Divine power drawn from a place/object?

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Working on a new campaign. Without getting too specific, the Gods have all but punished and abandoned the world. However, I don't want to exclude the use or existence of divine spell casters.

My thought then, is that Clerics, Paladin's and the like draw this power from the left behind temples or relics. Fixed (sometimes mobile) objects. Over time, the spell caster's well of divine power must be refilled. Forcing said user to return to this seat of power.

Thematically, I like this, it causes Clerics and the like a reason to stick to these places, and ensures there aren't powerful healers in every corner of the world.
It also makes me think of these characters needing to set up somewhat central bases, and make pilgrimages.

What I don't want.

To tie players strictly to a certain radius
To take the fun out of playing a divine caster
To be some boring forced mechanic because the Gods are mean

What I do want

I want it to enrich the theme of the setting
I want this to be tied more to time and energy spent. Not distance from the location or item of power
Eventually I can see awarding a divine caster with a found artifact or relic they can draw power from. Maybe as like a secondary pool, that can extend the time and usage of their powers while away from the more inexhaustible wells of such power.

I am looking for thoughts, enhancements, problems, and challenges with this. Anything to further the thought put into this, especially if it is something I have not thought of. I know full well how players can blindside a thing like this and put me on the spot.
 

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Satyrn

First Post
My first thought is, rather than having these spots refill a PC's power, they enhance it. So a cleric or paladin making a pilgrimage to such a place would gain something extra.

And most of them would be things things that work only while the character is nearby, and would be things like "all healing spells are considered upcast by 2 slot levels" or "when taking a long rest in this shrine, you gain some additional slots.

I'd probably also find ways to give divine boons to other classes, too, so they would be interested in finding these holy sites.
 

Ed Laprade

First Post
Be sure to have enough of them around so that the Clerics, etc., don't have TOO far to go to get to one. (Say, a week or two.) Also, D&D generally uses pantheons, so most temples, at least, should give some benefit to anyone connected to the pantheon even if it is primarily dedicated to only one deity.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
I definitely like this Satryn. Certainly something that can be added to enhance these sites. I still want the basic power to come from these locations or objects as well. As the Gods have pretty much wash their hands of this world, these casters are forced to draw power from what was left behind in times long past.

Unless it seems like the idea is a non-starter, I don't want to divorce myself from the idea that some divine power must be replenished. I would also need to nail down how long, and how much use constitutes as diminishing ones pool. Which could become more robust as one levels up.
 

You might have "one and done" sites that are widely scattered, but are only good for a day's worth of spells (may take a month for the site to recharge). That way PC's don't always have to hang around big sites, but they are traveling around, they will need to plan around these sites.

I would go all old school G.I. Joe cartoon and give each small site a piece of a sacred relic, and if the PC's can assemble one, they can petition the god to reestablish his/her/its power on the world (so its a quest that can lead to a future quest).
 

MarkB

Legend
How about:

You need to gather power at a divine site in order to unlock a new level of spells. Until you do so, you still have access to the new level's spell slots, but can only utilise them by upcasting lower-level spells.

If you spend more than a certain period without replenishing at a shrine, you don't lose all spellcasting ability - but you do lose access to subclass features, such as additional spells known and specialised Channel Divinity applications.

Maybe, as the campaign progresses, introduce something like a special holy relic that can be imbued with power at a shrine. It then functions as a link to the shrine, reducing the restrictions on the character. You could also give it other uses, such as re-consecrating defaced religious sites in order to re-awaken them as places of power.
 

I am looking for thoughts, enhancements, problems, and challenges with this. Anything to further the thought put into this, especially if it is something I have not thought of. I know full well how players can blindside a thing like this and put me on the spot.
A though, but may be a little too far from how you want your world to work:

Rather than tie divine magic into places and objects, tie it into communities and faith. So instead of being empowered by sitting in the derelict temple of a god that has abandoned the world, a cleric would spend time interacting with people, encouraging their ethos, and expanding their communities.
This would mean that a cleric would have an ethos: a way of life that they champion rather than a specific god.

This might mean a shift in what divine magic actually is. There might even be a clash between the old ways of following the gods that have turned their back on the world and the new ways of caring more about the people in the world.

Rather than questing for ancient artifacts of the old religions and lost temples, a cleric would quest for the betterment of their community and to demonstrate the power of their beliefs. By encouraging the people they meet to follow their beliefs, a cleric would not have to keep returning to the same community to regain power, and may well create new communities as they travel.
 

Coroc

Hero
Use this for the first three Levels only after that "shoehorn" a portable item that enchances PC divine casters operational radius.

If this is discussed upfront, and potential Players of divine casting chars are warned OOG bevor they roll up their char, that it might not be that effective and require good resource Management it is fair game.

I would not do it differently if i would the Play dragonlance saga modules until the disks of Mishakal been found all clerical Magic only Comes from the bluecrystal staff, with ist own rules on recharging.
 

Gardens & Goblins

First Post
How about having clerics/divine casters simply return to these sacred sites once they level in order to gain access to new 'levels' of divine power?

Then they're free to trundle off doing divine castery things.

As a reward at higher levels, they can be granted responsibility with securing a relic/chunk of divine mojo and founding their own sacred sight, which in turn acts as another place of divine study/empowerment for them and the other faithful.
 

Bitbrain

Guinea pig in shining armor
Reply to OP.

This is similar to what I do in my own home setting.
Being influenced by dark sun, Clerics draw their powers from the elemental forces of the world. Certain locations (such as the nearest volcano, a freshwater spring, etc.) are considered sacred sites, and the elemental spirits tend to congregate in these locations.

EDIT
one thing I did to enrich my setting with this concept was to make these sacred locations important to the physical survival of the world itself.

Living next to a local freshwater spring in the desert would be highly advantageous, but you can't just waltz into the area and take what you want. You need to get permission from the spirits of that spring before you can collect what you need.

and those elemental spirits have Agendas of their own. They want you to do things for them in exchange.
And sometimes, they gift you with magical items as a reward for you helping them out . . .
 
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Satyrn

First Post
I definitely like this Satryn. Certainly something that can be added to enhance these sites. I still want the basic power to come from these locations or objects as well. As the Gods have pretty much wash their hands of this world, these casters are forced to draw power from what was left behind in times long past.

Unless it seems like the idea is a non-starter, I don't want to divorce myself from the idea that some divine power must be replenished. I would also need to nail down how long, and how much use constitutes as diminishing ones pool. Which could become more robust as one levels up.

I've had more thoughts on this.

I'm thinking the Channel Divinity feature seems like the best place to model this. It's what readily feels like xrawing power from the gods, and so a player losing out on it makes sense - and yet at the same time it's not so integral to a character's power, so a player isn't likely to feel shafted by losing it for a little while.

It can also make your job easier because now you can use all those Channel Divinity features as the benefits of "attuning" to a shrine, etc (probably want a different word than attuning to avoid confusing it with magic items).

Like, perhaps visiting a shrine to the former god of storms gives the player access to the Tempest Domain's channel divinity feature - and the cleric could also attune to a war god's shrine for the War Domain's, getting him up to the maximum of 2 that a normal cleric gets.

Maybe tack on the Domain spells to this, too: partly attuning to the shrine grants 1 of the spells from each level, and the domain's channel divinity; fully attuning gets all the domain spells, the domain's channel divinity and turn undead. A cleric could partly attune to 2 shrines, or fully to 1.
 

jgsugden

Legend
2 Things strike me:

1.) Your approach of not wanting to make this too mechanical seems right, and
2.) Divine beings work in mysterious ways.

There doesn't need to be a rhyme or reason to the way you implement this - and keeping it vague and surprising can be part of an interesting story (as long as it is not torturous on the players).

The way I'd do it would be to have each cleric have a holy focus, which is either a relic, location or celestial being. PCs generally function as normal, but feel weak after a bit and feel a need to return to the focus to recharge. This should be a role playing prompt, but unless they entirely ignore it, I would not give it any mechanical effect on their spells or abilities. Make these feelings arise when it suits the story you're telling, but not too often and it should be a nice thematic element without disrupting the game.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Thanks for the feedback folks. A lot of useful suggestions that will take some time to contemplate.

Also glad I didn't just get a wall of chatter saying "Your idea's bad and you should feel bad!"
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Larry Niven's "The Magic Goes Away," and other stories set in that world, might inspire you.

I like and would work in that worshippers can 'recharge' the old Divine power, slowly.
Keep this as a background thing: the Cleric has to turn in his Holy Symbol to sit on an altar at a church and be venerated for a month before it can empower his spells again. Lucky for him, he can carry two and swap out as needed. Or he could set up a chain of churches and trade Symbols between them. However if he becomes excessively reliant on Divine power he could drain both (all?) of them at once. Yeah, you can cast that True Resurrection spell ... but nothing else at all for at least 40 days of devotions afterwards.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Well, lets rip off a few ideas:

Taking a page from Eberron:

The church of the Silver Flame worships, well a giant silver flame. Which is comprised of the souls of countless valiant warriors and ministers, and keeps a powerful demon lord entrapped within it's burning embrace. This flame is a physical thing in the world that people can go and worship at, which also bestows power on people.

Now if we are going to meet all your needs here, namely having a central nexus, various hubs, and even miniature artifacts to carry around, we are going to have to look somewhere else to fill that in. As it just so happens, I was reading a Green Lantern comic book today, and it would flesh out the bill perfectly. Green Lanterns have their rings give them superpowers. The Rings need to be recharged via batteries that look like lanterns every day. There is the Central Battery on the Green Lantern homeworld which is basically limitless power, and each member posseses and hides a smaller personal battery that they can use to store more power so that they can spend extended periods of time away from their main planet.

Bringing this all together with some polish:
You have a magic eternal flame that people need to pray at daily for power. The major churches across the land would have a protected bonfire. Smaller churches and shrines would have a brazier. Individual people would have candles (lasting anywhere from a day to a week), while important people would get a lantern (lasts up to a month). Periodically, the flames from everywhere other than the eternal flame would have to be relit. Permanent fixtures in churches and shrines would accomplish this via a ritual not unlike the Olympic Torch carrying ceremony, while individual people would only have to go to the nearest shrine or church.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Well, lets rip off a few ideas:

Taking a page from Eberron:

The church of the Silver Flame worships, well a giant silver flame. Which is comprised of the souls of countless valiant warriors and ministers, and keeps a powerful demon lord entrapped within it's burning embrace. This flame is a physical thing in the world that people can go and worship at, which also bestows power on people.

Now if we are going to meet all your needs here, namely having a central nexus, various hubs, and even miniature artifacts to carry around, we are going to have to look somewhere else to fill that in. As it just so happens, I was reading a Green Lantern comic book today, and it would flesh out the bill perfectly. Green Lanterns have their rings give them superpowers. The Rings need to be recharged via batteries that look like lanterns every day. There is the Central Battery on the Green Lantern homeworld which is basically limitless power, and each member posseses and hides a smaller personal battery that they can use to store more power so that they can spend extended periods of time away from their main planet.

Bringing this all together with some polish:
You have a magic eternal flame that people need to pray at daily for power. The major churches across the land would have a protected bonfire. Smaller churches and shrines would have a brazier. Individual people would have candles (lasting anywhere from a day to a week), while important people would get a lantern (lasts up to a month). Periodically, the flames from everywhere other than the eternal flame would have to be relit. Permanent fixtures in churches and shrines would accomplish this via a ritual not unlike the Olympic Torch carrying ceremony, while individual people would only have to go to the nearest shrine or church.

That is some interesting perspective that hadn't occurred to me.

I will have to look into this route a bit more and see what I can take from it to marry into other ideas.
 

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