Friday, 26 July 2013

Let's Talk Clerics

They are all "lawful." They are lawful in that they are obedient to the decrees of their God. This morning, their commands that all his/her Clerics, everywhere, do twenty pushups, no Cleric of said God decides, 'Naw, I'm not going to do those pushups.' They do the pushups; they are loyal to their God.

They are "lawful." The decrees and laws of men do not enter that equation. Whether the God is Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic simply refers to the God's attitude towards the "world of men." Is the God helpful to the world of men, harmful, or just doesn't care?

Clerics are not obligated to obey the laws and decrees of the King, Duke, Count or Baron, just as the Paladin isn't.

But, what I really want to talk about is: Spells. The spells of Clerics have no "level," not really. No Cleric can "heal" a person of his/her own volition. This is confirmed by the fact that Magicians can't heal people. When Clerics cast their spells, they are, in truth, asking their God for a favor. The nature of the spell determines just how big a "favor" the Cleric is asking for.

I use the spell levels, of course, it simplifies matters . . . but there are exceptions: three of them. Raise Dead (5th), Resurrection (7th) and True Resurrection (9th). These are "big favors" and there is nothing you can do to earn such a favor. Will your God bring this person back for you, or won't he/she? That's what my percentile dice determines. Your character's "level" plays no part whatsoever.

Neither does the dead person's religion. In the computer game Temple of Elemental Evil, your group fights Iuz. Some of you will die. St Cuthbert will appear and will cast True Resurrection upon anyone who's died. 

Wait a minute! What if We Jas doesn't want her follower Resurrected?

Too bad, because Cuthbert raises everybody. The Gods make their own "deals." Your God can and will Resurrect anyone he/she wants to, period. But, will your God do it for you.

In other words, if a 2nd level character in my game wishes to attempt Raise Dead, they are welcome to try. There's no such thing as "it's a 5th level spell!" Not in my game. Any Cleric can ask his/her God for this favor at any level they wish to, the percentile die will determine whether or not it works.

Does the percentage increase for higher level Clerics? Sometimes, it depends. On what? Well, it's not going to work "better" just because you're a "higher" level character. As a higher level character, it is presumed that you have done "more" for your God's worship, though that is not necessarily true.

It is assumed – and in my game I'll know – that you donated more money than a lower level character, you've converted more people to your God's worship, you've erected more temples in his/her name. All because you have – presumably – been doing it longer than a lower level Cleric.

But levels also reflect Hit Die, Hit Points, Skills, Feats, et al. So it is possible to be 20th level and have a poorer chance of Raising someone than would a 5th level Cleric. Why? Because you're "greedy." You give less money and less time to your God. Money and time necessary to build a temple. Time necessary to gather and convert worshipers, etc.

So these three spells – Raise Dead, Resurrection and True Resurrection – are available to all the Clerics in my game, regardless of their character's level. That's just how I play it.

No Cleric will ever bring someone back from the dead of their own power; only the power of their God will do it. So, does your God feel like doing you a favor? Have you given him/her a reason to?


  1. Mystic,

    I agree with your take that all clerics are lawful to an extent. I for one never assign the gods alignment. I let their portfolios speak for themselves. Many underground races may think of the sun and its light as evil. Others may see the god of the dead in a positive light. He ends the suffering men must experience in life. Death is also part of the natural cycle. One cannot have life unless death exists to counter balance it.

    I only allow for priests of the dead to attempt any form of resurrection. Priests of other deities cannot Raise Dead or perform resurrection. In the rare case something like that is granted. "A Soul for a Soul", by making the choice to raise someones companion you are making the conscience decision to allow someone else to take their place.

    As the DM you have control over killing characters or not. Behind your screen its ok to fudge a roll if it helps out the game. However, I don't believe in the DM versus the player approach. Instead everyone should enjoy playing the game. When my NPC's die I don't rush to get them resurrected. This would cause the players to cry foul if the NPCs could be resurrected quicker then their characters.

    Your version works in your game and that's fine. I took an alternate route. I like death to be final more often then not.

    Just my two hands!



  2. I also prefer that death be final, my point simply was that you don't have to be a 18th level Cleric to attempt what people think of as a 9th level spell.

    Those spells are not assigned "levels" in my game. It's just a percentage chance of whether or not your God wants to do you the favor.

    As for only allowing Clerics of "Gods of Death" to perform such deeds, Wee Jas is a Goddess of Death, the problem is that followers of Pelor don't go to her realm. Without Pelor's cooperation, she can't "take" one of his followers and Raise them.

    Also, most "Gods of Death" in the game are not the highest ranking -- a.k.a. most powerful -- Gods. To say that they can do something a more powerful God can't do is silly. Wee Jas is the "vice-president of death" until she's reassigned to another department, then she's the "vice president of entertainment.

    That's basically a . . . Folio. ;)