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I have a level 5 paladin. My paladin has a couple of powers that subject enemies to my Divine Sanction. I also have divine Challenge. As far as I can tell these are almost the same thing.

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Despite their functional and naming similarities, Divine Challenge and Divine Sanction are quite different.

Divine Challenge is a Paladin class power, minor action, close burst 5, that allows the Paladin to mark an enemy. The mark lasts until this power is used again. The Paladin must engage this target by attacking the target or ending his or her turn adjacent to it or the mark ends. If the target makes an attack that does not include the Paladin, it takes 3/6/9+CHA mod radiant damage.

Divine Sanction is an effect of certain attack powers (such as Ardent Strike) which counts as a mark and, if the target makes an attack that does not include the creature that placed the Divine Sanction, it takes 3/6/9+CHA mod radiant damage. Divine Sanction ends when the power that applies it specifies that it ends.

There are a number of important differences:

  • Divine Challenge is a power that applies a mark; Divine Sanction is a mark that is applied by a power.
  • You get Divine Challenge by being a Paladin. You can only obtain Divine Challenge by being a Paladin or taking the Soldier of the Faith multiclass feat.
  • Divine Challenge (Hybrid) is a slightly different version of Divine Challenge that deals less damage (0/2/4+CHA) and is only available to Hybrid Paladins.
  • Note that although Divine Challenge's damage is reduced for Hybrid Paladins, Divine Sanction still deals its full damage.
  • Anyone can place Divine Sanction so long as they have a power that places Divine Sanction, even if they are not Paladins. For example, a Half-Elf with Ardent Strike as their Dilettante power can place a Divine Sanction without having the Divine Challenge Power or counting as a Paladin.
  • Divine Challenge must be maintained by engaging the target, but Divine Sanction does not have an engagement requirement.
  • The Mark applied by Divine Challenge does not need to be re-applied so long as the Paladin engages the target, though the mark ends if the power is used again (ie: on another target).
  • Divine Sanction lasts only the duration specified in the power, usually just until the end of the Paladin's next turn (eg: Ardent Strike) though can last longer. Unyielding Faith places a Divine Sanction that lasts until the end of the encounter, for example. Applying Divine Sanction to more than one target does not end existing Sanctions.
  • Divine Challenge can normally only target one creature, but Bradaman's Weapon and None Shall Pass (level 12 utility) allows the Divine Challenge to target two creatures in the burst. Celestia's Challenge (level 11 encounter) marks targets as if by Divine Challenge, rather than applying Divine Sanction.
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one thing i'm still somewhat unclear about. do they override eachother at all, or can they coexist on a creature? –  DForck42 Feb 28 '13 at 5:35
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Unless otherwise specified, a new mark always overwrites (removes) an existing one. In this case, the two Divine marks cannot coexist and applying one removes the other. –  Soulrift Feb 28 '13 at 5:38
    
@Soulrift your above comment is incorrect. rules of combat for divine sanction. the last paragraph states that the two can coexist on different targets simultaneously. –  b33f3r Feb 28 '13 at 17:18
    
The question was whether or not they can coexist ON A CREATURE. I suppose I should have been more explicit in my answer that they cannot coexist ON A CREATURE. –  Soulrift Feb 28 '13 at 19:49
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No, there's a subtle, but distinct, difference between the two. Divine challenge is essentially the paladin's mark. He can do it any time as a minor action. Divine Sanction is essentially a second marking ability the paladin has that is usually granted through the use of a power. A paladin can actually mark multiple creatures using these two in tandem.

You can have one Divine Challenge up at a time, but Divine Sanction can mark as many creatures as your powers allow.

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DS was introduced in the Divine Power book rather than the PHB1 in which the paladin is detailed. This may help explain why it's easy to miss the distinction. –  BESW Feb 28 '13 at 4:46
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