Alternatives to Spell Lists

Talysman over at The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms wrote about Clerics without Spells almost a year ago. As is his talent, he can produce a simple mechanic that sounds intriguing and fun to play. It's fascinating the almost complete lack of bookkeeping required. Roll 2d6 + (2 * (Cleric Level - HD effect)) >= 9.

Read the post to get the details of the categories as well as the follow-up post with some clarifying details. Really good stuff.

Being a 2e fan, I began to mull how this could work with the idea of Priests of Specific Mythoi. For example, some Clerics do not turn undead, but incite battle rage (God of War). Some Clerics get a Druid-like shape-changing ability.

Under my proposed system, a cleric would choose any six categories. The original categories are: Command, Defense, Disease, Dispelling, Healing, Warning. My additional categories are:

  • Resistance:  Cleric is granted an automatic saving throw against certain types of attacks, energy or a specific class of spells for a number of turns equal to the Cleric's level. Resistance to Posion is a 2 Hit Dice Effect. Resistance to Fire, Cold, Lightning, Acid, and Sonic energy is a 3 Hit Dice effect. Resistance to Psionics is a 4 Hit Dice effect. Resistance to a class of Magic is a 5 Hit Dice effect.
  • Shapechange: Cleric can change into any non-magical, non-planar creature up to the Cleric's level divided by 2 in Hit Dice. For example, at 1st level, a Cleric could change into a fox on a successful roll while a 14th level Cleric could change into any type of bear on a successful roll.
  • Passage: Cleric can travel at normal rate regardless of terrain or physical condition. Examples include, underbrush, forest, sand, ice, snow, wind and more. Forest, hills, deserts, snow and rocky/broken areas are a 2 Hit Dice effect. Wind, mountains, jungles, swamps are a 3 Hit Dice effect. Ice is a 4 Hit Dice effect.
  • Communication: On a successful roll, the Cleric can communicate with any creature or plant. This can only be attempted on an individual creature or plane once. If the attempt fails, it will never succeed, regardless of level advancement and/or number of attempts. The effect lasts for a number of hours equal to the Cleric's level.
  • Favor: The Cleric can grant bonuses to saving throws, Armor Class or attacks to an individual. The Hit Dice effect is twice the bonus. For example, a +1 to Saves is a 2 Hit Dice effect. A +3 is a 6 Hit Dice effect. The effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the Cleric's level.

The rationale for Resistance to certain categories of spells deals with a bias against mages in my campaign world. The reason for the psionics separation is again a campaign world thing. Psionics are the only form of magic available to those that want to use magic. Mages are like d20 sorcerers in that they were born with the ability.

For a couple of the categories, I had to make a table and I'm looking for a way around that. The other option, of course, is to rework the entire system to use the basic mechanic in ACKS. Hmmm.

For weapon choices, I would allow a few weapons that do d4 and two weapons that do d6. A missile weapon can never do more that d4 damage.

It also occurs to me that I could do the same thing with mages using spell types as categories. But if that happens, it will be another post.