Can paladins worship an evil deity?


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Grand Lodge

Is there anything preventing a paladin from worshiping an evil deity?


I would argue that any Paladin who supports the goals and 'virtues' of an evil god is probably going to fall in a couple sessions anyway.

So he's either not actually lawful good, or he's not honestly worshiping the evil god.


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Errrm...

PRD wrote:

Paladin

(..) These noble souls dedicate their swords and lives to the battle against evil. Knights, crusaders, and law-bringers, paladins seek not just to spread divine justice but to embody the teachings of the virtuous deities they serve. In pursuit of their lofty goals, they adhere to ironclad laws of morality and discipline. As reward for their righteousness, these holy champions are blessed with boons to aid them in their quests: powers to banish evil, heal the innocent, and inspire the faithful. Although their convictions might lead them into conflict with the very souls they would save, paladins weather endless challenges of faith and dark temptations, risking their lives to do right and fighting to bring about a brighter future.


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You mean beyond the fact that he breaks the 'Associates' clause, the "Champion against Evil" section of his class, and the fact that he can't really meet the Alignment restrictions, plus the fact that worshiping an evil god knowingly is committing an evil act by definition?


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His intelligence.
While paladin's spells don't come from their deity (I mean, a paladin would have spells even if he doesn't worship anyone), they would have great problem in not fighting themselves, because there's no way they could worship Asmodeus, or even Rovagug. If you want to be a paladin who worship an evil deity, play an antipaladin.


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Paladins must be lawful good, by rules.

Most character, by rules, can only be one step removed from the alignment of any deity they want to worship. Which means that since paladins can only be LG, they can only follow LG, NG, or LN gods.

Anti-Paladins can follow evil gods, but only NE and CE, as LE is more than one step away from their required CE alignment.


For instance. If you are a cleric of norgeber you could be LE,CE,NE,or N.So you could not worship an evil deity. But you could be of LN, or NG.

Grand Lodge

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ME LIKE SMASH wrote:
For instance. If you are a cleric of norgeber you could be LE,CE,NE,or N.So you could not worship an evil deity. But you could be of LN, or NG.

This is true for clerics, but where is it stated for other classes?

Grand Lodge

Isn't this what the antipalidan class exists for?


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FLite wrote:
Isn't this what the antipalidan class exists for?

No, no, I'm sure the paragon of Lawful Goodness will get by fine espousing the merits of evil god worship.


Why would a paladin want to worship an evil deity? I don't see how that could ever be a good idea.


'Sani wrote:
All character, by rules, can only be one step removed from the alignment of any deity they want to worship. Which means that since paladins can only be LG, they can only follow LG, NG, or LN gods.

By rules it's only Clerics, Inquisitors, and Warpriests that need to be within one step of their chosen deity; any Fighter, Wizard, Monk, etc. heck even the Paladin can worship any deity but will most likely quickly fall if they worship an evil deity if they follow what they stand for and if they don't there isn't much reason to worship them in the first point.

'Sani wrote:
Anti-Paladins can follow evil gods, but only NE and CE, as LE is more than one step away from their required CE alignment.

Also they can worship CN gods too and technically others but like a Paladin they would most likely quickly fall or have no reason to worship them in the first place.


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I could think of some homebrew corner cases, like Lawful Evil deities that aren't otherwise bad guys, but really promote undead.

Necrolaborius the Death Worker:
A god who promotes the use of undead to better the everyday lives of the people. "Eternal rest is for the lazy. Get a job!"

Edit: Oh fun, I made up a word that wasn't previously on Google.

Liberty's Edge

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Other than the fact that it contradicts RAW and the class themetically to the point of irony, pretty much nothing.


A paladin can respect an evil deity for the aspects of that deity's portfolio that a paladin feels are worthy of respect. For example, the Order of the Godclaw Hellknights in Golarion have many paladins among them, and do not worship any deity in particular, but give honor and respect to several of the lawful core deities. Such a paladin would respect Asmodeus as a paragon of lawfulness, but not worship him.


Only clerics have the restriction of being required to be within one alignment step of their deity.

As a house rule, I require it all characters to be within one alignment step of a deity. Otherwise I would consider your personal belief and your deity's belief to be at odds and incompatible. So you could say you worshipped a particular deity, but the deity wouldn't recognize you as a worshipper or grant you any powers nor would you benefit from anything specific to that deity. But this is simply my houserule, not a rule in the rulebooks.

Also, if I had a player that came in with that concept I'd probably have to sit down and have a serious talk with them about whether or not that made sense even if it wasn't strictly against the rules.

And I agree with the respect versus worship. You can respect an enemy, but you do not worship them. Evil is the paladin's enemy.

While a paladin might respect Asmodeus cunning, and his lawful nature he will always be odds with his evil aspects.


I would generally say no to an evil god, although it is possible to steep them into the culture of an evil god worshiping culture.

The Oath Against Chaos is how Chelaixian paladins try to reconcile their place within the devil worshiper's structure by devoting themselves to the Lawful part first, and the Good part second. Generally, this would be justified by saying that a strong central power would allow threats to be taken out quickly, and thus the lives of the people would improve.

And heck, it might be possible to at least play nice with devils if you are worshiping a more morally neutral deity, such as Abadar (a god that actively promotes paladins), who is on somewhat good terms with Asmodeus.


RAW yes.
RAI ... srsly?

Melkiador wrote:

I could think of some homebrew corner cases, like Lawful Evil deities that aren't otherwise bad guys, but really promote undead.

Necrolaborius the Death Worker:
A god who promotes the use of undead to better the everyday lives of the people. "Eternal rest is for the lazy. Get a job!"

Wow, that is epic.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

A paladin has to be lawful good to remain a paladin.

Worshiping an evil god is a voluntary evil act.

If a paladin were to try to worship an evil god in a manner that doesn't violate her lawful-goodness, then she's not worshiping the god correctly by the religion's practices. That's a chaotic act.

Ergo, no, a paladin can't worship an evil god.

And if you're looking to figure out how to play a paladin that can worship an evil god... I think you missed the point of the paladin class.

But that's my interpretation. Do what works best in your game.


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Haladir wrote:
Worshiping an evil god is a voluntary evil act.

Citation, please?

Evil is hurting, oppressing, or killing. Worship is not any of those things.

Sovereign Court

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Ashiel wrote:
Haladir wrote:
Worshiping an evil god is a voluntary evil act.

Citation, please?

Evil is hurting, oppressing, or killing. Worship is not any of those things.

There's Lawful Neutral Admodeans, Chaotic Neutral Rovagug followers, etc., so worship of evil isn't inheritly evil; just toeing that line.


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The whole point of a paladin is that he serves his god against evil. That's what paladins do. So no, he can't worship an evil god.


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Ashiel wrote:
There are quite a number of people that you will meet daily that insist on their faith in a benevolent god who has a track record that makes Adolf Hitler look like Mr. Rodgers.

Lets not compare real world religion to how things funciton in the game.

On Golarion you can actually meet your deity (without dying) and you have clear proof of your deity's existence. Meanwhile, as part of game rules (at least for clerics), acting so far out of accordance with your deity's view causes you to lose your powers. With real life religion no one has magical powers to lose or show off.

My point is while you don't need to be 100% in alignment with your deity's view, I do think that characters should be within one alignment step of a deity to benefit from "worshipping" that deity. Now, that isn't in the rules anywhere, but I feel strongly that it should be.

In any event, you are right about the restriction via the rules. Though it's very reasonable for a GM to rule otherwise.


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I can see it happening.

They have to worry about not committing evil acts, their code, and watch how much they associate with evil characters.

Quote:

Code of Conduct: A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

Ex-Paladins

A paladin who ceases to be lawful good, who willfully commits an evil act, or who violates the code of conduct loses all paladin spells and class features (including the service of the paladin's mount, but not weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She may not progress any further in levels as a paladin. She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations (see the atonement spell description in Spell Lists), as appropriate.

But I can see it not conflicting with his duties and restrictions.

"Its my civic duty as a Chelaxian to offer Asmodeus worship."

"Of course I offer X worship! I'm a pious man and offer worship to the gods."

"Remember, Asmodeus locked away Rovagug and keeps the key to his prison safe."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

There's a difference between paying lip service to a god and actually worshiping a god. Worship implies that you're following the god's teachings. And the teachings of an evil god are, um, evil.

That's not to say that a paladin couldn't admire some aspects of a lawful evil god, or the lawfulness of its church. In Golarion canon, there are paladins who are members of the Hellknights. (This is easier in some orders and less so in others.)

A Chelish paladin could certainly have the requisite small shrine to Asmodeus in her house, but it would be tucked away in a corner and pretty dusty.


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Seriously, why is this conversation even happening?

Grand Lodge

Haladir wrote:
There's a difference between paying lip service to a god and actually worshiping a god. Worship implies...
Tell me where it's defined...
wspatterson wrote:
Seriously, why is this conversation even happening?

Because this is a rules forum


How could you earnestly believe that a god of pure evil is worthy of your worship(Not admiration for lawfulness, or respect as a diety, but worship), and also be a lawful good paladin?


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claudekennilol wrote:
Is there anything preventing a paladin from worshiping an evil deity?

Since Paladin abilities are completely unrelated to gods, certainly. It might be hard to explain in some settings, but rules-wise, there's absolutely no reason why not.

Grand Lodge

DominusMegadeus wrote:

How could you earnestly believe that a god of pure evil is worthy of your worship(Not admiration for lawfulness, or respect as a diety, but worship), and also be a lawful good paladin?

Because I'm not a roleplayer. I play the game for the interactions and the rules. That being said, I'm not actually making a paladin that worships an evil god, but I don't see anything in the rules that prevent it (even if it's implied it's not stated). Thus it's open for debate. As you can see, there are others who happen to agree that the rules don't prevent it.


Haladir wrote:

There's a difference between paying lip service to a god and actually worshiping a god. Worship implies that you're following the god's teachings. And the teachings of an evil god are, um, evil.

My understanding of ancient polytheistic religions like in Greece and Egypt are that worship can be simply a pious act of religious devotion to the deity without implying any following of teachings. During X festival you do Y to ritually worship and venerate Z god.

Gods are generally interested in being ritually worshipped and offered sacrifices. Ares, for example, does not provide teachings or codes of conduct that general worshippers are expected to follow.

Spcecific cults offer deeper initiations into mysteries that may involve teachings but you don't need to be a member of the Eleusinian cult to worship Demeter.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Paladin to his deity of choice: My lord! I wish to worship you and serve you and uphold your ideals of good and order and making the world a better place!

Rovagug: Ummm...


Haladir wrote:


Worshiping an evil god is a voluntary evil act.

I'm not entirely sure this is true; in fact, this is a point under discussion. I'd be interested in seeing what rule text you can cite in support of this.

Quote:

If a paladin were to try to worship an evil god in a manner that doesn't violate her lawful-goodness, then she's not worshiping the god correctly by the religion's practices. That's a chaotic act.

And ditto.

Actually, I can see several rather contrived situations where a paladin might worship an evil god.

The simplest is using a neutral cleric as a bridge. Asmodeus, for example, is an evil god, but numbers lawful neutral clerics among his clergy. A child raised in an isolated Chelish colony with a LN priest might not be exposed to the evil teachings of Asmodeus and choose to become a paladin of the faith in which he was raised. Essentially, a LG paladin is within one step of his LN cleric/mentor who is within one step of a LE god. (If you want to make it even more compelling, give the cleric/mentor the Separatist archetype.)

Of course, this creates some interesting tensions when he leaves Tatooine and heads to Coruscant, only to learn what the "real" Asmodeus is like. But isn't this more or less precisely the lie that Obi-wan told Luke about one of his relatives?


DominusMegadeus wrote:

How could you earnestly believe that a god of pure evil is worthy of your worship?

Because you're dumb, or more politely, because you're underinformed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It greatly depends on your definition of worship. Certainly I could see in a pantheistic society a Paladin attending a service for an 'evil' god on that gods holy day etc. Honoring and respecting all gods can certainly be part of a Paladins view, especially if you have a pantheon where you have evil but 'necessary' gods.

In general though, in most Pathfinder campaigns when we are talking about worship we mean more than attending a service or making a traditional donation. We are talking about a personal affiliation, a devotion to follow that particular gods teachings, and a desire to emulate that gods aspects. So anyone who was a Paladin wouldn't worship an evil god, and if they did they wouldn't be a Paladin any longer. The only possible exception that I see is perhaps a very stupid paladin who didn't understand what the evil gods teachings were about, and did the right thing all the time despite religious instruction. That Paladin wouldn't be a very good worshiper of the evil god, but he might very well be sincere in his devotion.

Dark Archive

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claudekennilol wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:

How could you earnestly believe that a god of pure evil is worthy of your worship(Not admiration for lawfulness, or respect as a diety, but worship), and also be a lawful good paladin?

Because I'm not a roleplayer. I play the game for the interactions and the rules. That being said, I'm not actually making a paladin that worships an evil god, but I don't see anything in the rules that prevent it (even if it's implied it's not stated). Thus it's open for debate. As you can see, there are others who happen to agree that the rules don't prevent it.

I am honestly speechless and dumbfounded. Wow.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Of course, this creates some interesting tensions when he leaves Tatooine and heads to Coruscant, only to learn what the "real" Asmodeus is like.

Not really all that interesting if you ask me; when the Paladin knew what Asmodeus was like, he would either knowingly continue to worship his made-up 'Asmodeus the good god' (which is dumb in a world where gods are real) or he would find a new god, both of which involve not worshiping an evil god.

Regardless, if OP is playing a Paladin despite not caring at all about the roleplay aspect of it, then I guess it doesn't matter. They don't have the cleric's alignment restriction on god worshiped, go ahead. It's RAW, as dumb as it is.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

IIRC, in 3.5, this problem was solved by a system in which your Deity gives you the choice to be a paladin (whether by a vision, dream, or appearing to you personally), and then you can choose to take up the mantle and receive your god's power. Pathfinder doesn't have that, as long as you're good-hearted and righteous, you can take levels in Paladin.

That being said, the Faiths of Purity book goes over the various Paladin codes of the good deities, with the Faiths of Balance book, Abadar was slated as "the only Neutral deity that supports Paladins." That wording could lead one to believe that evil deities don't tolerate Paladins trying to serve them and immediately seek to either destroy or corrupt such individuals. Or simply don't grant them any divine power until they prove themselves worthy of it, aka, murderdeathkill etc. But that's what we call an AntiPaladin.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
claudekennilol wrote:
Haladir wrote:
There's a difference between paying lip service to a god and actually worshiping a god. Worship implies...

It's the "role-playing" part of "role-playing game."

It's somewhat nebulous, and subject to GM interpretation. Deliberately so.

And, as usual, this paladin/alignment thread has fallen to pedantry. (Why do I keep swallowing the bait...?)

Like I said earlier, discuss with your GM, and if you're the GM, run what works best for your campaign.

Later!


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Haladir wrote:
There's a difference between paying lip service to a god and actually worshiping a god. Worship implies

And we can stop right there, because 'implies' isn't 'states' (and I'd argue it doesn't imply, you're inferring).

Worship IS nothing but lip service. Without getting too RL religiony, I'm sure we all know someone who claims to be Religion X and doesn't seem to act like it.

What you say doesn't matter, it's what you do.


DominusMegadeus wrote:
(which is dumb in a world where gods are real)

Objection! Assumption. Not everybody who plays PF plays in worlds where gods are proven to exist.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The key question is whether by worship you mean "offer a prayer to" or "revere as a patron deity". In a polytheistic world, it could be appropriate to offer a prayer to nearly any deity that you think might look favorably on what you are praying about -- but the one-step rule given for clerics would be reasonable guidance for picking a patron deity. I recall PFS making a campaign ruling that defined worship for feat prerequisites and the like as revering as a patron deity and then saying that you can have only one patron deity and you must be within one alignment step of that deity. As far as I know, that rule has not actually been extended to generaly play -- but it seems like a reasonable guideline to use.


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Zhayne wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:
(which is dumb in a world where gods are real)
Objection! Assumption. Not everybody who plays PF plays in worlds where gods are proven to exist.

Overruled. If you're houseruling out spells like plane shift and contact other planes then you're not longer discussing questions suitable for the "Rules Question" subforum.

Continue, counselor.


David knott 242 wrote:

The key question is whether by worship you mean "offer a prayer to" or "revere as a patron deity". In a polytheistic world, it could be appropriate to offer a prayer to nearly any deity that you think might look favorably on what you are praying about -- but the one-step rule given for clerics would be reasonable guidance for picking a patron deity. I recall PFS making a campaign ruling that defined worship for feat prerequisites and the like as revering as a patron deity and then saying that you can have only one patron deity and you must be within one alignment step of that deity. As far as I know, that rule has not actually been extended to generaly play -- but it seems like a reasonable guideline to use.

In real world polytheistic religions it's normal to worship all the gods. Most of the time, however, it's difficult or impossible to connect those gods with anything like the PF alignment system, making the question of whether you're worshiping an "evil" deity among the others extremely subjective and hard to pin down.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
JoeJ wrote:
In real world polytheistic religions it's normal to worship all the gods. Most of the time, however, it's difficult or impossible to connect those gods with anything like the PF alignment system, making the question of whether you're worshiping an "evil" deity among the others extremely subjective and hard to pin down.

To select a deity as your patron, you should have an idea of the overall nature of that deity's teachings and thus the extent to which you agree with them. Even if a "good" character does not explicitly know that a particular deity is "evil", he would find enough things in the deity's teachings that he cannot concur with that he would be unable to take that deity as a patron without changing alignment.

Note that by this criterion, a deity of identical alignment to your own might also be unacceptable to a given character according to other aspects of his personality.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:
(which is dumb in a world where gods are real)
Objection! Assumption. Not everybody who plays PF plays in worlds where gods are proven to exist.

Overruled. If you're houseruling out spells like plane shift and contact other planes then you're not longer discussing questions suitable for the "Rules Question" subforum.

Continue, counselor.

Sustained. I said nothing of the sort.


David knott 242 wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
In real world polytheistic religions it's normal to worship all the gods. Most of the time, however, it's difficult or impossible to connect those gods with anything like the PF alignment system, making the question of whether you're worshiping an "evil" deity among the others extremely subjective and hard to pin down.

To select a deity as your patron, you should have an idea of the overall nature of that deity's teachings and thus the extent to which you agree with them. Even if a "good" character does not explicitly know that a particular deity is "evil", he would find enough things in the deity's teachings that he cannot concur with that he would be unable to take that deity as a patron without changing alignment.

Note that by this criterion, a deity of identical alignment to your own might also be unacceptable to a given character according to other aspects of his personality.

Looking still at the best known real world mythologies, deities don't really have any teachings to follow or not. There were sacred stories, which usually came with many variations and no "official" correct version. And there were a few very limited commands, mostly dealing with how and when sacrifices should be performed or with maintaining the traditions of the group. The idea that morality is or should be a major concern of deities mostly comes from the Middle Eastern monotheistic religions.

Silver Crusade

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Can a paladin worship an evil deity, yes, but since this breaks his code of conduit he will lose all class abilities except proficiencies.

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