The Music of the Spheres

January 13, 2017

So, Divine magic.

That’s a…complicated bag of snakes. Kettle of worms. Can of hammers. Traditionally, for some reason, Divine magic was basically Arcane magic with the serial numbers filed off and some weird aftermarket spells like “Cure Wounds” and “Slow Poison”. So either wildly useful or strangely useless.

We’re gonna change it. Partly by sticking to the hard spell idea, but really digging into the thematic part of it. Instead, Spheres or Domains are going to be the  most important thing to a Divine caster, and will inform how they act, how they cast, and how they see the world. Being a Divine caster should have some kind of obligation, since their devotion is what keeps their magic alive.

It’s always bothered me that Gods have these things you are or aren’t supposed to do and it was always ignored because the Cleric was just something you are. Arguably, Paladins have increasingly had more roleplaying mechanical flavor than Clerics have due to restrictions on when they lose access to their Paladin abilities. In that vein, Acolytes (and any future class, like Paladin, who uses Divine magic) should have, in my opinion, some kind of roleplaying restrictions based on their fundamental beliefs…the things that cause them to have access to divine magic.

To accomplish that, every Sphere or Domain (I haven’t settled on either name yet…or maybe there’s room for both in different ways, one a kind of “natural” power set the other tailored by a god? I’m not sure.) will have both a group of spells and a set of strictures. The strictures will be simple roleplaying oriented rules (Never Harm The Innocent, Always Respect Nature, Never Leave A Foe Alive) that fulfill the idea of that Sphere or Domain. An example;

Sphere: Heal (Good, Neutral, Lawful)

Edict: Never Refuse Aid

Spells: Cure Wounds, Aid, Bless, Heal, Resurrection

Smites: Smite Evil, Smite Chaotic, Lay on Hands, Purge Disease

Absolution: Saving a friend, healing an enemy, showing compassion against all odds

The Edict is the requirement of the Sphere (or Domain), the Spells are open to any Divine caster, and Smites can only be used by classes that have the Smite option. The obvious example of classes that do is the Paladin, however other classes will have that option as well. Absolution is when, outside of a Long Rest, the cleric restores Faith. Each Sphere or Domain will have 3 of these. The cleric always restores their Divine caster levels in Faith.

Unlike Arcane casters, Divine casters will gain new Spheres, and thus new spells, on a regular basis rather than having the flexibility of creating their own. They do not, however, have to prepare anything. Spells will be written with a “zero mode” in mind and based on the number of SP (probably called Faith for Divine casters) the spell has a number of factors that change. For example;

Cure Wounds (Necromancy/Healing, Good, Lawful, Neutral)

Simple Action, Line of Sight, Uncontested

The cleric pours their faith into restoring their companions’ will  to fight, sealing minor wounds, restoring vigor, calming spirits, and easing aches and pains. For every point of Faith expended on Cure Wounds, the healed character adds a d6 plus the cleric’s level in HP to their current HP.

So, now that you have the primer on Divine magic, next time I’ll talk about the Acolyte base class.

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