Gods, Domains (not pertaining to class), and the effects of prayer...


Advice


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Apologies in advance for the length; I find myself asking some questions that border on philosophical and wanted to know if there are official (RaW) answers and people's opinions (House) on the same...

There is lots of information on Domains (and Sub-domains) but it's always written from the perspective of the potential receiver of power (Cleric, Paladin, etc) and not the deity themselves. I haven't yet found an answer to the question what are the god's spell lists limited to? None? Non-conflicting Alignment only? Domains only? And I expect it's by design, and I get that.

I know this is going heavily into the "talk to your GM" area, and that's why specifics are sparse, so I've knocked that one out for you... In this case I'm a new(ish) GM holding the Inner Sea Gods book (and other core books) and I'm trying to define the boundaries of gods in my Golarion, and I want it to be as Cannon as can be with such a tenebrous GM defined topic.

As a GM I'm asking the following specifically:

1) Can a god cast spells that do not fall under their listed domains?
1a) If yes, why are Gods given "domains" is it a faux pas to tread on another's domain?
1b) If no, why can the divine casters they fuel cast spells their patron can't?

2) How likely (Raw or House) is a character to get a response from a god without use of "Commune" or other spell casting. Honest Prayer alone... leaving the form of the answer (and other god specific differences) largely out of the question. How do you handle it?
2a) Example: Follower asking for something in-line with their god's domains
2b) Example: Follower asking for something that doesn't fall in their god's domains.
2c) Example: Non-follower asking for something in-line with the god's domains

50 dkp minus to anyone who paraphrases "Your the GM do whatever you want...", but in all sincerity Thank You to anyone who takes the time out to answer. I appreciate it.


1) Yes. They can alter reality with almost a whim, to a certain degree (see below). They are NOT omnipotent or omniscient.
1a) Deities in this setting govern a specific 'portfolio' that is the source of their divinity and within that portfolio, they have great influence. Outside of it? There are merely very, VERY, VERY!!!! powerful outsiders. They have access to a pool of 'soul' energy that forms the very plane they exist on, which is fueled from the material realm (and positive energy plane that creates the souls).
1b) Not applicable

2) No Raw exists for that question. In my house rules, deities are fairly responsive to their clerics prayers, but not to the point of where they give their devotees an advantage mechanically, due to the semi-unclear Pact Primeval that keeps the 'mutual self-destruction' between the deities at a stand still.
2a) Depends on what they are asking for.
2b) Depends on what they are asking for.
2c) You have to draw a line between a devotee (ie, someone that the god has given spell access) and a typical worshiper. Obviously, if someone is getting spell access from their deity, they will be more prone to answer them directly than anyone else who just gives them lip service.

Personally, I allow the clerics (and similar caster) to have a general direct 'link' to their deity in the form of a 'spider sense'. They will know, instinctively, if they are about to do something that goes against the wishes of their deity or might have serious repercussions. I also use it as a bit of a plot hook to prod the characters towards one of the deity's goals.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Gods don't really intervene directly, that's why they have clerics. The clerics, and the divine spells they cast ARE their intervention.

Going back to 3rd edition D&D, the last time I am aware of where deities had stats, each god was multiclass, a class in line with their characterization, and cleric. Generally it was 20/20 in levels. The domains just showcase what their special interests are, but remember, unlike contemporary mythology, Pathfinder gods can share a domain. None of them are supreme, but they all claim it.

Generally, if there isn't a spell cast, the chance of getting a meaningful answer from a deity is next to 0. Gods just don't get to reach out to the world , because they have enough enemies who would try and subvert it.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DeathlessOne wrote:
They have access to a pool of 'soul' energy that forms the very plane they exist on, which is fueled from the material realm (and positive energy plane that creates the souls).

I've seen that stated before but I'm not sure where that comes from. I have a copy of Planar Adventures ordered but not arrived yet, is it in there or can you cite a source so I can read more about it?

Val'bryn2 wrote:
Gods don't really intervene directly, that's why they have clerics. The clerics, and the divine spells they cast ARE their intervention.

It's a slippery slope for sure... free spells and answers is not somewhere I want to end up. I think this quote is basically exactly how I'm going to run it. I just want to dot my 'I's and cross my 'T's.

But I would add one more question (in the vein of 1a)... I know it's super vague but, if/when a God does use powers that are not commonly associated with them; Any repercussions? Any precedent for the way that might be handled? (largely outside of any players purview is probably the short/clean answer)


TarEcthelion wrote:


I've seen that stated before but I'm not sure where that comes from. I have a copy of Planar Adventures ordered but not arrived yet, is it in there or can you cite a source so I can read more about it?

You've got the source correct. The Planar Adventures goes pretty deep into the subject of souls (or more than any other source) and the source of power for much of the cosmology.

TarEcthelion wrote:
But I would add one more question (in the vein of 1a)... I know it's super vague but, if/when a God does use powers that are not commonly associated with them; Any repercussions? Any precedent for the way that might be handled? (largely outside of any players purview is probably the short/clean answer)

Well, when someone or something does something that falls within the purview of a deity's portfolio, that deity tends to be alerted. As I said before, deities are not omnipotent or omniscient, but when it comes to their portfolio, they can come really close. Because of the sensitive matter, this falls entirely within the realm of the GM making the call. Personally, I don't have a habit of granting boons to players from their deities without requiring a payment of some sort, so as to make the transaction as near to a sum zero game as possible.


Just remember: deities can choose to intervene in subtle ways whenever ANYONE invokes them, be it in prayer or desperation.

In the Golarion-specific deities, Shelyn is said to visit warriors in moments of utter despair on the battlefield. When all else seems hopeless there is a chance that the Beautiful Glaive will make herself known and turn the tide for those of good heart. That's how some of her clerics get started.

Also in older editions of D&D it was said that each deity had intermediaries and THESE were the ones who granted spells until clerics reached their highest levels. So perhaps at level one to gain the Cure Light Wounds spell you offered up prayers to Ra the Sun God but also to Corfru, Son of Ra, the mendicant emperor who was renowned for his great healing techniques.

In that regard, when you used a lesser divination spell you spoke with one of these intermediaries which was why there is a chance for failure. Within to Inner Sea deities, consider Pharasma.

She has in her portfolio a History/Lore component and at one time she was the deity of prophecy. If you used a divination invoking this goddess, certainly your info would be accurate right? But RAW states that you might get false info or something. So when casting a lesser divination you are in fact speaking to one of her owl-masked handmaidens who, while extremely knowledgeable are not infallible.

Finally, on the subject of Domains: consider Cure Light Wounds. This is a basic spell that EVERY vanilla cleric can swap another spell for. So if this is the case, by definition every deity can grant this to their Good aligned, vanilla clerics.

What if the deity doesn't have any Healing domain in their portfolio? If a cleric of Cayden Caileen spontaneously swaps out their Divine Favor for CLW and uses it on a party member, do Pharasma and Saranrae get peeved off?

I'd say that there is mutual agreement between deities that certain powers transcend domains, or perhaps there has been a negotiation for some powers within the domains that can be divided out to any and all divine beings. Domains are more of a mortal construct, a way to divide and classify folks, like sects within a specific faith, and I'm guessing they hold little relevance or restriction for the gods and goddesses.


Also note that domains and the like aren't strictly limited to deities.

Certain creatures, when worshiped, can grant mortals access to domain spells and abilities. What's interesting is that these creatures aren't themselves limited to these domains, or even necessarily have access to even the most basic powers from them.

For relevant examples, look at the entries for the Demon Lords. These pseudo-deities can be worshiped. They grant domain powers to their worshipers. Yet they aren't limited to these domains themselves.

By examining these pseudo-deities, we can see that they have access to many spells that aren't a part of their own portfolio. Baphomet can cast charm spells. Nocticula can cast teleportation spells.

We can infer from these that true deities likely aren't limited by their domains, though it's likely that they would show a preference for the type of actions that relate to their domains.

As for whether the god shows interest in the prayers of their worshipers, it likely depends on the deity. Some are far more attentive than others. Pazuzu would absolutely love it if you called him up, for example. Pharasma, on the other hand, probably isn't going to return your call, at least until you show up in person. Aroden? AFK BRB (JK LMAO).

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Minor examples of divine intervention can happen in game, but the way to make it interesting is that it leads to another deity getting to influence something. Say in a big fight where you are doing something that a deity wants to see done, say a battle where the PCs are defending an art gallery or famed painter from attack. Shelyn is going to smile on that. The fighter gets poisoned, things look grim, then she casts Restoration to heal him. A few weeks later, when undertaking another mission for Shelyn's church, they are battling their way through a gang of ghouls, when they are hit by an Unholy Blight by Zon-Kuthon, who wants to break his sister's toys.


Dotting for interest


The following are mostly my thoughts, but...

1) Yes. Gods, when acting through specific spells, are not limited by their domains. That said, since they have essentially unlimited Miracles, spell lists don't matter very much to begin with. Personally, though, I feel that any intervention they choose will generally match their personality and interests somehow. So Infernus, the Fiery God of Fire, probably uses fire to solve problems. And Healeriffic, the Healing Goddess of Heals, probably prefers to restore people's HP. ...And Yidhra, Goddess of Paradoxes, will just do whatever's funny at the time.

1a) If it's anything like what mythic players can do, gods choose domains. It's not wrong to step outside of their specific domains as a situation requires, but those domains do represent the broad strokes of what a deity focuses on and cares about. Many probably prefer to stick with their interests, but there are always exceptions. (For example, Nethys just flat-out likes magic and would probably approve of any magic used as a solution.)

That said... I do think gods will never make choices that are opposed to their alignments. Good deities won't use evil powers - they'll find another way.

1b) N/A

2) Depends entirely on the deity. Canonically, Moloch (Archfiend of Malebolge, sixth level of Hell) is very likely to respond to any requests for aid as long as proper sacrifices are made. There's a price for his power, to be sure, but he is completely willing to sell to buyers and any followers in good standing can reasonably expect a response when they call upon him. Similarly, the eldritch entity Hastur is often described as personally visiting cults to provide various creepy gifts and guidance. Other powers are more likely to stay out of things except in extreme cases.

As such, there's no universal answer here. In my games, the gods are active in different ways, depending on their personalities. One of mine frequently manifests as an avatar to go do things and further their plots, while others are broadly content to let mortals do their own thing and just provide spells and general oversight for the church.

Aside from that, I have a tiered system.

The "faithful" are members of a church who don't receive power from their deity - the rank and file. Their prayers are heard, but they rarely receive more than small nudges at important parts of their lives.

The "devoted" are characters that directly receive power from the deity (all Clerics and Inquisitors, some Oracles, occasionally others). If they ask for a sign, they'll usually get one - it's rarely as clear as telling them exactly what to do, but they can, for example, describe a course of action and ask whether or not their deity approves of it. Because they can lose power for going against their deity's will, I let them have this option to give them a bit more control.

The "chosen" are personally selected by the deity - although why they're chosen isn't always clear. The gods know a great many things and in my games tend to see the big picture, so doing something in one place could just be about causing an effect elsewhere when no mortal would ever make the connection. Chosen may have visions of (or from) the deity and get to talk with them directly, as well as access to blessings or even miracles at critical junctures.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Gods, Domains (not pertaining to class), and the effects of prayer... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.