Say what you want about paladins, but those dudes know what they want out of life. They’ve got a clear motivation of “smite the wicked and serve the gods,” and it’s built right into the class description. In fact, if you’re playing any class with an inherent relationship to gods/fiends/eldritch-entities-from-beyond-time-and-space, then you’ve got a potential character arc laid out for you from Level 1. All those Faust-inspired warlocks in 5e get to deal with the devil. Sorcerers get to grapple with their ancestry. Clerics are blessed with a wide variety of deities to hang out with. These relationships between PC and Powerful Entity are practically begging to be explored. A word of caution though: Even though it’s possible to make a story out of these built-in hooks, you’ll want to avoid relying on them.

When there’s a big fat motivation sitting right there in front of you, it’s easy to turn it into a crutch for character. Sure you can build a solid “Amy the paladin becomes the herald of Bahamut” storyline into your game, but that has nothing to do with the character and everything to do with the class. A fighter or a rogue by contrast have to figure out their place in the world. They get to make up a mercenary company or a hardscrabble youth or an internship as a caravan guard that’s got nothing to do with their class features. And if you find yourself fighting the urge to push up your glasses and say, “Um, actually Colin, a paladin can do that too,” then you understand my point. Like every other element of the game, character classes can inspire story. If that’s the only thing inspiring your story though, you’ll find yourself telling the same tale over and over again. That gets old in a hurry.

So by all mean, set your guy on that epic quest to ascend to Olympus all Disney’s Hercules style. Just remember that there are more stories than the default, and that the other members of the party ought to get a few of them as well.


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