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View Full Version : Clerics, Paladins, and Afterlife Insurance



Khi'Khi
2016-10-18, 04:48 PM
The good cleric and the paladin. The stalwarts among the faithful, bastions of good and purity, saviors and defenders of the innocent. Sworn devotees of the divine for all their born days, for they know that an eternal reward awaits them in the afterlife.

That is, unless that evil sorcerer you were fighting finishes you off with hellfire-ray. Then sorry, Sir Brightblade. It doesn't matter how many orphans you pulled out of that fire, you're damned to hell for all eternity.

Its a fairly common trope that those serving a divine power are protected, both in life and after death. The slain paladin's soul is escorted to its rightful place in heaven by angels, bathed in a heavenly light. But then, what happens when other abilities interfere with the soul? The undead can sometimes make ghosts or ghasts from the souls of their victims, along with other spells like the aforementioned hellfire-ray (though this one does allow a will save.) Can the spirit of a divine servant be snatched away so easily?

I for one, would think that a good-aligned deity at least would afford some afterlife insurance for their fallen hero. Has anyone had experience with a conflict like this?

PersonMan
2016-10-18, 05:01 PM
I think the default assumption in play is that the Natural Order Of Things brings each soul to where it belongs after the death of its physical form. It's like a river that flows into different lakes, carrying souls along their currents.

Magic that brings a soul to a certain place is a net that swipes up a soul and then throws them into the river that feeds into a specific lake.

The gods wouldn't have anything to do with it in most cases. Presumably they could, for their chosen servants, ensure their safety by plucking them out of the river right away and ferrying them to the correct lake.

root
2016-10-18, 05:34 PM
I feel like when it comes down to undead it only adds to the horror of those things. An honorable paladin turned into a vengeful ghost, or being soulbound to some undead monstrosity, is just too cool of a situation. A high level cleric or paladin falling to the undead will probably be enough of an reason for people from their faith to redouble their efforts against undead and try to rescue their fallen compatriot.

As for spells, I don't know... Is there necessarily a huge difference between plane walking into Abyss or being damned to it, from the diety's perception? If anything using a spell that sends the soul of its victim to lower planes instead of a regular old' fireball underlines just how evil the caster is.

D&D generally has a problem when it comes down to deities and just how much they get involved in the Material Plane. Its heavily setting dependent, of course, but having a non-aggression pact that prevents them from heavily interfering in lives of mortals directly is almost always a good idea if you want to avoid various scenarios from Greek mythology.

With the level system in place in D&D and many other games, you really have to consider just how direct and close the connection between a follower and a diety is. A commoner devoted to Pelor? Probably out of luck. A low level paladin or cleric? Probably beyond notice as well. A high level non-divine adventurerer might bring direct attention of a minor servant of a god... An arch-bishop of the religion probably spoke with the avatar of the god once or twice but whether that gives him an extra advantage is entirely up to you.

veti
2016-10-18, 05:47 PM
I feel like when it comes down to undead it only adds to the horror of those things. An honorable paladin turned into a vengeful ghost, or being soulbound to some undead monstrosity, is just too cool of a situation. A high level cleric or paladin falling to the undead will probably be enough of an reason for people from their faith to redouble their efforts against undead and try to rescue their fallen compatriot.

Yeah, this. It's part of what makes "making (greater) undead" so evil: you're binding the soul of the victim. (Of course, if the "victim" was bound to a lower plane anyway, you might be doing them a favour. But that's by the by. You're still Messing With The Rightful Order Of Stuff.)

For the gods to save the soul in such a case, they would need to intervene directly to thwart the spell being cast. Of course it's well within their divine powers to do that, but it would violate the No Direct Intervention (except on special occasions as defined in Schedule 13.3 of the Treaty of Mechanus) pact that they've all got going.

IntelectPaladin
2016-10-18, 06:02 PM
Once again, I find myself replying to a thread moments after reading it's title.
Or any of the comments of others. A bad habit, I know, but I'm tired.
I have one character, and one that I've had for years: my namesake, a paladin.
Yes, yes, make whatever reactions you like.
Through it all, I've been through quite a few adventures, including the afterlife.
In one of the conversations with the primary deities, I was told that,
despite my graveknight-ification,
I would be allowed into the upper planes.
(Want to know what a graveknight is? Here: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/bestiary3/graveknight.html)

In all honesty, a good person ending up somewhere horrible is
usually due to a less-than-positive-feeling DM,
I-e the sort that throws things at you and means it. I've met a few.
One of them was rather...worse than usual.
That's my reaction to the title, and the first few sentences.
and not a well-thought-out reply, so please go on however you like.
The thoughtful response is later, when I calm down.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a better day!
As a postscript, let me mention that I add hidden messages to my every post.

SethoMarkus
2016-10-18, 06:53 PM
Hmm, interesting premise. On the one hand, I want to say that all devout followers of a deity are guaranteed to be granted eternity in that deity's domain/plane in the afterlife (especially divine followers and champions of that deity). On the other hand, I agree that handwaving away the effects of being turned into an undead or sent directly to the nine hells cheapens the underlying dramatic pressure of good vs evil...

I suppose, in a game that I would run, devout followers would always have an opportunity for redemption or rescue after the fact. A Paladin turned into a Wraith could still move on to the Upper Planes after their undead form is destroyed. A Cleric killed by hellfire-ray can be "rescued" by other heroes invading the plane, etc.

That's more or less how it runs by default anyway, isn't it?

It really does make for some good storytelling, though. Especially in a heroic campaign fighting the forced of Evil. The virtuous leader, the bastion of all that is good and right, struck down before you and his form twisted, corrupted into a caricture, a puppet of the very forces you fight against. And it is then that you fully realize the gravity of the situation at hand; only then that for feel the weight of the consequences should you fail...

Khi'Khi
2016-10-18, 07:06 PM
For the gods to save the soul in such a case, they would need to intervene directly to thwart the spell being cast. Of course it's well within their divine powers to do that, but it would violate the No Direct Intervention (except on special occasions as defined in Schedule 13.3 of the Treaty of Mechanus) pact that they've all got going.

Yes, but that's where divine agents come in. I've always had the picture that there's a division of angels whose job it is to protect and ferry souls to the proper afterlife. Its they who fight against any forces trying to pull the soul into the wrong plane. The Dresden Files series had a great take on this, I highly recommend it.

It just seems like a supremely jerk-ish move on the part of a good-aligned god to not protect their champions. That's part of the pseudo "deal" that clerics and paladins make with their deity. In exchange for a lifetime of service, in which they may possibly die, the god provides them with power and protection to further their interests. Its just hard to imagine a good deity not lifting a finger to help the paladin unfortunate enough to fall holding the line against a nest of demons.

root
2016-10-18, 07:18 PM
Yes, but that's where divine agents come in. I've always had the picture that there's a division of angels whose job it is to protect and ferry souls to the proper afterlife. Its they who fight against any forces trying to pull the soul into the wrong plane. The Dresden Files series had a great take on this, I highly recommend it.

It just seems like a supremely jerk-ish move on the part of a good-aligned god to not protect their champions. That's part of the pseudo "deal" that clerics and paladins make with their deity. In exchange for a lifetime of service, in which they may possibly die, the god provides them with power and protection to further their interests. Its just hard to imagine a good deity not lifting a finger to help the paladin unfortunate enough to fall holding the line against a nest of demons.

Well, you could always argue that there's an unspoken pact between all gods, both good and evil, that they will not directly interfere in the affairs of the mortal realm. Sure, Pelor or Moradin might be able to come down and single handedly rout an army of evil orcs, save and empower a great champion of Good from betrayal and untimely death, and so on... but then Demogorgon will pay the world a visit as well, and bring an army of demons with him and the ensuing conflict between gods on material plane will destroy the world.

So they all work through intermediaries. The gods of evil whisper dark secrets into the minds of their acolytes, give them little pushes to summon in demons and their own avatars so they can wreck chaos. The gods of good declare that all of it is total BS and teach their followers healing spells and ways of fighting evil, never actually entering the fray themselves. A death or corruption of a well known paladin might not shake the heavens, but it'll definitely send some words and prophetic visions down the line, inspiring a rescue of sorts from other mortals.

The more freedom gods have on the mortal realm, the harder they're to deal with by the player or the DM. Especially if you don't want to be an *******, as the latter. Gods in ancient Greek myths loved to walk among mortals, and that rarely turned out well - a woman pissed off a goddess by knitting better than her and got turned into a spider for it, a couple of hunters got involved in a divine hunt and got turned into deer, and so on. A whole lot of folks got killed or otherwise violated.

Braininthejar2
2016-10-18, 07:27 PM
This is where the heroes come in. That;s how gods solve such problems.

veti
2016-10-18, 08:18 PM
It just seems like a supremely jerk-ish move on the part of a good-aligned god to not protect their champions.

Well, it all comes down to "what's the cost of doing that?"

In order to give themselves the right to make that intervention, the good gods would have to write a clause into their treaty/pact that allows it. But what price would the other side demand in exchange? It's the nature of pacts that you can't change them unilaterally, so if you feel strongly enough about a particular clause, you have to be willing to pay for it.

Obviously this is the DM's call to make. But if the DM wants to justify it not happening, it's trivially easy to do.

Darth Ultron
2016-10-18, 08:21 PM
I for one, would think that a good-aligned deity at least would afford some afterlife insurance for their fallen hero. Has anyone had experience with a conflict like this?

I would say this is true for most gods, not just the good ones. Gods need to do this to keep worshipers.


Yes, but that's where divine agents come in.

I see the average god having something like a billion agents of all power levels.


Like say Sir Goodblade was turned into an undead. Would the god come down and personally save him....most likely not. But to send a vision to a follower of ''save Sir Goodblade'', yup they would do that.

Verbannon
2016-10-18, 09:57 PM
Thats why Paladins and Clerics always call undead killing "freeing souls". Without soul trapping giving them a noble goal, it would just be pest control.

Spore
2016-10-18, 10:12 PM
Its a fairly common trope that those serving a divine power are protected, both in life and after death.

This honestly depends on the importance of both the villain killing the hero and the hero itself.

A lowly necromancer getting the kill after his whole cult has weakened the noble champion of light? His necromancy can still trap the hero in a lowly CR 1 skeleton. He will be dispatched by a random Lv 3 cleric around town in weeks however. (the DM might consider this interlude unnecessary and make the low level necromancy unable to contain the paladin however).

The mid level cleric lich turning the 5th level paladin into a wraith and keeping him bound to his lair? Unlikely that a lowly comrade will waltz right in there and free his champion.

Clistenes
2016-10-19, 01:34 PM
Well, there is a reason most Good faiths hate undeath so much...

Anyways, Good churches try to destroy undead and release the trapped souls. And it stands to reason that undead made from the most powerful, good and pious people around take precedence in their to-do list, so that Allip or Wraith or Vampire has a good chance of getting slayed sooner or later.

Of course, there probably are undead who run to the depths of Abyss or whatever and are never found and destroyed, but, hey, Evil wins sometimes.

flond
2016-10-20, 12:31 AM
I sort of liked how Glorantha did something like this.

Most of the time, if you fell to something that could devour souls, you were out of luck. However, if you were a devout worshiper of the god that fights chaos he would ALWAYS make his strongest effort to go after you. Both as a perk and as part of his essential nature.

Which honestly, seems pretty hackable for DnD purposes. Most gods aren't really equipped for that sort of thing, but may try. The gods that directly lead the fight against evil though, if you make their chosen into an undead, expect literal plagues.

Khi'Khi
2016-10-20, 01:35 AM
Well, you could always argue that there's an unspoken pact between all gods, both good and evil, that they will not directly interfere in the affairs of the mortal realm. Sure, Pelor or Moradin might be able to come down and single handedly rout an army of evil orcs, save and empower a great champion of Good from betrayal and untimely death, and so on... but then Demogorgon will pay the world a visit as well, and bring an army of demons with him and the ensuing conflict between gods on material plane will destroy the world.



This is a good point, though I don't think it conflicts with my original scenario. Lets say there is some sort of non-interference clause among the gods (which I would assume would transfer over to their respective followers to some extent.) This means that the respective forces don't mess with the "natural order" of the afterlife; good souls can't be damned after death, nor evil ones redeemed. One could assume that forcing a good soul into undeath, or dragging one off to hell undeservedly is in itself a violation of that pact.

Lets say Evil McMagus was a servant of an evil god, and in the course of his duties he takes the life of Sir Valiant by means of the hellfire ray spell. The mage has interfered with the natural course of the paladin's afterlife, and so has broken the pact. Because of this, the good god can either A: directly interfere himself (unlikely) or send his own agents on his behalf to correct the interference (more likely, and good for plot hooks.)

PersonMan
2016-10-20, 03:57 AM
One possibility is that there are specific clauses in the Deific Non-Aggression Pacts that ensure equal escalation - so old breaks of the pacts, like allowing for Evil God Priests to use Hellfire Rays to trap Good souls, would be countered by similar motions of the Good deities: spells that can destroy undead and release trapped souls, or rescue a soul that's been imprisoned.

This means that the answer to a question like "Why can the Evil clerics just trap paladin souls?" would be "Because Good clerics can just release them" under similar conditions.

Mark Hall
2016-10-20, 09:00 AM
My general response:

http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/07/corpses-and-caches.html

So, in most cases, the dead go to their proper place. Sacrificing someone in the name of [deity] gives that deity at least a chunk of the power they'd get from the soul, undead level draining attacks wear away at the power the soul has to provide, and so on. The freely given soul (of a believer) belongs to the deity who they gave it to, but the one it was sacrificed to (by an evil cultist) gets to claim a chunk, since it was sent to the outer planes by their priest.

Vinyadan
2016-10-20, 10:33 AM
I think that this is a good chance to create outrage among the good and start a plot revolving around Good and its coworkers trying to get the pally back.

And, by getting the pally back, I mean turbostomping the evil sorcerer who did that. It's like killing Ursula.

I don't really like the concept of non intervention pacts or that sort of things. I prefer the idea that gods act based on faith, faith being an NPC thing that allows miracles outside of the Miracle spell, and an inscrutable will with terminal results clear to the gods and OK for their alignments, but unknown to the players. I also think that the gods should otherwise give powers to their clerics and that these clerics can do whatever they will within the alignment, independent of what other gods think, and that they will lose their powers when they jump over the horizon with their acts. I don't like the concept of pacts because they seem to remove some awesomeness from the gods, I don't think gods should be explained that way, it's like statting them.

So yes, IMHO your exalted PC might be robbed of its blessitude, although it would be nice if this were put into a story where this comes as a consequence of an act of selfishness and the curse is obtained during the realization of how vain or selfish that act was. This way, the time spent cursed can appear as a time of purgatory which ends when other PCs free your soul to go to its rightful place.

Satinavian
2016-10-20, 11:53 AM
I would not give some extra Afterlive insurence or special rules for clerics and paladins.

However i would everyone normally allow to go to their personal diety if at least one step away alignment wise. I woulldn't like rules where most clerics don't get to their sponsor.


Undead, well, i would say Undeath does only actually trap a sould if the undead is sentient or it is actually stated. And actions as undead don't change the afterlife if the undead is not free willed or can't really make moral choices as basically the same person. Eventually the soul will get where it belongs.


Other stuff, soul eating, soul imprisoning, soul trading with devils, soul sacrifices... well, tough luck.

Pex
2016-10-20, 12:07 PM
The more freedom gods have on the mortal realm, the harder they're to deal with by the player or the DM. Especially if you don't want to be an *******, as the latter. Gods in ancient Greek myths loved to walk among mortals, and that rarely turned out well - a woman pissed off a goddess by knitting better than her and got turned into a spider for it, a couple of hunters got involved in a divine hunt and got turned into deer, and so on. A whole lot of folks got killed or otherwise violated.

Nitpick:

Arachne boasted she was better at weaving than Athena. Athena challenged her and won easily. Arachne hung herself. Then Athena turned her into a spider so that she could weave forever.

It's a common Greek myth trope. The Sin is boasting you are better than the gods in your gift. It's ok to acknowledge your own talent and thank the gods for it, but once you say you're above the gods you crossed the line and will be punished.

Max_Killjoy
2016-10-20, 12:22 PM
Well, you could always argue that there's an unspoken pact between all gods, both good and evil, that they will not directly interfere in the affairs of the mortal realm. Sure, Pelor or Moradin might be able to come down and single handedly rout an army of evil orcs, save and empower a great champion of Good from betrayal and untimely death, and so on... but then Demogorgon will pay the world a visit as well, and bring an army of demons with him and the ensuing conflict between gods on material plane will destroy the world.

So they all work through intermediaries. The gods of evil whisper dark secrets into the minds of their acolytes, give them little pushes to summon in demons and their own avatars so they can wreck chaos. The gods of good declare that all of it is total BS and teach their followers healing spells and ways of fighting evil, never actually entering the fray themselves. A death or corruption of a well known paladin might not shake the heavens, but it'll definitely send some words and prophetic visions down the line, inspiring a rescue of sorts from other mortals.

The more freedom gods have on the mortal realm, the harder they're to deal with by the player or the DM. Especially if you don't want to be an *******, as the latter. Gods in ancient Greek myths loved to walk among mortals, and that rarely turned out well - a woman pissed off a goddess by knitting better than her and got turned into a spider for it, a couple of hunters got involved in a divine hunt and got turned into deer, and so on. A whole lot of folks got killed or otherwise violated.

Protecting the soul of a true, faithful, devoted follower who repeatedly risked their life for the cause, from being dumped into eternal suffering, is hardly "direct interference".

Max_Killjoy
2016-10-20, 12:23 PM
Nitpick:

Arachne boasted she was better at weaving than Athena. Athena challenged her and won easily. Arachne hung herself. Then Athena turned her into a spider so that she could weave forever.

It's a common Greek myth trope. The Sin is boasting you are better than the gods in your gift. It's ok to acknowledge your own talent and thank the gods for it, but once you say you're above the gods you crossed the line and will be punished.

To the Greeks, pride was OK, hubris was not.

Vinyadan
2016-10-20, 12:32 PM
Gods in ancient Greek myths loved to walk among mortals, and that rarely turned out well - a woman pissed off a goddess by knitting better than her and got turned into a spider for it, a couple of hunters got involved in a divine hunt and got turned into deer...

...a dude separated two copulating snakes and got turned into a woman...

GrayDeath
2016-10-20, 01:13 PM
...a dude separated two copulating snakes and got turned into a woman...


Might be its been to long, but mind telling more about that, i cant seem to remember it....


@ Topic: tough.

It depends very heavily on the setting I`d say.
In FR, with its OnlyGodClerics, its Wall of the Unfaithful and other VERY God-Entitlement focused things I`d say that they usually do intervene in one way or the other (not limited to the Good ones), it seems the fitting thing in such a combattative "market".

In other Settings not so much.


overall though I`d say its up to the mood you want to inspire: is it Might Makes Right, no matter faith, virtue or anything, or do you want "good" (or even Dovotion itself) to TRULY matter?

Vinyadan
2016-10-20, 01:29 PM
Might be its been to long, but mind telling more about that, i cant seem to remember it....


Tiresias, the Theban clairvoyant. One of the snakes was Zeus in one of his ingenious ruses. I don't know who the other snake was, and it could just have been an exceptionally pretty snakess. Another version is that Zeus had nothing to do with it and Era was displeased by this action of Tiresias, again, no idea why.

Max_Killjoy
2016-10-20, 02:05 PM
Tiresias, the Theban clairvoyant. One of the snakes was Zeus in one of his ingenious ruses. I don't know who the other snake was, and it could just have been an exceptionally pretty snakess. Another version is that Zeus had nothing to do with it and Era was displeased by this action of Tiresias, again, no idea why.

Or it was Hera.

As with many Greek religious and mythological stories... It Depends On Who You Ask. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiresias

veti
2016-10-20, 03:07 PM
As with many Greek religious and mythological stories... It Depends On Who You Ask. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiresias

It's kinda the defining feature of genuine, bona-fide mythology that there is no single "authoritative" version that everyone accepts, but many sources each putting their own interpretation and spin on some base story.

Which is why Star Wars will never be mythic, no matter how much gets invested in it. Indeed, the more investment, the less scope there is for unauthorised interpretations.

Mark Hall
2016-10-20, 07:42 PM
Which is why Star Wars will never be mythic, no matter how much gets invested in it. Indeed, the more investment, the less scope there is for unauthorised interpretations.

The Holiday Special is always canon in THIS house.

Verbannon
2016-10-20, 10:53 PM
In the D&D point of light setting, heaven is actually broken, so there is no garuntee of a heaven for anyone.

Bohandas
2016-10-21, 01:54 AM
I for one, would think that a good-aligned deity at least would afford some afterlife insurance for their fallen hero. Has anyone had experience with a conflict like this?

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/subgenius/images/6/62/Eternal_salvation_or_triple_your_money_back.jpg

GrayDeath
2016-10-21, 06:08 AM
Tiresias, the Theban clairvoyant. One of the snakes was Zeus in one of his ingenious ruses. I don't know who the other snake was, and it could just have been an exceptionally pretty snakess. Another version is that Zeus had nothing to do with it and Era was displeased by this action of Tiresias, again, no idea why.

Ah, thank you, that was him.

Why in the World hera transformed him into a Woman for hitting (not hitting ON mind!) a snake though (and why that would be seen as a punishment given the other things greek Gods were loath to turn people into) I dont get.

Still interesting.

Vinyadan
2016-10-21, 07:02 PM
I now just remembered that the story got weirder. Some years later, Zeus and Era began arguing about who had more pleasure during sex, men or women, each of them saying that the other was luckier. The other gods took part to the discussion, but, of course, no one could give a conclusive answer, until someone remembered Tiresias, who, in the meantime, was back to man. Tiresias answered that women have ten time more pleasure than men. Era was so sour at having been called wrong that she blinded him, while Zeus gave him clairvoyance as a compensation for having proven him right.

Bohandas
2016-10-22, 12:37 AM
The Holiday Special is always canon in THIS house.

and Kylo Ren will always be Darth Caedus

Pex
2016-10-22, 02:29 AM
I now just remembered that the story got weirder. Some years later, Zeus and Era began arguing about who had more pleasure during sex, men or women, each of them saying that the other was luckier. The other gods took part to the discussion, but, of course, no one could give a conclusive answer, until someone remembered Tiresias, who, in the meantime, was back to man. Tiresias answered that women have ten time more pleasure than men. Era was so sour at having been called wrong that she blinded him, while Zeus gave him clairvoyance as a compensation for having proven him right.

Ah, the other Greek myth trope. If two or more gods ask you to settle a dispute the one you decide against will always screw you over. You cannot win.