HD&D: The Sun Sphere

A little while ago, I opened a design call on talents for clerics. Steve has come up trumps and provided details of five talents and five feats for the Sun Sphere. Well done Steve! Not one to rest on his laurels, Steve is already looking at the Luck Sphere. However, it is far from too late for anyone else to get involved. Follow the link to the previous post, pick a sphere and get cracking!

I’ll add my thoughts in the Comments section below the main post. In the meantime, I will hand over the floor to Steve:

Sun Sphere Talents

Blinding Aura (Cleric Talent)
When an opponent attempts to strike you their senses become dazzled.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
A creature is about to strike you
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere

Effect: Any opponent that attempts to strike you feels an intense burning light penetrating into their eyes, although anyone else who was observing would see no effect. Please note that this effect also applies to outsiders and undead even though they would not normally use their eyes (if they have any) to locate enemies. This talent grants an immediate interrupt of Wisdom versus Fortitude. If this succeeds the target is blinded and the penalties to hit for being unable to see your opponent apply to all attacks that they make before the start of their next turn. Undead creatures, outsiders and creatures associated with darkness or the plane of shadows are blinded until the end of their next turn. You can only make one blinding attempt against each opponent.

The Eternal Light (Cleric Talent)
You can emit sunlight from your body and cause touched objects to do the same.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action or Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Continuous Effect or 1 Day/level
Area of Effect: Personal/Creature in 20ft/1 object

Effect: This talent has two separate effects:

1) At will you can choose to emit sunlight from your body out to a range of 20ft. This effect cannot be dispelled or repressed by mortal magic and any areas of magical darkness will be repressed where it overlaps with the light. The light deals 0 points of radiant damage per round so although it will not harm most foes it will be effective against creatures which are radiant vulnerable. The light does count as natural sunlight for the purposes of creatures special weaknesses so it would be particularly effective against Drow and Vampires for example.

2) The cleric can imbue touched objects so that they emit magical light. This functions in exactly the same manner as the light spell except that the objects continue to emit light for a duration of 1 Day per level. The cleric can have many objects lit at a time subject to 1/level and the cleric can choose to end the effect on any object at any time. They can be carried an unlimited distance from the Cleric and will still function even after the Clerics death.

Searing Gaze (Cleric Talent)
You can project beams of sunlight from your eyes.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequisite:
Major Access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Target: One creature or Flammable Object

Effect: This talent grants a ranged attack from the eyes of the cleric, which can be used at will. The ranged attack can target a single flammable object or individual and is carried out using Wisdom against Reflex. Against an individual the attacks deals 2d4 + the Clerics Level in Radiant damage which ignores Armour Class. Against an object the light is mitigated by the objects hardness but this can be overcome by maintaining the beam for consecutive rounds. For each consecutive round that the beam is maintained against an object its hardness is treated as two points less. Whenever the beam exceeds the objects hardness and inflicts damage, the object catches light which causes an additional d4 damage to it each round (ignoring its hardness) until it is extinguished. Flammable objects include cloth, rope and wood.

Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Talent)
With a glance to the sky, one of your spells hurtles down from the sun itself catching your opponent unaware.
Recharge (special) | Supernatural, Radiant or Fire
Standard Action

Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of effect: As per component Spell

Effect: This talent can be applied to any spell in your repertoire with the Radiant or Fire key words once per day. You must be able to see the sky (whether the sun is visible or not) and must be able to see your target. The component spell originates in the sky above your target, instead of from you which effectively increase the range of the spell to the limit of your sight. The target does not have to be out in the open. For example, you and the target could be inside a castle but if you can see the sky through an open window and see your target then the talent can be applied. A spell that is used through this talent does not require any components, including your focus. You gain a bonus of +4 to any attack rolls to confirm a hit as the attack is somewhat unexpected. As the spell is fuelled by the energy of the sun, all damage dice are maximised.

Sunblock (Cleric Talent)
Your skin, respiratory system and other bodily functions adapt to protect you from the harmful effects of the sun.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere
Area of Effect: Personal

Effect: You become immune to all harmful effects of sun exposure including sunstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion and sun blindness. In addition, regardless of your environment you only require water enough to sustain you as if you were shaded and in a mild climate. Finally you gain resistance 10 to radiant damage. Please note that you are able to let enough light through your sunblock that you gain the customary bronze skin and bleached hair of a sun priest.

Sun Sphere Feats

Additional Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Feat)
You are able to use your Solarflare/Solarfire talent more often.
At-Will | Supernatural Radiant or Fire
Standard Action

Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: You may now use the Solarflare/Solarfire talent three times per day.

Banishing Light (Cleric Talent)
Your stunning light is so powerful that it may force unnatural enemies from this world.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
An undead creature, outider or creature of darkness succombs to stunning light.
Prerequisites: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Blinding Light talent, Stunning Light feat, 11th level

Effect: If an undead creature, outsider or creature of darkness / the shadow plane succumbs to your stunning light then you may make a third roll against them using Wisdom versus Will. If you succeed against an outsider or a creature from the shadow plane then they are banished back to their home plane and may not return for at least one day. A creature generally associated with darkness but not actually from the shadow plane is also sent to the shadow plane for a day, although they automatically return once this time has elapsed. An undead creatures link with the negative energy plane are disrupted causing all of their supernatural abilities to cease functioning for 1 round per 2 levels. Any energy drain abilities do not function for 1 round per level.

Disintegrating Gaze (Cleric Feat)
Your searing gaze can completely destroy non magical objects.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerquisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Searing Gaze talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: If you searing gaze damages a flammable non-magical object i.e. it exceeds its hardness; immediately roll 4d4 and add your level. If this total exceeds the objects remaining hit points the power of the sun completely disintegrates it without it bursting into flames. For example, this could be used against a blindfold or rope binding you and if successful would completely obliterate it without it catching light and causing any damage to you for being in contact with a flaming object.

Empowered Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Fear)
Your Solarflare/Solarfire talent now deals additional damage.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural Radiant or Fire
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: Your Solarflare/Solarfire talent now counts as empowered so deals one and a half times as much damage as it ordinarily wood.

Improved Sunblock (Cleric Feat)
The potency of your sunblock talent increases.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Sunblock talent, 4th level

Effect: Your resistance to radiant damage increases to 5 points per level.

Shattering/Vaporising Gaze (Cleric Feat)
Your searing gaze can also shatter glass and vaporise liquids.
At-Will | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequiste:
Major access to the Sun Sphere, Searing Gaze talent
Duration: Instantaneous

Effect: You can target your searing gaze against glass objects. They will crack when they first take a point of damage and will shatter completely when they lose all of their hit points. Alternatively you can focus your gaze on liquids, including those in glass containers. You can vaporise a small amount of liquid such as a vial of holy water or a potion in a single round, or can ignite flammable liquids such as oil or alchemists fire. You can heat larger volumes of water over consecutive rounds causing them to heat, simmer and eventually boil.

Stunning Light (Cleric Feat)
Creatures affected by your blinding light talent may also be stunned by its potency.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
A target succombs to your Blinding Light talent.
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Blinding Light talent, 6th level

Effect: If a creature succumbs to your blinding light you may make a second attack roll against them using Wisdom versus Will. If it succeeds then they are stunned until the beginning of their next turn. The blinding effect is postponed by 1 round and now commences at the beginning of their next turn lasting for 1 round, or two rounds if they are undead, outsiders or creatures associated with darkness or the plane of shadow.

Subtle Solarflare/Solarfire (Cleric Feat)
You can use your Solarflare/Solarfire talent with more subtlety.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant or Fire
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, Solarfire/Solarflare talent

Effect: You may now use the Solarflare/Solarfire talent when viewing your target through a portal, when scrying or while using any other divination device. In addition, you are now able to use mirrors, water and reflective surfaces to satisfy the conditions of being able to see the sky and your target.

Sunshade (Cleric Feat)
You are able to give the benefit of your Sunblock talent to your close allies.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural, Radiant
Move Action
Prerequisite: Major Access to the Sun Sphere, Sunblock talent, Improved Sunblock feat
Duration: 30 minutes/level to a maximum of 8 hours

Effect: Once per day as a move action you can project your sunblock talent so that it effects any allies within 10 ft. in a limited capacity. They gain all of the benefits of the talent, except that their resistance to radiant damage is half of yours.

Tokens of the sun god (Cleric Feat)
The objects which you are able to imbue with light giving properties also gain some of the effects of the light your body emits.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Radiant
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Sun Sphere, The Eternal Light talent
Duration: 1 Hour / level

Effect: For a limited time the objects which emit light as per the second use of the Eternal Light talent gain some additional effects. They cannot be dispelled or repressed by mortal magic and any areas of magical darkness will be repressed where it overlaps with the light. The light deals 0 points of radiant damage per round to any creature within 5 feet, so although it will not harm most foes it will be effective against creatures which are radiant vulnerable. The light does not count as natural sunlight.

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8 thoughts on “HD&D: The Sun Sphere

  1. Steve, the first thing I want to say is that you absolutely nailed this. You’ve certainly got your head around the whole talent/feat thing we have going in HD&D. The power levels seem spot on (or at least the same as the talents I’ve produced). There’s not a talent or feat above that I wouldn’t happily incoporate into the game.

    You’ve gone astray on a couple of the naming conventions or the format in places, but that’s small potatoes. It’s not as if you’ve had a style guide to work from. “Elemental Fire” is the name of the cleric sphere; “Fire” is still just fine as a descriptor. I changed that above to avoid confusion, but I’ve let everything else stand so we can chat about it.

    I’ll take each talent and its related feats in turn.

    Sunblock

    Definitely the sort of talent I would expect to see. Sun clerics should be immune to the effects of sitting out in the sun. Nice to see they still get a tan, though! The only thing I will say is that we should be careful not to confuse Radiant energy with the sun’s radiance.

    In HD&D Radiant energy is life energy, or positive energy as it was called in second and third edition. It doesn’t come from the sun. In that context it’s difficult to see a thematic link between the name of the talent, its other effects and the resistance bestowed.

    I can definitely see the need for sun clerics to be resistant to the damaging effects of the sun, but in HD&D (as in D&D) that damage would be Fire damage, not Radiant damage. Even now I can see Marc jumping up and down and yelling that the sun doesn’t inflict heat damage, it’s radiation. Now we don’t have a Radiation Descriptor in D&D (do we need one?) so I guess we make it Fire instead.

    But of course, these are Sun clerics we’re talking about – not fire clerics. So maybe their resistance needs to be less than Fire clerics. Just enough to avoid the damaging effects of the sun, but not enough to do much good against a fireball to the face?

    The feats are fine. Improved Sunblock is a nice way to increase the resistance. Especially if we say that Sunblock itself confers fire resistance, rather than radiant resistance. Clerics with access to the Elemental Fire and Sun spheres might still want to take Sublock and whatever Elemental Fire talent gives them fire resistance, then just wouldn’t take the feat.

    Sunsade is also fine. I’m not sure of the need to make it dependent on having Improved Sunblock though. Also not entirely convinced that this is so powerful that PCs have to wait until 11th level. I’d be interested to know your thinking behind that.

    Solarfire/Solarflare

    Happy for it to have just one name! Solarflare sounds better to me. Using the sun as the origin of your spell is an original concept, that gives the cleric some solid advantages. On first read it seems a little underpowered as talents go, but the feats make up for this. As a talent/feat combo I think Solarflare works rather well.

    I’m happy for Radiant spells to work this way, despite my misgivings around the Sunblock talent. Obviously, this talent’s main benefits are toward damage dealing spells like fireball or flame strike. This is fine, although we might want to spell that out a little more clearly in the description.

    The three feats here are also good, although I would stick a prerequisite of 11th level on Subtle Solarflare. Being able to drop a spell through a divinatory sensor is a powerful ability. Perhaps we could say that as long as you can see the sun, then you can hit anyone else who can also see the sun – but you must know exactly where that target is (which is where the scrying comes in). The spell is then delivered via the sun, as opposed to through the scrying link.

    By “see the sun” – I mean under an open sky. It would still work if there was cloud cover.

    The Eternal Light

    I like this one a lot. Again we have the association between the Sun and Radiant energy – which is not strictly the case. However, having the cleric glow with light – and making it true daylight – is an excellent move. Allowing the cleric to make torches with his touch, and making the torch more robust than an ordinary light spell is also on the money.

    The Sun Sphere would have been called the Light Domain in third edition. These are the powers I’m keen to see her. Stuff that illuminates, dazzles and blinds.

    Tokens of the Sun God in addition to being a feat with a really cool name, allows the effects of the cleric’s aura to be bestowed on the torches the cleric manufactures. Very nice. Still need to get over the Radiant energy issue, though.

    Blinding Aura

    Sun = light = blinding attacks. This talent ticks another box for me. There’s a little confusion over how this works. It’s described as an aura, but only seems to target one foe. Does the cleric go up like a Roman Candle, or is it something that can be specifically targeted – in which case isn’t it more a “Blinding Ray” than a “Blinding Aura”?

    Also the attack roll is Wisdom vs. Fortitude. We need to find a skill to hang that off. By default I have been using Spellcraft. Not sure what else fits the bill here.

    Stunning Light and Banishing Light are fine in principle. Not sure that we need additional attack rolls though. The feats just layer more effects on the talent, and one roll is all that is needed to discharge them all. It speeds up play, and otherwise probability states that the feat at the bottom of the chain (Banishing Light) will never go off.

    Banishing Light is a bit of a mixed bag. Blinding Aura has the Radiant keyword – which I would argue that it probably shouldn’t. Take away that and the ability becomes an intense flash of light. Blinding and Stunning, I can easily get behind. Banishing?

    Yes, Banishing I see if you’re focusing this on creatures made of darkness. Maybe, Monsters need a Darkness or Shadow descriptor that interfaces with this talent. However, I don’t see the power working on every undead creature. It would work on Shadows to be sure, but not because they were undead, but because they were, well… shadows.

    Severing an undead creature’s link to its supernatural abilities (similar to the old Wrench spell) maybe a little beyond the Sun Sphere. Maybe I can see it in the Elemental Life sphere, but not here. I’m willing to be convinced, though.

    Searing Gaze

    Now this is a bit like the old fire cleric ability, Unchaining the Flame. It may work slighting better in the context of the Sun sphere than the Fire one. There’s probably a stlightly less clumsy mechanic out there for directing this gaze against objects. Again I think that Fire rather than Radiant damage would be more appropriate.

    Now there’s no Hardness in HD&D. Objects have an Armour Class value (which works like hardness/damage reduction), but like normal HD&D Armour Class it doesn’t function against energy attacks. Instead some objects have energy resistance and energy vulnerability, just like characters do.

    I say this here, because it might offer some easier mechanics for Searing Gaze to play off. Rope, for example, has Vulnerable 5 Fire – so any fire attack on rope does +5 damage. Probably more than enough to burn away any bonds just by looking at them.

    Which probably makes Disintegrating Gaze rather redundant as a feat, unless you use it as a means to increase the damage inflicted by Searing Gaze. It’s 2d4 + your level at the moment, which isn’t too bad. Using a feat to give the talent a damage boost might be useful.

    Vaporising Gaze is quite cool, and not just for the mental image of the party sending the Sun cleric away to boil water for tea. I like the idea of being able to boil liquids inside vessels. Boiling away potions and (un)holy water strikes me as a worthy feat. I’d probably leave out the bit about destroying glass containers as Searing Gaze can do that anyway.

  2. On Radiant energy…

    Okay, I’ve just read through my own comments. You could argue that the Sun is the mythological font of all life. Many cultures and religions equate the Sun with fertility, and life. In that context, I can see an argument for saying that Radiant energy is an appropriate tool for the Sun sphere to use.

    We would need to be careful there was no crossover between the Sun sphere and the Elemental Life sphere, but that may not be impossible.

    So, I have an open mind about Radiant energy. Do your best to convince me further.

  3. Neil says:

    Just had a quick look at Steve’s attempt at cleric spheres; I disagree with INdran, I think sunblock (maybe a better name?) is a very appropriate talent. I would also say that the sun could be classed as a sort of meta power, half way between radiant and fire, not as powerful as either but broader in scope. I’m surprised you said that the sun flare talent was underpowered as I thought it was overpowered! Maximised damage, works out to line of sight, +4 to attack sounds a lot to me, though I suppose only once a day is poor. Personally I think that you should only be able to use this on opponents under an open sky, you could be under cover as long as you can see the opponent but he couldn’t. I see this as a similar effect as the “Hammer (of God?)” weapon in Gears of war.

    BTW of course the Sun deals heat damage, in the form of thermal radiation, as well as UV. In fact about half the sun’s output is thermal not UV. Only about 10% is UV.

  4. You see, I don’t need to understand science when I have you.

    I would be cautious about creating a new energy type, just for the sun sphere. There’s a balancing act between energy resistances and immunities. At the moment, these are the energy types at work in the game:

    Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Necrotic, Poison, Radiant, Thunder

    Out of all those (in my opinion) the energy of the sun most logically falls into the Fire category. We could make it a combined radiant/fire thing – although that would make it proportionally more powerful as beings with Fire resistance and Radiant resistance wouldn’t be able to defend against.

    Light is a descriptor. Could “Light” be an energy type in its own right?

  5. Neil says:

    Oh by the way why couldn’t the sun have both fire and radiant descriptors but the powers/talents/feats/resistances etc. are downpowered?

  6. Yes that could work.

    For example: Fire Clerics could have Resist Fire 10. Life Clerics could have Resist Radiant 10. Sun Clerics could have Resit Fire 5 and Resist Radiant 5.

    A Fireball from a 10th level fire priest might do 10d6 fire damage.
    A similar attack from a sun priest might do 5d6 combined fire and radiant damage.

    This is, indeed, something we could try.

  7. Hey Guys

    Neil M – I am quite happy to change the energy type from radiant to combined radiant/fire. To be honest I thought that the radiant type did represent light. There were a few light related spells in v3.5 such as searing light. As long as it remains distinct I would be happy.

    The blinding aura I imagined as being invisible except to an individual who is affected by it. Basically anyone in the aura who attempts to strike you sees the blinding light through whatever they use for senses. Quite happy to change the attack roll to spellcraft. I had additional attack rolls for the stunning and banishing in an attempt to balance the talent. If you think it is OK to run off one attack roll then that is fine with me. You may have a point on the banishing. I just thought that banishing creatures is cool and shadow/dark creatures are too uncommon for the feat to be good value. I might change that feat to something else that fits a little better in the next version.

    I also agree with your comments on searing gaze and Solarflare.

    Neil S – I must admit that I agree that Solarflare is closer to being overpowered than underpowered. The daily usage is crucial as otherwise you would be able to outrange any opponent and destroy them before they reached you. However, a single attack, albeit a maximised one, seemed OK.

    Thanks for your defense of the sunblock. I think Indrans objections were to the name. I quite like it though as it is exactly what it says on the tin. I didn’t bother creating a more flowery name for the sake of it. There are plenty of spells like ‘Dig’ which describe in simple terms what they do.

  8. I’m happy with a prosaic name like “Sunblock”.

    I guess the reason I thought Solarfire may be a little underpowered, was my fear you might not be able to use the talent to its full potential very often. Solarflare works best against a foe a very long way away, who doesn’t expect the attack at all.

    How often does that happen in the context of a roleplaying game? Sure, it has happened, but it’s not something that crops up in every fight. At which point Solarflare becomes a slightly less versatile version of the feat Maximise Spell, which anyone can take.

    On balance, I think its fine. But that’s the explanation of why I think it may be less attractive to a player then perhaps it should be.

    I see how you intend Blinding Aura to work now. Yes, that could be interesting. Anyone who attacks you is potentially blinded. The balance here is that its an Immediate Reaction, so the cleric can only pull it off once per round. Did you intend for it to work against melee attacks only, or would it work on ranged, close and far attacks?

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