Are Paladin and Cleric different concepts?

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I've created this thread to discuss a branch conversation from another thread. It developed while discussing 3e and 4e differences, and we hit upon the subject of whether or not Atonement should exist in 4e. The discussion then brought up the question of whether Paladins and Clerics are different concepts. I'll quote some of the relevant statements below for reference.

crazysamaritan;17535788 wrote:
The entire time I've been posting on these boards....
Clerics have the same penalty as Paladins, "must follow their deities wishes". So what was the difference that made players complain about Paladins, and not Clerics?

celloshane;17538357 wrote:
Should it work differently for Paladins than for Clerics? Thats an opinion that will probably vary from person to person, but I say yes; not because they shouldn't both follow the rules of their faith, but because paladins and clerics are different concepts. Given that they enact their deities wishes in different ways, I think they should atone for mistakes in different ways. I agree that it shouldn't be as simple as "X gold and Q ritual".

crazysamaritan;17538433 wrote:
You'll have to explain to me why you think these two are different concepts.

Decivre;17538663 wrote:
That said, paladins and clerics aren't necessarily different concepts anymore. By and large, the biggest difference between classes within the same power source is role. If a player wants to make a religious cleric that believes in teaching his enemies through the sword, he can play a paladin as a cleric without fear that he'll be told he's "not doing it right". If I want to be a wizard who learned his powers through study, but is more skilled at taking on single targets, I can roleplay a warlock as someone who studied to earn his "pact" rather than one who has to make a deal with extraplanar forces. The game is much more lax in this manner.

Now, Decivre has an excellent point: 4e has probably blurred the lines significantly between all classes in the same power source. With reflavoring such a predominant influence right now, players are encouraged to take much of the existing material and rearrange the fluff however they like. That said, I still think that there's much to discuss about paladins and clerics and the differences between.

I'll be happy to use this thread to discuss those differences, but I have a feeling that there will be quite a bit of variance from person to person. What I'd also like to discuss though is whether Atonement is a viable concept for 4e; and whether it should be applied solely to Paladins (as in 3e), unilaterally to all Divine Classes, or with slight differences between each Divine class. I'll be posting more on my personal opinions, but for now I'm out of time.
"Man is made God's plaything, and that is the best part of him. Therefore every man and woman should live life accordingly, and play the noblest games... Life must be lived as play, playing certain games, making sacrifices, singing and dancing..." Plato, The Laws.
For me, the differences between paladins and clerics are:

Paladin:

Defender.
Divine Warrior. Crusader and protector of their faith.
Warriors who have dedicated their lives to forcefully defending their faith.

Cleric:

Leader.
Actually channels their god's powers.
Healers.
Spreads the word about their deity.

For a kind-of real world similarity, I see paladins as Templar Knights and Clerics as little more than priests who fight. I see the paladin as charged with battling for their god (more or less as a direct order from above), while the cleric very willingly chooses to fight for their god. I see the paladin as more of a life's calling, and the cleric as a willing choice.

In 4E terms, I see the paladin and cleric about as similar as a ranger and a fighter. The differences are not many, but while they may be subtle, they can have big impacts on the rest of the party.
I'm against atonement. If divine characters can "fall out of grace" we would more or less have to be fair and implement the same for all characters, which would mostly be detracting from actual play in my opinion.

I'm not sure how this translates to needing such a mechanic for all characters. Only the paladin and the cleric (currently) are divine power source classes - nobody else really seems to be following a particular god's set of ideals and goals.

Warlocks might be close, but to me their pacts represent just that - pacts, deals already made and concluded, service for power. Clerics and paladins are religiously devout - to them (IMO), following the deity's purview means something.
I think originally (in the AD&D sense) clerics are modelled after the fighting cleric/knights of history like the Knight Templars or Knight Hospitalers, and paladins were supposed to be the knight errant archetype of Arthurian tradition. But in 4e, they're just divine leader and divine defender respectively.

As for paladin's CoC and falling, this was a drawback due to paladin originally being a more powerful class back in the day. With the balanced classes in 4e, I think having a falling mechanic would punish the divine classes unnecessarily.
I see no reason for an atonement or fall from grace mechanic. Characters who switch sides in the big divine war should probably choose a new cause, or claim they're the ones who were betrayed by their god. Actually forcing the party to put down everything so their healer can jump through some hoops to play again doesn't seem like a good plan in my opinion.

That's not to say backstabbing your diety and taking your powers elsewhere shouldn't have consequences. But since from 2nd ED on divine powers have come from the characters faith not the gods themselves (in generic D&D) I see no reason to strip thier powers away. Being on a dieties **** list is fair enough a response, and probably almost expected for a character at some point, the only question being which diety you've angered.)
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
That's not to say backstabbing your diety and taking your powers elsewhere shouldn't have consequences.

Yeah, that's the main thing here. I think the reason why some of us like atonement/fall-from-grace mechanics is that consequences are interesting.

But since from 2nd ED on divine powers have come from the characters faith not the gods themselves (in generic D&D) I see no reason to strip thier powers away.

Really? I thought it was all about channeling power from your chosen deity. Otherwise there's no real difference between them and wizards. This is why I never really liked the whole "you can worship a concept" thing done in 3e. I guess it just being based on your "faith", no matter what that faith is in, isn't different enough for me. Faith should definitely be the catalyst of course - but it should be the gateway to receiving the deity's blessing, not the source of it. What makes the character, IMO, is how you use it (or rarely, how you act when it's not available). :P
As far as 4E is concerned, you're channeling the power of your faith, but the deity isn't involved at all. A character with the divine power source gains it via investiture rituals, and once it's gained, it's permanent - no one can take it away.

If such a character starts acting against the faith then it's up to other members of the faith to notice it and do something about it.
In other words its up to the DM to punish the character by sending bounty hunters and stuff to take them down.

I say that Paladins and Clerics can be pretty similar fluff wise but their mechanics make them different enough to warrant two classes. Off course a lot of NPCs might have trouble seeing the differences.
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If such a character starts acting against the faith then it's up to other members of the faith to notice it and do something about it.

^ This.
Even in real-world churches, if a member acts decidedly outside the teachings of said church, they are policed by the other members, not by God himself.
In other words its up to the DM to punish the character by sending bounty hunters and stuff to take them down.

I say that Paladins and Clerics can be pretty similar fluff wise but their mechanics make them different enough to warrant two classes. Off course a lot of NPCs might have trouble seeing the differences.

For all the NPC's care, if you give a rogue skill training in Religion and have them call themselves a priest, they're just as priestly as a cleric as long as they go about invoking their deity of choice and "spreading the word." The classes just describe a power-set, not the overall job of the character in question.
That's my reasoning, I hope it's understandable.

It is now, and is perfectly valid - I thought before you were referring to a kind of conceptual need for an atonement mechanic for all other classes, not a "balance" need. A balance complaint is perfectly reasonable, and why, though I would want it included, such mechanics would be best served as "optional".

^ This.
Even in real-world churches, if a member acts decidedly outside the teachings of said church, they are policed by the other members, not by God himself.

While heresy and inquisitions and such should certainly be a part of it, they don't have to be the only part in a world defined by MAAAAAAAAGIC. In a world where the gods are real, manifest beings you can eventually kill, no one is working entirely off of faith, and it would be kind of silly for the gods to leave everything up to them. :P

For all the NPC's care, if you give a rogue skill training in Religion and have them call themselves a priest, they're just as priestly as a cleric as long as they go about invoking their deity of choice and "spreading the word." The classes just describe a power-set, not the overall job of the character in question.

Well, not quite. The NPCs will probably notice when he can't cure any of them, turn undead, etc. He wouldn't necessarily have to do all of those things, but again, in a world full of magic you can quite easily find out "who's got more god-power".
While heresy and inquisitions and such should certainly be a part of it, they don't have to be the only part in a world defined by MAAAAAAAAGIC. In a world where the gods are real, manifest beings you can eventually kill, no one is working entirely off of faith, and it would be kind of silly for the gods to leave everything up to them. :P

That's even if the god cares about his/her worshipers in the first place. I've ran many games with Lovecraftian-like gods who have their own agendas and could not really care less for the "faithful" among their worshipers. If they have thousands of highly devoted, zealous followers, great! If they have only a dozen...that's great, too! They've got bigger fish to fry (Primordials and so on), and it's not like they get more powerful based on the number of followers they have (at least I don't think they do).
That's even if the god cares about his/her worshipers in the first place. I've ran many games with Lovecraftian-like gods who have their own agendas and could not really care less for the "faithful" among their worshipers. If they have thousands of highly devoted, zealous followers, great! If they have only a dozen...that's great, too! They've got bigger fish to fry (Primordials and so on), and it's not like they get more powerful based on the number of followers they have (at least I don't think they do).

True, and that's a fine way to run 'em for that kind of theme. But (considering events in the official D&D settings to date) that's not really how the basic D&D gods do things. They're certainly slated to be more distant in 4e (the designers have said as much), but that doesn't mean they're not as invested in their followers or that they don't care about the clerics and paladins that channel their power. I mean their powers are still called "prayers", presumably something's hearing them. And presumably (since divinations still exist) the tenets of these religions aren't based just on what the mortals want to do, but on what agenda the gods have.

At the least this wouldn't work in FR, as I think 4e keeps the setting conceit that the gods' power is defined by the # and individual power of their worshipers. (Though I could be wrong if it's buried in the CG somewhere.)
Yeah, that's the main thing here. I think the reason why some of us like atonement/fall-from-grace mechanics is that consequences are interesting.

That depends. It's intresting for the GM. It might even be intresting for the cleric. But is it intresting for the Rogue? In my games the answer to that is NO so often that making a mechanic for it would just be a waste of paper. In fact it's usually dull for the cleric too.

Really? I thought it was all about channeling power from your chosen deity. Otherwise there's no real difference between them and wizards.

Nope. The Athar of 2nd ED pretty much showed that you don't need a god, just a cause to channel power. Ravenloft and Dragonlance had started with the idea and Planescape made it official for the generic setting. Of course setting is what you make of it, but the generic set says no gods required.

As for the difference between wizards and priests, well it's like the difference between fuddling with the loopholes in reality and knowing how reality works and asking it for aid. Int casters figure things out. Wis casters know how things are. And Cha casters screw the rules and tell reality whats up.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
At the least this wouldn't work in FR, as I think 4e keeps the setting conceit that the gods' power is defined by the # and individual power of their worshipers. (Though I could be wrong if it's buried in the CG somewhere.)

The 4E FR CG says:

Priests and Lay Worshipers
Priests are mortals who have dedicated their lives
to the service of a specific deity. They tend to share
an alignment with their god, but that isn’t required.
Priests sometimes adjust their devotion as they grow
more powerful. They worship an exarch at heroic
levels, a god at paragon levels, and a greater god at
epic levels. Others gravitate to a greater god, or serve
deities that have no exarchs at all.

Lay worshipers can swear fealty to a patron deity,
and some Faerûnians do so for selfish ends (merchants
who worship Waukeen, for instance, or sages
who revere Oghma). Most common folk, however,
are more egalitarian in their faith. They invoke several
different divine beings over the course of a day,
asking Tymora for luck, beseeching Auril for a break
in a blizzard, or seeking Sune’s favor with a matter of
the heart.
(page 72)

In regards to the gods getting personally involved in the lives of mortals:

A deity can touch a mortal worshiper with a sliver of
divine grace, creating a Chosen as an instrument in the
mortal world. The powers and missions of the Chosen
vary from god to god.

A Chosen might ascend to the rank of exarch, which
was the case for the likes of Clangeddin Silverbeard
and Obould. Some, such as Lolth’s Lady Penitent, Halisstra
Melarn, are created for a particular purpose, then
discarded.

The post-Spellplague world includes no Chosen who
are not exarchs.
(page 72)

I can find nothing in the FR PG about the gods needing worshippers. As a matter of fact, in the CG, it describes Ao as having no worshippers at all, and when worshippers do pop up, they vanish jsut as quickly.
Well, not quite. The NPCs will probably notice when he can't cure any of them, turn undead, etc. He wouldn't necessarily have to do all of those things, but again, in a world full of magic you can quite easily find out "who's got more god-power".

Yes, but all a cleric is is one type of priest. Same as a paladin, or any other member of the church hierarchy. Why do you need to heal to be a priest or be any part of the clergy?
Paladin/Cleric Bit
Personally, this is how Folsan Aggondar, my paladin in one of our campaigns, defines the difference:

"You are the guiding hand of our god. I am his righteous fist."

Basically, both classes act as protectors of the faith, but in different ways: the Cleric is directed internally, inspiring the faithful to great things; the Paladin is directed externally, defending the faithful from whatever force threatens them. That's not to say that a Cleric can't go out and convert, or a paladin can't defeat foes within the church. It's saying that Clerics direct their efforts to the Truly Faithful or potentially Truly Faithful, while Paladins take on the enemies of the Truly Faithful.


Falling/Atonement Bit
There are a couple reasons why I don't like the idea of a Fall from Grace mechanic. I'll outline them here.

-Losing your powers blows. The threat of losing my powers if my DM interprets the CoC different than I do was enough to keep me from playing a paladin in previous editions. However, the removal of them resulted in my first real 4e character being a full LG paladin of Bahamut. Even if there's a way to regain your powers, being useless for a while because of an OOC miscommunication just sucks.

-It's not necessary. As others have pointed out, it's possible to roleplay the classic Fall From Grace without having a mechanical edge to it. Among the options are:
-Self-restriction of powers, where the character "loses access" to his powers without the mechanics forcing it on everyone.
-The subtle patron, where the character's prayers stop being answered by the god, but another power steps in and masquerades as the original. Possibly the original god's antithesis.
-The uncaring, when the god simply doesn't give too much mind to what's being done in his name. This could be because the god is distant/uncaring (like a Lovecraftian being), or simply selfish and in a "popularity equals power" divine order.

-It removes a classic trope: the Schism. When the church splits over what their god wants in the situation. If the Fall from Grace were implemented, the wrong faction would simply lose its power and need atonement to wield their god's power again. The discussion earlier in my post about the Truly Faithful becomes much more interesting when there's disagreement over who's Truly Faithful and who's an Evil Heretic.
Rhymes with Bruce
I can find nothing in the FR PG about the gods needing worshippers. As a matter of fact, in the CG, it describes Ao as having no worshippers at all, and when worshippers do pop up, they vanish jsut as quickly.

Hmm, interesting, thank you.

In previous editions FR made sure to define the relationship of worshiper/god - it was actually an edict after the Time of Troubles by Ao that gods were defined by their worshipers, to punish them for being so capricious and uncaring with the mortals they used.

Ao himself, btw, being an overgod, has no worshipers and has never needed any - he is "a god to gods", and has never granted spells to those who do worship him.

So I guess the question is whether 4e FR assumes that anything it doesn't outright refute remains the same since 3e. As it doesn't appear to say one way or another. I mean, all of what you posted was true in previous versions of FR too, save the bit about exarchs and differing cleric alignment.

It removes a classic trope:[/b] the Schism. When the church splits over what their god wants in the situation. If the Fall from Grace were implemented, the wrong faction would simply lose its power and need atonement to wield their god's power again. The discussion earlier in my post about the Truly Faithful becomes much more interesting when there's disagreement over who's Truly Faithful and who's an Evil Heretic.

True, but technically the lack of a Fall From Grace mechanic also removes a classic trope, namely falling from grace. By the rules there is currently no way to lose your powers by not doing what the Big Dog wants. You can voluntarily lose them, but there is no rules framework for it so there really is no difference between that and throwing a Schism trope into a game with Fall From Grace mechanics. Both go outside the intended ruleset and require you to make assumptions that the game rules don't support.
True, but technically the lack of a Fall From Grace mechanic also removes a classic trope, namely falling from grace. By the rules there is currently no way to lose your powers by not doing what the Big Dog wants. You can voluntarily lose them, but there is no rules framework for it so there really is no difference between that and throwing a Schism trope into a game with Fall From Grace mechanics. Both go outside the intended ruleset and require you to make assumptions that the game rules don't support.

You seem to be assuming that the schism will result in one group losing their powers (through force or fluff). I'm saying that for it to be the way I described, neither group will. That was the point of my post. I may be misreading you, though.
Rhymes with Bruce
You seem to be assuming that the schism will result in one group losing their powers (through force or fluff). I'm saying that for it to be the way I described, neither group will. That was the point of my post. I may be misreading you, though.

No, I assumed they both kept their powers. I'm saying the rules you have to make up for a Schism - "neither side loses their powers", are the same kind of thing you have to do in 4e to add a fall from grace - "I do lose my powers because I touch myself at night and Pelor hates that". A schism is even excusable in context of the rules considering you only get to keep your powers if you're following the god's will - maybe the god can't decide which side follows its will better. Or maybe a "subtle patron" is granting one side's powers secretly (to tie into one of your other examples) - fall from grace rules actually don't preclude this, as it's been done before in material prior to 4e (even in FR - gods take over others portfolios, secretly or publicly, all the time).
The differences between Clerics and Paladins are pretty big in my opinion. At its root, the Cleric is a secular priest, a person who acts as a spiritual leader for the people and as an intermediary with the divine on their behalf. The Cleric is ore or less an ordained priest who preaches to a congregation.

The concept of a Paladin has stronger ties to the idea of a pious knight. The original concept of the Paladin is more rooted in the tales of Charlemagne's knights and the Knights of the Round Table. It also draws from the concept of the Crusading knight orders like the Templars, and the story of Jeanne d'Arc. The biggest thread linking all of these is the idea of a warrior on a holy quest.

I think the differences are pretty significant.
I'll be happy to use this thread to discuss those differences, but I have a feeling that there will be quite a bit of variance from person to person. What I'd also like to discuss though is whether Atonement is a viable concept for 4e; and whether it should be applied solely to Paladins (as in 3e), unilaterally to all Divine Classes, or with slight differences between each Divine class. I'll be posting more on my personal opinions, but for now I'm out of time.

Since you can't lose your powers, there's no need for an atonement spell to get them back. If you go violating the church, then the punishment for such is going to be quite temporal.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
For all the NPC's care, if you give a rogue skill training in Religion and have them call themselves a priest, they're just as priestly as a cleric as long as they go about invoking their deity of choice and "spreading the word." The classes just describe a power-set, not the overall job of the character in question.

My point exactly.
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I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
I always thought it was hilarious that you needed a SPELL to atone for your sins. What is that about? It doesn't matter if I repent and do incredibly good deeds to make up for my misdeeds, I need some caster to pop off a spell? That never made any sense to me, at all.

As others have said as well, taking away powers for not playing ball, especially when it (arbitrarily) affects on a small group of characters, is not in the 4E style.
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I'm against atonement.

Same here. Keep it well away from core material.
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Wow, I'm impressed that this thread got such a flurry of responses so quickly.

@Leichenreiter
You definately have a point there about the situation being unduly prohibitive for the divine classes. The simplest solution I can think of would be if such rules were included as optional. (I have a feeling that most of things I want to see in 4e would have to be considered optional in order to work properly.) I like your theory about including the Primals in this idea, although I personally think that moving it onto Arcane, Martial, and (you didn't mention it but) Ki power sources is a bit of a stretch. I might be willing to accept the ideas, but I'd have to see more of your thoughts to be sure.

@Salla
That really doesn't answer my question. I asked if the concept of Atonement was viable for 4e. If the concept is viable, then it would be assumed that rules for losing powers would be included.

@Rustmonster
3e included a spell for Atonement because it fit the ruleset. Now I'll grant you that it wasn't the best way to do things, but you have to start somewhere. Since 4e is about building upon the lessons of 3e and finding better ways I think we should be able to take a number of 3e concepts and find ways to apply them to the 4e ruleset.
What you seem to be saying is "why don't my actions speak for themselves?" I think part of the concept of Atonement is that spell was a formal acknowledgment that the player had completed the process. That's why the spell in 3e highly suggested a quest or penance before casting the spell. In that sense, I think Atonement would work well as a ritual.

@Mostly Tusz, but somewhat general
- As for "Losing your powers is not part of the 4e style"
Ok, so how can we change things to fit the 4e mindset? What if instead of losing your powers, you received replacement powers instead? Then instead of being out of the game, you have to fight to regain your former status. The two goals here being to keep the consequences interesting, and put the punishment on the character but not the player.
- It's not neccessary because of self restriction
Let me just say first that I don't have a problem with your other two statements under this header. I think the Atonement rules could be expanded to fit a subtle patron, and uncaring patron basically falls under the default rules. However, I have an extreme dislike of the self restriction argument in general. I didn't accept it when people used the argument in regards to the consolidated skill list and I don't accept it here. It unfairly punishes the group because the player refuses to do something the game says he's capable of. All this does is make the group resent the player.

So, continuing this discussion- Should Atonement be expanded beyond the Divine classes? What should cause a "fall from grace" in 4e? What steps should be involved to achieve Atonement? How many licks does it take to get to middle of a Tootsie Pop?
"Man is made God's plaything, and that is the best part of him. Therefore every man and woman should live life accordingly, and play the noblest games... Life must be lived as play, playing certain games, making sacrifices, singing and dancing..." Plato, The Laws.
Yeah, that's the main thing here. I think the reason why some of us like atonement/fall-from-grace mechanics is that consequences are interesting.

Consequences are interesting. This particular consequence, which amounts to your god ignoring you until you apologize, is not. Either you atone, find a new god, or retire.

Meanwhile, the other people at the table...

If such a character starts acting against the faith then it's up to other members of the faith to notice it and do something about it.

This is substantially more interesting than, "atone or make a new character."


In a world where the gods are real, manifest beings you can eventually kill, no one is working entirely off of faith...

The fact that some people claim to have travelled to other planes and met gods means nothing, just as it means nothing when fanatics rant about their god talking to them in real life or dying and seeing heaven. Religion is still entirely a matter of faith to the vast majority of people in a fantasy world.

In fact, it would be harder to defeat skepticism in a fantasy world because the existence of illusions would cause a skeptic to doubt any demonstration using magic, which is all of them. You could only show the truth to people who understand magic. Everyone else would be just as likely to think that you are either creating illusions or screwing with their mind rather than opening portals to other planes and introducing them to Pelor.

...and it would be kind of silly for the gods to leave everything up to them.

The idea is that gods have better things to do than micromanage their followers and intervene in the affairs of the material plane directly.

If they had the time to enforce their will upon the world themselves, they wouldn't need a church, Clerics, or Paladins. The very idea of mortal agents empowered by gods strongly suggests the validity of the hands-off approach that you have labelled "silly." It is pretty much the only reasonable explanation for why they would bother, in fact.
I'm against atonement. If divine characters can "fall out of grace" we would more or less have to be fair and implement the same for all characters, which would mostly be detracting from actual play in my opinion.

So it's your opinion that a cleric of the God of pacifism can go around killing people 3 times a week and his God should just sit back and say "Haha! What a kidder! He'll come around."?
True, and that's a fine way to run 'em for that kind of theme. But (considering events in the official D&D settings to date) that's not really how the basic D&D gods do things. They're certainly slated to be more distant in 4e (the designers have said as much), but that doesn't mean they're not as invested in their followers or that they don't care about the clerics and paladins that channel their power. I mean their powers are still called "prayers", presumably something's hearing them. And presumably (since divinations still exist) the tenets of these religions aren't based just on what the mortals want to do, but on what agenda the gods have.

This is true, and what's more, beings who didn't care anything about worshipers wouldn't bother to invest them with any of their power. A God who gives someone power, has a vested interest in seeing them succeed and cares at least a bit about the worshiper and whatever reason inspired them to grant power.
I would venture that the key reason atonement was removed as a core mechanic is simple - while a well-done story of a man losing his faith and having to struggle to regain his status can make for a great story, it lends itself far too easily to abuse or unintended party frustration to be worth inclusion. Basically, a consenting group can easily handle this ad hoc, which is better anyway, since the entire idea of offense and restoration ought to depend highly upon the circumstance of the game.

As for the paladin / cleric divide, the 'two hands' concept sounds rather apt. While a strength-based cleric can seem superficially close to a paladin, the two mechanically and otherwise serve very different purposes. A paladin is a warrior of faith, blessed to defend others. He's sacrificing of himself to serve his devotion. The cleric does not directly give from himself in the same way, but rather devotes his power to lifting up others in the name of his faith. Clerics push and grow a faith, and paladins protect and exemplify it; there can certainly be some mixing there, but the origins mark them even when they converge.
So it's your opinion that a cleric of the God of pacifism can go around killing people 3 times a week and his God should just sit back and say "Haha! What a kidder! He'll come around."?

No, he'll send 3 ghosts to teach him why killing is wrong and how to uphold the true spirit of [insert holiday here].* But if the guy doesn't listen there's not much that can be done to keep him from using his understanding of how the universe works to zap things with radiant fire. I doubt the guy will be getting good service on his commune rituals, but I'm sure there are plenty of eldritch beings who will be happy to step in and offer advice in the gods stead.

*Of course one wonders why the followers of a pacifist god are D&D clerics with their wide asortment of killing powers. That should have been the first sign something was wrong....
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
So it's your opinion that a cleric of the God of pacifism can go around killing people 3 times a week and his God should just sit back and say "Haha! What a kidder! He'll come around."?

I don't think the patron deity should ignore those transgressions, but I don't really like the idea that the character loses his abilities because of them.

In all likelyhood, actions that are sufficient to get you dropped by one god are probably going to get the attention of another. If that god decides to "sponsor" you instead, then there's still a source for your power. In character (or even as a player) you may not know anything has changed until it comes up as a plot point.

I much prefer dealing with this sort of thing in ways that don't require spells to fix or vastly alter the power dynamics of the game.
I don't think the patron deity should ignore those transgressions, but I don't really like the idea that the character loses his abilities because of them.

It's really moot for the most part. I can't think of any campaign that I've played in where the clerics acted so against their God's interests that power loss was warranted. Usually, it was some sort of accidental minor violation or minor violation due to the player misunderstanding something. Such minor indiscretions should have some in game consequence, but not loss of powers.

The only time I can see a player doing something so bad as to warrant a loss of powers, is if they are young and/or immature and don't really care about roleplay in the slightest. Such a player will quickly be brought around to the play style of the group, gotten rid of, or be in a group with other similar minds and won't lose his powers anyway.

In all likelyhood, actions that are sufficient to get you dropped by one god are probably going to get the attention of another. If that god decides to "sponsor" you instead, then there's still a source for your power. In character (or even as a player) you may not know anything has changed until it comes up as a plot point.

Possibly, but I tend to think that a character who betrays one God, won't likely get the chance to betray others. They simply cant be trusted. Even a God of betrayal might be hesitant, depending on circumstances.
It's really moot for the most part. I can't think of any campaign that I've played in where the clerics acted so against their God's interests that power loss was warranted. Usually, it was some sort of accidental minor violation or minor violation due to the player misunderstanding something. Such minor indiscretions should have some in game consequence, but not loss of powers.

Well, obviously. Players are going to pick deities that help them RP the character they want to play. Massive violations of church ethics are definitely giong to be the exception rather than the rule, even for PCs who typically live in a world of exceptions.

The only time I can see a player doing something so bad as to warrant a loss of powers, is if they are young and/or immature and don't really care about roleplay in the slightest. Such a player will quickly be brought around to the play style of the group, gotten rid of, or be in a group with other similar minds and won't lose his powers anyway.

Another possibility is that the player chose a deity without fully internalizing their portfolio, or really understanding what that meant for gameplay. Granted, that's kind of the player's fault, but I don't really see punishing them for such a mistake outside of the obligatory "your god shows great displeasure in this act" rigormarole.

Possibly, but I tend to think that a character who betrays one God, won't likely get the chance to betray others. They simply cant be trusted. Even a God of betrayal might be hesitant, depending on circumstances.

Given that the Blackguard trope is based almost entirely on this archetype, I would disagree. Deities don't necessarily support believers so much as they do the champions of causes that run parallel to their own. If someone shifts out of a god's good graces, chances are there's another one there to step in.
Given that the Blackguard trope is based almost entirely on this archetype, I would disagree. Deities don't necessarily support believers so much as they do the champions of causes that run parallel to their own. If someone shifts out of a god's good graces, chances are there's another one there to step in.

Paladins and Blackguards don't really fall into this catagory, though, at least they didn't in 3ed(not sure about 4ed). In 3ed, they were based on alignments and causes, not Gods persay. A paladin lost his powers for changing from LG, committing an evil act, or violating the Paladin Code of Conduct(which was separate from any Godly code). Blackguards were the opposite side of the coin.
Paladins and Blackguards don't really fall into this catagory, though, at least they didn't in 3ed(not sure about 4ed). In 3ed, they were based on alignments and causes, not Gods persay. A paladin lost his powers for changing from LG, committing an evil act, or violating the Paladin Code of Conduct(which was separate from any Godly code). Blackguards were the opposite side of the coin.

But the protypical Blackguard was a fallen Paladin. There were even rules for swapping Paladin levels for Blackguard levels. In essence, one deity or cosmic force was picking up a follower who had abandoned his/her original source of divine might.
I would venture that the key reason atonement was removed as a core mechanic is simple - while a well-done story of a man losing his faith and having to struggle to regain his status can make for a great story, it lends itself far too easily to abuse or unintended party frustration to be worth inclusion. Basically, a consenting group can easily handle this ad hoc, which is better anyway, since the entire idea of offense and restoration ought to depend highly upon the circumstance of the game.

I think this is really the crux of the problem. "Fall from grace" stories do tend to be very personal (thus, unless done really well, don't tend to involve the whole party), and the 3e rules definitely lent themselves to abuse, nonsensical permutations, and frustration.

However I think the fall from grace story is so wonderfully iconic and potentially powerful, an effort should be made to preserve it.

Personally, I like the idea of changing the paladin/cleric's powers but not taking them away entirely (though I think some weakening is appropriate). It should also not cost an arm and a leg to switch deities or masquerade as a member of another faith. But turncoating a divine being should by no means be easy either - nor is your new patron going to totally trust you (leopards and spots and all that)...

I think it would also be neat if Atonement actually granted something new (maybe a paragon path?) - there is a longstanding tradition of facing "crises of faith" strengthening your resolve and belief in the long run in stories.
I don't think they are a different concept. One smashes more. One spells more. I treated 'em that way in 3.5 and I still do in 4.0. Both my groups do as well.
Exp-Free Since 2004! My Fellow Game Masters! Stop giving out exp. Stop having your players roll for stats or wealth. Stop making them build each pick a different role, if they all wanna be rangers let them and don't kill them for it, stop ruining their fun.
A God who gives someone power, has a vested interest in seeing them succeed and cares at least a bit about the worshiper and whatever reason inspired them to grant power.

These discussions go so much more smoothly when people (in this case, you) bother to read the PHB.

The PHB states that Clerics who receive their powers directly from the god, rather than having the abilities invested in them through rituals performed by the church, are rare. And it goes on to state that even the Clerics who receive their powers directly from the god are policed by the church rather than the god. Paladins are also policed by the church rather than the god.

The traditional "apologize if you want your powers back" fall from grace doesn't make any sense whatsoever in this edition. The PHB makes it quite clear that the ability to grant divine power and the responsibility for the poor choices made when granting divine power have been delegated to the church.

So apparently the gods don't care that much. They're too busy doing god things. Also keep in mind that gods are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, according to the DMG.


This is why I never really liked the whole "you can worship a concept" thing done in 3e.

The "Cleric of a cause" is still around. From the PHB...
Sometimes clerics are devoted to churches that venerate groups of deities or even philosophies.

The "Cleric of a cause" is still around. From the PHB...

Augh, I figured. :P

The traditional "apologize if you want your powers back" fall from grace doesn't make any sense whatsoever in this edition. The PHB makes it quite clear that the ability to grant divine power and the responsibility for the poor choices made when granting divine power have been delegated to the church.

Very true. It's just a difference in design about those classes that's changed over the years.

Personally (and this is only about my taste, mind you), I think it's a very atheist (as in "designed by") idea. Or whatever that term is for a person that believes in gods but doesn't think they're "gods", just really powerful beings (whatever that means).

Basically there are no clerics running around going "my god is the true god", only ones saying "my god is cooler than yours and you should join cuz ___". The fact that you can worship a philosophy just further dilutes the issue, making the choice of deity for paladin or cleric about as important as what kind of jam I want on my toast - they certainly taste different, and you might prefer one or another, but none of them are inherently superior, even in your eyes.
Not to mention 99% of your power/feature choices are going to be exactly the same - only different if you voluntarily take a feat.

Note that while I am religious, I never push my religion on people and this it's an undesirable practice.
However, this is fantasy - and fantasy based on our world as well (especially in the form of paladin and cleric - just look at the names). I don't think the idea that all these pantheons get along hunky-dorey in rainbow land (exaggeration) and don't interact with their world with avatars or exarchs even when they have the power to do so, or leave it wholly up to their followers how to police the clergy in a way that can only be called "as secular as religion can get", is fun. I think it's pretty boring actually.

Not that I think gods should be interfering all the time. But come on - in another thread we were talking about how 4e likens PCs to Greek heroes. Well how often did the Greek gods mess with stuff? A lot! Are the gods unknowable, distant beings who give us the equivalent of lip service with an occasional vague divination? Or are they capricious, flawed, interesting characters who have a vested interest in their churches prospering (or at least doing what they want)?

Bottom line, for me, is that when I play a cleric or paladin, I want to be devoted. My whole concept is some kind of holy (or unholy) warrior. If my powers come from me or my fellow clerics, and I don't have to answer to anyone but them (or myself), and I don't have any repercussions beyond what I decide and maybe the occasional ******-off angel - I'm not a holy warrior. I am not "channeling my god's power. I'm channeling my own and pretending whatever God of the Week I think is cool is my no-strings-attached spellbook.

I mean, it's perfectly fine if people out there do this in Real Life. In RL, we don't know whether God(s) even exist or if he(they) are just some kind of mass mind-virus that affects over half the population. But in a fantasy game, where we have the power to mess with these kinds of perceptions, I actually find it a little insulting that D&D takes the stance of "har har s'all you dog, worship whatever you want - worship pie if you like, your prayers will be answered". And that's why I'm down with anything that makes clerics and paladins a bit more unique and a bit more in line with the whole "I am a conduit for the Greatest ____ I know" thing.