The material below is open game content
Clerics are, despite appearances, not an extension of their deity. Each is a unique individual with his own needs, wants, and dreams. Most often, a cleric grows more in tune with his god as he rises through the ranks of his church and, with increasing personal power, the clerics grows stronger. There are times, though, when things do not go as planned and the followers of the divine discover that the path they are on is not one they wish to tread. Collectively known as the Fallen, these are the men who abandon their gods and go their own way. Though pitied by their peers, the Fallen are most often allowed to pursue their life as they wish – while some religions may not allow any cleric to ever abandon his position, few are so stringent.
In this section, these types of clerics will be introduced and discussed, along with information on how a cleric goes about leaving a religion, how he might join a new faith, and what it takes to get back into the good graces of his original deity.
Becoming one of the fallen is as simple as declaring your independence from your current god. Assuming that such an act does not violate any of the vows taken when the cleric joined his faith, he is now free to go about his life as he sees fit. The cleric loses all of his divinely granted abilities, however, and will likely suffer the loss of at least some of his contacts from within the church. At the very least, one of the fallen will no longer be privy to the inner workings of the faith and will be met with suspicion by members of any other religious organization he attempts to join. When a cleric becomes one of the fallen, he immediately loses all divinely granted abilities, including spells and the ability to turn or rebuke undead, and may not advance as a cleric of his former religion. Turning his back on his god, the cleric is no longer able to draw upon the power provided by the spurned deity.
There are none more loathsome than those who not only turn away from their faith but take their hatred one step further and betray their former allies to the enemies of the church. These treacherous clerics steal what they can from their temples before disappearing into the night. Particularly effective traitors have managed to take relics, ancient scrolls, and countless treasures with them when they defect to another religion. Known by others as the wretched, these clerics are despised by virtually all religions, though there are those who will make use of them if given the chance.
When a cleric leaves his church with intention of betraying the faith, he will lose all of his clerical abilities within 1d6 + 10 – level of cleric class days. Once his god, or an agent of that god, discovers the treason of the cleric, the connection between god and man is severed and the cleric loses all granted powers, including spell casting ability and the ability to turn undead. Due to the lack of a public declaration of renunciation, the cleric’s betrayal may go unnoticed for a short time; higher level clerics draw the attention of their god much more quickly than their lower-level counterparts whose treachery may go unnoticed for a few days.
Once a god learns of the traitorous actions, however, the effects are instant and severe. The cleric loses all abilities formerly granted by his god, including the power to cast divine spells, granted powers, the ability to turn or rebuke undead, and the ability to use any other divine abilities that require the expenditure of a turning or rebuking attempt. In addition to the loss of his granted abilities, the cleric also suffers the effects of a bestow curse spell that will last for one week per caster level – clerics suffering from this must deal with a –4 enhancement penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks for the duration of the spell-like effect. Note that this is a curse placed upon the character by his deity, with no saving throw allowed.
A wretched cleric cannot advanced as a cleric of his former deity, but it may be possible for him to continue his clerical duties for another god. While the promise of acceptance by a rival religion is often offered to a cleric when he is contemplating his betrayal, in practice it is not so readily given. While the new allies will happily accept any information the wretched has to offer, they are not so ready to trust him – after all, if he succumbed to the temptation to turn his back on one god for promises of a greater reward elsewhere, it is probably best not to put too much faith in him.
In order to find a place in the new religious order, the wretched must convince the elders of the church of his worth. The information provided is certainly a start, but it is rarely enough. In most cases, the cleric will be required to subject himself to a quest spell in order to prove himself worthy in the eyes of his new church. Most quests given for this purpose will revolve around a blow struck against the former religion, such as stealing an item of divine significance, but some are meant merely to cement the new cleric to the adopting faith. In the latter instance, clerics may be required to commit a crime, often with several accomplices from the church. This serves the dual purpose of enforcing loyalty (after all, the cleric wouldn’t want the guard to discover his misdeeds) and assisting the church in some of its more unsavory duties.
If the cleric succeeds in his quest, he is accepted into the new religion and the cleric levels gained serving the old deity are reinstated by the new god. Naturally, all available spells and domain powers will change based on the portfolio of the new god, but the bestow curse spell is lifted and the cleric is able to continue his career. At this point, the clerics of the new faith will cast the atonement spell on the newly converted priest and his alignment will change to more closely match that of his new religion. The cleric’s new alignment is as close to his previous alignment as possible and still allowed in the new religion.
In most cases, a good-aligned church will not receive an evil traitor from another religion. While it is possible for a cleric to redeem himself from his dark ways, the likelihood of a real overnight conversion is so slim that few good temples are willing to take the risk. An evil cleric that abandons his church will find no succor in a good temple, but must first bring his own alignment into closer accordance with the new religion. Neutral religions are not as picky about who they accept, in most cases, and are willing to adopt either evil or good clerics as long as the wretched are willing to undergo an appropriate quest. It is important to note that a cleric must consciously choose to betray his religion in order to become one of the wretched. A cleric who simply leaves one church to join another does not become one of the wretched.
After leaving a church, for whatever reason, some clerics feel a void in the life, a missing piece of themselves that can only be replaced by a return to their religious vows. But returning to a former church is not as simple as that and the cleric will have to prove that he can once more be trusted with the divine power of his faith and the secrets of his temple.
For good religions, provided the cleric has not suffered a change in alignment or committed an action that the church finds unforgivable, this can be a simple process. The cleric presents himself to the leaders of a local temple and states his case to them. A Diplomacy check (DC 30) is required to sway them outright. If the check fails, all is not lost. The cleric must agree to submit to a quest spell, as above, and perform a task for the church. The required task is always one that furthers the current goals of the temple or thwarts the plans of an enemy and is often quite dangerous. While the cleric is allowed to choose allies to assist him in his quest, he must provide proof that he has completed what was required. The church will offer no assistance during the quest, nor will the god the cleric wishes to serve – it is up to the individual cleric to prove they are sincere in their desire to rejoin the church. In either of the above two cases, when the cleric has been accepted back into the church, clerics of the faith will perform the atonement spell, cementing the cleric’s return to the religion.
It is also possible for a former cleric to redeem himself more directly and bypass the need to contact a temple at all. If the former cleric can pull together a congregation with at least twenty members per clerical level; at least half of the members of this congregation must be new converts, brought into the fold by the former cleric. The former cleric must provide the congregation with a house of worship and conduct services there in the name of the god he hopes to serve on a daily basis for a period of no less than on month. If all of these conditions are met, then the former cleric redeems himself, is once again able to gain levels as a cleric and regains all the abilities and granted powers appropriate to his current clerical level and the domains of his god. In this case, the cleric does not require the use of an atonement spell – his devotion and ardent faith have already been proven.
A cleric who leaves his church with the intention of joining a new religion is rare, but stranger things have happened in the world. As long as the cleric has no intention to damage the religion he is leaving and there are no vows forbidding the abandonment of his temple, the cleric will likely suffer no ill effects from departing from the faith. Naturally, all clerical abilities granted by his devotion to his former deity will be lost, just as if he were one of the Fallen, but the cleric will be able to continue his advancement as a cleric if he can find another deity willing to accept him into the fold.
In order to successfully convert to a new religion, the cleric must succeed at a Wisdom check (DC 30), with the modifiers as shown in the table above:
If the cleric’s Wisdom check succeeds, then he has convinced the clerics of his new religion to cast the atonement spell for him, and is accepted into the faith. Acceptance into the churches of his new religion may be more difficult, though the cleric will typically not have to undergo a quest for the church. In most cases, newly converted clerics are given the chance to prove themselves to the church by overseeing minor tasks and assisting with the day-to-day operations of a temple. This period of servitude normally lasts for sixth months, minus one week per level of the caster. Though the cleric is not required to complete this ‘breaking in’ period by his deity, the other clerics will certainly view him with resentment if he elects not to put in his time.
|Self-Conversion Modifiers||Condition Modifier|
|Cleric and new deity have the same alignment||+5 circumstance bonus|
|Current (or past) deity and new deity share one or more domains||+5 circumstance bonus / domain|
|Current (or past) deity and new deity are within the same pantheon||+5 Divine bonus|
|Characters has four or more clerical levels||+1 Competance bonus / 4 clerical levels|
|Current (or past) deity and new deity are rivals||- 5 Divine penalty|
|Cleric has performed a task in the past that offends the new deity and/or new church||-10 circumstance penalty|
|Cleric led a congregation in his former church||-5 circumstance penalty|