Main character in the 1950s Western television series Have Gun, Will Travel. Played by actor Richard Boone, his card read "Wire Paladin, San Francisco". The surface meaning was that this is how one reached Paladin to purchase his services as a gunfighter, but I recall reading in an article about the series years ago that it is also a pun. The man's first name was actually "Wire".

Please bear in mind that I have not been able to confirm this elsewhere.

The most favored knights of Charlemagne's court were called the paladins -- inmates of the palace, and the Emperor's equal companions.

The paladins in the legends and romances of Charlemagne are:

Orlando Furioso by Ariosto and The Song of Roland are good sources to read about the paladins. The third volume of Bulfinch's Mythology, The Legends of Charlemagne, nicely condenses some of the stories from Orlando Furioso and other tales.

Because of Dungeons and Dragons, most people think of paladins as virtuous and good; in the legends, sure, they are Christians, fighting Saracens and evil enchanters, but their knightly honor is more important to them than religion.

They come off as gang members on an extended, no-responsibilities spree; starting a war that devastates an entire countryside of peasants is OK, even if you are just trying to rescue your beloved war horse, or prove that you are the one true knight who has the right to wear the insignia of ancient Troy.

In the world of fantasy role-playing games, a young person is sometimes called by his or her deity to a hard life of service.  The character pledges unquestioning faith, unwavering courage, and constant charity.  Thus a paladin emerges. 

The basics

A paladin is modeled on the classical Arthurian knight — chivalrous, devoted, and brave.  The paladin can be one of the more difficult characters to effectively role play and perhaps the most difficult to qualify for.  In some game systems, paladins have to be human, and in others, species/race does not matter.  Elf and dwarf paladins are common, although, in the Dungeons & Dragons system, I've always wanted to play a halfling or gnome paladin, if only for comic relief.  Several qualities make up a good paladin. They must possess a high charisma, as they must always admirable and respectable.  Being essentially fighters with a divine calling, physical strength is essential.  A paladin also needs to have wisdom or intuition since they have the potential to cast clerical, or divine, spells. More than anything else, however, a paladin must rigidly and unfailingly follow a strict moral code.  Thus the paladin is required to be aligned lawful good.  Some dungeon masters require that the paladin follow a specific deity, take vows of poverty, limit the amount of magical items they may use, or require the paladin to tithe.

Role-playing the paladin

This moral code can either be quite entertaining or quite annoying, in role-playing terms, depending on how one does it.  For instance, often a less-experienced gamer will play a paladin as if she were a naïve Judeo-Christian prude.  This sort of character moralizes and proselytizes endlessly, forbidding rogues from thieving or assassinating and fighters from executing the orc chieftain the party just captured and questioned.  I have seen more than one game session derailed because we needed to take a surviving bad guy to town to be properly adjudicated by the legitimate authorities.  On the other hand, I have seen characters play their paladins as crusaders, knights errant, champions of retribution and vengeance, and religious fanatics.  These characters all satisfy the requirement for following a strict moral code — not necessarily one most people in the real world would agree with — but are much more fun to be around in game terms.  In any case, no paladin can knowingly or willingly associate with evil characters or characters that continually and flagrantly defy his moral code.

However one chooses to play the paladin, the character's behavior must strictly conform to the strictures the dungeon master and player have agreed to.  If the character behaves cowardly, unjustly, or in anyway against the code, the DM has the ability to rob the character of his powers.  This represents the deity withdrawing her favor from the wayward warrior.  In game terms, this means the character is nothing more than a fighter.  To get these back, the paladin must atone for his transgressions in some meaningful way.  If the paladin willingly commits an evil act, the DM will probably decide that he may never become a paladin again.  In any case, it is always a life changing event for a paladin to be stripped of her powers. The change might be so traumatic that the character chooses the way of the blackguard, or anti-paladin — the quintessential black knight.  That's when the game gets really interesting.

The powers

The powers bestowed upon the paladin by virtue of her divine favor are quite impressive and more than make up for the limitations of the chivalrous lifestyle.  They vary from game system to game system, but here are some common ones.

  • Foremost, the paladin has the ability to heal by laying her hands on himself or others. 
  • The paladin also enjoys incredible health, being impervious to all diseases.  This divine grace also translates into better luck in avoiding misfortune, or in game terms, bonuses to saving throws.  
  • Paladins have the innate ability to Detect Evil
  • More experienced paladins gain immunity to fear effects and help bolster the courage of allies nearby.
  • These paladins also gain the ability to cure diseases in others and repel or destroy the undead as if they were clerics. 
  • They can also smite evil by channeling their righteous fury into a single blow against a maleficent foe. 
  • Some paladins can cast clerical spells and may summon supernaturally enhanced mount.

Incidentally, the word "paladin" is an old one. Various etymology sites I've visited agreed that the term has long been associated with the 12 Peers of Charlemagne, his most trusted and noble knights. This usage derives from Middle French paladin, meaning "a warrior." Following this to the Latin, there is palatinus meaning "palace official." I have also heard that the word has Arabic origins dating back to The Crusades.

and others

Paladin: The Diablo II Character Class

Paladin is one of the five Diablo II character types. He is characterized as being "noble", a traditional Paladin trait outside of Diablo II. As such, his skill tree includes many skills (mostly consisting of "auras") that benefit others in the party1. My Paladin (Reverius) is currently at level 21, and has the Prayer aura at level 20. Of course, that results in quick mana depletion<2> when providing a typical party of 10 or so (including NPCs) with regeneration capabilities.

Usual Equipment

The Paladin is usually equipped with certain types of items that work specifically for the Paladin by giving him Paladin skills or work exclusively for Paladins.

Weapons include scepters (usually beneficial to Paladin skills) or, on the more generic side, maces or swords. It depends whether better damage or speed is desired, or more skills. At higher levels, weapons like two-handed swords tend to be used if the Paladin is a particularly offensive one. I am currently using the Bloodrise Morning Star over the scepter I could be using... it does way more damage. The full list of Normal scepters consists of Scepter, Grand Scepter, and War Scepter types, although there is no reason why a Paladin can't use any kind of weapon.

As far as defense goes, pretty much anything works. I am using a regular helm, Hsarus' Iron Heel, regular gloves, and regular armor. The belt I'm using is a Strong Belt of Regeneration, which gives me Replenish Life +5. This complements my Prayer skill nicely. The important piece of defense as a Paladin is the shield. Paladins have specialized shields; at least in the earlier stages (Normal skill level up to Act 3), they are Targes and Rondaches. They typically provide Paladin skills, as well as resistances to magic. The Normal Paladin Shields consist of Targes, Rondaches, Heraldic Shields, Aerin Sheilds, and Crown Shields.

Skill Tree

All skills in Diablo II have a maximum of 20. One skill point can be assigned to any available skill each time a character reaches a new level. However, the maximum can sometimes be exceeded by equipping items that grant additional skill points to specific skills that have already been maxed out. The Paladin skills are grouped into the three sections below. The charts show the required level on the left, and skill prerequisites by lines connecting the skills. For instance, Cleansing requires a character level of 12 and Prayer (at least one skill point of it).

Defensive Auras

1  |    Prayer                    Resist Fire
   |       |
6  |       |        Defiance      Resist Cold
   |       |          |
12 |    Cleansing     |           Resist Lightning
   |       |      \   |
18 |       |        Vigor
   |       |          |
24 |    Meditation    |
   |                  |
30 |                Redemption    Salvation

Offensive Auras

1  |    Might  -->    \ 
   |      |            \
6  |      |              Holy Fire      Thorns
   |      |                  |             |
12 |    Blessed Aim          |             |
   |      |                  |             |
18 |    Concentration    Holy Freeze \     |
   |      |                  |        \    |
24 |      |              Holy Shock     Sanctuary
   |      |                                |
30 |    Fanaticism                      Conviction

Combat Skills

1  |    Sacrifice                         Smite
   |      |                                  |
6  |      |           Holy Bolt              |
   |      |               |                  |
12 |    Zeal              |               Charge
   |      |               |                  |
18 |    Vengeance     Blessed Hammer  \      |
   |      |               |            \     |
24 |    Conversion \      |               Holy Shield
   |                \     |
30 |                  Fist of the Heavens


  1. In Diablo II, there are usually multiple characters in a party, especially on They fight close to each other. The auras of the Paladin affect all members of the party including other players and NPCs.
  2. Prayer is one of the few auras that requires mana to function. It uses a certain amount of mana to heal a certain number of hit-points.



Paladin: The World of Warcraft Character Class

The Paladin is one of the ten playable classes in the popular MMOG World of Warcraft. Originally this class was available only to Alliance races: Human and Dwarf. With The Burning Crusade expansion, the class was extended to two new races (both introduced in that same expansion). The Alliance brethren was extended to the Draenei race and the Paladin also made its first appearance amongst the Horde ranks with the Blood Elf race. There are four main roles within WoW, whether the player is leveling their toon, running dungeon instances for gear, or playing with a guild to beat end-game raid instances. These roles are tanking, healing, melee dps, and range dps. The Paladin is well suited to the first three of these roles, and with access to the right gear and no shame in picking non-standard talents, can play as the fourth in a pvp capacity. A standard Paladin player will stick to only one of the first three game roles though, subscribing to the standard talent trees of Protection/Holy/Retribution, and be affectionately nicknamed tankadins, healadins, or retadins (unless you play on a server with subpar end game Retribution Paladins, in which case you will be referred to as "lolret").

The Paladin is a special class because, along with the Druid class, it represents the only classes which can tank, heal, or deal out damage (based on appropriate talent specifications and gear for the situation, of course). By determining which type of player you would like to be, you will also know which talent tree to begin using points in as you level up your character. Speaking of leveling your toon, more on that after the break.

How to level-up your Paladin

There is one way to level in WoW: by gaining XP. XP can be gained either by completing quests, or by killing MOBs, mobile-interactive targets roaming through the virtual world your character can be moved through. Regular quests yield more XP than simply killing MOBs in a repetitive manner known as grinding. Quests which take place in dungeons yield even more XP. You may form a party of up to five players to complete quests, but the XP and loot of any MOBs which are killed is shared among all players in party. So before knowing how you want to level, you must answer the simple question: what do you want to do?

While in the early levels (1-40) it is a simpler question still: do you want to be able to operate alone? If so, then you want to be focused on doing as much damage as possible and spec into the Retribution talent tree. If not, then you want to be focused on finding a friend who wants to deal as much damage as possible, make a group with them and sign up for the same quests, and then be their personal HP battery to make them, more or less, invincible. At very low levels Protection isn't very good for questing alone, as it will take longer to kill your targets. However, with a healer or higher level gear, a Protection Paladin will be very difficult to kill, and thus can pull multiple MOBs at once and slowly kill five or six targets at once instead of one or two targets at once.

All in all - questing as a Paladin can be laboriously repetitive until higher level spells and abilities are learned, but it is still on par with other classes insofar as time required. All three specs can level in the same average amount of time, although a Holy Paladin will definitely require a party to complete most quests efficiently. If you want to level mostly in dungeons - which have much stronger MOBs, more money per MOB, and excellent gear loot (for the level) at bosses - picking to spec as a tank or healer is a surefire way to ensure that you can always find a group. A standard group will have one tank, one healer, and three dps - despite the percentages required tanks and healers are nearly always the last players to be found for a PUG. Keep reading for some basic tips on how to begin playing each spec.

Retribution: Live by the blade, die long after your enemies

Retribution Paladins are a melee class who deal damage with a two handed weapon imbued with spells to deal bonus holy damage. Equipped with an additional stun spell and a reduced cooldown on the basic Paladin stun, Retadins are well equipped for temporary crowd control and burst damage.

When questing alone and grinding, try to use crowd control one MOB while attacking another. Also, try to target spellcasters first. Your HP will be high and you will be wearing strong armor, but spell damage will hurt you if you aren't working in tandem with a healer. By using well timed stuns or spells to slow your melee targets, you can insure no more than two targets attacking you while you most heartily attack them back.

When questing in a group or operating in a dungeon, attack whichever target the group leader has marked. Generally the kill order in a dungeon will be any healers, any spell casters, and finally any melee MOBs which haven't fallen to AOE attacks. An easy way to make sure your character doesn't switch from being a dps role to a tank roll is to always assist the tank! By making sure you are attacking the same target as your party's tank, you are virtually guaranteed of having less threat than the tank. Beyond attacking targets in the order which the party leader marks, not generating more threat than the tank, and not breaking crowd control before the tank and healer are prepared, the most important job that a dps role Paladin must learn is not to stand in the bad. There are various AOE attacks MOBs can use on characters in game, and most all will be accompanied by a sickly looking graphic on the ground - a bubbling cauldron of blacks and greens and purples and reds.

Strange writing in a language you don't recognize? That's also a tip from the game to move to your left. Your healer will thank you.

Holy: Channeling The Light

A Paladin healer is one of the strongest, most bang for your buck, single target healers in WoW. End-game raids often use a Paladin healer on the Main Tank, and a Paladin healer can successfully heal any dungeon in the game (although some, because of the Paladin healing mechanic, require supremely honed reflexes). There are different types of heals in the game: proactive HOTs, reactive big heals, and last second instant heals (for just enough HP to keep your target ticking). A Paladin comes equipped with one instant heal with a very long cool down, one quick heal with which the cooldown time nearly matches the cast time, and one big heal with a great HP for mana. With no HOTs, it is important for a Healadin to keep an eye on the health bars of all party members and keep a priority list of who the next several heals should be cast on.

In a dungeon, if the tank dies, the party will likely die unless the remaining targets are of very low health. As such, the tank receives most of the heals. However, the tank's health bar can't be the only thing the healer focuses on. Just like dps members, a healer has to be certain not to stand in the bad. If the healer dies, the rest of the group will be hard pressed to absorb all the damage from the MOBs before dying themselves. If dps are allowed to die, a simple encounter can become a battle of attrition wherein the low-damage-dealing tank and remaining dps must defeat all currently engaged targets before the healer runs out of mana. By spreading heals around to keep all party members' health topped off most encounters can be defeated successfully in one go.

A great tip for healadins, to compensate for the lack of a proactive HOT, is stop-casting. In WoW non-instant spells may only be cast by a character who is not moving. If a character is channeling one spell, or casting another, if that character is moved the spell will be cancelled. A great habit to start is to target the group's tank and begin to cast a large heal. Once the cast is halfway through, evaluate if the tank requires a big heal. If not, the healer can move forward or to the side. This cancels the spell, saves mana from being spent, and allows the healer to drop a fast and small heal on either themself, a dps, or even the tank if only a little bit of damage has been taken.

Protection: Judge not by the shine of the armor, but by the dents in the shield

I have leveled a Paladin as Protection on two different servers. Once Cataclysm, the 2010 expansion, is released I will be giving up an 18 month hiatus from WoW to level a new Paladin with some friends. Despite being just a video game, there's something personally rewarding about being the first and last stage of defense between targets and the group. When encounters go poorly and dps or a healer die, it's exhilarating to have the last toon standing, going punch for punch with a gigantic war-mace wielding herald of death, with your HP bar racing your target's to zero. While a Protection Paladin isn't quite invincible, it's the closest spec to it.

As the tank of group encounters, it's important to know what to expect in each fight. Will the main target breathe fire? Turn that baddie away from your dps friends. Will the main target cast AOE at its feet? Don't stand in the bad! Move far enough to the side that you and any melee dps aren't taking damage that can be avoided. Spell casters will deal more damage to you than melee MOBs (just don't turn your back on any!), so they should always be targeted after any healers are down.

A solid tip for tankadins is to front-load their threat. By using high damage, multi-target spells on the pull (initial attack), the tank can be sure to have lots of threat generated even while positioning the MOBs and beginning their attack rotation, allowing the dps to get started at eliminating all the targets as early as possible.

Further Instruction

There are many great websites which exist for specifics of playing a Paladin. They all update regularly, and in many cases have community forums to help answer any further questions.

For general Paladin knowledge, check the wow-Wiki on Paladins
For specific gear knowledge, check the armory
For tanking questions and theorycrafting, visit
For healing questions and theorycrafting, read through The Holy Paladin
For lolret questions and theorycrafting, read through

Pal"a*din (?), n. [F., fr.It. paladino, fr. L. palatinus an officer of the palace. See Palatine.]

A knight-errant; a distinguished champion; as, the paladins of Charlemagne.

Sir W. Scott.


© Webster 1913.

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