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In Dungeon Lords, there is a spell that forces you to pay your monster(s) cost or withdraw it from combat. If you have a vampire and are just below the evil-o-meter level needed for the paladin to show up, but no one had breached the level yet, will he show up mid combat if you pay the cost to keep your vampire from withdrawing? What about if someone else had already summoned the paladin, and you became more evil than them, would doing this bring him to your dungeon?

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Yes

See this paragraph on p19 of the rulebook:

Order is important. During battle, your rating on the Evilometer can change. This might make the paladin choose a different dungeon (as explained in the Paladin section above). The paladin will move immediately (along with any Damage Counters that are on him) so it is possible that the paladin will fight in multiple dungeons in the same round. Once the paladin is eliminated, however, he will move no more, regardless of the Evilometer.

The Paladin's justice is swift - if you become the most evil player at any point, he will swoop down to punish you at once! I believe I read the game designer saying somewhere that you know you've gotten really good at the game of Dungeon Lords when you are deliberately manipulating the Paladin's movements - e.g. sending him to trash another player's Dungeon, but then having him come back to yours with a few damage counters on him, so he's easier to defeat. I think it's very hard to pull off stuff like that, though!

EDIT: Regarding whether the Paladin can enter play when a player crosses the "evil threshold" for the first time in the year during a battle, I see no reason why not. Here's the rules from the Paladin section:

If your Evil Counter lands on or rises above the paladin space on the Evilometer, the paladin sets out to attack your dungeon. Take the Paladin Tile from the Central Board and put it in the large space near the entrance to the dungeon. The paladin will always be at the front of the party. Any new warrior will push ahead of everyone but the paladin. The paladin himself is a mighty warrior. And a priest. And a wizard. And even a bit of a thief. For the purposes of the rules, he does not count as any of these, but anyone who faces the paladin will realize that he is an adventuring party all by himself. If you cross the line, you attract the paladin immediately.

Yes, it's true that these rules normally entail the Paladin joining the adventuring party while they're still outside the dungeon, preparing for their attack. But crucially, there's no contradiction between the above rules and the Paladin joining mid-battle. During battle the adventurer tiles are still in the spaces near the entrance, and it's easy for the Paladin to join them. Just because in some sense the party have left the entrance and are now several tiles deep into the dungeon, doesn't mean that it's hard for the Paladin to find them.

Fundamentally, attracting the attention of the Paladin happens instantly at any point that a player becomes evil (or more evil) enough. The rules are quite clear what happens whenever this occurs, and there's no reason to suppose there should be any exceptions.

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That doesn't answer the primary question, which is if the paladin is not yet in play if he will show up. I couldn't find anything in the rules to support or deny this possibility, and the bit you quoted doesn't cover it explicitly. –  aslum Aug 26 '11 at 14:51
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Oh yes, sorry not to have addressed that. My instinctive response to that is that, yes, he definitely would, but I'll see if I can find anything in the rules that makes that explicit, and edit my answer accordingly! –  thesunneversets Aug 26 '11 at 15:12
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