Bypassing one-step Cleric alignment rule?


Rules Questions


Is there anything in Pathfinder that allows a Cleric to bypass the one-step alignment rule for divine spellcasting?

For example, playing a CN cleric of a LN deity and still receiving spells?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Rules wise? Not that I'm aware of. Fluff/intent wise? No, because having an alignment that far from the deities means your own worldview/nature is basically opposed to theirs. How can you commune with such a force and resonate with it on such an intimate spiritual level that you can receive divine power when you are, in one of the ways that matters very much, exactly what it is not?

A deity of law likely has the law domain, and even if it doesn't, it is lawful because of its own nature, the domains it does oversee, and its choice of planar residence. It favors order, discipline, adhering to rules, making plans as opposed to spur of the moment reactions, rewarding those who act for the benefit of the group rather than the individual, and so on. A chaotic character should bristle at such, because they favor freedom, flexibility, doing what is needed, making quick choices when the unexpected happens, and that everyone is important be they peasant or king. Both worldviews are valid, but not really compatible. As acquaintances, sure, as casual freinds, yeah, as even solid friends who like each other DESPITE their massive ethical diferences, could happen. But for the intense spiritual resonance required of a cleric? An intimacy of soul likely deeper than that between spouses? No.

Two quick points to remember.

1. Most people in a Pathfinder world are religious and do worship a diety, or multiple ones. And they aren't CLERICS. Their faith is strong, but not THAT strong. A cleric has dedicated himself to his god as much as the fighter to his sword or the wizard to his research, if not more.

2. Devils and demons are both evil, but they will also tear each others faces off on sight and almost never work together because of their alignment differences. Even on the celestial side, the gulf between LG and CG is extremely wide, full of polite nods, slightly condescending laughs, and a lot of "Thanks for the advice or offer, but no thanks, we need to do this the right way," from both sides.

tldr: I can't think of a way to get around the cleric alignment restriction and I honestly and personally don't think there should be.


The only thing that I am aware of is the Pact Servant trait. It allows you to treat Asmodeus as if his alignment is Lawful Neutral for the purposes of your own alignment, and as such, you can be a Lawful Good cleric of Asmodeus.

The trait does nothing to change the rules about spells with alignment descriptors, so you are still unable to cast spells with the [Chaos] and [Good] descriptors, and since you have a good alignment, you can't cast spells with the [Evil] descriptor. Normally not a big deal, but it locks you out of a lot of niches when it comes to summoning.


Feels like if you want divine spells without being philosophically compatible with whichever deity, you're probably better off as an oracle or a shaman than as a cleric.


Barachiel Shina wrote:

Is there anything in Pathfinder that allows a Cleric to bypass the one-step alignment rule for divine spellcasting?

For example, playing a CN cleric of a LN deity and still receiving spells?

Just to cast opposite spells - Worthless Pawn trait from Inner Gods allows you to prepare and cast spells of opposed alignment in exchange for wisdom damage, because your deity, frankly, doesn't care what you do with your divine power.

Only works for Great Old One clerics though, and those are all CE-NE-CN deities.

On the upside - Great Old One clerics can be Cultist archetype, what uses Cha for casting and will saves, so that wisdom damage doesn't even really matter.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Uh, you could always be a sorcerer, with the Razmiran Priest archetype? Or a bard who claims to be an inquisitor of Razmir, but that probably isn't what you want.

There's always the Chained Summoner, whose eidolon doesn't have to be of the same alignment. Be a Sarkorian God-Caller, who tries very hard to follow the ways of their eidolon, who's somehow losing their infinite well of patience.

Or, yeah, you could always be an oracle, or shaman, or witch, who's heard of a misunderstood version of this one faith or just really wants to be a part of it someday.


Keep in mind that a cleric not only has to be within one step of his deities alignment, he also has to follow the code of conduct of his deity. Those that fail to do so become ex-clerics.

Ex-Clerics
A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by her god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until she atones for her deeds (see the atonement spell description).

I cannot see how a chaotic neutral cleric is going to be able to follow the code of a lawful neutral deity. The deity is going to be focused on obedience to the rules and tradition. The cleric on the other hand is going to be focused on his freedom and doing his own thing no matter what his superiors tell him.


If you're adhering to your deity's code of ethics even being 1 step away can be a struggle to maintain. I've had a character's alignment slide to be exactly the same as his deity after many levels. The DM pointed out that there was no way I was still neutral based on the actions of my character. I didn't disagree and adjusted my alignment accordingly. There was never any question that what my character was doing were things his god would approve of.


LordKailas wrote:

If you're adhering to your deity's code of ethics even being 1 step away can be a struggle to maintain. I've had a character's alignment slide to be exactly the same as his deity after many levels. The DM pointed out that there was no way I was still neutral based on the actions of my character. I didn't disagree and adjusted my alignment accordingly. There was never any question that what my character was doing were things his god would approve of.

where are the deity specific codes of ethics? (Non-Paladin)


Lelomenia wrote:
where are the deity specific codes of ethics? (Non-Paladin)

Basically, you'll need to research the god you plan on having a cleric of. The Pathfinder Wiki and Archives of Nethys are good places to start.

I'm not aware of any specific lists of ethics for non-paladins. But, if your god is all about redemption, you should probably try to redeem people when you can. If they are a god of contracts then you should avoid making promises with the intention of breaking them.

The point is, if you're playing a cleric, once you decide on a deity, as a player you should have a reasonable understanding of what that god is all about, beyond just "they give me the fire and healing domains".


Well, the thing is that there aren't hard and fast deity rules for clerics, but that clause gives the GM license to slap a player on the wrist for clearly going against whatever that deity is interested in.

Like a priest of Pharasma who raises an army of the undead is going to get in trouble, a cleric of Desna who traps someone in a realm of eternal nightmare, a cleric of Erastil who preaches anarchy and against the social order, etc.

All of this is within the purview of the GM in terms of "did you annoy your god enough to lose your powers." Generally it doesn't come up since people pick deities which are in line with their character's priorities, but it seems the OP is trying to not do that.


Even the separatist cleric archetype (which allows one domain not normally on the god's list) has to obey the one-step alignment rule. And most of the rest of the god's faithful will still view those weirdos as heretics.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

By RAW there's no way around it. If you're CN then you can't be a cleric of a LN deity. If it's a homebrew game, you can work something out with your GM. There is definitely room to imagine something that would fill this niche.

For instance, years ago I ran a homebrew pantheon where one of the main deities was CE, but he accepted clerics of any alignment. He was the god of might and conquest, and his religious tenets explicitly laid out that you didn't need to justify yourself to anyone. Your goals and objectives were your own business, and what mattered was that you had the power to achieve them. In that sense, he didn't really care about alignment and was more than happy to accept good-aligned clerics. In turn, good-aligned characters saw his faith as pragmatism; if you value something, you need to have the strength to defend it.


Supposedly Pathfinder 2nd Edition is going to have some deities have different rules of acceptance from the one-step rule -- at least, that's what they said leading up to the Playtest. Not sure how it is going to work with the production release, but it would make sense for somebody like Nethys or Pharasma (or maybe even Gozreh) to accept even corner-alignment Clerics as long as they are in accordance with the non-alignment stuff required by these deities, and Sarenrae seems to have tolerated plenty of non-Good people, considering how many of her worshippers practice slavery.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Supposedly Pathfinder 2nd Edition is going to have some deities have different rules of acceptance from the one-step rule -- at least, that's what they said leading up to the Playtest. Not sure how it is going to work with the production release

In the actual playtest all deities were either in accordance with the traditional "within 1 step" rule, or they were more restrictive. There were no deities that were less restrictive. This did get some discussion on the boards, and I wouldn't be surprised if the designers went back to gods like Nethys and loosened up those alignment restrictions.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Supposedly Pathfinder 2nd Edition is going to have some deities have different rules of acceptance from the one-step rule -- at least, that's what they said leading up to the Playtest. Not sure how it is going to work with the production release, but it would make sense for somebody like Nethys or Pharasma (or maybe even Gozreh) to accept even corner-alignment Clerics as long as they are in accordance with the non-alignment stuff required by these deities, and Sarenrae seems to have tolerated plenty of non-Good people, considering how many of her worshippers practice slavery.

IIRC it was mainly things like "there aren't CG followers of the god of war anymore his followers were CN, N, and CE"


I'm confused..... presumably the OP wants to bypass the rule for RP reasons??


Lelomenia wrote:
LordKailas wrote:

If you're adhering to your deity's code of ethics even being 1 step away can be a struggle to maintain. I've had a character's alignment slide to be exactly the same as his deity after many levels. The DM pointed out that there was no way I was still neutral based on the actions of my character. I didn't disagree and adjusted my alignment accordingly. There was never any question that what my character was doing were things his god would approve of.

where are the deity specific codes of ethics? (Non-Paladin)

Each deity has their own code so they are not written up in the class description. Basically look at the description of the deity to get an idea. Some deities will have strict codes other very lose codes. As a rule lawful deities will be a lot more strict and formal than chaotic ones.

The actual codes are pretty much up to the GM.


doc roc wrote:
I'm confused..... presumably the OP wants to bypass the rule for RP reasons??

Bypassing purely rp restrictions which flesh out a world for rp reasons

Galaxy brain.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Rules Questions / Bypassing one-step Cleric alignment rule? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.