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This spell removes the burden of misdeeds from the subject. The creature seeking atonement must be truly repentant and desirous of setting right its misdeeds. If the atoning creature committed the evil act unwittingly or under some form of compulsion, atonement operates normally at no cost to you. However, in the case of a creature atoning for deliberate misdeeds, you must intercede with your deity (requiring you to expend 2,500 gp in rare incense and offerings). Atonement may be cast for one of several purposes, depending on the version selected.
Reverse Magical Alignment Change: If a creature has had its alignment magically changed, atonement returns its alignment to its original status at no additional cost.
Restore Class: A paladin, or other class, who has lost her class features due to violating the alignment restrictions of her class may have her class features restored by this spell.
Restore Cleric or Druid Spell Powers: A cleric or druid who has lost the ability to cast spells by incurring the anger of her deity may regain that ability by seeking atonement from another cleric of the same deity or another druid. If the transgression was intentional, the casting cleric must expend 2,500 gp in rare incense and offerings for her god's intercession.
Redemption or Temptation: You may cast this spell upon a creature of an opposing alignment in order to offer it a chance to change its alignment to match yours. The prospective subject must be present for the entire casting process. Upon completion of the spell, the subject freely chooses whether it retains its original alignment or acquiesces to your offer and changes to your alignment. No duress, compulsion, or magical influence can force the subject to take advantage of the opportunity offered if it is unwilling to abandon its old alignment. This use of the spell does not work on outsiders or any creature incapable of changing its alignment naturally.
Though the spell description refers to evil acts, atonement can be used on any creature that has performed acts against its alignment, regardless of the actual alignment in question.
Note: Normally, changing alignment is up to the player. This use of atonement offers a method for a character to change his or her alignment drastically, suddenly, and definitively.