Saturday, July 19, 2014

No More Clerics

I do not like clerics. They don't fit their supposed niche as holy warriors. They're just sort of half-assed spell casters who only use blunt weapons for… reasons. They aren’t anything like St. George, a Knight Templar, nor Sir Gawain. Paladins actually fill that role and do it well while looking the part.

I did/do like specialty priests in 2e. In fact when I ran 2e, I only allowed specialty priests. If you wanted to worship a god for magics, you should look like you worshiped that god, instead of say, looking like a dude/dudette with a mace who said “Thor” instead of “Zues” or “Jesus” or “Whateverius”. So while I've been busy house-ruling LotFP, I've decided to drop clerics entirely.

Yet, there is a long tradition of gods, demons, and godlings granting folk magical power via ritual in history, myth, and literature.

So I gave all the cleric spells to magic users, with some caveats. 

To be able to cast any particular spell from the cleric list, a wizard must seek out forgotten demonic grimoires or lost holy texts. Therein, he/she will learn the sacred/blasphemous rites with which to entice power from some particular demon/godling/angel/saint/whatever. (None of these powers will have a monopoly on any particular spell so a character can seek out a different source if a ritual happens to be too repugnant. [Unless, of course, you want a particular power to have that monopoly on a spell for some reason.] These spells are castable daily, in addition to the character's normal magic user spell slots. One cleric spell cannot be traded for another

Here is a short ritual generator, to give you an idea of what sort of rituals I was thinking of…

Just roll three d4s, one d6, and interpretate.  

Click to Enlarge
How often does a caster have to deal with this nonsense?

Level One – Once, perform the appropriate ritual but once.
Level Two – You’re going to need to ritually appease the god-thing annually.
Level Three – Commence with the rituals upon the equinoxes and solstices. (It’s like a quarterly report.) 
Level Four – You gonna need to do that there ritual on the equinoxes and solstices; additionally the spell will require an expensive and/or difficult to acquire material component. The material component is not consumed upon casting. (Examples of material components, statuette of the god from an ancient temple, one pound of discarded hawk feathers, a liar’s pinky finger, ashes from a hero’s funeral pyre, a big-ass ruby, space honey, etc.)
Level Five – Upon the equinoxes and solstices do yer ritual; additionally the spell will require an expensive and/or difficult to acquire material component. The material component is consumed upon casting.
Level Six – The would-be caster must first build a shrine to the god/whatever and perform the appropriate ritual there each month.
Level Seven – The would-be caster must first build a public temple to the god/whatever and perform the sacred ritual there each week.

Alternatively, the caster could convert X number of heathens or corrupt X souls to obtain his/her holy/unholy spells.

X defined by Spell Level
Level One – 2 Souls; Level Two – 4 Souls; Level Three – 8 Souls; Level Four – 16 Souls; Level Five – 32 Souls; Level Six – 64 Souls; Level Seven – 128 Souls.

If a magic user wishes, he/she can give up 2 of his/her 3 starting magic user spells to be able cast a randomly determined Cleric Spell. It will be assumed that he/she already sacrificed enough souls or completed the appropriate ritual or whatever. (This will of course give the character two spells to cast daily at level one but with fewer options.)

Those who master both ritual and academic magics are known amongst the initiated as Wizards. Those who seek the indirect path to mystical strength and rely on fickle entities for power are commonly termed Sorcerers, Witches, or Warlocks. Finally, those who abstain from entanglements of forgotten godlings and other petty spirits term themselves Mage or Magi. (Common folk, of course, simply call them all scary as fuck and burn such folk at the stake [if the common folk think they can get away with it].)

Alright, so if clerical magic comes from demons or angels or whatever, where does the other kind of magic come from?

Do you just want me to design your whole setting too?

Anyway, it comes from the Feywode, Álfheimr, the Land of the Hidden Folk. This is a twisted, dreamscape that mirrors and intersects with the mundane world but is inhabited by fairies, angels, demons, and other weirder things. It’s also full to the brim with “Creation” or “Chaos” or “Terrible Radiation” depending on your perspective.

Academic magic teaches specific, repeatable mental and physical practices which breach this other world and draw off some of its power. This power is then carefully directed by the magic user to accomplish a specific task. 

Every time a magic user learns a new spell from the magic user list, he/she must make a saving throw vs. spell with a penalty equal to the spell level. (At the DM's discretion, wisdom, intelligence, and/or charisma modifiers may be applied to this roll.) If he/she fails this saving throw, roll on your favorite horrible mutations chart. If you are a dick, you can make starting characters roll saving throws for their beginning spells too…

(For my home campaigns, I allow/force magic users to spontaneously learn a single spell when they obtain access to a new spell level. This happens overnight, and the character may sacrifice a night of sleep to feverishly record the spell into his/her spell book. Of course, he/she may instead immediately cast the spell to divulge his/herself of its influence [and therefore not have to chance a roll on the mutations chart].)

And that’s what I’ve decided to do with Clerics and to Magic Users.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess & the LotFP abbreviation are totally © James Edward Raggi IV.