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Faith and HeresyD&D Insider Article
By Ken Hart and Jeff LaSala

How and why someone dispenses the power of the gods are questions that, ultimately, each cleric must answer alone. Inevitably, some clerics arrive at answers that are at odds with the tenets of their church, or find no answers at all. Some of these simply abandon their previous convictions and walk away from the clerical life; they become apostates. Others turn to a different church or deity that provides answers they can commit to without reservation; they become converts. And a few begin spreading their own, unique reinterpretation of their deity’s tenets in a way that conflicts with accepted church doctrine; they become heretics.

For the worst offenses, the punishing clergy could consider branding, exile, or death. Paladins, specially trained clerics, even angels might be called upon to silence a heretic permanently. Some faiths, particularly Pelor, Moradin, and the Raven Queen, have commanded avengers in their service to hunt down egregious heretics—those who have escalated their transgressions by bartering with demons, devils, or creatures of the Far Realm. Depending on the rank of the betrayer and the potential for publicity or embarrassment, retributive missions are loudly proclaimed or cloaked in secrecy. Some temples can perform obscure rituals that can track a heretic's activities or position, or call upon the retributive force of an angel.

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    About the Author

    Jeff LaSala is a writer/editor of speculative fiction and an artificer of RPGs. His Eberron novel, The Darkwood Mask, was nominated for the Scribe Award and showcases his love for all things dark, monstrous, and masked. Many of his ideas are drawn from the cthonic depths of New York City, where he (roll 1d4): (1) Dwells with an Argentine mermaid—having married her; (2) Masquerades as a normal person; (3) Imagines a world splintered into sorry hemispheres; (4) Lurks like a gargoyle over his website, Ashlock.org.

    Ken Hart has edited and written a number of RPG supplements and adventures. Past contributions include Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics and Etherscope. He also contributed to the forthcoming anthology Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero. Hart lives with his wife and daughter in northern New Jersey and is trying to convince his 4-year-old that the Dread Dormammu is cool, despite his name. He blogs about gaming, Survivor, and pop culture at ken-ofghastria. livejournal.com.