Creating the Setting

Creating the Setting

Although Paladin comes with a default setting ("The Sword of Heaven"), players can create any setting they like that fits the theme of Paladin. The setting creation process is described first so you can understand the default setting better. Once you're familiar with the core setting, check out these Other Settings.

When creating your own setting, you first need to decide if it will be a group process, or if the GM will create the setting before play, leaving only the individual characters in the other players' hands. Both methods have pros and cons:

Group process - Everyone has input, and so the game created may be more satisfying. However, groups of people can devolve into hours of muttering and arguing points and such.

GM process - A clear, coherent vision comes forth. However, it might not be the same vision as the rest of the players want.

The following items must be created before play:


Where and when is your game set? Is it psuedo-historical? Is it swashbuckling space fantasy? Is it edgy and modern? You need to define, at a minimum, what your in-game culture is like, what sort of technology they have, and what sorts of things people do on a daily basis. Think of books, movies, and art that inspire courage and conflict, not only of a physical nature, but of an emotional nature as well.Foremost, you need a conflict. It does not have to be world-spanning - it could be that the local duke is conspiring to eliminate the king and take his place. In experience, though, the conflict should be large and overwhelming, with the fate of the characters literally resting in its resolution. The action in this game comes from putting intense pressure on the characters, forcing them to make moral decisions while saving the world.

Organization, Faith, and Charter

The characters all are members of a holy order: an order that has access to a supernatural power through their faith. This power may be called different things according to your background. In this game text, we call it Animus (loosely meaning "Force" in Latin, which is less copyrighted than calling it The Force.)

Animus is a supernatural energy that lives in and touches all things. The holy order you create must believe this - even if based on something psuedo-historical, this gnostic sort of view of God is necessary. Animus is a dualist philosophy - there is a definite good and evil (or "light" and "dark" side) to Animus, and it can be used for either purpose.

Before the game begins, you must define, at a minimum: What does the order believe? Do they believe in a God, or in a nameless benevolence? What is their organization? Are they close-knit or are they a very loose organization? What is the traditional method of training new members? What is their charter, and how does society see them? What does Light Animus represent? What about Dark Animus?

Orders of this type, in both history and in the source literature, are normally associated with a government or social institution. Even when fighting the ruling government, they are associated with an underground order determined to wipe away the corruption of the current regime. The orders follow strict laws. When creating your order, you should keep this in mind: an order that follows chaos or believes in anarchy is rarely, if ever, acceptable.


Every faith has its set of laws and taboos. You must create a code for the order, listing 3 to 10 laws every member of the order must follow. These laws fall under the ranks of Minor, Major, and Unbreakable. A good number to start play with is 3 Minor Laws, 2 Major Laws, and 1 Unbreakable Law.

An example:

Minor Laws

  • A member must base his decisions on wisdom, not feelings.

  • A member must never be arrogant.

  • A member must never use his abilities for personal gain.

Major Laws

  • A member must respect life in all its forms.

  • A member must never act out of love, fear, or hate.

Unbreakable Law

  • A member must never strike down another fueled by emotion.

As you can see in the example, the crimes do not have to be specific, and they may overlap. (Making decisions based off of feelings is a Minor transgression; acting on strong feelings is Major; while killing someone fueled by emotion is Unbreakable. All three are wrong, but killing someone is much worse than, say, draining their fuel tanks because you think they're a dick.) This sort of overlap is an excellent way to show the core of your order's values.


Every order has a weapon associated with it: this weapon is the talisman of their power, and the focus of their energy. The weapon is symbolic of the danger of their power, both to others and themselves. All members use this weapon, and it must be chosen before play. Star Wars' lightsaber is an obvious example. Other good items to use would be nightsticks, flaming swords, or the characters' own tattooed fists.

If the GM feels it is necessary, the weapon can be made vague in order to allow for variation, but this is not recommended.


Paladin does not restrict what your character can do with Animus. If you want her to jump a chasm, go ahead. If you want her to throw lightning bolts, that's fine, as well.

When creating your setting, though, you should define what common uses of Animus are and what they look like. Throwing fireballs might be fine for Shaolin Monks, but would not be appropriate for a Star Wars themed game.