It may surprise you to hear this, but I like playing paladins and good clerics on the few occasions I do get a chance to play D&D (or Pathfinder, I suppose). Part of it is that I don’t really mind being healer/buffer and letting everyone else do the damage. There are a few people in my regular tabletop RPing group who feel the need to be the high-damage powerhouses, so I don’t mind them taking all the attention in combat. Besides, if that subconsciously primes the GM to think that I deserve more “spotlight” outside of combat, all the better. But the other part is that I really don’t like playing the bad guy. My perverse fantasies aside, at the RPG table I prefer to be the paragon. Even in games like Vampire or Dark Heresy where you’re not really a “good guy”, I prefer characters who aspire to some kind of higher ideal.
The reason why I’m telling you all this is because when it comes to paladins, I know my shit. And I care about what being a paladin means.
So, what does it mean for Harem Collector?
There are four orders of paladins in the HC world, each devoted to being an exemplar of a single Angel’s virtues. Rather than priests, who are there to tend to the faithful, convert others, and protect individual communities, the paladins are meant to lead by example. They are not always successful in this, of course- those wacky paladins sure do make a big deal out of falling from grace- but their primary duty, even before the smiting of evil and whatnot, is to guide others by doing.
The largest order devotes themselves to the Angel of Law and Justice. As they serve the only male Angel, the order itself has a disproportionate number of men in it. This leads to rumours that the Law and Justice paladins are more than a little sex-deprived and repressed. At least that’s the stereotype, unless the paladin in question is a confirmed bachelor. Which does happen- more than a few paladins of this order joined for the opportunity to meet other men in a cloistered setting. More than a few of the female paladins of this order joined for the yaoi. Sex lives of the faithful aside, they mostly go about serving Angelic justice and enforcing Angelic law, which often takes the form of vigilantism, kangaroo courts, and trial by popular opinion. Hey, nobody said that being a paladin made you perfect.
The next largest order serves the Angel of Light and Mercy, who are basically classic paladins straight out of a PHB. Therese’s order is the one most often found joining adventuring parties and actually being active in the world- as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this order means “Light” in the “taken into dark places” sense of the word. They take it upon themselves to protect the common folk, heal the sick, and generally be all-around good people. However, they are badly decentralized- they rarely gather in force and when they do in tends to be whoever happens to be at the order hall that week.
Third largest is the Order of Loyalty and Service. These are the least paladin-like paladins- because they usually end up swearing to some individual or organization that they find worthy, they often don’t end up out in the world, smiting evil and kissing babies. However, their oaths are no absolute- loyalty is a two-way street and someone who begins to act in an unworthy manner will find their paladin buddies deserting them. There are plenty of folktales involving a paladin of this order discovering that their “master” is corrupt somehow and betraying them, only to turn themselves in to their own order out of shame for such abject betrayal.
The smallest order is the one who follows the Angel of Peace and Comfort. The rare few individuals who find themselves dedicated to the least popular Angel become expert undead hunters, to grant the final peace and comfort of the grave to the unquiet dead. This is the only order not to have a tower at the Middle Kingdom citadel outside Westcastle, as the local paladins of this Order are too few to make much of a political impact. Luckily, their buddies at the Order of Light and Mercy are happy to provide space, as the two orders tend to get along famously.
It’s popularly thought that paladins must be celibate, but this is not the case. Of these orders, only the Order of Loyalty and Service demands celibacy, preaching that in order to devote themselves fully they cannot dilute their attention with lovers. Promiscuity is frowned upon, however, and marriage is rare. Masturbation is thought to be selfish- which is why a certain someone decided to go into hiding to cleanse herself of impure thoughts- and making use of prostitutes is strictly forbidden.
So why Therese keeps her powers after she is captured should be clear. She’s not actually breaking any of the rules of her order, as long as she still attempts to be an example to her peers. And by serving the Hero and exerting what little influence she can gain over him, well, that could be interpreted as taking a candle into a dark place as well. Maybe one day, she can goad him into being a Hero in a less ironic way.