D&D General The Not-Cleric Class for the Other Powers

Voadam

Legend
In 2e classes devoted to gods could be further specialized by specialty priest classes each tailored for individual gods or concepts. This was sort of the high water mark of diversity of specialized classes devoted to supernatural powers. Complete Priest Handbook, Legend & Lore, Faiths & Avatars, Powers & Pantheons, Demihuman Deities, Monster Mythology, From the Ashes, and a number of others provided lots of specialized classes.

Dragon magazine in 1e had the Death Master as devotees of Orcus.

2e Maztica had the Eagle and Jaguar knights for their specific pantheon in a similar niche to paladins.

3e I believe the OGL Book of the Righteous and Arcanis had individual classes tailored to the specific gods of their pantheons for both cleric and paladin roles.
 

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DammitVictor

Trust the Fungus
Supporter
I have my issues with the worldbuilding and implied worldbuilding of D&D and its faux polytheism.

In my current homebrew project, I'm breaking it up more or less by creature type: angels have Acolytes (and Holy Knights); genies, dragons, and elementals have Sorcerers (think Wu Jen/Shugenja with bits of Sha'ir and Kineticist); humanoids, plants, and animals have Shamans; fiends have Warlock and Hexblade; and fey, aberrations, the undead, and... well, the self-taught and self-empowered share the Witch and Magician classes. Each has its own specialties and subclasses.

What I would dearly love to see is a "traditional" D&D fantasy setting with the traditional 2-4 dozen gods divided up into 4-5 realistic tight pantheons, along with 2-3 animistic or otherwise nontheistic belief systems. They would have their own classes and subclasses, replacing the existing standard spellcasters, and different races/cultures would have different access to and options for them.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Why do gods devoted to Life grant the ability to inflict wounds and channel undeath?
Why is the player of the Snake god picking Life domain rather than a subclass that fits the concept of their deity? In several cultures Snakes are wise, and represent healers.

Representing how your cleric's deity differs from the baseline is the point of the subclasses - They grant spells and other abilities that represent aspects special to their deity.
Even normal spells can be flavoured: The cthuloid entity grants a bolt of pure star-stuff , and whoever gazes upon its target is granted visions of its future position. It blesses the minds of its servant's allies, opening them to discern patterns of fate usually barred to the sane!

If you prefer a different class structure to represent your character being empowered by a powerful being, you could look at Warlock, Druid or Sorceror perhaps?
But that's the point of this thought experiment.

The core of the cleric and paladin's spell list is around healing, restoration, radiant energy, destroying undead and fiends, and summonings celestials. This is what it is to be Divine in D&D.

But D&D and many fans lump a bunch of powerful beings that do not have these themes into the Divine bucket and letting them create clerics with these themes.

Does an Aesir, Vanir, and Jotunn beam down the same energy to their agents and only sprinkle in their theme as suubclasses? Does a chulutonic entity envelop their agents with the same magics as a dragon-god of water and a magic oath to the King?

If D&D is going to lump all these beings together into the divine, then the cleric class should be a lot more flexible.

If D&D is going to restrain the cleric and paladin's magic for narrative and/or balance purposes, then additional resources to either alter the classes or create new ones should be warranted.

Like @Voadam stated, there used to be more priest classes and resources to alter priests in older editions. Perhaps a deep dive into worldbuilding would suggest an inclusion of a cleric specialization variant rule or additional priestly classes?
 

Mind of tempest

(he/him)advocate for 5e psionics
my first reading was more something that did the same job as cleric or paladin but non-worshiping based on something wholely different likely something neutral.

my other conclusion is that theurgic classes (cleric, druid, paladin warlock) need a massive overhaul to better represent what they should be but in such a way you can easily build what we are used to without much time or effort
 

Well that's the question I am posing.

Would a massive primordial being of raw elemental earth and fire grant you the ability to cure wounds and raise the dead and summon angels?

Or would you get magma blast, death pyre, lava leap, and Channel Elements: Heat Vision?

Would a horror from another warped reality with otherworldly mind powers give you memory hole and id insinuation or guiding bolt and bless?

Would ritualistically consuming the scales of a primeval monster who are the first god of snakes let you breath its frost, grow its wings onto others, and regenerate your skin like the swallowed scale? Or do you become a light cleric?

D&D settings and many nonD&D settings have beings as powerful as the gods but with completely different natures and philosophy than the gods. The question is if they are that different, would they have a different class or power source based on their different connection to mortals.
I want all those magma spells asap along with hear vision. That sounds hella fun
 

ezo

Where is that Singe?
I'm just going to throw this out there:

The EGO Cleric
1706921595606.png

Diety: self
Holy Symbol: mirror with inlaid outline of sunglasses
Spells Granted: whatever you want

:giggle:

Me and a friend of mine used to joke about this one a lot.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Like @Voadam stated, there used to be more priest classes and resources to alter priests in older editions. Perhaps a deep dive into worldbuilding would suggest an inclusion of a cleric specialization variant rule or additional priestly classes?
If it's just spell selection, that can be done by the player?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
my first reading was more something that did the same job as cleric or paladin but non-worshiping based on something wholely different likely something neutral.

my other conclusion is that theurgic classes (cleric, druid, paladin warlock) need a massive overhaul to better represent what they should be but in such a way you can easily build what we are used to without much time or effort
One thing I pondered was to do a trimmed down version of 2e's Spheres and have the priestly classes under the domains

  • Death
  • Knowledge
  • Life
  • Light
  • Nature
  • Tempest
  • Trickery
  • War
The Cleric would default to Major in Life or Death and Light then choose a Minor sphere or upgrade a major to a Greater sphere as a domain.
Whereas the Druid can choose to Major Nature or Tempest.
Each paladin oath would minor in a Sphere
Warlocks wold get exclusive access to the Eldritch sphere and get more with patrons

If it's just spell selection, that can be done by the player?
Some spells that would be appropriate for some deities and other powers are not on the spell lists of current divine classes. And adding them would imbalance them.

That's the issue. The cleric and paladin spell lists and their subclass spell lists are not fitting for all beings which are powerful enough to grant magic. So lumping them all with cleric or paladin is illfitting.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
One thing I pondered was to do a trimmed down version of 2e's Spheres and have the priestly classes under the domains

  • Death
  • Knowledge
  • Life
  • Light
  • Nature
  • Tempest
  • Trickery
  • War
The Cleric would default to Major in Life or Death and Light then choose a Minor sphere or upgrade a major to a Greater sphere as a domain.
Whereas the Druid can choose to Major Nature or Tempest.
Each paladin oath would minor in a Sphere
Warlocks wold get exclusive access to the Eldritch sphere and get more with patrons


Some spells that would be appropriate for some deities and other powers are not on the spell lists of current divine classes. And adding them would imbalance them.

That's the issue. The cleric and paladin spell lists and their subclass spell lists are not fitting for all beings which are powerful enough to grant magic. So lumping them all with cleric or paladin is illfitting.
But this is just new Domains, the subclass system for Clerics. I want a lot more of these!

For non-Divine, I'd lean Warlocks
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
But this is just new Domains, the subclass system for Clerics. I want a lot more of these!

For non-Divine, I'd lean Warlocks
It's more a rewrite of the cleric list.

Cut the Cleric spell list in 3: Life, Light, and Death.
DMs can allow the Cleric players to swap out Life, Light, or Death spells with War, Peace, or Darkness spells.
THEN choose a Domain to add a new spell list or upgrade one of the their current lists.

A warlock would not have Life, Death, Light, Darkness, War or Peace. Warlocks would have Eldritch. DMs can choose to allow for a switch to Doom or Vestige spells. Then they pick a patron for another.

A Druid would have Nature spells. DMs could allow for Primeval, Stars, Tempest.
 

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