The Holy Order of Paladins only admits knights (almost entirely noble born) who have demonstrated honor and virtue. Once released by his liege, the knight vows service to the Church, then he is trained in religious sacraments and martial drills until deemed ready to be ordained a paladin. He gives up any family ties and inheritance to be formally adopted by the Church. A paladin may not hold land, titles, or possessions beyond what he can carry, nor have vassals outside the order. He is sworn to uphold the highest ideals of chivalry; the order’s motto is “Justice, Honor, Piety, Temperance”. Bahamut is the order’s patron deity. The Supreme Paladin, leader of the order, reports directly to the Archbishop for Protection, and the Holy Council.
In the old Empire, paladins traveled the lands dispensing justice by the authority of the emperor. These days, many kings & nobles are less willing to recognize this authority. The Dragon Empire has a parallel organization, the Jade Guard, charged with protecting the Emperor himself, and enforcing his justice throughout the empire.
Although paladins have a well-deserved reputation as champions of justice and good (and for being uptight or intolerant), some have been known to follow a grayer path. This does not strip them of their powers, as it is often held (even within the order), though if a paladin’s honor is sullied enough, he may be banished from the order, or even sentenced to death or imprisonment. There is rumored to be an evil counterpart to the holy Paladins, the Blackguard, dedicated to some unknown force of darkness.
Added: 2009.06.14 – Modified: 2009.07.11