The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night
No one in Ravenloft simply decides to become a paladin. They are extremely rare, the chosen ones of divine forces, selected for their spiritual purity. These divine forces imbue paladins with holy powers, appointing them to champion the meek and deliver justice to the forces of darkness. Paladins tend to see good and evil as living, elemental forces that should be easily divided into black and white. Of course, true paladins understand the difference between the pure, unremitting evil of a vampire and the misguided wrongs of a drunken bully, and they react appropriately. Paladins blinded by hubris become servants of the Dark Powers.
The divine forces that grant a paladin his special abilities are as faceless as the Dark Powers themselves, in fact, they may well be the Dark Powers. Evidence exists, however, that paladins are an aberration in the grand tapestry the Dark Powers have woven for themselves. Paladins posses extensive, powerful gifts in their personal life-quests against the forces of evil, but in many ways, the deck seems stacked against them. The Dark Powers may seek to destroy paladins in their realm, or it may be that the Dark powers are enraptured with the potential paladins hold, and simply provide them with fitting challenges.
Paladins native to Ravenloft usually ascribe their divine powers to the prevailing deities of their homeland. They almost never adventure simply for the pursuit of lucre or personal gain: they seek out and battle evil because they know it is the right thing to do. It is the rare paladin indeed who dies of old age in Ravenloft; many become fatalistic as they proceed through life, knowing that the examples they leave after their deaths are as important as the actions they took in life.
Altered Class Features
Detect Evil: No mortal magic can detect moral alignment in the Realm of Dread. In Ravenloft, this ability usually duplicates the effects of the spell detect chaos. In two cases, however, the paladin’s spiritual purity allows him to come close to defying the edicts of the Dark Powers. First, a paladin can use this ability to detect Innocents. At the extreme opposite of the moral spectrum, a paladin can also use this ability to sense the true nature of evil outsiders.
Divine Grace: The paladin’s noble spirit bleeds out into the world around him, subconsciously placing virtuous minds at ease and sinister minds on edge. The paladin can apply his divine grace bonus when attempting to improve the reactions of good NPCs (effectively allowing him to count his Charisma bonus twice). However, this modifier counts as a penalty when attempting to improve the reactions of evil NPCs (effectively negating the paladin’s Charisma bonus). Note also that the divine grace bonus applies to all Fear, Horror and Madness saves.
Aura of Courage: Although the Ravenloft paladin remains immune to magical fear, he is not immune to “natural” Fear saves, which are the product of his own sense of survival. (In a sense, playing a PC immune to fear in a horror campaign is simply missing the point.) Instead, the paladin receives the Courage feat as a bonus feat at 2nd level.
Divine Health: This protection in not inviolate in Ravenloft. Darklords and curses are powerful in the Realm of Dread. As such, the paladin is not immune to diseases spawned by these sources.
Channel Positive Energy: See Cleric’s Channel Energy
Spells: Some spells function differently in Ravenloft.
Divine Bond: If a paladin chooses a steed for his divine bond it is a Dread Companion. See Dread Companion.
Disruption: As a paladin’s divine powers grow in strength, they begin to disrupt the very planar fabric of the evil-tainted world around him. Although this disruption is negligible when compared to that caused by a good outsider, darklords can sense the presence of a paladin in their domains as they would a festering wound on their body. With a successful Sense Motive check (DC = 25 – the paladin’s level), a darklord can detect the approximate location of a paladin in his domain within a one-mile radius (“in that town” or “in the woods west of his keep”). With an extraordinary success, the darklord narrows the approximate location down to a 100-foot radius. The darklord automatically retries the Sense Motive check once per 24 hours.
Weakness: As with good and neutral clerics, paladins who commit questionable acts must make powers checks at twice the usual percentage chance of failure.