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I am specifically running a D&D 4e game and am tossing around story ideas to incorporate an old character of mine as a guest star. A brief history of the character is that he is a dwarf who started worshiping Pelor and was exiled from dwarven culture for not worshiping Moradin. He was a strong adventurer who always tried to protect his group.

My idea is that between the time (in game) I stopped playing him and when he shows up as a sullen, drunkard, prize-fighter in my new game; I want his powers to have been revoked by Pelor. Would being frozen in fear in the face of a terrible evil he had never seen before be enough for Pelor to take away his powers, or does it need to be something worse? Keep in mind his moment of fear and inaction was what led directly to the party being killed.

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I don't know about 4E, but I know that in previous editions, Paladins were literally immune to fear due to their Paladin powers. In order to be frozen in fear, his God would have had to have abandoned him first, not the other way around. Being afraid can't cause someone to fall because it's physically impossible. – Southpaw Hare Jan 14 '14 at 6:42
@SouthpawHare How previous editions worked is almost entirely irrelevant to 4e, so trying to apply previous edition knowledge to 4e is going to take you down the wrong path pretty quickly. This applies especially strongly to divine characters. – doppelgreener Jan 14 '14 at 6:46
Just to be clear, this character is an NPC, right? Do you foresee the character getting in combat/assisting the PCs in battle? If you don't, you don't need to worry about balance issues or nerfing the character and can focus on the story. – Discord Jan 14 '14 at 14:54
@Discord I haven't decided if he'll be in combat or not, nor have I decided about rebuilding him as an NPC(He IS an NPC, just might not use the monster building rules for him). He has a 4e character sheet from when I was playing him. I figured the easiest way to incorporate him now that the party is his level, would be to have them meet & talk to him, he explains what happened and asks their help in seeking absolution. They may need to protect him for a while before he finally steps into the fray to "prove himself" again. Either way using my old character sheet would be the easiest, right? – MC_Hambone Jan 14 '14 at 22:12
Please take care that he doesn't become one of those dreaded God-DMPCs with plot armor and infini-luck. – Mala Jan 14 '14 at 22:24
up vote 16 down vote accepted

This is a non-starter. Paladins don't get their powers revoked in D&D 4e, nor are they granted by a god to begin with. If you have your PHB1 handy, turn it open to the Paladin class description and take a look at the paragraph in the top-left of the second page.

In short, Paladins receive their powers through training, an initiation rite, their boundless faith, or so on. Once the Paladin has started down the path of being a Paladin, their powers are their own and are theirs to keep. They are not granted daily by a god, but simply the Paladin's own, as an expression and manifestation of their faith. They cannot be revoked any more than a Sorcerer can be robbed of their spells or a Rogue can be robbed of their ability to smuggle knives into peoples' faces. (For the record, the same applies for Clerics and other divine classes.)

This is a pretty significant departure from previous editions. Another significant departure is that the Gods are distant and mysterious, and generally not concerned with interacting with mortals. Mechanically, the Gods are almost entirely irrelevant.

What should happen instead?

Instead, your dwarf would have his divine order turn their back on him. Pelor may do so, but it's highly unlikely he or his order had much contact with Pelor or his servants to begin with. The dwarf would still have his powers, because D&D 4e doesn't have any concept of power-revocation. He may simply be unable or unwilling to use them, possibly out of shame, or out of threats by his order. How you handle that is up to you.

Is there any reason Pelor shouldn't revoke his powers?

Yes: You'd set a precedent that 4e works the way 3.5e did where it does not and should not, and send two clear messages. First, that divine classes should constrain their actions based on alignment under fear of loss of all power, and second, that alignment is mechanically significant.

Neither of these things are the case otherwise, and D&D 4e is designed based on the idea they aren't the case. Classes are designed to be equal and balanced at all levels, and the alignment system is mechanically so insignificant you could remove it and affect almost nothing. 4e doesn't share 3.5e's philosophy of major catastrophic character damage being an OK thing - destruction of levels, attribute scores or unique equipment generally just doesn't happen, and nor does loss of class features.

Overall, in 4e I would strongly advise staying with D&D 4e's philosophy of Divine classes not being god-fuelled or under threat of losing their powers. The consequences suggested - a character's order hunting them down, among other things - are more appropriate for 4th edition, and push the story forward in accordance with its heroic themes.

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That is very interesting. I just assumed it was a mainstay of D&D that Divine powers are granted by a god and could be revoked if you anger said god. After reading the section in PHB1 I wonder if having his holy Implement revoked would be an appropriate punishment? I know it doesn't prevent him from channeling divine magic but it may be enough of a wound to his pride to make him stop adventuring as a paladin? – MC_Hambone Jan 14 '14 at 6:56
That's quite possible. He'll still have a lot of paladin powers though. You're also right that it was a mainstay, but 4e took a different direction and its authors killed a lot of sacred cows which were holding it back from their vision. – doppelgreener Jan 14 '14 at 6:58
@MC_Hambone I would caution against nerfing a character in 4e like this when other PCs are not also going to be nerfed. 4e has a very well though out balance (especially with errata) that you will undermine. Look to solve this issue via story routes vs. mechanical ones. Maybe his God will send him on a redemption quest to atone for his sins. Maybe trouble will come looking for the character in the form of an inquisition to cull the wheat from the chaff for his weakness, etc. – Joshua Aslan Smith Jan 14 '14 at 14:35
@JoshuaAslanSmith, As I understand the question, this Paladin was a PC, but is now an NPC in the new campaign. – Brian S Jan 14 '14 at 15:06
@BrianS he should be rebuilt using the Monster building rules then, at which point all of this discussion becomes moot mechanically because PCs and monsters (including friendly npcs) work so differently. – Joshua Aslan Smith Jan 14 '14 at 15:20

I think you've already answered your own question in your write-up: your character has lost his faith.

Tragedy and self-doubt have shaken his beliefs and driven him to lose his devotion to his code and his cause. You don't need a god to punish him — the paladin is already punishing himself! Maybe he hates Pelor now. Maybe he just thinks of himself as fundamentally unworthy of Pelor's divine blessing. Either way, he's lost his deep connection to the source of his divine power, so he can't wield it anymore.

In the case of a PC, it's really up to the group how you want to treat this mechanically. My assumption is that you just wouldn't use your paladin abilities until your character's faith is restored. If you end up not going back at all, it's probably most sensible to rebuild him mechanically as a member of a different class (the gap time between campaigns would be a good way to narratively justify this kind of "retraining").

In the case of a PC returning as an NPC, you'll want to restat him with NPC stats anyway.

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This is a pretty good way to handle it. Divine power is a manifestation of faith: losing that internal power source of faith would very soundly justify a loss of divine power story-wise. – doppelgreener Jan 14 '14 at 7:02
This is definitely a path I had not thought of as I was preoccupied with the idea of him angering his god. The time between campaigns he spent as a brawler could possibly lead to him being a Barbarian (maybe a fighter, but more likely barbarian due to lack of training). He would still retain knowledge of his paladin training, and the quest I am writing that involves this guy could possibly end with him regaining his faith and becoming a paladin again... definitely got me thinking now. – MC_Hambone Jan 14 '14 at 7:10

I'm going to take the alternate tack on this one. It's your game; you don't need to be constrained by D&D 4e to create the story you want to. You are the one who creates your campaign world. If you want to deviate from the 'canon' of the rulebooks, you have every right to do so. As a DM, you can give an NPC can have whatever back story you would like.

If it were a matter of inflicting this on a player, that might be a different story, as you don't want to punish them and break the game mechanically. But because it's an NPC and you feel it will make for a better story, DO IT!

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Could someone explain the down vote? This is a legitimate way to handle the situation in question. – Discord Jan 14 '14 at 14:57
I downvoted as the precedent has major implications for D&D 4e. I've voiced my concern over doing this in my answer, though I'm considering undoing it and simply leaving my objections invoiced. – doppelgreener Jan 14 '14 at 15:55
While I have considered this as an option, I am more devoted to the binding logic of my world. "Why is it that my NPC could have his powers stripped away from him via his god, but not the PCs if they were to deviate from their god's wishes?" is the biggest question that comes to mind here. Not a bad suggestion, I have considered it... but again, I feel like the PCs and NPCs are all denizens of the same world, and subject to the same laws of nature/physics/divine power/etc. – MC_Hambone Jan 14 '14 at 18:03

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