Thursday, September 8, 2016

Breaking Up with the Cleric Class

Having thought a bit about undead and clerical turning recently, I think I'm at a place where (despite its traditional position as one of the "core four"), I'm not really seeing a great deal of value in the cleric class any longer.

  • If you want an armored warrior who only uses a mace, hammer, wiffle bat, etc., then just make a fighter and play her that way.  All weapon restrictions are removed, but since I use D6 for most everything that's just flavor anyway.
  • Ditto if you want a character who follows a holy code of ethics--go for it--it just isn't reflected mechanically but instead via the player's role-playing.
  • Clerical spells, including the all-important Cure Light Wounds,  are folded into the magic-user and elf lists (though I think I'm going to split these for flavor).
  • Ferrous metals are inimical to magic, so you can forget about casting spells while coated in mail ... but then again, you may just have advantage on your saving throw when an enemy caster tries to ensorcell you.
  • Everyone can turn intelligent ("true") undead provided 1.) they present themselves as aligned with the Church (e.g. brandishing a holy symbol, chanting a prayer, dressing in vestments, or adorning their shield with the image of a revered saint--Arthur did this), 2.) they do not attack the creature via weapons or spells (any assault negates the turning), 3.) the creature fails a saving throw (1D20 + Hit Dice vs DC 15).  Naturally, mindless automatons are immune.  There can also be serious in-game implications for a lay-person trying to pass himself off as having been ordained should word get around!
Benefits
Image result for medieval monk1. flexibility: Sword swinging holy men? Check.  Robed holy men with supernatural powers? Check.  Spellcaster who isn't "just the healer"?  Check.  Adventuring party without the "mandatory" cleric?  Check.

 2. A side-step on the metaphysical reality of campaign world gods.  Magic is learned from mentors, old books, elves or other supernatural creatures.  Men do with it what they will--some use it for holy purposes, others infernal.

3. A new tactical layer for undead.  "Okay, we've prevented it from attacking us for now, but should we withdraw or assail it first?  And the way it's looking at us ... I'm sure it will recognize us in the future."

I don't plan to drop or limit either of the clerics in my current B/X Homeguard campaign, but as I run other pickup games or start other B/X campaigns I won't be offering that class as an option.