FrankenFourth: Meet the Cleric

If you want to see more details on what I'm talking about in this blog post, check out the FrankenFourth alpha document. It's got all the cleric stuff, plus a bunch of other stuff.

In most editions of Dungeons & Dragons, cleric "magic" operates under the same pseudo-Vancian system that wizards use, which doesn't make any sense. I've also never liked that magical healing in some form (whether spells, healing potions, wands, etc) is basically mandatory: I think clerics/magical healing should be useful, but the game should still work without one.

So, I've designed the cleric class and various parts of the game (such as the Wound/Vitality split and armor-as-damage-reduction) to address these issues, while also giving clerics stronger ties to their god.

Wounds & Vitality
As with D&D, clerics are slightly less durable than fighters: they start with 1 fewer Wound and Vitality Point at 1st-level, and when they level up they get 1 fewer Wound Point (Vitality Points are the same).

Proficiencies & Skills
Clerics can use simple weapons, unless they have the War Domain talent, in which case they can use any weapon. They can wear up to medium armor and normal shields at the start. Maybe I'll change it to just light armor, and have the Protection Domain give you access to medium armor and shields, or let you pick two talents, one of which can give you access to heavier armor/shields (and if you want to play an unarmored cleric, the Divine Aegis tree has you covered).

For skills, you get Religion automatically and can choose two more. This way you don't gotta worry about bullshitting up a background just so you can pick the skills you want. So, if you want to be a cleric that worships a thief god, you can simply choose Stealth and Thievery.

Class Features
Clerics start with Favor points, a prayer, a Domain talent, lance of faith, and Religious Lore.

Religious Lore gives you a +5 bonus when you make a Religion check to see if you know something that relates to your god in some manner. Originally I had a sidebar that explained that Difficulties for clerics making a lore check to know stuff about their god should be lower than normal (for example, 15 for everyone else and 10 for the cleric), but people kept telling me that it would be easier to just give them a hefty bonus.

There are currently three prayers to choose from: one gives you a bonus to damage, another reduces damage when you take Wound damage, and the other bumps up your Armor rating. I'm thinking of removing them entirely, making them into their own talents, or folding them into other talents (especially if I decide to give clerics a second talent choice at the start).

Favor points are a currency that clerics use to activate various cleric talents, though some require you to have at least 1 Favor in order for them to work. Clerics start with an amount equal to your Wisdom (again, stats in FrankenFourth are just a modifier, so most clerics will have 2-3 not 14 or so), and you gain a point every time you level up. When you spend a short rest (about 30 minutes) praying to your god, you set your Favor to its maximum (though maybe it should be something like 10 minutes per point, and/or sacrifice materials to gain Favor back much more quickly).

What helps differentiate cleric magic from wizard magic is that you don't spend a random amount of points, and you can't hurt yourself: if you don't have any Favor, you can't use a talent that require you to spend Favor (and you lose access to talents that require 1 or more Favor available). You also get fewer points overall, and they're tied to Wisdom. Plus, if you go against your religion's dogma, your god can at any point revoke your divine powers.

Lance of faith is a relatively recent addition to the cleric's repertoire: you can spend 1 Favor point to make a ranged attack that relies on your Wisdom. Talents could modify this, so if you worship a god of storms a talent could change it to lightning damage and also bump up the damage die.

Instead of having access to a bunch of spells, you get to choose a Domain talent, which can be any that belong to your god's portfolio (there's no cap on Domains, though the GM might limit how many your god can have). Currently you can choose from the Healing, Protection, and War Domains: the Healing Domain lets you spend Favor to reduce damage that a creature suffers by 1d4 points, to a minimum of 1, Protection lets you spend Favor to force an enemy to re-roll an attack, and War lets you use any weapon, plus spend Favor to re-roll a failed attack.

Obviously there will be more Domain talents to choose from later (Fire, Storms, Sun, Crafting, Winter, Hunting, etc), but for now I want to keep things simple.

At Higher Levels
At levels 2-5 you get to choose another talent, and lance of faith will automatically deal increased damage at certain levels (probably every 5). As with the fighter, you can rank up a talent you already have, or branch out into other abilities or Domains (if your god has access to more Domains). Not only do you get to better control how complex your cleric is, it also avoids the issue of clerics getting immediate access to a heap of new spells with each new splatbook that comes out.

Some cleric talents are essentially divine rituals, which let you do stuff like bless weapons for a period of time, restore Wound damage, and even bring someone back to life. The downside is that they cost time and money, so normally can't be used in combat without the Divine Intervention talent (use a ritual as an action, but you gotta pay the cost as soon as possible or bad things will happen). For example, Miracle of Healing requires 10 minutes and a 50 sp sacrifice: when it's done, the recipient regains 5 Wound Points.

Something I haven't added, but will, is a "turning" ability, though it'll be more like our Dungeon World cleric in that you choose a category of creatures that gets turned/damaged/destroyed, instead of just being saddled with undead.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Paladin is out, and we're holding the next Dungeon World class vote now!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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