Monday, May 28, 2018

A Cleric Without "Spells"

Image result for howls in the nightRecently, while one of my "Homeguard" players finished up a Castle Greyhawk adventure that I tied into UK module "The Gauntlet," the other took a break from regular fare to play "Howls in the Night," a 1994 Ravenloft stand-alone module that takes its inspiration from The Hound of the Baskervilles. 

It aims to be primarily investigative and social, not unlike a Call of Cthulhu scenario, but feels the obligation to throw in a series of combat encounters about 2/3rds of the way in ... presumably because players would be getting antsy to kick some butt by that point.

My solo player whipped up three second or third level characters in a couple minutes on a few index cards--a thief, a fighter, and a cleric. 

I don't particularly care for the cleric class outside of a vampire hunter roll, and I find that if I place the Cure Light Wounds and Turn Undead as spells on the Magic-User list, that clerics seldom get played, but since this was Ravenloft it fit nicely.  

Image result for arthur dimmesdale praying
As an experiment, to support the tone of the setting (which was much more Elizabethan than mediaeval), rather than have the cleric choose spells from a list, we just asserted that she could seek divine favor from time to time.  The player wouldn't be able to specify the effects, but this would work as an opportunity to "invoke DM fiat."  The cleric wouldn't always be able to tell what the effect was or even if her pleas had been heard, but the effects would generally be subtle and would approximate the impact / power level of 1st level clerical magic. 

We found that this worked very satisfactorily for this setting and storyline, and since any mechanical effects were handled  strictly by the DM, it created uncertainty that complimented the tone.

Pre-prepared clerical magic has often struck me as odd ... the priest will decide eight hours in advance, apart from any context, what divine miracle she is going to require?

Third edition's spontaneous healing option felt like a better fit for the class.
Have you ever tinkered around with the cleric class?
What did you try and how did it work out?

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