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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Re-Examining the Cleric Without Spells Gimmick

The thing about the “Cleric Without Spells” concept that I think people are finding intriguing is not the trivial aspect of not having cleric spells. Technically, I didn’t get rid of cleric spells at all when I wrote that post. I used the existing spells as a guide to see how likely it would be for the cleric’s s request for a miracle to be granted.

No, what I think people are looking for is a cleric that feels different from magic-users. Not just another class that has a different spell list, but one that has a different approach to supernatural power.

What I’m wondering, though, as I consider ways to develop the idea further, is: how different do other, similar classes have to be to likewise feel different and not just a retread?

Shortly after the original “Clerics Without Spells”, I did write-ups on a couple other classes that used the reaction roll/turn undead mechanic:
  • Mesmerist (hypnotizes people for mind control/illusion effects)
  • Weather Worker (bargains with spirits for weather changes)
  • Necrocmancer (controls spirits of the dead)
  • Beast Master (charms wild animals, controls animal helpers, shapeshifts)
These classes don’t all use the exact same rules. Mesmerists are the closest to clerics, in the sense that they use a reaction roll + the Illusionist spell list to effect their powers. Weather Workers are similar, but needed some weather-working spells as a guide to what they could do. Necromancers aren’t too far off, but have no special spell list, just using a selection from the M-U list. Beast Masters have no spells, just some rules on how to implement their ability to speak with, charm, or evoke beasts and beast-powers.

But how desirable are these classes, really? Will they feel different enough?

That’s a big question I’m going to need to answer.

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  1. There was a Holmes-style monk floating around that is based on the same idea. Not a fighting monk but one who has at-will powers based on cleric spells.

    1. Scott, don't be so modest. Your iteration of my thought experiment (https://bloodofprokopius.blogspot.com/2018/03/holmes-cook-monk-redux-saintly-saturday.html) which is inspired by the Cleric-without-spells, is one that I quite like.