As can be seen in this question, with the relevant quote from the Players Handbook:

Player's Handbook, page 82:

Although many paladins are devoted to gods of good, a paladin’s power comes as much from a commitment to justice itself as it does from a god.

However, while not an official ruling, this series of tweets from Ed Greenwood counter this and states that in FR, they are required to follow a deity:

One becomes a paladin by hearing and accepting a call to holy service. That acceptance is cemented by an oath. If a paladin transgresses against their oath, the usual absolution, as the PHB states, is to seek absolution from a cleric of the same faith. Paladins DO worship deities, and like any other mortal, may receive requests from mortal priests or divine servitors, or messages directly from a deity [...]

[...] Although you, as a paladin, serve a god or alliance of good gods (to literally fight evil, and do so largely ‘in your own way'[) ...]

[...] However, if your deity commands you to do something (like obey or work with a mortal priest) and you don’t, you shouldn’t expect to retain your paladinhood. What makes you a paladin is a “sacred oath,” and therefore the support of the gods [...]

Is this a valid ruling (i.e. it overrides the PHB as regards the Forgotten Realms) backed up with material from a sourcebook (And if so, which one), or is this just an unofficial stance/interpretation of a staff member?

The tweet suggests that Forgotten Realms paladins do have to follow a deity, which would be counter to the rules in the PHB. I'm looking for official, 5e, published material related to FR that supports that assertion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 - That is 5e/AL, this is regarding Forgotten Realms specifically. There is an unofficial quote from a game author saying FR paladins do need to follow a deity. I'm trying to find out if this is in a 5e book as an extra/setting type rule, or what. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Aug 13, 2019 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Raj It seems the question is asking whether Greenwood's claims are backed by official published D&D 5E material. And by extension, whether it could be enforced as rules-as-written. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Aug 13, 2019 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Raj - I know that tweets are not official. And I know that 5e paladins do not have to follow a deity. The tweet suggests that Forgotten Realms paladins DO have to follow a deity, which would be counter to the PHB. I'm looking for official material related to FR that supports that assertion. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Aug 13, 2019 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to suggest that people take any further debates about potential duplication to Role-playing Games Meta (or just vote to close as a duplicate if you have the rep and feel strongly about it). If you have questions that might help focus the question or to determine if it is one or not, feel free to ask, but don't use this space for debating please. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2019 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StuperUser - Either. Since that is source material, it's in the D&D multiverse, not FR. I don't think it would apply, but if you have a good answer for FR that uses that as a basis, I wouldn't kick it aside. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Aug 14, 2019 at 13:26

1 Answer 1



Let me start by stating two points that are relevant to this answer. Feel free to skip this section if you want to jump directly to the 5e material.

  1. In previous editions, official FR material dictated that paladins receive their powers from deities. In general, deities are a major part of this polytheistic setting, and mortals and powers are well-aware of this. Deities get to run the (meta)physics of the world and not having faith diminishes their power and causes imbalance. Our real-world secular/religious sensitivities are not attuned to this way of thinking, perhaps a good analogy is having your children vaccinated. When most people have vaccination, we get a herd immunity; likewise when most people have faith, the FR world 'runs'. As such not just paladins, but all people are expected to have a patron deity. If not, they are "disciplined" in the afterlife and become part of the "Wall of the Faithless". The attempts by the god of the dead, Kelemvor, to resolve this seemingly unfair treatment of the faithless has been depicted to have serious consequences in novels, which resulted in a change of his personality.

  2. In spite of the central role faith plays in the FR of Greenwood, you are more than welcome to reject it; or find ways around it (like a faithless paladin who is still being watched over by a deity like Torm). Throughout its whole history, Ed Greenwood and the various versions of any written material have always highlighted the fact that each FR campaign belongs to the individual DMs. So feel free to rule however you like.

As for the officially printed material you have asked for, below is what is available.

What do the 5e Sources Say?

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide states (page 131):

When ... a warrior also has great devotion to a particular deity, that god can reward the faithful with a measure of divine power, making that person a paladin.

And yet on page 132:

Most paladins in the Forgotten Realms, like clerics, are devoted to a particular deity.

These two sentences might seem to be in conflict, unless we interpret them to state that 5e FR paladins get support from one or more deities. This interpretation is supported by lore from earlier editions (see for example the Triadic Knights) as well as the text on clerics (page 125):

A typical cleric in Faerun serves a single divine patron, but some individuals feel called to serve a group, ...

D&D Adventurer's League

It is worth noting that the D&D Adventurer's League FAQ has switched its position on this issue over time. (The change might be correlated with the introduction of non-FR campaigns to DDAL.) In version 2.5 it stated:

Does My Paladin Have to Worship a Deity? Yes, though your character’s alignment isn’t required to match that of their deity.

While version 3 states:

No. What makes you think you do? Dunno what you’re talking about.

WotC Suggestions for Content Creators

Finally, Wizards of the Coast has a set of style guides for their official play writers and have been made available for all content creators on DM's Guild. Note that these guides are suggestions and not rules, but for the sake of completeness, I would like to quote the relevant parts. D&D IP Guide states:

Divine magic is practiced by the most devoted followers of D&D’s gods: clerics and paladins. ... Paladins are the holy warriors of D&D. Like clerics, they serve a deity and channel divine power to achieve their goals (or the goals of the temple or holy order they serve).

Forgotten Realms Style Guide confirms:

Paladins are warriors of unusual virtue and piety rewarded by a good god with divine power. ... paladins are typically judged more swiftly and harshly by their gods.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That tiny litte distinction between "are expected to have" and "are required to have" looks to be the crux of John's question. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2019 at 20:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also doesn't "most paladins" from your second quote implicitly mean that paladins can exist without being devoted to a deity? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2019 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubikmoose that's actually slightly complex in FR as some deities have formed functional alliances and are sometimes worshipped as a collective (e.g. The Triad) including by clerics and paladins - such characters would not be devoted to "a particular deity" singular, but they would still be dependent on divine entities for their powers... (it's also sometimes been the case that gods have provided divine power even to those who do not venerate them, for whatever reasons that might still serve their ends.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Aug 13, 2019 at 20:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ I am aware of that. The point isn't "does a paladin believe that gods exist" but "must a Paladin serve a deity." I've not voted either way on your answer, since the FR assumptions are things that sort of carry over from one edition to another. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2019 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer would probably be improved by noting that the official FR material published in previous editions does mandate that paladins, and clerics, (and indeed druids - all divine casters, IIRC) must receive their powers from a deity (which is almost always, except for some unusual circumstances, their patron deity). 5e's official published FR material so far seems to strongly encourage that status quo but stops shy of stating it outright (seemingly except for the since-revised rule in DDAL that required such characters to worship a patron). \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Aug 13, 2019 at 22:00

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