Right - well...
I would appear to me that there are several issues here that need to be addressed, aside from the Barl issue once he turns hostile.
Most arguments so far have failed to define one very important element: from which perspective is the term "virtue" being defined? If this is to apply across the board - from Paladins to Thieves from LG to CE, then it has to be a universal, or as 'broad' as possible.
Thus, it is pointless to state that killing an animal for meat or leather is acceptable because it is deemed allowable by 'Amn and Western Society' - that only reflects the reputation one would gain and or lose in western society, not the instrinsic nature of the act itself. Personally, I'm inclined to agree with the viewpoint that killing an animal for food/useful products is not an intrinsically evil (and thus non-virtuous) act UNLESS:
1) The killing is done with cruelty and malicious intent
2) The animal is known to be intrinsically good - probably only applicable to sentient animals
Note that the killing of endangered species is not necessarily included - even for rangers and druids, there are some creatures that would probably be better off exterminated - especially in a magical world.
However, in the case that one is attacked first without provocation, then self defense should not count as a non-virtuous act.
This argument arises because of what I would term humanity's 'natural state'. Humans are omnivorous by design (in terms of their biological systems - whether they came about from creationism or evolution - or both - is irrelevant), and as such, the killing of other creatures for meat or other products is part of their nature - similarly, a wolf or tiger is not a creature of instrinsic evil because it eats meat, or a cow a creature of intrinsic good because it doesn't eat meat.
Putting two creatures together to fight for any reason not related to survival - i.e. food/material goods steps into the realm of cruelty, regardless of the creatures involved.
With that out of the way - this is where it gets tricky:
It would appear to me that a paladin should fall only when his/her virtue falls to 17 or below, after getting up there (starting virtues and all that). While the 2 hit rule is probably a simpler coding mechanism, there is evidence to show that there is some leeway allowed within the paladin order itself:
1) The Paladin in the Graveyard district - is mourning the loss of his son. He made a vow to protect the lad - and failed. This SHOULD be a drop in virtue - failing to uphold a vow.
2) Keldorn Firecam - his family quest involves his wife being 'technically' unfaithful - and should be imprisoned really. Keldorn can overlook that, NOT kill Sir William (which should be a drop in virtue according to the Paladin code - not upholding the tenets of the order) AND then he doesn't report his wife - virtue hit for not upholding the laws of his chosen society (which is the Lawful part of a Paladin's alignment).Koa Toa
Correct me if I'm wrong - but aren't the Koa Toa an EVIL race? If so, killing them all off by poisoning the tadpoles is not an unvirtuous act - especially since they attack you first and the only way to kill the Prince IS to poison the tadpoles (see above note on endangered species). NOT destroying evil (especially for a Pally) should be more of a virtue hit than destroying it in this case.
Suppose there is a family of evil black dragons laired up in the mountains and attacking nearby villagers. You go in there, kill them and smash the eggs - thus removing a small societal unit of dragons. Is that unvirtuous? I say no as black dragons are intrinsically evil (under DnD lore).
The assumption being made by the list is that it is unvirtuous to destroy an entire society.
However, for the purposes of this system I would propose:It is unvirtuous to destroy an entire society - whose values are not diametrically opposed to your own
Thus, it is not unvirtuous for a Paladin, or even a ranger (who say, had Koa Toa as favoured enemies or similar) to seek to destroy an evil society. And while it could be argued that evil races attack each other all the time - well, that just shows them to have low virtue - which fits quite nicely, thank you.Sacrificing to the Demogorgon
There are two issues here, the sacrifice of the animal, and the fighting of the demon knights.
Q: Is it unvirtuous to sacrifice the animal?
A: Yes. Because the animal is not being sacrificed for a matter of survivial (see above).
Q: Is it virtuous to eliminate the demons?
A: Yes. They are demons, they are evil, and a good character should destroy them.
Note: You can only summon the demons ONCE. Once they are dead, they stay dead. Therefore they are an evil that CAN be eliminated by summoning them forth.
Q: Is it unvituous to leave the demons unvanquished?
A: Yes. Because it is an evil threat that it is possible to eliminate, and a tool that could be used - in the wrong hands - to bring about much more evil than the death of an innocent animal - try the deaths of a few hundred (human or otherwise).
Thus, in this situation, the virtue of elminating the demons should outweigh the unvirtue of sacrificing the animal. Of course, if you DON'T manage to eliminate the demons, that's not exactly virtuous - but then you're dead, so big whoop. Thus my argument for allowing paladins to remain paladins until they fall to 17 or below. Yes, perhaps a virtue hit IS appropriate for the sacrifice - but the subsequent destruction of all the demons (in this case) should mitigate at least that single point. I seriously doubt the order of the radient heart would have much of an issue with it - or most of the Paladins' Gods. Thus, this is an 'infraction' that doesn't really count as an infraction. I have similar issues with Saladrax for the same reasons - especially if you're playing a Cavalier or Dragon Hunter. If this is to be upheld, then you should also be penalised if you decide to butcher the drow of Ust Natha as you leave.
Of course, one could argue it's a slippery slope - "Oh, the ends justify the means", which is not a virtuous sentiment. Thus, the 17 limit - if there's too much ends means justification without the ends being realised, a Paladin will fall faster than you can spit. Of course, there should probably be a limit for rangers as well, but I'm not sure what, 15 maybe?Executing Tolmas
Tolmas is essentially trying to extort money from you. As you can point out - he should have had insurance. It is not your OBLIGATION as a Lord to reimburse traders for the risks that they take in travelling their trade routes. Nor (technically), is it your responsibility to cover the costs bourne by your villagers for their individual dwellings. It could be argued that you were responsible for the dykes (if you accept the 'ignorance is no excuse' axiom), and it might be unvirtuous (uncharitable) as Lord to not aid the villagers with some of the tax money you collected, but to execute a man trying to extort money from you and holding the welfare of innocents hostage (your villagers), is not really something that I think warrants a -2. -1 maybe, but not -2.Giving Valygar to Tolgerias
Unfortunately, giving Valygar to Tolgerias is the technically correct action to take. For a lawful character, who swore an oath to Tolgerias to bring Valygar to him, the honourable thing to do is to fulfil that oath. Of course, this does not mean it's *technically* unvirtuous to explore the planar sphere first. You only swore to bring Valygar to Tolgerias. You said nothing about NOT exploring the planar sphere first, and certainly didn't promise to bring Valygar in in a timely fashion. If Tolgerias then chooses to attack you and you have to defend yourself - well, that's on his head, not yours. Of course, you *could* argue for the spirit of the agreement, but to be honest, if you're an honourable person, you shouldn't be agreeing to do anything for someone you don't know without getting it spelt out first.Stealing
I'm sorry, but stealing - i.e. pickpocketing, patronising fences and the like - should be unvirtuous. Unless of course the owner is dead - and in the not walking around 'undead' sense. You could argue that stealing from ANYONE is wrong, but you could also liken stealing from evil creatures to the weakening of those creatures' power - which is a good thing. It should probably be a small hit (-1) each time. Similarly, the stealing of the Statue of Lathandar if not the necklace of the Priestess of Talos really should be unvirtuous acts.
This, combined with a lower limit of virtue, rather than a fixed 'number' of unvirtuous occasions, seems to me to be more logical. It allows for immediate ends/means payoffs and certainly for Paladin flexibility. A Paladin can tolerate the company of theives, drow or vampires (coding issues aside), and should certainly NOT hold them up to the same values he (or she, but I'll be using he for simplicity) himself holds. He should lead by example, not by chatisement. However, that does not excuse a Paladin turning a blind eye to continual wanton depredations by thieves - too many stealings = too low a virtue score (if suitable 'examples' of virtuous behaviour are not thrown into the mix to counteract them) = bye bye special status.
After looking over the list of virtue changing acts - I must say that I'm probably not going to be installing it. At least, not for my run through with my Paladin - who I think would certainly execute Thomas, kill Barl, sacrifice to the demogorgon to kill the demon knights AND cheerfully destroy the Koa Toa.