D&D General building a faith around the assumptions of the cleric instead of in spite of it?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
many field agents end up in desk work as their bodies fail them which is likely to still be the case with the cleric class, let alone the paladin.

The difference, of course, being that in our world, field agents get old and slow and don't get any better. Meanwhile, clerics go up in level, and become powerhouses.

But, if you want to ignore that - and you feel the gods will ignore that, that's fine.
 

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HammerMan

Legend
The difference, of course, being that in our world, field agents get old and slow and don't get any better. Meanwhile, clerics go up in level, and become powerhouses.

But, if you want to ignore that - and you feel the gods will ignore that, that's fine.
i am reminded of Order of the Stick when they said "everyone knows your eyesight and hearing improves as you age" as a refrence to the 3e +1/2/3 to mental stats for ageing... and perception being a wis skill old men had +1 or +2 on seeing and hearing things over what they had 50 years earlier
 

Voadam

Legend
right off the bat I have a hard time calling it faith.

faith is believing with lack of evidence (in my mind)

Avoiding real world religion for a moment, you (in most settings) not only get powers, not only can meet angels, but you can (at higher levels) talk to or go meet your god.

Religious faith can have different connotations.

"I am a faithful X" says you are faithful to the X religion, not that you believe in something with no evidence.

It can also simply mean where you put your trust, which can be based on evidence or not.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I think some of y’all are missing the point of the question.

Since every cleric gets Turn Undead, I think a religion built around the cleric would have to hold that undead are bad. However, there are multiple resurrection spells on the cleric spell list, so returning from the dead isn’t necessarily against this religion’s precepts. That suggests it may be more about how the body is meant to be treated than anything about the natural cycle of life and death. They are opposed to magically animating corpses, not to living beyond your divinely-appointed time.

Clerics also have Domains, and each cleric dedicates themselves to one Divine Domain to the exclusion of all others. This might suggest that clerics are supposed to specialize in the cult of one particular deity among a pantheon, or, if you want this religion to be monotheistic, to the study and veneration of a particular aspect of the Divine’s creation. Offensive spells and armor proficiencies suggest that clerics serve in a military capacity to some degree, perhaps as crusaders for the faith. This to me indicates some central authority or institutional hierarchy, so I would lean more towards the latter.

The cleric’s spell list is heavy on divination, which suggests a belief in predestination, but no particular precept against predicting the course of destiny. Perhaps part of the clerics’ role is interpreting the will of the Divine. Lots of radiant damage suggests an association of light with the Divine’s power.
As a thought experiment, I could look at several of these same things – Turn Undead, raise dead and animate dead being on the cleric spell list, and lots of divination magic – and come up with a completely different interpretation.

This faith uses divination to determine the purity of a soul. Those who go to a blessed afterlife are left in peace. It's those who were troubled, impure, or violated the faith's precepts who most likely to be raised (and geased if necessary) for their "glorious second life." Whereas to become undead is considered the greatest sacrifice only made by enlightened souls who deny themselves the afterlife to continue their duty in eternity. However, becoming undead is harrowing, and it dredges up any darkness in the soul, and this is why cleric are able to keep the sanctified undead at bay – so that they might learn from their brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
As a thought experiment, I could look at several of these same things – Turn Undead, raise dead and animate dead being on the cleric spell list, and lots of divination magic – and come up with a completely different interpretation.

This faith uses divination to determine the purity of a soul. Those who go to a blessed afterlife are left in peace. It's those who were troubled, impure, or violated the faith's precepts who most likely to be raised (and geased if necessary) for their "glorious second life." Whereas to become undead is considered the greatest sacrifice only made by enlightened souls who deny themselves the afterlife to continue their duty in eternity. However, becoming undead is harrowing, and it dredges up any darkness in the soul, and this is why cleric are able to keep the sanctified undead at bay – so that they might learn from their brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Absolutely, that’s also a valid interpretation. This is why I agree with @Umbran, this thought experiment seems more about creating a religious system that’s consistent with the cleric class, rather than built around it.
 

Voadam

Legend
To build a faith upon the class I would focus on the class features.

They gain medium armor and simple weapons so part of the faith would be compatible with going into combat.

Class skills include history, insight, medicine, persuasion, and religion. Scholar, councilor, doctor, diplomat type concepts could come in.

There is the turn undead universal ability so some relationship to undead. This ties into the religion skill as well.

Domains are a big aspect of the class so maybe build aspects of the faith around them. Possibly a pantheon or collection of saints or multiple important aspects of one god/religion.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I tend to think of DnD Clerics as Temple-Knights who serve as the militant arm of their Faiths. They differ from Priests who are the more ‘sage‘ non-martial preachers.
I do sometimes wonder though functionally how do Clerics and their gods differ from warlocks and their patrons? (especially Celestial warlocks)

anyway the assumptions are
  • Devotion to deity and their tenants (Domain) is proper and beneficial
  • Faith that the god-patron will grant reliable divine powers (after a daily morning ritual)
  • Conviction that preserving Life (healing) is good, Undead are anathema
  • Belief that the cleric is a fighter in a spiritual battle (hence all the shield/combat spellspowers)
 

NotAYakk

Legend
In the world I'm working on for the after(tm), churches are places that deal with divine magic and power. They imbue worthy servants using holy relics they believe are associated with the god of the church.

Direct communication with dieties "in the clear" is mythological, and generally communing with higher powers is cryptic or insanity inducing. The theological belief is our minds are not strong enough to handle it. (this is not quite the truth, but what is).

These churches maintain monestaries (where training and "relic grunt work" occurs) and temples (where they offer services and do community building).

"Relic grunt work" is a little like prayer wheels. Much of the work of making scroll-equivalents can be done by labour intensive lay monks, and it is.believed that the prayers of the monks help recharge the relics used to create clerics.

Now, not all clerics come out of such a system. Most temples and monestaries have thibgs they claim to be relics, and sometimes said relics bless someone without an active ritual. Higher power relics - ones whose blessings are more reliable and recharge faster - are centralized and used to provide the "mainstream" cleric forces of the church.

As these mainstream clerics can be selected relatively reliably, only the most dedicated and pious and connected get the blessing.

The most common way clerics operate is actually consuming scrolls. The process of gaining XP or power by practice or combat doesn't work; PCs are unusual that way. So most clerics get better with.praxtice, and their potential is limited by the relic's blessing.

They usually use scrolls to cast most of their spell services. Using the right techniques they can get advantage on tge required checks, and making 5th level scrolls is easier than 9th level clerics.

(The same, as an aside, is true of wizards: they are mostly just experts at making and reading scrolls. This keeps the flow of X level Y spells/day down, world-building wise.)
 

The difference, of course, being that in our world, field agents get old and slow and don't get any better. Meanwhile, clerics go up in level, and become powerhouses.

But, if you want to ignore that - and you feel the gods will ignore that, that's fine.
it is more level 20 clerics still tend to feel old age thus they eventually have to slow down and move off the front line, druids do not have this problem nor do monks.
I tend to think of DnD Clerics as Temple-Knights who serve as the militant arm of their Faiths. They differ from Priests who are the more ‘sage‘ non-martial preachers.
I do sometimes wonder though functionally how do Clerics and their gods differ from warlocks and their patrons? (especially Celestial warlocks)

anyway the assumptions are
  • Devotion to deity and their tenants (Domain) is proper and beneficial
  • Faith that the god-patron will grant reliable divine powers (after a daily morning ritual)
  • Conviction that preserving Life (healing) is good, Undead are anathema
  • Belief that the cleric is a fighter in a spiritual battle (hence all the shield/combat spellspowers)
I assume warlock may work for faith but with plausible deniability, as they are logically useful as deniable proxies in an inter pantheon conflict.

Does anyone know the list of cleric sub classes for when I have to build a pantheon?
 


cbwjm

Legend
The cleric isn't totally out of sync with polytheistic faiths, I know both Rome and Egypt had priests dedicated/in charge of administering to specific gods or their temples. These may have been more political positions in some cases, but still it shows a dedication to a single god as your profession. I think that what's really needed is a pantheon "domain" which encompasses the overall faith. I'm not sure how you would build one since it requires greater detail of the pantheon and culture than most games likely have. I've tried but got stumped when I realised I simply haven't written up enough for the faith.

The way I've been building faiths is having the gods and then different cultures have pantheons giving different weight to the gods. People don't identify as a follower of the sun god, rather they are followers of the Northern Gods or the Trinity of Knowledge. The dark elves follow the Tyranny, the dwarves the Family of the Soul-Forger and the Earthmother. You need to play up the overall faith rather than create individual temples to the gods, have a temple with the statues of the main gods positioned down the side of the temple.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The Eberron setting handles sacred traditions well. It is inclusive and multicultural. It cares more about the communities - and the things that adventures will interact with, in a way that is interesting and compelling. It is a compassionate approach that seeks to comprehend why each community does what it does.

Eberron both has a solid grasp for how the D&D mechanics work, as well as, by far, the best verisimilitude to compare to the reallife sacred traditions of various cultures.
 

The Eberron setting handles sacred traditions well. It is inclusive and multicultural. It cares more about the communities - and the things that adventures will interact with, in a way that is interesting and compelling. It is a compassionate approach that seeks to comprehend why each community does what it does.

Eberron both has a solid grasp for how the D&D mechanics work, as well as, by far, the best verisimilitude to compare to the reallife sacred traditions of various cultures.
with the only difficulty of the gods not being either real or interactable but could you lay it out how it works for me if you are able? please
 

Hussar

Legend
You get powers, but lots of other people get powers too. Indeed, people with entirely different belief systems from yours - people that deny your god's very existence, get powers. The existence of powers don't prove the existence of any particular god or gods.

A high level cleric an summon a celestial. But it is CR 4 or 5. Not terribly potent. Indeed, one can form a cogent theory that the celestial didn't really exist as an individual before it was summoned. Not proof that any particular god or gods exist.

Actually meeting your god is not a function granted by the cleric's powers. That the FR has had people meeting gods should not be a central issue for this discussion.

I mean, it is great for you to have your personal take on gaming world religion. But, how about we work towards something that doesn't require your personal assumptions?
Umm, every 5e cleric at 10th level has a direct line to their god. They can literally directly petition their god and around 1/week that god will answer. By 20th level it's automatic.

This notion that gods are unknowable isn't really supported by the game. It is something in some settings, but, in the baseline game? Not really. Not when you can call in divine intervention, no spells, no rituals, not magic needed and it works.

Not even a Wish is as powerful as this as Wish could be counterspelled, or blocked in a variety of ways. There is nothing that can stop my cleric from directly calling down my god to help me do something. And the only limitation on this is whatever the DM comes up with.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
with the only difficulty of the gods not being either real or interactable but could you lay it out how it works for me if you are able? please
The basic idea is, it is the religious community that matters, the adherents.

The concepts that are sacred to the community are the "cosmic forces" (Xanathars).

People have religious experiences, even miracles, and events that many people in the community experience. Still, it is the people of the community and their response to these wondrous experiences who matter. It is the people that player characters will meet. These are the ones who a player Cleric has as contacts. It is the people who players will encounter during an adventure. So it is important to make the people of each community make sense, and be relatable and interesting.

In other words, whether the religion is true or not doesnt matter. The ideas, activities, and goals of the membersof the community matter.

There is evidence for the belief of the community. The difficulty is, communities with conflicting worldviews each have their own wondrous experiences, so there is uncertainty about which community is "correct", and a person needs to decide whether or not to trust the worldview of the community. And again, ultimately it is the people in the community and the relationship with them who matter.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Umm, every 5e cleric at 10th level has a direct line to their god. They can literally directly petition their god and around 1/week that god will answer. By 20th level it's automatic.

This notion that gods are unknowable isn't really supported by the game. It is something in some settings, but, in the baseline game? Not really. Not when you can call in divine intervention, no spells, no rituals, not magic needed and it works.

Not even a Wish is as powerful as this as Wish could be counterspelled, or blocked in a variety of ways. There is nothing that can stop my cleric from directly calling down my god to help me do something. And the only limitation on this is whatever the DM comes up with.
In my campaigns each sacred community forms its own domain within the astral plane. From the perspective of this astral domain, the worldview of the community is 100% true. But if one visits an other domain with a conflicting worldview, it seems 100% true from its own perspective.

The astral plane is a realm of pure thoughts and emotions. Each astral domain is a realm where the religious symbols, ideals, and archetypes take on a life of their own. It can also be a place for an afterlife if the sacred community believes in an afterlife. The astral domain normally includes members of different alignments, albeit the ideology and behavior of a community tends to form a domain with a collective ideology over all. Individuals who share the same alignment have affinity with each other, and they feel a connection between them regardless of which astral domain they belong to.
 

Voadam

Legend
Umm, every 5e cleric at 10th level has a direct line to their god. They can literally directly petition their god and around 1/week that god will answer. By 20th level it's automatic.

This notion that gods are unknowable isn't really supported by the game. It is something in some settings, but, in the baseline game? Not really. Not when you can call in divine intervention, no spells, no rituals, not magic needed and it works.

Not even a Wish is as powerful as this as Wish could be counterspelled, or blocked in a variety of ways. There is nothing that can stop my cleric from directly calling down my god to help me do something. And the only limitation on this is whatever the DM comes up with.
DIVINE INTERVENTION
Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great.
Imploring your deity's aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes. The DM chooses the nature of the intervention; the effect of any cleric spell or cleric domain spell would be appropriate.
If your deity intervenes, you can't use this feature again for 7 days. Otherwise, you can use it again after you finish a long rest.
At 20th level, your call for intervention succeeds automatically, no roll required.

High level 5e clerics call on their god for aid and something completely DM determined happens.

The default 5e setup seems to leave plenty of room for ambiguity from the mortal perspective.
 

The basic idea is, it is the religious community that matters, the adherents.

The concepts that are sacred to the community are the "cosmic forces" (Xanathars).

People have religious experiences, even miracles, and events that many people in the community experience. Still, it is the people of the community and their response to these wondrous experiences who matter. It is the people that player characters will meet. These are the ones who a player Cleric has as contacts. It is the people who players will encounter during an adventure. So it is important to make the people of each community make sense, and be relatable and interesting.

In other words, whether the religion is true or not doesnt matter. The ideas, activities, and goals of the membersof the community matter.

There is evidence for the belief of the community. The difficulty is, communities with conflicting worldviews each have their own wondrous experiences, so there is uncertainty about which community is "correct", and a person needs to decide whether or not to trust the worldview of the community. And again, ultimately it is the people in the community and the relationship with them who matter.
It is more that I am working from the assumptions that the gods are real as is the case for most dnd world which means something rather different than that as otherwise, I would have it in the bag.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It is more that I am working from the assumptions that the gods are real as is the case for most dnd world which means something rather different than that as otherwise, I would have it in the bag.
If so, the race will be extremely setting-dependent, and problematic to port into other settings.

As I mention above, it is possible for the community to form an astral domain, within which, the gods are virtually true. Then the race can import into any setting that has an astral plane.
 

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