Divine Connections

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on May 10, 2011

Dwarf InvokerThe divine power source more than any other carries with it great connections between its various classes. This is due to the link that the various deities provide between the classes. Due to this link, a campaign that features only divine characters is easier to manage than a campaign that features only one other power source. Divine campaigns can be a lot of fun to participate in and they provide plenty of opportunities for interesting role-playing.

While divine classes share a common element in their deity, they all approach how to serve that deity in a different manner. In many cases there is a striking contrast in acceptable behaviour from one class to another. This post will briefly discuss the various classes that comprise the divine power source and how they relate to their other divine peers.

There are currently eight classes that use the divine power source. Of these the Warpriest and Cavalier, Essentials releases, fill the role of Cleric and Paladin respectively. As a result I won’t consider them as individual classes. Instead they are included with the Cleric and Paladin.


The Avenger is the most elusive of all divine classes. They also fuel the darkest rumours of conspiracies regarding the death of enemies of the church. Avenger’s take an oath to destroy the enemies of the church. In fulfilling this oath Avengers may take on a number of guises. He might be the commoner in the market, the old man by the fountain or the boastful warrior. In short, the Avenger does what is necessary to complete his sacred oath.

An Avenger on the hunt is a deadly foe. Nothing will separate them from the competition of their mission. No mountain too steep, no valley too deep.

The Avengers is an official part of his church’s army. He serves his deity as instructed by his superiors in the church. Often he is part of an order or brotherhood that the common worshiper knows nothing of. The Avengers duty is sacred, he is the long shadow of the church ensuring that no enemy escapes.

Relation to other Divine Classes

The Avenger is not a good team player. Many of their class powers allow the Avenger to excel while they are fighting an opponent one on one. From an ideology standpoint the Avenger works well with either the Paladin or the Blackguard, depending on the alignment of their deity. The single driven pursuit of a goal is one that comes to the forefront of these three classes. As the Avenger wears cloth or no armour having a Cleric or Runepriest around for healing is advised.

Blackguard by GalligiBlackguard

Where the Paladin is the shining example of all that is good, the Blackguard is his antithesis. A creature of evil. Blackguards are only found in the employ of evil deities. He strikes out at the deities enemies leaving a wake of destruction and devastation behind him.

Blackguards are often found leading their deities armies. Other zealots find themselves following behind their lead like a pack of rabid dogs.

Relation to other Divine Classes

Though the Blackguard fills the role of striker from a combat perspective, make no mistake about it; the Blackguard is a leader. A Blackguard will expect other classes to fall in line behind him. It’s not that the Blackguard doesn’t work well with others, rather that he expects others to follow his commands.

Cleric (Warpriest)

The Cleric or Warpriest is the quintessential servant of his deity. He is the most numerous of the faithful and the most approachable. It is Cleric’s who have traditionally been the source of many divine miracles and occurrences.

In many ways the Cleric is the face of the church. He leads the faithful and is the primary source for healing and restorative magic.

Relation to other Divine Classes

The Cleric is a support class, in as much as he is a leader. Capable of battling foes in melee or from range. How the Cleric supports the other divine classes can vary. Some prefer the role of healer, while others have a more hands on approach. Most other divine classes see the Cleric as a primary instrument of their deities will.


The Invoker differs from other divine classes. Rather than taking direction from a deity, the Invoker instead taps directly into that deities power. For this reason Invokers often operate outside of any formal divine organizations. Instead, he brings direct judgement to those who oppose his deities will.

While Invokers often operate outside of the bounds of the church, there are many who attach themselves to a formal order while it suits their purpose. So long as their deities will is being accomplished they are happy.

Relation to other Divine Classes

While the Invoker may be set apart in terms of how they access their power, they still very much require the assistance of other divine classes. The only controller in the divine power source, the Invoker fills a vital role. They also require the support of the various other classes.

PaladinPaladin (Cavalier)

Divine champion, holy warrior. These are but two of the terms used in reference to the Paladin. The antithesis of the Blackguard. The Paladin stands for all that is virtuous and right. Often he receive a reputation as unyielding, however this is the voice of the ignorant. The Paladin stands for the values of his deity, ensuring they are upheld at all costs.

Relation to other Classes

Paladins and Blackguards do not mix. While the Paladin may have the same zeal as an Avenger, there methods often differ. The Paladin has perhaps the greatest synergy in terms of ideology with the Cleric. In fact a healing Cleric and a Paladin can make for a deadly duo, bringing divine retribution to their foes.


Runepriests are a leader of a different sort. Rather than communicating directly with his deity, the Runepriest instead seeks to find knowledge in ancient writings and religious texts. It is with this deeper understanding that he gains his power.

A capable melee combatant, the Runepriest often dictates the pace and flow of the battle based upon the various powers he has at his disposal.

Relation to other Divine Classes

While the Runepriest might seem bookish or aloof he is in fact anything but. Recognizing through his research how the various elements of the church work together the Runepriest is a capable battlefield commander.

Bringing It All Together

Today we’ve looked at the various divine classes and how they might work together. In our follow-up to this piece we will examine more closely various divine organizations and how they might be used to run a campaign.

How do you role play your divine character? Do you find that certain divine characters simply don’t work well with others?

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1 Seth May 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

It’s interesting you state that Avengers don’t play well with others, since my favorite Avenger build is the one which explicitly plays best with others.

Isolating Avengers, too, are desperate for someone to keep them on their feet so that they can do their job; you do mention that the class’s lack of armor means healers are needed, but it’s a bit more pronounced in that case.

Great art for the Paladin and Blackguard! Should I know the sources for those, or were they fortunate DeviantArt finds?

2 Alton May 10, 2011 at 11:50 am

It is not too often that blogs will touch on divine characters. I myself have recently been playing a Cleric(Warpriest) from the Essentials line and I find that this class is how most clerics should be designed. Clerics have come a long way from past editions where healing is the only thing they can do well.

I tried playing a runepriest, but I find reading their power cards is like trying to read a novel every round. They intrigue me, but the rune powers make it less enjoyable to play.

The Avenger is good as a defender like class who takes care of one of the big guns while the party decimates the rest of their adversaries.

I know nothing of the blackguard and not too familiar with the invoker.

Great article.

3 Kilsek May 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I love divine characters for their built-in heroics and adventure hooks based on religious convictions alone. Simliar to how half-races start with an immediately colorful story right out of the gate.

While I love my Avenger and think he makes an excellent ally in the party – for a striker, I think the Avenger does his job very well – I do have to say I am interested for the first time in trying out the Warpriest.

I’m not much of an Essentials guy, but I do love the flavor and keep hearing good things about the Warpriest in particular (and cleric was my favorite class throughout most of D&D’s editions).

And I admit the flavor included in Essentials and Heroes of Shadow is certainly impressive and inspiring, as it is indeed a significantly immersive roleplaying step forward they’ve taken in 4e – finally! Monster Vault’s lore also impresses me greatly.

4 Rabbit is wise May 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I know what the book says but my fellower gamers an I view the blackguard differently. We think of Paladins like the police often operating above board, being the face of justice, while the blackguard is more like the CIA, they have no problems bending and breaking the rules to fix the problem, caring not for the limelight or by what means are used but mearly that the “proper” ends are met. This creates interesting group dynamic and role playing oppurtunities.

I hate pidgeon holing classes into being either “good” or “evil”, but merely what function do they provide in their religion. For instance Blackguards might operate in the ways mentioned above, and in doing so are often shunned by their Religions priests. Remember not everyone in a religion see’s eye to eye

5 Wimwick May 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm

@ Seth
The art was a lucky find with a Google Images search. The Avenger can be a team player, but some of their abilities work best when they are fighting one on one.

@ Alton
The Invoker is one of my favourite divine classes. What I like about all divine classes is the additional role playing and background you can develop regarding how they approach their faith. To role play that consistently is a lot of and can be very rewarding.

@ Kilsek
At GenCon last year one of the promises was more flavour in the sourcebooks. It sounds like WotC has hit the mark based on your thoughts on the Essentials classes.

@ Rabbit is wise
You raise some good points about how to think about the Blackguard. I suppose I maintain my viewpoints of the class from 3.5 where the Blackguard was a prestige class that only fallen Paladins could enter. Your idea of the Blackguard as CIA is more how I imagine the Avenger. The great thing about D&D is that we are both right.

6 Matt Gallinger May 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

I wish you had given the runepriest the same passionate explanation that you gave the Avenger… as usual, the classes for PHB 3 get the short end of the stick… maybe just running out of space since the runepriest is last alphabetically 🙂

However, I’ve seen some great role playing and terrific combat descriptions of this class, which I think is one of the stronger leader classes in 4e.

The runepriest brings a combination of the power of the runic tradition (book learnin’) and the power of the warding or attack rune (combat). I think of this class as being most like the arcane classes in their ability to apply the written symbol to channeling a higher power.

And for melee, think of the the runes engraved in the head of a warhammer or the blade of a sword glowing with divine power as the priest hits his target, sending waves of radiant energy into the target as well as blasting it with the power of the weapon strike…

A good class that evokes great images when role playing… deserves more attention all around, including from WotC.

7 Rabbit is wise May 11, 2011 at 11:10 am

Agreed. Its important to remember that literally everything in a rulebook is a guideline as long as everyone at the table agrees. Its why D&D is the best game around

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