Probably the most significant NPCs for any game set in Waterdeep has to be the Lords.
I am going to talk about the D&D and Rolemaster levels and classes for some very significant NPCs so if you don’t want to know don’t read it.
We really have to start with Piergeiron. According to the City of Splendors source books he is 14th level or higher Paladin. So translating this into Rolemaster speak and you are looking at a 21st level character. That seems fitting as 20th level in Rolemaster is sometimes referred to as “Lord Level” so that was easy enough. Now the Paladin bit gives you a number of choices. The core rule books do not provide a Paladin class. The reason being that the flexible approach to character design does not really need to define every possibe flavour of possible PC. Now two of the Rolemaster Companions (Rolemaster Companion 1 & 2) do define the Paladin profession. General consensus seems to be that the Paladin profession is best reserved for a high powered campaign although I do not have a problem with them. The question is do we really need a Paladin class? There are three ways of creating a Paladin…
Option 1: Use the defined profession, problably from rolemaster companion 2, being the most balanced version.
Option 2: Use a cleric and spend more development points on the arms side and less on the magic.
Option 3: Create a fighter and invest in some slepp lists.
Options 2 & 3 require a slightly higher level of roleplaying as it would be very easy to abandon to the archetype of he Paladin and just buy the skills and spells etc that are the cheapest for the base profession.
In the game I am in the process of setting up I am not using the professions from the companions so option one is out any way so that only leaves me with 2 & 3 to play with.
For Piergeiron I am going down the route of the Cleric based Paladin. The only things I need to do is make sure I buy just enough Transcend Armour skill (a skill that allows the caster to overcome the penalties for wearing, in this case metal, armour and casting spells) so that our chap can wear his platemail and of course Platemail as a Maneuvering in Armour skill. Both of these skills are skills that can be built up little by little every level just s single skill rank every level. So what you get is a Competent warrior imbued with the power of his God. that pretty much is the very definition of a Paladin to my mind.
So lets look at the third option…
To be the classical Paladin of RPG yore you need to be able to lay on hands to heal people and scare the undead. There is pretty much it. There are really three spell lists that the character would find desirable. Light Ways, Purifications and Concussion Ways. Learning Magic is not going to be easy but with Rolemaster you can start to learn a spell list and let that investment of development points ride until you are successful. I would suggest that you buy just 2 skill ranks in the first spell list and then roll the spell gain roll every level until you get it. Two ranks equates to a 10% chance of success. Given those odds our 21st level Paladin would probably have made 22 attempts (characters get a chance at 0th level before starting play) so statistically getting those three lists is not impossible or even that improbable. As a player I would most likely be quite disappointed if I had not learned at least two by then.
I would also say in my reinterpretation of the Realms that if a group of Paladins, such as the knights of the round table, rode out on a quest, to find the holy grail, that it would be made up of both types of Paladin with neither seeing any distinction between themselves. Every group is made of individuals of differing strengths and weaknesses. Going back the Waterdeep and the Lords Piergeiron is not the only Paladin on the council. Texter is 17th level (D&D)/27th (RM) and also a Paladin. Taking into account Texters feats then I would certainly make Texter a fighter based Paladin.
Whilst my versions of the Paladin are definitely less powerful than the Companion profession it does not suffer from the accusation of being over powered. If anything I would say that those characters would suffer for their convictions but as a GM I would compensate for that giving the characters access to support from their order and opening doors that may not otherwise be open to them. I have always rewarded good roleplaying and the Paladin definitely does give plenty of opportunities for that.
It also goes to show that although the companions do define some 70 or more additional professions you do not need to rush out and buy all those books and then read 1,000 pages of rules just to play the game.