All of the deities have followers. Some of these followers are granted special abilities and referred to generically as Clerics, although some gods bestow other titles. For instance, Obad-Hai, the true neutral God of Nature has religious followers called Druids.
Some of these clerics have stood out above all the rest and have been elevated to the status of religious Champions for their particular deity. The lawful good gods give their Champions the title of Paladin. Chaotic good deities have Crusaders. Obad-Hai’s Druids are overseen by Forestals. There are many different names and each is very different from the next.
Becoming a Champion
A character cannot choose to become a Champion in the traditional way that one becomes a Fighter or a Rogue. Champions are first and foremost Clerics. The character may train in other classes as well, but training as a Cleric must always exceed training in any other class. It is usually necessary to have a high Wisdom, Strength, and Charisma. Most deities also require training as a Fighter but at least one deity, Boccob, differs in this requiring Champions to be trained as Wizards instead of Fighters. Specific requirements vary greatly and are listed in detail by deity.
After meeting the requirements, the character must go to her church and petition to be chosen as a Crusader. Although this is not a class, the character does receive certain benefits from becoming a Crusader.
Benefits of Becoming a Champion
Each deity bestows different abilities to their Champions as well as charging them with different missions and goals. Champions generally receive special abilities that make them effective leaders in combat. These special abilities vary by deity but may take the form of unique feats or powers, enhanced attacks or defenses, protective or curative spells, or any of a number of other special abilities.
As stated earlier, all deities have religious Champions. That includes the evil deities as well. Two of these deserve special note. One of the lawful evil deities has Champions called Vampire Lords. One of the chaotic evil deities has Champions that are given the title of Werewolf Lord. These two deities are endlessly at war, with their Champions leading the crusade to destroy the other. Although both types of Champions are usually focused on their continuous battle against the other, they occasionally break off to create recruits and spread their evil.
Vampire Lords and Werewolf Lords each have the ability to infect their victims, turning them into Vampires and Werewolves, respectively, with such overwhelming desire to feast on their own brethren that none can withstand these desires for long. These creatures, like the Champions that created them, can then infect others as well. Unlike other curses or diseases, vampirism and lycanthropy cannot be cured, healed or even wished away. Once infected, the creature that infected the individual must be destroyed to break the curse. However, that will only work if the victim has not yet succumbed. Once the victim has given in to its new nature, only the destruction of the Vampire Lord or Werewolf Lord, at the head of their monstrous lineage, can free them. Even that will only work for a relatively short time after the victim was initially infected.