Created By: Heliomance on May 21, 2009
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Paladin In The Party

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You have a group of people working together. Their morals aren't particularly important, but they won't be paragons of virtue. They may be hardened criminals, or they may just be pragmatic and look out for themselves first. But there is another person in the group who holds themselves to a higher moral code. Again, the degree varies. For the pragmatists, this person may indeed be a paragon of virtue. For the career criminals, it's more likely to simply be someone that puts a higher value on human life. But just by their very presence, the other members of the group gradually start to tone down their immoral behaviour. Gradually, they start to act more "good". The effect may well be slow, and may well be small, but it's noticeable. Named for the effect a well-played Paladin can have on an adventuring party in D&D.

Example: Rock to the Black Lagoon Company.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • May 21, 2009
    Frodo Goofball CoTV
  • May 21, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    It was also subverted in Order Of The Stick in the form of literal Paladin In The Party Miko. She definitely had a higher standard of morality than anyone else there, including the Lawful Good Roy... unfortunately, because of how judgmental she was, and how strictly she expected others to follow her moral code, and how plain unnecessary some of the things she demanded were, she just annoyed everyone and came off as self-righteous, and didn't change anybody one bit.
  • May 21, 2009
    Earnest
    Contrast Token Evil Teammate.

    Heck, if both are in the same party (and you know authors won't want to miss the chance) there will be at least one huge display of verbal fireworks per episode, lots of almost (and actual) Lets You And Him Fights, and perhaps an eventual Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • May 21, 2009
    Acacia
    We could call it Token Good Teammate, for better contrast.
  • May 21, 2009
    Heliomance
    Nah, this is as much about the effect the character has on the group as a whole as it is about the character itself.
  • May 21, 2009
    dotchan
    We Already Have Team Mom, Team Dad, The Heart, Only Sane Man...
  • May 21, 2009
    Fanra
    Miko was never in the party. She was just an NPC who "arrested" them.
  • May 21, 2009
    blackcat
    This reminds me of The Big Man. The big man is a member of a tribe who leads by example. He may decide that it is time to engage in a specific type of behavior but rather that calling everyone together and saying 'Hey we need to do this' he just starts doing it. What ever it is.
  • May 22, 2009
    Frodo Goofball CoTV
    I think this may be The Heart.

    More examples:

    Possible Subtrope: the hero's servant is the paladin:
    • Drowtales: Kel'Noz to Quain, Vaelia to Ariel.

    Possible Subtrope: Lawful Good party, Chaotic Good paladin:
  • May 22, 2009
    Dracomicron
    Video Games
    • In many D&D games, such as Icewind Dale or Temple Of Elemental Evil, having a paladin in your party can prevent you from having normal dialogue choices, instead getting some sanctimonious bloviating that ironically prevents a peaceful resolution.
  • May 22, 2009
    Antheia
    Could The Messiah be a subtrope of this?
  • May 22, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    This is such a perfect description of Cale in Looking For Group.
  • May 22, 2009
    CountSpatula
    White Mage, and possibly Fighter in Eight Bit Theatre.
  • May 25, 2009
    Heliomance
  • May 25, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    To be honest, Rock is walking the other way, being more and more ruthless as time goes on.
  • May 26, 2009
    Arilou
    Keldorn in Baldurs Gate 2 is a literal example.
  • May 26, 2009
    Heliomance
    @UT 96: It's true, he is, but he manages to pull Revy off at least one killing spree. They seem to be meeting somewhere in the middle.
  • May 26, 2009
    Taelor
    And he's coaxed her into going out of her way to aid both Yukio and Garcia Loveless.
  • May 27, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    subverted in Firefly with Book. Kneecaps.
  • May 27, 2009
    Earnest
    I feel compelled to repeat dotchan's concerns. We already have Team Mom, Team Dad, The Heart, and Only Sane Man.

    The only difference I see here is that maybe the Paladin is a lot more pushy about everyone upholding her morality, which is sounding a lot like The Same But More.
  • May 28, 2009
    Heliomance
    It's got nothing at all to do with Team Mom and Team Dad, nor with Only Sane Man. It's similar to The Heart, but not the same. Elan, for example, does not have a positive effect on his teammates' actions and moralities. Aside from Belkar, they're all pretty nice people anyway, and associating with Elan doesn't change that. Ditto with Katara and Xander. If those characters weren't in the groups, the groups would not be particularly more morally grey.

    And the Paladin isn't pushy at all. The only one of the listed examples so far that's been pushy is Miko, and it was pointed out that that's not a straight example. The effect they have is simply by their mere presence and example. It's related to The Heart, yes, but it's not the same.
  • May 28, 2009
    LarryD
    The Order Of The Stick is where the difference between this and The Heart comes out clearly. Elan is The Heart, he's even one of the examples on that page while Roy isn't mentioned. But when Roy is having his alignment assessed in the afterlife, his association with Belkar is brought up, he justifies it exactly with this trope, and the celestial bureaucrat not only accepts this, but runs an analysis showing that Roy's influence has indeed kept Belkar from becoming far worse than he is.
  • May 30, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The thing that makes this trope unique is that the Paladin In The Party usually has an impractically strict moral code and insists as a total absolute that everyone he associates with also practices it. The impracticality is important - the Paladin is rarely the Only Sane Man, although he thinks he is.
  • June 1, 2009
    Heliomance
    No, not even close. The Paladin's moral code is not impractically strict. As noted in the OP, in a party of career criminals, the Paladin may just be someone who puts a higher value on human life. Nor do they insist that everyone else follows his code. That's Miko, who is not an example. The Paladin In The Party simply has a higher moral code than the people he associates with, and merely by being around him the other people began to act better as well.
  • June 12, 2009
    Antheia
    Party Conscience?

    Wintrow in Robin Hobb's The Liveship Traders trilogy tries hard to be this, but is mostly ridiculed (or worse) for his high moral standards. Amber manages better with her views on slavery, violence and the treatment of Paragon.

    In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, Carrot Ironfoundersson is a perfect example of the trope. He expects people to be good, and somehow they can't help but live up to his expectations.
  • July 31, 2009
    LuckyMcDowell
    This kinda reminds me of Mr Smith Goes To Washington. Jefferson Smith is pretty much the nicest, greatest guy in the world, and everyone around him sucks. But by being around him, they start to get better. The secretary, who's name escapes me, the Corrupt Senator from Smith's home state, they all basically see the light.

    Jim Gordon in most Batman comics and shows has that effect. It's acutally a running joke between This Troper and his friends that Gordon seems to purify the air around him. Look at Harvey Bullock, a Corrupt Cop that becomes basically Gordon's Lancer.
  • July 31, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I don't see how this potential trope equals Only Sane Man. There's no particular rule that says a OSM has to be a particularly upstanding person in regards to morals nor does he have to make his comrades follow a moral code either.
  • July 31, 2009
    TheAdversary

    By the way, The Order Of The Stick also subverted it by showing that Miko was in fact the only paladin in her entire order to be so stuck-up. The other paladins were nice, reasonable people that just had to follow a higher moral standard because of their job.
  • August 1, 2009
    jason taylor
    Both Simon and Book are kinda, sort of this in Firefly . Though the Bible is fuzzy about kneecaps and the Hippocratic Oath never mentions burglary-with-good-intentions. And the rest of them aren't that bad of folk as bandits go with the possible(I think definite actually) exception of Jayne.

    The Amish family in Saving Sarah Cain are this in public school. In their case they make venial compromises that understandably irritates Big Sis.

    Turin spends some time among outlaws in Lay of the Children of Hurin.

    Prince Edward is among London Beggers in Prince and the Pauper.

    Otto in Otto of the Silver Hand. In his case he is a Woobie version of this.

    In Ivanhoe King Richard is like this to Robin Hood's men.

    David Balfour in Kidnapped. Though the difference is more ideological then moral it is easy to mistake one for the other and he can be self-righteous.

    The Hero in Mickey Blue Eyes.

    Often goes with A Fish Out of Water.

  • August 1, 2009
    jason taylor
    "subverted in Firefly with Book. Kneecaps. "

    Not really. In Real Life the Bible isn't usually held to object even to killing in defense of others who are in peril of their lives(it probably would prefer knee caps though). In any case having a Token Paladin make slight compromises is perfectly compatable. Especially if he is shown to feel guilty about it later.
  • August 1, 2009
    jason taylor
    When you think about it Simon gets most of the most obviously noble C Mo A s and only indirectly touches most of the most questionable parts(the exception was the thing with Kaylee in the pilot). He gets "Light it", and the original rescue, and so on. Even in the Ariel raid he is saving a Damselin Distress (not to mention risking his own and his sister's life for a man he doesn't know), while the rifling of the medicine is done by his companions. Of course that is because his vocation makes him more useful doing things that have less Values Dissonance but only partly and that is kind of the point anyway as the author may have wanted it that way. I think he is even more the token paladin then Book is.
  • August 1, 2009
    jason taylor
    Just launch it.
  • August 2, 2009
    jason taylor
    bump
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