|Images of paladins|
Source: Core Rulebook, pg(s). 60-64
Where fighters are the pinnacle of martial combat, the paladin blends martial skill with devotion to a righteous deity, cause, or organization. The paladin is held to a much higher standard than members of any other profession, including clerics and monks. If a paladin betrays these standards, they face spiritual penalty as well as the possibility of facing a penance, or even worse being removed from their order.
A paladin's primary goal is to convert the wicked—the evil and chaotic forces of the world and their servants. A paladin is bound both to do good and to uphold just law, though if forced into a choice a paladin will likely choose the cause of good. They focus most of their efforts on evil souls, and will attempt to convert before they resort to mortal combat.
The paladin channels divine power and often has a patron deity, though it is not required. They are steadfast and determined, and like monks they maintain a life of routine and pure intent. They take good care of themselves physically and mentally, though they spend less time in meditation than monks. Paladins are also not concerned with physical perfection as much as spiritual focus.
Paladins are rare on Golarion, even beyond the Inner Sea region. They maintain small enclaves similar to monasteries, or even as a part of a monastery. Of note is the Star Keep in Mendev, where evil forces from the Worldwound pour forth in unending number but are held back by stalwart paladins. In Lastwall is the enclave of Vigil, where knights of the Holy Citadel of Light learn the arts of war in preparation to battle orcs of the Belkzen. Andoran trains the Eagle Knights, while Absalom, Brevoy, Osirion, and Taldor all have small enclaves in addition to independent paladins throughout the world.
Becoming a paladin is a spiritual calling. Any creature capable of enlightened thought can be drawn to the ways of the holy warrior. Even the cruelest of savage humanoids might be gifted a vision or other awakening that leads them to the class. As paladins deal in repentance, so too do they accept into their order any creature that proves their dedication.
Paladins often do not worship a single deity, but rather abide by a strict personal code or organizational doctrine. Paladins who do venerate a single god, however, most commonly follow Iomedae, the goddess of justice. Like fighters, paladins also might pay service to the deities of war or order. Torag, Abadar, Erastil, Irori, Sarenrae, and even Shelyn (love) count paladins among their followers. Although they are quite rare, paladins have also come from the faith of the Empyreal Lord Ragathiel, commander of the forces of Heaven.
If a paladin ceases to adhere to the causes of law and good, commits a heinously evil act, or otherwise violates their personal code of conduct, their divine gifts cease to function. A paladin who falls from grace can regain their divine power only by casting an atonement spell, or more rarely by otherwise regaining the respect of their chosen cause. Very rarely, a paladin can shift entirely to the cause of evil, gaining dark powers and becoming an antipaladin.
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