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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.

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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
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.
I'm not sure how a cleric isn't any of those things. Doesn't this have a bit more to do with how literalistic or humanistic the player is being about the lore?

edit: Doesn't this also have to do with how expansive or restrictive one's definition of "ministry" is? Blacksmithing is a form of Moradin worship. Leadership in the Zhentarim is a way of practicing despotism, which is one of Bane's values. These side activities actually resonate with these clerics' core ministries--plus, clerics are allowed to have hobbies.
 
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Quartz

Hero
This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of the game’s cleric class.

I can't help but feel that the whole cleric thing in D&D is too monotheistic. In D&D worlds polytheism is the norm, and historically it was the job of the priest to speak to and serve all the gods. Therefore I'd like to see the D&D cleric modelled in that vein. One dedicated to a pantheon rather than a particular deity. So a priest of the Olympian pantheon might pray to Zeus to Call Lightning and to Hades to Raise Dead. Similarly, rather than being a specific Lightning Cleric dedicated to Zeus and getting specific abilities A, B, and C at levels X, Y, and Z, they get to choose A, B, and C, from a pantheon-specific list. Our aforementioned Olympian priest might get one ability from Athena, another from Zeus, and a third from Apollo.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I can't help but feel that the whole cleric thing in D&D is too monotheistic. In D&D worlds polytheism is the norm, and historically it was the job of the priest to speak to and serve all the gods. Therefore I'd like to see the D&D cleric modelled in that vein. One dedicated to a pantheon rather than a particular deity. So a priest of the Olympian pantheon might pray to Zeus to Call Lightning and to Hades to Raise Dead. Similarly, rather than being a specific Lightning Cleric dedicated to Zeus and getting specific abilities A, B, and C at levels X, Y, and Z, they get to choose A, B, and C, from a pantheon-specific list. Our aforementioned Olympian priest might get one ability from Athena, another from Zeus, and a third from Apollo.
Unfortunately, while D&D has always been pantheistic, once they developed the idea of specialty priests back in 2e, the single-god cleric has been the norm.

In Morgrave's Miscellany--which, OK, isn't an official work--they have the Sovereign domain. It's meant to represent clerics who worship the whole Sovereign Host instead of individual deities, but could be used for any setting--and I'd love to see something similar in LU. The main shtick was that you got to spend your Channel Divinity to cast spells from any Domain's spell list. I don't know if that's particularly balanced or not, but it's a start.
 

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
pantheistic
That's not what that means

edit
pantheism is equating Divinity with existence itself
I think the point you are trying to make is that dungeons & dragons is pantheon centered, which you are righ about
 

Faolyn

Hero
That's not what that means

edit
pantheism is equating Divinity with existence itself
I think the point you are trying to make is that dungeons & dragons is pantheon centered, which you are righ about
Yes, I messed up; I meant polytheistic.

I know the difference between the two, I swear. My fingers aren't obeying my brain all that much lately.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I can't help but feel that the whole cleric thing in D&D is too monotheistic. In D&D worlds polytheism is the norm, and historically it was the job of the priest to speak to and serve all the gods. Therefore I'd like to see the D&D cleric modelled in that vein. One dedicated to a pantheon rather than a particular deity. So a priest of the Olympian pantheon might pray to Zeus to Call Lightning and to Hades to Raise Dead. Similarly, rather than being a specific Lightning Cleric dedicated to Zeus and getting specific abilities A, B, and C at levels X, Y, and Z, they get to choose A, B, and C, from a pantheon-specific list. Our aforementioned Olympian priest might get one ability from Athena, another from Zeus, and a third from Apollo.

This. I wish D&D would differentiate clerics by the way they work to spread the faith of their chosen pantheon rather than by the domain of one of the gods.

Some archetypes could be:

Warpriest (heavy armored crusaders)
Invoker (medium armor, call blight and curses and brand the infidel, as seen in 4e)
Theurge (no armor, loremastery and rituals)
Oracle (divination and social skills)
Avenger (light armored, stealthy cleric, hunt enemy of the faith)
Anathema (steals from the gods, the ur-priest of 3e)

Then, you could change 1 domain (with the option to retrain it at level up). Those domain would give you 1 cantrip and the ability to add one spell of one type from any list if it fits a criteria.
ex: Light Domain: gain the Light cantrip and when you prepare your spells, you can prepare 1 spell from any list if the spell deals radiant damage.
Shadow domain: gain the Minor Illusion cantrip and when you prepare your spells, you can prepare 1 spell from any list if the spell is from the school of Illusion.
 

Faolyn

Hero
This. I wish D&D would differentiate clerics by the way they work to spread the faith of their chosen pantheon rather than by the domain of one of the gods.

Some archetypes could be:

Warpriest (heavy armored crusaders)
Invoker (medium armor, call blight and curses and brand the infidel, as seen in 4e)
Theurge (no armor, loremastery and rituals)
Oracle (divination and social skills)
Avenger (light armored, stealthy cleric, hunt enemy of the faith)
Anathema (steals from the gods, the ur-priest of 3e)
Invoker should probably be called something like Curse-master or Sin-eater, and Avenger should probably be something along the lines of Inquisitor.

And Healer and Exorcist and you've got a good idea here. I'm not quite sure about the Anathema though. I know it was originally a cleric, but the idea sounds more warlock-y to me.

Edit: Not sure that Oracle would be the social skills one. You could also have a Preacher archetype for that side of things.
 

Uni-the-Unicorn!

Adventurer
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.
OK, I have not read any of the stuff your talking about. I am talking about what is in the core books. That is what defines a D&D cleric for me. I haven't read any D&D novels and we play in our homebrew campaign. We don't buy any books except the core three and whatever else the DM picks up. However, I can understand for viewpoint from your perspective, can you understand it from mine?
 


Faolyn

Hero
For whatever its worth, I decided to flesh out the additional Vows I created:

Honesty
Your religion forbids you from lying. You may omit the truth from what you say or evade the questions you are asked, but you cannot outright tell a falsehood. Your relationships with NPCs who are aware of your vow are improved by one step. (Note: I adapted this from the Bard Knack "Bewitching Companion.")

Prohibitionist
In exchange for eschewing all alcohol and other intoxicants, you become more resistant to their effects. Add your Wisdom modifier to any saving throws to avoid being poisoned.

Ritualistic
Your religion requires you to engage in many minor rituals each day, each of which take anywhere from a full round to a full minute to complete. This requires you to always know when and where you are, so you know when to perform the rituals. Add your Wisdom modifier to any saving throws made to resist being confused. (There have been a few things written in the playtests that suggest Confused might be an official condition now.)

Slayer
Your religion demands that you defeat a particular type of foe that is anathema to its teachings. Name one of Aberration, Celestial, Construct, Fey, Fiend, or Undead. You gain an expertise die on checks made to recall facts about creatures of that type.

Vegetarian
In exchange for not eating the flesh of animals (you may still consume dairy products and eggs, but there is no exception for fish, insects, or other non-mammal/bird flesh), you gain an expertise die on Animal Handling and Nature rolls that involve animals.
 

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