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Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #13: Cleric

Welcome to the 13th Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of the game’s cleric class. We're nearing the end of this phase of class playtests, with only a couple left to go!

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What this is
This is a playtest document. We’d love you to try out the rules presented here, and then answer the follow-up survey in a few days.

What this is not
This is NOT the final game. It’s OK if you don’t like elements of these rules; that’s the purpose of a playtest document. Be sure to participate in the follow-up survey in a few days. All data, positive or negative is useful.

What we use this for
Your survey responses help form the direction of the game as it goes through the development process.

Don’t forget!
Sign up for the mailing list for notifications of playtests, surveys, and news, and also ensure you get notified on Kickstarter when the project launches in 2021.


When you're ready, please fill out the playtest survey here:

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


Any idea on a price point, format (1, 2 or 3 books) and a estimated time of when the Kickstarter will go live? I understand its all fluid at this point and you want to make sure things are playtested, but just wondering?
 

aco175

Legend
Overall, I like the cleric better now than the PHB one. I like the options at the various levels and think that it makes each cleric more unique. I first thought they were being shortchanged with only simple weapons and armor, but then you get to choose a power at first level that grants armor and weapons or one that allows you to add your Wis modifier to AC- cool.

The only turnoff if calling your god a greater entity or whatever kept being said. I get it, but find it meh.
 

Jeff Carpenter

Adventurer
The vows of Chastity and Mercy raised some issues for me.

Chastity can be a hard vow to keep in real life, but easy as heck for your PC so no real downside.

Mercy is fine, but disappoint to read you are keeping one of my least favorite rules in 5e, the ability to decide after you strike someone that you are not going to kill them. Again no real downside in 95% of combats.

Maybe that is the point to have easy vows?

Speaking of non lethal I have a simple house rules for this, that starts with declaring before you strike and applying penalties to hit and damage based on the weapon. Trying to knock someone out of the fight is a lot easier with a club or your firsts than it is with short sword or a pike.
 


FitzTheRuke

Legend
Speaking of non lethal I have a simple house rules for this, that starts with declaring before you strike and applying penalties to hit and damage based on the weapon. Trying to knock someone out of the fight is a lot easier with a club or your firsts than it is with short sword or a pike.
Is it? Bash them with the short sword's pommel or cross-check them in the face with the pike. Neither of those should be particularly harder than hitting them with the pointy end (they ought to be doing everything in their power to avoid that eventuality). These kinds of attacks should come with basic proficiency with the weapons (if you don't know how to use weapons for non-standard attacks, you don't know how to fight).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Any idea on a price point, format (1, 2 or 3 books) and a estimated time of when the Kickstarter will go live? I understand its all fluid at this point and you want to make sure things are playtested, but just wondering?
There’s a picture of the book lineup on the website. When we have a KS date, believe me we won’t be quiet about it. You’ll want us to shut up about it!
 

WarDriveWorley

Explorer
Thanks for the preview. A few questions/points of concern:

  1. Sacred Call: I love this addition and think it adds some good RP depth to the class. My only "concern" is that some of the abilities are objectively better than the others. Magnetic Missionary has 0 drawbacks. Ordination has no real drawbacks, but is only usable in select areas so its use is situational. However Zeal of the Convert has a baked in drawback that should be encountered semi-regularly. I would kind of like to see something similar in the others (Maybe Magnetic Missionary has something that happens when you do roll a 1).
  2. Divine Domain: I echo Garmel's request to see the Arcana/Magic domain added. Also I'm interested in how you've tinkered with the Domains themselves. Any way you could preview an updated Domain? 🙏🙏
  3. Devoted Vow: So I'm torn on this ability. The thematic element is great and I do love me some thematic elements. My worry is that the vows are basically "give mes" for the players. A vow of Chastity IRL is difficult for most. In game it's easy. I almost wonder if having each vow customizable around in-game situations (example: Maybe a player that chooses a vow of chastity cannot willing be the target of a buff spell as they feel their flesh must remain pure).
Still parsing the other info, but these popped up right away.
 


Faolyn

Hero
Thoughts time!

"No matter their religion or cause, a cleric is distinct from the average worshiper and even those at the highest echelons of its hierarchy."

This is one of those things that's been floating around D&D forever, but also something that doesn't get explained very well. In a setting where magic is relatively common and the gods or their representatives can be communicated with (relatively) easily, why wouldn't a higher-level cleric rise to higher levels of power as well? The high-level cleric is clearly more blessed by their god(s) than someone who is really good at bureaucracy and gladhanding and the like but can only cast low-level spells, or has no magic whatsoever?

I just realized that this is only the second playtest class that has a level where you get no features (the other one being Adept). Shocking!

Vows: You need to expand on what these mean in terms of gameplay. Does Severity mean I can't heal people? Does Mercy mean I get bonuses on all my death saves after the first two, or just the third one because you have to make three saves to stabilize on your own? How much can I have if I take Poverty?

A suggestion for other vows: No intoxicants (bonus to avoid being poisoned); No meat (bonus to rolls to deal positively with animals); No lying (bonus to Persuasion). Providing succor to those who ask for it (potential allies?)

IMO, the Poverty one is a bit weird. You have no money, so other people are compelled to give you a discount. Not only does 20% off not help you if you have no money (if your allies pay for you, do they get the discount? And if your allies pay for you, does that count as poverty?) but so much for free will... It seems more likely that people would be willing to give you leftovers, scraps, and other unsold product, rather than just offer a discount.

Also, what happens if you break your vow?

Sacred Office: I seriously dislike the whole Outcast one. First off, if you're really going against your church, then why isn't your god stepping in? Again, in a setting where the gods are distant, this makes sense, but in a more typical setting, this doesn't. Secondly, pious people won't like you (apparently people are less likely to go from orthodox to reformed in this setting), but community leaders will like you? What if the community leader is pious?

I suggest getting rid of Outcast and replacing it with Sectarian. You have become part of an offshoot of the faith. It's small and probably disliked by the main faith, but it's not considered heretical or blasphemous (i.e., the church won't hunt you down). Other members of the Sect are going to be very friendly to you and will be willing to go above and beyond for you. Members of other Sects, and possibly of the main faith, who are otherwise indifferent to you are more likely to be hostile.

Another possible Sacred Office: Sin-Eater, Exorcist, Curse-Master. People come to you with their problems, which are often supernatural and dangerous in origin. They don't always have much or even anything to offer you in return, but by gods its your duty to solve them. As a result, you can get small communities to really love you when you succeed.

(I'll try to put this in the survey, but it's hard in 500 characters or fewer.)

Command Undead: OK, so an intelligent undead won't do anything clearly harmful, but what about skeletons, zombies, and other "mindless" undead?

Turn Ideology/Turn Supernatural: Do these two stack in any way? If I can turn Chaotic creatures and can turn Fey, do I have any particular bonuses when turning Chaotic Fey? And suggestion, if you haven't already planned for it: Command Ideology or Supernatural, with a high level prereq.

Speaking of, I hope you explain what the alignment traits mean as game terms. Alignment doesn't seem to be a thing anymore (yay!). At least, your green dragon preview doesn't seem to have an alignment, but I have old eyes so I could be missing it. Is alignment just a tag now?

Eyes of Heart: This is a cool power but seems clumsily written. Maybe if you critically succeed/succeed by 5 or more (or is that a type of crit now? I can't remember).

Spiritual Salve: "Your constant encouragements and proverbs allow allies within 30 feet..." Darnit, now I'll need to find a Random Proverb Generator. Maybe I can repurpose that Chopak Bot. Seriously, though, I like this power.

I will say the Sacred Presence feature feels very good-aligned. I kind of want to see an evil version. Like, your presence riles people up, makes them more willing to follow you into danger or get in fights with someone, if you want them to.

Divine Intervention: "After each failed divine intervention roll, add 1 to the number required to succeed until it is a success, at which point it resets..." Does this mean it gets easier to have your prayers answered? It looks like it, but I'm not sure.

Knacks: Again, they don't feel very explorer-y--maybe I was spoiled by all the climbing and surviving knacks from the first playtests. That being said, I really like them all. They definitely feel very clerical in nature.

Preservation: This one is too powerful, unless you got rid of the detect poison and disease spell. Give this one a minimum lavel prereq or require the cleric to spend their action focused on the food or drink, unless you want players touching everything before the party eats.

Righteous Path: This one needs some explaining. Does it mean literal walking? Can you stop walking and take a break?

Supernatural Intuition: Like Preservation, but more so (my warlock in my current game has become the detect evil and good-bot, and that spell slot better count for something!). It should require something to activate--maybe spending their action focusing, or comparing the cleric's passive Per to the creature's passive Deception or something like that.
 

Jeff Carpenter

Adventurer
Is it? Bash them with the short sword's pommel or cross-check them in the face with the pike. Neither of those should be particularly harder than hitting them with the pointy end (they ought to be doing everything in their power to avoid that eventuality). These kinds of attacks should come with basic proficiency with the weapons (if you don't know how to use weapons for non-standard attacks, you don't know how to

I am not saying people don't use all parts of the weapon, obviously when the opportunity presents itself they strike with the pomel or the butt of a weapon. I am saying that if two people get in a fight with shorts swords and one can only use the flat or the pommel they are going to be at a disadvantage versus the person who can use the pointy end and the other parts.

Second getting cross checked by a pike haft or struck with a pommel is a lot less effective than getting stabbed by the blade. You can stab me anywhere and its going to hurt, but cross checking me most places isnt going to be very effective. Thus you are at a disadvantage because you have less targets.
 


Lefi2017

Explorer
I just dislike the "Turn Ideology" especially since this is recently more used as role play advice. So you use turn ideally in the king's courtroom and both the king and the advice are turned what does that tell you? well, this will lead to some lynchings based on turning! Any detect alignment spells ruin intrigue but if you include Alignment as a major mechanic what are your ways to enforce it on players?
 

Faolyn

Hero
I just dislike the "Turn Ideology" especially since this is recently more used as role play advice. So you use turn ideally in the king's courtroom and both the king and the advice are turned what does that tell you? well, this will lead to some lynchings based on turning! Any detect alignment spells ruin intrigue but if you include Alignment as a major mechanic what are your ways to enforce it on players?
The green dragon doesn't have an alignment listed, so I'm guessing that only certain supernatural things have alignments. I really hope so, because as you note, that could lead to some unfortunate issues.

Edit: Maybe it should only work on things that have already been identified as having a specific alignment.
 

Stalker0

Legend
The green dragon doesn't have an alignment listed, so I'm guessing that only certain supernatural things have alignments. I really hope so, because as you note, that could lead to some unfortunate issues.

Edit: Maybe it should only work on things that have already been identified as having a specific alignment.
Keep in mind that its an explicit design goal of Level up to be compatible with the core system, so you could assume for example that a level up cleric was brought into a normal party using the normal Monster Manual. So alignment could still be a core aspect regardless of how the level up monster manual handles things.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I can tell you how alignment works in LU. Generally, it's supernatural. Demons, angels, undead etc. are all creature types with an alignment. Generally sentient creature types do not have an alignment specified in the rules. For PCs we focus more on our Destiny & Inspiration rules when discussing what drives the character.
 

VanguardHero

Explorer
There's some damn nice stuff in here, feels so much more full than o5e Cleric. My main concern is the Vows. Those are pretty powerful RP elements to enforce on a character even if easy to manage mechanically. I feel like they need an extensive list, or a sort of default non-Vow option for if that's not something that fits the character, ideally both. I really like the ideas for more Faolyn posted, they all seem flavorful without being too heavy handed. Plus as someone personally uncomfortable enough with alcohol that even my characters never drink, the no intoxicants one would be great to see added.
 

Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
I guess this is a case of LevelUp's goal of lateral compatibility works against doing something interesting, I see that you've decided to sick with 5e's thematically flat Domain system. :(
It is one of the weaker design choices made about 5e. 5e Clerics are the least interesting Clerics in any edition of D&D.

I much prefer the Spheres system from 2e or how Clerics work in Hackmaster. Made each Cleric very different from each other.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Thanks, HeroicVanguard!

I'm trying to come up with a cleric now and none of the listed Vows fit even slightly. So in addition to the ones above, I have to more possibilities (both of which would work for the cleric I'm coming up with): Slayer of a particular type of supernatural (fey, fiend, etc.) creature type; possible bonus would be an expertise die on Arcana checks to recall facts about them. Ritualistic, because your faith involves many minor rituals--nothing that takes longer than a minute at most, but they have to be done frequently; possible bonus would be an expertise die on Religion.
 

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