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When I read through Book of Exalted Deeds once again, I came up with a question:

Can a true neutral cleric cast sanctified spells?

While the book explicitly says that evil ones cannot cast such spells, it doesn't say anything about the neutral ones.

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3 Answers 3

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It Depends on the Cleric's Deity

The cleric's class features include the class feature titled Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells, which says

A cleric can’t cast spells of an alignment opposed to his own or his deity’s (if he has one). For example, a good cleric (or a neutral cleric of a good deity) cannot cast evil spells. Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaos, evil, good, and law descriptors in their spell descriptions. (PH 33)

Emphasis mine. Thus a neutral cleric of an evil deity could not cast spells with the good descriptor, and that includes most sanctified spells. A neutral cleric of a neutral deity could cast sanctified spells (but might be reluctant to do so or might follow that by casting corrupt spells to preserve the balance), as could a good cleric of a good or neutral deity.

As KRyan's Comment pointed out, "A cleric may not be neutral unless his deity's alignment is neutral" (PH 31), so there's just no such thing as a neutral cleric of a good or evil deity.


The Eberron Exception

It bears mentioning that the Eberron Campaign Setting text loosens the above restrictions as follows:

A cleric can cast spells with any alignment descriptor. Casting an evil spell is an evil act, and a good cleric’s alignment may begin to change if she repeatedly casts such spells, but the deities of Eberron do not prevent their clerics from casting spells opposed to their alignments. This rule supersedes the information in Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells on page 33 of the Player’s Handbook. (ECS 35)

Sanctified spells, however, remain exclusive to good and neutral clerics of good and neutral deities: "Evil characters cannot cast sanctified spells, including ones cast from magic items" (BE 83).

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Oh, forgot about that. Which reminds me of something involving Consecrate Spell... –  Arkhaic Jul 20 at 10:24
    
@Arkhaic Okay, now I'm interested--what's the trick with metamagic feat Consecrate Spell (CD 79)? While the feat adds the good descriptor to a modified spell, it doesn't eliminate the evil descriptor from a modified spell. What's the plan? –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 20 at 13:08
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A cleric can only be true neutral if his deity is, so there's no risk of a true neutral cleric having an evil deity. Well, except in Eberron, but in Eberron the rules are different anyway. –  KRyan Jul 20 at 14:38
    
Kryan: A cleric can be True Neutral if the deity is, say, Neutral Evil, so a TN cleric can have an Evil deity. They can't cast sanctified spells though. –  Arkhaic Jul 21 at 1:32
    
@Arkhaic KRyan's correct, though: "A cleric may not be neutral unless his deity's alignment is neutral" (PH 31). I didn't make that up, and that's neutral-neutral not one-step-away neutral. –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 21 at 1:49

Yes, by RAW they can, though your DM may not be so permissive. Personally I would allow it—working under the assumption that casting a sanctified spell is a [Good] act in and of itself, in the same (nonsensical) way that Deathwatch is [Evil].

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Yes, as long as nothing else prevents them from doing so.

The Web Enhancement to the Book of Exalted Deeds includes a sanctified spell, Armageddon, which summons a large number of celestials. The spell's description explicitly states that "the celestials only heed the summons if the caster is of good alignment and there are evil foes to fight." This implies that it would be possible for a Neutral character to cast sanctified spells in general, even though it wouldn't make much sense for a Neutral cleric to cast this particular spell. As @HeyICanChan's answer points out, there may be other reasons that a Neutral cleric couldn't cast sanctified spells: opposition from his deity, for example. But the cleric's own neutrality does not, by itself, prevent it.

That said, a warning is likely in order. This is sanctified magic we're talking about: drawing directly from the powers of Good in an especially close way. A Neutral cleric who makes a habit of casting such spells is probably going to find that his alignment starts to drift toward Good. If this would cause problems for your character, then using these spells becomes dangerous in its own way, and they would best be reserved for emergencies.

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