Question about God Healing


Advice


I am a new GM and this is literally my first Campaign to run so please be understanding. I have been doing good balancing the play for my players up till now but an incident today gave me some questions.

My players were doing a side quest where they have to find and kill some wolves who have been terrorizing a town, I wanted to give them a challenge (they've been getting through the combat with very little struggle till now) so I went with monsters that were 1CR higher than usual. I made sure that they only had a bit more health and slightly higher stats than what my players normally handle.

However, my players rolled ABOMINABLY BAD for this fight and it came down to two almost dying (I found a way to put them in stasis so they wouldn't bleed out after losing all their HP) and one having barely any HP left. It was to the point that I wanted to call in the deity for the surviving player and have her step in and do a heal on him (He's a paladin of Sarenrae). I ended up not having to because he killed the beast with one more attack and had a few HP to spare and healed the others back up.

Now I KNOW that it shouldn't have gotten this bad to begin with and I understand that this was mostly my fault for picking a difficult beast for them and I will of course learn from this in the future. However, if something like this should happen again I would like to know what the rules or options are for a God to step in and what they can/can't do.

Is there info anywhere on attacks Gods can do to protect their paladins or a chart on how much healing they can do/how they do it? Would I need to roll for the deity or just describe a warm glowing light beaming down from the sky and then insta heals? Can a deity even heal their followers? Can they also just attach the thing attacking their paladin? Would it depend on the creatures alignment? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Grand Lodge

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Essentially gods don't generally do this sort of thing. Their help is usually limited to benefits granted by class features given to their worshipers such as spellcasting.


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Jurassic Pratt is correct on what gods generally do and don't do. As for what they could do if you need them to---almost anything, without needing to roll. IMHO they'd be more inclined to help a worshiper than to directly smite a worshiper's enemy, particularly if the enemy is sentient and therefore probably worships some other god. Even non-sentient enemies like wolves might have a god watching over them (like Gozreh). The gods very, very much don't want to get dragged into direct conflict with each other; that's why mortal proxies like the PCs are so important.

Hope that helps.


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I would like to give a small warning about this, not that I'm saying you shouldn't do it, just to consider some of the consequences before you pull the trigger.

What you are describing is, as far as I can tell, GM created divine intervention. Correct me if I've misunderstood. This is an extremely classic version of Deus ex Machina.

You need to be careful about Deus ex Machina for a couple of reasons.

First, This is you reaching out of the game and fixing things for the characters, not the players making choices that have impact on their characters. Your players might feel grateful that you got them out of a sticky situation, or they might feel cheated, that their decisions don't matter because if things don't go according to plan a hand will come out of the sky and put things back in place.

Secondly, if you directly intervene once, then your player's may expect you to directly intervene again. If the player's think that they have an ace in the hole that will save them from any real consequence of their actions that might make them feel like they are more free to have fun doing whatever they want. On the other hand, they might feel that with no consequences their actions have no weight or meaning, so what's the point of making them.

Even worse, if you save them once and then don't save them again they might feel that you cheated them out of something.

In conclusion, be careful with this. I would talk to your player's about this idea and see what they think about it.

Something as simple as the hero point system from the Advanced Player's Guide would allow the player's a similar amount of wiggle room but put the ball back into their court as far as choice and self-determination goes(and theirs nothing to say hero points aren't a divine blessing in your campaign).

edit: I guess this was a not so small warning. Oops.


There are not rules for this because it is something that should never be done. AS a GM you can do anything you want, but there are somethings you should not do and this is one of them. Danger is part of the game and in sometimes that means that the characters die or even experience a TPK (Total Party Kill). By stepping in like this you cheapen the game and make the players less important.

Pathfinder specifically has not rules for what gods can do because they are beyond what the rules can define.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

Jurassic Pratt is correct on what gods generally do and don't do. As for what they could do if you need them to---almost anything, without needing to roll. IMHO they'd be more inclined to help a worshiper than to directly smite a worshiper's enemy, particularly if the enemy is sentient and therefore probably worships some other god. Even non-sentient enemies like wolves might have a god watching over them (like Gozreh). The gods very, very much don't want to get dragged into direct conflict with each other; that's why mortal proxies like the PCs are so important.

Hope that helps.

This was very helpful, thank you.


Lost In Limbo wrote:

I would like to give a small warning about this, not that I'm saying you shouldn't do it, just to consider some of the consequences before you pull the trigger.

What you are describing is, as far as I can tell, GM created divine intervention. Correct me if I've misunderstood. This is an extremely classic version of Deus ex Machina.

You need to be careful about Deus ex Machina for a couple of reasons.

First, This is you reaching out of the game and fixing things for the characters, not the players making choices that have impact on their characters. Your players might feel grateful that you got them out of a sticky situation, or they might feel cheated, that their decisions don't matter because if things don't go according to plan a hand will come out of the sky and put things back in place.

Secondly, if you directly intervene once, then your player's may expect you to directly intervene again. If the player's think that they have an ace in the hole that will save them from any real consequence of their actions that might make them feel like they are more free to have fun doing whatever they want. On the other hand, they might feel that with no consequences their actions have no weight or meaning, so what's the point of making them.

Even worse, if you save them once and then don't save them again they might feel that you cheated them out of something.

In conclusion, be careful with this. I would talk to your player's about this idea and see what they think about it.

Something as simple as the hero point system from the Advanced Player's Guide would allow the player's a similar amount of wiggle room but put the ball back into their court as far as choice and self-determination goes(and theirs nothing to say hero points aren't a divine blessing in your campaign).

edit: I guess this was a not so small warning. Oops.

These were all very good points and also gave information on a couple things I was worried about. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I appreciate the different perspectives.


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Mysterious Stranger wrote:

There are not rules for this because it is something that should never be done. AS a GM you can do anything you want, but there are somethings you should not do and this is one of them. Danger is part of the game and in sometimes that means that the characters die or even experience a TPK (Total Party Kill). By stepping in like this you cheapen the game and make the players less important.

Pathfinder specifically has not rules for what gods can do because they are beyond what the rules can define.

You may not mean this but your response comes across as condescending and pretentious. The OP didn't ask should but how, and to answer that question there is no set rules but it is implied. I.E. Gamemastery Guide pg 49-50 TPK, one of the options is meet your new boss " a mysterious presence intervenes and resurrects the party" or otherwise gets involved this sounds very much like a deity or something very close and in order to engage players and fit a overall story ark it would make more sense for a deity to intervene for a follower and allow that follower to assist the rest of the party as a champion. The other option that would fit this from the same section as I don't really want to go through other books listing the ways gods intervene for mortals cough (miracle) is the option to rewind which to me with out a story driven excuse I.E. Divine intervention, is game breaking since you literally as dm step in and completely redo an encounter. Also there are other books for 3E which are OGL that you could use as a guide for example https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Faiths_and_Pantheons if I remember correctly this book lists godly powers as if they were feats, and godly levels, and explains how the gods interact and while this is for dnd 3e it still works well as a guide.

In summary for the OP this is entirely up to you how you do this, as a new GM you'll figure out what works best for you and your group and what is the most for everyone involved. And as you GM more you will get more comfortable building encounters. Me personally I generally treat gods as only interfering on behalf of their followers not others. i.e. heal them or rez them only, not other creatures. Good luck with your game and I hope your enjoying your first foray into GMing.


I would not get a deity involved. Combat should be dangerous. If a deity saves the adventuring party and will do so again, then you've eliminated the danger. Part of the fun of the game is the danger. Some players would not be happy if you did this.

A deity is an enormously powerful being. They can do just about anything. Except maybe a lot of things at once. Ask yourself if a deity showing up really the best use of their resources? If something is worth doing, maybe sending an Angel or Demon would suffice. If that is still too much, try a message or vision.

I would handle deities as though they were stuck in a cold war. They may be against each other, but they aren't hurling their strongest weapons and magic against each other. Trying to destroy each other might cause too much collateral damage. In fact, the default pathfinder setting has an example where the space in between 2 countries, Nex and Geb, is now a wasteland where plants don't grow and magic is unstable at best.


If you bring in a god to fix the PCs problem, then nothing they do matters, because "the god will fix everything anyways".

It also brings huge lore consistency issues. If the gods help them then, why not others, why not other times? Why don't the other opposing gods intervene?

The simplest answer to "why isn't the material plane a nuclear wasteland of divine interventions?" is simply to say that gods do not have that sort of power over the material plane. They have great power over their outer plane domains, and they've got great power in the sense of granting ridiculously powerful magic to an insane number of followers, but they cannot by themselves smite whoever they want whenever they want wherever they want.

As such, godly interventions on the material planes should be restricted to:

1) Agents acting on their behalf, such as clerics and outsiders
2) Artifacts that are by definition both rare and powerful, that serve as limited conduits are are essentially itemized clerics
3) Holy places which hold special connections to the god are are essentially geographic artifacts

If you must really use outside intervention, i.e. an deus ex machina, try not to be literal on the deus part. Maybe hunters heard the fight, and came in to assist? A few lvl 1 warriors, commoners, and adepts. It's still a deus ex machina, but without as much implications as involving a literal god.

Ideally, though, you use soft nerfs in cases like that. The enemies can act in less optimal ways. Maybe they try to maneuver around for a needless flank. Maybe they try intimidate checks for needless debuffs. Maybe they start fighting each other over who gets the kill. Maybe it turns out that some of these baddies were kind of runts for their kind, and their con scores are lower than they should be. It's important that the players don't feel like you are "cheating" to help them, though. It has to be believable.

A total party wipe sucks, but it sucks even more to know that none of the battles have any stakes, because the GM will just summon a god to help out if the party fails.


Just going to mention that death is built into the rules. Once the players get past 7th level they'll have lots of options to bring people back from the dead. It might be expensive, but that is the literal price of failure.

I'd strongly recommend playing with Hero Points. If you are using Hero Points 2 points can prevent a player dying right now. it doesn't guarantee they won't die a round later, but the players will forgive you for going lenient on anyone that does spend 2 hero points to live. BTW, live in this case means 'unconscious but stable'.

And you can use plot devices to bring people back after a fight. The ultimate plot device is 'it was all a dream!' where the PCs get a prophetic vision of what could of happened. Cheesy as all hell but not totally inappropriate when you make an encounter much harder than you think you did.

More normal is waking up in an unfamiliar bed in a strange smelling hut. Some of you were rescued by an old hermit that lives in this area. Don't mess with him, the force is strong with this one. Take some of the parties gear because it got left behind. This old hermit can't carry everything.

Even worse but still classic is waking up in a monsters lair, low on HP, missing equipment, with the monsters eating...something. Or someone else? The party might be caged or tied up. They need to sneak away rather than fight their way out. Giving people 1d4 hp and no weapon is a great motivator to avoid combat.

Intelligent monsters might even be trying to ransom the players to the nearest town. How do those people feel about them?

And there is the old "you wake up in the temple, with a circle of old men leering at you." Yes, some old priest guy gave you a True Resurrection. And you can bet he wants you to do a lot to pay for it.


Shaolghoul wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:

There are not rules for this because it is something that should never be done. AS a GM you can do anything you want, but there are somethings you should not do and this is one of them. Danger is part of the game and in sometimes that means that the characters die or even experience a TPK (Total Party Kill). By stepping in like this you cheapen the game and make the players less important.

Pathfinder specifically has not rules for what gods can do because they are beyond what the rules can define.

You may not mean this but your response comes across as condescending and pretentious. The OP didn't ask should but how, and to answer that question there is no set rules but it is implied. I.E. Gamemastery Guide pg 49-50 TPK, one of the options is meet your new boss " a mysterious presence intervenes and resurrects the party" or otherwise gets involved this sounds very much like a deity or something very close and in order to engage players and fit a overall story ark it would make more sense for a deity to intervene for a follower and allow that follower to assist the rest of the party as a champion. The other option that would fit this from the same section as I don't really want to go through other books listing the ways gods intervene for mortals cough (miracle) is the option to rewind which to me with out a story driven excuse I.E. Divine intervention, is game breaking since you literally as dm step in and completely redo an encounter. Also there are other books for 3E which are OGL that you could use as a guide for example https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Faiths_and_Pantheons if I remember correctly this book lists godly powers as if they were feats, and godly levels, and explains how the gods interact and while this is for dnd 3e it still works well as a guide.

In summary for the OP this is entirely up to you how you do this, as a new GM you'll figure out what works best for you and your group and what is the most for everyone involved. And as...

Thank you Shaolghoul for answering my actual question (many recent reply's did not) and even referencing resources I can read and use if I decide to use this. This was a very helpful/informative read.

And thank you especially for focusing on what COULD be done (which is what I asked) instead of what YOU personally would do.


Meirril wrote:

Just going to mention that death is built into the rules. Once the players get past 7th level they'll have lots of options to bring people back from the dead. It might be expensive, but that is the literal price of failure.

I'd strongly recommend playing with Hero Points. If you are using Hero Points 2 points can prevent a player dying right now. it doesn't guarantee they won't die a round later, but the players will forgive you for going lenient on anyone that does spend 2 hero points to live. BTW, live in this case means 'unconscious but stable'.

And you can use plot devices to bring people back after a fight. The ultimate plot device is 'it was all a dream!' where the PCs get a prophetic vision of what could of happened. Cheesy as all hell but not totally inappropriate when you make an encounter much harder than you think you did.

More normal is waking up in an unfamiliar bed in a strange smelling hut. Some of you were rescued by an old hermit that lives in this area. Don't mess with him, the force is strong with this one. Take some of the parties gear because it got left behind. This old hermit can't carry everything.

Even worse but still classic is waking up in a monsters lair, low on HP, missing equipment, with the monsters eating...something. Or someone else? The party might be caged or tied up. They need to sneak away rather than fight their way out. Giving people 1d4 hp and no weapon is a great motivator to avoid combat.

Intelligent monsters might even be trying to ransom the players to the nearest town. How do those people feel about them?

And there is the old "you wake up in the temple, with a circle of old men leering at you." Yes, some old priest guy gave you a True Resurrection. And you can bet he wants you to do a lot to pay for it.

These are some good ideas. I will definitely be keeping them in mind should this happen again.


I got the info I was looking for so no more reply's are needed. Thanks.

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I've removed a couple posts and replies and closed this thread as it seems that the OP received enough advice and direction to move forward and some of the answers were heading in a direction of a significant derail.

Thank you to everyone who jumped into provide information! The enthusiasm for being willing to help each other with gaming questions is one of the things that makes the paizo.com community such a special place. Please remember, when you come into a thread to provide some advice or information for someone, particularly when they state they are a new GM, it generally goes best if you can stick with, providing citations or resources, using examples "what worked (or did not work) for me/my players", and double check that the answer you want to give aligns with the question that is being asked. There are so many different ways people approach gaming that advice threads are going to go a bit smoother if answers focus on the question as asked rather than offering critique for other responses or the question itself. If an advice post or thread is inspiring you to write a bit more long form about different approaches to a question, it's probably time to start a new thread in a more appropriate forum.

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