Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Cleric

I've tried to write this post several times, and I've learned that I am unable to complete it unless I limit the scope to the smallest possible range.

So here is a cleric (for use with the GLOG).

by Justin Sweet
Clerics vs Wizards

Clerics are basically like wizards, except . . .

1. Clerics don't choose their spells, their deity does.
2. On the upside, Clerics don't suffer from magical corruption or catastrophes (from rolling doubles or triples).
3. On the downside, Cleric spells are unreliable, since the (always fickle) deity may not choose to grant the spell at the moment it is requested.

Faith Dice

Faith Dice (FD) are just Magic Dice (MD) that have a variable size.  They are otherwise interchangable (and a multiclassed wizard/cleric can use them interchangeably).  They default to a d8.

When a wizard casts a spell, they choose how many MD to invest.  Each MD contributes to the final spell, and after rolling, the following chart is consulted.

  • 1-3   MD is returned to the mana pool.
  • 4-6   MD is depleted, and will return to the mana pool tomorrow morning.

Clerics work the same way, with one additional wrinkle:

  • 7+   MD is not depleted.  The dice roll does not contribute to the spell.  (A fizzle.)

Since clerics are usually using a d8 as their casting die, it will not be uncommon for their spells to fizzle (if all the dice fizzle) or be underpowered (if only a fraction of the casting dice fizzle).

Faith dice improve (shrink) or worsen (enlarge) according to the clerics behavior. 

If a cleric doesn't follow the strictures of their religion, the dice increase in size until the cleric atones.

If a cleric atones at a church (confesses, pays a hefty tithe), their dice are reset to a d8.  Note that the cleric must genuinely repent of their behavior (but the player doesn't necessarily have to).

If a cleric receives a special blessing from the Pope or the Prophetessa (May She Live Again), the FD will be improved to d6s until expended.  Likewise, if you are in a situation that is very obviously in favor of your deity (e.g. fighting a Satan, trying to save an innocent child) then your FD are also temporarily improved to d6s.

Here's the progression.

d6 (temporary) <> d8 <> d10 <> d12 <> d20 <> d100 <> Apostasy

If you reach Apostasy, you can either choose to abandon the Cleric class entirely, or become a Heretic and regain your powers (along with the enmity of nearly every civilized person).  Heretics are required to expound on the nature of their heresy, both in the game and outside of it.  Heretics who defeat the Church (whatever that means) will be vindicated and their heresy will become incoporated into the orthodoxy of the Church.

by Justin Sweet

The Cleric Class

Based on the Wizard class.

Cleric A
Guardian Angel
God's Plan

Cleric B

Cleric C

Cleric D

Cleric Teams
The Reach of Heaven
Guardian Angel Pool


Guardian Angel

This is not an ability that the cleric gets.  It's an ability that the cleric's party gets.

The entire party gets an FD of their very own, of the same size and type as the clerics.  Anyone (including the cleric) can use this FD to cast a spell, but it cannot be combined with any other MD.

By default, this FD can only be used to cast heal.  The caster must follow the same god as the cleric.

Yes, this means that the party's rogue can heal the dying fighter by praying over her.

Yes, this rule was partially developed to remove clerics from the time-consuming role of healbot, without straying too far from the archetype.

Yes, this means that a level 1 cleric effectively shows up with 2 FD, while the level 1 wizard only shows up with a single MD.

Guardian Angel spells are tracked on the Party Sheet.

God's Plan
A cleric doesn't choose their spells, their deity does.  The DM should pick spells for the player based on what is most likely to be useful that day.  (DM, feel free to use these spell choices as omens, e.g. protection from fire might forecast the possibility of a dragon encounter.)

A player can negotiate this ability with an animal sacrifice (a cow, at least) and an hour-long ritual.  They can ask to choose all of their spells, half of their spells, etc.

A cleric can identify a magic item by praying over it in a church.  This is similar to a wizard's Identify ability, except that it is 100% reliable, but it requires a church.

Each ceremony takes 2 hours.

Union – Two people are bonded. If your partner would take physical damage while you are beside them, you can choose to take half of it. If one dies, the other loses 500XP.
Funeral – The dead are honored. Everyone gains XP equal to 50% of the deceased's total XP. (So if a PC with 3000 XP died, each of the three surviving PCs will get +500 XP at the end of the session.) This transfer only works from player characters, to player characters.
Sermon – You can implant a suggestion in all Neutral and Friendly attendees.  Make a single roll for each (roughly) homogenous group/demographic.  You still need to get people to sit through a 2 hour sermon, and most people are not well-disposed towards religions other than their own.


You ask a question of your deity, which is then answered through a vision or a dream.  (For Hesayan clerics, this takes the form of a sleep-like trance while watching clouds.)

First, choose what level of divinity you wish to ask.

Level 1 - A Saint or Holy Emperor
Level 2 - One of the Lesser Gods
Level 3 - Zulin, the Prince of the Upper Air
Level 4 - The Authority (this is forbidden to all non-kings)

Roll 1d6 for every level of the divinity.  Every result of 1-3 is a success.  Each success improves the quality of your divination.

Roll 1d6 for every level of the divinity.  Every result of 1-3 is a failure.  Each failure beyond the first causes your FD to degrade one step.  Your FD will never degrade if you are performing the divinations in a clear service to the Church.

You cannot ask the same question twice.  You cannot even ask related questions, either.  Aside from that, feel free to do all the divination you wish.

Here are some examples of visions produced by different levels of success.  The player doesn't know the level of success, merely the result.

In response to the question of "Where is the crown of Hesperornithes located?"

0 Successes
Pure nonsense.
Ex: You dream that are are sitting in a village square, surrounded by your family. You are digging a hole, but it keeps filling up with milk. Serpents come and drink the milk.
1 Success
Moderately useful omen that is difficult to interpret.
Ex: You are sailing on a ship to your destination. The captain is a burning torch. The navigator is a blind rooster. For your crimes, you are about to be imprisoned in a barrel of sponges. (This dream communicates the idea that it might be on an island, at least. The rooster is a very oblique reference to eggs.)
2 Successes
Very useful omen that is somewhat difficult to interpret.
Ex: A faceless king pulls eggs out of a dog's mouth, shows them to you, then crushes each one underfoot. Brine and fish dribble from his mouth. He screams like a seagull.  (This dream communicates that an ocean journey might be involved, and shows broken eggs.)
3+ Successes
Extremely useful omen that is easy to interpret.
Ex: You turn into a bird, fly across accurate geography, mate with Zulin, build a nest atop a castle on the Isle of Broken Eggs, and a tiny prince hatches from your egg, singing a righteous song. (You can't really get any more clear than this.)

Yes/No questions are generally easier to interpret, since you only have to know if the vision was a positive or negative one.

If you are bad at coming up with random crap for visions, the you can just roll a d100 on the House of Hours.


Miracles are powerful, world-changing events. You can ask for almost anything, as long as it is:
  • related to your deity's portfolio
  • doesn't go against your deity's interests
When you first get this ability, your Miracle score is set to 3. Your Miracle score improves by 1 point whenever you finish a session or gain a level.
You can attempt a miracle once per session. To attempt a Miracle, describe to the DM what you are praying for, and then roll a d20. If the result is equal-or-less than your Miracle points, the Miracle occurs and your Miracle score is reset to 0.
At your DM's discretion, you may also gain Miracle points for performing great deeds in the service of the Church.
Clerics do not gain this ability until they perform some major ceremony in a central place of worship, such as leading a town's Harvest Ritual. (Ask your DM.)

Cleric Teams

I really want to make mono-class parties more viable, because they're awesome.  So here are a couple of advantages that you get by having multiple clerics in the party.

Heaven's Reach

Clerics can ignore range restrictions when casting spells on each other.

Guardian Angel Pool

The FP granted by the Guardian Angel ability are now pooled together with each other.  It is possible to cast a Guardian Angel spell with multiple FP.  Additionally, the Guardian Angel knows at least one different spell for each cleric that contributes to it.  For example, if a three-cleric party would know than just heal.  They would have access to heal, cure poison, and feather fall.

by Justin Sweet
Coming Soon

- A PDF of actual clerics, including a couple of non-Church clerics.

- Rules for removing clerics from your game entirely, and replacing them with a single Guardian Angel that the entire party shares.  (Partially because I don't find clerics that appealing, partially because PCs in pseudo-medieval settings should probably be more religious.)


  1. I find the concept of the DM picking the Cleric's spells *really* interesting. There's a lot of fun a responsible DM can have with this feature, particularly the weirder the religion.

    Also, I considerably approve of having clerics play a big part in character death via funerals. 's'important stuff, underutilized in a lot of games.

    1. Yeah but picking them *every day*? No one is going to remember to do that.

  2. Dang it, now I'm going to have to rewrite my Prophet class, again. You've exceeded my every expectation, Mr. Arnold. Well done.

  3. Getting clerics right (with god) seems to be in the air! I especially dig distributing cleric healing around to the party and actual benefits from multiple clerics in the same party -- esp. the continued foregrounding of the party as the unit of D&D.

    You don't specify, but Heaven's Reach only for clerics of the same faith?

    1. Heaven's reach for all compatible clerics. I leave the definition of "compatible" to whatever the DM and the campaign see as appropriate. There might be a campaign where a cleric of Zala Vacha and a Church witch hunter work together, even if I can't think of one now.

    2. Cool. In my game, I don't even ask clerics to fully declare for a specific god until they are powerful enough to really get noticed. They open themselves as channels for whatever they can get! Hard to quibble with the source when you need silence *now*.

  4. In the divination section, is 4-6 meant to be the failure range?

  5. Picking spells for a character daily is a chore for the DM, I don't think that's a workable mechanic