Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DCC RPG Opinions Part 3 (Holy Edition)


The cleric and patron systems (including wizard bits) are probably my favorite parts of DCC RPG.  The appreciation is no doubt enhanced by my "not completely satisfied with" attempts at creating divine magic / class that is stylistically and mechanically different than arcane magic, is thematically driven by faith / granted divine power, doesn't pigeon hole clerics as walking med kits, and is not dramatically "alien" to D&D. DCC RPG Clerics are very close to this ideal.

First, from the Law / Neut / Chaos alignment system much excellence flows.

Second, DCC RPG Clerics are squarely in the militant servants of Gee-Oh-Dee camp.
"you will persuade, convert, or destroy ... You adventure to find gold or holy relics, destroy abominations and enemies, and convert heathens to the truth. ... wields the weapons of his faith: physical, spiritual, and magical."
I always wondered wtf Paladin?  Clerics are clearly holy warriors, don't need none other, jump back on your fancypants warhorse and go be chivalrous elsewhere.  Paladins led to the wussification of Clerics into "priests".  Priests are the pansy boys and girls blathering sermons in the temple, burning incense and similar namby-pambyness. Clerics bring the holy whoop-ass unto non-believers.  Who, conveniently, may be found clustered together in dungeons.

Decent to-hit progression, crit tables.  Any armor, unclear if this includes shield but I say, yes.  Clerics use the weapons of their god.  Standard stuff.  Blunty things for Law. Sword (others, but everyone will use sword cause it does most damage) and sling for Neutral.  Axes, bows, dart (feeling some poison up in here), and flail.  Deity specific weapon choice is obvious and easy house rule.

Thanks for visiting the Temple of Set, here's a complementary black widow.

Divine Magic

Limited number of spells known... I can find no mention of how these are determined.  I assume randomly same as Wizard's spells.

At it's core DCC RPG Cleric magic is a "fatigue" system.  There's no hard limit (spell slots) to what you can cast.  Rather, the more you cast the harder and/or riskier it becomes.  Systems, like this, that let you "push your luck" lead to the awesome moments people talk about forever.

Spell check; d20 + Stat mod + Cleric level, look roll up on spell chart.  Each spell has it's own chart.  A spell check > (10 + 2x spell level) results in increasing levels of effectiveness, otherwise fail (god too busy to be bothered by your prayers).  Natural '1' is divine disapproval.   Each failure increases range of disapproval by one.  Disapproval means roll on table (of course). The more you fail by the greater the divine discontent.  Sacrifices may be made to reduce disapproval range.  It resets to one each morning.

Dig that very damn much.  Clerics don't generally lose spells when cast.  Way more spells per day than I'm use to, I'm fine with that.  And, as you will see everything "divine" cleric does is keyed off this same disapproval increase for failure, keep pushing your luck mechanic.

It's not explicitly mentioned (that I could find) that Clerics can use Ritualized Magic, multiple casters increasing power (spell check modifier), but they damn well should.

Turn Unholy

Each alignment turns different types of creatures, they way turning should work and how I house rule it.  Turning checks work off same disapproval system as spells.  Turn all you want pious punk, only risking perturbing your patron.

My god will bitch slap you into next week unholy abomination!

Lay on Hands

Healing is not a spell. [this is huge]  Healing works off same disapproval system as spells. Number of "dice" healed based on success of check.  The dice used are same size as target's hit dice, i.e. fighters are shafted for being meat buckets (I house rule this way already).  All other healing effects (disease, poison, broken limbs, etc) are worked in as needed a minimum number of dice to heal.

Flippin elegant. 

One reason Clerics suck to play is that unless all your spells are cure this or that your party bitches.  And spells is what makes Clerics more than just "weak fighters".  Healing not a spell wipes that away.  Now you can be a walking med-kit and wielder of holy vengeance. 

Divine Aid

Is like a scaled wish, that you have to pay back.  Cleric can ask for anything via direct intervention of their deity.  DM ad hocs a DC.  Deity requests a favor in return, table provided. Go raid my rival's temple. Sacrifice me some loot.  That sort of thing.  It is to be used rarely, imparting a +10 to disapproval range.

Sinful use of Divine Power

It's clearly stated and reinforced by flavor and mechanics that the magic a Cleric wields is not his own.  Clerics are conduits for their god's will. The magic granted to them is a privilege, that will be revoked if used without thought to it's grantor's desires.

We all know this is how divine magic should work, it's rarely enforced.  DCC RPG provides a nice, scaled "punishment matches transgression" hammer for DM to beat players with.  And, interestingly it seems, would allow players to make calculated, tactical abuse of divine gifts.  Count me as a HUGE fan of player choice.  Really, a RPG session is nothing more than a series of player choices.  And with choice there can be failure and only with chance of failure does success taste so sweet.


  1. Divine Disapproval:
    Are there rules for actions that a specific deity would disapprove of?
    For example, a god of merchants would disapprove of charity, a god of love would disapprove of hate crimes, etc.

  2. Actually, that lay-on-hands ability seems to have the same paradox as "spontaneous casting" in Type III: since it's tied to the same scarce resource pool as spell casting, it doesn't matter that the character can have a bunch of spells, as he rest of the party will grumble if that resource isn't devoted to healing. The real kicker is that Type I/Type II clerics could get away with a few non-healing spells and then get to use them, but now everyone knows that every cleric spell is an expenditure of a potential heal, so Type III/DCC clerics are under even more pressure to be walking medkits. In order to patch this the limit needs to be moved to the character receiving the healing (as in Stars Beyond Number and Type IV) or in a seperate resource pool (as with the Paladin's lay on hands ability in most versions of D&D).

  3. @Banesfinger

    No, there are "systems" (and flavor) that make it explicit (and expected by player) that if they don't toe the line (whatever that line maybe).

    I feel, as DM, I can and should be able to decide what types of actions are bad. That's the sort of rules heft I dislike. [it will never cover all situations, it requires a look up, it's easy (for me) to adjudicate on the fly and the type of thing I enjoy being a DM]


    yeah, I see that. It's a gradient of risk, not a finite resource. There's a huge difference between saying "don't cast your last spell cause you'll need it to heal" vs "don't cast cause it might (fatigue is only incurred on spell cast failure) decrease you're likely hood of healing by 5%."

    Healing is no longer "free" for cleric. It incurs risk (at least 5%) of divine disapproval. (Divine) healing will applied judiciously, tactically. Or, cleric will find themselves to be in the holy "penalty box" far too often.

    Also, if non-cleric player wants healing bad enough they can always pay for sacrifice (which reduces fatigue).

    Finally, the amount healing is scaled based on alignment differences. Providing justification in and out of character for cleric to save magic (healing or otherwise) for the faithful.

  4. @Norman Harman
    That's cool; I can certainly appreciate the cool flavor of the DCC cleric, and I do think that switching to an unpredictable resource pool for spells and healing at least mitigates the walking medkit problem, even though it may not solve it.

  5. Did you ever find out how Cleric spells are determined? I just stumbled over this little hole last night while trying to deck out our first Cleric. Seems like that could be covered in the errata. My first interpretation after finding no list of Cleric spells anywhere and seeing the low number of spells, was that they just get to choose the number of spells known from the entire list every morning.


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