The Paladins of Tygan are healers. This is their greatest gift and their true purpose as they see it. The goals of the Paladins are peace, not just from war but from hatred and fear, healing from wounds of the body, mind or spirit, education in knowledge both scholarly and worldly, spirituality to better understand the currents of life, and change when it is needed to right wrongs. Given these goals, it is appropriate that the class was birthed out of the mass slaughter of the First Great War.
Graham Gilliam was an elf and a master of arcane theory turned soldier and field surgeon. From a royal elven family, he was initially very supportive of the oppressive efforts of his people. It was not until after the final battle had been fought that Graham first bore witness to the full horror of what the humans and dwarves had been subjected to. Appalled, he enlisted his aid to the hospitals of his former adversaries. During his travels, Graham bore witness to untold numbers of casualties, many of them noncombatants.
Graham became further disillusioned by the rhetoric of his former commanders. They would often refuse responsibility and continued to voice their bigoted views towards those Graham finally saw as no less brave and noble than his own people. Seeking to restore what he felt the elven people should represent, Graham began a long quest to find some way to mend the damage done, and founded the art of arcane healing.
It’s fortunate that Graham was not only intelligent but open-minded, or the Paladins might never have come to be. Graham had some past experience with vampires, and knew that they could use the life force of others to restore themselves. He thus theorized that there should be a way to reverse their abilities, allowing him a way to heal others at the cost of his own strength. After several uncomfortable encounters, Graham found an enclave of vampires willing to humor his research. After a time, Graham became well-acquainted with several of them, and they helped him to turn his theory into reality.
Graham’s healing art was not as quick an answer as he hoped for. It took months of meditation and years of constant practice, but when he perfected it his own life force regenerated faster and the healing grew more efficient. The meditation Graham completed in solitude, pausing only to keep his strength up. The practice he put in as he traveled, visiting hospitals to lay his hands on one soldier or unfortunate bystander at a time. Graham healed many over the course of his journeys, and the lowest estimates for the first wave are in the low hundreds.
Graham’s selflessness gained him a lot of attention, but at first there were few followers. While any given ruler in Tygan was eager to take Graham’s knowledge, none of them fully agreed with his principles or were willing to accept what he told them about the nature of healing. Some of these monarchs tried to have Graham dismissed as a charlatan. His former elven commanders wrote him off as a traitor and overly sentimental, and other humanoids assumed it was some sort of trick or con to get them re-subjugated.
Graham, though initially greatly saddened, was able to gain control of his anger, expelling his negative feelings and strengthening his healing abilities even more.
While visiting a hospital near Haiden’s coast, Graham was approached by a young human woman who he recognized as one of the first he successfully healed. The former soldier asked to become Graham’s student. Graham accepted, and soon they were joined by others; a few commoners, a few well-meaning but over-enthusiastic farmhands, but mostly former soldiers who sought direction in the aftermath of the War. Graham and these first followers created the Paladin class for the sole purpose of mending Tygan’s ills both literal and figurative.
The Paladins crafted their Mound on the site where the First Great War began in earnest, on a small island in the middle of Lake Atwood. It was here that a young soldier named Katherine Marshall fought and won the first successful revolt against the elven hierarchs. The cliff at the edge of Lake Atwood bears the name Marshall’s Watch to this day. Upon hearing of Graham’s plans, Marshall insisted that a shrine not be erected in his honor out of respect for his fallen compatriots. Graham agreed, and instead had Marshall’s Monument erected, a statue that though it bears the likeness of Marshall, only bears the names of all who fell in the battle. Marshall deemed the gesture an acceptable alternative, and the statue still greets visitors at the beginning of the narrow canyon that leads to the lake.
At the end of the canyon lies one small pathway that spans Lake Atwood to the island. Aside from the path, the only way to reach the island is by water or air, allowing for a fair amount of privacy and, if necessary, defense.
With the past set in stone, the Paladins turned to forming the future out of marble. The Paladins would never enlist labor for something they could do themselves, and they set to work melting marble down and pouring it into a vast step-pyramid. Each layer took months of careful measurements, forge-work and simple patience, but the result was one of the most iconic structures in Tygan.
Word of Paladins’ Mound spread, and veteran soldiers seeking recovery and peace began to congregate to the Mound. The Paladin class grew, and as it grew the word spread further, and so the class grew. Within a few years others began to join the Paladins, not only soldiers but craftsmen, scholars, and even a few altruistic nobles. A school was incorporated into the grounds to help train these new recruits as well as to store and to share the knowledge they brought with them. The Mound began to collect books of history and science, maps of small towns and great nations, and the memoirs of everyone from bakers to battalion commanders for its students’ use to help them understand war, both its horrors and its regrettable necessity.
Since their founding the Paladins have fought in every major war. Even though they are considered pacifists by many, Graham Gilliam himself stated “We live in a world where war is sometimes necessary to destroy a great evil. Though we dream of and work towards a time when that is not the case, we hold no delusions about the world we still live in.”
To this end, Graham and his best students laid out a code of ethics, commonly known as The Paladin’s Code. It reads thus.
Your sword never swings on one without crime.
Your hand never throttles one with no will to fight.
Your tongue never frees a falsehood to harm.
Your eyes never see an injustice unpunished.
Your body never a weapon for an unjust ruler.
Your soul always an angel for all who need one.
Your gift the healing hand that shall always light darkness.
The Paladin’s Code instructs that all crimes receive the same punishment no matter who commits them, and a worthy person is worthy no matter what they look like or whose standard they bear. Prejudices of any kind are utterly out of the question, both because they are wrong in and of themselves and because the Paladins must make many judgments that are hard enough without subconscious bias clouding their minds.
For similar reasons, Paladins swear off material wealth in its own right; while they may own property, it must not be more than what they need. The Mound and its contents in particular belong to every Paladin; for example, the Supreme Healer has no more claim on a comfy chair than the newest trainee. Paladins must fight only when absolutely necessary to save themselves or someone else. If there is any chance to avoid bloodshed, they must take it, and when they are not shedding blood their duty is to heal any who need it. The Paladins obey all laws unless they violate the Paladin’s Code; a tyrant’s law or a law that encourages hatred towards others is meant to be broken.
This code has caused the class to have many run ins with nobles and those of royal heritage mistreating their subjects. There are many stories of royalty mistreating their peasants with slapping and punching, only to be struck themselves by a Paladin in order to cease the abuse. In still more severe cases, Paladins have actually killed such people to prevent them from murdering peasants, everyone from noble lords to top ranking royals.
In one rather notorious incident, a Paladin was in Haiden’s then newly formed Capital City of Ravenwood where the High King was going to publicly behead one of his servants for scuffing his boots during a polish. The Paladin in question asked what was the servant’s crime, and when he was informed, the Paladin promptly demanded the execution be halted. When they were not heeded, the Paladin shot the high king with a crossbow to save the servant, and advised the newly crowned prince to “Be a better king.”
The Paladin was slated to be executed, but after exchanging what were to be his last words to the new King, they were granted a pardon. The King addressed his people and stated “Rulers have much to learn. Perhaps we should listen.”
The Paladin’s views and treatment of those in royalty and nobility have resulted in very polarizing views of the class amongst such people. Some view the Paladins as a scourge preventing them from being effective rulers, while others feel that Paladins holding them to a high standard encourages royals to improve their craft.
Closely related to the Paladins are the soldiers of the Paladins’ Guard. The Paladins’ Guard are often thought of as simply a less stringent branch of the Paladin class, and the Paladins themselves do much to encourage this idea. The Guard are any who swear to uphold and defend the Paladins’ Code as part of the Paladins, but do not meet the mental and spiritual qualifications needed to heal, or fall just short of the class in some other regard. The Paladins treat those in the Guard with kindness and just as much respect as they each other, viewing them as complimentary, equal partners rather than underlings. A Paladin can always rely on a member of the Guard for protection whenever in trouble.
Members of the Guard often work closely with single Paladins as assistants and bodyguards, and more crucially as close personal friends. The Paladins hold the views and input of the Guard very highly, and even include them in their ranking process. A Paladin’s rank is not only measured by their deeds as both healers and warriors, but by the opinions of the Guard both under and not under their command, and by the number of Guard willing to work with them. The more soldiers willing, the more the Paladin is trusted, and thus the more they have succeeded in their duties. Any soldier can become a member of the Guard, provided they demonstrated willingness to learn and embrace the Paladins’ Code.
The Paladin class is ruled worldwide by a Supreme Healer, a veteran Paladin of outstanding skill. The qualifications for a Supreme Healer are active service in a war, full mastery of the healing arts, tutelage from the previous Supreme Healer, full support of the Guard, and achieving reformation of the self. A man raised to hate Orcs who comes to hold them in equal regard to himself, for example. The Paladins believe this is important so the Supreme will be someone who understands what it is to overcome oneself; one who cannot make peace with oneself cannot make peace in the world.
Those few Paladins who meet all qualifications are subjected to a Test of Essence to see which among them contains the most pure good. The one who rises highest in the Test is the one who becomes the Supreme Healer. Because Paladins’ lives are dangerous, the Supreme Healer begins teaching potential successors immediately. Often they’ll be the very people they was just tested alongside.
The current Supreme Healer is Glaive, Celice’s husband. Celice enlisted herself as a member of Glaive’s Guard after the two met during the Lich Uprising, and their relationship soon became romantic. They eventually married, a first between a Paladin and a member of the Guard, and a decision that was met with enthusiasm and support from both. In fact, this may well have been the reason Glaive was chosen as the Supreme Healer.
Glaive recently went undercover among the Followers to find out where Assylyl is hiding and what the Followers are planning in their master’s absence. He has entrusted the Mound to his students, who have worked in his absence via a democratic process headed by both them and the Guard. Disagreements between them have been infrequent.
The Paladins were among the most active fighters in the war against Assylyl, facing his armies when they could and resorting to guerrilla warfare, spying and rescue work when they could not. They were among the first volunteers for Davies’ plan to destroy Assylyl, and were critical in completing it. They paid a heavy price for their bravery. More than three quarters of Tygan’s Paladins died in the war, more so than any other class. They have only in the last few centuries begun to recover. As a class, the Paladins are the only ones aware of the true events of the war against Assylyl, and they try to ensure the lessons of the past are not forgotten. All Paladins have been preparing for Assylyl’s possible return, but have not spread word to the public yet until they are certain the Far One will indeed rise again.