Friday, April 27, 2018

Giving Clerics Their Due

In the DCC RPG ruleset, many have noted that Wizards are given an extraordinary level of awesome, whereas Clerics sort of get shafted.  A huge amount of space is dedicated to Wizard corruptions, spells, how they find spells, and Wizard patrons.

Clerics have fewer official spells, all the deities get a single line in a table with just their name and alignment, and all Clerics for all deities are given a single Disapproval table that they always roll on.  This contrasted with pages and pages of example patrons with complete flavor text descriptions, invoke patron results, patron taints, and patron spells.

In a recent episode of Spellburn, one of the hosts went so far as to say Clerics are useless, suggesting that they should just be combined with Wizards.

All of this is massively unfair to the Cleric class.

I think it's possible to make Clerics just as cool and flavor-filled as their arcane comrades.  In fact, the rulebook already contains  everything you need to build on, but I never see them built on explicitly.

A deity should be just as complicated, or moreso, than a patron.  A patron is a lone supernatural eccentric with twisted plans and motives who works through mortal tools, but is otherwise largely hidden.  A deity is an established super-supernatural entity made known to mortals in the world and worshipped by some sort of established organized religion.

You need to customize your deities, similar to how you make patrons.

When making write-ups for deities, here are some things to figure out:
  • deity's holy symbol
  • deity's mark of disapproval, given to fallen priests
  • sacred texts of this religion
  • moral requirements and membership requirements
  • particular lists of unholy creatures and allowed weapons
  • a custom Disapproval table based on this deity's religion
  • the spells that this deity grants to a Cleric
  • the particular deity spells that only this deity will grant
  • name of religious order(s) devoted to this deity, and its hierarchy
All of these things are going to have actual impact on the gameplay.

I'm going to flesh these points out with some examples, but TL;DR, the most critical things are moral requirements, custom Disapproval tables, and custom deity spells.  (And much of this isn't limited to DCC, but also applies to D&D and other RPGs)