Monday, September 30, 2013

The Wizard In Melee: A Introretrospeculative

Times they have a chang-ed.  It seems the current opinion amongst gamers is that the wizard should by no means be allowed to be involved in melee combat.  Indeed this is not completely illogical when you consider the extremely poor combat profile of the modern wizard.  How did this come to pass?  Was it the developers of the games that brought the wizard to this low point or was it the attitudes of the players?
Probably it was both.  I would go so far as to say definitely.
You brought this on yourselves, but it didn't have to be that way.  Not at all.
Journey with me to the 1974 and "where it all began" and see why a wizard should certainly be allowed to hold his own in a melee.

The first game, Dungeons and Dragons, was born from tabletop wargaming, which is very abstract in its idea of combat.  While the figures are moved and put into combat routines, they are static, thus the swing of the sword, the clash against the shield, the flight of the arrows is not seen but is understood.  When that tabletop wargame added fantasy rules wizards entered the field of battle in the manner of their literary forebears, legendary spell casters such as Gandalf and Merlin.  We all know that Gandalf swung a sword with the best of them and fought in bloody melees, so why not also the wizards of Chainmail.  In this abstract combat world it mattered little if the wizard was swinging a staff or blasting away with an eldritch bolt, you rolled your dice, consulted the matrix and that orc went down screaming.  
When the shift was made to RPG and D&D was born the mighty units of the Chainmail army were modified and given a scaling level system to allow for development and improvement through play.  No longer was a wizard a unit with a selection of spells to cast at will for the duration of a single battle.  Now the wizard, and his companions the fighter, the cleric and eventually the thief, had to contend with long term, indefinite adventures and dungeon delves that might last days in game world time.  A new rule was created restricting the number of spells the wizard had available to him based on levels and days.  Further it had to be clearly determined what sort of weapons he could carry and how well he could fight.  Using the combat matrix from Chainmail the wizard fought as a man but at 2nd level he fought as a man+1.  Thus a neophyte wizard was as good as any normal man and soon better and eventually much, much better.  He'd never be a superhero level combatant like his stout fighter companions but he would have magic to compensate for that.
Not that I think you are unable to grasp this but for comparison the fighter started at man+1, which means that he was a cut above a normal man in terms of his combat.  The +1 in D&D equals 5%, so with man+1 combat and 1D6+1 hit dice it is like saying that a neophyte hero is 105% of a normal man.
Now for weapons our wizard could use only a dagger, but that was okay because originally all weapons did the same damage.  I've said it before but it must be repeated here: 1 spell per day at first level!
With only 1 spell at his disposal and the ability to fight as well as any unarmored man the wizard was obviously not only expected to engage in melee, he had a solid chance of surviving and killing his foes.
Then shit changed.  Over the intervening years the wizard saw his hit dice drop and everyone else's get better.  He saw a change in weapon damage such that daggers and staves, his only options, were pitiful in their damage output and all the monsters got tougher too.
By the 2nd edition of AD&D the poor neophyte 1st level mage had 1D4 hit points, 1 weapon choice (dagger, staff, sling, dart) and of course,  1 spell per day at first level!
By comparison a normal person (0 level human) had 1D8 hit points, could use a sword, could wear some armor and had the same base chance to hit as any 1st level "hero" (20 on a 1d20 or 5%).  So effectively an apprentice wizard would get his ass kicked by a farmer, a blacksmith, a tax collector, a bar maid, your grandmother...the list is endless.  With only 1 spell available to him, and with the only damage spell doing, at best 5 points of damage, the wizard had no choice but to engage in melee combat, yet his survival was not likely.  This leads to players standing way in the back in conflicts and throwing the weapon known as a dart (think yard darts, not pub darts).  Sure, if he happened to find a wand or something he could certainly attack that way, but we are looking at base chances here, not the Monty Haul DM output.
Fast forward to the MMORPG era.  As RPGs developed popularity many options existed outside of the original game, such as GURPS, Vampire the Masquerade, MERPS, and too many for me to list here.  Each game varied in content and concept, but fantasy genre seemed to be the most prevalent and each fantasy genre game determined its own wizard rules.  You had spell point games where a wizard could cast as many times as he had points to power his spells, you had generic games where the player could build his character any way he liked with no class restrictions and thus you could have a melee combat savvy and survivable wizard, and you had games that were solely focused on magic users and thus ran the gamut of wizard possibilities.  It seemed that there was a surfeit of developers and players who could see a wizard in melee.  There were also plenty of games with opportunities for a wizard to never enter melee.  Yet for all of this the venerable grandfather of RPG, D&D, was still forcing the wizard into melee through lack of spells and simultaneously handicapping the mage's any chance of survival in said melee, much less success.  The MMORPG had to deal with a very different problem.  The old spell points and 1 spell per day simply did not work in the MMO environment which was persistent.  Monsters had to "respawn" to give all players an environmental challenge.  Options were limited by programming and UI space.  As a result players needed, and indeed expected, to be able to cast spells at will.  Developers responded in differing ways including regenerating spell points and minor attack spells that required no power at all.  The gamer mindset is hard to fathom at times.  The wizard players expected something called "balance".  In essence they wanted their spells to be the equal of the warriors' swords and the warriors wanted their swords to be the equal of wizards' spells.  
The traditional balance of the tabletop had been that the wizard started in a weak position and ended strong while warriors started strong and advanced by small degrees to end strong.  To illustrate look at Magic Missile, a spell that does 1d4+1 points of damage.  You know, once per day.  A long sword does 1d8 points of damage, all day, as much as you swing it.  When the wizard reaches 5th level and can finally cast the suspiciously famous "Fireball" it will do 5d6 points of damage (and increase each level until it caps at 10d6) but the long sword will still be doing only 1d8 points of damage.  Mind you, the warrior can probably hit more often now, including multiple attacks in a round but the classic Fireball is an area of effect attack with massive damage and at 5th level 1 TIME PER DAY.  At 20th level the warrior has tons of hit points and magic swords and can attack multiple times a round and the wizard?  The wizard can send you away to some dark dimension from which there is no escaping in a puff of smoke.  There's your balance.
That doesn't work for MMOs.  As a result the development led to wizards having scaling fireballs, essentially.  A tiny little flare at 1st level that does damage comparable to the warrior's sword.  Then as he leveled the fireball leveled with him.  Well that's not fair to warriors so the warrior gets access to long swords that increase in damage as well.  Can the wizard melee?  Depends on the game, but if he can he is quickly killed due to the logic of the balance.  His stick just doesn't hurt anything, he has no armor and no hit points.  Down he goes should any monster or PVP player get within stabby range.  The trade off for throwing fire at things is apparently that the things are all made of asbestos.
It's not right.  Dammit IT IS NOT RIGHT!  For all of its flaws the venerable DnD at least once understood the nature of the wizard.  It's FANTASY not REALITY.  It's GANDALF, DAMMIT!  

Or it is supposed to be.  
Melee is the default combat.  You don't need a room of 1001 orcs either.  Make the combats meaningful each time instead of throwing monster after monster at the party.  Yes, I am suggesting quality over quantity.  This is nigh impossible in an MMO due to the nature of the persistent shared world.  Instanced play solves this problem to some degree.  What can't be solved is the problem of player perception.  Wizard shoots fireballs.  Warrior hits with sword.  That's the way it has to be.  None of this would be a problem if wizards stood a snowball's chance in Hell in a melee, but they just don't for the most part.  They wouldn't have to do if the original rules had not handicapped their spells, but then the original rules were written by dudes that understood the essence of magic.  Magic is mysterious, complex and miraculous.  Magic is not for nuking but for opening the rune-locked door.  Magic if for lighting the way deep underground when even torches cannot pierce the darkness.  Magic is a wonderful tool not a laser gun.  Dare I say it?  Magic is convincing Stormtroopers that these are not the droids they are looking for to avoid melee.  
As it stands today I have a wizard in Neverwinter that fights with a ball.  A ball floating beside his head.  He has 0 melee.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  He just runs around shooting magic missiles and casting the same 4 spells constantly.  I find this offensive and unfulfilling, but then most MMO wizards are to me.  
Now if your logic is working you might say, "But, Punk, the original wizard had to engage in melee because he only had a precious handful of spells per day.  If he was able to cast spells all the time as his 'weapon' he would certainly have done so.  Thus your complaint is unfounded."
I thought of that.  I promise that I did.  I could accept that save that it destroys the essential magicness of magic.  If magic is just another raygun then it lacks that essential magical quality.  No, I'm afraid you have to go back to tabletop for that experience and you have to go back far enough that the wizard stands a reasonable chance of melee survival.  You have to stop thinking of the wizard as a wussy in a dress that serves a "role" in the party and start thinking of him as a person that controls fundamental forces beyond the ken of normal men, but is still, for all that, a mortal man.  This distorted notion of balance is the problem and it can't be fixed in an MMO, I'm afraid.

Yeah, I realize this is just griping on my part, but this crap bugs me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Some Interesting Facts About Pumpkins

As October draws ever closer and the Halloween season with it, I feel it would be helpful to offer a few interesting facts about that ubiquitous symbol of Halloween, the humble pumpkin.

1. Pumpkins are a New World form of vegetable life.  They did not exist in Europe prior to white folks coming to the New World which is why Irish people carved jack o' lanterns out of turnips rutabagas.

2. The natives of North America taught the primarily ignorant and smelly (they didn't bathe regularly) Europeans how to cultivate the pumpkin and it rapidly became an important crop for the invaders visitors.

3. Colonial Americans made pumpkin pies by filling pumpkin shells, not by putting pureed pumpkin into a pie crust.

4. The Eastern tribes, among them the Powhatan, the Mohawk, and the Objibwe used the pumpkin as a form of legal currency.

5. Pumpkins like to be cut from their life giving vines, have their insides scooped out and their skins carved into interesting faces, revealing the spirit being inside.

6. Pumpkins are naturally poisonous and should not be eaten.

7. Many cultures believe pumpkins to be the lost souls of the damned.  They are half right.

8. Pumpkins are not, in fact, vegetables.  Pumpkins are an alien life form sent to earth to prepare for an invasion.  Due to a miscalculation on the part of the alien overlords, earth soil robs pumpkins of their ability to gain sentience and overtake our puny meat life forms.  Except for rare Halloweens when the moon is full and Saturn is in retrograde.

9. George Washington had false teeth made out of pumpkin seeds.

10. H.P. Lovecraft's first draft of "The Call of Cthulhu" described Cthulhu as, "A thing like a pumpkin with stubby bat wings and a mass of vine tendrils hanging from the cucurboid face."  He later discarded this version when Chaosium said it was too frightening for an RPG to be successful.

11.  Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip Peanuts, was once savaged by a mysterious attacker in a pumpkin patch.  Despite the official police report reading "vagrant or hobo" Schulz always maintained privately that is was the pumpkins themselves that attacked him.  He would often then laugh this off to avoid social stigma, but it cannot be ignored that Mr. Schulz was never seen to enjoy pumpkin pie, often excusing himself from the Thanksgiving dinner table before dessert was served.

12. During the famous 1692-93 Salem witch trials in Danvers, Massachusetts, one accused, Goodey Lisa, admitted under examination that her familiar was a "car-ved pompkin by the name of Skiddlescrote" and further attested that she did cavort with the Devil on Shrove Tuesday and he appeared, " the form of a large green leafy man with a pompkin for a head and an exceptionally large member."  It was also noted that he had a speech impediment very like Hamish "Iron Rod" MacTavish, the village blacksmith.  Cotton Mather called the pumpkin the "Devil's fruit, spawned from the fetid and yeasty crotch of the evil one himself" and further recommended the destruction of all pumpkins and pumpkin patches.

13. A pumpkin invented the electric car but greedy oil companies squashed the patent application to keep the people tied to petroleum products.
Another quality article brought to you by the Celtic Pumpkin
I hope you have been enlightened by these interesting facts about our favorite cucurbit.

Keep those pumpkins lit.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

See, now this is what happens...

Here it is 22nd of September, the first official day of Autumn and what is going on?
There is a lovely overcast day outside my house.  The cloud cover gives everything a uniform light that is not bright nor dark, unlike cloudless sunshiny days where you have light and dark spots all around.  The temperature is cool, well not quite cool, but definitely not hot anymore, which is nice.
A light breeze is blowing and it is wet from last night's rain.
On this great Autumn opener my mind should be filled with the Autumnal thoughts that lead to Halloween and the great feast in November.  
And yet this is not the case.  What is going on in my mind?  A jumbled, disjointed set of half-thoughts:
My coffee could be better

This can't be a good sign.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brownie Pumpkins

Yesterday I purchased a box of Little Debbie's Brownie Pumpkins, shown below:

They are new this 2013 Halloween season.  Last year we say Brownie Bats, which are the normal LD brownies sans nuts but cut into bat shapes with a chocolate icing stamped with bat features.  The Brownie Pumpkins are similar to the Bats in that they are the usual brownie sans nuts but cut into pumpkinesque shapes and decorated with an orange colored stamped icing.  The previous years' fall harvest brownies (with multicolored bits) have not appeared.  I've also seen fall versions of the classic Tree Cakes so popular at Yuletide.
TASTE: They are good, as they are LD brownies.  The icing is merely orange colored, having no orange flavoring.
APPEARANCE: As you can see above, they look like jack o' lanterns, and that's a winner in my book.
PRICE VALUE: You get 5 per box and my local Food Lion sells a box for about $1.69 right now.  That's not bad.
COMPONENTS: While tasty and fun, these Brownie Pumpkins are unsuitable to use as a material component in any spells that normally call for pumpkin or the souls of the damned.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pre-decoration check

Today in Chesapeake it seemed like Fall was on its way in.  The temperature did not rise above 75 degrees Fahrenheit anywhere I went, there was a mild breeze and bright skies.  After a pleasant trip about town, including a trip to the Macdonald Garden Center, where their Autumnal offerings were somewhat Spartan, I entered the attic to bring down the decorations.
The attic is a bloody oven.  A mild 75 outside it may be, but stand in the attic for about one minute and sweat begins to drip from every pore.
I'm saying it is hot.  Summer beach hot.

But I got them down.  Boxes upon boxes and bags and things that don't fit into either.

Then I thought I'd try New Belgium's seasonal Pumpkick ale, as I had never tried it before.

I am failing to detect the notes of cranberry or the spices the label boldly claims are in this ale.  While not bad as an ale, I don't enjoy it enough to make it my seasonal brew.  I'm not loving it, you could say.
Pic property of New Belgium brewing
The reviews from two online sites, one of which is Beer Advocate, give Pumpkick a definate OKAY.  Most reviewers describe it in glowing terms of "nothing special" and I agree.  I did so love Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale from AB, and sadly that is gone never to return as far as anyone knows.  The label intrigues, and that is cool but one must taste a beer to know if it is worth the bucks.  I would not invest in a six pack of Pumpkick.  Beer packaging is an art form all its own these days with microbrews competing in areas aside from taste and price, indeed with the price point of microbrews being well above the price point of old standbys like Miller or PBR, the point of which seems to be to get drunk, the microbrews and craft beers are an overall drinking experience and much as a beer ad for Miller 64 seems to be selling a lifestyle, craft and micros seem to be selling an indie experience in alcoholic potables.  I wanted to say potation, but that is not a word.  Unless we all start using it and then it can be a word.  Join with me, won't you, in making potation a word.*  That said, the label does a decent job of attracting attention and indeed it did so with me.  It made me read it, and it was then that I noticed it was a pumpkin ale with spices and cranberries.  So I did not purchase said ale for the label (I have in the past, I admit it) but the label did make me look twice at the ale.

I did have a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks for breakfast, however, so at least something upheld its claims.

I potate
You potate
He/She/It potates
We potate
You (pl) potate
They potate
First person singular past- potated
Future Perfect- I will have potated this beer by the time you read this post.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Countdown to Halloween 2013

Got my 2013 badge proudly displayed.
I am loving this year's theme of the monster cereals and especially the classic monsters vice the new updated characters.
I chose Fruit Brute.
Of course I did.

Looking forward to seeing what my fellow Cryptkeepers post this year.

Let's get those pumpkins lit!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weird Cowboys and Sichlike

I like cowboys and I like horror so it should come as no surprise to find out I like Weird Western genre.  Of particular interest to me of late is a tabletop miniatures wargame called Malifaux that, while not Weird Western itself, does have Weird West elements within it along with fantasy, horror, magic and steampunk.
Malifaux, produced by a Georgia company called Wyrd (Deep South represent), is notable for having a cool setting and a fantastic range of models.  I am enamored with a particular set of models that go by the name of Death Marshals.
Two views of the Death Marshals.  Jumpy guy just mystifies me.
The Death Marshals are minions of Lady Justice of the Guild faction, the de facto LAW in Malifaux.  As minions they are not super powerful in game terms, but as a concept they are 13 flavors of badass.  A troop of cowboy warriors trained to fight necromancers, the Death Marshals serve Lady Justice with their Peacebringer guns and by dragging a coffin full of blue-green flames into which they put their foes for a long nap.
With Malifaux's 2nd edition slated for an October release we will see new models of old favorites so I'd like to take this chance to look closer at the Death Marshals of both editions.
Close up view.  Notice the gun, that becomes important in a minute.  The blue flames are quite nice as well.

The 1st Edition Death Marshals are gaunt men who study the necromantic arts in order to better fight necromancers, but are forbidden to use the magic of death themselves.  As a result they become altered physically and hide their pallid and drawn complexions under wide brimmed hats and high collared long coats.  Their Peacebringer guns (also used by the Guild gunslinging Ortega family) are actually taken directly from the signature weapons of the Darkwatch in the video game Darkwatch.  Darkwatch, you might recall, is the tale of western gunman turned vampiric vampire hunter Jericho Cross.  You can see the guns he is holding below.
Look closely at the guns...then look up at the Death Marshal again.

In fact, the Death Marshals resemble Jericho Cross, and thus the Darkwatch, in several ways just looking at the picture.  Both the Darkwatch issue pistols and the Peacebringer pistols have a curved blade at the base of the gun's grip that is used for close combat to decent effect.  It certainly looked cool in the game.

The early look at the 2e Malifaux Death Marshals provides a significant change in their iconic look.

Now we see less ornamentation in the costume, a plainer look, but the accent of chains wrapped around the forearms provides a darker more punk look and note also that the hands are now covered completely by gloves where before they were visible or bandaged.  I suspect this is due to the obvious difference in the only visible portion of the body, the head.  Where before we had pallid, drawn human faces we now have blue flame skulls a la Ghost Rider.
That's pretty badass.  The Peacebringer guns have changed as well.  Still a gun with a melee component the subtle blade on the grip has been replaced by a large blade directly beneath the barrel.  That looks familiar.  Where have I seen that before?

Hangin' Judge mini appears courtesy of Reaper Miniatures website
Oh yes, Deadlands.  The iconic Hangin' Judges, a monster famed to Deadlands fans and players, carry mystical six-shooters with huge blades on them.  So we have moved from a fairly obvious (to me anyway) homage of Darkwatch to more of a generalized mystical cowboy wraith concept with a shout out to THE original Weird Western RPG.
Undead gunslinger, also from Reaper's Deadlands line, go to Reaper's website and check 'em out.
Skeletal cowboys are cool anyway, so I can't help but like this new look.  I have long been a fan of the Soul Rangers of the video board game Atmosfear and was known, when I played, for not minding if I got stuck as one.  Perhaps it is the mystique of the Old Wild Weird West, the notion of parched desert badlands with a longhorn skull sitting half buried in the dust that makes the skeletal cowboy such an intriguing image to me.  Either that or I have not outgrown my initial loves of age 8.  Works either way, really.
The three Soul Rangers from the Atmosfear VHS board game.  These pleasant fellows provide the instructional demo at the beginning of the tape.  It's worth watching just for these guys.  They did get their own game some time after Atmosfear was released.  They live in a sewer, drive motorcycles and steal souls.  It's a living.
With no information to go on aside from a picture and the 1st edition Death Marshals, I am going to surmise that exposure to the forbidden knowledge and the blue flames of the coffins they carry around has turned these human warriors into something more.  Perhaps they are now literally burning with the power they seek to contain as they fight against the evil forces of necromancy.  So while I like the original Death Marshals in concept, these new sculpts are just too much akin to my tastes for skulls and cowboys not to love.

And indeed they remind me of my favorite character from the defunct Chaos Comics universe: Bedlam.
"Remember kids, smoking is bad for you...unless you are some sort of skull faced undead Native 'Merican cowboy time traveler."
While I will probably never play Malifaux (I just can't invest that kind of money in a game, nor time for painting) I do admire these characters and the models and I can always decorate my desktop with the images.

Keep your weeds a tumblin', pards.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Righteous Fury and a Foot to the Balls

Back when things were awesome, not too long before they were totally rad but definitely after they were groovy there was a new thing called the RPG and unto this game the Paladin, destined to be abused by players and GMs alike for decades to come.
Now in those halcyon days before the MMORPG darkened the land with the grind and the daily quest and the false unbalanced economy the game was simpler, purer, more free-form and vibrant.  Classes were not a collection of special abilities gained at every level and an exhaustive list of skills to determine every little thing the character could do up to and including pass gas and blame it on the worg.  Oh no, the player was expected to do some thinking, some rolling and actually have fun with it.  When the paladin class was introduced it was clear to everyone that he was a chivalrous knight, not a holy warrior, and although he had some pretty neat abilities they were second to his main identity of a warrior for the side of good.

And then shit changed.

Other games had paladins too, but each game seemed to treat the virtuous warrior differently.  Some games and gamers seek to reduce everything to pure mechanics.  An unfortunate result of this is considering paladins to be a hybrid class of Fighter and Cleric.  Well that's just silly.  The Cleric was always intended as the hybrid of pure Fighter and pure Caster (Magic User).  Another unfortunate trend was viewing the paladin as a Holy Warrior.  There is a serious problem with that.  The Cleric is a Holy Warrior.  The cleric is a devoted servant of a god advancing the aims of the god or religion to which he belongs.  Of course today a cleric is a just a healing battery, but that's me griping about a whole other problem.  The paladin was not intended to be seen as the holy warrior and yet trends being what they are...

These days he gets zero respect.  A tank, a defender, a half-assed healer, he is assumed to be perfectly suited for fighting the undead, but honestly he is good at fighting evil and undead are evil by default.  He probably never should have gotten Turn Undead abilities.  I'm fine with the laying on of hands and I did like the smite added in 3.x editions, but the thing about playing the paladin is you are supposed to fight evil, do good (good deeds are the meat and drink of a Gary told us), and defend your companions through your own strength, not a bunch of lame powers.  In many games paladins suffer from the ultimate horror of equality of outcomes thinking: Game Balance.  In keeping with the hive mentality of social insects that is Game Balance, each class must fill a role for their equal share of the loot and XP.  Each class is to be good at 1 thing.  A hybrid class often suffers from taking elements from 2 or more roles and then being forced into fulfilling 1 role.  The meager healing abilities of the paladin make him unsuitable as a healer role but detract from putting everything into the defender (tank) role.  Of course under modern Game Balance theory a warrior with a weapon should by no means be allowed to deal damage.  Where does this leave our faithful chivalrous warrior?  Out in the proverbial cold, that's where.

A change in attitude:
And then the 4th Edition did come and with it devastation.  The paladin was doomed to become a simple Holy Warrior, no longer a shining ideal of chivalry and martial supremacy.  Gone was the heroic fighter replaced by some token representative of a god.  It was a dark time indeed.

But we do not have to see the paladin that way.  Oh no.  There are other ways to view this archetype that are far more rewarding to the player.  First we need only stop worrying about Game Balance.  We don't need everyone to have the same abilities, or even equal abilities.  Complimentary abilities make for a better group with elements of the group supporting the weaknesses and strengths of other elements.
We can look at other ways of playing and thinking.  We can look at Solomon Kane!

When people think of paladins they think of heavy armor, shields, some holy powers but they might have forgotten that a character is more than a set of abilities and some numbers on a page.  A character is the avatar of the player in the game.  What makes the character is character, personality, the little bits and bobs that don't show up on the character sheet and aren't expressed mathematically.  You want to play a noble?  Great.  Be haughty, treat peasants as not there when you have no need of them, tip heavily, pay too much for goods just to get them from the "right" merchant and so on.  If you are playing well and you have a good GM it should all work out.  The GM should have people behave toward you as though you were that noble.  Similarly your paladin need not be clad in plate armor and carry a shield.  He's a knight, really, so if you are playing in a later era make him into a cavalry officer with pistol and sabre.  It comes down to how you play it, really.  PCs often do what is expedient, but that's not good roleplaying.  Try to play how the character would play not how you would play.  Or heck, just don't play modern games.  Play older games where role playing is not of the highest importance and use your noodle.  Nothing says a fighter can't be clever or a wizard is a brilliant tactician.  I recall a character with whom  I adventured, Lank Manly, Handsome Noble.  My buddy John played this particular bastard of a priest of Loki and he really seemed to enjoy the character.  I call him a bastard because he poisoned an entire dinner party, including my psionicist, for the sake of role playing.  That's good fun.  It wasn't then, but looking back it was well played.
Do you need a new class to play?  Play an existing class but personalize it.  You can look at the paladin in the old way, as a chivalrous knight fighting against the forces of evil rather than a tank or secondary healer or useless twat.  Wear light armor and carry a rapier, it doesn't make you any less paladin.  Forego all magic spells (an annoying addition of later editions) and fight for justice with steel and faith and courage!  And a saving throw bonus, obviously.
Just so long as we don't have to suffer under this annoying post MMO view of paladins anymore I'm happy.