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Introduction

My table consists of only new players, including myself as DM. I have various books at home, but we often learn as we go and check rules later (on how they are intended). This way, sometimes spontaneous homebrew rules arise, and I'm wondering whether this ruling isn't too powerful.

Note: The party is level 6.

Ruling

Ever since we started playing, our paladin (Oath of Conquest) has been actively reaching out to his god (Tempus) with prayers. He does this mostly during his rests. He asks for things such as guidance of wisdom in tough moments to come, or basic information on other deities. Sometimes, however, his prayers are very concrete requests which impact the game mechanically. To narrow down this question, let's use them as cases:

  1. "Help me get rid of this curse."
  2. "Protect me from other curses."

I let him roll 1d100 with a DC of 80 or higher (depending on the prayer), to see if that divine presence actually responds to his thoughts at all. In both cases he succeeded his DC check, so it resulted into a personal 1-on-1 with his god, plus:

  1. Next two saves against the current curse are with an advantage (he rolled 97).
  2. You will get a warning, next time you encounter a cursed item.

I haven't found anything of a class feature that covers the relationship between Paladin and its deity in this way. I remember reading something like this somewhere, maybe in an older version of the game.

Note: He's the only PC getting something extra due to his roleplay, and I'm not sure if that's fair enough.

Issue

On occasion this spell feels like a free Wish spell Light, but it also allows this paladin to play around with his character in a way that's surprising to all of us.

I want to reward his roleplay but I don't want to imbalance the game too much.

Question

Could my ruling be considered balanced? If not, any suggestions on how to improve it?

I'm looking for ways to balance this ruling, and guidelines for how to limit its outcome. The PC can pray for what he wants, but as a DM I need a bit more than my gut feeling when making decisions on how to deal with prayers.

I accept answers that are backed up by personal experience, as well as rulings from the books that I've overlooked. Hope this is clear enough, thanks!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do other PCs get free, swappable powers, or does is the paladin the only one? \$\endgroup\$ – JPicasso May 26 '18 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does his god always give him what he asks for? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire May 26 '18 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ He's getting a benefit from his god. What special is he providing his god? \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel May 27 '18 at 3:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LorenPechtel Fighting whoever challenges him while leaving a trail of death behind. He chose his deity wisely: one that actually supports his murder-hobo tendencies.. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Vadruk May 27 '18 at 9:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ But he's getting the normal benefits of adventuring, I don't see that it's anything special for his god. I allow anyone to pray to their deity for anything. Such a prayer will only be answered if you've followed the faith well and comes with a cost of service--generally, something you must accomplish (without the normal expectation of loot) before the prayer is granted. This can be prepaid--going out of the way to do uncompensated (or even costing--such as building a temple) things builds up a credit you can then redeem with prayers. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel May 28 '18 at 2:49
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As @K-T mentioned in a comment, what you are describing sounds like the Cleric's class feature Divine Intervention.

Firstly, this works by rolling a d100, as you have been doing, but with the success rate being below the Cleric's level. Since they get this at level 10, this means there's a 10% chance of the prayer being answered, whereas you say you set the DC at 80 and he has to roll above that, meaning he has a 20% chance of his prayers being answered. So already your ruling is more powerful than the Cleric's class feature.

Secondly, the fact that you've essentially given him a class feature from another class for free is also unbalanced. I would recommend seriously nerfing this ruling that you've come up with. There are a few Cleric spells that have a similar function that you might want to check out, although again, none of these are available to the Paladin normally, so he's still getting something for free, so it should be less powerful that these.

You could, perhaps, come up with a homebrew feat that he can take so that he can cast one of these spells once per long rest? That way at least the Paladin isn't getting it for free, although the exact balancing of such as feat is beyond the scope of this question, so I'll stop here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since such an ability is intended for a lv10 Cleric, the DM can just take it away at the next session citing this but keep the current bonuses in some form. The figure will likely convince everyone that this is way beyond what he's supposed to have available at this point, and he already used it to get ahead in the game, so he's not in a position to complain. The 2nd bonus can be nerfed by formulating it generically, e.g.: "you've got a hunch that there's more to it than meets the eye" -- and let him figure out if this is his warning or not. \$\endgroup\$ – ivan_pozdeev May 26 '18 at 22:12
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Have you considered Inspiration?

Instead of giving him a feature outside of the rules why not try inspiration found on page 125 in the PHB? The Inspiration feature rewards good role-playing. This should encourage the others to role play as well. The problem I have with inspiration is, occasionally it feels like I'm playing favorites, so I let the other players at my table vote for good role-playing and then award inspiration if they feel it was good, provided they don't start abusing the system.

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Maybe the right way to handle this is to have there be a cost to the player, commensurate with the benefit that they are seeking. The Paladin doesn't just get cool stuff from their deity for free; they have to put their life on the line in their god's service.

Take some inspiration from the Dungeon World concept of a "mixed success", where, if the player is trying to do something but doesn't quite succeed, you offer them "a worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice". Come up with an agenda for Tempus that isn't entirely aligned with the agenda of this Paladin, and have the god demand some concessions or vows or actions in exchange for these divine blessings. Tempus is a war god, so maybe they would demand that the Paladin do more than they are doing to start or contribute to a war. Maybe they will want to know why the Paladin is off adventuring and not serving in an army. Maybe they will demand that the Paladin resolve their next problem with violence, whether or not that is the most prudent solution.

I imagine a Paladin in the service of a god of war might not expect to live a long time.

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