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!

cleric.jpg


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.

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

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
Hi I'm Josh, I'm one of the two lead writers on the cleric.

I would like to point out that the flavor text explicitly says that clerics do not have to be a member of a Western-style religious hierarchy. You can be an independent mystic, and you can even technically be an atheist.

There are options that support the more freeform clerics. But my question is: where are the gaps in the mechanics for supporting that?
 

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Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
Magnetic Missionary: If you do make your check, do you attract a larger crowd? Why would you want to attract a crowd?
Ordination: First paragraph is the same as the acolyte background.
MM - presumably yes. But I imagine that it wouldn't be desirable in all cases, and that an attempt at spreading your faith in a particularly inhospitable situation might actually draw in Town guard and detectives assigned to suppress your religious movement

Ordination - not all clerics are priests, and not all priests are clerics, but some clerics are priests even if they do not take the acolyte background
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Hi I'm Josh, I'm one of the two lead writers on the cleric.

I would like to point out that the flavor text explicitly says that clerics do not have to be a member of a Western-style religious hierarchy. You can be an independent mystic, and you can even technically be an atheist.

There are options that support the more freeform clerics. But my question is: where are the gaps in the mechanics for supporting that?
I think that the mechanics are broad enough to support it trivially, I spent longer looking up up Oghma & Onatar to check their portfolios than I did refluffling MM/Ordination/zeal in post 38. I think the gap is more cemented tradition made worse by o5e doubling down so hard on FR's divine power coming from the involved gods wording that they needed to put in the xge18 sidebar
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A quick little sidebar not even as involved as the xge one giving a couple examples of working with your gm to refluff them to fit an individual greater entity's portfolio might solve any of those sort of problems while encouraging players to dive into using that support to really fit their character if it's actually a problem
 

Staffan

Legend
Hi I'm Josh, I'm one of the two lead writers on the cleric.

I would like to point out that the flavor text explicitly says that clerics do not have to be a member of a Western-style religious hierarchy. You can be an independent mystic, and you can even technically be an atheist.

There are options that support the more freeform clerics. But my question is: where are the gaps in the mechanics for supporting that?
Sacred Call is the big one. You're either a public speaker, strongly integrated in your faith's social network, or someone who pushes their deity in everyday conversation. There's really no room for those who see faith as a private affair, and not anyone else's business. There's no room for mystery cults who jealously guard the secrets of the divine, for example.

Later you have Sacred Office, which again either connects you to local faith leaders, gives you a reputation as a helper of the common folk (which is fairly inappropriate for many D&D religions in the first place), or casts you in opposition to your faith's hierarchy (which again, presupposes that there is a hierarchy to begin with).
 

Staffan

Legend
I think that the mechanics are broad enough to support it trivially, I spent longer looking up up Oghma & Onatar to check their portfolios than I did refluffling MM/Ordination/zeal in post 38. I think the gap is more cemented tradition made worse by o5e doubling down so hard on FR's divine power coming from the involved gods wording that they needed to put in the xge18 sidebar
A quick little sidebar not even as involved as the xge one giving a couple examples of working with your gm to refluff them to fit an individual greater entity's portfolio might solve any of those sort of problems while encouraging players to dive into using that support to really fit their character if it's actually a problem
Yes and no. The big difference is that the O5E cleric class is all about the divine magic and, to some extent, proficiencies that support that kind of domain. There is no social aspect at all to the O5E cleric. The social aspect of being a priest, and thus connected to some form of organized religion, is generally something handled by taking the Acolyte background (or perhaps Hermit).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Yes and no. The big difference is that the O5E cleric class is all about the divine magic and, to some extent, proficiencies that support that kind of domain. There is no social aspect at all to the O5E cleric. The social aspect of being a priest, and thus connected to some form of organized religion, is generally something handled by taking the Acolyte background (or perhaps Hermit).
I don't agree at all. Many of the classes we have seen so far have significant social features built in & those include classes that traditionally have almost zero room for social stuff even when trying to fill that need. I listed a few examples back in #38 for refluffing those oh so problematic bits into things like industry & trade groups based on the two gods you mentioned & feel confident I could trivially do the same for any two gods you think might throw me for a loop there if you want to test it. Sure there's no magewright background, but there are some magewrighty elements like magically building a makeshift wagon in ten minutes. As much as I'd love to eventually see an a5e artificer type class I don't think magewright is likely to fit in well as a background(origin?). Being an ordained cleric linked to a trade group might not have any divine link & the ordainment might come in the form of technical certifications awards or similar.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
There are options that support the more freeform clerics. But my question is: where are the gaps in the mechanics for supporting that?
You might want to make the Vows optional--if you don't take one, you don't get the bonus, so there shouldn't be a problem if you don't want to take one.

Sure there's no magewright background, but there are some magewrighty elements like magically building a makeshift wagon in ten minutes.
That would probably be Guild Artisan, honestly.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I don't agree at all. Many of the classes we have seen so far have significant social features built in & those include classes that traditionally have almost zero room for social stuff even when trying to fill that need.
Every class has features which play into the social and exploration pillars, yep. The intention is that all players get to play in all three pillars of the game, not just watch.
 

Staffan

Legend
Every class has features which play into the social and exploration pillars, yep. The intention is that all players get to play in all three pillars of the game, not just watch.
This is a worthwhile goal. I just don't think the built-in social features of the cleric should be all about the job of being a priest — both because not all clerics are priests, and because not all priests are clerics.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is a worthwhile goal. I just don't think the built-in social features of the cleric should be all about the job of being a priest — both because not all clerics are priests, and because not all priests are clerics.
I don't think 'priest' and 'cleric' have their real world meanings in D&D.
 

Staffan

Legend
I don't think 'priest' and 'cleric' have their real world meanings in D&D.
I'm using them as convenient shorthand for "person whose job it is to care for the spiritual well-being of a community and/or preach about the virtues of their religion" and "person who can wield divine magic". The two, while often related, are not synonymous.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm using them as convenient shorthand for "person whose job it is to care for the spiritual well-being of a community and/or preach about the virtues of their religion" and "person who can wield divine magic". The two, while often related, are not synonymous.
OK. Your definitions aside, we're just using 'cleric' as class name.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
This is a worthwhile goal. I just don't think the built-in social features of the cleric should be all about the job of being a priest — both because not all clerics are priests, and because not all priests are clerics.
What built-in social features do you think the cleric should have? Because personally, I'm a bit confused. Unless you mean, they should have more Charisma skills? Because (A) most social things are just role-play with the occasional die roll, and (B) we haven't seen much of the social rules for LU yet.

The LU cleric has some social features built in, like the Sacred Call feature, which is all about sermonizing, performing the duties of your priesthood for other people, discussing your god with people... and I think you said you didn't like that because it was too much about being an ordained priest. But if you're not an ordained priest, then what social features should the class grant you?
 

GKEnialb

Explorer
I think you need to work on Devoted Vows a lot more, everything should revolve around your Divine Domain.
I don't agree with this at all (everything revolving around the Domain). One of the best parts of Level Up is the variety - why take away somebody's choice to play a character who takes a vow of celibacy when worshipping a war god? Choosing a vow that doesn't match your domain could actually be an interesting way to add more depth to your character or even flesh out details of your god (asking why would a war god care about chastity is more interesting to me than saying, "war gods only care about war").

Ordination - not all clerics are priests, and not all priests are clerics, but some clerics are priests even if they do not take the acolyte background
I understand that, but it's odd that there would be a direct overlap of the two. I don't think there's another case like that in the rules (e.g., there's no "soldier" ability that's also a "fighter" ability)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I don't agree with this at all (everything revolving around the Domain). One of the best parts of Level Up is the variety - why take away somebody's choice to play a character who takes a vow of celibacy when worshipping a war god? Choosing a vow that doesn't match your domain could actually be an interesting way to add more depth to your character or even flesh out details of your god (asking why would a war god care about chastity is more interesting to me than saying, "war gods only care about war").


I understand that, but it's odd that there would be a direct overlap of the two. I don't think there's another case like that in the rules (e.g., there's no "soldier" ability that's also a "fighter" ability)
I agree completely but your war god chastity combo made me think of some hockey traditions so I decided to look them up and surprisingly it dates back up ancient Greecehttps://www.cnn.com/2016/08/08/health/sex-olympics-athletic-performance/index.html
 

Staffan

Legend
What built-in social features do you think the cleric should have? Because personally, I'm a bit confused. Unless you mean, they should have more Charisma skills? Because (A) most social things are just role-play with the occasional die roll, and (B) we haven't seen much of the social rules for LU yet.

The LU cleric has some social features built in, like the Sacred Call feature, which is all about sermonizing, performing the duties of your priesthood for other people, discussing your god with people... and I think you said you didn't like that because it was too much about being an ordained priest. But if you're not an ordained priest, then what social features should the class grant you?
Don't know. Perhaps things connected to your domain - a War cleric might have an easier time dealing with soldiers and warriors, a Nature cleric getting a bonus with those that live off the land, and so on. Or perhaps the social dimension should be on a separate layer than class.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Don't know. Perhaps things connected to your domain - a War cleric might have an easier time dealing with soldiers and warriors, a Nature cleric getting a bonus with those that live off the land, and so on. Or perhaps the social dimension should be on a separate layer than class.
I think that you're maybe getting too specific there wanting specific things for each domain rather than looking for ways to color the looseness built into the abilities you get to absorb & exude that kind of flavor.

From reading your posts it almost seems like your bone to pick is over being allowed to do that rather than having it dictated how its done by raw. If that's the case it sets up a vicious cycle. Using o5e as an example all is well there... if you are playing fr as its written for... and you want to tell the same story as the example it was written for sure, but things break down badly if the gm wants to run with a setting where that baseline is different. edit: Am I correct in that reading?
 
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Part "Chosen", but also part mystic. I'm thinking someone who is attuned to a fundamental force of reality without necessarily having some intermediary deity. I could see someone being devoted to, say, the ideals of freedom, or the pursuit of knowledge, or the mysteries of fire and through those wielding the same kind of power clerics do, but without that power ever getting close to e.g. Avandra, Oghma, or Onatar.

I also want clerics to be able to pursue their own goals while still representing their religions or forces. You should be able to have adventuring clerics who aren't on quests from their gods, but who are simply employing their divine magic while doing adventure stuff. The example that comes to mind is Fzoul Chembryl, as originally portrayed — yes, he was a cleric of Bane, but his job was co-running the Zhentarim (things got a little out of hand later). I could also see a cleric of Waukeen who works as a merchant, or a cleric of Moradin working as a smith, without having any interest in preaching about their particular religions and just serving as examples of a life well lived.
That’s a cool idea, but that doesn’t sound like a DND Klarich to me. A different class though would be good maybe.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Don't know. Perhaps things connected to your domain - a War cleric might have an easier time dealing with soldiers and warriors, a Nature cleric getting a bonus with those that live off the land, and so on. Or perhaps the social dimension should be on a separate layer than class.
That would be archetype stuff, not class stuff, and I don't think LU is redoing the basic archetypes. While it makes sense that you might have an easier time dealing with people in some way related to your domain, that only makes sense for some domains. Sure, a War cleric might have an easier time dealing with soldiers and warriors. But what about a Tempest cleric? Or a Twilight cleric?

Anyway, "Zeal of the Convert" gives you a bonus whenever you i"nvoke the name of your deity or movement," so that should count.
 

Staffan

Legend
That’s a cool idea, but that doesn’t sound like a DND Klarich to me. A different class though would be good maybe.
I think it sounds exactly like a D&D cleric. Take Adon from the Avatar trilogy. His job is to be an adventurer. He's part of an adventuring company together with Kelemvor the fighter and Cyric the thief. He's a cleric of Sune, but we don't really see him preaching or anything of the sort.

Or take OG Fzoul Chembryl, who is one of the co-leaders of the Zhentarim. He's not their chaplain, he's their boss. He would of course like to see the faith of Bane flourish within the ranks, but that's definitely not a requirement for membership (and the co-boss, Manshoon, worships Mystra).

Or why not Fall-From-Grace, from Planescape: Torment. She's a Lawful Neutral Succubus cleric who runs the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts, where the ladies working there primarily engage customers in conversation about themselves. It is unclear whether she even worships a particular god or if she draws power from something else. But she doesn't seem to have any particular network outside of her establishment, and we don't see her preaching about anything.

I think that you're maybe getting too specific there wanting specific things for each domain rather than looking for ways to color the looseness built into the abilities you get to absorb & exude that kind of flavor.

From reading your posts it almost seems like your bone to pick is over being allowed to do that rather than having it dictated how its done by raw. If that's the case it sets up a vicious cycle. Using o5e as an example all is well there... if you are playing fr as its written for... and you want to tell the same story as the example it was written for sure, but things break down badly if the gm wants to run with a setting where that baseline is different. edit: Am I correct in that reading?
I don't think the abilities as written are particularly loose. You're either a preacher who's good at attracting crowds, a ceremonial leader with strong social ties to your order or congregation, or someone who's looking to talk up their god or equivalent at any opportunity. The closest of these to being generic is Zeal of the Convert, which still references "pious" people.

I would want these types of abilitites to be available to any class, not just clerics, because any class should be able to be a religious leader. A priest of Mystra would be just as likely to be a wizard or sorcerer as a cleric.
 

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