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5E 2E Priests Vs 5E Domains

Zardnaar

Explorer
Modern D&D has done a lot if things that have generally improved the game. I don't miss THAC0 nor do I use it.

However 2E had a fairly unique way dealing with priests. The broke the cleric and Druid spell lists into spheres. Spheres usually had a theme such as protection, elemental, healing, sun etc. Different priests, clerics and specialty priests would have access to different spheres so there was no spell list as such, more of a sphere list.

A specialty priest was basically a priest of a specific deity such as a sunlord of lathendar. Druids were a specialty priest. Other types of priests were usually cleric variants such as a Crusader.

You could also have major and minor access to a sphere. Minor access was level 1 to 3, major access was up to level 7.

The system was also good for low magic settings as you might only have a few spheres. DM doesn't want magical healing well no priest has that domain. Same thing with raise dead.

It was a but all over the place though. Some were very weak and you had things like some if the FR specialty priests.

So overall more interesting than 5E but also a bit of a mess ymmv of course if you designed your own.
 
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R_Chance

Explorer
I liked it. It helped define the deities and the interests of their priests. It also reigned in the power of Clerics vs. other classes in terms of spell access. The Complete Priests book adding various granted powers in the place of the generic turn undead ability gave more flavor. The priests access to weapons and armor varied with their magical prowess too. There was a version of it on the Paizo boards for 3.5 / PF iirc. I'd love a version of this for 5E (and have messed around with doing it for both 3.x and 5E).
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Yeah, this gets brought up at my table from time to time, in the sense of things we miss from older editions. Particularly with regard to The Complete Book of Priests.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
Conceptually I liked the spheres from 2E, but I remember the biggest downside: players needed to pick a deity with access to the Healing sphere, as magical healing was absolutely necessary. With 5E, it might not be as necessary, but I think most players would still choose a deity that grants them access to healing. I think a better system would have been to allow most priests minor access to most spheres, with only a few deities not granting Healing, but limiting major access to only a few. This way low level healing would be available to almost everyone, but greater spells like Raise Dead would require a true healer.

Personally, I think the concepts of the domains to be acceptable, as it allows different types of priests with as simple a system as possible. In the Greyhawk Boxed set for 1E, there were different benefits that could be granted to clerics of certain gods, and I feel the domains help bring this idea about in a balanced way.
 

gyor

Adventurer
The Speciality Priests of Faiths and Avatars, Demihumsn Deities, and Powers and Pantheons in 2e were awesome, but it's unlikely anything like speciality priests will be in 5e, unless they make it an alternate class feature for clerics like the alternate features we know the Ranger is going to get.

For now the closest we get to a speciality Priest is the Divine Soul, which is a mix of 2e Mystic (a class related to Speciality Priests) and 3e Favoured Soul.
 

gyor

Adventurer
Conceptually I liked the spheres from 2E, but I remember the biggest downside: players needed to pick a deity with access to the Healing sphere, as magical healing was absolutely necessary. With 5E, it might not be as necessary, but I think most players would still choose a deity that grants them access to healing. I think a better system would have been to allow most priests minor access to most spheres, with only a few deities not granting Healing, but limiting major access to only a few. This way low level healing would be available to almost everyone, but greater spells like Raise Dead would require a true healer.

Personally, I think the concepts of the domains to be acceptable, as it allows different types of priests with as simple a system as possible. In the Greyhawk Boxed set for 1E, there were different benefits that could be granted to clerics of certain gods, and I feel the domains help bring this idea about in a balanced way.
There is also the possibly of deity related feats.

Or none cleric, priestly subclasses, like the Divine Soul for Sorcerer or Zealot for Barbarians.

I think a Divine Spellcasting Bard like the 3.5e Choir would be cool for many Gods.
 

Gadget

Explorer
I think AD&D relied far more on class spell lists and class weapon proficiency/restrictions to differentiate various classes than 5e does. You could do a lot more with class/subclass flavor by playing with these dials. With a la carte multi-classing, feats and various abilities to raid other class's spell lists, that is not as much a thing anymore. It is no longer that big of a deal to say "Look everybody, my cleric/priest can wield a sword!" And the domain system does try this by granting different weapon and armor proficiencies. While I can't remember all the various details with specialty priests from 2e, it seems that some of them--especially in the various Complete books--were basically different classes in large part, which is a bit of a heavy mechanical burden to hang on the domain/sub-class framework of 5e.
 

Azzy

Explorer
They were neat, but an unbalanced mess. I'll take the current subclasses over them.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I find that 5e priests tent to play the same from game to game, so something that encourages more differentiation would be welcome. That said, I would be wary of ending up with something like: "3 of these 5 'best' domains are the only ones picked, so now clerics have a narrower list in actual play so there's even less variation. Oh, and only have the deity list gives access to them so there's less variation in who you worship as well - your RP choice of another god can hamstring you mechanically".

An issue is that there really are some stand-out cleric spells so you see them over and over. If there were more spells of that very high caliber we'd see more variation, even without enforcement. But I haven't seen a cleric without most of spirit guardians, spiritual weapon, guidance, bless, and a few other staples basically ever in 5e.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Outside the question if 5e would benefit from such a split, I'd like to suggest some variations on what Minor Access would do instead of just limiting spell levels, which would not have a huge effect in the Tier 1&2 gamespace that most games spend the majority of their time.

Minor access could mean (pick as many as you like):
  • No access to ritual versions of the spells.
  • Only WIS spells can be prepared total from Spheres with Minor access any given day. (I'd actually prefer [PROFICIENCY] spells so it scales, but that's a bit of a different mechanic then other classes use)
  • Max spell level prepared is one less than that normal. (So if you could prepare 3rd level cleric spells, you can only perpare 1-2 level minor access spells.)
  • No access to Cantrips (in other words Cantrips only from Major access spheres).
  • Spells from minor spheres can't be upcast.
  • DC/Spell Attack does not add proficiency for minor spheres. (Same as if using an unproficient weapon.)

This is just an idea list, not meant to all be in play at once. Some address the same restriction - like limited selections or no access to add-ons (upcast/ritual) - and shouldn't all be picked.
 

FaerieGodfather

Registered User
Clerics should work the way Clerics work in 5e, maybe with a little tweaking. (I like giving them Warmage casting on a drastically-reduced list.)

Specialty Priests should each be individual classes, designed to fill their own niches.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I believe ''spheres'' can be brought back to 5e using the now defunct UA Mystic. Change the disciplines to spheres and keep the cleric cantrips. At first level the cleric choose from a list of gods which give them a starting major sphere and a minor sphere, and a list of spheres to choose from at higher level.

Psi points can be Faith or whatever. You invest Faith in your spheres to create effects. You can only invest a maximum of 3 Faith for minor spheres and up to 7 with major spheres.

Archetypes (level 1? 2?) can be variant of the cleric: warpriest (heavy armor, extra attack at 6), avenger (sneaky cleric) or oracle (4e invoker).
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
I find that 5e priests tent to play the same from game to game, so something that encourages more differentiation would be welcome. That said, I would be wary of ending up with something like: "3 of these 5 'best' domains are the only ones picked, so now clerics have a narrower list in actual play so there's even less variation. Oh, and only have the deity list gives access to them so there's less variation in who you worship as well - your RP choice of another god can hamstring you mechanically".

An issue is that there really are some stand-out cleric spells so you see them over and over. If there were more spells of that very high caliber we'd see more variation, even without enforcement. But I haven't seen a cleric without most of spirit guardians, spiritual weapon, guidance, bless, and a few other staples basically ever in 5e.
This you either use the same spells over and over or kinda suck. You don't get extra spells like older editions, less healing in effect (relative to what's in the game) and can't farm out healing as much.

And the Druid seems better at healing now via healing spirit.
 

aco175

Explorer
I like the way 5e gives some wizard spells where appropriate, or we can even make up some new spells, or find 2e versions of spells not updated.

What about taking the specialty priest and make that the 3rd level path. 1st and 2nd level is the same for all clerics and at 3rd level is where you can branch out. It may make more sense to pick at 1st level and have a couple splits in the faith at 3rd level. This may make more sense since you kind of pick a god before first level unless you change the way gods interact with clerics and have the gods fight for 2nd level clerics to pick them.

At 3rd level you can have a more combat cleric and a more spell cleric or healer cleric. Some of the generic cleric powers could be changed a bit for specialty priests.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Some 2E priests had access to wizard spells. I think that's where it first happened. Getting invocation or transmutation was very good.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Some 2E priests had access to wizard spells. I think that's where it first happened.
Clerics & Magic-Users shared some spells from the very beginning, as well as the same 'Vancian' system of memorization, same casting mechanics - "samey?" maybe, but efficient.
They still do, for the same reason, and then there's the arcana cleric.

Differentiating some clerics by giving them more spells just doesn't do the trick like spheres did...
...the spheres just have to be reasonably balanced for it to work well.
 
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Yaarel

Explorer
All spells can be organized into domains.

Then the Cleric (also Wizard) picks two domains, to build a thematic spellcaster concept.

To pick a spell outside ones domains, can happen if it is one or two lower levels than the highest spell level.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Clerics & Magic-Users shared some spells from the very beginning, as well as the same 'Vancian' system of memorization, same casting mechanics - "samey?" maybe, but efficient.
They still do, for the same reason, and then there's the arcana cleric.

Differentiating some clerics by giving them more spells just doesn't do the trick like spheres did...
...the spells just have to be reasonably balanced for it to work well.
I know but I'm talking about explicit wizard spells. Clerics lobbing fire ball for example.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The Speciality Priests of Faiths and Avatars, Demihumsn Deities, and Powers and Pantheons in 2e were awesome, but it's unlikely anything like speciality priests will be in 5e, unless they make it an alternate class feature for clerics like the alternate features we know the Ranger is going to get.

For now the closest we get to a speciality Priest is the Divine Soul, which is a mix of 2e Mystic (a class related to Speciality Priests) and 3e Favoured Soul.
This is why I like to customise my cleric domains for specific gods. Sometimes it's as simple as swapping out divine strike and martial weapons/heavy armour for potent cantrip and a free cantrip, other times it's adjusting domain spells to fit the deity. I'm also playing around with giving clerics small bonuses which are more like boons since they make no specific adjustments to domains. Things like the cleric of the god of magic able to make use of wizard spell scrolls or bonus proficiencies like the Lady of Poisons granting proficiency with the poisoners and herbalism kits. The Corruptor is essentially my Orcus and I've given his clerics the ability to not be attacked by unintelligent undead unless they attack the undead first. I'm not too worried about trying to achieve balance, more I just want something flavourful for my gods to grant their priests.
 

R_Chance

Explorer
Several of you have nibbled around a problem I found when I considered Spheres for 5E. When I did look at them, the major problem was a lack of spells for many spheres. The 5E spell list is a lot more limited than 2E (or 3E for that matter). The first thing I would have needed to do was add / rework a lot of missing spells. That really ramped up the amount of work needed and my time is, during the school year, too limited to undertake it.

The fact that some deities / priesthoods are better / worse for adventuring doesn't bother me. The range available is about world building. The fact that players are going to pick the best for an adventurer is pretty much a no brainer. If they don't for RP purposes, well good on them. Different weapons, spells, classes / etc. have always been favored by players. Not a big deal to me. Back in the dark ages of the original game the go to magic user spell was "Sleep". If you were a magic user and you memorized any other spell at first level (you only got one then) or, gods forbid didn't have it in your book, it sucked to be you. That type of thing hasn't gone away.

I think the different spheres for different deities / priesthoods (and gods could have multiple priesthoods imho) is logical and helps with world building. Why should a god of agriculture and a god of war offer there Clerics the same spells?

*sigh* I can see a lot of my summer time disappearing (I teach). Might be fun to get back to it. An expanded spell list might address some of the balance problems between spheres… different granted abilities and weapon / armor limits help further differentiate and define priesthoods. As long as you're not slavishly devoted to balance or the idea that every priesthood needs to be an adventuring bunch it could be fun... or a tremendous time sink :)

*edit* For coherence, I was rambling a bit. Well, a lot. Less now I hope...
 

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