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For example, if a paladin of Pelor starts beating beggars or orphans on a daily basis, threatening them so they don't talk about it to anybody, how would Pelor find out his worshiper is doing something wrong?

In general, how does a deity find out a worshiper is transgressing their faith?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Questions in comments that employ the Socratic method are, naturally, considered answers and have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 2 '18 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie OK, sometimes finding out the thought process behind a question is useful. Other times, not. vagrantdog covered my answer; such 3.5 as stuff I have left is elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 2 '18 at 23:17
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With their supernatural powers of remote sensing.

As it happens, there is a 3e sourcebook called Deities and Demigods which contains a wealth of material about deities, both from a creative perspective (how to design your own pantheons etc.) and a mechanical one - presenting rules for how to mechanically represent gods in 3e D&D. A 3.5e version was not published, but I figure this is close enough for your purposes...

In the rules laid out in this book, every deity has a Divine Rank, a numerical quantifier of their divine power. This mostly falls in the range 0-20, with 0 being a demigod, and 20 being an extremely powerful deity (it can go higher, but rank 21+ entities are described as being "beyond the ken of mortals" and don't take worshippers/grant powers as other gods do). The power of Remote Sensing is available to every deity of Divine Rank 1 or higher, as described on page 28:

Remote Sensing: As a standard action, a deity of rank 1 or higher can perceive everything within a radius of one mile per rank around any of its worshipers, holy sites, or other objects or locales sacred to the deity. This supernatural effect can also be centered on any place where someone speaks the deity’s name or title for up to 1 hour after the name is spoken, and at any location when an event related to the deity’s portfolio occurs (see the deity descriptions for details).

This ability works across planes and through any magical shielding short of a block put up by another god. The deities aren't considered to have an infinite supply of attention - they can only concentrate on and actually perceive a limited number of places at once - but they can basically scry at will on anyone who worships them, mentions them, or happens to be near their temple, automatically perceiving everything that happens in a range of miles around the centre of their attention. This is how deities, as described by this sourcebook, keep up to date with what's going on in the world.

So what does this mean for your Paladin of Pelor?

Pelor, specifically, is given in this book as a "greater deity" with a Divine Rank of 17 (he's pretty powerful, as gods go). This grants him the ability to remotely sense 20 different places at once, and perceive everything that is happening within 17 miles of those places, which is a pretty astonishingly large area when you think about it. He doesn't need to sleep, and he can just cycle those 20 focuses of attention around the myriad of things he can sense. Checking in on his most favoured mortal servants - clerics and paladins - seems like an eminently worthwhile use of his sensing abilities.

While your transgressing Paladin cannot be certain that Pelor will be watching at any given time he's harassing orphans or whatever it is he's doing, it is overwhelmingly likely that if he keeps it up, Pelor will at some point be checking on him or someone/something within 17 miles of him and therefore catch him in the act - and presumably be most displeased by the scene unfolding.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oops, didn't see you'd already answered this one. My bad. \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog May 2 '18 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheVagrantDog null sweat. You would've started drafting your answer before mine was posted anyway, given there's only a few minutes between. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 2 '18 at 23:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding to this, this approach isn't altogether unlike what happens with pettier serial crimes: Someone repeatedly stealing from the collection plate is unlikely to be caught on any single occasion, but eventually the right person is going to be looking the right way at the wrong time and then it's all over no matter how careful they were \$\endgroup\$ – Pingcode May 3 '18 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding to this, D&D isn't a science-based Earth. Alignment is real and remotely sensible. It's not just a matter of the DM checking to see if the 'divine security camera' is turned on or being replayed; such actions would be a visible stain to divine sight and would still be visible at any point the paladin came to notice (requesting aid, fighting a great evil, leveling up, &c). \$\endgroup\$ – lly Jul 22 '18 at 4:34
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While it's technically a 3.0 book, Deities and Demigods wasn't altered significantly by the change to 3.5 (The update I have for it amounted to about 6 pages), so it remains a reliable source of information on how the gods work in D&D.

In that book, the senses of the gods are described, as well as any special knowledge they have. The one most relevant to your naughty paladin is Remote Sensing:

As a standard action, a deity of rank 1 or higher can perceive everything within a radius of one mile per rank around any of its worshipers, holy sites, or other objects or locales sacred to the deity. This supernatural effect can also be centered on any place where someone speaks the deity's name or title for up to 1 hour after the name is spoken, and at any location when an event related to the deity's portfolio occurs.

A paladin is a holy warrior who wields divinely gifted power, and especially in campaigns where worship is tied directly to the power of a god, they pay close attention to those that influence potential worshippers. He might not immediately get caught, but your paladin is living on borrowed time the moment he makes Pelor look bad.

In a more general sense, intermediate and higher gods automatically perceive any event related to their portfolios. Even if the paladin wasn't being watched to make sure he does a good job recruiting nonbelievers, and even if he didn't discourage worship of Pelor directly, any activity in opposition to Pelor's will (and by extension most gods) in regards to the portfolios he represents will instantly be noted... and if the transgression is great enough, instantly dealt with.

Minor caveat: lesser gods can't view any event that involves less than a certain number of people automatically, though they can still remote sense.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, @Carcer pretty much said the same thing I did... but hey, I mentioned portfolios! That's helpful! \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog May 2 '18 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pelor's actual example entry later on clarifies the events his portfolio sense detects: "Pelor senses every dusk and dawn, and knows when any source of light is lit or extinguished, he is likewise aware of any act of healing." That's a bit more limited than your answer implies, though fantastically he can also sense these events happening up to 19 weeks into the future (for some reason, parts of his entry are written as if he were rank 19, others as rank 17). \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 2 '18 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer While it does say that, and I didn't read that far before answering so you got me there, he has more than one portfolio. He'd also sense events related to strength, for example, and the portfolio sense for gods in general is quite a bit broader than his description entails. \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog May 2 '18 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The events given as setting off his portfolio sense do relate to different bits of his portfolio. I think the intention was meant to be that for each deity, there's a specific list of events related to their portfolios which they can sense - the wording is "at any location when an event related to the deity’s portfolio occurs (see the deity descriptions for details)", not "when any event". I concede it's ambiguously worded in the general ability description though it seems deliberately specific in the actual deity entries themselves. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 3 '18 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer Fair enough. The point remains that if our unfriendly paladin friend were to greet each dawn by screaming obscenities at the sun and daring random passer-by to rat him out, Pelor will know. \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog May 3 '18 at 0:04
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My answer is not a rules answer, as that has already been provided, but more of a flavor text. Said Paladin is pledged to the God and is therefor part of the God's power. Due to the aura you might even say that they have become part of the God, which is accurate as the power of a god is generally related to the amount of believers (as mentioned in the Deities and Demigods handbook). Im sure a god pays attention to its sources of power, and someone who is part of the god and not behaving in the correct manner could possible reduce the power of a god.

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