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How do I justify a Lizardfolk Cleric in lore and RP?

Zethnos

First Post
Lizardfolk has me completely stumped RP wise. I really like the idea of a Lizardfolk - Cleric of the forge from Xanathar's. The thing is... this race just doesn't care about anything except survival... They don't want or desire anything from what I understand.

Do these creatures have religion? Since they have no moral system or want/need for anything greater than living, would it even be possible to explain how one would be a cleric?

Also, how would I RP them? Do they speak in first or third person? How do they interact with others?
 

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5ekyu

Adventurer
Lizardfolk has me completely stumped RP wise. I really like the idea of a Lizardfolk - Cleric of the forge from Xanathar's. The thing is... this race just doesn't care about anything except survival... They don't want or desire anything from what I understand.

Do these creatures have religion? Since they have no moral system or want/need for anything greater than living, would it even be possible to explain how one would be a cleric?

Also, how would I RP them? Do they speak in first or third person? How do they interact with others?
To me the idea of lizardfolk is to be playing a different mindset. As Volo describes them, alien is frequently used.

Now we have all seen character, pc, npc, etc who did not develop attachments beyond practical, right? LF take that to the core.

As for how that religion would work, it would be about powrr and the need for power to survive. LF could see the power of enemy clerics and warlocks and realize a goid thing when divines and patrons come with deals.

But it would not be devotion, imo, as much as barter.

Remember how Conan told Crom if Crom couldnt help then to hell with him?

Same thing IMO for LF cleric or warlocks.

As a GM i would approach LF PCs are what i call frontgrounded - not driven by long complex background but ready to react to upcoming events - their story is beginning, not already underway. They have very direct responses, so that should not be tough.

As for exploring their religions, i would look at it from what the divines and patrons want from the deal - as the LF is the more direct drive.

Finally, if i wanted to push a more long term drive, a guiding principle, i might push into LF play the competition for reproduction... Making "survival of fittest" and " breeding by fittests" their primary driver - so the adventuring might be driven by need to impress potential mates by glory and power acquisitions.

Tyr Anastasi of Andromeda, but without the higher education and philosophy, is a model, but there are tons of them in the various fantasy, scifi and even real world lore.

Just some ideas...
 

Nevvur

Explorer
First thing, you don't need to limit your character concept to the guidelines presented in the books. Some of the most enduring heroes in fantasy fiction have defied conventions for their race. Bilbo and Frodo, Drizzt, etc.

That said, assuming you want to play it close to the book... Start with this bit: "Despite their alien outlook, some lizardfolk make an effort to understand and, in their own manner, befriend people of other races. Such lizardfolk make faithful and skilled allies."

I would keep the emotional detachment suggested in VGTE, but if you 'slip up' in your portrayal of the character by having an overt emotional response, you can just play it off as mimicking how he thinks his non-lizardfolk companions would react. Also, it's noted their survival outlook is largely predicated on the hostile environment in which they live. A lizard given the opportunity for leisure may discover other priorities. The text does mention they seek pleasure, they just have a different perspective on it.

You should discuss with your DM a suitable god for a lizardfolk forge domain cleric. They place a high premium on useful objects that can ensure their survival, so it's a sensible domain for their spiritual leaders. I'm just not sure about lizardfolk religion myself, so can't offer more substantial suggestions.

As to your last questions, that's really up to you. There's a lot of guidance in VGTE, read through it. Use what you like, don't use what you don't. If anyone calls you out for playing your character wrong, they're probably douchebags.
 

Lizardfolk have their own gods and their own clerics. However, Forge would be a very odd choice for a society that is largely pre-metalwork!

But you could always go with a "raised by dwarves" type background.

I had an NPC lizardfolk cleric of Lathander (Light domain) living in Cormyr, in a walk-on part, but as it happened the party didn't engage with them and find out their backstory.
 

Zethnos

First Post
To me the idea of lizardfolk is to be playing a different mindset. As Volo describes them, alien is frequently used.

Now we have all seen character, pc, npc, etc who did not develop attachments beyond practical, right? LF take that to the core.

As for how that religion would work, it would be about powrr and the need for power to survive. LF could see the power of enemy clerics and warlocks and realize a goid thing when divines and patrons come with deals.

But it would not be devotion, imo, as much as barter.

As a GM i would approach LF PCs are what i call frontgrounded - not driven by long complex background but ready to react to upcoming events - their story is beginning, not already underway. They have very direct responses, so that should not be tough.

As for exploring their religions, i would look at it from what the divines and patrons want from the deal - as the LF is the more direct drive.

First thing, you don't need to limit your character concept to the guidelines presented in the books. Some of the most enduring heroes in fantasy fiction have defied conventions for their race. Bilbo and Frodo, Drizzt, etc.

That said, assuming you want to play it close to the book... Start with this bit: "Despite their alien outlook, some lizardfolk make an effort to understand and, in their own manner, befriend people of other races. Such lizardfolk make faithful and skilled allies."

I would keep the emotional detachment suggested in VGTE, but if you 'slip up' in your portrayal of the character by having an overt emotional response, you can just play it off as mimicking how he thinks his non-lizardfolk companions would react. Also, it's noted their survival outlook is largely predicated on the hostile environment in which they live. A lizard given the opportunity for leisure may discover other priorities. The text does mention they seek pleasure, they just have a different perspective on it.

You should discuss with your DM a suitable god for a lizardfolk forge domain cleric. They place a high premium on useful objects that can ensure their survival, so it's a sensible domain for their spiritual leaders. I'm just not sure about lizardfolk religion myself, so can't offer more substantial suggestions.

As to your last questions, that's really up to you. There's a lot of guidance in VGTE, read through it. Use what you like, don't use what you don't. If anyone calls you out for playing your character wrong, they're probably douchebags.

Thank you both! You guys gave me some ideas already for how I could do it.

Now I'm kind of thinking:
The character in some way has observed one or more cleric(s) performing their magic. It brought great pleasure in way of comfort, food, & healing. It also aided warriors in combat making them stronger, survive longer, and face greater threats. The character thought about what he has witnessed and decided to seek out a temple to become a cleric in search of pleasure and greater resources for survival. They decide to take the LF in and teach him to be a cleric because since they are typically fierce warriors, they could use him to spread the word of the strength and name of their temple and god(s). That would also give me a "call to adventure" the temple sends him out to find a party and take on adventures to advance as a cleric and spread the word. A reason to stay with the party would be that he gets intrigued by the party members and wants to understand more about them and use them to help him become more powerful of a cleric.

As you mentioned Nevvure, I guess I really could break the restrictions a bit like Drizzt. I could over time change his motives to wanting to bring other creatures pleasure and safety (also fitting in with the description of treating humans like hatch-lings), since his people seek it for themselves. I'll have to play around with the idea though :p

Again thanks guys! It's been a big help.
 

Zethnos

First Post
Lizardfolk have their own gods and their own clerics. However, Forge would be a very odd choice for a society that is largely pre-metalwork!

But you could always go with a "raised by dwarves" type background.

I had an NPC lizardfolk cleric of Lathander (Light domain) living in Cormyr, in a walk-on part, but as it happened the party didn't engage with them and find out their backstory.

Yeah I didn't really think about the pre-metalwork thing. I think I may have a way to explain that though, tying it in with the reply I just posted :p
 


Li Shenron

Legend
Not sure how close or far to the canon this is, but in the past I have quite often featured lizardfolks in our homebrew/mixed setting, and I've always had clerics of their deity Semuanya, flavored as savage shamans. The deity is one of the typical racial deities in D&D that seems to care only about their favored race, but since I'm not a fan of that cliche, I always focus on more general philosophical aspects, in this case Semuanya as the "deity of survival and breeding".

The Forge domain might pose a challenge in the fact that lizardfolks are quite primitive, and the domain is almost about technology, so the two are in conflict. But what if Semuanya sees (slow) technology advancement as one of the tools to survival? If it wasn't for the focus on metal, I wouldn't see much problem. Maybe you could try to steer it more towards stone, wood and bone crafting. Or you could limit the Forge domain to selected clerics of Semuanya that belong to a specific tribe of lizardfolks, without any need for the vast majority of lizardfolks in the world to have the same bent.
 

The Forge Domain has some focus on metalwork, but also lot of it is fire-based. I could definitely see a Lizardfolk Forge Domain cleric as worshipping/calling on the Sun.
 

Bitbrain

Black Lives Matter
Lizardfolk cleric of the Forge?

Simple. The official lore is that you are a "cold blooded" humanoid whose civilization is concerned about survival. The forge can produce a lot of heat, so I can totally see the Lizardfolk regarding it with something akin to reverence.

The big thing would be that while dwarves primarily see the Forge as a source of creation, the Lizardfolk would probably see it first as a source of staying warm at night or during the winter.
 

I'd probably throw in something about the lizard being some what similar to a crocodile, in that he needs the heat to gain energy for the day. Would be fun to role play too. Every time there's a sunny day, he sun bathes... and perhaps worships the sun? Thanks the sun for its gifts?
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
I have multiple races of lizardfolk of the primitive variety. And they are mainly shamanistic in nature...if at all (rare in their culture).
So the faithful among them normally attribute motives and actions to storms, floods, cold weather, the sun.

The advanced lizardmen that I have a culture of, have a more direct history (although most knowledge is lost) to the race that created them, and vaguely remember them being strong in fire, and wind. So they kinda go with ancestor worship, with the local ruler of the lost city area being considered a god king, called the Fist of the Sun. So their faith is sorta sun worship/ancestor respect, with a hint of WH40K god emperor thrown in.
 

TiwazTyrsfist

Adventurer
I have a CG Lizardfolk Tempest Cleric (of Deep Sashelas) with the Criminal background that I use in Adventurer's League.

Here's my back story for the character.

He was stolen as an egg by a group of slavers/exotic animal dealers.
He was sold on the black market (still as an egg) to a Gnomish crime boss who "Collected" unusual and exotic humanoids as gang members.
He was raised by the boss as somewhere between Pet and Favored Child. Alternating between lavish gifts and being mostly ignored at times.
When he was grown, he became an enforcer and collector for the syndicate (Hence the Criminal Background).

He would go around and shake down local businesses for protection money.
After an underworld war shook up the dividing lines in the area, the Bosses new territory included a number of temples.
One was a small temple of Deep Sashelas.
When he went in to menace the priests, he was granted a divine vision.
Directly touched by the power of a Goddess, he converted, left the organization, and went to follow his new calling.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Before the lizardfolk worshipped Semuanya, reptilian god of survival, they followed Essylliss: http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Essylliss

I figure, if lizardfolk tribes can be "corrupted" towards evil and chaos by demons like Sess'innek, that strongly implies that the unemotional, survival-oriented mindset is at least partially learned behavior. Indeed, you don't need to develop a religion reinforcing an ethos if that way of thinking comes naturally to you -- all the dogma and ritual of Semuanya is only necessary because lizardfolk are capable of straying from that path. Thus, lizardfolk can also be "corrupted" towards law and good.

I played a lizardfolk cleric of Essyliss for several months, and it was great fun. Since there's not much information on Essylliss's dogma, I got to make it up, and decided she was the goddess of growth, adaptation, and learning (holy symbol was a lizard head, symbolizing the mind). Her followers viewed Semuanya as a deity of stagnation, stasis, and slow but inevitable extinction. So my cleric was really very interested in human civilization and learning the ways of the soft-skins, and hoped to bring that knowledge back to his people in the jungles of Chult. Forge domain would have been totally appropriate for this character.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Also, how would I RP them? Do they speak in first or third person? How do they interact with others?

I just talked in kind of a gruff, gravelly voice. It's hard for me to really emote in that voice, which probably helped the impression somewhat.

The thing that got me the most mileage was having a cornerstone of lizardfolk culture be, "you are what you eat." My character constantly wanted to eat fallen foes, especially strong ones, to gain their strength. He thought humans and demi-humans were soft and pudgy because they ate so much bread. He explained that, should he fall in combat, he would be honored if his adventuring companions devoured his corpse. He couldn't understand the tradition of burying perfectly good meat, especially if it came from a skilled warrior, and he was totally horrified when we encountered the tribe that eats zombies.

Of course I never explained to the other players about the "you are what you eat" thing, so they just thought I was playing some kind of insane cannibal.
 

Parmandur

Legend
With God's, divine intervention is a very real option. Nobody says that your Lizardfolk has to be the typical result of their society: they can be The Prophet bearing The Message of The Forge.
 

Ganymede81

First Post
Your lizardfolk cleric could have been schooled by a particularly charismatic missionary of another faith, someone intent on civilizing the "savage" lizardfolk.
 



A friend of mine was played a cleric of a warrior God as a lizard folk. He was more a war cleric, but forge would've worked equally well. His personality was that at any point he asked himself this:
1) Can I eat this, fight this, or *&@% this?
2) Will anyone get upset with me if I do, and if so, for which one and what reason?

Despite this mindset, he was still fiercely loyal to the party, and was always seeking to bring glory to himself, his God, and his tribe/party. It works quite well for us, and he got along with my necromancer and the party ranger (a hunter) quite well.
 

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