My first stab at a New Deal version of the Cleric engendered a frank and forthright exchange of views. Since that post Daniel has created his own version of the cleric that better reflects the Pathfinder rules as they were intended. Equally, I’ve reconsidered my approach and created a new version of the cleric as well. They are both presented in this post.
I’ll state now that both versions of the cleric as presented here are workable enough to use in an Iourn campaign without causing too many ripples to either the system or the setting. Daniel’s version fit in much better with the power level of the cleric as he’s presented in the rulebooks. My version makes the cleric a little more versatile than he was before, although not really any more powerful. It’s a matter of taste. Obviously, I prefer my version or I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of creating it, but have a look at both below and see what you think.
If the Moon Gods were released as part of the official Pathfinder game then this is probably how they would be presented. Daniel has taken the cleric as it appears in the rules, and created an Archetype for Moon Faith clerics, that is further modified depending which god is worshipped (only Calafax is shown here). The archetype swaps out some class abilities for others. So the Channel Energy ability (that’s never been something Iourn clerics can do anyway) has been swapped out to make way for a third domain, thus giving the clerics a wider spell choice and some of the signature abilities that they’ve always enjoyd in Iourn games.
There have also been a few tweaks to some of the existing powers. Clerics of Calafax spontaneously cast their domain spells instead of the usual cure or inflict spells that are available to most clerics. Daniel has created brand new subdomains (Bombasticism, Firestarting and Warmaking) to help introduce some of the variety required by the sub-faiths of Calafax. The Deity Domain that I introduced in my last post, now adds a couple of skills to the list of the cleric’s class skills to help flesh out the idiosyncracies of clerics of fire.
Thre are some obvious nit-picks. The balance of class skills probably isn’t quite right. Warmakers don’t need Streetwise, they need Ride or Knowledge (engineering). Equally Bombastics could do with a bit of Stealth and Disguise. The text of the powers as written (Mastery of Flame, Unchaining the Flame) aren’t really good enough – but that’s my fault and not Daniel’s as the text was taken directly from the Iourn site.
But these are very minor points and easily addressed. Subdomains could suggest a faith-specific skill or skills that could be swapped into the generic cleric’s list of class skills. The powers could be rewritten. These aren’t elements that I have a problem with as they are easily adjusted. However, there are two stumbling blocks to me accepting that this approach is the best way forward:
The first is that there’s less customisation for the cleric than I’d like. The lists of domain spells are still rather short. Clerics of Calafax wouldn’t have access to a wide variety of fire spells. They’d bascially be stuck with the nine spells in the Fire domain, which doesn’t strike me as right. A wizard shouldn’t be able to do more with fire than a cleric of Calafax. They are the masters. Also by splitting some other abilities over the new sub-domains we make it tricky to recreate past characters. As Steve pointed out in a comment in the last post on the Cleric, Nicos is a Firestarter with access to the Unchaining the Flame power. But to get that power again under this system he’d need the Bombasticism domain… and that does seem wrong.
Secondly, and more importantly, this approach only solves the probelm of Moon God clerics… not every other religion in the system. You see I don’t really want to use the generic cleric for anything. Cleric of Moradin, or Llolth or Azygous all need an equal degree of customisation. They all need their own unique powers and wider spell lists. I don’t want to give those clerics those things at the expense of the Channel Energy class ability. I think that Channel Energy is crucial to making the class feel like a Pathfinder cleric – it’s Pathfinder’s big idea reagarding clerics and I don’t want to lose it from the system. Plus it’s a big chunk of rules we’d never use.
My first approach to a New Deal cleric was dead wrong. I shouldn’t have been looking at making the changes I wanted to the cleric via an archetype. I should be been changing the base cleric itself. By changing some elements of the base class to allow a greater degree of customisation, we’re then able to use archetypes to make more fundamental (but fair) changes. So keep Daniel’s version of the cleric in mind, as you may think that’s a better approach, and have a look at my second attempt:
Now, I’ve included the full text of the cleric so the changes I’ve made may not be immediately obvious. So here’s a list of the changes that have been made to the base cleric class:
- All clerics must choose a deity. There are no generic godless clerics on Iourn.
- The cleric learns new spells as a wizard. We already discussed this rule change and everyone thought it was a good idea. It’s now incorporated into the text of the cleric class.
- All clerics gain a third domain, which must be the Deity Domain. This is an extra on top of their normal abilities.
- Each domain offers a wider selection of spells than just nine. Basically all thematically appropriate spells can be made available to the cleric through the domain. This doesn’t affect the number of spells the cleric knows, but it gives him a wider and idiomatic selection to choose from.
- Domain spells have been completely folded into the cleric’s normal spells. There is no longer a domain spell slot, nor any special rules regarding domain spells.
- Each domain grants two powers, but those powers aren’t all immediately available. Domain powers are gained at levels 1, 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20.
I haven’t made any changes to the Deity Domain for Calafax at all since the last post. It’s merely an extra domain for clerics of Calafax. I’m not entirely happy with the text of the Fiery Aura power, but it will suffice for the moment. Note that among the spells it grants are reworked versions of old powers Unchaining the Flame and Mastery of Flame. Having these as spells makes the powers available to any cleric of Calafax, but not to priets of other religions.
All the other domains and subdomains are unchanged. I’ve introduced the new Warbound subdomain to allow clerics with access to the War domain to have the option to gain a power that gives them proficiency in all martial weapons, heavy armour and tower shields. I take the point that it was too much to layer into an archetype. Whether a cleric would take this subdomain or simply dip into a level of fighter is debatable, but the option is there.
Which brings us to the Archetype. I’d like to try to create just one Archetype per god, so the Cleric of Calafax Archetype covers the differences between the three sub-faiths, but will also repeat the lunar spellcasting and lunar powers ability that is common to all Moon Faiths. I think this is the best way to do it. I didn’t want to have to create multiple archetypes if I didn’t have to.
The archetype reflavours Channel Energy and Spontaneous Casting into something that really makes these clerics seem like clerics of fire. I quite like Spontaenous Casting applying to a descriptor or a subschool rather than specific spells. Plus the increased number of domain spells means that it’s simply not possible to take Daniel’s approach here, sensible as it seems.
Each sub-faith swap three skills into their classs skill list. Although it was tricky finding appropriate skills to give up, I think this approach works the best as it has a net neutral result. You can imagine clerics of drow god Vhaeraun adding skills like Stealth and Disable Device into their class skill list, so this will work well as a principle to apply to all faiths.
The fundamental difference between my approach and Daniel’s is that rather than swapping out existing abilities of the published cleric, I’m creating a brand new cleric: one that is more suited to what I want to do with it in Iourn. It’s an approach that can apply equally to all religions – not just the Moon Faiths. I’m deliberately not changing the fundamental elements of the Pathfinder Cleric. So we get to keep Channel Energy, which I think is important within the system. On the whole, I consider this minimal tinkering – and it’s a version of the cleric that I can live with.
Is it too powerful? I don’t think it is. Is it more powerful? Well, I’m not entirely sure of that either.
There are going to be much wider variations of the cleric under these rules than under either the published rules or Daniel’s version. The wider domain spell lists means that players will probably pick up spells that most accurately represent their character’s faith. Clerics of Fire are going to take the role of Artillery, not healers. Clerics of Vhaeraun will be sneakier than most rogues. But that’s always been the case in Iourn, and I would argue that it’s a desirable state of affairs. Clerics should be highly specialised. However, at the same time they still have access to the generic Cleric’s spell list so Steve’s old (and wholly justified) complaint that Nicos was a bit of a one-trick pony will be laid to rest.
The wider spell-lists (and third domain of spells) only give players more choice. The rules don’t actually give them more spells. They know the same number of spells they ever did; and can still only cast a certain number of spells per day. The added domain powers are something a bit different.
I accept that the Deity Domain powers are more powerful than anything you’ll find in a published book. BUT these are powers enshrined in the lore of the setting. They have narrative power behind them and there is no way (whatever system we use) that these powers are not going to be available. They’re in Daniel’s version as well. By spreading out the acquisition of these powers across the cleric’s 20-level progression I hope that I’ve succeeded in not top-loading the class at first level. I also think there’s more reason to play a straight cleric all the way through to level 20 now without some form of multiclassing.
A further note for Steve: To answer Steve’s questions in the comments of the last post on clerics… There’s no reason why the Firewalker cannot simply remain a Template as before be layered on top of all these changes. Templates still exist in Pathfinder, and because there are no rules for Equivalent Character Level (ECL) they are easier to apply. You’re rigth that there’s no Rebirth domain. There are a few ways to go here… we could say that the lack of resurrection magic from other churches is a cultural and ethical thing, rather than a mechanical thing. Sure a priest of Terranor could cast resurrection, but he’s simply not inclined to. Never underestimate religious dogma. Or we could make magic that raises the dead extremely rare and give the clerics of Calafax a spell available through their Deity Domain (that no other priesthood could cast) that restores the dead. So there are lots of options here.
This isn’t a straight choice between Daniel’s version of the cleric and mine. We should discuss both and see what elements are our favourites. They have the advantage of being two different approaches to the same problem, so hopefully we should come up with a definitive result this time.
Go to the Pathfinder: The New Deal index