[RPG] Can a D&D god lie to his cleric?


In short, my characters are in a position where they're interacting with aspects of the gods in a mysterious underworld that they have to puzzle their way out of.

Of course, things would be easy if they could just ask the gods for guidance and get a clear answer, and one of the characters is a decently high-level cleric of the chief deity. But I don't want the gods to give them easy answers. In fact, the gods want the heroes to stay here, not to leave.

So is it possible for a god to directly lie to their clerics to further their own cause? Can these aspects of the deities give knowingly bad information to the PCs in furtherance of the story?

Of course, Rule Zero is that if the DM says it, it's true; but I'm concerned about the effect of lying gods on other aspects of the setting. If the gods can lie, can clerics trust the answers of their augury spells or divine guidance spells?

This is in a homemade world, so I can make up the rules, of course; in general, though, it seems like a step that needs to be carefully considered.

Best Answer

Yes, but...

Yes, the Gods can lie to their clerics. In fact, there are spells (e.g. Contact other Plane) that can force a deity to lie to you, with the nature of the lie shaped by the personality and goals of the deity in question. This can lead to circumstances where the deity really wants to tell the truth but has to lie and so might do something like tell the exact opposite of the truth and give indication that the statement is a lie, or contact the Cleric after the spell to correct the misunderstanding, or whatever else as befits the deity's M.O.

However, lying when not compelled to is sort of against the code of conduct for a lot of the sorts of deities that a PC Cleric is likely to follow. I don't know if you are using the default deities or have created your own, but, as an example, if you have Heironious or St. Cuthbert lie to a high-level Cleric of theirs out of convenience that would be really out of character. You should consider having the deity just explain what's up to the character instead. "Yes, I know the answer, but I want you to stay here and not figure it out, so if you could go do that, that'd be great, k thx bye". Or whatever it is that the deity wants the Cleric to do. Clerics are on the same team as their deity, often, and so the deity lying to them would in many cases be really weird and also disrespectful. You shouldn't have the God lie in those cases just because it makes things easier for you; you should figure out another solution to your problem.

Furthermore, all of this has nothing to do with the reliability of a player's Augury or Divination spells, which have their own failure cases (each involves a d100 roll) and do not allow for the deity to twist the result of a caster's answer just on a whim. A deity could deceive a player using such spells regardless, perhaps using Modify Memory or the Delude and Conceal Epic Spellcasting Seeds, but doing so would require active intervention and would be equally possible for any other character with the relevant abilities.