Packing for a Paladin

September 19th, 2016


Something that came up a while back in a random 4chan thread, I found some notes while tidying up. What should a lady paladin take with her on a week-long excusrion?

Starting Equipment

Firstly we must consider equipment and resources already at hand1:

  • My arming sword Beatrix
  • My iron-rimmed oaken shield
  • Stout leather gauntlets 2
  • Bassinet2
  • Maille hauberk2
  • Gambeson2
  • Five javelins
  • A wooden holy symbol issued by my holy order
  • Backpack3
  • Bedroll3
  • Mess kit3
  • Tinderbox3
  • 10 Torches3
  • 10 days’ rations3
  • Waterskin3
  • 50′ Hempen rope3
  • A lacquered rosary the Sisters left with me when I was given over to my holy order4. I think it was my mother’s.
  • Book of Common Prayers4
  • 5 sticks of incense4
  • My habit4 (tunic, scapular, belt, underskirts, shoes)
  • My work clothes4 (dress, apron, belt, underskirts, hat, boots)
  • A velvet purse4
  • 15 gold crowns4

Altogether this leaves my backpack bursting at the seams. It can only hold 30 pounds, and the food and torches alone leave no room for the rest of my things. Clearly we will have to trim things down to something more workable.


Additional Items

Additional items to consider, reflecting outside suggestions:

  • Iron cooking pot
  • An extendible pole
  • Knife
  • Ball bearings (bag of 1,000)
  • Lamp
  • Flask of oil
  • Bag of 20 caltrops
  • Block and tackle
  • Whetstone
  • Fishing tackle
  • Weaver’s tools
  • Robes (poncho)
  • Healer’s Kit
  • Disguise kit

The mess kit is usable as a small cooking pot or pan. Enough for rice, beans or stew. A proper iron pot is ten pounds, bringing us back to the concern about luggage weight. Obviously I can pack smaller items inside it, so space isn’t the issue. I strongly prefer restaurants to camp cooking, but cooking and eating group meals could be nice for teambuilding and forging common bonds with my fellow travelers.

The commissary doesn’t have any collapsible or extendable poles in stock5. Lugging around a ten-foot stick doesn’t strike me as practical. Maybe a sturdy whittling knife would pack better?

Also at the commissary they didn’t have marbles as such5. The clerk directed me to maintenance, where they had two pounds of ball bearings for one gold crown. The custodian said he’d give me a drawstring bag to hold them in, so I figured it was a good deal.

Torches are bulky, smokey, and somewhat low-class. The kind of thing you’d associate with mobs of peasants, not crusading holy warriors. A simple lamp and some oil can do the trick.

While I was in maintenance I was able to get the custodian to put together a couple pounds of nails into caltrops. He was super-helpful.

The Block & Tackle is a bit bulky at five pounds. I’ll try to fit it in.

A whetstone! How did I forget? I must keep Beatrix properly honed, after all.

Somebody suggested a net. A net reminds me of fishing down by the lake. I’ll add some fishing tackle to the list. It’s about four pounds all together, but such a great way to spend a morning away from the hustle and bustle.

Trip wire and a garrote? Two points: first, what kind of paladin do you think I am? Second, shouldn’t these be one item? A spindle of sewing thread can replace the tripwire and raise far fewer awkward questions at Customs & Immigration than a garrote I won’t use. Thanks for bringing up the needle & thread, by the way. You never know when a minor alteration or repair will be necessary! At the commissary they had a box labeled “weaver’s tools.” I was assured it had everything I needed for such things.

For a rain cloak I got a hooded poncho. It cost as much as a full robe, but the baja pattern seems appropriate for the destination. It’s also a bit bulky. I can’t wait for somebody to invent plastic.

I’m going to skip on the medicine kit. They didn’t have one available and the box labeled “herbalism kit” was full of things I didn’t know what to do with. Oh look, a little white and red box labeled “Healer’s Kit.” Sounds useful.

It turns out that a disguise kit is way outside my budget, so that can’t make the cut.

All together I’m looking at having one gold crown and change (three silver shields, nine copper galleys to be exact) in spending money for a week. Assuming I’m wearing my armor and carrying my weapons my luggage is going to weigh almost 111 pounds. I’d need to buy another three backpacks or lug around a steamer trunk. The heaviest items, far and away, are the rations and the cooking pot. Ditching those gets me down to two backpacks worth of equipment. Should I leave my vestments back at the convent? I feel like I may have to represent the order from time to time and I don’t want to hurt our reputation. Purchasing a chest to carry the excess will bust the budget, at five gold crowns.


Dialing it In

The javelins just aren’t my thing. They don’t carry well, they bang into things, and are just generally a nuisance to have around. They don’t make the cut. The rest of the martial gear comes along, of course.  The hempen rope and trail rations are a bit much, and the torches have many of the same problems as the javelins plus they’re sticky. Cut down to a little trail mix to keep my blood sugar up, cut the rest of that bulk. The knife, lamp, oil, and whetstone are all super-great suggestions that are affordable, compact, and totally useful. Taking all of this into account this leaves me with:

  • My arming sword Beatrix
  • Iron-rimmed oaken shield
  • Stout leather gauntlets
  • Bassinet
  • Maille hauberk
  • Gambeson
  • Wooden holy symbol
  • Backpack
  • Bedroll
  • Mess kit
  • Tinderbox
  • 3 days’ rations
  • Waterskin
  • Mom’s rosary
  • Book of Common Prayers
  • 5 sticks of incense
  • Habit (tunic, scapular, belt, underskirts, shoes)
  • Work clothes (dress, apron, belt, underskirts, hat, boots)
  • Knife
  • Lamp
  • Oil (flask)
  • Whetstone
  • Velvet purse
  • 11 gold crowns, 8 silver shields, 9 copper kettles in walking-around money.
With the bedroll and waterskin tied to the outside, my backpack is a little over half-full. This leaves room for incidentals, souvenirs, and what-have-you. Including the armor, sword, and shield, I’m looking at carrying roughly 100 pounds. This is workable, if a bit inconvenient6.


1 – Equipment resulting from standard character creation in the Player’s Handbook for the Paladin class, Acolyte background
2 – Individual items that together constitute “chain mail” armor
3 – Individual items that together constitute an “explorer’s pack”
4 – Equipment resulting from the Acolyte background
5 – No such item in the PHB
6 – Assuming a Strength of 16, this paladin is well within her carrying capacity under normal rules, though encumbered under the variant rule. This would penalize her movement rate by 10′. Setting down her backpack would leave her fully unencumbered. This would also be true for any Strength attribute of 13, though that would be cutting things close. Chainmail is heavy.

The Responsibilities of the Powerful

November 19th, 2015


In light of all the talk about violence involving police officers recently, let’s fire up the way-back machine and look at what Ramon Llull had to say back in the 13th century about the people who were expected to wield the government’s monopoly on force:

“Item, office of knighthood is to maintain and defend widows, maidens, fatherless and motherless bairns, and poor miserable persons and pitiable, and to help the weak against the stark, and the pure against the rich; for oft-times sick folk are, by more stark than they, beaten and robbed, and their goods taken, and put to destruction and poverty, for fault of power and defence.

“For right as the hewing axe is ordained to cut down trees that hinder ploughing of lands, and carts and chariots and merchandises to pass through the forests, so is the sword of knighthood ordained to cut away and destroy the wicked unworthy weeds and vines of thorns of evil men that hinders labourers, merchants, traitors to travel through the world which is as a forest and wilderness when it is not well tended; of the which evil men should be weeded out by knights, keepers of the law, that good men might live in shelter; and he that is a knight, and does not this, but does even the contrary, should be taken by the prince, or by other worthy, faithful, and honourable knights, and put till dead.

“For when a knight is a reaver, or a thief, or a traitor or a murderer, or a lollard, schismatic or heretic, or in such crimes openly known and proved, then he is unworthy to live, but to be punished in example of others that defoul that most noble and worthy order and abuse it against the points and the properties of that order.”

Hat tip to Gilbert of Hay by way of False Machine for the translation.

This all predates the Lockean notion of the social contract, but strikes me as largely compatible with it. Society-in-general delegates a portion of its collective power to a few individuals who in turn promise to shoulder a greater portion of society’s responsibilities. That nice strong man in blue is supposed to protect those who cannot protect themselves. If he takes to beating and robbing the people, taking their goods and destroying their property, it is of paramount importance that the other men in blue stop him, that they publicly stop him, punish him, and show that the public’s trust is well-placed. Otherwise the social contract is in breach and the public must seek remedy.

EUIV: Anno Domini 1500

August 25th, 2015

Part of an ongoing series on an ironman playthrough of Europa Universalis IV as the Papal States. 


In January of 1500, Pope Alexander VI has recently subjugated Candar and Ramazan, two Turkish territories bordering the Black Sea and the Mediterranean respectively. The Papal State’s holdings had expanded to include much of Tuscany, Romagnan lands up to an including Ferrara, and Northern Napoli.  The great bulk of this and previous Popes’ military and diplomatic efforts had been exerted primarily towards limiting and later eliminating the Ottoman juggernaut in the near East, establishing local vassals to peacefully administer the Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims native to those lands.  The Mamluks are a serious regional power, Wallachia is poised to pounce on Ottoman Bulgaria. Serbia is losing a war that will force them to spit out Ragusa, a thorn in their side that will become a serious problem in due time.


Looking North, we see that Denmark has incorporated Norway into its realm and annexed Riga. England has Scotland on the ropes, and has split the island of Ireland with Munster. Oldenburg and Nassau has acquitted themselves well, taking over Frisia and Münster. The Teutonic Order is in a pretty sorry state and not likely to maintain independence after its current war with Poland. The middle of the Holy Roman Empire is, as usual, an unqualified mess.


In Western Europe we see a familiar division between Portugal and Castile, with France having taken Catalonia from Aragon, and England maintaining multiple toeholds in the continent. Their war with France isn’t looking good at the moment, but the English lion will remain in Acquitaine and Normandy for some time to come. Austria has expanded its holdings from Sundgau up toward the Low Countries. What could possibly go wrong there? Brittany is not only still independent, but has taken Anjou and Maine from Provence.


To the Eastern extent of Alexander’s knowledge, Muscovy has run Novgorod into the ground and should be forming Russia in short order. Poland and Lithuania have been in a personal union for a while now, and will soon integrate into the Commonwealth, a proper superpower with the greatest manpower resources in the world, eclipsing even Ming China.