Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: The Cleric

This is apparently going to be part two of me talking about Dungeon Crawl Classics classes. Today, we're going to be talking about the DCCRPG cleric.  Let me just start this off by saying that I love clerics, and I am happy to see DCCRPG handle them in a way that is honestly pretty great.

First, clerics have a "failure" table just like wizards do. Unlike wizards, clerics do not suffer horrific, permanent mutations and deformities. Rather, they receive relatively minor, temporary effects to reflect the fact that, in failure, they have earned their deity's disapproval. Typically the time required to gain a deity's approval back is just 24 hours, but for some effects it can take up to 1d4 days. But like the wizard, it is resolved randomly, and so occasionally the required atonement action would not make sense with the character (for instance, would an evil god really want an evil cleric to go on a quest to heal the crippled?).

Also unlike the wizard, there are myriad ways for clerics to get around disapproval, and it results in them feeling like much more multifaceted, interesting characters. The base mechanic is that a cleric can cast a spell once per day, but then each additional time the spell is cast it is at a cumulative -1 penalty, ostensibly to represent the increasing burden on the cleric's deity to "intervene." And, of course, each time risking disapproval again.  Penalties can, additionally, be shaved back off by the cleric making sacrifices, usually to the tune of goods worth 50gp, per -1 penalty removed. Additionally, the GM can judge a "great deed, quest, or service to a deity" to be a sacrifice as well. In short, clerics are far more useful than wizards.

Clerics also have some neat little additional abilities for flavor, like how laying on hands works better on characters who share a similar alignment to the cleric than those of opposite alignment; additionally, healing someone of an opposed alignment can count as a "sin," which can curry disfavor from the cleric's deity. For some reason, on the deities list, Cthulhu is there, as a neutral deity, as "Priest of the Old Ones." Clearly, this is not your mother's Cthulhu.

The last perk of DCCRPG clerics over D&D clerics is that turn undead doesn't just turn undead. It has been reskinned as "turn unholy," and then you refer to your deity list to determine what, exactly, the deity constitutes as unholy.  Apparently Cthulhu doesn't like mundane animals OR monsters, OR werewolves, OR perversions of nature, in addition to undead, demons, and devils. So, in short, be a neutral cleric, since your "turn unholy" repels just about everything (...). Hopefully the finished product will have a LOT more details on the deities, because this is pretty sketchy.

The only thing I might add to the DCCRPG cleric would be, on the theme of making sacrifices to stave off penalties, for the cleric to be able to take a stricture which limits or constrains their ability to perform a kind of magic.  For instance, a lawful cleric might worship a god who specifically hates demons, might have an unlimited ability to utilize turn unholy against that specific kind of enemy, maybe at the expense of using any other kind of magic in the interim. Something, at least, to play with. Since there is no paladin in DCCRPG, the cleric sort of functions as both, and should be satisfying as either. The ability to play a neutral or evil cleric is an added bonus.

I went into this expecting to cut into the cleric like I did the wizard, but I'm surprised that honestly, with the system the game sets up, I feel like the cleric works pretty well. I have been reading, by the way, a lot of other people complaining about how single-minded the corruption table is, and a lot of people suggesting building their own custom corruption tables based on the wizard's patron... which seems like a lot of work, at the beginning, but also probably a lot more satisfying in the long run for the player.

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