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I'm going to start a D&D 5e campaign, and one of my players wanted the father of her character to be a legendary (or at least really exceptional) dwarven blacksmith having a link with Moradin.
She wants the disappearance of her PCs' father to be a trigger for going out of the mountain and going on an adventure to try and find him.

As she wanted the father to be a blacksmith with a link with Moradin, I thought he might be a Moradins' Forge domain Cleric, granting both a tangible link with the god and the smithing proficiency. And to be able to have some contact with his god, he'd have to be at least 10th level.

However, my player doesn't want the father to just disappear, but to be kidnapped for some lore reasons. And I'm worried about finding a realistic way to keep a level 10 (or higher) Forge Cleric in custody for a long period.

While this question about preventing a forge cleric from using Channel Divinity address a part of it, the cleric could still use his Divine Intervention to get help in some way.

Is there a RAW way to prevent a forge cleric from using his Divine Intervention to escape from custody?

The cleric has to be kept alive, and bonus point if the solution permits him to be exploited by his keepers to forge some items (even without his divine powers).

I'd like to avoid hand-waved solutions or indirect solutions (like taking a hostage or threatening him) as this would fall outside of expectations of this site and be considered opinion-generated answers.

The solution proposed can come from any official sources, be it a class feature, a spell, a monster ability, or anything as long as it's RAW and can be reliably used for an extended period of time. We're using the Forgotten Realms setting so it's a plus if it's compatible with it, but it's not mandatory.
The kidnappers could be anyone at my discretion, so there is no limit to the cost or rarity of the solution.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think there's a solid question here, but it's reading a bit as an X-Y problem where you think you've found a solution and are trying to find ways to make that solution a reality. Instead, I'd suggest providing the requirements of what you want to happen with the character and then allow the community to find the solutions to get there. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Feb 17, 2022 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ At level 10 the divine intervention has a 10% chance to work. It's not a Win Button, nor is it an Easy Button. While it is true that a cleric can try every day...*If your deity intervenes, you can’t use this feature again for 7 days. Otherwise, you can use it again after you finish a long rest* The reason I mention this is that you appear to be assuming that D.I. works at will. That's not true until level 20. So what problem are you actually trying to solve here? (And since the father is an NPC, why do you feel the need to us PC rules for him? In this 5e PC and NPC follow different rules. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2022 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Ho I see what you mean, though it'd have been a bit too broad for the site, and did some narrowing on my side before asking here. There are already answers so I'll not make a such massive edit of the question, but I'll keep that in mind for my next questions, thanks for the guidance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18, 2022 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Well I might be a bit wrong on trying to be RAW for an NPC, but I'd like it to be as realistic as it can be in a D&D world as it's a pretty important NPC and I'd like for him to be able to give some explanations to his daughter when they reunite if she asks for details without having to hand-wave too much. Also, I know that they don't automatically succeed on Divine Blessing but as you said they can try every day, and I don't know for how long the cleric will be in custody so the chance that he manage to get help from it is high. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18, 2022 at 8:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not all those who wander are lost. He's taking a vacation and doesn't want to 'escape'. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tony Ennis
    Feb 18, 2022 at 18:55

4 Answers 4

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RAW, this is already part of the ability description.

The description for Divine Intervention states:

Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes. The DM chooses the nature of the intervention; the effect of any cleric spell or cleric domain spell would be appropriate.

(Emphasis mine.)

Since the DM can choose the nature of the intervention, the DM can choose any form of aid that does not help the cleric to escape, or could choose to provide no help at all.

Story-wise this could be justified in any number of ways.

As an example, perhaps help is given in terms of healing, food, removal of exhaustion, etc., but not any aid in escaping as Moradin just assures the cleric that help is on the way, wanting the PC to rescue their father for Moradin's own reasons.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps help is given in the form of, you know, his daughter goes on an adventure to rescue him. \$\endgroup\$
    – order
    Feb 17, 2022 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ michaelhartzell.com/blog/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Feb 17, 2022 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer, really like the ideas, thank you. Also, great idea @order, don't know how I didn't already though about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18, 2022 at 8:25
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The father is using divine intervention to get help... from his child!

Of course the PC's father is seeking divine intervention from Moradin. And as a 10th level cleric, Moradin answers his call a few times per month (I think it's every 17 days on average, but I haven't done the math). And what is the specific nature of Moradin's intervention? Why, it's to provide guidance to the PC to help them find and rescue their father!

Perhaps Moradin (or the father) knows that any direct, detectable intervention would be insufficient to guarantee the father's escape, but would alarm his captors to the point where they might execute him out of fear that they couldn't contain him. So the best solution is to bring in outside help from someone trustworthy.

This is the perfect excuse for you as the DM to provide occasional divine hints and aid to the player's character. Ideally, you shouldn't tell the player what's happening. Just narrate the occasional miracle or divine message along their adventure and let them figure out why it keeps happening.

User Stephan Kolassa adds an additional twist: perhaps the reason Moradin won't intervene directly is because the PC's father has been taken captive by adherents of a deity that opposes Moradin, and a direct intervention would risk escalating a conflict of divine proportions. This not only gives Moradin a reason to work indirectly by guiding the PC, but also supplies an identity and motivation for the antagonists who have captured the father.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, this. I particularly like "Ideally, you shouldn't tell the player". \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 18, 2022 at 13:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jack Here's hoping said player doesn't read this oddly specific Q&A. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2022 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ lol, yeah really \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 18, 2022 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related possibility: just as the PC's father follows Moradin, a rival deity (e.g., duergar) supports the captors. If Moradin intervenes "too directly", the captors' patron deity may react by intervening "more directly", so Moradin chooses the indirect route via the PC to avoid a divine escalation. I see something like this, revealed over many character levels, as possibly leading to a truly epic story arc. Compare the Iliad for divine-conflicts-by-proxy, and that one has been the prototype for Western epics for about 3000 years... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2022 at 23:07
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An NPC doesn't have to follow player character rules

You can create a custom stat block that has some, but not all Forge Cleric abilities. There's actually a lot of precedent here: Just look at MM stat blocks like Mage, Assassin, War Priest, etc. Or the even more blatant Wizard stat blocks from MP:MM.

So, just make an NPC that's flavorful, but doesn't have any abilities that would break your plot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, as I wrote in the question my PC wants the father to have a link with Moradin, so even if I don't give him Divine Intervention it'd still have to have some ways to communicate with his god. But if I didn't have this constraint it'd be a really great tip, thank you to point it to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18, 2022 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another good place to look would be the sidekick classes. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2022 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain what MP:MM means? I've tried looking it up and haven't found any info. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Sutton
    Feb 18, 2022 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenSutton it's the recently released source book, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse \$\endgroup\$
    – Jorn
    Feb 19, 2022 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zoma "some ways to communicate with his god" doesn't have to mean Divine Intervention. It doesn't even have to mean Cleric. This NPC could well be a very devout follower of Moradin, without having the (mechanical) means to ask for their direct intervention. You could include abilities like the Commune or Divination spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jorn
    Feb 19, 2022 at 13:10
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Keep him incapacitated or dominated

Divine Intervention reads:

Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great. Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action.

(Emphasis added). So, in the simplest case, any condition that does not allow him to take an Action will stop him from calling for divine intervention.

The incapacitated condition reads:

An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.

How to best keep him incapacitated? You could paralyze him, petrify him, stun him, or keep him unconscious, for example in a coma or magically asleep. Without major access to magic, coma is likely the best solution. Put him down to 0 hits, stabilize him, and have someone look over him to ensure he does not wake up, or knock him back out if he does.

With access to magic or monsters, petrification seems to be the simplest long term solution, use Flesh to Stone, or a monster like a Medusa or Basilisk. It may be a bit difficult to get through the Con saves with a Dwarf, but if you drug him he eventually will succumb to it. And honestly, playing all that out off-stage for verisimilitude may be taking it a bit far.

If you want to get useful work out of him, you need ways to ensure he does not want to take the action and call on his god. That likewise will require some higher level spells, and might fail if he makes his save. You could use upcast Dominate Monster or Dominate Person, just make sure he takes no damage and send him to sleep again before the time is up. Or maybe get a Succubus to charm him.

That part seems like a lot of cost, work and risk. I'd likely just petrify him and be done with it. He'll still be alive to be rescued.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yo Groody, you mentioned paralyzed as the easiest solution, then listed petrified sources. Checking if that was intentional before editng \$\endgroup\$
    – Korpse
    Feb 17, 2022 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope, typo, will fix, thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2022 at 22:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the answer, even if there are other good answers, yours is the only one actually preventing the cleric from using Divine Intervention, thank you for all these details. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18, 2022 at 8:49

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