“There is a great strength that resides in every man. Born of faith, it must be sharpened, harnessed responsibly, so that we may fulfill our duties. This requires a clear mind and absolute dispassion, even in times of emotional crisis.” —Elias Allard, Grand Master Paladin.
There are individuals in the world who were born special. No one has known, or perhaps ever will know why these individuals exist, or how, but the truth of their nature is clear: they are the power of God made manifest in a human being. Such individuals are entrusted with great power and the terrible burden to uphold the strictest of moral standards and be as a leader to all of humanity, everywhere in the world. They are looked to as heroes, captains, diplomats, and sages, their every action given the extra weight of their situation, as well as held to standards that only the bravest, the most dedicated and determined individuals could uphold. These unique men and women are Paladins.
ROLE IN THE CHURCH
The men and women who would become Paladins were not always called it. Most grew up ordinary boys and girls of every social strata and station, but even as children they are often seen as precocious and exceptional, especially in their relationships with their fellow man. If the local church believes that they may have a Paladin candidate in their midst, they will send word to the church in Holy Lethia and, in time, a Paladin will arrive. After speaking with the child, the Paladin will either send her away or take her with him back to Lethia for training; a whole new life separate and anew from their old one. The Paladin that found them becomes their mentor from there after and sees them through their rigors and training until they are finally educated and worthy enough to take up missions of their own and be inducted into the Sacred Order of the White Lion. Until then, Paladins travel with their mentors and learn through observation and experience, and even after their induction into the Order, still maintain lifelong relationships with their mentor.
The Sacred Order of the White Lion acts as a special tactics mission group for the Church as a whole and, like other knightly orders, is lead by a Grand Master who oversees the direction of the Order and reports directly to the Pontifex of the Church. Paladins are, on the whole, autonomous with one another and generally are expected to seek out and fulfill their purposes on their own, however some areas such as major towns and cities may have a Chapter of the Order that utilizes several Paladin knights overseen by a Master Paladin. Technically all Paladin knights are under the watch of a Master Paladin, though most of them reside in Lethia when they themselves are not in the field seeing to their deeds. Paladins send regular reports back to their Masters in Lethia and can request additional assistance from them if their need is great, though generally they are expected to act without the need for rescue or reinforcement.
PLACE IN THE WORLD
Out in the world, Paladins are seen as a walking blessing. Few who know their guest is a Paladin would ask them to pay for a room or the food of their table, or even small goods and services, though most Paladins refuse to take advantage of these offers. While they do always receive a warm welcome, the unspoken responsibility in that welcome hangs in the air. If a Paladin is present, people tend to flock to them begging them to solve all manner of problems, many of which may not be within their power to resolve. Paladins must learn to keep the expectations of their flock realistic, for the disappointment of denial can be just as poignant as the hope, and people in desperate circumstances tend to have very high hopes. Paladins after all, for all their blessings, are still just people, trying to do their best with what they are given.
Some Paladins are assigned to specific tasks, such as hunt down a specific criminal or heretic, resolve a major conflict peacefully, or cleanse a tainted land of the evils within it. Both through necessity and the force of personality common to all of their kind, they tend to gather friends and followers to help them accomplish these duties, but just as many act or are currently acting on no particular assignment at all, free to travel the Throne righting wrongs and seeing to Humanity’s best interests wherever they can. Such Paladins similarly tend to fall in with like-minded people with similar aims, or tend to lend their abilities to a cause they find worthy.
As a knightly Order, the White Lion has no specific political or religious authority of its own, but it bears with it the weight of its masters. A Paladin cannot order his way into a sensitive area on the virtue of his Paladin status alone, but if acting on the orders of a superior in the Church, such as a bishop or cardinal, he has that person’s authority in the relevant matters. While most knightly orders serve a specific Lord or King that remains static all the time, the Order of the White Lion’s duties are to the Church as a whole and thus they serve many different masters over the course of time, and so their authority fluctuates. It is not uncommon for a Paladin to carry with him the documents of his agency to a specific clerical office which detail all of his rights and authorities during the course of his current mission.