As the Union collapsed, the sudden absence in broadly capable peacekeepers was swiftly taken advantage of. The collapse of the Confederacy led to a spike in hostilities, and the Commonwealth - a collaborative effort of governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations - did all they could to stem the tide of violence and destruction. Funds once reserved for the Union were thrown at every grassroots relief effort, every crime fighter willing to stand their ground, every investigator poking into the seedy underbelly of the Multiverse.
Cooperation bloomed between these efforts, and hierarchies began to form. Gradually, these disparate agents coalesced into a single group. However, crime and famine will always persist even after these relief efforts had concluded. Furthermore, as the Concord, Watch and League arose it was clear that even if the age of superfactions was over, there would always be groups that have to be watched carefully, and dealt with fairly.
As such, an offer was extended to those who assisted with their efforts a position in a new organization, one with a greater focus on diplomacy, aid, and crime-fighting than the Union. Some participating Commonwealth governments demanded a stricter observance of local laws and due process. Be that for ensuring they seem squeaky-clean to calm the populace or to keep them on a tighter leash remains to be seen.
The Paladins are a third-party peacekeeping force funded by governments and organizations that ally with the Commonwealth. Funds supplied by the Commonwealth are split for bankrolling Paladin operations and a war chest for defending Commonwealth interests should the need arise. Extra funding is often offered in exchange for a promise that most of it be set aside for protecting a specific nation or resource.
Due to the pro-social aims of the Paladins, their sponsors typically consist of stable nations aiming to keep things that way, large charitable organization seeking extra help in their aims, and disaster-ravaged worlds who need assistance dearly. However, the strict rules of the Commonwealth on what governing bodies must consist of, drives some straight into the arms of the Concord. Namely, the rule that member organizations of the Commonwealth cannot be made up entirely of powerful Elites. This law does understand the distinction of 'relative power,' in that the worlds where a majority of the population is capable of some degree of fantastic feats does not have to be managed by the powerless. Their desire is simply to prevent tyrants who can rule by force. Signing up does mean wrapping yourself up in the red tape of the Commonwealth and undergoing intense examination to ensure you are not doing anything that would besmirch the Paladins. But once that has been cleared, and you have set up an appropriate embassy for them to have a footing in your region, they will come to your aid with a moment's notice.
In all it does, the Paladins aim to be as proper as possible. Every law is considered, possible reactions by the populace and involved parties are planned for, every action by their members judged and reviewed. As defenders of civilisation, they must present themselves as true arbiters of the law, as examples to be followed. This can be stifling for some who cannot bear to wait when they see injustice, and it can give the Paladins a reputation as an organization that sits on its thumbs too much. But once it does move, it is capable of throwing some considerable weight around to achieve its ends.
Those who join the Paladins require a specific temperament. They have to be able to put aside their emotions and plan accordingly, even in the face of atrocity and suffering. They must be thorough, both in the setup and execution of an operation. And above all else, they have to bear it all with a smile, for when they show fear, what hope is there in reassuring the populace? Frequently seen in their ranks are holy warriors, those with origins in law enforcement, and knights who swear to a code of honor. If you're someone with any kind of respect for the law or someone who wish to protect the civil liberties of others, the Paladins would be happy to have you. And in exchange for your service, you will be well-funded and supplied with the resources you need to push back the cruel and merciless.
The Paladins have a strict hierarchy, from members up to the commanding officer, who is answerable to the Commonwealth. Below player character allies is a force of NPC troops who answer to all player characters. A low-ranking character can order them around, but only officers and up have the authority to call them in.
All Paladin applicants receive strenuous background examination before being allowed to join. Any prior evidence of lawbreaking or poor conduct in general is brought up, and you are asked to explain why this happened, and if you’ve changed since then. Even the most seemingly squeaky-clean applicant is looked into, perhaps with even more caution. But in contrast to that, even the most villainous black knight is given the same chance as everyone else. The Paladins to not judge books by their covers. The golden rule of the Paladins is 'respect the law and the rights of others.' Their goal is to safeguard law and civilisation, combat threats to Multiversal stability and prevent violations of basic human rights. They have little tolerance for loose cannons and those who believe in destroying evil immediately. Even wrongdoers have rights and the law is there for a reason. If the Paladins achieve their goals through one of the members breaking the law or violating human rights, it's considered a failure, and the one responsible is heavily reprimanded.
However, the Paladins understand that there is a difference between 'rights' and 'needs.' Their upholding of the law above all else is often seen as unkind to the individual. Even the worst criminals are treated with respect, even as the populace brays for their blood. Being tied in legal red tape can make them slow to move and act when immediate action is demanded. Public relations are a constant see-saw, being loved one minute for halting a monster attack, hated the next for busting a Watch cell that was aiming to depose a tyrant.
But, there are times where the law falls short and there is little that can legally be done to pursue an investigation. At times like these, the Paladins can do little to compromise their image. However, they are not above leaking certain information to interested parties like other factions so that they might take action. This gives the Paladins excuse to take their investigations further while fending off attackers or securing an area. In the wake of such actions, the Paladins always try to move for a law reform that will allow them to better perform their duties, and not resort to such tactics in future.
Paladin members are given some degree of autonomy in investigating matters for the organization to look into. All members are encouraged to go out and find current events that may be of interest, be they a threat to the Commonwealth or a violation of the law or basic rights of others. Such things can include black markets, slave rings, war profiteering, terrorism, and organized crime. It can also simply be poor conditions that some are forced to live in, either due to apocalypse, poor finance or unfit governance. They also deal with matter such as diplomatic breakdowns between kingdoms, nations or worlds, even if they are not part of the Commonwealth. Tensions have a habit of spreading, after all. Once something has been identified as a target for investigation, proper procedure rears its head.
In the course of an investigation, specialists are encouraged to advise and assist however they can. They can specialize in the subject matter of the investigation or the 'type' of world the Paladins will have to deal with. Officers are typically chosen so as to have an even amount of representation from these different world genres. If the Paladins have no specialists for a case, one who is interested and specialises in something related are given the encouragement and training needed to assist. In this way, the Paladins attempt to ensure their members are well-rounded and capable in multiple areas if need be. During an investigation, all Paladins are expected to visibly wear or carry something that identifies them as a Paladin. Such things can include belts, armbands or badges.
At times where an immediate response is needed, such as an act of terrorism, an invasion, or a military coup, the Paladins are not afraid to discard paperwork and come in full-force if they have not been explicitly told not to. Their reasoning is that, in cases where they can immediately prevent suffering, it is better to ask forgiveness than wait for permission. During such engagement, their immediate focus is on evacuation of civilians and preservation of any evidence in cases where the assailant's identity is unknown. Deaths cannot be undone, but perpetrators can be brought to justice later.
The Paladins need to be mobile, so as to respond quickly and efficiently. But, due to the reduced size, they do not need anything on the scale of Njorun. To that end, their headquarters is a large spaceship, dubbed the 'Ad Coelum.' Utilizing artificial warpgate technology, it can be in the skies above any hotspot in mere minutes after a call for assistance.
The ship is heavily armored, but its own offensive capability is limited. As the Paladins are not primarily a military force, it was thought that enormous destructive power would give the wrong impression. As such, most of its capabilities lie in the ability to quickly produce what is needed and deliver them. The interior has multiple factories, plantations and farms for rearing livestock. What is produced can be quickly delivered planetside via drop-pods, as can Paladin agents should they need rapid insertion. However, it does contain a large launch bay for ships and shuttles to come and go for more leisurely departure and arrival.
It also contains extensive investigative laboratories, both technological and magical, as well as a massive library with what is possibly the biggest legal section in the Multiverse. To be well-informed is to be able to deal with anything. There are also extensive living quarters for those who choose to live on-board.
However, the extent of the Paladin's influence does not end there. All territories that provide assistance to the Paladins also have an embassy built for them, a place to seek out protection and assistance. Each one is set up with a teleporter linked to the ship, so that Paladins can come and go as they please, as well as come immediately to provide assistance without causing damage with drop-pods.
Members of the Paladins are expected to be proactive in seeking out troubles and issues the Paladins can assist with. In pursuing these cases, they must obey any laws of the worlds they're hosted in, even if it makes the investigation harder. Such things can present an interesting obstruction to work around. At all times, they are expected to presents themselves with polite courtesy and a smile. As defenders of civilisation, by being pleasant and kind, they serve as examples for the populace to follow.
If a Paladin finds themselves deficit in some area, they are encouraged to seek to improve through scenes using the training areas. It is accepted that no one can be good at everything, but if a Paladin has glaring issues that makes an investigation they are pursuing difficult, it would be foolhardy to persist without trying to improve in that area.
In dealing with other factions, Paladins are advised to not tolerate any glaring violations of law or rights. To forgive one is the top of a slippery slope to forgiving more. Obviously, the extent to which minor things can be 'forgiven' if factions are cooperating comes down to the circumstances and the temperament of the character.
When factions come to blows, Paladins treat them to the extent that the law and their own ideas on taking down wrongdoers allows them. If the prevalent laws encourage mercy towards them, to immediately execute lethal force will be frowned upon. If they are more lenient, such actions will be more tolerated, but therapy sessions might be scheduled afterwards to make sure everything is okay.
For players of other factions, the Paladins present a tempting target for raids. Being a wealthy faction, but also one restricted by rules, attacks on their embassies or relief efforts can seem like a low-risk, high-reward operation. However, Paladins will try to capture anyone who does this and imprison them. Should this be allowed to happen, this can be followed up with jailbreak scenes, or using legal shenanigans to get the player off the hook. Such things will give players a chance to be the centre of attention and possibly let other players show off their creativity and planning skills to execute such a thing.
Of course, it must be kept in mind that all of this is in the forms of IC restrictions, not OOC. If a player is willing to accept the character facing consequences for breaking them, to do so is permitted. However, no one is exempt from these. The Paladins do not have a 'Last Chancers' equivalent, and apping characters who are loose cannons who get results without facing serious consequence is discouraged.