Different flavors of Cleric

Ellington

First Post
From a past blog post, Mearls mentioned that their cleric is supposed to reflect the gods. Since the gods as are different as they are many, that's leaves room for a lot of different clerics. You can be a cleric of the sun god, the goddess of winter or the god of death and slaughter. So far, we've heard that backgrounds and themes are going to be a good way of customizing your cleric to fit into the view that you think a follower of a certain god should act like, such as a cleric of Apollo being a good scout and archer.

But what about spells? 2nd Edition had spheres for each god that granted access to different spells. 3rd edition had domains that granted bonus spells depending on what domain you took. For me at least, this sort of resulted in a bloat of spells and it could become pretty difficult to keep track of what spells a cleric had access to. It was a bit jumbled.

Is there really a need for different spell lists for different clerics? What I have in mind is that while different clerics would cast the same spells, these spells would be very different. If you follow the sun god, all of your prayer and blessing spells would grant your allies a resistance bonus to necrotic effects based on the level of the spell, but if you followed the winter goddess you'd get a resistance bonus to fire or frost damage. If you cast a blessing upon your weapon or the weapon of an ally, the thunder god would grant electrical damage while the evil god might grant necrotic damage.

Basically, each spell would have a base effect, like range and an area of effect damage and then a varying descriptor based on your god, like type of energy damage. There wouldn't be a "flame strike" but there might be a "divine strike" that was very different for a follower of Pelor or a follower of Vecna.

I think that this would be a great way to give clerics strong flavor based on the gods they follow without making them overly complicated with a bloated spell list.
 

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dkyle

First Post
I do not like tying mechanics so directly to gods. For one, I don't like setting playing such a big role in mechanics, since I don't use published settings. Even the default one, really. For another, I don't like the whole "every follower of a god is the same" thing.

I'd much prefer to just have a bunch of Themes that produce different kinds of clerics, and let players choose which Theme they want. It might align literally with their god, or it might not. The dissonances and seeming contradictions of a character are often more interesting than perfect alignment.

Your overall idea of spells having "blanks" to be filled in by some other thing (gods per your post, but I'd prefer it be Themes) sounds OK. Could be kiind of cumbersome, though. Partly would depend on how mechanically significant the differences are.
 

Ellington

First Post
I do not like tying mechanics so directly to gods. For one, I don't like setting playing such a big role in mechanics, since I don't use published settings. Even the default one, really. For another, I don't like the whole "every follower of a god is the same" thing.

I'd much prefer to just have a bunch of Themes that produce different kinds of clerics, and let players choose which Theme they want. It might align literally with their god, or it might not. The dissonances and seeming contradictions of a character are often more interesting than perfect alignment.

Your overall idea of spells having "blanks" to be filled in by some other thing (gods per your post, but I'd prefer it be Themes) sounds OK. Could be kiind of cumbersome, though. Partly would depend on how mechanically significant the differences are.

Good point. I guess it could work so they'd still get domains, but instead of the domains granting them different spells they'd alter the spells they have. That would make it setting neutral.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
One of the designers mentioned Domains are 6th level themes. And Themes are collections of feats. So a domains would just grant feats that tweak spells. Or grant feats that grant powers spell like the 4th edition channel spells.

Sun Domain theme:
Searing Light: You can cast searing light 1/day
Undead Turning: You can Turn Undead like a cleric 1/day or gain an additional use of Turn Undead if you are a cleric.
Flamestrike: You can cast flamestrike 1/day

War Domain Theme:
Weapon Proficiency
Divine Power
Flamestrike

Animal Domain Theme:
Hold Animal
Animal Claw: You get a claw attack.
Summon Nature's Ally
 

the Jester

Legend
It seems to me that this is a terrible idea. Do you make each cleric spell's description 3 pages long to ensure that it's properly customized for every possible god? Do you just customize for some gods? What if I want to play a cleric of the god of humor and there's nothing customized for me?

WAAAAY more trouble than it's worth and doesn't solve the problem IMHO.
 

Ellington

First Post
It seems to me that this is a terrible idea. Do you make each cleric spell's description 3 pages long to ensure that it's properly customized for every possible god?

That's not what I'm saying at all.

The spells would have a variable effect, such as what type of energy damage the spell does or what kind of protection it offers. Spell descriptions wouldn't be any longer than they have been in previous editions.

Your god or domain would then have a descriptor for how spells are altered, such as "Damage spells gain the fire descriptor" or "Prayer spells grant Fire Resistance equal to the level of the spell for the duration of the spell.

I believe most cleric spells could be sorted down into a fairly compact list of types and describing how your domain or your god affects those types of spells shouldn't take up too much space. For instance:

The Fire Domain effects:

- Spells with a damage variable deal fire damage.
- Protection spells deal fire damage to the attacker equal to the level of the spell.
- Prayer spells grant recipients a bonus to fire resistance equal to the level of the spell.
- Summoning spells allows you to summon creatures with the fire descriptor.

Do you just customize for some gods? What if I want to play a cleric of the god of humor and there's nothing customized for me?

Every god would have associated domains that could be selected and would alter the ways the spells worked. The god of humor might have a "humor domain". The domain might make his damage spells deal energy of a random type, his prayer spells grant his allies a bonus on saving throws vs fear and his summoned units would come out wearing silly hats.
 
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DracoDruid

Villager
I see the main problem is giving the cleric acutal spells in the first place.

IMO it would make far more sense in giving clerics a bunch of spell-like or better supernatural abilties depending on their god/faith/theme/whatever.

I know this goes against a D&D fundamental, but sometimes some things are just ment to go the way of the Dodo.
 

Certainly not for core but I really like the idea of clergy of different gods being almost like different classes. At the same time, I love that themes can make some interesting and almost paradoxical characters of great roleplaying depth (as dkyle suggests above). I think something along the lines of the Book of the Righteous would be brilliant.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 


ren1999

First Post
I have no problem with a variety of custom clerics as long as the 1st Player's Handbook has a generic cleric as the standard example to teach new players the basics of the game. That has always been a big mistake in previous editions.
 

Gold Roger

First Post
I think spells should differ only minimally for clerics of different gods (as much as in 3.5 Core only). I see divine magic as a very specific kind of granted magic that is basically the same, wether it's granted by the god of darkness, sun or rainbow lollipops.

Of course this comes from my view of what divine spellcasters are. To me they are the miracle workers, oracles, prophets and saints of the D&D world.

Many might never reach past the powerlevel of minor wonderhealer. They aren't necessarily priests, they might not even worship the god that blessed them. They might not even want that blessing.

Where the differences between gods and their worshippers should come in is on their nonspellcasting abilities. A god of thieves and scoundrels blesses thieves and scoundrels, not preachers in chainmail. I hope themes and backgrounds will deliver this.


Of course this is all my own personal view and desires. But it is a view that was formed by the way divine spellcasting has worked in D&D so far. An optional module for wildly different divine spellcasting would be fine with me, but I feel it would be just to fidly for the core.
 

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