I honestly have played very little D&D, I mostly ran it. That means that over the course of a couple years, the small group of players that I had got themselves up to whatever the maximum level was as we moved from Basic to Expert to Companion to Master (I’m not sure we ever did Immortal). However, I did play in an AD&D game where I played a Paladin named Felice who, after the class appeared in Dragon Magazine, became a cavalier. She was inspired by the iconic paladin picture, as well as another one that I can’t find that I think had a fully armored female paladin on a horse (it was possibly Elmore or Caldwell).
|You know the one
Felice made it I think up to 18th level or so. The DM wasn’t nearly as much of a douchebag as a lot of DM’s I’ve heard about regarding paladins. She strove to maintain her code, followed all of the rules, and stood up for what was actually right. We even had the “you find young evil creatures” dilemma, which if I remember right was dealt with by putting them in the care of the church. The debate that followed was along the lines that half-orcs could be good, so if the creatures we found – orcs I believe – were raised by the pious they could learn to control their chaotic tendencies and be good as well. Either way, Felice refused to hold them accountable for their parent’s evil and insisted that she would slay anyone who hurt them (and, by that time armed with a holy avenger and probably at least +3 plate, the threat wasn’t idle). For 14-15 year olds, this was pretty philosophical stuff.
The other factor about this character that probably stands out is that she was a woman, especially considering that I was a teenager. There was some disagreement about whether or not a woman could be a paladin, until I pointed out Joan of Arc (I was a moderately erudite kid). Ribbing ensued about wanting to play a girl, but the DM – who was older – okayed it. Felice was my first real encounter with “character concept”. I had envisioned the character as a “her”, I had inspiration from a book I was reading with a strong female character (it may have been one of the Julian May books, who did have a character named Felice, but I’m not sure), and my ability rolls had set me up for a paladin. I likely would have made a female whatever regardless. In the end, to me it didn’t matter if the character was a he or a she, and I didn’t see any issues with being male and portraying a female. Of course, it probably helped that she was a paladin – it allowed for me to sidestep any potentially (for my age and maturity level) squicky issues about romantic entanglements, and I’m sure that I mostly portrayed her as a dude with long hair and boobs. Miraculously, our group also dodged the bullet of any players or DM trying to introduce any problematic behaviors or situations as well – my experiences with perverted (or just plain sick) players wouldn’t come until after high school.