Sunday, 21 April 2019

Cleric Rework - Miracles, Holy War, and You

We killed the spell slots.
Time to kill the spells!

Main Deal

The core of this Cleric class is fundamentally the same as the Generic Cleric from the previous post.
The main change is the removal of the standard Cleric Spell List in favour of three unique Miracles by Religion.
Replacing the whole Cleric spell list with a smaller group of unique Miracles means they can be powerful and thematic.
A minor addition is the Sect Bonus - allowing any character class (including the Cleric) to gain a benefit from their Religion.

Also conveniently it's Easter Sunday today. I didn't intend to time it like this, but it's good timing for Cleric mechanics!

Core Cleric

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.

Religions: You belong to one of several different religious sects. Each Religion has a unique set of Miracles that you can cast, Observances to follow, and a relationship with other faiths.
See Religions below.

Faith: You cast Miracles through Faith.
Your Faith total will change as you cast Miracles and trigger Observances.
At dawn each day, roll 2d6 + level + Wis Mod. This is your starting Faith total for the day.

Miracles: Each Religion has 3 unique Miracles.
Calling forth a Miracle is a normal Action - the Miracle is cast instantaneously.
After you call forth a Miracle, 2d6 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. After you call forth a Miracle, this resets so you can be affected by each Observance again.

Lead Prayer: As a true Cleric, your passion and truth outshine petty sectarian divides.
When you deliver a Sermon everyone in the congregation unlocks their Sect Bonus, no matter their faith.


There are many Religions.
They slot into the core Cleric to basically create a bunch of sub-classes.
If you don't want to choose an established Religion, you can work with the DM to create your own.

Each Religion comes with three unique Miracles.
Each Religion comes with a set of unique Observances.
Each Religion grants a unique Sect Bonus.

Miracles are the equivalent of Cleric spells.
Observances make you gain or lose Faith.
Sect Bonus is a permanent perk - explained later to keep this tight.

Here are some examples from my game so you see what I'm on about.
We recently went post-apocalyptic so they're all apocalypse cults.

Hyperchurch of Powerlad

What's their deal?
Lightning, Hammers and Heroism - live up to POWERLAD's example.

  • Sacrifice: Sacrifice your HP to grant it to someone within 50’.
    Plasma-globe lightning connects you, dealing the same amount of Lightning damage to creatures in between (they get a Save vs Blast to avoid).
  • Storm Hammer: You grow huge and buff (+4 Strength Mod). Lightning crackles as a great weapon - the God-Hammer - appears in your hands.
    It deals 1d10 Lightning damage (1d12 with Sect Bonus) and lasts 1 round/level.
  • Storm Shell: Create an electrical barrier against weather effects and airborne particulates. Crossing the barrier deals 1d6 Lightning damage. Lasts 10 minutes/level or until you dispel it.


Sect Bonus:
Hammerfall: Hammers you wield deal +2 against all armour types and boost damage die by one size.


What's their deal?
Survive and repopulate the post-apocalyptic world.

  • Abjure Poison: Grant touched target immunity to poisons, toxins, and drugs - even Omnipoison.
    Lasts 1 Turn/level.
  • Forecast: Gain divine knowledge of the current weather systems. See Weather Chart and where the weather is right now. If you wish, also trigger an immediate weather change.
    *This one will make more sense when I've tested my Hexcrawl rules better. Based on this.
  • Enhance Vigour: Prepare a person for the great work of repopulation!
    Touched target is cured of all Disease and become extremely virile/fertile until the next dawn.


Sect Bonus:
Endurance: -1 Encumbrance level, minimum zero. Always run at unencumbered speed during a Chase.


What's their deal?
Fuck Gods. Burn Heaven. Why worship beings who couldn't stop the end of the world?

  • Silence of God: Reduce target Cleric’s Faith to zero. 50’ range.
  • Abjure Religion: Grant immunity to Lawful magic to everyone within 50’. Lasts 1 round/level.
  • Debate Me!: You and a target within 50' are transported to a pale infinite plane of Law. You are a blinding white soul, they are white, grey or black depending on Alignment.
    You understand each other's needs and drives and if you speak the same language you can communicate.
    You can try to change their mind or compel an action, and if you do so they get a Save vs Law to resist.
    When you return to the world you have only been gone a brief moment.


Sect Bonus:
Shatter Faith: +4 to Saves vs Law. At will, cancel the Sect Bonus of everyone within 20’ - even your own and other Faithless.

Yes, there is a "no religion" religion. Is "no religion" a type of religion? Is bald a type of hairstyle? Who can say but God himself?

Tolerance and Apostasy

Different religions have different stances towards each other. Classic. 
Bring holy war into your game with this one neat trick!

While all Religions believe themselves to be the most true, they may put up with other Religions whose beliefs are relatively compatible.
Of course, some Religions are straight up heretical. These Apostate Religions must be shunned.
The most obvious thing is the social impact.
You get a +2 to Reaction Rolls with people of your own religion, and -2 to Reaction Rolls with those who hold your faith to be Apostate.
It's no use trying to hide your faith, people can Just Tell.

The other impact is in Sermons (see below).
Sermons are more effective if you're in a congregation made up of your own Faith, listening to a preacher who is at least Tolerated by your religion.
Sermons are less effective if you're in a congregation made up of filthy Apostates.

Tolerance and Apostasy is not necessarily mirrored, which is fun. You might tolerate someone's faith, but they think yours is complete heresy.

You don't have to do this, but I made a grid for my ones!
There's fluff reasons for everything. eg. the Sinners hold the Enlightened as apostate because their gods clearly left them to die on this poisoned earth, while the Enlightened tolerate the Sinners in turn because their gods clearly saved the Sinners for some greater purpose.

Generally, each Religion holds two as Apostate. Equality, kinda.

Sect Bonus

Religion isn't just for Clerics! If you participate in a Sermon, you too can unlock a special faith ability called a Sect Bonus.
The ability itself is unique per Religion, see examples above.

Every ten minutes of preaching, the preacher and everybody in the congregation rolls a Save vs Law.
If the preacher is from your own or a Tolerated faith, +1 per member of your faith in the congregation.
If there are any members of an Apostate faith in the congregation, -1 per Apostate present.
Passing the Save means you unlock your Sect Bonus.

Sect Bonus:
Once it's unlocked, you retain your Sect Bonus indefinitely.
You lose your Sect bonus if you wield Chaotic magic. This includes casting a spell, using a magic item, or gaining a buff from a Chaotic source.

Lead Prayer:
If a Cleric is leading the Sermon, everyone in the congregation passes their Save automatically.
A party with a Cleric is almost always going to keep that buff... and almost certainly have to listen to a lot of preaching.


So this is much more of a departure from the standard Cleric, but seeing as my current group has 3 Clerics right now they've had a bit of playtesting! What a treat!

Bespoke Miracles:
My main takeaway is that it's real fun and they're very powerful. Constraining Clerics to a smaller set of powerful spells means they're more likely to use them, and use them in interesting ways.
The most obvious effect is, of course, that Clerics of different religions feel very different. 

The heroic Hyperchurch Clerics - combat oriented - are very powerful in combat, and even more powerful in combination.
The stoner UFO cult Cleric has been going around abducting enemies and, notably, caused a deadly combat to chill out for long enough for people to escape to safety.

Great fun.


In a similar way, the different Observances have made the various Clerics feel unique. The stoner Cleric keeps toking up between miracles, while the Hyperchurch Clerics are always on the look out for people to romance and keep taking their tops off in storms.
And since all Clerics need to give a Sermon to boost their Faith, they're preaching all over the place.
Good times!

Altered Miracle Mechanic:

Getting rid of the spell list means getting rid of spell levels!
Cleric Faith starts at 2d6+level+Wis Mod, with all Miracle Rolls on 2d6.
This means a level 1 Cleric of average Wisdom will start a day with around 8 Faith. That's at least one Miracle, with good odds on another. Especially if you follow your Observances.

A level 7 Cleric with the same Wisdom will be more like 14 Faith at dawn, guaranteed second Miracle! And more importantly - since your Faith resets to the higher of the Miracle roll or your level, a successful roll leaves them with at least 7 Faith after each Miracle. Good odds for chaining many together in the same day.

Something to note is that I'm assuming a de facto level cap of Level 7, so this is a comfortable balance. If you've got Clerics going beyond level 12 they'll essentially have infinite Miracles.
I'm fine with that personally, but it's something to keep in mind if you're the sort of person who doesn't start new characters off at level 1.


I'm pretty jazzed about Sermons and the Sect Bonus.
Since there are Clerics in the party, everyone's constantly boosted by their Religion - perfect!

We haven't experienced the other side of the coin yet - a Sermon by a lay priest.
The intention is to make a mono-religious party gain easy access to their Sect Bonus, and make it mechanically advantageous to shun apostates (or at the very least, make them leave the room).
We'll see how that pans out!

Sermons are required because I think the idea of pausing a dungeon delve for a spot of preaching is funny - especially since they'll have to do it more often if the Wizards keep casting spells and want their boost back.

If you want to see what I've got for my game:
Religion Pamphlet here.
Religion Spreadsheet here.


  1. This is very interesting stuff, I was excited to see this since you teased some of it back in March and this didn't disappoint.

    Because the religious sects are so modular, I can see this catching on.

    "If you cast Chaotic magic, or benefit from a Chaotic spell or artefact, you lose your Sect Bonus."
    The use of "benefit" seems kind of flimsy here. If the MU Casts Light is that a "benefit"? What a party member kill a monster with Fireball while the group is in combat? Unless a spell is directly harming or hindering the Cleric there could be a case that there is a benefit.

    1. That's a fair point!
      My original intent was to make people who get a direct personal benefit (like having Enlarge cast on them, or wielding a magic weapon) lose the Sect Bonus.

      It might be a laugh if indirect benefits like Light lost the bonus, because it would mean the devout shun witches, but that's probably too harsh.

      How do you think I should word it?

    2. Maybe something like this would work?

      "You lose your Sect bonus if you use Chaos magic, such as casting a spell or using an artifact. You also lose the bonus if the magic of Chaos is cast upon you as a boon."

      It's only slightly different than what you said, but this stipulates that the Cleric is the target of the [non-harmful] spell. Also, it may be my own perceptions, but the connotations of "boon" sounds greater in effect than "benefit".

    3. Thanks! I used your new wording, but changed "use" to "wield" to make it more obvious that it's a personal effect, and used "buff" instead of "boon" because vidja games I guess.

      "Once it's unlocked, you retain your Sect Bonus indefinitely.
      You lose your Sect bonus if you wield Chaotic magic. This includes casting a spell, using a magic item, or gaining a buff from a Chaotic source."

  2. Fucking sweet, really like the observances.

    1. Yea they're great fun!
      I especially enjoy the occasional theological discussions about "what does it mean to make love?" and "do female Clerics have to get their tits out in a storm?"
      I'm intentionally loose with the definitions, so it's fun to see them work it out.

  3. Psst... think your "Here are some examples" link isn't quite right! Either way, wooooo! Excellent stuff, especially the Sermons! Clerics should definitely preach to their party more