group (along with the Scryers), so I address them as such for the sake of convenience. These groups, based in Shattrath City in Outland, represented the focal point of the war efforts against the Burning Legion and the Illidari. They have a number of bases throughout Outland and Azeroth, with their headquarters at Aldor Rise in Shattrath, the Altar of Sha'tar in Shadowmoon Valley, and of course, the Isle of Quel'Danas.

The Aldor are an ancient order of draenei priests, and the original founders of Shattrath City. They served the Light and their people for centuries during the sojourn on Draenor. Unfortunately, the Aldor were largely destroyed by the Horde in the time prior to the First War, and Shattrath City itself was lost. The Aldor found their salvation in the group of naaru known as the Sha'tar, led by one known as A'dal. A'dal's forces retook Shattrath and the Aldor restored their temple there -- just in time for blood elves in the employ of Illidan Stormrage to attack. As they draenei prepared for battle, the blood elves threw down their arms and declared their desire to join forces with A'dal against the madness of Illidan. These elves, known thereafter as the Scyers, became rivals to the Aldor, but together they aided in the struggle alongside the Sha'tar.

When Kael'thas Sunstrider's plan to summon Kil'jaeden into Azeroth became known, the Sha'tar, Aldor, and Scryers banded together into a unified army known as the Shattered Sun Offensive. The SSO retook the Isle of Quel'Danas and were insturmental in supporting the Alliance and Horde's defeat of Kil'jaeden and purification of the Sunwell. Since then, these groups have participated in the recovery efforts in Outland and on Quel'danas; one expects they are a vital mediatior between the high elves and blood elves.

The Sha'tar and its associated groups provide a number of interesting hooks for a roleplayer. If you like the Naaru, this is the organization with the closest ties to them, and so it's a natural fit. For a draenei, it also provides a more mystical background for your character than the "security force" model of the Hand of Argus. They also have some terrific RP equipment; the Shattered Sun, in particular, have a beautiful tabard and a couple of unique shield designs that can help you stand out. The organization also has a strong built-in backstory, since the entire battle for Quel'danas was an in-game event that you could have been a part of.

The major problem with this group is obvious, though: it's unlikely to see any more development unless we get another Outland expansion, meaning things are probably fixed as they currently are. If you're really keen on seeing your organization change with the rest of the game, the Sha'tar may be disappointing.
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85 Human Paladin
Reserved for the Sunwalkers.
Edited by Aldheim on 11/28/2010 1:11 PM PST
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85 Human Paladin
This is a list of some of the classic "types" that paladins often portray. If they sound a bit generic, well, that's kind of the point: they are a place to begin.

(Note: Some of these are named after real-world groups. Some of the descriptions will be historically inaccurate or perhaps unfair to those real-world entities. I know this. The names are being used in a fictional context, based on associations people usually make.)

Appropriate Talent Spec: Protection, Retribution
This is your "paladin classic," a virtuous warrior clad in shining plate that seeks out evil and protects the innocent. This is what most people think of when they think of paladins. Crusaders put a lot of stock into concepts of honor and justice, and see themselves as guardians of the weak and powerless. This kind of paladin takes up arms against evil because the Light has given her the power to do so, and she will use that power to defend those without that strength. In general, the Crusader-type is going to worry more about promoting good than destroying evil. Crusaders will also tend to be apolitical, preferring to focus on "greater threats." Tirion Fordring, especially throughout Wrath of the Lich King, is the epitome of this archetype.

Appropriate Talent Spec: Retribution
Probably the most famous subversion of the Crusader, the Inquisitor Paladin is about sin and punishment: those who have committed evil must be found and brought to justice. Though an Inquisitor is of course likely to attack traditionally "evil" opponents, he is just as likely to be concerned with the activities of his own people. To borrow some D&D terminology, this kind of paladin is more likely to serve law than good. To quote one Blizzard poster: "There is a time when pleasantries must end and justice must be done." The Scarlet Crusade as whole has a lot of this archetype in their organization, though they bleed over into Templars. The Brotherhood of the Light also seems pretty inquisitorial.

Appropriate Talent Spec: Holy
Paladins are as much priests as they are warriors, and one of the Light's greatest gifts to them is the ability to heal the wounded and cure the sick. A Hospitaller is more focused on the magical aspects of the class, and may in turn represent a more devout faith in the Light. The Hospitaller can fight with weapons, of course, but they may be more comfortable with spellcraft. Due to the nature of the Light, Hospitallers are more effective at protecting and caring for victims of evil than destroying evil themselves.

Appropriate Talent Spec: Any
Pragmatists are, by some opinions, not truly "paladins" at all -- this is the school of thought that sees the Light as just another energy force, devoid of all the philosophy and moralizing. On the one hand this casts such paladins as heretics in the eyes of many, but it also means this archetype is very open to interpretation; such a character is basically some stripe of warrior who also knows how to channel the Light. This is sort of the default interpretation of a Blood Knight. (Although not effective in a dungeon, perhaps, it could be interesting to play with this: a leather-wearing "rogue" paladin, for example.)
Edited by Aldheim on 11/28/2010 1:16 PM PST
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85 Human Paladin
Appropriate Talent Spec: Any, but most famously retribution
This is your most frequent source of villainous paladins. Templars are those paladins who become so convinced of their own righteousness that they are willing to violently oppose any other ideology -- essentially, paladins whose zeal for some good outcome allows them to justify any means. Frequently a more extreme version of the Inquisitor, a Templar is the kind of paladin who would gladly sacrifice thousands in the name of her cause. Templars also tend to become insular and xenophobic, suspicious of anyone who does not subscribe to her own narrow interpretation of justice. The Scarlet Crusade is the most famous example, but they are far from the only ones; there is a particularly memorable questline in Netherstorm about a draenei vindicator who goes down this route, for example.

Appropriate Talent Spec: Any will work, but protection is most appropriate
Justiciars are more military/political versions of Crusaders; whereas the typical Crusader is an individual champion, Justiciars work within their governmental structures and have stronger "job descriptions." The Hand of Argus, in its role as the Exodar's security force, is a good example of this kind of paladin. While many paladins are focused on combating great evils, the Justiciar sees his primary duty as defending his own people from whatever enemies threaten them. Though many have strong faith in the Light, the relationship is often more about the energy empowering the paladin than religious devotion. This is another good choice for a Blood Knight, which were founded, after all, to help restore the Blood Elves. Uther the Lightbringer, the first Knight of the Silver Hand, was actually a good example of this type.

Appropriate Talent Spec: Any
Everyone knows that while paladins are strong combatants against any number of foes, there are certain beings they fare especially well against: demons, undead, elementals, and so on. The Monster-Hunter takes that and runs with it: these kinds of paladins are specialists in hunting down specific types of foes, who they study meticulously in order to devise the best methods of attack. (Think more Van Helsing than Galahad.) The Argent Dawn, canonically, produces a lot of these sorts, since they can't rely on overwhelming force and have a propensity for developing new uses of the Light to fight evil.

((Further suggestions for archetypes welcomed!))
Edited by Aldheim on 11/28/2010 1:14 PM PST
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85 Human Paladin
For those with short attention spans.

PALADINS -- Light-Knights.
THE LIGHT -- Energy source, good at healing, fighting undead and demons. Might be the Force of All Creation, or just a handy tool.

HUMANS -- Paladins are heroic, but come with baggage.
DWARVES -- Paladins are cool, but we've only had them for a little while.
HIGH ELVES -- Paladins are rare, mainly because we're kind of rare.
DRAENEI -- Vindicators are guardians and ingrained into the culture.
BLOOD ELVES -- Blood Knights are areligious warriors for Silvermoon... Or maybe there is something to those Naaru folks after all.

ORDER OF THE SILVER HAND -- Humans, dwarves, high elves. Founded in the Second War to fight orcs. Stuck around. Arthas disbanded it, then killed most of the paladins, but maybe it's still around.
ORDER OF THE BLOOD KNIGHTS -- Blood elves. Founded after Kael'thas sent Silvermoon a pet naaru. After Kael'thas took back his naaru and tried to blow up the world, they may have had a slight change of heart.
THE HAND OF ARGUS -- Draenei. Founded a long time ago. Part of the Exodar's security force. Maybe a bit more warrior-like than priest-like. Mostly work in Azuremyst and Bloodmyst.
THE SCARLET CRUSADE -- Humans. Former Silver Handers decide to retake Lordaeron, end up xenophobic, crazy, and mostly dead. The order of Evil Paladins.
THE ARGENT DAWN -- Any. Former Scarlet Crusaders who realized their buddies had gone nuts. Tirion Fordring took over, called them the Argent Crusade, led the charge to Icecrown. The Good Guys.
THE SHA'TAR -- Any (draenei and blood elf favored.) Servants of the Naaru, dedicated to fighting against Kael'thas, Illidan, and the Burning Legion. Probably not getting any new lore, but the tabard is awesome.

CRUSADER -- I'm a stalwart champion of honor and righteousness!
INQUISITOR -- I'm a punisher of the guilty!
HOSPITALLER -- I'm a healer of the sick!
PRAGMATIST -- I use the Light because it works!
TEMPLAR -- I'm right, and I'll kill you for being wrong!
JUSTICIAR -- I'm a protector of my people against all enemies!
MONSTER-HUNTER -- I'm a guy who, uhm, fights monsters! Support your local libraries, kids, they've got all the good books about killing stuff.
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85 Human Paladin
Point of order: When did anyone who believed the light is "just energy that can be mastered by anyone," actually use it successfully off of just that notion alone?

This was essentially the point of view held by the Blood Knights before Liadrin had her "come to A'dal" moment: there's nothing intrinsically special about the Light that makes it a religious force, so we're going to use it because we can. Now, it was later established that M'uru was more or less willingly allowing them to use its power, but from the point of view of various blood elf paladins and priests, that wasn't the case for a long time, and many of them may still not fully accept it as the case. They can still use the Light, though.

Bornakk said:
Without spoiling too much, we can tell you that wielding the Light is a matter of having willpower or faith in one's own ability to do it.

So there's a blue post to go along with what I said.

I'm not sure whether there's a figure in the lore who has been confirmed to use the Light without a Naaru intervention or faith in the Light as a religious philosophy, though gnome priests seem to fit the bill. I still need to roll one and play through their starting zone to see what the deal is there.

(Forsaken who arent instantly blowing themselves up by trying to channel it come to mind.).

Well, we also got (in the same post) a little more wiggle room on the relationship of non-Scourge undead and the Light, so thankfully, you don't have to completely suspend disbelief anymore -- just most of your disbelief:

Bornakk also said:
For the undead (and Forsaken), this requires such a great deal of willpower that it is exceedingly rare, especially since it is self-destructive. When undead channel the Light, it feels (to them) as if their entire bodies are being consumed in righteous fire. Forsaken healed by the Light (whether the healer is Forsaken or not) are effectively cauterized by the effect: sure, the wound is healed, but the healing effect is cripplingly painful. Thus, Forsaken priests are beings of unwavering willpower; Forsaken (and death knight) tanks suffer nobly when they have priest and paladin healers in the group; and Sir Zeliek REALLY hates himself.

So Forsaken priests don't necessarily blow themselves up -- it causes a lot of pain, but apparently no lasting damage. Which is something, I guess. Explains how death knights can stand tanking, anyway. :-)
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80 Blood Elf Paladin
Well my paladin roleplays being a Brew Knight can not stand the Blood Knights and well it is all about the drunk!
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70 Human Paladin
A terrific guide. Thank you.
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90 Blood Elf Paladin
Just finished to read this. I must say I am very thankful and I shall put this to work when questing. A very very well written guide with some fun at the end. 10/10 my friend.
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100 Dwarf Paladin
Hey there.

Very informative. I am bookmarking this page for later reference. Also, Greetings from Cenarion Circle!
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