Thursday 28 March 2019

Cleric Rework - Fuck Spell-Slots Get Miracles

Clerics are weird. This is known.

They're basically just religious wizards with a thematic spell list and a heal-bot reputation. Most of the time they're there to heal and maybe occasionally use a more interesting spell like Command.
I've never been quite happy with them, but adding a bunch of spells per religious denomination helped a little.

This is taking it a step further. Fuck the spell list. Fuck spells per day. You're not a wizard, you're a warrior-priest! Let's get faithful!

(This is part one. Part two can be found here!)

Generic Cleric

A standard Cleric.
Should hopefully be easy to add/swap into whatever you're running with minimal fuss.

Core: HD, Saves, Experience per level, etc of a normal Cleric.

Lay on Hands: Heal the wounded by drawing points from your Healing Pool.
Each dawn, roll 1d6 per level + Wis Mod. This is your Healing Pool for the day.
As an action, you can draw points from the Healing Pool to heal as much HP to a touched target.

Faith: You cast Miracles through Faith.
Your Faith total will change as you cast Miracles and trigger Observances.
At dawn each day, roll 1d6 per level + Wis Mod. This is your starting Faith total for the day.

Miracles: All Cleric spells are called Miracles now.
Healing spells like the Cure family no longer heal HP, but can still be used to cure paralysis or mend broken bones or whatever else they can already do instead.
You can cast any Miracle that would have access to at your level (eg. a 5th level Cleric has access to 1st, 2nd and 3rd level Miracles).

Calling a Miracle: Calling forth a Miracle is a normal Action - the Miracle is cast instantaneously.
After you call forth a Miracle, roll 1d6 per spell level and attempt to roll equal to or less than your current Faith total.
  • Success: Your Faith total is set to either the result of the roll or your Cleric level, whichever is higher.
  • Failure: Your Faith total drops to zero, and you can no longer call forth Miracles until your Faith resets at dawn.
Observances: Each Observance is an act that will cause you to gain or lose Faith.
Observances can be triggered once each. When you make a successful Miracle roll, this resets so you can be affected by each Observance again.


So that's the Generic Cleric.
I've got special stuff for different religions (which is the stuff I'm most stoked about) but I cut it down to one standard Cleric to really show what I'm going for here:

- Retain status as the Healer class.
- Encourage use of non-Cure spells.
- Reward Clerics for following their religion.

Healbot Reputation

In my game to date, Clerics would often avoid using a more interesting spell because they didn't want to waste a potential Cure Light Wounds.
This was alleviated slightly by giving them a Denomination Spell, but not by much.

Honestly a Healer class is a solid niche, I can't fault it from a gameplay standpoint. It's just that sometimes it feels like that's all a Cleric is.
Plus there's the social impact - "wasting" your last spell of the day on Command or Detect Evil is sure to get you moaned at by the rest of the party when someone gets shanked in the lung.
So why not just make healing a separate ability to spellcasting?
Everyone gets heals, the Cleric gets to use cooler spells, it works!

Miracle Mechanic

This is the core of Cleric spellcasting now. Note that there's no possibility of failing to cast the Miracle - it always goes off regardless of the Faith roll.
This goes back a ways to the idea that Clerics are reliable.
There might be a possibility that this Miracle is your last one of the day, but there's no question whether you can cast it. This is also why it's a normal action instead of a full round of spellcasting - you can't be interrupted.

You may notice it's a little janky in regards to starting Faith (1d6/Cleric level) and rolling when you cast a Miracle (1d6/spell level). Yes, even if you have a million starting Faith, a single level 1 Miracle will set your new Faith total to 1-6.

This is because the "real" version is slightly different (coming sooooon....?).
But then, as is, this version of the Cleric is encouraged to start off the day using higher level spells (while they still have high Faith) and work their way down to the lesser spells as their Faith total declines.
You could justify this thematically though. You don't hear about Jesus throwing out a few Commands before he whips out a big Cure Disease or Create Food and Water.

Also a level 6 Cleric can cast infinite Level 1 Cleric spells, since minimum Faith on a successful roll is your Cleric level.
It sorta works - in my game the maximum level soft caps at around level 7, so why shouldn't a high level Cleric be allowed to throw around as many Commands and Detect Evils as they like?

Keep the Faith

Observances are the fun one, cribbed from the Dragon Worship rules which I cribbed originally from Perdition.
The intention is that a Cleric can cast a Miracle, get a new Faith total, then farm it back up with Observances in order to ensure they succeed at their next Miracle roll.
This means a Cleric who's careful with their Miracles and devout in their faith is unlikely to run out of spells per day.

On the other hand, if you spam Miracles you don't have a chance to build up more Faith in between times, so you'll likely run out sooner.
Worse, if you're a taboo-breaking Cleric who triggers the negative Observances, you'll lose Faith and likely run out of Miracles even sooner.

D&D has always had the much-maligned and debated Paladin falling mechanic, so this is a soft version of that. Plus it's codified so you can't get fucked over by a DM who pits Paladins against the trolley problem.

Less Generic Cleric

But James! I hear you cry. This is a bit shit! Those Observances only work for a generic psuedo-judeo-christian paladin-type Cleric! What if my deity is the God of the Woods? Or the Moon? Or the Turbo Dragon Jesus?

It's a simple fix my friend.
If you have any special Cleric spells per religion, add them into the Cleric's spell list.
Then simply change the Observances to fit the Cleric's deity - working with the player if you want to be nice and collaborative.

Here's my guideline for new Observances:

+1: Preaching.
+1: Specific healing
+1: An easy act that can be completed anywhere.
+1: A slightly less easy act that can be completed anywhere.
+1: A situational act you have to seek out.
+1: Visiting a devotional location.

-1: An easily avoided act.
-1: A harder to avoid act.
-1: Harming a follower of your own or a related religion.
-2: Inverse of theme - the opposite of what your deity is about

And some examples, which may make more sense with an ensuing post:

Cleric of POWERLAD

Drug Cult Cleric

Edgy Atheist Cleric
Further reading:Miracles, Holy War and You!

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Titan-Scale Mass Combat

I threw this together to adjudicate the End War - the final battle to save the world.
It went fucking great.
Since it was a one-off (for now...?) I was intending to paper over any weirdness with the rules on the fly, but it ended up working pretty good on its own!

The actual scenario is very my-campaign-specific, but maybe it'll be useful if you need a one-off EPIC BATTLE or as a starting point for better mass combat rules.


When I say Titan-Scale I mean Titan-Scale.
You're not ordering around individual units, you're dealing with entire armies clashing. I'm going for adjudicating a Lord of the Rings clash of thousands rather than a more cerebral tactical battle where you counter cavalry with pikes or whatever.
This means that combat is necessarily abstract.

There are Horde-Scale units. These are units of hundreds, if not thousands, of troops.
There are Titan-Scale units. These are the size of mountains, truly titanic, unassailable by even the mightiest hero.

Combat at the standard encounter scale is ineffectual and fruitless. If the PCs wish to impact the battle directly it will be in the realm of surgical strikes, diplomacy, or perhaps classic PC bullshit.

The Battlefield


The Battlefield is a hex grid. Each hex is as big as you need it to be.
Here's what I had:

In this case, the hexes are approx 2-3 miles across.


Each Turn is about 1 hour.
Titan-scale units lumber across the landscape, while the Horde-Scale units practically zip around underneath their feet.

The Basic System


A Horde's Power dictates the die they roll in combat. It's 1dX, where X is their Power.
eg. a Horde with Power 10 rolls 1d10 for combat, a Horde with Power 6 rolls 1d6.

Slow Hordes (eg. zombies) move 1 Hex per Turn.
Standard Hordes (eg. human armies) travel at 2 Hexes per Turn.
Fast Hordes (eg. winged dragon-cultists) can move 3 Hexes per Turn.

Horde on Horde Combat:
Each side rolls their combat die.
The Loser loses 2 Power, dropping down a die size.
The Loser may retreat a hex, if able.

Killing a Horde:
If a Horde is at 4 power (ie. uses a base d4 for combat) and loses a combat, they are destroyed.
Survivors may flee, if possible, as a useless noncombatant unit.

Horde on Titan Combat:
Hordes cannot harm Titans.
The best a Horde can expect to do against a Titan is to slow it down so that their Titan can get involved.
Some Hordes might have a special ability that allows them to harm a Titan-Scale Entity.
(eg. in my End War, the Tentacle Cult could summon forth a titan-scale Tendril if left unmolested)

Technically Wun Wun is Horde-Scale, despite being fairly big


Titan-Scale damage uses Hit Locations.
Each Hit Location can be Unhurt, Hurt, or Maimed.

Here are some example hit locations for an Apocalypse Dragon, the walking city Battlefortress Fate, a big Prime Tentacle surrounded by 3 Sub-Tentacles, and an extremely huge humanoid.
If a Hit Location is Hurt it can't be used to attack. If a Hit Location is Maimed it has been mauled to pieces and cannot be used at all.
It's up to you to adjudicate what this means.

Titan-Scale units all move at one hex per Turn.

Titan on Titan Combat:
Each Titan automatically hits and hurts the other - roll for a hit location to see what each hit.
If the Hit Location is Unhurt it becomes Hurt.
If it's Hurt it becomes Maimed.
If it's already Maimed, damage another Hit Location - attacking Titan controller's choice.

Killing a Titan:
Usually impossible, but you can Maim it enough that it's useless.
In my End War, there were enormous horse-sized Rot Grubs that would fuck up a wounded Titan. Luckily this never happened to the players' Titans!

Titan on Horde Combat:
The Titan wins automatically and takes no damage in the fighting.
The Horde loses 2 Power and may retreat if they wish.

Titan-Scale combat for sure

The Turn Order

Each Turn is an hour.
Each Turn goes like this:
  1. PCs Give Orders
  2. Horde Movement
  3. Titan Movement
  4. Horde Combat
  5. Titan Combat
  6. PCs Do Stuff
1. PCs Give Orders
Write down what the PCs want the entities under their control to do.
You can't really change your orders once they're given on this scale.

2. Horde Movement
Horde-Scale Entities move according to their Speed.
If there's any question of who goes first, fastest choose.

3. Titan Movement
Titan-Scale entities move.
If there's any question of who goes first, choose what's coolest.

4. Horde Combat
If two enemy Hordes are in the same hex, they fight!
Follow the Horde-Scale rules above.

5. Titan Combat
If a Titan is fighting a Titan, or has a Horde attacking them, they fight!
Follow the Titan-Scale rules above.

6. PCs Do Stuff
After everything's moved and rolled for and all the rest, it's the PCs turn to take independent action if they wish.
We had things like "fly to a dead city to try to raise an army of survivors", "dive into the Tentacult to destroy their leader" and "chug a bunch of wizard drugs and cast a Titan-scale Force of Forbidment".
It was good shit!

The End War

You can check out my original sheet for the End War here.

The goal was simple.
Kill Shub-Niggurath.

The PCs had, over the course of the apocalypse, united pretty much every other apocalyptic threat against this one true enemy.
They controlled the Apocalypse Dragon Ninhursag - the Earth Dragon - and had equipped it with the most virulent poison known to man. Any living organic matter that was touched by this noxious Omnipoison would be catalysed into more of the toxic gas.
If Shub-Niggurath was successful it would undergo planetary lysis, cracking the world like an egg and spreading itself far across the cosmos.

The plan:
1. Get Ninhursag to the largest closest tendril of Shub-Niggurath - the Prime Tentacle.
2. Blow a hole in the Prime Tentacle.
3. Send Ninhursag plunging down the hollow inside of the Prime Tentacle until it reaches the centre of the planet, then unleash the Omnipoison into Shub-Niggurath's frothing core.

My intention for the push-pull of this battle was it to go something like this:
- Titans get into battle.
- When a Titan is wounded, they are vulnerable to the Parasite Grub Hordes that want to dive into the wounds and eat them.
- Wounded Titans need to be protected from the Parasite Grubs by their Hordes.

Instead we also got some of the most metal shit that's ever happened in the campaign, including a PC becoming a Titan-Scale monster and throwing a fucking Apocalypse Dragon at the Moon.
It was rad as hell!

Titan-Scale Foes

The Prime Tentacle
- Immobile.
- Surrounded by 3 malformed ancillary tentacles which can also attack.
- Regenerates each Turn: Maimed > Hurt > Unhurt.

Apocalypse Dragon Ereshkigal
- Unknown agenda.
- Airborne, but wings are Maimed.
- Gravity well will, if not stopped, pull down the moon.

The Black Sun Ultrademon
- Coming in from the north, Black Sun between its horns.
- Trailed by a wave of impenetrable darkness.
- Surprise! It comes in peace. Wants to rescue its constituent demons by entering Fortress-City Fate and turning into obols.

Horde-Scale Foes

Power 6. Speed 2.
- Protect the Prime Tentacle.
- Can summon a Titan-Scale tendril to damage Titans.
- Won't summon tendril if they're in battle with an enemy Horde.

Ereshkigal Drakencultists
Power 10. Speed 3.
- Defend their dragon at all costs.
- Can open Space Warp between two points anywhere on the battlefield.
- No clear agenda

Power 6. Speed 1.
- 1d4 hordes spawn per Turn near random Titan.
- Spawn new 6 Power Horde in front of them if they win a battle. Insta-killed by Titan damage.
- If a Horde get to a Titan with a Maimed and undefended Hit Location - drill in, hitting another Hit Location (internally...) every Turn.

Titan-Scale Allies

Apocalypse Dragon Ninhursag
- Armoured in bone: each hit location starts off with armour that resists one hit.
- Carrying the Omnipoison around its neck.
- Obeys the mental commands of POWERLAD

Bone Dragon
- Currently Ninhursag's armour, could potentially become own entity again.
- Head contains Ossuary of All Bones, allowing control of all Undead. Could be damaged.
- Controlled by Galaxy RJ

Fortress-City Fate
- Walking City. No Titan-Scale melee capability.
- Every round choose: Fire Macrocannon to deal ranged Titan-Scale damage or raise Shields to resist one incoming Titan-Scale hit.
- Controlled by Styx

Orbital God
- Ranged Titan-Scale attack - can strike with impunity from above with god-beams.
- Distracted by urgent matters across the globe.
- Will listen to Styx and/or POWERLAD.

Horde-Scale Allies

Ninhursag Drakencult
Power 8. Speed 3.
- Defend Ninhursag at all costs.
- Overgrowth reduces speed of foes within 1 Hex.

The Dead
Power 8. Speed 1.
- Defend Ninhursag at all costs.
- Gain +2 Power if they defeat a Horde with bones.
- Obey Galaxy RJ

The Army of Fate
Power 6. Speed 3.
- Mounted on Guber-brand hovercrafts
- Good at hit and run - bonus +2 to power if they didn't attack last Turn.
- Obey Styx

Power 8. Speed 2.
- Can be deployed at Styx's request.
- Can freeze a combat they're in - stalling it for one Turn.
- Obey Styx, via the Orbital God

my clearly v cool notes while i was working on this