Once there was a Paladin—a paradigm, an example, a Hero—who sought a single object of Magic in order to fulfill his life.
Now, Paladins have but one problem. They must stay strictly Good throughout their lives, despite the fact that achieving ‘goodness’ is a philosophical problem which has confounded every sage and philosopher for the past five thousand years.
Also, they are only allowed a small amount of armour and weapons.
Also, they’re often jerks.
Also, I think that might be more than one problem. I possibly lost count.
At any rate, this Paladin had a problem, because his parents were slain by a robber on the streets of Gotham, and…
…just kidding. Batman isn’t a Paladin; he’s a Villain, just like you and I.
No, this Paladin had a great problem: he sought a mighty artifact. If you’re not familiar with this Paladin’s world, it was a “Helm of Opposite Alignment”. This thing existed because the Great God Gygax decided, in His infinite wisdom, that it would be interesting for some people to put on hats and immediately switch sides in the Great Celestial War. Good would become Evil, Evil would become Good, Broccoli would become Bacon, Bacon would become brussels sprouts… you know, all the logical opposites.
You see, Paladins have superpowers…but only as long as they are paragons of virtue. Once a Paladin commits some act of Evil, that paladin loses all powers, and also becomes really, really sad. Technically, the latter isn’t required, but in general, it’s what happens.
And this Paladin had a problem. Because, while (as mentioned earlier) he was not Batman, his family had been wronged by a rival family, and he wanted revenge.
He knew he needed the powers of a Paladin, but he knew that revenge would be Evil. Fortunately, this Helm was so mind-bogglingly frustrating as an object of existential magic that he could turn evil while wearing the Helm, do the evil deed, remove the Helm, and repent.
And so he slew all those who had harmed the people he loved, and removed the Helmet, and stopped being Evil.
…except for that last part. That last part didn’t happen.
He did not return to being Good. He did not repent.
So he flung himself to his knees (which, fortunately, were protected by magical greaves, such that he didn’t actually damage them in so doing)–and he shouted up to the Gods: “WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?”
Then a cute and magical Fairy appeared. “Silly Knight,” she said. “You didn’t need a Helm to be Evil. Evil was inside you all along!”
Much relieved, the Knight threw the Fairy a tea party. The tea was poisoned, but the Fairy was used to that, and so everyone lived happily ever after, except for all the people a Paladin could murder if a Paladin could commit murders, which, it turns out, is a number far larger than the amount of wood any woodchuck could chuck.
I forget the moral of this story.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction.. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, pre-order “I HATE Your Prophecy“. It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.