The painbearer was a specialty priest of Ilmater, the Crying God.[1][2] [note 1]


Specialty priests of Ilmater were simply called "clerics", like other clerics, around 1358 DR.[1] The name "painbearer" was in use by 1369 DR, by which time they had gained additional powers.[2]

By 1479 DR, however, all priests of Ilmater were called "painbearers".[3]


As specialty priests, painbearers were naturally included among the ranks of the Adorned, the clergy of the church of Ilmater.[2]


Painbearers were naturally required to be quite hardy, in addition to being wise.[1][2] Later, they also needed skill in healing and to be of a lawful good disposition.[2]


Some painbearers trained at the Convent of St. Rhynda in Tethyr around 1370 DR.[4]


Painbearers learned to wield bludgeoning weapons as well as the scourge. However, they did not wear armor.[1][2]


Painbearers learned techniques and gained greater endurance to help them undergo hardships, weather suffering and to resist pain. A painbearer could also go without food and water for several weeks, and though weakened, they would not die of starvation or thirst during this time. However, the painbearer was still afflicted by hunger pangs and thirstiness, which they simply had to endure as a matter of course for their faith.[1][2]

Later painbearers also learned the arts of herbalism and knowledge about the religions of Faerûn. They could brew potions with healing effects earlier than other clerics, beginning with the potion of healing.[2]

With a touch, a painbearer could remove magics that negatively affected the emotions of others to cause pain, suffering, despair, or fear (as per the spell remove fear). This worked on two other people a day,[1][2] and later the painbearer could also perform it on themselves once a day.[2]

As divine spellcasters, painbearers could gain major access to the spheres of All, Charm, Creation, Guardian, Healing, Necromantic, and Protection,[1][2] with Law and Travelers following later.[2] They could also gain minor access to the spheres of Combat, Elemental, Summoning, Sun, and Weather,[1][2] with Wards added later.[2]

As they advanced, later painbearers learned to cast a number of spells outside their normal spellcasting: draw upon holy might, favor of Ilmater, endurance of Ilmater, and commune with Ilmater.[2]

The highest painbearers could, when enduring great suffering, torture, or extreme punishment, beg a good servant to Ilmater to aid them. This servant possessed the painbearer and took on all the pain they suffered, though none of the injury, for the duration of the ordeal. The servant was also unable to move the painbearer's body.[1][2]

Early painbearers could not turn or command undead creatures.[1]

Notable PainbearersEdit

Some known painbearers were: [note 2]



  1. After initially being presented as an unnamed specialty priest for 2nd edition in Forgotten Realms Adventures, this class was named "painbearer" and gained a number of powers when it reappeared in Faiths & Avatars. The name was reused in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide for 4th edition, but applied to all clerics of Ilmater. Therefore, this article focuses on the 2nd edition information for the painbearer.
  2. All these known painbearer characters have "Painbearer" as a title, suggesting that all painbearers adopt this as a title, or that the Painbearer title is distinct from the painbearer class, i.e., a regular cleric may be titled "Painbearer".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 21. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Julia Martin, Eric L. Boyd (March 1996). Faiths & Avatars. (TSR, Inc), pp. 76, 77. ISBN 978-0786903849.
  3. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  4. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 78. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  5. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  6. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 39. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  7. Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 176. ISBN 978-0786912377.