Using the Emphasis System for Priests

There can be all sorts of fun with Clerics and emphases as well. Going back to 2e, the PHB mentions priests of different mythoi. The idea was that priests could be good/okay/poor at combat, have other major and minor powers different from Turn Undead, and have access to spells broken up into spheres of influence. The idea of spheres survived into 3.x and Pathfinder as Domains. I mention this because I'm going to use Domains later as a source of building interesting clerics.

Back to the 2e world for a minute, let's generate a list of spheres. Most of them are from the Priest's Handbook. I broke up Elemental into six different elements because I don't have elemental planes in my house rules. I also added the Moon as a counter to the Sun. Here's the final list:

Air, Animal, Astral, Charm, Combat, Creation, Divination, Earth, Fire, Guardian, Healing, Metal, Moon, Necromancy, Plant, Protection, Summoning, Sun, and Void, War, Water, Wood, Weather.

With this list, we can generate some pretty interesting priests. Whereas the handbook talked about major and minor access to spells, we are going to use +3 and +1 bonuses. Each priesthood would have four high emphases with a +3 bonus and four low emphases with a bonus of +1. Using an example from the Priest's Handbook again, let's have a Cleric that is a protector of animals. They're emphases would be:

Animal +3, Charm +3, Divination +3, Protection +3, Creation +1, Healing +1, Plant +1, War +1

In Swords and Wizardry, some spells are quite obvious for this priest;

  • Cure Light Wounds
  • Light
  • Protection from Evil
  • Snake Charm
  • Speak with Animals
  • Cure Disease
  • Locate Object
  • Prayer
  • Cure Serious Wounds
  • Neutralize Poison
  • Protection from Evil 10' radius
  • Speak with Plants
  • Sticks to Snakes
  • Insect Plague
  • Quest
  • Conjure Animals
  • Find the Path
  • Speak with Monsters
  • Restoration
  • Resurrection
  • Symbol

Going deeper, though, some new spells make sense for this priest. Charm Animals, for instance, a lesser Charm Monster spell. Protection from Plants (for wild vines, jungle crawls and/or plant-based creatures. There's also spells for learning about an animal through divination. This translates to spells that reveal weaknesses in an opponent. The War aspect could be used for Summoning War Dogs, or possibly an ability of the priest to call Divine Hounds to his aid.

For busy people like me, I can also build on other OGL work to come up with some really cool spells options. Here are some links to the Grand OGL Wiki:

Animal Domain, Nine spells are listed because it is based on 3.x games, but it's easy to use these as a source to build seven S&W type spells. My favorite is beastshape.

Charm Domain, Again nine spells that can be easily modified. There's quite a bit here including insanity, suggestion and calm emotions.

Protection Domain, Well looky here, Spell Immunity and Protection from Energy. Very handy spells that also fit the War aspect as well. With choices like these, this could because a popular priest already.

There was an Oracle Domain at some point that functioned like a Divination Domain. The spells for it were: 1st level - identify; 2nd level - augury; 3rd level - divination; 4th level - scrying; 5th level - commune; 6th level - legend lore; 7th level - greater scrying; 8th level - discern location; 9th level - foresight.

Greater Scrying is out just because I don't do Greater Spells. Identify is interesting as well as legend lore and discern location. Foresight can be used for all sorts of things, but I imagine most character would use it for, shall we say, war-like purposes. For this priest that fits just fine. It will take a bit more work, but considering how easy the first three were, it will be worth it.

So here in about 15 minutes, I've sketched out an interesting priest using a random reference to one of my books and the Grand OGL wiki.

It's true, this takes a bit of work, but like the mages under the emphasis system, it creates something unique about each character in a meaningful way.

Now, add in the ability to make Cleric scrolls, and now we have the interesting variations that the mages have. This example priest has a +1 for Healing, which helps, but if he incorporates Animal somehow, it can be interesting. Yes, you could say that humans are animals, so Cure Light Wounds wouldn't be much different. Let's just say, though, that the emblem of the deity is a fox. A scroll could be something like The Healing Fox or The Vulpine Cure. You could describe the spell as forming a mist in the shape of a fox that is inhaled and exhaled. The effect is that the target is healed 2-7 points of damage. Like the mages, the effect is the same, but the description makes in more fun.

Hopefully there will be more tomorrow. This time using the psionic guys.