Divine champions were holy warriors, dedicated to their deity, their cause, and their church. They were seen as the strong right arms of their gods. They took the role of church-sponsored warrior commonly filled by paladins in more goodly and lawful churches, particularly for deities whom paladins could not follow; however, every church could have divine champions.
The faithful and clergy of their churches loved them just as much as the foes of the church despised them. The battles between divine champions of opposing faiths were legendary, oft-told by bards over the centuries.
Most of them had a military or otherwise combat-oriented background, most commonly paladins, fighters, and monks, as well as barbarians and rangers, and often militant clerics and druids. Many pursued other prestigious paths associated with their churches, and divine champions of evil deities were typically also blackguards. Monks of Ilmater's Broken Ones and Tiamat's Serpent Guards, and the paladins of Chauntea's Field Guardians, Helm's Vigilant Eyes of the God, Horus-Re's Claws of the Sun and the Ankh, Ilmater's Companions of the Noble Heart, Lathander's Order of the Aster, Moradin's Hammers of Moradin, Nobanion's Legion of Lions, the Red Knight's Order of the Red Falcon, Sune's Sisters and Brothers of the Ruby Rose, Tyr's Knights of Holy Judgment and Knights of the Merciful Sword, could cross-train freely as divine champions. All members of the Bloodmoon Circle, lycanthropes dedicated to Malar, were divine champions.
They fought to protect sacred sites and the priests and pilgrims of their faith. They also served as leaders in crusades and battled to destroy their church's enemies, to defeat clerics of rival gods, and slay mythical beasts.
Divine champions opposed the faithful of deities who were enemies of their own, and selected one enemy deity to work against. For example, a divine champion of Selûne could be opposed to Shar and her worshipers.
Divine champions were required to possess some learning in religious lore and excellent skill-at-arms, and to have focused on wielding their god's favored weapon. They also obviously needed a patron deity; they could not be considered Faithless or False.
Training as warriors, divine champions acquired proficiency with most traditional weapons if they weren't already. They could gain skills in athletic areas like climbing, leaping, and swimming; in riding and handling animals; and in the crafting of items. They could also learn to intimidate others and they might study religious lore.
Notably, being defenders of the faith, divine champions possessed the ability to heal simply by laying on hands just like paladins. However, this only worked on those who shared their faith, and on the divine champions themselves, not on outsiders. For divine champions who were also paladins, this was separate from any other power to lay on hands they had.
They also advanced their martial training, by learning certain combat techniques. These could include expert defensive fighting, the ability to fight whilst visually impaired, and improved reactions for the start of battle, seizing an opportunity against a foe, or drawing their weapon swiftly. They could also continue to focus on their deity's weapon or on another, by gaining proficiency, improving skill in attack, or inflicting more grievous injuries. Alternatively, they could improve their ability to turn undead if they had it.
Like paladins, divine champions could smite "infidels", be they the faithful of other gods or the Faithless who believed in none. Once a day, they could attack such a foe with the full force of their conviction. However, if the divine champion had a similar power as a former paladin or cleric, they could instead use that power one more time each day.
Finally, a veteran divine champion could channel some of their deity's power into a divine wrath, boosting their prowess in battle considerably. They attacked with more skill and force; better resisted harmful effects; and ignored light wounds made by any weapon, manufactured or natural. The power that sustained them was sacred if the deity or the champion was good, or profane if the deity or the champion was evil.
Notable Divine Champions
- Duma Varr
- Jareth Burlisk
- Lady Jeryth Phaulkon
- Kyrran Graylord
- Mantasso of Summit Hall
- Nasher Alagondar
- Prince Yder Tanthul
- The Pereghost
- Light of Heavens
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 7, 42. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 42–43. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 49–51. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 25, 26. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Web Enhancement for Faiths and Pantheons. Wizards of the Coast. pp. 7–8. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.
- Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. Edited by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 175. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. Edited by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 154. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.