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Divine rank refers to a D&D rule which measures the relative power of deities. The term was not defined until D&D 3rd edition's Deities and Demigods, but the exact rule varies betweens editions of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Publication history[]

Original D&D[]

Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976) did not rank the relative power of deities.

Basic D&D[]

The Dungeons & Dragons product line which ran coterminous with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons avoided direct reference to deities, but instead made several references to immortals, beings sometimes worshiped as gods. The Immortals Rules (BECMI) (1986) detailed a ranking system for immortals, starting at Initiate and ranging through five six-level groups called Temporal, Celestial, Empyreal, Eternal, and Hierarch.

AD&D 1st edition[]

Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980) and Legends & Lore (1e) (1984) divided all deities into three ranks:

  • Greater god: Treated as 25th level for the purpose of magic resistance and psionic power. Can command (no save) for 3 rounds. Can grant 7th level and higher spells to clerics. Examples of greater gods include Thor, Pelor, and Lathander.
  • Lesser god: Treated as 20th level for the purpose of magic resistance and psionic power. Can command (no save) for 2 rounds. Can only grant spells up to 6th level to their clerics. Examples include Thor's son Magni, Hextor, and Bhaal.
  • Demigod: Treated as 15th level for the purpose of magic resistance and psionic power. Can command (no save) for normal duration. Can only grant spells up to 5th level to their clerics. Examples include Heracles, Zuoken, Azuth, and the divine servants of deities.

To avoid offending religious groups during the Satanic panic, some later AD&D sourcebooks used the alternative terms greater power, lesser power, and demipower.

The term "divine rank" was not yet used in this edition of D&D.

AD&D 2nd edition[]

Legends & Lore (2e) (1990) introduced two new categories: intermediate deities, who are between greater and lesser; and heroes, who are weaker than demigods.

  • Greater gods: Can transform themselves into anything, resist mortal magic 100%, automatically pass all saving throws, travel between planes at will, create anything they can think of, slay or revive any mortal with a thought, communicate to any being in any world, teleport across planes, perform unlimited numbers of actions, and deploy up to ten avatars at once. They are omniscient.
  • Intermediate gods: Almost as strong as a greater god, but not quite. They can only transform into normal-sized creatures, resist 95% of mortal magic, pass saving throws except on a roll of natural 1, are only omniscient to a range of 100 miles from themselves or a worshiper of their pantheon, can only create duplicates of items they hold, can only perform 100 actions at once, and can only have five avatars.
  • Lesser gods: Can only turn into average creatures, resist 90% of mortal magic, fail saving throws only on a roll of 1 or 2, sense up to 10 miles, cannot create objects but can find one, can raise any mortal from the dead, can only communicate with followers by an avatar in a person (and can only have 2 avatars at a time, and they take 1 month to create), and can perform five tasks at once.
  • Demigods: Weaker again than lesser gods, demigods are 70% resistant to mortal magic, pass saves except on a 1-3, can only sense out to one mile of themselves or their worshipers, can only have one avatar at a time, and takes a full year to recreate their avatar if destroyed. This category generally includes ascended mortals.
  • Heroes: Beings who are not deities and have no divine power, but are connected to a pantheon of gods. They have maximum hit points for their hit dice, have no multiclassing limitations, and tend to have high stats, but no other abilities. Examples include Frey's shield-man Skirnir.

Additionally, all deities of demigod rank or higher are immortal, can only be slain by a god of higher rank, automatically gain initiative vs mortals, can teleport at will, can understand all and speak any language, and can cast any spell of any level. However, they cannot enter the Prime Material Plane due to the great focus of divine attention that plane receives.

In this edition, only extremely powerful deities qualify for "greater god" status. For example, Odin is a greater god, but Thor is now only an intermediate god.

D&D 3rd edition[]

Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), p.25 officially introduced the term divine rank. In addition to the designations established in AD&D 2nd edition, levels deities are now given a numeric level which allows for finer differentiation in power between deities.

  • Rank 21+: An overdeity. An obscure being who does not grant spells or require worship as a normal deity, but primarily exists to moderate pantheons. Deities and Demigods does not actually define any deities of that rank, and it is almost never used in D&D; a rare example is Ao of the Forgotten Realms.
  • Rank 16-20: A greater deity. These tend to have millions of worshipers. The head of a pantheon is usually a greater deity, as are its most popular members. They count as if they already rolled a natural 20, and automatically maximize all rolls. They can change traits like gravity and magic within a plane.
  • Rank 11-15: An intermediate deity. They have hundreds of thousands of worshipers. They always get a natural 20 on any check. They can raise buildings and change terrain at will within ten miles.
  • Rank 6-10: A lesser deity. They have thousands of worshipers. Deities of this rank and above cannot be magically imprisoned or banished. They may take 10 on any check.
  • Rank 1-5: A demigod. May have a few hundred or a few thousand devoted worshipers. Deities of this rank or above are immune to electricity, cold, acid, disease, poison, stunning, sleep, death effects, and disintegration, and do not automatically fail on a roll of natural 1. Deities of this rank or above also have numerous other minor abilities, including their own godly realm, the ability to communicate with anyone, and the ability grant spells to worshipers and to cast any spell they can grant.
  • Rank 0: A quasi-deity or hero-deity. An immortal being who receives maximum hit points per hit dice, but may not grant spells to clerics. They include the offspring of deities and mortals, and humans who ascended to entry-level divine status, such as Kyuss).
  • No divine rank: A mortal; a creature with no divine ranks at all.

Deities also gain a large number of abilities as detailed in Deities and Demigods (3e) (2002), and the numeric divine rank is often used to adjudicate conflicts between deities. For example, the Norse deity Skadi (rank 6) can never sneak up on Sif (rank 10), because Sif has both the Battlesense ability and higher divine rank.

A cleric's maximum spell level is no longer limited by their deity's rank. This means that a 17th level cleric of a rank 1 deity can still receive 9th level spells as normal.

D&D 4th edition[]

The deities of the Player's Handbook (4e) (2008) are not ranked by relative power.

D&D 5th edition[]

D&D 5th editions's rules on divine rank appear in a sidebar on Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014), p.11. They are simplified from the D&D 3rd edition rules, and no longer use the "intermediate" rank or numeric ranking.

  • Greater deities: Beings beyond mortal understanding. They may manifest an avatar, but destroying the avatar does not harm the deity.
  • Lesser deities: Deities who have a physical form located on some plane, which can be slain. They may also manifest avatars. Tiamat, goddess of evil dragons, may be such a deity; she is a challenge rating 30 being, and if slain, her essence reforms on her own plane.[1]
  • Quasi-deities: A category of weaker divine beings who don't grant spells to mortal clerics, but could advance to lesser deity if they had enough worshipers. This category is divided into three main subcategories:
    • Titans: The offspring or creations of deities. Titans include the CR23 empyrean, the CR23 kraken, and the CR30 tarrasque.[2]
    • Demigods: The weakest of quasi-deities, the offspring of a deity and a mortal.
    • Vestiges: A dead deity who has lost all or nearly all of their worshipers.

A deity can hold a separate divine rank on different worlds, depending on their popularity within each world.

The rank of intermediate deity, introduced in AD&D 2nd edition, no longer exists in D&D 5th edition. This poses a challenge for DMs converting deities from earlier sourcebooks.


  1. The Rise of Tiamat (2014), p.92.
  2. Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.130,197,287.